Tag Archives: life

the action figure to-do list (each style sold separately)

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so, how does an action figure plan her impossible day? how does she prioritize all of that action, and order it just so, to make it from the bedcave to the blogbridge, through toddler forest and laundry swamp, around the steaming catlitter pit, over employment bluff and on to the peaks of packed and ready? i’ve never seen an action figure make a to-do list. neither the superheroes nor the superhilarious pop-art figures i’ve posed in embarassing yoga positions have ever whipped out a pile of post its, a ring bound notebook, or (blech) an Outlook Task List of Doom. they don’t do it in my real life fantasies or onscreen. perhaps i’m not looking for the right thing…perhaps they have an unacknowledged line to the “cloud,” whatever that really is, and it feeds them all of their regular and spontaneous engagements through effortless, thought-based communication. perhaps they’ve had it for quite some time without mentioning it…maybe they take it for granted…maybe it’s a sister benefit for action figure credit union members.

i still need a to-do list and on this particular day, i need a list of the lists i need. yeah. it will all happen somehow, i know. writing here this morning is an effort to inspire myself and lower the risk of a hair fire. conditions are highly favorable…pretty much all week. in preparation, i’m polishing my Zen-plated shield and collecting jokes and deep breaths with which i can mark my trail. later i will follow them back to my bedcave in time to rest for tomorrow’s intrepid adventures.

i’m a little envious this week of the action figures who can fly themselves instead of using mass transit. i’d take that low-emissions invisible plane any day of the week…or try the cape thingy if i thought that would work…and if i had that thought while not substantively altered. there is some foreshadowing of a possible overbooking problem on the last leg of my commercial flight home…plus, if i could get a designated pilot, i could still sit back and enjoy a cloud-top cocktail…call drinks from invisible liquorette bottles.

i’d like to see how other action figures handle scheduling, if they handle their own at all. the nature of our lives requires spontaneity, flexibility and periods of extended energy. how do they pull it all off, and since pulling it off obviously qualifies as its own superpower, why hide it? why isn’t there some caped crusader at the Hall of Justice with a powerful “E” for Efficient or Executor or Effin’ Organized emblazoned on her chest shield? you’d see her strike through a lifetime of chores in a single sweep of Sharpie, knock procrastination from power with a death ray of accomplishment flashed from sparkling eyes, fit “me-time” and exercise into the most hyperbolically full calendar.

writing that i realize it sounds like a pretty boring power…at least from a spectator’s point of view…but as i stare down into a villainous valley of expectations, deadlines and timekeepers, i have to say i’d be encouraged to discover that superheroine, who obviously supers out remotely, which is why you never see her killing time in the Hall of Justice break room.

action figure daughter is now calling plaintively from the dark of toddler forest. it’s time to get my lists on…over my big-girl superhero underwear…part of the uniform, not an underoos set.

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there is a disturbance in the force(d)

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i’m the engineer of this runaway day…already cramped with a morning full of possibilities, probabilities and disturbed logistics. all of that adds up to very little time to write, even less time to answer calls and a bunch of appointment times that look slightly less realistic with every word i type. i thought through three or four different things to write about as i made coffee almost two hours ago. now i’m struggling to remember my minimum task set for successful navigation of some choppy fryday morning waters.

my daughter rose early, her father was late…they are still battling over shoes upstairs. i have little room left to flex this schedule…i’m afraid today’s blog is next on the cutback list. i suppose it’s inevitable, a day, rushed with no room to meander around in my thoughts and pontificate. i guess it’s a chance to test the flexibility of my standards, to remember who i’m doing this for, and that practice makes perfect imperfections…not perfect. perfect is boring.

it’s hard to close this page and move on to the next task at hand, but easy to want to perpetuate another recent habit of mine…being on time. so in the interest of consistency, i write…in the interests of brevity, sanity and accountability, i pause…perhaps for the day…perhaps until i navigate out of this agenda cloud and into a softer, slower fryday afternoon. we’ll see…i will be flowing with the go after these few, forced words. life is full of compromises, life is not tidy nor does it acquiesce to my desired pace or planning. it’s okay, i’m smiling, the weekend is walking up my porch steps and i’m almost ready to answer the door.  may your day and your weekend bring thrill or serenity, sanity or surreality…whatever is delivered, enjoy.

running down a dream…sucking wind and smiling

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i’m getting a late start this morning on my post, not for lack of enthusiasm or words, but because writing something that fulfills me every day is not yet my full time job…emphasis on “yet.” i am walking a narrow wall of faith right now believing in myself and in others’ belief in me. i must stay convinced that one day soon i will find fruition, that my 25 year old dreams and fantasies were not planted in my mind to torture me, but to call me.

following your dreams is scary. i do a lot of practical things well, so why not just do those? predictable, steady, secure…or so it seems. what is secure anymore? is there anything we can count on in these turbulent times? has there ever been anything we could really count on besides ourselves? hell, we even let ourselves down often enough to question our fortitude and dependability. all i really know is that if i am fortunate to wake up on any given day, i will breathe, and i will care for my daughter…beyond that i make no promises but to approach the challenges and victories of the day with kindness and Love. security is an illusion, especially when it remains at the mercy of your boss or some anonymous shareholders…shareholders who don’t know you as a person, and who see their fortunes rise and fall with every expenditure your company makes.  security is an illusion…cataclysmic events can come at anytime…cosmic events, personal developments. here i am, back to that tired “carpe diem” concept, oh captain my ho-hum captain.

but i’m not talking about seizing a day. i’m talking about seizing a life. you get one chance to live your divine purpose…well, one that we know of anyway. i hope one day, my few readers here, and the ones who’ve pushed and encouraged me all these years, will fondly remember reading my baby steps. (and man, i hope that my walking legs come soon). i imagine the day when i will run with purpose along a path meant for me. i don’t care if i fall a hundred times along the way…bruises, scrapes and all, i will be smiling and getting back up to run again. i’ve proven to myself that i will stay in the race and find joy in it. oh, wait…didn’t i just write a few days ago about how much i hate running? that brings up another funny thing i noticed about running in real life…i’ve never minded running in the context of a sport i like to play or an outing that excites me. i might suck some wind, but i hardly notice the running part as i chase soccer, tennis or racquetballs, or sprint to the line for a rollercoaster or water slide. and so it is when you chase your dreams…suddenly what appears to be “work” doesn’t feel like “work.”  i feel that difference even now when i teach classes as one of my (yawn) regular job duties. actually training people, being in front of them joking, teaching and helping, is rewarding enough that it’s kept me solvent and happy for over a decade.

but now i want something new, something close to my heart and that’s been too scary for me to try for fear of failure. now i want what i’ve dreamed of my entire life, since the tender age of 14 or maybe younger, when i heard for the first time from a beloved teacher, “you are a really good writer.” it took a while to let that sink in. really? huh. after that i spent my secondary education as a wallflower student, thinking no one noticed me, thinking no teachers would remember me…but they consistently noticed one thing…i could write.  so, after 25 years of dabbling and hiding, i’m ready to put my heart out there. i’m ready to tell the world that i can write, instead of asking for permission. i’m ready to make a life from it, because the world needs good writers, despite how many there seem to be. because i’m ready to stop hiding my heart and talents behind walls of security and benefits packages.

at some point, if you have a fire, if you have a dream that you just can’t shake loose…you’ve got to accept it and reach out to find a way to live your divine purpose. i’m working harder with Faith right now than i ever thought i could. i’ve got my “don’t look down” face on and though it’s terrifying to float in mid-air like this, the determined trish in my heart is yelling the loudest words of encouragement, joy and anticipation, loud enough to drown the voices of doubt. and it’s important to realize that most of us can’t grab hold of our dreams without help. my teacher and mentor told me yesterday that one of my strengths is being able to seek help. ha, really? when did i build that muscle? when i had no other choice…when i was so weak i couldn’t have survived without help. now i’m strong enough to seek and give at the same time. that’s the energy and power that comes from the fire in your heart…the fire you feel when you realize that you are stronger and more passionate than you realized, more compassionate than you thought you could be.

practice makes perfect imperfection. don’t be afraid to suck. just do. it feels good anyway…trust me, have some Faith.

up the down stairway to heaven…a game of habits

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i will lament a little this morning about habits (not the kind that nuns wear…perhaps there is a nun blogger out there writing that post as i write mine…follow my tags and maybe you’ll find that one too). the whole concept of “habits” is entirely too complex. i mean, how complicated should it be? do new things that are good for you, stop some that are bad…pull it off with some consistency and call them habits. so why is it so haaarrrrrd?

habits to me seem like one of those God games…like women’s menstrual cycles or irony…like a drinking game or little kids’ game where every round, someone gets to add a new rule. God and SuperFriends sat around laughing their ethereal asses off, throwing in things like, “make the bad ones really hard to break!” and, “the easy ones all have to be bad.” and the sillier (or drunker) They got, the more esoteric and obtuse the rule:  “oh, oh! and make the good ones hard to notice…I mean, like where, like, the more good ones you make, the more bad ones you see!”

i’ve made a few good habits lately, and broken a few bad ones. i need to acknowledge that because all i see are the things i still haven’t managed to habitualize, and all of the patterns i maintain despite evidence that altering them would make me feel better in the long run. ug, and there it is…(one of) the problem(s) between habits and me. i don’t like long runs. in fact i hate them. the cross country races i had to run (slowly) in high school still haunt me like a phantom stitch in my side or ghost shin splints. i say “had to run” because it was considered “pre-season” soccer training. “hey people (coach!), there is a reason i’m a goalie!” my dad used to try to comfort me by telling me, “mastersons will get there, we just won’t get there first.” that was quite comforting, come to think of it.

i digress. my point is, i’ve noticed that bad habits seem to come with all of those wonderful things that bring instant gratification, while good habits inevitably involve “the long run.” and here’s a fun rule: most things that bring instant gratification will destroy you in the long run. ARG! so we spend all kinds of time trying to turn long-run oriented results into something that feels good now. “mmmm, i like these carrots better than chips ahoy rainbow cookies anyway.” that’s some joke. thanks Guys and Girls up there…i hope you are having a good time with this game, Someone should.

still, i have to play the game, or lose to sloth, indulgence, heart disease and/or a drug problem…or end up crippled from sports and fun my body is not prepared to withstand. so this morning i take some stock and look at some of the long run homers i’ve hit lately, to clear my vision and let me see progress that might motivate me to make more. so…the biggest? i quit smoking cigarettes (for the millionth and final time) more than two months ago. talk about easy to make and hilariously difficult to break! secondly, i’ve managed to habitualize keeping my home pretty tidy. thirdly…and now i’m stretching…um, let’s go with sleeping in my bed almost every night instead of the Couch of Even Crappier Sleep.

i have started one habit…not exactly easy to maintain…but that’s enjoyable and rewarding enough to beat the odds…it’s good now AND in the long run! it’s writing here, every day of the week except sunday. it takes some discipline. oh, how i hate that word, but in this case, its tactics are gentle. i don’t beat myself up over this habit…i don’t spend scads of time thinking up reasons to skip it before i decide to get to it (ahem…i’m talking about you, exercise!). i guess it’s easy for me to like it in the moment and let “the long run” benefits develop on their own. i have no end goal in mind when i write. (well, there is that pulitzer committee thing….).

i don’t know if i can maintain this habit. i don’t know if i can make other ones feel this good. i’ve heard rumors that they all get easier the closer you get to habitualization. (by the way, i’m fairly certain “habitualize” in all its forms is not actually a word…but i figure if i use it enough, it may become a linguistic habit across our lexicon…that’s me making up rules to my own games…hahaHA!). like i said, i’ve established some healthy habits lately, broken a few bad ones…but they are hard to see. i do see that i need to drink more water, eat healthier, drink less coffee, exercise more, walk my dog more, stop procrastinating on all the administrivia that haunts me, and meditate regularly (for more than a minute and a half).

for today though, i will try to enjoy all my new and shiny habits, and pat myself on the back for being here, for trying and for succeeding at lots of things…and for trying again when i fail. join me today…look at what you do well, for yourself and for others. shine a new light on your habits and find the good ones that keep you going everyday (if you see some bad ones you’d like to work on, that’s ok too). i think making a habit of appreciating yourself might just make this game fun(ner). i’m talkin’ fun for a girl and a boy…and though there is no victory, just “game over” at death,  i will still shake my hand at the sky and laugh every time my little slinky of a life continues its journey down the stairway to heaven…oh, wait…am i going the wrong way? ah well, it’s not the destination right? or did i just discover another twisted rule?

gratitude for a stateside attitude

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i have a lot of disparate thoughts this morning, hard to gather and sort in time for an early post. i awoke from a decent night’s sleep for a change…though still chock full of imagery and dream decisions…to a monday of pets gone wild, ants on the warpath and a procrastinator’s army of tasks to accomplish. my thoughts remind me of these ants, marching single file, breaking apart in a chaotic looking mission meant to culminate in wiggly piles of hunger on every trace of sugar or tiny food bit. it occurs to me now that the bounce in my step this morning may just be ants in my pants.

some of my disparate thoughts land uncomfortably on news items from the weekend. we’ve been at war, a real war with guns and helicopters in place of my metaphorical war on ants and racing thoughts. this morning i’m remembering 30 troops we lost to a combination of guns and helicopters, and the news that i now know another young widow. for all my losses and heartaches, the empathy i feel toward the widows i know….acquaintances, all of them…makes me ever more grateful that i’m here to complain about ants and dog poop, and that my little daughter has her father still, even if the family tree has grown a bit crooked.

i have a heart full of prayers this morning, both for our troops in the sand and all of the family members left behind to worry and fret, and sometimes, to grieve. it’s hard to understand all of this death and destruction and glean real purpose from the battles and mistakes of the last decade. our own terror has faded, if only slightly, since 2001 when all of our hearts began beating wildly on a crisp and beautiful september morning. it was horrific. and almost ten years ago. the loss this weekend reminds me that many of the people we fight with and for have lived whole lives with that kind of terror in their hearts every day…so much that they grow numb and hard, confused and angry. in many hot spots in the middle east, widows and childless parents are more common than long marriages and intact families, mortars more common than flowers.

we have it so good we’ve forgotten how hard some have to work just to stay alive. we complain about cell phone service in air-conditioned office buildings, crowded mass transit parking lots and platforms, wait times or language barriers on customer service calls, drivers who don’t use blinkers (ahem), and all of those inconsiderate people who wreck their cars during rush hour. i wake up mortified at the idea of using stop-gap neurotoxins on my ant invasion, while people halfway around the world keep masks on hand in fear of the neurotoxins of war. it’s so easy to feel small on this planet, for troubles to feel small, especially for those of us stateside, especially for those exposed at one time or another to the third world or real revolution. for the rest of us, with couches and cable, it’s easy to get lost in our daily struggles. it’s easy to forget to be grateful. it’s easy to spew vitriol about unfairness and entitlements. the truth is, we are entitled to keep breathing, as long as we meet our needs for survival and that’s about it.

for the rest of the gifts i take for granted most days, i feel my gratitude today. for the love and support of friends, for a monday full of mundane responsibilities and for the healthy, happy child whom i can hear breathing softly through the baby monitor thanks to dependable power lines and a cheap transmitter. i’m grateful for the opportunity to be my outrageous self, in a country of outrageous selves, some who leave you outraged, some who leave you inspired, and some who have absorbed unimaginable grief with a sense of duty and a lot of faith.

do you feel grateful today? for having 10 minutes to read someone’s blog as a latte slips down your throat? for having a life to live? for the love of your friends and family? for getting stuck in traffic on a smooth, 4-lane highway? for the opportunity to accumulate bills and struggle to pay them? if you’ve forgotten for a moment, take a deep breath and thank your higher power for the comforts you enjoy and even the challenges you face. it will make the comforts more comforting and the challenges less challenging.  it’s certainly working for me this morning.

what class of extinguisher is best for a hair fire?

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this morning i pause to appreciate Funniness. i haven’t watched the news in weeks. i read some online news and headlines, and the rest i get, when i catch it, from Comedy Central. i don’t know how i could survive this political climate without John Stewart or Stephen Colbert to get me to the laughing part. it’s too easy for me to get caught up in huffy-puffy indignation about plans and problems, imbeciles and arguments when the best i can really do is vote, or i suppose write a letter to my congressman or woman. talk about delayed gratification. if ever. they are probably tweeting their breakfast menus to each other right now and joking about thursdays that feel like fridays. and the rest of us will never get elected because we aren’t loaded with cash and have probably gotten loaded at some point in our lives on something we’d prefer not to discuss with Fox News or the AP.

once i start laughing at “them” and “us,” and that whole concept, i remember that i’ve heard most all of this before, expressed in some fashion that was highly fashionable at the time. i remember that for my entire life, my country has been on the edge of doom and disaster. in the few instances where we were economically “ok,” our moral decline had already booked the tickets, freshened our passports and packed all our handbaskets for the short trip straight to hell. now we are on our way to the poorhouse (again) with our smartphone navigators gently talking us turn-by-turn down the yellow brick road to Perdition. i see our country as the equivalent of what i like to call in the the working world, “the people with their hair on fire.” have you ever worked with them? everything is an emergency, everything is the end of the world and everyone fits tidily into “wrong” and “right” boxes, except that the “right” box almost always contains only one or two sycophantic packers plus the beholder, the one with the stinky hair fire that i can’t actually see burning. hmmm….it kind of makes sense, actually, burning hair is a very unpleasant odor….perhaps that is the repellent pheromone of the righteous, bossy blamer.

i grew up with moral fires burning all around me, ready to consume my hair, my soul, my future and the entire “pinko” world. i also remember my family being “steps away” from some “poorhouse” that only existed in dickens novels and 19th century photographs. i’m beginning to understand that the urgency and hyperbole used to describe the issues is the biggest problem we have…er…create. i don’t even see it happening sometimes since it is part of my “normal,” and Lord  knows i LOVE a big bowl of hyperbole. but all of these conversations about the loss of polite and effective discourse in politics as though it’s a new problem is one of the big jokes, the big scams. our congressmen used to duel it out and duke it out, right on federal property. now they do it from airplane seats and insulting campaign ads, weilding loaded cyberbully accounts in their blackberry holsters.

so today and tomorrow and the next day, just like i used to do as a kid…i have to push back from the table, a table full of chiefs clamoring to be the biggest voice of the biggest tribe, plus a couple of chickens screaming something about falling skies…and walk outside to breathe, hear some crickets, and laugh my lovable, Loving ass off. we’ll get through this, people, or else. our congressmen and women can’t do it all themselves…no matter how (in)capable…and we won’t do it by being “right.” we will do it ourselves, by being ourselves with kindness and (open)mindfulness and by pressing on. it will never be fast, it will never satisfy everyone, but if you are lucky and smart, you’ll have an impact, whether you feel it or not, and a nice ab work out laughing at our absurdity.

WARNING: never mix metaphor, guns and alcohol

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i’m excited this morning, my head filled with various instruments of dissonance…enough that my thoughts blend and twist and delight and disturb me like a favorite My Bloody Valentine track…with enough layers to combine a dirge with elation and compress it all into one long, busy sigh of complicated pleasure.

why so dissonant? my dreamy self will dress soon, in long, protective sleeves. this emotional pacifist will put on some badassery, inside and out, grab my badass best friend and go shoot some guns. hells yeah. we will learn our careful aim and techniques from a Texan, a real ranger, someone with lots of guns. i will shoot at circles or other inanimate targets, haunted by visions and the ghost of an ever-preserved charlie heston. i will fire safely down a range, prepared for the recoil of the gun, and maybe my soul a little. i know i will flinch at least…challenge my ears, my nerves and my gentler sensibilities. and. i. can’t. wait.

mixed emotions can make me ambivalent…or they can thrill me. mixed emotions are the signage that advertise my boundaries for me. sometimes i need to sift through to the firmest emotions and fortify a boundary…and sometimes blow one apart. today i will do the latter in a most literal way. that’s (one of) the funny thing(s) about boundaries…we need to establish protective boundaries, the kinds that teach others how to respect and please and support us in being our best outrageous selves. then we need to turn to our inner gunslinger and blast our way through the boundaries that limit what we think we are entitled to experience in this life.

i love comfort. i’ve kept jeans longer than any job or relationship i’ve ever had…but i bet like me, you feel the beauty and perfection of comforting things most when you come back from somewhere well outside your comfort zone. staying inside that zone decreases the scope of what we think of as possible, as acceptable, as inevitable. comfort zones breed contentment, then boredom, and then either complacency or rebellion. some people find complacency to be a natural, inert state. i find that complacency destroys both my sanity and the refuge of my comfort zones…makes them into dingy, depressing prisons of habit and stunted opportunity. from within those prisons, i can only decide to die or rebel.

so i’m going to go blow some holes through my complacency, renovate my comfort zone, add a piercing rapport to the sound of my rainbows, throw a pinch of gunpowder in for flavor and lay a little heat on my palate. sounds to me like a meal i might wash down with an ice cold mexican beer when it’s all said and done…or maybe some tequila…to flush the lead taste from my mouth and swallow the awkward chunks of these poorly mixed metaphor. wow,  i’m thinking in some seriously strange tasting visuals about guns and alcohol. thank God i’m not driving.