Archive for the ‘Life Challenges’ Category

Teachable Me

I sit in the pews most Sunday mornings, participating in and absorbing wisdom (as much as I’m capable of) in a caring, supportive community. Each Sunday offers something of pertinence or utility in my weekly travels. This past Sunday, however…
Rev. Tim Kutzmark’s sermon was titled “Where the Rubber Meets the Road.” I was pretty sure that its focal point would not be travel or tire wear. It ended up, however, being one of those unforgettable messages – the ones that resonate completely and get mentally revisited on a regular basis.
The gist of the sermon: it’s easy to be kind, loving, tolerant, gracious, wise, etc., in theory, but it’s the every-day challenges that offer us the biggest opportunities to be our better selves, to live our beliefs, to learn to be better human beings.
Now, this is not rocket science – but the special twist that strengthened this sermon’s impact was the revelation that the greatest personal growth opportunities masquerade as difficult people, traffic gridlock, slow checkout lines, and other mundane irritations. Most of us don’t have the opportunity to solve BIG problems such as world hunger, climate destruction, or global strife, but we do encounter numerous opportunities in our daily travels to live our beliefs and to be the people we admire.
In the few days since hearing that sermon I’ve been on a minor mission, striving to recast those people who push my buttons and those situations that set me to muttering under my breath, raging at the clouds, or tossing in a sleepless bed at night. Rather than launch into a tirade (whether visible or internal), I’m trying to embrace the opportunity to let go of the anger/frustration, and find a better path for myself. Those difficult people and frustrating situations are not my demons, but rather my angels for they have the power to put me on the higher road where, as we all know, there is so much less traffic.
Maybe that sermon was about travel after all.

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Wish I’d known…

This leg brace is an impressive product that would have shortened my 10 months on crutches. Maybe next time (just kidding).

Check out the YouTube video.

I hear music

This is a cautionary tale of a life experience coming to a household near you at some time in the future.

The background: I seldom set an alarm – usually get up around 6:30 – but I had a 7 a.m. meeting last Wednesday, so I set my clock radio for 5 a.m. All was well – I arrived at work in time for the meeting.

Fast forward to Thursday night: I stayed up way too late, but was getting settled for the night and realized that I heard music – not terribly loud, not offensive, but it was after 11 p.m. I peered out my window, saw a car parked in front of my neighbor’s house. Considered that it might be one of the teenagers who live across the street. I closed my window. Still heard the music but thought it might be coming through the other bedroom window – I wasn’t going to hobble over to that window to close it. Tried to go to sleep but couldn’t.

So I did what any citizen would do – I called the local police and told them that someone was playing music – perhaps the car parked in front of my neighbor’s house. They graciously said they would send a patrol car to investigate. I finally went to sleep.

Fast forward to Friday night: I toddled up to bed, got all comfy, was reading my book, when I realized that – again – I heard music.

I finally put all the pieces together and turned off the clock radio.

As I said, a cautionary tale…

Lessons from a Broken Leg

I’ve been railing against the gods, in resentment that my broken leg has become my entire universe. The 4+ months I’ve spent so far (mostly on the couch in the TV room) and the prospect of still more surgery and recuperation has offered a rich opportunity to whine.
It’s certainly true that the sudden change in mobility is a factor in almost every action but, in a conversation with my good friend Eleanor, I realized that a number of revelations and insights have emerged during my unplanned couch time. Dare I call them blessings?
I’m going to start a list here and add to it as additional insights emerge.
#1 – My sweet tooth just seems to have been left behind on the icy steps last January. Yeah, I eat a few ginger snaps every once in a while, but the raging desire for refined sugar is pretty much absent.
#2 – I’ve lost weight, no doubt in part due to #1 above. True, most of weight loss seems to be due to the departure of muscle tone in my left leg, but I’ll take whatever I can get in that department. A silver lining: it’s such a hassle to get up and crutch to the kitchen that I’ve pretty much stopped snacking between meals.

#3 – I’ve learned (grudgingly) to accept help from kind-hearted folks. My fierce desire to be free of dependence on others has subsided. All those delivered meals, grocery runs, household chores, and supportive phone calls and emails – from my church community, my neighbors, co-workers, and long-time friends – have driven home the point that I cannot be all that independent. Nor should I try to be. I’m such a fan of community, one would think that I’d learned this lesson long ago.
#4 – Live in the moment. This is a big-time lesson. Every estimate I’ve made (for healing, mobility, etc.) has proven wrong; every prediction I’ve made has proved false (or overly optimistic); my hopes for fast healing have been dashed on the rocks. Just be here, now. Accept.

Oh, the holidays

turkey1So, we’re in the holiday season – a treacherous time of year. Too much food, too much consumerism (although maybe not this year), too much family. Excess everywhere.

Halloween, a month-long extravaganza of refined sugar, costume parties and festive yard displays is over. We’ve hauled the extra candy into the office to foist on our dieting coworkers, and the Christmas onslaught has begun.

Thanksgiving gets crunched in the middle – not much in the way of inflatable yard displays or colored lights, but boy do we make up for it with that one big obscene meal. Sales for butter and miniature marshmallow (yuk) must skyrocket in mid-November. The other thing that skyrockets is anxiety – Norman Rockwell really set our expectations for the perfect family reunion. Despite our better judgment – we know that all those family members won’t change their stripes, not even for one day a year – we travel to whatever we’re defining as “home” and fool ourselves into believing that it will be a Perfect Day.

We eat far too much – what other day of the year includes a meal of multiple courses, seven vegetables, gravy (when else do I ever make gravy?), butter, cream, big helpings, four desserts, and football. Perhaps we’re stoking up for the shopping season which, for some sorry folks, starts the day after. The economic meltdown may alter the usual scenario this year, but Thanksgiving is a strange holiday indeed.

This year I’m tasked with bringing appetizers for seven diners. Shouldn’t be difficult. I’m planning on three dishes – some spiced nuts, vegetables and dip, and a fat-laden cheese tart thing. Of course I will make enough to feed the 101st Airborne – you never know when they might drop in.

And then I’ll think about Christmas.