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Friday, September 14, 2018

Moving

For the first time in ten years, we are moving. It used to be something we (reluctantly) did a lot, but it's our choice this time, and it really IS time. When we moved in ten years ago, it was a pretty perfect situation. It was affordable, safe and located just where we needed it to be. We've really liked it here. I'm not going to go on with a laundry list of complaints, because it's been a comfortable home, and there's been a lot of awesome here. It was the first place I lived that wasn't a chore factory, it was close to a really awesome rec path, close to school, and my neighbors (most have them) have been pretty great. Hell, I even wrote a book here! We were able to have cable for the first time in forever, and we got to experience the joy of having food delivered. I know it sounds like little stuff, but my daughter and I have spent a lot of time in the middle of nowhere, so it was an exciting new experience.

But life moves on. Things that used to matter, don't anymore. Priorities change. And sometimes, life gets so outrageous that you just need to hit the reset button. I'm there. And yeah, I have specific complaints about the area (not the least of which is the aggressive dog that continues to live down the hall, despite multiple complaints and two police reports), but it was time, anyway. So after a particularly nasty encounter with the dog down the hall, I just said to my daughter "Let's move", kind of on a whim. When she came back with "God, yes", I knew it was happening. And what an overwhelming (but exciting) proposition that has been.

I'm not a materialistic person, like, at all. But I have a stupid amount of stuff. There was a time that that gave me a feeling of security, now it just makes me feel like I'm suffocating under the weight of it all. Most of the stuff that I have was somebody else's stuff that was given to me. I could always say no, but the combination of being raised by frugal people and coming from a personal place of scarcity has made it difficult to do that. I am SO over it! I've given away everything that could be of use to somebody, and I've mercilessly tossed and purged anything else that wasn't immediately useful. It's long overdue, and the more I get rid of, the better I feel. It's a tangible representation of what is happening for me psychologically, too. I'm done taking on other peoples' sh**. I won't own it, take it, accept it or take responsibility for it. It isn't mine, and it's gotta go. Even moving; the physical act of moving on, feels absolutely right. What once was has value, has taught me what it needed to teach me, and will always be important in that way, but it's done. Everything is different from now on because it has to be. Old patterns are no longer acceptable. It feels like freedom.

I'm still a bit thrown by the reality of getting our stuff from point A to point B. Financially, the timing is pretty crappy and we really need more muscle, but my daughter and I have done a lot more with a whole lot less. Struggling sucks, but it's made us extremely resourceful and pretty philosophical about it. We've got this, even if we feel like we don't, we do. And our new place is AWESOME. It keeps a lot of what I like about our current home: Proximity to necessities, security, and it's clean, and well-maintained. But we like it's specific attributes even better (flooring, kitchen space, etc.) and it's a much quieter area. That's a biggie for me. It's been tough for me to live in proximity to so many people and so much traffic. In my ideal world, I live in a sturdy little cabin in the woods surrounded by trees and sky and stars. In the real world where I can't afford that, I at least need home to be a haven. I think the new apartment is a step closer to that.

I remain grateful to our current space for holding us so well all these years, I'm grateful for healthy closures and the strength to initiate them and move on. And I'm SO DAMNED EXCITED to see what the next chapter brings!!



Sunday, August 12, 2018

A Walk in the Woods

Photo: WpNature.com
I walk toward peace, a sea of green, an explosion of summer abundance. My footsteps on the path, leading me away from the noise and chaos of my day.

Gradually the sounds of traffic fade, and my path narrows and softens. I see birds, some brown and black; others bright yellow, red, and even blue. they argue back and forth above my head the way birds do. 

The sun filters to the soft forest floor, all shadows and glitter. I feel the warmth on my skin and take a breath. I can feel the tension begin to leave me. Nothing is important here except right now.

A light breeze kisses the back of my neck, raising goosebumps. It whispers in my ear. It says "You belong here". It says "You are home". My soul recognizes that truth.

I hear the brook, water gliding over stone. I send my cares with it, to be washed away and to dissipate. I can hear my breath, and the woods breathe with me. My mind is finally still and calm. I take my time and linger in this healing space.

Eventually I walk home; grateful, renewed and reminded of who I am.

Friday, July 20, 2018

Pain and Letting Go

Photo: Allie Brosh*
I did a big purge last week, and it felt pretty good. I don't mean the murdery kind with looting and whatnot, I mean cleaning out things I don't need. For somebody who doesn't really 'get' materialism, I sure do hang on to some stuff. Mostly what I've been hanging on to was dog stuff. It's one of the very few things that I'll spend real money on. Just ask my dog; he's wearing a nice coat made just for him, and I'm running around in holey sweatpants. Priorities, don'tcha know! I even cleared out Murphy's things that he doesn't use anymore, so wow!

 I've had 5 dogs in the last 25 years or so, most of them at the same time, and they had a lot of stuff. For some reason, I couldn't make myself let go of it. And a few days ago, it was like a revelation: I don't need to keep that stuff anymore. I wish that thought had occurred to me two moves ago, but better late than never.

 I get why there are certain things I hang on to. Scarcity has been a real thing and a big thing. Anything lost wasn't easily (or ever) replaced. That's part of it, but no longer relevant. The other bit is emotional: "But that belonged to________! How can I get rid of that?" But the truth is, I was there for the good parts, I got to spend time with my critters, and they'll never be forgotten. The rest is just stuff. Sure, keep a little something. But I don't have to keep ALL of it! So I gathered it up and donated it to somebody with a rescue who could make real use of it, and where it could do some good for some living critters. I feel lighter!


 It has often been a challenge for me to let go that way. I've experienced a lot of loss, and I suppose it was my way of hanging on in the only way I knew how. But the longer I live, the less I need that stuff, and the more confident I feel in the depths of those connections and the memories of those real and awesome experiences. Keeping 'stuff' is a little like building a monument to pain; a focus on loss and what's missing instead of the bigger, more important parts.

 Pain is part of life; EVERYBODY'S life. It's certainly been a part of mine. But what do I want to do with it? Do I want to make it the central pillar that I construct the rest of my life around? F*** no! I want to acknowledge it, experience it, and move through it, knowing there is something on the other side. I want to learn what I need to from it, and then heal. I recently watched "Nanette" by Hannah Gadsby (Highly recommend! Very Powerful!) and there was one line that she said that really stood out to me: "There is nothing stronger than a broken woman who has rebuilt herself" And boy, she isn't kidding! But that means you don't stay broken! And I'm NOT a broken woman anymore, and haven't been for a looooong time. Not everybody seems to have gotten that memo.

 Okay, so this took a turn as it often does. I guess that's what my blog is for :-) But full disclosure: Parts of my life really hurt right now. There's nothing I can do about it. I'm having to be very 'Serenity Prayer' about some things, and it's hard. I know I can always resort to what my shrink calls "the Nuclear Option"(publicly publishing the truth of an ugly situation I'm involved in), but it isn't who I am. I would certainly be vindicated, but at what cost? Ergo, accepting the things I can't change, and trusting life to sort it out. It always has, so I have to have faith in that.

So like my purging of all the dog stuff that I don't need, I'm purging the unhelpful emotional weight that I've been carrying around. I don't need it. Letting go doesn't change time or experiences, or negate anything good or valuable. It just allows to me to focus forward on things that are positive, loving, nurturing and healing. Sometimes that's all we can can do.

*This photo came from one of my favorite blogs! It can be found here: Hyperbole and a Half: Boyfriend Doesn't Have Ebola. Probably

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Gun Violence

I was going to call this post something else, something a little less incendiary.  But I'm very much about telling it like it is whenever possible, and the title is apt. It's been another rough week. Another week of partisan propaganda, another week of circular arguments, another week of kids begging our government to do something, another week of protests planned. My friends and family know very well what my personal feelings on this issue are, what my opinions are, and what I believe. I will get to that in a bit, too. Just a little. I'm realizing though, that if this is a problem we want to solve (and I often have to wonder if there are some who like things just as they are), we need to get beyond our opinions, thoughts, feelings, political biases and personal beliefs. We need to understand that any proposed solution that falls into the ban guns/more guns box, is a non-starter. It's the argument we have Every. Single. Time. It gets us nowhere, it will ALWAYS get us nowhere, if for no other reason than each of these proposals (in their many incarnations) fails to consider the values and priorities of enormous groups of people. I don't like that idea because it means I don't get what I want, either. But there it is. This isn't about a party getting their way, it's about solving a problem that really needs to be solved.

Party politics hasn't been the only issue, but it's certainly been a major contributor. What we've failed to do is study this issue objectively, and it's something that really needs to be done ASAP. It's been difficult to do so because of legislation put in place to block that and to block funding that supports it. It's a situation that's outlined fairly well in this article: What's Missing From the Gun Debate  
Once upon a time, the NRA used to be a reputable American institution. They were about firearm safety, and about protecting rights. This is no longer the case. Please understand that I grew up in a rural hunting culture, and watching the decline of the NRA was like watching a trusted friend become a murdering psychopath. I mention this only for context. Without a doubt, somebody is reading this and assuming "brainwashed libt***". Sorry, no. I'm not going to fit into any of the neat little boxes you've been told to believe in, so don't bother trying. I'm just not very suggestible. But try to look at this objectively, if you can. The latest propaganda put out by the NRA isn't just alarmingly Orwellian and irresponsible. It's dangerous, outright lies directed at people who are less discerning about what they will believe, and inclined to act on the misinformation provided. The NRA knows EXACTLY what they are doing. On the upside, as their message has gone more and more off the rails, their membership has dropped. Last year I looked into the specific numbers (and I encourage you to do the same. It's a much better use of time than arguing with what you don't want to hear!) and the percentage of Americans who owned guns was somewhere around 40%. Of those folks, only about 5% were NRA members. This may have changed since last year (check it out! I will share non-partisan links if you find them!)  Money HAS to be an issue here. And here is a big ol' question for ya: How does a lobby that represents such a small fraction of our population have more power over our government than the people who elected that government? And why aren't we losing our collective sh** over that? Because we should be!

I wouldn't be me if I didn't try to breakdown some of the proposals I've heard on social media. In the ban guns category, the most popular suggestion is to ban "assault rifles". I won't personally go into detail, but I will share this Wiki page with you: Federal Assault Weapons Ban  As with anything I post, if you don't trust the source, don't bother arguing with me about it. Do your own research. Learn some things. One of the unfortunate things about semi-automatic weapons (besides their obvious kill efficiency) is the ease in which they can be converted to automatic (which is illegal). They were designed to be easy to convert, and conversion supplies/kits/instructions are legal and readily available. This isn't by accident or oversight. IMHO, this needs to be addressed NOW, at the very least. I have friends who love their semis and are responsible with them. I've said I don't have a problem with these folks having them. But right now ANYONE can have them, right down to the dude arguing with the carrots in the grocery store (to be fair, that could be me on any given day as well, lol). That's not okay. The other popular suggestion is to ban guns entirely. That is a non-starter, what with the whole 2nd amendment and all. (Having said that, I wish people showed equal concern for the other amendments. Just sayin'.) And see above re: values and priorities of large groups of people.

Popular on the more guns side of the argument is the idea of armed guards at schools. The problems with that are many: There was an armed guard present at our most recent mass shooting, and that didn't stop it. In fact, there are armed guards at banks that still get robbed, in malls where items are still stolen and violence still occurs, and we've had presidents shot and/or killed SURROUNDED by highly trained, armed protectors. Personally, another issue for me is the normalizing of violence. This is a just me, opinion thing here, but I don't want to live in a culture that surrounds it's children with guns, or needs to. In my opinion, for a developed country, that is a HUGE fail. In the same category is arming teachers. I don't know who YOUR teachers were, but none of mine was Rambo. (I'm trying to imagine my gentle, elderly humanities teacher drawing down on an angry teenager with a semi-automatic. Yeah, not so much). Most of my mother's teachers were nuns. They could be scary, but seriously? Here's the biggest problem with that though: TEACHERS don't want that. You are asking them to be willing to commit suicide as part of their job description. We already have enough trouble finding and keeping good teachers, this expectation might just eliminate the profession altogether. We have made education so low on the priority list that we already have trouble funding schools, even to the point of providing basic supplies for the students. But now we suddenly have funds for tactical training and weapons? Um, huh?

Okay, here's the bit where I get personal. I don't want more guns. We have a huge issue with gun-related violence in this country, to the point we are uniquely violent within the developed world and getting more so. It's shameful. Having said that, I understand that it isn't just a gun problem. It IS a gun problem in that access is essentially unlimited. But there are other contributing factors, too, and I believe that we can't put all of our focus on one, single thing. We need to be willing to look at all the issues, and we need to study the issues in real time. In my fantasy world, lobbies no longer get to use money to influence policies. Our government is clearly a sh** show, let's DEAL with that. Taking away the financial influence would be a productive step in the right direction. We need to keep tabs on the folks who stockpile weapons. I don't mean 'Uncle Joe Hunter" with his cabinet full of hunting rifles. I happen to think a lot of 'Uncle Joe'. He's a decent guy, a good friend and neighbor, and he just wants to go hunting with his friends come November. I'm talking about the angry, paranoid guy who thinks his lack of impulse control and his anger management issues make him AWESOME. This guy won't take responsibility for his own behavior. He's an entitled, giant toddler who thinks everybody better tip toe around him, or else. And he loves to collect weapons and brag. THIS guy needs to not have guns. We have to find a fair and logical way to make sure of that, while leaving 'Uncle Joe' to do his thing. I don't have the answers here, really. I'm just a heartsick person who can't take any more of this sh**. I just know that the only way we are going to fix this and have a country worth living in is to want to solve the problem, and to want that more than we want to "win".


Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Fortysomething

My birthday comes around at a time of year that, for me, things go a little 'groundhog day'. I don't mean the actual day, I mean the movie. It feels a bit like I'm living the same cold, grey day over and over again. I'm really not a fan of winter. I love that my birthday is a day to look forward to in the midst of an otherwise relatively dreary time of year. I love that I'm an Aquarius, because weird is the best way to be. And I really DO look forward to my birthday. I see so many women flipping out about getting older, and I guess I don't get it. It's like they're ashamed or something, when getting older is a gift. It means you're winning!

I have been asked SO many times if I would go back to being 20. That would be a loud, resounding F*** no! Give up what I know, the depth of my understanding, the perspective and wonder of experience, and all the people I've met along the way, just for something as ultimately useless as smoother skin and a better body? What a terrible trade that would be. And let's face it, I can still do everything I did back then (and more), but I'm a whole lot better at it ;-) I can listen to people argue passionately about things that experience has taught me are irrelevant, and not get involved. Things just don't get to me the way they used to, because I can see a bigger picture. Here's the cool thing though: I'm still teachable, maybe even more than I used to be. I think that's a choice, because I know folks my age (and older) who won't/can't hear anything that doesn't gel with what they already know. It makes me sad, but I've learned to not engage and that brings me peace. But I had to learn that. I think it makes more sense to just do what you know is right. Just don't be an a**hole. That's my goal. Well, one of them, anyway.

My goals have evolved and changed as I have. In my 20's I thought I had it figured out, then in my 30's I started to understand that maybe I didn't know sh**, but I would work on fitting into a persona that felt comfortable and right. In my 40's I was freed from all of that. I've found some authenticity. Now I KNOW I don't know sh** but it's okay because learning never stops. I know that we aren't here to be anything but who we really are, and that evolves and changes with experience and that's okay. I sort of feel like a kid again, knowing that there is so much out there to explore and so much to learn.

Sometimes, I get bummed because I feel like I haven't done anything with my life. There are a lot of things I want to do that have thus-far been out of my reach, but I'm not done yet. I need to remember the awesomeness of my life sometimes, just to get some perspective. I had the simplest and coolest small-town upbringing, I had horses. I was raised by educated and decent people who taught me to be kind. My family rocks. My friends, the new ones, the ones I've known my whole life, and everyone in between are some of the best people, and in that way I'm incredibly blessed. I'm super picky about who I 'friend' on FB, but the vast majority of them are my real friends. My mom did her masters thesis on the benefit a sense of humor can have on your health. My step-dad is a kind soul who can do anything, and does it quietly and without need of fanfare. My dad is a rock hound who lives in a 5th-wheel. How awesome they all are. All of them moving forward and searching in their own way.

Sometimes, I've felt like I've stood still, but I haven't. I've done so many things, from working in a shoe factory to making guacamole. I had a sculpting business, my horse-sculptures sold around the world. I've worked on farms and in dog kennels. I sang, I danced. I went to school and met new people and learned new things. I've struggled, and I haven't. I've published a book, I've been on television. I've had entire phone conversations with movie producers. I've met so many famous people through music. My daughter is half Russian. Sometimes, it feels like my life has been so small, but it hasn't. I feel like I'm just getting to the good part. There are things left to do, and dreams yet to be fulfilled.

I still have a horse to look forward to. What I've wanted has changed over the years, and maybe that's why there's been a delay in the fulfillment of that particular dream. As much as waiting sucks, it's been educational and the perspective it's given me has been very valuable. I haven't found love yet. Oh, there's been plenty of "love", but not love. And that's cool. Love knows where to find me. If he wants me, he's going to have to come and get me because I'm not going to chase him (whoever 'he' may be). My daughter turned out to be an amazing human being, and somehow that makes me feel like I deserve to have my life back and to live it to the fullest. I know what I need to do, and there are steps I can take to build on the success I've already worked for. I just need to pull my head out of my a**, remember how much my dreams mean to me and FOCUS. As the sun comes around again and marks another year in my life, I look forward to another pink cake and celebration with loved ones, and all the experiences yet to be had.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Getting Real in 2018

Yeah, I know it's the middle of January, but it's okay. I actively don't do new year's resolutions, anyway, so the timing isn't super important. I guess I feel like if you or something in your life needs to change, then you change it at the RIGHT time, and not wait for a specific date. If the two things happen to coincide, well, groovy :-D I'll admit, too, to not feeling particularly inspired to say anything specific, anyway. And sometimes that's really when I should, so we'll give it a go.

I thought that reading some posts by other bloggers might inspire me with something. Every once in awhile I'll poke around into the insights of strangers (folks who I don't usually read), just to broaden my perspective a bit and hopefully gain some insight. People are interesting! Most of the time it works, and today was no exception. Though today inspired me in an entirely different way. Today, the posts I ended up reading were long, dry rants around obsessive viewpoints. They read like a college dissertation. Informative about a very narrow, specific point of view? Sure. Interesting and engaging? Not so much. As someone who often hails from the overthinky tribe, it was eye-opening. These long-winded diatribes (some, complete with bullet points, ffs) were a reflection of how I think at times. I work very hard at not allowing that into my writing, because...BORING! But it was an excellent reminder to do more to shut off that largely unhelpful part of myself. Overthinking the sh** out of everything is an attempt at control that we don't really have. I know that's why I do it. But the idea of control is illusive. We can plan, we can do, and we can set our intentions, but reality is almost always stranger (and more interesting) than fiction or belief. You know what they say about the best laid plans, and all that.

It was also a reminder that perfection doesn't exist, and thank God. It's a construct of the ego (much like thinking the sh** out of everything). Even if perfection was attainable, it would be boring and predictable as sh**. Also, consider the kind of pressure involved in striving for perfection; what an exhausting waste of the finite amount of time that we have. I'd rather have 'awesome', 'fun', and 'real' any day! Flaws are interesting and unique. And believe me, I had a lot of work to do to get to that place. In terms of a preference for writing styles, I love the storytellers. I want to be drawn in, to feel like I'm there. I want to care, to feel something. Everything else is of lesser importance. So when somebody does the literary equivalent of talk at me about something, I tend to tune out and turn off. Obviously, I read for pleasure and entertainment most of the time :-) I'm not in college anymore. I can read what I like and write in my own voice. I guess that's it: When the reading is dry, the writer's voice is lost. The story isn't there, and there's no reason for me to be, either.

It would seem that (as usual) I've meandered a fair distance off-topic, but I actually haven't. This last year was a suck-fest, no matter how much I thought things over or how strongly I applied the considerable force of my will. But I learned a lot. Learning by immersion and living is the way to go, and that in itself was a learning experience. And learning never stops. I've seen what inauthentic looks like, and it isn't for me. I've watched others put on a show, and no thank you. For the first time in a long time, I'm happy to be who I am and where I am, because it's the real deal. In 2018, I have nothing to prove, and authenticity is the order of the day. I don't want to be perfect, in fact, I don't want to be anything or anyone except what and who I am. I know what I want and I know what I intend to strive for, but I'm also willing to surf the uncertainty of taking a few risks. I don't want to think the sh** out of everything. I want to be and I want to feel. I want to do things just because I want to do them. I want to throw my heart over a cliff and have faith that somebody will catch it. I want to run just to feel my heart pumping and hear my breath. I want to walk in the woods and get lost in everything happening around me. I want to take the time to count the f***ing stars. This year, I want to ride the highs and the lows as though they were a carnival ride, and I want to lose control.

Wishing my friends and family an amazing 2018 <3

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Closure

Endings are tough, even when they are right. I know this. I've had a lot of practice walking away from people and circumstances when the situation required it (and have watched people I love dearly walking away from me as well), so you think I'd be good at it by now. Not so much (said the woman who stayed in a ten year relationship six years longer than she should have, lol). Even endings that seem fairly insignificant can feel like kaka. Endings are just so...final.

So, I quit my little side-job yesterday. I had been thinking about it for awhile, but the stars just seemed to align in an instant, and the message was clear: Time to go. NOW. So I did. You know, if I'm thinking logically about this, it really shouldn't be a big deal. It's a job I didn't need that I took to help my daughter out. She was the manager at the time, and needed more people. In spite of some misgivings, I decided to be good sport and take the job. And hey, I kind of liked it. I liked the people that I worked with, the atmosphere was fun, and I was only there a couple of days a week so it didn't really cut into anything else I was doing. Then my daughter left, then there was more or less a mass exodus of good people, and then everything changed. It sort of reminds me of that movie Legend, when Lily touches the unicorn and it all goes to sh**. Though there are still a few good people there (who will be missed, for sure), it just wasn't the same. It had come to the point where I had no idea what I was going to have face when I showed up in the morning, and that doesn't work for me. Sure, I know; life is uncertain and all that. But there's a limit to the amount of mental anguish I'm willing to subject myself to for no good reason. I'm not a masochist.

So I walked away. Sometimes it's the only choice you have, especially when other people are involved. Sometimes, no matter how badly you want something or someone to be a certain way, to be what you need, or to just WORK, it just isn't going to happen that way. You can try to stick it out (potentially at the expense of your own psychological well-being), or you can walk away. The "walk away" option is still hard, especially when it feels like giving up. I hate that feeling. But sometimes it's the only good choice. The older I get, the the smarter I get about the "when". Go me, I guess.

So then what? Well, something new. No brooding, just forward motion. For me that means connecting with a trainer, running better and running faster (in my sweatpants, because I'm THAT cool). Really, just choose something that you like that pulls you out of a funk (as long as it isn't, like, alcohol or something harmful, obviously). If you're moving forward then you aren't looking back. But leave some space in your life, because nature abhors a vacuum. Sometime when you end something that isn't working, you create space for something good, something that WILL work. Sometimes life has more to teach us than that things have to end. Sometimes the lesson that's ready to be learned is more about beginnings. I wonder what that will be for me? Hmm...