I’m a Cub Fan- For Reals

12108888_10207007939228817_1092036981629579781_n

I don’t know who to credit this photo to, but – it’s perfect.

The Chicago Cubs are in the World Series, and if you have been cloistered from reality somehow, and didn’t know that already, let me tell you that they are playing against the Cleveland Indians and two games have already been played.  Each team has won ONE game each, in Cleveland.  This Friday, they will play game 3 in Wrigley Field for the first time ever. Games 4 and 5 will also be played in that historic ball park before this weekend is over – barring significantly bad weather.

One celebrity fan, Bill Murray, won a Mark Twain Award (I’ll let you google that) this week, and someone with a microphone asked him what it felt like to have the Cubs playing in the World Series.  He said that he’d listened to the Sportscasters trying to explain what it feels like and they just don’t get it.  He was dead right.  All they can talk about is what hadn’t been invented or what else in history hadn’t happened yet.  That’s not the point for any real Cub fan.

When you’ve waited your whole life, almost seeing it happen several times, and staying faithful even during the years when you know the team is a disgrace on the field, you get a glimpse of what it means to be a Cub fan right now.

When you take all the trash talk about your team from the other side of town, and other teams that do better (cough*Cards*cough), you get another glimpse of the life and times of a Cub fan. Yet we will still wear our team colors with more pride than courage, and with more sense of thrill than grudging responsibility.  You may even begin to save and collect the best of all the slurs, as badges of creative honor. “They wouldn’t talk trash unless we matter,” we’d tell each other with a wink.

When your team’s playing field has more historic significance than your division opponents, but their win cycles have been more fruitful – you remain tenaciously steadfast anyway, bragging on the history of the edifice if not the skills of the team. And that’s when you begin to realize what a Cub fan’s life might be like.  You will appreciate how traditions have held us together (like throwing the other team’s ball back from the bleachers), and how folklore has helped name our businesses in ways no newcomer knows about unless a local lets them in on the lore (Billy Goat Tavern).

These are things no White Sox fan nor Cardinal fan has had their parents explain to them, nor have they had anything similar to explain about their team to their children.  It’s distinctly a part of the Cub fan traditions, and  there has been enough time for our children have told their children – even if they move to another state.  Because that’s what Cub fans do.  And when the Cubs come to play in our different states and stadiums, we tend to crowd out the locals who think that they are good enough fans for their home team.  We also tend to out shout them!

What other team has a tradition of a team song karaoke at the end of a winning game?  I bet they’ll all begin working on that, though, because that’s how memories and thrilling moments of “we’re all in this together” happen. And we began doing it while our team was referred to as “the lovable losers”, doggonit!

These are things most “johnny come lately” folks will never feel or fully understand.  It’s certainly nothing the sportscasters outside of Chicago Metro area can ever explain, either. That’s ok, because WE are the kind of fandom that might not like that you waited so long, but we’re still going to tug you into the fold and make sure that you sing louder on the chorus when we sing “GO CUBS GO”.

Singleness Part 2

“People who have been single for too long are the hardest to love.  They have become so used to being single, independent and self-sufficient that it takes something exhqdefaulttraordinary to convince them that they need you in their life.” facebook/saranaveedwriter

What I really think the author was expressing above, was frustration with their search for a mate.  Probably someone who is over 35, and looking for someone who’s interested in being their partner.  The search is not bearing much fruit, and their pool of candidates is getting more and more small and shallow.

The reality is, that there are persons over 35 who have gotten comfortable with living alone, and have decided that sexual needs aren’t enough for making accommodations for a mate.  There are few other healthy needs that remain, once you have no need for sexual expression or parenting, when it comes to relating to other persons in any intimate relationship.  There are healthy social and familial reasons, but I’m saying there are FEW reasons for anyone to enter any relationship that necessitates intimate sharing or knowledge of another person beyond the sexual ones.

It’s not uncommon for single persons +35 to have made their choices based on some bad experiences (direct or indirect), or based on honest comfort levels.  Many of these individuals have already achieved parenthood or other goals that might have required a partner’s contributions to realize.  Or, they’ve decided they don’t need direct parenthood experiences to fulfill their enjoyment of life.  They may have connections with children they’ve been actively engaged with outside of being a parent, and that’s all they need to complete their sense of value and of a future that will continue beyond their own. That means those incentives are gone for making the kinds of life adjustments that sustained intimacy requires, at that point.

Some older singles are people who have gotten socially niched, and haven’t much contact with other persons on a personal level.  They often fail to learn that respect is a process that requires sustained effort, as is mutual interest or affection.  They somehow believe that it is always spontaneous and that these experiences with others are self sustaining if they are “real”.  This is an immature understanding of social relationships, and single people can learn better, but they have to be invested in some relationships in order to learn the lessons.  People in committed relationships are almost forced to realize these truths, or they will find that the relationship becomes less and less lively and rewarding, and a distance begins to grow.  These single persons can still be wonderful family members and friends, offering valuable viewpoints and adding to the talent pool for survival; but they’ve got some distinct limits and require some distance to keep from getting enmeshed in their drama.

In spite of all of these realities, many persons over 35 still actively hope to find satisfying relationships with other persons of their age and stage.  This will be more challenging for the reasons I stated in Singleness Part 1.  It’s not impossible, though.

What I want to mention in this part, is that the happiest relationships that I have seen where the two persons began their intimacy and commitment after that age, is when they both knew each other well during their younger years. If they knew each other well in high school, had dated before they were involved in other relationships, or were otherwise very involved in their earlier years in a platonic way, there is a strong possibility for a successfully enduring and rewarding relationship with one of these persons from the past – if they are available and not in a different relationship.

It also helps if they are adaptable and willing to make changes that may seem threatening to their psyche or their definition of self.  If you’ve always described yourself in this way, doing this thing, or never doing this thing – is it really a loss of your self-identity to change?  Would you be willing to give it up if someone you loved were to suffer a life changing event (illness or injury), and not resent it?  Then, don’t make it a bargaining chip with a new beloved.  It’s just part of finding new places to join a person’s life with yours to make an “our life” together.  They will need the courage to do the same.

I don’t want to make this seem simple or easy – because it’s certainly worth it.  But only if you have found someone who enhances who you are, and says that you do the same for them – and you can believe it.

Above all – do NOT go into this kind of thing on your own whim, without support from friends and family.  They will know what’s hurting you before you do, sometimes.  Also, rely on couples counseling.  These professionals have learned what sabotages intimate relationships, and they’ll help you and yours to overcome the pitfalls that are most common, and some that may seem uncommon.  They also help you to ask the hard questions.  So – keep the outside relationships strong enough to support the effort, and give it a go if you think you’ve met that special someone!

If you are like me, and you’re really comfortable with life as a single person – don’t feel like you’re damaged goods.  We have the freedom of accepting invitations without consulting others, and when we’ve made a mistake, we don’t have to feel guilty about putting someone else in trouble with our mistakes.  Life as a single adult is enriching and wonderful – but we have to force ourselves to keep our social contacts fresh and strong in order to avoid being too self-absorbed.  But- that’s a blog for another day.

 

Singleness (Part 1)

943682_532065310198846_1220412194_n

“People who have been single for too long are the hardest to love. They have become so used to being single, independent and self-sufficient that it takes something extraordinary to convince them that they need you in their life.” facebook/saranaveedwriter

I found this statement in a graphic on Facebook. It was just a brown box with the white font. Several things bothered me about it, though I knew that part of what the author was saying was true.

The things that bothered me were: what is ‘too long’? Why are people who have been single for long times ‘hardest to love’? Why must they be convinced that ‘they need [emphasis mine] you in their life?

What I can agree with (if it was their intent to communicate this idea) is that persons who are over 35 who have never been in an intimate relationship, and have lived alone for 10 years or more, tend to be less flexible about incorporating other persons into their everyday lives and intimate places.

If these single persons meet someone new, it’s extremely challenging for the long time single person to accommodate the invasions and disruptions a new resident will bring into their daily life activities in every intimate way: physical, emotional, financial and even with dream shaping. The comfort zones are too well set, and often there are histories of losses to overcome that bring a sense of threat to the compromises that may be required.

Those things I can agree with.

What I can’t agree with is that the single person who has been alone “too long” is “hardest to love”. If that person has healthy relationships with family members and close friends, they are abundantly lovable and have avenues of sharing affection and love toward those other relationships. They are very well socialized and engaged with the ones they love and with those who love them. They will have been well invested in their beloveds, and will have done extraordinary things to help their beloveds succeed when those beloveds struggled. They’ve similarly had to ask for and receive extraordinary things from their beloveds in order to overcome adverse times. This is part of what every human incorporates in their lifestyles to thrive and live well: a support system. I just don’t think that these folks are “the hardest persons to love” in anyone’s life, just because they are single, self-sufficient and independent.

I also don’t think that because someone hasn’t found a reason to become intimately involved with anyone else, that they ‘need’ to have something extraordinarily convincing that they are ignoring a “need” that only another person can fill.

While I know that not every person who is single is in a healthy state, neither is every person in a relationship in a healthy state. Relationships don’t necessarily bring us to health, though they can always enhance our health and help it to flourish. We’re social creatures, after all. The thing is: we have to realize that we are responsible for nurturing ourselves – even if we’re in a relationship! Only I know what my needs are, and I have to first acknowledge them to myself, and then communicate them to others who can help me find the things that will relieve my needs. The very same is true of you, and every other person alive. We are self-aware, but we don’t have telepathy, and neither does anyone else.  We need everyone else to reveal themselves to us, and teach us who they are, and how we can bless them best.  We need to do the same for them.

If someone begins a relationship with another primarily because they need them, that relationship is already on shaky ground.

I wholly agree that we have sexual needs, and even dreams that require a partner in life to see them come true. Having a caring and devoted team member to help us enjoy sexual affection while achieving common goals – like growing a family – is a huge reward in life that changes your world view like nothing else can. Even if there will be no children, the immediacy of having someone to talk to when ideas bear fruit, or when we’re being crushed by our losses is like nothing else in the world, when the relationship is benevolent, respectful and interest is strong in each other’s individuality.

However, if you are trying to join up with someone because you are driven to obtain certain life goals more than focusing on the right blend of the partnership, then you’ve only tried to force a union to a timetable. Instead of growing into a healthy union with another person you have strong healthy feelings of respect and affection toward, you become part of an unhealthy relationship that will probably get more toxic as it continues as others wince to watch. Instead of having a partner who enhances your strengths, you may end up with someone who saps that very dynamic from the heart of you. Or worse, YOU could be the one sapping it from them because of the mismatch! This is the failure and sorrow that many long time single persons are avoiding, and that is very healthy and wise.

What I really think the author was expressing was frustration with their search for a mate. Probably someone who is over 35, and looking for someone over 35 who’s interested in being their partner. The search is not bearing much fruit, and their pool of candidates is getting more and more shallow. Can they ever accept that being single could be good for themselves, instead of getting bitter and blaming others for their being alone?

What do you think? Do you know of some single folks who are living well and probably never going to get involved with anyone else in an intimate way? Do you pity them or do you envy them? Why?

Old TV’s Won’t Recycle

Cathode Tube ProblemsI was reading this article about how thrift stores in the Chicago metro area are being flooded with old televisions that use the cathode tube and analog technology to work.  Most are heavy and have to be carefully recycled, so that they don’t damage the environment as waste.  New laws generated in 2012, to limit how they are disposed of in IL has caused a problem, though.  There is activity to help deal with the problem, but it doesn’t become effective for a few months, or the new laws are pending until the old laws can be changed this spring.

The trouble is the same when dealing with old computer monitors as well.  They have used the same technology and are being cast off for the same reasons: desktop real estate (space), and weight as well as lack of high definition.

So what’s a person to do in the meantime?  Check your local recycle area for their schedule of days they will accept the old sets, is one bit of advice.  Another is to keep them as long as they are working and in good repair.

An excerpt of this article here: A Kane County e-waste recycling event Dec. 12 collected enough old electronics in four hours to fill six 35-foot semitrailers, [Jennifer] Jarland [recycling coordinator for Kane County] said. Televisions made up 60 percent of that haul. Many appeared relatively new and in working condition.

“We’re just being flooded, especially with those giant TVs,” Jarland said. “If they’re still working, keep using them.”

One reason that people are getting rid of even the nicer heavy TV’s, is that too many have toppled over onto infants and toddlers, killing them immediately, or severely injuring them with lifelong impacts.  This would make getting rid of a heavy television, even if it’s working and looks new, a necessary goal for anyone who has small children or will have small baby visitors.

The cost of lighter, high definition televisions with all the plugs for gaming, computer feeds as well as cable and sound bar connectivity is becoming more affordable, too.  Many consumers are finally digging out of the consequences of the Great Recession, and have the ability to buy what they could only long after before.

I have to admit that I hated having a heavy television, especially as I had to move very often as my fortunes changed after the year 2000.  It was a huge relief to buy a lighter plasma television (though it was analog) in 2006.  My mother still had her heavy cathode television until she died in 2013.   None of her survivors wanted something so bulky and heavy.  Thankfully, we found a place that was still recycling them when getting rid of it.

As an older person, moving such a television is not simple, and I’ve generally tried to avoid it or ask strong friends for help when I’ve had to do it.  I honestly never wanted to worry about my friends or family hurting themselves over carrying anything heavy for me during a move.  If I can’t move it by myself, I will probably get rid of it or avoid buying it altogether.

I can’t see any reason for people to keep the old square cathode televisions, since rectangular wide screen presentations are becoming more common, too.  That means trying to see a video on such a TV would have the sides being cut off.  Sometimes, you’re missing the face of a person who’s talking, or the main person in the center is talking about something you can’t see off on the side.

I feel bad for the folks who are stuck with these heavy televisions, and feel a bit anxious that I may be reading another sad story about an infant crushed by one.

What do you think about these old televisions?

Christmas Warmth is not Always Romance

I just feel like I have to rant a bit.  I am honestly tired of the Hallmark Channel making Christmas all about romance.  I really am annoyed with that.  It doesn’t even address rekindled romances with married couples who aren’t separated or divorced (as the movie The Bishop’s Wife does).  Most of us really enjoy watching stories about folks in situations like our own, and they aren’t delivering.

That’s the appeal of The Christmas Story, and that’s why it can play for a whole 24 hour period, knowing there will be a large enough audience for each hour of airtime. In that movie, Dad and Mom are quirky, but they seem to have a real affection for each other, and their kids, with an enthusiasm for life.  Add some holiday twists to their situation, and there you go!  It turns into something iconic for the season.  Even if we’re single, we don’t end up feeling lonely and left out, like a romance story can do.  We were once kids ourselves, and the story is told from the oldest child’s point of view.  So we become a bit nostalgic – and most of Christmas is about nostalgia. We can see how our parents may have been like his parents in some ways, and we snicker.  Or we just feel the warmth of remembering our parent’s enthusiasm for filling in their family roles.  If we’re parents now, we may see ourselves in his parent’s actions and cringe with a blush – but it’s all in good fun and utterly warmhearted.  These parents aren’t brutish or crass, but they are imperfect – the thing is that they are present and accounted for come what may.  Even if a pack of dogs eat the turkey – someone remembers the Chinese restaurant is open and gets the family there for dinner. That’s all any kid ever needs to feel solidly loved and good about who they are. To have parents who are present and don’t bail.

With every Hallmark movie turning into a romance story, they are turning many of us away in droves.  Young kids don’t want romance.  To them, the opposite sex is viewed with some suspicion.  They are either an utter bother, or they can be acceptable playmates – until they aren’t. So, all of those romance movies are not usually good for family viewing.

Some of us are happily single, or just not drawn into the fiction of romantic dialogs that no one can match in real life without a script (that’s another blog for another day).  I’m not too old for affectionate relationships with family and even good friends who I adore.  I just don’t enjoy watching a young couple I don’t know working out their romantic complications. I won’t enjoy their romance story in a vicarious way at all.  I have many friends who are my age who would push me away and say that they love a good romance; but Hallmark is cranking them out so cheaply that they aren’t even putting out GOOD romances.  So even these friends are sighing in discomfort and wishing there was better stuff to watch.

My point is that most of the world doesn’t revolve around romance, though there is a market for it if it is done well and in the right places.  You need a real story to go with the romance that caters to the rest of us,  – like Miracle on 34th Street did or as they did with The Lemon Drop Kid.  Or even as It’s a Wonderful Life worked.  There’s a romance in It’s a Wonderful Life, but the story is about how lives are valued. Since Christmas is an easy crisis point for anyone’s life – it’s become iconic and is watched and enjoyed by folks of all ages and stages.

You get something like White Christmas produced as a movie, with all of the over the top pageantry and a distinctively appealing song that wasn’t about romance, and that becomes the formula for success that keeps the family watching it over the years (though kids can be bored with the story, which makes it a good bedtime movie).

Some think they can’t make ‘em like that anymore “because the age of the musical is over”.  Tell that to the folks counting the revenues from Dirty Dancing and High School Musical (both 1 and 2).  There’s an audience, if the story is worthy, the production solid, talent pool dug deeply enough, along with the tunes being catchy and applicable to our lives.  Again, those were centered on romances, but there were enough other things going on to confound or enhance the romance angle that they could draw in those of us who aren’t drawn into romances.

There’s no real explanation for the attraction for A Charlie Brown Christmas beyond the need for something that draws us out of the clamor of the season. It reminds us that we don’t have to be perfect, or drawn into overspending thanks to smooth marketing, or even gathered in a group, to enjoy the holiday’s appeal.  If there’s anything else like that one out there, I don’t know what it could be.

What makes this all a bigger sore point for me, and the reason I am taking Hallmark to task more than the other producers of “Holiday Specials for Family Viewing”, is that I used to enjoy Hallmark’s television specials and looked forward to them every holiday season.  That was long before they had a channel all their own, though.  Now, I don’t even bother turning any of them on without checking to see what the story line is, first.  And every time I check these past few years – it’s some shallow storyline that is poorly produced and always just about a complicated romance – with no strong talent pool performing the script.  Even the commercials for these movies aren’t alluring.

Hallmark – are you listening?

Why is it Bland if it Doesn’t Burn?

I enjoy cooking when I’m not under some deadline, have insufficient ingredients for the meal I want to make (and so must use brain cells to be creative), or when it’s just for myself.  I think it’s one of my love languages, to cook something tasty for someone I love.  It’s a huge blessing when they like it, and compliment it.

So, as I have been reading the hashtag about how white cooks serve only bland food, I admit I giggled first (thinking of all the bland cooks I know), and then I got a bit riled.

It was funny at first, because I have met some wives who married men who won’t eat anything but the blandest of foods.  So that’s what they’ve been forced to prepare and serve.  I also remember when there weren’t so many options for frozen meals that were tasty or affordable.  You usually went to a restaurant or cafe to eat when you didn’t eat at home.  Or you could order take out (pizza, asian food, etc).  So there were a lot of lazy cooks or inexperienced cooks who didn’t use more than vinegar, sugar, butter, salt and pepper for their flavorings.  When things got tight, the butter and sugar might not be so freely used.  So, sometimes it was economy that made the difference.

What riled me is when so many of the comments under that hashtag talked about how only Caucasian cooks would have such flavorless food, and I saw a lot of references to “adding some heat” to improve the food that was served.  How does making your mouth burn turn into adding flavor?

I am very plainly a “foodie” and my size shows it.  I have a spice cabinet that made my sister’s eyes pop when she saw it, and my friend laugh as they unpacked it for me during a move a few years ago.  I believe in seasoning food to add flavor and am not shy about using paprika, lavender, garlic or even cumin to different foods to see what it does to make the natural flavors pop.  At no time does anyone need to gasp and grab a glass of water to make me smile and think I’ve delivered a good dish to serve.  I want them to really taste their food, and the seasonings or spices that I add.  If I used too much, I like to hear that, too.  I’ll go easier next time, and nudge the recipe back a bit.

But my ire changed to giggles as I remembered what my foster father taught us so many years ago.  He was a life long history student, and had a passion for the arcane facts of each social group he could find information about.  When we kids happened to ask, “why do hot climates serve hot spicy food?”  He was forced to wait (by Mom) until after dinner to tell us.

While she removed the debris of dinner, he explained with a grin, “It’s because in the hot climates, meat spoils faster.  So they use spice to both hide the flavor of spoiled meat, and to make it more possible to eat without getting severely ill.  The English began using a lot of curry when they were in India for just that reason.  There’s a letter between English officers in a book upstairs where they were telling each other to have the cooks learn from the natives how to use it for the meat that would spoil when it was shipped from England if it wasn’t salted or in a brine.”

So- I had to laugh at the thought that those who complain about people who allow the flavor of meat to be lightly seasoned so only the meat flavors are savored, are generally touting the cooking habits of those who had to serve spoiled meats.

Well – I’m glad that they can enjoy it.  I’m also going to take a pass on that food – with a private grin.

Does Money Help the Poor?

I’ve had some questions ever since I read this article: What Happens When the Poor Receive a Stipend?   What the author seemed to learn, was that when an unearned stipend was given to poverty level families, they benefited and changed their previously predictably negative futures for the better.  The younger the children, the better the futures, since the children had less negative history to rework or unlearn.

We’ve all heard variations of the saying, “Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day; show him how to catch fish, and you feed him for a lifetime.”  I don’t think that this article is in defiance of that idea.  I think it just points out that poverty has to be overcome in order for someone to find success, even in a “free” country with good human ethics, laws and traditions.  If you show someone how to fish, but don’t provide a way to get the fishing lures, hooks, line, nets, or other materials needed to do the job, it seems to be that the lessons are in vain.  Let enough time go by, and the student even forgets how to use the items should they stumble on some.  For example: I have learned some software skills (Access, to be exact) three times with expert levels of accomplishment during the classes – only to forget it because I haven’t used it later on.  We flippantly and accurately note: “If you don’t use it – you lose it.”

So, I guess I see that we have to make an impact on the poverty before we can see the resident of poverty find their ways out of that state of being.  That’s what the author of the article seems to have found out.

This seems to defy what I have heard from my church life teachings, though.  Most of the time, I have heard lessons about how to be thrifty so that there is ample money for any situation.  I’ve been taught that if you are careful to cultivate skills in both learning and skilled labor of some sort (artistic pursuits would count), then there is no reason to believe that you can’t provide a means of support for yourself, your family or your church/ministry.  Many of the teachers of these ideas came from a challenging economy themselves that we now call The Great Depression.  They still said that if you were willing to work, then you should be able to find an honest way to eat.

As I read many accounts of that time, there were plenty of folks who were honest and looking for some kind of work to help their families with.  But they went homeless, hungry and died as a result.

Don’t get me wrong – I trust God’s plan is better and mightier than any plan a human mind might devise.  I’m just wondering what my role should/could be in understanding what God’s point of view is concerning these things.  I am going to be thinking this through a lot, as I join the ranks of “the poor” once again in my life.  I don’t see that I’ll ever leave this rank or role either, since I am now older and not seeing anyone interested in employing me in any gainful wage situation.

I don’t always think it’s age that’s holding me back – since no one knows I’m “older” until they meet me.  Most of my resumes only get tossed into a pool of candidates and not even chosen for an interview for no reasons I can find out about.  I suspect it’s because I’ve worked as a temp/contractor for nearly 10 years, though that should prove that I’m trainable, and that my skills have been kept fresh.  The reality is that I am stuck with a minimum wage job, with part time hours; and that’s the best I can do in spite of having an Associate degree and years of Administrative Clerical experience.  I have no idea why I can’t find anything better.

I am not lazy, I work hard at the job, and then I work hard at home cleaning and keeping my home and car well maintained (where I can do it without cost).  I send out resumes wherever I find an opening that makes sense to try for (can’t work at a job 50 miles away for a wage that won’t support the gas or car repairs as well as a low rent).  I check several job sites out at least three times a week, and keep a record of all the jobs I’ve submitted resumes or filled applications out online for.  I am listed with several staffing agencies and am regularly contacted at least once a week for them to submit me as a candidate for a client (of course!).  I will get an interview about once every three weeks.  I never get the second interview, though it always seems to be a good interview.  Even the staffing rep says the feedback from the client about me was very good to excellent.  My test score percentages for all the software skills range from the mid 80’s to 100% (proofreading/spelling tests are my forte it seems).

The reality is that too many jobs have been eliminated, and where I might have competed against 20 or so applicants for a job posting in 2004 – I am now competing with more than 100 candidates for a position.  This means that my resume may never even be seen by the hiring manager.  They just get overwhelmed by the response, and just pick out the first few good possibilities and toss the rest in the trash.  This is not personal, and I have heard this from three different hiring managers, so I try to remind myself that it’s not because I’m not valuable or that I am discarded.  It’s just that I am anonymous in the crush for employment.

Because I believe that God is bigger than a fax machine, and that He can make my resume fall in just the right spot for someone to see – I will believe that my situation is just what God wants it to be – for now.  My job is to be humble and not object.  I am to be gracious and keep my words kind and patient for those who would ask me what I am doing that isn’t working.  They just don’t know, and it’s good that they have good work that keeps them clueless, as far as I am concerned.  I would rather they had the jobs that they do!  I just wonder if we understand who needs help and what is “help” when it comes to the poor?

Ideas?  Comments?  I’m interested – so please share!

Copyright © 2014 Churchmousie ~ all rights reserved.

Hoping for Better – Like Many Others

Happy New Year!  May you enjoy the fun that winter can bring, and may it be with good friends and making warm memories with family members ♥.  A healthy life should be all about moving toward something positive and very little about moving away from something negative.  With that goal in mind, you usually have to discern what your starting point is, so this day is the day I take some time to reflect on where I am in life, and how to move forward with a healthy positive stride.  This will include seeing where my faith is centered, too.

As a child, New Year’s Day didn’t really mean so much.  I liked the idea of parents going to a party, and my siblings and I having a private one of our own.  We used to make party hats and put them on our stuffed animals, having a kind of contest to see who made the best hat.  They were each so different, that we simply couldn’t choose one as the best.  We were happy that we’d made them and that our parents seemed to like them the next day.

As I became a young adult, it mattered more how I celebrated the day.  I didn’t want to be snubbed from any party, and I didn’t want to just stay home and do nothing.  It was supposed to be merry and give me and my husband a reason to dress up and act our age with people we enjoyed.  Once the children came along, we either had parties for them or with them at church.  One particular memory was when we had my sister’s kids as well as our own for the night at home.  One game that was my husband’s idea: tossing balls of clean socks into a clean potty chair.  The lid acted as a backstop and of course the older kids had the better chances of winning.  John (my husband) even tossed socks at the kids to heighten the hilarity.  All of the kids had fun, and I’m talking kids from ages 5 to 2 years.

As the children grew up, they went to their own parties, and finally my marriage was over as well.  As a single person, the fun was harder to find at church or anywhere else unless you were dating someone.  I honestly didn’t have that intention for a long time, and once the intention was there I had no candidates.  For most of the last decade, I’ve simply stayed home and talked with people and friends in chat rooms, or just enjoyed the Christmas tree with some wine before praying the year in.  It was quiet and gave me some sense of closure for the year that was ending, along with the growing question of: “where has the time gone?”

See, I’m a Senior now and that surprises me in some ways.  I’m not surprised by my age at all, and I wouldn’t turn back the clock for one minute!  What surprises me is how different being a Senior is, from what I’d ever imagined it would be.  How oddly old memories court for attention, and how few options there are for making significant new ones.  I somehow thought that I would have more choices than I do, and that saddens me.  But on New Year’s Eve, I find myself looking back over the year that went by so quickly – and I count so many more painful losses than I have before.  I am realizing that this aging stuff takes a lot more courage than I thought it did.   I also thought that my faith would be in a different place, along with more satisfaction with my church relationships.

The hardest realization is that the welcomes are more and more diminished.  As I talk with a few of my friends of the same age, I see that they are groping through that realization as well.  Where we’d like to go, we’re not usually wanted or welcomed.  Some of the places our spirits want to go to, our bodies will fail us – so we can only hope that someone we know will go and we might live it out vicariously if they will only happily share the memory with us.  Our church experiences are suffering as well.  Fewer and fewer options are available because of our growing list of accommodations that seem to frustrate others in ways we’re trying not to get frustrated about (how’s that for a frustrating circle of woe?)!

I’m not whining here, nor am I damning anyone.  I’m just putting my surprise into words.  Somehow, I didn’t realize that I may have been just as guilty of letting my elders languish when they might have blossomed with inclusion.  I remember trying to include the ones I could relate to (not all people – young or old are compatible to our lives, remember).  I remember smiles and kind declines, and decided that it might be that I led a far too boisterous lifestyle for them to enjoy being around (That may still be true, lol).  I now see that there were times I might have been more willing to shift things into a mode that would help those elders enjoy the ride a bit more – had I cared a bit more to do it.

I had thought that not having grandchildren might be part of what is missing for me, but my friends with grandchildren say that “fun” part only lasts for a time – then they (the grandkids) are too busy with building their lives  to include someone of Senior years.  Some friends have had their children or grandchildren move away, and other friends have willingly moved away from their children and grandchildren to avoid contact (I find that the most sad of all).  The point is that some of these seniors with no grandkids to participate with are still able to find a good stride in life if they have an adequate income, good friends to enjoy, and most of their health is good.

There is much I need to find out about how to have a more enriching life as a older lady, and one of them is certainly avoiding becoming isolated.  Laughably, I have just done that to myself because I had to leave my old home and move in with my son – in a new state and town I’ve never lived in before.  I guess I’ll have to figure out some creative ways to get connected with a group in the new place asap!

More ruminations to come: Happy Hopes Lists!

Copyright © 2014 Churchmousie ~ all rights reserved.

Moving into Christmas Week – Whew!

I wish I had time to think of some witty post, but like many of you – I’m working hard to keep my stride.  I’ve had some job interviews that required gas money, and I’ve been thankful to work many hours on my feet as a cashier in a retail setting.  So, I’m mostly tired these days.

Thankfully, I’m getting some paychecks that are helping my son and I to eat more than cereal this week, and that’s something we’re both grateful for.  First big meal (you won’t believe it) was Shipwreck.  That’s what my brother-in-law calls it, though I grew up with it called Goulash.  I have found so many names for this ground beef in a tomato sauce with elbow macaroni pasta, that the name changes with the optional ingredients thrown in for fun.  It’s certainly as different as meatloaf might be from home to home, and just as much a comfort food that always tastes better as a leftover.  Surprised?  Well, truth be told, I think we were both looking for some comfort, and this might provide it at some level.

We have a Christmas tree up, and it’s pre-lit with multi colors.  I bought it with great joy last year :).  I have the box of ornaments out, and I have one ornament I got from a cookie exchange at my sister’s home last weekend.  It’s a pretty angel, and I know she’s a bit lonely.  Maybe tomorrow I’ll get her friends out of the box and deck the tree :).

As my son stood in line at a store, he heard someone behind him saying, “People that don’t have money think it will solve all their problems.”  My son let the guy know he was something of a fool for making that statement at the time, but as we were talking it over we finally got the gist of the offense figured out.  Poor people (people like me – with a minimum wage job and Unemployed folks with no income like my son) aren’t looking for money, really.  What we’re looking for is a means to provide for our physical needs like a home and healthy food, first.  Then we hope to find a way to get the things that will support those like a trustworthy car, one phone option (to get keep in touch with employers and family), and some way of providing for our futures.  All of these require an income, and a job is the best way to do it and feel really good about yourself.  So, it’s not really “all about money.”

We’re not looking for special vehicles, awesome homes, or even whipped up computers and television connections that can only be numbered in triple digits but never really used.  Money is the common specie used in trade and barter to acquire those necessities.  I do some work, I get paid money that will be used anywhere I want to use it – which is why I want money more than food, cars or other things that need to be sold for money before I can use them to get what I really need.  We both agreed there are some folks so poor they only have money.  We’re not that kind of poor, but – well, we’re frustrated.

We’re both able to be employed, and in my case I am skilled in clerical work and that pays better than minimum wage with my skill levels and experience – usually.  He’s done more skilled trade work in a variety of settings and very willing to work.  We’ve submitted resumes and filled out applications galore – with few results.  I had someone call this week and ask what we needed most, and I answered “encouraging and supportive comments” were very helpful.  We’re not looking for handouts, though we’ve had to swallow our pride when some have come our way.  This is a desperate time, no denying it.

My son got to help some friends out here and there with some brute strength or photography, and that helped him to feel a bit better about himself as far as having some value, too.  This is the hardest part of being idled – feeling as if we’ve no value, because we’re not being picked up as valuable when we apply for jobs.  It’s a tough market out there, and we’ve got so much competition for very few slots.  That’s just the truth of it.  Many jobs were closed down and will never return because of automation, too.  This makes it a true challenge for anyone looking for traditional work situations.

But – there is still joy.  When I got to go to the cookie exchange last weekend, I was anxious driving there (I was running late) but the drive back was wonderful!  I love to go for rides and drives and the route I took was mostly farmland, so it was peaceful and lovely.  Christmas carols playing on the radio kept me entertained for part of the journey and then I turned them off so I could talk more with my Creator, who sent His Son to rescue me from eternal death.  We had a lot to say, and it was all very good.

I still find anthems to keep me going, and here’s one that blesses me as we begin Christmas week.  I have worked on a church musical as a makeup artist (apprentice level only), and the story of Scrooge’s lesson on Christmas touches me in a special way.  I even have some cute mouse ornaments of the three Angels and Scrooge that I treasure.  Here’s a lovely song to help us stay focused on the things that matter most.  Bless us, Lord.  God bless us one and all…

Copyright © 2013 Churchmousie ~ all rights reserved.