Pam Prather on Patchwork highway Kristen Torres-Toro on Patchwork highway allielousch on Patchwork highway Kristen Torres-Toro on Patchwork highway Terry Lynn on Patchwork highway
Thank you for sticking with me as this blog of searching moves into celebrating Everyday DerringDo. We are headed out in a new and good direction.
Would love to have you join the ride at Everyday DerringDo.
Start with this blog about “Independence: learning to love America living abroad” and feel free to browse the handful of other writings already populating my new bloggy home. You’ll find a “follow” button and a few other ways to join the adventure. You’ll also find my instagram feed up and running in the margin.
Your insight matters and I’d love to hear what you think. See you on the other side.
If you’re wondering, “derring-do” means “bravery, courage, heroism” and sounded so much more literary than “Everyday Cajones.”
Last night, Madi and I bounced along a cobbley mix of dirt and gravel; brick boulevards, pristine asphalt, and county roads who’s use-by dates were probably 20 years ago. Asphalt patches, concrete stop-gaps, and -in many places – a milled overlay created a crazy quilt of a way ahead.
This way-season-recovery has been – as your way has, too – marked by pot holes, snakes in the road (swerved around last night’s snake), dumb bunnies who will not decide whether to zig or zag nor will they exit the roadway; beautiful scenery, storm-tossed branches, good company, and a bit of getting lost.
For a while in our traveling-by-car, it seemed that Google Maps was playing a cruel joke on us as we drove further away from known pathways and deeper into tall grass.
Just like life.
And in life, we need to trust something – Google, the map, training, intuition, the gas gauge, or whatever proves most reliable.
Every day we travel new roads.
Each breath inhales a new world.
We must trust something.
I have begun to trust nothing.
Cosmology, intuition, prior-learning, senses…I’ve quit trusting.
It’s on me to find out what is “out there” and “in here.”
Thank you for joining me on this leg of the journey.
Thank you for your patience, interest, and kindness.
Thank you for bearing me up when the truth about terrible things leaves us both feeling battered, wounded, humiliated, and at a loss.
I’ve become that storm-tossed human and the only difference in now and before-as-a-seeker-of-divine-mystery, is I’m admitting that I am journeying without a clue as to life.
If you must do something to advance your spiritual understanding or absence thereof, please do. But I need no more voices and messages in the shadows.
These well-intended “let me just tell you what’s what” are millstones around my neck.
Right now, I am writing my last offering in this blog, Searching for the North Star and Signs of Life.
My plan – developed over months of avoiding quiet with lesser things – became clear the day after my son graduated from college and I rambled alone in such quiet county where stillness became deafening.
With most of the people I love nearby, I let that quiet rouse me from a stupor and a willingness to squeak by – believing that I am only just filler.
Have you ever felt this?
Not quite a rousing from slumber, but the memory of the first moment of waking.
I have no idea what I’m going to do only that I will find that stillness again and again and again and listen. Take notes. Ask questions. Read. Stretch. Child’s pose. Study. Ask for help. Make more mistakes. Eat more chocolate. Laugh until the peppermint mocha coffee makes itself an impromptu neti pot. More stillness. More notes.
No one can do this for me. This finding my way, escaping the meanness of my memory on my soul, learning to tee myself up to meet new people, and love the “old people” as best as I can.
Our time on earth is so very brief; a whisper.
I need a bit of quiet to make sure mine does not become a whimper.
I would love to hear from you. Please connect with me if you’d like a postcard or to write back and forth (I’m on LinkedIn). I reserve the right to guard my heart. You do, too.
My facebook and twitter accounts will remain active (in part for work). My instagram account will, too, because pictures inspire. Rarely in my curated Instagram account, do I feel envy or humiliated. Quite honestly, being so forthcoming about this first 40+ years has been terrifying and humiliating. It drives home what makes me feel odd, alone, and bumbly.
I need to discover again…for once what makes me Allie.
I’ll be fine and hopefully-better as I take on the back roads and patchwork highway in quiet. I may see you at the Library, running/walking, swimming, cycling, kayaking, climbing fences, at Auntie Maes to see Jeff & Jo, about and around.
We do have time for adventures. And listening. And camping. And crisping brats on a fire as the stars sing their night melody.
Last night, I sat under the stars with a favorite friend, one of the “Queens”, and soaked up the sweetness of her buzzing splashing fragrant garden.
I also soaked up a glass of wine and gobs of laughter and life. So very good.
Saturday had been devoted to knocking out spring cleaning. It was gratifying to have finished the window and floor-washing weekend including a short Pho break with Katie and the kids.
This morning of lounging late under the covers as the sun and prisms drew colors on my walls was well-planned and anticipated. Lounging. Coffee consuming. Reading. The fruits of a good weekend’s work.
Foolishly, I checked the news between starting the coffee and crawling back into the nest of pillows and covers.
Hellooo cold clamminess.
Was it the FIFA scandal? War? Greed? Revelations that a shiny public family was complicit in withholding appropriate truth-telling and care about sexual abuse? Yeah. It was probably that.
I ended up numb. Trembling. What do you do when numb and trembly? Google answers!
I googled “rape church silence why”.
Rape. Church. Silence. Why.
It could have easily have been “rape community silence why” or replace “school” and “regiment” for “church”.
Again, I read how backwaters of people from various religious faiths (and people without religious conviction) don’t see rape as a big deal or marital rape as an issue. I wonder how many of these people would race for their AK-47 to protect their property, but stay silent on protecting their PEOPLE.
Yep. I’m talking to you.
My coffee got cold.
My heart got hard again.
My jawline set and even under the sun-dappled covers, my posture was protective, alert.
I wrote a private wondering – another hidden document where I can just barf out all of the hurt without hurting others -innocents. It included this:
Why dad? (he was not the perp)
Why were your hopes and reputation more important than my…than our lives and well-being?
After all of the hard long-years work of forgiveness and ongoing work of healing and discovering a new normal, this stuff still hurts.
It hurts us – not just the torn and bloodied, but the community in which it happens.
Fortunately…fortuitously I stumbled across a rare wisdom grown in faith; one of the few truly transparent, un-bullying, unafraid, unapologetic, cut-to-the-core with reality and addressing-it voices in Boz Tchividjian (one of Billy Graham’s grandkids). He is the founder and executive director of GRACE (Godly Response to Abuse in the Christian Environment).
He doesn’t ask what we were wearing, whether we were pre-pubescent seductresses/seducers, or if the truth will make the faith look bad.
In “Righteous reputations of churches that don’t care“, he expresses a sincere concern for the bloodied – both the victim and the community – and offers insight into how the church can do better (abandon wishful thinking perhaps). Nor does he bash the perp, but he does call out some of their greatest dodges in “A grand deception: the successful response of sex offenders“.
I haven’t cried. Yet.
Frankly, I’m a little angry that this monster finds new ways to visit.
Who doesn’t want to be “normal” shiny and effervescent…wanted?
I am not a woman who enjoys making people uncomfortable.
But, folks, we need to get uncomfortable.
Our comfort allows us too much wishful thinking.
Our comfort shields us from the fractured blown up bodies and lives of people living in personal or public wars.
The hungry are easy to un-notice.
The mentally ill are too easy to flee and ignore.
Unlike the man in the video above, you don’t have to know the pain to help heal it.
Our assumptions and judgments
our closing of the ranks
our worry of what others will think
and potential exposure…
They are small things compared to the people who are left
abandoned in the sewers of human brutality
often shiny and “respectable”
popular and warm-fuzzy-giving
money and favor-donating environments
just as in poor
of war and hungering nations
To turn away is wishful thinking.
And it is killing our most vulnerable members
it is killing us.
What can you do?
What can we do in this short life that can feel like a personal eternal hell for the abused?
I don’t know.
Start somewhere. Google it.
This morning I tackled a small…mound of dishes and felt it.
Yesterday, while sorting out my banking and budget, while working, and listening – I felt it.
It is the too familiar:
not good enough
you’re a jerk
how could you
no wonder you’re alone
you’re so stupid…
I caught myself tipping over the edge of that spiral…just in time.
A little back story
My brain works at mach 10 and sometimes lacks a filter. Fortunately, years of living among kind humans has helped to teach me to slow down a bit before I say or do something. This has been working well for years until I feel stressed.
Aparently, I live in such a soup of stress that I don’t recognize it anymore.
I learned this while at the doctor’s yesterday when she explained that all of my recent physical quirks were related to stress and not old age or the likelihood that I’ll stroke out any day now. Stress. What stress?
Early life fostered a long-battled and shame-germinating PTSD. As a pre-teen, I had ulcers and a well-developed sense that I had to be perfect or else. As a young wife and mum, I believed that it was all my fault – I’d been raised that way so it was convenient. After so much heart-filled attempts and hopes and hard work to find myself in a starter-life, the question begs to be asked. Why? And always, it is happy to fill in the answers.
If they knew you like I do, they’d hate you, too.
You’re so smart you’re an idiot.
Even as I stopped eating after Pat died, I was too curvy and wearing even the highest collar and stark clothes were viewed as immodest (some things, folks, cannot be helped.) I learned to wear black and – socially – park in the shade.
Always…always, always was the thought that “if only I’d _________” or “I’m so stupid to have…” This is not uncommon, especially among kids who grew up with terrible secrets.
What does this have to do with this morning’s dishes?
Rain had cancelled our run, the covers had been cozy, and I’d tried to listen quietly to the inner and outer workings of the day. I’d also promised myself that the dishes would be done before I left for work. In my tiny micro-kitchen, resourcefulness is part of each recipe and process. Things take longer than they would in a larger kitchen (like in a camper). Lost in my thoughts, I rushed.
Things fell out of the balance.
They fell and crashed.
They made big noises. Noises that shattered quiet and made my little heart pound in my ears.
Suddenly, I caught sight of my thoughts leaning too close to the edge of those hateful things I learned to tell myself.
And I stopped them.
Slow down, Al.
This is just dishes, not the Versailles treaty.
I finally understood.
As kale bits swirled in the squash soup dish
and time kept jogging towards 8 am
Stress is the miasma in which I live, move, and have my being.
Even in the quieter life that I now live.
Good stress: kids, celebrations, sunny days, kayaking with M3, Monday night meals, and a chance to run with my best friend.
Destructive stress: fear, procrastination, more fear, harm, not knowing, remembering, holding on, letting go, demanding damning people who forfeit their place in my life, unforgiveness, deceitfulness, feudal battles…loss-of-faith, shame, loneliness, fear again.
I can do something about this.
We can do something about this – our over-busy under-fulfilling discomforting lives.
One decision, one moment, one thought or action rescued from the brink of harm at a time.
Today, I am listening to my favorite mellow Carbon Leaf. This morning, it was the Wailin’ Jennys.
I will do work and do my best.
I will remind myself that there is no need to be perfect.
There is a need to fling arms wide open
a heart posture of openness
and inviting good company.
I’m not sure I’d recognize all of that good stuff, but I am willing to try.
Fling some of that kindness and joy around in bumbling honesty.
Drink more coffee in good company.
Invite people out
even if the dishes are an Andean peak in the sink and I’ve got to kick my running clothes out of view.
Slow down and keep searching for signs of life.
Sometimes I read the news and think, “Way to go Humanity!”
Other times I think, “this is not news; this is crap…Kardashian who?” (I’m talking to you, CNN.)
Too often after scrolling sites attempting to seriously report “news,” my heart squinches and all I have to offer is, “oh my soul.”
A 102- year-old PhD candidate finally earns the degree she deserved and was denied 70+ years ago because of her Jewish heritage…#WaytoGoHumanity.
Anything about “ugly” spouses, anti-vaxing, Gov. Brownback as a hero, secrets to win your stalky love back/lose toe fat/win a million Reeses, etc…#GetaGrip.
Revelations about children molested, people dismissed for race, gender, or questioning; my beloved adopted home-state engaging in #AssHolierThanThouNess…oh my soul.
Typically after reading any news, my thoughts loop back to something like: “what can I do?” and “how can I encourage/celebrate?” (or “oh sheesh”). I don’t often know for sure what I can do, but I’m willing to bumble about and try.
I do know this: Joy deserves to be shared. Let’s fling that stuff around like confetti.
Pain. We have a responsibility to do what we can to help people grow and live when it is in our ability to do so. Why else are we alive?
We start with our families, friends, and extend to community and strangers. It’s what we would hope for if we or our loved ones were in pain or on the side of the highway with a flat tire.
And it doesn’t mean “fixing” people or dying at the stake. I’ve witnessed profound change as people who excel in small oft-hidden kindnesses commence to love, offer grace, and quietly serve.
We all know of people who have gone before us who bore the brunt of scorn and pain towards social or familial healing. They faced the hard and terrifying task of bucking the status quo and daring to hope and work for something different.
John Brown was not someone I’d want as a neighbor, but he was part of a long something that eventually became a promise of freedom to many – a freedom not yet fully realized.
You know…people are still dying and sacrificing for the greater good, their families, beliefs, and strangers. Today. Dying. For strangers.
In a culture where our news is so curated that we can pretend only the people with whom we agree are “making news” and doing good, we owe it to ourselves and the folks who come behind us to get uncomfortable. We can get to know people and the thoughts behind our dissenting ideas. We can remember that the people behind the policies are still people – even if they have maligned survivors, promoted perpetrators, and further marginalized the poor.
Sometimes – if we pay attention and search beyond our circled wagons – we learn something good and world-changing.
Our world can change and that’s a trickle-down theory I can believe in.
How about flinging a bit of joy with me?
Let’s celebrate good in our interactions both tangible and virtual with a #WaytoGoHumanity or whatever is your thing. Let’s keep trying to trickle-down truth and kindness; authenticity, respect, and community.
It’s a shot worth taking.
So much good has transpired over the past few weeks; the good of framily, celebration, graduation, adulting, and spring. Life.
- Kenan graduated as 2nd Lieutenant Lousch with so many successes of his own making
- Madi and her pal, Autumn, and Izzy the giant wonderdog drove up to scout M & Zach’s wedding venues in Manhappiness. It became an opportunity to explore a childhood hometown as a forward-moving adult.
- Favorite K-State graduation moment: Katie’s hug with the Provost during grad school commencement; 2nd favorite was Nancy Kassebaum-Baker’s speech
- Celebrated with Katie, Dave, and the kids at the Little Apple Brewing Company
- Chapman Center interns and staff graduations
- sun after monsoons
- time around tables, firepits, and cabins
- road trip conversations for fun and work
- sneak peeks of a well-curated vintage photo/cinematography collection
- and so much more
It’s been lovely.
Sleep has been more than elusive.
This morning, I flopped from bed feeling like a woman who both is about to give birth to triplets and has just completed finals week after a make-it-or-break-it semester. Guaranteed, neither are true.
Work has been busy, purposeful, and rewarding.
As Katie and I rounded mile three in our morning jaunt, my brain was so tired, that it felt as if my arms and legs were still asleep or adrift. I’ve felt this way before – usually at mile 11 of 13.1 miles in Oklahoma City or Kansas City races.
Yesterday, I’d even scared myself while driving – too tired to think through a green light.
Thank goodness, I’ve not been responsible for operating chainsaws or large construction equipment.
I had to call today off. The only potential benefit to my attempting work would be the purveyors of Reeses and peanut butter m&ms…and perhaps coffee as I likely would have cemented their quarterly gains in just one day.
Thankfully, my employer was understanding.
And yet, I freaked out a little bit as I re-closed shades, curtains, and doors to make my room very still and dark.
Am I so geriatric that I cannot handle going mach-10 with my hair on fire for a few weeks?
Why am I craving protein?
Have I just created my career kiss-of-death with people I respect?
Nope, I’m not geriatric.
I am looking for a second-stage career; an intersection of talent, experience, and interest with the needs of a world worth serving. And I keep remembering the 73-year-old Mr. Anderson who we’d meet queuing up before local triathlons. He is my hero; paunchy and out for a Sunday swim, bike, and trot in the hills. That sort of goal-pursuit: it’s still in me…somewhere closer to the surface.
It turns out, that I may have well-intendedly nudged myself into an iron-deficiency. I’ve got more work to do on researching this, but it seems to be on point. Good news, last night it was steaks on the BBQ with pals. Protein deficiency would explain recent persistent leg cramps, sleeplessness (unrelated to any other cause), and a snacky craving for nuts and peanut butter. Note to self: a burger a week is good medicine.
As for the kiss-of-death fears: unfounded, I think. Despite lethargy, it has been a very productive few weeks with many projects wrapping up. I’m excited to tie up a few more this week before the three-day weekend.
So how does sleep-deprivation possibly signal “life”?
It causes me to examine the rhythms of the season.
I can look back and see how rich these weeks have been in such good company
Katie asked me this morning whether I might be bumping up against an “anniversary”-the kind that sneaks in the night and scares the bejeesus out of me – and it was not something I’d considered. I DID NOT CONSIDER THE PAST in the present discomfort and could confidently say that no infamous lurking memory was keeping sleep at bay. None. Diddley. (not-so-small victory!)
Since K’s graduation, I have enjoyed complete confidence and no longer worry about he and Madi. They have this adulting thing down and are good stewards of their lives. They’ve begun and finished so much and are launching grand adventures even today. They are always present in my heart-thoughts, but I am not afraid.
I’ve daydreamed about doing a modified StoryCorps-type adventure on Amtrak; inviting rail passengers across the country to tell their stories then posting them online as an ongoing modern riding-the-rail narrative. I can sort all this out in two years while helping position the Chapman Center for another decade-plus of undergraduate research.
I recognize a growing discomfort – one that I am unwilling to hammer down and “fix” or grow numbly accustomed to (forgive that sentence, please). It is the discomfort that launches research, strategy, and action.
- I long to travel. It’s on me.
- Graduate studies keep calling me, but what? Finding out the “what” is on me.
- Uncovering my unafraid heart in ways that may startle folks (hello high heels!) and create space for new learning and people in my life. Mine to do.
Who knew that such a hitting-the-wall morning could bring such peace?
Though no answers came during the sleeplessness, the discomfort has led to this day of sleeping, thoughtfulness in self-imposed twilight, and taking the risk of making a career mistake.
Hopefully, both the Center and I will realize so much benefit to a day recovering sleep.
Celebrating signs of life.