'Be anxious for nothing..." ~Philippians 4:6

Monday, August 13, 2018

MONDAY MOTIVATION

"Once you do what you can do, you know, 
then you rest easy...
People need time to refresh and to reflect...
Before you can really push off hard on the next part of the journey of your life, 
you've gotta, kind of, see what just happened, 
and understand it, 
and know how it's affected you..." 
~ FLOTUS, Michelle Obama

#MondayMotivaton

MONDAY THOUGHTS

"Anybody can sing a song. We don't own them...
I just like to live with a song."
~Aretha Franklin

ITS BUSINESS


In spite of his or her desire to bend or ignore them, I shouldn't have to remind a professional of the rules, procedures, and laws concerning his or her trade-- but I can, and will. Thanks internet. You are good, and your information (a great deal of it accurate) endureth forever.

Don't mess with people who had to use weighty dictionaries and encyclopedias, GO to a library, and learn the Dewey Decimal System. We KNOW how to find information, remember and comprehend what we read, and spew it with emphasis.

Don't ever think, when your business schemes fail, you can bully someone into submission by proxy. Your proxy will get his or her face cracked, too. Information is a powerful weapon even when wielded by those perceived to be insignificant. 
Though some labor under the misapprehension that niceness is synonymous with clueless-ness, weakness, or ignorance, they should not--and make a grave mistake when they do. Bullying, intimidation, fast-talking, and other shady, snake-like behavior only works on those who are neither aware of their rights, nor the responsibilities that accompany them. Further, they are not aware of the penalties of relaxing or dismissing the rules.
Endeavoring to get over on nice people (who read) is the quickest way to see their smiles turn upside-down. Being pleasant is cool, but as long as they have THEIR business hats on, you keep YOURS on, too. I prefer being nice, agreeable, helpful, and accommodating. I detest drama, confrontation, unnecessary competition, and stress, but I've learned that business-- conducted well-- with integrity--is not a bad thing. 
There comes a time, when keeping quiet is not prudent. You may have to remind or even read to people the basics you have learned--basics that they, as professionals, SHOULD already know and should be sharing with you.
You can always tell when people perceive you to be a pushover. They might as well launch into baby-talk and hand you a teaspoon of strained peas. Perhaps it's the way people have always treated you, but you have to own that you allowed it. You don't, however, have to continue.
In business--whatever it is--don't get comfortable. Read. Research. Haste makes waste. There's a danger in being too familiar and casual. Be careful and discerning about who's in your ear. Be wise. Don't get weary or allow yourself to be influenced by impatient or uninformed individuals. Don't be overwhelmed by pushy individuals. That's when careless and even costly mistakes are made. Sometimes, you simply have to tell people to back off. When you're armed with the right information, they WILL.
Document, ask questions, and take names. KNOW YOUR RIGHTS. 

Whatever is right, whatever is true, whatever is standard, whatever is acceptable, whatever is above board, whatever is legal--think on these things. 
If they don't respect the tenets of the business in which they are engaged, that's on them. However, don't YOU take a nap.
#integritymatters 
#readingisfundamental 
#keepyoureyesopen

ART IS SUBJECTIVE

I've been challenged concerning my ability to separate the art from the artist. I don't have to like you to support what you do. Liking you as a person is a perk, and an even bigger perk if I actually know you. I do, however, think that my appreciation of what you do should be a prerequisite to any expectation of my attention, promotion, appreciation, or support. 

If I don't like it, I don't throw my money at it, or waste my time showing up and suffering through, or faking interest. It doesn't matter who else is going to be there. If I just want to hang out with a group of people, I can do that without being subjected to noise, junk, or mediocrity.

In this age of "likes", your presence is often misrepresented as, or perceived as endorsement. What you lend your name, reputation, time, and energy to, matters. What's laughable is the notion that the endorsement of anything or anyone even remotely associated with you, is an endorsement from you as well. Not so. If you don't think what you have to offer is of any merit unless specific people give it the thumbs up, you handicap yourself, and ignore a potentially appreciative audience. 

Tastes vary, and many have proven that there's always an audience for just about anything. When an audience is found, why waste time lamenting who isn't in it. Stressing over, or being angry or disappointed about who isn't there, is a sign that one enjoys what one does at a lesser degree than one's desperate need for certain others to enjoy it. Worrying about who isn't there may expose one's need to compete with, needle, or one-up others who are engaged in the same activity --and one needs to seriously address that. Why minimize the favor shown by those who actually showed up, by stewing over who didn't?

The accolades given to the artist shouldn't overshadow the beauty of the art. Isn't the art the point? Unfortunately some artists diminish their art by revealing that what they really seek is attention for themselves. When the art is intrinsically tied to who they are, the minute the art diminishes or is no longer relevant, self-worth suffers. Fans are fickle. At some point, artists have to not only love what they do, they have to love it regardless of whether others do or not.

So...do you, do it well, and celebrate those who celebrate you. Don't stoop to making others look bad in order to elevate yourself, or bashing those who aren't on board with your artistic agenda. Consumers of Art have a perfect right to their tastes. Unfortunately, many equate a rejection of their art as a rejection of them as people. That can't be farther from the truth. That's the dilemma. Some can't separate the art from the artist, so they reject both, while some artists can't separate themselves from their art and take it deeply personally when it is not widely regarded.

Interestingly, when some people fail to get the audience they desire, they go after what they perceive to be the next best thing--a default audience that has close ties to their desired audience. If they can't get you, they chase down who they believe is your representative as if they've executed a successful coup. Despite the nature of a representative, a representative is not the person they represent. They have feelings, ideas, moods, likes, and experiences of their own.
I know for a fact that I was asked to participate in particular things because the organizer hoped Richard Smallwood would show up. If he had, the purpose of his presence would have been hijacked. 
I feel sorry for people who are delusional enough to think that they have the right to test the strength of your relationships, use them to their advantage, and manipulate the people closest to you. Perhaps they forgot that you are in constant contact with those who are closest to you, and you do discuss, and even laugh about the schemes that others employ. It's not required that I approve of the people with whom my friends work.  I'd tell anyone, when lucrative opportunities come, unless the alliance will cause harm, damage a reputation, or future work, or is with a psychopath or Satan, "Do your best, and go get that check". This notion that you have to be enamored of people to work with them is ridiculous. I mean, it helps, but it is not mandatory. Get that coin, and if they're truly strong, your alliances will survive--in spite of the divisive schemes of some self-absorbed, manipulative jerk who thinks that they have the power to influence, or draw away those with whom you have healthy working and personal relationships. That's just a devil. That's what that is. Stomp on it, keep it moving (all the way to the bank), and like what you like--freely and apologetically.

One of the tricks of advertising is to get a popular person to endorse a product. The hope is, that if Consumer A likes the product, Consumers B, C, D, and E will jump on board--sight unseen. Remember the Vitameatavegemin episode of "I Love Lucy"? It didn't taste like candy. Lucy had to get drunk off of it to appreciate it. The director told her, "No, no, no. You're supposed to like the stuff!" I fear there's a lot of that going on. Someone is telling you that something is good, or expecting you to like it just because they do. You've experienced it, and have concluded it's not, and you don't.  You have a right to prefer the Art that motivates, inspires and moves you, even if that means being in the "out" crowd.

I'd think that producers of a product would just prefer that you actually like the stuff as opposed to just saying you do, stocking up on it, and never opening it. We don't all share one brain. We don't all have to like the same things. It doesn't make you a hater if you choose to decline one offering or another. It just means you know what you like, and have no desire to betray that. 
Art is subjective. What's that old saying? "One man's trash is another man's treasure". The climate I've noticed in some circles is a groupthink mentality that has promoted mediocrity so much, that the mediocre now believe they're outstanding, beloved, and superior to that which is truly excellent. I've noticed a tendency by some to dismiss that which is , timeless, and deservedly relevant, but they can try until they are blue in the face. People know what's good, and they will search and find it even when it is not being offered. There really is nothing new under the Sun, just different players, and a lot of players are riding on the coattails and hanging on to the remnants of supernovas. Were it not for what came before, some things would not be. 
I'm a baby boomer, and I'm spoiled rotten when it comes to Art. My eyes and ears and senses will mutiny if I expose them to something and try to make them think it's good when it is merely a poor or desperate attempt to mirror someone else's work. Packaging is fine, but it is useless, deceptive and disappointing if what's inside is rotten, sub par, or an assault upon your senses. 
It's a shame when the Art can't truly speak or be appreciated because of the antics, personality, reputation, or demeanor of the artist, but it happens all the time.

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

GRATEFUL


"I waited patiently for the Lord; and HE inclined unto me, and heard my cry.
HE brought me up also out of an horrible pit; out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings, and HE hath put a new song in my mouth--even praise unto our God. Many shall see it, and fear, and shall trust in the Lord.
Blessed is that man that maketh the Lord his trust, and respecteth not the proud, nor such as turn aside to lies..." ~Psalm 40:1-4 KJV


"I waited patiently for the Lord; HE turned to me and heard my cry. HE lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; HE set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. HE put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear the Lord and put their trust in him. Blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, who does not look to the proud, to those who turn aside to false gods..." ~Psalm 40:1-4 NIV


"I waited and waited and waited for God. At last HE looked; finally HE listened. HE lifted me out of the ditch, pulled me from deep mud. HE stood me up on a solid rock to make sure I wouldn’t slip. HE taught me how to sing the latest God-song, a praise-song to our God. More and more people are seeing this: they enter the mystery, abandoning themselves to God. Blessed are you who give yourselves over to God; turn your backs on the world’s “sure thing," ignore what the world worships..." ~Psalm 40:1-4 The Message

Sunday, July 29, 2018

CAREGIVER DIARIES


I was in bed reading tweets from @zionsays and was motivated by one that read: "Get up and make your way to church". I said "Okay" out loud. 
I had been listening to Youtube messages on Zion's channel for most of the previous evening, and early this morning. (Youtube and streaming worship services--not just for the sick or afflicted anymore.) 

I miss going to church--to an actual brick and mortar location. I do. It used to be a no-brainer. It was just what I did. I was raised to go to church. It was mandatory. It was a good habit. There was a time when there was no thought as to where I would be on any given Sunday morning, Wednesday evening, or whatever day choir rehearsal would be. I knew. Going to church and participating in some ministry was like breathing. It was normal. It was what I was supposed to do. It was what I loved to do. Sunday was built for church. It was God's day. You didn't do anything else. No matter what happened the rest of the week, or on Saturday night, I knew where I would be on Sunday morning. Being tired, or not feeling like it weren't options. You had to be deathbed sick, or kidnapped, bound, and gagged in some underground bunker to miss church. I marvel sometimes at how drastically that has all changed, and ponder when the change happened.

There's a lot about church life that I don't miss, and have no desire to ever experience again, but I do miss regularly being among others who love God, and have a singular desire to worship Him--period. No ego-driven show, no drama, no bullies, no committees, no ridiculous, manipulative, time-wasting, people-centered, God-starved obligations, activities, practices, or impositions, just worship. So, I decided this morning, as convenient as online streaming and giving is, I was going to go. I watched as the praise team sang, and as wonderfully as it was transmitting through my ailing computer, and I wanted to be in the building. I reminded myself how possible that was now. "You know, you really can go. There's nothing stopping you."

While I was caring for Dad, Sunday became a true sabbath, though. The Thompsons or Hainsboroughs faithfully picked him up every Sunday morning, and those hours he would be away gave me a chance to regroup. Some Sundays, I would just sit and enjoy the quiet. I needed the rest. I find that I still do, sometimes. In a lot of ways, I feel as if, in mind and body, I'm still recuperating from that experience. Sometimes, I give myself permission to do nothing. That, I realize can be debilitating. I've never been lazy. I've always had a purpose. I've always been a homebody, too. If I don't have to go, I don't. I don't mind being at home. "Home", however, is about to take on new meaning. Taking care of someone is, too. Now, that person is me. You'd think that should be easy. Why is it easier to take care of someone else? But I digress...

I got up. I gave myself enough time. I know me. I hate rushing and being rushed--always have. I know I have a tendency to dawdle, or maybe it's normal to just take time to be awake; to walk about a bit; check the house; drink a glass of water; stretch; sit; say hey to God; look out of the window; turn off the night lights; find out what happened in the world while I slept; stretch some more.
I know I can get sidetracked by something I think needs to be done before I go out. I don't know. Maybe it's my upbringing. There was no closing doors to hide stuff, or throwing things in closets with my late mother, and it stuck. Mommy said, "Never leave looking better than the place you left", and "You never know how you're going to have to come back home". Yeah. Before I go out, I make sure my bed is ready to crawl back into it. It may not have military corners and folds, but I at least shake out the sheets and comforter and fluff the pillows. No. I don't leave dirty dishes. I make sure there's no trash to take out; no wilted leaves on plants; no unopened mail. It's not a full-out Spring cleaning, but environment matters. I just like being in, and coming back to an orderly place, so I build in time for that kind of stuff.

Yesterday, I decided to gather all of my canvases and put them in the trunk of my car. Today, I noticed there were three I'd missed. I took them upstairs and put them near the kitchen door, washed the bowl and pot I'd left soaking in the sink last night, and put a load of dark clothes in the washing machine. I was on a roll. I'd already emptied my dresser drawers, and hung up every article of clothing I owned. I knew there was something ready to throw on. All I had to do was shower, get dressed, and go. Then, for some reason, I looked at the remaining artwork I had propped against the hearth of the fireplace. I started rifling through it. There was a print I've always liked, that I'd placed in a pink, 18"x24" metal frame about two years ago. I remembered there was a nail still in a wall of my bedroom. I don't know what possessed me to take the print to my room and hang it, but seconds after I did, it came crashing straight down to the floor--a carpeted floor--nevertheless, the glass shattered. I just stood there, silently staring at the mess for what seemed like a good 5 minutes. "You can't leave that there", I thought. 
I shook my head. 
I'd made work for myself.

The carpet is a bit like camouflage. It's one of those woven designs that looks splotchy; like mange; mildew-y; like a satellite image of a forest. It's good at hiding stuff. I've never liked the carpet, other than its thickness. When the rest of the basement was newly carpeted, the "good" remnant of the mange-y looking carpet was placed in the room simply to cover the cold, tiled floor. The carpet is beige, brown, greenish grey and taupe--in other words, the shattered glass just disappeared into it. Only the light above revealed the path of the destruction. I knew not to walk barefoot towards the twinkling. I also knew the cleanup was a job for the Shop Vac. I went upstairs to get it from the laundry room and grabbed the bucket, too. I put on a pair of thick-soled flip flops. I picked up all of the large pieces of glass and put them into the bucket. Then, I picked up all of the smaller pieces I could see. There were tiny pieces of glass still stuck to the frame, so I plucked those out, and removed the print. 
Underneath the print, there was an old watercolor of my grandmother I'd given to Mommy as a gift. I'd painted my grandmother standing in her yard in front of her house--waiting for her ride to church. I shook my head at the irony. 

I knew I shouldn't stop to wax nostalgic, or figure out what I would do to brighten the colors, or grab my cell phone to snap a picture of it and edit it, or call my cousin to see if she wanted it. All of those things came to mind, but I put the print, the painting, and the frame aside, then turned on the Shop Vac. I went back and forth, up and down, side to side, crisscross, and vertically with that hose until I could no longer hear pieces of glass being sucked into the canister. I vacuumed under and beside the dresser, under the bed, near the closet--all in places where there was no glass, but I wanted to cover all bases. When I turned off the Shop Vac, I was sure I'd covered every inch of that carpet, but something told me to get the old Kirby upright vacuum. It's heavy, but I figured I needed to run the "good" vacuum cleaner. I lowered the brush so there would be greater suction. It was hard pushing the vacuum with it so close to the floor, but I wanted to make sure there was no more glass embedded in the carpet. I stood back and could see tiny reflections of light, so I ran the vacuum again. 
I found a bag, broke up the large pieces of glass, then placed the bag inside another one. Then I emptied the Shop Vac, and cleaned the bucket to make sure there were no more pieces of glass inside either.
The whole enterprise took a little over an hour--an hour I could have been getting ready to go to church. There I was, sweating, tired, and hungry, and no longer motivated to go anywhere. "The devil" I thought. "No, ma'am", said the Voice of Reason. "Nobody told you to hang that picture. You didn't have that to do. What did you do that for? Just couldn't stand seeing those empty walls, huh?"
I went to the bathroom, washed my face and hands, then remembered the eggs I'd boiled yesterday.
"This was not how you were supposed to spend today", I thought as I was making tuna salad. 

I went back downstairs and looked at the thumbtack that also fell when the picture frame fell. It had been strong enough to hold the lightweight canvas that had been on the wall, but not the framed, glass-covered print. Something told me it wasn't going to hold it. It didn't want to. It was as if the wall and the thumbtack yelled "No!" and rebelled and rejected having anything else placed upon them--at least by me anyway. That print had been hanging on the wall behind the sofa for a time, and then over the mantle for as long as I've been here, and it had never fallen. It had never been hung professionally, but its weight had never been an issue. Today, as soon as I stepped back to admire it and see if it was crooked, it hit the floor.  As clear as I bell I heard, "Stop doing home-making type things. Just stop. Yes, you're still here until everything is finalized, so there are things you can and should do every day just because you're here--and you should care about your surroundings--but you're leaving, remember? Stop hanging stuff as if you're staying. Stop looking for places where you think something will look nice. Stop beautifying. Take down. Take out. Resume packing. It's time to go. If you're gonna make work for yourself, work toward moving out of here."

The picture falling and the glass breaking--even the sound of it breaking, and the silence afterward-- wasn't just Physics for me, it was a sign. There have been other signs. In my dream a few nights ago, Mommy was still alive, but she was sick in bed. Several adults invited a group of children to visit, and the children were screaming and running all over the place. I was crying and asking the adults whether they cared if Mommy was sick and needed rest, but they were enjoying a feast at the kitchen table; completely ignoring my pleas and the children's behavior. I realize that the My purpose for being here has ended. The things I cared about don't matter any more here. The people I cared about--my parents--are gone. These walls, this house, will soon belong to someone else. Someone else will be attending to, maintaining, and decorating them. Change can be daunting, but it's time for me to start over, start new, start fresh. The hope of finding and enjoying somewhere else, the community, contentment, comfort, peace, safety, strength, voice, and security that I finally found here, is at the forefront of my thoughts, but I remembered what I heard in one of the Youtube messages: "Do it scared".

I didn't like the work I made for myself, or not getting to Zion, but I tried to find some good in it: The service was streaming, the tuna was delicious (even though I didn't have any celery), the carpet is clean, and there's a 3, 5, and 9 PM service I can get to if I want to go--and if I don't dawdle. 

#herestolife
#startingover 
#selfcare

Friday, July 27, 2018

FRIDAY WISDOM



“Love does not insist/force itself. 
It simply exists and requires nothing of you.
Ego needs to be seen--
even if it must assume/consume someone else’s light to do so.” 

~Anita Baker