One Froggy Morning

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Winter can be beautiful, despite the cold and wind. This morning, the grass was covered with a heavy frost and the air was damp with fog. I hurried up to the park two blocks from my house, which is always a good place to take some photos.I didn’t want to lose the fog. I had nothing to worry about. No sun today.

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Fontenelle Park used to be a golf course, but is now slowly transforming into a city park.

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The park isn’t in a very good part of town, although my very lovely neighborhood is only a couple of blocks away. The park doesn’t get a whole lot of use due to its location, but it’s a beautiful park and one of the bigger green spaces in Omaha.

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There’s a path the circles the park where people can walk, jog, and walk their dogs. At the four directions, you will find sculptures that tell a bit of the history of the Native Omaha people and Logan Fontenelle, for whom the park is named.

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Trees that once lined the fairway now look like oddly placed landscaping.

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I enjoy the macro side of the park as well.

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Nothing like a little frost to make the weeds look beautiful.

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And of course, there’s lots and lots of grass.

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I’m not completely sure, but I think this is red twig dogwood. One of my favorite plants for winter interest in the garden and it grows wild around here.

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Green spaces also make very good places to poop. Just ask the geese, who’s droppings cover the area around the pond. Maybe that’s why the grass is so green here. I’m sure this dog is in olfactory heaven right now.

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A community of Karen refugees from Thailand live across the street from the park. These two bare patches mark the spot where, all summer long, you will find the young men playing either of takraw or volleyball. Takraw is volleyball without using hands or arms. It’s amazing to watch them do flips and fly through the air and the whole community gathers to watch them. I’d love to take photos, but I’m a bit shy about asking. Maybe one of these days.

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I found several of these boxes nailed to trees in the park and thought they were very odd bird houses, as the only way in is from the bottom. I quickly figured out that they’re bat houses. I should put one on my ash tree in the back yard, so perhaps the bats would quit coming into my house!

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After I was done in the park, I notice these barberries across the street. The little snowman peeking out from behind the sign was a happy surprise when I was editing my photos.

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Frost even makes the litter look interesting.

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And finally, I took a photo of the Lo-Lo’s Chicken and Waffles chicken. Just because. And here I thought there was nothing left to photograph in Omaha. Mother Nature is always full of wonderful surprises.

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There Is Power In Uncertainty

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It’s been pointed out to me by a wise and observant friend that I appear to be afraid of uncertainty. I never understood what she was talking about, because after all, I crave change. Homogeny insults my sensibilities. Too much routine bores me to tears. I guess I’m uncertain as to what uncertainty means, so I looked up the definition. Uncertainty is:

  1. not known beyond doubt :<uncertain claim>

  2. not having certain knowledge :<uncertain about her plans>

  3. not clearly identified or defined :<uncertain origin>

  4. not constant :<uncertain breeze>

I think this the dissonance my mind runs into. On the one hand, I crave change and the unknown because I love learning more than just about anything else. On the other hand, I’m afraid of not knowing what the outcome of the change will be. I then take my love of learning to a place of inaction. I plan and study and research, then research some more and knowing I will never know enough to ensure that everything will work out, I give up. I don’t try. I don’t move. My life becomes stagnant and stagnation feels like death to me. It makes me miserable and angry, so I go back to researching and learning so I can figure a way out of my misery. And round and round I go, never getting anywhere. This is what a vicious cycle looks like.

My siblings and I grew up in an unstable environment. Our mother was mentally ill. She was in and out of the hospital for most of our lives. Our father thought he was doing a good job of raising us alone by keeping a roof over our heads, but he failed to realize that we also needed to feel safe and taken care of. He was also sick with a bad heart, so between him and our mother, we never knew what was going to happen next.

We were shuttled off to our grandparents a lot and to spend summers with my parents’ best friends. We had people from the church bring us food sometimes or let us come over after school so we wouldn’t have to be alone all the time. My life was very uncertain as a child and I never felt safe, which probably explains why uncertainty frightens me so much. It’s why I try to control every aspect of my life and the lives of those I love. If I can keep everything under control, everyone will be okay. But things happen. That’s the nature of life. Life is chock full of uncertainty.

So when my yoga teacher spoke of uncertainty in class today, it caught my attention. She said something to the effect of ‘knowing doesn’t leave room for the unknown and the unknown is where all the joy, growth, and expansion in life happens. There is power in uncertainty.’ It took me a minute to let that sink in because my first reaction was “Power in uncertainty? She’s got to be kidding!”

She went on to say that what we want to do is live in the space between routine and chaos. We need routine to feel safe and grounded, but we also need chaos to shake things up so we can grow and move.

It’s like shaking a snow globe. You have a nice, serene winter scene, but the purpose of the globe is to watch the snow fall, so you shake it as hard as you can to make the snow fly. The serenity inside disappears briefly, but the chaos doesn’t last long. The snow begins to settle again and even though the scene looks the same, those snowflakes never go back to where they started.

This lesson couldn’t have come at a better time. I’m about to shake my own snow globe by moving away from the place I’ve called home for twenty years. Life is as certain as it gets here. Nothing much ever changes. And while certainty is comfortable, it doesn’t encourage you to experience all the wonderful things that the world has to offer. Certainty keeps you small and contained and I want to be expansive and free.

I’m trading the comfort of what I do know for the uncertainty of what I don’t know. The unknown is where the fullest expression of life exists and I want to live as full of a life as I can from now on. I have no idea what I’ll do or if it will work out, but the part of me that wants to live is ready for the change. I guess there’s power in uncertainty after all.

The Bully

I’ve spent most of my adult life being bullied. When I was a kid, I was taught to turn the other cheek. Just walk away. Don’t talk back. I was never once told to stand up for myself or fight back, so I’ve spent my entire life running away from confrontation. I’ve let the bully shove me in the back over and over, taunting me with words like you’re not good enough, you’re not smart enough, you’re not talented enough, you don’t deserve better, keep walking, big baby, don’t cry, and don’t you dare fight back. So, I took it. Every shove and every taunting word. Obviously, I deserved it.

I always used to say that I’m afraid to get angry. I would walk away when provoked, because I felt my anger was too great and I might physically hurt someone. I pushed my anger down out of fear of what might happen. Whenever it would bubble up, I would drink. And I drank a lot for a very long time. Finally, I was afraid of hurting someone with my drinking, so I quit doing that, but the anger is still there and I’ve spent several years in therapy trying to figure out what to do about it. I couldn’t possibly let it out, so like a pressure cooker, I would cry and a little anger would steam out through my tears.

You see, the bully tells me that I can’t do what I truly want to do, because I don’t have enough education or experience and even if I did, the only way anyone would let me do what I want is if I sneak into the company at the lowest level and hard work my way into doing what I want to do. I’ve tried to do things that way over and over and somehow, I never seem to luck into that job, but I do get more and more hard work.

What I want to do is graphic design or photography or produce content for websites and social media. I want to work for Patagonia, which is, in my opinion, one of the best companies in the world. Not only do they make a great line of clothing, but they donate one percent of their sales to environmental causes, like dam removal and wild space preservation. They also believe in taking care of their employees, including their families. One catalog I recently received told the story of how they set up a day care at the corporate office so that moms and dads could spend time with their little ones during the day. They hired a teacher to teach the kids in a less structured, more experiential way. That catalog made me cry, because the way they do things is so in line with who I am and so different from the way any of the companies I’ve worked for do things. I also want to make those catalogs and tell those stories that make people like me cry, but the bully says the only way I could possibly get into a company like that is through the bottom door.

I’ve been working in a call center for about six weeks now. The only bright spot I had was thinking that it may help me get into a good company like Patagonia eventually. But the bully wasn’t letting me get by that easy. He kept shoving me in the back with nonstop calls, mad customers, and impossible problems and tonight, the bully finally pushed me too hard. I had time for one more call before I left and I got the meanest, most confrontational lady on the phone. Nothing I offered would appease her. She asked for a supervisor and I was relieved because that’s the only way I was going to get off that call. But the supervisor line was eight deep and I was on hold to transfer this woman for 25 minutes. I had to stand there while other people left and still other people ignored the backed up calls and goofed around with their friends.

When I finally got to the car, I realized that I had had enough.¬† The bully had pushed me to the ground and dared me to get up and fight and this time I did. As I drove home, I yelled at the bully. I shoved the bully. I told the bully I wasn’t going to take this shit anymore. I deserve better. I deserve to do work that I love and that fulfills me. I am not going to waste one more minute putting up with less than I deserve because I’m afraid of confrontation and afraid to stand up for myself. I told the bully to find me something better. I told the bully to find me a job that I deserve and that I wasn’t going to settle for less anymore. I showed the bully that I’m standing up for myself and I’m not afraid anymore.

The bully said, “It’s about time.”