Reflections on a Dark Room

Once a time a time isn’t necessarily a long time ago…

Throughout our years sharing a bed together, my Sweetie and I have enjoyed countless late, late-night talks as we drift off to sleep, kitties snuggled nearby, the house dark and quiet and our minds weary yet freed from the affairs of the day due to the lateness of the hour. Sometimes we brainstorm possibilities for the continuing alphabetical naming of our future cats. Sometimes we go on preposterous flights of verbal fancy. Sometimes we remember episodes of long-lost TV shows we swear we were the only ones who watched. Sometimes we try to think of ways to repurpose videotapes. And sometimes it’s simply utter nonsense… 😉 And on those nights we drift off to peaceful sleep with smiles on our faces and joyful laughter in our hearts – more in love with us than ever.

oMlKyeO

Other nights, we talk into the wee-hours about more substantial things – yes, really. Last night’s conversation renewed my love for myself as well as my deep and abiding appreciation for my man who deeply appreciates me. Torn down by the negativity, hatred, selfishness and sadness I witness around me lately, worn out by the day-in, day out mundaneness of my present life circumstances, I felt bereft of direction or motivation. (In case you don’t know, I’m not a person who functions for long on auto-pilot without falling into a deep, disheartened funk.) I was a dead car battery and my Sweetie – through words of encouragement and faith –  jump-started me back to life – back to passion and purpose.

The thoughts with which I drifted off to peaceful sleep last night were: There is more to me – and more for me – and now I know I will discover and experience it because he said I can. And that’s always been all I need.

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Once a Time a Time, I Was Quoted in a Book

As I finish another crochet item – a very pretty shawl – this evening, I have yarn both around my fingers and on my mind. I  am reminded of something I wrote in a Twitter chat, circa 2010. Lest you think that I consider my every tweet pure gold and therefore retain a memory of every comment I make, I assure you there’s a reason that this particular tweet sticks in my mind.

The Twitter chat consisted of a group of small business owners discussing the topic of combining several, often disparate, passions to create your own unique niche in the marketplace. My comment was exactly this (I actually found it on my Twitter page): 

“I think of it as a tangle of yarn & if I just pull the right one in the right direction, it will all straighten out & be cohesive.”

One of the participants in the chat was Becky McCray, an entrepreneur from Oklahoma who specialized in bringing social media to small, rural, businesses. She was in the process of co-writing a book and thought my comment was particularly illustrative. She officially asked me if she could quote me in her book, and I enthusiastically answered in the affirmative. (If you ever want to look up her book, Small Town Rules: How Big Brands and Small Businesses Can Prosper in a Connected Economy, by Barry J. Moltz, Becky McCray, my words of wisdom appear on page 55 of that publication.)

Cooper demonstrates the challenges presented from tangled yarn

Cooper demonstrates the challenges presented from tangled yarn

 

I’m now revisiting the metaphor I wrote in a literal sense. Yarn has indeed returned to my life in a very real and significant way. Crochet is one of my eclectic interests and abilities, along with writing, editing, cooking… that occupy the hours of my life. Yarn represents a new voice to the choir of my creative endeavors, while considerably complicating my metaphor. Just when I thought things were making sense…

Broadening my thoughts about my quote leads me to conclude that it really applies to so much of life. It’s a tangle of so many and various elements. The challenge is to find a way to make sense of it and glean some meaning. Elements come and go in that “tangle of yarn” that is my life and my career. Given time and patience, it all – eventually – gets straightened out and, if I’m lucky, cohesive.

It’s nice to be heard. Nicer yet to be quoted in print. I hope I’m ultimately as clever in real life as I once was on Twitter.

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Gina’s Gentle Giants

Elephants – that’s a pretty large topic! I happen to love those big ol’ pachyderms! I was first attracted to them when I learned of their social habits. They live in family units, fiercely protect their young and mourn their dead. They seek the companionship of one another and, despite their huge size and mammoth strength, they are not intrinsically prone to violent behavior.

Their gentle nature is perhaps my favorite thing about elephants. They could strut around being the biggest, baddest animals in the neighborhood and, really, who would argue with them? But no, they choose to go about their quiet way without leveraging their power unnecessarily.

We humans like to think we’re so evolved but we would be well-served if we behaved more like elephants. Mind our own business, go about the business of living without pushing our weight around…just imagine that! We – yes, we – are their only predators – isn’t that a disgrace.

Some of my cherished elephant collection

Some of my cherished elephant collection

I have a nice collection of elephant figurines, a snow globe and a coffee table book that I cherish. They serve to remind me that gentleness and instinctual kindness can be found everywhere – even in nature. 

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The Party Guest Who Didn’t Mingle

While attending a party a little more than a year ago at a rented venue, I made my way around the room visiting and chatting. On one of the banquet chairs, I spotted a lone shoe. It was just sitting there, alone at a table whose previous occupants were likewise circulating and socializing. I knew many of the people at this party, but I hadn’t noticed anyone wearing only one shoe.

As is my habit, I snapped a photo of the shoe due to its considerable curiosity factor. The higher the curiosity factor, the more I like something. Anyone who knows me knows I appreciate a good mystery… And this was a good one – and a rather hilarious one at that – bonus points!

Righty in the flesh - I mean in the leather.

Righty in the flesh – I mean in the leather.

Needless to say, I was fascinated by “Righty” as I like to call him.Was he an invited guest? On whose foot did he arrive? Why was he sitting alone? Was he comfortable? What was he drinking? How did he know the guest of honor? Did he bring a nice gift for the birthday girl? Did he dig the playlist? What did he think of the quinoa and kale side dish? Was he having a good time? Did he get home safely? Did he ever meet his perfect mate? My mind swam with wonderment about this lone guest!

I guess there are some questions to which I’ll just never know the answer – and some mysteries that I’ll never solve. I’ll just have to live with that.

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Let’s Raise a Glass to a Genuine Thanksgiving Celebration

I love Thanksgiving but I believe the celebration of it leaves something to be desired. The spirit of the holiday is well-intentioned; serving as a day to demonstrate gratitude for the abundance in our lives. We should all do that – and certainly more frequently than once a year.

My personal observation about Thanksgiving, however, is that there is considerable hypocrisy in the manner in which the holiday is celebrated…

Americans are part of a diverse world in what is probably the most diverse nation on the planet. We celebrate that diversity in our history, having welcomed those from all over as the “melting pot” of the world. We are finally embracing diversity in relationships and in family makeups. We generally make great effort to appreciate and embrace those with limitations or who are differently abled.

How do we celebrate all the diversity that defines our American culture? We gather together to eat carbon copy meals in a carbon copy manner! A “traditional” Thanksgiving is the absolute default. Variations from traditional celebrations of a holiday like Thanksgiving are frowned upon and are decidedly not diverse. What – no green bean casserole? How disappointing! No marshmallows on the yams? Heresy! It’s as if there’s a pre-determined way to celebrate the day and to vary it is not only considered non-traditional but represents a downright holiday fail.

Honestly – does everyone who toils in the kitchen to prepare a turkey – or gorges themselves on it – really even like turkey? If they did, wouldn’t they roast turkey more often than once a year? Or at least go out to a restaurant for a turkey dinner a few times a year? I think we have turkey on Thanksgiving because we think we have to have turkey. Not because we like – or even want – turkey.

Often, Thanksgiving gatherings include people who are together only because of a sense of obligation – they’re expected to be with the people for whom they’re expected to be thankful. Not because they genuinely yearn to demonstrate their thankfulness with those with whom they assemble around the table. I think we gather with those we do on Thanksgiving because we think we have to gather with them. Not because we like to – or even want to – gather with them.

These guys shared our family Thanksgiving table every year I can remember.

These guys shared our family Thanksgiving table every year I can remember.

Obligation is not a favorite concept of mine. It takes the heart and the head out of the equation, leaving only mindless obedience as a reason for partaking in the celebration. If diversity is something upon which we define ourselves as a nation and as a culture, and is something for which we’re thankful,  it seems hypocritical to demonstrate that concept by squeezing ourselves into an identical box of celebration.

I hope that as a society we are better than that narrow, stunted celebration of what really could be a beautiful day. A day without stress. A day without tension. A day to celebrate with your whole heart those things for which you are TRULY thankful with the people who TRULY make you grateful to be in their lives. Eating the food for which you’re TRULY appreciative, wherever and however you want. In other words, keep the tradition of thankfulness – just lose the empty pretense. Free yourselves from the chains of obligation and tradition and, in my humble opinion, you’ll finally learn what it feels like to celebrate a day of genuine thanksgiving.

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