Tag Archive: labels


Take the fact that I grew up in an angry, violent home environment and factor in my red hair which prompted many people over the years to make comments about the temper that I must have. What do you get? An angry redhead. The problem of controlling myself peaked as a teenager and only by the grace of God have I gotten it under control…for the most part. Every great once in a while something will push my buttons and it will be all I can do to refrain from acting upon what I’m feeling. Today was one of those days.

As I headed out to walk I passed two young men in the hallway who were going door to door selling magazines. If anyone is sympathetic it’s me because I’ve done door to door work before and it’s not easy. But today I was leaving my kids at home (no big surprise that they didn’t want to walk with me) with their dad who was getting some much needed sleep after a week of getting less than 5 hours a day. I asked them nicely if they could do me a favor and skip my door and explained why. One responded, “Sure, no problem. We’ll catch you when you come back.” Ok, that annoyed me. “That’s ok.” They laughed. (!) As I entered the elevator I felt the need to let them know I had purchased from their company before (which I had) and I didn’t want to again. The door slid shut and I wondered if they would respect my request.

I dialed my son’s cell phone to let him know not to answer the door if someone knocked. A few short minutes later I was on my way down the street, but couldn’t stop wondering if they had knocked. I called my son again and sure enough, they had…twice. I was steaming. It was so tempting to turn around and go back to confront them, but it was such a beautiful day and I knew if I went back I’d miss a small window of opportunity to take some nice photos. I settled on calling the office and left a message letting them know someone was soliciting in the buildings. I fumed for a few more minutes, but as I walked the anger started to melt away despite my best effort to hold onto it. There’s something about a good workout (especially Turbo Jam or TurboFire with all those punches and kicks) that dissipates negative feels. You may not forget the thing that was bothering you, but you’ve had a chance to work through it so you can handle it in the best way.

Ultimately, I’m glad I decided to keep walking and enjoy the weather instead of going back. Maybe they would’ve learned something if I had, but maybe not. I don’t think I was in the right frame of mind to be reasonable in a confrontation so I believe I made the best choice. Woe unto them if I happen to see them on the property again, though. 😉

Today was a rarity in this part of Oregon. Usually if there are clouds they’re completely covering the sky and everything is grey. Not today. Here’s what we got to enjoy, even if only for a few brief minutes.

“You define yourself by your decisions.” – Gary Ryan Blair 

Such a simple statement, but very profound. It took me years to figure it out, but I am not defined by the labels others have chosen for me or by the circumstances that surround me. Each and every decision defines who we are. We can choose to be what others expect us to be or we can choose to show them who we really are. No matter what the behavior is, we can find a way to avoid it if it needs to be or we can find the courage to follow through if the goal is worthwhile. Today I chose to be a lover of nature instead the angry lady on the 4th floor. Who will you choose to be?

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Psst…come closer. I’m going to share a little secret with you. Ready? 

I’m a little weird. Ok, maybe that wasn’t much of a secret for those who’ve known me a while. Sometimes I forget, though. Today, it was once again brought to my attention shortly after I started walking. Thankfully, it wasn’t raining buckets like yesterday so I was happy to be able to walk a little farther. Still longing for some variety, I turned right before reaching the stadium with the plan to loop around and take the tree’s picture on the way back instead of at the beginning like I normally do.

As I made my way along the busy street, looking forward to seeing what kind of photos I could get of the Xs and Os in front of Autzen, I thought about sharing the importance of being a duck. Yes, being a Duck fan is great, especially since we get to enjoy stuff like this which includes some great footage of the Xs and Os…give it a couple of seconds. Good stuff. 🙂

And we can’t enjoy the first without including the sequel. If you look real close you can even see the tree at around 2:45. Hee hee.  

Is it football season yet?? Back to what I was saying about being a duck. I was thinking about some advice my brother, not the one who chased his remote control truck all over the place…other one who came to visit, shared with me when I was going through some drama. Be a duck. Just let negative stuff slide off you like water off a duck’s back. Good advice.

About the time I reached the Xs and Os I realized what I was doing.Just like I always have when walking on pavement, I was avoiding the cracks. But it doesn’t stop there. Oh no. Always one who’s enjoyed patterns, lines and spacial relationships (wanted to be an architect for a long time), I mentally extend the lines that I can see in my peripheral vision and avoid stepping on those, too. A little crazy? Sure. A little OCD? Perhaps. I don’t really like labels unless they actually facilitate help for the person. (Scroll over the images to see what I was thinking.)Even when I’m walking with someone else or thinking about other things I’m still doing it. My little “game” may seem mentally exhausting, but trying to break the habit would actually be much more challenging because old habits are hard to break. I’m sure this one started one innocent day when I was just a wee lass, walking along with a friend or on the playground at school. No doubt someone said, “Step on a crack and you’ll break your mother’s back.” I’m sure I didn’t believe I would actually cause my mother’s back to break, but it probably seemed like a fun challenge. I have no clue when I decided it needed to be more challenging, adding in the other imaginary lines. Probably about the same time I started matching the vertical lines (phone poles have 2, etc.) I pass as I’m riding or driving down the street to a song I learned for a piano recital. Now, it’s not so much a song as it is a rhythm. I have to fit each line into the pattern so I’ll add faster beats if I’m passing, say, a fence or something. I don’t know if anyone reading this gets what I’m saying, but that’s ok. It is what it is.

You may be thinking I’m completely nuts, or at least somewhere around the same crazy level as Monk. I can assure you, I’m not. (I suppose most crazy people would deny being crazy so I don’t know how much good that does.) But, there are times when I miss, or technically hit, the cracks or lines and I don’t freak out. I am always aware when it happens, though. For a split second, I get a mental picture of my foot coming down on it. Sometimes I even deliberately step directly on a crack…just because.  

There are “rules” that keep me from losing it. For example, I don’t expect myself to fit my foot in a space that’s smaller than my foot. Monk would, just saying. In the photo above, I did extend the short lines in the border, but not the bricks. In the one below, I ignored the radiating lines because it just wouldn’t work, unless I extended the lines out so far that my foot would fit between them which would happen eventually, but I’d be really, really far away from where I was actually walking. That leads to the second rule…

I actually mentioned this before. I only take into account the lines that are within my natural line of vision. It’s not like I’m out there looking for lines to avoid. That would be insane. Take this wall. At first I started trying to deal with just the lines in the bottom row, but found that I wasn’t enjoying the challenge so I moved a few steps to the right and they were no longer in view unless I deliberately turned my focus to them. Problem solved.

So now that you know I’m at the very least a bit weird, why did I decide to share this? Because I think it makes a good point, maybe two, we’ll see. Habits are hard to break, especially if they’re so deeply ingrained in who we are that we don’t even think about them unless we’re really paying attention. Some habits are harmless, like my obsession with lines and whether or not I step on them, and can be left alone. Some are even beneficial, like the fact that I don’t really have to think about taking my walk every morning. But, many habits are harmful, to ourselves and those around us.

I used to have a habit of sitting on the couch all day watching TV or playing hour after hour of online games stuffing my face the entire time. It was harmful to me because I gained a LOT of weight and I always felt exhausted and depressed. It was harmful to my family because I wasn’t setting a good example for my kids and I wasn’t engaged in their lives even though I was physically right there the whole time. I also didn’t keep the place clean or even ask the kids to help which created stress for all of us, especially my husband who already has enough stuff on his mind. We all need a clean, clutter-free environment to be able to think and fully participate in life and ours was the opposite.

I’ve definitely made some positive changes and the kids are learning the importance of taking care of yourself and eating healthy. They’ve also seen how hard it is to break free from habits once they’ve been formed. I wish I could say my life has completely turned around and everything is as it should be, but I still struggle with keeping everything clean and uncluttered. Right now, there’s laundry to put away, dishes to be done, a floor that needs vacuuming, a layer of dust that needs to go away and trash to take out. Ok, some of it the kids can do when they get home, but I certainly need to pitch in, too. So I’ll wrap this up by saying I hope you will come back now that you know I’m a little “different” and I hope you’ll stop to look at your life to see if there are harmful habits you’ve had so long you don’t even them notice anymore, then take the first step toward breaking them. Oh, and GO DUCKS!!