Ringing in the Old

As I read the news this morning I decided to do something different on my blog the next few weeks that doesn’t speak of the virus. As some of you might remember, I wrote a column for the Albert Lea Tribune titled Something About Nothing. I wrote for them starting in 2005 and quit in 2019. I decided to dust off some of my favorite columns and post them on this blog the next few weeks. I am going to take these columns and put them in a new book to be read, either all at once, or a little at a time. My goal is to lift someone up especially at this time. I find writing helps me and I hope my words help you.

This column is from way back and I can’t you what year probably 2009 or 10. Enjoy.

IT’S A MIRACLE

The beautiful tall tree in my front yard that shades my house and keeps us cool is withering. I called the tree doctor. He diagnosed stress from this spring’s weather. He told me my tree would come back but possibly not until next year. In the meantime, I see its withered leaves and know there is nothing I can do to bring it back to health. It has to heal on its own with the weather and the water from the earth.

It strikes me that the tree is like our lives. When the storms of life descend on us, we seem to wither and droop. We feel helpless because there is nothing we can do for some of the stresses in our lives, such as friends’ illnesses, financial problems, and other things over which we have no control. We can only wait and heal until spring comes again.

I have said that it will be a miracle if my tree makes it. We use the word miracle lightly in our lives. We throw the word around as if we do not believe miracles can happen.

Dictionary.com describes a miracle as “An effect or extraordinary event in the physical world that surpasses all known human or natural powers and is ascribed to a supernatural cause….”

Perhaps we are skeptical of miracles because we Christians believe miracles have to be huge. The Vatican and Lourdes carry out scientific investigations of miracles of healing. They have to meet strict criteria to be called a miracle. We also may think of miracles as those in the Bible, such as Jesus turning water into wine or Jesus rising from the dead..

C.S. Lewis stated that one cannot believe a miracle occurred if one has already drawn a conclusion in their mind that miracles are not possible.

I am currently reading Expect a Miracle by Dan Wakefield. This book is about miracles in everyday lives. I expected the book to tell of great miracles that happened in everyday lives such as miraculous unexplainable healing, instead the book opened my eyes to the miraculous things that happen every day.

Do we miss small miracles every day because we are looking for something grand and bigger? Do we throw the word around because we feel a real miracle can only happen if it is huge, like water being turned into wine? Or are miracles happening in small ways inn our life and we miss them because we truly do not believe in miracles? Or we believe a miracle cannot happen for us.

My friend recently had surgery for cancer. It went well. She has been through many surgeries through the years for this cancer. She has a cancer that most people do not survive. I consider her life to be a miracle. I am sure she does, too.

When I see a rainbow in the sky, I know there are scientific reasons for rainbows, but that rainbow always seems to appear when I need it most to give me hope. When my mother died in the midst of a cold February winter, a mourning dove visited my window. The mourning doves hadn’t been around since fall. Usually they come in pairs. That winter, one morning right after her death, one mourning dove visited my window. To me that was a miracle, and seeing that dove made me feel that things would be all right.

My tree is withering, but if just one leaf comes back, it could be a miracle that there is still life in my tree. Pat Gralton makes this statement as she listed one hundred miracles that she sees in her life. This is one of them.

My garden is a miracle. It teaches me everything about life that I will ever need to know: anticipation, birth, joy, changes in color and texture, different shades of the same color, buds, dead blossoms, killing frost, burial, saying farewell, hope for the spring, renewal. (Dan Wakefield, Expect a Miracle, http://www.danwakefield.com/id7.html)

NOTE: My tree lived and is thriving today.

Take A Risk: Look for the Gorilla In The Room

Something About Nothing by Julie Seedorf
by Julie Seedorf published in The Albert Lea Tribune week of June 12, 2017

I saw the gorilla. I did! I did! Because I saw the gorilla it means I am a highly creative person. That is — according to one source.

I read an article this week that said highly creative people see the world differently. I didn’t necessarily think that the highly creative adjective described me, but I have been known to think out of the box and create something weird.

A video accompanied the article. In the video, people were passing a ball back and forth. In watching the video you were supposed to count the number of times the white shirts passed the ball. They did not tell you in the instructions that a gorilla was going to walk through the group as they were passing the ball. I not only counted the correct number of passes, but I saw the gorilla. According to the test, if you saw the gorilla you are a highly creative person.

I tried the test on someone else. They counted but did not see the gorilla. I was astounded. How could anyone not see the gorilla?

The results and the article made me feel better about myself. I have stated before in this column that I do not always feel comfortable or feel I belong when interacting in some situations. I just do not fit in. I realized I do see the world differently. I look at a wall and see what it can be or I look at a building and always see its creative possibilities. I get more than my fair share of skeptical looks when I put forth an idea. I must admit I am always disappointed when others do not see the possibilities, or when I see a change is needed, others don’t agree with me. I can’t believe they don’t see what I see. And they roll their eyes at my crazy ideas.

While waiting for a friend to get through eye surgery this week, I had one of those visual moments.

I was impressed with everything surrounding the surgery. The doctor, the nursing staff, and the care were excellent and so was the coffee. It was a quiet relaxing atmosphere and the staff did everything above and beyond to make my friend, the patient, comfortable. The surgery went well and was successful.

I was offered coffee and sat back in the outpatient’s surgery room to relax and wait. That is when this problem I have with visual creativity kicked in. The room was dark browns and tan and plain. It made the room feel smaller and was kind of depressing to a person that likes color. It was not cheery; it was drab. I felt someone waiting for minor surgery and was nervous, needed light, calming, cheery colors. I could visualize a positive, calming statement scrolled on the wall. I wanted to feel the ambiance of sunshine in the darkened windowless room.

Granted we weren’t there very long, but it was refreshing to leave the room to open skylight with sunshine pouring down upon us.

That is exactly the reason I get scowling looks at times. I see the visual possibilities when constructing something, which lifts our moods and makes us smile.

I loved the article and the test. It made me feel I was not alone in what I have felt all these years. It gave me permission to be different.

Many of us spend valuable time trying to be like everyone else so we will be accepted. There are those brave individuals who have invented outrageous things we have in our world today who were probably told their creative idea would never work or become a reality. In fact, sitting in the medical facility, our conversation centered around the technology for a vision that is so advanced, eye sight is being improved and saved –procedures that were dreamed of years ago but thought to never be possible in reality.

I like color. Others like tan and gray and others live with what they don’t like because it is more accepted to be tan and gray rather than risk seeing the gorilla in the middle of the room and being branded as different. Accepting those differences in each other would cause all of us less stress.

I have a friend visiting Ireland and Wales. She has been posting pictures of the rows of colorful houses in these countries. The pictures contain pink houses, green houses, yellow houses, purple houses and orange houses situated right next to each other. I envied those people. The last people who tried a purple house in my community were scrutinized and criticized because their purple Victorian house ruined the neighborhood. When they moved, the next owners painted it a neutral color. I was one of the few that was disappointed.

We are surrounded by color right now with the leaves and the trees. I got creative and painted some old dead bushes in my yard a soft green. I like my works of art. They let my light shine.

If you see the quiz, take it. Will you see the gorilla? If you don’t, will you let your neighbor who sees the gorilla, see the world differently and accept them for it?

How Did The World Get So Topsy-Turvy?

Something About Nothing by Julie Seedorf
Published in the Albert Lea Tribune on October 12, 2015

bad dayWe don’t live in an optimistic world; at least we don’t if we listen to ever-present media. There are days I want to say “Stop the world, I want to get off.” I do want to go on living in this world, but I can’t believe some of the things I hear or see. It makes me sad, and I want to stop and isolate myself from everything. The news drags me down, and it sucks the breath out of the optimism of life. When I let those feelings influence me, I quit seeing the beautiful world God created for all of us.

As humans, we spend our time arguing about happenings that make people so desperate they have to pull out their guns and massacre innocent people. We ask ourselves why our kids are so stressed and anxious, many having to be put on medication. We ask ourselves how sick we have to be before we can go to the doctor because we can’t afford it. We are scared to speak because it might offend someone or we might say something that is not politically correct, and we will be bombarded in the media for innocently not knowing what we said was not acceptable. Homeowners have to be careful what they build or put in their yards so as to not get citations or get ticketed.

We lock our doors and put in alarm systems to be safe. We lock down our schools. We subject ourselves to searches at airports because of terrorism. Movie theaters are now putting in safety precautions and we are talking about building walls to keep people out to keep us safe. We believe we need to own guns that are semi-automatic weapons; the simple shotgun or rifle or pistol are not enough because they don’t shoot out rounds of ammunition at one time, because it is our right to bear arms and we need to protect ourselves.

We accept all of this — in the name of safety. I think we accept all of this in the name of fear. Fear in our nation is spiraling out of control and putting restrictions on our way of life as we once knew it.

Yet, foul language on television and on the Internet and in the news is rampant. The violence on the shows on television glorifies automatic weapons and murder and violence. Reality shows where everything goes are popular viewing along with disrespect for every avenue of society. The more violence the better the show, or the more we peer into the personal lives of people, the more popular the show. We hang on all the celebrity news waiting to see who trashes who.  And now a new online site is opening up so viewers can critique people. You can give them one to five stars as you do books and give them a review.  We as a general public have filters, and the media does not.

We have turned things around from the ’50s and ’60s. In those days, television and news were censored. Today television and news and the Internet are not censored, but we, the common American person, are. Everything seems acceptable in the news, television and Internet media, but in real life people are censored as to how we can live, what we can say and can be tracked wherever we go.

A news article, yes I did read the news that day, noted a Twin Cities suburb where people were fined and hauled off to jail because they left a ladder by their house or their garbage container was sitting in front of their garage. I shudder to think what would have happened if they had painted their house an unacceptable color. In another city, a father had to take down a treehouse they had built for their son because it wasn’t accepted by the city’s building code. It was a common tree house, the kind we built all the time when we were growing up.

An apple farm didn’t think when they put up a sign that somewhat mimicked the Black Lives matter movement. I must admit I didn’t think anything of it when I saw the sign. I didn’t connect the two, but they were raked over the coals on the media.

In the workplace we have to be careful so we don’t call women girls. I am old and happen to like being called a girl once in a while. I thought nothing of it when someone would joke with me and call me a girl or blondie when they walked into the office where I worked.

I wonder if today we don’t take ourselves too seriously. There is a common sense line with all of these subjects but I wonder if we haven’t crossed the line in the other direction so much so that it impedes upon our freedom.

An article in my local newspaper, the Wells Mirror, highlighted a family of three generations of law enforcement, the Linde family. The first generation of this family was police chief when I was a teenager. I cannot tell you how much respect I had for this man and now have for the rest of his family. They work to keep us safe.

I also have a friend from a four-generation law enforcement family. Three years ago the fourth member, a Montana state trooper, was gunned down on a Montana highway while stopping to help what he thought was a stranded motorist. The man was lying in wait for a law enforcement official to kill. These are only two families of many that work hard to protect our freedoms. I was raised to respect that uniform and to thank them for their service, especially with the ever increasing danger they face today.

We again have turned things around in this day and age and many are trying to make our law enforcement agencies the enemy.

This old brain doesn’t understand. This old brain mourns for what our children do not know they have lost because they have never known the freedoms we knew. How did the world get so topsy-turvy?

The world I grew up in wasn’t perfect. Maybe it only seemed as if we had more freedom. Maybe the adults of the ’50s and ’60s felt the same way then when they were at the age I am now. I don’t have answers.  I only have questions.

 

“Human spirit is the ability to face the uncertainty of the future with curiosity and optimism. It is the belief that problems can be solved, differences resolved. It is a type of confidence. And it is fragile. It can be blackened by fear and superstition.” —Bernard Beckett