The Fours of Nature: Laurie, Mary, Norma, and Dorey
What have I been up to lately? According to the date of my last post, it’s apparent that I haven’t been blogging.
For one thing, I have added real estate to my collection of careers. Ultimately, I will be purchasing a retreat and realty presented itself as the next step along that path. While I have added a new facet to my business, I have also begun the process of shedding all the things that no longer serve me… again.
Because I enjoy working and have difficulty relaxing, I have a propensity for burnout. This is a recurring theme in my life but I am learning to more quickly recognize when I am out of balance.
Reestablishing that balance is what I am up to now.
When I have sloughed off all the miscellaneous obligations to others that I have created for myself, I have the space for singing in my life again. Singing feeds my soul… and asks very little in return.
After rehearsing with the Fours of Nature (above) for an upcoming coffeehouse (and still nursing an ear worm), I was thinking about how much I love being immersed in music. It’s been a long time since I’ve been able to really give myself to a musical endeavor, so I had forgotten how good it feels. My reminiscing, reminded me of hearing Sting quote George Bernard Shaw (below) several years ago. The sentiment is true…
In essence, if we want to direct our lives, we must take control of our consistent actions. It’s not what we do once in a while that shapes our lives, but what we do consistently.
On this Wisdom Wednesday (my first in quite a while), this thing about consistency is brought to my awareness again. A few years ago, I was posting regularly. I peppered in photography and quotes weekly to break the monotony and ease my writing load. I gradually got out of the habit and quit writing altogether, with a few exceptions here and there.
As we begin a new year, I am recommitting myself to writing regularly. My goal isn’t perfection but consistency. (Until I get ahead on some content, I may be posting later than I’d like… like today.) Until then, enjoy the last few hours of your Wisdom Wednesday!
Today was a typical Tuesday. We had breakfast. We played. We made art with colored pencils and stickers. We made music by “playing” Grandma’s guitar and banging on various household objects. We had lunch followed by a nap (everyone but Grandma, who probably needed the nap more than anyone, but opted to clean up the lunch mess instead). Throughout our day’s activities, I redirected when necessary, and everyone was happy. We had fun and maybe even learned a little. It was a good day.
Our usual nap time made me smile. I turned off the lights, closed the blinds, and opened the meditation app on my phone. I chose a sleep hypnosis selection and watched my grandchildren willingly and rapidly drift off to sleep. The gentle snore from my grandson’s enlarged adenoids accompanied the ambient music as I loaded the dishwasher by the surface light of the range hood. My granddaughter chose to sleep on Grandma’s bed, while my grandson crashed on the couch. After a couple of hours of peace and quiet, I was happy to see my granddaughter’s groggy smile as she slowly came out of her slumber. She remembered that I had promised to take her to see “Sissy” (her aunt, my daughter), so she quietly got out of bed and began looking for her rain boots. (She is learning to whisper when her brother is asleep, instead of talking louder than when he is awake — probably because she is bored and wants a playmate.) I ended up carrying my sleeping grandson to the car.
The day flew.
I own multiple businesses and volunteer for a number of organizations. I sing and write lyrics, coordinate events, and frequently take classes on spirituality. I always have some new endeavor in the works. I have an exciting life. But the highlight of my week is Tuesday. Many have heard me refer to it as “baby day.” I let time slow down and enjoy the little things: filing my granddaughter’s fingernails, putting my grandson on the potty (even though he has no intention of using it), and drinking hot chocolate out of champagne glasses. (I have to confess, I was a little jealous when I heard “Pop Pop” has tea parties.)
It’s been awhile since I’ve entered Sally D’s Mobile Photography Challenge. The subject of the first week of each month is Nature. This reminded me of this picture I took recently. Even though I don’t believe in luck, I snapped the photo of this little guy to remind me to focus on good fortune… good fortune I will create.
I believe “good luck” comes to those who consistently do the next right thing over time. So now I think of the cricket as a symbol of consistency, as opposed to luck.
Looking back on 2016, I’d have to say it was a pretty good year. There were some lessons along the way, and some heartbreak too. I made some mistakes. Okay, probably lots of mistakes, but I learned from them.
I took on too many things (which I have been known to do). But when I felt overwhelmed, I quit putting new things on my plate and started saying no once in a awhile. I also put other people’s needs before my own. But I began putting my own needs, if not first, at least higher on my list of priorities. Fortunately, I didn’t have any large lessons to learn in 2016… at least none on which I was tested. ( I learned an abundance of lessons in previous years and hope that I am finished with that for a while now.)
No complaints here.
Cookie, my protector and faithful companion of fourteen years, lost her battle with cancer. When I picked her from that litter (in the back of a pickup truck in a Walmart parking lot), I had no clue she would see me through two divorces, a traumatic injury accident, and that in her old age I would get to comfort her through her illness. My heart was broken, yet it was only because of the immense love she brought into my life.
A poignant part of life.
Now, looking toward 2017, I am grateful for another trip around the sun. I know this year will be even better than the one past. I will spend more time with friends and family. I will meet goals and realize dreams. I will accept change and pain if (when) they come. Above all, I will cherish love and life.
I met with a colleague yesterday to discuss logistics of an upcoming event. The discussion took twists and turns as conversations with friends do. We more deeply explored some possibilities we had initially only grazed in other talks. Aha moments, ideas, and a list of action items abounded.
As we concluded our meeting, my associate remarked, “What a difference a day makes!” Although we had planned to talk, neither of us foresaw the direction we would head on this day. Synergy brought out the best in both of us and we created a new possibility.
As I drove home, I questioned the familiar phrase resounding in my head. What about the day made a difference?
One thing. Our thoughts. The thoughts we entertained, individually and collectively, were all that changed.
When I am not creating the results I desire in my life, I can create dramatic change by changing my thoughts. The immediate circumstances of my life may change gradually (or rapidly, if I am open to it), yet improvement in my inner world can be immediate (if I allow it). In this moment of shift, nothing has changed, yet everything is different. Better.
I know this.
But it is moments like these that grab my attention and catapult me into action. I was grateful for the reminder.
When you desire a different result, change the thinking that got you to this point. And what a difference a day will make, indeed!
I poured my hormonal teenage heart out on the pages of my Creative Writing notebook in high school. I voiced my complaints in my Comp I journal in college. And in my forties, I expressed my fears and resentments, as well as my gratitude, by blogging. Although my blog has been essentially dark the past year or so, I have been getting my therapy. Last November, I completed the first draft of a book, which I am in the process of editing.
The transitions I have made in the past year astound me. I have taken back my maiden name (again, and for the last time). I am fully self-employed for the first time in my life (after being out of work on worker’s comp for two years). I now edit a newsletter for a professional organization, coordinate a group of volunteers at a spiritual center, and sing regularly (at a coffeehouse where I also MC). And throughout all of this, I wrote.
I wrote essays for classes I took. I wrote copy for a personal growth organization. I wrote affirmative prayers. I wrote 750 words (Morning Pages) of daily brain drain. I wrote poetry. I wrote handwritten notes and cards to friends and family. I wrote lyrics. I wrote personal inventories as part of a 12-step program. I wrote gratitude lists. I wrote letters to God. I wrote “to do” lists. I wrote a book.
All of it therapeutic.
Sorting out my thoughts and feelings on paper is healing… choosing the words with just the right tone… creating a certain mood… poring over the subtle nuances of each synonym… hearing the ring of a well-chosen phrase. These are the things that have helped me create order in chaotic times, make sense of (or peace with) the events that make up my life, and simply get things off my chest.
Regardless of the reams of paper I have filled, I have only recently accepted the title, Writer. Now that the dust has settled (for the time being anyway), the latest catharsis complete, I have come to the realization that I am a writer — not because I have a certain number of words under my belt, not because I have been paid to write, nor because I have something unique to say.
I put a lot of thought into my Photography Challenge posts, often regarding the photo itself. Is it the best shot of the ones I took? What about the subject matter? …the lighting? This week it was all about the category.
I was struggling with whether I would categorize it as “Objects” or “Still Life.” I chose “Still Life” because “Objects” somehow didn’t seem enough. There is action and life in this scene. We simply isn’t visible.
I thought about the exuberance with which somebody created these snowballs. I wondered if it was a boy. How old was he? Did he lob any of these before being called in for lunch? Maybe he was a teen, mischievously storing them for an impending ambush.
I will never know. I can only imagine. A picture certainly can be worth a thousand words.
Last week I received a handwritten note from a spiritual leader. His words expressed a confidence in me that I am only beginning to grow into. I was telling an artist friend about it and we began talking about the importance of words.
She excused herself and came back with the treasure in this photo. She said she hadn’t initially known why she bought it, but now she was certain. She included a handwritten note on the back of a piece of paper on which she had painted, and gave me the box.
This whole encounter inspired a longer written piece which I will post later. In the meantime, I loved the light in the top photo. It echoes the sentiment, “Radiate Sunshine.” And I always love black & white.