Monday, January 11, 2016

Unintended Consequences: Dog Hair

Years ago, when I started my minimalist wardrobe project, my plan included black pants, skirts, and jackets, which coordinate simply and perfectly with colorful shirts or sweaters. But the sad truth is this:

Source Unknown
My black fleece jacket, which I basically wear all winter even inside because our house is freezing, currently looks like this:

That's right. I had a cuddle with Daisy the Golden Retriever this evening, so the jacket is particularly hairy, but in truth, the picture pretty much captures the norm.

You try not cuddling a Golden who thinks she's a lap dog. You're not really given a choice. Besides, cuddling a Golden lowers your blood pressure and reduces stress.

It's science, people!

When I go to church on Sundays, people--mostly older ladies--pick fur off my clothes. It used to be embarrassing, but now, well, I've basically given up.

I choose to make a virtue of necessity and view the fur as a necessary accessory, but when the elbows wear a bit more on this jacket, I think I'll replace it with charcoal gray.

That might help hide the fur.

Or not.


Just keepin' it real.

Friday, January 1, 2016

Like the Fool I Will Always Be

Earlier this year, I had a dream in which I floated on a dark and infinite ocean. Impossibly huge waves lifted me and occasionally curled over my head, but I felt oddly at peace, calm, not worried about drowning at all, even when utterly submerged and tumbling in the water. As I drifted under the water, the thought drifted through my mind that sharks or other monsters might be in the water with me, ready to attack out of the darkness, just like the monster that lived under my bed when I was a child. But the thought of these leviathans caused no distress as I floated. I didn't fight or fear.

I floated and trusted.

Unlike most of my dreams, which disappear in the first fizzy minutes of consciousness each day, this one stuck with me, and the images of water, waves, and floating pop into my head almost daily, especially in the past two months.

I've body-surfed through 2015. The year's final months held a lot of grief and sadness and unwanted change, and also held great friendships, wonderful support, boundless love, and amazing grace unmerited. My response to all the negative things has largely been to meditate on staying afloat in an ocean storm.

"Don't fight the waves, Susan. Just ride them in a spirit of trust and gratitude for all the positive things."

Then, today, I read this quotation from Roald Dahl.

Superficially, Dahl's words and my dream have very little in common, unless you care to interpret merely floating as being lukewarm, which I do not. Floating generates far too much peace to be in any way bad. Instead, I think these two thoughts complement one another; they are, in a sense, different sides of the coin of life.

On the obverse of the coin, much of what happens in life is outside our control. Friends unfriend us, crises crop up, loved ones die. We can't stop these things from happening, as much as we might want to, and so floating through them, processing them, accepting them, trusting that things all work out in the end...this makes sense.

On the reverse of the coin, we have control over some things, like how we choose to use our gifts, how we choose to treat others, how we respond to the blessings that pour onto our lives like honey from the hive. We can choose to open ourselves enthusiastically to the good in life and throw our energy into multiplying that good stuff, spreading it around in a world starved for peace, love, and grace. This also makes sense.

If you're wrestling with resolutions this year, perhaps my dream or Roald Dahl's words or both together might help.

Do you need peace? Are you fighting the waves, tilting at windmills, running on a treadmill, exhausting yourself? How might you find peace this year and learn to float, trusting that life is what it is? Pursue peace.

Have you lost enthusiasm, become cynical or jaded or simply lost? How are you throwing energy into negative things, which will drain you, instead of throwing energy into positive things, which will fill you up? Be an enthusiast.

Instead of resolving to lose weight or eat more vegetables, I resolve to float in faith and enthuse with energy. I suspect that being an enthusiast leads to peace, and that in finding peace I will also have lots of energy to hug and love my passions. I also suspect that at times I will fail spectacularly at both resolutions, but even baby steps forward in both will be wonderful.

Care to join me?