Monday, September 24, 2012

loafin' around

In case you haven't heard, loafers are in this fall.  And that's especially good news for me, because I already had a pair.  Honestly I can't remember when I bought them, but it's been years ago, most likely when they were in once upon a time way back in the past.  IMO, they never really go out, because they're a classic.  And I like classics.

A truly classic Audrey Hepburn wearing loafers.  And a turtleneck, which is also apparently very fashionable this season.
My loafers could use a bit of shoe polish, and I'll be getting to that soon.  Most likely after I fold some laundry and research as to whether we'll get the new season of Downton Abbey on our local PBS channel.

Since it's only September, I'd probably still be wearing sandals if it wasn't for my feet.  My left foot especially has been in pain nearly the entire summer.  Part of it's due to running, I'm sure, and a case of plantar fasciitis.  The other issue is my wearing of flip-flops and other non-supportive shoes.  But I've pledged to stop this irrational behavior and wear better shoes.  Mainly so I'll stop limping around.  And because I really like to walk whenever I can.  I'm a big fan of walking.

Speaking of shoes, I recently read a passage in Passport Through Darkness that was illuminating.  The author, Kimberly Smith, while working in Africa, gave her shoes to a native woman.

Our eyes locked, and immediately I loved this woman.  The woman who I could've been.  The woman who could've been me.  The woman who certainly suffered hunger, war, rape, death of husband and children, simply because of the color of her skin, the spot on the planet she happened to fill, and the fact that she was a woman.

She pointed to my boots.  Unsure as to why, I put my hands out in a confused gesture.  Continuing to smile, she bent down and pulled gently at my boot strings.  She wanted my boots.

 
Kimberly Smith



Kimberly [looking fashionable, yet not wearing loafers] with her husband
I want to be a shoe giving kind of woman.  But here's the thing:  A little later in Passport Through Darkness, Kimberly watched as a group of male soldiers loaded the plane she was about to board.  The group, whom Kimberly and her fellow travelers called the "Flip-Flop Patrol" because of the shoes they wore, were all wearing their normal shoes, except one.  One soldier was wearing the pair of shoes Kimberly had given the African woman.

As I wrestled with what to do, it occurred to me that this man could be the woman's husband, or maybe she bartered with the boots for food for her family.  In the end, I would never know.  I'd done what I did in an act extending myself.  I chose an act of faith and love.  I decided to leave it at that.

Gosh, if that's not a hard thing.  To leave it at that.  If you've worked with poor and homeless and people who need a lot of help for very long, you've most likely been taught there are rules you need to follow.  Don't give them _________.  Don't allow _________ to happen.  Be careful about _______.  There are workshops and trainings and even degrees offered on how to help people.  But doesn't it all come down to:  Choosing an act of faith and love?

I seriously doubt anyone I'll come across anytime soon will want or need my loafers. Yet I hope I hope I'm ready if they do.














Friday, September 21, 2012

it's.in.the.bag

I have a rather small journal in which I log writing ideas.  That way, if a thought hits me, I'm prepared to record it.  Well, my bag is currently so large and so full of crapola, that yesterday, I couldn't locate the mini journal inside it.  I decided I can't tolerate it anymore.  I absolutely must clean out the bag.  Besides, it's time to move from the summer bag to the fall.

These are some of the items I've come across when I've taken the time to clean out the bag:
  • a bag of tortilla chips
  • dirty dishes [leftover containers from lunch]
  • my Kindle
  • my iTouch  that hasn't been charged in a month
  • a Centre College open house invitation addressed to my son
  • a partially eaten Pound Plus Trader Joe's dark chocolate bar
  • chords for every piece of technology I own
  • a page from the Lexington Herald Leader [now a couple weeks old]
  • a Michael's store ad, in which I've already used the coupon, rendering the ad useless unless I need to start a fire
  • a bag of trail mix with only peanuts and raisins left 
  • a full size purse [yes, inside my other bag]
  • a grocery bag [you know, the kind used so you don't waste a plastic?]
  • a Galaxy tablet [provided by my workplace; yet to be used for work]
  • jewelry supplies purchased at Michael's 
  • hair accessories
  • a bottle of Aleve I enjoy selling at $1/pill [not really, but they are the strongest OTC med I've come across and I love them when I need them]
  • a regular size journal I prefer to keep in my bag [different from the mini]
  • assorted pens, lip glosses, feminine hygiene products and granola bar crumbs
My bag can be heavy and can actually make my shoulder hurt.  It can be quite awkward and cause me, at 5'1, to be off balance.  Sometimes I'd like to just chuck it into the river.  But......there's no river in my city.  So I keep carrying it.

I long to be one of those people who carries a tiny little bag that loops around the arm.  Like one of those wallet on a string sort of things. But alas, I realize I can't carry my Pound Plus of dark chocolate in a wallet.  Nor a Kindle or journal or grocery bag.  Any of which I just might need.

Carrying a heavy burden brings these verses to mind:

  Matthew 11:28-30

Here it is in The Message (MSG):
28-30 “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”

Isn't that really cool?  Learn the unforced rhythms of grace.  I would describe my {rhythms of grace} as fairly forced.

It's hard to accept the "I won't lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you," though.  Right now I can think of a few situations I'm in that I could describe as ill-fitting.  Maybe that's just my interpretation.  And it's difficult to discern who laid them on me.  There are consequences and results of behavior.  Then there are things that happen; things we didn't choose.  I mean, gosh, Jesus is the one who told the disciples to go into all the world........That's heavy.  He had dinner with them one night, died the next day, all the while asking that they be of good cheer.  That's heavy.  So, while Jesus is beautiful and sweet and friendly, it's sometimes hard to imagine how [light] He is.  But maybe I'm living it wrong.  Maybe I make it hard. Maybe I just need to start at the beginning of the passage.

And just keep trying.  I think as a symbolic gesture, I will actually begin making myself carry a smaller bag.  I'm going to go into my closet {my fav hiding spot}, clean out my big bag, ceremoniously throw away the trash and throw up a few prayers, and start Autumn {which begins tomorrow} off without a heavy load.  Sounds easy, right?

I've got a reminder song, though, to keep me in line and help me live in the unforced rhythm of grace.






Thursday, September 20, 2012

just.a.phase?

My husband recently said I'm in a "museum phase".  What he means by that is I'm currently fascinated with art and museums and art heists and paintings stolen by the Nazis in the 1940s and people who buy pictures at flee markets because they like the frame the picture is in, only to have the picture appraised and find out it's a Renoir.

Can you honestly think of much more exciting than that?  Thinking you've got a frame worth 30 bucks, only to find the painting it's holding is worth thousands?  And I have to say, if I ran into that issue, I absolutely could not sell the painting.  Because I'm in a museum phase.

The truth is I do follow the Guggenheim on twitter as well as the Cincinnati Art Museum.  My daughter spent part of her birthday at the latter this summer.  It's free.  As in no charge.  And they have some pretty decent stuff there.

Cincinnati Art Museum
If I recall correctly, my husband said the "museum phase" comment while I was looking at Architectural Digest magazine.  Which I do like to look at periodically.  Because it's a periodical.  [a bit of library humor there]

Anyway.......I believe working at an art museum would be a lot of fun.  And interesting.  I remember the art history class I took in college.  I actually enjoyed it. I've always wanted to be a good artist.  Like as in able to draw or paint at a whim and it look nice.  And I've always enjoyed making things; crafty things like jewelry and greeting cards and wreaths.

For quite some time, I think I tried to suppress that part of me, at least partially.  I told myself it was much more important to spend my time [doing good] and [helping others] than creating pretty things [or, my interpretation of pretty things].  So, I placed some guilt on my conscious, and maybe even tried to be a version of myself I'm not.  

But lately I've come to realize it's okay to be crafty.  It's okay to create.  It's even okay if the only person who likes what I create is me.  And it's also okay if I'm able to sell some of my creations at The Bazzaar or on Etsy or someplace else.  It doesn't mean I'm into stuff that doesn't matter.

I've liked Psalm 90:17 for some time.  A few years back I framed it along with some local postcards [yes, I was being artsy].  But I came across a different version of the scripture this week:

 May the graciousness of the Lord our God be upon us: prosper the work of our hands; prosper our handiwork.
Prosper our handiwork.  I like that.   It's like a little confirmation from God that what I design.craft.create can be a blessing.

I'm ├╝ber [can I get away with using that word?] excited that this Friday night is Gallery Hop here in our city.  My husband and I are going. So, I'll be mostly surrounded by folks who are also either in a museum phase, or are permanently immersed in artsi-ness.  [yay!]

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

where.the.wind

My mother emailed today and told me a movie is being filmed in their Oklahoma town.  It is based on the play, August: Osage County.  I decided to read the play, and have reserved it at the library.

Interestingly, I've recently thought a book based on my great grandmother's life would make for an exciting read.  She was born in 1904 Oklahoma, when it was still Indian Territory. She was married at 16.  She was 1/2 Delaware Indian + 1/2 Caucasian [mainly German].  That's quite a combo.

I entered an essay about her in a contest, Women of Valor.  Unfortunately, Granny and I did not win.  I have decided to post the essay on my blog anyway, calling today [we.can.all.be.winners.day], because, hey, it's my blog.  So, here's to people from the land of   Cowboys and Indians and Oil and Lots of Wind.......

Lena Mae Ketchum Slocter, Woman of Valor

A yearly childhood highlight for my sister and I was our family’s annual trek from our hometown of Yuma, Arizona, to Phoenix each summer.  In early June, our great grandmother would fly from Tulsa to Sky Harbor International Airport where we’d pick her up for a four week visit.  The three hour drive to Phoenix was marked with excitement, as we planned visits to the big city restaurants, maybe a mall, and exploring the vast (to us) Sky Harbor.  In the 1970s, you could wait for your arriving family members at the gate, and we joyfully watched for Granny to walk into the airport.  I can still remember her voice, and the way she said “you-uns” instead of “you guys” or “ya’ll”.  My sister and I loved the month she spent with us, playing Crazy 8s, teaching us to make beaded necklaces, and watching Richard Simmons.

My great grandmother, Lena Mae Ketchum Slocter, was born in 1904.  She lived her entire life in one county in Oklahoma, close to the center of our country.  Her paternal grandfather’s name was Ta We Lah Len and he was a full blooded Delaware Indian.  Her mother, Hattie Pitsenbarger, was a descendant of Abraham Pitsenbarger, a German immigrant who fought in the Revolutionary War.  Her father, John Redman Ketchum, was a full blooded Native American.  All of this is interesting to me, not just because it’s a part of my history, but because Lena Mae’s make-up was fairly diverse, at a time when diversity most likely wasn’t touted like it is today.

Lena Mae married at 16, and became a grandmother at 35.  I was her first great grandchild, born five days after she turned sixty-four.   She was a strong influence in my father’s raising, as his mother was a single mom for ten plus years, at again, a time when single mothering wasn’t the norm.  Lena Mae was widowed when she was sixty-two, and lived nearly thirty years after my great grandfather passed. 

In my mind, female independence is a modern concept, something that came about in the 1960s in a generation of career minded, success focused women.   By the time the 60s rolled in, my great grandmother had already faced so much that required self-reliance or failure.  There wasn’t really a choice for her.  She’d lost a child when he was two years old.  She’d sent a son to war and another overseas to a dangerous career, supported a daughter through a failed marriage, and helped to raise not only her own children, but grandchildren, nephews and nieces and friends’ children.  She opened her home to those who needed shelter.  She befriended other women who needed support.  And she faithfully attended a country church.

Lena Mae influenced me to take up jewelry making, showing me how to bead.  She wholeheartedly supported my piano playing in church, even insisting that I play offertories at her church when our family visited.  She was faithful to write back if I sent her a letter, and for a woman born in Oklahoma before it was granted statehood, traveled around the country fairly uninhibited. 

Lena Mae was a woman of valor.  She never worked a job outside the home, but she trained up many children, enabling them to do so.  My mother inherited a grandma via marriage and my great grandma passed wisdom down to her, not in a begrudging way, but as a supportive, older woman, who wanted our family to succeed.  Thankfully, my mom loved her and gleaned from the support. 

Lena Mae was fun as well as fun loving.  She definitely didn’t become a crotchety old lady.  I wish she could have met my children.  I wish they could have known her.  She would have loved going to their sporting events and music concerts.  I think she’d be proud of where my life has taken me, even if I don’t attend a Baptist church, like the one she faithfully attended year after year after year.

Proverbs 31 states, “She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.  She looks well to the ways of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness.  Her children rise up and call her blessed.”  What a beautiful description of my precious great grandmother. 

Thursday, September 13, 2012

sardonically [safe]


I prepared a blog post earlier this week and ended up accidentally deleting it.  After much time trying to recover it, I realized it is in a realm of cyber space I cannot enter.  At least without ample assistance. 

I've kept the same title, but revamped what I originally wrote.  It wasn't that great anyway.  And my memory isn't that great either.  So, on I go.........

I'm often glad my son doesn't play football.  Not because I'm against football.  I'm not.  I grew up in the home of a coach and I'm alright with sports. But I've seen kids taken off the field in ambulances.  I've witnessed the heartache when an injury changes one's future:  scholarships gone, money gone, life changed.  On the other side, I realize the advantages to a boy playing.  The work effort instilled.  The camaraderie of being on a team.  And sure, I agree. 

But football is not the path my son has taken.  Sure, he played pee-wee as a child, along with baseball and soccer and basketball.  I have lovely athletic memories as a sideline parent.  Yet he emerged into adolescence as a musician.  And he's about to head to college to prepare to be a professional in the field of music.

Aside from carpal tunnel and the likelihood of arthritis in one's golden years, there isn't a huge physical risk in being a guitarist, percussionist and pianist.  I suppose one could drop an amp on one's foot or experience hearing loss after too many hours playing the snare drum.  But I've yet to hear of a musician being sidelined due to being tackled.

This week a realization hit me, though.  The life of a musician is not a safe path.  Many.many.many artists are plagued by mental issues.  I'm not sure why.  I have my theories and I could research it extensively and sometime I might.  We've all heard the stories.  The ups and downs of the creative mind.  The angst.  The passion.  Often the substance abuse. 

Two things bring this issue to mind this week:
  • It's National Suicide Prevention Week.  I'm overcome by how many people suffer from mental illness.  And I'm overcome by how society judges those who suffer in this way.
  • With a bit of internet research, I've come to understand a guy I attended high school with most likely killed himself.  It happened this summer.  He wasn't someone I was ever close to.  Yet he was a musician, so it hits home.  And once upon a time he sat near me in civics class. 
I've done a lot to protect my son over the years.  The things a mother is supposed to.  Seat belts, doctor check ups, healthy meals.  Yet, I wonder, as he's headed down the road of artistic hopefulness, if I've instilled in him how to care for himself if darkness permeates his mind.  Or if he has doubts beyond reason.  Or if he just can't get out of a slump.  He can cook and does well handling money.  But does he know how to deal with complete aloneness or loneliness or fear?

I've at times been an actress.  Not on a stage but in life.  I've pretended that all was well and acted a role.  Will he learn to do that too?  Does he already?  When he's away at college, how will I know he's really, truly alright?

I've prayed for years for my family's safety. That God would protect us from accidents and diseases and violence at school.  But I've failed to pray for mental stability until very recently.  I've failed to pray protection for the illnesses that plague the mind.  And lately I've come to realize that despite our best intentions and our belief in an all powerful God, these ailments are as real as cancer and heart attacks.  And sometimes people do really odd and peculiar things, not because they want to, but because something is not quite right upstairs. 

Yes, I have a daughter also.  Please know I have concerns about her well being too.  It's just that the news of a once handsome, talented, well dressed and well liked boy who played the drums being gone too soon can set the mom of a handsome, talented, well dressed and well liked boy who plays the drums a bit on edge.  I am not immune.