Being Human.

Standard


I don’t feel like being a responsible human being 90% of the time anymore. 1511449_10152953262780040_794822072400636708_n-2It’s hard. None of the kids like me. Nobody cares about what I do unless I don’t do it right. It isn’t fun. Sometimes it’s boring. Often times it isn’t fair and I don’t understand it. It doesn’t make any sense and is totally pointless.

The problem with this is that if I am not the responsible one, no one else is going to be and I for one, cannot live in a house where things that need to be done by a responsible human being, are NOT being done.

Case in point. Saturday morning.

I won’t even start out here claiming that it is my one day to sleep in. I don’t get any days to sleep in because, well, I own cats. I also own a dog, but he doesn’t count because I am pretty sure he can’t tell time like the cats can…he, like me, is unable to sleep through their incessant caterwauling, but rather than trying to do anything to fix it, he just joins in for the ultimate reward of food.

I will claim that on a typical Saturday, I will sometimes go back to bed after I feed the cats, let the dog out, start the pellet stove and let the dog back in. This particular Saturday morning, while letting the dog out however, I nearly stepped in something gross that had missed the cat box. Then, as I was hefting pellets to fill the empty pellet stove (that is supposed to be filled by a kid each night so I don’t HAVE to heft 50lb bags of pellets at 5 a.m. on my old-person back) I noticed three more “missed attempts”. Let me tell you, (because that is the point of this blog…I get to tell you about how nasty and difficult my life is and you don’t have to read it) getting nasty “missed attempts” up off of a pebbled concrete floor is NOT GLAMOROUS WORK! You can’t even drink coffee while you do it. By the time I finished dumping pellets into the stove, yelling at the kitten to stop playing in the poo, slamming the sliding porch door several times, and dropping the lid on the garbage can a couple of times, I do believe I had made enough noise that my husband decided it was not worth the effort to stay in bed, so he hopped in the shower. But not before he lobbed the soiled shower mat out the back door as I was returning from the garbage can…because of another “missed attempt”.IMG_0765

(please note here, my cat is old and is now on medication.)

As I picked up the shower mat on my way back from disposing of the ream of soiled paper toweling, I realized that I had reached that point where it was no longer a question of whether I was going to make this an educational moment for my family, but rather whether or not I was going to be able to keep from spilling blood while I did it.

Since I was so close to having my entire day ruined in the first waking hour, I decided to go whole-hog and imagine what would have happened had I used my children’s usual go-to responses when asked why they didn’t do the right thing. For instance, what if I had ignored the cats because “I was too tired”?

  1. Realistically here, I am probably the only one in the household who hears them. I don’t know why I wasn’t graced with deafness before 7am like the rest of my family. It isn’t fair.
  2. They would have destroyed the door at the end of the hall, then made a fair start on the one to our bedroom.
  3. The dog would have started barking, because EVERYONE knows that caterwauling cats = meal time.
  4. The cats probably would have starved to death. Because the last time they had eaten was at least SIX WHOLE HOURS AGO.

What if I didn’t fill/start the pellet stove “because it wasn’t my job”?

  1. It would have been 50 degrees when the first child woke and wandered through the house half naked and the first words loudly issued out of their mouth would be WHY IS IT SO COLD? WHY DIDN’T ANYONE START THE STOVE? And I would have had to kick them with my numb toes. Hard.
  2. Should one of them actually take it upon themselves to actually try to start the stove, once discovering that the pellet hopper was empty, they would have said something derogatory about the person who was supposed to have filled it…then gone back to bed.

What if I hadn’t cleaned up the cat crap because “it’s gross”?

  1. Even though I was in bed and (hey, this is fiction, I can dream) still asleep, I would have been informed, probably at a distance of 5 inches from my sleeping fact, that hey, there is cat poop on the floor and that it really smells bad.
  2. Brainchild would have returned to their room and shut the door to keep the smell out, fully expecting me to do something about it because it was too gross for them to even look at again. They might puke. And then I would be expected to clean that up too.

In fact, let’s keep going with this rant (as I did in reality, not that they were listening to me anymore by this point). As it so happens, I really don’t like to cook. What if I “didn’t feel like” cooking every night? I’m getting pretty tired of the scenery between my house and the pool, the bus stop, the library, etc. What if I decided it was just “too boring” to do anymore? Luckily, I like my job so my income isn’t at risk…but what happens if I act upon the fact that I think my kids aren’t nice to me so why should I be nice to them…Oops! Was that Christmas that just flew out the window?

Seriously, when my child’s response to a bad grade in Literature is that he didn’t enjoy the assignment…What, so, you decided not to do it and thought this was okay?!

Nononononono, you don’t enjoy it, you do it anyway, and move on. Because that is what you do. YOU DO IT. You don’t have to like it. You do it because you are expected to and in return, you are rewarded with a qualifier noting that you took the time, put in the effort, and now we move on!

Or what about, “the assignment was boring”, or “I hate math, it isn’t fair that I have to do it”. Where did my kids get the idea that if you don’t like it, you don’t do it and it’s okay? Where did they pick up the idea that the world revolves around them, what they want, how they feel, etc?

It sure as hell wasn’t from ME!

So, why don’t I just play their game and not drive them to youth group, because the road is not exciting and I’d rather be at home sipping a glass of wine. How about I not cook because I don’t like to? Not treat them nicely because they are mean thankless and rude to me? Not clean up after them because it’s gross? Not do things that need to be done because there are others who are perfectly capable of doing it, even though they won’t because they are thinking THE EXACT SAME THING?

Because I am an adult? Because I am a parent?

No, because I am a responsible human being. I am not a perfect human being, but I strive to be one who does the right thing. In a bible study comment I recently read, Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount was basically summarized as the following: Receiving good and giving evil = demonic behavior (ie, your basic bratty kid running on no nap and no manners). Receiving good and giving good in return = basic human behavior (not bad, but not worthy of much beyond a gold star sticker). Receiving bad and still giving good in return = Christ-like behavior.

2867eab5ad8da2a3ef2cdbc55c0fb742

Now, I am not saying I am Christ-like, I complain WAY too much for that, but I have goals and aspirations to be more like him. Besides, doing good for others can make one feel good; especially if you are appreciated for doing so, or can at least imagine that the person in the car behind you at the Starbucks drive-up window got a smile when they realized their bill was already paid. Doing good for others and knowing they have no idea and will continue to do annoying things that are killing you inside is CRAP.

But, if not you, then who? A vicious circle awaits unless someone introduces the good somewhere. One has to have faith that at some point the evil doer will wake up some day and figure out that that wet towel isn’t hopping up onto the towel rack on its own.Or, they move out…and it is no longer an issue.

So here is what I vow. I will continue to cook, clean, heft, pick up towels, chauffer, and feed demanding cats. I will continue to point out when they are being unrealistically self-centered and rude. In a word, I will continue to be a responsible human being, who happens to have chosen to be a parent and I will look forward to the day, hopefully, when they finally become one too.

Or move out.

Back from the dead…just in time to almost die right before the New Year!

Standard

So, I realize I haven’t been exactly consistent here.

Just keeping it real, folks.

However, I seem to have encountered the perfect storm of sorts that makes this time the perfect one to start sharing again.

1. It is almost the end of the year. Nothing like getting a head start on resolutions.
2. Read a really good blog here
3. I had a very “adventurous” day on Saturday.
4. I received an email that someone by the name of “Emily” started following my blog, out of the blue (Hi Emily!)

Quite frankly, that last one had me floored! Yay Emily! You have joined the reveared ranks of my parents and my lovely neighbor! Woot!

So where to start?

Saturday. We’ll be consecutive about the whole thing…

So this year, my husband and I ended up childless the day after Christmas. (Emily, for the record, we actually have four kids, but have to share two with my ex-husband’s family and two his ex-wife on a regular basis.  Last year we had Thanksgiving, this year we got Christmas…yada,yada,yeah)  After dropping them off at said other families we returned to the empty house and decided that, most decidedly, we did not want to be there.

A few phone calls and a hotel reservation later, we packed up the dog, locked up the cats with enough food to choke a pack of hyenas and figured we were good for at least 24 hours. Destination: Astoria!

**For Emily’s sake, I will take a moment here to explain that Astoria is pretty special. It is the oldest settlement west of the Mississippi for one thing.

The Astoria Bridge. That's the state of Washington hiding in all that fog.

The Astoria Bridge. That’s the state of Washington hiding in all that fog.

Lewis and Clark, Goonies 4-Ever, Free Willie and all that jazz. It also happens to be where the two of us were born and lived, on and off, throughout our formative years (most importantly, high school). We both have a lot of fond memories there, and we knew we would have friends in town at that point, visiting their own families.

Short story: We arrived in semi-nice weather. Had a great walk on the waterfront with the dog.

Not Horrible weather in Astoria.

Not Horrible weather in Astoria.

Cheese curds and beer at Bouy Beer.

Mmmmmmmmmm...cheese curdssssssss....

Mmmmmmmmmm…cheese curdssssssss….

The dog survived his first night in a hotel room despite the fact that we tried to cook ourselves at one point (Note to the Norblad Hotel and Hostel…might be nice if you replaced the lead weights that the absolutely gorgeous, and original, 6′ plate glass windows require to open without help of a power winch),

Since when does vacation include sleeping on the floor?

Since when does vacation include sleeping on the floor?

and met said friends for breakfast. Of course, here we find out that said friends were planning huge dinner meet up with even MORE friends that night. Shoot, we had just turned in our keys and fed the last of the dog food to the dog that morning…We decided we would live dangerously and not make any promises either way, but spend the day seeing what happened.

First item on the list of “have to”s for the day was getting the dog out of the car for an extended period of time. It was of course, (gasp!)raining off and on by now, so we were wanting to take him somewhere he could be off leash, while we could stay under cover. There are no indoor dog parks in the area so we settled for the next best thing:

Battery Russell!

Good LORD Almighty, the dog LOVED it!  Of course, the sun didn’t exactly break through but it did stop raining long enough for us to decide that following the walking path for a bit might not be such a poor idea.

Two miles later, we came to the road that ostensibly led back to the parking lot. After following the road for about 500 yards, we came to the turn off to the Peter Iredale beach entrance. Well, having grown up believing that all beach visits required extensive hypothermic therapy at the end of the day, we couldn’t pass a chance to walk down memory lane, and perhaps introduce the dog to the joy of seagulls he could actually chase beyond the reach of the leash.

Right before everything went horribly...adventurous.

Right before everything went horribly…adventurous.

So we followed the signs to the beach and if we thought the dog loved running around the Battery, well, we realized he had perhaps never actually experienced pure joy until he saw his first seagull, seemingly parked right above his head, hovering in the headwinds blowing off the beach. Just…out…of…………reach!  Well, it didn’t take us long to decide that a walk down the beach for a bit was just what our poor deprived pooch deserved after being cooped up in the car and the hotel room without so much as a kitten to cuddle and commiserate with. So walk the beach we did. And walk, and walk, and walk. I became obsessed with finding one, whole, sand dollar.

The One

The One

There were millions of fragments littering the beach, there HAD to be at least ONE whole one. Jeff was busy keeping the dog out of the surf (we had our limits as to just how much he could enjoy himself at this point) and at one point noticed that the beach up ahead was starting to disappear in what was more than likely a rain squall. Well shoot. According to Google Maps we were closer to the opposite end of the beach than we were to the entry where we started. So we picked up the pace, hoping to reach the next beach entry before we got too soaked

(break for hysterical laughter)

We got so soaked. Mostly the left sides of our bodies, granted, as we were walking north up the beach and the wind was coming in, as it often does at the beach, OFF THE WATER. By the time we got to the entrance/exit it had actually stopped raining. And then started again. **repeat x4**

Once in the parking lot we had the choice, once again, of following a trail, a horse trail this time, or the road back to the Battery where our car was parked. At this point I think I lost my mind because I let my husband and dog lead me down the horse trail with some feeble promise of meeting up with the road and cutting across, straight to the Battery.

I should mention that there was no one else around. The only other people we had seen on the beach, in fact, were in their 4×4 trucks…racing back to the Peter Iredale entry. There were, however, several signs warning us of the possibility of cougar in the area.

Yay.

What God Forsaken Nowhere looks like.

What God Forsaken Nowhere looks like.

I should also point out that we are now on the other side of the dunes. We could hear the ocean waves, but we were actually wading through knee-high tufts of wet beach grass and shoulder-height scotch broom, circumventing the odd pine tree and hopping over LOTS of some sort of wild animal poop. LOTS.

Also,for the sake of the story, I should mention that I am in the midst of recovering from a lower back/left hip injury. Three months of PT, several x-rays, and multiple chiropractic sessions under my belt at this point, I was pretty amazed that I was still moving, albeit I was not the most graceful. And I tended towards grunting. A lot.

The dog? He was STILL loving life! In fact, by now he had gone three times as far as any of us because his modus operandi is to race ahead to the first turn in the path, then turn around and race back to make sure we are still alive. Repeat ad infinitum.

Trudge, trudge, trudge…I was beginning to be startling aware of how hard I was having to work to keep from whining. It’s not a pretty realization. I was at least two turns in the path behind Jeff (3 behind the dog). I was noticing more and more “scat” on the trail. The sun wass now below the top of the dune, and we were supposed to be meeting friends at 5 for dinner.  Just as I started to accelerate so that I could come within shouting distance of Jeff to inquire, calmly, as to the time, I rounded the corner smack into both he and the dog. They aren’t looking for me, however. In fact, their attention was quite obviously held by the never-ending Great Dismal Swamp of the PNW. Holy CRAP! Where did the trail go?!?

He turns to me and says, “We’ll, unfortunately, this is where we were supposed to turn off to join the road.”

UNFORTUNATLEY???? Panic now starts to set in as it begins, once again, to rain and I suddenly became fully aware that yes, in fact, my boots are leaking, my down-filled coat is soaked through to my wool sweater that I was ever-so-smart to have left on at the last minute, and there was even a trickle of water headed south down my backside!

At least my husband, being the kind, loving, man that he is, had the decency to apologize to me at this point and ask me if I was going to make it.

Smack.

I swallow the whimper that was about to make spectacular swan dive off of the tip of my tongue, smile and assure him that I was wetter than the dog, but still walking and willing and able to continue, giving the alternative was to…not.

In order to circumvent the Great Dismal, we had to leave the horse trail and walk the crest of the dune for what seemed like forever, with no way to actually see the trail when and if it did ever show up again as the dune grass kept it so cleverly hidden (probably why so many things like to poop on it, it’s totally private!) At this point, the uneven terrain was beginning to take it’s toll on my stride, but in an effort to distract myself I was trying my damnedest to focus on all of the things that could be soooooo much worse about this situation. I could have been cold. I wasn’t. Wool and cotton layers are good for that. Even wet wool and cotton layers. As is constant movement. It could have been my feet that were in pain rather than my one hip.It could have been BOTH hips. It could have been dark (though that was ominously hovering in my peripheral vision). I could have had a headache, or had to pee, or, heaven forbid, POOP!!  My husband assured me that all of the poop we were seeing was most likely mule deer, elk, or some other sweet, beach dwelling herbivore.

Eventually, we made it all the way back to the Peter Iredale parking lot. Yay. We were no closer than we were exactly two hours ago, but at least we knew where we were. And once again, we were faced with the choice of following the road or a trail back to the Battery. A bike trail this time. It started raining. Again.

Trail? Do you see a trail? Do you see a road??

Trail? Do you see a trail? Do you see a road??

So of course, we took the damn, frigging trail!

I am now fully educated to the fact that trails are purposely designed to cover as much area in the most round about way possible. Whereas roads, are meant to get you from one place to another in the most direct way possible.

Cannot see the forest for the trees..or the damned path either...

Cannot see the forest for the trees..or the damned path either…

I swear, if there hadn’t been trees in the way, we could have seen the damn car from where we stood, beyond the 50 switchbacks of the stupid trail.

By this time it was starting to get dark. The dog wass no longer racing ahead. He was, rather, walking right between us, tail and head both hanging at an alarmingly low level. My stride consisted basically of me throwing my leg out in front of me and hoping it supported my body as I passed over it. Even Jeff was complaining of discomfort and inwardly cringing at my eventual reaction when he was going to have to break it to me that the last mileage marker actually said 1.1 miles to Battery Russell, and not the 0.11 miles that I cheerfully read out loud.

Notice the flagging tail and nose...

Notice the flagging tail and nose…

Oh. MY. GOD!!! By the grace of Himself we finally made it, NINE MILES AND FOUR AND A HALF HOURS LATER to the parking lot. Now I was freezing and I did have to pee, but the thought of having to squat over a port-a-potty made me want to break into a most spectacular case of hysterics. Actually sitting down would mean I might never leave. Luckily, this particular design of parking lot potty had a sturdy bar that I could hang on to for dear life, necessitating neither the assistance of another person or a change of address.

Eventually, both Jeff and I literally stripped down to our underwear right there in front of the three families who decided to show up at 4:30 to tour the park in their Sunday best. I couldn’t believe how much warmer I was standing in the rain naked than I had been with my three layers of dripping clothing. Unfortunately, the only change of clothes I had included neither dry pants nor a public-worthy shirt. I also had no other shoes. But, we were only 10 minutes away from a store and, at this point, only 30 minutes late for our dinner date with friends.

SCORE!

The next 45 minutes consisted of stopping at the local Fred Meyer to try on 10 pairs of “NO FRIGGING WAY!! I WOULD RATHER WEAR WET JEANS IN PUBLIC”pants. I settled for dry socks and pair of Toms knockoffs…and dog food. There was absolutely no way we were driving home that night.

*****

I have completely lost track of the point of my whole post today.

Sorry, Emily. It happens more often than not these days. Hope you’re still hanging in there.

I need a hot drink….I’m freezing.

“Dis”sing the comfort zone

Standard

Okay, so after admitting to being an utter failure at this scheduled writing thing, I have decided that I need less pressure.   Thus, this will NOT be a consistent thing, merely one of those “oh look! something got posted!” things.  Although I admit to disappointment when I check my favorite blogs on a daily basis only to find that nothing new has been added, I also find that it is kind of like an unexpected gift when something new does pop up. Not that I believe too many people are holding their breath for my next missive, but …well, we’ll stop there for pride’s sake.

Lots has been happening lately and none of it planned, not the least of which included some Spring Break day trips, a whirlwind trip to New Fallon — I mean New York (did I mention I saw Jimmy Fallon?!?), pet illness woes, and hosting friends at my abode while on my own for a weekend.  (Wow…it really has been a long time since I’ve written. Eeesh.) As I look back I am amazed that I lived through them all and truly see how blessed I am that God gave me such opportunities. Opportunities that I never in a million years would have sought out.

Oh. And I got a job.

Sort of.

It’s really more of a hobby. I still need to find the job that will help to feed my family, but this is one that I hope will help to feed my soul (read pedicures, tattoos, motorcycle riding certification, Goodwill sprees, Kindle books.) I will be, eventually, manning (part-part-time) the counter at the local piercing and body arts studio in town.  I am a SUPER excited, completely overwhelmed and a tad bit scared. It’s admittedly a little outside my norm, but just feels right. A little bit scary, a lot bit fun and in the end it will be awesome for my soul. I can feel it.  The best part is that this job was not driven by my personal wants and desires, which usually gets me nowhere but trouble and nothing but stress in the end, but rather it was handed to me when I was least expecting it. You know, how God usually works. How most awesome experiences come about.  I look back and I see that the majority of my learning experiences have come when I least expected them and with a healthy step outside my comfort zone.

For instance, New York was never on my list of things to do for fun. Okay, maybe back in high school when I didn’t know better,  but since I’ve grown up and learned that (a)I really don’t like crowds, (b)being lost stresses me out beyond being able to read a map and (c), although it is good for me and I usually don’t die in the end – I do NOT look forward to being set down in a place where I have no touch points and left to fend for myself. But this trip, which again, came out of nowhere as a gift, was all about all of those things and I ended up LOVING it. I saw and enjoyed things I never thought I would, learned (almost) how to “do” the subway on my own, talked with complete strangers, sought out the crowds in Time Square and marveled instead of feared for my life, and just had an overall fabulous time. I want to go back! God was hard at work that weekend. In fact, I believe He worked overtime because we seriously flew by the seat of our pants the entire weekend with no plans other than to see a handful of things that we, in turn and true to form, had no plans on how to get to.  He even went so far as to provided the perfect child/pet sitters for the ones who were left behind. Once again, a little bit scary, a lot bit fun and in the end it was awesome for my soul! Pure blessings.

I had planned to go to the Guggenheim but I missed it and...

I had planned to go to the Guggenheim but I missed it and…

...ended up at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.  For four hours.

…ended up at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. For four hours.

The past few months have been full of these. I could write on and on and on about all of the blessings God has sent in the guise of weird and unasked for opportunities. Seriously. I pray that I will learn to perhaps focus on these experiences and the blessings behind them rather than on the everyday crappity-crap that I sometimes find myself mired in. The drudgery of sending out resumes and the hopelessness of never finding “the perfect job”, of things basically not going the way I want them to on the time schedule I feel I need to keep. Instead, I am keeping my ear to the ground, I am applying for less than perfect but more interesting things, that perhaps I am not fully qualified for, just in the interest of expanding my horizons and feeding my inner self with fresh experiences while learning to tighten my proverbial belt, know that God has a different timeline that will in the end be the perfect one. It may not happen today, but sitting here grumping about not getting call backs on the jobs I am qualified for isn’t going to make it happen any faster either. Instead, I will distract myself with what I have been given and looking forward to the things I will receive, through the whims of the Power that is, and not just my own.  I will focus on the fact that I am not in charge, no matter how much I work towards my personally envisioned goals.  For, as I have witnessed repeatedly these past few months, I do NOT always know what is best for me, beyond trusting a God who does.

 

 

Giddiness

Standard

Photo on 2-28-14 at 9.40 AM

Seriously, this weather is making me giddy. On top of the fact that I remembered my earphones today and so I get to listen to this instead of the group of mommies next to me discussing the cost of designer jeans for their 7 year olds…ugh.

Funny side note on buying clothes. It is no secret that buy 99% of my family’s clothing at Goodwill. Mac is the least impressed by this. Not that he cares where his clothes come from, he just doesn’t like going to Goodwill. Anyway, he needed “cowboy” clothes for a play he is in so I drug him along to find some at the local GW. He was a good sport, tried on at least 3 pair of jeans and a handful of shirts before running from the store to hide in the car. Once home, he dutifully washed the clothes and then left them in a damp pile in his room. I expect nothing less at this point. Today the clothes had to go to school, though, so I spent WAAAAAAAAY too much of my lifeforce trying to iron that damn shirt early this morning. I made him go get a hanger to take it to school on and while he was arranging it HE finds a $5 bill in the breast pocket. Nicely laundered and pressed.

Figures.

But I’m thinking he will be less than upset about buying clothes at Goodwill from here on out…

Okay, wanted to do some more of my pictures today. Seriously, I am having so much fun with this!
IMG_7002 Day 13: Makes you Laugh. Okay, so this is pretty obvious. I got on the bus that morning and this was staring me in the face. Funny for the obvious reasons for those who know that I CAN’T COOK. Okay, I can, but I don’t enjoy it. And the main reason that I do not enjoy it is due to the singular fact that I do not enjoy being mediocre, and that is what I am on a good day. Cooking for me usually results in better stories than it does digestible eats. My family, even my kids, are spectacularly patient and forgiving. They also have other parents who are much better cooks or at least keep yummier things on hand, so there is always a better meal waiting around the corner… The other reason this picture struck me is that it was THE ONLY AD that wasn’t medical/Obamacare related. Honestly, usually there are some great ads on the SouthBeach C Bus…

IMG_7009

IMG_7005 Day 14: Heart (duh) Okay, I got a LOT of flack for these (thank you Lisa Curtis). Can YOU see the hearts? It was extremely hard to be creative on Valentine’s Day…I was pretty darn impressed with myself. Lisa, Jeff couldn’t see them either….hmmmm.

IMG_7017 Day 17: Words. This one was one of those days when I couldn’t come up with anything. Near the end of the show day I started to panic so finally just started writing out to-do lists and took a picture of that. Unfortunately I posted it before I asked for some heavenly help in finding something a little more inspired. That night was our annual mojito night and though I can NEVER remember the name of this stupid restaurant having only eaten there once (mojito count is over 6 and counting, though) we end up here every year for at least one drink. The best mojitos. Hands down. We usually sit outside but this time there happened to be a micro-table in the micro-bar so we took it

and low and behold….

IMG_7022

words!! I love it when God happens.

IMG_7033

Day 16: A Memory: This was kind of fun. Though I got all kinds of interesting comments from people watching me try and take a picture of my own wrist…the coordinates mark the spot of a very special memory for Jeff and I. The bracelet was my Christmas present this year. I look forward to a wrist-full of these beauties.

IMG_7116 Day 19: Workspace. This one gives me such mixed feelings. It isn’t so much that it is a visually stunning piece of work, but it says a lot of what I am right now. I bitch and moan about all the time I spend in the car with my kids but in reality, I suppose I am lucky to still have the opportunity to be able to keep them captive in my presence for this long. The days that I outlaw iTouches in the car usually end up being some of the most interesting. I get to eavesdrop on their days, to monitor their current interests, and we have had some pretty interesting conversations regarding music preferences or current events.

IMG_7119 Day 20: Itsy Bitsy. Originally I had planned on driving downtown and taking a picture of the Itty Bitty Salon down on main street (yes, that is it’s name and what it is – TINY!) But one thing led to another throughout the day and for once I never got in the car beyond picking up from school. I was in bed that night when I realized that I hadn’t taken a photo yet. I did send up a quick prayer as I threw back the covers and started prowling the house looking for something teensy. We are not a teensy family. We like big. In fact, the smallest thing we own is our stinkin’ house! But then I walked past my curio cabinet and remembered these beauties. I picked these up one of the first years that we lived here. There is a beach near our house that is sand dollar nursery. Seriously. There is a section of the beach that is nothing but sand dollars. They are living, so black and less than appealing but stacked like cards up the beach, it’s rather fascinating, but you can find the dead ones all over if you can just get your eyes trained to see them. The first time we went I found a few sand dollars and decided to give the kids something to do other than whine and proposed to pay them 10 cents for every whole sand dollar they could find….$10 later I had to put a kibosh on that whole brilliant idea. But by that time I was seeing these teensy little things mixed in with with all of the shells, stones and other beach detritus. Jeff had to call an intervention. I had a large glass full of them at one point but I find they are fun to give away, if a bit delicate, but I am down to only these few now and I find I like it that way. They are easier to see amongst all the other stuff in my cabinet when there are fewer of them. Huh, funny how that works, hmm?

A little extra “kick”

Standard

photo photoSitting here drinking my Mayan Mocha with extra cayenne…and loving this sunny day.

LOVING. IT.

I’ve been waiting all week to be able to sit down and write like this and now I am distracted by the view out the window. All I want to do is take pictures and post in order to share the joy. The ferry is going by as I type, there are seagulls wheeling around and I swear I just saw a seal poke his nose through the surface. Beautiful.

Speaking of photos and sharing, I have been participating in a photo-a-day challenge this month at the behest of a friend. Nothing like being specifically asked to share one’s skills to light the fire of creativity, a little kick in the pants to get me moving. But it has been more than an opportunity to over share. It has been amazingly eye opening as well. Knowing I have to eventually take a picture of a clock has me seeing clocks everywhere! Clocks I see every day now take on new significance. Clocks I never noticed suddenly appear out of nowhere. Then the issue becomes “which clock”? And then the fun begins. And can I just say right here that Instagram is my favorite toy? I love all the filters I can run photos through. The most mundane subject suddenly becomes artsy and cutting edge with the mere addition of a ripped border and a sepia tone or a faded aspect. I find it interesting that photography has appeared to come full circle wherein all of the things that used to be verboten in photography, blurring, “flare”, faded colors, those things which have inspired all sorts of technological breakthroughs in camera lenses and technique, are now considered desired “effects”.

(side note: There goes the ferry again, and now there are three seals out there playing with…something. Ew.)

Anywho, even though there is a link to all of my Instagram photos there to the left of your screen, I thought I would share a few of my favorites from this month and maybe give some background.

Words

Day 5: Words. This was one of my first ones. My first inclination was to use a book I was reading that seemed to have all sorts of inspired pieces of wisdom spouted just for me, but I had just recently posted that very picture and felt that was too easy. This was meant to be a challenge and I was going to go for it. So I did what I should do more often, and have often found myself doing a LOT since this picture…I prayed about it!  And once I got into my personal phone booth to God (aka: the shower) it popped into my head. What words are the ones I cherish the most? Those that are written to me alone. That are truthful. That include a piece of the one who wrote them. And voila, I took this picture while trying not to drip too much on the floor or my camera.
Looking up
This one is Day 6: Looking up. It was inspired by the view from my yoga mat every morning. I will admit that I staged this one, and getting him to cooperate was not easy. Something about me ordering him to get up on the couch while I lay on the floor made him a little uneasy…but I love how it turned out. Someone suggested I frame it. I just might.
Friendship
Day 7: Friendship. I love my husband, he is so supportive of stuff I am excited about. I think part of it is because he worries that I don’t often feel the desire to do ANYTHING. Anyway, this was another of those shower epiphanies. He was already in bed reading and I ran out of the shower, grabbed my phone and his hand with nary a preamble, and started taking pictures. He didn’t flinch or even lift an eyebrow, merely watched as I contorted myself trying to take a picture using only one hand. He did suggest that I crop out certain parts of my body that weren’t necessary to the theme…is that friendship or what?
Something redDay 11: Something red. This was one of those days where EVERYTHING was red, but nothing was right.  We were in Ft. Lauderdale and I was really hoping to find something suitable in the Swimming Hall of Fame so that I could kill two birds with one stone, so I passed by 90% of what I saw, all of which seemed to be red. As it was, I got to the museum and completely forgot about my assignment. I took plenty of pictures, but alas, none of them were red. Later that day Jeff and walked to the beach and there was a bright orangey-red tanker floating on the horizon and I took it as a sign and started snapping away. It was truly beautiful the way it sat right on the horizon, a blip on the line separating sky blue from ocean blue. Alas, I still haven’t figured out how to deal with distant images with my iPhone. I know enough that zooming in always results in a grainy photo, but short of swimming 5 miles out to sea I couldn’t get close enough to even crop it so that it made a more interesting composition. I had hoped to be able to do something with the three dozen pictures I took when I got back to my room, but as we were packing up our towels and heading back to the hotel we passed by the guard shack and there was this blast from the past, just begging to be snapped. The guard was super hospitable, even inviting me up onto the stand to take a closer picture, but I think I got exactly what I was looking for in one shot. I love the angle and the rust on the hand rails. The blue sky is a lovely reminder of that day.

A shadow

Day 12: A shadow. I actually took two different photos for this particular assignment. One I had taken earlier in the week, knowing this subject was coming up. It was a photo of the shadows Jeff and I projected by the street lights on the sidewalk as we walked to dinner one night. I loved it. But it felt kind of contrived, a little expected, a tad bit “too cute”. Not things I would use to describe us. So I took this one on the actual day it was assigned. The first day of the boat show. I was feeling good and it was VIP day so I wore The Shoes. VIP day is full of money and purpose walking around, not a lot of tire kickers. People who come on Day One know what they want and are there to fulfill a specific list of needs. My presence there was not in great demand so I had a little more fun with things seeing as that I knew I wouldn’t be working very hard. Thus, the high heels. I love these shoes. I was pleasantly surprised that I suffered very little for them the next day. Naproxin Sodium is a good thing. This is also one of those photos where Instagram made the picture. I wish I could figure out which filter I used…

And with that, I have officially run out of time for the day. That was fast.

Serious as a giggle (randomness)

Standard

“You can NOT be serious.”

“As a heart attack.”

“Oh, that’s original. Honestly? How serious is a heart attack these days, anyway? Every where you look they have those chest zapper thingies hanging on the wall — the bus, the plane, the grocery store, the break room at work. Does a heart attack even amount to certain death anymore? Apparently they happen all of the time. If people took them seriously, don’t you think there would be less of them occurring? They are the leading cause of death, they say,  but if heart attacks were a serious problem wouldn’t people be doing more to prevent them rather than spending so much on treating them? Oh, did you mean serious as death? Is death serious? I mean, I can see how it can be a serious subject for survivors, but is the act of death a serious thing? Have you ever experienced it? Why do we take death so seriously? What if death is a relief? Certainly for some people we know it is; terminally ill people come to mind, but what if it is actually a relief for everyone when it comes us? We may think that we have so much going for us here that death is nothing but an inconvenient end, a mess, a major bummer. But what if it is a release from everything that weighs us down? Even the good stuff? Can good stuff be a burden that we need to be relieved of? I mean, I love my collection of Starbucks coffee mugs, it gives me joy to add to it, to look at it, to re arrange it. But if one day it was gone–Poof! No fault, no trace, no strings attached, no one to blame. . . wow, all that free space! All that free time! All that potential! A do over! What if that’s what death is like? A release from everything that weighs on us, even loved ones. Is the feeling of relief serious? I always imagined relief as a huge sigh with a giggle at the end. Hardly a serious visual. What if death is a comic relief? What if it is LIFE that is serious and death is the unexpected shock that shows us how silly it all really is?

<blank stare>

“So? How do you feel about it now?”

“My head hurts.”

“Could be a tumor. You should have that checked out. Seriously.”

Building Muscles in my what??

Aside

Trying a few new things lately. Namely, working out at home. I have a bucketful of VHS and DVD workouts that I have collected over the years, the resistance bands, hand weights, and half-deflated exercise balls that go with them. But I don’t use them. I have a few that never even made it out of the packaging. I find it too much of a hassle to clear the living room so that I don’t whack my  knuckles on the armoire; vacuum the floor so that I don’t inhale floating fur bunnies; properly exhaust the dog before hand so that he doesn’t stand over me during my crunches with the ball in his mouth drooling about it being HIS turn; time the laundry so it doesn’t demand to be changed in the middle of my down dog; take the phone off of the hook, and lately, set up fans so that I don’t melt from having to do strenuous exercise right smack in front of the pellet stove.  Honestly, by the time I have done all of that, I can pretty well convince myself that I have worked out enough and go take a nap.

Jillian Michaels he is not.

Jillian Michaels he is not.

After being downgraded from semi-employed to unemployed last fall, I have had to take a serious look at my spending habits. It didn’t used to bother me that I spent so much on my YMCA membership, even though I only walked through the door three times a week…maybe. Okay, it bothered me a bit. In reality it was more about the mere potential it represented.  After all, attending my class pretty much ensured that I was on time to pick up my son from his school which is practically next door, and I could use it any time I had free time, there is a pool (I love to swim, though you wouldn’t know if it I told you how long ago it was that I was actually in chlorinated water), Jeff could join me if he felt like it on Fridays, it is close to Costco and Target so I could knock out a couple proverbial birds with one trip…and on and on and on. Meanwhile, I am trying to spend more time at home, less money on groceries, less time in hypnotized and brainless in Target, the kids would rather ride the bus, and Jeff has other things he needs to do on Fridays besides have the crap beat out of him in Pilates.  And don’t even get me started on the unfortunate proximity of the Costco hotdogs to the gym…

My dream kitchen

My dream kitchen

About the time that I was beginning to contemplate my unemployment and my future with the Y, a friend from high school began the daunting task of trying to find her bliss by attempting to dedicate a part of her life to herself. I felt like a one-person cheerleading squad in front of my computer screen, applauding her while standing on my chair jumping up and down with my hands in the air!  If I could whistle with my fingers in my mouth I would have! It has been an inspiration over the past few months reading about her struggles with guilt versus the joy she reaps from doing something she loves and how, in the end, it honestly benefits her whole family. I watched as she admitted to a tiny piece of her that brought her joy and witnessed as she dusted it off, nurtured it a bit and then set a goal and stepped out on the track with it and didn’t look back.  She accomplished that goal just last week and in my heart I am doing a Snoopy dance –my  head thrown back, my hands flung out in joy and my little toes tippy-tapping in ecstatic joy for her!

Now I want that for me.

What does that have to do with beginning of this little diatribe?  Well, a couple things, actually. I have come to realize that this hiatus from paid employment is a chance to do something that comes from within me.  I feel released from the responsibility of getting a job just for the money, for a short time at least, mainly due to the fact that my family’s schedule is not one that I can work regular hours 9-5 or even 10-3 as so many “part-time” jobs seem to be these days. As a family we decided that weekends are sacred and quite frankly, the thought of working at night kinda scares me as I am generally one step from comatose by 8 p.m. So that leaves me with limited mainstream employment options. I am going to have to find something that is a little more specialized and depends more on me — on my abilities, my time frame, and, with any luck, rooted in what gives me joy! I mean, if it is going to be dependent on me, it might as well come from what makes me happy.

You know what makes me happy?

Me neither.  I mean, other than vacuuming.

So I am starting with a couple of things. I am trying to be more creative (writing some, reading more, even considering dusting off the sewing machine) and trying to be more creative with what I have already, with what I already know how to do, and to be consistent.

Hear that my little stockpile of craft supplies? No more just-in-case additions to your gang.

Hear that my little stockpile of craft supplies? No more just-in-case additions to your gang.

Right off the bat it became clear to me that I lack a surfeit of mental drive.  Oh I can crab at myself all day. Poke and prod, tell myself what I should be doing, make myself feel horrible. But I can also, amazingly, convince myself that vacuuming is the ultimate cure-all.  Being by myself all day is hard. I’m not all that pleasant to listen to in my head, I’m pretty bossy. I also have a tendency toward being lazy and scatterbrained with a propensity to lose focus at the drop of a hat. I can make a trip to the closet with the intent to replace the toilet paper roll result in a 5 hour trip to Ikea and a new rug, without having touched a roll of toilet paper.  I sound like a classic case of ADD. In reality, my will power is just weak. My mental drive is emaciated. My focus is grossly atrophied from lack of use. I need to develop the muscles in my dedication. I desire an intense, unswayable inner drill instructor, not a snarky whiner who will happily join me for chocolates and a book on the couch at the mere mention of “ugh”. Think more Jethro Gibbs, less Blanche Devereaux.

I bet Richard Simmons never snored through a workout...

I bet Richard Simmons never snored through a workout…

So in an attempt to build up some bulk in the goal attainment portion of my self, I am starting with home workouts. Nothing like going with a theme when you are in the planning stages!  I still have my membership at the Y for the next month (after all, there is a bathing suit in my near future and those Pilates classes are awesome).  I have a vague idea of where I might go with this newfound muscle, but as it is still pretty wimpy I don’t want to overwhelm it by hanging a solid goal around it’s spindly little neck right away. I hope to be able to use it soon, however, to find my little nugget of joy that I can nurture and turn into my bliss. And if it helps pay for groceries…hey! Winner-winner, Chicken dinner!

(crap, now what’s for dinner tonight…oooh, a dust bunny! Where’s the vacuum…)