Someone else’s weather: Because some days you write a poem instead

I watch the weather in someone else’s city,
When dreams are dry and meaning rises slowly.
Wondering, bemused,
What would I wear today?
If I walked someone else’s streets
Instead of these familiar places where stories taste stale.

I watch the weather in someone else’s city,
When home seems unfamiliar and the walls too tight.
Wondering how the wind sounds
Sweeping someone else’s streets
Singing in the trees or playfully cavorting through wide open spaces.
Wrapped in smells sharp and sweet
Or tantalizingly filled with the scent of hurried humanity.

I watch the weather in someone else’s city
When the hour is late and night lingers long.
Imagining my surprise when
Someone else’s sunshine wakes me
Is it ocean or mountain, or buildings high and blaring horns
Waiting to greet my rumpled face when I peel back the curtain?

I watch the weather in someone else’s city
When choices are spare and hope runs fickle
While thunderclouds billow across my soul.
When someone else’s possibilities seem more likely
Than anything brewing at home.
I watch the weather and imagine myself
growing under someone else’s sun.

 

Sometimes I try and try to force words out that seem relevant or witty, and who reads poetry anyhow? (Hi Heather! I see you there waving) But today was a day when the words wanted to say what they had to say. Not a bad day or a challenging day or a day when anything is wrong at all. It’s simply not always up to me what comes out and when, or what form it takes. So if today is too weird and poetical, that’s ok. We all get to be who we need to be, and grown-ups don’t have to read books-or poems, or blogs-if they don’t want to. But sometimes, writers really do have to write them.

Minimalism and Flexibility: How to stay sane when everything happens at once

When I woke up this gloriously cool morning, I thought to myself , “Man it’s nice to have a slow paced Monday ahead.”  Then everything changed, and suddenly, I’m filling-in, rearranging, TCoB and all the other things that happen on a not-relaxing day.

And it’s ok. It really is.

One of the things that’s great about my life right now is my level of flexibility. Partially because I’m in an in-between season, but mostly I have minimalism to thank for the space to manage a day when all the unexpected things happen at the same time.

Last week I wrote about my obsession with moving and changing things (we have a new smaller bed arriving today, whoo hoo!). Seeing my stuff through a minimalist’s eyes has certainly reduced the amount of belonging in my home. But minimalism isn’t really about stuff. It includes stuff, and for me it began with getting rid of stuff. At it’s heart, minimalism is about making space for what’s most important, and embracing those things fully.

While minimalism may have started with my stuff, it became about making space for who I am. Minimalism is why, when I reached the end of my ability to function without some alone time last week, I was able to move everything aside and make space for self care. I’m not flexible because I have a clean counter-tops, but because the commitments I make on my calendar, to my family, with my friends and for myself are all things which matter most, instead of a jumble of possibly good opportunities with no real relationship to who I am. Breathing space matters, so I make room for it. I schedule it in, and I honor that commitment without guilt.

It takes some courage to apply minimalism to my schedule. It means sometimes I am generous with my No. For instance, we’ve filled May with delightfully fun and celebratory events for people I love deeply, including myself–BIRTHDAY GIRL! Plus, I have two weekly commitments for ministries in which I am heavily invested. Which means anything else that comes up is 99.5% likely to receive a no response.  Yes, I may disappoint people. They may feel I, somehow, let them down. Maybe, but probably not.

The thing is, I have a tendency to see myself with an inflated sense of self-importance. I like to believe I am needed by more people than I am. This isn’t to say I am not appreciated; I am and I know that. But in many instances, I am replaceable, and I believe it’s very healthy to realize this. It doesn’t mean I am not loved. It means I understand where I fit in the world. This understanding is a very freeing way to relate to everyone and everything around me. It helps me make decisions without guilt or resentment. My yes is yes, and my no is no. Those to whom I am irreplaceable, my husband, my children, my family, my intimate relationships, they are the ones who will receive my greatest focus. Other things may be important, but they aren’t permanent, and that’s ok.

All of this self-awareness is possible because minimalism encourages self-exploration and discovery. I know myself better, because I have made space to understand who I am and how I tick. Clearing away the clutter, physical, mental, spiritual and in my schedule, makes room for options and flexibility. It’s why I may feel some stress today, but not nearly crisis or meltdown level. I’ve made space to honor true emergencies, and still meet my most important responsibilities. Everything else is adjustable. It’s truly liberating to be able to say that and mean it.

Something Fun Sunday: Ep. 2, Poetry and the Dance of Joy

I don’t know about you, but after a busy week, I am ready for some fun! Even if my week is full of mostly good things, when I reach the end of a long stretch of busy days, I’m glad for a few days of breathing room at the end of it. Aside from tackling my demons, leading a community care class, and writing every day, I also managed to watch a season of Gilmore Girls. I spend a lot of time thinking about food since I decided to do a modified Whole 30, pescatarian style. Suddenly and without planning, I also changed my morning walk to a morning run. I haven’t run very regularly since the half marathon. I like me when I am a runner. It’s an activity that does great things for me even while making me grunt and sweat and sometimes cry a little.

Oh, and I came up with really fun summer reading plan for myself!

We’ve also experienced some heavy emotional things this week, so I’ve been especially glad of my heightened awareness of things which make me smile, and especially laugh out loud. So without further ado, something fun for Sunday.

On Tuesday we were so fortunate to be able to see Matilda the Musical at the Fox Theater. I didn’t know much about the show going into it, but oh my goodness! What fun! The music was so fun and whimsical. The staging was absolutely fantastic, and the actress who played Matilda was just divine. Way back in the stone age, Hunky and I met performing on stage.  Early in our marriage we had tickets to the whole Broadway season at Bob Carr auditorium. But it’s been so long, I had tucked all the memories of just how magical theater is away down inside. I’m so glad they are awake again now and that we got to have such a fun night.

(I’m also not at all sorry that I snapped at rowdy eighth grade boys mid-performance and made them afraid.)

Speaking of good musical theater, I had entirely forgotten about this gem of a show

I don’t even remember who posted this on facebook, but I watched it at least five times and almost laughed until I cried.

Speaking of genius, have you seen this amazing poem floating around this week? I truly love sharp and beautiful word craft, and this perfectly fits the bill. Ah, mansplaining.

MansplainAnd one more very quick thing, a book I have very much been looking forward to not only released this week, it went immediately on sale! Tsh doesn’t know this, but we are kindred spirits. Contemplative and longing to wander. She actually wanders far more than I do, so I’m living vicariously through her.  I was willing to wait for my birthday to pick this up, but instead, I caved, bought it on sale, and already started it. Lovely.
Here’s a link to the digital version, which is the only version on sale.


Tsh Oxenrider, At Home in the World

 

Friends, I hope we all have a week filled with beauty and laughter and the encouragement of friends when the first two are hard to find.

Can I be Honest a moment? Thoughts from a disgruntled procrastinator

Can I be honest a moment? I really hate Georgia summer. I mean L-O-A-T-H-E with every fiber of my being.  I’m trying to convince myself that “at least the mornings are still cool; It’s not so bad.”  But we’re already running the air conditioning every day, and I’m super bummed about it.  If there is a hotter, more humid, more unrelenting place in the world, I never ever ever ever want to go there. Blech.


I started a modified whole 30 eating plan on Monday. It’s mostly ok until the evening rolls around. Then I want to eat all the things including actual non-edible objects.  I’ve eaten nearly a pound of pistachios in three days in an attempt to keep myself from throwing down cheese, or chocolate chips or rice or bread.  On Wednesday, I almost murdered every person I encountered including the people who are the actual lights of my life and my dog.  I’m over that now, but those evening munchies are hanging right on.

I can’t stop watching Gilmore Girls. Call me late to the party again, but I have never watched it before. I started in January (after we entered political bizarro world) and finally, I have made it to season seven.  It’s like I’m cramming for the world’s most caffeinated and cleverly dialogued exam. I’m binge watching six or seven episodes a day. Must. get. to. the. end. so I can live again. Yes, I will totally watch A Year in the Life. NO! No one has spoiled it for me, so keep your opinion to yourself, Missy! (Oh hey, there’s some of the Whole 30 anger).

I am the world’s worst procrastinator. It’s something I struggle with all the time, and while I have made huge strides with it, I still find myself putting off what needs to be done. Then I rush, rush, rush at the end and beat myself up for it. Isn’t that a mean way to be to myself? I’m just sharing this because it’s 6pm Friday night, and I am only now sitting down to write today. All day long, I knew I needed to do this but I didn’t. So here I am. This whole self-awareness thing, and finishing what I start thing, and being creative thing, it’s easier in the morning. Please remind me of that tomorrow.

 Seriously, what is up with Starbucks and unicorns? Why are people acting so shocked and appalled at this drink (which looks like fairy vomit if you ask me.)? I’ll sit down and drink a cup of Starbucks any day, but friends, all their flavored drinks are sugared up garbage. It’s fine if you like it because every person gets to make their own choices about what they put in their body. But let’s all take a deep breath and stop acting like Starbucks has crossed some sort of moral sugar line with their latest drink option.  If you thought it was healthy to begin with, unicorns aren’t the only delusion you may need to be concerned about.

Incidentally, I don’t know if it’s the dreadful advent of summer or the fact that I just watched a Christmas episode of Gilmore Girls–complete with snow–but today I listened to the first Christmas music of 2017. It may be a record. I swear it was only a song or two, but still. It’s April. My anywhere-but-here vibes are spilling over my holiday boundaries. Maybe I’ll just have a little mini-Christmas celebration each month on the 25th.

Just in case you thought I have it all together all the time around here, I thought I’d take a moment to be honest. Some days are good. Some are bad, and some you just lay your cards on the table and air the whole thing out. And now, I have another Gilmore Girl episode calling my name.

The intersection of margin and play: A Playful Manifesto reboot

Nothing feels more expansive to me than an unscheduled stretch of time.  When I take a day to refocus, I swear, I can actually feel my brain, my physical brain, relax.  Learning how to create margin in my schedule and responsibilities is an on-going process, but I am getting much better at it.

While I not looking at my to-do list and not vacuuming the bedroom, my brain was deliciously occupied with plans and fun projects for the summer (I can barely stand not to write about it today, but I’m saving that fun for the weekend. It’s going to be great!). I hooked new yarn and dreamed about our new bed. For a little while, I stood outside and glowered at the tomatoes which aren’t going to grow anymore apparently.  I watched an episode of Gilmore Girls, or seven. What?!! I’m almost done with the whole show!

In other words, today was great big unruly, lazy, restful enjoyment, and I don’t feel one bit guilty about it. It’s true; I require a good deal of margin to be at my best, but I’ve decided my best is worth the wait.

Last week, I planned to start a sort of throw-back Thursday theme, sharing writing which originally appeared on the Middle Places blog (A moment of silence, please.  They were good years). Instead, I decided not to stress over an in-depth project today.

However, while I was sorting through the word treasures, I found this fun little piece from last summer, which completely fits my mood today.  I remember feeling full of hope and inspiration when I wrote it. Which helps me believe that maybe I don’t hate everything anymore. Maybe I just hate some things, now. It seems a little writing, running, music, booking and hooking and great deal of margin is exactly what I need in this season.

So as a reminder to us all: The playfulness manifesto, a reboot

 

Playful Manifesto

Today, I will not lose myself in the mundane or the hum-drum.
Time is precious and happy memories last a lifetime;
No one reaches the end of their days with regret over unwashed laundry.

I may make a to-do list, but I reserve the right to leave items for tomorrow.
I may sleep in, or I may get up early to see the sunrise.
Some weeks I will do both,
And take naps.

Refusing to hurry, I will waste time.
If there is cake, I will eat it.
As often as possible
Yes! will be my response to myself and my loved ones.
I will read books that make me feel.
I will watch movies and eat popcorn.
Since, both ice cream and watermelon both have healing properties,
I will have second helpings of both

I will smile often,
Be in pictures with my family.
 The words “beach body” or “bikini ready”
will not be a measure of self worth.
I will wear pajama pants at inappropriate hours.
As the sun sets,
I will drive fast with the windows down and the radio on
Full blast.
I will live in the moment.
When I forget to live in the moment,
I will breath deeply and try again.
Then I will try again.
I won’t stop trying.

I will swim in the lake.
 Lie in the sun,
Rest.
I will stop looking at the time while rushing everywhere.

Playfulness is as important to life as discipline and responsibility.
I will not lose myself in in should and must.
Instead, I will laugh, because laughter is a miracle.
Embracing imperfection I will remember
just because I can’t do a thing perfectly doesn’t mean I shouldn’t do it.
It’s perfectly acceptable to be weird.
or eat cake and ice cream for breakfast.
I don’t have to conform to the modern definition of anything.

 Now, let’s go out and play.

Something Fun Sunday: Episode one

I think that success is having fun. – Bruno mars


Last week, I shared about my Sunday struggles
, and my plan to reframe how I feel by adding something fun each week.  I dubbed it “Something Fun Sunday.” This week, I made sure to take notice of books, events, songs, and moments so I could share them today.  I’m pleased to say, it worked! I was definitely more mindful of enjoyable moments. I anticipated their arrival and savored them longer, and then reflected on them more often in further anticipation of writing about it.  These are all keys to happiness. Without further ado, here’s Some fun things for Sunday
I’m an unashamed Marvel movies fan. No, I didn’t grow up reading the comic books, and I don’t know all the lore and back stories. I just know I enjoy a good completely imaginary action flick.  So when Craig showed me the new Thor: Ragarok trailer, I was thrilled! It’s not many movie trailers which make me laugh aloud, but this one does. “I know him! We’re friends from work!” I crack up every time. Watch it here.

Two books added to my enjoyment this week. While I tend more towards literary fiction and non-fiction, some weeks I want cozy chic-lit filled with tears and laughter and a guaranteed happy ending.  I want a great story about relationships and life and the crazy way its beautiful and terrible all at the same time. This week, I found it in Taylor Jenkins Reid’s One True Loves.  I don’t want to give anything away, but, friends, if you need a cozy good book this week, this is it.

On Thursday night, my book group gathered (more fun things!), and we ended up talking about an entirely different book. The Happiness Project is a long-time favorite.  In fact, I’m undertaking a happiness project of my own this year. I reread this book almost annually and was so excited it came up because it’s currently $1.99 on Kindle. I don’t know how much longer this deal will last, so if you decide to read it too, I wouldn’t wait too long to buy it. Incidentally, when I talk about how anticipating, experiencing and remembering an event increases happiness, that’s a concept I learned from Gretchen Rubin.

I’m a bit late to the bandwagon (aren’t I always?) We’ve had family premium on Spotify for about six months now, and the whole experience is wonderful. I’d forgotten how much I like music, and how entwined my mood and music can be. New music at my finger tips and the ability to make playlists for every mood?  YES, PLEASE!! EVERY DAY ALL DAY LONG!  A couple weeks ago I ran across this little gem, and I’ve probably listened to it sixty-eight times since then. So now I share it with you, enjoy!

Something fun Sunday: building new habits

I’m currently at odds with Sunday. Yes, I experience conflicting emotions about days of the week. Welcome to my world. On Sundays, if I have experiences I find difficult, I try to regain balance by also doing something fun which restores rather than depletes me. Over the last year, I’ve begun to embrace the narrative that self-care is not selfishness.

As a church go-er, I find myself faced with two conflicting messages. The first says, die to self. We do this by giving up our needs, desires, wants, personality traits, and ideas and conforming to cultural norm of Christianity. Individuality and self-care are ranked beneath meeting others’ needs and a long list of behavioral expectations.  The second says, we are fearfully and wonderfully made. It challenges us to fully embrace our quirks and personalities as evidence of the Divine Creator. Yes, we all have rough edges to smooth, and issues to redirect, but we were designed to be who we uniquely are.

The first message has always been the loudest in my life. The second is newer and scarier. It leaves room for growth and error, and is definitely not one-size-fits-all.  By granting love and acceptance, it shifts responsibility for my life from a religious institution to my own imperfect shoulders.  While I do not disagree with the concept of dying to self, I’m so tired of only believing there is nothing good in me.

Ironically, the more self-aware I become, the more balanced my view of self is. Yes, there’s dross worthy of the trash heap, but there’s some amazing material, as well.  My personality and desires, the things I love, the ways I relate and relax, these divinely inspired pieces aren’t inherent flaws.  I am, all at once, random splices of DNA, a construct of my environment, and an unquenchable, creative being, utterly unique in the entire universe.  I exist as I am for a purpose.

Embracing this narrative hasn’t been an easy journey.  I lose sight of the revelation often, caught up in the cycle of perfection and approval again. It’s true that old habits die hard, but they do die.

Which brings me back to being at odds with Sundays. When life presents us with difficult circumstances, sometimes we can just pack up and walk on.  If we can’t escape, we turn to coping mechanisms to diffuse emotionally charged experiences. Whether these coping skills are healthy or unhealthy depends on tools and self-awareness. Personally, I have my share of unhealthy habits which have done me no favors.

Instead, as part of my 100-day writing project, I’m starting a new thing: Something fun Sundays. I don’t know about you, but left on its own, my mind tends to spiral downward. But if I retrain it to watch for something fun, and share these things with you, I get quadruple the enjoyment. I get to anticipate, experience, remember and share.  I can’t escape an emotionally entangled situation, but I can, perhaps, reframe it by surrounding with things I enjoy.  If Sunday can’t be my favorite day of the week, it can at least be one I look forward to and savor.

What strategies do you use to cope with emotionally charged situations?