A Dearth of Words

Dearth.

Yes. A scarcity of something. Words. Here.

And it’s noticed, I know. A few folks I know have commented, casually, ‘uh, you haven’t written anything in awhile….’

And, then leave the comment trailing…

All I can seem to muster in those moments is a quasi-quizzical look and a mild sigh. Then, I try to explain what I haven’t yet sorted out for myself.

They know all that you all know about the the circuitous and yet full circle path I’ve been on, and so when they say….

Maybe you don’t need to anymore?…”

… I am – every time – simply silent with no real meaningful response.  You might say, a dearth of wit in those moments.

In my silence, however, I am uncomfortable. Not at rest. Maybe even slightly agitated.

But – and because – I am unable to articulate why. Even to myself.

Until the other night, or rather very early morning, when I should have been sleeping snuggled and sound; instead my mind was busy. No dearth of 3 a.m. thoughts, of that I can assure you.  In that vast, wide open space otherwise known as the middle of the freaking night, I circled about, eyeing this notion like a bird preying it’s lunch down below.

I thought of something Mimi wrote in her last post about “becoming a paean to gratefulness.

I thought about how much that resonated with me.

I thought about why that is.

I thought about how as a young girl, I was drawn to writing my thoughts and how when I look back at my old diaries, I see many starts but not as many finishes.

I thought about the idea of why we write. Why I write.

And then…

I thought about all this thinking.

And then…

I thought about the satisfaction that comes from writing.

I thought about so many issues sorted and unraveled because I wrote.

I thought about the community of friends and writers created and curated here, over time.

I thought about how it feels when I do write.

I felt it.

….

I kept circling back in my thoughts,  back to the comment, ‘maybe you just don’t need to anymore…’

Like writing was simply a temporary friend during a lonely and unsettling time.  (You know ‘that friend’ who constantly cries on your shoulder about this, that or the other thing, and never lets you know how things turned out? )*

A band-aid to put on during something that hurt.

A salve to soothe an an open wound.

….

And then I finally landed on the morsel.

But I do.

I do need to write.

I need the writing.

It is part of me that I (re)discovered during all that. The silver lining, so to speak, in the mess of of it all.

maitriser-le-web-reseaux-sociauxIt’s how I distill meaning from what’s in and around me.

It’s a way of thinking that makes sense to me.

It’s like the friend who totally gets me. *(And I don’t want be ‘that friend’ to writing.)

….

And, I fell back to sleep, but not before imprinting this in my mind’s eye, to come back to. Here.

Because, I need the writing.

Even in the absence of angst, without a glaring problem to solve or sort. There will always be – the way I see it, the way I want to see it  – something to distill.

So, what does this mean? I am not sure yet; I just know that the next time someone says, ‘oh maybe you just don’t need it anymore?” I know that I will say, ‘oh but I do…”

And while it’s true, life as I know it now is so much brighter, full of promise and love and possibilities limited only by infinity, it’s ok to still need the writing.

I need the writing.

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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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Merry-go-Rounds and Mayonnaise

After completely unplugging for several days, I am back and attempting to catch up on what I missed here in blog-o-land while away. I read post after post this morning and a bit this afternoon and evening when I could steal a few minutes. I found my head just spinning, trying to respond  to diverse thoughts and meaningful reflections; some funny, some lighthearted, one so very generous,  and some so compelling I’d just have to stop for awhile. And think.

When I was a kid, I grew up in a town not far from a beach and boardwalk, where there was a marvelous historic merry-go-round designed by the same carver who created the famous Coney Island carousel.

It is also one of only a handful of carousels in the world still featuring a working ring dispenser. Rings were once hand loaded by “ring boys,” as the young employees were called. The process was mechanized in 1950. Steel rings are used today, with brass plated rings added on special occasions. Riders on outside horses can grab rings from a dispenser as they spin, then toss them into a large clown’s gaping mouth, rewarded by bells and flashing lights.

I can remember, vividly, the fun of trying to get an outside horse, so that as the carousel spun us around, I would be positioned to grab a  ring on each pass, and attempt to get it in the clown’s mouth. It was dizzying, but fun and I did it over and over and over, no sooner focusing again on the ring dispenser than the moment the ring left my hand. Other than the old wooden roller coaster, it’s the most vivid and sense-filled memory I have of many visits to the Boardwalk.

That’s how I felt today…up and down, laughing with one post, sighing with another, relating to something, and pondering the next; round and round.

And then I realized that my thoughts were more scattered than usual, it was a challenge to frame my reactions and responses in a comment as I spun around. And, isn’t that just sometimes the best part of this, the comments? The dialogue – the hilarity, the community, the validation – that ensues from so many posts – has been such a welcome surprise.

I thought about it and I realized that our comments, just like in our in-person conversations, are how we show that we are listening. We can’t just nod our head, or  murmur an hmm-mmm in agreement. We meet each other with words; and today, plugging back in, I didn’t feel like I could quite reach the ring, let alone land it in its target. It was in reaching though,  that it became clear that it is important to me that you know that I am listening.

It also dawned on me that  in reading what you write, I feel stretched, to be better, to reflect more deeply and that the comments can bring out the best in us, sometimes just as much as our own posts, just in different ways. Some days what you write stops me in my tracks and sometimes the words I need to convey my thoughts – or depth of feeling – elude me.  Or just take their own sweet time to arrive.

Like the merry-go-round, this also reminded me of something familiar from childhood – it brought back an old staple of growing up –  mayonnaise. Well, not really mayonnaise, but the selling point employed in their advertising jingle: bring out the best.

I grew up in California where our mayo was known as Best Foods. My husband and I moved to DC when we were first married, and I remember searching high and low for the Best Foods: I scanned the shelves over and over looking for it, sure that I spotted it, not realizing I was seeing the same label with a different name. It wasn’t until I called a friend from home in CA, who had grown up in Baltimore, and while talking about the move and settling in, I mentioned the mayonnaise and she laughed. She had gone through the same thing when she moved from Maryland to California. Best Foods. Hellmans. All the same.

So for my east coast peeps and my west coast peeps and everybody in between and everywhere else,  know that when you post, you challenge me to keep reaching for the ring and to bring out my best.

PS – If you are one who really can’t stand mayo – I’m married to one – my apologies for an analogy that makes you say ewww! 🙂

Twinkle Toes

When my husband and I first started dating, a few moons ago, he took me  hiking in his homestate of Arizona. I was intrigued; the mountains in the desert are so different than the rolling hills of California where I grew up. Excited to climb to the top and chatting the whole way; I wasn’t really paying attention to how far up we had gone or exactly how steep it was.

After a picnic lunch, it was time to head back down.  My husband started easily down the mountain and I was trailing behind him, calculating every step I took. I was certain that  each step I took would result in me performing some fantastic somersault down the mountainside.  As much as I hated to, I had to keep asking him to wait, slow  down, wait.  After what must have felt so painstakingly slow to him, I hear him gently chide me,

“C’mon Twinkle Toes…

We went hiking yesterday, to one of my favorite places on earth where open expanses  of granite are punctuated by trees, waterfalls, lakes, boulders and of the course the wide open sky.

Each year, we never know what  we will find  here, it all depends on how much rain and snow we got the previous winter. Since it was a fairly dry winter last year, the falls that are normally roaring, were just a trickle this summer, giving us an all access pass to this playground nature created.

As we hiked up and down and all around, Twinkle Toes was out in all her glory [I should have a  hiking shirt made ….. with Twinkle Toes emblazoned across the front…and why am I only just now thinking of this?].

Even though I am familiar with the trail and the area, I found myself tip-toeing through the terrain, taking my own sweet time.

At each step of the way, I found myself scanning and assessing, searching intently for the best route, for me.  My husband is more the hop-to-it hiker, moving swiftly and easily from rock to rock, while I make my moves more intentionally.  I want to be sure that where I put my foot will hold steady, will give me the most secure footing. I want to move forward along the trail, not downward!  I will often take a slightly longer route to be sure that I will land on solid ground, that I can trust the earth to support me.

In the quiet of the day, I found myself thinking about my twinkle toes in a new light.  I realized that how we scamper over the rocks can mimic life in a way; some of us jump right into situations, while others watch, wait and listen; some speak and then think, others hem and haw before a word comes out. Some wear their emotions on their sleeve, others require quiet time to reflect and figure out their feelings.  I know that I often feel the need to observe before I engage and need to reflect before I share, but I know that this is not the way for everyone. Sometimes I envy the ways of others, and how they make it look so easy, so swift; and sometimes it’s the other way around. We all have a lot to learn from one another.

Some of us are rock-hopping hikers through life, others among us are twinkle-toes looking ahead to make sure the footing is secure and safe; and I realized that no matter how we make our way along the trail, that  even if the ground is wobbly, most of us are strong enough at our core to counterbalance the wobble, and insightful enough to know when to trust ourselves to risk the shaky step or look ahead and find a different route.

The best part? There is no one right way; we all get there in our own time and our own way; hopefully teaching others as we go.

.And does it really matter how we get there, if we find ourselves with companions who wait, slow down and enjoy the rewards along the way?  🙂

Happy Hiking!

Yours Truly,
Twinkle Toes

a.k.a