Sleeve Notes 101: 05/22/2005 - 05/29/2005

Friday, May 27, 2005

Nuts or Not

Some times you feel like a nut. Some times you don't. Almond Joys have nuts. Mounds don't. Some times you feel like a nut. Some times you don't.

I like Almond Joys. I don't like Mounds. The weird thing is that I don't like the nuts on Almond Joys. One would think then that I would like Mounds...but I don't. Guess you could say I'm a little bit...nuts. For the past several days, I've felt considerably nutty. Doing anything other than getting out of bed is a chore. Sitting down and writing an even bigger chore. Why is it that sometimes it's easier to stay in bed with the covers pulled over our head, than to get up and face the world?

I would hate to say that I've been depressed because that wouldn't be an accurate description. The more honest assessment would be that I just haven't felt...anything. I'm a pretty caring person and so to feel nothing seems odd to me. How is one supposed to handle these moments of apathy?

That question has been rattling around in my brain for the past couple of days. If I would have had an Almond Joy, I probably would have made short work of it (spitting the nuts out of course). Lacking that fix, I turned to the scriptures this morning for a bit of inspiration and what I read made me realize that sometimes we all feel this way. We get tired of caring for the world or even for ourselves. Often there doesn't seem to be the payoff we hope for and after a while, we get tired of trying. Why keep fighting battles or caring for others or ourselves, when we don't see any results? It can make even the most determined of us feel a little nutty.

This morning I read in Galations the "fix" for my apathy. So let's not allow ourselves to get fatigued doing good. At the right time we will harvest a good crop if we don't give up, or quit. I'm beginning to wonder if the payoff isn't directly related to the amount of discouragement or apathy we have to overcome. On those nutty days where we would like to pull the covers over our head and be done with it, maybe the best medicine isn't Paxil at all but rather consistency. Maybe to see the payoff, we have to get up, get dressed and carry on...even when we don't feel like it. I wonder if by allowing ourselves to bath in our nutty moments, we aren't cutting into the reward promised.

Sometimes it is good to remember that there will be a payoff and that payoff will come when the time is right. I'm very American in my timing. I want it and I want it RIGHT NOW! And when it doesn't happen RIGHT NOW then phoey on it. Then I read in James that I shouldn't try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.

I guess on those days when I'm feeling nutty, I should remember that since the Creator hasn't given up on me why should I? Whatever it is that causes me to feel nutty, it will pass and when it does, I will be a stronger, healthier individual. Which just might be more than I would be if I laid in bed and ate Almond Joys all day. Nutty is alright! As long as I remember that it isn't where I'm supposed to live and it's prepping me for the real treat...a stronger, healthier me.


Thursday, May 26, 2005

Rose Soup Anyone?

An idealist is one who, on noticing that a rose smells better than a cabbage, concludes that it will also make a better soup. -- H. L. Mencken

I'm really good at telling people what to do! I come up with great ideas and then have no problem laying those brilliant ideas on others to implement. Let's just say, I have some great recipes for rose soup!

I'm a dreamer who, a lot of times, has difficulty differentiating between the dream and reality. If it sounds good in my head, then it's going to be even better in reality. Except that often times the reality ends up tasting like a steaming bowl of rose soup. For those that don't's pretty nasty (yes...I've tried it)!

Often times, my great ideas end up leaving those that I am trying to better feeling like I've just set off a stink bomb in their lives. I run in, all jazzed by my brilliance, get everyone else all jazzed up, then run off, leaving just the recipe that I've created in my head. Being an idealist means that I don't have to taste my recipe before hand. I already know what it tastes my mind.

Meatloaf is a big favorite in my house. In fact, it's probably the favorite meal. One day, with a little time on my hands, I decided to add my own spin to the meatloaf. I whipped it all together and threw it into the oven. An hour later, the smell was wonderful and mouths were salivating. I quickly pulled out the plates and dished them up. Because I tend to run 100 miles per hour, after handing the plates out, I needed to do a few things before actually sitting down to enjoy my creation. "Hey baby?" I heard coming from the living room (yes...dinner often gets eaten in the living room). "Did you do something different to the meatloaf?" YAY...A little recognition of my brilliance!! "Have you tasted it?" Hmmmm...not the comment I was expecting and so I tasted it. Did you know that uncooked rice thrown into a meatloaf does NOT cook through and become soft? It just ends up looking like maggots and is crunchy. Good idea that wasn't thought through! wasted meatloaf and a very hungry, slighty angry family!

Sometimes, if we would just take a minute and think things through, we might just find that rose soup ain't that great of an idea after all! Being an idealist comes with it's own set of responsibilities. It's good to live with your head in the clouds! But if you don't have your feet planted firmly on the ground, you are liable to end up with...rose soup! Smells good but it's not very satisfying!

Learning balance is probably one of the most difficult things for those of us who are dreamers or idealists. Why can't others see what we are seeing, or better yet, build our ideas into the vision using the recipe we've left them with? Could it be that in all our excitement over the dream, that we've forgotten to throw in a little common sense? Those of us who tend to be dreamers or idealists shouldn't feel bad about's a gift! But as with any gift, we've got to balance the dream with a little common sense! I'm learning! In the meantime, I promise not to serve up too many dinners of raw rice and meatloaf or bowls of rose soup!

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Listen To Your Heart

I was on the phone last evening with one of my best friends. As always, we chatted about non-sensical stuff and, having gotten that out of the way, we moved on the weightier stuff. She was preparing for a follow-up conversation with that important someone in her life and needed to talk. As I listened, I thought about how we often let our brain or the common-sense side of us, outweighed our heart. We lay out plans regarding where our lives should be in five, ten, fifteen years, and fail to take into account those things we can't predict. Most of the time, life ends up happening while we are busy planning for it.

I begin to wonder if perhaps we don't shut ourselves off from really experiencing love because we are too busy planning for when it will happen. We have all these check points that must be crossed off before we will open ourselves up. We need a certain amount of money in the bank. Our career needs to be at a certain definable point. We need just the right sized house and the right cars. And once all of these things have been carefully checked off, then we can allow ourselves to listen to our heart. Have we become so preoccupied with how we think things should be or should look, that we allow the perfect person or perfect love to walk out of our lives simply because they didn't show up when we planned? Are we so busy looking for perfection that we've missed what's right in front of us?

As I lay in bed last night, I thought about the love of God! For God so loved the world that He gave his Son that whoever believed should not perish but have never-ending life. That's my paraphrase of John 3:16. God loved all of us so much that He gave the ultimate sacrifice. Most of the time, we end up running around looking for that perfect love when in fact it is right under our noses. Then when we find it, all too often, we contemplate walking away from it because it doesn't fit into our "time-line." Why are we so willing to give up the perfect love? Why don't we listen to our heart?

Maybe we are afraid of being labeled emotional. Maybe we are afraid of opening ourselves up to love because of past hurt. Whatever the reason, more and more, I'm witnessing people shut themselves off from love because it doesn't fit into their limited plans!! I love the show Dead Like Me (Showtime) which revolves around the lives and responsibilities of grim reapers. Recently Showtime did a marathon of last season and I was able to watch the episodes I had missed. In one episode, the newbie reaper was really struggling with her assignment...reaping the "soul" of a young girl. It was explained to her that the decision to "reap" wasn't had already been made. Her job was simply to "reap" the soul at the predetermined time. She questioned what happened to the soul if she didn't. The answer gave me a moment of pause. The soul, she was told, withers and dies inside of that person. It becomes ugly, bitter, hateful. It doesn't care how negative it becomes or how much havoc it wreaks in other people's lives. It becomes a lonely, hated existence. Is that what happens to love when we forget to listen to our heart? Do we become less capable of experiencing love because we turn it away?

Plans are good! Plans are wonderful! But when they don't leave any room for our heart to talk to us, then those plans don't do us any good!! It's important to listen to our head!! It's every bit as important to listen to our heart!! Give in to love...even if it doesn't fit into your plans!! You might just find your plans fulfilled in ways you would have never imagined!! Love can do some crazy things!!!

I don't know where you're going and I don't know why, but listen to your heart before you tell him goodbye!

Monday, May 23, 2005

Love v. Hate

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. -- Galatians 5:22,23a

This past weekend was the Gay Pride celebration for my city. I live on a main thoroughfare directly across from a beautiful park and the beach. On Sunday, the 17th Annual Gay Pride Parade was held with over 75,000 participants. And guess what, it goes right down my street. Sat. evening, I made certain both cars were parked in the garage, which is off our back alley. Sunday morning dawned beautifully with lots of sun and a few wisps of fog. As I went out front for my morning cup of coffee, I noted that the street was shut down. What a beautiful sight...not one bit of traffic to spoil my early morning cup of coffee with a magical picture of the ocean dotted with hundreds of sailboats.

By 7:15, the street in front of me was starting to fill up with various floats and parade entries. I talked with one of the street marshals and found out that the actual parade started about two blocks north and that the street in front of me was being used as a "staging area." There they were...three deep. Across the street at the park were a group of "drag queen" cheerleaders warming up to one of Britney Spears' more outrageous ditties. In the middle was another group that was a bit less interesting and as such quickly forgotten. Nearest me was a group from the local Methodist Church. This piqued my interest. I quickly counted about 30 people in the group that would be marching in the parade. Many of them carried signs that proclaimed the love of God. In fact, most of the signs seemed to center around this theme that God loves everyone.

Soon, friends began to arrive at my house for brunch. With lawn chairs on our front lawn, we enjoyed each other's company, the weather and the fascinating preparations for this parade. As I was running around entertaining, one of the women from the church group asked if she could take a quick break in one of our lawn chairs. As she sat down, I glanced at the sign that she carried. God Wants Spiritual Fruit! He does NOT want religious nuts! I wanted to chat with her, but with a living room and front lawn full of guests and so much activity, by the time I had a moment to catch up with her she was already gone and their group was being waved to the front of the line as the parade was about to begin.

We had so much fun watching as the many parade entries passed us. This was obviously a time for fun, but not just fun, this was a time for gay people to say "I'm proud of me!" The fun was infectious! As the morning drifted into afternoon, the energy only seemed to get stronger. At times I witnessed poignant sadness as survivors of those who have passed from AIDS marched in solidarity against this cruelest of diseases. I watched with complete fascination as the crowd erupted into cheers as a group called PFLAG marched by. PFLAG stands for Parents, Friends and Family of Lesbians and Gays and is an organization dedicated to strengthening the relationships of gays and their families. As this contingent walked past, I thought of some of the coming out stories I've heard that have resulted in gay people being completely shut off from their families simply because of their sexuality. No wonder the crowd reacted so vigorously to this group. Here were families who loved their kids for who they were.

I received a phone call from a friend who was about 4 blocks from me. She and her husband were there to be with her sister and since we hadn't seen one another in quite a while, I thought I would wander down the parade route for a quick visit. Ocean Street was packed!! As a people watcher, I was in heaven. God certainly has created a wide variety of people!! With the sun shining, the fun associated with the parade, the general attitude of festiveness, it almost seemed the perfect day.

As I rounded a corner, I was suddenly struck with something foul, the likes of which I've never witnessed personally. Standing on a stage, with a bullhorn in one hand and a Bible in the other, was a preacher. Surrounding him were several people carrying signs. I caught my breath, hoping against all hopes that I wasn't seeing what I thought I was seeing. God Hates FAGS! Fags deserve to be in Hell! AIDS is God's punishment to you! To continue down the street, down the parade route, I had to walk right past this group of people screaming scriptural obscenities and hate at each person who crossed their path. I was sickened as this self-proclaimed preacher told of a God who hated homosexuals and that they were going to rot in hell...and not soon enough!

I was able to finally meet my friend and it was so nice to visit a bit with she and her husband. By the time I got back home, the parade was over and the street sweepers were cleaning my street. Soon the traffic flow returned to normal and by day's end, I was able to sit down and reflect on the many sights I saw. As my mind turned over the many sights and sounds, I realized that two images of God were presented today to the gay and lesbian people of my city. One image was seen by each person who marched in that parade. It confronted them and condemned each one of them. There was no escape. God hates YOU was the message that was sent.

As I thought about that little, yet very loud, group of people, I realized that most gay people don't like Christians for good reason. We are always condemning them! Then I thought about the Christians I first met when I was still lost. They didn't condemn me at all. In fact, they were rather like the people from the Methodist Church I saw marching in the parade. They told me about a God who loved me...right where I was! They lived the fruits of the spirit listed in Galatians! They didn't condemn me! They just loved me! I found that so interesting and desirable, that I ended up looking for and finding the source of that love.

I never did get to see the little lady from the Methodist Church carrying her clever little sign! But I think I'm beginning to see what she meant. There are some nuts out there using annoying bullhorns, who say they are speaking on behalf of God. They preach that God hates certain people! If I were to believe them, I'd be screwed! I'm glad that God didn't condemn me! I'm glad He loved me!! I'm glad He loved me SO much that He gave His Son! I'm also glad for people, like the little church lady, who are willing to live out the fruits of the Spirit! Sometimes just one light goes a long way in a world where darkness and hatred prevail!