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. 💚
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
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.
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.
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.
Today I am grateful the week-long paint exterior paint job was completed several hours before the season’s first snowfall.
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.
Sometimes you need to press pause to let everything sink in. ~ Sebastian Vettel
Arizona Woodpecker, Cave Creek Canyon Ranch. May 16, 2019
An artist’s perspective: I shut my eyes in order to see. ~ Paul Gauguin
May 8, 2021
A dog’s perspective: I shut my eyes in order to better feel the breeze and smell the odors. ~ Emma Jean-Jean
A woman’s perspective: I shut my eyes in order to momentarily pretend all the horribleness in the world isn’t happening. ~ Tracy
I arise in the morning torn between a desire to improve the world and a desire to enjoy the world. This makes it hard to plan the day. ~ E. B. White
On the patio. August 22, 2021
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.
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
Thank you in advance.
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.
I just had a session with my therapist and feel really good!
July 4, 2021
Wishing those same feelings for everyone out there. Happy Monday!
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.
We live in a rainbow of chaos. ~ Paul Cezanne
July 1, 2021
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.
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.
I go to nature to be soothed and healed, and to have my senses put in order.
Canada Goose on nest at Sawhill Ponds. May 6, 2021
It feels as if there’s been an acceleration of the cruelty and inhumanity happening in the world and while I feel the need to bear witness to the suffering (notably that which is sponsored by my government to the tune of $10 million/day which allows Israel to commit genocide against Palestinian people), it wears me down. Nature helps me keep going. Nature is my refuge.
As always, I am exceedingly grateful for its many splendors.
I took this photo a year ago today. As I recall, it was a balmy day filled with bird songs and busy bees. We were in the early days of the pandemic and communing with backyard nature was balm for my soul.
April 27, 2020
Today, plenty of birds are singing on this cool and rainy day. However, the shrub in the photo is behind last year’s schedule –buds still folded up tight –and I’ve yet to see a bee in the yard. We’re still experiencing a global pandemic, but the blooms and bees are on their way. And when they arrive, I’ll be out there again, drinking in all their glory.
And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom. ~ Elizabeth Appell
April 8, 2021
This feels like a universal quote that applies to all of us, possibly on multiple levels. Here’s hoping we all blossom in one way or another this week. Remember, spring is the season of new growth. (And yes, I’m also speaking to myself here.)
I’ve been struggling mightily with a family-of-origin issue and a while back reached out to the therapist I’d worked with years ago. Her client roster was full so I was put on a wait-list. Well, the wait is over. I’m both grateful and anxious she can now fit me into her schedule. My first appointment is in a few minutes and my insides are fluttering.
September 12, 2020
I know I need to do the work in order to move ahead. That doesn’t stop me from wishing for a magic wand that could make everything all better.
Cooper’s Hawk by Zippy. Sept 18, 2020
I’ve been driving the struggle bus lately and haven’t been disciplined about working on my latest book. In the past, I’d work hours and hours at a time on my projects, coming up for air only to discover it was late afternoon and that I’d done little else. These days, I don’t have that drive. Sometimes I’m at peace with this change. Other days, not so much; those critical voices can get pretty damned loud in my head.
Yesterday I realized it felt worse to not work on my book. So I opened the document and reworked a critical early scene between one major and one minor character. Page-wise, I didn’t make huge progress. But characterization and plot-wise, that little bit of work moved the revision forward in a significant manner. Plus, by taking action I was able to douse my angsty-guilty feelings. I hope to do the same today. However, whatever happens I’m going to try hard not to judge myself. It’s hard times on the planet and we all deserve some grace.
Did the healthy thing today: got up and out of the house. After walking Emma in our neighborhood, Zippy and I went to Clear Creek in Golden. This time, I brought my camera. We sat on the boulders lining the creek to eat the lunch Zippy prepared, listening to the rushing water and the geese honking as they flew overhead. An absolutely stellar mental health strategy. 10/10 recommend.
Ice, snow, and water rushing over a rock in Clear Creek. January 12, 2021.
I’m going to make Clear Creek a habit.
I’m making a concerted effort to focus my gaze on activities and topics that bring joy rather than churning anxiety. Today, along with Zippy and Emma, I went out in the BLOWY sunshine to hike/run on the trails. I felt so much better as a result, even if I did have to carry my running hat that would NOT stay on my head.
Yesterday’s act of self-care was to photograph lovely shadows on the patio. Here are two of my favorites (the one on the right also contains sunflower stalk shadows):
So much going on in the world demands our push-back, but sometimes I need to lower my gaze and focus on the small stuff. Sunshine, wrought-iron patio furniture, and shadows. Who knew?
Each morning, I play loud, upbeat music to help me get going (one of my go-to songs is What’d I Say by Ray Charles) and yesterday it worked like a charm. I was singing and dancing as I washed my face when suddenly, the reality of what we’re enduring hit me. I froze, staring at my tear-filled eyes in the mirror. I felt a crushing weight, the despair pressing down on me as I remembered all over again that we’re truly on our own. Then I blinked away the tears and sang more loudly. When one day at a time feels like too much, I take it one breath at a time. That’s how I cope.
Squirrel friend out my window. November 20, 2020.
Please take care of yourselves and hang in there as best you can. My enduring hope is that we the people will rise up together to demand better. In the meanwhile, sing, dance, or do whatever carries you through those especially tough moments.
I’m struggling to focus today so it feels very appropriate to post an out-of-focus flower from my garden last spring.
Cranesbill. May 23, 2020
Even though it’s not a sharp image, the bright pink and the various shades of green are soothing. And I have nothing but admiration for a bloom that stands tall while others hunker down.