Monthly Archives: January 2013

What Does Your Closet Say To You?

Sometimes I worry that I appear totally neurotic when I’m posting on my blog. I pretty much lay out all of my idiosyncrasies here, and I’m afraid that’s the only picture you will see of me. The truth is that while I am a total weirdo, if all I write about is being normal, well… that’s just not interesting.

So here I go again, admitting the weirdo truth. But there is more to me than just that. Please take note. Okay, I feel better. Let’s get to it.

The other day I was cleaning out my closet. It’s a decent sized walk-in with a top shelf on both sides and under those, two long bars for hanging. There’s also shelving at the far end. I have filled it to brimming and it’s sort of obnoxious.

Beyond the fact that it’s started to bother me, I also imagine Lucy, the wonder cleaner, sees how awful it is becoming when she vacuums. While I know Lucy to be very nonjudgmental, I bet it bugs her. Lucy is uber organized. This is why we love her.
This is not my actual closet.
So I set out to work on my closet in the way that I do all projects that must be done, but are overwhelming, I implemented the “Ten Thing” rule. As per usual, ten things blossomed into 20 and then to 30 and I think I must have hit 40 before I was done. It’s still overflowing, but it’s getting better.

What struck me hard in the face as I was doing this clearing out was that there are clothes that I’ve held on to that no longer fit. I know most of us are guilty of this indulgence, going one way or the other: What if I gain weight and need those again? As well as: I know I will fit into those jeans again, I love them and I’m GOING to lose this weight.

My issue fell flatly into the second category with one difference. I hated the jeans. Several pair, actually.

Really? REALLY?! I was holding on to clothes that not only DON’T fit, but I hate them too? This, my friends, is not healthy.

So of course I went to Mr. Dreamboat to admit this… this illness. He always gives me great perspective as well as teases me and it makes it feel less ridiculous. I mean, at least I recognized that I do it, right?

Of course he was kind about it. He then thought a moment, as this man has even more clothes than I do, and he said, “I’d take some clothes to Goodwill, but I’m sure I’d just end up buying them back because I like everything I have.”

Yes! I say, Yes! to that answer. There’s really nothing wrong with hanging on to something you love that you might use again, but why hang on to something you never really liked? Something that never really made you feel attractive or pretty?

So I started looking through my closet with a different eye. What pleases me? What makes me feel pretty? What fits me well and makes me happy?

I haven’t gone all the way through my closet. My New Year’s resolution to shed weight is going well and there are still things that I like that I plan on wearing in the near future. I am sure there are at least 30 more things to get rid of though. At. Least. Perhaps when I get home from my travels I will get to it. It feels good to get rid of things that don’t ‘feel good’ to me.

And perhaps when I’m done with that, I’ll evaluate the rest of my world. I’ll stop holding on to the things that don’t make me happy, the things that don’t quite fit me anymore. And maybe there will be things that don’t fit me right now, but I want them to fit again. So many projects!

I hope your life is fitting you well. If not, clean your closet. I have this theory, that when we clear away the clutter of our lives, we’re not really downsizing so much as we’re making room for the things that are really important to us.

Practice Being Scared

I have a deep belief that every day we should do something that scares us. I would give you an example, but different things scare each one of us. Years ago I read Feel The Fear & Do It Anyway by Susan Jeffers and made it an actual daily practice.

Miraculous things happened for me. The miracles weren’t always pleasant (Calling a woman who didn’t like me and asking what I could do to make things better and being told there was nothing, she was planning on continuing to hate me.), but it was empowering to know that I could do hard things and survive failing sometimes.

So I can’t tell you what it is that you should do that is scary, because I don’t know what it is for you. As for me, I’m going to make a phone call and ask someone to do me a favor. Scares the heck out of me. But that’s okay. And it will be okay if they tell me they can’t help me, or won’t help me.

One of the things that I love about yoga is that every time I do it, it’s my “yoga practice”. I don’t have to accomplish anything or be at a certain point, I’m just practicing.

I like to think that every day I practice being a mom, I practice art, I practice everything I set out to do. It makes it less scary that way.

Life is the same way. Every day we wake up and we practice living the best life we can. Sometimes it’s a great practice, and some days we just look forward to trying again the next.

I hope you have a wonderful Wednesday practice, I hope you do something that scares you and I hope you are successful, no matter the outcome.

Laziness will cause you pain. ~Slogan on T-shirt worn at the Vee Arnis Jitsu School of Self-Defense

Ten Ways To Fritter Away Your Day

I like to think that I spend my time wisely. I don’t like to sleep late and I’m definitely the personality that likes to list the things accomplished at the end of each day.

That said, there is certainly a broad space on the shelf of life that should be dedicated to “Frittering” one’s time away. (To fritter: To reduce or squander little by little.)

These are my preferred ways to use up my day in a useless manner:

1. Watching entire seasons of a television show in one day. There’s nothing like discovering a previously unknown series and then watching the entire thing in one sitting. While I’ve never actually gotten through a whole series in just one sitting, I’ve given it my best try.

2. Reading an entire book at one time. Now, unlike the TV series, I HAVE accomplished this one. I’ve read huge, thick novels in a night, knowing I would wake up far too early the next morning with red eyes and a literature hangover. The part of this that I love is that the story clings to you all through the following day. I highly recommend this form of time wasting.

3. Personal pampering. Instead of rushing to get ready like I normally do, ignoring all the little hygiene things that don’t matter all that much on a day to day basis, I like to take my time, take a bath, do my nails, maybe give myself a facial. It feels good and while there’s no actual evidence of having done something with one’s day, you feel good inside. Maybe go read that book now…

4. Walk everywhere. This isn’t really possible down on the farm. If I decided I’d walk to the store or the restaurant from my house, I’d end up looking like the Folk’s home resident who wandered off not having a destination. It’s just too dang far from my house. But when I’m in a city (like here in Reno) and things aren’t SO close, but they’re not TOO far, I like to walk. It eats up a day like nobody’s business.

5.The slow house cleaning day. There are days that don’t have specific requirements, but there are things to be done. Here, let me fold this load of laundry, while I watch The Ghost Whisperer. One load = one episode. You can see how some serious frittering could occur this way. Or I’m cleaning the kitchen, but distracted by the old photos that got left out, so I go sit down and look at them, and maybe 45 minutes later end up back in the kitchen. Yeah, that’s actually the reason I need Lucy to clean my house.

6. Leaving the house to go run an errand, but using the same technique as #5, and letting little distractions take you from point A to point D and back past A to get to point L and before you know it, POOF, day gone.

7. Useless projects are my favorite. At Christmas time my daughter and I made tags for our stockings. There were nine tags with everyone’s first initial on them. It took us like four hours to make these tags. It was fun, pointless and a great way to fritter.

8. Thrift stores and garage sales. Both sides of my family are junkers. I’ve been going to garage

20130129-095407.jpgsales since before I can remember. Sure, it’s a great way to get awesome deals, but if you go into my studio, you’ll find a lovely vintage green dress with an awesome feathered hat hanging on the door of my closet. These are useless items and please me because they simply ARE. There’s a super inappropriate song/video about thrift shops. It kind of embodies their brilliance. Great way to fritter. I highly recommend it.

9. Blogging. As I’ve mentioned, I LOVE to blog. I still haven’t figured out what purpose there is in it and so I suspect that technically it qualifies as one of my top frittering methods. I love to read other people’s blogs and to write them and I’d like to spend some time frittering by sprucing mine up. If you read blogs and you’re tempted to write one, DO IT! It has excellent frittering opportunities.

10. I tried not to write it. I wanted to pretend I don’t do it, but the fact remains that I believe every single person to read this post does it… surf the net. Everyone does it differently, Facebook, blogs, research, how-to’s, but we all do it. So let’s embrace that!

Today I am frittering. And I’m definitely not sorry.

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Plan To Have Plans Change

The other day I took Mr. Dreamboat to the airport, got Chase to school and headed into Portland to go on a bike ride with a friend. I was about ten minutes from her house when Mr. D called me and said his flight was canceled. Always the gentleman he offered to simply stay at the airport until the evening flight as he didn’t want to make me miss the ride.

Of course I went to pick him up. He doesn’t like to hang out at airports (this is because he isn’t a busy mother, I LOVE the airport and would happily vacation there from time to time). I was disappointed about the bike ride, but happy to pick him up. 

There was just one glitch, and that was that it altered the entire landscape of my day. I had a busy day planned and all of the sudden I didn’t know what to do with myself. Mr. D was much in the same boat. He’d planned on doing some writing on the plane before he arrived in Salt Lake for an event where he was speaking. 

Both of us were somewhat quiet in the car on the way home, I suspect we were both trying to figure out what to do with the day.

I have always been like this. If I have my day all mapped out as to how it will be spent and some sort of monkey wrench is thrown into the works, I am almost paralyzed. It takes my mind a good deal of work to begin reconstruction. My mood will sometimes plummet. It’s actually a little extreme and not just a little strange.

ImageA day that was initially a disappointment and then a struggle to get my bearings turned into a really nice afternoon with a really great guy. I’ve been worried about getting a dress for an upcoming formal event, and I needed a few “foundation pieces” and Mr. D is not only handsome and funny and smart, but he’s an excellent and willing shopper. I got my dress, we had lunch and parted ways while he went off to the airport and I to pick up Chase.

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Adam & Ash

Yesterday morning I found out that what was going to be a prep week for me has turned into an unexpected trip to Nevada to visit my son and his wife. On the heals of a successful upheaval I decided not to spend any time stressing about the change of plans. I’ll embrace the opportunity and am quite certain it’s all unfolding exactly as it should.

Years ago I spent the afternoon with a group of beautiful women, all octogenarians. My husband had just self-surrendered to jail and I was still reeling. As we sat and visited, in passing I mentioned that my life wasn’t turning out exactly as I’d planned. With little fan fair I heard the quiet laughs around the table. Someone quietly said, “It never does, honey,” and the conversation ended.

Joseph Campbell said, “We must be willing to let go of the life we planned so as to have the life that is waiting for us.”

While it’s a lesson I feel like I have to learn over and over again, I’m game! Bring it on!

Of Dark Dreams & Adventures

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Photo credit: boredpanda.com

I wrote a post this morning that was less than cheerful. It was a complete reflection of the mood that accompanied me as I arose from bed. I knew even as I wrote it that I would not post it. It was about a recurring dream I have. Let us just say that the mood was dark.

I won’t burden you with the post that would likely lead you into the mood that plagues me this morning, but I do want to make an admission of it. While I like to keep my posts cheerful and upbeat for the most part, I don’t think it’s fair or healthy for anyone to pretend everything is awesome all the time.

Life is an adventure, and like I told my kids all the time when they were growing up, “An adventure is something new that you’re trying. You may or may not like it, but that’s what makes it an adventure.” So, I don’t like my recurring dreams, that put me in a funk. And I don’t like the mood that I am currently trying to work myself out of, but it’s a part of the process, it’s just a part of being alive.

I hope this morning you arise with a sense of wellness and a lust for the day. I hope you had good dreams and that you’re ready to “Arise! And embrace the day!” And if you’re not in that kind of mood, I hope that you recognize it, acknowledge it as part of the journey and move on to an adventure that you enjoy more.

Happy Sunday, ya’ll.

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Photo credit: santabanta.com

Big Hearts Change The World – Ten Things

This is by no means an all inclusive list. This is simply a list of some of the people who have dramatically shifted the way I view the world. The way I began thinking about it is I went to bed thinking about a post on kindness. I then woke up at three in the morning and started thinking about specific people who have, by their kindnesses, altered the way I live my life.

It’s a scary list to make, because, as I said, it’s not all inclusive. The simple truth is that I can’t write a list of the million people who have changed my life. But to all of you, through simple kindnesses, or selfless service, who have passed through my life, thank you. Here, I present ten of you:

1. How obvious is number one? It’s my mother, of course! One of the kindest hearts I’ve ever met, my mother HATES to have anything negative said about others in her presence. One of the hallmark lessons of my childhood was, “It doesn’t matter if they shot themselves in the foot, it still hurts,” as well as, “I know they did some really bad things, but I just keep imagining that person as a baby in his mother’s arms.” While I am not as generous as my mother, she definitely taught me not to see people simply as good or bad, but as complex individuals on their own path. Thanks, Mom.

2. They say that the influence of siblings may be more powerful than the impact of the parents. If that is so I am a very lucky girl indeed. I am the second of two girls in my family, and as such always had the influence of my older sister. As children she was my first playmate, as adults, she’s the first person I think to call during all of the “big stuff”. My sister is accomplished, compassionate and introspective. She lives her life in a way that teaches determination, acceptance and love. Thanks, Annette.

3. I met Aaron Scott Young on a summer day in 1986. As he tells it, he was wearing a matching shorts and shirt set that made him look like he was wearing a grown up version Garanimals. I don’t remember it. I do remember the second time we met. He was cocky and came on to me and I was having none of it. Silly, stupid teenager. What has come since then has been a roller-coaster ride through unimaginable adventures. What he has taught me is to look at circumstances a little closer, he’s taught me to forgive, he’s been a shining example of hope and he’s shown me unconditional love. It is my goal to live my life in a way to be more like this man. Except for the Garanimals thing. Thank you, Aaron.

4. A list of influential people in one’s life would seem incomplete without a reference to at least one teacher. Miss Bunnell was a young, pretty English teacher at Shelley High School. Not only did she love what she taught, but I can only believe that she loved teaching it. I never felt smart in school, and so when Miss Bunnell went out of her way to write a note to my mother saying how well I was doing, when she took the time to write in my class journal that I was an exceptional person who would definitely do well in this life, I took those words, and kept them close to my heart for many years. “Three cheers and lets hear it!…” I actually know exactly what that note said. That’s how important it was, and I’d even say is to me. I’ve tried to find her to tell her thank you and never had any success, so here it is: Thanks, Miss Bunnell, you changed my life.

5. Years ago I was walking the hills of Clackamas and I would see an older woman doing the same thing. We would pass each other and nod or say good morning. Eventually we began walking together and I’ll tell you, she kicked my tail up and down those hills. But best of all she taught me many, many things. Lu has a distinct personality, an opinionated way of living and a generous heart. She definitely scores as one of the most influential people in my life even though we haven’t seen each other in years. Thanks for the walks and the hikes and the life lessons, Lu.

6. I think Melissa Kelly and I became friends initially through default. While our paths crossed while we were at school, it was because our husbands have been best friends since their teens that we ended up becoming friends. Actually, that’s why we spent so much time together. I believe the reason we became friends is because Melissa is one of the most guileless, intelligent people I’ve ever known. She and I are so very, very different, but I hope to some degree we are so very similar. I want to love people and serve people like Melissa does. Thanks, Melissa.

7. I’ve written more than one post about dogs. We are dog people. And I know dogs aren’t people, but we could all take a few notes from the doggy playbook. Thanks to all the dogs I’ve known. (Except the one that bit me when I was out walking one morning. You know who you are.)

8. I started taking art lessons 4 years ago. Serendipity, God, the universe, karma, whatever, brought me to a wise, kind and talented teacher. I see the world so differently because of this kind woman who loves art and loves God and serves others. I see it differently artistically, but I also see people differently because of the way she lives her life and loves those around her. Thank you, Susan Spears. The world is more beautiful because of you.

9. Five times a year Mr. Dreamboat goes to a forum called CEO Space. When he first came home and couldn’t stop talking about it, sometimes I would tune him out. He can be very enthusiastic. Then Mr. D had open heart surgery and all these crazy people from all around the world were calling me and texting me and putting Mr. D on huge prayer lists. I was kind of freaked out. Finally I went to one of these forums and my kids have been, and we actually have this new family, this worldwide community of great thinkers and people who serve and love and succeed through the concept of cooperative capitalism. I go there, and it’s a lot like business church, and though I’m tempted to roll my eyes, it works and it’s magic and it’s because of Bernie Dohrmann, a quirky, intelligent, big hearted, brilliant man. Thanks, Bernie. See you in Costa Rica.

10. The nameless people I see acting out in kindness every day. The grocery clerk who talks about taking food to the homeless man on a cold, winter night. The people with dreams of making a difference who actively seek opportunities to serve. You. I know, without a doubt, that if you are reading this you have reached out to others, likely me, and given a helping hand, a kind word, a gentle smile to someone in need. Every act, whether seen or in secret, impacts the entire world. Thanks for all you do.

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Of Vices & Virtuous Reading

There have been multiple occasions when I’ve thought to make an admission on this blog, and I’ve been too… shy? Too proud? I don’t know the correct word, but I’ve been too… something… to admit this specific vice. I’m now ready to own it, and they say that’s half the battle, right?

It is difficult for me specifically because I like to think of myself as being a somewhat intelligent reader. I like to believe that most times I take the high, literary road, indeed, it’s probably more correct to say I tend to be a bit of a literary snob, preferring higher minded text, quirky, thought provoking prose to anything remotely resembling mindlessly written and mindlessly read, cheap fiction. The Harlequin Romance disgusts me.
The Awful Truth
The awful truth is that I have been indulging in a campy, teen vampire series for several weeks now. First I would like to clarify that I read The Twilight series several years ago. And further, while I read them I secretly wished Bella would die, and a stronger, more confident, female heroine would emerge to carry the story through.
Even so this indulgence shames me, and I decided upon reading a review of This Year’s Best Books, that I would finally get to some adult literature. And since I’ve been too far gone in the Hormone Land of cheesy vampires to research my own interests, I thought I’d just take the reviewers recommendation and ween myself with something sure to be thought provoking, well written and well, something I’m not embarrassed to admit I’m reading.
And I hate it.
As I described the plot of the book I’d chosen to Mr. Dreamboat, he continually looked at me like “Why are you reading this?” As well as actually saying the words “Why are you reading this?”
I patiently explained my reasons, but the look never left his face. Finally, after he benevolently listened to the story line I somehow needed to relate to him, he said, “I have this theory that whatever you’re reading should give you some sort of benefit.”
This was exactly my point. I’ve been frittering away my time (granted, I’m listening to audio books for these specific stories as I live far, far away from all civilization and spend HOURS each week in the car) with teenage nonsense and I thought I’d spend time being edified by actually listening to high quality, adult fiction.
“But you don’t like it. You feel bad while you’re listening to it. It’s not giving you anything.” But, said my snobby self, I’m not really getting anything from my teen vamp addiction… well, there are some good life lessons that make me think, and I enjoy listening to them… Mr. Dreamboat contends that simple enjoyment is a benefit.  Hmmm…
And it turns out that while I’m not reading Shakespeare or myriad other authors I’d be pleased to bandy about at some cerebral gathering (cuz I’m at a lot of those, and people really care what I’m reading, so it makes all sorts of sense that I care about nameless, faceless, judgmental and, more importantly, fictitious people assessing what I’m reading), I actually like these books.
They make me think about my own spirituality. They make me laugh and take me away to an alternate world. Finally, they entertain me.
One of the things I love about being married to someone I love and respect so much, and who is so very different than I am, is that he brings perspective to my craziness. I hope that I do the same for him. This particular time he showed me that my actual indulgence was my ego as well as my “crazy thinking” about what other people may or may not think, when they’re likely not thinking about me at all.
Of course he didn’t put it that way. And I love him for that too.
If you should see me driving down the road, I will likely be with my youngest son, or driving to pick him up, or on the way to an art class. I will probably have a smirk on my face and will, in all likelihood, be listening to tales of vampires and teen angst. And I will be enjoying every minute of it.
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Time To Spare

I have just a few moments this morning, but it was important to me to post.

Mr. Dreamboat is dropped off at the airport for another business trip, Max is off to school and Chase is getting a shower. Cross your fingers that I’ll get any hot water for mine after that boy is done. I will take him to school and I have a bike ride planned with a friend this morning. There’s shopping to be done and I am speaking to some youth on Sunday, and there are details to be nailed down there. I haven’t yet started preparing for a trip to Costa Rica that’s coming up in just over 2 weeks, and as you might be able to tell from my run on sentences and my clear self absorption, I am feeling a little under the gun for time.

But I made an effort to write in the creative pages I keep in the mornings, and it occurred to me while writing them, which is why I write them, that I always have exactly as much time as I think I have.

That is to say, when I believe that there isn’t enough time to get everything done that I need to, I don’t. But when I take a deep breath, and I really believe that there is not only time to get the needful things done, but the the things I want to get done as well, then there always is. Every time. I’m completely serious.

It is this magical offering of the universe, but it is true.

So I am off to do the things that I need to do. And then I will get the things I want to do done, and then I will probably have a few extra minutes to read the book of short stories from Costa Rica that my daughter gave me for Christmas, and I might top it off with a bubble bath tonight. Cuz that’show much time I have. Plenty.

 

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On Hysteria, Darwin & International Relations

I never realized how much I would enjoy writing this blog. There are mornings that it feels like I am empty headed, I throw a few terse thoughts down, and get a rousing response to them. Other days, I spend time a good deal of thought over my words, and they are a definite flop. And surprisingly, that’s one of the things I love about it. I just never know what the reaction might be and really, it doesn’t matter. It’s a fun game and I like playing it.

I also love checking my stats. On busy days it’s like checking your mailbox at Christmas and seeing if there are any new Christmas cards. I like to see what resonates with people and I love it when I get visitors from all over the world. I mean, what could I possibly have to say that would speak to two different people from Slovenia? It is not unusual for the Canadians to stop by, and I’ve had my share from the UK, but I wasn’t really even aware of the Burkina Faso-ans. But thanks for stopping by!

One continuous thread has been my reference to Charles Darwin. Almost every day there are searches for that great man, and they are brought to me. I was thinking about this phenomenon yesterday, and pondering the Belgian that had wandered through my little corner of Blogland and I thought I’d give Chuck another chance to tickle my fancy so off to brainyquotes I ran.

Dr. Darwin did not disappoint.

“The highest possible stage in moral culture is when we recognize that we ought to control our thoughts.” Charles Darwin

But sadly, I read this only after I’d worked myself into a dither over a meeting I didn’t want to attend (Read: Middle School Conference). In fact, I was so out of sorts I pressed my very busy Mr. Dreamboat into service and he had to go with me to keep me from parental hysteria. More accurately, he simply helped me fake NOT being hysterical, I was already there. Had I controlled my thoughts, as Chuck suggested, I would have put on my big girl panties and saved Mr. D’s favor for a real emergency. I could have had a bit more faith that things have been improving, and I wouldn’t have felt like a five year old afraid of an empty closet. Perhaps my morality wasn’t the problem when I wasn’t controlling my thoughts, but the wisdom applies to every aspect of our lives.

As for the Slovenians, the Ethiopians, the Guatemalans, and all who wander through my world; whether it’s parenting, happiness, or Charles Darwin who brings us together, it’s a pleasure to have you stop by.

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