30 April 2011

The Next Great Adventure

For today's blog post, I turn to the wise words from a trifecta of wise men: two fictional, one not.

Brent's grandmother passed away earlier this week.  Her funeral was yesterday.  She was 90 and had been in failing health for months, so no, her death was not unexpected.  Despite that, the grieving process for  the rest of us here still on Earth is still rather bumpy and sad.

When someone has lived a fairly long life, I remember these quotes and take comfort:

"To the well-organised mind, death is but the next great adventure." - Albus Dumbledore (Harry Potter)

"Death is just another path...one we must all take." - Gandalf the Grey (Lord of the Rings)

Death is a part of life, part of the cycle.  We can't escape, and really, those who want to are unwise.  Death is the welcome gift after a long, weary period of living.

Of course, these quotes are really only for those who are at the end of their lives.  They don't speak much for the pain of unexpected death.  For that sentiment, I turn my good ol' standby: The universe unfolds as it should...and I am not meant to understand everything it does.

However, I might also add this gem to my repetoire...by one of my ultimate favorites: Socrates.

To fear death, my friends, is only to think ourselves wise without being wise, for then we think we know what we really do not.  Death may be the greatest good that can happen to some, but many men fear it as if it was the greatest of evils.  And what is this but that shameful ignorance of thinking that we know what we do not know?

Indeed.  Death may be the greatest good.  We treat nearly always as if it is a horrible thing.  What is that but a prideful, ignorant knowledge in something we do not know?

26 April 2011

Ruminations After Thirty Some Years...

Thirty-six years ago today, I was about to be sprung from my mom's womb.

The question is not how many lives have been affected by my presence, but how has my life changed over the last three and a half plus decades?

Thirty years ago, I was six.  I'd just survived a massive head lice infestation.  Cure: to lop off my thick, straight, beautiful, brown, down-to-the-middle-of-my-back hair.  I was an 80s child in a shag 70s haircut.  Gone.

It was a travesty from which I would never, ever recover.  My hair would never again reach that length...nor shoulder-length, for that matter.

Twenty years ago, I was sixteen.  I was in the throes of experiencing the bitterest disappointment a high school sophomore could - the inability to obtain my drivers' license.  The Iowa Department of Transportation was not administering driving tests on my birthday.  I would have to come back another day.

It certainly wasn't the first disappointment I'd experienced, and it certainly wouldn't be the last.

Fifteen years ago, I'd just turned twenty-one.  My parents drove nearly two hours (on a weeknight) to take out me to Red Lobster in Ames, Iowa.  I ordered my first alcoholic beverage (strawberry daiquiri). Today, they took me to Dairy Queen to ice cream.  I guess it just goes to show: no matter how much I slander and libel my parents, they're still pretty awesome.

Ten years ago, I was twenty-six.  I was a mom of a two-year-old toddler and a one-month-old infant.  I was tired, overweight, and postpartum'd.  I was on maternity leave in my second year of teaching.  I was so busy establishing a career and growing babies that I didn't have the energy to contemplate my professional or personal happiness too deeply.  I figured the contentment would come because I was "doing things by the book".

Five years ago, I was thirty-one.  We just moved to Iowa from Minnesota about nine months before.  I was teaching at my old high school...I was living in my hometown...I was close to my parents.  Life seemed shiny and new; the novelty hadn't worn off yet.

And now, at thirty-six years, I know more than I did back then, but there is less I am now sure of.  I have not found my dream job yet.  I am only just beginning to understand the enormous responsibilities that come with raising young people.  I've learned that there are some things in this world that are just not worth the trouble they cause.  I take my diet and exercise much more seriously now.  I've grown more mellow in some way and more cynical in others.

I cannot even begin to predict what five more years will hold for me.

24 April 2011

Rewriting History

Just today I finished the arduous (kind of) task of transferring my old Blogstream posts over here to Blogger.  Naturally, with nearly five years' of mental meanderings in front of me, some picking and choosing was in order.  I copied and pasted anything that made me laugh or seemed particularly insightful or clever.  I discarded the mundane posts about day-to-day stuff...and eventually, I began deleting the negative, whining, complaining posts that had started to creep up into my blog.  Also, I noticed many dark, depressing, sad posts as well...I might have kept a couple of those, but not many.

I was struck by two thoughts as I was wrapping up this process.  One - it might be time to start up visits to my psychologist again.  Judging by some of my old Blogstream posts, and even some here, something ain't stirring the mental Kool-Aid, so to speak.  And two - I am reminded of the old adage 'history is written by the winners' and that I now know what those guys at the Council of Nicaea felt.

The Council of Nicaea was the meeting(s) of the religious leaders of the day (way back in the 11th century I believe) to decide, among other things, which books to include in the Bible.  A consensus and majority vote, and just like that, Mary Magdalene was relegated to 'common prostitute'.  A great demonstration of the power of omission.

Same thing with me, right?  On April 30, those blog posts over at Blogstream will be gone forever unless I've saved them.  However, I'm choosing not to save them all.  I chose the ones that portray me in somewhat of a positive light and make me think of happy things.  Even though the dark stuff is a part of me too, I don't want to be reminded of it.  It remains to be seen if the power of omission in my case is as powerful as for the leaders of Christianity.

21 April 2011

If What You Seek You Find Not Within...

...you will never find it without.

This statement, among many others, is part of the Wiccan Rede, and it asks me to first find strength within myself, because without it, I won't find it anywhere else.

I have felt off-kilter for some time now - and tonight, for the first time in a long time, I have felt the call of the Universe.

After doing a bit of meditating and centering, I pulled out my Tarot cards...to see what answers awaited me there.  I am seeking strength and the ability to find beauty in all things...and I pulled out The Queen of Cups.  Here's what the (paraphrased) literature says:  the Cups suit is associated with Venus and the receptive aspect of the Divine Feminine.  The Cups offer us the drink of life, love, inspiration, and pleasure.

It might sound pretty vague so far, but wait...

The Queen is the ultimate embodiment of Venus - mistress of life, love, beauty...but she also inspires people to look within to nourish their souls.  Let me just say, I did not read the Queen of Cups bit in my tarot guide until after I typed in the title to tonight's blog post.  Interesting coincidence.

But it gets better...the Queen may also represent a desire to love and nurture others.  There is also a connection to a woman who inspires others to live harmoniously.  This might be pooh-poohed as a "vague branch of fortunetelling" until I think about my aunt's birthday party, which I attended about three hours ago.

My aunt Connie turns 65 today.  She is what modern vernacular would refer to as "special needs".  She grew up labeled "slow".  Her mind stopped developing right around eleven, twelve years old.  She has always been cared for by a member of the family, usually her sisters.  However, with one of them passed on recently, and the other caring for an ailing husband - Aunt Connie was accepted into an assisted living house about three weeks ago.  She has been learning how to shop for herself, prepare meals for others, work at a job, and function somewhat independently in the world.

It seems like this would be a traumatic change for a sixty-five-year-old woman with limited brain capacity.  However, being one of the most buoyant, upbeat, optimistic people I know...she has adjusted so well to her new lifestyle.  She goes to plays, to movies, out to eat with friends - things she is doing for the first time in her life!

My heart nearly burst, watching her tonight at the party celebrating her birth.  She was grinning from ear to ear, so, so happy to be surrounded by friends and family.  It made me wonder When was the last time I smiled like that, being surrounded by my family and friends?  For the first time in a LONG time, I didn't dwell on my own dissatisfactions, complaints, injustices that I "seem" to experience on a daily basis.  I was able to enjoy her enjoying herself.

She's my inspiration.  To live harmoniously - to live positively, happily.  She inspires me to see the beauty and wonder in all things.  Perhaps she is my Queen of Cups.

17 April 2011

Pretty Good Sunday

Ham and cheese omelet
Time with my mom
Coupon clipping

A 10:30 appointment with Dr. Crabby

Sunny Sunshine
High 50 temperature
Two willing children
Rakes and saws and wagons
A backyard free of winter debris
And a garden ready for tilling and planting.

A shower
An orchestra concert
BBQ chicken in the crockpot
Ice cream and chocolate chip bars
Now - Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

Pretty Good Sunday.

14 April 2011

Another Reminder That The Universe Is In Charge and I'm Not Supposed to Know What's Going On

I know I'm supposed to be working on moderation and going with the flow and letting things happen as they will...

And mostly I know not to question why things happen, because I'll never receive a satisfactory answer.

But every now and then, I hit a bump in the road and I wonder What the hell?

1.  Two days ago, I was in on a conference call with the parent of a special needs student.  This meeting had already been scheduled one time before - and while we're all assembled there, the parent (on the phone) informs the counselor that he is really, really busy and can't participate in his child's meeting right now.  What the hell?#1.

2.  This morning, I found out one of my hardest-working, most lovely students has been diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma, a form of cancer.  What the hell?#2.

3.  On a very windy night, my oldest son opens the front seat car and dings the black Chevy Impala next to us.  The guy proceeds to get out of the car, examine the non-existent mark, and mumble something about getting a guy to fix it for him.  What the hell?#3.

I know things are happening in this universe that are above and beyond my knowledge.  I have no right to question or assume anything in this world.  But, still, I just cannot process these things at all.

10 April 2011

This Post Brought To You By *Autopilot*

...makers of "Tired As Hell" and "Lack of Ambition".

So many good things came today out of a chat I had this afternoon with a friend.  The numero uno epiphany was: I must get my rear end back into part-time work as soon as possible.  This full-time thing is for the birds.

I mean, I can't unknow something once I've known it.  Once I've discovered how much smoother my house runs when I'm only teaching part-time, I can't be happy going back to full-time stressed out eight-to-four chaos.

Nearly everything I have an interest in has fallen by the wayside: my novel, my freelancing for the newspaper, food interests, graduate school...all forgotten because all my energies are spent just getting through each day at work.

My weekends are a crapshoot too, because as much as I'd like to just enjoy it and relax, I've always got schoolwork to do, to plan, to grade.  I am crabby as hell on Sunday night, it feels like.  Or I'm exhausted.  Or I'm overwhelmed.  Or I feel blah.

You get the point.  I'm on autopilot...doing things out of routine.  Not thinking too deeply about any one thing...and thus, not really thinking at all.  Not dreaming, either. 

Oy.  Seven weeks until school's out.  A little under eight weeks till Alaska.  Must soldier on.

09 April 2011

Quote For Today

"Among those whom I like or admire, I can find no common denominator, but among those whom I love, I can; all of them make me laugh."
— W.H. Auden
This was on a facebook friend's wall.  I dunno why, but it really strikes a chord today.  Separates the wheat from the chaff, so to speak, and puts some things into perspective.
Happy Saturday!

03 April 2011

Sundays Get a Bad Rep

Really, they do.

For many typical Americans, Saturdays mark the high point of the week. Saturdays are nearly the only day of the week wholly without work or school responsibilities. It's the only day of the week where it is okay to both sleep in and stay up late.

Following that act, it's no wonder that Sundays come up a bit short.

While there are many, many people who enjoy Sundays simply because of the day of devotion to God, there are many others who feel hampered by that very devotion. They attend church because they feel that they should.  After lunch, the rest of the Sunday might be spent catching up on laundry, work, chores, etc.  No doubt, most of them soon feel Sunday's imminent pull towards the beginning of the work or school week...no matter what their schedule may be.

I myself am no unique creature in this regard. In lieu of church, much of my morning today was spent in my kitchen (my "church" of sorts): puttering, baking, cooking, etc. Because of the nice weather, we all worked on outside "stuff" (me = sweeping garage and sorting the recycling). The entire family spent about forty minutes on the bike trail this afternoon as well. With kids' soccer practices and meetings and whatnot, these are activities not usually part of the weekly schedule....thus, they are squeezed in on a Sunday afternoon.

Usually, a nicer, more complicated meal is served on Sundays, simply because I have the energy to do so. Then, kids have baths, lunches are prepared for the next day, backpacks are prepped up, the final batch of laundry is folded and put away...and then, we relax with a movie. This is a Sunday tradition that has worked its way into our family in the last few months - usually it's a comedy. We somehow just feel that need to laugh out loud.

By 8:15, the kiddos are in bed (the only night they all go to bed at the same time), and then the husband and I are left to fritter away the remaining hours in whatever way we see fit...

in whatever way we see fit...

01 April 2011

Who Will Buy This Glorious Weekend?

Hark!  The words of the immortal Mark Twain:

"The first of April is the day we remember what we are the other 364 days of the year."
-  Mark Twain

It is the first day of April, and it's a Friday!  Today I remember that I am alive, hopeful, and grateful.

What it is that you are remembering today?  Who are you?