Sunday, December 30, 2012

Detour No More

Rock Hound State Park, NM
There comes a time when it's time to stop and ponder where you are in life, and where you are going.  For the past few days, I've been taking a look at where I've been over the last year, where I am now, and where I'd like to be next year when it comes to a close.

With a heavy heart, I've decided it's time for me to give up my illusion my current track is a detour.  I've been following it for the better part of a year.  Somewhere along the way it's changed from a detour into the new road I am to follow for at least the next few years.

It is not a path devoid of beauty, love and joy.  It's just not the one I wanted to be on.  But it does me no good to keep wishing I had been able to finish my trip.  It ain't gonna happen.  The money I had budgeted for the road has gone to keeping me alive and resetting up house.  Yes, I will still be able to take a month each year to continue my camper van travels, but I will need to count the days I spend traveling.  Real life wins.

I have a good spot for my camper to stay, but it sits in the sun.  To protect it, a friend bought me a cover, which arrived last week; Joe helped me to put it on.  It covers the van quite snugly, down to about six inches from the ground, and has a side zipper so you can get into the van without having to take the cover off.  At first I thought it symbolized the shuttering of my dream, putting it under wraps, calling it done, but then I had another thought.  Perhaps, along with the van, the cover also protects the remnants of my dream - keeping it from drying up, cracking and fading completely away in the harsh light of the sun.

A day will come when I am free again.  It will.  And when it does, I will take the cover off my dream, reshape it to fit where I am when the day comes, and drive off once again to see beautiful places.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

We Can't Protect Them

The topic I had planned for today, a meandering description of my frustrations and joys this past week, seems meaningless today in light of the shootings in Connecticut.

The gunman touched on my deepest fear; on the deepest fear of many - we cannot protect them.

We bring our children into this world.  They are beautiful, they are perfect.  They are our most precious treasure.  We want to keep them safe from all harm.

The harsh reality is that we can't do it.  They dart in and put their little hands on hot lawnmower mufflers when we are watching from just a few feet away.  They get hit in the head with baseball bats during schoolyard ballgames.  After they are hurt, we have to patch up their wounds as best we can, and send them back out in the world - where we can't protect them from getting hurt again.  Locking them in the house to keep them safe just isn't one of the options, though I've wished it was, and only regretfully acknowledge that it wouldn't work.  As a wise woman once told me, "Life is risk."

The shootings this week highlight our vulnerability.  Locks and cameras couldn't keep out one deranged young man, determined to hurt our treasures. 

I want to scream to the Universe, "Why?", but know there will be no answer.  With the rest of the country, I cry when I read the list of names, see the innocent faces.  I am angry, without a target for my anger.  The villain got off too easily, shooting himself so he wouldn't have to deal with the consequences of his actions.

If God cares at all, there is justice for him.  To me, that justice would be having to face the full realization of the harm he did as he left this world.

For the innocents, and those who died trying to protect them, I know they are in better hands than ours.  We couldn't keep them safe, but God will.  God will watch over them until their families and the rest of those who love them join them in the only safe place there is.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

My Bed

Omaha Zoo, Oct. 2012
I have to admit, I LOVE my bed.

I know.  It sounds silly.  But it's true.

I love that the mattress is not too hard, nor too soft, but just right.  And, it doesn't have any lumps.  I know I won't wake up with a crick in my back from it being too soft, nor will my hips be talking to me in the morning because it was too hard.

I love that my pillows are not lumpy, nor hard, but rather are soft and fluffy and gently cradle my head as I lie down to rest.

I love that I have all the covers I need, and they don't have any holes in them.  My sheets are soft and clean, the quilt is warm.  If I need it, there is an extra blanket down at the end of the bed; I just need to reach down and pull it up if I am cold in the night.

I love climbing into it at the end of a long day, and snuggling down into my sheets and pulling the covers up to my chin.  There are no prickles, no hard edges, just soft and welcoming warmth.

I love that I don't have to share it with many-legged creatures who like midnight snacks.

On the nights I am really tired, all I have to do is lie down, warm up just a bit, and let sleep overtake me like a wave, carrying me off until morning.  It's a beautiful thing. 

I wallow in the luxury of it all - and am acutely aware that the same is not true for most of the other people in the world.  I remember the lumpy foam we slept on in Honduras - and they gave us the best they had.  In the hotel we stayed at in Guatemala, the mattresses were hard and unyielding.  I once saw a photo that haunts me still - of a young boy in Africa, asleep on the ground, with nothing but a plastic sheet between his little body and the dirt.

There is a group in Kansas City that gives mattresses to families who don't have enough beds.  Last time I replaced my mattress, they took the old one, and gladly.  It was in much better shape than most of the ones the children were currently sleeping on.

God, help me to be aware of my blessings, both big and small.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

30 Reasons Why Failure is Good

The weight of past mistakes has been weighing on me this past week.  Many, many moons ago, I had the notion I had to be perfect before anyone would love me.  In response to this misguided idea, a wise counselor had me write up a list of reasons why failure is good.

As I was brow-beating myself yesterday, the memory of the list came to mind, so I went and dug it up.  Reading it helped me to get past the past, and anchor myself again in today.  I rather like the list, (if I do say so myself), so thought I'd share:

30 Reasons Why Failure is Good

  1. It gives you a reason to inspect the toes of your shoes.
  2. It can teach you one, or several, of life's little lessons.
  3. You know one more way not to do it.  a.k.a. 'experience'
  4. You can be an example for other people's children.  i.e. "If you keep this up, you'll end up just like ____, who did it when she was young."
  5. It shows you your limitations; you can't succeed at everything.
  6. You learn that even big mistakes don't mean the end of the world.
  7. You learn that the world doesn't revolve around you.
  8. It makes other people feel smug, because they have a reason to say "I told you so".
  9. You can rub it in the faces of those who jeered when you later succeed (and be smug yourself).
  10. Sometimes, it proves that people will love you, even if you're wrong.
  11. It stretches the mind; you have to think of new ways to accomplish your goals.
  12. It teaches humility.
  13. Sometimes, it helps you to re-order your life's priorities.
  14. It teaches you to handle frustration and control your anger, if handled correctly.
  15. It teaches you patience.
  16. It gives you a chance to face disappointment without becoming bitter; to become mature.
  17. The way you act when the chips are down will show you what you're made of.
  18. You learn who your friends are.
  19. You learn who your enemies are.
  20. You know that at least you tried.
  21. You learn what your fears are.
  22. It brings you back to earth.
  23. It opens doors you might otherwise have missed.
  24. It changes your perspective; forces you to look at things from another angle.
  25. It satisfies your curiosity; you know what happens if you do it 'this' way.
  26. It can teach you compassion, for you, too, have walked a dead-end path.
  27. You learn you can make it through places you never thought you could.
  28. You learn not to let one mistake color your whole world.  To figure out what went wrong, don't do that again, and go on.
  29. You learn you can't hide from your failures forever.  That eventually, you have to come up for air.
  30. You learn that a failure in one minute doesn't mean you won't succeed in the next.