Wednesday, November 30, 2016

One Lone Guy

When you're stuck proctoring an exam and you have one lone guy left who is taking his time, you search the desk and then the floor for a writing instrument. Finding a cheap Bic and a piece of paper from the the trash can feels like a small dab of light in a dreary set of circumstances.

So I wrote a few silly things and then I thought about how I didn't want anyone to find my silly words and so I wrote more words on top of the original words. Then I turned the drawing upside down and wrote another layer of words. Then I filled the guy's shirt in with words. I think this is an art journaling technique. It might be called "Over Writing," but I didn't find anything to confirm that in my quick Google search. I took a photo of the sketch and doctored on it in one of my phone apps. 

This was a good distraction while I waited. December, the Christmas season, the season of Winter, these are times of waiting in darkness. It's here. May we all find the small dabs of light we so desperately need in these times.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Project Thoughtful Thursday, Week 13

"Step Away Sometimes," another timely reminder! 

Step away from the dessert table.

Step away from the loudly opinionated relative who will want to ramble on about politics.

Step away from that questionable looking vegetable casserole.

Step away from the offer to bring some of it home with you.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 21, 2016

At Least I'm Not Depressed

Yesterday I got the urge to walk up to my grandparents' house to poke around. It's been steadily falling down after Hurricane Rita dropped a tree on the front porch in September of 2005. My grandmother was already gone by then, my grandfather had passed years before.

I don't think I'm clinically depressed. I do believe I am very sad. For one thing, the holidays can be tough times for me, as I know they are for many other people as well. And the current state of our nation weighs heavy on my mind. But here's the thing: I've had enough tough times to know that they do pass. It seems the light does manage to return. Or small pockets of joy can be experienced even in the midst of the tough times. Oh, and here's the other thing: sometimes things get worse before they get better.

For some reason, it's sometimes comforting to go see the decaying condition of their house. I walked around in the yard and felt some strong feelings of love and sadness and loss. I picked up a small thing or two and came back feeling somewhat better.

One of the things I picked up was this frame from my grandparents' 50th wedding anniversary celebration. When I cleaned it up a bit, I found a photo of them.

I heard my grandmother's voice saying "You kids stay away from that well hole!" For years, I believed if I messed up and step in it, I'd slide right down and never be found again. You can't tell from this picture but the "hole" is only about two feet deep. It seems to be filled in with dirt and pine needles. But you couldn't pay me to step off in it to test that theory! No sirree!

This is the back entry to the kitchen. The curtains are still holding onto what is left of the window. And there is some sort of ceramic painted picture still hanging. Just out of view is the spot where the kitchen table was, the place where my grandfather and I ate the peach juice after everyone else had left the table. The window was the one we checked to see who was coming up the road when we heard a car. The chicken yard was back there, and the barn, and in earlier years, the outhouse (I know, ugh).

This is the view into the living room. A bedroom and the bathroom are in the piles to the left of the photo. I don't know how much longer what is left will stand. It's not safe to go in anymore. Occasionally I find myself tempted to push on one of the walls just to see if it will all tump on over. I'm afraid it would kick out and take me down with it so I keep my hands to myself.

My sister is having surgery tomorrow. She's had a rough row to hoe with her colon cancer. She's still sporting the temporary illeostomy. She's had anemia, infections, gall bladder pain, blood clots and all sorts of tough stuff to deal with. The surgery is to remove the gall bladder. It seems the stones have plugged up a bile duct and so she is jaundiced. Her liver enzymes were up. Please pray for her if you would.

This is the time of year it was when my brother went into the hospital the last time before he died. We just never know how long we have.

And December 11 will make five years my son has been gone.

Tomorrow will be my last day of work and then the Thanksgiving holiday.

Life goes on.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Project Thoughtful Thursday, Week 12

Another one from my friend Ralph, "Do what you can, suffer when you must, love and grow as you are able."

Seems to me to be a very timely reminder, especially in times where there seems to be so much that isn't right that you don't know what to do.

Here's the other version, without the frame. 

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Project Thoughful Thursday, Week 11

I really need to work on this in my home and in my life. 
I've made some progress but not nearly enough. 

Sunday, November 06, 2016

My Cannas Are Dying, I See Light, I See Darkness

We've got a place "in the country" that we go to on weekends. Occasionally I wake up in the night needing to go the bathroom and I'm a bit disoriented about which bedroom I'm in. All I have to do to figure it out is to look for the light. At home, the window is on the wall to my left and there is a security light from someone's yard on another street that shines in that window. In the country, it is our own security light that shines in the window directly in front of the foot of our bed.

What I've been thinking is that when I am in a dark place in my life, I go through the same process in trying to orient myself as I do when I'm in the bed needing to get to the bathroom--I look for the Light. And usually I'm pretty good at finding it. I never do it perfectly, and sometimes it takes a bit of time wallowing in the dark, but I have, so far, been able to get there, to seeing the light.

I was sitting on the porch this afternoon and noticed the light shining on my dying cannas. It was beautiful. I don't know that my photos do the light justice. But also, the flowers are dying. Perhaps my photos do their dying justice. Winter is coming, I am surrounded by reminders of impermanence and loss.

I've been reading After the Ecstasy, the Laundry, by Jack Kornfield. It's been a thought provoking book to read. I'm including a few quotes below with the photographs of my dying cannas.

"The middle path embraces opposites. It rests between them, acknowledging both truths, caught by neither side. In this way we can see from one perspective that human life is suffering, with its inevitable string of losses culminating in sickness, aging, and death. Tet from another perspective it is also grace--filled with gifts and blessings, expressing a divine beauty. Our very suffering can be seen as the grace that brings us to compassion, surrender, and humility." 
Jack Kornfield

 "With a strength of heart we can respond to the full range of human emotions, unafraid of feelings, neither identified with nor embattled by them. When we accept the feelings as impermanent and impersonal forces, we can be free to honor them without being shut down or frightened or caught by them." 
Jack Kornfield
"We cannot live only in the world of light." 
Jack Kornfield

Thursday, November 03, 2016

Project Thoughtful Thursday, Week 10

A quote from the book "A River Runs Through It." I thoroughly enjoyed reading the book and still want to see the movie.

I'm not sure why this quote touched me so, but it did.