Tag Archives: choices

But Seriously, Is This Your Super Power?

If Mr Dreamboat has a super power, and truth be told he has many, then it would be his ability to find things. Far from becoming irritated when I lose things (… the same things… every day… and then other days I lose different, important things…), it seems he becomes ignited by the opportunity of a challenge and when he emerges, inevitably victorious, he gets a sheepishly proud look on his face and bestows me with the gift of the found object.

Sometimes I swear I can see his 8-year-old self beaming through.

And so it was that when Zoë lost her phone on the farm in a very deep way, we were all a little disappointed that Mr D was, and would remain, out of town for 8 more days. That’s a long time to go without one’s personal device in this day and age.

Each member of the family took turns and then as a team and searched for the missing phone for days and days. Zoë could be heard mumbling as she passed, “If I were a phone, where would I hide?”

On several different days the hall closet was completely emptied. The first time the focus was on coat pockets, the second was on shoes, the goat stalls were literally combed and yet the phone’s whereabouts remained a mystery.

The phone was lost on a dark and stormy Wednesday night. The following Tuesday morning presented itself as cloudy and then changed its mind like a moody middle schooler and surprised us with a sunny disposition. As my day unfolded the glistening air called me and I decided for a short farm meditation, holding goats and feeling fresh mountain air on my face.

As I put on my jaunty purple boots and told the home team where I’d be, Zoë requested I hold Nellie, our newest baby goat. That’s how you train them to hang out with humans.

I walked the short walk to the goat barn and went straight to Nellie and her mom. After I cornered the oh-so-adorable-kid I opted for yet another search for the phone.

Step-sweep-step-sweep, I snuggled Nellie while her mother dumbly searched for her. Look up you ridiculous goat.

And there it was, gleaming like an unearthed treasure, in all its phoney-glory… or rather, it was a bit dull with but a single goat poop marring its glorious face.

At that moment I felt my super hero cape flapping in the breeze. The sun shone even brighter and I knew I was the hero of the day… or at least five minutes… whichever comes first.

After the emotional reuniting of Woman & Phone, I wondered if a bit of Mr D’s magic has finally rubbed off on me and then I got to thinking. It wasn’t magic at all, at least in the way we’d like to think of magic.

The magic was in the perseverance. The magic was in not accepting the phone as lost, but in knowing if we just kept looking we would find it.

It is magic. It’s the kind of magic where we just keep working at it. We get up every morning and try again no matter how many times we fail.

Our dreams will magically come to us. And it’s just like Tinker Bell always promised, we have to keep our faith, trust and Pixie Dust.

Or if you live on the Young Family Ranch & Zombie Apocalypse Sanctuary, Goat Dust will work just fine.

20877_Baby-Goats-at-Play-Poster-C12291920

man box thumb

Does Anyone Know Where I Can Buy A Man Box?

I find myself in a dreary space as I write to you today. It doesn’t often come to me, but when it does I am gracious enough to entertain it for just a few hours before I remind it not to let the door smack it in the rear end as it leaves. For now, Cranky Pants, come and sit for a while…

It is on these uncommon occasions that I desperately wish for a Man Box. I’ve heard of them, I’ve even witnessed the use of them, yet never have I seen one and for the love of all that is holy, I would like to own a few.

man box
See how carefree he seems?

A Man Box, as I understand it, is a box, or a whole slew of boxes, where men put things. And when they put things like feelings and worries and snacks in the boxes, they are not thought of again until the box is purposefully opened at some later date.

Heaven. This sounds like heaven.

The way it works for women, at least this woman, is not at all like a box, or a room full of boxes, but like a big, oversized duffel bag. I think mine’s sort of a brick color, tattered and frayed on the handles from toting it with me everywhere I go.

In this duffel, I carry all the thoughts about all the things in my day, many from my week, a few from this year and there are even some that poke out the end from the beginning of time.

My duffel has room for the threat of natural disasters, fears for my children, my GPA from high school and some house projects that aren’t getting done as quickly as I’d like. So I carry them around with me. Every day. All. Day. Long.

The duffel rubs, scrapes and while it’s only a metaphor, I’m pretty sure carrying it around with me is the cause of an actual knot in my shoulder.

For this reason I would like to go to The Man Box Store. There I would pour my cash out for pretty boxes that could store natural disasters and GPA’s alike. I would put in them my worries for my children and I would store, even if it was just for the evening, my concerns over organic food, travel and pet vaccinations.

This would be far superior to snuggling up to a lumpy, brick colored, duffel bag that pokes me awake from time to time and takes up too much space in the bed.

If I could in fact find The Man Box Store, I am not at all convinced they would let me buy those pretty boxes, or even let me in. It would have something to do with XY chromosomes or some such nonsense. Rude. I imagine I would be sent away, woefully dragging my duffel bag behind me.

I suppose there’s nothing to do but empty out my tired, old bag, rifle through the things that matter, dump that nonsense about zombies, maybe review my actual food storage and get on with the business of happiness.

Their boxes probably aren’t even pretty anyway. Who needs ‘em?

the woods

The Darkest Days

the woodsOn the advice of a friend, I downloaded a book called The Morning Miracle. Ironically, not knowing exactly what it was, I began reading it in the mornings during my morning routine. Which is, of course, exactly what the book is about.

Regardless of the irony with which I practice my life, there was a lot to be learned in its digital pages and I’m a more rounded and grounded person because of it.

Perhaps the thing I like best about the book is the encouragement to get up early, embrace the alarm clock as if it were your best friend and begin the day as if it were going to be your very best. Perhaps the entire point of the book.

In the early rising, as we approach the shortest daylight hours of the year, I have encountered, in all her glory, the long, dark night. And she is lovely.

I fully admit that when the alarm first sounds I am dismayed and somewhat in denial. Surely Siri has made a mistake and all the electronic gadgets in the world have gone wonky and it’s not six a.m. at all, but a gently generous 3:30 a.m., begging me to stay beneath my warm covers.

Inevitably I come to the conclusion that it is truly time to arise and embrace the day.

Once my workout clothes are on, my teeth are brushed and I’ve vacated the room of retirement, that is when I become grateful.

Maybe even more than the benefits of rising early, is the opportunity to greet the day in the dark. The quiet hours of my very full home are blanketed in an uncommon deep, dark silence.

Out here at the Zombie Apocalypse Sanctuary, the fall and winter skies are almost always cushioned in clouds. Our remote location insures there is no such thing as “light pollution” and for what seems like only a breath or two each morning, I feel solitary but not alone. I can think for there’s not a word spoken and I am able to fully embrace the day before she becomes one.

It is truly delicious.

Ten Things I Know For Sure

I am in a constant state of wondering. It isn’t uncommon for Mr Dreamboat to admonish me, “You don’t need to analyze it, just give in.” Referring, of course, to whatever it is that is going on; my appetite that day, if I need a nap, my progress or lack thereof on a project. I can become downright tiresome. Even to me.

With all that I wonder and all that I ruminate on ad nauseum, there are a few things I simply know. I know in my bones and in my heart. At least I think I know them. I’ll ruminate on that and get back to you…

Until then:

IMG_09201. Love really does find a way. And it is a kind and gentle way. It persuades and nudges and stays firm in a foundation of generosity. Love’s the best.
2. We receive what we believe. If you don’t like what you get, then change your mind. No, simple doesn’t mean easy.
3. Pie, under the right circumstances is absolutely a breakfast food.
4. Staying connected to the earth in some way or another, going outside for a walk, wiggling our toes in the grass, is imperative to our balance and happiness.
5. Believing the best of circumstances and people is simply a better way to live.
6. Happiness isn’t a right. It’s an obligation to the fact we were even created. Our obligation back to Creation is to become our best, brightest and happiest selves.
7. People are good. There are a few clunkers, sure. But people are good and kind and want to help.
8. One time a woman told me she doesn’t like hemp milk lattes. She even made a face about it. For that alone she lost three Likable Points with me.
9. In every situation there is something to be gained, though the harder the situation the more challenging it might be to find.
10. Doing something you love every day isn’t a luxury but a necessity. It feeds the soul and we all know letting your soul go hungry is bad for everyone involved.

more happy

In Praise Of NOT Doing Your Best

This is not a post about excellence. It is a post about mediocrity. This post isn’t about doing your best. It’s about doing anything at all. This post isn’t about perfection. It’s about good enough. This post isn’t about bringing your A game. It’s about embracing a B-.

For weeks I have tried to write a post. I’ve even been successful three or four times. But the ideas weren’t coming and the posts weren’t excellent. And so I did nothing at all. Hard fail.

I don’t suppose everyone suffers from perfectionism or from “Pedestrian Paralysis”. No. Not everyone. But certainly none of us loves to know we could have done better and there are about a zillion people who “could have done it better” than us.

No. No one likes that.

In a society that elevates the savant and worships youth, we rarely praise The Plodder. And I think it’s a damn shame.

This is a mediocre picture and I embrace it. Mostly...
This is a mediocre picture and I embrace it. Mostly…

The Plodder, as described in literature, is a sorry sort of fellow, who without the grace of the Gazelle trudges through life. He employs no elegant gate, he simply moves along, moves along.

But I submit to you that were you to check back in with her somewhere after the story closes, you would find she’s gone miles and miles further than almost everyone else. Where others simply stay where life is safe, the progression of a good trudge can indeed be remarkable.

The couch dweller, perhaps hoping to be young again, maybe longing to be “the best” at something, anything, never moves at all and often criticizes the lowly place of those who act without perfection.

I admit to my paralysis. I somehow became afraid of the blank page, of what I might say that wasn’t quite perfect, not pretty or profound.

But I have the heart of a plodder, the soul of a person who knows how to doggedly persist. Deep down we each need to understand that in order to accomplish anything, we must first do it poorly.

And so I write this for you. Today. With no apologies.

Further, I invite you to trudge, to fail, to fall on your face and present the world with your most pedestrian mediocrity because if we don’t fail and fall, we will never fly.

Someday, I plan to fly. Come fly with me, friends.

selene

What Is Your Essence?

Sitting across from me at my kitchen table is a beautiful, young Latina. Her eyes are dark and round and her hair is shiny and lush. She is struggling to say something to me. I believe I understand what she intends but she remains frustrated. Not long after she excuses herself to go to the pool house where she is currently living.

Throughout the afternoon we sat together at the table, she, a young college student, and me, an incredibly youthful life coach. We had a lot to talk about. The learning and teaching baton passed back and forth between us as the hours passed. I love when that happens.

I cannot help but put on my Life Coach hat. I love what I do. It lights me up and inspires me to make bigger choices when I am teaching others. So when I have a college student in front of me. Poor girl…

It’s not entirely based on ego that I believe I taught Selene a few things. After all, what’s the point of living all these years if I have nothing to show for it? A conversation about daring and stretching and believing in oneself was just the order of the day.

In return, Selene taught me things about the Jewish household where she worked for a time, mixed right along with her observations about life. After all, what’s the point of living any amount of years if you have nothing to show for it?

Selene cleaned out my unkempt refrigerator and I did some work at my computer. The afternoon wore on and we dabbled in philosophy and Spanish and the absurdities that constitute a proper English sentence.

I imagine it was more than 30 minutes later when Selene returned that she looked far less troubled. Almost the moment she walked in the door she enthusiastically explained what she’d been trying to say.

“It’s not the cape you wear or the things you say that make me like you. It’s your essence that draws me to you.”

This is, perhaps, one of the kindest compliments I’ve ever received. Not only does it surpass the superficial, but it makes me wonder about the essence of other people, of circumstances, sentences, neighborhoods and ideas. It reminds me of the quote from the children’s book The Little Prince, “It is only the heart that can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to they eye.”

It is always a pleasant reminder that wisdom has no age and that our lives are simply teaming with all that is essential to joy.

selene

must love dogs

Best Dog/Day Ever ~ Make Yours

Back when things were bad and the IRS was breathing down our throats and reading our mail and intruding even in our dreams, we had a dog. The title, “Best Dog Ever” is thrown around like confetti, I know this, but really, Scout was a gem.

Before things went south for our little family, when I would find evidence that he had been napping on my bed, on my expensive bedding, I would throw a fit and cast him dirty looks, whispering, “Stupid, damn dog,” under my breath.

It was only while my heart was breaking over the things that men and governments will do that the godlike characteristics of canines became evident to me. Scout would come to me as I sat in solitude and bafflement and without intruding simply love me.

There’s not a good way to describe it other than “love”. He would sit and be and take awaylike scout the pain that he could with his presence. It was more than almost anyone else could do. Plus he was silent and that was helpful for me. One woman’s talk is therapy and another’s is silence.

After this revelation, each time I saw the indentation of a large dog on my duvet, I would look at the brindle Boxer and ask him gently if he’d had a good nap. A good dog is worth a million duvets any day of the week.

I now have a very different life and Scout has long since passed on to what I hope are the rolling fields of dog heaven. A very different dog romps through my heart today. Preacher, a mini Australian Shepherd, is now five months old and the easiest puppy I’ve ever trained (Scout was a two-year-old rescue dog, scarred, like people).

As I sat in my kitchen yesterday training the little guy, I wondered if he would be my “Best Dog Ever” and naturally my thoughts went to Scout sitting silently, lovingly by my side as I indulged in a very rare cry. It was more like misty eyes if I’m being honest, but that’s big for me and Scout got that.

It is my hope that Preacher will never need to guide me through another horrible life event. But I’m well past believing each of us is given one and only one. Life is nothing if not an adventure and everyone knows adventures sometimes suck. It’s in the dictionary. You can look it up.

FullSizeRender (1)0505Whatever quests Preacher and I embark upon, I’m sure he will be up for the task. He will reign as my “Best Dog Ever” for this time, in this way.

It’s human nature to look for the patterns and to hope for a repeat of the things and experiences we love, while simultaneously avoiding that which was painful. We can neither recreate the past nor control the future. Deal with it.

What we can do, what will truly serve us, is to take each new day and make it the best it can be. Uniquely so. To wish for the past is to waste the present and hobble the future.

I have had many dogs in my life and each, in their way, was my “Best Dog Ever”. The key to happiness is not to repeat what has been good, but to find out what is good, no, great about today.

Today is my best day ever. Yours too, if you let it be so.

volunteer or weed

In Defense of Weed(s)

Many years ago when Mr Dreamboat and I were just starting off on the wild ride that would be our life together, we bought our very first home. It was a tiny and lovely nestled on a sleepy street in Northeast Portland, Oregon.

There we brought home our very first Baby Boy Young. Perhaps because it is so many years in my past, the only memories I have of our first little cottage are illuminated with soothing yellow lights and somehow every memory seems tucked into a perfect summer evening. Sigh…

Though we lived in our home for only a year, it was there we became a family and there we learned many other lessons as well.

One of those lessons was about weeds.

The previous owner was a young man who had bought the house and fixed it up. A nice job

You wanted to talk about pot, didn't you?
You wanted to talk about pot, didn’t you?

he did of it too. The floors were stripped of old carpet and redone in a beautiful, old patina that felt cozy and grounded. The remaining carpets were new and fresh. The house was tiny but charming in every way. Well, if I’m being honest, the kitchen was achingly small and outdated, but beyond that it was entirely perfect.

Including the yard.

Both the front and back yards were nothing fancy but well kept and tidy. He was a meticulous guy and wanted to walk us through the whole property, small though it was, before we took complete ownership.

He talked about the floors, the fireplace and the basement. When we came to the plot he walked us about the little patch of grass and pointed out the decorative beds.

“These plants I brought back from some hikes I took in the gorge. They’ve done really well. These over here are volunteers. I don’t know what they are, but they’re pretty.”

For certain it was the first time I’d ever heard a plant referred to as a “volunteer”. And without a doubt it had never occurred to me that one might choose what one thought was beautiful and worthy of a garden based on nothing but preference.

Where were the experts? What did the books have to say about it? How can we possibly value something unless we’ve been told it’s valuable?

And so the light turned on.

Weeds are only weeds when we think of them as such. Beauty is to be found in every living thing, in every living circumstance. Sometimes, if we find we like something that until now we’ve thought of as a weed, it’s not a weed at all, it’s a volunteer.

Too often I am quick to label things.

This is “good”, and that is “bad” and these things have “value” while those don’t. It is in the labeling that I am committing the injustice. When I throw something out without critical thinking I may very well be getting rid of my very favorite flower in the garden of my life.

The volunteers that have popped up in my life have sometimes been quite ugly on the surface. Challenges I couldn’t have planned for and outcomes never imagined have thrown me for a loop and sent me running for the weed killer. Until I remember…

You are the expert of your own life. You decide what should thrive and what should die. Yet sometimes if you give things a chance to grow, occasionally that which was never valued before turns out to have the most magical powers.

Got some weeds in your garden? Let’s sort them out together.

Contact me at michelleatplay@gmail.com

sunrise yoga

Thank You/F*ck You

This morning I got up, took a shower and meditated to the sounds of the ocean. Lest I give the false impression of paradise, know that mating seagulls made such a ruckus that the meditation turned into an exercise in keeping my focus and not feeling rage at the randy, squawking, feral, avian scavengers romping above my head. But I digress…

After such a hypnotic practice I finished dressing, put on a touch of make up and donned my jaunty black cape, the practical one I wear when I’m doing chores and can’t be bothered with the flowing, fancy ones.

It is the cape about which we talk today. I continue to wear it and continue to learn from the practice.

Not long after I put on my first cape, I sat in the cool Austin evening talking with a friend of mine. Daniel is a musician and has traveled the world singing the songs he’s written and entertaining what is probably hundreds of thousands of people. Beyond that, the man is brilliant.

yeah thats how i doI explained to him that the cape is making me think and grow. It’s a challenge. Often. I admit openly that I am sometimes self-conscious in it. Sometimes I want to apologize and explain that I am in all actuallity a sane person. Then I remember if I have to tell you I’m sane the likelihood that this is true diminishes dramatically.

The evening sauntered on in that comfortable way we relish good friends and conversation. And Daniel imparted a bit of the wisdom he’s acquired over millions of miles and thousands of performances.

“A performer has to come to the stage with equal amounts ‘thank you’ and ‘f*ck you.’ We aren’t anything without the audience, but beyond that you have to know you’re bringing inherent value. That’s what makes a good performance.”

I’ve thought a lot about that conversation and though it’s often top of mind, I watch myself continue to become obsequious, pleasing, submissive even.

No one finds this attractive. Especially me.

With this notation in the performer’s handbook, I am now capable of stopping myself in the act of subjection. I pull my shoulders back and I remember that gratitude is first on the list, always gratitude, but of equal importance is knowing I’m the one running the show. When I take charge, when I know my value, the “show” gets infinitely better for everyone, including the audience and including myself.

Perhaps the Performer’s Strategy isn’t for everyone. Maybe you find the words a little harsh. I get that and respect that. I’m just grateful you came to read the post.

And I’m wearing my cape. And I am embracing that delicious fifty/fifty split. You do you and I’ma do me…

Thank you, thank you very much. Michelle has left the building…

best life

Your Best Life Ever

A month ago today I drove the five hours necessary to pick up my new best friend. Mr Dreamboat had done more than his due diligence and hand picked my tiny, puppy companion and the day and hour had arrived for me to take on my new responsibility.

Preacher and I met and instantly fell in love. I with him, because he is cute and he is fluffy. He with me, likely because I give him snacks. Whatever it takes, I’m not proud.

michelleatplaycapedAs the weeks passed I’ve become confident the “Honeymoon Phase” is past and we are in the day to day routine of figuring out how to live together. He has convinced not only me (the easy sell) but Mr Dreamboat (the cynical one) that his rightful place to sleep is in our room. I have persuaded him that… well, he’s a puppy. He does the majority of the convincing in our relationship.

That said, it occurred to me just a few days ago I should be doing some sort of official training with this guy lest he become obnoxious and I rue the day we met.

Turning to the Oracle Of Truth & Enlightenment (The Interwebs), I opted for advice from Cesar, The Dog Whisperer, or whatever his name is. Cesar informs me that my puppy is a pack animal and I should always maintain my position of Alpha. Check.

I’m supposed to go through doors before the little devil does and he should walk beside me or behind me when we’re on a leash about town. Okay. I think we’ve been doing this already. What else ya got, Cesar?

It turns out this puppy thing isn’t as difficult as I thought it might be. Thus far no major mistakes have been made on my part and all the basics were already being covered, apparently on an unconscious level.

Cesar assures me consistency, kindness and gentle praise are the key factors in raising a puppy you won’t regret as an adult. In his words:

“A pack leader is, by definition, strong, stable, and consistent.”

Yes! Yesyesyes!

The rules of dog training, it turns out are no different than the rules of life. If we’re interested in leading the pack, we have to be willing to step out in front of the crowd. Consistency is key and gentle praise an important part of every day communication.

I’m convinced I am raising one of the best dogs of my life. He is smart, sweet and small enough to sit on my lap on a cold winter evening and keep me warm.

Likewise, I am also delighted to be creating a life I love. I do it on a consistent basis. I try to use gentle praise as a key part of my communication, and I try to keep good snacks on hand. Never underestimate the importance of good snacks .

In the end, whether your life is a dog or not, there’s no reason not to make it your bitch;)