More writing about nothing

I’m already finished with next weeks 8 blog posts for the crochet blog. I can’t publish them until the corresponding videos are uploaded to Youtube and edited and made public, and I don’t do that. So…I didn’t work much today.

I did have a couple of questions to answer, and I have to be polite when I answer questions. Someone on Youtube is upset because one of our videos didn’t show the entire process of crocheting a curtain, it just shows a sample. I don’t have the heart or guts to tell this person that, DUH, you don’t really want that video because it will be 48 HOURS LONG. You give people stuff for free and they whine about it. Sorry, not much sympathy here.

But I have to polite because I have a job title: Crochet Customer Service. Yep, I’m a CSR. That means I have to polite when people are snotty, like the 2 people on the blog that are complaining about the fact that we publish FREE ebooks that require Adobe Reader to open. I had to politely explain that Adobe Reader is an industry standard. And that they could find the free patterns on the store website and then print or save them from there. Hubby said I sounded like a helpdesk technician. Yep. That’s me.

So, we’re going camping on Thursday, Tropical Storm Arthur be damned. I think we’re far enough inland that, if Arthur decides to bother Hatteras, we will remain unaffected. Or we might be setting up a tent in the rain Thursday night. Doesn’t matter. We’re going camping.

And at some point we’re supposed to take a 4-mile hike on a trail called Fall Mountain, that is described as follows:

Fall Mountain Trail: A 4.1-mile (6.6 km) trail blazed with orange triangles, encompasses Fall Mountain in the park’s North Eastern region. It is a moderate climb up and then a steep descent down to Lake Tillery. From there, hikers walk the rest of the way along the shoreline. This trail once led to Fall’s Dam, but the trail’s path is constantly shifting due to erosion. Difficulty = Medium.

I walked 2 miles today on the shore of a local municipal lake. It was hot, but not too bad. I probably could have gone further, but coming off 2 weeks of bronchitis and other associated (or not) afflictions, I didn’t want to push things. I guess I’m going to have to push things A LOT to get up and down that mountain this weekend.

So I shall push things.

Writing about nothing

OK, so my blogging has been a tad slack recently. Actually, my blog has been ignored recently, and not just by me…but that’s another story.

There are several reasons for this sorry state of affairs, but here’s the reason that’s causing the most trouble:

I write another blog, for money.

No, it’s not one of those “I tried this miracle weight loss cure and lost 250 pounds in 6 weeks” blogs. It’s a crochet blog, and mostly what i write about is….well, not much of anything.

I have one blog post and I just repeat it over and over and over and over and you get the general idea. Here’s the post:

Here’s a crochet pattern. Here’s the yarn and hook you need. Here’s a video that shows you how to do it. If you liked this one, here’s a link to another one. Bye! Oh, and look at the pretty pictures.

That’s it. I’m supposed to be doing this for about 20 hours per week but it doesn’t take that long to write the same post 8 times and change the links. I’ve already written the posts for this week. Five of them are about, ahem, flip-flops. Yep, how to crochet around the bands of flip-flops, five different ways.

There’s a link to the crochet blog on this page. Click it, I dare you!

Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz……………………

At least the blog is written using WordPress, just like this one, so I haven’t forgotten how to blog. There’s another one that I write for the same company that’s over on Blogger.com. I hate that site. It’s not as user-friendly as this one and I don’t spend a lot of time over there so I’m always forgetting how to do things. Whatever.

So, what is really going on right now is that I’m moving toward full-blown panic. Alecto and Cletus and Kate and I are going to Mudderella in Virginia in September. I am in no way, shape or form able to do this. I started walking every day around Memorial Day and was up to 3 miles a day. Then Wubby got sick and I took him to the doctor and he shared his germs with me. It took about 48 hours for the virus to hit. Hard. Acute bronchitis. And after about five days Hubby caught it too. Kate has remained as far away from us as possible and has so far been unscathed. But it’s a nasty, mean virus.

It’s been 2 weeks and Kate and I went for a walk this morning. 1.5 miles, through Old Salem. And I didn’t cough up a lung and I didn’t die, which is a good thing. Because on Thursday Hubby and I are going camping for the weekend and have a 4 mile uphill hike planned.

Hopefully I can get back on track with the training thing. I’m not sure I will be able to run 5 miles and jump through hoops come September. But I can walk 5 miles fast and see how many hoops I can jump through.

And as long as we’re talking about getting back on track, I really should spend more time here because it’s therapeutic and I definitely need some therapy and this therapy is cheap, as in, free. Free is good, I like free.

I’ve learned that good blog posts have pretty pictures on them. This post needs a pretty picture.

buzzard rock

I’m going hiking here soon, not this weekend but soon.

 

Protected: When History repeats itself

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One more lesson

I’ve been thinking about this since my last tropical island vacation in the particular slum of Santo Domingo known as Cielo. Actually this incident didn’t occur in Cielo; it was at the leprosorium.

I’ve been to the leprosorium as many times as I’ve been to Cielo. Over the years the population has dwindled down from over 50 residents to around 18 now.  It’s hard to go there because you don’t know until you get there who you’re going to see, or not see, as the case may be.  This past January we saw something we’ve never seen before. At least I’ve never seen this before.

Other Americans were at the leprosorium. Two, a married couple from South Carolina. The wife struck up a conversation with some of the members of our group. I wasn’t in on the whole thing, but what I did hear was enough to give me pause to stop and think, and I’ve been thinking ever since.

It seems that this couple has gathered a lot of money to be used for improvements to the leprosorium facility. Lord knows it could use some improvements. The sidewalks are cracked and crumbled, making it difficult to impossible for the residents to get from their rooms to the common room where meals are served, unless they have help. The residents’ rooms are dark and dreary and depressing. The paint is peeling off the walls, inside and out.  So this couple is looking for people to provide the strong backs necessary to make some needed improvements.

But that’s not what I’ve been thinking about.

There is a small community right outside the leprosorium’s gates, and it’s a dirt poor community. Worse than Cielo. The nice lady from South Carolina mentioned that she and her husband used to work with a group of volunteers in the community to help build houses or fix up some of the broken down ones. But there was a problem.

It seems that some of the members of the community didn’t, or wouldn’t, help with the construction. They stood by and watched. And that made Mrs. South Carolina mad. Those terrible people wouldn’t lift a finger to help, and they  appeared to be perfectly capable of doing so. For that reason, she and her husband and their friends decided not to work in the community anymore, because “those people” wouldn’t help, and the people at the leprosorium “couldn’t help themselves.” And she is right about that last part: the people at the leprosorium can’t help themselves.

I had some questions for Mrs. SC, but I didn’t ask them because I didn’t really want to create a scene right there in front of the meeting room, because that’s not how I operate. I did talk through my concerns with another member of our group who had a similar reaction to what I heard.

Did I mention that I detest the phrase “those people” or “these people”? It’s a great phrase for lumping a group of people together and placing a label on their collective foreheads. I don’t like labels.

But I digress.

So, Mrs. SC, tell me…..

Did you ask the people in the community if they wanted to help? Sometimes people want to do something but will hang back until they are asked, for whatever reason. I understand that.

Did you offer to assist the folks in the community, to give them a heads up or a few words of kindness and friendship or a bit of guidance? Sometimes people want to help, but they just don’t know where to start or what to do first. They need a little direction and encouragement. I understand that too.

And yes, sometimes people just flat out don’t want to lift a finger to help and are perfectly content to watch what’s going on, knowing that they may very well benefit from someone else’s sweat equity.

Let’s say, just for fun, that the last case is indeed the truth in this instance. Does their deliberate non-participation give me the right to insult them, to proclaim that “those people” are lazy or stupid? Do I have the right to call them names? Well, yes, I suppose I do. But when I do that, what does that make me?

What would happen if I resorted to name-calling with, oh, I don’t know….my, husband or my kids? Or my friends?

I realize that I’m over-simplifying the situation, but lets face it: I’m a simple person. There’s a right way to treat people, and it’s also pretty simple: speak the truth, IN LOVE.

(spoiler alert: what follows came from that politically incorrect book, The Bible. If it offends you, just skip past the italics.)

If I speak with human eloquence and angelic ecstasy but don’t love, I’m nothing but the creaking of a rusty gate.

If I speak God’s Word with power, revealing all his mysteries and making everything plain as day, and if I have faith that says to a mountain, “Jump,” and it jumps, but I don’t love, I’m nothing.

3-7 If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but I don’t love, I’ve gotten nowhere. So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I’m bankrupt without love.

Love never gives up.
Love cares more for others than for self.
Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have.
Love doesn’t strut,
Doesn’t have a swelled head,
Doesn’t force itself on others,
Isn’t always “me first,”
Doesn’t fly off the handle,
Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others,
Doesn’t revel when others grovel,
Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,
Puts up with anything,
Trusts God always,
Always looks for the best,
Never looks back,
But keeps going to the end.

8-10 Love never dies. Inspired speech will be over some day; praying in tongues will end; understanding will reach its limit. We know only a portion of the truth, and what we say about God is always incomplete. But when the Complete arrives, our incompletness will be canceled.

11 When I was an infant at my mother’s breast, I gurgled and cooed like any infant. When I grew up, I left those infant ways for good.

12 We don’t yet see things clearly. We’re squinting in a fog, peering through a mist. But it won’t be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright! We’ll see it all then, see it all as clearly as God sees us, knowing him directly just as he knows us!

13 But for right now, until that completeness, we have three things to do to lead us toward that consummation: Trust steadily in God, hope unswervingly, love extravagantly. And the best of the three is love.

Hear me when I say this: I FAIL at living a 1st Corinthians 13 life EVERY DAY.  I don’t want to be the creaking of a rusty gate, but I know I am. The point is to keep trying.

The point is to love extravagantly, as we are extravagantly loved.

 

 

a little more from the lepers

Last year on my island  “vacation” to Cielo we made our annual trip to the leprosorium. If you’re not familiar with that term, it’s a place where people with leprosy who have been shunned from their communities are forced to live. There are also people in the Dominican Republic who suffer from leprosy but are not  shunned by their families and communities, but they still come to the leprosorium for treatment. However, those patients are sometimes faced with inappropriate comments from people in the community who may not be familiar with their disease. They face some of the same negativity as the patients who live on campus at the leprosorium, and they deserve the same courtesy offered to the full time residents.

The doctor who works at this particular facility is very thorough in his description of the three forms of leprosy, but he is most passionate about the fourth type. He calls it “leprosy of the heart”, and we all suffer from it to some degree.

Some of the symptoms of this deadly form of leprosy include:

  • an inability to empathize with the trials and tribulations of fellow human beings, be they large or small. One man’s mountain may in fact be another’s molehill, but to the man who experiences a molehill as a mountain, the height is no less overwhelming
  • an overpowering need to be right at all costs, sometimes without taking time to fully understand the circumstances of the other person or people involved
  • the need to silence any and all oppositional voices because you disagree with their opinion or assessment of a given situation
  • seeking first to be understood as opposed to understanding (Steven Covey probably wouldn’t appreciate the way I reversed that, but it fits the situation)
  • adopting a superior attitude over those who may not be as educated as you are or as versed in certain life experiences
  • and cutting to the (black) heart of the matter, being downright mean to other people, just because you can, or want to.

Yes, I have exhibited symptoms of leprosy of the heart, or call it dead heart, or closed heart. Whatever makes sense to you. I have also been on the receiving end of the pain inflicted by someone else exhibiting similar symptoms.

What to do about this?

  • Before you speak, think. Think about your words before you toss them out there, because once they’re out they can not be retrieved. Are you really trying to be helpful, or are you just feeling the need to be superior, or dare I say it, just plain obstinate?
  • Be gentle with those who may not have the luxury of your education, or whose lifestyle is not in line with your own.
  • Don’t take away someone else’s voice. You might not like what they have to say, but they have a right to a voice just as much as you do.
  • Keep in mind that your opinion on a situation may be based on gut instinct, or it may be based on your direct experience with the subject at hand. If you have no direct experience, then choose your gut instinct observation words carefully.

I could go on, but frankly I’m exhausted, as well as just plain sick and tired of the drama. To whom it may concern, you may indeed be right. But your choice of words seem to have been chosen to inflict the most damage with the fewest keystrokes. But remember this: some of the parties involved are people you have never met in person and have no direct experience with other than some rather testy confrontations on social media.

I know I suffer from leprosy of the heart. It is, for the most part, the normal human condition. My search for truth and a way to open the closed heart will take me down paths that you are not going to follow. You do, however, take great pleasure in insulting those of us who do choose paths that may not correspond with yours. Embrace that perversion if you feel you must. One other option may be to apply that previously mentioned Stephen Covey habit as he intended,  and seek first to understand, rather than to be understood. Understanding does not mean acceptance. It does mean mutual respect. I try not to hurl insults at anyone whose life philosophy is different from mine. Sometimes I fail, and when I do it hurts me to know that I may have, inadvertently or not, hurt someone else.

Trying to live with an open heart is a hard, hard thing to do. But it has been my experience that the benefits of making the attempt far outweigh the hazards of remaining closed. It’s just like the open vs. closed hand metaphor. It is impossible to accept a gift of something that could be more remarkable than anything you’ve ever received if you continue to keep your fist closed tightly around whatever it is you think you can’t give up.

I fully realize that if you indeed  read this, I am opening myself up to being on the receiving end of ridicule, condemnation or just plain old snarky meanness. Be that as it may, I am making the conscious decision to leave that behavior up to you. I am quite finished. Sometimes the only thing we can do is to close the heart back up so as to avoid any further damage.

I feel better having written it though.

Another invisible woman

That would be me, noticeably absent from this blog since August, when Kate started college. Turns out, Kate likes college, and is now a full time student and taking Russian, of all the bizarre things.

But the real question is, where have I been? Well, let’s see. I’ve been to Alecto’s house, with Kate a girlfriend in tow, introducing them to the Big City.

And I’ve been working, part time, for a local dot.com company…..writing blog posts. Aha! THAT’S why I’ve been absent from here. Because, after writing blog posts for someone else every day, I don’t really want to come here and do it for “fun”. Fortunately, my blogging job requires me to use this same blog platform so there was no real learning curve.

But next week that job changes. Less blogging, more marketing and customer service. I guess that’s a good thing. It means I do have something to offer besides my ability to compose blog posts given that the content is supplied by someone else and I just format it, add photos and slam it in. Now I have to start looking at web marketing (Facebook? Twitter? Perish the thought.)

And the week after that, it’s back to Cielo for a week.

Change is good, unless it happens

https://i1.wp.com/thumbs.dreamstime.com/z/plowed-field-5045265.jpg

Nice little quote, that one. Several years ago it appeared in various locations around our church which was, coincidentally, going through some serious changes.  Now, several years later, the church is again going through some major changes as our pastor of 22 years is retiring and going into a new ministry.

But this post isn’t really about change at our church.

Kate started college today. No, she didn’t move away from home to one of the universities she was accepted into. And no, she isn’t going to school full time. Just taking a freshman English class and a Western Civ class at the local community college. But, for her, it’s a big deal packed full of change, most of it uncomfortable. My gut tells me that she will come home in a few minutes, grinning like the proverbial donkey in the briar patch, and wondering what all the fuss was about. She’s becoming her own person, and needing us less and less as each day passes. Which is, after all, how it’s supposed to be.

Wubby is still living life on the edge, learning lessons the hard way, but learning them none the less. At least I hope he is. The only thing I can do for him at this point is pray, early and often. He takes baby steps in the right direction, and then gets sidetracked for a while. (And yes, I can hear you comment on my use of the phrase ‘right direction’. Comment away; I know what I’m talking about.)

Which leaves us, Hubby and me. We’ve been thinking about this for a while. About what it is, exactly that is keeping us here, at this geographical location we’ve called home for 27 years. You know what? I’ve never lived this long at one place in my life, ever. You know what else? I’m getting restless. Hubby’s job has been hanging by a thread for several years know, and that thread could break on any give day. We’ve laughed and dreamed about moving somewhere else: mountains maybe, beach more likely.

I think I’ve hit the mid-life crisis wall, dead on, at 120 mph. And it hurts. Actually it’s not the speed that hurts as much as it is that sudden stop. My thoughts are all tied up in knots about how much time I have left, and all the things I still have, and want, to do. About how many mistakes I’ve made so far and what on earth was I thinking when I made them….or what on earth I wasn’t thinking, etc. Where do I belong? Do I belong here, there…anywhere? I heard someone on the radio this week talking about how to plow a field in straight rows with a tractor. His advice went like this: look across the field to the place where you want your row to end, focus on that point, don’t look down at the ground as you drive the tractor over it. Keep looking at the goal, and when you get there, look back at the row you just plowed and be amazed at how straight it is.

Does it really work like that? I haven’t driven a tractor since I was about 12, and my grandfather was “helping”. Who’s helping now? and what am I focusing on at the end of the row? I wish I knew.