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

Category: Essays Page 1 of 3

NaNoWriMo: But It’s NOT a Novel, It’s…

My writing is already in ruins and I haven’t even begun NaNoWriMo this year. I’ve been doing everything I can not to get started. That’s kind of my MO. Make a long list of things that need to be done, or things I want to do, then procrastinate. For this exercise alone, I’ve sat here for at least twenty minutes. This is how it went.

Sauerkraut is one of my weaknesses!

While eating my delicious excuse to have tons of sauerkraut…aka hot dogs…I started to think, “You know, it’s November, NANOWRIMO is still feasible. Remember when you participated a few years ago? It was awesome.”

And it was. I had put together some of my best fiction work that month and the month after. Each morning, I’d gather up my laptop and a cup of coffee, then walk out to my trailer to sequester myself for one hour. I’m easily distracted, my husband works from home, and, at the time, my sons were still living at home. No one had their own room to hide away in and lock the door, so it’s complicated for any of us to find a place to ourselves even for an hour. There’s always someone walking through, asking a question, or popping off a bit of conversation.

Funny that only now to I understand my husband’s plight. He’s worked from home for nearly fifteen years. Our old house had a separate office room that he could shut the door and work in peace in, but this house, while it had everything else we had always wanted, didn’t come with enough rooms for that. His office here is one end of our bedroom. I walk through there several times a day, either on my way to the laundry room behind the garage, the garage itself, or to use my bathroom.

If you know me at all, you know I can’t help but talk, so when I see him, I usually stop to say hi or tell him something that seems pretty important. You know, things I NEED to tell him, like the dog did something funny, or the article that irritated me on the internet, or that I’m going to the grocery store. I never thought they were big interruptions until I started trying to write every day. The man has the patience of a saint and should be rewarded medals!

It’s hard enough for me to focus when I’m completely alone. My phone rings, or I get a text message. There’s a blog post I want to read, something I need to look up. There’s a bird out the window, a sound outside that I need to investigate. Then I think maybe I should finish the laundry first or do the dishes…oh…wait…do we have something for dinner?

Sitting down to read or write in earnest while living here among other humans presents another issue: they are here. Their mere presence distracts me. What is my son looking for in the kitchen? What is that song he is humming? Yes, I’ll be done soon and then you can play your guitar. No, didn’t make cookies last night. Why are you wearing that shirt?

Oh! Look! A squirrel!

It’s hard people. This same thought process applies to almost every aspect of my life. Going to the grocery store is not an easy “just drop in” task.

So here I am today…just now wondering where in the heck I was going with this! The trailer! Right!

Last time I tried to write for NANORWRIMO I was using the trailer for an office and it worked perfectly. It’s like a focus box; small and sparse, separated from the rest of the house. No one can walk by or through, accidentally interrupting my train of thought. I walked in, sat on the couch, set my timer for one hour and started typing. I stopped, thought, re-read, edited, all without outside influence. That is, until my cat found me. I had to let him in so he would stop meowing outside. The first time I opened that door, he walked in as if this is where he always lived, jumped up onto the table and sat in the window until I was done.

Today, as I was eating my delicious sauerkraut, (You remember the sauerkraut, don’t you?), I was reminded by the calendar that it was November 1st and that I could jump right in and create some stories this year, maybe use the same prompts for ideas!

But wait…I won’t be home a lot of this month. I have two road trips and Thanksgiving to host.

So what?! Write every day but those! Something is better than nothing. It’s like a healthy diet. You don’t eat crap every day just because you’re planning on going to Disneyland to graze like a sheep in a field that month!

Myself and I have the best conversations. Myself is a supporter of doing things. She encourages everything I have a mind to do. Me, on the other hand, tends to be a bit of a Debbie Downer. Me likes to remind me of all the things that can go wrong and how much of a fool I might look like if I tried and failed. I try not to listen to her. Luckily Myself was the loudest this morning.

I opened up my laptop and looked for that website where I go the prompts last time. I enjoy their posts…what was the name…writer something. I found it! Writers Write! Download the graphic of this month’s prompts. (Remember? I’m a procrastinator!) Save it, make it the background picture on my laptop, make it fit right so I can see it each morning and be reminded.

Hmm…open a new document. Write down the first prompt. Create a new folder, save the file. Should I put the picture in? Nah. But definitely make sure the link works. Oh wait…I’ll sign up for their reminders! Husband walks in to talk on his smoke break (the plumber is digging outside his “office” door). I’ll need coffee for this… No, Michelle, just write something.

And here I am thirty minutes later. Day one. Done.

Technically, I’m not participating in NANOWRIMO. I’m not really writing a novel, and I’m just not a joiner, so I decided to go it alone, instead. I’m committed to writing creatively for thirty minutes each day (unless I really can’t because I’m on a road trip), riffing off the November prompts I found on Writers Write. The post may or may not actually be related to the prompt. Like this post. Unless you consider this 1100 words to be the “ruins” of the original prompt. That’s pushing things though, even for me.

I’ll come back and link all the other posts I write from prompts to this one. You’ll love it. Trust me, this is going to be a fun month!

The last time I mentioned NANOWRIMO was back in December of 2019 in Pain, Cats, and New Books! My favorite post from that November’s practice was POP – A Love Story.

Want to read the next one? Check out “Try? Maybe I Just Don’t Want To.”
Earlier This Morning I Wouldn’t Have
A Little Writing Anarchy: “Bought & Paid For”

Why Are We So Quick to Social Judgment and Condemnation?

Are we all so without sin that we can sit above the rest of world in social judgment, condemning everyone else of their terrible mistakes?

I apologize for the negativity I’m throwing your way today, but there’s something I need to get off my chest. We’ve all heard the story this week about a crew member killed by accident on a movie set and it has my heart all open once again. The next few hundred words aren’t about the incident but our reactions, our lack of compassion and overactive social judgment.

On my way into the city this week, I decided not to listen to any podcasts, but to listen to some music quietly and think. Sidenote: the “Legacy of Laurel Canyon” playlist on Spotify is excellent for such mental wanderings. The last thing I scrawled out in my notebook as I drove was:

“Why are we so quick to judge and condemn everyone we see or hear about? It’s terrifying.”

It’s everywhere I look, social media posts, news media, and comments. One quick glance at anyone or any situation and we’ve summed up the person and condemned them to die a horrible death, as if the one action we know about is the one that represents everything they were, are, and will be: useless.

One of the reasons I am so hesitant about social media the past few years is because watching people, not just strangers on newsfeeds, but friends and family, do this every day makes it harder and harder for me to go out into the world, let alone share anything I’m doing online. I beginning to live in mortal fear of making a misstep and being hounded by the lynch mob of public opinion.

I hear people say, “Don’t worry so much about what others think! Just focus on yourself. If you think you’re good, that’s all that matters.” But does it these days?

Anything anyone says or does can be taken out of context and made into a nightmare on the internet. Any mistake you make can be captured and ridiculed and passed around for the social judgment and condemnation of millions.

A couple years ago, when my son and I drove our Baja VW Bug up to the mountains, there was so snow. It was slippery and, yes, probably a little dangerous. The risk seemed acceptable to us. I trust my son’s abilities, he’s level-headed and smart. The worst that could have happened was that we might have gotten stuck in the snow and need to be rescued by a tow-truck. I’ll admit it, a little risk is fun.

But I wasn’t worried about dying on the side of the road or the cost of repairs to our vehicle. All I could think about was the attacks I might receive on social media if we got into the news. “Homeschool Mom Lets Teenager Drive in Snow” The social judgment would be severe and not necessarily limited to words printed in the comments of an article.

I’m not immune to knee-jerk social judgment. The news stories that come out daily make me cringe, too. Typically, my immediate thought is, “This shouldn’t have happened!” or “What were they thinking?” But then I stop and think about that person. How would I feel if a mistake I made killed someone? How would I react to realizing that my misjudgment or ignorance, or even my own laziness or lack of attention, caused something terrible to happen?

How would you feel? Would it make you feel better to open your internet browser and find the headlines about what kind of an asshole you are; would it bring anyone back or heal any wounds? Would it fix everything to get emails, texts, and comments directed at the different ways you should pay for what you’ve done? Or would all that nastiness only create more pain and strife; extend one horrible incident into more?

Where is our compassion for others? Why do we watch the humanity around us with an eye of contempt, ready to pass judgment and string up anyone that comes across our path?

It’s as if we are all Romans at the Coliseum, watching and cheering as others are thrown to the lions. “Who’s next?” we scream into the arena. “He deserved it!” Human beings being torn apart for our amusement.

Does it make us feel better? Does it lift us up to throw words of hate at each other? And don’t we worry about when the wheel of misfortune will fall on us? Or do WE believe we are above all the stupid mistake THEY make?

What am I doing to combat this? I’m taking some advice from Arthur Brooks and extending more love and acceptance into the world, one interaction at a time. When I saw the articles about the movie set incident come into my news feed, I read them with shock at first, but didn’t respond to it. I sat there thinking about it awhile.

When it came up again through friends in the film industry and out of it, I started to respond but then pulled back. Yes, I have my two cents, but it seems that the world is rich with opinions and points of view and doesn’t need them.

I reversed things and thought about what it would be like to be the person that made the mistake. I can’t imagine it fully. It hurts too much. And because I can feel that I don’t think adding to that injury is a positive move.

I’m loving into people instead of condemning.

Leads me to think of a previous post I wrote, “Assuming Positive Intent is the Start to More Compassion” while reading “The Art of Happiness.”

A Blog Journal? More Like Free Tangled Thought Therapy!

Another journal post? Yes. I told you there would be, but it’s not in the direction I thought it would take. Instead of continuing my journey back in time, my mind went to this “book blog,” more like blog journal really. But that seems to be where it needs to go.

I’ve spent the last couple hours sitting here wondering if I should write anything at all, let alone post it. I don’t know what to say. And then, for some weird reason, I opened my WordPress reader and found “Something to Ponder About” wrote a post just for me, “Is a Blog an Online Journal?”

This line specifically spoke to me:

“Don’t try to figure out what other people want to hear from you; figure out what you have to say. It’s the one and only thing you have to offer.”Barbara Kingsolver

I have a lot to say. I’m never at a loss for words. I’m triggered to speak a thousand times a day, and when I can’t speak because no one is around to hear it, I write. I make notes in a journal to remember my thought and express it later.

Lyrics to songs, quotes from interviews, billboard slogans, and encounters with people are all noted down for future use.

So, the real trouble is not that I don’t know what to say but that I’m not sure if I should say it.

I’ve billed this space as a “book blog” of sorts, but it’s clearly more than that. Books are usually what inspire me to write, but it’s not necessarily about the book itself. I don’t do traditional book reviews. I’m thinking I need to update my home page to tell you that but I’m not sure how just yet.

The quote from Barbara Kingsolver is exactly the trouble I’m having. I’m puzzling over trying to write what a reader might want to hear. I’m following the advice of bloggers that make money and have hundreds of millions of followers. They sell something, a product or system. I don’t, I’m an artist not a business. When I attempt to follow their advice, when I look for the best way to get eyes on my page, I end up in a tangle of “shoulds” instead of sifting through my thoughts and untangling ideas into sentences and paragraphs.

My recurring thoughts go back to taking a break from posting at all, but then if I’m not posting, I’m not writing, and not writing is like not breathing. I can do it for a little while, but I have to get air somewhere.

My thoughts on the world around me are a like a hank of yarn that was snatched up by the dog and then batted around the floor by the cat while I was at the grocery store. It’s good yarn, expensive and fine. I can’t just throw it away. The only thing to do is slowly untangle it, wash it up, and roll it back into a ball for future use.

That’s what this blog is to me. When I write I’m quiet and focused on a note I took or a quote from something I’m reading. That triggered thought is running wild among the others, so I put it down on the screen and start to comb it out into a straight line. One line after another into a paragraph, and then a page.

This blog journal is that cleaned up ball of fine yarn for future use.

I’m not sure what I’ll do with it, but it’s there waiting and just the process of gathering it together and knowing where it is has made my world a better place.

The purpose of my posting here is clear to me at the moment: to keep collecting, combing out, and cleaning up my thoughts, all the while watching them to see if they ever lead in a consistent direction. The process is what I’m aiming at, not an outcome.

Come to think of it, that’s the story of my life. It’s worked well so far.

If you missed yesterday’s post, jump back to “Can Personal Journals Lead to Better Days?”

Can Personal Journals Lead to Better Days?

Personal journals are an amazing self-help tool. Over time, and with patience, we see things about ourselves that we wouldn’t otherwise notice. I’ve been journaling since 1987 and didn’t realize what a service I was doing for myself until now.

Inspired by Stuart Danker’s post, “Can Journaling Improve Your Writing? I Don’t Know, But Let’s Find Out,”  I went through a few of my old journals yesterday afternoon and made a discovery.

Nothing about me has fundamentally changed.

Let’s back up a bit.

personal journals

Yesterday morning, scrolling through my WordPress Reader, I found the post on journaling and felt a tad validated. I picked up my journal and scribbled, “I’m not alone in the world! Other people journal and look back only to find…eek!” My family jokes that someday my hand-written journals may be all that’s left of our civilization. Or worse! Some long-distant decedent discovers my box of journals only to find that insanity DOES run strong in our blood.

Oh, what a terrible thought!

Let’s get serious for a moment.

Several hours later, I find myself laying flat on the floor of my craft room, just thinking. I was feeling a tad low but accepting it as simply one of my ebbs and flows of the day. That’s when I turned my head and saw the storage box of journals I had brought in from the laundry/storage room last week.

I had brought in several boxes while cleaning out the storage room so my husband can transform it into his brewing lab. They are filled with old journals, calendars, and notes, and I want to consolidate and organize that stuff so it doesn’t get lost.

There I am, laying on the floor in my “woe is me” mood, when I spy the box and think…you know maybe it would be fun to thumb through those! Can you see this coming?

The first one I grabbed was from 2013, and the entries I saw were from one of our epic camping trips. I smiled thinking of my parenting days. The next one was a little sadder. It was the journal that my lawyer kept the year that I was arrested for armed robbery and attempted carjacking. Yeah…that’s a book that’s written and waiting for me to be brave enough to try and publish.

When the case was closed, I got the journal back and decided it would be fitting to flip it over and starting using it back to front. Those entries are a little painful to read, so much anxiety.

The last one I picked up, before I had to run off and make dinner, was from 1987. It’s my earliest journal, written in the back of my math notebook when I was fifteen years old and filled with comments about what boys I liked, which ones were calling me, and why my mom was so mean not to let go to a party.

Pretty typical, really. Sure, I was a little embarrassed reading it. Was I ever that young? But then I started thinking about it. I haven’t changed at all. Then I got sad. Have I not learned anything?

I went to sleep thinking about my own personal journals, woke up this morning, got myself a “cup of ambition,” and plopped down on the couch with my book.

Do you write personal journals, ones that are filled with your thoughts and feelings? There is so much swirling through my mind, but today is my “outing” day, so I’ll have to come back to you with the rest tomorrow. I’m sure these thoughts will settle if I sit quiet for a moment.

Is Nature Wild and Free?

My meditation app from Down Dog, which I highly recommend for yoga and HIIT as well, mentioned imagining returning to nature, “wild, free, and joyous” and I got lost in thought for a bit.

Why do we make up this story about nature? As if, all we would need to do to be happy and peaceful is to return to a primitive existence, relying on what nature provides.

nature wild and free
She’s probably not wondering if she should have dug her burrow further from the road.

Am I alone in seeing that animals don’t seem all that happy and peaceful? I mean, sure, they are ignorant of ill intent. At least, I believe they are. They kill to protect their young, feed themselves, and secure a mate and territory, but they don’t murder. They spend their days finding food, procreating, and sleeping. Sounds nice. But is it happy and peaceful? In a way, yes, because they don’t make up stories about how it should be or could be. They accept the world they find themselves in. They don’t attempt to change their world, or that of others. They just live. That’s a lesson we could surely take note of, partially.

The reality of nature is that it is dangerous, filled with the struggle to survive long enough to create the next generation.

When we accept this reality, that life (civilized or wild) is struggle and eventually death, that’s when we become free. When we can stop trying to make things into what we think they should be, and relax into enjoying what is, we can be happy no matter what circumstance we find ourselves in. That’s when we can see the joy in every moment, the miracle of existence. Then we are free.

Animals don’t have the “should” and “could” monster of imagination. They make choices, mostly out of instinct, and then live with the results of those choices. They don’t sit and lament, “If only…”

We, with our glorious brains, can do so much more. We can make choices by determining what is best at the moment, based on what others have done before us AND our own creative thoughts. And even better, we can sit and let the results be ruined by imagining what else we could have done and be envious of what other people’s choices have brought them.

When I think of being closer to nature, being wild and free, I think of aligning myself closer to reality, not living like an animal. I imagine myself using my creative energy to make the best choices for myself, not others. I imagine clearing my mind of envy and jealousy and enjoying what I have. I imagine knowing that this life will end eventually and living each day as if it were my last.

Stress: Considering Ways to Stay Sane

My Dad got me thinking yesterday about ways to stay sane in this climate of stress and anxiety. This starts negative but stay with me a moment.

My Dad, My Brother, and Me (1975ish)

There are days (more and more of them lately) that I want to cry for humanity. It’s usually the day that (for some reason unfathomable to myself) I decide to open a news channel and read a few articles. Between the inflammatory headlines, that I swear are written by a catchy headline generator, and the piss-poor journalism…ugg…I just can’t.

And then there are the social media posts and comments that lead me to believe that there are few people online that are trying to make sense of the world and create a better life for themselves. It seems we are all more interested in creating and fighting a war between factions than understand each other. We’re all flying colors instead of asking questions.

What’s wrong with us? Have we all lost our minds? Is this how civilization gets thrown back into the dark ages again? Maybe.

Then I read more history and see the bigger picture. It’s always the end of the world according to the news media. The government is always reaching for more power. And the people, in general, don’t have a firm grip on reality. The only difference between now and the past is that the information moves much quicker and the whole world can be reported on at once. And that may very well spell disaster, but no more than it ever has before.

The reality is that everything changes, everything ends. Wars start and end. Atrocities are committed. Tyranny looms up. A rebellion begins. All sides believe they are doing what needs to be done to make the world better. Have you seen Star Wars?

And among all of that, here we are, the individual, trying to live our lives as best we can.

I’ve turned off the news completely. No, I don’t know who killed who, what country might invade another, what disease is spreading now, or how much of California is burning. There is absolutely nothing I can do about those things on any given day. And it seems that knowing all that information is putting everyone around me at such a heightened sense of risk awareness that they live constantly in fight or flight mode.

I don’t have time to finish this thought today, but I’m posting this anyway to hold the thought. Today is my “calling day.” It’s my stress reliever, that day that I visit friends and catch up. Yes, in person. While I’m out, I’ll be thinking about how I’d like to move forward. How do I respond to this world? How do I live without causing more stress to those around me? How do I protect myself now and leave a better world for my children’s children at the same time?

Looking For Buyers: Telling You What You Need

Advertisers are looking for buyers, telling people that they need the product or service they’ve created. That’s not always a bad thing. But what if we kept our heads a little, and put some space between that “call to need” and the purchase?

I got these giant googly eyes at Target yesterday and now I’m considering where to put them. My son says they should go on the chimney, so it looks like the house is looking at you when you dive up. Brilliant. I was thinking I’d put them on a tree down by the driveway, or maybe staple them to the house number at the road.

Looking for buyers
Here’s lookin’ at you!

These are the things that entertain me. I’ve wanted these for a long time and when I saw them in the store, right at the front, I grabbed them and threw them in the basket. “Need!” I told my son and he agreed.

Then, as he was looking for a good jump rope for his workout (didn’t find), I started thinking maybe I need a new yoga mat. He asked, “Did you come here for new yoga mat? Or did you see those ones and start to think yours wasn’t good enough?” I don’t need a new yoga mat.

This is why I avoid stores unless I need something specific that I think they might have on hand. Walking around a retail store is the same as watching commercials. It convinces you that you need something you didn’t know existed. I was perfectly happy without it, but now that I see it, it would mean the world to me.

Googly eyes aside. THOSE were important.

Side note: Oh my…there’s an instructable to make your own! Do it!

I recently tried this out at a restaurant. A friend wanted to go out for breakfast. I’m trying to watch my calories (and failing miserably in general). I know what I want to eat, what’s good for me and what will make me feel good. But then I get there and flip through the menu. “Oohh! Cinnamon bun! Mocha! Pancakes!” I didn’t want them before I came in, but then saw the pictures and started drooling.

This time I didn’t look at the menu. I ordered the veggie omelet that I know I love, without the potatoes and biscuits that I only eat because they are there. And coffee. HAVE to have coffee. Breakfast was great. The conversation was wonderful. And we had a marvelous time together.

There is a lot in this world screaming at you for your attention, looking for buyers into products and ideas, but there is so little that is actually important. If the economy fails because I don’t eat out, go to events, and buy the latest thing, maybe we built an economy on the wrong things.

I don’t usually write about economics but when I do…
Check out my post “Buddhism, Economics, Racism, And More”

Morning Meditation – A Break

I wasn’t going to write this morning, but the day started so unexpectedly beautiful that I had to use it all as a morning meditation and share it with you. No pictures. That would have ruined the mood.

This is the one day a week that I have to be up and out the door by a certain time. It’s my “day out,” visiting with friends and shopping for household goods I can’t find in my own small town. Let me rephrase that; I CAN find them, I just don’t want to. It adds value to my life to spend time “down the hill” in the city visiting friends, and why not shop at a few nicer stores while I’m there!

I don’t usually write this day. I have little time, and something has to give. But today something was different.

I woke up to a strange feeling. Cool.

It’s the middle of August, that time of year when I have just about had my fill of excessive heat warnings, blazing hot afternoons, and swamp cooler fans running on high all night long. And then the wind started to blow yesterday afternoon and it was 77 degrees at 8pm. I opened the windows and turned off the fans smiling. Would that break actually come like the weather report suggested?

When I awoke, there was a chill. I looked at the thermometer, 57 degrees. I took a deep breath and put on my favorite sweatshirt to sit and read, sip my coffee and watch the sunrise.

I thought to myself, “Screw the morning routine. I need to relish this.” But after an hour of reading “East of the Mountains” (which I haven’t blogged about yet, sorry), my habit mind insisted that it was workout time and I heeded its call. Thirty minutes of cardio. Twenty minutes of silent meditation. A bit of breakfast: oatmeal, raisins, and walnuts. And…

Water the yard before the sun gets too hot.

Nope! Not today! No need. I sat down to spend twenty minutes in my new book “No-Nonsense Buddhism for Beginners.” I found a new mantra there. “Every day is a good day.”

My son walked in from the trailer looking for coffee. He’s back at home for a few months, but that’s another story. I put my book away and went out to water the trees while he made his breakfast.

But my morning meditation continued.

In the yard that joyous feeling swelled up inside me. The sun had been up for an hour, a cool breeze was still blowing softly, the sky was that brilliant clear desert blue, and the sun was warm and friendly on my back.

The California Thrashers were signaling their territory…loudly. The quail were scratching about and chattering in the bushes. The hummingbirds, as usual, were there to get a taste of the water I was putting on my lilac bushes. It made me want to get out in the yard, get my trail cam back out and start recording my bird visitors again.

I came back in the house to my son watching some tv show in German while he ate. That’s why his German is so good. He watches German language shows with the subtitles on in German. Long term homeschool win, again.

And my morning meditation continued.

As I’m writing this, I hear more cars on the paved road half a mile away, hammers from the beautiful new house they’re building at the end of the street. My dog is at my feet wondering why we’re typing in my office and not on the couch today. My cat keeps walking over my desk to inspect the house plants that I moved onto it yesterday so they had more space to grow. These are some happy plants.

And now I just thought of a picture I do want to share with you!

morning meditation

This was a beautiful break. I didn’t get to read as much as usual, but I got to write to you. It turns out you CAN teach an old dog new tricks!

Mid-Life Crisis or Existential Crisis?

Is this what a mid-life crisis feels like? It’s not quite an existential crisis, but I feel that something does need to be done.

I’ve been sitting at the corner of “The Past” and “The Future,” wondering what I’m supposed to be doing for quite some time now. I’m sure you’ve been there. You may be there right now. Life is just full of these intersections. Some of them have nice rest areas we should take advantage of before we move on.

For the past couple of years, I’ve been heading down one street and coming back, then heading down another, circling and ending up in the same place. I sit down and think, try to group my thoughts, and head off in another direction, only to feel like I’m still headed the wrong way and stop again.

This morning I was chatting with a friend and grumbling, not in a sad or frustrated way, just in a curious way, about what was going on in my head. He listened, threw out some suggestions, and virtually gave me hug and a “it’ll pass” pat on the back. That’s all I needed really, just to be heard.

At the end of the conversation, I decided not to write anything at all and got up to get in the shower to do some thinking. That’s where the best thinking happens. Right? Side note: I really need to start bringing my notebook in the bathroom with me to write down my idea before it gets whisked away by distracting chores. I held it in my mind this time though. It must be a good one.

When I was child, I didn’t give a flying leap about the future, and I had no past to ponder. All I cared about was if my mom would make cookies, if my dad would take us to the movies this weekend, and if there was going to be someone to play with at the park. Right now, right in front of me, was all that mattered.

Then adolescence came. Stupid teenage angst: wondering what I would do after high school, if that person liked me, who I would become. Soon I’d have to make it on my own, get a job or go to college, find an apartment, make my own dinner. And I wanted to, desperately. If I were on my own, I’d be in control of my destiny. No one could tell me no.

My young adult life proved that to be a false dream. Life tells you no all the damn time. But I was still happy. I had my own apartment, a great job that I thought I’d have forever. I was dating a lot, had a few good friends. The license plate frame on my truck said it best, “Part of the Magic.” I was a part of something bigger than myself.

Life snowballs. Did you know that? Sure, you did. Everyone knows that. Dating turned into serious relationships that in nasty, mean break ups. Jobs turned into careers. Debts were incurred and paid. Marriage. Kids. House. Car. Playgroups. Arrest. Yes, you read that right. I’ve written that book, but I’m afraid to try and publish it. Homeschool. Moving out of the city. Motocross. Eventually, the kids grew up and started their own lives. I know you’ve heard me tell that bit before.

And here I am now with that “Now what?!” feeling, that endless song loop playing in my mind.

I started reading more, writing this blog. I volunteered a bit. I’ve made some new friends and gone on a few adventures. But nothing seems to feel like it used to. I’m not part of something. I’m not going anywhere. I’m just wasting time and energy in the wrong direction.

This morning, it dawned on me. Could it be because I AM heading in the wrong direction?

The one thing I know for sure is that nothing is certain in the future we have coming to us. Just about everything is up in the air, anything can happen. My job right now is to get my own shit in order. Do the repairs that we haven’t had time for in the past. Save the money, pay off the debts. Clean up the stuff that has accumulated over the years and regroup. Reading, writing out my thoughts and posting them to this blog, meditation, and podcasts are part of my own preparation for what’s coming.

Life, right now, is preparation for what’s to come. I didn’t know what it was when I started college. I didn’t know what it was when I was building a career or my marriage and family. I don’t know what the future holds now either. All I know is that I’ve learned in the past to trust my gut and listen to myself. My place right now is making space, getting ready, building up skills to deal with whatever comes my way next. And I’ve never been very good at staying still and waiting.

What does that mean for this blog? It means that I’ll keep writing about the things I find when I find them. I’ll be making time to write and re-write, put my thoughts in order and post as often as I can. My hope is daily…unless I can’t, at which point I will not be freaking out and throwing things at myself because I’m such an awful blogger.

The point of what I write here is only to show someone else what I’ve learned. Teaching/showing is the best way to learn. I’m not telling anyone how to live their lives, what they should do, or how things should be done. I’m just here marveling at the world around me, the same way I would if you and I were on an adventure together. Yeah, I probably talk too much. I have a lot going on in my head. I get very excited about strange things, like this dwarf mongoose I saw at the zoo.

Mid-life crisis is not a thing for a mongoose.
He jumped up there so I could take a picture!

But I hope you’ll stick around. Adventuring alone isn’t any fun. Who would I look to and scream and point at things if you weren’t here?

Blogging: A Message in a Bottle

I just don’t know, you guys. Maybe blogging isn’t my thing after all. I’ve sat and thought about it, wondering what it is that I offer. What is it that my writing can give you that no one else’s can? Nothing. But I still can’t help but write things down, tap them out on a screen. I have things to say, things I want to share, ideas, thoughts, recipes, important things that fill up my mind and spill over. Where else can I share them but here?

You would not believe how many pages of notes I took while driving the eight hours up to my mom’s house and then back a few days later. Nine pages seem like a lot, but it’s a smaller notebook and the writing is crazy big and all over the place since I’m writing while driving. I only glance down to put my pen in a blank space, my right hand scrawling blind.

I’m glad I took up this practice. It really helps remind me what it was I was listening to. I also jot down funny ideas and things I see along the way, like the girl in her soccer uniform lying on the side of the highway in the dirt under a tree looking at her phone in one of the small desert towns I passed through. You’d have thought she had been transported from some suburban park, it seemed so out of place. If I hadn’t noted down “dirt girl under tree lol,” the scene would have been lost forever.

The first thing I heard as I started my journey on Monday morning was from Secular Buddhism. He said that he isn’t teaching on the podcast, he isn’t telling you what you should do or believe. He’s only sharing his own path, his discoveries, and interpretations, as he goes along through this world. It made me smile and I made a note.

That’s what I want to do here. It’s what I crave to do. And why I keep blogging, even when it seems random. No, this blog doesn’t have a theme and I’m not writing to teach you anything. I’m simply sharing my experience of the world around me.

If we lived in a world without the internet, I guess I’d have to find another way to pour this stuff off, but we don’t. I can share my thoughts with the world. I’ve mentioned a message in a bottle before, and that’s still exactly how I feel about writing here. I spend some time each morning writing out what I’m feeling, experiencing, reading, learning, roll it up, stuff it in a bottle and cork it. Then I throw it out as far as I can and hope the current catches it and brings it to you. If you like it, if you find value in it, share it with others. That’s why I keep blogging.

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