Boundaries and the free spirit

ROM BOUND

I bought a bracelet the other day at High Cotton, a Manchester boutique filled with trinkets and trophies of Southern grace and charm. I was looking for a treasure. I found it.

Stamped metal. A variety of colors. Two words.

After browsing the other hand-crafted jewelry, scented candles, and one-of-a-kind finds, I made my way to the counter, somewhat reluctantly. I didn’t want my quest to end, but I was satisfied. I enjoyed my treasure hunt, especially because what I found was inscripted with the motto of my life.

“I knew you’d like that,” the owner said, carefully placing my bracelet in a bag. “It has you written all over it.”

And indeed it did, literally, stamped in the metal — FREE SPIRIT.

I have fought hard for the right to call myself a free spirit. I think about a lyric from one of my favorite Eagles songs “Already Gone”:

So often times it happens that we live our lives in chains / And we never even know we have the key.

The key to my freedom, oddly enough, is that I have had to learn to set up boundaries around my life. It’s what we all must do if we truly want to be free. And I’m still learning. Still learning.

Without these boundaries, we allow intruders to enter our space, our minds, our homes, our hearts. They steal those things we value most — our creativity, our time, our confidence, our peace, our joy, our resources, our choices, our dignity.

We live in chains when we allow others to define who we are and who we want to become. Nobody wants to be labeled. Sometimes we feel forced, destined to live up to the label. The only people who have the right to label who are are and who we are to become are ourselves. Labels chain us to a self-fulfilling prophecy.

What if God has a wonderful destination for us, yet we choose to be chained to a vision of what others think we are supposed to be?

Young people, for example, often enter college with a plan to major in a field their parents deem acceptable. But will they be happy? Will they spend their lives chained to someone else’s dreams?

I say find a job you love so that you’ll never have to work a day in your life.

Sometimes we’re on our merry way to our aspirations only to be hijacked into taking a guilt trip with a driver who demands we give up our free time to work on a project we’re not vested in.

Serving is honorable, but why give and grumble at the same time? We can’t be two places at once. While we’re busy being people pleasers, we may miss our opportunity to meet our calling. It’s okay to say “no.”

“No,” is a little bitty word with two little bitty letters, yet “no” is a mighty fortress that protects us all. “No” is our key. “No” helps us establish boundaries, and “boundaries” protect our freedom.

Other people invade our space, cross our boundaries, hurt our hearts, maybe even our bodies, in a multitude of ways. Our dignities are precious, so is our confidence. These space invaders may go as far as being bullies. While bullying is a hot topic these days, we must realize it’s not limited to the playground.

Bullying takes place in the home, in the work place, among friends. We must, must, must establish our boundaries. Our freedom depends on it. We can say no to the thieves who take away our dreams, our safety, our happiness, our confidence, our time, our security, etc.

While we place great emphasis on punishing the bullies, I think we would have better results if we helped victims learn HOW to set boundaries, if we helped victims learn they are WORTHY of setting boundaries around their lives.

We must also remember we can’t cross other peoples’ boundaries. No one else is responsible for our own happiness.

I think the worst kind of bondage comes when we are so used to being held down that we blame EVERYTHING in life on the person or the thing that first took away our freedom.

We give up. We give in. We live our life in chains.

Sometimes we have to learn through trial and error that WE really do hold the key. God watches over those who choose Him. He understands our struggles, our mistakes, and He patiently uses those things to grow us, to help us establish boundaries, despite the ill wishes of our enemies.

I’m particularly fond of a line of a poem written by J. R. R. Tolkien:

Not all those who wander are lost.

Those outside our skin may think we’re wandering aimlessly. But what if God has allowed us to take the scenic route for a period? Maybe He wants to grow us. Maybe He wants to teach us.

Maybe in wandering, we find the truth and set our spirits free.

Advertisements

I’ll be watching you

SEA

Today’s blog (though greatly delayed) is inspired by the Daily Prompt:

Your local electronics store has just started selling time machines, anywhere doors, and invisibility helmets. You can only afford one. Which of these do you buy, and why?

Being the dreamer I am, I’ve often thought about what it would be like to have a Time Machine so I could pick any era, step in, experience the culture, and talk to my literary heroes of days gone by. Here’s how I think it would go, meeting the Father of the Modern Detective Story, the master of bloody horror, the man of constant sorrow, Mr. Edgar Allan Poe.

Edgar, buddy, what’s the deal with your fixation on beautiful dead women? You’re a rock star, man. Live it! The ladies swoon when you recite your verses. Take a look around. There are a lot of living, breathing women here who would love to be the object of your affection, poetry, and prose. But no, you bust your rhymes about that crazy ghost chick Lenore. And what’s up with hearts hidden under floorboards and big-eyed men, draped in gossamer gowns? Dude, if my man Shemar (Derrick Morgan on Criminal Minds) profiled you, he’d peg you as a serial killer. You aren’t…are you? Hey, stay away from the sewer rats. They aren’t kittens, and I hear they’ll give you rabies.

Hmmm. I fear I’ve traveled back to 1990s rap while talking to an 1840s writer. Whatever.

Let’s get back to the prompt. I hold the record for the high school student who has been retained the longest number of years. Yep. I put on my cap and gown in the 80’s, turned my tassel, but still haven’t walked out these high school doors. It’s like permanent detention, Groundhog Day style. I wake up and live it again. Same places, different faces. I delight in kids but bear great disdain for being controlled by the State. Let me teach, let me teach, let me teach, Mr. Grinch. You’re a mean one, rotten to the “Core.”

If I can’t beat ’em, I’ll daydream them to death. An Anywhere Door would do the trick. Where would I go? What would I do?

Right now, I think I would like to go to the beach. I’m ready for a slow down. There is little to do at the beach other than to hang out with Mother Nature. Most people dig the sunlight My fair skin isn’t a fan, so I prefer the moonlight and the stars over the ocean. My Anywhere Door would take me to a place where all my five senses (maybe six) could kick in and kick back. Ah, the sweet sensation of a nautical getaway…

I want to watch the sun paint ribbons in the sky
Hear lap, lap swishes and the seagull’s cry
Sink my toes in the sand, be blanketed by sun
Taste fresh key lime pie, be tempted by rum
Smell briney mud and sea-salted air
And know without knowing answers to my prayers

People always tell me, girl, you live in the past. Embrace the moment. Stop wishing your life away. Bloom where you are planted. Okay, maybe I need to re-think my decisions.

What if the Time Machine breaks and I get stuck in the past? I don’t want to go back. I’ve worked hard to get where I am. What if the Anywhere Door leaves me stranded and I can’t put my feet on familiar ground? There are some good things about right now I don’t want to lose. Bad choices, bad choices, what’s a girl to do?

All I have left is the Invisibility Helmet. I can’t re-live the past or skip to my future. I need to focus on right now. I just need a little help seeing. If only I had better eyes, ones that could see everything I’m missing, then I would know whom I could really trust.

Don’t you think our eyes are opened when others don’t think we’re watching.

If I had an Invisibility Helmet, I could walk into your circle of friends and hear what you say about me when I’m not around. I could truly be like the Teacher with Eyes in the Back of Her Head. I could see who is cheating and who is not.

On a lighter note, I could walk into a Starbucks and walk away with all the Frappacinos. I could drive my car 160 mpg and never get a ticket. I could plant dreams in people’s minds by whispering in their ears as they fall asleep. I could spy on my cat and see what he really does when I’m not in the room.

So, I’ll take the Invisibility Helmet. I’m always watching, always. You may not realize it, but I’m watching you. Right now. I’m taking notes, just like Harriet the Spy. These notes, I’m sure, will make a great book. Someday.

I’m always looking for answers, always. Even if they’re right under my nose, I keep looking for what I want to see. The problem is I don’t see what I don’t want to see. Heck, maybe I’m already wearing the Invisibility Helmet. Instead of hiding me, it hides what I don’t want to acknowledge.

Everybody knows there are no calories in chocolate when you’re stressed out and on vacation. There are no dirty dishes or dirt on the floor when the sun begs you to leave the house. And then there are those other things we choose not to see….

Time Machine, Anywhere Door, or Invisibility Helmet? Choose your choice. What would it be?

 

 

 

 

 

Moving to Rio de Janeiro

I can't believe I actually found myself on THIS road. I love road trips, but a SWITCHBACK? I survived. I can hear "Flirting with Disaster" playing in the background. This adventure had it's own serendipitous moment. I found snow in mid June. Dressed in shorts and flip flops, I was shocked to see a snow-capped mountain. It was so cold.

I can’t believe I actually found myself on THIS road when I traveled to Montana one summer. I love road trips, but a SWITCHBACK? I survived. I can hear “Flirting with Disaster” playing in the background. This adventure had it’s own serendipitous moment–I found snow in mid June. Dressed in shorts and flip flops, I ended up freezing my toes in the snow. I would never want to live atop the Beartooth, but I can add this journey to my travel log.

I moved to Rio de Janeiro Monday.

Not really, but my Facebook status says I live there now, and I blame this bald face lie on Zac Brown.

See, on Saturday, I went to Shelbyville to go treasure hunting, thrift store shopping, junkin’, whatever you want to call it. I needed some sunshine and get away, so I took the scenic route and surfed the radio waves for some easy, breezy road trip music.

Zac Brown’s “Jump Right In” popped up over and over—no disappointment to me. Every time I heard the whistle in the background, I thought of Carnival, and every time I thought of Carnival, I thought of Rio de Janiero.

Cool, right? If I couldn’t be there in person, at least I could be there in spirit.

Honestly, I don’t know where the Zac Brown Band is singing about. The song makes reference to Misty Mountain, and the only Misty Mountain(s) I can think are  those in Tolkien’s The Hobbit. The song also mentions an island lullaby and a Southern breeze, so Rio probably isn’t what he had in mind, but that’s where the song took me.

Isn’t it funny how a song can take you away? One song can change a world, or at least a small town.

Take for instance Winslow, Arizona, which appears in the Eagles’ song “Take It Easy,” written by Jackson Browne and Glenn Frey. Winslow almost dried up when the interstate took away business from Route 66, but when the song came out, everybody wanted to head to Winslow—and they still do. Winslow now has Standin’ On the Corner Park with a mural depicting the “Girl, my Lord, in a flatbed Ford.” Since then, the town has undergone its own “renaissance.” Voila!

I can’t not mention Memphis. Who hasn’t recorded a song about Memphis? In fact, it’s the most mentioned city in the world. According to the Memphis Rock and Soul Museum, the list is at 1074 songs and counting.

Take a look see at who has Memphis on the mind: Sheryl Crow, Paul Simon, Jerry Reed, Hank Williams, Jr., Chuck Berry, Darryl Worley, Trisha Yearwood, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Tanya Tucker, etc.

Of course, “Walking in Memphis” by Marc Cohn is my favorite. It’s always a serendipitous moment when I’m on Beale Street and hear it as I’m walking down the street.

Let’s see how up YOU are on your Song Travel Trivia. I’ll give you the artist and the title, and you chart the destination. (Answers are listed below the quiz.)

QUIZ

  1. “Turn the Page” by Bob Seager
  2. “I Wanna Talk about Me” by Toby Keith (one of the FIRST country rap songs)
  3. “Get Your Kicks on Route 66” by Perry Como
  4. “Sweet Baby James” by James Taylor
  5. “Bad, Bad Leroy Brown” by Jim Croce
  6. “Folsom Prison Blues” by Johnny Cash
  7. “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down” by The Band
  8. “City Don’t Sleep” by Maclemore
  9. “I Will Follow You into the Dark” by Death Cab for Cutie
  10. “Werewolves of London” by Warren Zevon (London is easy. Name another place mentioned in the song.)

ANSWERS

  1. Omaha
  2. Muncie, Indiana
  3. Albuquerque
  4. Boston
  5. Chicago
  6. Reno
  7. Richmond
  8. Seattle
  9. Calgary
  10. Soho

YOUR RANKING

10 Correct – Fantabulous. “Ramble On.” You’re obviously going somewhere.

7-9 Correct – Head out on the highway. You’re “Born to Be Wild.”

4-6 Correct – Not too shabby. Baby, you’re “Born to Run.”

1-3 Correct – Brush up on your travel trivia and get “On the Road Again.”

0 Correct – Not so good. You need a “Vacation.”

It’s never too late

SLEEP

I was talking to my childhood friend who was helping me put together a writing workshop for our community, and the topic of WIPS came up.

I, of course, have a list of unfinished projects—most of them in my head. She is starting on a non-fiction work that is killer! I don’t know why somebody else hasn’t already thought of it. I won’t mention it because I don’t want anyone to steal her idea, but when she publishes it, I’ll be the first to buy it. It’s a winner, winner.

But then she reminded me of a project that she and I had first discussed a few years ago—a children’s book with her being the writer and me being the illustrator.

Me? An illustrator? I laugh thinking about it. I have a friend who is an illustrator, an artist, a REAL artist. I don’t even come close.

But my how times have changed. There was a time in my life when I was a kid that I was known as the resident “artist.” I used to draw. And color. And paint. And take pictures.

I loved, loved, loved art. I haven’t thought about art much until my friend brought up the “good old days.”

When I graduated from high school, my parents didn’t expect me to go to college. I held my own in school, graduating ninth out of a class of 362 (I think). I made good grades, but I still held on to the idea that my trignometry teacher called me a spaz. (Now that I think about it, it’s probably true. Let’s just say I can see now where my children get their math skills.) My parents told me that I needed to major in something that would provide me a steady job. Our high school had ONE art teacher (THE BEST). What were the odds of me getting a job in art?

So I toyed with the idea of being an education major my first few weeks of college, then changed my major to recording industry management, got scared I wouldn’t find a job, and returned to education, majoring in English because one of my professors told me I could write. And that’s where I’ve been for, um, an extended stay.

But I like art, any kind of art. Most of the creative people I know try a little bit of everything before honing in on one skill. Drawing, painting, playing music, taking pictures. I thrive when I create.

All during high school, whenever anybody needed somebody to draw something, anything, I was the go-to person. I wasn’t particularly good at portraits, but I could draw other things. What I really liked doing was taking people’s names and designing each letter to create something unique. My dad was a printer, and he had access to leftover cardstock. Being a budding entrepreneur, I opened my own “business” and designed names for people, charging them a dime per letter. I designed my friend’s Pat’s campaign posters, and he drummed up customers for my art business.

I feel a little guilty now for taking their money. I should have been doing my trignometry.

Live-for-Each-MomentBut I loved what I was doing. I never felt like I “had” to do something when I created art. It was a gift to me, just the opportunity to create.

I waited and waited and waited until my senior year so that I could take THE art class. My art teacher, Jimmy “Grouch” Jones, was my hero. “The Old Man” taught me how to fire clay in a kiln, how to make torn-paper collages, how to shade, how to screen print, how to see something no one else could see. I wish I could say I was the best artist in my family, but all my younger cousins were so much better. But Jimmy Jones knew I liked his class better than any other class I had ever taken. It didn’t matter that I wasn’t the best. He treated all of his students as if they were “the best.”

Now that I am older, I realize that it’s not too late to dabble in art again. I don’t have the desire or the talent to create children’s books, but I think I should like to learn how to paint. I think I should like to dabble in folk art.

I made a new friend a few years ago at the annual Bell Buckle Arts and Crafts Show. I was meandering along when I saw this really cool folk art with a mojo, blues, music, spiritual theme. It was if someone had stepped into my head and had pulled out my ideas. How could it be? I introduced myself to the artist, and we talked, and I found out she also played guitar (the blues) and sang. I bought some of her work and have since bought a couple more of the pieces. I like it because it is different.

I like different.

Now that I’m old(er), I realize the only person I’ve ever had to please is myself, and I’ve never really made an effort to do so.

I think I’m going to create something. DANCE

It doesn’t have to be good. It just has to be. For now.

I am no Monet. I am no Van Gogh. I am no Picasso. I Am made in the image of my Creator, and I like to create.

I like color. I can’t decide on ONE color, so in my house, I use as much color as I can in every room. I like color blocks. I like mosaics. Maybe I should create mosaics.

Or maybe I’ll start with something simple, maybe a painting class. I want to paint pictures of guitars. Maybe I can learn how to create my own style of folk art that will make people stop in their tracks and say, “Hey. Something about that piece reaches inside my soul and speaks to me.”

As George Eliot said, “It’s never too late to be what you might have been.”

GUITAR