Easier Said Than Done

We all know that actions speak louder than words and most New Year’s resolutions are forgotten by February. I make promises to myself and others, and I am ashamed that I have a trail of broken promises behind me: “I will never have another cigarette.” or “”I promise not to tell.” I meant them when I said them. When I don’t act with integrity, guilt and shame are my emotional costs. We all want to believe that we are people of integrity even though we may not always act with integrity.

“Talk is cheap. Put your money where your mouth is.” Money is one of my most precious resources. Recently Colorado Public Radio had their fund drive, and even though I listen to them a lot and “thought” it would be a good idea to contribute, I didn’t put my money where my mouth is and actually contribute. It’s easy to talk about saving money and budgeting, but I often just give it lip service instead of really saving money. I can talk, and talk …and never get around to “Just do it!”

12 step programs and fellowships are full of wonderful axioms regarding actions and words. You can “talk the talk” or you can “walk the talk”; basically are you doing the work of the 12 steps or just talking about it. Question: How do you know when an alcoholic is lying?” Answer: If their lips are moving, they are lying. Matching words and actions is difficult and not only for the alcoholic. What parent hasn’t wanted to say to their child “Do what I say, and not what I do!” Kids are great bullshit detectors. I cringe to think of what kind of example I was to my son Tyler in my crazy moments. Fortunately, he turned out pretty good in spite of me.

When I find myself trying to rationalize my choices or behaviors I know I am on a slippery slope and may slide right past my self respect. Freud was on target when he defined the ways we humans attempt to evade responsibility for our choices and behaviors. We blame, deny, project and rationalize and then double down on our excuses. The longer my excuses the more likely I am fibbing, stretching the truth or just plain lying.

Saying just one word can be the closest we come to saying what we mean and meaning what we say. “Help” is very direct and transparent. “No” really is a complete sentence and doesn’t need further explanation. Sometimes our “yes” is compromised, it’s more I am afraid to say no or I want to manipulate your opinion of me. The most honest yes is the “Yes” punctuated by arms raised in the air in victory. Yes!

In the meantime I will be learning to do the right thing so I can love the face I see in the mirror.

Easier Said Than Done

Lost in Space

Have you seen me? Where am I? My compass is broken. My GPS is playing tricks on me, my navigator is asleep on the job and the blips on my radar are all illusions. I am lost in space. There is a tiny dot in the infinite universe that is planet Earth, and I am a tiny dot on Earth. I am small and I feel even smaller. There are phases of the moon and I am in a dark, small and dry phase. For the last two weeks I have tried to write a blog post, but my words have been a mirage in the desert, disappearing the closer I get to them. To be without words scares me to death! How can I call out for help?

When I was a young woman I wanted to be petite, girly, tiny and beautiful and what I got instead was 5’6”of “big-boned” Iowa farm girl, like my aunts on my Dad’s side. Women like me were far from petite and I was recruited to throw the shot put my senior year. I went to practice a few times, smoked some cigarettes after practice and decided that being strong was not nearly as lucrative as being pretty and flirty. Young men were not attracted to big women. It was several years before I whittled my body down to “size” and men began to notice me. I was smaller, but I was more powerful in the arena of dating and romance. Small was good, big was bad, but vice versa for a man! I remember those ads in the back of magazines from long ago for the Charles Atlas bodybuilding course. The “before”picture was a skinny guy who got sand kicked in his face, the “after” was the guy on Brawny paper towels. Big is better, a lot better.

“How far along are you? The standard question put to pregnant women everywhere. When I said I was 6 months I heard, “You look too small to be six months along.” I thought I was Moby Danita and I was “small”! Being pregnant is filling a tiny uterus until it feels so big it will burst. After giving birth the uterus becomes small again and what is left to hold is a tiny baby. Of course baby grows bigger and bigger…. while Momma shrinks as she ages. On the other hand, noses and ears seem bigger with age.

Big bucks is good and so is a small waist. A big head and a small mind is pretty common these days. It’s all relative: big, bigger, biggest and small, smaller, smallest. I keep waiting for the “just right”designation from Goldilocks. My current state of feeling small might mean that I recognize that I am not the center of the universe and have acquired some measure of humility. I am a tiny dot on planet Earth but I can still use big words.

 

Lost in Space

A Daily Dose

I stumble out of bed, (too old for bouncing), and start the day with mine and Mia doggies’ daily doses of pills, powders and liquids. Once a week I carefully load up my pill caddy, checking and double-checking, knowing it is a necessary chore because morning and night, every day, I take my medications. Some I have to hold my nose to drink, some I just pop in my mouth and swallow without water; with food, without food, one in the morning and one at night or as needed. I have the dosing and directions down pat because my medications are for chronic conditions that I have had for at least several years. If a new medication is added or one is taken away I get twitterpated because I have to adjust my routine. I don’t like taking my numerous medications, but I don’t like the results if I don’t take them even more.

Mary Poppins sang “ A spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down….” and I don’t think she was referring to the sugar in alcohol or candy, although I have tried these sugars and others to help lifes’ medicines go down. Take your medicine, it will make you feel better, but it won’t taste good and may cause side effects. Oh, those side effects!! Lots of things we know are good for us, don’t necessarily feel good right away. No pain, no gain.

Some pills can make us high and some pills can kill, we can take too many and overdose. We may try to end pain and in the process kill ourselves. Lives are saved everyday by medications we have created. There’s the good and the bad, the use and abuse, and the therapeutic dose and overdose. We hope the pills we take on a daily basis maintain our health. If our pill bottle has a skull and crossbones on it that’s not a good sign, but sometimes poison tastes really good and psyche poison may be especially sweet. What am I putting in my body and in my mind?

It’s best if we are an informed consumer and question the physician about what medications we are on, why we are on them and what to look out for. So I ask myself: “A daily dose of what?” A horse pill of anger and resentment is a big pill but I can get it down. It makes me nauseous and self -righteous and the most common side effect is continued victimhood. All too often I prescribe this nasty pill to myself, it’s been in my medicine cabinet for years and I am afraid to just stop taking it for fear of withdrawal. Who would I be without resentment? If I am “popping” pills I need to consider what results I am aiming for. A daily dose of gratitude will do more to promote happiness than a daily dose of negativity. A daily dose of self-compassion will give me a chance at loving myself, while a daily dose of “I am not good enough.” is not likely to help me feel better. What else am I dosing myself with?

A Daily Dose

Crazy Quilts

Crazy quilts are usually made with rich, shimmering pieces of fabric, cut in odd shapes and sizes and joined together with contrasting thread and various embroidery stitches. It doesn’t bore the eye with order, it is beautiful in a haphazard sort of way. Memory quilts are made from pieces of fabric from the makers clothing which were worn at special events or were every day favorites. Put them together and you have a crazy, memory quilt that depicts a lifetime and a timeline. I want to start gathering my quilt pieces, arrange them in a pleasing way and begin to sew them together and embroider with the threads of my life. There is more to come but inventorying what I have now shows me the colors and textures I have collected.

I pick up the pink nubby fabric that was my Easter dress when I was 12, I wore it with a white brimmed hat and black shoes with a bow and a tiny heel. Yes, Easter was really all about new Easter outfits and not some silly resurrection from the dead. I remember looking around the church and comparing my pink empire dress with others’ dresses and thinking “Not too bad Danita, but Pam’s outfit is better.” I made my senior graduation dress, a royal blue polyester knit A-line with puffy sleeves and Nehru collar. I spilled a cup of whiskey and 7-Up down the front of it partying on graduation night. I was such a sophisticated senior.

 

Denim is scattered through out my quilt: blue jean bell bottoms with legs so wide small animals could have nested in them and the Jean Jacket that was part of my tough Danita wardrobe. I was with the wrong crowd for awhile and I loved it until the wrong didn’t feel right anymore. A bit of karma, the jacket was stolen from me! All these different shades of denim through the years, bleached out, dark, striped and black. Oh, the styles! Bell-bottoms, skinny jeans, boot cuts, straight legs and zipped up. And I can’t forget the historic stars and stripes jeans from my freshman year in college. Let’s call them my hippie protest jeans. Somewhere in this style history were hip hugger jeans with zippers about 3 inches long and my “skinny” jeans and my “fat” jeans.

T-shirt’s and more T-shirts. Roger and I had a communal pile which we grabbed from in the early morning heading out for our walks. Mostly grays and greens(CSU) and whites. I picked up T-shirt’s by the bundle at the thrift store and we laughed when people asked us if we liked Hawaii or whatever race the T-shirt advertised! After Roger died I asked my son to donate all the T-shirt’s he had in his closet at the care facility. I knew I would smell Roger in them and I would never wear them. Lots of soft t-shirt fabric in my quilt and in my memory.

My purple velvet skirt and vest was one of my favorite outfits from high school. This fabric is perfect for crazy quilts. My bright yellow windbreaker, which covered my butt would be a punch of bright shiny fabric too. Corduroy, lots of corduroy in rich colors and textures that made a swishing sound when I walked. Lace tops, lacy mantillas for church and lacy underwear will add the girlie touch.

So how to stitch all the quilt pieces together? There has to be red thread for the blood I shed each month and giving birth to my son. Red for heart and love. A cross-stitch embroidery stitch would be nice in red. Blue, lots of blue thread for my blue eyed family, my son Tyler, Roger and me and my parents and 12 siblings. A blue running stitch flowing through my quilt like a winding river sounds just right. Gotta be lots of green thread for all the hikes and walks taken. Gold thread for bling and all the treasures in my life….

Crazy Quilts

Be Happy, Damnit!

Everyone wants to be happy. “If you’re happy and you know it clap your hands!” “Don’t worry, be happy!” “Happy”, the song that made me unhappy after hearing it 1 million times. I have read through entire sections of Self-Improvement at several bookstores. I have been therapized for most of my adult life and been on anti depressant drugs I don’t remember the names of. Caveat: Anti-depressants can be life savers, as they were and are for me, but they do not make you happy, they bring you to a level of health and the getting happy is still up to me and you. I have ran, meditated, danced, walked and wrote and although each are wonderful they did not make me happy. I am loved and have been loved but even this does not make me happy. Alcohol and illegal drugs for sure did not make me happy and that’s not for lack of trying.

Should I give up on being happy? I never give up, but lately I have been seriously questioning how well “never giving up” has worked for me. Try and try harder, that’s how things get done, right? Getting happy must require a lot of work and attention, otherwise everybody would be happy. My favorite dead politician, Abe Lincoln, said: “Folks are usually about as happy as they make their minds up to be.” So I just need to make up my mind to be happy—-no problem! My mind got me into this place of dissatisfaction and my mind can get me out. What about if reality sucks, how can I think differently if reality does not change. Another of my favorite fellas, Shakespeare wrote these words for Hamlet, “There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.” Seems like both Abe and Hamlet were on the same track: the mind is a horrible thing to waste if you are aiming for happiness. Turns out that choosing our thoughts and focus, and making a commitment to seeing the positives may indeed be the road to take to happiness. Is the glass half full or half empty? If we see the glass as half full we have the advantage in the pursuit of happiness.

I make observations and judgements that are true only to the extent that I believe them to be true. I can focus on gratitude or victimhood. I can use my thoughts to beat myself up or to cultivate self compassion. I never liked my Mother’s lame suggestion: “Count your blessings.” Maybe, just maybe my Mothers suggestion wasn’t so lame. If I am focused on my blessings I don’t have the mental energy to tally all my curses too. Blessings in, blessings out or curses in, curses out, my mind can be programmed either way. I do get to choose what thoughts I entertain so why not entertain thoughts that help me feel better instead of worse.

Sometimes when my focus is on the current moment I can be overcome by beauty. This morning I was laying on my sofa, crocheting and cuddling with my doggies. The sun was shining through the patio door, shadows were playing on the wall and my orchids were reaching for the sun. Now that’s a miracle—-my orchids love me and bloom several times a year and have so many blooms at a time. I am so grateful they offer their beauty to me. The birds were singing and it seemed a happy song. I was thinking about this blog post on happiness and counting my blessings. I suddenly realized that this, this moment in time, was a moment of happiness. Tears filled my eyes and I said aloud “This is happiness. I see it and feel it!” And then the joy I felt broke into a million pieces, too many blessings to count.

Be Happy, Damnit!

I’ve Been Hacked!

I was hacked! “Your password has been changed to your online banking, if you did not do this call immediately” Ping, ping, one message after the other, I watched as the money in my accounts was emptied out. I didn’t even have time to call to stop the invasion, and the
deed was done. Long story short, with the help of a very kind banker and my very kind son, although I am still currently without funds, the claim is in process and money from heaven will be arriving in the next few days. I felt violated and angry that someone was invading my privacy and I was not safe. While on hold waiting to file the claim, the banker shared pictures of his first grandchild, a little fellow with big eyes who was very alert. John, the banker, plays guitar and plays around town, so we talked stringed instruments, as in guitars and banjos. Hard to imagine, but I enjoyed our conversation and was grateful that he was on hold for an hour with the fraud department so we had time to chat. My son came over on his white horse/in his white car and saved the day by helping me change all my passwords on my iPad. I am not happy I was hacked, but I did have some enjoyable time cleaning up the mess. Go figure!

I grumble. I like that word, it’s so perfect for the action. Anyway I grumbled today when it quit snowing and blowing and I got dressed to shovel my driveway and sidewalk. I called my friend across the street and she asked who had shoveled for me! I peeked out the door and lo and behold it was clean and shoveled! I was once again struck by the kindness of others. I don’t know who did it, but I am so grateful. I hate to play the age card, but sometimes I just feel too old to do some of the physical stuff I used to do.

There are moments of grace and kindness sprinkled throughout my days, if ( a big if) I pay attention and get out of the way. To give or receive kindness requires an open mind so there is a channel for goodness. When I am totally self absorbed and obsessed I can’t offer kindness to anyone and may not recognize kindness if it hit me over the head. I know I want to be a kind person, but I also want to pick and choose who I am kind to. If I like them and they are like me, then I will be kind. There is something wrong with this line of reasoning but I resist challenging it. Kindness can build bridges between people who are very different,  but building new infrastructure is much harder than crossing a bridge that is already built and in use. It’s the perceived differences between”them” and “us” that “Trump” our similarities and our desire to be kind.

Kindness is not earned, it is offered. I can choose to be kind to a person I don’t like and even offer kindness to myself when self recrimination is the activity for the day. Accepting kindness from others is not always easy for me, I want to write up an I.O.U. I am sure there is no ledger for kindness and kind acts, but I want the books to balance. Offering, allowing and accepting kindness frees you and me to be the best we can be. Pass it around.

 

 

 

I’ve Been Hacked!

Blankety, Blank

I won’t be writing a blog post this week. I just don’t have anything interesting to say. My creativity is on a road trip and I’m just a tiny figure in the rear view mirror. Sometimes self-discipline will compel me to sweat out some bloggy type words, but even discipline is a no- show. So that leaves pretty much nothing, unless you count boredom and passiveness and I don’t really care if you do or don’t. There’s no wind to blow me “which way” so I am not a body in motion that will tend to stay in motion.

It feels kinda good to take the writing week off. Writing is highly over-rated. I have personal time I can use. It’s a “staycation” in the dead of winter. Stringing profound and life changing words together is really too much work for me. I don’t even want to answer yes or no questions, I would need to think and thinking hurts my head.

As a matter of fact a nap sounds pretty good right now. There is no amount of coffee that will rev me up enough to write a few words. I might drink my coffee and stare out the window and watch the birds. I can daydream, but I don’t want to write anything down on paper. Who does that anyway? I mean actually write on paper and not type on the keyboard. I have never taken a typing class, or I guess they call it a keyboard class now. I only type about 25 wpm so even typing wears me out. So it’s not penmanship anymore it’s keyboardmanship. These are my important and irrelevant musings. You can think about it if you want, but I have already lost interest.

A stupid movie or a stupid book? It’s a good day for stupid. I am not “like really smart” or a “stable genius” like some stupid presidents we won’t mention. I have nothing of substance to offer. Why waste your time and mine? I’m pulling the plug on my blogpost today because it’s brain dead. There is no evidence of any brain activity or imagination. Take 2 aspirin and call or text me in the morning and see if I care. I might have to get back to you later because I will be writing my blog tomorrow.

Blankety, Blank