Tag Archives: assertiveness

Saving Duck

Remember the Duck Index two posts ago? How we’re going to do more of what we want to do and say no without guilt to everything else? Yeah, I talk a big game.

two ducks by Richard Broderick creative commons license

two ducks are better than one, image by Richard Broderick, creative commons license

No sooner did I write those words than the calendar page flipped and tossed me into the most wonderful stressful time of the year.

The time-sucking, sanity-sapping specter of shopping, cards, decorating, overeating, and road trips seized my duck with the sole intent to lop off his head, smoke, and serve him for New Year’s brunch.

I suspect the true target is me. 

The marksman crouches low in the dried cattails along the late autumn shoreline, his quiver full of guilt-tipped arrows. Silently, he pulls back his bow and launches the Dickens three-pronged attack.

Zing! The arrow of Christmas Past hits me in the chest. Memories of years long gone by and loved ones lost steal the air from my lungs. Zip! He hits me again. Christmas Present lodges squarely in my left shoulder. Pain shoots across my back with the knowledge that I can’t possibly do all of the things I’m supposed to do to make this the best. holiday. EVER. Pop! Christmas Future pegs me right between the eyes. My head aches with premonitions of a time when I’ll be too old, alone, and destitute to jingle even the tiniest silver bell.

I’m not dead yet, so the duck slayer gingerly lobs the Martha Stewart arrow. It’s carved of Quaking Aspen wood, finished with Peregrine feathers on one end and a rare, Native American arrowhead chiseled from Yellowstone Obsidian on the other. It slices through the skin on my right arm like a whalebone-handled table knife acquired at a tag sale in Connecticut slices through artisanal butter. I bleed enough to ruin the linens of an otherwise perfect holiday table setting, but the injury’s not fatal.

Korean Arrows by garryknight, creative commons license

Korean Arrows, image by garryknight, creative commons license

The archer selects the Good Christian Men arrow in an attempt to finish me off. This arrow screams as it flies at me, “Rejoice already! What’s wrong with you? Rejoice! Rejoice! It’s what good Christians do!”

I’m drowning in guilt when here it comes, the mother lode. The hunter lets fly the I’ll Be Home for Christmas arrow. True, I’ll be in someone’s home for Christmas. My home now? My home back then? The home of my relatives or in-laws? Could home be an illusion that exists if only in my dreams? Perhaps I should pitch a tent along the interstate. Set up camp under the Eads Bridge on the banks of the Mississippi.

The archer is ready with more ammunition. There’s the You Busted Your Holiday Budget and It’s Not Even December Yet arrow. The You’re Going Out to Eat on Christmas Instead of Cooking a Meatless, Organic Feast of Locally-Sourced Winter Vegetables? arrow. And new this year, the special edition red, white, and blue Happy New Year’s Dive Off the Fiscal Cliff arrow.

I shudder, quite sure my punctured carcass will be thrown onto Frosty’s compost pile to melt into oblivion. When what with my wondering ears do I hear?

“Quack!”

Oh, sweet horn of Gideon.

“Ree, ree, ree, ree. Quack!”

My duck is safe and hungry. He chatters at me to get up. 

I leave the hunter and his arrows behind to follow this simple, ingenious, waddling creature. I watch as he steps into the water and floats. Can you do that?

He glides along the surface, his body the motor, rudder, and hull. He scoops up the bread crumbs I toss. He inverts and dives. He shakes off droplets, tucks his head, and rests. He flaps his wings and flies.

Surely He will save you
from the fowler’s snare
and from the deadly pestilence.
He will cover you with His feathers,
and under His wings you will find refuge;
His faithfulness will be your shield and rampart. Psalm 91:3-4 NIV

The Duck Song by Bryant Oden.

How will you save duck this holiday season?

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Filed under humor, life, women's studies

The Gift of 40

as seen at Missouri Botanical Garden

Today is my last day to be 40.

I have a friend who’s just two weeks younger than I am. Much smarter though.

She argues 40 shouldn’t be different from any other year. Every year we ought to live with no holds barred.

Maybe I’m a late bloomer, but 40 was different for me. It all started around 38 when I began using the two-letter word NO.

No, I will not do what you want me to do if it’s not right for me. No, I will not let you walk all over me. No, I will not play silly, little reindeer games. No, you are not the queen of the universe.

At 38, NO squeaked out as an anxiety-filled whisper. By 39, I could say it out loud with less hesitation, but the timing was all wrong. Now at 40, I can say it plainly, thoughtfully, and without much hand wringing.

The timing is better too. I’ve said NO this year to several people and things that weren’t right for me before I tried to find a way to accommodate them.

more gifts from the Garden, love that place

A polite, well-placed NO is liberating and gets easier with practice. It frees up time for YES.

Yes, I would like to try a blog. Yes, I will make mistakes, but that’s okay because I’m learning. Yes, I will have fun doing it. Yes, I will write with no holds barred.

Several years back, there was this commercial. I’ve combed the web and cannot find the actual spot. You web crawler people, let me know if you find it so I can post a link.

In the ad, a stodgy professor tells a writing class that none of them will likely ever be published. Editors sift through thousands of manuscripts. The best they could expect was a writing career at the top of the slush pile rather than the bottom.

Then, from within the masses of the lecture hall, a student’s hand pops up. Much to his professor’s chagrin and his fellow students’ triumph, he announces he’s already been published. Online.

and one more

That far-fetched dream is coming to fruition in my lifetime and yours. Imagine the possibilities. David McRaney did.

McRaney’s blog You Are Not So Smart was recently expanded into a book by the same title. Behold the free market.

“This is an amazing and revolutionary time for writers,” said McRaney in a WordPress interview. 

“The barriers to entry are so low, and the platforms like WordPress.com are so well made, anyone with a voice can start shouting and be heard.”

A voice with which to be heard. That’s a gift. That’s a YES.

Just say yes or no. Just say what is true. from James 5:12 The Message

It’s almost my birthday. I can dance if I want to. Jejune Stars by Bright Eyes.

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Filed under life, writing & reading