(almost) freedom

So husky-mix rescue dog Lily had her vet recheck this week. Cautiously guarded, he gave Lily his blessing and released her to normal activity.

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“Chasing bunnies and squirrels?” I asked. He nodded.

“Going up and down stairs on her own?” Another nod.

He told me to keep watching for plate rejection which they thought caused the irritation that made her chew a spot on her leg, now healed. She still wears the “cone of shame” at night and if I leave the house (which happens seldom since she goes pretty much wherever I go). So we enjoyed many celebratory walkies this week. Her favorite by the river. Her most favorite at the nature preserve. She made the whole trail walk, about 2 miles.

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So for now we are enjoying the freedom of no restrictions. I had not realized before how completely restrained we had been. She could not be off-leash at all. She could not bolt if she saw a rabbit, squirrel or a cat. She would look at me as I shouted “NO!” without defiance, just confused obedience. Which makes me wish I could be as resilient as she. And as compliant. I suppose for Lily obedience is pretty easy. Here I am standing right there telling her what to do or not to do. Pretty clear. She can either do what I said or not.  She doesn’t have to question or try to figure it out.

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When she was younger there was some of that. I would give her a command, she would hear me, look straight at me, and not do what I said. Or we’d be on our morning run and she’d dash in front of me sending me flipping over her while she chased whatever it was she saw in the half-light of early morning.

But now she is older. She is 12. A little stiff, less lean, more patient. She has mellowed. It is sad I suppose that so many years go by before a friendship becomes so comfortable, so easy. Companionable. But worth it.

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time matters

In my brief attempt at a happy marriage I failed miserably in befriending my mother-in-law. After a couple of years my son was born and life for me had more purpose. Then the happy part of the marriage disappeared and so did my son and I. From the marriage at least. He was two and suddenly I was no longer a stay-at-home mom. Working both in and out of the home presented interesting challenges and required more than one calendar. But we managed it, even had a little fun.

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My son’s father had a liberal amount of visitation privileges so I signed my son up for frequent flyer programs. Most of our vacations were driving distance ones, but my brother lived in interesting places, Washington, DC, then New York city and invited us to visit. This way I only had to pay for one round-trip airfare and I felt like a genius. Although one of those visits was by train because, well, trains. They are an experience.

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So yes, some– well, most –of it was hard but my son doesn’t remember those parts. Thankfully he remembers the fun. And he surprised me this year with a Thanksgiving visit. Generally I visit my brother and his family in Houston, which is also where my son happens to live now. But my brother took his family to the Galápagos and my son’s girlfriend’s family were going to be in Houston instead of Colorado this year so my son had plans pretty well set, too. Which is ok, I have been on my own for many years now and don’t mind being by myself.  So when he called a couple of days before Thanksgiving I was delighted. And scrambled. Suddenly I needed a dinner and breakfast food. And everything was accomplished and the day was a great day.IMG_0291.JPG

We walked down by the river, noted little raccoon handprints and other unidentified tracks in the river mud. The wind was brisk which made standing out on the pier a challenge, and cold, so we did not stay out there for long. But Lily and Lulu with their fur coats and the fascinating scents found it hard to leave.

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Rescue dog Lily’s surgeon is concerned about her recent knee operation, that she might be rejecting a component which can happen occasionally and can be remedied, but requires another surgery. So the chances of seeing my family at Christmas don’t appear to be likely. So I was happy to have an opportunity to see my son.

But his life is busy and he works very hard, so his taking a little time to share with me is something for which I am very grateful.

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Happy memories.

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discernment

Sometimes the margins are clear. Sometimes good vs. evil are not grey areas. Sometimes decisions are easy. Sometimes all the components are blatantly apparent.

And sometimes none of it is. Sometimes it helps to ask for advice, but then you have to determine whether the advice is good.

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Following road signs is obvious. Nobody questions a stop sign. If it is ignored it is not because no one knows what it is.

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Season changes are obvious, for people who live where seasons actually change. Air gets warmer or colder. Leaves bud on the trees, flowers bloom. Or flowers die, leaves change colors.

Why can’t everything be so simple? Decisions have impacts. Or sometimes a door opens. Or closes. How do you know if it’s a door to enter. Or if it’s simply an obstacle testing your perseverance?

Some decisions are mine, others are made by contingencies. I pray to have grace to handle change out of my control, discernment and strength to persist, and the proverbial wisdom to know the difference.

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Lily and Lulu don’t have any trouble at all, staying on the path.

 

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small revelations

Relationships can be tricky things. The truth that we dislike in others that which we dislike in ourselves. And take it a step further by claiming we can ‘fix’ it in others, not realizing it’s in us, too. My dad used to tell me this is known as projection, a therapist’s term (which he was not). The Bible has a better way to understand it in Matthew 7:4-5

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It’s really hard to be critical of somebody else once you understand this. It took my sister-in-law’s self-criticism to help me see. We were speaking on the phone and she simply could not say anything good about herself. I reached past my irritation and found a deep compassion for her, because self-deprecation is a bad habit I have tried to kick for years. Suddenly I realized that by recognizing this in someone else and feeling not just empathy but a strong connection I began to understand how it can be overcome.

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It is nothing more than a feeble attempt at a false humility that accomplishes nothing! It isn’t funny, it isn’t encouraging, it simply isn’t true.

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Nothing is permanent in this life. Everything changes. So that which someone finds fault with in herself will change. Either with time, with understanding, or just a change of attitude.

Truth matters.

 

 

trifectas

There are occurrences that happen out of our control that maybe could have been avoided or prevented, but they happen all the same.

Something brought such an event to mind this week that made me laugh out loud. I recall at the time not being amused.

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One morning when my son was maybe 6 or 7 years old we had overslept, he was going to be late for school and me late to work. Throwing his lunch together and getting breakfast ready I realized I had forgotten to get any milk. Could he have survived one morning not having milk? Sure. As an obsessive single mom could I have allowed this?

No.

So I called to my son that I was running up the street to get milk, ran to my car, pouring rain, saw the dog had got out, put her in the car, jumped in, drove the short distance to the store.

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Leaving the car running, I ran in, grabbed the milk, paid the cashier, dashed back to the car to see my little dog, delighted to see me again, jump on the door locks locking all 4 doors. I stood for a moment, at a complete loss. I ran back in the store (this is 10 years pre-cell phones) and, explaining my predicament asked they call 911. About 5 minutes later the fire truck pulled up, chastised my thoughtlessness explaining carefully if a living thing had not been in the car they would not have come to help.

Well, I thought, that ‘living thing’ was the reason they were there.

No matter. I had the milk, got breakfast in my son. As we sat at the light to turn in to the school I jotted a quick note explaining his tardiness. A jarring jolt accompanied by crunching metal, I looked up to see the front of my little car neatly folded under the rear of the concrete mixer in front of me at the light. Apparently I could not maintain proper pressure on the brake pedal and write simultaneously.

”Why didn’t you say something?” I wailed to my son.

”I wanted to see what would happen,” he calmly replied.

** Days better spent in bed **

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bluescreen

Circuit overload. Maybe. I am neither a computer programmer nor can I assemble a computer. I used to change the oil and filter in my car before cars got computerized and too complicated.

I had a bluescreen moment this week.

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Rescue dogs Lily, Lulu and I pretty much keep to ourselves. We are cordial, friendly and helpful, but do not interject or impose ourselves anywhere, on anyone. The most invasive I have been recently was taking a fresh-baked batch of yummy cookies to new next-door neighbors. (They loved them!) So we are basically invisible. People see us, we smile, wave, that’s about it. If someone stops to say hello or pass the time of day we are happy to accommodate but we rarely initiate anything.

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So when we were on the homestretch after an early morning walkie and wished a neighbor a good morning, I was surprised when she asked when I was moving.

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“Sorry?” I replied.

“Aren’t you moving?”

“No, ma’am.”

“Oh.” She thought for a moment. “Well, did you just buy a lawnmower?”

“No ma’am.”

“Oh, well, glad to hear you are staying.”

How nice.

It’s weird to think no one has anything better to do than determine whether I am moving or not, or take an interest at all. I really do try not to be noticed. Kind of like Emily Dickinson’s little poem, “I’m Nobody, Who Are You?”

So far it’s worked. Glad that we’ve established, having only just moved to this house a little over two years ago I’m not going anywhere else. Yet.

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honor

It’s mid-October but that doesn’t matter if you’re the weather. Hurricane season lasts 6 months, June 1 through November 30, every year. So I shouldn’t be surprised there is a storm heading this way. This time from the gulf so it may only be some strong winds and thunderstorms, maybe no flooding. So even though it’s been in the 50s-60s winter clothes are still in mothballs. Or patchouli.

I had a couple of appointments this week, early morning. As I arrived I noticed a small cluster of people by the door, a World War II veteran among them. The doors slowly opened and though the veteran and his wife were obviously first at the door, others crowded around them to get into the warmth of the office inside.

As the others signed in I stood aside. The veteran’s wife walked with him as they made their way slowly to the desk. The appointment clerk noticed his ball cap and said with quiet reverence, “A World War II veteran, thank you for your service, sir.” He turned to take his seat and his wife murmured a whispered “thank you” as she passed me.

There could not have been more than 5 or 6 of us. How much time would it have cost anyone to wait for this gentleman to maintain his place, first in line? Or simply out of respect?

It’s like waiting to either board or deplane a flight. Everyone has to be first. Nothing else seems to matter. But it does.

What’s happened to thoughtfulness? Consideration for others? Did it vanish when prayer was evicted from schools and public places? How can we relearn to forget ourselves and think of others?

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Taken for granted. Thoughtless. This is wrong. What has happened? Is it so hard to see? Aren’t there enough war films that show what war is? Or has Hollywood become so glamorized that we think it’s all fiction? Don’t schools teach more than facts, dates? Like it or not it is true when others tell us because of those soldiers we have the life we have in America. No, it isn’t perfect. No, it isn’t the same for everyone, but we still claim our freedoms.

That veteran helped insure it.

God help us to be humble. To appreciate.

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