Do I Hold On or Let Go?

While out biking a few months ago I discussed the following question with a friend of mine.

“When you’re falling off your bike do you think you should hold on to the handlebars or let go of the handlebars?”

Bouncing the question around got us no where other than she had a story to tell about a friend’s husband who chose to take a steep path downhill when the rest of the group decided to carry their bikes around the obstacle. It didn’t have a very happy ending, short or long term.  I think she said he held on to the handlebars, but that didn’t have much bearing on the painful long-lasting consequences of a plain old bad decision.

I even asked my cousin, the super athlete, for her opinion and she said it didn’t really matter and that it depended. Which at the time I thought was a lame answer.

This morning I came to understand her answer.

FullSizeRender-3 copy 5Woke up long before the sun kissed the horizon today and planned a quick six or eight mile ride to round out the weeks mileage to at least forty. I was on the trail hoping to avoid crowds. A gloriously cool morning after a 100 degree day yesterday, I reveled in my freedom and the glow of the sunrise. I was making good time, for me, and enjoying every minute of it.

Making the transition from gravel onto the sidewalk, which I’ve done hundreds of times, my wheel caught the edge and refused to pop up over and instead threw me to the ground.

It happened in this slow motion super fast way I can’t explain. It’s like being in a dream where your brain just can’t quite process what’s happening because it’s so out of the norm of your experience doing this easy thing.

What I remember most is thinking: this is my face smashing into the concrete. Everything is going to be broken and shattered and I am in deep trouble.

Here’s the answer to the title question. I had no idea where the flip the handlebars on my bike were or where my hands were.

Shock is the first thing that happens. So I just lay there. I might have rolled over on to my back. I could taste blood. And everything hurt, especially my head. I felt my face and came away with a handful of red. Oddly my glasses were still on my face. That’s how I knew my helmet saved my brain and most of my face.

I hoped someone would come along the trail but didn’t have a lot of hope for it that early on a Saturday. Lo and behold a friend of mine rolls up and says, “Hi Kami, what are you doing down there?” Or something equally hilarious if you aren’t the one on the ground. “Stan?” I said. “Am I ever glad to see you!”

He did a quick assessment and pulled me up off the trail of ants I had landed in. (Surprisingly didn’t get bit!!!)  Brushed the ants off of me, got my bike out of the way and told me to sit tight while he rode back and got his truck to drive me and my bike home.

A couple minutes later another friend happened to jog by. When she was sure I had help on the way and was okay to be alone, she suggested I use the ice in my water bottle on my face to keep the swelling down.

Another friend called a mutual dentist friend later in the morning who came by my house and made sure I hadn’t really ruined any teeth even though they hurt a bunch.

Needless to say, I felt like a crew of angels had been dispatched after I learned my lesson to not be so cocky on my bike, be more careful of transitions, and make sure MSH can hear a phone ringing if I’m going out riding alone. Oh, and the lesson to always, always, always wear my helmet.

Everything hurts everywhere almost ten hours after my fall from Grace. (Isn’t that a cute name for my bike?) I feel way worse than I look, which isn’t saying much, I suppose. My knee feels swollen, I have bruises that I can’t explain.

Oh, and the bike is okay. Some scrapes on the right side of the bike even though I fell left. The handlebars must have turned completely around to face me. I’ll get her a nice tuneup at Global Bikes next week, just to make sure I didn’t do any permanent damage. I’m not going to be riding for a week or so, I’m guessing. But I’ll be back out there again, for sure.

For today at least, I’m sucking meals out of a straw and hanging out on the couch bingewatching stuff and alternating Ibuprofen and Tylenol and icing the knee and mouth.

I’m also counting my blessings that I can still walk, and talk and laugh about all this.

Biffing it just aint fun.

So hold on. Don’t hold on. Just stay safe while having fun.

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A Mother’s Day Gift from my Son and Daughter in Law. Perfect!

 

 

 

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Categories: Biking, Exercise, Outdoors, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments
 
 

Friday Letter to My Kids: That Was Real In Tents

March 25, 2016

Dear J, J, L and L,

Sorry for the bad pun in the title. I couldn’t help myself. But this letter happens to discuss tents. One tent in particular.

IMG_5982

Very handy

Your father and I recently went camping. Yes, camping in March in Arizona. We got up in to the pines but not into any patches of snow. We’ve done that with L and L as I recall. That was the “Little Muddy Foot” and “Queen of the Flame” with snow patches around us trip. That was cold. Oh, and once with Aunt Ny, up American Fork Canyon in April. Brrrr.

I digress.

So, as I was saying,  your dad and I went camping. Instead of the two-man tent, which is pretty snug and requires crawling around and barely allows kneeling upright, we chose to bring the good ol’ six man tent. You remember that one, a big yellow and white dome with a gray rain fly. Yup, that tent. It’s big enough for standing up to get dressed and maneuvering around in. It’s a spacious and comfortable temporary abode for two people.

For six people, it’s a snug fit. Oh, but the warmth generated inside there is awesome on a cold camping night. We’ve had a few of those in that tent.

IMG_5974

Ponderosa Pines and sunshine!

If I put my brain to it I’m sure I could almost come close to remembering all the times we’ve put up that tent and slept in it. We’ve slid the poles through the sleeves on that tent in a bunch of states. Washington, California, Idaho, Utah, Arizona, New Mexico, Wyoming, (oddly, never Colorado) Oklahoma, Arkansas, Tennesee, and North Carolina. Let me know if you think I missed any.

I remember a Thanksgiving in North Carolina with raccoons visiting during the night. And two days of rain camping also in North Carolina a little too near a stream that rose a few feet. There’s the New Mexico fiasco as part of the camping our way across the country. Pitched our tent across the lake from a nuclear power plant in Arkansas, where I was sure I was gonna die but somehow didn’t. We’ll never forget rain camping with a grand mud fight in Oklahoma.

We’ve had some grand adventures in that tent. We’ve also experienced angst and anger, aggravation and sheer boredom in that tent. If that tent could talk, imagine the tales it would tell. We’ve owned that creative piece of engineering genius made from fabric since October 1989. That makes it 27 years old. That’s quite a long life for a tent.

How can I be so sure of the year and month? Your Dad called me from Oakland, California where he was working in a skyscraper on October 17, 1989 to tell me he was in an earthquake. We decided in the days following that disaster that we needed to be more prepared for whatever the world and life threw our way. Owning a tent and some camping equipment would make us a bit more self-reliant if we ever found ourselves evacuated or homeless for whatever odd reasons life comes at us with.

One of the best investments we ever made was that tent and those sleeping bags. I hope you agree.

IMG_5981A few years back the rainfly became a congealed mass of guck. I think it spent a month too long in the back of the truck on an extended road trip and the heat did a number on its chemistry. The manufacturer no longer made that tent or rainfly (imagine that after 27 years) so we didn’t haven a replacement.

On this most recent camping trip we jury-rigged a rainfly out of a blue tarp. We did that not for any rain in the forecast, but to keep the heat from escaping out the mesh panels at the top of the tent. It looked a little amateurish, but it served its purpose.

Breakage kind of defined this camping jaunt. Luckily no bones were broken. But one of our cots broke, which was inconvenient but not unbearable. And one of the camp chairs collapsed while your dad was sitting in it. That was inconvenient. (I knew we should have thrown in an extra one.) And then after nightfall a zipper broke on one of the tent doors. As a quick and dirty fix we simply duct taped it shut. (Red Green would be proud.) But by morning the wind had kicked up and the duct tape didn’t hold things together in all that swaying. I woke up to a cold breeze blowing through the tent.

IMG_5977

My sewing job included a needle poke and blood.

We debated what to do about that, since we wanted to stay another night. I dug through my backpacking pack and found a sewing kit and guess what? I sewed that broken zipper opening shut! Was that clever or what? I was pleased with myself. Luckily that tent has two doors, so we simply used the other one.

Between the rainfly and the tent door we got the hint that it’s time to retire the old reliable family tent. I knew you’d be broken hearted to hear this. Or at least semi-interested. So I thought I’d let you know about it before we give it a fitting farewell. It almost feels like we ought to be respectful and burn it, but I don’t know if I could watch that happen. Saying goodbye is a tough thing.

Of course, we need to buy a replacement tent before we do that. I’d like a four-man tent that you can still stand up in, at least in the middle of it. I think we’re past the backpacking stage, but you know your dad will want to camp in all four seasons, so it’ll need to be a rugged piece of equipment.

FullSizeRender-3 copy 4

These Flutterbys were everywhere!

I have so many happy memories that revolve around that tent. We had some great times camping, didn’t we? I’d love to hear about some of your favorites sometime. To me, they were all epic and made us the family that we are.

Even though three of you are out of state this Easter, and I’ll miss coloring eggs and putting olives on our fingers during Easter dinner, I’ve been feeling a strong connection to you this week, thanks to that old yellow tent.

Thank you for always being willing to go along on those outings, and for being part of the joy of the outdoors that’s such an integral part of who I am. Here’s hoping that a love of nature and camping has woven itself affectionately around your genes as well.

Love you each beyond expression,

Mom

~~~~~

“My tent doesn’t look like much but, as an estate agent might say, “It is air-conditioned and has exceptional location.” ~ Fennel Hudson

 

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

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.)

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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:

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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

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