Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Worry: The Misuse of Imagination

I thought of this old post this morning so I thought I'd repost it here...

For years our back door had been its original, boring grey metal color. Not only that, but rust was growing along its panel edges, even though we have a clear glass storm door, too. And to top it off, there were a handful of little tar splatters from the time we had our driveway resurfaced.

It's weird how we learn to live with things like that, especially important things like doors where people get the first impressions of our homes. And it's especially bad when you consider that where I live, all our neighbors, delivery people, friends and relatives use the back door. You could nail your front door shut and no one outside your family would even care.

Well, finally last week I painted our back door a terrific medium-dark country-blue. Not only that, but I stenciled a white bow with a little heart in its center, then beneath that, I stenciled the word, 'Imagine.'

What an improvement!

With the whirlwind of activity around here I got to thinking about how worry is a misuse of my imagination. If I am worrying, then I'm imagining that something negative will happen. I am using my imagination to picture a bad outcome and then dwelling on what I see happening in my mind.

I'd much rather use my imagination for purposes God intended, like, picturing ways I can help others or ways I can decorate my home. Or ways I can stretch our money and live on less or how I can lose weight, arrange my garden or get more done in my day.

But I do not want to use my imagination as a canvas for worry. When I look at that word, 'Imagine,' on my back door, I want to use it as a signal to ponder the good which is ahead of me. I want our visitors to ponder that, too.


Worry ruins what could have been a perfectly marvelous day.

Monday, February 25, 2008

I live in four rooms. Well, there's a laundry closet, too, so technically that may mean four-and-a-half. But either way, this is one tiny place.

And yet, you know? Most days this apartment feels like oodles of enough space for Tom and me. When he's in the living room watching tv or he's on the computer (or both. A mirror hangs over the computer table so he can view the tv in its reflection. Silly, I know.), well, I can sit out at my spiffy desk in the dining room and pretend I have a whole office. 

Or I can watch the small tv in our bedroom while sitting in bed, gazing at magazines or playing with our cats (who believe this room, actually, belongs to them). Or I can even carry the tv into the kitchen and cook for hours while enjoying the company of favorite tv people. Or I could also exercise in the dining room (or the bedroom in between our beds) or take a long bubble bath in the bathroom.

And when Tom's not home, well, wow! Then I get the whole living room to myself. I can even sit in front of the windows and soak-up the sun, reading while drinking coffee or just loll upon the couch and watch our new flat screen tv, the only tv which picks up our basic (basic!) cable channels.

So, wow! Lately I've wondered just how much room does a person truly need, anyway?

Probably as much as my head tells me, which means, I can be contented anywhere, even in a small space, if my head is determined to be contented. Disciplined.

I am not helpless, after all, and I can be contented anywhere, as long as God stands beside me with all that He is.


If my world feels tiny that's only a reflection of my current imagination.


Friday, February 22, 2008

Kinda-Sorta Back

I'm back! Well mostly. Good ol' Tom 'caved' and signed up for DSL here at our Grace Place. He got a terrific deal and his boss is even chipping in five dollars per month since Tom often must bring his work home. Plus, his company has given him their own laptop computer, so hey! 

Part of me was enjoying being computer-free. Much. No more addiction, no having to check-in all the time to Computer Land in case I'd miss important things. No more looking-up every tiny curiosity inside my head and--

But there's a best of both worlds thing here with this new DSL thing. Tom will have this laptop with him at the plant 40 hours a week so I'll still be mostly computer-free except on the weekends. Sounds sane and good to me, at least in this current season.

Anyway. Remember when I dreamed about moving to Mt. Airy, NC? You know, the place very much like Andy Griffith's Mayberry? Well, yesterday some photos arrived from my friend, Wilma, who visited Mayber--, er, Mt. Airy last week on vacation with her husband.

The photos made me insane.

Oh, I immediately wanted to pack up and move there this weekend! The town was everything I'd imagined--old-fashioned, cozy and fun. But what made me bonkers and brought tears to my eyes? The trees in Mt. Airy have green leaves on them. In February! 

Oh my goodness. Here in Buffalo? I'm living in the North Pole (well...) with white (and brown) snow, ice and gloomy grey skies and grey, bare trees and where it's a great day if I can make it back from the convenience store without getting all frozen-faced.

Sigh. Tom and I have gotta get out of here. I still love this tiny cottage, yes, but the world outside its windows makes me nuts.

Oh well. I guess this all proves I'm not sticking close enough to Grace, not listening and not receiving what she has to give. Too often we struggle to get what God would hand us if only we'd receive it

So today will be another Receiving Day, one where I stop complaining and instead, receive His joy, strength and contentment. How much more marvelous is that than anything I try whipping up, myself.


Thursday, February 14, 2008

Valentine's Day! One of my favorite days of the year.

My friend, Laura, hadn't yet visited our tiny cottage so I called her yesterday morning and it just worked out that she was available for lunch (she, who has a real job. Two, actually.) So I cleaned, decorated a bit, which took a huge amount of imagination since I brought only our bare essentials with us.

At the bistro table below the two windows in our living room I brought in the two dining room chairs then draped each with a white sheer curtain which I keep in our (unplugged)chest freezer along with some heavy curtains, placemats, damask dinner napkins and a box of extra tape. The old chipped-up 1940's kitchen chairs suddenly looked magical beneath the sheers.

Anyway, after a bit more decorating I walked through the snow down to the deli and bought sandwiches, potato salad and chips. And ok, a new dark chocolate mint Three Muskateers bar which I'd not yet seen in-person, only on tv. (Tasty, but not amazingly-great.) Hiked back home, waited for Laura, then when she arrived, gave her the grand three-minute tour of my house. She liked it, said it was cozy. She also noted the trains across the street probably make the house shake like crazy, but I told her, no. They don't. 

I love the trains and the Amtrak ones are never long enough for all my dreaming.

Weeks had passed since we'd shared lunch and this Valentine's Day one was sweet. I told her that actually, I'd so needed those days alone for--I heal best alone.

We all, I feel, need time off to heal, slow down, think and most of all, to listen to that still, small voice of the One who knows how fragile our minds can be when driven much too hard and fast.

What I'm saying? If you need time off, don't think of yourself as weak, but rather, human like the rest of us. And if you cannot take long stretches of time off to heal or recharge, do try to find small stretches in your day whenever you can. Or at the very, very least--try to give your brain a vacation as you go about your regular days.

You are worth it.


Happy Valentine's Day to each of you! And for those of you who graced my mailbox with Valentines, I do thank you so much for sweetening my snowy winter days and my life.


Saturday, February 09, 2008

Eeks! Long time between posts, I know. You can blame it on our weather, mostly. I mean, Tom was home, sick, two days this week so I could have driven here to the library, but alas! Freezing rain coated all sidewalks, roads and our car almost like some kind of a horror movie. Oy!

Anyway, the weather now is sane and yesterday I walked down to the convenience store along the road which reminds me of country. Sometimes, hey, don't we city folk need a country road? 

Anyway, needing eggs and onions on Thursday, I walked down our street (not the countryside one) to the new deli on the corner and that was a treat. Two women practically tripped over each other to serve me and I felt a little sad. Small businesses struggle in our area so I try to do what I can to help. They had no eggs, but they did have onions, so I bought one and a bit of potato salad. 

Then on my way home, an older woman stood out in the snow and asked if I'd seen her black and white cat. He'd escaped last night and she'd searched for him at 1 in the morning and a policeman asked what she was doing. She pointed to her windows three stories up in case I found him and I hoped he'd only meandered into another apartment and not outside. Way too cold for cats, it is.

And then later a friend of our neighbor-behind-us was barbequing steaks outside on our sidewalk and I had to smile at seeing the barbeque smoking with snow all around. He even shoveled the sidewalk out to the front for me--I told him our daughter was coming by soon and I thanked him. And later I taped Valentines and red heart doilies to Tom's and my white door to make the neighbors smile when they enter the always-smokey vestibule with the peeling grey paint and missing slats.

What a difference a house makes! I am surrounded by people in our new neighborhood, people rather different than the ones only blocks away where we lived so long. I am in the same town, but a whole other world. 

And I love the adventure of it all.


P.S. On two nights now I've seen Amtrak trains fly by outside our kitchen with their lighted windows. Oh my. How Orient Express. How dreamy. How delightful for my imagination.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Gee, I miss the sun. We've not seen it since last Thursday. 

I even strolled our new neighborhood on one of those murky, oh so very grey days and every house, even the few special ones, appeared bleak and woeful. And I didn't even feel safe--the occasional men I glimpsed all reminded me of leary-eyed guys from scary scenes in CSI shows. I even decided that from now on I'll cross the road and take the sidewalk which leads me back to my old neighborhoods where I walked for 14 years. You know, the normal single-family houses, no-apartments-anywhere streets. That's how dark, grey and foreboding my walk was that day.

What a difference the sun makes!

And just arriving here at the library this morning and finding all your cheery comments to my last post made it feel as though the sun finally sprang out from behind the clouds. So thank-you! It's great to travel here and feel as though a group of friends awaits me.

Speaking of that, I'm loving not having computer access at our house. Well, maybe not loving it, but appreciating how it is stretching me, making me more patient regarding my peeks into Computer Land. Happy to return to balance.

Sometimes you have to do extreme things to keep yourself balanced and exactly where--and how--God wants you to be. So that you can hear Him more clearly and live free enough to always be in the right places at the right time and in your right mind, as in, not distracted.

 And not sitting in a computer chair when He wanted you at the supermarket when that elderly lady needed your help.

It's never easy to die to self--to stop feeding but actually starve our weaknesses. Always, the freedom afterward makes any ripping-away pains so very worth it.


Saturday, February 02, 2008

Ok. I just know that some of y'all are wondering if I miss my old house, the one I lived in nearly 15 years, the one whose each and every wall I lovingly painted.

Truthfully? I don't miss it. 

Oh, perhaps the sunroom, especially on these dark winter days. That room was nearly half-made of windows so there was a 'certain slant of light' in there, dark days or sunny. But no, I was so ready to move out. To move on to something new, even something tiny and temporary. The divine discontent within me was maddening (well, almost) and I so needed a change.

When God wants to change either our circumstances or something inside us, we need to cooperate or else very little will feel right. I could have clung to (and refused to leave) that larger, more comfortable house, but I'd not have been as happy and contented as I am in our tiny (tiny!) cottage apartment. 

I mean, the single mom behind us comes homes drunk on weekend mornings around 4:30 with at least three noisy friends, but you know? She's someone to pray for--someone for whom to do kind anonymous deeds. That's how I view her and her family, the one which sounds like a preschool right outside our doorway.

And there's another single mom upstairs, with three teens, but they are surprisingly quiet up there. And when I see her outside, I always must be the first to say hello--I think she's shy and oh my! I understand shy people after having been one for so very long. So I say hello first and usually make a little remark if she's not hurrying past me. Which usually she is.

Do I miss my old, quiet, retro house, the one with 14 years of amazing memories? Nope. I'm too busy enjoying this new phase God led us to by way of divine discontent. It's an interesting place, another home of learning and I'm in no hurry to move away.

And trust me, I am so not looking back, either. Only ahead to new adventures.


P.S. Did anyone else love LOST as much as I did? Too many commercial breaks....argh. But I enjoyed every minute of the long-waited-for episode--even the states of confusion this show puts me in. ツ