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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Not a problem, just a challenge…

worried-2310879_960_720

inspiration gone

could return if life sorts out

may be a long road

JSmith 12/08/2017

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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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The Emo Queen

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falling asleep on

a pillow soaked with tears makes

for a soggy rest

JSmith 11/12/2017

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You must be this tall to ride…

 

rollercoasters-in-cities-venice-frozen-over-nois7-surreal-photos-images-manipulations-R

 

the rollercoaster

is eating my lunch today

walking away now

JSmith 11/9/2017

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Hearts in the raw…

Walk Trees Artistic Autumn Painting Photo

 

hello november

please be gentle and gracious

enough already

JSmith 11/03/2017

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On losing your spark…

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Yes, it’s Monday, which is no biggie since I’m retired, but there are so many of them and they relentlessly click past while sneering at my lack of productivity. It’s demoralizing, not to put too maudlin a point on it, especially since I know the Monday voices are absolutely right.

I was in a conversation thread last week about losing your spark – apparently it’s a thing right now, who knew? Mine died the night of November 8, 2016, and that’s all I’m going to say in that regard except that it’s proving to be a long road back. In last week’s conversation, a beautiful friend who knows whereof she speaks counseled starting small, one thing at a time, racking up little successes, continuing to move forward. She’s right. It works, even when you know you’re still swimming in molasses.

It just got easier. This morning, October 30, 2017, the sense of being suspended in a state of limbo is gone for the first time in eleven months, which is once again all I’m going to say, except that Kim told me at lunch “You look adorable today. You look like you’re feeling better.”

I know it’s still a long road ahead, but I’m content for now just to feel the spark again. I have a project that I want and need to finish and, like other things, the process has suffered from my lack of ability to engage. So while it feels like somebody’s home again, I think I’ll get at that.

Wishing each of you sunshine, clarity, and peace today…

 

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Off topic…

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sunday morning sun

slants through the blinds and underscores

the small heap of guy and girlie things

fresh from the dryer and

loitering on the unmade bed

like so many multi-colored Jelly Bellies

oops not a metaphor to pursue

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On making sense of life…

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What a beautiful fall day – doors and windows are open and the air smells clean and new. Farmers Market is winding down for the day, and Kansas Jayhawk football is happening over on the Hill, the culmination of Homecoming Week here. Kim’s watching the game while he cuts up a bigly mountain of peppers to freeze, a generous gift from our friends Terry and Leigh and their bountiful garden.

Well hey, I started this yesterday and then Calgon took me away. It was a good day all the way through…riding with Kim while he ran errands, napping, walking to Cielito for a margarita and dinner.

And now it’s a sunny Sunday morning, the chef has returned from the PickleBall wars, he’s in his kitchen making ranch omelets, and life is looking entirely doable all day.

These are the things that matter. When everything around us is unending chaos, these are the things that carry us through the days until the outer world seems real again. We have to keep our hearts open to the beautiful and the true in life – the things we can’t afford to lose. Hang onto them like life preservers. It’s the only way anything makes sense.

 

 

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The remains of the day…

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stunned and sitting shocked

fabric is ripping apart

how will peace be found

JSmith 10/02/2017

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You can do it…

doubt_dice

doubt butts into life

and tricks us into sorry

paralyzation

JSmith 09/28/2017

 

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Duty calls…

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“An adventure a day” has been our marriage mantra from the beginning – any time we find ourselves up against a plot twist, we have to figure out how to turn it into something fun, interesting, challenging, or in some other way memorable. Easy-peasy most days, as it turns out, and we have some great little stories to show for our efforts.

We’ve also each carried a desire, over the years, to belong somewhere. Kim’s been looking for it since his growing-up years in SoCal, and I spent a lot of years wishing to feel at home the way I did on the family farm where I grew up, as I felt forever the outsider on my married-into one.

Lawrence is proving to be that safe space for both of us – the vibe, the weather, the manageable scope of our surroundings, the sense-of-new that’s in the air we breathe. Being seated on a jury this past week only added to the knowledge that I’m a real citizen here.

Physically and psychically it was a challenge (aka adventure). Having been a jury member twice now, both criminal cases, it’s my heartfelt opinion that sitting in judgement of a fellow human is the heaviest responsibility this side of bringing home a new baby.

The charge was Criminal DUI, the charged a young Hispanic man. Young white prosecutor, older Hispanic defense attorney. Young white highway patrolman, phlebotomist, and KBI expert. All-white jury pool. All-white jurors, five women, one man. (We learned that misdemeanor offenses require a six-person jury and felonies twelve.) I think I could be an effective jury consultant after watching the attorneys narrow the pool by dismissing every male the approximate age of the defendant and keeping all of us who looked like sisters, moms, and grandmothers.

The charges…

1.) Operating a motor vehicle in an unsafe manner

2.) Driving 92mph on a 75mph interstate

3.) Driving under the influence of alcohol

4.) Refusing a breathalyzer and a blood test

The highway patrolman’s testimony was articulate and the evidence of speeding was solid. The KBI’s toxicology reports were quite conclusive and delivered in a succinct manner by a young woman who clearly reached her level of expertise by virtue of knowing things. The phlebotomist from the hospital demonstrated serious credibility and provided key testimony about the chain of evidence. In the only nebulous part of the evidence presented, the grainy dashcam video shot at 2am was helpful but not conclusive as to the charge of unsafe driving.

We were the typically assorted crew, and although we exchanged very little personal information during off moments, our personalities were coming out by deliberation time. Our lone guy struck me as neutral, right down the middle, just the facts, please, all in a day’s work. Of the five of us women, one was a no-nonsense Fox News conservative (her words) and not interested in nor affected by any discussion of potentially mitigating circumstances; another was an educator, probably in her 40s, who engaged us in discussing various scenarios and possibilities; there was an adorbs sorority girl from The Hill who seemed to be most concerned about making all the numbers add up so as not to wrongly convict the defendant; then you have me, the eldest in the room, focused on all my unanswered questions; and finally, a young woman not too long out of college and involved in a career. She volunteered to serve as foreman, which surprised me until I saw her in action.

Foreman Woman efficiently and dispassionately took us through each of the charges one by one and we discussed them until we felt ready to vote. We voted GUILTY on three of the four charges, the only logical thing to do in view of the evidence. Even as we filed back into the courtroom, my brain was still trying to work out why the defendant had requested a jury trial for a DUI, and how a conviction was going to affect his mother, who was in the courtroom both days. Nonetheless, it was done, over.

Afterward, the judge came to the deliberation room and talked to us, and in answering our questions she provided two key pieces of information that have allowed me to let it all go:

1.) Sometimes people request jury trials on the outside chance that a jury might have enough doubt or sympathy to exonerate them.

2.) This was his second DUI offense.

Okay, I’m sorry, nice-looking young man, go do your time and learn some things about life.

And I’m sorry, mister well-trained professional law enforcement officer, that I entertained the slightest possibility of not taking a proven menace off the highways. Wow, he looked so clean and earnest and hopeful, too.

When I met Kim for lunch I realized that I was shaking all over, mostly from relief that all of us together had managed to do the right thing. The heavy sense of responsibility stayed with me into the evening and I found myself crying over silly things on TV.

Alexander Hamilton, et.al., placed a lot of trust in the jury concept – that Americans through the years would retain enough personal integrity to make life and death decisions as concerning their fellow man. This one was fairly easy to own because the solid truth of the body of evidence was overwhelming – we were presented with established facts from credible witnesses. And yet when you walk into the deliberation room you’re hit with the sense of accountability you owe to the entire process, and that’s good – it should never be an easy assignment.

I’m relieved and gratified to say that heritage didn’t show up in any way as a topic for consideration – we discussed only the facts and the evidence supporting them as they related to the charges. Each of my fellow humans on the jury surprised me in happy ways and each one taught me something. Thank you, our beloved forebears, for entrusting this important task to simple citizens – we truly are all in this together.

This, for whatever reasons, has been a hard post to write – I’ve been trying to find the words since last Thursday and now I’ve written a whole LOT of them and this has grown long. I keep thinking of what the educator in the room said: “If any one of us were to find ourselves in trouble in a court of law, we would hope for an honest, serious jury who would consider nothing but the facts of our case.” Amen. It matters.

 

 

 

 

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