You become…

QUESTION: How do we know when a new practice has become a full-fledged habit? I say it’s when our access to said habit is rudely cut off and we find ourselves in a near-depressive state over it. Circumstances of various sorts, most of them entirely beyond my control, conspired to keep me off the streets this week for a 4-day stretch that by Day Three had me in a minor meltdown. Since December 22nd of last year my two best friends, after #1 Kimmers, have been #2 walking, and #3 icing. Just let me get out there and walk it off, keep the ice packs in rotation, and all’s well. I didn’t mean to give my aging body an 8-year hiatus, but I’m kind of proud of how it’s been willing to pick up the pace again, now that it can, and this is no time to back off. I’m finding that my once overactive conscience operates on a standby basis these days because I don’t give it much to do. Once that morning stroll around town is in the bag the day is mine to live out, which feels sweetly Zen. And the best part is that the time spent outside in this green green city feels like the most powerful health elixir I could find. It’s good… in the face of all the things… to be able to say “It’s all good.”

***

***

***

Remember that you are all you really have, which is entirely more than sufficient, so treat yourself with respect and don’t miss the good stuff along the way.

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It’s Friday…

Kim woke me up at 6:15 with the words “I brought you a bagel,” and the weekend was on… it’s a random surprise I love every time it happens. Oddly, however, for the first morning since I started walking the sidewalks and byways of Larryville, my brain said no. Wasn’t sure I was hearing right, so I gave it time and asked again. Still no. The body’s drug its feet a few times, but today it was my head saying nope, not going, let’s do something else just for shits & giggles.

So I put a load of towels in the washing machine, made the bed, broke down a small stack of boxes growing roots on the bedroom couch, sent all the detritus to its proper destinations, and even ventured into Kim’s kitchen space long enough to “tidy oop” a little. And I’ve formulated a secret plan for this afternoon, rain or not, so nothing lost and much gained… I can feel my anxiety nodding off as we speak. And now it’s pouring rain and flashing lightning, so my much-maligned brain and the barometric pressure are clearly in sync and working on my behalf.

Rain is part of the forecast off and on all day and we’re here for it. And after this front moves through tomorrow, we’ll see Howard Mahan at the winery, with sister Rita, lovely cheese and the whole nine yards. Gotta appreciate when a stress-free plan comes together…

More than a year in, I’m still reading the daily news rather than watching it, and this week has mos def been one ‘a THOSE. So in an effort to place focus elsewhere for a hot minute, I’ve saved a few things with you in mind…

***

Workin’ on it…

***

DISCLAIMER: You’re not actually required to get high.

***

Kim always says he’s shallow, but he nailed this one from the starting line.

***

Friday’s here. Brighten the corner where you are, and have a terrific weekend…

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Pre-fall melancholy, but it’s okay…

Yesterday, Kim and I said in unison “It feels like fall,” and this morning we’re still in that mode. It was in the low 60s when I walked this morning, no breeze, sunny… and I was glad for my long-sleeved shirt. There are already dry leaves to scuff through here and there… how quickly that happens! This afternoon I’ll walk downtown for a haircut and feel just virtuous as all get-out… two walks in one day, omigod, can she DO that? This is likely why energy is rationed after a certain age… we get all scrappy about it and tend to overuse the privilege.

Yesterday too, I learned of the death of someone I knew in another lifetime… a classmate through grade and high school, a truly nice guy. In the ensuing years, there have been few reasons or opportunities for contact, so nearly all the connections have faded except for this: he was the first boy ever to kiss me. Fifth grade. And now at 75 he’s gone, one of several from my graduating class of fourteen. (I don’t mean 1914, thx, I can read your mind!)

I can’t recall the last funeral I went to, no idea whose it was. During the years I looked after my dad, I carted him to service after service as his contemporaries left for parts unknown, until he and I had each absorbed an astounding surplus of words without remembering a single one. Kim and John know I don’t want a funeral… and I’m not sure I can even sit through another one in my lifetime. Say it NOW, everybody, ALL of us. NOW is what we have, ALL we have, as far as we know. Anything said or done after we assume room temperature is wasted. Relationships, however, are not a waste… all respect to the past and the people we’ve known. Each one plays a part.

In every segment of life, we need a tribe, but also to remain secure within ourselves when we feel cut adrift and tribe-less. It’s a process every time, with parts excised and others adopted and owned. After you follow the bread crumbs down the path enough times it starts to feel less scary and more challenging, by which I mean exciting. Interesting, at the very least.

***

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Yes, Diary, me again…

Don’t know what’s up with Ms Muse these days but she will not stop with the subtle impulse to “write it down.” And as I verbalize that, I know it’s because I’m on the downhill slide to a finish line of sorts, set on fully owning myself before 75. Almost there, and mulling every year of it, just to be all milestone-y, although it would be fun to match my grandmothers’ records and stick around past 95 with my head still on straight. Seventy-five is no kind ‘a stopping place!

Kim and I celebrated our 18th wedding anniversary last month, and on nearly every Sunday morning of those years he’s made me a ranch bean omelet to die for. I’m still here though, having just consumed yet another exquisite offering that made my taste buds cry for happiness. On Saturdays it’s fried eggs and Kim Smith hashbrowns, on Sundays it’s the omelets… hundreds of each by now and never a chance of getting tired and jaded because it’s new all the time. He’s a trained institutional cook with a gift for making a meal for two taste like heaven, and I’ve really only bragged on breakfast. Everything he makes gets constantly upgraded as he goes along, so yeah, I’m a lucky girl and I have to stop talking about him now or he won’t want this going public. Let me just remind you, though, that he came to me precisely the way I ordered him: “I’m not getting married again, but if I did, he’d have to be younger than me and love to cook.” Be careful, little mouth, what you say, your heart just might know what you want.

When the world starts taking pieces of you from little on up, it becomes the seemingly small things that keep life worth doing. Beautiful walks, music that says what we can’t, people who love us enough to care for us, the grace to wake up and be us again for another day, year, decade, or more…

As an inveterate Pollyanna, I’m glad there are people who keep promises, who do everything in their power not to disappoint or hurt us, who are fully present. I think that’s what my invisible friend had in mind this morning… paying homage to the people who make life good. They don’t have to, it’s just who they are.

***

**No one, including me, sees your name when you click a star rating, but it does make my day, so thx.

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In the land of the blind the one-eyed man is king…

Quick diary entry on a perfect Saturday morning in August…

The Farmers’ Market sets up a half-block south of us every Saturday from April into November and it’s a delightful place to spend part of a morning, with food and music and everything else you might shake a stick at. When we first moved here in 2013 we trekked through the alley most Saturdays to see what was spread out for sale, but soon it was just Kim who went… too much walking for me. This morning I included Lawrence Farmers’ Market in my random strolling and it felt good to get back. It was still cool out at 8am and the mounds of fresh fruits and vegetables looked like jewelry in the sun’s rays. A couple of gentlemen were playing zydeco, there was a young man coaxing music from an outsized accordion, and other small entertainments here and there, some planned, some not.

I walked the whole lot, checked out all the tents, bought a fat red tomato, and was headed home when I noticed a man holding a cardboard sign that said I NEED YOUR HELP. He was standing next to the street, at one of the exit points of the market, and looked bereft, to say the least. I stepped behind a trailer, found the loose bills in the bottom of my shopping bag, which amounted to only three, and turned back toward the exit, following a young couple and their two kids to the sidewalk. The man with the sign said good morning to them, a hopeful smile on his face, but they didn’t acknowledge that he was there. I was next in line with my scraped-together offering and I held his gaze as I said “Good morning. This is all I have on me right now, but I hope you’ll have a good day.” We both teared up a little as he responded “Thank you so much. God bless you, you too,” never taking his eyes off mine.

I know life is real shit a lot of the time and we can’t help burrowing into what we’re truly required to deal with, but how awful if we make people feel invisible in that process. Peter, an apostle in the Bible, said to a beggar “I have no silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk.” In place of money he offered the man healing. When we SEE someone, we recognize their value as humans, and thereby extend healing… all the better if we happen to be carrying cash to back it up. If there was a Jesus it’s what he would do.

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Morning check-in…

Necessary diary entry this morning after realizing a longterm goal: To get up one fine morning and stroll to Einstein’s for a bagel and coffee outside. This was that morning and it did not disappoint. I simply put on real clothes, slid my iPad into its sleeve, and went there. Zero breeze, 70º and sunny, a few other early-risers to share the morning with. I love the old-guy walking cadres, whose members seem sheepishly happy to be seen doing something athletic and aren’t stingy with the smiles, which is cool. A couple at a sidewalk table nearby, he Black, she maybe trans, with possibly all their belongings in the pack next to them, clearly an intrinsic part of the Mass Street neighborhood, were enjoying the morning with me as they greeted all the street workers and vendors, making me part of the scene with their “How ya’ doin’? Havin’ a good day? You be safe now.”

Taking my time on the walk home I could see myself in the plate-glass windows, and it struck me that although I usually feel no more than 21 on the inside, I’ve somehow survived to become a silver-haired 75-year-old human less than a month from now. By all reckonings in our society I’m an old woman, good for not much at all, taking up space, using resources. That’s okay, stand back, I’m not done yet, apologies for any damage wrought heretofore. Looks like a hot weekend, then we’re back into a nice 80s groove, so be forewarned… I’ll be out there on my feet somewhere.

Sooooo…

***

Fairly certain I was a cat in a former life.

***

We’ve all made it to Friday, which is entirely worth celebrating. Be very good to yourself this weekend, and do something to make somebody else smile, too… the reward is so sweet. I know a lot of people are too cool or too shy or too distracted to interact, but I got smiles from high school kids this morning just by being there. I wear this silver crop like a badge because it opens doors for me… get out there and use what ya’ got, like me and the guys in the walking clubs. We’re still here, we have to do SOMETHING.

Enjoy a sweet weekend, and remember the school kids and teachers…

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Watering flowers…

Welp, sorry friends, you signed on so you’re destined to be exposed to my Diary Thoughts on a regular basis, because if I don’t blog it, it didn’t happen.

This morning was a milestone of sorts… a cool 62º at 7am, blue sky, flowers in full bloom everywhere… IN MID-AUGUST! I’m compelled to record that I enjoyed every minute of my most ambitious solo stroll to date, south down New Hampshire all the way to South Park via a shortcut through the courthouse lawn, where I took a cool minute to appreciate a handy park bench and all the casual but carefully-planned flowerbeds, freshly watered by an army of vest-wearing city employees while I was still sleeping. Then a loop around the gazebo and north toward home on Mass Street, which was in the throes of waking up and opening its doors. Nobody screaming in front of The Replay this time, just kindred spirits enjoying a perfect morning… bagels, coffee, a newspaper or two. Cool air, not a leaf moving, everything green and blue as far as the eye could see… felt right to smile and say good morning along the way. Most people do, which is nice, but they’re cool about it. We’re still in Kansas, but not all-up-in-your-bidness Kansas. Natives will get the nuance.

To make a long story longer, what I’m full of appreciation for this morning is incremental positive gain and the fact that it’s a fact. When circumstance prevents progress for long enough the concept gets buried in the mud, so when altered circumstance enables nearly unlimited progress… it calls for a moment. It truly is step by step. Every day. Over and over. You’re getting there, do it again, some more. See how much better it feels today than yesterday? Think what your one-year anniversary will look like and keep going.

And now I’m bringing the house lights down for the people who can’t help hating me a little or a lot. If you’re somebody who lives with silent pain, who’s likely been disrespected for not jumping into your big-girl/guy panties and getting on with it, who’s had it absolutely up to here with people who don’t get it… please know that my empathy is genuine because I’ve been in your shoes… off and on for fifty years, steadily for the past eight before my spinal fusion. I know intimately how much it hurts to be told YOU CAN DO something you cannot do. There’s not a thing I’m telling you to do. If circumstance prevents you from being part of the life you’re living, you have my complete understanding. That’s all I know to say to you, because I’m as helpless as you are to alter anything. And that whatever is still within your power to do, do that, and don’t willingly give up your personhood because your life refuses to conform with what you see out there. You’re here, your life belongs to you and no one else, and if you’re living in your head make it a good place to be… insofar as you have that power. I’m saying don’t give up. I did and I can tell you from experience that it doesn’t help because you still have to BE here. And if things get better, you have to fight your way back.

***

Sometimes we give other people too big a vote in what our life will look like… because it takes time to figure it all out.

And REAL will tell you the truth.

***

Sometimes physical pain is so linked to psychic pain we can’t sort it for ourselves… and very few people are in a position to help us with that, especially our fellow walking-wounded. We look for answers from people who have none for themselves… we forget that we are all we have, requiring a kind of strength that takes a lifetime to build.

***

This. Because it’s exquisite and speaks volumes without words…

***

It’s Thursday, a good day for letting real love into our secret worlds… and allowing it to heal us.

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A poet speaks for me…

The joy found in a cool August morning can’t be laid on too thick… it’s simply glorious. The rush of stepping into another sunrise and striding down the sidewalk, balance pole in hand, everything right with the immediate world for a few precious minutes, cannot be diminished by impending daily-ness. I walked as far as the courthouse this morning before looping toward home… next trip South Park! I saw Dennis scurrying along Mass Street, his arms full of collected treasures… where did he stash his shopping cart, I wonder. As I trekked toward my destination, I noticed two rough-sleepers in doorways on the east side of the street, and outside the Replay Lounge an early riser was singing, dancing, and yelling, so I chose another route home, for simplicity’s sake. Plenty of room for everybody.

I’ve had no success finding the title, but these words from an incredible writer are everything this morning…

Everyone must leave something behind when he dies, my grandfather said.. 

A child or a book or a painting or a house or a wall built or a pair of shoes made.. 

Or a garden planted.. 

Something your hand touched some way so your soul has somewhere to go when you die, 

and when people look at that tree 

or that flower you planted, you’re there..

It doesn’t matter what you do, he said, so long as you change something 

from the way it was before you touched it 

into something that’s like you 

after you take your hands away.. 

The difference between the man who just cuts lawns and a real gardener is in the touching, he said.. 

The lawn-cutter might just as well not have been there at all..

the gardener will be there a lifetime.. 

-Ray Bradbury

***

Get out and touch the world today if you can. Leave a mark. And may your coffee, your pelvic floor, your intuition, and your self-appreciation be strong.

***

**The occasional reminder that no one sees your name, including me, but your rating thrills my heart. I feel so seen. 😎

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I can work with that…

Oh hey, my Muse, I didn’t see you there when I sat down! I was lost in thought about HABIT… what it is, how it happens, what it means to humans for good or ill. Glad you’re here on a Sunday morning, you can help me with this.

Over a lifetime, I’ve unconsciously built a wide range of habits into my daily existence, some of them a real bitch to get rid of. What I’m after at this point are GOOD habits, BETTER habits, BENEFICIAL habits, since there really isn’t time left for detrimental processes. I’ve been happy to discover that I’m still equipped for growth, that I can add a new module to the operating system and make everything sync.

I’m talkin’ ’bout my new drug… walking, something I took for granted until in my 20s but never after. Farm Girl ran for acres on sturdy little legs, mostly barefoot. Tripped her way through grade school, danced through high school, went to college in the almost-70s so remembers only pieces/parts. All of that was very real and vital and life-shaping, and it’s mine. I own the ensuing years, after my life-altering accident, and all they held. This morning it feels like I owe tribute to the NOW and the gift of walking out the door and going ’til I feel like heading home. Unless the weather is dire, I can’t sit here much past sunrise without my butt twitching to go outside. I have to latch the Tevas to my feet, get out there, and offer up my daily measure of thanks. By the time I get home there are aches going on… but nothing hurts. It’s an excellent morning when I’ve been out and about, back home and iced by 8am, and this was one of them, go me. Now I have the entire rest of the day to fart around.

A sweet secret muse is Mr. Kurt Vonnegut, and I love this story:

Kurt Vonnegut tells his wife he’s going out to buy an envelope:

“Oh, she says, well, you’re not a poor man. You know, why don’t you go online and buy a hundred envelopes and put them in the closet? And so I pretend not to hear her. And go out to get an envelope because I’m going to have a hell of a good time in the process of buying one envelope.

I meet a lot of people. And see some great looking babies. And a fire engine goes by. And I give them the thumbs up. And I’ll ask a woman what kind of dog that is. And, and I don’t know. The moral of the story is – we’re here on Earth to fart around.

And, of course, the computers will do us out of that. And what the computer people don’t realize, or they don’t care, is we’re dancing animals. You know, we love to move around. And it’s like we’re not supposed to dance at all anymore.“

Let’s all get up and move around a bit right now… or at least dance.

All respect, Kurt, you ol’ dog…

***

What’s my motivation? To keep dancing.

***

It was a sweet week, highlighted by having this guy hang out with us for a few hours, play our piano, jam on guitars with Kim, sing, harmonize, fill the house with joy. If you haunt the music-underground in Lawrence in any of its iterations, the swell of talent that’s always just behind the curtain here, you likely know this gifted young man… lucky you.

Vincent Brauer. Remember the name.

***

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Stranger things?

A sobering phenomenon is in progress, and you’ll soon pick up on the key word in that comment. I used to think my phone, iPad, and desktop could hear every word I said, read my mind, and gauge the dilation of my pupils, silly me. Then I wised up and realized that, YES INDEED, MY DEVICES ARE FULLY TUNED IN TO MY EXISTENCE EVERY BREATHING SECOND, so now I try never to say or think anything while in range of an electronic device, nor make eye contact with Siri. And yet… they know. They all know.

Hold on, I’m getting there…

Through painstaking dedicated research, Kimmers and I have determined that alcohol and excessive heat are seizure-triggers for me, especially in tandem, and as we’ve gradually fine-tuned my tolerable amount down to approximately zero, I’ve been mulling something: Are there relaxing healthy drinks out there that might make some spoiled old girl feel less on the shelf when the party starts? I did, I asked that very question of myself. However, at no time did I voice it out loud, nor did I consult google. And yet… they know.

The thought had no sooner formed in my mind than I was seeing ads in all my social media feeds for mocktails, exotic teas, wellness tonics, hemp-infused non-alcoholic spirits, fooz booze, zero-alcohol whiskey, the spirit of bourbon sans bourbon, non-alcoholic wines, non-alcoholic apéritifs made with natural adaptogens… does somebody out there have ALL my numbers or is this the Truman Show? How do I escape the scrutiny of those who KNOW… do all my thinking in the shower with the fan on blast?

In case you hadn’t guessed, the Secret Word was “sobering.” If you were on top of it, here’s a cookie… 🍪

It’s 4:30 on a Friday. Almost time for me to clock out and slip into a comfortable weekend, but first a few parting gifts to tide us over ’til Monday or whenever Ms Muse drops in again.

***

***

Not loyalty to me… loyalty to truth and kindness.

***

Please enjoy a summer weekend, and if you feel lonely come talk to me…

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Rainy-day conversation…

Got up early, possibly because I was asleep before 9pm last night, or maybe because the barometric pressure sent a wake-up call. Stepped onto the balcony into a wall of humidity that took my breath away. Within minutes the sky lost its budding sunrise, there was jagged lightning in its place, we heard delicious crashes of thunder… and then the deluge hit. For a while it was positively monsoon-like, with trees whipping in all directions, and I see there’s a pot or two tumped over outside. The streetlights are back on for the third time and the rain is again coming down in windblown sheets… meanwhile, I’m being a mouse while Kim sleeps off his second COVID booster. I love a dark, stormy morning… perfect for sleeping babes.

A lot of people in East Lawrence don’t own personal transportation, so there are always walkers out year-round. As the rain gushes from the sky, soaking flora and fauna and sending out wicked flashes of lightning, I’m glad I wasn’t wandering around outside when it hit, and that I put extra effort into yesterday’s walk. When the first steps out of the gate are an easy stroll, it’s time to make it all ache again so I did, and on the homeward lap I thought of the goals that have been at the bottom of my medical assessment sheet for the past five years or more:

  1. Be able to walk for at least an hour without nerve pain
  2. Spend more time with my sister, and finish things I’ve started

Wow, done and done… and starting a few new ones. Amazing how that works, and it’s a real gift to be able to use my time constructively since those hours will pass one way or another anyway and be gone!

This morning under dark skies that somehow feel promising, I’m proud of my state for once again leading the nation in a moral human issue just as we did with slavery, and for not buying into a desperate last-ditch lie. It gives me crazy hope for a future.

When in doubt, ask “What Would John Brown Do??

***

And now I shall spend the remainder of my morning here… please enjoy yours fully.

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