Saturday, March 28, 2015

A Temporary Glitch

Just a quick note this week because technology is dictating this one. My laptop, from which I write our weekly missives, has decided it needs to retire and parts of it have already quit working. Each keystroke I'm typing right now is likely being checked off some huge laptop scoreboard where the game is measured like golf -- the higher the number, the worse the game. So, bear with me while I take a little break from our weekly gathering while I shop for a new one.

Stick with me -- just because technology has thrown a little roadblock in the way does not mean the ideas are not firing like normal. My ever-present list of ideas keeps growing! Check back soon and we'll catch up like old friends.

Until then, I'll leave you with a few photos of clouds from our Ozark Mountain storms.

Enjoy your week!

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Sunday, March 22, 2015

The Way I Roll

The greatest lessons I have learned have been facilitated by travel. It must be something about being in a place out of my ordinary that allows the mind to relax, becoming more receptive to any teachings the world shows us. While traveling with others is a wonderful time for bonding, laughter, and shared memories, the most inspiring trips I have taken, have been taken solo.

Notice, I didn't say 'alone.'

The word 'alone' is laden with negative connotations, "She travels alone," "She eats alone," and "She is alone." The word generally rolls off people's tongues with sour drippings, indicating no one wants to be with her, when in reality the individuality of her moment is by choice.  Solo has a much more positive vibe to it: "She took a solo flight," "She hiked the Appalachian Trail solo," or "She rebuilt an engine -- solo!" A simple change in terminology can change the perspective. But I digress . . . 

I spoke with my sister yesterday about everything from decorating houses to upcoming vacation plans. She is accustomed to

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Miles to Go Before I Sleep

Three o'clock in the morning is never a good time to make decisions or to write a post to be seen publicly. I bet you can guess what time it is here. I awoke with too much on my mind to keep it contained my head anymore, so here I sit, in front of a keyboard, clicking out the excess onto the page in a effort to make room in my brain. 

This week has been mentally tough. Far too many thoughts and far too many tasks to complete -- which are yet to be completed -- have hung in the air around me, taunting me at my every turn. "You aren't finished yet," one says. "I still need to be completed," says another. "I'm not going away," says the one I am really avoiding.

Not only have I wrestled with an ever-growing to-do list, but my conscience has felt the burden of weighing who I am against who I want to be. Likely, I am not the only person on this earth who feels that pull between two sides of oneself, but the mind has a clever way of making one feel alone in the thought. What in the world am I talking about? 

I want to read more of the books that keep stacking on my shelves, but I get lost in an online pursuit of how to care for my

Saturday, March 7, 2015

The Chaos of Growth

Have you ever looked at a seed? I mean, moved close to it and really studied that little pod of impending life? There it is, completely contained in its safe shell, perfectly shaped and easily hidden out of view. It could remain there, safely tucked in its protective sheath, never changing from its current state. It might even be happy there in the only world it knows, but what if it dares to try for more?

First, it must crack and split apart in what would appear to be a violent burst of energy forthcoming. Then the interior twists and spits itself out of the formerly contained sheath, spilling out to the open where it is exposed to the elements. It is broken, mangled, and nearly unrecognizable. On the minuscule scale of a seed, the undoing is complete and utter chaos as a tiny tendril of life reaches beyond the world it knew, from inside its former place of comfort and protection.

Now it sits in its most vulnerable state. A harsh wind or wayward blow could snuff out any chance this tiny finger of life has at

Sunday, March 1, 2015

A Mile in Her Shoes

The Academy Awards were handed out last Sunday, and while the awards show is a highlight for movie lovers, who endure the boring parts to feast on the cinematic nuggets, this year's speeches are worth special mention, if not an award themselves.

Three speeches stood out, all beautifully delivered by actors who were obviously humbled by the honor of holding that little gold statue. All illustrate the need for compassion and perspective for those who experience life from a different seat at the table, and each shone a light on issues that make us different and the same in one breath.

J.K. Simmons heard his name called for Best Supporting Actor but took away the award for Best Supporting Husband, Father, and Son. Not one mention of an agent or manager or director, Simmons chose to thank the people in his life who mean the most to him - his wife, his children, and his parents. He ended on a unique note with instruction to "Call your parents," a lightly veiled indication that he no longer has the opportunity to do so and everyone listening should make that call before their chance disappears.

Common and John Legend heard their names announced as winners of Best Original Song for "Glory" in the movie Selma. The spirit of the song stands for more than the fight for equality of African Americans, but for equality for all. For as long as one person is systematically disenfranchised, for as long as one person is discriminated against, for as long one person is purposely shut out from opportunities, we all suffer. We are all less than we could be if our society works to make one person less than a full member with equal rights. If it can happen to one group, then it can happen to me, and to you, and to another and another and another.

Patricia Arquette had her chance on the stage when her name was called for Best Supporting Actress. This was her first Oscar nomination and last opportunity during this year's award season to take the stage after her multiple wins. She used her time to shine a light on the pervasive issue of wage inequality between men and women. While cheers were heard in the audience, the public reaction was mixed with some applauding her stance and others saying wage inequality is unfounded. Some people vehemently denied that women statistically make, on average, 78% of a man's wages for doing the same job with the same experience. Some said women's child rearing roles, and choices therein, affected the statistics. Others said women were not as assertive as men in asking for higher wages. Still others claimed that since they had never experienced it, the idea of it was bunk.  

Social media lit up with comments from both sides of the aisle, some applauding the sentiments of these speeches, some saying personal, and mostly political, views should be absent from award shows like this.  Admittedly, I was in that camp for many years, chastising actors for making this stage a forum for their own political views. 

But what is art -- what are films -- if not an illustration of society? Art, and movies in particular, reflect society, whether that be struggle or triumph, observation or dreams. Each of these speeches reflected what was real to the speaker -- loss of meaningful communication, racial discrimination, gender inequality. A viewer could easily shake off these words that are uncomfortable, citing the need to be comfortable, the need to be uncontroversial, the need to be vanilla. 

Each of these speeches reflects feelings that are very real to the speaker. To discount the words for being too uncomfortable for a public telecast is to diminish the feelings of the speaker. You don't have to agree with everything they say, but to erase the topic with a broad stroke does not mean it does not exist. It is acceptable to discuss the hard topics. Progress can only be made from discussing, not ignoring. 

And so, I challenge you to discuss the hard topics with those around you. This can be done calmly and rationally, with each side voicing their opinions without diminishing another's view. Listen to an alternative opinion. Listen to those who do not agree with you. Ask questions about how the person feels. Learn why they feel that way. Try, for even a moment, to walk in his or her shoes so you can better understand the point of view. We don't have to agree on everything, but we can respect each other's opinions. Perhaps when we meet in a field of respect, we can actually find resolution.