Monday, May 18, 2009

San Francisco-Postcard Collection #2

As Nancy Pelosi has been so much in the news as of late....

"San Francisco Cable Car. Looking down California Street. San Francisco had its first cable car in 1873, replacing the horse car used in that period. Creator of the cable railway was Andrew Hallidie."

Mike Roberts Color Productions/Smith Novelty Co.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Your Friendship Confuses

Your friendship confuses me.
You speak healing words, but we’ve never been healed.

You send me cards and letters,
The ink bleeds,
Questions run off the page.

I do not know how to handle your hugs.
Drawing in tight reminds me of times,
Entwined, together as one.

Pushing you away forces you to stumble,
Falling backward out of my life.

Trembling, I hold you lightly.
Basking in bitter taste,
Touching sweetness,
I move forward,
Ever on the precipice.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Therapy and Boxes

Overwhelmed by a sense of paralysis; purposeless and depressed, I struggled in my marriage. Every action was met with hostility; every retreat deepened and widened the crevasse between us. I sought numbness in pornography. Life had become overwhelming. I began seeing a counselor.

Looking back now, I realize I was under significant duress. Reasonable discussions with the wife were rare. Any discussion involving stressful situations such as finances, spirituality and raising our child resulted in violent language, “Blanking up the finances is an effing deal, I can’t believe I married a retarded person. What is wrong with you?” Long tirades. I handled it badly. Internalized all of it.

I don’t recall exactly what I said in that therapy session. I suppose it was something like, “How can I communicate with my wife? What can I (say, do, make, wear) to make her listen?” Hidden in there was the desire to change her behavior.

Here’s what the counselor had me do. Draw a rectangle on a piece of paper, leaving plenty of room around the rectangle. Inside the box, draw or write all the things I could control. Outside of the box, pencil in all of the things that were out of my control.

I struggled. I wanted to put things in the box such as how I made the wife feel. I didn’t control that though, did I? How she reacted? Out of my control. Finally, I realized that the only thing that I could put in the box was me, my actions, and my thoughts. Everything else was out of my control.

Initially, I internalized less of the attacks against me, and was able to gain perspective during those instances. Over time, seeing my life in term of “What’s inside my box” really has helped me focus. Belief in a sovereign God that controls ‘everything outside of my box’ so that “all things work together for good” is a strong anchor in my stress-filled life.

This week I spent some time reviewing the box analogy with Hailey, my daughter. She has two parents, both with control issues. She’s modeling that behavior too well. So I had her draw a rectangle.....

What would you put in your box? Outside of your box?

Discovering Truth-The Postcard Collection #1

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Soul Food My Mother Gave Me

One has to zigzag to walk the path into mom’s backyard. Past the pine tree, around and between the cacti, along a row of ivy, dodge the succulunts, guard yourself against more cactus, until you get into the wide expanse of the backyard. There you are greeted by the swimming pool, the ever-nesting dove, lavender, nasturtiums, fern, strawberries and oranges. All healthy, all thriving.

One of the things I’ve given up since living in the rental house, is gardening. Previously I’d had rose bushes, and vegetables, trees and cactus too. Nature or nurture, a green thumb from my mother. The gardening greened my soul. Perhaps its time again.

Driving long distances with Hailey, I often hear, “Do we HAVE to listen to talk radio?” To which I reply, “You are fortunate that I let you listen to stuff that you like. When aunt D and I were driving with my mom, the only station we listened to was the classical station.” Exposure to classical music, Opera, Broadway show tunes, Latvian ethnic, all came to me from mom. The reason I enjoy music all the time, that I’m fairly eclectic, that I’m writing this with Third Day blaring; all mom’s fault.

“A gourmet cook,” “A masterful entertainer,” “Sunset magazine embodied,” were some of the comments overheard at the memorial. While writing this, my sister called. She found a drawer full of the recipes we grew up on. Cornish game hens, stuffed bell peppers, meatloaf, mushroom soups.

Stereotypes are funny. I enjoy bringing prepared food and baked goods to parties. Prior to the actual event people will ask me if I’m a good cook. They must have some vision of the single guy making grilled cheese day after day because he can’t make anything else. I’ve been collecting recipes since high school, and have enjoyed baking and cooking since junior high.

All of these feed my soul, and were kneaded into my heart through hours spent watching my mom garden, and cook, and entertain, all while Prokofiev or Man of La Mancha played in the background.

How about you? What has your mother taught you? What key things has she worked into your life that you are thankful for?