Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Foot in Mouth Disease?

Why yes, I suffer from the all too common ailment of "Foot in Mouth" disease very often.

Although lately it hasn't been bad or offensive to the other person, just highly embarrassing for me. In an attempt to be friendly to others, I ended up putting my own foot in my mouth, figuratively.

So keeping with this convenient Scripture verse that happened to appear right in the midst of all of my societal blunders..."In everything, deal with others as you would like them to deal with you." -Matthew 7:12

If what you end up saying is completely ridiculous, even though you did not intend for it to be, learn to laugh it off. That's what I've had to do. So now that I've told all of this, I'll tell you what I did, because I finally had the chance to tell a few people today.

As part of the Humdinger Project, we like to get as many people as possible to join us on hikes or outings to things that surround the Smokies. In keeping with this ideology, I invited a classmate once I learned that he liked to hike. This happened on a Wednesday night in the bowels of Neyland Stadium (football at the University of Tennessee).

I said, "Hey man, if you're able to go and you're interested, my friend and I are going hiking this coming Sunday." Blue Shirt said, "Oh...well I'm kinda getting married on Sunday."

Cue Ashley's face turning a hundred shades of the funniest red. I WAS NOT ASKING HIM OUT. I was merely trying to get more people who like to hike to go on this upcoming hike. But my face, the traitorous wretch that it is, turned red from embarrassment that wasn't really supposed to be there. So naturally I panicked thinking that he was thinking that I was asking him out. But I wasn't! And I couldn't stop my face from getting redder.

He just stared at me. The horrible part was that I realized that the first week of class I had overheard some guy telling the professor that he would be gone a week because he was getting married. I realized to my horror that Blue Shirt was the guy who had said that. If only I had remembered that, I wouldn't have asked! I could have saved myself an awkward moment.

I ended up babbling on trying to salvage the conversation, but when I said something along the lines of "Marriage is a little more important than hiking. Yes..." my professor turned around and loudly said, "WHAT?" and proceeded to repeat my ill-formed sentence. Then more of my classmates turned to tune into the conversation.

Lord have mercy.

After class, I tried to fix the situation as best as I could. So I changed the invitation to, "Seriously though, if you and your soon-to-be wife ever want to go hiking for this Smokies project, let me know!" Blue Shirt replied, "Yeah. Definitely, just let me know when you plan a hike." According to my friends, they said that I have in fact saved the situation.

But not my pride. Dignity. Whatever you call it.

Moving on to the next instance of "Foot in Mouth" disease. The Friday of the same week as the hiking/classmate catastrophe, I went to have my oil changed. The man who was in charge of asking me questions, telling me to turn off the car, et cetera et cetera found out that I was a college student after I pathetically explained my windshield wiper situation. He came around to say, "Do you know that like half of your one windshield wiper is broken?" Morosely and comically, I hung my arms and head out of the window and said, "Yes but I am a poor college kid who is waiting until the last possible minute to fix it."

He came back a few minutes later to tell me about his online college courses and working full time. It was a nice exchange of homework horror stories, and then I was done with the car maintenance. As I was exiting, he said, "Thanks for coming. Have a nice day!" And I, hoping to be as friendly as he, replied, "Good luck with your stuff!"

WHAT? With your stuff...what just came out of my mouth? In my head I was aiming to convey my goodwill by saying, Good luck with all of your classes!, but that did not happen. The brain to mouth connection must be broken (frequently, as you can tell).

And so I leave you with this ironically appropriate quote:

Goodwill in the soul is the source of all good things and the mother of all virtues. Those who possess it hold in their hand--without fear of losing it--all that is necessary to lead a good life. -St. Albert the Great

I guess sometimes goodwill and "Foot in Mouth" disease instances can run together, but the mix up of a few words and actions can be rather funny. God certainly has a sense of humor, because I'm walking around on this planet.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

What do you do, when you don't know what to do?

Yes that title is hard for me to say, but it is an accurate summation of life these past few days.

Namely, the loss of life.

Last Friday, a 17 year old who just graduated from high school was killed in a car accident. Her name was Susan, and she was my friend Sarah's stepsister. I knew who Susan was from my yearbook days and from attending the same high school, but I never actually talked to her.

Sarah, however, is one of my best friends. When I found out, immediately I sought to find out how she was doing. I didn't have the chance to speak to or see her until I went to Susan's visitation.

In the hours leading up to the visitation, I found myself helplessly trying to think of ways to help Sarah. She's a strong lady, but I knew from my own experiences that grief gets even the best of us. Grief always does. It's a mysterious thing.

I left the house, still not knowing what I would say when I saw her. My best friend Becca and I went together, and as I walked up to Sarah, anything that I had hoped to say (which wasn't much) fell to the floor. All I could do, and as I think about it now all that was needed, was to hold her. A long hug and several Iloveyous. Hugs aren't always cures, but sometimes they're good bandaids. I felt her collapse, as for one terrifying moment I thought I would collapse under the weight of all the grief that permeated the room like a thick fog. How can I help my friend if I can't even keep myself together?

I mourn and pray for Susan, but my mourning and praying is more for my friend and her family. I'm being honest with myself when I say I feel bad when I read that sentence, but I didn't know Susan.

Humans are emotional beings, some are just better than others about hiding or not hiding their emotions. I don't like to hide them much anymore as it does me no good. The loss of any life, known or not, is hard especially when it is a young life.

Later that day I kept thinking about how to help. What can I do to make Sarah's day a little brighter? What can I do to help stem the tide of emotions? It hit her harder than she expected, and knowing that threw me for a loop, consequently getting me more than I thought it would. How can I help her with that? I was at a loss for any kind of action. I almost felt that my thoughts were paralyzed. I like finding solutions and ways to help others. Why was it so hard for me to do that now?

Then I sat down and prayed. I realized at the time that that was the only thing I could do. I prayed for healing and peace for Sarah and her family, for the Holy Spirit to bring them back together after their loss. I also asked for guidance. God, what can I do?

Shortly after, Becca and I came up with an ingenious idea where the only things involved are friends, Harry Potter, musicals, junk food, and play. Divine providence is always a good thing, but it's even better when you actually see God's hand guiding you. Later that night, I read this before I fell asleep:
"One day with the Lord is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day." -2 Peter 3:8

Everything on this earth passes away--all too quickly. But eternity will never pass away. -St. Aloysius Gonzaga
And it all made perfect sense. Sort of. Death and grief I will never understand. But what to do when I don't know what to do?

Pray. Why couldn't I have thought of that earlier?

Monday, June 14, 2010

The Everyday Things

Have you ever noticed how beautiful the ordinary things are?

I do it all of the time. I think that is one of the gifts that God gave me. Why is that a gift? Maybe it's a gift because I can appreciate all that He puts in front of me. When I say everything, I mean everything.

Rock formations. Colors in a flower, bird, gemstones. My family. Leaves bigger than my hand. That goofy smile my little sister makes. My dogs. Driving a car. Mountains. Trees. Streams full of yesterday's rain. A good book. Internet access. My cats. Music.

Last night I was especially thankful and joyful for what I consider one of life's wonderful miracles. I came home to find my family all out by the pool deck, dogs included. Within 10 minutes, we had all funnily made a subconscious decision that Charlie could finally get in the pool.

You see, we've never had a family dog that liked to play in the water. Charlie has brought the joy of playful banter in the big water tub to our lives. He bites at the hose and plays in the old turtle sandbox turned "Charlie pool." He always eyed the pool, but we always told him no whenever he made any kind of jumping-in motion.

Last night that dry spell ended. (No punny business intended). My sister April reached up the pool ladder, grabbed him, and walked around the pool with him. All Charlie would do was cling to her and lay his head on her shoulder. Within a few minutes, he was swimming around but with the help of Ape, not totally by himself.

Ape put him back on the pool deck, but he just whined to come back in the water! He can now proudly swim around the pool by himself, but he still needs help getting out because he's a dog and can't climb a ladder made for humans.

Yes I know, dogs are born with the ability to swim. Charlie, however, never got to test that out before now. So I consider his little swimming lesson one of the highlight's of my entire life. Tonight we went swimming. My youngest sister and Charlie both bothered me until I took them out to the pool.

I also learned to appreciate being able to walk and run. The University of Tennessee campus is not for the faint of heart. There is really no flat way for me to get to class. My legs get a good workout each day I go to class. I am not in great shape, I don't think I ever have been my entire life. But I'm thankful for what I've got.

Enjoy the small things! They often mean more to you than you realize.

p.s. I'm working on my El Salvador/NPH post. It's going to be big.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Natalie Dee Thursday is Back!

In the last post I said I would be back with more things of a potentially serious nature, or at least not just funny things, but then I went out of the country! This explains the lack of posts. That and the fact that I have just been crazy busy the last few weeks.

I like to blog, I really do. Although sometimes I wish I didn't have one because I feel obligated to do something every day. I know that I don't have to. Then when I don't have time to do a post, days go by before I find the time to sit down and write, or to even link up to a favorite Youtube video.

Anyway, I guess this is also a preemptive strike. I'm taking summer classes, and they both require a lot of my time. So basically, posting could be a hit or miss kind of deal. I hope you're all okay with that. If not, oh well. Read a book. I would suggest anything by Clive Cussler.

I digress. From June 3-8, I was visiting my home away from home which is Nuestros Pequeños Hermanos El Salvador. Click here, here, and here to learn more about NPH. It was my third trip down there and probably will be the last for a couple of years. Being in college sucks in the money arena because, well, you don't have a lot of it!

Of the many reasons I love to travel down to El Salvador, the zero access I have to a computer is actually quite high on the list. I'm away from blogging, email, Facebook, and general internet surfing.

I can take a step back and breath. I don't check everything every 5 minutes. I am not attached to my computer, but I do use my phone as a watch and an alarm. Going to NPH is a good way to unplug.

There will be more to follow about El Salvador and NPH, but for now it's Natalie Dee time.

I chose this comic because the woman in the picture could possibly be me. I'm not 38 though. Age doesn't matter when you want a horse or a pony.

You Do Realize Those Things Dump About A Thousand Pounds A Day
Natalie Dee, 5-21-10

Click to embiggen

Yes, yes I do realize horses are ahem, messy. I still want one. As always, visit Natalie's website for more fun. Hasta luego mis amigos!