I had high hopes for September. It seems, however, September had other plans. It flew right by and nothing I thought about doing or started doing really got done. But I'm okay with that even as my heart sinks just a tad. With any luck, there'll be another September next year.
When I was growing up in Michigan, September was one of my favorite months of the year. The leaves began to change color. There was a slight nip in the air giving a hint of the cold months that were to come. School started up. Even though I felt a little trepidation, it was a new beginning. There was chance that this would be The Year. New experiences, new situations, new pencils. I've always thought the calendar should have begun in September.
Anyway, here it is the end of another month nine of another year in the life. Christmas is already invading the box stores and markets. Halloween is right around the corner and poor Thanksgiving gets its one day to be center stage. And it will all sweep by like a great Santa Ana wind.
It is best to say nothing sometimes. So I will give it a try here:
No, its not easy to say nothing. There's always that compulsion to say something. So I'll just say "Ta Ta For Now, Septemeber. Better luck next year!"
And of course,
Hello October. You are just in time.
On Sunday mornings the LA Times and Riverside Press Enterprise are chocked full of coupons. It goes way back.* And, before I go any further, yes, I still contribute to the killing of trees by getting the printed LA TImes newspaper Thursday through Sunday and just Sunday for the Press Enterprise. And yes, I do look at the online version of both papers during the week. But something in me just cannot give up this quaint method of delivering the news. But, no, it is not for the coupons!
This morning I had the luxury of time to puruse the papers stacked on the dining room table. As I did so, I came across the ads and coupons manufacturers and merchants so generously have printed for inclusion in the Sunday papers. So many! Normally I toss them into the recycle bin without looking at them. But today I set them aside to see if there are any worth clipping and carting to the local supermarket or drug store.
Now I know based on past personal performance, I may go through those coupons for shampoo, dog food, paper products, cleaning products, on and on. I may clip them out and set them by the back door where I will see them as I leave to do some shopping in a day or so. I even have a large clothespin thing that I put them on so they stand up and smile at me, expectantly, hoping I will take them to the store to be redeemed.
But I also know I will most likely either forget them, or leave them in the car when I go into the store. Of course if they do make it with me into the store, I will probably grow frustrated trying to find the items as the market I'm in doesn't carry that brand or is temporarily out or hides it in an aisle I wouldn't be meandering down like where diapers or canned foods are stocked. So the coupons go home with me hoping to go with me the next time I go shopping.
So getting back to the actual clipping of the coupons, I carefully read the amount to be discounted that might be based on the amount required to purchase offset by the initial price minus the amount saved compared to the generic of the same product and whether it is something I actually would use. A lot of thought for a little savings.
I remember one time I was at Von's. I was behind a lovely woman with two baskets full of groceries. I got into the line without thinking. As I was not in a hurry, I decided to just wait and see what developed. The cashier was very patient. She rang up each item efficiently and with great speed. The final tally was somewhere around $200. The cashier then asked for the lady's coupons. She handed a major stack to her. I was fascinated. The cashier later told me this lady comes in once a month which explained why she was so very prepared and patient. One by one she rang in the coupon. Bit by bit, the total dwindled. Would you believe the final total was about $2 and some cents? I figured the customer had earned it. She'd done her homework. And it paid off. And I was entertained to boot.
But even that experience has not led me to religiously or laboriously clipping my coupons each week. Yes, I did set them aside this week. Maybe I will go through them. Maybe I will be able to use them...especially if I remember to take them to the market with me. Maybe I just need more incentive. I remember when "double coupons" was the rage. Perhaps they need to bring that back.
In the meantime, clipping coupons is something to do on a raining day. Sadly, here in Souther California it has not rained in some time.
*According to Wikipedia, "in 1886, The Coca-Cola Company was incorporated in Atlanta, Georgia, with Asa Candler as one of the partners. He transformed Coca-Cola from an insignificant tonic into a profitable business by using advertising techniques. Candler's marketing including having the company's employees and sales representatives distribute complimentary coupons for Coca-Cola.Coupons were mailed to potential customers and placed in magazines. The company gave soda fountains free syrup to cover the costs of the free drinks. It is estimated that between 1894 and 1913 one in nine Americans had received a free Coca-Cola, for a total of 8,500,000 free drinks. By 1895 Candler announced to shareholders that Coca-Cola was served in every state in the United States."
Have you ever made a note to your future self and then, forget about it, so much so that when you stumble across the note again, find it is just what you need to hear, a surprise, an epiphany? Well, that's what I just realized I did a while back.
I do believe that when the student is ready, the teacher will appear. A while back I saved this quote as a draft post here at QT&M. I guess I thought it was meant for me, but I wasn't quite ready to hear it. So I saved it. Well, here I am, getting back to writing and creating images and the like, and the student, it seems, is ready.
The truth is the truth. What can I say? I guess it's time (again) to show up and be seen. The quote reads:
'I think midlife is when (God) gently places (His) hands upon your shoulders, pulls you close, and whispers in your ear:
'I’m not screwing around. It’s time. All of this pretending and performing – these coping mechanisms that you’ve developed to protect yourself from feeling inadequate and getting hurt – has to go.
Your armor is preventing you from growing into your gifts. I understand that you needed these protections when you were small. I understand that you believed your armor could help you secure all of the things you needed to feel worthy of love and belonging, but you’re still searching and you’re more lost than ever.
Time is growing short. There are unexplored adventures ahead of you. You can’t live the rest of your life worried about what other people think. You were born worthy of love and belonging. Courage and daring are coursing through you. You were made to live and love with your whole heart. It’s time to show up and be seen.''
- Brené Brown Learn more about Brene Brown at http://brenebrown.com/
I remember being told not to dwell on something that has happened. "Don't dwell on it!", they would say. The "they" was all the adults in my life growing up. I do believe one of their favorite idioms was, "Don't cry over spilt milk." It was always as if suppressing the feelings, facing the fears and anger would do something to your well-being. Sad thing is, as we remember this day for the events of 9/11/2001, I can still hear people saying we shouldn't dwell on it. "It doesn't do any good to dredge up those old feelings."
I wonder how we cannot be given pause on a day like today. I remember where I was when I saw the first plane fly into one of the twin towers. It was on TV. Katie Couric was reporting that a plane had flown directly into the side of the building. At first the streaming pictures made it look like a small plane had flown off course and into the World Trade Center. Then they reported it was a passsenger plane. That is when the horror of that morning began to set in.
As with most of us of an age who experienced the terror, the horror, the disbelief of that crisp, clear early autumn day, we all remember, usually in slow motion, where and what we did that morning. I went to work, not realizing that the towers would soon fall. When that happened, we sent everyone home, closed the office. Just a few of us were left to decide what to do next. We just didn't know what to expect. Would there be a follow-up attack on the west coast? No one knew.
The uncertainty and the anquish of that day comes back every 9/11. How can we not dwell on it? It is not spilt milk. It is something that changed our lives forever. Like so many other security shattering events before and after, it is something that cannot be ignored.
So here I am. Hands folded. Remembering. Thinking something like that cannot happen again. But then there's Paris, San Bernardino, school shootings, assassination attempts, very scary political news every day. And then I realize, this is the new norm, the new reality. And I have to say, I am thinking about it, dwelling on it, almost all of the time.
I am the master of procrastination. I never do today what I can put off until tomorrow. This includes doing the things I want to do as well as those I find onerous. Truth be told, I am more likely to do the onerous before the pleasurable or personally enriching. Well, I have to admit there is a certain measure of gratification in doing the onerous, like laundry or scrubbing the toilet or picking up doggie doo. At least something has been accomplished!
While the above may be something of an exaggeration, there is definitely a large kernel of truth in it. I do put off doing what I really, or at least say I really, want to do. One of them is showing my creative photo work in local galleries. I've done it a couple times now and it was a pleasurable experience. I've even sold a few things. Selling the images is not the goal. Having people view and appreciate the images is. The most wonderful thing someone can say is, "I like that." Aah, be still my heart!
So I am getting on with it. I've said that before I know, but once again, I'm going to do something with my "artistic endeavor." I'm putting this image into the members' exhibit at the Riverside Community Arts Association Gallery downtown. It is one of my favorite creativities. I even sold a copy as part of fundraiser at my church last spring. That was an ego boost and spur onward.
So the point is that sometimes we just have to get out of our own way and get on with it. Everyday offers a new chance to move forward. I have a little book called Show Your Work by Austen Kleon. Basically it about sharing your work and putting out there. No good hiding it under the proverbial bushel basket. So there you have it. Getting on with.
Now to get back to those drooping memoir writing ambitions. A little attention is like water to a plant: a simply yet vital need. It's funny how quickly things come back to life with a little TLC.
When my dad left the coal mines in Pennsylvania to seek a better job, a better life in Detroit, he went to work for Dodge. After a few years he left to work for a now defunct (I think) Excello Corporation where they manufactured mile cartons an large machinery. (Not sure the connection there). My dad was on the team that built the crates the machinery was shipped in. It was a "union house" and he had to join to keep his job. He worked long, hard hours to support his family.
Because of the union, my dad had excellent benefits that gave us full coverage under Blue Cross/Blue shield. My mother had several major illnesses that were all covered because my dad had us covered because of his job. Somehow when he could no longer work because of an injury (illness?), we still had that coverage. I guess that is why I grew up grateful for the unions as they seemed to protect us and keep us healthy.
Growing up in Detroit it was difficult not to be aware of the unions. AFL-CIO, Teamsters, Local Steelworkers, etc. Familiar organizations in every southeastern Michigan home because of the auto industry and all the industries associated with it. That was a long time ago, and times have changed. Unions don't seem to be as strong as they used to be. Jimmy Hoffa has been missing a long time and probably will never be found. I was surprised to hear his son, James Hoffa, being interviewed about the current status of unions on NPR this morning. That shows how little a role unions play in my life these days.
These days the way we work has changed drastically. More people change jobs, free lance, independently contract and the like. I worked for thirty years for the County of San Bernardino. I guess you can take the boy out of Detroit, but you can't take Detroit out of the boy. I wonder how different my life would be today if I had not been so indoctrinated with the ideology of company loyalty, working hard and going for security over personal satisfaction. As it turns out today, I am well fixed and secure, and have a good insurance plan.
The Protestant work ethic (or Puritan work ethic) is a concept in theology, sociology, economics and history which emphasizes that hard work, discipline and frugality.* Source I think those days are gone. Nowadays we still honor labor with a paid day the day off (usually) and having parades and barbeques. Labor is what keeps our country running. How we work may have changed, but on Labor Day we need to remember its significance. “So long as the laboring man can feel that he holds an honorable as well as a useful place in the body politic, so long will he be a loyal and faithful citizen,” was noted in an 1894 House of Representatives committee report.
I guess we all want to be "a loyal and faithful citizen", as long as the "body politic" is loyal and faithful to us.
Happy Labor Day
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Just some cool late summer evening thoughts, musings that have meandered through my mind of late:
This summer has been filled with transitions. I'm ready for a bit of "stay the sameness".
The east coast is being drowned. The west coast is being parched. Surely there's a way to balance this out.
Why does the song, "I'm Just a Girl Who Can't Say No" play over and over in my head? Earworm be gone!
I need to deal with my procrastination as soon as possible. Tomorrow would be good.
Is anybody really watching the store during this election? It seems we are so focussed on whose gonna be next, that nothing is getting done now. Oh, wait, that's what's been going on for sometime. (No more political observations, I promise, for now).
You can't finish a book if you don't sit down and read it. And it doesn't help to be reading three or four at the same time.
I used to think green was my favorite color. Then I looked at my clothes and found a secret preference for blue and tan. Dark blue seems to be my favorite. Of course I like red, I just don't wear it a lot. I don't like to call attention to myself. And I am very partial to reds and yellows and oranges in art and decor. Hmmm. I guess favorite color is a relative thing to what your are talking about.
Sometimes you think it would be easy to sit down and let your mind stream on, you know, stream of consciousness. Try it. It's not as easy as you might think.
Twilight and sunrise are my favorite times of day. Autumn and early spring my favorite seasons. But I like just about any kind of food, junk or nutritious.
No matter how far you let yourself go, there's always further you can go, until you go too far. But they don't teach you that in school.
To me, September has always been more like the beginning of a new year. It was always the time we went back to school as kids, you know, the day after Labor Day as God intended it. But really, it does seem to be the month when everything begins again. Sure the leaves are getting ready to turn brown and fall. Vegetable gardens are having their last hurrahs. Clubs start to meet again. Choirs return to churches after summer hiatus. The new season of television and car models (used to all) begin in September.
So it seems appropriate for me to begin again in what is probably one of my favorite months of the year.
That in mind, I kind of meandered through the day, listless, without a goal or destination. I began to think that it was a hangover from August. But then I realized that Arts Walk was happening in our downtown arts district. The galleries and museums would be open. Some parking lots would be where budding artists and artisans would be selling their creations. Creative types and their patrons would be out in abundance. So I grabbed my camera and out I went.
It was an artist date...in the purest sense.
I started at one of my favorite galleries where my friend would be singing. After a quick view of the members' show and chat with the singer during which I discovered that the lovely song she sang was one she had written when she was 18. She said it was the only song she ever wrote. What a shame, because it was beautiful. I just had to admonish her that it's never too late. And I realized I wasn't just saying that for her...but for me as well.
After that, I went over to the downtown library for the local literary institute was having an open mic night for poets and writers. I had retrieved my Canon from my car after deciding it was time to start capturing images again. And I started with the readers, one by one. And the audience. And passersby. I realized that I was gathering material for creating images. It felt good.
When I left the reading, I went to the art museum where again I captured some raw images. I can hardly wait to work with them. Already the air that was alive with the creative spirit of artists young and old had filled my lungs and, blessedly, awoken that same spirit in my soul. It was inspirational...just what Spirit (capital S) ordered.
I began capturing images everywhere. Probably not as many as I think, but enough to prime the proverbial pump. The well, it seems, has not run dry.
So welcome September. Sometimes you just have to go out and greet the new month and embrace it for all its possibilities. They say life is what you make it. Perhaps this is that time I make it so.