The accidental sabbatical…

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Things – they happen. The heat. The rude surprises. The unbelievable and the bizarre. The days and nights when the dank Hound of Funk sits on your chest and won’t move. Things – they deteriorate in a heartbeat and leave you with your tongue stuck to the roof of your mouth and your brain encased in glue.

This space has been mostly shuttered for the summer due to the above, not on purpose, it’s just worked out that way one steamy day at a time. I sit here to write, while anything and everything happens but that. For some reason, Facebook and Twitter have to be monitored incessantly, even though they’re mostly what empower the big ugly dog to bring me down. And once the smelly old Funkmeister makes himself at home it’s all about staring out the window with a throat full of tears, marking time until Happy Hour.

Last week something clicked on the inside of me and I was all at once disgusted with myself for being passive and discouraged and lowdown blue over feeling helpless, which made me mad, which ignited some good energy, which scared the Dog, which made me laugh, and I haven’t had to swallow any tears since, nor has the Funk Dog come slinking back. That’s what we’re calling progress around here in lieu of light at the end of the tunnel until we get some.

A friend this morning posted “8 Warning Signs That You’re Mentally and Emotionally Exhausted:”

  1. You Lack Motivation
  2. You’re Easily Irritated
  3. You Can’t Sleep
  4. You’re Having Anxiety Attacks
  5. Small Things Upset You
  6. You Feel An Urge To Cry
  7. You Feel Dizzy And Nauseated
  8. You Feel Detached

I was there on six of them and I have a feeling we could ALL benefit from a stretch of R&R right now. The world’s an unholy mess, that’s a fact. But here we are, against the odds. It’s summer — time to read, have a cold brew or two or a few, enjoy the sun and the water, and love on our babies of every age, size, and description. I’m only one small person – in the end maybe my answer is to better the space I’m in and to do no harm. So okay then, joy to the world and happy sunshine, and I mean that sincerely. We can work this out.

 

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Beauty is its own reward…

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An exquisite gift from The Root Connection that mirrors the month of May – the rain that makes the flowers, and the steaming cup of tea for appreciating it all. 

We’re two weeks into the month already, so burrow down into the good, the true, the right, and the lovesome, and let it heal you. All this other stuff is gonna keep happening, so go ahead and let the outstanding in the world make you dance again and take you completely away from the things that give you the blues.

More about spring and happiness and for lord’s sake not crying so much, later. For right now, if it’s as nice outside where you are as it is where I am we both should be out there. I started with rain and ended with sunshine and 87º (implied), and I’m sure there’s a tie-in but I lack the discipline to nail it right now, so that’s your mission should you choose to accept it. No, forget that – go outside and get some sun – spring/summer has finally arrived.

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Spring and its whims…

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Feels like a Windsday – already 70º at 8am and too breezy for comfort on my 4th-floor balcony. It’s overcast again too, for the whateverth day in a row. There’s talk of rain by late afternoon, in which case all would be forgiven, otherwise I’m in the mood for sunshine.

Our East Lawrence neighborhood is leafing out, bit by bit, once again obscuring the houses and buildings from view. I should know what these two little trees are, on the corner of our parking – I just know their pink delicacy makes me happy every spring.

And now it’s nearly noon, Kim is home from the PickleBall wars, it’s time for sustenance, and the sun is shining. Since there’s nothing left to whine about I’ll take my leave, wishing you a beautiful spring day. Make it count – it could snow tomorrow.

P.S. It did.

 

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The nature of things…

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Random reflections while I watch huge snowflakes swirl outside my windows on April 8th, twenty days into spring:

  • Cold feels colder after ten days in tropical warmth.
  • There’s something deeply satisfying about opening WordPress after a break, finding sixty spam messages trapped by Akismet, and dumping them en masse. {shiver of delight}
  • After several days in the metro Atlanta area, one of America’s supreme melting pots, the Central Florida Gulf Coast was striking in its lack of diversity. Must find out why. It was disconcerting to see only white faces everywhere.
  • Vacations are about food, but my appetite took a hike the day we left here and I ended up losing 2 lbs. Now that we’re home it’s back with a bullet, of course. Isn’t life hilarious.
  • Today is for recuperating from all that fun – tomorrow is for hitting the list and becoming productive again. It has to happen.
  • The weather will eventually get warm and stay that way. Right?
  • That’s enough thinking – it’s taken me all day to get this far…

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A Paean to Spring Fever

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Favorite kind of morning: waking up to rain hitting the windows (again/still/some more) while I watch the house get darker instead of lighter in the usual order of things. Sometimes I amaze myself – I got out of bed even though it was still raining.

Aaannnd, that was yesterday. Didn’t do diddly. Rain – 1, Judy – 0.

This morning dawned overcast and dry, or so I’m told. Wonder if “hazy and nondescript” will be the magic that moves me. That would be delightful – I have a long list.

However…I’m not through procrastinating yet and I’m fully engaged in what’s lately being referred to as “executive time.” Reading, drinking tea, writing, annoying people on Facebook, paying a bill – just one, wondering what’s for lunch…

And oh look, now we’re going shopping – that’s productive, right? It was even on the list. Wow, when you’re this much of a whiz at life you can’t even stop yourself from achieving goals right and left.

Guess what. Now it’s Wednesday. But it’s okay because I figured out what my problem is: Spring Fever like gangbusters. I’ve wallpapered my desktop and all my apps in electrifying flowers, which you’d think would zing me into my most productive frame of mind, but you’d be wrong.

Clearly you would, because now it’s Thursday. Pitiful situation with no remedy in sight other than a blistering summer capable of melting Spring Fever in its tracks. Knowing the odds, my plan is to soak up all the spring there is and deal with lists when it’s too hot to do anything else.

Not my house up there but it looks like a perfect spot for greeting the season and nurturing the Fever…

 

 

 

 

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The world on a blue marble…

fog

 

sunday

air cold sky gray drizzle

time for this patch of earth to be

an ice rink

again

 

good day

killer breakfast

cozy fire

man playing liquid melodies

on a champagne stratocaster

 

sweet day

snuggled in blankets

voyeurs of the sportsing

hot chocolate yes please

small world all is well

JSmith 01/7/2018

 

 

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Good intentions…

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It’s a gorgeous day-after-first-day-of-the-year and I’m feeling energized – I hope you are too. I intend to ride this pony until it disintegrates mid-gallop because the year just ended was an energy-suck of colossal proportions and I have catching up to do.

There are two kinds of people in the world – those who make resolutions and those who keep them. I tend to fall into the first classification, so this year I’m intentionally not making any promises. Instead I’m playing around with a short list from a blog piece I bookmarked and now can’t find. Fortunately I saved the list itself to a safer place:

  1. Choose a word of the year
  2. Set a mindful intention
  3. Keep a diary
  4. Persist

The first step is hard because there are SO MANY WORDS. I’ve been trying some on for size but haven’t picked a finalist yet.

Setting a mindful intention is easier – I know what I want to accomplish in the next year and have been saying it out loud, but only to myself, because sometimes verbalizing to other people sets all kinds of expectations in motion and who needs the guilt.

In another lifetime I kept a handwritten diary and filled years’ worth of notebooks with my thoughts. I could pick up the habit again. Might happen.

The fourth point is crucial so it helps to remember that resting when you need to is preferable to quitting.

It’s a simple list but we all know that some of the simplest things in life are the most difficult, so we’ll see what 2018 brings to us and what we do with it. I wish you all success in your intentions – want to meet back here in 2019 and compare notes?

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New Year, New Us?

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Do you have New Year traditions? Come share what they are because I’m looking for all the positive input I can find. Pretty sure I could benefit from more knowledge instead of just giving it my best shot every year.

My instinctive go-to in the new year has always been to lighten the load for the journey but these days my OCD is engulfed in love and comfort, and in this last third of life I’m perfectly good with not having every little detail tacked down. I’ll eventually decide whether I want that thing to stay on that table and I’ll store that little pile of whatevers, but it doesn’t have to be today or even next week, which represents a considerable lowering of expectations on my part.

The OCD shows up now primarily in thought form, first of all how to constructively untangle the snake’s nest that was 2017 and move into new territory. My brain feels more at ease when my surrogate gray matter, Mr. Honkin’ Big Hard Drive, is purged of detritus, swept and ready for whatever 2018 has in store, or at least I hope so. Current task = sorting about 5,000 saved Facebook posts into collections, a capability I’ve literally longed for. So satisfying, and it’s far more likely that I’ll actually read, watch, buy, eat, play, write, interact in some way with all the entries. Or not. Doesn’t matter, I just need them organized and out of sight.

I’ve dumped tons of superfluous email, a cathartic exercise if there ever was one, and I’m down to one Gmail account, Facebook email, annnd…guess that’s it. Wow. A bit more slash and burn and I’ll float into the new year light as a feather.

This feels like a great time to thank the souls who stick with me, who faithfully (or accidentally) read my silly attempts to make sense of life. The year of our Lord 2017 has been the most insane of my entire existence – seven decades’ worth – and we have no real clue at this point what its successor is going to look like – but I’d like to think we’re ready for it. A thing I love about humans is our ability to adapt, to roll with it, to come up with a Plan B. Don’t tell us no and don’t underestimate our capacity to survive – it’s been getting us by for millenia.

I’m wishing everyone true happiness in 2018 – a genuine Happy New Year. It isn’t a magic reset button, but we can make it work for now.

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A beautiful holiday season to you…

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be blessed in your celebrations

be kind in your giving and receiving

be hopeful in your plans for the year ahead

be a force for love in all your relationships

be truthful in your words and actions

be encouraged by your fellow sojourners

JSmith 12/25/2017

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Awaiting winter…

Decmain

december slides in

sunshine no snow yet

christmas will need it

JSmith 12/01/2017

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Hearts in the raw…

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hello november

please be gentle and gracious

enough already

JSmith 11/03/2017

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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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Down to the wire…

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august has arrived

summer is quickly waning

have some fun right now

JSmith 08/01/2017

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Sum-sum-summertime!

A nice thing happened last week – one of my sister’s besties shared two pieces from my old blog and it was a huge encouragement for at least two reasons:  1) It touches me that she saved them, since I only vaguely remember writing either one, and 2) It didn’t make me cringe to read them again from this vantage point.

Reposting one here:

Kim and I have been catching some advertising on TV that has us scratching our heads.  The ads are for a well-known outdoor-recreation merchandiser of colossal proportions, touting their store-sponsored summer camps.  The footage shows happy children and their parents sleeping in tents, toasting marshmallows, going fishing, and participating in other fun activities associated with the open-air experience – all of it taking place

INSIDE THE STORE!

I’m all for exposing kids to new experiences and the joys of outdoor living, but somehow the ads only succeed in making me feel sad.  I grew up camping with my family, so I know it doesn’t have to cost big bucks for the real thing unless you require everything to be first class.

First class we weren’t – more like a band of gypsies – but I wouldn’t trade those summer idylls for anything.  My dad was an irrigation farmer, making it difficult for him to get away during the over-heated summer months; however, where there’s a will, there’s a way.  Three or four times a year, between May and September, my parents, an aunt and uncle, and a raft of kids would load up and go to the lake for several days of sun, swimming, water-skiing, sleeping under the stars, and eating food cooked outdoors.  There was a little fishing here and there, too, and we were usually joined by other relatives and friends at various points during our stay.

My grandpa had stocked up on Army surplus items when the gettin’ was good (and cheap), so we had access to a big green army tent that was hot as blazes after a day in the sun but did a good job of sheltering us from the elements; kerosene lanterns; cots and smelly sleeping bags; portable cook-stoves; ammo boxes for storage; and most anything else a few days without the comforts of home might require.

After loading the station wagon with everything from soup to nuts, the first stop was the grocery store for all the real food – bags upon bags of it.  Then with everyone crammed into the vehicles we caravanned to the nearest large body of water, an hour and a half away, happy as clams, singing, laughing, and playing travel games, and with much “discussion” over who got the spot between Mother and Daddy in the front seat.

We kept a small ski boat and a big old (with the emphasis on old) ramshackle trailer house in a storage area at Cedar Bluff Lake, towing both down to the water upon arrival.  The boat would be launched, the trailer leveled insofar as was possible, the tent(s) set up, the charcoal grills placed on standby, and all things put in order for an extended stay.  We kids, of course, barely noticed that these things were happening.  We’d either worn our swimsuits on the drive up, or shucked into them the minute the wheels stopped rolling, and we were happily jumping off the dock, dunking each other, yelling, running around … and asking what we could have to eat.

Our mom and aunt seemed to do little besides cook the entire time, when they weren’t busy grabbing a streaking, flailing kid at every opportunity in order to slather him/her with sunscreen, but they were nevertheless visibly more relaxed and laid-back about life than at home.  Everyone who’s experienced it knows there’s something about food cooked and consumed outdoors that enhances its flavor many times over, and we feasted like royalty.  Pancakes, eggs, bacon, sausage and fruit for breakfast, baloney sandwiches, chips and veggies for lunch, grilled hotdogs, hamburgers, steaks or chicken with all the extras in the evenings.  And a steady, day-long supply of cold soda and Black Cow bars, plus anything else we could manage to ferret out of its hiding spot.

The babies played in the sand.  The little kids banded together and pursued their own enterprises of hiking, exploring, sharing secrets, and defending each other from callous onslaughts by the medium-sized kids … who obviously dedicated their time to harassing the little kids.

The bigger kids’ hours were defined by transistor radios, water-skiing, sun-tanning, and keeping a close watch for interesting-looking members of the opposite sex.  The kicker was that our parents preferred going to the lake during the week rather than on weekends in order to avoid the crowds, so the pickings were slim.

Our dads spent their time trying to keep the boat motor running, hot-dogging on slalom skis as a reward for their efforts, and consuming quantities of cold beer.

And our moms, who were known to do a little sun-tanning themselves while catching up on their reading and talking, were no doubt simply thankful to survive it all one more time.

The time always passed far too quickly, and after three or four days of non-stop sun and water everything would be packed into the cars again for the trip home, each and every item either wet or coated with gritty sand, or both.

Unlike on the drive up, there was no singing; there was barely a word spoken.  We were all sunburned within an inch of our lives, AGAIN, and God help the child who inadvertently touched a sibling on any part of his or her person.  We were well-acquainted with the misery of sun-burnt skin and we swore each time that it would never happen again, but nobody in our acquaintance yet knew how potentially deadly the condition was, so we were not nearly as careful as we should have been.  On the way home, the only reason anybody vied for the middle spot in the front seat was because that’s where the A/C blew the coldest.

It was rude, it was crude, it was the best of times, it was the worst of times.  We loved every minute of it, and I’d do it again in a heartbeat … if only to have all those people back with us for one more lazy summer.

Not every child will be lucky enough to experience the kind of summers we did, but I do hope they realize that there’s more to life than a pseudo camp-out in a retail store.

 

Burntside-Lake

 

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More rain worship…

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Adrift on the pouring rain, the flashes and rumblings, the delicious darkling morning. The bed is unmade and its still-warm folds insistently breathe my name. I brazenly cancel coffee and convo with a friend in favor of staying inside and cozy with Kim, who isn’t going out to play this morning either. My friend goes back to bed, so there’s one good deed done for the day.

Languid…liquid…lazy…leisurely…laid back. It’s that kind of day, and if my muse remains trapped in here with me it will be productive in spite of itself.

 

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