Against all odds…

If you’re a fellow word-broker you’ve undoubtedly noticed that expressive language is not the common currency everyone deals in, and words don’t carry the same meaning across the board. PEACE, for instance, the term I’ve been flinging about for the past week or so, connotes different strokes for different folks, so in case anyone’s tiptoeing around the subject like it’s a deceptively passive quicksand bog waiting to drag you down to the Slough of Despond, feast your quaking spirit on this anonymous piece of writing that came into my hands yesterday. I’m grateful to the author, whoever he or she is…

Knowing I can live exactly that way, free and at peace in myself, feels anything but passive or depressing, just in case there was any misunderstanding as to where I’m coming from with the PEACE thing. It comes down to making my choices for my reasons and quietly standing by them against the world. And I’m one voice in all the confusion saying you can do the same, because I know that to be true. It’s how you manage to live your one wild and precious life (as Mary Oliver puts it) against all odds, and you really must! This is likely the only shot we get, kids, so get started ASAP. It’s that thing at the top of the list.

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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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It’s personal…

Peace. It’s a GOOD thing, as Martha Stewart (remember her?) likes to say. It isn’t easily come by, therefore of great value. Once chosen it requires a moment by moment conscious choosing until it settles into a fixed attitude. The world, of course, doesn’t magically change just because we wake up one morning and decide we’re going to wrap ourself in peace instead of constant angst…but it feels a little like it does, because the perspective shifts. A thought comes and the next one behind it is “But wait, is that my job? Is it worth my mood? Is it fair to affect Kim’s day and the life we’ve been given, this amazing second chance after all the loss we both slogged through to get here?” Reality doesn’t change a bit, but my place in it starts to take on an altered significance – and this is okay. I can get used to this. After all, nobody died recently and left me in charge again, I can probably lay down some of this heavy-duty responsibility for a while.

If you noticed, my last post wasn’t titled “Finding Peace,” but rather “Making Peace.” Most intangible things we go looking for we never really find – it works best to make them out of the raw materials we have available to us and go from there, otherwise we’re off on an endless goose chase, we get distracted, forget what the goal was, and end up frustrated and discouraged. The good things and the beautiful people have a way of finding us when we’re chill and receptive instead of tied in knots – the past week has shown me the truth of that again and I’m glad I didn’t miss it by being all wound up.

This year since March has been about tracking down some elusive health issues, and tomorrow is D-Day for a twice-postponed endoscopy/colonoscopy that for some reason has filled me with dread when it’s a rodeo I’ve been to before and know is routine. I’ve done all the self-talk and for all of Saturday and Sunday I restricted myself to liquids and soft foods in order to make the prep as benign as possible, so it’s just me being a basket case. Pretty sure it’s because last time we tried this I had that super-scary totally unrelated sulfa-drug reaction in the middle of everything that landed me in the ER, so you see what we’re up against here – it’s never easy, kids, jeez. How will I ever convince you I’m not simply crazy? Never mind.

So… I’m “starving,” but there’s no food in sight for me until late tomorrow morning after the propofol wears off, when Kim’s promised me a salted-caramel malt, but at least for now black coffee is considered a clear liquid, how cool is that? This whole process is much improved from when I did it ten years ago, so see, it doesn’t pay to worry and fret. Far better to let yourself be at peace.

You heard it here first.

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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, 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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Are you smiling?

While this lush green NE corner of Kansas decides which season to settle into, winter or spring, here are a few previously posted haiku verses from June of 2016 when my muse was very much with me. I hope they’ll coax the sun from behind the clouds for ALL of us!

***

oh the odd day when

karma runs over dogma

redress is too sweet

JSmith 6/27/2016

***

I’ll bring the Zen and

spend my day not thinking ’bout

sewage in a suit

JSmith 6/25/2016

***

the DH of me

saves my life by riveting

the little heart holes

JSmith 6/24/2016

***

pooled our ignorance

and got it done

old not daft

JSmith 6/22/2016

***

summer solstice hits

crank up the whine-o-matic

sweat is water too

JSmith 6/20/2016

***

no earthly sense in

fear of flying

light me up

JSmith 6/13/2016

***

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Yikes, busted…

This moment of self-awareness smacked me in the face as if from the fog outside my windows just now. It’s such a deliciously sneaky little phrase… “Joy of missing out.” It represents a guilty pleasure… because, you know, I could have gone, I could have seen it all firsthand, I could have lived to tell about it, brought the stories back… Instead, known only to me was the joy of comfort: my environment, my simple pleasures, my chosen company, not in rejection of anything, rather in full-hearted embrace of the best of the best for this time. The deep lovely joy of missing out.

For legit reasons, I do opt for comfort a lot, but because I’m still so damnably fascinated by everything there’s no disconnect between me and the world, may that ever be true. Bless my mom and her hungry intellect, and her determination that her kids not be deprived of knowledge simply for the fact of living in the middle of legendary NoWhere. And bless technology for the way it helps to level the playing field in every direction – economically, regionally, generationally, on and on. No one has to bow out of the conversation unless they choose to for their own reasons – the decision to miss out for the unique joy of it, for the sake of the alternative that’s offered.

Kim calls it knowing how to be satisfied, a mantra that has kept us arm-in-arm for fifteen years and counting. But who’s counting? 💙

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It always comes back to love.

I didn’t say anything about LOVE on the 14th because it’s been done to death, and there are people who rightly dread hearing about it (those people can thank me later, preferably with salted caramel something). Kim and I made a pact to forego the hearts & flowers hoo-ha altogether and it was perfect – love, peace, and happiness rolled down like waters, and all was well. No big deal. Another good day, all in what you make of it.

We can talk about all kinds of love, not just the romantic kind that we always think we want and then sometimes don’t know quite what to do with after we get it, amirite? Now that I’ve gotten used to some of the realities, I do love getting older, for the reasons Ms. Erickson mentions. Accepting the facts doesn’t necessarily mean loving them, though – my favorite memory from childhood is that my back didn’t hurt.

A deepening understanding has been the sweetest gift of the passing years and the events they’ve held. I’ve been in the middle of more than one critical incident, positive or negative, and had a swash of clarity engulf me and leave me changed. I live for those times.

In order to weave stories, it’s VITAL to see how things connect, to understand something of how life really works, and that requires time and perspective. Integrating the lessons…applying them…the weaver designs the tapestry…and each person reads according to his or her heart, because beauty does indeed “reveal itself in thousands of forms.”

I write ’em, I don’t explain ’em, and I stopped apologizing a few years ago. You probably should, too.

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Just BE

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I don’t worry about being *right* all the time.

I just try to BE.

And that feels right.

Benjamin Dover@quaker4change

 

Benjamin Dover shared this on Twitter and I know you’ll respect that it all belongs to him, thanx. The truth of it resonated soundly with me and halted me in my tracks so fast I had to sort a few things back into their slots and shoeboxes after the sudden stop.

Here’s why: I’m pretty sure some people interpret things I write as proselytizing – selling it – when what I’m really doing is letting you watch the wheels turn while I figure things out for myself. I don’t need YOU to be right according to me, I just need you to let me work out what’s right for ME and then let me BE that. And I don’t want to have to justify it to you after I’ve spent the energy to find my right answer – I want you to do your own work. Don’t come at me without that, and really, just don’t come at me – I’m over here BEING, because I did the work – MINE – that got me to HERE, the place where I can BE. I’m not moving, so if the word WORK is a problem, you’re just gonna have to … DEAL … another way.

I love this – it’s one of the best, in the sense of helpful, enlightening, encouraging, hand-on-a-shoulder things I’ve encountered in a while, which is why I officially plan to stalk Benjamin Dover via Twitter. It’s entirely possible he knows other prime stuff that he puts right out in public, thinking people will possess the integrity to keep hands off…

{I did ask, he just hasn’t responded yet… }

 

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Breakthrough…

invisible 1

 

A day comes, if you’re lucky and it’s true, when you see that

You never really know what’s going on

Though others seem to have it by osmosis.

No worries…

Though the dawning knowledge that you don’t…quite…fit…ANYwhere

Is a gift of liberation not accompanied by explanatory text –

It rather defies description.

Quickly you see the grace you’ve been given for navigating

Tricky waters and tests of loyalty – 

  When you’re mostly invisible you get to slide.

That’s when the gift becomes the knowledge that you belong

Only to yourself

And you need to know only your Truths.

You can forget the rest, and *fitting* is vastly overrated.

Or so I hear.

 

JSmith 09/30/2018

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A win is a win is a win…

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Slip-slidin’ through a Sunday, overcast and cool. The sun’s nothing but a weak yellow blob behind lofty layers of water molecules that don’t yet feel like cooperating enough to make rain. That’s only because they have no awareness of how badly we need it, so no hard feelings.

Kim’s playing in a PickleBall tournament today, which is every bit as exhilarating as it sounds, and I’m without adult supervision. I know, I’m just as confused by that as you are. The original plan was for me to go out there a little ahead of now (9am) when his first match is starting and watch as play continues into the afternoon. Today is Men’s Doubles, and Kim and his partner Marcelo are guaranteed at least eight matches, which I would genuinely love to see, so yesterday we made a trial run.

First of all, we live a block off downtown, right on the verge of East Lawrence. And Rock Chalk Park, where Kim plays in all but nice weather, is way the Helen gone out on what is, for now, the far outer edge of WEST Lawrence. A 15- to 20-minute drive across town is not, of course, a dealbreaker, but stay with me here.

2) Parks & Rec puts the olderish-fart PickleBallers at the farthest end of the mahoosive all-under-one-roof sports complex (sure, okay, we need the most exercise, we get that, but…).

3) Above-the-action “Spectator Seating” for PickleBall is three food-court-type tables and a scattering of matching chairs. I tried one out while Kim went down to the courts on an information-gathering mission.

4) So okay, there are actually two choices: a} stand at the rail and watch, or b} scooch a plastic food-court chair as close to the chicken-wire as possible and catch the action from various angles while peering through the wire.

It became apparent that the phenom that is PickleBall is still new enough that they might not be quite ready for prime time. (Just a fact, not a snark.) Also that this fan, loyal though she is to one adorbs player, couldn’t be spending Sunday at the tournament, no need to belabor all the reasons why. (And now I learn that I could have sat on bleachers directly courtside, but still… )

Kim has explained the game to me (repeatedly) in very clear terms but it doesn’t make intuitive sense to me when I see it played, the way basketball, football, tennis, golf, all the games I grew up with do. I’m hopeless at trying to understand soccer or any kind of hockey, and the lines on a PickleBall court baffle me, because they’re nearly always painted across the markings for basketball and other court games, and played sideways on half the court. Clear as mud, right? Yeah, same here.

Just got a text from my big kid – he and Marcelo won their first match quite handily and should now be into their second. He likes playing, he likes winning. And he didn’t need me out there messing with his head game, so this way everybody wins. Kim and Marcelo, after eleven matches, won 3rd Place in their division.

Also, just between you and me, once I told myself I didn’t have to write another word until I felt like it – I felt like it. Love you, friends, thanks for hanging in with me and I hope your Sunday will be nothing but win. Summer isn’t finished with us yet.

 

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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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Catharsis is not pretty…

18-heart-breaking

Dammit, life in the end is a cruel mysterious bitch because it’s so beautiful and so brief. I stand in the shower and cry wracking sobs that leave my ribs sore because we’re getting into our 70’s now and some of my most brilliant friends are falling to Alzheimer’s and I can’t make it stop and IT’S NOT FAIR. And I’m wrapped in a towel with my hair dripping water and running down with the tears and I’m trying to find words that mean anything at all when the world is ending and I’m mad as hell and nothing’s right anywhere except… a precious beautiful man loves my son and maybe I can stop crying in a little while… maybe… because when life seems like it has to end right this minute so we won’t die from the ache… there’s something so good we’d be really… pissed if we missed it.

And then we’re crying… softly now… from the grace and the sweetness and the peace and the yin and the yang.

The balance is always there if we can let the quiet find us…

… so pain is such a mixed bag that we don’t really dare wish it to be gone forever. That’s a much-needed revelation this morning and I’m glad for it.

Have a beautiful spring Sunday, friends. Because life is good. So good.

 

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The stuff of life…

happy-hoarder-fb

February is underway and the purge is on again, this time in the deepest recesses of my iMac, where my latent hoarder tendencies find safe pasture. In my favor, I’m a fairly organized hoarder, but even those systems are breaking down and need a good whomp to shake out the dust and detritus again, still, some more. It’s true, we really can be and often are our own worst enemies. Procrastination = my downfall. I’ll look at, listen to, deal with, make a decision LATER – I’m far too busy right now with whatever it is that gets me to the end of the day. So things stack up a little, out of sight and, of course, out of mind.

The “later” concept bleeds over into all of life. Don’t burn that gorgeous candle now, save it for “a special occasion.” Wait until you can drag it out of the far recesses of a storage closet after four blazing hot summers, including the one when the A/C gave up. It’s okay to enjoy it now because it’s too ugly to save for company.

Growing up on the farm, only guests were allowed to see the good dishes or know we had them. Being prepared counts. If, say, the governor were out on a listening tour at some point and was curious to know what that dead-end dirt road led to, and he and his henchmen knocked on our door and it was around lunchtime, my mother wouldn’t have been embarrassed to serve them a flash-cooked meal on our unblemished china. Priorities, people. On the other hand, she was wise enough not to give four wild children access to her dowry.

There comes a point when later begins to hold less promise and the do-it-now instinct kicks in. I’ve reached that point. You know how the center of an omelet is usually the best part? My self-imposed rule has been that I have to eat the outside ends first and then I can have the cheesy yummy center section. How stupid is that? No, no, no, it should always have been yummy centers first – when you aren’t already almost full from the less amazing stuff. If you leave anything on the plate (Ha!) it has to be the ends, not the middle, jeez, do I have to tell you EVERYthing?

Same for cake and frosting. Slide a knife horizontally through your piece of cake, neatly separating the frosting and about a half-inch of cake from the drier stick-in-the-throat part. You were going to eat that part first, right, and then reward yourself with the sweet stuff. No, look, this is important. Throw the cake in the trash and savor every bite of that frosting – you don’t have time to mess around. Later gets shorter every day, don’t waste this – no more saving the best for last.

You can extrapolate it out to just about everything – we wait for the right time, the right mood, the perfect occasion. We have to stop. I have to stop. Do the thing, enjoy the thing, appreciate the thing, in and of itself, just because. Mostly because we won’t be here forever.

Hey! Happy Tuesday, and be on the lookout for the best – it’s for you.

 

 

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Perspective – a GOOD thing…

DEEP THOUGHTS…

With the ever-widening gap between ages on my birth certificate and driver’s license I’m being forced to dig harder for the positives attached to getting older. First thing that comes to mind is the fact that I’m still breathing, since that isn’t a given.

Second…is that I’ve been out of circulation long enough to fall off most people’s cracker, buying me the relative anonymity I crave, and exempting me from psychically-strenuous socializing. I know staying home most of the time, either alone or with one other person, isn’t everybody’s idea of a positive, but in my world it’s an amazing thing and will probably help me live to a hundred or so – the Zen is hugely beneficial, both to me and to others who are thus spared.

A close third has to be the freedom from OPO – other people’s opinions. OPOs used to influence my thinking to a shocking degree, but I got over that when I remembered almost no Other People ask for my opinion about anything, ever, end of story.

It’s astonishingly liberating to look up and realize you’ve survived to a certain age and some of the people who used to make you nervous aren’t even here anymore. Look at me, outliving folks and getting all happy and shit. O me of little faith.

You’ll be shocked to know that sarcasm is in the positive column – very much so. Utilized correctly, it can provide maximum relief to the wield-er, while inflicting minimal damage on the distracted target.

And since there CAN be too much of a good thing, I’ve deeply thought for long enough and have to run. I’m positive.

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New Year, New Us?

2018-Happy-New-Year-Wallpaper-HD-Waves

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.

Happy-New-Year-HD-Wallpapers-free-download-4k-amazing-artwork-smart-phones-pictures-mac-desktop-images-samsung-phone-wallpapers-widescreen-1280x1024

 

 

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