It’s Sunday evening.
And it’s cold, gray, and snowing.
The entire landscape appears to be either dead or frozen.
I realize it’s best to live in the moment, fully embracing the “now,” but honestly? I’m not at all in the mood for that here’s-the-best-way-to-stay emotionally-healthy nonsense.
Right now my “now” is all about looking ahead to the vibrant warmth of my garden in bloom.
Today I am thankful for my friend, mentor, and critique partner Claudia Mills who is spontaneous and responded in the affirmative to my last-minute invitation to get together. We spent an hour and a half this afternoon strolling around Viele Lake in Boulder. The sun shone brightly the entire time we walked and talked. Tanky-the-dog mostly listened, although he interjected a few yips at other mostly-larger dogs on the path.
It’s the last day of January (don’t let the door hit you on the way out!) and I’m grateful for the revitalization that comes from friendship and sunshine.
This afternoon I sat in the chair I’d situated just-so in a patch of sunshine and remained there until the sun dropped below the foothills. January is always a struggle for me and in anticipation of posting something here, I went to brainyquotes.com in search of a quote about the excruciating difficulty that is January. Instead, I found this:
I like starting projects in January.
That’s the best time to start something.
It’s so inward.
~ Carolyn Chute
That quotation feels right for today because as I struggled emotionally earlier this afternoon, I kept returning to the two opening sentences I’d jotted in my ideas notebook. There’s a story in those two sentences, I’m sure of it, and my mind keeps going back to them in an attempt to figure out what that story might be. Those two sentences are like a lifeboat to me now and I’m grabbing on tight.
Who knows? This cold and dark January might kickstart something truly wonderful.
After picking up our younger brother from the Tampa airport, we missed a turn on the drive home and ended up discovering a hidden gem: Cypress Point Park. Here are my brother and sister wading in the very cold Tampa Bay water, searching for crabs, minnows, and other ocean life.
That was probably the most refreshing “wrong turn” I’ve ever experienced and I highly recommend visiting the park if you’re in the area.
Late this afternoon I crawled back in bed. Despite the fact that I’d taken a brisk 2-mile walk around the neighborhood, I was sad and depressed. I slept for a bit, but when I woke I still felt blue-blue-blue. I decided I’d stay in bed until tomorrow morning. Screw this almost-last-day-of-December. I’d had enough.
And then I remembered Wildebeest’s car. I’d borrowed it last night and discovered the floors behind the front seats were filled with trash. Receipts, wrappers, water bottles, etc. As I huddled under my covers I thought about that finite amount of stuff in his car. I could do something about that! I would see instant results! I got out of bed, put on clothes, and went outside with a garbage can plus a bag for recyclables.
As I unearthed layers of stuff from the floor I came upon what appeared to be a whole lot of bird seed. That’s odd, I thought as I continued excavating. Wildebeest doesn’t share my bird love. Why would he be feeding birds? Then I reached under the seat and pulled out a flattened box. Rice A Roni. In fact, I eventually found two destroyed boxes of Rice A Roni in his car. But the real treat (not to be confused with the ♪ Rice A Roni, the San Francisco treat ♫ ) was a clump of fossilized dog poop that’d clearly come off a friend’s shoes as said friend rode in the back seat. (You’re probably thinking I’m rude for publicly calling out my son’s slovenly habits, but he came by them honestly. When I was his age I was a smoker who wasn’t good about emptying the ash tray in my car and sometimes the filled-to-capacity ashtray would start smoldering when I put out another butt in the gigantic pile of butts. I know, I know.)
Wildebeest’s car was a dumpster on wheels. Oddly enough, I was quite content as I cleaned and vacuumed the interior and then wiped down the dashboard. Instant results, baby. Tangible progress. A job well done.
I’m pleased to report my blues are gone for the time being and that I’m not getting back in bed for a good long while. Wildebeest’s mess + my unorthodoxy = WIN.
Today I’m grateful it’s the second shortest day of the year and that soon we’ll be gaining daylight. I’m also grateful for this photographic reminder that although the landscape is currently dry-and-drab as far as the eye can see, brown doesn’t always mean dead. And ugly. And depressing.
Brown can also bring joy. Today I post this intricately beautiful brown iris as a reminder that blooms of many colors are in my not-so-distant future.
For the past twelve days I read a whole bunch (The Hazel Wood; The Secret Life of Anna Blanc; Storyworthy; The Truth About Twinkie Pie; Boys and Girls Together; The Infinite Pieces of Us;), did some de-cluttering, scrapbooked photos, watched college basketball and Netflix, exercised, and did ZERO writing.
The no-writing started out easy because I was pretty worn out from my NaNoWriMo draft and in serious need of a break from that kind of thinking. Then I began to notice an increase in grumpy feelings and overall anxiety, and realized it was probably writing withdrawal. But I still wasn’t ready to get back to it. I had a gut feeling I’d view any new writing as crap and any older project as crap, and sure enough, I read 20 pages of a YA I’d set aside in June and thought “This is irredeemable garbage.” So I went back to reading other people’s words and cleaning out drawers.
Last night I realized I was ready to write again. Somehow, I knew it was safe to go back to the pages and I’m pleased to report I was absolutely correct. I just finished reading the entirety of the aforementioned YA. I took copious notes and am excited about the project that is NOT irredeemable garbage. It’s a manuscript in need of revision and I just happen to love me some revision.
Back in the saddle again, baby.
December is a tough month for me because of the short days and colder temperatures. I try hard to get outside every day, but when it’s below freezing I stay inside. Today was sunny and warmer than the rest of this week so I took Emma for a run. We were both exceedingly happy to be outside and moving. The shady parts of the streets were a bit chilly, but whenever the sun hit me it felt warm and wonderful. I’m definitely more upbeat as a result of our outing.
Unfortunately, the sun’s already setting behind the foothills and we’ll soon be in shadows. But my dose of sunshine, exercise, and Emma’s happy face will get me through another short December day.
Yesterday was so damned cold I didn’t go outside. By evening, I was anxious and grumpy. Today it’s still very cold, but I just went for a fast 22-minute walk with Zippy and Emma in the sunshine. I feel exhilarated! And as soon as I post this, I’m going to turn up the music and get going on the Massive Photo Scrapbooking Project.
Because as Michael Franti says: Music is sunshine. Like sunshine, music is a powerful force that can instantly and almost chemically change your entire mood. Music gives us new energy and a stronger sense of purpose.
I’m gonna double down on the mood enhancement. Sunshine + Music. I refuse to let December’s cold and short days grind the life out of me.
This photo was taken last February, but I’m posting it today as a reminder. Because dogs get it. They totally grasp the importance of taking the time to just be. Sure, there are squirrels to chase along the fence, scents to decipher, and holes to dig, but there’s also sunshine, light breezes, and listening to birds.
I’m going to follow Roscoe and Emma’s lead, and grab a little time today to just be.
Right now I’m hiding away, parked in front of my computer as I get organized for NaNo. For the umpteenth time, I’m so grateful for the fictional worlds I can disappear in when the real world provides example after example of ignorance, cruelty, and fear-based behavior.
My work-in-progress isn’t a smash-the-capitalist-patriarchy story. However, it will be (I hope) funny and provide glimpses of shared humanity. This manuscript is me fighting back with my humor and heart.
As the Dalai Lama said: Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries.
Without them humanity cannot survive.
Some days are so hard that I’m tempted to give up and assume the fetal position. Over the last couple days a young relative was diagnosed with a health condition and then a neighborhood family suffered a heartbreaking tragedy. I’ve felt overwhelmed and weepy. But I’ve also experienced joy as I hugged my son, watched a magpie take flight, and listened to my snoring dogs as they snuggle together in their bed. I’ve made progress on my new writing project and shared laughter with my visiting brother-in-law. I didn’t give up and curl into a ball.
Life is a series of sunshine and shit-storms, and as long as I remember to think of it that way, the better I cope. The key (for me, anyway) is tapping into the light amidst the dark. Finding the balance. I was reminded of that as I struggled to balance the light and dark in this photo of Marcel.
The result is nowhere near perfect, but then again, neither is life.
Zippy and I passed this sculpture on the sidewalk as we walked around the neighborhood with Emma yesterday morning. It’s now 7:15 on Sunday night and I can say with absolute certainty that spotting this cheery little fella was the highlight of a very difficult weekend.
I hope it also brings you a smile.
This morning started with a run followed by delicious coffee and rice cakes smeared with peanut butter as I began working on revisions. Everything was clicking and life was good.
Looking back on it, I wish I’d bottled how I felt then because the day quickly took a number of turns for the worse and now I’m kinda worn out from it all. I’ve tried and tried, but I can’t conjure up those good feelings. Damn you, life’s curves and slick surfaces!
Ah well, tomorrow means a fresh start.