One size (poem)

One size does not fit anybody.
Not even most.
We’ve forced ourselves into conformity
into complacency
into a mold that is not
of our own making.

We’ve shoved our feet into shoes
that don’t fit,
hobbling ourselves in the name of
getting along,
of making do,
of giving up our own power,
our own knowledge,
our own ability.

We thought by doing so that we’d have
more time
to be ourselves,
to do our own thing,
to think our own thoughts.
We thought that by giving up
to the authorities,
to the experts,
to the corporations,
to the system,
that we wouldn’t have to worry
about it
about anything
The professionals would do it for us.

Perhaps it is better said that they do it
to us.

Bigger isn’t always better.

We gave so much away.
Childbirth, daycare, school, medical care, funerals.
Our whole lives from birth to death.
Who raises our children?
Not us.
Who takes care of us when we get sick, or old?
Not our family, not our friends.

We stopped making our own clothes,
our own houses,
our own lives.
We gave away our power.
We stopped raising our own food.
We don’t even know what is in it,
thus we don’t even know what is in us.

We become sick,
and our sickness
is from separation
from our own selves.

Deep down,
we want the old ways back,
the community, the village, the self sufficiency.
We want to know
and be known by
the people in our lives.

We don’t have to do it all,
but we don’t have to give it all away

Attractive and repulsive

When we say someone or something is “attractive” or “repulsive”, it is in relation to another.

It is more than “pretty” or “ugly”. We could use those terms to explain this concept, but they aren’t as illustrative.

Think of magnets. If they are opposite polarity, they attract each other. If they are the same, they repel. But a magnet on its own is just a magnet. It isn’t attracting or repelling. So people who are “attractive” or “repulsive” are only so in relation to other people’s perspectives. On their own, they just are who they are.

It is “all in the eye of the beholder”.

Our value should not be dependent on other people giving it to us. If we are truly to be self-sufficient and have self-esteem, our value as people has to start with “self” and not “other”. We have to see ourselves as valuable.

I don’t think seeing ourselves as “beautiful” or “rich” or “smart” is helpful either. Those terms are still in relation to others. In the case of those terms, others are not defining us, but we are defining ourselves in relation to others.

Simply know that you are valuable and needed, just as you are.

A perspective on self-sufficiency

If you feel like you need other people to praise you or encourage or thank you, then you aren’t self-sufficient. If you need people to say you are OK, then you aren’t. Likewise, if someone else tells you you’re no good and it stops you from doing what you need to do, then you aren’t self-sufficient.

Other people’s opinions don’t matter. They too are struggling with self-doubt, blame, loss, anger, and sadness. They too are just human, and fallible.

Whether they are your parents, or friends, or strangers, don’t let their opinion about how you are living your life stop you, or start you. Whether you chose them in your life or not, their opinion doesn’t matter, whether it is good or bad.

This message is for everyone, but especially for anyone who is disenfranchised such as women and minorities. You don’t need other people’s approval to live your life. Whatever they say doesn’t matter.

You are the authority on your own life.
You are the author of your own life.

Of course you are doing things differently from how they are doing it. You aren’t them.

Be wary of anyone who tries to knock you down, and also of anyone who tries to build you up. If they remove their praise, will you still follow your calling?

Walking to Nashville

A lady came up to me at work a few days ago and said “I’m walking. How do I get downtown?” She was middle aged and looked healthy in mind and body. This was around 6 pm.

Now, you need to understand that downtown Nashville is about twenty minutes away, by car, from where we were.

I said that was going to take her hours. She said it didn’t matter, she had to get to work in the morning and she didn’t have any money for a taxi and she didn’t understand the bus routes. She again asked for directions on how to walk to downtown Nashville.

I was torn, a little. Should I give her money? She didn’t ask for it. She looked like she was in her right mind, even though I didn’t think she was acting like it.

So I gave her directions. If you walk north to the main road and go left it is a straight shot to downtown. It is how I go, but I drive. The freeway traffic in Nashville is terrible. I hope to never walk to downtown, but if I had to I’d go this way.

This all raised more questions.

Why doesn’t she have a car?
Why doesn’t she have any money?
Where are friends she could call for a ride?
Where is she going to sleep – or is she?
How did she get here to start off with?
How did she get to be my age and be in such a situation?

But then again, I think I was more concerned about her than she was. I felt that this was a bad situation, but one brought about by bad choices. She seemed rather matter of fact about it, blasé even. I got the impression that this was her normal.

While I wanted to rescue her by giving her money for a cab, I got the impression didn’t feel like she needed to be rescued. And I knew deep down that if I bailed her out this time, it wouldn’t prevent the next time. If she hasn’t learned how to plan ahead by now it is highly unlikely that she is going to any time soon.

I wonder if she made it to where she was going. I wonder if she knew what to do when she got there.

I gave her the help she asked for, and secretly I was relieved that she didn’t ask for money. I’m always wary of panhandlers. I never know if they are going to spend the money I give them on what they asked for. I don’t want to aid and abet an addiction.

I wanted to save her from what I saw as bad choices. If I’m being honest, I wanted her to be me. I wanted her to be independent and self sufficient. But if I’m digging even further and being really honest I have to admit that she already was, she just wasn’t in a way that I recognized and approved of.

Picture-story part three – gold

I’ve finally met some people. They tell me they call this planet Graille. I didn’t see them at first because nobody sees them at first. They’ve become invisible. Well, not really invisible, but nobody notices them.

They came here because they could actually see each other. The closer you get to being awake, the more visible you become to each other, and the more invisible you become to everybody else.

Everyone else is so busy watching reality TV that they have stopped noticing what reality even looks like anymore. They are so used to artificial colors and flavors that they don’t know what real food looks like or tastes like anymore either. No wonder the real people have become invisible.

That field of stars I saw? That’s gold. It isn’t a field of stars at all. It’s a compost pile of sorts.

There was a hoarding of it around the turn of the century, a century ago. Every street corner and every abandoned building became a place to buy up gold. “Cash for gold”, they said. “Best prices!”

Some of these invisible people set up these shops, alongside the end-of-the-world doom mongers. They did it to collect more gold. They knew that money wouldn’t do them any good where they were going, but gold would.

It wasn’t for a profit. It was for the planet. This planet.

The gold feeds the soil. They use it with their compost, their kitchen scraps. The gold cancels out the acidic soil here, makes it come alive again.

They discovered that digging up all the gold was why the Earth’s soils stopped producing food, why they had to start 3D printing it out of plastics and polymers. That food fills you up, same as eating Styrofoam. It just leaves you hungry for more because you never got filled up with food in the first place.

The soil needed the gold under it all along. That’s why the Creator put it down there in the first place. Funny people, digging up the wrong thing. They thought if they dug up more gold, they could buy more food. Turns out if you leave it where it is, you get more of what you were looking for.

(After a long amount of wrestling with this, I’ve decided that if the words come without the picture, to let them. And if they are not 1000 words a section, that is OK. Rules cannot get in the way of the goal.)

Poem – Stone (predictive text)

So it seems like we are
sent to be the ones.
So what now?

They don’t want to do it.
This may sound strange.
There are many different churches
that I have been deceived by.

Then the lights came up.

On to the shelter
our bodies house

Now I’m adrift in the middle.
Note that I am sure how to do it
no matter how.

Everything else is extra.

I’ve started a new thing with my predictive text poems. The Kindle offers words all the time while I write. It thinks it knows what I want to write even if I’ve just put down one letter. It is kind of like that annoying friend who won’t let you finish your sentences. I decided to let it help me write poems. Previously I’d just go with the flow and let it offer whatever it wanted. At a certain point it bogs down and starts only giving me two or three letter words. This is after the first word in a sentence. Most of the words aren’t nouns or verbs either, so this gets old really fast.

I decided to start poems with a theme or a trick. I’ll pick a word, and start each section with one letter of the word. When I put the first letter down, the Kindle offers me about ten words that start with that letter and I’ll pick whichever one seems the best at the time. It is kind of random, and kind of by feel. I have input – but I can only pick the words that are there. At the end of each line, reuse the letter until I have gotten to an ending point. Then go on to the next letter as the next section. I’m trying to pick a word that has a resonance with me, and if I remember I’ll put an intention at the beginning, as a sort of prayer request. The resulting poem is either the answer to it or a further meditation on it.

I write what I can, then email it to myself and edit it on my real computer. The Kindle assumes every line starts with a capital letter, and sometimes the syntax is a little off so I have to tweak it. Sometimes in the middle of the poem I feel it has led me to a place where I need to say something that it isn’t giving me the words for and I’ll free write. But in general, when I call something a predictive text poem, the Kindle supplied around 90% of the words. I just harvested them.

I especially like the tension in this one in the line “On to the shelter/our bodies house” because is the shelter the house, or our bodies? Is the body a house? I think it points to the idea that we don’t need a church because we carry it with us. Our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit. We no longer need to go anywhere to find God – God is always with us. Actually, this has always been the way, it is just that now we are coming to see this. We have been mislead for so long in thinking that we didn’t have any power and we had to go to someone or somewhere else to find it.

Hair philosophy.

I cut my own hair. I’ve cut my own hair since I was in college. My brother’s wife at the time was a hairdresser and she happened to mention that she cut her own hair. I’d never even considered such a thing. I always thought that was something that you had hire someone to do. How many other things are possible if we just hear that we can do it ourselves?

Fortunately when I first started cutting my own hair I was in college, where it didn’t really matter what my hair looked like. I had a job on campus to pay off my student loan, so it wasn’t like a real job. If my hair looked weird I wasn’t going to get fired. Plus, having strange hair is part of being in college. If it looked really strange I could wear a hat.

I cut my hair like I trim shrubbery. I whack at it until it doesn’t bother me. Just like shrubbery, it will grow back, so there really isn’t too much that can go wrong. Well, there was the time that I cut off way too much and had to trim up the rest to match… It turns out that I look good with a Mohawk. It is more about attitude than style. If you carry the “yeah, I meant this” attitude, you can get away with any style.

I have gotten my hair cut professionally before and it always seems to be done wrong. I have a weird random cowlick that starts about four inches down on my right side. I know where it is but the hairdressers never do. I’ve decided that it is just easier to cut my own hair. Why pay to get my hair cut, and have it done badly, when I can screw it up myself for free?

If you are a highly sensitive person, cutting your own hair is the way to go. Going to a hairdressing salon can be a very overwhelming experience if you have sensory processing disorder. No more dealing with a stranger touching your head. No more feeling trapped in that uncomfortable chair with a person standing behind you. No more smelling the strong chemicals in the salon.

After all these years I’ve gotten pretty good at cutting my own hair. It takes a bit of practice to get right, because I am working backwards in a mirror. The trick is to cut a little bit at a time and make small adjustments. Also – have a simple hairstyle.

I used to cut my hair as a study break in college. I studied a lot, and when the stress would get to me I’d cut my hair. I guess I got in more practice that way. It didn’t look that bad. In fact, a friend wanted her hair cut like mine and I cut her hair for free. She looked like me and also worked on campus. It was funny dealing with people in the bookstore where I worked who would stare at me and say “Weren’t you in the computer lab?” I’d assure them that I wasn’t. They wouldn’t believe me. I’d ask – was I really quiet and shy, or energetic like I am now? The quiet and shy one is Beth, not Betsy. Plus – her hairstyle wasn’t exactly like mine – it was the mirror of mine. It was a funny summer.

One size

I think we have lost something with not making our own clothes. We have tried to fit ourselves into a certain mold that isn’t us.

There is no such thing as one size fits all. Sure, one thing covers all, but it sure doesn’t fit.

Premade clothes don’t fit our style in any meaningful way. We are all different and special. We are all one of a kind. Our clothes are extensions of our personalities and show the world something of who we are. How can we possibly express our uniqueness by picking something off the rack at Walmart? Why does Target get to tell me what I want to wear?

Then there is the idea of actual fit. We all have different shapes. Some are taller, some are rounder, some have bumps in different places. It isn’t wrong, just different. When we try to put our unique shape into something off the rack, we are guaranteed to feel that we don’t measure up.

This is a lie. We don’t need to measure up to a generic standard. We aren’t generic. We are each different and that is perfect.

So realize that if the clothes don’t fit, it isn’t your fault.

On self-sufficiency and faith.

When I was young my Mom taught me how to sew using the sewing machine. It was a finicky one and the bobbin kept messing up, or the feed dog would get jammed, or the thread would break. I would ask for help and my Mom would fix the problem. The bad part however is that she didn’t show me how to fix the problem myself.

Years later, after she had died, I wanted to sew something and I still didn’t know how to fix it when something didn’t work right. I fooled around with the machine but it wasn’t budging. I decided to buy a used machine that was simple to operate and had an instruction manual with pictures. I learned how to use it and wondered why my Mom never thought to teach me how to do this myself. It was really easy to do. By hiding it from me, she made it seem like it was something special that only she could do.

It seems to me that part of the job of being a parent is to teach their children to be self sufficient. If they still needing your help to fix things when they are adults then that is a bad reflection on the parent.

I’ve encountered the same attitude from church. I’m hopeful that all churches aren’t like this, in the same way that all parents aren’t like mine. But my experience over all of my life has been that in every church I’ve gone to, the minister has treated me as a passive observer in my faith life. They have acted as if the life of faith is something that happens to you, rather than something you do.

Then I started going to a spiritual director. She has been to seminary, but she isn’t ordained. She is like a personal trainer for the soul. If the journey of faith uses a car, not only is she teaching me to drive, she is teaching me how to find the tools and repair it myself. Meanwhile, all the ministers I’ve ever been lead by have treated me like I was a passenger. They didn’t teach me how to drive. They didn’t even let me know I could.

It is a little overwhelming. I feel like I’m late to the party. I feel like I should have known this all along. This is part of the purpose of my blog – to let you know that you too have the right to drive this car of faith. I describe tools to you as I come across them.

Imagine how powerful the body of Christ will be when we all wake up to our true potential and realize we aren’t passive observers.

Will post for food…

I read a story lately about a lady who was in dire straits. She posted on a local Facebook page saying that she needed help and didn’t know what to do.

She said that she really needed help. She was a single mom and had two little girls, one 7 and one nearly 2. She said that she was about to be evicted because she hadn’t paid her rent, she didn’t have any food, and she didn’t have winter clothes for the girls. She said she was starting a job on Monday but wouldn’t be paid until two weeks later.

Plenty of things don’t sound right about this.

Apartments don’t kick you out for nonpayment of rent for the first month. They usually wait at least two months. So this has been going on for a while.

If she has custody of the children, she should be getting child support. She didn’t mention anything about this. Perhaps she is a widow. Again, no mention.

No food? No winter clothes? Did she just wake up from a coma and notice that something might need to be done? How has she survived this long with this basic inability to plan ahead?

And why is she asking for help from strangers? Why isn’t she asking family or friends? I have a suspicion she already has asked them before and they are tired of rescuing her.

I know that as Christians we are not supposed to question those who ask for help. We are not supposed to judge their worthiness. But there has to be some accountability going on. Otherwise we should all quit our jobs and start begging. Wait – that won’t work. Then who would give us money if they too didn’t have a job?

I remember seeing a guy on the side of the road with a sign saying that he needed a new roof. When I needed a new roof I got a second mortgage. I had asked my family if I could get a loan from them, having never asked before, and I got quickly turned down. So I had to figure out another way. Standing on the side of the road with a cardboard sign never occurred to me as something that was OK. It still doesn’t seem OK.

At what point is helping someone not helping at all? At what point is helping someone just encouraging them to keep needing help?

I’m reminded of the phrase –“Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and he can feed himself for the rest of his life.”

At what point do we have to show “tough love” and make people have to be responsible for their own lives?