Not my job, man…

Liberating thought of the week: It is not my job to save you from yourself.

Thank you, universe, the answers always come if we can be patient enough.

So here’s the thing: when you’re the firstborn, it’s all on you in ways you don’t get until much later… but it’s a fact that when you’ve been an only child ’til close to five, you decide you know everything and are large and in charge. The role fit my justice-driven little mindset and I owned all the bossy responsibility, except for the hard work – that was Rita’s job. And now in my dotage, I’m still trying to order my personal world the way I like it. Is that misguided or what? Who does that?? The things we absorb in childhood soak into our DNA and take up residence as part of us… so sorting it all out isn’t an assignment for sissies. But if what you really want is for life not to continue along the same deepening rut, you have to change something… the only thing I can change is me, and I’m old, boys and girls, so wish me luck. Except for the obvious negatives, I don’t mind being an Old, I just don’t want to exemplify the stereotype, so I’m patiently sifting through the wreckage for the answers to life. It’s okay, I wasn’t really doing anything anyway…

It’s a beautiful September morning here and Kim’s enjoying it on the PickleBall courts while I perform that trick called waking up, even though I crawled out mere minutes after 7am. Despite, or possibly due to, a lifetime as a farmgirl, I’m this person:

*****

The following thought from Charles Blow has stuck with me all week, because how often do we do this to each other? Let’s be honest, it happens daily. We’re full of our own thoughts, plans, and woes, putting one foot in front of the other, and we miss the fact that somebody felt unappreciated because of our lack of attention to their own essential thoughts, plans, and woes. Full disclosure, I made Rita feel that way last week and did not have a clue that I’d done it. Every one of us is miserably human and centered on where we are, you know why? Because much of the time, WE’RE ALL WE’VE GOT. Man, if not for our inconvenient emotions we’d be… well, animals. So…

*****

What I know is that I will call fire & brimstone down on my head ’til I die, for one simple reason:

*****

Remind yourself today: I HAVE POWERS

Go out there today, September 16, 2021, and use your powers. Do yourself right.

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Joy is still a thing…

It’s a beautiful Sunday morning, with rain and thunder, and now a peachy glow in the eastern sky. There’s a bouquet on the table and the morning hugs are extra sweet, because today’s our anniversary. Seventeen years ago, on a Sunday, after church, two dreamers made promises in front of many witnesses, and much living has ensued.

Wedding Brunch in the Kids’ Church

Since we walked out that day hand in hand, there’ve been broken bones, surgeries, heavy-duty illnesses and diagnoses, heartaches for loved ones, sad goodbyes… and more pure goodness and joy than any human deserves. The promises we made to each other on July 25, 2004, and repeatedly since, have been kept, are being kept, will be kept, and it’s an occasion to celebrate. Even if both of us DID space it off until yesterday morning!

August 2014

*****

Frank O’Hara, poet of the NY School & exemplary bohemian, died 50 years ago today in an accident on Fire Island. (Via @deborahsolo)

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Sunshine and rain…

It’s good that spring and summer were here to greet us as we emerged from our caves after the long COVID winter because doing it the other way around would have been infinitely more challenging. The sunshine and rain, trees and flowers, warm days and kind breezes are just what the doctor ordered and we’re using it all to full advantage whenever possible. There’s apparently more rain coming in the next couple of days, and then back to sunny temps. Life is good, the world is sometimes a hospitable place, and I’m grateful to be here still, in a community that generally embraces the broad spectrum of humanity and the incredibly endless variety offered by this planet.

Yesterday I got to see a friend from the past and it was everything. John came to Kansas just in time to help me jump-start things again after the effects of the virus and the long containment… my friend Lyn showed up and affirmed that I’m not done yet, and she was excellent medicine – it’s healing when someone’s on the same page with us, no explanations needed. Lyn and her husband Rob came to see us here in Lawrence a few years ago, and when I laid eyes on her yesterday it was as if no time had passed since then – we were instantly laughing and hugging and sitting down to remember together, all the good stuff, the crazy stuff, the awful, the unbelievable, the indelible. And to catch each other up on The Intervening Years, the Synopsis. It’s an amazing feeling to be loved by someone who doesn’t HAVE to love us for any reason – thanks, Lyn, you were right on time.

*****

You know how people are, the minute we feel better we’re full of advice for everyone around us. To wit:

*****

Lunch is being discussed at the moment…

I hear it’s actually gonna be tuna sammies, fresh-cut watermelon, baked beans, and tater chips. I’m in.

It’s Friday! Again! Wow! Have a super good weekend…

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We carry on…

It was a fun weekend, resulting in a train of thought that’s still on the tracks this morning… and the main nugget is that the hum and swirl of American life rises out of a rich network of subcultures thrumming with energy and heart. Some of our societal microcosms are readily visible on the surface, with signs and symbols we know at a glance… service organizations like the Lions Club; religious groupings; a worldwide fellowship for magicians; the Hell’s Angels; and a club for every possible area of human interest under the sun. Saturday night we got to meet a subculture we previously knew almost nothing about – the world of gyms and cage fighting. When you “know a guy,” you go there.

A young veteran we love and respect owns a gym in the KC area with some other people including his wife, and in the interest of positive advertising, physical fitness, and pure badassery, he’s fought his way to professional status and a spot just under the headliner on the card… so it was time we saw the show for ourselves. A sweltering hot evening, long lines of fans, huge fairgrounds pavilion with big open windows, BBQ, drinks, a light-show going on, music that was primarily heavy-duty vibrations felt from the feet up, long tables arranged concentrically with ends toward the cage, and chairs designed by Satan himself for maximum torture. Knew I was gonna be in trouble, but I wasn’t missing this, even though the undercard consisted of something like fourteen fights before it was our man’s turn. And it was great – we were with friends who are family and everything was laughter and hugs and a feeling I’d forgotten over the past eighteen months… belonging. I found myself doing things I vowed I’d “never do again,” like sip a sistah’s drink when offered, shake hands, hug people face to face, laugh and talk unmasked in a public gathering… but almost three months of being fully vaccinated, plus our negligible transmission rate, makes all the difference. The people-watching was sublime – no worries about the generations coming up, America… they’re beautiful.

Kim has taught me a lot about boxing, which was of absolutely no use in this venue – the action is fast and furious, three 3-minute rounds, and there may have been only one match that lasted through two. Most of the amateur matches were over in under a minute, with someone either knocked out or tapping out, followed by hugs and camaraderie all ’round. These guys fight out of various gyms and mostly know each other, and the whole operation, under the glitz and glitter, is squeaky clean, everybody checked again before entering the cage, everything recorded and monitored. That said, there’s a thing in all of us that loves a winner, and we can turn primitive in a heartbeat when that’s on the line. I can still scream with the loudest of them, and I welcomed every chance to stand up outta that chair. A colossal thank you to DM Bruce Associates for their co-sponsorship of the night and their sweet hospitality to us as always.

Our man Deron “The Pharaoh” Carlis won by knockout in the 2nd round and walked away unmarked, so the evening was a total upper, and when we came home after 10:30, 8th Street was all lights and people, with the streetside dining areas full. We hope the city will let those stay open all summer!

When the light goes… when life dies down to an ember… it’s easy to think it might be finished, never coming back, never the same again. But being in that pavilion on Saturday night, with people from all over the NE corner of Kansas, having Deron’s (ridiculously young) parents come over to hug us, and seeing other people we’ve met since moving here, full of happiness and hugs, was a little revelation: I still need other humans, they aren’t all impossible to communicate with, and it feels good to care. Who knew cage fighting could do all that?

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Zen for the Third Trimester of Living

It’s a sunny Monday, there are actual butterflies outside my window, and I’m feeling all charitable and positive-y, blessed be. The morning walker brought me a nice warm Everything bagel, made a fresh pot of coffee, and started the day/week with hugs, so I already owe him AND the universe, meaning a good attitude is the very least I can do, and it’s so simple on the good days…

My fav RN and I had a text convo this morning that touched a little on what I’m sharing now, in the sense that one way to survive in a whacked-out world is via a simple formula: Get in, do your job, get out, live your life. This piece of writing, found unattributed, provides a fairly decent manifesto for doing that at this stage:

I asked a friend who has crossed 70 and is heading towards 80 what sort of changes she’s feeling in herself. She sent me the following:

1.   After loving my parents, my siblings, my spouse, my children, and my friends, I have now started loving myself.

2.   I have realized that I am not “Atlas.” The world does not rest on my shoulders.

3.   I have stopped bargaining with vendors. A few pennies more is not going to break me, but it might help the poor guy save for his daughter’s school fees.

4.  I leave my waitress a big tip. The extra money might bring a smile to her face. She’s working much harder for a living than I am.

5.  I stopped telling the elderly that they’ve already narrated that story many times. The story makes them walk down memory lane & relive their past.

6.  I have learned not to correct people even when I know they are wrong. The onus of making everyone perfect is not on me. Peace is more precious than perfection.

7.   I give compliments freely and generously. Compliments are a mood enhancer not only for the recipient but also for me. And a small tip for the recipient of a compliment: never, NEVER turn it down, just say “Thank you.”

8.   I have learned not to bother about a crease or a spot on my shirt. Personality speaks louder than appearances.

9.   I walk away from people who don’t value me. They might not know my worth, but I do.

10.   I remain cool when someone plays dirty to outrun me in the rat race. I am not a rat and neither am I in any race.

11.   I am learning not to be embarrassed by my emotions. It’s my emotions that make me human.

12.   I have learned that it’s better to drop the ego than to break a relationship. My ego will keep me aloof, whereas, with relationships, I will never be alone.

13.   I have learned to live each day as if it’s the last. After all, it might be the last.

14.   I am doing what makes me happy. I am responsible for my happiness, and I owe it to myself. Happiness is a choice. You can be happy at any time, just choose to be!

Author unknown but appreciated

*************************

Smile, be kind, take in a little happiness… it befuddles the naysayers and makes children and old people feel better.

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It always comes back to love.

I didn’t say anything about LOVE on the 14th because it’s been done to death, and there are people who rightly dread hearing about it (those people can thank me later, preferably with salted caramel something). Kim and I made a pact to forego the hearts & flowers hoo-ha altogether and it was perfect – love, peace, and happiness rolled down like waters, and all was well. No big deal. Another good day, all in what you make of it.

We can talk about all kinds of love, not just the romantic kind that we always think we want and then sometimes don’t know quite what to do with after we get it, amirite? Now that I’ve gotten used to some of the realities, I do love getting older, for the reasons Ms. Erickson mentions. Accepting the facts doesn’t necessarily mean loving them, though – my favorite memory from childhood is that my back didn’t hurt.

A deepening understanding has been the sweetest gift of the passing years and the events they’ve held. I’ve been in the middle of more than one critical incident, positive or negative, and had a swash of clarity engulf me and leave me changed. I live for those times.

In order to weave stories, it’s VITAL to see how things connect, to understand something of how life really works, and that requires time and perspective. Integrating the lessons…applying them…the weaver designs the tapestry…and each person reads according to his or her heart, because beauty does indeed “reveal itself in thousands of forms.”

I write ’em, I don’t explain ’em, and I stopped apologizing a few years ago. You probably should, too.

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Happy Day…

Wishing all of my blogging community a lovely Thanksgiving with nothing but love, good food, and rest in your spirits. And maybe you’ll get to help someone else along the way…

 

parish-thanksgiving-day-dinner-saint-episcopal-church-latest-news-turkey-table-settings

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Life goes right on happening…

Constant or even Casual Reader probably knows that when I say *interesting week,* stuff happened. This past weekend has been interesting.

On Friday, Kim had his first Mid-Life Crisis Sports Injury, and since 9:30 that morning, routine, that deadly imposter, has gone out the window. Two neatniks have reverted to hippie habits, of necessity, and are getting used to relaxed standards. My singleton side of our King bed is easy enough, just pull up sheet and quilt as I bail out, but there’s a 3′-high pile of clean laundry on the chaise next to the bed, and various admission and dismissal detritus from the hospital strewn across the dresser. Kim’s living and sleeping in his recliner for now, so the table next to him is a conglomeration of what he needs throughout the day and night – but he has a system and don’t screw with it. His kitchen needs his Navy Squid attention, especially since we’d been planning a fall scrub-down, but oh well, I’ll knock some of the big chunks off in a day or two. When somebody you love is in pain, that’s where all your energy automatically gets funneled, as it should.

All day Friday, from 10am to 5pm, was spent going from ER to Ortho and back, X-ray to CT Scan, lightweight “sugar tong” cast, to temporary traction, to plaster “sugar tong.” Food, finally, at 6pm, and home. Saturday and Sunday are a blur of opioids and other meds, a grocery run to maintain a cushion for the drugs, some amazing sleep, and a sense of marking time.

Yesterday, Monday, we checked him in for surgery at 10:30am. He went to the back for pre-op at 11. Was told they were taking him to surgery at 12. Froze my fanny off in the waiting room, listening to my tummy growl, until 1:30pm when a nurse came out to tell me they were backed up in the surgical suites and had just then taken him in. I nearly cried, and would have had she not said “He’s been napping this whole time.” I just said very quietly, “I’m freezing,” whereupon the receptionist said “Oh honey, you have to say something!” I told her “I didn’t know I could!” She turned up the thermostat, the nurse brought me two blankets out of the warmer, and I settled in for the long haul. I’m terribly out of practice since my days of caregiving for six older family members – I didn’t think to take my iPad or any protein snacks, or even BAD snacks. My head had room only for Kim, getting this repaired, and taking him home.

When all was said and done and I’d gotten the Ortho surgeon’s report (he looks all of 19, of course), it was 6pm, eight hours since we’d left home. But the report was good and that’s all that matters. It was a bad break and Kimmers now has a plate in his body that wasn’t there before, but the bones went together well and Dr. Huston was able to deal with the bone gravel and other crunching in there that wouldn’t have been good longterm. All’s well that ends well, which is down the road a bit. He’s in a heavy-duty cast until time for the stitches to come out, then a less mondo one, and finally he’ll get a fiberglass number that will start increasing his independence noticeably.

For now, it’s a little like Momming again and I’m glad for grown-up cartoons like YouTube and television. The drugs make the patient a little sleepy, so movies are good. Also car porn, like Mecum Auction and Barrett Jackson. And the car rebuild shows – there are some of those we both like a lot. The Big Guy has seen me through at least four major medical events in the 14 years we’ve been married – I’ll do anything to keep him comfortable through this one. It’s how we roll.

 

injured-soldier-clipart-18

 

 

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Try a little happiness…

field of summer flowers

Hello blogging buddies. A thought hit me like a proverbial ton of bricks this morning – I used to be the also-proverbial ray of sunshine. A daisy. A Pollyanna, a fixer-upper, a this-is-not-so-bad girl, a “we just need to sit down and talk this out” person who was always about the positives and the possibilities. You too?

Have we disappeared for good, we thoroughly optimistic, cheerful souls who kept the world afloat through sheer determination and plucky grit? We haven’t, right? Not for good? We’re just biding our time until it’s safe to stick our heads out again, right? Because if we’re really over and done, that would be too sad, and I guarantee the world would miss us. They think they wouldn’t, because we’re annoying and always underfoot, but they definitely would, and it wouldn’t take long because life is no good without hope and optimism. People get irritable and touchy, including us feel-goods, and it’s not fit for man nor beast out there, which is right about where I find my happy lil’ ass this morning, so it’s past time for a major attitude adjustment. (I’m starting to sound like a broken record, I’m keenly aware of this.)

I’ve Twittered and Facebooked and coffee’d to the max so far, written a couple of “sorry for that thing I said when I was tired” notes (oh yes, until my dying day), made a mental list of “Miles to Go Before I Sleep” tasks, and thought about a nap at 9am but opted for a little more coffee instead. It’s Monday and the slate is clean so I might tread lightly through my life for a bit just for grins…

Go out there and be happy campers, my fellow believers in the good stuff – the world isn’t expecting you so it’ll be a nice surprise all around. x0x0x0x

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Catharsis is not pretty…

18-heart-breaking

Dammit, life in the end is a cruel mysterious bitch because it’s so beautiful and so brief. I stand in the shower and cry wracking sobs that leave my ribs sore because we’re getting into our 70’s now and some of my most brilliant friends are falling to Alzheimer’s and I can’t make it stop and IT’S NOT FAIR. And I’m wrapped in a towel with my hair dripping water and running down with the tears and I’m trying to find words that mean anything at all when the world is ending and I’m mad as hell and nothing’s right anywhere except… a precious beautiful man loves my son and maybe I can stop crying in a little while… maybe… because when life seems like it has to end right this minute so we won’t die from the ache… there’s something so good we’d be really… pissed if we missed it.

And then we’re crying… softly now… from the grace and the sweetness and the peace and the yin and the yang.

The balance is always there if we can let the quiet find us…

… so pain is such a mixed bag that we don’t really dare wish it to be gone forever. That’s a much-needed revelation this morning and I’m glad for it.

Have a beautiful spring Sunday, friends. Because life is good. So good.

 

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The world on a blue marble…

fog

 

sunday

air cold sky gray drizzle

time for this patch of earth to be

an ice rink

again

 

good day

killer breakfast

cozy fire

man playing liquid melodies

on a champagne stratocaster

 

sweet day

snuggled in blankets

voyeurs of the sportsing

hot chocolate yes please

small world all is well

JSmith 01/7/2018

 

 

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A beautiful holiday season to you…

1

be blessed in your celebrations

be kind in your giving and receiving

be hopeful in your plans for the year ahead

be a force for love in all your relationships

be truthful in your words and actions

be encouraged by your fellow sojourners

JSmith 12/25/2017

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but listen…

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Leavin’, on a jet plane…

katie-and-judy-dress_up

This morning someone I love flew home to her family and I miss her already. We said our goodbyes last night, five days after she arrived, and 40 years after we’d last seen each other.

Katie grew up in Michigan while my environment was the western Kansas landscape. She was a city girl, I was a country mouse trying to keep up and to figure out what made her so incredibly cool.

We were together only a handful of times over the years, but there was a bond that made us sisters as well as cousins. Life happened, of course. Katie birthed seven babies in eight years and added an eighth baby just for good measure, so she got a little too busy for letter-writing. I was preoccupied with the details of my own budding existence, so we gradually lost touch.

Enter Facebook: something I posted moved Katie to call me with the news that she was coming to Kansas to see my two sisters and me – and three days later she did. Four decades of involuntary separation melted away within seconds and we were sisters again. The hours flew by, as they do when we’re having fun, and it was over too soon. The memories are for keeps, though, so no crying – just plans for seeing each other again, sooner rather than later.

Screenshot 2017-08-08 at 03.16.30 PM

Rita, Susan, Judy, and Katie

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What we need…

DSCF0524

Feels like a slow roll toward the weekend, a quiet HumpDay providing the fulcrum point, rain on its way in 4…3…2…maybe. At the moment it’s 80º, 83% humidity, no breeze. We can all say *sauna*, I know we can.

Kim came home from 7am PickleBall in the park a big ol’ sweaty mess, which always heightens our appreciation for a shower with actual running water. Just yesterday we were reflecting on everything we have to be thankful for while celebrating our wedding anniversary – thirteen years of genuine happiness so far, with everything necessary to keep it working. Neither of us expected to live this long, let alone together, so every bit of it is gravy and we’re absolutely grateful.

We threw together a few ground rules for A-Day before it got here:

  1. Nothing fancy
  2. No gifting each other with anything possessing monetary value
  3. Only fun stuff allowed, no stressors
  4. Make it up as we go
  5. Come home when we’re tired

So that’s how that was. Kim played PickleBall and then we went furniture shopping in Kansas City, which turned out to be a nice little thermometer for the relationship we’re celebrating. We don’t always head down the same path when it comes to home decorating, but yesterday’s discussions contained no whining or angst, just a clear-eyed look at what the possibilities were. In that spirit, we bought a ceiling fan we both liked, and came home to further research ideas. Slice o’ pie.

Speaking of which, lunch at Granite City was simple, tasty, and fun, and the Bloody Marys were positively ambrosial. We watched DVR’d stuff in the afternoon and both fell asleep in our respective chairs, are you feeling the pathos here? The thing is, if we’re “old,” we’re happily so – life is SO much less stressful when you’re not in charge anymore. We woke up in time for a vodka toast or two, popcorn, and another KC Royals win. It was a good day, or what we refer to around here as Tuesday.

And now the rain is here and our Wednesday is complete before noon. I hope if you need rain in your week you’ll have rain. I hope if you need the sun to shine there will be nothing but that.

“You can’t always get what you want
But if you try sometimes well you just might find
You get what you need…”

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