How Do You Vote?

I’m not stirring the pot of the heated election of 2016. I mean in your life, in your relationships, how do you vote?

Do you vote with your presence… or your absence? In a world filled with distractions, it can be tempting to eschew the company of a loved one for another trip down the Reddit feed or a Snapchat conversation with a friend. I have had many car trips with teenagers glued to their phones, and the longstanding rule of no technology at the table is continuously broken. Each look down instead of up is a choice for and against, and each vote is counted as a tally mark on the heart.

What role does work play in your life? A job is a necessity, but it can become a mission, another separate world complete with its own gravity, populated with its own citizens that speak a completely different language. Family becomes a distant blip on the horizon, a destination that becomes harder and harder to reach.

Do you take the time to visit loved ones, or do distances that are short on the map become insurmountable, as hard to reach as if they were on the other side of the world? It is said, where there’s a will, there’s a way, so the converse must be true as well.

Do you vote with your presence or your absence?


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Do you vote with words of kindness or of criticism? Do your words uplift or devastate? Negative words are like acid, drop by drop tearing down even the strongest foundation. Kindness is a glue that binds and builds not walls, but webs, scaffolds of strength that hold us all up and unite us. After a long day at work or school, are your words measured and thoughtful or impatient and rude?

Your words are your vote toward what you value. Do you vote with kindness or criticism?


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Do you vote with your dependability or do you frequently betray trust? Can your partner, your parent, your friend, or your child depend on you to catch them when they fall or do you constantly rock the boat just as soon as they stand? Where do your loyalties lie? Is impressing the masses more important than holding tight to those in the inner circle? In life it’s good to know who’s got your back. Trust is the foundation of love, and without it, love falls apart.


Photo credit: birgerking via Small Kitchen / CC BY

So, in the relationships of life, how do you vote?

 

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Hero’s Journey

No dwarves are knocking on my door –
No secret invitation.
I have no wizard on my side
To lead my life evasion.


Photo credit: Cat Burton via Foter.com / CC BY-NC-ND

My laptop screen is black as night
No blips to wake me up,
No hands outstretched with blue or red
To show the great set-up.


Photo credit: Wendelin Jacober via Foter.com / CC BY

I have no skills at hunting game
That might secure my future
And that of all humanity
Awakening from its stupor.


Photo credit: KendraMillerPhotography via Chairs Hunt / CC BY-ND

My planet with its one sole moon
Is not in any danger;
My roomba doesn’t grace me with
A message from a stranger.


Photo credit: Tom Simpson via ChairsHunt / CC BY-NC-ND

My muggle life is staunchly set,
No secret wizard skill.
No great, vile villain threatens
To pry me from my will.


Photo credit: Peter G Trimming via Source / CC BY

My simple life is all there is,
No hanging on precariously;
Through screen and print I’ll have to live
My hero’s quest vicariously.

 

 

Echo Chamber

This empty nest thing is for the birds. (Pun intended.) I feel like I should enjoy this silence after years of rambunctious kids and their singing and shouting, TV blaring cartoons through the house, dancing, laughter and fighting. Now  the house is just so quiet.

On a good note, I’m getting more proficient at self-talk. I can almost carry on a whole conversation with myself while walking through the grocery store. I’m not the only one afflicted. I saw a friend in the chip aisle the other day. We were both stocking up for graduation parties. I saw her before she saw me, and didn’t recognize anyone around us she might have been talking to. I approached her and laughingly asked if she was talking to herself. She nodded semi-sheepishly. I think we’ve both come to terms with a certain amount of crazy.

They say you should live long enough to embarrass your kids. I have, but they’re not around enough to be embarrassed.

I get it. Kids need their space. My head knows this. I’ve been an independent young person aching to stretch my wings. I lived through the days of no cell phones and probably didn’t call my mom as much as I should have. (Mom, I’m sorry I put you through this.) My head is on board. My heart, however, feels like it’s being ripped out of my chest and trampled on the ground in front of me. (Okay, only slightly dramatic.)

The thing is, I saw my mom starting to teeter with empty nest syndrome, but I was the eldest and didn’t take much time to look back over my shoulder. She coped by adopting a whole new family’s worth of kids, thereby extending her motherhood years by another eighteen. I was not willing to go that route. I looked forward to the day Mr. A and I could spend some quality time together sans kids. The appeal of a $30 dinner bill loomed in the near future. We could go out to eat 3 or 4 times for what it cost to take the family, all of whom are lovers of strawberry lemonade (at $4.00 a pop). We could go to the beach on a whim and not hear anyone complain about the cold or try to figure out an activity that everyone wanted to do. We could watch documentaries without eye rolls. Yet here I am, longing for those days, for the structure of the family web and the love and support we provide each other.

Determined not to be that parent frantically trying to hold onto my kids as they perched precariously at the edge of adulthood, I went back to school and finished up my teaching degree. I wanted a life, something to fall back on after motherhood, an airbag to fill the space left by my fledglings. The thing is, motherhood doesn’t end. Those babies whose first steps you worry about become preschoolers who learn to ride bikes and teenagers who start to drive and develop relationships and head off to college, and you never stop worrying about them. It’s a mentally exhausting job. My life is inextricably intertwined with those of my kids, bonds I’m sure they’re only too eager to hack at with the machete of youth.

I know they’re busy. I was too, at their age. The days go by and my phone doesn’t ring. Texts go unanswered, and then all of a sudden they are there, cheery and wanting to talk, and for a moment, life goes back to the way it used to be. Too soon the conversation ends, and I’m surrounded by silence once more. I’ll be glad to one day reach a state of equilibrium.

In the meantime, won’t you join me in crying over this clip from Toy Story? I’m certain the song was written by an empty-nester.

Cowardly Dog

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Roxie

My dog is a coward.

It’s a trait not normally associated with dogs. There are no movies, to my knowledge, about cowardly dogs. Instead, these animals, touted as man’s best friend, are supposed to go to the ends of the earth for you. They are our guardians, barking ferociously at intruders no matter how diminutive they may be or how likely they are to smother them with doggy kisses when they actually meet. They are supposed to take on a cougar or a bear to defend us. Lassie went to the end of the earth for Timmy. Toto, small though he was, never let Dorothy down. And then there’s Old Yeller, who paid the ultimate price for his devotion. These brave and loyal companions are the epitome of what we love in a dog.

My dog doesn’t have these traits.

She is no spring pup. She’s well into her third year on earth and has been with us since we rescued her from her bouncy, hyper litter of thirteen. We are no strangers to each other. There’s no doubt she loves me, and not merely as the provider of food. She gets excited when she sees me, jumping and dropping sticks, balls, and frisbees at my feet. She comes when called and is eager to please.

It’s just that she expects me to protect her.

If she happens to be inside when someone knocks, she runs behind my legs, then stays in the other room while I go to check it out. When the other dogs bark, she will turn tail and run to the back door at breakneck speed. Most recently, when the fireworks were going off on the Fourth of July, we were walking through the semi-dark to get another log for the fire pit. The neighbors lit off a mortar, and she took off running, leaving me to face the danger alone.

At least she was safe.

My daughter recently made a list of the things this dog is afraid of. It includes a hula-hoop and pillows. Yes, you read that right – pillows. We have Christmas pillows that come out once a year. They are feather pillows, red and white, and whenever we even pick these pillows up, she runs to the other end of the house and hides. I don’t know where the fear of the hula-hoop came from, but unless she can conquer it, I fear she will never become a circus dog. The most recent addition to the list is the lid to the new fire pit. Whenever we pick it up to add a log (and admittedly play along with her fear by staring at her through the mesh), she looks on in terror and takes off across the yard. She has barked at me from upwind, only to sheepishly realize her mistake and beg forgiveness by grovelling at my feet. Whoever equated spinelessness with cowardice had my writhing mass of submission in mind. Does anyone have the number of a good doggie therapist?

Cowardice is defined as the shameful lack of courage in the face of danger.

My dog is a coward.

I guess I’m on my own.

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On the lookout for bikes.

 

 

 

Tempest


Photo credit: Striking Photography by Bo Insogna via Source / CC BY-NC-ND

Morning beckons
In a swirling dance of warm and cool air,
A tease of comfort,
Through the promise of fickle heat
That seeks to destroy.

Hardened against the ravages,
Life braces for the inevitable,
Its hard coating of protection,
Impenetrable
Except to the most persistent.

Stifling heat soon envelopes all,
Sucking precious moisture,
Taking without asking,
Imperial,
Dictatorial,
Yet life refuses to submit.

Angry storm clouds brew,
Roiling on the desert horizon,
Lightning flashing
Under dark-lidded skies,
As life holds her breath.

Glowering clouds
Hurl gusts of angry wind,
Buffeting blasts that send life scurrying,
Hiding,
Embracing hardness
To survive.

Finally, oppressive heat concedes
And the rains come,
Sideways torrents of pent-up tears
Threatening to sweep away everything in their path.
Whipping trees,
Washing boulders,
Rolling through the land.

As the rains exhaust their fury,
Storm clouds dissipate.
The earth sighs.
Balance is restored
And life,
Hidden from the storm,
Reveals itself once again
In glorious colors of release.

 


Photo credit: desertdutchman via Foter.com / CC BY

A Cautionary Tale

They lay like dinosaur bones of old, just another layer of strata on an ancient planet, slowly being enveloped in green and brown. Someday they might be fuel for a future species, but that won’t occur until they have been forgotten for millions of years.

Sadly, they were close to the pinnacle when it happened. In the previous two centuries famine and disease had withered into a distant memory, and eons of genetic adaptation lay dormant under warm roofs with running refrigerators. In what was a blink in geologic time, they had connected the globe and planted flags on the moon. Shining eyes had stared out outward thinking maybe, just maybe, they could actually colonize another planet.

But greed and ego hacked away at the pinnacle until this great civilization could no longer stand. They were warned, but with a spewing of hot air and angry waving of hands, a shout went up like a great industrial cloud of smog, blotting the sun, drowning out the warning, and smothering the populace until finally, with one small voice, they said, “We were wrong.”

But it was too late.

With the energy of an avalanche that would not be stopped, ancient cycles gained momentum until storm upon storm battered coastlines and mountains and the houses with warm roofs and running refrigerators. Sea levels crept up, pushing an already crowded world closer and closer together. Disrupted supply chains broke down down the doors for disease and famine to come rushing back like a torrent. The rewind button had been pushed, and like the video tape of old, it squeaked and rattled back through time and human advancement until only small clusters of people remained, gasping, relearning how to exist on this new earth, until even they could exist no more.

The storms continued. They were not dependent on the machinations of man. Refrigerators rusted, roofs blew in, and walls collapsed as the next iteration began.

Humanity became just another layer in the strata of time.


Photo credit: weesam2010 via Source / CC BY-NC-SA