I Can No Longer Deny It…….

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Getting older is inevitable, maturity is not. It seems a bit sad when maturity catches up with age and there is no longer denying the fact that……. I’m getting older. In fact, I can remember my parents being my age. What happened?

I remember when I started watching the news instead of cartoons in the morning. I stubbornly held on to my childhood routine well into my twenties. It was when I took a new job that I began watching the news for the weather report. My commute one way to and from work went from five minutes to forty-five and I wanted to be prepared. What happened to living by the seat of my pants? What happened to rash decision making? Why did I agree to take a job with such a long commute? I wanted the experience but I mostly wanted more money. No twenty-something can resist the allure of more money.

My list of items I buy with money has certainly changed in fifteen years. When I was a twenty-something, I bought a video game system with some extra money (yeah, what’s that, right?) I had acquired. More recently, I had a conversation with my husband before our ten year anniversary. We were talking about what we would like to do to celebrate our anniversary. I said, “If I had a choice between spending a night away and replacing the kitchen carpet with flooring I can actually clean, give me the flooring!!” I wondered if I had hit my head. That’s what I said and I meant it. Yes, we have been dreaming of a night away from home forever…… one good night’s sleep, a quiet room…… and it sounded dreamy but being able to actually clean my kitchen floor sounded even more exciting. Our anniversary was almost three months ago and we haven’t been out to celebrate. And no, I don’t have a new floor. It seems as if that newly acquired money hasn’t made its arrival. Instead we gave each other a card and winked as we passed each other in the bathroom. That’s real excitement and I have been having plenty of it. I was excited to get my mail and find coupons from the local grocery store, I got 20% more of my favorite cereal in this last box, my mom gave me some clothes she could no longer wear, and (drum-roll, please) I found another box of panty liners in my cupboard  that I forgot I had. “Oh yeah!”

Despite the obvious change in the things I get excited about, I still feel like I have recently graduated from high school. Over fifteen years span between my imagination and reality.  I don’t feel old enough to have four kids and it scares me to think that I am shaping their childhood when I feel like I am not that far away from my own. My parents and every other “old” person was right when they told me that life moves too fast. Now I am that “old” person saying the same to my kids. Guess what? They are giving me same look I gave my parents when they offered advice. It’s that face that says, “Ummmmm, okay Mom….”

So I have resigned to the fact that I’m now “old.” The only comfort I have in the fact that I will be forty in five short years is knowing my husband will be fifty in six (sorry babe). I like the news for more than just the weather, I get nervous thinking about those roller coasters I once loved, I don’t like it when my kids climb too high in a tree, I’d rather watch a movie at home, I have a hard time recovering from a night where I was awake past midnight, and many more truths I can’t quite admit…… just yet……. Life definitely gets better with age, it’s too bad those “darn kids” don’t realize it.

*d*

PS – My favorite cereal is Lucky Charms and I still insist on putting chocolate syrup in my white milk. I’m stubbornly sticking to those habits, for now…..

 

Reply by ~L~

*d*, I can’t even tell you how often I think about this same Twilight Zone feeling. I don’t feel like I’m an adult. I wonder sometimes when or if I ever will. Maybe that’s another reason, on my long list, why I don’t have kids. For the same reason as you state above! I’m not in any shape to be teaching someone else how to live! Eeek! Frightening.

Of Fire and Clay

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Pottery has been around for centuries and the techniques have been used by a variety of people from poor farmers to Egyptian Pharaohs. Because it abundant and readily available, clay was cheap. The need for pottery was as vast as the type of people who used it. Farmers could use simple pottery to hold grain while Pharaohs used elaborate pottery to hold sacred items for burial. In almost every culture, pottery was an easy way to create a piece of art. The process of creating a piece of pottery leaves the unformed glob of clay unrecognizable by the end of the refining process. To get the unshaped clay to a useful or artistic piece, it is molded by the potter’s hands, shaped into the desired form, and placed into the kiln to harden. Firing the clay is an important step so it can be strong enough to fulfill its desired purpose. Everything from the season’s yield to the treasures of an ancient culture would be held in pottery and the pieces had to be strong enough to withstand fracture and prevent it from losing its contents. The more artistic pieces were especially desired to withstand the tests of time and were often heated at higher temperatures. Not all types of clay can withstand the higher temperature so only special types of clay were used. This special clay creates the beautiful, extremely durable porcelain. It is unimaginable to think that clay consists of no more than a few natural elements.  According to dictionary.com, clay is partially defined as the following:

1. a natural earthly material that is plastic when wet, consisting essentially of hydrated silicates of aluminum: used for making bricks, pottery, etc.

2. earth, mud.

4. the human body, especially distinguished from the spirit or soul; the flesh

The body being defined as clay? In the simplest definition, the human body is made up of a handful of elements, mostly consisting of water. Humans and clay are essentially made of the same basic elements. Unlike the human body, water is added to clay to form what is desired by the potter’s hands. Without the work of the potter, the clay would remain with the earth. The body, being defined as that of clay, could also be seen in this simple context, from the earth, to the earth. Let there be no mistake, the human body is more complex than a jar of clay, but like clay, it can be shaped to hold the greatest treasures and has the potential to become a beautiful piece of art.

It isn’t uncommon to see people turning their bodies into their own versions of art. Tattoos are less the taboo that they once were. Adorning the body with pieces of art through tattooing takes time and can be painful. To the person desiring the tattoo, the expression of the work is usually well worth the pain of getting it. It has also been widely acceptable in America to have piercings. The brief moment of pain and subsequent care after the piercing is worth the look achieved. In both examples, the outcome of the initial pain was known and a decision was made to endure pain and/or the care involved. Such a process would be less desirable if the outcome was unknown and the only information given was a promise of beauty. That would take a great deal of trust and not being assured of the end result could cause anxiety and less of a tolerance of pain. Ask anyone who paid for a tattoo that ended up looking more like the doodling of a two year-old or the small percentage that got an infection from a piecing. Instead of beauty, they received a problem. Decisions such as these would be simpler to make if there was foreknowledge of the result. Since there is no way to know how the experience will end, asking questions can help make the best decision. If clay could ask questions or talk, what would it say to the potter?  It certainty would want to know what the potter intended for it, but what else?

“You want to make me a water pot? No thanks, I’m too good for water.”

“There is no way you are throwing me into that fire!”

“I’d prefer if you didn’t paint me blue.”

Fortunately for history, clay made no such demands or statements. Human ancestors molded and fired the clay to serve a purpose and clay is still serving a purpose today. Finding a purpose for the human existence is vastly different than that of clay but it can help define a purpose. Both start out as a shape unrecognizable to the finished result. Humans at some point in the womb resemble a tadpole more than a human but with time, develop all the necessary components. Witnessing a heartbeat via ultrasound when the baby is no more than a few weeks gestation is no less than astonishing. A heart that will beat thousands upon thousands of times in a lifetime begins so miniscule inside a mother’s womb.  In the womb is where the molding process begins. First with the physical form and then as the child grows, the internal. Parents nurture and protect children and try to shape them into responsible and respectable adults. Parents nurture the aspects of a child’s life to help him or her understand the world and prepare for the fire that will eventually come. And this shaping by fire never ends. Into adulthood the experiences shape existence, while still relying on the early work of the parents. All with the hope the now adult can navigate the world alone. Unlike the clay, humans can ask questions on what they will become.

“Why am I here?”

“Why has this tragedy happened to me?

“Am I strong enough to endure?”

Also unlike the clay, life is shaped over a long period of time and the fire doesn’t come all at once. Sometimes the fire is hot enough to harden only the outside and protect what is within and other times, the heat is so intense that it hardens on the inside and out. The true works of art are those formed with the most intense heat, whose flames are not meant for every piece of clay. Those special pieces are chosen carefully and will have lasting strength and beauty. Because the end result of these rare pieces is beauty beyond compare, it takes time and trust in the process. These rare works of art can hold the most valuable possessions and stand the test of time. No, money cannot buy an average piece the result meant for the rare and it’s not worth the value gained by experience. A plain pot can be painted, decorated and made to resemble what intense fire has fused but it cannot have equal strength.

Are you the rare pot? Have you been asked to carry the heavy burdens? Because the heat is so intense, the process for the rare pot is painful and there is no knowledge of why and how the fire will result in beauty. Often times questions have to remain unanswered and trust wears thin but like the rare pot, the experience in the hottest fire yields invaluable experience. Each time the rare pot is exposed to the next round of heat, the harder it gets and the value of the treasures entrusted grows. What gem has been entrusted to you? Maybe it is the most delicate that must be placed in the strongest of places. If you are asked to endure the intense flames, your beauty will only shine more brightly every time you endure. Unlike the common, this beauty isn’t by choice and can only be seen at the surface but has been shaped and formed changing the very elements of your life. Don’t get discouraged you rare and beautiful piece, welcome the fire, for each flame brings you closer to unmatched beauty.

*d*

Image found via search engine and credited to http://www.pinterest.com

The Rose Colored Glasses

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Beautiful is the view from rose colored glasses. The dreamy spectacles enchant the lackluster world. Nothing can spoil the view when the world is tinted in the hue of rose. Storms roll in and candy colored drops fall from the sky. Just open your arms wide to receive the gifts imparted from a world radiating a floral glow. All have worn them and all have felt immune to the world. The newly in love, the couple having their first child, or maybe newly acquired wealth. While in this transient state, nothing else matters. No words or advice can penetrate the feeling. I was there many times. It felt glorious and no one could change me. All was right with the world and I had all the answers. I only wanted to do as I wished and no one could challenge my flawed beliefs.

Time still passes when in possession of new and pretty things. The dust from the journey starts to tarnish the pretty rose glass, a few stumbles toss and scratch them, and over time, they aren’t as nice as they once were. Some people rigorously try to replace the feeling with a number of different things. Yet, time wears down beauty and life refuses to stay roseate. So when it comes, maybe it’s best to celebrate and relish in the feeling. Everyone has their time when the sun shines a little brighter, the road traveled is smooth, and the air smells as fresh as a new spring day. At this time, some plead for time to crawl. Or even stop. These are the moments that make up the most perfect of memories.  Remembering can flood you with emotions and feelings just as fresh as when it happened. When things don’t seem as splendid, these are the best moments to remember. They act as a glimmer of light when it has been too long since life looked rosy. I often like to remember a time before diagnoses, the days my children were born, or when my husband and I fell in love.

Looking back can certainly swell my heart with joy but it can also remind me of my own ignorance. I don’t like parts of the person I once was. There was a time I was so high on this feeling that I thought I had it all. I had all the answers and I didn’t need anyone’s help. I was ignorant to the people closest to me and that had to change. The only unacceptable ignorance is the ignorance that refuses to be changed and I was full of it. I thought I knew more than people with a lifetime of experience, I had strong opinions of many things with no personal experience , and the only things that mattered were the ones that surrounded my life. I allowed myself to boast but was unable to look past the end of my nose. I had fallen from my perch many times and usually walked away unscathed. I had to take a few big falls before I finally broke. There were times I couldn’t get up. I spent a lot of time kneeling at my broken life, trying to put the pieces back together. Some parts of it are still not put together.

A lot of people pass along wisdom during times of tribulation. Many people quote the saying, “God doesn’t give you more than you can handle.” The more hardships I experience, the less I like this quote. I know I have been given more than I have been able to handle. This quote has made me feel inadequate. Where was this strength equal to the turmoil I was facing? Why was it so hard to pick up the pieces of my rose colored life? I was broken down until I was folded over with my face resting on my dusty hands. There was nothing left but to lay down my ignorance and plead for help. I think we will all be given more than we can handle alone. There are times we must silence ourselves, kneel down, and ask for help. I have replaced this saying with one of my own, “God will give you more than you can handle because breaking you down is the only way He can get you to kneel.”

In those most dismal moments you can choose to desperately hold on to the beauty that is slipping away or you can kneel. You can cling to the ignorance that refuses to change or give up your turn peering through the glass and find something deeper. The only way I was going to learn was to be broken.  I wasn’t changing any other way. Something terrible would occur, I would reflect and realize I needed to change. Time would pass and I began to forget. I would forget the gifts suffering allowed me and went back to my old ways. I was stubborn and it took a lot to change me. I only wanted to be happy when I was peering through the rose colored glasses. It was easier that way. These days, I try to find happiness even when I am broken and dirty from the journey. I admit, it can sometimes take effort searching for a reason to be happy. That’s when relying on those reaching out to help and something bigger than yourself is worth it.

The world can give us many reasons to lose hope. Several years ago I wanted to change everything in my life. I wanted to move, find another job, and start over. I had lost hope in other people. My plans changed when my son was diagnosed. Those same people I thought I lost hope in began to reach out to my family. I found the love and compassion I had feared was lost in this world and it took my own devastation to see it. Disparity is not the end of happiness but possibly the best way to find it in the most unlikely way.

*d*