Finding Somewhere Safe

“Just take me somewhere safe.”

If someone answered that way when you asked them if they needed a ride, what would you do? Where would you go?

MSH saw a man looking a bit lost and bewildered, carrying a backpack and a sleeping bag. He bought lunch for the guy at McDonalds and chatted some. Said he was a veteran but hadn’t seen combat. He said he had a family out of state, five kids and a wife. He seemed nervous and a bit uncertain. Parts of his story didn’t make sense with other things he said.

He didn’t want to go to a shelter, or to a VA hospital, or a food kitchen. He finally just asked MSH to drop him off at a shopping center, near a spot where a group of guys had gathered with their restored cars. MSH asked them if any of them were Veterans. A few were, so he explained about this man he’d tried to help who, in the meantime, wandered away and couldn’t be found again.

When MSH told me about this encounter my worry meters buzzed. Such things make me wish I could fix the world. But of course, that isn’t possible.

I’ve read recently about Mother Teresa who, when asked about the huge task before her, replied….

“I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.” ~ Mother Teresa

I’m surely no Mother Teresa, but I do try to make a tiny difference where and when I can. I help at a local Food Bank from time to time. I donate to charity. I offer my services regularly in a variety of volunteer opportunities. On occasion my home has served as a sanctuary of sorts.

notre dameWe have a family friend or two who drops in from time to time. They see our home as a safe place to land, or a spot to score a slice of bread, which really means a slice of caring and a listening ear. Once, on sitting down at the kitchen bar to some fresh homemade bread and strawberry jam, one of these friends said something about finding sanctuary in our home.

That caught me off guard.

Sanctuary sounds like somewhere sacred and set apart and rare. My home? A sanctuary?

Another friend I know has told the story of a man at church who asked her why she sat in the hall during part of our worship service. She replied that she felt awkward and out of place because she’s single and so often seemed left surrounded by empty chairs rather than by mostly-married worshippers of our congregation. This kind, younger, married man, sweetly put his arms around her and hugged her tight. She proceeded to sob. She said she hadn’t been hugged by a man in decades and felt his kindness in that platonic squeeze. From that day forward if he is at church he has saved her a seat next to him and kept a lookout so he could pat the chair and let her know it’s saved just for her. My friend found sanctuary in a house of God in the most unexpected of ways.

I know this man, and he’s no Mother Teresa either. But he saw a need and has done his best to fill it. He’s a saint in one person’s eyes.

The word sanctuary finds its roots weaving through Middle English from French. Before that it started with the Latin word “sanctus” which means “holy.”

Anything we do to alleviate another’s sadness, to lift a person’s burdens or to cheer a weary soul is a holy act.

We can all provide sanctuary, if not in actual brick and mortar, at least in deed and action and maybe even in word.

Perhaps the sanctuary we provide is simply the small space around us as we provide a reassuring hug, a human touch to a person aching to feel loved in some small way. Maybe we rub a set of tired shoulders for a few seconds to push courage and fellowship into weary shoulders.

Perhaps the sanctuary we’re in is a porch swing where a heartfelt conversation takes place, temporarily lifting the weight of worry or sadness.

Perhaps the sanctuary we create is in the holding of our bitter tongue, the forgiving of long held grievances, or a word of thanks. Perhaps our smile creates a sanctuary that carries someone through to the next way station for disillusioned travelers.

Mother_Teresa_1985_croppedAnother quote by tiny but powerful Mother Teresa says, “The hunger for love is much more difficult to remove than the hunger for bread.”

Are we tossing coins when a slice of bread is needed? I hope not. Are we giving out bitter sponges soaked in vinegar when a glass of cool water is all that’s required? I pray not.

To be completely honest, I have turned away when a need was evident, mostly because I doubted my ability to lift or cheer or make a difference. Sometimes my own needs kept my eyes looking inward and I simply couldn’t or refused to see another’s need. Sometimes I’ve just been world weary myself and needed my own sanctuary.

We aren’t always on one side of the equation. As humans we often find ourselves on the other side of needing. That helps us feel compassion when the roles switch places again.

Hopefully I learn and apply the knowledge when facing a person in need of sanctuary.

“Take me someplace safe,” the weary one says, “wherever that is.”

I hope I know where that place is and how to get there. I hope others are also willing and able to help as well.

~~~~~

“Perhaps the most important thing we bring to another person is the silence in us, not the sort of silence that is filled with unspoken criticism or hard withdrawal. The sort of silence that is a place of refuge, of rest, of acceptance of someone as they are. We are all hungry for this other silence. It is hard to find. In its presence we can remember something beyond the moment, a strength on which to build a life. Silence is a place of great power and healing.” ~Rachel Naomi Remen

Acuminate_Leaf_(PSF)

 

 

Categories: Being Human, Relationships, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments
 
 

Packing It In

When dreams repeat themselves over several nights, it makes me pay attention a little better than normal to those fleeting subconscious wanderings.

The past week I’ve dreamt multiple times about packing. I’m talking about stuffing things frantically into a duffle bag, or throwing things together haphazardly into a suitcase. One dream had me zipping shut all sorts of temporary containers to take with me somewhere and I needed to hurry it up, too. I never knew where I might be going, or what I should bring with me. The only commonality in all the dreams was a sort of desperation or panic to get it done quickly and don’t forget anything important.

I let these dreams haunt my daytimes a bit and didn’t like where my personal interpretations took me, so I thought I’d consult some dream imagery sources. Seems logical to gather some information, right?

The common thread in the different places that I researched said this about dreaming of repeatedly packing represents:

  • Uncertainty or chaotic changes in your life.
  • Your feelings about being weighed down by endless responsibilities or expectations.
  • The need to establish some kind of order in our lives
  • A need for greater organization in your waking life.
  • Feeling unprepared for the challenges that you are facing.
  • An unsuccessful attempt to deal with far too much in your waking life.
  • Something definitely overwhelms you at the moment.
  • You are juggling too many things and situations.
  • You are carrying too many burdens.
  • A warning to relax and let go.
  • Somebody is pushing you to take more responsibility;

That all sounded fairly accurate in describing how I’ve been feeling lately. I find that fascinating. How do my dreams know to go there?

Would you like a cup of irony to go with my dream interpretation?

At the beginning of the year I made a short note to myself that reads as follows:

  • Simplify.

If ever I wondered what I wanted out of the year 2016 it could be found on this tiny list. The key word here, in case you missed it: simplify.

IMG_5728One reason I stopped making resolutions years ago lies in the FACT that as soon as I set myself a goal the oppositional forces in the universe unite to make certain I do not achieve what I set out for myself.

What is that all about? And do I sound a little paranoid? Well, so be it. I probably am.

I’ve had some great inspirational moments of clarity in how I could simplify my life so it feels more focused, less scattered and crazy. And yet, those few moments have been overwhelmingly done in by a giant tsunami of requests, additional to-do list items, a change in responsibilities, an inability on my part to say no, and personal lack of organizational skills and lack of self-discipline.

Chaos. Responsibility. Expectations.

How do I pack all that into neat little containers? How do I corral the wild horses, tame the unruly strands of unfinished things to do?

I own and have read dozens of books of bringing order into chaos. I know the three bin method. I’ve spent days and weeks packing and unpacking an entire household countless, (okay, seventeen) times. You’d think by this time in my life I’d have my act together, I’d have reached some point of calm. Balance should have settled into my life.

Ha!

Apparently that isn’t how it works. At least it hasn’t for me, so far.

I’ve been reading a book that a friend recommended on organizing. I don’t think it’ll save my life or change it completely, but perhaps it’ll throw me a life-preserver.

Here’s part of what I think my dreams mean, according to the book of Kami.

What I really want to do is pack one small suitcase and disappear from all my responsibilities and to-do lists. I want to say, “NO!” to every request. Could I deliver myself to some unknown place where no one recognizes or notices me and just, I don’t know, sit and read, walk in the woods, sleep, ride my bike, bask in the sun? Could I find out what a life with no expectations from others feels like?

That’s about as likely as me winning a lottery, which I don’t play.

I’d probably get bored really quickly, no doubt.  I know running away isn’t a solution, but something extreme seems necessary to achieve some balance to the shoal of chaos that my life has shipwrecked on.

I think I need a nap now.

~~~~~

“Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated.” ~ Confucius

 

Categories: dreams, Mental Health, Priorities, Sanity, Wondering | Tags: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment
 
 

Infamous Beyond Napoleon Dynamite

Today is a historical anniversary of a sad day in the United States. I’ll bet you’ve never heard of it. I’d wager very few people have.

Last month my dad told me that when he was a little boy growing up in a small southern Idaho town, he’d occasionally find himself in the local post office staring at a large painting over a doorway. He told me he’d study that painting and wonder. It drew his attention like nothing else he’d seen.

I’d been in that post office last summer and didn’t notice the painting. To be honest, I’d never heard about it, and I was focused on buying stamps. I should have paid attention to the cool architecture of the old structure, the classic lines, the pillars, the traditional windows for each clerk to stand behind. The old formica square tiles caught my eye that day, but not much else.

This town looks like hundreds of others throughout the west, with one main street of businesses, lots of modest homes radiating out from the central part of town, and newer houses encroaching on farm and ranch land. Not much to set it apart from all those others. Although a small film made it semi-famous among teens for a while. You may have heard of “Napoleon Dynamite.” Or, if you didn’t have teenagers at the time you may not have heard of this little comedic gem.

Preston, Idaho has another little known but infamous event tied to it.

Just before Christmas I spent a week with my parents. In spite of the snowy weather we ended up doing some scenic drives. It’s one of Dad’s favorite things to do. He tells me about different places as we drive past, points out curiosities, shares funny stories and sad tales. He grew up in that part of the country and knows the history well, played and fished and worked in the area until his late teens. One story in particular caught his attention in grade school but he could find little information about it beyond the brief  mention of it once.

Driving north out of town he pointed out a little cove off in the distance and casually said, “That’s where the largest massacre of Indians in the United States took place.”

I was sure he couldn’t be correct.

But he knew details and he told me about the painting in the post office and his fascination with it.

Last night, I couldn’t sleep. For some reason that story and that painting were on my mind. So I opened my computer and typed in a few search words and found out that Dad did know what he was talking about. In fact, in an odd coincidence, the anniversary of this sad and senseless event took place on January 29, that’s today.

I found out that just after dawn 153 years ago today, in 1863, the Bear River Massacre of the Northwest Band of Shoshone Indians took place. Over 500 men, women and children died at the hands of the U.S. Army that day. That’s more than double those who lost their lives at Wounded Knee.

Why would this be on my mind last night? I’ve never seen the memorial plaque, which is pictured in the link above, along with copious amounts of research and details that will surprise and haunt you. Besides driving past the site and dad’s brief telling of it, and the painting, which I paid serious attention to in December, this hasn’t crossed my mind.

Like my Dad, it caught at my heart and has obviously been tugging away this past month at my subconscious.

Maybe this painting, and the story will tug at your heart and mind as well. I hope so. Such a thing ought not be so quietly dismissed or forgotten.preston post office

~~~~~

“In Shoshone, there’s a saying. It’s a long one, and it doesn’t have an English equivalent, so bear with me.  Sutummu tukummuinna. It means, I don’t speak your language, and you don’t speak mine. But I still understand you. I don’t need to walk in your footsteps if I can see the footprints you left behind.” ~ Rose Christo, Why the Star Stands Still

 

 

Categories: Death, Holidays, People, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment
 
 

New Wheels, New Outlook

When he was young, my son used to test run shoes when he needed a new pair. He’d ask me if I thought one pair was faster than another. It was difficult to tell. Some shoes had serious speed factors, while others looked fast but might not run at top speeds. In the end the fastest shoes were always the shoes we bought. I loved that.

I think I stumbled on something similar in myself recently. Stay with me on this one while I mosey over to my point.

Want to see a sad photo I took while I spent time in snow country a month or so ago?

IMG_5514I know, right? Perfectly good bikes stuck in the snow going no place for a long time. They’re maybe even accumulating some rust, and weather related wear and tear. Poor, forlorn bikes.

It’s sad to me anyway. A big portion of the country lies buried or is shoveling out from under this white stuff. And bikes spend half the year in a dusty garage or shed corner, or left outside like these, unused, unridden, forgotten and silent. Blessedly, we don’t experience that here in the desert southwest.

Which means I get to ride my bike all winter long! In fact, it’s the best riding time of the year. Cool temperatures, sunny skies, dry trails, light breezes.

Want to see a really happy photo I took recently?

IMG_5667I’d like to introduce you to my new mountain bike. I wish I knew her name, but she hasn’t told me what it is yet. She’s a bit shy.

I’m extra happy about this new addition to my life because, well, it’s my first bike ever that isn’t a hand-me-down from someone else.

I shopped, and researched, and took six months to prove to myself how committed I felt to biking. Turns out I logged a bunch of miles from July to December last year. I rode over one hundred miles in October and November! Not too shabby. I fell in love with biking more than I thought possible. Getting around under my own power gives me a feeling of freedom like nothing else. It’s a bit addictive.

So after six months and lots of miles later I researched and shopped and test drove. And then spent a few days of angst and worry, and talking with bikers, and researching again.

Silly, you say. Maybe so, but I’d never spent so much money on a bike or anything else for myself for that matter. So this decision needed to be the right one.

The day I rode her home from the bike shop those two and a half miles felt spectacular. Christmas morning, Valentines Day and Easter plus my birthday all rolled into one couldn’t have topped that sensation!

I took her out for a short four-mile ride the next morning, since that was all I had time for a ride that day. I needed to get used to the newness, the quick response, the slightly wider handlebars, the bigger tire radius, the grippy foot pedals. I got overly confident and smashed my shoulder on a fall, which still has a bruise on it. But it didn’t deter me.

The following Tuesday turned into our official inaugural ride as a team. I’d intended to go less than ten miles. But, it became twice that. Yes! I rode twenty-one miles that day. I felt like a rock star. A personal best! I hope it’s the first of many twenty-plus mile rides. I also hope to take on some more challenging mountain trails as I gain more confidence and muscle.

Here’s the thing I’ve wondered; was it my bike or me that did that?

It’s a much better bike than my old one, well tuned, lightweight, new. Everything worked great, all twenty-four gears, the hydraulic brakes, and the front adjustable shocks. Those monster twenty-nine inch tires made the ride smooth and easy on my back and seat. Gravel, rocks, curbs, bumps gave me no worries at all. I felt like a kid out there with the world all mine to explore and conquer.

I wonder if I’m a bit like my son with his fast new shoes, convinced my bike is faster, when all it really amounts to is my mindset. I’m pretty sure the work I put in pedaling transfers more efficiently, but who knows? Maybe it’s all in my head and not in my feet. I feel pretty fast, though.

My gratitude overflows for such abundance in my life. How blessed I feel to own such an amazing piece of machinery that lets me go wherever I need or want to go, powered only by my legs, my heart and my determination.

Categories: Biking, Exercise, Gratitude | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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

Friday Letter: The Traffic and Song that Never Ends

Dear J, J, L and L,

Finger puppets might save your sanity.

It all started with Lambchop, although I don’t remember when he began riding along with us in the car. I just know that one day we found ourselves sitting in traffic amongst a zillion other cars going nowhere and getting there at five miles per hour. More than likely, two of you, (guess which two) were arguing or whining in the back seat. No doubt the radio played nothing but the Macarena or advertisements. And most likely the AC failed in its efforts to cool our car just as summer arrived.

Whatever the circumstances, I remember putting Lambchop the finger puppet on my left hand, and letting him wildly sing his signature song whilst dancing out the window.

“This is the song that never ends…it just goes on and on my friend…somebody started singing it not knowing what it was… and they’ll continue singing it forever just because this is the song that never ends…”

Here’s a reminder if you’ve forgotten that ditty:

The Song That Never Ends

One of you in the back half of the car probably slunk lower in your seat or said something profound like, “Mooooooooom!!! Stoooooooop!” or may be not. Maybe you laughed. Maybe someone in a car behind or beside us laughed.

Then Lambchop changed the words. “This is the traffic that never ends…it just goes on and on my friend…somebody started driving once not knowing where they were…and they’ll continue driving now forever just because this is the traffic that never ends…

Lambchop was a hit. I laughed. Ya’ll laughed. Tension dispelled, at least momentarily.

From then on I was on a quest for other finger puppets, which it turned out, were rare and hard to find. (Pre-Amazon and Google, y’know.)

FullSizeRender-3 copy 2

Moose, the finger puppet. Who could resist this smile?

This guy, Moose, joined our car late in the game. He liked to sing “We wish you a merry Christmoose,” if memory serves me correctly.

There may have been others, but some of our more traumatic years seem to reside in a foggy region of my brain that I’m unable, or unwilling, to access. But Lambchop, for sure, spent a ton of time on the dashboard, reminding us of the threat or the possibility of performances while stuck in traffic.

Now the most traffic I encounter happens while trying to cross Greenfield road on my bike. And of course, your father doesn’t appreciate the finely honed skills of finger puppet singing. So Lambchop now lives in the closet with all the other stuffed animals. I found Moose covered in dust next to a certain restaurant gift card on my dresser.

If you remember the names or songs of any of our other sweet car companions, remind me. Good times ought not be forgotten. In fact, perhaps they ought to experience a comeback.

Hey, whatever it takes to maintain your sanity in traffic seems like a great idea.

May all your roads lack multiple four-way stops and frequent construction zones. And may you laugh daily and often.

Happy driving!

Love ya tons,

Mom

Categories: children, Family, Friday Letter to My Kids, Friday Letters, Fun, Traffic | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

I Just Called to Say I Love You

FullSizeRender-3 copyFew things in life cause a person to contemplate their own mortality more than the death of someone they’re close to.

My friend, Kathy, was only ten years old when her parents were killed in a drunk driving accident. Needless to say, death sort of hardwired itself into her head at such an early age. That explains why at the back of every journal or diary she ever had she wrote out her funeral plans. They changed a bit over the years. Those plans got more specific at a certain point in her life.

Irony stepped in big time with Kathy when multiple myeloma kicked in. I hate irony. And I hate cancer. But those are two different topics altogether.

Having terminal cancer will bring up the topic of death and dying in an unrelenting way. Kathy and I chatted about it the way most people talk about plans for the weekend. Mostly I was always in denial. She never was. Not ever.

Why do I bring up Kathy? It’s been two years today since she passed away. Two years to think about her, to avoid thinking about her, to process what she taught me, to avoid processing what she taught me. Have I come to any conclusions? No.

I know this much. She wouldn’t want me moping around and being gloomy. She’d want me to celebrate life and live it large and crazy. She’d kick my butt if she thought I was sad in the least bit today.

So, fine. I won’t mope or mourn. I will, however tell you the two things that keep popping into my head.

The weirdest of the two is a Stevie Wonder song. As far as I remember she wasn’t a big fan of Stevie. It’d make more sense if a Beatles song kept running through my mind. But no, no Beatles. It’s this one:

“I just called to say I love you.”

At first I thought that’s what I’d say to her if I could call her up in heaven, collect, of course, and have a chat. “Hey girl! What’s up? I just called to say I love you.” After all that’s how I’d say goodbye whenever I left her house. “Love you! I’ll see you later.” It’s even how I said goodbye the last time.

But then, I thought, maybe she’s trying to call me! Now there’s an idea, huh? I’m sure they don’t get unlimited calls and texts from heaven, but maybe an occasional one on special occasions?  Who knows. It could happen.

The other thought for today is from a photo I took on a snowy walk about three weeks ago. It’d be what she’d tell me to do. What she’d tell everyone she knows and loves to do.

It’s this:

FullSizeRender-3

She was always all about the happy.

So to honor her, I’ll try to be all about the happy, too.

And since we’re on the topic, I’d want to be remembered as a happy person too.  But don’t go playing any Stevie Wonder songs at my funeral.

 

 

Categories: Cancer, Death, Friendship, Happiness, Uncategorized | 4 Comments

Friday Letter to my Kids:Can You Spare Some Change?

Dear J, J, L and L,

I have to publicly thank you for the awesome Christmas gift of a wifi photo frame. I think I’ve never recieved a gift that I liked more. It fills a void that’s slowly been opening up as each of you has left home, left the state, left your old selves behind.

IMG_3284I find myself staring at the photos as they fade from one to the next, awestruck that each person in each photo is part of who I am. Each person represented by those pixels on the screen makes me a better, brighter, happier me.

It’s stunning to see how quickly you’ve each changed and how suddenly your children grow from newborn or toddler, to yes, even a teen. How does that happen? How young you all once were. How young you still are.

I often feel I’m not much older than those photos I see, and at the same time I often feel ancient and treelike. I feel stuck in time while everyone around me changes, morphs and transforms into stunning works of beauty and art and joy.

As it’s a new year the topic of resolutions swirls around in conversation and status updates. I posted a Calvin and Hobbes comic on Facebook that actually is meant to be sarcastic but today captures how I feel about each of you and your families.

Calvin, in his usual bravado, tells a blank faced Hobbes, “Resolutions! Me?? Just what are you implying? That I need to change?? Well, buddy, as far as I’m concerned, I’m perfect the way I am!”

I want you each to stay just the way you are, young, nearly perfect, happy. I want to capture you, suspend you in amber and keep you just so. Don’t go making resolutions and changing. Change happens far too quickly without any encouragement at all.

This sounds like I’ve forgotten all the difficulties of raising kids. I haven’t. But I think, in the long run, and maybe even in the short run, the balance of good times won out over the tough stuff.

I used to jokingly say, “before you know it you’ll be all grown up and off to college.” Well, that’s already happened. Now I say it about the grands and the speed of it actually happening takes my breath away.

Nothing I say will stop the change that goes on day in and day out. I can’t hold the past in my hands any more than I can keep water cupped in them. Life drips through, like sand through a sieve, and you each keep your momentum, growing older, wiser, able to laugh more.

I guess I want to say how proud I am of each of you. What sweetness you did and do bring to my life. I can’t imagine a world without you in it. Thank you!

Make whatever resolutions you will, or don’t make any at all. Know that how I see it, in my memories and in digitally transmitted photos, you’re perfect just the way you are. Calvin thinks so, too!

Happy New Year!

With love and gratitude,

Mom

“Write it on your heart that every day is the best day in the year.”

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

 

Categories: Friday Letter to My Kids, Friday Letters, Holidays, motherhood, Uncategorized | 1 Comment
 
 

Foggy and Fifty-Four

Not every day out on the bike feels wonderful. During Monday’s ride I cursed myself for not dressing warmer for fifty-four degrees. Also, it felt like someone filled my front tire with lead. Every single push on the pedal pushed my patience closer to the edge.

This morning I planned better. I wore a long-sleeved t-shirt and covered my legs. Forty-five degrees feels pretty cold when you’re used to eighties and nineties during the day. Still, the humidity seeped in and the wind-chill, even at nine miles an hour, kept my muscles from warming up. I found myself urging the sun to move faster and break over the horizon so I could catch a little heat. Tomorrow I might need to break down and wear a jacket and something to keep my ears warm.

And this time, I’m pretty sure someone filled both tires with kryptonite. Or maybe I just left my wonder woman bracelets at home. That’s probably it. My breath kept fogging up my glasses, too. That makes for an extra hilarious ride. I adjusted my breathing pattern and that problem went away.

It’s possible I need to fuel my body with healthier choices. And I might need to get more sleep more consistently. A new bike would be nice, too. So would a new body, one with less creaks, aches, twitches and padding. Oh well, I’ll do what I can with what I have.

Just me and my shadow, out for a ride.

Just me and my shadow, out for a ride.

Of course after saying all that, most days on the bike rock my world and make the whole day better! That’s the truth.

I’ve set a higher mileage goal for the month of November. On today’s ride I found myself rethinking that goal. How realistic did it seem? Why would it matter anyway how many miles I ride? Who would know but me that I wasn’t reaching the goal? An awful lot of arguments with shoulder angels and shoulder devils happen while riding a bike. I think the shoulder angel won this morning. I did, after all, log eleven miles. Not too shabby.

That abundant self-talk occurs alongside a bunch of anticipation. What’s that on the path up ahead? How am I going to navigate around this four-across walking group? What are that dog’s plans and am I involved in some way? What would I do if I ended up in the canal? Should I carry pepper spray? Why is that jogger going faster than me? It’s a mental workout, too.

I feel lucky to have easy, quick access to so many trails and paths. There are hundreds of miles of canal roads, paved and not paved. My mountain bike can do both, so I’m not limited that way. There’s also plenty of power line trails, with sidewalks and without. There are even some wide paths that follow the freeway in a few places, with a tall wall so I’m not actually seeing the traffic. Sadly, very few people see the landscaping along there.

One reason I’m trying to increase my mileage lies in the curiosity I have about other paths, roads and trails. I’d like to be able to go further, see more, and explore the lesser-seen sides of things. Also, I’d like to kick some butt, get brave and try a few mountain bike trails in the San Tans or Usury Park. That sounds so, what’s the word, youthful and just downright fun. Forget this nonsense of acting my age. In my head I’m still only a teenager. Well, maybe more like a twenty-something.

Foggy sunrise.

Foggy sunrise.

This morning I’d posted a photo on Facebook of the fog today with the comment, “Foggy forty-five degree morning. Perfect for a little ride.” One of my friends replied: “Sounds like my kind of morning! I’m forty-five and a little foggy.” That made me laugh. It also reminded me of one reason I ride. I’m trying to stay clear-headed and happy. I don’t want the fog to move in to my brain and settle there, not for at least thirty more years. Maybe riding my bike will keep that mental fog away. Maybe it will help me feel younger than my middle-aged self currently feels.

I’ll see what I can do about those kryptonite filled tires today. Tomorrow’s ride can only get better, right?

I wish you happy trails and a wonderful journey wherever the path leads.

Categories: Biking, Outdoors | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment
 
 

Something the Cat Dragged In

Cute, yes?

Cute, yes?

One of the four cutest kids I know has a cat at her house, named Penelope Buttercup. Also, there’s a dog named Pabst, which you should imagine as a teddy bear that Penelope has targeted as arch-enemy number one. Oh, and this sweet girl also has a stuffed toy mouse who goes by the name of, well, Mouse.

When I’ve been lucky enough to spend time at her home she uses some big words for such a little girl. And by big, I mean loud. If the cat walks past she’ll yell “TAAAAAT!” If the dog walks by she hollers, “PAAAAAAAP!” And if you show her the stuffed mouse she proclaims, “MOWW!”

There’s no question which of those three she’s referring to. Not sure why the dog isn’t called “DAWG!” I suppose “PAAAAAP!” can be shouted easier. Who knows what goes on in those little computer brains of babies these days.

When I see a cat now I automatically yell in my head “TAAAAAAAT!” It’s my little equivalent of seeing a moon and thinking someone else I love who lives far away is seeing the same moon. I see a cat and know that my little palindrome grand-daughter sees a cat during her day, too.

Every I look I see cats. Especially online. Cats, cats, cats, cats, cats.

Why?

These aren’t particularly friendly critters. Hardly. They’re standoffish and snooty. And yet the human race seems to embrace the furballs with unbridled ridiculousness.

Of course, I used to be the same way. As a tweenager I adopted a stray cat every time the last stray disappeared. Which was often. Weird. They were various combinations of black and white, whose names I don’t remember except for Zorro, which, of course, sported a little black mask around his eyes. And there was Tom, the feral cat, who was horse cat of a different color.

The term “something the cat dragged in” could have and often did refer to my Tom. You can read about him here if you’re curious.

My oldest daughter’s cat, pre-Penelope, would bring lizards and live birds in through the cat door at her house. Things got a bit exciting then, especially with multiple cats and a dog or two living there.

In Washington state we had neighbor cats that used to leave dead birds on our doorstep as a gesture of friendship. How sweet. We felt so…loved, or some other emotion. Just recently I thought that some human relationships are just like that. One person presents what they perceive as astounding gifts of love and sacrifice and the receiver only sees mayhem and grossness. That’s one of the saddest kinds of stories I know.

MSH hasn’t ever been a cat person. In fact, he taught my son at a very young age about the “handle” on a cat. SMH (Shaking My Head.) I’m afraid he took too well to that teaching and hauled many a neighborhood cat around by its tail.

My middle daughter and I once watched a cat play with a mouse in a sloped driveway. It was all kinds of fascinating. That is until the cat bit off the mouse’s head and played with that for a while. When the crunching started we left the area.

In a similar tone my parents’ cat leaves dismembered field critters on the driveway, proving his usefulness in spite of all proof to the contrary.

Sweet half-size Oreo.

Sweet half-size Oreo.

A notable exception to uppity cats is my son’s recently adopted dwarf cat, Oreo. He’s fully grown but still quite small, with a smooshy face and no meow. He doesn’t really jump or climb or do much of anything cat-like. That is, except for taunting the grand-dog Blondie by walking near the dog food dish. Subtle but effective snark there, if you ask me. (This little guy belonged to my brother who has five kids at home and has now rehomed of all the pets.)

Figuratively speaking, I often look like something the cat dragged in after a few hours of yard work, but then, don’t we all? Actually I think I look that way first thing in the morning too, but a bike helmet covers that up pretty well.

Some days I feel like something the cat dragged in, discombobulated, disoriented and “dis” in general. Days like that I kind of wish I were a cat, able to lounge about in odd places, soaking up some sun, or sprawled along the top of the couch. Maybe curled into a ball in a dark corner somewhere. Those days I just want someone to rub my neck and reassure me that I’m worthwhile and useful and loved and that yes, that “everything is gonna be okay.”

Ever so un-catlike, I have to actually be useful. I go about my days and nights fulfilling my obligations, contributing to society and the well-being of a few people I know and attempt to stay cheerful. I think I’m more like a dog than a cat. But that’s not all bad.

If all else fails I can always watch funny cat videos on YouTube, right?

~~~~~

“Meow” means “woof” in cat.” 
 ~ George Carlin

Categories: Being Human, Communication | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment

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