Sunday, December 20, 2015

Four days and counting!

Four days and counting!

Surely by now everyone has received at least ten of these types of emails advertisements this season, right?   Only ten days left!  Hurry in!  You might miss out on something incredible!  What are you waiting for?  Hurry!  Hurry!  Hurry!  Only eight days left!  Are you stupid?  Where are you?  HURRY!  You’re going to miss it!

If you’re anything like me, by the time you get done reading an ad like the one above, your heart’s racing and you feel a building anxiety over the fact you might just miss something if you don’t indeed hurry.  Even if all was well in your world before you even knew that ad existed.  Even if you had things well in hand this holiday season, the ad most likely did its job.  Have you ever noticed how marketers play on emotions that sit way too close to the surface for many of us?  They unsettle you (Am I ready?).  They place doubt (Did I get the best deal?).  They might even play on fear (Is what I’ve done good enough?). 

I’m the first to admit I can easily get caught up in this hurry frenzy.  As the baby of five kids, I never wanted to miss out on anything growing up and I can proudly say in just over forty years, nothing’s changed.  I still hate missing out.  I’m the first one up on Black Friday and I’ve even been known to follow a certain big brown truck to a nearby game store on release day for a kiddo I happen to adore.  I can hear you laughing but don’t judge me.  My guess is you’ve probably done this same type of thing, especially if you have children.  Whether it happens to you during the holidays or at some other time of year, like a birthday or special occasion, it doesn’t matter.  Even though my kiddo is older now, I can still hear his pleas from past holidays ringing in my ears.  But mom, you have to hurry!  They open at 4am on Saturday but you only have an hour.  If you aren’t one of the first three in line, they’ll sell out and I’ll be the only kid without a copy of the game!  It’s a boatload of pressure, I’ll tell you.  Yet there I went, running around town in a constant panic, wondering if I was going fast enough, afraid I’d miss out.

The morning I shared the details of the delivery man stalking incident to a good friend over coffee was right about the time I had the good sense to hit the pause button and insert a little sanity check into my life.  I heard the words coming out of my mouth, my confession if you will, but honestly, I couldn’t believe what I was saying.  I did what?  Why?  And then it hit me.

There’s a truth out there advertisers don’t want us to know.  Save for one or two new electronic items you might not even want or need, there’s nothing new this season that you’re going to miss is if don’t hurry.  While it’s true you might save a few dollars here and there, research indicates that stores only deeply discount a small handful of items banking on the hope you’ll fill your cart with other regularly priced merchandise while waiting in line to grab one of only five Hero Princess figurines being sold in the next ten minutes for fifty cents.  They’re counting on your trip to snag Hero Princess for under a buck costing you closer to a hundred dollars before you leave their fine establishment.

Whether you’ll be spending a quiet evening curled up with a good book this Christmas or circulating a room filled with family and friends, my guess is what you most need to hear you won’t find in any advertisement set to hit your inbox in the coming days.  Friends, you don’t need to hurry.  In fact, if you can find a few hours, let yourself rest and try hard not to feel guilty about it.  Remind yourself that most likely, you’re ready.  And if you’re not, force yourself to make a sane to do list you actually have a shot at accomplishing rather than a manifesto that will leave you feeling inadequate when you fall short.  Trust that you got the best deal.  If you learn that Hero Princess is going to be on sale for a quarter for five minutes on Christmas Eve, say a prayer for the sucker that’s going to be standing in line rather than diving for your wallet and coat.

Is what you’ve done good enough?  I bet it is.  If you share your heart with someone this Christmas, if you reach out and make vulnerable a bit of yourself you otherwise keep guarded, you’ll ace Christmas 2015.  And if you don’t find yourself chasing a delivery truck?  That’s some serious extra credit.

Friday, December 4, 2015

Oh Christmas Tree...

“So someone asked about our Christmas tree and I said which one?’  The kiddo stated this morning on the drive in to school.
“Right,” I agreed.  “We have several.”
“Mom, we have twelve!”  The kiddo corrected me.
“Are you sure, I thought it was like five or six,” I countered, truly unsure of the actual number given several are seasonal/themed trees that stay up year round.
“Trust me, there are twelve.  I recounted as soon as you got done decorating last week.  You should know by now these are the kind of details that hit my radar.” 
Of course they are, I thought to myself.  After all, he’s the reason I have twelve trees. 

When he was little, the kiddo was afraid of dark spaces, particularly the shadowy corners of rooms.  This was before we realized he would be diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome a short year later, back in the days when we offered patented phrases like oh well, that’s just the way it is if there was something he didn’t like or understand.  That same year when I was taking down our Christmas decorations, I was on the last small tree when he commented that while he liked our big tree best, the smaller trees I put up throughout the house helped light up the corners.  Several days later it dawned on me, I usually put our smaller trees in dark corners because that’s where I have space.

So this morning I smiled and watched in the rearview mirror as the kiddo finished his statement and grinned at me before taking a sip of his coffee.  I’m in awe of the young man my son is becoming—my actually fourteen, looks likes he’s eighteen, forever stuck at four in my heart little boy.  Every tree in this house is for him.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

As for me...

If you can see this post because we're Facebook “friends,” it means I know you in a way that connects us enough that I don’t mind sharing parts of my life with you. It means I don't have a problem explaining to my husband who you are or why we’re friends. It means I don’t mind telling my son why you’re on my Facebook feed. It means I don’t care if my parents see what’s posted here. If I care about you enough to read what's going on in your life when you post, it’s safe to say I care enough about you to pray for you. So I want to tell you what I did for you today but I need you to know straight off it really has nothing to do with me and everything to do with what I believe.

Today we hit our knees at church and we prayed for a world in need of hope. Of peace. Of a Savior. We prayed for a local family whose lives were torn apart and we prayed for a government of leaders that have rendered themselves useless in their attempt be politically correct. When time grew quiet and we had a few minutes to pray over our own concerns, I want you to know you crossed my mind. I know you're struggling with aches and pains and some days it’s hard to get out of bed. I know you're struggling with your finances. I know you're struggling with your grown child battling addiction. I know infidelity has ripped your marriage apart and you don’t know what’s coming next. I know you're struggling with a new business venture. I know you’re wondering where you fit in at your current job. I know you're worrying about the coming empty nest as your child decides on a college. I know you feel the anxiety that comes with your high schooler starting a new trimester. I know you’re battling life-changing illness. I know you're exhausted working three jobs. I know you're wondering how you're going to put a Thanksgiving meal on the table then turn around in less than a month and pull off Christmas. I know you’re disappointed at the report card your child recently handed you. I know you’re trying to fit in at school. I know you're struggling with a family member that you’re not sure you want at the table this holiday season. I know you're struggling with your weight and self-image. I know you’re worried about your child’s diagnosis and that upcoming IEP. I know the situation with the move across country is extremely exciting and equally terrifying. I know you’re worried about being rejected by someone you want to like you as much as you like them. I know you have bills you can’t pay. I know you're struggling with pending retirement and downsizing. I know you worry if putting your mom in a memory care facility was the right choice. I know you're struggling to understand what's going on in the world and you’re worried your little corner might be next on a terrorist’s checklist. I know you don’t have health insurance although you’re sick, again. I know someone close to you betrayed you.

I believe we live in a broken, fallen world and as such, I believe the promise wasn’t that life would be Heaven on earth. I believe that hurting people hurt people and we stand in the paths of the broken everyday. I believe the Devil is alive and well and he has one end game in mind for us, to kill, steal and destroy.  But I also know that my Redeemer lives and in the end he will stand upon this earth (Job 19:25). 

So whether you believe in what I believe in or not, whether you pray or not, whether you think it's all just bogus or not, know that I believe enough for both of us.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Joy in the dust...

When I need to chew on a particular problem in my life, I often find I end up cleaning.  While my close friends will tell you that I clean all the time—don’t listen to them.  They’re lying!  No, really.  Contrary to popular belief, I don’t clean all the time.  In fact, my husband and son often complain I don’t clean enough.  Which brings me to today and the current problem on my mind, thus my latest round of obsessive thinking aka cleaning.

I have an antique bookcase that sits atop my desk and every time I dust it, I wonder why in the world I bought the old thing.  Why did I spend hours lovingly restoring something that gets so dusty in what seems like only a matter of days?   It’s that very question that brings me back to the problem at hand.

One of several bookcases in my studio.
In case you didn’t know, I’m a type A personality, a real “all the way A” as my dear husband likes to remind me.  And while many of the character traits of A’s are a very good thing, the easiest way to topple us isn’t to yell or move a deadline or double book us.  Ha!  We A’s can handle that.  Disable our Wi-Fi or hide our phone and we get a bit more upset, but trust me, we rebound fast.  In my experience, we A’s get our knees knocked out from under us when we find our lives out of balance.  We like the world just so and have a strong sense of order, we A’s; a trait not unlike our analytic brother’s in arms that find themselves on the other end of many a personality test scale. 

So when I say I’ve taken to calling 2015 the year without balance, you can probably understand my angst.  I pride myself on doing the things I undertake well so I’ll be the first to admit when issues arise within my finely honed system, I don’t respond with any amount of grace.  None.  But I’ll also be the first to admit that after forty five years of life on this planet, I think I’ve finally started to realize I don’t need to be doing everything I currently find myself doing.  It’s an A thing, you see.  We rarely say NO.  In my case, I usually pride myself on seeing just how much I can juggle.  But I can assure you this isn’t always the wisest plan.  And I can assure you juggling comes at a cost.

I've been locked in my juggler mentality throughout spring and summer.  It wasn’t until I started pulling out my fall decorations (of which I have five Rubbermaid containers full!), that I scanned the landscape of my life and looked at everything I was juggling and realized where I was coming up short.  The more I cleaned around the house, switching out summer items for fall favorites, the more I reflected on what’s been a hectic and stressful year.  Then a revelation washed over me.  I really don’t like juggling.  In fact, as of late I feel most at peace NOT tossing five plates into the air and seeing how fast they can turn.  Truth is, I never set out to become a world-class juggler.

For me fall is a time of renewal and new beginnings.  While some folks enjoy a good spring-cleaning, a fall cleaning energizes me.  This year the purge included tidying extraneous responsibilities and trimming my ever-growing to-do list.  Seriously, some of the stuff I have written in blood so to speak really just isn’t that important.  I have books to write and new ventures to launch and antiques to refinish.  I have a family I adore and I’m grateful I’ve finally realized they’re far too precious to juggle.  I have friends I cherish and I’ve realized they aren’t for tossing about, either.  At best, I think I’m in for juggling as a hobby.  Besides, I have a bookcase to dust.

Friday, October 2, 2015

She was that cool...

It’s hard to believe that seven years ago today we lost my stepsister, Virginia.  

Virginia and the kiddo
I’ve always hated that word, step, because in our case it didn’t do our relationship any amount of justice.  There were no steps between us.  We were close, each babies of our nuclear families, and we figured out pretty quickly we were better working together than apart.  She was the one who never met a stranger and I was the wild child.  To say we were quite a duo when we set off in her flame orange, vintage Firebird to wreck havoc on the city is an understatement.  

Although I questioned her taste in music (KISS), we often compromised (Quiet Riot) and had some of the best times I can remember just driving around, hanging out.  How very cool it was to be her kid sister.  

We broke a lot of rules back then but she always managed to keep us out of trouble.  She was just that cool.  Virginia lived with passion and loved her kids, her family and her friends with all of her heart.  

She was priceless to us and will never be forgotten.

Christmas day, 2007

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Perspective is Perception

It's always an honor to have Denisea Kampe visit and while it's only Tuesday, she can attest to what a week it's been.  Take a look at her take on perspective...

According to several hard copy and online versions of the dictionary, perspective is the way you regard something, your point of view, and or how things around you interact in relation to each other. Your perspective on something may vary greatly from another who may be standing in the same room you are yet see what you see through a completely different set of eyes. Many things can affect one’s perception. Faith, economic situation, environment one was raised, human interaction, social media, friendships, political affiliation, and more can all have some bearing on how someone perceives the world, the people in that world, and the events taking place in that world.
In other words, perspective actually is in and of itself a matter of perception.
Perspective is also fluid and ever changing. How you perceive something when you’re in the womb is different at age six is different at twelve, twenty, and forty. In the womb, science will attest to us hearing our mother’s heartbeat and taking comfort in that constant sound; reminder we are not alone. We hear the muffled voices of those around us and begin to recognize them before we’ve even met the faces which match those sounds. At six years old you know all the voices as they gather around your grandmother’s dining table which looks like something you’ve read about in Jack and the Beanstalk. It’s tall and broad and when you sit in your regular Sunday seat (a keg stool constructed by your grandfather and made comfortable with a handmade pillow stitched by your grandma); your feet dangle a few inches off the floor. Your chin barely clears the edge of it. The plates look more like platters and you have to grasp the tumbler holding your fruit punch with both hands, and even then you’re a bit shaky getting the sweet liquid to your lips.
At age twelve, your feet now touch the floor, you can see over the edge of the table and you begin to listen to the grown-up conversations around you. What you see and hear is of little interest to you. You’d rather be having pizza with your friends and who gives a rat’s butt who wins the Republican nomination when you think you’re probably a Democrat anyway.
Here you are twenty. You’ve given up the notion you’re a Democrat and try to defend your Republican views to your union dues paying family to no avail. You think they’re arrogant and condescending and they believe you’re a smarty-tail without a brain. You’re pregnant and no one even knows it yet, and Grandma’s chicken and dumplings have never tasted better. You remember thinking, I should be an adult. I’m old enough. I’m going to be a mom. But I’m not yet, am I? I’m still six years old at this table.
At age forty-five, you see that table for the last time. Only now, it’s not the dining room table. It was long ago replaced with a new solid wood one. The Formica table you grew up eating from has been transformed into a kitchen work surface with storage built beneath it.  The newer wood table is dusty, draped in one of the many felt-backed, plastic cloths Grandma has been gifted over the years as she loved those things and when folks had no idea what to gift her for any special occasion, a new one was produced. Sometimes there was more than one under the Christmas tree.
Notes scatter its surface; hand-jotted, sometimes not legible, definitely not the elegant scrawl you remember from forty years prior. There are a few “flyers” lying about, the weekly advertisements from the local markets. Sticky residue coats the few empty spaces of plastic table covering and an ancient set of salt and pepper shakers.
There are no plates, no tumblers, no pot of chicken and dumplings, no adult conversations being mostly ignored by six year old ears. Only quiet. And cleaning that needs done but reluctance of reality makes that slower than anyone would like, yet quicker than everyone is ready for.
From conception to birth to years of growth to death; perspective follows us. It grows with us, it changes with us, it challenges us, it transforms us, and it comes full circle. This past year my perspective has changed and grown, more than once.  It’s changed concerning my career, my life, and in what’s important. It’s been changed by life and death, my faith, and the people around me. And I have discovered, perspective’s fluidity knows no bounds.
It changed again today, when I awoke to discover my blog had been suspended and closed for reasons that have yet to be explained by the hosting platform. I expected some degree of blow back because anyone setting out on a journey that involves very publicly talking about their faith is bound to receive that, and talking about my faith was a big part of what the blog was supposed to support. What I didn’t expect was a complete shutdown and in less than ten days of opening. The realization of what this journey entails just got a little more real and my perspective changed from expecting blow back to expecting brick walls, and the determination to go over, under, or around grew alongside that perspective.
Thank you from the bottom of my heart, BethAnn, for deciding to step out on the shaky limb I’m clinging to in this endeavor and offering me a feature here in your space within hours of this little discovery. You are much appreciated and loved. And thanks to your readers for giving my post a little peek-see. Pray for me, folks, the fight has just begun…
We’re all in this boat called life, broken and striving for that perfection…grab a paddle!

Denisea Kampe