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Tag Archives: life

Looking Out

5 Apr

I like to look out the window. I don’t always know what I am looking for, but it gives me a specific perspective. Taking photos is the same. I find a perspective in it. The world looks different when viewed through the frame of through a window or a camera lens than it does when I see it all at once. It can be too much to take in. I like a small piece of world to focus on.

A patch of sky with silver clouds. A blowing branch with red buds on it. Peeling paint. Someone dropped a piece of paper on the grass. One of my lovely starlings has landed, its beak yellow and its feathers turning black for the warm months, but still speckled. The nails embedded in the weathered wood. A drab Honda nearby, parked alone.

My starling is gone. I wanted to film it for you. They always fly off. They don’t like the camera. I have learned something from a bird watcher. The glass reflects light and it can startle birds, just as movement can. Maybe it even blinds them momentarily. They don’t know what it is.

I need to make better use of the zoom feature, keep my distance. I might need to step into the big world to get the starling’s perspective. It is a lot to take in.

 

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Are You Talking to Me?

17 Sep

When you call a business, do you sometimes continue to carry on side conversations after dialing the business?

If so, did you know that the person at the other end of the line can hear you clearly…and sometimes hear the others too? Especially when you are shouting?

This week at work, I answered a call with my usual professional greeting, and immediately the caller shouted, “Grab your underwear and put some lotion on!”

Then she began speaking to me as if nothing had happened.

Secrets of Marriage

24 May

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A few years ago, I heard someone say that married people should not have any secrets from each other.

I disagree.

Some secrets are harmful, it is true — sneaky, deceptive secrets. Selfish secrets.

Other secrets are simply things you don’t talk to people about.

After nearly a decade, there are things I have not told my husband. At the same time, I know there are things he has not told me. I “know” this because there are subjects he brushes over or avoids…for example, some of his military experiences. I believe this to be completely normal, and I do not see it as a problem. Sometimes people have experiences that are either too unpleasant, or too personal, or simply too unusual to try to explain to other human beings.

I think the expectation that married couples “become one” is a false concept that leads many couples to divorce.

We have different names and separate bank accounts, and some might see those choices as a sign of a lack of commitment. Not so. After nearly ten years, I still think marrying my husband is the best decision I ever made.

When I was single I used to be more spontaneous. I would sometimes feel the need for a change of scenery and I would pack a bag and drive without any plan of where I would go. I would not tell anyone. I would drive in a random direction and stop when I felt like stopping or found an interesting place. I would find a hotel and check in. I would find a restaurant and eat. I might be gone for two or three days without any contact with friends or family — but usually no one would notice I was gone, because I spent a lot of time alone anyway.

A few weeks ago I told my husband I was going to the bank and the library and would be back soon. Along the way I decided to make another stop and I was gone for a few hours. My phone was off. My husband became concerned. This was very uncharacteristic behavior for me, in his experience.

My spontaneous self would be unrecognizable to him. The wife and parent I have become does not normally act in a spontaneous manner…she likes to know in advance what will happen in her life.

There are other versions of me. Sometimes I think about the different phases of my life and how I have become a different person many times over.

My married life is my longest phase, and my happiest. I expect it to be my last phase. I think the same is true for my husband. He does not need to know every part of me to understand me or trust me, and I do not need to know every part of him.

A decade is a long time, but in the case of my marriage, it does not feel long. It just feels like home.

 

 

The Old Lighter Under the Shirt Trick

30 Jun

Reading  another blog  reminded me of something that happened in my little world recently and made me think about my first impressions of people…

One weekend, my husband and I had agreed to take a drive to help my mechanical-minded father-in-law pick up an old Jeep he was purchasing from a random seller (online). We drove him there to get the car.

Actually, first we waited for Jeepman to call back to arrange a time.

A time was set and we arrived and waited for Jeepman to return from fishing. There was a boat; there were children; there was chatting.

There was an enthusiastic pit bull that wagged her tail so hard it was like having our legs beaten with a very happy stick. Honestly, it hurt. It may have left bruises, I forgot to check.

The purchase was made. We were to follow in case the Jeep broke down.

And it did break down. About five minutes down the road.

A large pickup truck pulled up beside us, and there was an offer to tow the Jeep out of the intersection. We were towed away from traffic by the pickup guys.

I thought that was kind.

Then, the pickup guys parked and one of them got out and started trying to help fix the car so it would drive.

There was looking under the hood, there was tinkering… there was lying on the pavement underneath the back of the Jeep.

This was some real Good Samaritan stuff. Beyond kind.

I was truly surprised —  and I probably should not have been — not only because the guys took so much time to help out some complete strangers, but because the first guy I saw get out of the truck looked kind of scruffy, like a television version of a drug addict.

Stringy hair past his shoulders, missing teeth, tattoos, cigarette, worn clothes. His t-shirt had a design that seemed to blend into the tattoos on his arms.

He saw me watching him from inside our car. He grinned and waved at me. His hair was blowing everywhere. I should note that I stayed in the car because I thought it would not take long. I was wrong.

I watched as Scruffyman searched the ground after his fresh cigarette blew out of his grip. He picked it up from the sidewalk at the edge of the grass, put it in his mouth and pulled his shirt over the lower half of his face. Then he stuck his other arm under the shirt. His face emerged with a lit cigarette.

I had never seen this before.

I thought maybe he should have a hairband if he was in the habit of smoking with long hair on windy days. Seemed risky.

The Jeep got started again as I reflected on the kindness of Scruffyman.

We went a few miles before the Jeep stopped again.

This time, the Jeep was pushed by hand, and a tow service was called. We sat in my car with the windows open and the radio on. It was windy, hot, boring.

There was a deer across the street running inside an enclosed fence. It disappeared into the tall foliage as if it had never been there at all.

We waited. Sometimes the deer’s head popped up to look at us. We stared back. Sometimes we saw a bit of brown between the leaves, but mostly we saw nothing.

After about two hours of waiting, with assurances that the tow truck driver was “almost there”, we went to pick up my father-in-law’s big truck to tow the Jeep ourselves.

The day was long, but I felt my hope for humanity restored by Scruffyman and his generosity of spirit.

It was a reminder that our outsides do not reflect our insides.

 

 

 

Photos of The Atomic Age

3 Apr

The atomic era exhibit at a local museum showed me some fascinating elements of the life of another generation.

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Nothing More Than Feelings

24 Feb

This animal is expressing some feelings about my camera.

We are still talking about guns. The discussion on guns misses the point entirely, in my opinion.

I read about murders and assaults in the news nearly every day. Outside of war, most of them involve only one or two people. The police always check out family, friends, and business partners first. What does that tell you?

Why do people kill each other? Why do they assault each other?

There are a few reasons — including greed — but mostly it comes down to strong feelings that people don’t know how to handle.

I have been reading the stories for as long as I can remember…

A young woman was killed because she turned down a marriage proposal.

A girl’s hair was set on fire by a peer who was not invited to a party.

A man set his son on fire because of a divorce/custody dispute.

The stories are different but they are all the same.

People who cannot accept emotional pain. People who cannot live with having been wronged. People who judge others, who blame others, who want to punish others.

These are the people who commit violence on a daily basis.

Gun regulation is easier to accomplish than emotional regulation.

But…emotional regulation is the only solution.

Teach your children how to process their feelings. Teach them that they are stronger than they think. Show them examples of those who have overcome adversity, those who are happy in spite of all that has gone wrong with their lives, those who are loved when they thought they were unloveable.

Teach them the meaning of the word NO.

Teach them to work through their disappointment, shame, or humiliation.

Teach them that pain is temporary, just like joy.

Teach them that others are vulnerable, just as they are.

Teach them that anger can be productive or destructive.

Teach them that negative emotions are part of life and must be recognized and managed.

Different

29 Dec

I have been reflecting on the fundamental differences between different people and what happens when we make the mistake of thinking everyone is the same — or that they should be.

I am an introvert. Some people do not know what this means, although nearly half the population is introverted. We don’t call attention to ourselves as extroverts do. A book called Quiet: the Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking  gave me much to think about.

I was still thinking about the book when I watched a film called The King’s Speech. In the film, two sons of a king are both unsuited for the throne they stand to inherit. One is unable to sacrifice his personal desires for the sake of social rules. The other is uncomfortable with public speaking, due to an unfortunate lifelong stuttering problem.

As I watched the streaming film, my internet connection became repeatedly interrupted so that I could watch only a few moments at a time. The screen had a stutter of its own. This affected my viewing of the film, but added, I think, another dimension to it. I felt that I had an additional understanding of the frustration of the family and friends of the title character, listening to his fractured communication, as I watched the fractured film. The idea of being a king or queen would thrill some but horrify others. I fall in the latter category, in case you can’t guess.

A friend of mine wrote something about the harmful nature of “unsolicited advice“, which is another way of saying “telling others how to live their lives”. I responded that I think unsolicited advice often comes from those who believe others will benefit in the exact same ways from whatever worked for them. If a woman has thoroughly enjoyed the experience of pregnancy and parenthood, she may think that every woman should become a mother. If she has achieved much wealth and personal satisfaction from working in the financial sector, she may think everyone should apply for such employment. Well intentioned advice, perhaps, but thoughtless, unhelpful, and self-centered.

Should we all live the same life, hold the same job, raise our children the same way? I do not believe so. Do we all have the same inclinations, abilities, and traits? Of course not.

I like the title of the book Quiet because this is a term that has often been used to describe me. “You’re so quiet.

The term is accurate, and yet it is used almost exclusively by strangers. Anyone who knows me feels no need to describe me this pointless and impolite way. It would be like commenting on my obvious physical characteristics. Imagine someone who has known you for years saying, “Your hair is so brown!” or, “Your feet are so small today!”

Those who do not know me, unless they are quiet themselves, often see my quietness as a reflection of my mood or my response to them. Am I depressed? Am I bored? Do I distrust them?  They do not consider that quietness is simply a part of my innate character. They certainly are not complimenting me, with the exception of one or two men from foreign countries in which quietness is a more desirable trait than it is in this culture.

We are all different.

Some are loud, some are quiet. Some constantly seek more in life, while others are content with whatever they have. Some are anxious, some are calm. Some are leaders, some are followers. Some are big, some are small. Some are dark, some are pale. Some make jokes, others are serious.

We all contribute something different to the world.