Baby bird (there is more to being an adult than age)

Just because someone is older doesn’t mean that they are mature. There is nothing about time that tempers a person. There is nothing about getting older that means you are an adult. There is nothing about producing children that makes you a good parent.

You know a tree by its fruit.

Children often wail when they don’t get their way. Adults either yell or sulk. It is the same thing. Sometimes with adults it translates to drinking or drugs. That is just resentment and anger and grief turned inwards. It is socially accepted self abuse.

Four or forty, if you haven’t figured out how to be around yourself, you aren’t very nice to be around. There has to be something in there about self-soothing, about self-control. There has to be something in there about being active and not passive about life.

Life is all about change. Plan for the bumps.

It helps to get into a regular habit of exercise and eating well. Save more money than you spend. Find some creative outlet. Learn about other cultures and ways of thinking.

Break out of your shell.

You are a baby bird, stuck in a shell. You have to break out of it on your own. If someone helps you with it you will die. If you are not strong enough to break out on your own then you aren’t strong enough to survive on your own.

Be an active force. Don’t let life happen to you. Don’t wake up five, ten, twenty years from now and wonder how you got here, sick and dying and your life wasted away.

Blogging about blogging

You have to be a little arrogant to write a blog. You have to honestly think that you have something to say that other people should read. You have to be a little brave and a little foolish and you have to not care what others think. You have to write for yourself. You have to write for your own sanity.

You have no way of knowing what your audience wants to hear. I’ve written about religion, creativity, getting healthy, women’s issues. I’ve written poetry and compiled lists of books. I’ve gotten new followers after each different thing and thought, if this is what you think this blog is about you are going to be very surprised.

Sometimes I think new people follow me because they have one of those blogs where they get money for each person who clicks on their page, and they want to lure me into doing that. I don’t have any respect for these people and their blogs. They aren’t using their blogs to inform or educate or inspire. They aren’t using their powers for good. I think they are wasting time and talent, and I think that is a shame.

I carry around a notebook all the time. I’m forever getting ideas for topics. If I am at a loss for what to write I just turn to a page and my outline is there. Sometimes I free-write and the ideas I’ve already jotted down are folded into the mix.

Sometimes I’ll wake up in the middle of the night with ideas that seem so radical and revolutionary that I have to scribble them down before I lose them. Sometimes I’ll be interrupted as I’m writing and I’m concerned that I’ll forget what I was saying.

I started this blog to explain my jewelry. Sometimes I don’t think in words. Sometimes I try to express myself in beads. I can get harmony and rhythm and pattern with beads as well as words. But with beads I have to explain myself. People don’t know the background of the beads. They don’t know the history. So when I’m sharing the story of a necklace that is significant, it is important to give the background story.

I couldn’t figure out how to attach pictures at first. What is the point of talking about beads and jewelry if I can’t show pictures of beads or jewelry? So I just started writing. I planned on at least one post a week, with a goal of three times a week. When Lent came, I made posting a minimum of three times a week part of my discipline. In order to do that I had to make time. I realized I was spending about an hour every morning on Facebook. I was mindlessly using it the same way I used to mindlessly watch TV. So I now write before I open up Facebook, and I find it all works out.

Mindful use of time is really important to me. I don’t know if I would have found this so important if my parents hadn’t died so young, but they did, and I do, so there you are.

I now spend at least an hour writing every morning. I write at lunch. I write when my husband is driving us places. My Kindle is my favorite tool for this. It is terrible for editing but it is fabulous for raw writing. I can then email it to myself and edit appropriately at home.

I now post on average once a day, often more. I have a huge backlog of half-written ideas and even more jottings in my notebooks of other ideas. I feel that it would be nice to have the time to write up all that I have. I also realize that having actual life experiences gives more flavor to what I write. I also realize that if left to my own devices I rarely complete projects. I need deadlines and limits. I need to be yelled at for an hour at the Y to get in my exercise for the day.

Sometimes I’m afraid I’ll run out of ideas. Sometimes I’m concerned that I share the best things first, so if I were to be in an accident I wouldn’t have kept the best for myself.

Sometimes I think nobody is actually reading this and it isn’t going to make a difference at all.

I know that writing is helping me think more clearly.
I know that writing is an important part of my plan to make myself better.

I started posting as notes on Facebook. Then I realized that I wanted to share some of what I’d said with people who weren’t my friends there. I had to create a blog or remember to cut and paste and email each person each piece. Honestly I’m too lazy for that.

There has been a weird side effect of starting a blog. I’m actually surprised that strangers are interested in my words. I’m stunned to see the statistics here, of where everybody is reading from. Romania. Ghana. Zimbabwe. Qatar. The Philippines. Australia. My words are travelling the world.

This is weird and beautiful and amazing.

I hope you get something useful out of my words. I hope you are inspired and encouraged and comforted. I hope you share your talents, whatever they are, with the world. I hope you find you are not alone. I hope you start that project and keep on going until the end.

Parental Advisory

I worked in a record store when the Parental Advisory Explicit Lyrics labels started being put on record albums. I could (and probably will) write a post just about that whole experience, but this is about a specific issue.

I owned two albums that illustrate the problem I have with these labels. One is an album from a band called Ministry. The album is called “The Land of Rape and Honey.” The other is from the Red Hot Chili Peppers. That album is called “Blood Sugar Sex Magik”.

The Ministry album does not have a Parental Advisory sticker on it, but the RHCP album does.

The Ministry album has a song with lyrics about extreme violence – about ripping someone’s head off and defecating on them, because they hate them. There are many uses of the F word.

The RHCP album has nothing of the sort. There is no violence. I listened to the album very carefully and the only thing I can see that might have been the issue is a song about having consensual sex with a female police officer on the hood of her patrol car.

Murder isn’t legal. Talking about murder in a song is legal.

Sex is legal. Talking about sex in a song is illegal.

Do you see the problem with this?

If we want to protect children from learning about things they aren’t ready to handle, I’d think glorifying murder would be tops on the list.

Both involve activities between two people. I can understand putting a label on an album that has a song that glorifies rape. But consensual sex? That is illegal to sing about.

Now, to be really honest, I think that the labels aren’t the issue. I think that parents need to parent their children. I think that parents need to be aware of what their children are reading and watching and be willing and able to help them understand what they are consuming. In the same way a parent should make sure a child eats healthy food and doesn’t consume poison, a parent should make sure their child is able to process music and literature in a healthy way.

I don’t think that the government or the record store or the library should be the teacher. That is the role of the parent.

Snake handler 3 (Jonah and the tornado)

Consider this Post Secret for weird people. This is a tale of Jonah in the whale, except I was Jonah and a tornado was the whale.

A few months ago a huge storm was coming. It was so big that the National Weather Service had sent out alerts a day beforehand. Now, I live in Tennessee, so severe thunderstorms that can produce tornadoes are normal. They are a fact of life, and just part of the tradeoff for living here. So for the local NWS to issue a strong alert about this the day before was concerning.

When I came home from work the day before it was late. The moon had risen, and a gentle darkness had covered my town. I felt a strong need to pray, right then, in my driveway. I didn’t feel like it could wait until I got inside. Also, I’m a little private about my prayers. Even though my husband has some inkling of my prayer life, he hasn’t seen it in action.

Now, you’d think that praying outside would be more public, but it isn’t. This is the South. It is hot. It is humid. We generally stay inside in air conditioned splendor. I’m honestly not sure how people survived before central air. Perhaps we have gotten soft with our modern machines, but I digress.

I was standing outside on my driveway, in the dark, praying to God. I prayed harder than I have prayed in a long time. I prayed for the safety of everyone in the path of the storm. I prayed that nobody lose their life. I felt after each request that it would be granted. I decided to push harder, and pray that there be no property damage, but I got a push back on that one and felt that was answered “no”. I prayed for about 20 minutes, fervently, earnestly, tearfully. This was a big storm. I was afraid.

The next day came and the storm was predicted for around 4 or 5. This gave me plenty of time to do errands. This too is normal in the South. We can’t let the fear of tornados stop us from living our lives. If we did, we’d never leave our houses in the Spring or Fall, when tornados are most likely to develop.

I had the day off the day of the storm. I met up with a friend and went to an art supply store. On the way I saw a guy who essentially lives at the library. He is homeless, and spends his days there. But on Fridays, we are closed. I saw him near the library and advised him about the big storm and asked if he had a place to go. He did. I went looking for another homeless person who lives near the post office but didn’t see him.

I finished my errands and went home. I prepared. I brought a camp chair into the area we use for tornados. There is a section in the basement that realtors refer to as “unfinished.” It is glorified crawl space. You can stand up in an area that is about 2 feet by 3 feet, and the rest is rock and dirt and conduit and pipes and wiring. There is an interior door and no windows. It is the best place to be in a bad storm – low, no windows. It is also really boring and a little smelly. I brought a flashlight. I brought my cell phone, with the Weather Channel application on.

Now, about now in this story you might be thinking where is my faith? I prayed to God. Yet I’m preparing for a tornado. Yes. There is no contradiction. There is an Arabic saying – “Trust God, but tie your camel”. I’m pretty sure that has a deeper meaning, but to me it means that you can’t be stupid. God will do what God will do, and it is up to us to do the rest. I also remember the story of the guy and the two boats and the helicopter. It is an old story that is told as a cautionary tale about not waiting for divine intervention to appear in miraculous ways. Often God works through simple everyday means. Perhaps I’ll transcribe it for another post, just in case you haven’t heard it.

I put on my long coat. I put on my bicycle helmet. I did both of these things to protect myself from potential flying debris. Sometimes it isn’t the tornado that kills you, but the stuff that gets flung around by the tornado. I looked outside and told my next-door neighbor who was just then noticing the storm coming that he should get inside and close his garage door. I suspect my wearing a coat and a bicycle helmet drove the message home that I was serious. I called my neighbor across the street to let him know about the storm as well.

I’m an Advanced Certified Storm Spotter. I’m certified by the National Weather Service. I’ve taken two classes for this, totaling 7 hours. I’ve got a certificate. I’ve got a non-public 1-800 number stored in my speed dial to call in reports. I know what bad weather looks like.

This looked bad.

The storm was huge, at least 6 miles wide. The center of it on the radar was purple. Red is bad enough. When it gets to purple you are in real trouble. The purple area was at least 2 miles wide. And it was headed straight for my neighborhood. There were reports of hail. Hail is an indicator of tornadic activity. We were under a tornado warning, not a watch. Warnings are worse. Warnings mean that it looks on the radar like a tornado could be forming, but the NWS has no way of knowing one has actually touched down unless it is called in by a spotter. So there could be a tornado happening and the NWS wouldn’t know. Best to prepare as if there is one.

I sat inside my safe place and waited. I could hear the storm howling around the house. I could hear what sounded like hail. I was alone, because my husband was stuck at work waiting out the storm there. I prayed. I prayed hard. I prayed like Jonah. I prayed in a different way than I’d prayed the night before. I was stuck in the middle of a bad thing, and instead of praying to get out of it I prayed prayers of thanks. I praised God. I gave thanks to God, praising Him for his mercy and kindness. I thought of everything that I had and everything that I am and I gave thanks to God for it. Instead of asking for more, I gave thanks for what was right now.

Meanwhile that huge blob of purple was headed straight for my house. There was no way it was going to miss me. If it didn’t have a tornado in it, it had wind strong enough to knock down the trees in my yard and flatten my house. You don’t need a tornado to destroy your home. A strong enough wind will do the job.

And I prayed.

And God listened. God always listens. God always answers prayers, but not always the way you want them to go. This is an important point. It is important to be OK with “No” being an answer. It is important to know that God isn’t your waiter.

The storm eased. It grew quiet outside. Was this the eye of the storm? I looked at the weather radar and it looked clear. The blob had moved on faster than I expected. It is as if this huge freight train of a storm had just hopped over my neighborhood.

I went upstairs to look out the front door. I braced myself for the sight. I expected to see several trees down, or power lines across the road. I steeled myself against the inevitable results of storms in the South, and especially one so ferocious sounding.

I opened the door and was greeted by bright sunshine and the songs of birds. The only thing that had come down in my neighborhood were leaves. No limbs. No trees. No power lines. It looked like a standard spring rain had happened. As I took all of this in, I heard very clearly in my head this voice – “And now you know that I am your God.”

I laughed. I laughed with relief and amazement. I had tears coming down my face as I laughed. I said in reply “And I am your girl.”

I checked the news reports the next day, and found that “miraculously”, no one was killed in this storm.

I’m telling you this story to tell you that God is real.
I’m telling you this story to tell you that God listens to prayers.
I’m telling you this story to tell you that it is OK to pray big.

I’m telling you that our God is an awesome God.
I’m telling you that even if you don’t believe in God, God believes in you.

This is the God of Abraham, and of Isaac and of Israel. This is the God who is the father of Jesus. This is the God who created the world and everything in it. This is the God who created you and me.

I’m telling you that it is comforting to pray to God. It is comforting to know that there is a power greater than you who is in charge and who cares about you. It is comforting to know that you aren’t alone. It is comforting to know that this power, this force, wants to connect with you.

I wish you peace on your journey.


(Edit – I’ve located the pictures from my phone of the radar picture from that storm)
I was right in the path.
It was a very dense storm.