Contentment with Snow

I am one of many people on the East Coast of the United States that is longing for winter to be over. I’m not going to say I have it as bad as most, if I lived in Boston I’d need to be institutionalized, but it’s cold and unpleasant. I miss Spring, the warmth of the sun on my bare skin, laying in the grass, resting beneath the oak tree after a three mile run with my husband, taking walks into town in the evening, when the breeze cools to a delicious temperature, just cold enough to make the warmth of my husband’s hand extra special.

The other day, I took a ride with my Grandmother. I sat in the passenger seat, bundled up in three layers of coats and sweatshirts complete with hat, gloves, and scarf. It was just after 9 and the sun was clear and visible through an opening in the trees over a snow-covered corn field.

The sun’s heat combined with the extreme temperatures turned the snow into ice. Every divot and track looked imprinted and almost fake. The yellow sunlight glittered across the surface, chasing us as we drove past the expanse at 45 miles an hour. The white crystal snow appeared to be simultaneously still and moving, like the surface of a lake being tickled by the occasional breeze. The piles of snow dumped haphazardly by plows and shovels now looked like blown glass ornaments.

I am learning contentment, which is not an easy lesson where I live. I try to keep out of stores when I don’t need anything so I’m not tempted to add to my possessions. I also am trying to be content with time, treating each day, each moment, as a gift. So when I crawled into bed the night before with four blankets piled on top of me and whined to my husband about the cold and my desire for spring, I was immediately struck by a truckload of guilt.

“Never mind,” I said. “I need to enjoy what I have right now.”

Timothy smiled at me. “Sometimes when today is hard, it’s okay to look forward to tomorrow.”

That’s my wise husband for you. He’s right, that’s pretty much the definition of hope. But when I looked out over that glassy field, I wasn’t wishing for spring. I wasn’t wishing for anything more than what I had. All I wanted was to slip off one of my gloves and run my finger over the surface of the snow, to feel the cool sting of ice against my warm living flesh.

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Time of Prayer

Teach me to stay on my knees,
Not to watch the ticking clock.
Teach me to enjoy our time.
Make me wish the world to stop.

Help me also Lord to see,
When your answer finally comes,
That you know what’s best for me,
To say, “Amen. Thy will be done.”

© Rachel Svendsen 2015

What Do You See?

I’m in the living room of my apartment. It’s 5am. I’ve been up most of the night reading “The Art of Asking” by Amanda Palmer. I left the finished book and my booklight in the bedroom, lying beside my sleeping husband. He hates to wake up and find I’m missing. He wanders from the bed half asleep, like a child who has just woken up from a nightmare, rubbing his eyes and muttering, “you left me”.

I’ve been slightly absent blogwise as of late. Why? Because I’ve finally hit it. That moment in life where you look around, where you’ve been, what you are, what you know, believe, hope, dream and say, “Crap. Who am I?” My husband calls it an existential crisis. I had to ask Siri what that meant. (Don’t judge! It’s the first one I’ve ever had.)

I was raised to think, feel, be, and do certain things. I’ve had many relationships where I was told what to think and who to be. I acquiesced for many years. Now I find myself looking at the world in a completely different way. It’s as though I’ve suffered for 28 years from a mental stigmatism and someone just handed me a pair of glasses. The world has come into focus but the sudden change left me with a crushing migraine.

One of the biggest changes I’ve had inwardly, is real compassion.

I’ve always been a softie, crying at films or books and crumbling into a hot mess when someone near to my heart experiences any sort of discomfort, but I think I missed what it meant to have real compassion for the people around me, those other lives that you brush with your fingertips throughout the day. I would see things, read things, hear things, and snap judge. A lot of people do this. Everyone probably. But I never realized until recently how wrong it was. Everyone has a heart, everyone has a story. Some guy cuts you off in traffic and you flip him the bird. Sure he could have hit you, but maybe his life is in crisis, maybe he’s just been diagnosed with cancer and flying down the highway makes him feel like he can run away from the fact that his body has turned against him. You don’t know. I don’t know.

Walk a mile in their shoes.

I hate canned phrases. They loose meaning, taste, texture, and nutrients from overuse. Yet this phrase keeps coming back to me lately. Walk. A. Mile. In. Their. Shoes.

We don’t try to see others, not really. When the lady at the checkout counters says, “How are you?” she’s just passing the time of day and expects the canned “fine” in return. A few weeks ago my husband and I were in line at Target. The lady asked me “how are you?” and I replied instinctively with a cheery “fine,” when in reality my heart and head were tangled and screwed into a gordian knot. I’m surprised my lie didn’t merit the tile floor below me splitting open to swallow my mortal flesh.

All that to say, I think I see people now. I haven’t learned yet how to deal with it, but I can see them. The man who holds the door for me at the library and smiles his “good afternoon” more with his grey eyes than his lips. The angry lady at the grocery store who is harassing the checkout girl. The checkout girl being harassed by the angry lady. The man on the side of the road, shivering in the cold, clutching a sign for food.

If seeing is a sign of life than maybe it’s the first sign that I’m beginning to live. If I live then maybe I can use my life to touch the needs in people around me.

So it’s 5am. I’m confused, awake, tired, frustrated, scared, hurt, and alive. ALIVE! Alive with a chance to live my life, not through others, but my own life. A chance to step out and try and touch the needs in other people with the gifts that I’ve been given.

I don’t know what that looks like. I don’t know where to start. I don’t know why I’m telling you this. I’m not even sure where this post is going! I guess I’m just hoping to be seen by someone. My husband sees me. He knows me. Sometimes I think he knows too much of me. But right now I just need to know that someone else out there sees me too.

Can you see me?

Stephen Fry on Grammar

In the early days of blogging, I stumbled across two individuals that I feel have an amazing handle on the English language. Their vocabularies astound me and the ease with which they throw together a sentence blows me away. Reading a paragraph by either of them is like standing ankle deep in the ocean. Wave after wave of words undulates along the sand of your mind to tickle your senses and yet you never feel overwhelmed. You just stand there in awe at the vastness of the paragraph before you and glory in the soothing sensation you receive from reading the words. They fit. They flow. They amuse. They have a life all of their own, the way writing should be, regardless if it is meant to be funny or serious.

While catching up on one of these two peeps this week, I glanced through the comments and saw something that nearly made me laugh out loud (which was a problem because I was in was in the library. They frown upon such behaviour there.)

Some person, perhaps well meaning or perhaps self satisfied, had approached one of them with a little cough and “ahem” and said “excuse me but run on sentences are not proper grammar.”

I have a secret for you world out there. MANY bestselling authors who make LOADS of money employ the occasional (or frequent) run on sentence when writing. If you’ve missed them, then you aren’t reading enough. I greatly admire the ability to use a run on sentence. I don’t think I possess it myself. Mine end up looking very much like a run on sentence, and, I’m fairly certain, do not cause my reader to have the ocean like experience that I derive from the two people above mentioned. In fact, I believe it was Neil Gaiman that I was reading, when I realized an ENTIRE paragraph was composed of one long, flowing, beautiful run on sentence. I went back and read it twice because It was so perfectly composed.

I love grammar. I love language. But please, writing is ART! Let us not mock the Picasso’s of this generation. It’s one thing to not buy a tee shirt and advertise your stupidity, but it’s another thing to prevent a painter from using the colors that they choose on their own canvas. So, writers, go ahead and move the ear to the collarbone of your creation. You have my permission and sympathy, as well as Stephen Fry’s and he’s a lot cooler than me. 😉

My Song

You would never tell a bird what song to sing.
It’s theirs by nature
It’s unique
Beautiful
So why must you write the music to my life?
It’s mine by nature
Unique
Beautiful
And mine
My story
My soundtrack
My symphony
I want to sing it solo and let the notes
Flat
Sharp
Harmonic
Dissonant
Sound from my trembling lips as I soar

© Rachel Svendsen 2015

The War of A and B

A and B do not agree
And neither will repent
In separate rooms they sit and brood
Refusing to relent

For A’s been hurt by B you see
When cruel words were flung
So A retreated thence to brood
Upon the words that stung

Oblivious to bleeding wounds
B shrugged and shook their head
B always speaks what B believes
Opinions in truth’s stead

The pride of B is not alone
For A now holds a grudge
Refusing to confront the past
A now B’s ruthless judge

B knows that there is something wrong
And tries to offer love
A thumbs their nose, rebuffs the gift
Until B just gives up

Retreat now A and B! Retreat!
In trenches bide your time.
Cast bombs of hatred from afar
Don’t cross the enemy line

For pride will wage its war in each
Until that line is crossed
There reconciliation waits
To bring back what’s been lost.

© Rachel Svendsen 2015