Sunday, June 24, 2012

Lucky 11

My husband and I work hard at our marriage.  We've learned to communicate well (at least I think so), we don't let things fester, we don't expect each other to read one another's mind (well, he doesn't expect me to, but if I'm honest here, I do sometimes expect him to read mine).  We don't take ourselves too seriously, we laugh a lot, we try to make time in the midst of the busy-ness to "connect", to sit in one another's presence without a bunch of distractions (children, TV, computer, the newspaper) and just talk about what's going on.  Some weeks we are better about it than other and that is just the nature of marriage.  It's a move in and out of sync, and the times when you move out of sync, you are aware of it and do what you need to set it back on the right track.
Anyways, despite all of that, we probably don't make enough time to get away, just the two of us, without our little munchkins. 
It was our anniversary yesterday, 11 years and going strong.  We decided a couple of weeks ago we should try and get away for the weekend, or at least a night and we actually made it happen.  I always think it sounds good in theory and then get caught up in the details of making the arrangements and seem to get stuck.  So, I arranged for the child care and Sean took care of the plans, where we would go and stay.  We left home about 10 am on Saturday and headed south toward the Gorge.  It was pouring down rain, which didn't seem to dampen our mood in the least.  The freedom of being away and having one another's full attention and company is such a treat.  I think sometimes I forget how much I LIKE my husband. I always love him, of course, but sometimes I forget how much fun he is, how he can make me laugh, and smile and feel happy about life.  We stopped in at Maryhill Winery for some wine tasting.  The view is amazing and the sun decided to peek out from behind the clouds for a bit   We then journeyed on, over the Columbia River to Hood River where we spent the afternoon at a brew pub.  We sat at the bar and made friends with our neighbors, shared our pizza with one of them and left feeling full.  We walked around Hood River holding hands, ate Gelatto from a street vendor and talked about why some cities have what my friend calls "animation" and others don't.  You can feel when you walk into a place whether it has it or not.  I guess its the same with people, when you meet someone, its usually evident from the get go whether or not they have animation.  Certain places attract those kind of people and I think Hood River is one of them. You get that vibe, good energy, like people are doing things, things are happening.  I don't know exactly how to put words to it, but if you are the least bit in touch with know what I am talking about.
It was finally late afternoon and so we headed to our hotel back across the river in White Salmon.  We stayed at the same place a year ago, for our 10th anniversary.  It's a small hotel, very sweet.  It's across the street from a yoga studio they give you a free pass for, so they kind of get me with that.  The last time we were in White Salmon everyone raved about a restaurant Henni's that we didn't make it to, so after a nice afternoon siesta, we headed out for dinner.  It was delicious and serendipitous.  During our meal, we heard the couple next to us telling the waiter they were  celebrating their 59th anniversary.  The waiter remarked how sweet it was to see a couple still enjoying one another's company after all those years.  We congratulated them and told them we too were celebrating our anniversary.  As we prepared to leave, Sean got up and paid for their bottle of wine. He, of course, didn't tell me, although I had a hunch as to what he was doing.  He asked the waiter to not tell them until we were gone and we went on our way.  My heart of the many reasons why I love this man...his generosity, his kindness and his lack of ego. 
We were talking as we walked back to the hotel later in the evening about how we should have asked them the secret to their success.  As chance (and not many hotel options in that small town) would have it, the couple was staying at the same hotel, just down the hall.  We crossed paths the next morning as we returned from yoga class and the man asked if we were the couple from dinner.  He told us how surprised they were and that such acts of thoughtfulness make life better.  I asked him what was the secret to their long marriage.  "A little bit of luck, I think, and lots of support, from family and friends alike."  Lucky us, we've definitely got all that.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

The dark and the light

For the last several years, I have celebrated the summer solstice by doing 108 sun salutations.  This year, my Wednesday night yoga class fell on the solstice, but for whatever reason, I did not plan in advance to change my class into the annual ritual.  When it dawned on me yesterday, that it was the summer solstice, I figured I could just base my class around sun salutations and find another way to acknowledge and honor another season of life.
As I sat down to prepare for class, I contemplated the significance of the occasion.  It happens every year.  I wait all spring for summer to come, for longer days, a more carefree season, more time with my kids, less of a schedule and what feels to me like more freedom.  There is something about these long days of summer that give me the feeling we have all the time in the world, time for all of it.
In actuality, the summer solstice is the longest day of the year.  As we usher in this season of warmth and light, the darkness is just beginning to set in. The summer solstice marks the days getting shorter.  The word solstice comes from the 2 Latin words, sol and stice.  Sol obviously means sun and the stice means in essence to stand still.  The solstice is the day when the sun stands still, if only momentarily.  We are reminded of the impermanence of all things.  Even the seasons, the long days, the light doesn't stay for long.  Eventually the darkness creeps back in.    As I pondered all this, I began to think about life and the parallels between the light and the dark.  Most of us want to live in the light, the place where we find clarity, where we feel brilliant, enlightened.  Inevitably the light creates a shadow, the darkness.  It follows us wherever we go.  The only time we can't see our shadow is when we are in the dark, the place most of us don't want to reside.
I guess what I am getting at is I see this ritual of honoring the sun, as a way to honor our own light our own brilliance, the sun of our own spirit that we can shine upon the world around us.  I found myself very emotional as I moved through my class last night.  One woman in the front row was full of tears and another came to me at the end of class and thanked me, "that was something special" she said.  I'm not sure what it was that spoke to me last night...the songs in my playlist all with a theme of the sun or light, or just the combination of bright souls in the room, our collective breath and hearts beating.  I left feeling very full, thankful for the times when the light illuminates the shadow and we feel confident, certain of our place in the world and our ability to bring light to the lives of others.  Happy Summer Solstice...I hope you find your light shining bright.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Running Wild

I am not sure what inspired me to sit down today and type after my 5 month hiatus, but here I am sitting on my couch, fingers plucking away at the keyboard, hopeful I can crank an entry out and get back on the blogging road again. 
Last time I wrote, I was running.  I wasn't just running, I was training for a marathon.  I was dedicated, committed and loved the running.  I worked my way up to 18 miles and then my body began to fall apart, break down.  I could feel myself getting weaker not stronger, but my drive and determination made me keep at it....for awhile.  I eventually ended up in physical therapy and found myself working on core stabilization (tell me if that doesn't speak of needing to get centered).  The truth is, as much as I loved the running, I also felt like it was making me crazy.  I felt mentally scattered, thoughts running wild, unfocused (on anything other than running) and like my mind had become very cluttered.  I felt itchy in my own skin, not physically, but unsettled, restless.  I couldn't get my body to cooperate and had to stop running.  I resisted, at first, hopeful if I just backed off for a bit, I would be able to come back with a vengeance and still be able to run the marathon.  Eventually, I was forced to face the reality that not only had I lost a LOT of ground, I just physically was not capable of enduring the pain that continuing to run involved and that I needed to let go.  I needed to put my ego aside and take care of myself.
I found myself agitated, more restless, hungry for an outlet for the energy I had been channeling in to my running, but as the days passed I began to let go.  I began spending more time at home, more time in the yard, started walking in the mornings again and little by little I found myself.  I began to peel back these layers of labels I had wrapped myself in and found that sitting still in the middle of me felt much better than I thought.
I'm not sure if this is making or sense, or if I am even telling the story, I am trying to tell.  Like increases like.  I am someone who has a tendency to be imbalanced in the way of doing too much.  Going and doing, instead of just being.  Some people suffer from the opposite, too much sitting and being, not enough doing or momentum to get going. I don't think running becomes me, at least not in the way I was doing it.  I am prone to fill my plate, have lots of things going on.  I have 3 jobs, for goodness sake, am in a book club, lead a study group.  I am not any busier than anyone else, we all have the same amount of time, I know, but my tendency is too schedule it full and to go and do.  It has felt really good to slow down, have more free time, more down time, more unscheduled time.  I feel like it helps me to stay grounded, to feel in balance.  Sometimes when we are in the midst of these seasons, the ebb and flow of life, it isn't easy to see what is happening.  It's so close to us, that we can't get a clear picture.  As I have stepped back, let go, settled in, I see that the running was part of a lesson for me, a journey toward finding more balance, more space in my life to create and recreate.  Something most of us could always use more of...

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Virtual Insanity?

"Virtual insanity is what we're living in."  Jamiroquoi

My husband is hot for a smart phone.  I'm not so sure.  I feel like I already have a tendency to be plugged in more than necessary and being able to carry that access around with me everywhere I go might not be a good thing.
Some time ago, one of my cousins posted something on facebook about why she was spending time on it as opposed to living life.  It caught my attention, as did one of the responses, which suggested that it was because she is a people person and it makes her feel connected.  I think that is true, but connected to what?
At a yoga training last fall, the teacher told us to notice where we spend our time when we aren't feeling so good and where we are when we do feel good.  Most likely we spend less time in front of the screen when all is well and more time in front of it when we don't feel so good or are seeking something we are actually not likely to find there.
I struggle with the whole technology piece in general.  I don't like for my kids to watch a lot of TV and of course, I have kids that beg for it, love it and always want more.  We never have the latest gadgets or technology, we don't have cable or flat screen TVs or smartphones, and I think I like it that way.  I get why my husband wants those things, but I feel this strong resistance to it.  I'm frugal (or maybe cheap?) too and I don't want to spend money on things that we don't really need. 
When I sit back and look at it, the problem really isn't the technology, it's me.  It's my inability to cut myself off from it or set healthy boundaries for how much and when.  I decided in the new year I would only check my email, facebook, etc twice a day.  I haven't followed it.  I did for a few days and quite honestly it is much  more interesting to open your email when there is something worth looking at.  When you only do it once or twice a day, chances are better there will be.  My draw toward this stuff is that feeling of being connected, the desire to feel like part of something greater than myself.  I don't have any answers really, other than, maybe I should work on being out of control on this one.  Maybe I should get on board with my husband and his smartphone dreams (being able to send a text without it taking 10 minutes to compose) and maybe I should figure out how to leave it alone and live smart.  Life isn't going to happen without me if I'm living it... that's virtual insanity.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012


Every kid has their lovie, that tangible piece of cloth that makes them feel safe, secure.   Rumor has it, my husband or his brother (can't remember which) had a cloth diaper for a lovie.  They go everywhere with you and are often a source of stress, when you leave them behind, or misplace it somewhere.  Some kids attach to one thing, others have a multitude of lovies, the favorite changing from day to day.
As a toddler, my oldest daughter had a kitty, a blankie and a binkie.  Binkie was as much a lovie as the other two, but at some point you have to give that thing up.  Most kids reach a natural parting of ways with their lovie, I think (some later in life than others) and the problem with the binkie is that it has other repurcussions, such as messing with your teeth if you suck on it all night.  At 2, we decided it was time for Ruby to give it up.  My husband made up a story about the "Binkie Bird" (I don't recommed this approach, by the way).  He told her that the Binkie Bird would come and take her bink and give it to some other child in need and sure enough one day her binkies disappeared.  Oh, how she cried.  That binkie bird scared her and she was so heart broken. I wanted to make her feel better, but I didn't want to back track, so I gave her my childhood lovie...dear old Rab. 
Rab was once a stuffed animal, white fluffy, lovable.  I loved him so much over the years that he became a mass of worn out dirty gray cotton.  My mom patched him up each time he lost an eye, (replacing his plastic parts with cloth) or wore a hole in his fur, at one point I carried around one of his feet as my lucky rabbit's foot.  He looked haggered and when I was 12, I finally decided it was time to retire him.  My mom helped me make a cloth box for him to permanently rest in (aka a cozy coffin).  Rumor has it when I was 4 or 5 I dropped Rab in an airport parking lot one rainy night and my mom had to go back and find him because I couldn't sleep without him.  I vividly remember lying in bed with Rab as a kid, telling him my troubles.  There was this one patch on his back that I could stick my finger in and feel his insides.  For whatever reason, that was a great source of comfort for me.
When I gave Rab to Ruby, she loved him immediately, but she also wondered a little about the looks of the ol' boy, tattered and torn, loved to pieces, literally.  What was left of his body lived inside a little blue and white gingham bag and his head was the only part of him that stuck out of the bag, sort of in tact enough to be out.  At some point in the last few years, Rab got attacked by our dog.  He lost an ear, half his face and his insides were really torn to bits.  His dirty stuffing looked like strings of something, he was a mess.  I think she cried when she found him, but she put him in his trusty little box and he lived on her bookshelf or under her bed, or wherever else the many stuffed animals she has go. 
This Christmas, out of the blue, she wrote in her letter to Santa that what she wanted was for Rab to get a new face, for him to be put back together like new.  At 11 pm on Christmas Eve, I didn't have it in me to attempt anything of that sort (no supermom award here) and Santa didn't bring his sewing machine when he came by.  She had placed Rab at the end of her bed, safely tucked in for the night, I'm sure with high hopes of waking in the morning to a new and improved Rab.
I asked my mom on Christmas morning if she might help me attempt a Rab reconstruction in the near future.  Of course, she said yes.  On Monday, my daughter came home from Mamma's (my mom's) full of excitement.  They had been working on Rab, making him a new face.  Yesterday afternoon, my mom showed up after work with the new Rab.  I hugged him to my chest and almost cried.  Ruby was thrilled, slept with him last night and told me how much she loved him and that he smelled like Mamma.  She even knew that his cheeks were colored from Mamma's lipstick.  "Smell it," she said, "doesn't it smell just like her?"   You could see in her eyes the comfort she found in him.  I know it isn't so much Rab, as it is the idea of him, the love that was poured in to his revival and the Mamma who would go to the ends of the earth to satisfy that little girl's heart's desire.  Thank you, Mamma, what would we do without you?

Monday, January 2, 2012

the Little one

As Shakespeare said..."the blessedness of being small."  My little peanut, Elsie Lea, turns 2 this week.  It's hard to believe and yet it also feels hard to remember life before her or without her.  Every child brings something special to the world, of course, and this one is no exception.  She is such a child of joy...happy, playful, affectionate, loving, mischevious....and many other qualities.  I feel like my words don't do her justice.  I am so very grateful to have her in our lives.  I wrote a poem for her last year and another one last night.  Here they are....

2011: My little E - all wrapped up

a short 12 months ago
you were all wrapped up in me
my big, round belly your home
the only place you knew
and then, you
were you
separate from me
still part fo the same being,
yet your own
a walking, talking, crying, singing, laughing
just you
all your own
not mine, not ours
just yours
beautiful and sweet
gentle and bold
now we are
all wrapped up in you.

2012: my sweet and spicy

you are many things wrapped
into one little bundle of goodness
you are sweet, snuggly
love to be held and touched,
cradled like a baby
to have your back scratched
your hair combed

you are mighty and fierce
strong willed and determined
independent and fearless

you are joy and laughter
your playful spirit
contagious and inviting

you are shy
you are bold
you are love
you are loved
sweet Elsie Belle.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Out of Control?

Happy New Year!  2012...and the world has not yet ended, hallelujah, I have a marathon to run this year!
My family spent the evening with several other families, eating, drinking and being merry.  It was a great evening. I was riding the high of my longest run yet, 10.5 miles.  Felt like a great way to end a year, accomplishing something on the way to something bigger, right? I ran in the afternoon, felt great when I was done (aside from an achy joint here or there).  I was feeling festive, excited to celebrate.
I was chatting with another runner at the party, one who runs 4 to 5 marathons a year and in the course of our conversation he said, "well, you are obviously a type A person."  I, incredulously replied, "Me?" For the record, I have never thought of myself as type A and quite frankly think of it as a negative quality.  He replies, "You wouldn't be out there running, preparing for a marathon if you weren't."  I was stunned.  It isn't the first time my own perception of myself has been altered, but I was definitely not eager to take this label on.
Later in the evening, as I sat with two of my girlfriends, I shared the story.  They both laughed and said, "you are totally type A."  Say what?  I, of course, asked them what type A is then and they described it as being driven, "liking to be in control", and I can't remember what else because I attached to the liking to be in control part and couldn't let that go.  I think it took up most of the space in my brain for the following 15 minutes.  
I looked up what type A is today and learned that type A and type B personality theory was developed in the 1950s as a way to determine risk for future heart disease.  Those that are type A (in case you also are curious) are described as ambitious, aggressive, controlling, highly competitive, impatient, preoccupied with status, and tightly wound, just to name a few.  And type B is the opposite of that, patient, relaxed, easy-going, and at times lacking an overriding sense of urgency.   Maybe we can't put people in these two boxes.  I would definitely like to think I possess qualities of both. is a new year and a time to invite in to our lives what we want and a time to usher out what no longer serves us.  What stuck out most for me in this whole Type A conversation, was my friend describing me as someone who likes to be in control.  As much as I did not like to hear myself described that way, I have to admit there is truth in it.  I do like to be in control, I often think I know best and I like to know what's in store.  I'm not a big fan of change (I can't control it, right?) and I am not exactly the most spontaneous person I know.  And so, what am I to do with this new self awareness at 38?  My goal for 2012 is to be less attached, to let go, and to learn to find some freedom in not being in control.  How's that for a new year's be out of control?