Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Germ Alert

With the staggered but steady start of the new academic year, a nasty virus is taking advantage of the fresh groupings of people to spread viciously through the population.

My husband picked it up at his school and brought it to both daughters, who now sadly have started the year by missing days of instruction within the first few weeks. My friend's husband picked it up at his site and gave it to their whole family. She was fresh back from Urgent Care with her youngest when I saw her at Back to School night yesterday. Everywhere I went on campus I heard teachers and families talking about being ill.

It's not even autumn. It's like 110 degrees out every day, and just miserable. It's not time for illness and tea and soup and blankets. What is going on??

At least, so far, I haven't come down with it besides a day of sniffles and headache. Good thing. With everyone counting on me, I can't afford to go down hard.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

If You Stay Ready, You Don't Have to Get Ready

Kind of drifting today. Getting lots of stuff done I suppose. Just doesn't feel like it since I am moving slow from here to there. Barely got the girl off to school. Cleaned the house up well. Wrote down all of June's events for the family journal. Went to a couple of stores and managed to get out without buying anything, just took care of some returns to whittle down the credit card balances. They're almost zeroed out now.

I'm used to buying stuff without thinking about it too much, so this last few weeks have been a big change of pace for me.

All to go along with the new school year.

Will Smith says "If you stay ready, you don't have to get ready." That's my new motto. Trying to keep the house always tidy enough for the steady stream of visitors that the school week brings. Trying to keep meals prepped and ready to go. Trying to stay ready for work and opportunities.

I wrote a good ending for a story last night. I feel pretty solid with it. My task this week is to write the beginning and the middle. I think I know mostly where it's going to go, although there will probably be a few surprises along the way.

Yeah, it's a good enough Tuesday.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

The View from Here

"Distance lends enchantment to the view."
- Mark Twain

A lovely woman from Bangladesh shared this quote with me at an Eid party last night. Everyone grouped in swirls of colors to eat delicious curries and joke raucously in Bangla. This morning, I facilitated a Board meeting for a Seventh Day Adventist nonprofit.

Wha?? Yeah, that's still my life these days.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

The Will Smith Path to Success

"The only thing that I see that is distinctly different about me is
I'm not afraid to die on a treadmill.
I will not be out-worked, period. You might have more talent than me,
you might be smarter than me, you might be sexier than me,
you might be all of those things
you got it on me in nine categories.
But if we get on the treadmill together, there's two things:
You're getting off first, or I'm going to die.
It's really that simple, right?"
-Will Smith

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Story, Story, Story

Everyone wants to get caught up in a story bigger than themselves. -
The Fundraising Authority

I keep coming back to the idea of story. It underlies everything we do and are. To show people how to make a story, and how to change a story, is to really make a difference in the lives of others.

Think about it.

Isn't story really everything?

Work I Want to Do

I am like Gertrude Stein today, walking and thinking my thoughts about writing. Flipping through the stack of ideas and possibilities I hold in my head. Over the last few years, I have had good ideas for several different writing projects and novels. But when it comes down to executing my concepts, I just haven’t found the enthusiasm to follow through. I find myself waiting until I find something that I think will somehow help the world by becoming a part of it. Otherwise, I am just contributing to a cacophony of noises. With the exception of this blog, where I write whatever I like with the understanding that no one else besides me is ever obligated to read it, I find that I have a deep desire to contribute something of true value to others.

I’ve been thinking lately about desire, carnal and otherwise. All the passions that motivate humans to be and feel and act as we do. Desires drive us, but they can also obscure us from ourselves if we become caught in blindly pursuing them without staying aware. Desire, motivation, ambition – those forces get me up in the morning; they get me going through the day’s activities and work. But they can also keep my attention only looking forward, on the future happiness to come. And then I forget to look right and left, up and down, at the happinesses all around me.

I’ve been going back through my stable of stories, looking over past work with an eye to submitting it. But even though I love those stories and they spring from various pivotal times in my life, I find little among them that I feel is of real use to anyone else. They are a snapshot of my thoughts, but they do not fill my need to send something into the world that can stand for me, something of which I can say “this is what I offer you.” That is the writing idea that I am still seeking. That is what I wish to work towards. I don’t think it will necessarily reward me with money, although I am certainly not against that. And I don’t think it will make me famous. Or give me 400,000 followers. Or put me on Yahoo Shine. But I do think it will matter. When I write it, it will feel worthy, and like it is beyond only my own selfish interests and experiences.

My thoughts turned to my various friendships, past and present. I reflected on the kinds of people that I have chosen to be my friends. Obviously, many of my friends are those with overlapping Venn diagrams, people whose lives share something with mine. Other mothers, other townspeople, other women of my age and income. But my dearest friends, those who have meant the most to me for the longest time in my life, are those who are also looking for something of themselves. Those who are looking and seem likely to find what they seek. Friends who have a certain youthful air, a hopefulness, an optimism, even perhaps a bit of immaturity as if life hasn’t quite taught them yet all that they need to learn. When I talk to them, I feel much younger than my actual years. I feel as if almost anything in life is still possible ,and that if we support and encourage each other, we will find out what possibility means. And it will be good.

And it will help others.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

My Favorite Season is Coming

I know it's only August. But with the start of school and the cool mornings, it feels like Autumn. Soon it will be time to get out my earth-colored clothes and look for those signs of the harvest season. :)

Work Style

Realizing that I have mild ADHD has been a revelation. It has made me so much more patient and encouraging with myself. Now, I better understand my preferred style of working and getting things done, and I have insight into my strengths and my weaknesses brought to me by my fast-but-distractible brain.

Work's good though. It's all good. The things I write for my classes are well-received and I feel a growing sense of competence and ease with writing. And work's nice and steady too. So that's truly all good.

In a radio interview today, a venture capitalist turned spiritual scholar was talking about humans who are considered great by others. He said that often they had created a certain sense of detachment from success. They had stopped pursuing money, fame, or other reward, and almost turned their backs on traditional success. And then it came knocking at the door anyway.

That intrigued me. I wondered in what ways I am holding onto my ideas of success. And in what ways I could let it go, and simply be in the process of the working.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Life Gets Better

With the school year off to a successful start, I am left making the transition back to my regular work routine. Right now, I'm actually in a bit of a rest-phase, a few days' limbo, as I wait for responses to my most recent questions and clients' directions for the next set of work assignments. So, oddly, just as everyone goes back to their busy days, my time has opened up. :)  My daily yoga subbing is ended with the return of our studio's teachers from various vacations, and my writing slate is open.

So although I feel a bit guilty, I really do have some free time to just dabble here. (I've even been catching up on housework lately -- doing things like scrubbing floors and putting away laundry. Wow.)

I often reflect back to my past, and compare it to my present. In general, my life has gotten better and better as I've gotten older. I'm at a place where I am mostly contented with my experiences and the way I spend my time. I even realize that I really like the way my life goes on a day to day basis, especially how spoiled I am with self-determined time usage. Having time is a luxury akin to having lots of money, and perhaps is in an inverse relationship with having lots of money. :) I know that my only real concern right now is finances and earning enough money to provide for my children's future needs. Otherwise, things are great. And I can't even complain about that too much, because at least I am working steadily. And at two different jobs. So you know, it's pretty good.

I'm always thinking lots about relationships and how people get along with each other. That whole area of being human fascinates me. I'm a natural giver and a natural carer, so I've learned to value relationships in my life above all else. They are the literal riches of a life well-lived.

I think often of my friends, current and past. I have close friends, and further friends, and a few special friends who I don't speak with often (or at all) but who are still close to my heart. I hope they are all okay.

With my number of friends. I never really feel lonely, even when I have the luxury of being all alone, because their warmth, and their unique personalities are always with me, whether we have lunch dates during the week or live states away from each other. In friendships based on lasting factors -- mutual respect, shared interests, affection, trust -- feelings of warmth and caring transcend even time and space. As it should be.

Friday, August 9, 2013

New Schools, New Lives

The start of this school year is equal parts exhilarating and terrifying. Exhilarating because my daughters are both at new schools, moving on to the next significant stage of their lives. I dropped the "little" one off for her first day of seventh grade and watched her shoulder her backpack and navigate across the street, eager to tackle the year and make new friends. I watched my older girl disappear between the big steel bars that gate her new high school, dwarfed by the immense concrete buildings of the place, yet strangely fitting in on this new campus.

It's terrifying for the exact same reasons as above. The girls are growing up; they aren't babies any longer, or toddlers, or children. They are people in their own right and just a hop, skip, and a jump away from their own cars, jobs, apartments, and lives. Eek.

We've done well with them I know, and they will do well. I have confidence. And I am eager to see who they will become.

But, there I sit in my car, watching my daughters walk certainly further and further away, and I return to this screen, and my own life, waiting here, which I am still in the middle of crafting.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Summer Turns to Fall

Life never stagnates; it just keeps changing.

When you have a family, this is especially noticeable. Before I'd even had time to reflect properly on the end of the school year and the feeling of leaving behind elementary school forever, summer was upon us.

Before we've even had time to feel that summer started properly, it is already over. Oh my. It seems that the days keep passing more and more quickly as we stay busy with so much to do. I know that I've worked quite a bit this summer, especially teaching yoga where I have subbed in for other teachers almost half the days last month and this one. Having that steady work commitment made the time pass quickly.

I never did have those long leisurely hours that I thought I could fill with writing. Remember that daily schedule I had so carefully worked out?: ) I just never got a good chance to put it into practice. Each day seemed to be already filled with its own activities and obligations.

Still, it has been an incredibly peaceful time, with a lot of contentment in our family. Even if it never did quite materialize into glorious hot days at the beach and pool, or out exploring exotic cities, there have certainly been worse summers.

Now it's August 1, which is technically summer for a long while yet. But for our family, the routines and demands of the school year are back upon us.

Goodbye, Phoebe

We had to put Phoebe to sleep on Saturday, July 20.

AS the day wore on, she became more and more ill. She struggled to breathe and she wouldn't eat or drink anything, not even water syringed into her mouth.

She spent her whole last day, here at home with us, being held and cuddled. For a while, she slept in her cage and I noticed that her friend Riley was curled up with her, letting Phoebe use her as a pillow. I really didn't want to let her go, but I could see that it was time, and her life here was done.

I was very, very sad. We all cried. It's been a sad time without her cheerful presence in our home.