Thursday, September 30, 2010

B Is For: Bicycles And Big Buts

I owe a big thanks to Mrs. Matlock of Off On My Tangent. Oh, you don't know her? Well you should. She is a lovely, albeit somewhat strict, anytime blogger and part time schoolmarm. If it were not for her weekly homework assignments I believe my blogging would be sporadic as of late. Today's assignment? The letter "B". And thank goodness because it gives me the chance to finally sit down and write about a recent experience.
If anyone read this post at the beginning of the year then perhaps, just perhaps, you have wondered how it turned out. If you did not read it and do not intend to, I spoke about the difficulty that I have with breaking out of my box. And in order to help force myself out of that box I decided to do something daring in honor of my 40th birthday. Specifically, a century bike ride. I chose to do the 100km. Sixty five bum bustin', leg burnin', sweat breakin' miles. And I did it. And except for the 20 mph winds for the last 30 miles it wasn't all that hard. Next year Hunky Hubby says we are doing the 100 miler route. I say "Bring it on!", which if you know me is not something I say very often. You see...I am the queen of big buts.
You know...
I would try the ride... BUT.
I wish I could do this...BUT.
I would love to try that...BUT.
I could be all that and a bag of chips...BUT.
I dream of_______...BUT.
That is a lot of big buts. I am kinda tired of walking around dragging all those big buts behind me. Now, this is not to say that I do not love my life. I totally do. I have amazing kids and a Hunky Hubby that I cannot get enough of, and we live a great life full of love and books and movies and art and nature and fun, but I have always played it safe. I read something recently that I wrote a year or so ago. A question to myself in my journal. "Will I ever do something truly daring?" This ride for me was daring. It required believing that I could do something that I did not know whether or not I could do. I never, let me repeat, never do anything that I do not absolutely know I can do. Especially in public. Safe.
So many of my posts over the last 2+ years have been about my desire to get out and live, oh I don't know, to live...more, I guess. Live more, love more, pray more, try more, be more. Not worry so much about getting hurt, or looking stupid, or shhhhh....failing. Firstborn syndrome I suppose, but that is a chat for another day. More. Yep that is it. Of course as a simplicity freak, I am going to have to learn to be more with less. Ah ha! Sounds like at least a couple more posts. Life is good.
Quote of the Day: "Life loves to be taken by the lapel and told: "I am with you kid. Let's go." ~Maya Angelou

Thursday, September 23, 2010

A Is For: Autumnal Ruminations

Today at AlphabeThursday the letter is A. Here in beautiful Idaho, the seasons they are a changin'. It is officially the first day of AUTUMN. I love autumn. It is likely my favorite season. I am a bit sad though to say goodbye to summer. Those lazy, hazy crazy days of summer. Sunshine, fresh fruits and veggies, picnics, parks, playing in the water, breezy skirts and flip flops. (I love my flip flops.) I go into the garden and pick fresh raspberries for breakfast. I lie on my back in the grass and stare up into that endless blue sky. I read in the shade of the patio while the kids run through the sprinkler and dash across the lawn headed for that iconic summer contraption, the "slip'n'slide" wishing that the season would last forever. (And secretly wishing that they would stay my little ones forever as well.) Yet as the kids finish their fourth week of school, and I see the leaves beginning to turn and the temperatures fall, I know that another summer has come and gone. Did I appreciate it while it was here? I sure tried to, yet it seems gone too soon still. I feel that way too as I watch my four kids grow up right before my eyes. Do I appreciate each stage for its own wonder and excitement? I am trying to, yet the years too, seem gone all to soon still.
Before I fall off my chair and roll up into a soggy mom-ball of tears, I had better move on to autumn. I do love autumn. The air smells crispy. It is clear and cool. Just as the summer flowers lose their color, the trees begin to change and a whole new pallette is arranged. I just love the way it feels, and the sunsets are spectacular! It is time to don cardigans, scarves and cute hats to crunch the leaves on the sidewalk during my afternoon walks. I relinquish the barbecue for the big soup pot. Fall is the time to enjoy a giant batch of chili with a big, crusty loaf of sourdough...Yummm! The pumpkins in the garden are getting plump and I know that trick-or-treating is just around the corner. (I DO love to dress up.) I used to rush the passing of the seasons and celebrate each milestone in the kids' lives with a mad desire to see how it was all going to play out in the end. Now, though I just wish it would all slow down. I don't want it to stop, of course. I love seeing my kids grow and learn and develop into their own little people. They really are cool. I don't really want summer to last forever, nor fall either. It just goes so dang fast! So, I say, let's slow down.
The changing of the seasons really gives us the opportunity to reconnect with the earth and with nature. Go to the farmers market and see what is fresh this week. Taste the difference in food that is really ripe. Take a drive, or even a walk, and see all of the changes in the trees and flowers. Smell the air. Take advantage of all of it. Perhaps in your area Autumn lasts a while longer, but I know that here, winter is just around the corner. I will relish that when it comes too (only through March though), but for now I am love love lovin' Autumn! Although, I'm not putting a way those flip flops just yet...
Quote of the Day: "Delicious autumn! My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking the successive autumns."
~George Eliot author

Friday, September 17, 2010

To Blog Or Not To Blog...What A Question?!

Fifth and Final Day of The SITS Blogging Project. Ugh...I have always hated finals! So, today's final?
Challenge #5
(Write about what blogging means to you. Why do you blog? What purpose does it serve you and how have you benefited from sharing a piece of yourself online this way?)
What an odd phenomenon is the blog world. Who are we to think that we have anything to say that anyone would want to hear? Most of the time, I doubt that my own family (i.e. those obligated by blood or marriage to at least pretend to be interested) particularly cares what I have to rant or ramble about. Are we truly a narcissistic society, so caught up in our own opinions and postulations as to believe that others would want to read them, to the tune of thousands of bloggers, publishing thousands upon thousands of posts each week? Clearly, yes, we are. BUT truth be told...I love it! I have always loved discussing, debating, deliberating, conversing, examining, exploring, analyzing and connecting with people. This is a new medium that is all.
I am not so delusional as to think that I ever say anything earth-shattering or even compelling in any way. Most of the time poignant is even beyond my reach, but I do hope to share. Share a little piece of me. This is something that I am actually not particularly good at. Sharing I mean. Well, feelings that is. Toys? Sure. My Halloween candy (except Snickers)? Of course. Clothes, money, friends, recipes, time, talents...anything...but feelings? Uh, No.
I am, by nature, rather private. I am friendly and some would call me outgoing even, but I keep my deepest feelings exactly that...deep. Always have. But I love to write. Always have. I started a journal in the 7th grade. She became my best friend. I "talked" to her at least once a day for the next ten years until I got married. I do not know why I stopped writing everyday. I guess it seemed childish for a grown, married mother to write to an imaginary friend. Hmph! Even saying that makes me sad. Why did I think growing up meant letting go of my imagination?
Truth be told though. It was a piece of me that was important. The writing. I don't make any judgements about whether this is something I am good at or not. It does not really matter. It is a part of who I am. It is a part of what makes me, me. I write. I lost that for so many years. I missed it, but I let it go because...well, I don't know why. But I did.
This blog has, for the last couple of years, given that back to me. All my lovely imaginary friends. A place to share a thought, a feeling, an idea. I don't know who all reads. I usually cannot figure out why anyone does, but I appreciate the place to be me.
I also love the sneak peek into the daily (even if mundane) lives of friends and family. Do I think that it would be better for us to bind these ties face to face? Yes, but that is not the reality of the times we are living in. I live 100's of miles from my "hometown". Also true of my college home. My friends and family are spread literally from border to border and from sea to shining sea. We have, however, this place to converge, to rally, to reunite, to associate, to mingle, to share, to connect and reconnect. So, while there may not always be a lot to say, keep saying it. This is what we talk about around the water cooler now. Real people, real lives. Ordinary and humdrum at times. Remarkable and Amazing at others. Blogging is journalism, poetry, prose, expression, conversation, news and stories. It is whatever you want it to be. So, I say...Blog On!
Quote of the Day: "In everyone's life, at some time, our inner fire goes out. It is then burst into flame by an encounter with another human being. We should all be thankful for those people who rekindle the inner spirit."
~Albert Schweitzer physician and philosopher

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Biography Of A Woman

Four, day, two, three, four...Day four. Still participating in the Event. Today's challenge...dun dunt dunt duh...
Challenge #4
(Write a new post about a woman who inspires you.)
I actually do not know where to start. There are dozens. Women in the scriptures, public figures, family and friends, fellow bloggers. Countless women who have inspired me in countless ways. But I narrowed it down to one.
This woman speaks to me. Inspires me to be the best I can be, even though most days I feel like I fall helplessly short of her expectations, somehow the next day, there she is, pushing me to be better and to try harder. Kicking me in the butt and urging me to pick myself up by my proverbial bootstraps and give it one more shot! She is kinda bossy. I can say that because I know she will not read this for quite a while. There are days when I feel her disapproval, but for the most part I think she thinks I can make more of my life than I think I can.
She dreams big. She has faith that somehow things will work out if we can just take the first step. She is nearly fearless when it comes to dreams and aspirations. Sometimes I think she is crazy when she tells me all of the things she hopes for and wants to try. and do. and be.
She is joyful almost terminally so. Her joy from the love of God and people and life is tangible. She lives every moment and loves every moment as if it is her last. She never wastes time, but is not afraid to sit and be still. To just be. She knows that this is Not a waste of time. She grows things. Plants love her. She has always talked to them, but they have begun to talk back. She travels. She loves experiencing new people and places and is not afraid to experience life out of the ordinary.
She is rarely without her beau. They are best friends, but support one another in their individual endeavors. The time occasionally apart makes the time together sweeter. They know that they must be whole and vital people alone if they are to be of benefit to one another and their family as a couple. They laugh together still. And she still thinks he is hunky. Even though she is no longer a young woman she is at peace with her body and every wrinkle and gray hair. They tell a story of a life lived and she will forever be young at heart.
She is the woman I want to be when I grow up. No really. She is. This woman does not yet exist. She is me. Or at least the me I want to be. Perhaps if I can envision her in such a real sense maybe I really can become her. Perhaps SHE can inspire ME to become HER! Crazy thought I know. But let's go with it. Let's write our own future autobiographies. In present tense. As if we are there. Let us let these future women inspire us be them...then. Hmmm...Who's with me?! Read the quote below and then if you do this experiment please leave a comment so I can read yours.
Quote of the Day: "Far away there, in the sunshine are my highest aspirations. I may not reach them but I can look up and see their beauty, believe in them, and try to follow where they lead!"
--Louisa May Alcott

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

What's In A Name?!

Here we are...Day Three! I think this challenge was just for me. I do pay special attention to my post titles. I do not really know why. Probably because I have a really bad sense of humor and love (a bit too much) a good pun or particularly absurd play on words. It was hard to pick my favorite, because I really do cherish all the little buggers for all their hard work and jocular dispositions. But this one was terribly funny to me because it was a story about jr. high english class, you know where they make you read Shakespeare and crap and then girls make fun of you if you don't have the right jeans, you know...
Challenge #3 What's In A Name?
(Re-upload a post with a title that you are particularly proud of and explain why.)
Too Bad The Merchant Of Venice Didn't Sell Calvins! originally posted December 2009
My youngest had a bit of a melt down the other day. Minor really, but made Mom think and smile and giggle and hug the little princess because, being at least thirty two steps ahead of the girl on the path of life, Mom knows it is only a foreshadowing of at least a few more such instances. She had had a substitute teacher that day in Mrs. G's normally efficiently run, well oiled, chaos free second grade class. The sub however was not so fastidious. Princess's table was noisy and disorderly and Miss R is one 7 year old who does not stand for such nonsense and told her friends as much. When she got home she flopped on the couch, stared out the window and with tears starting to run remarked softly, "I wish I could go back and start this day over."
Boy howdy girl...I hear ya! Day? I have whole years I wish I could take a mulligan on. 1984...Do over! 1996? Puhlease! 2007...Don't even ask!
If I could go back and redo most of jr. high I know exactly where I would start. Nikki Whatserface! I am pretty sure her primary goal of the 7th grade was to make my life miserable. You remember 7th grade right? Ya, her. Why did I let her do that to me? Destroy my self esteem, make me feel small and insignificant. I should not have given her the power. One of my big life regrets is not standing up to her the day I had a chance. Math class. She asked loudly, backed up by her little toady, Christine Somethingorother, "Are those the ONLY pants you own? You wear them everyday!" They were in fact my only pair and she made me feel ashamed of it. The next morning I dug through my mom's closet and found a pair of dress slacks that fit my frame but not my age and I wore those with some of mom's shoes because somehow I thought that wearing tennis shoes with a pair of women's dress slacks was the silly part. Of course the next day my only reprieve came in the mocking my shoes instead of my jeans.
Over the last 25 years, I have written and rewritten what could have been my triumphant soliloquy rebuking every adolescent tyrant and tormentor spewing vitriol and insult from behind the shield of perfectly pressed Calvins. "Nikki, what is it that makes you so insecure about yourself that you feel the need to break others down in order to build yourself up? What part of you is so passed feeling that you have no empathy for those around you who may be hurt or afraid. I may not have the right clothes or hair but I am a nice person! We all have something to offer! Everyone in this room! We have friends and families. We live and laugh and love. If you prick us do we not bleed? (By now I am standing on the desk for full effect) If you poison us do we not die? And if you wrong us, do we not seek revenge? I am NOT AN Animal!!!" Ok you get the point...I hope. Shoulda, coulda, woulda. Mr. Coleman's math class really missed out, eh?
In all reality once I started thinking about it, I decided to keep those years. This is my life. This is me. Warts and all. The good and the bad days, weeks or even years, have shaped me. Molded me into the fine upstanding lady you see today. Ya, I know, I have a tendency to exaggerate. But I guess the long and the short of it is we learn from our experiences. I will never make fun of anyone's clothes. I will always try to find something I like about people I meet. I am nice. Sarcastic, opinionated, stubborn and sometimes temperamental, but nice. And in the end mean people are just mean.
Quote of the Day: "All I can do is be me-whoever that is."
--Robert Zimmerman
Oh how pathetic are you NatureGirl? But you know what? I still cringe when I think of those girls...Just play nice people. Play.Nice.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Kissing Books Are My Favorite Kind Of Books!

Day two of the Back to Blogging Event. It was fun to look back through the archives and re-read a few oldies. Some posts should just be deleted, never to be heard from again but there were perhaps one or two that could stand to be resurrected for this event.
Challenge #2 Here we go again...
(Re-upload a post you wish more people had read and explain why it was important to you.)
I would not say that this one was particularly important to me, but it was a funny thing that happened, and I remember being quite upset at the time, but it was just a couple of weeks after I started the blog and I had not told many people about it. Actually I still do not tell many people about it, but I am getting braver. So without further ado...
Is This A Kissing Book? Oh, Ya! originally posted September 2008
I don't know where to start. I like to keep things upbeat, and simply muse (or rant) about the things that are going on in my life. I like to think that in almost every situation, we can find some good. Some lesson to be learned. Something positive to focus on. I am going to try...
I recently saw an old episode of Everybody Loves Raymond in which the lead character, Ray, is speaking to a friend about marriage. He says, "Ya, we have been married eleven years, and there is no end in sight." Double entendre duly noted, that is quite poignant. When Hunky Hubby and I married, because of our religious beliefs, we ended the ceremony not with "until death do us part", but "for Time and all Eternity." So I can say, 17 years--with no end in sight! I am so thankful for this...most of the time! (it's a joke sweetheart)
So, HH and I love to get outdoors when we have our "mom and dad time". We often go backpacking, but the last couple of outings have been mountain biking. SOOO much fun. Usually.
Yesterday, we dropped the kids off at school and headed to some trails fairly close to home. The trail we take is difficult, but we know we have plenty of time to make the 15 or so mile loop back to the truck and get home before the young'ns do. Obviously this is not what happened or I wouldn't be blah blah bloggin' about it. The first 13 miles goes smoothly. Except for some parts of the trail that are not in good shape, we are having a good time. The leaves are starting to turn color, and the weather is perfect! Near the end though, we cannot find the last turn-off to get back to the truck. We try several different trails, including one that was a horrible downhill bushwhack, followed by an arduous UPhill bushwhack back out (this required carrying our bikes a good deal of the time). We are quickly loosing time and patience. We finally decide to just backtrack and go out the way we came in...another 13 or so miles! In the end our fun-time 15 mile jaunt turned into a 30+ mile fight-waiting-to-happen, who's-sleeping-on-the-couch-tonight major expedition! HH kept his cool the whole time. He is just level like that. I lost it pretty good once near the end. On a rather steep and rocky downhill, he got way ahead of me. When I came to a fork, I wasn't sure which turn to take so, I stopped and waited for him to realize I was not there. It took what I considered WAY too long for him to come and retrieve me, and I let him have it! Poor kid, he just took it and said how sorry he was and tried to soften my scowl by adding, "I will always come for you" in his best attempt at a Westly-like fake British accent. He is cute. I reminded him, however that he should have not lost me in the first place! He agreed. I will never doubt again. So, it is still 17 years with no end in sight...
We both found a positive. Hubby said that from now on, every mountain bike trip we take will seem way more fun and pretty easy. I loved the new bike seat he bought me last month. It's way more comfy than my old one and I was sure to thank him for it.
Quote of the Day:"Pray for your marriage because God will fill the void and sweep in and muster feelings for your spouse you never thought you had."
--Patricia Heaton actress

Monday, September 13, 2010

I'm Still Here!

Don't you love how certain things and certain people cross your path just when you need them? Yeah, me too. It just so happens that This blogger knew exactly what I needed...well at least in the blogosphere. Summer is inevitably both busy and lackadaisical at the same time and I love that I kind of disconnect from the regular routine and just sit back and enjoy the the slow rush of summer vacation. Needless to say, blogging kinda goes out the window. But thanks to this girl, I was turned onto the Back to Blogging Project. Today is day one, so, here goes...
Challenge #1 One, Uno, Un, Ein
(re-upload the first post you ever wrote on your blog)
Here I AM! Originally posted August 2008
Well, this is my first post. A bit about me...
I am very happily married to the man of my dreams, hoping someday to become the woman of HIS dreams! We have four great kids whom we adore but take pleasure in sometimes embarrassing in front of their friends (this is a privilege as parents we claim!). I am a snob (although I have no right to be) about books, movies and music and intend to post quite a few suggestions (i.e. ego-driven overtly opinionated rants) on what you should read, watch and listen to. I feel passionately about my religion, simplicity, nature, yoga, food, politics, learning and (most of the time) life! This blog is an experiment in reaching out to long lost friends, and perhaps making a few new ones. It is also an obvious attempt to keep my mind occupied as my youngest child goes off to school...without me! I hope you enjoy it now, and return often!
Quote of the day: "See school as something that goes on everywhere, all the time, not just in libraries, but in parking lots, in airports, in trees."
--Ann Prattchet author of What Now?
So there you have it. Not very exciting because it now serves as my "about me". But it gave me the blogging bug. The funniest part is I have not really written about any of the things that I intended to in the beginning. Blogging has created a kinder, gentler NatureGirl, I guess. I have met so many interesting people in the last 2+ years. Very cool. See you tomorrow. Let the Blogging BEGIN...again.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Man, This Fence Is Getting Uncomfortable!

I got a homework assignment. From a friend. Karma I guess, because I gave one to a different friend a couple of weeks ago. That'll teach me to go shooting off my big mouth. Yeah, you are right...I will never learn!
So, MJ (that is the homework assigning friend) is an old pal. We share the same birthday. Year and all, which we both find really fun for some reason. Anyway, I went to her with a dilemma. I am wanting some new experiences in life. I have lots of interests and every so often I go off half-crazed wanting to learn some new thing and jumping in before I even know what I am doing. Hunky Hubby says that I actually rarely do this and anyone who knows me would agree with him, but I FEEL like I do it. Mostly the adventures are all in my head. I do not actually DO any of the crazy things I fantasize about. I am, as they say...boring. Except in my head. There I am Cool. Talented. Interesting and even Risky. Hey, I know! Why don't you all come join me there, then I would not have to actually move from my comfort zone. Whew! Glad we solved that problem.
Ha! You thought I forgot about the homework right? Nope. So, I told MJ that I am feeling kind of, oh I don't know, restless I guess. Summer vacation just ended and I am back to 6 hours a day of time that should be put to good use. Half of which is, leaving me with 3 hours a day. I guess I am just ready for a new challenge. Or outlet perhaps. I get all of these amazing ideas (you know, in my head) and I picture myself doing more and being more and living more. It all sounds so great so I approach Hunky Hubby about it and he says (as usual) "Go for it, Babe!" Mostly because he is crazy and actually DOES the things he feels passionately about and for reasons I have yet to figure out, loves me. Then to top it off MJ says I need to just write it out. Pray, meditate and then just let the feelings and words flow. What is the direction I am to go from here? Let God take the reins for a moment and go forth with faith...
Yeah right? Do I look crazy? I hope this does not sound disrespectful or sacrilegious, but sometime you gotta constrain the Big Guy or he will just let your life get so big and so grand that you do not know what to do with yourself. You know what I mean? So I have not decided yet whether to do the homework assignment. Or whether or not to Go for it, if/when I find out what "it" is. I know it is fear. Of the unknown. Of failure. Mostly of looking stupid. Ugh! I have spent so much of my life looking stupid. Feeling stupid. Feeling like I look like I feel stupid. But there is comfort in predictability. At least I know how to pretend like I am not feeling like I look like I am feeling stupid. You know? Man, this fence is getting uncomfortable!
- -Antoine De Saint-Exupery Author

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Stream Of Consciousness From Planet Earth

Today I am part of the earth. Ya, ya, I know...where do I spend the rest of my time? Ha ha you are all so clever. No I mean it is just one of those absolutely glorious days that makes you happy to be alive. So connected we are to the earth. (When did Yoda get here?) It is 75 degrees, clear blue skies and just a slight breeze to make one smile. Just lovely. I went into the yard to hang the laundry out to dry and I just marveled at the sounds, scents and feelings of the end of summer. I can tell it is drawing to a close. Autumn is in the air. That is ok. I love the fall. Will miss the laziness and sometimes craziness of summer break, but the harvest and abundance of the fall is beautiful. I know what is around the corner. Cold. Oh, and dark. Dark and Cold. This is the north country. But there is something deeply satisfying about the change of season. I hung the laundry and relished the touch of the cool, damp clothes against my warm skin. The cat winding in between my feet meowing for attention. I picked a giant handful of blackberries, bursting with juice and flavor, still warm from the sun. I gathered the eggs, thanked the chickens, Yolko and Hendrix, for their part in sustaining my family and left them with a good joke. Only thing better than a chiken's sense of hearing is their sense of humor. Old chicken joke. I am just feeling glad today. Grateful to be part of the creation, the planet, the birds and bees and even the laundry. I have purpose and direction and stewardship. Abundance and gratitude.
Thanks for listening...
Quote of the Day: "Let the mountains shout for joy, and all ye valleys cry aloud; and all ye seas and dry lands tell the wonders of your Eternal King! And ye rivers, and brooks, and rills, flow down with gladness. Let the woods and all the trees of the field praise the Lord; and ye solid rocks weep for joy! And let the sun, moon, and the morning stars sing together, and let all the sons of God shout for joy! And let the eternal creations declare his name forever and ever! And again I say, how glorious is the voice we hear from heaven, proclaiming in our ears, glory, and salvation, and honor, and immortality and eternal life; kingdoms, principalities, and powers!"