Intentions of a Late Winter Solstice 2017

Sometimes work gets in the way

Winter Solstice has come and gone, not un-noticed and not without the setting of intentions, but all un-written until now.

And as we all know, thoughts don’t become real until we get them out of our head and onto paper.

Writing

My book is written and I have the illustrations half finished. I have applied for copyrights and learned about self-publishing, PhotoShop and found a printer. I am getting there…and I had no idea it would take this long. Ignorance is bliss!

Music

Yes, I have been practicing violin, much to Pippin’s dismay. I took the summer off and found I actually missed it, then had a crisis of faith about continuing. I have been at it for three years and I either need to buckle down and put in some serious practice time or call it quits. Sarah said “But does it make you happy to play?” And the answer was yes, yes it does. Pippin and I have compromised and he leaves the room while I play on.

On another note (haha) my group made a CD! Now THAT was fascinating and fun and I never thought ever I would have this experience and now I can take my music with me. Maybe this year we will make a Christmas CD…collect the whole set!

Paying it Forward

For the first time in a long, long while I have felt less crabby and on edge. It might be due to time and distance but I suspect it is caused by being thankful every day. Not the desperate relief of escaping with my life, but welcoming a grace of being loved that’s so deep it’s almost on a cellular level. The more good things I do in the world, the more my life is blessed. So of course I will continue and besides, it’s a hoot.

Getting Stronger

As a mater of fact, yes. I can presently deadlift 103 pounds, do 35 pound kettlebell swings, perform sit-ups and burpees. My favorite, though, is the assault bike because it has a fan. Always save that for last so you can cool down. (Pro tip for the day). Maybe this year I can manage a toe push-up and keep the sweat out of my eyes. It stings. A lot.

I can also lift chunky cats.

lifting chunky kitty overhead

And because this person always inspires me (and her recent post was the impetus to get me writing today), check her blog out. You won’t be sorry. https://wordswithlisbeth.com

Now go out there and be the good in the world. You are needed.

Half a World Away is Right Down the Road

Out of the comfort zone

The clinic I worked at yesterday is twenty miles and half a world away from my home.

Thirty years ago there was a Catholic hospital downtown, and when I worked there we saw most of the recent immigrants to the city. I expected this shift would feel like my old job except that the demographics have changed. Spanish has been joined by Asian, Middle Eastern and Eastern European dialects. Some of the languages spoken are so rare we don’t have professional translators.

I drove past a Middle Eastern market and turned into our parking lot where a food truck was doing a brisk business dispensing early morning caffeine. Rats, I didn’t bring my coffee cup. Oh well, next time for sure.

And into the world

One of the few white girls in a sea of brown faces, my silver-ish hair was in stark contrast to black tresses and head scarves of all colors, prints and styles. The women and children outnumbered the men two-to-one and I tried not to stare. It was exotic. A world bazaar in our white-bread state.

Interpreters were everywhere and we also used online interpretation via iPad. I thought we looked like a Star Trek episode but without the snazzy uniforms.


Captain Picard and iPad-like device-a world away
I saw some of the interpreters I hadn’t seen in a long while (that was fun.)

I heard someone get chewed out in Nepali (now that doesn’t happen every day.)

And mostly I remembered all over again how lucky I am.

What happened to these people? Why did they leave their homes and come to a country so unlike theirs in climate, food, culture and language?

I hope they are doing as well as can be expected. I hope they are safe and their kids can be kids. I hope yesterday I made it a little more OK for them.

But most of all, I hope that this place can be their home, too.

 

 

 

 

 

Meet The Girls

I have been MIA I know, but for good reason: I want you to meet my new friends.

Actually, they are old friends but now I know what they look like, and it’s all because of setting Intentions.

I skipped writing about intentions last year as I was apparently on the two-year plan with getting things done. Two-point-two-five year plan I guess, as it is now April. Time flies.

So hang with me here as I explain.

On the Anonymous Good Turn front, it’s still a lot of fun. Some deeds are not so anonymous but if those people pay them forward the world will just get better and heaven knows we need more people being a force for good.

Practicing Music at least 3 days a week: I manage it more often than not. Violin is continually surprising and I frequently feel like giving up but I can’t imagine living without it. It’s like the violin is…I don’t know…waiting for me to keep practicing until I unlock the secrets.

It is a patient instrument.

I had an “A-ha” moment last lesson where I finally felt my bow wrist move the way it is supposed to and my teacher saw it too and it was SO COOL!

I’m glad my teacher is patient, too.

Becoming more physically fit. This one has been and continues to be amazing. Between CrossFit Spark (CrossFit-ish), my local rec center and Eat To Perform, I have lost inches, pounds, body fat and gained muscle. Last month TWO people commented on how good I look and last night another person referred to my arms as “guns”!

Be still my heart.

Eat To Perform helped me sort out how many grams of protein, carbs and fats to eat and fits nicely with my paleo-ish omnivore self (but people who are vegan, vegetarian, whatever-arian follow ETP). Coming from chronic under-eating this has been a life-changer.

If, like me, you have tried almost every weight-loss plan out there and are frustrated, check out ETP. I am almost two years into it and am in my best shape since high school. The kids and I are a CrossFit/Eat To Perform family as Rebecca has signed on also, and likes the structure it provides. We meal prep her food for the week and enter it into her computer, then all she has to do is eat daily and do the dishes. Nifty.

I would like to say it made me run faster, but alas, no.

However, now I run the same distance then bust out some burpees, crush the assault bike (it is my favorite because it has a fan so you get air conditioning) and have enough energy left to kick butt and take names.

I LOVE being strong.

And now…drum roll…writing.

I FINISHED MY BOOK!

AND MY ILLUSTRATOR SAID I WAS GOOD ENOUGH TO DO MY OWN ILLUSTRATIONS!

YES, I AM YELLING!

And I will calm down now because it is annoying, but seriously, I am so stoked I can hardly stand it.

My illustrator said she would be my consultant and so we have this great email system where I draw, she critiques and I draw some more. I am in heaven and I want to call in sick to work every day and make art.

My mortgage company is not agreeable though so I fit it in where I can.

And now, without further ado, meet the girls: Sally, Nell, and their coop-mates playing bug keep-away.

sketch of running chickens

I have learned a lot and will learn much more thanks to mentors who have appeared when I needed them. My 2017 intention is to self-publish this year. For reals.

Stay tuned!

 

 

Gandalf the Brave

Gandalf was the bravest dog I knew.

Once in my old house I heard a noise outside, probably deer or foxes or some other animal, and I opened the front door to peek. Gandalf charged past me and leapt off the porch into the darkness. There was no hesitation on his part and I stood there, stunned. I have a forever picture in my mind of his furry back end in mid-air, launching into the night.

He disappeared into the darkness and didn’t return.

“Gandalf…..?” No answer.

I closed the door and went back inside.

Fifteen minutes later I heard him on the porch and opened the door. He bustled past me into the house, all business and quite proud of himself. Thinking of the grin on his face still makes me smile.

He. Was. Fearless.

Three months ago, the clicking of Gandalf’s toenails as he paced woke me up in the middle of the night. I let him out into the dark yard and he stared at the back fence where I could hear the neighbor’s broken sprinkler head hissing. He made a loop around the yard, came in and we went back to sleep.

The following day started off normally but by lunchtime his pacing had resumed. Pippin stuck close to home and we all raked leaves in the bright autumn sun. I noticed Gandalf looking at our yard like he was trying to understand where he was. The first niggles of worry sprouted as the day wound down.

Bedtime arrived and as was my habit, I was reading in bed before I dozed off. The mattress bounced and I put my book down to see this: Gandalf had joined Pippin and me. The last time he had slept on the bed was the night I moved into my own apartment. The worry niggles that had sprouted earlier burst into bloom.

Damn.

All of us on the bed

We dozed off and all night I could feel Gandalf restless in his sleep. Occasionally he woke and paced on the bed, stepping on Pippin and waking me up, too. Then he would jump down, only to jump back up several minutes later. Doze, pace, down, up, repeat.

At 4 am I abandoned trying to sleep, got up and made a pot of coffee.

We settled in the living room; me on the carpet in front of the couch and Pippin curled up on the cushion at my shoulder. Gandalf sat beside me and I scratched his ears (his favorite spot) in between his bouts of pacing.

The knowledge that today was the day I would do the last best thing for my friend seeped into my brain and heart and leaked back out in a flood of tears. I cried until dawn.

Our vet’s office opened and we got an appointment at 11. I called the kids to tell them what had happened and William sent good thoughts from the east coast. Sarah changed her plans for the day, saying “I’m not leaving you alone to put your dog down” and Rebecca hopped the bus to my house.

Gandalf and I went for our last walk alone as Pippin had retreated to his cat perch, for once declining to accompany us. Some illogical part of my brain (or maybe it was my hoping heart) thought that being outside in the sun might restore Gandalf to himself.

He went to the end of the flexi-leash and stayed there as we headed to the open space, and he paced and searched for something familiar in this place where he knew every tree, bush and blade of grass. I had been dreading the arrival of the 11 o’clock appointment but now it couldn’t come soon enough. He was so clearly uncomfortable; his body was no longer his friend.

The Universe heard my prayer and when we arrived home, the girls were there waiting for us. Amidst tears and goodbyes we helped Gandalf into the car for the longest-shortest trip ever.

I love our vet. The clinic was ready for us and a sedative allowed Gandalf to finally stop pacing. The girls and I cried our love and thankfulness for him being in our lives, and his great soul was set free.

Rebecca, Sarah and I returned to our homes. I am not quite sure what I did for the remainder of the day. Pippin’s solution was to sleep. He had known Gandalf his entire life and they were great buds.

Gandalf and Pippin napping together

My sleep was marginal at best the first night without my pup. Listless and sad and tired I got up the next morning and sat on the couch with my coffee. Pippin was still in a coma in his cat perch. The house was so quiet.

Without much enthusiasm I flipped open my iPad to look at Words With Friends and the board burbled to life.

I put my coffee cup down and stared, dumbfounded, at the word that had been played for me during the night:

Words with Friends play spelling out "Be Brave"

Tears streamed down my face, and I looked up from the iPad to Gandalf’s photo beaming down at me from the china closet.

Gandalf the Brave

 

Yes, Gandalf.

Until we meet again, I will be brave.

How could I be otherwise with your paw prints on my heart?

After The Election You Still Have A Choice

Thank God this debacle is over.

The gutter brawl between the parties threatened to spill into my front room and had become so, so tiresome.

Now we know and I am not wasting any more energy on this election. There are people to be taken care of, runs to be run, tests to be taken, dogs to be petted and choices to be made.

We have the choice to be better or bitter. There is no staying the same.

We can choose to live with courage and heart here and now.

We can choose to be a source of calm and strength and honor in whatever happens next. For every person you see gloating or wringing their hands or just being a twit about this state of affairs, do something kind.

Choose to be goodness in the world.

The people in Washington won’t notice, but our families and friends and neighbors will. That’s what makes these choices so much more important than the ones we made on November 8.

 

Clouds and sun

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

An Unexpected Owl

We were getting ready to leave work one night and heard the unexpected sound of raindrops pelting the windows. We lined up at the glass, watching the weather blow in.

Ferocious wind drove the rain in around the door seals while the lightning strobe-lighted the parking lot. Waves of rain swept across the asphalt as the wind whipped tree branches wildly and a large plastic grocery bag blew out of the sky.

Wait…what? A plastic grocery bag?

The lightning was straight out of a Hollywood horror movie and we could see the grocery bag was actually an owl, spit out by the storm. It fluffed its feathers and hopped over to the parked cars to get its bearings.

The wind lessened and one by one we made a dash for our vehicles while watching for the owl. I scooted out the door and ran for my car in a commando-crouch, scanning for it under the cars.

Nothing.

Good. It must have gone over to the shrubs.

I made a beeline for the driver’s door and nearly stepped on it as I came around the back of the car.

The owl jumped up, flapping its wings.

I jumped up, squealing like a girl.

My co-workers, safe in their cars, laughed at us both.

The owl and I recovered our dignity and parted ways; me into my car and the owl over to the bushes. As I drove away I couldn’t help but wonder why this barn owl was out in such disagreeable weather.

It reminded me of something the Weasley’s Great Grey owl Errol might do, losing its way delivering a post.

And we were the lucky Muggles who got to see it.

barn owl by Aaron Campbell

photo credit Aaron Campbell

 

 

 

 

And I Think to Myself…What the…???

OK I just find this interesting. Some say I am easily entertained.

It is true.

 

sea saltSea salt is not a natural source of iodine.

 

However, the shellfish that live in the sea contain significant levels of the element.

shellfish market

And this:

You can get Vitamin D from sunlight.

farmer enjoying sunshine

 

Mushrooms, which grow in places without much sunlight, are a great source of Vitamin D.  small_mushrooms_200614

 

Isn’t that curious?

Now you can wow people at dinner parties.

You’re welcome. 😉

The Best Gift

Lately I seem to be surrounded by a fair number of people who have found happy romantic relationships the second, third, even fourth time around. Everywhere I look people are showing wedding photos, talking about just-the-two-of-us vacations and date nights, while I hang out with the two furry loves of my life, Gandalf and Pippin.

My phone is filled with photos of Pippin doing cat yoga and the three of us going for walks.

advanced cat yoga

 

Gandalf, Pippin and me on a walk

cat yoga

 

 

 

 

 

 

Not that I am bored or unhappy or want to start dating again, mind you. I didn’t like dating the first time around and am even less enthusiastic about it now. I have been almost asked out twice in the last couple of years and I basically hyperventilated and fled on each occasion.

Let’s just say I have trust issues.

So maybe it was also because Spring was in the air that I found myself in a Princess Bride state of mind, wondering: Is there really Twoo Wuv? Is there truly someone for everyone? And if so, how many frogs does one have to kiss, for Pete’s sake??

Whatever the reason, I was feeling a teensy bit sorry for myself and my moodiness increased as the day wore on. Night came and as nothing looks good when I’m tired we turned in: Pippin to his apartment on the patio, Gandalf to the cool tile floor and me to bed.

Ten hours later, it seems that all I needed was a good sleep. The cloud of pity from the day before had dissipated as I slept and I made plans for the day over coffee. Gandalf and I headed out for our morning walk and stepping through the front door I nearly threw a hip out attempting to avoid the tiny inert body on my door mat.

Dead mouse, courtesy of Pippin.

I stuck the landing (scored a 9.5), collected my chapstick and keys which had gone flying and stood there in the sun, overcome with wonder. Not at the mouse, but by what it represented.

Love.

Not just from Pippin, who was weaving around my legs and meowing with pride, or from Gandalf, waiting patiently.

But from...everywhere and everything.

I was not only loved, I was beloved, and I belonged in this house, this time, this life.

I was home, I was good, I was…keeping Gandalf and Pippin waiting.

Am I overly sentimental?

Possibly.

Am I one of the luckiest people in the world?

Absofreakinglutely.

 

Gandalf and Pippin snoozing together