Photo-induced memories

The top left photo shows Doug Chase (and the program director) at the soup kitchen in 1999, our first year volunteering with Grant Avenue StreetReach.

I’m taking a break from writing after writing 50,000 words last month. I intended to do nothing but read and then remembered the enormous stash of photos I swore I’d organize so my sons wouldn’t have to deal with them.

So I started scrapbooking and quickly felt a sense of overwhelm. My family has SO many photos. Then I asked for/demanded help. As a result, Zippy and Zebu have stepped up and helped round photo corners and put sticky tape on their backs while I crop and organize the next pages. It feels a lot better to share the load. And it’s good for me to let go of my perfectionist tendencies.

The page I’ve highlighted here shows Wildebeest playing chess with a man named Steve who taught both sons to play. This page is also bittersweet because it contains the only photo I have of our friend Doug who died in 2009. He was a lovely man and today I miss him all over again.

I frequently curse the number of photos needing our attention, but finding Doug in the stacks was like striking gold.

Finding the balance

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.

It’s been a day

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.

Ready or not here I come

It’s a new week and I’m in fake-it-’til-I-make-it mode. There are seriously messed up things happening on the planet and my gut instinct is to stay in bed reading books and eating toast for the rest of my life. But that’s exactly what all the horrible people out there wreaking havoc right now want; they’re counting on wearing us down so that we start averting our gaze.

Nope. Books and toast are good, but constant vigilance is essential.

Today I’m gonna make like a prairie dog . . . and keep fighting the good fight.

Thankful Thursday: Better Late Than Never

Sometimes taking the most simple action can quell my anxiety. Yesterday as I worked on this revision and felt overwhelmed by the many, many details of my madcap story that must be explained by the end of the manuscript, I started a list.

LOOSE ENDS / EXPLANATIONS NEEDED

Whoa. Behold this literary rocket scientist at work!

I’m trying hard to stop kicking myself for not creating the list at the outset of this round of revisions and, instead, be grateful for my peace of mind in the here and now.

Sunday Confessional

Today, I didn’t share.

Zippy and I worked in the front yard for 90 minutes (we’d set a two-hour goal, but gave up after the effing wind blew off my hat one too many times). He deadheaded the blue mist spirea bushes while I dealt with the lavender. WE HAVE SO MUCH LAVENDER.

_MG_0006 Bee on lavender

Lavender in all its summertime glory.

Normally, when I thin plants I put a FREE ad on Craigslist and leave the plants next to the house for people to pick up whenever they can. Today, I couldn’t deal with added layers of decision-making and organization, and tore out a garbage-bag full of run-amok lavender and threw it away. To summarize: I didn’t share plants with other gardeners and I didn’t compost the waste.

If confession is supposed to be so good for the soul, why do I still feel guilty?

Anguish and Outrage

This morning I did my twice-monthly volunteer stint with the Denver VOICE. As the non-profit’s Twitter bio states: “The Denver VOICE is a monthly newspaper that provides entrepreneurial opportunities to people who are homeless or impoverished.” It’s a wonderful organization that can help people earn enough money to get off the streets.

Denver VOICE vendor John Alexander

During today’s session at the distribution desk (where I sold papers for 50 cents to the vendors who will vend them for a suggested $2 each), I shared many smiles and laughs. It was a good morning. And then, near closing time, one more vendor came in the office. It was a man who struggles with mental health issues, and today was particularly difficult for him. He became agitated and then emotional. It was heartbreaking to witness someone in such a vulnerable condition.

As I drove home, I cried. For the umpteenth time I thought, “Life is a hard row to hoe.” But then I remembered the GOP greedheads who are rushing through tax legislation that will decimate the safety net that’s supposed to support the nation’s most vulnerable, and my anguish turned to outrage.

How dare they turn their backs on people struggling to keep their heads above water?How dare those politicians enrich themselves and the already uber-wealthy at the expense of the rest of us? And, perhaps most importantly, why aren’t we taking to the streets with torches and pitchforks?

Sunday Confessional: Everything is making me sick and I’m taking a break

Today I went through my email and unsubscribed  from every political, environmental, and news organization that sends me updates, action alerts, petitions, pleas for money, links to never-ending bad news, etc.

I’m worn out and run-down. Exhausted.

Between the constant assault on the planet and the constant assault on the most vulnerable/powerless people of the planet, I’ve had enough. (Note: These assaults aren’t new, just more blatant than before.)

I’ve fought the good fight for many years, and I know I’m needed now. But I also know I’m no good to anyone or anything if  I’m not healthy. So I’m temporarily changing my status from Activist to Inactive.

Today I’m taking action for me.

I plan on watching lots of cavorting goat videos.

When it’s all too much

I know I’m not alone in feeling overwhelmed by all the horrifying happenings in the world right now. In an act of self-preservation, I’ve spent today in a fictional world that exists in my head. I’m revising my middle-grade novel, spending time with some funny girls and “bad” guys who, in the big scheme of things, aren’t really all that bad. I know that I need to return to reality tomorrow and behave as a contributing member of society, but right now I’m hunkered down in a happier place.

Garden gone mad

I’ve neglected my flower gardens this year and it’s very crowded out there, both front and back yards. The thistles and bindweed are giving the perennials a run for their money. I spent two hours out there today working on one small area in back, and it still looks like a garden gone mad.

Asters, day lilies, sedum, yarrow, and three shrubs that have run amok.

Asters, day lilies, sedum, yarrow, and three shrubs that have run amok.

It’s a vicious cycle:
I’m overwhelmed by the mess
and avoid going out there
which means more stuff grows out of control
which I then avoid.

Some women fantasize having a cabana boy,
but I dream of Chance the gardener.

 

 

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On becoming numb and desensitized

I just saw this tweet:
adam johnson iraq tweet

I responded with this:

And now I can’t stop thinking about how for years and years I maintained an Iraq death toll sign in my front yard. Every day I looked up the death tolls for Iraqi civilians and U.S. troops, and changed the numbers on the sign. The sign Zippy and I kept chained to our locust tree after other versions were stolen. The sign that resulted in vandalism and harrassment from people in our neighborhood. The sign that was my voice after my elected “representatives” refused to listen to me and the millions of people around the globe who took to the streets to demand the United States NOT invade Iraq in 2003.

Death toll numbers as of August 8, 2014

Death toll numbers as of August 8, 2014

That photo is from a post on August 8, 2014, when Obama started bombing Iraq some more. I never put it out again despite the ongoing, never-ending death and destruction following the U.S. led invasion and occupation of Iraq.

Which brings me back to Adam H. Johnson’s tweet and my shame.

The corporate elites and imperialists count on us to be apathetic due to overwhelm, but it’s on me that I’ve let the people of Iraq slip off my emotional radar. Just as it’s on me that I’ve pretty much become numb and desensitized to every single instance of death and destruction. I don’t want to feel numb and desensitized, I really don’t. I’d rather be angry and in the streets with a pitchfork.

But everything feels like too fucking much.

 

 

Some days I want to cover my eyes

“There cannot be enduring peace, prosperity, equality and brotherhood in this world if our aims are so separate and divergent, if we do not accept that in the end we are people, all alike, sharing the Earth among ourselves and also with other sentient beings, all of whom have an equal role and stake in the state of this planet and its players.”
~  Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck 

Double-blooming clematis from my garden.

Double-blooming clematis from my garden.

Tiny House Dreams

I live in a house with an upstairs and a downstairs.
There’s stuff in every room of the house.
Some of that stuff I use each and every day.
Some of that stuff hasn’t seen daylight in years.

I live in a house surrounded by a large yard.
There are trees and shrubs and perennial flowers in every part of the yard.
In some places, the flowers are growing out of control (day lilies, I’m looking at you).
In most every part of the yard, weeds are growing out of control.

I try to stay on top of the clutter inside the house.
I attempt to keep the weeds at bay.
But it’s a losing battle and I often feel a sense of overwhelm.
Such as today.

I’m dreaming of a tiny house and one pot of geraniums.

Wind River Bungalow

Wind River Bungalow