Monthly Archives: February 2013

Mother Nature Promises Spring; Lessons On The Farm

I am not often the best of farm girls. It is common for me to forget the farm entirely as I send young Chase down to feed and water the animals while I tend to things around the house. But I love living out here in the fresh air and the brilliant night skies. Well, when it’s not cloudy they’re brilliant. When it’s cloudy, the night skies are dark like a plush velvet blanket, unbroken by the lights of the city. With all the country appreciation I feel, I usually just feel it rather than actually experiencing it.

But yesterday was a true country experience on the Young Family Farm and as Aaron and the boys ran Harper Lee, one of the horses, off to the vet for an abscess, it was incumbent upon me to check on the twin baby goats that were born in the morning.

We got Fern about 6 years ago. She was a runt that Zoe bottle fed and so she thinks she’s a person, just as comfortable curled up by the fire as she is scouting the property for the best grazing spot. Not that we let her in the house… anymore.

Fern is a Nigerian Dwarf and we tried to keep her away from our full sized buck as we were afraid having babies would kill her in the best of circumstances. But, as my kids say, Fern is a gypsy and she does what she likes.

Our concern over Fern’s wellbeing was for naught. Last winter Chase found her in a dog house behind the garage. She and her baby, who was several days old when we found them, were snug as could be, even with no heat lamps and snow on the ground. Animals are so very capable.

photo (3)We found Fern with this season’s twins. Mama and babies are healthy and strong. Sometimes it’s easy to be Farm Girl.

When we first had birthing goats we were lost and somewhat overwhelmed. We kept diligent watch over the day and the hour. When one of the goats went into labor, we’d gather and “help” the mother if it appeared to us that things weren’t going smoothly.

As time has gone on what we’ve discovered is that by and large Mother Nature kind of has it going on without us. While problems can arise, for the most part, given the basic ingredients it all moves along quite well without our interference.

I think every member of our family has learned much from our little farm. We are so much closer to life and to death as we watch the natural ways of things up close and personal.

One of the lessons that I’ve learned is that life needs our “help” much less than we think it does. As a matter of fact, when we let nature take its course, more often than not it unfolds exactly as it should, all we need to do is watch and learn.

My Friends Don’t Look Like Your Friends, Or Maybe They Do

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Awkward Truth: The only friend I have within a 20 mile range, I pay to clean my house. True story. We moved hear almost 2 years ago, and I’ve yet to make anything more than acquaintances other than my house keeper. And I pay her, so I’m not sure that really counts.

This was really bothering me. I was feeling like a bit of a social leper when I finally started looking at the bigger picture that is my life.

I have a really great group of friends who live about 50 miles away. Others are scattered throughout the Greater Portland, Oregon area. I have good friends in Florida, Texas, Delaware, California, Utah, Idaho, Canada, various other States and countries, as well as the cyber world.

The sticky part of my friendships, and this is where I usually get hung up, is that they don’t look the way I’ve always thought friendships looked. In my mind we see each other regularly, we go out to lunch, we stop by one another’s homes and have tea.

I have no idea where I got this idea.

Now that I’m taking a closer look at things, I’m no longer sad. I actually feel like celebrating. I am blessed with a diverse group of friends with quick minds, varied lifestyles and insights I couldn’t hope to be able to tap if we were all from one area, one religion, one way of life.

The world has become so much more accessible than I ever imagined as a child. I avoid the words “so much smaller” as our world is still just as grand, mysterious and enchanting as ever, it is just more within our reach. We are a fortunate generation indeed.

This morning I am grateful for airplanes and internet. I’m grateful for fast cars and smooth roads on which to drive. I’m grateful for Skype, Facetime, instant messaging, Facebook, blogging, the U.S. Postal Service (but only a little), and reasonable gas prices. I am grateful to you for reading, to those of you who comment and a view of life that continues to broaden.

This world, my life, my friends, none of it looks like I thought it should look. And this morning I am grateful for that.

 

Succeed Every Day

 

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It seems to me, at least on this grey, winter morning, that we risk every day. We choose how we will present ourselves, we arise with intention and we greet the world with whatever energy and direction we can muster. Hoping to be received, hoping to end the day feeling some sense of achievement.

In my life I have risked. And I suspect if life had a score board, that my failures far outnumber my successes. That is, if one were to score them based on my intended outcome versus scoring them based on realized benefits.

Mr. Dreamboat and I were walking down a painful Memory Lane yesterday as he was preparing for a meeting to finish his book. As I sat in his office and he read from his jail journal, I admit my mood was abysmal. His accurate account of those painful first days effectively placed me back in that time. I didn’t want to be there to begin with, why would I ever go back?

It took me much of the day just to shake that mood. But as I finally regained my balance and we were able to talk about what we went through and where it has brought us, Mr. D pointed out that the highs are so much higher now, not in spite of the lows but because we plummeted to such depths. It has to be that way.

We are each taking risks today. Some of them are big, but I admit that mine are relatively small. That’s okay. We wax and we wane and we need to respect the cycles. But I submit that on a daily basis we risk, we succeed and often we fail. The key is not in succeeding when we meet our goals, but that we succeed when we find the brilliant truths that lie in failing.

Anatomy Of A Banner Day

Yesterday was a banner day.

And as I type the words I realize that all the normal hallmarks of a “banner” day were missing. It was not a “beautiful” day. In fact, the oppressive Northwest winter is upon us and it rained and stormed all day.

Beyond that, I had a two hour drive to and from my drawing workshop. As I drove out of Imagethe driveway for my class I realized not only was I late, but I’d forgotten my chair and there was a good chance I’d spend the three hour class standing if I didn’t turn around and get the chair, which would make me even later.

On the drive home, I realized I had a phone conference I’d have to take in the car (no worries, I have my blue tooth hooked up). Then I started thinking about the meeting and got all nervous and started fantasizing about having it canceled or possibly canceling it myself because I was really nervous about it.

And with all that, yesterday was a banner day.

As I drove out of the driveway and felt the stress of being late and driving in the rain and not being fully prepared, I realized that I love this workshop and my instructor always reminds us it’s like a vacation every Friday, so I decided to enjoy the ride.

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Our Lady Of Guadalupe Trappist Abbey

And as it turned out, I didn’t need the chair. I got to hear monks chant vespers and I spent the morning drawing with my friends who didn’t care that I was late. They were just glad I was there.

The meeting I was dreading that had to be taken in the car? It was excellent. It was spectacular. It was encouraging and exciting and worth every bit of anxiety I had poured into it. Can anyone say book opportunity? Yes!

I have this fantasy about how a perfect life looks. In it, my house is always clean, I am always thin and I always smell nice, even after I work out. Everyone likes me and every day is a good hair day. Magazines want me for their covers and I always take a great photo. Always. And even when I’m looking down into my phone-camera I NEVER have a double chin. Never.

It seems to me that we all stop sucking our thumbs at a fairly young age. We probably give up our security blankets before university. But there are some childish habits that are worse for us than these that are fairly innocuous. There are some things that keep us from true happiness and they come in the form of worthless fairy tales about perfection and they usually start with “I will be happy when…”

Yesterday was a banner day. It started with my weekly Mini Vacation and ended with dinner with friends and falling asleep in the arms of the man I love. In between there were adventures and joys that I hadn’t imagined. It wasn’t perfect, but it was mine and it was spectacular.

I hope today fills you up. I hope the sun is shining, at least in your heart, and I hope that you throw perfection out the window where it belongs and bask in the joys that are ours when we choose to see them.

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A Costa Rican Love Story

For your listening pleasure, Don’t Carry It All by The Decemberists.

I totally want to share every bit of my trip to Costa Rica with you. But the truth of the matter is that me blogging every day about every little detail would amount to a very long night at a friends house seeing every single one of their cruise ship photos, complete with details about how the towels were folded and close up shots of food. And we don’t drink, so you’d be out of luck. Just you, sober, and thousands of uninteresting photos. I will not submit you to that.

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Ahhh

Instead, I realized yesterday, I would include you in some of the key conversations I had while I was there, I’ll include some pics (no food shots, though I did take a mesmerizing photo of Coke Zero and some snackage) and it will be just like a brief re-cap, no harm, no foul.

If I had to choose the highlight of the trip with The Women Of Global Change, I would have to say that it came the day of the service project. We piled into the motor coach and drove about 15 minutes out of La Fortuna.

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The house across the road from the school.

The community is made up of mostly Nicaraguans. The village is humble to say the least. But the bright smiles of the children are universal and the love in each mothers’ eyes is without nationality.

Remember the partner dances we had to learn in grade school? It mattered who you had to dance with, it was either the worst thing that happened to you that week, or it was exciting and embarrassing and if you liked the boy or girl who was assigned to you, well, the Pre-pubescent Love Gods were smiling on you.

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SO sweet.

The children of this village danced for us with all their innocence and angst and joy. And when they were done dancing, they changed into work clothes and painted the school were they study each day.

WGC payed for desks to be built, and we finished them that day. We painted the inside as well as the outside of their humble little school and gave them school supplies before we left. Some of my fellow adventurers thought to bring extras like lolly pops and small gifts. I’ll be sure to take a cue from them next time.

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Mi Corazon

As we readied ourselves to leave, a big eyed, delicate, little girl caught my attention and pulled me down to her level. In her hand she held a new pencil case with art supplies in it. The glitter glue had captured her heart and, thinking it was glitter lip gloss she motioned for me to get down on the ground so she could put some on my lips.

Fear not, I am certain it was non-toxic and as she expertly applied the sparkling substance to my lips she continued to repeat the word, “regalo, regalo,”… “gift, gift.”

She was a gift to my heart and while I know much good was done in that little town that day, I am certain I am the recipient even more than I am a giver. As it always is.

Today, I hope we all go about our business as a regalo to those we come across. As the late John Lennon said, “And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make.”

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Forgive Us Our Trespasses

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Volcano Arenal

I was having a conversation with a friend while we were in Costa Rica. I wonder why I am often surrounded by friends who are younger and wiser than I? Anyway, we were talking specifically about people and their purposes. 

Andrea posited a theory that usually the lesson or message that a person feels so passionate about is that person’s weakness. She listed specific people, their specific behaviors and sure enough, I could see the pattern.

What am I passionate about? Well, I’m passionate about people owning their power. I’m passionate about women especially, the one’s who don’t know how valuable they are. The one’s who struggle to embrace the joy that life has to offer them and take nothing less than the love and admiration they deserve.

I proposed to Andrea that I am an exception to that rule. I LOVE my life! I love each day and the joys that unexpectedly find me. I love my husband and the way he courts me and flirts with me and embarrasses me with public affection. “Yeah,” I told Andrea, “Your theory works, but only some of the time. I’m an exception.”

“So,” she countered, “when you were acknowledged as a leader in the group you totally owned that? You felt like you deserved it?”

My answer was concise and brilliant, I believe. “Shut up,” I told her, owning my power.

So of course that conversation has stayed with me. I am always humbled when forced to look in the mirror of reality and see that I am just as flawed as ever.

The funny thing is, though I remain flawed and odd and permanently idiosyncratic, I really like myself. Perhaps we are not here to overcome our flaws, but to accept them and enjoy the journey to understanding them.

And just as importantly, perhaps we’re here to do the same for those we pass along the way.

“Lord, forgive us of our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.”

Amen and amen.

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Mighty Oaks From Little Acorns Grow

The thing about making changes in our lives is that once we’ve made the decision, the real decision, the one where we totally mean it, we would like that change to be instantaneous.

“Today,” we think to ourselves, “I am going to finally lose this extra weight.” And, after eating celery for a few hours, and looking in the mirror and appearing exactly the same as we did when we started the whole thing, we throw in the towel, grab a Twinkie (would that we could anymore) and think, “I suppose I will try again tomorrow.”

Perhaps we decide that today is the day we are going to be more assertive, more giving, more creative, more passionate, more disciplined. And then it turns out that we don’t. By 8 o’clock at night we are, for all intents and purposes, the same person we were at 8 a.m. that morning. Change can be difficult.

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One of the joys of my trip to Costa Rica this last week was that I had the fortune of hearing Les Brown speak. Mr. Brown’s story is inspiring and his ideas are exciting. They are not grandiose, they are achievable, they are reasonable.

So today, as I look in the mirror, and I think about the changes that I need to make, and I realize they are the same changes I needed to make yesterday, I also admit to myself that just because I didn’t grow a tree in one day, it doesn’t mean that I didn’t plant that seed yesterday or the day before, or even long ago. I’m simply not enjoying the shade yet. It seems to me the trick is to continue to nurture the tree, the ideal, that we someday hope to see in full evidence.

Just because our efforts don’t usually yield immediate, measurable progress, it doesn’t mean we’re not making progress every day, getting closer to the person that we want to be. No matter how small the step we take, as long as we’re taking it in the right direction, I hope we will rejoice in the small things, recognize the effort as progress, and perhaps someday we’ll have the opportunity to enjoy the shade of the trees we planted years ago.

And in the best of all circumstances, we’ll leave that tree as a legacy to those who come after us.

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Ten Things To Love About Costa Rica

It is not uncommon for me to have a bit of a crash and burn after an event, a stressful situation or a big trip. Thus, I found myself on the treadmill this morning with little to no energy. Even writing my creative pages fizzled out after just a page and a half. While my crashes could frustrate me, and often have, I have learned to trust the crash. My body is simply telling me that it’s time to relax a little, gear down for a couple of days, take advantage of the flexibility that my life organically has built into it.

With little energy to spare this morning, I bring you Ten Things To Love About Costa Rica

1. The people. I have traveled a bit in my life, and even though I have seen vistas to boggle the mind and ancient ruins that emanated energy and magic, it is always the people that I love, and those of Costa Rica are lovely in all ways.

2. Panaderias. Not singular to Costa Rica, but found in all Latin American countries, I love me a good panaderia with their pastries that melt in your mouth.

3. The landscape is magical. The areas go from green, rolling hills to wild rain forest jungles. Backgrounds include pristine beaches and live volcanoes. Costa Rica has it all!

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The Coati – Photo Credit: Wikipedia

4. The Kioro Hotel near La Fortuna. Beautiful suites, natural, healing hot springs, in-room hot tubs, and what I like to believe was their mascot, a racoon-like creature with a long nose who passed by our door not long after check-in.

5. The language. I know, I know, all the Latin American countries speak Spanish, and most neighborhoods in L.A., but, I don’t know, they were just so friendly and so helpful and so I love that they speak it beautifully.

6. I loved that on our day of service our tour guide and driver were as dedicated to getting the work done as anyone else, perhaps more.

7. At least from my short sojourn there, I detected none of the normal machismo I often attribute to Latinos. There was definitely an air of equality and cooperation.

8. The country was clean, well tended, with a focus on recycling and conservation. Costa Rica is a “green” country in more ways than one.

9. I loved that their names tend to lean toward European descent. It was not uncommon for Allen to be our waiter or Jessica to take us to our table.

10. I loved that I found people living in Costa Rica from all over the world. It is a testament to the nature of the natives that one goes there, and truly feels at home. 

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Home Again, Home Again, Jiggety Jig

First I would like to thank my guest bloggers for the past week! I think it’s clear they all did a phenomenal job. It was so generous of them to take their time, and share a little bit about who they are. And thank you for tuning in this week. I was able to check in and see everything hummed along just as it should while I was away. What a fun blogging week:)

ImageAgain I find myself writing a post on an airplane. We are traveling thirty-two thousand feet above the surface of the big blue planet, hurtling through the air at speeds our recent ancestors could only dream of.

I think of them not only because we are flying at high speeds, but because the alternative for them would have been arduous hiking through hills and valleys to go much shorter distances than I am traveling in one day. Far be it from me to complain about poor snackage on these flights.

Our trip to Costa Rica was… it was… I’ve been searching for the right wording for days and have thus far come up short. Here are some of the words that don’t do it justice:

Spectacular
Life Altering
Enchanting
Rich
Indulgent
Eye Opening
Refreshing
Educational
and Spiritually Renewing

Is there a word that encompasses all of those things?

Costa Rica is a beautiful country, rich in heritage, resplendent varied landscapes andImage blessed with a people not only lovely to look at, but generous of spirit.

The Women Of Global Change (the organization with which we traveled) are people from all walks of life with the commonality of open, giving hearts, things to teach and a willingness to learn.

As I make the last few hours of this journey to my home, my eyes are tired and I am looking forward to turning out the lights in my room and drifting off into the darkness that only the country life can afford. No street lights, no discos, just the occasional howling of the coyotes and the gentle bark of a dog.

Though fatigued and perhaps feeling the onset of jet lag, I have to say that this sort of trip, or let us call it a journey, has been worth it all. And if, like our ancestors, I had been forced to walk it, I have to say it would have been worth every blister.

And the word, captured by Mr. Dreamboat, would be Transformational.

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