Wednesday, May 28, 2008

The Tipping Point

I was at the gym today and things started to get clear about 20 minutes into my cardio.  I realized that despite the upheaval, I feel at peace right now.  It's not an easy time, but I'm very peaceful about what needs to be done, and that God and I can do it together.

I was thinking back to the last time God spoke to me.  He gave me words to nudge me in a specific direction.  That moment was a tipping point in my life, and everything since has hinged on that one moment in time.  (Read Malcom Gladwell's book, "Tipping Point," for further info.) 

It was about 3 years ago.  I was standing at my kitchen sink washing the dirty dishes that failed to stuff into an overflowing dishwasher.  My house was  a wreck, with sticky spots and dust on every surface.  The floor was littered with little pieces of dried food threatening to impale the sole of an inattentive foot.  It was a disaster...much more than usual.

I was exhausted.  Hubby had been working stiff 12-14 hour days and even Saturdays, and I was the solitary caregiver to two kids still in diapers (they were both late trainers, or maybe I was the late trainee, who knows?).  This was not a good day.

So naturally, I was crying.  No, not really crying, I was sobbing.  Dramatically, I'm sure.  No one in the history of the world is as doomed as I am when feeling depressed.  Woe is ME!  (Back of hand on forehead, of course.)

I kept thinking, is this it?  Is this my life?  Dishes will pile up yet again.  Diapers will endlessly need changing.  The vacuum cleaner will continue to mock me.  I felt as if I were living the song, "Is That All There Is?" (first recorded by Peggy Lee, and later Bette Midler, Sandra Bernhardt and others).  Is that all there is to life, I asked myself?  Dishes, diapers and dirt?

Then a voice, a deep baritone, clear as a bell said, "This is not your purpose."

And calm washed over me.  Or, maybe shock.  I knew no one else was in the house.  I knew I was quite alone with my kids.  I knew without thinking about it that it was the voice of God. 

He's spoken to me a few times, but this was the clearest and most direct.  

Because He gave me those words, and saved me from wallowing in my own self pity, I have been very purposeful in my actions.  I believe, as things are unfolding in the next few years, God's purpose for my life will continue to emerge and my efforts blessed as pleases Him.  

I think back often to that moment in time, a tipping point in my life and purpose, to be sure.

Have you had a tipping point? 

Friday, May 23, 2008

Cake Photo Update

Well, I guess my dad the Schmidt-Dawg gets major kudos for not only reading my blogs, but paying attention.  He sent me a little "histoire" of the man with the cake photo.  Such a story!  Here's the Dawg's email to me...

Catski, the man in the photo is your great grandpa, Lyle Finefield's papa who lived in Rochester, IA, a town of about 80 people near Tipton, IA.  He owned the local gas station (no groceries).  (Frieda and Lyle owned a groc. store in Tipton that went belly up in the Great Depression.)

One day, when I was in dental college we got a report that he had shot himself.  Immediately we went there where the family was gathered in serious mourning, devastated by the 'suicide' report for public opinion ruled their lives. But, sure enough, his shotgun had blown off the back of his skull.

When I asked the Sheriff to reenact the scene, we went into his little gas station and laid out the gun and where his head had to be and where his brains still dripped from the wall, about a foot off the floor. 

I pointed out to the sheriff that the only way he could have done that was to lay on the floor, aim the gun at his head and push the trigger, a feat his arthritic arms could neither have reached nor accomplished. 

We, then, restaged the scene: It had rained that morning and swallows had congregated under the canopy, over his gas pumps. He hated swallows, so he got his gun, headed to the canopy to shoot a few swallows and, on the way, put his hand on the pop cooler to steady himself. But he slipped, fell to the floor and the shotgun went off into his head. We even found the indentation in the linoleum floor where the butt of the gun had hit which aligned perfectly with the brain drippings.

The sheriff promptly issued a statement that this was not a suicide but an accident.  And the family heaved a huge collective sigh of relief for a suicide was a horrible blight on a family in those days.  It was a grisly way to achieve hero status in the family.

The picture was taken on their back porch leading to the gas station.  Notice he has a crutch under both arms and the cake is probably propped against the crutch.

That Schmidt-Dawg has always been a bit of a CSI...and a graphic novelist. Seriously, it was kewl detective work. And, I'm glad to know more about the little old man who held that cake in the photo that made me laugh so uncontrollably.  I think that he's probably in Heaven smiling down about it.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Laughter, Tears and the Crippled Old Man

I'm going through my mother's old photographs.  And, her mother's.  And, her grandmother's.

The box is filled with photos of all kinds, shapes, sizes, colors, sepia, black and white, poloroids, snapshots, and studio shots.  The faces smile back at me as I study their eyes and noses for familial similarities.  Twenty-five, fifty, a hundred years separate me from the picture takers and their subjects.  

The radiant child about my son's age frolicking in the Atlantic waves is my Baby Boomer sister.  The young marrieds, fresh with promise and standing inside their corner grocery are my deceased grandparents.  My birth announcement in the paper, yellowed and torn with age.  Christmas cards from people I do not know, and photographs of people we no longer contact.  The testament to a family's history basically reduced to archeological supposition by the youngest in the family who was born long after the clans disbanded.

On a lighter note, I found one that gave me a laugh sending tears rolling down my face.  If my sister had been there, we would have been in silent hysterics for a full half-hour I guarantee it.  As it was, I had a pretty good run myself.  I found this photo of a man I do not know, older than my grandparents and on crutches.  Someone had given him a cake to hold, not just a little cake, but  a large, round two-layer frosted cake on a--get this--glass cake server, the kind with a thick pedestal.  

"Here's your cake, crippled old man!"

How he kept from tipping over is beyond me.  But, maybe that was the last picture before they took him to the hospital.  

Okay, maybe you had to be there with me in the moment.  I will scan the image and post it here, then you can see and judge for yourself.  It's weird, too, because there were other people around--I've seen the other photos.  So,  how did someone design that particular one?!  Give the little old man on crutches a thing half his weight to hold while he's trying in vain just to stand up?!?  

My family went insane sixty years ago and we've never since been normal.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Method to Madness

Why are some actors so horrendously messed up and some of them incredibly proficient in life?

Here's my best guess.  It's like a bell curve and we, the audience, are the majority.  At one small end are the messed up actors, and the other end are the competent and learned performers.  You have your druggies plus your people playing at very high levels and this one thing unites them: they can show us publicly what we do privately.  

I didn't invent that.  Rob Reece (my method acting teacher in SF, now in Bev Hills) once said, "An actor is one willing to do in public what everyone does in private."  He probably got it from Stanislavsky.  

It takes a special person to portray intimate feelings for an audience.  One exercise Rob subjected me to--and there were palm sweating, heart racing others to be sure--was to have me dialogue out of my butt.  Here I am, bent over, using my hands to move my "cheeks" and address the class.  Great.  Just what every introverted writer dreams about.  But, that's just what I needed to get me out of my shell.  Nowadays, there aren't many public arenas that give me the willies.  Thanks, Rob.

So, people not only willing to show us humanity at its most raw and naked, but wanting and desiring to do it are a special and different breed indeed.  Some of them are driven to distraction (drugs, alcohol, sex), and some of them are driven to the bookcase.  The rest of us watch. 

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Dems vs GOP

So, we're in the thick of political madness and it's only going to get worse.  The "he said/she said" mayhem will not cease until early November, unless we have another 2000 where the courts decide our President-elect.  Please, no!  

Many Christians say that Jesus would definitely be a...Republican...or a Democrat.  As if God cared about a particular party over another.  I don't think God says, the Jews are my chosen people and this donkey or elephant is my chosen political organization.  God is above politics.  Duh.  I mean, isn't the enemy running our political arena anyway?

Let's face it, there is the absence of God in both parties.  Those who support a woman's "choice" are intentionally ignoring God's sixth Commandment.  Those who do not protect the incredible resources of our planet are not being good stewards of the earth God gave us.

Now, there are some differences in philosophies that ultimately reach the same godly goal.  For instance, liberals want a big government to take care of the less fortunate, while conservatives desire more government cooperation with church and non-profit groups, and more incentives for people to work themselves out of poverty.  It's the old "give a man a fish" vs. "teach a man to fish" debate.  Same goal of helping the impoverished, just a different mechanism to make it a reality. 

I'm trying to keep in mind that I'm a Christian first, before I'm a politcal party member, and I need to look at the issues from God's view.  It's difficult because I'm such a strong conservative Republican.  But, I think we would all benefit if we asked, "What's the Christian stance?" not,  "What does my party believe?"

Some of the fervor regarding party affiliation can be likened to rooting for your favorite team.  We don the colors and symbols of our alma mater and cheer our team in the big homecoming game.  We forget to ask what's best for the country, and instead of asking questions, we simply desire to win.  The goal becomes victory over substance.  "We won, we won!"  But, have we? 

I hope that other Christians will join me in taking the time to reflect this political year on what's best for God's interests.  And, perhaps work to change that in their party, whether Dem or GOP, or Green Party, that does not jive with Jesus' teachings.    

Monday, May 5, 2008


Nothing comes from me.  Not my opinion, not my voice, not my writing.  It's all a composition of everything I've read, heard, taken in, been mentored about, learned firsthand, or taught.  I don't come to conclusions about our universe by acting Miss Know-It-All, all preachy and riding high on my soapbox (though I have been known to love a soapbox).  I come to my conclusions by experience.  Life experience of using the world as my classroom.  Whether I get the info from a book, class, pastor, therapist or friend, it's gathered knowledge.  Like a woman gathering food in the wild for her tribe, I'm collecting tidbits of wisdom in my basket.  Luckily, my basket is still mostly empty.  

Saturday, May 3, 2008


I've been asked about my blog, why I don't call Hubby and kids by their first names, offer insights into my personal drama, or talk about the zit on my chin (it's there!).  Why I don't open up and reveal my daily life as a wife and mother.  

Well, I could, of course.  I'm not hiding anything, and I certainly don't care about image (though I joke about it enough you just might wonder).  There are blogs for every conceivable idea, and they take many shapes and forms.  Read enough of them and you'll see various personalities exposed and many different reasons for blogging.  I love the myriad of differing blogs in the universe, quite like the diversity of our world.

There are blogs that talk about daily family life, but this is not one of them.

This blog is my philosophy as it's emerging.  It's revolves around my musings and my observations as a person who has lived, really lived, and learned quite a bit from that living, and learned more (and continue to learn) from people much smarter than I.  And, how to put all that together, life experience, God, book smarts, and mentors' teachings, and use the composition of those as a prism to see the world, to change thoughts to change the world.