654: Missing

Numbers

I started numbering these posts when I began purging myself using this medium as an outlet years ago when I lived and worked (teaching) in Morocco. There is a place here where some post numbers are skipped (no, I’m not telling), because I wrote some things that I was literally afraid to publish, but I still needed to process the feelings via this method of vomiting out what’s the problem (or the success, or the random thought) on this blank page that begins with a number.

This is therapy, and it damn sure costs less than a professional.

Speaking of that, I live and work now (again) in the United States of America. Very, very few of us here can claim to be impoverished (by world-wide standards). Yes, many of us are struggling here, but here, “struggling” usually still happens with a place to live, food, power, and running water. Of course there are exceptions, but generally, that is true in the USA: poverty is relative. This relative affluence (even in poverty) explains why so many hate us and still try mightily to come here. Where they are doesn’t come with relative affluence in poverty. I get that.

I understand that I am blessed beyond measure just by the happy accident of being born where I was to the parents who had a hand in creating and raising me. No, they weren’t perfect. Who is? I am mature enough (always have been, in this regard if not in others) to appreciate what they did for me. They were certainly quite good enough.

They raised me right, which I tried to pass along to the children I have contributed to this planet. I did wrong on my own – which any adult worth the title has to own. We don’t get every decision correct, and there are also the things we have left undone – even when we had good excuses/reasons.

I have had a good life – even the chapters I dislike, skip over, and just choose not to re-read. Thank you God, for being far more merciful to me than I ever earned.

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632: The URGE

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Art is creative endeavor by humans.

That means that your own brand of creative counts.

Whether you craft in food, flowers, hair, homes, stone, metal, clay, fiber, plastic, paint, paper, words, or whatever other medium you choose to express that inner muse you and only you contain – it counts as art, even if others don’t view it that way. For that matter, even if you don’t view it that way, it is art.

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That means, you fabulous, wonderful, driven-to-create human: YOU are an artist.

573: Unacceptable Risk

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In America these days, there is no acceptable risk for something someone does not find useful to themselves.

We all get in our modes of transportation on a nearly daily basis, and willingly take the (rather significant) risk that our routine daily trip will not, this time, come to a horrible, bloody end. It does happen that way for many people the world over. We take that risk with nary a qualm.

We take other risks with insouciance, too.

Have you actually read the warning labels that come attached to most small appliances these days? Seriously? I think we should just improve the gene pool and leave these labels off, thanks very much. WHO showers while using their toaster? Or tries to dry their hair while still in the shower? The awful part is that SOME one obviously did it, or there would not be a warning label for the rest of us…who don’t actually need one, thanks.

I remember the prenatal class I took during my first pregnancy. They were very careful to warn us moms-to-be not to have sex (immediately after delivery) while we were still in the hospital.  I’m not too sure about the other moms, but that was a totally unnecessary warning for me – any man who got anywhere near me immediately after delivery had better have had a shot of morphine, not sperm. It wasn’t actually an experience I was looking forward to beginning all over again at that point, believe me. It took me nearly three YEARS to forget about how much better it felt going in than coming out. Once again, this warning prompts the question: WHO did such a thing, and was she conscious at the time? And as for risk, pregnancy and childbirth are still (even in this modern age) statistically pretty high risk endeavors, and still women do it all the time.

Risk. Actually, I take lots of risks when I get out of bed in the morning. Your home is full of mortal dangers: the electrical circuits, the bathtub, ceiling fans, the stuff crammed on the top shelf of the closet, the pets that weave in and out between your feet, assorted cleaning chemicals which can’t be combined (that bleach  and ammonia thing gets a few people every  year), food left on the counter, or saved a few days too long in the fridge….you  just don’t know all the stuff that can kill you once you take the risk and get out of bed.

Let’s just understand that risk is part of living. The only way to eliminate risk is to die – and then you have to hope that the funeral home dude isn’t a necrophiliac. You just don’t know – and at least, at that point, you just would not know (or care much, either).

Let’s get on with the business of living – and be mostly careful, without being nuts about it.

492: Decisions

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Every day brings decisions. Most of them are not Earth-shattering choices. What to wear. Generally, that one ranks fairly low on the importance list (unless you have a career in fashion). Some have potential long-term consequences: what to eat today, for instance, is not terribly important. But over time, with repetition of good (or bad) choices, that daily decision becomes vastly more important as the health consequences compound, with interest, over time. That is a daily choice with long-term repercussions. Some decisions are like that.

Other decisions obviously are more weighty from the get-go. Where to go to college – what major to study. Who to date, and who to marry. What job to apply for – and which job offer to take. Where to live. Whether to procreate (sometimes that choice is taken out of our hands by other choices we make).

Some of our choices lead to other choices, of course, and not just that ‘whether to have sex’ choice that results in ‘whether to have children’ choices. For instance, the ‘you choose a partner or career (or both), that is not conveniently located geographically close to your present location’ choice, for instance. This choice dilemma results in some difficult decisions, assuming you are not satisfied with doing things at a distance – which might work with SOME careers and a few (a very few) people.

You can move to be closer to the object of your desire (partner or career). Sometimes that solves the difficulty. Sometimes the chosen partner chooses you, too – and perhaps they can relocate instead of you, again, resulting in problem solved. That seldom works well with a career choice, but some careers are more portable than others are. For instance, being employed as a nurse is a universally necessary career with job opportunities anywhere there is a clinic, doctor’s office, or hospital. Pretty much anywhere. Some careers are like that – and some are not. You are not going to find employment as a nuclear physicist in Podunk, Iowa. You are going to have to relocate, or take a job they do have available there.

Where things get complicated is when you have a partner, and you need to move for a career change – especially if your partner is also employed. Whose career takes precedence, in the choice of stay or go? Or, do you become a weekend-and-holiday relationship? Is there another solution that will work for you both?  Hmmmmm…….decisions, decisions.

What if you have a career, and find the ideal partner somewhere else? What then? Weekend and holidays? OR, do you pass on the soul mate in favor of your secure, enjoyable, good-paying career? Just how fulfilling is your secure, enjoyable, good-paying career….solo? Hmmm…….decisions, decisions.

Well, conundrums and arguments aside, people of faith don’t always have to make those choices. When you surrender your life to God, you discover that He actually does have your best interests at heart. When these gritty choices rear their heads, you can seek His wisdom and counsel. He is adept at opening doors, making circumstances and disparate pieces fall into perfect alignment, and placing the right people in the right moment to have everything that He wants just….work out.

The hard part is trusting that He will, and waiting until He does.

Keep your pants on, Abraham.

482: New Habits

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Many people are dissatisfied with some part of their life. That’s pretty universal, since life has so many compartments: physical, spiritual, financial, occupational, familial, emotional, and every one of those compartments has multiple occupants, all of which can run smoothly, or gum up the works.

In the process of living our lives, we humans are often like water. We choose the easiest path (the path of least resistance) to find our way down an incline. What this translates to in daily life is that we establish easy routines to deal with most things, and they become habits over time with repetition. They start to feel natural and normal with the familiarity, even if they are not natural and normal. It happens this way even when our established habits are actually unhealthy for us, or harmful to us.

All of us struggle with habits, but who would knowingly establish a habit that harms them? Well – that appears obvious, but people do it every day.  We choose to take a drink because we are bored, or because something is uncomfortable that we’d rather not think about and deal with. Repeatedly choosing that option leads us to a dependency on alcohol (or drugs, or food, or sex, or the Internet, or gambling, or shopping, or fill-in-the-blank with your own addictive, escapist behavior) and the poor choice is now a habit that feels natural and normal to you, even though it is anything BUT. The problem with addictive, escapist behaviors is that they are never, ever satisfied with the compartment of your life that they started out in. They do take control of that compartment, yes – and then they cast a proprietary eye on the compartment next door, and the one after that, and the one after that, until they pretty much take over everything.  Every stinking, little, tiny thing.

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This is why people who don’t see (and heed) the warning signs when a habit is still small enough to be uprooted, before its roots are so massive that digging it out uproots the rest of the garden, too – this is why those people speak of hitting absolute rock bottom. It takes that ultimate comeuppance (rock bottom) at that point, to make a change. When there are no more excuses, when you have pretty much lost everything that mattered to you, when there is nothing that is left of any value or worth, making a change isn’t such a bad thing. It is the only thing left.

You can’t dig yourself out of a hole. When you find yourself in a hole, STOP DIGGING. Make a change. You can’t expect different results when you continue to make the same choices. Start something new, and be sure it is something positive, and do it one day at a time, until you are no longer in a hole.

When will you be out of the hole? You will know. Just be sure you don’t start digging again.

465: Welcome to Kazakhstan

Well. It’s been one whole day in my new country: Kazakhstan! I finally got the work visa approved, and since you must have your visa in hand before you can fly, that took some time and doing. The Kazakhstan Embassy in Washington, D.C. does not accept mail, or other deliveries like Fed Ex or UPS. Because of this, you either have to GO there and take your documents in person and then go back a week later and pick them up (from ATLANTA), or, you have to pay for a courier service to do that for you. Easy decision, that one.

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It was two full days (48 hours plus about 10 more) to get here, what with three flights and two lengthy layovers, one in Amsterdam and one in Almaty. Almaty is in Kazakhstan, and is one of its two largest cities. The other one is Astana. One is the capitol, and the other one is the largest city. I forget which is which, but I am sure I will learn.

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The one funny thing in Almaty’s airport terminal, while I waited over eight hours on my next flight, was that workers came around prising up from the benches (where weary travelers were sitting, waiting on their flights), the CUSHIONS from the bench seats. ???? They did not ask any of us who were seated to move, but they scarfed the cushion right next to me…..? Interesting, I could not help but giggle over it.

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The other thing I will get to learn is some Russian. Seriously. The other language they speak here (could not be just one, huh?) is Kazakh. *sigh* And, like Arabic, this one has another new alphabet, too.

Well. At least the apartment the school furnished is nice. It is pretty bare in the kitchen, which I will have to remedy, but it will certainly do, and it is free – a perk of the job. No complaints, believe me. I can buy a few dishes.

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This morning, a colleague at the school who is named Georgia (! my home state, what a great good omen) came to take me shopping for a few necessities to get through the first week. The stores are only a couple of blocks away – no bus or taxi fares! The school is only about a mile and a half away, too – shared taxi should be reasonable, too.

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My first dinner consisted of one of the new grains in the supermarket – I think wheat berries, plus carrots and potatoes. Root crops are very reasonably priced. Packaging is interesting. More glass jars than cans. Good for reusing. I like it, except for when (not if) I break one getting them home.

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Yes, it  is cold (15 degrees Fahrenheit), but the apartment is warm. Tomorrow is the first day at work, so I am excited enough to be uninterested in sleeping, darn it. Clothes laid out, Panama cell phone set to Kazakh time as my alarm clock/watch, since I forgot to pack any watches and the darn cheap thing does not work here in this country, anyway.  Makes a good alarm clock, though, so I’m keeping it. I bought an electrical adapter today, so my laptop, tablet, Kindle reader, cell phone and tablet are all charged. Woo Hoo! New job, new life, here I come!

445: Food and Eating It

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Food is a love/hate relationship for me.

I like food a lot for other reasons than nutrition, which you would know if you saw me in person. Let’s just say I am not anorexic. I have THAT disease beaten DOWN. In permanent remission.

What I have discovered, reading about all these studies about food and nutrition that I have read over the years, is that, when all that information overload is boiled down to a single sentence of scientific food advice, is this caveat:

If it tastes good, SPIT IT OUT.

That’s it.

If it REALLY tastes good, SPIT IT OUT, QUICK.

The worse it tastes, the better it is for you. Just spit it out.

You are welcome. That is all.