Talking Rabies

List of dog vaccines along with rabies vaccine tag

Facebook reminded me I had an event on my calendar today.

A rabies clinic.

Not for me, of course!

Time to take our dog Tess and make sure she is up to date on her vaccines.

The event is for her benefit.

But it got me thinking…

Wouldn’t it be nice if there was such a thing as a rabies shot for people…politically speaking, I mean…?

A once a year (or every three years) inoculation against working ourselves into a foaming-at-the-mouth bite-anybody-and-anything-in-our-way’s-head-off kind of rage?

Want to get into an intense debate with somebody over politics or religion, preferred child-rearing practices, or whether the toilet paper should drape over or under the roll?

Show proof of your vaccination…and then discuss, debate, disagree, persuade and convince all you want.

Once you’ve had your shot, there will be no danger you will “lose it” and start demonizing or belittling the person you disagree with. You will stick to the issues and avoid that tell-tale “foaming-at-the-mouth” ridiculousness.

(A ridiculousness which I can assure you is highly unlikely to win anyone to your way of thinking…)

I’d be first in line for it.

I try to stay measured when expressing my views, but I know I am as susceptible as anyone to slipping into that rabid response trap.

Symptoms: increased heart rate, appeal of snarky comments and images, appreciation of humor that comes at the expense of others, etc…

Maybe somebody will be able to invent this vaccine…

In the meantime, I would suggest a non-medicinal inoculation:

It can be found in Ephesians.

 “So then, putting away falsehood, let all of us speak the truth to our neighbors, for we are members of one another. Be angry but do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not make room for the devil. Thieves must give up stealing; rather let them labor and work honestly with their own hands, so as to have something to share with the needy. Let no evil talk come out of your mouths, but only what is useful for building up, as there is need, so that your words may give grace to those who hear. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with which you were marked with a seal for the day of redemption. Put away from you all bitterness and wrath and anger and wrangling and slander, together with all malice, and be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ has forgiven you.”

Until they develop the vaccine, this should help.

Give it a try.

Recommended dosage: Read regularly. In some cases it might even help to print it out and stick it next to your computer screen. Reflect. Repeat.

Possible side effects: Improved relations with those around you, lowered blood pressure, and ability to consider a variety of perspectives.

Person acting silly with whip cream on their face, as if they have rabies.

 (No animals were hurt in writing this blog post, although some whipped cream did meet a timely demise…)

 

 

 

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Five Minute Friday: Nothing

(I participate with a group of writers in a weekly “Five Minute Friday” writing exercise. In response to a word prompt, each writer sits down for five minutes for “no extreme editing; no worrying about perfect grammar, font, or punctuation. Unscripted. Unedited. Real.” This is also described as a sort of writing flash mob and a great form of “free therapy” )

Five Minute Friday: Nothing

Go.

Nothing is a lot.

Don’t believe me?

Consider this…

Nothing is worth lying for.

Nothing is what’s wrong.

Nothing is more important than your soul.

Nothing is more important than family.

Nothing is more important than remaining true to your sense of ethics and morality.

Nothing is more important than spending time in reflection and prayer.

Nothing is more important than serving others.

Nothing is more important than forgiveness.

Nothing is more important than honesty.

Nothing is what I know.

Nothing is ever enough.

Nothing is what you take with you when you die.

So, yeah.

Nothing is a lot.

And that’s something.

Stop

Empty beat up old lunch box. Contains nothing.

Five Minute Friday: Close

(I participate with a group of writers in a weekly “Five Minute Friday” writing exercise. In response to a word prompt, each writer sits down for five minutes for “no extreme editing; no worrying about perfect grammar, font, or punctuation. Unscripted. Unedited. Real.” This is also described as a sort of writing flash mob and a great form of “free therapy” )

Five Minute Friday: Close

Go.

I love those pictures that zoom in super close to ordinary items

The challenge is to guess what they show.

Zoomed in view of green caterpillar

They generally show things we see each and every day.

But, of course, we see the broader image.

Not the up close detail.

Green caterpillar between two twigs

Understanding the “big picture” is important of course.

We don’t want to get stuck down in the minutia.

But once in a while it sure is fun to take a closer look.

Very often we will find great beauty.

We may even better understand the full meaning of the “big picture” after getting close enough to see some small details.

Zoom!

Stop.

Zoomed in view of a bright blue athletic shoeTwo bright blue athletic shoes with green shoelaces

 

 

Election

Signs outside polling place - surrounded with Small American flags. Precinct 42. Polls open 6:30 a.m. - Close 7:30 p.m.

Yesterday was Primary Election Day in West Virginia.

I joined my fellow citizens and cast my ballot.

Library, public transportation and parks & recreation levies were on the line in addition to choosing candidates from among the mix of local, state and federal offices to be filled.

Not everybody chose to show up at the polls.

One report pegs the unofficial voter turnout at a historically low 17%.

17%.

The other 83% apparently chose not to choose.

Or perhaps their choice was “whatever.”

I can’t fathom being so non-engaged with such important decisions.

Decisions that affect our everyday lives.

Yesterday was also a different kind of “election day” at our house.

Our son and I used the day to mark the importance of healthy choices.

We agreed that on this day we would “elect” to start being more intentional about making healthy choices.

We all make these choices each and every day.

Exercise – or don’t exercise?

Donut and Mountain Dew – or scrambled egg, toast and juice?

Bag of chips – or apple? Sign on refrigerator - says "yes, I am trying to eat healthy. no, i am not on a diet." Held up with magnet shaped like state of West Virginia that says I (heart) W.V.

Unlike political elections, this healthy-choice-election has 100% voter turnout.

Unless we are in a coma we each make a ton of choices a day.

And just like with political elections, each thing we “elect” to do has far-reaching consequences.

If we are apathetic and lackadaisical in our choices, we get poor results.

As with any election, preparation and participation are the keys.

Do your homework.

Think things through.

Show up and make your choices.

One good choice at a time.

It’s vital to be engaged with such important decisions.

Decisions that affect our everyday lives.

Hand on the left with voting sticker - American Flag - We the People of the United States - I Voted Today; Hand on the right with golden delicious apple

 

Five Minute Friday: Grateful

(I participate with a group of writers in a weekly “Five Minute Friday” writing exercise. In response to a word prompt, each writer sits down for five minutes for “no extreme editing; no worrying about perfect grammar, font, or punctuation. Unscripted. Unedited. Real.” This is also described as a sort of writing flash mob and a great form of “free therapy” )

Five Minute Friday: Grateful

Go.

Are you kidding me?

Five minutes to address “grateful”???

Disclaimer: The list you are about to read is by no means exhaustive of things for which I’m grateful. That would take WAY longer than five minutes.

So it’s Mother’s Day weekend – which of course brings to mind how grateful I am for my Mom…and my Dad and my husband and my son and my grandparents and my sisters and brothers-in-law and my nieces and nephews and my aunts and uncles and cousins and mother-in-law…

I am grateful to have been blessed with a wonderfully supportive and curious-about-the-world family.

I am grateful for my faith in God, for the miraculous world he fashioned, and for his continued guidance.

Family and Faith are the bedrock for everything else.

I am also grateful for:

Sunrises and sunsets, breezes, Nutella, opportunities to travel, ability to speak a foreign language, educational opportunities, laughter, libraries, rail trails, faithful friends, apples, fried potatoes, books, all kinds of music, a house trained puppy, birthdays, walking, photographs of family and friends, campfires, pistachios, storytelling, quiet times, giggles…

Stop.

Argh! I needed more time!

P.S.: I’d be grateful for some more time. 

Young girl showing off her wristwatch

 

Clock

Dandelion clock

I know.

Dandelions are weeds.

But I still like them.

A carpet of vivid yellow – spread across the deep green of spring grass.

A chubby toddler-fistful of these blooms is the best bouquet.

Ever.

Period.

Dandelions are beautiful.

But they don’t live long.

And then they morph into those puffy white orbs.

The objects of whimsy and giggly blowing and graceful floating off into the air.

But it’s in the whimsical, giggly, graceful stage that dandelions find their ultimate purpose and fate.

Those are the seeds, transported via wind or toddler breath to assist in the creation of “next.”

I stared at some dandelions today.

They caught my eye as I supervised our dog gingerly picking her way through the front yard grass.

I saw them.

And then I looked closely.

How intricate and complicated and stunning.

An inch-wide micro-universe of potential.

God took the time and care to design and create this amazing thing we call dandelion clock.

How humbling to realize he also took the time and care to design and create me.

And you.

And every human being on the planet.

Psalm 139:13

“For it was you who formed my inward parts; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.”

Yes, our lives (in the grand scheme of things) are fleeting and vulnerable, but that doesn’t mean we aren’t complicated, intricate, beautiful beings.

The nuance and detail of our “inward parts” is mind-blowing; mind-numbing.

But, someday we will be gone.

Dust to dust …

On a puff of life’s wind…

And just as the dandelion clock lives its season and then scatters into pieces with the currents of the breeze…

Our lives, beautiful in bloom, can also be seeds that plant beauty, hope, and new growth.

What will grow from our seeds as we assist in the creation of “next”…?

Close up view of dandelion clock

Potholes

String of potholes along a residential streetYou know the drill.

Eyes trained straight ahead – glued to the patch of pavement directly in front of you – picking and weaving and bobbing your way along the street.

Pothole season.

That perennial pox of problematic pavement.

Drivers miss a lot of beautiful scenery this time of year just because we have to focus our gaze straight down and straight ahead.

There’s an illustration making the rounds on social media – you may have seen it. It compares the trajectory of drunk and sober drivers. Normally, sober drivers will drive in a straight line and drunk drivers will bob and weave. In “Pothole Land” –  it’s the sober drivers who weave in and out and snake their way along the road. Drunk drivers just drive straight through the pothole minefield, oblivious – allowing their vehicle to dunk into hole after hole in a strut-busting, rim-rocking wave of destruction.

Truth be told, sometimes – no matter your skill level and experience – you can’t avoid all potholes.

You’re just going to have to come to terms with the fact that you’ll hit some.

I read someplace years ago that the worst thing you can do is slam on the brake if you realize you are about to hit a pothole. I don’t know if that’s true, but if I can’t avoid a pothole, I always do try to keep my foot off the brake pedal at that moment of impact.

Just in case.

For me there’s also a series of involuntary and useless physical reactions to hitting a pothole.

In that moment when I realize I am about to hit one, my arms and legs stiffen, my shoulders scrunch up to my ears, and my hands put a death grip on the steering wheel…bracing for impact – and I actually lift myself up a bit off the seat, as if those actions will somehow soften the blow or keep the car from sinking quite so deep.

I also grimace.

Yeah…

If I hold my mouth “just right”…that dang pothole won’t damage my car quite as much.

It’s worth a shot.

This spring I have four new tires, a new alignment and a healthy respect for the dangers of a hidden or carelessly missed crater.

I’m doing my best to maneuver for minimum impact.

But I’m still hitting my fair share.

With warmer weather, the road crews are out addressing the problem.

And I send out a big “thank you” to the guys and gals working hard to patch up this year’s bumper crop of potholes.

In the meantime, I wish you well on your journey – and in the words of that traditional blessing…”may the road rise up to meet you…”

(I am a big fan of public radio, so I am very happy to renew my affiliation with West Virginia Public Broadcasting as an essayist. This essay was written for their program Inside AppalachiaYou can hear the audio version here.)