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I Am Still Here

When my little ones are watching TV these days, they aren’t interested in the traditional networks.  They seldom even ask for Nick Jr. or Disney anymore.  Instead, they want Netflix.  As it plays, every so often, it asks, “Are You Still Watching?” and I have to go push the button on the remote.  Well, actually, I’ve taught Damion to do it himself, but I still do it for the others.  

The other day, it occurred to me that my blogs are sitting here asking, “Are you still there?”  Every so often, Facebook tells me I haven’t posted to my writing page in a while and I really should do something.  I just don’t seem to find the time….or, actually, I just haven’t been making the effort.  

So, today, I’ve decided I need to let the world know that I am still functioning, just not as efficiently as I should.  So, here I am.  It’s Sunday afternoon.  I don’t have any childcare responsibilities, I have decided to skip the Veteran’s Day parade, the church website is updated.  I have checked email and Facebook.  The supper menu is simple and only takes about half an hour to fix.  It’s quiet and I need to get back to writing. 

Actually, I’ve been thinking about it for a month or so.  Jim nags me every once in a while because I’ve left posting to the Roadtrip blog that we share entirely up to him for months.  My reminders to check the Flash Fiction sites for prompts every week still pop up regularly.

I do have the time.  Not always in predictable blocks, but it could be organized.  I usually have from around 9am until 1pm on Monday, the whole day after around 9am on Wednesdays, all day Saturdays and most Sunday afternoons free. Plus, on Thursday and Friday between 11am and 2pm, I mostly only have Elaina, who is four, and doesn’t require a lot of attention.  In addition, Ashley (Damion and Elaina’s mom) gets off work at 4pm.  I am almost always free by 4:30 every day. 

I could be writing.  I have, at least, a couple of hours every day.  I just haven’t felt inspired.  No, that’s an excuse.  I’ve just been stagnating,  drifting in a swamp of disorganization.   Using the excuse of playing taxi for the kids to avoid exercising my brain.  Instead, I have been reading for hours every day.

So, yes, I am still here.  I’ve just been watching instead of doing, reading instead of writing. I will force myself to step outside the inertia of the past few months and make my presence known.  Stay tuned for further updates.

 

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Categories: For Your Consideration, Random Thoughts | 1 Comment

Excuse Me, Please

I need a moment or two, maybe a week or so.  Davie was the wall at my back as much as anyone else’s.  Maybe even more because we shared a home, although we each had our own space and didn’t spend our days or evenings together because we didn’t have the same taste in TV shows and we only ate in the diningroom when we had family over.  So, whoever cooked would tell the other when food was ready.  We’d fill our plates and go our separate ways for the evening.  

He did more than half the cooking.  Which meant he planned that many of the meals.  He did almost all the kitchen cleanup.  We shared the monthly shopping, but he did most of the daily or weekly stuff.  I gave him money every month, but it wasn’t nearly half of the living expenses.  

When I came back from North Carolina before Mama died, he said that it would cost him the same amount for the house expenses whether I was here or not.  He didn’t even want me to help pay for groceries because he said I didn’t eat enough to matter.  I guess, compared to his diet, that may have been true.  All he wanted was my share of the group insurance and cell phone accounts.  I insisted on giving him more than that, but he carried most of the load.  That was Davie.  

We each did our own laundry and kept our own bathrooms.  The livingroom, diningroom, and office were my responsibility.  We never discussed it or planned it.  That’s just the way it worked.  Now, it doesn’t.  My daily routine is the same, but it isn’t.  I keep having to remind myself of the things I need to add to my schedule because he’s not here.  

My head is constantly jumping from place to place. I have so many changes and decisions to make that I can’t concentrate on any one thing for long.  Pardon me while I find my footing here.  I used to shake my head at women who let their husbands handle everything and were lost when they died.  I never realized how close to doing the same thing I was with my brother.

It’s not that I don’t know how to handle the household expenses and routines.  I can do it and I will.  I just need a little time to get organized.  In the meanwhile, my mind isn’t interested in cooperating when I try to come up with topics and write about them.  It has more pressing concerns.  So, excuse me while I find a way to fill the gaps and put my life back together.  I will be posting again soon.

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Taking Stock

Terri McCarty Jones, a friend of mine from church, recently asked a series of questions on Facebook:

“Just curious. How many of you feel that you are doing exactly what you are supposed to be doing with your life? Do you have a career or a calling or a combination of the two? Is there something else you wish you would have done other than what you are doing now? What factors charted your course?

Working with the high school CYF and knowing they are going to be going forth into the world and making decisions that will impact their futures makes me curious as to how many of us are overall truly satisfied with what we are doing with our lives. I’m sure some of you took a circuitous route to get where you are now while others seem to have known from childhood the path to take. Any wisdom shared will be greatly appreciated!”

I found it an interesting topic for conversation and decided to present it to a wider audience.  I personally, wanted nothing except to be a wife and mother when I was a teenager.  I said no when a friend of my mother’s offered to pay for me to go to college.  My mother thought I should be a teacher, which was her dream that was interrupted by the Great Depression.  Her friend had no children and was well off.  I had always made good grades in school and they thought I should have a career.  I wasn’t the least bit interested.  Instead, the summer between my sophomore and junior years of high school, I got married.  Two years later, I graduated just one month before the birth of my first son.  

I was set on the path I had planned for myself and even the divorce that came ten years and three children later didn’t alter that goal.  I found a job, but I also started shopping for a new husband, almost immediately.  Wife and mother was what society told me I should want to be, when I was growing up, and it was all I could see then.  Why waste all that time and effort in college and building a career, to just turn it off when I got married?  Why not just get married and be done with it?

Back then, even girls who went to college were expected to be looking for husbands along the way.  We were fully indoctrinated to be wife and mother.  Things have changed somewhat since then, but we still hear a lot about “biological clocks,” the search for “the perfect mate,” and the new goal of “having it all.”  

While those of us who grew up with limited expectations may be looking around and wishing we had all the possibilities that are now available, things today are much more confusing for young people.  That includes boys as well as girls.  In those “good ole days,” young men were expected to follow in the footsteps of their elders.  If they couldn’t manage a college education, their father, uncle, or family friend would get them a low level job with their own employer, so that the youngster could “learn a trade.”  I suppose that still happens to an extent, but attitudes are much different than they used to be.

Today, young people feel a pressure to decide for themselves what career they want.  A daunting task for someone whose biggest decision to date has been what to wear to school and which movie to see on the weekend.   They are told, “You can be anything you want to be, if you are willing to work for it.”  It sounds good to those of us who had limited choices.  I’m sure, it can be scary to someone who is faced with that broader decision.   I have watched many young people try to decide which way to go and they tend to fail.  They will, mostly, give up on their “dream job” and settle for what they can find in the real world.  There just aren’t that many positions open for Rock Stars or Ballerinas.  Major league sports teams don’t have room for every child who loves to play.  Fashion designers are few in number and far away from middle America.  In the final analysis, most kids have to “settle” for something along the way and “find themselves” later.  

There came a time when I realized that I wasn’t really cut out to be “wife.”  It required a level of submission to the needs of a partner that I couldn’t accept.  I gave up that dream.  Mommy isn’t something you can resign from, but it is a temporary job.  The day comes when those precious little toddlers become rebellious teenagers who don’t want or need a “mom” hanging around all day.   You still maintain the title, but the duties become more or less honorary.  

As a single mother, I had found jobs I could do.  None of them were my “dream job.”  By the time I found what that could have been, the children were more important and the two were incompatible.  It is very difficult to become a Systems Analyst, who travels to distant parts of the country for weeks or months at a time designing and setting up new computer systems, with youngsters in school.  

I turned my attention to more sensible jobs, still within my field of interest, and went on with my life.  Eventually, my lack of formal education limited my opportunities for advancement even in those positions.  So, I retired from my “job” and went back to school.  More than 40 years after I graduated high school, I finally found a use for college.  

It was while taking basic requirement courses, that I discovered my true passion, a love of writing.  I had always loved to read and was in awe of the ability of some writers to tell a story.  While I never kept a formal journal, I knew that I sometimes needed to put my thoughts down on paper.  I always found it easier to write than to talk.  I just never considered making it a career.  My English professors were very encouraging.  Even those courses that weren’t really about writing required essays, term papers, and research.  I came to love research.  It’s still one of my favorite pastimes.  

I may never become a paid author, certainly not a well-known or “best selling” one.  But it doesn’t matter.  I am retired now.  I get by financially.  More money would be nice, but it isn’t a goal.  I just like writing.  I now spend my days between “mothering” my great grandchildren and writing: blog posts, a prayer journal, plans for a couple of novels that will probably never see the light of day.  It doesn’t matter.  The joy is in the creation of words, sentences, paragraphs, pages of text.  The telling of the story, true or imaginary, is the thing.  

So, I guess my answer to the above questions would be: Yes, I am doing exactly what I should be doing with my life.  It is a combination of a part of my original goal and what I found along the way.  I sometimes wonder what would have happened if I had been able to make different choices when I was young.  

In college, I also discovered a love of Physics.  I’m not sure I have the mental acuity to have made it a career but, if I had been exposed to it in high school, I might have accepted that opportunity to go to college.  Even if Physics didn’t work out, I might have discovered my love of writing in time to have made that a lifetime career.  Either of those possibilities would have made my life very different. Better?  There’s no way to know.  But, I can’t wish for it.  After all, that would wish away my five children, all my grandchildren and my precious greats.  I can’t even wish away my two failed marriages for the same reason.  

My life went as it should.  I didn’t know when I was 15 how it would turn out.  No one can.  All you can do is the next thing.  Expose yourself to as many paths as possible.  Take the one in front of you, but watch for side branches.  You never know what you’ll find along the way.

How about you?  Join the conversation.  Leave a comment below.  

 

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Categories: For Your Consideration, Inspiration, Meditations, Memoirs | 1 Comment

Mourning with My Privilege

I thought I was done with the Privilege topic, but then I read about the churches being attacked in Egypt.  This is Holy Week.  We’ve gone to worship every day and twice on Maundy Thursday.  Not once did any of us worry that we might be targeted.  I know that Muslims, Jews and even Black Christians in this country can’t always say the same.  I am grateful for my Privilege in knowing that I can worship in safety.  On this Good Friday, as we remember Jesus’ sacrifice on our behalf, I pray the day will come when all God’s people will have such Privilege.

As part of my Lenten commitment, I’ve been reading “He Chose the Nails”  and “On Calvary’s Hill” by Max Lucado.  Lucado emphasizes the fact that Jesus knew, even before He started His ministry, how it would end.  I am wearing black today as a symbol of my mourning for the fact that I fear, if Jesus came back today, we’d kill Him again.  After all, He was a Middle Eastern religious fanatic who taught that we should all be living by God’s law.

He was executed by the method of the day because of fear and political expediency.  The fact that he expected it and was prepared to sacrifice himself doesn’t alter that fact.  For more than 250 years, His followers were also persecuted and killed by the popular methods.  In the middle ages, Europeans, professing Christianity, killed thousands to “free the holy land” from the Jews and Muslims who had always lived there.  Today, we have leaders promoting discrimination against people for their religious beliefs, just as those early Christians suffered under the Romans, the Muslims suffered during the Crusades, and the Jews suffered in Germany during World War II.  

While I may not always agree with the teaching of other religious organizations, including some Christian ones, I fanatically declaim their right to hold their beliefs in peace as long as they allow others to do the same.  Whether or not we agree with them, we have no right to judge, only God is supposed to do that.  

There is only one God, people.  The fact that others call Him by different names, doesn’t mean it’s a different being.  We have many names for Him ourselves.  In Spanish, it’s Dios; in French, it’s Dieu; in German, Gott; in Swedish, Gudaväsen; in Russian, Boga; all from Christians.  The fact that Islamic nations say Allah, doesn’t make it a different God, any more than Jews saying Jehovah or Yahweh does.  We all worship the God of Abraham.  

We adhere to different teachings, claim different prophetic voices, but we start from the same beginning and we should respect the fact that others could only take the path that was before them as they searched for a relationship with the only God that exists.  We are instructed to go forth and preach the gospel, not to condemn those who do not accept our proselytizing.  Our only concern should be our personal relationship with our Lord, not the correctness of other people’s beliefs.  

Rant over.  I cannot judge those who do not agree with me, even those whose actions are based on obvious prejudices.  God is in charge, whether the majority of people choose to believe it or not.  He gave us free choice because He wanted us to choose to love Him and live by His commandments.  I am sure He is saddened by the state of His world today.  I know I am.

This is not the post I had planned for this week.  That one got bumped to next week.  Come back then.

 

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Privilege Part 3

As Americans, we have privileges that we frequently take for granted or completely ignore.  We can complain, whine, or rant about things we dislike from politics to prices. It may not do much good, but we won’t, usually, be threatened with arrest because of it.  We can vote, but too many of us don’t bother.  We can choose what jobs we want to do, how we want to dress, who we want to have for friends, what religion we prefer to practice or not.

Most all of us have privileges of one kind or another.  Privileges that we take for granted or don’t even realize other people don’t have.  It is part of the human psyche to think our lives are the norm and everyone else has the same benefits that we do.  

We may see other people’s privilege that we don’t enjoy and feel envious.  But, other than the homeless (Who we tend to think are there because of their own faults.), we usually assume that everyone else’s life is the same as ours.   Most of the people we associate with have the same privileges we do.  We seldom think of how different it can be for those outside our circle or even some within it.

What is life like for the couple who aren’t able to have children?  How is the young mother who just got divorced coping with custody arrangements and a reduced income level?  How does the couple of mixed race or religion deal with the prejudices that they run into? What effect does that stress have on their relationship?  What is it like to need to explain to a six year old why some people don’t allow their children to play with her?  

There are so many ways that we are privileged and as many ways that we are not.  When I was younger, the majority opinion was that I was privileged to be naturally slim.  It didn’t feel like privilege to me though.  I knew that 104 pounds at 5’6″ was too skinny, but I couldn’t gain weight.  No matter how much or what I ate, I never gained a pound.  I never had to worry about getting rid of “baby weight” because I weighed exactly the same after my children were born as I did before I got pregnant.  People who have trouble controlling their weight would call that a blessing, to me, it was a curse.

Then, I quit smoking and going dancing on weekends.  I turned 50.  My natural metabolism slowed down and I gained 75 pounds in less than a year.  Ever since, I’ve been struggling to keep the weight off.  It seems there is no middle ground.  But, I call it a privilege that I was able to arrest the gain, have been at a stable size for the past 10 years, and my health is good.  At 74 years old, I take no prescription drugs, have no major health problems, and am not in daily pain.  That is privilege of the best kind.

Your privilege isn’t something to be ashamed of or feel guilty about.  It isn’t your fault that other people have problems you don’t.  They may also have privilege that you don’t.  The important things are to realize your privilege,  to know that not everyone is fortunate in the ways you are, to stop and think before judging others, to believe that your viewpoint and experience may make it difficult for you to understand their actions and reactions.  Check yourself for privilege and then give others some leeway in your expectations.

Wikipedia says that “Privilege is a social theory that special rights or advantages are available only to a particular person or group of people.”  Perhaps that is accurate as far as it goes, but I think whoever posted that page is privileged to have a narrow view of the subject.  

How privileged are you?  I took this quiz on Buzz Feed as research for these articles.  I scored 52 out of 100 possible points.  My results say that I am “quite” privileged.  I am not bragging.  I am feeling very humble.  I count myself privileged in every sense of the word and I hope that I have empathy for those who are less fortunate. 

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Categories: For Your Consideration, Meditations | 2 Comments