Tag Archives: musings

on all 4s in life’s great relay race of love, laughter & loss

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these struggling tides of life that seem
in wayward, aimless course to tend,
are eddies of the mighty stream
that rolls to its appointed end.

william cullen bryant

i’m sipping black coffee this morning since i ran out of creamer and the milk in my fridge went over. it separated into rotten milk-flakes as i attempted to make do without my half-n-half yesterday. mmmm. now there’s some great imagery for a monday morning. how’s your cereal?

i’ve been out of creamer for at least 4 days. i’ve had half-ready mail decorating the seats of my pre-schooler dirtied car for 4 days. i’ve been medicating a(nother) UTI for 4 days. i have a half finished report at work, overdue 4 days.

i’m going to lose my mom, quite possibly in less than 4 days. she might last as long as the early cherry blossoms my family and i admired yesterday, those gnarled trees’ magnificence displayed first with bursting flowers, then with the soft green canopy meant for picnics and shaded family strolls. or my phone could ring in 4 hours, 4 minutes, 4 seconds….i will very soon lose her body to the stage 4 lung cancer diagnosis she received two octobers ago.

my life this year is rife with eras ending. in some cases, the indication comes from within as i watch and feel the dying of patterns that no longer suit me. in other cases, it’s Life’s great cycle coming to reclaim the spent bodies of souls who’ve shared their energy with me all these years from hearts so loved and loving. then there are cases where the end of an era is most clearly marked by a new beginning, by the clearing of disaster debris and the discovery of a well-built foundation from which to face and embrace all of the wonder and growth yet to come.

in about 4 months, i’ll be 40. does life ever wrap things up in this tidy, if not painful a fashion? it’s been a long, long last 4 years. perhaps in 2012 this culminates and then lets me go, relieved, reborn, refreshed for my next 4 decades. no doubt 2012 will roll to its appointed end, likely with less drama than the rollercoasters of 2010 & 11, but still with its own disorienting curves, hysterical climbs and disconcerting drops.

in honor of my new beginnings and this one shot at life, i will send this missive into the ether. i will nurture and feed my future. i will write. i started this blog last July with those 3 words and 1 promise from head to heart…that i would do it for me, outrageous me, that i would practice this craft and put words together no matter if i had many or no readers to impress. i don’t need wordpress to get famous nor will i write my pulitzer winning novel for my “followers.” i will never fulfill my dreams while seeking the approval of others who are struggling toward their own. i’m here because my dreams and fantasies are mine to indulge, fulfill, achieve or regret.

and therein lies another era’s ending, one that makes space for a life lived in comfortable skin, connected to the center of my Being and my reason for Being on this earth, in tune with where i am this very moment. and so i take 4 breaths and publish my 4 cents…and thank each and every reader 4 times from the bottom of my heart.

namaste

 

a lesson on shyness, shambles and the pursuit of “Awww”

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a beat writer fan’s cliche…our smoke on the water riff, if you will…where we first alight, find delight and begin our imitations…

“the only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones that never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars and in the middle you see the blue centerlight pop and everybody goes ‘Awww!'” – j.kerouac

but i’m not here today to imitate, or to ruminate on the futures and fantasies this quote inspired behind my shy, collegiate eyes. i’m not writing with the same “Awww” in my throat as when i scribbled it in paint, dead center, on the black sheet of quotes and trippy things that hung in my early ’90s dorm room of disaffection and flannel.

what interests me this morning is the beginning of that sentence…the part i’ve never seen included with these words out of their context…the part i didn’t paint on my black sheep’s black sheet…

“they danced down the streets like dingledodies, and i shambled after as i’ve been doing all my life after people who interest me, because…”

i’ve always chosen the mad ones. jack described their salience so elegantly, so perfectly analogous to fireworks, like the ones i imagined were for me each july 4th as the nation kicked off its trish birthday festivities in anticipation of the 6th. the mad ones. i’ve hung rapt on their burning words. i’ve wished that my presence would explode like sparkling spiders enough to fill a sky full of stars, or even just a room. i’ve always hoped my blue centerlight would pop one day and the world would say “Awww” at all the love, brilliance, hope and wonder i carry in my heart.

i’ve spent a life shambling. i’ve spent a life feeling the cool cast of a shadow…someone’s shadow, all my days. i’d bet that’s not what people might guess. i’ve learned a lot about how those around me perceived me, my shyness and my life over the years. i was always alarmed and amused when i would learn later about people who were intimidated…the ones who thought i was always outrageous, confident, cool and cold. they were as surprised as i was fascinated when they learned i was a shy, nerdy, soft-hearted dreamer. they don’t know i was the littlest of 7 loud kids. they didn’t guess that i was once the awkward girl at school who got picked on or ignored completely. i went through a lot protecting that dreamer. i kept my tender heart a secret from so many, sometimes on purpose. i’m proud to say she’s made it through with bigger dreams, eyes and sighs than ever.

i used to shamble, but i’m picking up speed.

i always chased those mad ones because i thought i couldn’t be one…one of the people who interests me. i wasn’t interesting enough to others to interest myself. i wasn’t wild enough, free-spirited enough. i danced on peripheries looking for places to jump into the fun, afraid i wasn’t welcome. i felt like a wallflower but played the role badly enough to confuse all but the most perceptive viewers. i became a great sidekick to the loud and living. together we developed complex worldviews in galaxies all our own with our desires and perceptions as lenses. i gave them all the credit for whatever i found interesting in my life. strange then, that i chose so much solitude, moving and working always in new places, seeking my inner dingledodie and another one to play with.

i chose the mad ones as my mates. each time, i believed i was a partner, a mad one, half of a perfect dingledodie pair. sometimes we exploded, but too close to the ground, setting wild fires and hearts ablaze with romantic and destructive abandon. but most times i became the practical one, the grounded girl, the shambler. in the end i’d find myself shambling after the important details left strewn behind my mad one. i’d spend my energy admiring and shambling into trouble, picking up the pieces of our lives, waiting for that blue centerlight that was the fruition of their dreams, mine somehow now a footnote.

these days i’m free. free from the need or desire for shambling. free from the shyness that kept me from lighting my yellow roman candle for a crowd. i’ve picked a mate who seems inspired by my madness and need to burn, burn, burn and never say a commonplace thing (though i know i do more often than not). he does much of my yawning for me, leads with his mind and heart, lives for passion, expresses himself eloquently and honestly and never shambles. he cools and calms me, even as he stokes the fires in my belly, under my ass and in my most desirous heart. he leaves me space and gives me safety as i tap into the heat and beautiful chaos of my centerlight. it’s frightening. i have so much time and energy to devote to fulfilling all of these promises i’ve made to my Self…my excuses for inaction are now thin at best.

jack was a mad one. he describes himself in this most famous of quotes. i wonder if he ever realized he was exactly what he sought, what he loved. i wonder if he had a day where he woke up and realized the shambling was all in his mind. i wonder if he saw that in his whole life he never yawned or said a commonplace thing. i wonder if he ever anticipated that his beautiful and tragic life and poetry would explode across my mind and heart every time i set feet where he set his, or read words he wrote that feel like mine. i wonder if he ever looked up and realized how many shambled after him.

this is a poignant post for me, lacking the wit i love to wield behind my words. but, it is my most outrageous revelation of this brand new year, one of several i’m sure i will stew on as my clock ticks toward 40…as i realize that i am what i’ve loved…as i become more outrageously me…and share it with outrageous you.

may we all live out loud and with passion, my fellow dingledodies…and the self-awareness to feel it.

put this antique on the roadshow…a life less lustrous

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it is nighttime, not typically the right time for my write time, but this first day of a brand new year begs for words to greet it. tiny christmas lights twinkle their last wishes my way as i finally sit down and start to play with my words. mmm, words…they tickle and comfort me with soft ideas and breathy inspiration, so close to my heart they change its rhythm sometimes. so special is the feeling, that most of my reflections on the passing of 2011 fall on how i found my words again.

my writer’s mind started this day by reading again a “note” i posted the same day last year. i was in a similar mood. new year’s day seems to find me pensive if not a little melancholy…i’m noticing a trend. i wonder if it’s always been that way.

at that time, i timidly published those private thoughts on facebook, shared among friends, and was humbled and warmed by the responses. i had no idea why i would make public what amounted to a typical, front porch, rocking chair-style journal entry. i quiver a little now at the implications of that morning and of those words i released into this balance of electricity and magnetism we call life.

i’ve often claimed i was a writer, the declaration always carrying the casual, apologetic tone of weekend artists and idols.  i hadn’t earned the right to describe it as more than a hobby, often started, often stopped. i still haven’t. i’m still scared i never will. and so i was afraid to talk about how i was feeling, that my words were coming back to me, flirting with me, teasing me…that it felt like they were coming back to stay, maybe to change my life.

but seven months after describing what i could only hope was an awakening and not just another lucid dream, i started this blog. during those seven months, all filled up with other kinds of living, i almost let it happen again…the steam evaporate from my passionate breaths and dreams. but something tugged at my focus, sending reminders on airplanes to denver, pulling my emotions to the surface on the surface streets of jack and dean’s LoDo, painting rainbows over mountains and monuments like a child in a coloring book. the awakening continued.

i write. i can say that now, at the beginning of 2012, without the internal wince of a fearful fraud.

woven throughout my post last year is a desire to break through my apathy. i desperately wanted to give some things to myself in 2011. i was hoping i could find the “discipline” or “motivation,” to make and break some habits, imagining what it would look like when i got everything right. the fantasy view. knowing how my soul rebels against the words “discipline” and “motivation,” i pushed a prayer out there with a promise to myself to keep down the  “shoulds,”  embrace when possible the “coulds,” and not worry so much about making them “dids.”

looking back today was a spiritual moment. i had prophesied my year and then fulfilled it. i didn’t do it with resolutions. i didn’t do it with promises. i gently gave myself the right, not the obligation, to keep trying…to know we never really get it right…to be happy that i’m doing my best, even when my best doesn’t impress me very much.

i spent 2011 making and breaking habits i’d struggled with for years, decades, a lifetime in some cases. i was afraid to mention a single one loudly for fear i would flag again and shrink further from those who had encouraged me.  the jinx i would deliver myself was ever-impending and inevitable. i preferred to try and fail in private…no need for the world to know the weakness of my follow through.

but i did mention it…in  some detail, out here for the world to see, and on display in my physical world too…and the jinx never came. my cautious, intentional steps toward things i finally really wanted continued, even as i sensed the heights i was reaching, even as i lost touch sometimes with the earth beneath my feat. and feet.

i grew to love 2011. i imagine it will always be a favorite, despite its pits and zits. it’s in the record books for me. it started with such a lackluster opening act, but at the time, i wasn’t really interested in lustrous things anyway.  i wanted to see everything at its rawest, most naked…where i could trust it and my own perceptions. i knew that recently, as the luster had worn from some of my treasures, i found i’d been fooled by a more than a few.

sometimes your favorite things turn out to be pretty unspectacular, even ugly, when all the sparkly parts are gone.

sometimes under a little patina you find a masterpiece aging with its own tasteful hue. and that was me. my life in 2011. i found the masterpiece under all of the shiny tragedy and fantasy.

and i found out that sometimes luster can be restored. a little can be nice.

i started it all by putting it out there on facebook. my private words and thoughts. i only apologized a few times for doing it, and i will only apologize once here. i still don’t know what i’m doing. but i’m doing. and i’m less and less afraid to do it out loud…to live my outrageous life as outrageous me.

i kissed 2012’s arrival much more sweetly than 2011’s.  last year was like a rocket launch with all of that potential energy on the launchpad, not much movement at first…then slowly it rises…until it inconspicuously hits cruising speeds that barely translate in the earthly mind. and that all fits neatly into my lustrous little world view. 2012 sounds so space age to me. i think i’m cruising for a while, with some good systems go.

i’ll see you same time, same place next year, alphabet. you and me…we’re good together. and to my friends and readers, happy new year…again.

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.

playdate with little miss Petulance

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man, that first cup of coffee went quickly. i think it’s burning my stomach lining i drank it so fast. i feel rushed this morning, knowing that i have a toddler sleeping upstairs, fresh from grandma and grandpa’s spoiler factory in western new york. a toddler who will wake like the tiny sleeping giant that she is, to throw joy, tantrums and whirling winds into my morning.

i feel reluctantly rushed this whole week, trying to sort out a bunch of my own evolution and squeeze it into a regular, worldly human’s schedule. i’m not complaining, or lamenting less inspired days gone by…but i do find myself whiny and petulant and feeling what i would call selfish. my inner toddler wishes i had my own “patron of the arts” to fund my free spirit…and a live-in “servant” (aka Personal Assistant?). unfortunately, i think people like that expect you to create some sort of art before they consider volunteering funding for further adventures. and i’m just not quite established or brilliant enough to attract unpaid interns for the PA job.

i look at my daughter’s new Curious George Mood Puzzle and realize that i’m in all of those moods at once…though the ache in the pit of my stomach is not real sickness, it’s Love sickness. it’s the kind of Love sickness that makes it hard to think about serious things for very long, the kind i don’t really want to go away, the kind i will never have enough sick leave at work to cover, the kind i’m suppose to manage, not “cure.” i wish giving and receiving Love to myself, to people and to these pages was a paying gig. i wish everything came as easily to me as words do from my mouth and fingertips.

so today i will name my most recent amalgamation of moods…i shall call her Petulance. i look to my daughter for examples, for a crisp definition and easily recognizable signs that Petulance is eating up my day and spirit. she’s 2, she does petulant well. she expresses it outwardly, boldly, unapologetically and sometimes with a whine that, while irritating, is expected and correctable over time.  it is SO much less attractive on me. and even though i keep much of it concealed from the grownup world, i can see it in myself in the mirror, and in many of my recent spiritual reflections. lately, as fun and interesting things have populated my heartscape and schedule, i’ve not had much luck trying to overcome Petulance and her abhorrence for my 9-5 responsibilities.

it’s time to try something different, an experiment. today i will embrace Petulance and attempt to forgive myself for all of the whining, the sulking, the procrastination, the selfishness, the laziness and all of the inconsistencies and recriminations floating around my skull and clouding my vision of an enlightened life. i’m pretty sure that an enlightened life includes all of the moods and attributes included in these paragraphs. efforts to eliminate them feel futile (like my job sometimes)…so i will welcome Petulance and her constituents graciously as visitors, even if they are the kind most can only take in small doses. perhaps if i welcome them, feed them, comfort them and then show them kindly to the door, my magnanimity will have enough energy and focus leftover to spend on the tasks and dreams at hand.

my magnanimity may need a glass of whine…er…wine later and a grownup friend to talk to after entertaining Petulance all week. and my toddler may need a glass of (something age appropriate) and a stuffed elephant to talk to after dealing with one day of me. if anyone has suggestions for entertaining and wearing her out, i’m listening. i’m talking about suggestions for Petulance, not my 2-year old.

balanced beaming and bumper cars

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bleah. monday morning. my illuminated life still delivers plenty of dimly lit, squinty-eyed, grumbly-breathed monday mornings. i polished off a particularly outrageous, particularly “me” weekend last night knowing that the physical and psychic transition into this day might drag a bit…and it is. Reluctance is leading Team Motivation this morning and a couple of important members are missing from the round table.

coffee is speaking up, and like my dad, is always a little miffed at the ones who call in sick on a monday. it means that coffee has a LOT of extra work to do, and has to listen to the others bitch and moan while it covers the whole team’s ass. now coffee and another motivator..the one i’ve never met in person and whose name i don’t remember (instinct? survival instinct? something base like that)…are pushing me to live today, to do the things that make me proud and happy and that fund the rest of these words and dreams. work, dishes, laundry, cat-food shopping…it’s hard to push a limp body up a monday morning hill.

so this limp body is twitching, stretching proudly (and gently, ouch), and straightening up to face the parts of life that come after a weekend of friends, shooting guns for fun, baking yummy treats, playing scrabble, watching movies, losing sleep from all the excitement and then tubing my way down the shenandoah and potomac rivers on the clearest, sunniest day of the summer. i’m recovering from a weekend “off” – of a lot of things. i left my monday through friday job where it belongs, my baby girl was on her own vacation for a few days, and the darker side of my attitude took a good long hike. two of my favorite people provided companionship and affection and enough laughter to make my belly sore. i believe i made the most of a rockin’ summer weekend. if there was more to be made, i was too happy, busy and exhausted to notice.

i did notice this morning, however, all of the chores, tasks and obligations i either skipped or that were already laid out for this week. ugh. i’ve never been great at balance. i mean the physical kind. it plagued me in some sports that i was otherwise good at, and looms in my mind as the inevitable reason i would fail a roadside sobriety test, no matter my condition. i can’t even walk down a sidewalk without playing bumper cars between friends. i know there are ways to work on balance…core muscles, muscle memory and practice…but my innate sense of balance has a starting point, a set point…and it’s a little squirrely on its best day (except that squirrels are actually pretty good on a balance beam, if not a little spazztastic elsewhere). the point is, i know i can’t pull off “the dream,” my purpose, without working this balance thing.  the elated, the dreary, the bone-crushingly sad, the euphoric, the mystical, the blue, the exhilarating, the exhausting, the indignant and the livid…all of those influences inside me have to balance, at least enough to stay on or in view of the Path…wherever its twisty terrain leads. so right now i’m grateful for all of you “bumper cars” who help me stumble along. i’ll need a beltway-monday full of them today.