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when push comes to shove, don’t. [merely-a-thought monday]

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my sweet momma always said that you can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.  although she stood her ground, she rarely pushed back.  well, maybe at my dad…i certainly heard her push back in that relationship.  she was a woman before her time, struggling to be seen and heard…in relationship, in work, in the world.  nevertheless, she lead with kindness and generosity.

recently i surprisingly found myself in a situation where i felt the kind of civility that is needed to accomplish anything was lacking.  instead it was aggressive, pointed, antagonistic.  “when push comes to shove” implies escalation and this, indeed, was the case.  instead of actual conversation, it was a push-shove back-and-forth.  instead of communication, it was a shining example of what-not-to-do.

we drove past a passiton billboard on the way up north that read these words:  when push comes to shove, don’t.  civility is in you.  what does a boorish push or a retorted shove accomplish other than an establishment of immaturity, a driving desire and play for power and an uncooperative non-collaboration?

civility is not that hard.  it should be what we lead with.  respecting others and their place in their world.  we each get the same air to breathe and we each breathe in and out the same way.  instead of escalating to shove or pushing yet harder, how might we fill our lungs with responses of peacefulness, thoughtfulness, fairness, appreciation, intelligent consideration, magnanimity, grace, even reconciliation.  why must push come to shove?  it needn’t.

just don’t.

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

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voila! [merely-a-thought monday]

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20 rolled his eyes at himself when he told us the story.  he was at the grocery store and was looking at dish soap.  he likes dawn dish soap; it gets the best ratings, he said.  as he is peering at the shelf of containers, he can see that way in the back is a container with just a bit more…the volume of the ones in the front seem lower than this particular one in the back.  so he reaches all the way in, moving aside other dawn bottles now rejected by him and pulls out the one where he can see the soap level just-a-little-bit-higher.  he notes that the plastic bottle is not squished or dented (for obviously that would cause a rise in level) and he triumphantly puts the chosen bottle in his cart.  voila!  “there must be something wrong with me,” he said.

as a person who grew up with soap socks and leftovers i couldn’t disagree more.  of COURSE you look for the highest level of soap in the bottle.  that’s a no-duh.  penny-pinching and making things last as long as possible were unspoken mantras for me; they still are.

my sweet momma kept a soap sock.  for those of you who have no clue what that is:  as a bar of soap gets smaller and smaller it becomes increasingly difficult to use.  never to waste anything, my momma would gather all of her tiny vestiges of soap bars and put them in a clean white sock (generally a sport sock…something a little thicker with a tooth like a washcloth.)  she would tie off the end and voila! there you have it – a washcloth with built-in soap!  a soap sock!

i have inherited this trait from my momma.  i will turn bottles upside down and squeeze the life out of them in order to finish all the product.  days after d has declared a shampoo bottle empty i am still encouraging shampoo out of its depths.  our refrigerator rarely has much extra in it – we buy for what we need and we use it up, even if it ends up as some weird concocted leftover.  growing up i didn’t need the “starving children in ….” speech.  i had dna.

so when 20 told us that he takes three pre-packaged 3 lb bags of potatoes over to the scale and weighs them i listened.  apparently, 3 lbs of potatoes can look like 2 3/4 or 3 1/2 or 4 1/4 lbs.  who knew?  you can bet i’ll be trying that.  more potatoes for the money!   voila!

“there must be something wrong with me,” 20 said.  nah.

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

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in your right mind. [merely-a-thought monday]

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i remember thinking that this would be easy to write about when i jotted it down.  in your right mind.  ptom and i had discussion about being in your right mind; michael gerson had written part of a column about being in right mind….surely i would have something of depth to say.

now that this is sitting right in front of me, i find that it’s not so easy to articulate.  or maybe it’s territory that feels too revealing, too human.

the moments when calm finally comes after the storm of anger and you are -again- in your right mind. the moments of blind dire panic of imagined-worst-case-scenario when your right mind eludes you and something else takes over until the adrenalin rush eases up and you can see again.  the moments when absolute white-knuckled-fear precedes the back-to-your-right-mindedness. the moments of really bad choices and the post-choice-angst you feel, the remorse for a period of time you weren’t in your right mind.

and then there are the times when you know…you can feel everything align and you, in your right mind, are able to make a decision, to be rational, to be measured in good intention.  your right mind is calm, cool, collected, more at peace with the reality around you.  your right mind is accepting, forgiving, altruistic in empathy and goodness, benevolent and generous.  your right mind is reasonable.

i have known, at least after-the-fact, the times i wasn’t in my right mind.  they are times for which i, impossibly, wish a do-over, a chance to make all well.  times that range the spectrum from angry words spoken to life decisions made without, well, my right mind.

i suppose ptom is right.  you recognize the moments you leave your right mind.  you ask for forgiveness.  from others, from yourself.  and you move on, a little wiser and maybe more capable of steeling yourself against being somehow out of your right mind.  and michael gerson is also right.  he said, “…in our right minds, we know that life is not a farce but a pilgimage…” “..in our right minds, we know that hope can grow within us…”  “…in our right minds, we know that love is at the heart of all things….”

we are in our right mind; we are not in our right mind.  we live life on the roller coaster of right-mindedness, for we are human and we sometimes are, in the complexities of the moments we live, incapable of mindedness.  so we make mistakes.  we learn.  we grow.  and we try again.

for “…we learn that we are neither devils nor divines.” (maya angelou)

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

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guidance is eternal. [merely-a-thought monday]

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it drives them nuts, i’m sure, but i still write or say “triple always” to my children.  a redundancy of course, the “triple” emphasizes the “always”… an unnecessary modifier that says “eternally”…. i love you eternally.

there is a boeing commercial we see often.  in it, the narrator is stating steps of preparation for flight, counting down.  then she says, “guidance is eternal.”  that’s what i have heard every time.  until one time i asked d why he thought she said that.  he responded that she was actually stating, “guidance is internal,” which clearly makes more sense in the aviation world.

i had to listen more closely the next time to hear “eternal” as “internal”.  i did discern the difference, but i still, each time it airs, hear “guidance is eternal” anyway, and maybe that’s a good thing.  it serves as a reminder from an unlikely source, a sort of subliminal message, perhaps, at a time i need it.  an absolute when looking to the universe for answers to unsolved questions, small eddies of confusion, sorting and attempts at balance, at level positivity, seeking wisdom from those who are beloved but on another plane.

the guidance is there.  waiting.  it is internal AND it is eternal.  triple always.

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

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plan ahead. [merely-a-thought monday]

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my poppo would probably have liked chip hailstone.  an as-long-as-i-can-remember subscriber of national geographic, i imagine he would have liked the show ‘life below zero’.  he was good at solving problems, figuring things out, making stuff out of nothing.  his words of wisdom were simple.  “plan ahead,” he would say.   he was a card-holding-club-member-regular-reader of the handyman magazine; he easily could have been a contributing writer.  he would have loved chip hailstone’s comment, “you can make a long piece of wood short, but you can’t make a short piece of wood long.”  ahyup.  it’s in the details.  plan ahead.

we were coffee-sitting around the kitchen table.  it was a late florida morning, years ago now, and coffee break time was an every-day thing.  my dad suddenly got up from his chair and left the room, using his “stick” to get to the bedroom and back.  he returned moments later and started to speak.  “i have something for you, brat,” he started.  “with these years on your own you have learned so much out of necessity.  it’s time for you to have this.  you have earned it.”  he handed me his handyman club membership card and said, “this is yours now.  i’m proud of you.”

it was big news to get this card from my poppo and i didn’t underestimate its import. it would not have made me more gratified to receive a grammy award.  his -my- membership card is in plain view in my studio, reminding me of my dad and his words to me.

we watch ‘life below zero’ episodes and there are simple wisdoms dancing throughout the show.  things i can hear my dad say in his brooklyn accent.  things you think, “well, duh, of course.”  the same things you realize after-the-fact that you should have thought about before-the-fact.  yup, poppo.  plan ahead.

poppo & handyman club

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

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conversation. [merely-a-thought monday]

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we started our day with mimosas.  the up-north-gang was in cedarburg and we descended upon the stagecoach inn’s pub, a place built in 1853, dedicated to their bed & breakfast.  we sat at wood and iron tables surrounded by vintage stone and brick walls and chatted away a very fast almost-two-hours.  we hadn’t ever been at this little pub before to start our winterfest fun.  but it was perfect and it was an easy choice when the day was over and we stopped back there to sip wine or old-fashioneds (a wisconsin staple), review the parade and bed races on the river and talk about any old thing.  i grabbed a brochure (because i, well, love brochures) and looked at it later at home.  “where you can actually hear your conversation” the little pub (named the five20 social stop) advertised.  it was true.  it was refreshing to be able to actually have a conversation and hear each other.

we do our best work in the woods.  d and i will take a walk and solve things that have stymied us.   the quiet, the beauty – it’s centering and it removes all the interruptions of home-office-work.  it offers us a chance to actually have a conversation and hear each other.

at this point, i don’t know what it would take for this world, this country, our state, our community to actually have conversations and hear each other.  so many seem to be yelling, reacting.  certainly not conversing.  it’s tempting to turn off the news app on my phone, but i don’t want to bury my head in the sand.  and yet, lately, this earth seems oddly tilted on its axis, bent on anger and strife, inflated egos, name-calling, exponential self-serving, and pointed blame.  it’s all so toxic.  where is the listening going on?

i would think about suggesting mimosas and a walk in the woods but, with all the noise out there, i don’t know who would hear me.

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

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old dogs. [merely-a-thought monday]

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a couple years ago our CHICKEN MARSALA went with us everywhere.  i mean literally everywhere.  FLAT CHICKEN traveled across the country and we have pictures of him in the scion, in front of the ‘welcome to colorful colorado’ sign, with rest area volunteers, sitting with family at an outdoor bbq.

we had submitted CHICKEN to all the major cartoon syndicates with some interest on their part and so we were bringing him with us, to document his travels and keep our hopes up.  ultimately, CHICKEN MARSALA, the strip, was not syndicated and we ended up concentrating our efforts more on short bursts of wisdom and thought in one-panels of CHICKEN in life.

CHICKEN MARSALA and another one-panel cartoon named FLAWED CARTOON, graphic designs we were making or photographs we were taking, david’s paintings, my music – all were fodder for what became a melange, a mixture of it all, the crux of what we would write about each day.  and so THE MELANGE, offered monday through friday,  was born.

it has – this week – been a year since the first MELANGE was published.  and monday through friday since, we have had an image that we each have used as a jumping-off ground for our blogposts, the chute through which we have funneled our thoughts.

i was a crazy person designing products for each of these days…mugs with our sweet CHICKEN MARSALA on them, BE KIND tote bags, FLAWED CARTOON prints, painting morsel throw pillows, what-seems-like a zillion leggings with song lyrics. we posted links for our product lines and re-assessed things daily – placement of images in the blog, placement of hyperlinks, whether or not to include FB ‘like’ buttons….it is an endless list.

somewhere along the way we realized that it was possible that other people might not be as invested in our CHICKEN MARSALA as we were.  he wasn’t their imagined little boy; he was ours…

i have this great tear-off calendar i enjoyed every day last year.  it sat on my dresser and had a unicorn on every page.  it also had a saying of some sort…some words of wisdom, some tongue-in-cheek, some downright sassy.  although i love unicorns, for obvious reasons, i found that i could not tell you what the unicorn was doing each day; i barely looked at the unicorn.  for me, the important part was the saying.  when i realized that, i also realized that was possibly the same reason people were not investing in CHICKEN.  it was whatever the panel said, the words, that held the interest.  when someone would randomly come upon the image of CHICKEN MARSALA, no matter how adorable the drawing, they wouldn’t ‘see the unicorn’ so to speak, but instead would read the words, the starting gate for our posts.  ahhh.  we are ever-learning.

and so, we changed our MELANGE monday from CHICKEN MARSALA MONDAY to MERELY-A-THOUGHT MONDAY.  and i stopped, for now, designing more CHICKEN products for a society6.com store that was already full of products.  CHICKEN MARSALA will have his time in the light; it just isn’t right now.

the same thing happened for our FLAWED WEDNESDAY.  as funny as those single panel cartoons were, we found they weren’t necessarily connecting in-a-big-way to our audience, so it was time to re-evaluate our posts for wednesday.  FLAWED WEDNESDAY became NOT-SO-FLAWED WEDNESDAY with interesting tidbits we encounter in life.

today (ok, technically calendar-tomorrow but alas let’s not be too detailed) we celebrate this monday in february a year ago.  a year of our MELANGE.  a year of selecting images we would feature.  a year in which we have we have blogged every monday-friday.  a year of designing websites, blogsites, products.  a year of questions and thoughts.  a year of assessing and re-assessing.  a roller-coaster of learnings.

who said you can’t teach an old dog new tricks?

thank you for riding along with us.

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

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CHICKEN MARSALA ©️ 2016 david robinson & kerri sherwood