Present Tense

Keep your dirt to yourself…..

pileI’m in a weird netherworld right now between old life and new life.  We’ve sold our mountain home, so I had to vacate, but due to work obligations, I’m not able to make the move to the new home in northern Michigan.

So, I’m camped out in a residence hotel in a very busy, congested area of Denver, near the radio station where I work.  Although I’m enjoying the conveniences of the city, the traffic and the loneliness is intense.  I miss my husband and our two dogs who have been gone for about two weeks now. They’ve moved into the new house and the new life, while I am in suspended animation for a few more days.

The immense number of cars and people in a large city fascinates and horrifies me.  It’s dawning on me why people are constantly complaining about ‘stupid people’, ‘horrible drivers’, ‘rude people’.  It feels that way when you’re in the middle of controlled chaos day after day after day.  It wears you down; it chips away at your soul.  It can make you hardened toward your fellow humans because it seems like the whole world is in a hurry and you are merely a dot in this sea of ‘me first’.

Well, we are a dot.  That is true.  But, all of us dots form a large chain of connection and consciousness.  There is a rhythm, even in the aggressive chaos of traffic and people moving around the city; traffic and people moving around the world.

I was at Target this afternoon.  Part of my mission was to get out of my cramped room and the other part was a hunter/gatherer mission for food.  I wandered a bit, as did many of my fellow Target shoppers; some in pursuit of a particular item and some like me, searching for nothing in particular.

I plunked myself in the express lane, fiddling with my smart phone like everyone else in the store.  But, the checker caught my ear.  She was ringing up an older woman who was buying a large and cumbersome cork board, while trying to juggle her purse and write a check.  You know how irritated we tend to  get about the old-school check writers who take up so much time in the check-out lines.  The woman finished her awkward transaction and the checker said,  “Now, you take care, my darlin'”.

She said it with such sincerity and love that I thought she must know this woman and then it was my turn.  She scanned my scant items and efficiently bagged them up.  I swiped my card and she looked me in the eye and said very sincerely,  “Thank you so much darlin’.  Have a nice evening”.

I’ll be honest.  I wanted to linger.  I wanted to express my gratitude for her gentleness and kindness that is so often lost in these transactions.  She took the time to acknowledge each and every PERSON who came through her line.  Not a customer, not a client, but a person.  Even though many of us are rushed, distracted, impatient, frustrated, snotty, self-absorbed, talking on our stupid cell phones, she was efficient and competent, but also kind and connected.

Was it difficult for her?  It didn’t seem to be.  At all.  We choose what we put out to the world.  I’ll be willing to bet that she’s had some pretty shitty things happen in her life.  Maybe she went home to some of them after her shift.  We all have our burdens, but I guess what I’m saying and what I’m learning is that my burdens don’t have to become yours. My shitty day doesn’t have to become your problem.  We live in a time and a culture where it’s become okay to dump all of your dirt onto others and that’s not fair.  That makes for a dirty, nasty world.

I’m thinking that it would be so much nicer and cleaner and clearer if we all kept our dirt to ourselves, in neat little piles.  No spreading it around. That way, we all have a clear path here and there to get to where we’re going.  To walk AROUND that dirt and keep our feet clean.  Sound good?  Here’s your broom……

June 24, 2013 Posted by | Musings | , , , , , , , , | 30 Comments

You say goodbye….

I’m saying goodbyes and that sucks.  I’ve done it plenty of times over the years, but as I get older it gets a little harder.  I’m wise to the obligatory ‘we’ll stay in touch’ and ‘we’ll come visit’ lines that we all spout during goodbyes.  That rarely comes true.

We move on. We humans are amazingly adaptable and thankfully forgetful in these situations.  Most goodbyes involve short term pain and then we snuggle into our new home/job/ situation/life and leave the old life in the rear view mirror.  Merciful, really.

We all scream that we want ‘closure’, but do we really?  Closure really means that we want to tie things up in neat little bows and go forward without any pain and suffering.  Life on earth just ain’t that benevolent.  A change or transition involves bidding farewell to something.  Even if it’s something negative or unpleasant, we still feel that tug of regret when it’s time to cast off.

I’m greatly looking forward to my change in venue and yet it’s been a melancholy week or two.  I was out walking solo in the meadow behind our (soon to be sold) home a couple of days ago, gazing at the  enormous mountains that guard our valley.  I wanted to cry when I realized that my dogs would never romp here again.  That’s right, I was overcome with emotion on behalf of my dogs.  The finality of our lives here  in Colorado snuck up on me.

It’s those little moments of clarity where you realize that you’ll never be in this place, in this moment again, that sting.  Yet, every moment of every day is unique and we rarely mourn it’s passing.

We’re saying goodbye constantly; to every second of every day of our lives.  There is only now and then it’s gone.  Every minute, hour, day of our lives is quickly part of our past.  If we are living mindfully we should enjoy every minute, as that moment is rare and singular.

Such a simple concept and yet, so difficult.  Another lesson for me in letting go.  Life teaches us so much; now to learn to let it sink in.

June 18, 2013 Posted by | Musings | , , , , , , | 31 Comments

Going home…

The new phase of my life is in play.  It’s been simmering, bubbling and percolating for over a year.  What began as a spiritual quest eventually morphed into a shift in my priorities, which then turned into assessing what I really want from the remainder of my life and how and where I want to live it.

My husband and I made that decision several months ago, but as with everything, it took time to unfold.  We had the vision, but had to lay the day to day groundwork in order for that vision to come to fruition.

It has.  We are moving to northern Michigan to the 10 acre farm that I bought on a whim over a year ago.  We are simplifying, downsizing, hippie-fying.  I am going home.

The process has been joyful and wrenching.  Exhilarating and terrifying.  Ying/yang. 10,000 joys and 10,000 sorrows.  Changes involve these kinds of feelings.  Heck, all of life is pleasure and pain.

Michigan is where I grew up  It’s where my 92 year-old parents still reside and our new home is within a day’s drive for most of my husband’s family.  It was time to re-establish our family ties geographically and emotionally.  We missed that closeness.

I’ve written about how I skated out the door at 19 for college and career and never looked back.  I had things to do.  Well, I did them and now it’s time to circle back.  I think that most of us never really get the native dirt out from under our nails.

It’s a great lesson for me to look back over the past few years and see where the turning points may have been.  The journey that began as a way to cope with my alcoholism has led me here.  When you take the time for some introspection and exploration, it’s amazing what you may find if you’re listening and seeing and feeling.  Try and be open to what bubbles up.

This blog has been an integral part of the process.  I look back on past posts and see the turning points; the signposts of what was to come.  Writing has been invaluable and your feedback and encouragement is greatly appreciated.

So, that is all for now.  More to come.  Probably very soon.  And I’m stoked.

June 17, 2013 Posted by | Musings | , , , , , | 27 Comments

Ignore the speed bumps…

I’ve been going through a challenging time for the past couple of weeks, that admittedly has been completely self-imposed.  In all honesty, my life is working out in an almost magical way, but in order to get through this transition period, I’ve had to struggle with intense impatience and my overwhelming desire to make the rest of the world bend to my wishes and needs.  Just to clarify: that rarely happens, mostly because I expect perfection and the cosmos doesn’t dole that out to us.  Ever.

The ridiculous part is that everything IS working out just the way that I had planned.  It’s as if what I envisioned in my mind’s eye is following a script.  The annoying part of all this for me is that I have let some minor speed bumps take my attention away from the big picture that’s unfolding; a big picture that is seriously transformational in my life.

So, I’ve been trying to remind myself to be grateful.  Every day.  Stop creating pain and suffering where there IS none.  Stop focusing on the minor things that aren’t going the way I’d like them to,  while ignoring the huge positive forces that are in play.  Events and changes that I’ve dreamed of and planned for are unfolding and I can’t stop fretting over the minor details.

Until today.  I got a call from an old friend.  I had texted her earlier to check in on her daughter’s graduation plans.  She called to tell me that they had gone through a very rough week.  One of her daughter’s closest friend lost her father suddenly this past week.  He was strong and fit, but died suddenly while riding his bike.  So, she had spent a lot of time with her friend, helping her deal with this devastating loss.

Then, yesterday, she and a group of friends were celebrating the end of their high school careers with a party on the lake.  A bunch of happy seniors hanging out before they move on to the next phase of their lives and one of her friends drowned at the party.

That is tragedy.  That is pain.  That is suffering.  Imagine the emotions of kids who are in the midst of a time that is full of dreams, hopes, celebration and suddenly they lose a classmate and a classmate’s parent.  In one week.  That is some heavy duty stuff for one so young at a time that should be full of joy.

So, now, an immediate attitude adjustment for me.  A list of gratefuls is in order, here.  The speed bumps are ridiculously small and I feel foolish for even dwelling on them.

I’m sad for my friend’s smart, accomplished, beautiful daughter; I’m sad for everyone that is going through a truly trying time.  In Buddhism, we are told we will experience 10,000 joys and 10,000 sorrows in our lives.  No mention of 10,000 speed bumps.  I’m grateful for this clarity.

June 1, 2013 Posted by | Musings | , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments


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