Thursday, April 28, 2011

DressedUP: Barefooters Unite!

It is AlphabeThursday again and today's letter is B. First off, I had no idea this was even a movement, but it turns is. I am a barefoot kinda girl.  Growing up in sunny California, there was little reason to wear shoes as a child. Our feet were tough as any shoe leather. 110 degrees is not uncommon in my hometown. A favorite childhood game (if you could call it that) was to see who could withstand the heat of the asphalt the longest before running...and I mean RUNning for the lawn.  By the end of the summer the kids in my neighborhood could have walked a bed of hot coals without so much as a hint of a blister. We went everywhere barefooted, including the 7/11. That is, of course, until school started again and we were forced by society to shove our feet into those little torture devices called shoes.  Mary Janes, saddle shoes, Keds or did not were torture.

For me, things have not changed...much. Except for the fact that I live in Idaho and it snows here 9 months out of 12,  I still hate shoes, but wear them out of necessity. During the warm months, I go barefooted. A few neighbors have taken up a little friendly taunting as I walk passed them barefooted on the 1/2 mile walk to pick kids up from school. Turns out there is a term for it even. According to Wikipedia someone who prefers to not wear shoes in public is known as a "barefooter." Barefooted running and hiking are becoming quite popular. There are books on the subject and even whole "societies" dedicated to furthering the cause of the Barefooter.  Who knew? Must be kids like me who grew up in the 70's and are having a difficult time converting to Shoers. Footwearers? Shod?

Hunky Hubby recently purchased a pair of Vibram Five Fingers for me. Those are the crazy shoes I am wearing in the pic. It is as close to going barefoot as one can imagine while wearing shoes.  I feel quite liberated!  The piggies are free in these shoes for one thing, not all bunched up in a little ball at the end of   shoes. And I don't even own girly shoes! I cannot imagine what you ladies in heals are feeling. Don't tell me, I don't want to know.  All I can say the piggies, them!

There is something so natural and so visceral about going barefooted. Every texture of the earth is so available to us. There is a deep connectedness to the ground that we walk on without shoes. I know it sounds silly and most ladies would never even consider going out in public without the perfect footwear.  I get it. I guess. But as a naturegirl, I get think I need the sensations of connecting to my surroundings even in this small way. Go ahead laugh, but it really is mindset. A life philosophy even, silly and frivolous as it sounds. Removing what we can from our external forms so that our internal senses can more freely connect to nature and our surroundings. Shoes is just an example. The idea I guess, is letting go of those THINGS that keep us from really experiencing those surroundings. Not just being IN nature but becoming PART of it. Getting dirty, sleeping under the stars, standing still a rainstorm, catching snowflakes on our tongues, eating what we grow, shutting down TV and radio to listen to the birds chirp outside the window or waking up early to watch the sunrise. I have two little birds making a nest outside my kitchen window. I stood for quite sometime just watching them. I could not take my eyes off of them. So naturally they went about their work. Instinctually. It was lovely. I will take the time to watch the birds, and I will go barefooted.

Quote of the Day: ""Going barefoot is the gentlest way of walking and can symbolise a way of living — being authentic, vulnerable, sensitive to our surroundings. It's the feeling of enjoying warm sand beneath our toes, or carefully making our way over sharp rocks in the darkness. It's a way of living that has the lightest impact, removing the barrier between us and nature."
— Adele Coombs, "Barefoot Dreaming"

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Gabrielle's Toenails

I am participating today in a writing prompt over at The Red Dress ClubThis week's memoir prompt is to write a piece inspired by the color red - but we are not allowed to use the word "red" in the story. Here is mine...

Jamie remembered only odd bits of rather unimportant details of the day they had first met.  It was the first day of third grade.  Jamie had just moved to the small  northern California town from and even smaller one.  Earlier that week, Jamie’s mother had walked Jamie and her younger sister, Jeni, to the school, hoping that they would be able to navigate the mile or so on their own for the year.  On the first day of class the sisters had walked alone, but upon their arrival, everything had looked so unfamiliar to Jamie that she had wanted to head back home thinking that she and Jeni had somehow stumbled upon a different elementary school.  The wrong elementary school.  Jeni convinced her sister that they were at the right school and the two girls took their places in line in front of the adjacent second and third grade classrooms.  Jeni was more than a year Jamie’s junior, but infinitely more confident and self -assured.

Jamie, still nervous and not entirely convinced at her belonging there, stood awkwardly and silently against the windowed classroom wall, the cold metal siding chilling the backs of her legs. Gabby had walked confidently toward the timid girl and introduced herself. She was a good head taller than Jamie and wore a colorfully printed sundress that tied at the shoulders, and her hair in a bun.  Her brightly painted toenails peeked out from the leather, braided high heeled sandals like little cherries.  High heals and those toenails! It was the one color that Jamie's mother would not allow her to paint her nails. Gabby looked, not like a nine year old girl, but a sophisticated woman of the world. Like one of the teenagers that Jamie saw on TV shows. There was something unfamiliar about this uninhibited little girl and yet undeniably desirable, and her name was Gabrielle.

Even her name sounded exotic and veritably steeped in femininity. A harsh and direct opponent to her own name. Jamie. A name that gave no hint of gender.  There was very little in appearance to betray Jamie’s femininity either, except her long blond hair.  Yet, it too, somehow only said “tom-boy” as the stringy waves hung unflatteringly in her face, half obscuring her bright blue eyes and freckled nose. She had always believed it was the freckles that won her the nickname Snicklefritz, but she could never quite figure out the connection.  Her little sister, the real beauty of the family, was affectionately called Sunshine. Jamie was pretty too, but she did not know it, so chances are that no one else did either. Gabrielle, in contrast, left no one wondering.  From the pink barrettes that held the perfect coiffure of dark curls away from her face to the tips of her brightly painted toenails, Gabby looked the part. She was a girl. 

Thursday, April 14, 2011

LinkUP: Alphabet Soup!

Today is a special day at The Matlock School For Syllabary Obsessed Bloggers. Mrs Matlock, our lovely, albeit somewhat strict, anytime blogger and part time schoolmarm is wrapping up yet another semester of AlphabeThursday with a big pot of AlphabetSoup! Yummm...
Dig into some of my favorite letters from this batch. Ooh, I think I gotta piece of celery in my teeth.

A is for Autumnal Ruminations: I 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!

B Is for Bikes and Big Buts:  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?" Well...will I?

D is for Decorating: I am not good at decorating. I have good taste, don't get me wrong, of course I have good taste. I just do not know how to put it all together. Also, my taste is we say...eclectic. It is my mom's fault. Growing up we always had a strange assemblage of furnishings and decor. A mixture of family pieces, antiques and odds and ends. A combination my mom's diverse flair for decorating and a lack of financing. Bookshelves in every nook and cranny, including the hallway! Nothing matched. P.S. I turned out just like my mom...and I love it!

E Is For EvolutionI am Leslie. Wife. Daughter. Sister. Mother. Mormon. Recycler. Writer. Friend. Woman. Gardner. Lover. I am a loudmouthed, stubborn, opinionated know-it-all, but a passionate, empathetic, friendly naturegirl. I could go on, but for everyone's sake, I will not. I am above all, a work in progress. I am evolving. I have likewise evolved. I think most importantly I am becoming more ME. Everyday more comfortable with who I am. Letting go of pretenses; both externally and internally. Allowing myself to get to know the real me. It takes time and effort to let emerge the person we are at birth before life and hurt and fear gradually sneak in and temporarily rob us of our true selves. Temporarily. We are divine. Yet mortality has a funny way of snatching that knowledge right out from under us...oh around, you know...jr high. Pick, pick, pick, little pieces of our divine nature are plucked off and we have to patch and mend and cover up our perceived inadequacies for years until we are once again able to see our real selves. Once again able to BE ourselves.

F is for Flosculation: I really like words. Seriously, I use them all the time! Reading, writing, quotidian colloquy. But I have recently heard some disturbing news. I mean, I guess deep down inside I always knew, but until my worst fears were confirmed by an outside source, I held out hope that it wasn't true. There are words on the brink of expiration. The threshold of existence. Near their demise. Falling, quickly and abruptly, into obsolescence! Words that once served a purpose and held their places proudly and alphabetically in lexicons across the world, are now being tossed aside like relics of a bygone generation. Deemed antiquated, outdated, useless and ineffective they are being removed from dictionaries to make room for new words like woot, edamame and subprime. I think there is still time to Save The Words.

Q Is for Quixotic Quotidian QuirkI am an an addict.  At first, I only popped open a new one every couple of days, and only with friends. After a while I needed one everyday, and I started partaking even when I was alone.  They say that is one of the first signs. Now I find myself indulging two or three times a day. I cannot stop. I even found myself using in the car the other day, in the elementary school parking lot while I was waiting for kids. I know it is wrong, but it just feels so good...Even when I am not using, I find myself thinking about it. Adding the point values of the day's newspaper headline. Word scores racing through my mind like greyhounds after the proverbial RABBIT. (Or HARE, on a double word score.) Anticipating the chance to use a beauty like QUIXOTIC or JUMBLE. Yeah...I gotta go.

Quote of the Day: "I like the word "indolence." It makes my laziness seem classy.  ~Bern Williams author

Monday, April 11, 2011

CheerUP: C'mon Get Happy!

At the beginning of the year I gave myself a tiny challenge.  A challenge to make this a year of gratitude. I think it started with the negativity that I sometimes see on Facebook.  I like the quick daily glance into the ordinary and even mundane lives of long lost friends and even close neighbors. It is nice to see how everyone is doing. But it seems sometimes that a lot of folks are complaining. I decided to "update my status" once a week with something that I am grateful for. I have fallen short of that goal this last month, of course.

Enter: The Happiness Project over at Seven Cherubs. That's right folks...Suheaven! The happiness project is fairly simple; find something to be grateful for each day for a month...then blog about it in one way or another! Ta Da! Even I can do that. I believe I will wait until the end of the period (May 10) to actually post the results, but I will work on it daily.

So there you have it. Finding joy and happiness in gratitude. Hit the link up there if you would like to join in. There is still time. Get creative...find the grateful and Get Happy!

Quote of the Day: "There is no such thing as gratitude unexpressed.  If it is unexpressed, it is plain, old-fashioned ingratitude."  ~Robert Brault writer

Thursday, April 7, 2011

LInkUP: Never Said I Was The Life Of The Party

Ultimate Blog Party 2011

Welcome.  I am Leslie. A self-proclaimed simple minded girl who is very happily married to the man of her 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.  I am a snob about books, movies and music and I sometimes post ego-driven overtly opinionated rants  suggestions on what we should read, watch and listen to. I feel passionately about religion, simplicity, nature, yoga, food, politics, learning and (most of the time) life! 

If you are looking for crafts or recipes or anything useful, you should probably go to the next link. There is absolutely nothing of use here. Really. I mean it. Move along if that is what you are after. But if you want to read the useless musings of a very simple mind...It is nice to meet you. 

Quote of the Day: "You meet people who forget you. You forget people you meet. But sometimes you meet those people you can't forget. Those are your friends."--unknown

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

UPLift: To Be Or Not To Be?

I belong to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Twice a year we Saints gather all over the world in our separate meeting houses and homes and join as the body of the church to participate in what we call general conference. The speakers and many members gather in the Conference Center in Salt Lake City, the other 14 million of us watch or listen via internet, satellite or radio in every corner of the globe. This was the 181st consecutive year that this has been held. I find I am always edified and taught as we gather together as saints for we,"talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophesy of Christ, and we write according to our prophecies, that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins. (2Ne 25:26)" 

So, that being said. Anyone remember the little thought that I had a few weeks ago that went something like this: "BE" apposed to "ACTING" remarkable."  It is something that I have been pondering for a while now.  Turns out, I am not the only one.  Elder Lynn G. Robbins gave a remarkable talk on this very subject during our conference. Whether you are of my faith or not, it is a profound and powerful sermon on the importance of BEING the kind of person we want to be as opposed to simply acting or doing in the manner. I am sorry that the text only version is not available yet, so the link is to the video, but it is not long and well worth it. He said it so much better than I could have.
                 "To be or not to be? That is actually a very good question." He begins.
In a spiritual sense, Christ posed this very question, "What manner of men ought ye to be?" For Christians the answer is that we want to become like Christ. In a more general sense even outside of Christianity, I believe that we desire to become the best possible version of ourselves. Elder Robbins goes on to say that Be and Do are inseparable. They are interdependent. Our faith for instance, inspires prayer, and prayer in turn leads to an increase of faith.

On a lighter note he jokes, "People often create a "to do" lists...but rarely have "to be" lists. Why?" Perhaps we should? He illustrates this point noting that he could take his wife out next weekend for a lovely date and check that off his "to do" list, but to BE a good husband is internal. Being a good spouse is part of one's character or nature, part of who we are. Or, I think, who we can become anyway, as most of us are still works in progress! Or for example, when do we check a child off our "to do" list as "DONE"? The answer, of course, is that we are never done BEING good parents.

Bottom line... "To be" lists are not seen, but hopefully they are the motivating force behind our "do's." As we teach our children and interact with our families, friends and even strangers, cultivating our "to be" list will lead us to more authentic actions. Hopefully more Christlike actions. Kindness, charity, mercy and love. These are things that I want to become part of my nature. Part of who I am. Do I fall short? Often. Do I try again? Always.  Being, doing, being more, doing again. It is a process. I am still under construction. There are days when it feels like the rafters are sagging and I may have to start all over, but no. With a firm foundation we can simply regroup, reinforce and occasionally even add-on if necessary. I think Nike had it wrong...
                                                             Just BE it!

Quote of the Day: " We cannot become what we need to be, remaining what we are." --Max Depree author