The Beach on Christmas. For Dad.

20160730_192241My father loved to the go the beach on Christmas Day.  When I lived in Kansas City, he would call on Christmas and tease me that he had just returned from the beach, and then he would ask me how the weather was in Kansas City?  He always rubbed it in, which I didn’t mind, because I loved Southern California just as much as he did. Continue reading

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Be Brave

Life requires such bravery.

Visibility is almost always obstructed by traffic or a mountain or a cloud.

But take another step into the fog.

Continue reading

Full Moon Meditation

Tonight, the night of the full moon, I meditate.

Lying in a circle of mostly strangers in the grass.

In a park above the ocean. Cool and breezy. My sweater wrapped around my body.

Listening to our leader’s cues, imagining my body filled with light and energy, grounded to the earth.

I breath in deeply, then exhale, allowing my thoughts to settle, being gentle with myself.

I open my eyes and let them settle on the dark blue sky above me, allowing my body to sink into the soft grass.

When was the last time I lay in the grass and stared at the sky? In the cool night air? The sound of the waves filling my ears?

Soaking in the beauty of this moment, I am calm and at peace. And happy. And filled with love.

Why Writing Is Worthwhile (even when you are unsure what you are writing or why)

“I am a writer.”

“What are you writing?”

“Well … Nothing in particular … Lots of things, but not one thing specifically … I mean, nothing I can publish or anything … I mean, nothing ….”

Does this sound familiar to anyone?  I hope I’m not alone in this. Why all the qualifiers? What makes our writing worthy or unworthy?  Does it have to be published to be worthy? Are we real writers if we don’t have a specific project in process?  What gives our writing value?

We writers like to place our thoughts onto the page. We like to string words together. We like to play with them. We pull over to the side of the road while we are driving just to scribble thoughts on scraps of paper before they fly out the window.

Our writing is worthwhile, just because we do it, but here a few more reasons why:

  • Morning pages” are worthwhile, even though they’re often grammatically-incorrect ramblings. Getting our thoughts and feelings out of our heads and onto the page clears away the clutter, settles our monkey mind, gets our fingers moving and the ideas flowing.
  • Even if a fully fledged piece doesn’t emerge, exploring an idea on the page is worthwhile. We could leave the scrap of paper on the floorboard of our car, or we could explore it a little and give it a chance to grow into something meaningful.
  • Commenting on articles or posts is worthwhile. Why not take part in the conversation? And forcing ourselves to encapsulate our opinions into coherent, persuasive arguments helps tighten lazy thinking.
  • Publishing pieces on our personal blogs or even anonymously has value simply in the act of sharing insights and experiences that another person may find helpful or entertaining.
  • Even texting can be worthwhile, sometimes building and deepening our relationships. I think of texts from my best friend at just the right moment offering a thoughtful insight or encouragement.
  • Writing down our memories and processing difficult life experiences is extremely worthwhile even if we will never share them. It helps us learn about ourselves and move through the hard stuff.

I’m not sure why we tend dismiss such an essential part of who we are. I suppose it’s fear. (Isn’t the answer always fear?) Fear grabs ahold of us when we are vulnerable. And writing definitely makes us vulnerable. Nevertheless, I am compelled to keep stringing words together, whether I am brave enough to share them or not.

Saturday Morning.

Slept. Woke. Checked time on cell phone. 6 AM. Pushed away dog’s face licks. Snuggled into covers. Pushed away dog nibbles. Got out of bed. Peed. Put on coat. Attached leash to dog’s collar. Walked around buildings. Dog peed. Startled by walker. Dog barked. Apologized. Returned home. Removed leash. Crawled back in bed. Slept with dog 2 more hours. Woke up. Prepared pot of coffee. Showered. Redressed in PJs. Dog nibbled on ankles. Changed clothes. Attached leash. Walked around buildings. Dog peed. Avoided man walking dogs. Gave treats. Walked more. Dog peed. Returned home. Poured cup of coffee. Picked up laptop. Sat on porch. Typed. Sipped coffee. 9 AM, called mom. Inquired about night. Received report of good night’s sleep. Mom responded to dad in another room. Dad needed attending. “Can I call you back in a few minutes?” “Yes, of course.” Mom called back 5 minutes later. Chatted about nurses. Planned my trip to farmers market. Listed items needed: yellow beans, summer squash, strawberries. Ended call. Texted list of items to phone. Sipped coffee. Returned to typing.

I don’t understand …

I don’t understand why some dogs bark at all other dogs.

I don’t understand how anyone would think Donald Trump should be the actual president.

I don’t understand why it’s harder to lose weight than it is to lose your mind.

I don’t understand whether it’s better to have high expectations or low.

I don’t understand why people judge one another so harshly.

I don’t understand why it’s so hard to recognize our shared humanity.

 

Thoughts about being 12

[NOTE: I found this tonight in my drafts folder from 2011. I wrote it when my youngest son was 12.]

I headed over to the park to make an appearance at my son’s sixth grade picnic. It’s a beautiful day, the sun is shining the wind is blowing. There is a certain perfection to days like these, when it’s just so sweet and easy.

No hurries today. I laid under the covers late this morning. The house was quiet. The breeze was blowing outside. I could only hear weekday sounds — the birds and the breeze. No lawnmowers or gas trimmers. No cars driving down the street. It was a sleepy, quiet late Thursday morning. Even the dog was sleepy, wondering what I was doing here. I would have thought he’d be more excited to have company, but instead he gave me a look of sleepy irritation and ambivalence.

Yesterday we were milling around in the storm shelter for an hour and a half during the tornado warning, trying to reach our children on their cell phones, trying to hear what the weatherman was saying, trying not get anxious, trying to stay peaceful, saying prayers, making small talk, walking in circles, sitting down, leaning against walls, smiling at each other.

But today the tornado has passed and it’s a beautiful spring day –green grass, green trees, flowers, blue blue sky.

I drove over to the picnic and watched him hang with his friends. He would only acknowledge my existence with a nearly imperceptable nod in my direction. At 12 years old, he has a love/hate relationship with mom’s attention. Sometimes he’ll eat it up; othertimes, it’s an embarrassment.

I have only one memory that I can place in my 12th year–a summer daytrip to Universal Studios. It was 1978. I remember sitting on the very large furniture that made us look 10 inches tall and I remember my dad being called up to the stage to perform a scene. He pretended he forgot his lines. Later he confided in me that he was kidding, he hadn’t forgotten his lines. Now I wonder why he would do that? Was it funnier to forget the lines? I remember, he did get a laugh.

At this time, Happy Days was very popular, and Mrs. C — Marion Ross — was signing autographs at a booth inside the park. I wanted her autograph, but I was upset about something. I can’t remember what, but I was crying. Mrs. C asked me how old I was? I told her I was 12. She said, “It’s tough being 12.”

This is one of those strange memories that sticks in your head. And all throughout this year that Luke has been 12, I have often thought to myself, “it’s tough being 12.”  How did that little line from Mrs. C attain such a place of prominence in my brain? Was it because it came from Marion Ross that I filed it in the wisdom-dispensed-by-an-actual-celebrity-mom-file in my brian? Maybe I just remember it because it’s true. It is tough being 12.

Your hormones are all haywire, body is all awkward. You’re either tall or short or skinny or fat or pimply or clumsy or weird or nervous. You’re still innocent and accepting. You still eat up the compliments and yet you are sarcastic and just a little bit jaded. You try so hard to look cool like you don’t care, but you do care. I love this age, now that I don’t have to be it.

Me

Flats of various colors and designs

Tank tops with cardigans

Curly hair

Long legs

Coffee – no sugar, no sweetener, no flavoring

Sunsets

Fresh flowers

Poetry

Classical music

The Jam, English Beat, Violent Femmes

Smiling

Sunshine

Dogs

Walks

Journals

Lists

Baking

Home cooking

A good cry

Therapy

Flight

Friends

Meditation

Introspection

Writing

Judgment

Quiet

Asthma inhaler

Two sizes too big

Thoughtfulness

Strength

Cold beer

Ginger ale

Busy

Caring

Courage

Critical eye

Unattached

Blue

Being loved

On Running Late

I woke up 15 minutes early this morning in an attempt to not be late, because for the last few weeks, it seems that every day we (my teenage son and I) leave later and later. And so I thought today, I will not get on my phone right out of the shower. Because I love to lay back down in bed right out of the shower and grab my phone. But that always makes me late. Because if I get on my phone, somehow like one minute turns into 15 mintues. And then I get dressed, and then I make the lunches, and then I put my makeup on, and then I’m late. So today I thought I would make our lunches before I got dressed for work. And not get on my phone.

I started to bring my lunch to work recently in an effort to eat less crap (carbs and processed foods). So now I make a lettuce wrap, apple slices, a bag of nuts and a bag of veggies for myself and I make a sandwich and a bag of apple slices for my son. But this is like 6 baggies of food and what used to take just a couple of minutes now takes like 10 minutes. And then there’s the thing about starting the day with a little protein, so I usually peel two hard boiled eggs, one for each of us, with some salt and pepper, to eat before we go. And then I usually try to make myself a quick cup of coffee. So I have to add a couple of minutes for that as well.  And I’m moving fast here, but this is a lot to do in the morning.

© Green308 | Dreamstime Stock Photos

© Green308 | Dreamstime Stock Photos

I have a problem with always thinking I can fit one more task into a limited period of time. This is why I am always late. If you know me, you know I am pretty much always late. I once texted my friend who was waiting for me at the nail salon and I was late, because I had left the house late, but I still thought I would have time to grab an Iced Latte at Starbucks before our manicures, so I texted her from the drive-thru when I realized I was really quite late, and I accidentally texted, “I’m going to be a little latte,” which was funny, but it was really just a mistype.

Late people are sometimes accused of being disrespectful. And perhaps it is disrespectful to leave someone waiting, but I swear we mean no disrespect. We just want to get one more thing done. Slide one more accomplishment into that last little sliver of time. Push ourselves just a little bit more to get it all finished. Because if we do it all, we will feel so good and proud. We are do-ers. We need to keep do-ing. So that no one is let down and everything is done and nothing is left undone, by us.

My Disappearance

Over the course of the last two years, my life has been in flux. I moved 1600 miles away from my home, my oldest son and my best friend.  I left a 25-year marriage.  I gave up a 10-year career.  I have ceased to be a presence in a number of people’s lives, and they have ceased to be a presence in mine.

To some who love me, or used to love me, some friends, some relatives, quite a few colleagues and coworkers, and a handful of neighbors, in a way, I have disappeared. I no longer live next door. I no longer work with you. I no longer see you in the coffee shop each morning. You no longer read my words. You no longer stop in my office on your way down the hall. You no longer consider me your sister-in-law or your wife. We are no longer Facebook friends. I am no longer your lunch buddy or your team member. You no longer wave hello. You don’t see me at church. You don’t see me walking my dog down the street.

I don’t want to be overly dramatic, but it’s kind of weird.

I have a deep sense that I don’t know who I am anymore, and I’m starting to wonder if I ever really did.

I am in transition. I didn’t anticipate that this phase would last as long as it has or reach into as many areas of my life as it has reached. I had no idea when I started this journey two years ago that I would be where I am today.

This is the most important time of my life. I can feel it. Yet sometimes I am gripped by fear that I might let this moment slip through my fingers. But I have a sense that I won’t, that I’m not. I have a sense that something is happening within me that is momentous, even if it is only of consequence to me.

#NaBloPoMo