Gratitude

This morning started out rough as the weight of all we’re enduring hit me. Sometimes I wish I could live in a happy state of denial (“the pandemic is over and X, Y, Z aren’t happening, either!”), and eagerly greet each new day. Alas, I’m not wired that way.

The good news is, I’m feeling better now.
The birds are singing and the sun is shining.
Gratitude!

Backyard. August 4, 2022

And I’m forever grateful that sunflowers exist.

PSA: We’re all in this together

A friend is struggling mightily right now, and she’s not alone in her feeling of overwhelm and hopelessness. Every one of us is dealing with personal stuff on top of the societal and planetary crises. I want to note this here and now, as a reminder for the next time someone cuts me off in traffic or doesn’t return a wave or any number of completely trivial things that might wind me up.

Everyone is dealing with way too much these days. But we’re all in this together and we are all we’ve got.

So, it’s good to extend a little grace whenever we can. 🌻

My Five Touchstones

Like many others, I’ve been struggling under the weight of reality. (I started to list the many crises here then realized there’s no need to drag me or my readers down yet again). The point it, stuff’s really hard. Some days I’m not sure how to keep going. Those feelings were so strong a couple mornings ago that I was compelled during my intuition activation session to ask “What’s the point?”

I received five words:
Joy              Nature               Compassion               Justice               Peace

They immediately resonated with me and are my new touchstones for keeping me afloat. When I start feeling overwhelmed and defeated, I return to those five words. Today, I dedicate this post to them.

For instance, the JOY I felt when watching Emma enthusiastically splash and drink from the stream while hiking last September.

Cataract Lake. September 27, 2021

And on that same hike, glorious NATURE completely rejuvenated my soul.

Cataract Lake. September 27, 2021

The best way to live is by showing COMPASSION for others, as exemplified by this child as he helps a lamb reunite with its mother.

This morning I rejoiced in the news of JUSTICE served in Louisiana after the community organized to defeat Formosa Plastics in its attempt to build one of the world’s largest plastics plants in a Black community. Solidarity!

Finally, there’s always a sense of PEACE when watching birds in our yard, especially in the quiet after a snowfall.

Goldfinch in backyard.  October 24, 2019

Yes, life’s a hard row to hoe. But there are always glimmers of good along the way. Remember: JOY. NATURE. COMPASSION. JUSTICE. PEACE.

A bouquet for me and thee

Yesterday was emotionally rough for me and upon waking this morning, I feared sinking into that dark place again. So, I vowed to keep myself occupied all day. We took Emma for a walk before it got too hot and after that, I cleaned, did laundry, wrote, did my yoga and hooped for a while. Somewhere in there, I also took a short nap with Loki-cat on my chest.

It’s now 7:00 p.m. and I made it through the day without tears. Might not seem like a lot, but today’s success gives me confidence and momentum for tomorrow. I’m celebrating with this wildflower bouquet.

Routt National Forest. July 12, 2022.

This bouquet is also offered up to anyone else struggling out there. You aren’t alone. You are beautiful and enough, just as you are. Keep shining your light.

Thankful Thursday

Today I am thankful for:
beautiful surprises along the trail,

Lynx Pass Campground. July 13, 2022

creatives & their creations,
hitting SEND on a brand new manuscript to my agent,
rain last night & cooler temperatures today,
and my family, friends, and comrades in this beautiful & brutal world.

focus unfocus

Sometimes it’s good to blur the lines a bit.

May 9, 2022

Disclosure: my intent in taking this photo was to capture the entire image in sharp focus. Didn’t turn out that way. But that’s okay, because focus isn’t always the be-all, end-all. It’s healthy to balance focus and a lack of focus. At least, that’s what I tell myself when I awaken from yet another bout of daydreaming.

What’s the plan

Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?
~ Mary Oliver

June 22, 2022

I don’t know about you, but the events of the past weeks have cranked up my attention-deficit tendencies as my brains thinks “I need to work on that issue which affects this and this issue, and then there’s this other issue which is also connected to this that and the other issue, but they’re all so so important and need immediate attention, so where to focus?”

And that’s how they want it. They’ve intentionally created chaos and hardship in order to grind us down. A whack-a-mole world in which we’re forced to constantly swing our mallets at the problems, diluting our energies and coating us in a thick layer of despair. (Brace yourselves for an upcoming SCOTUS opinion on the EPA and the end of environmental regulations.)

But, as Mariame Kaba says “Let this radicalize you rather than lead you to despair.” [Note: one of the best books I’ve read, ever, is Kaba’s We Do This ‘Til We Free Us]. And as for my ADD thoughts about where to put my efforts, I found this Twitter thread immensely helpful:

The gist is: keep on doing what you’re doing PLUS be intentional about strengthening ties with other organizations/efforts to create more collaboration. Build on what you’re already doing.

Personally, my current plan is to continue revising my middle grade novel that’s a friendship story set against a backdrop of PIC abolition and restorative justice. Doing that work helps me avoid despair. Creativity has always brought me peace and balance, so add a pinch of radicalism in the content plus weave in some of what I’m continuing to learn, and I’m (currently) feeling solid re my focus in this one wild and precious life.

Please, reach out if you think your efforts/interests might align so that together we can build something bigger and stronger. ☀️

Intentional peace

Yesterday, we drove Moby the Great White Campervan to the mountains for some rest and relaxation. Our intention was a few hours of peace and rejuvenation. We’d never been there before and were thrilled to claim a small parking area next to Buffalo Creek. I explored with the camera and captured some nice shots. This is where I sat to work on my novel revisions.

Buffalo Creek. June 22, 2022

I sat in a chair on the little patch of beach at the bottom of the photo and revised a chapter on my laptop as Zippy and Emma napped in the van. Rushing water. Clean air. A shiny, green hummingbird buzzing in for a visit.

The entire experience soothed my spirit and, as I type these words, I’m already looking forward to a return visit. May each of us experience peace and rejuvenation in these very difficult days.

It’s been a day, here’s a pretty picture

Until a minute ago, I thought today was Wednesday. All afternoon, I planned to share this photo from Staunton State Park for a “Wordless Wednesday” post.

June 7, 2022

So what took me so long to post the photo?

Well, I used Microsoft’s OneDrive in the early days of the pandemic when  I was doing housing justice work, and somehow today when working on revisions in a Word doc, I activated that stupid program again. And somehow my photos ended up in there? I don’t know. I’m still not sure what’s going on with my computer and am ready to scream, so will stop here and gaze upon that lovely vista. And breathe . . .

Happy not-Wednesday to everyone.

Bee calm

A little reminder to focus on the tiny, intricate miracles all around us.

September 12, 2020

This sedum isn’t blooming right now and I doubt many bees are currently buzzing in my yard, but . . .  someday soon.  In the meanwhile, I can gaze upon this image and will my mind and system into calm. *deep breaths* Maybe it can do the same for you. 💚

Thankful Thursday: glimpses of joy

Life’s hard on a personal and global level these days, and I’m trying hard to find the joy.

  • Here are this morning’s writing session partners (Emma in the front row while Marcel sits in solidarity behind the laptop). The three of us made good progress in our middle-grade novel revisions (and we now have over 100 revised pages).

  • A much-needed zoom therapy session with Sara, who I now refer to as Saratonin (thanks to another client who bestowed the nickname).
  • Twenty minutes in the sunshine after the therapy session, in which I bundled up and stood on the south-face deck as I breathed in cold, clean air, listened to twittering birds, and felt immense gratitude for the natural world.

Snow-laden Mountain Mahogony.    February 24, 2022

Golden Yarrow. 2.24.22

Just because

When everything feels cruel and horrific, I lean on natural beauty. This photo isn’t especially special, but gazing upon these coneflowers that bloomed in my garden brings me a moment of inner peace.

July 16, 2020

Maybe it can do the same for you.

#HoopDancingChallenge

On New Year’s Eve of 2019, I counted up my hoop-dancing minutes and found I’d danced for 19 hours that year. That felt impressive and I thought to myself “How cool would it be to dance for 24 hours in 2020?” Well, we all know what happened that year and I didn’t hit the mark. Not by a long shot.

Last night I added up my hoop-dancing minutes: 17.5 hours. While that’s fewer minutes than 2019, there are still 8 days left in this year. I’d only need another 389 minutes and, the more I thought about it, the more I liked the idea. 2021 has  been another extremely difficult year–in some ways much harder than the previous–and I really want to close it out doing something that brings me so much joy.

Self portrait December 24, 2021

According to my complex mathematical computations, I’ll need to average 49 hoop-dancing minutes per day to hit my goal. I just danced for 36, smiling the whole time. Now I’m off to ice my recently de-booted foot so I can get back into the spin later today.

#Caturday message from our sponsor

Tracy is taking this day to do whatever in the hell she wants. Sit in a patch of sunshine. Read a book. Rub my head or that of my brother Loki. Pet that frequently over-amped dog she calls Emma Jean-Jean. Have a snack or nap. Take another leisurely bootless walk. Create or not create. The decisions belong to Tracy.

October 9, 2021

I trust this isn’t a problem for any of you, right?

All right, I’m late for my own nap so I’ll wish you a good day. Be well.

Thankful Thursday: new paint now peace

Today I am grateful the week-long paint exterior paint job was completed several hours before the season’s first snowfall.

Image by Wilfried Pohnke from Pixabay

I’m grateful we resolved a big mix-up. Turned out they’d matched the trim color incorrectly, which I didn’t realize until last night. I spent sleepless hours fretting about it and woke all out of sorts. When I spoke to them and didn’t get much satisfaction, I wisely went for a 38 degree run on the trails. The cold air and beautiful open space cleared my mind. Afterward, we talked more, they listened to my concerns, and agreed to return at a later date to repaint the trim the correct color.

It’s been 12 years since the exterior was painted and the southern and eastern exposures were brutalized by sun and weather. I hadn’t anticipated the incredible noise and disruption that would come with three guys sanding-drilling-pounding on various walls, often simultaneously. Not to mention occasionally being caught off-guard when I spotted strange men through the windows.

One more time: I am grateful the exterior paint job is complete! (For a while, anyway).

I’m very thankful for our home and our ability to pay for its upkeep. (And hooray that the supply chain issues only slightly affected the timeline for completing the job!)

It’s a good Thursday on the planet.

Thankful Thursday: improved outlook

Two hours ago, my innards were a mass of writhing anxiety and I (briefly) considered cancelling out on a zoom call with some local activists. I’d signed up to learn about the coalition they’re putting together to help the most vulnerable in our community, but felt so overwhelmed I thought it might be best to bail rather than run the risk of falling apart onscreen in front of strangers.

Fortunately, I joined the call and am now feeling much better. Possibly as stellar as this Steller’s Jay. (sorry, not sorry!)

Photo by Zippy. August 6, 2021

Seriously, the folks I met with are doing good work and I’m excited to join their efforts. The current global reality is layered with multiple ongoing traumas and much of it is outside my control. But this local effort stands a very good chance of actually making a difference in people’s lives.

I’m grateful that today I, once again, learned it’s much healthier for me to choose taking action over wallowing in debilitating anxiety.

#NoClimateNoDeal

It’s fitting that smoke obscured this photo of a coal plant I took as we drove past on Saturday.

Craig Station. August 7, 2021

We’d been camping at Rifle Falls State Park and woke to the valley filled with wildfire smoke. We quickly packed up and left. Turned out, the entire western half of Colorado was (and continues to be) choked with smoke from wildfires in the northwest. There was no escaping it.

I’ve spent much of the past several days closed off in my bedroom with an air purifier. My climate anxiety was already high and then the UN released its climate report yesterday. (Just typing those words sent a surge of anxiety throughout my system.)

I called my Senators and Representative today, all wealthy white men from Colorado which has been experiencing the worst air pollution in the world, to urge them to drop their incrementalism and vote to save humanity. The Democrats stuck us with a bi-partisan infrastructure bill (something the loathsome yet highly disciplined Republicans would never, ever have done) and we desperately need the reconciliation bill that addresses climate and poverty. The Progressive Caucus in the House is saying #NoClimateNoDeal if climate is stripped from the reconciliation bill and I can only hope they, for once, hold firm. However, I’m not naive enough to believe they’ll use their power to do the right thing. Time and again, they go along with the status quo that’s currently killing us.

Still, I think it’s well-worth a couple minutes of everyone’s time to call their representatives to demand they vote for the people and planet. Demand they keep the reconciliation bill intact. The Capitol switchboard (202) 224-3121
#NoClimateNoDeal

Thank you in advance.

Reward: three of my favorite things

Bees, blooms, and butterflies.

Showy Milkweed and pollinators.  July 9, 2021

I’m posting this photo as my reward for all I’ve accomplished today:

  • Exercise (indoor, again)
  • Revised a chapter
  • Healthy (mostly) eating
  • Finished Shirley Jackson’s LIFE AMONG THE SAVAGES
  • Swept the floor
  • Stayed the hell off Twitter (mostly)
  • Focused (mostly) on things within my control
  • Played with Emma and snuggled with Marcel (and allowed Loki to nap without interruption)

Yes, I’m one of those people who derive great satisfaction from checklists. And they’re especially important to me on days in which I feel very close to the edge.

Well done, Tracy.

Inner sunshine

I just had a session with my therapist and feel really good!

July 4, 2021

Lighter.
Liberated.
Exhilarated.

Wishing those same feelings for everyone out there. Happy Monday!

Self-care

It’s been a hard day and I’m trying to accomplish tasks here and there in order to stay out of my head. Weeding the front flower beds, laundry, and vacuuming. Reading and writing a tiny bit. Kissing sweet Emma on the head. While all those things were constructive and helpful, they aren’t enough. That’s why I’m posting this photo — so that I can revisit the peaceful image as needed.

Lamb’s Ear and honey bee.   July 3, 2021

And I invite anyone in need of a break from the stresses of reality to do the same.

When the going gets tough

We woke in the middle of the night to the smell of wildfire smoke. Zippy shut off the swamp cooler and closed all windows. It’s only June and wildfire season has begun.

Image by Steve Buissinne from Pixabay

Since early May, I’ve run every other day and that routine has been crucial for my mental health. I haven’t yet missed a running day and when I got up this morning, I felt so many emotions about the climate crisis and the lack of political will to do anything about it. My despair mounted and, more than ever, I needed to run. The good news is we have a 20+ year-old treadmill (that’s gone through multiple running belts over the years) and I ran on that for 25 minutes. I pounded out the miles, my mind clearing as sweat slicked my skin.

This afternoon I made the mistake of going on Twitter where I came across this tweet:

And I began to spin some more, the anxiety and rage building. So, did I hop on the treadmill again? Nope. This time I began rereading one of my very favorite books:

I highly recommend any book by Cynthia Kadohata, but especially THE THING ABOUT LUCK which is funny and tender and makes my heart sing. *happy sigh*

I have to keep reminding myself that electoral politics is not going to save us. We the people must rise up as one and stand together against the rich and powerful. In the meanwhile, I’m focusing on mutual aid in my community in addition to lots and lots of running and reading.

This day’s been hard, but I’m still standing.