Woe! It’s Wednesday: A Rose By Any Other Name …

I feel the need to confess. The burden has grown in the last few months and I can no longer carry it.

I don’t do nicknames. In fact … I hate nicknames.

My nickname phobia has one major exception.

Senior woman using computer

If, when we meet, I’m introduced to you by your nickname, I will happily call you by the nickname for the rest of eternity.

But you cannot be introduced to me as … Millicent Penelope Ewing, and then a few months or a few years later decide that you wish to be called Millie Pillie. You are in my brain as Millicent and Millicent you shall forever be.

So people who wish to be called by a nickname and wonder why I don’t go along, now you know.

It seems to me that if your parents wanted to name you Millipede or Sista Pup, or any of the many, many variations of every name created by younger siblings learning to talk, your parents would have named you that to begin with.

I’m not ranting or upset, I just thought I should explain why I continue to call you and/or your kids by the name I met you as.

 

I’ve tried to do the nickname thing. I’ve tried to come up with them, I’ve tried to call others by them. The best I can do is a kind of halting, swallowed amalgamation of your given name and your nickname.

I finally gave up. Millicent you were, Millicent you are, and Millicent you forever will be. Just saying … It’s a thing with me.

What’s your “thing”? Who else has something kind of weird, kind of goofy that they can’t go along with? I’m dying to know.

Well, not literally “dying,” but genuinely curious. Really!

 

 

Woe! It’s Wednesday: Forgiveness

Forgiveness does not come naturally. At least to me, it doesn’t.

I’m sure you’re much better at forgiving others than I am.

Portrait of sad child

Although I do seem able to move on sooner than some other people I could mention, but I’m trying to be modest here, so I’m going to focus on my issues with forgiveness.

I know all the usual answers:

  • To forgive is to set a prisoner free, and discover the prisoner was you. ~ Lewis Smedes
  • Holding a grudge is like drinking poison and waiting for other person to die ~ Many attributes but I first heard it from Carrie Fisher
  • To err is human; to forgive, divine. ~ Alexander Pope
  • Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors. ~ The Lord’s Prayer

I recently came across one more quote. It stopped me right where I was, reached in my chest, gave my heart a little rub, and then whispered in my ear, “This. This is what you’ve been feeling.”

Here it is:

To forgive somebody is to say one way or another, ‘You have done something unspeakable, and by all rights I should call it quits between us. Both my pride and my principles demand no less. However, although I make no guarantees that I will be able to forget what you’ve done, and though we may both carry the scars for life, I refuse to let it stand between us. I still want you for my friend.’ ~ Frederick Buechner

I’ve come and read this again and again in the week since I first found it. It still stops me.

So much wisdom.

So much truth.

Detail of a Christmas quilt with scissors

 

My pride doesn’t want me to forgive others. Pride wants me to wrap my grudge around myself like a warm winter quilt.

The only problem is that eventually that quilt gets thin and smelly. Much like a grudge.

It fades until no one else can see the colors and shapes.

“Here.” I point to a faded triangle of red paisley. “This is when you called me a name. And here”–I rub a green rectangle–“here is when someone else spread gossip.” I can go on, identifying each patch in the ratty old quilt. But eventually even I have to admit I’m the only one who cares anymore.

It’s easier to recognize that although I have a “right” to my hurt feelings, the only one being punished is me.

What about you? Does forgiveness come naturally? Or am I the only one who struggles?

 

Woe! It’s Wednesday: Reputations

There’s an old Shakespeare quote: “Some are born great, some achieve greatness, some have greatness thrust upon them.

POBoxWe’ve been wrangling with the post office this week. Two families have been receiving mail here for the last ten months. A change of address form was submitted last week for three people. That leaves three people still getting mail here.

Except someone at the post office decided to have all the mail with this address forwarded out of state.

That included some things Stud Muffin and I had ordered.

It took a trip to the post office and multiple calls to find out our mail was on its way to Idaho. A state I’ve never visited, by the way. But my new underwear, ordered from Amazon, will have visited! undies

The post office has become such a source of derision and frustration, that I wondered today:

Does the United States Post Office seek to hire apathetic jerks who don’t give a rip? Or do they hire hard working, conscientious people and train them to become apathetic jerks who don’t give a rip?

In other words, was the post office born incompetent, did it achieve incompetence, or did it have incompetence thrust upon it?

Has it grown too large to sustain itself?

I don’t know the answers to any of that. I just know that before my underwear is ever worn, it will have traveled more this summer than I did.

Woe! It’s Wednesday

Summer is still here for another six weeks.

So why does it feel like it’s almost over? Each day seems to go by more quickly than the one before.

I know part of the reason is that many schools have already started classes or are about to.

summer-photographer-pier-adventureDidn’t summer break used to be nearly three months long? It’s down to less than two months for most kids now.

I know the argument for having year-round school: students retain more when they don’t take a break. And we’re no longer an agrarian society with family farms that need all hands on the plow for the summer growing and harvest season.

But something about having that summer break just seems to fit with our natural God-given biological rhythms. We stay up later. We get up earlier (well, some people do).

Each year we plan to take a grandchild on some sort of trip or adventure. We — okay I, really want to take them to Southern California to visit some of the places we used to take their parents. The Space Museum. Griffith Park Observatory. Gene Autry Museum. A Dodger game. The beach.

The most we managed this year was a long weekend and a visit to the Fossil Discovery Center.  We did get to go swimming a few times and watched some movies.

But I’m writing on next year’s calendar right now to plan some summer trips.

Woe! It’s Wednesday

I’ve been quiet here a long time, but I’m planning to be more intentional with my blog and posts.

I know, I know, the road to hell and all that …

Sarmizegetusa Regia 2011 - Dacian Paved Road
Sarmizegetusa Regia 2011 – Dacian Paved Road

By Codrinb (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 ro (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/ro/deed.en)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

It’s been a busy few months around here.

I hesitate to say this, but I feel like I can catch my breath now. Every time I’ve felt that way for the last two or three years, something has happened to leave me gasping and feeling kicked in the teeth by life. So we’ll just pretend I didn’t say that, and move on. Okay?

So far this summer we’ve been to San Diego for the Romance Writers of America® national conference where we had a great time. Stud Muffin visited the world-famous zoo, the Maritime Museum, and the Midway. I spent four days walking around the Marriott Marquis and feeling right at home surrounded by writers.

We took the grand-daughters to tour an alpaca farm and to see pygmy goats. It was a fun outing although there were no alpacas to be found. The goats were adorable!

This week we plan to take the grand-girls to the local dinosaur fossil museum.

We’ve only got so much time to cram in the fun!

 

 

Woe! It’s Wednesday

A lovely person died recently. Her name was Mavis and I knew her a long time ago.

We were in a Bible study/diet accountability group together. She was older than me. Older than my mother, in fact. But we met together weekly for probably ten years. Even after our group stopped meeting, we continued to exchange letters and Christmas cards.

We had lots of things in common. We loved books and reading. We loved Hawaii. We loved our families. She grew up in Kingsburg, not far from I live now, and we both knew the Central Valley well.

When my family moved out of the area, we continued to keep in touch. When Mavis’s health grew more frail and she went into assisted living, her daughter kept up the annual tradition of letting Mavis’s Christmas card list know how she was doing.

2015’s card said Mavis was quite weak, but she had hit the century mark back in October.

Monday, I got the note that she had died on February 13.

I let my girls know and they both remembered Mavis well. The picture on the note was just how we remember her. Short gray hair, sweet smile.

The only time I ever saw Mavis angry was when she was telling our group about a conversation with her doctor. She’d lost a bit of weight and expected the doctor to tell her she’d done well and to keep it up. Instead he said, “Well, Mavis, you’ll never be svelte.”

She was spitting nails as she repeated that. “I don’t care about svelte! I care about healthy. What a jerk!”

Svelte or not, Mavis was indeed healthy, living to 100 years old. I bet that doctor has been dead a long time.

Seems that Mavis got the last word after all. As it should be.

 

Woe! It’s Wednesday: Waiting and waiting and wait…

This year’s holiday season is full of firsts.

We have a grandson due any minute as I write this (Sunday). He’ll likely make his appearance today, so by the time you read this, he’ll already be three days old. But yesterday was going to be his birthday, and we thought Friday might be it, and we thought … well, you get the idea.

So we have our first grandson, our first December grandchild, our first Christmas while Dave’s been working again, so we have a Christmas break like teachers and students. He’s also been remodeling our bathroom. But each day, each week, other urgent things take his attention. He’s looking forward to this break to finish that project.

Being on baby alert means making all plans with a big question mark. It means my gifts should be wrapped by now (they aren’t) and all my baking should be done (it isn’t).

But who cares?? There’s a new baby coming to town!

Woe! It’s Wednesday

This post is about why I’ve been not blogging for the last month.

I think both of my blog readers are also Facebook friends, so this won’t be news to anyone, I don’t think.

But we’ve had an awful November. In fact, with one or two exceptions, the whole last two years have been awful. We’ve gone through an arrest, the judicial process, and health issues.

Just when you think things may be looking up, you’re hit again.

I read a quote from St. Theresa of Avila recently: “Dear Lord, if this is how You treat Your friends, it is no wonder You have so few!”

Preach it, Sister Theresa. I’m right there with you.

For the most part I haven’t really questioned God or railed at him. Until this last blow.

LauraOur beautiful, funny, fun, witty, amazing niece Laura Padgett Brickey lost her fight with non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma on November 10th.

She was sick for just over a year, diagnosed just under a year before she died.

I’m usually more like Job who came to realize that if we accept God’s blessings, we must also accept it when things not-so-good happen.

But this time He went too far. I’m still angry. I know I’ll eventually get over it (and myself) but for now I’m letting myself be angry, sad, in denial, or whatever I need to feel to get through this time.

Laura was two months younger than my oldest and they were the best of friends all their lives. We saw Laura in the hospital the day she was born and she was the most beautiful baby I’d ever seen (next to my own, of course), and I fell completely in love with her and that never changed.

“She lights up the room whenever she walks in,” is a cliche’ but it’s true about Laura. She always had a joke or an observation to share. She was tall, blonde, and hysterically funny, an unbeatable combination.

Laura was married to DJ for ten years and they have a three-year-old. She left devastated friends and family and broken hearts when she left us. I’ve shared a lot of memories on Facebook so I’ll only add one more here. Her dad reminded me of this one at her memorial service. When she was a year old, her family moved from Madera to Clovis, at the time a suburb of Fresno. It’s now more like an extension of the bigger city with brown street signs instead of green. A freeway was built to connect the two cities and to help commuters from Clovis to downtown Fresno. It was an expansion of a rural route. Laura decided her little hometown could never have a freeway and refused to even acknowledge it, much less drive on it. To my knowledge, she never did drive on it and never willingly rode in a car on it. The freeway opened when she was a young adult and when she was a passenger going on the overpass over the freeway, she would avert her gaze so she didn’t have to see it.

Laura was a peacemaker. She couldn’t stand to see people she loved at odds with each other. She didn’t always make things better, but she tried and her heart was in the right place. I think now that God gave her that gift so He could take her and she’d know she’d done everything humanly possible to bring reconciliation to all her relationships.

I miss her as much today as I did the day she died. I pray often for her husband, daughter, parents and siblings. And when I join her, I’m going to have a serious talk with God about why He thought this was a “good” idea. I’ve come to the realization that Romans 8:28 isn’t really about what I think is “good.” What is good for me is what makes me more into the image of Christ. So yes, all things work together for “good,” in that even the bad stuff makes me more patient, kind, humble, generous, faithful, i.e. more like Christ. But so far, this loss has just made me angry, hurt, and hurting.

I do trust that someday I might know why. I definitely trust that I will see Laura again and get to spend eternity with her and Jesus. In fact, she better be there to welcome me or I’ll be highly upset.

In the meantime, Laura’s family and mine appreciate so the prayers and encouragement we’ve received.

Woe! It’s Wednesday: Do you NaNo?

I’m deep in the throes of NaNoWriMo.

For those non-writers out there, that stands for National Novel Writing Month. It happens every November. Writers join NaNoWriMo for accountability and fellowship. They each vow to write 50,000 words in the month of November. That’s an average of 1,667 words a day. Not impossible at all. At the end of the month, you should end up with a short, rough, dirty, ugly first draft of a novel.

I’ve attempted NaNo five times in the past and completed it four times. I then spend the better part of the next year rewriting and polishing that ugly thing into something a bit more presentable and suitable for public viewing.

One of the benefits of NaNo is that it gets you in the habit of writing every day. Or on the days you skip, you’re still thinking about your story and letting it percolate, so when you sit down to do twice as many words the next day, they should flow. In theory.

Typically I start strong, right on track for the first week. The middle two weeks are hit and miss. I’m usually seriously behind by at least 15,000 words coming into the final week. Then I put my head down and my fingers on the keyboard and type until the I hit 50,000, usually around 10 PM on November 30th.

In the weeks before November 1, forums and blogs and the Twitterverse are full of people talking about the outlines they’re making, the character sketches they’re completing and how they’re sharpening their pencils in anticipation of NaNo.

I, on the other hand, open a new document on November 1 and start writing the story that’s been brewing in my head for the last couple of months.

I’m writing this post before Wednesday. It’s actually still November 1. I wrote 1802 words today.

Writers love NaNo because it gets us back on track if we’ve strayed from a disciplined writing schedule. I love this quote from Nora Roberts: “You don’t find time to write. You make time to write.” NaNo helps me make time to write. I don’t have publisher deadlines or other exterior motivation. It has to come from within. My critique group is one exterior motivation I rely on. NaNo is the other.

Non-writers are not quite so enthusiastic. This is a real conversation in my house earlier tonight:

Me: Do you know what day it is?

Stud Muffin: … um … the first day of the rest of my life?

Me: Besides that.

SM: … um … November 1st?

Me: Yes. And November 1st is …?

SM: {blank look}

Me: The first day of … NaNoWriMo!

Sm: Oh. NO!

Yes, it’s November. That means Veterans Day, Thanksgiving (in the US) and NaNoWriMo. It’s a good month.

Woe! It’s Wednesday: Being Brave, part 2

Well, I did my second brave thing this week.

A question was asked on one of my writers’ online email loops. I wrote a response, prayed, and clicked send. Then the wifi connection dropped.

braveRats.

Then I had second thoughts.

I decided not to send it.

I went in to my email to delete it from the outbox.

And watched it sail away.

Oh well, I told myself. You were brave. That’s the main thing.

There have been a few comments that I’ve responded to off the loop. Then yesterday a message came through that the officers in charge of the loop were crafting a response to me.

Ooops.

I’m soooo not a pot stirrer. Not a drama addict. I’m a keep-the-peace-at-all-costs kind of girl.

Gulp.

I wailed to one of my besties, “WHAT HAVE I DONE??!!” She talked me off the ledge. She reminded me that I didn’t say anything inflammatory. What I said needed to be said and it needed to be heard.

So …

If i let myself wallow, I start to panic again. Will my hand get slapped? Will I be scolded? Then I climb back off the ledge and remember the important things:

I was brave.

I addressed something that needed to be addressed.

I was brave.

This stuff is harder than I thought it would be.