Hold your face

So, the other day I was pulling out of the church parking lot and had to cross traffic. I hate crossing traffic. It’s the epitome of unwanted confrontation. There was a time when I would go a mile or so out of my way just to avoid crossing traffic, but I digress…

So, I’m pulling out across both lanes and I tell my son, “Hold your face!”

Yeah, that’s not what I meant. I was going to say, “Hold your horses!”, but I knew that was wrong. Hold your horses means to slow down, not be prepared. I was so flustered in the moment I couldn’t find the words to say, “Hang onto your hat!” which didn’t feel right anyway. My favorite warning is “Close your eyes.” {insert evil laugh here}

The best part was when my son said, “I knew what you meant, I was just waiting for your to figure it out.” He cracks me up.

I started thinking about all the family clichés I grew up with. My dad used to ask, “A/C?” which meant “All clear?” until the day my grandma responded, “Yes” because she thought he meant “Anything coming?”

One of my favorites from dad is, “Half past eating time, time to eat again.” I’m proud to say I’ve past that one on to the next generation. Another one is, “Here’s your hat, what’s your hurry?” or how about, “Come back when you can’t stay so long.”

My mom had a few I always liked, “Better to be thought a fool than to open your mouth and remove all doubt.” and “I fear neither God nor man, but give this woman what she wants.”

It makes me smile to know I’m passing on a great tradition of family clichés and hopefully adding a few of my own: “They’ll get glad in the same pants they got made in” and “Kill them with kindness” ~~ Okay, those aren’t mine either, but they have helped me more times than not.

My contributions would include, “They only have as much power as you give them,” and “Maybe the grass is greener on the other side, because their septic tank is broken.”

Clichés can be, well, so cliché–but they can also be a connection to a fond memory that should be passed along, no matter how many times my dad says, “I wouldn’t be this old if I hadn’t lived this long!”

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Writing Prompt #7: Every important call is a close one.

At first, I wasn’t sure what to make of this one and started in a whole different direction, but I was too tired to finish, so I slept on it and see exactly what I want to say this morning. I love how the mind works like that. So, what does it mean “Every important call is a close one”? Think back to any important decision. Was it difficult? Easy? It’s possible to have an “easy” important decision, I suppose, but what’s the fun in talking about that?

No. It’s the difficult ones we appreciate or regret. Unfortunately, regretting seems to be more common. Regretting makes my ass twitch. I’ve done enough of it in my life that I refuse to go down that road any more than I have to. Appreciation, on the other hand, is like a leaf on the wind and hard to catch. Regret is a more common path, because it clings to you like a ball and chain adding link after link with every decision you make.

The truth is, most people receive appreciation for the things they do and say, but are so weighed down by the chains of regret, or even bitterness and guilt, that they don’t  believe they deserve the leaf as it floats by. Something else that makes my ass twitch. STOP IT. How? By making different choices. Easy to say, hard to do, especially when you are carrying around about a 1,000 pounds of regret. But it is a choice.

Choice is power. You do have the power to let go of the regret as hard as it is to believe. You have the power to accept appreciation. You just have to choose. It’s an important call, and it doesn’t have to be a close one.

Writing prompt #6: Comfort zones are most often expanded through discomfort

I have almost made peace with the fact that my comfort zone has snuck off without my permission to play a demented game of hide-n-seek, determined not to be found!

My oldest son is graduating from high school this next month. Just a few weeks away. Right before that I’ve got my annual writer’s conference. Both are really big life moments.

I now have to stand on the sidelines and watch my son as he’s exposed to the hard cold world we know as life. He has to start making decisions for himself, and that terrifies me. I am no longer in control. My comfort zone is gone. Poof!

Then there’s my other child–my story–that I have to expose to the hard cold world of publishing. Oh my. It just hit me. I’m losing a child on both counts and I have to let it happen if I want either one of them to grow. It’s a good thing. It’s a very good thing. Then why am I petrified?!?

Fear of failure? I have survived failure, more than once.

Fear of success? I have survive that as well.

No. It’s the fear of the unknown–walking the tightrope of life without a safety net, outside my comfort zone. Yet, I haven’t regretted one step. They haven’t all been successful, but neither have they been complete failures. I’m hoping I can pass that knowledge and understanding on, so that both of my children can benefit from it.

I guess, I’m going to let my comfort zone play its little game of hide-n-seek, and I will put what I can’t control into God’s hands. For some reason I have to stress through it before remembering I can give it to Him. Ah well, He never holds it against me, thank goodness.

Writing prompt #5: No trees touch the sky

This is a German proverb, which in itself makes me wonder. I’m not sure if it is optimistic or pessimistic. Is the glass half full or half empty, as it were.

Maybe there’s no glass at all. Maybe it’s all in your perspective. Maybe it’s not. I can see as a child looking through the branches, higher and higher and higher, not understanding how the atmosphere works or what it is made up of, that the sky is just a ceiling you draw and color on a page, that the tree does indeed touch the sky.

I was going to say as adults we know that trees do not touch the sky. When you look at it from the scientific side of things, how the atmosphere is broken down into different layers, how the sun reflects against molecules or atoms in the air to project the color blue, there’s nothing for the trees to touch.

Then I got to thinking.

The molecules and atoms in the air the sun reflects against do indeed touch things, even though we cannot see them with the naked eye. Therefore, trees can and do touch the sky, or at least the sky touches the trees. Now there’s a twist to think about.

tree snuggy

Writing prompt #4: Oops… Wrong cookie

I wanted to wait and use this one down the road, but I’m randomly picking quotes and it came up today. I laughed when my uncle got this one. It reminds me of the episode of Big Bang Theory where they are complaining about Howard’s joke… (Bernadette pretends to read a fortune cookie) “Help, I’m a prisoner in a Chinese fortune cookie factory.”

As I sat waiting for my computer to update this morning, I had time to watch my cat, Eric. He came with the name. He’s a gray and white tuxedo (no clue if they have a name for their breed) and a great communicator. He sat on the edge of his table, looking at me, or anyone who walked by, intently, letting out the sweetest of small meows. My son asked, “are you going to ignore your cat?” I said, “yes,” but was unable to, because he’s so good at persuasion. My mama, may she rest in peace, would say a he’s good at making you feel guilty, but we’ll go with persuasion. He had a little left in his food bowl, but he doesn’t like stale food. I filled it and he was content, until he need a drink of water. It was my son’s turn. Eric sat next to the water bowl and started the same small meow. The funny thing is, the bowl was almost completely full of water, but he doesn’t like water that has sat over night. (he so fits in my family)

As I watch my son empty the bowl and fill it anew, I wish I don’t have to do the writing prompt today, so I can blog about Eric, except it’s actually the perfect prompt. So random, it can be about anything! Don’t be surprised if I use this one from time to time.

eric helping

Writing prompt #3: He who hurries cannot walk with dignity

I have fibromyalgia. Some people may turn their nose up at the word and not believe it is a “real” thing, but I’ve lived with it since before they had a word for it and it’s very real to me. Fortunately, my case is much milder than most. I have regular everyday pain like others, but then I have pain that reminds me I have fibromyalgia. It usually hits hard when the weather changes, like it’s doing now. We’ve had several days of wet rainy weather. Cold. Gray. Pain. I woke up this morning feeling like I’d been used for a karate punching back. Medicine helps. I’m just waiting for it to kick in (pun intended? Happy accident).

I found it kind of funny pulling this quote out of the bunch this morning, because I can in no way hurry today. Every step is going to take effort and time, and my slow pace will not look dignified. I do like the quote though, because contradictions make you stop and think. I’m not sure if the hurried are less dignified than the slow and steady, but they are going so fast you can’t tell one way or another. I do know if you hurry you miss out on the little things, and it’s the little things that make life worthwhile. However, you can spin it and say those who wait around will miss the bus (not a fortune cookie quote, but it would work for one, wouldn’t it?). You can be too slow and miss out on something important, and there’s no dignity there either.

So, the moral for today is balance is the key. If you have to hurry, don’t forget to slow down later and watch the sunset. If you are stuck at a standstill, pick up your feet and start moving. Just remember to do both with dignity.

balance

Writing Prompt #2: Only the educated are free.

So, I keep all of these fortune cookie quotes in a pocket of my billfold. I decided to just pull them out randomly and run with it. WOW did I get a doozy today. If there is something I believe in, I believe in the freedom of education. I’m not talking higher education, like college, masters, and P.H.D.’s, which are all fine in their place. I’m talking about learning anything and everything. Knowing how to read. Learning how to write. Understanding what is going on around you because you pay attention. Having a voice. Using that voice. Fighting for the underdog. Knowing who the real underdog is. Not blindly following the masses. Carving your own path. Trying new things even if they frighten you. Learning more today than you knew yesterday.

Reading is the key to the world.

All you have to do is Google the phrase “literacy statistics” to find groups and organization with plenty of numbers and consequences to a society without the skills to read. Everything from prison, to welfare, to teen pregnancy. Not saying that illiteracy is the cause of all of those things, but it is directly linked in a high majority of cases. Reading is the first step to a successful society. Keeping if from anyone, should be a crime.

There have been plenty of times throughout history where it was against the law to teach certain groups how to read. I hate to admit it, but I know it still goes on today, maybe even closer to home than I would like to believe. Why?

Reading is power.

If you don’t like where you are in life, start reading. Anything and everything. If you don’t like what you are reading, put it down and find something else. Newspapers, magazines, books, blogs {wink wink}, even the Bible.

Only the educated are free.