it just keeps getting better…

When you don’t do something for awhile, it can seem unfamiliar and the starting point anything but obvious. So, somewhat recently on Live & Learn, when David shared three lines of a poem in the midst of one of his posts, it stopped me in my tracks. Not just because the words were just spot on truth for me. Not just because I found myself wishing that I had been the one to assemble them in the way the author had so eloquently (and seemingly so effortlessly) done. But because those three lines capture what had been elusive to me: what I needed to get this post started.

The three lines by poet John O’Donohue posted on this blog read like this…

Unknown to us, there are moments

When crevices we cannot see open
For time to come alive with beginning

and reminded me that much as we try, we can’t know what is to come.

In months that have somehow managed to have sped by, under the hood has been an ongoing process.  An examination of not my conscience, but rather my very consciousness and a riotous path of change and growth. Big things have ended, little things have cropped up and simmered right back down and all along there has been an eyes-wide-open-deer-in-the-headlights-bring-it stance on it all.  I like to think of it as beginner’s mind, which for me is any time we find ourselves in some degree of both amazement and trepidation – and often, dogged determination – in some kind of new or changing time.  But beginner’s mind cannot last forever, for eventually a beginning moves to somewhere in the middle. Yes?

There is the saying that all good things come to an end.

I think perhaps that is not always true.

And, on the contrary, it can actually get better.

However we slice it, in review, it might help for you to know that as I cast my glance in the rear view mirror, I see a marriage that ended, and necessarily so; and subsequently I see a rift in a family for a young and yet so wise and resilient young boy; I see a move to where less truly became more in ways so unexpected and a brand of co-parenting of which I am proud of for my son.   I see professional hurdles and challenges and just a whole lot of unpleasantness that are best described as hanging on tightly to a ship’s mast out on a stormy sea. I see a bank account that some days had more question marks than dollar signs.

But in the midst of all of that: endings, upsets and so many unknowns, there has also been grace and goodness, and so much understanding and without question,  many unanticipated lessons.

wrong roadI have navigated these last few years, with my kiddo and I, bolstered of course by our magical friends and family, in an intentional and optimistic way. I found a way to go at it at my own pace and in my own way.  I wanted to – I had to – go through the pain, not around the pain.  I wanted to understand, and to admit where the wrong turn(s?) have been made and why. So, the kiddo and I, we have laughed, we have logged miles, we have sat side by side on the couch checking off episodes of our favorite TV shows. We created our signature ‘funk-food-dinner-and-movie nights‘ (sometimes, mama’s in a funk and can’t find her way around the kitchen…). And, we have done our own thing – he with his friends, me with mine. Sometimes that happens all together. I dipped my toe in the dating pool. Murky waters I tell you.  But that is another story for another day. Or not.

With this in mind, almost exactly a year ago, I took a few days away to reset, and continue this re-evaluation. I went up to the mountains, a place that I consider a second home.  I spent nearly a week: I went driving around the entire lake, hiking, sitting, walking, and chasing sunsets.  And thinking. A lot.  And learning. For example, one night the power went out. All of it. Guess what I learned? That I really am a little bit afraid of the dark!  Who knew!?  

I learned something else equally important.

On my last day there, I positioned myself at a stunning location facing west and since the summer rush had subsided, the beach was nearly left just for me. And my glass of wine.

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I sat in wait and I was not disappointed.  The sunset was literally spectacular. And slow. And evolving.

Like we are.

I savored each moment as the sun performed right in front of me.

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As the sun sank lower and lower, and aware that I had parked somewhat far away, I – so reluctantly – left in time to get to my car before darkness set in fully (I’d  already completed my Intro to Darkness course, successfully, I might add). I walked along, hopping over some boulders, looking back to catch every last possible glimpse. I wanted that image printed in me as much as in my camera’s SD card.

We all see sunsets, it’s nothing out of the ordinary. Right? The sun sets every day. It has to.

I thought I’d seen the last of it, but the sunset had changed once again.

It was like it had one more act, an encore perhaps?

I found myself smiling, relaxed and leaning up against a railing on the boat launch and muttering to myself, ‘it just keeps getting better’. And then, I thought to myself, huh, and nodding, and thinking, realizing…

…it’s all going to be ok. It just keeps getting better…

I was smiling.

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I’m not going to lie.

The last few years have been enlightening, maybe you could even say “exhilarating” at times. But not easy.

But, I realized what I was saying. Out loud.

As I heard myself, I smiled bigger as I realized, yes, it does. It just keeps getting better.

It’s true.  There have been moments unbeknownst to me where things were at play and I had no idea.

My kiddo is doing awesome. He continues to teach me and surprise me.   His resilience is not just comforting; it’s affirming. At work we have a new captain of the ship and while you cannot turn a ship on a dime, it seems the seas have calmed and we are headed in a better direction; I am excited to be starting a new academic year, energized and maybe somewhat overwhelmed, but excited.

Colleagues have said to me, “I’m so glad you hung in there…”

And, I met someone. Someone most special. In the most unexpected of places.

People keep telling me, “You look so happy, it’s good to see you smiling again…”

It just keeps getting better.

Kiddo and I mixed it up this summer and instead of hitting the road, we jetted off through the friendly skies to enjoy our annual summer trip. Let’s just say, it was monumental.

So lessons learned:  Don’t get stuck in the dark. And it can definitely get better.  Sometimes we just to have to trust the wisdom penned by John O’Donohue.

And a ps…to the ‘nudgers’, you know exactly who you are, and thank you.  You have no idea…

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A-ha. I Am Not Crazy.

I will be the first to admit that I often march to the beat of a drum only I hear. I can sometimes tend to find my own (ahem, albeit sometimes the hard) way to do things or get things done and sometimes find myself feeling like the little dog with its head tilted sideways and one ear up and the other down as I watch many around me. Huh?  Oh well.

But…in  a recent post, I wrote that:

I will admit that anticipation is probably one of my favorite things. I save gift cards for far too long because I savor what is to come much more than what has already happened. I love to plan trips almost as much as take them because it is as exciting to me to consider the possibilities as it is to actually be there.

And not too long before that one…I wrote a post about realizing that I could live with less and find that I have so much more and in that post I wrote:

…that I often was consumed by the next purchase, desperate in my attempt to acquire, to fill so as to avoid the void;  and that now I shop with intention for what is truly needed and appreciated. Time spent in good company far outweighs things, ten to one. So does saving for a rainy day. Or a sunny trip.

And then…last week, while scrolling through my Facebook feed I saw this…

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It’s been over a decade since American psychologists Leaf Van Boven and Thomas Gilovich concluded that doing things makes people happier than having things. “To Do or to Have? That Is the Question” was the title of the study they published in 2003 (PDF), and it’s been cited hundreds of times since.


All of the studies indicated that anticipation of an experience is more exciting and pleasant than the anticipation of a material purchase—regardless of the price of the purchase. In the case of crowds queuing up to make purchases, those in line for an experience (such as a play or admission to a theme park) generally are in better moods and on better behavior than those in line to buy material goods. In a press release, Gilovich said one reason the research is important to society is that it “suggests that overall well-being can be advanced by providing an infrastructure that affords experiences—such as parks, trails, beaches—as much as it does material consumption.”

Source:  The Positive Benefits of Anticipation


Ah. I am not crazy (well, ok, maybe a little!)

Isn’t it so great when science backs us up?!  🙂 It’s like a nice little pat on the back from the Universe – ‘yep, keep moving along, you’re doing ok! (but I’m going to keep an eye on you anyway!)”.  

Hmmm….I am already anticipating my next adventure!  What do you think?

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Happily Simple or Simply Happier

“Every increased possession loads us with new weariness.” -John Ruskin

There are people, we all know them and we call them “they’ and it is they who say that less is more. I think they know what’s going on, really going on.  They seem to know quite a lot, they do.

I had been noticing, and pondering, this new sort of reality I have found myself in, when Lori from DonnaandDiablo shared this quote awhile back. It caught my attention and I loved how it resonated with thoughts that have been bumping around in my mind, and my notebook, and my conversations, over this last year or so.

Those little moments where little light-bulbs pop to life and I hear my mind say, ‘hmmmm…’

Change, with it’s multifaceted ways and ever-reaching tentacles of both joy and grief, peace and anxiety, comes with much turbulence.

Thankfully, change can also bring clarity and focus.

This change in my life included an actual move to a new location and initially in any move, the primary focus is simple: find the underwear and the toothbrush, and everything else follows in time.  I’ve learned, after many moves, that knowing for certain where those two items are located in the piles, can make the rest of the chaos a little more bearable. So, in this settling in period, as one might call it, this period of transition, some things have become more clear to me once I found my spiritual underwear, so to speak.

Or at least slightly more in focus. fog As I have found my way in this new space I now call home, I realize that without even realizing it, less truly is more. Or is it that there is more to be said about having less? Possessions, that is. Because I truly think that I have more now than before. [I am thinking that Dr. Suess would probably like this post, and that just makes me, well, happy].

I have noticed that…

…where, in my previous location, it seemed I never had enough kitchen cabinet storage, and I had overflowed to a re-purposed cabinet in the garage, I now have honest-to-goodness extra space. Like, empty cupboards in the kitchen. Seriously!

…where I used to be constantly running out of space on my DVR, ever agonizing which un-watched recording could get deleted without ever being viewed, my new DVR has exactly seven programs waiting for me. And of those seven, two I am saving for the kiddo. 

…that I often was consumed by the next purchase, desperate in my attempt to acquire, to fill so as to avoid the void;  and that now I shop with intention for what is truly needed and appreciated. Time spent in good company far outweighs things, ten to one. So does saving for a rainy day. Or a sunny trip.

…where before I went after the fancy kitchen remodel, I find more peace in a nearly one hundred year old house that leans a little but has more good juju than a box of juju beans.

And, I have noticed that while once full of secrets I was too fearful of sharing, I now understand how the truth really can be freeing. 

I will be honest, and say that sometimes I look around and see all the people with all the stuff. And I wonder, am I missing something? Am I fooling myself?  Will I change my mind at some point (other than the fleeting moments when I walk through the Nordstrom shoe department of course) ?  We are programmed to want more, bigger, better; it feels foreign to go against this grain.

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I had a conversation the other day – one of those proverbial conversation that goes like this:  ‘what would you grab if your house caught on fire and you only had a few minutes’ ?  

For my companion, there was much angst and indecision. I could hear him taking inventory in his mind and feeling the pressure of the imagined decision.  For me, I realized that my answer was so much easier than his. My list was short and clear. Things are just that, things. When we lean into change, we have to make choices. When we lean into change, we invite clarity into our lives.

It occurred to me in the days since that conversation, that the possessions, all the stuff, can take up so much precious space;  and that isn’t it possible that the more space I make for me, the less I need to fill up that space?

What about you?

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Happy Hues

Over a year ago, I learned about The Color Run, and I was hooked, immediately!  I started following the Facebook feed for The Color Run and when I saw that it was coming to the city where I live, I sent out an email to several of my friends, saying, “We should do this! Who’s in?  A few responses later and a few of us had signed up.  Well, months later when the day arrived, one of us had moved out of town, one was on vacation, and the other, well her husband broke his leg while taking their kids ice skating.  That left me and one other, who now had a back injury. Getting old is not for the weak!

So, my friend T and I made it and we are now Color Runners!  She was a total trooper and rode her bike to save her back;  I ran and we successfully matched our pace and had a colorful great time.  The Color Run is billed as “The happiest 5k on earth” and I believe it! It was a great experience and when people are expected to be happy, and covered in color and surrounded by fantastic music, well, it just brings out HAPPY!

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A very happy experience!

The Color Run is an event series and 5k paint race that takes place in United States, South America, Europe and Australia. The untimed event has no winners or prizes, but runners are showered with colored powder at stations along the run. It has therefore become the largest five-kilometer event series in the United States. In 2013,  The Color Run will hold events in over 130 cities in the United States, South America, Europe and Australia.  Runners begin dressed in clean white t-shirts, and pass through a color station once every kilometer. Each color station is associated with a different color, with volunteers blasting the runners with dyed cornstarch out of spray bottles. Runners complete the course covered in the safe and colorful powder. At the finish line following the run, there are typically celebrations featuring a dance party .

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T & I and thousands of our happiest closest friends, ready to get the party, um, race, started!

The people watching was off-the-charts fun! The hair. The socks. The shoes. The tu-tus. Oh the tu-tus! I think I love a man who can rock a tu-tu. Even if just on his socks!

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I loved the color stations, where as you run through, race volunteers bombard each runner with color. There is a haze of blue, orange, yellow, pink and with each station, each runner is painted in more and more color. It’s just fun!

orange

Bizarre and fun.

yellow

I overheard one guy say, ‘they should flavor this suff!’

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This felt like being on the moon. Because, of course I know what that’s like!

But the most fun?

The finish festival.

Happy People.

Great Music.

A race completed.

Color. Loads of Color.

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What you won’t see are the photos of T and I at the very end; we looked like we had been through a war zone. We stopped at a Starbucks on the way home, and lets just say that being covered in paint is a great conversation starter!  A 35 minute power shower and an afternoon nap later, I was quite happy!

Put some color into your life…today!  What’s your color? Me? Hands down, it’s orange!

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Fill Up for the New Year

A few days ago, when I logged into Facebook,  front and center was a blessing that a friend shared, as it had been shared with her. It resonated with me, deeply, and I have been going back to it almost daily in the time since.  Each time I go back for a re-read, I get something new from it, a new layer of comfort and understanding.

I often say I am late the party, and why break tradition at this point? Though the holidays have finally been wrapped up, and a new year has fluttered in with a new calendar page, it’s never too late to stop and reflect on what it is that nourishes our souls, and seek more of that not only for ourselves, but so that we are filled with something to share with others, as we begin anew.

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What will you fill yourself with this year?

Beannacht (Blessing)


On the day when
the weight deadens
on your shoulders
and you stumble,
may the clay dance
to balance you.

And when your eyes
freeze behind
the grey window
and the ghost of loss
gets in to you,
may a flock of colors,
indigo, red, green,
and azure blue
come to awaken in you
a meadow of delight.

When the canvas frays
in the currach of thought
and a stain of ocean
blackens beneath you,
may there come across the waters
a path of yellow moonlight
to bring you safely home.

May the nourishment of the earth be yours,
may the clarity of light be yours,
may the fluency of the ocean be yours,
may the protection of the ancestors be yours.

And so may a slow
wind work these words
of love around you,
an invisible cloak
to mind your life.

–John O’Donohue

Happy New Year to each and every one of you!

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Ch-Ch-Changes…

It is said that the only things in life that are constant, a given, for sure are death, taxes and change.  Change is all around us; at the moment we get to bask in the glory of prismatic color all around as one season merges into another [forgive my West Coast life – our fall colors arrive much later than the rest of the world].  Our skin changes with the season, our eyesight changes with age; wine and cheese change for the better with time.  Our pant sizes change by the month for some of us;  styles change yearly; and if done right, life is a series of one change after another.

When my son was an infant, and learning to scooch, the kind of scooching that was more akin to a military move: elbows grabbing traction and full belly to the floor. The only difference being a floppy head that frequently came precariously close to smacking the floor. I worried that the hardwood floors in my house would prove problematic for both he and I; his forehead, my backside.  I ordered an area rug to soften the blow and create some padding, for both of us. There was a snafu with the order and it took nearly a month for the rug to arrive in the warehouse, and then I had to arrange  to pick it up with an infant. When I finally got to the store, I looked at the rug and realized that I didn’t like it; in fact, I hated it.  But as luck would have it, there were no returns on custom orders so I had no choice and I brought it home, rolled it out, and appreciated it simply for it’s function, despite what it lacked in form.

No sooner had I plopped the kiddo down on the carpet, with that contented sigh of solving a dilemma, did I realize that the week prior he had fully mastered scooching and was now in full-crawling mode. He had no intention of staying within the bounds of the rug’s edge, he had serious exploring to do. The area rug was obsolete before I even rolled it out; my son had changed. He had grown, outgrown the rug and was ready to move on. Just as he should.  I, however, was stuck with the ugliest rug for a few years until enough wear and tear was underfoot to justify a change in my home decor.

“When people are ready to, they change. They never do it before then, and sometimes they die before they get around to it. You can’t make them change if they don’t want to, just like when they do want to, you can’t stop them.”

-Andy Warhol

Change, if done well, and for the right reasons, does not scare me.  The tasks necessary to usher in whatever is new, or just different, are always laced with some element of adventure along with the knowledge that the change is part of  the larger picture and the knowing that this turn will pave the way for, and lead to more change at some unexpected point in time. I like seeing what’s next around the corner, figuring things out as I go.

Change, if done poorly and for the wrong reasons just annoys me; knowing that the unnecessary work required to accommodate the transition will be tiresome, drama will ensue, and will likely only serve to fix a temporary issue, that is possibly (probably) not even the real issue to begin with.

Change is on my immediate horizon; change that I have called forth, beckoned. Change that I need. I feel a bit like my infant son, pushing past the bounds of the rug’s edge. It is change for the right reasons, and will unquestionably bring work, surely some drama and it will be up to me to do it well, and with grace if possible, to ensure a positive outcome that simply lays a new foundation for what is to come.  Not to mention, the changes that I am certain will appear, at the presently uncertain, but certainly inevitable unforeseen corners of my life.

“You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.”

– Buckminster Fuller

I realize that not everyone likes change, embraces it’s adventure or seeks it out. It’s not always pretty, definitely not always easy, and rocks the boat.   What is your relationship to change? Do love it? Or avoid it at all costs, even when the option of remaining the same seems equally impossible?

“It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.”

– Charles Darwin