Running in Circles

I’m sitting on a bench at the park across the street from my house trying something new with the writing. I just finished a short run and want to capture the words that always come when I am running but never seem to hit paper. This will maybe be an unedited post. But we shall see. No matter how hard I try on my editing there is always improper grammar and at least one or two misspelled words. So really? Why bother.

Except that  when I read someone’s writing and see misspelled words before I fall in love with their beautiful mind I sometimes feel judgy enough to stop reading. Which is terrible and  explains why my blog site is not very well read. Karma. It serves me right. But really this blog site is not about being well read. The muse reminds me of this from time to time when he gifts me with his presence. The words in this blog site are about facing my fears and finding a piece of peace and having empathy for others who also have fear. And desire peace. Which is pretty much EVERYONE. So a misspelled word ain’t but one more means to come together in our imperfections. I just worked that one out. Empathy for poor spelling is now in my heart. More peace. Already! In the second paragraph!

I’m in terrible shape right now. I’m no longer running marathons. Not sure why doing that was so important. But it was. Probably just another way for me to run away from shit I needed to be dealing with.  I write this post right now to avoid putting together a presentation on COLOR and its impacts on the learning and work environment. I teach this in 11 days. I’ve known about it for eight months. I’m not an expert on this, but I’m interested in the subject so I opted to teach it to a group of school facility managers at their convention in October. I’ve read fourteen books and feel no closer to knowing how I will present this very subjective topic. But in my defense I work better under pressure. And the run helps things noodle. I’m at the al dente stage. But I like my noodles more soft and easier to chew.

It feels nice to not push so hard like I did when I felt the need to run long distance. Currently I’m happy doing chubby yoga in the mornings and zombie running for a half hour or so when I feel like it.  Looking across at my house where most of my people are right now I wonder how long I could sit on this bench before they notice I am gone. It’s a different phase now for me.  I can go and it makes little difference. Generally I’m needed for cash and pep talks and occasional hugs. I’m not essential life support anymore. I’m frosting. But OH how I love frosting. It’s almost as important as clean diapers and carpool. And funner. Years ago I ran around this park so that I would be close to the house in case someone needed me. Stealing runs while the baby slept and the oldest watched or the husband. Miles and miles around: one lap is .60 miles. One time I ran 34 times around.  Now I run around it because I’m still recovering from ankle surgery and don’t want to have to limp too far to get home if I re-injure myself. Also I may have to pee.

Plus I just like the familiarity of a single, well known path. With everything else in my life so uncertain and unsteady, a closed, consistent loop is comforting.

Yet. It’s never really the same. Neither outside nor inside my brain. Because nothing is still. Not ever.

Today I saw a frisky three legged lab taking his child for walk. The dog was pure joy, hobbling along with ease, which encouraged me to believe that two legs were enough to keep my round squooshy goddess bod moving.

The sunshine was on my shoulders and I thought of the first record given to me “John Denver’s Greatest Hits”. I must have been ten? Maybe twelve? I can still remember the words to every single song on that album. I loved his music so much. And my record player with headphones that allowed me to mask from my parents the insomnia that’s been with me off and on my whole life: in my room, in the dark, with John and others to help me with through the awake.

Chris Cornell’s song “I Nearly Forgot My Broken Heart” came up on my playlist and for the first time since his death I didn’t push the right arrow to get him out of my earsight.  Maybe I’m finally forgiving him for leaving the world. It’s really not my right to be angry at him. I didn’t know his heart. But his words seem to know mine. Especially that particular song. And so maybe I have some right to feel sad and to not be able to face the loss of someone who sang to my heart, merged his sadness with mine making it feel okay to accept that hearts can break and we still go on living. But he didn’t. So what does that say? Except his music lives: energy from beyond the grave. And he is still making music. We just can’t hear it. Yet.  

The fresh cut grass smelled strong today, it always seems to in the fall. Is it because the air is colder? Does smell hang heavier in cold air? Is there science in this? I will probably research this later.

I saw a squirrel carrying something rather large up a tree and though my glasses were not on, I realized it was another squirrel, maybe her baby. I’m not going to have closure on what was going on there because she darted way up out of my blurry vision. But I’m going to assume that the baby was simply in trouble for playing too far away from home. Though the baby seemed big and was not putting up a struggle. Maybe a teenage squirrel party was broken up and he or she was drunk from too many nuts and passed out in the grip of mama’s mouth. It’s upsetting that I will never know if the baby (or teenager) is okay. But no one ever really  knows this: that things will be okay. We just have to perhaps enjoy that we get to experience the things. This maybe needs to be the ‘okay’ that we seek. And so I shake off my semi-autistic need for closure, for a finish, for knowing the full story, for having all the answers, because it’s time for me to get off the bench and go be frosting.  Empathetic, peace seeking frosting who runs in marvelous never ending, eclectic circles. 

Why It’s My Fault There is War

This Saturday morning I was up at 4:30 am thinking about WAR.

It’s because of something I saw on the news the night before.

Now, those who know me, know that I don’t watch the news. Or read the news. Or listen to the news.  I decided several years ago that it was affecting my happiness too much with all the devastating events that were happening in the world and I pretty much just stopped trying to understand or care what’s going on globally, nationally, even locally.

It’s a perfectly logical and healthy reaction: if you can’t understand or change something that is hurting you, IGNORE it and pretend it doesn’t exist.

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And it’s worked quite well for me for the last ten or so years. Because despite the fact that I have a four year degree in Political Science, where I took a WHOLE BUNCH OF CLASSES on world happenings, past and present, I let all of that knowledge slide out of my brain like a slow but steady leak until there was zero, zilch, zippo left…because I chose to not continuously apply what I learned in the here and now. It’s like not practicing a second language or a musical instrument. Use it or lose it. I opted to lose it. And I have been mostly okay with that.  

I wanted to be a writer not a politician.

But last night my husband made me watch ‘THE NEWS’. He said it was about time I paid attention to some shit that was a little deeper and more important than watching a Facebook post of a cat eating a piece of corn on the cob for a longer period of time than would deem interesting for anyone with any kind of an IQ greater than that of a squirrel. Which is what I was doing when he switched the television to ‘THE NEWS’.

My head jerked up away from my phone. “NOOOOOOO!” I said. “Turn it to something else! It burns my ears and eyes!”

Murder, Murder, Rape, Wall Street Corruption, Murder, Child Molestation, Bank Robbery, Rape, Embezzlement, Murder, Unemployment, Murder, Murder, Murder, Poverty, Airplane Crashes, Murder, Murder Murder, Suicides, Bombings, Suicide Bombings,  WAR WAR WAR. Trump, Hillary,  BLAH, BLAH, BLAH.

Despite him trying to force me to watch, I literally was able to just block it all out like the stubborn brat that I am and make all the reporters voices sound like the adults from Charlie Brown cartoons. “WA, WA, WA WA WA WA , WAWA.”

But then something actually sparked my attention, completely against my will. There was this beautiful young woman, a local here in Spokane, Washington, named Tiffany Smiley,  who spoke about the idea of spending fifteen minutes during this memorial day weekend thinking or doing something to honor our veterans, past and present.  Her husband had been blinded in combat and two of their friends killed. She just wanted them and others to be remembered and honored for serving their country. My eyes and heart opened for the first time in a long while, when it came to thinking about anything beyond my immediate H World and I thought to myself “I could do that. I could pause for a simple fifteen minutes and really think about what Memorial Day is about.”

Here is the link to the newscast:

http://www.krem.com/news/local/spokane-county/spokane-couple-reinforces-meaning-of-memorial-day/218227927

I went to bed with this idea of ‘fifteen minutes’ in my heart and I woke up with it in my head. My morning journaling, which is normally filled with narcissistic vomit just flowed with thoughts about my country, its veterans, the subject of honor and how to honor, the different kinds of war, the reasons for war, all the people globally who have died as a result of war since the beginning of man’s existence. But then those thoughts started to HURT my heart, God they HURT. And I found myself wondering ‘has there ever been peace?’ and I COULD NOT ANSWER THIS QUESTION and my brain pretty much just spiraled out of control and exploded with the realization that my own HEART is a PERPETUAL WAR ZONE and that I AM AS MUCH TO BLAME for war as anyone in this world with my ignorance and my self centered attitude and the fact that I can pretty much pick a fight with a gnat. And God knows lesser things than fights with gnats have started wars.

So, immediately after my journaling, and six cups of coffee and four hours of manic internet research on the history of the the world, all the while thinking “MY GOD how did I MISS all of this in college? Was I drunk the whole time??” I announced to my husband: “I’m going to write a blog post about WAR and why it’s all my fault.”

I wish you could have seen the look on his face. He looked absolutely and completely appalled and I know it took everything in him to very calmly say (in a tone one would use to speak to a psychiatric patient who’s been off her meds for too long) “Well, you might want to be careful with that. It’s a very sensitive subject and considering it’s Memorial Day Weekend, you’re possibly going to piss some people off.”

What I heard him say was: “You are a fucking idiot who has not watched the news in over ten years so you don’t know shit about anything and have no right to write about war you moron wife of mine. I have deep, deep regrets that I distracted you from the corn on the cob cat. I’m not sure what I was thinking there.”

And thems is fighting words even if they aren’t what the real words were.  So I indignantly gathered up all of my college textbooks from the basement including my favorite one that I never read called “Europe Since Napoleon” and stacked those books up on my desk like a BOSS along with “The Essential Rumi” (for balance) and proceeded, while writing this post, to get in a fight with my husband. He just didn’t know it until I told him a couple hours later. Which is exactly what my point is. Sort of.

Think on this idea with me:

According to Conway W. Henderson, a writer about international law and relations, “one source claims that 14,500 wars have taken place between 3500 BC and the late 20th century, costing 3.5 billion lives, leaving only three hundred years of peace.”

Here is a website that lists chronologically the most renowned wars if you want to get upset, I mean educated, with me:

http://www.datesandevents.org/events-timelines/24-timeline-of-war.htm

This doesn’t include all the undocumented battles that occur everyday on a local, individual and molecular level. Like my little battle with my husband that he didn’t know about until I told him. But that’s documented now: 14,501.

And obviously those three hundred years of “peace” did not happen consecutively because there would be a book about it somewhere detailing 300 years of happy sighs and joyful singing and a whole bunch of ‘who begat who’ lists. And the reality is that while begetting is quite enjoyable (wink wink)  it would be a pretty boring read without any smoting in there somewhere, which is WHY (in my fruitlessly educated opinion) there have not been very long periods of peace. Someone is always smoting someone for begetting someone they shouldn’t have. It’s a vicious cycle of begetting and smoting.

Plus! Not only can we not agree on how to achieve world peace (I just read a summary of nine different peace theories that could possibly work for for the MAJORITY of us if everyone would just agree on one, which we can’t because a majority in peace means a minority is pissed and ready to rumble and that’s not World Peace), we can’t actually define what peace actually IS because it’s a subjective word and the reality is that sometimes one person’s peace comes at the expense of another’s. (Just ask one of my six children at any given moment.) So even when we might be in a brief period of not killing each other, we are still at least scowling at each other over the fence because of at least one of the three major causes of war: economics, power and religion. (The H World Cause of War Theory of begetting the wrong person and then getting smoted for it fits nicely in all three of these causes if you zero in the lens).

The reality is that war IS as much my fault as anyone’s. NO you dirty minded, wretched people, I haven’t been begotten by someone who should not have been begetting me (at least in recent times). BUT I AM a prickly bitch much of the time and my heart always seems to be fighting about something. I get mad and bitter when I am broke. I get angry and defensive when I think I have been made to feel small and powerless. And I have slammed the door on evangelists who don’t speak my spiritual language when I could have at least offered them a drink of water. We ALL need a drink of water every now and then.

So on this Memorial Day my hope is to ponder what it means to have peace in my own heart. Or at LEAST a temporary ceasefire when my family comes together for ribs and cornbread. This is the one thing I CAN do to honor the brave people who have made the ultimate sacrifice, for MY country YES, most absolutely and assuredly, but also those who died on “the other side” whose loved ones mourn equally. Death is brutal, painful and certain for all of us, even when there is NOT war. And while I can only try and fix my own heart in this broken world, you’ve all read the famous Albert Einstein quote:

“I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones.”

the reality is we (and I) will probably always be at war in some way shape or form. It’s what we do. We, most of us, are lost and angry and scared people who lash out. And I speak for myself ONLY when I say that burying my head in the sand is not going to stop it. Nor is fighting with mostly innocent gnats and husbands.

But I can from this moment on keep my

eyes wide open,

heart as well

for with knowledge and love

there’s a story to tell

I just made that up. But it sounds rather poetic and hopeful.

#MemorialDay15

I am Not a Peacemaker

It’s so simple in theory: if each and every one of us would be kind both to ourselves and to others, be humble in our actions and try to at least acknowledge a point of view that is different from our own there would be peace in the world.

I believe this with all my heart and every day I wake up with the idea that ‘I will be where it starts; it will begin with me, this thing called peace.’

But then my family wakes up and the peace plan goes all to hell when just one of them speaks, causing a chain reaction of more speaking and in four seconds an argument. Pretty much from then on all that comes out of my own mouth are things like: “stop it”, “knock it off”, “quit it”, “go to your rooms” and when I have finally had enough the taboo phrase “everybody just shut the hell up!”

It is mystifying what my children will argue about.  Even more so that I too end up involved with debates like “would you rather change gender every time you sneeze or not be able to tell a muffin from a baby”.

I didn’t make that up.

Really. Ask them. They spent over an hour arguing about this one. Loudly.

Actually wait! DON’T ask them! It will just bring the noise level up as they rehash things. I haven’t bought muffins for months because of that one. Mainly so they will quit asking me to have another baby so we can determine just how similar they already are to muffins, that it could be an easy mistake.

My sister and I were both raised to be quiet, non-confrontational, respectful girls which meant we had to agree with everything our parents said or risk “the glare” from dad which would silence us immediately or worse yet, having to duck to save ourselves from the impact of whatever object mom happened to have in her hand. Once it was a frying pan. I don’t have a clear memory of what I said to her (I may have been slightly concussed because I did not duck in time) but I was old enough to know better so it was probably something surly. It was just how things worked back then.

Needless to say, I grew up in a very quiet household. The loudest fights we had involved occasional door slamming (until my mom took my door off the hinges) and the silent treatment.

Sometimes I think it would be nice if my children used silence as a weapon of war every so often. For something different. Instead of arguing, yelling, hitting and doing gross things to each other.

Just this morning, Grant told me David hocked a loogie (I don’t even know how to spell that word) on the hardwood floor of Daniel’s newly cleaned room and then quietly walked away with a satisfied smirk because Daniel had slapped David in the face for doing something that has yet to actually be clarified. Grant declared it justified since hitting is generally not condoned. He thought quietly to himself that it was a very ingenious little brother way to get back at Daniel the neat freak.  But he made David clean up the green glob because that’s just gross. And also generally not condoned. But giggled at much more than hitting.

This kind of stuff goes on constantly. There is almost NEVER quiet and things are rarely peaceful. Not one of them has any problem speaking up or out to us or each other: telling, defending, complaining, declaring and dealing out punishments to each other. It’s almost like a mini-mafia.

The four younger kids held court at breakfast the other day. They all decided that because Dillin ate three times his allotted share of orange cinnamon rolls the day prior he would get ZERO the next time we made them. There was some name calling and trembling voices over the injustice. They carried out the sentencing the very next morning with self-righteous, icing smeared smiles. Dillin never noticed because they ate them all before he woke up. But justice was served regardless.

But here’s the thing. Right now as I type this, with my headphones on to block out the noise, I am watching the three little boys gathered around Duncan, who is having dinner here tonight. Their faces are filled with complete adoration. Maria is grinning big as she and Duncan loudly banter back and forth. Dillin is working but his girlfriend Maggie, who is laughing right now, is comfortable enough with us to stay for dinner (so it can’t be all THAT bad here). And I think to myself that despite the fact that I may never become completely accustomed to the noise level or the loogies or the occasional aggravated assault, at the end of the day there is rarely pent up anger or resentment floating in the air. There is never any doubt where we each stand or how we feel. We are a family who gets it all out on the table and then makes up, both equally as loud. And it clears the air so there is room for laughter and joy and complete and total love.

It turns out that love is not peaceful.