good ideas

A Couple of Diet Cokes and a Convo

Let’s say you and I go pick up a Dirty Diet Coke and a sugar cookie. We’d drive to a nearby park, and we’d sit on a park bench (this is Arizona, remember?) and chat while we munched and sipped.

FullSizeRender-3 copy 3“Mmmm…I like that touch of lime,” you’d say.

“I like the coconut undertones,” I’d reply.

“The cookie’s a bit too chewy for my idea of a sugar cookie,” you’d add. “But still, it’s delish.”

Only, you probably wouldn’t say “delish” because we only really shorthand things like that in texts or on Facebook and other social media zones. Even though it is “totes adorbs,” it sounds pretty silly in real life, doesn’t it?

Our conversation would wander from dinner plans to cloud formations, from recent things we read to the symbolism of some odd dream we had the night before. We might even discuss something religiously contentious, or skirt along the edges of politics. It’s always fun to see where things go when we talk.

Somewhere in there I’d get around to asking a question that’s been on my mind, but it’d be weird to just blurt it out without some context, or without having it relate even vaguely to what we might be discussing.

Since we aren’t having sodas at the park, I can just throw out the thought that I’ve been wondering about off and on for years. (If you want to grab a Coke or Mountain Dew or something non-caffeinated, go ahead, I’ll wait.)

Here’s the question:

Do you think there’s some inspiration or creative source or new ideas or muse somewhere in the atmosphere or something that different people tap into, or ask to access, or that they simply breathe in, that they then turn into art, or song, or a written work?

And a related question:

And if that’s the case, isn’t it likely that several, if not hundreds or thousands, could “come up with” the same or similar ideas all around same time?

And another question:

Is there really any original thought or are thoughts or the seeds of thoughts put into our heads?

Fine, it was three questions…

I see us finishing up our sodas and dusting cooking crumbs off our shirts long before we exhaust the possibilities of these questions.

Surely philosophers and psychologists, Mensa members and religious people all have something to add to the answers to these questions. I’m just wondering what the everyday, soda sipping, cookie crunching public thinks.

Here’s my two cents.

I’ve had many experiences where I’ve thought of an idea, or started writing a blog post, or hummed a made-up tune, and then, within a day, or a week someone else talks about, writes, or sings the same or eerily similar thing. What is that all about?

Seriously!

Cosmic music waves hitting in-tune people? Writerly angels whispering words? Serendipity? Inspiration? What is it?

I don’t think there’s a correct answer, but it’s a discussion I’d sure like to have, with or without a soda and cookie.

On second thought, cookies should stay in the equation.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Categories: good ideas, Wondering, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , | 4 Comments
 
 

Always Ready to Party

I pass this house on my bike rides either coming or going. I slow down as I pedal past. I try not to stare but it’s difficult not to. You see, it’s still a bit dark when I’m going past and strands of white twinkle lights light up the yard. That’s not something you normally see on an October morning.

I should mention it’s the back yard, not the front. I have no idea what the front of this house looks like. I should ride over that way and see sometime, I suppose. Many of these homes were modestly built out of cinderblock during the fifties, nearly identical inside and out.  Quarter or half-acre lots back up to this part of the trail which serves as a power line easement and passes backyards filled with dozens of stories and even more questions.

This particular back yard captures my imagination and holds it hostage.

Photo by Codo (The passion of the mariachi) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0) ], via Wikimedia Commons

Photo by Codo (The passion of the mariachi) [CC BY-SA 2.0 http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

In the slowly brightening sky the outline of a mariachi band plays against the twinkle lights. More specifically, life-sized, rusty looking metal statues of a mariachi band face the back of the house. There’s no actual music. But the feeling of a song just ended hangs in the yard like a fine morning mist.

Several matching rust colored umbrellas stand at ease amid various patio tables. A small swimming pool reflects light on to heavy tied-back patio curtains.

In contrast to the perfectly manicured yard and setting, two vintage cars and a small lawn tractor sit nearby. A row of desert trees skirt along a white fence.

I imagine that on closer inspection I’d find a more than adequate barbecue set up, a fire pit and a mini bar.

The interior of the house usually stands dark and silent. Oh, how I’ve wanted to stop and take a photo. But that seems intrusive and paparazzi-ish. So I haven’t any images to share. I hold only a mental photograph I snap every single time I ride past. Somehow, I’m sure, a photograph wouldn’t capture the vision I see and feel.

While walking in the ordinary light of day past this home the magic pull of this back yard holds far less sway on me. It’s just another backyard in the sunshine. I’m not sure what it is but there’s something about the pre-dawn light that makes it all feel as if someone just sprinkled pixie dust over the entire site.

Photo by MzScarlett / A.K.A. Michelle from Missouri (Ice Tea) [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Photo by MzScarlett / A.K.A. Michelle from Missouri (Ice Tea) [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

In that early morning hour I sense I’ve always just missed the last snippets of a long night of whispered conversations, laughter, ice clinking in glasses and wet footprints leading away from the pool. I suspect I’ve missed out on serpentine stories and long jokes with intelligent punchlines. The only taste I get of the party just finished hovers lightly as the scent of creosote in the chill early air.

Do I think this household throws a party every night that last long into the wee hours? No, not at all.

What I do think is they have managed to capture the essence of a nightly party and hold it there in a quarter-acre space. It must conjure wonderful memories to look out from the kitchen window of that home and see ghosts of guests long since departed. What joy it must bring to remember, amid the twinkle lights, friendships and family, chatter and music, stars and breezes.

Clearly I’ve romanticized and idealized what happens at this home. Whatever really goes on, whoever really lives there, I don’t want to know. I’d rather keep what I’ve imagined and call it truth.

I wonder if I could create something similar. Surely I don’t need a metal mariachi band to capture that sense of excitement and wonder at daily life. Maybe something as simple as candlelight and music softly playing at dinner, even if it’s meatloaf on the menu. Perhaps a strand of twinkle lights draped along the patio and plugged in every night, party or not, just for the sake of celebrating life.

I’ll have to give this more thought. Is this just a Better Homes and Gardens or House Beautiful photo shoot I’ve stumbled on and can’t possibly recreate? Or is there something real there, something in the idea of celebration that I could blend into my daily walk and talk? It’s an intriguing idea.

Party on, my friends, party on.

~~~

“What we see depends mainly on what we look for.” 

– John Lubbock

Categories: Celebration, Family, Fun, good ideas, Holiday | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments
 
 

Friday Letter to My Kids: I Hope You Laugh

Dear J, J, L and L,

You know that poster that hangs in the guest bathroom? The one with all the little bits of wisdom to make for a happier life like “Call your Mom,” and “Sing in the Shower”? Life’s Little Instructions. Yup, that one.

I think I’d add a few of my own.

See I can make a meme, just not very well.

I could do it…

  • Laugh some every day

  • Give at least one hug daily

  • Cry like you mean it, don’t hold back

  • Write it down so you’ll remember

  • Naps are okay, encouraged even

  • Grow something

  • Get outside and do something

  • Remember childhood Happies

  • Make new Happies

  • Have some quiet time daily

  • Get rowdy at least twice a month

  • Dance

  • Sing

  • Crank those tunes

  • Ditch the to-do list sometimes

  • Put yourself in time-out and enjoy it

  • Sleep somewhere odd

  • Be a tourist in the state you live

  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help

  • Smile more than not

  • Wink at little kids

  • Roll down a grassy hill when you can

     

That’s all stuff I ought to remind myself of, often. Maybe I can get your dad to play along with some of them. Not sure I can picture him rolling down a hill, unless it’s unintentional while skiing. Ouch.

And of course, everyone has their own definition of rowdy. Let’s just all keep it legal. (Wink.)

I hope you laugh! And sing and dance and love life!

 

Love you tons,

Mom

 

p.s. I could make this into a cute meme if I wanted to spend the time and understood computers better, but I don’t. So here’s a drawing I made of myself instead. Way faster than creating a meme.

photo-25 copy 23

Sending lots of love!

p.p.s. It seems like a long list. Probably because it is. If I thought about it for a few days I could narrow it down some. But, it’s Friday and I wanted to get this letter out to you today. 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Categories: Family, Friday Letters, good ideas | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Turn on the Slow Cooker and Let It Simmer a While

While hanging out at this service thing with a bunch of people a couple of  weekends ago I witnessed tons of hugs, hellos, smiles and general all around friendliness. Maybe even a bit too much chattiness and not enough getting-er’done going on. But that’s okay.

photo-25 copy 9I’m near two women when one leans over to the other and says, “I love how everyone’s so friendly even though we all come from so many different walks of life.”

The other woman replies, “That’s so right! It’s like this place works like a great big crock-pot.”

The other woman agreed wholeheartedly.

I had to perform some mental gymnastics to stop myself from correcting her metaphor. I’m sure she actually meant to say “melting pot” not “crock-pot.”

Don’t take my word for it. Here’s what Merriam-Webster has to say about that metaphor:

melting pot 

1 a place (such as a city or country) where different types of people live together and gradually create one community

2  a place where a variety of races, cultures, or individuals assimilate into a cohesive whole

3 a process of blending that often results in invigoration or novelty

That term was first used around 1887 about immigrants to the United States as they assimilated, contributed and became part of the culture here.

To clarify, a crock-pot, or slow cooker, simmers or cooks at a very low temperature over many hours. This process tenderizes meats, rarely burns the food, and simplifies meal preparation and cleanup. It’s one of my favorite appliances.

Can you see why I felt a little queasy at the mixed up metaphor?

Imagine a big pot of melted cheese (with a side of tortilla chips please.) Mmm. I could go for some Queso about now, couldn’t you? That’s how I picture a melting pot. Everything blends together into one big indistinguishable gooey mass of deliciousness. There’s nothing that really stands out or looks different. It’s all good, but it’s all one flavor.

Photo By jeffreyw (mmm...veggie beef soup  Uploaded by Fæ) [CC-BY-2.0

Photo By jeffreyw (mmm…veggie beef soup Uploaded by Fæ) [CC-BY-2.0

I like the crock-pot image better for what my friend observed and tried to put into words.

After a day of simmering, whatever ingredients thrown into the pot in the morning still seem familiar and beckoning in the evening. Carrots, meat, potatoes, onions, peas, celery have spent enough time together enduring the heat that they’ve sort of shared flavors with each other along with the spices and broth in the pot. Lifting the lid on such a concoction sends out such an aroma of comfort.

Or maybe what you throw in the crock-pot is beans, rice, corn, meat, tomatoes, green or red chili peppers, onion and garlic. Ten hours of basking in the heat makes for melt in your mouth, warm up your belly wonderful nuances of shared flavors and mixed tastes. Nothing beats a big bowl of chili this time of year, with autumn singing its promising song.

Isn’t that what we want when interacting with people different from us? A little something of them rubbing off on us and maybe a bit of us making them a bit sweeter or spicier? Spending time together, even if only metaphorically, ought to make everything better.

Expecting a kind of total agreement and sameness sounds so boring and sad. Imagine cheese dip every single day, all year long, every year.

Don’t take my word for it. Listen to these wise words:

“Just as the natural environment depends on biodiversity, so the human environment depends on cultural diversity, because no one civilization encompasses all the spiritual, ethical and artistic expressions of mankind.” ~ Rabbi Jonathan Sacks

I love that idea! Pluralism really does define how society naturally works best. In case you were wondering the Oxford English Dictionary defines pluralism this way:

Pluralism

1 A condition or system in which two or more states, groups, principles, sources of authority etc. coexist.

2 form of society in which the members of minority groups maintain their independent cultural traditions. 

Reasonable, right? That’s what I think, too!

imagesWhat worries me happens when political correctness or peer pressure or social media onslaught demands conformity from everyone. Seems to me that insisting on complete and total agreement, drowning out differences of opinion actually takes away from the idea of unity that all those louder, bigger voices say they want.

Tension and repression and discord become the norm and actually kill off unity.

Some days I feel like I’m watching this country attempting to force a giant stew into a blender and turn it into baby food. Ick! Nothing delectable there.

Can’t we just simmer down and enjoy each other’s differences and work together somehow for a happy outcome?

The crock-pot’s set on low for a while.

I’ll bring a few loaves of fresh-baked bread, if you’ll bring along some butter.

 

Categories: good ideas, People, Politics? | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Thirty Days to More Sanity

As if life isn’t already busy enough.

You too?

Yeah. I know. I’m surely crazy!

I’ve decided to accept the challenge this November.

No, I am not going to grow a mustache or beard, as easy as that would be now that I’m over a certain age. Not sure a female can really man up the same way. And I’m certain I don’t want to grow facial hair.

No, no. I am not attempting to write a novel in one month like participants in NaNoWriMo commit to.

Photo by joergens.mi

Pomegranates! Photo by joergens.mi

No, no, no. Neither am I celebrating or becoming more aware of pomegranates, veganism, pancreatic cancer, sweet potatoes, pet diabetes, sponges, manatees, gluten-freeness, inspirational role models, banana pudding, impotency, peanut butter lovers, entrepreneurship, healthy skin or thirty-plus other possible November commemorations.

I don’t even want to get my Christmas shopping done in the month of November. — Gasp! Get this woman some oxygen, STAT! — (Questioning my sanity at this point, aren’t you?)  In fact, I don’t want to purchase a single Christmas related item at all during this singular lunar phase of the year 2014.

My only goal for November?

Survive with my sanity intact through the end of the month.

You think I jest.

I jest not.

Juggling complete with theme music in the background!

Juggling complete with theme music in the background!

In case you haven’t noticed there’s this trend, obsession, thing monstrous idea that involves packing the months of October, November and December so full with causes, goals, events and busyness that a person can hardly breathe.

I refuse to participate in such nonsense. I just want to enjoy life, and be with people I love or at least like a lot. I don’t want to recreate some Pinterest-worthy scene to photograph and share on various social media platforms.

Of course, along with the added busyness, life throws its usual and not-so-usual curve balls and flaming batons and razor-sharp knives and expects you to juggle them while it sets you down on a cliff edge when it darn well knows you’re deathly afraid of heights.

And yet.

And yet, I have decided to jump in on NaBloPoMo.

Sounds almost obscene, I know. But in reality I think it’s a link to my sanity. Let me explain.

NaBloPoMo otherwise known as National Blog Post Month encourages, nay, offers prizes and incentives to, bloggers to post every single day during the month of November.

Why would I do such a thing? Most months of the year I barely post three times a week to my blog.

writing photoWhy indeed.

Because Writing (capital W) keeps me sane. Because Writing lets me download the contents of my swirling mass of thoughts and chaos to a manageable medium. Writing softens life’s blows. Writing helps me make sense of so much senseless nonsense. Writing helps me breathe better. Writing acts like nasal strips for the soul. (too much?)

Taking on the daily blog post challenge increases my writing time and hence, (yes, hence) my sanity.

If no one else reads what I write, that’s okay. It’s all for me all the time anyway. I’m just being selfish. I’m claiming the month of November for myself, come what may. Well, I’m claiming at least five hundred words a day for myself.

It’s a big step, but I feel empowered and excited and overly sleepy already.

Have I taken on more than I should? Will I feel saner in thirty-one days? Will the universe conspire against me?

No. Maybe. Yes, most certainly.

I’m standing on the cliff edge and taking the leap toward sanity.  I sure hope my parachute opens when it’s supposed to.

Wish me luck!

NaBloPoMo_November_0

“You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you.” ~Ray Bradbury

Categories: good ideas, Sanity, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

I’m Walking on Sunshine: Going Solar (part 1)

BY JOEL PETT, Herald-Leader Cartoonist, used with permission.

BY JOEL PETT,
Herald-Leader Cartoonist, used with permission.

Sunshine.

It’s everywhere, especially here in Arizona,. The sun shines two hundred ninety-six days of the year. Yes, that’s 296.

By contrast, the Seattle area, where I lived a quarter of a century ago, gets a mere fifty-eight, yes only 58, sunny days a year. Shiver. 

You’d think, with so much sunshine we’d be completely solar friendly in our state. You’d be correct. Following close behind, surprisingly, is Hawaii. And not so surprisingly, Nevada.

Why do I bring this up?

We had solar panels installed recently. The whole back side of the roof full of the things. No, we didn’t win the lottery, or take out a home equity loan. Nor did we inherit money from some long-lost rich relative. (Sigh.) We’re leasing the panels for less than what we pay the Power Company.

Here’s what our roof looks like now…

photo 1-4 copy 19

8 a.m. and the sun is already tickling the panels which face WSW.

I’m not going to try to explain how it all works, because, frankly Scarlett, I don’t give my husband dealt with the business and science part of all this. I signed some paperwork, read a bit of fine print, and cleaned up the side yard enough so the installation guys wouldn’t trip over the mess.

All I know is the sun shines on our roof, those black panels turn it into electricity somehow, and we have all the juice we need to run our little household.

What I’m really interested in involves a reversal. Yup. A reversal.

Whatever we don’t use of our solar generated electricity gets sold to The Power Company.* Does that sound cool, or what?

I think so.

Instead of us receiving electricity from and paying out money to the Electric Company, in vast enough quantities to fund a small nation, they will start paying us with an annual check. Sounds like a great plan to me!

Whether or not it pans out gets me all excited and curious and a little giddy. Okay, maybe not giddy, but definitely curious. I’ll be watching those meters, reading the bills, comparing this year and last year. And instead of feeling forlorn at another in a long series of unending sun-swathed days I’ll feel happier than a pig in mud on a sunny day.

There’s an 85% chance this will work out in our favor. I like that. Those are good odds, don’t you think?

Saving Money? Yes, Please.

Saving money lights up my happy neurons. And yet we’ll still have enough electricity to keep the house cool in these desert nonsense temperatures, run the frillion computers MSH has amassed, keep the oven baking bread and keep the six-body** deep freeze icy cold. If the power goes out, the entire neighborhood can come on over and charge their phones to their heart’s delight.

We’re waiting for an inspection and paperwork and insurance stuff to happen in the next few days. And then, voilà. We’ll be cooking and cooling with solar.

Now I feel all green and tingly and earth friendly. Come September I’ll kick my desert gardening hiney into high gear and get every one of my raised beds planted with happy little vegetable seeds for an even greener sense of self-sustaining karma.

I’ll keep you updated on how it goes. Good or not so good.

Here’s to the sunshine!

 ~~~~~

Here’s some info you can read if you want to:

Not a solar company –  Will Buying Solar Panels Really Save Money?

Also not a solar company – Do Solar Panels Really Save Money?

Or you can do your own research easily enough, right?

~~~

*Well, almost all. MSH tells me that The Powers That Be work a lot of fine print into the contract, but still… looks and sounds great to me. Like I said, I didn’t read the details and I don’t get the math or the science at all. Over a twenty-year span, we come out ahead.

**When MSH brought home the deep freeze (I thought we were buying a small one) it turned out to be this massive monstrosity nearly the same size as our Toyota truck. I like to say it’s big enough to hold six bodies. So really, we could have a bit of a sideline helping out the morgue if needed. Normally, though, we keep ice cream, roasts, a ham, a turkey and freezer jams in there.

Categories: good ideas, phoenix | Tags: , , , , , , | 5 Comments

A World of #cultureofcharacter

Before the housing bubble implosion, I worked with a real estate appraiser as an apprentice. My boss and I drove in her new hybrid car to Las Vegas for an appraisers convention.

I wouldn’t describe the drive as scenic. Far from it. The one highlight I remember appeared in a yard just on the outskirts of a tiny town that boasted life-sized rusty metal sculptures of animals, a giraffe being the most memorable.

Vegas was meh. I’m not a big fan.

Here’s where the story gets interesting.

By Matt Lavin from Bozeman, Montana, USA [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Pretty much this was the view. By Matt Lavin from Bozeman, Montana, USA [CC-BY-SA-2.0) via Wikimedia Commons

On the way home from Vegas, about forty-five miles either way to a town, in the middle of desert and sagebrush, my boss looked at her gas gauge, gasped and said, “We forgot to get gas before leaving Vegas!” She all but slammed on the brakes mid road.

I leaned over to look at the gauge, thinking she was overreacting and saw the needle pointed solidly at the “Empty” side.

“Oh, crap,” I replied. Or something along those lines.

Nowadays, you’d just whip out your smart phone, find the nearest gas station and turn around or head forward. Or your car tells you how many miles you have left before you run out of gas.

All we had eight years ago was a map book, a cell phone and no cell coverage. We weren’t really sure where on the map we were. We’d also, apparently brought along some overconfidence it had just flown out the window.

My boss wanted to turn around and go back. I voted we keep moving forward. Either way we were surely going to run out of gas in the middle of nowhere, in the heat. And when we ran out of gas we’d be on a two lane road with almost no shoulder.

Windblown

A few miles ahead we pulled into a sad excuse for a rest area. “Better to stop here, than be stuck on the side of the road,” my boss explained. There was one other car parked there. “I’m going to go have a chat with the person in that car,” she said as she climbed out.

My boss never shied away from a situation, but I thought she might be pushing her luck. She talked for about five minutes. When she got back in the car here’s the story she told me.

The person in the car was a younger woman. She was at the rest area because it was a half-way point between where her ex-husband dropped off her son at her Dad’s place and her home near Vegas. Her Dad drove her son to the rest area and that’s where mom and child reunited.

The young woman said her Dad owned a tow-truck but he’d probably be just in his regular car and that he could go get gas and bring it back to us after he dropped her son off.

That’s doable. We’d survive. Yay!

Still it’d be a long time waiting in the car in the desert. I got out, wandered around. Sitting in the partial shade on a rickety over-painted picnic table, the wind sucking the moisture out of my skin, I wished for Star Trek transporter technology and wondered what my kids were doing.

We sat waiting another half-hour or so when in pulls a tow-truck.

Not the actual tow truck, just a photo from Wikimedia Commons.

Not the actual tow truck, just a photo from Wikimedia Commons.

JACKPOT!!

The truck pulled up next to the other car and the young woman hops out, gets a huge hug from a cute little blond boy and then hefts him on her hip as she chats with the guy behind the steering wheel. She points over at us, talks a bit more and then puts her son in her car. As the tow-truck pulls past us she walks over and says, “That’s my Dad. He decided to drive the tow-truck today. Lucky, huh? He’s just going to turn around and back in, then you can just drive up to the ramp, he’ll winch the car on, lock ‘er down and he’ll give you a ride to the gas station.”

Wow!

Lucky, huh?

Felt like more than luck. Felt like hitting the jackpot.

Apparently, we’d stopped about sixty miles from the nearest gas station. Glad my boss had pulled over. Turned out she wasn’t nuts, just inspired.

And the tow-truck driver? Nice guy, pleasant to chat with. He hadn’t had a lot of business lately and thought maybe if he drove the truck, even though it cost more in gas to drive it without a call to respond to, he might get lucky and run into someone who needed a tow or get a call while on the road. “Every little bit helps,” he said.

And yet, as he dropped us off right in front of a gas pump, he refused to accept the money my boss offered him. “I was in the area and I’m just glad I could help you ladies out today.” And off he drove, into the sunset, every bit a knight in shining armor. It wasn’t really sunset, but that’s how I chose to remember it anyway.

A person of character and class? Absolutely.

People like that restore my faith in the human race. It happens more often than we hear about.

I’d like to hear about it more.

What do they call that? Random Acts of Kindness? Tender Mercies? Karma? Grace? Charity? Selflessness?

Whatever name you give it the effect remains the same. Troubles alleviated, hearts lifted, humanity redeemed a little more.

#cultureofcharacter

I have a friend who tweets #cultureofcharacter followed by a description of kind acts and observations. I’d love for that to go viral. Wouldn’t you? Wouldn’t it be something to log on and see a massive list at the end of every day of things people saw or did or heard about that showed class and character in the actions and words of the people around them?

Small moves, tiny acts, they make all the difference in a world run amok.

It’s certainly works that way in my world.

How about yours?

I’ll be watching for your tweets.

This book will surprise you. It's where the phrase "culture of character" originated.

This is where the phrase “culture of character” originated.

#cultureofcharacter: an idea from the book Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking.

Categories: good ideas, Hope, People, The World | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Rode Hard and Put Away Wet

While visiting my parents recently, I attended church with them. Much to my surprise I heard the following statement: “Some of you look like you’ve been rode hard and put away wet.”

The wordsmith in me immediately pulled out my phone and tapped in the phrase to look up later. Turns out it’s a horseman’s term that refers to someone not taking care of a horse after a hard day.

Long day?

Long day?

So we looked like we’d not been properly cared for, huh? Tuckered out, bedraggled, ragtag, worn down, scruffy. It had probably been a tough week for a few people there. In any large group there’s a high probability that more than a few were run ragged that week either physically or emotionally.

The last time I threw my leg over a horse to go riding I hadn’t graduated from high school yet. Now, what feels like nearly a hundred years later, I still remember the sway and roll of sitting in that saddle. The muscles of the horse under me felt powerful and yet, somehow, very gentle. My friend, whose family owned the horses, led the way on her horse through open fields and along the foothills. I could have sat up there all day, feeling like a queen surveying the world.

If you’ve never ridden a horse you’re missing out on one of life’s most eloquent pleasures.

That phrase, “rode hard and put away wet” has stuck with me for days now. Curiosity pushed me to research a bit more about how to care for a horse after a ride or a day of hard work. A few basic steps, about twenty to thirty minutes, and a horse can relax and rejuvenate after a days work.

Loosening the saddle some, pulling up the stirrups so they don’t bang around, letting it walk a bit to cool down are the first things to do. Following that you’d take off the bridle and put on a halter and tie the horse off. Loosen the cinch and take the saddle off being careful not to hit the horse’s back. Remove the blanket, clean off dirt and sweat with a wet sponge and brush and then dry off with a towel. While doing so check for cuts, nicks, and scratches. Check the hooves for stones and mud and use a hoof pick to clean. Lead the horse to pasture, take off the halter and let the horse cool down a bit more before feeding.

Here, let me pose for you.

Here, let me pose for you.

I wondered why someone wouldn’t take care of horse when the steps are basic common sense and fairly simple. If it keeps the horse happy and healthy and you care about the animal wouldn’t you do this every time?

What happens when these basic steps aren’t taken? A horse can develop saddle sores, or have untended wounds, become lame or simply be dirty and unkempt and uncomfortable.

I wondered why we don’t do this for ourselves. After a long day working or caring for others do we take basic measures to make sure we’re healthy and cared for?

At the end of the day do we loosen up a bit, set aside worries so they aren’t banging around, cool down a bit and shake off the weight of the day? Is there some basic self-care we could engage in that’s equivalent to having a brush down and our hoofs checked?

More than likely we push ourselves nonstop from the minute we wake up until our head hits the pillow at bedtime. Sure we might turn on the TV or browse the Internet some. For me that’s not much different from wandering into the stall untended. I need a more active, conscientious and deliberate effort to relax and care for my physical and mental well-being.

Reading or writing after a long day works wonders to wipe away the “sweat and dirt” of my day’s ride. Other times, having a conversation with MSH helps me lift the saddle weight of worry from my shoulders. Sometimes simply sitting and doing nothing, staring, thinking or meditating can wash away a day’s stress. If you’re the praying sort, that might be your emotional and spiritual grooming time to work out the kinks of life’s demands. Or maybe a literal washing in the shower or a soak in the tub serves as an emotional cleansing in your day.

Whatever we need to do to avoid being “rode hard and put away wet” seems like a good plan to me.

Well, hello there!

Sounds like basic horse sense to me!

 

“A horse loves freedom, and the weariest old work horse will roll on the ground or break into a lumbering gallop when he is turned loose into the open.” ~Gerald Raftery

 

 

 

 

Categories: good ideas, Mental Health, physical health, Wondering | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments

Rocking Things Up Around Here

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“The monotony and solitude of a quiet life stimulates the creative mind.” This one let me know that sitting quietly for long period of time was perfectly okay.

“What are men to rocks and mountains?”~Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice

(If you’re new to my blog, or don’t follow regularly, this all makes more sense if you know that my best friend passed away at the beginning of January.)

A multilayered message.

A multilayered message.

Have you ever felt like you stumbled on to a treasure hunt? I have, just recently in fact. I’ve been finding these gems around my yard this past month.

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Whoever did this for me is amazing!

And by gems I mean rocks.

Not just any rocks though.

These rocks ROCK!

These rocks speak to me.

Okay, I admit, that wasn’t very descriptive. So I’ve included photos.

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Beautiful, yes?

Someone, with an artistic flair and a bunch of love, painted words on rocks and tucked them in little hidden spots around my yard and garden. I’ve found one in every flower bed, another under the bird bath, another on my porch swing and yet another tucked in a ceramic pot filled with flowers.

Each one appeared on a day that I needed that message or idea.

Each seemed infused with care and compassion.

I’d call that magical, or serendipitous, or simply really nifty.

I’m not sure if I’ve stumbled on them all yet, either. So I find myself noticing things more as I pull some weeds, tuck in some seeds, water plants, or clear some frost damaged leaves. Whether I find more or not doesn’t matter, for what I find as I pay better attention to yard tasks is a kind of mindfulness that I need right now.

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Psalm 46:10

Rushing through tasks isn’t in my nature lately.

I’m trying to give all I can to the moment I’m in. Less multitasking and more one thing at a time. Enjoying now.

It’s a new idea for me.

From words that directly let me know something, to words with layers of meaning. From the simple to the profound. Anyway you read them they speak of love.

The combined rock messages have helped me see things in a new light and reminded me of things I needed reminding of.

So, THANK YOU, rock painting person. Your kindness is noted, appreciated, cherished and smiled at often. YOU ROCK!!

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You’ve succeeded in making me feel loved! Thank you!

Categories: Gardening, good ideas, Gratitude, Love | Tags: , , , , | 7 Comments

Who Reads the Instructions Anyway?

My sister cleaned out her office a couple of years ago and passed on a poster to me that I’d always admired. I rolled it up, took it home and set it aside for a while. Recently I found a frame and hung the poster in the guest bath.

Now I notice people are spending longer in that bathroom than usual.

It’s a poster filled with awesome ideas. Just reading it takes a few extra minutes than you’d expect. But then, it also makes you think, so you reread parts of it. That’s the sign of some great information in a good format.

I wish I’d thought of it, but I didn’t. Someone named H.Jackson Brown Jr. back in the 1990’s thought of it. I looked online and guess what? The same copy I have on my wall is online as well. Must be a classic.

If I counted correctly there’s sixty-two great thoughts on being a better person. Implementing even one of them would improve your life. It’s all relative. Maybe some suggestions are impossible or unreasonable or go against something you believe in, but mostly, it’s simply sound, logical ideas for having more happiness in your life.

The rest of today’s post consists of just that poster, nothing more.  No comments from me even.

And you don’t even have to visit my guest bath. Happy reading!

instructions

Copyright 1991 H. Jackson Brown, Jr. Published and distributed by Portal Publications Ltd., Corte Madera, California

Categories: good ideas, Joy, Relationships | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

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