Through All of It

Life is full of it. Everyone we meet has it. More realistically, they have piles of it.

What is it?

Everyone’s it is different. Some its are temporary – A season of unemployment that stretches beyond the reach of the emergency reserves. A rough patch in your marriage where you and your spouse aren’t in the same book much less on the same page. A family member graces the local brewpub more frequently than they grace the family dinner table. The diagnosis is serious but cure is worse than the ill. There’s no telling how long these its will last.

Still other times, it singes like flames devour a wooden frame and a lifetime of photographs. It chimes like a doorbell at 2 a.m. rung by the hand of a highway patrolman doing his duty. It pierces the heart swiftly and cleanly as a disgruntled employee sweeps through the work place. It is a bucketful of pills to manage the symptoms of an illness that isn’t going away. It is the undeniable form of a loved one twisted neatly under a blue drape at an accident scene.

In other words, some its are permanent. There’s no undoing it. There’s no rewinding it. There’s no replacing it.

We all have it. There’s no getting around it. We all have to figure out what are we gonna do with it?

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Simmering in Saturday

Raise your hand if you collect toys. Any kind of toys – garden toys, craft toys, electronic toys, car toys, sports toys, horse toys, or any one of the endless examples of the shiny things that capture our attention and are fun to collect. Me? One of my weaknesses is kitchen toys.

Two fairly recent additions to my kitchen – the electric pressure cooker and the sous vide cooker. Two appliances pretty much on opposite ends of the cooking spectrum – one designed to cook quickly and the other slowly. One pressures ingredients to maturity while the other caresses a recipe to fullness. (If you’ve never used a sous vide, it is essentially a heating element that sits in a water bath providing a gentle heat that cooks your ingredients to a perfect and precise temperature. If you don’t have one, I highly recommend it – especially for steaks. I digress.)

In a weird way, this got me to thinking about how we handle suffering.

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Grief School Lesson #1: They Said What?

Grief isn’t taught in schools. Most of us learn about grief and how to grieve in the “school of hard knocks.” Baptism by fire, if there ever was. Because we are running around not knowing what to do or what to say, it often falls upon those who are grieving to “teach” those around them what to do and say. With that in mind, every now and then, we’ll open up the doors of “Grief School” here at Dances With a Limp. 

Ready for Lesson #1?

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Ain’t Nobody Got Time for That

Many parts of the country have been experiencing higher than average rainfall totals. However, when I arrived back home to Louisiana earlier this week, I wasn’t prepared for the deluge that engulfed me. Not actual raindrops. Worse. I found myself twisting about in one of life’s “perfect storms.”

A leaky pipe approached from the East. We saw that one coming, and I had planned to address this issue during this trip home. Scheduling weeks in advance, I had one day – and only one day – carefully devoted to the leaky pipe. What I hadn’t seen were the squirrels approaching from the South. Apparently, a gang of squirrels that had made themselves quite comfy in the laundry room over the winter. There’s more. A dead car battery barreled in from the North. The old Jeep wouldn’t crank. I was on foot and at the mercy of friends until I could get it running.  These three events collided on my radar to form a Perfect Storm.

Ain’t nobody got time for that.

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Inside Out

Even if you do not live in an area that celebrates Mardi Gras, most of us have at least heard of it. For some, it is a “bucket list” item to visit New Orleans during Mardi Gras where it is an entire season beginning in January and running through “Fat Tuesday.” Yesterday, the revelry of Mardi Gras faded into the reverence of Lent marked by Ash Wednesday. The gluttony of Fat Tuesday gave way to the fasting of the Lenten season. The seduction of Carnival conceded to the sacrifice of Lent.

Just as the Mardi Gras season is brimming with rituals and symbolism, the Lenten season is as well. On Ash Wednesday, heads that just the day before donned elaborate masks and flamboyant headdresses now bear ashen crosses. Millions of people observe the rituals of their faith by “giving up” something (meat, sugar, chocolate, beer, wine, smoking, etc.). 

In so many ways, the things that we choose to give up during Lent – though well-intentioned – miss the mark.

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Because that Was Yesterday

I’m a pot-stirrer by nature. Yet, I am also very much non-confrontational. My pot-stirring is geared toward the “sport” of discussion and debate more than for drawing argument. In the end, I’m really more interested in generating ideas and seeing where ideas intersect than creating division. In the end, I detest rancor and discord.

With such competing qualities about me, I shouldn’t be surprised to find myself in conflict from time to time. In fact, I should come to expect it – except when I’m minding my own business. This is exactly where I found myself this past weekend. Minding my own business one minute. Ambushed and fully engulfed in spiritual and emotional hostility the next.

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You Say It’s Your Birthday

Funny thing before we delve into this week’s blog – first, I’m late again. Thankfully, I might be the only one keeping track. Second – I’m early. Yep, this is the blog that I had in mind for next week – when my daughter, Megan, turns 21. Due to a twisted turn of events – namely that I am wholly unable to keep proper track of time these days – I present next week’s blog this week:

Do you remember what you did for your 21st birthday? Or your 18th? 10th? 30? 50? – pick your milestone poison. You likely have fond memories of that day, unless you landed in jail, in which case I hope enough time has passed that you can look back and laugh.

What if something worse (much worse) than jail happened on your birthday?  My mother’s oldest brother, Mike, died of a heart attack – on his daughter’s birthday. Yes, there isn’t much worse that can happen on your birthday than for your dad to die of a heart attack.  It’s awfully hard after that to look forward to another birthday much less ever to look upon that particular day with anything other than heartbreak. Or is there?

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