Monthly Archives: January 2015

punch today

How To Be A Punk Ass Kid ~ The Best Post I Never Wrote

My young friend, Katie is on a Grand Adventure in Paris. She writes me the best letters and generously gave me permission to share the one I received in the mail yesterday.

This is, perhaps, the best post I never wrote.

“Auntie M:                                                                                                      10:18 PM
Dec. 10
This is a letter entitled:

“How To Be A Punk-Ass Kid”
A few weekends ago I bought this absolutely gnarly hunting jacket from a thrift store in an area of town near Chatelet. It’s dark blue, fleece-ish lined, with corduroy on the collar and sleeves. It smells like one giant mothball. It blurs the line between charming and horrendous. I wear it almost every day.

Here’s the thing: I like it because it makes me feel like a punk ass kid. I’ve totally sought out ways to achieve this feeling for most of my adolescence, if not my life, and it wasn’t until I bought this wicked coat that I found the words to describe what I’ve been going for all this time.

I spent pretty much all of high school squirming. I felt trapped by a lot of things. A religion that just didn’t fit, despite its good intentions. A school system that seemed to place emphasis on all the wrong things. My own expectations of myself, (crafted in large part by the former two areas) which I had sadistically placed out of reach of any actual human, especially little old me. I was consumed by a feeling of powerlessness. All these institutions seemed to showcase my failure and trivialize my accomplishments. This is the worst thing I have ever felt.

Somewhere in there I started to take that power back. I tried lots of things. I wanted ownership of myself. I wanted to take action. This, I think, is a piece of the psychology behind my history of self harm. I was just so tired of feeling helpless in the face of other people’s standards – especially the standards that I had at some point picked up and refused to let go of. Making a mark on my body felt like empowerment. Keeping that a secret felt like ownership. It was misguided and unhealthy. But in retrospect, I see it as the sad, backwards cousin of true punk ass kiddery.

Because that’s what it’s really about. That’s what it’s all about, maybe. Just completely owning it. Owning yourself. Taking

Nailed it!
Nailed it!

initiative, ruffling feathers, doing what you want fearlessly and triumphantly, and taking the consequences.
There were a few times there, in my distant youth, where I wanted to get in trouble. I threw parties at my house and would leave something out of place. Just one empty beer can or I would just tell my parents flat out or I would open the door to the party outside, knowing that my uncle was in the house. I wanted confrontation. I wanted to get yelled at, kind of, until I realized my parents were not really the people I wanted to confront. This was the stupid cousin of the Punk Ass Kid.

I think I actually really nailed it with the tattoo. A pure show of Punk-Assedness in maybe its original form. I love that it wasn’t random, or a result of intoxicants or a last-minute decision. I love that I did it only for myself and didn’t post an Instagram picture of it. I like that I came up with the design, and that I can shift the meaning depending on my mood. These days it mostly resides beneath the left sleeve of the hunting jacket, but I can still feel where it is.

It occurred to me, while writing this, that all of the great goals in my life are woven together, feed into each other, or are maybe all the same thing. Finding balance, finding peace, staying focused on ~the now~, taking ownership of yourself and your actions and your beliefs. It’s all just being a Punk Ass Kid.

XOXO

Katie”

Like, share, comment, tweet and let us all dream of becoming Punk Ass Kids.

be-the-light

What You Mean To Me

On Wednesday evening, with all the energy I could muster, I went to the Ground Zero Zombie Apocalype Grocery Store to buy wilted spinach. Though my recipe didn’t call specifically for “wilted” spinach, it’s all they had available and so that is what I got. At least they had the decency to discount it.

Anyway, I made my way to the checkout stand and who should be there but Positive Attitude Clerk?
“Hi there!” she greeted me with her positive attitude voice. “How ARE you?”

“Great!” I lied. I mean, she wasn’t asking about my virus, she was asking about my attitude. I really didn’t want to let such a happy woman down.

“I blogged about you,” I admitted, thinking maybe she’d be dazzled by her virtual notoriety.

“I blogged about you,” she countered.

Um…

Turns out Positive Attitude Clerk has a blog. I bet it’s perky. She went on to explain that it’s people like me who make her like her job.

“Grouchy people?” I asked.

“No. People who are willing to be real and engage with me. So I blogged about you.”

I admitted I named her “Positive Attitude Clerk.” I couldn’t tell if she took it as a compliment or not. I can’t imagine it would have gone well if I’d told her she’s working at the Ground Zero Zombie Apocalypse Grocery Store. I kept that part to myself.

What strikes me about this mutual interest is that we do, indeed, impact one another. Our thoughtless comments, be kindsimple acts and brief interactions act as blights and blessings. We are not islands. Our thoughts become things and those things touch the lives of the people around us. Sometimes far beyond those who surround us.

We matter. Each of us matters. No matter how insignificant we feel, no matter how unimportant or invisible, we are in reality, none of those things.

We matter. You matter.

Tread lightly on the precious souls you encounter.

Like, share, comment, tweet and can I get an amen?

dirty laundry

A Little Complication Called Drugs

It is a peculiar characteristic of human beings that the moment we afford ourselves a bit of leisure we find ourselves on our sick beds. How many times has a vacation brought on the worst of infection or a most vicious cold virus?

And so it was after a very busy week followed by an even busier weekend, once my house was empty of all guests and obligations, I got sick. Deluged by all sorts of aches and pains, I availed myself of some pain medication that made me even sicker.

I’m definitely not the girl who understands prescription medication addiction. They just make me feel gross. I just don’t feel like I can get any sort of dependable addiction going with feeling gross. I’m not even willing to try.

I spent almost the entire day yesterday on the couch, un-showered and without motivation to move. I may or may not have eaten wasabi chips for dinner. That’s how serious the whole thing was.

How did we survive our little inconveniences without Netflix? I suppose we limped through a good virus with day-time

I remember... BOOKS!
I remember… BOOKS!

television but if you ask me that’s no way to live.

They know me so well at Netflix. I really feel like they truly care, know my tastes and just want me to be happy. And sedentary.

Midway through the day Netflix simply insisted I watch a British series called Death Comes To Pemberly. It was three hours of diversion and in a crunch ,with both a virus and a pain reliever hangover, three hours is a nice bit of time that can most certainly be spared.

By the time this illness-inflicted binge was coming to a close I was feeling a bit better. I even considered getting off the couch. All’s well that ends well as they say.

Even though I wouldn’t have chosen to feel ill, and even though there is certainly a part of me that considers the day an entire waste of time, our bodies know best. When they tell us in no uncertain terms it is time to lie down, it’s time. How much more efficient it would be if we would simply listen to them before it becomes an emergency?

Under the circumstances I have to consider it time well spent. I must believe that because I took the time yesterday, that today will be a healthier day. And at the very least, I will take wise words from the series and I will believe them with all my heart:

“We must look to the past only as it brings us pleasure, and to the future only as it brings us hope.”

That alone made the day worthwhile.

Like, share, comment, tweet and try the herb aisle for pain relievers. Fewer complications.

happyt

Makes Me Happy ~ A List Of Ten Things

I’m definitely not a scientist. I’m pretty sure every science teacher I ever had is nodding their head vigorously in agreement. I’m not a scientist.

But I read a ton of scientific articles. I like to read studies and glean from them applicable information. And then, I can’t be certain I do this, but I suspect I do, I bastardize them, de-sciencify them and turn them into whatever it is I want them to be.

Today I take that special skill and, dare I say talent? Yes, I do. I take that skill and talent and I share it with you. You’re welcome.

Ten things that will make you happy and scientific fact will back me up:

1. Green smoothies make you happy. Here’s the science behind it: You eat green things that are sweet and good for you and it’s like yoga fo-yo-belly. And your belly tells your brain, “Good on ya! Let’s feel happy.” And then you do.
2. A bit of vitamin D is an amazing key to happiness. I read a book, well, I browsed through it at least, and it says all sorts of bad stuff happens to you when you don’t get enough of The D and like, a million percent of Americans don’t. The book is called The Vitamin D Cure. You can check my stats for yourself.
3. Meditation. What? You didn’t hear me the first time? Meditation. I know. I know I say it all the time, but have you done it yet? Do it and maybe I’ll stop nagging you then. Meditation makes you happy. Studies prove it. The End.
4. Speaking of studies, spending at least 5 minutes outside is proven to lift one’s mood. Notice it’s free? See how you might even get a bit of Vitamin D while you’re at it? Two birds, one stone.
5. Sometimes caffeine makes me smile and I’m not sorry. I like it and happytit likes me.
6. Science has proven time and time again that making inappropriate jokes at inappropriate times makes you happy. Okay, I made that one up. I’m just saying don’t take life so seriously. It’s all going to be alright. Relax. That part’s good, solid information.
7. Treat yo’self. Do something nice for you. It doesn’t have to be expensive or time consuming, but when you make time to do something special just for you, it’s like a birthday present from the friend who knows you best. Be your own best friend.
8. Speaking of being your own best friend, talk pretty to you. Say things you appreciate about you. Maybe you need to start slow, just observe when you’re not doing it and take note. Sometimes that’s what it takes to get on the path of feeling awesome.
9. Give it away. “What?” You might ask, “Give what away?” Well, there’s a pretty long list but we’ll start with just a few: Your kindest thoughts, your positive expectations, your help, money, creativity and well-being. Give it away with no thought of what you might receive in return. At the very least you’re making space for new good things. You’re going to need space, so give it away.
10. Get enough sleep. I’m totally not making this one up. The Dalai Lama said, “Sleep is the best meditation.” He’s a smart guy. Probably a better scientist than I am too. If you don’t have time to meditate at the very least make time for sufficient sleep.

Maybe they’re not all exactly scientific, but they’re all solid information. Take a few of ‘em out for a spin. Let me know what you think.

Like, share, comment, tweet and give it away. You’re gonna thank me.

possitive check

I Don’t Drink So I Drown My Sorrows In…

Oscar season is upon us and even though I don’t really take the cinema very seriously, I love the Oscars. My nephew, who is a fine cinematic critic once told me I was dead to him when I texted him live from the theater while I watched Paul Blart: Mall Cop.

In retrospect I think it was a reasonable response to the circumstances.

The Oscars are nothing to take lightly and part of that is true for me as every year we attend what has to be the best Oscars party ever.

And so I train for the event. I get in as many of the movies up for awards as I can. This year I have my work cut out for me, as I haven’t been much of a moviegoer. I blame the distance issues, the fact that we’re a geographical oddity, 40 minutes from everywhere.

Sunday afternoon, flanked by my family we saw only the second movie up for best picture I’ve yet seen.

It was brilliant, the acting impeccable, the story diverting and it left me with so much to ponder. Oh, did I mention the overwhelming depression and hopelessness I felt as well?

I cried. Without reference to the fact that I RARELY cry, and I really mean this, it is RARE, you may not receive the full impact of it. I cried. You understand me? Tears. A lot of them. I could have continued on for ages but I didn’t want to freak the kids out.

So I sucked it up and pretended I was fine and even with all that pretending going on I felt despondent.

Much as I tried, hours later I was still feeling the hopelessness of a well-made movie based on a real life story when I went to the grocery store.

“How are you today,” asked the chipper grocery clerk at what I like to think of as ground zero for the zombie apocalypse. I’m thinking a bad can of Spam overlooked on a shelf and BAM! Your first zombie is born.

Anyway, she asks me how I am and though I’m not an especially emotional girl, I give her the details.

“I’m cranky,” I explained. “I saw a movie with harsh, real life truths in it and I’m kind of in a tail spin. Also,” I added, “I don’t drink. Maybe I’ll drown my sorrows in…”

I was going to say ice cream when she interrupted me.

“A positive attitude?” She ventured to guess.

possitive checkJust like that I was able to begin the work of the turn around. Just like that I realized I was looking the wrong direction. I was looking backward at historic issues and not forward to future solutions.

It’s not a bad thing that my apple cart got upset by harsh truths. Sometimes we need to look at the past so we can more clearly navigate the future. Sometimes it’s important to feel bad so when we’re living fully in the light we can appreciate it completely.

I hope when the zombie apocalypse finally hits, Positive Attitude Clerk makes it out alive. We need more people like her repopulating the earth if you ask me.

Like, share, comment, tweet and start your Oscars training NOW!

Living Outside The Box ~ Michelle Church

On Friday morning, bright and early, I drove the many, many miles inherent in an event that is away from the Young Family Ranch & Zombie Apocalypse Sanctuary. I don’t mind the drive that much anymore since Deepak is my co-pilot via the audio books that keep me going every bit as much as the low gasoline prices do.

This was the first class since the end of October for me and I was glad to get back to my Friday ritual and pleased to be in the company of artists I both admire and like.

There in the chill morning air or the Northwest we settled into our folding chairs and we began to draw an antique fire truck on display at the Lake Oswego Fire Department.

I love art and I like to draw. That appreciation notwithstanding, I admit I was totally rusty. A craft of any sort requires consistent effort and it is not surprising to me that even though it’s been just a few weeks since I practiced, I felt awkward and the lines were tight. Without grace.

I wasn’t the only one. As each of us sat studying the intricacies of an automobile nearly 100 years old, we struggled and strained to capture the reality in a way that was beautiful even if only subjectively.

There are specific rituals my art teacher recommends. She likes us to draw with pens rather than pencils, she

mind = blown
mind = blown

recommends three or four rough sketches before any attempt at one’s main drawing or painting, and without exception, one must remember the four most important lines.

The four most important lines are simply these; before you start your composition, make a box. Then you draw inside the box. It’s amazing what the simple context can do for a drawing, taking it without effort from “meh” to “ooohhh”.

It’s a rule, and it’s a good rule to follow. And…

One of my fellow artists said as our fearless leader entreated us not to forget the box, “I hate the box. I always end up drawing outside of it.”

“That’s what it’s for,” she said, “you’re not supposed to work inside the box, it’s only to give you context, show you what’s important.”

If life is not an artistic event I do not know what is. Life is nuanced and striking and the colors and the elegant lines of it are so beautiful that I am sometimes brought to tears.

And just like in art, we need boxes. Boxes to give us perspective and dimension, boxes to help us know where to put things and when we’re getting too small. But the box isn’t the thing. It simply houses the thing. And it isn’t the point. The box is just to make a point.
By all means, live your life outside the box.

Like, share, comment, tweet and do something that breathes life into your art every day.

bill murray awesome

So I’m Standing In My Underwear…

Lately I’ve had a sort of “Entertainment Serendipity” that is hard to explain or understand. But I will try. You know I always try.

Several months ago I was taking the slow road to meet up with Mr Dreamboat at the beach. I was driving through an area where I am only mildly familiar with the roads when I looked up and noticed I was crossing Baker Street.

“Baker Street,” I thought to myself. “I love that song.”

I turned on the radio, changed the station and boom, the song was just starting. I know, right?!Totally spooky.

Jump a few months forward and Mr D and I are driving in the car and I say, “What’s that radio station that always plays Brandy? The radio goes on, we switch to said station just in time to tune into Brandy, perhaps the greatest song in the world… after Baker Street… and a bunch of other songs…

This last week my enviable skill entered the film realm. I thought about the movie Notting Hill and BOOM just like that it was featured on Netflix. Creepy, right? So obviously the movie gods were requesting an audience and I obliged. When the gods summon you, you answer.

So I watched it, and the next day, Mr Dreamboat randomly quotes it though he’d been out of town for the showing. That evening we went home and BOOM, it’s on the telly, like the gods aren’t convinced I got the message the first time. So I watched it again. Obviously.

That was it really. There didn’t seem to be any big messages in any of those circumstances, other than I think it’s evident I have Entertainment Extra Sensory Perception. I capitalized so you’re clear what an amazing gift this is.

It was this morning that I was walking out the door and I started channeling a character from the movie. Spike. If you’re going to channel one of the characters, it’s Spike you want.

As I walked out the door I spied myself in the mirror only in passing, but Spike was fresh in my head and complete with British accent I heard a satisfied voice in my head say, “Not bad, not bad at all…”

I cannot see a reason to EVER walk out the door and be anything but pleased. I lose nothing by feeling good about myself and gain everything when I embrace everything about me, warts and all.

Perhaps the story of Notting Hill is told through Spike’s wise and weird eyes. Maybe it’s not a story about a quiet bloke from London and an American movie star at all, but a story about a guy who embraces his inner freak-show and in the end finds true love.

After all, love can only be true if you’re being yourself.

Shall we?

Like, share, comment, tweet give yourself a knowing wink every time you walk out the door. “Not bad…”

My Favorite Addiction

Technically I would have been considered a bit of an alcoholic by the time I was 16 or 17 years old. It wasn’t an every day occurrence, but I followed modern day logic to “go big or go home,” and if I did drink, and I did drink, I did it up big.

And then one day I stopped and never had another drink. It was that simple. That fast.

Because addictions run in my family I assumed I had an addictive personality, you know, apples not falling far from trees and all. But upon closer inspection, by all appearances, I seem to have escaped the pattern.

I do not brag when I tell you I may have my minor obsessions from time to time, but by and large those obsessions fade, never taking me all the way down the path of extremism.

That said, if I were addicted to a few things, I would choose or claim the following habits:

1. I know you think I’m a weirdy, and I really can’t argue with you, but I love me some nightly flossing. Can’t get enough of it. Sure, every once in a while I run out of floss and miss a night, but it makes me feel squidgy and I run to the store to fill my floss coffers as quick as you please. Sounds like an addiction if you ask me.
2. From time to time I’ve taken my exercise routine to excessive degrees. Addictive degrees. Today I live in a land of regular and satisfying physical activity. Too much is too much, but enough is an endorphin high. Don’t mind if I do.
3. I’m sure I’ll graduate to some other drink at any given moment, but at this juncture almost every morning you can find me with a hemp milk latte in my hand. Yes, hemp is related to marijuana. No, it does not give me a high, but I do believe it is made with the blood of the war gods.
4. Sure, I’ve been counseled not to get obsessive with it, and yes, I can see myself going overboard if I’m not careful, but meditation is SO DAMN COOL. Seriously. I love it so much. It makes everything better. Everything. Hemp milk lattes taste better when you regularly meditate. Everything does.
5. Audio books. I’m not sure if this makes me dumber or smarter because I’m listening and not actually reading them, but I love them. Right now I’m indulging in hours and hours of Deepak Chopra. Aaaahhh…
6. I have a water bottle I’ve managed to hold on to for, what? Six months? Maybe longer. I need it with me at all times. Constant water intake makes me feel good and healthy and every time I use the same bottle, I count it as one more time I didn’t dump on Mother Nature.
7. I’m over the Chic-O-Stick, I’m even past the onion ring and beyond Coke Zero, may they live on in peace, but a sweet potato? May we always be close and personal. I see no reason not to eat them for every meal. And I swear I can see better what with the vitamin A and all.
8. Poor, poor Mr Dreamboat. I make him tell me things he loves about me on a regular basis. Like this, “What are three thingsfavorite addiction you love about me today?” And he obliges lovingly. Patiently. I’m not sure if he’s filling a hole in my heart or it’s cute. Doesn’t matter. I ask. He obliges. We win.
9. This is me being painfully transparent, but, I often check my blog stats obsessively. I mean, if things are going a bit viral, I totally get a buzz from checking in and seeing how many times you’ve shared me on Facebook. That’s two needy addictions in a row…
10. I’m addicted to self-help books. Thus the relationship Deepak and I are developing. What? Don’t judge.

Like, share, comment, tweet and do tell, what’s your favorite addiction?

Does Your “Plan B” Suck?

plan aA virtual friend of mine, a brilliant light in the world, recently wrote about Plan B. Plan A was lovely, and out of reach. An impossibility because fate is sometimes cruel and ugly.

And so my friend wrote about Plan B. Her Plan B is seriously inferior to her Plan A. It’s a shell of an option really, but at least at this point is her only option.

Ashana writes about the time and energy she’s spent pretending Plan B is not what it is. She’s worked very hard to point out the beauty, to only see the bright spots and walk through her days in love with what is surely an inferior product.

But an inferior Plan B is no Plan A regardless of how many frills and pearls you dress it up with.

You know I love a happy story and looking on the bright side of every possible situation. You know this. It’s quite possibly why you stop by from time to time. Perhaps just to see the flavor of today’s lemonade.

I’m still that girl, I still have that habit. And even so, one of the key elements of living a truly happy and authentic life is to take the moments from time to time and look at our disappointments, embrace the uglier rudiments of our regrets and acknowledge they are what they are.

If I pretend my frustrations are nothing but good and only fulfilling, I am expending precious energy on denial. It is just as dangerous to ignore our unsatisfactory truths as it is to dwell on them.

Ashana says it’s like dragging a child through the pouring down rain and trying to distract her by pointing out the spider web or the flower along the way. At some point you’re going to have to stop dragging, recognize what she’s trying to tell you and simply be in the rain with her.

Then and only then can the two of you make peace and walk on, no pretense between you. Only understanding.

Thanks, Ashana. We needed that.

Like, share, comment, tweet and relax. The truth will set you free.

I Will Never Treat You Like My Roses

Yesterday the gods of the northwest smiled upon their web-footed inhabitants and blessed us with blue skies. And we felt grateful. Grateful to live in such a beautiful, green place and obliged not to have the rain that makes it so.

It can be surprisingly challenging to sync up the time of year roses should be pruned with a willing schedule and no precipitation. Granted, I could prune them in the rain, but I am a wimp and boldly so.

Be that as it may, yesterday not only turned from drizzle to dazzle, but my schedule had a bright, empty spot in it and it is, indeed, that time of year.

It is entirely possible that this year is the first time I’ve not trimmed my roses on the slacker schedule. Seems an auspicious start to the New Year if you ask me.

So it was with energy and vengeance that I went after the gangly overgrowth in my garden. With Pandora playing the Wood Brothers in my ears and a “TAKE NO PRISONERS!!” attitude I went after the rangy stems and stalks. I cut them hard. I cut them deep.

I’m no rose-growing aficionado, I’m not even sure I qualify as a novice. More than anything, I’m a person who inherited the roses in-built here at the YFR&ZAS and feel an obligation to them.

rosepru3_400It’s a “learn as you go” sort of arrangement I have with them. They don’t seem to mind but still haven’t learned who’s boss.

As I stood in the glorious winter weather, headphones on and trimmers mercilessly gauging at the plants, I reveled in the rightness of it all. It felt both dangerous and violent, and yet…

At some time or another everything must be trimmed back in life. A road left to its own devices will quickly become overgrown by nature and unrecognizable to its passers-by.

Our lives are no different. And just like my roses, the painful trimming that begs to be done will no doubt bring about pretty buds, healthy growth and richer rewards.

This is more easily said than done. If you’re in need of some paring, some moral and mental support as you cut back the overgrowth in your life, let me know if I can help.

My new group coaching starts the beginning of February. If you prefer one-on-one help, no problem, I have hourly rates as well. It’s one stop shopping at Michelle At Play.

Rest assured, I’ll be gentler on you than I was to my roses. They were asking for it. That’s all I’m saying.

Like, share, comment, tweet and reach out to me at michelleatplay@gmail.com. And bloom!

Let's have THIS life!
Let’s have THIS life!