Making a life

The fireflies have appeared and flowers on the trumpet vine have blossomed. (I know they’re invasive, but they’re so beautiful, and they’re taking over the yard, and the blooms attract hummingbirds. Such is the yin and yang of life.)

One of many trumpet vines blooming around the yard.

Monday morning it was a refreshing 55 degrees as I surveyed my wild green yard.

What a difference two nights of regular sleep make. That and a leisurely walk with the dog, a return to bullet journaling and giving myself checkmarks for 15 minutes chunks of time spent cleaning and/or organizing my living space.

Here’s another area of gardens with wildflowers I planted several years ago. They’re finally coming in.

I’m beginning to feel human again, even hopeful that there might be better days ahead than the ones currently confining and defining my existence.

This morning I watched Jennifer Louden‘s Monday video at The Writers Oasis. Perhaps because of the different head space I was in, these words of hers gobsmacked me: “I love the way I’m making my life.”

One of my favorites.

Simple enough. The concept is simple.

Jen talked about pleasure (desire) and freedom and choice — that we are free to choose how we react to things in our life and we choose what to add to our life. As Jen said, she decides what to read, how she will react to the wind in the trees, how she creates a life with her husband and with her dog. She decides how to spend her time and what she focuses on.

None of this is new to me; not really. We are always being told that we alone are responsible for our choices. But today it struck me differently. There’s something about the words “making a life” and “choosing my life” and even “loving the life I am making” that resonated.

Love how dainty these are, and the color.

I often hear “create your life,” and it could be argued they’re the same. But for me, making my life is a different thing.

Making means building, taking individual components and piecing them together to design and craft the whole. It’s active in a hands-on sense that creating doesn’t get to for me. Maybe it’s that “create your life” is overused. It’s a nuance for sure.

I found this new wild black raspberry bush growing in the front of the house. I already have several in the backyard.

Here’s what I know: For the first time in a long while I felt it was possible to love this life I’m making, and in doing so to love the process of making it.

Jen inspired me to be more intentional about the decisions I make and putting my attention on what I want rather than what I need (or think I need). The latter feels small and grasping; the former as wide open as the sky.

6:25 a.m., The Boathouse, Gun Lake

The water like glass

Reflects rippled clouds, a golden streak of sunlight;

The lake bottom is clear, small bits of white shells like baby teeth strewn about.

Black bugs pirouette above, briefly land to touch their partners: their silhouettes.

A fish disturbs the surface, leaving popples as it dips back beneath.

Something small — a minnow — skips across the water like a stone.

Overhead a great blue heron flies by, with a rhythmic pumping of wings.

The sun, which moments ago examined its face in the flat surface

Like a mirror,

Tucks back behind the clouds.

Another minnow leaps, this time 1-2-3 skips.

Beyond the water’s edge, birds chirp and twitter, simple sparrows. But is any of this simple? And isn’t it all?

A boat rumbles closer, traffic sounds rimming the lake pick up. It is a work day.

The spell is broken. And yet, it doesn’t have to be.

This snapshot, like a postcard, will remind me: I was here. I breathed this all in on June 19, 2019.

Like the dancing insects, like the shy sun,

I saw my heart’s reflection here,

and in the memory of yesterday’s unexpected visitors: a turtle and a toad (carrying messages I so needed to hear).

These can bring me here again and again

Until I return next year, to this place, to these writer friends, pen and notebook in hand.

Writing is risky business

Writing is risky business. You are a fisher of pearls.

You must be willing to jump in with both feet, submerge yourself (yes, head under water), go deep, scrape the bottom.

(While you’re there, sit awhile, like you did at those underwater tea parties you had with your childhood girlfriends. Enjoy yourself.)

Look around. Notice. See what you see. Then pick up treasures, as many as you can. Tuck them into your T-shirt, bottom edge rolled up into a long pocket. Fill it — and then fill it some more.

There will come a time when you can hold your breath no longer. Swim back to the surface (kick kick kick), breathe, empty your pearls onto the waiting page, and dive back in.

Fortunes and such

I stopped in for Chinese food after my prison writing workshop. This was in my fortune cookie. ☺️

When I posted a photo on Facebook, my friend, Nanette, responded, “You already have!”

Bless you, Nanette. ❤️

‘Just do it’

I’ve neglected this space for two weeks.

I wrote a little bit about the reason — the birth of my granddaughter — here. But that’s only part of it. Honestly, I haven’t felt much like writing. I lost my appetite for it. Maybe just briefly.

Hopefully just briefly. Writing has always been my way in the world.

Mind you, even now, it’s not that I have nothing to say. Thoughts run wild through my brain. But I won’t pick up a pen, even to journal, although I tell myself I really want to. Why don’t I?

It feels heavy, like too much work. And who cares anyway, is what I tell myself.

Over the weekend I delighted myself by “Just do[ing] it” with regard to sone housework tasks I’ve put off, because it feels like too much work. I heard my friend Bobbi’s voice: “Sometimes how you feel is irrelevant. Just do it.”

I just did it. I folded piles of laundry, washed dishes, changed out porch lightbulbs (all four — burned out since I can’t remember when), cut the mailing labels off a box of writing magazines to take to my prison writers. (I’ve been tripping over that box for a month.)

It felt great, hence the delight.

Even this post. I began it five days ago and there it sat. For no reason other than I didn’t feel like writing it. Even though I wanted to. Which is baffling to me.

So there. I did it. I finished the blog post.

Now to that journal.

Beautiful irises in my garden … and, in the background, the bane of my existence: a long row of poison ivy.

On a miracle

I’ve been off the grid for a wonderfully beautiful reason.

My daughter, son-in-law and grandson welcomed a new baby into their family on Mother’s Day!

My granddaughter is perfect and precious, and I’m so grateful to have been with them for this miracle, which puts everything into a new perspective.

As my friend, Jeannie, said, “It just reminds you how pure we are when we start …”

How hard it is to work our way back to that knowing without this kind of blessed reminder!

The ‘good girl’

So late last week, the Universe, in her infinite wisdom, presented a wonderful opportunity to practice “enoughness” — to notice my thoughts on that topic with curiosity rather than judging myself as lacking.

“Enoughness” is knowing and believing I am enough, without needing affirmation, confirmation, or even recognition from other people.

It’s a tough task for me. It has been my whole life. You’d think I would have it nailed by now.

The backstory. Without divulging too many details (for safety reasons — this is a small town), I recognized a “bad guy,” in the vernacular of my cop friends, at one of my workplaces. This individual was wanted by the authorities, but because of company policy and procedure I couldn’t alert them (or lose my job), and those in charge at the worksite didn’t seem to have any urgency about reporting his sighting.

As luck would have it, this person returned the following night, the police were called and they took him into custody.

It was an adrenaline rush, the kind I used to get at the newspaper covering courts, cops and fire. But more than that, I felt proud of myself for doing some detective work that led to his arrest. This initially was my payoff.

But in the days after, I wanted attention. I wanted recognition of my resourcefulness. I resented other people who inserted themselves in the arrest scenario. This is embarrassing to admit, but I told myself (and them in my head), “If it weren’t for me, there wouldn’t have been an arrest. This whole thing went down because of me (implied: and my brilliance 🙄).”

Now, I know that everyone loves a pat on the back, an atta-girl for a job well done, but this was something else. I craved it, as though my actions themselves would disappear if someone else didn’t confirm by praise … well, that I was a “good girl.” (See why it’s embarrassing?)

I struggled with staying open and curious about these feelings. This time, when I felt the fear or hostility rise up, I talked to myself gently. I reminded myself that I was enough, that I knew what I did was enough, and that although kudos are nice, my knowing was enough. I didn’t need anyone’s validation.

On a recent Writers Oasis audio, Jennifer Louden talked about practice and patterning. As it is with practicing a new skill or habit to get better at it, so it is with our thoughts — even the negative ones. The more we think those self-defeating or harmful thoughts, the more we’re “practicing” them, and the more ingrained they become as patterns of thinking.

What I am attempting to practice instead, with the goal of changing my thought pattern once and for all, is self-compassion, self-acceptance, and the belief, nay, the knowledge — that I am enough … and always have been.