This Path

Since I began this blog in July of last year the goal has always been to find a way to be happier, live better, enjoy life, and find peace. At times it has been a struggle, a pleasure, or just a down right challenge trying to achieve these lofty goals. I suspect that at any moment in time there is a combination of all of these and a full life probably needs a balance of everything; let’s face it if things are always perfect you might not appreciate how wonderful you really have it.

I have a good friend who once told me that if I didn’t have bad luck, I’d have no luck at all. I wish he had been kidding, I wish he had been wrong. But alas, as life would have it he was more on the mark than he probably knew.

In the last 4 years or so I have had more than my share of craptastic events and situations I could have done without. But I kept on going, kept persevering, kept looking forward, kept planning and laying the groundwork for something better. I had to believe that if I kept making the right choices and kept my feet pointed in a positive direction that one day I would make it to the place where life felt good. Not perfect mind you, I don’t think that exists, but just content, simple, full, and peaceful. I wasn’t a survivor, a fighter or a quitter, I was just determined to keep living without a definition or a label. I was determined not to let events define me or control me.

Starting the blog and talking about the process, as well as reading and searching and scouring the world for inspiration was meant to be a constant reminder to myself that it could be done, needed to be done, and that I would one day succeed. I also had the selfish internal voice hoping it would lead to something better. A better job, a better opportunity, the ability to get published etc. Of course if it didn’t, the work would not be wasted, but if it did lead to better things than all the better. Inspiration was all around me, people doing what they loved, creating their own future, writing their own script. If I just surrounded myself with these folks, these reminders, I hoped I wouldn’t forget what I was looking for, that I could keep my eye on the prize and keep moving forward.

Well, when it rains it pours I suppose (unless you are in a drought in Colorado). Because lately I have found myself enjoying the fruits of my labor. Finding new paths and opportunities that instill happiness and peace in my heart. Some people might look at this good fortune and say “Man, she is lucky” but those who know me would more likely look at me and say “wow, look what happens when you put in the work and plan for the future”. Maybe putting good positive vibes out in the world IS a good thing, a thing that reaps rewards later. It just might be that you have to trust the process and keep going even when the going is determined to lay you flat on your back staring up into the abyss.

I think what I have learned, as all the cool offers and chances come pouring in, is that the reward of doing something can sometimes be so far off you can’t see or fathom what it might be until you get there, sometimes even years later (I’d say I have been laying the foundation since 2011 when we moved from Virginia). I can’t say I saw this coming, or knew where it would lead, what I can say is I continued with it because I felt sure it had to lead to something good. For me, for my family, or maybe just someone else. I figured eventually all this had to lead to something better.

So life is pretty good. I’ve filled it with new and old amazing friends. I have a new job that still lets me work from home but is far more creative and fun, and my family is more or less happy and healthy. I guess you could say that I have it all, even if it may be a fleeting moment; having it now means I know I can have it again if I just keep looking forward, living in the moment, believing in myself, practicing happiness and doing the right thing even when the reward is unforeseeable. And that is just the thing, the reward really is unforeseeable most of the time. It is not like being a kid in a candy store who sees the candy, wants the candy, pays for the candy and then gets to eat the candy. It isn’t like that at all.

When I set out on a long hike, especially a path I have never been before, I do not start the journey with the end in mind. I don’t envision myself coming full circle and ending up back at the car, I don’t even envision different points on the trail where I might stop to rest or take in a sight. I don’t think about what I will do when the hike is over. No, I start the hike just thinking about the journey, each step I will take, the ground beneath my feet, the wind in my hair, the sun on my neck. I start the journey thinking only of the start and the now. I start the journey watching my dog’s faces smiling as they take in the scents only the woods provide. I’m just glad to be there starting the trail. thankful for one more hike, not remembering when I was last on a trail, not planning when I will be on a trail again. I think it is a good metaphor for life.

You may not know where something will lead, what it will look like further down the road, or when you will need to stop and take breaks; but what you can depend on, what you can think about is the first step and the second and the beauty in the unknown and the journey you are about to take, the creatures you will share that journey with, and the unexpected moments that occur when you walk the path. The beautiful moments, the heat of the sun, the kiss of the breeze and before you know it you are back at the car feeling good, exhausted, accomplished, refreshed, and fulfilled. Because much like life, hiking rarely ends some place new. You almost always end up right back where you started only you are somehow better when you get there. Stronger. More peaceful. Muscles spent. Lungs full. Mind cleared. Smiling. And that is life. A life well spent.

What I am listening to: Walk the Moon Shiver Shiver

What I am reading: Paper Towns by John Green; recently named one of Time magazine’s 100 most influential people; this man is the epitome of doing your own thing. Talk about making your own path, not knowing where something will lead. I can only imagine he had no idea he would be where he is today when he started things so long ago. Impressed and amazed by his intellect, his humor, his caring.

Inspiration from the ether: leak proof water blob.

Now moment: Littlest man telling me “have patience mommy” echoing words I say to them daily. Reminding me you are never too old or too busy  to be reminded about patience.

Gratitude:

cozy pants

friends mixed Cds. seriously its like high school all over again

the end of the wind

new doctors

new jobs

new friends

long car rides

Harry Potter on disk

little bit of change in my pocket (literally and figuratively)

Calls out of the blue

slow dinners full of gluten

a good glass of red with new stories to hear

unexpected Cadbury eggs, after the season has ended

little boys first baseball uniforms

eating tofu

money in the bank

planning trips

giant monitors

organization

“rock me some more mommy”

“I will keep you forever”

amazon.com

free shipping

T3

panda bears in the ocean

old dogs

great dialogue

 

 

 

Jealousy


Its funny how quickly envy can turn into anger. And anger can turn into defeat or feelings of inadequacy. I am not a materialistic person. I do not enjoy shopping or get a high off buying something new. I don’t feel the need to decorate my house or coordinate my curtains with just the right throw pillow. I’m not even sure why people own throw pillows (no one ever throws them) or have that beautiful room in their homes no one is allowed to sit in. But for some reason, when I see these things on Facebook, I get all knotted up inside and I get angry and begin to wonder what I did so wrong in life that I don’t have these things that I don’t even want.

Why? Honestly, I’m not just saying this, I don’t want those things. I want a happy, healthy family. I want boys who play in the mud and laugh all the time. I want just enough to not do without but not so much I forget to appreciate the small things. I want loving relationships and understanding friends. I want love and beautiful memories. So why do I care when someone else acquires and boasts about things I couldn’t care less about? Why does it needle me when I see granite counter tops or crown molding peeking in the corner of a boastful picture of a new mixer or a loveseat that “makes a room”?

I grew up in a house with shag carpet, and it wasn’t the 60s when shag was in. We had olive green appliances with a stove that didn’t work so well. Everything in our house was outdated by at least 20 years and there was never a plan or money to change that. We had a couch that was threadbare, hand-me-down dressers, and the latest and greatest of nothing. I didn’t care and never felt embarrassed until I was 15 and a terrible boy made fun of my house and asked why everything in it was so old. Ouch.

I made a vow that in my home, in my future, I’d have the nicest stuff. I’d play the game just right, go to school, get a degree, get the good job with the great benefits, grow with a company, find the right man, invest in my future, and have this amazing awesome house with a beautiful modern kitchen, gleaming appliances, and the perfect décor all situated on a beautiful piece of property in at least 3000 square feet. When I was a grown up, it would all be mine.

So I did play the game and jump through the hoops designed to reach that destination. However, somewhere along the way the game changed, or maybe the prizes did, because it became far more important to just be happy, satisfied with life and living. Welcoming living creatures into my space and finding bliss in my job. I didn’t care so much about the dream as I did about life and I never did attain the things I thought were important. I’ve owned 4 homes and not one has had a wood beam ceiling or an A frame living room.

I live in a small house, with 80s blue carpet and those awful hollow doors that never last and buffer no noise, ever. I have plastic showers and kitchen outlets that never work. I have windows that leak like a sieve (on the plus side we will never die from carbon monoxide poisoning), shingles that hang a little off, and a couch that is quickly showing its age.

Sometimes I feel bad, like I missed the boat or haven’t amounted to much. I look at the photos others post and I wonder why I don’t have the big beautiful house made of stone and large weather tight windows. I feel bad that one day someone might point out to my kids that their home is less than because it is small and missing wainscoting and marble. That their second hand clothes aren’t cool and their used toys are just little bit wonky. I imagine that one day they will feel like I did, set on finding and having the “better” life. I just hope they realize that a better life has little to do with things, and everything to do with living.

So yes, I sometimes feel a pang of jealousy for the things I don’t even really want. But I think it is less because I want them and more because I promised myself I would have them. A self who was too young to know what true happiness was, too silly to understand what it really meant to “have arrived”.

All to often we get down because we let the lives of others influence our feelings. We get caught in the cycle of being “not as good as” or “wish I had that”. We forget about what we do have and what really is important. I think becoming an adult is about realizing what it really means to have it all.

I have 1300 sq feet filled with enough laughter to fill a space three times that size. I have a couch that is perfect for practicing headstands and summersaults or spilling food and having accidents. I have love that brightens every room in a way no new and modern fixture ever could. I have carpet that doesn’t inhibit play but invites it, all the muddy paws, globs of play doh, tire tracks, and drops of paint are welcome here. I have land that sprawls, where adventure waits uninhibited by danger or strangers. I have dogs that get to dig, chase, and play without a landscape care in the world, their furry faces covered in dirt and smiles. I have food to feed us, water to quench us, and a cozy pellet stove to keep us warm and dry.

I like to think my posts make others just a wee bit jealous. After all I am human and what are humans without competition? I like to think people see our goofy smiles and our trampoline living room and they think secretly to themselves “I wish I was that brave or that lucky”. Brave and lucky enough to live a life full of the important things and not just things; full of life, laughter, love, silliness, mistakes, failures, strength, and togetherness. I like to think they look at my home and see the time I wasn’t watching and two little boys went crazy with the chalk, or the time I had to watch tv from the floor because there were too many dogs on the couch. I hope they see a daddy playing dodge ball inside on a snowy day not worrying about knocking over lamps and décor because we don’t have any of either. I hope they see little boys screaming with excited terror running from balls and hiding in cabinets kept empty on purpose for just such a reprieve.

When I post something I hope it makes everyone out of their mind insanely jealous. Not because they don’t have what I have, or their countertops aren’t as stained as mine, but because everyone should have such a family, everyone should want such joy. Not because they own the right things or have the latest gadget, but because they have loved well and found that the only value in life is sharing yours with loving living creatures, not the perfect wall color that looks good with that chair.

I think the world would be better, and people would be happier if our posts were less about what we have gotten and more about who we love. I wish I saw more about moments of bliss and contentment and less about new cars and shoes. I wish I knew more about my friend’s partners, their children, their guinea pigs than I did about their boats, vacations, and jobs. I wish everyone understood what was worth boasting about. What was worth being jealous over. What was worth giving time and effort to.

So while you may not understand from pictures why none of my glasses match, why my towels have holes in them, or why all my pictures hang just a little bit crooked from too many stray dodge balls, there is no way you can spend real time in my home without understanding, no wishing, that your home was just like mine.

This week I am feeling very grateful for the living things in my life that add spice, humor, love, and beauty to my every moment. Words I cannot buy, gestures that can’t be coordinated, and moments that are never staged. This is my life, and it is a good one. Not despite the things I never achieved or acquired, but because of the things I never achieved or acquired. I am lucky to have been such a failure. I am glad I stumbled and fell just enough times to crash into the perfect storm of colossal mistakes that led to and created this family in this moment.

Are you happy? Is your life filled with the beauty of things and items only money can buy? Or is it filled with people and life that bring you joy and create happiness? I challenge you to play in that room no one ever goes in, spill milk on that rug that cost a fortune, and leave dog hair on your pants when you leave the house. I challenge you to walk away from the things you think matter and embrace the things that really do. If it grows, if it breathes, if it lifts its face up to the sky and smiles, then it is the right thing.

What I am reading: Information on wind turbines, solar panels, and on demand hot water heaters. Thinking about cost, the environment, and of zombie apocalypse or nuclear fallout situations. Maybe I need to read about fall out shelters, or at least tornado shelters.

What I am listening to: Babylon by David Gray

What I am watching: I just binge watched Jericho, it aired from 2006-07. I hate that it ended on a cliffhanger and while it wasn’t the world’s best acting it did remind me that it is such a shame our current tv line up is driven by the watching habits of a populace that thinks Honey Boo boo is good television. Sadly, that means we lose good shows like this one that make you think and have diverse subplots. I guess it just proves television is not the thinking man’s medium.

Now moment: Being asked for one more hug eight times as I try to leave a room from a little boy trying to avoid bed time in the cutest, most effective way possible.

Gratitude: Things I am grateful for

consignment sales

tax refunds

sand box toys

dog kisses

healing eyes

perfect haircuts on the run

hugs from my husband

friends becoming patent agents (selfishly can’t wait to file needless patent)

possible new jobs that are truly exciting

opportunities for happiness

basil pesto

dishwashers

options

spiderman shoes that light up

monster truck toys for $4

Friends who “get it”

donut pans (review to follow)

 

 

Mirror Mirror, Or Candace

Sometimes it takes a good friend coming all the way from Florida to fix what’s broken. Or more exact sometimes it takes someone just spending time and holding up a mirror for you to see the beauty right before your eyes.

I think I’ve always been really honest here, about my feelings and my life so that I can make a better life or maybe let others know they aren’t alone. I have always said I know my life is good. I have many things I have always wanted and my present looks much like I used to envision my future to be. I can’t complain and I think for the most part I don’t. But I am honest that something seems broken and life is harder day to day than it should be. And recently I have felt like I am detached and just plodding along doing the bare minimum to keep a family going.

But then Candace showed up. She was only here for two nights and three days; and according to my husband, he hasn’t heard me talk that much in the 7 years he has known me, I think he called me a school girl. But when Candace and I are together its like catching up on lost time with a sister. It is like there aren’t enough hours in the day to say what you haven’t said or to hear what you have been wanting to know. I don’t know why we don’t use the phone more, but nothing can replace the face to face.

I can’t really explain my bond to Candace and to relay our history would be to ignore her privacy so I won’t, but I will say the few days she spent here was like the nicest slap in the face. Because I haven’t really been appreciating what I have, I haven’t really been soaking up all the details. So watching Candace chase my boys and tickle them silly, or monitoring bath time and laughing like a goon at the mundane ordinary moments of my life it showed me that the things I take for granted, might just be the things I should appreciate the most.

While she was here I played a game with my son at least twice, I can’t remember doing that before. I drank a glass of wine while watching her make dinner, I haven’t done that since before babies. I remembered what it meant to just stop and love on a dog, just because.

Sure she asked me about my problems and we analyzed the details the way problem solvers do. I picked apart her worries and she picked apart mine. We didn’t really come to any great solutions or epiphanies, and I don’t think we needed to. It was less having her support and thoughtful ear, and more just having her. She was supportive, fun, silly, respectful, and adoring of my lot (four and two legged alike). All of it was great, and it got me thinking, all of it IS great.

Candace aside; of course I wish I could convince her to leave sunny Florida for the Colorado plains (ha! As if)but it isn’t Candace that makes life great, life just is great. It just took Candace hauling her cookies all this way to show me. To hold the mirror of my life up to my face and say “See? See all that wonderment?”

I’ve been sort of waiting and observing, sitting on the side for my moment to step back in and join this life. I can’t explain why I haven’t or why I wasn’t motivated enough to just do it. I can blame three illnesses in a row, or even a prolonged mystery illness as yet discovered, but at the end of the day none of it should have prevented me from tickling my boys till they couldn’t laugh any harder, or loving on my dogs more often, or occasionally enjoying a nice glass of wine.

I’m ready to step back in. It maybe baby steps at first, but I am ready to get this thing right. I have almost half a year left of this experiment online, and I think it is high time I use it wisely.

What I am listening to: What a difference a day makes by Tim Meyers

Now moment: My son offering his panda bear to Candace so she would have something of him to take home with her. There are no words for the shy way he brought it to her and offered it up like a gift to the gods. So selfless and thoughtful. Amazing! I thought he would be sad and regret it later, I almost didn’t let Candace take it home, but now he gets excited when she send him new pictures of what his panda is doing in sunny Florida without him. His face lights up everytime.

What I am reading: Nothing. Which is rare and random for me but somehow my mind has not been in the space for higher thinking which reading always leads to.

365 Gratitude:

The things I am grateful for

Lasik- In a word AMAZING

The Kindle

Almost potty trained two year old

Tax returns

A nice bottle of red

A friend who appreciates roasted garlic

Ridiculous tumble weeds covering the road and making me feel like a cowboy moving a herd of weeds home

Sleeping in

The phrase “Throwing people is not berry nice” shouted at full volume in a cartoon snowman’s defense (see Frozen); little boys are so sweet

Requests for “big hugs”

Long texts conversations with people who live too close not to see more often (yes, I am talking about you Dink)

A good game of Scrabble

65 degree days followed by snow

A friend who is doing by far a better job of the 365 gratitude than I am, but has kept me at least slightly honest (I love you Brit)

Orphan Black, so stinking good, Thank you Kerri

Having someone “get” me

Good blood work for little men

Gluten free varieties