Compassion is not religious business, it is human business. It is not luxury, it is essential for our own peace and mental stability. It is essential for human survival.
When I read the prompt for this week's Think Write Thursday post, it made me chuckle. How I stay positive when it feels like everything is going wrong. Because ... well. This has been my daily struggle for a while now. Y'know?
So much going wrong.
So many attempts to stay positive.
So many ways this blog post could go.
Like . . . I could write about meditation and mindfulness practice. (Because that helps. A lot.) Or I could write about journaling. (Because that is essential for my well-being.) Or I could write about the power of a good workout. (Because pushing your body is powerful and sweat is GOOD.) Or I could write about knitting or weeding or drawing. (Because those activities are grounding and help me find my center.)
But, instead . . . I'm going to write about Ziploc bags.
You see, somewhere back in time - probably college; maybe earlier - when I first started dealing with time management issues and that feeling-like-everything-is-going-wrong thing - I came up with a sort of Scarlet O'Hara tomorrow-is-another-day approach to dealing with things.
Stick it in a Ziploc.
Yep. Just stick that thing/idea/future to-do item/problem in a Ziploc bag. Seal it up nice and tight. And store it in your brain.
The trick? Keep. It. Sealed. Do NOT let it out.
And, just like real Ziploc bags of real stuff in your real life, that thing/idea/future to-do item/problem will just sit there in your brain.
And you can open that Ziploc bag whenever you are ready. Or when it is time. (Or somewhere between 2:30 and 4:00 am, when the seals, sadly, tend to be at their weakest.)
I'm not talking about denial here. I'm just talking about compartmentalizing. When things/ideas/ future to-do items/problems are overwhelming and when it feels like they're all closing in on you and you just can't manage . . . that's when it's time to do a little sorting-and-storing.
Fill up your Ziploc bags with things that you really can deal with/think about/do LATER -- so you can deal with the more immediate issues NOW.
It works for me!
I really can't believe it's the middle of October already.
Thankfully, we've had several very nice fall days lately. Lovely afternoons where I can sit in my swing for a few minutes and . . . well . . . just pull things together in my head.
Which is a good thing. Because I've got a lot of stuff going on right now.
Many, many balls in the air.
(And if you don't happen to hear from me for a day or two? It probably just means I got hit in the head with one of my flying objects...)
(Such was the case yesterday.)
Have a great weekend. (I'll be remembering that last year at this time . . . I was at Rhinebeck!)
I've been Not Blogging since August 11.
I'm going to admit it . . . it's been rather nice to not "think in blog" over the past couple of weeks. There are just too many other things to stress and worry over right now.
In fact, I can see . . . never blogging again.
Because it is so hard to be upbeat and cheery when life just . . . isn't.
I'm traversing some uncharted territory. Picking my steps carefully and trying not to fall over the edge. Nothing feels quite right at the moment. I'm not eating or sleeping well. I haven't worked out in weeks. I'm not knitting or gardening or drawing. I'm not blogging.
Nothing is normal.
Last night, laying there in bed (not sleeping, of course), I decided I need to flip the switch. I am not going to be able to face what is ahead of me if I don't . . . seek some Normal in my life.
I'm going to yoga tonight.
I'm going to do some deadheading and weed-pulling in my garden.
And I'm going to blog.
Because I NEED some Normal. (And I also need all of you.)
Summer . . .
My goals this summer are really pretty simple. I want to . . .
- Spend as much time as I can outside, soaking up the sun and enjoying the hot, summer air. (It's what gets me through the winter.)
- Mix things up a bit in my garden beds. Nothing drastic -- just moving a few things around and into better "spots." (It happens. Things grow differently - or bigger - than you first imagine. And then you have to do a little housekeeping.)
- Plant a tree. (Or two).
- Visit faraway places. (Kind of a no-brainer at this point, since I leave for Scotland and Ireland in a couple of weeks.)
- Enjoy some of my favorite places closer to home. (Can you say Lake Michigan beaches?)
- Unplug from the Internet now and again. (I give up. I'm retreating back into my cave.)
- Sit outdoors and try more plein air watercolor painting. (My latest art class - now complete - involved 4 weeks of painting plein air. Intriguing. But I need a lot more practice!)
- Bike the Kal-Haven Trail. (Possible plans for this Friday. Let's hope the weather cooperates.)
- Try a paddle board on our lake up north. (I'm looking for an on-sale, low-end paddle board. Because that's all I'd need.)
- Sit on the patio - or up at the lake - and watch the fireflies. (My all-time favorite summer wonder.)
How about YOU? What's on your summer bucket list?
Find out what everyone else has to say here.
I'm sure many of you are aware that Kalamazoo is the latest (in a way too long line-up*) of cities-in-the-news because Senseless Gun Violence.
Today, as I write this post . . . well. Let's just say I'm rambling, and not really sure where it's going to go. Because This Is My Town, Damnit. And I'm still processing.
But I'm going to start here. With a BB.
One day last spring, I was out walking my dogs -- and I got shot in the leg with a BB. (That very BB. I saved it.) It hurt like hell. But, mostly, I was shocked. It could have been just kids playing around, an errant BB ricocheting off a tree. But I couldn't quite get over the feeling of . . . being shot AT. Like . . . on purpose. Someone with pretty good aim . . . considered me (or maybe my dogs) a target. I limped home that day, and called the police. They were nice -- but it was already too late for them to do anything. (And apparently they don't run ballistics on BB pellets.)
I was really angy about my BB incident. I mean . . . I was just out walking. In my neighborhood. Where I feel safe. And where I should never be shot at.
Because, you see, the Social Contract is in place. Organized society depends on - and is invested with - the right to secure mutual protection and welfare. In other words, I can walk the streets . . . and you won't shoot me.
I'm not trying to compare the my own silly little BB incident to the carnage here in my city on Saturday night. Not even close. But I am saying that random shootings - like we've had FAR TOO MANY OF - are a disruption of the Social Contract.
People should be able to load their children into the van . . .
Or shop for cars in a dealer's lot . . .
Or go out for dinner after seeing a show . . .
(Or go to school. Or to a movie. Or a Christmas party. I'm sure you get my drift.)
WITHOUT FEAR OF BEING SHOT AT!!!
Because these are NORMAL, every day activities.
Things we all do.
And we should be able to do them . . . without thought. Without pause. Without fear.
Because that's the Social Contract.
(I so thank all of you who contacted me via text, email, and Facebook yesterday. It meant so much. XO.)
* According to the Washington Post, the Kalamazoo shootings on Saturday night represented the 42nd "mass shooting" this year. It's only February, folks. That means . . . mass shootings have happened in the US in 2016 (so far) at pretty close to . . . well . . . once per day. This. Is. Appalling.
Hope smiles from the threshold of the year to come.
--- Alfred Lord Tennyson
I'm not a big fan of New Year's resolutions, but I do like to take some time at the end of each year to kind of . . . take stock . . . and think about the year to come. I usually set some goals for myself (which are not really the same thing as resolutions at all), and I always come up with a list of two-word intentions for the new year.
Here's my list for 2016:
Live in color.
Here's to 2016! I have a feeling it's going to be a very interesting year.
I raised Brian to grow up and become . . . himself. To follow his own path. To discover his own life. To leave me. It has always brought me great joy . . . to watch him UNFOLD . . . right before my eyes.
I'm especially happy that Brian and Lauren found each other. The two of them seem just perfect for each other. As a Mom, there is really nothing better than watching your kid . . . grow up and find happiness.
And I am seeing that in Brian now . . . because of Lauren. I am looking forward to seeing the future the two of them create TOGETHER. I'm going to love watching their lives continue to . . . UNFOLD.
Last week, I sent Lauren a note (saying pretty much the same as above) along with a little "token" -- a symbol, I guess, of my passing Brian's childhood into her hands (and heart) . . . for the next phase of his journey.
I'm confident that Mr. Bun is in good hands!
Tom and I spent much of Sunday prepping the yard and garden for the colder months ahead. We brought in the patio furniture and unhooked the hoses. We composted spent containers and stored my garden tchotchkes in the garage. We cut back plants and unhooked the pond pumps and emptied the rain barrel.
And all the while, I KonMari'd!
I sorted through everything garden-related.
My "garden shelves" in the garage.
The potting bench.
All the garden tchotchkes I was bringing in for storage.
I sorted it all!
Turns out . . . a lot of things were broken or rusted or past their "use by" date. And several things just don't bring me joy anymore.
Now, that shelf (above) looks like this . . .
And my storage bins are filled ONLY with the garden items that bring me joy.
KonMari. . . scoring another WIN!
The One Little Word prompt for September involved writing a letter to . . . yourself. Here's mine.
I know you were looking for . . . something . . . when you chose the word JOURNEY for 2015. I know you wanted to wander (a little) off the comfortable and well-worn path of your life. You used the words "shake up." You used the words "explore" and "discover" and "get a little lost."
And, as usually happens with this One Little Word thing, you get what you're looking for. (That's why you sign up every year, right? That's why you put up with all the prescribed arts-and-crafts scrapbooking bullshit and commercial "kits," isn't it?) Because, turns out, the process - and the monthly prompts - all work for you.
OLW strikes again.
Life took you on a JOURNEY you weren't quite expecting when you signed on to this gig. You landed in some kind of wilderness - one that you wouldn't have picked for yourself and really didn't expect. And -- AH! -- that's the real beauty of a JOURNEY. Sometimes you know where you're headed, and sometimes you don't. I kind of remember . . . that you were hoping for a JOURNEY where you didn't quite know where you were headed.
And. Well. That's what you got!
Now that you're moving again -- out of that wilderness and onto a path you didn't know existed back in January - you've learned a few things.
Like. . .
Heading out on a JOURNEY when you don't exactly know where you're going . . . is risky.
Getting lost . . . means being uncomfortable.
And (like with any trip), it's important to pack lightly. Which means . . . letting go. Getting rid of what you don't really need. Ideas. Objects. People who drag you down. Commitments you shouldn't have made in the first place.
Because being lost -- really being lost -- and wandering (even flailing) in the wilderness for a while might just be the best way to find out who you are, what you might want to do, and how you want to live the rest of your life.
When you set out on a JOURNEY - any kind of journey - you should expect to come back changed. And, y'know, you don't get to direct what that change will be. It just . . . happens.
Here's to "getting lost." And "exploring." And "discovery." Here's to "shaking things up."
"Cherish your wilderness." -- Maxine Kumin