Sunday, January 5, 2014

Today is the Only Day

The prompt for my photo group today is a word to live by.  This is for them.  I’ve also been reading about Christine Kane’s idea of going into the new year with focus on a single word that resonates with you and will keep you focused and grounded.  Thinking about that, there are a few that come to mind.  Here are those thoughts.

Kindness?  That covers a lot of it.  The world needs more.  Very few of us are truly kind to ourselves, even if we’re very kind to others.  And who hasn’t experienced a random act of kindness in your day that brings tears to your eyes and reminds you of the inherent goodness of peoplekind.  And the best part?  There is no gesture too small.  Kindness covers a lot.

What about Intention?  How much of the world goes around just because that’s the way it is and very few people feel they can do anything about it?  Sometimes we get lucky, sometimes we get broken.  We do things out of obligation, we do things out of reaction.  We do things because we’re too afraid to try something else.  We say and do things we don’t mean.  Intention means pointing yourself in the right direction.  Isn’t that huge?  What if we truly set our intentions, and then acted in their best interest?  Miracles, that’s what.

Speaking of Miracles.....that could certainly be my word.  How is it not a miracle that seeds grow, that music in made, that people fall in love?  Magic is all around us all the time, in such vast totality that we lose sight of it.  What if we never forgot?  What if we always remembered that magic is the very life that flows through us?

Action?  All of us dream, at least if we let ourselves, but so many dreams lie dormant and un-nurtured due to all sorts of unhealthy things.  I think all the time about what I need to be doing to move my career forward, or get to that next step, or for God’s sake beat the odds.  I also think all the time about those emails I need to write, that friend I need to call, or that Thank You card I need to send.  I spend a lot of energy on positive affirmations and imagining what the successes I want will feel like, but all that doesn’t do a lot of good unless I act on them.  Nothing is going to fall into my lap.  Things aren’t going to do themselves, and things undone weigh on me, bringing all sorts of yuckiness with them.  

I’m afraid of my wasted time.  I’m afraid of waking up without fear because only then can I truly regret all the days I let it rule me.  If I never wake up then I don’t know it’s a dream.  

Whatever word I choose, whatever word you choose--today is the day to live by it.  Today is the only day.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Day 5

Well, it’s Day 5.  I lost count of how many times people were surprised when my sweetie would tell them he was heading out on a seven week long adventure--without me.  They were not necessarily surprised that he would do it, but surprised that I would “let him.”  Not only would I let him--not that it’s at all my place to allow, or not allow, him to do things anyway--but I pushed for it.  Sure I miss him like hell already, but who’s to say that we can’t enjoy that?  Who’s to say that the missing isn’t beautiful?  I let him take this trip, because my most important job as a loving partner and friend is to notice what makes his heart light up, and encourage whatever that might be.  

And yes, I chose to stay home.  I chose the 100 degree heat, the 8 foot tall weeds, the fire ants and the empty house, because along with that I also chose chickens, a Nana cat, and a big blank canvas with very few distractions on which to focus a driven and tremendous desire to get “caught up,” and to create.  

Creation isn’t just about making art; it’s about learning to see art in the everyday things that you do.  When I wrestle the 8 Foot Jungle in the backyard, I’m creating; when I do dishes and fold laundry and put together Goodwill boxes, I’m creating; when I organize my studio, I’m creating--even if it’s just space; space is good.  And of course there’s photography, preparation for the record I’ll be making in December, and about 300 other creative ideas that were gleaned from a giant hand-me-down stack of Country Living and Martha Stewart magazines.  My boy is allowed to be a tiny bit terrified by that (but he’ll also be happy that I used “gleaned” in a sentence for the very first time :)

I just feel like I’m constantly daydreaming about having it all....all the TIME, that is.  All that precious time that nobody quite feels they have enough of.  And right now?  I have a bunch, and by jove I’m not wasting a drop of it.  (Ok, maybe a few drops.)  In fact, I’ve taken the daily To-Do List to a whole new level by creating a system in which every task is assigned a point value.  Even the daily things like watering the garden and cleaning the kitty litter get points, so that even if all I do in a day is take good care of the living parts of our household, well, that’s worth something.  (So far today has nothing on yesterday’s whopper: I clocked in--or out--at 1:15am with 51 :)

I know it’s easy when we’re in long term loving relationships to begin forgetting, or even fearing, who we are without the other person, but I think it’s important to remember, and to embrace it.  The better for us to grow; the better for us to be able to truly support one another, without being afraid of growing apart.  There’s always risk in growth, but I believe wholeheartedly that to really be alive we must take it.  

So here’s to friendship, love, life and adventure; may we know when it’s best to “allow” them.  I must go now to feed the Nana cat and give ice and treats to little chickens.  And yes, I get points for that.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

The Best Day of My Life

I had a memorable cashier at Whole Foods on Sunday, the day before my 31st birthday.  She had a huge smile and was very personable and something about the way she told me to have the best day of my life the following day, like the idea had just struck her and she thought it was the greatest thing, was unforgettable.  It WAS the greatest thing; it IS the greatest thing, that each day we wake up into is where all the action happens.  It’s where all creations are made, where all seeds are sown, where all dreams are dreamed, where all hearts are broken and where all hearts mend.  Every kiss, every laugh, every song, every hug, every cup of coffee and glass of wine, every great conversation, every small thing that matters, all happen Today.

No day is inherently more extraordinary than any other.  Some we can’t wait to get here, some we can’t wait to get gone, and some, well, just seem to go a little unnoticed.  But one thing remains true, the days are exactly what we make them, no more and no less.  We are all creating, all the time.  We are all artists in that way.  Life is a canvas with which to paint our dreams.

I had a really, really wonderful birthday, full of love and gratitude for all of the amazing people (and freakin' sweet new Goodwill dress :) that helped make it so.  I have yet to answer the question, but the first time someone asks me how old I am and the answer is 31...well, it’s gonna be a little weird.  You gotta understand that the baby of five older brothers never gets to be THIRTY-ONE....yet somehow, here I am.  
I’m planning to make this a really big year, full of many of those “someday” dreams that I’m just going to make happen.  Because I want to.  And because, for the first time in my life, I really feel able.  Growing can be scary because we don’t want to look at and admit to all the things we don’t know, and there is so much I don’t know.  But the great news is that I’m surrounded by extraordinary people who have learned the things I want to learn,  who are doing the things I want to do, and who are so generous in their willingness to help me.  

So here continues the journey....that I cherish oh so much.

And today?....

Today is the best day of my life.  For it is the one that I am living.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

A Strange Kind of Blessing

Last month my purse was stolen out of my car, along with the stereo for the second time.  The stereo? big deal, except the fact that my sweetie had bought it for me as a replacement for the last one.  The purse?....well, a whole identity is in a wallet, and not only was my wallet was in there, so was my camera, which is one half of my business.  That felt really bad.  

I had gotten the bag at a street market in Austria.  The camera was a Christmas gift (from the same sweet boy who had gotten me the stereo).  There’s such an overwhelming sense of disbelief.  Things that went with you wherever you went, paying for groceries, getting beers at the bar, documenting your life, that your hands touched every single day, can’t gone...can they?  

I’ve felt a similar way with people.  There’s an added sadness when we lose people that were there in our every day, as well as in our hearts.  I lost my father at age 9, and my best friend in my twenties, and it just seemed impossible.  Voices still on answering machines, footprints still on porches, plans still made for a very near future.  How.......?

It’s actually a really powerful thing, to basically lose your identity, but to remain standing very much in who you are.  Small rectangular pieces of plastic don’t tell much, besides a name and a number of some kind.  The theft coincided quite nicely with me officially registering Let That Songbird Go as my business with the county clerk’s office, and opening an official business bank account to go with it.  I decided to use the opportunity to step, with pride and joy and momentum, into my new identity.

I also decided to get excited about shopping for a new camera.  There were a few things about the one I had that I would change if I could, and I took my time researching the perfect new partner and sidekick that would be everything I needed.

Then something amazing happened.  Someone slipped that “they” were totally wanting to help get me a new camera.  Then someone else acknowledged that the first person had slipped.  I mentioned it the to my sweetie, who also confessed to being in on it, and so the list grew, continuing to surprise me in the coming days.  By the time I was actually presented with the camera and the list of folks who had helped get it I was in total awe of the sheer wonderful-ness of the loved ones in my life.

It’s easy to feel like we don’t deserve the kindness bestowed upon us sometimes.  As much as I try to show my love and gratitude to the amazing people in my life, they continue to teach me how to do better, and I love them all the more for it.  

My new camera is freakin’ awesome.  My new wallet is handmade with songbirds on it (or chickens....or both) and is filled with new small rectangular pieces of plastic that identify me, and my New Self. 

Sometimes we wish we could start over, and sometimes it takes a strange kind of blessing to get us there.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Life is Precious

This is Nana.  She showed up on a Saturday just before a storm.  We know the neighborhood cats and this wasn’t one of them.  She was relentlessly affectionate and squeaked when she meowed.  There was no collar.  We put out a box and a blanket for her under our covered doorway and went to bed.

In the coming days she rarely left that box.  We would come home after being gone for hours and she was there with her little head peaking up over the edge waiting for us.  We put out food for her while we kept watch for fliers in the neighborhood and continued to check Craigslist for any potential matches.

I started to dread taking her to the vet to check for a microchip.  I took her in; she had one.  I waited tearily on the floor with her while outside the door they discussed the situation (and how sweet a kitty she was) and called the number.  Such an interesting thing, to create such a bond with another little being and then worry that the bond might be permanently broken because they belong to someone else.  Aren’t many broken hearts just like that...

I took her home while they waited to hear back.  I got a call a few hours later saying they had gotten ahold of the people, and then he said a long trail of other words that I wasn’t really paying attention to because I inevitably thought they were leading up to me having to give her back to someone who loved her as I had grown to do.  The string of words instead had to do with many owners since them, an ex-boyfriend who used to live here, Pennsylvania....and ended instead with, “So, she’s your cat.”  He was very happy to give me this news, given my state earlier that morning!

My mom’s dog just showed up one day.  And I can no longer imagine her not having Leti.  They’re best friends, they’re family, and they’re freaking perfect together.  We weren’t in the market for a cat, as much as I’ve been missing my Annabelle back home in Washington.  We’re slow to acquire responsibility, especially when it comes to lives dependent on us.....four little golden dependents have been a good number so far, but this little creature came to us and she’s perfect.  I cried after two days when she was gone for a while and I thought she wasn’t coming back.  

Life is precious.  Living things are precious.  Kindness and the bonds it can make are precious.  The sweet and humble appreciation of the box we put out for Nana in the beginning has changed my life.  We showed her kindness, and when we’re gone that box still remains a symbol of it.  It’s special; it's just for her.  Such an interesting life, going from house to house, owner to owner.  She found us and she found home.  So did we.