Posts tagged ‘Philosophy’

28

everything has a last day

{by Amanda of Last Mom on Earth}

(photo source)

We went on a special date, just Louise and me. She crawled through the aisles of the bookstore and I slowly meandered behind her, reading passages from crisp, unspoiled novels I knew I wasn’t going to buy. Maybe someday.

She talks a lot, when she’s alone with me. She points to things and tells me about them in her funny, amazing language. When something surprises or delights her, her tiny hand flies to her mouth and she chews on her perfect little fingers.

We came home to an empty house and I sat a carton of blueberries on the floor between us. My hands were clumsy and imprecise, picking up toppling handfuls and eating them without discretion. Louise, with her dainty, pointed fingertips, thought carefully about each berry before she chose it with an attitude of satisfaction and ate it, all by itself, like it was the most special and singular blueberry on the planet.

So much thought and care goes into chewing and swallowing a single blueberry when you’re one years old.

Some children from my daughter’s school, their mother is dying. So, we swoop upon them with love, making lists and baking lasagna, doing things that don’t matter, but they mean something. They mean, “We are mothers, too and we couldn’t imagine how scared and sad you must feel, to be leaving your children.”

Lots of people talk about how a child should never die before a parent. I believe it’s true. It would be a grief so complete and unbearable, I have no way to fathom it. And, I also can’t imagine what it would be like to wake up tomorrow if I might die before the year was over.

Every movement my daughters make is holy. Little fingernails, they’re so small you can barely believe that they’re real. Tiny crescents of mud beneath them. What would my life be, if I understood that everybody dies. I pray they will be old and settled when it’s my turn, but still. I will never be at peace with knowing they will breathe and eat and think and move around in the world, when I can no longer see them. They need me for everything. Without me, they couldn’t survive. And the amount I need them supersedes their neediness by mountains and thunderclouds, by river mouths and inlets. The way I love them is the way rain permeates the earth, filling up everything that was begging, and the earth sighs.

“Everything has a last day.” I read this on a blog today. A little boy said this about life. I almost can’t take it, he’s so smart and right and beautiful.

So, I’ll be spending the week at the beach with my family. There will be restaurants and shopping and we’ll all be stuffed into a bedroom that was made for a single person. There will be book lights and bubble wands and special, sugar cereal, just this one week per year. But, there will also be salt on the wind and a fat moon dangling above us while we sleep. Our summer congestion will be healed, I hope, and so will my sense of feeling like we’re all too big for our lives. The ocean has a way of making me small and unimportant, like death and love are all a part of things, and that I know what I’m doing, just because I’m a person.

I’ll bake and cry into the pen’s ink when I write, I hope you all are making it, out there… and my children will reach for the glow of our doorbell while I’m rushing them inside and out of the heat. We will all die someday, and it’s probably the right thing to do.

 

Amanda is a mother of two beautiful girls living in Pittsburgh. Her writing is stunning, a visceral thing that moves you to your core.
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Featured by Story Editor: Heather King

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April 7, 2011 | Featured 2, Mr Lady, Thursday 1

Not Having Brain Cancer Isn’t The Same As Being Happy

{Original post by Kelly of Ordinary Art}

In pre-school, my daughter is learning about opposites. Up. Down. Right. Wrong. Full. Empty. Everything neat and tidy. The teacher sends home a note. Practice. Teaching the concept of opposites is a great way for your child to understand his or her world.

Bullshit.

My mother has a friend who is wheel chair bound and dying of brain cancer. This sick woman has a 10-year-old daughter. The daughter does not understand why God is robbing her mother of her legs and her life. All she wants is for her mother to rise from that chair and go for a walk. What is the direct opposite of wanting?

Is life the direct opposite of death? We have to be grateful for what we have. My own mother moralizes. Her idea of happiness is not having brain cancer. I’m not sure it takes fully into account the grief of a 10-year old girl.

A former student of mine once wrote a beautiful poem. It went,

We are a matched set, you and I. A fork in the road. A knife in my heart.

She read the poem aloud to the class. She tossed her hair and laughed when someone in the back of the room raised their hand and asked about the spoon. I counted her poet teeth and hoped that someday, someone would come along and fall in love with the religion of her mouth. She was 13 and beautiful. I cannot remember her name. Forgetting is not the same thing as letting go.

I practice with my daughter. Hot. Cold. Big. Small. Love. Hate. Sad. Happy. These words never tell the entire story. Sometimes mothers die and leave their daughters to go for walks alone. Sometimes mothers live but their daughters still feel lonely.

Everything in life is just standing still, waiting to become a poem. I want to be beautiful and toss back my hair. I have a daughter. I want to laugh at the irrelevance of spoons. I know that grieving 10-year old girls exist. I am not their opposite.

Featured by Story Editor Shannon | @MrLady

Since 2006, Kelly has written circles around almost everyone I’ve ever met at Ordinary Art, where her original post can be found.
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2

Can you change a flat tire?

Religion and Philosophy Blog Nosh Magazine

{Originally published by Andrea at Lil-Kid-Things}

There are a few things that I think every woman should know how to do. Changing a flat tire is high on that list. I know how and thank God, because I have had to call upon this knowledge many times. I am certain that I have changed a tire on my own vehicle a minimum of 5 times and for a friend at least once. Is this normal? How do I keep getting flat tires? For the record, I haven’t had a flat in over a year, and the last one wasn’t really flat. The tire split somehow and therefore couldn’t hold air. Thankfully I was .01 second from a Jiffy Lube so they did the dirty work.

The reason I bring all of this up is because I was just sitting here drinking my coffee, enjoying the quiet nap period and thinking about how life forces you to learn things you never expected to learn and how that knowledge can follow you to many different places. In my case, I learned how to change a tire on the side of I-95 one Sunny (read:HOT) Sunday afternoon in August. It was 1997. In fact, I remember it vividly because it was the day Princess Diana died. I however, didn’t find that out until much later that night because I was in Drama-Land, USA.

It might be helpful to give you a bit of back-story. That summer I was separated from my then husband, Micah and living in Florida. It was Labor Day weekend and I needed to get the H out of dodge so I decided to head north for a visit with family. I stopped in to see my Grammy in North Florida and she gave me $100 for my trip. This in itself was really amazing and wonderful because I really didn’t have the money for a jaunt up the coast. But I think we all knew that I needed it. I am the type of person that needs to clear my head by driving. I don’t know why but it has always helped me to put my life in perspective and return with a plan. So, off I went.

At the time, I was driving a Nissan Pickup truck and had never changed a tire in my life. I watched Micah change one on a different car once, but no one had ever done it on my truck that I knew of. OH and did I mention that I was 19? Yes. I was 19 years old. So, I’m driving up I-95 and I imagine I was listening to something like Boyz II Men or Mariah Carey when BAM_WHACK_THUD_THUD_THUD…my front left tire was in shreds. Somehow, and I am not kidding I don’t even know how because I was too busy peeing my pants, I pulled off to the side of the road to assess the damage.

Hmmm…I don’t think I am supposed to see the ENTIRE RIM. I mean you can’t drive it like that right? No, definitely cannot keep driving. So, this is no problem. I can deal with this. Where am I? About a mile outside Waltersboro, SC. Ok cool. I have AAA let me just get my cell phone. It’s 1997 you see, and I DID have a cell phone. However there were about 3.5 cell phone towers between Miami and NYC and none of them were anywhere near Waltersboro, SC. No service. ZERO service. I am also pretty sure my battery died after all my attempts, not that it mattered.

I think it was about this time that I went from ‘I am a woman on the side of the road who can handle this because I came prepared with a cell phone and AAA’ to MOTHER-EFFER what the $#)(*#!)($@#()#$ am I going to do now but DIEEEEE??? I am going to die on I-95. Or in those creepy woods! Some crazy psycho is going to drag me into those woods and back to Waltersboro, SC and I will never see my family again because I will dieeeeeeeee!!! And then the tears came. And the screaming at God thing. And of course the requisite beating the steering wheel with closed fists until I was sore everywhere. I mean I was 19 and about to get a divorce, sitting on the side of the road in the middle of nowhere with no one to help me. I think my outburst would be considered minor in that situation, no?

Ahh but this was one of those defining moments that one never forgets. And believe me, I will NEVER forget. I found myself that day. I wallowed for a little while and then decided I needed to pull it together while it was still light out. There has to be an owner’s manual. And I know there are tools behind the seat. It will be like Legos, just follow the directions one step at a time. Don’t get ahead of yourself. You can do this.

I removed everything I thought I would need from the truck and got to the business of retrieving the spare tire. In a pickup truck, the extra tire is up under the bed of the truck secured by a chain. You need a tool to release the chain and then you have to reach under and unhook it. Yes, it is as difficult as it sounds. You see, I am doing all of it blind because it’s a good 4 feet in. Did I mention that there was no shoulder on the interstate? No? Well there wasn’t. My truck was on the left hand side of the road half on the asphalt and half on the grass. I was only a couple feet away from 80 mile an hour traffic on the fast lane side. The side where most semi-trucks drive and thus rocked my truck every time they WHIZZED by. Not a single person stopped to see if I needed help.

NOT A SINGLE ONE.

So, I am under the truck absolutely certain that I am going to die, tears streaming down my face and stringing together expletives that would make Andrew Dice Clay blush. It only took about 3 years to release the tire. I had a brief moment of victory but it waned quickly when I finally stood up and realized that my right foot was covered in fire ants!

#@^&%* FIRE ANTS.
#@^&%* FIRE ANTS.
#@^&%* FIRE ANTS.
#@^&%* FIRE ANTS.
#@^&%* FIRE ANTS.
#@^&%* FIRE ANTS.
#@^&%* FIRE ANTS.
#@^&%* FIRE ANTS.

I don’t blame you for laughing right now. It was the most pitiful display. Now I am jumping around trying to knock off the ants, swearing, crying, and getting a BIT hysterical because if I am going to DIE I wish we could just get on with it!

Once again I regained my composure, which wasn’t really composure anymore but a nice fat fiery rage aimed at the powers that be and THIS.STUPID.CURSED.TRUCK. Now I am mad and I will not be defeated. I have the tire, I have the jack and the truck is lifted. Now I just need to get these lug nuts off. CRAP. I can’t get them to budge. Especially not using the lug wrench with my hand. Which means I now have to lower the truck so the tire is back on the ground and I can get some traction. And stomp on that wrench with my full body weight. NOW we’re talking! I must have gotten a little carried away with the stomping because at one point, my foot slipped and I got a nice slice down my arch, because being from Florida, of course I was wearing my Tevas. That hurt but I was SO over it I just kept going. Once I got the lug nuts off it was smooth sailing. All told I think I finished in around an hour or 2, though it felt like at LEAST 37 days.

I am sweating, I am covered in ant bites, bleeding from the foot and puffy as I slowly amble to the next exit. I never thought I would fall in love with Waltersboro, SC, but I had never been happier to explore a new town. Thankfully they had a tire place right off the exit and they let me use their phone to call my parents. Resume with the crying. Now I was telling my story OUT LOUD in a mixture of tears and exasperation. My horrified parents listened quietly and tried to sort through my sobs for important details. I needed a new tire and to finish my trip asap. Cost of the tire? $80. Thank God I had the $100 from my grandmother. God works in mysterious ways. I made the rest of my trip and collapsed that night. When I returned home to Florida, I brought with me an entirely new level of confidence.

That day, I learned a lot of things, the least of which being how to change a tire. But isn’t it funny how even THAT served me later in life? Every time I change a tire or help a friend, I am reminded that I really can do anything. Even if I haven’t ever done it before. Life forces your hand sometimes and it’s amazing how God helps us figure things out. Even though I was screaming and cursing God in those moments, He was there with me. Letting me get frustrated and to my breaking point right before helping me figure it out. If my cell phone had worked and I called AAA it would have been much easier, yes. But would I have been able to say that I had grown through the experience? Would I even remember the time when all hope was lost and there was no one but me and God to work it out? I doubt it. Looking back, I am so thankful for that experience. Not only can I change a tire, but I know I can trust God to guide me through the darkest of circumstances. And THAT is a lesson worth learning.

Editors Pick by Michele at Sparks and Butterflies:  Andrea is refreshing, irreverent, and prone to a bit of over exaggeration, making her a very fun read – even when reading her take on a serious subject. Anything that makes me think while not having to beat myself up over my introspection has my vote. While Andrea is a new read for me, I’m coming back for more. Take a look at her original post, her main blog, and most importantly her feed. Give her some love.

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3

Can I Get an Amen? (The Thinkin’ About a Tea Party Edition)

Politics Blog Nosh Magazine{Originally posted at Resurrection Song}

Via Instapundit, I find this site that hits me as saying precisely what I want to say:

Today’s economic crisis impacts all Americans, not just those who are behind on their mortgages.  Everyone shares concerns over health care, job loss, and the decimation of their retirement savings.  All Americans have made sacrifices over the past year.  The American taxpayer is already on the hook for mismanaged banks, incompetently run auto companies and extravagent stimulus packages.  We don’t need the additional burden of paying for our neighbor’s mortgage.  The bottom line – we believe that being current on one’s mortgage should not be grounds for being put at a financial disadvantage.

That is wildly deserving of an amen.

I find myself wondering how conservatives who bought into the rhetoric of hope and change, who believed that Obama would be governing from a moderate’s position, and who ended up voting Democrat in the elections are feeling about their decision right now? I’m feeling more and more that I voted the right direction: McCain.

Now, the current economic crisis isn’t Obama’s fault. There are a lot of names and administrations that can share the blame for bad regulations, overspending, and refusal to deal with the American economy as something built on money that doesn’t come from the Free Money Fairy. And then there are the people–that is, “we, the people”–who helped by demanding more government services and less fiscal sanity. In fact, we, the people, made it downright difficult for a person to be elected if they threatened our slice of the pie, a fact that has made blue hairs such an important voting block and rational conversation about the future of Social Security such a political hazard.

So, no, it’s not Obama’s fault.

But I remember watching one of the televised debates and hearing McCain promise a spending freeze followed by deep cuts in the budget coupled with a belief that raising taxes on any Americans right now would be foolish and irresponsible. Obama, in contrast, spoke breezily about cutting the budget, but thought that a spending freeze was a bad idea and an increase in taxes on the wealthy (whatever “wealthy” might mean) was a brilliant idea.

I remember thinking that this was one of only two defining issues for me (the other being continued resolution to maintain the most powerful military in the world–surprisingly, continued prosecution of the war in Iraq and Afghanistan was down the list a ways for reasons best discussed in another post on another day). Obama might indeed have intended to govern from the center, but even that night he couldn’t get away from a knee-jerk need by the left to increase taxes (on the right people) and massively increase spending (to the right people).

If the Republicans hadn’t lost the moral high ground on the economy over the last eight years, I imagine that we would be talking about President McCain and his obstructionist tendencies right now.

McCain may have had a hard time leading, given the state of the GOP in both House and Senate, but I think he would have gleefully used his veto pen to kill off this stimulus package and would have forced the Democrats into a fight. Instead, the left pretends at compromise with the complicity of a couple turncoat Republicans and then bulls ahead with whatever the hell it is that they wanted to do in the first place.

Because they won.

I don’t think that trend will last, though, because Americans are already starting to worry about how this latest stimulus package is actually going to help create jobs, foster economic stability, or do much other than run up well over a trillion in new debt. Bush has been criticized, rightly, for the debt that he ran up during his terms in office; a month into Obama’s administration and it’s become apparent that he not only intends to continue down that path, but, indeed, he’ll be upping the ante.

That’s a phrase–”upping the ante”–that I use very specifically. There is an element of the bad gambler to the way our government is handling the crisis, and Obama is cheering on the bad behavior. If you’ve ever seen a guy losing big at the craps tables, you’ll know what I mean.

That guy probably started with relatively conservative bets. He played the come and the pass lines and didn’t place any of the hard ways or other high risk bets. But he was losing–every few rolls of the dice set him back a little bit more until he realized he was down quite a bit. So instead of walking away, he believed the thing that every bad gambler believes: his luck’s going to turn. There were so many bad rolls that a good roll is just bound to be right around the corner.

And when he believes that, the bets get bigger because, when his luck turns, he believes the payout will pull him right out of the hole that he’s dug himself. So he starts betting bigger and he starts betting the high risk/high reward bets. There is luck involved, of course, and he’ll win some rolls. More than that, though, there is simple math: even when he wins a roll or two, he’s dug that hole so deep that he’s still deep down in the dark and he has to keep playing to try to break even.

What he doesn’t realize is that he’s already lost. The money is gone and he needs to be smart enough to step away from the table, go home, and figure out how to rebuild what is already gone.

Our government is that guy: the stimulus plans are getting bigger, the hole is getting deeper, and they believe that one more stimulus bill could hit it big and make those losses go away. Meanwhile, the deficit gets bigger and someone else is going to end up paying the bill because our government has gone way the hell and gone beyond the money that they brought to the table. They’ve borrowed from everyone they know, they’ve maxed the credit cards, they’ve taken out mortgages on our futures–and they’re using it all to place a bad bet that will only take us closer to financial ruin.

And Obama is the one leading us down that path, cheerfully telling us that this is the bet that will make it all better. I don’t believe him.

McCain wasn’t the guy who sent a thrill up my leg.  He wasn’t my perfect candidate and he didn’t mesh with my beliefs on a number of issues. I have a hard time imagining that he would have travelled this particular path, though, and I believe that this path is one that could ruin our nation.

Republicans, libertarians, and all nature of fiscal conservatives will be fighting at a disadvantage for the next few years (at least), but anyone who believes that our salvation is to be found in fiscal responsibility need to start pushing back now. We’re losing the battles right now, but we can’t afford to lose the war.

Editors note by Mr Lady @ Whiskey In My Sippy Cup: Zombyboy was one of my first blog friends, and I’d dare say my blogging mentor.  He and I disagree on almost everything political, but I always appreciate reading his take on issue and the discussions that ensue.  He’s a gifted writer, a passionate patriot and an insightful person.  Read the original post here.

2

Embedded in Time

Religion and Philosophy Blog Nosh Magazine{Originally published on Angie Muresan}

When older people get together there is something unflappable about them; you can see they’ve tasted all the heavy, bitter, spicy food of life, extracted it’s poisons, and will now spend 10 or 15 years in a state of perfect equilibrium and enviable morality. Irene Nemirovsky, Fire in the Blood

12th century church

12th century church

I have a few friends who are well into their eighties; women who have lived their lives thoroughly and enjoyed the amassed daily moments to their fullest extent.  I love these women for what they are.  There is wisdom in their advice, a sense of humor in their actions.  They’ve come to terms with the destruction life has in store. Physical health and beauty deteriorating, husbands and friends lost to death or alzheimers, children and dear ones far away, their bodies betraying them daily.  But their kindness, their compassion, their love survived every treachery and evolved into a beauty transcending the physical.

I know they have fears.  Whenever I see them upset at their lack of control over their bodies, they fear for their dignity. For their self-respect and the respect, or lack of, others have for them. I like to remind them that their self-esteem need not suffer because their bodies fail. They are more than that. More than fragile bones and decrepit muscles. They are the light in the eyes, the smile on the lips, the love they exude.

Some have come to terms with death encroaching, others have not. But, I don’t believe it is death they fear, or maybe not as much; what they fear is their disappearance; the disappearance of their voices, their laughter, their memory.  The fear of becoming a dusty one-dimensional photo. The cessation of their story.

And then the fear of eternity. Who is immune to that?  All around, so vast and unfathomable. Like grains of sand or stars in the night sky. And all that had been left undone and unsaid. All the mundane and not so mundane choices made daily that may or may not have purified the soul. Or whether their faith will pay off and they will be in the presence of God and their loved departed ones, or rotting away, first their flesh and then their bones.

And yes, for some the fear of death as well. Of what happens at that moment when this earthly life ends and the other begins. That transition from the mortal to the immortal. The termination of one and the beginning of another. How will it be? What will they feel? Where will their soul go and how will it get there?

Yet, despite all these thoughts in their minds and in mine, I marvel at their depth, at the lives they’ve created, at their multi-dimensional facets, the little glimpses into the girls they were and the women they’ve become. So graceful, caring, resilient.  And I look forward to my old age, not in despair but in hope; the hope that I’ll become like one of them, enduring and persevering.

Editors Pick by Michele from Sparks and Butterflies: Angie is a new read for me… Her introspection and way with words speak to me, and make me think about my own self. Serious posts interspersed with lighthearted topics make for an interesting read! Check out her blog, Angie Muresan; the original post, Embedded in Time; and subscribe to her feed. You won’t be disappointed.

2

It’s only life or death. It’s always only life or death.

Overcoming Adversity Blog Nosh Magazine{Originally published on John T. Unger Studio}

The best thing that ever happened to me was the night an angry, messed up cab driver pulled me into the back room of a 24 hour diner and held a huge handgun to my head for over ten minutes, all the while describing in intricately fetishistic detail exactly what would happen when he pulled the trigger.

Why? Because it changes you, staring down a nutjob holding a gun. After that, the small stuff just doesn’t get sweated. You either break, or break through to a mandatory satori of keeping things in proportion that most people never get to walk away from. It’s an ice calm I wouldn’t trade for anything.

The second best thing that ever happened to me was when the dot com crash of 2000 wiped out most of the design industry at the peak of my career as a freelance print designer. I went from turning away work every week to working exactly 7 days of the next year. I lost my girl. I lost my loft. I lost part of my thumb in an accident moving out of the loft. I pretty much lost it all.

Of course, the only reason I was working in offices was to fund the art career I wanted… materials, space, tools, etc. I worked eight hours in the office and ten in the studio, sleeping when I passed out involuntarily. I decided that if my industry had tanked, I was damned if I was gonna retrain to do something else I didn’t want to do. I chose to make the art be my sole means of support. I built some monumentally scaled commissions working out of borrowed shop space, with borrowed gear, sleeping on borrowed couches.

It worked. I’ve been making my living as an artist ever since, and these days I earn triple the income I ever did from the best corporate gigs.

The third best thing that ever happened was the day my studio building collapsed under a load of snow while I was standing on the roof shoveling. I rode that roof to the ground like a gut-shot rodeo pony. The building and some pricey tools were completely destroyed, but I was unharmed… until I spent the next three months (December, January and February) without heat, running water or a stove because the natural gas line into the house had been severed in the collapse. The gas company refused to fix the line until they could bury it in the spring. I lost a few brain cells, I’m sure, by running an unvented kerosene heater inside the house to stay alive.

How was that good? The bank came out to assess the damage, saw my work and suggested I do a $10,000 commissioned sign as the down payment on the remaining two buildings I’d been leasing with an unlikely option to buy. Getting this place had a lot to do with making the art career fly. I had affordable space to work and a place for customers to find me. I don’t think the deal would have happened without the disaster… They didn’t want to take a loss on the property (or hold it) and I was willing to take it on at the cost of the mortgage before the building fell.

Bottom line:

The only way you can tell the difference between disaster and opportunity is to decide to make an opportunity out of every event.

Postscript:

During the second and third disasters, my friends were pretty evenly divided in their response to my choice to make the world work on my terms.

One camp said, “Dude, you’re so brave to just bail on the day job and do your own thing. You’re my hero. I wish I could do that.” The other camp said, “Look, don’t be crazy. Just take whatever work you can get until you’re on your feet, even if it’s fast food or something. You’re never gonna make it without some cash.” Really, both camps were wrong (though I love them all dearly).

I wasn’t brave. Not the least bit. I was frickin’ desperate, is what I was, but not terrified. I was back to that ice calm… you learn that it just ain’t over till it’s over, and that giving up never got anyone out of a jam. I didn’t want a life of stability if it meant I had to do digital layouts of junk mail for a living. I wanted to do what I was best at, what I loved, and get paid for that. It was worth the risk. It was the only real way I could see to better my situation.

I wasn’t crazy either. By the time I figured out that the design work wasn’t just in a slump, that it wasn’t coming back any time soon, I had about $5 in cash and $20,000 in debt. There was no way that a subsistence level job was gonna fix that… I ran full tilt towards the art career because I knew if I did it right, and worked my ass off, I could probably make enough to get out of the hole

I had to think about it again when the building crashed. That time, I almost did pack it in. It felt like my dream was a stupid idea after all, that I had just run everything into the ground betting on a long shot. But in the rural economy here, few jobs pay well enough to escape the poverty line and there are fewer and fewer jobs available anyway every year. A job wasn’t gonna save me. It would just suck all the time and energy I needed to realize my dreams, while keeping me alive enough to resent it.

I remembered other businesses I had started on a shoe string earlier in life… each of them ultimately failed the first time something major went wrong because I hadn’t had enough cash to keep them going. Or had they? Had money really been the only way to get them back on track, or was it a failure of creativity and nerve? Had they really failed because when faced with a seemingly insurmountable problem, I’d believed it to be what it seemed, bought into it, walked away because I didn’t feel able to do the so-called impossible? I decided that what I really couldn’t afford was to waste all the time and energy I had put into building an art career that was just on the edge of being sustainable. I’d come too far this time to back down.

Having weighed the pros and cons of sticking to my guns, I decided to force a positive change out of the crisis. Within a month, I unexpectedly sold a few major pieces, paying off the last of my old debts with the money and having cash left over. From that moment, the art has sold exponentially better each year. If I’d given up at the moment, none of the great things that have happened since would have come about.

Editor’s Pick by Jennifer from Playgroups are No Place for Children.   John T. Unger is an artist and designer.  This diamond of a post was nestled in his blog amidst art discussions, photography, and videos.  John has a knack for offering inspiration both spiritually and creatively. You can read the original post and all the comments on his blog.  While there, check out John’s amazing artwork, from firebowls to mosaics made mostly from recycled or re-used materials.  Give yourself an afternoon, you’re sure to spend way more time than you planned just clicking around his site.

2

I love my beautiful body.

Health and Fitness Blog Nosh Magazine {Originally published on Into the Rabbit Hole}


Tonight I put on my Express size 5/6 jeans again.  I didn’t have to struggle, suck it in, or lay down to get them buttoned!

I never dreamed I would be able slide into these again. Since February, I’ve lost twenty pounds.  That’s a lot, considering that I wasn’t fat to begin with.  However, those twenty pounds were necessary, because now I definitely look better, feel healthier, and am more comfortable with my body.

Want to know my secret? Five simple words:  “I love my beautiful body.”

Think about it!  A person who loves their body will take care of it.  If you were to body-sit for a loved one’s body, wouldn’t you do everything it needs, to make sure you return it happy and healthy?  You’d feed it the most nutrient-rich, yummy food you could find, and you’d give it lots of exercise, and you’d never say things like, “You’re so fat,” or “God, if you could just lose fifteen pounds…” Hell no you wouldn’t say that!!  If you were body-sitting, you would be kind and gentle, giving it everything it needed and telling it good things!

So, why is it that we don’t care for our bodies the way we know we need to?

I believe it’s has everything to do with how we think of our bodies. Instead of loving them, we put negative energy into our selves, wishing we could just lose (fill in the flaw)… or saying we’re not good enough until (fill in the ‘what am I lacking’)… Guess what!  Thoughts like that affect our bodies.

You are what you think! And by changing the way I thought, I was able to bring forth to the outside of my body what it was that I thought from the inside of it.  I wrote it in soap crayon on the tiles in my shower.  I wrote it on my mirrors.  Every time I turned the clasp on my necklace, I whispered, “I love my beautiful body.”

Eventually, I began to believe that.  The power of your thoughts is everything.  In order to break habitual thinking, or any habit for that matter, you must change that thought you express into something that is contradictory to what you have previously thought.  For instance, when I quit smoking, I changed my self-perception into, “I am not a cigarette smoker.”

At first it was a struggle.  “I love my beautiful body” conflicted with the original self image I had; it conflicted with the, I’m fats or I’m not pretty enoughs.  That confliction is why I needed the reminders to change my thinking through out my day.  I needed the necklace clasps and the soap crayons.

If you want to be beautiful from the outside, you must express beautiful things from the inside.  Do not criticize your body; love it and care for it.  Nurture it.

If you take care of your SELF, then everything else just falls into place.

Editor’s pick from Jennifer at Playgroups are No Place for Children.  I stumbled across Ash’s site and was intrigued by her uplifting and positive spirit.  A recent college graduate with a B.A. in Psychology, she has obviously been very busy, positively so, and maintains two blogs, Into the Rabbit Hole and Shine!.  You can read the original post here, but be sure to check out both sites to gain some insight into her positive thinking world.

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Stop, Thief!

Family Blog Nosh Magazine{Originally published on Is There Any Mommy Out There?}

I’ve been obsessed with time lately and how it passes. What a trickster time is, the way he seems to hand me moment after moment of joy and love and life in slow, lazy procession until I pause to look back and I’m cut down by how far I’ve traveled. All the tiny incidents add up to the whole year that my oldest children were three and my youngest was one and my last baby was thought of and conceived. I want to yell at him for the subterfuge, but he’s handing me new moments so fast that I can’t take the time, I’ll miss something important. I’m dropping the present and it’s shattering on the floor, gem by gem as I gaze backwards. I refocus on the moment in my hands and it all slows down again, to that disconcerting, tricky lull.

I tell time I know his game, I’m onto him, but it’s inevitable that I’ll forget until I look back once more. It makes me mad. I wish he’d leave me alone, stop stealing my moments and let me have them for mine. Maybe I’ll keep them in a carved wooden box on my dresser, magpie-like, the way I kept little bits of life in high school, a note, a charm, a worn braided bracelet.

I want to keep the way Quinn walks, steady but unsteady, on his toes, his fat little belly proceeding him. I want to keep the way Garrett laughs, mouth wide open, head back, his round baby face lit from within. I want to keep the way Saige runs to me at preschool pickup, the way it feels when she wraps her little body around my middle and wraps her arms around my neck. I want to keep this baby’s first tiny kicks, barely felt today, miniature popcorn popping inside my uterus.

Determined to stop his constant theft of my moments, I set a trap for time. I know if I turn and pounce quickly enough I can catch the decrepit old man. I wait for a slow, easy moment, a little lull in time’s flow and I spin faster than the earth, outside of time, grasping with both hands.

Then I falter in disbelief, caught off guard that I actually hold him in my hands and that the arm I hold is strong and young. He is timeless, handsome and confident with twinkling eyes and a devilish smile. “You got me,” he raises his hands in mock surrender. “There’s not much time. When should we go?” He leans forward, feverishly eager, “what should we change?”

Go? Change? I don’t really understand, not yet, I want a glimpse, that’s all, to steal some moments back and save them forever to visit at will. But I have this chance and time is staring at me, waiting. I don’t want to blow it. “What if I’d taken the other job out of law school?” I blurt at him quickly. “Would I have loved it? Maybe stayed an attorney? Maybe I’d have a big career now?”

“Maybe,” he fixes me with his too willing gaze and holds out his hand, falsely casual.

“Wait.” I’m suspicious. “What about Matt? He might not move to Houston. Would we still get married before graduation? What if we wait to see and grow apart?”

Time rubs his hands gleefully. “Let’s see.”

“No,” I stop him. “Not then. Some other time.”

“What about your first baby,” he entices, leaning towards me. “The first one you lost. We could go back to when his heart beat inside you. You could feel him again, maybe we could change things. You could know him.”

I am momentarily breathless. In an instant, I know. Games. Consequences.

“But then I couldn’t have Garrett.”

“True,” says Time, “true. It’s up to you.”

“Maybe something smaller,” I plead, “a moment to hold him as a newborn again.”

Time stifles a yawn and curls his lip. “Bor-ring. You’re wasting my time.” He snaps his carefully manicured fingers. “I know. We could revisit the time when you decided to adopt. You could make different choices. You could have a different little boy, he might stay with you. You could adopt two babies instead, or just your daughter. You could miss so much pain,” he tempts.

I picture it. A lot of grief avoided, but I am onto his tricks. “What happens to him?”

“Who?” he asks, all innocence.

“Our son. Does he get adopted? It’s a terrible life for the children that don’t find forever families. They have to leave the orphanage when they’re sixteen. Does he find a family that loves him?”

“I don’t know,” says Time impatiently, “we have to see.”

“His family is so right for him, he’s happy. They never would have found him if we hadn’t adopted him, there’s no other way he ends up with them.”

“Yes I know,” Time rolls his eyes, “that’s how it works.”

Take a deep breath, I tell myself, be smart, you can beat him at this game.

“My twins then. My other baby. That’s only two months back. A tiny change and they both live. They’ll still be inside of me right now. It doesn’t affect anyone but me.”

Time smiles slyly and stands up straighter. “Ready?”

I hesitate.

“What now?”

“I don’t know. I sort of believe, I mean, I like to think that his soul went to another baby. Another mother. Maybe she’d been waiting a long time.” He stares at me, uncomprehending, and I know it’s futile, but I try again. “I pretend sometimes that…the universe…thought, there is so much joy here, they can handle this pain, and so it gave the little spark to someone else.”

Time says nothing and I raise my voice angry and frustrated. “Is that how it works?”

He shrugs, “I don’t know.” His eyes narrow and he scans my face. “Is that how you believe it works?”

“I don’t know.”

“If it was, would you take it away?”

“No,” I whisper, “no, I couldn’t.”

He holds out his hand to me, palm up, fingers spread. “When do we go then?” My arms stay at my side and his arm slowly drops, his smile fades to a crestfallen look.

A tear slides down my cheek, but it is happiness, not grief that fills me. Or, maybe it is sadness, but it’s the good kind. Sadness because I’ve lived the way I want to live, most of the time, fully, optimistically, without hitting the brakes in caution, without wavering or ducking life to avoid potential pain.

“No,” I tell him, “steal what you will, I wouldn’t change a thing.”

He winces with disappointment. “Yes,” he murmurs as he fades away, “that’s how it almost always works.”

Editor’s Pick by MommyTime at Mommy’s Martini. Stacey is a writer after my own heart. She writes long, introspective, beautiful posts and tackles topics that range all over the map. With three-year-old “forced twins” (one adopted, one not), a two-year-old, and another child on the way, she more than has her hands full. And yet she finds time to think deeply and long, write profoundly, and still manages to make me laugh sometimes too. This post, in fact, is somewhat unlike her usual style in its commingling of fiction with her deepest introspection, but that is why I love it. Just when you think you’re getting to know her, she does something new. You may want to see the original comments on this post. I hope you surely will want to subscribe. You won’t regret it.

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Sangria time!

Religion and Philosophy Blog Nosh Magazine{Originally published on theRunaMuck.)

I seriously feel like I just had my lights knocked out, and I’ve woken seeing red and dusting off my rear end.

Making pitchers of sangria in kitchen

It’s sangria time, people. Are you raising your cups?

My husband and I can’t stop saying:  we only have this one life.

I’ll say it again - we only have this ONE and it’s riding like a breath on the wind, already in disintegration. So what are we doing here?

If God doesn’t shine through this spot of air He’s given me, may my computer fly to the moon, let the world wide web scramble to a fuzz, and may we meet outside weeping at each other’s necks for what we’ve been missing.

Luke 12:48 (The Message)

47-48“The servant who knows what his master wants and ignores it, or insolently does whatever he pleases, will be thoroughly thrashed. But if he does a poor job through ignorance, he’ll get off with a slap on the hand. Great gifts mean great responsibilities; greater gifts, greater responsibilities!

I have been given much. That is my confession today.

———————-

Orphans and widows, God’s heart is for you, and so should ours be. Here’s to riding this breeze with His breath in our wings, the intentions of His heart moving our feet.

———————–

On Saturday night, we visited World Garden, where the owner shared his vision for business with us. We cried together. Photographs of gorgeous children line the walls. Every meal you purchase there feeds a hungry child or supports a far-away and needy farmer.

Keep your glasses lifted here!

He blessed us, the owner and his vision for service, for selflessness. We decided then to adopt and it settled into me that God’s hands could be weaving her even now. Even now, I think of her mother, and she could be thinking of me. We ate the food, no doubt laced with love more than with the nutrition that whole foods supply, and it was whole food – beautiful and cared-for piles of it, as we have here in America, in abundance. Every bite was a rich, delicious reminder of our great responsibility and of a great inherited Love.

SO let it be that way with us! Let us enjoy this abundance, this ONE life and eat the food that multiplies to the poor. Let us do what gives us pure JOY, what serves the most High God, where he dwells in low-down places, near the broken. There is too much to gain to not eat that way, to not love because He first loved us.

Here’s to World Garden!

Cheers!

Editor’s pick by Robin at PENSIEVE.  Initially, I only knew Amber as the “Mother” of The Mother Letter Project, by helping her husband promote that Christmas-gift-of-a-blog last year.  We exchanged emails, met at BlissDom ’09, and a kindred friendship was born.  Amber’s prose is lyrical and her voice will draw you in.  She lives and loves with passion and isn’t afraid to let you see her from the inside out.  She’s not just an above average writer, her posts will stun you.  Everytime.  She’s beautiful on the outside, beautiful on the inside–you’ve just gotta subscribe to her feed and follow her on Twitter!  Be sure to check out the comment thread on her original post, too!

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Anne

Religion and Philosophy Blog Nosh Magazine{Originally posted at Flowerdust.net}

Her name is Anne.

She has fallen victim to some bad curry.

Or maybe it was the pizza.

Either way.

She wears no makeup today.

She doesn’t fix her hair.

Her eyes are red because she’s been crying.

And her bed has been one of her two closest friends.

(I’ll let you guess what her other friend has been).

anne-in-india

Two of us bloggers had to stay behind due to gastrointestinal issues. It just seemed like the smartest thing to do. Our project was out two hours on bumpy roads, and the heat index is to reach 115 degrees today.

Probably not so good for those who are naturally dehydrating themselves.

On to Anne.

In early 2008, she had it all. An amazing job working alongside two of the most respected and innovative pastors in the American church. She had a good salary, a cushy downtown apartment with red walls and hardwood floors. She had just purchased her adulthood dream car.

And sure, she was generous — at least in her own American way. She tithed to her church, gave above and beyond for new projects, and sponsored a Compassion child in Ethiopia. (The one who bought a sheep with the EXTRA money she and The Hubs sent).

Then in February, she touched poverty on a trip to Africa. She smelled it. For a week, no matter where she turned, it was there.

They had eyes of hope, but skin and bones for flesh.

They had dreams, but no clean water.

They were covered in potential, but they had no clean clothes.

And on this trip, something inside her broke. Sixteen months later, it’s never been fixed.

Anne and The Hubs quit their jobs. They moved to Nashville where they had friends with like-minded pursuits and opportunities. Now, using the internet, and video, and Twitter, and Facebook, she wants to take you as close to these under-resourced areas as possible.

You may never touch the rough hand of a young, hungry child.

Or see a two week old dying in a crib in an orphanage in Kolkata.

You may never smell what raw sewer and smoke and smog smell like on a hellishly hot and humid day.

But it is my prayer for you that something will break.

Reading our stories, and learning about the children and the families and the culture we are experiencing isn’t enough.

Yes, I am more than amazed at the response as some of you have connected to one story or another. I am amazed that close to 200 children have been sponsored because of this trip, and over 1400 have been sponsored as a result of all blogging trips.

But as Shaun said yesterday, it’s not about the money.

It’s about the relationship you and a child a world away will have. It’s about them hearing they are loved. It’s about praying for them. And knowing they are praying and thinking about you.

See that? Those are sponsor letters. This Compassion office in East India processes over 1000 letters to children a week.

For The Hubs and I, over the last year and a half, it’s been about living with less. It has taken time, but we have cut our expenses literally in half. In the summer, we will be moving into an 800 sq ft, 1 bedroom cottage thanks to our friends who have so graciously rented it to us for a more than reasonable price. Our credit cards are paid off. We’ve canceled things like cable and wireless cards and I’m even weaning myself off my beloved Lunesta to save another $50/month.

I tell you this not in pride, but because as we have developed these relationships with the sponsored children we have, they continue to affect us. They continue to bring us to new levels of “comfort.” For us, “comfort” doesn’t mean what it used to mean.

We can’t be comfortable the way we used to be.

I’m not going to try and passive-aggressively manipulate you. This trip is about getting children sponsored, yes. Not only for the financial freedom $32 brings them a month, but for the financial freedom it will bring you as you store up in treasures elsewhere. I’m not talking about heaven. I’m talking about Africa, India, Burkina Faso.

Your own home.

This girl named Anne is not perfect. She still spends far too much money on clothes and hair product. (Just ask my roommate on this trip). This girl still makes decisions that are meaningless and selfish.

But she also believes with all of her heart that one child sponsorship will not only change the life of someone across the world, it will change yours in ways you can never imagine.

If you feel stuck…trust me on this. Just trust me. Because I’ve been there.  There is freedom in truth. There is freedom in carrying the burdens of others.

You will be amazed.

I promise.

Here’s the link to look at the children that need your help.

This is my ask.

The rest is up to you.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Editor’s pick by Robin at PENSIEVE.  I first discovered Anne’s blog, Flowerdust, during the inaugural Compassion International Bloggers’ trip to Uganda.  Her moving accounts of meeting Poverty face-to-face gave evidence to the changes going on in her heart.  She became a woman of action.  Continuing to read her since then, and having opportunity to spend time with her during our recent Compassion~India trip, I’m inspired by her work and words, and grateful to call her friend. Click through to see the response to her original post, subscribe to her feed, buy her book “Mad Church Disease” and follow her on Twitter.  You might just find Flowerdust to be your new favorite blog find!

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