Monday, June 16, 2014

Comin' up on the Jesus Year...

I've generally been the youngest in the group, whatever the group may have been… playground, locker room, homeroom class, new job or office, new tribe of friends. And as many of near-peers turn 33 in the year before I do, I get to look ahead this summer to my coming Jesus Year.

You're familiar, right? Even Urban Dictionary has an entry. And it's perfectly succinct: it's the year to get things done.

Over the last couple weeks, between a relaxing vacation, the new dog's ongoing antics, increasing work responsibilities, SIBO diet living, and the wonder of these long pre-summer days and evenings, my personal philosophy has (suddenly) expanded.

Please allow me one bit of back story first. Every family has it's lore and legends; in my family, there's a piece of lore that places me at about age 8 or 9, when my mother was having some normal-for-her, low-level, anxiety-filled, long verbal run-on about life, and challenges, and what does it all mean. When she turned the question to me, I said, "Don't ask me, Mom. I'm just a kid." Everyone laughed. And in a similar episode a few months later (as noted, this sort of out-loud rumination was the usual at home), I quipped back, "God, Mom. The point of life is that you make mistakes, and then you learn." (I do not remember the former exchange; I do remember the latter. We were at Murphy Lake and I wanted to touch the antlers of the stuffed elk in velvet on the wall but knew I was not allowed to.)

So this may have been my own self-stated guiding philosophy about life - from age 9, until very recently.

And suddenly… it feels sudden, having bubbled up in the past few weeks… I've decided that life is now about two other things entirely. It's about losing judgement, and it's about not being first.

I am a very judgmental person; I know how you should live your life, AND why. And I will happily tell you. Or if I don't know you, or you won't listen, I'll happily tell one of my friends. And now that I'm walking a little red dog around the block in a damn raincoat, a sweet little red dog that goes ballistic at the sight of another dog, I'm thinking, "Well, fuck." I didn't teach the dog to bark like that; he's not reactive because of me. But it sure as shit looks that way. And I don't love putting a raincoat on a dog, but he reacts to it a lot like he reacts to the Thundershirt and any way to take the edge off his anxiety is a good way to go. So I mosey along with our raincoats, and realize that I would normally look at me and judge the hell out of me. Uh-oh. Jesus Year. That means I have to start understanding people better. Give them more slack. Really, deeply believe they're doing the best they can with the tools they have - and not just say it.

And secondly (ha ha!), it's time to no longer be first. Who is not first in their own lives? Well - parents, for one. And spiritual leaders. And people dedicated to their jobs as deep vocations and true callings. In other words: the good eggs. The good eggs don't think about being first, and don't think about putting their own desires, satisfactions, whims, needs, moods, recognition and preferences first. The good eggs do make certain their own needs are met - sure, of course they do. But they do so mostly because it makes them better people who can turn around and better be able to serve and love the world. And you know what? For the first time in my selfish little life, that sounds really delightful. I get it. I paid lip service to not being first, but all along, I knew this was my movie, my soundtrack, and you were all supporting players. But this new philosophy - boy, does it take a huge load off. I don't have to be the center of my own universe. I can cook, read, play, love, work and write - like I do, and enjoy, of course - but it all doesn't have to be So God Damn Important. What a relief. To loosen my grip.

I mean - a bit. I'm not letting go, just letting up. I still think you're a huge fucking asshole if you take the outside seat on a bus. Just move goddamn over, dude.

Monday, June 2, 2014


The list of products purchased for one little shelter dog, who no one would have missed from the world had we not gotten him (I refuse to say adopted; he is not a child):

  • Walking harness
  • Leash
  • Front-clip walking harness
  • Kong toy
  • Second Kong toy
  • Head halter
  • Dog bed
  • Kennel
  • Doghouse
  • Special couch blanket
  • Interactive chewy ball
  • Container to hold both kongs and chewy ball
  • Two toys and one nylabone he will not use
  • Citronella spray collar
  • A series of 7 disgustingly ugly Ikea rugs for the main level of our home so that he can stop skittering across the hardwoods in terror
  • Clicker
  • a LOT of treats
  • Thundershirt (monogrammed - thanks to John, not me; he loves personalization!)