Monthly Archives: October 2015

Repost from October 19, 2011: In Which Siouxsie Almost Throws a Hissy Fit at the Gas Station

Oh, excuse me, the ”fuel center.”

The problem with blogging about having a hissy fit is often said h.f. occurs a few hours before the blog can actually be created. In that time, a cooler head and a rational mind can often prevail. And/or, a cool quote from Seth Godin can show up in my inbox. From Seth’s post today, “We repeatedly underestimate how important a story is to help us make sense of the world.” Which then caused me to consider the story behind the hissy fit, aka “conniption” fit.

Yes, I am elderly enough to remember the good old days when one rolled into the gas station and heard the pleasant ding-ding as one drove across the ding-ding hose. Decisions at the gas station in those days amounted to “cash or charge,” “leaded or unleaded” and whether or not you wanted your oil checked. Ah, those were the days, weren’t they. Simplicity. And how things have changed.

Now I shall commence to make a list of all the choices we “get” to make at the gas station these days.

1. Will I be paying credit or debit or gift card?
2. Paying at the pump or at the window?
3. Am I a Kroger plus customer? yes or no.
4. If yes, scan card OR enter alternate i.d. number.
5. Do I want a car wash? Yes or no.
6. Now choose one of the three options of gas grade.
7. Do I want to use my gas discount of x cents? yes or no

Only seven short hoops and I am permitted to pump the fuel into my car!

Besides the above, there are many passive questions facing me.

1. Do I want to apply for another credit card that will save me more cents per gallon?
2. Do I want a snack? “Visit the kiosk!”
3. Am I going to believe the warning about my cell phone being able to cause an explosion?
4. Do I care how recently this pump was inspected?

And don’t forget all the questions zinging through my head about my day.

1. Is that man looking at my hair because I am really having a bad hair day?
2. Will I have time to put everything in the car before I have to leave?
3. Which way should I go home?
4. Will they reverse that fine?
5. What kind of snacks are in the kiosk?
6. And so on and so on.

Here’s what got me today.

See #7 above? It’s always a little surprise to find out whether I have any discount at all, or maybe 10 cents per gallon. Today, surprise! I had a 40 cent per gallon discount available. However, I also had NEW CHOICES.

1. Use my discount as is.
2. Use part of my discount.
3. Don’t use my discount.

I mean, really.

And Seth’s comment reminded me that it is my story about this that dictates my response. My story this morning was that these were unnecessary choices, just one more wildly unnecessary choice in a world filled with way too many choices — my grocery store has, what, 300 different amalgamations of pasta, and by pasta, I am only referring to dry pasta in a box, not all the mixes, prepared foods, and deli offerings. My story is that these are unnecessary choices and unwelcome. But would I really be happy if I went into a story and there were 4 different types of pasta. I would say honestly, at this point, no. I’m used to having boocoo choices about all kinds of minor things. Maybe there are a lot of people who complained to Kroger and said they didn’t want to use the entire discount at one time. I wish I could understand under what conditions that might occur. But, it is what it is and now I get to also decide whether to use my discount as is, a portion thereof, or save it for a rainy day.

So, I’m changing my story just a bit. I feel blessed that I have the freedom to make so many choices in my life. I also recognize that there are very important areas where the choices are limited and sometimes one is as bad as the others (see: politics). But in the hope that this new option at the Kroger Fuel Center makes someone else’s life easier, I accept it with grace and will continue to wait for the fun surprise of finding out how many cents per gallon I might get as a discount today.

(But sometimes I still think it’s fun to throw a hissy fit now and again, as long as it doesn’t spill over onto innocent bystanders.)

Addendum, October 27, 2015: I enjoyed writing this post, and it was fun to discover it again today, four years later. I still think we have an awful lot of choices these days, even more than we had in 2011, but the gas station doesn’t stress me out anymore. It is what it is, and I really am grateful that I have easy access to fuel, food, medical care, cash, and a library, among others.

In Which a Refreshed Me Becomes Creative Again

Here is the sewing machine I received for my birthday — in 2014. This is the first time I have used it.

I had a sturdy, dependable Singer sewing machine from 1986 onward and I thought it should last forever. As the years went on, it got crochety, like a lot of us do as we get older. It’s probably still perfectly good — maybe just needs a tune-up or a good going-over by a specialist. But all I knew is it was no fun to use anymore as the problems outweighed the pleasures by far.

So I got a new machine in 2014. I have moved the instructional dvd and the separate quilting board from one desk to the next, from one drawer to another, for over a year. I wasn’t sure I would ever have enough energy to sew again.

One of the lovely effects of my trip to Alaska was a renewed enthusiasm for creating things with my hands. I decided I wanted to make Eli a new weighted blanket awhile back after his was discarded along with the rest of his belongings by his ex-girlfriend. But it wasn’t until I came home from Alaska that the idea became one I felt capable of implementing.

I spent some time in Joann Fabrics the other day, taking in the aisles and aisles of potential there. It didn’t take long to decide on the fabrics for the blanket, and as I waited in line at the cutting table, I discovered an old friend I hadn’t seen for ages, but who knew what was new with me because she reads my blog.

My eminently sensible sister saw the one fabric and asked innocently if I thought it would be hard to work with. I hadn’t even considered that! But her question encouraged me to create a solution for being able to work with it much more easily.

I have never made a weighted blanket before, but I have made many, many baby blankets, and knew it was within my particular skill set to take this on.

When Kepler asked if he could help me tonight, my post-Alaska self welcomed him up onto my lap to help. He sewed with me for a few minutes and that was all he needed to feel complete.

I’ve noticed the back pain I always used to have while sewing or typing is gone. I’ve noticed the drive I had to justcompletethisprojectassoonaspossible is also gone. I find myself enjoying the process and really enjoying being able to enjoy something like this again.

Finding my way to White Raven Center


photo credit: me
Two of my favorite podcasters, namely Jason Stellman and Christian Kingery of Drunk Ex-Pastors, have been podcasting since August 2014. In August 2015, they had a guest on the show. Seth Taylor, author of Feels Like Redemption. 

Seth’s book is about porn addiction. Although i’m not a porn addict, what Seth said touched me deeply. Our addictions are ways that we medicate deep, unexpressed, unresolved pain and trauma. 

I had been looking at going to an Onsite workshop in Tennessee, but the cost was very prohibitive. After listening to Seth on the podcast, who could barely string together two sentences thanks to the interview style of Jason and Christian, i knew that Onsite, valuable as it may be for hurting people, was more than likely going to give me more head knowledge about changing my attitude, reframing things, understanding more. But there were feelings in me I had always been afraid to express and something in Seth’s brief presentation captured me and drew me to find out more. 

Finding out more meant seeking out his book and reading it. I also emailed him and was pleasantly surprised at how gracious he was to me, a stranger. More about that later.

Within a few days, i began to explore the possibility of heading to Anchorage, Alaska to attend a workshop on core transformational healing. And very shortly after that, I began to plan my trip. 

I had had a transformational summer in 1980 when I spent a summer up there on a Teen Missions trip. I have never forgotten the awe and wonder I felt as we ran around on the Matanuska glacier. While i think we did accomplish some helpful things for the camp we were at, the experiences i had on the glacier and on the mountain were pretty special times, and unique to Alaska. 

So I wanted to go back. If i could see a glacier, that would be cool. If i could climb a mountain, I’d be pretty happy. But if I could find the kind of healing Seth (and his brother, David) wrote about, I’d be a new person. 

It’s hard to explain on the one hand, but easy on the other hand. Each of us store energy in our bodies from traumas, rejections, abuse, wounds, and all types of pain. What Seth and David said, and what I experienced, is that that energy can be cleared out. And when it is, we reclaim parts of ourselves that we have rejected. 

You might not see it in these photos, especially if you don’t know me, but in this first one, I can see the fear and hesitation in my smile and my eyes. 

Here is one of me after the workshop. 

Free of a heck of a lot of pain I’d been carrying around for many, many years. 

I’ve been back for 10 days and everything’s different now. I’m no longer slogging through my days like I’m underwater. I’m no longer triggered by a zillion things. And i feel content and creative and grateful. And I’m going to let my light shine. 

It’s Just That Everything Changed

I think I’ve come down off the intense high I was on when I got home from Alaska, but it still seems tricky to write about what I experienced. I’ll give it a try.

I gave myself plenty of room in my suitcases to be able to bring things home from Alaska. But the best stuff I bought home wasn’t in my suitcase. It was in me.

As we flew from Seattle to Anchorage in a completely full plane, I turned on my music about 45 minutes from landing. I’ve mentioned elsewhere how much I enjoy listening to my music on shuffle. It’s like the fun of listening to the radio as a teen but with all songs that I like and the ability to skip one if I like. Anyway, I noticed as we were coming closer to landing that a song called “Little Butterfly” had begun to play.

Photo credit: Meeee
Photo credit: Also meeee and my iPhone

Someone had told me that flying into Anchorage means flying over water until the very last minute. She said she always is afraid the plane is going to land in the water. So, I was expecting to be over water until the last minute. Didn’t know how beautiful it was going to be.

So, “Little Butterfly.” It’s a song about the transformation that a caterpillar undergoes in becoming a butterfly. Some favorite lines:

I have lived all alone in a world without light.
I have lived in a cell without bars, without sight.
While longing for meadows, and fields full of flowers,
Pain and confusion have filled lonely hours.

A whisper was there each time that I cried,
Saying, “Don’t give up, child, keep hope alive.”
Hope seemed a thing as distant and far
as the most distant galaxy, the most distant star.

I don’t know how many readers will click on the link and listen to this beautiful song, but here it is. 

The entire song is about growth and rebirth. I was going to Alaska knowing that I was ready for growth and rebirth. I was so tired and really needed something. As we came closer to landing, Jana sang:

When my friends now, they call my new name,
And I smile at the promise that my new name brings.
They call me, “Little Mariposa” “Little Butterfly”
And my heart takes wing.

The wheels touched the runway at the exact second she sang the word Mariposa. I was thrilled with the serendipity, but the best was definitely yet to come.

Full lyrics for the song:

Esther Alvarado, Ginger Baker, Jana Stanfield
(with an excerpt from “Butterfly” by Joyce Rouse and Jana Stanfield)

I have lived all alone in a world without light.
I have lived in a cell without bars, without sight.
While longing for meadows, and fields full of flowers,
Pain and confusion have filled lonely hours.
I have wanted to fly, to soar over green fields,
But the hard shell around me would not crack, would not yield.
I felt bound to the earth, wrapped in ribbons of steal,
It hurt when I hoped, it hurt when I’d feel.

Yet even as I yearned so much for release,
Something inside spoke softly of peace.
A whisper was there each time that I cried,
Saying, “Don’t give up, child, keep hope alive.”
Hope seemed a thing as distant and far
as the most distant galaxy, the most distant star.
I did not believe I would ever be free
of the heavy cocoon covering me.

Then slowly, so slowly, came a glimmer of light,
It scared me a t first, this first bit of sight.
There were others around me. Why had they come?
Why had they entered my dark, lonely home?
And then, one by one, they reached out a hand
and lifted the ribbons of steel, strand by strand.
When their hands touched the ribbons, the steel fell away,
And I began to feel different in this lightness of day.

They smiled, they rejoiced, and I heard a song,
One that had played in my heart all along,
These are the words the song sings to me,
This is what it says:

“I can feel a change is coming, I can feel it in my skin
I can feel myself outgrowing, This life I’ve been living in
And I’m afraid, afraid of change,
Butterfly, please tell me again, I’m gonna be all right”

And I know, I know, I’m going to be all right.
And I know, I know, I will take flight.
When my friends now, they call my new name,
And I smile at the promise that my new name brings.
They call me, “Little Mariposa” “Little Butterfly”
And my heart takes wing.

Sorry for the Silence; I’ve been Clearing Space For Joy

Last post, I mentioned I was heading to Alaska. Been there, done that, and am easing back into daily posting with this beautiful art by Lucy Prior from Australia.

‘Getting Back on the Horse’, lino print, mixed media. This is about the journey of loss, grief and getting back into life. by Australian artist Lucy Prior. See more of her work and read about her at

The Process of Preparing for a Trip

All y’all probably have your packing and preparations down pat and don’t stress out the day of a trip. I, on the other hand, tend to wake up on a travel day with some anxiety.

You see, I make my travel plans for sometime in the future and then proceed to pretty much forget about them until either the day of or the day before. I’ve always preferred to pack at the last minute, but I also recognize that I worry then about forgetting something. Of course, forgetting something probably wouldn’t be the end of the world. I have proof of this from a trip Greg and I took years ago where we were packing our clothing in the same suitcase and he alertly removed my little stack o’ undies in order to reorganize the clothing, but he left the little stack o’ undies on the closet shelf. TMI! But we made it through and I’m here to tell about it.

It’s been over a year since I have been preparing for a trip, so I decided to see what I might apply with all my new learnings about offloading mental things into a written list, and asking questions, etc.

First thing I did was to ask myself what result I wanted from packing. Seems like an obvious question, right? But asking it helped me to think about the fact that there are two fairly different portions of this upcoming trip which will require different types of clothing. When I realized exactly what kind of clothes I wanted for Part A, and what kind for Part B, it helped me relax about figuring out what to take.

Next thing I did was eschew my policy of bringing all the groceries in in one trip, no matter how many bags there are. What I mean by that is sometimes I tend to think too small, too “efficient,” and it limits me unnecessarily. When I decided to just take two suitcases instead of cramming everything into one suitcase, my stress level dropped considerably.

First thing before the first thing actually was to use my wunderlist app to offload everything I could think of that I needed to pack and do before we leave. Although I did that instead of sleep for part of the night, I was glad to wake up and have the list already made. So far today, I have completed 36 of the 51 items. I love crossing things off of a list just about as much as I love having a list.

So I’m still in process, but I feel confident that I will be prepared, and that if I forget something it will be provided for me. I feel confident that I am leaving my family prepared for the upcoming week. And I’m excited about my trip.

You have probably figured out I am heading to Alaska later today. North to the Future!

Bonus! The reader who comes up with the most creative reason why I might be going to Alaska will receive a little something from my trip. Leave your suggestion in the comments.

Why I Recommend the Movie “Driving Lessons”

  1. Ben Kingsley. A wonderful actor. His character is appealing and interesting and I learned things.
  2. Patricia Clarkson. I happen to like her a lot and she was perfect for this character.
  3. There were multiple parallels between Clarkson’s character’s experience learning to drive and her (and our) experience navigating change.
  4. The temple and wedding scenes are a rich tapestry for the eyes. It makes me want to look into the role that color plays in the clothing of Indian men and women. Just beautiful.
  5. I’m all about movies about men and women of a certain age who are still vibrant and willing to learn and able to pick up the pieces and try again.
  6. I felt good at the end of the movie.
  7. Even though the harder choice, not the typical romantic movie choice, was made by the main character.
  8. It was a great reminder of how important community is to our mental health and enjoyment of our lives.
  9. And how staying home out of fear keeps us so limited in our understanding and experiences.
  10. Helped me empathize with the experiences of those of other cultures who are assimilating into American culture.

There are hundreds of reviews of every movie out there. I can only tell you why I liked it. I know that some who read this blog will identify with a lot of these reasons. It’s worth seeing. There was one small issue for me — the camera work made me just a little motion sick, so if that’s an issue for you, maybe watch it on the small screen.

And a wonderful birthday was had by all

How sweet it is to be loved.

By husband. By children. By parents. By sisters. By friends.

While Greg and I were out for awhile today, dear daughter helped Kepler wrap a gift for me. Remember that Kepler dearly loves his stuffed animals. And when i opened the gift he had wrapped, here is what I found.

Coont. Dog. And Bird. The actual possession of the animals will not change hands. After all, they are his lovies. But how precious is that that he wrapped them for me to celebrate my birthday?

How sweet it is to be loved.

By the way …

50. I like knowing that I can trust my intuition.

51. I love that I finally discovered David Foster Wallace and love his writing with the love of a thousand eagles.

52. I like that I am an exceptionally reasonable person.

53. I love that I am generous. Didn’t already say that one, did I??

There. The list is complete.

Now I have a challenge for you. Make your own list. Write down 54 things that you like about you. And then tell me you did it and what it was like. Or even send me the list. I’d love to read 54 things you like about you.

It took me a few days to write my list. You might be able to write them all in one hour, but probably not. Stick with it. Once you have your list in written form, it’s there permanently. Perhaps your list could even be a guest post on my blog. I love you all, readers.

54 things i like about me

Feel very free to skip this post. I grew up in a world where pride in oneself was a sin. There was no place that i could see where it was ok to be content with something about myself or even proud of something about myself. So, knowing that there are others for whom accepting compliments and acknowledging stengths can be a challenge, i am choosing today to model what it looks like to see positive things within. 

Note that i could write a similar post about all the mistakes i have made and the things i wish i could do or be differently, but today i’m going to focus on the positives. 

1. I like that i made a working hydraulic ram for the science fair with the help of a missionary who was building actual hydraulic rams in africa to get water to villages.

2. I like being ambidextrous in many things and i would like to learn to write with my right hand as well.

3. I like my toes. 

4. I like that i have dreams while i sleep that allow my subconscious to communicate with my conscious mind.

5. I love that I got to go to Wheaton and get such a good education.

6. I love being able to sit down at the piano and create music that i enjoy.

7. I like my skin tones.

8. I like my eyelashes.

9. I love that i got to live in Australia.

10. I love that my soul resonates with beauty in nature — mountains, water, the stars, wilderness.

11. I love being a lifelong learner.

12. I like that i am creative.

13. I like being able to feel deep joy when listening to music.

14. I like my handwriting. 

15. I like my legs.

16. I like my sense of humor.

17. I like my sense of adventure.

18. I like that i have learned that I’m much less important than I thought I was.

19. I like the part I often play in the group process which takes the group to a deeper, more intimate level.

20. I like my appreciation of and desire for order. 

21. I like the fact that my eyes can detect slight nuances of color and my ears can detect slight nuances of sound.

22. I like my willingness to sometimes buy things that will enhance my life even if they are not on sale.

23. I like being a good listener.

24. I like that i have been willing and am willing to continue learning through the experience of motherhood.

25. I love that i got to give birth to five marvelous children.

26. I love my ability to see wonder in small things.

27. I love my willingness to ask questions and to live with the questions even though it is my natural inclination to want answers.

28. I love my desire to allow my children to walk their own paths and my choice to support them on their paths. 

29. I love myself for having the presence of mind to marry that Greg Taylor fellow.

30. I like that short little me ran hurdles on the track team in 9th grade.

31. I love it that i spent a summer in Alaska when I was 18.

32. I love my desire to say “yes, and” to the many curves that life does throw.

33. I love my willingness to have Lasik eye surgery a few years ago after wearing glasses since age 7. It’s magical to be able to see without glasses.

34. I love the courage i had in australia which culminated in me being in a bona fide rock band for a year.

35. I love my brain even though the way i think seems to bring tremendous challenges my way regularly.

36. I like that i have no need whatsoever to change anyone’s mind on the internet.

37. I love that i am a solutions-oriented person. 

38. I love it that I am a writer and that I write.

39. I love that i got to meet Bono, mostly because of the whole day and how it all happened and what characteristics i showed that helped it happen.

40. I like that i have a modicum of computer literacy and know how to get answers to my questions. 

41. I like that my life verse is Galatians 5:22-23: But the fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control. Against such things there is no law.

42. I love that i have mostly wonderful memories of my parents and feel blessed to have had dad as a father and to have mom as a mother. 

43. I like how i miss such obvious things because there’s nothing like realizing something has been right in front of you all along. 

44. I’m glad i have come to believe that we all have the answers we need within, and that sometimes it still helps to have someone help us access them. 

45. I love that my life was forever changed by the experience of having the one and only Jim Young as a theatre prof at Wheaton. 

46. I love that i have a wealth of good childhood memories of magical times on grandma’s farm. 

47. I love the ever-changing balance of masculine and feminine energy i possess.

48. I like that I am a friendly person.

49. I like my strong bones. (Bomes, as Kepler calls them.)

50. 54 things is a lot of things. 

51. And i still need three more to get there.

52. Unless i cheat by having this conversation.

53. Because no one is still reading. 

54. I like my ability to finish things, although my ability not to finish things may be more highly developed.

The Toothy Trials of Toasty Taylor

Mugshot of dog criminal 3589651-34.

He looks sooo innocent. 

And he is. He chews because he has to. I know that, but i don’t care much for it when he decides to chew on me. As a matter of fact, it can make me quite cantankerous and cross.

The dog trainer instructed us to give Toast a toy to chew on when he needs to chew. And we do, but some mornings he’s so joyful about the new day, he just wants me to be as excited as he is. 

(An aside: the one dog we had as children was being cared for by a neighbor boy while we were on vacation. Or maybe i should say “cared for.” When we got home, Bernadine had chewed the daylights out of the living room couch. Only one end, but she really did a number on it.)

So, I went into this knowing that puppies chew! But I forgot how “good” it feels to have one chew on your hand or arm. We’re all learning. I’ve learned to put Kepler up high in the morning when he’s just getting started, or sometimes to put Toast back into his crate when i need more than two hands and two feet to handle everything at once.

I think I like him pretty well. I know Kepler does!