Saturday, August 30, 2014

ALS Ice Bucket Challenge


A few days ago, I was nominated for the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge by a very good friend of mine.  I realize we're supposed to respond within 24 hours or donate to the ALS cause, but it's been a few days now and I haven't posted a video.  If I don't do the challenge, will people assume that means I donated $100 towards this insidious disease?  Maybe.  I'm not totally clear how it works, but the fact of the matter is I didn't donate, nor did I accept my nomination for the challenge.
I've wrestled with my feelings about this whole thing since videos of it started popping up in my Facebook news feed in the last few weeks.  Part of me loves the fact that people are uniting and doing something outrageous in hopes of fighting something so awful and, apparently, previously underfunded in research.  My kids and I have enjoyed watching our friends dump icy water on their heads.   Part of me wants to join them and feel like maybe I'm doing something good and silly (and cold!) at the same time. 

Previous to the ice bucket challenge, I didn't know much about ALS.  I am very appreciative of the awareness that this Ice Bucket Challenge has brought, for myself and the world at large, about this deadly disease.  I've done some research and felt a depth of compassion for people affected by ALS, namely my friend Katie who's father died from this when she was a teen.  Anytime I can expand my awareness about something, I am grateful, and....


...there are so many things to be aware of that are terrible and horrible in this world.  It feels like there's some sort of contest between horrible things to grab at attention and tug the world's compassion strings.  How can I do it all?   How can I fund every cause, every 5K race raising money for a tough disease, every homeless person on the corner, every infomercial with those heart-melting brown eyes and those malnourished bodies, every phone solicitor with stories about the families of fallen firefighters, every college kid that stands at my door with hope on their sleeve and a story on their lips of how they are trying to turn their life around and can-you-please-help-me-by-just-buying-one-or-two-magazine-subscriptions??   It just doesn't end and it breaks my heart to think of the enormity of the challenges that exist for people I know and love as well as people I don't know at all, but love still.  If that's all I focus on in this world, I'll be overwhelmed, feel impotent and be miserable.
So, the cause is great, yes... as are so many causes.  And there is a part of me that wants to participate.  It's FUN!  It's FOR CHARITY!  It's getting INVOLVED and doing so without any other sort of commitment!  Just DOOO IT, CLANCY!.... But, down at some deep, core level FOR ME (not judging this for anyone else, just going through my own process here) I struggle with the fact that social media is pressuring/shaming me into either donating to a cause I've only just heard of and/or dumping ice water on my head.

I don't like being shamed into doing something, whether I agree with the cause or not.  I don't like that I worry if people will think I'm a jerk because I don't participate.  Shame is something that, thanks to my own Devan Martin, Developmental Life Coach Extraordinaire, and Brene Brown, author, I've been increasing my awareness of in myself.  I'm learning to set boundaries and say NO.  If I give in to the shame triggers, I am working from my fear-place rather than truer, deeper part of me that is slowly and powerfully emerging, the part of me that is present and aware.
And so, my dear Jenna, who so playfully and lightheartedly nominated me, I lovingly decline the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. The challenge I accept is my own growth... learning be aware of my shame triggers, to set a boundary and to say no, publicly and decidedly.
Please know that this is my own process and anyone who takes the challenge and posts their own videos will still be delightfully watched by my children and I.  Douse on, America.

(This thing from Mike Rowe was also influential in the coalescing of my thoughts regarding the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge... please read, if you'd like.)

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Not the Only One

So, I just picked up a comment on my last post from my excellent friend Larrie.  She wrote:

"Let me just say this: you are missed.

I meant to post a comment on this the second I saw you had published again because I wanted you to know, I'm WATCHING for you. I am such a creepy stalker.

You'll get out of your slump. Just remember: it's good enough. You don't need bloody amazing brilliance to post something. You are pretty amazing, though, so even the little things... "this happened today, or my kid said this one silly thing" will still be superb. You have the touch, lady."

I have read and re-read this comment about a dozen times.  you are missed.  you are missed.  you are missed.  you are missed.

I am missed.  I guess I'm not the only one missing the writer in me.

Larrie, you moved me.  Thanks for the comment.  This one is for you.


This happened today:

Dustin woke me from a dead sleep a little after six this morning.  This bothers me so much less in these longer days of summer than it does in the dark of winter.  6:00 a.m. and I... we didn't used to be friends, no matter the season.  But my body is changing as I've relaxed into my thirties and 6:00 a.m. likes me better than it used to.  And I like it back.  Sometimes.

Today I didn't like it so much, but that was largely to do with the place I was at in my sleep cycle.  I was having a dream, a very vivid, clear, and realistic dream that involved the renter-from-hell who sued me and I sued her back. (living the American dream, Larrie!) She had married a different fellow and she had turned fairly sophisticated and lived in a nice house with beautiful furnishings. (not the case last time I knew this person)  For some reason I can't remember, I was in her fancy house and we were being cordial to each other.  She handed me a check for $300 (for what, I do not know) and she did it willingly and without malice.  Then I went and played Frisbee with my kids in a park that had a big cement wall and lots of tall, fluffless dandelion stalks that made the grass feel alien and creepy.

Now that I've typed all that, I think that was actually yesterday's dream.  I felt peaceful when I woke up from that dream, in spite of the creepy dandelion stems and the fact that the worst-renter-ever was in my dream... but today, when I woke up, I just felt confused.  And I can't remember the dream I woke up from except that I didn't know where I was as I looked into my husband's green/brown eyes.

He asked me if I wanted to go for a walk.  I did, but I was so tired and still so dazed that I just lay in my bed for a while.  When he came back in and I got up, I stood looking at my clothes for at least 2 full minutes.  I couldn't seem to figure out what to put on my body.  I could hardly focus on anything.  I think I was probably still mostly asleep.

It took longer than usual, but I am happy to report that I successfully dressed myself in appropriate attire and had an early morning date with my DustintheWind.  He's the greatest, you know?  I've mentioned that before, though it's been a couple years.  Nothing has changed except we are older and happier.

But not too old.

We, in fact, made part of my dream a reality by playing Frisbee in the [creepy dandelion filled] park tonight with the kids. See... not too old at all.

But the most remarkable thing about this whole meandering post is that I think my dream (yesterday) gifted me more than a forecast for my future family Frisbee adventures.  I've thought of this tenant many many times since I woke up yesterday and I feel a peace every time I think of her since the dream.  Instead of feeling the sneering dislike of the past, I just have a few fleeting thoughts of well wishes and a hope that she actually can be as calm and, if not kind, cordial and free of malice as she felt in my dream.  I think my heart is done harboring anger toward her, and that is a shock and a balm to the parts of my mind she was still inhabiting.

Dreams, for the WIN!

Tuesday, May 13, 2014


"There is melancholy in the wind and sorrow in the grass"   
                                                   ~Charles Kuralt

There is a pervasive sense of melancholy to this day.  My eyes feel tired and burning and my head feels full, just like I've been crying long and hard.  Which I haven't.  I don't really know how to write anymore but, regardless, it feels like an answer to the question I didn't know I asked.

That part of me that used to hit "Publish" every day with such boldness has atrophied.  I've become fearful and small again.  The ease I had in expressing myself was swallowed in the last four or five years of quiet.  I've had growth in different ways, and I trust the process of my life, but I'm sad for this part of myself.  I miss it.

The optimist in me wants to conclude with something hopeful and light, but the rest of me just wants to swear and curse and tell that optimist that things don't always have to be light and fun in the end.  Sometimes, like getting sick from eating something bad, you just have to sit in the melancholy and let it move through you.  


Thunderclouds will empty their stomachs
And brother Wind will blow them to another place.
Far away, they will dissipate or morph,
They will become harmless puffs
Or shiny wisps,
Where people dream of bright things again.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

The Sea

Almost exactly a year ago, I was in Phoenix, Arizona shopping in a store with two of my dearest friends.  Thumbing through the art section, I picked up a print.  It was simple.  Large, white border with a circulare image of a calm ocean.  A fine text underneath read this:

"The cure for anything is salt water.  Sweat, tears or the sea.   ~Isak Dinesen"

We all loved the sentiment, but the piece seemed too simplistic and small for the price tag.  We all passed it by, but the words never left me. 

Months ago now, I decided to paint three pictures of the ocean with watercolor, add that simple and powerful quote, and gift it to these two amazing women and keep one for myself.  I did just that.  I have mine hanging in my house. 

This last week I was doing a project that involved going through a journal from 2006/2007 wherein I recorded thoughts from my life-coach sessions.  As I was reading through these notes, I saw an instruction: Read A Year by the Sea.  Those instructions seemed to light up.  Those words.  They called to me from 8 years ago and I jotted the name down and checked to see if the library had it.  "Checked In", the website said.  The next day I had the book in my hands.

I am an avid reader, but for some reason, it's been very difficult to read for the last six months or so.  In spite of that, I started reading, A Year by the Sea this afternoon and finished it a few minutes ago... just before midnight.   

This story, this writing... it was full of beauty and truth and I couldn't put it down. 
For months I've wondered at the quote I loved so much... sweat, tears or the sea.  I know sweat.  I know tears.  But the sea?  I live in Idaho.  I don't know the sea.  And I certainly don't know it as a cure for anything at all.  Why did that quote stick with me for so long?  Tonight, as I read and loved this memoir about a woman awakening to herself, I couldn't help but notice the connection.  The sea. 

My Idaho Sea. 

As I sit here writing, rusty and sleepy... fighting the nod-offs and trying not to succumb to the exhaustion I'm feeling.. I am grateful for the synchronicity that brought me the Sea.    And in spite of my not being able to finish a sentence because I keep nodding off, I am going to hit publish because I need to.  Rusty writer be damned, I found the Sea.