Thursday, June 30, 2011

To Do Or To Be?

      In theory, I know life  isn't an either / or situation.  Life is a blend but my conundrum is what is the overlying aim?  In this case,  I am considering  the best use of my time.  This is always an issue for me.  I am forever considering how I want to live my life, how I want to spend my days.  I am determined to make the best use of my life but I can't decide what that means.

       On the question of to do or to be, I am flummoxed.  Do I spend my lovely summer days "being"?  Specifically, "to be" means to stay in a comfort zone.  "To be" means to stay where I am uber comfortable - mostly at my house, in my
neighborhood.  It means to read, to write, to paint, to futz with the yard work, to ride my bike in the extended neighborhood, to go out with friends, to chill with my beautiful daughter, to romp with the new kitty, to nap in the afternoon sun.  In short, "to be" means just that: to be comfortable and settled with my days.  No surprises.  No novelty.  Only comfort, familiarity, and ease.

        "To do" requires more effort. "To do" compels me to move out of the familiar and into a place that necessitates more energy, more work.  The payoff, however, is adventure. The reward includes  new experiences, new people, new memories.  I expand
my world.  I learn and become more of who I am.  I challenge myself and presumably become a richer person in the process.  There are surprises.  There are cranky moments.  There are lonely times and times when familiarity seems king and adventure sucks.  I have more currency to add to the bank of JT.  For me, however, "to do" is hard work.  If "to do" means travel or taking a class or volunteering somewhere - it all means I have to put out precious energy.  That's the roadblock.

    Again, I am well aware that it isn't an all or nothing sort of situation.  How about balanced portions of both to be and to do?  For some strange reason, I find that much easier to say than to do. Really, I want to plant myself right here in Sebby  and just "be".  But a part of me screams in anger:  you can't do that!  You have a life to LIVE.   Get out there and do it.

     I had this conversation with someone I know recently.  His take on the conundrum is that if you are happy, it doesn't really matter whether you be or do.  Your life can be rich and full even if you never leave the house.  If you are happy (or even content) living a simple and unencumbered life of reading, writing, and "being", then that is your ticket to a full life.  If that is not enough for you, then, yes, toss in some "doing".  The "doing" however should not be forced.  It should reflect what you find makes you happy.  To go out and "do" for the sake of experience or an expanded life or because you think you should, is not sufficient reason to take you out of your comfort zone.  If you are happy "being", then be.  If you want to do, then do.
For him, the idea is to be happy.  I get the impression that, for him,
being happy means living an uneventful, predictable life.  I can buy that.  It is an easy life.  I can see where that life would be cozy, sleepy, and content.  But rich?  I am not so sure.


Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Breaking Hearts

"It is better for the heart to break, than not to break." 
 Mary Oliver

      I question this one.  Really? And exactly why is that?  What is so impressive about a broken heart?  Broken hearts mean tumult, hurt, sadness, regret, tough times all the way around.  If a heart doesn't break, it is spared all that grief.  Sure, I know, I know - Life might be sterile or lack depth without heartbreak but it might be much cleaner, much less painful.  Without a broken heart, you have the energy to be open, energetic and alive.  You don't get bogged down in fearing the broken heart.  You just live, unattached and whole.

   Do you want to avoid a broken heart?   How about just not letting the heart land in the wrong hands?  If you hold on to your heart, if don't give it to anyone, you will know exactly where it is and in what condition it lives.  If you are foolish and careless enough to give it to someone (or even just to give part of it to someone) then you have to take what you get.  In theory, you could be wise enough to give it to someone who will protect it.  That is awfully sweet.  But how often does that really work out?  And when you give your heart away, how does that make your life better?  If you hold on to your heart, guard it with everything you've got, you don't have to deal with heartbreak.  Oh but then there is the chance that you might just drop it yourself.  Oops.  Splat.  Bye bye protected heart......

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Life Lessons by Lulu

Heya, World!

   It's me, Lulu!  I've been on this planet for about nine weeks but I have a  lot to tell you. See how cute I am?  I didn't do anything to get that way.  I just am.  Just like you. I am what I am and I am proud of it.  See me strut my stuff!   Take a lesson!  Be proud of who you are!

     I am fascinated with  this world.  I  have big eyes that want to take in every inch of it. There is so much to see, so much to explore.  I kick around every leaf, every spider, every piece of discarded paper.  I don't want to be mean - especially not to that spider - I just want to see what will happen.  I want to see what they will do.  I want to look under, over, and very closely at every glint that catches my eye.  And you want to know the funny thing?  It doesn't matter how many times I have already looked at that leaf or how many times I have batted that paper towel roll around.  It is still fun to do it again!  Sometimes I even catch on to something I hadn't noticed before.

    Don't get me wrong though.  I am not irresponsible or careless.  I know it is good to be a bit cautious.  Take chances in life, sure!  Be bold!  Be daring!  But don't be stupid.  It's okay to watch the world for a while, to plan your next move. Sometimes it is actually far more satisfying to be an observer rather than a participant.  Sometimes I can learn a lot by watching.  And sometimes I can be so entertained just by watching you humans.  You act so goofy at times.  You make faces at me or at each other.  You jump around trying to impress me or maybe trying to get attention from each other.  You yell at those boxes in your living room and you make your fingers dance all over that thing on the table.  You clean off tables and counters with a sponge and then you throw colors all over a big piece of paper and act proud of yourselves.  Sometimes you laugh at the oddest things and then sometimes you cry when no one else is there.  You get up early and play with me but then, just when the fun is really getting going, you leave and spray water all over yourself.  Yes, you are so funny!

 I do like to explore stuff.  I wonder why this thing with the black squares takes so much of your time?  and who is that other kitty who comes around when the black squares are open?

   I like toes a lot.  Actually, I like human beings a lot.  I like how you smell and I like how you let me cuddle up to you.  I don't understand why you humans don't do more of that?  Why don't you always rest in each others' arms?

    Inside or outside, there is much to see in your world.  One of my favorite things to do is to sit in the window and watch the leaves and the dogs next door.  I don't have to move much.  I am safe behind
the glass.  And it is warm and sunny here too.

    I like to play explorer and under the table is  cool.
No one can find me here and they go crazy looking for me!  Fun!  I like to tease those silly humans!  They take life waaaaaaaay too seriously sometimes.  Life is short, silly humans.  Your brows get so furrowed and you seem so daunted sometimes by the future.  Really?  It's not that big a deal!  I've only been around for a while but I can tell you something important.  Everything will be okay in the end.  If it's not okay, it's not the end.  So there.

     Here's another bomb for you:  sleeping is good!

You humans work too hard.  Go! Go! Go!  You always have a to do list.  You get up early and immediately fly into motion.  And you run run run off to work, off to work out (huh?), off to do chores - go go go go go go go go - get my point?  Lighten up, silly people!  Slow down.  Take a moment.  It will make all the difference in the world.

    Speaking of working hard, I have had enough of this writing for now.  I am going to go nibble on some kibble and snooze while the sun is shining.  Meow meow for now!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

A Love Letter

Dear Summertime,
I don't know if I've told you this lately but I do love you.  I have always loved you and I always will love you.  You make me feel alive.  Your warmth and gentle nature captivate me.  Your shining and beautiful colors stun me and make me want to just feast my eyes on you and never look away.   I love how you make me laugh and how relaxed I feel in your presence.  You never seem to annoy me and you never fail to make me smile.  I love how you make the daylight start so early and how fresh and cool you feel at 5:30 in the morning.  I embrace the sleepy nap time that is a natural response to your afternoon warmth.  And I am in heaven when you embrace me at dusk with your colors and your balmy breeze.  On top of all of that, you provide me with the tastiest fresh fruit and vegetables!  The gift of just off the vine tomatoes or fresh berry pie - you feed me so well!

         I love how, when you are in town, I get to wear shorts,  tank tops and flip flops. My bike rides take on new energy when I am not wrapped in layers of clothing.  My arms and legs bask in your sunbeams and my toes dance when dressed up in polish. My skin loves the feel of fresh sunshine and begs for more of that sunscreen fragrance.
The best part of our romance is that , when you are visiting, there is an attitude in my world that speaks to freedom and adventure.  My days are open and all my own.  I can get up and enjoy the morning, drifting from interest to interest.  I can paint before I do anything else.  I can work out without feeling rushed.  I can sit down and type a love letter  and not be worried about being late for work.  I don't have to go to work at all!  If you invite me, I can go to the beach on any day.  If you invite me, I can take a nap with you at any time.  Because of you, I can lounge among all the books I have saved up all year and read them without feeling pressured to go do chores or go to work.  When I am ready, I can hit the road and go visit other towns, other people, other beaches, even NYC, if I choose!  I can have adventures.  You are really my best friend!  I love you!

    The saddest part for me is that you don't stick around.  You always leave me.  I know it's what you must do but still it doesn't please me.  I know you offer me the Fall colors as a parting gift but you also slam the door shut tightly with the cold, grey, wet winter.  By the time February arrives, I feel entirely abandoned and forgotten by you.  I mourn your disappearance and I wonder if you will ever come back to me again.  So far, you always have but why must you leave?  I miss you so.
For now, though, I want to just be with you.  I want to enjoy what I have in the moment.  I want to treasure these days with you and love every moment.  I will survive if you leave again as I know you must.  But, for now, hold me tight and never forget me.
I love you.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Good Question

Seriously, maybe I have to consider not working.  What a difference having this time off makes!  Granted the weather is also cooperating - sunny and warm - but I am happy to be drifting through my days.  I am happy to be cleaning the house and happy to be doing yard work.  I can take time to just be.  I can paint and read.  I can take bike rides and walk the dogs. I am not jamming a million things into my day.  I can breathe.
How long would I be content to just be?  There is satisfaction in my work.  I do enjoy the contacts with the kids and the parents.  I get a lot from my work but at what price?  Life is short and feels as if it is getting shorter and shorter.  I am well aware that my days are numbered.  How can I make the most of them?  Is working really the best way to spend my life?  Good question.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

What A Difference

.....a week makes....
Everything changes.
That has been a recurring theme - and, once again, I am here to announce and, yeah, celebrate change.  This time the change is reflected in three arenas: sunlight, sleep, and work free days.  I am in love with the sunshine.  I know it makes a huge difference in my attitude and life appears manageable when the sun is shining.  I literally live in a fog zone, a cloud zone,  and the faithful presence of the sun is not guaranteed.  I wish I could paint it into the morning sky every day and let its warm energy infect my life.  Not possible

A second pleasant change is the appearance of sleep in my life.  I have the chance now to get an adequate nightly rest with a sweet helping of an afternoon nap.  I know I feel a reduction in headaches and I can retain my sunny disposition when I am not fighting exhaustion.  I am not one to laze around in sleepy mode.  I go to bed at night, read for a few, slip off the light and slip away from my world within (literally) seconds.  I sleep hard and undisturbed.  I wake up minutes before the alarm on school days but on these days I wake up a comfortable seven or eight hours later and waste no time getting out of bed and getting on with my day.  I like that.  I love the early morning and I do not want to waste it drifting in and out of unawareness.  And I feel awake and alive and capable of dealing with whatever life has in store for me that day.

      And, why this gift of sleep?  School is out for the summer.  My professional life goes on hold for about two months.  I can breathe.  I am not running all the time.  My head is not spinning with the many daily issues that my work presents.  I have time to write, to read, to paint, to walk , to just be.  I know I need to look at this.  Living my life at a speed that exceeds the legal limit is not in my best interests.  For now, however, I simply want to take the moment and appreciate what is.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Interesting Flaws

"I like flaws. I think they make things interesting."
— Sarah Dessen

In theory, I like flaws too.  The perfect something can be boring.  The perfect something suggests complete order, and no surprises. When it comes to people, the flaws suggest vulnerability and humanity.  Flaws invite compassion and tenderness yet they can also inspire great anger, resentment and grief.  I am most attracted to people who are damaged.  I think I feel most comfortable in their presence.  Kids who are damaged allow me to be tender and understanding and to offer them acceptance and thoughtfulness.  Flawed adults - especially flawed adults who are painfully aware of their shortcomings - allow me to know that I am not alone in my imperfections.  I have the most difficult time with righteous and arrogant people.  I don't understand people who are above error, above flaws.  That righteousness builds walls that are strong and ugly.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Breathe. Again.

     Road trip north.  Travel solo and see the world.  I have done that trip six or eight times in my life and I don't get tired of it.  This time I am going alone.  Oskar and I  (Oskar being my bug car) will tool up the coast, stopping when we feel so inclined.  I will take lots of photos.  I will stop and read when I want to.  I will walk into restaurants and make friends with the waitstaff.  I will stay at a campground or three and walk around and talk to people.  I will sit in interesting places and watch the people.  And take photos.  And write about what I see.  And hear. I wish I could take my bike but I am traveling very lightly on this trip.  A sleeping bag, a little tent, a little ice chest, a small box with books and cd's, my camera and computer, warm clothes and running shoes.  Oh, and a credit card.  It will be an adventure.  A solo adventure.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

No Good Thing Ever Dies

"Remember, hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies."
— Stephen King

This spring seems to be fresh out of hope.  It has been a grey and dismal spring with few sunny days.  On top of the grey outside, there has been more than the usual grey inside..... changes at work, depressing national and international news,  hard times for recent college grads and job seekers, headaches and tension everywhere.  I stumbled on this line from something written by Stephen King and it set me to thinking:  Is hope gone for good?

Lately I have thought a great deal about what it means to be alive.  Stephen King appears to be suggesting that hope makes all the difference.  For me, to know I  am alive is the best thing.  To feel all my senses in play reminds me that I am breathing, taking chances,  attached to the world around me.  Perhaps tough to do if I have given up on hope.

Hope suggests that, despite the dismal skies and the prevalent grey mood, change is possible.  I will not always be so small.  I will not always be impatient and discouraged.  When I ride my bike at dawn on a clear May morning and blend into the roads of Sonoma County - eye candy galore, spring fragrances everywhere, and some awesome music in my ears, hope returns. What changes in that moment?  What brings that hope back into my life?

Don't know.  Maybe the absence of stress, the presence of solitude, the feeling that anything can still happen?  What I know is I glimpse that every so often these days and I want more.  More hope.