Persist!

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Day in and day out, the grind towards what we want to achieve and the end point until our goals are reached is often tiresome! It can drive us to the point of fatigue and even abandoning what it is we are pursuing! But in our makeup, our very biology, we have tenacity and persistence inherent within us. Life seems to persist through God’s design, for His purposes, and by His grace, in spite of what we do or attempt to do. Life and all living matter persist, beyond our own efforts to destroy things, beyond our knowledge, or in our careless abandonment, we can see it all around us. So, in our pursuit of life’s goals and our dreams, we shouldn’t let a few moments or periods of fatigue, brain fog, or disappointment take from us our inspiration, our intention, or our indefatigable drive! We’re made of tougher stuff than that!

We must persist in our efforts. We must learn by habit how to rely upon our muscles of patience, fortitude, and determination to see us through, rather than giving up somewhere along the way! At those key moments when all seems so overwhelming and the road ahead looms too long or taxing for any further effort, we need to hunker down into a stubborn gear on our inner gear shift, which takes us over the rough spots and the most challenging part of our goal ascent! Impossible you say?! I would argue that it’s harder to live with quitting, which forces upon us a lifetime of regret, wasted potential, and the repetitively spent energy of what if! One moment of fatigue can lead to a lifetime of why? Why did I quit? Why did I let my dream slip away? Why did I fail? Why didn’t I see it through? Why? Why? Why?!  

If you want something bad enough, you have to develop the habit of the “hunker down”, using the muscles of determination, patience, and fortitude when other fleeting emotions or feelings are telling you otherwise! I’m not suggesting you keep running into brick walls of impossibility, but if there is even a thought of finishing what you began in some pursuit of a goal or dream, then don’t let the efforts required in doing so dissuade you! The efforts are part of the big reward! The efforts are what make the end goal so much more enticing! Without the sweat, dogged pursuit, planning, and execution, there is little in which to be proud, to feel rewarded, or to claim your prize. There are no participation trophies for all. Only those who put in the time, effort, and endure for whatever amount of time is required to reach their goal will win!    

Reaching the goal is only a victory if you had to overcome some obstacle or find a way through some roadblocks. If it was easy, it wasn’t a very big goal! If it was something everyone could do or have, then it isn’t really much of a dream specific for you! I’m suggesting that you have within you limitless potential to overcome, to reach higher, to go further, and to attain some new level. But if you don’t persist in that disciplined challenge in a temporary moment when the pursuit seems too hard, difficult, pressing, taxing, overwhelming, or just too tiresome, then you will never know your full potential! Persist! If you want something, remember why when you hit the wall, and persist! 

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Baby Steps or Giant Leaps . .

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Often times, the person we’re hardest on in this life is ourselves! We set high goals or we have lofty expectations, which can lead us to feel disappointed when we come in with lesser achievements and accomplishments. Perhaps we’re in the process of reaching for more, of going for grander distances, pursuits, and for more overall. We might have wanted to hit some higher mark or reach some bigger result, but we mustn’t forget what baby steps or giant leaps we did take in pursuit of those goals! 

Yesterday, I was wanting to swim a significant distance. I planned on doing a distance swim which would have kept me moving towards an end goal I have for this season’s accomplishments. Last Summer, I had worked up to slightly over two miles of non-stop lap swimming in my pool by the end of the swimming season. I was thrilled to have reached that significant measured distance without stopping! So, this Summer, when the swimming season began back in May, I set out to beat my distance of last year. As of July 4th, just a few days ago, I reached the two-mile mark for non-stop lap swimming in my backyard pool! Pleased as punch with hitting that measurement, I will now endeavor to exceed that goal in my swimming for the remainder of the Summer. In pursuit of that goal though, yesterday’s swim was not as rewarding! I had to stop at 60 lengths of non-stop swimming, as I just ran out of steam before even hitting half a mile! I surely hadn’t fueled my body with proper nutrition for a longer swim. 

With such a brief swim in comparison to my two-mile swim just days ago, I felt disappointed and discouraged afterward. How was it that I could only do so few lengths of the pool just two days later? Well, in hindsight, I realize I am being really hard on myself for disparaging the swim I did yesterday. After all, those lengths I did swim without stopping still are significant! Yes, I wanted to do more, but I just couldn’t. However, I did swim anyway, which was better than not swimming at all! And I pushed myself during those 60 lengths of the pool, so I did give myself a workout in the process, although an abbreviated one compared to the longer swim I had planned on doing! Each swim does contribute to my overall conditioning and my training goals, after all. I just need to accept each day’s efforts as being worthwhile! Going easier on myself is key.  

It’s so easy to be hard on ourselves for not doing more or for not reaching interim goals we’ve set for ourselves. We forget to look at those interim steps we’re taking as being meaningful to the overall end goal. Every single step, no matter the size, is still getting us closer to something bigger. Every single time we participate in our pursuits, we’re developing literal or figurative muscles, which do help us perform more the next time! In my example, I am developing those literal swimming muscles and building my endurance, even if the distances I want to do aren’t always exceeding the last swim I actually did. And, each swim I take keeps me fit and ready for more, as my muscles remember the efforts both greater and lesser. 

We must remember to look at all the steps we’re taking as being successful, in that we’re moving consistently towards a goal ahead, even if some steps are baby-size and others are giant leaps! Each is a contribution towards reaching a goal we deem important for our lives overall! Remember to assess your progress in a way which is more accepting of the baby steps as well as the giant leaps. In doing that, you will be better able to contain your disappointment, to manage your progress, and to preserve your sense of encouragement along the way! Goals are always something we’re working towards, and in my case, even though I hit the goal of swimming non-stop consistently for two miles, I will want to see how much further I can swim non-stop anyway! My goal is inevitably a sliding one, and so my progress should be measured in turn – via sliding steps and flexible efforts! As long as I don’t give up because I don’t always hit my mark, I’m still moving forward towards reaching some end! Baby steps or giant leaps, I’m still making progress!    

Hope Is the Beating Heart . .

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Something sorely lacking from our society today is hope. Hope, the promise of something more than this life, something better tomorrow than today, is the fulfillment of God’s Word as truth. Hope is the beating heart which refuses to quit when every single impulse screams otherwise! Hope is looking through, beyond, and with your heart filled with promise because there is actually more than this, more than this one moment of pain, discomfort, failure, loss, and brokenness. Hope leads us each new day with faith into all the unknowns, beyond all our negativity, past our own emotions, and through all that seems to weaken our will. Hope. Hope in something more than this! Never cease in hoping, regardless those “realists” who insist that being hopeful is a weak man’s game played with no prize or victory in the end! There is always a reason to hope, and in spite of those intellectuals who insist otherwise, hope compels us to live with more joy, peace of mind, and contentment within. Hope is a reward in and of itself! A hopeful attitude keeps us afloat when others around us are drowning in uncertainty, despair, worry, or other temporary states of being! Hope within keeps us from letting our current emotions color our life for all time!

 

Sure, someone reading this may speak to the triteness of these expressions and adages regarding hope. They may have their own personal experiences to prove me wrong! They may have tried consistently to be hopeful, yet things never reversed or turned out otherwise! Perhaps they just let the world and their temporary circumstances define their lives in total. Letting others in this world, or even the present state of the world as you perceive it, dictate your emotions is like giving the keys to your home and car to another for safe keeping! Your emotions are in your control, they’re not contingent upon the actions, words, beliefs, or even emotions of others. Sure we may empathize or sympathize with others, we may share in many emotions such as joy. But we are the only ones who decide whether or not we are joyful, peaceful, content and hopeful about our lives now and in whatever time we face ahead! Hope is our choice to believe that this life is purposeful, meaningful, and even with momentary hardships, failures, or despair, that this life is worth living!  

A lot of what our lives become is in our will and hands to decide! Our emotions surely are, even if circumstances, events, and the state of the world overall are not. We could just go with the flow, allowing our lives to become purely reactionary in response, rather than purposefully choosing to be hopeful in spite of whatever happens to us or around us! Hope is God’s promises for our lives realized in our faithful perseverance through everything, knowing that we are ultimately here for His purposes! Things are not promised to us, our lives will not always be pain-free, happy-go-lucky, or even seen constantly through rose-colored lenses! Life happens, our duty is to learn, develop, change, grow, choose, and to move forward with hope. That is our chosen role. Hope for our own lives is not something we should leave to others who have their own lives to live. Hope is not a far-fetched concept only the lucky can master! Hope is merely a choice we make every single day to not just exist in our current state of being, but rather to look forward, through, beyond, and into the future with joyful expectancy as well as contented faith in God’s plans for us! Hope promises us that this is not all there is. Hope assures us that today’s events and our present emotions are not the sole markers of our lives overall. Hope affirms to us that life is uncertain, but the choice is always ours to be content, to stay peaceful, to stay joyful within, to feel what emotions we must for a time but then to heal and move forward. We owe it to ourselves to keep hope ever-present within, as it provides the comfort, compass, and blanket of rest over everything we experience and feel! 

The Benefits Far Outweigh Anything Negative!

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I’m enjoying all the nature sightings of recent weeks and months, the benefits of these creature sightings far outweigh anything negative! There is nothing like experiencing wild animals among us when we’re in our own yards or visiting other locations! And although I have had a few inopportune moments with critters and bugs recently too, I focus on the positive impact the sightings of less pesky creatures have upon my life rather than the imperfections we can often face when human beings meet the wild! Just last month, I had a scare when I found a live scorpion in the upstairs guest room in which I was staying at my sister’s house! It was not pleasant whacking it with a shoe and praying there were no others for the few days I was visiting! But, it was a one-time sighting in a slew of visits, so I let it go and enjoyed my visit. And on that particular visit, I went whale watching on a trip in which I experienced seeing humpback and minke whales, as well as seeing a super pod of common dolphins! That and several other nature-oriented experiences made the scorpion sighting less memorable for sure!

Just yesterday, I saw a family with sixteen baby quail in my front yard! It was delightful to watch the brood scurry and scamper beside their parents. Quail are common visitors to my yard, but their families are not often that numerous! They’re so tiny when newborn, yet so proficient in their quail duties! This sighting came just hours after I had to remove the rather stinky rotting carcass of some poor dead creature laying in the backyard. Perhaps it had fallen prey to some other animal’s attack. Again, the benefit of the large quail family sighting far outweighed the nastiness of removing the stinky corpse! I’ve also recently had numerous rabbit sightings, with plentiful baby bunnies being born in the last few months. The sightings of the tinier babies more than make up for the nibbling older rabbits which insist upon gnawing my plants to stubs or to dust! Babies in my yard are always welcome, even when I realize how voracious they’ll be as adults one day soon!  

With Summer in the desert, we get an influx of several types of bugs which aren’t prevalent the rest of the year. Those include pesky mosquitoes which seem to thrive in the heat, big 2 – 3″ paloverde beetles and cicadas which buzz incessantly from their perches in trees throughout the landscape. The presence of these bugs is a nuisance often, as they creep around in places which are unexpected and the mosquitoes bite all the uncovered flesh which is more prevalent with the heat of Summer! I’ve even been bitten by mosquitoes while swimming in the pool! Short of swimming underwater only, I’m not sure I know how to evade those pests entirely! And everywhere I look in the yard, ants are busy doing whatever it is ants do! They’re usually not an issue, until I stop in their pathway in my sandals, often getting bitten for my error in judgment.

 

It’s always the case in Summer that I wish for a bit of relief when it comes to nature’s more pesky creatures. Bugs and creepy crawlers, snakes and lizards are not my favorite things. But this morning I was overjoyed to return a tiny gecko to the outdoors after finding it indoors on the carpeting by my front door! Those little things are cute, but they’re not meant to live indoors! I’ve already seen enough cuteness watching the common species of birds, the lovebirds which have naturalized, the lizards, squirrels and the bunnies running around while I watered this morning! Anything which seems negative at first with the creatures around me is always balanced out by something wondrous and fascinating to observe! Nature is a diverse, fantastical showcase of God’s miraculous handiwork and design! It’s both uplifting and at times, overwhelming and/or scary! It is just a part of living in this magical world which God has created!

America’s Indefatigable Exceptionalism!

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I have to admit, I’m a bit confused as to when it became popular to find America and our societal values so disagreeable? When did bashing our prior history to the point of attempting to erase it become so en vogue? In which year did the subtle erosion of American ideals and the disbelief in our national exceptionalism begin? Are they teaching this in our schools now? I grew up having America’s exceptionalism reaffirmed in common places and regular intervals, we closed our days by reaffirming on our television sets that our nation’s banner flew proudly over a united, grateful nation and that God’s blessings upon us were assured! Patriotism was not seen as a nagging character defect but rather an inherent part of a typical American’s DNA! Most of us seemed proud enough to place our hands on our hearts whenever we saw Ol’ Glory wave in all her majesty or whenever we had the chance to proclaim it through our national anthem! I just don’t comprehend this brewing anti-American sentiment which is inching forward through each generation in popularity, popping up often in groups yearning to proclaim their eager victim status, inflamed by unsettling rhetoric. None of this makes sense to me, even with a federal government which doesn’t always align exactly with my political beliefs, I’ve always seen American bi-partisan interests at work through a people united for the sake of America’s continued success. But recently, all of that is changing. A large swath of our culture seems to want to change America of late, it just wasn’t working for them. So that is what they set out to do more avidly within the last decade or maybe even well before that. Now those social justice warriors and their dissatisfied predecessors (who probably began this pursuit well before this generation) have succeeded in changing my beloved nation into something I almost no longer recognize as readily as the America of my youth! Our nation now seems intrinsically more broken as we approach this year’s Independence Day celebration. I’m concerned in ways I’ve never been before about our stability and our unity, as I never thought we’d actually have so many American citizens who seem to loathe their own nation! They look to things in our nation’s past as sins, unforgivable and insurmountable. They see our intricate system of governance as dated and passe`.  

I am of the other school of thought, that which believes, and always will, in America’s indefatigable exceptionalism! I grew up in a time when that was still presumed the case by a majority, as it was known in my home, practiced at all my schools throughout all my grades, and echoed routinely in most public entities by way of our culture’s common norms and values. This concept of American exceptionalism was seemingly settled for most of my life, its existence and origins were known to most everyone I came into contact with.  After all,  it derived not from some benevolent human pronouncement, but rather from a nation sure of its inception based on individual freedom which only God can bestow! Our founding fathers knew that human beings were only free when no tyrant or ruling party could dictate their every willful matter, especially their choice of religious practice or by impeding people’s ability to speak their minds. In modern terms, that would mean the founders knew inherently that a limited and smaller federal government was the only possible way to govern a nation truly desirous of maintaining such an imperative concept as that of individual liberty. Our American exceptionalism is derived from putting the individual and individual freedom ahead of a vast, dictatorial state body of some type capable through their size and/or power of overruling such God-given individual rights. The individual is the basis of our form of governance, that’s the most important entity in a Constitutional Republic like ours. In our brilliant founding, the government exists to serve “we, the people”, and not the opposite! The individual liberty we all inherently have through our Creator is the impetus for protective representation at the state and federal level, as well as for the integral balance of power of the three separate but equal branches of government at the federal level to protect the overall united Republic and its governing processes, quintessential to the founders’ design when drafting the documents which assured our nation’s first foundations of unity and governance! After all, most of our founding fathers and those who fueled our fledgling independence from England had witnessed state-dictated religion and actual serfdom to some oppressive ruling body such as a monarchy. They wanted no part of being ruled again!  

Now, this form of governance does not come without personal responsibility on the part of its citizenry. Our nation began with brilliant minds confirming our inherent right to live freely, to determine our own individual destiny! We must continue to participate in educating those who come after us as to what we are and how we are comprised, compelling each generation’s interest as to the vital importance of preserving and protecting our Constitutional Republic! It’s not a trite outmoded concept based on stale, outdated documents! Our Constitution and Bill of Rights are the backbone of this living unified being we call the United States of America. Without our Constitution and the Amendments which affirm our inherent freedoms, the brilliance of our founding eventually morphs into a chaotic governing body disavowing of individual liberty, which leads to a vast, impersonal state able to usurp our precious, invaluable, protected freedoms! God help us if any more of our citizenry become so enamored of this seemingly suicidal belief that America is not an exceptional nation, such that more of us throw our liberty to the winds of time and fate by welcoming an even larger, more contemptuous federal bureaucracy than what we already have to rule over us! Or that we would further hang our heads in shame for whatever we’ve done throughout our history, as though we haven’t actually earned any praise battling against the enemies of freedom all over this planet, bleeding profusely via both our flesh and treasure, sacrificing routinely, greatly, and often for liberty’s sake! We’re an imperfect people running as perfect a system of government as imperfect humans can devise and manage, with a most brilliant Constitution as our base! We must do our best to perpetuate as a Constitutional Republic. And we must never let liberty’s torch fade in the cold draft of our indifference, corrupt influences, or an intolerance for our very own well-being! America is something special, it always has been and it always will be if we insist upon educating those who follow as to why it is we dare make that claim!  

This Independence Day, let us Americans try to remember why our founders dared to draft such brilliant founding documents to protect and secure our individual liberty, why so many of us have fought, bled and often died throughout our history to protect these shores and our interests abroad, and why we have always affirmed our principled values united as willing patriots, regaling our beloved banner, eager to preserve this great nation with our spirit of gratitude and perseverance! As President Ronald Reagan once so eloquently and prophetically stated, “If we lose freedom here, there is no place to escape to. This is the last stand on Earth.” God bless America, and may God keep America in the palm of His hand, safe, prosperous, united and ever-grateful for such abundant blessings and such obvious exceptionalism!

Old-School Tools . .

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I have a love/hate relationship with yard blowers! I can see the need for them, really I can. But they also create a lot of noise and racket in lieu of using the quieter, slightly less efficient rake. I am usually a rake person, choosing the quieter and less efficient means just because it’s an old school tool and doesn’t make so much racket! On mornings like this, however, I could have pulled out my leaf blower and gone to town!  

My neighbors aren’t as timely in leaf removal, so often times, what I am raking up is actually the leaf debris from trees on their side of the property line. This morning, I realized I have raked up leaves on one side of my property repeatedly the last few months. Today, it finally dawned on me that the majority of those leaves were from my neighbor’s tree. Upon examining the situation, I came to the conclusion that I would be raking every couple of weeks given how windy our Summers can be. The only solution is to rake up their leaves as well!

I would never tell my neighbors (who are also my dear friends) that this was my plan, as I wouldn’t want them to feel bad about any additional work I’m doing because of them. Since I have to rake up my yard anyway, why not take the extra time to rake up the leaves hovering nearby under their plants?! Those leaves would eventually find their way into my yard, so it just makes sense for both my neighbor and me! I’m raking the leaves up on my side anyway, so I might as well do theirs too!  

But as I started, I realized how much my leaf blower would have made efficient work of the effort. Leaves were piled high underneath several plants in the watering wells where the rake wouldn’t fit, and a blower would have done the job in mere minutes! Unfortunately for me, it was too early and far too quiet on our street to make that much racket! And so, I have again renewed my love/hate of the yard blower! I have one, but almost never use it because of the loud din it produces when doing so. My metal-tined rake is one of the most used tools I have! I’m sure all the landscaping crews working for all my other neighbors never give such things much thought, they are paid to do their job and use the tools necessary to do that work efficiently. I hear the sounds of lawn mowers and blowers almost daily on our street! But I obviously over think the noise produced by that pesky leaf blower to the point that it gathers dust on my garage shelving! 

I really hope to make peace with that gizmo, as it probably does make a gardener’s life easier and work more efficient! It’s the same inner turmoil I had last month when I borrowed my neighbor’s battery-powered pruning saw to make some quick cuts through a large fallen tree limb after sweating for a while on it with a hand-held tool. My manual pruning saw was a lot more fatiguing and time-consuming! One day, perhaps I will go new-school and realize how much easier my life will be in the process! Some day. 

A Welcoming Habitat . .

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I’m glad I have several water features in my landscape for the sake of providing not only the soothing sound of coursing water but also to provide for nature a refuge from the intense Summer heat like we’re presently enduring here in the desert Southwest this week. Nature struggles in such intense weather just as we humans do. Today’s high was expected to be 120 Fahrenheit. Now, that’s intense! It’s evident when I look out my window to see several birds taking advantage of cooling down by sitting in the shallow birdbaths or taking a drink from a fresh, clean fountain. Water is important, as is providing safe places for all creatures to find shelter at all times of the year. In the desert, Summer is the most crucial time of year for provisional needs such as water, shade, protection, and food. Having a landscape which offers a variety of plant material as well as sources of nutrients and shelter for all the regular creatures which visit is a great way to make a daily theatrical show of nature’s best for you and your family!  

I was noticing some burrows being dug around my front shady border plantings. It’s from the quail, bunnies, and other birds which have realized how much more cool the soil is at the base of those regularly watered plants. So, I leave the burrows alone, knowing that the birds and rabbits which hunker down in them are finding some necessary relief. It doesn’t always look as nice with those burrows dug around the plants, but I let them be. And I keep all my water features full and clean during the Summer, which with birdbaths means that I am filling them each new morning due to evaporation and consumption. It might be simpler to not worry about such things in the heat of Summer, as the intense heat shortens my tolerance and time outside too. But, I realize how much the creatures which visit my yard have come to rely on the extra provisions I make available and I value having the chance to see them throughout the day! Each new day, as I water my potted plants early in the morning, I see to refilling the precious sources of water which keep the critters content!  

In the years I’ve lived here, I’ve become so used to the animals which have come to visit and to stay. There are tiny hummingbirds and predatory hawks. There are colorful peach-faced lovebirds and drabber birds which easily hide in our desert surroundings. I readily welcome the creatures, even though sometimes they provide a shock or an upset just by nature of their tenuous state as a living being. It’s all an acceptable part of living here because the beauty of having such diversity in my daily life and such a glimpse into God’s majestic hand of creation is more than worth any bother or momentary discomfort! Tomorrow morning I will again go out to water my plants, to tend to my landscape, and to provide for nature’s creatures even though I’ll have to go out early to beat the 118 F. forecast for our high temperature. Those many creatures don’t really depend on me for their provision, but they surely are offered a welcoming habitat here, especially when they may need some extra TLC

If you’re interested in providing natural habitats for more of nature’s critters, then I suggest you add some simple things to your yard. Just a fresh, moving water supply or one you regularly change is key, as well as food sources in the form of plant varieties and shelter in the way of plant textures and heights. These things are easy ways to offer food, water, shelter and interest for all sorts of creatures! If you do enough, you might even consider having your yard declared a wildlife sanctuary!  

 

 

Change is Surely Inevitable . .

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I miss the way things were earlier in my lifetime when I was younger and life seemed simpler. I suppose it’s a common phenomenon of growing older that change can leave a lot of our lives unrecognizable or just a wee bit uncomfortable. It’s inevitable, there are cycles in life, natural lifespans, and popularity, which impacts what we’re surrounded by each day we live. Everything and everybody which once surrounds us will ultimately fall victim to time’s passing, especially upon hitting mid-life. And the hardest part of growing old is watching all that is familiar give way to something new, different, or otherwise unfamiliar to us. Change is surely inevitable, but not always preferential! And accepting change is the most challenging but essential aspect of aging! Especially at a time like this when everything seems to change so much more rapidly than in years and generations prior. Perhaps we live in the time of the most significant change societies have ever had to absorb since the beginning of human existence in the world. I cannot say for sure, as I only live in this time.

 

Surely the earliest of human beings had to deal with a lot of perceptible development, just by becoming adults. There were significant and momentous developments visible through the ages, much like those evident during the industrial revolution or with the development of language in each culture over time. But these days, keeping up with things is literally imperative to know the ever-changing colloquial language, as well as all that which influences daily life. Imagine what would become of someone unfamiliar with even the most simple of technological developments these days? If someone didn’t know how to use a portable, instantaneous form of communicating such as a cell phone, they would probably feel very ignorant in this contemporary world! We’re able to instantly communicate, nearly everywhere in the world. We can speak, write, and even render our thoughts across the globe in seconds! Without an awareness of the internet, cell phones, computers, or other forms of technology, people would be clueless about much of the world’s modern functionality!  

And in that reflection, there are people in the world alive today who had the earliest form of telephone service available. They first had landlines which required operators to connect a call or which had multiple party connections, which meant negotiating for phone usage, and took considerable time for connecting from one place only miles away to others. A phone call was a great luxury when the telephone first became a household staple and even having a phone was not guaranteed in every household as a cell phone is expected to be these days. Having a telephone was a privilege one had to be able to afford to actually have. It was not that long ago that many of us living today had hard-wired phones, hanging on our walls or sitting on our tables. We had to manually dial all the numbers on a large rotary dial and we couldn’t move beyond the distance the length of the curled connecting cord between the base and the handset allowed. We didn’t always get through instantaneously because it took more time to actually dial, especially long distance, and there were often either interruptions or perhaps the line would be busy already. I’m surely not an expert on the history of such technology, but I lived through several technological changes over my lifetime which developed into the instantaneous, wireless, global service we have today! If Maxwell Smart were alive and spying today, would he even bother with a shoe phone? 

When I think of all the changes which I’ve witnessed and absorbed in my lifetime, I’m often disturbed by the pace of things! It’s not necessarily all that comfortable to grow old with things always changing, as things don’t often change for the better! As we age, change seems to be more prolific and more impactful such as with more of our family and friends passing away. It’s a matter of time’s natural passing and lifespan. We merely have to learn to become more accepting of living without those with whom we were first closely surrounded. And we must learn to let go of a lot of regular aspects of our daily lives. All things and people have a natural lifespan, including the familiar businesses, places, and landmarks of our communities and our hometowns. Everything comes and goes, with some random time pattern, not always of our choosing! It’s just a part of life. We might really enjoy a restaurant, perhaps we’re even regulars there,  we become our own version of “Norm!” from Cheers (a sitcom from the 1980’s) to some group we routinely encounter there. But then that place suffers from an economic downturn or the owners choose to retire, or some other random incident causes its closure. That happens repeatedly as we age, especially if we stay in the same place over a long period of time. We take notice of changes, of communities shifting and changing in demographics, in population, in prosperity, and economically. Landscapes with which we have great familiarity seem to morph into something unfamiliar and all-too-new. Change without our developing sense of acceptance is just unsettling.   

I often wish I could keep more of the familiar people and places in my life, sans change! It isn’t always comfortable or easy to accept a lot of the change which comes with age and with time’s passing. But acceptance is a strange bedfellow because it enables us to make as much peace as possible with something which inherently at first feels uncomfortable or unpleasant. And getting better at accepting things is making my life easier, even with all the bombardment of change which now seems “normal” at this time period of my life. I can’t go back to a time when life seemed simpler or easier, and I cannot slow life down to make it seem more tolerable. This life is going at a pace which requires my constant endurance and daily acceptance! And I work each new day to keep those muscles flexing for the fevered pace of change we’re experiencing in 2017! Who knows what is coming next in the world, by way of technological developments, or in my own community? It’s all constantly changing and morphing into a new version of today, each new tomorrow!

All That He Has Enabled . .

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There is nothing quite as refreshing on a hot Summer day here in the desert than taking a dip in a freshly drained, thoroughly cleaned, and refilled pool! Mine has been recently given the full treatment, as it was more than ready for a surface refresh and clean water.  It took the better part of four days for my pool man to get it all done, but it finally got done by yesterday.  I looked forward to the opportunity to swim in the pool since draining it last week. And as the sun remained hidden behind a rather large pine tree hovering around 50-60 feet overhead, leaving the water shaded, I indulged in my habit of swimming laps early this morning. It was sublime and a fabulous way to begin a Summer’s day which will reach about 108 degrees Fahrenheit! 

The water was so clear and clean, I could see through my goggles the most minute particle of leaf or petal floating on its surface, rare as they were! The calm and quiet of the half-awake atmosphere all around me, at that early hour, made for the perfect opportunity to use my swimming routine as a time for reflection on other things! While slicing through the water, I focused on the gratitude I had for having such a perfect moment in life and for having such a wonderful personal space in which to dwell. Everything I have is on loan to me from God, so I want to take care of everything as best as I am able! And I purposefully want to celebrate the abundance of everything around me, and appreciate all the moments I have cognizant of those special people, things, and moments! God is so good, He provides everything for us, and we should honor Him by taking care of all that which is really His first! Even we are first His, so we honor Him by taking good care of ourselves!  

Rarely can I be so engulfed in serenity and peaceful calm as I was while swimming this morning! It was such peaceful surrender to the workout I was getting through the exertion and force my body made against the water as I swam repeated lengths of the pool with well-practiced and certain ability. It made for a wonderful chance to connect with God and to share with Him my gratitude and joy in all that He has enabled! After all, He made me able to swim each lap, He made the water, with its specific surface tension and molecular weight, and He made all the surrounding creatures and living matter in which I have come to dwell. God is so great! I hope I never forget to appreciate and to celebrate all His glorious creation and all that He enables, as well as all that He has provided in me, through me and to me!  

Time to Flex My Creativity Muscles . .

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I’m going to take on a little bit of salvage and repurposing, it’s time to flex my creativity muscles! It’s not something I get to do every day, but I feel prompted to try after the completion of a household project! After having a tune-up and refresh of the outdoor, in-ground pool, I have a used fiberglass filter pod leftover. Now, it’s not an item of beauty, to say the least! It’s big, beige, round, with points of entry for various tubes and a piece removed on top where my pool man gained access to remove the sand which was held inside. To replace the filter with a new one means that a whole new pod has been located in the very spot this one sat, filled with clean, new sand and ready to begin a renewed phase of pool usage. So, with the old sizeable pod sitting there staring at me, I felt compelled to be creative and to discover a new use for it! Rather than seeing it find a home in some landfill, there must be a way to make this lackluster gizmo shine with reuse!  

It’s not the first thing I’ve nurtured into a new life. Last year, I took on the remodel of an antique wheelchair which was rusty, partially disassembled and rather ugly. It was purchased at a flea market years ago, almost forgotten, it sat in my outdoor shed for years. Now its wood seat, back, and arms gleam with coats of protective spar varnish, a cushion sits upon the seat for comfort. It’s useful in a new way, fortunately not as it was originally intended! After all, I would much rather not need a wheelchair anytime soon! It will never be perfect, but for my taste, it’s a charmer as an extra seat!

And so, I endeavor upon the repurposing of this strange pod-shaped thing. It’s not heavy, so I’ve moved it safely to another area of the yard until I figure out what it’s meant to be. It might be a water feature, as I can imagine all sorts of plumbing opportunities, given the natural openings it already has. Or it might become a planter of sorts, as it surely is a container of sizeable proportions. I might turn it into part of my edible garden next year, perhaps tomatoes or melons will find it a delightful growing space! Needless to say, it’s going to be reused. I just have that itch within to turn it into something unique! I’m pretty sure whatever I do, no one else will have the exact same “whatever”! 

That’s the fun of gardening and outdoor spaces for me! I’m not one of those people who want everything to be perfect and just so, as I realize life and all living things are never perfect. It’s the imperfections and the individuality of each person’s personal patch of nature that makes it special! In this domain of mine, I can paint a landscape of color, texture, and beauty all my own! And this pod will soon find a home among the plants and other elements which make up my landscape. I look forward to the dreaming, designing, planning, and implementation! It’s all part of the fun of creating!