Archive for May, 2012

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Photo Credit: http://www.kekeran.com/2012/05/signs-of-addiction-to-facebook.html

Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one.  ~Albert Einstein

      Ah, the joys of Facebook.  Who amongst us doesn’t two-time their day job by just a few hours or so in order to find out what your elementary school friends’  kids are up to, where they are currently vacationing or spending their retirement at forty,  as you allegedly work, or perhaps glean and pass on a few quotes, pictures, posters, videos, and blogs of wisdom.  Seriously, who doesn’t have time NOT TO know the comings and goings of the world wide wonderland?

Because once you know the status of your peeps, their peeps, and their peeps’ peeps, it brings you to the next most exciting part of Facebook:  The COMMENTS section.  You can always LIKE something and your “person” knows that you just internally nodded in agreement with them, as if to say “Right On”  You can write back a witty or humorous reply or my personal favorite; a politically or socially incorrect and controversial reply and then check back later and see if you are still “friends”.    You can write something stunningly profound only to be commented on by absolutely no one!  Or you can read a post, and silently ignore it and berate the fact that these people are your “friends.”  The part I like best about Facebook? Every day of the year, it is someone’s birthday, a chance to remember that this is the day God picked another amazing friend’s debut 16, 23, 45, 56, 67,  or 89 years ago.

One of the things that intrigues me the most about Facebook, besides the fact that there is a green man behind the curtain who is collecting and documenting your entire life for future sinister purposes (or so I’ve been told), is that sometimes when you try to comment or share on someone else’s wall, you are sometimes “face-slapped” with a message similar to these:

You don’t have sufficient permission to perform this action. (Since when did that stop me in real life?)

Your friend requires a permission certificate to perform this action.  (What?  How?  Where do I get that from?)

Facebook has encountered an error.  Please try again later.    (Darn it, is Zuckerman and the gang downing shots again instead of minding their servers?)

But my all-time favorite is this one:

Thanks for Your Help   Thanks for your feedback. You can Undo this action or Report it as abusive.

These messages always tick me off because I usually had something really important to say or share.  I know if I don’t do it right this minute, the opportunity will pass, and the outcome of my social media-inclined friends may be forever altered by what they didn’t get to know.

You can also post pictures of yourself as a baby, as you were in high school, after an incredible haircut or makeover, or after you dropped dozens of pounds, of which sadly I don’t think I’ll ever get the joy of posting.   Of course, we (but this is not limited to our friends’ photos of us) would never post our own ugly pictures, lest anyone get the truest impression of who we actually are.    You can post your vacations, your kids with their trophies, the biggest fish you didn’t catch, and any significant possessions you wish to make others envious of.  You can post pictures and links to causes near and dear to your heart.  You can post your life 24/7/365 in real time from the mundane to the incredulous.    You can start a page for your dog, your new baby, or the groups you are in.

And now the biggest blog in the atmosphere has gone public this week.  Before the first major media reporters finished their sentences about what a smoking hot IPO Facebook would be, there was already a wave of reports about how maybe it’s not actually worth one hundred gazillion dollars after all, since they don’t offer “product”, and there may possibly be a mass exodus if a floodgate of ads outnumber your friends’ status posts.   Investors around the world experienced the exhilaration of diving in, panic, and ultimately, were eventually subdued into accepting that it may be take more than the length of time it takes to post a comment to see if their financial decision would pay out.

The only thing I ever invested in Facebook was too much time I could have spent living my actual life somewhere else, basically doing things that were real.  Still, whether you have two or sixteen thousand and forty two  friends, alleged friends, or people you have no idea who they are on your Facebook, every now and then, in terms of sheer friendship and fact collecting, don’t you sometimes already feel like a zillionaire?

As I wrap this up, I am about to step foot bravely out in the real world without benefit of an undo or delete button as I say things and make decisions, hopefully without being reported as abusive.   Wish me luck!

Everything you can imagine is real.  ~Pablo Picasso

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Serendipity means a “happy accident” or “pleasant surprise”;  specifically, the accident of finding something good or useful without looking for it.      Wikipedia

“Vital lives are about action. You can’t feel warmth unless you create it, you can’t feel delight until you play, you can’t know serendipity unless you risk.”   Joan Erickson

      Have you ever packed a suitcase, gotten in the car, and just drove off with no destination in mind?  I highly recommend it.    It goes like this.  Pick a predetermined amount of miles you want to travel, say about a hundred.  Leave your neighborhood and then turn right. Now, drive a hundred miles, but only make right turns (or left–whatever floats your boat).  Where are you now?  The interstate?  A weird street in a subdivision? The middle of a farmer’s field?    Anyway, somewhere about now, turn on your GPS and find the coolest places closest to right about here.  Or the absolute best way pick a destination?  Close your eyes.  Stand in front of the map of either the United States or the state you live in.  Now put your finger out in space and try and hit the map.  Open your eyes.  If you are not in the ocean or on a remote island, then that is where you need to head to.   Now get your keys.  Let’s roll.

I call this the Leap Before You Look decision process, also known as the Serendipity Principal.  For most people, it’s really hard to do—to  just get in a car, with the bare essentials—your wallet, a toothbrush, a change of clothes, a swiss army knife (I always have a swiss army knife, unless flying –you just never know!). To wake up and to literally not know where you’ll be by dinner time tonight for most people sounds too crazy, a little big unhinged.  For most people it sounds…unsafe, maybe down right scary.  Not me; I like to think of it as edgy but not so far as say, living on the edge, which is generally predicated by a fall of some sort.

In 1999, I worked for a major airline when my daughter was 6 and my son was 11 ½.  I was known to wake up and say, “Let’s go to Chicago and see if we can catch a Cubs game today!”    We did this several times.  But one particular unplanned trip stands out.   Just the kids and I got to Chicago, and made it to Wrigley Field via train and bus in record time. The next stroke of luck was scoring two tickets in the second row at the front of the first base line. As soon as we went in, our backpack, and everyone else’s bags or purses were thoroughly searched.  What in the world?  Lucky for us, we had just flown, so no Swiss Army knife was found in my bag.

Well, it turned out President Bill Clinton was coming.  He arrived in the 5th inning.  But thanks to getting our nearly front row seats, we were just a few yards away and diagonally we were about a stone’s throw away under the President’s box seat.  I could read the label on his can of beer.  We were that close.  Forget my political stance; I couldn’t believe hours after waking up without a concrete plan, I’d be watching a baseball game with my sweet kids, seated near the President of the United States!  We woke up that morning, went to the airport with nothing but my Mickey Mouse backpack, and a change of underwear and a toothbrush for each of us, and hoping we’d actually get a flight as we always had to travel stand-by.  Instead we saw Sammy Sosa hit a game winning home run, which was actually a double miracle:  One:  My son’s baseball hero at the time was Sammy Sosa and Two: The Cubs WON!!!    After the amazing game, we ventured over to the Navy Pier and late that night ate the best Chicago pizza!  Our day had started at 5 am, and by 2 am, we had seen the President, witnessed two baseball miracles and were now tucked safely in bed in a random hotel we never had reservations to begin with.  My kids were learning the art of traveling by way of serendipity.

Another time, in 2006, before taking my daughter to school, after hearing on the radio that today was the last day the crew of Extreme Home Makeover was in town, I suddenly found it more important that morning, that she skip school, in order to go see Ty Pennington and crew who were in Raleigh finishing up a home for the TV show.  It was the day of the Big Reveal.  I mean seriously, which is more important, learning how to diagram sentences or learn a new geometry theorem, or watching an entire family’s lives change before your very eyes.  Really, to me it’s a no-brainer.  We shouted “Move that bus!” and got awesome reveal pictures and high-fived Ty as he ran by us.

Last summer, while my daughter was in NYC for a week long dance competition, I rented a car to go see U2 in Philadelphia, which I did plan.  However, once I arrived at the rental company, they had a situation where they couldn’t get me the economy car I requested.  “Would you mind driving a Cadillac instead, no extra charge?”  Me:  Definitely not.  Hey, wait a minute.  There’s no place for ignition keys!  Ah, who cares!

     A saner person may have wondered how I was going to navigate the streets of NYC in a totally computer-equipped, unfamiliar car and get to Philadelphia and back by myself, but not me.    See this is a huge gift God has given me.  I’m always up for the adventureI don’t need a man, or a woman for that matter, beside me to feel secure. At least when it comes to traveling, I don’t necessarily have to have a game plan.  I’m just the co-pilot who happens to be in the driver’s seat.

       I mean I knew I had to get to the concert, but that’s all I needed to know.  I felt confident my 18 year old daughter, already a seasoned solo traveler to NYC (her 6th trip) would be fine for just twenty four hours at the hotel.  (She totally survived without me, probably even thrived!)  Once in Philadelphia, I met up with my husband’s sister who I had not seen in thirteen years and didn’t know what to expect.  She and I had a blast.  I met U2 fans who later became amazing friends.

Only five days later, I would ever so briefly meet Bono and the Edge just outside our hotel, because of a stray comment I accidentally overheard another guest say because I just happened to be checking my U2 concert pics on the hotel lobby’s computers.  I didn’t know they were in NYC since it was the middle of the U2 360 tour.  I was only checking the pictures to kill time, while waiting on my daughter to come down from the room.    Who knew?  My favorite musicians of all time were only yards away from where I was,  yet I met them without planning to. But that’s another blog.

The thing I’ve learned about plans, on vacation and in life,  is that plans are often foiled by the unexpected and end in frustration.  The journeys that are  traveled with an open mind,  and no expectation of outcome often are the ones that become the lasting memories of your heart.

Coincidence is God’s way of remaining anonymous–Albert Einstein

Liz with the mother and father who loved her when we lived in Oberhochstadt, Germany September,1965

Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.  1 Peter 4:8

     What’s love got to do with it?  What’s love but a second hand emotion?  That’s what Tina Turner sang in 1984 when I was living in a mobile home with my then boyfriend.  Tina with her spiky hair, red lipstick, leather skirt, and sultry eyes begged this basic philosophical question when I was just 19.  MTV had just started airing videos, but this one sure struck a nerve in my head.  I knew that by living in a trailer park and “shacking up” I probably wasn’t seen by many who loved me as making the most mature of choices in the name of love.

A few months passed and I viewed the video several more times with friends we used to chill with on “our pit”.  You know, a pit sofa, also known as a sectional sofa, another 1980’s extravaganza.  I digress.  Anyway, I was the first from our group of couples, who in no uncertain terms made clear to my boyfriend, even though Beyoncé was barely out of diapers, that “if you like it, you really need to put a RING on it.”

So moving right along,  it’s May of 1985.  That boyfriend in the trailer?  Well, we got hitched.  OK; married is the upper class word.  We spent our honeymoon is Disney World and I turned 20 there.  Everything was hunky dory…..well, almost.  My mental maturity still hadn’t caught up to my physical maturity.  We worked full time by day, and shared dreams and made plans by night.  Still, insecurity reigned, at least on my part.  I laugh, and sigh a little bit in shame when I look back at all the times I cried over unsubstantiated jealousies,  and dished out bits and fits of rage when my husband worked late, all in the name of trying to improve our lot in life.

Soon our song was more like “Paradise by the Dashboard Light” with me constantly screaming “Do you love me, will you love me forever? Do you need me?  Will you make me so happy for the rest of my life?    We may have tied the knot, but I seemed hell-bent on turning the other end of the rope into a noose around my husband’s neck, insisting that he stay at close range, and to please try, try, try for the thousandth time already to FOCUS more on our relationship (translation: me) than his work.

Ah yes, the crux of every relational woe.  Men go out and must climb the ladder of success to find meaning.  Women want to be the thing at the top they aspire to win, lay claim to, and above all relate to.  Thus begins the long painful journey of discovery.  You learn so much about one another, that you pretended you didn’t know when you were dating, or ‘just going with the flow.”

Like the tide of the ocean, you roll in and out of love with each other.  You hug, you argue, you scream, you laugh, you say you’re sorry, you make up, you make love, you wake up, and you repeat.  Before long, love does feel like a second hand emotion. Which is what exactly? The emotion that’s left over when all the other ones are thoroughly used up?  Anger, jealousy, desire, control?

Responsibilities increase.  Children arrive.  More cares, more things to do; you realize, things aren’t always wonderful, but somewhere in the process of building a home and a life, they’re not exactly terrible.  It’s a happy compromise, often filled with amazing moments.     Time starts to erode the rough edges of our selfishness, but also our dreams we may have had for ourselves a little bit too.

Years keep passing.  Kids go from diapers to car keys in what seems like a blink.  You notice your first gray hair.  One by one the kids leave and go off to college.   You begin to ask yourself, “Who am I now?  Who are we now?”

One of my favorite Christian authors is John Eldredge.  He completely nails this truth regarding love in his book The Journey of Desire:  “God promises every man futility and failure; he guarantees every woman relational heartache and loneliness.”   Think about that for a moment.  It’s true!  If you are old enough to remember life before smart phones, hybrid cars, Facebook, and Twitter, than you have probably already experienced this if you are either a man or a woman.  We learn we can’t have it all (success), give it all (what others need from us), or receive it all (what we need from them).

And sometime, hopefully before we retire, you finally have one of Oprah’s “Ah Ha” moments.  You realize, contrary to Jerry Maguire’s claim, another person cannot complete you.  Nor you, them.  We find our completeness in God.  Because try as we desperately might, we cannot completely arrange the life we desperately want in our head.  John Eldredge continues in The Journey of Desire: “Will life ever be what I so deeply want it to be, in a way that cannot be lost?”  He reminds us “We must have life; we cannot arrange for it.”

Oh, how painful my friends, and how true.  Yet, how totally freeing.  Once you can finally wrap your head around this and accept it, you will be set free.  Free from expecting others to love you the way you most need, and free from the insecurity that attaches to yourself when you feel like you may just not be enough to someone else.    Love will start to become less like a feeling, and more like the decision it was always intended to be—a decision to be true, to stay the steady course, to find a way to navigate through the darkness of life.

Love will be found in words you read and songs you hear in your head.  Love will also be found in deep friendships, and in life’s truest moments:  the majestic places you’ll travel and inspiring people you’ll meet.  Love will be found in the prayers you pray, the tears you shed, and cherished moments you engrave in your heart forever.  Love can even be the quest to act on those dreams you shelved for so long.

Tina was wrong.  Love isn’t a second hand emotion.  It’s a first responder action that saves lives and changes them, maybe even your own, when drawn from a higher power.

What’s love got to do with it?  Everything.

Love is a temple, Love the higher law……  U2  One

 

Galatians 5:13 For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.

Colossians 3:23-24 Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.

I woke up knowing today I would have slightly less freedom because I had to go to work.  I won’t have the luxury of time to focus on my writing. The thing is, I work part time for myself.   Better stated, I work kind of for myself and kind of my clients.  I clean houses.

It’s actually fun.  It’s flexible. Best of all, it lets me determine who I want to work for, when I want to work,  and for how long.  Though I can’t seem to meet my own standards in my household, in terms of organization and cleanliness, cleaning other people’s houses gives me a certain freedom…..in  a restrained sort of way.

See, I still have to show up and honor my commitments.  I still have to do the best job I can, just like if I worked in private industry (I used to work at a major airlines) or for the government (I used to be a teacher’s assistant).    I have the flexibility of picking my start times, working around my kids’ events, and best of all listening to whatever I want.   Sometimes it’s talk radio, a certain 2 letter/digit band, or any variety of music deemed My Favorites which ranges from classical, 1940s,  Christian/Gospel, contemporary, musical theater, country.  You name it; I listen to it.

Here’s the thing.  When I clean, I’m also learning about our current events and political viewpoints and divisions as they occur. If that depresses me, then I switch gears and listen to music that soothes and inspires my soul.  It’s a great job.  I’m working for others helping them have a cleaner home, and hopefully reducing some of their stress and feelings of being overwhelmed in this busy world of managing family, careers, activities, and our own dreams.I’m also working for me!  I’m earning some money, while having the luxury of having time to think or pray for or plan what I want to do with my life.  I also spend a lot of time thinking and praying for others.   I get to self-determine how my future will look, and who I want to be.

Or do I?  I’ve had plenty of time to mull this question over the last few years.  No, scratch that; the last few decades actually!  But I’ve been more acutely aware the last few years, I suppose, while having vast amounts of work time that is seldom interrupted by other people.   The thing is, whether I work at a “place of employment” or “work for myself” I’ve still got a boss.  It could be that jerk down the hall, or it could be that slacker I sometimes refer to as ME.

But beyond earthly bosses of all kinds of temperaments and expectations, we also serve someone else.  After all, where does motivation, or lack there of, come from?  Where does our imagination of how things could or ought to be originate?  Somewhere deep down, we intuitively know, we are working for more than just a paycheck or a position.  We work (in whatever capacity you define work) for someone.

Bob Dylan sang it best; You’re Gonna Have to Serve Somebody.  Who do you work for?   How do you serve?  Do you believe you are “working all things as if unto the Lord” knowing someone bigger is in charge of your life?  Or does it seem you work just for you and you alone are responsible for figuring it all out; paying the bills, planning correctly for a hopefully, if all cards are played right, prosperous future?  Or does it seem like to get ahead, you will have to “sell your soul” so to speak to reach your financial or professional goals?

Rats!  It’s time for me to stop writing and actually go out and work a few hours in the world.  Time goes by too fast, when we’re working at something we love, and often too slowly when we’re working outside of our realm of joy.  And even though the best jobs are never a state of constant bliss (there is a reason it’s called “work”), I guess for me, it helps knowing that wherever my brain, hands, and feet are toiling today, I have a pretty awesome Boss who wants what is good for me.  If you’re feeling stuck today in a job that doesn’t give you joy, I pray you’ll at least find some time to reflect on who your Boss is, get quiet for a little while, and listen to those small stirrings in your soul of what might just bring honor and glory to you both!

Gotta Serve Somebody – Bob Dylan

Partial Lyrics—Full Lyrics available at:

http://www.bobdylan.com/us/songs/gotta-serve-somebody

 

You may be a preacher with your spiritual pride
You may be a city councilman taking bribes on the side
You may be working in a barbershop, you may know how to cut hair
You may be somebody’s mistress, may be somebody’s heir.

But you’re gonna have to serve somebody, yes
You’re gonna have to serve somebody,
Well, it may be the devil or it may be the Lord
But you’re gonna have to serve somebody.

Might like to wear cotton, might like to wear silk
Might like to drink whiskey, might like to drink milk
You might like to eat caviar, you might like to eat bread
You may be sleeping on the floor, sleeping in a king-sized bed.

But you’re gonna have to serve somebody, yes indeed
You’re gonna have to serve somebody,
It may be the devil or it may be the Lord
But you’re gonna have to serve somebody.

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Photo Credits: http://www.boston.com/bigpicture/2012/05/ring_of_fire_eclipse_2012.html

 Yesterday I woke up, and as is my custom, before rolling out of bed, I grab the remote and turn on GMA, while my husband showers as I come to grips with today’s tragedies in the world.  It appears another parent is most likely guilty of the demise of their own child that they profess to love. During a “peaceful protest” this weekend in Chicago, police and citizens clashed amidst blood and billy clubs, and one policeman was stabbed.  BUT….it was “mostly peaceful.”   Facebook launched its smoking hot IPO,  but is it actually a great investment?   Another celebrity got booted off Dancing With The Stars.  A woman continues to recover after losing her leg to a flesh-eating bacteria after jumping off a zip line in the  Little Tallapoosa River.  Maybe George Zimmerman was telling the truth after all.  Robin Gibbs of the Bee Gees died.  Celebrity after celebrity has to deal with the hardships of divorce, botox, loneliness, stalkers, and having their lifestyle diminished in some capacity.  OK; so I’m awake.  I grab the remote, ready to turn it off, when WAIT A MINUTE, what’s this?  A Ring of Fire eclipse??  No way.

Finally!  Some good news!  I know if nothing else, this could be the very thing that will make me have my own personal Good Morning, America!   With fascination and wonder, I learn that this eclipse is a rare annual event; kind of like the birthday I just had a few days earlier.  Annual, in the fact that it’s once a year, and rare, because as we get older, the statistical odds of having another one diminish at an ever-increasing rate.

This eclipse is different than a regular eclipse because the moon, in its orbital trajectory, stands between us and the sun, but the moon appears smaller than it does during a total eclipse.  It doesn’t totally block out the sun; instead,  because of the moon appearing only slightly smaller than the sun, it temporarily erases the daylight and appears as a darkness illuminated by a “ring of fire”.

I think to myself; this is us!  We live our lives in similar fashion: We are satellites, spending our days rotating around other people and other things, going in circles in our own lives,  yet constantly rotating in sync around the lives of those we know and love.  Independently, we go about our tasks, and daily purpose as if it were just us.  We wake up and then we interact with our family, go to our jobs,  get on Facebook, check our email and text messages,  and find out the “daily news”, requests, and demands  that now will determine the tilt of today’s rotation.  Change is our only constant and overwhelmed-ness is our gravity.    By 9:00 am, our day is already altered from the plan we had in our head when we first woke up.

We make a plan.  We live our days.  We try to do what’s right.  And we get tired.  In walks temptation.  Here’s a shortcut.  They’ll never miss something so small.  It’d be easier for me if I just….    I don’t think it’d be a big deal if just this once I…..  He’s just a friend……   I shouldn’t tell you this, but…..    A shortcut here, an easier way to get ahead over there.  Because this or that or them makes me feel better or helps me, now.   We watch the news and justify our thoughts and choices with the rationale at least we’re not like so-and-so!  It doesn’t take long for Temptation to introduce you to his best friend; Deception.

Johnny Cash nailed it in a song, aptly titled “Ring of Fire”.  I fell into a burning ring of fire.  I went down, down, down, and the flames went higher.  And it burns, burns, burns, the ring of fire.  The ring of fire.

Like the moon, we can be, if we so choose, a bright force in the world, when it is at its darkest.  And similarly when the sun shines, sometimes we fade from view, though we are surely there.  We live in a mostly dark universe and often find ourselves pushed and pulled by forces often beyond our own choices.

Within an hour of learning about the Ring of Fire Eclipse, I had already yelled at my six year old to move faster so we wouldn’t be late to school, cursed myself for forgetting things on the way to the car, complained about the duration of the stoplight, and mentally cycled through today’s “To Do”  list.  And then…..I remembered.

I remembered, there is no such thing in this life as a coincidence.  The Ring of Fire Eclipse was God’s gift to me for today.  I had the day off.   Today I could live as the orbiting moon more centered on others expectations for me, than my own dreams, or I could order my day completely different!  I could run a mile.  I could finally start writing and begin a blog. I could eat nothing all day but healthy food.  I could go the rest of the day without complaining.    And SO I DID.

Because, I too have a Son that is always there, lighting my way.  Today I could tap into the Master Creator’s creativity, and though I can be outwardly bright to others, I know I sometimes carry a darkness I try to conceal. But today, I am surrounded by a ring of fire; and fire can sometimes reveal the true beauty found in the dark.

When I was all messed up, and I had opera in my head
Your love was a light bulb,  Hanging over my bed
Baby, baby, baby…light my way.             U2 “Ultraviolet”

Hello world!

Posted: May 22, 2012 in Uncategorized
Tags: ,

Today, I decided to write a few words.  So first I looked for some words about words.  These are just a few quotes that seemed to stick to my soul.  Hi!  My name is Liz.   I have much to be grateful for.   These were the words that aligned with my soul today.  I’m ready….to take the plunge into the unknown and start blogging!  Enjoy!

Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart.  ~William Wordsworth

The role of a writer is not to say what we all can say, but what we are unable to say.  ~Anaïs Nin

And by the way, everything in life is writable about if you have the outgoing guts to do it, and the imagination to improvise.  The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.  ~Sylvia Plath

Ink on paper is as beautiful to me as flowers on the mountains; God composes, why shouldn’t we?  ~Terri Guillemets


If I don’t write to empty my mind, I go mad.  ~Lord Byron