We humans are obsessed with finding fault. Who dun it? Who’s responsible? Who’s gonna pay? Who’s liable? Someone has to make it right – Right?
The other day, as I drove back to my office after a morning appointment, thinking about the rest of my morning and wondering what I was going to order for lunch, a car jets out of a drive right in front of me. I slam on my brakes and feel by briefcase hit the back of my seat while other articles are scattered across the car floor. I quickly check the rear view mirror trying to find an escape route; I deftly maneuver to the left lane.
Unbelievably, the driver continues on to the left lane as though there is some magnetic pull between us. There are no more options, so I brace for impact. First the jolt that sends my brain sloshing against the inside of my skull, then the helpless feeling of being pushed up over the curb and into the median.
I wriggled my fingers and toes to assure myself that I’m unscathed. I see the other driver is also fine as the young lady comes running across the road from where she came to rest on the right shoulder. “What were you trying to do?” I ask.
I don’t often think about Michigan’s no-fault insurance laws, but I suddenly found myself wanting someone to testify that this was not my fault. I wanted the police to come and draw lines on the pavement and create complex computer scenarios that would prove my innocence and my skillful driving techniques that minimized the situation into a fairly manageable fender bender. But the fact was that my 13 year-old Chevy had only negligible damage, as did the young lady’s old beater and my insurance company assured me that we only needed to call the police if there were injuries or the threat of erupting violence.
I drove home with indignant disappointment that there was no proof of my virtuousness, or even more importantly, the other driver’s guilt. Even the petty scarring on my fender and hub cap didn’t testify to the extent I had been offended.
It was an accident, and that’s all. A teen-aged driver learning the ropes, and I was her crash test dummy. An accident. No fault. No blame. No satisfaction. An accident.
By Teresa Janzen
Fields of green with marble soldiers
Arms for evermore salute
Standing stoic at attention
Silent orders now fulfilled
Stretching out in all directions
White and shining in the sun
On parade though no more marching
Decked with flowers, flags and tears
Cannot hear your bugle playing
Sacrificed at such a cost
Distant stranger now forgotten
Never coming home again
Sizzling morsels almost ready
Loved ones gathered all around
Leisure friends just recreating
Free to work some other day
Overlooking fallen champions
Are there any thoughts to spare?
Pass the ketchup burn the hotdogs
Safe and sound no thoughts of war
By Teresa Janzen
One morning, I woke up under a wet blanket on the wrong side of the bed.
I opened a can of worms, but the early bird got them all.
I counted my chickens and then they hatched, so I was walking on eggshells the rest of the day.
I tried to heat some cold turkey, but a watched pot never boils.
A friend stopped by to chew the fat over a tall glass of lemonade, but I bit off more than I could chew.
It was too much to swallow.
My friend can talk until he’s blue in the face, but he only comes over once in a blue moon, so I don’t mind.
“This lemonade hits the spot,” I said. “Bite your tongue,” my friend replied, but instead I bit the hand that feeds me.
“Time flies!” my friend announced then he decided to hit the road.
He was light on his feet, but I got off on the wrong foot and broke a leg.
After the dust settled, I went to the doctor to be patched up.
He said it was a piece of cake, but he charged me an arm and a leg anyway.
Money doesn’t grow on trees, you know, and apples don’t fall far from them either.
The doctor gave me a penny for my thoughts, and a penny saved is a penny earned.
I started out for home when out of the blue, it began raining cats and dogs.
I was only a hop, skip and a jump away (as the crow flies), so I made a bee-line for home.
I got turned around in the wrong neck of the woods and couldn’t see the forest for the trees.
I decided to roll with the punches, and by the luck of the draw I found the right path home.
By this time, I was feeling a bit under the weather, so I decided to hit the hay.
Later that night, I took a turn for the worse and before I knew it, I was sick as a dog.
“That’s all she wrote,” I said under my breath, and then I kicked the bucket.
Now I’m six feet under, feeding worms and pushing up daisies.
Don’t sweat it. I’ve been pulling your leg. This was all just a tall tale.
In my soon to be released book, “Grow Where You’re Planted”, I talk about making a decision, digging in, and getting going. While I don’t accept the excuse that life has dealt me a bad hand, I do realize that our surroundings–where we are–does make a difference.
My husband travels to South Sudan each year doing agricultural mission work. Last year he planted some trees from seed. This year he returned to find the seeds he had planted had grown to be over 10 feet tall. In just one year!
How did it grow so fast? My husband the horticulturalist would say that it’s because it had what it needed. This seems strange to me because I’ve been to South Sudan, and the conditions are less than ideal, at least in my mind. Six months of rain, six months of drought, and temperatures well over 100 f.
The same is true for us. While we rarely have everything we want; we usually have everything we need. If we approach life with an attitude of gratitude for what we have, we will have what we need to dig in and grow.
I was the executive director of the largest food pantry in the county when one of our more chronic clients called me on the phone and said, “I can’t believe they did that to me!” He told me that the power company had turned off his electric. I replied in mock horror, “You’re kidding! You mean that you paid your bill and they just turned off your power?”
Of course he hadn’t paid his bill, yet he was still surprised by the consequence of having his service disconnected.
None of us make right choices all the time. But if we are experiencing some negative things in life, we should start by taking a look at our own behavior and making an honest assessment of whether or not we are the cause of what we are going through. And if we are—or our choices are—the cause, REJOICE! A change can be made.
- Gained 10 pounds? Wonderful! You can do something about that.
- Got a speeding ticket? Good job! You were also reminded of a lesson.
Now for the tough ones. These aren’t as clear as weight loss or traffic fines, but you still have a lot of influence over these areas of your life.
- Having problems in your marriage? Invest some time in your most important relationship.
- Not fulfilled at work or need a job? What can you do to bring new life to your current job, or maybe it’s time to look for something new.
The point is that we all need to stop complaining, accept responsibility, and take the proverbial bull by the horns to change what we can and work through what we can’t.
One thing I’m pretty big on is personal responsibility. It drives me crazy to listen to people complain about their rotten luck when the truth of the matter is that they are simply experiencing the consequences for their own actions and decisions. But sometimes stuff happens and we go through tough times at no fault of our own.
When circumstances are completely out of our control we still have some pretty big decisions to make. What’s my attitude going to be like? How do I treat others—including those who may be at fault for my difficulties? And ultimately, what am I going to do now?
When I wrote my first children’s book, I was thinking about my own kids and what they were going through at the time. Their father and I had just gotten a divorce. This wasn’t one of those knock-down drag-out divorces that should be on a TV talk show. As far as divorces go, it was pretty civil. But still, life for our four daughters was forever altered.
They say that kids are resilient—I have no idea who “they” even are. Even adults don’t ofte respond to difficult circumstances with grace. So what can we realistically expect from kids? I don’t think there is a quick answer to this question, and certainly it depends a lot on the personality of the child and the support structure they have.
My hope is that with some tools, like the “Grow Where You’re Planted” book and some well-balanced adults, kids will have a better chance of taking their new circumstances in stride and making a positive situation out of it.
I found a secret hiding place where all my senses come alive. Ordinarily it isn’t a secret, but the winds of winter have created a haven isolated by a wall of sand and ice.
How different my refuge must be in the height of the season when children play and sunbathers abound. For now, the deck above my head is completely silent bar the incessant dripping of melting icicles. Soon it will rumble with the sound of jubilant feet.
I close my eyes and feel the cold winter air on my face, my nose pink with its presence. I can hear the distant roar of waves, though I cannot see them. Opening my eyes I see before me a sandscape of fictional mountains and waning sunset. There is a light scent of fish so faint, I wonder if it’s really there or merely a suggestion from my mind. The wind has a subtle taste, like an ice cube from the bottom of my water glass in summer.
Soon I’ll l leave my place of solace and return to the busy world. For now I enjoy my secret moment of solitude, hidden from the cares and worries of the day, gently swaying with the swing in the dim recess of my secret sanctuary.
This is the assignment from my Word Weavers writer’s retreat. Create a story using the five senses and a message from the inside of a Dove candy. My message was “Share a secret”.