Is It Time?

I’m just wondering what time it is.

Last light after picking up a few things at the market, having loaded two full bags into the trunk and slamming it closed, a deadening awareness hit me. I didn’t know what time it was.

I had nowhere specific to go but homeward, the sun was going down (and a lovely sunset it was), I wasn’t particularly tired or frazzled even from the workday and yet I had just locked my keys and phone in the trunk of the car. I stood there in the dark for several moments in solemn disbelief.

No phone = can’t call ANYONE. No “phone home E.T.” No calling a lifeline, no roadside assistance. My car’s bumper isn’t made of metal so I don’t use one of those magnetic hidden key thingeys. Hmmmm. I shopped near work not home so no one I know is within 20 miles. Not even Siri could help me from inside the locked trunk. I walked back into the store.

The edgy girl in customer service with shiny, black lacquered, nine inch nails was busy in conversation about another customer’s amazing calf tattoo. It wasn’t really THAT amazing and it was eventually my turn for assistance. She was dumbfounded that someone had been separated from their iPhone which was more incredulous to her than having locked my keys in the trunk. She allowed me to use the store phone to call for help though. The locksmith who promptly came used all of his tricks and might and repeatedly told me in broken English that my car was as tough to break into as a Lexus. That was cold comfort.

But at last he succeeded. It was only 7:29pm. Not that much time had even elapsed but the experience seemed like an eternity. And by that I don’t really mean time without end rather that sense of a time-suspended reality. Like being weightless out in space. Buzz Aldrin would relate.

But what time is it? Even when we don’t have a timepiece, aka cell phone in hand, we have an internal sense wired into us. So is it time, I ask you? Is it time to take the next step, write the next chapter, say hello to what’s next? I’m running out of time this early Tuesday morning so I must jump to the point. What are you waiting for? Pause and think about it . . . What could you move forward in your life today if you but “took” the time. What could you change or advance for someone else if you took the time?

Maybe it is. Maybe its time.

That Thing You Do

What are you good at and what do you specialize in—listening perhaps? You know, the kind that really hears what people are attempting to communicate? Do you possess the true ability to hear a heart between the lines of verbalized thoughts and feelings? Awesome!

Maybe you’re good with words. You write down thoughts that speak to others in deep ways. Your words stir people to do something they’ve been meaning to do or have dreamt of doing. Or maybe its the way you put words and thoughts together with any easy grace—one on one at a coffeehouse or in front of a packed house of hundreds. You have the Ted talk ability to speak focused truth and information to people. Fantastic!

How about being empathetic?Can you sense the masked emotions others experience then acknowledge them in ways that validate the person and guides them to some much needed resolution? Brilliant!

Maybe you don’t even realize that you possess the crystal clear focus and ability to prioritize in order to get a thing accomplished. You innately see the steps needed to get from point A to B then to the finish line of a thing. Way to bring it on home!

What if you took some intentional time to discover how that everyday extraordinary skill of yours, that thing you do; that thing that comes so naturally to you, can be focused for good? It wouldn’t take a silent retreat at a monastery in the redwoods necessarily but you’d have to put your phone down for a bit.

Do that thing you do. Not for money making purposes alone but for a purpose beyond your own gain. Its always come naturally to you so you may under value your ability. Don’t wait for someone else to manifest it when the gift has already been given to you. Do it. Then do it again. We often sit back and expect “them” to do what we have in our own heart—what we were born to do. You are where you are with the abilities that have developed in you. Look for an opportunity to do what you do . . . then DO IT.

Photo credit: Magnolia Silos

Waco, Texas

Teach

This was a first for me and at that I know I’m late to the veggie zoodle party. Spiralized butternut squash, sautéed in a little avocado oil, “finished” with fresh cracked pepper and a pinch of sea salt. This was simple, nutritious and pretty tasty and, scout’s honor, one particular strand of squash was a full three feet long.

You know how to measure three feet without a ruler, right? Its approximately the length from your nose to the end of your finger tip on your outstretched arm. There; if you didn’t already know that then Grandma Cary just taught you something too.

Honestly we each know so many useful things. There are volumes full of random methods, insights, home remedies, pet training tips, relationship strategies, industry specific knowledge inside us all. Share this! Some of us seem to be born teachers and naturally choose to help explain simple or complex things to someone who just doesn’t understand or doesn’t quite have the “know-how” yet but they want to. They want to do better; they just need the teacher to show up.

Maybe that’s you and me. You’ve learned so very much since the day you arrived. Your skill set might overlap mine here and there but you know stuff I don’t because of your unique experiences and mentors and classroom teachers and hard knocks and redemptive moments along the way.

There’s a whole lot of learning to be done from each other. It may come from a social media influencer or it may come from Grandma or it may come from you. Share what you know when its helpful to do so. Our lives aren’t meant to be simply encyclopedic containers for knowledge. Open the book and stay on the look-out for new opportunities to help others live better lives based on one small thing you know. Teach.

Swirling

A delicate little arachnid fell into a swirling flood in my master-bath tub enclosure yesterday. I saw her there in struggle mode as the water began to fill the tub. I attempted a rescue, trying to get this dainty creature to higher ground where she could get a foothold and catch her breath.

Success! A gentle spray of water allowed her to rest on a place in the tub that was slightly higher than the rushing waters, providing her a place on higher (porcelain) ground.

But it was too late. Still I hoped and continued to monitor her condition as I hurriedly got ready for work. Looking for any small sign of revival, perhaps even one of her eight spindly legs had repositioned or, best case scenario, she had recouped and slowly crept away. She just needed a bit of time to recover. “She’s going to make it,” my heart said.

But she had been in the wrong place at the wrong time. This delicate creature had done nothing foolish to endanger herself. For her it was just another day at the office until the human turned on the waterworks. She had been the faithful guardian there, keeping any vagrant ant from establishing a major thoroughfare. And never had she harmed me in any way.

Just a spider right? But I felt compelled to rescue a living thing that was struggling for its life.

Sadly we can’t always “right the ship” or save the day for someone who is struggling; who is drowning due to circumstance. But if it is in our power to do the least bit of good, after first putting on the airline oxygen mask ourselves, we must act in a helpful way or else pray in earnest for a heart of compassion to replace our negligent, uncaring or overly cautious one.

In regards to our fellow human beings it is a golden opportunity to transfer the powerful emotion of empathy and care to others.

This may mean that our own agenda goes briefly on hold but it may also mean that a soul finds rescue. They come in all shapes and sizes.

More

What he said . . .

Friday, Friday you’re f i n a l l y here. Wasn’t sure if you were going to make it and I really hoped you’d come.

Its been a seriously long, long week.

I was tired and I was thirsty so I found a friendly place to let it slip away. The atmosphere felt relaxed and the people were chill—just enough vibe to keep my heart beating. Someone there told me that a guy about my age, in his 30’s they said, did some crazy trick and turned a bottle of water into a fine Merlot. Nobody does that. Maybe he put some food coloring in? They said it tasted so darn good though.

Nobody walks into a place like this and tells me everything I’ve ever done—and that happened. Nobody takes the time to hear me out and let me talk; I don’t have the best stories you know. But he let me talk on and on and on. I don’t think there was anything left to say after that so I had another glass and then I listened.

The guy was like the brother you never had and the friend you always wanted. He wasn’t in a hurry and he bought the next round. So I guess not “like” the brother. He WAS the brother, father, friend.

Hey, Friday, I wish I could explain this so you’d understand. So you’d believe what I’m sayin is true. But all I know is this is real. This is what I didn’t know I needed and I’m going back.

For more.

Right Angle

For a good part of her career Jeane Maria Day was a map draftsman for the County. She stood at a drafting table with various implements related to her field and one of them was a right angle. Hers was of a study metal construction with a good amount of heft to it. It was but one of the tools of her trade in that day. A straight edge, a compass, these too were in her arsenal as she plotted out new streets and neighborhoods and shopping centers in the earlier days of Orange County.

Some angle of her work, her perspective really, had an influence on me and shaped how I now look at things. You see we all have an influence on the people and things around us. Just as much or more as we ourselves are influenced by those within our own spheres.

Speaking of angles though, we each have a unique one. Whether its our best one when being photographed or our standard one when expressing our opinion, we’ve got an angle. And it’ll involve our own motive, intention, and perspective—that angle of ours.

When I took this photo in my garden my untrained yet not uninfluenced eye sought out a perspective. Looking straight on presented a view of so much honeysuckle greenery that the distinction of any particular leaf was lost. Ahhhh, but getting lower to look upwards provided a blue sky canvas that set off the bit of flowering bougainvillea and the brownish red rose leaves that then became clearly defined.

I also tried looking downward on the same subject by placing myself above it on a step ladder. Hmmm, that was an entirely disappointing view. Funny how looking down at something (or someone) can produce varied perspectives as well. Where people, rather than rose leaves are concerned, looking down is best done with a perspective or lens, if you will, of compassion. Without it, looking downwards on others may easily produce the sadly unpleasant effect of contempt, inferiority, or distain. Funny how effortlessly we can assume that perspective. But work with me here on lowering yourself, positioning yourself lower.

Don’t be afraid of or concerned about going lower. Pause and think about what that means to your spirit when you have a moment to do so. Or race past this. Its your call.

Getting lower to look upwards, heavenwards even can be a very advantageous perspective after all. Perhaps the best right angle indeed.

A Way

Sometimes I just need an encouragement. I want some input from outside my own thinking that is either reassuring or informative or otherwise knowledgeable of where I’m at in a particular season . . . or moment.

Sometimes that has come from the knowing look of a friend or colleague. Sometimes simply a hand placed on my shoulder and the weight, pressure and duration of it alone conveys an understanding beyond verbal exchange.

Yet I love words and have a longtime and ongoing thing for old dictionaries. Several have reluctantly been donated to old book shops because there actually and truly can be too much of a good thing. And even though this is so, that I love words, I am coming to realize that all the words in the world, filling every dictionary ever compiled are useless if not used. They are a big heap of “so what” if they’re only leather bound and collected but not used to hone the skill of communicating to another. That what—things are going to be okay? That a challenge is up ahead? That there are nutritional protocols for what ails me and so on?

So when I’m minding my own business with one purpose in mind, which is merely to transport myself from home to office, a display of words interjects themselves into my morning commute state of mind.

A local truck owner made an intentional and bold statement for all to see. The words weren’t whispered and didn’t just slip out nonchalantly. Their size, spacing and preeminently their content were thoughtfully considered. It so impacted my morning to see a reassuring “word” right there on the 405 northbound. No audible voice spoke it. No podcast or cleverly written post or blog. Just the bold words:

God will make a way

In His time

Powerful. Thank you.

Out There

There was a noise outside that startled me. I HAD to investigate to see what was going on. And when I drew back the curtain there seemed to be nothing at all that was visible, just a whole lot of green and a whole lot of stillness. Maybe it was nothing more than the sudden move of a bunny in the bushes but my startled mind went in five different directions when my ears picked up the sound.

Snap! It . . . whatever “it “ was, wasn’t out there it was inside. And I don’t mean like a creepy horror movie where the crazy threatening call comes from inside the house. No, not going in that direction with this.

While my ears heard a sound—because that’s what they do when they’re on the job—my brain and all my life experiences up till now created the idea of damage of some sort just beyond the four walls of my house. But there was no axe murderer outside. No wrecking ball. No marauder to be found. No pterodactyl from a Jurassic Park movie that had escaped to run wild through the green belt. This was an inside job.

Movies I’ve seen, books I’ve read, campfire stories I’ve been told; this stuff inside my head can inform me, and incorrectly at times, that what I hear then perceive is something other than reality.

See, what we put inside our hearts and minds affect us more than we are willing to acknowledge. It’s like we are writing the manual by building upon a foundation of how we were raised, what our parents told us, what our elders told us, and now we’re layering in this other stuff.

Words for the day? Put in the good stuff. Put in what is true and right and whole. Hope does not spring forth from horror movies or empty romance novels or snarky animated TV shows. I’m not on a mission to put the kabosh on those forms of entertainment but would encourage you to put in more good stuff from which your ears and eyes and heart can draw truth from.

Whats out there . . . ?

I would ask, “What’s IN there?”

Broken

Once upon a time there was an ornamental piece of ironwork in a shop that captivated my eye and, I promise, begged me to purchase for display in my own home. There’s no perceivable purpose to it yet its appealing rosebud scrollwork is so pleasant to my eye it needs no additional purpose other than sheer delight. When it broke in half several years ago (oops) it’s newly developed twin was given to a dear friend who had similar decorative tastes.

Sometimes it’s hanging on the living room wall in a grouping. Sometimes it’s propped up in a small space near the stairway. Other times it doesn’t seem to fit in at all so out to the garage it goes. Then at some later point while I’m looking for something useful like a bit of hardware or hammer it catches my eye and is brought back into the fold.

In an age where we’re encouraged to find our passion and to live purpose-driven lives there’s an unfortunate assumption that “purpose” determines worth. Wouldn’t it be just grand to know that you were loved and valued for exactly who you are? Yeah, exactly. Even with some rust that developed from that extended time as a garden ornament. And then not being quite whole ever again after the break you suffered (knowing it just as well could have meant the end). Having a cob-webby film of dust from that stint of banishment—out of sight and unwanted in cold storage.

You are loved though. The craftsman that designed the scrolling Rose vine will always have a heart for his creation whether rusted or broken. You are his creation and loved to the end and beyond. Believe it. If you close your eyes you can still detect the fragrance of knowing, without a doubt, that you, Dear Rosebud, are loved.

YOU Are Here

Some people have a built in GPS and their unique global positioning system allows them to know where they are at any given time and location.

Not all of us were blessed with that ability. As a matter fact the first day that I started school as a little ol’ just-turned five-year-old I lost my way. Unlike any other mother in our neighborhood our mom had a career and therefore employed housekeepers to manage us three girls until we were old enough to transition into latchkey kids. On that first day of school she drove me the three blocks (if that) to Wilson Elementary. But that first day I walked home alone after school and got lost. None of the houses looked familiar in the very neighborhood where I grew up. I walked alone and wondered if I would ever find my way. I didn’t cry. I was a brave little lost soldier, too overwhelmed for that. Eventually, and seemingly out of nowhere, a very tall girl, probably only in junior high herself, came to my rescue. She walked along with me and helped me to focus attention on looking at each house asking, “is this one yours?“ I was lost in the weeds, literally looking at each shrub and lawn and hedge for something familiar. When at last I saw “home” I bolted across the street and straight through that front door as if on a bullet train suddenly thrust into warp speed. I never looked back to thank my savior and I never saw her again.

Curiously (hmmm) I’ve had a poor sense of direction for most of my adult life until a couple years ago. I can see now from my current adultish vantage point that I had no confidence in my ability to find my way anywhere if I could not find my home from three blocks away.

Today I adore a sign in a public place that proclaims, “YOU ARE HERE.” Thats a comfort to me. Directions are important when we’ve lost our way. We mostly prefer to go it alone, out of pride perhaps, but every once in a while, when we’re really truly lost, we must take the hand of that angel that has been sent to guide us home.