As I'm unpacking (or not), I've been considering the things we move. As prior military, we moved more than our fair share, in fact so much that moving time became purge time, but as I've left my military roots, I've held on to things (or maybe it's because I now have kids…). At any rate, some of the random things we move listed below. I'm not saying they're the most important, or even necessary, but we move them just the same.
Hair stuff. I am appalled by the sheer volume of volumizers, defrizzers, and hair serums we accumulate. The girl child and I have curly hair, so we are constantly on the lookout for the "perfect" hair product. I just organized the linen closet and gathered it all in one place. It's an advertisement for what not to buy. The mousse we have for volume will never work with curly hair, the "beach hair" spray is as tacky as semi-dry salt water, and the ten dollar hair spray is clogged and won't spray, but they're all still there because they cost a small fortune and there's always that "what if it works" question that keeps it in the bin over years and years.
Smelly stuff. Next to the newly organized bin of hair stuff is a bin of stuff that smells good (or it did at one time). There are body washes, lotions and potions, powders and sprays, that over time we "had to have." Now they sit in a bin in the dark cabinet, turning sour faster than bad wine in an uncorked bottle.
Dusty stuff. Packing at 2 a.m. was not the most productive time of day, and in the end, all the plans and schemes to pre-clean and pre-purge before the move fell by the wayside. Nothing got purged (see items 1 and 2) and nothing got cleaned. Or organized. There is dust on nearly every item I unpack, as if the new house won't have enough so I need to import it.
Memories and stuff. I'm a firm believer in purging, so I do not under any circumstances want to move stuff with toxic memories, but the whole packing at 2 a.m. thing meant that a few things made it through the "I never want to see that again" filter. If you ever look at something and think only of the (negative) person who gave it to you, get rid of it. Donate it. It's the circle of life. Someone will find it and love it and use it, thus building good kharma for both of you.
Too much stuff. The garage is lined with stuff that won't fit into the house. I'm parking on the street and have to scrape the ice off the windows in the morning. Maybe it's time for a garage sale.
Last summer, driving around the state of Colorado for my Travel Writing class and for my own psyche, I heard the song Home by Phillip Phillips
for the first time, and the lyrics hit me in a vulnerable spot, because part of the reason I was tracing my early life steps through the state of Colorado was to find my place in the places I had been before. "Settle down," the song admonished, "It'll all be clear. Don't pay no mind to the demons, they fill you with fear."
It was laughable, really, because I had been living off fear and Diet Coke for months, and the demons had taken up residence in the hope sector of my brain, and while it was laughable (if one enjoys irony with an extra dose of cynicism), the song brought unwanted tears to my eyes. I had been searching for home since I came back to Colorado and I hadn't found it yet. It felt like an eternity of wandering and the song felt like a promise between me and whatever deity I chose to acknowledge in my hopelessness, but let me tell you, the payoff of that moment was too damned long in the making.
In fact, it was nearly two years and untold tragedies between the first rendition of the song and the actuality of a new home, so moving during the full moon felt like a fulfillment of that long-ago promise. The first time I stood in our new home, after an hour of signing paperwork, it didn't feel like home. It didn't feel like ours. It didn't feel real.
Even now, a week and a half later, with our paint colors on the wall and our labor in repairs, it still doesn't feel real, but it's beginning to feel like home. And it has always, from the first night (sleeping on a mattress on the floor with just a single blanket and pillow) felt safe.
The concept of home is a funny thing. It's not about ownership and it's not about sweat equity, and much to my surprise, it's not even about the place. It's a feeling deep in your soul and the people who put that feeling there. My home is my children, the rest is just really nice decoration.
Where is your home?
Convergence has several definitions
, my favorite "to move toward one point and join together." I like this definition because it provides such a great visual for my life at the moment, several divergent possibilities converging on a single point (aka my life). For a long time, I've been moving forward without knowing when or if things were going to come together, I just lived in the hope that they would. Now, I'm seeing progress on multiple fronts (and it's exhausting).
On Valentine's Day, we moved the first of our belongings to the new house. OUR new house. It hadn't registered until we were driving the 2.2 miles from the old house to the new that we were moving on the full moon. It was like a hidden blessing as I made the repeated trek later and later into the night, to look up and see the full moon shining her blessing on our new venture.The full moon blessing comes in the midst of complete and utter chaos.
We have been without Internet for a week (oh, the horror); I had to arrange to move the stuff (oh, thank heavens for good friends); clean the old house and the new house; arrange for garbage pickup in both locations while trying to keep us in clean clothes despite the fact that the washing machine hose needs a new rubber washer (the old one having been lost between here and there) and the dryer needs a new vent and a new plug, because the new house has a four-prong outlet instead of three; the garbage company will take the sofa the dog chewed to sawdust but won't take the pink princess TV because of some regulations that require we store it in our basement until the laws governing landfills change, and speaking of the dog (the one who chewed the sofa), he won't go out without a human escort because he's secretly convinced the previous dog-occupant will come back while he's out there alone; and then there's the gas line that had to be removed thanks to the faulty gas stove; and the guy delivering the new stove is sexist (according to the 12-year-old boy child), because the delivery guy stated that my "husband or whoever" would be installing the anti-tip device, because obviously a single woman can't do that!), and … and… and…
It's not just the move. I have school to finish this 8-week semester (one week to go), and despite finishing my class observations, I still have two textbooks to read, two major papers to write, and several mock papers to grade.
I have revisions for my novel that I need to get back to an editor--hopefully my future editor--and they're getting lost in the manic, fast-paced forward momentum of my life!(Here's the part where I take a deep breathe and attempt to meditate).
A convergence is where several distinct and separate lines merge. Or, if it were a Hollywood movie, a convergence is a train wreck with one or more trains on the same track. Right now, my life feels like a train wreck, but I know that these lines merging are a good thing. The start of the year opened a flood-gate of GOOD into our lives, and even though it feels crazy, it's a good crazy, and we haven't had that for awhile.
All of us face times of convergence, when the different lines of our lives begin to merge. It's stressful (the people at M&M Mars can thank me for their first quarter bonuses), no doubt about it, but it's all good.
And whatever *isn't* good, I'm feeding to the dog. He'll eat anything (except the pink TV).
I am not a risk taker. If I had a financial advisor (which I do not), he or she would know that I am a risk-averse personality. I do not fly to Vegas for a long weekend or play the Lotto or participate in any other risky behavior.
When I joined the Air Force, on the last day of training, our TI (a politically correct name for drill sergeant) allowed us to ask any questions about our future life in the Air Force. I could not tell you a single thing that woman said that day (or any other, really), but I do remember that on the last day of training, after six weeks of group immersion, one girl stood up in her shirt sleeves (translation, she was in her t-shirt, but didn't have her Camo shirt with her name patch on it), and before she got to the question, the TI asked her name.
That's all I heard. I don't remember the question, because I was still caught up on the TI's response. "What's your name, Airman?"
After six weeks of every single day training and working together, she was still nameless. That was my goal. I wanted to float through training. Get by without being singled-out.
I was not so lucky. Day two, I was a Squad Leader. That's not the kind of thing you escape and much to my regret, the TI did know my name. I can still hear her shrill voice yelling "Airman Skaggs" from the relative comfort of her tiny dorm office. And here this girl stands up on day 42 and she is still an unknown.
Damn, she was living my life.
Fast forward 20+ years. I am still risk averse, but I am pursing my writing, which isn't exactly a career with benefits and a retirement plan. Some might call that risky business. Added to that, and contrary to that day in Basic Training, I do want people to know my name… I just don't always know how to get there.
And that's how you get to be a horn player in New York.
During a Q&A session with Billy Joel at Vanderbilt University, a young man stood up and asked if he could accompany Billy Joel on the song "New York State of Mind." The gasps are audible. It's almost like the collective group is waiting for this kid to get smacked down for his audacity. Billy Joel lets the gasps go a few seconds, shrugs and says, "Okay."
And just like that, the next five minutes of this musician's life are an Internet sensation. He gets his fifteen minutes of fame doing the rounds o the morning talk shows, but that's all just gravy, because what he really got was an amazing opportunity to jam with Billy Joel.
The piano player did not go into this unprepared. He was willing to play in any key that Billy Joel wanted. Do you think that doesn't come without hours and hours of practice? But his sessions didn't end with practice. They ended up with Billy Joel because the student was audacious enough to ask. When it was all over, Billy Joel said, "He's got chops," which would have made any young pianists day, to which Joel added,
I posted elsewhere that I've been having a great week and I'm going to be a tease and say I can't tell you why. Not yet, anyway. I'm superstitious enough to wait until I have something concrete, but there are a few concrete things that have contributed to greatness, not just a gorgeous full moon and being out and aware and seeing the moon rise, and spending time with my kids, and, and, and….
I'm just happy.
It must show because someone I know (but not well) came up to me out of the blue and quietly said, "You are so beautiful," and moved on. It was a married women, so no, not a flirtation, just a compliment that made my day. Until…
Another women who had not heard the first exchange said, loudly from across the room. "Oh, you're wearing that shirt. It looks so good on you."
And suddenly, the evil internal critic went, "well you can't look that good. What's the ulterior motive?"
And I began to dissect the exchanges. When a third person said I looked thin, I'd about reached my graciousness quota. I wanted to say, "Girl, please!" but stopped myself.
Why do women have such a hard time accepting compliments?
So I did two things. First, I showed compassion for myself and accepted the compliments as I would want someone to accept them from me. Second, I spent a lot of time on the Internet, posting stuff on Facebook about women and beauty and self-image.
Show yourself some compassion and watch and listen.
Show compassion to others and give them a sincere compliment. It will make their day!
Being kind to ourselves is easier in theory than fact, and requires a complete reworking of the way we think. It's so much easier to stick with the status quo and let our inner critic beat the heck out of us. But we certainly wouldn't let our inner critic beat the heck out of our friends and loved ones!
The other day, an older relative called to talk. When he asked what I had planned for the next week, I mentioned that I was studying for school and didn't have much spare time. He quickly got off the phone. I immediately got back to reading the textbook, but this niggling thought wouldn't get out of my head. Did he think I meant that I didn't have time for him?
The truth is, I really don't have time to talk. I'm no longer burning the candle at both ends, I've thrown it in the simmering pot and am letting myself melt into the many requirements of my life: School, homeschool, writing, working out, eating better, and a few other "spare" projects that I'll talk about soon. Heck, I haven't put up my Christmas decorations (and my poor son asked if we could please have them put away by his birthday).
I'm behind on my reading (and the semester just started!) and I wanted to be relieved that the phone call was short, but I wasn't.
Love is not just something we say (for most of us), it's what we do. Love is how we behave and treat others. Love can be expressed explicitly, such as the phrase "I love ______", but more often, love is expressed through an action, such as putting gas in the car, mowing the lawn, or taking the dog out in the morning (and I really need more of that kind of love).
The same cannot be said for fearlessness.
Which leads to my biggest mea culpa of 2013. When I said 2013 was the Year of Living Fearlessly, I didn't realize that fearlessness isn't an action verb. One cannot say, "I fearless ____________", because that makes absolutely no sense. At best, one can say one will accomplish a certain action (writing for example) without fear. A noble, if inaccurate goal, and yet the qualifier without implies a lack of action, and that wasn't what I had in mind at all.
I wanted action. I wanted to be fearless (even if it isn't an action word).
John Wayne said:
Christmas future is far away
Christmas past is past
Christmas present is here today
Bringing joy that may last
Have yourself a merry little Christmas
May your heart be light
In a year our troubles will be
Out of sight from now on
Have yourself a merry little Christmas
Make the Yuletide gay
In a year our troubles will be miles away
Here we are as in olden days
Happy golden days of yore
Precious friends who are dear to us
Gather near to us once more
I know that in a year we all
Will be together if the fates allow
Until then, we'll just have to muddle through somehow
Have ourselves a merry little Christmas now
'Cause every body knows
Lord, it's like a hard candy Christmas, I'm barely getting through tomorrow, but still I won't let sorrow bring me way down.
Like writing, reading can become an obsession (yes, I know, that's not very balanced of me). So when the end of my month of manic writing ended, I went to the library and loaded up on books. I have a total of 29 books checked out, and even when you subtract out school books for the kids, that's still a ridiculous amount that are all mine. To read in three weeks (right....).
They accumulate around my bed and on my chaise lounge in my bedroom like dust bunnies. And they're not stacked neatly like the picture to the left. They are haphazard. They are everywhere, mixed with my stash of books until there's nowhere to sit but on the bed.
So, without further ado, here's a list of current library books, in no particular order (just as I discover them). If they have an asterisk next to them, that means I've actually started reading them. :)
The Christmas Shoppe by Melody Carlson*
Single Women of a Certain Age edited by Jane Ganahl*
The Lightening Thief by Rick Riordan*
The Good Energy Book by Tess Whitehurst
The Best Spiritual Writing of 2011 edited by Philip Zaleski
Yoga International (magazine) Spring 2013
Yoga Journal (magazine) August 2013
High Tide in Tucson by Barbara Kingsolver*
Growing Up Dead in Texas by Stephen Graham Jones*
Simon Says by Kathryn Eastburn*
Wired for Story by Lisa Cron*
The Storytelling Animal by Jonathan Gottschall
In Style (magazine) November 2013
The Cottage at Glass Beach by Heather Barbieri
The Alchemist by Paolo Bacigalupi
Great Aunt Sophia's Lessons for Bombshells by Lisa Cache
Self-Compassion by Kristin Neff
So, you'd think with all of this, I could find something to read on a cold, snowy morning....