Sunday, January 05, 2014

Breathing through the days

So much of what we do is reactive. Have a rough encounter with a grumpy sales person, react. Be surrounded by yelly, upset people, react. Be in a group of people who just are negative, react. Be in a group of people deep in worry about their own days and problems, and we react.

I'm over reacting.(ha ha ha) My whole intent going back to work is to not react, because my purpose, my intent in life, does not reside in that job, in that work. I will never get to where I want to be, however, if all of my energy is used reacting.

I have words pouring through my mind that need to find blank pages to fall onto. I have characters living lives less than the ones they should be, wanting to be on those same pages. I have beautiful people, beautiful thoughts, and I want to release them.

That separation from the tasks of making money to the task of creating must be solid so that one day, the art of creating is the income, or, or even, the art of creating is simply accomplished. I would like to earn income from it, but for the time being, I'm focused on the creating.

Do not over react, do not react with too much energy, do not offer it too much thought. That is my charge going into work next week. I plan to do a lot of nice, relaxing breathing. Maybe I'll do tai chi in my head. Heck, maybe I'll do tai chi in the office!

Welcome back to work! For some, it is their life's passion, for others, it's a job while they conduct their life's passion in their off time!

Monday, December 30, 2013

Live in the space of each moment

Last night I stayed up forever because it was Sunday, because I drank too much caffeine (again) and because I kept thinking I needed to get ready for work. (One day, I will have a job where I don't get as much time off, but I'm hoping to put that off for a year or two longer). Husbear has time off, too, and it's awesome because he's been home long enough that now he's beginning to do dishes and be generally around. I wonder when the balance between work and home got so, imbalanced?

I remember Christmas break as a child. The holiday would come, then we'd have a full week of this lingering feeling of celebration and Christmas. This is that in-between time, the week between the day after Christmas and New Year's Eve. Many people are just working, but there's still that lingering 'holiday-ish' feel out there.
This year, I'm using that time to get some things in order around the house. Deep clean the kitchen, because it was driving me crazy, check, declutter the dining area and living room, check. Toss out ugly lamp because Bear through a meditation pillow at it and broke it, check.

It's more than an effort to match the standards of organizational magazine perfection, but more of a way to create more space. I know I've mentioned it before - rather than finding time, find space, because after looking at my day, I have the time. We all do. We just struggle to find space, and call it time.

I have the space to write, which is the most important, but it took longer than I thought. It was a work in progress, but over the past few months, I managed it. Husbear had to help, because he's really good with physical spaces. I worked on the emotional space, the letting go of things that I don't want to hold on to but sort of just linger anyhow, like the taste of orange juice right after brushing your teeth. There's just no way to get rid of that easily. Mostly it's annoying things like, so and so (who you don't even really care about) did this annoying thing, or said something to someone, and it's all at work and so and so is sooo just very sooo...,and you just... can't... stop....thinking about it...and then you're like, 'but I don't even caaarreee...' and well, many of us do it. I'm proactively not doing it.

Walk with Bear down the Lefthand Creek path -
We were checking out the flood damage from September - the month
whenmoments we weren't expecting interrupted
the moments we had planned.
I have the space for my crafts now, too. I don't have many, writing takes up the brunt of my free time now, but I'm determined this year to finish my quilt, and, yet again, to manage to finish my daughter's cross stitch that I started when she was 3. Don't tell her though, in case I don't.

One weird thing I noticed is that I am better in everything when I meditate or do Tai Chi. Tai Chi is the easier way to meditate. You can get lost in the movements. It's also really really good for your health overall, though I'm not 100 percent sure why.  I'm less stressed, less aggravated, more calm, I have more energy and it's easier to just be present.

I love being present, and being mindful. It really does make every moment, well, just... more, because you're in the moment. The truth is, we can predict based on the patterns of the past, for the most part, what our lives will be like, but the other truth is that we also can't, because while we can be fairly certain that we'll wake up, drop off kids, go to work, pick up groceries, come home, shop for sales on line, etc etc on any given day, we can't be certain that on any given day that cycle won't be utterly changed by something, for good or bad. You suddenly run into someone and it leads to an opportunity for a great job in another state. Whoa. (See, it doesn't have to be bad, we just always thing, yeah, at ANY given moment, a meteor could land on your head, instead of, at any given moment, an act of serendipity, good fate or good fortune will surprise us!) The point is, we worry about, dwell about, think about and plan an unchanging future, when the truth is, our future will change. Nothing to stress about, it's just life, but we should just... be okay with it, and live in the space that the moment we are occupying is in, and fully explore the space of that moment, so as to truly live it. When I do that, when I truly occupy that space, I find that the moment seems infinite. Time slows. It's beautiful. (Unless the moment involves having just stubbed your toe or something painful, but it's still worth being there. It really is, it makes the stubbed toe feel less stubbed, trust me on this one.)

It's time now for everyone to ask about New Year's Resolutions, and most of us at some point just stop bothering, because we realize the New Year is really just an extension of the old. It is a good time though, to reflect, and think about whether or not you're headed the right way in life, whether or not you're doing the work you want to do, exploring the hobby you want to pick up, etc etc. My New Year's Resolution is to continue the same resolutions I've had in the past. Write. Run. Be healthier. I'll add one though, I'll add, 'Live in the Space of Each Moment.'

Saturday, December 28, 2013

It's cleaning time - but not, or kinda... I don't want to.

I stayed up a little too late reading all these ways to truly clean your house. There are magazines and television shows devoted to a clean house. I get how people can lose entire days in the pursuit of the perfectly coiffed home. Everything is always pretty, perfect and coordinated. I find a degree of cleanliness and neatness also occurs in households with no children, or a small child to adult ratio - like two parents, one kid, three parents, two kids etc etc... I have three kids and a husband that works forever, so my ratio is 1:4. I'd surrender, I would, but there's no one to surrender to. I  even tried once. I spent a week once waving a white pillowcase to the OverLords of Organization, Order and Coordinated Rooms, bought just for the occasion, but they refused to accept it.

I can say that most of my house is pretty and coordinated when it's clean, we've painted most of the downstairs, and two of the bedrooms upstairs, but, alas.... the perfect part eludes me.

I do have pockets of clean areas that move around the house, sometimes it's my desk area, sometimes it's the living room, sometimes it's the kitchen, but it's never all of those areas at once. My house isn't big enough to trick guests. I can't just invite them into the pocket of clean, because we have a small town home and an open floor plan. Poor planning on not-my-part.  I suspect the real problem lies in the children, and there isn't a place I can store them neatly, though I have tried.

Their stuff gets everywhere. It creeps out of their room into the hall, down the stairs and onto every surface - there's a sock, shoes, a leftover shirt that randomly got taken off, stuffed animals, a small lego creation... just now, I see a long green stuffed snake, some hero factory dude, headphones, night vision goggles (toy)... all scattered randomly around. They pick them up when I say, then somehow, new things come back.

That, and crafts.  I'm looking at a corner filled with fabric, plastic bags of pieces of fabric cut for a quilt I'd like to work on and somehow, a rock tumbler, a white board and a few other non-mine things have slipped in the open boxes.

I could leave it all today. I could. But I can't stand the sight of it. What I mostly want to do is get to my writing, but it's hard to write when all around you is disorder and chaos. I must take care of the house now when I have the vacation time if I want to write at home.

So that's why today I'll probably go to a coffee shop to write...

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Things I googled today

I'm writing, which means that I spend about 15-30 minutes of doing anything but on the computer.

I'm smart enough to know how easily distracted I am, so I avoid social media, Facebook, Huffington Post, etc. if I have any intention of actually accomplishing anything. But I can't avoid the questions in my head that pop up, and Google, Google can answer them all...

For instance, today, I've googled:

Is Agave just corn syrup? I'm drinking tea now. Like, literally, right now, and I put agave in it. I read that agave is essentially corn syrup. So I googled it.  (It's highly processed, so might as well just stick with honey.)

Brooks Adrenaline GTS 14 Review (Best rated running shoe for pronators, again).
Brooks Adrenaline GTS 13 (colors) (Because shoes that are really good are somehow never really bright and happy looking).

Lego Creator models (to see what else Bear will be building in the future).

The weather, because is it going to be this warm the rest of winter? (That would be cool! I italicized that for no real reason.)

Why does my cat follow me around? Mostly because of Husbear's cat. He follows him everywhere. My cat, fat as he is, just mysteriously appears wherever I am. It's because they like us, that's why they follow us, not because they want more cat treats all the time. That search took a while because there were links about cats and kittens and it's the internet...

And then, then, I wrote this, helped Bear maintain calm under the pressure of finishing his Sopwith Camel, and finally got to writing.






Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Christmas Eve, which means the Doctor Who Christmas Special is on... and Santa Cl... Sherlock!

Cookies are bad for you. Bad. Tomatoes, a refreshing glass of
water and fresh carrots for the reindeer help keep Santa
energized throughout his long night of toy delivery - a better
choice than cookies. Santa appreciates it. 

It's Christmas Eve! We had a rough night with Bear tonight at the grandparents, but now he's in bed, sound asleep, waiting for Santa.

I don't mind Christmas. I like Christmas, but I am not a huge Christmas Spirit person. I think I mentioned this in my 'ready for 2014' post. I used to love Christmas passionately, like really passionately. I wanted to wear red and green for a week straight during Christmas week and would (attempt to) bake many cookies and package them up cutely in cute Christmas boxes. I dreamed of Christmas Caroling (in the dreams, I could sing) and I wanted to show up to people's loverly-decorated Christmas homes on snowy evenings dressed in a stylish, muted plaid with lovely smooth hair bearing cookies and presents in shiny packages. (I did go to my mother-in-laws, but I wasn't wearing plaid, my hair wasn't super smooth and straight, and there wasn't any snow around - it was fun though).

I know I should be excited about tomorrow. It's going to be a good day. The kids will have their presents, Beef Stew will be hanging out on the stove all day (hopefully I'll remember to bake the garlic bread) and the family will be hanging out all morning just chilling out as a family. I might even do a puzzle with drama girl. She likes puzzles, I'm pretty sure. But I don't love Christmas right now.

With this ring, I thee pronounce you Princess Lauren, sister -in-heart
to Princess Nikki, first bearer of the Princess Ring, 
presented to her by her mother, Queen Mother, many, 
(but not sooo many) years ago.
Maybe I'll love it again one day, but for now, I like Christmas, like, we're friends and we've had a lot of good times behind us, and will have more in the future, but I just like Christmas. I do, however,  love, love,  love,  Doctor Who.

The thing I'm most excited about tomorrow though is.. the Doctor Who Special!

I'm nervous about the new Doctor Who, but I always am. All Whovians are. It's risky! You never know what the new Doctor will do!

I love that I still have things to geek out about, that I can still get a little giddy about Doctor Who episodes, like I did when I was 12 and would rush home after school every single day to watch Starblazers. Truth - first crush I ever had was on - Derek Wildstar. If you don't know what's so odd about that, you've never seen Starblazers! It is also probably one of the reasons it took me forever to start dating as a teenager...

I also was in a Sherlock Holmes phase as a child, which is why tonight, when the  BBC released seven minutes of a mini-episode of Sherlock Holmes, I watched it twice, three times, still counting...

It's like, all my favorite things colliding. The only thing that could make it better is a modern adaptation of Starblazers that doesn't have to be snuck out of another country for Americans to view it.

As for Sherlock, I enjoy the modern adaptation, and I  love the actors playing Sherlock and Watson. I wonder how Cumberbatch is as Smaug. I wonder if seeing the Desolation of Smaug is worth it just to see how well he plays Smaug. I do love the Lord of the Rings Trilogy, but I haven't been quite as excited about the Hobbit.  No Arragorn, for one.

While the children are asleep, dreaming of Santa's visit, and Husbear is playing Skyrim.... again... (Look, look honey, I shot an arrow into the sun and made it night...), I'm watching Doctor Who trailers and geeking out a bit on the Doctor, Sherlock and now, the Hobbit (because Cumberbatch is the voice of Smaug, and also I like the Tolkien world. I always thought I'd make a decent hobbit).

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Countdown to 2014

I've already moved beyond Christmas.

In my mind, after a month of preparation, after setting up the tree, buying all the presents and reaching the two-week break that is known as Winter Break, because not everyone celebrates Christmas, I have moved past Christmas.  

Now, I'm one of those people who think it's perfectly reasonable to say Happy Holidays to someone if you're not sure if they celebrate Christmas, while at the same time being perfectly content to say Happy Christmas to those who I know celebrate Christmas.  I just ask that people not make a big deal of it if I mess it up, and also that people don't get cranky if someone doesn't say Merry Christmas to them if they don't know them. There's nothing wrong with not celebrating Christmas.  It's probably a hell of a lot more economic, that's for sure.

But none of that matters, because as I've said, I'm past Christmas. I'm already making plans for the New Year. This is completely opposite 'being present' but I am not one for big events. I view them as distractions from carrying on with the rest of my life. I know, it's silly, because they are a part of my life, but I like my routines, and I like my weekends to be dedicated to things I like, and not shopping, which I dislike. I stress about presents, I stress about the economics of said presents and I stress about how it's cold and snowy out and if it was March or April it wouldn't be. I stress about how I haven't run in three weeks (EEK!) because of the cold and haven't figured out a time to get to the gym. Seriously, not running in three weeks. (EEEEEEK). I washed my face warmer, so I am going to try to force it soon. So in my mind,  Christmas is over. I'm past it, and into 2014. 

Oh, I'll enjoy the days. Lazy family time eating stew, getting some writing in, plotting ways to get the kids on a hike, it'll be a blast, but I'm looking forward to January. January is a solidly plain and simple month. Lots of days of routine. Lots of ho-hum-hi-ho-hi-ho-it's-a-simple-life-yo days in it.

So Merry Holidays, Happy Christmas and here's to the New, But Mostly Predictable and Routine, New Year!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

My Perfect Parent Night Cooking With My Bright, Creative Baker, Dreamer, Potter, Possibly Future Welder-Artist Son


Yes, I am a Perfect Parent with my Perfect, Bright, Creative Baker, Dreamer, Potter, Possibly Future Welder-Artist son, making a project for his class that represents Treasure Island. The book. He and his class read it in English, then he read it in Latin. Because he’s Perfectly Bright and finds Latin romantic in a sad, soulful kind of way. If he was just a ten year old boy, he’d have only read it in English.

The idea was his. And everyone knows that it was his idea, because I would never, ever, eveeer in this lifetime, concoct the idea of making the Inn from Treasure Island out of food. I was more a shoebox project girl myself. I did a wonderful diorama of a beach with starfish and seashells I collected, (with real sand!)and a representation of half of the solar system. Food constructs? Not my thing. 

So tonight, we built the Inn from Treasure Island.  Bear wrote the name of the Inn on a graham cracker with pink sparkling food glitter gel! That was my idea. The writing the name of the Inn. The pink sparkling food glitter gel was Bear’s.

Because I’m a Perfect Parent, and Bear is Perfect, Bright, Creative etc etc., I documented the whole process, because why wouldn’t I share our Perfection with the world?

Old Treasure Island Inn Constructs were notorious for their weak
malleable walls, and often underwent extensive settling, it's what gave
the Inns their rustic charm.


He shopped. He insisted on pushing the cart. I didn’t catch any shots of us in the grocery store, but he chose all the ingredients, and said ‘excuse me’ politely to three people in the store! That’s the truth of just the ten year old boy. Since he’s Perfect, Bright etc etc he thanked them in Mandarin. The language spoken by a certain species of citrus fruit, specifically, not the language spoken in many parts of China. 

Do you see the perfection of these Cocoa Krispy treats?
Just any 10 year old could not have melted butter and marshmallows together
to get such a fine marshmallow-y glossy sheen of sticky gooieness.  

First step, Bright, Creative Baker takes off his shirt. It's a thing that happens every night when we get home now. It's because he's super creative. Shirts stifle the soul. Next first step, the creation of the chosen food for the walls of the cabin: Cocoa Krispy treats. Myself, I would have chosen a pre-fabricated Gingerbread House as a base, seeing as it’s That Time of Year where the store’s are overflowed with them, but Bear chose to use rice krispy treats. My contribution as his Treasure Inn Concoction Advisor was to use COCOA Krispies, so the Inn would have a darker, woodier look to it. They’re organic, of course, the Cocoa Krispies were $12 and imported from the same place as all my coffee.



Making the dirt
Second Step: Prepare the base. The idea was to use Graham crackers. Chocolate ones, because why not? Squish them up, and it’s early spring when the fields have been freshly tilled. No, there’s no grass. This is a self-sustaining Inn. The land in front and all around is used to grow hops.



There's a river by the Inn, Twizzler River.
Everyone knows this.
Next, Bear placed the walls of the Inn up. The Cocoa Krispie treat walls were malleable, and easily placed. Bear and I discussed the roof. Since I'm a shoebox girl, I thought we were done when the four sides of the Inn Construct were covered with a layer of pretzels. Roof done, good. 




Four pretzels=Door! Backside of Gummies=Window! There are
no structural concerns with the Cocoa Krispie walls, none at all,
There's a notch in the sign, from where the Capt'n cut it with
his cutlas. 

Still structurally sound! I was ready to call it good, but does
that look like a proper Inn roof to you? Of course not, because
it's not, not at all, and it just won't do. There's more work to do here.
Bear, however, is Perfect, Bright, Creative Baker, Dreamer etc etc., and he wanted his Treasure Island Inn Construct to have a roof that was more triangular-ish in shape. More pretzels! Since I’m a Perfect Parent guiding my Etc Etc child, I stepped back and licked the frosting off of pretzel sticks while he worked tirelessly on the roof.

Finally, in an effort to not confuse people who might mistake this for a crazed Gingerbread-Pirate Recluse’s House, we coated the white frosting with crushed graham crackers to make the white frosting look more like wood beams. The average 10 year old with a mom who specialized in shoebox dioramas as a child would not be able to pull this look off. Luckily for us, I'm Perfect, and he's Perfect, and everything is just so Perfect. 

Then we placed it in the freezer to solidfy it’s malleability.

The end result?

Everyone knows it's the final details that really make a
Food Constructed Treasure Island Inn... note how the
Cocoa Krispie Treat walls hold up just fine here?
Also, note, the not grass.


Ouila.