Here's Your Sign

Ever have someone tell you, “Here’s your sign,”? Coined by comedian Bill Engvall, this is not a term of endearment. On the contrary, it’s used to point out an individual’s stupidity - or in the most gentle of cases, to point out an obvious or dumb remark.

I paint my kitchen lime green and display it proudly. A visitor asks me if I like that color. Um, no, I chose a color I hated so I could cringe on a daily basis. Of course I like it - that's why I chose it. "Here's your sign."

Let your mind wander. I’m sure you can think of plenty of instances where you could have used that phrase on someone else. Or...maybe you deserved to be given your own sign. I think we all probably need our own stash of signs to keep on hand for those rare moments when our brain and mouth fail to communicate properly.

Then there’s the types of “signs” that aren’t so literal. The types of signals we look for every day to help us determine actions or choices. Often times we ask God for these signs as we hunt for answers in a very muddled and mixed-up world. And sometimes...we wait too long. We are so intent on finding that one particular sign that we fail to move. We sit and ponder and watch and wait, when maybe we just need to get off our duff and do something. Obviously, this doesn’t apply to every situation. There are times we need to sit and wait until a certain path is made clear. But there are also times when we just need to make a decision and move. There are times when certain decisions may not make or break our futures, let alone affect the universe as a whole. Therefore...

As long as you don’t think it’s going to send the universe as we know it into upheaval, and as long as you’re confident you’re not destroying your future or someone else’s future as a whole, it may be time to get off your duff and move. Only you know if the time is right. But just in case all you needed was a sign, there it is.

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Tenacity at its Finest

Tenacious. Sometimes I prefer that word to "stubborn" even though they can be synonymous. Tenacious just has a different kind of ring to it. And even though its very much like stubbornness, for some reason, tenacity has always had a different feel to me. I visualize a bulldog who has latched on to something. With his jaw locked in place and his teeth sunk into the object (whether it be a bone or someone's arm), he refuses to let go. Rather than simple stubbornness, there is endurance involved. Resolve. Stamina. 

I've been called stubborn more than once in my lifetime. Actually, it's happened an embarrassingly high number of times. And rightly so. I am admittedly a very stubborn individual. Once I've made up my mind, it's quite difficult getting me to change directions. But synonyms for stubborn include things like "pig-headed" or "difficult." I prefer to think of myself as tenacious - "steadfast" and "resolute." 

It's all semantics, really. Generally, when someone calls me stubborn (at least since I've been an adult), it has been meant as a compliment. Or, at the very least, not an insult. (Did you know the American Sign Language sign for "stubborn" is similar to the sign for "donkey"? A rather humorous tidbit there.) I feel very strongly about certain things, and while I'm willing to compromise on many occasions, rarely is my mind actually changed. Stubborn? Tenacious? Either way, I stand firm. 

One could view this as a very negative trait. And to be honest, there have been times where I've beaten myself up for being as stubborn as I am. But if I look back over my life, I can see clearly the circumstances in which my stubbornness - or tenacity - played a vital role in my survival. Had I not been so stubborn, I would have been broken. More than once. Had I not clung so tightly to what I knew was right, I would have compromised my very being, which would have left me with a fading identity. Had I not remained steadfast in my beliefs, I would have slid down more than one slippery slope towards an untimely demise. 

Call me tenacious. Call me stubborn. Call me pig-headed if you like. I won't take offense. I refuse to. Because my strong-willed nature is a part of who I am and a part of who God has made me to be. I've learned to temper my determination with softness of word and respectful actions. But my core remains like that of a bulldog. Or a donkey. And I've leaned that isn't bad. It's simply...me.

I love hearing from you! Feel free to leave a comment. Do you tend to be stubborn?


Forever Learning

Sometimes I get tired enough that all I want to do is lie on my couch, absorb (or not) my favorite television show and pretend that the world doesn't exist. But for the most part, I enjoy learning new things. I'm not very adventurous when it comes to doing new things, but I do love learning.

I've been involved in martial arts classes for a handful of years now. One of the (many) things I love about my classes is that there is always something new to learn. On the surface, I'm still going over things I was taught the very first time I stepped on the mat. In reality, I'm still practicing all those original moves and building on top of them with new and varying techniques. There are times I'm overwhelmed with new information. However, I absolutely love learning new combinations or moves and working at memorizing them (especially if it involves hitting things).

Finding an online course for Photoshop has been a highlight of this past year. Although the tests at the end of each section were sometimes difficult, I had an absolute blast gaining new information and learning brand new things I could use with such a fascinating program. I can't tell you how many techniques I wished I knew three years ago while working on particular projects. If only. But at least now I know them and I'm using them quite often in my digital art endeavors.

I recently talked about how much I love books. Lately I've been reading up on particular angles of human behaviors and nonverbal communication. I'm captivated by the information tucked in those pages. How people interact. Speak to each other. Physically react. How we perceive each other and the world around us. What to say and how to respond, depending on what another person says or how they behave themselves. Talk about a complicated web of possible scenarios and outcomes.

This fall, I'll be taking a class at a community college on graphic communication. Once again, I'm looking forward to learning something new and putting it to use in the workplace.

All these things are really just a small fraction of items that I'm learning every day. And I'm not alone in this. Everyone is constantly learning all the time, even when it's not obvious. Have you ever stopped to wonder how on earth our brains can handle all of that? I am forever amazed at how God has wired the human mind, enabling us to actually learn every single day without maxing out. Unlike a computer, we don't run out of space. (Although I've witnessed how age can be a bit of a detriment when it comes to retaining information!) We don't need batteries, external hard drives or more RAM. Incredible.

Here's hoping for many more years of learning new things. It's just more fun that way.

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Crawl Inside a Pizza Box

This is Jazzy. I lost her last year to the ripe old age of 17. All her life though, she provided me with many smiles and many laughs. My favorite memory of her is that she was a junk food junky. Her favorite snack was pepperoni and flavored potato chips. No joke. Like most cats, she also enjoyed her dairy - cheese in particular -along with bacon, cheetos, sausage, pizza in general, and ice cream - any flavor was fine.

As noted in this particular photo, Jazzy decided to see if I'd left anything for her after downing a small pizza for supper. I can't remember if there really was anything left or not, but I got so tickled at her antics, that rather than shoo her away, I snapped a picture. In all reality though, it captures her junk food personality trait. What's more is that she didn't care. She didn't worry about calories or carbs, or the fact that she had just stuck her whole front half into a pizza box to seek out any mere morsels left behind. Really now - talk about desperate. This kitty had issues!

The more I think about it though...the more I think I'd like to be that uninhibited sometimes. I know I need to watch what I eat, and I'm not gonna throw caution to the wind and abuse my body by eating everything in sight. But every once in a while...what's really the harm in sticking my head in a pizza box? Who cares? Living life doesn't have to be boring. Of course, use wisdom, but who says we can't have a bit of fun along the way? I'm pretty sure God is not a boring God. Just sayin'.

I probably won't literally stick my head inside a pizza box (unless I'm with my brother - he tends to bring out my goofier side). But I might eat the whole thing once in a while. And I'll probably eat that whole bowl of ice cream. And I might just splash through the next puddle I see. Or balance on the curb instead of walking on the sidewalk. Or say hi to a stranger. Maybe I'll even drive with the windows down and the radio up as loud as I can stand it. Next time it rains, maybe I'll go outside and dance in the downpour.

Life's short. Very short. Leaving the pizza box closed might be a good idea sometimes. But every once in a while...stick your head inside. There might be a surprise morsel waiting that will inspire your soul.

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Creepy Tunnels

There it is. The light at the end of the tunnel. See? It does exist!

Well... it's not really a tunnel. It's a drain pipe connecting two quarries where I fish. And it was broad daylight, so the contrast really isn't that great. But I felt creative nonetheless.

Actually, staring through that pipe kind of reminds me of some of my own recent hiccups in life. This tunnel is kinda dark. Just a bit creepy. Rusty. Obviously wet. Slippery. And it's a bit of a jaunt to the other end. I can see the other side. I see more water, sunlight and trees. Looks pretty nice. (What the picture doesn't show is that I could climb up over the top to where a walkway is, and never have to worry about going through such a pipe. But that would ruin my analogy.)

Thing is, to view this kind of picture - or to get to the other side (had I not given away the secret that I could walk up and over) - the route is through the tunnel. No matter how icky, damp or creepy it is, that's the way out.

Often times in life, I find myself in the middle of a tunnel before I've even realized what's happening. Then I'm stuck. I can't go back, and going forward stinks. But sitting there in the rusty water doesn't do anything but get me wet. Sometimes going forward is the only option - even when that light at the end isn't visible. There are times when sitting still is the answer. But more often than not, moving - in any direction - is the only way to get through a tunnel. Every once in a while, we have the opportunity to see the tunnel before we get there, and we choose to go up and over, rather than through. Those are blessings. Most of the time though...yeah, we end up in that tunnel without any options, other than to simply keep moving and hope that it's a shorter distance to the end than it appears.

I'm so thankful that God provides me with an everlasting light that I can always cling to at the end of any tunnel. But I still get stuck. I still panic. I still get claustrophobic and probably whine a whole lot more than I should. But this picture reminds me to keep going even when I'm too tired, too grouchy, too sad, or too stubborn. I should make it my computer's wallpaper.

...On second thought, it really isn't all that pretty of a picture. But I can reference this blog post whenever I want...

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