A week ago, I turned on the disposal and it was immediately apparent that something indigestible was grinding below. We had been eating my favorite Castelvetrano olives, those vibrant green beauties, and I was pretty sure some pits had been carelessly flung into the dark abyss of the disposal. Fearless daughter, Bethany, dug in the junk drawer to locate a flashlight and volunteered to put her hand into the great unknown. She spotted three olive pits and quickly retrieved them with her bare hands. I would have put on rubber gloves and have shut down all electricity at the fuse box before such a venture. We double checked with the flash light and a spoon to make sure things were clear. Then, with a flick of the switch, I ran the disposal again and shivered at the sound of something still grinding. The high power blades must have hidden a final pit and slowly sliced it down to a size that would send it out through the pipes and into the ocean. This reminds me of the little things that are stuck in the dark recesses of our minds: a memory, a fear or aggravation that grinds away noisily when we have a quiet moment to escape the routine of our lives. Some thoughts are hard to let go, even when they are overblown or a fabrication. Like that rock hard olive pit hiding in the shadows, thoughts bounce and circle around our brain trying to avoid being expelled. Sometimes they emerge in bizzaro dreams or nightmares. This is when a best friend comes in handy to do some amateur analysis. If, like me, your closest confident is a spouse, they may fret and not understand why we are not exceedingly happy all the time when they provide us with our every desire and unconditional love. Best friends of the same age and gender are often savvy to the situation and can pull you out of the pit of despair. But, it is here that I must applaud those with close friends of different generations who can impart wisdom, or give a youthful perspective. The point is that a close friend is a true treasure. And you know that means one who is confidential and compassionate. My olive pits are safely on their way to a landfill where the seeds may one day produce beautiful trees among the disposable diapers and computer parts. In the meantime, let’s talk, pray, sing, dance, and consume healthy foods with our very good friends. They are in-dispensable.


Get a Handle

Yesterday, I thought it might be time to shave the legs. The legs that have been hiding all winter under wooly socks, leggings and denim jeans. But, I forgot to pack my razor and only had a nice fresh blade replacement. How does one operate without a handle? There is a small nub on the blade head that I thought I could pinch between thumb and pointer finger, until I tried to get the right angle which would actually remove leg hair. Slowly, I tried to apply the right pressure and carefully guide the triple track of blades to achieve a beach worthy set of smooth legs. It was a semi successful process and I ended up with something that looked like the popular men’s trend of a two day stubble on their face. I really needed a handle on the situation. I as tempted to ask my husband if I could use his razor. I think he still has scars from the last time we attempted to share a Gillette in 1981. Of course his handle does not fit my fancy pink razor blade replacement.
How can we ever accomplish a goal without really having a grip? Doing a good job requires some experience, education, and understanding. A professional is one who has the best grip on things after years of practice. I would not presume to give legal advice or write a binding contract, and my husband would not attempt to write a lesson plan on poetry or control a class of First Graders on a field trip. Expertise is essential when quality matters. It is also hard to feel that things are under control when many people of differing opinions are involved in planning one event. Even the best leaders lose control sometimes. Sometimes, in the absence of having a handle, the only solution humor. If we can laugh about the things that don’t go as planned, we keep our sanity for another day. Vanity usually steals sanity. Allowing God to be our guide in every situation wins over self importance.
If I am acting a little crazy, I am either losing control of what I wanted, or I am looking for humor to reframe the situation. A good laugh always trumps a temper tantrum. ( Oops, I wasn’t going to mention any presidential candidates.) I may have gotten a little off track in my analogy. Nonetheless, I always vote for a good shave and a haircut because that means excellent grooming for any situation that may arise. One thing I have learned; in true adversity, don’t ever handle it alone.


Yesterday, I experienced a series of missteps. I walked up to a car that wasn’t mine, I tried to go through the wrong door at the YMCA, and I tried to unlock my apartment with the wrong key. I was not under the influence of alcohol, sugar, or love; so I can’t explain the distraction. What all three things had in common was a failed attempt to enter. Then this morning, I followed my daughter to the airport gate ( I could not read the numbers on my phone ticket ) and we discovered that we were looking for the wrong number. Then, we lined up when we thought it was our call, but the announcement was actually for the gate next to us. The speakers at both gates were talking over each other and it was hard to decipher. It must mean we need a vacation from our regularly scheduled program to realign our vision, hearing and sensory functions. We did get on the right plane. When life is full it can be chaotic and we blunder because of the barrage of input. I would like to think occasional (weekly) missteps are normal behavior. Where does our mind go when we walk into a room and wonder what we wanted? Those thousand thoughts a minute can talk over each other until we completely lose focus. I am learning a great deal about focus from my daughter the photography major. Sometimes we need to change the F stop, or aim just a fraction closer to the target subject. A minor adjustment creates a clearer picture. A different angle offers a new perspective. Finding a focus is as important as finding a flow so that our activities go smoothly and something is accomplished. Focus usually involves a singular subject and it is helpful to be passionate about that person, place, or thing until the desired outcome is achieved. Like a beautiful photograph, we need to “still” ourselves and meditate on our priorities. Look at the greater picture in order to choose one important objective at a time on which to focus. This is difficult for me because I usually end my day feeling that I did not do enough, or finish what I started. For all you multi-taskers like me, it is crucial to find our focus and complete one objective. What really helps is to work with someone who has the same passion. So, before I set off a car alarm or break a key in the lock, I will take time to adjust my lens and zoom in on one subject. It will probably be the part of my spirit, soul, and body that is out of balance. When I successfully enter the place I belong, I hope there is singing involved.