Category Archives: The Truth Is…

Of enormous pills and learning grace

The Fink waxes philosophic.

Thassa big pill.

Consider my daily dose of Carafate. Those nasty things are tall as a quarter, and if you break them in half, they become still-enormous pills, but they now have sharp edges (and I’ve tried the crushing them up in applesauce/juice/yogurt blah, blah, no). What to do?

Just woman up and choke it down whole. And what a lovely idiom/metaphor for what I’ve experienced over the past couple of weeks, heh. Great big old difficult pill to swallow. I’m sure you’ve been there.

Do you find it’s harder to forgive than to ask for forgiveness? I’ll bet you do, at least on some level. Why is that, I wonder. We humans do love our emotional control and deep-seated self-preservation mechanisms, and I suppose that’s part of it. Maybe another part of us — the down-deep part that rarely sees the light of day — derives some weird satisfaction from being the wounded party so we can plot our revenge.

That’s where the wheels fall off for many, I think. And they almost did for me. I got slapped by someone, and I wanted to slap back, twice as hard.

This morning, I was perusing Facebook and saw this meme. It stopped me in my tracks. Once again, I am dragged, kicking and screaming, into learning to be a better person.

Do you hate lessons like this? I do. More “fun” to be an angry victim, when what the other person needs is not your anger (they’re not ashamed of what they’ve done, so your indignation is misplaced), but instead, your grace and forgiveness — even if they neither want nor accept it. Does that mean I “lost?” Probably. But I need to be OK with that. And I will be. Tomorrow.

Have you experienced anything similar? Tell me about it. I will counsel you. That’s why you pay me.


Stuff I miss

It’s Easter Sunday, and this heathen will go to confession for a moment.

First, some history:

  • I was raised in a Baptist home. We went to church every Sunday morning, Sunday evening, and once midweek for as long as I can remember. Sick, well, rain, shine, blizzard — the Collinses were in that sanctuary. At a young age, I could recite the books of the Bible in order, and I loved it when we had Bible drills at Sunday School. I won those bad boys on a regular basis.
  • That said, our upbringing wasn’t the strictest of the Baptist flavor — not by a long shot. We were allowed to play cards and buy rock and roll records. We got Easter baskets and were permitted to go trick-or-treating. Later, we were allowed to attend school dances (just shortly after being allowed to wear pants to school — that was a big, big deal for me as a 7th grader). We were encouraged to read our Bibles at home, but not forced. Yet, we weren’t allowed to say the phrase darn it because it sounded too much like, well, that other word. We weren’t allowed to say Oh, my gosh because “gosh,” you know, could be misheard as “God.” And that would get you slapped right across the chops. Our parents were a little on the quirky side, but whose weren’t? Heck, my sons would probably say that about me today.

So, what’s this got to do with my nostalgia today? Well, in 1996, I forswore organized church, and I haven’t been back. It’s a decision that 99% of the time, I am glad I made. I won’t use this forum to go into the reasons why, but suffice it to say that removing the Sunday morning routine from my life has not distanced me from God, but rather just from the politics, drama, rules and prejudices surrounding the operation of the business called church. I believe that if I died tonight, I would go to heaven, even though I haven’t set foot in a church service more than 3-4 times in the last 19 years. Nothing anyone says will sway me from that conviction (so please don’t try), and I rejoice in it. I love God the same — even more completely and personally — now as I did in all the years I went to church. And before some well-meaning-but-kinda-passive-aggressive know-it-all comments “That’s between you and God,” I’ll say it’s between me and God, and it’s all good. :-)

Still, sometimes, like this morning, I miss parts of the church experience. Specifically, it’s the music, which should come as no surprise. Of all the hymns I’ve sung in my life (and there have been many), Easter hymns are my absolute favorite, with this one at the top of the list. I miss congregational singing. Mind you, not the pop-ish kind, with the ubiquitous “praise band” and worship leader up front, and lyrics on the screen and no music to follow, so if you don’t know the tune you’re basically standing there just listening and not participating, and by the time you actually get the melody by the 15th time through the chorus, the song’s over, but real hymns in the traditional style, with a powerful pipe organ accompaniment; a huge sound, filling the space, sung SATB.

Sounds kind of funny, coming from someone who was there at the very beginning of the praise band movement back in the 80s, pushing for its inclusion into modern worship. Heh. That’s the way of it, I guess. Time can change folks.

Yet I won’t return to the church building, because of the stigma attached to “Easter and Christmas Christians.” I shouldn’t care, but I do, and there you go. Some old habits die hard.

So that is what I miss.

Happy Easter and Blessed Passover to all — enjoy this beautiful day!


  1. A body on vacation tends to want to stay on vacation.
  2. The depth of your feelings of dread about an upcoming thing does nothing to thwart its eventual occurrence, so there’s no use in dreading, ja? I’ve been dreading all these performances, but really, why? It’s my job to do them; it’s what I signed up for. So why the dread? Why dread of the last 40-some days of school? They’re going to happen anyway.
  3. I saw a graphic that said something like, “Strive to be kinder than what is required.” I like that.
  4. The truth is: getting overly upset with bigots and meanies just ruins *your* day.
  5. We’re thinking about switching insurance agencies for our auto/home policies. I think I need a site like this to get me through phone conversations with agents. Oy.
  6. Procrastination — for all the jokes we make about it — really is a terrible thing.

Any truths to share this day? I know, I’m stalling. Get going. It’s 5:55 already.

The shower, the road, the you know the drill…have a good one, fiends. :-)


OK, True Confessions time. And this one’s going to be unpopular.

I think Christmas cards are mostly a waste of time, postage, paper, energy and space. Now before you put me in the stocks and chop off my hands, or call me a Scrooge, or remove me from your Christmas card list, hear me out.

I’ve read a dozen different takes on this issue, from “It’s a very nice gesture,” to “It’s an irresponsible waste of resources.” I’m somewhere in the middle. I like getting Christmas cards that have a personalized message that took more effort than just signing a name (Mavis is famous for the warmhearted written sentiment that hits the spot). Sometimes I receive Christmas cards with pictures in them; that’s a nice thought, too.

On the few occasions I’ve sent out cards at Christmas, each one contained some kind of personalized message, because I figured anything less amounted to just my autograph on a pretty picture — and who on earth wants that? It’s not that greeting cards have no place in my life; rather, if I’m going to send them out, they’re going to have something in them, like a gift card, money, or a well-thought-out, heartfelt personalized message. Anything else, to me, is just wasteful.

What do you do with your Christmas cards after you remove them from the fireplace mantle or door frame? Do you send them to the recycling center (which involves cost, labor and resources), put them in a box forever (???), or just throw them in the garbage, bound for the landfill?

You could reuse them by cutting out the pictures and making cool things, or fashion gift tags out of them for presents. But honestly, who has time for that? Not many people I know.

Then there’s the oft-vilified “Christmas update letter” sent out by some families, apprising everyone of what’s going on in their lives. Some think it’s tacky or pretentious. I disagree. I think it’s a great idea, especially when the recipients and senders don’t often see one another. Even if it’s a photocopied letter, it still beats opening the card and reading “The Smiths,” or “Aunt Evelyn and Uncle John.” Where’s the Christmas spirit in that? If you’re going to send me a picture of the Star of Bethlehem, an angel chorus, a Currier & Ives scene or a polar bear wearing a Santa hat, write something pithy on the back of it. Give me something to read besides your signature.

Or you could go to for some personalized awesomeness. Now I could have some fun there.

Back when I had ambition and a life, I used to do a Christmas webpage for our family, dedicating a section to each member. I’d email the address to everyone on my mailing list. I got a lot of nice feedback from it, and struck up some great email conversations with people I hadn’t communicated with in a long time. But I also understand that doing a website is not everyone’s idea of reaching out during the holidays. That’s OK. My way isn’t the only way, which is why I will accept any and all Christmas cards this year with grace and humility.



Sometimes, you’re just grumpy. But I say that’s all right, because I have a theory (and because I am feeling a mite tetchy this morning meself).

It’s the yin-and-yang thing. Balance. The black with the white; the rain with the sun. Inner feng shui. But is it fair to share it with others? Do your colleagues and family need to be mandatory cast members in your grumptacular fussfest?

The Truth Is: maybe.

I think a bad mood needs to be shared occasionally with trusted friends/family. I never underestimate the necessity of commiseration. However, being humans, we struggle to avoid routinely mucking things up, and the result is often *two* crabby people. I try to put my best face forward in the classroom every day, regardless of my mood. Ninety-nine percent of the time, my students never know I’m having a meltdown or that I’m in a black mood. The other one percent…well, there’s that whole struggling to not muck things up thing.

The other angle I thought of has to do with just wanting to be mad about something. It’s the ultimate personal change of pace. I can’t say I know anyone who is constantly chirpy. I know people who fake it, but eventually the real color bleeds through.

So I say we look at it as a pressure valve, and it’s OK to hold it down once in awhile and release all the pent-up steam. Besides, it’ll make the bright side look that much better when you actually get back to normal. But of course, that presupposes you know what normal is, and that just doesn’t happen in my neighborhood…