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

we should be wide awake billboard

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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“indecency keeps getting rewarded.” [merely-a-thought monday]

indecency

it’s bewildering.

“indecency keeps getting rewarded.”

recently i heard someone say that she was glad her parents weren’t here to see what is happening.  i would have to agree.  my sweet momma and my poppo would be appalled by today’s incessant and prevailing lack of decency.  it’s embarrassing and mind-numbing to witness.  this is not just a simple lack of kindness for others; these are displays of a complete lack of regard for the sanctity of human life, the privilege of living together on this good earth.

i am relieved that my children are grown so that i don’t have to explain to them the ugliness that is pervasive, accepted, even overtly encouraged.  name-calling, lying, undermining, blatant cruelness aimed at others; egregious acts aimed at those less fortunate, elitist prejudices and judgements loaded into automatic weapons spewing vitriol at others, vindictiveness toward people who have a different opinion, who stand up for something different, who live different lives, who are courageous and whose bravery shows up in truth-telling.

we find that this is not just poisoning the outer limits – the circles we don’t belong to, the social or financial ladder-rung we have not reached, the country we belong to but the government by which we are not employed.

no.  this sinister lack of decency has reached its slimy tentacles into our communities, our work, our friends, our families, our homes.  people, who we would not expect, displaying reactionary anger – jousting their epee of mean-spirited words at the unsuspecting, stepping over the boundaries of democratic principles, over the clearly-now-elusive stopgaps of doing-what’s-right, over the limit of how-i-would-want-you-to-talk-to-me-is-how-i-will-talk-to-you or how-i-would-want-you-to-treat-me-is-how-i-will-treat-you.  there is no conversation.  there is righteous indignation, cavalier disrespect, face-down-i’m-not-listening-to-you body language.  there is anger.  there is hate.

and, instead of being struck down by an army of goodness, a wealth of kindness, even a modicum of fairness, this indecency has become normalized and it seems rewarded.  whether outwardly applauding or quietly complicit, the indecency is forwarded on.  and the tentacles of this corrosive nastiness, unchecked, reach both inward and outward into the concentric circles surrounding each of us; the incivility is a contagion and it wins.

it’s more than bewildering.  it sickens me.

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

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“emergency room/urgent care.” [merely-a-thought monday]

er or uc

emergency room to the right.  urgent care to the left.  it was a choice point.

as we drove from the ski hill back to our town, i was worried.  terribly worried.  but my worry was less about my two broken wrists.  it was less about the pain.  it was less about all the things i could see – already – that i couldn’t do for myself.  it was less about my piano and, thus, my life.  it was less about how long it would take to heal and what that healing would look like.  it was less about how important a role david would play for me in this process of getting-my-wrists back.  it was less about how this injury would impact me.

my worry?  it was about what it would cost.

i wracked my brain for all the research i had done in selecting this year’s healthcare plan and how the deductibles work and what is covered and what is not covered and whether x-rays were completely billable sans satisfying our deductible.  i worried about the cost of the emergency room, the cost of the ER staff, the cost of radiology, the cost of casting.  there was a moment, driving through paddock lake, that i began to sob, thinking of the financial worry of all this.   my wrists throbbing, our health “insurance” a whopping $29,000 a year out-of-pocket, and i was sobbing, in the middle of post-injury shock, at the worry of the additional burden this would put on us.

and that’s pretty pitiful.  what a pathetic country in which we live that the first set of thoughts when injured is not getting well, is not healing.

i believe in an effort to more fully understand what i was going through, ptom told me he read a few blogposts written by or about people who had broken both wrists.  it occurred to me that might be a good idea so i googled them.

the first post made me made me frustrated.  after telling the story of her injury, deborah, who lives in new zealand, spoke about her experience with the socialized healthcare in that country.  i wept as i read the motto is “prevent, care, recover,” and there was no cost to her – at all – through diagnosis, treatment, healing, extra care helpers, rehabilitation, transportation.  she lost no work salary during the time of her recuperation.  every single thing was covered and paid.  she states that, “this has been a huge relief to me and has definitely aided in my recovery, because I’m not stressed.”

why am i so amazed by such a humanitarian approach to a nation’s care of its populace?  is that not of utmost priority?  should our population have to worry about seeking care to remain in or regain good health?  what kind of country does not put the health of its people first?

as we approached the hospital in kenosha we had a choice.  emergency room or urgent care.  i asked david to park by urgent care.  in the middle of pain emanating from both my wrists, two slings fashioned by ski patrol around my neck, i thought i remembered that maybe the co-pay or coverage would be more palatable in urgent care.  we sat in big red for a few extra minutes; i repeated i wasn’t sure what to do or not do.  not sure about the differentiation between urgent care and the emergency room, i thought we could at least ask if urgent care could handle what i presented – a need for x-rays and exam and treatment.

we walked into a crowded waiting room.  indeed, they could handle my injuries.  we waited hours with all the others there, many of them with masks covering their mouths and noses.  everyone looked worried.

a very kind doctor examined me, did x-rays, cast me, gave me directions and sent me on my way with follow-up to an orthopedic doctor in a few days.  at that office, a very kind doctor examined me, re-cast me, gave me directions and sent me on my way with a follow-up and more x-rays in ten days, a likely change of cast-type in four weeks, physical/occupational therapy on its heels and a standing invitation to see the reigning hand specialist whose expertise had been proffered.

and, of course, we haven’t received any billing yet.  i’m quite sure that will be the icing on the cake, well, so to speak.

or maybe i should say – that will add insult to injury.

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

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“not too chicken to change.” [merely-a-thought monday]

not too chicken copy

too old. too young.  too busy.  too tired.  too apolitical.  too rabid.  too conservative.  too liberal.  too artistic.  too left-brained.  too analytical.  too kinesthetic.  too emotional.  too opinionated.  too apathetic.  too uneducated.  too educated.  too poor.  too rich.   too believing.  too agnostic.  too manipulated. too manipulative.  too confident.  too tentative.  too work-engrossed.  too free.  too lofty.  too basic.  too orthodox.  too unconventional.  too open.  too closed.  too rigid.  too fluid.  too not-from-here.  too down-home.   too much.  too little.  too far-reaching.  too little impact.  too intentional.  too haphazard.  too unknown.  too anticipated.  too cavalier.  too afraid.

d’s master’s degree embraces the organization of whole systems; when i recently read this it felt like everything he has said in a nutshell (and i, not being a nutshell person, embraced this nutshell with the glee of change).  here is what i read about systems theory:

systems theory(©️2020 narrative lectionary resources)

‘our family systems.  our work systems.  our neighborhood and community systems.’  our country.  our world.  the system reeling inside ourselves.

too trouble-making.  too resistant.  too dysfunctional.  all good reasons for a system not to be too chicken to change.

life.  too short.  too fleeting.  too few golden opportunities to learn.  too few possibilities to stand tall and face down adversity.  too few windows to be kind.  too few chances to say ‘i love you’.  too many people to laugh with.  too many places to see.  too many moments to miss.

all good reasons for us to be “not too chicken to change”.

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

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“they really need to upgrade their font.” (merely-a-thought monday]

font

it runs in the family.  we are font-picky.   truth, we are font-obsessive.

when My Girl was younger and we would make a trip to the library, she would scan along the shelves.  with scorn she would scoff at titles – not because of the title, but because of the font used on the spine.  “it can’t be any good if they didn’t pay any attention to the font they used,” she’d dismissively roll her eyes.

i am known to go on and on about fonts.  d can tell you.  i am consistently surprised at how little regard is given to the chosen font in the delivery of a message – a title – a branding.  i am often heard saying, “what were they thinking?”  and when d can’t relate i text or show 20; i know he will join me in my rant.

we were recently walking in downtown chicago through the neighborhoods heading north with My Boy.  we passed by a barnes & noble.  glancing over, he derisively declared, “they really need to upgrade their font.”  i started laughing when i saw d’s face; i know he was thinking i’m surrounded by them, these font-fussy folks.  i couldn’t be prouder.

you have to admit though.  you have, at least a time or two, noticed a font and either thought, “wow! i love the way that looks!” or “yuck.  that doesn’t fit at all.”  you have been on a website where the front page boasts six or seven different fonts, all different colors, no continuity, no crispness.  yuck.  it’s a mishmash for your eyes and makes you quickly lose interest, likely the opposite of what the site was trying to encourage.

take the title in the image above.  a gift, it is literally the title of a book on one of my shelves.  offering no opinion on the book itself, i just want to say that based on the font for the title merry thoughts i never would have purchased it.  i mean, look at it!  does that look merry to you??  it looks more like a halloween font than any kind of merry font. is it sarcastic font?  is it tongue-in-cheek font?  hardly.  that font would have stopped me.  boom!  no purchase.   what were they thinking?

serifs. sans serif.  the kerning, the capitalization or lack thereof.  the use of punctuation. the color of the font.  overuse of italics.  bold style vs regular.  the amount of clean space.  etc. etc. etc.  all of it.  it all counts.

i love design.  inspired from years and years of watching and listening and learning and probably asking too many questions, sitting over the shoulders of 20 and justine as they worked on album covers and posters and such, i now love working on designing recognition around font or a certain ‘look’, fresh ideas for brands or organizations that seem dated or tired or just boring.  there is no shortage.  look around.  so many graphics.  so little attention to detail.  what are they thinking?

we are never bored driving across town, across the state, across the country.  there i am, in our giant-sign-laden-land, gesturing and ranting, pointing out the billboards with design-police diatribes.  “they really need to upgrade their font!” i announce.

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

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“don’t try to get it over with.” [merely-a-thought monday]

dont try to get it over with

a dime.  if i had a dime for every time i heard, “is this you?” as i answered the phone i would possibly be a rich girl.  i am a rich girl, nevertheless, simply because of the utterance of those words.  a dime for every lifeline.

in the craziest time of life, when i was reeling, hearing the voice of my dear friend scordskiii on the phone was a lifesaver.  it was a crazy time of life for him as well, profoundly devastating.  but we weren’t alone in our individual fires.  they raged about us and we each held the other safe, just away from the flames.  were i to have gotten that era over with as-fast-as-possible i would have missed it, this symbiotic exchange of breathing-together, of MAKING-it-through not getting-through-it.  conversations of laughter, singing, telling stories, pondering, arguing points, more laughter.  hours upon hours while he drove in some other part of the country and i sat up all night keeping him company or i drove way-far-away from where he was and he talked me through what i most needed to process at the time.  or we just sat still, in our own corner of the world, talking.  really really talking.  hours of review, of planning, of sorting, of truth, of fear, of ranting.  and laughter.  i have no idea what i would have done without him.  and, despite the pain and the fallout and the ash that (still) remains after the smoldering fire was finally doused, i am grateful to the universe for making me walk through it.  for making me be present.  for not keeping me from the lessons, for giving me reasons to not try to get it over with.  it was an extraordinary time.  the lifeline he extended to me is a thread that will never be broken.  despite his ensuing here-gone-here-gone-ness, his presence will always be a part of what has woven into what looks like me, what is me.

the fire.  who are the people who will stand in the fire with you, will stand still with you, will unconditionally love you, will be your guardian, your buoy, your champion, your lifeline?  how many dimes would you have by now?

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

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“make hundreds.” [merely-a-thought monday]

make hundreds

when he said, “make hundreds”, he wasn’t referring to blogposts.  my sweet poppo was for-sure-analog and didn’t really even know what a blog was.  he was sending me off to school or work, calling after me to “make hundreds”, a tad bit of pressure for an A+ seeking student but taken with a bit of a grain of salt because my poppo said it with great love.  today starts the one-hundredth week of our blogposts in the melange and daddy-o would be impressed.  it’s one hundred weeks, after all.

clearly, in just a few short weeks it will be two full years.  two years that we have sat next to each other and written a post that was inspired by the same image, the same quote, the same painting or piece of music.  it has been a profound experience.  we have written on the raft with dogdog and babycat curled up next to us, on the beach, in the high mountains, in hotels and airbnbs, in coffeehouses, in relatives’ homes, in the noise of a city, in the quiet on island.  whether or not others are reading my words, i look forward to every single day of writing and am stunned to think that i probably have more in the way of written word now than songs.  is that possible?  (even at a mere 500 words a post it is somewhere around 250,000 words, about 3-4 novels worth.)  it is the best stuff of sitting up in the maple tree outside my growing-up-house on long island for hours on end, writing, writing, writing.

we sit at the starting gate with our inspiration of the day and then, without looking at what the other is writing, we expound on what we see or feel or think.  it’s ‘he said, she said.’  we’ve often thought about, and might just follow through, capturing them into a journal where the same image or quote could stimulate a third person’s writing.  a ‘he said, she said, you said’ book. having a prompt is the juicy stuff that makes it absolute fun.

my posts are often stories, emotional – perhaps poetic – glimpses into our life. david’s are more esoteric, more complex.  a friend of ours said she can tell the difference without even looking.  goodness!  i’m sure that is true.  when we share our writing with each other, reading aloud, i often wonder about the value of what i’ve said.  like recording an album, these are words ‘put out there’ for all to see and you and i both know that judgement is alive and well.  but i always bravely try to remember what our point is.

we wanted a place to put a variety-pack of endeavors, a place that our conglomerate artistries could live under some kind of umbrella.  that umbrella became our‘studio melange’ and we found we could offer our individual work (paintings and music) in addition to our cartoons (earlier on, the melange included chicken marsala and flawed cartoon) as well as the quotes we jotted down each week and the images i recorded on camera that we found pertinent or thought-provoking.  about a year along the line we changed the melange and added ‘merely-a-thought monday’ and ‘not-so-flawed wednesday’ in lieu of our cartoons.

if you pare our melange down you will find one overwhelming similarity.  hundreds upon hundreds of moments.  moments captured, moments written down, moments to remember, moments we’d sometimes rather forget, moments of confusion, moments of regret, moments of incredulousness, moments of fear, moments of scary honesty, moments of challenge, moments of pushing back, moments of questioning, moments of indescribable joy and moments of deep sorrow.  all of them moments of life, a reminder to grasp onto them and hold on dearly.  for that is what we have.  the ability to make moments.  the ability to make moments count.

make hundreds.

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

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“where you stand depends on where you sit.” [merely-a-thought monday]

where you stand

there is a moment when the sun is going down that the ball of fire on the horizon disappears.  official sunset.  but the light lingers in the sky and the color stuns.   it is seemingly a grey area between day and night.  you can call it either – “it is still day,” you can say.  “it is now night,” you might relent.  it depends on where you sit and when we are hiking in the woods and still have a couple miles to go we prefer to think of it as ‘still day’.

it’s all a matter of perspective.  the eyes through which you view all that around you.  the shoes in which you stand as you look out on all that is happening.  are you on one side or the other?  are you bipartisan-ly, so to speak, looking at life?  john avlon recently said, “where you stand depends on where you sit” and i couldn’t agree more.

opinion is a personal matter.  indeed.  free as we profess (or is it purport?) to be, we are all entitled to our opinions.  on everything from food preferences to healthcare in our country, from clothing styles to immigration policies, from decor in our homes to gun control or the lack thereof, from coffee brands to what we individually choose to call a divine universal power and how we lift that divinity up, from places to live to how we feel about blatantly incentivizing people to stay under earning limits…it is all a personal matter.

and yet, it becomes not personal when we are unable to view others’ opinions without demoralizing them, without a listening ear, without educating ourselves before being reactionary and spurting out inaccuracies.  when we turn a blind eye to what befalls others.  when what is best for us supersedes what is best for all.  when riches – in its first definition:  wealth or great possessions; abundantly supplied with resources, means or funds – is not meant for the populace.

it becomes not personal when we fail to realize, allow for, negotiate that where we stand – truly does – depend on where we sit.

right now as the sun sets on 2019 it is still day.  or has night come?

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

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