Category Archives: Challenges

Stupidity, part deux

How long can the Red Fork Hippie Chick shuffle around in Birkenstocks while her Brooks Adrenalines languish in the closet?

Exactly five months, one week, and two days.

I have now put 26 races on my calendar between tomorrow this morning and Dec. 31, including two 15Ks, two half-marathons, five full marathons (two of them back-to-back) and a 50K.

Apparently I’m still a runner.

Yes, yes, I know … I’ve got STUPIDITY … but before you accuse me of being a totally masochistic idiot, please keep in mind two important points:

1. I am not as crazy as this woman.
2. Marathoners (particularly those of the not-very-fast-or-serious variety, which obviously describes me) never count carbs. We simply inhale them.

Pass the Twinkies. I’ve got a race in the morning. Five bucks says I set a PR in the wrong direction … but I should still be finished in plenty of time to hit the breakfast buffet at Ollie’s.

Emily

Caught up

Finally … my plate is almost clear! After running into some last-minute obstacles last night, I managed to finish up the newsletter a few minutes ago. I dealt with a few e-mails that needed attention, wrote a letter of support for a preservation project in Texas, and now I’m ready to start reading that stack of magazines next to my bed.

I’d kind of like to take a shower, but I’m balking at the thought of hot water hitting this sunburn … which did NOT fade to a “golden tan” like I’d hoped it would. (It did, however, dehydrate me and give me a fever and chills. Yippee.)

That’s what I get for tolerating error, I suppose. I’m not sure why I decided to accept a sunburn and sore muscles as the natural consequence of enjoying a pretty afternoon in the garden, but I seem to do it every year … and of course I get the same unpleasant results every year. (Note to self: “Standing porter” is way easier than cleaning up the aftermath when you don’t. I wonder how long it will take me to get the hang of that?)

On the up side, my rotten physical condition today gave me the chance to see, once again, how much my dog loves me. Scout pretends she doesn’t care what I do, but her carefully hidden sweet streak shows through whenever I’m sick. She gets all worried about me and won’t let me out of her sight. If I won’t let her up on the bed, she’ll sit on the floor right beside me, guarding me like a little soldier and making this sad face at me, as if to say, “Mom? You’ll be OK, won’t you? Please?” It’s the cutest thing you’ve ever seen.

I always know when healing is imminent, because about an hour before I start to feel better, Scout ditches me and goes off to relax on her papasan chair in the living room. I don’t know how she knows, but she always does.

I am pleased to report that she is now fast asleep on the papasan, and has been for a couple of hours … which tells me it’s probably safe to take that shower now. 🙂

Emily

Interesting times

There’s a clever Chinese curse that says: “May you live in interesting times.”

Some days are more interesting than others.

A few thoughts that get me through particularly interesting days:

Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely….
Christ Jesus

The sharp experiences of belief in the supposititious life of matter, as well as our disappointments and ceaseless woes, turn us like tired children to the arms of divine Love.
–Mary Baker Eddy

Once in a while you get shown the light in the strangest of places if you look at it right.
— The Grateful Dead

Ye shall know the Truth, and the Truth shall make you free.
— Christ Jesus

Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.
— Christ Jesus

At all times and under all circumstances, overcome evil with good. Know thyself, and God will supply the wisdom and the occasion for a victory over evil. Clad in the panoply of Love, human hatred cannot reach you.
— Mary Baker Eddy

All you need is Love.
— The Beatles

With much love,

Emily

Divine energy

Mary Baker Eddy has a line in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures about how Christian Science “illustrates the unlabored motion of the divine energy.”

I’ve always kind of liked that line, but I don’t think I’ve ever demonstrated it more clearly than I have in the past few days.

I stayed up late Thursday night, working on the Oklahoma Route 66 Association Trip Guide. By “late,” I mean, “slept for three hours and then got up and went to work Friday.”

I got a lot done, but I still had a lot left to do. I went to bed early Friday night (like 5:30 p.m.) and slept in until 10:30 a.m. Saturday.

I spent most of Saturday afternoon and evening trying to finish up the Trip Guide. I ran into two unexpected glitches along the way, both of which cost me a good deal of time and stress. The first was a problem with an ad that refused to print. The second was a much bigger, scarier concern: When I burned a copy of the file containing the entire project to CD, it seemed to copy just fine, but when I attempted to open the file from the CD, I got an error message.

I thought maybe the file had corrupted, so I burned my backup copy to a new CD.

No dice. Same problem. I tried burning yet another copy to yet another CD, this time setting it for the slowest — and supposedly most reliable — burn speed rather than the fastest speed.

It still didn’t work. I tried looking in the inDesign help file, but I came up empty.

I was starting to panic. By this point, it was 5 o’clock in the morning, and I desperately wanted to make a usable CD so I could have my work backed up off-site, just in case something happened to my computer. I was running out of ideas … and I was getting scared. If I couldn’t make a usable CD, how would I get this enormous file to the publisher later in the week? If the publisher couldn’t open the file, he couldn’t print the Trip Guide. It was really starting to look as if I’d just put in all those hours upon hours of work for nothing.

Another hour dragged by. I was getting more frustrated (and scared!) by the second, and I finally decided to cut my losses and try to rest for a little while so I wouldn’t fall asleep during church. Maybe I would think of something brilliant in the morning.

I went to bed, but my thoughts were racing, and I couldn’t seem to shut them off. What if I couldn’t make a readable CD? What was wrong with the file? What if I busted the whole thing apart and burned one page at a time to separate CDs to try to isolate the problem? What if … ?

Ten minutes went by, and I realized I was going to be lucky to get three hours’ sleep at the rate I was going. I was really tired, but I was having a hard time quieting my thoughts so I could rest.

It finally occurred to me that I could pray about this.

At first, my prayers were something along the lines of, “My energy doesn’t depend on how many hours I sleep. If I have three hours to rest, it’s because I only need three hours. ‘Divine Love always has met and always will meet every human need,’ and what I need right now is rest.”

Then it came to me that while I might not know how to fix whatever was wrong with those CDs, divine Mind did know, and since this was right action — it was volunteer work, after all, and the purpose of the project was to help people — I could trust that I would also know all that I needed to know to keep this work from being impeded by some last-minute technical glitch. Mind would show me the answer. I just had to pay attention.

With that idea firmly in thought, I drifted off to sleep.

I woke up three hours later feeling surprisingly fresh and rested. It occurred to me, as I was getting out of bed, that CDs contain read-only files, and maybe when I tried to open the file, the computer thought I was trying to modify it. The error message (now, there’s a metaphysically loaded phrase!) had said something about my not having permission to open the file. I walked into my office, dragged the file from the CD to my desktop, and watched in utter delight as it opened without a hitch.

Better still, despite my lack of sleep, I had a good, productive day. The bathroom sink drain stopped working just as I was about to leave for church. Ron was still asleep when I got home, so I took the drain and stopper assembly apart, found the blockage, and removed it. Then, after lunch, I found I had the energy to clean the bathroom; do five loads of laundry; build a fire; clean the kitchen; feed and water the chickens; buy groceries; and cook and pack our lunches for tomorrow.

Unlabored motion, indeed. It’s 30 minutes past bedtime, and I’m still awake enough to blog. Not bad. 🙂

Hope your weekend was full of “unlabored motion” and “divine energy,” too.

Emily

Almost there

The 2007 Oklahoma Route 66 Association Trip Guide is all laid out. I am now in the process of putting the first round of edits on it (fixing font problems, correcting incorrect jumplines, and other little odds and ends I noticed on a cursory glance at the proofs) so I can print a second proof and give it to our administrator to go over in detail.

God help anybody who asks me to change any ads or make any major alterations to things at this late date….

Emily

Swamped

Expect posts to be a bit sporadic for the next few days. I’m 36 pages into the Trip Guide and working as fast as I can to get it off my plate and out the door so I can get to work on some other projects.

When I get time, I’ll Photoshop the pictures I shot on Route 66 the other day and post a few of the best.

In the meantime, here’s a quick update from the wilds of Red Fork:

1. I saw a scissortail flying across the road in front of me when I was on my way to Stroud yesterday evening.
2. I’ve got tiny narcissus flowers blooming, and I’m thinking about filling the front flowerbeds with Corsican mint, which likes shade and wet feet — two things I can just about guarantee it out there.
3. It’s been very warm lately but started to cool off tonight. If anybody planted early, thinking the risk of frost was over, you should probably start rounding up five-gallon buckets (and bricks to weigh them down) now, so you’ll be ready to turn them upside-down over your tomato plants this weekend. Big milk jugs or Gatorade bottles with the bottoms cut out will also make serviceable cloches in a pinch, especially if your plants aren’t too tall.

I’ll be back as soon as I finish the Trip Guide and catch my breath a little bit. I plan to reward your patience with little tutorials on how to drought-proof your tomato vines, how to get a compost pile to heat up, and how to tease maximum fire out of homegrown hot peppers.

Emily

Prioritizing

For the third year in a row, I am putting together the Oklahoma Route 66 Association’s annual Trip Guide, which is a free publication that contains maps, directions, and other information to help people plan trips down Route 66 in Oklahoma.

I volunteered to lay out the guide for the first time in 2005, largely because I’d had an intuition that the grant money that had always funded the project might dry up, and the guide would need a major overhaul to make it financially self-sustaining.

At the time, I had no idea where it came from, but a year later, when the state suddenly changed the grant eligibility rules in a way that completely cut us out of the action, I realized my intuition was probably God’s way of whispering a warning in my ear to keep the 66 Association — and its flagship project — out of trouble.

I was pretty disgusted with the state’s decision to yank our grant for reasons that seemed capricious at best and politically motivated at worst, but I realized we had just demonstrated the truth of a line from Science and Health that I find very comforting:

“Clad in the panoply of Love, human hatred cannot reach you.”
— Mary Baker Eddy

Although I’m grateful for the sudden insight that told me to take action that protected us from the “human hatred” (or, perhaps more accurately, human thoughtlessness) that cost us our grant, it’s a pretty big project, and I have come to dread the hassles and glitches it often entails.

Still, it doesn’t make sense to think that divine Love — God — would provide us with the way to carry out a project in the face of a financial challenge, but then allow us to fall flat when it’s time to carry out the human actions necessary to avail ourselves of that provision.

With that in mind, I went to bed Monday night thinking, OK, God — just help me to remember that I have access to Your unlimited supplies of energy and intelligence, because I am going to need them when I start working on the Trip Guide tomorrow.

I hadn’t been up for more than a few minutes Tuesday morning when my cell phone rang, and I found myself accepting an invitation to have lunch with a friend I’d originally planned to meet with later in the week.

Over lunch, I grumbled about how exhausted I was, and how much I was dreading this project, and how I’d gotten so busy that sometimes I didn’t even feel like I had the time or energy to pray or study.

After listening to my sob story, my friend — who is very wise — reminded me that it is precisely at those moments when we feel like we don’t have time to pray or study that we most need to put those things at the top of our to-do list rather than the bottom.

If we put God first, he explained, we generally find that we have more time and energy than we realized. The work gets done, and we don’t wear ourselves out or make stupid mistakes in the process.

I put my friend’s good advice to use when I got home. Not surprisingly, I found that after a little “me time” with a copy of the latest Sentinel, I wasn’t at all tempted to rest (as I had been so often in recent days), and the Trip Guide work went very smoothly.

Mrs. Eddy was right: “The consciousness of Truth rests us more than hours of repose in unconsciousness.”

The Trip Guide isn’t finished yet — far from it! — but I’m not worried about it any more. I’ll have all the time and energy I need to get it done.

Emily

Bisy Backson

Sorry I haven’t posted in a couple of days. I’ve been a little snowed under with a big Route 66 project that eats a big chunk of time every spring, and I probably won’t have a hand free to blog again for a couple more days.

In the meantime, we’ll see how many Milne fans are reading this blog. (I’ll explain the title of this entry later….)

Emily

Busy girl

bottletree.jpg

I’ve been a very busy girl this weekend.

I came home from work last night and cleaned the pond filter, adjusted the fountain, cleaned up after the dogs, fed the hens, removed a section of fencing that we were no longer using in the backyard, pulled out last summer’s dead sunflower stalks, mowed the yard, picked up trash around the yard, cleared a shelf and moved it from the bedroom to the living room to accommodate some plants I’d bought, cleared the kitchen table, fried a ham steak, made red-eye gravy and cheese grits to go with it, and picked up a big bale of pine shavings for the chickens.

We awoke early this morning to the ringing of the phone. Bill Kinder, the owner of the beautiful Blue Swallow Motel in Tucumcari, N.M., was calling to report that a hailstorm last night did serious damage to the gorgeous neon at the Swallow and several other Tucumcari businesses. Bill said the insurance companies just won’t cover neon — too fragile and too vulnerable, I suppose — so I started my morning by calling Friends of the Mother Road treasurer/co-founder/all-around good guy Kip Welborn to get a special fund set up to help Bill and the other business owners with some of the repair costs.

If anybody has a few bucks lying around, please consider making a donation to help with this worthy project. Information about the storm and where to send tax-deductible donations to help the Swallow and other historic properties can be found here.

By the time I got off the phone with Bill — who has this wonderful, totally contagious energy and enthusiasm for whatever he happens to be doing at the moment — I was ready to get up and busy DOING something, so I hopped out of bed, threw on some scruffy jeans and a tank top, and headed outside with Ron to change the chickens’ litter and give them a little playtime in the yard.

After the hens had spent sufficient time scratching around and enjoying the pretty weather, we brought them back inside and went over to Swinney’s Hardware to pick up Ron’s birthday present — an umbrella-style clothesline and a bag of Sackrete to support it — and some gigantic nails.

When we got done at Swinney’s, we went to Catoosa to try out a restaurant Ron had heard about. It wasn’t the best place I’ve ever been, but it wasn’t bad. It’s pretty hard to go wrong with fried chicken gizzards, green beans, okra and tomatoes, and fried potatoes.

I spent this afternoon sharpening the mower blades and building myself the bottle tree you see pictured above. It’s not as cool as the ones at Elmer Long’s place in California (the trunk is too thick — I basically just recycled one of the old clothesline supports — and bottle trees don’t really look cool unless you have a lot of them grouped together), but I think it turned out OK, and it reminds me of Elmer, which is nice.

Besides … building a bottle tree is the first sign of dementia concretia, which is the one “ailment” I’d really love to contract. 😉

Emily

More about saying no

I had two conversations today that reinforced for me the importance of the lessons I’ve been learning lately about when it’s appropriate to say “no” to a project.

This afternoon, a friend described a litany of projects that are draining her time and energy and creating a great deal of stress in her life. I could feel her frustration and exhaustion as she told me what she was up against. The sad part was that many of these projects are things she didn’t even want to do; she just took them on because someone asked her to, and she didn’t have the nerve to say no.

Then, this evening, I heard from another friend who had stepped down from her position with an organization that is in the middle of a very large, very demanding project. I think the situation was a little complicated, but if I understood her correctly, the upshot was that it had become very stressful for her, and she did not feel her involvement represented the best use of her time.

As I thought about my friends’ situations, I began reflecting on my own habit of saying yes to everything.

I like to believe that I take on projects out of a desire to help others. That’s a great motive. Helping others is reflecting divine Love — God — which is exactly what we were created to do. Jesus taught that we can save ourselves a lot of trouble if we allow Love to drive our actions.

But as I began peeling back the layers of thought underpinning my actions, I discovered that even in the midst of expressing Love, we can find ourselves drifting into various types of error. For instance:

Fear. How often do we say yes to a project because we’re afraid of what will happen if we don’t? Fear is never a valid reason for doing anything. It will run (and ruin!) your life if you let it, and it can lead you into many other kinds of error.

Arrogance. Sometimes fear stems from an exaggerated sense of our own importance or a diminished sense of others’ value or ability. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve taken on projects because I was afraid that nobody else would be willing or able to do the work, or because I simply didn’t trust someone else to get it right. But intelligence, skill, and generosity are qualities of divine Mind, which we all reflect. Everybody has access to unlimited supplies of those qualities, so there’s no reason for any of us to think we’re the only one smart enough, talented enough, or generous enough to complete a given task.

Selfishness. “I thought of this project. It’s mine, and you can’t have it. I’m going to do it myself because I came up with it.” Ever caught yourself thinking along those lines? I have. Besides being terribly childish, this mindset implies that the idea came from me. But while I am sometimes allowed to serve as the conduit for a good idea, I am never the source. Why, then, would I become rigid and selfish and unwilling to let anybody else have the fun of implementing a particular idea?

The worst part of buying into this kind of error is that if we’re not careful, we can end up monopolizing all the projects that come our way, which deprives others of the joy of helping. (I riffed on that idea here.) Meanwhile, we keep ourselves so busy “rushing around smartly,” as Mary Baker Eddy puts it, that we sometimes neglect things that seem less pressing but are infinitely more important — stuff like caring for our family and friends, spending time with our spouses, playing with our children (including the four-legged kind), or pursuing activities that contribute directly to our spiritual growth.

I’m not suggesting we should blow off all the projects that come our way. We should never become so selfish and insular that we refuse to reach out to others with love and compassion. But instead of blindly saying yes to every request for assistance, we would be wise to examine our motives, and if we find that our answer is motivated by anything less than a desire to express Love, then we need to change that answer. It may be that the project or position we turn down is exactly what someone else needed to express Love more fully, and everyone involved will be blessed by our decision.

Emily