Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Wagging my tail

On the road again.  We have taken another generous friend up on the offer of a cool basement in which to unpack our bags and rest our weary heads.  We have officially (and temporarily) moved out of Flame.  Turns out the septic issue was bigger than we hoped and she must go to the shop.  Coupled with the extreme heat that sends the dogs into the wrong kind of tailspin, it was just too much.  So here we are at Jessie and Jairo’s where the dogs have been coming for years.  We met this lovely couple many moons ago when they were recommended as the perfect people to watch our house when we travelled – even more importantly, they would treat our dogs as their own and take care of them better than any 4-star doggy daycare ever would. 

Last night over dinner, we reminisced.  Jessie and Jairo have known all our animals, beginning with Jaxson, then Darby and now Roscoe and Tigger – and of course our cats too.  The dogs have stayed here many times and have their routine with the two canine residents.  Now, we have interrupted the routine a bit as they sleep in the basement with us – and we don’t rise quite as early as our hosts who wake before the dawn and are out and about taking dogs to the dog park or on strolls along one of the many fabulous trails that wind through these neighborhoods.  How is it that in the heart of the suburbs there are more trail options than we have in the boonies?  We took second shift dog walking and our two showed us around.  See that tree mama-papa?  We have peed there many times before.  See that squirrel?  He is my nemesis – I must eat him.  Now they lounge in this cool basement as we begin our workday. 

Jessie and Jairo loaned us a wire drawer unit that I am officially in love with.  Unpacking in Flame was such a relief, so moving yet again and living out of bags makes me a bit grumpy to say the least.  This drawer system is amazing.  A garage sale find, it now holds all my pj’s, underwear, bras, shorts and t-shirts.  I had to force myself to share it with David.  I believe it to be the answer to all my problems.  How will I ever say goodbye to it?  We will have this lovely resting place as a home base for the rest of July until we head south, and the dogs will stay here until we return at the end of August.  They have a good life here.  Built in playmates, loving stepparents, room to roam, couches to lie upon, toys to play with – and they can escape the scorching heat.  Again at Flame yesterday, Tigger was not happy.  I soaked him with water a few times but each time he would dry he would obsessively pant and try to locate any patch of shade to no avail.  Again, he took refuge in the car, this time mountain climbing over a pile of stuff to access the back of David’s truck.  We simply cannot do this to our dogs.  When the heat breaks, we can try again.

Flame will go to the doctors sometime this week and they will hopefully fix her up good as new.  I keep my mind from wandering down the path of “we f-d up majorly…” or of lamenting the blind faith I had in the lovely couple from whom we bought her.  As two separate repair people have said, it is highly unlikely they did not know about this very large problem. Evidence of years of leaking in the underbelly with corrosion and gross stains – as well as the unmistakable odor once the tank has anything in it, especially noticeable on the road.  Maybe they were unknowingly handed a can of worms and merely passed it along.  Who knows?  We know that the buck stops here and she will have a new tank and a new underbelly. 

I pause for a moment to consider my day.  A meeting with a new client then a large block of time to write and settle before my author group tonight.  Tomorrow, no plans except to celebrate the 4th of July sans fireworks with most of the rest of our parched state.  I plan to enjoy “city life” for as long as we have it.   The proximity to retail heaven is a nice change.  Whole Foods, Costco, TJ Maxx, Home Depot and even IKEA are all within 15 minutes.  Nothing is within 15 minutes where we used to live.  I can pop out to a store and come back and pop back out again.  Us mountain people just don’t do that.  There is no “popping” anywhere.  If we forget something at the store, it stays forgotten until the next trip “to town”. 

We will make trips back up the hill to visit our friends, do more work at the property, meet our builder, tend to Flame before her trip to the doc.  And, down here, we will visit the enormous Farmer’s market on Sunday; we will explore the trail system as our dogs become urbanized – and who knows what other pleasures of civilization we will find.  I feel safe from any forest fires here.  Even though the Waldo Canyon fire proved to all of us that even a city might not be safe, I am fairly certain we are out of forest fire danger this far into the ‘burbs.  We can breathe a sigh of relief on a deep level that hopefully will penetrate our over-tired, ragged souls.  Friends have given up the niceties and now just tell us we look exhausted.  Circles have formed under the circles under our eyes.  We desperately need to unplug and have the mantra “one more month, one more month” and then we will be on a plane to Florida to begin some seriously needed R&R time.  We will temporally turn our back on all the reminders here.  We will revel in the sun, wind and sea.  We will sail into the horizon and possibly fall off.  Interestingly, we still have not booked any return flights.  If it weren’t for those dogs… hmmm. 

In the meantime, we will have moments of escape like joining in Jessie’s guilty pleasure of watching the Bachelorette.  Yes, I was sucked in.  Who will she choose?  What will she do?  Are they in love?  Never having watched this show before as we don’t own a TV, it was a great end to our hectic day.  I wish I could say that dreams of sugarplums danced in our heads after but alas that is not the case.  My worrywart mind took over again and I tossed and turned for a while. 

As I watch my dogs snooze soundly after their morning walk, I attempt to glean some wisdom.  Snooze on a cool floor whenever I can, take every opportunity to chase a squirrel, fart at whim, and most importantly, always wag my tail.   

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Writing my way through

All I want to do is write.  I want to lock myself away with a big table, spread out my computers and files and papers and write my ass off.  When I am away from my computer, my mind spins and whirls with words to write and things to say.  It’s easier to write than to speak at this point.  My friends ask how I am, and before I answer, I ask if they have read my blog.  It makes it so much easier.  We have a starting place versus having to catch up on so many places and spaces.  I appreciate that it could be annoying but these are the friends who I know will be there thick and thin so they are willing to take the 10 minutes and read my words.  Otherwise, the energy expenditure feels immense.  I beg: please just read it, and then ask me, ok?  Mostly, they say ok.  My world has gotten smaller at the same time my words are reaching more people.  I haven’t spent “social” time with more than a handful of people.  It’s normal in times like this to retreat.  In retreating, I am not isolating.  I am re-grouping, re-gathering, re-forming.  And, it doesn’t mean I don’t love you.  I am conserving my energy.  It is a primal need to do so.

These days, I enjoy the quiet.  I like the times where it’s me, a dog or two, my computer and the breeze.  Not the wind, mind you, but the breeze.  I still don’t like the wind as it gusts and howls like crazy as it rattles the scorched trees.  Erratic is what it is and that leaves me feeling raw and vulnerable.  The dogs don’t like it either.  I took Tigger on my stop over at Flame the other day.  He got out of the car, ran around a bit, then hopped back in the wayback refusing to budge.  The mice are taking over sans human interference, and apparently they have nightly raves.  They shred any paper in site, making confetti or completely vanishing it from where it was.  They have been eating through the hard plastic lids of Costco’s mixed nuts.   These are dedicated mice!  We have declared war again, and return periodically to remove carcasses that have begun to stink as the sun cooks the trailer.  Each time I think of any of this, I doubt my choices.  I didn’t want to make the “wrong” choice as we proceeded through this maze of chaos.  Someone reminded me about hindsight.  It is always easy to judge looking back.  I just keep adding up the dollars we have spent and subtract them from our house budget.  There goes the granite counter, lost to fixing the leaking septic on Flame.  There goes my tiled entry… There goes my…. I could go on and on.  And, I won’t.  I still want (and plan) to return to living in Flame.  I still love her sleek silver silhouette.  I have to look forward, not back.  Adding regret to my pile of angst is not in the best interest of my mental health.

Yesterday I held a writing day with my clients.  These days morphed from my own personal writing time I blocked in my calendar.  I extended an invitation to write with me and this became a regular offering of my author coaching programs.  Since the fire, mostly I have facilitated the calls and not written myself.  Yesterday, I wasn’t sure of my plan as my 5 authors created their goals for the day.  Then, the muse arrived and I dug in big time on my re-write.   I haven’t made much progress on this project.  The May deadline came and went and my patient publisher gave me space to breath.  Obviously, I am writing regularly here, but the re-write of my book keeps falling to the wayside.  It is a daunting task – yet I have enlisted help.  I began with a call to my editor/coach Ellen who challenged me to stop writing here for 2 weeks to focus on that.  The idea was so absurd that I could barely hear her.  There is no way I can do that.  Seriously, this keeps me sane (if you be kind and call me sane…).  But to start every other morning working on the re-write and blog later in the day if I am so moved?  Well, ok.  As I tell my peeps, no matter how much I wish it, it simply will not write itself. 

I got in the groove for a bit – enough to recapture some excitement and a glimpse of the light at the end of the tunnel as well as to make a new promise to my publisher to turn the manuscript in before we unplug and go to the Bahamas.  In this process, I am melding the old with the new.  My inclination is to throw out everything and start over but that is not what is being asked.  So, I am keeping what I really like about my book and updating it with current stories and experiences.  How could it not have a fire metaphor running throughout?  And, my views on ‘waiting’ have changed – or are transmuting.  What is emerging is a new respect for the incubation period that might appear as waiting. 

I am evolving and will not emerge a moment too soon.  This is uncomfortable for some.  We have a ‘quick fix’ society.  Slap a Band-Aid on it and jump back in the game.  Shift your context and perform.  Create something new and get into action.  No.  I will not do that.  Not now, not yet.  I don’t know when, either.  In the first iteration of my book, I spent a lot of time looking at the difference between ‘waiting’ and ‘patience’ and this seems to be something else.  Maybe it’s patience – but it feels more primal than that.  Patience is a choice where this stage feels like a necessity.  Very few people lay their advice on me to create something else but it has happened – and when it does, I feel a deep rage rush up.  “NO!” I want to scream.  No, I will not.  I am not ready.  I do not have to.  No!  Just what do we call this stage? 

There are times to jump into life.  We know when we need to do that.  Often it’s when we are stopped by garden-variety fears such as lack of worth.  Jumping in these moments feels invigorating and inspires a new level of performance.  Jumping from my chair to grab the $100 bill out of Jack’s hand was the beginning of a new and transformative phase of life.  After that moment, everything altered.  It didn’t all change on the spot, but it became a metaphor for me.  Don’t over think it, don’t stop, and don’t wait.  Jump into the unknown and see.  Say yes!  That action lead to many more which lead to writing my book, becoming a radio show host and all sorts of other very cool things.  The flip side is sometimes I thought I needed jump at times when my system cried “NO!”.  Was I failing myself in these times I didn’t jump?  Was I chickening out?  Was I loosing my edge or my game?  Was I missing out? 

There are clearly times when to jump is the best thing.  Then there are times when patience pays.  I have never been great at patience.  Being an Aries and born in the year of the Fire Horse, patience is not a strong suit.  Then, of course, we must factor in my addict nature of wanting what I want, when I want it.  Like I said, this current stage feels deeper than patience.  This is not the time to jump, although there have been a few times I have jumped and it has paid off.  I jumped in to the stand up comedy workshop and loved it. 

So as I grapple with what to call this, I will keep writing.  Maybe it will emerge in my words and maybe it already has.  Certainly, I am clear that I am claiming this place.  I demand to be allowed to be here, to stay here as long as I damn well want to.  To whom am I speaking?  I am not really sure.  Clearly, I need to remind myself during those times of self-judgment.  But I am speaking to you too.  Not just to allow me the space but more importantly to allow yourself the space.  Should you be a sensitive type, I speak to you in particular.  Give yourself space to be.  See how that reconciles with waiting and patience.  Then, grant it to others.  Don’t rush to fix anything.  Don’t rush to form.  Don’t move too quickly. Let the smoke clear, the ashes settle. 

Then wait for a while after that. 

Friday, June 29, 2012

The smoke lingers

My ambition in life is to someday be the person my dog thinks I am. Emily Maughan

The last few nights have been rough.  Or more correctly, it’s the mornings that stink.  I seem to be harkening back to the early days and my pattern of waking up at 4am to get an early start on worrying.  My mind races with all that has to be done, isn’t being done, should be done.  All the things I keep forgetting.  The clock is ticking on the insurance paperwork and we are barely making any headway.  We do it in fits and starts and between David’s crazy travel schedule, relocating yet again, and general life busyness, it continues to fall to the wayside.  And, we have initiated the exciting (yes) and daunting (certainly) process of rebuilding.   

We need a home.  It is time to turn burgeoning thoughts into reality and break ground.  We need to have a future to live in to.  We have hired an architect and a builder and are beginning to get bids on our plans.  We hope this can be moving forward while we take our break from Colorado for the month of August.  Planning on being vagabonds through July, away for August, counting on cooler living in September and October when we return to Flame.  Then we will pack up again and go who knows where when the snow starts falling for real until our home is complete. 

Having never built a house before, we don’t really know what we are in for.  This reminds me of another faux pas in dealing with us fire people.  Yes, it is an exciting prospect to build a new house, yes we are lucky to get to do so, but don’t point this out to us.  We didn’t choose to do this so it is a mixed bag to say the least.  I harken back to my conversation early on with another fire survivor who declared years after building her “new house” she would still trade it for her old.  And, we are allowing some excitement anyway.  The first major hurdle will be seeing if we can afford our plan which is one of the things that wakes me in the wee hours.  “What if, what then, shit!”.  We are staying small, and relatively simple yet attempting to add features and touches that honor our beloved home.  Lots of tall windows to take in the view, decks across the front, an open vaulted great room, a cozy loft – and possibly an extra bathroom.  Wow.  What would we ever do with two bathrooms?  And, get this, a walk-in closet.  Not that I have clothes to fill it but after years of having to rotate closets as the seasons changed, a decent walk-in sounds lovely. 

Thoughts of this fill my mind.  Will we love it?  Can we afford it?  Will we get too much crap and lose our connection to things as they pile up in corners and in closets gathering dust?  I could argue that once you have more things than you could write down on any piece of paper at any time, you have too much.  I don’t want to accumulate.  I don’t want stacks of dishes, random kitchen implements, drawers full of junk, closets piled with clothes that hardly see the light of day.  I want simple. 

Just what is this new level of darkness that seems to be lying low like the smoke that fills the valley’s below our land?  It feels hard to smile, I am bone tired, and endless worry loops wake me up to tend to them.  Well, let’s see, there is having to move our of our cozy, albeit small, home in Flame; there are wildfires burning all over Colorado and I can’t have any conversation with anyone within 500 miles who isn’t impacted.  It is what is on everyone’s lips and in their minds.  We are no longer talking about “my fire” we are talking about multiple fires.  I can’t politely ask someone to change the subject as the issue has spread like hotcakes.  It's uncomfortable to talk about it and it's weird to not talk about it.  It’s not my issue, it’s the state of Colorado and the West’s issue.  Not that it was really ever just mine, just now it’s everywhere and it's everyones. 

Last night, I did peek at some pictures. I have wanted to stay informed but not overwhelmed so I have steered clear of images that are everywhere I look.  In these images, I glimpsed further into a world I know so well, seeing pained faces, flames coming out of windows, hugs between devastated women, animals fleeing.  I know what’s in the minds of these people.  I remember.  One of my friends exclaimed how awful it must be to discover you are on a list – almost as if I didn’t know.  I know.  I know.  I know.  I f-ing know. 

So yes, I am re-traumatized.  I see that as I type.  I feel the sob that comes up from down deep.  Our fire has faded into the distance as these new fires burn and are splashed all over the news.  But we have not faded.  We are raw and ragged and still here.  I am afraid of the next step. I don’t like being without a home.  I love my dear friends who offer basements but I want my own space.  We chose what seemed good on paper - to put our rental budget into a trailer and reclaim our land but now this seems like an expensive and limiting mistake. 

The couple tears I shed this morning (it was a somewhat stifled sob as I don’t want to startle the lovely 5 year old companion I have at the moment) provided some relief.  I am grieving.  Still.  I keep reminding you of that, but I need to remind myself of that.  That’s what is happening.  It’s grief.

I don’t want to build a new house.  I don’t want to live in a trailer.  I don’t want to live in a basement.  I want my house back. 

And, the truth that coexists is that I want this richer, rawer, edgier part of me that is claiming her place in my soul to live on as well.  And, I can’t have one without the other.  I will take my joys as they come and feel the deep pangs of grief too. As this 5-year-old angel peeks over my hands as I write not comprehending the words I type and god forbid, for a while at least, not comprehending the pain I feel or the darkness that exists in the world.  I will wash my heart for a moment as I listen to her running commentary on all things great and small.  “Did you know dogs can paint…. I met a dog named captain… How old are you…”   She tucks Tigger in a blanket as he lies on my feet and kisses his head exclaiming, “you have the best puppies ever”. 

Then I can say, yes, that is true.  At least, I have the best puppies ever.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Rolling with it

There is a lot to roll with these days. Panic fills the air as the smoke rises. 911 operators in neighboring counties throughout the state are inundated with midnight calls about the smell of smoke; fire departments are closing rank to protect their own backyards; rumors are flying; tourists are canceling their summer visits to our great state and the governor is attempting to calm the anxiety. Colorado is on fire and not in a good way.

Yes, it is re-traumatizing to those of us who have lost homes and loved ones. Yes, we wince at the latest headlines and cry at yet another tale of woe. Yes, we wonder if it could happen again to us in our rental homes or trailers. Yes, we gather together and look knowingly into each others eyes. Yes, we wish there was more we could do for all those who suffer as we struggle to keep our own heads above water. Yes, we lose sleep and question just what is happening out there in this crazy world. It is rampant. It is impacting thousands of people everywhere. It seems almost everyone knows someone who has lost a home or is evacuated. And, there seems to be no end in site. The weather continues to not cooperate, the soil is drying up, the grass withering. Storms roll through and flash their lightning strikes starting even more fires and leaving no measurable moisture.

I am back at Jessica’s after calling “uncle” on trailer living. The heat was too much for me, but I would have persevered. When my dogs began freaking, that was my breaking point. I cannot have my animals suffer. Not at all. Roscoe is staying at Jessie’s with her brood and Tigger is back with me. We are working on “Plan C, version 287.65” on where to live for the next month. Cool basements are being offered. Most likely we will spread our time between Jessie’s and Jessica’s. We just have to make it through July and then we will flee the state for the comfort of Florida, then the Bahamas. How can it be that Florida is having cooler weather than we are? Of course there is that most recent tropical storm but I am sure anyone in Colorado would trade the fires for a hurricane right about now.

I will go about my day as much as possible and attempt not to glance to the north or south. Driving up the mountain last night provided a terrifying view of both the Flagstaff fire and the Waldo Canyon fire. Eery, spooky, terrible, terrifying. Lives being disrupted, turned upside down. Living with the unknown - and then the devastation of the known. If you live anywhere near the mountains or foothills right now and you don’t have your possessions inventoried and videod, insurance up to date, evacuation list prepared and an ‘essential items’ bag packed, you are just plain crazy. This is the summer to be on alert.

So how do we live without living in fear? This is the question of the age. For those extra sensitive types, we need to find outlets and distractions from the angst. This morning, I spent time with Jessica’s angel girls. Pretending to bite off their noses, serving up their breakfast cereal, letting them feed Tigger, watching them strut around the house in their princess finery. The giggles, the hugs, the love, I soak it up. Buzzing energy fields of curiosity as well as tempestuous little goddesses in their own rights. I let them wash my mind of worry. I let myself be in the moment with them before they leave for their day of adventure. I absorb their goodness and their spunk. Now, in this quiet house that feels palatial after my trailer, I breathe deeply and read some headlines - steering clear of the pictures as those are already etched in my brain.

We went first this year. Going first is probably easier than going last. We got it over with by burning down already. We don’t have to worry about that anymore (well, as previously stated, it does come up as a vague worry... could we burn again? Is there enough fuel on the ground? Would “lightening” strike in the same place twice? Is the universe that cruel? Is someone up there making these choices for our fate? and on and on...) But really, most likely it won’t happen again. So instead of living in concern, we live on this side of things. First in a line of rocked lives. We wish no one had to feel this pain. We wish the state wasn’t on fire. We wish for the rain gods to smile upon us. Three months ago yesterday we were where so many are right now. So many thousands more. At the beginning, in the not knowing, in the early stages of panic, or in full-blown panic attacks. Life changed in an instant but it took a few more instants for this new version of our lives to be known.

The High Park people have been dealing with this awful reality for 18 days. That’s a long damn time to be in upheaval. And, no end is in site for dousing that fire. The Waldo Canyon fire is exploding, doubling in size over night, and the governor is saying, “we have never seen a fire like this in the history of Colorado”. I read headlines and I breathe. I turn back to my writing, my outlet, my sanity. I hope all those who suffer will be as lucky as we are with the support we have received and continue to receive. I hope all who wish to support those people will remember that this is only the beginning. This is the long haul. This will not be over even when the flames have finally breathed their last fierce breathe. This will not be over in a month or three months or six months or even a year. This will not be over when the victims smile for the first time, or say they are ok, or move to another home or another state. This will take a while. Possibly a long long long while. Please be patient with your people. Please give them the space to be however and wherever they need to be. Please know that just because we may look “good” on the outside, our insides are still crying out on layers we may not even realize. And, please read my blog from June 12th where I give suggestions for dealing with fire victims as we walk through fire.

We may be moving on. We may be rolling with it. But it is not a straight line, a neat progression or a stage to move through and check off a list. It is messy, ugly, scary and monumental. It has it’s beautiful moments where the world stops and we meet another human’s kind heart. It is a roller coaster. We roll up high and we roll down low. We roll through ash and muck and tears and anger. We roll with the waves of the next fire or the steam from the last. We roll in our sleep and roll through the day sometimes not remembering a thing. We roll in pain and sometimes we roll in laughter.

And, for those of you who are in the line of fire, let yourself roll. Don’t get off the roller coater until you are ready. Ride the ride. Be gentle with yourself, as gentle as you can be when you feel like you are falling through the earth into nothingness.

Just roll with it all. We are rolling with you.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Why does the bird sing?

A bird does not sing because it has an answer, it sings because it has a song. Lou Holtz

I woke up worrying. Or did I start worrying once I woke up. In those early moments before getting out of bed and way before coffee, it’s hard to tell. What I can tell is how my 60 minutes of worrying between eye flutter and first sip of caffeine made me feel. Like poop.

To escape the blistering heat at our lovely trailer, we stayed the last two nights at the Highland Haven in downtown Evergreen. A lovely respite from reality, the Highland Haven is a high-end B&B built around an 1884 homestead. A small river runs along the property, towering spruce provide ample shade, the gardens are tended but not over manicured. Our room is lovely and dark and one might have thought I could have slept in - but oh no, I need to get up early enough to begin my worrying. Well-worn grooves of worry were my focus. Challenging relationships, the heat, fires burning across Colorado our future, where to do the laundry... It wasn’t until I walked back to my room with coffee in hand that it occurred to me that I might choose something else and start the day over. Some of us are slow learners.

Looking deeper, below the worry, I see fatigue. These small retreats keep us going but our souls need a little more time to mend. Two nights at an expensive (albeit lovely) hotel won’t fix me. Darn it! We did have a lovely dinner by the river having picked up take out Thai. And, we had some much needed together time, away from it all. Later today, I check in with my therapist, my first appointment in a couple weeks. I will lie on her couch and tell her my tales. She will remind me that it’s all ok, to be expected, and that I am actually doing quite well.

Writing seems stiff this morning. More proof of what I tell my clients: you can be tucked away in a mountain retreat, by a river, all alone - and still not be inspired to write. There is no perfect time to write. It takes dedication, saying no to some things to say yes to this, willingness to sit through the discomfort, the ability to watch words that bore you show up on the screen and keep typing anyway. Don’t edit as you write is a mantra - yet of course, us perfectionists, can’t stand that! I attempt to follow my advice and type away, knowing I can come back. I could add this to my worry list - maybe I am running out of steam with my writing. Maybe there isn’t anything left to say. But I don’t actually believe that. I think it’s just often the same themes emerge and I get tired of saying it, tired of feeling it - and concerned that you might be tired of reading it. And, I am going to write anyway. Write regardless. Write on. That’s what I tell my clients - and I am telling myself that too. Over and over again.

There are sweet spots in the day where I imagine writing emerging themes and insights and beauty. I want to share all of it with you but then the moment passes and I don’t remember. Last night had quite a few. A conversation with two dear friends as we do a Vision exercise that I give to all my clients. Part of an Abundance circle, we three are creating the next year of our lives. In a flash of inspiration, I sent the assignment with a rallying cry to complete it. I have done Vision exercises over the years, the first time being when I read Jack Canfield’s The Success Principles and let ‘er rip which (unbeknownst to me at the time) began my adventure in book writing. I know magic can come from the willingness to throw our hats over the fence and create dreams so big they scare us. And, I have done these assignments, creating castles in the sky and never quite following through. This time, it’s different. The usual instructions are to “dream big, think big, stretch, allow wild imagination”. Now, at the beginning of so much, I am allowing something (for lack of a better word) smaller. I am tired of pie in the sky lingo, I just want to be willing to dream of something. Like any good resister, I put off the assignment for two weeks and began working on it an hour before our call. Talk about putting rusty fingers to keyboard. The resistance was screaming in my ears. “That’s stupid, that’s a terrible, that’s boring, that’s unrealistic...” And, I kept the fingers moving anyway.

Something started to emerge. I wrote about the house that is taking shape, the lifestyle we are creating, how the fire brought us closer. Each sentence I wrote, I questioned. “Really? Do you want that really?” When the three of us came together, it turned out that we all had variations of the same theme. It is common lingo in the circles we travel to say, “when we declare something, what often shows up is not that.” Meaning, the challenges often rush to the surface to fill the space that is created in declaration.

With my powerful friends, I urged the permission for all of it. The glaring “not that” that has shown up, our mutual pissy-ness, dashed hopes and dreams, financial concerns (real and imagined), relationship challenges, and more. And, without having exact words for it, I urged us to do it differently. All of us have created before. What will make this one different I queried? We are all around the same age, have done a lot and seen a lot. We have transformation up the ying yang, we are self-aware and moderately successful in our fields. What will make it different this time?

I have been in this conversation a lot lately. I was on an inspired fast-track with my business last year, movin’ and groovin’, launching programs and products and astounding myself. And, I ended the year bone tired, realizing that even though I adore my work, I was still trying to prove myself. The old “when I get there, I will be ok” bullshit. Yes, I wrote a whole book about this, and YES I was still doing this to myself.

I want for these women like I want for myself. And, what I really want for all of us is to find peace. Peace within our hearts as a starting place. Then we can choose our dreams from there. So quickly my lofty goals turn to a proving ground for my worth. So quickly my admiration for another turns to what they have that I don’t. So quickly my success turns to not enough. So quickly inspiration turns to driveness.

Yes, we all have this and do this. Now, much of my motivation and push has burned away with the fire along with stacks of books telling me how to be better, stronger, faster; binders full of notes from my Masters degree, massage training, personal development work and all the business training I ever did; CD’s and workbooks of teachers offering their wisdom to entrepreneurs in the form of list building, business management, tele-seminar creation and more - all turned to ash. I implemented much of the training, yet many “to-do’s” continuously sounded their alarm from my shelves. “You are not doing enough” was their call. “You need to, you should, you have to, you must. Hurry up, don’t forget, don’t miss out. Don’t mess it up. You are missing opportunities. Now is the time. Hurry hurry hurry.” I hear their ghosts still singing to me. No, I say. I won’t listen. I won’t buy the garbage. And, I am certainly not saying it’s all garbage. I think you know what I mean.

It’s time to take it down to the bare bones. Just what is really going on here? How can so many of us go through life dissatisfied? We are smart, savvy, educated, talented, beautiful, yet it’s never ever enough. And, it never ever will be.

What I am asking now is:

What do I care about?
What do I really want?
How can I have goals, commit to move towards them yet not become over-identified with the outcome?
Can I let go of needing to prove something?
Can I really, truly be ok with who I am and where I am right now?
What if this is as good as it gets - can I be ok with that?

Do we judge the bird for not having answers? No, we let it sing its song. What does it try to tell us? Maybe nothing. Nothing at all. Maybe there is no message. Maybe it is merely singing.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

A Touch of Grey

Fires are raging all over Colorado and the West. Smoke clouds fill the sky. With record breaking heat and winds blowing like stink, more and more people across Colorado are being evacuated from various fires and the High Park fire, still growing, is far from contained. Mother Nature is not cooperating one bit.

It might be easy to get discouraged about the state of the State, or the state of the world. It might be easy to slip into the darkness and the funk. Well, yes, I have to say, it is.

California was a lovely break from reality. I realize reality lives there too, but for me over the three days, reality was suspended. Someone cooked for me, I slept in a real bed, showered standing up, flushed the toilet at whim, hung my clothes in a spacious closet - and the best moments were wandering in and out of shops in the California breeze. The weather was perfect; the respite refreshing; the trip worth the trip.

Since arriving “home” the past few days have been a bit bumpy - and yes, I have had a relapse and am adding quotation marks again. Yesterday began well. I attended a 6:30am 12-step meeting. The crowd was small and we all had a chance to share. I acknowledged my fragile state of mind coupled with my desire to not be as ‘thrown’ by things as much as I have been. I have to admit, I have been gathering some compelling evidence for things not going exactly my way. Besides the obvious, not much has seemed to “flow”. Last week I drowned my Mac; the troubles continue on the trailer (leaking water pipes, leaking sewage, mouse infestation); then I left my new precious journal on the airplane. And much much more but right now it feels like blah blah blah to write it - and to say it.

Later in the day, my mettle was maxed as the temperature hit 90+ degrees in Conifer . And in Flame, well, let’s just say two words “convection oven”. And for some strange reason, we have more biting flies than ever before. These dive bombing buggers buzzed and bit mercilessly, leading to welts. Coupled with the oppressive heat my boys panted and paced the day away. The moment it cooled enough, we huddled inside until the wind picked up and they became convinced something lurked outside that was coming to kill us all. Soothing them with words of love and wisdom had no effect and even snuggling on my narrow bed didn’t cut it. Will these sweet dogs bounce back once they return to a ‘normal’ living environment? Have I taken years off their life? Have I taken years off my own?

To say the least, I have been questioning the wisdom of my push to live in a trailer. To say the most, I question my sanity. As these fires burn all around, we ‘homelosers’ (as we affectionately call our group) can’t help but be affected. It weighs on our hearts and in our minds. It reminds us of where we were, how far we have come and how much further there is to go. We send love and condolences to people all over the west who are dealing with fires - living in the unknown for extended periods of time; catching the first glimpse of the devastation of their dreams; the monumental loss and sadness buried beneath the layers of shock and disbelief. The early days of this adventure are a blur. Now in the “whatever these days should be called” stage, we are no longer numb. We are tired. We are fried, really.

With all the sadness floating through the air like soot, I grasp for the small miracles, such as the 7-year old in the airport singing proudly, “I am doing the happy dance, I am doing the happy dance.” A lovely moment for sure. Then quickly the question emerges of why we sensible adults don’t we do that. We all know that at some point in the not too distant future a “shush” from his parents (or some other authority figure or peer) will really shush him and he won’t sing aloud in public ever again, and maybe even in private either. But for this moment, I smile broadly at his parents in celebration and with the hope of encouraging their encouragement of his bold expression.

Last night before the wind kicked up, I soaked in the setting sun as it melted into scorched trees against bright green grass. Later, on 3am pee dash outside, I caught the moon - a sliver of what appeared to be burnt orange. I am looking. And, I am seeing. And, as I have said all along, this is a fine line. I simply will not force myself to be somewhere I am not in this process. And, a little looking for silver lining never hurt anyone.

Shortly, my women’s group will be here breakfast. I will ask them to remind me of what is beautiful as they oooh and ahhh over the loveliness of Flame before the heat takes over and cooks our brains. Sitting on my bed and writing, ipod playing, coffee at my side, blanket on my lap, I remember what I like about my cozy little trailer. In making my music choices this morning, my ipod stuck on “Touch of Grey” by the Grateful Dead playing it no less than 5 times in a row. I listened carefully each time, a sign sent from above.

Then I hear a whoosh of an email arriving and I read words from my dear neighbor saying the same things I was feeling. Happy to receive her words but not happy to hear that she is in pain, I write back sending love, understanding and gratitude. And, I may call her back and sing out-loud, in honor of that little boy at the airport.

Sorry that you feel that way, the only thing there is to say is...
Every silver lining's got a touch of grey.
We will get by, we will get by, we will get by, we will survive.