I started writing this post over the summer, and actually finished in Sept. Then, somehow, I deleted the whole thing, which I found ironic since I was writing about abundance.
It began on a hot summer afternoon, as I knelt down in the orchard of the property I was preparing to move to, looking at literally dozens of apricots that had fallen to the ground. All around me was the color green~ leaves, grass, bushes, trees~ all so alive and healthy and such a contrast from the browns and yellows of the dry land I was leaving.
This new landscape was so much easier on my eyeballs than the much harsher beauty of the foothills I had lived in for over a decade~ so much so, that almost overwhelmed me.
Little things, like knowing I would have enough water for the whole family to take showers AND to run a load of laundry ALL IN THE SAME MORNING. I could even run the dishwasher the same day and still be OK. Like knowing I could buy plants if I wanted to and actually put them in the ground because there was real soil that actually contained dirt and not just rocks that bend and break metal tools, and yeah, there was WATER to keep them alive.
And being only 5 minutes from a coffee shop or a store~ many, if not most Americans probably take these things for granted, but I had been without them for so long, that I actually felt weepy with joy about it all.
As I sat there looking around, pondering my blessings, and wondering when I had become such a sentimental and emotional person, it hit me.
Literally…. Like, “BONK!” I actually got conked in the head.
It was a peach that fell from the tree and hit me right on the noggin.
The actual hit to the head came with what I guess would be called a simultaneous epiphany. Just a single word came to mind.
That was my word for 2014~ That was how I most wanted to feel, and that was definitely what I had all around me.
Before I could relish too deeply in this thought, I noticed something mildly disturbing. A rodent~ some sort of mole, vole, mouse like creature. Something other than a rat, and it was lying in the hot sun in my yard, looking for all purposes, dead.
I began thinking of all the reasons (fears) of why there would be a dead rodent lying there in my perfectly lovely orchard. What if the lawn mowing guys had used some sort of poison that could be a potential danger to my dogs and cats? What if it had a hideous, painful and contagious disease? What if it was a trick and it was going to jump up and bite me in the face? Then, I noticed a twinkle in the rodent’s eye.
Not a mischievous or playful twinkle or even a menacing one. Nothing like that~ just an indicator that it might, in fact, have a bit of life left in it, but not much.
As a liker of animals of all kinds, even rodents, even if they do sometimes carry hideous diseases and plagues, I couldn’t just let the poor thing wither in the sun and die.
But, as much as I wanted to help, I certainly wasn’t going to touch the mystery rodent. So, I picked up a peach from the ground next to me and threw it toward the creature to see if it would move.
I didn’t think I would actually hit it, but I did, and it did a sort of writhing wiggle which made me jump and flail about in shock, doing my own sort of writhing wiggle thing.
Once I caught my breath, I noticed that the little creature appeared to have its’ two right legs stuck under a peach (not the peach I had thrown, but yet another one~ they were all over the place~ seriously, I’m not kidding with the abundance)
The poor thing was trapped. I still wasn’t going to touch it, so I got a stick, and poked the peach until it rolled off and the second it was free, that half dead looking rodent sprung up, dug a hole and disappeared faster than I could even blink, let alone speak (and that’s fast!)
I gave a verbal warning / request to the ground he disappeared into, asking him to move on to different pastures before I moved my cats and dogs in with their sharp teeth and love of shaking things, and lesser appreciation for the life of a rodent.
So, there I was, left there alone with the fruit falling in this wonderful new yard that surrounded the home I would soon occupy. It was a real, grown up house~ surely the nicest thing I had lived in since I moved out from under my parents’ roof. The street was paved, and flat and there was good internet. I was home.
As I contemplated how wonderful all of this abundance was, and how miraculous that my word for the year was once again coming to fruition (literally) I couldn’t help but think of the little rodent and wonder if there wasn’t some metaphorical symbolism in all that. (My mind just works that way. I can’t help it.)
That little creature was also surrounded by abundance, but it seems he’d been trapped by it, and nearly smothered under the weight of it. Theoretically, he could have tried to eat his way out, which I like to think I would have done in his place. Unlike the rock climber who had to saw his own arm off, or the Donner Party, it was a peach, so it would have been pleasant, albeit overwhelming since it was almost the same size as he was.
Anyhoo, I think there must be some lesson on paying attention and not getting stuck or being creative or maybe all of those things. In any case, abundance in the form of fruit trees, ability to do laundry and proximity to coffee isn’t going to solve all of life’s problems, but it sure is more than enough to be grateful for. And I am so very grateful.
Life is good, indeed. In fact, it’s down right abundant.
I woke up the other morning and learned that Maya Angelou had died.
I hadn't even had coffee. I hadn't even gotten out of bed. Of course, I know that switching on a device and plugging into Facebook before my feet even touch the ground is not usually the best way to start a day, but I had done it, and it started the day in a most solemn way.
My foggy brain recalled that I had meant to post one of her poems back in April, but I couldn't honestly remember if I had done it. That poem, Still I Rise, is something I've repeated in my mind a lot in recent weeks, but I had no recollection of whether or not I'd written about it.
That led me to realize that I couldn't actually recall the last thing I had written here at all.
Upon looking, I discovered that while I did post my favorite Maya poem, I hadn't posted anything at all for the entire month of May.
Yeah. That's a big boofah in the world of writing~ you're supposed to be regular and consistent with creating content, and blah, blah, blah. Writers are supposed to write, but life happens, you know? And I'm willing to bet most people understand that.
I did write some in my journal and in random notebooks~ just nothing that ever needs to be seen by anyone else's eyeballs. My words seemed raw and vulnerable, and they kept rollings towards a roller coaster of emotional whack-o-ness that was not fit for public display.
To be honest, it just felt like a downer to keep going on about things that sucked~ like my words were stuck on worries and stresses and things I really had no control over. Not where I wanted to be and certainly not anywhere I wanted to invite others.
Writing can sometimes be one of the most therapeutic ways for me to process, but I really didn't feel like sharing and bumming other people (or myself) out with the hard side of life.
I realized though, that I've been capturing lots and lots of pictures of the awesome stuff that has also been filling my spring days. The good stuff, of which there is plenty.
Photos are intentional reminders of the moments I want to remember~ a symbolic way of choosing joy and love over fear and pain.
So~ this is how I missed May....
As I poured coffee for a zillion customers at the fundraiser brunch this morning, I flashed a toothy smile that I hoped would encourage large tips and said "Happy Easter" more times than I can count.
As the last of the tables were being cleared, someone mentioned to me that the pastor's message of the day had been that Easter isn't so much about "happiness."
Easter is a jumbled and mixed up bunch of feelings of dark and light, incredible hardship and amazing renewal~ kind of like real life. She suggested that wishing a "Joyful Easter" would be more appropriate because while "happy" is on the surface, "joy" runs deep.
In theory, I agree, although "Joyful Easter" just doesn't roll off the tongue so easily. Still, I get it and can relate.
In the weeks that have led up to Easter, I've had to work hard for the things that make me smile because life has been throwing a whole lotta heavy stuff at me at once. It's exhausting keeping up with the work of trying to cling to the joyful things when you're also dealing with stupid drama and the painful side of people and life.
Things like driving van loads of volunteering teenagers 800 miles to do construction work in a homeless village or getting up early to bake scones and serve coffee at a fundraising brunch with these same young people...these things require a good deal of caffeine in the best of times.
But, they also make me smile both inside and out, no matter what else is going on in the world.
So I still think it makes sense to do them as long as I can, even if I'm so tired I could cry ~ because if I let go of the good stuff, then I'm just left holding the cr@p....
So, I have this “real job.” It’s actually a pretty cool one and it came to me in a pretty amazing way. But that story is for another time. For now, the point is just that I’m super happy to be able to support myself and my kids with a pretty flexible schedule and to do it mostly from home.
I’m blessed beyond measure and I know this, but just to clarify, it’s not all sunshine and roses. It takes some creative arranging and discipline (which has not always been my strongest gift) to manage getting the job done and dealing with kids, homeschooling and single mamahood / rural farm girl living with a petting zoo full of animals.
I’m not complaining~ I’m just saying…
Anyhoo~ one of the things that my job requires is monthly trips to the office, which is 175 miles over a winding mountain road to the small coastal town where the company is located. At first, I found myself whining, which was lame, I know, but still I was thinking...
“Oh my gosh~ I have to drive over to the coast every month. How am I gonna figure out what to do with the kids and their transportation and activities and the animals? Waaaahhh, blah, blah, blah."
In the midst of my complaining (side note: I almost referred to my complaining as wanking, because for years, that’s what I thought it meant. But, I was informed by my teens that it has a very different meaning. Oops….That explains the strange looks I’ve gotten when using that term in public. Learning all the time indeed…..) So, I was inspired by something the lovely and wise Marie Forleo said about re-framing our thinking.
I realized “What the heck am I talking about? I get to go to the coast every month....”
Back when I was a cynical teenager, a friend from a Catholic family introduced me to the concept of Lent. I had no interest in the rules of her religion (and neither did she, although she still wore the title) but I did like the idea of the ritual.
Giving up something for 40 days NOT because I was being told to or coerced into it, but because I WANTED TO as part of a spiritual quest and out of respect and honor for something that was bigger than anything I knew....Yep, I wanted in. (.....)
Can someone please explain to me what exactly is the deal with misery and company? I get that complaining is infectious and addictive, but what really surprises me is when misery is an expectation~ when people actually seem to resent others who don't appear to be as unhappy as they should be.
I first noticed this crazy concept a few years ago when my family had been going through some fairly public hard times. Aside from the rocky patch we were in, my offspring and I had been working on our Explore All 50 States Dream for a couple of years.
At one point, we had put together this Pacific Northwest Adventure~ it would take us through Big Foot territory to the Redwoods, to see friends on the Northern California coast, up the entire coast of Oregon, along the Lewis and Clark route, and to visit friends, family and cheesy tourist traps in Seattle and Portland.
We didn't have a lot of time or a huge budget, but with some crazy planning skills and flexibility, we had an amazing 9 day adventure with pouring rain, washed out roads, cheese and ice cream galore and sites that were both historical and hysterical. We slept in tents, in yurts and on couches, and ate out of an ice chest. We saw people we rarely get to, laughed until our bellies ached, got a break from our troubles, continued working toward a big dream, and all around had a wonderful time.
Then, we got home and I posted the pictures on Facebook. Oops.
But, that's what most people do when they have happy things to share, right? Thankfully, most people were happy to see us smiling and having fun, but there were a few (there always are) who felt we should not be enjoying ourselves quite so much. At least not publicly under the circumstances. (.........)
The first few days of a new year always have such hope, such promise. By a week into it (or by the 3rd day) I know a lot of people are already feeling over it with the idea of anything new or different happening.
I may be a little late to the party but personally, I'm feeling like my 2014 scheme fest has just begun, and I'm super excited about all the possibilities.
I've been spending a good deal of time playing with ideas and dreams~ looking back and releasing, looking forward and brainstorming. It's been a bit yo yo-ish, but in a pleasant and rhythmic way rather than a spastic one.
Since I really like crazily scribbling my schemes onto paper, preferably in rainbow colors, and often accompanied by pictures, I've been having a fantastic time playing in my 2014 Amazing Life Planner. I also did a wall spread of 2014 calendar pages, and am starting to sticky note in dates and details.
There's just something about writing stuff down that seems to make things more likely to happen. It's crazy. For example, one thing I put on the list of things I'd like to do in 2014 was to get a disco ball. They're shiny and fun, and I've wanted one to spruce up my chicken coop for years.
Well, a day or so after I wrote it down, not one, but two came into my life. They weren't anything that had graced the ceiling of a swanky night club, but rather 2 small Christmas tree ornaments that I knew needed to be liberated from a future of being attacked by a friend's cat. (I left a note explaining that I took them, and was pretty sure the friend would be OK with it. They were. Plus, they had like 20 more, so it's not like there was a shortage.)
Neither disco ball is going to go in to the hen house because I decided I really would rather demolish that coop and get a new one, and for now, I'd rather they spread the shiny light around my bedroom and my car. Or, I may wear them as earrings at some point, I'm not sure.
Yes, my disco balls are little and silly, but the point for me, was that it happened~ not in the way I might have envisioned, but nevertheless, I got what I hoped for, and more even! And I'm noticing that this kind of thing seems to happen in lots of ways, and in things much bigger than tiny sparkly decorations.
Setting intentions, then being open to the way things unfold without getting hung up on an exact details can lead to some amazing positive results.
Ahhh, the madness of Christmas has passed, and it’s time to exhale. Oh, and celebrate if you made it through the season without punching anyone!
For me, the week between Christmas and New Years Eve typically features a couple of traditions. And by traditions, I mean variations on a similar theme~ I’ve never actually managed to do the same thing twice exactly.
The first thing I like to get going is a big old clean out in the form of Boxing Day. I once looked up the actual meaning of the holiday, but unfortunately, I have since sort of forgotten.
Back when I wasn’t working as many jobs and could focus more efforts on being a homeschooling mamacita extraordinaire, I would have looked up the history of the day again, maybe even had a nice little family lesson about it.
These days, I'm just acknowledging that I'll likely forget again by next year anyway, so what really matters for me personally is my own version of the day that has evolved. That’s kind of my stance on holidays in general. Everyone does it a little differently, and that’s OK.
In theory, Boxing Day happens the day after Christmas. In reality, for me at least, it happens over the course of a few days~ like Boxing Week.
The deal for us is that my family and I go on a crazy rampage through the house, gutting cabinets and drawers and finding all sorts of stuff that we no longer want or need, and box (or bag) it up to go away. The main thing is that lots of "stuff" leaves our lives, and that makes us feel lighter and more free. And that’s a good thing. A really good thing.
The process isn't always easy (OK, it probably never is easy because it involves actual work in addition to letting go, and is mixed in with house cleaning~ this is hard stuff, but it's worth it, I swear.)
As I head into Boxing Weekend here in the Zesty household, I'm doing what I can in an attempt to make it through without tears. Here's my Game Plan.
1) I'm Trying to be Prepared.
That means plenty of caffeine for me and plenty of snacks for everyone.
It also helps to have supplies like separate bags or boxes because not all the stuff we're getting rid of goes in the same category, and I don't want to re-sort. Some stuff we give away, some we throw away, and some we recycle. Sometimes I'm amazed at the perfectly good things people throw away. On the other hand, no matter how much I hate contributing to the landfill, I'm aware that nobody wants stuff like ratty old socks and undies. I still occasionally have to remind my Boy Child that these items go in the trash, not the donation box.
2) I'm Trying to Set Limits
Sometimes I set a mental time limit~ like a 20 minute boogie in my room, or sometimes I aim for a particular space~ like one kitchen cabinet. Other times, I get all crazy and want to keep going until the trash and recycling cans are packed to the rim and my car is full of donations.
Speaking of crazy, sometimes (OK, maybe many times) I turn into a highly caffeinated she-banshee with some sort of attention deficit / anger management disorder when tackling large projects. I'm hoping that this new self awareness of the fact that I lean towards craziness when in the midst of such things will help keep my scary parts at bay.
I'm also thinking of pulling out my Sacred Space Clearing Kit to get me in the right frame of mind.
That brings me to #3.
3) I'm Trying to be Understanding
Some years my kids are more on board with the process than others, and one kid is a bit of a pack rat. I have to work around and respect that. It’s a delicate balance sometimes, and can require strategic timing and phrasing.
It can also require some serious attempts at understanding, especially with things like “collectible” cereal box or gum wrapper collections that might be accidentally mistaken as garbage or recycling.
In any case, my own stuff and the general accumulation of bits and pieces in communal areas usually give me plenty to work on and get rid of. When the kids see clarity happening elsewhere, they often jump in.
Oh, it's also important to remind myself that during this process, things often look much worse before they look better. I have to have faith.
Hopefully, my home will feel a little more like a Haven when I'm done with this madness. I'm sure it will at least feel a little less cluttered going into the New Year. Now if only I knew how to accomplish that with my mind.
In any case, wish me luck~ I'm going in!!!!
I recently did a little flipping out. OK, maybe this isn't news because I kind of have little flip out episodes on a semi regular basis, BUT they are usually internal and aimed at myself (although the people in close proximity may witness them and wonder, but anyway....)
External flipping out is usually reserved for people who are in some way or another causing me a large amount of grief, but the flip out episode I'm referring to here revolved around a friend that I normally find very enjoyable, and have no desire whatsoever to flip on. That's what was so weird about it.
It started off as girlfriendly chit chat, and somehow rolled into a conversation with deep and penetrating questions about all sorts of future stuff. The kind of stuff that I really have no idea about, and very little control over. The kind of stuff that I get heart palpitations if I think about too intensely. Big Stuff.
And that flipped me out.
I'm not sure exactly why, but somehow the whole conversation had me feeling (and possibly sort of acting) like a wild caged animal. I know that Dear Friend didn't mean to make me feel trapped with her inquiries. She just has a mind that wants to be prepared for any potentially problematic outcomes, to have a master big picture plan with fine details on the far off horizon.
But, the reality seems to be that there are some things you just can't be prepared for. The far off horizon has so many things that are not in the least bit in my control that it's quite honestly terrifying.
I probably freaked out because I'm just starting to get used to this idea that a whole heck of a lotta things are not in my realm of control by any means. Like, not at all.
I can only (and barely) control my own actions, and life is complicated and full of all sorts of other people and problems. No matter how much I want to wrangle them into my way of being, there's only so much I can do.
If there's one thing I've learned in the last couple of roller coaster years, it's that I really don't have any idea of exactly how the details of the future will unfold. But even so, things usually turn out pretty freaking well.
It's Thanksgiving, and I have oh so much to be thankful for this year..
There are folks who will, for some reason I cannot possibly understand, take the gratitude portion out the name of the lone holiday in America with such a focus, and instead refer to it as "Turkey Day." Please don't.
It's Thanksgiving, that name implies Giving Thanks~ yes, most of us will gorge ourselves on turkey, but I hope that the main point is celebrating with people we love and being grateful for all that we have. And most of us have an awful lot.
While the "Turkey Day" reference used to make me feel like my head was going to pop from frustration, I'm learning to let go. I don't need to feel personally affronted by the stripping the holiday of the meaning it's name. Instead, I should probably quit complaining on a holiday about gratefulness, and just focus on my own blessings.
I mentioned that there are a bunch, right?
So much has happened over the last year that has shown me that my kids and I are loved and supported big time, that the world is full of wonderfully kind people, that being open and dreaming pays off, and that we are totally capable of finding ways to pull off all kinds of awesomeness.
Who is Zesty Mom?
I'm an Artist, Writer, Funschooling Facilitator, Empowered Living Advocate, Wanna-be Organic Gardening Foodie, Travel Loving Life Explorer, Former Goat Herding Chicken Lady, and Full Time Mamacita Extraordinaire to a Couple of Cage Free Kids.
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