Category: Gift, Shift & Uplift

Because acceptance, compassion, gratitude, and love make the world go ’round.

I Found the Holy Spirit (My Spirit) in a Toilet Bowl in Orlando, Florida

In the fall of last year, stuff started sucking significantly (I’m so good with alliteration!) around here in a whole new way. In fact, I pretty much stopped posting here biweekly, which was fun while it lasted, particularly those Adam Lambert “It Could Happen” posts. I stopped working on the book I’ve been writing. And then I stopped writing anything. At all. This is not like me. I Just Could Not put my fingers on the keyboard without feeling like they didn’t belong there. This is really not like me. At all. My fingers on the keyboard are usually a place of peace, centeredness, flow, and joy. Typically, every time I write, my fingertips on the keys feel almost as good as when I touched my babies’ faces for the first time.

Something shifted in me recently-ish. Really, it’s been shifting for a long time, and I’ve known it and even worked hard for many years at creating space for it. I just so happened to become particularly mindful of the significance of the shift when I recently had my head in a toilet. (More about that in a bit.) Although I find the ebb and flow of shifting is a force to observe and experience in and of itself, with the advent of the mindful-toilet-bowl shift, I began to feel my fingertips’ desire to touch my keyboard.

As Randy Pausch said, “We cannot change the cards we are dealt, just how we play the hand.” I would add that even when it looks to us that we are dealt shitty cards, we are looking at them in a snapshot in time. We can’t see the bigger picture, and often forget there is one. We’re human. We have only our perceptions of the past, although when we rely on them in a healthy way, those perceptions may inform good choices. We do not control the future, although choices we make and actions we take today will affect it. The present moment is all that we have. So what will we do with it?

A couple of weeks ago my oldest daughter, son-in-law, and grandson came to visit me. We looked forward to this visit for months and made lots of plans. Along came The Unexpected and some of our plans went awry. There was some struggle and sadness too. It was amidst The Unexpected, struggle, and sadness that we kept finding acceptance, peace, joy, connection and love. Some of our struggles were with mighty issues, but none have ever beaten us before. Following is an example of a tiny one because this one isn’t so personal, but even when the struggles aren’t so small, we still seek to handle them just this way: We spent A Really Long Time at a local restaurant because the kitchen messed up our order. We enjoyed spending extra time together as a family. We enjoyed our server’s kindness and heavy Irish accent (in an Italian restaurant). Conversation and laughter flowed even as the food from the kitchen did not. As we waited and then ate, I simply marveled at the acceptance, peace, joy, connection, and love around the table.

The next week my youngest daughter and I went to visit my middle daughter in Florida. Temperatures were in the high 90s all week and the humidity made my hair look like this:

TaraxacumOfficinaleSeedWe had some challenges and struggles, and along came The Unexpected while we were there. One such challenge was a little gross (so the squeamish should click away now) and expensive. I spent $600 on three park hopper tickets to Universal Studios in Orlando, in particular so my youngest daughter could visit the Harry Potter theme parks. I didn’t even read all of the books or see the movies, so much was lost on me, but I was just happy to be along for the ride – until I rode the first ride. It was hot, humid, and also HOT and HUMID. Did I mention that it was hot and humid? And you know what? All the while that it was hot and humid and my hair looked like a dandelion seed head, I marveled at the acceptance, peace, joy, connection, and love that I was feeling. Without fully inquiring as to what we were about to ride, we boarded something that I imagined would be a tour through Hogwarts (like the Peter Pan ride at Disneyland). But no. It was not that. At all. It was a motion simulator from hell. It was all I could do to not barf on the nice lady next to me.

As soon as the ride ended, my daughters and I all ran for the restroom. It’s bad enough to have to vomit in a public restroom in a theme park in Orlando, but this one had automatic flushing toilets. Every time I moved my head, it would flush in my face. Puke. Flush. Puke. Flush. It’s fine. Go ahead and laugh because you know what? I did. Something else happened too.

As my head was in the toilet that was repeatedly flushing in my face, I was completely overcome with joyful feelings. I am not even making this up. My daughters were in other stalls doing the same thing, and although I did not wish for them to be puking, I was so profoundly happy to be with them in that incredible moment and place in time. I found that it was possible to experience unrelenting puking and joy simultaneously. It was awesome and I will never forget it.

We will wound and become wounded in this lifetime. There is no avoiding that as sentient beings. However, amidst the wounds and the wounding, we can find acceptance, peace, joy, connection, and love. We just have to look for it, although I don’t think it is necessary to puke in a public toilet in Orlando to find it. Dorothy Gale from Kansas probably had it almost right. She said, “If I ever go looking for my heart’s desire again, I won’t look any further than my own backyard.” I think that we will find whatever it is that we are looking for within our own hearts.

What are you looking for?

Dirty Tracks

jack tracks

At a park near my grandson’s home, I noticed some metal tracks running at a slant along a low cement wall surrounding the play area where the slide, swings, and whatnot were located.  It occurred to me that perhaps the tracks were meant for racing Matchbox cars or Hot Wheels. I also noticed the tracks were a bit dirty and covered with dead leaves from nearby trees.

The next time I visited Jack, I stopped at Target to buy a whiskbroom, some wax paper, and a half-dozen or so Hot Wheels race cars. I packed a cooler with a few toddler-friendly snacks. When my son-in-law, Adam, got home from work, we loaded up his car and drove out to the park to introduce Jack to the joys of Hot Wheels racing.

When we arrived at the park, I busied myself sweeping the dirt and dead leaves from the track. Next, I set about rubbing wax paper along the tracks to give the Hot Wheels a little extra oomph. Adam and I took turns sweeping, waxing, and playing on the slide and swings with my grandson.

Once we had the track ready, it was time to show my grandson just how cool it is to race Hot Wheels! Adam and I lined up the cars and sent them roaring down the now-slick metal tracks. We called, “Jack, look! Watch the cars go!”

Jack had another idea. The whiskbroom was much more interesting to him. He busied himself with the apparently joyful task of sweeping dirt and leaves onto the metal tracks. After a couple of attempts to engage Jack in our Hot Wheels racing, Adam and I gave up, laughed, and enjoyed watching Jack sweep and sweep and sweep. He swept dirt all over those tracks!

I recently reflected back on that day at the park, and thought about it as a metaphor in life. Sometimes we make a plan, prepare for the journey, sweep the path, and even take extra steps (such as using wax paper on a metal track) to ensure things go as smoothly as possible. However, sometimes we find it doesn’t work out the way we thought. In fact, sometimes someone comes along and sweeps dirt onto our path and seemingly blocks the way we had planned to go. Sometimes that person is not a sweet grandson, and sometimes the dirt turns our plans and our journey in an entirely new and unwanted direction.

What do we do then?

We move forward, one day at a time. We take stock. We find that there is love all around us if we look for it. We also see that we still have our broom. On our best days, we use it to keep our side of the street clean because that’s all we can do anyway. On other days we just might jump on that broom and take it for a spin in a direction we’ve never gone before. Our choices are as wide as the sky.

The New Black . . . Friday

black friday

‘Twas the day after Thanksgiving, when all through the mall,

Parking was not to be found, no spaces at all

With Mom in her minivan, and Dad in a truck,

They spied handicapped spots, glad for such luck.

Hours before opening, crowds gathered by doors,

Who would be first to get in the stores?

Shoppers screaming and shouting, a deafening noise,

Getting into position for electronics and toys.

The doors were flung open; the throng did rush in,

They trampled each other, both kith and kin.

They pushed and they shoved; they seized and they took.

Grabbing item after item without even a look.

When in one of the aisles there arose such a clatter,

Cell phone cameras turned on to catch what was the matter.

Two people determined to buy one Barbie doll;

With no computer skills, was she worth a brawl?

An elderly woman was knocked to the floor;

Yesterday thankful, today they want more.

Now Target! Now Big Lots! Now Nordstrom and K-Mart!

On Costco! On Macy’s! On Best Buy and Walmart!

They came bearing club cards and coupons for sales,

Then dragged themselves home with their booty and tales.

peace5c

Next year let’s remember the season is still

About joy, peace on Earth, and to all men goodwill.

Veterans Day Without an Apostrophe

lawDid you know that November 11th is Veterans Day in the United States?  It is important to note that it is neither Veteran’s Day nor Veterans’ Day.  The U.S. Government declared that the attributive rather than the possessive is the official spelling.  I’m not making this up.  I found it on Wikipedia, so it must be true.  It is also codified in Public Law 83-380, for you legal types.

World War I officially ended when the Treaty of Versailles was signed on June 28, 1919, but fighting stopped seven months earlier on November 11, 1918 when an armistice between the Allies and Germany went into effect at 11 AM.  On November 11, 1919, President Wilson declared November 11th to be Armistice Day.  By an Act of Congress in 1938, Armistice Day became a legal holiday, a day set aside to honor veterans of World War I.  Following World War II, on June 1, 1954, the 83rd Congress amended the original Act to replace “Armistice” with “Veterans” (no apostrophe), and President Eisenhower issued a proclamation that the day was to honor American veterans of all wars.

After that it got confusing as to whether Veterans Day would always be observed on November 11th or shifted to the last Monday in October to give people a three-day weekend.  Gerald Ford signed a law in 1975 that Veterans Day would be observed on November 11th, regardless of the day of the week on which it falls.

Here’s a link to freebies for veterans on November 11th.

Finally, I want to personally thank my wonderful son-in-law and all veterans for your service.


In other news:  Congratulations to Janet on winning an autographed copy of Mary Petrie’s book, At the End of Magic!  I will contact via email those who won a spot in the online Skype book club with the date and time as soon as it is set.

You can read my review of At the End of Magic here, which includes a link to the uplifting story of how this book was published.

You can see Wil Wheaton holding At the End of Magic here and not even suing me or seeking a restraining order.  At all.


NOTE from Blog This Mom!®:  This book review and giveaway was unsolicited and unpaid. I do not receive any compensation if you purchase At the End of Magic except for the warm and fuzzy feeling I will get knowing that you enjoyed Mary Petrie’s book.  Besides, I have policies about reviews, you know, because this joint is a serious operation with policies and official legal language.

Mindful Moments, Peanuts, and Cracker Jack

On Saturday night, most of the 40,660 people at Petco Park watching the Padres beat the Giants, stood up for the 7th inning stretch, and together sang, “Take me out to the ballgame . . . “ We honored our military men and women who were invited to stand for applause, which was thundering and seasoned with cheering and waves. Pretty girls used slingshots to deliver t-shirts to the best catchers in the stands. The players pitched, batted, scratched themselves, and stole bases.

On any given day, we are no less mindful that baseball games are played in a world in which Congress votes against equal pay for women, the beating of women and children is most often hidden, and ISIS strikes terror. These things weigh on our hearts and minds. When we are at our best, we raise our voices, tap on our keyboards, and share ideas, concerns, and hope. At our very best, we follow up on our ideas with action, and with gratitude that we can do so.

Padres vs. Giants at Petco Park, September 21, 2014
Padres vs. Giants at Petco Park, September 21, 2014

We sometimes pause to consider the bigger picture, the story that is greater than ourselves, in which we each have a part. On a Saturday night in September, that bigger picture might be of 40,660 people gathered to share in a tradition rich in history and brimming with joy. In that moment, we might eat peanuts and Cracker Jack, and not care if we ever come back.

Second Chances, the NFL, and Good Men

“NFL Announces New Zero-Tolerance Policy on Videotaped Domestic Violence” ~Post title on The Onion, September 9, 2014

Can we talk?

I’ve been reading the news and reading Facebook posts, which are not the same thing at all, but still the same topics are often aired in sound bites, captioned photos, and links to articles that sometimes we *like* but do not read.

Apparently, there are some who think Ray Rice should get another chance to play in the NFL. I don’t agree, but OJ Simpson probably does. Apparently, there are also some who think his now-wife is equally to blame. I don’t agree, but Chris Brown probably does.

Do married people fight at times? Provoke each other at times? Hurt one another at times? Yes, yes, and yes. But Janay Rice did not knock herself out. And nothing she has ever done or said caused her to get knocked unconscious by someone she loves. Ray Rice did it. We all saw it. He delivered a knockout punch to someone he says he loves.

And it is a damn shame that the NFL took a different stand only after a videotape of the knockout blow was released. Domestic violence typically takes place behind closed doors, with no independent witnesses, no video footage to tell the story. The elevator videotape allowed for a story to be told.  It moved a dark issue into the light, even as it was very hard to watch.

I saw a bright side this week, on Facebook of all places. I saw many people speaking up. But I’m thinking of a few men in particular who are Facebook friends of mine. These guys raised their voices and stood strong when some of the comments went places that decent people do not go. These men give me hope.

One of them wrote this:

It’s funny how, for weeks now, everybody KNEW Ray Rice punched his wife & dragged her unconscious body out of the elevator, but once the video of it happening surfaced yesterday: consequences.

It’s like, without the video, just knowing that it happened was somehow mitigated, like the Ravens (who immediately cut him today) watched the video and went “Oh! You mean he PUNCHED her! Our bad, totally misunderstood what that meant.” Or the NFL, which immediately suspended him indefinitely (today), somehow thought it was justifiable wife punching until the video came out.

Wait, did I say “funny” up above? I meant disgusting and shameful.

And another one wrote this:

There are people that deserve second chances, obviously. Men that knock their women unconscious with one punch, pedophiles, animal abusers, people that abuse the elderly, people who rape don’t. There you go. There are the new rules.

And someone else wrote this:

I [have seen] first hand how it is hard for a victim to leave and to get out. So, don’t question Ray Rice’s wife for marrying him. Just know that it goes deeper than what you may think. Pray for her.

I’m grateful for strong voices like those above. These guys are upstanders. I don’t care what anyone says about how hard it is to find a good man these days. I see them everywhere.

And now I have something to say to Janay, in response to this:

“To make us relive a moment in our lives that we regret every day is a horrible thing,” ~Janay Rice, in an Instagram post dated September 9, 2014.

I don’t want you to relive that moment, Janay.  But the odds are not in your favor. 

Below is a link to the open letter to Rihanna that I posted on this blog several years ago.  It applies to Janay.

Dear Rihanna

I don’t fault Janay Rice for staying, for saying what she has said, or for doing what she has done. I also know that she could have died in that elevator. Her baby girl could have lost her mama. But Janay Rice was spared, this time. When she woke up from that knockout punch in the elevator, she was given a second chance.

 

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