favorite quotes: Day 2 of 3

3-day Quote Challenge, continued

“To thine own self be true….. ”      –Hamlet, Act 1 Scene 3: William Shakespeare

I don’t think there is much of anything more basic than this. I know my growing-up years were complete turbulence. I was the first-born of 3, the screw-up, not a mistake so much as mistake-maker. I learned everything the hard way. Sometimes those lessons took more than one pass. Eventually I learned in order to not keep everybody mad I could do and say funny stuff. Make them laugh, usually at me. This worked as long as I didn’t look too hard on the inside. Because people pleasers sometimes make others happy, or avert the argument or throw the barbs off. But even if we do, our lives, while doing all this performing are so hollow inside.

So this was my truth for years. My valley of darkness. It became such a conditioned activity I had no idea that it was within my power to stop. But just like Dorothy I had the power all along.

Just stop. I didn’t even need those ruby slippers to get back “home”.

It made a lot of people angry. I was called all sorts of horrid things– cold, selfish, thoughtless. And those words hurt. But then I remembered they were as much talking about themselves as they were about me.

It took practice. My valley of darkness became a valley of decision…. up until then I did my best at second-guessing, perceiving feelings, fortune-telling outcomes. I doubted, restructured, doubted again.
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Basically unanchored, so other-focused I had no perspective of my own.

“But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind.” (James 1:6 NKJV)

And here I began to find my real truth. For someone who’d become so strong-willed, independent, self-reliant it took a long time and many losses. A marriage ended, parents passed away, yet one Constant helped me, each day, each moment become stronger,th.jpg more discerning, more faithful. He has never disappointed me. He always hears  my prayers. He has proven Himself true over and over. And I know without doubt that He is the only way, truth, life. (John 14:6)

I am nowhere close to finished. But without losing compassion, empathy or kindness my perspective has strengthened and become more realistic, more self-controlled. I take more time to listen. Life is less frenetic. Yes, I am much older now but wisdom is far more valuable.And thankfully more available. Or at least wisdom’s voice is clearer.

 

Expectations

The past couple of weeks I was seduced. The temperatures reached all-time highs. We have had a hard winter (well, for here) and I wanted to believe it was finally, completely over. I expected the warm to stay.

The sun is out, the sky is as clear blue as I have ever seen but the wind is gusting over 30 miles an hour and it is cold. Well, for here it’s cold. 50 is cold after 70s and 80s. And 30s overnight. I expected full-on Spring.

I knew it was still February. I know the saying, “March comes in like a lion, goes out like a lamb”, and it will. It always does. But somehow this year I was fooled into believing the cold was gone and this would be different.

Expectations. When what I want is so much stronger than what reason tells me. When all I believe and hope does not materialize because I didn’t consider all the factors. And sometimes there are factors in my limited experience I don’t know even exist to consider.

So I pray.

There are things I know that I pray for that are just not likely to happen. But they could. It is my way of being dependent on God. Having lived most of my life learning on my own, being resourceful seldom asking for help. Learning to get by with less than most because it was all there was and being happy with it. That was success for me, many times. And my dependence on God is really all I have. Everything else is a gift for which I am grateful but I cannot claim fully as mine. And if nothing else my prayer, if it does not change circumstances right away, changes me. It gives me peace.

My dad used to ask, “Why do you limit yourself?” Funny question. Experience stretches limitations, mistakes refine experience and grace allows others to share the success. So if I limit myself it certainly is unintentional. Who likes being in a rut? Or never growing or changing? So dreams, goals, expectations are visions of better. I use frustration to the same end. Something frustrates I find ways to change it or me so I don’t have frustration again. Not there, anyway.

Fear limits a dream. It’s not possible to achieve in fear. Caution is different. Fear paralyzes. And praying breaks the barrier of fear to where I know I can trust. It helps me know what is limiting me. It shines a light so I can see the fear or the unknown or the question that hasn’t been asked. It puts my dream into the hands of God who knows what’s best for me and when I should have it, or not have it at all. Choices. Opportunities.

If I do not expect anything I am not disappointed. Yet nothing ventured, nothing gained.

Or something like that.

Picture0303181417_1.jpg             Sasanqua camellia

So go! Trust! Try and try again.

“Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, will keep your hearts and minds  in Christ Jesus. Finally beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”    Philippians 4:6-8

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not rely on your own insight. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.”   Proverbs 3:5-6

Picture0303181419_1.jpgDawn

 

 

an early spring

So last week temperatures hit record-breaking levels here. People are actually playing in the ocean even though the water is much colder than the air, and the gulf stream has not returned to the coastline yet. Trees have bloomed, some even sprouting early leaves. Pine pollen is coating everything with a filmy yellow-green. The daffodils are in full splendor and tulips are right behind them. Even a few azaleas are starting to open buds.

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The Azalea Festival is a big deal here. It’s kind of an arts festival but there is a queen of the festival and she has a court. They look like antebellum debutantes! Yes, hoop skirts, parasols, and escort cadets from The Citadel in Charleston. Apparently the original mission of this Gala began with the restoration of an unattractive marshy area and it became so beautiful the city decided to celebrate it. Thus began the festival in 1948.

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I have never been.

The azaleas, camellias and bulbs all bloomed last year long before the festival, and it looks as if this might happen again this year. There’s a garden tour which makes for a difficult time if you have no flowers to show in the garden. But each year they persist by holding the festival in April.

At that point tourists have begun returning for the summer, dogs are not allowed on beaches, parking meters have been reinstalled for the busy season, storefronts have been restored and repainted, streets resurfaced, everything has a polish and hums with anticipation of a successful summer.

But I digress.

It’s still February.

Normal spring doesn’t usually start here for at least 2 or 3 more weeks.  And even then it’s been known to snow after the dogwoods have bloomed. So here we are looking at burgeoning life and the skimmers and terns aren’t even back yet to their favorite nesting areas.

I can’t get caught up in all of this. I have to keep my brain focused on the day, not what it feels like.

When does Daylight Savings Time start?

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“But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.” –1 Corinthians 1:27

Layers

Some of us spend our whole lives putting them on only to find at the end of things we never saw what’s true because we couldn’t see through everything we piled on ourselves. Or what we saw was too skewed to perceive reality. Some layers are coping mechanisms, when we’re children for instance. We don’t want to get in trouble so we show polite faces to grown ups and appear agreeable even when it isn’t what we want. Sometimes these mechanisms are unhealthy like when we should be protecting ourselves but in order to prevent someone else’s anger we pretend. Or we use them to manipulate.

I was never very good at this and the older I get the more outspoken and tactless I seem to be. Well maybe not completely tactless, I do care about not hurting others’ feelings, but sometimes my outspokenness gets me into trouble. It happened at work once when a coworker who loved to boss people around (with no authority to do so) got her hooks in me once too many times and I sling-shotted back. That resulted in a session with our supervisor and, even though we smiled and shook hands and she said apology accepted, I received the cold-shoulder from this woman for the duration of my tenure at this particular workplace.

This kind of thing serves no useful purpose in my mind. Had it been me I would have found some level on which to function with her, not shut her out. All that did was feed the gossip and rumor mills about both of us, our competence or lack thereof and immaturity. It escalated the problem and created an obstructive distraction for others in the department.

It was only at a memorial dinner for my father that she, now long since a former coworker, and whose husband had been a close personal friend of Dad’s, chose to erase the memory. Once more, when greeting her at the dinner I spoke of how sad I was because of my outburst and how inappropriate I knew it to have been and thanked her for joining her husband to honor my dad. She pooh-poohed my concerns leaving me rebuffed yet again.

Well, I did feel some better. I may not completely forget things but I have never been one to hold a grudge. Life can’t happen spontaneously or naturally for those who do I would imagine. You’d keep having to work and rework around that grudge to fan its flames. Which makes one’s life pretty cumbersome and unbalanced. Not to mention hard to keep track of all those subplots.

Too much work.

I guess it’s easy to pontificate now that I am retired. I have peeled off all the work-related layers, those that I chose to carry while I worked. This may well be why I relish being alone, but so far most others I meet, even those retired as I am seem to choose to stay in their costumes, removing and applying them as they see fit to pursue their self-imposed carnival or theater. It must be absolutely exhausting for them!

Not me. Like I said, too much work.

Holding back

There’s a lot to be said for self-control, tact, mincing words, thinking before you speak. The tongue, the Bible tells us, has the power to encourage or destroy. Words have power. Restraint is a sign of a wise person.

I have never had much restraint.

These days I tell others since I hit middle age my filters have worn out. I speak my mind. I am getting better but it’s taking a lot of work. Somehow it seems there is so much that needs to be said and, face it. None of us knows how much time we’ve got.

My son and I used to use movie lines to describe feelings or circumstances in any situation. Something was confusing, we quoted from “Fletch!” (1985 based on Gregory McDonald’s novel), Chevy Chase as Fletch: “Well, there we’re in sort of a grey area.”

His editor: “Ok, how grey?”

Fletch: “Charcoal.”

Or from “The Princess Bride” (1987 William Goldman screenplay), Westley says to Buttercup in the fireswamp: “Well, I wouldn’t want to build a summer home here but the trees are quite lovely.”

Somehow the combination of movie lines from films that made us laugh and not having to use our own words would lighten any situation.

Oliver Platt to Meryl Streep in Carrie Fisher’s “Postcards from the Edge” (1990, novel of the same name): “You’re holding something back…”

Well, sometimes it’s called for. Other times, no. We can’t pull any punches though. We have to air things out. Otherwise the truth stays buried and everybody continues along in a fantasy parallel universe where no one is accountable, nothing matters except what we decide matters, even if it’s not truth. Since we’ve created some sort of reality to accommodate how we want things to be then we make it up as we go along. Like Jim Carrey’s “The Truman Show” (which I never saw… too depressing). Only by the time we run out of imaginary reality discourses and come out of our self-made tunnel we find reality has continued and we may be so out of touch we never catch up. Or get it, or catch on.

So it helps to stay close to truth. It’s essential, actually, for our own sanity.

The hardest part is holding to truth when someone close to you is living a fantasy, even a partial one. For all intents and purposes it looks like reality but it’s so far skewed from your reality that you either have to drop everything you know is truth and real to stay with them, or let it all go, keeping a distant watch to see where things go, or if the fantasy comes to an end. When paradise becomes rotten it’s hard to make it paradise again.

Especially when it’s all in your mind.

So, either have plans B, C, D, ad infinitum, ad nauseum, or be prepared to bite the bullet when it’s over and move on.

If this makes no sense to anybody, it’s ok. Lily and Lulu, my rescue dogs have been following along with me. It’s hard sometimes, to keep up without a score card.

Moving On

There are some things though at first you might be afraid of leaving behind, as you move forward you find go right along with you. In dreams, thoughts, and even though there is no physical presence they really are with you. Sure, sadness hits every so often when you realize it’s not a fantasy or just imaginings and that they are tangibly no longer there. But In dreams, in your habits, routines of everyday life there is still a presence. That dimension the friend created in you stays, even if the friend is no longer there, which means the friend is still very much a part of your life.

What a relief.

Staged Reality

I’ve not gotten caught up in these so-called reality shows. Not the housewives ones, nor Duck Dynasty, nor Millionaire Matchmaker– none. I nearly got sucked in though on a channel that I occasionally watch. I say occasionally because in winter I seem to gravitate way too much to television and am trying to break that habit.

I like Food Network. I like “Chopped” and sometimes “Cupcake Wars”, sometimes but not very often “Sweet Genius” or “Restaurant Impossible”. But those programs where they claim they have hidden cameras all over restaurants, in their kitchens, bars, and dining areas– I don’t know about those. They have a guy who hosts this program, having the restaurant owner with him in the control room where they have all these monitors. The owner has supposedly suspected one or some of his employees of stealing, abusing other coworkers or diners or something that would be a firable offense. Sometimes these are actually believable, but then the offender/s are brought in to the control room and wonder what all those monitors are. I can’t help but question whether these are actors portraying actual incidents. Or even made-up ones. They don’t appear truly surprised, or humbled, or inflamed, or indignant, or appalled, unless people are so callused that even their truth seems fake. No, they appear to have been rehearsed through this. I mean, can this actually happen to someone who does steal or abuse a customer or coworker? Without the impending lawsuit people seem to be able to get away with these days for pain and suffering regardless of the blatant fact that they caused the pain and suffering by their own actions?? Nobody seems to want to be responsible for something s/he did or said to intentionally hurt or deceive someone else. It’s always someone else’s fault. They got caught! Plain and simple. But on so many levels even networks are exploiting people’s devious stupidity. They cash in on stuff they tell us happened, but did it really? I know it could, but really, who wins in this one? I’ve never seen a disclaimer stating the participants are actors, but maybe there is one. The credits roll so fast who can read them? 

Maybe this blog isn’t so much about false reality as it is about our pathetic so-called justice system. There is no justice in the law. Winners are those who can argue a legal point better than somebody else, sometimes regardless of whether it has any moral or ethical bearing at all.

Most of the time it doesn’t even give the appearance of justice. Reality as I understand it is raw, vulnerable, risk-taking, bald-faced authenticity. Something a person can not hide behind because it is all s/he is.

And we, in our inerrant (?) hope in humanity, want to believe.