Oct 162019
 

Home is where the heart is. Where the dogs are. Home is where there’s always something that needs attention — could be laundry or groceries or dust bunnies and dog hair. Yes, home is where there’s always something that needs attention and today that makes me smile. I’ll get to what I can and the rest can wait. I’m home from a few more adventures than I’d anticipated, settling in, and happy about it.

The travel has been a little overwhelming: Favorite Husband and I took driving vacation which was quickly followed by a hurricane evacuation and a short visit from our now Krakow-based son.  The stars lined up for fairly spontaneous European adventure with a close friend and, finally (at least for a while, I hope) the 15-hour round trip drive to my first major German Shepherd Dog show. I’m bruised and sore and happy.

Seeing with Fresh Eyes

It’s interesting to be able to see home base with fresh eyes. Upon each return, we’ve managed to create fairly large donations to our local thrift store. My clothes closet is about 90% Kondo’d and roughly 500 linear feet of bookshelves have had a healthy trim. I’m getting ready to do it again. There was a time I couldn’t let go of that sort of thing: meaningful items just disappeared. At the time I didn’t get it. I think I’m glad. Healing and spontaneity and wonderful, enriching experiences that seems to make “stuff” less important.

There was a time I couldn’t let go: meaningful items just disappeared. Click To Tweet

Over the past few months I’ve met some wonderful people — and some real stinkers. The good ones have far outnumbered the others who, for better or worse, have provided me with lots of laughs. After all, the rude, the arrogant, and the entitled miss out on so much. Maybe they were put in my path to create contrast — like in a painting.

And now I’m home, hanging around with Favorite Husband and all three dogs. Back home in my lovely office. Taking care of the to-do list that sort of blew out to sea with the last major hurricane threat: a painting to the frame shop, an area rug to the cleaner. My book club starts up again tonight. Some chapters take an evening, others a month or more. And while the book discussion is good, the connections developed and deepened between the participants are even better. Close friendships with other women are another type of home.

Finally taking care of the to-do list that sort of blew out to sea with the last major hurricane threat... Click To Tweet

When Home is a Trap

There have been times that “home” made me feel stuck. Trapped. Overwhelmed. A partner who was impossible to satisfy: nothing was ever big enough, neat enough, tasty enough, or clean enough. The only item in the dirty laundry basket was usually the one he ”really needed.” Same for the groceries: whatever we were out of was what he wanted. Unfortunately, I loved him. So I tried.

The music was wrong. My clothes and my job were wrong. My friends were wrong. I was wrong. Always, always wrong. Despite owning the building and paying all the bills, I never, ever felt at home. Life was good when he was happy so it was my goal to keep him that way. And when the moments of happiness got shorter and further apart, I tried harder.

I began to sleep with easy-on clothes and shoes on the floor, just under the edge of my bed. I hid an extra key to my car. The day he finally hit me was one of the best days of my life: the emotional abuse was insidious. When he crossed the line, it was in a big way and I could no longer ignore it.

And here I am, reveling in being at home while sporting large bruises and being unconcerned about who sees them. I feel such gratitude about not caring whodunnit: I did, while I was out having fun with dogs and friends.dogs and friends. On my last adventure I tripped, resulting in some pretty intense bruising on the poor arm I used to prevent a much bigger fall. And when I was finished, I got to come home to a safe place. A very safe place.

But It’s Life and Death

How did I get from fun and adventure to domestic violence? Maybe it’s gratitude for the contrast. Or maybe it’s because a pink tsunami of well-funded breast cancer awareness groups have long ago overshadowed Domestic Violence Awareness month. While I appreciate the progress that has been made in treating breast cancer, I know that domestic violence thrives in secrecy and darkness. It’s not a sexy cause. There are no cute slogans. People don’t think about it — until they need to.

Domestic violence thrives in secrecy and darkness. It’s not a sexy cause. There are no cute slogans. People don’t think about it — until they need to. Click To Tweet

There are millions of men and women who are not safe in their homes. Some are well aware of their circumstances but know it’s not yet safe to leave. Others are like I was: being held emotionally hostage, groomed for the tangible violence to come.

I felt safe in my travels. I feel safe at home — where I’m overwhelmed with gratitude. And dust bunnies.

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The National Domestic Violence Hotline number is 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) or online at the Hotline.Help is available, free and confidential 24 hours per day, every single day. (Including holidays.)

The National Domestic Violence Hotline number is 1-800-799-SAFE (7233). Help is available, free and confidential 24 hours per day, every single day. #DVAM2019 Click To Tweet

Oct 092019
 

Returning from a wonderful adventure, I’m acutely aware of time. I think that’s something travel does for us, especially “adventure travel.” Don’t get me wrong: I’m not referring to trips that involve bungee jumping, whitewater rafting or the like but another type of adventure. The “follow-your-nose-throw-away-the-schedule-see what-comes-up” adventure.

Sometimes Favorite Husband would describe me as “clock challenged.” I prefer to think of our relationships with time as different styles.

If he doesn’t arrive at a local appointment at least 30 minutes early, he gets antsy. And we refer to me as the queen of “one more thing before we go.” Now that one more thing could be anything from an extra restroom trip to starting a load of wash or reading one more chapter. And, from time to time, I’m not all that great at estimating a project’s time to complete.

Never leave ’till tomorrow which you can do today.

~ Benjamin Franklin

How we spend our days, is, of course, how we spend our lives.

~ Annie Dillard

Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished. ~ Lao Tzu

Favorite Husband sometimes considers me “clock challenged.” I prefer to see my relationship with time through a different lens. Click To Tweet

So travel can make either or both of us a little nuts. There’s the highly structured time (primarily airport schedules) and then there’s the rest. As you might imagine, air travel — with its sometimes rigid and occasionally capricious scheduling — makes me a little nuts. Especially the part where I don’t get to do or check “one more thing” the day of. (Having grown up with my time craziness, my son used to call me around midnight before a big trip: partly to wish me safe travel and partly to tease and send me to bed.)

As you might imagine, air travel — with its sometimes rigid and occasionally capricious scheduling — makes me a little nuts. Click To Tweet

All great achievements require time. ~ Maya Angelou

 

My most recent adventure was with a friend. She and I travel well together — but usually by car. It’s a better fit for our flexible approach to travel. But Prague was on her bucket list and the only way to get there involved some significant air travel. But once on the ground? The schedules went out the window.

Neither of us cared what the clock said. Instead, we trusted ourselves to eat when we were hungry and sleep when we got tired. There were only two or three activities scheduled. Instead, we walked for miles, stopping at any and every place that piqued our interest. Meandering and discovery feeds my soul.

It is looking at things for a long time that ripens you and gives you a deeper meaning. ~ Vincent Van Gogh

An hour, once it lodges in the queer element of the human spirit, may be stretched to fifty or a hundred times its clock length. ~ Virginia Woolf

Perhaps sandwiching days of discovery between large, toasty slices of potential airport hell is part of what makes them so sweet. Click To Tweet

This is the travel style that makes space for serendipity and surprise. Coffee shops and bakeries. Conversation with friendly strangers with their recommendations of “don’t miss” places. Those recommendations are rarely for the big attractions but for “the building with the great statues on the front,” or “the best take-aways in your neighborhood.”

Perhaps sandwiching days of discovery between large, toasty slices of potential airport hell is part of what makes them so sweet. I don’t know. And, as I’m planning another short trip that will probably include a lot of airport-resembling schedules, I’m searching for ways to make space for serendipity. Always.

 

 

Sep 112019
 

Grow or go. I’ve been thinking a lot about personal growth and change. Although currently living in a reasonably comfortable routine, it’s a thought that keeps rising to the surface. Grow or go. It’s demanding my attention with the intensity of a toddler in need of a response. Now.

Perhaps it’s the impending change of season though, in reality, that’s pretty hard to gauge here in the South. I’d attribute it to years of dropping in to a solid back-to-school routine but, again, that happened about a month ago. Thanks to hurricane Dorian, we all kinda missed Labor Day and that particular calendar-changing marker, so that’s not it either.

In this season of severe, unsettled weather, I  wonder if it’s a body’s response to the sounds of cicadas and impending changes in barometric pressure.

Is such a restlessness a body’s response to the sounds of cicadas & changes in barometric pressure? Click To Tweet

Grow or go. But where to?

Yet I imagine, once again, that it’s that thing that lives inside of me: the one that mercilessly nudges me forward. It’s beyond restlessness but instead a strong, simple knowing that it’s time. Time to change. And, since I’m astoundingly happy with my life and much of what’s happening in it, I can’t help but wonder what sort of change is coming. I hope I like it. I usually do. Eventually. So please enjoy some thoughts on change as part of my clumsy efforts to figure out what I think.

I can’t help but wonder what sort of change is coming. I hope I like it. I usually do. Eventually. Click To Tweet

Those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything. ― George Bernard Shaw

When people are ready to, they change. They never do it before then, and sometimes they die before they get around to it. You can’t make them change if they don’t want to, just like when they do want to, you can’t stop them. ― Andy Warhol

When people want to change there’s no stopping them

Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.
Rob Siltanen

Nothing is so painful to the human mind as a great and sudden change. ― Mary Shelley, Frankenstein

The only lasting truth

All that you touch
You Change.

All that you Change
Changes you.

The only lasting truth
is Change.

God
is Change.

Octavia E. Butler

For what it’s worth: it’s never too late or, in my case, too early to be whoever you want to be. There’s no time limit, stop whenever you want. You can change or stay the same, there are no rules to this thing. We can make the best or the worst of it. I hope you make the best of it. And I hope you see things that startle you. I hope you feel things you never felt before. I hope you meet people with a different point of view. I hope you live a life you’re proud of. If you find that you’re not, I hope you have the courage to start all over again. Eric Roth

 

Change the way you look at things and the things you look at change. ― Wayne W. Dyer

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Aug 282019
 

Some of you know that Favorite Husband and I have been on a bit of an adventure. We loaded up my little van — Beverly Hillbillies style — and headed South where we spent our first night with Number One Son who was celebrating a birthday. After wonderful conversation and time with his family, we continued on to Amtrak’s auto train.

This was a new experience for me and, for the most part, their systems were impressive. I say for the most part because due to some signal and track issues (requiring manual intervention) we arrived three hours later than expected. My grandfather was a railroad conductor — somehow I think that made those things more intriguing than annoying. And given the loose nature of our itinerary, it didn’t much matter. More games and more grandkids and more catching up on the news of the day with the big folks before driving to Pittsburgh where we spent more wonderful family and friend time.

We loaded up my little van — Beverly Hillbillies style — and headed South. Click To Tweet

From there was a day-long drive to another place of family. It’s where I raised my son. My parents are still there. This was been our longest stop and allowed us to indulge in some breathtaking art and music. Just writing that sentence brings me joy. I mean, seriously, who gets to see Renoir, Picasso, and the rest of the gang before heading out to visit the summer home of the Boston Symphony Orchestra? To borrow a word from composer John Williams (who conducted part of the program) the virtuosity is humbling.

I mean, seriously, who gets to see Renoir, Picasso, and the rest of the gang before heading out to visit the summer home of the Boston Symphony Orchestra? Click To Tweet

Traveling by van and auto train is  much kinder and gentler than keeping airline schedules — especially on a trip with so much scheduling flexibility. Our travel “stuff” (mostly books and clothing) lives in the van. Each of us has a relatively small carry-on bag that we refresh before and after each stop. And that has me thinking about other carry-ons. We all have them.

What do we carry with us? Habits and personality traits. Experiences. Extra pounds. Wisdom. Flaws. Skills, tools and techniques. This trip is making me curious about what we carry with us — especially as they relate to new ventures. And, of course, are we carrying the right things? Or are there some we should ditch?

My good friend and fellow author Nancy Blanton and I have been carefully crafting and developing an author co-op; I find myself calling on all sorts of interesting contents of that beat-up old carry-on — especially the entrepreneurial influences of a family business, training and experience as a therapist, and a work history full of start-ups and turn-arounds.  Upon further inspection, my carry-on bag also has some research, training, speaking, and program development skills.  And, despite the fact that this trip does not include taking my shoes off for a TSA agent, I’ve even discovered a little bit of humor and creativity stashed inside of those 3-ounce containers inside of zip-up baggies.

My good friend & fellow author Nancy Blanton and I have been carefully crafting & developing an author co-op... Click To Tweet

So, what’s in your carry-on? What’s vital to your immediate comfort and safety? What kind of baggage is weighing you down? Is there anything you’re going to be able to leave behind? And what are the new things you’re making room for?

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