Wandering with my eyes and heart open, searching for pieces to add to my own personal big picture.

Category: Essays Page 1 of 5

Slightly Painful Reminders: Re-Post

Sunday means Re-Post Day and this one…well…it was a little painful for me to re-read, but I’m posting it anyway. Painful memory? No, it’s just a few painful reminders that progress can be slow and that I have so much farther to go.

Opening my old blog on Sunday morning is a lot like sticking my hand in the lottery jar and seeing what numbers I pull. I’m not sure what I’ll find, and to be completely honest, sometimes I throw the number back in and choose another.

There has been progress on the self-confidence track and I’m proud of that. I’ve learned a lot and I’m happy with where I am and where I’m headed. You can teach an old dog new tricks!

What Are You Trying to Tell Me?
July 2019

I recently woke up from a dream that was so different, so excitingly new that instead of sighing peacefully and going back to sleep hoping I’d remember it in the morning, I jumped out of bed to jot down my impressions to insure its survival.

My journal was on my desk, not beside my bed, so I slipped out of bed and quietly padded to my office. I flipped on the light and sat down at my desk to write. As I opened my book and picked up my pen my phone dinged. A message at this hour? Everyone knows I’m sound asleep and I haven’t touched anything to alert the all-seeing social media of my activity.

“Are you sleeping?”

A message from an online friend.

“No! I just woke up from an amazing dream and came to write it down. And here you are!”

“About what?”

The conversation went on for half an hour. I dreamed that I was talking with an old comedienne that looked a lot like my Grandma Shirley. She told me that I was funny, hilarious in fact, and that I should try stand-up comedy, try acting. I told her I had acted in the past but was never very good at it. She begged to differ and told me she knew talent when she saw it. She took me to a party with her and there were other famous people there, actors, directors, and such. She introduced me and they all confirmed that I had something. And then I woke up. I wasn’t startled awake, I was laying there content. I felt accepted, proud, self-confident. I wanted to remember that feeling. That’s why I got up to write it down.

Telling my friend about it, he suggested that I do what my dream suggested. I’ll admit that I’ve thought about it before. When I was teenager, I took plenty of acting classes and was in several high school shows, but I was too self-conscious to do it well. Acting takes complete self-abandonment; going up there as if you are the center of the universe, with no thought to whether or not anyone will like it. Talent or not, you can’t see it unless you throw the robes off and stand there naked before the whole audience. I could not do it. I hid myself.

These days I wonder, would I be able to do it now? Am I self-confident enough to let go? There is a small community theater here. I could go down and audition. I went back to bed with these thoughts on my mind.

When I woke up in the morning, I was still thinking about it. I’d slept soundly knowing the dream was safe in my journal and the idea tucked away in my messages. I started my morning routine thinking I’d go back in a few hours and rethink it all. Nestled down in my spot on the couch, book in hand, I relaxed into my morning.

After a bit, I mentioned the dream to my husband who listened attentively, but as I told it something started to swirl around in my head. This dream wasn’t about acting. It’s about self-confidence. I got another cup of coffee and picked up my journal.

As the morning progressed, more ideas started to fall into place. I accosted my teenage sons as they stumbled sleepily into the livingroom. I had to talk more of this idea out and they just happened across my path as it was coming together. I don’t know what I’ll do when they move out and I lose my captive audience. Pity my poor husband!

I’ve always been a dreamer, not the pie in the sky, big ideas kind of dreamer, but I almost always dream when I sleep. I dream vivid and realistic dreams generally every night, especially when my anxiety is high. While most of the time my dreams are varied and colorful, there are a few that are recurring. They revolve around being left behind, trying to be understood, or being without help in a crisis. This dream was different and that’s what got me so excited.

This dream was encouraging and left me feeling supported and loved, pushed from beyond. And it wasn’t about acting at all. It only took that form because that was my experience. Like I told my sons, I know not everyone believes in spiritual dream stuff and, to be honest, I don’t either, but I do believe in subconscious work. I’ve been working on some big things the past couple of years. For the past few months, I’ve felt stuck and unsure how or if to proceed. This dream shook something loose in me.

A side note, but related, I haven’t thought much about my Aunt or Grandmother since they passed away years ago, but over the last couple of weeks they have come up several times. I reconnected with my uncle and cousin, I randomly met someone he knows, my cousin posted about his mother, and then this dream with the face of my Grandma. Those two women were a big part of my life growing up, but I lost them in my early thirties. I hadn’t thought I had lost much until now. What could they teach me now about being in my forties? Those were strong, bold beautiful women. I’m feeling a need for their confidence and support. This dream is a piece of that.

What in the world am I talking about? I’ve been rambling on for pages! Writing! I can’t say I’ve always wanted to write or that I’ve been writing since I could read. I can’t say that I have several stories, books, or poems stored up just waiting for the right publisher to come along. I can say that I have always had something to say.

I feel like I’ve had something hidden away from me for years. Like those stories you hear about a princess raised by farmers and finds out who she really is. I’ve never felt like I fit in with the women in my mother’s family and when the women in my father’s family were alive, I was too afraid of them to really embrace them. I feel like a combination of both, not quite as crazy and wild (the slightly self-destructive that I thought they were) and not as timid and reserved as my mother’s family. I need to tap into the “training” of my mother and her mom; the quiet, calm, and respectable side; AND the wild, free-ranging, self-assuredness of my dad’s sister and mother.

I wrote these words a couple of days ago and closed my notebook thinking it all seemed like it was an idea going nowhere, just like the thousand other times I’ve felt like I had something solid in my hands but when I looked directly at it, it turned to air.

Today, I’m in a RV park in Montpelier, Idaho, reading it over again and seeing something else. That’s a realization in and of itself. I’m reminded of a story somewhere when someone is blindfolded and writes in a trance, then goes back to read what is on the page and finds someone else’s words. It does make sense. There is a message there. And if the message is there for me, the odds are that someone else might need to hear it as well, so I keep writing.

Where am I going? That’s probably what you’re asking, and exactly what I’m asking myself. I think the point my subconscious is trying to make is that “fortune favors the bold.” I’ve never been one to self-promote. “I’m shy.” I tell people, but not in an introverted way. I’m not happier when I’m alone. While I do enjoy the pleasure of my own company, while I do love making time to sit quietly alone with my thoughts so better to write them down, I am not fueled by that. I crave regular interaction with people, as if fueled by the energy of our connections. But I am so self-conscious, worried about doing the wrong thing, offending someone with my words, not fitting in with others, that it sometimes stops me from doing the things I want to do. That’s something I am working to change, and my next step is this blog.

I’ve been plagued with a few thoughts since I finished the big project of writing my first story. The first of which is, now that the story is down on paper, what should I do next? It’s memoir and very personal to me. I’m terrified of promoting it and then having to defend it. As I’m writing these words something just dawned on me. Maybe that story shouldn’t be the first thing I promote. I have so much more I could be writing and promoting.

I recently came across a Tim Hawkins sticker that struck me as perfect for what I really want to do here (on this blog).

“Live Life. Take Notes. Tell Strangers.”

He was talking about comedy, but I think it’s so much bigger. Maybe comedy isn’t just an entertainment, maybe it’s philosophy for the lighthearted. Which connects me to my dream again. I’ve always been someone who notices things. It’s probably one of the reasons I’ve always carried so much anxiety. I love to read. I love to watch, to experience. I love being among people, maybe not in front of, or leading, but quietly among them, soaking up their energy.

Throughout my life I’ve taken notes; journals and notebooks full of my thoughts and ideas, questions, and observances. When I write I rarely know where it will go, what will be the outcome of my tapping at the screen. The connections come to me while I write the same way they come to me during a conversation, spontaneously and not always fully formed. The more I write, the more I think, the more the idea takes a stronger form.

In the past, my blog posts are written on the spot. I have an idea, or want to review a book I just read, so I sit down and tap out the first words that come to mind. I immediately look back through it and post it that same hour. I’d like to change that.

As I spend my first two-week vacation alone with my husband since we had kids, I’m spending a lot of time walking, driving, thinking, and talking. With no kids to care for, and an introverted husband that thoroughly enjoys his quiet time, I have had plenty of time to think, write, and rewrite. I have been using this time as a writing retreat and my intention is to build up a few articles, like this one and others, so that I can begin posting something more complete several days a week while I work on new observations to post later.

I’ve had a terrible time putting that into coherent words!

What will I write? Observations. I’ve struggled with that for a long time and with Tim Hawkin’s bumper sticker, it finally dawned on me. It’s perfectly acceptable to live life, take notes, and tell strangers. It is simple philosophy and something I enjoy and feel confident doing. Hopefully, someone out there will find my observations interesting or helpful!

I wrote this post in July of 2019. Here we are nearly three years later, and I’d forgotten all about it. Painful reminders can be so frustrating; to have such a vivid vision and then let if fade. But it’s not completed faded, the bones are there, the direction on the map still laid out. I’ve just gotten a little stuck at some road-side attractions.

I’m printing this one out, highlighting it, and making a better plan that includes reminders! One thing I do know better than I did then is that I am where I need to be. I’ll get there when I’m supposed to get there.

Want to read last weeks walk into the past? Check out Relaxing and Philosophy: Sunday Repost

Wild Flowers: Life Without School

Life without school is a bit different than what people traditionally think of as “homeschooling.” It’s a lot like tending a field of wild flowers.

I’m enjoying this weekly repost idea quite a lot, my dear reader. It’s like reaching back into the past, pulling an event or idea forward, and looking at it again from a new perspective. It feels healthy.

Today I’m bringing back a homeschool post from June, 2016…nearly six years ago. At the time, my sons were 14 and 15 years old. We had been racing dirt bikes for a couple of years and loving it, but it took a lot of my time and energy as well as theirs. I didn’t have as much time left to connect with my friends or other homeschooling parents as I used to.

I was blogging about our journey and working on a website to help share our experience with others. Ultimately, that site failed. I have my suspicions but I’m not sure why I couldn’t make it work. Flooded market? Lack of patience on my part? I still contemplate putting my thoughts together in one place, creating a way to connect personally with parents considering homeschooling on their own, but I just don’t know. Maybe it’s another part of my past I need to let go of to move forward.

My kids are 20 and 21 years old now, and still living the wild lives they’ve cultivated for themselves. Just last night, at a neighbor’s party, a friend of ours with younger kids commented in a conversation that they envy ours. “They’re adventurous. They just DO things. Who does that?” In my mind I wanted to say, “People that are treated as individual human beings with rights to their own lives from birth. Ones that aren’t enslaved.”

Experience breeds confidence, maturity, and ability. Nothing else. Guide, advise, assist, but ultimately, it’s their life. They call the shots. Unconditional love and emotional support is a…pain.

Yeah, that’s me being dramatic again, but honestly, it’s how I feel. Maybe that’s why my home education advice falls of deaf ears.

June 10, 2016

Yesterday I had coffee with a friend while my younger son was at Crossfit.

I’m totally going to keep doing that. I feel like I’m “holding court”. I posted to my Facebook homeschool group that I would be there at a certain time and day every week, so anyone was welcome to join me and yesterday, a member of our group that I hadn’t seen in months came. We’ve only met once before, but it was great to sit and talk and get to know each other.

My only regret is that I talk SO STINKIN’ MUCH! I swear I’m trying to turn it down. Work in progress, you know.

I had an epiphany while I was explaining my sons’ passion for motocross racing. The truth is that I’m not a fan of the sport. That’s not quite right either. I’m not a fan of THEM doing it. If I had my way, they’d be musicians and rocket scientists! But that’s what my big thought was about.

A lot of people think they can find a way to educate and raise their kids that will make them into the people they want them to be. They want to mold and shape their kids into their version of a good person. One of the biggest problems I see people have with the concept of unschooling is when they ask the question, “How do I get my kids to…?” or “How do I stop by kids from…?” while using unschooling principles. The answer is that you can’t. That’s the whole point. You aren’t there to make them into “good people” or “educated people”. You are there to support them and help them grow into the people they were born to be. That might be something entirely different than what you had planned.

Kids aren’t like a cultivated garden. You don’t plant a row of these here and a row of these there and then train them up into what you want. It’s a lot more like a wildflower patch. Yes, they will grow on their own but if you tend it a bit, water it here, throw some mulch there, and watch what comes up, you’ll have a beautiful natural place for birds and bugs to live. You’re supporting what’s already growing. That’s what unschooling is like.

I may not have made the choices my kids are making. I may be able to see the path that those choices will lead down from my perspective. But that would be through my experience, my eyes, my life, not theirs. Their experience with the same world might be totally different for them because they are different people. And who am I to tell them or hold them to what my version of the world is? I’m here to support them, maybe not with all my money and time, but at least with all my heart and mind. I may not like their choices. I may think it would be better for them to do something entirely different. And if there was a way to get them to do what I think is best, they may never find what it is they were meant to be. I don’t want to be that wall in their way.

Unfortunately, I never met another homeschool parent for a coffee like that. I have met a few others over the years, people that called me through my old website, a listing on a homeschool page, or through a social group. They were mostly wonderful talks and I felt great being able to pass on my confidence that homeschooling their kids could be done and be an amazing, life-changing adventure.

This morning, re-reading that post and then sitting with a cup of coffee and a couple cookies, I realized something and wrote it down in my journal.

“I, myself, am simply another flower in that wild garden.”

No one is cultivating me; pruning, tying off, or walling me for protection. I’m out in the field, struggling to survive, wild. Sometimes it really sucks. And then I remembered that I’m not totally wild. I have family and friends, not to mention books and readers, that send help every day. They support me with kind words of encouragement, a hug or a drink, and a chance to talk things out and laugh at myself.

Things are changing, I’m growing again, and I’m not sure what will happen next. I do know one important thing, though. I’m not alone. I hope I instilled that in my kids as they grew into the men they are now. We may be wild and free, but we aren’t alone.

Want to read more posts about our homeschool/unschool journey? Try “We’re Still Learning by Living” and “5 Ways to Make Your Homeschool Day Easier.”

Get to The Root: Lessons from a Dead Tree

You’ve heard that expression “get to the root” of things, right? Maybe I think too much, but a dead tree and a stubborn stump are still teaching me lessons four years later.

I’m still working my way through the last hundred pages of I. Asimov – A Memoir this morning but I decided to resurrect a post from my old blog again today. I’m thinking I might make that a regular Sunday thing. It’s nice (for me, anyway) to go back through those older posts and find things I thought were lost. Memories come up that I don’t remember writing about. It’s like finding treasure.

The following was posted on October 29, 2018, and I entitled it Get To The Roots. Titles, my dear reader, are complicated.

There was a big old half dead pine tree in our yard when we bought this house. It was about thirty feet tall and right across the driveway from the living room. It still had some green tips on its sad branches, and its half dead branches did provide a little shade to  the house in the summer, so I decided to try to revive it. I dug a well around the base of the tree and filled it with water every day for more than a year. It struggled and grew a few more green tips, but when we took a three-week vacation, it lacked water and all the progress was gone.

Side note: I have empathy for plants and trees. I know this is strange, but I can’t sit back and watch them die. I water them and tend them, even if I don’t want them. I adopt plants when people are going to throw them out. Not watering this tree made me sad, even though I knew it was a waste of time.

It stood there dead for a few more years. The woodpeckers loved it and I enjoyed watching them from the west window. Whole families of them were constantly chattering away, poking holes in it looking for bugs. I hung some bird houses that I had in it, but no one wants to take up residence in a dead tree with no cover. It started to look like any day it might fall on the house and cause us more problems.

When we got a new travel trailer for our road trips, we found that the driveway was too narrow at that point to pull it all the way around. We’d need to widen the driveway and that old tree was in the way. It needed to go.

My husband started by cutting it down. I was impressed that he felled it so easily for an office man, proceeding to cut the old limbs off and stack them. The smaller branches were super brittle and easy to smash up and put in the trash. The thicker branches he cut into fireplace pieces along with most of the trunk. A large piece of the trunk went to the man that came to grade our driveway. He’s a woodcarver and put it in his truck for a project he had in mind.

All that was left was the stump. Naïvely, we had asked if he could knock it over with the tractor and he emphatically said he couldn’t. He was sure it wouldn’t budge. We’d have to get it out some other way before he could finish the job.

Look up “stump removal” on the internet and you’ll find all kinds of creative ways to get rid of them. There are videos galore of people doing it, from explosives and burning, to chemicals and water.

I suggested calling a specialist, but my husband is an industrious man. He insisted on doing it himself. Early on Saturday morning, he got out all the “shovels and rakes and implements of destruction” and started to dig. He cut roots and shoveled all morning long, took a break while our teenage son took a crack at it, and went back to work on it on Sunday morning.

At one point, he hooked up our VW bus to it and tried pushing and pulling to loosen it up. I took video, of course. I was not going to miss this opportunity to go viral on the internet. But, do dice. That stump was not going to budge.

“How can a big dead tree, with all its multitude of dead and breaking limbs, have such a strong and hearty root?!” I told my friend as we stood looking at it the next morning.

We all have big dead trees like that in our lives. A failed relationship, a dependence on a substance, bad habits and bad people are something everyone has at least a little of. When we lay them out on paper or in conversation with a close friend, we can see it’s not serving us, it’s actively hurting us, holding us back. We should cut them down and get rid of them.

We start by knocking it down. We ditch that relationship and move out, get another job, or leave town. We clean up the house and sell all our extra stuff to live more frugally. We go through drug rehab or get some professional help for our mental struggles. It feels great because we’re moving towards getting better, but then we hit a wall.

Suddenly, the project or recovery seems so damn complicated. There’s so much work to do! So, we stop. We got rid of it, that should be enough. And there we are with a dead stump right where the new driveway should be. It’s still a royal pain in the ass to pull the trailer around. We need to finish the job to be well. We have more work to do.

The power tools come out, the pick, the shovels, the sweat, and the aching back. We may have to resort to dynamite as a last resort. But it will be worth it.

Once the long labor is over, life will go more smoothly. The limbs of the big dead tree in your life may be easy to break off. The trunk of it may need a power tool to get down. But the root will still be there and it’s going to be a long painful process to get it out. It will be worth it though. Get to work!

That work was done nearly five years ago now. This past weekend, I felt the fruit of it once again when my stepdad was able to pull even his 30-foot trailer around that corner and down the driveway. If we hadn’t removed it, that wouldn’t have been possible.

That’s what we do when we “do the work” and get well. We can take the tree down and leave the root, maybe re-purpose it right where it is or decorate it, incorporating it into our lives, but it’s still a burden to work around. Getting rid of it, stump, root, and all, is what we need to do to move on and grow into something greater than we were.

Another side note about memory: I could have sworn I had a picture of them attempting the epic stump-pull with the VW bus, but I can’t find it. I keep fairly organized picture files and searched well but alas…no picture.

The stump is still in yard, but out of the way. You probably recognize it if you read here often. I frequently use it to showcase the book I’m reading when I post about them.

The Pause Between Moments

Even the smallest pause between moments can serve as a way to cement an event in your mind, save it for future processing, and help transition yourself to the next.

I’m sorry to leave the world of books in my posts this week, but I’m not reading nearly as much as I usually do. The world has come into my home, and in a very nice way. Isn’t that why we read, study, and practice? To use the skills we learn in the physical world?

But I do still have thoughts I want to share, so here I am. Continuing from where I was yesterday in At A Loss for Words

A few days ago, I wrote something interesting (to me) in my journal.

“What are you afraid of? What keeps you on your toes, alert, and grasping?”

“I’m afraid that if I let go of anything, I’ll lose it.”

I was referring to the ever-constant vigil I hold over my phone and …sadly still… social media, not to mention all the projects I want to get done. If I “stop to smell the roses,” that means slow down, and slow down means I’m not being as productive as I could be.

If I don’t answer that person that texted me, will they be there later? What if they forget about me?

And then there is the world news that keeps filtering into my world. When I say to friends and family, “That’s sad, tragic, etc., but there’s nothing I can do?” I feel like a bad person, but I don’t see what I can do other than be upset about it and being upset doesn’t help anyone.

I’m struggling this week, with words, with emotions, with the world outside my home. Can you tell? Like I said, it’s happened before but this time something has changed. I don’t feel so overwhelmed. I mean, I do, but I notice it and take steps to recenter. I don’t feel like I’m drowning. I’m experiencing, reflecting, and taking notes for a time in the future I can process it all.

Earlier this week, my mom and I took some of my sons’ things down to their new apartment together. As we got in the truck to head home, I stopped to take a breath.

We’re always rushing from one thing to the next, always getting on the freeway, packing up, answering a message, calling a friend, getting lunch…on and on and on. I wanted to sit and take the moment in, but I wish I had taken a bit longer.

Maybe that’s why I’m writing it here. To move my mind back to that quiet moment and take it all in again.

That moment yesterday? I can’t get it back. Those circumstances will never occur again. My mom and I had a great conversation on the way there. Seeing my sons so excited, moving into their new place, settled for a year, so close to home this time, made my heart happy. We walked around the corner to a café and had an amazing lunch together, laughing and telling jokes, sharing stories.

It just felt so good.

I needed that moment in the truck to soak it all in and remember it. I sat there, ready to make the three-hour drive home (which turned into a four- and half-hour drive because I “made a wrong turn in Albuquerque”), wanting to make it last just a few minutes longer. I took a breath, looked around, saw the street, the buildings, the flowers and the sunlight. I remember the apartment, my older son’s extra hugs, my younger looks a little stressed, probably about school. The look on their faces when they realized they’d have time to go surfing after we left. My mom’s look of love for her grandkids. I wanted more time. I wanted to cry and scream like a kid leaving Disneyland…but I can’t. I’m a grownup.

The small pause I was able to take worked. Here I am, a few days later, going back to that moment and reliving it, relating it to what I’m reading, what I’ve learned, putting it all into context. That day is now saved to my hard drive and shared with you here.

At A Loss For Words – Repost

At a loss for words this morning. Don’t laugh. It happens, even to me. So, I thought I’d search through my old blog and see where I’ve been.

The following post was entitled “Involvement” and was posted back in January 2017. It’s one of those posts or journal entries that makes me wonder if anything ever really changes.

Sometimes I feel as if the world is running around me in madness. If I “stop to smell the roses”, if I turn my focus inward, if I live to make my family’s life more pleasant, am I neglecting the good I could be doing outside my home? Is there something else I could be offering? In my heart, I know the answer is no. But sometimes the pace and frantic call of the world around me unsettles my soul. And to them, I only want to say, “Stop. Read. Write. Reflect.”

We should take care of ourselves and the people around us. Be kind and spread that love to others. Peace will spread even though we do not actually attempt to “end evil”. To pursue that is futile.

I don’t need to be directly involved with “them”, “him”, or “others”. My influence is felt through my kindness to those nearest me and continues to spread when others do the same.

Some things change and some don’t. I know why I’m at a loss for words today, I’m feeling rushed. I’ve written a long crazy rant that I want to share with you but it needs more time. For now, I’ll leave you here with this:

This moment where we are right now will never return. We will never be here again. Take a breath, really see it, take it all in.

Log Rolling for Life

The sport of log rolling is a perfect analogy for my life. I try to stay on top as long as I can, but I inevitably fall into the water. My only solace is that I’ve gotten better at getting back up over the years. And sometimes the water is nice, so I stay down a while and enjoy that moment.

“…great adventures await you if you give yourself a little time to string moments of awareness together, breath by breath, moment to moment.” From Wherever You Go There You Are by Jon Kabat-Zinn

As you probably remember, this past November and December got away from me. I ended up in the water and I wasn’t happy about it. I thrashed and screamed, instead of finding my way back on top. My struggling didn’t fix anything, it made it harder to find my footing again. And it made the lives of the people around me more stressful.

At the end of the year, I realized what had happened (somewhat) and decided to take January at home, doing nothing, to recuperate. February started to pick up, and then as March began to get planned out on the calendar, I started feeling that panic. I was losing my balance.

Yesterday was when I started feeling it in my guts. I did start to cry a little, but I didn’t lose my temper, and I didn’t call everything off. I did take a few deep breaths and let some thoughts go, and I finished the day. But in the evening, as I started to fall asleep, I started thinking…and then couldn’t sleep.

Today, the log is still floating and the only way to stay on top of it is to keep my feet moving and stay balanced. Focus is the key and I’m working on that.

I’m going to enjoy another busy day and not think about tomorrow, or the rest of the week, or the plans for the following week. Not right now. Each time I start to feel that panic, the “I’m not going to get to rest, I can’t get it all done” feeling that tightens my chest and races my heart, I’m going to take a breath. Just like when I meditate, I’ll stop a moment and feel my breath move in, fill my chest and belly, hold it a beat, and then deflate. Quietly, without drawing attention to myself. I’ll give myself one focused moment alone, and then return.

Something I realized about myself recently is that I do have a fear of missing out. Not in the sense that I see something someone else is doing and want to experience that too, but in a personal way. If I don’t respond to that text, read that book, keep the house clean, make the food from scratch, go visit that person, I feel like I’ll lose them all forever.

It’s crazy making. And it needs to stop.

People love me, even when they don’t hear from me every day. If I don’t do the laundry today, it will get done tomorrow. If I don’t finish that project this week, I’ll get to it next week.

Or not. That’s ok too. I can’t do everything I want to do. I can’t have everyone I want in my life at all times. I don’t have the resources for it: time, energy, money, etc. If I am here right now, focused on what I AM doing, I’m not wasting time and missing out.

That’s my goal today. Be here right now, enjoying what I have in my hands, not worrying about what tomorrow may bring, or what’s going on with friends and family when I’m not available.

Valentine’s Day Thoughts

It’s Valentine’s Day so, of course I need to post something about love. Right?

A letter, a poem, what? Reflections? I’m still thinking as I type.

Valentine's Day
I found this expression on a mountain trail.

I woke up this morning feeling full of love and excitement for the day to start, not because it’s Valentine’s Day, but because I am in love with life. Cliché and silly, but exactly how I feel. There are so many people to meet, so much to feel and experience, and so little time. It’s Monday and I had a beautiful weekend. Today, my husband works in his office all morning. There’s nothing I need to do, no place to go, no one to take care of but myself.  

That doesn’t mean that I’ll sit on the couch all day. I’m far too much of a squirrel for that. I’ve already read, done my yoga and meditation practice, posted on Instagram, and read some more. I’m writing now, will probably have breakfast, then share these thoughts with you. The rest of the day will be filled with household chores, conversations and plan making with a few friends and family, and I need to get out and paint the trim on the new shed.

It’s all just as I would wish it to be, for the most part, and nothing like I thought my life would ever be. I’m happy, satisfied, not grasping at a better life, a better feeling, more of anything. It’s a high I’ve chased before and for a moment, I have it. But will I grasp it so tightly in my hands that I smother it? Once it starts to wriggle free, as it inevitably will, will I crush it trying to keep it close? I don’t think I will, not this time.

What’s different?

For the first time I can remember I know that I’m happy and I know why, and I’m aware that things will change. The seasons will change around me, the ground will shift, the sky will cloud up and get dark.

What changed?

I’m not sure. Somewhere along the way it dawned on me that we are all only here for a short time, and every single thing changes, no one escapes alive. People come in and out of our lives. Our hormones and brains change our feelings and thoughts day and day out.

And I’m starting to really love and trust myself. I’m not feeling so insecure about myself, who I am and what I like. My only regret right now is that I didn’t learn earlier that to really love others and feel the security of being loved, I had to love myself. I’ve always had a hard time accepting who I am and how I feel.

Valentine's Day
Enjoying the view from the top of the mountain.

This morning, reading a few pages of Wherever You Go There You Are by Jon Kabat-Zinn, I found this:

“The weather of our own lives is not to be ignored or denied. It is to be encountered, honored, felt, known for what it is, and held in high awareness since it can kill us. In holding it this way, we come to know a deeper silence and stillness and wisdom than we may have thought possible, right with the storms. Mountains have this to teach us, and more, if we can listen.”

The weather right now is pleasant, so I’m sowing seeds and growing the crops, taking it all in and experiencing it to the fullest, not in fear of the future but in preparation for change. I love his mountain analogy. I’m being the mountain in some ways. I’m here, doing what I do, and watching the world swirl around me. It will no matter what I do. I may as well enjoy the show.

Happy Valentine’s Day! Love on your fine selves a bit. You’re awesome and you’ve come so far!

Keeping A Journal as a Fishing Net of Ideas

Do you keep a journal? I’ve written about it before, but I’ve been keeping a journal since 1985 when I was thirteen years old. That’s probably stereotypical, right? Teenage girls have so many secrets! My journals have always been on again/off again romances. I lose interest or get busy and forget to write anything, then I’m solid as a rock again, writing every thought and idea as it comes up throughout the day.

keeping a journal
So much space for so many ideas!

This past week, I was listening to Joe Rogan’s interview with Akaash Singh while I drove and right at the end of three and a half hours of glorious conversation, I hear him start to talk about writing every day. He was asking the fellow stand-up comedian about his process, how he gathers ideas and puts them together. Akaash said he does it on the fly, on stage, throwing things out there to see what resonates with his audience. It reminded me of how my dad knows spaghetti noodles are done cooking.

Joe said he keeps a notebook and writes every day, gathering thoughts along the way. They argued back and forth about it, reasons for and against that I’ve heard many times before. But I agree with Joe, maybe we have a similar learning style.

The reason I write every day, here and in my journal, is because I’m storing up random thoughts and ideas. It’s like a net to catch everything that floats by, then when I have more time, I pick through and see if there was anything good to use hidden inside.

I’m still working on that last part, the time to read through and sort, but it’s coming along.

Yesterday while I was doing the dishes, a thought came to me and I rushed to dry my hands and write it down, catch it in my net before it floated away. It was this:

“A journal is only a record of thoughts. Thoughts don’t always mean anything, they simply occur, randomly or triggered. We record them, look back, organize, and see if any of it makes sense.”

Like in meditation practice, I don’t judge the thoughts and ideas when I write them down. They are not good or bad, they just are. They occurred, I recorded it, and I set it aside for later, much in the way I notice and let them pass by while I sit in meditation.

One of my goals this year, probably next month’s goal the way things are going, is to make time each week to read through and organize those random and triggered thoughts and ideas. If I find ones that look like they might go somewhere interesting, I’ll spend time seriously exploring and posting about them.

Like the comedian on stage throws out new material he’s been working on to see if people are picking it up, I’ll be posting those ideas here on my blog. I could never do stand-up comedy. It’s too dangerous. The feedback is instant, up-front, and personal. I think blogging is more my speed. The feedback is a bit slower, and when I get it, I’m home alone with a cup of tea to cry into when my idea isn’t received the way I had hoped.

Who knows? Maybe I’ll gather enough material for a whole book and publish. The only question is, a book about what? Only time will tell. I’ll keep reading, journaling, organizing, writing, and posting for now. And while I’m at it, I’ll watch to see where my passions intersect with the audience in the best ways.

Live Today as it is Dealt

It’s cliché, I know. Live today as it is dealt. It’s the only day we have. It seems that we keep forgetting.

You might think it’s strange, but the combination of reading Trotsky’s History of the Russian Revolution and personal events are working on my mind. I knew this would happen. Remember? Wild connections are begin made. The human mind is so good at that.

I went to sleep yesterday with many thoughts running through my mind, mostly centered around a single theme. Want to read about it? It won’t take long.

Do what you believe is best for you, in the moment you believe is right, and leave everyone else to do the same. Live YOUR life right now, not later.

So many times in my life, I’ve wondered…am I doing the right thing? Fear, and the fears of others, stopped me from doing what I had planned. Who can know what I’ve missed? But that’s ok because I am where I am now because of those decisions and this life right here is all we have. We can’t relive and try again. We might as well enjoy it, wherever we are.

Thinking that I really don’t know what the best decision is for myself most times or where it will lead, I wondered why we even try to direct other people’s lives, even the lives of people we love most?

Do we not trust them to know their own situation best? Leave them to their lives. Support them when they ask for help. Be there when they need you. But it’s their life. Don’t let your fears and insecurities alter their trajectory.

live today
These two know how to live!

In the same vein…

Live YOUR life right now. Take that vacation. Finish that project. Read that book. Call that person.

Do it. Right now.

We only have this one life, live it as it as the cards are dealt.

That doesn’t mean run out and spend all your money, throw your relationships out the window, and live dangerously. It means LIVE, right now. That lunch you’re making? Love it. That phone call you need to make or work meeting you need to go to? Be there. That child or parent that needs your attention doing that thing you aren’t that interested in? Give it to them.

There is no tomorrow. You can’t save up time for later.

What does this have to do with the Russian Revolution? Nothing specifically, but as I read, I wonder about all these people. What were they doing on their farm, at their factory, or on the warfront? As always, each person had a life they were living when this took place. Movies help us see this. Doctor Zhivago comes to mind.

There you are, studying at university, getting married, having children, while the world around you goes on. Plagues, revolutions, wars…crazy to think that nothing ever changes.

The only real difference between the past and our current times is the speed of communication. If you turn it off, put down the phone, stop checking the internet, and quit the news feeds, life slows down to a crawl. The world will go on doing what it does, even if you’re not watching, and nothing will be worse off because you weren’t.

That’s all I have for this fine Saturday morning. Yeah, feeling a little reflective today. There’s a lot going on here. Enjoy your weekend, reader. It’s the only one we have.

Meditation Riff on a Random Song Lyric

From a new habits, to radio, to song lyrics, and meditation. Let’s get metaphysical for a moment, shall we? It’ll be fun, I promise.

This posting SOMETHING everyday thing…well…it’s getting harder, especially now that I’m reading something far less quotable like Trotsky’s History of the Russian Revolution. But we’re looking down the barrel of day THIRTY, my dear reader and that feels decent, like a good habit is being formed. This morning I read for an hour and immediately picked up my laptop to make some notes.

I had no idea what I’d write about today but as I sat with my blank document, I remembered that I heard an interesting song on JACKFM on Sunday morning that I made a note of to share with…someone.

As you are probably aware, or maybe not, I’m more of a fan of podcasts than music while I’m driving, but Sunday morning, on my way to hiking with my son, I just wasn’t in the mood to listen to any of my regular shows. I really do need some new talk radio, so if you have a favorite podcast, please throw it my way.

I did something crazy and just listened to the radio; first the local country station, then JACKFM, which will get me pretty far south before I lose the signal and have to switch to an “oldies” station. By the way, when I was a kid, “oldies radio” meant The Big Bopper, Elvis, and Buddy Holly. Now I stop on a station labeled “olidies” and hear The Eagles, Boston, and Heart. Something is terribly wrong.

So, there I am, cruising down the freeway, when a song comes on that I haven’t heard. I jot down a lyric line to remember to look it up later, because I’d like to add this to my Spotify list. That action dates me. This is what used to do before we could just hit “favorite” on our music streamer.

“Y’all can see me now ’cause you don’t see with your eye
You perceive with your mind”

It’s from a song called “Clint Eastwood” by Gorillaz. Catchy song. Pretty weird. No idea what it’s supposed to be about, but that line grabbed me. It felt profound. I told my son about it while we were hiking and then we tried to “see with our eyes” alone, and not “perceive with your mind.”

It’s almost impossible.

Every time I look around me and attempt to describe something, I’m perceiving, not seeing. “That rock…” Is it a rock? I’ve named it from a previously conceived notion. “That rock is gray.” Or is it brown or black? Is my perception of gray the same as yours?

How about, “This trial is steep?” Still a perception. The people coming down the trail before us said that it was a rough climb toward the end. It didn’t seem that rough to us. We were far younger than them. Yes, that feels good to say “at my age,” and I’ll keep saying it as long as I can.

Anytime we give something a name, title, or description, we’re perceiving with our mind. We are taking our previous life experience and using language to put that something in a place. It’s natural. It’s how we communicate.

Photo by Jason Leung on Unsplash

But it can go terribly wrong if we don’t question our perception of things, especially when we’re classifying people or feelings. What feels tragic, dangerous, or otherwise troublesome to one person, isn’t necessarily the same to another. What I consider constructive criticism, you might feel is unnecessary roughness. What I see as hideous, you might think gorgeous.

I’m trying to imagine a scenario where you wouldn’t perceive with your mind. I’m thinking a moment of meditation would be a likely place. You’re sitting on a hill, in a grassy field, or your living room floor, just being. Looking out the window of the car as the world zooms by. Sitting in a camp chair staring into the flames of a firepit. Watching the waves roll in on the beach. You’re just there, a part of the ecosystem, in the moment. Not happy, not sad. Not planning. Just there, seeing with your eyes.

Sounds like a peaceful meditation. I think I’ll try to do that more often.

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