Monthly Archives: August 2014

Two Hundred Twenty Six: The Generations

“Each generation imagines itself to be more intelligent than the one that went before it, and wiser than the one that comes after it.”  – George Orwell

Friday, August 15th

I remember as a child telling my brother – I six and he fifteen – that I was smarter than him. And I really believed it. I’m sure I had moments growing up where I felt that my knowledge and experience was more relevant than my parents’. How connected could they be when they were working day-in and day-out, grumbling about the price of groceries, and lacking a passion to make a real difference in the world? They didn’t understand what my generation was going through, and there certainly was a disconnect between us even though we got along fine.

Payback’s double, right? Now I have two children entering interesting and perplexing developmental stages. My six-year-old knows she can say “no” and uses that power liberally; she has agency and she isn’t afraid to use it. My four-year-old watches his sister for cues on how to act and what to say. I know the only way through this is with patience, love, and more patience. It seems unfathomable that repeating myself endlessly will actually make headway with these little ones.

In some beautiful way, it is the passing of the baton. We are in the relay of life and as I take on a different pace I see my children starting to catch up to me. Running. Sometimes stomping. One day I’ll feel a breeze and won’t know quite what it was until I look ahead and see that they’ve passed me and leaped over to a new track entirely.

I give thanks for these flawed days of muddling through it all together.

When all is said and done, what brings the most meaning to your day?

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Two Hundred Twenty Five: Forty!

“To travel hopefully is a better thing than to arrive.” – Robert Louis Stevenson

I’m forty!

This is my 225th day of writing about the journey, and it has been a beautiful process. I find that the daily reflection on living a good life with purpose, intention, and love is the real gift. The age was just an excuse to embrace this project.

Does it feel different to be 40? Yes. I have lived enough years to have had some interesting experiences, to have met a good deal of people, and to know that all those past moments – good, bad, and ugly – brought me to this beautiful time and place in the universe.

How do you feel about your age?

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Two Hundred Twenty Four: Getting Out of the Way

“Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don’t resist them – that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.”  – Lao Tzu

Wednesday, August 13th

Lately I have been realizing the power and the richness of getting out of the way of things and letting them flow to where they need to be. Inevitably, this benefits me too.

It is easiest to conceptualize this with physical things like my possessions. I decided to pass on two very nice backpacks – one a computer backpack and the other a backpack cooler – to others who would truly appreciate them more. I’m also moving out a ton of magazines to my daughter’s classroom so they can use them for art projects. I used the Buy Nothing group in my neighborhood to move items last week, and when a sweet unused phonics system came up I was first to respond to get this to use with my son; I ducked out after a mom with twins reported this would be perfect for her. A minute after I removed my name the owner gifted it to this mom. It felt so much better knowing others were appreciating these items than to hold on to them for myself. They’re little things, but they add up to an overwhelming sense of positivity and connection with others.

There have been times in my life when this has happened with people too. A lover’s affection turns someone else’s way or a friend starts to hang out more with a mutual friend instead of me. It’s hard to do, but letting go has always seemed to be the best option. As Bonnie Raitt crooned, “I can’t make you love me.” And now I enjoy a life full of people who want to be near me because we’ve chosen one another.

Do you feel the richness of giving in your life?

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Two Hundred Twenty Three: Polarities

“That all opposites—such as mass and energy, subject and object, life and death—are so much each other that they are perfectly inseparable, still strikes most of us as hard to believe. But this is only because we accept as real the boundary line between the opposites. It is, recall, the boundaries themselves which create the seeming existence of separate opposites. To put it plainly, to say that “ultimate reality is a unity of opposites” is actually to say that in ultimate reality there are no boundaries. Anywhere.”  – Ken Wilber

“Within each of us there is a silence, a silence as vast as the universe. And when we experience that silence, we remember who we are.”  – Gunilla Norris

Tuesday, August 12th

Today was a day to ponder the polarities of life. With the sudden passing of beloved comedian Robin Williams everyone has been talking about depression. I think we’re all flummoxed that, as one friend put it, “It can kill even the funniest man.”

I want to honour the polarities of life between happiness and sadness. As humans, we are rivers of emotion winding paths that are rarely one straight direction. I’m thankful that from day-to-day, week-to-week, and year-to-year I have had supportive people who have been with me when my river turns abruptly one way or another. And yet, it takes more than support for people with a mental illness to thrive day-today. I don’t know exactly what that is, but I’m searching for answers.

I’ve had this growing feeling that we all need to take a long and serious look at our collective mental health. It is an incredibly isolating world that doesn’t always lend itself to processing our thoughts soundly and thoroughly, healing, and move on. I don’t want to devalue or minimize the intense struggles that people who are clinically diagnosed with mental illnesses face; I just think that if we acknowledged the spikes and fluctuations in our own mental health then we might be more willing to support programs that assist those in need of professional support. If you or someone you know is having suicidal thoughts, please call 9-1-1 or the Crisis Clinic at: 

  • Toll-Free: 866-4CRISIS (866-427-4747)
  • Local: 206-461-3222
  • TTY: 206-461-3210

How do you regard your own mental health?

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Two Hundred Twenty Two: Catty

“Women and cats will do as they please, and men and dogs should relax and get used to the idea.” – Robert A. Heinlein

“One day I was counting the cats and I absent-mindedly counted myself.”  – Bobbie Ann Mason

Monday, August 11th

Today is Cougar Monday. I donned my wildcat spots and feline attitude, and ruled the world around me.

There is a strong cat energy in my life. I was born under the Leo Zodiac sign and in the Chinese astrological year of the Tiger. I have always had cats for pets, from Felix to Little Cat to my current best feline friends Oscar and Bianca. I’m more comfortable around cats. They are independent, moody, and sleek. There’s just something about a cat.

The term “Cougar” has very specific connotations for women. Known as a 40-something woman, she preys on younger men for sexual fulfillment. That isn’t my “M.O.”, but I am married to a younger man and we are doing just fine – thank you.

What’s your totem animal?

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Two Hundred Twenty One: Changes

“Hard times will always reveal true friends.” – Unknown

Sunday, August 10th

My third job in this city was working a concession stand at a local theatre. The job itself was a step down from where I wanted to be, but I met amazing people there. One of the gems from that time who still shines in my life is Susan.

At the time, she worked in marketing and was good at what she did. She was very supportive of me and offered me side jobs so I could earn extra income. She helped me transition into working part-time at the theatre and full-time into an AmeriCorps program that suited my interests and abilities. She left her job at about the same time to work with a non-profit.

I lost touch with her for several years and then bumped into her in a cafe one day. She was glowing. She was working several different jobs, and had started to practice a powerful healing modality. It was clear that something in her life had changed. She looked lighter, more airy, and had that shine in her eyes.

She has inspired me to work towards the goals that I have, change the world around me for the better, and bring healing to myself in order to support those around me too. Sometimes people who are so inspiring to others can have a difficult time inspiring themselves. I hope that in some small way, I can do this for Susan and all of my friends – remind them why they are wonderful for being who they are.

How do you take care of your friends?

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Two Hundred Twenty: Girl Date!

“If you have crazy friends you have everything.”  – Anonymous

Saturday, August 9th

Today was my day to celebrate my 40th birthday with my friends, and it felt like the celebration almost wouldn’t happen!

I’d struggled to find the right date a few weeks back. I invited a few close friends. And I waited to see if anyone was hook-line-and sinker for the gig.

My first plan was to go rockhounding in Ellensburg. There is a stone called an “Ellensburg Blue” or an “E Blue” – an agate with a cloudy ethereal hue – found only in this area. Sadly, the owner of the ranch (open for rockhounding E Blues) was scoring and timing for the junior rodeo trials. It was not meant to be. I switched gears and decided to head southwards to Chehalis and Olympia. I didn’t find too much information about rockhounding in Chehalis and started to feel nervous that I didn’t have a definite site to work from. Then my best friend texted a week ago and told me that her mother had suffered a tragic fall and had broken her elbow in addition to a couple other sprains. She was put on the list for surgery but kept getting bumped due to emergency traumas. There was no way she could leave her mother in that state alone.

As flakey as it was, I couldn’t go through with the Chehalis plans. I know to follow my intuition; something just felt off about these plans. I went to bed and woke up with the a brand spanking new plan – a visit to 40 of my favorite things in this city! I didn’t need to drive halfway across the state; I could stay here and do all the things that were tough to do with kids in tow. Jaclyn picked me up and then we headed over to Holly’s place. Three was a nice number. These two friends had never met or hung out before but I had faith that it wouldn’t feel awkward. It went much better than that; they totally clicked. After a beach visit, some geode cracking, and a visit to the antique mall, my two besties were well on their way to bonding too. Yeah!

We still had multiple neighborhoods to visit. I deliberately did not hold a sincere expectation that we’d reach every stop. Unexpected stops would pop up that I hadn’t planned on. The best part about it was that there were long stretches of great conversation – on the beach, at the noodle restaurant, in the lounge, and at the park – and this really brought me closer to both women. By 7 pm, I was exhausted and felt a walk to the top of the water tower would be a great last stop. We could see over the treetops and to the water – a different perspective that was everything that I’d been looking for.

What is your idea of a perfect celebration with friends?

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Two Hundred Nineteen: I Can!

“Canning is a whole world of a thing to do. It requires that you get out of your head. It’s a Zen thing. You cannot be wondering about your inadequacies and how they drove Bob off and be making jelly. You’ll wind up with big, cylindrical jujubes.”  – Debby Bull

Friday, August 8th

Wednesday brought two large boxes of “seconds” fruit from the local orchard to my neighbor’s porch. We’d be canning all forty pounds of it today.

If you haven’t gathered this already, I’m not a “domestic goddess”. I’m cuisinely-challenged and have simply lost my chops in the kitchen. I used to like cooking, but now I feel all clumsy. So why did I sign up for this? Because I like a good challenge, and a good challenge with a mentor nearby is perfect!

I started washing the fruit and then had to take the kids to their swimming lessons. When I returned, Lisa was well into making her chutney so I started to slice and dice in preparation for nectarine jam.  I fumbled with the Cuisenart. I was walking back and forth with items in the kitchen. It was a sloppy batch, but the finished product looked lovely. By time we moved on to jam batch #2, I had remodeled the kitchen set-up for ergonomic efficiency.

I even want to try my hand at canning again. I’m ready to can solo. I think I can. I think I can!

Are you improving your skill level in any given area?

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Two Hundred Eighteen: Halves

“The only siblings I have are half-siblings. My nuclear family would have been an extra-suffocating threesome. Instead, I have an interesting brother and sister, in-laws, and darling nephews.”  – Jane Smiley

Thursday, August 7th

I have a brother I’ve never met. It’s his birthday today.

He is older than me by five years, the son of my biological father and his mother. The story goes that my father was not ready to commit to my Mom after having a bad marriage, and so he went on to marry another woman and have four more sons with her. But this is the story of my eldest half-brother Jeremy.

From what I’ve been told, he showed up on my biological father’s doorstep one day. He was in his late teens or early twenties and wanted to build a relationship with this side of his family. Yet he vanished as quickly as he appeared and it was confusing for the younger siblings. When I made the call to establish contact with my father again it was shot down by the boys’ mother. She allegedly had fears (being raised a Roman Catholic) that her children would talk of these half-siblings born of other relationships with her parents.

Things never seemed to go smoothly between Jeremy and our father. Jeremy’s girlfriend gave birth to a daughter and when the relationship with her mother failed, our father kept tabs on both his granddaughter and her mother. He brought his granddaughter out to see him and my younger half-brothers grew up with her as a sort of cousin. Jeremy started a new relationship and they had a son together. At some point, he and I connected via email and learned we had a shared love for photography and the outdoors. He told me he was bipolar and warned that it might be hereditary. It sounded like his life was a whole lot more complicated than mine. I wondered what he was looking for when he had showed up on our father’s doorstep.

My relationship has waned with Jeremy more than it has waxed. We will touch base and then we will lose touch again. He seems like a nice man, but I just don’t have the proximity to him to really start to get to know him. Our mutual half-sibling has made an effort to know us both, so I feel like I know more about Jeremy through him.

I wonder if I’m dropping the ball here. I have always felt a vague sense of being on my own in family matters. I have step-family and a mother who lives far enough way that it is difficult to make frequent visits. Cousins who live far away, most of whom I’ve met once or never met at all. I didn’t grow up with my biological father or have any contact with my half-siblings until I was 18. My grandparents passed when I was young. The family I do connect with is the half-brother Jeremy and I both keep in contact with, my younger half-brother that I am closest in age to, and Jeremy’s daughter. I might have an opportunity to know Jeremy better if I made the effort. This might bring some healing and connection to my life, and who couldn’t use more of that?

Do you have any weak connections in your family tree that could use strengthening?

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Two Hundred Seventeen: All A’Board

“The philosophical point is that our happiness and wellbeing is not based on incomes rising. This is not just the wisdom of sages but of ordinary people. Prosperity is more social and psychological: it’s about identification, affiliation, participation in society and a sense of purpose.”  – Tim Jackson

Wednesday, August 6th

It’s back to work for this PTA mom after a couple of months off. And boy howdy, it even felt good to be called back to duty.

The President invited us all to her house for the meeting to kick off the school year. Back to school BBQs need to be planned. New hires had to be announced. It was a cold hard reality check that I am going into Year Two of parenting a school-aged child, and a delightful reminder that I’ve started this phase of parenting with full throttles engaged.

This time last year I was reluctant and shy to attend the board meetings. The first one landed on my birthday and then I just felt that this group already knew one another. I was the newbie and felt so out-of-place. But now I’ve raised funds with this group. I’ve sold school gear. I’ve attended events and parties with them, and they’re good people. They’re the people who stand up and do something because they are compelled to and because they can. I like those types of people.

What makes you stick with something?

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