One of These Things Is Not Like the Other……

“One of these things is not the other,

one of these things just doesn’t belong.

Can you tell which thing is not like the other,

By the time we finish this song?”

Anyone remember this song?

Can you name that show?

Yep, Sesame Street.

And now it’s in your head.

You’re welcome.

Recently I was in the checkout lane with a cart full at the Grocery Store.  Usually I stand scanning magazine article titles, making sure there isn’t anything I need to turn the littles away from.  As we move closer to the belt, I ignore the candies and whatnot shelves, after a quick scan for triggers to our food allergies.  (Sometimes it feels like I’m scanning more than the checkout clerk.)

But one day recently I stopped short of ignoring and stared.  There was something that gave me pause for a moment.

20140520-231239.jpg

Because that doesn’t belong.

I know where cornbread can be found in the store–over near the deli and bakery section.  On a table out in the middle of the floor.  But it does not go in the middle of the gum and candy and gift cards and discounted books in the checkout line.  Huh.  Interesting.  I can remember that cornbread doesn’t go there, but I could not have told you what was there until something that didn’t belong showed up.

It took seeing something that was out of place for me to actually look around at what was there and notice what did belong.

Sometimes it’s like that in my heart.  Deep in my soul.  Sometimes it takes something feeling out of place before I really take stock of what is in there.  To figure out what belongs, what is in place, and get rid of the negativity and brokenness that doesn’t go there.

I wonder if there’s a regularly scheduled “check” in the grocery store to return misplaced items to their rightful places.  There must be, because the sight I saw is a very rare one.

Maybe I should consider scheduling similar checks for my own heart and spirit.

It’s a thought.

Love to all.

 

Which You are You?

Social Media has been overrun.  At least three times a day I see a related post.  Thanks to sites like Buzzfeed and Zimbio, all of us who are lost can get one step closer to finding ourselves by taking a quiz and finding out such soul-shaping information about ourselves like which Beatle we are, which character on Parks and Recreation we would be, and which Disney Villain we are most like.  The past couple of days has revealed a “Which Food Are You?” quiz–I’m seeing a lot of cheeses out there.  People don’t seem to be  too happy about that.   I’ve come across which breed of dog are you, and rumor has it there is a “Which Girl Scout Cookie Are You?”  I’m thinking my good friend and Girl Scout mom could find a way to use that for marketing purposes.  Just an idea.

It’s fascinating, isn’t it?  Aub and Mess Cat and I spent a little while on a lazy Sunday afternoon with Aub clicking through quizzes and asking us questions.  It never failed.  My answers always led to the most mellow of characters or the ones you barely remember.  I don’t know why.  Ahem.  I just shook my head and swore off any more quizzes.  When you get the one Disney villain that gave your Mama nightmares as a child, it’s time to stop the game.  (The Queen of Hearts from “Alice in Wonderland.”  I don’t even know, y’all.)

Why are so we intrigued by finding our identity in fictional characters or animals or food?  There are even quizzes that pinpoint where you should live.  I do not have time for that one.  Some days I barely find the resolve and wherewithal to leave my house–I certainly am not going to be able to move to a different state, based on a quiz telling me I don’t belong in Georgia.  (Which are fighting words, by the way.)

I think we are always looking for connections.  Links to others, a string that joins us, hands to hold–so we are not alone.  If I’m like “Hey, I’m a chocolate chip shortbread” and you say, “Hey me too,” then we are connected and I am not alone.  If the synopsis of said cookie says I’m a really, really superb human being, and you nod and say “It’s true, so true” well, then bam! Validation right there.  Thank you very much.

Then there are the quizzes where I get someone or something I don’t think is accurate.  (Or wish it wasn’t most likely.)  Guaranteed I’m gonna retake that thing.  And hope for a different answer.  It’s madness, isn’t it?  Who am I–but tell me who I want to hear, not who you are really programmed to link me to.

Ahem.

We are always seeking more information.

About ourselves.

But from on-line quizzes?

I don’t know why, but that feels a little sad to me.

I know many of these quizzes are just for fun.  I’ve taken a few just for kicks.  But down deep, I wonder if it isn’t symbolic of us looking for ourselves in all the wrong places, to paraphrase Johnny Lee’s song.  We are taking quizzes, and haven’t we been doing this for years?  What are you on the Enneagram?  What season are you?  What color is your best?  Who is your ideal mate? Remember the INFJ/ESTP personality tests? So many questions, all leading up to the one answer we are seeking.

Who am I?

The truth is I have found out more about myself, my authentic and true being, on a long walk on a dirt road.  Mama used to have mowed paths out back at Blackberry Flats, and walking those I dreamed, I sang, I cried, I talked to God, and I talked to myself.  And I came away with a little clearer sense of who I am and who I want to be.  And peace.  When I was at Wesleyan we had some great places to walk where I could clear the cobwebs in my brain.  Sometimes with a friend, but often alone, walking off with questions and returning with one or two answered.  One of the best days of clarity and peace and feeling in touch with ME came when I was sitting on the swing out by the pond at my alma mater on a sunny spring day with a notebook and a pencil.  Just me and the geese.  And quiet.

I’ve lost touch with that way of seeking answers, of reaching inside myself and coming back up in touch and at peace with my life. Or with a game plan to get to that point.  I’ve not found a place to walk and wander and wonder.  To shut out the noise and messages and commercial interruptions in my life.  And just be.  Instead I’ve let life wrap me up in busy-ness and day to dailies.  The quizzes are fun…..and funny.  I am curious going into the quiz, but truthfully, I know what I’d like the result to be.  Most of the time I find myself left with a lingering sense of “Do what?” or “How is that even possible?” with only an occasional “Nailed it.  Yes!”  When it comes to really knowing who I am though, I’m still left with a sense of longing.

Do we ever really get it?  Do we ever really fully know WHO we are or figure out exactly what we are supposed to be doing?  One of Mama’s favorite shows was “The Greatest American Hero,” about a guy who was given a superhero cape but no instruction manual.  Or did he lose it?  Regardless, he had no directions.  Mama found that very ironic and funny.  We are put down here to live our lives, to build and nurture relationships, and to do the best we can with what we have.  No instruction manual.  And while it’s funny and a great Facebook post or conversation starter to know that I am Jerry from “Parks and Rec” or a number 2 with a 1 wing on the Enneagram or a Pug, none of that is going to bring me peace or help me look in the mirror tomorrow morning.  None of these results are going to help ME keep becoming ME.

Will I take another of these quizzes?  I’m not promising anything.  (After all, no joke, as I was writing this another one popped up–“Which one of Jesus’ disciples are you?” NO WAY am I touching that one!) But what I do know is that this is the next quiz I will be taking–

Where is the closest and quietest dirt road to walk on around here?

It’s time I go out and do some “wondering” around again.

I’ve been missing me lately.  So I’m packing up the 2, the pug, Jerry, INFP, Fall, Lumiere and Cogsworth, and chocolate shortbread–the whole lot of them–and we’re all going to have some time together with ME.  It’s time we all got together again.  And just be.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

In case you haven’t been exposed to the world of these quizzes, here are some links:

http://www.buzzfeed.com/quiz

http://www.zimbio.com/quiz

for the INTJ/ESFP quiz:  http://www.16personalities.com/free-personality-test

for the Enneagram quiz:  http://www.enneagramquiz.com/

Just promise me you’ll take a good long walk or soak in the tub or something just you yourself afterwards.  Don’t let them mess with your mind or define you.  Because they will try–they’re crafty like that.  And one quiz leads to ten.  Not that I know this personally or anything.  Ahem.

The Ways of the Earthworm

This morning before the rest of the house was stirring, the pup and I headed out to the front yard to contemplate and do what doggies do in the morning dew.  The yellow of the sun and the blue of the sky seemed a more brilliant color today, promising us a day of beauty and perhaps a cool breeze or two thrown in there.

Meet Emilio, the new friend the sweet pup and I made this morning.  I want to find his rhythm and grace in my own life.

Meet Emilio, the new friend the sweet pup and I made this morning. I want to find his rhythm and grace in my own life.

As we were headed back in, I saw this guy making his way down the walkway.  I had already seen some of his kin whose demise had come all too quickly back on the pavement several feet away.  This one still had some get up and go.  As I watched his movements, it amazed me.  His head would stretch out and move forward ever so slightly, and then he’d wait for the rest of his body to catch up.  Again, stretch that head and wait.  It was painstakingly slow to me, who must have seemed like a skyscraper had he looked up.  Or, you know, had eyes.

As I watched him it hit me that I could learn a thing or two from Emilio the Earthworm.  He takes his time.  (I wonder what an earthworm in a rush would look like anyway.)  He leads with his head.  Then he waits for the rest of himself to catch up.  Wonder what he thinks about as that long body wiggles in and prepares to follow the head again?  He has a lot of time for cogitating, I’m thinking.

I tend to get ahead of myself a lot.  And then not wait for the rest of me to catch up, just plunge right in on the next thing.  And the next and the next, until I’m running in circles and find myself putting two entrees in the oven for the littles’ lunch (they did not complain on that) or I leave my wallet at home twice in three days (they did on this–Cooter was hoping for Chick-Fil-A that night–not without my wallet, buddy.)  And so it is.

My new author friend, Ann Hite, taught a Writer’s Workshop on Monday.  She talked about the exercise of walking slow–how important it is to slow down.  To listen, to think, to just be.  Still.  Slow.  Quiet.  That’s huge.  I have been walking fast most of my life; it’s a short girl thing.  It was especially true in high school when my ability to walk fast and dart through the throngs of students on the walkways between buildings determined whether or not I’d be on time for class and thus stay out of the Vice Principal’s office one more day.  Then there’s that whole walking fast thing to burn energy, burn calories, lose weight, stay healthy.  Our society is not one that emphasizes the benefits of walking slow.  Or crawling in the case of Emilio.

My Mama got it.  She could get more done in a day than most folks do in a week or maybe a month.  And yet she had her quiet times.  I honestly don’t remember ever seeing her in a hurry.  I don’t remember her ever saying, “Hurry up” or “right now!” or huffing and blowing getting out the door.  She simply did not run behind.  It’s a trait I admire as I did not inherit it.  At all.  I asked Sister if she ever remembered seeing Mama in a hurry.  And she immediately responded, “Yes.  I did. Once.”  She was quiet.  I asked her “when” about the same time the memory hit me.  When Daddy was being transferred from the local hospital to Emory in Atlanta at the end of August in 2009, Mama went home to pack and Sister was there to help her.  That is the only time either of us remember Mama being in a hurry.  She had strong faith and peace.  I wonder if her slow and steady pace helped with that.

As I rose from my squatting position to go back in the house this morning I thought about all of this.  I might need to tack a picture of Emilio on my mirror to remind me to slow down.  Don’t let my mind rush ahead with dreams and goals and ideas.  Slow down, listen, and wait.  I feel calmer just breathing that.  In and out.  Slow down.  Listen.  Wait.

I looked down at my new little guru and back at the sun that was getting brighter through the trees.  Another little bit and that pavement would warm up fast.  He didn’t seem to be headed toward the yard but instead in a line with the walkway.  Y’all know what happens to earthworms on hot pavement, right?  Very sad.  I felt like one of those wildlife photographers.  I know they are filming nature and have some sort of perhaps ethical something holding them back from letting the inevitable happen, but I could not bear to come back out in a couple of hours and find him baked on a 350 degree pathway.  I took a leaf and helped him along until he started wiggling so much it reminded me these guys must be related to snakes.  Ack!  I left him to his own devices to finish heading into the dirt. One stretch and wait at a time.

There he goes.  Thanks Emilio for stopping by and teaching me the ways of the earthworm.

There he goes. Thanks, Emilio, for stopping by and teaching me the ways of the earthworm.

May we all remember to let our bodies and souls catch up as we go through our busy, filled to the brim days–to slow down, listen, and wait.  I think that will be my new breath prayer as the winds of fall and yet more changes blow through my days and I find myself overwhelmed.  My friend taught us about breath prayers, an ancient practice that allows one to meditate through steady breathing and focusing thoughts.

Inhaling—slow down

Exhaling—Listen…..and wait

Walk slow, my friends.  And soak in the good that follows.