ThxFriday, Courage Edition.

Fresh eggs and warm kitties; lengthy Saturday AND Sunday naps; the luxury of reading an entire book in a day; early submissions and on-time departures; celebrating one of my favorite little dudes; fast-moving weeks; new opportunities; PDX plans all coming together; the promise of the ocean; realizing, once again, I am usually the one getting in my own way (and doing my best to get out of it); minor explosions clearing the air; solution orientation; active gratitude; finding that perfect fit – when you know, you know; recognizing patterns and cycles in others, reinforcing the lessons for you; moving on when it’s time to (let) go; and having a good excuse to put on some silly makeup and wear a costume to work. We have a little dude staying with us who is VERY EXCITED about Halloween. He’s dressing up as Captain America, and there was no way I was going to let him be the only one dressed up today when we trick-or-treat this afternoon. None of my other co-workers dressed up, so it looks like it’s just him and me. RAWR! ❤

CowardlyLion

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“Scraping Little Shavings off My Ration of Light”

I’m working on practicing gratitude as soon as I wake up, in an effort to set the tone for the day. Some days, that’s easier than others. But this morning, I woke up way before my alarm went off (after getting a good night’s sleep), and couldn’t think of anything better than lying in my warm, cozy, comfortable bed listening to the sound of the rain.

It occurred to me the other day that if you’re always waiting for something to happen before you’re able to relax, be happy, etc. – like, “Once I get that job, I’ll feel better!” or, “Once these things happen I’ll be able to relax and enjoy life!” – then not only are you putting joy and gratitude on hold, but you’re also preventing yourself from finding whatever good is in the present moment. I mean, sometimes that goodness is hard to find, I get it; sometimes it might not even be there.

But most of the time, it’s there, and it’s passing you by if you’re too busy looking elsewhere. Find the good, y’all – and share it, when you do. We could all use a little light. ❤

————————————————————–

The title of this is part of a line of a Bruce Cockburn song called, “Isn’t That What Friends Are For?” and the rest goes like this: 

I’ve been scraping little shavings off my ration of light
And I’ve formed it into a ball, and each time I pack a bit more onto it
I make a bowl of my hands and I scoop it from its secret cache
Under a loose board in the floor
And I blow across it and I send it to you
Against those moments when
The darkness blows under your door

Quality Quotes and Errant Thoughts.

Every once in a while, there’s a quote or a saying or just some words that come out of someone’s mouth at just the right time in just the right way, and it all seems to lend itself to navigating what Pema Chödrön refers to as the fundamental ambiguity of being human.

  • “Sometimes just sitting back and letting people escalate in whatever direction they’re going to is a powerful way to let them show you who they are.” (A comment on this post from Captain Awkward) 
  • “But all the love in the world won’t make up for a lack of respect.” Another comment on a Captain Awkward post – those comment sections can be such a font of wisdom, I swear; never mind that CA always has such good and insightful things to say.)
  • “He who throws dirt loses ground.” – Texan proverb, by way of Noelle
  • “A person is a person because of people.” – Zulu proverb, by way of this amazing story. I can’t recommend watching the video enough.

And then there are those meandering thoughts that always seem to come out of nowhere, and are nothing at all like the meaningful quotes. So, here we are.

  • I’ve been cat-sitting for the last week. Yesterday morning, I woke up to three puddles of watery spit-up and a solitary turd in the kitchen, with an impressive skid mark leading up to it. I decided to write a country song called, “Three Piles o’ Puke and a Turd in the Hall.” Sure to be a winner.
  • Presumably, the puke and turd were cat protests, demanding the return of their humans. Has anyone invented a game called “Angry Turds” yet?
  • (I gotta say, though, having a cat to pet on has significantly reduced the anxiety otherwise inserting itself into everything, everywhere, so I’m grateful for that.)
  • Why do finger and toenails start growing differently as you age?
  • When a bug is on your car and you drive a few miles with it still on there, where does it go? Can it find its way home, or does it just start over because of the inadvertent relocation service you’ve provided? Are they able to just pick up where they left off, or have they been displaced forever and do they lose their family and friends and community? Maybe they’re hitching a ride to get the hell out of dodge?
  • Does honoring your limitations actually exacerbate them? Where do you draw the line between stretching your comfort zone and harming yourself for the sake of societal expectations? By giving in to your anxiety or your shame or your fears, are you giving them (and the triggers) more power? I wonder about this sometimes, because I know that the longer I sit with something negative – shame, anxiety, insecurity, etc. – the bigger it gets. And I know that Brene Brown talks about the only antidote for shame being compassion and connection, but sharing is like the LAST thing you feel like doing in a spiral. So how do you know when what you really need goes against what you’re feeling driven to do at the time?

ThxFriday, I’ve Found a Reason Edition.

A weekend spent taking the very best care; doing well enough to take that break; Sunday yoga and coffee talk; drive-by visits with excellent hugs; breaking the silence just enough; affirmations and new directions; kindred spirits and fellow travelers; filling the senses to combat the butterflies; doing all that hard, hard work to get to a better place; making room again; kittens, chickens, and the howling of coyotes; catching up on Last Week Tonight with a lot of laughing out loud; the kind of quiet that takes some getting used to; fresh, warm eggs collected in early morning hours; the merging of preschools with nursing homes; “A person is a person because of people.” – Zulu proverb; the power and pull of real community; recognizing what will (or won’t) change and charting appropriate courses; and, finally, a night I’ve looked forward to for months: Jason Isbell​ and Amanda Shires​ at the Ryman Auditorium​.

I’m putting on a fancy dress and taking this tender heart of mine to a show. I imagine I’ll carry that light and those reminders for days and weeks and months to come. ❤

Sunday Randoms

It’s been a wonderful weekend so far.

Yesterday was all about self-care stuff… gym, car wash, massage, stocking up on healthy food, pedicure, stocking up on delicious wines, ordering out for dinner, and wrapping it all up with a little bit of coloring. (Yes, coloring.)

This morning, I met up with a friend for yoga and then coffee/breakfast afterward (which was fantastic). The yoga class was right up my alley, too; a perfect mix of instruction, work/challenge, and laughter. I think that may be how I spend my Sunday mornings from now on. The instructor also encouraged us to join her for figure/ice skating, which has totally piqued my interest, so I’m going to look into that. Despite having so little free time these days, I am rediscovering just how crucial it is to maintain a balance.

Anyway. After coffee and food, I got to see another friend I haven’t seen in what feels like a really long time, for a multitude of reasons. I gotta say, the healing power of hugs, coupled with some much-needed affirmation, did my spirit a world of much-needed good. I’ve  been cooking all afternoon, and have a huge assortment of healthy food to eat for the week. Between that and going to the gym every day, I can tell I’m getting stronger; that feels pretty great.

And, finally… Marshawn Lynch is back in the game, baby. So, you know. ❤

I realized I am simply continuing to take steps, whether small or large, in a really solid direction. It reminds me of that Thoreau quote, “Go confidently in the direction of your dreams! Live the life you’ve imagined.” Yep! Totally doing that.

Today also starts the countdown to Jason Isbell & Amanda Shires at the Ryman on Friday. I sold my Sunday night show tickets to someone who is near, dear, and SUPER excited to be going; I’d hoped to have a “special someone” with whom to attend that show, but life has a funny way of working out. It’s okay, though. I find that I am much happier to be attending all by myself on Friday. It’s a lot less awkward to sniffle your way through an entire concert when you’re on your own.

(Or maybe it’s not, but whatever. I CAN’T WAIT.)

Saturday Curiosities.

Lengthy and informal (and primarily rhetorical/internal) Saturday Poll:

What is your primary means of interacting with your friends? Text? Email? Phone calls? Intentional plans? Figuring you’ll run into them at a certain location and hoping for the best?

For those of you in relationships or married, do you get most of your personal interaction needs met through your partner/family? Or do you spend a fair amount of time with others outside of your relationship/marriage?

Do you see/talk to your friends in person as often as you’d like? If so, are you more of the active planner type who reaches out to effect contact and make the plans? Or do you count on/wait for others to reach out to you?

Does the internet make you feel as though you get enough interaction from people? Is it a primary means of interaction, or more of a tool to facilitate in-person interactions?

ThxFriday, “That’s How the Light Gets In” Edition.

Wrapping up the Weekend of A.P.; keeping the kids alive; the raising of awareness (my own, and those around me); sleeping in my own magical bed; coming off that challenge straight into clubhouse food (and wine); beautiful autumn days spent outdoors, raising money for an excellent cause; all the things running smoother than ever; accidental innovation; commiseration co-conspirators; the sustenance of memories; doing well enough to take a break; a return to the gym, having missed it for a week; recognizing terrible dreams as a means of sorting through and letting go; when the morning sun shines through the trees after an evening of rain, making misty sunbeams; clear skies and cooler days & nights ahead; brief (but welcome) homework respites; and looking forward to self-care Saturday, sort-out Sunday, and a week filled with kitties, chickens, and a wide-open sky full of stars. ❤

Making Scents of Memories.

Every morning on my way to work, I drive past a construction site, filling up with new homes on a charming, tree-lined street in the charming, tree-lined neighborhood in which I work. Construction itself isn’t so unusual, especially here in Nashville where, everywhere you turn, something old (and often lovely or historical) is being torn down to build something new – like terrible condos. *sigh*

But this isn’t a condemnation of Nashville’s ongoing destination/it-city status, nor on the seemingly thoughtless expansion efforts that are effectively pushing those of lower incomes out of town, thanks to the influx of outsiders coming from either coast with a whole lot more money to spend. I save that rant for in-person discussions (and am usually preaching to the choir anyway… have I mentioned that Chattanooga’s looking better every day?).

The point: that construction site reminds me of someone I used to know who was important to me. Still is, even though we haven’t spoken in almost 15 years. The memory of him is kept alive and well, thanks to the smell of sawdust and the sight of construction: Carhartts and sawdust at the end of every day, back then. I guess it’ll always be like that, and it’s a happy association, so I’m okay with it.

I’ve been thinking about what other sights, sounds, scents, and tastes remind me of times past, or people, or things or events, and what a neat, powerful thing that can be:

  • The smell of Froot Loops reminds me of my grandmother’s house; that old yellow kitchen with the sun streaming through the window. The sound of clocks chiming, all the china blue throughout the house, that gorgeous velvet sofa with the hand-carved wood. The old 50’s car that used real gasoline (ah, that smell) and had red leather seats. A glass bowl of Hershey’s Kisses, another filled with change for me to roll. She always had vanilla ice cream with a chocolate swirl and brownies waiting for us; always had Froot Loops for breakfast.
  • Jergen’s lotion reminds me of my mom.
  • Obsession for Men will always remind me of a dude I went to high school with back in Roswell. I was friends with his sister; he had flipped and styled hair, wore tight jeans and puffy shirts. Total swoon material back then.
  • The smell (and sight) of See’s candy lentils reminds me of my dad. It was such a brief experience, but must have been an important time for me, the one or two times we bought that candy together when I was growing up.
  • Wild onions remind me of growing up in Roswell, too. That empty field next to Scott L’s house; that creek that was so good for finding worms; red clay and white chalk; a time when it was fine for me to make my way home alone.
  • The smell of cut grass and the sight of warm sun as it dapples through the trees reminds me of happiness.
  • Falling leaves, too.
  • And the smell of a burning fire… It reminds me of something I can’t quite put my finger on, like a memory just out of reach, or something deeper, ingrained… eternal and otherworldly, almost. Or like something built into my bones. Never been able to figure that one out.

And then there’s the taste of things… although, only one in particular ever comes to mind: the taste of starlight mints. They remind me of riding in my step-dad’s diesel Mercedes; specifically when I’d be forced to go to church on Sundays, stuck in the car with the smell of diesel, cigarette smoke, and too much Stetson cologne.

(I won’t eat starlight mints, ever again.)

I do think I’ll write a post sometime soon listing all the songs that carry a memory with ’em, though. Even the bittersweet ones are worth remembering.

One-Liner Wednesday.

Someone came to my place of employment today and tried to order lunch.

To go.

(I work at a non-profit.)

It pays to assess situations from a distance, take stock, make sure you’re responding appropriately to the reality of things instead of the idea of things.

Nothing lifts a weight like ceasing to pay attention or care about things (or people) that no longer concern you.

When something doesn’t feel good, pay attention to that.

I need a vacation.

Minor chords are assholes.

Tender hearts are worth it.

Sunday Randoms.

It’s the last day of the SNAP/food stamp challenge for school, and while I am grateful for that for a lot of reasons, I am also reminded that for most people living below the poverty line, or anyone receiving assistance, there is no actual end in sight. I mean, not really. It’s just a different reality, one to which people grow accustomed, or it may also be that they don’t know any different, so there’s no “adjustment” necessary. All I know is, it makes me feel like a privileged a-hole to be so relieved over the temporary nature of this experience. I guess there’s nothing wrong with that, and it should instead be more of an impetus to do whatever I can to help those who find themselves hungry on a regular basis, struggling to afford even the worst kinds of cheap food just to survive.

I was certain I’d have a huge list of foods I was craving, making for a lengthy Saturday Sampler post this week, but instead I found myself having little or no interest in food at all. Mixed blessing, I suppose. That said, for three days straight I thought about these. A lot: Pão de Queijo (Brazilian Cheese Bread).

Many years ago when I was visiting family in Puerto Rico, I remember eating something like this, and fell in love. I mean, how do you not love cheese and bread? A recent visit to a Brazilian steakhouse reignited the love, and here we are. Don’t know if I’ll make them or not, but I’ll sure as heck think about them. Often.

I keep pondering the question, “Who do you want to be?” Not “who do you think you should be” or “who do you think other people want you to be”, but who/what kind of person do I want to be. When I imagine myself interacting with others and the world around me, what is my ideal? Am I kind? Honest? Forthcoming? Brave? Loving? What I’m realizing is that when I am not being the person I want to be, if I’m not being a “good” person, it causes me to worry that other people are thinking the same thing. But when I live in keeping with what’s important to me, what other people think doesn’t seem to matter as much.

For instance… imagine you’re having a conversation with someone, and you’re venting or speaking ill or even just talking about someone else who isn’t in the room. It’s a mutual conversation, both people partaking. I find myself in that situation once in a while (although, not so much lately, thankfully), and even if it’s good-natured or not intended as a slight, I still walk away feeling as though I’ve somehow betrayed the person not in the room, and I find myself worrying that it’s going to get back to them that I said something. That I’ll be portrayed as the bad guy, even if I wasn’t the one to initiate the conversation, and even if it was just an expression of frustration, not character assassination.

So what that tells me is, I would do well to just never engage in conversations like that. Right? Integrity is a hell of a thing. I want to feel good about facing the people in my life and if what I’m saying or doing isn’t something I’d feel okay saying or doing to someone’s face, then I either need to change my behavior, or rethink that person’s presence in my life. It’s unfair and unkind to give someone the false impression of being a trusted, loving friend or lover or family member or whatever if that’s not how you’re actually feeling or behaving.

I’ve also been thinking on anxiety and depression, and how those express themselves in my life. Depression usually looks like not being able to get out of bed or leave the house, the phone weighing 500lbs, and preferring to just hide instead of engaging with the outside world. Anxiety shows up to try and counteract the depression sometimes (SO helpful), and that means constant butterflies and amygdala activation which renders me unable to focus because I’m in fight-flight-freeze mode and can’t break through it (and all the ruminating thoughts that go along with it).

There are things – and people – who trigger it, and I’m still learning how to manage it all, still making judgement calls over what I can reasonably take on vs. what I can’t. I wind up spending a fair amount of time at home doing my own thing as a result, and anything out of the ordinary (like house and kid-sitting this week) can, and usually does, throw me for a loop. Adding graduate school onto the pile and the constant worry about not having enough time, not doing well, etc., keeps me a little bit stuck.

But I don’t want to get stuck and trapped in that. I know that diet and exercise help a lot, as does talking to kind and trusted friends, family, and others. So, there will be more of that, especially as we head into winter and hibernation time.

Also, eleven days back into being on Facebook has me working on figuring out how to get away from it again. I appreciate being able to easily stay connected to friends in other cities and states, and appreciate how it’s used for invitations to local events and festivities. But there’s something that feels not-genuine about it, and I guess part of that is, it’s not reality. Reality is the people you spend time with, or the people you have active relationships with in some way. I suppose FB helps provide a forum for those interactions, and it’s just another tool, but… I don’t know. It doesn’t feel good. And I would do well to pay attention to that. In all areas of life, really.

Final thought: my brother’s kids are amazing young humans. After spending this past week with them, I am reminded yet again how fortunate I am to have the family I do.