What do I look like?

That was my first thought today when a young man, appearing to be about 15 years old, sitting in the front passenger seat of the car that pulled up next to me at the gas station asked me a question. Another boy, looking 16 or 17 hopped out and started pumping gas and as he did the younger boy yelled over to me, “hey, do you have a cigarette?” I was flabbergasted and said no as I was shaking my head in amazement at the question. No one has asked me that question in many years. Before I sit here in traction and analyze why he asked me, what do I look like, somebody that smokes, was it my sunglasses, my youthful appearance, nope, I have a shitty spinal column, but I’m not delusional. I’ve already recognized he simply found himself in a convenient situation to ask. Yet, I do find myself focused on how sad the random experience left me feeling.

After I got over the shock of the question I wanted to ask him some questions, I wanted to preach to him, I wanted to tell him what a gift his health was, how fragile it will seem someday. I wanted to tell him, heck no I don’t have a cigarette, that stuff will kill you and you are too young, yada, yada, yada….but I felt like all he’d hear was the parental voice from the Charlie Brown animations and just see it as some crazy person at the gas station “yelling” at him.

All the things any reasonable person would want to say to a teenager about the dangers of smoking crossed my mind, but also came with it the bigger question, WHY! Why on earth in 2011 is a kid still asking to bum a cigarette and in a gas station where we could blow up no less!

I need to get out more, or maybe less.

Advertisements

Have it your way…….really?

Today a young man waited on me at a fast food restaurant and as he handed me my change I immediately knew it wasn’t the correct amount. So quickly before he could leave I said, please recheck this, I handed you a 50 dollar bill, honestly I did, can you please check your register. So he looked down and said, “oh shoot, you did, I’m so sorry, I thought it was a 20.” I said no problem, easy mistake. He then handed me 33 dollars. I began to walk away and instead realized, nope, still not correct. So I said, Oh excuse me, see, I gave you a 50, I spent 7 dollars, so you owe me 43 dollars. He looked at me like I had just spoken to him in a foreign language and he then apologized again. By this time two co-workers appear and the person who originally took my order was so flustered he walked away mumbling, “I don’t know what’s wrong!” So I explain the situation and they both look at me like I’m nuts. Then one of them says, “just a minute, we will try to figure this out.” I tried to repeat the simple details of the transaction once again and as I do one of the workers reaches for a calculator. I then said, just think about it, I gave him a 50, I spent 7 dollars, you owe me 43 dollars. Yet, apparently that’s too distracting and silence is required to figure out this equation. What felt like several minutes later the employee with the calculator gives me a rather stunned look and says, “we still owe you 10 dollars!” Sadly only arriving at this answer after he minuses 7 from 50 on the calculator and double checks the 33 dollars in his hand.

I’m worried. Not just about these three employees at a fast food restaurant, I’m worried for all of us. I know there’s a joke here about how many people does it take to make change inside of a phone booth or something like that but more importantly, if we have a person give up in embarrassment or defeat and the two that are sent in to remedy the situation are just as baffled, I’m not sure where to begin. But if they want me to answer the question on the side of their bags, THIS, is definitely NOT my way!

You know what, I’m just not going to think too much about this one, besides, I have ten more minutes of traction to distract me, but who’s counting.

Home Remedies

I was walking down a long corridor last week and an older gentleman came up next to me and said, “Excuse me Miss, mind if I ask why you’re limping, you seem like you’re in such pain.” The man had my immediate attention because he called me “Miss,” there could have been a time in my life where I wouldn’t have liked that term, but now I consider it a solid victory if someone doesn’t refer to me as “Mam.” He then quickly went on to add that he too has a limp and he wondered if my issues were related to my spine, he starts to tell me about his situation and then waits for me to answer. I briefly describe my problem, in part because I’m still a little thrown off by a complete stranger stopping me and asking me basically what feels like, “what’s wrong with you?,” but yet that has happened before, I’m really more interested in NOT standing in the hallway since standing is pretty much my least favorite thing on the planet. After I answer him he sympathizes and goes onto to describe his spinal surgery. As we end the conversation and I turn to head down the hall he wishes me well and says he’s sorry for my trouble. It sometimes feels weird to know what to say. I guess I do have “troubles” yet everyone does, mine just might be more obvious sometimes, but he was just trying to be kind or “help” in some way or at least that’s how I prefer to take our exchange.

Recently I’ve been encouraged to try a couple different home remedies. One is to prepare a cup of water like you would for tea but rather than adding your favorite flavor, add two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar and a spot of honey. Another one is to pour GIN over a cup of golden raisins and count out 11 every day to eat. The recipes come from folks that want to “help” and although I’m not sure I’ll be downing gin soaked raisins anytime soon I do feel some healing by the great compassion I’m shown.

I’d rather think of that while I’m sitting here in traction than all the crap going on in this world, don’t you just want a break from all of it, I’m so tired of hearing bad stuff. I’m overwhelmed by the news of horrific natural disasters, misery, suffering and economic world woes; everyday it seems there’s some awful thing worse than the day before.

So I’m asking, just please dear world, take a freaking time out and be nice!

ENOUGH already, come on, give the planet a break for a minute, let it rain where the ground is so cracked and parched it’s causing severe droughts and famine, sprinkle some tolerance and peace over massive parts of the world. Please help everyone to suck on a Pollyanna pill, calm down and be kind to one another for a day or two. “Help” each other, stop and talk to someone, just let us have a moment where we can still believe there is more right with this place than it being one giant mess, give us a splash of hope, please. Who knows, maybe a simple home remedy will make a difference.

In the meantime I am going to go sip some hot apple cider vinegar honey “tea” and try to think of something besides the negative, and then I’ll wait for the good to come, because I still have to believe it’s bigger than the bad. Cheers!

Yours truly, Pollyanna

So simple, so easy

I was pushing my grocery cart yesterday toward the glass cases that hold the milk and a little girl, probably no more than seven or eight years old was in front of me and yells to her Mom, who was behind me, “Mom, how much milk should I get?” her Mom replies, “two” and the girl answers, “big ones or little ones” and Mom responds, “big.” The girl eagerly reaches in the case for the milk and I said, wow, I wish I had a great helper like you helping me out at the store. She looks up at me with the biggest smile on her face and as I reach for my milk she says, “thank you.”

Telling her you’re welcome I push my cart past her to the next aisle. I hear her run to her Mom and say, “Mom, this lady told me I was a great helper!” I could hear her Mom agree and send her on a mission for some cheese. I thought about how excited that child was to hear a compliment from some random lady at the grocery store, I hadn’t thought twice about saying it, she was an impressive helper, but her “thank you” was amazing. I haven’t heard many young children unprompted respond to a compliment with a thank you. Parenting a child is the hardest job on the planet, witnessing it first hand by making it look so simple, so easy, is delightful and impressive!

I have to finish up this traction gig today because my great twin nieces, who are three weeks old sent me an email asking me if I’d please come over and hang out with them while their Mom takes a shower. I tell ya, being a part of a child’s life at any age or stage is a privilege.

Traction maintenance

So you know how there are times when a website temporarily shuts down to perform routine maintenance; well, I don’t think it’s the same here at the thoughtsintraction blog but I did have to add some water to the weight bag! Two pounds of water had evaporated, and we can’t have that now can we? Can’t have only eight pounds of water pulling at the neck instead of the recommended ten. I’m being a smarty pants about this but it is rather exciting that I’ve been at this so long that I have to do things like “maintenance.” It means more than pouring some water; in fact the only reason I can pour that water is because of traction, it also means that I’ve maintained my schedule, I’ve hung in there. I owe you, I owe every person who has ever read this crazy, random blog and according to my stats that’s pretty many of you. I’ve maintained the hanging when I certainly would have given up some days if I hadn’t had a sense accountability to the blog, to you.

Maintenance is a good thing, Martha Stewart would approve. We maintain our cars, our bodies, our homes, certainly should maintain a traction device if you have to use one. Maintenance isn’t something we usually throw a party for, we don’t make an announcement when we get an oil change for the car, although some do I guess now a days on Twitter or Facebook, but we typically keep the maintenance parts of life to ourselves and in reality if we don’t take care of maintenance it will come back to get us. If you don’t clean out the gutters they will eventually let you know about it in not fun ways, if you don’t maintain now you will pay later. It’s certainly been established in my life if I don’t do traction I lose and if I don’t add weight to the gizmo what’s the point, it might feel like I’m getting by with something in the short run but not enough tension in the traction does little to keep these fingers moving. So go maintenance, in a world that seems to celebrate everything, I think you need your own holiday, your importance should not go unnoticed!

March Madness

Height was pretty much all I needed to be welcomed on to the basketball court but having a consistent shot and some speed was allusive so my career was short-lived. It’s fun to watch and follow all the March Madness NCAA games. So far I’m second in my family’s notoriously competitive pool……..but after today that will most probably change and I look forward to the clever emails notifying me of such.

When my Mother was diagnosed with terminal cancer and sent home to live out her days the NCAA basketball tournament was on the television in the background of her hospital room, I guess as a way to allow some normalcy. One of my brothers remarked that he’d never be able to enjoy it again because of the association with this devastating event in our lives. We are years down the road now and although it obviously still comes to mind she of all people would be checking her brackets to see how she was doing. She would want us to enjoy things and participate fully and not be stricken on the sidelines with sadness.

There are always things that remind us of other times in our life and there are certainly many reasons in this world today for feeling some kind of March madness. The people of Japan, dealing with so much, Libya, heck, there’s plenty of people still living in tents in Haiti. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by it all. Looking at the super moon last evening puts a little speck like myself in perspective.

Traction is certainly something to “ground” me if I’m feeling out of sorts, hanging in there the best way I know how. Living thru March madness, hoping for an amazing April.

Addition

I was good at arithmetic when I was a kid, I was the champ of my fourth grade math class, even beat the boys, and that was tricky back in my elementary school days because there was a lot of favoritism and sexism and the boys ruled. But before I boast one more second and live on in the glory of my 10-year-old math brain I’ll let go of that tangent and instead share what I’ve been thinking about, a different kind of addition. It’s easy to hear people these days talk about “giving up” something, sacrificing or fasting, sort of subtracting something from the norm. I’ve decided I’m adding this season not subtracting. I’ve been thinking about my life and I think it needs to expand and if I believe the whole point of any season, especially the Lenten season is to grow closer to God I think I need to work on becoming more and I’ve decided this season I’m not going to do that thru less.

In certain phases and stages of my life I’ve felt “practicing” my faith an obligation, sort of like when you’re a child and your Mother makes you take something to the house of the old person down the street. Your first reaction is to say no, then whine about how their house smells funny and they talk too much. She insists you do it and when you go in the house and the woman greets you at the door sitting in her wheel chair you are creeped out, scared because you are alone with her. She’s so grateful that you have brought her the newspaper and her mail you think she’s faking her excitement because how could it be that big of a deal. Not until you are a grown woman dealing with your own physical challenges do you realize how complicated it can be some days to get your mail in or what a comfort it is to have someone bring you something that you can’t easily manage for yourself.
Your Mother made you visit that woman and run errands for her and it took a long time before it didn’t feel like an obligation, until you didn’t mind going, until you actually sat down in the lady’s home and ate a piece of candy that she offered every time you went. It took a long time to not notice the funny smells and to talk to her. Eventually it was easier and your relationship changed. You grew and it was no longer a burden, she had become your neighbor and by the time you were a teenager you never thought twice about stopping at her house to check on her. Your Mother knew what she was doing all along and it seems to me it’s sort of like that with faith. If you hang in there and do the routine, unpleasant, tedious stuff, the boring stuff, the creepy stuff you eventually get to know God and yourself a lot better than you did when it was only drudgery. God feels like your friend because you invested in the relationship. So it seems to me I’m going to add things this Lent, not deduct. My heart needs to grow wider, my attention needs to focus on more than me, my mind needs to expand. So everyday I’m going to research something I know nothing about and learn more about something new every day. I’m going to double up on some of my “practices” that bring me joy. I’m going to add more to my life, grow my mind and heart and hopefully deepen my faith. I’m spilling all of this to you because accountability is a big part of any new endeavor. You are going to keep me honest.

I’ll let you know in 40 days how I did. Happy Lent!