Sunday, March 17, 2013

Spring and Renewal

Okay, sure, this ain't a new thing. Folks have talked about and celebrated Spring under various names for very many years now. I suppose I'm not immune to the lure of the season, whether due to conditioning or some other energetic influence. I don't really know that it matters - Spring brings me joy, end of story.

There are some "stories", though, that are worth deeper investigation. Nearly every spiritual text I've ever encountered in some way makes note of the falsities or at least the narrowness of our individual perspectives. More and more lately I've been trying to see some of my "perspectives" from the outside. Why, I ask myself, do I accept some things as truth and believe other things are not truth when other people believe otherwise? Why, for example, do I watch televised church sermons? Heh - I should stop there... I don't know why I get sucked in sometimes, but I do. I think it's a bit horrifying to me, truth be told, because I don't believe what they are preaching. But that's my real question: Why don't I believe it?

I wasn't really brought up in a religion of any sort. My upbringing was influenced by Catholicism and Seventh Day Adventism but I attended no churches as a child save a couple uncomfortable trips with friends and some pretty fun weddings. My father took me to the woods a lot and I was conscious of the belief that I considered Nature my "church" from at least as early as third grade (about 8 years old). Churches, for the most part, have felt like oppressive, stilted, menacing places.

Until I found Frost Chapel on Berry College's Mountain campus... It was the first church of any sort I'd ever entered that felt alive, vital, living and compassionate. Yet... I've never attended a service there. You can just feel the power in the old stones, the love extant in and radiating from the smooth old wooden pews.

So churches still aren't my favorite place to be, particularly the so-called Mega Churches - all glitz-and-glam and untouchable. But I heard a piece on NPR about architect Toyo Ito whose designs are about the people who inhabit his buildings and, as I understand it, that's what the "church" is supposed to be - the sum total of the gifts of its members, not the building in which the services happen to take place. I'm sure my perspective is limited, but I just don't see many people approaching it from that viewpoint when I think it could have powerful healing effects if they did.

Oh well... My two cents in a stream-of-consciousness flow seems to have replaced an sort of traditional narrative flow but Imma call this "good enough" and go with it because I've been composing it for over a day.

What do you hold that seem to clash significantly with people around you?

What beliefs have you changed after you took the time to examine them? Which ones have you consciously kept?

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Intention



I keep *intending* to write new posts here and at Persnickety Eater. Intention. It's a slippery thing - it can get you everywhere and nowhere. The thought sauntered through my head that a mechanism that would allow me to compose a post right in my head would be hella-useful. It was wiggling its bum provocatively and I almost fell for its lure.

Then I came to my senses... There's a reason why we need the buffer of composition and editing between our minds and the electronic page: my thoughts are far too many and too chaotic to allow out for mass consumption! Presumably, everyone else's are too, hence our mouths as (often unreliable) buffers between thought and expression.

Still... What fun might it be to read a transcript of someone's thoughts for, say, 2 minutes? Would it be just enough to get a sense of their general structure? Or would you just be lost utterly?

So, as far as intentions will carry me... I intend to create a Beautiful Blogger Babes post before long (read: when I can compose on a computer rather than my iPhone, bless the useful lil' bugger). It's just a little thought of creating a tiny little electronic networking opportunity. Never know how you'll find the next person who's meant to be part of your soul-journey!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Time After Time

The cyclical nature of life becomes more and more apparent the more trips around the sun I am blessed to make. Ups, downs, happys and sads along with the diagonals and curves in between. When I am at the summit, it seems like I can see a great many instances of having been on top of the world, everything going more or less "right". When I'm at the lowest points, it is cramped and claustrophobic... And seemingly without beginning or end, just a perpetual state of "s[t]uck".

To me, keeping perspective means I can hold enough light aloft to shine into the darker corners of my psyche so that, while I might not be able to keep the dark places cleaned out, I at least have an understanding of what's in them. However, holding onto perspective has its challenges and I, for one, have never considered myself infallible.

From my particular vantage, at this point in time and space, I can see plenty of positive on the horizon and even around myself right this moment. Perhaps I choose to see it this way; perhaps it's the only way TO see it. But I also see a lot of misery, ennui and strife, which saddens me immeasurably, especially when it's happening to my friends and acquaintances.

One friend has been suffering from a mild traumatic brain injury (MTBI) from a car accident that happened almost a year ago. Due to complications from her injuries and the pending litigation, here is no money, even for the most basic things, and very few ways to earn any legally. No, she's not contemplating anything inappropriate, but she is having to get very creative. As anyone knows who's been there, when you slather on a side of depression, "creative" isn't the easiest row to hoe.

Another friend has a safe, comfortable home but has no formal, consistent income to meet other basic needs. She's a talented writer and craftsperson, a good mother to her children and a good partner and friend but the world weighs on her. Lifelong depression has meant she's spent more time in the aforementioned cramped spaces than soaring through the clouds. For her, every time the hammer falls, it seems like there are fewer and fewer reasons for her to stand herself up again.

In my own family, we have elderly members who are struggling for the essentials of life while still wanting to help "provide" for the family as a whole. We all pitch in but it's barely enough and no one should have to go wanting when they've spent their lives working, providing, caring and doing all they were capable of only to get to the last phase of the game to find out they're out of coins.

Other acquaintances are struggling with recent medical diagnoses like A-Fib, possible Crohn's disease, leg pain and numbness, and cancer... Learning what their new lives are going to look like while struggling to comprehend the cost it will carry (literally and emotionally). Still others are trying to navigate the wilds of child custody arrangements, particularly on the less established side of fathers as the primary custodial parent.

Of course, this does not even begin to draw on the myriad families unknown to me personally who have lost their incomes, their family members, or their dignity and are suffering in inconceivable ways.

Being in relatively good health, living in a stable, dual-income household, and finding that my world is blossoming like never before, it's not always easy to retain my own "happy" when there's so much "not happy" nearby. Nothing is ever perfect, but I'm coming to a point of comfort with that and I'm satisfied with the present moment's reality. I'm wishing more than ever that there were more I was capable of doing, of giving. The time, meals, gifts and emotional support I am able to give, I do. When I'm unable, I don't allow myself to feel guilty because that simply feeds the negative loop and allows things to remain out of balance.

It seems to me, though, that being a beacon of light when I am able is the best role for me to pursue. Yes, I'm wildly imperfect at it, but it is great fun to try. For myself, for my children and spouse, for my extended family, friends and acquaintances, for the people I've never met in person. Big dreams, big aspirations, I know. I have no need to wonder if I can fulfill my purpose - I just know that I do with each breath I take and that's enough for me.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Taken In

Writing post titles amuse me. Almost always, at least with mine, there's a double entendre that occurs to me. The first one that occured to me this evening was of the dress-alteration variety because, thanks to Adrienne at The Rich Life on a Budget, I have a lovely new red dress hanging in my closet, waiting for me to create an "occasion" (mind you, I shall).

I suppose this could also be about taking in a child or a stray animal... But it's not.

No, this post isn't about anything quite so enjoyable.

It's about this letter* I received in the mail yesterday, accompanied by a $997.70 check from a hospital's account, drawn on a Wachovia Bank in Virginia:
Melrose Markerting Inc.
465 Edgar Ave
Vancouver, BC
V5M 8K9
Phone: 1 905-598-0206

DATE: July 29, 2011
CLAIM: GR27630602

SWEEPSTAKES CLAIM NOTIFICATION

FINAL NOTICE
We have made unsuccessful attempts to contact you regarding your Consumer Rewards Program winning.

In accordance with the Consumer Rewards Program Commission Policy, your prize award money has been forwarded to our clearing / disbursement institution to release your funds to you.

Your lump sum payout is US $9,600.00(NINE THOUSAND SIX HUNDRED DOLLARS) CONGRATULATIONS!

Kindly contact Claims Agent Kelly Evans at 1-905-598-0206 as soon as you receive this notice for further instructions on how to claim your grand winning.

We have enclosed a check in the letter. Per your state regulations, you will be required to pay a tax and processing fee before your lump sum winning can be sent to you. Payment will be made directly to your tax agent. You will also need to fax you tax payment receipt to the fax number above.

Yours Sincerely,

N. Deeks
Nathan Deeks
PROMOTION MANAGER

HOURS: MONDAY TO FRIDAY FROM 9AM TO 6PM

A word of explanation. Okay, several words. First: I am almost relentlessly pragmatic. My dreams, and I do have many, are quite attainable, mostly rather practical. (Some people might say, "Boring." Doesn't bother me a bit.) Second: My days of being dazzled by get-rich-quick and MLM ventures (a.k.a. pyramid schemes) are long over. I admit to some particularly poor choices in that arena when I was in my early twenties. Third: I really don't believe in "something for nothing".

That said... I was momentarily taken in. Sure, I was skeptical, but I have given in the to occasional online or phone survey that offers entry into a sweepstakes just for participating, so there was a possibility, albeit a very slight one, that this could be legit. My husband and I Googled every part of the company name, address, people named in the letter, "Consumer Rewards Programs", etc. and found nothing at all - certainly nothing that screamed, "SCAM!"

Then I did the next logical thing that occurred to me: I picked up the phone and called the number. The woman who answered identified herself Kelly Evans. I asked her a few questions about the process, told her I didn't recall having entered any particular contest. She said she could answer my questions, that I wouldn't have to make the tax payment until I filed my 2011 taxes, but that they send the first check of approximately 10% so that there's a kind of proof that you have enough to cover the taxes when they do come due and to verify that the winners have been informed of the taxes on the winnings. (Or something along those lines... It's late and there's a 7-year-old babbling at me just now...)

So I allowed myself some uncharacteristic daydreaming. (Note: I do daydream, frequently, but usually about fiction stories I'm writing.) What could I do - what WOULD I do - with $8,600 (approximate post-tax winnings).

I would pay off the majority of my credit card debt - enough so that I could pay off the remainder by the end of the year. I would pay for my car tags (which are due in a few weeks). I would pre-pay our car insurance for the next six months. I would give my mom a little extra to help cover expenses when she comes to visit next weekend. I would take some extra with me to visit my family up north when I go in a couple weeks.

See? Practical and pragmatic and responsible. Alright, you caught me, there was one final purchase on the list: a new yoga mat from Manduka. Specifically, The Goods Package:


I'll take mine in Electric Midnight Thunder, please.


So it was with some trepidation that I took the check to the bank today. With that much thought invested in it, a part of me had already formed an attachment to the idea. I didn't have a clue about any of this before yesterday afternoon, yet by today at lunchtime, it seemed almost "mine".

Then the bad news... Apparently, it's a common fraudulent scheme. You cash the check, you make the tax payment, you never get the remainder of the "winnings". And I experienced disappointment. Mixed with a tinge of embarrassment because the girls behind the counter immediately made those, "Oh, we've seen this before, it's fake" replies to my inquiry about the check, along with the unspoken, "Really, you must've known all along that this was too good to be true."

Yeah, I guess I did. But I'd let myself hope all the same.

It's probably a good, serendipitous thing that I've been re-listening to the podcasts that Oprah did with author Eckhart Tolle a few years ago as a read-along of his book, A New Earth. There is a lot of explanation about forms and attachment to forms and emotions of pain or sadness that can arise when you lose a form to which you have formed an attachment. This check and the promise of winning this money had become my big moment of change, my turning point where I finally have all (or at least most) of my ducks in a row, and can move on to the "bigger and better" parts of my life.

Sweetheart, it ain't gonna be quite that easy. It will take time and effort and there is satisfaction to be had in that thought and those actions. I staved off the tears with some conscious breathing, allowed myself to feel taken in without pointing an angry finger at "those people who did this to me". I was grateful that I'd thought to take the letter with me to the bank so that they can follow it up and maybe catch the perpetrators. I was also grateful that I didn't blindly deposit the check, use the money then find out later that I would have to repay it. That would've been far worse than losing it before I'd really gotten it.

My credit cards will wait for me to pay them off in my own plodding time. I will come up with the car tag money from somewhere. I will pay the car insurance monthly if need be. I will cook for my mom when she visits, fill her tank up before she departs if I can. I will take whatever money I am able with me on my visit up north.

And I accept that I will get The Goods when the time is right for them to be part of my life.

*I did my best to recreate the letter faithfully, including the misspellings. I was going to scan it, but my scanner is being crabby... If it turns out that this is NOT a scheme, I will remove this post altogether so that I cannot be sued for libel or slander or defamation or whatever.

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Aye, Dream

Giving myself permission to dream big can be a real stretch. Yes, really, it's true - I'm such a pragmatist, perhaps because I'm a Virgo or perhaps because my father and his stepfather are both practical men (also Virgos) who heavily influenced my thinking. Often enough as a child, I'd make an offhand comment about something I wanted and one or the other of them would launch into a detailed explanation of what steps one might take were one to actually attempt to acquire the object of my desire. All three of us are also left-handed and creatively inclined, particularly in pursuits that require logic - for me, that means crocheting with its attendant mathematical constructs.

But back to dreaming… When my husband (and I love him for this) talks about his next big idea or the book that we're writing together, he thinks so far out of my comfort zone that I tend to just sort of tense up. With our book, it may be, "We could be the next J.K. Rowling with the next Harry Potter!" or "We could have movies made from our series, like Twilight, Percy Jackson or His Dark Materials!" Always punctuated with an exclamation. All of which makes me feel very nervous and as though I'm standing on the edge of a precipice. I don't want to disappoint him, but J.K. Rowling is probably a once in FOREVER phenomenon and sure, movies regularly get made from books, but we haven't even finished chapter one of ours so that possibility seems impossibly far out beyond the horizon.

Still, his dreams make a good counterbalance to my own. Mine that often look something more like: "Maybe I'll get a blog post written this week," or perhaps "I'd like to try to get three loads of laundry done AND put away this week."

What would I dream up if I allowed those boundaries to really dissolve? Don't know - let's find out…

I dream of travelling around Europe and elsewhere to experience different cultures firsthand, allowing my remaining preconceived notions about what's "normal" to fall away.

I dream about a writer's retreat that is a small but cozy space with a kitchen(ette) and a place to lie down for a cat nap (or a rip-roarin' snooze). Maybe a Mother-in-Law's cottage adjacent to a larger home, maybe an elegant loft in a large city, maybe just a gussied up tool shed. I've actually entertained the latter quite recently during trips to Lowe's and Home Depot - aren't they adorable? Ostensibly, they'd be heated and cooled by solar power.
Outdoor Living Today's Pentagonal Penthouse Garden Shed at Home Depot
  
Cedarshed Clubhouse (8' x 16') at Lowes

I dream about having plenty of cash on hand for whatever might arise, need or want, so that I don't have to scramble about, make do or resort to a beg/borrow/steal mentality. By this, I don't mean millions of dollars. Frankly, I don't know how I'd quantify it. A bank account that perpetually had a balance of any given whole number followed by at least three zeros would probably fulfill this criterion. Four zeros wouldn't be bad either…

I dream about contributing to my/our world in a meaningful way - making gum (more specifically, reporting on the process of making gum) certainly isn't wrong in any inherent way, but it doesn't really feel like we're doing anything of genuine worth to improve the world in any qualitative way. Quantitatively, we're manufacturing a lot of "stuff" and I might have just a wee issue with that, but we're not the sole contributors to that monster, so…

I dream about writing books that people enjoy reading and purchase as gifts for their friends and discuss over cups of tea (or coffee, if they must). I'd even be tickled to hear complaints because that still means I've triggered something in them strong enough to elicit a response.

I dream about helping people begin to peel back the layers of gauze that obscure their sight so that they can see more facets of the amazing, wonderful, beautiful, astounding, awe-inspiring world of people, animals, plants, minerals and elements around them. I am already working on my own gauze, wispy and ethereal as it is.

I want to help other Picky Eaters become Persnickety Eaters in whatever form suits them best. And write memoir cookbooks of their journeys and my own.

I do dream. I can dream big and vague and not worry whether my dreams are at all feasible or how I might accomplish them or in what timeframe and with what resources. Yes, I acknowledge that manifesting my dreams - any of them - will require specific action, but never worry. Worry serves no purpose but to delay progress toward whatever goal I might pursue.

What are your BIG dreams?

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Exposing Personal Myths

What ecstatic fun you can have examining the myriad myths of a misspent youth!

While I was in the shower this morning (because you needing the setting), I had an epiphany (because epiphanies and hot water seem to go hand in hand). Here's what I remembered: I used to think that "thin" had a weight limit and that was 110 pounds (roughly 50 kg)...

HUH?!? No wonder I had weight/body image issues! I have no idea where that number actually came from, but there it was as if from one of Moses' stone tablets.

Okay, well, that might be exactly what thin looks like for some folks (and my sincere blessings to you if you are in that category), but at 5'10" tall, that wouldn't have been "thin" for me. That would have been skeletal.

Luckily for me, I spent most of my excessively athletic high school years between 135-145. No, I didn't realize then how thin I actually was, but I have a great appreciation for that fact now. During college, I padded out a little, but still stayed between 145-160. Well within healthy norms for my height and build. I happen to have dense muscle mass (or so my chiropractor insists), so the scale weight for me of say, 140, equates to a size 5/6.

Right now, late-30's and post-babies, I'm aiming for a comfortable size 7/8, whatever that happens to look like on the scale. That's a drop of only about 3 sizes, nothing requiring surgery or hyper-restrictive dieting, but still a challenge on every face of it. I've been doing a yoga-pilates class several nights a week for about 2 months and I can tell a difference, but it doesn't seem to be quite "enough". Yes, there's that word, but I'm not applying it to myself in this case but rather my choice of physical activity.

So I joined a walking team at work. It's the first time they've done this so I don't know many of the details but I got my pedometer this morning and it's almost insanely fun to see how my regular walking adds up. Our manufacturing facility is quite large and though I don't often venture into the vast recesses, I do at least make the trek to/from my vehicle in addition to walking up and down a large flight of stairs several times each day. The pedometer measures to the thousandths of a mile so every step (or five) adds to the total.

As I've delved deeper into exposing myths (like "my ideal weight *should* be 110 lbs."), I've built healthier, more realistic concepts to take their place. Yoga, walking - maybe even running if I can beat the insane summer heat - these help me construct that framework that will sustain me through the rest of my years (which I plan to be numerous).

What personal myths have you excavated from your childhood/youth?

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Shine On

This might not be obvious from previous posts - in fact, this might run entirely contrary to previous posts, come to think of it - but I am a relatively happy person. With few breaks in continuity, I have primarily looked upon the world in general with a glass-three-quarters-full, anything-is-possible sort of attitude. It's no coincidence that the first tattoo I chose was a sunshine with a Northward-pointing compass directional above it. Sunny, happy-go-lucky, joyous, brighten-your-spirits - I identify deeply with those descriptors.

In my darkest of days (the ones that seem most often to find their outlet here), one or the other of the wonderful people whom I cherishingly (is that a word?) claim as friends nearly always manages to remind me that I am valuable, to them and to my boys and to others as well. In the throes of pain, it's not always easy to dredge up (or believe) that kind of information by myself. It's much, much easier to believe that my contribution to this world is so little as to be utterly insignificant, which invariably breeds the thought: "Then what's the point?"

There's always a point, to every life that exists then ceases to exist. How we perceive, receive, believe and allow those lives to achieve their ends provides us with the reason. When we stifle life, our own or others, we cause damage that's impossible to measure. Still, those times are ripe for learning, too, in the endless, formless, timeless way that existence simply happens.

As I continue to emerge from my current cycle, rising into the next one with just a little more grace, a little more wisdom, a little more experience, and just possibly a little less baggage, I can feel a radiance beginning to grow within. It's always been there, though it's been frightfully dim for too long. With continued nurturing, that light will once again have the chance to shine through - Future's so bright, we're all gonna need shades!

Thursday, June 09, 2011

What Is Real?

There are game changers, paradigm shifts, that leave a person grasping for threads of reality, some shard of a comfort zone, a leg on which to stand. One of those turning points happened to me seven years ago when my first child was born. My whole world changed hue: my eyes saw differently and my brain processes were permanently altered in ways to multitudinous to enumerate. That was an incredibly difficult time period for me - over two years of feeling like I was on a flaming, sinking ship rather than "over the moon" (which was how I thought I should feel about the beautiful little boy I'd been gifted with.)

Almost seven years to the day later, I've reached another long-sought-after pivotal event: I had a real conversation with my father. A genuine heart-to-heart, devoid of the amorphous tension that has plagued our interactions for too many years, wherein I got to ask some of the hard-to-ask questions I'd only recently been able to formulate coherently and to which he responded openly. There was no sense of judgment, no feelings of regret or necessity for apology; I had no attachment to or desire for any specific answer. We just talked.

I opened the conversation via email because it was comfortable to me to do so. That gave me the opportunity to carefully craft what I wanted to express, give all the background I felt was pertinent, make sure I meant everything I said and that it held both the gravity and genuine curiosity which I felt without laying any blame or pointing any fingers.

What I truly felt was needed for my healing to progress was for some gaps to be filled. What I experienced was infinitely more profound: the entire story required intense revision. I'm still working on bits and pieces of it but the basics have been modified so wholly that it's left me a little lightheaded. My husband even commented that my conversation must have gone well because I seemed much more happy than I'd been in a while. He was right on the money.

In its grittiest short form, the story I'd believed for so long that I'd simply accepted it as whole cloth, was that, as I was nearing the end of third grade, I had to go live with my grandparents because they were the only ones who could take me. There were multiple, emotionally charges layers in my mind as to why this was: I was too much of a burden on my stepmother because she had two small children of her own with another coming in a few months; my mother didn't have the financial resources to care for me; my grandparents only had one of their four children still at home so they were stable enough to take me in. All of these factors, for me, carried a sense of me being a hassle, a challenge to be dealt with, a frustration that needed to be handled because it couldn't easily be gotten rid of all together rather than a child who needed to be loved and cared for. Of course, it was never said to me in so many words - these are concepts that I applied later as I tried making sense of my memories as my mental processes matured. Not having any other evidence or input than my experience (which no doubt included things the adults in my life said to me without realizing the impact they'd have for me), I went along for the better part of three decades with an omnipresent sense of abandonment, perpetually questioning the love that should have been obvious but which was, for me, always in doubt.

What my father gave me was context. My mother had surmised much of what we discussed, but he filled in many of the varied circumstances and situations at play at that particular time in our family's history: extenuating financial challenges, intense work stresses, family in-fighting, the crossroads he was at personally in his career. The decision for me to go live with my grandparents, at its most basic, was based on everyone's desire for me to have a stable school environment. I'd already been in four schools in three states (VA, FL and MI) over the course of my first through third grade career so this factor alone had significant impact. The other obvious benefit was that my grandparents, my grandmother in particular, doted on me so it was understood that it would be a loving home for me. I admit that I was spoiled while I was there, but it certainly was a place where I felt fully loved.

What I missed was the sense of belonging - when I left my sisters and my brother-to-be, the home and parents I'd known for so many of my very early years, I never again felt like a proper part of that family. I was a guest, a visitor, more like a close cousin than a sibling/child. Strangely, however, my sisters and brother have always felt fully my siblings despite the fact that they share a mother with each other and, biologically speaking, I only share a father with them. I don't know whether that feeling is as strong for them since they were so little when I departed their daily lives, but they've never seemed like "half-siblings" to me.

My challenge now, my opportunity for growth, is to use this chance to make my personal history revisions and move forward with more confidence, more solid footing that this greater understanding of my life brings to me. It's a gift that has great potential for outward expansion; in what ways might I use this knowledge to be of service to others, helping them heal from their old wounds? Yes, mine own wounds still need careful ministration, more healing salve, more holes need filling in. And that's just fine.

I can say with certainty that this one conversation will ultimately prove integral to the next steps in my spiritual and emotional evolution - with any luck at all, I'll be able to permanently dissolve some of the angst that's nipped at my heals incessantly throughout my adult life. Exercises like this post will help me document those feelings so I can recognize them should they start stealing their way back in as well as solidifying my new story. I like it.

In what ways might you be able to examine your story and act as your own life editor?

Monday, June 06, 2011

Happy Trails

Oh... I guess you could take that title to mean something it ought not imply. Here, think of the song instead: "Happy trails, to yoooooou!" There now, that's better.

The husband and I took the boys to the park this weekend, ostensibly to ride bikes. Our elder son had just conquered the two-wheeled creature and we thought the younger might enjoy tooling around on his trike. Not so.

We'd been there not more than 15 minutes when Ian Bean (all of two-and-a-half) took off down a nearby trail. I figured I'd follow him for a few minutes then turn back but the Noodle Doodle decided two-wheeled biking was for schmucks (or something along those lines) and bailed for the trailhead, too. So, we took a walk. As a family. And really enjoyed the next couple miles of easy ups-and-downs.

May not look like much,
but it's a nice, quiet little park.

Big Boy on his Big Boy Bike

Bowling for Babies

Not at all thrilled with the state of things.

Site of the Noodle Dude's First Birthday Party Six Years Ago

A little young to be setting out on one's own...

Trailblazer 1.0

Holding Daddy's hand as we enter The Forest.

Just Cool

"Stick!"

Trailblazer 2.0

What are those things in the trees?

Nah-nah-nah-nah-nah-nah-nah-nah BAT MAN!

Like a wooded wonderland.

This dude tried to hitch a ride on my skirt.

Noodle Finding His Stride

Trees are fun, m'kay?

Because teasing your children
comes with the territory.

Tired Boy

Whoa!

"Ma, up!"

Almost made it.

The little one only needed a bit of carrying and the bigger one only made a couple, "I'm tired," comments. I think this is the basis for some lovely family outings to come - we went about two miles round trip and there are plenty more like this one in our nearby vicinity. I haven't always enjoyed living in Georgia, but experiencing it with these guys is like seeing for the very first time all over again.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Just Weight

There's this conversation that plays in my head, not a perfect loop because it changes slightly with each iteration. The tone varies from mildly disappointed (a sort of "tsk-tsk") to aggressively condemning (this end of the spectrum is rather frightening). The content has been more or less unchanged for the past twenty-odd years. Yes, it occurs to me that that represents just over half of my lifetime.

A sample, at any given moment, might sound a bit like this:

You really shouldn't eat that [ hot dog / Dairy Queen Blizzard / cheese pizza ] because you've already had plenty of food today. There's no real reason why you should be hungry at all. If you have to eat something, it should really be a vegetable, but nothing too heavy. No pasta, no bread, no cookies. Really, you're a size what? And why haven't you been to the gym? If you really wanted to, you'd make time to get to the gym, at least several times a week for at least an hour or so each time. And you should always have all the laundry done so you won't ever need to scrounge for gym clothes. You used to be really fit when you were younger, what happened? The [ shirt / bra / jeans ] you're trying to squeeze into are going to show all of your fat rolls then no one will see anything but that, not listen to anything you have to say because they'll be gawking in horror at the rotund and obese monstrosity that stands before them masquerading as human. Perhaps it'd just be better if you hid somewhere, better than exposing yourself to other people. Why did you let it get this bad? What is wrong with you that you didn't fix this before now? You've been thin before, even if you didn't always know it; surely to goodness you can do it again.
So… I'd better stop there because it's only getting uglier by the second; I've already got a lump the size of a baby whale in my throat and tears threatening to spill. Something to know about me: I would never even entertain harsh thoughts like that about any other person. Sure, there might be a couple folks out there whose actions I find utterly reprehensible and disgusting, whose demise I certainly wouldn't mourn, but I wouldn't layer two decades worth of harsh, judgmental criticism and scathing hatred on them? Just, no.

I wouldn't pile the pyre that high then never set it alight, never set it free.

What is it in my psyche that clings to this? Why can I not seem to bring forgiveness to myself for this one aspect of my self? Why does every single food choice, each morsel that I lift to my mouth, have to come under scrutiny? Why have I equated the number on the scale or the size of my clothing to my value as a human, my worthiness of approval and love? How can I release the guilt, accept myself as I am in this moment, know that I will change when I put the effort into changing, and be okay with life as a process, not an end result?

I use this blog to explore those things which most challenge or inspire me and I understand that sometimes makes for morose reading. Strangely enough, many friends have equated me with sunshine, told me I'm someone who brightens their day, which is my way of sharing with readers that I'm not always a wound-up ball of self-despising panic. Just internally. Hahahahaha.

I am getting help to work on changing these mental patterns but the written word has long been so cathartic for me. It's my best refuge from the storms in my brain, the perfect safe harbor. From here I can explore the things I can't always speak out loud lest the tears fall and lay me bare to endure more hurt.

Oh, the psychology of it all… it's just weight, not who I AM.

Monday, May 02, 2011

Castles in the Sky

A bit of overindulgence is in order following a seven-and-a-half mile trek I took last weekend. Walking is an activity I enjoy, especially when the weather is absolutely perfect like it was that day: Sunny, scattered clouds, and 70's with a light breeze. I could've trekked on and on and on...

My journey began at home, small child in a jog stroller, larger child on a Razor scooter (yes, with a helmet), stroller basket equipped with snacks, drinks, phone, camera and keys. No iPod or other distractions - the phone was there for "just in case". All of which gave me plenty of time to think. Since the conditions were so delightful, my thoughts were mostly pleasant and influenced by my surroundings.

I considered what I would really love to accomplish and thought, why not make this a walking meditation. Better yet, why don't I make a plan to put this in a form that will be easier to make manifest: the written word. Okay, consider it done. Now where to start?

Firstly, I have to give thanks for what we have: a lovely home that is large enough for our family, in a safe neighborhood that suits our family at this moment because there are a lot of children Noah's age for him to play outside with. Hubby and I are both gainfully employed by companies that are currently enjoying growth. We have vehicles in good repair, we never go hungry, and we even have enough to share a little here and there.

As for building my castles in the sky, there are a great many things I aspire to achieve, both for myself and for my family. In no particular order and intentionally written in present tense...

Our home is a modest 4-bedroom home with a finished, walk-out basement with plenty of space for overnight guests on 10+ acres of land with lots of well-spaced, mature trees interspersed with flat, grassy areas (in which to throw a football or baseball). Inside, there are large, open living areas, a well-equipped modern kitchen, and built-in bookcases in each room. The home is comfortably shaded, a nice breeze blows through when the windows are open, and there is plenty of natural lighting.

Our city of residence is of modest size with many necessities available from locally-owned businesses. We are active participants in the shaping of new business opportunities in our local area.

My dear, sweet spouse and I have plentiful sources of income that allow us freedom to choose with discrimination which projects we wish to complete and which we prefer to respectfully decline. My projects are related to writing, crafting, photography, food, public speaking, and web-based commerce.

We nourish and care for our bodies with consciously grown foods and cleansing products as well as good exercise, especially outdoor activities like hiking and gardening. We talk to our children more and work on the computer less. We know people in our community by their first names - and we know their children's and pets' names, too.


Our home has a place for everything and most everything stays in its place when not in use. Excess and clutter have given way to those things we actually utilize and/or truly treasure.

There are abundant opportunities for us to travel around North America and overseas that balance well with the time we spend at home. When we are abroad, we eat according to our preferences and stay in soul-enriching locales.

Our finances are healthy and sustain us well as we age.

In short, our life is intentional, mindful and created by us, as we choose to live it.

What sort of castles are you building in your sky?

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Gifted

Taxes are beckoning (it's a frightening, crookedy finger that Tax Man has...) but I HAD TO acknowledge a lovely gift that arrived à notre Georgia-based maison yesterday afternoon all the way from my blogger friend Jess in California who writes Zoe. No, we've never met in person. Yes, I believe we are friends by soul, in Spirit, in shared tribulations, and in the vastly different circumstances that have made us each into the people we are.

Thank you, Jess, for this:

What's in this package?
And how did the Post Lady fit it in the mailbox?

Cheesy "I'm posing for a picture" Grin

Anticipation!!!

Inhale Deeply

Eucalyptus-y Wonderfulness!!!

Aren't they lovely?

Thank you!!!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Grief Gratitude Grace

Graceful Beauty
Lately, I've been doing a lot of grieving. For the people of Christchurch, New Zealand, and Miyagi Prefecture, Japan, and their relatives around the world. For Chad. For a high school classmate who's suffering an inconceivable loss.

I'm almost embarrassed to admit that grieving for them makes me feel grateful, but isn't that almost always the way? Don't you see someone else suffering and have a moment of gladness that it isn't you even as you wish they didn't have to experience it either? Why should we pile guilt for gratitude on top of grieving?

Whether with or without sorrow, I love my life. A blogger friend's post reminded me of that this morning. Things don't have to be perfectly hunky-dory for me to have great appreciation the people in my life. Such an amazing panoply of lives have touched mine, molded mine, shaped me gently (and not-so-gently) into the person that I am. A person I'm still learning how to love and cherish, a person who is still evolving, still learning, still growing.

And I don't regret a step of the journey. Parts have seemed almost ridiculously difficult, though less so in retrospect. Once you've lived through hardship and emerged into the sunshine on the other side, it's not always easy to peer back into those darker regions and see very clearly. You're a bit blinded, you see, and that's probably how it should be.

I don't really know whether "time heals all wounds" is an accurate phrase. Time makes them easier to bear, easier to contextualize… harder to recall with clarity.

So on the other side of my tears for friends known and unknown, I find genuine gratitude, renewed energy for my endeavors, and hope for healing of the deep sorrows of the world.

Put more simply, I find love.

Three Boys I Love

Monday, April 11, 2011

Easier Said Than

Sometimes I talk a good game. Shoot the breeze, convince the locals. Parlez the lingo, as it were.

Occasionally, I even "walk the talk". Yay, me!

But there's this strict, not-so-little, very unforgiving voice inside my head that always pipes up with the, "BUT..." Always. I try to assuage this voice, reminding it that I need to be gentle with myself, that criticism - the harsh, scathing, cruel kind - has no place hereabouts.

I've made good improvements to my life, I say. But there are many left to make, it counters. I know this and I'd like to be pleased with these five good choices for just this moment, I reply. Well, just for a moment then BUT don't forget about the other hundred or so things you should also be doing, it says, shaking its head a bit ruefully.

Like I told my six-year-old when he complained about kids teasing him, I should just ignore this voice. Or reform it. Maybe I could locate some inner monologue reformers, kind of like those people who "cure" people who've been brainwashed by locking them in a hotel room and screaming at them.

On second thought...

Maybe all that voice needs is love, a little acceptance, a LOT of patience. I learn new things, experience new viewpoints, every day. Some I take in and nurture, ponder and incorporate. Some I discard wholesale. That's how it is for everyone, I suppose, on one level of awareness or another. The key seems to be how consciously you make these choices versus just allowing things to happen to you (or in your vicinity). That's my model and mantra for 2011 - To live purposely and intentionally.

So here's to promoting the energy of moving from the "said" to the "done" and enjoying the [sometimes arduous] journey along the way!

Thursday, April 07, 2011

It CAN Be Done


My Little One Playing in the Trees

I'd like to take a moment here to pat my family on the back for a job well done. We've just returned from a whirlwind 4-day road trip from our Atlanta suburb to Charleston, South Carolina, during which we logged approximately eleven highway driving hours as well as a couple hours per day visiting local attractions. Not once - repeat: NOT ONE TIME - did we eat from a fast food restaurant of any variety! It took some planning, some putting down of the foot, and a little restraint, but I'd count it among the largest measures of success (besides arriving home with the same number of fingers and toes with which we departed) of any vacation we've ever taken.

Our victory was due in large part to a new cooler that I received at work as part of a safety reward giveaway, which means it was FREE - Yippee! We had a perfectly serviceable cooler and I nearly turned this new one down except for the fact that it has wheels and a thick, large handle. I couldn't have made a better move - it seems to keep its cool (heehee) far better than the old one. We filled two 2-gallon Ziploc bags with the ice from our icemaker, threw those in the bottom then strategically placed smaller ice packs amongst the various foods.

My cooler packing list was ambitious:
Shredded carrots and zucchini
Sliced cucumbers, bell peppers, celery and red onion
Boars' Head sliced turkey and chicken
Cheddar and mozzarella cheese sticks, sliced Colby-Jack, and cream cheese
Grapes, grape tomatoes, and pineapple
Homemade hummus & tzatziki
Peanut butter & grape jam
Freshly juiced Kiwi Pear Zinger & Honest Organics beverages
French Onion dip
Hempseed shaker

Additionally, we took two reusable shopping bags, one with a zippered top, with:
Two boxes of Triscuit Thin Crisps and a box of Wheatables
Toufayan Lavash bread & regular wheat bread
Bananas, pumpkin seeds, raisins, Craisins, chocolate-covered fig bites
Fruit-filled cereal bars, protein bars, bottled protein shakes
Chips Ahoy & gummy fruit snacks (hey, I didn't say it was all healthy - And I didn't buy those)

I should mention a couple things here regarding logistics. We took my Honda Fit for this trip since gas prices are ASS-tronomical right now. This was feasible for a few reasons: Our boys are only 6 and 2, so they don't take up much space. We were going for only a few days, not weeks or months so we only had two bags of clothing for the four of us. Despite the fact that my spouse packed TWELVE library books* for the 6-year-old, all told, the toys only took up about 2 square feet of the Fit's formidable cargo area and backseat. Finally, I'm an awesome packer. Yup, I claim this title by birthright. My dad taught us all how to pack so I have my hubby help bring everything to the curb then he knows to just stand back.

There were a few inevitable fails: forgotten camera battery charger, forgotten salt and mustard, forgotten advice to ALWAYS pack a hoodie, forgotten shoes (What? Flip Flops aren't appropriate everywhere?), forgotten paper towels and plates. Some we corrected during the trip; some we managed (oh the horror) without. At least I remembered to pack a bag of yarn and grab my hook case just before we ducked out the door.

About an hour and a half out of town, I spotted signage on I-20 East for the AH Stephens state historical park in Crawfordville, Taliaferro County, Georgia, and convinced my husband to make a detour. According to Wikipedia, Taliaferro (pronounced "Tolliver") is the least populous county east of the Mississippi River, a distinction that seemed borne out by the ghost town nature of the Crawfordville city center. Still, the park's pavilion was a lovely little spot in which to enjoy a picnic and some much-needed playtime for the boys. The 2-year-old kept pointing to the slide while we ate, saying, "Whee? Whee? Whee?" ('Cause that's the sound you make going down a slide, right?)

Now, I know there's one thing (at least) on my list that likely caused a raised eyebrow: lavash bread. It's a Middle-Eastern flatbread that I've come to adore because it's flatter and more pliable than pita bread - though not as thin as a flour tortilla, you could still use it to make rolled sandwich wraps. I usually fold each piece and tear it into halves or quarters. Squishy stuff has a tendency to ooze out the ends, though no worse than any other wrapper-style bread, which makes it a fine bread to use for deli meat and cheese sandwiches for children. Plus, it doesn't fill you up as much as traditional bread. My creation during our park picnic had hummus, tzatziki, zucchini, carrots, cukes and red onions on it so I had a bit of a mess to clean up but I was so happy with the breeze, the park and the meal that I couldn't have cared less.

*The boy did well - he got through almost four Magic Tree House books during the trip.

**Update: Dunno where "Mom" was hiding, but the boy actually read EIGHT of the MTH books and knocked out another two after we returned home - that only leaves two remaining and he still has a couple weeks until they're due back at the library. Sweet boy.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Little Pig, Little Pig

LET ME IN!

FB replies: "Not by the hair on our skinny backsides!"

I don't know why I can't get into my account. Do they have a quota on these things now? You can only login x number of times per day? I've never reached a maximum before today!

My only aim in returning there this evening was to add some more items to a photo album - They'll be sold at an auction to benefit research for finding a cure for Cystic Fibrosis. I honestly don't know much about the disease and hope I never have to find out first hand. My heart goes out to the families who've had loved ones taken by it and I hope my little contribution can put them just a bit closer.

Here's one of my humble offerings, a small backpack - any takers?

"Obnoxious Anemone"

Friday, March 25, 2011

Getting There

Arriving home from the grocery store just before 10:00 p.m. on a Friday night when I have to be at work on Saturday morning at 8:00 a.m. really just doesn't work for me. Especially when what's passed at my house prior to my departure looked something like this:

Big Brother is trying to assuage his discomfort...

So I had the wee one in tow as I perused the grand aisles of the Johns Creek Whole Foods Market. Which is usually fine - he's pretty amenable to grocery shopping. (The other one is most definitely NOT.) He did get a little hinky when I started loading him up with veggies; he tried to chew on the ginger root and he tossed my garlic cloves into a nearby bed of ice. Luckily, it was just ice and still mostly solid so the garlic was salvageable. Yay! He was amused by the plethora of carrots I amassed: purple, white AND standard orange, huzzah! And when I enrolled him in the Kids' Club, he quite happily sucked down the contents of the free juice box they offered him.

I always enter that store with a budget of about $30 in mind. (HAHAHAHAHA... Phew. THAT'S a good one!) Today I exited with a fairly standard deficit of $118. Hmm. Well, in my defense, the hulled hemp seed and chia seeds alone cost $20 (as if that argument has anything to do with anything). Does it help that those will last us for about a month or so? Maybe?

One upshot: I recently discovered Natural Foods Warehouse. They're a local, independent bunch who have some quite decent prices on natural and organic things you can buy in bulk. Think Aldi for the crunchy-granola set. If I can limit my Whole-Fooding to fresher foods, like veggies, and my packaged stuff to Natural-Fooding, maybe I can strike a balance around here somewhere. Both stores are further than my local Krogers and Publixes... Publices... Publix stores. In particular, their almond milk is only $1.88 per carton and I think the hemp milk was about $3. Not too shabby. Did some other price scouting tonight at Whole Foods and there were definitely some other staples that Natural Foods stocked for less.

So, getting there... Yes, I'm getting there. To the point. The point where I finally take these trips to the market more seriously, make them purposeful excursions instead of starry-eyed wanderings where I just throw whatever sparkly goodness catches my eye into my cart. Why? Because I still had to go through the drive-through on the way there. Yes, had to. I know that's relative - if I'd planned better or just focused a bit harder on what I was doing, I'd have been able to grab something to eat before I left the house. As it happened, I didn't. And tackling Whole Foods on an empty stomach likely would've netted me a $300 grocery bill - including a trip to one of the food bars. So perhaps that should've been my choice. But it wasn't. Chick-fil-A caught my attention as I got underway and I was a goner.

I almost started crying before I even got to the window.

Basically, I think like a natural foodie, a crunchy-granola, a tree-hugging, dirt-worshipping hippie... But I still act like an unconcious mass consumer far too often and the disconnect between what I believe and what I do is starting to really grind me down. Though I can talk a good game, I still have trouble walking the walk.


Getting There

But I'm getting there.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

You Are HERE

Really, I was over at The Persnickety Eater plotting a piece on tonight's dinner, but the Dashboard was experiencing technical difficulties. Not to be thwarted, my inner "A-ha!" reminded me of my "other" blog over here - the one not-really-intended-for-food - sitting ready for other rambling literary, erm, stuff.

Of course, Life tried to persuade me to do other things instead. "Go outside and check on your eldest son, who should be back from returning his friend's football up the street. Take your younger son along so he won't have a conniption when you walk out the door. Spend a few minutes trying to photograph them until the elder shows you a long, bloody scratch on the younger's shoulder. Clean up the little one and send him into a conniption afterall when, even with help from Daddy, you get the Band-Aid stuck in his hair. Finish getting dinner ready then feed your bowl to the youngest because you're thrilled that he's eating the veggies without complaint. Fix yourself another bowl and try to enjoy it even though it's half cold by the time you sit down to eat. Retrieve the Band-Aid, which is only barely hanging on after just ten minutes of wear."

Bound AND determined [what else?], I finally made it back here to the keyboard as the boys (including the biggest one, a.k.a. Hubby) ate their dinners in a relative state of calm. Yes, there were a few odd noises and mini guffaws, but overall an acceptable mealtime.

Now the littler one has a dark chocolate goatee and the bigger one is totally grossed out. Better intervene before there's another mess to clean up and more time is spent NOT writing!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Contemplative

Sitting at my kitchen table, enjoying a bowl of veggies lightly sauteed in extra virgin coconut oil and pasture butter on a bed of quinoa and French lentils, plotting my return to the blogosphere...

Yeah, I might just be ready this time.

But what, exactly, do I need to ready myself for? (Besides people telling me not to end sentences in prepositions.)

I know what I fear and, honsetly, it's pretty ridiculous. What I fear - or at least the best I can distill it down to - is fame. Hmm. That's not quite it. More like notoriety. But not just that. It's the expectation of those things. The expectation that they would/could happen in the first place. The concern that people might expect things of me of which I might not be capable. The terror that people might be unsupportive, rude or downright mean about whatever I put out there - my writing, my recipes, my crocheted projects or other assorted arts & crafts that I happen to feel like creating.

Did I mention that my dinner is DELICIOUS? And that my fears are either wholly unwarranted or entirely overcome-able? Hmm. No? Well, it's all true.

So blogarrific I shall feel should anyone care to comment. But blogtemplative I have been, so all is well.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Artistic Endeavors

As I try each day to be "practical", to go to my "job" (the one that earns me money for things like food, shelter, clothing and medical care), I wonder what I'm missing. What am I giving up in order to have those needs met? My answer more and more has become a creative outlet. Yes, yes, I do legitimately need a home and the rest of the basic necessities. And, yes, most often, money is the most straightforward way of acquiring those things. But at what cost? What feels like too high of a price to me? In short, the way I've been approaching life is too high of a price, missing out on much of the boys' childhoods, missing out on chances to create my art in words, photography, crocheted objects d'art or whatever other medium happens to strike my fancy.

To that end, I have been endeavoring to start where I am, thanks in part to Chris Gardner, thanks in larger part to my family and friends who have always listened to my ideas, my hopes, my dreams with open hearts and who haven't faulted me for not always reaching as far as I perhaps could have.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

What Gives?

Two words: I do.

No, this is not a "look how great I am because I have donated a bazillion dollars to XYZ charity."

No, this is not a "sing my praises because I gave selflessly and you should pat me on the back."

Really, this is more of a "I'm worn slap out and I feel like I'm drained of vital fluids - might you help me figure out how to refill my tank?"

There it is. I've done so much but managed to not do just as much. When does this checkbook get balanced because I seriously have a few more critical entries to make but funds are low and I'm on the edge.

The precipice is sneaking up on me, falling away a bit at a time, forcing me no alternative than to peer over the lip. I cannot see all the way to the bottom, what with all the fog and fire-breathing dragons.

I'm going to bed now and as I settle in for a (hopefully) pleasant snooze, I'll wonder if I could have made this entry more unusual or perhaps whether I might have worked in a few other random metaphors.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Quiet Memories

I think that anyone who contemplates the intrinsic mysteriousness of life has in their metaphorical suitcase an incident or memory that is, for them, the quintessential moment of connection with something greater than "me". Maybe that memory isn't infallible, but I'd like to think that it is the use to which we put our memories that is important, not the scribe-like quality we might hope that memory could have. I don't think I can link to the post that elicited these thoughts (as it's on a friend's Facebook page) and in the interest of maintaining her privacy, I'm not going to share her name here. The core of her piece that moved me to words is a belief she holds that she is destined, as it were, for something larger than even the amazing accomplishments she's already achieved - something greater than her single self in which she will take part and thereby improve by giving that most precious and abundant resource: love.

I've worked hard on a number of occasions to give voice to a similar feeling I've had for as long as I can recall. Perhaps it's become embellished in my mind, but I consider that serendipitous - that the idea, feeling, compulsion, drive has a life of its own which keeps it growing toward manifestation. That's a good an explanation of any that Spirit / Unity / God works in our lives without our having to be consciously aware of the connective force going about its business.

When I give myself over to stillness and quiet the thoughts that race unceasingly through my overcrowded cranium, it is very easy to sense that there's a larger whole of which I am a part and which simultaneously is a sum greater than its constituent parts. When I allow that sense to fill me up, push out the extraneous bits, "defrag my hard drive", I feel peace. The same peace I had as a child, standing in a newly mown field adjacent to our school playground, gathering up the dead, dried grass to make a bird's nest. What I couldn't have known then but see clearly now is that I was learning about cycles of nature: the death of the grass gave in turn a home for the birds in which they could raise their young. Just a small part of a large cycle, but holding the nest in my hands, I could feel the remnant life of the grass, clearly see it connect with the life inside myself. I could imagine myself a cat creeping through the tall grass, stalking the bird making its nest. I could imagine myself the bird, doing birdy things, soaring through the air, and gathering worms for my cheeping babies. All of which made re-entering the school building at recess end an endeavor of re-entering my physical body, taking back on the heavier feeling of walking about in this corporeal form. I would have been about 9 or 10 years old at the time yet I can recall enough scraps to reconstruct a beautiful picture that holds meaning for me now, 25 years later.

I've never lost that ability to set myself loose. Indeed, I've endured a fair bit of good-natured ribbing for being in my "own little world". I don't mind, and I never will mind - it is when I'm in my own little world that I feel most complete and connected to all elements of creation.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Oh, Are You?

"Oh, are you blogging again?"

This question, innocently asked by a dear, dear friend, has sparked yet another round of self-inquiry. For years I've felt like I was on the cusp of something. Something incredible, something wonderful, something life-changing. Then nothing happens.

At least, nothing happened with the fanfare I apparently expected. Ten years ago I was on the cusp of entering into a relationship with the man who would become my husband. That was something special. Nearly eight years ago that man became my hubby when we made vows to one another. That was something really wonderful. Five-and-a-half years ago, my eldest son Noodle was born. THAT was life-changing (to say the least). Two-and-a-half years ago I made a career change that has opened up a whole new world of employment opportunities for me. That was incredible. Just last Christmastime, my little munchkin arrived just in time to be a late but lovely gift. That, again, was truly life-changing.

Perhaps the reason I feel like "nothing" is what's happened is because I'm considering only the one part of the whole I consider "me" that I feel to be lagging behind: my writing. It's like a forgotten room in my brain that is occasionally cracked open so something else can be chucked inside before the door is slammed shut for an undisclosed duration. Sometimes I loll in the doorway, surveying the morsels and nuggets and hidden gems within. I smile sadly in their direction and close the door again.

What am I hiding in there? What am I hiding in my brain? Why am I hiding at all? What, in heavens name, could possibly cause me to be so afraid? I'm hiding behind very tangible walls: 50 lbs. of bodily "padding", pony-tailed hair, unremarkable eyeglasses, Mommy jeans. I am proud of my mind, humbled by both its capacity and its foibles. Why hide so deep inside this carefully maintained fortress?

I confess: I do not know the answers to my own questions. Perhaps it's time I break out.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Good Heavens - Great Scott!

Even though it's been a terribly long time and I've intended to get over here more times than I care to admit, I was nearly thwarted yet again. No, it wasn't a kid this time. No, it wasn't any other responsibility. It was Google! I swear that I used to be able to go through Google to get to my Blogger account... Apparently I've lost that ability somewhere along the line.

So, there's the perfunctory opening babble out of the way. Perhaps I ought to just skip it next time (did I just hear a "YAY!!!"?). Anyone who's spent any time around me at all knows that I talk a lot. I also tell stories. I talk about ideas I have for stories I'd like to write. I talk about books and letters and articles that I'd love to share. Yet... yet... I haven't.

I have a beautiful friend who blogs every day. I have another lovely amie who blogs quite frequently. They don't let the excuses of motherhood or responsibility stop them and I applaud them loudly (insert audio file of clapping here). Why aren't I more like them? Makes me think of that song on The Jungle Book. I wanna be like them! They write thoughtful, relevant, cogent pieces. (Have I mentioned how tickled I am to be friends with such incredible ladies?)

So, rather than beat myself over the head (yet again), I'll resolve to take another little step forward. Who knows? This time it could build on all the others just enough to give me the quantum leap forward that I'm really looking for!

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Truly, Deeply

In Love - My husband fulfills me in ways that I didn't know I needed fulfilling.

In Mommy - For the first time, I love being a Mommy, even when there's spit-up on my bare shoulder.

In Awe - Of the hardships and challenges my family and friends endure and through which they find the strength to thrive.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Grace-full

An ex-boyfriend was fond of saying that I start every story with, “I was sitting on the toilet the other day when…” He was exaggerating (though only slightly) but I have become aware of a tendency of mine to tell stories on my friends. Let that be a warning to all my once and future friends – I will likely tell your story to someone else at some point in time. Important details, like your name, may or may not enter into the picture.

Upon further self-examination, I found that my reason for retelling others’ stories falls generally into one or the other of two categories: I’m trying to understand the story better myself or I feel that the story has bearing on the listener’s situation. I am not always conscious that I have engaged in one of these retellings nor am I often concerned with placing a story into a category or context before it starts spewing forth. The stories arise of their own volition and I suddenly find myself sharing things that the stories’ owners may or may not be prepared to share. Apparently, my storytelling apparatus cares not whether it is engaged in impropriety, however, because try as I might to apply a modicum of control, stories belonging to others continue to flow from me to new ears. This has caused some strife (especially within my family) though not enough for me to completely subdue my impulses.

Lately my difficulty has been even more perplexing. I have all these stories gathered and I’m being drawn to share them with an even wider audience, in written form instead of passed along orally. Since I was quite young, I’ve always considered myself a writer whether I am actively writing or not. Now that this new passion is gripping me, I find the words difficult to wrangle into their proper place on the page. Why do I want to share these stories? Why am I having such difficulty? Am I not supposed to share? Is telling the truth just really hard? Or is it that I want to be true to the content of the experience while learning how not to always share all of the TRUTH?

I argued ardently and at length with an exasperated professor in my first Creative Writing class during my sophomore year in college over telling the TRUTH. Two of my characters shared the same first name and he said that detail made the story difficult to understand. Why didn’t I just change one of their names? My impassioned answer was, “They have to have the same name because that’s how it really happened!” I railed on for quite some (yawn) time and never did concede during the course of the class that he was right. The duplicate names made the story unnecessarily confusing and just because “it really happened that way” did not make it a good story.

After a discussion about Elizabeth Gilbert’s wonderful book Eat, Pray, Love, a friend suggested that a couple of us choose words for ourselves and for each other: one word that exemplified or encapsulated us. I chose “blue” for one friend and “capable” for another. My own word was more elusive. Finally I rested on “sunshine”. I often feel bright and cheerful. When I don’t, I can be scathing. Other sunshine-related descriptors come to mind: warmth, life-giving, bold, harsh, center of the solar system, part of a galaxy, tiny speck in the universe. (I wonder if my husband might say, “Celestial body,” ha ha.) Sunshine is a word that can express those qualities I am proudest of as well as those I recognize as areas ripe for improvement. My friend who suggested this exercise blessed me with two words for which I cannot thank her enough: “beautiful” and “grace”. I find it difficult to simply accept these gifts with an honest and whole-hearted thank you. My tendency would be to find reasons why I don’t embody those words. Instead, I would like to express my gratitude by not slipping into self deprecation. When I looked up “grace” at Dictionary.com, I found a long, multi-part definition. Two particular definitions jumped out at me:

grace –noun
1. elegance or beauty of form, manner, motion, or action.
2. the influence or spirit of God operating in humans to regenerate or strengthen them.

Obviously, the first one is amazingly flattering. The second one feels very comfortable to me, like returning home from vacation to a clean house. The “influence… of God” is something I’ve been feeling keenly during the past two years, especially in a regenerative sense. It might be worth a brief mention that my concept of “God” doesn’t equal the modern Christian definition of the same word, but it’s the word I still feel most comfortable using.

So here, then, is the point of this ramble: I would like to call on this Grace to strengthen my resolve to finally get my work “out there,” in the hands of publishers, without all the attendant fears, worries, procrastination and foot-dragging I’ve been doing these many years. It’s a prayer of sorts, that I have the right words to set down in the right order at the right time and I’m jumping in the water fully clothed, asking only that I don’t drown.