Monthly Archives: February 2014

Making Room For The Future

Every morning for the last few days I’ve received a morning video from none other than Mary Morrissey. I’d like to think they are especially made for me, but the truth is they are for anyone who is signed up for her training courses, which I happen to be. Very excited about this.

In yesterday morning’s video, Mary talked about making space. Someone once gave her advice about getting “unstuck” and the gist of it was to move three items in her office. Put them “away” or take them out entirely. Sometimes, in order to get things moving in our lives we need to, well, get things moving. Literally.

As soon as I watched the 3 minute video (you too can sign up for a week of them without joining the program), I knew. I knew exactly what needed to be cleaned out, what needed to move, where I was “stuck”. And it was going to take a lot longer than a few minutes.

In my bedroom, which I keep fairly tidy, on my side of the bed, I have accumulated, nay, amassed, an enormous amount of books. And some electronics. And an unreasonable amount of empty notebooks, mostly unlined. And receipts and hair ties as well as some over the counter pharmaceuticals. When I write it all out it sounds like it may have been messier than I was willing to admit to myself.

I knew exactly what needed to be cleaned out and I knew why. My corner of the bedroom wasn’t cluttering up my mind, my mind had cluttered up my bedroom. And going in reverse order, I began to unclutter that which had gotten away from me.

Unless you are an unusually tidy person, and if you are I salute you, but unless you are that person, your surroundings can sometimes get away from you. Mail and notes and the many, many “things” that you might need at any given moment are kept “at hand” and this can easily get away from us.

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I even added things I want represented in my future.

So this morning I dug in. I moved books and put things away and had more than a decent stack for Goodwill as well as a hefty recycling pile and a garbage sack of respectable size to boot.

It is not a simple thing to stay balanced in this world. In fact, I submit to you that it’s not a matter of staying balanced, but a matter of rebalancing on a regular basis. And that’s what these small shifts do.

My expectation is that there are good things on the horizon for me. And I know without a doubt that those things are going to take up some room, in my head, and perhaps in my room. So I’ve moved things around, cleared some things out and I’m ready. I’m ready for more goodness, more happiness and a space that is clean and tidy to receive me.

Low Expectations

It doesn’t sound very healthy when I admit that I didn’t have any great expectations for my life when I was a child. Sure, I dreamed of being a rock star and a poet, but in reality, I expected nothing much. Nothing exceptional. Nothing breathtaking.

I suspect it was because I didn’t know what to wish for. I didn’t realize how big and generous the world is. I think, at the end of the day, I didn’t want to have any grand plans because I didn’t want life to disappoint me.

You might take exception to this. I’d understand.

But really, having low expectations has served my quite well. It didn’t mean I didn’t try. It didn’t mean I didn’t yearn, even. What it means to me today, is that every opportunity that comes to me, every beautiful hotel I see or trip I go on, whether it’s three hours away or a European adventure, every single one, I am dazzled.

DSC_0037Dazzled by a chichi meal, delighted by a humble food cart, thrilled to speak to a small group or stand among five hundred to hear someone else teach. I’m happy when I’m alone, I’m so blessed to have those I love surround me. Life is beautiful and low expectations are a contrasting light that serves it.

And perhaps it’s not even low expectations, but a low threshold for joy that is to blame. It doesn’t take much to bring me delight. A kind word, a sunny day, an especially funny meme and someone wanting to share it with me. That’s the stuff right there.

I freely admit that I have big dreams for my life. I’ve had a good deal of exposure to the world at this point in my journey and there are some high bars I’d like to clear. My plans have most certainly changed.

What hasn’t changed is that regardless of how my plans turn out, I understand the thrill is in the journey, not in accolades. I recognize that “breath taking” is a daily event that simply takes more focus than the average person is willing to give and I understand that life, itself, is dazzling.

It feels good to feel good and perhaps, sometimes, it takes low expectations to get us there.

A Grand Adventure

I live in my head a lot. It’s part of the reason I love blogging. I live in my head and it gets really crowded up there with things that I’m thinking and ideas and philosophies. So I come to my blog and I post a post and it’s like I’ve rented a storage unit for my thoughts. I put a few things down on the white “pages” of my blog and when I’m done, there’s more room to move around in my own head. Blogging as therapy. And it’s free. Bam!

A current cranial conversation I’m living, and dropping off for storage with you, dear reader, is about reality. 

My reality this morning is a cold, North wind playing loudly on the wind chimes outside my bedroom window. The air is brisk andImage the morning light looks infused with the New Gamboge paint from my pallet.  I don’t know why. I slept in purposefully and the remainder of the day lays out before me in a languid opportunity. One I will certainly take.

There are a variety of ways I could look at my day. I could feel bad about myself  for sleeping in. I could throw a bunch of obligations in it to stress myself out. I could certainly lament the fact that I don’t feel very well. But life is exactly what we believe it is. It’s that simple and nothing more. It IS what I believe it is and rather than have it prescribed for me, I choose how to see it.

There is a cold wind blowing outside my window and the sound of the wind chimes is charming, homey. I chose to sleep in because I have the flexibility to do so and for that I am deeply grateful. I think, perhaps, this autoimmune “thing” I’ve dealt for much of my life is an opportunity to appreciate health. Nothing life threatening, the dis-ease is sometimes frustrating but not life altering. I like to think of it as a place I learn great lessons.

My point is only that our lives are precious. Exactly as they are; dirty laundry, messy relationships, physical ailments, et al. They are precious and perfect in their wabi sabi glory. And when we look at the whole picture of them, as best we are able, and we see only the flaws, the imperfections and the areas that most need improvement, it is then that we are simply looking through the wrong lenses. We don’t need new lives, we need new perspective.

When we can see all the good, when we focus on what is so grand and glorious, that’s when the other stuff isn’t so bad, or isn’t so bad that we can’t change it with a few shifts here and there.

Life can be anything you choose to believe it to be. I choose a grand adventure. That’s my reality. What are you choosing?

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Hit & Run

I am suffering from an unavoidable collision

with a sleeve of

Girl Scouts Thin Mints.

You go along in life, and you think you’re doing fine and

Out of nowhere,

when you least expect it

those Little Demons come and side swipe you in a

Heartless Hit and Run.

 

And you pay for it.

Oh you pay for it up front and you pay for it

On the way out.

To the trash can.

Empty sleeves and

Chocolate stains on your shirt

And on your heart.

 

My insurance company says they don’t cover

this sort of

Incident.

This Is Not A Food Blog ~ A List Of Ten Things

I have been on vacation for 9 days. First with Mr Dreamboat in California, and then a beach trip with my Mother. I enjoyed myself quite a lot and made some art I’m pretty excited about. I saw interesting things and went to movies and all in all it was a great success.

And now I’m home. And I have no regrets. Except for the fact that I’ve been vacation eating for 9 days. Don’t get the wrong idea. I wasn’t gorging every minute. But there were some liberties taken. And this has to come to an end. Here are ten things I probably shouldn’t have eaten:

  1. Food:  Malted milk balls, though I suppose calling it “food” is being generous. Where: Newport, Oregon. Why: We were at the movie. I wonder if popcorn would have been less indulgent.
  2. tower of sugarThere was this awesome tower of burnt sugar with my dessert. Food: Straight sugar, which really can’t be called a food on its own, it’s more like an ingredient, Where: The White House Restaurant in Anaheim, Why: Because it was my anniversary and there was something about eating artistic food that made me keep going. And now my teeth are rotting out of my face.
  3. Food: Tortilla chips, Where: A swap meet in Southern California, Why: There was something uniquely trashy about the whole adventure and so I indulged. And I’m not sorry. They were really good.
  4. Food: A grilled peanut butter and apricot jam with bacon sandwhich, Where: Downtown Portland at a food cart, Why: Because it was something fun to introduce to my mother who was in town visiting.
  5. Food: Moonstruck Chocolate, Where: The Great Escape beach house in Lincoln City, Oregon, Why: Because I was trying to indulge my mother, which was perhaps some subconscious justification on my part to eat really decadent chocolate.
  6. Food: Some stupid snacks in a gift bag at an event I attended in San Diego, Where: My hotel room, Why: Because I was stressed and blueberry fig newton style cookies were my only option. I regret this as well as the companion granola bar.
  7. Food: Fried oysters, Where: Joe’s Crab Shack in Newport. Why: Because it seemed thematic for the beach, if now healthy.
  8. Food: Bread. Where: Pretty much every restaurant I have recently patronized. Why: Why indeed. One night, you get really hungry and you think, “Why not eat this dinner roll?” The correct answer is, “Because you are gluten intolerant.” But it was a snow ball affect and now it’s time to pay the piper.
  9. Food: That giant container of Tic Tacs. Where, Lincoln City Safeway Parking lot. Why: I hula piedon’t know. I really don’t. I bought ’em. I ate ’em. Can we just let dead Tic Tacs lie?
  10. Food: Hula Pie, Where: This really cool restaurant called Duke’s on the pier in Huntington beach. Why: Because it was called hula pie. And it was delicious. And what’s done is done. It’s time to move on.

I question the existence of God. This scares some people. Some will turn away. The person it scares the most, of course, is me. It’s much better to believe in a loving and benevolent Being than to imagine we’re all going it alone. But sometimes, when I’m at my most cynical, when I’m being erudite, or maybe when I’m just the most afraid, that’s when I wonder.

The questioning is not something I enjoy nor is the lack of belief something to which I aspire. Years ago when I read The Life Of Pi it finally occurred to me that believing in The Divine was a choice. We get to choose the story that most suits us. The one that brings us the most joy, the story that will help us on our life’s journey the most.

So I choose God. I know it neither diminishes nor strengthens His (we’ll use the masculine form today) cause. But I suspect is strengthens mine. Not so long ago I read a book by Karen Armstrong called The Case For God. When I mentioned it to a respected theologian author, the man looked at me and said, “God needs a case?” Um… I guess not…

Unless you’re like me. Unless you look at religion sometimes and wonder about some of the strange and nonsensical ways God is expressed in them. And don’t get me wrong, I’m not criticizing or complaining. I’m just saying to me things don’t always make sense. And so… I question.

I sometimes envy those whose faith, it seems to me, comes so easily. I know people who tell me they’ve always had a testimony. The way it works for me is something more like Paul Simon’s lyrics, “Sometimes when I’m falling and flying or tumbling in turmoil, I say, oh, so this is what she means, she means we are bouncing into Graceland.”

The other day in a moment of brutal honesty I called myself agnostic. This was terrifying for me. I put a name to my questions and feared they would become bigger questions if I said them out loud.

And what happened, probably because I was in a safe and non-judgmental environment, what came to me was not that I don’t believe in God anymore. No, what I believe has simply shifted. I see Him (again with the masculine) as something different than I believed before.

It reminded me of the story of the blind men in a room describing ablind men & elephant large object. Each of them were emphatic in what they were describing; a tree trunk, a snake, a spear. Because they couldn’t see, they had no way to know each of them was accurately describing just a portion of the truth: An elephant.

So I wonder about all the different religions and I wonder about the true nature of a God that transcends what we could ever fully understand on this portion of our journey. And I think it’s okay. I think we’re all just bouncing into Graceland as best we can.

Each day is a fresh beginning, wrote the poet Susan Coolidge. Whether it is a fresh start on a tiresome trudge or a new opportunity to live more deeply is, to some degree, a choice.

Some days, some life events are challenging reminders of how grand a boring day can be, but in every day there are moments of greatness. Each morning provides the possibility for delight. Here are ten things to bring delight and play to your day:

  1. I am a healthy living advocate. For sure. But beyond the organic arugula, past the perfect portions, lies a snack, a little flash of fun, a decision for delight. Have a treat, eat something smiley, treat your taste buds and revel in every bit of it.
  2. Do what you do every day, day in and day out, just a little bit differently. Do it in a different place, go about it in the opposite order. Shake it up. Preferably with dance tunes and a saucy grin. The grin is key.
  3. For one day, don’t do anything that doesn’t make you happy. Just don’t. Maybe you’ll have to find a desert island, but find that island and only do things you want to do. Only those. Dust bunnies be damned!
  4. Pretend everything is awesome and look only the evidence that supports your fairy tale.
  5. All day, genuinely compliment others. Only. Express gratitude. No matter what. All day.
  6. Get enough sleep. By “enough” I mean as much as your body wants.
  7. Choose one thing you’ve been wanting to do and do it. Don’t worry about “should”s no one ever dies regretting they didn’t wipe down the counters before the curtains closed.
  8. Use every moment that presents itself to laugh. If it’s slightly funny, GO! Watch things that make you laugh. Look up youtube videos that are funny. But laugh. A lot.
  9. Talk pretty to yourself. Love yourself right now. Today. Just as you are. Say kind things in your mind. Woo you.
  10. Relax. Even if it’s sitting at your desk. Take a few breaths and know that you’re lucky to be alive. And we’re lucky to have you.

 

Here’s some help!

Tony Danza Is A Teacher

Tony Danza is a school teacher. Well, he was one for a year. Hank Aaron owns a BMW dealership and George Foreman sells a Imagekiller grill. I usually buy mine at Goodwill because people don’t know how awesome they are. Go after Christmas. There will be a few, never used little gems available. Again, you’re welcome.

One of the things that fascinates me about us as human beings is our inability to decide. I’m the worst at this. Mr Dreamboat often reminds me when we are ordering at a restaurant that “this” will not be our last time out. It doesn’t have to be the “right” order. It’s just a meal, and I should relax and order something. Before the end of time. If you don’t mind.

So you know I’m not judging when I say it is disheartening to me when I’m working with my coaching clients and their worst problem is a wishy-washy-I-just-don’t-know-what-to-do-with-my-life attitude. I can’t even decide what I want to have for dinner. This whole life thing is far more intimidating.

But I am in the business of finding answers. It could even be said it is both my vocation and my avocation. Ever searching. Always searching.

While  deciding what we want to do with our life, our home, our family or the garden, it’s important to remember life isn’t a game show. There is no, “Is that your final answer?”

While big deals like, say, who you marry and what your degree is in will certainly have an element of finality to them, even those things have options.

There are times when we paralyze ourselves to the point of not being able to move at all. We look at all the directions we could turn, all the different entrees and their various sides and we sit still at the table of life and we go hungry at the feast.

The feast, my friends, goes on and on.

Just because you studied economics, and maybe even got a job in the field, it doesn’t mean that on the weekends you can’t dabble in a bluegrass band. The fact that you work in a bank doesn’t mean you don’t get to study art in community courses. Or choose something different entirely. It can be done. Really. Look at Tony. Buy a grill from George.

If you ordered steak today, eat sushi tomorrow.

Everything is available to us. It’s all there on a menu and every day we wake up with fresh choices before us and no obligation to choose what we chose the day before.

It’s a feast. Life is a feast, let’s move beyond the soup course.

The Preacher Of Play

Michelle At Play is about life. It’s about living it in a way that brings us joy. I, not ordained, but nonetheless feel the call, preach Play. I preach play the way a recovering alcoholic preaches sobriety. And every day I feel the pull of obligations and the life I thought I was supposed to be living. I hear it call me, “Be appropriate.” “Work for your worth.” “You can never do or be enough.”

And daily I remake the decision to walk away from the haunting, damning message.

Make waves! And don’t take yourself too seriously! These are my battle calls now. Do things that make you happy and love yourself to pieces. Confetti pieces, floating through the air in a grand spectacle of life. I choose these.

I find myself at an event in San Diego, California and once again I am having the opportunity to meet interesting and accomplished people. They come from all walks of life and often they are self employed or entrepreneurs. They teach classes, sell real estate, energetically heal and any other thing you might imagine.

Now, were I at a conference for say… doctors, lawyers, brain surgeons or mathematicians, I don’t think my findings would be the same. But here, at an event for creatives, what I’m discovering is what we each do every day, all day long. Everyone is playing at it. Making it up as we go.

We’re getting up every morning and, if we’re growing, we’re playing at life. We’re trying to learn how to be the best “whatever-it-is-that-we-are” that we can be and in doing so, we’re playing at it. Faking it until we make it. No one path is right for all. Bushwhacking as a way of life! It’s exhilarating! Please don’t misunderstand. We’re serious as we can be. But in the good way. In the way that makes you feel alive.

So if we’re all just playing at our roles in life, if we’re making it up around a very basic set of rules, while we’re at it, we might as well play along the way.

So as Preacher of Play, I have these few thins to say:

  • Don’t take yourself too seriously. This makes mistakes feel fatal. Mistakes in life are generally not fatal. So relax.Image
  • Don’t assume everyone else is all over it and you’re the only one pretending you know exactly what’s going on. If we all stopped pretending maybe we would see more games of Red Rover during our lunch breaks. Now that would be a world worth celebrating.
  • Playing makes us feel happy and feeling happy makes us laugh more and laughter is powerful medicine and everyone wants the kind of medicine that doesn’t taste bad and has no harmful side effects.

I am not ordained to preach. I am in a constant battle against the voices in my head telling me to get back to work. Perhaps that’s why I’ve made play my work. Then the voices and I can both win.

Anyone want to play a game of Red Rover?