Monday, June 28, 2010

Eat, Pray, Love: Review

It's been a while since I posted a book review. I've been sort of busy doing other things and not taking time for my #1 favourite activity. And to be honest, Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman's Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia is not a book you read. It's a book to be Savoured. Word by word and sentence by sentence. Like hand-turned Italian gelato. Like a morning meditation. Like the gathering dew on a Bali rice field.

View on Amazon
It took me 2 months to read Eat, Pray, Love on purpose, because I knew from the beginning that there was a wealth of life for me to find in it. A life of pleasure, and prayer, and passion. And a life of love, and balance, and growth. I rationed it. Alternated it with my own journey, with books of learning. With life.

I don't know if I've ever had so many favourite passages in a book. Or felt so much like an author was speaking not to but for me. I want to re-read it instantly. And towards the end I let go - I read late. I read early. I stayed in my pj's on Saturday and read some more.

It may not be that I can even recreate for you the beauty and humour and soul of Eat, Pray, Love. So I will just say please read this. Right now.

A couple quotes, since I have no words of my own
  • As David once put it, 'You have the opposite of poker face. You have like ... miniature golf face.' [see, sounds like no one more than me, right?
  • The Bhagavad Ghita - that ancient Indian Yogic text - says that it is better to live your own destiny imperfectly than to live an imitation of somebody else's life with perfection. So now I have started living my own life. Imperfect and clumsy as it may look, it is resembling me now, thoroughly.

Family Interrupted

It's a mixed-bag around here right now. And I came home and am watching a documentary called 'Boy Interrupted' about a family that lost their 15 year-old son to depressive Bipolar-related suicide. It's a beautiful film - never morose or over-wrought. The filmmakers are the boys parents, and they do a great job of sharing their pain and confusion and love and frustration.  

I'm achingly grateful that sometimes 15 year olds don't know how to end their lives. And horrified that some do. And wish I knew what to do to get people at least talking about teen mental health and suicide, because I'm so convinced that talking about it would make a difference.

As the Quran says, (Chapter 5, verse 32), "anyone who saves one life, it is as if he has saved the whole of mankind."

Sunday, June 27, 2010

I Just Haven't Met You Yet (or Have I?)

I took a little road trip today up to the 'Mo to see my parents & my bestest twin cousin & his lovely wife & kids. So that was awesome. What was also awesome was cranking my tunes, & roaring up and down Highway 1 with nothing but the Jade Dragon and my thoughts for company. It was a good drive. Though even after 4 months I still have a hard time driving through Duncan and not taking the right turn into Mill Bay. I've really been missing Cowboy the past 10 days or so. Now that the rest of life is falling into place, I've space to think of him, to reminisce about the great times we had together, and to contemplate again what worked, what didn't work, and what was missing from my side. The terms "baby" and "bathwater" occur to me a lot. So a lot of my drive I was busy looking backwards - no regrets, just questions.

Honestly, and I know some of you will be surprised to hear me admit this, I have been very lucky in love. I choose a wonderful father for my sons. I have had fantastic friends who became lovers, who became friends again. One of my go-to people for 12 years continues to teach me and stand for me and call me on shit and make me smile and giggle and blush. Some have chosen not to be friends, and that's their prerogative, but it sure doesn't diminsh my affection and respect. And hellz ya, I've dated jerks, and learned from them as well.

And while I'm choosing not to date right now, it's no reflection on any of them. Two of them I would consider totally workable, possible, 'maybe someday' options if they were willing and interested and if we grew in ways that make us more compatible instead of less.

So all of that was on my mind as I descended the Malahat this evening. Cruising, passing, lane-changing, reminscing. And then this song came on. And I thought - hey! When did I read Michael Buble my journals?

I'm Not Surprised
Not Everything Lasts
Have Broken My Heart So Many Times,
I Stopped Keepin Track.
Talk Myself In
I Talk Myself Out
I Get All Worked Up
Then I Let Myself Down.

I'm slightly embarrassed to realise how like me the words are. And also slightly relieved that I'm not the only one. I'm drumming on the steering wheel, tapping my foot, singing at the top of my lungs! What's that, Michael, you too have

I Tried So Very Hard Not To Lose It
I Came Up With A Million Excuse
I Thought I Thought Of Every Possibility

And I'm smiling. And laughing at myself. And dreaming. And I'm promising the promises from the bottom of my heart as Michael sings

And I Know Someday That It'll All Turn Out
You'll Make Me Work So We Can Work To Work It Out
And I Promise You Kid That I'll Give So Much More Than I Get
I Just Haven't Met You Yet

And suddenly I'm 100% focused forward - excited about the future that awaits me as of January 1, 2011. I don't know who you are, or who I'll be then, and maybe you are someone I've already met and didn't recognise because I was busy looking at me. But my gosh are we going to have fun working it out!

I Might Have To Wait
I'll Never Give Up
I Guess It's Half Time
And The Other Half's Luck
Wherever You Are
Whenever It's Right
You Come Out Of Nowhere And Into My Life

And I Know That We Can Be So Amazing
And Being In Your Life Is Gonna Change Me
And Now I Can See Every Single Possibility

Saturday, June 26, 2010


Somehow I forgot to post on Thursday. Guess I need a new reminder system - I don't think I've missed a Thursday in a long while.

Having a nice quiet Saturday at home and heading off-line and out of doors in a few minutes, but first let me introduce you to a blog I found just now (and have added to "Blogs I Read") - Big Girl Bombshell. She's sassy, brilliant, sparkly, fun, and (I'm guessing) well-rounded & has the best blog design ever and great content. :)

That's all for now; the beach calls.

I came back from the beach & wrote 800 words. And then I read them. And realised I've said it all before.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Deliciously Dull & Temporarily Chaste, or Fun with Homonyms

I promised the other day a deliciously dull update. In fact, I’ve never been so excited about having ‘nots’ in my life. Instead of feeling like these spaces are emptiness, all I see is freedom and choice and the ability to create what I REALLY want: Being Healthy, Wealthy & Wise.

So here are my THREE FREE’s for the rest of 2010:

Sugar Free
So far so good. It’s day three and my only symptom of withdrawl was actually because I wasn’t drinking coffee, which was an oversight, and not part of the overall Freedom plan. And, to be honest, my version of sugar-free and yours may be vastly different. I am eating as much fruit as I can – much more than I normally do. That’s because fruit has enough sugar to satisfy my cravings, but also a whole lot of other benefits I need that Dairy Milk bars – no matter which variety - simply don’t deliver. Fibre, vitamins, texture, flavour, fun. Dried fruit, fresh fruit, fruit smoothies. Yes, overall this likely doesn’t impact my blood sugars (which are just fine, thank you very much), but it does impact my overall feeling of health and vitality. And for a girl to go from 2-4 sugary snacks a day to fruit is a pretty big move. Especially when it just occurred to me, once the drama queen was adequately silenced on Friday night, that I don’t need sugar. I just don’t. All done. As my body uses up the sugar I've already over-loaded it with (something like a year's supply for a smaller nation, in the last 4 months) I'm sure I'll ease back on the fruit as well. But for now it's a good start. A balanced start. [committed sugar-free until July 18; will re-assess then]
Over-Draft Free
I have an overdraft on my chequing account. And it has been at least 10 years since I considered that over-draft anything other than ‘my money.’ Yes, I get charged both fees and interested when I use ‘my money’ to that extent, but it seems like my money none-the-less. Well, not anymore. For the first time ever, I’m excited about my budget. I’m excited about figuring out what it will take to replace the furniture I want to replace, how much I’ll have to save and by when to take myself to Paris, if there’s room for a family trip at Christmas. I have a fancy spreadsheet on my laptop that tracks actual spending v. Budgeted amounts and calculates both bar graphs and pie charts (I am such a sucker for colour coded charts!). And I have a simple, fun & always accessible app on my iPhone (based on the book & program Wealth Watchers that calculates my daily disposable income based on my fixed expenses, then tells me each day if I’m over or under that day’s allotment. Over time it averages, gives monthly totals, etc. And it too is colour coded (colour coding is clearly the secret to financial freedom). So really this promise is to track my spending every day and live to my budget; but I needed it to be 'free' and one benfit will definitely be losing the over-draft habit.

Man Free
Which, as we learned on Friday, goes hand-in-hand with my commitment to being drama free (or at least forcing the drama queen back into exile when she tries to regain her throne). And while I’d been toying with this idea, or resisting this idea, or wondering why on earth someone would want to do this since I ended my relationship with Cowboy in February, I made the decision over a week ago. And then I waffled. And then I thought that if I didn’t say anything to anyone I could just pretend I’d never made the promise to myself. And then I faltered and life got messy. And then I realised that the promises I make to myself are the ones that matter most. So, for the next 6 months and 9 days I am going to be dateless-by-choice & temporarily chaste. And no, those two things don’t necessarily go together (if you are a parent or son of mine, I’m sorry – this paragraph should have had a warning).

I have been discovering about myself and observing some behaviours I am not all that fond or proud of. And I don’t mean to sound like I’m judging myself, but, well, I haven’t yet learned how to respect myself and request the respect of others when all I want is for them to love me, to really really love me. Or how to show up as just me in a relationship instead of trying to gain information and evidence for who you would like me to be. Miss Lady suggested it long ago, but she's young - what does she know. And I could never quite get the idea out of my mind. And then last week while perusing the blog of a co-21.5.800-er I found a kindred spirit who'd been there, done that, an reaped the benefits

So for 6 months and 9 days I’m going to learn. Not through more trial and error, but through treating myself with respect and re-learning (maybe for the first time?) what I offer in a relationship. It’s already making a difference – last week I had dinner with a friend I’ve had a crush on for years, and instead of wondering what he was thinking ABOUT ME, and if I laughed too loudly or not enough, and if I’d made all the foods he likes, and ME ME ME ME ME I could just be with him and chat and laugh and get to know him as a person instead of wondering which trap is best to catch this particular prey. It’s oh so freeing not to have that in the space!
I thought of all these things choices while laying in my bed Friday. And then I slept through the night for the first time in months. I woke up Saturday full of energy and ready to focus on other people. And I spent the weekend mostly off-line and doing things I love. And I slept all night Saturday. And all night Sunday.

This low-drama life is something I could get used to. Who knows, if this keeps up I may even stop over-filling my schedule!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

a bloodless coup, or the high price of high drama

I was going to go to bed without writing tonight, and I was going to justify defaulting on my promise to write every day for the 21.5.800 challenge based on how sad and pathetic my life is and that nobody cares or wants to hear it. As my ex-brother-in-law used to say, should somebody call the Wah-mbulance? (Ya, I never really appreciated it then either).

This evening – indeed this whole week and beyond – I’ve been looking at how bankrupt my drama queen persona is, how little she serves me, and how completely repulsed I am by the cost of her domination. Sometimes I've fought her - I've been writing emails as her, then editing them as me. It's been a tiring game of mental chess, and once or twice I thought she might be winning - this has, after all, been a fairly intense month or so.

And then, it was over. Tonight someone made clear to me the cost of the drama. Someone I care about would rather not be in my life than continue to be subject to, and the target of, my upset. Part of my thinks ‘Lucky him, he has the choice to disconnect.’ But really, so do I.

And, why on earth would I choose not to? The drama queen does not think highly of who I really am. She’s a petty, vindictive tyrant who demands total allegiance and agreement from everyone she encounters. She doesn’t care for the facts, only for her interpretations of them. And she kills off anyone who disagrees.

The Drama Queen would have sat down this evening to lament her continually failing attempts to be loved. But I am not the Drama Queen. I am fun-loving, creative, powerful me - I’ve just been otherwise engaged for a while. Well, I'm back - and I've got the keyboard now, bitch.

Want to know what’s so with my life?
  • I woke up this morning and ate gluten-free crisped rice. They were lovely – crunchier than those cheapo barley-malt infused Rice Krispies y’all can eat. And my new fridge seems to be set extra cold, so the milk was both fresh and refreshing. 
  • I chatted with my sleepy-eyed son about his plans for the day and what I could do to support him. I made some phone calls for him, because he let me.
  • I drove out to lovely lovely Sidney by the Sea and met with one of my favourite people, who is determined that our partnership will bring up both abundance and joy in our chosen forms of self-expression. He bought me a succulent salad for lunch and showed me a lovely home design store that’s marketing some of his products. (Yes, that is three 'lovely's in one bullet - I can  handle it if you can) 
  • I popped by my new office to get my photograph taken for my work ID, and took a picture of the stunning heritage building I’ll be working in (it's down below - isn't it perfect!)
  • I had a coaching call with an amazing, powerful someone who was so moved by what I’m creating in my life she actually got choked up.
  • I hung out with Miss Sunshine as we packed her kitchen and drank a little and she shared with me all her hopes and dreams and fears and joy and frustration about moving to her new island home with her very sweet sweetie Big Mac.
  • I came home and read an email I was both dreading and expecting.
  • And I watched some TV and read a little, and now I'm writing this.
If the Drama Queen were writing this, it’d be twice as long and all you’d know about is the email and how truly tragic life is. Sure, someone wants some space. But you wouldn’t hear it like that – you’d hear how wronged she’s been.

That I can write this, sitting in my bed, smiling, and excited to see Miss Sunshine & Big Mac’s new house tomorrow tells me one really wonderful thing. The Queen is dead. Long may she rest.

So, now I’ve written. And I’ve publicly declared the end to the reign of the Drama Queen. And although I haven’t yet reached my 800 word goal, I’m going to sleep with a smile on my face, knowing that I might just have grown up a little today. And I liked it.

Oh, and just WAIT until you hear what I’m taking on next ... things are about to get deliciously dull around here!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

TI♥T: A Story

One of my very favouritest discoveries of recent times is the amazing Erika Napoletano, a.k.a Redhead Writing. I found Erika on Twitter thanks to one of those random retweet/comment/replay melanges that can only happen on Twitter, and have followed her writing hither and yon since then. In a word, I think Erika is BRILLIANT. She is straight shooting, snarky, hilarious, at times poignant, always a pro and says so many of the things that some of us blush to think.

Today on her blog Erika posted a photo prompt and a challenge to write a story, with a promise that she will also tell her own story etc ... you can find out more & see the image that launched a thousand (well, we'll see) stories here:

And so, for Thing I Love Thursday, I give you a short short story. Inspired by the photo, and by the promise of Erika telling all, or at least a little something. And I'll just say this before I begin - there is something that happens in me when I sit to write a story - to express my reality in imaginary ways - that is absolutely exquisite and delicate and unstoppable. It's a feeling unlike any other that simultaneously fulfills and purges me. Much of my blogging is the other kind of writing - self-obsessed, personal, suited better for personal catharsis than public consumption. This other writing is what I mean when I tell you I'm a writer.

I'm a writer. And I wrote this:

I had sent him all my words, an advance party to prepare the way. Email warning shots. And text message tattoos. I had sent word bomb after word bomb, and driven through the night. I had stopped at the side of the road, rested my weary eyes and eased my weary body as best I could. I had telecommunicated all he should be prepared to see, and to witness, and to communicate in return. And I had ignored the known fact that his receptors had never really been keenly tuned, even when he had pretended to want to hear.

I had ignored the warnings of the frosted trees, the sliding roads, the silent hills. My brown eyes were such flawed scopes of this reality, were so incapable of measuring the distance in any real terms. The shushing tires were accurate, the yearning was not. I had forgotten the un-crossable miles between my soft lips and his bunkered ears - the no-go-zones so extensive, the mine fields so copiously seeded.

And now here I sat. Nail scrapes clearing my vision only slightly. Raising just enough fog to see what he had never had the ability or the willingness or the courage to say. Scales in front of my eyes falling away to reveal only a man-shaped hole where love and hope used to be. He didn’t move. And neither did I. We just sat, and stared until the openings I had create frosted over, and he was finally gone.  

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Savasana, or I’m not just laying here on the floor, really

So it’s week 2 of Bindu Wiles 21.5.800 challenge and I’m having some unexpected results. I had intended to go to Bikram Yoga 4 times/week and do savasana at home once per week, and so far the opposite has been true. I planned to wake up at 7 am every day and write for an hour before beginning whatever else there was to do, and so far that’s happened twice. And I was very very sure that one way or another I would definitely write 800 words of ‘real’ writing (which to me means creative and expressive writing I wouldn’t be called on to write in an ordinary day) and so far I’ve missed 3 days (or, said another way, I’ve completed 5 days).

I’m surprised and somewhat delighted by my pull to lay in savasana. To spend 30 minutes on nothingness is an exquisite luxury – moreso, it feels, than spending 90 minutes + in yoga class. Inside of a Bikram yoga class savasana seems like just a nice break that makes moving into the next pose bearable. But an extended savasana taken on as a form of meditation is an undertaking of a whole different sort.

You may have noticed that I am not someone who sits still a lot. I have a rather busy life. In fact, dear Freckles wrote me a very loving big-sisterly note today that suggested, among other loving big-sisterly things

I wish you’d give yourself a break. I’m really just realizing now, having read your blogs lately, just how much you search out acceptance and approval. I’m sorry for whatever brought that on – it must be terribly hard, especially since I think your standards are set WAY higher than necessary and certainly higher than anyone else would expect/hope of you ... That constant striving and constant need for acknowledgement must be so hard on you and the men you are with ... You don’t need to be perfect at everything – it is impossible and will only exhaust and deplete who you are. What I mean to say is, I love you, I think you are great – especially the real you that hides inside. Seriously, quit filling your life with busy and start relaxing and enjoying it.
The girl knows whereof she speaks (and, I've never been one to defy my big sisters), so I'm looking into it. I think my body has known I need to slow down as well. Certainly Cowboy begged it of me over and over. And so itis with a clanging chorus of at least imagine approval that a roll out on the floor.

I so enjoy laying in savasana. I’m now up to 30 minutes a day of stillness. And that is remarkable for me. I will admit, however, that my mind is nowhere near still in that time. Today, for example, it kept thinking clever things to say in this blog post. I can’t remember most of them now, mind you, but they were there, and they were clever.

So my mind doesn’t stop entirely (and really, given how much of our body requires some automatic brain function, that’s probably a good thing) but it does slow down enough to allow some quieter, neglected bits to surface. Bits like clarity on friendships that are working and those that aren’t. And how the shushing of the tires on the road outside my open patio door sound so much like encouragement to return to stillness. Ideas of what to take on next in life (STOP IT!). And focusing moment by moment on my breathing, the inhale, the pause, the exhale, the return pause. I begin to notice when my breath and heartbeat race in reply to some thought. And when they slow in response to un-thought. I feel the weight of my arms, the automatic curl of my fingers, the heaviness (in a solid, reassuring way, not in a ‘Craptastic cankles, Batman!’ way) of my legs. The softness of my belly rising and falling, and the faint resilient ember inside it where stuckness has tried to quench a flame.

Today my head hurt – not like a headache, but my actual scalp. I thought perhaps I was not fully on my mat, but it turned out to be only a mislaid curl pushing on one spot for too long. And for some reason my lower-back begins to ache after about 20 minutes, and I wonder if it’s a true ache or some resistance to being still. So I lie there, and remember to un-think. And wait for the timer to indicate I’m done. Today I forgot to set the timer – it turned out I’d turned some other oven knob – and so when I despaired of it ever going off it turned out I’d been on the floor 35 minutes. So yay me, even if I was interrupted by a nagging, errant curl.

Anyone walking in and seeing me, still in my workdress (the pretty, comfy t-shirt material one that looks so great and feels like a nightgown), laying perfectly still on the floor might wonder if I’d lost my marbles. And I might just have to smile in response and say yes, but I think I’ve found them now.

A few words from someone else for a change.

"Look not mournfully into the past. It comes not back again. Wisely improve the present. It is thine. Go forth to meet the shadowy future, without fear." H.W. Longfellow

Monday, June 14, 2010

A triptich, a triad, a trinity. Just me.

Part 1: Freedom cry

Today I am craving freedom. Real freedom. Total freedom. I sometimes don't even know if I know what that means. When I say freedom people seem to hear anarchy, or irresponsibility, or being consequence free. And I don't mean that. What I actually mean is freedom from the endless screaming voices. From the striving. From the wondering if I'll ever be enough or do enough. Freedom from caring whether you approve or not, and freedom from knowing that I don't approve. Freedom to grow and to try and to fail and to choose again and to fail again and to keep on going. And the freedom from the opinions - the endless bloody opinions - my opinions or yours or wherever they come from. What I really want is freedom to be me, and to grow and to learn. Whether you want that for me or not. And by you, I mostly mean me.

There's more to come ... I just needed to get that out of my head so I could breathe.

Part 2: Purging

I clean. I sort. I drive to the thrift store depot to send what I no longer need to someone who does. I delete 12,000 (!) emails. I throw away 10 years worth of journals. I lather rinse and repeat. I do yoga. I write. I wander the beach, secreting beach glass in my pockets to remind me later how beautifying the process of refinement can be no matter how harsh it seems at the time. I smile, though the smile does not always reach my eyes. I promise, and wonder if I can fulfill the promise. I meet, and nod and bite my tongue and head home early.

And then I rage into the wind.

And I begin again – cleaning, sorting, simplifying, streamlining, setting free the space and the stuff and myself. I question and clarify. I look in corners I’ve neglected. I re-purpose and re-frame and re-organise and reflect and recommit.

And still it’s there. I cannot wash it away. No amount of flooding sunlight – no expanse of ceramic tile floor – no open room to twirl to my own rhythm can get rid of it. That doubt. That questioning. That mental misfire that turns excitement to fear and back again.

I lay on the floor in savasana, willing my tumultuous mind to quiet with the repetition Hahm-sa - ‘I am That’ – the ancient Sanskrit so close to what the Lord says ‘I am the Great I am.’ Reminding me I’m made in God’s image. But I don’t feel Great. I just am. Yet my mind settles like a child at the beginning of her first live play. She will not stay this still for long, but for the moment, Hahm-sa.

My bunny checks on me. Sniffs my ear. Hops onto my belly. Reminds me I am alive even in the corpse pose. He wonders why this person who normally moves so much is so still for so long, then goes on his way. And I stay. Hahm-sa.

It doesn’t last long. Thirty minutes in snippets and fits and starts. Sometimes my mind and heart and breath race before I notice and begin again. Hahm-sa.

I am that. Imperfect. Flawed. Questioning. Growing. Beautiful. Creative. Loving. Hurting. Keeping on. Undeserving. Forgiven. Learning to be gentle with myself. Broken. Healing.


Part 3: Deep Breathing

I’ve had time to think and diffuse the last hour. Washing dishes can do that for me. It can calm my soul and give me time to exhale. And I’ve realised that my drive to publish every thought – to obsessively update my facebook status, or tweet, or post to my blog – is a remnant of a conversation that no longer serves me. I believe I am alone here, and yelling into the ether to be heard, to be recognised, and ultimately to be acknowledged in some form. My insatiable ego craves attention, and then rejects it when it’s received.

I’ve spent a lot of time the last two weeks questioning the near-consuming drive in me to have a man convince me that I’m desirable. And I can see now that that subset of behaviour is part of a larger pattern – an infinite mandala of approval-seeking. I need a second opinion when I buy new clothes, or for my girlfriends to perform a happy dance when I achieve a goal. I seek awards and accolades and promotions and prizes, and am crushed when I appear to be ordinary, an also-ran.

I am often drawn to the image of the willow – deeply rooted yet flexible. Giving to the motion of life without bending and breaking. And I wonder, what would it be like if I were to truly know? To know that I can make right choices, and am strong enough and brave enough and smart enough and loving enough and capable enough to stand strong while the winds howl around me. If I have faith in my own ability to choose, then the rest is just chatter. The crows outside my office have as much impact as the disapproving sighs and glances or – worst yet – the silence of those I care about.

So colour me verdant green and watch me dance in the wind of life. I am a willow, and this is me breathing again.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

This is not what I came here to write ...

... but I haven't any idea what I did sit down to tell you.

Just time/space for a micro-blog today. In fact, I didn’t ‘get-around to’ writing or doing yoga yesterday after posting on Thursday that I love doing what I say I’m going to do. In fact, I love the results of doing what I say I’m going to do more than the actual doing. Oh yes, I can justify it by saying that I wrote twice on Thursday – once developing an article and again on my blog post. Or I can attone for it by writing 1600 words today. But, really, my commitment isn’t to produce 16800 words in 21 days but to write daily in order to develop the things that daily writing provides – time management, keeping focused on those things I’m committed to, and exercising my mental and creative muscles by using them daily.

So I missed a day of the 21.5.800 challenge. I think it would also work for me to do yoga/savasana daily – perhaps I’ll remember to write if I remember to rest/stretch/focus?

I am, so far, enjoying the variety of writing that I’ve been taking on. Blog posts, yes, but also a partial magazine article, and a themed journal tracking my process in a year-long project. Fun stuff. And variety really makes coming up with the target word count a lot easier. If I was just blogging 800 words a day, I’m pretty sure nobody would be reading it after a week. Besides, I’m wondering what there is to do to make my blog less about my internal machinations and more about life and the wonder it contains. It’s so self-indulgent most of the time, and I know that’s not necessarily what I enjoy in the blogs I read regularly.

I’ll continue to think about it. Knowing me though, I wouldn’t expect a sudden shift anytime soon.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

TI♥T: Because I Said I Would

I feel like I shouldn't have to post a Things I Love Thursday post this week. I'm writing every day as part of the 21.5.800 challenge, and already wrote my 800 + words this morning (offline - working on a travel article). I'm blogging more regularly. And, yesterday's post was all about the two people I love most in the world. So really, haven't I already sort of kind of done this?

Only here's the thing I know: my life is better when I do what I say I'm going to do. It's just that simple. I am someone who blows things off - even things I really like. Choir? I'll go next week. Lunch with a girlfriend? She'll understand if I'm busy. Quiet time for myself? Well, that's just plain silly and selfish. Yoga? Now why would I want to do something that takes care of my body & mind? A friend's party? No one will notice if I don't show. Calling my bestie? She'll still be there next week. All of these things matter to me, that contribute to my overall well-being, and that I enjoy. but all of them are things I routinely fail to make happen. Eating healthy food? Well that seems like a whole lot of work.

And, I know that when I do what I said I'd do - even if I only made the promise to myself, the reward is always even greater than I anticipate. So this week's Thing I Love is a simple one: I love doing what I said. Just because I said so.

See you at yoga tomorrow ... oh, yes I will. :)

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

853 Words to say "I Love You"

I just read Tia's eloquent post of motherhood and the end of babyhood in her life (Tia is a co-21.5.800 challenge participant). Read her grace-filled blog. Her post is full of the longing and poignancy and celebration and hurt that being a mother often entails. And I realised that I seldom if ever post about my sons.

I talk about them to the point that some people – mostly people who don’t have children - sometimes want me to talk about something else. But in the online world, you could read my blog, or follow me on twitter, or even friend me on facebook and go long periods of time without knowing about my sons or how very very much they mean to me.

In part that is because of my respect for their privacy. And because more than anything my drive in life is to protect them. They are not my babies anymore. I cannot take cute pictures of their tiny little toes (BB1 wears a size 13 shoe) and post them with bliss-filled rhapsodies of their adorable-ness. Though I do still find them mesmerizing. Nothing fills me up like hearing one or the other or - in the most miraculous moments of heaven - both of them laugh. BB1 laughs like me, varying between loud guffaws and silent shaking. BB2s laugh is softer, more tentative, internal, secret.

We are at a crucial, delicate, and sometimes poorly handled stage. I am becoming an empty-nester, through fluctuatingly mutual accord. BB1 has been gone, aside from weekly dinners, for 10 days now. Working and living and getting by in the manner that only 3 twenty-year old friends can do. BB2 isn’t far behind – working out the details for his own bachelor pad with friends in the next couple weeks. It’s been a process. Still is. Imperfect, and necessary.

And so, inspired by Tia, this post is for them. For my beautiful boys. You are welcome to read it – they likely won’t, and someone should know that I mean it:

My Boys,

As I was packing for the move, I came across your notes. Your drawings. Your poems and songs. I remember your sweet voices singing them to me. I remember your wee chubby hands handing them to me with love. I remember that there were good times, though sometimes we see the other times more clearly.

I remember when you knew, BB1, that if you signed a poem with “Love to mommy from your sweetie” that I would always always knew who it was from. Always. Do you know that you’re still my sweetie? That no matter where you live, you’ll always have a home - you’ll always have someone who wants to hear your voice and to know that you’re safe and happy. To hear you laugh. Do you know that when you text I save it? That I miss your smile and your hugs and am so incredibly proud of you and D going out and creating a way to take care of yourselves in a crap job market. You have amazing friends because you are an amazing man - loyal and brave and funny and compassionate and with the strongest sense of justice I’ve ever witnessed. I know that things haven’t always been easy or fair. That there were times you wanted to yell or fight back or rage at me for mistakes I’ve made. Thank you for your gentleness with me.

And BB2. My creative, imaginative, sure-handed man-child – builder of cities made of lego, of DVD cases, of books, of stone. One day we will see the roots of your empire in those plastic realms. Your deep deep eyes hide so many great plans and ideas. And so much hurt. I would give an Irish-German kingdom to know what goes on behind those beautiful eyes. You are so cherished. You have so much to offer. Your intelligence, aspirations, ability and insight create entire worlds of wonder. If I could wave a wizard’s wand and have you fulfill on all of that I would. Except that would rob you of the learning and reward of creating it for yourself. My proudest moments are when someone finds a way to get you sharing about the things you are passionate about, like when you sat with Great-Grandma and the two of you discussed European history for what seemed like hours. I couldn’t contribute much to the conversation, and I didn’t want to – it was enough to sit and watch the two of you in your element. I know you’re scared right now and somewhat bewildered. I know you’ll deny that’s the case. I fought for you when I carried you. I fought for you when you were a sick newborn. I fought for you at 12 and at 15 and at each and every step before and between and since. I will never stop fighting for you. And I know that when you’re ready you’ll accept all the love and support that’s right here waiting for you.

There are so many things a mother can look back on with regret - so many wishes and hopes and mis-steps. I look at you both, and I see the amazing men you are. And I know that whatever I did wrong, you took it and made it right. And that this isn’t the end, it’s just another step. And, most of all, I love you. Both. Always. Completely.

XO Mom

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

What 800 Words Look Like on a Tuesday Morning

I’m here to start a yoga/writing challenge. Twenty-one days of writing 800 words/day. I have lots of ideas, lots of nervousness, some doubt as to my ability to make writing/yoga a part of a routine that already feel too full, and a readiness to breakthrough in doing those things that really matter to me and what I’m up to – my health is becoming a critical matter for the first time in my life. And I need to write – to express myself – to use my gift with words to be heard and to make a difference with others.
Some of the ideas that I’ve come up with so far (note to self: come back to this list when you’re stuck) include:  
  • Love letters to each of the men I’m incomplete with, or who have gone unacknowledged, or even who I’ve just never sent a love letter to after our relationship completed. Or maybe a letter creating for myself who they are and what I’m grateful to them for. And by doing this creating myself as a soul mate in the making, since that’s another area where I see certain things for me to distinguish, complete, and get out of the way of any future relationship.
  • The Travel BC article I started last year – adding to it, creating other travelogues, creating for myself who I am as a traveller and a writer. I’ve been places and done things and those have truly influenced who I am ... why not have a record of it?
  • Becoming: A Novel Always Becoming. I don’t really know where to start there, but I’m going forward with the ‘hope’ that that will change ... that some structure or story arc or vignettes will present themselves. I clearly don’t know how to write a novel, but I’m going to keep going.
  • My Adventures in Empty Nesting journal – right now those entries exist in an a journal, which makes it harder to confirm that I’ve written the requisite 800 words, but I love the feeling of curling into my bed at the end of the day, opening a beautiful notebook bought especially for this purpose, and reflecting on one theme – creating my space to be – in the comfy, coxy retreat that is my down duvet and fluffy pillows. I think what I’ll do is look at how many words I’ve been writing on average so far, and allow for that in how much I write in the mornings, since it’s what I do as I’m turning out the lights and don’t want to go to sleep wondering if I’ve completed what I’ve committed to: 800 words/day.
  • Shan’s Smiles & Winks - I’m not sure how much of my blog I’ll consider a part of this process. On the one hand, why would I make things harder than they have to be? Why not include those words that I write anyway and put out there. Besides, the beauty of posting my challenge writing to my blog is that my 21.5.800 community (and everyone else) can then respond to it. If it’s all just on the computer/in a journal I’m not engaging in the community aspect of the challenge. Doing it on my own is a way of being that I want to give up, and engaging in the community – learning from, growing with, contributing to – is something I’m committed to.
Well, I can see that one thing I predicted is already occurring as true. I know that it’s true that I can sit down and write an easy 500 words in about 20 minutes. For me it seems like 500 words expresses a complete thought from beginning to end, and then there is the challenge ... the gap between an easy 500 words and a commitment to at least 800 words. Sure, I could come back later today and try to come up with another 145 words (this makes 660 total), but then it will be there hanging over me all day – that thing you started the day with is incomplete. Go back. Keep going. You shouldn’t have quit so easily (quitting being something I tell myself I do).

Besides which, I have a pretty jam-packed schedule, and that I have carved out an hour to write each morning suggests to me that I should bloody well sit here and write until I’m done. And, if some mornings I can’t squeeze out 800 words in the morning writing session, we’ll cross that bridge then. Maybe re-read The Right to Write or Writing Down the Bones (you can find them in my Amazon list on the left). I do promise though, for myself and the 21.5.800 community, and those people who regularly read my blog, that my next 21 days of posting won’t all be on the theme of the challenge. I’m looking at topics (as you might have been able to tell from the ideas list above) such as
  • Love, love lost, loving myself, and creating myself as a soul mate rather than looking for someone to be that for me
  • Travel, were I’ve been, what I’ve learned, where I’m going next
  • Writing, learning about writing, resources for writers, reading great writing, reading about writing
  • Yoga, health, nutrition, and what the heck I’m learning/doing about it all
I have another plan for my Empty Nesting journal, so you won’t likely see much of that right now, but it is in process and will ultimately get out there.
And that, my friends, is how you push through the automatic 500+ word slow down and ride on through to 930+ words. Not bad for a first day.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Anticipation builds - 21.5.800

Some of the greatest moments in life are great in their anticipatory states. As I inch towards them, these magical moments, wondering, curious, and tentative, sometimes it's almost the case that I don't want to reach the destination the journey is so delicious. Reading a perfect book is like that. Or a first kiss with someone new - I imagine it. I dream about it. Our eyes meet, and I blush and look away and wonder and urge on and pull back from the moment. My heart pounds & my palms tingle. And then it's there - his lips are on mine. With all it's reality - sometimes better - sometimes not - than the anticipation. There will be another first kiss with that person, and the anticipation is all too often the magic.

I feel like that about ... oh pretty much my whole life right now. I've taken on so many big and small and medium size changes lately I hardly recognize myself. Sometimes I think I just need to sit on my couch for a while and let it all catch up. And then,I think - no, all that stopping does is allow sludge to creep back into the few square inches of clear space I've created. And so I keep going. Only I keep going with the stuff that doesn't matter so much - the dinner dishes, sweeping the floors repeatedly (I'd forgotten how much hair and dust and dirt and cat litter carpet hides), twittering - and not at all on the things that do. My health. Time with people I love. A peaceful, creative mind.

And so, I'm HUGELY anticipating, with the whole kaleidoscope of attendant swirling thoughts and emotions - the beginning tomorrow of 21.5.800. It will have me back in the yoga studio after a 6 month hiatus. It will have me writing for real. My 800 word daily quota is what I write for me - my novel, my blog, my journal. What I write for work/business will not count. Because work/business writing is always there, but it's not what feeds my soul. I think what makes me most nervous is having a structure that will call me to really do the things I keep saying I'm going to do - write. And care for my body. It really needs me right now. It's time.
I'm nervous. And excited. Full of all the magic and fear of anticipation. Will I follow through? Will I learn and grow? Will the community (currently 200 strong) accept me as I am and support me in getting where I want to be? Tomorrow will tell. And 20 more tomorrows after that.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

TI♥T: A Challenge

So I just did something that has my stomach in more than one knot - I signed up for a 21 day writing & yoga challenge. I've wanted to do a writing challenge for a while, and the combination with yoga really interested & excited me. The challenge is to write 800 words/day for 21 days, and to practice yoga (class, home video, or 20-40 min. savasana) 5 times/week in those 21 days. 16800 words. 15 yoga sessions. Unknown results.

One of the things that will make a real difference in keeping me going in the challenge, I think, is that there are other people all over also doing the challenge, blogging about it, tweeting about it, checking in, encouraging, supporting. And if there's one thing I know, it's that community makes all the difference.

I ♥ Writing
I ♥ Yoga
I ♥ Community

I'm excited about 21.5.800

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

A girl with a curl, right in the middle of my forehead.

It's been quite the month or so. Lots of ups and downs. Lots of learning and growing. And more than a couple mis-steps. And as I've been going through all this, I've been accompanied, or not, by various people along the way. Some have weathered the tears and fears and upset. Others not so much.

More than once I've had an old old story SCREAMING in my head "I'm going to f*ck up, and people are going to take their love away." For me it's not even a story - it's the way life really is. If I REALLY love and need and count on someone, I better be extra careful not to do anything that will upset them, or they'll be gone in a shot.

And then sometimes the other voice, the more fun one sings the Mae West version of this little Longfellow peom in my head:
When she was good,
She was very good indeed,
But when she was bad she was even better. ;-)
I'm human. I have good and bad and indifferent parts. I have patterns and habits that work for me, and some that really don't. I love and share and care for people. And then I yell and push and run away. Most of the time I'm doing my best. And when I'm not I usually let you know I'll be back soon.

As another blonde bombshell said,
"I'm selfish, impatient and a little insecure. I make mistakes, I am out of control and at times hard to handle. But if you can't handle me at my worst, then you sure as hell don't deserve me at my best." Marilyn Monroe.
Clearly we blonde bombshells needs to stick together. :)
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