Thursday, September 18, 2014

On being okay not being type A

So my friend Jenn is amazing.  I actually have many friends named Jennifer and they are all amazing, but my Jenn friend is a rock-climbing, bass-playing, bilingual, Buddhist, super academic who also renovates houses at the drop of a hat.  She is basically Sydney Bristow from Alias.  And she wouldn't even get that reference because she doesn't watch television.  Sigh.

She recently asked me to read through an essay she had written and I briefly asked her what was going on in her world.  I had been laid up on the sofa for two days with a nasty ear infection and my major achievements in that time had been walking downstairs, showering and making tea.  She had been having a day of controlled chaos; meetings, exercise, clients, classes, doggy day care... and in the middle of that she had taken time to pour out her heart and soul into a personal, cathartic essay.  I hadn't even journalled.  Jenn is always the kind of busy that involves late dinners and last minute projects.  I loathe being that busy.  I have to gear up for major tasks or errands.  I have unfinished projects that I haven't even started.  And I never eat meals late.  Ever.

What is the opposite of type A?  It rather suggests that type A is the best and then everyone else is just average or failing. Having never been a type A person, I have always considered myself the lame-o, the slug who has very little inclination toward becoming overly ambitioius.  That isn't to say that I don't have passions or pursuits, but I can get sidetracked by a binge-watching marathon or a couple rounds of candy crush saga.  Guilt usually follows these endeavors, but the guilt fades and it is okay again.  Monday comes and so do the opportunities to do it differently, to take up the project, to be the non-slug.

Everyone is motivated by something, that is just the way we are.  We may be motivated to sleep or to build a canoe, but here's the thing; life comes unexpectedly to our doorsteps, and when we set out to accomplish the to-do list, the universe often has different plans.  Our best intentions can get waylaid by an illness, a break up, a chance meeting, a heartbreak or a heart surge.  And even the tidiest, most efficient type-A person gets unavoidably put off course.  

My to-do list will always be long but it won't be overly ambitious.  As the holidays approach, I think about how I want to enjoy the holidays, not chase them.  I tend to think I enjoy life and do well at life, but I did cancel my subscription to Martha Stewart Living, too much pressure.  

It's been a very very long while...

Okay, I haven't posted for over a year.  I know.  It started with a bump that turned into a rut and then it was a hiatus that lasted longer than I wanted.

But lately I've been getting a message from the universe saying "go back to the blog".  My friend Kara posted on her blog after a long absence, I met with some real-life writer friends and talked about why we love writing, and another friend wanted my feedback on an essay she submitted to a magazine.  The messages were there.  

So I am back.  

Monday, July 8, 2013

It's been a while.

I haven't written here in a while which was due partly to busy-ness (trip to Spain, end of year, blah blah blah) and mostly the stress and emotional agony of being involved in the world of online dating.  Yes, my reader, I have been on a lot of dates in the last six months.  Well, a lot for me.  You have to realize that for a very long time my life was similar to that of a monk, or a wayward singing nun in an Austrian convent.  I was super single.  And I hated it.  I wanted to be so super chill with my singleness.  I wanted to not cry when I received wedding invitations and when that one guy I kinda liked didn't text.  I wanted to be okay. 

So it was a hard last 6 months for me.  There are a lot of stories I could tell you about some of the guys I went out with.  Hoo boy, there's another blog that one.  The truth of this whole process is that I had to dig deep and find the self-compassion that I knew would be a balm for my aching loneliness.  Because let's face it, dating someone isn't really an answer to prayer, it is just a review and remodel of your prayers.  Yes, my dear reader, I am in a relationship with someone and it is pretty awesome.  I like the fact that there is now a wonderful man in my life who calls me "sweet girl", texts me daily, appreciates my love of cheese, and brings me flowers.  Ah... let's take a moment to drink in the nauseating, syrupy, icky, gooey romance of it all.  Okay, cause when that moment is over, the reality sinks in.  Getting involved with someone is not a Disney movie.  It's hard work to listen, share, reveal, understand, connect, trust, and communicate. 

My prayer for someone wonderful has been answered, and now I shift the focus to be patient during this foundational relationship work.  I have to access a whole new skill set that in my many many many years of monastic singleness was absent to me.  But I think in this whole process of getting to know my guy and being with him and building a relationship, I am learning the most about myself.  What kind of listener am I?  What kind of communication do I provide?  What relationship skills are most important to me?  How can I best meet my partner's needs in this moment?  These questions are just the start.  And since I can't be with my guy 24/7 (which in the beginning of a relationship you totally want to do) I have a lot of self-reflection time to practice patience and self-care.  The most important part of this relationship is what I am learning about myself.  And then the hope and prayer becomes how I can best show up in this relationship so that it is honest and real and fun and delightful. 

It's been a while. 

Saturday, February 2, 2013

The end of a good book

Bless you, Zora Neale Hurston.  I've yet to find a better weaver of prose and life and love.
"Here was peace. She pulled in her horizon like a great fish-net. Pulled it from around the waist of the world and draped it over her shoulder. So much of life in its meshes! She called in her soul to come and see."
- Zora Neale Hurston, Their Eyes Were Watching God, Ch. 20

We finished Their Eyes Were Watching God in class the other day and I am amazed how this book hits me every year I teach it.  I always tell my students to reread their favorite books from childhood because literature doesn't change, they do.  Their Eyes is the same every year, but I am not.  And in this new, 2.0 version of myself, I find the book to be a touchstone once again for the wisdom that can come from literature. 

 "Love ain't somethin' lak uh grindstone dat's de same thing everywhere and do de same thing tuh everything it touch. Love is lak de sea. It's uh movin' thing, but still and all, it takes its shape from de shore it meets, and it's different with every shore"

In the first month of 2013, I have come to some pretty awesome conclusions and felt compelled to swing out on the trapeze a bit further.  What I know for sure is that I want my choices to be impelled by love instead of fear and anger.  That is what creates the change I want to see in my life.

"It's uh known fact, Pheoby, you got tuh go there tuh know there...Two things everybody's got tuh do fuh theyselves. They got tuh go tuh God, and they got tuh find out about livin' fuh theyselves"
So my hope for you this February is that you see the life in the meshes of your net.  Whether you are young or old, your life is full of lessons and challenges and joys and successes.  I am pulling my net in and calling my soul to come see what is next. 

Thursday, January 17, 2013


Me and Pop.  Not a recent photo.
 *My dear dad is guest blogger this time.  He tells a wonderful story below of family, memories, and Loveland.   This story will appear in the local Estes Park newsletter and I am proud to publish it here.
My home is Estes Park. When I walk with protest signs in Estes passersby recognize me. But when I walked with my “Cherish Children, Disdain Guns” poster along 28th Street in Boulder, I felt like an interloper foisting my opinion on strangers.
So starting a wintry walk from Taft Avenue east on Eisenhower Boulevard in Loveland (not my home since 1960) with my sandwich boards, I expected the same ambivalence. The sun would soon be down In a few minutes I would trudge back to my car and drive to my warm home in Estes.
The new 1stBank rising across the street interrupted my doubts. Tellers in the previous building welcomed me by name and cashed my checks for all the 15 years I came from Estes to visit my Father’s one remaining sister Annie.
Another 200 yards took me to the Barnes Ditch. In the fifties we used the dry ditch as a clandestine route to a Big Thompson swimming hole. Today I crossed exactly over its inlet to Lake Loveland. Throughout my youth I heard how the man for whom I am named had swum across that expanse. Once dog-paddling near the dock, swallowing some of the silty water I plunged deep as a speedboat’s propeller passed exactly over me. The Blooms taught me to water ski behind their power boat on that water. Ice-covered and drawn down though it is today, the lake on my left is a part of me.
Halfway to the replica of the Statue of Liberty is a bronze figure of cavorting children, depicting actual youngsters, whom I watched grow. Today, across the busy highway from the replica, even in the cold wind, four bundled children climbed on the ageless World War II artillery piece. Summers in the fifties I sat astride the same metal barrel almost too hot to touch. My parents and my sixteen aunts and uncles pushed aside the emptied paper plates and played pinochle on long picnic tables. We cousins explored the vastness of that block sized park, crossed the quiet road, (not quiet today) and sank toes in the muddy shore.
Here is Garfield Avenue. My elementary school was eight blocks down the hill. I have not used half the time till twilight. I’ll go north till I reach 45 minutes. Then I will turn back. Between the sidewalk and the lake are the homes of erstwhile patricians. Their kids sat in classes with me at Loveland High.
The Loveland Cemetery is in view across Garfield Avenue. The names of those card-playing aunts and uncles are on the gravestones. A football field length farther on Lake Avenue will be Grant Ford’s former home. A veteran of the Tenth Mountain Division who found a place for me in his Alma Mater back east. He forgave me for not staying there. He withstood far greater tragedies of life than my rejection, worse even than the wounds of war.
At 29th Street, I am only a few minutes beyond my time of return. It will be quicker to continue past the high school around the lake. In 1967 I first saw the inside of the “new” school, new in 1961 that is. Geography teachers were pleased to have me report on the Peace Corps in India. More intensely in the 70s and 80s, I kept the opponents’ book for my Niwot Cougar roundballers against my old Indian boys. Across the avenue in the nursing home my mother’s mother died as tranquilly as she had lived. When Aunt Edith visited younger Aunt Leona in that place she was often challenged as a resident as started to leave. My brother’s wife and three youngsters waited for him to return from his remote Air Force posting in an apartment behind the oldsters’ building.
Almost dusk, I find the wide pavement on the east side of Taft Avenue. The cherry trees across the street are long gone. Good riddance to the sticky summer picking job for pay. Mother wanted to buy those abandoning orchards for a price that today would buy a used car.
Having gone around the lake, I am minutes from where I parked the car. The sandwich board signs (the back one says “More Guns, More Dead”) of which I am so self conscious have not kept the past from my consciousness. Several people have given me a quiet thumbs up. Three cars have blared horns at me. I think three. My hearing aid volume is at lowest setting. I turn it up so I can have a conversation.
Lake Loveland
That is because I have reached the Bloom’s house. Their ashes are across the lake in that cemetery . He waded across five Pacific invasion beaches. Her daughter married brother Carl. I knock on the door. Niece Kristi is home from a much longer day at work than my walk around her lake.
“I have been passing so many homes with shore frontages, Ma’am, and I wonder if You would just let me look out your windows at the lake.”
She replies, “You are home.”