Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Write On

Well, apparently the lights went out for more than my bedroom fixture. They went out completely with my writing.  Hmmmm ... what's with that?

Truly, for the past 6 months, I have not been able to write anything about anything. It's like I didn't even know how to write. It's like I didn't enjoy writing. A very strange turn of events, considering what an important part of my life writing has always been.

I feel lost without it. It's my beacon. It's my touchstone.  Even though I rarely ever read what I've written, I feel better for having done it. It's like I've captured a moment in time ... like a firefly in a jar.

I haven't captured any thoughts in a half a year. They've come and gone ... off into obscurity.  I wonder what they were. I wonder what I did. I always wonder where the time went ... now I truly don't know.

I am back in my studio, creating. I'm loving it.
I need to get back to writing too.
It's time to turn the lights back on.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Light's Out

Time of death:  3:22 am, Tuesday, May 22nd, 2012.  The light went out.

Up early to head off to the airport, I switched it on and it ‘blew’. It was a dramatic burst of brilliance, quite fitting rather than simply being non-responsive.  I didn’t believe it and switched it on more cautiously, willing it to shed its light as it always has. I tried it a number of times with same result. Darkness.

When we returned this week, I fully expected it to have fixed itself. It hadn’t.  I must say, it did surprise me. I was absolutely sure it had been possessed by magical powers – it was of another world.  Actually, every day since our return I carefully and gently switch it on and off, on and off - trying to spark it to life again. It hasn’t worked.

I wrote about our ‘magical’, albeit ugly, light fixture in a post back on August 7th last year. We have been here twenty four years this month and have never once replaced that bulb. Ever.  At this point I thought that it would shine on longer than we do.

I guess I am going to have to accept that its reign is over and dissect the fixture to extract the Magic Bulb. But I’m giving it a few more days to see if it’s just teasing.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Baby Squirrels

It's strange ... the things that are obviously out there that can escape you for years.
I have never in my entire life, got to watch a litter of baby squirrels play.
I've actually never seen a baby squirrel until the other morning when
 a tiny little fella came up to the door & looked right at me.

I have probably never noticed them because their tails are so long 
that you could mistake them for adult squirrels.

You can't mistake them when there's a whole mess them cavorting around like kittens.

That's what I had the pleasure of enjoying this morning.
They were hard to capture with the camera because they move quickly.
Very quickly.

There were seven of them. Five black. Two gray.
The gray ones have the showiest tails in this bunch.
We have some really neat squirrels with black bodies & fox-red tails
 ... not in this family though.

It was like watching an aerial act.  
Nimble. Confident. 
A delight to behold.

They're gone now. Sleeping, I suspect, after their major workout.
I can't imagine that energy being contained in a nest any longer.  
They've discovered the world.
And they like it.

I need to watch more carefully so I can experience it again.
Obviously, there have been baby squirrels around me lots of times,
but I just never noticed.
I'm glad I got to enjoy them today.
It's a wonderful way to begin a glorious Sunday morning.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Cute Shoes

I am not a shoe maven.  In a half century, no one has ever said to me: ‘Cute shoes.”

A couple years ago my friends decided that in order to 'Get Our Girl On', we needed ‘up’ our shoe fashion.  I nodded approvingly but knew full well that I would fall pathetically short in that mission.  Two main reasons – I am practical and I am cheap. I absolutely refuse to swap comfort for style.

It was 2009, the year of Ashley’s wedding. One friend, who was also being the ‘Mother of’  built her outfit around her spectacular shoes.  She didn’t even care that the tiny heels would sink down into the lawn at the tent reception. Her shoes SANG!  The 'upping' of my shoe fashion consisted of sewing vintage sparkly earrings on to extremely boring, plain sandals. My creativity is quite often born from thrift.

Shoes just have never been on my fashion radar. I have come to accept though, through my girls’ insistence, that white running shoes are only to be worn in the gym. So when I went off to Ireland two years ago, I bought a very-expensive-for-me, pair of black walking shoes. They served me well and I wore them Often. Yes, often with a capital O.

I was off to a business event one time with Jae when she insisted: “You can NOT wear those shoes.”  “Why not?” I said, “They’re black.” “ They might be black, but they're UGLY.  I am NOT going with you if you wear those shoes. I’ll lend you pair of mine.” she declared. I accepted her offer and when it was time to return them, she said “Keep them. You need them more than I do.” Bonus!  They became my one and only pair of decent black shoes. And I’ve worn them and worn them. And worn them.  But I do still sneak-wear my tired walking shoes.

Mother,” again my girls’ declared. ‘Declaring’ and using the word ‘Mother’ denotes exasperation. That tone is bound to ramp up over the years ahead as we switch roles.  “Mother – you have GOT to stop wearing those shoes in public; you look like some weird old lady who escaped from a home.”These, I’ll have you know …” - now it was MY turn to declare – “have walked all over Ireland. They are the most EXPENSIVE shoes I have bought in my whole life. I like them. They are black.” “They are worn out. And ugly.” they declared. “They were expensive. They’ are Foreign!” I retorted. A retort is fair game for a declaration. “WHAT Foreign?” they questioned impatiently.  “I don’t know. I can’t remember. Something that started with P.” I informed them, and chose to file their objection where they have filed mine on more than one occasion. They actually laughed at me. "Just because they're 'foreign' doesn't mean that they aren't ugly." was their reply.

Well, since they are my only pair of causal, comfortable black shoes, I had to wear them on my house mission this winter, which happened to involve paint.  You get the picture.  So, my black walking shoes – the expensive foreign ones which did start with ‘P’ …( Propet – I found the box) are terminal. I have come to admit that, just as I have come to the acceptance that my white running shoes belong in the gym. I bit the bullet today and decided  to invest in another pair of black walking shoes.                                                                                                                                                                                                              

By instinct, I gravitate to ‘Clearance.’ It was my lucky day!  “Thirty percent off the already ridiculously low marked-down prices.” BONUS!  Shoes my size. Cheap AND comfortable. Bonus, Bonus!

I went all Ilmeda Marcos. I had such a pile that I had to ask the sales clerk to get me a shopping cart. Her eyes got big, as I put pair after pair in …’Oh, I didn’t know you were TAKING all those … I thought those were just the ones you tried on.” "Indeed I am," I proudly told her, "I'm taking them ALL!".  A sweet elderly lady looked into my cart and commented that I would likely never live long enough to wear out all those shoes. She did – truly! I laughed and shared with her that that was more shoes than I’ve owned in my entire life. She said 'It's more than I've owned in MY lifetime too."

I've got shoes for Alyssa’s wedding in August. It won’t matter what colour of dress I get – I've got it all covered. Silver, gold, black, cream, even red.  I got a lovely pair of brown leather –soft & comfortable loafers. I got the most fabulously comfortable leather boots with a little heel.  I even got my black walking shoes … thirty percent off $22.  Some of the shoes were regularly $70 down to $14.99 and thirty percent off that. I even got some that were 30% off of 4.99.  I'd have been crazy to not stock up, especially considering I actually only go shoe shopping once every 6 years. I am also not a Shopper.

A friend came into my kitchen and saw this huge pile of shoes on my table. "Are you trying shoes for the wedding?" she asked. "I BOUGHT them." I informed her. "ALL of them." "YOU??!! YOU aren't a shoe person. I can't believe it - that's HILARIOUS!" she said and laughed hysterically. "You really need to take a picture." 

I have officially slipped into a whole new realm.  I have decided that this next chapter of my life, I AM going to be a ‘Shoe Person.’  

Why not. I’ve never been one before, and I’m all about new adventures. However - if I head off for a walk, you can bet the shoes that will be calling out to me will be my tired old buddies. I keep them well hidden because I know that there is definitely a conspiracy to make them disappear.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Sunrise Service

I attended an Easter Sunrise service this morning.
It was at the end of our lane.
The brook was the music;
the birds, the choir.
It was heavenly.
I cannot imagine 
that it could be possible to be any closer
to God.
I heard the anthem best with my eyes closed.
It dismayed me.
I have never really noticed
the range and diversity of the voices
quite so clearly.
It was nature intensified.
The bubbling of water over rocks.
The flapping of wings.
And birdsong.
Beautiful lilting sounds.
Sweet and mellow. Soprano. 
Buoyant. Cheerful.
Low and rhythmic. Alto.
Gentle cooing far off.
And honking and quacking. 
And the gobble of a flock of wild turkeys.
It was harmony and babel combined.
A multitude of voices together,
not at all in tune,
not all melodious,
but each one adding its own unique and essential fragment
to the proclamation of a new day.
In the darkness, the sound began with just a few notes.
As the sun rose higher,
 the choir grew louder,
more ebullient,
more celebratory.
And then, as it reached the tops of the trees
it became quieter,
as if they said 
'Our work is done. We woke the sun.' 
And off my choir went to carry on the business of day.
Before that though, oh...the colour.
It was an Easter egg sky.
Blue and pink and gold.
Indeed befitting of this day. 
And then, in the gentleness of the morning,
the sun climbed higher and took the colours with her.
She softly scattered them amongst the clouds.
She replaced the darkness with colour,
and then reflection.
The service was over; the day had begun.
As I walked in the lane
I gave thanks for my many blessings;
for where I am and those I love;
for the glory of all creation;
for resurrection
and Life.
I was grateful that I had woke up early
and not missed
the experience of
such an enchanted time.
"Hello, my sweet Easter donkeys!", I greeted my long-eared friends,
who were looking somewhat confused.
"Is that really you?" they replied, 
"We don't often see you at this time of day."
"I'm celebrating Easter on this glorious morn." I told them.
"And that's your Easter finery?" they questioned ... 
"Pajamas, a blanket for a shawl and winter boots?
Ah yes.
Beauty and serenity. Weirdness and practicality.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Members of the Board

One by one, here are the characters running my head. You need to read the previous post, 'The Sybil Syndrome' in order to make any sense of this.

 He is a thorn in my side;
 an irritating little weenie.
He works the night shift as a 
self-proclaimed auditor.
He persecutes me
 with useless details and data.
When he's working, he drags out all the files - 
one after another - 
and leaves them all open.
He is petty and irritating and refuses 
to listen to reason.
He will NOT accept that there
 is no need to dredge up stuff
 that has been in the archives for years.
Being so persistent,
 he wears everyone else down
 to the point that they run away
and hide, so there is no one left
for moral support or distraction.

Frieda often works the night shift too.
In fact, I am suspicious that she
and Percy are having an affair.
He tries to impress her by getting as
many files open as possible.
She then goes through them
with an Eyore-esque
'woe is me';
fretting and fussing about
stuff that doesn't matter
in the least.
The rest of the board finds her
quite tiresome and they don't mind
 telling her with an exasperated:
"For heaven's sakes, Frieda - get a Life."
Of course,
Percy sticks up for her
every time.

Gabrielle - Gabby  for short.
She is far more enthusiastic and optimistic
 than Frieda, 
but at times her monkey chatter 
is equally as distracting.
Her stories, while certainly
far from glum and worrisome,
quite often go nowhere.
She's got good intentions
but occasionally she just needs to
shut up.
She doesn't do Silence.
She should.
She's likable for the most part,
but even her die-hard
friends on the Board
have been known to grumble
under their breath ...
"Gabby - will ya give it a rest."

Grace resides in Gratitude.
She is extremely patient, accepting and 
She is content.
She breathes slowly and deeply.
Her greatest pleasure in life is doing
nice things for people.
Often she gets overshadowed by
the volume and activity of the 
rest of the Board.
They don't allow her enough
time to think,
let alone act.
She really should be more pro-active.
She has no great aspirations
to move ahead
or be anywhere or anyone
other than who she is
right now.

Soula is the Keeper.
The Keeper of the Keys.
The keeper of treasures,
of memories, of stories,
of secrets.
She is excellent with keeping Secrets.
In fact, her middle name is Confidentiality.
She is the Steward.
The Board values that and respects her for it,
but too often they are vying for position
with their own docket
and her role is shoved way down the agenda.
She worries that she is not going to get to
document some of the
important stuff that she has been
entrusted with.
The rest of them need to go on
hiatus and leave her 
to her work,

Gideon is the other male on the Board.
In contrast to the peeney gerkin, Percy,
his presence is comforting.
He is the eternal voice of wisdom.
He knows stuff.
The Board knows he knows stuff.
Gideon sits quietly for the most part,
and when he speaks, it is ever so softly.
  The Board has come to learn that
they need to listen.
And act.
I've known about Gideon long before I
knew of anyone else - even Minnie.
We go way back - back to when I was
5 years old, when every night I would 
kneel and say the prayer:
"Guardian Angel, my guardian dear,
to whom God's Love commits me here.
Ever this day, be at my side;
To light, to guard, to rule and guide."
Gideon is my Guardian Angel.
It's good that he doesn't have an issue
                           with overtime.

Penny is left-brained.
She is highy organized and efficient.
She actually likes numbers
and is good with them.
She can do remarkable
things with a budget.
She has had to quietly
cultivate her skill
and a thick skin
because she gets absolutely NO
respect from the Board.
They pooh-pooh her
as insignificant and
refuse to believe that 
she does have those skills.
She doesn't care.
She's got enough
self-confidence to know 
that none of them would be anywhere
without her.

Anne with an E.
Like Anne of Green Gables -
my first novel after The Bobbsey Twins.
And Anne Morrow Lindberg -
for her Gift from the Sea.
Anne loves Words.
Individually and in groups.
She also loves a fine pen.
It is she who is responsible for
the plethora of journals.
When she attaches the pen to
her heart rather than her head,
the words flow like a river.
She works most effectively 
with minimal distraction.
Unfortunately, the blather of
the Board is incessant
and she finds herself only able
to work when the rest of them
are out to lunch.

Norma Jean is the Warrior.
She's often not present at the meetings
because frankly, 
she likes to choose her battles
and if she hung out with this eclectic ...
  (I almost said dysfunctional, but that's
unkind ... thank you, Grace)
bunch ... she would surely be
worn out or driven to complacency.
She tries hard to pay no heed to pettiness
or drama for the sake of Drama.
But she comes out as
fierce as a Mama Bear
if it involves
She has strong morals and values.
She sides with the underdog.
You might think she's sleeping
but she's not.
She'll be there when she's needed.

Helen is the Adventurer.
Named for Helen of Troy, and my friend 
Helen of Kansas who opened 
a whole world to me,
 and Helen Keller who said:
"Life is an Adventure, or it's Nothing."
And indeed, Helen thinks in terms
of every single thing in life being an Adventure.
Helen does not own a GPS.
She will look at a road map because
she likes to see the Big Picture.
She knows that some of the best adventures
come from getting lost.
She's not adverse to asking directions - 
you never know who you'll meet.
She loves surrounding herself with people.
She doesn't require much sleep.
Or much notice.
Do not invite her to do something
or go somewhere unless
you really want her to be there ...
because she WILL go.

Emma Sally Ann is Much.
She is a big woman with a big heart
and big dreams.
She also is a certified Hoarder.
She actually was Chair of the Board
for years and years and years;
until it was recognized that she
in fact was functioning with a Disorder.
Hoarder Disorder.
This Board is big on Disorder.
It's believed that Emma Sally Ann was
a Crow in her last life.
She was a Recycler before 
the word was invented.
She sees things in Nothing.
She makes things from Nothing.
That was all well and good for a 
very long time.
 She got the others right excited about it all.
Now they just think that she needs
an Intervention.

JADA is the Creative Soul.
She is named after the very, very most
ultimate creations that came from this life ...
Jaime, Ashley, Daniel and Alyssa.
She lives to create.
She sees potential in everything.
That's why Emma Sally Ann was her very
best friend for many years.
JADA is trying to distance herself as she
realizes that ESA enables her own issue
with A.D.D. - 'Artistic Disorder Disorder'.
To JADA, Creating is Being.
There is no other way to live.
Creating things, creating spaces,
creating opportunities, creating memories.
JADA loves the Old.
 And JADA loves the New.
JADA is fueled by Passion.
And People.

Minnie looks like a sad, pathetic little thing,
but she cannot be dismissed.
Next to Gideon, she was first on the Board.
For the longest time
she handled everything alone.
She is an introvert to the core,
but she is tenacious.
She held things together until
other characters could be recruited.
Even though she has outlived 
her usefulness,
and her role is obsolete,
 she has been grandfathered in.
She sometimes likes
to remind the Board of her presence,
especially in a group setting
where she's known to shush 
the whole Board to the back of the room.
She has shrunk with age,
but she is still very much present.

The last position on the Board is Vacant.
Like a well decorated house, 
and a circle of friends or family -
there should always be room for one more.
Frieda also tells me that it's definitely
unlucky to leave it dangling at 13.
Helen insists that it's always wise to
leave an opening for what it to come.
Soula feels that there is definitely 
another dimension to be welcomed.
Gideon says 'What will be will be.'

The Board has been reviewing applications.
The Realist keeps submitting a resume,
thinking that need is going to dictate.
The Board keeps rejecting it.
The Realist counters with:
 "You NEED to get a Real Job.
 You NEED to save some money. 
You NEED to stop letting the monkeys run the zoo.
It's time to let ME take control of this Head Room."

The Board replies with unified conviction - the only time that they have
achieved consensus. " We have operated quite acceptably in our
own quirky way for the past half century.  Application denied."
The position remains vacant.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

The Sybil Syndrome

I made reference in the previous post to 'Emma Sally Ann.' I suppose it’s time to share … or perhaps ‘confess’ would be a more accurate word … who she is.

On my perpetual quest for personal growth, last spring I attended Lorraine Harvey’s five week ‘Map Your Choices – Set Your Course’ seminar. One of our exercises was to identify that ‘voice’ we all have – the one that yatters at you and second guesses your decisions. We were to name it and draw a picture.

As if it was waiting a lifetime to be recognized and acknowledged, the minute I sent some thought in that direction, the voice popped right up. ‘Here I am!’, it said. And then, much to my surprise: ‘Me too!!’ It was another. ‘And ME!’ ...yet another, and another, and another. 

Within minutes my head was full of voices vying for attention. It’s no darn wonder that I have trouble focusing and find myself going in circles at times. My A.D.D. apparently stands for “A Delusional Delegation”.

One after another they came forward introducing themselves; I could hardly scribble fast enough. I sketched them out and took it to the meeting, which was an hour later as I had, as often happens, left it to the very last minute.

When it was my turn to share, I informed Lorraine that I did not have just one voice but an entire committee. ‘No,’ she said sweetly and patiently. ‘You just have ONE voice, even though it might sound like different ones.’ ‘No, Lorraine.’ I insisted: “You have not been in MY head. I have an entire Sybil Syndrome going on in there.” I carried on to share for the first time, the identities of those who had been working ‘in camera’ for all these years.

That month, our topic at WINGS was ‘What’s your story, Morning Glory?’  I thought it was as good a time as any to confess/confirm to the group of 40 women that my elevator might not go quite up to the top floor.

Since the little sheet of paper where I sketched my ‘Head Room’ would not be an effective visual, I decided that I needed to sculpt the Members of the Board.  True to form, I left it to the day before the meeting.  Apparently they were excited to come out of the closet as they literally jumped through my fingertips into the clay.  In less than 20 hours I not only sculpted the 13 heads, but ‘haired’ and embellished them as well. There wasn't time for tweaking and refining - they just are what they are. They are motley crew of Just Heads - bodies would just get in the way and clutter up my head even more.

Before I get to introducing them to you individually, I should say that this process has actually been very beneficial to me. Now that I have identified all the characters that are running my life and commandeering my thoughts, I have, on occasion, been able to take more active control of my head space. I can see who is acting as Chair and as CEO, I can exercise my right to ask them to step aside and let someone else more suitable take over the role.

Seriously, when I have needed to have some extra fortitude, I have called Norma Jean forward. She takes some coaxing at times.  And likewise, when Percy is irritating me to no end, which is generally during the night, I take great pleasure in sending the little weenie packing and inviting Jada to take over the meeting. She used to being Top Dog, but it seems as the board has grown that she is sometimes over shadowed. She is always on standby though and enthusiastically steps up to the plate when given the tiniest amount of encouragement. There are even times when they are totallly out of control, that I call a halt to the whole process and clear the Board Room. It's quite an amazing sense of control. All in my head of course, but then - isn't everything?

Old Habits Die Hard

I was doing so well in January, with my decision to stay off the computer until noon.  My mornings yielded great accomplishment. I wrote more blog posts in 4 weeks than I did all last year. Then February came and I unceremoniously slid off the wagon and have been blowing in the wind ever since.  I have returned to “just checking for email”; “just checking my facebook”; “just following a couple links”; “just reading the news headlines”. No writing. No planning. No action. No thinking.

Granted, I HAVE been busy. I got to go to work for two weeks, which was fun. And then two dear friends came from Kansas and Mississippi and we kicked up the Fun scale even higher by staying up half the night and squeezing a month’s worth of activities into eight days. Totally legitimate reasons for falling out of step. That’s okay. I know and accept that routine for me is short lived.  It’s the other ‘failure’ that has me shaking my head and wagging my finger at Me.

You know my recent battle cry:  ‘Less is More’; my ‘Dung & Purge’ mission; my 'Let Go of Stuff' challenge; "Distribution not Accumulation" … that whole thing that I have been consumed with lately. Indeed, I have some empty spaces and it felt good.

I’ve been uncharacteristically good about not being tempted to carry more things into the house but darned if I wasn’t tricked into a false sense of control.  Emma Sally Ann completely took advantage of that complacency, jumped up enthusiastically and took control of the Board Meeting.  And what did she gather up?  Something totally new and unique that I could not live without? Nope – not her. She went right for the tried and true, being the indiscriminate hoarder that she is.

I found myself at the cash register with Yet-Another Journal - a second one for 2012 no less. Even the fact that the year is a third over did not deter me.  And also Yet-Another Something for a Santa Bag.  As IF I did not have an overabundance of in that category already - shelves & shelves of stuff - more than I will ever use. Worse than both of those things, in terms of sheer ‘space’ was Yet-Another Fur Coat. 

When I log off permanently, I’m going to have to pop back when they trek up to my Studio to disperse my accumulation.  I want to see the looks on the faces when they discover my ‘Fur Coat Department’, and hear the speculation of ‘Why in the world ….???!!”   They can sort through my 187 journals to find out the answer.