articulate - adjective
1. having parts connected by joints, as in "articulated"
2. made up of distinct words joined together in such a way as to convey meaning
3. able to express oneself clearly and distinctly
4. well formulated, clearly presented

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Getting It -- Patriotism and Our Pledge of Allegiance

What a beautiful picture.

Some people criticize our flag.  Some burn it.  Some fly it upside down.

I think they just don't "get it."

To me, there's nothing quite so beautiful as our country's flag, whipping in the breeze.  It proclaims honor.  It voices national pride.  It shouts victory!

Today in church, we held a memorial service for the heroes who gave their lives to help save others in the 9/11 terrorist attacks.  It was an incredible service.  You could tell everyone was engaged, everyone was getting it.  It touched my heart.

There was the 50-something year old pastor, who couldn't sing "God Bless America" without tearing up.  He gets it.

There was the 90-something year old veteran of WWII, standing as erect as he could, holding his oxygen tank, and proudly warbling the songs from memory. He gets it.

There was the 80-something year old navy veteran who can hold his breath longer than anyone else in our church (we competed last year!), who just buried his wife last week.  He made it through the songs, but he took a lot more breaths than normal.  He gets it.

There was the 70-something year old man who has endured major health challenges recently.  He stood in front of me at full attention when we pledged allegiance to the flag.  He always sits in the same place (as do we), and over the years I've noticed that he never conforms to the ritual phrasing of the pledge.

You know how we always do it...

I pledge allegiance.
To the flag.
Of the United States of America.
And to the republic.
For which it stands.
One nation.
Under God.
With liberty.
And justice.
For all.

But he runs the words together more like the phrasing of complete sentences (like they were originally meant to be?).  Consequently, he has to stop occasionally and wait for everyone else to catch up.

I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America
and to the republic for which it stands,
one nation under God!  (he always says this with emphasis)
With liberty and justice for all.

He gets it.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Out On A Limb (or An Introvert's Journey into the Unknown)

Nothing earthshaking here; just a photo journal of my week so far.


Why is it the place I need to be is at the other end of a frightening journey?  I've watched others do this, so I'm pretty sure I can, too, but my cozy kitty pillow felt much safer than this scrawny branch.

One more step forward.  The ground is so far below! 

If I squeeze my eyes shut, maybe that will help.

Aaaaaaaah!  My back right paw trembled off the branch.  

 Erf!  Splinter in the belly.  This is NOT comfy.  Legs, get back up here where you belong!  Okay now, one more step, maybe with the eyes open again...

Wait.  Where am I?  Better yet, where am I supposed to be going again?  And HOW am I supposed to get there??  A map would be good.  A map?  Please??  MY KINGDOM FOR A MAP!

Oh no, not a breeze!  WIND, STOP SHAKING THE TREE!!!

Sure is a good thing I do chinups.  Now if the bottom 2/3 of my body would only join the rest of us up here, too...

I'll try swinging it up.  Forward.  Backward.  Forward.  Momentum's a good thing, they tell me.  

Faster now.  Backward, forward, backward, forward, backward forward backwardforwardcackbardforbard...

Slipping!  Slipppppppping!  Dig the claws in deeper!  Lunge, lurch, OOMPH! 

Okay, there.  A little traumatized, but safely delivered to top of branch again, including all essential body parts, I think.

What I really think is it's time for a nap.  Wake me when we get there, okay? ;)

So how was your week? :)

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Relationship Geometry (or, A Great Friend is a Rubik's Cube)

I loved high school geometry.  Did you?  Measuring lines, bisecting angles, drawing circles and arcs... This is just plain fun to me!

Since my youngest is in 10th grade, this year is my last opportunity to teach geometry.  Working with him on lines, segments, rays, and angles got me thinking...

Every relationship can be illustrated in geometry!

Yeah, I know, you're rolling your eyes.  But bear with me.

You are a point.  We'll call you Point A.

But no man is an island, so we'll add me to the picture.  I'll be Point B.
 Two islands!  Helloooo over there!

Now, if you and I were to connect in some sort of relationship, whether a work-related one or a friendship, we could be illustrated by a line segment.
This is us, joined in an exclusive relationship.  No other points are involved, no other lives affected.  Just you and me.  On the surface this can appear to be a good thing, as in a marriage or a "best friendship."  But an exclusive relationship tends to become ingrown.  There's too much pressure on one person to support the entire weight of another.  A line segment relationship just isn't going anywhere.

(Please don't misunderstand -- I'm not a bigamist, and I'm not advocating infidelity!  I'm just saying that in marriages, your spouse isn't the only friend you should have.  He/she should ideally be your closest friend, but not your only one.)

I observed an exclusive relationship one time, shortly after we moved to NY.  I was talking with a lady in a social situation, and we hit it off fairly well.  The next time I saw her, I spoke with her briefly again, just a friendly contact.  Everything seemed fine.  The next time I spoke to her, though, she felt compelled to inform me, "I already have a best friend, and I don't have the time to invest in other relationships."

I was amazed.  I wasn't asking her for anything at all beyond the mere politeness due a person you see frequently.  But she was evidently absorbed in her relationship with another person to the extent that she couldn't afford mere pleasantries on a repeated basis.  What a shame.

(P.S.  This lady's best friend died last winter.  I wonder how she coped with the disintegration of her entire universe.)

Okay, moving on, another type of relationship.  Ray AB illustrates a one-way relationship.
We typically see this in a parent-young child relationship, or in other caregiver situations where the receiving of one without giving back is normal. 

A people pleaser, however, often winds up in relationships -- again, whether work-related or in social circles -- where they give to others who dominate them in such a way that they never receive any return on their relationship investment.  They become doormats.

Anne Hathaway played this part well in the movie Bride Wars.  Until she decided to quit catering to everyone else, she was used by self-centered people to further their own agendas.  This is not a truly beneficial relationship for either the giver or the receiver, and is doomed to failure when the giver exhausts his resources or the receiver finds someone who can give them more.

In a relationship between two healthy adults, however, this should not be the norm.  The ideal would be illustrated by Line AB:

Both points are interacting with each other as well as extending their reach outward.

As relationships interact, we can find another example of exclusivity as seen below.
All points interact with each other, provided the points are invited inside the circle.  This is fine in a business situation, on a committee, for instance, but in relationships it's called a clique.  As with other exclusive relationships, it will eventually become ingrown and suffocate.  Good friendships should be made stronger by including others.

So far, everything we've looked at has been 1- or 2-dimensional.  A growing relationship, however, should become 3-dimensional, developing depth as the people get to know each other.

The many facets of their personalities and experiences combine to create a solid relationship that can stand on its own, largely unaffected by outside forces.

And a GREAT relationship becomes like a Rubik's Cube, always stuck together no matter which way circumstances turn it!