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“you’re my favorite pain in the ass.” merely-a-thought monday

you're my favorite

we bought it on our honeymoon.  we knew, even by then, that we would need this sign’s lighthearted truth to remind us – some days – of what we even liked about each other.  in these days of isolation it’s front and center.

these are profoundly difficult times.  without the balance of getting out or having a little space, we are all finding ourselves in close isolation with the others in our home.  we two, here, are often together 24/7.  we work together in a variety of capacities, so we have gotten a little more accustomed to the dynamics than, say, some of you who have been thrown into the deep end with no feathering of getting-used-to-the-water time.  but…that doesn’t mean it’s always pretty.  so we are all here, separately together, figuring it out.

we wonder about the future.  we worry.  we stew.  we get excited.  we get scared.  we get weary.

the stress level is palpable.  you can feel the world out-there functioning at a completely different frequency than it had been.  it is like that high pitch in your ears, making you teeter on yelling, “make it stop”.  we all try to go with the flow, try to make the best of it.  we are fortunate to be here together, at home, in a safe place.  we seek ways to stay relevant and do meaningful work.  we follow stay-at-home orders.  we reach out to visit, virtually, with our family and friends.  we video-conference with colleagues.  we wear leggings and sweatpants on a daily basis.  my boy, in a city with ever-exponentially-growing-covid-19-numbers, said that’s a given – sweats, sweats, sweats and the perfunctory button-down shirt.  we know what’s visible and what’s not.  we desperately hope for the best.  we get in each other’s way.  we help each other.  we brainstorm new ways to cope, new ways to work, some with steep learning curves.  we sigh.  we take naps, tired and wrung out.  all are true.

we wonder about the future.  we worry.  we stew.  we get excited.  we get scared.  we get weary.

and we try to stay in touch.  we desperately miss our children, our family, our friends, the people in our day-to-day life route.

even in times of ‘normal’, if my daughter, whose home is in a covid-19 hotspot and whose work, like too many, has been decimated, texts me with no punctuation and clipped answers, i know i have either a) stepped past the edge of the chatting time limit b) asked too many questions c) said something completely too mom-ish or d) encountered her at a time she needs space for herself.  no matter which option, it’s smart (and in my best interest) to back up.  she, just like my son, knows she is loved beyond words and i know that, in order for me to stay loved, or, er, tolerated, i need to utter less painintheass words.  but i am their mom and it is an intrinsic part of my job.

we wonder about the future.  we worry.  we stew.  we get excited.  we get scared.  we get weary.

if david, the other artist in my two-artist-household equation, mentions an idea to me, i dig under the idea pile of leaves to find the base of it – to order the details of what the idea means, to parse it out.  i can’t start at the top and assume thebigidea will work.  i have to see how the ingredients of the idea will work, the steps to get there.  if the tiniest piece of the idea doesn’t seem plausible, i argue, how could thebigidea be possible.  i don’t mean to be a bigidea killer; i just need to see the practical details.  i’m sure he invokes the youareapainintheass eyeroll when i am not looking, but that’s ok.  he can’t see me rolling my eyes either.

and so, we wonder about the future.  we worry.  we stew.  we get excited.  we get scared.  we get weary.

in the biggest way we have seen in decades we have a challenge.  to stay healthy.  to keep others healthy.  what we do affects you and vice-versa.  we all have to be responsible.  we all have to work together.  we are not all favorites of each other.  some of us are the biggest pains in the ass to others of us.  we are learning, bending, flexing.  we are finding out that we are more resilient than we thought, we are capable of negotiating the bumps in the relationship-road.  we are gumby in the real world.

and we are all here.  separate and together.  despite our wildly differing stories, we have a common story.  we are here.

and we wonder about the future.  we worry.  we stew.  we get excited.  we get scared.  we get weary.

i, for one, am grateful for my absolute favorite painintheass even though he is totally a painintheass.  for what would i do without him?

read DAVID’S thoughts this MERELY-A-THOUGHT MONDAY

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“even chaos has boundaries.” [merely-a-thought monday]

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chaos (physics): ‘behavior so unpredictable as to appear random, owing to great sensitivity to small changes in conditions’

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we were at a meeting up north this summer when mona said this, “even chaos has boundaries.”  i jotted it down because it felt relevant.  in the midst of a contentious situation we were trying to keep our ‘do what’s best for the organization’ hats on, trying to believe that there, indeed, would be an end to the chaos.  committed to a peaceful forward-advancing plan, we kept both hands on the hats, guarding against a wave, a treacherous wave of onto-the-band-wagon-jumping, the aligning of two camps on different shores offering nothing of good import for the organization.

but there is a fine, fine line.  an infinitesimal line of crossover – where one tiny change, one more jenga block, one more pick-up stick, one more stone in the cairn, tilts the seesaw and chaos reigns.

we face, today, a seesaw of the greatest sensitivity.  like refraction, light passing through various mediums, the bend in light is dependent on the medium.  the slightest change in density yields change.

clearly, we must be sensitive.  the light we refract, our response, will determine what the next person has to work with.  if we refract less light and more darkness, darkness will exist, will be pervasive. and darkness, in the way of chaos, sussing out change and a hole in the dam, will become exponential.  where is critical mass, when the seesaw collapses, the cairn falls?

we must be sensitive.  we must be responsible.  we must respond in integrity, despite everything around us, despite the doubters, despite the rhetoric, despite the cavalierness, despite the political dogfight, despite the positioning of that ever-present caste ladder, doing what is best for each of us, for all of us.  what i do affects you.

in our own worlds, for ourselves, for all, we can strive not to pull the wrong jenga block or move the wrong pick-up stick.  choose your cairn-stones with care.

read DAVID’S thoughts this MERELY-A-THOUGHT MONDAY

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“healing does not mean going back to the way things were before…” [merely-a-thought monday]

healing

it is at that place in my memory where i can juuuust-about-touch-it-but-not-quite – the first time i heard, ‘ don’t stare into the rearview mirror.  that’s not the direction you are going.’  i can’t quite remember when or where i first heard it, but it was one of those comments that i stored away as a wisdom to feed off, something that would give me strength in a moment of weak, something that would give me hope in a moment of despair.

my john glenn high school senior class song was seals and crofts’ we may never pass this way again’.  even if it’s the best.  even if it’s the worst.  never.  this moment won’t be repeated and, with the absence of time travel, we cannot re-live it.  ever.

we have all walked in different shoes on different paths.  we have passed through challenges of which we may never speak; we have had successes about which we have never bragged.  we have been hurt;  we have hurt.  and we have healed.

“healing does not mean going back to the way things were before…” (ram dass)

the thing about healing is what it teaches us.  we can never be un-hurt.  we can never undo what was done or what we did.  we can’t return to the baseline; it has vanished with the winds of change.  in a million tiny pieces of glitter, it’s in that proverbial rearview mirror.

but we can ride the river of our breathing into new normal.  we can carry with us learnings and soft words of apology.  we can pack our virtual baggage with tools of prevention and fairness and forethought.  we can pick up techniques of negotiation and navigating in the process of coming-out-of-pain.  we can avoid the temptation to retreat from moving forward, thinking that healing means it’s all back to what it ‘was’ before.

instead, we can step, in blind faith, into next, trusting that healing will bring us to a new place, a new start.  that healing will have somehow gifted us, given grace to all involved in ways we may never know or understand.  that healing will be like dawn, like rain, like birth.

read DAVID’S thoughts this MERELY-A-THOUGHT MONDAY

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“anger…” [merely-a-thought monday]

anger

“to everything turn, turn, turn, there is a season, turn, turn, turn, and a time for every purpose under heaven.” (pete seeger) this – this time – must be the time for anger. it’s bracing.  and it’s everywhere.  i have a hard time validating anger as a choice over a steadfast temperament, especially when it comes to leadership.  i have a hard time watching poisonous blaming where blame does not lie.  i have little to no patience for those who justify their angry words or actions with falsehoods or the power of their position.  i have no respect for those who point vindictively accusatory wagging fingers at people who are doing jobs for which they are qualified and to which they are committed. people are riled up and it’s not getting any better.

“anger is a selling point among many voters as it’s a proxy for passion and strength…” (nicole hemmer) it’s bracing.  if you happen to be among the millions of people who use social media you might find yourself astonished a time or two.  without remorse or regret, posts will wreak havoc on your fact-checking, source-seeking self.  the information posted is mind-boggling.  the anger clearly behind the posts is jaw-droppingly stunning.

but i suppose that’s the point.  in the absence of a calm, informed, articulate, well-meaning leader who is anchored to the core values of our country, not to mention the core values of human-kind, all hell is bound to break loose.  and it has.  our communities, our country, our world – all are observing as anger runs for president.  and now anyone who has been angry has a choice.

do you choose anger?  or are you mistaking that for passion?  do you choose anger?  or are you mistaking that for strength? for they are not the same.  dare to parse out the difference; dare to question the intention.

“to everything, turn, turn, turn, there is a season…a time to gain, a time to lose…”  there is much to be lost.  starting with both the humility and pride of a country designed as an experiment of democracy, a melting-pot-welcoming all, a place of peace for its citizens, a land of the free and home of the brave that takes care of its inhabitants, be they women or men, creature or flora.

there is much to gain.  starting with both the humility and pride of a country that can favor inclusive equality and fairness over discrimination, intelligent decision-making over agenda-riddled punting, wholehearted responsibility over retribution-acts, unshakeable virtue over a lack of ethics, reassuring integrity over molten anger.

“to everything there is a season…”

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read DAVID’s thoughts this MERELY-A-THOUGHT MONDAY

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“every storm runs out of rain.” [merely-a-thought monday]

every storm runs out copy

“i want to know if you will stand in the center of the fire with me and not shrink back.” (oriah mountain dreamer)

in the middle.  of the storm.  of the fire.  the stallion of human nature rears up; we push back; we flail hooves with words, with rebuttals, with defenses.  and the circumstances that have created the storm or the arsonists who have built the fire prevail, deaf, obstinate, bullheadedly dogged.

after a bout, we raise our beaten heads up, panting.  and we silently stand.  we slow our breathing down, and begin to calmly wait, deliberately, intentionally trust that the storm will pass, the fire will go to ash.

for “every storm runs out of rain.” (maya angelou)

and we will come out on the other side.  joan once told me that the only way to the other side is through.  those wise words have echoed in my heart time and again.  there is no circumventing, no avoidance.  the fires, the storms will come.  no matter.  and although we will live in them longer than we wish, longer than we ought, they will not last forever.

“this too shall pass.” (my sweet momma)

the pain will subside, even a tiny bit.  the angry words will run out.  the crisis will start its labored, interminable return to zero axis.  good will begin to tilt the seesaw.  the sun will rise.  next will come.  and we will have survived a worst day, worst fire, worst storm.  we will still be breathing, having passed through hyperventilating, catching our breath, slowing our pulse.  we will be standing.

” i don’t care what’s in front of me or what’s behind me; i just wanna stop the wheel and stand still…” (phil vassar, ‘stand still’)

and we will be in this moment, this one we won’t ever get back.  the fire, the storm attempt to rob us of these very seconds, to draw the breath from our ashy-rain-filled hearts.  but we stand still.  we know it will pass.  we know that every storm runs out of rain.

read DAVID’s thoughts this MERELY-A-THOUGHT MONDAY

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“great minds discuss ideas…” [merely-a-thought monday]

eleanor roosevelt

 

i don’t subscribe to ‘inspirational daily’ but somehow this showed up in my email feed on thursday, a particularly good day to read the wise words of eleanor roosevelt.  an activist, the first lady regularly published her musings and views.  her accomplishments as a diplomat were far-reaching; her life story difficult and profoundly inspiring.  and she was wise. her words remind me of sue bender’s words (from ‘plain and simple journal‘) “to reconcile our seeming opposites, to see them as both, not one or the other, is our constant challenge.”

what would either of these wise women say about our current climate, i wonder?

would eleanor roosevelt pine for the fine-tuned, thoughtful, intelligent discussions of her lifetime?  would she abhor the fact-less, jarringly aggressive re-telling of stories, of narrative, all-dressed-up and skewed to one side?  would she shudder to hear of attempts to decimate human rights, to place limits, to undermine?  i can’t imagine that she would consider the display of indecency, of avenging and putrid name-calling ‘great-mindedness’.  i fear she would, instead, point a wagging finger at the players and implore them to be wide awake, to be thinking, to be discussing idea and possibility and wholeheartedly move forward with conscience.

i wonder, does sue bender, in her middle 80s now, feel a sense of deep disappointment in a society that does not attempt to reconcile seeming opposites, does not see them as both, does not cross the aisle but instead builds walls of hateful rhetoric, looks for the worst in each other, advances the ugly?  what would her kind soul say about the divisiveness, poisoning all in its rampant siege, a pandemic reaching unsuspecting venues, its toxic arrows out of the quiver and readied.  how would she parse out the arguments, the lack of concern for the victimized, the harassment of those on the other side than the leadership?

goodness knows, i suspect both of these amazing women, living in different generations, would be saddened by this climate.  they might weep in absolute dismay.   or, they might just whisper into the wind, to whomever might listen, “great minds discuss ideas.  average minds discuss events. small minds discuss people.”

read DAVID’S thoughts this MERELY-A-THOUGHT MONDAY

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“we should be wide awake.” [merely-a-thought monday]

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i sleepily rub the dreams from my eyes.  coffee helps.  and the snowy world outside comes into focus.  no longer immersed in the land of nod, all things rush back:  the casts, the worries, work task lists, bills to pay, the world around us.  before i peruse the news and the weather, though, i mind’s-eye blow my children a kiss and wish them good days, i hug the dog and the cat lying by my side, i thank sweet d for the coffee with the ernie straw.  it all starts.  the day has begun.

this past week has been extraordinary in so many ways; more on that another time.  i’m buoyed by a hopeful spirit, by connecting with people, by sheer love and the sureness-of-foot taking one step at a time, moving forward; the tide is predictable – it ebbs; it flows.  i am wide awake now, thinking.

“we should be wide awake.”  yes.  for all things.  we should have our eyes open.  we should monitor our response to the positive, the negative.  we should be mindful.  just as worry pervades our time, so does hope.  we need lead with kindness.  we need remember we are sharing this good earth with a hard-to-fathom 7.6 billion or so other souls.  we can’t avoid the reality that the narrative we each individually choose must be deliberately and painstakingly vetted with the truth, with awareness, with sensitivity, with fairness.   not sleepily, not uninterested-in-all-but-the-reactionary-anger-dramatics, not without due diligence.  we must guard against the bandwagon of lackadaisical; we must avoid the geared-down rhetoric of hatred.  we are human beings and we have a responsibility.

just as certain as the tide, it is predictable that the two factions in any division will aggressively forward their agendas.  it is up to each of us to stay informed, to discern, to ask questions, to speak up, to make intelligent, educated choices based on civility, impartiality and honesty, equality, democracy and freedom.  no matter the venue, no matter the place of division.

to be wide awake.

woke:  increasingly used as a byword for social awareness.

read DAVID’s thoughts this MERELY-A-THOUGHT MONDAY

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