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Do you remember those little label guns?  The kind with the revolving alphabet and the colorful strips of label tape?  You would spin the alphabet to the desired letter and then press the trigger, which would cause the letter to be stamped onto the tape.  The letters would be raised and felt all bumpy when running your fingers over the finished product.  Once you had spun and punched out the desired word or words, you would pump the trigger a couple of times to make the tape long enough to cut without spoiling your last letter. 

Then came another part, the part of peeling the backing from the tape, leaving the adhesive so you could then position the label wherever your heart desired and then press it into place where the label would live happily ever after.  Or until you decided to replace it with another label or somebody rubbed the bumpy little ridges too much and dislodged the brightly colored identifier. 

That is when the fun would come to a screeching halt or if that sounds a little too dramatic when discussing the life of a label, that’s when the adhesive hell would begin.  The hell of removing the sticky white-ish adhesive residue crap that the once merry and useful label left behind.  You see that is when the polish remover would come galloping in to the rescue to make the world right again or at least less sticky. 

This morning I was thinking about labels.  That human need to categorize most anything and everything that comes down the pike, around the bend, over the hill and in our dales.  I think naming, labeling and categorizing serves to help make sense of our lives, our worlds so to speak and in making sense then we feel safer, less vulnerable to the largeness of life. 

What I am pondering today is whether the labels I have chosen ~ spelled, punched and stuck to the walls of my psyche ~ whether they are helpful or harmful, clarifying or stigmatizing.  What labels might need to be re-named, revised or simply done away with.  The worst that could happen would be some sticky residue left behind, right?  And I know where I keep my polish remover.  Truth be known, I always had a little crush on the label gun and those bumpy little letters so even if the revised label ends up not fitting, there can be as many do-overs as needed.

Where I work there is a department called the Transitional Services Unit (TSU) that helps incarcerated youth return to their communities.  I understand that it was not that many years ago that this unit did not exist and that youth who had aged out of the juvenile justice system were simply released.  Set out on the curb so to speak.  Now each departing youth has a team who works with them and on their behalf to help them navigate the numerous changes and challenges. 

This morning, I realized that I need one of these TSUs of my very own.  Now whether or not I would make good use of their offered services, I do nots know for sure.  But I cannot help but think that there might be some comfort in just knowing I had this team of humans who were looking out and ahead for me, even for a little while. 

Because where I am today is a familiar place.  Familiar but full of danger and darkness.  This place where I end up after the ground opens underneath me and I experience the free fall into depression, a cavern of great depth.  This time, I did what I used to do many years ago, I pretended I was not falling ~ for a while.  That is until either the invisible tether securing me to the landscape of life, separated or the growing velocity of the plunge forced me to admit I was in this place, once again. 

I must snap out of my funk.  Create toe and finger holds to climb, pull and grunt my way to the surface.  Pronto.  Today is my middle grandson’s 14th birth day family celebration.  I love this boy, dearly.  I am to bring the cheese bread.  Cheese bread ~ his Grammie’s cheese bread ~ is one of his most favorite foods.  To not show up, cheese bread in tow, is not acceptable.  I love this boy. 

So I must figure my way out of this quagmire of self indulgent angst once again in order to leave my home, get in Buster Blue, drive to the grocery, purchase the ingredients, return home, make the cheese spread, drive to my daughter’s home, participate in the family birth day celebration and be part of my life ~ part of my middle grandson’s life. 

Where are the TSU personnel?  Hello?  Can you hear me? 

With or without other human help, I must assist mine own self.  I have been in this place before, many times in fact.  Surely I must know the way up and out.  I will look for some markers and familiar signs pointing ahead.

One of the wonders of modern living holds sway over me still and most likely always will.  The ability to turn on the tap and have potable water appear ~ instantly appear and then with a slight flick of the wrist make it hot or return it to an icy coldness.  Now that is life in the fast lane, baby.  And we haven’t even mentioned the luxury of the flush toilet.  Oh my!

I grew up in rural areas.  My childhood was a blend spent between the Pacific coast and the Atlantic Shoreboard.  The constant being the oceans and country living.  For most of those years we lived without plumbing or electricity.  Sometimes we had electricity and no plumbing.  My adoptive parents liked to say that they had running water, they’d just send me and my sister running to fetch it.  Yep, that was a real knee slapper, their little joke.  Explains though my life long awe of running water that does not require me walking for over a quarter of a mile or more and making like a pack mule hauling back 5-gallon bright red plastic jugs or multiple re-purposed white bleach bottles of the clear liquid. 

Although I have yet to taste a sweeter more pure cup of water than what ran in one of the springs on a homestead in a faraway place, I have to say that the trade off has proved worth the exchange over time. 

So earlier today while I was letting the hot water sluice through my hair I closed my eyes and said a little thank you to the Running Water Goddess and the Universe at large, for such a gift in my daily life.  This blessing of running water.  A blessing that millions of my species do not have access to, whose very lives revolve around the seeking and retrieving of this liquid manna. 

Life is about perspective.  At least my life today seems to be and just a little shift in my focus has helped me participate in my life in this moment.  Helped me send up a prayer of gratitude to the Running Water Goddess and loosen my hold on what was feeling a lot like the running water blues.

I am off of the main drag taking a side road that’s unpaved and overgrown. 

I think I may have missed the Detour signage.

Yes.  I just might get out of my own way…  any minute now. 

Yes.  Out of my own way, I might just move. 

There seems to be a slight problem, a little thorn in the side of the rose.  In fact, there most definitely is a blockade preventing me from moving over, which would then allow me to get out of my own way.  The problem is my exhaustion. 

Yes.  The utterly fatigued state of my being is locking me into place like molasses on a right cold night. 

Not getting a good night’s sleep for so long that I cannot recall when the last time was that I had a good night’s sleep will get me every time.  Gets me in this bone weary and slate wiped clean state of mind. 

Even with all of that, I am still holding out a little hope that I just might be able to move out of my own way.  Sometime in the future.  Hopefully sometime in the near and soon future.  A move I might make.

Should I stay or should I go?  This question has me off kilter, off balance, out of sync.  Centered I am not. 

It seems this question of where I will live or more specifically, where will I grow roots has been a long asked question.  One that hovers over me sort of like a lazy man’s lasso ~ too loopity-looped to really ensnare anything.  For all the years that I lived in California attending grad school, I was unsettled.  This condition was due, in large part, in knowing that upon graduation, I would be called upon to make a decision ~ to choose between a warmer clime and those whom I call my family.  The choice though is never that simple or at least it feels laden with much more. 

I chose to return to the Land of Almost Always Winter to be close to my clan.  And now here I am again at the crossroad of choice.  Do I apply for a position in a much warmer climate near the ocean or do I take a pass and continue on here?  If I take my familia out of the equation, I have to admit there would still be considerations.  Things like a regular paycheck at a job that I will have held for a year next week, a rented living space that I like (even with the leaky roof) and a few local friends whom I enjoy their company.  And then, of course, there is the little or actually big fact of not having to pack up and move, again. 

Now, some might say that I am putting the cart before the horse.  I mean really, why don’t I just go ahead and apply for the position and then consider all of this other stuff.  Well because in order to apply, I must request letters of recommendation and only want to ask this favor of colleagues if I am truly interested in the job.  Plus, I realized that it’s go time as in let’s get it together and figure out where I am going to commit to living for a while.  If I am going to stay put then I could and should (beware of the should says a little voice) begin taking the steps to open a small private practice in addition to my 4-day work week. 

Come on self.  What’s the hold up?  The hang up?  What exactly is the sticky wicket?  The answers are here within my heart and mind.  Right?  Allowing myself to know what I know is easier said than done in the moment.

Many times it is the small things in life that can make the whole difference in a day.  My granddaughter reminded me of this elementary fact earlier today.  During our lunch, she had spied a green balloon amongst the bright-colored balloon bouquet festooning the hostess station.  Being the smart little girl who she is as well as a planner, she had informed me and her mommy that she hoped the one lone green ballon could be hers before we left the dining establishment.  My daughter, being the straighforward caretaker who she is, responded by telling her daughter to ask for what she wanted. 

Sure enough, after we had finished eating and paying our check, my granddaughter asked the hostess if she could please have the green balloon.  And guess who left the restaurant with a bright green helium balloon attached to her small wrist?  My daughter’s daughter.  Yes, she did. 

As I walked beside my daughter and her daughter to our respective cars, I couldn’t help smiling and wishing that life could always remain so simple.  Wishing that a bright green balloon could put a smile on each of our faces for the rest of the afteroon.  Or barring that, until it accidentally popped or was released to the heavens.  By then, another easily found joy would have taken its place. 

Maybe life is still that simple.  If so, make mine a purple one, please.  Balloon, that is.

I think that might be what happened this morning.  I may have gotten up on the wrong side of the bed.  I have felt sort of scritchity and grumpy off and on today. 

Good thing that I get to start over again at any given moment in any given season.  My slate can be wiped clean ~ a new page turned ~ a serenity prayer uttered and sent swiftly skyward bound ~ a cleansing breath inhaled and exhaled, leaving space for peace to enter. 

Yes, choices are a darned good thing.  I hope I choose to change lanes soon.  I could make a U-turn and head the opposite direction.  I could cross over to the sunny side of the street. 

And yet I sense that I am not quite ready to make the change.  Maybe I will just let myself drift in the eddies for a while.  There is value in each state of mind, each mood that visits us.  I think I will choose to be still and let myself breathe and just be.  Be, right where I am in this moment.

Life in the moment is good.  Very good.  Too good.  At least too good to wait until November to formally give our honor and thanks~giving for this abundant life. 

So my family and I are gathering this evening for a spring Thanksgiving Feast.  There will be the American dinner icons ~ turkey, mashed taters, gravy all served up with loads of yummy side dishes.  My daughter sparked the idea last week and the rest of her clan quickly climbed onboard. 

Life is good.  And when it is this good, one must eat.  Eat delicious homecooked food and sip a bubbly beverage, or two.  And you know me, who am I to swim against the tide ~ at least when it comes to celebrations.

Last night I ended up laughing.  A lot.  Out loud.  Hard.  Really Loud.  Knee slapping.  Reaching over to push the shoulder of my seat mate, laughter. 

 Ahh.  It felt so good!

All of this good time living sprang from my accepting a last minute invitation to attend a movie with a couple of work colleagues.  Doing so was out of character ~ doing something outside of work with co-workers, doing something on a work night and accepting an invitation the morning of the event ~ all, out of my character or might I say, my rut. 

The whole experience felt like a celebration of sorts.  Again, more than one-fold.  The first celebratory reason was the extra hour of evening light that springing the clocks forward gifted us Northern Dwellers.  Secondly, the growing realization that I am returning to life post-grad and licensure status; meaning that I actually have enough energy reserves at the end of a work day to engage with others and maybe, like last night, have a little or a lot of fun.  Cause for big old party if you ask me. 

The movie was hilarious, all about the human condition and relationships with a little projectile vomiting thrown in for a giggle or two.  I know.  You’d have to have been there…  Honestly though, the entire theatre was filled with loud raucous real laughter. 

So here I am.  Currently living the Good Life, one guffaw at a time.  It’s all good, my friend, it’s all good.

March 2012
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