Feb 27 2010

drifting along

I don’t know what’s going on, but I am not hating winter, or the snow this year.

It seems like everywhere I turn, people are wishing winter away, but for whatever reason, I am actually enjoying it.

Maybe it’s because at this point in my life, winter is the slowest time of year for me, and I actually have more time to simply be, to relax, to read. And time is what I am craving more of these days. Especially time that is my own to spend as I choose.

Or maybe its because as I get closer to …ahem… menopause, my crazy hormones seem to be keeping me pretty warm (quite often a little too warm). But that’s a story for a different day…

Maybe it’s because I’m trying to be more conscious of living in the moment… and wishing the rest of winter away seems like the wrong thing to do. It feels better to embrace it, find what is good about it:

  • smartwool socks
  • big giant snow globe flakes
  • sitting in front of the fire with a great book or
    a giant stack of magazines
  • pretty winter scarves
  • knitting
  • watching my dog play king of the mountain (snowdrift)
  • footprints in a field of snow
  • sugar coating on tree branches
  • running in a quiet-falling-straight-down snow
  • starting seeds in my basement
  • homemade soup and crusty bread

Maybe it’s because as I get closer to 50 I realize that I am entering the autumn of my life (it’s okay, fall is my favorite season!) and I know that winter will come next… so I better figure out how to enjoy it now.

Or maybe the fact that I am not hating winter is a sign that I’ve lost my mind just a little bit. But I think what I’ve found is much better: A little pocket of time in another year that promises to be just as busy as the last (if not busier). A moment, if you will, to slow down, relax, recharge.

I know that soon it will be spring, and I will be so glad to feel the sun on my face, smell the flowers in my garden, run in one layer instead of three…but for now, I am happy, I am content to sit here by the fire and enjoy this warmth, this moment, this cold and snowy day.

Call me crazy…but right now I think winter is pretty, pretty good.

Feb 25 2010

peripheral vision

How often do we notice, or fail to notice, the things that exist on the edges of our lives? Or the things that we see every day?

I came across this photo the other day, and I thought, “that’s pretty, where was that taken?” And then I realized that it is the swamp just down the hill from my house. And I didn’t recognize it! I was, to say the least, dumbfounded. I mean, I drive or run past there at least several times a week. And I’ve always loved the swamp, it is peaceful, beautiful, and home to scores of blue herons in the summer, but I can’t remember the last time I actually walked down there and just spent some time looking at it. Taking it in. Enjoying it.

I realized I spend much of my life with my head down, both literally and figuratively. I spend my days looking at a computer screen, or a desk, or the stove, or the kitchen sink. And when I’m not looking down, I’m looking inward, at the next task, the next job, the endless “to do” list that is daily existence.

I end up so focused on my own little mediocre life that I forget to look up, or outward, or away from the task at hand and notice the world, and the people, around me. Really, really notice them.

So here’s something I need to add: stop and smell the roses. Kiss my husband. Hug my kids (or at least text them!). In other words: pay attention.

Or one day I’ll be looking at a picture of my husband, or my children, or myself even, and will find myself saying, “Who the heck is that?”

The older you get, the faster time flies by–days blur together, seasons, years, and the next thing you know you don’t even recognize the swamp down the road from your house.

You’ve forgotten, once again, to take time to enjoy the view.
Your view. The one that is right in front of you every single day.

Is it possible that I’m just getting senile?

Better write myself a note.

Stop. Smell roses. Inhale.

Feb 23 2010

words… words…
between the lines of age

I seem to be collecting words to live by lately.
I’m not sure why that is, but I thought I would share
some of them here, in case any of them resound with you.

(Title of this post: Neil Young)

Be yourself, everyone else is taken.

(By Beth. My favorite blog title ever, but also words to live by.
Plus, it makes me smile.)

Work harder at accepting people
the way they are…
they’re doing the best they can.

(The words in my photo, paraphrased
from a quote by Diane Goodsmith.)

You must be the change
you want to see in the world.

(Mahatma Ghandi)

Having spent the better part of my life
trying either to relive the past or
experience the future before it arrives,
I have come to believe that in between
these two extremes is peace.

(Author Unknown)

You can’t control the behavior
of anyone but yourself.

(Pretty sure that one is my own.)

I have been trying to live by these words lately…

at least between the lines.

Feb 21 2010

my perfect world

As humans, we like to complain. It’s too cold outside. Too hot. My knee hurts. I am too busy. Winter is too long.

We don’t mean to be negative, I think we just tend to express those thoughts more than others. It gives us a way to bond. Misery does, after all, love company.

But what if we made an effort to do the opposite? I went into my garden today, and by garden I mean frozen tundra. February in New York does not allow much to grow, to be green, or pretty. But okay, in an attempt to be positive instead of wishing winter away I found this:

Pretty, right? Even in the frozen tundra of my February garden there is something beautiful to look at, something hopeful, something to NOT complain about.

So there you have it. Nothing is perfect.

But you can look for the tiny bit of pretty in the ugliest of days. The hardest of times.

It’s there somewhere.

You just have to keep your eyes wide open.

Feb 19 2010

crazy like a cat

I am a crazy cat lady.

But cats can be crazy, too. This one in particular. She runs around with absolutely no sense of inhibition. She plays with a plastic spring as if it were a mouse.She thinks she is a dog. She is always looking for a good time, a good meal, a good rubdown. She totally knows how to live in the moment (see above.) She is, above all, a survivor.

My son found her sitting in the middle of a 55 mph country road one Labor Day morning, just sitting there all by herself on the yellow stripe. But here’s the thing–she was only THREE WEEKS OLD. We never did find out how she came to be there. Or what happened to her mother.

When he showed up at the door with this little fur ball in his hand, the first thing I said (because we already had three cats) was, “You know we can’t keep her.”

Well, as you can see, she is still with us. And there is just something about her, she is tough. She shouldn’t really be here. I tried to feed here with an eye dropper those first few days, and she wouldn’t let me. A tiny three-week-old kitten and I could not hold her down to make her eat. But as soon as I mixed her up some kitten food/milk mush, she buried her head in the tiny, tiny bowl and ate and ate, barely coming up for air. When she did, her entire nose was coated with food. And this is how it went for weeks. Her nose actually ended up completely bald because she was constantly cleaning the food paste off of it.

So here she is two years later, loving life, fat (a little too fat) and happy. And the best part? She makes me laugh every day.

And that is always a good thing.

She also reminds me, every day, what it is to overcome. To be strong. To survive. And to do it all with a sense of humor.

I’m glad she found her way into our lives. Even if it means I have four cats. Does that make me crazy? I don’t know. You decide.

Either way, she makes me laugh. Out loud.

I’ll take that kind of crazy.

Feb 17 2010

15 minutes

Time. Some days it feels like the enemy. There is never enough of it. Everything takes too much of it. We are always letting it slip away. We waste it.

What if we didn’t? What if we joined hands with it, savoring each and every moment, even the ones that stress us, or anger us, or deplete us? What if time became the river beneath our canoe? What if we flowed with it and tried to enjoy the ride, wherever it takes us?

15 minutes. We all want ours. I seem to have lost mine. I feel like I am always behind by just about fifteen minutes. Where did it go? Can I get it back? And what would I do with it if I had it?

What if I just took it? What if I took 15 minutes every day to do…well, nothing? Just the thought makes me cringe. It feels like stealing. That’s 15 minutes of cleaning, or writing, or fixing, or working, or running, or sleeping, or ANYTHING that I could be doing. Crossing off my list.

But maybe I need that 15 minutes. Maybe it is searching for me. Maybe there is something it has to tell me, but I am too busy to stop and listen.

I can get a lot done in fifteen minutes. But maybe I need to allow myself to do nothing for 15 minutes and just be. Just breathe. Stare off into the distance. Every day.

Maybe there is something I am missing and it will take me that 15 minutes to find it. Or maybe what I will find is the 15 minutes I have lost. Maybe I’ll be on time again.

And I’ll have my 15 minutes. Not of fame.

Of sanity.

I’ll have that.

At least for 15 minutes.

Feb 15 2010

shadow song

sometimes it’s all about the shadows. shades of gray. nuance.

sometimes the thing you’re looking for is right there in front of you but you just don’t see it because it is in the shadow of something else in your life.

sometimes, you have to look at the shadow to see the true shape of something.

sometimes the shadow is more beautiful than the original. or bigger.

or scarier.

sometimes the shadow tells an entirely different story.

you can play with the shadow. you can fight it.

but you can’t move away from the shadow, it’s attached. it tethers you to the ground.

it adds dimension. it makes you real.

it cries when you cry, laughs when you laugh.

it dances when you dance.

but when you turn around, it’s gone.

Feb 13 2010

the days of wine and roses

ah, love.

when I was young I held all the classic fairy tale notions about love…the prince charming, he’s going to love me forever and treat me like a princess kind of stuff. Oh yes, I admit it. I spent a lot of time when I was young waiting for Mr. Charming to show himself.

And he did, a couple of times. But he never sticks around for long does he? I don’t mean the man himself, the real man you are in a relationship with. I’m talking about Prince Charming, fantasy man, the one we all make up in our heads, the one who always acts the way we think the man who loves us should act. You know, flowers, love letters, gifts, constant attention… the full blown princess treatment.

When I was young, and searching for this prince, I thought that finding him, and living happily-ever-after, would be finding real love. The dreamy-eyed I’ll never get over you and will always think you’re perfect kind of love.

But then, I changed my mind.

Because it’s easy to love someone when you’ve never tripped over their dirty socks, or smelled their morning breath, or seen them lose their temper over something really, really stupid. It’s easy to love someone when you aren’t with them on a day-to-day, daily grind kind of basis. It’s easy to love someone when you think they are perfect.

Now I know that real love, the kind that can last forever, wears a completely different set of clothing. Sometimes even sweat pants.

True love is the kind that can make it through dirty socks and dirty toilets and crabby days and family crises and new wrinkles and extra pounds and cellulite and football games and loud burps and bad hair days and grumpy mornings and forgotten anniversaries and stupid fights about who is going to buy the groceries.

Because if you can go through all that, and still, on February 14th say, “Will you be my valentine?” then that’s love. The kind that lasts. The real thing. If you can see all the parts of each other that are unappealing and difficult and flawed and sometimes unbearably human and still say “I think you are beautiful,” then you have found it.

True. Love.

Feb 11 2010

i run so i can eat chocolate

I love to run. I love everything about it. It is hard sometimes, my knees hurt a lot.

But I do it. Sometimes I can’t reach my goal, other days I go farther than I had planned. But no matter what, it makes me smile. I am always glad I did it. How many things can you say that about?

I don’t have time to run. But I do it anyway. People are always saying they don’t have time to exercise. I say it is a necessity. Not a chore. It is something you have to do. Like breathing. Sleeping. Eating chocolate. Exercise isn’t optional, our bodies need it. We weren’t designed to sit in chairs and on couches all day and night, we were designed to explore, to scavenge, to be on the move.

Running can stave off a lot of things. Stress. Depression. Middle-age spread (and that’s getting harder to fight these days). It helps keeps you young. It forces you to fill your lungs with oxygen and breathe deeper than you would otherwise. Running is meditation in motion.

When I run, I spend quality time with Mother Nature. I feel the sun on my face. I run in the rain sometimes, and when it’s snowing. I don’t care what my hair looks like. I don’t care what I look like. I am only there to run. And believe me, it’s not a pretty sight. Especially in winter. I like to be warm, so I wear lots of layers. And two hats. Under a face mask. Seriously. My niece once said, “You’re going out in public like THAT?”

I said, “Yup.” And I didn’t mind at all. Because when I run it is just me, my two feet and the ground in front of me. Not much else matters. For that one hour, I am free, I am outside. And sometimes, on a good day, I am flying.

And that’s all I need. Well, that and chocolate.

Feb 9 2010

let me fix you a cup

I love tea. I don’t think I could start my day without it. Well of course I could, but it would be ugly.

It isn’t just the tea I love, but also the ritual of it. It is calming each morning to go through the motions of a ritual that has become part of who I am. It grounds me.

And I love my old Fire King and Russell Wright tea cups that are the perfect size, the perfect weight, for the perfect cup of tea. They just feel right in my hand. It is amazing how attached we can get to things. Things like a tea cup.

The things I get most attached to seem to fall into the antique/vintage category. (Except for my Blackberry which has recently attached itself to me like an appendage.) But I fall in love with tea cups. Old tools. Watering cans. Things that have been used over and over again and lived to tell the tale.

Of course they don’t tell us their tale, we have to make one up for them, but that is part of the fun. I love to wander into a booth in an antique shop that is filled with nothing but tools. All so well worn, but still so useful. I love trying to figure out what they were used for. I recently bought an old wrench with a curved handle. I fell in love with it. I don’t know why, but I had to have it. And I will use it. Most of the tools I own were passed down to me by my father and some were his father’s. I still use my dad’s old hammer even though the handle is ready to split. But these tools have character. They have been used to fix things for decades. I like that.

We don’t fix things any more. When they break we throw them away. It’s not entirely our fault, that’s the way things are made these days, but it makes me a little sad. When our kids, our grandchildren grow up, what will they find in antique stores? My Blackberry? Or my Jadeite Fire King tea cup? Or that wrench I just purchased? Are we missing something? Our ability to pass things down to future generations?

Just think, in a hundred years someone else could be sipping tea from this very same cup.

Unless, of course, someone breaks it.