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Saturday, November 26, 2016

Now That's Progress

So here I am on the downside of the feast suddenly realizing I hadn't posted a peep since late October. I hate to repeat a refrain like this but .... it's been another hard month. I am getting so tired of hard months, days, weeks, years even! Something is wrong here and I think it isn't "these days" or "the times". I think it's "This Woman". Time to do a little repair work on my happiness generator.

So. According to Miriam-Webster (now a dot com), the go-to font of all definitions in my youth:

Definition of happiness
1 obsolete :  good fortune :  prosperity
2 a :  a state of well-being and contentment :  joy
   b :  a pleasurable or satisfying experience
3:  felicity, aptness

Ahhh - no wonder I didn't feel all that happy in November. First off there was the election, the outcome of which, I dreaded. If my candidate won half the country was going to rise up in protest. If the other candidate won, half the country would rise up in protest. Or else the losing side would hunker down in resentment. Either way, the shriek-fest of American politics had oozed it's dissension and disquiet into almost every cranny of life.  This was no state of well-being.

Then - there was a difficult personal issue I was trapped in - one of those rock-and-a-hard-place things that was going to hurt me because I felt pressed between, well, a rock and a hard place. Okay - nothing I can do about that but wait for time to do it's thing.

Then there was the Next Stage of my final big work project - that had to be done, that I was anxious about, even though I had lots of reasons to think it would turn out well. (It did, btw) Ha! It reminds me of October when, at the end of the month, there was another Big Deal Thing I had to do, feared the outcome of, and found afterwards that I'd foolishly worried about bad stuff that never happened.

Well, that Next Stage culminated in a perfectly wonderful evening last Monday - one that has left me feeling very uplifted. Not that other uplifting good things had failed to sprinkle my days. They had. A visit with a very lovely friend, a baby shower for my beautiful daughter-in-law, a long afternoon spent with a beloved sister. Those things were helpful, but before I could accept the gift that was last Monday, something in me was going to have to shift. Fortunately I had been guided by some guardian angel, or magic sprite, or divine and loving hand, to check out a book on tape by Joyce Meyer about changing the way you think. She has written so many books about changing the way you think I can't remember which title I listened to, and no. The library does not keep a record of what people have been reading, not even the director. If we don't collect that data it can't be subpoenaed. Meyer is a prolific Christian author and of course, this book has an entirely biblical foundation, with which I am somewhat neutral. I have my own spiritual path, that sort of fits in the mainstream Christian frame, but is far more based upon  Giovanni Guareschi's Christ in his Don Camillo stories than on the dogma of more formal religions - even if Don Camillo is a Catholic priest. No. I was looking for my action plan, my next right step, the kick-start to lifting that miasma of dread that seemed to be hanging over me.

Image result for slough of despondThe Black Slough Of Despond (Pilgrim's Progress) is a place that lurks out there on the fringes of my life.  I have been perilously close to it ever since Mama died. It is very easy for me to yield to its stickiness - it almost feels like an indulgence. Once in, it can take a long time to escape and I do a lot of collateral damage while I'm wallowing.

Ms Meyer has no patience with that though. She has a drill sergeant's voice and she is quick to say "stop thinking so wrongly".  And do it by starting every day with 5 good thoughts about yourself and your life and your world - but mostly yourself. And then say thank you for it.

So little. So simple. So powerful. And So.

Related imageI have been doing that now for about 10 days. There were things I dreaded during these 10 days. There were things I actually chose to delay, regardless of consequences. And by the 6th day I was ready to accept the compliment that last Monday was. And by today, as I lay in bed, listing the 5 good thoughts and saying thanks for them,  that load lifted.  I was ready to lighten up on myself and ... what's this? ... treat myself with the same kindness I try to treat others. Oh my. If this keeps up - who knows? I might start sailing under those sunny skies of The Place of Deliverance, if not the Celestial City itself. 

Saturday, October 29, 2016

The Voices Of Women

I grew up in an all girl house. My poor daddy had more pink undershirts - which we wore all the time instead of nightgowns, and which were constantly being tossed in the wash with our red clothes and coming out just the right shade of girlie-girl pink. He had 4 pink ones for every white one. He was always such a good sport about it but then, secretly, I always thought he had a really strong feminine side. When he got enough of us girls he'd put on an army uniform and head off to a reserves meeting. Sometimes I think he went just to get away from us. We were never sorry to see him go because ....

I grew up in an all girl house.

Girl power was so potent in our house that we even swapped the words around from the old Snips and Snails and Puppy Dog Tails rhymes. One we used to quote was "Girls are dandy, made of candy, Boys are rotten, made of cotton."  Daddy would swap it around and say that Boys were made of candy and we'd shriek with laughter and go grab A Rocket In My Pocket (the origin of that one) and prove to him that it was Boys who were Rotten! Once when a sturdy little neighbor boy was playing in our yard Daddy tried to enlist his support by asking him if Boys weren't dandy, made of candy.  Daddy would turn pink himself, with laughter, every time he'd tell that story, which was often - and admit that he knew he was lost forever when little Chris Chavisty looked at him in horror and said indignantly, while making muscles in his skinny little 6 year old arms, "Boys aren't made of candy. Boys are Tough. They're made of Iron and Steel!"

Poor Daddy.

Lucky me. I loved living in that feminine world. I loved it that nobody clomped through the house. I loved it that you never had to explain yourself to someone who asked "Why are you reading that book again?" or "What do you want white go-go boots for? They won't keep the rain out."

I mean - who the heck needs an explanation for white go-go boots?

I had enough girl friends growing up, but I never really had to look for a girlfriend because there was always some girl in the house who could be your friend, once she got over being mad at you for cutting your paper dolls out in the middle of the bedroom and blowing the little white snips over onto her side. When I was a grown woman with a guy husband and a (boy) baby and a broken down car, but no money, I had no idea why I was so unhappy till I was invited to a baby shower for a girl I didn't even know. Surrounded by all those women, in that room filled with soft feminine voices and graceful gestures - even with the laughter and excitement of a party - I realized that if I don't have girls living in my house I better be sure I have girlfriends I can go spend time with. I will forever be grateful for those sweet ladies at the Baptist Church who invited me to that baby shower. They had no idea how badly I needed them. Happily I met a soul mate woman a scant few weeks later and I was good to go for the rest of my life. We're still friends, though our lives have taken us in different directions and since that lonely year of the broken down car, I've made sure I carved out time to cultivate girlfriends and spend time with them.

Image result for tattingYesterday I took a class on tatting - a kind of lace making using thread and a shuttle and tying knots over tiny rings of thread and then joining them in a pattern. It is, so far, the only fiber art that has defeated me and it brought me to my knees again over the course of 6 hours of trying. I managed to make 3 little circles of 10 knots each - which means that it took me 12 minutes to tie the each knot successfully. (Love me some tatting math)

I have always been successful at both the mental skill of reading and following directions and the kinesthetic skill of manipulating small tools.  Even the ugly babies I made when I first began to spin were at least yarn - and I mastered the rudiments of spinning after watching the first 20 minutes of a video. Surely a class in tatting was all I needed to get the hang of this ... NOT. 

I did grasp what needed to be done to be successful, but these old eyes just couldn't see when what was happening suddenly unhappened. I still think I could learn this but it will take time and  a level of concentration I don't have to give it right now. Other things I already do well are clamoring for my attention and I can always do this next year - at Tara. 

But the beautiful gift I did bring home from yesterday's class (at the delightful Rice's Hotel-Hughlett's Tavern ) was the delicious sensation of being in a room full of women doing beautiful things with their hands in a quiet gentle atmosphere. 

Ohhhhhhhhh I love that feeling - that sound of quietness - of busy hands - that experience of feminine creativity. It was like my childhood home after Daddy went off to his mysterious DaddyWorld. It was the most restful relaxation - in spite of the utter failure of my hands. It didn't matter. It was worth it just to be there with other ladies doing something with string.

I have other girlfriends and we share books and health and exercise and family. We share time and advice and experiences and love. But I don't have any makerr friends right now - no fiber friends - no arty ones - and I have missed that. So one more thing I plan to do - someday - at Tara - will be to spend time in a room full of women who make beautiful things with their hands.