An Object Lesson from a Goose

When Mother Goose returned the clueless fish to the fish tank, half of them were instantly killed by the toxic effects of chlorine in their water. “Chlorine shock” was the term used by my bloggish friend Debra at BreatheLighter. It was an accident, of course, but stuff happens in aquarium life. As soon as Mother Goose remembered and quickly added the water conditioner, the remaining fish were saved from an untimely demise.

We all realize that under the right circumstances, chlorine is our friend. It’s the chemical that blasts all of the germs out of our drinking water, and makes our swimming pools a safer place to play. Few chemicals are as efficient at disinfecting our lives as chlorine.

However, chlorine has also been used as a weapon of warfare. During WWI, Germany first used chlorine as a chemical weapon. Canisters of chlorine gas were simply opened on the battlefield and the gas was dispersed by wind currents into the camps of the allied forces.

Poison gas used as a weapon in WWI.

It was a hideous weapon, and even today we do not lack for hideous weapons.

But getting back to my fish story, the fish who were exposed to the chlorine in their home could do nothing to protect themselves. In fact, they didn’t even know what was happening to them. The effects of the chlorine in their water were swift and deadly. They could not possibly fight back. They had no resources of their own to fight against chlorine — there was no way on earth these fish could neutralize their own water and make it habitable and safe. Helpless. At the mercy of the poison. It was a foregone conclusion that they would die. Hopeless.

Only the rapid application of the water conditioner saved the remaining fish.

Let’s look for a little life application now, shall we? (Note: if you are at all squeamish about discussing topics of a spiritual nature, this might be a good time for you to go and check your email or your facebook updates…:-) )

In our lives, in our world, we must deal with toxicity at many levels. There are pollutants and irritants in the air we breathe. We are bombarded with harmful solar radiation everyday. Depending on where you live on this Earth, you may have to fix your tainted water before it is drinkable. The food we consume can be full of pesticides and herbicides — harmful if not toxic to our bodies, to be sure.

Besides the poisons in our natural environment, we also must deal with the toxic effects of the media in our lives. The bad news and bad vibes spewed forth day and night from news sources and broadcast entertainment works as nerve gas (chlorine) on our minds — telling us that we are meaningless individuals with no purpose other than to consume and be consumed. The messages we receive from the voices around us can leak into our very souls, rendering us hopeless and helpless and pretty darn depressed.

And then there are the negatives within us. The feelings of guilt and shame that eat away at the joy in our lives, the burdens we carry as a result of our own personal sins and the toxic talk we feed ourselves everyday.

Our own individual fish tanks, our worlds, are pretty much filled with different forms of chlorine, and often we don’t even know what is hitting us, but we feel like we are sinking deeper and deeper. Unable to help ourselves.

But we try, don’t we?

There’s the old “denial” treatment. Just pretend that nothing is wrong and it will all go away.

Or just cover it all up with whatever makes us numb and happy.

Or find a religion that works for us. Talk to the “universe” or make a vow to Buddha or work really hard in our lives to be better persons and rise to the next level of play — like a video game, beat the bad guys, the monsters and bosses and level up. But there’s no winning level, is there? Just more of the same…

Even Jewel asked “Who will save your soul?”

Even Paul asked, “Who will rescue me from this body of death?”

There’s only one person who loves you enough to save you and rescue you from sin and poison and death. Only one God who has the power and the love to accomplish what we could never do on our own. Talk to Jesus about this today. He’s the simple solution, the “water conditioner” who can neutralize the poison in your heart and your life.

Trust me — Mother Goose speaks from experience here. His love has saved me. He loves you too.

Mother Goose Addicted?

In the spirit of all good Twelve Step Programs, including Alcoholics Anonymous…

“Hello. My name is Mother Goose, and I came here this afternoon to admit that I am an ice chewer.”

The first step is always to admit that you have a problem. Yes, I have that problem. Even now, as I type this sentence, I am thinking about ice, cubed and crushed. But the good news is that I am getting free of my addiction; in fact, I’ve gone nearly 48 hours without chewing, except for a small bit of Joe’s slushy yesterday which I dumped in the sink as soon as I got home.

“Mother Goose,” you ask. “How did this happen? Why did you start? What was missing in your life that you needed to turn to ice, cubed and crushed?”

I can only hang my head in shame.

Like all addictions and OCDs, it all began so very innocently. It was a warm day in Oak Park, and I needed to cool off. I walked to the refrigerator and held my cup under the ice-maker spout. The ice cubes happily chunked out and into my cup. I added some water. Mother Goose is in the stage of her life when “hot flashes” are an issue, so sucking on ice cubes and drinking ice water throughout the day seemed reasonable. In fact, it seemed practically medicinal!

When the ice cubes became soaked in water and softer, I would chew them. They crunch so well between my teeth, making a satisfying solid sensation. Within the span of a few short days, that crunch feeling combined with the cooling effects of the ice became an unusual obsession for Mother Goose.

I was sneaking ice. When nobody was looking, I’d get just a few more cubes in my cup. I would hastily steal other people’s ice from their cups when they weren’t looking. The middle of the night ice. The first thing in the morning ice. The cup of ice for the road. One for the car. One to take along on my walk. Two for the afternoon baseball games, one for the movie theater. It was becoming so overwhelming.

I walked into a bar, and honked, “Gimme a cuppa ice, and make it snappy!”

Oh poor Mother Goose…her large rubbery feet were taking her down a very slippery road. Many of her family and friends expressed concern, even alarm, as she consumed more and more of the frozen substance. Even my precious nine year old AnnaRose googled “chewing ice” to find out what she could do to help her mommy.

“Please, Mom, at least eat it crushed instead of cubed,” she pleaded with me.

I’m so embarrassed to say that Mother Goose simply shrugged her shoulders and greedily took another cube into her mouth.

And then the side effects began to bother me. The constant chill in my mouth caused 24-hour dry mouth syndrome. I bought a special mouth spray product to help with that. See how one problem can lead to many? And then my tongue became sore and inflamed — no amount of pain relief gel could ease my discomfort….or my guilt.

The syndrome of ice chewing is an OCD, an obsessive-compulsive disorder. It even has an official medical name, Pagophagia. Chomping and chomping, day and night, for weeks now Mother Goose could not bear the thought of having an addiction. I was living on ice and denial.

“Seriously,” I told myself and others. “This can’t be a real problem.” Twenty years ago, I quit smoking cigarettes. That was a real problem, and it was very difficult addiction to quit. How would I be able to kick this new habit? Is there even a “patch” for this?

Mr. Mother Goose has tried to reason that there must be a logical explanation, an underlying medical condition which lays just below the surface of his wife’s problem. He has consulted with women friends, and has been told that Mother Goose must be anemic. Surely a daily iron pill down the gullet will refresh her and cure her disorder within a month. Though I certainly do appreciate that diagnosis, I must point out that Mother Goose has been a blood donor for over a year, and my blood is checked every three months for anemia. I have never been told that I have low iron, or even borderline low iron. We must dismiss that diagnosis…

I can only confess that I am a goose with a problem. I can only take one day at a time to get over this. I would humbly ask for your prayers for strength and courage to overcome my addiction.

My family, I beg your forgiveness. I now realize how badly I have hurt you, how selfish I have been — thinking only of myself and where I’d get the next cup of ice. How could I have been so misled to think that chewing ice could solve my problems? Please forgive me and please give me another chance to prove that I’m a healthy goose with a good grip on life, that I don’t need this ice crutch anymore.

Tomorrow, we’ll look at “Coping with the symptoms of Menopause — healthy alternatives to ice chomping”. I hope you’ll return for that informative post.

In the meantime, please share with Mother Goose your own personal experiences. Are you a recovered ice chewer? Do you have other OCDs you’d like to discuss? Is there a better way to cool off? Is there hope for Mother Goose?

That’s a Blessing

So often Mother Goose goes along in her little world — taking the good with the bad, the happy with the sad, the sane with the mad, the depressing with the glad and the ridiculous along with the rad. I stay focused on the story, look for the rainbows and try to find the “happily ever after”. However, it has come to my attention that much of life is passing by without my conscious observation of blessings. I haven’t verbally addressed those blessings. I’ve kept my attitude of gratitude to myself.

What counts as a blessing? Well, of course, there’s the obvious: family and food, clothing and shelter, health and wealth, transportation and employment. Everybody counts those as blessings. Mostly everybody is thankful for these blessings. And Mother Goose is thankful for these blessings as well.

I just don’t say so. Not very often.

And then there are the “blessings in disguise”. The coincidence that ends up saving our lives. The injury or illness that gives us more compassion towards others who are suffering. The dreaded meeting that turns out to be so much fun. You know all about those incognito blessings. We are generally thankful for them also.

Do we say so? Do I say with my audible mouth “that’s a blessing”? Probably not enough.

And then there are the beatitudes in the Bible (Matthew 5:3-11). Those are the “way out there” blessings that we all want to be thankful for, but can hardly ever muster it. Jesus says that we are blessed (and we should be happy) about these things:

* Being poor in spirit
* Being in a state of mourning
* Being meek
* Hungering and thirsting for righteousness
* Being merciful to people
* Being pure in heart
* Being peacemakers
* Being persecuted for righteousness
* Being insulted and false accused

Those don’t sound like blessings, do they? Honk honk!

But here’s the deal, gentle reader. The Bible says that these things ARE blessings, and God’s word is truth. So for nearly twenty years, I have pondered this riddle of the beatitudes. I think I’ve found the answer…

Declare that these situations are blessings. With the words actually coming out of my mouth. Even if I don’t feel it. Even if I’m not feeling warm and fuzzy about the circumstances. Simply believe.

For the past two days, I have said “That’s a blessing” so many times, it’s almost ridiculous. When Mr. Mother Goose and I had a disagreement about who would drive the car, it took me almost thirty minutes to say it, but finally I thanked him for driving and told him that it was a blessing. When my children squabbled, I said “that’s a blessing” because at least they are communicating. When my two sailor sons left this morning to return to their base in South Carolina, I declared it a blessing because they are growing into fine and responsible young men. It’s only twenty degrees here in Oak Park today, but its a blessing because the sun was shining and at least it’s not below zero.

That’s a blessing.

Please read this quote from Chuck Swindoll. My dear sister-in-law, Suzanne, has this message near her kitchen sink — I think I need it near my kitchen sink, my bathroom mirror and tattooed on my feathery wing!

“The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life. Attitude, to me, is more important than facts. It is more important than the past, than education,than money, than circumstances, than failures, than successes, than what other people do. It is more important than appearence, giftedness or skill. It will make or break a company..a church..a home. The remarkable thing is we have a choice every day regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day. We cannot change our past.. we cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude..I am convinced that life is 10% of what happens to me, and 90% how I react to it.”

It’s an attitude really. It’s taking the circumstances that I’ve been given, and seeing the blessing in them. AND saying it out loud for my ears to hear. Do you know how powerful that is? You really must try it. Practice by yourself first if that feels safer. Say it softly. But the more you declare the blessings, the more of them you will see. Trust the goose on this one, dear reader. And listen to this quote also:

“Every day I manifest My grace in countless places and situations, but the media take no notice. I shower not only blessings but also outright miracles on your planet.” (from Jesus Calling by Sarah Young)

And there’s a song on the radio too — my friend, Michelle, gave me a copy of the CD for Christmas. Here’s a youtube link if you want to listen to it.

And that’s a blessing. It really is a blessing.

Important Stats for a Goose

  • 63,325 honks to date

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