THINKING and DOING

June 15, 2019 ROAD TRIP

May 22, 2019

Funky Moods and Puzzle Pieces

I got myself into this mini-funk the past few months, not depressed…just disinterested in general.

Every one thing was good, each piece of life was, but I didn’t know what to do with the pieces.

They didn’t connect into some one bigger thing.

Like jigsaw puzzle pieces scattered all over the table! 1000 pieces I need, must, put together to show myself, to show the world…I don’t know what, but something great, or at least noteworthy. I must be making…something!

But I didn’t have a box lid with a picture to show what I’m aiming for. How and where each piece goes, how they all are supposed to fit together to make that beautiful, meaningful something.

Lately it struck me, while sitting in my yard on the swing, pondering this.

I don’t have to have a big picture on a puzzle box. Sometimes its ok to enjoy each piece for the beauty of itself…the greens and blues and yellows…magnificent! Not everything has a lesson in it and not everything has to be done to fit the spaces in my picture, or even someone else’s picture.

Sometimes gardening or meeting with friends or volunteering or cooking are pieces of the puzzle. Working on getting my book published is one piece of the puzzle. Now I’ve learnt to enjoy the process, have fun doing each one, and then put that piece down and move on to another one. One thing at a time, on purpose. That’s just the stage of life I’m in now. Cultivate and enjoy instead of strive and build and accomplish, maybe.

I got bogged down wanting each puzzle-piece of life to make a big beautiful picture I could be proud of! They don’t. And they don’t have to fit together and be heading somewhere.

I have 896 puzzle pieces left. I’m going to spend the next days and years picking up each piece and enjoying it for what it has to give and then I shall put it down and pick up another. And not care where it all leads.

I think I’m out of my funky mood because now I know life is not a jigsaw puzzle to be completed!

March 7, 2019

Just Wondering!

How do I want to live my life? The rest of my life as I am approaching my 76th year? The answer I give, that books and magazines give is: “with joy and purpose, giving to myself and others.”

I’ve pondered what that exactly means in my real world, in the day I have before me. The one day I have right now. So I got up one morning and started to make a list for myself.

I want to eat enough good food to be healthy without spending much time thinking about it. Spinach salads, broccoli and tomatoes and beets. But also mashed potatoes, macaroni and cheese, and yummy chocolate desserts.

I want to exercise enough to maintain a healthy heart rate, to keep limber, to not become creaky and demented. Just enough to ward off those monsters. I’ll get on the treadmill, do lunges and kettle ball and jumping jacks. Just enough so that I can go for long vigorous walks in the woods and take deep breaths of brisk, fresh air. And see the beauty around me. Hear the birds and see unidentifiable paw prints and wonder what big thing walked the path just before I did.

I want to write and draw the beauty I see even though I am no artist and rarely show my work to anyone. It just feels so darn good to do it. While writing or drawing I can’t think of anything else. I am focused on the one task before me and that’s a good place to be.

I want to have friends I can have coffee with while we talk serious things. I can look into their eyes as they share their excitement…or their pain. Friends who can see the pain in my heart and call it out of me. Challenge me to resolve it. Maybe have an idea I can try because it worked for them. Friends who treasure my heart and want to hear what I think.

And I want to stop arguing or cajoling other people into “meaningful” conversations. So that I can honor the choices they have made for their own lives and happiness.

I want to travel and see new places and new peoples, live in their culture a bit. Glimpsing the glitzy, opulent lives of the wealthy so that I can see what gives them peace and where they find rest and how they feel in a world so torn and at odds with itself. And I want to sit and talk with outcasts, people on the fringes, people who do not have opulence around them and don’t know what it means or how to spell it. What gets them out of bed every day besides a hungry tummy? I want to hear about these things.

I want to read good books that make me laugh or cry.

I want to give something of myself to each of my grandchildren (and the great-grands), something that will be lasting, that will become part of who they are. Something besides money or heirlooms or dishes or silver, so that the treasured parts of me will be a part of them.

I want to do frivolous things on purpose, because I want to. Not just because someone says, “Hey, lets..!”

I want to be an influencer so that every person, every place will be a bit better when I leave, just because I was there. Not because I said a super wise thing, or because I was spectacular, but just because I was there. They don’t even have to know it. Or say it.

I can’t do all of these things in one day, of course, but I can do some. So that at the end of each day, I will sit on my couch with a book, something good on my TV in the background, a puzzle to work during commercials, a cup of tea in my favorite mug, maybe a glass of wine.

And I will rest in the knowledge of my day well lived.

January 26, 2019

I need a re-start button.

My phone has one, so does my laptop.

When they get all crazy

I push a button…and boom!

For a breath-taking moment

The screens go black and silent

Before they come alive again.

Alive again! No static, no rebellion, no laziness.

They act smart, no longer confused.

If I had a re-start button

I could push it when I’m rushing about,

Annoyed, crabby, joyless.

I could push a button and in an instant

Those would go away and I’d be calm.

It’d be good if I had a re-start button.

If I pushed that button the “screen” of me

Would become black and silent.

It would take my breath away, that alone emptiness.

And then I’d come alive again, bright and beautiful,

kind, calm, intentional, frenzied thoughts wiped clean.

All the good working parts of me would be in order.

I’d be alive again,

If only I had a re-start button!

January 17, 2019

My Next Non-Resolution

Last week I shared my thoughts about New Year’s Resolutions, and that I am doing something different…a new thing to start this year!

Instead of focusing on what I haven’t done, where I’ve “failed”, making resolutions to do better… I’m making a list of what I have done, where I’ve succeeded, and what I’m pretty happy with. Last week I wrote about my bullet-proof vest. Scroll down to read it.

My next “success” story is about hassles and problems. Every-day ones I’m pretty good at not getting all tangled up in. Some big ones still get to me.

Like what if my husband was in an accident and in a wheel chair and required my full-time care. Forever. Yet was unaware of himself enough to communicate! What if that was the rest of my life! My whole life? Forever and ever? When he was late coming home from a bicycle ride on busy city streets…well, I would be afraid and would think “What if that happens! I couldn’t take it!” Of course I could, but it was still scary and scary can turn into angry and angry can turn into unreasonableness.

Or like when, one day, at holiday time, there was a family conflict about something and I said what I wanted. Really wanted. A few others disagreed. Just disagreed. No threats and no arguing. And no conclusion.As the day drew near, for that holiday dinner at my house, I began to wonder if the disagreeing people would even come. What if they boycotted my holiday dinner! After all, no one had sa id, “That’s ok, I understand how you feel, it’s fine.”

The morning of, my heart ached and I tried to comfort myself with, “Never mind…it’ll be OK!”

“But wait! What if it’s not OK! It might not be OK!” And in an instant, just sitting on my couch, my heart knew, “IT might not be OK, but I will be OK! I will be OK!”

I’ve reached this place in my life where I no longer fear what can happen. Because I know, really know deep in my soul, that no matter what happens, no matter the crisis or if I am alone, I will be OK. And this, too, again, feels marvelous! PS: everybody did come to holiday dinner!

January 8, 2019

New Year’s Resolutions?

I’m a pretty goal-oriented, purpose-driven person, so I sorta make resolutions all during the year and usually keep them. So putting resolutions to work each January is something I’ve hardly ever done.

Some years I did put one word down on paper though, as something I wanted to pursue, like “love”. I would strive to be intentionally, consciously more loving. And show it in real ways!

Another year I chose “tolerance”, so that I could remember to be patient and not get annoyed at the everyday bad-manners kinds of things people do.

This year I’m not focusing on the parts of me that need to be better, even though there are lots of those. I’m celebrating my successes, what I’ve accomplished or even just-gotten-better at during 2018.

So here’s the beginning of my list.

This has been a year of deepening friendships. I’ve made a few new ones, but mostly I’ve spent more time with people I love and cherish and admire. I’ve learned that being together doesn’t have to have a purpose. I don’t have to scatter nuggets of wisdom every time. Nor do I have to solve problems. I don’t have to make the bed before they come for morning coffee. The floors don’t need to be swept before friends come for dinner. The people I’ve gathered are just…well, friends. I like them…genuinely like them! I’ve learned to just chat.

Because I don’t have to be on guard around them. This is the year I’ve taken my bullet-proof vest off and set it aside. Without it I’m vulnerable. And delicate. And strong. And without it I am free of its burdensome weight on my shoulders and this feels marvelous!

December 28, 2018

My New Adventure

I have an ache in my heart. Its been there a long time.

When I was a little girl, I wanted to go to ballet class. I wanted to be a ballerina!

A beautiful ballerina who wore a fluffy pink dress and moved with grace and looked elegant.

But someone told me I couldn’t. That I’d never measure up, I was uncoordinated and clumsy!

Ballet instructors are strict and uncompromising! They will yell at you and you will be embarrassed! You’ll get kicked out of class and they will laugh at you!

So I took books out of the library, about ballet. First position, second position, beautiful photos of delicate young girls. Their hair twisted into a knot at the back of their necks, heads held high, eyes looking into the distance as though entranced.

A book, however, could only take me so far, and soon the dream was lost in the routine of growing up and becoming responsible. Lost as I pondered bigger questions and tackled greater problems than being told I could never dance.

Many years now I have been a Gramma and have taken children to see the Nutcracker Ballet every Christmas. And every year, as beauty unfolds on stage, the dream sparks anew, my heart yearns, and I wish again that I could do THAT! I want to do THAT!

And so now, though I am 75 and will never be a ballerina on stage, I ordered a book from Barnes and Noble on beginning ballet. And found a Dance Studio willing to dream with me. Next week I have my first lesson, a private lesson just for me. Just for me so that I can dance in my own living room.

Just for me, I will dance when I want. I shall not hide. I will wear a flouncy pink ballet skirt and I will be beautiful. And in my heart I will be a ballerina! And my heart will no longer ache.

December 10, 2018

Quietness

I didn’t want to sit and be still.

I’d rather do the laundry,

Make the bed,

Wash the dishes.

I didn’t want to think and ponder.

I’d rather mop the floors,

Shop for groceries and gifts,

Bake bread.

I didn’t want to write and draw.

I’d rather hang garland,

Decorate the tree,

String outdoor lights.

When all was done, then, then,

I’d sit, be still, ponder.

Then I would have thoughts to write about,

Things to say.

About laundry and dishes?

Errands run?

About checklists completed,

And how efficient I am?

No! No! Not that!

Today I will do one load of laundry,

Soak the dishes.

One hour to decorate, not seven,

Just one batch of cookies, not six different ones.

Only those quick things,

Because today I will sit and be still.

I will ponder life and

Listen to my heart.

See the beauty out my window

In the woods, across the field.

And treasure the gentleness of deer,

And evergreen trees dusted with frost.

I will treasure my Christmas tree,

Tiny blue lights, no ornaments yet.

I will see the beauty of things undone,

The simplicity of only lights.

And today I will be truly alive!

December 4, 2018

Discovering New Roads

“Bored” seems to be a bad word nowadays. Something to avoid. Bored at a red light, a commercial, a line at the grocery store, or during a meal? Reach for our phone. Or newspaper or magazine. Or the TV remote. Kids reach for an IPad or other device.

As though our minds must be engaged with activity every moment. I wonder what we are running away from, why we need to be distracted. What are we afraid will happen if we have time to think and feel.

Boredom that we try to run away from hurts! Our heart races and our eyes dart back and forth, wondering where to focus. It can make us think we are a little depressed, or maybe just lazy.

But boredom embraced is wonderful! If I let my mind settle and just be bored sometimes, I discover many new things. New things in the world. New things about myself. About my friends.

I didn’t know drawing something I was looking at could make me feel so happy. I didn’t know I was even a little bit good at it. I’m certainly no artist, but I’m not embarrassed if someone sees my pictures. I have a little handheld sketchbook and every day I draw something. Maybe just that Santa on my bookcase. But something. And when its finished, I feel silly and excited and giggle a little to myself. I didn’t know that when I was too busy to be bored.

Hiking through the woods makes me feel strong and tough. I only discovered it when there was nothing else to do.

If I say “no” to all the usual ways I occupy myself with like errands, dishes, laundry, meetings, volunteering, and even TV and FreeCell, what then? What if I gave them up for one day a week, or one afternoon, or even one hour. And I just sat. Still.

I’ve allowed myself to put aside busyness and just sit. Sit for a time on the couch and stare out the window

until I think of something new to do. Or to write. Or to think about. Or to rest.

Who knows where our minds will wander if we let them. What will come to live in those empty places? What new roads will we travel?

I know.

Creativity.

Fresh Insights To Problems.

And maybe even some Original Thoughts of our own. Gosh! Go be bored this week!

(CREDIT: I drew the picture from a “Curly Girl Design” greeting card. The words are mine.)

November 28, 2018

More About Traditions

I’m still pondering Tradition. Some of ours have been repeated for so many years now I wondered if they’d become boring and old and over-used to the point of non-usefulness. So for Thanksgiving I changed things around a bit, to keep things alive and interesting. So I thought!

And I learned a few things then about Tradition. I think now, that while some may appear “boring”, or overused, they are not. They are just familiar. And a wonderful thread that holds us together. Not all threads have to be shining silver and glittery. Some can be strong muslin threads that give body and strength and are everlasting. Familiar.

For Christmas I may tweak a few Traditions, but I will hold onto the familiar. There’s comfort in knowing what to expect, there’s comfort in doing the same things every time you come to Gramma’s house. Sometimes there’s comfort even in the complaining about it. Sometimes that’s just part of being a big family together.

So I will continue to be a strong muslin thread. And leave the shining and sparkling and new for decorations and gifts and wrappings. Not for Tradition. Tradition by definition is old. And familiar. And holds us together.

I’m thinking now, I like that a lot. Surprised me!

November 20, 2018

Holiday Traditions

One of my favorite movies is “Fiddler On The Roof”. Tradition! Tevye’s life is built on it. His entire Jewish community is built on it. Two of his daughters challenge Tradition by choosing who they will marry and Tevye wavers back and forth. Should he give his blessing or no? He chooses to let go of a tradition because he loves his daughters. It is hard, but he does it.

The third daughter makes a choice that he cannot bless. He cannot even have relationship with her if she chooses to go down that path. A path that flies in the face of Tradition! A path that rejects his Jewish faith.

His response is “No! No! If I bend that far, I’ll break!”

Every holiday season I am challenged to ponder my traditions, the traditions of my family. The ones I have put in place over the years. My family is not challenging them this year, and in past years when they have, it has always been pretty easy for me to be flexible. To change. The day may come when it won’t be so easy. They are older and have busy lives. I am older and get tired.

And some Traditions get old and maybe boring after we’ve done them so long. Do we keep doing it because routine has become Tradition!? Maybe. And maybe I don’t want that. Maybe I can be the one to challenge some of my traditions!

Here’s a little thing. Every Thanksgiving I put paper and pencil at everyone’s place. They write what they are most thankful for this year. I’ve saved all those slips! But, it’s become pretty repetitive over the years. We’ve kinda gotten into saying the same things and it takes a long time for eighteen people to read their list.

So this year I’m not doing that. I’m gonna shake it up a bit by taping a big sheet of white paper on the wall in the family room where we gather. Let everyone pick their favorite color crayon and write or draw what has been special about this year. Maybe changing the format will make it fun again and will prompt new responses! I bet it will.

But a bigger question always plagues me. Is there a tradition that, like Tevye, I cannot, will not bend for? That if I do I will break? I can’t think of one, but every year I wonder about this.

November 11, 2018

The Cabin In The Woods

Halloween night I took off to my yearly “be-alone-in-a-cabin-in-the-woods” excursion. I take a survivor-girl attitude to this event. Isolated, no phone, no internet. If I fall while on a hike, I must crawl myself out to a far distant highway so somebody can find me. I survive boredom. I conquer fear. I keep warm only with a wood burning stove.

That was last year.

This year, I left during a month of craziness woven with conflict and schedules. That kind of stuff. I just kept hanging on because, “I’m going to the cabin in a few weeks. It’ll all be ok then.”

I thought magic would happen when I walked through that wood door. That I’d go from stressed to relaxed. It didn’t happen and it took me days to just settle my brain. Settle into quiet.

Lesson #1 Living life calmly and on purpose has to be done every day, all the time.

Then there was my eagerness to survive in the mini-wilderness alone. That didn’t happen either. Every cabin was rented, the campground was full, and people were hiking every trail. I didn’t get to be proud of myself surviving bitter cold while hiking around the lake. The temperature was mild, no hat or scarf was necessary.

Lesson #2 I need new mountains of challenge and risk to climb. I like those. I didn’t know that about myself. I’ll factor it in for future trips. Maybe I’ll even factor it into my life. Acceptable risk, that is.

Last year I was crazy with boredom, so I took along lots of stuff to do this time. Lots and lots. So much that I couldn’t decide what to do first.

Lesson #3 Boredom is good because it forces me to be creative and find something new to do. Or not do, as sitting and thinking and writing is ok, too.

The first day it rained all day. Pouring down rain. I just camped out on the sofa with a good book. A really good book recommended by a reader. “Wild” by Cheryl Strayed. Bold and colorful picture on front cover of a well-worn hiking boot. Read it in one day. I wanted to be there, not here. With people.

Lesson #4 Don’t read about conquering the Pacific Coast Trail, for three months alone and with bloody feet. Not when cabin-bound by rain and surrounded by people. Save that book for later.

But I think the biggest lesson I learned was that I can’t recreate super experiences. Each day is its own. It’s new.

And I’m new. I’m not the same as I was a year ago, nor am I really exactly as I was yesterday. And yay for that! Today is a new day, with new challenges, with new highs and lows, with new insights, with new things to, new experiences to have. With new people and new conversations. New mountains.

I’ll draw on my experience of yesterday, sure, but I won’t carry it with me into today or tomorrow. That backpack is way too heavy already.

November 5, 2018

Silliness

Just back from my “alone-in a-cabin-survival-girl-in-the-woods-for-days” adventure and have stuff to say about that but want to think about it a bit first.

But I did spend some time thinking about silliness and how much I love it and how little of it I do. So I sat on the couch up there in the woods, cup of tea in hand. With my favorite mug from a best friend. A delicate white mug that has “courage” in black letters on it. She knows they are my fave colors. And I wrote a silly little free verse. And laughed. All by myself up there. In the woods.

So here it is:

THE BENEFITS OF A MESSY HOUSE

I did not make the bed this morning.

Only fluffed up the pillows.

Thinking as I left the room,

“It looks inviting, I’ll nap this afternoon.”

I did not wash the breakfast dishes.

Soaked them in the sink instead.

Watched a mother deer and babe.

Phoned my own grown child, “have a great day!”

I did not sweep the floors.

Left the leaves and crumbs from yesterday.

Be the tokens of our day.

So I smiled at the memories.

Tonight I gathered puffy quilts under my chin.

Snug in my bed I was.

Cherished each moment of the day.

“Tomorrow, there is always tomorrow.”

“Tomorrow I will wash the dishes.”

More about my “trip” next week.

PS: those of you who know me will recognize the humor, as I am often teased for being too organized!

October 28, 2018

TWO THINGS: MY ADVENTURE and CATCHING UP

Last year about this time, I decided to rent a cabin at a state park and go there for several days to be alone and think through some things that were troubling me deeply.

At home I am easily distracted, so going someplace where there were no household chores and no TV seemed like a good place to start.

It was wonderful and terrible at the same time! Terrible because I got so absolutely bored to death I could scream. And wonderful because I found a creative side of me that went beyond what I was already doing! Terrible because I had no phone and no internet and couldn’t send pictures or texts to anyone to show off what I was doing. Yet wonderful because I learned the joy of experiencing something just for myself alone! Terrible because I got lost on trails, wondered what would happen if I fell, and once feared I wouldn’t get back to the cabin before the moon came out! Then wonderful when I found the right trail and saw my cabin before dark! I had only a wood burning stove for heat and kept the fire going day and night and was pretty proud of myself for that!

The really terrible part was being afraid at night. With no phone, no other cabin renters around, no people anywhere, my lamp the only one for a mile…it was pretty scary. If someone came on my porch and knocked I certainly couldn’t open the door even if they said they were the police. I thought about someone breaking in. What would happen if they did? I guess I’d be dead pretty quickly and it would all be over and I wouldn’t be scared anymore. So why waste time being scared when there’s nothing I can do about it, I wondered? It was still scary after that, but not as bad.

I came home feeling so victorious! I found some strength I had forgotten I had and I kept saying to my own self, “I did it!!”

So I’m off this week to do it again. No deep thoughts I’m needing to work through this time. I’m just hoping to explore new creative places of me, places I haven’t gone. I’ve never painted on a canvas, so I’m going to do that. I’m not artistic in that way at all, and even when I draw or color it’s a stretch for me. Not my talent, so it requires a level of concentration that is almost like meditating. Maybe I’ll get some Sculpy and mold and carve some things. Challenges! I want to challenge myself on dangerous trails and on paper. Gulp!

CATCHING UP:

On October 1st, my article was about learning something as I watched the trees let go of their leaves. I said I would gather a few and paste them in a little book and label them for stuff I was letting go of. (1st of 3 leaf to-dos)

Here they are: The first page is pictured above, but the next two pages had four leaves. one for the dishes I have to give away cause I have way too many, another for books spilling over everywhere. One for mementos that I can’t remember what for, and the last for the bazillion recipes I haven’t made but save just in case.

How are you doing? If you want to share your ideas with me or ask a question, or comment – use the contact tab on the far right. I respond to everything!

October 22, 2018

THE LOG

Awhile back my husband and I had a fight, sort of. We like to build fires in our fire pit, sit on the benches and have coffee some chilly mornings. He collects old logs and cuts up wood so that we always have a ready supply. One of his fave things.

Off to the side, not next to his wood saves, was an old chunk of log, a leftover piece from sometime long ago. It struck my imagination every time I walked past it and I just knew there was something interesting I’d do with it someday. Someday. But it’d been there for years.

So, on one particular morning I, in my woolly robe, over sized slippers, coffee and journal in hand, join him around the fire, only to see The Log in the fire. It quickly becomes My Log, then My Favorite Log. The Something I was saving for the Great Thing I was going to do with it! It’s importance to me grew with each moment I expressed my shock. Well, expressed my mad.

His only response was, “What! What’s the big deal? That thing’s been sitting there for years.” He did pull it out of the fire, though.

Well, I liked that log and couldn’t seem to get over the hump of being shocked, hurt, and angry.

Fussing and fuming wasn’t helping me, even hours later. I needed to redeem this and refocus . Tell myself a new story.

I sat with paper and pen and pondered why I liked that stupid old log anyway. Maybe I should write a bit of free verse. Here it is.

THE LOG

Why do I like you?

Just a chuck of old wood,

once a tree, now nothing.

Knobby, chopped up parts

sticking out, jutting,

ugly.

Why do I like you?

You are like no other.

Once a tree, gracing my yard,

beautiful.

Then old, then discarded.

Arms and legs firewood

till there was only you,

your core.

No taller than my knees.

Falling bark, wrinkled skin.

No longer tall, proud, powerful.

Some call you ugly, useless,

never beautiful again.

Here – sit there now, hold these flowers

and let the rawness of you –

present the beauty of them.

And reading my poem made me laugh and I was happy again.

Creating something new can chase away our crabbies and show us beauty again and we can laugh even at ourselves.

October 15, 2018

DOING IT ALL!

Last week I was overwhelmed, over committed, and crabby. Its been a crazy busy summer. We’ve traveled a lot, bought a property, tore down a house, and hosted a wedding, among other things I can’t even remember. And of course, all the disagreements that come along with.

So about a month ago I decided to put some fun into my life, and I picked out some things and enthusiastically signed myself up for them. And now I am way over committed! Me, a person who needs a lot of alone, quiet, reflective time!

I signed up for the Master Gardner class through Purdue. A friend had a blast when she did it and I wanted to have a blast too, so I signed up. But my class is different from hers and I have tons of studying and a huge, humongous textbook about 8 inches thick. The class lasts till the middle of December and then we take a test. A test! To be a Master Gardner and do all their fun stuff, I have to pass a test! On all this 8 inches tall stack of technical stuff. Not my fun thing. I started freaking out about the test. A few ladies in my class said, “Me, I’m not taking the test. I’m just here to learn about my own gardens.” “Wow,” I thought, “that’s good”. But I couldn’t stop thinking about the test! I HAVE to pass that test!

I also had agreed to teach a class at a half-way house, a class about anger. I’ve taught that a hundred times, to a hundred different kinds of people, but like to tweak it for each group. I found myself now taking two days each week just to get prepped. It had to be stellar! Just what they needed! Perfect!

Then there are the other things that already filled my week. Things I love doing. There was nothing to give up. I want to do it all!

I want to take naps and cut flowers from my garden and read books and play games with my grandchildren, have lunch with my daughters-in-law. Visit my mom in her nursing home, cook yummy stuff and have long walks with my husband.

But – I must do all my homework each week and have a perfect-score Master Gardner test in December!

But – I must be an amazingly gifted teacher each week for the half-way house!

But – I must wow all of you with my Monday articles on my web page!

All last week I was crabby. Tried to be happy in the midst of this chaos, just couldn’t.

And, come Friday morning I was going out of town with a girlfriend for 2 days and I knew I couldn’t afford the time. And…I had to pack!

So I didn’t pack, I threw my jammies in my ever-ready overnight bag and decided to just wear the same clothes both days. Too tired to care. Woke up at 4:30am stressed about what studying I wouldn’t get done.

Met my friend at her house. She drove her big comfy SUV, so I just sat back to be a passenger and not be in charge of anything. And spilled out my crabbies and frustrations for an hour. Promised I wouldn’t do it all day. One hour only. And then I stopped.

I could stop because she was my wonderful old long term friend who knew me well. She got off the main highways and drove the country roads on our way to Saugatuck, Michigan. I love country roads. One can’t be crabby while looking at trees and farms and passing through towns with lovely old houses. One just can’t.

We stopped for lunch at Firehouse in Douglas. Oh! It was so my kind of place! Yummiest homemade soup. With tasting samples. A chili made with shreds of roast beef instead of ground beef. A butternut squash soup perfectly seasoned. And the sandwiches were so amazing I actually ate my entire one.

We spent hours browsing the shops in Saugatuck, wandering through things we’d never seen, stuff we’d never buy but loved the creativity of it. We laughed and teased each other and remembered all the other trips we’d taken together. We found a restaurant overlooking the lake and ate expensive fish dinners.

We stayed overnight in a Best Western motel with a beautiful room. Curled up in our jammies, each in our own bed. We stretched out, watched Law and Order and crocheted blankets we were each working on.

And I became heavy with sleep, listening to this friend talk about her family and her job and just her ordinary stuff. My body relaxed, my brain stopped fixating on stuff. My friend of twenty years.

My friend to be comfortable with and not be perfect for. A friend who will let me wear my jammies to the breakfast buffet. A friend who will wear hers too.

My friend who’s part of my history. We’ve seen each other through deaths and illnesses and betrayals.

But we also have a history of travel and playing together. We hadn’t done that in a long time.

This weekend I discovered a new truth. When one is stressed with one’s life, when one is over committed, take a break. Not a little break. A long break. A break away with a long time trusted friend who expects nothing from you but your presence.

These days it is easy to keep up friendships through social media and I do love that a lot.

But there’s nothing like spending some good time with an old friend to refresh and nourish a tattered soul.

Today I was able to think clearly about my priorities and decide that I don’t have to pass the Master Gardner test. I want to be like those ladies who are having fun and just want to learn about their own gardens, and so I shall.

I’m going to enjoy the girls in my half-way class because, after all, the greatest gift I can give them is my joy overflowing. That drug addicts do recover long term, that my 50 years of being clean and happy can give them hope.

Today I wore a pretty dress and picked flowers from my garden, and drank blueberry tea. And I am not crabby anymore!

PS: I bought these little giraffe people in a shop that sells stuff made by villagers in Africa.

October 7, 2018

Diversity

I am often taken with a few key words everybody’s using. A fan of words, I’m always interested in what people mean when they use a certain term. Does it mean to them what it means to me? Are they using that word because its popular right now and if asked to define it, they’d have a hard time? I wonder often about words.

Like “diversity”. Often used. Paired with “racial”. Maybe with “sexual” or “religious”. Stops there.

So here’s a little free verse thing I wrote one day, while pondering people like myself. Us who are outside the Big Three!

Diversity, diversity! all day long I hear the word,

Diversity!

Accept people of another color, of another faith,

Make no note of sexual differences,

Find value in everyone.

Celebrate them for all to see.

Be proud!

But what about me?

Does your diversity include me,

White woman, 75 years old,

now on the fringe of younger populations?

Can you value me

and celebrate age for all to see,

or does my grey hair tell you not to bother?

Does my wrinkly skin turn you away ,

tell you I have nothing of value anymore?

And not to be proud!

But what about me?

Does your diversity include me,

A person who’s not good at small talk?

Likes relevant discussions with a few

instead of the expected crowd?

Can you value me, and look for me,

Or does my awkwardness tell you not to bother?

Does my quietness turn you away?

Trendy diversity is proud to look beyond skin color.

True diversity does not define itself…..it just IS.

Doesn’t need to look beyond differences

doesn’t see differences…

Sees people and stories and wisdom

and history and lessons to learn.

True diversity is humble,

Loves and values and respects

in an instant – without being told.

It is real

and doesn’t shout itself from rooftops.

It just IS!

That’s a bit heavy, so just for fun, here’s a super recipe I tried this week. I love to cook, and I love to try new things, so I’m all about squashes now. Always been a fan of zucchini, but I stopped there. Until I found a few I had to try because the pictures looked awesome. I promise you’ll love this, and you don’t even have to pre-bake the squash…just don’t feel you have to say what it is!

Butternut Squash Baked Pasta oven to 350, serves 4

saute till golden and soft: 4 Tbsp. olive oil and 1 lg. fine chop onion

then add, cook to fragrant: 3 thin slice garlic cloves and 1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes

add, toss to combine: peeled, 1/4″ pieces butternut squash, about 6 cups

then add, bring to boil: 4 c. chicken or beef broth

Reduce heat and simmer till squash is tender, then set aside to cool slightly.

Process till smooth, adding: 1 c. parmesan cheese

mix with 1 lb. cooked pasta, like rigatoni or bowtie, etc.

Pour into approximate 9×13 baking dish and top with handfuls of dried bread crumbs.

Add about 1 c. torn fresh basil leaves, sprinkle on some more parm, and bake till toasty and bubbly, about 15-20 minutes. (from BonAppetit)

So amazingly yummy. I overate!

See ya’ next week!

October 1, 2018

Fall

I have an awesome view out my back window. Yard and garden beds. Flowers and butterflies. And woods. With trees, lots of them.

They are thinking of changing color and dropping their leaves. Not doing it yet, just getting ready to. They phase into it, this dying, a little at a time. Not all at once, suddenly. But slowly.

Kinda like me. No, I’m not about to die, I don’t mean that! But certain seasons of my life are dying and I don’t like that. I cling to the old, cherishing it, reliving it.

That gets to be pretty hard work, maintaining a familiar old lifestyle, while living in the new, the now. The now of retired husband at home. The now of family grown up, gone with their active lives. And me. The me who now loves afternoon naps. And needs quiet times. It’s not just everything else changing, I’m changing too

So, I’m thinking about those trees. How if they were afraid to give up this season’s leaves, what would happen. I get this silly picture of them clutching their leaves, frantic to keep what they have. What if they could? What if they could keep those old leaves all winter? What would that be like?

They’d stay green-leafed, of course. That would be nice. But what about spring’s leaves? The next-coming season. Would they wither and die because there’s no room for them? Or would they push forth anyway and make the tree be ugly and crowded. And light surely couldn’t reach all those bunched-up leaves, so they’d just be small and ordinary and be, well, just “there”.

Silly pictures, I know, come to me as I sit with my tea and ponder.

So I think, I’m not going to clutch onto one beautiful season. I’ll find beauty in letting go. Most leaves turn an awesome color and burst forth in vibrancy, displaying for all to see that they are ending one season. Dying. They seem proud, I’m thinking. I can do that too.

I’ll take time to let the old just pass by slowly, as it should. I’ll not rush it, but enjoy each day/ leaf as it passes. This time of changing will not just be about dying, giving up, grieving. I will make it about restoring and feeding my soul so that I am ready for the new.

So that my next season will be full of beauty and love and excitement and adventure and learning and loving.

Easier to write about than do, I know. I think I’ll take a walk in my woods and pick up some fallen brown leaves. I’ll paste them in a little blank book, and label what I’m letting go of.

I’ll gather another leaf later, one that is just changing color and write about how my life is different now, how I am changing in my heart/ soul.

And later still, I’ll take a picture of some that are hanging on, not yet fallen, and past that in my book and fess up to the things that I just don’t want to let go of.

And then I will close the book, give it a pat. Stand up and embrace this fall season of my life. I will burst forth into vibrant color! Into the gloriousness of letting go!

Sitting on Balcony
Smartphone
vest2.jpg
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bike coast.jpg
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web2.jpg
Three Pumpkins
hiker boot.jpg
cabin in woods.jpg
web leaf pg.jpg
log.jpg

Watercolor Paints
tree.JPG

September 25, 2018

Decluttering

Skittering, shuffling, scampering, out of breath I am.

Books and papers and recipes,

photos and letters and souvenirs.

Memorabilia.

Spilling over. Cramped and crowded I am,

this stuff of forty years, tucked away, stored, forgotten.

I have become not the boss of my house.

Declutter I must!

Out with forgotten books we haven’t read in ten years.

But not this one, this one I read as a new mom.

Out with these receipts, yellowed with age, hard to read.

But not this one, Jonathan’s first ten-speed bike.

These recipes can go, how did there get to be so many?

But I’ll keep these with my pencil notes at the bottom,

when I was only just learning to cook,

learning to be a mom, learning to be a wife.

But oh, the photos and souvenirs and mementoes!

These boxes hold the history of our lives.

Remember this vacation, how small the boys were then?

Broken arms, first days at school, proud drawings.

And then I find it, fallen here to the bottom of the box,

the necklaces from the neighbor’s rummage sale.

Bought with my sons’ own dimes and nickles,

laid on my plate at supper to surprise me.

I lift them from the box and hold them to my chest.

And I know, this stuff, all this stuff

is not just junk as I thought,

no, never junk!

Each thing a gift to carry us back through days and years

and weeks of our lives together, reminding us

of babies born, of birthdays and anniversaries,

of illness and healing.

Of jobs lost, and companies on strike.

Of new cars, and bunk beds, and vacations.

Of children grown and leaving.

And of deaths.

I save out these few things, ones that warm my heart.

And back they go, into their box, onto the shelf.

One shelf for them now. Not ten.

Nine shelves left, empty, open, waiting.

I will fill them again, soon.

With memories of today, of this year, and next.

With mementoes of my new adventures,

now that I am 75!

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