Welcome

Welcome hands

Welcome.

It’s what you want to be. What I want. Everyone wants to be welcome, right?

Accepted with pleasure.

From my natural gray highlights to the stray hair I sometimes forget to pluck off the mole on the side of my face. Rolls of blubber from too many cookies and not enough exercise.

I don’t want any of that to matter to you, but it does. Maybe it’s too much to ask, anyway. To be welcome, always – no matter what.

Really, who could blame you?

I pick my nose when I think no one is looking. My farts can really stink, and I sometimes wear the same pair of socks several days in a row.

Would I welcome you without hesitation and no disgust if I caught you in these acts? Maybe, probably not.

But You. You welcome me, accept me with pleasure, always no matter what – even when I try to convince You that You shouldn’t.

But no, You keep Your promises. Never forsake me, ever, for anything.

When I ate a dozen cookies followed by uncountable gummis, You used it for good. The aching constipation necessitated tests that exposed a cyst.

Only You would, could turn my over-indulging into something useful.

Why You do it, I don’t know. It’s just what You do.

Always. Forever.

Welcome me.

– First Friday Five Minute Post of 2015

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Question for the New Year

flower weed
When a character flaw is exposed, do I:

                                                            A. receive it as an indictment to my person

                                                            B. accept it as an invitation to grow

                                                            C. remember the choice between A and B is mine

Glossary: 

indictment (noun) – a thing that serves to illustrate that a system or situation is bad and deserves to be condemned

invitation (noun) – a situation or action that tempts someone to do something or makes a particular outcome likely

receive (verb) – suffer, experience, or be subject to

accept (verb) –  to give admittance or approval to

remember (verb) – to keep in mind; not forget

choice (noun) – the power or opportunity to choose between two or more possibilities

No!

No.

A simple word, but every time it should pass through Katey’s lips she panics. Her limbs freeze. A lead weight suppresses her tongue. Alarms reverberate in her ears.

It’s a cliché that women can’t say no, but for Katey the character flaw has turned innocent flirtation into sexual encounters, simple parental discipline into uncontrollable children, food cravings into midnight binges. The thought of saying no physically paralyzes her.  She doesn’t know why; she just knows it does.

“What the hell are you talking about?” her husband almost yells when she musters the nerve to tell him how she feels. This doesn’t help.

Ironically, Katey grew up in a home where no was rarely the answer. She snuck brandy into her chocolate milk; nobody told her no. She and her sister pummeled each other black and blue. Their mom just said, “You two have to figure it out.”

Katey hopes therapy will help. “Of course your reaction is real,” her therapist reassures her. “You grew up in a family without proper boundaries; the way you feel is typical.” Nothing changes.

Until one day, she has to buy a car. She knows she’s no match for a car salesman. She can’t even refuse the Publix cashier peddling Santa bucks. She test drives some SUVs. The grandfatherly type at Hyundai is easy to talk to. Unfortunately, the Dodge salesman with 20 years under his belt has the car she wants. Of course he’s the pushiest of them all.

“Take our car to pick up your kids from school,” he insists.

She couples her response with the truth.

“No thanks. I’m not buying a car today.”

He snarls but calls her a few days later.

“I’m shopping around for the best deal for my bottom line,” she says without a shudder.

Truth.

It sets Katey free.

 

Lesson of the Day

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It’s the last day of the first month of the new year. January 31, 2014. While I caught myself thinking – Wow! The year is already a twelfth gone; that was fast – the month was not a waste.

 I enrolled in an online magazine writing course and earnestly began seeking full-time employment. In fact, I was called for a second interview this week. An even bigger accomplishment, I guided my 13-year-old daughter to better time management. For the past three weeks, she has been waking up to the sound of her alarm clock instead of my constant pleading and is ready to leave for school with time to spare. Hallelujah!

And as the final hours of January ticked away, this perfection-seeking, seemingly incurable procrastinator learned something. My lesson for the day was: just do something.

You see, I’ve put off ordering business cards for, oh, two maybe three years. I’ve mulled over taglines; agonized about job titles; even hoarded Vista Print coupons. But today was different. In the afternoon I would attend a job seminar whose organizer had instructed attendees to bring plenty of contact cards. Sugar! I don’t have one of those.

A rule follower, I was determined to walk into that seminar with a business card touting my name. I contemplated hitting up the print shop at Office Max, but with less than 24 hours for turnaround, I resigned myself to homemade cards. This method would expose a fear – doing something I’d never done before. Which in turn led me to try to convince myself that it would be okay to walk into that seminar with a business card. Sorry, I haven’t had them printed yet, I intended to tell new contacts. Ugh! That would not do.

So, I pulled out the Averys, conducted a few Google searches, and finally settled on Microsoft’s Edgy Smudge design. Never one to be satisfied with a pre-made option, I resolved not to allow perfectionism to stop me, and came up with something. Not perfection, but something.

During the seminar, I gave out three cards. The first person responded by giving me a card that had an obsolete email address. The next two sheepishly admitted they didn’t have cards. Don’t get me wrong. By no means do I think I’m better than they are because I had business cards with me and they didn’t. On the contrary, I even admitted to the retired Army officer that I had made my cards only hours before. But the incident taught me something. It was more important that I had the means to give out my contact information than what the actual card looked like or said. In the end, the important thing was that I had done something. Already I want to change my card, but at least I have something to give when the opportunity arises. All because I just did something.

Just Keep Trying

Have you ever worked hard at something, really hard, like your best effort and just knew your trouble was getting you nowhere?

I’m in one of those situations right now, have been for a while. Problem is I’m not the only human in the equation, and the only person I can change is myself, right?

Today, without even trying, a friend offered some encouragement, a little “give it one more try” inspiration.

A couple of weeks ago my kids and I saw Cathy leaving one of those learning centers that offers one-on-one tutoring. Her kids have graduated, and she doesn’t live nearby, so my curious little monkeys kept asking me, “Mom, why was she there?” “Does she work there?” “Why would she be in there?” Always amazed at how their questions seem to imply that I know why other people do the things they do, I gave the only confident answer I could. “I don’t know.” But I like that they still think highly enough of me to ask such things, so today when I saw Cathy I asked her if she worked there. Not surprisingly, her answer was yes; she teaches SAT prep at the center. We chitchatted about the center’s offerings, and then she told me about her biggest success story as a tutor.

“I had a student who was diagnosed with autism. She would come in and sit like this,” Cathy said, slumping her shoulders and letting her head fall forward so she faced the ground, “all the time!”

“I worked hard, taught her everything about the test I could, but I just knew I wasn’t getting through to her. For the practice essay she wrote just one paragraph – one paragraph. I explained everything to her, over and over, how the test works, one paragraph isn’t going to cut it … .

“Finally, I felt like I had to tell my boss that I’d failed. ‘Sorry, I tried my best, really, but I just couldn’t get through to her.'”

“When she took the SAT she scored 500 points higher than she had the first time she took it! I couldn’t believe it. All that time – not saying anything, with her head down. And on the test she wrote a full essay, none of that one paragraph stuff.”

Wow!

How many times have I given up, or felt like giving up, because I wasn’t seeing any progress?

“Sorry, I tried my best, but …”

Maybe I am getting somewhere. To keep on trying is worth it. Because if I quit now then I have failed. Ugh.

Thanks for the push toward the finish line, Cathy!