Getting it…

Leadership with education

understanding rocks

hard to come by but precious

explaining sucks chunks

JSmith 03/07/2017

#ShePersisted

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It all fits…somewhere…

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Immersed in my current obsession again this morning, another big jigsaw puzzle on my desktop. It’s one way to kick my brain cells into gear before noon, along with about a gallon of coffee, and the sunshine outside my windows.

Obsessions, like the rest of life, can add to our education if we’re paying attention. For today’s wake-up challenge I chose one with a semi-tough blend of colors and upped the percentage of oddball pieces, as well as the total number, and as I’m working away my stream of consciousness goes something like “Okay, that one might work, just try it. Wow, so close. So many pieces, but it’s one per spot, focus until you see it. Look for one at a time, just one, but if you run across one that goes somewhere else grab it,” which taken together strikes me as a rolling metaphor for life.

I give the pieces names: one that’s concave on all four sides is a squishy, the fun pieces are toys, if there’s a bubble on top with upraised arms and a wide bottom that’s a snow angel, the ones with droopy or proud tabs come with a ‘toon-peen warning, like that. And there’s always an empty spot that doesn’t seem to have a match anywhere on the board, but toward the end, there it is. It doesn’t look like it could be right until you drop it in place…and then it’s a perfect blend. Subtlety is so easily missed…

Guess that was Granny Smith’s little homily for the day, make of it what you will. But do keep your eyes open for opportunities and sweet link-ups that can change the whole picture, and I wish you well with solving the puzzle that’s currently in front of you. MUAH!

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Keep peace in your soul …

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self-care is hard-learned

after all options used up

rest has to happen

JSmith 02/15/2016

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Ignorance is blistering…

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I read a stunning statistic this morning* that blew both Kim and me away – over half of Americans believe it should be illegal for a woman to keep her last name after marriage, WHAAAT??

Of course that represents people who were actually polled, which I’d like to think means half of those surveyed in rural areas, remote hollers, and socially isolated mountain ranges rather than honest-to-goodness 21st Century Americans who know what’s up, because this finding is both laughable and disturbing.

Events until recently seemed to indicate that we were steadily moving toward a better world informed by human equality in every direction, but here we are still fighting the same old shit that first raised our collective consciousness in the 60s. Unbelievable.

A world without women and our influence is not to be contemplated, so why is the focus so rarely on what’s good for us? (Simple question for the Luddites among us, please show your work.) All you pathetic cases of arrested male development endlessly stuck in junior high need a brighter awareness of truth: Women have 100% of the babies. Just the facts, Jack, and your ideal little world starts to go downhill after one generation, so what are you thinking? Oh wait…

This crap is so silly I thought it must be “fake news” but no such luck, so I’m sitting here hoping I don’t know anyone with this attitude and outlook, it would shatter my heart, hyperbolically-speaking.

Prejudices, stereotypes, and backward thinking are buried so deep in our nation’s psyche, how is it we believe we’ll ever dig out, but women are fierce and we don’t quit. That alone should show you what we’re made of, but that’s okay – we’ll keep doing what we do because – what else? Respect is owed, but we’re used to working without it, so don’t give it another thought, you guys all persevere in your empire-building and let us know how that’s workin’ out for ya’. But here’s how it is: Brains are the new tits and you’re falling behind.

 

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* The Name Game

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From hope to hope…

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chilly damp and gray

life alters and love is all

we cling to the true

JSmith 11/22/2016

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The only safety…

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when someone loves you

your name feels safe in their mouth

your heart is their gem

JSmith 11/19/2016

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Safety that counts…

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being seen and heard

gifts to those we meet in life

gifts of wings and joy

JSmith 11/19/2016

 

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Be not afraid…

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First you cry, that’s what they say…unless you’re stunned into silent disbelief, in which case you walk around still living and breathing in a world that turned strange in an all too familiar direction overnight while you were sleeping…and you keep doing this – living while dead…and then ten days in, you’re spending possibly the last warm evening of the season outside with your husband…and he starts telling you things he’s never told you before about how life changing it was for him to love and care for your former mother-in-law for the last six years of her life, and how important it became to him that she not be afraid…and like that, you find yourself back with your dad in the nursing home while he slides deeper into dementia and can’t find the handholds, and he knows what’s happening, sometimes, and he’s afraid…and you’re there to reassure him and encourage him back to peace…and when he’s dying, and he knows it, and he’s afraid…you’re there to warm his chest with your hands and remind him about love and forgiveness, and to let him go…and to stay right there until the fear of the unknown leaves his eyes and his agonized lungs call it a life and end the struggle.

That might be when you finally cry, because maybe the enormity of what has transpired has funneled down to this one fact: you can’t BE THERE for everyone you love when it’s their turn in the barrel and shit gets real, and they are justifiably afraid. But you’re going to wish you could be…so much.

Now that you’ve kicked DENIAL’s ass, you can slope right on down the road into ANGER, wherein you make it clear to one and all that their opinion is not your reality. In addition, it’s where you figure out who really loves you, because they so have their work cut out for them, by which we mean how long can you watch somebody implode, and still maintain radio silence?

“The truth will set you free, but first it will piss you off.” ~Gloria Steinem

There’s no point in BARGAINING, what’s done is done, and you hope to skip the DEPRESSION stage because you have to wonder if you’d come back.

So what about ACCEPTANCE, then, the accepted final stage of grief and loss? Not happening. You can accept that it happened, but not that it’s normal, and you know that means you’ll be at odds with about half your family and acquaintances for the duration, whatever it turns out to be. Your friends will be right where they’ve always been – in your corner and ready to defend you from pain and harm – but some of the relationships in your life will be and already are fraught with tension and division.

Borrowing generously from Amanda Diebert’s moving blog piece called “Dear Trump Supporter who says they love me”

“A man actively promised to dismantle and harm my family. To destabilize the security of my child. To harm relatives and friends and you still voted for him.

“Those other reasons matter more to you than my life and my family. It was on the line and you chose. That is the reality.

“And I know, I know that makes you really angry that I actually said it. That I won’t let you off the hook. We have a long history and you’ve made it clear I’m supposed to apologize for making you feel guilty with all my social media posts about my sadness and my anger. I should get over it already. Your guy won and you are such a nice person and how dare I… 

“First of all, you love me? Stop telling me how to grieve.

“Yeah, I know that’s not WHY you voted for him {his racism, misogyny, homophobia, et.al.}, but again, it didn’t stop you. Actively applauding someone who is doing wrong does make you culpable.

“I’m tired. ……. I do not have to apologize for you hurting me.

“You hurt me and now you are telling me I am not allowed to be sad or scared or angry.

“At the very least you allowed me to be hurt by someone else while you condoned that abuse with a ‘yes’ vote. You gave it your stamp of approval and now you are telling me my pain doesn’t exist.

“That is not love.

“I keep being told (by the people who harmed me) that I need to be a model example of ‘we go high.’

“…this is a long road. It’ll take a while, but you said you love me and you didn’t mean to hurt me.

“So let me heal while you do the work to show that you recognize the pain you caused and are working to minimize its impact.

“If you don’t want to do that work: okay.

“By ‘okay’ I do not mean I forgive you or that we are cool. I mean, you have made a decision and I will react to it accordingly. Notice I didn’t say respect it. A blatant disregard for the well being of others is not worthy of respect. But I will acknowledge this is a choice you made and I will walk away.

“Also, yeah, I do judge you for this. I’m being super honest about that, just in case you thought I might try to gaslight you too.”

You can read Amanda’s blog piece here: You Say You Love Me

I relate to everything she wrote – she’s a woman and she describes the pain of people who are my world. Nothing in the days, weeks, and months ahead will be easy, and much of it won’t be pretty. But I vow never to accept those things as “the new normal.” That kind of acceptance is a bridge too far.

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Missing my bestie…

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My 24/7 buddy, who doesn’t have headaches or backaches or insomnia, and is seldom waylaid by a bug, has been down for two weeks with all of the above plus a cough that won’t give up. Stepped-up inhaler hits and a steroid are improving his color and infusing a skosh of energy, but he isn’t much fun right now, go figure.

And it’s all about moi, of course, you knew that, right? So bless the Rio Olympics!! Two gray days running – making it feel like an early fall here  – and we’re snuggled in with the TV coverage, reading, writing, snacking, talking – whenever The KIMN8R isn’t napping. After two lifetimes of experience with it, we got married to spend all our time together, so it’s good that options exist for making sure that happens. The Big Guy scares me just a little when he turns into a skinny ghost, but his wicked humor is peeking through again and I’m detecting a hint of Guido Mode in his voice. Gonna live – that’s good enough for an overcast Monday in August.

Enjoy yours, boys & girls. ❤️

 

 

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Kicking over the traces…

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Do you ever want out of your skin? You know, because you’re worn out from thinking all the thoughts that pile up in your brain like kindling, splinters poking and needling. Because the stuff held in by your skin hurts all day every day. Because someone you love is stressed and unhappy and you can’t fix it. Because the world isn’t kind and the slings & arrows extract their pound of flesh and energy every freaking day and you’re tired of the ugly. Because all the relentless hurt hurts so relentlessly. And you finally drop your guard and share some of the pain to make it feel less potent and you’re hit with the ice-bucket challenge – dispiriting to the max. Meanwhile, your heart flutters like a bird in your chest and you fully grasp why people drink and do drugs.

Yeah, me too, bubbie, getting out of this skin is Job 1 today; however, that’s apparently not happening, which leaves humor for toughing it out. What’s your antivenin of choice – deadpan, dark, ironic, satirical, blue, highbrow, slapstick, something else… what helps you get through the night? It would be a kindness to come share some of it with us – we’re dyin’ heah. Life is so simple most of the time that when it turns crunchy it’s really noticeable. The world is full of crazy-ass people who make me want to cry, mean-ass people who do make me cry, willfully-ignorant people who make me want to leave the planet – I don’t feel like seeing ANY of it today, boo-hoo.

So come share what makes you laugh. Robin Williams knows how to make the hurt better by sharing it, so he’s my go-to guy.

 

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Known only to me…

When I am old I shall wear purple and every damn color I want, probably all at once. I’ll be just like every other dried up old malcontent you’ve encountered, but different in ways known only to me, thus this brief Manifesto of Independence is for whoever ends up having to deal with me, most likely husband and then son, not that life ever follows a script.

IN CASE OF FUTURE FULL-ON FOSSILIZATION, BREAK GLASS TO READ:

  1. If I’m hungry, all efforts are futile until food happens – I more and more don’t have the capacity to maintain sanity during hangry spells. Good news: the devil within is easily placated, provided we like what we’re being bought off with.
  2.  I still hear non-stop music inside my skull from the ice fall last winter and it can get overwhelming in a way that loosens my hinges a little. It may never go dormant, so please factor that in when trying to reason with me.
  3. If I’m certifiably demented, don’t try to reason with me at all. Too much like arguing with the proverbial porker – only serves to frustrate you and irritate the pig. I’ll probably be fine in whatever world is current for me, so don’t waste precious resources trying to talk me out of it.
  4. Likewise, if intractable pain can’t someday be addressed with legal medical-grade cannabis – the thing that stops it – then pain awareness will have to be a fixture in the equation, too. I hate that, it sucks, I’ll be doing my best to stay sweet and not cause anybody trouble, but there it is, the big whiny elephant in the room.
  5.  It will be in everyone’s best interest to keep #’s 1, 2, and 4 from happening simultaneously. Good luck to ya’.
  6.  A great set of Beats headphones and Elton & Leon’s “The Union”will keep me out of your face for days – use it. Joshua Radin, Jennifer Warnes, Jason Mraz, the soundtrack of Catch & Release, The Lone Bellow, The Milk Carton Kids…  Merely a sampling – I’ll try to keep the playlist updated* until check-out – it will always be eclectic.
  7.  I don’t require much for survival, but two must-haves beyond music are books and a way to communicate. Even if you think I’m past reading, leave a book or two around because…you never know. No fluff, no bodice-rippers, best no serials. Poetry – that’s what I want – Krista’s, please. Give me an inactivated iPhone if it seems to provide a sense of being in touch with somebody, but if we’re all fortunate I’ll simply slip into a world where none of it matters to me anymore except the good times and die with a smile on my face. Or get hit by a bus. We never know.
  8.  Apparently women past 40 are programmed to grow an increasingly disgusting amount of first dark then white extraneous hair on our faces. If you leave that shit intact I promise I will come back after I die and sleep between you and your significant other until the end of your days. I mean this.
  9. If I need to live in a care facility for the good of all concerned, please try to find one that operates like a highly tolerant family – one where eating and sleeping are managed individually rather than institutionally – that would be huge. Also, of course, where no one will hurt me, whether on staff or in residence – that’s pretty huge, too.
  10. The baseline changes imperceptibly with the decades, but I will never not want to look and smell as good as reality allows. Please don’t subject me to the pitying faces of strangers without helping me look as much like this still-me person as anyone could expect. And while I’m here – please universe, no diapers, ‘K?
  11. After I’ve made my presence felt in my immediate world for as long as I can and something takes me out of here, give me a smokin’ hot body one last time and pack my ashes to the coast – pick one – for a sweetly drunken campfire and whatever you want to say about me. Talking to you of course, Kim and John.
  12. In the past few years since I let myself start writing again, I’ve put a body of words out there in the cloud that may or may not survive in one jot or iota. As long as the synapses fire I’m sure I’ll keep contributing to that pile of thought-turned-words that will, odds-on, prove to have been solely for my own rescue. That’s another thing we never know about – where it all goes when we do. Kind of pisses me off that I won’t be around to see if any of my sentences end up on Google Search. What I’m saying is, you two guys can do what you want with what I won’t be taking with me. Big Kev knows how to get to my passwords – that’s for the wording, the bits and pieces of ME. The rest of it…you know what to do.
  13. Anyway, thirteen points being my style, that’s about it. Keep it simple, keep it all about love, keep Karma in our corner. Plus all the things I’ve ever said, ever meant to say, never thought to say – take that with you. And did I mention the love – you know all about the love.

 

I have no thought that anybody might need this vital information any time soon. But if you don’t write it down when it’s now, a day comes when you can’t say it anymore – you’re no longer your own advocate. And everybody needs one.

*Also Tracy Chapman. Keb Mo. Frank Sinatra’s “In The Wee Small Hours,” the album.

 

 

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The Art of Humaning

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Like the world outside our doors the place I call home is endlessly quirky. Our daily lives are first off influenced and impacted by the commercial entities under us and the wheels of commerce send a hum upward through the girders that assures us the world is on track, a nap would be good. Above the hum, on floors three through five, independent thought rules. We’re a collection of young to old, friendly to cold, liberal to conservative, social butterfly to I-vant-to-be-alone, moneyed to who knows/cares – the quintessential microcosm in so many directions. A neighbor-sighting is rare for me, possibly because I vant to be alone.

Consensus is often hard to come by in the governance of the building, inside and out, concerning the simplest of matters. Many tears can be spilled over a paint color while the landscaping dies clean away. We are know-it-alls and trust-me-I-know-nothings. A lawsuit is for some the quickest route to satisfaction, while for others patient thoughtful communication is the only way to go. Some are quick to take offense, some know how to deflect it, and some truly do not give a shit.

We’re a civil bunch – in the hallways, the mailroom, on the street, we’re nice AF, voluntarily forgetting what he said about…what she told her…where they stand on… Life requires it because humaning in close quarters is deadly after all the civility leaks out.

Wherever two or three are gathered, there will be the basic building blocks of personality among us and those elements have to continuously mesh in order to prevent societal meltdown, whether on a grand or intimate scale. A spinning globe scabbed over with layers of bloodied inhabitants has no alternative but to stop being stupidly selfish and help each other. It really is that simple.

Nothing about our particular living experience is new, different, or unique to the world – this is who humans are and we will never align perfectly with each other. But forget perfect, we have to collectively make the whole thing work or let it all go down the sewer – we’re out of options. Will we figure it out? Will we keep ourselves from erasing all life from the earth? Or will we hold out for what we want, damn the consequences forever?

 

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Summer Love as always…

love-watermelon

 

the hubby of me

saves my life by riveting

the little heart holes

JSmith 6/24/2016

 

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Memory of a dream…

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I move to your warmth

but you aren’t there

tears deliver me to unhinged

dreaming

and morning shows up rude

careless

awful

.

you won’t be there

ever again

nor there

nor there

and mornings will arrive

rude careless awful

forever

.

death of hope snuffs out life

a morning has to come

not rude careless awful

breathing beings cease with

only rude careless awful

but hope is pliant

she offers herself endlessly to true believers

.

JSmith 6/23/2016

 

 

 

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Memorial Weekend…again

Went back to my 2014 remembrance post this morning, knowing that for too many people every weekend is memorial weekend.

It’s a typically perfect Memorial Day morning here, like so many from my childhood, when every year we could count on it to be raining or blistering hot and windstill, or freezing cold, or all of the above, in gusts, or maybe cool and clear after one of those rains. In Lawrence this morning it’s 79º headed for 82, sunny, blue skies, humidity has dropped from 89% when I went out at 7am to 60% five hours later, and it’s exquisitely beautiful out.

But life holds more than beauty  – especially for those who will never see any of it again – and cloudy skies take over sometimes.  By 2pm we’re supposed to be mostly under cloud cover here, which seems altogether fitting for the day.

In 2016 I reshare my family’s story out of gratefulness, and out of reverence for, and abhorrence of, unspeakable loss on all sides throughout the generations.

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First posted Memorial Weekend 2014 (with edits 5/30/2016 – a personalized haiku for anyone who’s bored enough to find them all – link provided below.)

My grandpa enlisted in the Army at the age of 17 and served at the front as an infantryman during WWI.  His six sons were all military men, Army, Navy, and Marines.  The three Marines, 18, 19, and 21 were in the Korean Conflict at the same time, in the same general location, under miserable conditions.  All seven Reese military personnel returned home intact in body and went on to raise thriving families of their own.  Many of my cousins have also served with honor in the military.  The only family member I’m aware of, without digging into the archives, who was directly lost to war, was my Aunt Bette’s husband, making her a teenage widow with a baby. The baby, my cousin Vickie, is standing in front of her mother and between our grandparents in the family portrait. My mama is top right in both the portrait and the thumbnail pics, somehow descriptive of her position in my life for all time. And kudos today to my Baby Aunt Barbara, lower right in both, who put this collage together.

So thankful to have four of the original Reese Dynasty kids – Vic, Jerry, Barbara, and Roger – present and accounted for, on this Memorial Remembrance in the year 2016. Hugs and kisses all around, beloved.

Ongoing family is priceless. Feeling deeply thankful right about now.

Reese Family

 

Okay, Constant Reader, the edits took on a life of their own, so don’t even try. If, however, you’d originally thought you might, for the haiku, throw me a subject and I’ll do it anyway!

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