Open Doors, College and The God-Gut

Yesterday a man knocked on my door. I’d seen him going door to door in my neighborhood. I’d noted, impressed with his great greeting etiquette, that he rang the doorbell and immediately stepped off my neighbor’s front porch, waiting well out of reach of the door. It’s a pet peeve of mine, the whole door dumbness routine. You don’t knock on my door, a total stranger, and then stand smack up against the safety zone of the door as I open it to say “hello,” making a crowded and awkward collision of intention. If you know consideration, if you know thoughtfulness, you stand back and well out of the way and you show yourself fully from a distance appropriate. You give space. You make it clear that you respect a person’s home and the obviousness of your status as completely unknown. (But I’m not at all opinionated about this.) In any case, you’re doing well to get me to come to the door at all if I don’t know you. I have the same attitude about telephones. This guy had my attention. His body language was confident but something. I couldn’t pin it down. He didn’t have the dress or demeanor of a salesman. He looked like he was declaring something and his aura, his energy communicated something noble. Can a person look noble from a distance? So it seems. But I was curious. So, when my doorbell rang I chose not to pretend to be unavailable. I wanted to see if his greeting stance would be consistent. 

He waited well within range of my vision. I was impressed, wanting to ask him to give lessons to all doorbell hopefuls. I noted as I opened the door that a family van was parked in front of my home. He introduced himself and let me know he and his wife, who was waiting in the van, had been laid off from their jobs. “Is there any work we can do for whatever you might be able to give? We could paint your house number on the curb.” I asked how much he would charge, thinking it a cool coincidence that I’d just noted the lack of a house number on the curb, once again, the same morning, wishing for an easy solution. “We’ll take whatever…$10? We’re hurting.” “Well, $10 is all I have actually and that’ll be great. Thank you.” He was amazed, his head doing that shocked jerk heads do when they’re about to turn away and go down the sidewalk with a frustrated body to the next house. His wife was amazed. I was thrilled. 

The previous week I’d felt “led” to get $10 cash out. I’m paying attention to my intuition more than ever. A couple times I had opportunities to burn through the cash. But my gut said no. So, no. When he said “$10” my gut said “yes!” Sounds silly. But I don’t have cash on hand around here. Cash has a way of evaporating, proving the old adage about pennies saved and earned and not doing much for college funds or paint for house numbers on a curb. Oh wait…

Why bring this up? Why share? Why does it even matter, this whole “led” thing? It was such a wonderful feeling, to realize I’d opened the door in my heart before I opened the door literally. When I saved the $10, I was preparing for that moment without any truly logical proof of a great reason to do so. Intuition is such nourishing goodness. It, when carried through on the wings of “happenstance,” fills the soul with appreciation, thankfulness. Intuition thrives on hope and hope thrives sometimes when it makes very little sense. We all need hope. And courage. Courage to risk the seeming loss of face for trusting a process that has no hard and fast guarantees. 

Knock on doors? Ask if you can do any house or yard work? Go door to door in your Dodge Caravan and point to your wife and stand there and declare shamelessly your need? Get $10 out for a gut feeling and hoard it like some old maid miser? I don’t do cash. I don’t do old maid miser. Do I? Say it isn’t so. No, it isn’t. If cash sits stashed in my purse, it’s gone as soon as a child has a wish. And that is often and fun! 

But I have my house number on the curb now. Had I not had the $10, I wouldn’t. Had I not noted the sense of being “led” it would’ve been gone by the time my doorbell rang. And he’d not have had a surprising $10 moment. Besides, I found another dollar. He and his wife got $11 for the work. I wanted to give them a meal and jobs. You know what I appreciated more than numbers on a curb? The brief conversing with the couple, the firm handshake and receiving a verbal blessing: “God bless you.” I’ll take God’s blessing any day. 

That’s the other thing. Much like an odd appearance on my front step complete with thoughtful regard for my boundaries, I’m discovering the emergence in my soul of a new appreciation for the mother and father heart of God, a God I began to give up on 10 years ago. I don’t really know this God though. S/he is not insisting on any religion or proof of existence. She wants to iron out details and make things new and paint numbers out of the blue. He wants to affirm hope and make a way where there seems not to be one. 

My gut is telling me the timing couldn’t be better. And it was a perfect prelude to my walk across campus to pay, in person, for the fall semester of my second year of college at the age of 41. A 22 year gap in education (formal, that is!) found tremendous renewal today. There was no way I was going to do the payment over the phone. This had to be done in person, with son by my side. I wasn’t going to NOT go to school this fall though every fact and figure said otherwise. As it turns out, life responded with timely provision – just enough and at just the right moment. 

I like details. And I like how life affirms us when we decide to dance with hope and courage. It births a nobility in the mean streets of loss and opens doors for all of us.

Nature’s Lace Beguiling . . .

As this posts, I’m heading for the beach with my children, to what my family in Texas calls “the big water.” We’ve visited this beach for over 20 years now. The trek took much longer from Georgia. So often I longed to settle in N.C. Here we are. Little did I know our lives would be so dramatically changed. But, I did know. I knew intuitvely and I knew as one who gets some pretty intense and sometimes unfortunate glimpses into the future. Precognition. The thing about knowing ahead of time, the thing most challenging is to retain that sense of free will.

Free will’s best delights are served between the mileposts, the ones that often blur past us unnoticed as we flow along life’s crazy trails.  There between the big and fateful events, we can choose our perspective, our vision, our intentions and our motivations when we’re freed of reactionary living. We can choose to reach and stroke the hair of a child, to grab him and smile, to stop and capture the image of a wildflower’s pose along lake’s quiet backdrop. We can choose to know what we want and need and what we will, what we will not allow – pretty much. We can take that second glance and then a long view of the sky’s deeper more alluring and beckoning hues. We can pick up the phone and say “I love you.” Or dig ditches. Or pull weeds. Or take that step, leave fear behind and take the next wave of education. Or vacation.

And so it is. We dance between the mileposts inevitable and the gaps whose only disparity is a field of opportunity to know and to be known in love.

Nature's Lacy Mile
Nature's Lacy Mile

Dreams Delayed?

I ended my evening yesterday on news not encouraging. In the middle of priceless treasure discoveries, rich givings by life itself, my life has consisted of obstacles overcome, setbacks redeemed and yet more to overcome, plow through. And even, to re-do. It’s not an unusual story, in general. Though it’s even fairly typical as “hardship” goes, it has its unique and uncommon elements. There’s never been any solid financial wealth. Mostly it’s been a story of poverty well-dressed and holding her head above water, appearing on the verge of wealth or even consistent sustenance, taking hits from waves created on distant shores. And that is it. Nothing to whine about. It simply is. A richness of soulful knowing, growing awareness of things more precious than gold serves me feasts in dark nights, feeds me strength in bleak times. Without the struggles, would I know how sweet it all is? No. Know what, though? I’m tired of the stark contrasts. (insert whining tone here, immediately cough and clear the throat. moving right along. no more whining allowed. it will be okay!!!)

Life dishes some struggles more daunting lately. ( Two steps forward…three back? Um, wait a minute. That’s not even remotely fair! Hey! Look at all these people with me in this same seemingly rigged journey! I wonder if we’ll discover the secret.)

I rely on whatever paltry sum freelance writing can bring me at this time in my life. Believe me, paltry is a generous notion. I often feel like Jack came home with the beans and I should toss them out the window in outrage, hoping for mythical giant smashings, landing golden solutions at my doorstep. Then I laugh at myself. How silly. How delusional. Where’s the beef?! : ) So, I dig around for more opportunity but the restraints on my life make that digging a limited endeavor. I’m the childcare, and gladly so, in a separation soon heading for divorce. And amicably, kindly so. No ugly nonsense going on here. I am thankful for my feasts! Being the childcare is more affordable, on so many levels, than the alternatives that will cost me heavily in health, in peace, in so much. I did the full-time mad woman working and picking her kids up at 6pm every night. I almost died (okay, not literally). CFIDS relapsed, smashing me back to my hearth and home, wimpering like some lost child. But what I found of myself because of that disaster is priceless. I came home on levels I’d not been able to do before. Home to being mother, to being woman. And my body has been mending.

Now what? Do I go back out to full time in the wake of yesteday’s bad news? Smash me into compliance with “the way it is?” We rely on one income here while I manage it, budget up to two years and include the financial arrangements that divorce will bring. The not-ex-ex is thankful for that. The goal is to get me through college and onto a job that won’t toss me into CFIDS reruns, a job that will solidify futures. Many moons ago I put him through college, paid the bills, got increasingly more ill and crashed into motherhood. Somewhere in there it hit me that the marriage never actually happened. (Not for lack of effort here.) One year of college, years of work and then over a decade of mostly parenting with part-time and some full-time employment. All the while writing,writing, writing and going through changes epic. Here I am. It’s an oversimplification of an arduous journey. But it suffices.

The bad news? The not-quite-ex may have to take a cut in pay or worse. So…college in the fall? Or…a job at Walmart? I kinda doubt there’s much more than that. Where? How? What? When you look at the possibility that dreams will never come to fruition, you are forced to fall back on that intrinsic, that innate, that basic enjoyment of being in skin, of breathing deeply the smell of life after rain, of feeling intensely every ounce of life’s sweetest gains, of sunsets surreal and healing, moon’s ushering quiet calls…however fleeting, however seemingly small. These can never be thwarted, stolen or otherwise laid off. (A piece of cake is nice, too!)

Courtesy of Will H.
Courtesy of Will H.

And while you fall back on it all, watch the bloom of night’s horizon, you refuse to release the dreams. Even if they never reach their fullest glory. They are the balance between living and merely existing (for me, anyway).

At least…that’s how I feel today. And I’ve suddenly run out of things to say. On with the quest…


What Do You Affirm?

In front of me rests a class schedule for the fall. I’ve registered for a full load of work and all I can feel is sober relief mixed with a sense of responsibility. This is, according to Brezsny, the end of my week of a more cynical outlook. Hopefully, anyway. The timeframe of that more “cynical” influence visited me while visiting family in Georgia. Or it was “scheduled” to do so. I obviously have only scratched at the surface of astrology’s deep offerings. Oddly, my time in Georgia included two emergency room visits that shook me to my core – my mom’s visit on Easter Sunday and then my own visit two nights later. Both pretty damn daunting at the time but only, as it turns out, two bodies showing their more raw human vulnerability. How many times in one day can you swallow sobs? Watch your mom as she’s lifted into an ambulance, you’ll find out.


But I’m experiencing it thus far as a time of sensing the profundity of it all, of life choices, of the twists and turns of fate. And just when I’m about to dip into a darker moment, someone comes along and puts a hand on my back. It’s perfect.


In the meantime, I can’t not move forward without a sense of being attached to everyone I know, a sense of moving forward where they’re unable to do so as of yet and a recognition that those who’ve run ahead of me are humming a song of my own possibilities. That’s a new twist for me. The programming of my childhood left me feeling permanently isolated when others would reach their goals before me. That programming is being disabled on a daily basis. At this point, I don’t know how to embark on something without seeing it as a spiritual door-opening for more than only me and an affirmation of those who’re ahead of me. It feels more like tribe and less like striving after the wind with a great big world on my lonely shoulders.


My mom has always wanted to go to college. No, I take that back. My mom felt belittled by the fact that she didn’t go to college. It evidenced in her comments and encouragements. I sat there at the desk with the counselor and realized I could do a big part of my education online. I won’t do it that way though. I want to be where people share the experience of education. But I sat there recognizing that education is the organization of a process and a legitimizing of that process on levels we simply accept as adequate because of the affiliation with tradition and historical respect – while others educate themselves, work hard and become expert enough to warrant much basic respect but no degree. This is no newsflash and it does seem to oversimplify. But it’s more needful sobriety in the face of big goals and it’s affirmation of the expertise of a woman who never found a way to get to college. I want her sense of inadequacy to evaporate, for her to feel a bit of redemption in the completion of my own more “official” education.


In the wake of my mom’s earnest encouragement, I did a year of college over 20 years ago. My heart wasn’t in it. My heart was barely in life. Because of that, the one year has felt like this spit of water in the wind with no real effect. But. I found out that particular “spit” puts me on track to be a junior by fall of next year at the college of my choosing as long as I stay the course this fall and spring. And I will.


But I do it realizing the turning of a tide of already flowing duties is no small thing. It does boil down to refusing to release the one goal and allowing other things to fall away. I may not get any big pointillist pieces out of me this year. I may shelf the book idea for a bit longer. I may only manage to garden half of the hill. I won’t be joining any parent-teacher associations (they wouldn’t like me anyway!). But I’m establishing what will not fall away. I’ll keep turning my face to the sun. I’ll hug my kids and enjoy their strength, their brilliance and their need for me. I’ll keep working on fitness with respect for my life’s challenges, including over 15 years of chronic fatigue syndrome with yes, a fever. I’m going through a phase of running a fever again and I feel it. And I mow. And I kick out exercises and. And I crash. I crash hard when no one is around to see it. I think my house will just have to look like crap for a few years. But I look at all of this with…cynicism? No. Realism. The universe may well be conspiring to bless me but I’m going to accept that some conspiracies take more hard work than anything else.


I feel this shift as a spiritual transaction. I can’t let it go. It’s not just for me. It’s for my children, my parents, all my sisters. And that’s how I work. I carry a sense of tribe with me or I die inside. It feels good to accept that personal truth. And to know that it doesn’t diminish one ounce of my vital need for independence. It grew in me as a child, as the youngest of 4 girls. My whole world was tribe and I’d alternately love it and run from it. My life reflects that cyclic response. But I realize that I can only do for myself. I can’t fix the lives I cherish. But I can carry the inspiration of their immeasurable worth along with my own. I can do it knowing that, no matter the outcome, it’s the process of affirmation that sows seeds of love’s work. So, I get to move towards more independence and hold to tribe. It works! And on so many levels.


We feed generations beyond us with our every effort – no matter the allegedly final outcome. No matter if it’s something as seemingly simple as pulling weeds out back. When we move without shame, we affirm. When we rest without guilt, we affirm.


(Affirm – Origin: 1300–50; < L affirmāre, equiv. to af- af- + firmāre to make firm (see firm 1 ); r. ME a(f)fermen < MF afermer < L)


There’s no cynicism in the best affirmations. To move forward without shame, without guilt, without mockery, without capitulation to the fleeting “evidence” often posing as futility is to affirm what is eternal and what is now – the preciousness of our lives. I, for one, cannot afford to believe anything else. And the good news is that I can choose what I believe as long as it resonates with deeply personal truths. I can carrry myself through every field of living as a needle threading affirmation of the best of humanity in a tapestry of love. Carry the threads through the next layer and leave the outcomes to be determined by, to be measured and weighed in the balance with only one thing – the preciousness of life. No loss, no setback diminishes such.