Taking Time To Play

In every real man a child is hidden that wants to play. ~Friedrich Nietzsche

 

Most of you know that I get to spend a lot of time playing. I play during the week with the kids I watch, and I always play with my dog, Wylie. It keeps me young, at least on the inside. On the weekends, I usually take time to play in the great outdoors by hiking or biking. I also have hobbies I engage in. I enjoy sewing and various other crafts.

This weekend I focused on playing. I spent all day Saturday with my goddaughter. Then that night I got to see my godson who taught me how to play a video wrestling game. It was very important to him that I learn how to play it. You just never know when those skills might come in handy! We played and we laughed, and I felt better for it.

As adults, we tend to forget the importance of play. We even forget quite how to play. I remember telling my kids as teenagers to act their age, to cut out the playing and get to their school work. What a spirit breaker I was! Not to fear, they still remember how to play and still engage in lots of fun activities and sports.

There are many reasons that we adults should continue playing our way through life. Play fosters creativity. Artists need to make time to play and get their creative juices flowing. It stimulates the imagination and allows self expression. This is yet another plus for artists. Participating in playful activities and games alleviates stress, boosts our immune systems, and lifts our spirits. This is beneficial for all. Playing energizes and strengthens our mental and physical skills. I know with my own lack of clarity and coordination skills, I am one who needs fun and rewarding brain and body exercise. It brings our inner child to the surface thus making us feel happy, free, and even lighter. Yes, play is healthy for us. It gives us a connection to other people, our community, and our environment. Playing satisfies our curiosity. Playing is just plain fun. Generally, when we play we wind up laughing. Everyone knows that laughter is contagious. It puts us all in better frames of mind. It makes us feel good from the inside out.

Do you take time to play? Do you have any hobbies or activities that you engage in on a regular basis? Do you swim, hike, or play golf? D you sew, wood work, paint, or write? What do you do for fun? Taking time to act like a child is not a waste of time. It is a necessary nutrient to a healthy lifestyle. There’s no need to turn it into a major competition. Just take it from dogs and small children and enjoy it for the fun it is.

One of the virtues of being very young is that you don’t let the facts get in the way of your imagination. ~Sam Levenson

A Mark Of Friendship

We depend on friendship much in the way we depend on dinnerware…yes, I said dinnerware. And Yes, I am going there. Friends also fall very much into the same categories of china, every day and fine.

We have friends that we’re in contact with on a daily basis. Those are most often our “go to” people. They might have a chip here or there, but we wouldn’t trade them for the world. They are like family to us. They are dependable and trustworthy. And some of those same people have been around forever. You’ve been through both the good and bad times together and to the ends of the earth for one another. They carry the rigid and lasting qualities of porcelain. And then there is bone china which is a bit thinner, but more durable and of even better quality.

While I’m at it, I may as well talk about disposable goods. The kind you use and throw away. We all have acquaintances that we can take or leave. We might have fun with them on occasion, but we have no emotional connection with them. And then there are the people who slip into our lives at one time or another and disappear. Sometimes we never know quite why they were there until much later in life, even if then. And there are even those people that are totally deceptive as they enter our lives under false pretenses. Those are like imitation china. They appear to be something they are not, and it is not obvious until under intense scrutiny.

They say that the marks of chinaware are often the least reliable sources of identification. The mark of chinaware is the pattern label. Hence, some might wear the label of “friend” and then betray us later. We often refer to the opinions of others when choosing our pattern. It’s pattern label might refer to it’s endurance, only to find out it’s not true at all. The name may carry a mark of reliability and prove otherwise. We might pick up a lesser known brand and find that it more than serves our purpose. We also might not be looking for the same qualities that are important to others. If you’re lucky you’ll find a one of a kind pattern that can’t be duplicated. Sometimes, you have to look past the label and let it’s attributes speak for itself.

Today, I am thankful for everyday fine china. I am smiling today because of four (yes, four!) telephone conversations with a good friend. This is a friend I’ve known since before I became the me I am today. We’ve been through times of upheaval and times of great joy together though we don’t always see eye to eye. We have the same values in life, but we approach life differently as we don’t always focus on the same thing. We’ve even suffered times of drought, yet we always come back to one another for sustenance and maintenance. We’ve been angered and perplexed by one another’s decisions. We’ve felt another’s pain. We’ve taken pride in one another’s accomplishments. We’ve inspired one another. At one time, we were almost inseparable. The fact is that we seldom see each other anymore, but we talk often. We continue our journey of friendship together. I don’t question or examine it. I accept it for what it is, and I’m thankful.

While fine china makes a statement of elegance, so does a good friend. My every day china is fine china. Others may not know their value, but those of us who have it do.

Is It Really All About Us?

“Mine!”

“Give it to me!”

“My turn!”

“Watch me!”

Children, it’s all about them. At what age did we grow out of it? When do we learn that we are not the center of the universe? I suppose some people never learn that lesson.

I’ve worked with small children for a number of years. It is quite a marvel to watch them grow “into themselves”. They learn to share and be polite to others. (At least, most learn these things.) They don’t actually catch on to taking turns until they are close to two and a half.

As a child, I was selfish and spoiled. Being the youngest of six children, I was catered to quite a bit. And then suddenly, I was the only one left at home. You probably think that is when I really became spoiled, but not true. I might have taken center focus, but my parents were surely not suckers! I was told if I was being unreasonable, which I am sure was quite often.

I got married and learned the art of negotiation. Still, I struggled to make it all about me. I don’t think it was until I had my first child that I realized I’d give my life without hesitation to give him life. It then became all about the children.

We became a family of givers. We volunteered within our community. We taught our children responsibility and compassion.

Our children grew up. We now find we have lots of time on our hands, but we seem to volunteer less and less. While we still do for others, we take time for us, meaning each other and ourselves. I think we’ve earned this “right” and deserve this opportunity. Yet still, at times I feel guilty. I spend my days nurturing others and wish I could still nurture my children, but alas they have grown independent. My job is done. As gratifying as that is, it is sad none the less.

I’ve always been a person with many creative hobbies that give me an outlet of self-expression. Writing is one of them. It has always been mostly about me…exploring my thoughts and more recently my spirituality. And now I wonder, am I making it all about me. It’s a two fold answer for me. When I am examining my spirituality, it is not just all about me. It involves something much bigger and greater than me, and it involves everyone I touch to an extent. And then again, I sometimes wonder if it is all just selfishness on my part. In my process, I’m trying to find connections to the mundane. As I often point out, I’m attempting to find the extraordinary in ordinary moments. I’m becoming appreciative of my blessings.

As I listen to the rain spit and splatter on the roof and I see it fall from a cloudy colorless sky onto the needles of the tall pines in my yard, I can’t help but feel the wet freshness wash across my soul. I am both soothed and renewed. I wonder how many others smiled with the grass today as the rain encouraged us to grow. No, I don’t think there is anything selfish about nature…it’s here for all of us. We can play in it or ponder over it. The choice is ours. So, while we grown ups might not be the center of the universe, maybe the universe is the center of us.

Living In Action Rather Than Reaction

A life of reaction is a life of slavery, intellectually and spiritually. One must fight for a life of action, not reaction. ~Rita Mae Brown

Are you the type of person who takes action when needed or who reacts to situations at hand? Do you allow people to incite you to anger and cause you to lash out? I am guilty of having reacted on more than one occasion in my life. I can honestly say, that it has never been fruitful for myself or the recipient of my ire. When I’ve taken time to think things through or plan a course of action, results have been much more productive for all involved. Whenever I act hastily, it is out of emotion. When I am led by emotion, I am not making a balanced decision. What I choose to do affects others. I have to remind myself of repercussions of my reactions. It’s like a ripple effect. I am getting better at squashing my reactions . At times, it is a power struggle within myself to wait out the situation. I realize that when I allow myself to react, I am allowing the creator of the drama to win by enticing me into the battle.

There are people who like to create drama. Each of us have them in our lives. We often nickname them drama queens. Some are even more toxic than that. They like to stir up everything around them and then sit back and watch what happens. And then there are those who think everything is about them. They will take situations that have nothing to do with them and make themselves the star. They are selfish enough to want everyone to think everything is about them. They try to appear as if they are being victimized when the situation in fact has nothing to do with them. Those are the type of people we are healthier to distance ourselves from.

Reaction is often akin to vengeance. It usually says more about the person reacting than the person for whom it is intended. We encounter these instances all the time in reality and on the social media networks. When I am eye to eye with someone, I have the choice of calling them out on their actions or simply walking away. My decision is based on the person and the incident. On the social networks, I choose to ignore those who provoke controversy for their own pleasure. I don’t mind disagreement, but I dislike it when people butt into situations or drag others into it or resort to saying rude things. It is not necessary. I see things all the time that I do not like, but it doesn’t mean that I must jump into the middle of it. When people resort to bullying others through words, start name calling, or use “hate” language, I think they’ve gone too far. I think people who initiate these sort of things are on power quests. Maybe it gives them a false sense of superiority when they step off of the hot seat and push someone else onto it.

I have recently had instances where I’ve seen people make comments on other people’s posts that have indicated the true character of the reactor rather than disclaiming the person intended. I used to be in contact with people who made everything about them or had a habit of stirring up controversy, and when called out would switch stances to appease both sides of the issue at hand. My blood would boil every time I saw a (Facebook) post, and I would just ignore it. Then, another senseless controversy was started, one in which the basis was proven not be factual, but this person wanted drama. I never commented; I simply “unfriended” this person. I could have chosen to push the block button, but I had no reason to be “friends” with this person. We have no current connection or reason of contact. Although I contemplated doing this for months when I finally pushed the button, I felt relieved and guilty at the same time. While I did it out of emotion at the moment, I decided that I was tired of watching someone throw a bone and step away to let the dogs fight over it…too much drama for me. But in all fairness, my reaction says just as much about me as it does about this person…still, I stand by my code of ethics. (And I’m sure this person stands by theirs.)

In the game of life, we can be active participants, cheerleaders on the sidelines, or hecklers in the crowd. Being active is healthy for us. Having people cheer us on inspires us to reach our potential. Cheering others on helps them and makes us feel connected. But hecklers? What purpose do they serve but to cause frustration, anger, and other negative emotions? Do hecklers really find pleasure in their actions? Does it give them a sense of power to make other feels displeasure? Why can’t we all play on the same team? I know life doesn’t work like that….but seriously can’t people learn to debate in a healthy manner?

While our differences are what makes the world an interesting place and we don’t have to agree on all issues, it would be beneficial for all if we could be respectful. If we could spend our time actively seeking positive changes, we’d have less energy to react negatively. If we (myself included) could learn to react with compassion, we might make more of a difference than we think.

The prudent see danger and take refuge, but the simple keep going and pay the penalty. -Proverbs 27:10

Taking Time Out

I don’t know about you, but I have so many things that tussle with and tug at me in life, I find it necessary to rest. I’m not even talking about taking a break from the demands put on me by people or the pressures of a job. I am talking about taking a time out from my own head and heart…or maybe not a time out from them, but a rest from my body to let them flow freely. When I take a time out, I find that the stillness of the moment is anything but still. Nor is it silent. Yet, it is serene. My senses take over and it is at this moment that spirit speaks to my soul through my surroundings.

I have elected today to take you on a hike with me. I am not only going to show you photographs of where we’re going, but I’m going to take you with me on an internal journey. I’m going to tell you what speaks to me as I photograph, what awakens me, what moves me… You can declare me crazy when we’re finished, and that’s ok with me as well. For your information (in case you need more ammo!), I talk to myself as well. And I’ve even been known to answer myself! When I chance upon something this ethereal, I must stop, look, listen, and breathe it all in before I can move on. This is why I often lag behind on our hikes. While I am enjoying the company of my husband and the exuberance of the dog, there is always something much deeper in progress.

The swamp is encased in ice. The sun shines through the trees and travels down the Spanish moss to the glossy surface. The occasional gurgle indicates that life still moves beneath the ice. Some sticks, leaves, and swamp weeds are trapped midway in ice between water and air. The wind tickles and moves them here and there. Between sun, water, and ice, possibility is aglow in the scenery. Had I not stopped, I would have missed the “stillness” of this moment. It was the tranquility and hope that moved my heart.

There is something utterly romantic, almost magical about Spanish moss. I love that it can grab anything and spring to life. What it plants itself to is not actually it’s host. It is an air plant that gets all it needs from the air and rain. I suppose it is more or less ornamental to that to which it adheres itself. The wind can blow it apart and the pieces will attach to something else and flourish. But while it is clingy, it grows freely and swings in the breeze. It bends, spirals, flattens, and conforms however it must to continue it’s purpose, whatever that purpose might be. Maybe it’s resilience is what intrigues me.

The marsh reeds have gently laid themselves down in a single direction. It is as if they have made a path of time with the wind from the sandy trail to the water’s edge. The milky softness of the clouds reach out to the ripples of the creek until you can’t see where one begins and the other ends. It reminds me of the ripple effect of our actions, how grace can multiply and extend in ways we’ve never imagined. I think of how one small act touches another and so on and how we never know the outcome of something as simple as a smile, hug, or a kind word.

Sometimes, I feel the sun warm my shoulders as it peeks through the trees that stretch over the creek banks. I listen to the water trickle, and it soothes me as it always had since I was a small child. I hear the leaves rustle with the hustle and bustle of busy squirrels, and I even hear the boring of woodpeckers in the distance. And even on occasion I catch a glance of a fish surfacing. Amidst all this outward action, I am usually spinning words in my head. Sometimes, I get ahead of myself and try to force what I am thinking. I try to speak for myself. I am gently nudged to wait and let the material work itself out. I know I must file it away and when it is ready it will come back. My head always questions whether it will come back. My heart assures that it’s ok if it doesn’t. If and when the time is right, it will resurface, just as the sun bounces from treetops to water’s surface and back again.

The tide controls the water, lapping it against the shore and drawing it’s design in the sand. Time moves me as well and etches it’s design through my soul, across my skin, and displays itself in my life and all that I touch.

Life throughout the marsh and creek await uncertainty, never knowing exactly where or how brightly the sun will shine. The ice depends on the sun to thaw, and the thaw will in turn rise the water levels of the swamp and creek. All that live within and around it will be touched.

This photograph comes courtesy of Dirt Man taking a time out. I think he has perfectly captured hope among what appears to be a dead and frozen swamp. I see life in the green foliage in the foreground and possibility as the sun shines through the darkened region of the swamp land. It is like being in a desolate place emotionally and knowing that grace exists, and having the courage to look up at the sky and reach out your hand. He might not always be able to write out the words of my head and heart, but he knows just how to capture it with a photograph.

Living Life The Best We Can

There are times in life that we feel like everyone wants a piece of us. They seem to grab us and hang on for the ride. They literally suck the life out of us. We feel stifled, smothered, and tangled. Sometimes, we just need to learn to say “no”.

Other times, we worry until we tend to manifest knots through out our bodies and souls. We think everyone’s well-being is up to us. We can’t let the people we love down. Sometimes, we need to realize that we need to make changes because a good massage just isn’t enough to take care of us.

We get hit at from every angle until we are filled with holes. We don’t have enough of a foundation to hold ourselves together. Sometimes, we need to take care of ourselves before we can help anyone else.

We can become twisted and bent, and seem to be reaching in all the wrong directions. We seem to have lost our balance in life. We’ve forgotten what is important. We’ve thrown away our dreams for the sake of others or maybe we’re depressed and cease to dream at all. While it’s good to be flexible, sometimes we do need to refocus and prioritize the people and things in our lives. And sometimes, we just need to slow down and take one moment at a time.

We can’t all be the big sprawling Oak tree that stretches, endures, and flourishes while letting nothing hinder it’s growth. The Oak started as an acorn with big dreams, and so can we. Sometimes, we just need to reach for the sky.

The sun doesn’t always warm our shoulders. At times, bitter winds bite at our faces. Some days our paths are less clearer than others. Sometimes, we just need to keep walking with our eyes on the Light above and trust that it will guide us home. 

A Segment Of Sometimes Series

Living In Relationship

About a week ago, I was on my way to Barnes and Noble and was listening to the radio. My hubby always turns it to talk radio. That is not my preference, however I’m the type of person who is not able to walk and chew gum at the same time…so the idea of driving and changing the radio station could prove to be catastrophic. Anyway, this female deejay was talking about how everyone at the station was always on the road, and she said, “I pass us all the time.” She was referring to how she passes her coworkers on the interstate, but they seldom actually see each other face to face. That one sentence grabbed me. I couldn’t wait to pull into the parking lot and write it down. Why? It was something I wanted to mull over a bit more. I started thinking how we pass “us” all the time in life, not on such a physical realm but an emotional one. We pass one another all the time in our own households, on the phone, and even in eye to eye meetings. We often physically connect, but not emotionally. We might even share emotions at times such as when we cheer on one another or grieve together. We even often tell others we love them. But how often do we tell them WHY we love them and what they truly mean to us. Are we afraid of rejection? Do we fear we are sharing too much of ourselves?

What does living in relationship mean to you? Or does it depend on with whom or what this relationship exists? And then things get all complicated when they get categorized into casual relationships and personal relationships. And then you can stretch it farther into spiritual, community, and work. It can be never ending. I suppose to most people a relationship simply means a connection. It is true that we connect on many levels with all sorts of people.

To me, a relationship is not that simple. A relationship is not superficial. A relationship is not something I enter to see what I can get out of it, though I am often well rewarded in ways that are beyond explanation. I am the type of person that I have many acquaintances, but few actually move up to what I consider friend status. Call me snobby if you want. I call it honesty. Don’t get me wrong. I like people. In fact, there are very few people I dislike or am truly annoyed by…and those people are usually infected with narcissism. To me a friend (whether a relative or otherwise) is someone whom I share an emotional connection. To me, relationship is a two-way emotional connection, a partnership of sorts.

This is not to say (and it sounds as if I am contradicting myself but hear me out.) that I don’t have any superficial relationships. I have them within my own family. I have superficial relationships in what I consider my community. Superficial relationships are surface relationships. You don’t deal on a receptive and giving level. It’s the type of relationship we have with most of our “friends” on Facebook or other social networks. And there are times we must sever connections with those people as well. I don’t do well with people who constantly cause drama, feed off controversy, or I have absolutely nothing in common with. And at the same time, I have had deeper connections with people I have never met personally through writing. Sound crazy? A relationship involves being able to hear words that are not spoken aloud. Same thing goes with reading between the lines or read into the tone of the message. Not everyone is able to do this. Is it a gift? I think it is a connection…not in the physical sense but the emotional one. I have actually had people email me after a post and ask how I am because they sensed that I was hinting at something much more than what my words pointed out.

Have you ever known someone (maybe your spouse) that you can sit and “just be” with? Are you able to look across the room and catch that person’s eye and know what he is thinking or be able to finish one another’s sentences? Are you able to make decisions for them (if needed) and know that it is exactly what they would have chosen? I call this living in relationship at it‘s best. We can’t all have that same level of intimacy with everyone as time and distance prevents it. However, don’t you have friends with whom you share great passions and common interests? Don’t you have people with whom you share dreams and life? Of course, we all talk about the weather and gossip (whether or not you admit it) at times. But do you talk about what makes each of you tick? Some people are not comfortable talking about emotions; however, they experience them all the same. Do you take time to acknowledge feelings even when not spoken? Sometimes that acceptance can be acknowledged with a smile, a touch on the shoulder, or a hug. I think each of us on some level seeks validation from the world and our relationships within it. It is equally important to have relationship with yourself. If it doesn’t make sense to you, take some time to think about it. It takes reflection on one’s soul and one’s motives. It takes courage and honesty. You must trust and accept yourself in order to give and receive it. I believe we were created to live in relationship, to not only exist together, but to love and live in communication. You don’t just live in this space with those people you are in relationship with, but those people live in this space you open in your heart.

Healing Within

I started writing when I was very young. I never knew quite why I wrote, only that I enjoyed it. In my thirties, I picked my pen back up and started writing with a purpose, though I didn’t realize there was a reason at the time. I turned to poetry. It was a form of self-expression that was cathartic for me. I was able to explore feelings, memories, and situations that made others, myself included, uncomfortable talking about. I was able to reach within myself and verbalize on paper things I couldn’t bring myself to say out loud. I also was afraid of what others would think of me if they knew my deepest, darkest thoughts. For a long time, I wrote for my eyes only. It was during this process that I encountered a book about poetry therapy. It was this book Finding What You Didn’t Lose by John Fox that opened a new world to me. It allowed me to explore and release things I held hostage inside me. He later came out with a second book Poetic Medicine that I found equally informative. That might not be the order in which they were written, but it was the order in which I read them. I even thought for a while that I’d like to go into poetic/art therapy. I still think it would be rewarding to help others break down the barriers and find catharsis.

Each of us at one time or another holds on to pain or negative emotions that we aren’t willing to acknowledge or work through. We must first own or accept it in order to let it go and free ourselves. We must not only learn to forgive others but to forgive ourselves as well. I think one of the biggest struggles is not to blame others for our circumstances. Sure, it might have been something someone else did that hurt us, but we must own our feelings. There is no room for finger pointing in healing. Our feelings are our responsibility. We have the power to release them. One has a choice of living in the past (no matter how painful it might have been) or forging ahead and creating new memories of positive light. It seems that most every good thing in life stems from love, so I use that as a starting point for myself.

Through poetry, writing in general, and many other art mediums, we are able to reflect on our pain, guilt, and any other emotion that is affecting our lives. We are given the opportunity to express these emotions, to let it them rise to the surface. We are able to take something nameless and give it a title, to make something beautiful out of it. We are able to cleanse our souls and move on with life. Of course, many artists create many beautiful works purely from those emotions that aren’t so desperate.

I realize people are different and work through their own reactions to their life circumstances however they see fit. I tried doing it myself in many ways that were not beneficial. Writing was the most rewarding to me. I wrote tons of gloomy poetry back in my day (and still do on occasion!). For years, I wouldn’t even look at it, and even once threw it all away, just to find out years later that I’d made copies of much of it. I find it interesting to see how much I’ve grown. I also see where I blamed anyone and everyone for my circumstances. I failed to accept responsibility for years. I can’t tell you for certain that writing enabled me to finally let go of the negativity or if it was trust in something greater than me. Maybe, it worked hand in hand. What I do know is that it took acceptance of my emotions, responsibility on my part, to let myself heal from the inside out. And though I long ago forgave those I blamed, it took forgiving myself, acceptance of my flaws to move on. And only after that was I able to find that inner peace I so desperately desired. I have found that nothing good comes from harboring ill feelings. I have no problem admitting that I still stumble and fall, and I just pick myself back up, dust myself off, and take another step. Life is a process, so I take one moment at a time and love along my way.

The Core Of Fear

Many of us (myself included at times) are driven by fear and even work from a place of fear. We fear things happening to those we love. We fear becoming known. We fear inadequacy. We even fear excellence. Some of our fears are irrational and some are quite rational. A healthy dose of fear can be a good thing, such as knowing not to run in front of traffic or handle poisonous snakes, unless of course you’re trained to do that. Not everyone is born fearless or skilled enough to pull off dangerous stunts like Evel Knievel, and I think he even suffered some major injuries and trauma! Fear is a natural response to danger, most of us want to get as far away from it as possible. At our very core, we have a “fight or flight” mechanism built in.

I have always been an anxious and fearful person. Can I blame my mother on this one? I don’t think so. While she instilled in me the fear of strangers…she’s certain almost everyone we don’t know is out to harm us, most likely axe murders or something! However, that isn’t my fear. I am afraid of heights (acrophobia), flying (aerophobia or aviophobia), spiders (arachnophobia), and snakes (ophidiophobia). And I used to even be afraid of the dark (achulophobia).

This past summer, I was given (aren’t I the lucky one?!) the opportunity to face some of those fears. I will not say conquer because doing something once or twice does not make me overcome it, but it does lessen the distress. Before we left on our trip out West, I had a few conversations that kind of fed my fear. First of all my mother insisted (no, demanded) that I be extremely careful. She mentioned my flying, climbing mountains, and the recent media frenzy of bedbugs. Then I spoke with my older brother who said he was glad I got to talk to him (such a funny guy!) in case I fell off a mountain and didn’t make it home. Then my elderly friend called and wanted my flight information in case she heard of a plane crash, she wanted to know whether we were on that flight. Then she told me that she would not rest until we returned because she was afraid some strange evil hiker would kill us in the wilderness. Then the final straw was my mother in law calling to inform me of the horrors of bedbugs in even five star hotels. She said that we needed to find out what kills them and bring it along to fumigate our mattress and room.

I decided that I could either let the fear lead my vacation which would make it unpleasant, or I could try to fit fear within my comfort zone. I tackled one issue at a time. The first one was flying. Had I ever been on a plane that crashed? No. Did I personally know anyone who died or survived a plane crash? No. Then came the worries about security. Did I know anyone who was hijacked? No. Ok then, even though there is a first time for everything, my fear of flying was mostly illogical. I decided to give it to God, and I actually boarded the plane with a sense of peace. Trust me, I never thought that would happen. I even got put through the body scanner on our return trip! No big deal there either! As far as climbing the mountains and scaling canyon slots, I focused on what was in front of me instead of below me. I admit I did not overcome my fear of Angel’s Landing and was glad we were unable to make that hike. (I need to be in much better physical condition to tackle that one.) Before we left, we did some research to find out what bedbugs infestation looked like etc….we checked our mattresses (even at the Mirage!) and all was well! I did not have to test my theory on snakes, though the answer is that I have never been bit by one, nor have I been bitten by a poisonous spider. I did come eye to eye with a couple of tarantulas on our hikes…and stared them down (or maybe they stared me down!) and went about my business. So at any rate, my fears were not rationally based. I faced them. I wish I could tell you the root of my fears, but I really don’t know. I supposed the key to getting past fear is by breaking down the walls and starting over. Or you can do what I really did and that was pray my way through scary situations. Hey, don’t knock it, it worked for me. Seriously. I think that if we can’t trust ourselves to protect ourselves, that putting our faith in something higher is certainly a valid answer. I can’t honestly tell you that I desire to climb up on the roof of my house or want a pet snake, or that I even purposely put myself in uncomfortable situations. I have come to the conclusion that I am only human and have only so much control. You can call it surrender if you want. I call it trust.

A Somewhat Disorderly Life

“Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans.” ~John Lennon (Beautiful Boy)

Isn’t there a saying that if you want to make God laugh, tell him about your plans? I used to make lots of plans, right down to the tiniest detail. He must have thought them really funny because the majority fell through, and even the ones I followed through never actually happened quite the way I planned. Fortunately, we are unable to see into the future and know the bigger picture. I am so thankful that many of my plans did not come to fruition.

I seem to function better flying by the seat of my pants than sticking to an agenda. Well, I actually like having a rough idea of what I am doing, but I don’t like having to adhere to a set-in-stone schedule. The strange thing is that I used to lives by lists, rules, and schedules. I wanted someone to tell me where to be and what to do. I liked knowing what I was up against in life. It gave me comfort. I felt responsible. I didn’t like what I called the feeling of floundering. And yet, some would probably consider me to be floundering through life these days. Daily, I am met with requirements and expectations, but if they fall out of order, I just go with it. It doesn’t do anyone any good for me to get my panties in a wad over it, and it certainly won’t help put order back in the day.

I don’t think anyone has ever been as disappointed in me as I have been in myself when I have not met self-imposed expectations. I’ve heard that one must manifest their dreams if they want them to come true. My problem is that I really don’t have one concrete dream. Well, yes, I enjoy writing, but I do it for the pleasure. I did want to finish the nonfiction book I was working on until I allowed myself to be put off by an agent’s opinion. No, she didn’t even look at my manuscript. She was on the receiving end of my ill-prepared book pitch at my writer’s conference last year. She didn’t listen…she actually stopped me and asked me if I had a PhD to which the answer was a most definite no. She then told me that unless I was a celebrity such as Oprah or had the proper letters following my name, that a nonfiction book based on experience would never sell. Ok, I could have steamed myself with negativity and desire to prove her wrong. What did I do…I still steamed myself with negativity for a few days, and then decided it was my cue to drop the book idea. So, maybe you call it surrender, but I realize that just because I think something is a beneficial idea that the rest of the world might not perceive it as so. (And after all, an agent’s job is the secure work that she/he feels is sellable.) I figure if it really is a dream, it has not died. (Trust me, I have NOT deleted my files!) I’ve considered picking up one of my fiction manuscripts and starting over, and as my friend, Ev, suggested I can always incorporate my material into one of my characters. Of course, with work I suppose it is possible, but I don’t know if I really want to do that. I don’t want to lose the pleasure of writing. I can write this blog without limitations. I can write when I want, as often or seldom as I want, and about what I want. So, maybe that is my dream. Maybe, I don’t need a hardback cover to encase my dream. Or do I? I must add that I have never aspired to be famous in anything I do. I like my life just the way it is. Yes, I am somewhat complacent…yet I am malleable. However, what I want most from anything I do (writing or otherwise) is not to entertain others but to help them in some small way, even if only to make them reflect their own choices on their lives.

Sometimes, life does not always go according to plan. You must be flexible, willing to take a different route, or to even pick up and start over. I used to flip out if things were out of order or did not go according to my plans. Somewhere along the way my balance has shifted. I have handed over control, and am enjoying the ride. After all, most of us had retirement plans, and most of our 401K’s took a nose dive last year. Our trip out West this past year was a prime example of having to step back and reevaluate situations. First we got locked out of our car in the middle of the wilderness. Well, ok, I depended on God and Dirt Man to get us out of that one…and they both delivered! However, we did have some major hikes planned, and then Dirt Man injured his leg. Fortunately, we had a Plan B and Dirt Man had lots of Google Earth knowledge stored in his head. I’m sure we’d have had a great time on those other hikes, but we were able to experience a vast amount of territory that we otherwise would not have covered. I say life is to be lived not just managed. My point is that if we get too caught up in the negative emotions of disappointment, we fail to appreciate was is right in front of us. We neglect to live in the moment. And you just never know…that one moment might just end up being the best one of your life.