My tongue is in my hand…

Archive for April 2009

Posted on: April 30, 2009

Real quick, because I’ve been short on time lately:

Yesterday, Natalie was outside, trying to fit a toy into a bag so she could come inside and she kept yelling that “it’s not working!” I know I could have just went out there to get it for her, but I wanted her to struggle and ask, because that’s part of life. Besides, she may not have actually been ready for my help if she was too busy being mad about the whole thing. So finally, she came to the door, and I opened for her and asked what was wrong. Then I told her she could just ask me to help. So  she did. And I did.

A moment’s reflection and I thought about the way that day had been particularly hard for me, for no particular reason. So, I turned that on myself and asked God for some help because sometimes, I think God just wants us to ask, because then we’re done being busy and mad and ready to take the hand.

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At any given time, our lives are subject to change drastically. For the good, or the bad. At this point in the relatively young lives of my friends and I (as twentysomethings), we may have already had moments like this, but the truth of the matter is, we will have many more. Some of us will get cancer, get divorced, lose a child, lose a home, lose our parents, lose our jobs, lose each other, plan funerals, spend nights by our children’s bed in the hospital, be victims of a crime, suffer a natural disaster, survive battles of all kinds that others don’t and live with the knowledge of that…We’ll also experience love, get married, buy houses, get promotions, have babies, go on fantastic trips, make a million shining memories, start businesses, fight for worthy causes, get college and graduate and other degrees, reach milestones, realize dreams…the list of things that happen to people are endless. And these things will happen to us. If our circle is big enough, all these things may happen to all of us.

The thing about friendships and families is that they are really little communities. The larger we allow our friendships and sense of family to expand, the bigger our community is, and the more connected we all are. There’s nothing to hold us together anymore besides our decision to hold ourselves together. No lunchrooms or hallways or dorms…even neighborhoods, jobs, churches, families, clubs and teams can’t hold us by now, unless we decide we want them to. If we want to hold on to one another, we must do the holding. Even if it’s mainly within us, as long as it’s there.

I’m so proud of my friends for doing this recently as we pitched in to support a friend we’ve had for years, even if some of us haven’t had contact lately. Just the coming together in support means that we are holding one another. And this is going to be so important as the years go on. There are so many ways to keep up with one another, no matter how busy or far away we are in physical distance, that there are no excuses.

We have to be vigilant in love. There will come a time, for each of us, that we will be in those drastically life changing moments and  for whatever moment that is, good or bad, it’s sweeter if there is a sense of support beyond our arms reach. If there is, all around us, people who hold us in their hearts and minds and join with us to acknowledge and sweeten the bitter, to pour forth joy at our joy, to grant us the peace that it is to know there are people- flesh and blood people- that hold us, one way or another; to allow us the encouragement of mattering, the validation of our experiences mattering outside our own selves.

I fold people into my heart that may not even know they’ve been folded in, but they are. And should the time come that I think they would benefit to know, they will. I want my circle to be woven so many layers thick with hearts and hands that it will be ready to catch anything. We”are what we have, just each other. The more we hold on to of one another, the more we are held.

We have to be active in our love. We have to be sincere. We have to be honest. We have to, above all things, be willing. Willing to give and receive as needed. I see around me, so many people that may not realize how threaded they are, we are. Every new connection we make as individuals increases our possibilities for community.

No thing, no government or program or amount of money or plan or any thing will save us as much as we can save one another. No accomplishment can compare to the way it feels to have love poured over you from those you love, from those you hold, and from those you barely or don’t even know. It is our responsibility to our selves, to our families, to our friends, to participate in our community, as that community is us. Not only should we be the change we wish to see in the world, but we should also be the people we wish to see in the world.

More change can come from this awareness, this action, than can come from anything else. We are the essence of our deepest problems and our most expansive possibilities. All of us, together. This is not the first time we’ve heard this. But words are just lines and designs if they are not actions; if they are not movements; if they are not digested and used as fuel; if they are not worn across our chests and our knuckles, under our fingernails; if they are not embodied and walking the streets; then they are just things that fill the silence.

We are the things that make words mean. We are the things that make things change. We have, before us always, opportunity to hold one another, based if nothing else, but on our shared existence.

There are things we will never predict, never control, that will come in to each of our lives and change us. There are things in our life we will never be able to hold, or hold on to. And then there is us. Our community. As big as we allow it to be. We have us. We have one another.

May our lives reflect that no matter our differences, we share this -us. We invest in us, we are FOR us. Because if this is true, our differences matter very very little. If we are for us, we are, by default, not for anything that separates us, weakens us. It’s not religious or political. It’s human. We are for one another. Each person is for each other person. To support. To care. To love. It is so simple and we are so complex that I doubt we’ll ever really get it. But if we live our lives, even part of our lives, even a few solid and  sincere days of our lives, each believing this, each living this, then we will thread into our safety net that much more thread, catch that many more broken pieces, maybe even weaving into the part that one day, catches us.

Because, let’s face it: at some point or another, we’re all going down. And the more expansive and tightly woven our safety net is, the less we’ll suffer from the fall.

I’m doubting everything I said last week. Maybe there won’t be enough. There’s so much to lose. Maybe it won’t be okay (or I won’t be okay). Maybe I can’t keep moving. Maybe I will be paralyzed.  Maybe I just can’t do this again, anymore, at all. Maybe I’m a complete failure. Maybe I’ll never be able to do anything well but this, but write. Maybe I will always be broken. And I will have to eat my words, over and over. The words I write with conviction one moment, I choke on the next, realizing how hard they are to swallow. Or follow.

You have to forgive these pathetic thought patterns, today’s the first day I’ve had to break down. Jason’s out of town. I have the house to myself to freak out in and trash. Until Friday, when I have to pull it all back together. I told myself I was going to get things sorted out and settled before he gets back. But I’m worried now that I won’t (or can’t). I can’t take his anxious, explosive, dictating, impulsiveness when he has nothing to focus on or wear him out (like work). Him wanting to know about the finances so he can freak the fuck out even more. No thanks. It literally makes me sick on my stomach. There are no quick fixes to this situation. We just have to suck it up and take the consequences of our lives, our choices and our circumstances. I have kept our heads above water for so long now. Recognize that…

Anyways, pointless rant. Work is riduculous. That’s all I can say. I feel like I could cry for 2 more days straight.

I feel like as soon as I begin to grasp something, I lose grip.  With everything. There are so many facets of life to lose grip of. So many little things to fail at or forget about or never get to, never finish, never start, never follow through, never reach, never achieve, never touch, never grasp, never hold on to.

I met with someone once, at a park. When I was having a really hard time. I thought they were the arms I’d been seeking, to hold on to me. Turns out, they were just a wall to hear my voice bounce off of. That’s fine. Maybe that’s all some people get. Because unless some people are really good at faking it, some people are getting the arms. I’m afraid, for many reasons, I may not ever have that physical safety net. Maybe I’d melt into oblivion if I had it. Maybe the only thing that drives me is the aches. What would I create if I always felt that safe? What would I do? Would I still move? Maybe that would be a different kind of paralysis. Or maybe it would be a different kind of freedom. I know within me, there is everything. But I still want more. I want the arms.

I thought I’d post what I bought for Natalie as well during my bargain shopping sprees.

I’ve spent 50$ on her at Ross, Goodwill, and Family Dollar.

clothes-001These are all Goodwill purchases. 20$ total. (5 shirts, 3 tanks, 2 shorts, 1 dress)

clothes-005The clothes are Ross (24$/3 outfits, 1 dress), the shoes are Family Dollar (8$/2 pair shoes).

(I know, it’s blurry)

clothes-004These are some things she’s been given as hand me downs from her cousin, or have been bought for her by her aunt and grandmothers. She’s recieved plenty more, I just pulled a few of my faves.

With a kid, it’s harder to be a bargain shopper sometimes, because sometimes they just need certain things. And, you have to get them a complete wardrobe every season. There have been some pajamas and dresses that I have been able to keep from last spring/summer, and maybe a couple of t-shirts, but that’s about it. It’s awesome to have family to pass down clothes and who want to pick up things for her now and then, that really helps!

What also helps is not forgetting to do her laundry so I don’t have to resort to the it’s kind of ugly/doesn’t quite fit/it’s a little stained/or really old fashioned kind of clothes that you keep for them to play in, but if you run out of stuff you send them off in it and feel like the mom everyone is talking about at preschool.

So, it is late, and I have to take her to the eye dr. in the morning (and work, of course) so I’ll end this without much of an ending, except, good night!

So this post is kind of girly (of course, I am a girl) . And it has a lot of pictures. Of clothes and shoes and stuff. Just so you know…

I’m about to divulge why I feel superior to people who spend absurd amounts of money on expensive clothes. I’ll preface this by saying that I have never (okay, only for a short period of time) cared much about labels, trends (not style, but trends), or not wearing pre-owned clothes.

So, I have purchased 19 clothing/shoe/accessory items  (pictured below with 2 items that were gifts) for a total of 75$ in the past couple of months.   I never spent more than 25$ per a week while shopping, and it was usually more like 10-15 $ per week.  This involved 3 trips to Goodwill, 2 trips to Family Dollar, 1 trip each to Kmart,  Target, Old Navy, and Walmart. (Nothing was purchased at the last three listed)

Dresses, Shoes, Accessories
Left: Blue dress by Zinc. Empire waist, spaghetti strap, with slits on the side and part of the back cut out. 5$ at Goodwill. (all prices are rounded up)
Center: Black dress by Piper and Blue. Scoop neck, empire waist, tie in the back. 2$ at Kmart
Right: Black and Red dress by Jonathan Martin. Off the shoulder cap sleeves, empire waist, tie in the back. 5 $ at Goodwill
clothes-0072clothes-0021
Left: Brown, tan, cream slides with low heel by Chilis. 4$ at Goodwill Right: Black kitten heel thong by No Boundaries. With black rhinestones. 4$ at Goodwill
clothes-012s5004746
Left: Silver circle earrings. 3$ at Kmart
Right: Teal and Citrine bead necklaces. 5$ at Kmart
clothes-013Top Left: Black skirt by Gap. Knee length with scalloped trim.
4 $ at Goodwill
Bottom Left: Black skirt by Merona. Floor length with side slits.
4 $ at Goodwill
Top Right: Jean Skirt by Route 66.  Knee length. Fitted. Dark denim, distressed. 4 $ at Goodwill
Bottom Right: Black skirt by derek heart. Above the knee. Ruffled, cotton, with strawberry on top left. 4 $ at Goodwill
clothes-010Top Left: Blue t-shirt by Gap. Small pocket, top left. 4 $ at Goodwill
Center: Black top by Nick and Sarah. Scoop neck. 4 $ at Family Dollar
Bottom Left: Brown top by zoey beth. Scoop neck, keyhole back.
4 $ at Family Dollar
Top Right: Navy top by No Boundaries. Ruched neckline and sleeves. 8 $ Walmart (gift from my mom)
Bottom Right: Pink top by Duck Head Jeans. Keyhole front. Ruched on sides, at bottom. 4 $ at Goodwill
(more pics below in attempt to show detail)
clothes-006clothes-011clothes-014clothes-015
clothes-016Left: Top by zoey beth. Off shoulder. Sweetheart neckline. Empire waist. tie in back. Blue, brown and cream. 7 $ at Family Dollar
Center: Halter by Papaya clothing. Brown. 4 $ at Goodwill
Right: Top by Piper and Blue. Off shoulder, fitted, pink, gray, white, and black. 2 $ at Kmart
clothes-003s5004765
Left: Black nightgown with lace. 2 $ at Kmart ( I don’t even wear nightgowns, but this was really soft and 2 $, so now, sometimes I do, even though it’s not very “me”, at all
Right: Blue and brown flops by Crocs (gift from sis in law) around 30-40 $ at Bass Pro shops

The thing about bargain shopping is, it’s kind of addictive. Once you know you can get something you like for really cheap, you have a hard time coughing up full price. And of course, I would have never got this much paying full price, and I don’t really have much to spend, especially now that we are working on one income for the second time in as many years.

So, besides getting to do a lot of shopping without spending a lot of money, another good thing about shopping Goodwill, discount stores, and clearance racks is that you’re less likely to see a dozen other people wearing the same thing as you. You definitely have to be in a certain mind to shop like that though. You have to know the kinds of things you like and want and need, but you also have to be flexible and imaginative. And you have to be willing to look, and look, and look through racks of clearance and such.  It’s good to know what things generally cost full price, so you know if it’s really worth it to buy it this way.  It’s also good to know what you have at home, so you know what will go together (or what you don’t really need).

Obviously, I’m big on staple, classic pieces that you can mix and match, that don’t necessarily fade into oblivion the following year. I like finding things that have little details, it keeps them from being boring (and it usually makes them more flattering). Plus, you can do more with jewelry and makeup if your outfit is kind of basic (dress it up, down, to the left, to the right :P. And you can get pretty inexpensive jewelry to supplement what you already have. And the same with makeup. I like Wet n Wild’s different colored eyeliners, lip glosses, eyeshadows, and nail polishes, they’re about a 1-5$ each. I may spend 10$ on Neutrogena foundation, and 20$ on Oil of Olay Total Effects SPF moisturizer, but I don’t usually spend more than 5 $ on anything else makeup wise. (I know quality suffers a little, but it doesn’t really bother me as much as shelling out the cash does). You know what makes a difference as well? Hair and smell. I’m just saying, if your hair looks however you like it to look and you smell nice, that goes a long way.

That’s more fun to me, overall, because you can kind of match your clothes to your mood or your environment and you get to be creative and  keep reinventing outfits. And I feel like once I know I have things to throw on on a daily basis, I can look more for weekend stuff. And if I haven’t already spent a lot, I feel like I can spend more on stuff I really like and want for those items.

Because I can usually dress fairly casual for work, most of those things will work for workdays and weekends. There are still a few things I really want this season: Tops/tanks in orange, cool blue, lavender, bright green,  raspberry and one of the long hippie dresses (I hate the term Maxi dress). I could probably also use a pair of cargo khaki’s (pants or capri’s), another sundress, and I am in constant need for a new pair of black pants, as I have mended mine over and over. Also, a pair of jeans and tennis shoes wouldn’t hurt. And a new bag… But, really, with these things I just got and what I already had before this, I’m pretty set. (Well, I could use a  tan and a pedicure, and to lose 15 lbs -but that’s another story). And, it’s only April. And, I only spent 75$. (So maybe I’ll manage that pedicure…and just go outside more and use my gradual tanning lotion…and, you know, workout or something…)

Last week, my husband lost his job. Last year, he was laid off and out of work for 8 months. I’ve been sitting on words and thoughts and emotions and I know we’re not the only people here. I know what I’ve learned from last time. I know we’ll be okay. Not because that’s what people say, not because I know anything about the logistics of how we will be okay, but just because we will be. Because we always are, one way or another, it turns out that we are okay. Not just us, all of us. There’s a line in the book” The Glass Castle” by Jeanette Walls where the mom, who is homeless is talking to her daughter. The mom says “It’ll all turn out okay in the end” to which the daughter says “What if it doesn’t?” Mom’s reply? “Well then I guess it’s not the end”.

We live in a society that fears discomfort, challenge, hardship, sacrifice (that doesn’t involve a quick easy high or a lot of money), and the unexpected, but we should not let these things bring us down or hold us back. These are the very tools that can create in us and inspire from us true greatness, character, and friendship; resourcefulness and creativity. These are the things that weed out the superficial and wastefulness and make room for the things that mean the most. These are the things that create the testaments of our lives. And it is our choice as to what that testament will be.

Sometimes things come that render us motionless. Because we’re shocked, or weary, or confused, or scared, or even just too comfortable. We can’t move or don’t want to, whatever it is, we are staying still.

This works okay when you’re six and you get lost in the department store and someone is desperately looking for you, but when you’re older it doesn’t work that way. If we don’t move, we won’t get anywhere.

I got lost the other day when I was driving. I kept on driving, expecting to see a road I recognized, but I just seemed to be getting farther and farther into the fields and two lane roads with fewer and fewer roads to choose from. I got to the point where I began admitting I was lost (I rarely admit this, thinking I’ll always find my way) and this thought came “You’re not lost, you’re somewhere new”. Sometimes just putting new words with a situation makes it a little more bearable or less frightening. My gas light came on at this time, and I heard in my head, these words: you’ll have enough, you’ll be fine.

As I made my way, I thought about how now I know these road names, now I’ve been down these paths, now I am not lost here, I have been here before and should I end up here again, I will have a better idea about how to navigate this area. The more new places we end up, the less foreign places there are to us, and the more we move, the more places we go.

It’s okay to be somewhere new. It’s okay to not know what to do next, to take the long, hilly route. We are all on our own journeys, though we share roads and cross paths, there is no one to beat or keep up with, living is not a race with the living. If it is any kind of race, it is a race against death, to live all we can while we are alive, so that when death comes, our lives keep on without our bodies.

All roads lead somewhere. Somewhere new. Or somewhere familiar. It’s okay to end up either place. It’s okay to make mistakes along the way, even if they’re the same mistakes you’ve made before, the same accidental turn. Because experience counts for everything. As long as we use our experiences to enrich our lives, the lives of others, whatever those experiences are, it’s okay. Just do something with it, learn or laugh, or make someone else laugh, or send out a warning, just do something with it and it’s not a waste, it’s not a problem, it’s just an opportunity to be okay with being human.

We can’t view ourselves through the eyes of others or the eyes of the world around us. We have to develop an internal vision of ourselves and our lives that goes beyond the little picture of our day to day and beyond the rules of the world we physically inhabit, a vision that carries us through, that lends us strength and comfort and acceptance and love; unconditionally. So that we can keep on, so that we are fueled for the journey, so that we can, along the way, offer goodness to the people that we encounter.

It’s okay to do whatever you do or be where ever you are. The trick is, to not be subdued into motionlessness. To not be too scared or too comfortable. We don’t have to have a destination in mind, a mapped route, we just have to move. And if we move, we will get somewhere. And wherever that is, we will be okay. We will have enough fuel for the journey. (This may mean that when we run out of fuel we have reached a place we need to be, even if it’s just until we refuel).

And if we decide we don’t want to, or can’t be where we are anymore, we can just move.

Passion inspires passion, my friend, Caleb wrote. We find what we seek. At our best, we are called to action by the action of others. And at our worst, we  feel the need to criticize the action of others while safe in our little cocoon of inaction.

We have in our lives the things we have allowed, or made room for, or demanded, or accepted. We have ultimate control of our internal selves and none over everything else. We have influence, yes, we make a difference, of course. We can move and shape things with our words and actions and attitudes, but we can’t control the reactions of others to our words or actions or attitudes. We can’t predict with accuracy what the outcomes will be. No matter the formula we use. No matter the logic we implore. The unknown, the unpredictable, that’s the adventure. What will happen? What will we do? We are fed the idea that we should have things all worked out, all figured out. That we should strive to be a certain way. That we should design and follow a plan, a million little plans to make our lives just right, to be prepared and responsible. But it looks to me as if we are spoiled and scared and lazy. We want the easy way, we want the best way, we want the safest way, we want the most we can get for the least that we have to offer. We want to see results, not just in our lifetime, within the week, within the moment. We pretend we see beyond our lives because we give to a charity or watch the discovery channel.

We are told that we have control over things we don’t and then told we do not have control over the things we do. We can not fully control our finances or our health or our relationships, but we are sold things non-stop convincing us that we can and that this is the only way we can have the elusive happiness, peace, fulfillment, joy, love, etc that we want. But it’s the other way around. We can have all the intangibles; they are ours for the having. It’s the tangible things that are out of our full control. It’s a silly circle to run. A dog chasing it’s tail.

Where is the action? Where is the passion? Where is the real risk, the real investment? Where are the dirty hands, involved hearts? Where is the moving meaning of our existences?

People risk anything for a quick high, for the promise of money or popularity or an easier route, for a good time that you may or may not remember where you may or may not have done something hurtful to yourself or someone else. People sacrifice for their own advancement, for band aids and anesthetics that do nothing to improve the ailments, but only let us set them aside for a while, only to pick them up again later. But for the big picture? For the long run? For something that doesn’t directly affect us? It’s not the norm. It’s not that it’s not happening, it’s just not happening as much as the rest.

Instead of planning our lives, why aren’t we seeking our direction, fine tuning our internal compasses? Instead of safeguarding ourselves, why aren’t we supporting one another? Instead of being alive, why aren’t we living? Instead of debating religion and theology, why aren’t we worshipping and nourished by what we believe? Instead of building boxes, why aren’t we tearing down walls? Instead of relegating ourselves to little predetermined definitions and standards, why aren’t we looking of our own answers?

The less you need of the world you live in, the more you are seen as a danger to it. That’s why we’re fed our dreams instead of encouraged to indulge the depths of our souls. That’s why we’re handed formulas and equations. What would it be like if we were all just believing, just seeking, just loving, just moving as we are moved, just communing with one another, with our world, with our God? That’s obviously idealistic, utopian minded, unattainable… right?

We can’t trust people enough to follow through like this all at once, all together. It’s not that I don’t think we have the capability, it’s just we’ll never all be on the same page like that. So we have to regimen people, one another. We have to have structure. Even the most basic societies have structure. So, I understand this. It’s just, we can’t accept everything we’re handed without examination. It’s so dangerous to never question what we’re told, what we’re expected, what we’re used to.

I used to think I could change the world just because I wanted to. I believed that love and faith and passion were enough. I believed that people could be more than what they are, that it was not out of reach to say we could live peacefully. Because, it’s not. If everyone wanted to, we could. And that’s how I saw it. But then I realized that you can’t change people. People will think what they want and do what they want and will continuously make poor decisions, and will mainly look out for themselves. People will take the spoon fed truths. People will shut their eyes in anger and rally against any thing that gets in their way of being right and angry. Generally, as a whole, that’s what we do. People are sitting on hurts and injustices and anger and disillusionment and desires and are unpredictable.

So then I decided it hurt too much to care about all the injustice and sadness in the world if I couldn’t do anything about it. But I quickly realized that not believing anything could be done hurt more than hurting for the world.

So, I circled back, knowing this: I can not change people. I do not expect to visibly and notably change the world out of sheer love for the people that inhabit it and sheer belief that people are better and have more in them than they are utilizing. But I do believe that every thing I do to be a better person means that I will treat others with more care, more sincerity, more empathy. And I can help people who are seeking help, I can give without knowing what, if anything I will receive, I can seek out ways to overcome my prejudices and fears so that I can move forward, I can speak possibility, faith, and love into my life, into my families lives, into my friend’s lives, and into the lives of anyone I encounter, I can learn from my mistakes and failures, I can push through sadness and anger and I can use every thing I experience to help me to be more compassionate and understanding. I can utilize my energy to move and create good things.

And we are all connected, so every little thing does change something, I can change the world, I am changing the world. We are all changing the world. Every moment of living and every breath we take does change the world; it is up to us every moment and every breath to determine in what ways we are changing it.