Wednesday, June 17, 2009

A Sea Monkey Kind of Sensitive

I don't know where I saw the ad or exactly how old I was, but I was induced into spending my allowance on "Sea Monkeys." I remember they were suppose to frolic and play and such. If you had enough money, you could even by some equipment to go with them. I think I had just enough for the Sea Monkeys. They seemed like just the kind of pet my parents couldn't say "No" to.

So, I sent the money and Sea Monkeys came. They were ceremoniously dumped into a drinking glass. They weren't nearly as fascinating as the ad claimed, but I was diligent in feeding them even if I wasn't enthralled with them.

One day I went down the basement (where the Sea Monkeys lived) to feed them. Lets just say that somehow the Sea Monkeys perished -- probably the result of the glass being accidently knocked over. I was horrified and hid under my bed crying at the thought that I had killed all those tiny, tiny monkeys.

For clarification, Sea Monkeys are actually brine shrimp. I suppose that technically they are alive. However, they are no where near what my little girl mind had imagined. For my reaction, you would have though I hurt a bunny or a puppy or something like that.

All of that is to say that I can be a bit sensitive. Okay, not just a bit. I am sensitive. Maybe too sensitive. Because that Sea Monkey kind of sensitive has carried over into my adult life.

I see a counselor. It is a good thing, but yesterday was a hard session. We were talking about friendships and relationships and all that kind of stuff. It came out that sometimes my reactions are over what they might be. Well, that can put people on edge. While Julie was just trying to helpful, it didn't go well. As I thought about it last night as I couldn't sleep because of it all, the Sea Monkey thing dawned on me. I suppose, in that instance, I was Sea Monkey sensitive too.

My question is "How do you keep from being too sensitive/Sea Monkey sensitive?" My guess is that it is all the perspective, but how do you change your perspective?


Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Dear Springfield or Whomever Might Be Reading

Dear Springfield (Illinois Government),

I read today -- again -- about the budget. Seems to me that you've known the deadline was approaching and everyone has taken their time to put us down to the wire again and have that added pressure. And it looks like it is far from being balanced.

There's a lot of talk about cutting things. Yes, households cut things in times of crisis, but they don't cut the necessary things. They cut the fat. At least if they are smart they do. I'm irritated by all the talk of cutting social service funding. Yes, let's take services away from those who need it the most. Really? Is that all you can come up with?

I'm horrified to read that you may cut payments to foster parents and then read that you are okay with putting the kids on cots in government offices. Please tell me that is ludicrous. Well, I already know it is. Tell me you wouldn't really consider it. My guess is it is a force the hand type of thing. I think of that as bullying.

And then there are things like the Crisis Nursery. So, where will parents in crisis take their babies? Will you force them into keeping them in dangerous situations?

We want parents to work. But then you think of cutting daycare for low income families?

Preventative programs will all have to go. What kind of sense does that make?

And services for those with mental illness will get huge slices cut out.

And lest we think you are only targeting children, then there are the elderly. Of course, you already are behind on paying a number of those things. The average citizen gets behind and the bill collectors call. Do they call you?

So, then you talk about raising the income tax. Hmm. And that would stimulate the economy how? There must be another way. Surely there are other things to cut besides social service. And I'm sorry, but if I can't make my budget work I don't get to walk into my boss and say, "I need more money to balance my budget." I may need it, but that would never fly. So, why should it fly for you?

Think both big and little. How much do you each make? Well over what the average citizen makes. Before you cut job, maybe you could try taking a pay cut. Before you order out a meal on the state, maybe you should pack your lunch. I think people would applaud to see you all brown bag it. Before you buy specially engraved pens with logos and such, look at generic Bic.

You expect us to do more with less. Can we expect the same of you?


Sunday, June 14, 2009

Focus -- Hope Chronicles 86

When I was a child, I was told I had an astigmatism in one eye. However, my eyes compensated just fine. My vision was 20/20.

My dad had glasses for as long as I can remember. My younger sister had glasses as a child. My mom got reading glasses sometime when I was in late elementary school. So, in some ways I wasn't surprised when things started seeming a bit out of focus this winter. At first I thought it was just when I was tired and I needed to catch up on sleep. Then I noticed that I would sometimes get a headache. In May, having not seen an optometrist for at least 10 years, I called and made an appointment.

To my dismay, My suspicion was right. I need glasses. There isn't just one but several things going on with my eyes. Sigh again. I picked them up late Friday afternoon. They actually told me not to wear them driving for about a week and to use caution as my eyes would be adjusting and my depth perception might be off!

It has gotten me thinking about focus. Not only have my eyes seemed out of whack recently, but for the last 5 or 6 months, my entire life has seemed off kilter.

In December I finished up my year of writing about hope. I was pleased with how it had helped me focus. But not having that commitment to write about it weekly, I lost some of the focus. So, I think I am going to pick it up again. I need the hope. Here is to a renewed focus on HOPE.


Tuesday, June 9, 2009

If You Remember This, Then ....

Last night I was at the bookstore. Somehow, a manager and I got on the topic of shows we watched when we were kids. Yes, this will date me, but here is the list. Which do you remember?

  • School House Rocks as seen as part of Saturday morning cartoons -- Who says cartoons can't teach you anything? "I'm just a bill . . . ."
  • Smufs -- Little blue people....
  • Life before remotes -- Yes, once upon a time you had to get up to change the channel. Should I mention we only had 3 plus the local PBS channel to choose from?
  • Life before microwaves -- If cooking is so much faster now, how come I still don't have any time? And how come I love my slow cooker?
  • Real FLOPPY disks -- Yes, there was a reason for the "floppy" part.
  • Road Runner, Tom & Jerry, and Bugs Bunny
  • Life before internet -- Seriously, how did we connect?
  • Rotary phones and having to answer to find out who is calling
  • When the "original" Star Wars special effects were truly awe inspiring
  • Going to the bank and having a pass book for your savings account
  • Writing a paper on a typewriter
  • PONG
What can you add to the list? If you remember most of that stuff, well, I hate to tell you, but we are both getting old.

If you don't remember any of it, I don't even want to hear it!


Friday, June 5, 2009

This spring I developed a condition that someone I know recently called "adult onset athlete." I had to chuckle when she said it. It fit perfectly. You see, I've never been athletic. But the end of February I got it in my head that I was going to learn to run. Me, who hates to sweat and could never run very far without getting a stitch in my side. Me, who always came in last in elementary school races.

I'm posting today at the Internet Cafe. Click here to finish reading this post.


Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Afraid of What We Triumphantly Faced Before

"Hadley, leave it!"

Pounding feet and barking greet my ears.

"Hadley! LEAVE IT!"

Occasionally, she will leave it. It (in many cases) is my cat Mali. Don't get me wrong, for a cat and dog they actually do reasonably well together. But, sometimes Mali boxes Hadley's ears for no apparent reasons. Other times, even the slightest movement on Mali's part results in a game of chase and barking on Hadley's part.

As annoying as these moments are (especially since leaving a running cat is next to impossible for my pup), I have noticed something interesting. Hadley is obviously not afraid of Mali. As a general rule, she does not cower around her. She and Mali sometimes sit calmly nose to nose. And she chases her. Who chases what they are afraid of?

As well as "leave it," Hadley and I are also working on "Come." She's actually doing fairly well with this. She will scamper to me with her tail wagging and is typically rewarded with a treat.

However, there are times when this is not the case. For example, the other morning she had chased Mali upstairs. Since "leave it" was not working, I called for her to come.


I called again.

Mournful barking.

Curious, I went to the bottom of the stairs only to find Mali (whose is almost exactly half Hadley's size) barring the way. Hadley's head was down and she was admitting pitiful whines. She wanted to obey but Mali sat there triumphantly -- the queen of the castle -- blocking her way.

The scenario was comical, but it also begged a question. Why was Hadley giving chase one moment and cowering the next?

The scene tugged the story of Elijah (1 Kings 17-19) to mind. Elijah lived during a time when it was dangerous to be a prophet of God. God had the prophets in hiding. For a couple of years, God took care of Elijah in miraculous ways -- being fed by ravens and later an unending and miraculous supply of flour in a widow's house. In the third year, God decides it is time to confront the evil king Ahab and queen Jezebel.

Through Elijah, God confronts Jezebel's prophets of Baal. They both build altars and declare that the god who answers with fire is the true god. Baal's prophets go first and call on Baal -- slicing themselves and dancing to get his attention -- morning to past midday. No answer.

Elijah's turn. The altar is built and he pours water on the sacrifice and altar three times. There is trench around the altar and the water fills the trench. Then Elijah prays to God and fire comes down, burns up the offering, and laps up the water in the trench. God answered. Elijah had all the prophets of Baal put to death.

It was a great victory for Elijah and an even bigger victory for God. But Jezebel is not cowed. She is angry. She vows that she will kill Elijah -- whom God has protected and done mighty works through. Perhaps we can understand her anger.

But the perplexing bit is Elijah. He turns and runs. And when he interacts with God, he whines about his plight.

What changed? Did God abandon Elijah when Jezebel threatened? No. God never changes. Rather than look at the God who had just displayed His might and authority, the God who had cared for him in miraculous ways, Elijah turned his back and looked instead at his circumstances.

With his back to God, he stared intently on the threat on his life.

Don't get me wrong. I understand it. Been there. Done that. But it is a reminder to me. When I feel afraid or panicked or hopeless, where are my eyes? Are they on my God or on myself and my circumstances?

Sometimes a cat can look like a lion. At those moments, we need God's vision to put everything back in perspective.

How can you adjust your vision today?


Monday, June 1, 2009

Oh, No. I Think I'm Getting Old

Sigh. I suppose it happens to everyone. I fear I am getting old. I'm plucking more grays. And even more decidedly, my eyes are changing. It's been years since I've had my eyes checked. In spite of a slight astigmatism in one eye (I don't know which), I've always had good vision.

Alas, the last few months I've noticed a definite change in my eyes. At first it was mostly when I was tired. But I started noticing it more and more. My eyes don't seem to be working together at times. I find myself squinting at times and closing one eye at others. So, I see the eye doctor later this week. I won't be surprised to find out that my age is catching up with me and need glasses -- especially for reading and working on the computer.