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You Should Be Ashamed

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Day 209

Tonight I was thinking about how, when, and why I first felt shame. I wonder if it is an emotion we are born with, entangled in our DNA strand, or if it is something we are taught.

It’s odd the memories that crept in my thinking tonight. As children, I can remember saying the phrase ‘shame, shame, shame’ combined with one of two gestures. One was the index finger of one hand slid perpendicularly over the other index finger. The other was the index finger bent and placed on the middle finger, sliding from the knuckle to the tip. So bizarre. I haven’t thought of that in 50 years, but there it is, buried in the back of my mind.

I suppose if you were raised to believe in values divided as either right or wrong, it might be natural to feel shame if you did something wrong. But is that shame? Or is that disappointment in ourselves, then multiplied and spotlighted to feel larger than life?

It is unnerving to me to think that as children we used to use these gestures and almost cackle ‘shame on you’ or ‘shamey, shamey’ or ‘shame, shame, shame’. I am curious if this was just something isolated in my little community?

I can remember being told by my parents ‘you should be ashamed’ when I had violated a rule or broken their trust or done something that was otherwise ‘wrong’. Sitting here, I cannot imagine why we would ever tell our children they should be ashamed of themselves.

Don’t get me wrong, I had great parents growing up. They had their challenges later in life, but I always felt we had a good family life. Fairly strict and biblically-based, but still a good, warm, and loving family.

I think I need to meditate on this. Is shame the same thing as disappointment? Are shame and embarrassment the same thing? Looking back on your life, are there things you feel shame about the secrets you keep from others? Is that a fear of being judged? Are mistakes shame-worthy?

I don’t have the answers. I was just stunned by the memories and am trying to sort out my thoughts on this difficult subject.

Blog, courage

The Art of Receiving

Day 208

I remember growing up believing that their were two types of people in the world — the givers and the takers. It seemed to be a lesson in the idea that giving was a construct of good and taking was somehow bad. What was absent in that life lesson was the art of receiving which is quite different than taking.

These thoughts have been running through my mind for several days now. Last Friday I watched a video posted by my friend Kim Halsey. Kim recently retired from Corporate America and is now living her heart’s desires and teaching others to do the same through her business Leading With Heart.

Toward the end of her video, Kim talks about the vulnerability and courage it sometimes takes to just simply receive. After watching the video I had a bit of a flashback to a very similar moment in my life, when just feeling humble enough to receive with no expectation of repayment hit me hard.

Relationships can change you. Especially bad relationships. They can alter your way of thinking and behaving. Expectations you have of yourself can be altered in dramatic ways.

I remember three very distinct moments in my life which distorted and then reshaped my views on giving and receiving.

There was a time in my life I was in a particularly bad marriage. I will not go through all the trauma associated with this time in my life because it is not important any longer. What is important are the continued lessons that come out of that time

  • It was December and we planned a trip across country for the holiday. Because of the expense we agreed we would not buy presents for each other. The tree was decorated, the kids presents tucked underneath the tree awaiting our return home. When we came back, I discovered a gift under the tree for me – a present containing a VERY expensive piece of jewelry we simply could not afford. I, of course, had not purchased a gift – I kept my word. I felt horrible trying to receive this gift because it was one-sided and a violation of the promise we had made.
  • Fast forward years later to my 12th wedding anniversary. Things were falling apart in the marriage at a very rapid rate. I had come off a week of intense arguments and extreme levels of stress in the relationship. At work the receptionist phoned and said there was a delivery for me on its way to my office. We worked in an open cubicle environment where everyone could see you at all times. I was caught off guard when a florist arrived with 12 dozen long stemmed roses. Another over-the-top gift. Again, something we could not afford. The ruckus in the office was a full barrage of adoration and comments like “you are so lucky”, and “I wish someone loved me like that” and “does he have a brother” and on and on. I felt sick to my stomach knowing there was a price associated with this gift. Meanwhile, at home, my now-ex was so sure of himself and asked my daughter if she thought I could stay mad at him now? Trust me, I learned that gifts are not always from the heart and often the act of receiving had a huge cost – it was manipulation.
  • Fast forward to the day of my eventual divorce. Believe me, I was mouthy about it. I took the day off work and told everyone I was going to go get drunk to celebrate. Of course, I was not going to celebrate the demise of my marriage. It was a failure after all. My failure. I left the courthouse and came home and decided to mow my overgrown lawn. I had an old used lawnmower that choked out on me all the time. The blades were dull and the grass was high. I would get about 15 yards and the machine would die. I was sitting on the floor in the garage taking the lawnmower apart trying to fix it when my son came home from school. As he stepped off the bus, our elderly neighbor called for him to stop at her house. Moments later I looked up to see my son pushing her brand new lawnmower across the street toward our house. My son said, “Mrs. D wants you to use her mower.” I looked up, covered in grass clippings and motor oil and just started to bawl. “Why are you crying, mom? This is a good thing, isn’t it?” Indeed it was.

That day mowing my lawn was a turning point. I realized how powerful it is to simply receive with grace and gratitude. I had spent 15 years determined to do everything on my own and not to ask anything of anyone. In the receiving of this gift, I was brought to my knees. I was humbled. Gifts could be given full of heart and good intention without expectations of anything in return.

I still struggle with receiving, but I am better at it now than ever before. I resist the feeling that I need to reciprocate in some way. The beauty of receiving is to acknowledge that you are seen and you are loved and the gift is quite simply just a gift from the heart.

Blog, Mountains, travel

In the Midst of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Part 2

Day 207, cont.

When we left Little Switzerland, we decided since we had nothing pressing to do at home it would be a great day to drive the Blue Ridge Parkway home. Our GPS never lists it as a route, because it is hilly and curvy and the speed limit hovers around 35 or 40 mph.

The Blue Ridge Parkway is a scenic 469-mile scenic parkway that runs between Rockfish Gap, Virginia and ends near Cherokee, North Carolina. As with any project concerning setting aside land as part of a national park, the Parkway was not without its detractors. Today I am thankful it exists. Seeing this protected land makes me wonder how the terrain could have been impacted otherwise.

This is especially meaningful to me at a time when our national parks seem to be up for grabs to the highest bidder.

We stopped at every overlook between Little Switzerland and Craggy Gardens. Just before we reached Craggy Gardens, we decided to make the side trip up to the summit of Mount Mitchell. At an elevation of 6684 feet, Mount Mitchell is the highest peak east of the Mississippi River.

So, with no more words, I will just share the photos from our drive. Enjoy!

I look very unhappy in that last picture! It was a steep little climb in some thinner air for this tired old lady. I was not unhappy at all. It was a truly glorious day!

art, Blog, Lapidary, Mountains, travel

In the Midst of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Part 1

Day 207

Yesterday was not only a cup half-full day it was a cup-runneth-over day. We were exhausted when we got home but it was the best kind of exhaustion!

We had a fairly leisurely morning with coffee and a bagel for breakfast then we headed up toward Spruce Pine for their annual Fire On The Mountain blacksmith festival. This is the third year we have attended. It is the perfect venue if you love moving metal with fire and seeing men in kilts!

On our way, we stopped at our same little road-side vegetable stand and bought a bunch of ramps to tuck away in the cooler. Ramps are a mountain delicacy that grows in moist higher elevations. They are a cross between an onion and garlic — very pungent but delicious. Ramps were one of the early vegetables that native Americans looked forward to after a long winter. There are ramp festivals throughout the mountains this time of year.

We headed on up to Spruce Pine to check out the festival. We always enjoy the youth blacksmithing competition. I love seeing young adults interested in learning these old-school crafts. The ‘try your hand at blacksmithing’ is always popular as are the demonstrations by the master blacksmiths. Hubby found a used Peter Wright anvil he wanted.

 

We met one member of a talented husband and wife team who combines metal, class, and enamel to create some beautiful pieces of art. I fell in love with the gates they make. We were invited to attend their studio tour in early June. Now if I only had a place to install one of those gates.

After we enjoyed our picnic on the tailgate of the car and a trip to the ATM, the 109-pound anvil was loaded into the car and we were on our way.

Since we were so close to Little Switzerland, we decided to check it out. It is a small village just off the Blue Ridge Parkway. It boasts Swiss mountain lodges, gift shops, and a few places to eat. There are also some hiking trails, a book store, and some shops to enjoy. We were not interested in the touristy things so we just rode through and then drove over to check out The Emerald Mine of Little Switzerland. I am a novice lapidary enthusiast, so I am always on the hunt.

We were greeted at the sluice building by the caretaker Barbara. If I were to guess her age I would guess early 70’s. She was a rough-around-the-edges kind of gal. I had to continually ask her questions because she was not forthcoming with information. I discovered she bought the mine as a retirement venture and opened it to the public in 2004. Unfortunately, according to the website, her husband passed away so it may just be her running the place now.

They, like many other gem ‘mines’ in this area, offer buckets you can buy and sluice to find the hidden gems. I asked her if the buckets were salted — a term used to describe mixing foreign materials into the buckets of minerals not found natively in the area. She gave me that incredulous look and said “Of course they are salted. You can’t find that stuff here.”

We looked through the gift shop in an old cabin above the sluicing building. I was surprised to see a sign that listed prices for faceting gems found at the mine. Looking around the place, I could not imagine where this could happen. I turned and asked our host who she gets to facet the stones. She replied, “I do.” It seems. Barbara moved here from Washington, D. C. and faceting was something she had done prior to buying the mine.

We left with the promise to come back at a later time to actually go down and do some digging around the mine (the original mine shaft was closed years ago). She just nodded with the warning to call before we came. We chuckled at our interactions and wondered how tourists ‘from away’ might react to her. Her exterior was as hard as the rocks she sold, but I sensed a sweet soul under the rough exterior.

From there we decided to take the leisurely way home via the Blue Ridge Parkway. It probably increased our drive time an hour or so, but it was well worth the time.

For photos and details of our drive, look for part 2 later today.

Blog, SoCS

SoCS – Expert Curiosity

Day 206

Another chance to write a post stream of consciousness style based on a prompt provided by the very busy and wonderfully generous Linda Hill.

Your Friday prompt for Stream of Consciousness Saturday is “xp.” Use it as a word, or find a word with “xp”in it. As always, use any way you’d like. Enjoy!


I am not sure how Webster defines an expert, but I am sure it must reference someone who has a particular expertise in or mastery of some skill or specific knowledge. I am sitting here pondering whether or not I would ever refer to myself as an expert in anything. I have a lot of different skills and consider myself accomplished in some of them, but I fear I fall short of being classified as an expert in any of them

I am always amazed when attorneys consult expert witnesses and bring them in to testify on their client’s behalf. Of course, the opposing attorney will also have an expert witness who has a different opinion and point of view. So, I guess every field could in theory have a number of experts that believe differently.

I remember being on jury duty on 9/11. We were on the top floor of the federal courthouse building which happened to be the tallest building in town at the time. We paced the top floor of the building thinking we would be excused from jury duty because every tall building was considered a potential target at the time.

Of course, that did not happen. The trial was postponed however because all the planes were grounded and the attorneys could not get their expert witnesses into town.

Mom always had her own definition for an expert. She always said, “X is an unknown factor and a spurt is a drip of water under pressure, so therefore an expert is an unknown drip under pressure.”

Now following that definition, I might well be an expert in many things.


Want to play along with us on SoCS? Amble on over to Linda G. Hill’s blog for all the rules and to read everyone’s contribution.

Blog, Writing

Writer’s Workshops

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Day 205

I have been thinking about attending a writer’s workshop and honestly, I am struggling with whether or not to attend. All my close family members are very encouraging and supportive but I am not sure it is worth the cost. I am extremely interested in any input or feedback on your experiences with writing workshops.

This event is a small 8 person workshop being held at Edisto Beach, South Carolina. A house has been rented near the beach. The event spans four days and is from what I gather there will be time to get together for discussions twice and day during which there will be sharing and advice. The remaining time is set aside for writing. Now, writing at the beach sounds delightful to me, but I’m not sure of the value for the cost.

There is also a one day conference hosted by the North Carolina Writer’s Network in November. The cost is much more reasonable and the conference will be held closer to home. I would have the opportunity to select from multiple tracks and even attend Master Classes (which I may not be ready for) or submit an excerpt to a slush pile to be read and evaluated by editors. Some of this sounds frightening, but it is more geared toward lectures and possible feedback from well-established authors and editors.

Now, I know I am staring down my ego that is telling me I cannot do this. I know I need to take a leap, but I am struggling on which leap if I am only able to select one. I am not really looking for someone to answer that question for me, I know that is completely up to me. But since I am out of my element, I would love it if anyone had any experiences to share.

This is where my head is tonight and I think I’m going to go meditate for a bit and see if I can clear out a few cobwebs around this decision-making.

Tomorrow we drive up to Spruce Mountain, NC to attend Fire on the Mountain – a day of blacksmithing and forging demonstrations and education. It is an event we attend every year – it’s hubby’s thing, but I do love to snap pictures of the events and the drive is simply beautiful. We may have the opportunity to buy some ramps on the way home, too. Eggs and ramps Sunday morning! Here are a couple of pictures from last year:

Jason Knight
Jason Knight, Forged in Fire Judge
Smelting
Smelting Demonstration
Ramps
Ramps, cleaned and ready to cook