of you who have been reading my blog for some time know that I am a bit odd on
the inside. I usually frame that oddness
with the assertion that there is clearly something wrong with me.
days before the country went into house arrest, I did something to smash that
have not all of a sudden become “normal” and quirkless. In fact, I walked a step more squarely into
the weird zone. I decided that, if I am
odd on the inside, my outside should match.
So, at 60 years of age, I got fairy hair. I started with the idea that I would get 20
strands of glittery green and copper silk woven into my hair. As I went through the process, though, it
became increasingly clear that I was going to need more… many, many more… pixie
locks. Bit by bit, I ended up with over
50 strands. I have so much regular hair
that even that inordinately large amount of glitter is still subtle, but a girl
has got to know her limitations. I’m
afraid I surpassed mine. I have $100 of
sparkly strands hanging off my head.
don’t think I will do this again because it did end up being far more expensive
than I planned. Still, I really like the
effect. Because it is so subtle, people
have to look twice to decide if they really see something there or not. It is like I have some sparkly, magical
little secret that only people who pay attention can learn. Many people have
complimented me on my fairy hair. It
makes me feel bold and brave. My fairy
hair catches the sunlight very fetchingly.
I like radiating, it turns out.
I feel like the fairy hair really does help the way I look on the
outside reflect who I am on the inside.
see, fairy hair has taught me that “odd” doesn’t have to be negative. “Odd” doesn’t have to mean there is something
wrong with me. “Odd” can mean shiny,
sparkly… and beautiful!
thought we all needed a little break from coronavirus conversations. What could be further from a worldwide
pandemic than fairy hair? What little
bit of whimsy can you share with us to take our minds off contagion and
disease? Please share your perspective
by leaving a comment. In the
alternative, you can email me at email@example.com.
I’ve been socially distant most of my life. It wasn’t due to any fear of contagion, but simply because of my anxiety, shyness, and general awkwardness. You might say that, now that social distancing is all the rage, I am on trend for the first time in my life. I’m very good at it.
other hand, I’m changing in my old age.
I’m beginning to see what I’ve been missing. It took me almost 60 years to fight my way out
of my fear and find my way into warmth, support, and connection with loving
social families- both in my community and in my church. I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE it! I feel like I’ve
discovered chocolate for the first time ever.
saying that I don’t feel any particular fear about the COVID-19 virus. That is absolutely true from a medical
perspective. I still don’t feel scared
that I’m going to catch it or that there will be massive deaths of otherwise
healthy people. I am very scared about a
couple of things, though.
scared about the economic effect that will result from the standstill of
face-to-face commerce. I am especially
scared for the people who will lose jobs or won’t be able to provide basic
necessities because there is little or no business happening while the world is
in lockdown. I am glad to see that many
organizations and individuals are mobilizing to help and I will be supporting
them. There will still likely be
financial tragedies. I will do whatever
I can to help. I believe, as a
Christian, God calls me to lead from love and generosity, not from fear and
personally, my biggest fear is that I will lose the social connection that I
didn’t have so many years. It wasn’t
like I became extroverted or without anxiety.
It wasn’t like I made the shift to social connection suddenly or without
discomfort. It took me a lot of
maturity, courage, awkwardness, grace, sense of service, and encouragement to
get there. The whole thing is relatively
new to me. I am not sure it is firmly
rooted or integrated enough into my psyche to survive being uprooted by a
period of relative isolation. One of my
biggest “leftover” anxieties is phone contact.
It is still very hard for me to connect to people over the phone. I think it is because I am fairly intuitive
and I pick up lots of cues about what a person if feeling and thinking by his
or her body language. When I am without
those cues because I am on the phone, I feel more anxious. Now that I must use the phone to reinforce a
sense of community, companionship, and affection, I guess God is saying it is
time to tackle that particular dragon of mine.
isn’t just the fear of losing connection while the world lockdown is going
on. I am also scared that we won’t be
able to go back to “normal” once we are able to walk amongst each other again. Will people have become so lethargic and
isolated that they will just hang back and forget how much richer we are with
touch and face-to-face contact? Will the
whole world be social awkward? Will I
lose all the progress I’ve made in developing genuine, intimate, personal and
communal relationships? The possibility
makes me very, very sad. Once you’ve
tasted chocolate, the idea of never having it again is pretty terrible. I’m going to do my best to make sure that
doesn’t happen, even if it is not comfortable for me. I was brave enough to break my own patterns
once. I am confident that I can do it
again, with God’s help. Maybe I’ll be
even better because the whole world seems to be in a more deliberate, mindful
communication mode. It seems like a lot
of people are expanding their connection skills to try to retain community,
companionship, and affection. I guess I
am not the only one who is fighting social distance.
know how the Star Trek folks have that motto, “Live Long and Prosper?” I have a new motto. My motto is “This is temporary. Stay close in heart and soul while we ride it
you seeing any “silver linings” to the challenge of COVID-19 isolation? Do you need a virtual hug or some electronic reassurance
that you do have genuine connections with people? Please share your perspective by leaving a
comment. In the alternative, you can
email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
other day, I went to the supermarket to do my weekly grocery shopping. I learned that I could easily buy a lottery
ticket, which could be worth millions, and exotic vegetables with names I don’t
know how to pronounce. However,
purchasing a container of antibacterial cleaning wipes was another matter. The cupboard was bare in that
department. I wasn’t trying to buy the
wipes because of COVID-19. I always use
them to clean surfaces in my house and I used my last one. Today, I tried to find them in several more
stores and on the internet, with no success.
I am going to have to muddle through with all-purpose cleaning spray,
like we did back in the day.
not want to be flip or dismiss the concerns of reasonable people. First, a global pandemic is not funny. Second, pragmatically concerned people who
stay on the rational side of panic are likely more realistic and certainly more
helpful than I am with my somewhat laissez faire attitude about the whole
weird thing is that I haven’t felt all that scared or anxious about the
situation. Those of you who read my blog
regularly know that one of my few talents in life is worrying. If they had an Olympics for worrying, I’d win
a gold medal. Except they would probably
cancel the Worrying Olympics in an attempt to slow the spread of
contagion. I am a world class worrier.
For some reason, though, the coronavirus outbreak has barely been a blip on my
radar. I took very little notice until
the World Health Organization started calling it a pandemic and Disney closed
all its parks. At that point, I started
thinking about it. I still don’t feel
worried. This is a great comfort to my friends who understand my overactive
nervous system. They figure if I, of all
people, am not worried, things must not be so hopeless.
glad that people are having conversations about the best ways to handle
potential danger. This gives us a chance to look at all options from a variety
of perspectives, including how realistic it is for a society to follow a
possible protocol. Having many reasonable, educated, analytical minds discuss a
situation increases the possibility that all relevant factors and options will
be considered. Having widespread mass
communication increases the possibility of public awareness and education, even
if it also increases the opportunity for misinformation and panic. It is important for individuals, families, and
organizations start assessing risks and adopting practices to minimize
opportunities for infection. I also
think it is important for charitable, service, and religious organizations to
mobilize to meet the health, financial, and spiritual needs that will certainly
arise from the coronavirus. It is also
important that people operate from a place of practical caution and generosity
rather than fear and panic.
though I am not racked by worry and fear, I do support efforts to be smart and
careful in an uncertain environment.
is still a lot that I find ironic and illogical about the reaction to the
pandemic. Trying to reconcile the
actions people are taking makes my brain hurt sometimes. For instance, my community cancelled our
chorale concert a month from now, but we hosted a pancake breakfast for 100 the
day after the WHO announced it was classifying the coronavirus situation a
“pandemic.” Disney and Universal
announced they were closing to the public but continued to operate for two more
weekend days. The movie theater in my
town stayed open but decided to sell only half the tickets to each show. Max and I went to see a movie advertised at
a theater about 10 miles from our town. When we got to the movie theater, we
found they had decided to close completely until further notice. However, across the parking lot from the
theater, there was a well-populated bar.
A couple participants in my Alpha group at church (which usually has
about 20 attendees) decided to stay away from the class because of fear of
contagion. Two other participants were
absent last week because they were on a cruise.
A friend of mine’s husband just went from the hospital to an in-patient physical
therapy rehabilitation facility. The hospital allowed visitors, but the rehab
facility locked down to prevent spread of disease.
one of those decisions of my own to make recently. I am the leader of my Episcopal Church Women
small group. We meet the third Monday
of every month. I didn’t plan to cancel
the meeting. As news became clearer that
the risk is not just a personal risk, but also a risk to our public health and
safety organizations, I decided to reconsider my position. I still did not feel any real personal risk (I
mention this to reassure the friends that use me as their personal barometer
for panic). I am just now considering
another factor in my decision-making. I
don’t want to contribute to overstressing our hospitals and health care
personnel to the breaking point. Lots of
people could seem perfectly well and still be carrying the virus. For most people, catching the virus will
likely be inconvenient but not necessarily dangerous. However, if the hospitals cannot accommodate
all the people who are in danger, the result may not be pretty.
to cobble together a rough virtual meeting instead of having our normal
face-to-face meeting involved considering many interests. I did not consider just the health and public
safety interests, although that was part of the equation. I also considered the spiritual needs of the
group, the fellowship advantages, the need to present a faithful and loving
example of Christianity to the world, and the interest in making sure that a short-term
decision does not become a permanent answer.
My decision was based partly on the fact that our group has a strong
relational foundation, that we can and will change our course if the problem
continues or we see people fraying around the edges, and that we will still
invest face time with people who have needs that we cannot meet over the phone
or with electronic communication.
interesting thing about my decision is that it seems inconsistent with a
decision I’ve made for myself about another group in my church. I don’t have the authority to make the
decision for the other group, but, unless directed otherwise, I still plan on
meeting with them. I am putting myself
in the middle of the exact ironic, apparently illogical conundrum that gives me
a brainache. In the other group, there
are some different factors to consider that make me believe, under my set of
priorities, that the benefits outweigh the risks.
guess I’ve found the answer to my quandary.
For every decision we make, especially in the time of COVID-19, there
are many factors to weigh. Everyone will
have his or her own matrix of risks, benefits, and priorities for each
situation they encounter. Likely, all
those matrices will be different. I’m
going to stop trying to force everything to make sense. It’s not my job. My job is just to analyze my own matrix for
my own situations and do the best I can.
are you fostering a sense of community, companionship, and affection in a world
of COVID-19? Please share your
perspective by leaving a comment. In the
alternative, you can email me at email@example.com.
healthy day! Stay well, my friends…
physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.
Elf on the Shelf is so last Christmas.
In my household, we have moved on to a pre-Easter ritual I am calling
the Bun on the Run.
let it be said that I don’t know how to milk every ounce of absurdity out of a
tradition. Max and I had such a good
time hunting for Kringle, my little elf on the shelf, in December, he suggested
we adapt the game to search for a runaway bunny each morning during the Easter
season. I decided to leave no silliness
unturned. We hopped off to Hobby Lobby to buy a small bunny Max could hide each
morning. Of course, one bunny was not
enough. After all, we are talking about rabbits
here. I now have a large herd (or
whatever you call mass quantities of cohabitating bunnies) of rabbits grazing
on my breakfast nook table. These
rabbits are various shapes and sizes, making them suitable for hiding in
virtually any location Max finds each morning. We bought some of them at Hobby
Lobby and some I painted back in the 1980s in a ceramics class. Their names are Arabella, Archibald, Eenie,
Meenie, Miney, Mo, Winken, Blinken, Nod, and Tumble. I used to also have a Sage. Sadly, she was killed in a tragic dusting
started the bunny-running activity the day after Ash Wednesday. Each morning, a bunny makes a break for
freedom. According to legend (which I
have just made up), when the bunny hears me coming, he burrows down in a secret
place to wait for me to get tired of searching.
That has not yet happened. Although
sometimes I do need a hint.
bunnies are enjoying their morning exercise and have landed in some interesting
places. One morning, Miney landed
between the reverently folded hands of Clare the Prayer Bear. Eenie was partial to the telephone
Bun on the Run hunt sometimes takes an inordinate amount of time in the
mornings. Some mornings, I’ve asked for
a hint long before I normally would have because there was someplace I needed
to be and I could not imagine explaining my tardiness by blaming a wayward fake
rabbit, I have to admit that I’ve even
asked Max not to let the bun run too far on a given morning because we had to
get cracking on the day in a less leisurely manner than permitted by our normal
bun hunt. These tedious distractions
from the hunt (i.e. “real life”) also happened at Christmas time, but it seems
that they have been popping up much more this season.
makes me wonder if I am trying to crowd way too many things into my life. For me, the goal of retirement was to slow
down and not do things in the most efficient way humanly possible all the
time. I was tired of hopping and wanted
to meander. Now, I seem to be hopping
faster than the bunnies. It is a wakeup
will freely admit that hunting for runaway bunnies is not exactly a traditional
Lenten observance. For Lent this year, I
am doing some things to nurture my spiritual development. I would not include hunting for bunnies in
that list. However, I’m now thinking
that the bunnies have taught me something that is critical to spiritual
development. It is easy to let life get
overscheduled and out of control. It is
easy to let activities master me instead of me mastering the activities. I am doing so many things- maintaining
relationships, exercising, coordinating the hospitality for our church’s Alpha
program, facilitating an Alpha small group, delivering meals to the homebound,
leading an Episcopal Churchwomen’s chapter, preparing and delivering
devotionals and programs for the Episcopal Churchwomen’s chapter and general
meetings, participating in a fundraising activity for a local school, carving
out time for fun, and, sometimes… maybe… sleep.
activity, no matter how much fun or how satisfying or how ministerial it may be
can be a distraction to my relationship with God if I let it. My time for Scripture study and prayer often
comes at the end of the day, before I go to bed… after I have finished up
whatever remaining walking I must do to hit my 6 miles a day. I’m not sure my
prayer is ready for prime time. I try to
cleanse my mind and concentrate, but I know I could do better. I know this because I’ve learned I have to do
my Scripture reading and prayer standing up.
When I lay down, I fall asleep.
I’m sure the mental noise and busy-ness of the day interfere with my
quality time with the Lord.
If I feel like I’m too pressed for time to hunt for bunnies… or pray without passing out… maybe it’s time for me to take God’s hand and let Him slow me down to a little bit. Who am I kidding? It will probably take a training collar!
What techniques do you use to prioritize and balance your time, once you don’t have a job to force you into a routine? Now that you get to decide what and how much to do, what keeps you from getting overscheduled? Please share your perspective by leaving a comment. In the alternative, you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
many of you know, I held out against the Facebook invasion for a long
time. I told the tale of my conversion
to the posting side in my blog post Social Anxiety. You can view that
post at http://www.terrilabonte.com/2019/02/social-anxiety/. Now that I’ve been socially anxious for over
a year, I thought I’d revisit my decision.
almost put myself in Facebook time-out a little while back. The drama was beginning to unnerve me.
belong to a few different groups on Facebook.
For the most part, I find that these groups are helpful, positive, and
supportive. Now and again, a skirmish
breaks out. It can be amusing to watch it play out… when the skirmish involves people who are
strangers to me. When it involves people
I know, it feels too personal and cringeworthy.
It makes me want to crawl back into my Luddite hole and cover myself
with a blanket. Or maybe just feed my
phone down the garbage disposal. It upsets me a lot.
to think I could try to raise a point that would help the feuding parties
bridge their differences and make peace.
Now, I just feel powerless to stop the madness. I’m sad that the madness may infect my
reasonably sane circle of close friends and destroy the carefully nurtured
harmony in my world. People tell me to
“just keep scrolling” if a certain thread bothers me. I know that is the best advice, but I find it
difficult to implement. It is sort of
like telling an alcoholic that she can easily sit in a bar if she just doesn’t
order a drink. Yes, it is possible, but
it ain’t easy. I am a curious person and
seem to be drawn to these dramas. I
freely admit that this curiosity is based on a desire to be “in the know” on
the gossip front. It is an extremely
unattractive side to my personality and I work hard to beat it down. Facebook doesn’t facilitate that
self-improvement effort, at least not without some creativity on my part.
been trying to channel my angst about posts that feed the darker side of the
online society into more positive avenues.
I try to forge strategies to force the conversation into a more
productive place. That was always my
goal, but I found that responding directly to an inflammatory post wasn’t the
way to accomplish it. “Distraction” is
my new method. Instead of squirting
Coleman fuel on a fire that is already out of control in hopes of drowning it,
I think it is better to leave the building to burn down and set up housekeeping
in a more pleasant place. For instance,
a twister swirled into a group recently over a sensitive, polarizing
matter. Posters were passionate about
their opinions. There was little in the
way of shared interests. It seemed that
the opposite positions were mutually exclusive.
In short, I don’t think there was ever going to be any consensus of
were folks who wrote reasonable, rational posts to try to bridge the gaps in
understanding and position. These
posters encouraged those who were so angry and devastated to embrace the
(hopefully) shared interest of community harmony. I admired those posters. Unfortunately, several attempts to let cooler
heads prevail resulted in those cooler heads being knocked from their shoulders.
Just when it seemed that the emotional
temperature was decreasing, there would be another belligerent, righteously
indignant post that would start the whole argument over again.
don’t say which camp was right and which camp was wrong. In fact, I am not even saying that taking to
Facebook to have this argument was wrong (although I probably would say that,
if pressed) because I know I tend to be too passive and non-confrontational.
What I am saying is that, right or wrong, these social media land mines upset
me a lot. It is just in my DNA to avoid arguments
and withdraw when tempers flare. It hurt
my heart that there were real people at the center of these arguments,
the targets of some pretty pointed ugliness at times. After a few days of this running Facebook
argument, I thought seriously about leaving the group or even getting off
decided not to take either action because, all in all, I like Facebook. I am the cornball who loves the cute animal
videos, the witty puns, the ridiculous quizzes that apparently send information
about my weird personality to Russia on a regular basis, and the uplifting
messages. I also like to see the
pictures people post. It has been
interesting connecting with some people from my past. As to the group that the argument hijacked for
a few weeks, it provides very valuable information almost all the time.
of giving up Facebook, leaving a group that I find generally helpful, or taking
a side in a Facebook battle, I decided to feed new threads. I started posting my “Thankful Thursday”
posts in that group, copying from my regular posts to friends. These posts list some of the things for which
I am thankful and ask that others join me in thankfulness, in exchange for a
virtual donut. Much as I did when I was
working, I sometimes list a “strategic” thankful, with the specific intent to
reinforce positiveness. I also wrote my
blog post Nice Matters (http://www.terrilabonte.com/2019/07/nice-matters/) a
week or two after the firestorm started and posted the link in the group. I saw a few other people taking similar
actions, posting about friendship and unity.
We didn’t make a big deal about any of it or allude at all to the controversy. We were specifically trying to not refer to
the controversy. We just reminded FB
groupies that our world is filled with wonderful people who do wonderful
we stopped feeding the fire, the ashes started to cool. There is still the occasional flare. I suppose that is understandable, as people
were very passionate about the issue and, in some ways, it was a very big
issue. Some people do burn hotter than others. On the other hand, the conversation landscape
is less scorched and I am not as upset.
The key to managing my Facebook angst was not trying to extinguish the
fire. It was to build a more
are your experiences with social media controversies? How do you keep your equilibrium when a
social media storm breaks out? Please
share your experience by leaving a comment.
In the alternative, you can email me at email@example.com.
had a recurring dream since I retired. I
dream that I am back at work. I don’t
think that is too unusual. What is
unusual is that, in my dream, I have still retired but decided to go back to
the job. I explain it to colleagues by saying,
“oh yes, I did retire but after a couple of months decided to come back and
work a little more.” I don’t seem to be
concerned about money or about missing my job or have any particular
reason at all as to why I decided to come back to work. I get the sense that I went
back to work because someone asked me to come back to work on some specific
project and then I just forgot to leave.
don’t know if going back to the job from which I retired would even be a
possibility. How would that even
work? I assume I’d have to give up my
retirement check and then would get my regular salary until I retired from the
same job for a second time, at which time I would get a recomputed retirement check based on my
additional time in service. See how
weird this is? I’m even compulsively
contemplating the mechanics of the whole thing.
don’t know why I have this dream or what it means. It might have something to do with my
mom. As my brother points out, I am
basically the same person as my mom. She
received multiple pensions during her life (albeit not for the same job). She
always enjoyed having a job. She kept
reinventing her career, moving on to a different job that suited her skills and
personality whenever the opportunity arose.
I can count at least 10 different paying jobs she held from the time I
was about five. Maybe part of me wonders
if I should be finding a new job, now that my primary career life is
finished. That interpretation doesn’t
feel right to me, though. I’m reasonably
certain that I’m not repressing any deep-seated need to have a job. I have a busy life, filled with satisfying
and stimulating activity. I’m not
bored. I don’t feel worthless. The idea of being hemmed in by other people’s
expectations that I do specific tasks on a specific schedule holds absolutely
keep having this dream because I have an idea that, if I could go back to my
job, knowing what I know now, I might do it better. I feel like I’ve learned so
much about living and about how to be comfortable being myself since I
retired. If I did go back to my old job,
I’m not sure anyone would recognize me.
I think I’d be less tense and more confident. Hopefully, I wouldn’t feel
so inadequate all the time. Maybe I
wouldn’t drag so much emotion with me through every task I undertook. When I left my job, I had nothing left in the
tank. Exhaustion was my default emotion.
retrospect, I think I might not have been so tired because of the work, but
because of how I felt about the work and how I felt about me. Instead of simply expending the energy
necessary to do necessary tasks, I expended a great deal more energy on
worrying and assuming responsibilities that were not mine to assume. It is one thing to be empathetic and compassionate
about other people’s feelings. It is
quite another to hold oneself responsible for trying to feel the feelings
for the other person or for trying to force the other person to feel
dream, I seem to be moving through my work life with much more grace and ease
than I ever experienced during my waking life.
Everything seems to be clicking on all cylinders and I move comfortably
from one thing to another, with little angst or indecision. There are crises in my dream, but I never
feel overwhelmed or beaten. I don’t seem
to mind the chaos. In fact, I feel
strong and powerful. I am much more
effective in my dream than I ever was in real life.
that is what drives my dream. Maybe I
feel like I’d like to have a “do-over” and recraft the way I approach work,
based on what I’ve learned in retirement.
I’m curious, given how much I feel like I’ve grown, if I could be more
effective and less stressed and make more of a difference.
guess I’ll never know. If I am
completely realistic, I honestly think it is unlikely that things would be much
different if I did go back to work. It
is easy to absorb life lessons and pat myself on the back for my wisdom in the
relative peace of retirement. However,
if I were to climb down off the retirement mountain and expose myself once more
to the sticky, stressful mire that surely still exists in my former workplace,
I don’t think it would take long for me to slide back into the ooze. I don’t know that people really change their
hard-wired approach to life all that much.
I can learn and grow, but I think my instinctive reaction to stress and
emotion will probably always be to ramp up my heart instead of my head.
next time I have that dream where I’ve gone back to work “for a little while”
after retiring, I think I’ll dream myself right back into re-retiring!
still have “unfinished business” that you are working out in your dreams? Please tell us about it. Please share your perspective by leaving a
comment. In the alternative, you can
email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
been living in Florida for over five years now. I wouldn’t say that I live in
the country, but I do live in a “country-ish” location. There is abundant undeveloped land in my
community and the surrounding area. It
is certainly more rural than anywhere else I have lived. I’ve seen more types of wild animals than I
can easily count. I have had numerous
opportunities to watch the cycles of nature play out over time. You’d think I would be used to the aftermath
of the circle of life by now. Not so. I saw something a few weeks ago that brought
me to tears.
say the wild mascots of our community are the sandhill cranes. I’ve written about them before on this blog
(http://www.terrilabonte.com/tag/coping/ and http://www.terrilabonte.com/2018/05/cranes-in-my-cranium/.) If you don’t know what a sandhill crane looks
like, you should google it. You should
also read my prior blog to get a sense of how I tend to anthropomorphize
them. They are so much a part of our community;
it is hard not to.
cranes mate for life. They have babies
once a year and those babies stay with their parents for about 10 months. The time of the year when we start spotting
the baby cranes is noteworthy. Facebook
comes alive with notifications of baby crane sightings. People pull over on the side of the road to
take pictures. There is one street not
too far from here that posts official-looking, professionally printed signs
proclaiming “Caution! Baby Sandhill Crane Crossing.” We watch those babies grow
from little fuzzballs on stilts to mature cranes that are indistinguishable
from their parents.
we don’t think about is what happens at the end of that ten-month raising
period. I never thought about it until
recently. Sure, I’d noticed that our little trio and quartet families of cranes
were back to being couples around Christmas each year. It happened gradually, so it wasn’t something
that signified anything to me. I lived in a little fantasy world where the
juveniles had a graduation party and went off to crane college or
something. They literally left the nest.
weeks ago, I saw the darker side of the Sandhill crane life benchmarks. As I drove down the street towards the exit
of our community, I saw one of the crane families on the side of the road. One of the adult cranes was charging the
juvenile. There were furiously flapping
wings, hissing noises, and gnashing beaks involved. Clearly, the adult was
running the juvenile crane off his territory.
It made me so sad. How could
these creatures who carefully hatched and raised their babies turn their backs
so callously on their progeny? How could
the creatures, who mourned and cried when a baby got tangled in a telephone
wire and died, now snarl and spit to drive away their remaining offspring? It
just broke my heart to think how confused and sad those maturing cranes must
feel to see how emphatically mom and dad want them gone. Where will they go? Won’t they be lonely and scared? The entire episode really bummed me out.
that there is a circle of life and that last year’s nestlings must make way for
this year’s babies. I know that the
newly emancipated juveniles will likely find their own mates and begin exciting
new lives of their own. I know that the
Sandhill cranes likely do not take stock of their emotions as humans do, so
probably don’t feel as betrayed as I would feel had my parents decided to cut
off all ties with me when I turned eighteen.
The logical, rational side of me understands that there is no tragedy
involved in the launching of the juvenile Sandhill cranes. My heart, however, can’t wrap itself around
it is important for children to become independent and live their own
lives. It is extremely difficult for
each generation to accomplish their own goals and achieve societal evolution if
that generation is still occupying the last generation’s nest. Just as the very
act of struggling to emerge from a cocoon strengthens a butterfly’s wings and
prepares it for life in the great unknown, I’m sure the struggle of leaving the
nest strengthens children of all species and prepares them for life in their own great
unknown. Still, that Sandhill crane
approach to launching their children seems unaccountably harsh.
chicks did not just leave the nest; they were pushed!
What experiences do you have of “leaving the nest?” When you or your children left the nest, was it as harsh as the Sandhill crane emancipation? What was the result? Please share your perspective by leaving a comment. In the alternative, you can email me at email@example.com.
isn’t my first attempt to write this blog piece. Twice already, I’ve started the process only
to end up chucking the whole thing. I
guess I am still not ready to admit defeat, so I’m taking another shot at it.
I’ve decided that, if I can’t produce something this time, I’m giving up. Three strikes and I’m out.
intended premise of this blog post, as Valentine’s Day looms before us, was to
talk about how not everyone is lovely, but everyone can be love-er-ly.
The trouble is, I always seem to fall down a woeful rabbit hole where I just
keep bemoaning the sad truth that I have never been lovely. Truth be told, I have absolutely nothing to
recommend me in the looks department. I
have never been beautiful. I have never
been sexy. I have never been
graceful. I have never been lovely. All of these are very un-Valentiney
cogitated over this sad state of affairs and the impact it was having on my
ability to craft a blog post about love-er-li-ness, I remembered a conversation
I recently had with a friend at church.
My friend is kind and faithful and devoted to doing good in her
life. However, she often runs herself down,
dismisses her worth, and undermines her own contributions. Her words about herself seem harsh and
punishing. One day, I asked her to do me
a favor. I asked her to be kinder to
herself. She is working on it.
strikes me that I have been doing the same thing each time I try to write this
blog. I don’t want to be so hard on
myself. Instead of sinking into the ooze
of my unloveliness, I really want to embrace my love-er-li-ness. You see, I may not be lovely, but I
think I am love-er-ly.
ago, I decided that I probably was not destined to do great things, but I did
want to do anything I did with great love.
Although I do not always succeed, the nurturing of love is my main life
goal. I sometimes consider building love-er-li-ness to be like becoming an
elite athlete. I started at a young age.
I am intentional in my approach.
I hone my love-building skills by subjecting myself to different
conditions. I train by practicing and experimenting with different
techniques. I seek out coaches and role
models who will show me ways I can be more loving. I try to be single-minded in the pursuit of
excellence. I sometimes have “off
days.” Let’s face it, even Tom Brady
isn’t TOM BRADY every day. For
the most part, though, I think I see growth and enrichment in my
love-er-li-ness performance. I may not
be at the “elite” level yet, but I’m trying to at least be an “up and comer.”
no saint. I am aware that all this talk
of love and self-denial can come across as a little too Goody-Two-Shoes. Honestly, though, my motivation for building
my love-er-li-ness skills is more selfish.
It just feels good to love.
think everyone can hone their love-er-li-ness skills. It doesn’t have to be difficult. I think,
sometimes, we want to build love but get stuck on what to do. It can also be intimidating to stick one’s
neck out too far, especially if we feel shy about getting into someone else’s
emotional personal space. Here are a
few suggestions that might help get you started.
be something as simple as sending a “thinking of you” card or picking up the
phone to check in with someone you haven’t seen in a while.
don’t have to offer any profound words or even acknowledge anything you think
the other person could be feeling. Because people so rarely get anything in
their snail mail other than bills and advertising, sometimes a card or note
feels more significant to recipients.
However, you don’t have to get caught up in how you touch base-
phone, card, email, text, whatever.
Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.
be something like offering a specific service, like going to the grocery store
or providing airport transportation, to someone who is hurting.
person who is hurting may not take you up on your offer, but they will appreciate
the effort. They will also appreciate
that you have not put the burden of having to think of something you can do on
top of whatever load they are already carrying.
People often say, “please let me know if there is anything I can do for
you.” It might be more comforting to
add, “like go to the grocery store or pick up your daughter at the airport or
anything else you might need.”
a little bit of serendipity.
someone else ahead of you online in a department store or post office.
often do this in grocery stores when the person behind them only has a few
items. It is more striking when it
happens other places. Occasionally,
leave all the change in the tip jar when your ice cream cone costs $4.01 and
you give the cashier a $5. If you can
afford it, generously over tip a server, especially if you can hear that
another diner is giving him or her a hard time.
Let workers and managers know what it meant to you when a service worker
does a wonderful job.
most hurtful situations, there is fault on both sides. It may not be equal. It rarely is.
The other person could truly bear 95% of the blame, but there is almost
always something you could have done differently to make the situation less
painful. Don’t worry so much about the
other person’s blame. You can’t control
that. You can own your share of the
issue and apologize for it. That doesn’t
mean you should put up with poor behavior from other people. You can choose to love people from a distance
without subjecting yourself to their brokenness if that brokenness continues to
cause them to abuse you.
someone else take the wheel, even if they are tearing up your highway.
want to win, or do you want to love? I often go into projects or situations
with something of an agenda. I know what
I want to have happen and I know how I want them to happen. I’m sure I sometimes seem committed to “my
way or the highway.” Honestly, in most
situations, it really doesn’t make that much difference how a denouement plays
out. In the love building department,
very little is about the outcome and much more is about the benefits involved
in the getting there. For instance, when
I have a conversation with someone, I may have a goal about what I want the
outcome of that conversation to be, but I also have some goals about how I want
both of us to feel at the end of that conversation. Those goals about how I want us to feel are
usually more important than the content of the conversation.
from your heart.
I am a
very shy person. It is even hard for me to catch someone’s eye without
dissolving into a pile of goo. It feels
like I am imposing on their privacy by my mere existence. I made a discovery,
though, that has helped me “let my love shine” and reduce my shyness. I make it a point to purposely look at people
around me and to smile. I let that smile generate from the part of my soul that
is busily building all that love. I let it rise to my heart, mouth, and
eyes. I let it be personal, because it
is. It must be genuine for it to
work. You must feel the
smile, not just do it. There is a scene
from a movie about the life of St. Therese of Lisieux where she is trying to
befriend one of her rather fractious sisters in the convent. The other nun says to her, “why are you
always smiling at me like that?” St. Therese responds, “If I am smiling at you,
Sister, it is because I am happy to see you.”
For this heart smile to do its best work, you must be happy to see the
person. Sometimes, you must search a little
for the part of you that is happy to see that person, but it is worth it.
there is anything that is the quickest, most sure-fire tool to build love for
me, it is prayer. God is Love, so why
not go to the source of it all to multiply and replenish when you are hard at
work building love-er-li-ness?
This Valentine’s Day try to embrace your pursuit of love-er-li-ness. You can do it in whatever way works for you. You can try some of my suggestions or go your own way. All I am really advocating is that we all try to increase our love of God, people in general, people who we might find challenging, and the people who matter to us the most. I’d also encourage one other technique. Be kind to yourself. Being love-er-ly to yourself is important, too!
Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone! If you could leave a love-er-ly valentine message for someone, what would it be? Please share your perspective by leaving a comment. In the alternative, you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
sure that most of you know by now that I published a book almost two years
ago. The book is called Changing
My Mind: Reinventing Myself In Retirement. I published it under
my real name, Dorry Curran (for those inquiring minds who want to know what is
up with the whole name thing, please see http://www.terrilabonte.com/2018/03/the-big-reveal/.) If you like my blog, you will probably like
the book using an author services company for several reasons. The main benefit of using the company is that
I didn’t have to learn how to do a lot of technical production work that I
didn’t want to learn to do. The whole
experience was very educational and enriching.
I was able to produce a book that gives me a lot of satisfaction and
pride. I wanted to learn something about
the mechanical/technical/operational world of book publishing and I did. I did not really want the aggravation involved
in learning how to do the mechanical/technical/operational work
itself. I think I made the right choice
for me and I do not regret the decision.
downside of using the author services company, of course, was cost. It cost me a bit of money to publish and
distribute the book. I didn’t expect to
recoup the entire cost and I’m fine with only making back a fraction of the
investment. My mother had a friend who
was wildly obsessed with stamping and making cards. She invested thousands of dollars on stamps,
supplies, and a custom designed “stamping room” where she displayed her stamps
on handmade shelves. I think my book is
similar. I spent the money for the love
of writing and the desire to create something wonderful and unique to me. Every time I look at a copy of my book, it
makes me happy. Money well spent, in my
thing is that the money needs to keep getting spent if I want to continue to
make the book available. Each year, I
have to pay a chunk of change to the author services company to handle orders
and distribution of the book. Last year,
I cut that cost a little bit by discontinuing the “direct-to-reader” author
website. This year, the renewal for the
remaining services will come due towards the end of March. Since sales over the past ten months or so
have been virtually non-existent, I have decided not to renew. Yes, I’ll be stopping the presses. My book will be out of print by the end of
March. I wanted to give you all a head’s
up so that you can order any electronic or paperback copies that you want
before the only place to get it is at yard sales and secondhand stores.
would like to buy paperback or electronic versions of Changing My Mind,
please visit your favorite online bookseller.
The book is available on amazon.com, barnesandnoble.com, and many other
you for your support of my work. I will
continue to blog each week until I run out of things to say (yes, I hear you
scoffing, those of you who think I ran out of things to say years ago.) I
appreciate all of you who come along with me on my musings and adventures. I am so glad to have you as my traveling
those of you who have read my book, is there anything you would like to share (positive
or negative) that might help others decide whether or not to invest in a
copy? Please share your perspective by
leaving a message. In the alternative,
you can email me at email@example.com.
older I get, the more certain I get that it is unwise to be too certain of much
there are a few precepts that I hold very dear and I am certain of my
commitment to them. For instance, I am
certain of my faith in Jesus. I am
certain that it is important to be kind.
I am certain that it is critical to have integrity. I am certain that love is more powerful than
hate and both are more powerful than indifference. I am much less certain of what exactly these
abstract precepts will look like in any given set of concrete
circumstances. I’ve given up taking
stands about what I should/would/could do in any situation that I have not yet
encountered. I just don’t have the imagination or the energy for it. Besides, I
think that there are probably enough people in the world who live by
absolutes. I don’t need to be one of
remember, when I was younger, I used to have a much firmer grasp on the “right
thing.” I was often shocked by the actions of people I knew. I had a picture in my head of how “good”
people behaved. Sadly, I judged people
by that warped window into their souls.
I didn’t allow for the possibility that my picture was much narrower
than reality. I also didn’t take into consideration that cracks, repairs,
scratches, and scars over time can distort the view through the window.
I get more tolerant as I get older. I
have never been sure about this “getting wiser with age” stuff, but I do think
there is a certain amount of wisdom in becoming less resolute in what I think I
year, I am resolving to be even less resolute about things that really don’t
matter. Loving people is way more
effective than judging people.
Understanding people is more important than taking a position about
people. Acknowledging that who I am and how I live my life may not be the only
“good” way to be and live. Yes, it is
important to be discerning about things that could be dangerous to personal
physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual safety. Discerning does not mean certainty,
however. I’m always going to leave room
for the Holy Spirit.
you have any New Year’s resolutions for 2020? How are they going for you? Please
share your perspective by leaving a comment.
In the alternative, you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.