(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!
Early in the morning, before the crickets begin to sing, silence calls me. The sky is dark, no distractions, no cries, no pressure other than the coffee cup by my side. The world is still asleep and not ready for the noise of the day. I can begin to hear my own thoughts, or sit and do nothing without boredom.
Somehow there is a naive peace in this silence. Possibly it is the world calling out for the voices to be stilled. Why is it so strange that the “natural” silent noise of the earth seems so unusual. We are so used to noise in this generation that I wonder if we are able to hear anything at all. Silence scares us, why?
Why did I not wake up earlier? I now begin to hear the low roar of the Hwy 101 bypass, soon the beeps, the vibrations and voices will overtake this unnatural natural peace. A new day is here to work, to play and to love. The silence reminds me to choose what noise I listen to. The silence reminds me the world doesn’t need to be so loud. Even in a crowd I listen for the voice of silence, she is not far away. Eventually she will quiet the anger and stress, that consumes our attentions. It is good to remember that our noise is temporary. The silence of the earth will live on long after our noise is done . . . maybe we can find peace if we would only learn to listen.
Oh did hubby get points yesterday, his display of love brought tears to my eyes.
We have a huge yard and I honestly LOVE taking care of it. I call my lawn-mower “Therapy” (because it is!) and I really don’t mind all the trimming & burning & trimming & cutting & trimming. Did I say trimming? This isn’t a manicured suburban yard.
We are in the country and all the care is just basic survival tactics, or that green grass could become a jungle. You have to trim trees, bushes and stickers so they don’t slap you up-side the head when you mow and the yard doesn’t become a thistle farm either. Not only does the Thistle need to be controlled, but there are also Stinging Nettle plants that would like to take over the grass and free me from Therapy. But I need Therapy! By the way, stinging Nettle tea is really good for you, but touch it raw and your fingers, legs, whatever body part, will burn for hours afterwards. Hubby has taught me how to pull these nasty buggers from the roots without much drama and pain.
However, there is one evil demonic plant that I am terrified of because I am so FREAKING ALLERGIC to it. When I come across this pretty-looking, nasty ass plant I end up miserable for weeks. The itching is so bad that you will literally bleed and then you wish you could use a wire brush on top of that, you know, the kind that removes resistant oil paint off of metal. You beg your husband for a stainless steel scratch pad, rake and heavy duty sand-paper from the garage. But he is smart, he doesn’t get it for you, he knows your desperate and although you hold three degrees when it comes to poison ivy you will do any stupid thing you think will work, including hazardous corrosive chemicals if you think it will give relief.
I grew up in New Jersey and we had poison ivy there that grew in the ditch near the peach orchard and it looked like this, it had distinctive red and green leaves. You really couldn’t miss it.
Here in Pennsylvania it (did I call it a nasty ass plant yet? Yes, I did, and I meant it too!) looks like any other green plant, no red leaves, it’s kinda pretty, but bitchy women can be pretty too. Looks can be deceiving. . . you know that! So, for quite a few years, I would wonder, “How the Hell did I get poison ivy?” I didn’t see any red leaves anywhere! Well bless my freaking soul, it looks so “regular” here. It’s just green, blends in and it’s a sneaky bastard, AND IT HATES ME. (Yes, I return the sentiment!)
Are you asking at this point why I titled this blog, “You know your LOVED . . .When”? OK, let’s get to that. Hubby and I spent some time this afternoon weeding and trimming (There’s that word again!) around our black raspberry plants so we can pick those wonderful treasures of Black Gold easier. When I brought Therapy over with our trailer for the trimmings, do you know what I saw? POISON IVY CLIMBING UP THE WALNUT TREE! Yes, I said shit. I may have said it twice, or three times, I don’t remember. I can’t be responsible for my language when it comes to pure evil. So, I mention to my husband, be careful around that tree there is a poison ivy vine climbing.
What does my Prince Charming do? Yes, he is from England, he always sounds like a prince, but today? HE IS PRINCE CHARMING FOR SURE! He started pulling the vine off the tree. I’m freaking out, NO! Please be careful, I don’t want you to get it! It took him three trips to the fire pit, and the ivy is gone, roots and all. (He was careful and he’s not allergic to it, at least for the first 67 years of his life. I hope that holds true at 68.)
Sometimes he tells me he loves me. Other times he shows it. What possesses a man to show love like this? Who wants flowers? Who wants chocolate, or jewelry? Well, OK, they are nice too, but he literally sacrificed his life and sanity for me!
Enjoying the Adventure (Darn it, this display of love will be hard to top)
Have you ever been challenged to describe yourself? What would be the word or phrase that “describes” who you are, or what you do? I’ve been thinking through this one, but honestly, it is very difficult to pick one word or phrase. THEN when you do, you realize that word, or collection of words can be interpreted 86 different ways. However, it doesn’t hurt to do a little self-reflection.
Back in my “leadership days”, I used a phrase quite often, “Live Into”. When I was working with a group of people, my job was generally to help them define who they were personally, or as a group. We would do many exercises to help define, for instance, the purpose of a particular group and the direction that group would take. When the essence of that project was named, I would say, “Now, Live into it!” Meaning, if you have a goal, or hope for the future, you live NOW as if it has already begun to occur.
This is a both fun and frustrating exercise. Helpful, as it brings clarity. Frustrating, as it usually needs interpretation. The end result though is worth the frustration. One of my favorite tools for thinking is called bubbling. You begin with a word or phrase, then simply write words that come to mind. There may be many layers, (thus secondary levels of bubbles). This is done as a brain-dump, in other words, don’t put too much thought into it, just write down what comes to mind. You can return later to refine.
This example is the result of the word GARDEN to give you an idea of how it works:
As you can see, a lot comes up, for instance, Plant leads to tomato, which lead to types of tomatoes, then I would have to add another category called blight because we deal with it here on our land.
Now imagine that you put your name in the center . . . what descriptive words would be in those first bubbles? What else would be added to those first words. Which ones do you really want to describe you? What ones do you want or need to cross off the list? Yes, it’s fun and frustrating! Now, which ones will you “live into”?
Living into is acting as if it already is, therefore becomes reality. Thus one of the reasons I always close with Enjoying the Adventure!
In the middle of the night it is so quiet you can hear the silence. I don’t know how to explain that and I know I sound a bit crazy saying it, but if you’ve ever experienced that sort of quiet you know what I mean! I live in central Pennsylvania. Although there are a few nights that you wish you had air conditioning, believe it or not, it is totally unnecessary. Therefore, our windows are open and the sounds of nature, or lack thereof are constant.
At dawn, right around five in the morning, one, two, ten then thousands of birds decide to wake up singing. There are so many chirping at the same time that you can barely decipher the different voices. It is like a beautiful symphony. This lasts for a bit more than an hour as the sun awakens the day. I lay in bed listening, sometimes dozing. As quickly as it started, they all quiet down . . . and then the tiniest, yet loudest bird of all, the Warbler begins his solo.
I’ve been helping out my daughter for the past few weeks, she hasn’t been feeling well. So go ahead! Twist my arm & ask me to stay and play with my grandbaby, otherwise known as my heart. I forgot (30 years later) just how energetic, loving, crazy, psycho and draining a two year old can be!!!
He was pretty upset with me because I told him it was time to stop watching TV. Oh don’t judge! We were watching learning videos about colors, numbers & letters. I thought, “I’ll get him in the bathtub, that’s always fun.” No, it wasn’t. He fought the whole way in. Oh this sounds really bad, he’s a good little boy, but this was the worse I’ve seen as far as, “What can I do to get my way?!?!” Of course I had to show him I was more stubborn than him. When I ran the bath water, I added some bubbles. I mean really, bubbles would melt the heart of any soon-to-be-a-man, don’t you think?
At first he was interested in the bubbles, but then they stuck to his arm. The screaming was epic. He was terrified of those beautiful bubbles attached to his arm. What is a grandma to do? Please tell me, how do I fix this one? Somehow through my antics, a two year old switch flipped and he decided that those bubbles were the coolest thing ever. Phew! Do you see me wiping my forehead? Can you feel the relief? I don’t ever want to be the one of eight grandparents that caused him to have trypophobia. Where could that lead?
I knew that phobias were named using Greek words & I was quite the Greek freak in school, so I looked up and found Trypophobia, which is a new term that has been adopted by unofficial sources to describe “fear of small holes”. These small holes can be from many different sources of which one is bubbles. Evidently, it can cause great fear in those who suffer from the issue. Can you imagine family reunions? What if Jake would be afraid of blowing bubbles with the other kids because of Dink, tisk, tisk.
It was pretty easy to convince a two year old that bubbles are awesome. But when we get ourselves stuck in a proverbial bubble as adults, sometimes it’s not so easy to pop it, eh? I’ve done it myself, you know, wrapped myself up in an attitude, fear of trying something new, or thinking that what I was experiencing at present was my new reality for life. For some it leads to prejudice, complacency, negativity and more.
Bubbles are fragile. All they are is soap, water and air. The bubbles of life that keep us from moving forward from a negative situation or attitude can be popped. Usually, all we have to do is decide to break it. You may be stuck in a life bubble, if so . . . What is holding you in a small place? What are you afraid of? Who is it affecting? Are you, in effect, screaming like a two year old with white stuff attached to his arm, when in reality so much more is available to enjoy?
All this talk about bubble baths, I think I need to go have one myself! Don’t you have a big red tub in your pickup too?
Or, at the very least, go to Walmart & buy a bottle of bubbles and remember. Remember what it’s like to be a kid, free to enjoy, get caught up in the beauty, magic and simplicity of bubbles.
It happens sometimes . . . This time it probably helped that I was holding my grandson in my arms. All those neat rows of shoes in the aisles of DSW were completely tempting to a curious two year old! The lively music playing in the background was by someone of which I’m entirely too old to know their name, but young enough to enjoy their music. What’s a grandma to do? It started out with a toe tap & then it just happened, before I knew it, we were dancing with abandon in the shoe store. I have to admit though, I’ve been known to shuffle down the aisles of Home Depot too, I mean, really, they play oldies from the 70’s in our local store. Don’t you dance in the cement aisle too?
Generally, I’m respectful of the fact that others might think I’m a bit weird dancing at DSW or doing an Insanity Workout on the beach but, hey –if you feel like dancing, singing or doing push-ups. . . Go for it! I know, it is easy to say that people might laugh or think you’re nuts, but at the end of the day, who cares? When will you see them again? Your fun might just bring a smile to someone!
Speaking of smiles, I know we all aren’t cut out for unexpected public dancing, singing, working out, truth is, neither am I, but how about a smile? A big full-of-heart smile. Have you ever encountered someone that had a genuine smile on their face? They might be a friend, family, or perfect stranger while shopping. But tell me you can’t help but smile back. They are contagious!