Mar 122019
 

I lived in a beautiful, rural location on a dirt road next to a pond on top of a mountain, far more idyllic than isolating. It was a great place to live and to write. The pond itself provided plenty to watch — its various stages of liquid and solid and back again. Mirror-like reflections. Textures of the ice. Although spread quite far out, neighbors came together in late winter for an annual  “penguin plunge” and cookout. I’ll admit I was one of the people who waited for our spring-fed water feature to warm up — a lot — before going in.

Like any large, healthy body of water this one was home to some wonderful wildlife: fish, turtles, ducks, loons and, of course, the Canada geese. They came and went, announcing their arrival and departure with what I consider a beautiful song. From time to time they slowed our dirt road’s twice-a-day “traffic” with the strutting and waddling it took to migrate from their nesting area to the water’s edge.

The Canada geese came and went, announcing their arrival and departure with a beautiful song. Click To Tweet

I spent a lot of time on that dirt road. Whenever it was time to take a break — or sometimes just for fun — I took time to walk that dirt road. Sometimes aimlessly, sometimes purposefully, with dogs and without. I took photographs. I enjoyed the sites and sounds. It smelled of balsams and of forest must. I found it both inspiring and peaceful. For a long time, it was a place I thought was free of violence.

I'm sure I'll be accused of anthropomorphizing if I call it grieving, but that's exactly what it was. Click To Tweet

That image was shattered the day I found one of these magnificent geese, flattened beside the road. Given the location of the body, it was clear that someone had quite deliberately driven off the road, specifically to kill it. I was heartsick and couldn’t get the situation out of my head — especially when for days after I could see its partner hovering and pacing nearby. I’m sure I’ll be accused of anthropomorphizing if I call it grieving but that’s exactly what it was. I spent days wrestling with the need to take some sort of action. But how does one memorialize a goose?

Part of my outrage was the idea that geese had been nesting here long before there were humans. Rational humans who lived around the pond knew that we were on the flight path. But what kind of irrationality, ignorance,  or rage would provoke someone to drive onto the grassy shoulder in order to murder an innocent animal? And although directed at an animal, that violence shattered something in me… something about our peaceful place. Something about safety.

Although directed at an animal, that violence shattered something in me... something about our peaceful place. Something about safety. Click To Tweet

Eventually, it came to me that perhaps it was not a memorial that was needed but sanctuary: a place of refuge. But how would we accomplish that? There was a will — a will to find a way.

Mar 062019
 

All set to write a number of blog posts, I suddenly felt as if I’d run into a wall. And, I was going pretty fast when I hit that wall. The wind had been knocked out of me and everything felt like a tremendous effort to do something that normally brings me joy. If I were a person who believed in writers’ block, I imagine this is how it would feel.

If I were a person who believed in writers' block, I imagine this is how it would feel. Click To Tweet

But, since I’m not a big believer, I kept my fingers moving. The results were ugly. I was in a foul mood. Pissed off. Angry. Frustrated.  About what? Pretty much everything: child abuse and sexual assault and racism and prejudice toward the LGBTQ community.

I was in a foul mood -- about too many things. Click To Tweet

One way to deal with such an honest but ugly picture is to step away from the project so I decided that reading might be a better option. I picked up one of the many books I’d purchased at recent book festival trips. Unfortunately, that moved the mood meter event further down: my heart broke for the authors who had gone through the joy and hard work of publishing a book but appeared to have cut corners on the use editors and proofreaders. While these writers might have great stories and experiences to share, their credibility is gone. In the first three pages.

While these writers might have great stories and experiences to share, their credibility is gone in the first three pages. Click To Tweet

At that point, I was tempted to call it a day but had an in-person appointment in my home office: it’s not easy to get away from those.

There was a knock on the office door. Actually, it was more like a loud “thud.” A thud that was strong enough to open the door and let the puppy roll in. Literally, roll. She’s not too good on her feet yet.

The sun had come out and I wanted her to be able to come in and out without having to bang on the door so I got up to prop it open.

She shot past me, back into the yard. The big dogs were waiting and so started a vigorous game of bounce, pounce, and zoom. Rolling in the herbs, digging in the sandpit, playing “kill me.” Then they’d all drop down, take a breather, and start racing again. I was witnessing pure joy. It touched my heart and lifted my spirit.

The big dogs were waiting and so started a vigorous game of bounce, pounce, and zoom. Click To Tweet

And, in the face of pure joy, nothing else matters.

 

Feb 272019
 

I’ve been thinking a lot about congruence — a word and a concept I was introduced to a long time ago. Back then, I was a scrambling single mom so the closest I could come was to know that most of my frenetic activity was aimed toward making a living and being a good mother. So why, then, did the concept of congruence make such a lasting impression?

Why did the concept of congruence make such a lasting impression? Click To Tweet

Congruence is defined, in part, as “agreement or harmony; compatibility.” I remember the workshop leader focusing on those concepts in day-to-day life. She talked a lot about consistently matching one’s behavior to values and beliefs. Walking the talk. The opposite of conflict.

When I worked on projects or for organizations that were headed in the wrong direction, a big part of my job was to ferret out incongruity. Finding out where an organization’s words and deeds were working against one another was often the most direct path to repair.
But how does the concept of congruence apply to individuals? The simplest example is an old meme from the ’60s and ’70s — lecturing about the “evils of marijuana” with an alcoholic drink in hand. Most of our personal peccadillos are not quite so obvious.

There are lots of ways to take inventory of our beliefs versus our behaviors. One tried and true method to find uncover our real priorities is to take a close look at our calendars. Time is not a renewable resource so where we spend it is a pretty good indicator of what matters. Behavior doesn’t lie.

If you’re wondering what prompted this trip down memory lane the answer is pretty mundane. It’s coffee. And product promotion.

So how can someone have a conflict with coffee? There are lots of ways we can overthink these things but for me, it was the coffee maker. Years ago, I was gifted a Keurig. It was a generous gift. A great idea. But after adding little plastic cups to our trash for a period of time, I gave it away. While I liked the thought of making only as much as we needed, it just hurt my heart to think that my coffee habit was adding to the plastic pollution problem.

It hurt my heart to think my coffee habit was adding to the plastic pollution problem. Click To Tweet

About a year ago, another single cup coffee maker made its way into my life. We tried filling individual cups with the blend of choice but quickly tired of the chore. And then, while shopping for gifts for my most eco-conscious family members, the answer came. I’m not usually a product person but I can’t shut up about this one. I “discovered” TaysT coffee, a company that provides completely compostable individual coffee brew thingies. It can all go into the compost — the box, the envelopes the coffee comes in… even the burlap that’s used in the wrapping. And the coffee is good, too.

I don’t generally write about products but occurs to me that I’m excited about this one because it solves a problem for me. Maybe not even a problem but a nagging ethical dilemma. And consistency in this area makes me happy. Are there a million or so ways I could be more congruent or more environmentally conscious? Of course. But I’m one who believes that our climate and pollution problems are more likely solved by 100 million people doing things a little bit right than 10 million doing it exactly right.

 

Feb 132019
 

From traditional Valentine’s Day to Galentine’s Day (the celebration of love for our girlfriends), over-priced roses and enormous amounts of chocolate…this week, there is a bit more love in the air than usual. Here on the island, we’re fortunate to add our love of reading, writing, and other authors into the mix with the Amelia Island Book Festival starting on Valentine’s Day. An author luncheon, a gala, a book expo and, of course, an #IndieAuthor reception… it’s going to be delicious. And all of that is followed by the anniversary of my marriage to the love of my life — someone known online as “Favorite Husband.” My heart is full.

“Love yourself first and everything else falls into line. You really have to love yourself to get anything done in this world.”— Lucille Ball

We accept the love we think we deserve. Click To Tweet

“We accept the love we think we deserve.” ― Stephen Chbosky, The Perks of Being a Wallflower 

“The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference. The opposite of art is not ugliness, it’s indifference. The opposite of faith is not heresy, it’s indifference. And the opposite of life is not death, it’s indifference.” ― Elie Wiesel

“My six word love story: I can’t imagine life without you.” – Anonymous

My six word love story: I can’t imagine life without you. Click To Tweet

“We’re all a little weird. And life is a little weird. And when we find someone whose weirdness is compatible with ours, we join up with them and fall into mutually satisfying weirdness—and call it love—true love.” ― Robert Fulghum, True Love

“Love all, trust a few, do wrong to none.” ― William Shakespeare, All’s Well That Ends Well

“There is nothing I would not do for those who are really my friends. I have no notion of loving people by halves, it is not my nature.” ― Jane Austen, Northanger Abbey

“It’s pretty much always love.” – Diana Gabaldon

It's pretty much always love. Click To Tweet

 

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