Category Archives: a day in the life

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My friend Wendy

I met Wendy 15 years (or so) ago. We met through a networking group. The first time I met her in person, I liked her immediately. She was tiny and made me feel like a giant of a person. Wendy had a gentle, kind and sweet spirit. Her smile was bright. Her big eyes were beautiful but haunted. When we met, she was hesitant, apologetic and fragile. In her life, she had been deeply hurt and could still be easily hurt. In our early friendship,…

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How meditation helped me today

When I woke up this morning, I felt like my mind had already been up for hours. I had the sensation of waking up into the already-in-progress thoughts moving to and fro, worries ebbing and flowing, problems to be solved trying to work themselves out and heartfelt and energetic thoughts of love and support extending out for my loved ones. It felt like, even though my body had been asleep, *I* hadn’t been. By the time I got Amira onto her bike and pedaling off…

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Work in Progress

A few days ago, I had the thought: “Aren’t I lucky to have this problem?” I know! It sounds happy-slappy and delusional. Yet, I actually felt a zing of gratitude, possibility and not quite joy but something related to it. I have themes that are ongoing challenges in my life. Fear. Self-love. Freedom of self-expression. They come up, in so many different ways, over and over again. I’ve gotten so exhausted by myself and my own issues. But when I had that thought, “I am…

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Setting Sail

About halfway through this painting, I was lamenting in my mind: “Art is hard!” The painting was, at that point, vertically oriented. The lines of color in it were strict and tight. I had a clear vision of what I wanted to express with it. The basic structure was complete and the paint was dry. Looking at it hard and long, I had been letting it sit. I just didn’t know what to do next. The colors were conversing, but the painting was uptight and…

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Making friends with struggle

struggle intransitive verb strug·gle : to try very hard to do, achieve, or deal with something that is difficult or that causes problems : to move with difficulty or with great effort : to try to move yourself, an object, etc., by making a lot of effort – Mirriam-Webster I struggled with this painting. I worked on it for weeks. I started it to be a possible match for a friend who commissioned me for some artwork for her new home. I was so excited…

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Crafty goodness

This weekend we went to a crafting-finish-your-projects get together. It was satisfyingly fun, filled with laughter and low-key, easy and fun creativity. I brought Sculpey. I didn’t have a particular project to finish. Instead, I thought I would simply play with clay. It’s satisfying like playing with Play-doh, only you get to bake and keep your creation.  Working with clay has a very altering quality to it. It’s relaxing, peaceful and fun (most especially if you let go of any ideals of creating “art”). Amira…

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Trying more than twice… a lot more

I never learned how to draw. I paint abstracts because I love color, pattern and texture. But, I also paint abstracts because I can’t draw. I’ve never taken an art class. Well, almost never. I started a Drawing 101 course in college. I dropped out pretty quickly because everyone in it was an art major and had been drawing the better part of forever. I was better suited for ‘How to draw a recognizable stick figure’… Today, Amira was practicing her piano. It hadn’t yet…

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Looking for fall and finding more

Yesterday morning, I received a text that said: “Fall Color Picnic?” It was from Natalie. I hope it makes perfect sense to you that it took me a negative nanosecond to reply: “Yes!” We went last year. <– Side note: for more fall beauty from last year – click on those two links. And… see this same day from Natalie’s side of the experience here. It’s well worth it – she has gorgeous photos! Last year, we said we would visit again. We both meant…

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Bracing for the good!

I’m trying something new and posting from my phone.  We’ll see how this works… and whether it is more of a hassle than it’s worth. There’s so much happening in my world right now.  I am strapped into the rollercoaster. It has left the loading station and is on the move.  The cars are climbing the incline.  It’s slow and the clanking of the wheels, as I rise in altitude, has been tedious at times.  But now,  I’m grabbing onto that padded safety bar on…

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Riding my bike to school

On Tuesdays and Thursdays, I ride my bike to Amira’s school. She enjoys having me ride to meet her so that we can ride our bikes home together. The ride is less than 2 miles round trip. It’s a pretty speedy trip, even considering the fact that our neighborhood is filled with hilly terrain. At the bottom of one of those hills is our home. There is no way out but up. So, you have to bike up the hill for a piece before you get to a flat portion.

Today, I was feeling proud of myself for biking up the first hill without having to put my foot down to push myself or get off the bike altogether and walk it up and over the crest. My legs were spent and I was moving slowly trying to let my legs, if possible, rebound and to not pant too obviously as a result of my effort.

I winced internally knowing that the level portion of road is quite short before there’s another small rise. And, it really is small. If I could get some momentum, it would be a piece of cake to surmount. But the way the road, sidewalk and trail come together, there’s no way to build up any speed to help you take on the rise. Complicating things is the fact my legs are, after that last hill, functioning less like machines of force and more like overcooked noodles.

I can see in the cul-de-sac ahead that it is teaming with activity. It is filled with (on my left) young moms and their playing toddlers and (on my right) construction workers building a new front deck. I put on a brave smile and pedal. I navigate the road, that turns into a driveway onto a sidewalk and then onto the little path trail. You have to slowly weave and turn this way and then that. I make it a little over half way up and my legs let me know… “you’re done!” Thing is, I’m close enough to the top that getting off and walking my bike to the top seems ridiculous. I try one more push on the pedals and am crystal clear that it’s not going to take me anywhere.

So, I lean forward and drop down off my seat. There I am. I am waddling up, with my bike between my legs, the last 5-6 feet of hill that I couldn’t make it up. I feel and look ridiculous. I couldn’t bear to look to see if my waddling was being observed by the young, pretty moms or the construction workers. My brain just said, “keep going, keep moving forward.”

The rest of the ride is downhill with the ocean breezes cooling my hot brow (more from embarrassment than sweaty effort). I love how fast I move away from that spot.  It feels good – like racing away from the scene of a crime. Except the feeling I have isn’t that I did something criminal or wrong… but that I am wrong, an embarrassment.

Amira and I head back towards home and I am registering in the back of my mind that I’m going to have to ride back through the young, pretty moms and the construction workers. This time, I’m going downhill… so I just muscle up my reserves and prepare to bike through. I did. I didn’t look at anyone and just rode straight through and on towards home.

Over the past few days, a good friend of mine and I have been talking about shame. We’ve been talking about what it does to us and how it stunts our capacity for doing what we want to do in our lives. We have been referring to the awesome Dr. Brené Brown in our conversations. Dr. Brown says that guilt says “I’m sorry, I did something wrong”… whereas shame says, “I’m sorry, I *am* wrong.” It’s a tricky but substantial difference between the two. She also points out that to shut down shame we must talk to ourselves like we would someone we love, reach out to someone we trust and share our story.

As I was thinking about our conversation tonight, this afternoon’s bike ride came to my mind. I didn’t distinguish it clearly at the time. I do see that I was shaming myself. It was over a little thing, but little things make their way into big things. It’s best to nip these kinds of internal conversations in the bud.

It turns out I was biking to school in a literal and metaphorical sense today. I became more aware of where shame finds its way into my life. And like my friend said to me today and I was moved to tears when she did: “Now that I know the shame for what it is… I’m finding it doesn’t work anymore. I can see it clearly for what it is and it has lost its power over me.” (This is a summary, she said it much better but I accidentally (Argh! No!) deleted the email with her exact words.)

If you have twenty minutes that you can spare, watching Brené Brown’s TedTalk on shame is worth your time.

PS – If there was any emotion to feel at that moment, when I couldn’t make it up the hill… the worst emotion that it could have been (and still been healthy) was guilt. I could have assessed the situation and said: “Wow, I’m sorry I haven’t kept more fit and active because now I can’t make it up this hill. Bummer.” From that, there’s an opportunity for growth and change. But if I am wrong (which is what shame says) — there’s nothing to be done. It keeps me stuck in the same place. As Brene Brown says in the TedTalk… it keeps me living small. And I’m not interested in that anymore.  :)

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Gifts of coincidence

A family ritual that we have is, as a portion of Amira’s tuck-in routine, to say a prayer and send love and energy to someone that comes to our mind. On Saturday evening, it was my turn to pray. As I prayed, I came to the portion where I quiet my thoughts and heart and allow to come to mind who it is that I am going to pray for. That evening, it took a bit but then her face smiled in my mind and…

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I’m Minnie MacGyver!

Over the past several months, my keyboard on my trusty laptop has been losing keys one at a time. First, the ‘DEL’ key stopped working. I navigated my way around that for months by using the delete key on my ten key pad. I worked with that because it wasn’t too difficult to do so. About a month ago though, ‘Z’ stopped working. The ‘Z’ key is a bigger hassle because while ‘z’ isn’t commonly used in our language, it is used in the function…

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On their way

Mom and Dad just hit the road. They are on their way. They will be here for dinner! It will be another whirl wind visit, but I’m okay with that. It is far, far better than no visit at all.  Connecting up is easier now that they are in Arizona instead of Montana. That said, they are still too far away for my taste. But, until transporters are a reality and geographic miles are rendered meaningless, I will cheerfully and gratefully take each opportunity I…

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Thought they’d never come

About a month and a half ago, Natalie, the incredible Chickenblogger, gifted me with a thistle seed sack feeder.  She discovered the feeders and had been delighting in the gold finches that it attracted.  We filled it up with seeds and I took it home excited to entice finches to my own back patio space. I hung it and could hardly contain my anticipation. And then… NOTHING. And I mean, nothing. Days, followed by weeks, the bag hung there. Swaying as the wind moved, it…

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My Facebook Unplug

I deactivated my Facebook account. I’ll be honest. It felt strange. So strange, in fact, that my heart was beating a little faster as I did it. I didn’t expect that. Then, the deed was done. Now what’s ahead of me is to see what, if anything, will change in my life. I unplugged from Facebook because I wanted to facilitate diving deeper into my life… into my spirituality, creativity and, yes, productivity. I didn’t want to leave for all the typical reasons. I *LOVE*…

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