Follow by Email

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


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


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, 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...

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Giving Thanks

Sometimes, being a writer with a global audience has it's temptations. Just lately, I've been biting my proverbial tongue so hard I've damn near bitten it off. I'm going to be grateful, dammit, even if it requires me to do the psychological equivalent of sticking my fingers in my ears and singing "La la la" as loudly as I can to muffle all other *sounds*.

There are things in life we don't choose. Sure, there's a faction of folks who are aggressively "positive" (It's a thing), who like to talk about how all things in life are a personal choice. I have theories about them that range from them being in total denial at least some of the time, to thinking maybe they've never really dealt with anything beyond the average, human-life kinds of stuff. Who knows? I see the value in the full range of human emotions, but obviously prefer to feel calm and happy, so I get the motivation here. Having said that, I come from an understanding that some of the most truly sh***y things that happen are the results of bullsh** actions taken by other people, or circumstances beyond our control in general. There's been an awful lot of the former going on lately, and it's forced me to make some choices about how to respond. That's something we always have control over: our own behavior. Sometimes I BARELY have control over that, but kudos to me for at least trying :-)

So what if my building manager wants to have my car towed (out of the parking space that I pay for) right before Thanksgiving because my registration is two weeks late? That's HER karma, not mine. (FYI, I just parked elsewhere until I can deal with it on Tuesday, neener, neener!)  I seethed and thought about it awhile, and considered that maybe it was worth a satisfying, politely-scathing email that cc'd her boss and sarcastically wished her a Happy Thanksgiving as well. Nope. Her Karma. I'll just deal with it Tuesday.

Annoying, sure. But it's the work drama has been the really sticky bit for me, and my real challenge in terms of disconnection. It's not even my *real* job, just my side hustle, but the dysfunction is hurting people I like. That makes it a little tougher to ignore. They re-hired an ex-employee who was a terrible employee on their first go-round, and who has an alarming criminal history. I'm very pro giving people second chances. We all screw up sometimes. But they didn't just hire this person back, they made them an assistant manager, giving this person some degree of power over their good and loyal employees who have put in the hours and done a good job. Does this person have any people skills whatsoever? Hell no. They have also chosen to speak badly of good people who have worked hard for them (which backfired, because literally everybody else knows the truth). They've lost good people already as a result of both of these situations. Is this my Karma? No, it is not. I know what happens next (I just watched a similar thing happen to another business. They lost all their qualified employees, had to shut their doors and have since declared bankruptcy. They are also under criminal investigation as we speak). But I care, so I want them to change course. I want to scream "YOUR BUSINESS IS YOUR EMPLOYEES, PRIORITIZE THEM!" from the top of my lungs, but to what end? Can I do anything about it? Nope, not a damned thing. What I can do is surround myself in an imaginary hamster ball of solitude, and go in, do my job, and leave. I will do that until the business collapses or until I can't do it anymore. And I'll cash my checks.

I know by now you're thinking "But where are the gratitudy parts? Where is the giving of thanks?" No worries, I'm getting there. I'm grateful that I can take a step back and not react (well, not react-ish. This post is arguably a reaction). Sometimes good things can come from a whole world of stupid. Who knows? Maybe I would have been given a big ticket on my way to the Thanksgiving festivities had my building manager not so kindly reminded me of my late registration. And in trying to distract myself from all the crazy at work, I found a way to finally tame the fire in my left butt cheek! (I have piriformis syndrome. It is literally a pain in the a**). I am calling that a major *good*. I was getting ready to sit on a tennis ball (again, some more) when I found this blog: Duncan Sports PT

So sometimes, things just work. Sometimes, there's peace in letting things go, and wisdom in knowing when that's appropriate. I've been doing it a lot lately. And I'm grateful that I know how and am able to. It's been a frequently repeated theme in my life, and I've had a lot of practice :-P

Moving on, I have a big turkey-day brouhaha to look forward to, family that I'm excited to see and an enormous pile of delicata squash to make into something yummy. Delicata is my FAVORITE squash, so I'm super stoked (Yeah, I have a favorite squash. It's not weird.) I have running to do, a posterior to rehab and Christmas crafting coming down the pike. I love this time of year, and it's that bigger picture that I'm choosing to embrace. The rest of it is out of my hands.

On that note, I wish you all a truly gluttonous, indulgent and awesome day filled with fun, good people and gratitude. I don't say it to my friends nearly enough, but I really do love you guys! Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 7, 2017


Summer is gone. Gone is the warm sand between my toes, the cool embrace of the lake. It ebbed, it flowed, it ebbed again, lost until a different season. Gone are the sun's warmth, deep blue skies, and succulent greens. Gone are the vibrant fields of wildflowers. No more warm summer nights spent laughing and relaxed outdoors with friends. 

Greens replaced with vibrant color, finally succumb to the greys and browns of November. Fields are barren and bleak. Trees stand bare, nothing left but moody shapes and rough textures. They creak and bend as the wind buffets them relentlessly. The wind rattles them like bones; it cuts through my clothes to my very being. 

Yellow light pours through windows, a respite from the cold. Welcome warmth can only be found indoors. The cotton candy evening sky becomes a bruised and faded revenant. It weeps against my windows, all drizzle and sleet. 

But still, only a hint of what's to come.

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Why I Run

I recently had a discussion with a health professional about why I run. She was all about the obvious: The health benefits, the endurance, weight loss, etc. How wonderful that I care so much about my physical health! I didn't have the heart to tell her that all that was secondary. Yes, I enjoy all of those counts even if you don't emphasize it...but my reasons go so much deeper. Actually, I never intended to run at all. It just kind of happened. 

I've walked  for years. I've walked so much that I can walk just about forever. I love walking, especially when it's hiking someplace peaceful and remote, but I felt like I needed to do something more. It started with intervals/hill sprints. I had forgotten how much I liked to run. I used to run all the time when I was a kid, just for the fun of it and to see how fast I could push myself to go. Sometimes I would pretend I was a horse, galloping hell-bent for leather through a field. I loved the wind in my face and my hair blowing out behind me as I pushed myself faster and faster. It was freedom; it was everything. And then I stopped. I had my reasons.

My intervals led me to more running. It felt so good. It became a type of escapism, the only one I had. I don't smoke, do drugs or drink (well, usually), and I so desperately needed something. Life is tough sometimes. Like, really tough. People like to tell me how emotionally guarded I am, and I really do try to be (yes, I know it's not a 'good'). But most people have no idea how miserably I fail at that (I am astounded that my emotional squishy-ness isn't obvious to all and sundry!) Sometimes, existing in the world feels like an act of outrageous vulnerability. Sometime sh** just hurts. No, I'm not always so tough. Ergo, escapism. Running is my out.

When I'm confused, when things feel stuck in my real job, when my (supposedly simple, easy) side-hustle becomes a chaotic, clusterf*** of dysfunction, when my heart hurts, I don't have to just sit there and take it. I can go and I can do. Nothing makes me feel more anxious than helplessness, so it's a relief. I can metaphorically run away while building myself up, making myself stronger. I can focus on breathing, moving. I can feel the wind in my face and become a carefree kid again. I can sweat it out and leave it all on the trail. Yes, running can hurt too, but it doesn't take anything away. It isn't unfair or senseless. There is a point to it, and it builds and strengthens. It adds something positive and uplifting. Even when it sucks (like Thursday, when I got soaked to the bone), it still makes the day a better one.
I spend a lot of time living in my head. Sometimes that's fine. I need my imagination to be functional, creative and vivid in order to work on the things I'd like to pursue. Sometimes, it gets away from me and that's less fun. I desperately need the physical outlet that running provides, that groundedness to counteract the mental activity. Being physically tired manages a lot of mental mischief. My busy brain functions best on days that end with me being sweaty, dirty and exhausted. Those days are always the happiest, too.

It love that running is a solitary pursuit. It doesn't require anybody else's support, help or permission. It's mine, and the only thing standing between me and a happy outcome is me. Success is guaranteed if I just keep going, and I know how to do that. I've always HAD to do that, and this time it's for me. I can make myself a promise, and know that I will keep it. Sometimes, just having one sure thing in my life is what gets me through the day.

I know I've put a lot of not-necessarily-traditional reasons out there for doing this particular sport. I've come to accept that my reasons for doing most things are not usual. I'm okay with that. I DO have a few more obvious reasons though. My friends run. I don't mean that they run like me, I mean that they REALLY run, they 'train-for-marathons' run. It would be fun to do 5-Ks with them if I can screw up my courage and deal with the crowd (and hey, T-shirts!) The more I run, the more of a hiking machine I will be, and that's something I really look forward to. And I can, because the only person it depends on to be successful is me. I guess having that control is the bottom line.