Tuesday, July 30, 2019

The Hard Life in 2019 America

When did stating observable facts and holding public figures accountable for doing their jobs become "racist"?
When did upholding our immigration laws become "anti-immigrant?"
When did disagreement become "hate?"
When did it become not only acceptable but desirable for our government to establish entitlements and privileges for certain groups of people and withhold those entitlements and privileges from other groups of people based on ethnicity or race?
When did our government get the right to use taxpayers' hard-earned money to support organizations that serve only small selected portions (identity groups) of the population?
Intelligent (and not-so-intelligent) people have learned to use our eyes to discern observable features of others, such as what sex, ethnicity, etc they are, so that we can use pronouns and other language cues to facilitate communication. Must we now begin every communication with a new acquaintance with inquiries about their "gender" or "gender identity" before we can begin meaningful conversation and avoid using "offensive" pronouns?
We are making life unnecessarily hard!

Monday, July 08, 2019

The Power of Yet

I was reminded again this morning of the power of "yet."  Even at my age, YET sometimes keeps me going. When I retired, I couldn't paint, or play piano, or write meaningful poetry, or read the Bible through yearly, or truly understand "big picture" economic or political issues, or relax enough to see the beauty in the stress of relationships, or turn loose of (and forgive myself for my part in) the stress generated through daily living - YET.

I still can't paint or write or forgive myself or understand those "big issues" like I really want to - YET.  But I HAVE learned to add "yet" instead of a period when evaluating my life and accomplishments.

So, advice from this old lady to my young friends:  Quit putting periods at the end of your self-evaluating statements/thoughts.  When you say/think, “I can’t —-,” when you think/say “I don’t get —,” when you think/say, “I can’t understand—,” always follow those statements with “YET.” yocome to the end of the

Tuesday, July 02, 2019

Trials and Tribulations of a Southern Introvert

There have always been introverts and extroverts in the world. That distinction of personalities has been studied and understood (?) by psychologists and psychology students for generations. But for some reason, the topic has become a frequent flyer on social media. Maybe this is because these outlets (social media) lend themselves so well to stream-of-consciousness sharing of ideas. These personality types can also be described (as can almost anything) as a "spectrum." Most of us fall somewhere in the middle between these two personality extremes; but that is a topic for another day.

I started thinking about this again when I saw two different good-natured-ridicule memes this morning on Facebook. One was a clever mockery of the long Southern goodbye, and the other meme attempted to explain introversion to the often-baffled extroverts of the world.  I immediately formed a connection between the two topics.

First, let me affirm that I genuinely LOVE and am PROUD of my Southern heritage.  I love our openness, our general assumption of the good intentions of others, our tolerance for differences and eccentricities, our close connection to the land and nature, and our intense loyalties to "mama an' 'em." BUT, I must also affirm that many of our customs and habits are torture for those of us who tilt the balance strongly toward the introvert end of the spectrum.

One part of our culture I have always disliked the is long Southern goodbye.  In our large family, it is extremely common to have gatherings of 20+ family members for a long and loud gathering. When my enjoyment of the connection is waning and my tolerance for the noise and confusion is exhausted, I would STRONGLY prefer  to just quietly gather my belongings and walk out the door.  These people know that I have enjoyed seeing and visiting with them; they know I love them.  Why, oh why, must I go around the room and hug every individual person and affirm my love for them?  Why must I invent a plausible excuse for leaving and explain it convincingly and individually to each person in the room?  Why do I have to be the center of attention for ten minutes before I can escape? I am grateful that in our family setting, I CAN sometimes just gather my belongings and leave.  They love me enough to excuse this "rude" behavior and not really think less of me for it. At least I think that is the case.

But when I (and I assume many other introverts) have to attempt to leave a gathering of people with whom we do not share an entire lifetime of history, the Southern goodbye is a nightmare! Simply leaving the assembly without the endless personal interactions is not considered acceptable in the south. There is little that exhausts me more than having to come up with 50-60 pleasant things to say to make sure everyone feels valued and connected while everyone else looks on and evaluates.

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Reading, Reviewing, and Ruminating

Nobody likes for others to cut in front of them in line. Nobody likes those that get promoted ahead of them at work through deceit and/or false documentation. Who doesn’t resent that lazy kid who gets a A just because his/her parent terrorizes the school and teachers — while his/her hard-working classmates get the grades they earned? Who likes to sit on the bench while the kid who missed most of the practices carries the ball? Nothing hurts morale and destroys a sense of togetherness more than such unfair situations. 

Unity, morale, progress, civility- 
(1) For the individual, these come from one’s personal moral standards. (2) On a relationship and small-group level, these come from mutual respect and mutually-established “rules of engagement” or stated regulations. (3) on a national level, unity, morale, progress, and civility are achieved by universal adherence to legally-made regulations (laws) and established common goals (a constitution.)

I think this explains (at least partially) the low morale, disunity, and incivility in current American society.  It is fundamentally “unfair” to establish sanctuary cities to protect lawbreakers, to provide freebies for some while others have to work and pay for the “free” stuff that others enjoy, to give rewards to those who break the law (illegal immigrants with voting rights, etc.) 

Just reading, reviewing, and ruminating this morning...

Monday, June 03, 2019


June is always filled with nostalgia for me. I guess it is for most people - it's an active month because of its weather and the fact that school is not in session. So a lot of special occasions are scheduled for June. The month starts for me with our son's bday on June 1! What a day that was back on the actual birth day! He was a week past due. Being the considerate person he has continued to be for mumblety-two years, he kindly waited for his father to finish his seminary classes and graduate before making his appearance. He wanted me to be able to attend the graduation, I guess. Thanks, Steve. Here our baby boy is preparing to "give away" his baby girl last year.

Then on June 3, we celebrate my only antebellum sibling's birthday. Four-year-old Janice and 1 1/2 year-old I were alone with our 20-year-old mother for a couple (3?) of years while Daddy went to war; so Jan and I have always had some sense of separateness from the five younger siblings born after a five+ year gap. Jan, being much more extroverted than I, opened social doors for me throughout our childhood and adolescence. We shared a room and a bed for the first 16 years of my life; one doesn't get much closer than that. This year (today) marks the 80th anniversary of Jan's birth! Wow! There it is in black and
white; so it MUST be true, right? (I won't make the obvious political comment about the 2019 American free press here.) This pic is of Jan and me last year on this day.

Last year, June 3 acquired new significance for me. Our precious oldest living grandchild, Rachael, married her handsome firefighter on June 3, 2018. Rachael is a Rainbow Baby, born just 13 months after her older sister, Caitlin, was stillborn. She has always been a delightful free spirit, always up for fun, always free with her expressions of feelings - happiness, unhappiness, fear, joy, love - whatever she was/is feeling, she's an open book. As a small child, she would run full-force and jump into my (or any of her significant adults') arms squealing with the happiness of reunion after a separation of any kind.

June 7, marks the anniversary of Jim's and my marriage - 56 years ago now! We've shared our lives in so many ways through these years - good times, great times, joyous times, tedious times, sad times, stressful times - whatever has come our way, we've tried to be each other's strength and support. (The dress-up pic was taken a couple of years ago on a South American cruise; the casual one was taken last week.)
June 18 is Lyn and Ricky's anniversary. (Picture was taken last week at our joint birthday dinner for Lyn and Steve.)

 June 23 is Steve and La Donna's anniversary. (Picture was taken last week as we celebrated Lyn's and Steve's birthdays.)

In an extended family as large as ours, it would be virtually impossible to note all the connections that make June a special and busy month in our lives. These are some of the significant ones. So, bring it on, June. We're ready to party!

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

In a Field

In a Field

As I emerge from the dim canopy of woods,  
The narrow footpath I have trod now opens wide its arms.
Trees fall away on either side, revealing the wide, blue sky above.
And stretching before me, fecund fields of wildflowers
Celebrate the day in their finest party clothes.
They smile and wave in greeting.

On one side, the land dips, providing passage,
And the Spring rains are reborn as a gentle stream,
Sparkling in the daylight, after their dark and winding journey
Through the mountains towering above.

In the stillness, around and within me, a celebratory tune rises.
The stream, speeding now through its tiny, venous valley,
 Lifts its voice, burbling in harmony with the
Faint hum of breathy breezes and the birdcalls from the distant forest.
Bees, thronging the sunny goldenrod,
Buzz along with the lilting Summer song.

Tiny white Spring Cress on slender stems, begin to sway
And tilt their heads to better hear the melody,
While dandelions dance, and neighboring grasses swish their skirts
In response to the joyful tune.

And I, like dreamers through the ages, feast my eyes
On the beauty and grandeur of creation.
And I, like dreamers through the ages, feast my spirit
On the harmony manifest before me and within me.

Lifting my head and breathing in the joy,
I join with all nature in celebration –
Of life – of purpose – of meaning—
Of communion with the God of creation.

Joan Turrentine
May 2019

Friday, May 10, 2019

Mothers Day Weekend 2019

Mothers' Day always leaves me in a quandary. I want to celebrate my very special mother, of course; but so many other mothers are important to me.

So many other women of my mother's generation also mothered me in some way, I'd be afraid to start listing names. Many have gone on to the next life; but among the living, those I celebrate this weekend are my loving, nurturing aunts, Annie Scarborough (although she's closer to my age than mother's, she's still my aunt) and Eugenia Shaw.

There were nurturing teachers and the mothers of my friends who served "in loco parentis" during my growing-up years. I am grateful for their guidance.

It is vital to me that my grandchildren have good mothers; and I celebrate the fact that they DO! So I celebrate Lyn Davis and La Donna Turrentine, their very loved mothers. Likewise my nieces and nephews are precious to me, and I celebrate my sisters, who are, with their husbands, responsible for raising them to be the fine adults and citizens they have become. Janice Shaw Crouse, Sheila Matthews Shaw, Carol Shaw Johnston, Deborah Shaw Lewis, Beth Shaw Hearn Roszel, and Vicki Brown Shaw.

I also celebrate on this Mothers' Day weekend the fact that God allowed me to be the mother of two of His most precious children, Lyn Turrentine Davis and Steve Turrentine, and that by their marriages, I have had the opportunity to co-mother La Donna Rabern Turrentine and Ricky Jack Davis.

I will stop at this point, although there are so many wonderful women whose lives have touched and impacted mine throughout my days and years. I thank God for each of them.