My Dear Beloved

My Dear Beloved Family Member,

You are here out of love for me to help me in my time of need to get my life and house in order and for that I am more grateful than paltry words can even express. In the short time that you have been here this week you have helped me immeasurably. I am incredibly grateful. I love you.

I am also trying very hard to take in the lessons that you are here to teach me. People say that people come into your life to be a blessing or a lesson. I think that this may be true, but the truth is that the two are not mutually exclusive and some, most even, are both. You, my darling, are definitely both. The funny thing is that the lessons that I am taking from our time together are not the ones that you thought you came here to teach.

You preach with evangelical zeal about your beliefs and opinions with such ferocity that you seem to be deaf to the beliefs and opinions of those that you are trying to convert. I feel that you wield your convictions with great passion and authority to bring as many people as possible to the light of your ideals. I love your passion and faith. But I need for you to take the lesson from me that, after a few times, the passion that you’re are wielding with such enthusiasm stops feeling like an offering of a gift and begins to feel like a club.

In my opinion, after you have given me your truth 2 or 3 times, I have either accepted it or not. Your continued efforts to “improve” me indicate to me a couple of things. First, you might think that I’m not smart enough to pick up what you’re laying down. I don’t believe that you think that I am stupid, but I want you to know that that is the message that I am recieving from you sometimes when you tell me AGAIN what you think I should be doing differently or better.

Second, my opinions and beliefs on that subject are invalid in a way that yours are not. You are very righteous in your convictions. You have found your path and it is a glorious one. I can see why you wish to share it.  But it is not my path. I  am forging my own path to my own truth. AND IT IS JUST AS VALID AS YOURS. As much as you believe in the validity of your path, I believe in the validity of your path. I expect the same in return or it makes it very hard to have any true exchange of ideas and thought. When I hear you proclaim that something “is the TRUTH and is REAL” I know that it is. For you. But it may not be for everyone else and I need you to allow for the possibility that yours is not the only way.

Third, when you continuously bring up the same “issues” that you feel I need to change, you are letting me know that that is the only thing about me of value or worthiness to you. When you dismiss my other activities as a nice hobby or something not really worth doing, you are rejecting the parts of me that you deem aren’t of import. This is very hurtful and does not convert me to your cause. In fact, it has the opposite effect. I will tell you, and this is the TRUTH and this is REAL, that in the heat of our argument last night, I very nearly asked you to leave my house. Because, regardless of the condition it is in, I will be treated with respect and dignity in my own home. That is a condition that I place upon your being here. The reason that I didn’t is because I know that the place you are coming from is one of love and good intentions. I want you to take the lesson that your message is being lost by the method of delivery.

You were correct in some parts of your rejection of my evaluation of my own shortcomings and ways of dealing with them. I am not “unique.” So take this information to heart, because I can guarantee that I am not the only one who is feeling this from you. Many people that I know, in and out of our family, are reluctant to instigate a confrontation, especially with someone who doesn’t seem able to really engage in an equal exchange.

If you offer me the gift of your wisdom from your experience, I cherish it. I will take it in my heart as a treasured keepsake from a loved one and use it if it fits or works for me. I hear you and I am receptive.

If you again offer it, I am appreciative, a little less receptive, but I still hear you.

The third time, I will begin to resist your offering and will not be receptive. The loudness of your actions begins to drown out my ability to hear your words.

If you continue to push your offering on me, then I know that the offering is not about me, but primarily about you getting your way. You are a very intense person and many people, as I have in the past, step back and allow you to sail on by on the wind of your breath. But, in my home, with regard to my self and my child, it is my sacred task to defend our hearts from attacks of any kind, no matter how well intentioned. So, save your breath and get down and row with me.

I have opened my home and my heart to you to reveal my greatest failings and some of my most shameful secrets. In every way possible I am at the most vulnerable place that I have ever been in my life. I am trusting you to take care of me and treat my heart and mind as gently as you can.

I do not feel accepted by you as I am. I feel judged and found lacking. This negativity is not conducive to growth. In fact, my reaction to it is to close off, shut down, and resist you with all of the same stubbornness and zeal that you push with. We are from the same bloodstock after all. I am sharing with you not from a place of anger, but from a place of love. Because I do love you and, especially right now, I need you. But, I am not willing to pay the toll that you seem to want to exact from me in payment for the help.

I will, if pushed enough, refuse your help, even as badly as I need it. I hope you can accept this offering of my truth from the place it is intended, which is a place of love and peace and connection.

As I accept the lessons that I am learning from you about how to defend my convictions, assert myself, and maintain my boundaries, while still advocating with love.
Thank you for the lessons.

Short cuts and Cheat Codes

I have trouble shopping online. I get overwhelmed with all the options and choices and just freeze. I really need to buy something from ebay so I’ve enlisted my friend to buy it for me. It’s okay to go around hurdles. You don’t always have to jump over them.

My husband’s throat doesn’t work right anymore (too many neck surgeries), so he has difficulty swallowing. This limits the types of foods that he is able to eat. In June he was in the hospital for a couple of things. One of which was extreme weight loss. In order to facilitate his weight gain back to a healthy weight they installed a feeding tube in his stomach. But he’s still supposed to try to eat to keep his throat working and to maybe get off the feeding tube one day.

This is where my difficulty comes in.

All three of us are very picky to start with. I’ve never been that great of a cook. But I did manage to muddle along for years. But last year I discovered that I have a sensitivity to dairy and to soy.  The combination of three picky eaters, two of whom have special food needs is just over my head.  I just can’t spin that many plates at once.

So I’ve now asked my friends to occasionally put aside a tiny portion of soft meals that they make so Spouse A can try to eat it. Hopefully that will help. I still have to work on the rest of us, but it’s a start.

 

On boxes and other permeable divides

I like to put people in general boxes for easy sorting, but keeping in mind that people are messy and tend to leak out of boxes I thought were tidy. I tend to not fit most boxes and find them constricting, so I try to keep that in mind for other people. I’ve also found that, not having access to the entirety of another person’s thoughts and experiences, I am often COMPLETELY WRONG about which box I put them in and totally surprised when they pop up in another box that I wouldn’t have thought to put them in. Things would be a lot simpler if these things were simpler. The problem becomes if a person is judged for being in a certain box. That’s where I have a problem with labels and boxes . Some people just want to know whether you are “for or against” them and that is a very black and white way to live in a world that is permeated with the entire gradation from black to white and transmuted by variations of shadow and light.

#@#$ #%$ Censors!

I was on Pinterest.

Now I am not.

This is why:

They deleted an entire board of mine for violating their rules regarding nudity and sexual images. The thing that really chapped my hide about it wasn’t that they wanted to remove individual pins, they had been doing that for some time. What I didn’t appreciate was that it was a private board that no one else could see.

I had already been frustrated with the addictiveness of it. Seriously, it lights up my ADD perfectly. IDEAS! Pretty Pictures! No actual action required!

So when they decided  to delete a board that was not even viewable by anyone else, I had had enough.

I deactivated my account.

Sigh.

Goodbye ADD bait.

Mixologist

Years ago I was reading a book about Attention Deficit Disorder and one of the things she talked about was not to always be negative about the things you struggle with. She recommended trying to put a positive spin on things. For example, don’t dwell on being bad at organization, but consider that you are really good at taking things apart and rearranging them.

I wish I was able to remember what book it was so I could go back and find out what word she used. It was a specific word for that creative disorder and reorder that some of us are so good at. It may have been an art term, but I haven’t come across it in my art studies. Over the last few years, I’ve tried to look it up in other places because I feel that as an artist and as a human my main function is to blur those lines of demarcation that are so boldly etched between divisive labels, categories, or so-called boxes.

Many (uh, all) of the these divisions are not as clear cut as you might think. There is a lot of crisscrossing and overlap if you only look a little harder. People and things that don’t fit strongly into a clearly marked box are often overlooked or rejected in favor of clarity and ease of description. Which is fine if you are willing to reject reality. Because the truth is that messy and disordered and uncategorizable is the essence of life. In life, in art, in science, and in nature you can always find things and people and behaviors that don’t follow the mainstream and the usual “rules.”

I feel that a militant stance on any one rule or set of rules usually covers a fear of the unknown and where you might fit into that unknown, new hierarchy if the status quo is status quashed. Take, for example,  Art vs Craft. I understand the need to elevate the role of the artist to something beyond the ordinary. I benefit highly from that distinction and do not treat it cavalierly. The trouble comes when an artist, or a fine craftsman, as they like to say, takes skill and imagination to a place that is not inside those categories, but somewhere in the middle. I wield glue nearly as often as I do a brush or pencil. Other artists use what are traditionally considered crafts in such new and innovative ways, or at such a “high level” that they bump Craft into the category of Art.

There is plenty of room inside Art for everything. For all of it.

When I was a teen I was in love with the bartender character in the movie Cocktail. I was planning to do what he did. Bartend in the islands somewhere during the winter and back here the rest of the time. After a detour or two, I did eventually become a bartender. While I wasn’t the jetsetting bartender that I had envisioned, I did learn about mixing and pouring drinks and some of what it takes to run a bar.

I wasn’t a bad bartender. But, to be honest, I am not quite social enough to do it for very long before I get burned out. Some people are hardwired in a way that makes them ideal for it.  A really good bartender is one part accountant, one part scientist, and three parts showman, with a shot of flair and a splash of crazy. Mix with ice, shake, pour and watch the magic unfold.

But they don’t all invent new drinks. I think that a mixologist is a bartender who can envision how things might taste together and tinkers and tries it until it comes to fruition. This way of seeing is a unique gift to have. The ability to look out past the is to the can be and then to follow your line of sight out into the future is kinda magical.

That’s why I’ve decided that I already have my word for someone who mixes, blends, blurs, connects, rearranges, reassembles, remakes, creates, invents, explores, and just generally muddles things around until they are a new being.
I am a mixologist.

Bar’s open.

Rural Life Lesson #246:Gates

There’s an old joke (It’s possible it’s a riddle or a something else.). It goes something like this:

Three guys are riding along in a pickup truck. How do you know who is the wisest ranch hand?

The one in the middle. Because he doesn’t have to drive and he doesn’t have to jump in and out to open the gates.

I don’t actually live on a ranch, but I have spent enough time around horse farms and barns to be able to say, with great certainty, that good fences make good horses. We have had a failure of a couple of our fences here at our place and so our horses currently have the run of the place including right up to the gate to exit the property. Aside from the fact that they get into all kinds of things that they shouldn’t (that used to be safely on the other side of a fence and THANK GOD THEY DON’T HAVE HANDS), they can sometimes make it hard to leave or enter without risking an escape attempt. They aren’t especially trying to leave. It’s just that the grass is greener where you haven’t eaten it yet and, sometimes, given an opportunity in the form of an open gate, they will walk through it looking for greener pastures, or whatever beckons on the other side.

One of my chief symptoms of my ADD is that I am particularly challenged by transitions. I am strongly bound by Newton’s Laws of Inertia. What I mean is that first, it’s hard for me to get started on a task or project. (an object at rest, no?)

Then, once I get going it’s often hard for me to stop or leave off. (an object in motion, see?)

It’s also really hard for me to smoothly switch directions or roles quickly. I require an adjustment period to get my mind’s compass reoriented. (This is still in the category of ‘an object in motion’, but has more to do with the part about being ‘acted upon by another force’, I think. You can imagine my brain as a large truck. Slow to start off, takes a longer distance to stop, and needs a large turning radius.)

The things I’ve learned with the horses and their gates and with my own gateways and transitions are these:

1. Recognise that they are a barrier that you are going to have to deal with. Understanding that it is an issue for you goes a long way toward mitigating the effects of the problem. In school, I learned that I needed to arrive at my classes at least 15 minutes early in order to have time to get mentally prepared to think about the class and the topic at hand. If I did not have that time, the first few minutes of class were not very useful because my mind will take the time it needs regardless. It’s just better to give it the time beforehand. With regard to the gates here on the property, remembering to leave a couple (or a few) minutes early so that we can negotiate our exit strategically is a sound plan and one that keeps us from freaking out from having to hurry and having things go wrong (as they inevitably will) doesn’t ruin our plans nearly as often.

2. Be prepared for trickery. Often we are able to just drive down to the gate, open it, and leave with very little hassle. Sometimes, the horses are less helpful and we need to do something to get them to back off from the gate. Usually this is just a little bit of hay or grain offered a fair distance away from the gate so that they are busy for a few minutes while we make our getaway.  Do what you need to do to make things easier for yourself. Set timers a few minutes before you need to end a task so it doesn’t come as as much of a shock. Make sure other people know that they should  give you a heads up and or a count down a few minutes early. My son knows that if he comes up and interrupts me to get me to do something, he will be met with resistance. But if he says, can we do such-and-such at x time? he will get a much better response. (Unfortunately we’ve had to figure this out through trial and error. Learn from me, people!)

3. Try not to do it by yourself. It’s infinitely harder to get through the gate smoothly by yourself. It’s a lot of moving parts and variables to works by yourself. It can lead to a lot more frustration and running around. The best case scenario is to have systems in place that eliminate much of the stress of the transition. Ideally, with physical gates, you have two gates with enough room to park between them so that you can pull in, shut the gate behind you, then open the gate in front of you to allow your egress without much bother. More ideally, you have people working those gates for you so you don’t have to clamber in and out and around to complete all of the steps.

Less ideally, you only have one gate, but you have a person or two to open and close it for you so that it’s smoother, easier, and there’s less chance of things going awry. The truth is that sometimes things are just going to fall into the worst case scenario and all the systems in the world can’t help that. Then you need a plan. What to do if the horses aren’t occupied elsewhere. Which way to open the gate for best outcome. (Up (for us, here), if you’re interested.) How to have timed your arrivals and/or departures to have help around.

For your mental maneuverings, the same applies. Try very hard to have systems with timers and calendars in place. Make sure people know to allow to time to get through the gate, to remind you of upcoming stops or starts.

In the worst case scenario, remember that with a little patience, and maybe a little trickery, you will, no doubt, get through to the other side.

the middle of the night

Sometimes these things

these things weigh heavily on my mind.

Pushed up from my heart where usually they lay in dormant slumber.

These hard things. Sad things. Difficult things that are here or else are coming.

They are there. Things that must be done. Or staved off.

Things that are bigger than me. Overwhelming and tricky things.

A list of things a mile long that must be done, figured, taken care of.

These things that get the best of me more often than I care to admit.

Mostly I sleep well. Sleep is healing and keeps the gears running,

but sometimes this list just ticks on through. Not letting me rest in it’s demanding urgency.

The clock is ticking, the list is ticking, time just keeps on ticking by

and still I just keep swimming upstream it feels like. Awash in a sea of mixed metaphors

and similarly confused similes like a salmon throwing itself up the rapids, desperate only to hatch these ideas into fruition.

I’m tired and need to go back to bed, but I needed to get some of this junk out of my weary head.

It will keep until the morning.

My tender heart will not break tonight even though it is stretched tight. My brain paces around itself looking for the lightswitch.

Turn out the lights, it’s bedtime.

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