Saturday, January 30, 2010

Enough Already!

I've heard that saying, "Give till it hurts," but I haven't found it particularly accurate. Giving feels goooood and it's possibly one of the very best things we can do for ourselves.

We have an exchange table at work. I can take clothes we no longer wear, books we've read, that bread machine I don't use, etc. and the stuff finds new homes. Likewise, I've scored some good stuff there. We also have a bushel basket at work that we fill with food for the local food pantry. It's just so easy to pick up an extra bag or two of beans or rice or some cans of soup when I'm at the grocery and take it to work.

I also belong to Look it up online, maybe there's one in your community, too. You can post things you need and things you want to give away and local people can email you to arrange pick up. Even things that you wouldn't normally think of as important can be helpful to someone else. For example, one lady wanted old stained or torn clothes, towels, even dryer lint because she was stuffing a bed for a dog. Not only is it a great way to share things, it keeps stuff out of landfills.

Don't forget GoodWill, St. Vinny's, Salvation Army, etc. Not only are they my favorite chain stores, they are a great way to give things.

The ability to text a message that allows you to give to a relief fund for Haiti is just the coolest way to give money to a cause I've seen lately. I think we'll see a lot more of this method. Many non-profits allow you the option to make a regular donation that's taken straight from your bank account. The littlest donations make a difference this way, and you probably won't even notice.

But things and money aren't the only things to give. You can give time,talent, even good energy, too. You can read to preschoolers or to people in nursing homes. You can plant flowers or veggies for someone who can't physically do that or perhaps for someone who doesn't have time or know how. You can bake an extra loaf of bread and take it next door. You can volunteer to walk dogs at a local shelter. You can hold the door for the person behind you at the bank and though it sounds cheesy, you can give a smile to people you see all day. You can give. And it doesn't hurt a bit.

I have never once - not one time - regretted giving someone to someone, though I've often regretted purchases I've made for myself. And I have never once - not one time - not had enough. Obviously, I've always had enough. I'm here. And enough is all we really need after all. And I've noticed that I have the energy with which I give. That is if I give with joy I have joy. And if I give grief and fertilizer. . . well, that's what I tend to have.

May you always have enough. And I hope you'll give till it feels gooooooood.

Thursday, January 28, 2010


To what are we entitled?

According to the law firm of Stickem, Stickem and Twist, I'm entitled to a large settlement if I get cancer, drain bamage or ingrown toenails after taking certain high blood pressure medication or if I'm injured in a tornado.

According to some conservatives I'm entitled to as many guns as I can afford.

According to some liberals I'm entitled to free everything - food, housing, manicures, cupcakes. . . .

According to the TV commercial I just saw, I'm entitled to getting the IRS off my back if I haven't paid income tax for the past 18 years.

Why do we think the Universe owes us something? Why are we entitled to a ding dang thing? I'm not saying that we aren't, I'm just asking why and what?

I think we need to decide what the essentials are and what we're willing to make sure everyone has and then go for it - work to make it so. I'd like to think that we all deserve, that is are worthy of, a fun life. That doesn't mean I think we're all entitled to one. I'm not willing to work so that everyone can have free nose jobs and cigarettes. I'm not willing to pay higher taxes so someone down the street can avoid paying any. But I'm willing to work for a world where everyone is entitled to a chance at a good, basic education and good, basic healthcare.

What are you willing to work for? It seems to me that without a consensus about what we're all willing to work for, we can't agree about to what we're entitled.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Just Grains of Sand

Watch this video.

What this young woman is actually doing is arranging grains of sand on a screen with her hands. She often uses both hands at the same time. With eight fingers, two thumbs and two palms, she creates nuances that toss my emotions around and across their spectrum. She rearranges two percent of the sand and I go from joy to despair.

She doesn't count the grains of sand she uses in each line. She doesn't weigh them. And I'm sure that every time she recreates a picture it is thousands of grains different. Possibly hundreds of thousands of grains. I don't know, I've never counted grains of sand.

She arranges them on a flat surface in such ways that we have no question about what she is portraying. I could not do this and you probably couldn't either, but this young woman does it with nearly unbelievable skill and passion. There is an idea in her mind and her hands manipulate sand in such a way that the idea transfers to my mind. And she does this with tiny little grains of sand that alone couldn't make a stick figure. It takes gazillions of grains of sand arranged just so. Sometimes she arranges by tossing it at the screen.

I'm not only amazed at how she is able to create art out of sand, I'm amazed at how I am able to accurately interpret arranged sand. The fact that each changing scene exists only a moment and then is gone except for the image left in the viewers' brains, only makes the acheivement greater on both sides. And I'm so grateful that I'm able to be amazed by sand.

Monday, January 18, 2010

100% Universe

I'm watching a tv program about a Mexican-born sushi chef in Texas.  And why not? If Americans aren't a bunch of mutts I don't know who is.  Unless you're 100% Native American, you are from someplace else.  In fact, even if you are 100% Native American your people are from someplace else if you go back far enough.

In fact, unless someone is completely sure where man evolved and can identify the magic moment and spot that that being became "human,"  we can all claim that our people are from somewhere else. And even if you were born on the exact spot where human beings first evolved, that place isn't the same as it was then. 

Dirt moves around.  In fact the dirt around the philodendron in your livingroom might have been my great, great, great uncle twice removed, an old bicycle seat, and a bit of the moon.  It's bits haven't always been potting soil.  And bits of you might have been potting soil.  If you're an adult, your bits have all been switched out a few times already.

So what can it possibly mean to say that I'm Mexican-American, African-American, or a White Anglo-Saxon American, Inuit, British, or Hungarian?  Not much. If you go far enough back, you aren't 100% anything, except Universe.  You are 100% Universe.

What a coincident, so am I.  Go figure. 

So I don't see how we can possibly war with each other.  How can we even establish neighborhoods, White neighborhoods, Black neighborhoods, Martian neighborhoods, when not only we, but the actualy ground the neighborhood is built upon has questionable heritage?

We need to stop thinking about our differences and realize that we are the same.  We are all 100% Universe.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Been There

When I was little my best friend was Catholic. She told me about nuns, and I've got to tell you, it sounded pretty cool to me at the time.  Nuns didn't have to live with any boys around, they got to wear  halloween clothes every day and they had a ticket to Heaven.  We thought surely all nuns went to Heaven.

Then one day I couldn't go see my opthamologist because he was sick.  Hmmmm.  If doctors could get sick, could nuns go to 7734?*  H. . . E. . . double hockey sticks?

Right after high school I went to nursing school to learn how to help people be well.  It's where I, and probably most of my sister students learned to smoke cigarettes.  AND the place was run by an old nun who is probably dead by now, but whom I doubt very much is in Heaven. My whole vision of how the world works turned topsy-turvy.

I did not become a nun or a nurse.  But I did eventually become a psychotherapist and regardless I've had more than my share of flu, smoking, boys, major depression and PTSD (posttraumatic stress disorder)  and various combinations of those.

But I get flu shots every year now.  And I kicked the smoking addiction years ago.  I have absolutely no fear of going to an eternal lake of fire, my depression is pretty much controlled right now, and I have no doubt that soon I'll be able to hear a loud noise without breaking into tears.

Now if you're thinking that I'm a weak person, let me ever-so-gently correct the pooh out of you. I'm strong enough to know when I need to take care of me.  I float like a butterfly and sting like a bee, I am woman hear me roar, I am music and I write the songs.  Ok, so I'm a wee bit off center.  I am a good therapist.
A therapist who's never needed therapy is like a baker who can't eat wheat or a male obstetrician - sure they exist, but they can't understand their work completely.  Not completely.

And some of you are thinking that I shouldn't share so much about myself.  That I should keep my shameful little secrets to myself.  Well, I guess that's my point.  I am not ashamed.  And if you've ever had the flu or smoked or had depression or PTSD, foot odor, or occassional irregularity go ahead and celebrate your humanity. You're in good company.

*7734 (read it upside down)

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Dead Teeth

Nineteen years ago my world changed when a young male client beat me up in my office.  I had just gone back to work a bit early after major surgery, because after all, all a psychotherapist does is sit and listen for the most part.  It wasn't as if I had to lift things or move around all day.

About half my teeth were killed.  Did you know that teeth can die? My rotator cuff was torn.  My eye was blackened. My co-workers wanted to know what I'd done wrong to set this guy off.  But mostly I became afraid.  I didn't see another client alone behind a closed door for 13 years. 

So today, when I was interviewing a man in a jail and he came across the table at me when I refused to give him drugs, something was triggered in my brain.  Later in the day a co-worker was trapped in her office, actually held against her will, by a man who later threatened her life. More stuff was triggered.

I had to fill  my car with gas this afternoon and I kept thinking someone was sneaking up on me at the gas pump.  That's paranoia.  I know it.  PTSD? Whatever.  Giving it the correct label doesn't help a bit.  Not one little bit.

I'm pissed is what I am.  How dare these idiots steal my peace and how dare I allow it to happen.

Teeth die if you hit them hard enough.  Then you have to have root canal, which isn't all that fun.  Then the teeth get capped.  They look just fine, but they are dead inside.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

No Good Shoulds

I am overwhelmed. I have started too many things that I can't finish right now.  My attic is full of shoulds.

I should do so many things.  I should change the baking soda in my refrigerator monthly.  I should exercise more.  I should drink less wine.  I should get up earlier and spend more time reading.  I should caulk my windows, till my future garden plot, dust, drink more water, and spend more time in meditation.  I should tip better, save more and check the air pressure in my tires more often.  I should write every day, call my mother more often and paint the cabinets in the kitchen. 

I should lighten up and clear out that attic.

What good is a should?  Does it make me a better person?  It seems that only a did or a does improves my life.  Should doesn't do anything but produce guilt.  And guilt is worthless. Worse than worthless.

So I have a big should dumpster and I'm dumping all those shoulds right now.  I choose instead to look at the things I do that are pretty cool.  I'm cutting myself some slack and I'll either do or I won't but I'm not going to feel guilty about it.  I'm busy.  I don't have time for guilt.

I do have time to feel good, however, and that is a priority. 

If it bothers you that my windows are streaky or that the baking soda in my refrigerator is over a month old, please feel free to do something about it.  If it worries you that I'm behind schedule on a writing project or that my garden isn't tilled, perhaps you should get a life.  That's what I'm doing.  And let me just say. . . .

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Meeting With My Editor and Life Coach

The Fire of Gratitude.

When my brother was on my roof on Thanksgiving (well that's another story) he told me that my chimney was "permanently" capped.  This, he said, explained why the flu is screwed shut. I'm assuming that it worked at one time. The house is 35 years old.  It seems to be a wood burning fireplace, but it's locked up.

 What I want to know is, why would someone do that? It just aggravates me. Can a fireplace break? Whom does one call to fix a fireplace?

It was 19 degrees this morning and predicted to get down in the teens again tonight.  It's very rare in South Carolina. Rarer even than a working fireplace.  It would be so nice to have a nice cozy fire tonight.  And I have a fireplace.  It's just that someone locked it up!

Obviously, I don't know beans about fireplaces and will welcome input.  But have you noticed that you only miss a fireplace when it's cold out? Until this very minute, I hadn't thought about central air conditioning all day.

I'm grateful that I have a warm home when it's cold and a cool home when it's hot.  What percentage of people on this planet can count on that, I wonder. And when I'm hungry or having a jones for something salty or something sweet, I only have to walk to my kitchen - at the very most I drive to the grocery.  I have clothing enough for any likely temperature and when it is no longer fresh, I put it into my washing machine.

Am I spoiled or what?  I even have a brother who'll climb on my roof to clean gutters for me when he visits. What sort of a fool am I to complain about a capped chimney?  Please help me stay in the place of gratitude this year. It keeps me warm.