I’ll stick to reading between the lines

Author: natalie  //  Category: It's all about me

Other human beings frequently make me aware of my weaknesses and cause me to see areas where I need enrichment. During a riveting conversation this past week with a friend and mentor, I realized that I needed to acquire a new skill: mind reading. I couldn’t help but think that being adept in telepathy could make all areas of life easier, or would it?

Did you know that some scientists claim they are on the trail to real mind reading through PET scans and MRI’s? Such tools combined with complicated methods of computation make it possible to identify how and where the brain stores our intentions. Yep, researchers could see what a person would do (mentally speaking) before they did it. Fascinating and scary all at the same time.   

Through a little impromptu training I learned that as a highly intuitive person (it comes standard with the introvert package of which I am fully equipped) I can already glean a little more than the standard human. (Maybe another day I’ll tell you how I sometimes wish I could turn that radar off – being in a crowded room can be exhausting for me. I notice everything.)

While some find parapsychology offensive— akin to dabbling in dark science or mysticism— I am intrigued. But I’ve never so much as played with a Ouija Board. Merely hearing about others’ experiences gives me the creeps. Besides, religious leaders and parapsychologists alike have many tales of those things dredging up demons. Uh, no thanks. I have enough of my own to battle without calling in extras. But I digress.

I promise I didn’t veer off into weird things; I just need to be able to read minds. Seriously. And some people in my life seem rooted in the knowledge that I already know how. I grow weary trying to hit a moving target, and I know I make people squirm with my probing questions. So, let’s just cut out the middle man here and let me use my new-found skills to get straight to your thoughts.

It’s working already. I hear you. “No way, sister! My thoughts are my own!” Please don’t go all George Orwell on me. I won’t use it in nefarious ways and should we ever be subject to the Thought Police, I promise not to turn you in.

Wow. That’s some scary, mixed-up stuff. I really didn’t want to know about . . . Your neighbor did that? Tell your wife you hate that casserole she’s been making for 22 years. I’m sorry you hated my grocery store column; I was having a bad week. Things are getting all jumbled up . . . Somebody’s husband is seriously grating on her nerves with . . . Whew! That’s enough.   

My head hurts. I’m putting on my tin-foil hat to scramble the incoming signal until I figure out how to turn this off.

I’ll stick to reading between the lines. I can control what my conjecture defines.

© 2010 Natalie Whatley

In step with the March drummer

Author: natalie  //  Category: It's all about me

American essayist, poet, and philosopher Henry David Thoreau wrote the following over 150 years ago: “Why should we be in such desperate haste to succeed, and in such desperate enterprises. If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away.”  Sounds like my kind of guy. Also makes me think that while our environment changes, the human condition does not.

The drummer I’m hearing these days — I’m certain some of you are hearing it, too — is tapping out a slow, rhythmic emergence – a cadence with crescendo leading us to (drum roll) . . . April. My favorite month.

And desperation as mentioned by Thoreau pretty accurately describes how much I was ready for the colorless, dreary days of winter to be over. I’ve been laughed at and told by Yankee friends that I’m a weenie and could never handle a “real” winter. I suppose they’re right. But I also remind them that they couldn’t handle a “real” summer.

March has been described as a time when the sun shines hot and the wind blows cold. That sounds about right. I wish I could figure out a way to bottle the gentle warmth and cool breeze of this time of year for both the scorching, drippy days of our summers and the icky (I challenge you to find a better meteorological term) damp, frigid (it’s relative – below 50 degrees qualifies in my book) yuckiness that defines a Southern winter.

 But then again, the vibrancy of spring is probably more enjoyable simply because it is fleeting. To have it available at my whim would ruin the whole concept, I’m sure. Plus, I read somewhere that I should be interested in the changing of the seasons as it will make me happier than being infatuated with spring alone. I can’t help it, though. My eyes see it all in Technicolor, and it does appear more attractive than the others.

As I walk outdoors, I can hear the popping, the bursting, the chirping, the struggle of rebirth, the fluttering, and, yes, the quiet dusting of pollen particles floating through the air. It all comprises what ends up being my heart singing its own little concerto of awakening.

So, if I seem a little off tempo with the rest of the world, know that I try to march with others, but invariably end up out of step as I revel in the wonder of what will unfold along with new blooms. I know it sometimes makes me appear mad as a March hare, but I prefer calling it spring fever. And you won’t find me looking for a cure. I rather enjoy the frenzied pulse – creates a catchy tune. Marching to the beat of a different drummer – there’s nothing further from desperation and nothing closer to the boldness of enterprise.

What’s eating me?

Author: natalie  //  Category: Home sweet home, Life with children

Life is full of necessary evils. For the most part, I’ve made peace with doing some things I despise simply because not doing them isn’t exactly preferable.  We all have a list, and I bet bathroom cleaning would rate highly for most of us, but my beef today pertains to a chore that has been eating away at what could otherwise be potentially enjoyable hours for too many years: grocery shopping.

Many Moon Pies ago I enjoyed going out into the vast world – like my ancient female ancestors – picking berries and gathering supplies necessary to run the hut…uh, I mean household.  Now I detest the job.

In order to make it palatable, I schedule the misery. Yes, I check my vast social calendar and the weather (a beautiful day will not be wasted) before spending an entire day engrossed with the grocer. And I’m usually not motivated to make that date with destiny until the hunter of the hut, the man who brings home the bacon, makes a comment along the lines of our pantry resembling the cupboard of Old Mother Hubbard. Then I’m forced to make a day of it. Really.

I shop one store after breakfast, loading the always-has-at-least-one-square-wheel cart as full as I can before taking thirteenth place in line at the front of the store with 15-plus check-stands available, but only one employee. Sigh. A fun little tip, though: Watching fellow line-standers is far more entertaining than the sordid magazine covers.

Once payment is made, I haul my vast booty (referring to the spoils gained as opposed to my posterior) home where I delight in unloading it all once again. A quick lunch is my prize after it’s all put away. Then it’s time for round two.

Different store, same cart, I embark on the second half of pure drudgery. It’s further complicated by the fact that most people are out of bed by this point and this market is more crowded . . . by people stopping in the aisles to have reunions and/or carry on conversations via cell phone.

While I appear patient and ever-so-sweet, I’m raging on the inside. Don’t they realize they’re standing right in front of the item that correlates to number 37 on my list? I’m looking to check off through 105 and be home before the school bus.  

I’ve tried to include the entire family in the fun and festivities by asking for meal ideas and items they’d like to see stocked on our personal grocery shelves. Heck, I even invited people to come along on my trips. I need sound effects for my column. Do you hear the crickets chirping just above the silence? I heard it, too.

Oh well, I’m done for a couple of weeks, and now that I’ve vented I’ll not give it another thought.  But lettuce all remember not to tarry too long in the aisles. If you’re standing in front of item number 37, plastic cutlery, things could get ugly.

© 2010 Natalie Whatley

Shaken, not blurred

Author: natalie  //  Category: From me to you

My heart goes out to those in Haiti, Chile, and now Taiwan dealing with the aftermath of separate earthquakes. None of what follows is in any way meant to minimize that suffering. As you know by now, you get what tumbles out of my brain each week – the good, the bad, and the sometimes hideously deformed.

After viewing recent news coverage of the Chilean earthquake and during a subsequent dinner discussion, I was asked by my middle child if I had ever been in an earthquake. I truthfully answered that I had not, but went on to give accounts of the natural disasters I had survived pre-motherhood: namely hurricanes. Since my kiddos were around for Hurricanes Rita and Ike, they could relate.

Recalling that conversation a little later, I realized my foundation has been violently shaken and crumbled on a few occasions – one being fairly recent. Of course my presence here today proves I lived to tell about it. But I have to admit there were times while underneath the crushing weight of the rubble I didn’t think I had the fight in me to even attempt clawing my way to the surface. It would have been so much easier and far less painful to lie there in silence and return . . . dust to dust.

The hardest part: I have an intensely private (you just think you know me, and I chuckle as I write that), independent spirit. And the quakes registering highest on my Richter scale were endured by me alone – inside the confines of my heart and mind. Had the wreckage been seen, I have no doubt family, friends, and even strangers would have rushed aid to my side, but fear of looters kept me quiet. I couldn’t afford to lose what little I had left – the belief in my own strength.

It took near decimation to stir me from indifference and excite a reaction. I’m stubborn like that. And, no, I’m not proud of it.

So, like our brothers and sisters across the globe, I began clearing away the debris. I’m nowhere near finished and have accepted the fact that rebuilding from the ground up will take far longer than I’d like. Not to mention that new construction must be suspended while I bring myself up to date on the latest building codes that serve to ensure I’ll remain standing when the next big one strikes.

The repairs required for the physical manifestations of such deep tremors are time intensive and sometimes expensive, but doable. Dealing with the ongoing, could-hit-at-any-moment aftershocks is a different matter entirely.

One must learn to expect the unexpected – participate in what’s known as “hindsight bias” and try to imagine that events are more predictable than they really are. Stating that almost makes me feel a tiny bit in control.

Some time in the not-so-distant future I’ll be rebuilt, stronger than ever.  And in the grand scheme of things, I’ll be ready . . . shaken, not blurred.

© 2010 Natalie Whatley