Saturday, September 1, 2018

Midlife Musings

Midlife Musings

How many midlife crises am I allowed to have?

The last 6 years have been a blur.
I was talking with a friend yesterday and
she mentioned losing four years of her life
in a cycle of grief.  "Four years!!!" she said.

In reflecting on my own, I see a cycle of three years.
The first cycle shook my foundation and
caused an identity crisis.  

Just as I was coming out and regaining my balance, 
the second cycle began, and over the course 
of about 8 months, my life completely unraveled.

Life as I knew it had changed, permanently.
I was in survival mode.  I'd heard of it and read of it,
but until then, never experienced it.

Now, three years later, I'm beginning to 
regain my footing, think with a clearer head, and
look towards a future which had been uncertain.

Now what?

I. Have. No. Clue.

So, in trying to find a starting place, 
I began to think of what I've learned.

1.  Boundaries are a requirement.
This is difficult to do.
I saw a quote that said, and I paraphrase, 
the people who have trouble with your boundaries
are the ones who benefited because you had none.
(That is worthy of a mic-drop...)

2.  No.
No is a complete sentence.
I forget that, like 500 times a day.
I do not have to justify.
I do not have to explain.

3.  Presence is underrated.
Being present.  It is now a life goal.
When you talk, am I listening?
Or am I thinking about how to respond?
What I need to be doing instead?

Presence is not only respectful to you, but to me.
Am I fully present?
If not, I'm missing life, and this is a one-shot deal.

4.  Multitasking is a lie.
We are encouraged to juggle monkeys
(see earlier post) and wear our busyness
as a banner of worth and importance.
Um, No.

Our brains are neither designed nor wired to multitask.
It adds time to each task at hand.
We rarely complete ALL of them well.
The stress it creates compounds and overwhelms.

5.  Prioritize
This is a brand new word for me.
In my survival mode, triage came naturally, instinctively.
Now, it is my job to prioritize.
Starting with me.
Being top priority will be new to me.
I deserve no less and will work to demand no less.

Introspection is difficult.  It is vulnerable.
It is painfully honest and gut-wrenchingly bare.
It is very, very necessary for growth.
And so, the journey starts...

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Practice What I Teach

As the facilitator for a writing workshop at the Ashley County Library, I should be very ashamed to notice it's been forever and a day since I posted here last.  I encourage my writers to write, write, write...every day, about whatever! I journal daily and write as part of my job, but writing just for me?  It's just not been a priority, until now.

Here, I'm going to start practicing what I teach.  I post a link to monthly prompts on the library web page (under programming) and I decided today to pick a prompt and write.  Since today is the 22nd, number 22 on the list is "A Good Thing From Today."  What a prompt...what a day!

A good thing from today?  I didn't get water in my house!  It rained most of yesterday and for land already saturated, the water had no where to go.  So, the creeks filled and filled and overflowed into our pasture, as happens on rare occasion.  This time, the water kept rising.  We've had water in our house before, in the ground-level utility room.  That time, we received over 20 inches of water in a 24-hour period, so it was unexpected and quite historical. The water, thankfully, never rose to get IN my house, missing my hardwood floors by a scant 3 inches or less, but everything else we had was covered with nearly two feet of water. Just seeing it rising today was enough to make me nauseous and teary.

We placed a post to measure the progress.  It rose.  We did a bit of work.  It rose more.  We called a friend with heavy equipment to make preparations for a levee if needed.  It kept rising.  We took a drive to the east and south to see the impact of the others creeks and bayous.  We got home a couple of hours later and it was still rising.  We ate lunch and it rose.  We made another necessary errand and arrived home to notice the water was finally decreasing.  Happy-dances all around.  Truly, it was an answered prayer.  The rest of the evening proceeded, with me marking the receding much like we marked the rising.

On a late afternoon trip to the patio to see if the troughs for our cattle were visible yet, I noticed a fluttering against the far fence.  Darting back in to grab my binoculars, I spotted two pair of wood ducks.  They must have been on a double-date, checking out all the new water.  They swam a bit, waddled around on a bit of high ground in the corner of the pasture, then back into the water and out of sight.  It was a touch of joy to an anxious day.

I love nature.  I've been on vacation this week and have enjoyed seeing all sorts of wildlife out and about.  I've watched bluebirds build their nests.  I've seen purple martins coming back for another spring and summer in our houses.  I've seen wild turkeys grazing about, accompanied by my peacock, of all things.  Seeing the ducks this afternoon just gave me a peace.  Amidst the storm, quite literally, there are still pockets of peace.

Knowing the water is receding, even beyond the beam of my flashlight as I go out to check every hour or so, and the previously forecast storms for this afternoon and tonight have blown around us, I will be able to lay my head down tonight and sleep.  I remember a night, not that long ago, I stood in my kitchen and looked down the steps as water rose against the washer and dryer and pantry shelves.  I watched my room slowly submerge as more buoyant items rose.  I remember the prayers and the helplessness and the sleeplessness.  Tonight won't be like that March night.  Tonight I will be able to lay down my head with thanks and peace and comfort and rest.  That is a good thing about today!

Tuesday, January 12, 2016



"In the age of constant motion, nothing is so
urgent as sitting still."
Pico Iyer - from his TED talk.

I've developed the habit of listening to a
podcast every evening while walking or
cleaning or cooking dinner.
Today was "Quiet" on the TED Radio Hour,
sponsored by NPR.

It featured snippets of talks by
John Francis, Planetwalker, who did not 
speak for 17 years,
Megan Washington, Australian musician
and songwriter who stutters,
Gavin Pretor Pinney who started the 
Cloud Appreciation Society, and
Pico Iyer, novelist and travel writer who
spends time in stillness.

There were experts on introverts and
extroverts and how our society has changed
over the years, including the educational
systems who cater to extroverts.

I am an introvert.
I crave stillness.
I crave quiet.
I need it to function.

I've always known this, but haven't always
served my need for silence.
I take great delight in silence.
No television. No radio. No conversation.
Just silence with my thoughts.
According to John Francis, after a while,
even they grow silent.

My "revolution" this year is to have 
The Year of Me.
I think it may also include very large
and lovely pockets of silence.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

New Year's Res, er, Revolutions

My New Year's Resolution Revolution

Oh, the changed I want to make this year.
This is going to be The Year of Me.
(How conceited does that sound?)

I've been given one chance around this blue & green sphere we call home.
Why put off actually enjoying it?
Enjoying means doing more of what I love.
Which is why this is The Year of Me.
(Speaking of that theme, if you haven't read
Shonda Rhimes' Year of Yes pick it up today,
It should be required reading for anyone over 35.)

I've done a ton of reading and exploring and gathering ideas.
I'm putting together affirmations and routines and healthy practices.
My basic list starts with:
Understand your habits.  I'm an obliger, (thanks, Gretchen Ruben
in Better Than Before.)  Obligers need accountability.
So, I'm going to
Make it public - (thanks, Stephanie St. Claire @ Blissbombed)
by updating and confessing every new moon.
I will be blogging every Tuesday and Saturday.
New Moon confessional to come on the nearest day.

Why new moon you ask?
It's not always the 1st of the month.
It's not always a Monday.
There is no "stigma" attached to missing a particular day/date.
It is a literal new beginning in nature.
A chance to start fresh.
So, successful and not-so-successful issues can be resolved each
month with a great big lunar start-over.

This year I vow to:
Live "a life driven more strongly by curiosity than by fear." 
(Thanks, Liz Gilbert in Big Magic
which should be required reading for anyone over 25.)

Take more risks because
"There is nothing more vulnerable than creativity"
(Thanks, Brene Brown in Daring Greatly...also required reading.)

Stay in the moment - and off the hamster wheel of multi-tasking
"While washing the dishes one should only be washing the dishes..."
Thich Nhat Hanh

Do more of what really feeds my soul...writing.
"I don't think you have time to waste not writing because
you are afraid you won't be good at it."
Anne Lamott in Bird by Bird 
(required reading for anyone who wants to be a writer)

More concrete are daily vows:
Meditate daily, multiple times (alarms already set in my phone)
Journal daily (work/home - alarm set for work reminder)
Revisit my 30/5 cleaning method - 30 min./day, 5 days a week
Exercise daily - elliptical or walking...or both!
Eat.  Eat hearty, but healthy, and regularly (more on that in another post.)
No devices after 7pm. If I don't respond via text, email, etc.,
it's not you, it's ALL me!
And read.  Read.  Read.
Fiction, non-fiction, poetry, memoirs, everything. 

Most importantly, remember my motto:
(borrowed from someone I can't remember or I'd credit...)
"No Emotional Voting on Things That Have Been Decided"
And so it is.  Amen.
Stay tuned...I'll let you know how it goes!

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

The Mysteries of an Internal Compass

The Mysteries of an Internal Compass

This afternoon on my walk, er, stroll, actually, I went sans music.
I heard squirrels scurrying away in the underbrush.
I discovered my "hawk" was actually a mockingbird 
masquerading as a blue-jay most likely.
I heard numerous planes overhead, but due to the cloud cover, couldn't spot them.
And I heard geese.

I have long held a fascination with geese and their navigational skills.
I have not researched and investigated due to the fact I enjoy the magic of not knowing.
I couldn't see them, but could tell by their calls they were circling.
Perhaps the dense cloud cover confuses their internal compasses as well.

I have a love/hate relationship with my internal compass.
It's often called the Still, Small Voice, referring to the Holy Spirit indwelling Christian believers.
Others call it the gut, intuition, soul, heart of hearts, and any other numerous names.
To-may-to, to-mah-to.  To me it's one in the same.

The questions I should ask myself is, do I ask of it and do I listen to it?
If I will retreat to the quiet stillness of my thinking spot and ask, it WILL answer.
This is a great opportunity.  Is it a great opportunity for me?
This relationship/friendship has possibilities.  Should I invest my time/energy?
Should I or shouldn't I?
It always answers in truth.

Do I like the answer?
Ha, ha!  Most of the time if I have to retreat and ask, I want my desire, not the truth.
 Sometimes I'm searching for guidance, looking for reassurance I'm on the right track.
Other times I want permission and justification for the wrong track.
Why don't I listen more?

It has never once led me astray.
Sometimes the answer is yes. Sometimes no. Sometimes wait. 
Sometimes it just laughs at me.
I often run astray by not asking and ignoring the niggling feeling that I should be asking.
The knowing I'm on the wrong path and either enjoying my folly or scared to turn around.
The confidence that I'm in the right place at the right time or
in the wrong place at the wrong time. Or even more confusing, 
the right place at the wrong time.

Cultivating an understanding of my internal compass is a journey I'm currently undertaking.
I have mixed reviews thus far.
It's calling for me to end some relationships.
It's calling for me to proceed towards others.
However, when I listen, it always calls for me to act.  

Saturday, December 19, 2015

All They Needed Were Ribbons

This morning, my back yard looked like a scene from a Disney movie.
All that was missing were ribbons for the birds.
I counted 4 gray squirrels, 3 red squirrels, and
our resident black squirrel.

There were doves, cardinals, blue jays, and
what I lovingly refer to as "little yellow birds."
There were others that were so camouflaged I
could only see them when they moved.

Throughout the day we had a fox and a deer
join the mix.  The sun was shining and 
the sky was a brilliant blue.
It was cold and crisp and just what a late fall morning should be.

I stood at my kitchen window for the longest just watching.
I enjoyed my morning tea, until it eventually grew cold.
I need more of these days.
They make my truly enjoy my deep woods life.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

My First 5K!

My First 5k!

My Ode to Katie!
I have a wonderful friend who has been an encouragement and cheerleader to me since we became friends.  She's the reason I started running this summer.
She's the reason I'm still walking after Doc said "No running."
(Hope he doesn't see this and fuss at me...although my knees will tell the tale tomorrow...)

We had planned to do a half-marathon in November.
Plans have since changed, but not before I started training.
I found a couch to 21K training program and started August 31.
As of Thursday, I've logged 100 intentional miles on the track and my gravel road.
I walk between 3 and 5 miles every Tuesday and Thursday.
Saturdays I add a mile.  I started at 4.  Last week I did 9.
It varies distance with a rest week.  This week I was to do 6.  Next week 10.
Although our race place changed, my goal is to do 13 on Halloween.

Today was the Crossett vs. Hamburg Rivalry Run.
(See the Ashley County Rivalry Run Facebook page or for more details.)
Katie talked me into it.
Katie talked me into the tutu.
Katie caught up with me at the end because my pace took me off at the start with Lynn Parker.
Katie could have run it twice in the time it took me to walk it.
(Admittedly, my mile/minute ratio was off, but I still did pretty darn good.)
She caught up with me during the last block when Lynn and I started to jog.
We decided to stretch it out into a sprint....and here's picture proof!

It felt amazing...and my knees haven't complained yet.
We capped off the day with the award ceremony.
She won second in her age category.  I'm so proud of her.
She gave her trophy to me - because she's proud of me.
She wanted me to have it to commemorate my first 5K.
I will display it with pride and never forget sharing today with her.
And she's right, I kinda have the racing bug now.

I've promised to do the Mississippi  River Half with her in February.
I also promised the full monty of the Little Rock Marathon in March. 
She promises medals, t-shirts, and lots of swanky bling.
She's trying to talk me into the Warrior Dash.
I'm all for walking flat surfaces.  Not sure I can handle obstacles too.
But who knows.  I never thought I'd have done a 5K, much less 3x that last weekend.

Connie was with us all day too,
She cheered from the rodeo grounds with the cheerleaders.
She snapped the "finish line" pix.
She joined us for a grease & carb loaded celebratory breakfast at Huddle House afterwards.
Heck, she even drove!  I felt like a princess!
Next year, she's going to walk with me...I'm issuing the challenge.

It's great to have friends.
It's even better to have great friends who are in the trenches with you.
Thick and thin, good days and bad, lunch, coffee, and beyond, they are my go-to girls.
Katie and Connie - my life is so much more enriched with you two in it.
Melinda, next year you're coming too.  No more side-lining!
Love you guys to the moon and back!