Open fields

At that moment, it was the hardest thing I’d ever done. As a sheltered girl, I married at age 21 and I divorced him at age 26.

Every single thing in my life pointed toward me not divorcing. Everyday I pictured myself climbing a sheer cliff by myself, hanging on with my fingernails, wind howling and me desperate to get to safety.

I did get past it.

As real as that picture of myself clinging to the side of a cliff, a new picture emerged. I had crested the sheer rock cliff. I was on a flat grassy plain.

I remember lying flat on the grass too exhausted to move, grateful as big as the world that I made it. That I didn’t have to strive for the moment. I could rest.

As the weeks went by, I rolled over and looked up for a path.

It was an obstacle-free swatch of green inviting grass. I didn’t have to go anywhere. I didn’t have to be anywhere.

It was a return-to-Eden feeling of peace, possibility and rest.

My life began to enter time again. Slowly. It took a while.

And while I was recovering, I reveled in the freedom to choose anything.

But I began to choose goals. To have things I held up as requirements. And after time I got really attached to those definitions of security and success.

The mists of time have fogged my memory. I am not sure that time remains the hardest thing I’ve done. A lot of life has happened since.

But I’ve been thinking about that grassy swath at the top of the cliff. How I didn’t have to choose anything.

And whatever I did choose would be the right choice.

I’m coming up with a new idea. That it doesn’t really matter which I choose–in any choice or specialty in my life. The critical factor is to choose a thing and stick with it until it’s complete or it’s clear it is not what I want anymore. In the years that followed, I found myself clinging to sheer cliffs again. And it’s often because I was convinced that no other choice was possible.

And

The grassy swatch could maybe have been achieved faster in those times if I had stopped clinging to a choice like it was my only hope.

In retrospect, the peaceful place was more about limitless choice than almost any other characteristic.

If I’m looking for the one and only super specific answer or key, that door is going to stay locked

But if I turn around,

Look at the open field,

I can see I have all the options.

I like to keep my options open.

Don’t you want flowers?

It was almost ten years ago, that I planted bulbs in my backyard. I’ve written about this before. Those bulbs grew every year and made my little patch of dirt radiant! I did nothing to help them, and yet they graced me with hyacinths and daffodils every spring.

What a return on the effort!

For the last few years, though, the flowers have been fewer. So, when my husband asked me what I wanted for Christmas, I said “Bulbs.”

I was thinking hyacinths, to fill in the ones that were fading. I figured that bulbs must have a lifespan, and my bulbs had done a great job for 10 years. Time to lay in a new crop.

I did get bulbs for Christmas. So many! However, none of them were hyacinth. I was glad to have new ones to try, but I really wanted more of the hyacinths that had entranced me so.

I went down to the local nursery, thinking I could find some hyacinths and plant them all at the same time. I did find the bulbs, which were half off (yay!). No hyacinths, though.

I asked the clerk, “Do you have hyacinth bulbs?”

“Oh no, those have to be planted earlier. We don’t have any now.”

First, I was totally dismissive in my mind of his assertion that hyacinths must be planted earlier. My ten years of blooms were planted in January so I knew something of how to be successful.

I explained to him that my bulbs were dying out. He nodded, and asked if they had shoots of leaves year-round, but no blossoms.

Huh. The daffodils did have that problem. A year or two after I planted the daffodils, I noticed that they didn’t die off like they used to. The flowers fell off, but the leaves remained. And they stayed up all year.

I respected him a bit more now.

He went on to explain that the bulbs were reproducing, and were crowding together. This resulted in leaves but no flowers. If I went in, dug up the bulbs and discarded, or broke up the bulbs and planted them with more room they could bloom.

So. I did just that. I bought the rest of the half-off bulbs, no hyacinths but I am willing to see what Freesia can do for me.

I planted them all, dug up the crowded daffodil bulbs and replanted what I could. 100 bulbs!

Now in February they are starting to bloom.

For the first time in years, I see a daffodil.

Somehow, I thought the daffodils were doing fine. The leaves looked perfectly healthy. And if all I wanted was leaves, they did a great job of being leaves.

I have done that. I have been in places in my life when I was almost what I wanted. Fine. No problems, not really. But something missing, not my full potential.

These bulbs needed room. They had been so successful that they had crowded themselves out of blooming.

My cousin said something to me a couple weeks ago. “You can’t use the same skills that got you here to take you forward.”

Daffodils had something to show me about that. It was horrifying for the daffodil to get the cure. I dug them up, tore off their leaves, ripped apart the roots and stuck them into a new patch of dirt to make of it what they would.

And for me to tear myself up and do whatever it is that will take me to the next level feels horrifying too.

And I see one has made a flower already.

It’s the season to bloom.

fiction

I started a new job three weeks ago. Three years ago, I was working in a job that lasted nine years. Then they laid me off. So in the last two and a half years, I’ve had six jobs.

I didn’t love that job that lasted for nine years. I wasn’t sorry to leave. But even though people there were mean to me, it was maybe 1% better than having no one notice me at all as I was looking for work.

Those old co-workers were horrible, but nobody can be as horrible to me as I can be to myself.

All alone, trying to figure out how to get the attention of these hiring managers, I struggled. Is this resume right? I read all the advice and all of it conflicted. As I doubted by job application’s worth, I doubted my own worth even more.

Maybe they were right to ignore me. Maybe I was a terrible worker and I would justifiably never work again.

So. I turned to my beloved Internet. I had been posting a little bit, and people wished me luck. But because I was so desperate for a light at the end of the tunnel, I invented a story.

If I worked to apply for 100 jobs, sometime before I hit 100, I would have an offer. I started to share this story with my Internet friends. Job application 1 submitted, 99 more to go. I even amped it with hashtags:

#jobsearchrockstar #diligencediva

I was acting like it would happen. I was not at all sure it was true, but I decided that believing it was true was better than thinking I would never work again. So when I started to think “I will never work again. I wonder if I will live in a tent in Nevada” I went to apply for another job, and did another post

job application #2

98 more to go

#jobsearchrockstar #diligencediva

It worked the first time. And then I got laid off, and it worked the second time. And then I was FIRED and it worked the third time and the fourth time.

There is a power in stories. I made up a story to comfort myself, and I gave it a happy ending before I got to the happy ending.

I made up a fiction where I was the victorious hero. And then I went and lived that story.

Maybe I need to make the story a little longer, flesh it out PAST the point where I get hired and into the part where I have a lovely experience with a boss that loves me and I can do enjoyable work that is valued.

I’m working on that. So far my new boss seems to like me. I better keep writing this story to stay ahead of the present.

The ending is going to be awesome.

Tied up and Twisted

So, in my house, the people that sell us our telephone line also sell us the cell phone package and the cable TV we use.
Nearby, at the corner near the freeway, there is a gas station. It has an automatic car wash. A lot of the time when I buy gas there, I also wash my car.
The first example, the phone company calls it a bundle. The gas station doesn’t call it a bundle, but it kind of is. I used to only go to that gas station when I wanted my car washed. But now, because I have tried it a few times, I will go there just for gas. In fact, honestly, I go there for gas more than I do for the car wash.
Here’s something I’ve noticed about bundling. It’s worth thinking about. What is the nature of the things we consider groups?
For instance, I bundle cream and sugar with my coffee.
When it comes to my cable TV, cell phone and home telephone, I don’t have to bundle it. I could buy it all separately.
At this moment in time, I have bundled waking up with checking my phone. I don’t have to check my phone. I could do something else.
Taking a second look at the way I do things, I can see if there might be another way.
There are a lot of things that didn’t used to be bundled but now are. 20 years ago, no one would have checked their phone when they first work up. But our phones got all tangled in other things.
The smart phone was invented. And it got so smart, the phone part was the least of it.
So with the other habits I’ve developed, maybe I could unbundle some stuff.
It used to be that publishing a book was bundled with finding an agent and getting a publisher. Well, that’s unbundled. You can do it yourself using the platforms developed by other people.
There are so many possibilities now. I’m wondering what things I’ve assumed are one unit that are ready to be unbundled. What barriers have I assumed my whole life, but when I take a closer look, they aren’t even there anymore? There are far more ways to redefine my life if I let myself see it.
I am still considering dropping cable TV.

Books I read in 2016

Amazon makes a list of all the ones I read on Kindle. I read most books on Kindle. There were a few.

IT”S FUN TO REMEMBER BOOKS! my old friends. Here they are:

The Slow Regard of Silent Things (The Kingkiller Chronicle)
The future belongs to those who dare (Not finished)
Behind Barbed Eyes
The Anglo Saxon Chronicles (not finished)
The God of small things (not finished)
Constitution of Lberty (not finished)
Wild
Celestina (not finished)
I am Malala
The Bands of Mourning
State of Wonder
Digital ABCs for Baby
Ask (not finished)
The Signature of all things
The Glass Magician
The Paper Magician
Shadows of Self
The Allow of Law
Mistborn
Presence
1Q84
Pieces like Pottery
Schiit Happened (not finished)
Mauprat
Hunger Games Trilogy
The Magical Art of Tidying up
Hmm…What else? I think I had a few p-books. But I don’t have time to remember them all.

Homework and phones

People talk about how school children interact with their phones. I love my phone, and I really need it to keep me from going crazy. i tell you, if I hadn’t hd things to listen to when Veronica was a newborn I don’t know how I woul dhave survived.

But now there is a new form of crushing boredom.

Schoolwork.

The homework Veronica takes home from second grade is not possible for her to do alone. It required a HUGE amount of help from me.

Also, as the mom, I get to recieve a lot of pushback that a teacher would not have to tolerate.

We have a new way of pracicing her spelling words. I have her spell the word out loud, correcting any error by speaking, and then she writes it down.

This gives her a little more practice in writing too, which is really needed.

But it’s soul crushingly boring. For both of us.

I have to resist checking my phone for stuff to think about. THERE IS NO BREAK. She fights me every step and at any second there will be something I need to correct.

SHe would love to be watching Youtube as well.

But I actually CAN read texts while she is spelling a word. But I can’t be distracted by it. The words keept coming.

New Old

In the current model of parenting, schools rely heavily on parents handling the homework. I do not remember my parents helping me this much. Maybe my older brothers did. But my daughter’s schoolwork is almost impossible to complete without parental help.

And second grade has a lot of homework. Even Christmas vacation has special homework: a family history project. She is supposed to write out 3 pages, using primary and secondary sources of information about her family. One page must be a map.

The standards are pretty high for a second grader. Primary and secondary sources? really? yet again parental intervention is required.

But this is a special problem for me. I can’t do it for her…I have to coach her into creating the project that will meet the requirements.

So I ask, what is the most interesting thing about your family?

“I think the most interesting thing about my family is that I have four uncles.”

She answers in complete sentences. Just like that.

Uncles. So I check with the teachers if uncles are okay, yes they are.

So now I set up the video calls.

Veronica and I actually worked out a few questions that would follow the spec. She will ask them about what it was like for them in second grade.

When she talked with my oldest brother, she asked what she had asked the rest, “What school did you go to for second grade?”

He didn’t quite remember. He and I reviewed our remembered family history and named three schools before finally remembering the right one.

And then it came up that he’d skipped 3rd grade.

I never knew that.

I told him I’d skipped 8th grade.

He never knew that.

There’s a theme song for new years- Auld Lang Syne. It says: “Should old acquaintance be forgot and never brought to mind…”

Well, maybe there’s a lot of old acquaintance we never knew to even forget. And also, maybe there are new things that our old acquaintances have matured into.

There’s new stuff happening even in the old stuff.

steps

My daughter has her future all mapped out at 7. She is a planner. She is going to marry her best friend and invent a time machine.

“But I need to finish school because there is a lot I need to know about building a time machine.”

Right about now, the future starts to knock on the door. We are coming up to the new year, and in between the wrapping and the mailing of the cards I think about what I’d like to have happen in my new year.

Goals. Resolutions. Dreams. Wishes.

I can often imagine a goal.

YES.

THAT.

And it’s so clear to me that I can almost reach out and touch it. Like the story of the spoiled child who wishes for the moon.

It’s right THERE.

No. It’s not. As clear as my vision of the desired goal is, it’s not here yet.

There are a lot of steps to go through. Funny how those steps do not seem as clear and present as my vision of the goal.

There are a lot of steps.

I like how Veronica is aware that her goal has steps. I like that she is completely confident that the steps to arrive at her goal of inventing a time machine are simply waiting to be taken.

Her definition of the steps is a good one too: learn more things.

I probably need to learn more things to pull down the moon too. It may be easier than I thought. And in learning and trying, I may discover the right sort of moon-type object I was really trying to get.

But I won’t know if I don’t try and learn.

child-19201_1280

Giving and Receiving

It’s the holiday season. I had to pick up a package from the post office (not a present), and I was commiserating with the postal worker.

“Lift from the knees. It’s going to be a long holiday.”

She moaned and thanked me. We were looking out for each other. It is the season for giving and receiving of gifts.

My dear husband nags me every season to write out a list of what things I would like to receive. It’s so hard to think of things!

My daughter does not have that problem. This is probably the last year that Santa is still mostly real for her, and she will ask for anything. A Unicorn, a pony, a REAL kid-sized BMW.

Me, I am too busy thinking of what I must get for everyone else that it feels like a burden. I know what Christmas is all about: all the other people. And I like giving gifts!

A few years ago I was walking down the street, and saw a man standing at a bus stop. “All the busses go out of service as soon as they pass me!”

“Where are you trying to go?”

“Pasadena.”

“Oh, you need to stand on the other side of the street to catch the bus to Pasadena.”

“I know what bus I need, but they keep going out of service as soon as they get here.”

I tried to tell him, three times. He was so sure of what he knew and that he understood what was going on, he couldn’t receive the information I was telling him.

How about that.

Holidays can be like that too.

A couple years ago, Chris bought me a kindle for Christmas! Oh, thank you baby! How sweet! How nice!

I tried one or two books on it and then let it gather dust. I knew I liked the feel and smell of physical books.

And there it sat…for more than a year, until I came to the end of a book, a first in a compelling trilogy and I HAD to read the next one. They didn’t have it at the library or bookstore, so kindle it was.

I now have more than 200 books in my kind library, 90% of which I’ve read. I often make buying choices based on whether it is available in kindle. I’ve upgraded to the Paperwhite and love it.

I didn’t even let myself have it for several years. Like the stubborn man at the wrong bus stop, I was so sure of myself that I missed out.

So here is a call to action, Wonder Readers. This holiday season, open up and see what you can receive. Yes, presents and stockings and baked goods and drinks.

But maybe try new things. Let your musical relatives know you’d be interested in hearing a new song or artist, and the sorts of things you like, rather than dreading having to hear THEIR noisy favorites that you can’t stand. Tell them what you like and let them surprise you with what they know.

Ask about books, or recipes or movies or hobbies. See what else there is to experience in this wide world.

There is so much more than any of us have time for!

thanksgiving

This thanksgiving I am sick and home alone.

I’m a little sorry for myself, just a little. Because I am without a job AGAIN.

and I am not feeling great.

I am underneath it all, thankful. I have a lot of blessings. More than I would have thought.

What an adventure life is.