Perception or Reality?

perceptionMy latest column from the Albert Lea Tribune on October 3, 2016

I found my summer clothes. The problem with finding my summer clothes is that I was looking for my winter clothes. Do I have you confused yet?

At some point in the last year I organized my closet and my clothes, and instead of leaving summer and winter clothes together in my drawers and my closet, I decided to change them out so I would have more room. I function very well when I am not organized. I forget where I put things when I organize. Remember the place for everything and everything in its place? When things are in place I forget where that place is.

This summer I was sure I had more summer clothes the year before. But, I did remember I gave some of my summer clothes away. Last fall I weeded out those clothes that did not fit and got rid of those I wasn’t in love with. When spring and summer came this year I had four pairs of jeans, a couple dresses, seven summer shirts and a pair of shorts and capris. I washed more than usual. And I must say I got along with those few pieces of clothing choices. I berated myself for giving away some of my favorite items of clothing. I didn’t think I would have done that, but, I could not find them.

Cool weather is settling in. The other day I had to dress up a bit and I shoved and pushed my meager assortment of clothes in my closet to find my fall and winter dress pants. I knew I had some because I just bought them last year. Again, I seem to remember in the spring I decided to organize. But I can’t remember where I put my winter clothes. And, that is how I found my summer clothes. Actually it was Natasha, my beautiful, furry kitty, that helped me find my clothes. She hid under the bed, and as I tried to get her out, low and behold there was a flat storage container slid far enough under the bed to the middle that you couldn’t see it. Maybe I should dust under the bed once in a while.

Excitement filled my veins when I saw the container. I knew I must have put my winter clothes in it. I am not an under-the-bed storage person but I think I recall listening to an organizer guru that said it was the perfect place for clothes. I pulled off the lid and there they were — my summer clothes. My feelings held a mixture of excitement that I found my favorite summer blouse, and a mixture of disappointment because I couldn’t wear my dress pants to church.

Though we welcome the change of seasons in nature, it is perhaps harder to welcome the change of seasons in our lives as we age. One of the things that happens with age besides our bodies changing, is the fact we have history to fall back on. With that history comes knowledge. It is that knowledge of what we have lived through that shapes the choices we make today and the viewpoints we have that affect what we do going forward into the future.

There is a quote about reality by Robert Bolono that states: “People see what they want to see and what people want to see never has anything to do with the truth.” Watching the presidential debate and seeing the comments afterward, I think that statement rings true. Each and every one of us has something we wish to happen for the future, and we back the candidate that we feel matches what we need, no matter what is proved to be false or wrong. We believe unscrupulous websites because they are telling us what we want to hear. And there is something in us at each season in our lives that tells us we can’t be wrong. We don’t want to admit our views could be skewed because what does that say about us?

After the debate there was one statement that people asked of their friends time and time again and that is, “Did we watch the same debate?”

Everyone has a different stake in this election. The younger generation is afraid for their future and the future of their children. They are worried about crime and terrorism and the economy. They want their children to be able to afford college and health care and to own their own home. This is their future. It is the season of their life where they want to grow and flourish.

As a senior citizen, we want to ensure our retirement and our health care. We want to ensure we will be able to afford to live, and one of the differences of us being in the autumn and winter of our lives, is the fact we remember what was, and we are having a hard time reconciling it with what is.

As I hunt for the past season’s change of clothes I hunt for the past seasons of my life and remember the race riots in the ’60s and ’70s. I remember my parents talking about Hitler and the war. I remember waiting for someone I love to come home from Vietnam. I remember the assassination of President John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr. But I also remember neighbors helping neighbors and people standing up against hate. I remember the kindness of strangers and the wisdom of many leaders from both parties. I remember the good and the bad.

It is no different today. We believe what we perceive to be our reality. It is neither right nor wrong because we live the seasons of our lives. Our perception will influence our votes and therein lies what kind of truth we see.

My truth: I am better in creative chaos in my house than organized neatness. That is my perception of my reality.

A Barking Cat? Men in Shorts? Spring is Here.

Something About Nothing by Julie Seedorf- Column from the March 31 edition of the Albert Lea Tribune.

I know it is a sure sign of spring when my cat Natasha starts barking.natasha3

Yes, you heard me right, my cat started barking. I didn’t know she had that ability until recently.

Natasha has always been a little on the unusual side. She is part Siamese so that may explain it. My other cat Boris is big, lunky and lovable, too, but he does not have Natasha’s technique. When Boris decides to investigate something or sneak somewhere, it doesn’t usually work out without my knowing about it.

He weighs 15 pounds and is very large and tall. He isn’t overweight, just big. Boris is like a bull in a china shop when he is snooping. He is not graceful. Things fall when Boris investigates.

Natasha on the other hand, lives up to her name as she is named after Natasha in the “Rocky and Bullwinkle” cartoons. She is slinky and graceful and cunning. She slips into a closet or through a cupboard door with grace and quietness. You do not realize the trouble she is in until you look for her. She doesn’t realize she is in trouble because she is having too much fun being in trouble.

However, as I was sitting at the desk in my office the other morning with the inside door open so you could see out the glass door to the outdoors, I started hearing soft barking. I was puzzled. I didn’t have a dog. I thought perhaps it was coming from outside since it was a quiet bark. I decided I needed to investigate. I walked around a filing cabinet to the door and there was Natasha watching a red ribbon blowing in the wind that was on the wreath outside my door. I still had not taken my fake Christmas wreath off of the side of my house.

I was worried that she had swallowed something and was choking, but, no, she was barking. She is very quiet, doesn’t meow or make her presence known by making sounds, but there she was barking. I picked her up, took her outside so she could see the wreath. She promptly started meowing. I took her back inside and set her down by the door. Again she was watching the wreath and barking. Finally I closed the inside door so she would settle down.

It definitely was a strange occurrence. Since she was adopted at a young age perhaps she had puppies or dogs where she was. Maybe she was the only cat so she thought she was a dog and now she was remembering her past. Who knows?

I decided to believe that this was the first time she saw the wreath without it being laden down in snow. Or perhaps she was protesting the fact that the sun was shining, the weather was warmer and I still have a wreath in my house.

I do know since the weather has changed she has more perk to her perkiness and so does my loveable lunky Borris.

We are waking up to the signs of spring. The sun is higher in the sky and it stays light out longer.  Smiles seem to come easier to people with the weather warming up. My grandchildren have taken to their roller skates and their rip sticks. People have started jogging by my house. Golf clubs are being cleaned, fishing poles are ready and spring decorations are showing up on houses and in yards.

Facebook is alive with pictures of birds people are seeing at their feeders and the garden stores are starting to be busy. At our house we are busy planning our summer home improvements. The hope of spring is on people’s minds and hearts. They are ever hopeful that the winter is behind us although there are no leaves on the trees yet and snow is still on the ground in places.

There must be people like me who walk past my flower beds and dream of the moments when I see the first little sprinkles of plants sprouting up through the ground.

I must admit my plants in my house are still a little confused by  the weather. My poinsettia is blooming and blooming. It too is hopeful but I suspect it is hopeful that the winter weather stays since Christmas is long past. It may be longing for the season with the reason.

We put a lot of spin on New Year’s resolutions, but I have heard more resolutions now  being made because hopes of spring are in people’s hearts.

“I am going to walk more.”

“I am going to take time to smell the flowers.”

“I am going to learn to golf.”

“I am going fishing more often.”

These are a few of the comments I have heard.

Yet, I don’t recall hearing the words, “I can’t wait to mow the lawn.” Most of what I hear is the fun stuff that revives us after a long hard winter.

Is it time to find out if my last year’s summer clothes fit me? Is it time to dig out the shorts? Is it time to get out my flip flops and flip flop outside? I have to wait for a sign. That sign usually walks up my sidewalk.

I won’t believe spring is here until I see my letter carrier and my UPS driver in their shorts. For me that is the true sign spring is coming.

When they walk up the steps in their spring and summer attire I will know it’s time, time to wake up from hibernation, get out my flip-flops, think about wearing shorts this summer (I usually don’t) and put my dreams about warmer weather into action. How about you?

“Spring is when you feel like whistling even with a shoe full of slush.” — Doug Larson