changing shapes, shifting
directions- I navigate with shaky balance. I do
my best to anticipate, yet fall short; vulnerable to the destructive
undertow of frustration. I close my eyes and think…. imagine.
In my mind, things happen so differently… peacefully,
I would like to float… gracefully, like a kite
riding the breeze. Although,
The poem above is supposed to be in the shape of a kite. It looks kind of like a sting ray, though…
I’m still struggling with wanting to do more than I physically have time for. Twice this week I fell asleep at my computer, which frustrates me because my sleep-typing is horrible. Not a single legible sentence that I can use! As I approach the weekend, I’m working to accept that my email “In” box is going to be overrun and I’m going to be temporarily behind on blog reading for the next few weeks. I don’t like it, but that’s life.
I’m going to visit my parents this weekend, so I won’t have computer access. If I get ambitious I might try to do some reading on my phone, but I dislike leaving comments that way. See, I have enough typos using a keyboard… the auto-correct on my phone makes me look like a blithering idiot who cannot compose a coherent thought. Sometimes I think the programmers who set up auto-correct did so with a sense of humor. (Seriously, I mistype “imagine” and one of the suggested words is “ikmaoq”. How often is it used in English conversation?!)
I won’t bore you with the “things” going on right now… everyone is busy. May we all find moments to step away (either physically or mentally) and feel those peaceful moments of acceptance.
Have a beautiful weekend!
Ripples in circles,
actions, reactions surround.
Who creates the flow?
When I spotted these ducks in the lake on Saturday, two cliched sayings rolled through my mind.
“Like water off a duck’s back.
“Go with the flow.”
To me, both phrases appear on the surface to encourage peace. I can’t argue that it is good practice to let things go and not hold a grudge. Those grievances can become heavy.
At first thought, going with the flow seems to promote adjusting to what life serves up with the goal of navigating gracefully through the unexpected. As I watched the ducks swim, I noticed they would change course- one moment swimming toward each other, then drifting away again. It occurred to me that, like the ducks, we can create our own flow.
We’re not bound to the ripples others create.
As I sat down to write this post on Thursday night, my motto was, “when gears don’t shift, stay in park.”
In my early-week confidence, I’d been certain I could write a story to post on Friday. Then, work happened. This week has made me wish I were close to retirement age. (Despite what my older son says, sadly, that is not the case.) Hours spent assessing the complications of contractual liability, updating payment plans in underwriting manuals, and testing new reports left me less creative than I like.
I parked myself on the couch to write a post about how I planned to embrace nothingness. I looked through some old photos hoping to find a peaceful one to accompany the short post, and then a funny thing happened- a short story emerged.
Gabriella rolled over and stretched her arms above her head. Each morning as she shook off the grogginess of sleep, she almost forgot she didn’t have a permanent home anymore. The early morning sun peeked through the flap of the cowhide tent, reminding her of reality. They had been nomads since soldiers took over their land three years ago. Her father said they must always stay one step ahead of the sword. She heard her father’s voice outside.
“What do you suppose it means?”
The response came in a crescendo of murmurs.
Curious, she slipped her wool shift over her nightshirt and pushed through the door flap. Her kinsmen clustered on either side of a clearing that looked like someone had shaved a twelve-foot-wide stripe across the landscape, all the way into the horizon. She scanned the faces for her best friend, Daisy.
“It must be a sign,” Gabriella’s father, chief of the Mogollon tribe said as he rubbed his bearded chin.
“Daisy!” Gabriella called as she rushed toward her friend. When her feet hit the edge of the newly-formed clearing, a hand grabbed her shoulder, pulling her backward.
“You mustn’t cross the line.”
“But Father, I want to talk to Daisy!”
He shook his head. “They are another people now.” He turned to address the growing crowd flanking the edges of the dividing stripe. “The spirits have spoken. We must disperse as they have directed.” Everyone residing on this side of the line,” he gestured to his left,” will form one tribe. We will pack and leave by sundown.” He pointed to his right, “everyone on this side will become a second tribe. Today, you must elect your chief. He will determine when you embark on the journey to a new destination.”
“Father, we should stay together.”
The chief turned to his daughter. “This is not a point to be challenged, child. Ignoring the spirit ruler of the land shall have dire consequences.”
“But Daisy- she’s my best friend. We’ve been together since birth. This isn’t fair!”
“The spirit has spoken.” He clapped his hands twice and the people hesitated only a moment before dispersing into their respective camps.
Gabriella stared, incredulous that no one challenged her father. The idea that the stripe dividing the landscape was a divine revelation seemed preposterous. She knelt down and studied the shaved grass, still unsure enough to actually touch it.
Something about clouds
Building on the horizon,
Captures my attention,
Something about rain
Granting a reprieve from sunshine,
Eases my restless mind,
Slows passing time.
When things get to be too much, I look up and watch the clouds. I looked up often last week!
I had Saturday night to myself and had intended to spend the time writing. I did write some, but spent the bulk of my alone time clearing “stuff”. I removed stacks of clutter from table tops, shredded a pile of papers that had stacked up beside the shredder, pulled some clothes from the closet to donate, and read a few magazines that had been taunting me for months. I feel better (freer) when I’m not surrounded by clutter.
This is how watching clouds affects my mind. I tend to worry (read: obsess over details, no matter how minute.) Sometimes everything builds up to the point I can’t even make a simple decision. (I’ve skipped lunch more than once simply because I couldn’t decide what to eat.) I know, that’s pathetic! Watching clouds distracts me from the constant noise in my mind… the swirl of things I need to accomplish or remember, the over-analyzing of things I wish I’d done better, and the odd thoughts and ideas that could be story ideas.
Monday is here whether I’m ready or not (and I don’t think I’m ready.) Rain is in the forecast, and I’m happy that clouds will help me transition into the work week.
I hope your Monday is peaceful!
I don’t have a fiction piece ready this week- but I have two stories in process, so I’ll definitely have one posted next week. Instead of rushing fiction, I decided to write about something I’ve been thinking about for several weeks: motivation.
Motivation is one of those human mind things that fascinate me. There are times when the prospect of success is enough to get us moving. In other instances, external factors give us a kick-start (like when a toddler is offered a reward for using the toilet.) I tend to think that internal motivation is stronger than motivation by reward… then again, some kind of motivation is better than none at all.
For instance, I would love to see my older son do his chores- and do them right- because of a sense of pride in a job well done. It would also be kind of cool to see pigs (or javelina) fly.
We’ve tried motivation in the form of allowance, or rather no allowance when chores aren’t done, with little success. Quite by accident, we found what does motivate him.
The events leading to this serendipitous discovery:
When my older son was nine, he drove us nuts begging for a cell phone. Finally, I said, “Don’t even bother asking again until you’re twelve.” That bought me a few years of peace, but then it happened: he turned twelve. Somehow, his mind interpreted my statement as, “You’ll get a cell phone when you’re twelve.”
The nagging commenced several weeks before his twelfth birthday. We made it clear: no chores, no possibility of a cell phone. He showed a little more initiative in doing his work. His own mistake led us to the biggest motivating factor. When he accidentally ruined the flip phone that we share between the kids, we activated the other spare phone we had on hand:
A pink phone… brilliant. Man, I wish I’d thought of that on my own!
While my younger son doesn’t seem bothered by the pink phone, my older son refuses to use it… even if it means extra waiting when his school activities end earlier than expected. He wants an iPhone. I smile and remind him, “You know how to make it happen.”
Discovering what motivates my son made me turn to my own (lack of) motivation. For several months, longer writing projects have been in a holding pattern. Rather than writing, I found myself playing mindless/addictive games on my phone, or watching Forensic Files marathons on TV. It seemed procrastination had won. But then through comments on my last fiction piece, I realized some things about why I’d stalled on writing.
Offers of guidance and assistance with my longer work gave me the extra nudge I needed. I’ve dusted off the rough outline of a novel-length story I’d started last year. I can’t wait to feel the satisfaction again of knowing I can finish a story over 5,000 words!
That’s the motivation I needed.
What motivates you- personal satisfaction? Recognition? Curiosity?
Our humble garden-
Fencing breached by wild piggies.
Salad dreams trampled.
Friday night, noises outside interrupted my blog reading. I’m pretty sure my heart missed several beats as I sat paralyzed with fear. It was late at night and everyone else was in bed, but I finally got the nerve to peek out the kitchen window to see who was on our porch.
I stared, stunned, as I counted two full-grown javelina and a baby javelina inside the fencing around our small garden in front of our patio. I woke my husband up to tell him our meager garden was going to be even paltrier by the time they finished grazing.
We stood in front of the kitchen window contemplating what to do. My husband tried cursing at them, but that wasn’t entirely effective. The two large javelina vacated the garden, leaving the baby running to and fro trying to find a way out. (I had to laugh at the “save yourself” mentality of these creatures!)
Horrified, I watched the poor thing try shoving its nose through the fencing, chewing the wire, and trampling the garden in a frantic search for an exit. I wanted to help, but I could hear the nearby snorts of the adults that didn’t run very far away. Going outside wasn’t an option.
Finally, the baby squeezed under the fencing and joined the other trespassers. One of the larger ones approached the window and gave a long look that seemed to say, “we’ll be back.” (Only without the Arnold Schwarzenegger accent.)
Since we moved here seventeen months ago, we’ve learned that the animals really don’t care that we bought the land. We’ve tried to claim some space for our own, but so far, we’ve been outmatched (I hesitate to write “outsmarted”…. It’s a huge hit to my ego to admit that elk and javelina are smarter than us.)
Yet the facts- our lousy 0 and 3 track record – are impossible to ignore.
For August, Emilio Pasquale provided the following photo that I used as inspiration for a story. If you haven’t already, you should check out his blog - he knows how to edit photos (I, on the other hand, do not!) The story begins after the photo…
Ramona Schmidt dragged her index finger through the inches-thick layer of snow on the truck’s hood. Like her heart, the snow had frozen, thawed, and been refrozen so many times. Like her soul, that rusty truck held enough memories to haunt several lifetimes.
“Mama, won’t you come inside?”
Ramona didn’t respond.
“She’s been standing out there for over an hour,” Paula said to her husband.
“Maybe she just needs some time.”
“She’ll freeze to death. It must be twenty degrees out there.”
“She’s wearing a coat.”
Paula scowled. “There’s no talking to her.”
Ramona frowned. Since her husband, Davy, had turned up missing sometime after the leaves colored and before the naked trees stood stark on the horizon, her daughter and son-in-law came to live with her. Whispers of dementia carried through thin walls; slow words delivered by raised voices. The way they talked about her like she wasn’t there infuriated her. She slipped a cigarette from the pack stowed in her right coat pocket. With her left hand she clicked the lighter and brought the flame to the tip of the cigarette pressed between her lips, taking in a long drag as the tobacco smoldered.
“Mama, I think you should come inside.” Paula draped an arm over her mom’s bony shoulders. She glanced at her husband- he nodded and headed toward the house.
Exhaled smoke escaped in tendrils. “I’m fine here.” Ramona fought the urge to shrug off her daughter’s condescending touch.
“The man is coming to look at the truck in about an hour.”
Ramona brushed her fingers along the exposed rust. That truck was already several years old when Davy brought it home. She’d never forget how he showed up that evening and said he wanted to take a mining job in Idaho. She didn’t understand why he couldn’t just mine copper in Arizona.
“If you’ve changed your mind about selling it, I can let him know.”
Ramona pursed her lips. “Winds change, minds don’t.” Eyes closed, she lifted her chin. As if on cue, another gust whipped a layer of fallen snow into the air. Her wrinkled cheeks, a topographical map of her years, stung from the latest assault. Her skin had grown dry from the hours spent outdoors at the mercy of an unforgiving winter. “My heart has gone dry from years of neglect.” She flicked her spent cigarette filter and ground it into the frozen hay with the toe of her fur-lined leather slipper.
“What?” Her daughter leaned closer. “What do you mean?”
“Thy will be done,” Ramona said with a shrug. She didn’t realize her ideas had translated to spoken words. She stayed immersed in the space between, where memories and new thoughts commingled in her brain. More and more, it became difficult to differentiate between real and manufactured history. The permeable line separating thoughts and words diminished with each passing day. She giggled. “Incontinence of the mind.”