My daughter said, “I’m reading a book you might like, it’s a love story, but written well.” I’m more into historical novels, but hey, why not read something “light” for a change? I’m in the first chapter and came across a great quote:
“But just look at all the fake smiles and sour faces
around here. I’m going to have to take a bath
with a wire brush to get all the negativity
off me when I leave.”
The author was referring to a mandated family party. But it could be any scenario. Back in the day when I was in leadership, I used to keep a role of duct tape on my desk. It had a great purpose for keeping myself sane. When someone would call or come into my office with petty complaints, I would just look at that duct tape and think, “It would only take 6 inches” [over their mouth] to SHUT THEM UP! Of course I never followed through, it was enough to think I could. When I taught leadership classes, I actually gave participants the chance to cut a piece of duct tape when they came in. There was much curiosity and then laughter when I explained how this common “tool” would be so useful to them.
How do you handle negativity, pettiness and, well your common complainer?
I’ve lived in the Northeast of the United States all my life. Therefore, my conception of “the desert” was the Sahara, just endless miles of white sand. Much of Southern California seems to fit that bill too! However, when my daughter and her family moved to Phoenix, although very different from anything I was ever akin to and dry as dry can be, there is life everywhere!
I’m not a city or suburban kind of gal but I want to see my grandbabies grow up, so when I started searching for property, it had to be close enough, but, yet, far enough away. I found a gem of a property in the desert highlands. I drove out there yesterday and easily call it “home” even though there is no building! It is so beautiful, quiet, peaceful, interesting, challenging —I could go on, but I think you get the point! It is also teeming with life.
Sadly for prospectors, indigenous tribes and homesteaders, they had no idea that this rocky, dry land has an abundant aquifer far below. I realize how fortunate I am that we will easily have water by just making a phone call and emptying our bank account! However, yesterday as I walked I realized just how wonderfully the desert provides and I’m really just a beginner at this.
The picture above is indicative of nature’s provisions and beauty. Although I understand a saguaro cactus will make you pretty sick, and the ocotillo plant is basically a sticker bush from hell, they are beautiful! Saguaro’s offer great entertainment when traveling too, each one of these giants has it’s own personality. They are majestic and beautiful. I haven’t checked into the benefits of the ocotillo, I’m just afraid of them!
If you are going to retire in the desert, a good thing to do is to educate yourself on survival skills and learn what the desert floor has to offer, other than rattlesnakes! Two plants that have great benefits are the prickly pear and desert sage which grow like weeds. They grow everywhere and are nearly impossible to kill as most weeds prove themselves to be.
I love to use the sage when cooking soup. My, my, my, it adds a rich flavor to almost anything. However, what I didn’t know about sage is the natural healing qualities the plant offers. Using the leaves topically can enhance the healing process. Sage can be used to give relief from an upset stomach and other digestive tract issues “to the very end”. Sage also has anti-bacterial qualities. Here is a great website, Natural Living Ideas, that offers 20 different ways sage can be used. You don’t have to be in the desert, you can grow sage almost anywhere, including inside. However, I find great comfort knowing the power of this abundant weed!
The other plant pictured is the prickly pear. Now let me tell you, you don’t want to be falling into one of these buggers. Yes, those spikes are as sharp as a needle and can really put a hurting on you! But see those cute little polka dots? Each dot is hundreds of mini-spikes. Touch one of those by accident and you’ve got some four-letter-word language coming from the leader of the church choir! They are NASTY with a capital N.A.S.T.Y.!!!!!!!! HOWEVER (see, Mr. Nasty capitalized cactus, the however you offer can be capitalized too!)
These cacti grow everywhere, they are like rag-weed in the Northeast.
They are tough, resilient, and life-giving as all-get-out!
I’ve actually seen evidence of the free-range cattle and donkey’s that have taken a bite. DumbASS donkeys! Actually, these animals are smart. Prickly pear offer a plethora of goodness: hydration, vitamins and antioxidants. They are rich in nutritional goodness. However, if you are a human being you need to learn how to handle with care, not just bite into like an ass! I’ve not tried it yet, but I understand that the paddles are good to grill, or cut up in a salad and eat raw.
The fruit of this plant is ridiculously good. Although many people make jelly from it, I think adding sugar isn’t necessary. I took some home the last trip. Imagine going through TSA at the airport with a box of prickly pear! Actually, I put it in my checked bags and left a love note on top. “Dear TSA, if you happen to physically check this box . . . please be careful, yada, yada, yada.”
What about those little polka dots? Each fruit has thousands of mini-prickles but if you learn how to handle them, oh my, inside is the most luscious, juiciest, yummiest and quite healthy meat. You can eat it raw, make juice, wine, add to salad, the uses are limitless.
As I have learned more about the abundance of the desert, I have more confidence moving there. Yesterday I had a lot of time to think as I walked around, with caution, a walking stick and a 357 Magnum (The desert also offers, let’s say, certain death if you’re not careful!). Here’s what I contemplated. Life can be a desert. Life can be dry, harsh, unforgiving and it can be overwhelming and dangerous, like the flats and mountains of the Sonoran. However, can it possibly be true that even in the midst of the harsh, dry times of life there is abundance? Could it possibly be that there is health, healing and life-giving-nutrients for body, mind, and spirit even in the driest times of life? I have been there too, and yes, I believe if we look for it —- there is hope, love, health, and strength giving abundance.
I hope that you are living through a wonderful time of life. However, especially during the holidays, it can be difficult for many. I hope that you can find solace, strength, and healing in the midst of your desert.
In a short text frenzy and quite unknowingly my friend gave me “heal” as a word for the day. Then adds, “HEALING is a great word”. Yeah, she continued, “Healing happens in relationship”. Well, back in the day when I was a pastor, before I found my inner mouthy-blogger-try-and-make-the-world-a-more-positive-place-self, I used to say this:
Human beings have great power to heal,
however, we also have great power to destroy.
I’ve experienced both to incredible degrees, have you? On the one hand is the pendulum swinging, let’s say, south. Holy Shit can people be nasty! I’ll talk about that first because this is a positive blog & I want to leave you on a good note! What matters is the degree of relationship, I mean really, if someone you don’t know is, let’s call them bitchy to you, their interaction gives you a moment of shock, a story to tell & knowledge of who you want to avoid or be like, eh? However the closer the relationship is when real destruction can occur. When it comes to relationships with people we work or socialize with, or call friend, or dare I say lover, and they choose to hurt rather than hug, even with words, destruction is not a strong enough word. Sometimes it’s temporary, forgiven and we move on. Sometimes we work like Hell to save (heal) the relationship. And then at other times the only thing to do is walk away. All-in-all, I believe we have the choice to live a life that brings health and healing to others and it is worth every effort to exercise the power to bring healing in whatever level of relationship we are experiencing.
So let’s look at the other side of the pendulum, it’s a great place to be. In my 22 years of working closely with people in about every situation life has to offer, when it comes to healing, those who had a positive attitude and strong relationships just did better all-around. This doesn’t mean that they didn’t have major life issues either! Let’s take something as awful as cancer, for instance. The fear, the pain, the unknown can tear a person apart. However those who are positive and hopeful just seemed to do much better. If they were surrounded by loving people, wow! The difference always astounded me. I think it would be interesting to research. I’m sure that type of research been done already, but I’m willing to wager that those who are surrounded by love heal quicker and may suffer less. For those that are terminal, yes, one can see death as a healing. I know that sounds strange, I guess you have to experience this phenomenon to fully understand.
Life isn’t all about the full swing of the pendulum, is it? For the most part, we spend our lives somewhere in the middle of that swing. So I guess the question begs to be asked, “How can I live in a sense of strength, dignity, happiness, love, etc. First off, if you are in a bad hurtful relationship, get out. If your boss is an incurable, exhausting ass, start looking for another job! If you have issues with your family members, is there a way to avoid the poison? Know that there are some situations that you are better away from. If you are unsafe, you will not change that individual.
I’m sure that the following list can be expanded and I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments, possibly these thoughts will help to bring relational healing into our lives for the benefit of our body, mind and spirit:
Seek to be around people who are pleasant to be around. People who are real. People that appreciate you for who you are and don’t try to form you into some fantasy that they have conjured up in their minds of who is worthy of their presence.
Talk with people who naturally smile.
Seek relationships that are encouraging rather than critical.
Seek relationships that are give and take. There is nothing better than giving, but it is important to receive with grace too.
Seek to be around people who listen and engage.
Seek like-mindedness, but understand that everyone is different, we may agree on a lot of things, but chances are there will be times that we differ. That’s ok. How does that person handle your difference of opinion?
Seek to laugh.
Seek to be around someone that enjoys your company, but understands you need self-time too.
Ultimately, we can all be e a catalyst for a healthy and healing relationship. Be who you are and know that your attitude and actions towards others can be the difference between a good or great relationship! Look at the above bullets and ask the question, “Am I anything like this?”
I know this is far from an exhaustive list! Please add to it in the comments below!
(An excerpt from “Moving Forward Through Life’s Shit Without Stinking! A Book About Learning to Smile Again” –Urbanski)
I have always loved antiques and even had a little store for a few years. There’s terminology in the antique world called “patina”. What patina means is that there are chips, cracks, bumps, bruises —- character marks that may give a greater beauty and value to a piece of art, collectible or furniture.
An antique piece can be refinished, or painted but the ones with patina, although marked, have incredible appeal. The piece with patina has withstood the test of time and may be ugly to some, unique to others, and have that “the perfect look” for someone’s decorating. Antiques with patina that have value are still functional. Sometimes people will invest quite a lot of money, knowing that a particular piece is one of quality; or, one of strength that will still be around for a long time to come. Patina is considered beautiful, valuable and appealing. Patina varies on furniture or a collectible, so each piece is one of a kind, although there may have been many like it in the past. Each piece is rare and has its own unique character and value. Patina is often loved and admired.
I like to think of people who have stood the test of time, no matter how young or old, to have the beauty of patina. Those extra character lines around your eyes, the silvering hair and wisdom from your experience can be thought of as life-patina. You are unique! You may have bumps, bruises and stories. You are a person of terrific value and you are stronger than you think. However, you might not yet know your strength and value. Possibly you have forgotten how wonderful you are!
There are many different characters that come into an antique store. Some customers want their purchases to be absolutely perfect. They examine each piece they are considering and even bring a loop with them (small magnifying glass). They have high expectations for their purchase and regard anything with the slightest mark as worthless.
Then there are people who understand that a small scratch can be easily hidden, turned or simply dealt with. They know they are getting a great quality piece at a reasonable discount. They understand and work with the piece.
The crafters and re-purposers are fun. They look at items and see something different for their future, with hammers, paint and a bit of vision they can re-create something incredibly beautiful for their home or to sell again at a profit.
The Patina folk just love stuff for what it is.
The antique store is a great analogy for relationships. There are people who will never understand what you’ve been through, how many years you’ve suffered. They don’t get why you’re still mourning or have PTSD. All they want is their definition of how your life, your emotions, your decisions should be. They want you to be perfect by their definition alone. They aren’t bad people, but they can be pretty hoity-toity about you. They don’t take into account that you were dropped, bumped into or broken. They don’t mean to be an ass, but they can’t help themselves. Take this into account. They simply can’t understand. It is impossible for them. When you are forced to deal with them, try to let them walk around the store, let them pass over the stuff they just can’t handle and then walk away. At the same time, know you will never change them, they are who they are, don’t be offended by their (unreasonable) expectations.
At the same time, when they express their dislike for something, be brave! Politely let them know that all things are not perfect, some people have scratches, marks and bruises that others can appreciate. Be proud of who you are. Each thing that has caused some imperfection in their eyes has not defeated you. You are still standing, breathing, surviving. You are of great value . . . too bad they can’t see that, but don’t you dare allow them to let you think you’re something less-than! Let them walk away . . .
Then there are people like the customers who understand that there are pieces in the store that will have great appreciation for the artistry and craftsmanship that antiques offer. They simply accept the fact that there might be some “flaws” but know you are very strong, they will love you for the fact that you’re still able to function. They might not be able to handle the deep wounds, but they can still be great to be around. When they receive life-wounds, you are the one they will come and sit with and find comfort.
The Crafters and Re-purposers can see a beautiful future for you! Their visionary abilities are so refreshing, and they can help you to realize that you need to stop dressing like shit because you feel that way. They will encourage you to get out, and to re-adjust to the new life-situation. They will show you something you are unable to see yourself. It doesn’t change what happened in the past, good and bad. They help you to take that broken part and use it in a different way. They help you to freshen up, or maybe even try something you never have tried before. They are fun, they push you to your limit.
When I re-purpose a piece of furniture, for instance, I sound like a freak when I say, “It has to speak to me.” I carefully observe the lines, the current structure and possibilities of what it can become. I enhance the beauty and burn what becomes totally unusable. Sometimes a piano becomes a shelf, a press-back chair becomes a necklace. I know, but it’s what she told me she wanted to be! —I just helped her realize that! I’ll be the first to admit, sometimes re-purposers can get out of hand. Be open to their suggestions, but don’t let them push you into something that you don’t want. Let them help you enhance who you are. Let them give you suggestions that allow you to enjoy life again, to think about the future in a new way so you can enhance the wonderful things about you and have the bravery to throw the broken, hurtful bruised up nasty parts into the fire! Did you know that the Ancient Greek word, katharsis, means purification or cleansing came from fire? Maybe it’s time to light a candle, and ceremonially throw some things in the fire. Then allow your repurposing crazy life crafters help you rebuild yourself without all that crap holding you back.
Lovers of patina. They simply take it as it is, and so can you! Wear those scratches, cracks and bruises proudly. They give you character. They were difficult to receive but have helped to make you the strong survivor of life that you are! Put yourself in a prominent room of the house and allow people to marvel at your strength, tenacity and ability to still be so beautiful!!!! How can I say that . . .? Because you are!
Today’s blog is in response to a request. “Karen, can you write about change?” Oh my, change, no matter what the change is can bring different responses. Change can bring great joy, ambiguity or great stress. Even change that we ask for can cause us to be unsure, afraid, and excited all at the same time. Change is usually coupled with new responsibilities and differences which can be hard to identify at first.
When we experience changes in our lives, some are greeted with a sense of relief. Only you know those times in your life when things were tough and you made a decision to do something about it. Possibly you threw your hands in the air and said, “Enough is enough!” I have made the decision that this will not happen anymore and you became the catalyst for change. As much as you know this was necessary, there were more questions than answers, more mystery than common stability.
Oftentimes change surprises us. The event may be celebratory or filled with grief. But, no matter what, we are different afterwards. How can I write about the essence of change? Because, like every other human being, I’ve experienced it too. Over and over, some change was welcome, some vilified. I think the ability to handle life-change may have a lot to do with our personality type or possibly how we were raised and our life experiences. However, I do know we all handle it differently. I’ve taken many classes to learn about life change. I’ve had my own life experience, and have also helped others to either welcome or learn to live through change. I don’t much appreciate it when there is an expectation that everyone will respond to the same thing similarly. None of us truly knows all the dynamics that bring us to today and today’s response, or for that matter the thought of tomorrow.
For me, most change is welcome. I have always signed letters and now this blog, “Enjoying the Adventure!” Rather than think of change as imposing it’s way upon me, I look ahead wondering, “What’s next?” Therefore, when change occurs, I’m more likely to embrace it. Although, there are some very serious instances where I just wanted to tuck my proverbial tail between my legs, shiver, hide under the carpet and hope that I would wake up only to find that I was having a nightmare. I’d be a fool to pretend that all change has been welcomed and it would be deceiving to write in such a way.
Let me give an illustration through a gift I recently received. While away last weekend, we had the opportunity to watch a demonstration of a tree being sliced into slats of wood. It was a poplar tree. The event was amazing to me as I have been a woodworker most of my adult life. The tree itself had a very light colored wood, not a whole lot of character, other than a knot in the wood every now and then. It is pretty, and it could certainly make a nice piece of furniture but not extraordinary.
Then the next slice was made. The stunning piece of wood hidden deep inside this tree was so fantastic that they stopped the demonstration so that the folks gathered could walk up and see it’s beauty. I am an observer of people and what I noticed is that after about a half hour of gazing at what had been hidden by the mundane, the people were in true community. They were talking about the beauty of this wood, then conversations evolved. The people were talking and laughing together, some knew each other well, others were total strangers, but this revelation of beauty brought peace in the woods that day. There was beauty within that we all enjoyed and were touched by. May I remind you that this beauty was revealed by a huge band saw cutting 2 inch slices into this tree? Is it even remotely possible that our life band saws cutting into our ordinary stable lives may feel quite painful, but also have the opportunity to bring about something incredibly beautiful?
Please take a look at the board pictured above.
Now, let me reveal what the next slice (The other side of the above board) revealed.
How can something with such nice, but not extraordinary character have such beauty so close, so hidden. This basically white board had deep mahogany, purple, gold and gray colors. Somehow that basic pattern of wood became one of the most unique and beautiful specimens I have ever encountered. I feel so privileged that it was given to me as a gift. When I make something with it, (I’m not quite sure what yet) I think that it will have to be displayed in such a way to see both sides to remind me that there may be incredible beauty hidden in the most surprising places.
So, what about change? It happens. If we think that all will remain “as is” we kid ourselves. Sometimes change brings great pain and grief. Even that pain can be something we look back on and say, “Wow! If I only knew that it would lead me to where I am now!” If we walk in the reality that we know change, good and bad, will come so that we are not surprised by it
, we may be more able to accept and possibly even walk through even the most difficult change knowing that we can do it! We can adjust! We can find our lives rich and full once again.
I hope that as you experience change that you can look forward, find peace and yes, know it will visit us again.
We went to the grocery store the other day and all they had were green bananas. I bought them knowing that (I’d suffer for a day or two before) they would turn yellow in a couple of days But I like them pretty ripe . . . so (The suffering would last) I’d have to wait even longer.
Each morning since, I’ve woke up, checked the bananas and (wondered if I put them in the microwave, would they ripen faster?) said to myself, “Another day, Karen, another day!” There is great anticipation in my life for these bananas. I think they will taste better just because I’m waiting for them.
Yesterday, just for fun on Down to Earth Positive Facebook Group page I put a post: Fill in the Blanks, “Today will be __________________.” It was fun as the day went on hearing notifications that someone responded. Here are the results:
Only filled with good news!
Sun Filled Day again
A Fun Adventure
The best day of the rest of my life
I think these words are like my green bananas (and a little less frustrating!). They are loaded with fun, positivity and looking-forward-to-it-tive-ness! So while I’m waiting for my bananas to ripen I’m going to take these words and work them into my plans, my vocabulary, my thoughts. Want to join me?
A response came later in the day to “Only filled with Good News”
My daughter was cutting up small pieces of paper, of course, I had to ask. She motioned to the fireplace mantle and said it’s a gratitude jar. That simple.
I remember cuss jars at work. If you let a 4-letter fly, you were to put a quarter in the jar. But that was in the day of having change in your pocket! (Obviously, if you read my blog, I don’t mind so much having no quarters in my pocket!)
I like this idea of a special place set aside for gratitude. A reminder. I believe gratitude is the basis for all sorts of positive reactions to life.
Begs the question . . . what are you grateful for?
Enjoying the Adventure! (And grateful to be on it)
I’d love to hear your comments and questions & promise to get back to you quickly!