You can now find me writing here...

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Another birthday near...

I was surprised today when I saw that my Facebook profile said I was 44 years old. I have been calling myself 45 since 2015 began. It's easier to remember when I roll my age forward with the year. Birthdays aren't what they used to be and it is not because I avoid them. I don't mourn my youth (I do sometimes mourn a smoother, more youthful complexion). I get a kick out of the silver that is beginning to show up in my black hair. I am growing my own sparklies... how cool is that?

When I was a kid, my birthday marked the end of the school year, the beginning of summer. It used to make me sad that it was too late to have a party at school, except for one year when a teacher had the bright idea that all the summer birthdays celebrate with cupcakes in early May. It wasn't quite the same, and my mother more than made up for the lack of a school party at home. My birthday often coincided with a volleyball net strung cross the driveway, neighbors and friends invited for homemade ice cream, Mom's angel food cake and lawn chairs set up round the yard.

I guess I've long associated my birthday with big gatherings of people, though with my kids we've developed more intimate, family centered celebrations. For the last four years I've been celebrating as part of Dirty Kanza weekend, where the farmers market I manage hosts its biggest fundraiser of the year, and 1,000+ bicyclists from all over the United States and beyond gather for a 200 mile ride through the Flint Hills. This year my birthday falls at the end of the festivities and I've told my family I want to sleep in, stay at home, and have little to nothing on the agenda.

Meanwhile, I'm going to settle in and adjust to the fact that I really am only 44 years old for ten more days. Forty-four has been a very good year, but I'm pretty sure 45 is going to be better. I've been practicing for five months now, after all, and the trial-run has been promising.

My 2nd Birthday... before I grew my own sparklies. And that's the family dog, Poochie.
I don't know why those two photos are connected in my files. I can only assume they were taken on the same day.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

With a Year's Worth of Stuff Bottled Up Inside My Head

So it is just over a year since I have attempted to blog here. Just over a year since I have given myself the power and freedom to just dump whatever it is, inside my head, out on the page. I thought I would blog about writing here, or about unschooling my three children here... and perhaps I have, occasionally, with various degrees of success. I have never had much success in dividing my life into spheres. The writing me, the mom me, the farmers market manager me, the me that is attempting to help publish books for others... it's all just me, really.

I am who I am.

And I've long stopped apologizing for my varied interests and focuses. You hear that, ME? I'm not going to say I am sorry any more. It's not a lack of focus, an inability to commit, or a fear of failure (or success!) I love writing. I wouldn't give up the last 19 years of holding motherhood as my primary "job" for anything. I absolutely love the way that my work as farmers market manager has given me roots in this community and has helped me to feel more at home. I get a kick out of formatting books for publication (and I'm pretty darned good at it). I'm not a half-bad editor either... except for my own work. (I suck at editing my own work.)

I am a creative being, who adores the orderly nature and power of a spreadsheet.

Is that weird? Well so be it. That's who I am.

This evening, I went to a reading of Notable Kansas Authors at the William Allen White Library on ESU's campus. Notable Authors include my good friend, Cheryl Unruh, and my friend and co-author (Green Bike), Kevin Rabas. I almost didn't go, because I've been in a stay-at-home frame of mind, of late, but I talked myself into going at the last minute because I have never been let down by the experience of listening to story tellers. Notable authors also include the prolific, Max McCoy and Jim Hoy, both of whom I have very much enjoyed listening to in the past.

Sure enough, The event was barely getting started as my mind started collecting ideas and inspirations. Why am I not writing? I asked (inside my head). Okay, I mean, I am writing (novel-in-progress, 3rd draft) but why am I not writing this... and this... and this... and this?

Oh, if only there were more hours in the day.

I've got enough projects to keep me busy through the sundown of my life.

There's plenty to share... inside my head, there's no need to hide it.

If I know it makes my heart smile, I shall say YES!

Tuesday, April 01, 2014


Sometimes I really miss the person who had time to devote to blogging all that was inside her head. Sometimes when I feel I have the time these days, I just sit and stare at the screen. Then I turn the computer off and go to bed.

At the same time, I'm happy to be busy and outside of my head more than I used to be. I think I needed the space away from myself. I think I needed the break from my own inner thoughts and obsessions.

Somewhere there is a balance between the two.

Someday I will find it.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

18 Years of Parenting

She didn't come with a set of instructions. We just sort of muddled through, picking up the details we needed to know along the way, understanding that we would make mistakes and need forgiving.

She was my first close-encounter with my very own kind of miracle. The fact of her existence, evidence of my creative power, took my breath away. Then came the mind-boggling comprehension that she was mine, yet not mine at all.

I began to understand, quite early, how quickly this was all going to happen. The years rolling one right onto another, how effortlessly she grew from a baby to one who toddles to one who speaks and dreams and continues to alter the course of our daily rituals. I'd never been more content to simply observe, to drop everything I was and become for someone else, for however long she needed me, and then I would become again.

So here we are on the first day of year 18, with all its legal significance. She can vote. She can sign her own health forms. She can serve on a jury. She can maintain her finances privately if she so desires. And while I have no worries that she is capable, I have had moments of anxiety. Have I prepared her? Was there something big and profound I was suppose to have passed along by now that maybe I have forgotten?

Yet, it is a day like any other. A day we will continue to evolve in our relationship, she and I. A day we will continue to celebrate, both individually and together. A day when we will look back on where we've been, and look forward to all there is still before us.

Today I have been a mother for 18 years.

She continues to amaze me.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Anticipating Change and Enjoying the Creative Fuel it Brings

I've always maintained the belief that creativity begets creativity. Writing, painting, composing... it doesn't matter the form. One creative act leads to ideas for at least two more. Most of the time I would claim to be engaged in creative work on pretty much a daily basis. Most often it is writing, but I've been known to draw a picture, pick out a tune on the piano, experiment with recipes or take photographs all with that same satisfied-at-having-created-something feeling.

I also enjoy spending time doing more rote, logistical type things that I've come to think of as creativity fueling. I enjoy being busy, productive, and there are certain tasks that I know I can turn to when my mind needs time to process its more unruly thoughts. I am delighted by spreadsheets, for instance, and I take pride in the management systems I have created with them to aid my work with the farmers market or in managing the billing and bookkeeping for my husband's law office practice. I suppose the act of generating a good spreadsheet is creative, but the act of using a good spreadsheet is incredibly satisfying (especially if you are confident of all of the mathematical functions because you placed them there yourself for reasons you fully understand). I place a number here, and it calculates this, that, and another.

Sometimes my creative mode turns more habitual, however, and I come to the realization that I've not so much been creating as going through the motions simply because I think of myself as a creating kind of person. Perhaps I am writing the same words in a different tense, or putting them to paper in cursive rather than print. Maybe I have turned to doodling for the sake of filling blank space. Or I am serving the same dish meal after meal and forgetting what everything tastes like. Sometimes I am so practiced at what I do that I can fall into the habit of work without really feeling the satisfaction of actually having created something.

It is interesting to look back at my life and see these patterns of actively and passively engaging with the creative process, and the pattern of falling into ruts (usually caused by finding a pattern that works so well I never want it to end). When I was younger, I was more prone to get caught up in the fear of changing things, but now I've almost come to the point of looking forward to those moments. I might recognize that I am getting stuck in a groove, but am more content than I used to be to wait for the right moment. I'm less likely to feel the need to hang on to actions or routines because they once worked. Situations change. I change. My creative process changes. Sometimes I have to do something different in order to move forward and move my creative life to a place of greater satisfaction.

It may be that I've come to anticipate those changes so much that the knowledge that they are coming is enough to fuel a resurgence of creativity. The hubby and I had an idea last week. It was a big idea, for us. An idea that would involve a new house and a new business. I don't know where that idea is going to go, or if it is going to go at all, but I have felt that opening of my mind. I'm ready for change. I'm ready to switch up my routine in a bigger than usual way.

Just the idea of making this move has resulted in an flurry of creative energy. It's infused my market work, my law office work, and my writing. I've got more ideas on the plate than I have room for, but I'm happy that way. I'm coming to the end of each day exhausted and satisfied. I'm excited about that open state of mind, the feeling that anything is possible, and whatever it ends up being, it will be good.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Sorting through the Voices in My Head

Sometimes I find myself sorting through a whole slew of responses, inside my head, that are not actually my own. I was sitting at the table when my middle kid (age 15) came in from a bike ride this evening. I kept thinking that there was something funny about the way the light was reflecting off her hair. Her hair is generally light brown. She was blond when she was little, but it's much darker now. Finally, it hit me.

Me: Did you dye your hair red?

Middle Munchkin (big grin): Yes... Yes I did.

Inside my head, I heard my mother gasp in dismay. In her world, hair dye was made to cover grey hair, and it was supposed to look so natural that nobody suspected. To be asked if she colored her hair was an insult. Inside my head, my mother... and possible my grandmother... shook their heads and worried. Coloring one's hair... especially something wild like red... just might lead down other dangerous and forbidden roads.

Finally, I heard my own voice.

Me: Cool. It looks really good.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Misery and Happiness

It takes a certain amount of effort to be miserable. It simply takes a different kind of effort to be happy. 

These are not Ann Patchett's exact words, but I've been reading Ann Patchett and this thought is one of my take-aways from Truth & Beauty: A Friendship

I picked up Ann at the library a couple of weeks ago - This Is the Story of a Happy Marriage. The book was billed as a collection of essays about commitment. I absolutely loved it. I devoured every essay, and a few of them I read twice. There were portions I wanted to print in big letters and wallpaper my room with them. She writes such lovely words. I wonder how it is I had not discovered her before now.

And so my love-affair with yet another writer begins. When I returned the book of essays, I checked out one of her fiction and non-fiction books. I made it through Truth & Beauty in about three days, which is very speedy for me, as I always have at least two or three books going at a time and, except for weekends, my reading time is often limited to the few minutes I can keep my eyes open before going to bed. I will admit that I took Sunday as a sick day. I came home from "camp" (a Friday and Saturday event with my daughter) with a head cold and so threw myself upon the couch on Sunday with a box of tissues, a few pillows, a blanket, and the book.

Unlike This is a Story...Truth & Beauty was heartbreaking in content; yet still lovely in its way with words. 

It left me dwelling on the above.... on the effort of being miserable vs. being happy... I see this so often in life. (Or perhaps, more accurately, so often of Facebook, where people tend to put both their misery and happiness in words.) 

Far too often I think people get into the habit of demanding that their misery be noticed.

I'm sad. I'm lonely. Nobody loves me. Why doesn't anyone appreciate me?

I wonder why it is so hard to see the problem of focusing on what brings us down. Only occasionally am I drawn to respond. I might comment or send a private note to someone who truly seems to be suffering, but more often I turn away. 

Does that make me cold hearted? Does that make me a bad friend?

It's not the occasional, "Hey, I'm having a tough day," that I'm talking about. We are only human, after all. I don't mind the now-and-then harrumph, or enough already, or man life sucks! But I have friends who have truly gone through some serious pain and loss and, yet, they still manage to smile and show their sunny side as much or more often than they frown out loud.

My issue is the people who dwell there. The people who seem intent on expending all their energy on feelings misery when it seems that those feelings are primarily being generated by the person to create more misery. It's as if it were a contest and they want everyone to know that they are winning. As if collecting the "oh you poor thing" comments actually makes life any better.

Manipulating others into feeling sorry for you only confirms that you are a sad and sorry person. Trust me. It doesn't make you feel any better except maybe for that brief moment of connection when someone looks your way (or comments on your wall). In the long wrong you have done nothing to improve your state of mind or state of being.

Truth & Beauty was about a friendship... a lovely friendship that spanned twenty years. But honestly? As much as I admired Ann, and even admired her friend, to some extent, I found myself midway through the book thinking that I would never be a person, like Ann, who has that depth of kind and generous. I have many friends that I consider life-long, but I don't know that I could/would put up with the things Ann dealt with in her relationship with Lucy Grealy.

Is my bar too high? Do I have unrealistic expectations that all of my friends should be stronger? Wiser? More capable?

Perhaps the truth is that I find the line between happiness and misery too easy to cross myself. I fear tying myself to people who are so freely miserable. I've found myself in the position of purposely getting out of these relationships in the past. I let them drag me down until I finally see it, they are trying to take me with them and beginning to succeed. Maybe I am the one who is not strong enough. Maybe if I were stronger, I could spread enough sunshine for both of us.

What I wish these people could see is that dwelling on what is wrong in life makes the wrong things grow big until it is hard to see beyond the shadows they cast. 

When instead, I've tackled my own grey clouds with a quest to bring a smile to someone else's face, I find that I can smile easier, as well. It works. I find happiness by focusing on good. To dwell on them, especially publicly, where I get feedback, only makes them last longer and grow darker. 

I don't want to be a person who runs from people who are in pain. I know that there are times in life when we simply have to embrace what is, even when it's hard and/or sad beyond reason. But I also don't want to be a person who exerts all my effort on chosing misery.

I hope that I am wise enough to see the difference.