Jun 042019
 

As kids, we played follow the leader. Writers and other creatives have followers on their blogs and various social media platforms. And some of us have been followed by an idea. That idea could be anything from free beer to permaculture. A kegger or a system of natural farming with appealing such appealing foundations as:

– care for earth

– care for people

– fair share

I’m a fan of systems thinking. Making decisions in a vacuum has never appealed to me; I’d be hard-pressed to think of a choice or decision that didn’t impact more people, places or things than initially meets the eye. So, to do what we can to make healthy choices for the earth makes sense — and, for the most part, is good for people. And most gardeners already have a handle on that second one: they share extra produce with their neighbors — especially all that yellow squash and zucchini!

Most gardeners already have a handle on caring for people: they share extra produce with their neighbors -- especially all that zucchini! Click To Tweet

And, finally, once we’ve shared with our neighbors, the surplus is reinvested to make the system stronger. Favorite Husband was known as the King of Compost long before we recognized permaculture. It’s not always pretty but, for us, it is the right way to go and produces results in the next planting season.

But, while I try to farm organic, I’m starting to think the garden slugs and sugar ants are going to drive me to defoliants and DDT. Soon. Did you know that, while benign-looking,  those slugs can eat the living hell out of young plants? They make holes. Big holes. They’re almost as destructive as deer.

And ants? When they’re outside, they are wonderful. They build healthy soil many times faster than earthworms and here in the sandy South, that’s something to appreciate. But, for the first time since we’ve been here, there’s a variety that appears to have decided that being out in the sun isn’t healthy and that underground living isn’t for them. They’re coming into the house. Ewww.

As I said, at this level of frustration, my first impulse is to turn to the heavy chemicals. But I know that’s not good for the people or the (invited) pets who live here. So later today I’ll be using glass jars with holes poked into their tops to make sugar and borax filled ant traps. Slower but safer for Favorite Husband and my four-footed loved ones.

But what about the free beer? The short version is that, just like their human counterparts,* garden slugs like beer — the cheaper and nastier the better. Free beer is best. These guys are going for quantity over quality.

Free beer is best. These guys are going for quantity over quality. At least they die happy, right? Click To Tweet

The like it so much that they will dive into little containers just below the surface of the garden soil to have a drink.  The problem (for them anyway) is that there are no bar stools in the little containers: they are slug-sized vats and, to have their own little keg parties in my garden, the critters need to hop in. Directly into the beer. And they drink and drown and die. (Why do I always think about my ex when I set out beer traps?)

At least they die happy, right?

 

*Disclaimer: I refer here specifically to the Original Bad Boyfriend and other lazy sponges I’ve known in my time on the planet. This does not apply in any way to more civilized folk. In fact, some of my favorite people are beer drinkers.

 

Feb 052019
 

“It was a dark and stormy night.” Oh, no. Wait. That’s for bad fiction. This is a story about bad reality. Medical reality. In a hospital.  Well, maybe not all that bad. Judge for yourself.

I had been diagnosed with a fairly significant bulge in my neck — a disc that was creating a lot of pain and causing lots of trouble with my right hand and arm. So, after multiple x-rays, MRI’s and doctors’ visits, surgery was scheduled.

Despite my conviction that my right hand would soon again be fully functional, I was a bit of a wreck: I'd not been overnight in a hospital since the birth of my son. Click To Tweet

Despite my conviction that my right hand would soon again be fully functional, I was a bit of a wreck: I’d not been overnight in a hospital since my son was born almost 40 years ago.

We arrived for surgery at dark thirty and got checked in.  We had what has come to be known as the “extended family surgical procedure good luck charm” — a Pittsburgh Steelers’ Terrible Towel. A close friend drove down to keep my husband company during the 3-hour operating room time and be on hand when I was done.  For reasons you’ll soon learn, I don’t yet have all the details of this apparently very cool robot-assisted event, but when I came to, I was wearing a neck collar and the pain in my arm was gone. Favorite Husband spent the night with me and, by the next afternoon, I was home with two dogs who could not have been happier to cover the big bed with major nap energy. Life was pretty good. Minimal pain. Good movies. Cuddly dogs, attentive husband, and lots of naps.

I was home with 2 dogs who could not have been happier to cover the big bed with major nap energy. Click To Tweet

And then, two or three days in, I started to get sick. Very sick. Nausea and vomiting. Intense abdominal pain. I’d had a similar episode a while back, but it was a single episode and resolved fairly quickly. This was not the same thing. Bigger. Stronger. Uglier. I had no idea what was going on nor did the Emergency Room people. They re-hydrated me, warmed me up, and sent me home where I did my best to go back to napping and watching movies. This time it didn’t work. I continued to get sicker. And apparently, that was good news.

On my next trip to the Emergency Room, the doc was able to see something in the bloodwork that allowed him to tell my fortune. Click To Tweet

On my next trip to the Emergency Room, the doc was able to see something in the bloodwork that allowed him to tell my fortune:  he told of an emergency gallbladder surgery, three more nights in the hospital and a full recovery. At least that’s what my husband and best friend told me. It was hard to hear with my head hanging over the edge.

But his predictions were completely accurate and I’m back home. The dogs are back on the bed and Favorite Husband and I have started streaming Oscar-nominated films. My digestive system is no longer trying to kill me and I sleep a lot. But despite feeling like someone who has had two major surgeries in less than two weeks, I feel pretty good. Today I got dressed and went to the office — made it by the crack of 11:00 and we won’t get too picky about what “dressed” means.

My concentration is coming back. I’m reading and planning and getting ready for two wonderful February book events. A friend has suggested I skip January 2019 and go with the Lunar New Year, currently being celebrated. That could work — my first go-round with a new year has not been especially user-friendly.

A friend has suggested I skip January 2019 and go with the Lunar New Year, currently being celebrated. That could work. Click To Tweet

I’m excited to co-host the first-ever indie author reception at our book festival, listen to some top-notch authors, and meet storytellers who want to join with others to make what we do better.

Off-loading worn-out and unnecessary spare parts may just have made room for one more bit of story and adventure.

 

Nov 282018
 

Entering the last month of the year often moves me to introspection. Stock-taking. And, despite having a gratitude practice for many years, the reviews that come with the changes of season are particularly wonderful. New family members. Old friends. Appreciation for projects finished and new ones coming down the pike. Watching the birds gorge themselves on the things we have planted. All of this fills me with an appreciation for the abundance in our lives.

Here are some others’ thoughts about abundance. Please enjoy.

 

Not what we have but what we enjoy, constitutes our abundance. ~ Epicurus

The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much it is whether we provide enough for those who have little. ~ Franklin D. Roosevelt

 

Not what we have but what we enjoy, constitutes our abundance. Click To Tweet

When people are genuinely happy at the successes of others, the pie gets larger. Click To Tweet

I have an abundance mentality: when people are genuinely happy at the successes of others, the pie gets larger. ~ Stephen Covey

Strong emotions such as passion and bliss are indications that you’re connected to Spirit, or ‘inspired,’ if you will. When you’re inspired, you activate dormant forces, and the abundance you seek in any form comes streaming into your life. ~ Wayne Dyer

Strong emotions such as passion and bliss are indications that you're connected to Spirit. Click To Tweet

 

 

What is called genius is the abundance of life and health. Click To Tweet

 

What is called genius is the abundance of life and health. ~ Henry David Thoreau

Abundance is not something we acquire. It is something we tune into. ~ Wayne Dyer

When you realize there is nothing lacking, the whole world belongs to you. ~ Lao Tzu

 

 

 

Sep 072018
 

And on a day we meet to walk the line
And set the wall between us once again.
We keep the wall between us as we go.

The Mending Wall, by Robert Frost

 

When considering boundaries I’m rarely surprised when the phrase “Good fences make good neighbors” shows up in my brain.

Just what are boundaries, anyway? Experts say they are a combination of rules, limits, and standards that help define a personal code. They help us choose who is in our lives and at what distance. That code helps us know how to respond if someone oversteps those boundaries. Feeling unsafe or uncomfortable can be a signal that our boundaries are being breached. 

Each individual gets to define the boundaries that work for them: some people love hugs from strangers while others find the same warm gesture from friends a bit needy and intrusive. A personal code is exactly that: unique, individual and highly personal. And since its parts are a combination of upbringing, culture, experience, values, attitudes, and beliefs, that makes a lot of sense.

Boundaries are Bi-Directional

Personal boundaries are bi-directional — affecting both what is given and what is taken. So what kind of boundaries do we set with — and for — ourselves?

Is there a painful, annoying, or humiliating scene you revisit? Call it to your consciousness.  Get a good clear picture, making sure you are IN it. (Not an observer but a participant.) When you have it clearly in mind picture yourself picking up a very big bucket. It looks a lot like a paint bucket but it’s full of powerful, healing white light. Imagine yourself picking up a paintbrush or a roller, the bigger the better. Dip it into your magic bucket, loading it up with the white light to paint a great, big white “X” over any part of the scene makes you uncomfortable. Keep going until it’s only you, positive parts of the story and lots of white light. (This is practice for a boundary that removes hurtful elements from your environment.) 

Here’s one that works best when you’re feeling pretty good but headed for a situation that has potential to be draining or stressful: you have “butterflies.” Take a moment to notice the sensation and where it is located in your body. Some people feel a vibration, others feel pressure or heat. It might be in your spine, your abdomen or your chest — any place is fine. Notice it and appreciate it. Call it “energy,” “power,” or “life force.” Now call in the white light only this time there is a giant invisible hand directing the paint brush. The cool thing about this giant hand is that it responds to your telepathic direction so picture it encircling you, your family, your home, your car, your office, your family…. all with a sparkling circle of protective, healing white light. Go about your day knowing you’ve put divine protection in place.

A Little Woo-Woo Goes a Long Way

If you find the white light thing a little too “woo-woo,” perhaps you’d prefer something more concrete, like a spaceship? Raise your force field shields to fend off all the meteors, space debris and harsh judgment the world is flinging at you today. With your shields up you’re protected and ready to fly.

Blowing bubbles can be fun. They have a fun and funky energy that combines elements of light and of air. Picture yourself using an over-sized bubble loop. The next bubble you blow will expand with every out-breath. Enjoy watching it grow bigger and bigger until it surrounds you. What’s interesting about this bubble is that once you are safely inside, it takes a different form, still transparent but very strong. Unbreakable. It travels with you, helping you float above sticky situations while still seeing them clearly.

When people are feeling stressed they sometimes don’t feel it’s worth the energy it might take to make themselves immovable. So, rather than put a stake in the ground, we step aside until whatever kind of psychic storm is coming overtakes the path. That’s no good. Maybe taking a stand is too much work, but maybe imitating a tree could help — especially if we choose one that is rooted yet flexible enough to bend in a wind storm. 

Write a Better Ending

Finally, here’s one just for the writers in the crowd. Sometimes writing about grief or violence can be a little hard to shake so, when you’ve finished a particularly difficult scene, open a new document and re-write the worst parts. Give yourself and your character a happy ending — even if you trash it or save it in a file called “Transitions.” Let your imagination run wild. So what if your character has to turn into a flying, fire-eating dragon to escape the violence? Who cares if the love interest was unconscious rather than dead? Let it be. Finishing on this sort of a note lets you store a much more positive image as you shut things down and prepare to tackle your work again tomorrow. It couldn’t hurt, right?

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