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I need to organize, like Norma Rae. That’s just a saying I made up, and I say it to myself as I attempt to sort through closets and drawers, vainly looking for:

  • The spatula with the melted handle that got too close to the flame on the stove
  • The meat tenderizer/hammer-looking-thingie I’m going to repurpose into an ice cracker
  • A copy of that screenplay I wrote about Amazon warrior women in space, submitted cheekily to Amazon via their Storywriter submission tool two years ago that they rejected instantly (uploaded – 11 AM, “declined” – 12 PM)
  • An energy booster like you see in video games to beat the late afternoon drowsies
  • Another hour of daylight
  • That other sock

Yep, I really need to organize. Heck, I need a union! A union of one. A one-ion, if you will. I really need to talk to whoever’s in charge of getting these closets in order, because they’ve got some explaining to do! Who’s in charge here? Bring ‘em out. Huh? Oh. That would be me.

Like so many people, I’m fascinated by the existence of someone such as Marie Kondo, the Japanese organizing guru who suggests discarding all items in your home that don’t “spark joy.” I do think she’s on to something, but then how do you flip a pancake? My spatula (referenced above, semi-melted) doesn’t spark joy. It’s merely functional.

Now, when it comes to clearing out a memory of past pain from our soul’s storage, the only way to eliminate it is to remind yourself you did the best you could at the time. Remember all you’ve got to be thankful for nowadays. This might be the key to optimal mental health. De-clutter the space in your soul and make room for the better things coming your way.

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Plantie wearing her Crop Circle.

When I couldn’t knit using needles anymore due to visual issues, I decided to give the round loom a shot. That’s basically a plastic circle with pegs on it. You wrap the yarn around the pegs to knit, and there’s a tiny slot on each peg so that if you can’t see it that well, at least you can feel it with your knitting tool.

So I was knitting what I thought was a headband, but when I put it on my head, it flopped right off. Oh. I guess I was supposed to incorporate some kind of elastic element to keep it in place. I tossed it onto the table next to my plant. Her name is Plantie. Yes. See, I’m a writer. Good wit woids, as we say in Jersey. I wanted to name her Petunia, but that’s an actual name of a flower already, and she’s… I don’t know. Some other kind of green grow-y thing.

The vet’s office had sent Plantie to me when my KitKat passed away. I thought it was a very kind gesture, but I never could keep a plant alive. Still, I welcomed her, watered her, and tell Plantie every day she looks lovely and healthy. Give her a shpritz with the mister. (This may be risque for a prayer blog, but…why does that phrase sound obscene to me?😏)

One day I put Plantie in the center of the Unrealized Headband I’d knitted. Huh. That looks pretty decent, actually. Why, my word! That’s not a headband after all. It’s a tiny round knit thingie to adorn my plant’s basket. Let’s call it a Crop Circle! This could be a thing!

Every bit of your creativity has a purpose. Let it speak to you and find its own rightful place in the world.

Speaking of bare minimums (as a recap, here’s a link to my last wee postie), I remember the time I went to a franchise donut shop and experienced a real-life example. I’m not naming names here, but it rhymes with Flunkin Flonuts.

When I got my order, the employee handed me a small, flat piece of cardboard with my coffee. I asked her what it was.

“It goes on your to-go cup.”

“What for?” I asked.

“In case the cup is too hot,” she replied.

Oh. Shouldn’t it be on the cup already? Cuz now I’m holding it. You know what? It is too hot. Really does need a sleeve.

I wondered why they would do it this way. It’s happened every time since, and that was a few years ago, so I have to assume it’s a company policy.

Let me see. They were sued because the coffee was too hot. Instead of ordering the manufacturer to make new cups that were thicker (and would cost money), they ordered sleeves that could slide onto their already existing cups.

Rather than making it policy for employees to put the sleeve on the cup (which would take three extra seconds and theoretically cost the company profits), they decided to do the barest minimum possible.

Here’s your to-go cup filled with scalding coffee. We know it’s too hot for your hands to hold. So here. Take the Java (nay, let’s call it “Lava”) in one hand (we’ll call that your expendable hand, so if you’re right-handed, use your left), the sleeve in the other. And here’s a coupon. 10% discount for your visit later today to the Medi-Merge.

Here’s my point. Isn’t it better to raise the bar just slightly than to avoid improving a situation? Food for thought on a Sunday afternoon.

Don’t you find that there are days when all you can get done is the bare minimum? When you feel like you’ve reached your Max Cap (Maximum Capacity — don’t mind me, I just like abbreviating everything, AKA “Abv-Ev”), Least/Most is the rule of thumb.

When you can’t do all of the things you’d hoped to get done in a day, you do the least you need to do to survive: make sure food is on the table, pay the bills, feed the cat. The least is the most you can do that day. It might be due to illness or other obligations. Or something in you that holds you back. New research shows that procrastination isn’t about being lazy. Researchers are calling it “self-harm.”

“Procrastination is an emotion regulation problem, not a time management problem,” said Dr. Tim Pychyl, professor of psychology and member of the Procrastination Research Group at Carleton University in Ottawa.

There’s a Procrastination Research Group. Huh. You’d better not show up late to that meeting! Think I’m just going to abbreviate their name for them: ProResGro. You’re welcome (YW).

“Put simply, procrastination is about being more focused on ‘the immediate urgency of managing negative moods’ than getting on with the task”, Dr. Fuschia Sirois said. Fuschia! I really hope she wears a snazzy purple lab coat while doing research.

It’s time to make changes and really mull over the reasons you haven’t tackled a challenge you’d very much like to accomplish. Unpack it so you don’t have to carry it in the Suitcase of your Psyche anymore. That really should be the title of a bad suspense-thriller set in an airport by the luggage carousel. Sponsored by Samsonite. Will let you know what mysteries are revealed as I unpack my own bag. (Alert: Pun ahead) Carry-on!

Coaster, sans arachnid

Once, as I was watching TV, I reached for my hazelnut coffee. It was placed on a coaster that resembles a throw rug with tiny strings on it. As I drink my coffee, I have to make sure it’s centered so it doesn’t spill. Usually I just grab those little strings to adjust it. This time, I wasn’t paying attention. I grabbed the strings and tugged, only to look down and realize that it wasn’t the strings of the coaster I was pulling on. It was the legs of a spider!

Mildly freaked out, I said “Aaah!” He said the spider version of “Aaah!,” making a jerking motion with his legs. All those crazy legs. Mercy. He ran off and I started to go after him to squish him (there wasn’t time to capture him with my trusty Bugzooka and take him outside).

I realized that he’d gotten my message without my even trying.

He wasn’t coming around me again, not after that tiny torture session. Tickling my toes? What manner of fresh heck is this? What are you, giant creature with flame-orange hair?

As a general rule, impinging on my space will never get you a warm welcome.

This goes for spiders on my coffee coaster, of course, but also for:

  • People who decide to park their car in front of my driveway.
  • Salespeople peddling stuff I don’t need that I’ll end up putting directly into the attic.
  • Zombies sent to my house inadvertently by a faulty GPS (Gory People Search.)

The best way to make a point, no matter how important you feel it may be, is to give people their space. So if you’ve found faith and want to share it, be sure to ask permission. Respecting others’ decisions speaks well of your religion.

Let me tell you about Frankie, of whom I’m terribly fond. I just saw him on Sunday, and though he slept through my visit, I could tell he was content — after all, he was where he loves to be, in a giant pen with a bunch of horned beasts. Frankie’s a llama, by the way. He lives at an animal park just outside of town where he spends his days raising generation after generation of pygmy goats. (Exception: For a brief while he was employed in pulling train-fulls of children around a track. It broke my heart — and his. Thankfully, he was quickly reunited with his foster children.) Frankie doesn’t know he’s a llama among goats. He’s just doing what he loves to do — gently guiding and nurturing his hoofed pals, lying down so they can climb him like a furry, brown mountain, policing caprine shenanigans.

No one has ever told Frank that he cannot be a goat mama, both because he is male and the wrong species. I’m glad they haven’t. So many of us are discouraged from doing God’s work, from being our fullest selves, because the world tells us we can’t. We’re not important enough. We’re women. We’re out of our depth. Those people are wrong. If a male llama can tend to goats, if a stutterer (Moses) can speak for the people of Israel, if an illiterate fisherman (Peter) can head a church, then why can’t you do what God is calling you to do, however unlikely?

To call myself a spiritual poet in a world where poetry (much less spiritual poetry) isn’t wanted, needed or read is as ridiculous a calling as a llama aspiring to goat-tending. But Frankie’s doing his thing. And I’m doing mine. Maybe no one will ever notice us much, but neither of us cares. The goats know. I know. God knows.

And maybe, just maybe, someday I’ll be as good at poetry as Frankie is at raising goats. Not a bad goal, wouldn’t you say?

At the produce market, I got in line behind a lady holding a single avocado as if it were a precious gem. “Perfectly ripe,” she said lovingly. “Hardly ever happens!”

We started chatting, and I asked her what avocado tastes like. “Never tried it,” I said.

She looked at me, mouth agape. “That’s like saying you’ve never had an apple! You’ve never had an avocado? How can that be?!?”

Amused at her sweet befuddlement, I went on. “And I’ve never tasted guacamole either!”

She was aghast. “Oh, you must try it! It’s so easy to make. And you’ll love it. I promise!”

Now mind you, I’ve been offered guacamole at a party. And I’ve been near avocados, certainly. At the store. At friends’ houses. I mean, I’ve been avocado-adjacent.

I think I made up my mind when I looked at guacamole for the first time: I’m not gonna like that. Its insides are an unsettling shade of green. Chartreuse? Not something I’m intending to ingest.

The same thing with crustaceans. I’ve never had oyster, crab or lobster in my life. I got it into my head that I wouldn’t like the texture.

One day when I suddenly get rich (Might happen. Could happen. Yep.) I’m probably going to HAVE to eat lobster. Probably some kind of rule. That, and caviar. Tiny fish eggs? Yes, but why? Cuz they taste like salt? Why not eat a potato chip instead?

Now, I have to wonder: Have I done that with people I’ve met? Those times where I’ve made a snap judgment about someone based on next to nothing and decided not to trust them. Or maybe the set of someone’s face rubbed me the wrong way. Being aware of this all-too human habit may be a step in the right direction.

My left eye is trying to tell me something. Apparently, I have displeased it. The lid is red and swollen, probably signifying an allergic reaction. Into the trashcan went the mascara; I decided to go nude-faced until the displeasure ceases. Which posed a quandary — can I really go out in public without makeup?

I don’t wear much makeup, but without something on my eyes, my face tends to disappear, especially since I let my hair go “natural” (read: a mixture of brown and — to put it politely — silver). I’m one of those ghost-faced gals who needs a little color. Without makeup, I look old and tired. Not that I’m not old and tired — those are true things — it’s just that it’s not what I want the public to see. For their own sake. Being inordinately tall is one thing; being tall and preternaturally pale is bordering on spooky.

Nonetheless, I went out, makeup-free, and you know what? No one seemed to notice. It’s a funny thing. People look at you a lot less often than you might think. And what they conclude about you from a glance isn’t worth worrying about. In fact, most people are so self-conscious, they are likely not thinking about you at all.

Still, it made me wonder: What kind of mask am I putting on when I face God, and don’t I realize God can see right through it? My naked soul is certainly more frightening than my naked face. I can dress my soul up in formal prayers, modulate my manners and voice (“see, God, I’m being patient!”), yet God sees every wart, scar and defect. It’s like those x-ray specs they used to advertise in the back of comic books, only these actually work. And God’s got the only pair.

I’m a little ashamed that God can see me as I am. Maybe that’s a good thing. Anything that motivates me to improve the actual quality of my soul is a plus. And maybe — like my eye — my soul will become less unsightly with time.

Can I turn a sow’s ear into a silk purse? Unlikely. Luckily for me, God loves sow’s ears. And tall, pale people. Just as they are.

I knew it was time to take down a perfectly good bathroom cabinet. My visual issues are such that I no longer have depth perception. I just can’t see the edges of things until I bump into them. That cabinet was a concussion waiting to happen.

So we took it down, and to my surprise, behind it, found a small patch of old wallpaper. Huh. It must be from the house’s previous owners, some 25 years ago.

It’s got rows of elephants, festooned in gold, red and black, marching in formation. They even seem to be wearing hats and shoes!

It occurred to me that SueBE would think of this as an interesting archaeological dig and excavate the facts until she determined who put up that wallpaper. She could probably even figure out what era the artwork was from.

Lori would see the poetry in the henna-red, dancing elephants. She’d find a spiritual metaphor in their perfect symmetry and solidarity.

When I look at it, I find the humor in it. “I hope the ones in front of me know where they’re going, cuz I’m plum lost!” Or maybe this animal team is the pachyderm version of the Rockettes. The Trunkettes?

Seeing through other people’s eyes is the key to community. Also compassion. Sometimes even comedy. I like this tiny swatch of history and humor so much that I’ve decided to leave it up on the wall. It’s a way to do what’s right for me (take down the cabinet so I don’t bump into it) and to enjoy a quirky artifact. Sure, it’s got a few flaws and dings, but don’t we all? Yep. I think it’s a keeper.

Isn’t it true that everyone is attached to their devices all the time nowadays?

I suppose we’ll all just have to accept the fact that, as a society, we’re living virtually most of the time, even in groups and at dinner.

It might be a bone of contention among the generations, but it’s the way of the world now. Of course, looking at the bright side, some people are using technology to make the world a better place, like the gamer who raised over $600,000 for St. Jude’s Hospital by playing Fortnite, or the use of virtual reality to help people with mental health issues.

Still, I can’t help relating to the grandparents in this funny ad from commonsense.org advocating a “device-free dinner.”

Heck, before you know it, advances in technology will allow us to time travel. Maybe even create new species on our devices. Poof! I just made a giraffe with zebra stripes and the bill of a platypus. Why? Why not!

I’m all for expressing opinions and connecting with communities online, but it’s easy to forget that the ones on the receiving end of mean-spirited tweets are human beings. Staying inside that social media bubble, it’s possible to lose sight of the world outside it.

It won’t be long before these times are called “the old days.” Here’s hoping we can all find a way to be with each other in a room and have a conversation, like they did in ancient times!

Have a Mary Little Christmas

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