Busy Bee July 2015

Photo by K. Farwell

It is that time of year when everyone is taking a trip of some sort; after all, it is almost August.   I’ve spent several days now trying to figure out another kind of trip that for lack of a better word, I will call life review. I just happened to mention to a friend a couple of days ago that I’ve been having a series of dreams all about traveling through the different times of my life and meeting/dealing with people from my past. Surprisingly, she related she had been having similar dreams.

When I first retired, most of my dreams were about working. Now they seem to be about traveling—–always trying to get others as well as myself somewhere,  either to visit or to find a suitable place to live. Then, too, the setting is often in houses I’ve lived in before at different times in my life.  Sometimes, the setting is a hotel where I am staying for a conference only I never make it to any of the meetings because I am always interacting with  or trying to help others who are with me in the dream. Sometimes I am stuck with friends or family in an airport or on an airplane.

I just realized today all these settings have a common denominator—–and that is my interactions with the people in my dream. The people are mostly from my past, and I think the interactions I have with them is about working out conflicts I still have about those past relationships. For instance, last night I dreamed of being with both my mother and my father at different times in the dream. What stands out about my interaction with my mother is that I found myself hugging her tightly while I told her how much I loved her…..something I never did enough of in reality. My father is usually in the background but last night, he was enjoying a driving/touring trip with me and laughing and joking.

These activities seem simple enough, but my heart feels like I have gotten “closure” from those dream interactions I would not otherwise have gotten. Now I know my mother knows how much I love her, and I know I am beginning to come out of the grieving process I’ve been going through since my father died last October. Other interactions have been with previous spouses or roommates and friends from the past…..interacting with them as I now am rather than as  I was during the time I spent with them. These interactions are rather non-remarkable, and that in itself is a small miracle because in my past I would meet some of  those folks in my dreams and unload pent up angry feelings on them.

Perhaps Maslow was going through a similar aging phenomena late in his career  when he realized there was a stage beyond self-actualization—-the one of *self-transcendence where one transcends self and ego and focuses on serving others. “At the level of self-transcendence, the individual’s own needs are put aside, to a great extent, in favor of service to others and to some higher force or cause conceived as being outside the personal self.”

After reading about this little-known construct of Maslow’s this afternoon, I think these recurrent dreams are allowing me to re-visit past relationships and  life experiences within the context of my newly emerging  self-transcendent perspective.  This is work my soul needs to do. It is a final “cleansing of self” to support my  evolving transcendence . It doesn’t matter that I never ever get anywhere in my dreams, that I am never on time, or that I never seem to finish anything——it is all about the journey and helping one another. God bless and keep you.

* Mark E. Koltko-Rivera, “Rediscovering the Later Version of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs: Self-Transcendence and Opportunities for Theory, Research, and Unification”, in: Review of General Psychology 10(2006)4, pp. 302-317; quote from pp. 306-7.  (http://academic.udayton.edu/jackbauer/Readings%20595/Koltko-Rivera%2006%20trans%20self-act%20copy.pdf)

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Maggie and Tibby Feb 13 15

Photo by K. Farwell

Seems like all they could talk about in today’s meeting was how almost every problem human beings encounter only happens because we turn our back on God. Perhaps I was programmed to hear that because I had,  in a meeting previous to that one, been given the insight that as my entire life unfolded before me almost every problem I encountered was to some extent if not entirely a direct result of stubbornly trying to do things my way when I wanted and how I wanted to do them. The times I experienced problems were those times when I purposefully shut God out so I could be in charge of my own life and destiny. Fortunately, God never stopped loving me.

Don’t get me wrong. I am not saying we have to just sit back and leave everything up to God. Of course, we have to do the foot work, but the key, for me at least, is having the willingness to “Let Go and Let God” even when I do the foot work. In other words, I need to work in partnership with my Higher Power and not run my life on based on self-will.  Many years of bad decisions have taught me trying to run things on my own self-will always just seems to create more problems.

My insight I gained this morning, however, was a bit more revealing than just being shown the importance of letting God be God.  I had something happen yesterday that shed a new light on my relationship with God. I had a man at my house putting in a new dishwasher, and when he came walking through the living room carrying the old dishwasher out to his van, I quickly grabbed the dog I thought would run away and held the screen door open. To my dismay, with both hands full, I watched one of my rescue Bichons, Tibby, prance through the open door. As soon as I could I  put the other dog down, shut the door, and went after Tibby. Here was this little white dog who was all fluffy from just being groomed and who was wearing his Thunder Shirt because he is afraid of thunder running away from me as it continues to thunder and begins to rain.

I could not catch up with him. He’d stop, take  a few steps toward me, and then run off again into the big fields and yards behind the houses on my road. I didn’t care that I was getting soaked, but I did worry about both of being struck by lightning and him possibly drowning in some drainage ditch. After about seven or eight minutes of this, I realized I wasn’t going to catch up with him, and I went back to my house to change out of my soaked house shoes into some that would give me some traction.

On my way back out of the house I grabbed a leash and an umbrella, and then I walked around the neighborhood calling “Tibby” until I got hoarse and was beginning to worry  I’d lose my voice. I returned to my house, and there he was standing in my front yard. However, he would not come to me or come back through the front door, and he ran off again. In desperation, I called a friend to come help me “try to find Tibby”—–but just as she was checking with her boss to see if she could leave work to help me, I saw a young man walking up the street toward my house with Tibby in his arms. I explained to him what happened, and he said he saw the dog and went after him because it was probably “one of those white poodles” that lady has—–I told him how grateful I was because I had been chasing the dog and calling  him——that I could not catch him, and was afraid I’d lose him. The man explained to me he probably couldn’t have caught him either if the dog had not stopped to go to the bathroom.

I cannot tell you how good it felt to have Tibby back in my arms safe and sound. But the insight I had this morning was that God must have felt that way all the times when I returned to Him after repeatedly putting myself and others in harm’s way just because I wanted to “get free, explore life experiences,  and do things my way.”

I always wanted to “try things” and “make my mind up for myself” even though I was oblivious to the danger I was putting myself and others into at the time. I remember yesterday watching Tibby stop and sniff, explore, mark everything, and then come towards me only to run off again. My relationship with God has been like that, and now, I hope, I can remain in His loving embrace without jumping out and running off again. Oh yes, I have thanked God for His patience and apologized for the concern I caused at those times when I willingly left His embrace.. God bless and keep you.

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Photo courtesy of K. Farwell

I once heard someone say, “If you work the twelve steps everybody else gets better.” Now, to many that may not make sense. But think about it. Alcoholics Anonymous’ twelve steps are guidelines for living a spiritual life that focuses on bettering one’s attitudes and behaviors.  Often, people learn to stop judging others and to instead focus on changing themselves. In that light, it makes sense that “others get better” as such changes in people often lead to positive changes in those around them.

One aspect of AA’s program focuses on letting go of resentments…..a challenge that may take days, years, or decades.  I recently had something happen that validated my getting better in terms of how I think and react to my ex-husband. What happened was this: During a long drive home from vacation,  I made a rest stop at a rural Wal-Mart. As I got out of my car, I noticed a man in bib overalls bent over the open tailgate of a pickup. He was putting ice into a cooler. He was a dead ringer for my ex—–whom I have not seen or spoken to since our divorce over twelve years ago. Only, if this was really him, he’d gained enough weight to equal that which I’ve lost. I did not want to stare and/or draw attention to myself so I looked the other way and walked by.

My internal dialogue went something like this: “I could speak to him and know for sure if it is him. But then after all this time, what is there left to say? ‘Gee, you’ve gained weight. How are you?’ No, I’ve let go of most of my resentment so I do not need to do that. I could stop and say something friendly about the weather.  On the other hand, I need to take care of myself in this situation and just keep walking.” I kept walking.

It felt good not to act on residual resentment, and it felt even better to take action that protected myself. I do not know if it was really my  ex or,  if it was, if he was really “better” or not. That is not important. What is important is my attitude and action. Without the step work and “resentment work” I’ve done I would have probably reacted differently—–perhaps in a way that triggered a negative response from another human being. I still have resentment work to do, but I am pleased with my progress. Thanks for letting me “free associate” about my Wal-Mart parking lot escapade.

I hope everyone is having a safe and happy fourth of July. My two rescue dogs are in thunder shirts; the sounds of fireworks in the neighborhood are driving them crazy. Sometimes, all that works to calm them is to stack all four of my dogs on top of me in my recliner. We will be happy when the celebrating is over. Alas, I have grown up and lost the sense of fun and magic the fourth of July held for me as a child.  That does not, however, keep me from wanting  others to experience that fun and magic. May God bless and keep you.

Chocolate Fix

Chocolate Fix

Dear Readers:

I have been spending my summer getting cataracts surgery and adding eye drops to both eyes for seemingly forever. I have not been doing any creative writing, but I did find myself searching for something chocolate to drown out the bitter after- taste that is a side effect of the eye drops. This was a challenge since I cannot eat sugar in any form. Here is what I came up with, and I must admit I am addicted to it. Go figure.

High Protein Sugar-Free Chocolate Cheesecake Fix

Ingredients:

2 oz cream cheese

3 1/2 T small curd cottage cheese

3 T plain Greek yogurt

3 T sour cream

2/3 C Splenda

1 1/2-2 T sugar free instant chocolate pudding mix

2 T Hershey’s Special Dark Cocoa

Warning/Disclaimer: Friends have told me this addictive. Eating it has been described as eating fudge, “licking the icing bowl,” and/or eating chocolate cheesecake without the crust.

Instructions:

  1. Soften cream cheese slightly in microwave. I do 50% strength for 30 seconds but have also done 15-20 seconds on high in “less potent” micro-waves.
  2. Add yogurt, cottage cheese, and sour cream. Initially cream ingredients together, then mix more briskly. Goal is to make sure cream cheese is distributed evenly.
  3. Carefully fold in Splenda, then mix more briskly (not quite beating).
  4. Add chocolate pudding mix and cocoa; again carefully fold in and then mix more briskly. Mix will thicken at this point.

Can be eaten immediately or covered and chilled in refrigerator. The finished product is the  consistency of thick icing or peanut butter; will not harden enough to be eaten in pieces like candy.  Picture is of portion size that is half of the recipe.

Church Earring

Photo courtesy of K. Farwell

I’ve been working this week on practicing making earrings—-a artisan skill two good friends of mine have been trying to teach me. I’m finding my vision, depth perception, and making my fingers work on small, precise tasks quite challenging.   Fine motor skills is something I do not have; I think crocheting is as close as I will get.

Working on practicing making earrings has been a good lesson for me in accepting humility and the fact that I will never make a perfect pair of earrings. It won’t be that hard to leave an intentional glitch in the finished product so that the “Great Spirit” will not be offended.  Through the years I have had lots of experience being forced to realize I am not God, and this is an excellent way to “hammer that message home” to my “wanna be” ego.

I am having the most trouble mastering the technique of wire wrapping—-you know, those coils of wire that go from the top of your “bead” to the place where the earring fastens on to ear wire. Probably because that is precisely the point  in the earring making process where hand and eye coordination are the most important.  My left thumb is full of small puncture wounds from “wire pressing.”  So much so that  I had to take  a break and not try to wire wrap yesterday.

I am fighting allergies and asthma today, so I am not attending church this morning. I decided to try making another pair of earrings. This time what happened was kind of different. I found myself placing the gem stones in an order representative of a church, steeple, and cross. My mind kept remembering how proud I was of myself when I learned how to do the “hand trick” that went with the words, “Here’s the church, here’s the steeple, open up, and there’s all the people.” You place your hands together with the first, second, and third fingers intertwined  and bent inward  while your thumbs held together at the front become “the door” and your “pinky fingers” stick up and meet at a point to make the steeple.  When you open your hands up, your hidden fingers are the “people” spoken of in the rhyme.

When I was four, things were, for the most part simple. I found joy and pleasure in the smallest of things; there were no digital toys to play with, no television, and no elaborate toys. Pounding piano keys  was fun,  lying on your back in the yard looking up at the shapes made by clouds in the sky was fun, and blowing soap bubbles through a empty wooden thread spool was fun.  The plastic “deep sea divers” that came “free in the cereal boxes” that were fun because if you filled the kitchen sink up with water, packed baking soda into the base of the plastic figures and placed them on the bottom of the sink, the figures “miraculously”  came straight up to the top of the water.

The church game signified what would become the pivotal point of my life. I didn’t know it at the time, but my spiritual evolution would end up strongly anchored in just such a church. Granted, I had to find a church that would accept my liberal way of thinking and living.  Now I spend  part of Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday  at my church doing various things that I hope will make a positive difference.  One of the things I have learned along the way is that “church” is not confined to being inside a building; in fact, in my opinion, “church” is occurring less and less in the confines of a building and, hopefully, more and more in the hearts and actions of people outside the walls of the church.

Enough rambling. Wherever you are I hope you experience love and peace. I hope that you can have a rest from “heavy and deep thinking” so that you can exercise your imagination and find joy in simple things. The good news is we don’t have to be children to do so. All of God’s creation is waiting for you, and you don’t want to miss it. God bless and keep you.

Wrinkles

Photo, “Wrinkles” by K. Farwell

Today has been quite a day! I learned something a new phrase, and  every time the phrase goes through my mind, I start giggling because it sounds like the perfect line and maybe even title for a country western song. It would start out, “My retinas have wrinkles….” but past that I can’t come up with a good lyric. I do, however, find myself  thinking “I must make amends” would work, but that was Janis and her friends back in the day.

Fortunately, my right eye had only one wrinkle and my left eye only several small ones. Why lucky? I was told that while having a few retinal wrinkles was “normal” having a lot meant serious eye surgery. While I was at the eye doctor’s we scheduled my cataracts surgeries. It was explained to me that I will have lenses put in my eyes that will allow me to see far, far away. Now, having never been able to do so, I really can’t imagine what it is going to be like. I will, the doctor explained, have to give up my close vision—–so gone will be my days of taking off my glasses to read or crochet. Instead I will put on reading glasses.

I may still need prescription glasses for far vision; there is no guarantee exactly how these surgeries will turn out. Sounds like a bit of a gamble, but any vision a new lens will give me has to be better than that given me by my own lenses without assistance. I think I could tolerate wearing “regular people” glasses rather than “coke bottle” glasses. And I am sure getting the prescription filled for those glasses wouldn’t cost the  usual $500-600 my almost annual new glasses do.

And, then, for a mere $999 I can get correction for my right eye’s astigmatism built into the lens they will put in that eye. That correction has to be paid for out of pocket because Medicare and all insurance companies consider such a correction a luxury. However, if you’ve never been able to “really focus” on something, spending almost a thousand dollars seems worth it.

I haven’t seen any commercials on television yet for “wrinkles on your retinas”—–but I am sure the day will come. They’ll probably invent some miracle eye drops that are guaranteed to smooth them out over night or your money back. Enough foolishness. I am a bit anxious and have been using inferior jokes to deal with my anxiety. When the doctor first told me about my “retina wrinkles” I asked him what caused them—–obviously, I told him, they weren’t caused by sleeping on them the “wrong way.” That little tidbit of humor was ignored or culturally incomprehensible. God bless and keep you.

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Ever have one of those days when it seems like things just are not going right? Yesterday, I walked into my house  after being gone for a few hours and was greeted by my dogs with love and affections as per usual. However, all of the sudden there was a different sound in the house. The dogs started barking, and I started walking around trying to locate the sound. It sounded like rushing water at times and at others like a cutting, buzzing sort of sound. It would quiet; then it would start up again.  It was quite loud, and it was loudest in my bathroom. It seemed to be coming from the wall behind my bathroom sink. I checked the faucets—they worked, water flowed. I checked under sink and found no leak. I checked my toilet’s functioning,  and it was fine.  I walked down into the basement to make sure everything there was okay, and there were no leaks dripping down into the basement. In desperation, I finally called a friend who helps me out with hand man jobs around my house and let him listen to the “racket” over my speaker phone. He told me not to worry; that it sounded like calcium was probably blocking the flow of water due to recent rain. I had visions of water damming up behind my bathroom wall ready to explode out and flood everything.

I tried to ignore the noise, and I even worked on fixing an office chair. It had a loose arm-rest that needed screwed on tighter with a small Phillip’s screwdriver. I turned the chair over on its side and tightened up the screw. Then I tried to lift the chair back up on its legs. Of course, I used the arm rest to lift the chair, and the entire arm rest, tightened screws, and all broke off in my hand.  I was halfway ready to entertain the idea of Gremlins running amuck in my house trying to do whatever mischief they could just to irritate me.

The noise continued to be bothersome.  It was like having a dentist’s drill constantly drilling in my bathroom. I tried drowning the noise out with television. That didn’t work. Then, I finally got the great idea of shutting the bathroom door. That made the sound at least bearable, and, lucky for me, the door managed to stay on its hinges.

A friend came over to help me work on setting up my  “Kathy’s Warm Fuzzies” website (https://sites.google.com/site/kathyswarmfuzzies/) where I will be selling items I crochet (shawls, cowls, hats, doilies, mandalas, scarves, afghans, etc.) as well as earrings I make.  We were able to work with the background noise, but when we finished, my friend helped me, once again, to try to find the source of the noise that had been going on for at least three hours by that time.

She found a plastic tray that was up against my bathroom wall, and, in the tray, she found a battery-operated toothbrush I had even forgot I had.  And, yes, it was the toothbrush buzzing away and vibrating everything on the tray up against the wall that was making all the racket. I am pretty sure God got a good laugh out of that one——He and the ghost who turned the toothbrush on in the first place.

What’s the spiritual point of all this? Well, when I feel on edge, and, yes, anxious, and am unable to ascertain the reason, it is important that I “keep on keeping on”—–and that I let friends help me as they can often notice what I don’t. I think that is how God works. When I turn things over to him in prayer, the “solution” to whatever is bothering me, identified or not, occurs. And it usually occurs when I get myself and my stubbornness out of the way and become receptive to help from God and others. Oh, yes, it helps to have a sense of humor too! God bless and keep you.