25 (ish) Random Things About Me

In an effort to revive this blog, I’m in a blog writing course. Assignment number one, 25 random things about me:

  1. My feet are usually dirty. (Perhaps this is not the best lede.) I love heels, and I need running shoes, but barefoot is my first preference…I love to feel the grass, the ground, the squeaky clean beach sand under my feet.
  2. The first car I ever drove was my brother’s Porsche 911. He lived out of state and believed me when I said I could drive…for a moment. My dad’s Honda had a stick shift, so that’s what I eventually really learned to drive on. When friends were having a bad day, I’d try to teach them to drive a stick – it always ended with laughter. My dad was a much better teacher than I was.
  3. Bacon may be the sole reason I’ll never be a vegetarian. Thick and crispy, please.
  4. I only like my coffee hot, and caffeinated.
  5. When I was in elementary school I wanted to be a hobo when I grew up.  It just slightly edged out mermaid after multiple trips to Weeki-Wachee.
  6. It seems I’ve been treating my love life like the clutter in my spare room – I close the door and pretend it doesn’t exist.
  7. I lose things every day – my pen, earrings, stamps for the card I need to mail, chargers, the coupon I meant to use; but rarely people. People I weave closely into the tapestry of my life…they are scattered across the country, but near and dear to my heart. One friendship began when we were three years old. Through all our life changes, we’re still here.
  8. I had a wake for my dog after he died. There was beer, wine, and cornhole. Everyone got a button with his picture, and it read “Friend of Harry/What Would Harry Do?” Harry would’ve loved it.
  9. Some people need consistency. I need change. I need adventures, even if they’re just mini-ones. New sights, new sounds – they keep my senses awake, they keep my spirit alive. And I need to be better about creating them.
  10. One of my favorite places to be is an empty stadium or ballpark. Either on on a off day with no games, or on a gameday before the doors open. The bleachers hold memories, and the air holds possibility. And then when the workers arrive and the doors open, it’s like the building wakes up.
  11. I broke my arm in two places on the last day of a wellness retreat. And since we were in a remote town in Nicaragua, I flew home with it in a sling and finally saw a doctor about 36 hours after the breaks. Man, that hurt.
  12. I talk to things — inanimate objects (car keys, present yourself!), plants, bugs that find themselves lost in my home, squirrels and birds along the dog walk. It’s only slightly embarrassing when I don’t see someone first who hears me.
  13. I’ve been to two Olympic games. Both Summer – one in Sydney, Australia and one in Athens, Greece. They are my favorite sporting events to date, but so much more. The mix of nationalities lights me up. I dearly loved navigating my way to venues along with other lost people from around the world.
  14. I have two brothers, two nephews, three “bonus nephews,” two great nephews and one niece. I’m much better at boy presents.
  15. After my father died, I asked for a sign from him. After leaving church one Sunday, a dragonfly hovered at my eye level above my car as I opened the door to get in, and we just looked at each other. Then a few months later, after a particularly rough day, I was walking the dog and a dragonfly landed on my chest, right at my heart. Magical.
  16. While I can embrace other people’s messiness and shortcomings, I tend to overthink so many things in my life.  I want whatever I offer to be perfect, or nothing at all. In an effort to break that habit, I’m still posting this list – 9 items short of the assigned 25. Thanks for reading.

 

A Prayer for Summer

IMG_4720Have you ever read Ellen Bass’ poem Pray for Peace?  If not, please click and enjoy.  It inspired today’s post, first drafted in May, but seemingly more apropos on this first day of summer.  But this Summer Solstice seems different.  Surely it must be, with wails of crying children echoing across the land; yet another reminder that the divide between human beings walking the earth is vast and wide.

‘What is mine to do?’ It’s a question I seem to ask myself daily.  Children, scared and crying.  Frantic parents separated from their children, unknowing how they are, where they are.  I have called my senators and donated to a reputable fund.  Policies are changing, though so many lives have already been affected. Thoughts and prayers can sometimes be lip service, but I still believe in their power.

And I still believe that we are all more alike than different.  At least in desires: to love and be loved, to be free, to feed our families, to know good health, to laugh, to dream and to live out those dreams.

In the church I belong to, we pray affirmatively – believing that the solution exists before the question is even asked.  And that which we focus on, we attract more of.

So, I offer this prayer, believing in the rights for all people to experience goodness – knowing it for all of us.  Knowing we can find a better, common way.

Namaste,
Lynne

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Pray for me.  Pray for you.
Pray for freedom and common sense,
To be seen, to be heard, and for a better today than yesterday.
Pray for clean water, safety and a bed to sleep in, off the floor.
Pray for reunion and healing.

But remember to pray for silliness, too.  For puppy breath and tacos.
For ice cream and messy faces.  For squeals of laughter.
For cool spring-fed swimming holes and the stately Great Blue Heron.

Pray for sunset to match the sunrise.
And for all the drivers vying for space and time on I-4.
Pray for the ears of the construction workers listening to the incessantly high-pitched pounding.

Pray for safe travels, and whiskers.  For cashews and apples.
Pray for organic greens, and the farmers who get it done without pesticides.
Pray for romance and waffles, sometimes with chicken.
Pray for cities with song, like New Orleans and Nashville and Memphis.
Pray for old homes with good bones, and the ones that see their potential – like a fortune teller seeing into the future.

Pray for old friends, comfy like well-worn slippers.
Pray for new friends, bright like a new outfit on the first day of school.
Pray for strangers, and look for the angels among us.

Pray for money, and all the good you’ll do with it.
Pray for light in the room, in the world, and in your mind.
Pray to let go, and all that you let go of, blessing whatever it brought into your life.
Pray for candlelight, soft music and tender turns on the kitchen’s dance floor.
Pray for deep sleep with great dream adventures – the kind where you soar to new lands.

Bless colors, like orange, deep purple and turquoise green.
Give deep bows for yoga and stretching, and all that works itself out of your body and soul as you practice.

Praise strawberries and peaches.
Worship the sound of the surf rolling into the shore.
Take communion in the buffet line and at the table, licking fingers and savoring juicy flavors rolling past your tongue.

Savor skin, sun-drenched and stretched tight by time immersed in salty water.
Commune with the itty-bitty fishes nibbling on your ankles, the crab scurrying along the sand, the flock of sandpipers swaying here and there.
Let the wind whip your hair, close your eyes and listen.

Rejoice for this is life – messy, sacred, succulent, marvelous;
heartbreaking, worry-infused, and showing up in you, as you, day after day.
In her, in him, in me.
Praise be.

Pray, for us all.

Who Do You Trust?

“Write down the names of 10 people you trust, and none of them can be family.” Those were the instructions in a recent meeting of a leadership group I’m in. And immediately my hyper-analytical mind went into overdrive.

‘What kind of trust? With a vulnerable story? With my animals? With my healthcare? As a spiritual teacher? With accurate world news? With career advice? With my finances? With important details at work? With my heart?

‘Someone to come with bail money if I need it? Someone to tell me the truth…about myself…about themselves? To borrow my car? To call if I need to borrow theirs? Someone to take me to the ER if I need to go? Or someone to come to the ER if I end up there?’

I’ve filled out a lot of medical forms recently – ones that require listing an Emergency Contact. As a single person with no current partner and no living parents, it’s always a quandary. I have an older brother that lives locally, so he’d be the natural choice. But you know…he’s busy, he travels a lot, etc.. Yes, if I’m at the end of life, I’d want him to be there, telling me jokes and recollecting old memories. But if I’m a bit banged up in the ER, no need to bother him. He wouldn’t call me – he’d call his wife. That’s the baggage I carry here – that other people have someone built-in to call. That I don’t. That I “should.” Ouch.

No, I don’t have one single person – but you know, I have a village. Because that’s what Life does, when we let it. It shows up and fills in.

To share a tough day with, over happy hour cocktails and apps there’s Kathy; to invite me on a trip when I found out an old boyfriend was getting married – Kristi; to take care of my furry children – Marcia; to supplement my good doctors’ care – Prem; for great spiritual counsel and growth – Cath & John; to help me get and stay unstuck – Lezlie and all the gals in our Accountability Group; for a weekly prayer partner – Lisa; to guide my finances – Brian; to handle my dad’s estate- Jay; to help finish my shows well – Dew, Max and Troy; to call with life’s ups and downs – Bets, Sherri, and Tammy.

And to show up in my driveway at 5:15am to drive me to an outpatient surgery center, wait with me, talk to the doctor for post-op info. while I was still zonked out, AND bring me breakfast and lunch as I waited on the anesthesia to wear off – sweet Sally. Nurturing and caring, without being too intrusive. Care and space – what a wonderful combination.

We’ve been friends for 30+ years, and she has showed up for me more times than I can count. Our lives are very different. We didn’t vote for the same person in that last presidential election. Even our faiths are a bit different. But there is a baseline of love and care underneath all of that. Genuine affection. A seeing of each other – as people. The messy humans that we are today, and that we will try to be better than tomorrow. Someone that we can each trust. I’d done the same for her once, and she is married. Her husband was out of town, her children busy with their young children.

I’m ready for ‘my person’ to show up, and for me to show up for him. But until then, and even after then, I so appreciate how Life has showed up for me in the form of all these beautiful helpers.

And I am especially grateful for learning to trust myself. The majority of these connections can be traced back to following my intuition – to join a group or a church, to take a certain job, to ask for help, to accept another’s offer for help, even just to stay in touch.

And this year has brought even more – I trusted the instinct to go to Mexico for a workshop with no one I knew, and Life provided a group of like-minded souls there that I’m staying in touch with. I trusted a could buy a new camera and learn how to use it on the trip, and Life provided me with a professional photographer for a roommate.

This is what Life does. You crack the door and the light pours in. You take a step and the ground appears. If you think back in your life, I’m sure you see it, too.

So, tell me, who do you trust?

All the Keys Open All the Doors

I went to San Miguel looking for answers.  Direction, really.  A jumping off, or into, point for the next chapter of my creative expression.

Would it be writing? IF so, what? How? Where?

Or maybe photography? I have a decent eye, but could I master the technology?

Drawn by the colors of the buildings and the streets, the photo of Andrea on the winged chair; the email said two spots remained for the workshop, and I claimed one.

Thirteen adventurous women and one brave man joined our leaders, Andrea & Laurie, for the adventure.  We claimed all the rooms in the colorful Casa Carly hotel, ate breakfast, lunch and dinner together, explored the city in photo walks, relaxed in a lithium hot spring, and wrote.

The photography was easier every day, as I learned each new lens for my just out-of-the-box camera.

The writing – much harder.

So hard to get out of my head.  To stop self-editing, to keep the pen moving, to say something real. To dive deep with the prompts:

It doesn’t have to be beautiful.

Write as poorly as possible.

Almost everything amazed me.

This is what Life does.

This is what I want you to know.

If they chop open my body.

Permission granted.

We wrote and we shared.  With every line read by someone else, the voices inside me grew louder. ‘SO good.’ ‘Ooh – honest.’ ‘So VISUAL!’  Until it was all just a buzz in my head, and I was once again floating outside my body.  I could only see how far I was from where they were, how far I had to go.  In comparing myself with everyone else, I lost whatever truth wanted to come out through me.

“What I really want you to know is vastly different from what I’m willing to let you know. A chasm exists between the two.”

Those were the most honest lines I wrote last week.

They applied to the group, and to many other parts of my life.  How I show up with colleagues, with friends, with family, and in love. I’ve known that many times I don’t feel safe to be seen, to be visible. That the neglected and criticized little girl inside me grabs the reins and runs away if I let her.

I’ve heard it said that we love ourselves the way we were loved; and others reflect back to us how we love ourselves.  If we change the way we love ourselves, we change the story of our lives.

Casa Carly had many unique qualities.  One we learned mid-week.  Each room had been given only one set of keys, despite two, three or even four occupants.  ‘Could we get more keys,?’ came the question.  There was, in fact limited quantity…but, here was the secret: All of the keys opened all of the doors.  As long as you found anyone with a key, you had access to your room.

I didn’t find the clear, concrete direction for my next chapter of creative expression.  But I found a reflection of where I am now, and the knowledge of where I can go. It’s a practice, it’s a process and it’s real work.  To write well, to live well.

It’s up to me to make the choice to go there.  I’ve got a key to every door.

If I Had a Blog

Last Thursday evening the Accountability group I’m a member of met to discuss the book we’d been reading, “The Obstacle is the Way.”  Each member of the group has a goal that we’re each desiring to accomplish by the end of the program in April, and naturally we’ve all encountered obstacles.

For me, the last week had felt less like an encounter and more like I was sucked up and spit out by my obstacles.  Distraction after distraction had snapped up my focus, my energy and my time. As others shared about significant, concrete events that had gotten in their way, I wondered if I was the only one falling prey to something as silly and seemingly inconsequential as distraction.  Finally, as the meeting was winding down, I offhandedly brought my obstacle up:  Distractions – ugh!

Our fearless leader/coach/Mama Gazelle cut to the heart of the matter:  Do you know what’s behind it?  Yes, I said – Fear.  I know it, and I see it as my obstacle, something I just have to get through…and I come to the edge, but I can’t seem to make myself jump.

Have you ever gotten quiet and sat with it, she said?

Why, yes.  Yes, I have.

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It had to be either late 1997 or early 1998.

I was 33 years old and living in Lawrence, KS, working in a job I hated, and wasn’t even good at.  Ready for something more, desperate to move on, searching for a purpose.  What was mine to do?

I don’t even have to close my eyes to see the light in my apartment that afternoon, when I pleaded with God/Spirit/Life for direction, for guidance….and I heard the voice say, “Write.”

It was so loud that at first I thought there was someone else in the room.  So loud, so clear. Startling.

As my 53 year-old self sat on the couch last week, remembering, I realized I’ve spent the last 20(!) years looking the other way. Ignoring…pretending…forgetting.

Ugh.

Oh, I dabbled in writing — in writers’ groups, in workshops, did some freelance work, had a poem published and wrote scripts at work.  And journaling had saved my emotional life time and time again as I worked so many life events on the page.

But the minute anything got hard, or criticism came, I abandoned ship.  I wrapped that edict up tight, like it was stolen, and tucked it deep inside my heart.  Outwardly, I changed the subject and quickly moved on.

After last week’s meeting, all the running and avoiding and abandoning came flooding back.  Waves of regret.  A tsunami.

How does one ask for a mission, and then turn one’s back on it for two decades?!

Of all the aspects of myself, why is being a writer so hard to accept, so hard to take seriously? What am I so afraid of?

Failing.  That’s crystal clear as well.

I’ve tried to pretend that not trying is better than trying and failing.  But we all know what a cop-out that is.  It’s the person who is in the fight who matters, as Teddy Roosevelt so famously said — “who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

Our fearless leader/coach/Mama Gazelle often reminds us to think about our 80 year-old selves when it comes to decisions.  Would mine want to look back on a ‘cold and timid’ life – hell, no.  As I left the meeting that night and walked to my car, I muttered out loud that I just need to “grow a pair.”  Misogynistic, at best. But clearly it is time – past time!

Enough ignoring, waiting, over analyzing.  Enough staying safe and small.  And enough breaking promises to myself.  Because that’s really what’s going on here.  I’m disconnecting from the essence of who I really am:  a writer.  And aren’t the promises we break to ourselves the worst violations of all?   Would we let someone else trample on our hopes and dreams the way we do when we just give upon ourselves? If we won’t believe in and honor who we are, how and why should anyone else?

What does all this mean?  Where do I start?  What does it look like?  And perhaps most importantly, how and where do I get the support so that when the going gets tough this time, I don’t duck and run again. How do instead I work, get better and hone a craft.  How do I write, like it matters….like I matter?

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Are there any parts of yourself that you’ve abandoned along the way in this life?  Any clear messages you’ve ignored?  Any small ways you turn your back on what you know you know in the day-to-day?  How, and why?  I’d love to know.