Daily Joys and Simple Pleasures

Perfectly expressed by my fellow writer, Ellen Lambert (who blogs at EllenOutLoud at  I woke up hearing the words, “Children don’t like it when their parents fight.”  Ellen captures this sentiment perfectly.
I grew up in a family where the parent people fought all the time. All the time. It was habitual. It was constant. It was distressing, disturbing, and annoying. Nothing was ever resolved; no conclusions were ever drawn. The current debt-ceiling debate is giving me flashbacks.

Maybe it’s because I was raised around it, but I am not a big fan of bickering. I loathe name-calling. I abhor baseless rhetoric.

I do, however, adore a good debate. I sure wish we could have one.

Between the finger-pointing, blaming, and pouting I just wish the Great Playground Monitor would call a big recess to recess and send all the squabbling brats and bullies to time-out or home, it makes me no difference

I never had the power to get my arguing progenitors to stop. I do remember asking them to. Yesterday I asked my representatives in Washington to do the same. I used to tell my parents that they had to stop behaving so stupidly; they were supposed to be taking care of me. I reminded my Senators and Congress people of that too.

Yes, all the juvenile posturing and gesturing does remind me of a time when I never had a say in things, but now that I do? Oh, I intend to make my voice heard. Out loud.

Speak up, and Soldier on!

What to do?  What to do after hearing the President plead for cooperation and putting the needs of the country first?  What to do after watching a dysfunctional Obama/Boehner face off in prime time?  How to answer your growing anxiety about the House and Senate producing dueling debt ceiling plans?

Many American households are exasperated with their elected officials. Versions of  “We are worried about our own house and its ‘debt ceiling’ ” are being expressed all across our Country.

Bill Clinton, among others, famously assessed that foreign policy begins “at home.”  While Clinton was referrring to “home ” in the broad sense…I want to talk about my response to the uncertainty in a specific sense.

“IN YOUR HOME – PEACE.” This is one of the few places where I can honestly govern the environment.  This literal place and within my own thinking.  I can express my opinions,  I can contact my elected representatives, I can write letters.  Peace – that elusive contentment and internal certainty – is not to be found in those places.  Nor can I control or insist on its presence in those places.  But my own soul?  My own home?  Absolutely.  I can claim peace in those palces.

In the coming days our national conversation may very well heat up.  Perhaps your own personal economy is close to your maximum debt ceiling.   In all your struggles, both global and local, my wish for you in the midst of all this uncertainty and dysfunctionis that in your home – may there be peace.

See this picture?  I am certain it is apparent to you that it should be vertical

rather than horizontal.  It is apparent to me, too.  I’ve edited.  Flipped.  Turned. Saved. Rinsed. Repeated.  And the demonstration piece meant as a visual to my point will not do what I want it to.  Or, said more accurately, I do not hold in my immediate memory the capacity to push the right buttons to get this visual about transformation to transform.

It occurs to me that this is the perfect way to share this image with you: imperfectly.

I willingly participated in a local event as a demonstration artist.  For Two Days.  I want to emphasize the word, “willingly.”  Although the news I am about to deliver surprises people from time to time – it is true.  I love people and I am introverted.  I prefer the silence of water lapping the shore to the cacophony of conversation.  Just as an example.  The answer to why I agreed to do this is rooted in wanting to overcome my own internal resistance and transform certain characteristics I possess.  I’m going to give you a peek into the first two hours of my first day.

My space was 30% smaller than I’d been instructed to expect.  I was next to the storage area where volunteers came through my demonstration space and loaded up and out and back again dozens of chairs.  My headache that had been promising the potential of a migraine…acted on its natural impulse and became a fuzzy-sight-turning-everything-into-wavy-lines migraine.  The little valley in which our venue was located was fog enshrouded and 20 degrees colder than the area to 1/2 mile south of it.  And the demonstration artist three booths down dropped dead doing what she loves.  Right there in our little demonstration area.  She was 89 and loved painting.  And yet, this all happened before noon.  If I tell you that was only the start perhaps you’ll agree I’ve said enough.

My sweet and protective husband encouraged me to bag the second day.  I told him I thought there was an opportunity here for me that I didn’t want to miss.  He just rolled his eyes.  Transformation.  It’s always a choice.  So I gave thoughtful consideration to my second day.

It was a fantastic day.  My headache dissolved to a just barely fuzzy vision level.  Tolerable.  I posted signs inviting guests 12 years and under to ask me how long I had been writing.  Dozens of young people asked and were given their very own blank composition book.  Those who were engaged learned how to create a commonplace book and were given ideas how writing might help them live a fuller and more rewarding life.  I gave away a greeting card to every adult that stopped.  And I worked on a project that brought me a lot of joy when I wasn’t talking with people.  What was the transformation?

The physical pain of a severe headache aside,  the difference was in how I chose to frame my view of the event.  The first day I was behaving the way all the other artists were behaving and doing what I thought was expected of me.  The second day I paid no attention to what anyone else was doing and I did what I expected of myself.  This may seem like a familiar lesson because I talk about it all the time.  The reason I talk about it so much is because I need to reinforce the truth of it in my own life.  Every day.  I must not measure my actions by the expectations of others.  EVER.  When I choose to transform an experience from undesirable to enjoyable – it is almost always tied to connecting to my core and acting upon my own authentic impulses.  I came home from day one drained and disheartened.  I came home from day two tired but happy.  Pleased.  Throughout the day people celebrated the long career of the artist who had died the day before.  And every artist who spoke of her said that they hoped that at the end of their days they hoped they would “go” doing something they loved.

The transformation for me was living into the day doing

what I love and sharing it with others.  The transformation was setting aside all expetations of “perfection” and embracing the actuality of the circumstance.  To transform is to grow.  And it’s said many different ways that living things are either growing or dying.  I’ll stick with transformation!