Conflict, ice cream & snow for breakfast

Our Little House in the Big Woods

Our Little House in the Big Woods

Picture this.  The day before Thanksgiving.  Waking up to about eight inches of beautiful fresh white snow outside our Little House in the Big Woods.  The wood stove humming and throbbing to heat our home, relishing its breakfast of hardwood logs.

Still, we shiver.  The back-up gas heater kicked in during the night.  It’s frigid for November.  I toss more logs into the ever-hungry stove. The logs clink hard against each other, promising more heat.

Barry still slumbers so I sip tea and ponder conflict.  Oh, how I loved writing and pondering yesterday’s blog!  Oh, how it resonated and thrilled and danced in my psyche all day long yesterday while the wind blew sideways and we purchased our first organic buying club order here in L’Anse, and we traveled up to Houghton on icy roads for Barry to cover a hockey game for his job at our local weekly newspaper.

One might imagine a morning breakfast of hot steaming grains, perhaps oatmeal or wheat berries or quinoa, to jump-start such a freezing morning.  Instead I whirred together buckwheat groats and cashews in the food processor.  Added chunks of frozen bananas and, OK, maybe some vanilla yogurt just because it smiled so dreamily from its perch in the refrigerator. Healthy ice cream for breakfast!

The pulsing clamor of the food processor woke my husband.

“I thought you were grinding rocks again,” he muttered as he settled on the couch, still sleepy-eyed.

“I don’t think people understand me,” I said.

He rolled his eyes silently.  It was obviously going to be one of those mornings in the Little House in the Big Woods.

Our Little House in the Big Woods in winter

Our Little House in the Big Woods in winter

“Did you read my blog about conflict last night?” asked the eager blog-writer wife whilst munching her frozen ice cream-like breakfast.

You could tell by the way his eyes lingered on the lightly falling snow that he had not.  Even though he’s my #1 Blog Reader & Supporter, bless his husbandly heart.

“I skimmed it, ” said the husband honestly. “I don’t like thinking about conflict.”

YOU DON’T LIKE THINKING ABOUT CONFLICT?

“But, Barry!” I insisted, “Oh my goodness, you wouldn’t believe how MUCH I learned about conflict yesterday just from writing that blog!  I learned how to better handle conflict–”

“What conflict?” he asked, taking his first sip of coffee.

“You know, like conflicted thoughts.  Let’s say you have a scared thought about not wanting to drive in snow and maybe you’re going to die on the way to Houghton.  Yet the other part of you wants to go to Houghton.  That’s the kind of conflict that we humans deal with all the time.”

“It wasn’t a conflict yesterday,” Barry sighed.  “I think of conflict as negativity between two people.  You’re talking about stress. And there wasn’t much stress yesterday.”

“Conflict starts when thoughts oppose each other!  And that creates stress,” I began to passionately explain, but then thought the better of it.  His eyes had glazed over.

After 35 years of marriage, I knew how to proceed.  I smiled and changed the subject.

January, 2012.  Our Little House in the Big Woods.

January, 2012. Our Little House in the Big Woods.

It really doesn’t matter if others understand you or not.  It’s not even necessary to explain yourself.  That’s part of what I learned once again yesterday.  How to better allow all of Life to simply exist, just as it is, whether it appears to oppose or disagree or challenge or support.

I think I’ll be able to handle conflict and stress better after yesterday.  Don’t you love it when you write a blog post and stick with it until it heals an inner schism within you?  That sometimes we have the patience to stick with an inner conflicted area until it resolves?

Read an article  by Harvard art historian Jennifer Roberts early this week about immersive attention how much we can learn by staying with a painting or piece of art for lengthy periods of time.  She requested students study a particular painting for three hours.  As the hours ticked by the students learned more and more about the art. Details sometimes took hours to reveal themselves.

In our fast society, we often read a blog or study a painting in five minutes before moving on to the next titillation.  I love when I can stay with a subject like “conflict” for an entire day and learn more and more about how it presents itself, what it wants, its gifts and challenges.  To learn more nuances.  To not turn away from it too quickly because it hurts. To learn how to be present to it without repressing it, without getting caught up in inner war.  To learn how our prior viewpoint might be limited, not full and alive with subtleties.

I am so grateful for blogging and for new realizations and for folks who express their own unique truths.

Now, is the turkey thawed yet?  Even though I wished you Happy Thanksgiving yesterday, may I wish it to you again today?  You wouldn’t be conflicted about that, would you?  *grin*

About Kathy

I live in the middle of the woods in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. Next to Lake Superior's cold shores. I love to blog.
This entry was posted in November 2013 and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

22 Responses to Conflict, ice cream & snow for breakfast

  1. lisaspiral says:

    Looking forward to you sharing the insights of a day with/without conflict. 🙂 Happy Thanksgiving!

  2. I love this post for a lot of reasons–one of which is the wisdom of smiling and changing the subject. That’s not always an easy lesson to learn. Sometimes I still cling to wanting to be understood. That’s not an easy one to give up. But you’re right. Sticking with something–even conflict–helps one realize things they might not have otherwise.

    Happy Thanksgiving to you and Barry. I must admit to envying your snow–even though the weather here is perfect.

    Hugs from Ecuador,
    Kathy

  3. Kathy – I especially resonate with this wisdom of yours:

    “It really doesn’t matter if others understand you or not. It’s not even necessary to explain yourself.”

    Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours.

  4. Dena says:

    That’s how I feel about writing about hiraeth, which gives me the freedom to no longer feel conflict about the culture of place. I still love the sound of that word.

  5. “People don’t understand me” would probably be my mantra but then I am comfortable with that because I am comfortable with myself.
    Happy Thanksgiving to you and Barry and the snow, the trees, the animals, and the hungry stove.

  6. I guess I caused “conflict” today because I said I would not hit the “like” button because he/she was writing about that damn button which I hated and quit blogging to sort the wheat from the chaff. I am going to do that again because all I do is post some quotes and sometimes a little or perhaps a lot about my life. I am tired of those who have wandered over to my blog and upset my blogging balance so I am “off” again.

    My response to conflict is to “be off” . I do not need to battle the “like” button.

    Merry Christmas since the economic world skipped Thanksgiving and went straight to Christmas.

  7. Your post yesterday and today has given me a lot of ideas to ponder.

    I think Conflict/Resolution is Yin and Yang and the trick is to keep them balanced. I think we need the friction of conflict to ignite the fire of resolution and maintaining balance is an on-going process.

    Your blog this morning announcing 8 inches of snow makes me think of my 2 years in Vermont. I’m grateful for the experience, grateful to be back in CT. All we’ve had is rain.

    I’m an Artist and felt very much affirmed by your paragraph about immersive attention. I’ve copied painters who I love and since studio and home are one, I spend hours studying my own paintings as I go about my domestic life and when I’m at work. There’s much to be learned from copying others and the quieter my mind the more I understand about the other artist and me as artist. It’s a peaceful place to be.

    A peaceful and blessed Thanksgiving to you.

  8. Barb says:

    What I found so very interesting about your “conflict” blog was the number of people who so very quickly asserted themselves in defending the blogger. You obviously have a devoted fan base who ENJOY your writings, and I proudly count myself as one of them.. So, smile Kathy! You have yet another blessing to count! lol Have a wonderful, cozy Thanksgiving in your Little House in the Big Woods!

  9. I think you were wise to not pursue your conflicting ideas with your Hubby. There are some times when we really need to just let things go.

    Today, my biggest conflict is internal. One half of me is telling me to get off the computer and continue with my card-making, the other half wants to read more blog posts & FB statuses. 🙂

    Hope you and yours have a wonderful Turkey Day. 🙂

  10. shirley khodja says:

    Happy Thanksgiving, Kathy!

  11. sonali says:

    Firstly, your cute pictures seems like you live on a white glowing star of heaven! A wonder place. I agree with you Kathy, about conflicting thoughts.. and happy thanksgiving to you! 🙂

  12. Elisa says:

    I had a conflict with a wrought iron shelf-thing this morning that included middle toes and ankle. IT HURTS!! It doesn’t hurt, if I shift, but the kiddos are shouting at me about xrays and I said yeah well WHO will drive me to the xray taking location hmmm?!?! I was thinking about wanting to post more on your lost in the woods post. I am having a grocery store moment considering how one could NOT know to calm the insides and to listen to cues that the body normally takes for granted about one’s location in space. I am also considering if one isn’t aware of these things, one is missing an aspect of inner and external compass about doing the next right thing in numerous situations. I was thinking about how J gets annoyed with me during one of these grocery store moments but then sometimes ‘understands’ and politely explains to me how what I see as average and normal is not so much. These are wonderful moments for me, and then, his eyes glaze over and I have to come over here and find an appropriate social audience. It’s nice not to feel slighted over it.

    I”m taking the cruches or on my hiney back upstairs to elevate my foot. This way is making it go to sleep and to hurt!

  13. A Happy Turkey Day right back at you!

  14. Happy Thanksgivukkah! Kathy. May your day be filled with unconflicted thoughts.

  15. Joanne says:

    People may not understand you Kathy, or me, or any other person, and it really doesn’t matter, yet it only takes just one single soul to really ‘get’ what you are on about to bring complete joy to your heart. In that moment, that person is a blessing to your life. Happy Thanksgiving Kathy. 🙂 Now I’m off to read the post you wrote yesterday.

  16. Susan D says:

    You’re amazing …

  17. Heather says:

    Nice that you’ve got a better handle on conflict 🙂 In my approach to religion and politics, I learned long ago that sometimes trying to get others to understand you just isn’t worth it!
    You write a bit of a different blog than I do, so I suspect you learn more from your conversations with readers. That being said, I have learned that sharing yourself with your friends, even “just” your online ones, is important, and that blogging buddies can be a tremendous source of support. Thanks for your online friendship. Happy Thanksgiving to you and Barry!

  18. I’m sorry….I was going to read your whole post but then got stuck when at “8 inches of fresh snow”….and then just stared at your beautiful photos ♥
    Happy Thanksgiving my dear friend.

  19. Karma says:

    Conflict. Don’t like it. Try to avoid it, really don’t like thinking about it, especially if it is conflict among those I care about most, makes my tummy sick. But I really like your post, and the way you tell a story. 🙂

  20. Stacy says:

    I think I’ve just had a eureka moment, thanks to you, Kathy. My thoughts torment me with their conflict – that’s what it is!! I do understand what you were saying, even if Barry didn’t. 🙂 Maybe when I’m married 35 years, I will learn to smile and change the subject. At 27 years, I’m still a rookie at avoiding marital conflict! ❤

  21. Jennifer Roberts’ article is wonderful — just like the “slow travel” or “slow food” movement, we need to inject that element of deceleration, as she notes, into learning, whether it be art appreciation or other subjects, to really appreciate and absorb what there is to learn. Some of my favorite memories from travel were those times we just stopped and tried to fully soak in the moment and details around us — even with no cameras allowed, those minutes of standing in front of Berninin’s “Daphne and Apollo” at the Borghese in Rome are forever seared in my mind – -the delicate, masterful details of that sculpture, standing in the center of a room designed to house it. And only my husband, boys and me for a few moments, reveling in the solitude of that observation.

  22. I recently finished a book on contemplative pedagogy that described an art professor’s tactic of having students look, then look again, and again at a work to describe what they saw and to cultivate sustained attention. Smart practice, especially in this age where attention is so fragmented.

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