Oct 232019
 

Still back home after so many travel adventures and schedule disruptions — and it still feels wonderful. (And, no, I don’t care how positive my attitude is on any given day, I still cannot bring myself to call a hurricane evacuation an ‘adventure’ — at least not this last one. Sue me.)

Being back home gives me the security to dig in to new projects and make big strides on some of the longer term variety. Oddly, being back in the office is stretching me in several areas: creativity, productivity, and congruence. I feel challenged to do good work while maintaining healthy boundaries, particularly in my commitment to build on some recent health and fitness gains.

Back at Work at Home

Working from a home office has not always been a body-friendly activity: I can sit too long, exercise too little, and quickly revert to old, unhealthy eating habits. But my newly rekindled appreciation for being here finds me setting up new routines. This sort of scheduling extends beyond laundry and groceries — I’ve been making exercise appointments with myself— and actually keeping them. (I may be sharing this with you to help me stay accountable. We’ll see.)

Working from a home office has not always been a body-friendly activity: I can sit too long, exercise too little, and quickly revert to old, unhealthy eating habits. Click To Tweet

The temperature here in my still new-to-me home turf is starting to break. And while cries of “It’s fall y’all” still seem a bit premature, the occasional rainstorm, crisp morning, or an extended breeze let us know that cooler temperatures and more comfortable outdoor time are on the way. The dogs are happy — and paying closer attention every time I lace up my walking shoes.

Concept. Attitude. Place.

Last week’s post and some of your comments challenged me to think more about the concept of ‘back home.’ Yes, sometimes it’s a concept. Sometimes an attitude. Only occasionally is it a physical place.

Sometimes ‘back home’ is a concept. Sometimes an attitude. Only sometimes is it a physical place. Click To Tweet

The ache for home lives in all of us, the safe place where we can go as we are and not be questioned. ~ Maya Angelou

You don’t teach morals and ethics and empathy and kindness in the schools. You teach that at home, and children learn by example. ~ Judy Sheindlin

Your body is your temple, it’s your home, and you must decorate it. ~ Gabourey Sidibe

Every day is a journey and the journey itself is home. ~ Matsuo Basho

I’m really quite simple. I plant flowers and watch them grow… I stay at home and watch the river flow. ~ George Harrison

Home is the place where, when you have to go there, they have to take you in. ~ Robert Frost

All I was doing was trying to get home from work. ~ Rosa Parks

Middle age is when you’re sitting home on a Saturday night and the telephone rings and you hope it’s not for you. ~ Ogden Nash

 

 

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 242019
 

What is one to do when you don’t know what to do? How do we choose how and where to put the next foot right when the way forward is unclear?

When I write, I usually know where to go. But this time, there’s a topic lurking just under the surface. So I canoodle around on the keyboard and hope it will decide to join me.

I canoodle around on the keyboard and hope it decides to join me. Click To Tweet

I don’t know what else to do with it: it won’t go away and leave me alone but it remains elusive, flat out refusing to come into focus. In a way, it reminds me of a pan of water on the stove, just before monarch butterfly on plantit starts to boil. There’s a bubble here, and another one over there. And, while their activity level looks a bit leisurely, those bubbles are part of a much bigger picture. They are part of building energy, an energy that will not only heat water but will change part of it from liquid to gas. Steam.

And a change in form is a form of magic, is it not? The stage magician enlists our willingness to be fooled as the ‘nothing’ behind an ear suddenly produces coins. We don’t know how it happens. Alchemy. Magic. A change in form. While it looks simple, it’s a really big, complex change. Just like boiling water.

When you stop and think about it, there’s a lot of alchemic activity swirling around us. The first one that comes to mind is that thing with breath: humans using oxygen which changes to carbon dioxide for trees that then return it to us in its original, usable form. Our waste feeds the trees while theirs becomes the source of life for so many air-breathing beings wandering the planet. It’s another matter-changing bit of magic.

There’s a lot of alchemic activity swirling around us. Click To Tweet

Nature provides us with other examples: snow melts, ponds freeze, and in pretty much any direction we look something’s probably hatching somewhere.

Of course the most familiar example of form-changing experiences is the transition from caterpillar to moth or butterfly. And while it’s a metaphor that’s been done to death? There’s a reason: it’s an example that give us lots of toeholds for learning.

Think about it… you’re this little wormy bug thing, wandering around, munching on plants. Some of your friends and neighbors get picked off by weather or birds or well-intended gardeners who don’t know any better. But you’re still there… moving from plant to plant, having your fill. Did you know some species of caterpillar eat as much as 27,000 times their body weight during this part of the life cycle? But, as often happens, I digress.

Somehow, those little critters enter the dark place, are turned into some sort of goo and are born again — this time in a beautiful form. And in this new form, the creature feeds on completely different parts of the plant than it did in it’s last life. Sometimes when I watch the butterflies visiting various garden plants I wonder if they remember the food preferences their caterpillar-selves enjoyed?

They have nothing to say (and little to do) about this. Caterpillars that survive long enough to face metamorphosis become moths. Or butterflies. Puddles freeze and dandelions go to seed. Water on a hot burner will boil. Perhaps they don’t know it’s coming. It’s just what happens.

They don’t need to have faith and I doubt they fear the unknown. Click To Tweet

So what do you do when you don’t know what to do? Hopefully, not much. I plan to try to learn to do less. To stand in place and take the next obviously correct action. Like caterpillars, dandelions, and hot water — the change is gonna come. No amount of  hand-wringing or pot-stirring is going to change that. And the quicker we accept that fact, the happier we’re all going to be.