Monthly Archives: April 2013

Ten Things I Learned From Jail or Dude, Where’s My Life?

I keep reading things like “That which does not kill us makes us stronger,” as well as “Let go of what you have planned so you can receive something even better.” We all know the list of sayings about trials and strengths and what we gain from them. I’m actually a big fan and totally buy it.

The direction that these axioms have recently taken me is, perhaps, a little off from their intended reaction. Lately, I’ve been thinking about things I learned from our jail experience. Not all of them wise bits of wisdom, but at least I was learning.

With that, let us journey down Memory Lane, into the abyss of hell where I once lived, and enjoy:

Ten Things I Learned From Jail

  1. If you’re going through a powerful metal detector, wear a sports bra. Under wire = No entry.
  2. You can actually get an entire meal plus dessert from a vending machine and when asked what you had for lunch, be afforded the opportunity,with impunity, to reply, “I had a Big AZZ burger.” You’ll need Tums afterward. You’ve been warned.
  3. While the cry from politicians and many of my conservative friends is to hammer inmates with hard lessons and no civilized benefits, with all due respect, this attitude is ignorant and born of sheltered lives. These are complex issues and deserve thoughtful consideration. Where is “In that you have done this unto the least of these, my brethren,”?
  4. A long drive to jail, a Diet Coke and the Allman Brothers can feel like freedom (“Freedom’s just another word for nothin’ left to lose…”)
  5. You meet some of the nicest people in jail. True story.
  6. While we definitely need to be protected from the evils of society, we need to educate and battle all the evils of child abuse. That’s where the action is. That’s where most of it all goes wrong.
  7. Sometimes the jailers should be the ones on the inside.
  8. Family. Family. Family. While “walking through the Valley Of The Shadow Of Death” I would choose to walk it with my family. They are those that lift us up the highest.
  9. That which does not kill us truly does make us stronger. When the worst things you can imagine happen to you, and you survive them, there’s not much left to be afraid of. Now THAT is freedom.
  10. Service really does assuage our pain. When we are in the worst experiences of our lives, the opportunity to give meaningful service to another is our only respite. It makes sense to use that tool when we’re not in pain because that’s when it brings true joy.

Carl Jung Said It Best

This morning I woke up and the day did not lay before me in a clear, flowing opportunity. In fact, I don’t know how I’m going to live through this day, no less the entire week. This is not some sort of dramatic Emo Manifesto. ImageNo, I’m quite certain I will survive this day as well as the week, the odds are in my favor for it, it’s just that I’m not sure how to really live it.

There are stories to be written and paintings to paint and children to be managed and housework to be done. There are plans to be made and hugs to be given and I’m just not sure where to place my shovel as I dig into this delightful pile of choices and options that is my life. Even in the middle of writing this I was invited to go mountain biking today. What to do? What to do?

One of the most unattractive things I think we do as humans is believe we know the answers for everyone else. We look at people’s lives and think we have some sort of pat answer for how they should handle their challenges as well as their options.

“Oh, you should definitely have more than two children.” I’ve heard people say.

“You DON’T want to go into that field of study. There’s no money in it.” Someone will advise a student.

“Well if you want to do that, you have to do THIS first.” A short sighted person will happily inform someone at a crossroad.

ImageWhile I think the finest course of action for a would-be brain surgeon is certainly medical school, many of our options in life are up for interpretation. There are as many ways to live our lives as there are people living them.

You can tell I’m from small town Idaho when I use one of my favorite sayings, ‘There’s more than one way to skin Imagea cat.” (A disturbing saying, to be sure. In all my years of living in Idaho, we never once, not once! did we ever skin a cat in any way, shape or form.)

So my days and my weeks and my months lay before me. I have options galore and I’m just not sure how to live through them. I suppose one day at a time is the first choice I’ll make. I think choice number two will involve the wisdom of the sages, I’ll try and throw in a healthy dose of service to add meaning to it all. I’ll follow my heart and my passions, I’ll try to live in the moment, and just because this opportunity doesn’t knock on my door very often, I think I’ll go mountain biking this morning. Why not?

While I like my cat saying very much, I think Carl Jung said it best;

“The shoe that fits one person pinches another; there is no recipe for living that suits all cases.”

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Serendipity Is A Choice

Yesterday the sun was shining and I had a full schedule. Book club would be followed by shopping for the wedding reception I was going to attend, a short break before the baby shower I was going to and then off to the airport to pick Aaron and Zoe up, then over to the Kelly’s to pick up Chase, and finally home.

Except I’m a dork, and that’s not how it worked out at all. Well, especially the middle part.

Yesterday I enjoyed a stimulating book club, complete with delicious food and delightful women. I went to a gluten free bakery from there (It would be wrong not to give a shout out to New Cascadia. They are SOOO good!). I went to Target, where the happy couple is registered, to get gifts for the reception as well as the baby shower, and this is where things went off track.

I checked the invitation for the reception again, just to be sure of the details, and found that I was over a month early for it. It’s in June. 

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This is where I spent four hours. It didn’t suck.

So I’m a good drive from home (because we live in the middle of NOWHERE). It’s 2 o’clock in the afternoon and I have 4 1/2 hours before my next event. Not a huge fan of shopping… nowhere to go… I started to feel anxious. I started to feel annoyed and frustrated. I even tried to figure out who to blame for this. It was me, and I’m not into self blame, so I let that one go.

What ensued was the most magical afternoon I’ve had in many years. I found myself at an historic, little church near Oregon City. The weather was perfection, not too hot, not too cold and just enough shade and breeze to have to take a moment to wonder if this is what heaven is.

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This is how I spend my free time.

I had nowhere to go and nothing to do. I mean, I didn’t have anywhere to go. What I did have was a Coke Zero, a gluten free Margherita pizza, my iPhone with its hot spot and my iPad. I had my sketch book, a gluten free vanilla cupcake and hours to lay on the grass and look at the view.

I watched clouds. I talked on the phone. The time mosied. It was simply heavenly.

What started out as a ridiculous mistake that took a huge chunk of my day and caused me a bit of anxiety turned into a wonderful afternoon that was worth many hours of therapy. I literally laid on my back and watched clouds float by, never once feeling the pull of something else that needed to be done.

The turn around happened only because I’ve heard people say several times through the Imagelast few days “Nothing happens without a reason.” 

I sat in the Target parking lot deciding whether I should forget the shower and just go home and beginning to berate myself, when I decided to ask myself what the reason might be. Why did I seemingly carve out four whole hours for myself with absolutely nothing to fill them? I don’t know, but maybe God, or the universe, or my subconscious or higher self does.

What I know, is that there is restorative value in laying on the grass and watching clouds roll by and eating cupcakes and drawing pretty pictures. I might be a four year old after all, our interests are sure similar.

My hope is that when we find ourselves in puzzling and even frustrating situations, that we look for the reasons. I want to believe there are no coincidences and spend my life searching for meanings. I think that’s where the magic is.

It’s Weird, Embrace It

I usually have a painting workshop on Fridays. I, along with more than a dozen other artists, head out to beautiful, varied locations here in the Northwest. We’ve painted in downtown Portland, in the gorge, in Yamhill County wine country as well as here on our humble, little farm. This Friday, however, as well as the next, our fearless leader is in Peru. No “mini vacation” for me.

We are having unseasonably beautiful weather and yesterday the sun shone like a shiny diamond on a pretty woman’s finger. It was dazzling. On Thursday I used our fortunate weather to do some gardening, gather “fertilizer” and clean out the horse stalls. It was satisfying work, but Friday is Art Day. It just is.

I gathered my mobile art supplies and headed out the door. I wasn’t overly adventuresome, but I did go by myself and I found a great place to paint on officer’s row at Fort Vancouver. The weather was absolutely perfect and my soul was rejuvenated from a dash of Vitamin D and time spent with a brush in my hand.

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Unfinished, perhaps without merit. We’ll see where it ends up…

My painting, however… I decided to head down a different direction yesterday. I thought I’d tone down the colors and tweak a few things. I wanted my art to be more like the other artists I paint with, not quite so whimsical. Sometimes, this natural style that flows out of the brush embarrasses me. It doesn’t look like everybody else’s. 

Here is the truth, I can find it unfortunate, or I can accept it, either way it is the truth: Every time I try to paint “like someone else”, each time I deny the natural style that is authentically my own, my painting turns out “less than.”

You know what I’m talking about. Whether you paint, or write, or are a mathematician, whether you’re a brilliant housekeeper or a fantastic cook, no matter what you do, if you try to be someone else, if you try to dress like someone else or speak like them instead of who and what you really are, that’s when things stop being bright and exciting. That’s when we lose who we are and become something shabby and counterfeit.

What I’ve come to understand is not that I can’t learn from those around me, but that I have to embrace what I am and add to that without losing my authenticity. I have only discovered this through my art. For years I’ve thought I should be more like, talk more like, dress more like someone else and then I would be “more” than when I’m just being me. 

This is wrong thinking. Each of us has innate characteristics that make us unique to this planet. Because we bring something just a little bit different than anyone else ever could, because we are unique, we are valuable. Rather than try to shy away from the things that make us look, act and feel different, we need to become the very best us that could ever be.

The only way to do this is to embrace our “weird”. We have to know it, look at it and hold onto it as if it were our life vest in the troubled waters of our world. Because it is. Being our authentic selves will ultimately save our lives.

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This is who I am. I do not apologize.

I’ve decided to own my style. I’ve decided that I will gather all the tools and skills and experience that I can, so that I can hone that style into something lovely, but I will always do it in a way that magnifies my style, not replaces it. Yes, I need to learn from those around me. We all do, but then we apply those lessons to who we are, not replacing ourselves with someone else, only amplifying who we already are.

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Sometimes I wear these and I’m not sorry.

Saturday, in my mind is a play day. If you recognize the traditional weekend then Saturday is a little more open, a little more loose. What a perfect day to embrace our “weird” and be ourselves and never apologize for what and who we are. Let’s wear those shoes that are a little more colorful than our friends wear. Let’s sing out loud and use the words that feel comfortable in our mouths and be exactly who we are in exactly the style that God gave us. Further, let’s honor and embrace those brave souls around us who are doing the same.

“The privilege of a lifetime is to become who you truly are.” 
― C.G. Jung

 

NaPoWriMo

To Write & To Bleed

Sometimes I bleed through
my fingertips
and onto this computer
screen.
And I can’t help
but leak my life
all over this metaphorical
page.

I am a spicket
that cannot be shut off.

But sometimes,
I poke and I prod
at my slim, cold fingertips,
willing the scant blood
to drip,
drip,
drip.
Begging it to say something.
Say anything.
Come to life.

Stingy blood,
thin and weak.

And there is also the
grace,
when it is your words
that are my transfusion.
And I walk away
from the Etherworld,
renewed.

Ten Things To Make Life “Smarter”

My youngest child is going to be 15 years old this summer. Even so, I can’t help but click on every link that advises me on how to raise smart children. I don’t know if I do this to test myself, or if I’m still trying to make sure that I’m doing a good job for the few remaining full time parenting years I have left. 

Whichever, I feel like I scored pretty well (Music lessons, check. Nutritious meals, check…),Image and I started seeing that much of it is common sense. So I’ve come up with a list of things we should each be doing in our lives to make them.. smarter.

Yes. We should all have smart lives. My scientific research is as follows: None. But I’ll try to back them up with anecdotal evidence, or I’ll just make stuff up as we go:

  1. Always tell the truth. It makes it easier to remember how your story line goes and people will like you more.
  2. Exercise. I know that’s sort of a “Sunday School answer” but it’s good for your body. It’s good for your brain. 
  3. Eat things that grow from the ground and look like they did when they started. An apple that is now in the shape of a cow and is chewy doesn’t count. 
  4. Play games. I don’t really care what kind. It can be card games with your kids or mind games with yourself (the fun kind, not the mean kind), just play. There should also be prizes involved.
  5. “Never compare yourself to others, you will become vain and bitter. There will always be those persons greater and lesser than yourself.” This is from a poem called Desiderata. We all do it. Let’s just stop. Now.
  6. Do scary things, but not the kind that will likely send you to the hospital. I mean the kind where you might fail or people might laugh at you. Do them every day. It makes your scary muscles stronger so you can do scarier things tomorrow. This will make your life smarter. All the studies prove it.
  7. ImageEat blueberries. They are actually proven to make you smarter. I didn’t make this one up. 
  8. Be kind to puppies, babies, kittens, waiters and old people. You will hopefully be one someday. Old, not a puppy. Though that wouldn’t be so bad now would it?
  9. Laugh as much as you possibly can. Though sometimes it’s good to hold back lest you seem like the heartless person at the funeral, or the crazy person at church (I know this one from personal experience.)
  10. Love when you don’t want to. Forgive when it’s the hardest thing you’ve ever done. Find joy in the simple things. Assume you’re in every situation to serve. Know that there is something to learn from every person you meet.

 

 

Couch Surfing or Brian Tracy Said It Best

For some reason I could not sleep last night. I was just so very uncomfortable in my body. IImage twisted and turned in bed until I finally decided to give the couch a try. It was a vast improvement, but even so, I had to make the decision to feel “terrrrrIFic!” this morning.

I learned this trick while Mr Dreamboat was at Camp Fun & Games. I made a habit of listening to Brian Tracy‘s “The Psychology Of Achievement” during that time. On it, Mr Tracy’s voice is charmingly old fashioned as it was recorded in the early 1980’s. His inflections cheered me and each time I listened I felt, well, I felt “terrrrrIFic!”

The premise I used was that if we were waking up each morning to something we loved and we were excited about our day, no matter how the night’s sleep had gone we would feel energetic and ready to embrace the day before us. It’s all about the mind set.

ImageSeveral years after Mr D returned we had the opportunity to meet and have dinner with Brian and his lovely wife in San Diego. I told him how much he’d helped me during that time. He shared that he’d recently battled cancer and every morning, no matter what, his maid would walk in the house asking how he was feeling. Every day, without fail he felt terrrrIFic! 

I hope you feel terrrrIFic! today. And if you don’t, I hope you decide that you do.

“The happiest people in the world are those who feel absolutely terrific about themselves, and this is the natural outgrowth of accepting total responsibility for every part of their life.”

                                                                                                                            Brian Tracy

NaPoWriMo

1922 and 1967

if you were born in 1922
and i was born in 1967
and we didnt meet until
you were very old
i dont think we would
fly kites together.
i dont think we would
go golfing or watch
the same kind of movies.
you wouldnt eat sushi
and i wouldnt like elevator music.
but thats not the only way
to be friends

if you were born in 1922
and i was born in 1967
and we didnt meet until
you were very old
we could talk about
our lives and laugh
at the same jokes
and you could give me
advice when i was
very upset
and i could pick you
up and drive you
places whenever
you needed.
i think we could
be very good friends
and we would find
our own way to do it.