lanasingstheblues

Because we all share so much in this life.

Snap Out of It February 20, 2013

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“Snap Out of It”

 

 

 

Once in a while, I need a thunk on the head.  A figurative one, that is.  Fortunately, I need look no further than my refrigerator door.  There, by the calendar and the magnetized clip from my insurance agent, holding up the Bed, Bath and Beyond coupon, is a young girl with blunt-cut, fiery hair.  Looking natty in a sailor dress and red-trimmed frock coat, she glares out from under the wide brim of her straw hat.  With hands on her hips and a determinedly set jaw, she admonishes in capital letters, “SNAP OUT OF IT”. 

      I  love that girl.  She’s the girl I’ve always wanted to be.  Tough.  No nonsense.  Facing life head-on and telling it like it is.  You just know SHE doesn’t worry about snapping out of it, because she would never allow herself to be stuck IN it for long.

Unlike my little heroine, I’ve been stuck plenty.  In fact, it’s happened often enough that I have a list of antidotes specific to the situation to holler at myself as needed:

“Quit your pouting.”

“Enough already, Cranky Pants.”

“Is worrying really going to help?”

“Hope you’re enjoying your pity party, Cookie.”

“Good news!  I checked, and the universe doesn’t really revolve around YOU.”

I suppose some might say I’m being a bit hard on myself.  Au contraire.  What’s hard on me is telling myself I can never dare sing a solo, because what if I make a mistake and I’m not perfect? Worse, what if I think I did great,  but everyone in the audience is really rolling their eyes, wondering what I was thinking even trying to sing?  I’ll look like a big fraud and never be able to show my face to these people again!  Yeah, I know.  Pretty dramatic.

Now, I haven’t worked myself into a state like that in a while.  Maybe it’s something that comes with ‘mature’ adulthood, but I’ve reached a point where I just don’t want to make myself unhappy.  Life is short.  There’s a lot I want to do, and mostly I’m goofily grateful for what’s been given me so far.  Whatever time I have left in this world I don’t want to waste with worrying that accomplishes nothing, or moping around because I don’t weigh what I did when I was 20.  

Although I know there will be times I get angry at people I love, as well as with total strangers, I’m not going to hang onto it any longer than absolutely necessary.  I’m going to take steps to work it out or, if it’s not that important, just let it go. 

 I’m not going to say ‘no’ to things I want to do because I might fail, nor will I say ‘yes’ to jobs I can’t stand or don’t have time for, just to be nice.

That’s what I’m aiming for anyway, even if I can’t say I’ve reached the point where I can always be that tough cookie on my fridge.

 

Author’s note:  The magnet I refer to is a design from artist Mary Engelbreit.  Some of her stuff is a little syrupy for my taste, but “Snap Out of It”, along with “It’s Good to Be Queen” are right up my alley. Also, I confess.  I was too lazy to come up with something new today.  It’s freezing here in Michigan and all I want to do is laze around in my sweats and read.  And eat.  So this is an older essay.  It shows.

 

 

Book Glutton February 19, 2013

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      We had planned on visiting the city, but we’d have to take the freeway, plagued lately by snow squalls and whiteouts.  There had been some nasty crashes.  Instead we decided to visit the library in the little town next door to us, using surface roads all the way there.

     The library itself was designed to beguile any frost-bitten wanderer into cuddling up with a book for an hour or two.  It had a fireplace…a fireplace!…and plenty of easy chairs surrounding it. To the far right was the “Teen Zone”, and I wondered if this separation was welcomed by young adults or experienced as another lame attempt by grownups to ‘understand.’

    Straight ahead, adult fiction.  I reminded myself I had plenty of e-book novels yet to read, not to mention all my bookmarked computer pages and texts on the craft of writing.  But this is my candy shoppe, my guilt-free ice cream binge, my shopping spree, costing nothing.

      My fingers tickle the spines of the volumes in front of me.  I wait to feel an answering pulse, a response to my touch that will say, “Here I am!  I’m the one calling you.”

      The problem is that they all call.  I’m not crazy about romance novels or historical pieces, or science fiction, for that matter.  Yet everyone of them seems tantalizing, at least at first blush.  Eight out of ten titles catch my eye.  Sometimes  they attract because they are only one word.  Sometimes they sound quirky, eccentric, and I think, “Ooh, this sounds like fun!”  

     I pull out one contestant and quickly read the inside of the book jacket.  Sadly, reminding myself that I only have two arms to fill up, the book sometimes has to go back on the shelf.   Like a child who’s had a few too many chocolates, my eyes glaze over as I wander from column to column, trying not to drop my treasures as I bend to look at the bottom shelves.   

     I think  of what a paradise this place could be, if all I was charged with in my life was reading.  I would read til my eyes were sore, til I fell asleep in one of the big overstuffed chairs at the end of the day.  Come morning, I would sip coffee in front of the fireplace  and start in again.  I would read and read until the library was depleted. Until I could not stuff one more book into my being.

     Then I think, what of writing?  Reading entertains and informs, it feeds, but it also inspires the reader to write, to think of what they could cook up if given half a chance.   I want my chance, and that means taking in  the nourishment others can give me, then leaving to bang my own pots and pans together, beat my own eggs, and get that soufflé on the table before it falls.

     

  

      

 

 

A Lenten Prayer February 18, 2013

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A Lenten Prayer

My words do not reveal it.

My actions do not give me away.

I’ve learned to keep my hands to myself

and not to bite.

I smile though my throat is tight,

Even though my jaw is rigid and aching.

But behind this veil of civility, no blameless bride awaits,

But a harridan, a harpy, a witch

I am surely damned

By hateful thoughts,

By despicable imaginings where it is me

Who hurts, and they that suffer.

If they knew what decay the mask hides,

If my true face was revealed, they would not be so quick

To offer their arms, to give up their secrets.

Or to  think I merit happiness, and peace, and their regard.

It is between You and me.

You who know my broken bones,

And sees where nerves still dangle from some,

Though the bones are brittle, and rattle in the wind.

Only to You my arms reach up

To be washed and bound,

Healed and kissed.

And You, only You, tell me all is forgiven.

You know all of me, and yet, You love me.

Authors note: For me, Lent is a time to do some spiritual house cleaning.  Like most of us, I do the best I can to treat others with respect, to think and behave in a charitable manner towards others, even those not like me, and not particularly ‘likeable’, at least in my opinion.  On the outside, I do pretty well with this, but my petty, spiteful thoughts and impulses, even if not acted on, remind me that, no matter how I try, I’m still human, and therefore imperfect.  Sometimes I feel like an imposter.  People seem to think I’m brave, smart, ‘good’, blah blah blah, while on the inside I feel anything but.

In my moments of doubt, hurt and hatefulness, I turn to my belief in a God who knows the worst about me, but loves me anyway, certainly more than I love myself, and can forgive me all.

 

Bent to Reinvent February 13, 2013

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I’m not exactly panicked, yet.  I added up the numbers several times, wondering if the calculator on my iphone was hiccuping and causing errors in the final tally.  How can two people spend this much in this amount of time?  What are we spending it on?  It’s not like we’re flying off to Rio or anything.  We haven’t even gone away overnight for several months.

We are now on a fixed income.  I’m not gainfully employed.  We had planned for this, and it certainly looked like everything would be more than ok.  We’re certainly far from dire straits now, but for the first time since our lives changed, I’m feeling anxiety about not bringing in the money I was making before.  So last night, I started looking for a job.

I left a profession.  I had an advanced degree, years of experience and numerous commendations from my colleagues and superiors.  I think I was good at what I did.  Having not done it for almost a year now, I’m terrified of trying it again.

I’m not sure I’d come across well in an interview.   I don’t know if I’m up on the latest jargon and buzz words of my profession. I don’t know if I can remember  how to describe particular techniques, because I had stopped talking about them and just did them.

And most of all, I don’t know if I want to experience the anxieties of that particular profession again.   Part of the job is feeling responsibility for decisions others make in their lives.  I could try to reason with them, influence them, schmooze them, even, but I couldn’t make them do anything.  I had to worry about children being abused, and whether reporting abuse really did anything to help, or made things worse.   I had to worry about client’s threats and attempts to intimidate me.  I couldn’t blame them.  Sometimes that’s the only tool you have left when legitimate avenues of power are taken away.

Mostly it was sad, seeing how little I could do to improve the lives of the people I was supposed to ‘help’, and seeing how society thought the most deprived among us deserved less and less.

So, short of an attempted return to a field I was only too happy to leave, what can I offer the world now that it’s willing to pay me for?  It’s not hard to do an inventory of my skills, but finding a position where I can use them and where I want to be, not to mention where I’m wanted….

This must be the ‘reinvention’ that I’ve heard about.  How do I make myself over, at this stage of my life.  How can I find a job that will be a better fit for who I am now?  Who am I now?

 

Not My Best Day. February 10, 2013

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I felt a slight drop, and then heard a ker-crunch.  I was no longer at street level. Throwing the car in reverse, I tried, unsuccessfully, to back out of the ditch.  Switching to forward didn’t work, either.  I climbed out, and  up a bit, to get out and take a look at my beloved Mustang.  There had been hope that, while I might be stuck, everything else would be fine.  Then I saw  pieces of the bumpers lying in the snow.

My throat didn’t tighten up.  Tears didn’t come to my eyes.  I was a bit surprised that my primary emotion was annoyance rather than heartbreak, as I have an intense relationship with my ‘Stang, as detailed in my earlier post, “I Love My Car”(June 26, 2012).

There was business  that needed to be attended to,so I couldn’t drop everything and mourn my car, or berate myself for not paying more attention to where the driveway ended and the culvert began. I realized the damage incurred would mean I’d be carless for a bit, and this was my MUSTANG, for God’s sake, but all in all, it wasn’t so bad.  

Some very nice men showed up in a white pickup truck to help me out of the ditch.  The car was drivable, so hopefully the broken plastic stuff can be fixed, although I wish they’d replace it with something sturdier.  Hopefully, the car isn’t totaled.  I wasn’t injured in the least.  My husband, rather than being annoyed at me, said, “Just glad it wasn’t me who was driving.” Yeah, he should be.

Until my baby’s back in prime condition I’ll be negotiating car use with my husband and probably skipping some trips out that I would have taken otherwise.  However, right now it looks like I eventually will have my Mustang back, and I can still look forward to those summer drives with the top down, so I’m not too upset.

Besides, I have other things to think about.  Someone stole my credit card number yesterday, too.

 

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The Church Family February 9, 2013

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I still haven’t figured out faith or religion, yet.  I’m at the age where younger people think I know something that maybe they don’t, just by virtue of having stayed alive this long.  I do know some things, probably one of the most important being “Look forward.”   No matter what’s happening now, it most likely will change in the future.  Sometimes for the worse, but often for better.  One of my other favorites is, “You really aren’t the center of the universe,” neither in the attention you think you deserve or the control you think you have.

So I think I know some things, but I still haven’t quite figured out faith and religion, which I consider two very different entities.  I think I have faith in Something(one) bigger than me out there, that somehow created me and everything around me.  Any of my beliefs beyond that seem to change from day to day.  Well, I also believe whatever that entity is, it’s about life and positive energy.  In other words, it’s ‘good’.

Religion, on the other hand, is a man-made construct and, being so, is often twisted and corrupted to suit the purposes of whatever group is in charge.  As lofty as their mission purports  to be, religions and faith communities can reflect the ‘goodness’ of the Creator, or can basically spit in said Creator’s eye by being mean, petty, or downright evil.  I was raised in, and continue to attend, one of the 31 flavors of the Christian church.

An individual’s ‘church family’ can be a source of joy or irritation.  Usually it’s both, because when it comes down to it, people are individuals with their own quirks, strengths and challenges, even when they are churchgoers.  I try to remember that part of the reason we are Christian and go to church is that we know we aren’t perfect, me most assuredly included.  However, when people are telling you in a number of ways that they  want to walk in the footsteps of One who gave his life for others out of love, you sort of expect that they make an attempt to not be jerks to each other, at least most of the time.

I believe anyone who spends much time in a church has experienced the gossip, backbiting, judgementalism and snottiness that some members lay on each other.  Hopefully, that’s not the majority of the time.

Today, I will Mt. Horeb 2008-04 experience the upside of the church family.  I’m going to help at, and attend, the funeral of one of our congregation.  Not a happy occasion, but one where members can minister to each other, and to mourners from outside our church ‘home’. We’ll bring food, we’ll sing, we’ll remember, all as a community that has experienced loss, but hopes that we also have something to celebrate….that our brother has ‘gone home’.

These are the occasions that keep me coming back.  These are the times that help me remember that, even in the best of families, your sister can be a bitch, your brother can try to push you around, your dad can be unfair.  That’s family for you.

 

Death of an old man February 8, 2013

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Tragedy

Gone too soon

Unexpected passing

No one will offer these words

As they send you home.

 

Those unthinking of their final destination

Did not see you.

Just white noise,

Helping them focus on what’s really important.

Invisibility comes with the territory.

 

But your eyes shone

Your hands were warm

Gravel-voiced sweetness

As you told me that you liked

to hear me hit those high notes.

 

Tragedy

Gone too soon

Unexpected passing

Safe journey, sweet man.

 

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