Rough chop can have various meanings, depending on who’s saying it.

A French chef saying, “You’ll just want to do a rough chop of your vegetables for this stew” is one thing. If the pilot says on the overhead speaker, “We’re in for some rough chop ahead”, that’s a whole different story.

Tension isn’t always a bad thing. It’s necessary if you’re playing a guitar. Or knitting.

And pressure isn’t always a negative thing. In the shower, with shampoo in your hair, you want strong water pressure. But when it comes to the human psyche, it’s a whole different story.

Did you ever wonder about those friends of yours that you only see once in a blue moon? Doesn’t it seem like they’ve fallen off the face of the Earth? It could be that they need to re-charge their batteries after reaching a threshold of sorts. It’s probably not you. It’s the whole human circus of sights, sounds, smells. Personalities. Interactions. Micro-aggressions. Traffic jams.

I know for a fact that I ghost people, even people I love. My psyche says it’s time to hibernate. It doesn’t mean I don’t love you. It means some sort of relief valve has tripped, and for the sanctity of my soul, for the sanity of my mind, I have to decompress. De-escalate. Disconnect. Even from dear friends. It releases the internal build-up of steam so I don’t reach the point of melt down.

You wouldn’t say to a bear, Where have you been? You’ve been a no-show all winter! That’s what she has to do to survive.

What if, just for today, we showed up for the ones who never show up? We’ve got your back till you get back. Once you know the facts behind the facade, it’s a whole different story.

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Have you ever had a dream so vivid that you felt as if it was a message from the universe? It happened to me yesterday at 5 AM, so I bolted out of bed to write it down.

A lovely voice was singing to the tune of Al Green’s “So Tired of Being Alone” with different lyrics.

She sang:

When you’re out of here

When you can’t go on

When you feel like giving up wherever you go

And it bothered me. My first thought was to worry that my son might be feeling this way, so before he left for work yesterday, I told him about the dream and asked him if he was feeling like that. He said he wasn’t. I said, “I’m aware that I don’t always leave open avenues for our actually communicating. Often, I come at you with tasks or concerns instead of listening.” I asked the second question. “Do you want to talk about anything going on in your life right now?” He really listened to what I said. He told me he knew he could talk to me, and that he was okay.

Who was this message for?

In that patented Nicely-Noodgy way I have, I’m now in the process of cycling through my list of loved ones and contacting them. You okay? Had this dream. Want to make sure you’re feeling copasetic.

So when you ask the people in your life, “Are you okay?” and they say, “I’m fine,” ask the second question. “How are doing, really?”

Check on your loved ones.

Don’t tune out.

Check in with your soul.

Don’t check out.

We’d love it if you stuck around. We’ll stick by you. Let’s make it better, together.

P.S. If you need to talk, the National Suicide Prevention Hotline number is 800-273-TALK (8255).

We lost our boy. Jaspurr was nineteen — that’s a long time to know a person, much less a cat (which is what Jassy was). His name (pronounced Jasper) stemmed from his loud and enthusiastic motor. He was a lover, a cuddler, a lap kitty. He was, as our dear pet sitter described him (and like Frankie whom I wrote about last week), the matriarch of the family: It was because of Jaspurr’s loving instincts that we were able to have eleven cats in our home at one time. He took care of everybody. Now he is gone, along with the rest of his adopted kin. He was, as my mother would say, the last of the Mohicans.

Sometimes terrible doubts grasp me: What if there is no heaven? It’s not fear for myself that motivates me — the idea of oblivion is terrifying, of course, but I don’t mind so much for myself as for Jaspurr and our other lost pets. Surely there must be a forever place for him? He did nothing but love with his whole heart every day of his life.

I find myself arguing transitive qualities, like a proof in geometry: If I love Jaspurr and God loves me, then…. But it’s useless trying to wrap my brain around it. Jaspurr was good, and if good survives beyond this life, then surely he does, too.

There is only one way to deal with this grief and it is to walk through it. I have to imagine Jaspurr in paradise, a paradise he understands, filled with dishes of cereal milk and all his friends. Here’s a haiku to celebrate:

A pause in heaven —
gentle tiger-striped rumblings —
a cat has come home.

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!

Probably about 5 years ago, we decided to try an experiment with Summer Bible School. Instead of having a week-long event for the children, meeting each morning, we would do three evenings for all ages.  Not surprisingly, I taught the adults.

To the surprise of many of the adults, we had craft time the same as the children.  Each person got to ink a quilt square.  The lady in charge was absent that night, replaced by her son, a college student.  “Draw whatever it is that makes you think of church.”  I had stepped out when it was the children’s turn and a few sat in thought but before long they were all drawing.  Some chatting.  Some laughing.  Having fun.

When it was time for the adults to take their turn, we received the instructions.  No one moved.  Then the questions started.  “Can we do this?”  “Is this right?”  “What about…”

The same assignment, two entirely different responses.  For the most part, the adults managed to take a fun craft and turn it into WORK.  That’s a four-letter word in case you didn’t notice.

JOY.  Three letters.  And a completely different attitude.

I’d love to think that I approach the tasks that God gives me with this JOY but I have my suspicions that it would be a good idea to remember to do this more often.

–SueBE

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?

Respect your body. That’s one of the basic tenets of yoga.  What you could do yesterday is irrelevant.  You are dealing with your body today.  You may be able to stretch further and hold the pose longer today.  Or not.  Your body changes from day-to-day based on sleep, food, movement, health, age and weather.  The one constant is change.

Change really is a constant.  The seasons change.  If you live in Missouri like I do, the seasons can change two or three times a week.  Weather changes.  Attitudes change, what we accept as truth changes, and so much more.

So why do we fight change?  It would make a lot more sense to accept it as a part of life.

That doesn’t mean that we should work for a better tomorrow.  But it does mean that we need to open our eyes and look at today.  Yesterday?  Nope.  It is, as they say, done and gone. Tomorrow will be different but with a little effort it may turn out even better than we anticipated.

Change will happen.

–SueBE

 

 

Have a Mary Little Christmas

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