Monday, September 22, 2014

A little bit of this and that, the details of calmness

I'm such an unreliable blogger sometimes. I don't like that about me. I'm hoping I've set up an RSS feed, so people can just get my posts :)

I've accomplished a lot lately, a lot of little things that matter a lot to me. Things some people do every day without thinking a thing about it. I envy those people. The ones that get up and are excited about their morning workout at 5:30 a.m., vs. me, the person who fervently truly wishes that a freak thunder and hail storm will occur right as I walk out the door, so I can go back inside and spend the next hour drinking coffee. The ones who are already a success at their chosen profession, instead of, like me, trying to slip in unnoticed, in an unfamiliar world... (Don't mind me, I've been writing forever, just, not for you... here you go, slip it in your accept pile, we'll go from there...)

But the big payoffs have been in the mental switch that I've somehow made. I have scoured mindfulness websites, read everything on simple mindfulness, practiced moving meditations, do some yoga poses, practice all sorts of breathing tricks. It's all in the head, it's all silly little tricks, but, I have become calmer. (Seriously, I have, I know I know, I could be a lot calmer still, but we have to start somewhere...)

I stress less. I accept more. I take slower breaths, longer ones, as habit, not as an effort. I let the noise of other people pass by without taking it in and becoming part of it. I butt out of conversations no matter how juicy or interesting the tidbit. I generally care more about the people I do converse with, because I have more energy for them. I've embraced my introverted-ness. I mean, I've always known I was introverted, but now I'm retreating a bit more, thinking a lot more, and, ta da, writing more. There is just a peacefulness in how I'm living right now. Not that anything has changed, nothing has. It's my view of things has changed. I accept more, and I have more mental energy. I don't get as fired up or wound up, and I am less stressed, and generally less upset-y. Upset-y is not a word, but it is a true state. It's that place where anything can have you spinning one way. Where instead of spending a few minutes logically reasoning as to why it's not worth being upset over, you spend hours being upset. I don't get upset when someone nonchalantly accidentally tosses half a bottle of soy sauce on his plate and halfway across the table, or spills his entire breakfast on the floor. (Full disclosure: My daughter makes me crazy. The other day I stopped the car and pulled over, yeah that's right, P.U.L.L.E.D. O.V.E.R. because she was being... fill in blank... That's not me, though, they say that that is just a thing that happens, so I don't consider her driving me crazy not being calm. I say that I'm a lot calmer than can be expected in the face of seventeen year old girlness...)

What is going on in this calm, peaceful spot of life?
It always comes back to writing, food, kids, and running.

Kids. My boys are almost 11, they are wiry knees and elbows still, they are taller though will never be tall. They have opinions and thoughts and unfortunate tastes in fashion. They are at the age where looks matter, but it's okay to where three-day-old socks. They devour all the food in their path. They are sweet and rude, kind and mean, passionate and misinformed. They still believe in dreams and Santa, but one has discovered, through science and the composition of rainbows, the impossibility of leprechauns. The other hangs on to the belief. They know everything. Sometimes I think of writing for them, or about them, but that isn't what's in me to write just now. My daughter is surviving her last year of high school, with no solid plans for the future. That's okay, though. Who does, really, at 17, have it planned out? I'd just like her to get a license and a job. We can go from there.

Food. What a wonderful thing food is. I'm forcing myself to cook, no matter how tired, on weeknights and weekends, one, to save money, two, see: lost 7 pounds. It's great for both things. There's really nothing to say right now about food. I'll never be able to write about food, not really. I don't have really informed opinions about food, only, this variations of tasting good, and a questionable habit of creating substitutes for missing ingredients.

Running. I'm taking a break from being an epic kinda-runner and doing morning fitness camps. I plan to pick up running next spring. Right now, I run during boot camp, do some swimming, and read running magazines....

Writing. Ah. Writing. I've found my voice. I think I've written that before, fairly recently. It's true, I have. I finally wrote a full short story in it. It's not fantasy, it's not paranormal urban, though I love reading those genres, and experimented it, and have that full written novel in that genre, but it's something else. I won't even attempt to describe it, it is just, sweet. I'd like to say lyrical, but we'll see.

In other notable life events, I've killed my poor plants on the front porch, except the mint, (of course not the mint, it's never the mint) and have to replace them with lovely fall creations that I can't kill.

Sunday, September 07, 2014

The 7-11 trip

Yesterday, the boys rode to the 7-11 for the first time, alone, with $9 in hand. The store isn't that far away. It's just outside our small neighborhood, the first store on the corner of a busy street. It has a lot of traffic. I sent the boys off, Bear now comfortable enough to ride his bike outside the neighborhood - the incentive of a slushy helped - after the unfortunate incident two years ago where his bike fell on him, and, as he explained to his young friend the other day, 'my nuts hurt for three days.' Nuts. My ten year old said nuts.

But this isn't about his saying nuts. In fact, two years ago, the bike did flip over and land on his… groin… and cause considerable pain. Looking back, perhaps it would have been nice if I insisted he ice with some frozen vegetables, but I didn't realize how MUCH his… groin hurt…he seemed okay after with the exception of the two-year-long fear of bikes…  I hope he'll still be able to have children…

The 7-11.  The corner store. The nearest store children have access to. For me, it was the Store 24. It's a rite of passage. The first time you have money in your hand and wander off, on your own, alone, to buy something with your money. Some children do it younger. Some older. But there comes a time when you go alone. When I went, I pushed my sister to the counter in front of me because I didn't want to talk to the cashier, because I was shy. I bought a candy bar. She kept trying to push me. In the end, due to my complete ability at that age to never speak if I set my mind to it, I won and she had to. There's a lot of people who would have a hard time believing there was ever a time when I avoided speaking to, well, people, for a great many years. I find myself returning to that time when I was quieter, though no longer due to fear, now, due to a desire for quieter, more meaningful conversation over inane chatter. (Still, I struggle, I love chatting.)

The rite of passage, though, is something that can often go unnoticed. To the boys, it was just 'FINALLY mom is letting us go to the 7-11 to buy something.' And in my head I'm going 'Ohigosh, they are so little, they are tiny, and too young, and it's such a big world, they might get knocked over and then what…' and then I looked up and realized I wasn't looking at my babies, my little toddling chubby-legged sweethearts with pudgy hugs. No, I was looking at bony, lanky dirt-streaked boys almost as tall as me. I was looking at a thin, angled faces, one more marked with freckles than the other. I stared into confident gray eyes that said "we asked Dad if we could go because you're kinda a worrywart and would probably have said no.'

They were loud and sure and running loudly around, one looking for shoes (you can't wear slippers to the 7-11) and pants (no pajama pants either) the other procuring funds from their father.

I wondered if they would be shy. I told them to buy small slurpees so they had enough money. I perceived that their experience would be like mine, and tried to prepare them for the greatest success - go in with enough money, get your goods, flee. I anticipated their anticipation, a little bit of giddiness (freedom!), but no, that was my experience, not theirs. Theirs was full of giddy slurpee-ness joy.  They were all sure of themselves, hopping on their bikes practically running over each other on their way out, and, having none of the reservations I had as a child about speaking, the first thing they did when they got in the store was ask - "How much are the large slurpees? The extra large?" They did some quick math, and realized they each could get a large slurpee, they could get me a small slurpee (how sweet!) and a second root beer. They came home with their bags hanging off their bicycles. They ran outside to show their friends their loot. They have gone to the store, and spent their money. They now know the value of money, the joy of buying precious things.

Thy'll soon have a mall to wander around in bicycling distance. (The advantage of living in an urban area - okay, it's not like, you know, quaint posh magazine urban, but we've got stores, a new mall being built, coffee shops and a fairly decent main street and downtown all within walking or bicycling distance!).

I'm happy they are here, at this stage, and I know two things.
I know they now will desire to have spending money for all the things they can get at the magic 7-11 and other stores - joy for them!
I know now, I can pay to have things done I don't want to do - yay for me!
I"m never going to be able to get away with forgetting to pay their allowance (I'm human!)

It's time to teach them about spending, savings and earnings on a strictly monetary level.
They are going to gorge themselves on slurpees. They are going to become slurpee addicts, and suffer major cold-inflicted headaches. They'll soon have a mall to wander around in bicycling distance. (The advantage of living in an urban area - okay, it's not like, you know, quaint posh magazine urban, but we've got stores, a new mall being built, coffee shops and a fairly decent main street and downtown all within walking or bicycling distance!).

They are growing up.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Funniest things I noticed

The funniest things I noticed today.

I have a chin hair.
So I can say, 'not by the hair on my chinny chin chin' and mean it.

We had a torrential downpour that lasted twenty minutes, and made me miss day-long rainfalls.

It's really important to get out of the work environment for the day, for at least a little bit if possible, even if it's just outside, to maintain a greater perspective.

I am a fickle writer. I enjoy it, but I have yet to settle as one.

I miss working with words all day.

My son genuinely enjoys drinking Peppermint tea at night, and loves wearing his plaid robe and pajama pants, making him look like a quirky character in a young novel.

Commercials ruin the television watching experience, to the point that I am perfectly content watching old seasons on Netflix. Commercials are like an assault on your enjoyment. I am happy that my children are not used to commercials.

I can not WAIT until the boys are in bed so I can sneak some ice cream with crushed peanut m and ms and hershey syrup, because I don't have any Hoodsie cups to mix m and ms in. Yes, I actually noticed that.

I just caught above-mentioned son smiling at a boy-girl kiss on a show we're watching. But I can't tell him I caught him.

I'm probably going to not eat the ice cream and just go to bed early, because the time to eat ice cream has passed.

The things I noticed aren't really funny.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Sunday thoughts

Here's what's hard about making space for the work you want to do. All the other things. The work you have to do for a paycheck. The dinners you have to cook for family. The things you're needed for in the moment, things that must be done.

Sometimes, the work I want to do, that must be done at the end of the work day, the things I love, the writing, the editing, the playing with words, the pulling out the camera and taking pictures, (so many pictures!) has to fall to the side. In favor of a bicycle ride to the creek. A trip to the movies. A conversation about superheroes. Finding laundry. Good night kisses. Tea.

I think, I'll never get to write. I'll never get to sit down. It never ends.

But that's a lie, because I will. One day, the boys won't be ten. They'll be teenagers passing through the doors. One day, my girl will be gone, off somewhere living her own life. The nights of little boys stealing time will fade away, and how sad to think of it.

So the space I have now, in between the other things, the working, the family, the living of the life, well, I carve it out, here and there, between the rest.

One day, I will be glad for the extra time, when the boys are no longer ten, and the girl has graduated high school, found her way to a path, moved past the need for this home.  Sometimes, though, I think I'll stop, and sigh, and wish for ten, again, and think it'd be nice, to watch a show (maybe Doctor Who...) with the three of them, and then I'll sigh, and remember bicycle rides by the creeks and peppermint tea at night, and write.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

An Apple Butter Jam Kind of Life

I’m home sick, eating the toast I want, without the jam I want. I’m craving the apple butter jam I had that day at breakfast earlier this summer with my friends.  That was the only day I ever liked apple butter jam, and that day, I believed, it was strawberry jam I ended up putting on the toast. It’s just that the apple butter jam had a lovely color to it, and a wonderful name, and we talked about it for a while, because there wasn’t much of any other jam left, and the whole time I wanted to be the person that appreciated something as subtle and pale and delicate as apple butter jam. I could be the friend that would say, on a breezy Saturday morning sitting outside a breakfast cafe, that could I please have the toast, and then to my friends, “Oh, I just love the apple butter jam.”

I’d like to live an apple butter jam kind of life. It’s awful confusing the life I’m living, it’s not at all the one I’d imagined, or sought. There seems to be so much going on it that there’s no time for subtleness or delicacy or loveliness. It’s all rigid and ordered and bright primary colors and bold statements and noises.

Take the first day of school, for instance. It’s soon, in case anyone hasn’t been paying attention. The ads on the television and the radio and the internet are screaming at me, shouting at me, and have been since the end of July, warning me about the busy bustle of school, of all the things I’ll need to get done, and barely have time for, coaching me on how to be organized and still be working/carpooling/homework-helping/sports-chauffeuring/dinner-making family mom who still has a sense of humor and hair, and who, for some bizarre reason, loves not having a minute to herself. The martyred uber-woman. She does it all, is frazzled, but look at her family, so worth it, we are taught to think. So since summer, it’s all been shouting, Shouting, SHOUTING  at me, and I turned away, covered my ears, closed my eyes. I don’t want it. I don’t want to be shouted at anymore, I don’t want the world to yell at me. It’s really enough. It’s why, this year, I’m both barely prepared and more prepared for school to start than any other year. I have just the right amount of deafness to the world. I think at one time, I tried to be that woman, that mom, but it didn’t last long. It turns out, I’m singularly incapable of martyring myself on the altar of the uber-family-woman. It’s probably for the best, that I failed so utterly at it, because if I had been able to pull it off, I fear I’d still be there. 

I believe there are more women out there like me, blocking their ears and cringing in the aisles of Targets and Walmart’s, not signing up for the extra duties that our children might one day need. It’s just none of us are shouting back. Instead, we're just quietly dropping out. The little girl that chases all the older kids playing soccer or football or whatever, and then, not being able to catch up, realizing she doesn’t even like the game, just the running bit,  goes off and plays on the sidelines with dirt and flowers and other little kids.

Of course I bought the school supplies, I am a mother, after all, and have responsibilities, but I am not lying when I say that a part of me recoiled in terror, and my fight or flight reflex kicked in, urging me to run for cover, when, in the Target aisle, turning the corner, I heard the voices of raised mothers and daughters and mothers and sons as they analyzed school supply lists and matched them to the proper product. Oh so carefully! So precisely! Then, let the negotiations for color, brand and style commence! Big red carts filled with too many things, paper things, plastic things, boxes of things, things, and more things. Things we, for some reason, did not need as children going back to school. What happened to one big binder with a few notebooks and pens and pencils? Now, we must buy dry erase markers, elite Ticonderoga pencils, pre-sharpened preferred, crayons, sharpie markers, notebooks for every thought, binders and index cards and labels and folders, so many folders. It was overwhelming, the noise of it all! 

I want to walk away from it, and go back to a place where things were not the thing, where education was not dependent on the things, where it was libraries and books and dog-eared text-book pages from reading and reading and reading to understand, and confounding problems solved with chalk at a board as students followed another student trying to figure out where they goofed on the fourth long division problem of the day, and heads on desks because the Velveteen Rabbit was too sad to watch where others could see you cry, and there was so much more of the mind and less of the thing. Where after school was for playing and after dinner was for family, no one used snow days for homework and parents said ‘do your homework’ without sitting down to help unless it was Algebra and you were failing, and even then, it was up to you. You know, to live an apple butter jam kind of life.

A quiet, perfect, glass world

This is a terrarium I created sometime last winter. The plants are still alive, the bicycle still parked in its lovely spot by  sheep and rock and ferns.  It's the thing I look at when I'm writing, when I'm working, and sometimes, just when I'm in the room, and feeling out of sorts and away from where I want to be.  It reminds me of the things that make me happy. If it's a day like today, when I am stuck home sniveling with a swimming head groggy and grumpy that a cold has had the audacity to affect me, and annoyed with myself for somehow letting this cold affect me, well, I can look at this terrarium, this little glass world,  and remember the cold will be gone in a few days, and soon, I can go back out there, to the trees, to ride my bike, to run, to hike, to play. This is not a permanent state. I look at it some more and the stirrings begin.  They turn and toss vaguely inside and become a thing, a thought, a want. I start to desire. That is when I remember the point of it, the reason why I created it, why I tolerate the sight of so much dirt in a jar. It has a mission, this silly little oversized vase with its miniature plants. The most important thing about the terrarium, the thing I can never forget, is its role as a predictor, a marker, a promise of the future, a goal, a harbinger.  I look through the dusty glass into a moment of thought in stasis, a moment I captured with  rich, moist soil and green ferns that when looked upon becomes a hint of fields and forests and quiet country. Then, I remember, I captured this world from a loved and almost lost memory of a different yesterday, and a dream of a desired tomorrow filled with wet, dark, spring soils and flowering fields; of forests and country with  quiet bicycle rides and roaming meadows where shady trees and busy creeks mark long-shadowed days of summers as they fall joyfully into crisp, sunny, golden falls. All that in this little, quiet, perfect, glass world.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Living fearlessly in the every day

Bear on the Ropes course.
This is Bear. We waited an hour so he could play on the Ropes Course. He loved it, up there, climbing and swinging and leaping. He was fearless, his hair swinging in the wind, his laughter high and loud. This is how our lives are meant to be lived. Fearlessly. I spent a lot of time not writing on this blog to finish a book I was writing. I had it in my head that I could not write and blog, which is silly in hindsight. I love this blog. I love posting little vignettes of my life and my thoughts. Returning back to work after a month off, we participated in some professional development which focused on living authentically. So much of the session was about how to live your life past your fears, the little fears that stop you in your every day life. After four hours, I realized that I wasn't living without fear at all, and that it had been holding me back. I suppose many of us feel that way! It is not how it is meant to be, though, we are meant to be only ourselves, no one else, nothing else. I did finish my book, and only time will tell if it's the one that will get published. In the meantime, you can find me here, in between the times I'm writing my next story and getting through the daily living of life with cats and kids.

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!