musings of a malcontent

seattle native, teacher w/out a classroom, bookkeeper, drinker of coffee and red wine, a constant work in progress

Archive for the category “love”

You Have to Bloom Where You’re Planted

to share a passion with someone is a great thing. there’s no trying to explain WHY you like what you’re doing. there’s no need to explain frustrations and joys and sacrifices that it requires, because they get it. there’s no need to justify your motives because they are the same. I’m not sure exactly where my love of the ‘foodbank demographic’ came from. best I can figure, is it started when I was the event coordinator for a youth group I worked with for a while. we went on a trip down to the Dreamcenter down in LA. it was my first real hands-on experience working with the homeless and poor and relatively forgotten population. it moved me in ways I wasn’t aware of at the time. my job on that trip was also to keep track of kids, so my attention was split. but, the seed had been planted. my 3 hour shift on Mondays down at the foodbank is quite truthfully the most well-spent and rewarding 3 hours of my week and I usually look forward to it a lot. sometimes it’s hard though. there are weeks that are frustrating because the attitude of the patrons is bad, which makes me go down that road of “what are we here for, these people are all takers and are doing nothing to better themselves.” sometimes I spend time trying to explain to people who don’t understand why I’d want to be down there with these people, and as clearly as I may think I’m being, they just don’t get it which makes me wonder if I’m crazy for doing it. and some weeks, like this week, it’s uplifting and wonderful. I heard a quote from a radio host yesterday that I love. I’ve heard it before but in context to what I’ve been processing lately regarding the ‘foodbank demographic’ and such, it was very timely and worth repeating: “You have to bloom where you’re planted.” I’ve been planted in an area where there is this need. everyone has their things that get them excited, not everyone’s is this. but it’s mine. and so I must do it. one of the most rewarding parts for me has been meeting the fellow volunteers and the staff I work with down at the Northwest Harvest foodbank on Cherry St. it makes me feel like what I’m helping with matters, which is encouraging when I’m feeling down or uncertain about it. a student at a local college did a video for one of her classes on the foodbank, featuring 3 of the employees and loaded with pictures of my fellow volunteers and the patrons themselves. I thought it was wonderful and worth sharing. I truly love these people and what they do and they sum up how I feel but can rarely articulate myself:

I couldn’t get the video to post directly to my blog but if you click the YouTube link it takes you right there…


a culinary epiphany

it was one of those moments where all noise and sights and smells ceased to exist momentarily. the only thing i was aware of was the taste explosion happening in my mouth and the delicious fragrance wafting up to fill my nose with pure delight.

bacon wrapped dates with goat cheese.

i had my malbec, she her merlot…  it was a post-work dinner and drink girl’s night. we sipped our wines, and savored the small plates of food. marinated olives, pear and goat cheese bruschetta with balsamic reduction sauce, warm caprese over crusty bread, and the plate the stole the night, the glorious bacon wrapped dates with goat cheese. never have i had dates, outside of an unfortunate tryst with a fruitcake maybe, and my skepticism was put to rest. she suggested them, i trusted her, and i’m all the better for it.

the aroma of the bacon, the crunch followed by salty baconny goodness that only bacon can have, followed by the soft sweet date that melted together with the cheese… it’s been many many hours since i enjoyed them and i’m still revelling in their goodness.

my dancer girl

you are so many things to so many people. you twirl between selves, split up selves of one whole. you throw yourself into each self with all that you are. to some you are teacher, to others a shoulder to cry on. to one, a great love, to others a sister and daughter and friend. you are serious, you are silly, you are sometimes destructive and young. to others you are an old soul with decades of wisdom pouring out of your twenty-something mouth. but i wonder…

i wonder who you fully are? when complete, when truly being still in who you are, who are you? i think of you often, my dancer girl. who you are most happy as? are you all of the above or are you piece-mailing yourself out catering to who needs which part of you? are you happy? are you stretched too thin? are you confused and frustrated? are you steady and strong? i wonder…

you have been a Godsend to me, my dancer girl. years may separate us but in you i see a kindred spirit. a person to whom i learn from, invest in, and cherish with my whole heart. but i often worry for you. you dance to your own beat, for that is who you are. but i hope you find rest in it, my sweet sweet dancer girl.

showing up

yesterday i was listening to a news story about a beautiful young girl who committed suicide. she was a musician who was incredibly talented. she would have regular shows at local coffee shops and whatnot. the hosts of the radio show started talking about how her Facebook page was full of her posting things inviting her friends to come out and hear her play a certain night. lots and lots of times the response was “oh i wish i could tonight but i can’t!” or “any other time and i could.” or “i will try to make it out.”

the hosts got to talking about things like that and then my mind started to wander. how many metaphoric coffee shops are we invited to that we never make it to?

life is busy. but things that are important we make time for. and when we time after time fail to show up for people, it give the impression that we don’t care. i know there have been time where i’ve not gone to things. it would be unrealistic to expect everyone to go to everything they were invited to. but are there friends or people that we always INTEND to go to there things but just never do? or those that we assume are so fun and popular that someone will show up so it’s ok if we don’t? i’m guilty as charged. sometimes, we need to do what is mildly inconvenient for our own lives to show up for people. there are a lot of things that were probably factors in this girl’s sad death, it is no one’s fault. but it got me thinking. she had pure talent. she wanted nothing else than to share her gift with the world. i have friends who want to share their gifts with the world. so would it be so awful for me to show up to support those in my life in sharing their talents? no.

whenever i hear of a suicide i think back to a time when i had a friend who i used to write to when i was in jr. high. seems ages ago! who writes to each other anymore the old fashion way? i miss those days. but i digress. her and i would write back and forth. she had moved to a different state and would often tell me she was lonely or sad or missed people. i’d do my best to encourage her and try to make her feel better. in later letters she told me that my words, small as they were,  were enough to lift her out of the funk that she was in. apparently she had been seriously considering suicide. she never told me, but she said it was nice to have someone she could talk to, even if it was every week or so via handwritten letters. i still to this day do not know what it was that i said that helped. but i’m glad it did! she’s doing wonderful now. but i think back to this whenever suicide is brought up. it can be a thought in anyone’s head.

i have another friend that attempted a couple of times unsuccessfully to commit suicide, this was before i knew her. she was admitted to a place for a short period of time and was finally given the treatment she needed.  when we had reached the “safety zone” i like to call it, in the friendship, when there was trust established, she told me the stories of what she was dealing with then and still. i made her promise to never do that again! she promised and i told her i was serious. but, that’s not enough. i don’t bring it up. we don’t talk about it, because for the most part it’s not a current issue in her life.  but i make time. i need to make time. with others besides just her.

going around constantly worried that your friends are going to kill themselves isn’t the point. the point is showing up. it’s being there. you may not always be able to. that’s not the point either. it’s just the simple act of from time to time letting them know they matter and are thought of by you.

lessons from the foodbank

something was missing from my life.  something that was fundamental to my happiness, to what i felt i was made to do, and that is the food bank.  after my 1st tryst into serving the homeless and those who just need a help up, i was hooked.  i think i was petitioning to take youth kids to the union gospel mission downtown seattle to the point where the other leaders finally caved.  in hindsight, that particular site, the main men’s shelter downtown probably wasn’t the SAFEST of the places to take the youth to get a taste for this type of service, BUT, they have to start somewhere.  after that i dabbled a bit in other things such as campaigning and collecting to get socks to hand out to the downtown homeless alongside another group that was handing out hot drinks and coats or something.  i tried to help coordinate block parties in the “projects” district of seattle.  what was more of a flop than a success and left me feeling frustrated and skeptical of my fellow christians as to their heart for the homeless and down trodden.  it wasn’t until a bit later that i realized that it’s not everyone’s deal.  not everyone is comfortable in this area.  and for a really long time i was hurt by the lack of equal enthusiasm that i felt to help the people who just needed to be shown love.  i became jaded towards my friends and church community for a while.  but i know now that there are lots of ways to show that type of love that’s so unshakable you can’t help but be changed by it.  they had their ways, and i had mine. 

i’ve been at a new food bank volunteering now for about 4 months.  it’s the Northwest Harvest food bank downtown seattle and i’m there every monday from 12-3.  i LOVE love LOVE getting to leave work for 3 ish hours to go down there. it’s sometimes emotionally and physically draining but it’s the kind of drained that leaves me feeling great.  sometimes i get the boring jobs or the gross jobs but keeping in perspective that someone has to do it so it may as well be me that particular day.  sometimes i get to bag food or sort food or portion out food and sometimes i get to be out front interacting with the patrons of the food bank.  i’ve grown to really like my fellow volunteers and the people who work there as managers during my shift.  oh! there is another Jeanette believe it or not! she spells it the same and everything.  it’s a little unnerving how similar we are.  the more we talk and get to know each other, the more similarities i see.  i think, that she’s a pretty good glimpse of how i’ll be when i’m her age.  i would guess that she’s in her mid to late 40s.  maybe.  there’s another volunteer named Bob.  Bob volunteers about twice a week and he’s an older gentleman who loves to be there, loves to chat and loves to serve his guts out.  Bob is a retired teacher and football coach and he’s hilarious and such a positive person to work with.  there are sometimes groups of kids who come down to help so they can get their community service hours for school i think.  they are a little less enthusiastic about being there but i think every kids should experience this and see how blessed and lucky they are and if they happen to “catch” the compassion bug in the process, then they’re only better for it! there are a couple of groups from some local downtown businesses that send people down once a month which is cool.  Paul Allen’s company has a group that i worked with a few weeks ago. they were so surprised that i was there individually and not with a group.  but, i think for the most part, the weekly volunteers like me, are just there because they want to and it works in their schedules.  regardless of why people are down there, it’s a great group of people. 

and the patrons… oh the people who come thru! last week on the day i was there,  a little over 2000 people came thru the food bank.  i recognize some faces and some are new.  some are old, some are mean, some are the sweetest and greatest you’ll ever meet.  some are with kids, and some are on drugs.  some are there to scam and get as much as they can.  some are embarrassed they’re there and just need a smile back.  some are younger and some are insane.  and i love them all! i chose to not look at the negative that there is, so much as the good on the whole that is being done there.  yes, there are security guards there around the clock, and yes there are sometimes incidents but in general, it’s just people getting food and people giving them food. there is a lady who i’d guess is probably in her 70s who dresses to the nines.  i mean, she walks in thinking she looks goooood.  and she does. the last time i saw her she had on a very lovely flower skirt with her best silk striped shirt with a fur coat and a hat that has got to be vintage and worth something.  oh and the clip on earings, lets not forget the huge earings that look like they could double as chandeliers! i love her.  she has the sweetest smile.  some of them just need smiles and maybe someone to ask them how they’re doing.  usually the response is positive.  sometimes not and you get sneered at or ignored or grunted at.  or they don’t understand english enough to know what you’re saying to them.  but whatever, i still love it!

there was a gap of about a year or so where i didn’t volunteer anywhere.  i missed it.  and, as strange as this sounds, i feel more emotionally and physically and mentally healthy now that i’m back doing it.

the opposite of loneliness

what is the opposite of loneliness?

is it being with people? or is it simply feeling that you are loved, even when physically alone?

the latter i think.

C.S. Lewis wrote in “The Great Divorce” that loneliness, complete separation from love and relationship is the ultimate hell.  a bleak and hundreds and hundreds of mile spread span between each house.  and even if they could reach their neighbors, they didn’t want to.  they couldn’t. 

he’s right.  the opposite of loneliness is love. simple love. knowing that if you reached out, someone would be there.

sitting in my room alone, i feel not loneliness.

as i gaze up at photos,

at small mementoes of great memories, at cards received, at the candle burning next to me given to me by a dear friend, at my calendar full of things past done and things still to do and of things not known but awaiting me and my world of people…

i know without a shadow of a doubt that i am loved.  sitting in my room alone i am not lonely.

impatience for that ‘someone special’ to come builds up and up. but strip that away, take away all excess things i feel i need to be complete but don’t,

i’m not lonely. 

to love, simple and plain… negates loneliness.  let us love,

without strings.


What Teachers Make, or Objection Overruled, or If things don’t work out, you can always go to law school

By Taylor Mali

He says the problem with teachers is,

“What’s a kid going to learn

from someone who decided his best option in life

was to become a teacher?”

He reminds the other dinner guests

that it’s true what they say about teachers:

Those who can, do; those who can’t, teach.

I decide to bite my tongue instead of his

and resist the temptation

to remind the other dinner guests that it’s also true what they say about lawyers.

Because we’re eating, after all,

and this is polite company.

“I mean, you¹re a teacher, Taylor,” he says.

“Be honest. What do you make?”

And I wish he hadn’t done that (asked me to be honest) because,

you see,

I have a policy about honesty and ass-kicking:

if you ask for it,

I have to let you have it.

You want to know what I make?

I make kids work harder than they ever thought they could.

I can make a C+ feel like a Congressional medal of honor

and an A- feel like a slap in the face.

How dare you waste my time with anything less than your very best.

I make kids sit through 40 minutes of study hall in absolute silence.

No, you may not work in groups.

No, you may not ask a question.

Why won’t I let you get a drink of water?

Because you’re not thirsty, you’re bored, that’s why.

I make parents tremble in fear when I call home:

I hope I haven’t called at a bad time,

I just wanted to talk to you about something Billy said today.

Billy said, “Leave the kid alone. I still cry sometimes, don’t you?”

And it was the noblest act of courage I have ever seen.

I make parents see their children for who they are and what they can be.

You want to know what I make?

I make kids wonder,

I make them question.

I make them criticize.

I make them apologize and mean it.

I make them write, write, write.

And then I make them read.

I make them spell definitely beautiful,

definitely beautiful,

definitely beautiful

over and over and over again until they will never misspell either one of those words again.

I make them show all their work in math.

And hide it on their final drafts in English.

I make them understand that if you got this (brains)

then you follow this (heart)

and if someone ever tries to judge you by what you make,

you give them this (the finger).

Let me break it down for you,

so you know what I say is true:

I make a goddamn difference!

What about you?

not to be missed

my dad loaned me the book “Miracle in the Andes” and i honestly wasn’t quite sure what i would think. i have to say, it was one of the best books i’ve read in a long time. i was certainly pleasantly surprised. it’s a true story about a plane full of rugby players from Uruguay whose plane crashes high up in the Andes Mts., they were there for 72 days. it was full of raw emotion, graphic word images, and definitely not a book for those who want to believe that the world is a cushy little bubble full of kitties and unicorns. i was also captured by the writing. the way he described things, from a wordsmiths perspective, was great! anyhow, you should read this book. it challenged me quite a bit too.
one thing that was a topic of discussion through the book was death, clearly, considering their situation. there were several quotes from the book that i wrote down. some because i just loved the wording of it, but some because it was just a good quote and spoke to me. one in particular was:

“The opposite of death is love. How had I missed that? How does anyone miss that? Love is our only weapon. Only love can turn mere life into a miracle and draw precious meaning from suffering and fear.”

there were many other good lines from this book, and like this one, they all kept me thinking.

a prayer

the reasons for my sins are petty

symptoms of ignorance,

and a misunderstanding of your grace.

i stumble and fall all the while

clamoring to get a glimpse and piece of you.

your faithfulness and love are thirst quenching,

they are enough.

i am in love with you and do a shoddy job,

a shoddy job representing you and your mission.

but time and time again i am wrapped

in your arms.

swaddled in your presence and peace,

and for that i am eternally grateful.

the problem with negativity

the problem with negativity is that it’s consuming.  it seeps into every aspect of your life and begins taking over before you’re even aware of it, and when you do realize it, it’s a very unsettling feeling.  i’ve been unable to identify my moods and how i’ve been feeling lately, all i knew was it wasn’t what it once was.  i went to bed last night in that bad mood.  my sleep was restless, i was irritated and my heart just felt heavy.  i woke up this morning at 5:00 and was still in that mood.  i thought about getting up and going for a walk or something but the rain was pretty persistant so i decided to forget that idea.  i laid there and had a good conversation with myself, something that’s been in order for a while.  i started thinking of the reasons for my discontent.  and as i began mentally going over that list, it struck me just how selfish and self-absorbed i’d become recently.  the things that were bothering me were not unreasonable for someone to become some-what upset over initially, but to continue in it or to not do anything about it or to not just choose to get over things or to not confront the people who i felt certain ways about… that was entirely my fault.  not having a teaching job for the fall threw me for a loop and i began to sulk.  feeling like an odd-man-out at church made me feel unliked and i fell into a whoa-is-me mentality. and i got really frustrated with a family situation.  these things aren’t all really that horrible to feel from time to time.  but to let them go on and on unchecked, isn’t.  i realized how infantile i was sounding and had to do some rationalizing in with myself.  ok, so the teaching thing isn’t my fault.  many many teachers are not going to have a job either so i’m not alone and the state, contrary to how i may feel, is not out to purposefully deny me specifically a classroom.  and regarding church, my feelings weren’t valid.  while it may be taking longer for me to adjust than i thought it should, that is not the fault of those who have done nothing but welcome me with open arms.  there will be personality clashes in any environment so why i thought this would be different is beyond me.  and i felt that certain people who had switched to this church with me were fitting in better, and i began to feel jealousy filling me up.  this is not ok either.  he’s not “more popular,” they don’t “like him better,” he’s not becoming any less my friend just because he’s made new ones. quite contrary actually. what he did was offer his skills and gifts and is being utilized.  i have not done that.  i have remained in part on the sidelines.  which isn’t a bad place, it’s just not fair for me to be jealous and begrudge him any good will simply because i have not stepped up my game and he has.  this is something i intend on remedying very soon.  although i will not over-commit… i tend to do that.  and on the family front, my frustrations are valid.  i am just trying to go about fixing how i feel by myself which isn’t working.  so i just need to re-adjust my tactics.  the other thing is my home life.  my roommate has been in a moody and grumpy phase on and off for a while.  i love her but lately it’s been a little rough for me.  she’s processing some things which have led her to some discoveries about herself which is hard for her to handle, and she tends to get moody anyhow, but lately it’s been amplified and has made me feel like i’ve been living in perpetual negativity.  work offers some break from that but lately not so much.  our ongoing audit, the kick up of business for summer, some personnel issues… it’s just been a day to day deal as to whether work will be a happy place or not. 

all of these things are in and of themselves justifiable ways to feel from time to time.  compressed into this exact moment in my life they just fed off of each other and by my allowing them to fester into MY being negative and not dealing with it, my entire demeanor and mood and heart became heavier and darker.  my conversation with myself was HUGE.  self-realization, prayer, and deciding to kick negativity in the caboose literally changed me.  i went back to sleep about an hour and a half later and that was the most restful sleep i’ve had in a week.  i know this will take some on going self-maintenance but i feel lighter.  my shower felt like it was doing more than cleaning my physical body.  it felt like it was washing off the layers of grime inside, which may sound dramatic but that’s exactly what it felt like.  negativity is part of life.  it’s up to us what we do with it and how often we engage with it.  i’ve also noticed that lately, when asked my preference on things, that it’s been far more easy for me to list the things i DON’T like rather than the things i do. happiness is going to make a comeback in my life.  IT WILL.  the other day i made a list of things i loved.  we tend to focus on our irritations over our joys sometimes so making this was a good for me.  i’d encourage anyone to try it. 

i love inside jokes of the mischivious kind.

i love the glow of soft light, of candles, of fireplaces and little Christmas lights.

i love romance.  the thought of being wanted like that makes me smile. and i hold onto the belief that it will soon find me. however cheesy that may sound.

i love words.  with them you can create and express and reveal and inspire.

i love how writing can use those words to create song and poetry and reveal the emotion and life that courses through us.

i love having a meal of crackers, cheese, fruit, and red wine.

i love studying people; examining why they behave how they do.  everyone has a back story to share and they do, whether verbally or not.

i love books.  they teach, they take us into a world unlike our own, they hold endless potential for adventure.

i love blueberry picking.

i love working with clay. the moist and form able goo at my beck and call.

i love Christmas time at my parent’s house.  it’s over the top.  it’s inviting.  it’s familiar and it’s ever-reminding of what what Christmas is all about.

i love food magazines.  i pour over them, read recipes and articles over and over.

i love the idea of being a deviant but my conscience gets the better of me and i end up in the mild-mannered mouthy malcontent category instead.

i love dangerous things.  volcanoes, sharks, tornadoes, the idea of dragons and dinosaurs and of course, the idea that i would stand firm and brave in the face of all that.

i love beaches. sand between my toes. the warm surface and cool damp underneath.  the smells, sounds, and small and almost hidden treasures.

i love hugs and snuggling.

i love to have my fingernails painted, however girly that may be.

i love old beautiful things like old houses, wine goblets, books, chapels and castles, and little old people.

i love mustard. it’s the superior condiment.

i love smoking cigars, the occasional whiskey and swearing every now and then just for shock value.

i love history.  learning it, visiting significant places and absorbing it, both the good and the bad.

i love tattoos, flip-flops, funky jewlery, most things potato and cheesy natural disaster movies.

i love my family and God and my cherished friendships with every fiber of my being.

i love…

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