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Living with “No”

20 Sep

It wasn’t too long ago that my husband and I were living with, “Yes.”  And with, Yes, came some fun opportunities.  Hollywood parties, cavorting with celebrities.  Travel possibilities.  In fact, Yes is quite fun to be around.  She is very pleasing on the eyes.  Her scent is fresh throughout the day.  Yes is never tired, she is never boring.  She is a grand adventure!  The morning was exciting to wake up to, while she made our life her home.  But then slowly, one packed suitcase at a time, she began her move away from our world.  Oh she was kind about her departure.  Never once did she utter an unkind word.  She left no abrasive lesions upon us, and even her scent lingered for a while–long after her goodbye was said.  I miss her as our house guest.  Her presence brought sunshine when the sky provided none.  She, was a friend I like to have.  “Yes” is good company.

…now we are living with “No.”

No, is not so bad.  He, too, is not unkind.  Nor is he selfish.  But No, is blase.  He bears no scent.  He shines no light.  Being with him provides no adventure.  And travel does not seem to be to his liking.  And while he is a part of our life, our chores seem more abundant.  The spring in our step not so springy.  The gray of the day permeates, and sleep does not bring sufficient rest.  Though I would prefer to exchange his presence for his predecessor, it seems the good Lord has it in His will for us to entertain the present house guest a while longer (another aspect to No is the end of his stay is occluded, thus leaving us in the dark as to when he departs).

I honestly wouldn’t mind his living with us so much, but while having him here I have picked up certain habits that I’m not too fond of.  For instance, while living with Yes, I was motivated to care for myself and invest in activities that provoked excitement.  Waking up to No every day, I am struggling to even remember what those things were that used to motivate me.  Funny thing is, No doesn’t take up too much space but his stature hovers over much of our life.  So much so that I find myself pulling in ear marks of Yes, such as in my clothing, to help offset the drudgery of No.  For instance, I have resurrected my 1970’s floral print pants and am wearing them in circumstances of monotony (such as to the Long Beach VA).  Vintage Floral Pants

I have also taken to wearing a dress while walking the dogs.  Who needs exercise clothing when one can sweat in style!  I admit, the Nike’s are not the best accessory to my Leon Max creations, nor my Brian Bent’s for that matter.  But I am finding a glimmer of joy within the sheer absurdity of how I look as I ambulate, perspire, and shine while ‘Mutt and Jeff’ tag along on leash. 🙂

Fashion by Brian Bent

A Brian Bent original

I even thought I would fool my freeloading boarder by deciding to grow out my hair.  That’s right, my hair grows whether No wants it to or not.  However,  yesterday as I was readying myself to leave the house my daughter shyly asked, “Do you like your hair like that?”  To which I answered, “NO.”  With a sigh of relief she said, “Oh good.”  ‘Oh good’ was all she gave me…obviously the influence of Yes had worn off of even her.

So here I am, living with No.  He is a tough guy to be around.  And to help offset the heaviness of his presence, I am learning how to use new tools.  You know, the ones in the toolbox that are there but one hopes to not have to use.  One such tool is the “art of redirecting.”  That is right, I am redirecting my thoughts to the time of Yes, when I am faced with another No answer.  Another such tool is the “reminder wrench.”  The reminder wrench is used when thoughts of abandonment try to ease their way into my soul.  I take the wrench and use it to remember the word of encouragement from the Holy Word that says, “I shall never leave you nor forsake you” (Deut 31:6).  And, from the 55th chapter of the book of Isaiah:

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the Lord.
“As the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.
10 As the rain and the snow
come down from heaven,
and do not return to it
without watering the earth
and making it bud and flourish,
so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater,
11 so is my word that goes out from my mouth:
It will not return to me empty,
but will accomplish what I desire
and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.
12 You will go out in joy
and be led forth in peace;
the mountains and hills
will burst into song before you,
and all the trees of the field
will clap their hands.
13 Instead of the thornbush will grow the juniper,
and instead of briers the myrtle will grow.
This will be for the Lord’s renown,
for an everlasting sign,
that will endure forever.”

The ‘reminder wrench’…a good tool!  I know there are other tools still in the box, untouched.  It could be that I will have to peruse the contents and learn, yet another, instrument of peace, motivation, excitement, and elation before the year is through.  But for now, the ‘redirector’ and the ‘reminder wrench’ are doing the trick.  I have even borrowed a necessary item from my neighbor…the tire pump.  Yep, the tire pump is a good tool to have on hand for when No takes a nap.  Oh the places to go with just a few pumps of air.  More on that next time…

Raleigh bicycle

My Raleigh and Me

Shut The Hell Up!

8 Aug

This past weekend I had the pleasure of traveling north to Santa Barbara and meeting my sister and her friend for the weekend.  As we perused the street vendors and kitschy wall hanging plaques we laughed out loud as we read the crass slogans which illuminated truths about our lives.  For instance, one plaque had a picture of a woman in an apron and alongside her read, “The menu for the night? Take it or leave it!”

Now fast forward to Sunday evening when I was again home and surrounded by my motley family (dogs and all), we had a visitor who happens to be expecting her seventh child.  She had a moments reprieve from her “little birds” and came over to our house for a visit (because she acquiesced to my daughter’s request, not because she had some free time with nothing to do!);  now as the dinner hour fast approached, the subject of feeding the family was laid out on the table.  And of course with that subject comes much comedy especially when two or more mothers are gathered and interject their own trials in nutritiously satisfying the varying palates of their brood.  So it was with appropriate context that I shared the kitschy plaque about “take it or leave it.”  To which my friend answered, “I don’t want that plaque, I want one that says, Shut the Hell Up!”  Now you have to understand why this is so funny to me…it is because my dear friend, who has six little ones with another gaining speed, is such a loving mother and wife.  Her passion is taking care of her family and loving the great I AM.  So this crass response was just absolutely hysterical (my word choice here is no coincidence for those of you who love language, look up the etymology of hysterical and you will understand its perfect fit), and of course I love her rendition of the plaque much more than the original.

In fact, I have found myself uttering those very words this morning…

I was in the bathroom, having some private time (or so it should have been), the door was closed and the fan was on (now that should be clue enough for everyone to get the gist of what I was doing in the loo) when my husband decided to have a sit down near the door and converse with me about details of, who knows–I can’t remember, all I remember is the subject was not pressing and the details could have, should have, and would have to wait!!  In that moment, just about an hour ago, I found myself thinking the uttering of my friend, “shut the hell up”!  Now I realize it could be argued that a response such as that is warranted given the circumstance of the situation, however, I personally feel that such abrupt and rude language is never the appropriate manner in which to respond; so I didn’t use it…out loud.  But I thought it.

And the fact that I thought it bothers me.  I will tell you why.

There is an old adage that goes something like this:
“Be careful what you think because your thoughts become your words.  Your words become your actions, and your actions become your character.  And character is everything.”  So truth be told, my thought life has been a bit polluted for a while now.  And when considering the truth of the referenced proverb, I am in for some trouble if I don’t let the thought police come and do a bit of housecleaning.  I am in trouble because I don’t like the slippery slope of negativity that the “shut the hell up” response suggests.  No, not the “shut the hell up” said in a humorous context of kitschy plaques and dinnertime, but the “shut the hell up” thought toward my happy go lucky husband who is undeserving of such a response.  Actually, he is undeserving of me nurturing such responses, as is the rest of my family, as are my neighbors, as are the anonymous drivers on the road, as is the community in which I live or travel to, as is my G-d, as is myself.

Granted, my husband sitting outside the bathroom door while I’m taking care of “business” is definitely not a habit I intend to encourage.  But I will employ a gentler attitude when I stand firm upon the platform of “absolutely not.”  And the impetus to my decision is this:  love builds up, it does not tear down.  If I allow “shut the hell up” to fall from my lips upon the ears of any one of my beloveds, then I have failed to express the true essence of love.  So I avow at this moment to climb up the rope of the slippery slope backwards and by doing so redirect the course of my actions.

Thought Police, permission granted to come aboard!

Choosing My Stride

5 Jul

I had thoughts of writing a post about where I stand in the gluten-free diet regimen; the migraines, and how my junk science is panning out.  In fact, in the past week, I have concluded almost daily to write a new post with regard to the dietary subject–to no avail.  Yet, I ask myself (and you as well), how can I write a post on what now seems a frivolous subject when I have had heavier pressing matters before me?  I mean really, it doesn’t make sense to take to the black keys and formulate an anecdotal strategy for myself and share it with all of you when I have the effects of domestic violence present in my immediate path along with the continued health trauma of my son.

No, the glutton of the gluten must be cast aside.

My son?  Well, we meet with a specialist tomorrow who will hopefully initiate the diagnostic process to put him on his way to a better quality of life, within his newly disabled quality he is presently entertaining.  More to come on that as it pans out.

The domestic violence scenario?  A sad, and unfortunately, not so unfamiliar tale.  There are many a woman who have endured the tumult brought forth from the psychological and physical effects of brutalization within the home.  Not to mention the children who bear witness to, as well as endure, the cycle.    From my observation, if a woman (and offspring) can get out of the situation early on, she (and them) have a much greater chance of breaking the pattern and developing a healthy relational perspective.  The longer the lady is in the bloody mess, the deeper the damage–to all parties–and passing the sickness onto the heirs becomes more probable than had the violent interaction been eradicated within the formative years of the relationship.  And believe me, verbal bullying equates to violence; so let it be written that verbal and physical abuse share similar platforms of destruction.  I have been witness to this truth and will not back down on the statement.

So how can I come to my blog with tidbits about wheat when I have just left the office of a high profile criminal attorney who was referred to me through a connection from my friend, Tanya Brown (younger sister of Nicole Simpson)?  I mean who cares about grains when a childhood friend, and her children, have been subject to such despicable acts of violence that now, in despair, are requiring legal representation due to false allegations from their perpetrator.  …a story Tanya and the Brown family know too well and again, unfortunately, so does the criminal “justice” system.  To answer the questions (rhetorical though they may be), I can’t.  I can’t talk about my dietary functions or dysfunctions when there are these types of subjects crossing my path.

And because this circumstance is not new to my life, I have had the opportunity to become acquainted with the organization, Human Options (as you can see on my home page).  Human Options does a very good job of taking the women (and children) into their safe house, protecting them, educating them, nurturing their bodies and souls, and advocating for healthy change within each life that steps over their threshold.  Their success statistics are compelling–90% of their “clients” never return to a violent situation.  Within the world of altruistic organizations, theirs is a statistic worthy of praise.  In other words, they are doing something right.  And yet the hardest task is getting the adult victim to risk a better life by giving up the comfort of brutality.  Make no mistake, the perversity of the previous sentence was intended because it showcases the “skewed perspective” which ensues the cycle of violence within the home.

My friend’s husband came from a home where his childhood was riddled with severity, or cruelty.  He knows only one way; his inheritance is being passed on.   If only she would have taken the risk for life sooner…if only.  Yet even for her, it is not too late, though I worry for her stability.  She has drunk the poison for so long now that the sickness has infiltrated her mind and her judgement is marred.  Her idealism is now her foe, and she needs help.  Though her circle of support is dwindling down to those of us who stand behind our vow of friendship, support she does have.  We are few, but we are mighty!

So here is where I ask, “Am I choosing my stride, or is it choosing me?!”  To answer, I think I will go and eat a gluten enriched bagel, an onion flavored one fresh from Western Bagel in Los Angeles (thanks Aunt Susie).  And in the meantime, please take a few moments to watch the attached video.  Let’s not let another “if only” slip on by.

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