How about here. The world is (apparently!) full of good and kind people, as those seem to be the only kind I’m meeting. I have met so many of them since I started this journey just three days ago. I have also had the chance to be one of them.
And here. If you’re not familiar with the concert scene, at least for the bands I’ve seen, there is a beautiful camaraderie among the fans of the band. All three nights I have met good and kind people.
While standing in line waiting to get in, it’s only natural to ask the people around me how they heard of Frost* and if they’ve seen the band before. From there, we rhapsodize about all things and people prog rock: Steven Wilson, Porcupine Tree, Steven’s other projects, John Mitchell’s other projects. The people I have met in line, oh, they get why we are passionate about this music.
The first night, I met Dave and Robert. Robert is the foster dad of a special needs son. Dave is a lovely man who discounted his own journey to the concert when he found out how far I had come. The second night, I met Iain and Sean, both Scots, both musicians. Tonight, I met Dave, Paul, and Paul’s son, Matt. Paul is a management consultant, which is what Greg has done for many years of his work life.
I am so grateful that I have met people each night that connect with my three deepest passions: special needs, music, and my wonderful husband.
Apparently, my journey has caught the attention of a few people. The drum tech tonight noticed my American accent and asked if I was the one he had seen in the Facebook comments who had traveled so far.
The venue was so small tonight, I had the opportunity to tell the lead singer of Quantum Pig how very much I am enjoying their music and how much I appreciate the thoughtfulness of their lyrics. I told him I feel like I lucked out getting such a great opening band experience to go along with Frost*.
In the parlance of Radical Honesty, I make myself grateful and joyful to be having this experience. Two more concerts; three more days and I’ll already be journeying back to my home and my loves. Thanks for reading!
I am in England today. I arrived yesterday in the morning and was very busy getting my English sea legs yesterday.
I did not anticipate how much the public transportation in this country would seem like a dictionary with all the words in the wrong places. Maybe you know the Brits depend on their public transportation to get everywhere. I didn’t research it thoroughly. How hard could it be, I thought? Ha. Not hard, as much as challenging to pore over the many, many options to unfamiliar towns. Not to mention, there is a bit of a to-do with the train service as there is a strike so travel can be a little more challenging or exciting, depending on your point of view.
The shorter version of what brought me over is that my favorite band is doing a five night tour and I imagined I’d like to attend all five concerts. You will never have heard of them, but I do recommend them. I happened upon them about 7 years ago and I love the music.
Concert 1 of 5 was last night. That’s another story in itself. I’m currently on a train heading from Wolverhampton to Edinburgh. Because of the strike, I have to change trains instead of rolling straight through but Greg encouraged me to get a first class train ticket, for which I am very grateful.
Apropos of nothing, when I was a kid there was a very nice woman who was a cashier at a nearby Kroger. She had an actual beard. If I remember correctly, she shaved it, but I found it fascinating to see a woman with a beard.
In those days, there were only a few Kroger stores. But since all companies believe that MOAR is BETTER, they expanded and expanded and expanded and now there are at least five Krogers within 10 minutes of our home.
Remember I worked at Kroger for a minute back in 2012 and then again in 2018. My stint in 2018 started out being one of the most enjoyable jobs I had ever had. When I left in 2019 I was a little salty about Kroger corporate and their complete disconnect from what it’s like to work as an associate.
I’ve noticed over these past few years that Kroger has come up with MOAR and “BETTER” ways for one to save money. Used to be, they just had weekly specials.
Then they added the Shoppers Card which you had to have in order to get the weekly special prices.
Next they added Buy 5, Save $5. (Eventually Buy 5, Save $5 turned into Buy 5, Save 50 cents per item, cutting in half the savings).
Later came fuel points, which you get 1 to 1, except for certain special purchases when you can double or quadruple your points.
Later I started seeing special junk food deals in the aisle Buy 2 or 4 (bags of chips), save $2. (This is not to be confused with B5S5 because they are COMPLETELY different savings opportunities.)
Then Kroger started mailing coupons to me for things I already buy. (Thank you, Kroger)
Next complication opportunity was Digital Coupons. These are coupons you can download on your phone but must have downloaded to avail yourself of.
Now they have Cash Back where you can accumulate actual money when you buy certain products and then cash it out. I’m not all that familiar with this one yet.
Another whole program is called Points-Rewards-Plus Gaming. This is a cash back program on products that gamers apparently like. Looks like a lot of macaroni and cheese, snacks, pop.
So we went from some coupons in the Sunday newspaper to at least seven different ways to save money.
FINALLY this week my brain put it all together. I have to PRE-SHOP. I go to the Kroger website and look through all the coupons, and then look through all the digital coupons, and look at all the B5S50 products. Lastly, I must remember to take my paper coupons and then tackle the store. Pre-shopping is SO much easier than arriving at the store and discovering what is on sale for Buy 5, Save 50 cents, what has a digital coupon, whether Tostitos products are Buy 4, Save heckin money, and which of my staple items happen to be on sale so I can plan to stock up.
It’s like studying for a test. And this week I got an A. I saved 13% which worked out to $24.25 in savings. I promise you I wouldn’t have saved that much without the pregame.
If I were one of those newfangled youngsters, I’d make this into a tik tok and it would surely go viral. But I may be at my limit of social media apps and platforms right now. Have not delved into tik tok yet.
Oh, I almost forgot. There’s this entire subculture of pickup and delivery, for which there are special coupons and deals and subscriptions and Things to Know. I’ll shop for myself, thanks. But I am glad these other ways of shopping exist for people who either don’t have the time or energy or desire to shop for themselves.
So I’ve made my peace with Kroger. I still believe corporate is out of touch with associates, but I think I’m finally getting how this whole savings game works. I bet you can too!
LPT: You don’t have to put u-scan items on the bagging area. I found out you can scan them and bag them right into your cart. My reusable bags always fall off the bagging area, and I’m not trying to have more inconvenience. I love being able to scan items and bag them without putting them in the bagging area. No more scanning five different packages of the same item and waiting for each weight to register in the bagging area. Now I can scan one package five times. I don’t even have to get the other four out of my cart.
Wow, this has been full of info. If you read this far, GOLD STAR. As always, remember your reusable bags. Thank you for coming to my Ted Talk.
Raised in the christian home I was, I grew up a “one-issue” voter. I voted for people then that I would never vote for now all because they claimed to be “pro-life.” My philosophy was I would never have an abortion because I believed that no matter what, god would have a plan and everything would be ok. I went through all of my childbearing years with a strong no-abortion-for-me policy. That was right for me. The end.
I get to make decisions for myself about my own body. I want all women to have that same freedom. Just because I got pregnant unexpectedly and chose to keep the baby simply does not mean that should be the only option for every other woman. I hear anti-choice people claiming that “they” are using abortion as birth control. As in, women just have sex with whomever whenever and if a pregnancy occurs, welp just get an abortion, easy-peasy.
I used to resist using the term anti-choice because I liked the *idea* of pro-life, that is, being *pro* about *life.* Unfortunately, while there are certainly people doing good work to help the underprivileged and marginalized in our society, there are also people who identify as pro-life (and who have never experienced poverty) who are decidedly anti-life when it comes to providing assistance for the poor and those in systemic generational poverty. See https://familyandcommunityimpact.org/why-dont-poor-people-just-work-harder-poverty-stress-and-getting-stuck-in-reverse/ I have come to agree that anti-choice is a better description.
I hear pro-choice people who say there should be no limits whatsoever to when an abortion is done. (or maybe that’s anti-choice people characterizing what they imagine pro-choice beliefs are).
I hear anti-choice people say that pro-choice people would be just fine with killing a born baby because they are just that heartless and selfish.
I hear anti-choice people say let’s just all give money to crisis pregnancy centers to they can make the “beautiful choice” to give life.
We probably all know people who have either adopted or been adopted.
I love that my friend, S, has adopted two children and given them a wonderful life. I have no idea if there have been any challenges related to the adoption. Social media indicates that things are mostly good in their family.
I love that my friend, R, adopted two orphans and did her damnedest to give them a wonderful life. The two girls grew up to be teenagers who accused their adoptive father of sexual abuse, of which he was cleared after a long and painful battle, and still has to be on the sexual offender list. This family has endured years of pain from their choice to adopt.
I love that my friend, T, adopted her nephew who was abandoned by his mother, and how much she loved that boy and how heartbreaking it was when he was diagnosed with Reactive Attachment Disorder. My friend endured all manner of pain at the hands of this much-loved child.
If you want to adopt a baby or place a baby for adoption, that is your choice to make. If a woman does not want to have the baby she is pregnant with, as hard as it might be to accept, that is her choice to make. Women get pregnant all the time with babies they are ill-equipped to care for. Sometimes they already have children they cannot adequately provide for. Sometimes they have health conditions that make pregnancy a high risk to endure. Sometimes they might just say, “I do not want to have a baby.”
I hear anti-choice people say the time to choose is before you get pregnant. This is one of the most simplistic things I have ever heard. This statement assumes all sorts of things:
the woman is in full control of her sexual activity (i.e., there is only consensual sex to which a woman is fully agreeable to):
a woman knows and understands her reproductive monthly cycle and can always decide whether this act of intercourse might result in pregnancy:
women always have access to birth control and have no problems using it, nor do pregnancies ever occur while a woman is on birth control
women and girls are never subject to unwanted sex from relatives (incest) or strangers/friends (rape):
there is always “a [good] reason” that a pregnancy occurs and therefore a woman should always go through with the pregnancy.
Look, none of the issues we are facing are black and white. As much as I want women to be able to choose whether or not to give birth, there are aspects of the process that involve choice and some that do not. The decision of what a woman can do with her body in terms of pregnancy is best left up to the woman herself and is definitely the main aspect that involves choice. Doesn’t matter what I or you or Aunt Jennifer thinks about abortion. What matters is what the individual woman decides to do with her own body.
No one individual can turn the tide of injustice we see in our “justice” system, our prison system, the roadblocks set up for the poor to make their way out of poverty, the oppression of women, the abandonment of children, and the income gap between the haves and the have-nots. One individual can do what they can to embody “Better to light a candle than to curse the darkness.” (https://www.amnesty.org/en/)
Without explaining all of what radical honesty is in this post, i will link to a song that clearly describes the idea of sharing your feelings out loud. You can listen HERE.
Kepler and I love to listen to music in the car. I enjoy much of the music he listens to. He enjoys *some* of mine. When I returned from my weekend workshop, I found this brand new song and I shared it with Kepler. We belt out the chorus together, “Say it out loud, say it out clear, say what you want, and what you fear. Speak out when you’re angry, say it out loud. Show the world what you’re all about.”
I have been introducing him to the idea of noticing what he feels in his body when he is feeling an emotion. “Do you feel anything in your tummy? Do you feel anything in your chest?” Yes, he will tell me. Slowly, we are making the connection together that emotion has a physical component.
Slowly he is discovering he doesn’t have to suppress his feelings. I imagine Kepler is an easygoing soul and has learned not to express the difficult feelings he has, meaning anger or fear. He has instead chosen to “shut down,” which is to say, withdraw from the situation in all ways except physically, and even physically at school where he has the option to go to the “quiet room” to recover.
Today Greg asked Kepler and me to come outside and help pick up sticks.
Keppie put on his crocs, which didn’t work well for him, so he went back in to change shoes. Once he got back and resumed picking up the sticks, he got a scratch on his ankle and decided he wanted to go in and put on socks. But Greg said no. Kepler shut down, continued to pick up sticks, but became uncommunicative.
Afterwards, I told him all of his feelings are ok. I also said sometimes we have to do things we don’t want to do. I said sometimes I feel angry when I have to do something I don’t want to do. I said “It is ok to tell dad you are mad at him for not letting you put on socks.” He looked at me for a long minute. “I need some alone time.” After awhile, I got a text from him. “Sorry mom, I’m ok.” And a little while later, “Say it out loud right mom i got it.”
Later, he was getting a snack before he and Greg went to run an errand. Greg said, “You can eat the snack!” Kepler stopped in his tracks. And I reminded him “Say it out loud! Say it out clear!”
And do you know what he said?
“Dad, I was scared when you told me i can eat my snack.”
And Greg replied, “You were scared? What I meant was there is time to eat your snack before we go to the store.” And I could see in Kepler’s face, the emotion was resolved.
I imagine I am ecstatic at his willingness to express a scary feeling out loud. I imagine I am so very proud of him for being willing to take a risk and say it out loud. Where will this Radical Honesty journey take us next?
Those are extra fancy congratulations! And they are in order for me and my friend.
When I was in high school, zooming off in the morning to school in my excellent 1980 Mercury Monarch, my sisters and I were busy at school with cheerleading, basketball, volleyball, being beautiful (mostly my youngest sister on that one), getting into trouble (youngest two sisters you know who you are), softball, homework and friends. We zoomed back home late at night and kept up that pace most every day.
I barely noticed new neighbors moving in across the street. I noticed what I imagined to be cool things like motorcycles, fast cars, and people coming and going at all hours of the day and night. I could only imagine what kind of hijinks they were up to. These new neighbors weren’t like the old ones, from what I could see. I imagine my own preoccupations took up my brain space and I never once thought to go over and welcome them to the neighborhood. (A belated welcome, BCDC).
Soon I graduated and moved away. The neighbors traded the fast cars for a minivan and the people coming and going for trips to the pool and well-baby checkups as their children came along. When I finally moved back to my hometown, I had four children under the age of 6 months (exaggeration). However old my kids were, my brain was completely preoccupied with their safety, emotional well-being, and their questions (appx 24 per hour).
Neighbors kids grew up, like kids go. My kids grew up. Long story short, I moved with Greg and Kepler back to the street where I grew up. Really only saw the neighbors in passing. I fancied myself a victim of multiple traumas from the past and present and was again preoccupied with my own stuff.
Then last summer my phone rang and on the other end was this neighbor. 40 years and we’re about to have our first conversation. He asked if I was available to help with some daily physical therapy tasks he needed to do to get back on his feet after a couple surgeries. I said yes.
Weeks passed and we completed the first phase of his therapy, and moved into a new phase of really focusing on strength and mobility. Three, or four, or five times a week, we met for a hour and I “put him through his paces.”
I imagine I did a whole lot of talking in the beginning. I imagine I heard lots of (very interesting) stories about his life and experiences. I imagine I might have given TMI because I was so engrossed with the urgency of my experience with my son and his addiction, and the importance of multiple other situations in my life.
We took a break for a month over December because of health issues and Christmas. When we returned to working together, I was in the throes of grief about the very recent addiction-fueled events that had broken my trust and my heart. I imagine my friend is steady, faithful, and unflappable. I appreciate that about him.
The birth of their first grandchild was quickly approaching and then it came and I imagine I experienced an immense privilege in getting to celebrate with them. Although my friend is open with friends about his experiences I notice I want to protect his privacy so I am including no photos of him or his most adorable grandbaby.
Now, almost a year to the day of the phone call, my friend has graduated to an entirely new phase of physical activity and vibrancy, and has the privilege of going to a health facility to use and enjoy the workout equipment. We have completed our work together. I imagine I feel bittersweet about this milestone. I am so happy he is ready to move on, and I will so much miss seeing him and having that hour multiple times a week to catch up on all the little details of life.
I stepped outside my quiet hotel into a hullabaloo of sounds and sights. My Ohio-accustomed eyes, even opened as wide as they go, aren’t quite large enough to take in the long line of cars sitting through light after light without moving, the construction barriers, and nine million of my closest friends. I notice two men pushing carts filled with what looks like the type of mini-fridge that I had in my room. My little fridge had two free cans of ”still water” which i left alone for the entire weekend. Sure enough they didn’t move. Truth in advertising.
One cart bore four fridges and the other carried eight. The men wheeled the carts to the curb. From what I can gather, people put their trash out at the curb in large trash bags or set large items out as-is. As the men placed the fridges at the curb, they were having an animated conversation about the process. Curious as to what exactly I was witnessing, i asked if the fridges were broken. ”No,” he said in a caribbean accent, ” they are getting new ones.” Turns out, the men who cart out the fine fridges make arrangements ahead of time for them to be picked up by recipients who will find them perfectly fine to use.
Two hard-hatted construction workers appeared and picked up one each then went around a construction barrier to place them in a vehicle maybe? Then they scurried back around and picked up the other two.
To my left, the first two men quickly began loading the other eight fridges into a minivan sitting in traffic that did not move the whe time i waited, about 20 minutes. They raised the back door and loaded in several then ran into a snag when it was time to open the side door to load more. The man clicked the key fob and pulled so hard the door bulged out a little. No dice. Then opened the front door and pressed the unlock button. Once again he nearly pulls the door off the van body. Still stuck. They give up and run around to the passenger side and load the other three into the van.
As they walk the cart back to the hotel the man says “would you like one, miss?” I had to decline as my carry-on would be a bit heavy and a bit bulky with a mini fridge sticking out the sides.
i smiled from beginning to end as I waited on the sidewalk for my driver to arrive. Everyone moves fast here except for the traffic and once the men transferred those fridges they quickly moved on to the next part of their day.
Right about then, my driver pulled up and parked in a wildly New York fashion at a jaunty angle and i jumped in not quite ready to leave this exhilarating place. I feel so alive. My smile comes from deep within and joyfully persists.
Keith has a special place in my heart. His first album came out when I was 17 and he then made six albums in the span of seven years, every one of which I bought, listened to on the 70’s version of repeat, and learned every word. I remember where I was when I heard he had been killed with two of his children and others from the ministry on July 28, 1982. Since this was before the days of the 24-hour news cycle, I didn’t actually learn about it until a few weeks later.
I decided to revisit Keith’s music today. Unlike some other christian musicians, Keith seemed to be absolutely earnest in his faith. He became a believer at age 21, and he died at age 28. His fervor was the faith of the young believer, passionate about this story of good news that changed his life so drastically.
I loved Keith and his music. I actually still do.
In some ways, nothing was different back then. People were still people; there was brokenness; there were many who professed to have “The Answer,” but *we* knew what the real answer was, didn’t we.
He knew how to write worship music that had meaning.
“Oh Lord, You’re beautiful, Your face is all I see, For when Your eyes are on this child, Your grace abounds in me. … I want to take Your Word and shine it all around But first help me just to live it, Lord, And when I’m doing well, help me to never seek a crown, For my reward is giving glory to You.” (Oh Lord, You’re Beautiful, 1980)
He inspired me to be better, to take care of people in need. But he also tapped into my shame in songs like Asleep in the Light, “How can you be so dead, when you’ve been so well fed? Jesus rose from the grave, and you! you can’t even get out of bed.” and My Eyes are Dry, “My eyes are dry, my faith is old, my heart is hard, my prayers are cold.” and How Can They Live Without Jesus, “For maybe they don’t understand it, or maybe they just haven’t heard, or maybe we’re not doin’ all we can, living up to His holy word.”
He spoke my heart in a lot of his songs, both in my natural desire to be a kind and compassionate person, and the pain in my heart which came from being in need and having Christians either hurt me because of their own brokenness, or hear me ask for something and say like Keith sang, “And you turn them away as you smile and say God bless you, be at peace and all heaven just weeps, ’cause Jesus came to your door and you’ve left Him out in the streets.”
I think the pinnacle of his music was The Prodigal Son Suite. Here are the lyrics. (I’d love it if readers took the time to listen to this beautiful song.)
There’s obviously a lot of water under the bridge between the years Keith was making music and where we are now. I’m sure there are developmental phases that I have gone through that have contributed to where I am now and I’ve retained some of what he inspired in me and have rejected some of what he spoke about me as a christian and a person.
I truly want to love people. Kindness and compassion are my jam. And I do it in the context of having struggled my entire life with believing I am enough.
Christianity told me I most certainly am not enough. See Romans 7:18, “For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out.” (ESV) Colossians 3:5 says, “Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.” (ESV). I know I have a few readers who are familiar with the Bible and who will want to explain how these verses do not mean what I think they mean. The point is that the Bible is about an external standard, through and through, and humans, because they are born with a sin nature, can never measure up. That’s the whole point of Jesus; he makes it possible for us to measure up.
I no longer accept this premise. What I loved about Keith is that what he cared about was living for and like Jesus as best as he could (as far as I could tell). But he was also subject to the shame and guilt which rose from not being enough like Jesus. Guilt and shame have not been productive in my life. Christianity did not bring forth a pure heart, a renewed mind, a willingness to hate my family in the name of god, no matter how hard i prayed, submitted, read the bible, went to bible study, and applied my will. Sure, you can say that’s owing to my failings. But I say no. Humans are human, and there are other explanations for our humanity besides the Bible.
The Bible was also written a long time ago and we have learned so much about the human brain, about parenting, about developmental psychology, about socialization. Explanations for things in biblical times were appropriate for then, but they are incomplete or even incorrect for now.
One of the most important realizations I have come to is that Jesus can die for our sins all day long and twice on saturday, and unless we forgive ourselves, we forgive ourselves, we are not able to really appropriate what it means to be forgiven. Unless we can believe that we are “fearfully and wonderfully made” or just magnificent by virtue of being human, we will continue to struggle with believing we are worth loving, that we are indeed good enough, just by being perfectly imperfect.
Life is a journey, and I want to be present for it. I’m learning. The present is what we have. Now. This moment. That’s it. This is the moment I want to focus on. And so right now I take the plunge and press publish, even if this piece is only at best perfectly imperfect, just like I am.
Last summer, we decided to hire a personal trainer for Kepler. He had 30-minute sessions for several months, and graduated to hour sessions in February. His trainer, Pete, is creative, caring, professional, and a perfect fit for Kepler. One of their favorite activities is light saber battles, which usually happen near the end of the session. The pièce de résistance of the session, if you will.
Please note I am unable to post videos on my blog anymore, but this is a safe link to see an actual light saber battle (40 seconds long) between Pete and Kepler. https://imgur.com/1rhITkQ
Somehow there have been no injuries in all these months, even through all the thrusting and parrying. Finally, on Wednesday, Kepler accidentally poked Pete in the eye with his light saber. Kepler was devastated. He was very quiet in the car. Finally he said, “Mom, I’m not going to do light saber battle anymore.” I just said ok. No need to try to talk him out of his feelings. Here is the text exchange between them Wednesday evening.
I’ve noticed that Kepler has learned the skill of actually processing emotions and moving through them. He calls it “changing my heart.” So it’s been a couple days since the eye poke, and he was ready to respond to Pete.
After feelings those feelings, they began to dissipate and he was ready to accept that accidents happen and it wasn’t the end of the world. Having had many experiences of my own where the hurt feelings or shame or embarrassment got stuck right down in my bone marrow, I find Kepler’s emotional intelligence to be inspiring.
It’s been a minute, hasn’t it? I do love the illustration of my last post which was written way back in November 2020. Not to diss My Many Readers, but I daresay everyone has enough to read and ponder already, so probably no one has missed ye olde blog. Be that as it may, I did have a dream this morning where I was just trying to get home, but the dang street and the equally dang street signs went round and round in circles. It was like a Bollywood film set in a city in India, with people teeming, buildings looming, and my home and street eluding me. Finally woke myself up out of that to discover that my credit union played an April fools joke on me by deducting a $4000 check out of my account twice! Except it wasn’t a joke and they really did it.
In the meantime, Mr. ClearingSpace4Joy was off at the dentist getting his front tooth extracted. Yes, his front tooth. Seems that having a crown on a tooth for 50 years can sometimes make the tooth weaken and last evening he knew it was coming out. I let the Tooth Fairy know to be on the lookout, but I think he left the tooth at the dentist’s office. Came home with stitches in his mouth, an upper lip that doesn’t work right, a temporary bridge, and lots of pain. I reminded him that snitches get stitches but he didn’t think that was funny.
So I’ve been thinking about what I want to be when I grow up. But nothing comes to mind. I’ve tried a few things and didn’t like them, but even though I am a few years north of 29, I still think it’s possible to come up with some ideas. However, my Pesky Depression continually tells me that I’ll never amount to anything. Thank you, Pesky Depression. One thing I do think I’d like to be is a writer. Whether or not I have anything to say that more than a dozen people would want to read remains to be seen. And “a dozen” might be a little <optimistic> (wrong word but I’m waiting for the right word to enter stage right).
Today’s blog post is just my way of letting Pesky Depression know that it’s not winning today. It tried, bless its heart. I’ve committed to writing 750 words on 750words.com every day in the month of April. I love the first of the month, like I love Monday, and a new year, and any time there is the possibility of starting anew. This year started off pretty rough with a sad and traumatic event happening out of the blue, and this month also started off a bit rough (thanks, credit union!) but that doesn’t mean it has to continue that way. All I have is the present moment, and in this present moment, I choose to be a writer. Thanks for reading.