That fragile balance…

Trading anxiety for peace is no small beans. It takes constant focused attention and intention. Attention to the little things, the small ingrained habits that carry us through our days, the attitudes that are dear to us, that come to define us despite our best intentions, and there it is, the second word. As a lover of words, sarcasm is dear to my heart and often shapes and moves my intentions far more than I’m aware, coloring my attitudes and leading me down rabbit trails that don’t look or feel all that peace-laden.

Twitter, one of my habits, is a bizarre world of its own, but it’s good for speaking unvarnished truth with an economy of words. I don’t advise hanging out there if a sense of humor isn’t your strong suit, and even then it takes a toll on us softies. Jeez, the viciousness is truly unbelievable, the worst of it emanating from equally incredible stupidity and thus fairly easily rolled off. When it issues forth from people who I know are educated and who should therefore know better, I have to bail out for a while and remind myself what the thinking, feeling, caring world looks and sounds like, wrap myself up in that, and consciously choose PEACE. Again. On purpose. Until I get it right and it becomes my new habit, and the state of my psyche rightly reflects the life I actually live instead of the insanity of a percentage of the population I don’t even recognize.

No matter how passionately we might involve ourselves in knowing what’s going on at the various levels of government and society, we ultimately understand the infinitesimal effect we personally have on any of it, and yet some of us can’t refrain from adding our words to the mix in the hope of either connecting with one other soul or ridding our own soul of a tiny portion of the burden we bear because maybe we care too much. It does help a little, especially the connection part, and so we persist, we feelers. We seek a place of workable peace while trying not to shirk our responsibility for our fellow humans and other creatures.

It’s a balance not easily won, and why would we expect it to be? This is the stuff life is made of, the big questions, the literal life and death choices. So it’s okay to spend a little time weighing the options, even when we annoy the partial life out of people around us. The ones who love us finally get it, cut us the slack we need, and try to roll with us, which is so cool. Because this (waves hands around) just goes on and on and nobody knows the endgame so here we are, and loving each other and being real are all that count. Life really is so fragile.

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Making peace…

Yes, we made that road trip and it was wonderful! This was our first one in a few years and we were thrilled to find that we’re still true road warriors, in spite of having relied on the airlines for all of our extended travel for a while now. Full disclosure, the process of flying wears me out far more than driving, especially with the benefit of ergonomic seats in a genuinely comfortable car, with my best California freeway guy at the wheel. Having said that, it’s taken me two full weeks to recover, but this is better, trust me.

My sister and bro-in-love have retired to the lodge-pole pine forest of the Southwest, up where it’s warm but not too warm and the air is supremely breathable (except in pockets where fires are still raging). Most days the humidity hovered around 5-15% and our skin drank lanolin like water. The mornings are cool and still, perfect for sitting on the back patio with coffee, watching iridescent hummingbirds attack the feeder while elk graze in the National Forest that butts up to the cedar picket fence. Later in the day they bring their spindly-legged, still-spotted babies with them. We got to watch four and a new one was born after we left. There’s a large, multi-generational crow family that’s intriguing to observe, not least because their King has a head roughly the size of a bowling ball and he’s as arrogant and raucous as you might imagine, with a wingspan to back it up.

The days evolve on their own, with maybe a ride to a sweet little spot a few miles up the road for The Best Hamburger in the World, or another day to a place that legit has the best pizza I’ve ever tasted, with all ingredients either grown on the premises or handmade there, wood-fired outdoors in the mountain air and served with the latest house brew. Memorable. Or mid-afternoon, perfect filet-mignon on the patio, with bakers and the whole menu. My brother-in-law is a genius at the grill.

It was definitely not all about food, although we lived like kings. One day they took us to Sedona, beautiful, mystical Sedona, of the red, red rocks and the spires and formations. The entire area is stand-alone gorgeous, but in order to give the neophyte a feel for why it’s become the mecca it has, I’m quoting from a generic Google search:

“The majestic red rock scenery and evergreen vegetation are two reasons for the unique energy of Sedona and its tangible regenerative and inspirational effects. …Sedona is also internationally known for the uplifting power of its Vortex meditation sites.”

You’re most welcome, of course, to explore that on your own time, but I’ll remember Sedona for the view from a back balcony on the main drag, the chips & salsa and cold beer we all shared there, and the perfect peace-symbol necklace Kim brought me when he came back with refills in the icy mugs. It’s so timely I want it around my neck every day.

Evenings in the forest are for the hot-tub and star-gazing…and peaceful sleep while the cool soaks into the house again.

After letting the road-weariness drain out of me, and the heavy-heartedness of recent months sift down to a numbness of mind that defied words and finally dissolved into inevitable tears, I’m ready, as a friend so wisely said yesterday, to surround myself with peace instead of drama on every level, a goal that takes intention. Life insists on bringing everything back to a mundane level, to silly jr high deceits and intrigues, infighting and craziness – and my new favorite sight (again, until I get it right) is that of my feet walking away.

Love and family are real – give me more of that, please.

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Annnnd…

ROAD TRIP, BABIES !!

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Well, THIS sucks…

***Bringing back a golden oldie for new readers – yet another from the early days.

We didn’t win the lottery AGAIN, which is crushing because PLANS — I was on a quest to revolutionize my wardrobe by way of that venerated institution, the Sundance Catalog.   Please don’t sue me, Robert Redford, for naming names — I obviously can’t afford that since we STILL DIDN’T WIN THE LOTTERY.

It’s all so disappointing because my first new outfit as a gazillionaire was going to be killer, starting with the jeans, which are $108 and still have PIECES OF ACTUAL DENIM clinging to each other!  There’s a sweet top, a twee rumpled creation weighing less than an ounce and going for a very reasonable $198.  There’s a distressed-leather peacoat that looks fab with the little top — it’s only $548.  The shortie boots in the same shade as the jacket, complete with fringe and studs, are a must — they retail for $575.  To nail the look I’ll need the slouch bag for $368 and a cool nubbly belt at $120. Then we get to the fun stuff — the jewelry.  Three necklaces, layered, at $1190, $3400, and $1300 respectively; eight stacked wrist cuffs totaling $4800; seven rings for $1603; and the earrings, $285.  And a perfectly darling may-or-may-not-keep-time watch for chump change of $98.  The surgery to add 10″ to my height is probably going to run into actual money.

So for just the debut ensemble, not counting height-enhancement because who knows, I’m looking at approximately $15,000 with shipping.  And realistically I couldn’t wear the outfit every day because it isn’t wedding and funeral appropriate, so it’s imperative that I buy out the catalog in its entirety, including the furniture.  My dreams are all-encompassing.

Way to ruin my life, Powerball.  Mr. Redford and I were going to be besties.

Plan B:  Snag this $98 vintage bandanna scarf and accessorize my overalls.

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We shall haiku on…

inspiration gone

could return if life sorts out

may be a long road

JSmith 12/08/2017

*****

falling asleep on

a pillow soaked with tears makes

for a soggy rest

JSmith 11/12/2017

*****

the rollercoaster

is eating my lunch today

walking away now

JSmith 11/9/2017

*****

doubt butts into life

and tricks us into sorry

paralyzation

JSmith 09/28/2017

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Brother Bear…

How will I ever write this…how many tries will it take to get it right?

The holiday season always seems to bring the unexpected into our lives in some way. We went to an Open House in a friend’s newly-redecorated loft next to ours one evening last week, and I found myself in a free-range conversation with a woman who was helping to host. We eventually landed on the subject of pain and I was telling her about my gifted shaman friend, Ken, who had helped me so much through his knowledge of massage and the human lymph system. She asked me his last name and when I told her she said “Oh. He died. A couple of months ago, I think. He killed himself. Oh, I’m so sorry to be the bearer of bad news.”

We said our goodnights soon after and I’ve been trying to process the reality of her bombshell since. Cold shock gradually gave way to “Damn you, Ken, that’s so unfair. We were friends, you owed me one more conversation.” During my last session with him, which was less than three weeks before he died as it turns out, he told me he was getting ready to make some big changes in his life and pursue things that would be about his own peace and happiness for once. He sounded hopeful and resolved, and I affirmed him in his plans, telling him what a beautiful human being he was and that he deserved to be loved and appreciated and happy. He sat next to me on the massage table, his bare toes on the floor – he was 6’5″ – and went over *breathing lessons* with me again, the thing that ultimately keeps me healthy. He said “What if I’m not around sometime? You have to remember how to do this. You can never forget.” Did he know then? Was that the resolve? Or did he not yet have an escape hatch in mind in case things didn’t pan out… ?

How could he take himself away? His supremely gentle spirit. His soothing voice. His gifted touch. His knowledge, beautifully spooky in its intuitiveness. This isn’t my first rodeo with suicide and once again it’s like being yanked out of my skinsuit with no warning and left standing here raw and wondering what to do. I would have helped him in a heartbeat, and I can hardly bear the knowledge that I can’t bring him back to tell him that and a million other things. We hugged when I left that day, and I said I’d book another session soon. That was August…now it’s December…and what with various minor crises of our own I never did. 

Ken knew I was working on a novel and he asked if there was a bit part in it for a shaman called Bear. If I finally nurse it over its hurdles and finish it at some point…or if I don’t…he’s in there. And I have to believe that Brother Bear is still out there somewhere on his journey, encountering new hurdles to overcome. He was an inexpressibly exquisite creature in this life.

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Winter in the wings…

And like that it’s December, dawning for us cold and rainy, gray all day. It’s so easy to slide through these days, doing nothing much … having nothing much to show for them. Being retired means being exempt from old rules like productivity and list-crossing-off, so we read and play music and watch Netflix in the middle of the day. Easy. And winter isn’t even officially here yet. We’re bound to slack off at some point when we go into true hibernation. đŸ’€ Wishing you a cozy winter – I’m trying not to be a dropout.

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A Time for Truthiness

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I do seem to be gone. But not for good. Don’t you go away forever either, friends, I would miss you terribly. Fall will happen, it always does, and we will be right again, and be human together. Be safe ’til then…

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Such nonsense…

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It’s Saturday again, best day of the week except for Sunday. Cool, sunny, messy bed, everything the way we left it last night. In a word perfect. After an early breakfast Kim rode his bike to PickleBall, came back to get his truck, went to the nursery in NoLaw for bedding plants, now he’s home playing guitar.

In case you’re curious as to the whereabouts of our narrator while all this was going on, she’s been at her computer trying to figure out where sadness comes from. I mean, with life staying basically beautiful day after day, why sadz?

I saw a picture a friend posted today of a gorgeous ginger biddy hen on the porch of a weathered old house and the tears started. What’s up with that? Maybe partly the memories of a one-time farm-girl-farm-wife, turning maudlin old biddy hen herself, but I’m curious about what else tripped the melancholy since it happens fairly often lately.

There are days when the smallest trigger reduces me to ruins, and others when everything, no matter how heavy, leaves me cold. Should I seek counseling yet? Disclaimer: It might be a waste – I just might not do a thing they told me, out of stubbornness.

I could sit here all day on a truly perfect April Saturday with tears running down my cheeks and no real idea why they’re there. But being a sensible person at heart (is that an oxymoron, I wonder?) the thing to do … since it’s after 1pm … is probably … to get in the shower and clean up my act.

Because … a totally not-sad part of the day is still out there, guaranteed, and I know that she who snoozes … loozes. Crying itself can be a form of losing and it isn’t a good look for maudlin old biddies, at any rate.

Have a sweet weekend, boys and girls, and if the tears fall, don’t ask too many hard questions of them. Let them do their work, sit still in whatever quiet is available to you, enjoy the sunshine if it blesses you, it’s a pretty good world if we stay willing to connect with it. 💋

Photo Belongs to The Root Connection

 

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Let the good rain down…

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What’s a dark rainy morning good for besides almost everything…

…good for listening to the drops against the windows…watching the neighborhood dissolve into a distorted river…sitting in the dim quiet of my house and thinking Zen (as opposed to anguished) thoughts…warming my hands on my favorite tea mug…writing words and bantering with friends…and maybe, possibly, crying just a little.

 

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Blue-gray Saturdays…

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gray flannel morning

melancholy permeates

in here and out there

JSmith 09/16/2017

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Break-time…

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weekends feel dif’rent

even for retired kiddos

neutral is the gear

JSmith 07/29/2017

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Loving ALL THE THINGS…

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farmers market day

white tents filled with food and drink

and flowers too because life

JSmith 06/10/2017

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Life is so random…

…and it’s been astonishingly blatant about it lately. There’s never a shortage of life issues to ponder, but when events beyond my nose spiral out of control the issues proliferate. Pardon me while I overthink a few things…

ON DIETING: What’s the point? If I can improve my health, great. If I really do lose pounds, fabulous. I’ve done it, it’s a familiar circus, and I’ll likely do it some more times, but therein lies the problem – I’m a repeat offender. It doesn’t really stick, and for me it’s because it’s unnatural – I know what I like, and the minute somebody says I can’t eat that my body goes into rebellion. It’ll drop a certain number of pounds for me, but it’s merely biding its time until the stuff I really want comes back. Also, at this point I’m consistently ignoring all studies proving this or that food substance will kill me – I’m getting there anyway so let me enjoy my life on the way.

ON AGE SPOTS: It’s only a matter of time before the brown patches on my face that look like small continents merge to form a whole and make me look permanently tanned. Might be okay. Meanwhile I’m using apple cider vinegar like an astringent because it’s rumored to fade age spots, never mind that I smell suspiciously douchey for the first hour or so.

ON THE CURRENT CLIMATE: It’s a challenge to live every day in a heightened state of awareness – I’m as tired at night as if I’d been doing hard labor. It’s an accepted fact that stress of that kind is unhealthy long-term, so I take joy in being good to myself in as many ways as I can think of, and it helps. I hope you’re doing the same – life goes by quickly and there are no do-overs unless you believe in reincarnation, which is a whole other conversation…

That’s random enough for now – and you just realized you’ll never get the last five minutes back. 😄

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“You’re faking it…”*

 

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Thursday was amazing – from morning ’til night I stayed busy with stuff people all over the civilized world do every day and never think twice about. Rolled out of bed at 8:00, had some coffee, got dressed, slapped a cap on my wild head, and strolled over to the barbershop, a distance of half a block plus an alley. After all that dedication on my part, my girl Shelby wasn’t in yet, so I turned myself right around and trekked back home.

Took a shower and spent the morning writing at my computer. After Kim got home from PickleBall we had lunch at Five Guys, went to Target where only he went in, stopped at the dry cleaners, Kim again, and he dropped me off for my haircut, after which I walked the block and an alley home again. Played on my computer a while, did a load of laundry, policed some clutter. Around 3:00 we went south again to Cielito Lindo, which sits that one alley I mentioned short of the barbershop, for Margaritas, chips & salsa, and forbidden queso. We were home and entertaining each other on our own balcony by 5:00, and asleep early, as in by 9:30pm.

That was a big ol’ mess of trivia and why in the everloving did I bother sharing it, you ask? Only because, since no good deed (or day) goes unpunished I woke up at 3am in full-on fibro meltdown. To expound on the symptoms would turn this into a whine, just know that I paid big for the best day I’ve had in quite a while, and that this is the sort of price extracted from anyone out there with an autoimmune disfunction who’s bold enough to enjoy what’s in front of them once in a while. You can say I overdid it, but if you read back through and pick out the action words you can see that it was well-paced and carefully done and didn’t amount to all that much. At no time did pain tell me to sit down and shut up, so I rambled around in the sunshine behaving like a real person just for shits & giggles. The 3am message was “Hey, girl,” sounding nothing at all like Ryan Gosling, “you thought that regular stuff was for you. Haha, so sorry.”

The good news, because who can’t always use some, is that Friday was the only lost day this time, down from an average three. Tells me we’re on the right track with Ken & The Lymph Nodes, and that makes me happy.

The reason I’m taking the time to blog about this is that the thinly-veiled scorn that ends up out there on the backs of people who can scarcely spare the energy to deal with it is grating and I hurt on their behalf. Whatever people might say about me is none of my business, but ignorant digs at friends and family don’t go unnoticed, so I choose to fly my educator flag occasionally.

It’s all so simple – if you haven’t experienced or been diagnosed with an illness that for some reason annoys you in others then you don’t have a platform, so this is not your circus, it’s okay to wander off and take care a’ bidness, maybe contribute to the greater good through kindness or tolerance, something like that. Fibromyalgia is an invisible disease that affects 100% of the body, so you can feel really good about cutting people slack, in fact that’s your mission today should you choose to accept it.

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*Don’t read past this point unless you’re in the mood for naked truth…

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#saturdaymorning #notwhining #Fibromyalgia

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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