Under Cover

Today, when I was walking on a macadam road between hiking trails; a slight wind came up and a deluge of brown leaves took flight.flying-leaves

I thought it was pretty.

Then, I thought, “there goes my leaf cover in the woods.”  Soon, the leaf cover will be replaced by snow cover.

Some of us are concerned about “cover.”  For example, our cats have always been wary of open yard (of which, we have little), and when outdoors seek the cover of shrubs, trees or garden plants.

When the leaf cover has gone for the winter, I feel something akin to naked, exposed, or empty.  Snow cover doesn’t provide the same sense of enclosure and protection as leaf cover, because it’s cold.

The first thing most of us think when we hear, “under cover,” are spies.  An under cover operative is one who has assumed another identity – they’re somebody else for a time, so that they can obtain covert information while remaining safe.  Their real identity is protected by their concealed one.

“Cover” is a euphemism of sorts for “blanket;” and most introvert personalities are all about under the covers.  We like our own company most of the time and are easily overwhelmed, out in the open.  Like our cats, we have an eye toward cover, at all times.

Another simile – like spies, we introverts also guard our identity and feel most of the time when we’re out in the open, that we’re pretending to be somebody else.  All the small talk necessary to negotiate the open makes us feel “not ourselves.”

So – cheers to all the introverts out there; well, not so much out therebut to snuggling under cover for the winter:)


About Opinions – “I DON’T CARE!”

When you read this post, think Kevin Costner’s dad-character in 3 Days to Kill, listening to his teenage daughter’s “special” ringtone selected just for him: “I don’t care!” – and it’s shouted in that throaty, what I used to think was a demonic voice (from Iona’s song, I love it).

This suggestion for how you may approach the subject matter of this post might seem more apropos to teen angst and selfish rebellion than me – an introvert, trying to sift through mountains of cognitive rubbish; and giving up in exasperation.

But, here we are.  I have a decidedly low tolerance for the opinions of others.  There’s also no inkling in my body, mind, or spirit to revere other human beings, pointedly celebrities.  I’ve never had heroes – because they’re human beings with flaws, just like you and me.  I don’t get the reverence for these people.

I just don’t care.

This probably seems a bit ironic, given I’m writing this in the form of a blog post – expecting others (whom I purportedly don’t care about their opinions) to respond.  However, if you think a bit deeper, you’ll see – (I hope), that I highly value the experiences of others (just, not their opinions) and in turn I hope others would value my experiences.

My opinions don’t matter either.

For example, I’d much prefer reading personal essays than follow someone on Twitter. I’m not sure I do social media well.  I wonder sometimes if social media is simply too social, in the small talk sense, for an introverted personality.  We’d rather get straight to the real stuff instead of wasting time on social foreplay.

Opinions are not truth, they’re perceptions about the truth which are framed in a point of view.  Period.  And, everybody has one, just like that appendage at the end of the colon, that expels waste (trying to keep this polite).

There are so many voices in our world, all clamoring for our minds, money, and attention.  I know, when I get on the Internet to research something, I start out excited and hopeful – but end up disappointed, confused, and further askew at having tried to connect to a concept, cause, person, or organization – who aren’t, after digging deeper, what they were presented to be in their social media “trailer.”

Everybody from experts – and what a plethora of them exist on the planet, to “reality” stars or celebrities posing as experts (always in areas outside of acting) hand out advice on everything from child rearing to cooking, nutrition, wealth management, and fashion.  And, they write books about their suppose-ed expertise – books, which ordinary people with just as valid experiences, buy.

I vote for more personal essays online – more people being real and sharing from their experience; and fewer experts, celebrities, or ordinary human beings, telling us their opinion.

I don’t care!

Stealthy cover-up of one’s Crazy!

“I am of the mind that EVERYBODY‘S a little bit crazy – different degrees of crazy but crazy enough. Through STEALTH and espionage, one can cover up one’s crazy and be deemed well-adjusted. But even then, it peeks its silly head out through the generations to reveal the root. It is clear which rock(s) I was hewn from.” – from my 2015 memoirrocky-path

Accepting Loss

dark-clouds-with-sun-behind-and-puffy-clouds-and-blue-sky-alongsideI selected this photo to begin this essay because there is a whole lot of light behind those ominous clouds – and there is a whole lot of light behind grief, too.

I visited my eye doctor the other day. Part of my exam included a visual field test. I worried just a little bit about attention deficit during the test – wondering if I got bored or fell asleep for a second or two while waiting at the ready for any flash of light, however vague or sharp, to appear to the right, the left, above or beneath the center yellow dot that I was instructed to never lose sight of. It seemed like the test lasted forever, but realistically it was probably three minutes for each eye.

Yay – I passed – so attention deficit or sleep apnea aren’t a concern at the moment, at least.

How does this relate to accepting loss, you might ask? Well, I’ll explain.

If you want the cliff notes version of this essay – speaking of attention deficit; then, this is the paragraph for you. The whole point of acceptance of loss is to acknowledge it, even focus on the loss (like the yellow dot in my visual field test), while not losing sight of the periphery which is everything else (your entire scope of vision – all those vague and sharp lights appearing to the left, the right, above and beneath the yellow dot) that makes up one’s life.

Grief – its stages have been identified, even quantified and are well-documented; those stages being: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. In fact, however, the manifestations of grief are most likely highly individual and somewhat chaotic rather than the supposedly orderly, sequential, progressive, nor so easily defined stages that are implied or stipulated in the scientific, clinical, or popular literature.


Awareness of grief and where we might stand in its possible stages might assuage our getting stuck somewhere, unresolved. For example, bargaining sounds familiar, as does denial. We often bargain with God, whether overtly or under the cover of prayer, reason, argument, or resolution to “do better.” And, one wouldn’t be considered a good Christian in some circles if you don’t spend some time in denial.

Grief is complicated. It comes not just at the death of a loved one, but at the death of a relationship; the loss of a job or the demise of an expectation, dream or hope for something imagined – or a combination of some of these means of loss. Grief also arrives at the doorstep of the loss of the healthy functioning of one’s mind or body or the decline of an ability that everyone, aging (and that’s everyone) must either grow aware of or live with its unacknowledged effects.

I’ve had issues with the stage of acceptance, in general. Having grown up under the Protestant work ethic, my learned and practiced response to any challenge to the hopes that were within me is, “I can work it out;” work, being the operative word.

“Accepting the things I cannot change,” control, or fix, is the hard part – the faith part, of the Serenity Prayer. It’s a conundrum and a paradox when I find that my work ethic, evangelical past is at odds with my fundamentalist, faith past – a dueling contradiction.

I get the Apostle Paul’s statement from Romans 7:19, paraphrased – “I don’t want to sin, but I keep doing it anyway.” In other words, I want to accept the things I cannot change, but I keep trying to change, control, or fix them anyway. Let me offer a simile that everyone who has dieted can relate to. It’s like when you determine not to eat something you’ve deemed against your diet, and all you can think about is that food. Can you say chocolate?

The grieving process is important – I’m not certain why. Point of fact, Jesus, in His Beatitudes of Matthew 5 includes among the Blessed – those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. So, there is something to be said for the process of mourning, for at the end of it is comfort – or as the stages of grief proffer: acceptance.gray-and-red-clouds-1Do you remember the biblical saying, paraphrased – red at night, sailor’s delight; red in the morning, sailor’s warning?  Those red clouds at dusk seem overwhelmingly foreboding, but they point to a nice day tomorrow!

My observation and educated guess about mourning is, we are better served if we invite it not to pull up a chair and stay, at length. It’s best that, at some point, we accept the loss. Yes, we should welcome grief as a temporary guest; even immerse ourselves briefly in its embrace, and fully feel it. Then, bid it adieu.

I’m not saying this is easy and I’m certainly not prescribing any time frame for its process. In fact, I’m prescribing nothing, but I am certain that grieving people have to just hurt for a while; swim around in its pool and be saturated by it. No words, no scripture, no gesture will stifle the indescribable pain of loss – until that mystical moment when the veil is lifted enough to actually exhale. We must take advantage of that moment to step out from under grief, move away from it and free our personality and soul from its lingering effects.

Loss is universal, experienced by everyone, everywhere throughout time. Some have had more than their share of loss of loved ones; even the cruel, seemingly untimely loss of loved ones. Others have had to suffer the loss of dignity or self-esteem, maybe many times over. Most of us have lost dreams or expectations, hopefully temporarily only to develop new ones – easier said than done; spurring us toward the new and fresh blank slate of the future.more-clouds-2016

I’ve had some higher education in psychology, sociology/anthropology and family studies and I could cite some studies, theories and philosophies but my Gibbs-gut feeling (as in that of Leroy Jethro Gibbs of NCIS) is that some food, work, alcohol, drug, or sex addicts’ lifestyle choices are the result of grief having permanently camped out in their souls.  The loss of who they hoped to be; who they were expected to be, can’t be reconciled with who they are or who they have become; so they soothe the source and succor the grief – never having accepted their loss.

Some of these gut feelings were confirmed in the first century Greek philosopher, Plutarch’s essay, “Consolation to His Wife.” As graciously as the author of Proverbs 31 commends his wife, Plutarch, in this essay, lovingly approves his wife’s comportment on the occasion of their two-year old, only daughter’s death. He compliments his wife’s conduct as one of “a noble woman and a loving mother.”   She, apparently bore her sorrows honorably rather than splashing about in them, at length.

According to Plutarch, some things one might notice in an individual to whom grief has made its home are: pettiness, narrowness; and a confined, unsmiling and fearful soul.   Everybody’s got their grief’s to bear.   I along with millions of other church goers, have sung the hymn,

  • ’What a Friend we have in Jesus,’ …
  • All our sins and grief’s to bear!…
  • What peace we often forfeit,
  • O what needless pain we bear,
  • All because we do not carry Everything to God in Prayer!”

This hymn goes on to laud Jesus as the perfect friend to share our sorrows, discouragements, burdens, weaknesses and I would add – complaints. Friends, as precious, forbearing, and well-meaning as they are, simply are not as well-equipped to contend with and ultimately dispel our grief as is our God. As friends, we don’t always know how to comfort or aid those who grieve. I know for a fact, I’ve made the effort poorly and certainly inadequately, at times.

Like Job’s friends, what we think we’re offering is comfort, sympathy, empathy, and relief; but our efforts might very well be felt as accusation, schooling, fear, blame, or defeat.   Don’t get me wrong, friends, especially those who have gone through your particular circumstances of grief can be a godsend. Just knowing that someone else on the planet has felt the same way you do is a comfort; thus the success of support groups for various types of loss; from the death of a loved one, to divorce, domestic violence, alcoholism, drug abuse, or suicide.gray-and-red-clouds-2

Plutarch warns his wife, however, against friends offering condolences. He cautions her not to overindulge flamboyant grief but to memorialize the one lost by “transpose(ing) yourself in imagination.” Plutarch says, “It would be a perversity for you to find fault with your estate and chafe at it when others would cheerfully choose your lot even with the affliction which now distresses us. Nay, this present sting should make you sensible of our numerous blessings which REMAIN UNTOUCHED…. Shall we meticulously search out faulty passages in our lives for condemnation and cavalierly neglect the mass of our blessings.”

He suggests we can either quench grief entirely or diminish its size and intensity by tweaking what we pay attention to. I’ve tried this. When I notice myself getting petty, my point of view narrowing, feeling fearful, with a complete inability to smile – I recognize the possibility that grief has attempted to make its home in my soul.

So, after entertaining it for a moment – some might recognize lingering grief as the inkling to feel sorry for yourself or have a pity party for one; I take it to God and together we un-invite all guests to my pity party and switch up the theme of the party – we’ve all heard of divorce parties, wakes, memorial celebrations; all converting the pity party to a psychologically and spiritually useful celebration of what remains intact in our lives, including our memories of the person or thing that is now lost.

In those celebrations we can focus our attention on:

  • Recollecting the good things from the past about the thing/person that is presently lost: recalling the pleasure, delight, happiness the thing or person brought to our lives;
  • Transposing and reshaping our reflectionsfocusing on what the relationship or memory brought to our lives; rather than on what its loss took away from our lives;
  • Bringing to mind the essence of the lost person, memory, ability, dream, hope, job, or feeling – and treasuring that essence in absentia of the death of the concrete relationship or dream.
  • Acceptance.

Through this process of mourning, we’ve transformed our pain of loss to the blessing of Matthew 5:4 – comforting memories. Acceptance allows us to live on in a measure of peace.hole-in-cloudsSee that blue hole in the clouds?  That’s where the blessing is:)


En garde – sort of: My Battle with Insomnia


Here’s yet another case of me – not doing something I’m supposed to do.

You might think I have a preoccupation with sleeping, given the fact that sleep is the subject of several of my essays.  Well, it’s probably a case of “the grass is greener,” or wanting what you don’t have, can’t have, or wish you had.

Sleep at night – every night.

Trying to force sleep.

Consciously letting this day recede into the past, and enter a tranquil present.

Trying to force breath through my nose when my nostrils are solidly clamped down in an allergy-suppressed sit-in of sorts. I try another approach, as if there is another way to breathe. That, having failed, I breathe a little through my mouth, at risk of self-labeling – “mouth-breather.”

What was that “twitch” in my right forearm? Spasm? Always alert to signs of Parkinson’s.

Restless legs – unsettled.

The atmosphere isn’t right. It’s too cold with the fan on but too still with it off – stifling. Covers up to my chin one minute and thrown off as enemies; or thrown over like a discarded beau, the next. Tank top feels just right one minute and peel it up and fan myself with it the next. Night sweats compete for attention with the humidifier – allergy-reliever, at my head.

Which position? Fetal cuddle is my favorite to get started but never for the long haul. On my back is the keeper but not the starting point.   Sometimes – like this time, neither works.

Mantra: sleep, sleep, sleep . . . nothing.

Right fetal cuddle again, covers to chin. Too warm. Throw off the covers. Repeat.   Stop it and decide, Ms. Goldilocks.

Eyes tear up and spill over, burning a little. Open mouth breathing – drool a little. I hate a wet pillow.

Adjust legs so that they aren’t right on top of each other.   Why are my knees so bony?   Overlapping, slightly ajar. Twist ankles into a pretzel, pastry knot.

Read a while. Too tired to read. Very sleepy.   Try again.

Why don’t I drink? From the looks of social media, everyone else drinks, especially wine, especially women.

Tried raiding my baking liqueur stash, mixing a little Kahlua with half a slim-fast chocolate shake; tasty, but didn’t induce sleep.

Random thoughts leaping across genres.

Wiggling feet, ankles-wrapped. Legs moving at the knee, as if on hinges.

Mantra again: sleeping, sleeping, sleeping. Did this ever work?

Nope. Word-find puzzles. Too tired to continue for long.

My heart thumps in my back, then in my arm pit. Very body conscious. My heart flutters in my chest, thumps in my throat and in my arm – under the floor boards of my body, a la Edgar Allan Poe.

Insomnia feels like a big waste of time. Spending time frivolously. Misusing time, somehow.

Insomnia is a reminder that I should be sleeping but I’m not.   Is it defiance? Or rebellion?

Hello – it’s Me; a turkey; & a cat

I’m told by a reliable source, and I believe it – Internet Culture is one with the attention span of a gnat, or a turkey.

turkey-mom-4pic of a Turkey

I’m a newbie blogger that thinks deeply about random things.  I’m also a personal essayist (read more about this in the About section and/or Home pages).

If a post is an essay, it’s likely long for gnat-culture, but worth it if you can take it.  Other essays and future posts will include: random thoughts ranging from: litter, to loss, insomnia, anthropology at the eye doctor’s office, my Paul McCartney epiphany to Let It Be….

Oh, and I’m also told that cats appear big-time on the Internet.  I definitely write about cats (see post about Kitten Culture)

crazy-eyes-in-the-garbage-canSimpkin G

otherwise known as Crazy Eyes, preparing for repose in the office trash can.

Please join me in reverie and/or contemplation about random stuff – I assure you there will be something that you will identify with.

“Kitten” Culture – this is the one about a cat

“Kitten” Culture and a Generation Clash of Definitions


My daughter – an only, came of age, a millennial. That doesn’t mean she displays all the stereotypical traits of an only and a millennial, only one or two of them.   Just like I don’t display all the traits of a curmudgeon, just one will flare up on occasion.

We had a rare tiff over the acquisition, adoption, picking up of a new kitten – for us. She and her fiancé already have two adopted cats and we were left with an only, after our beloved senior, Michaela Jane passed away last year around this time.

I had been unsure and not ready to acquire another cat since I was primarily responsible for several months of the twenty-four-hour nursing care of our beloved seventeen-year-old, Micky and I wasn’t open to taking on new caregiver responsibilities especially of a kitten needing hours of training and patience. I needed to take back my house and heal a bit before I wanted another cat, if ever – the if ever being a real possibility in my mind. I was okay with our only.

Aside from my contentment with an only, it was about the culture of today’s animal adoption. Growing up in the countryside in the 60s, my concept of animal adoption was – a cat or dog was dropped off along the lonely country road and wandered to our house and made itself either comfortable or forlorn looking enough that we took it in and made it our own.

Today’s adoption requires signatures and promises, not to mention prosecutorial threats should you fudge any of said promises you attested to with your name scribbled in cursive.

Our misunderstanding had to do with the definition of indoor.   Now some people don’t fuss with word connotations. Other people take it too far (“I did not have ‘sex’ with that woman” as he wags his finger at the camera and prepares his connotation, rendition, definition of the word sex in the back of his mind). Given the facts as played out in the national media it’s hardly even debatable that what he had with that woman, was sex, but whatever.

To my daughter’s animal adoption culture, indoor means going out only on a leash. For my country casual culture, indoor means the pet lives indoors but can gradually go outside for jaunts, once thoroughly accustomed to his surroundings inside and sufficiently grown up. Then, and only then, he can enjoy supervised, unleashed introductions to the lush flora of our backyard. This we feel is prudent – these guidelines then can be loosened up a bit after he has proved he will come inside when his full name is called in the mamma isn’t kidding kind of voice the kids get when misbehaving.

We were stuck for an instant – my daughter and I. Just like we’re stuck – my husband and I, the sandwich generation, between the silent generation (I don’t get that label – I know nobody from that generation that is silent) of our parents and the millennial generation of our children. There’s culture clash written all over us.simpkin-g-june-2016

About Simpkin G, our new kitten – the G standing for Gloucester, as in the cat from The Taylor of Gloucester from Beatrix Potter. Yes, he was acquired after the short chill had subsided and word connotations sorted out and understood. There are moments – when I aptly call him “crazy eyes” – a descriptive name (or maybe his American Indian name) I assign him when he makes me angry: by threatening to climb the window screens; when he scratches the sofa and runs across my face to leap across the room to scratch the plush upholstered overstuffed chair; when he tries unrelentingly to eat my lunch, on casual days of eating in front of the television; when he literally bounces from surface to surface in a crazed walkabout of some kind that I can’t tap into its purpose but testosterone-infused growing kittens must learn to harness – surely, hopefully.

Simpkin has enjoyed some time-out’s in the basement while I collect myself for another round of his exuberance. He resists, because of his massive display of juvenile energy, passing his interview for second office cat. The result of a tornado strike wouldn’t be a remiss description for his times alone or with Max in the office, unsupervised by human adults. He especially likes to carry out his best hi-jinks while we’re on the telephone – usually with an especially serious human being on the other end of the line. And we’ve had to re-print numerous documents that have been chewed; or re-start a printing job because the manual feed has been pounced upon in mid-production, screwing up the digital intercept. I’ve momentarily wondered when he’s at his wild-animal peaks, or I’ve put yet another memento from a life well-lived – away or up; why I agreed to welcome this unknown creature into our home.

Then, I noticed that Simpkin is awakening bits of my aging brain; with one aggravating act after another. He’s doing the same thing to our ten-year-old cat, Max, who continually annoyed with his taunting, stealing his food, biting his tail, and butting in on his affection from the humans, has become more interested in life – all of life, to which he has grown more alert and extended his lifespan because he’s almost no longer obese (what else can he do as he is a giftedly meek kind of guy and the crazy visitor whom he hopes won’t stay, always plays musical bowls before he’s finished his food).


A number of years ago our daughter brought a kitten home that she tentatively earmarked for gram – an ensconced member of what has been labeled the silent generation (Again I say, who labeled them that? It doesn’t seem like an apt marker for the people I know from that generation). Eleni thought gram needed a kitten to take care of because, living alone for many years and liking cats generally, she thought gram would like the company and something living and breathing to care for outside her own universe.   Not so much. Another home was secured for said kitten and gram was happily left alone.

Our three-family made a combined judgment that gram’s rejection of a kitten for herself was baseless and we collectively shrugged it off.   In recent years, as my own crotchetiness barometer has climbed, ever so slightly, I get some of gram’s resistances – specifically to the new kitten; hosting family dinners; going out to crowded events, and such.

It seems that the status quo is more comfortable than something or someone new, but…. As I look objectively, kind of, at the word comfortable, it jumps out at me in flashing neon light – that the kind of comfortable the status quo offers is undisturbed, accommodation of one’s own insulated world, with no one or anything else in it, challenging one’s ways, choices, habits, routines or beliefs.   That kind of comfortable is self-centered, off-putting by definition and relatively ugly – the opposite of the beauty we may have intended to create when we established our comfortable surroundings in the first place.

What’s comfort without organic, variable, life abounding in, out of, around, and over it – we need prepositions to challenge our minds and enliven our space. What’s beauty without the opportunity to share it – like the tree falling in the forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?

I’ve had the opportunity to observe two widowed women from the so-called silent generation, both in their late eighties. I admit this minuscule sampling is far from scientifically representative, but my anecdotal observations of these two widows suggest a potentially interesting pattern – a coincidence that matters to me.

One, they are women and two, they are widowed – they have no companion equipoised to balance their views. These are two, no doubt, key variables in their approach to life.   They are both fiercely independent, reminiscent of a three-year-old or sixteen-year-old – more oft than not, quoting – “I’ll do it myself.”

Their more than middle-aged children are not perceived as confidantes, protectors, guardians, or dare I say even loved-ones; but as “you people.” They feel their finances, in particular – but all of their personal interests should be private and inaccessible to anyone else – computers and the internet are deeply suspect as are cell phones and other emerging technology. If questioned, they’re deeply offended and vehemently defend their competence to control their own affairs, thank you very much.

A recent dream I had about one of these women, a relative of mine – let’s call her Gladys, pointed out a bottom line lack of receptivity to anything new or present. More important, the dream highlighted a conflict between their generational and my generation’s definitions of family.

A few years ago, a neighbor and I had a conflict of our own over another definitionwhat is a neighbor, and what are our boundaries?   When this woman, her husband and then two-year-old daughter moved in next door, we became friendly; our daughter was around five-years-old at the time. The recent distinction this woman pointed out – not in so few words, nor the same words, was between friendly and friendship. I blurred the two; she distinguished them, sharply.

With over twenty years behind us as neighbors and a dozen or more kid parties under our belts, I thought we were friends and I mistook my corrective advice to her eldest daughter as within my purview as a neighborly, even elder, friend. She didn’t see it that way. She saw our relationship as casually cordial, sociable, and acquainted, but cool, staying at a genial distance, and clear about the invisible boundary in place, of which I was unaware.

I stand corrected; and have adapted to the new paradigm. We live in direct proximity to one another – we are near, close, and adjacent to one another in place, but not in relation.

As to family, we and Gladys couldn’t be further afield in our understanding of family, as our neighbor and I were about the role of a neighbor. Be advised that I have an advanced academic degree in family studies. I know a thing or two about the family unit – through time and across cultures. And, I got tripped up by Gladys about how she sees family compared to how we see it. A clear case of can’t see the forest for the trees.

Gladys’ definition of family is limited to the accurate annotation of relations or, people of similar ancestry. Her emotional definition of family only extends to affable obligatory acts, and demands equality among members – “to be fair.”

My understanding of family widens the connotation to include, emotional connection, importantly – affection, affinity, unity, collaboration, cooperation; and cries out for equity and justice among members. Gladys literally doesn’t get my emotional connotation of family. I get her emotionally-void connotation, and I don’t like it. We agreed to disagree, a stalemate that isn’t the most desirable way to be in relationship, but it is what it is. We’re family, so there you go; checkmate.

The Nonstarter

I was contemplating the sad fact-to-me, that Gladys’ views on family, finances, and fairness haven’t changed in over twenty years, when these views first raised their heads in an environment of deep distress and turmoil in our family. I thought she had changed a few years ago, when there was an unfortunately brief glimpse of a different attitude, demeanor, and approach to the three F’s above – exhibiting a looser, lighter, more balanced and loving life lived. But that change didn’t stick, as we’ve found ourselves with Gladys in a back-to-the-future scenario of tight-fisted, closed-off, bitter tasting deportment in the air surrounding her and her tightly held belongings and property.

Then, as circular thinking goes, I recalled the truism that one can’t change people. We have to accept people the way they are, or fight a losing battle. In fact, the whole of the Serenity Prayer is that we can’t change some things – including people.   We have to accept the things we cannot change – including people, if we want them in our lives. Acceptance of them and their way of life doesn’t require us to like them in the moment, or approve of their choices to live a certain way.   Acceptance with wisdom means we acknowledge our differences but go forward in relationship in spite of those differences.

I recently came to terms with the fact that I was born, serious. Seriously – pun intended – I came out of the womb solemn, grown-up, pensive, reflective, thoughtful, and sarcastically funny. I didn’t smile for pictures and I didn’t laugh easily. When I got tickled, it was more of a rumble from the deep, bordering on a giggle, than anything resembling a laugh.

I have a great sense of humor, but it’s dry and selective – nothing close to slapstick, absurd, farcical or traditionally comical. Most campy and commercial comedy doesn’t stir me in the least. The intelligent use of puns, witticisms, quips and observations of everyday craziness from the likes of Dave Barry and the old Jerry Seinfeld make me laugh, quietly.

With all the pop psychology floating around since I was born, there have been times that I’ve tried to dilute my serious nature and follow “their” advice and play more; participate in jokes – somehow try to get them and react appropriately (I promise I’ve never been diagnosed as having Asperger’s); have someone else’s definition of fun – in the jovial sense that passes as having a good time; and smile with my teeth in pictures. Epic fail – it’s just not me.

Along with my serious nature – it comes with the package, it seems – is a yearning to dig to the root of a matter, any matter; belabor it, work it, try to explain it, and sort its many variables. Then I have to share it with someone so as to affirm my findings.

Part of my growing acceptance of these traits that God created in me is acceptance of the twin – that some issues don’t deserve to be explained, worked on, concentrated on or paid attention to. It’s the sorting out of which is which, the nonstarter from the justifiably worthy issue – that is currently my priority and at the forefront of my mental and emotional down time.

About Simpkin, I’m adapting to life with a loose cannon.   I think he’s relaxing a little bit and so am I. I believe adaptability might be a notable characteristic of ours – the sandwich generation. After all, we came from the loins of the silent generation with one set of deeply honed perspectives that are fixed in stone; and we bore the millennials – another animal from ourselves with a distinctive set of growing preoccupations centered on their own concerns which are entwined with the www opinion of the larger, yet ill-defined culture.

We are the arbiters, mediators, moderators, even holdouts – self-selected decision-makers who settle matters brought to our plates from both our elders and our progeny. Some of what we’re dealing with – across the generations, comes from an ancient source – 2 Timothy 3:1-4: about the last days, with terrible times, when people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, ungrateful, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, brutal, rash, conceited, among other, not so flattering, traits.

The thing is, we’re resilient. We shake our heads as we observe our cultural milieu, but we don’t give up. We put one foot in front of the other and we keep going.

Generational traits are attributable to the conditions under which we have grown and developed. It has been said that skin color is an adaptive trait based (many millenniums’ ago) on this same principal of modification of a structure to fit the requirements of one’s surroundings.

Again, I refer to the Scriptures – Proverbs 22:6 to show that people become who they are, in part because they have adapted to the culture into which they are born. “Train up a child in the tenor of his way, and when he is old he will not depart from it” (Darby Bible Translation). Young’s Literal Translation puts Proverbs 22:6 this way – “Give instruction to a youth about his way. Even when he is old he turneth not from it.”

The tenor of a child’s way in Edwardian England was to be seen not heard. I believe my point can be made without getting into all the generation’s varying ways of raising children and the direct link that can be discovered to these people as they’ve aged.

In fact, the silent generation were instructed in the way they should go during the depression when they learned how to survive deprivation; then the boom of the fifties when anything was possible and the sky was the limit, but…. Some of these people developed a bubble of fear – “what if… what if we have another depression, and the good times don’t last?” Saving everything and living deprived so as to secure an uncertain future; and an “I’ll never have enough,” thought pattern and lifestyle had unwittingly developed.

The sandwich generation – we could be called the changing generation, are stuck in between, in the middle of competing values and thought systems. We grew up in what now seems like the stone age, manually doing many things and even though things began to be automated, we have memories of their predecessors: i.e. washing machines (wringer-washers); typewriters (manual with a lever-carriage return); clothes dryers (line-drying); copiers (carbon paper, “wite-out,” inked mimeograph machines); vacuum cleaners (canister-type pull-along’s).

For years now, we’ve adapted to lightning speed technological growth. We were the first to use computers from six-inch square floppy disks, to disc drives in the all-in-one Mac Plus machines to the digital, Wi-Fi present. We grew up with party-line telephones (we shared a telephone line with neighbors), learned to use cell phones when they were the size of a brick and took two hands to operate and now we can hardly let a day pass without text messaging and knowing we have twenty-four access to everyone, everywhere. That’s some change, baby.

We’re the mediating middle, trying to lighten up our elders and tame down our kids – while identifying with characteristics of both, but trying not to be either. Simpkin, the kitten has secured me in my place in the generations – he’s the link that ties our generations together. He shows me what I’m capable of and how flexible I can be. Plus, he purrs; has blinky eyes and looks at me, unafraid and unwavering, right in the eye, even when he has crazy eyes – a sign of a true keeper.i-surrender-simpkin