Returning to them.

So I tried to save the world.

But it was grasping and hand aching to tug and pull so much.

Defeated I put the world away on the high shelf.

Then I tried to clear my mind,

But I couldn’t get the memories to come unstuck no matter how hard I tried.

I lay face up in the bed, not praying.

My guilt and shame at leaving them bore a hole right through me.

“I can’t promise you anything,”  I told them.

Their returned silence meant they didn’t want to hear my excuses.

This morning I picked them up and slowly read about their lives.

Let’s see, Annie was stuck in the cave and the water was rushing in….

Seth and Luke were locked in a fierce battle with trust….

And Paul…

I had left Paul, still heartbroken and crying, beside the cold sea. 

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Donna’s Friday Morning Moment of Self-Awareness

I’ve got this gap between my front teeth. I hate it.

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I told you it was awful

A couple years ago, I was talking with some friends of mine about how much I hate seeing pictures of myself. Among the reasons for this aversion? That horrible, horrible gap.

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It’s not really that bad, but it sure feels like it. Fun with snapchat *awkward, nervous laughter*

 

See, when I was a kid, I had braces, and they fixed the gap, but then when my wisdom teeth came out, I guess my teeth spread apart some and now I have this gap between my teeth again. For a long time, I wouldn’t even smile with my lips open, because of that gap, but then several people told me I have a great smile so I have tried to get over it, but still, whenever I see one of these, pics, all I can see is that gap and…

That’s when one of my friends broke in on my story and said, “I’ve never noticed it.”

And I thought, “How many other people would never have even noticed this horrible, horrible flaw of mine if I’d just never told them about it?”

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No more fooling around. No filter. Totally natural expression.

I was reminded of this when the three brothers on my favorite podcast (My Brother, My Brother, and Me (MBMBaM)) did a TV show for Seeso TV.

The oldest brother, Justin, talks frequently about being overweight. He makes comments like “I’m living my life as an overweight man.” He talks about not being able to find clothes that look good – how his jeans are always cuffed because he can’t find jeans that are short enough for his chubby legs.

I do this too. As a podcaster, a writer, a blogger – non-visual mediums – I find that I will start stories much the same way when I want to talk about trying to find clothes that make me feel good about myself, or challenges finding a date, or the like.

But then…

I saw the first episode of the MBMBaM show.  Now, don’t get me wrong. Justin is overweight, he’s not one of those totally average people complaining about how fat they are. But his weight is not his most defining characteristic. It’s not the first thing I notice when I see him. In fact, the first thing I thought was “Why does he talk about his weight so much?” And this is coming from someone who’s overweight!

So, I don’t have a great insight here, really. Sometimes, like if I want to talk about having a hard time finding clothes, I’ve got to mention that I’m overweight, or you’re going to wonder “Why doesn’t she just go to the GAP?”

Which brings me back to the lesson I learned a few years ago about the gap in my teeth.

Maybe we should all spend a little less time pointing out our flaws to other people, because maybe we’re the only ones who noticed them in the first place.

Monday Morning Book Reviews

Good Morning!

I have two book reviews today- one good and one bad!  Both are non-fiction, which is something I have been getting into lately, and that’s a whole other discussion.  Stay tuned!

Book 1Tales of Remarkable Birds, Dominic Couzens

I picked up this book because of the images and I stayed because of the writing.  To be honest, birds kinda scare me.  They are all fluffy and colorful, but then they have those weird talon feet and sometimes they have the crazy eye and…ugh!!!  But this book not only had amazing photography, but the writing was some of the best non-fiction writing I have read in a while.  Each bird has it’s own little chapter and the facts about them are, yes, REMARKABLE, yet the writing is so entertaining I could not put it down. Every night I would look forward to my time reading this book and every morning I would beg my husband, “Please, let me share my bird facts, please!”

Book 2The Gratitude Diaries, Janice Kaplan

I’m sorry, but the whole idea of this book turned my stomach.  This premise of this exercise in torture is a rich, white woman decides to be grateful for her doctor husband, handsome, successful kids, privileged lifestyle and she meets up with movie stars such as Matt Damon and Daniel Craig, who are also grateful.  Wow.  And she writes a bit like a teenage girl also.  I picked up the book because I have been working on being more grateful myself and I wanted to read the experience of someone who focused solely on the subject for a year.   But what I got was a sticky-sweet companion who I was ready to smack by chapter three.  It didn’t bother me that she has a wonderful lifestyle, but nothing she did seemed difficult.  I wanted to hear from the mom whose child has been diagnosed with cancer or the homeless person or the teenager in a foster home.  This woman didn’t even really have a house or car repair!  And how does she still have friends?  She kept meeting her friends who actually had some difficulties in their lives and she advises them to be grateful instead of getting upset(Just ignore the fact that your marriage is in the toilet!) and getting a pretty new journal and write down how grateful you are you can eat lunch with her!

“Janice, honey, I’m happy for you, but could you just once drive your cheerful

attitude to an intensive care unit and find out how hard gratitude can really be?  Sure, you can finish your cappuccino with Matt Damon first.” 

 

In Defense of Garbage TV

I have a confession…red-rose-1347966141q6t

No, I can’t. It’s too horrible.

OK. Let me just get this out.

Recently… I started watching The Bachelor.

Whew. I got that off my chest. I feel a little better.

Now, this show is garbage. Purest garbage.

So why am I watching it?

Well… because a podcaster I like does a fancast for The Bachelor (called Rose Buddies) so I thought I’d give it a try. In other words, I’m watching the show as an excuse to listen to a podcast.

Still. It’s garbage. It’s fake, and awkward and really inappropriate in a lot of ways.

And I’m starting to find it therapeutic. It’s fun to flip off the TV every time the designated ‘villian’ is on the screen. It’s fun to protest when the bachelor gives her a rose week after week. It’s fun to bitch about why they don’t show more positive interactions between the contestants, or speculate about how much of what goes on is actually real and how much of it is producer manipulation. To speculate on who’s in the running to win and who’s just there to stir up ratings *cough corn cough*

I can’t actually scream “I hate you!” to idiots on facebook, but I can scream it at my TV. I can’t say, “OMG, you’re SOOOOOO STUPID,” to people in real life, but I can yell it at the bachelor.

Don’t get me wrong. It’s trash. It’s garbage. It’s sensationalist and ridiculous and more than a little sexist.

But one night a week I can forget about real life and real problems and that’s not a bad thing.

…I may have more to say on this topic later. 🙂

You say I am.

Why are you so afraid of me?

Do you not believe in your own convictions, values, ideals, statements?

“________ people are wrong, stupid, evil, whiners,biased, dishonest,dirty, treacherous. We know what is right.”

Why does it matter to you  if I disagree?

Why does it matter to you if I read or question?

How does it harm you if I hold a sign or march in a group?

You have power and money and influence.

I have none of those things.

You say you are helping me, you are protecting me, making my life better, that if I disagree with you I should move away, I am ungrateful.

I have no money, no power, no influence….I am no threat to your strength, your control, your dominance.

And yet, you fear me.

Why?

Because I will not be cruel.  I will not condemn others.  I will reach out to those needing help and I will show decency and I will work hard to be kind and I will not be a slave to money or greed and I will learn about others and I will work for peace among all nations, for all people.

And he said, “Why?  What evil has he done?” 

But they shouted all the more, “Let him be crucified!”

Matthew 27:23

Busted at the library –AGAIN!

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“There is a problem with your account.” 

“Please see a librarian for assistance.” 

NOOOOO!

It happened again!  My overdue fees had exceeded the $25.00 mark(don’t judge- just don’t!) yet again and now I was going to have to make that walk of shame up to the check- out desk and well, it could not be a worse time….my mother was with me!

NOOOOO!

My mother, who checks out just as many books as I do, but somehow manages to keep them all in one place and never pay fines.

“Of course I pay fines,” she corrected me. “Last week I had a fine of eighty cents and thank goodness I had cash on me to get that taken care of.”

I just don’t know how the library puts up with me.  They even let me volunteer there.

My husband insists the library not only puts up with me, but loves me.  He says he has done the math and roughly a quarter of our yearly income goes to overdue fees.

Ha,Ha.

As I tuned out my mother’s lecture while driving home, I got to thinking about my lifelong adventures with books and bookstores and libraries and reading…and it was a nice something to think  about.

When I look at my family of readers and how we use the library, we couldn’t be more different.

My oldest son, once he learned how to read, quickly adopted the “been there -done that” attitude toward the library.  He does not read for pleasure.  I can’t complain too much about this because he is doing very well in college and has gotten us lots of nice scholarships.  But he is not a library user.  He views walking into those hallowed halls with all the excitement of standing in line at the DMV.

My youngest son is an ambitious reader, to say the least.

Joe– I think I will check out this large book of ancient cartography essays in the original Greek.

Me– Can you read Greek?

Joe– I’m sure there are footnotes….

My husband is a focused, determined plodder.

He finds a book he wants online, checks to make sure it is available, sets a date and time to go pick up the book, picks up the one book only and proceeds to the electronic check out system, reads the whole book(no matter if he finds it dull or boring–he has made a commitment!), renews his check in date if needed and returns said book to the exact same library.  And he also refuses to let me use his card to check out anything!!  EVER!!! 

My mother, of the no fines, checks out lots of books at a single time.  She loves fiction and devours mysteries and historical fiction.  She can work that library card of hers on the computer like nobodies business.

Renew this one, put a hold on that one…she has the surgical precision of an air traffic controller.

And then there is me. 

The last time I was at the library and paying my $25.00 fine, my stack of books included a book about reading books, one about how classical education has changed over the years, a book giving the main points of six major world religions, a book about the discovery of cave paintings and one about a woman who rehabbed injured song birds.

Remember what I said about judging!

And they are all wonderful!

Now you may be asking how I can’t keep track of them…well, it’s like this….

I might take one in the car to read while I wait to pick up Joe or I might have one in the kitchen to read while I make dinner.  Lot’s of times I take them out on the porch or into my  bedroom or shove them in a tote bag for time at the coffee shop.

Well, they end up all over the place.

But I do get them back to the library eventually!

And if any of my money goes to the support the wonderful institution which allows me to explore my world and the wonderful, wonderful librarians  who never once have gotten upset with me—then it’s money well spent!

 

We All Have a Dream

unnamed“I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed – we hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.”
– Martin Luther King, Jr.
It’s Martin Luther King, Jr. Day in the US, and as usual, I’m seeing plenty of MLK quotes pop up in people’s social media feeds. There is nothing wrong with quoting the man; he was a genius speaker and writer, and his words are filled with a weightiness that moves us all to do more.
I just wish we read more of his words than just a few “I have a dream” quotes. I wish we had to read him in history and English classes today, as part of American literature canon. I wish we remembered as a nation that Martin Luther King, Jr. was both incredibly dedicated to a higher morality, and also incredibly radical in challenging a status quo that has lent itself to injustice for generations in our country, much of which still exists despite the great strides we have made as a nation to do better.
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Today as you see those quotes and watch some news coverage and maybe attend a parade, I hope you’ll use this opportunity to read more of MLK’s words, many of which are revolutionary and all of which demand a higher responsibility and morality from each of us. Let him challenge you to pursue truth, justice, wisdom and stand for what is right and humanizing to all around you.
 
It may be that we’ll never change the world. Injustice seems to be a problem that plagues the human race, and our generation is no stranger to it. But we can change ourselves and we can change things for the better for everyone we encounter.
But only if we choose that path every day.
 
That’s what I love about Martin Luther King, Jr. He reminds me to choose a demanding path toward ethical living and justice every day, tempered with mercy and humility, even when it’s hard or unpopular. It’s something I need to be reminded of, since it is so easy to become complacent with the daily grind of work, errands, groceries, and bills that I forget about others around me who may be suffering.
MLK was really good at reminding us to look at things not from our comfortable position but from the uncomfortable point of view of those who are rejected, downtrodden, held in contempt, powerless… It’s an incredibly humbling thing to let go of your own opinions to truly live in someone else’s shoes for a while.
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And it’s not only humbling; it creates empathy. It’s only when you’re willing to see life from the point of view of others who are different from you that you can empathize with them and maybe help make their lives better. It takes courage to do that, because you never know what you’ll find out about yourself when you empathize… Perhaps you’ll discover you’re more selfish than you like to admit. Perhaps you’ll discover you’re lazy or uncaring in some ways.
Perhaps you’ll discover how very lucky you are that you were born in your particular skin in your particular country in your particular century, and that without that luck, you’d have a very different life.
It’s a reality check we all need once in a while, especially if we want to make the world a little bit better just by our being in it. I think that’s worth something. And Martin Luther King, Jr. certainly believed that too. It’s what he lived and died for. Let’s honor that memory by doing the same.