Thursday, March 31, 2011

It's In The Cards

One of my Dad's favorite sayings was Piss Or Get Off The Pot. He hauled that one out most often when my parents and my Grandma and Grandpa Black were playing euchre together. When it was someone's move and they were hemming and hawing over which card to use, or when they were sandbagging (holding back on their power cards), inevitably Dad would scoff and say, "F'Chris'sakes, Mother... piss or get off the pot!"

It meant, rather obviously, "It's your move. Get on with it already."

Yesterday as I was mulling over a rather hefty decision, I heard my Dad's voice in my head. "Oh, f'Chris'sakes, Punkin... piss or get off the pot!" It was exactly what I needed to hear. My own indecision was gluing my feet to the floor and I needed to get unstuck fast. Right or wrong, I needed to take a step in some direction.

Indecision is a killer and I'm a master of over-pondering things. I will ruminate myself right into a cocoon. And where do cocoons go? Nowhere. Yeah yeah yeah... eventually they turn into beautiful butterflies that flit ever so gracefully in the morning sun... that's not what I'm talking about. I'm talking about being in a place so safe and tight that I'm oblivious to my life. Besides, some cocoons get plucked up by sticky-fingered kids and tossed in mason jars to suffocate, forgotten on a shelf.

Phantom Dad was saying, "This is your hand, these are your cards. You're going to have to play one of them. Win or lose, choose the card. Piss or get off the pot."

Cards are about taking chances while paying attention. Even the keenest card shark doesn't win every game. But no one ever won anything by walking away from the table.

Ante up. My nickel's in.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Listen Up

We break each other when we don't listen. Our spirits wither when we go unheard. There are hundreds of ways to listen. Ears aren't the only requirement. Sometimes they're not required at all. We need to listen with all of our senses.

I have two different reactions when I feel I'm not being heard. I either retreat or I get angry and inappropriate. Either reaction is a disservice to everyone involved. As a child I felt I was never heard. Worse, I felt there was no one who would or could listen. Most of my early life was spent retreating and being very angry at myself.

I still have difficulty talking sometimes. I don't feel I'm well represented when I use speech to convey my thoughts and feelings. I have learned to "talk" in other ways. I write, I make art, I give gifts, I feed people, I shake my head, roll my eyes, sigh, you name it. Everything I do is a type of language, and as a friend of mine once dubbed me, I am the "Queen of Not So Subtle Hints." The people in my life who've been able to put up with me the longest are the ones who listen to all of that.

I'm guilty of not listening to others with all my senses. But I'm learning.

Not long ago I was sitting on the sofa reading. Steve did some mundane task that I normally do. Feeling guilty, I jumped up and said, "You don't need to do that!" He quietly replied, "I know I don't need to." That scenario has happened a few times in our relationship. However, that time I heard what he was really saying.

What he was really saying was, "I love you. I love watching you be completely wrapped up in what you're doing. Take a break from the mundane stuff that you always so willingly do and enjoy your book." So, rather than get defensive over some self-manifested guilt, I wrapped my arms around him from behind and said, "I love you too."

It's easy when someone blows up at us to simply react. It would be better to stop for a minute and think about possible reasons for such a strong reaction. It would be better to listen to what they're not saying. We all need a voice of reason in the chaos. We all need a place of calm. We all need, in some way, someone who has the presence of mind to say to us, "Tell me. I'm listening."

Steve is slowly teaching me how to talk - he doesn't know this. But I feel safe with him. I know that when I say, in whatever way I manage to say it, "I need you to listen" that he will listen. It is one of the most beautiful things about him. He "hears" everything. I realize how fortunate I am to have someone like this in my life. I also realize that it is my job to learn from his example.

So I'm learning to listen, to really hear others. Couldn't we all? Underneath all of our blustering don't we really just want to get along? Don't we really just want some validation that we're okay human beings? Don't we really want some reason and acceptance?

It all goes together. If we really listen, we really know how to respond appropriately. When we respond appropriately, we're more likely to be heard.

I don't know if I've adequately said what I intended to say with this piece... but...

Listen. Heal. Love.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Alpha Betchya

You'd think I'd get enough of challenges. Such is not the case with this particular wordy gypsy. Beginning Friday, April 1st (no foolin'!), I'm going to be joining Lee and the gang over at Tossing It Out (here) for the A to Z Blogging Challenge. The idea is to blog every day of the week but Sunday, using a letter of the alphabet as inspiration each day. So, lucky you... you get to read my blogs on Saturdays for the month of April. Lucky me. I get to come up with an extra day of writing. I'm actually pretty excited about it. It speaks to my lexical wackiness.

Words have long been what anchors me. If I can find a word for what I'm feeling, or a way to describe it, I'm okay. I don't mind digging for understanding of other things, but when I flail (and fail) to describe my own path, I tend to get really frustrated. This is why I'm a better writer than a talker. Words get tangled when they leave my lips - if they even make it that far, but they flow from my fingers. I've tried to analyze that, I've tried to change that, and it's gotten a tiny bit better over the years as I've become more confident in my own skin, but I still don't feel like I've made much of a dent.

I think that's why art appeals to me so much. As my friend Jessica and I have concurred, it speaks where words fail. Even when the end product may not be quite what I envisioned, the act of creating art is a voice in and of itself. It's like mindless humming... making music just for the sake of making music. It's like dancing without a beat.

I was one of those strange kids who actually liked it when a word didn't start with the letter it sounded like it should start with. Example: I love that phonetic doesn't start with an "f". From there came digging into the word to find out its origin, from there came a love for other languages. From there came the notion that no matter where we're from or how we speak, we're not all so very different. Words united me with the world.

So, Barb goes Alpha - Zed... it'll be like a very twisted month on Sesame Street. Fasten your seatbelts.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Just Peachy

Ever have someone utter a single phrase that grabs you by the arm and hauls you to a particular moment in time? Suddenly you find yourself straddling that chasm between now and then, thinking, "Oh shit, oh dear. I thought I'd safely shelved this particular moment."

That happened to me the other day. My dear friend Jacob made the comment, "I've come to just treasure the experience of life...all of all its raw, windswept, sunrise-laden, barefoot shit and splendor ... like slicing your tongue on the razor hidden inside the juicy peach." (By the way, Jacob writes here.)

I know that razor-laden juicy peach all too well. As soon as I read that line, I was back in October 2006. I was working at my accounting job, head buried in paper work. My boss walked in and said, "Hey, did you know that John's out in the parking lot?" "No," I said, thinking that maybe he was there to take me to dinner after work. "But what a nice surprise!" I took off my phone headset, set down my pen, and wandered out to the parking lot. I walked up to the driver's side of the truck, smiling as I approached. My smile did a back flip as soon as I saw John's face. I tasted peaches and blood as I heard him say with emotionally charged flatness, "Cancer. I'm so sorry, Baby."

Amazing how one sentence, both then and now, can suddenly leave me awash in tears.

Fucking spinning dime, this life.

And, the good news: it always spins back around again. If you can hold on through the whirl, it'll come back to good. At least for a while.

The current peach is juicy and sweet and void of any tell-tale metallic or coppery taste. I'm savoring it for all it's worth, because I know - not in a doomsday way, but in a this-is-how-life-is way - I know that eventually I'll be blinking again and trying to spit out some nasty surprise in hopes of just making it go away.

When the dime, circa October 2006, spun back around to good again, nearly three years had gone by. It was July 2009, a hot summer day. The sun had come up with such elegant beauty that I felt a loss at having no one to share it with. I thought, "Geez, but it would be nice to sit here on the deck, sipping bean, holding someone's hand and saying, 'Ain't that pretty?'" So I posted a simple personal ad that said something like, "Sure is a pretty day, I'd love to find someone to share the beauty." And this guy Steve responded to the ad almost immediately, sending a picture of my mountain, aglow in... huh... peachy colors... as the sun came up behind it, and as if he was answering my original thought, wrote, "It sure is." So it began. In an instant, the dime had swung back around.

And it continues to spin. This is my fearful knowledge.

Those two sides of the coin are so clear in my mind. Without one, there could not be the other.

So, like Jacob, I continue to rest on the oh, so eloquent words of Rilke*: "Let everything happen to you: beauty and terror. Just keep going. No feeling is final."

Enjoy the peach while you can. Enjoy the hell out of it.

*Rainier Maria Rilke, Love Poems to God

Friday, March 25, 2011

20 Minutes of Insanity: Day Nine

Wading In

Last day of this 20 minute insanity. Hoo-freakin'-RAY! I'm ready to be done. What have I learned? I'm not entirely sure. I guess most importantly I've learned that the control freak within me doesn't like this at all. However, I've also learned that she can be pushed, aside at least for a while. She never does really shut up though.

Recently a group of friends and I banded together to help out another friend. I think it's appropriate to say that we blew her socks off. It was such a fun thing to do, and I was reminded again of just how good it feels to reach out and do something for someone else without any expectation in return. It's what we're here for. It's what friends are for. If we can't impact each other's life and force a change in a positive direction, why even wake up in the morning? It's humbling.

Plus, we got to be sneaky and pull it off without her knowing anything about it until the love bomb got dropped on her. Using cleverness for good (and never ever for evil) is always a blast.

Yesterday I met a woman who is saying a slow goodbye to her young, dying son. I recognized the resigned sorrow in her eyes. I remember seeing that in my own eyes not so very long ago. Once again I was impressed with how fast life can change, both for the bad and for the good. Once again I was impressed with how truly graced my life is right now.

Friends have said, "Enjoy it. You've paid your debt in so many ways." And yet. I don't see the good as a payback for the bad. I've learned to accept the good, but I can't believe that it was something owed to me. What I do think is that because of the good, I owe a further debt to spread good. How dare I be complacent and think, "Well, isn't this nifty for me?! Too bad for the rest of you." Karma works in both directions, my friends. And karma never ever sleeps. Karma doesn't take so much as a coffee break.

And then, late last night, I heard, "You're beautiful, and I love you just the way you are. Thank you for being you, and for being here with me." Again, so humbling. Isn't it interesting... when I heard negative things (or when I thought I was hearing negative things), I never wanted to change, never wanted to strive for better. But, when I hear good things it makes me want to strive to keep up that standard, to be worthy of that kind of accolade.

If we were kinder and more loving to each other, just think how we'd all bloom. Yes. Bloom. As trite as it might sound, think about it. Sure, there are plants that can grow from cracks in the concrete, and there is beauty in that, no question. But think how beautiful a field of flowers looks, having been bathed in sunshine, whispered to by the rain, caressed by the breeze. We humans need that too. We need to know we are loved just because we are.

I have a wealth of things within me. If I'm different from anyone else, it's because I'm no longer willing to lock that wealth away. When we keep our true selves in a vault, we not only do a disservice to ourselves, but to others. Other people need us, desperately need us, to be who we are to our fullest potential. Would you invite someone over for dinner and say, "Well... here are the potatoes. I didn't bother with the rest of the meal, so you'll just have to deal with it." No, of course not. You'd want them to leave the table full and happy and having partaken of the best of all flavors. Sharing yourself with someone is no different. Sure, maybe all by itself that potato is kind of boring, but add a little butter or sour cream and it sings.

I'm making myself hungry. You get the idea.

Ahhhh... the timer just dinged. And so this insane little journey comes to an end. Thank you everyone for hanging with me through it, and for all of your kind comments. I promise, I will never put either of us through this again!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

20 Minutes of Insanity: Day Eight

Tres Trees


I've been walking every day this week (so far). Yay me. On my trek through the neighborhood, I go past a completely fenced in yard. Except for the driveway part, there are thick shrubs that run along the length of the front of the fence. Behind said fence lives an obnoxious pug. I say obnoxious pug like that's not even redundant. It is. Half-assed apologies to all you pug lovers out there, but I just can't stand those mouth-breathing alien pretending-to-be-dog rodents.

It's always at the end of the driveway to greet me. Always with that snorky breathing noise. Once I'm close enough, I say, "You're not even a real dog." Relax, people. It's as close as I get to animal cruelty. Then I can hear the thing breathing as it follows (from behind the bushes and the fence) the sound of my footsteps along the length of the yard. It sounds like Forest Gump imitating his new principal's sex noises. ("Your Mamma sure does care about your education, son!") It's a serial breather and I always march on feeling like I've been stalked by something... well... something rePUGnant. Laugh. You know you want to.

I've slowly been sorting through my 1000 new (to me) stamps. It's like a little bit of Christmas every day. I have so many ideas in my head that I barely know where to begin. What I should begin with is doing a little bit of reorganization in my studio though. It still hasn't recovered fully from the holidays.

I've sold three paintings in the last 24 hours. Blows me away that people want my stuff on their walls. Then again, maybe they're just weary of the standard issue dart boards. Okay. Yeah, yeah. No self-deprecation allowed.

I also have a new-ish friend interested in doing some collaborating with me at one of the local summer markets. Exciting times! I've really gotta organize the studio.

What else, what else....

I'm unusually animated for this time of morning. I feel energized, like the bean was beamed into me while I was still asleep. There's an idea. I'm always slightly jealous of people who can wake up and be immediately, fully awake and coherent. I'm a morning person, but I just don't jump right into it. I kind of leave the chain on the door and take a peek before I let the day in.

Maybe it's the handful of sunflower seeds. They excite my chipmunk proclivities. But I'm not sure I...

*ding ding ding* ... time's up... and... "publish post"

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

20 Minutes of Insanity: Day Seven

Dragon In The Dark

The first day of any new challenge is hard. The second day is harder. I really wanted to not go walking yesterday. The inner, petulant Barb kept muttering as I was lacing up my shoes, saying things like, "Fuck this! Why aren't there any doritos in this house?!" I made her walk anyway. The cool thing about walking outside as opposed to on a treadmill, is that once you're out and moving, it's very difficult to quit. I mean... ya gotta get home somehow, right? So, I did my half hour. Then to punish that inner whiny bitch, I walked up and down the steps at home 10 times.

As I was walking toward the school parking lot, I watched a mother teaching her son how to ride a bike. First she hung on to the back of the seat and ran with him. Then she let go. As he kept pedalling and staying upright, she said, "You're doing it!" He grinned and said, "I'm doing....*crash!*

He jumped up and said, "I'm okay." Then with a little more conviction and excitement, "Hey! I'm okay!!" And so the lad learned that wonderful truth that falling down is not a death sentence. Unless you stay there. He got back on the bike and with his mom's help, got rolling again. She let go. This time she didn't say anything, but stood where she was as he wheeled away. He got to the end of the parking lot and came to a wobbly stop. He looked around, surprised that his mother wasn't standing near by, then spotted her standing near the other end of the lot. "Mom!" he hollered. "Mom! I did it!"

As I walked near them (cut through the lot, then up the trail that runs along the field and our place), I grinned at the kid and said, "Well done!" He beamed. It's not often you see people beam any more. What ever happened to beaming?

*clackityclackityclackity* I need to trim my fingernails. Twenty minutes of clackity is not good for my mental health. Neither is my internal editor screaming at me to use spell check when she knows full well that it isn't a part of this exercise. She's also hating that she's not allowed to use the dictionary or thesaurus. For the first time in two years I'm looking forward to Friday.

Last night he caught me up in his arms as I came out of the bathroom from brushing my teeth before bed. He held me, sniffed my hair and said, "Mmmm. Flower Girl." And then, still holding me, "I'm spoiled. You take good care of me." I tried to laugh it off, "All I do is laundry and dishes..." He said again, "You take good care of me." I hope so.

I really am terrible about taking a compliment. I bug everyone else about being gracious, but that's because I recognize my own failure in their "aw shucks" dirt scuffing approach to receiving praise. But I'm the worst of the bunch.

*clackityclackityclackity* Agh! Clear evidence that I haven't been playing the piano lately either. The longer fingernails, that is.

But I was about to say...

*ding ding ding* ... time's up... and... "publish post"

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

20 Minutes of Insanity: Day Six

Shadow Land
Tribute to the Japanese people
who endured the earthquake and tsunami
of March 2011

So, yesterday morning I laced up my new walking shoes and hit the sidewalk. I only hit it for 30 minutes, but when your carcass is as out of shape as mine is, that is quite an accomplishment. I was very pleased with my wheezy self.

I was industrious yesterday. More than usual, at least. I got all the laundry done (five loads worth - where the hell does all that dirty stuff come from?!), managed to put some of my "new" stamps away, cleaned the kitchen, made chicken enchilladas (yum!), and I don't know what else. But I was busy all day. Oh, well... I guess you could also include writing and art in that list. Duh.

I managed to paper cut... well, no... aluminum foil cut the pad of my right index finger. Of course, I'm right handed. Of course, it's in a spot where it constantly gets abused. Typing is an interesting venture with one finger out of commission and considering that I'm not a hunt-n-peck typer. It's maddening. And it slows me down. I'm used to typing just about as fast as I can talk. Thankfully, I'm not a fast talker.

I find it interesting - oh, total subject change, by the way - I find it interesting that those of use who are strong, who are there for others, who shoulder heavy loads... we don't cut ourselves any slack when the going gets rough. How dare we show a softer side? How dare we admit to any frailty? It's bullshit, but I've noticed that it's how we all opperate... we, the strong. I'm pondering this because I have some people in my life who are having to tred a fairly rocky path just now and it's really difficult to make them say anything past, "I'm fine" when I ask how they're holding up. And I can handle that because I'm the same way. At least I recognize them and can smile and say, "Okay, Bullshitter... you know where I am when you need me."

But really. How long do you let the wax burn your hand befor you wise up, blow the candle out, and just sit in the dark for a little bit? We (and I am definitely part of that collective) are so unforgiving of ourselves for hatching an emotion.

Speaking of! What the fuck is with people apologizing for crying?! I see it almost every time someone cries, whether on TV or in real life, or whatever. Tears start falling and the first thing the person says is, "I'm sorry...." Why, oh why do we apologize for our tears? Why is that seen as such a sign of weakness?

I think tears (unless they're used as a manipulation) are a type of fortitude. It's our emotional way of saying, this is as far as I go. This is the fissure where I stop. It's time to reassess and regroup. So tell me, what it wrong with that?

We never apologize for laughing... well some of us have to because "we" (yeah, okay, it's all on me) have a bad penchant for laughing at the most inappropriate times.

But tears. We need to cry. We need that release. Someone once told me, "I don't like to cry because I think I'm ugly when I cry." What a horrible way to feel. How did we all end up so warped?!

Cry if you need to. It doesn't

*ding ding ding* ... time's up... and... "publish post"

Monday, March 21, 2011

20 Minutes of Insanity: Day Five

Half Shadow

I woke myself up this morning by hollering, "Okay!" I was hollering at Steve who had left half an hour earlier. Dream Steve had yet to leave though and was yelling at me from the kitchen, "Hey Hunny... want me to take this hen out to thaw for dinner?" And I replied to the phantom question, and my own voice woke me up. Way to go Barb.

I don't even like Cornish game hens. They're little frozen hockey puck sized pretend chickens. Bleh. Oh, and we don't ever buy them either, so how that whole idea entered into my dream, I've no idea.

Yes, I did. I bought some new walking shoes on Saturday. My first new pair of shoes in three years. Yippee! I'm excited to start with my new exercise regime and get out there and hoof it. Of course, it's going to be rainy today, but last I checked I wasn't made of anything that melts in the rain. Truth be told, I love walking in the rain.

I also got together with my pal Shelley and liberated a b'zillion rubber stamps from her clutches. So, I have new stamps to play with too. I'm holding myself to sorting through them first though. And somehow I'll have to make/find new space in my studio. I wonder if I can hang stamps from the ceiling somehow....?

I have to come up with several new designs, so my newly adopted stamps will come in very handy. It's going to be a busy week. And where the hell did all this dirty laundry come from?! I could swear that other people sneak in, steal our clothes, wear them, then bring them back. So unfair.

Anyway, it was a lovely weekend. The weather was very Spring-y here in my quadrant. It was actually clear enough at night for us to marvel at the 'super moon'. I got to spend the whole weekend with Steve mostly just hanging out, relaxing (napping), snuggling, loving.

I'm deciding that I don't like timed typing. It makes me nervous. Much like being on video and not being able to ignore the existence of the camera, I can't forget that the timer is there. I either check the thing, wishing that the time was up already, or I check the thing wondering if I have enough time left to spit out what I want to say. The art version of immersion is much more fun.

Light is beginning to steal across the sky. I love this time of day. Everything new all over again.

That's really all I have to report today, and I still have three minutes to waste... I mean... write. I'm just not beaned up enough to get really random this morning. And I'm fairly content, so I'm a bit reluctant to stir my own self up.

Oh, one thing. There are some really wonderful people in the world and I'm honored to know so many of them. I know I say it all the time, but I really, truly have some amazing people in my life.

And, ain't that a glorious way to start a new week? I think so...

...tick, tick, tick, tick, tick....

*ding ding ding* ... time's up... and... "publish post"

Friday, March 18, 2011

20 Minutes of Insanity: Day Four

Self Portrait in Twenty Minutes

Image in place, fuzzy bathrobe, bean, whacky hair... check, check, check. Houston, we're good to go.

I'm going to try something that Craig (guy I got this blogging idea from) said he wanted to try. It's Friday and I feel like kicking it up a notch. So. I'm about to turn of the monitor and really go at this free-style? You ready? I'm ready.


whoa... dark in here... I type the way I play piano. By not looking down at my hands and only looking at the music in front of me, or in this case, the monirot as the words spackle the page...

now all I can see is a black rectangle... when you stare into the abyss, the abyss stares back at you. Who said that? Neistchzee? I'm sure I completely fucked up his name, but I'm not even going to try if I can't see it. Knee Chi. Good enough for guvmint work.

So there's this black abyss and it is staring back at me. My own ghosty image is staring back at me. Interesting. It's dark in this room too. The only light is coming from abov the stove in the kitchen.

I'm feeling oddly secure, but... naked. Naked is ugly. This is a good as any time for me to share what's been really srtong on my mind for the past week or so. Which is my weight. It's bad. I need to do somethign about it. asap

I'm horribly overweight. I have been all my life. I was a chubby kid. I've been on countless diets and all that fuckola. I was actually doing really well before I met Steve, and then we got together and started nesting. Back to where I started. fuck

The best I was was 12 years ago when I was within 45 pounds of normal weight. I felt so good. I want that back.

It's a long road from now. I've got at least 120 total to lose. I know what to do I know how to do it I just need to do it. Everything else in my life is what I want it to be, so I have no excuse to not work on this issue. Besides, excuses are what got mehere right?right

it's not that it matters to me so much how I look. I'm too old to give half a rat's ass bout that. but I care how I feel and I care how healthy I am.

And since we're sitting here talknig in the dark? I want to feel better about having Steve's hands on me...there i said it. That was hard to do. But as much as I enjoy his touch, there is always this underyling guilt that it's not as enjoyable for him as it could be which makes it not as enjoyable for me. and... fucking hell. I already enjoy it quite a bit. I want greatness though. I want unmitigated awesomely wild screamin...

yeah okay...

I just want to feel better.

How's my typnig? Call 1800screwit. I don't like typing crazy manic typing in the dark.

anyway. Monday I begin. This weekend we're going shopping (he doesn't know yet) for my new walking sheos and healthful food. I'm also goign to sit him down and talk to him about all this. I know how supportive he will be. He's such a good man and he only wants the very best for me. which means he want's what I feelis the very best for me. How did I get so fortunate?

It iwll be a tearful talk. This is not an easy subject for me.

time up

monitor back on and... publish post (I'm afraid to look!)

Thursday, March 17, 2011

20 Minutes of Insanity: Day Three

Here we are again. Partial cup of bean, whacky hair and fuzzy bathrobe, and fragmenting dreams. Antelopes pranced on the lawn as my friend Dave dealt cards wayyyyyy too slowly. C'mon, Dave. Step it up. This is my hand, I know it. Sound of Steve's truck pulling away as I ante up.

Manic. That's the word I was looking for yesterday. I finished writing and felt like I just played Russell Crow. Playing John (was his name John?) Whatsisname in Beautiful Mind. You know. That wiggling the fingers thing as he mutters string after string of mathmatecal equations? That's how I felt.

I think it's apropos that I'm ... not conquering... attempting this crazy random blogging during the week of the biggest full moon in years. I'm a regular Luna-tic. A full moon junkie. Howwwwwwwwwwl. If I could inject the feeling I get during a full moon, I would. Maybe without the crazy horny side effects. Then again, maybe not. Howwwwwwwwwwwl!

I did the above card in 20 minutes. It was a mad dash, but I made it. Only just. I was gluing the last piece in place as the timer dingalinged. Tomorrow I attempt watercolor and ink. Picasso can probably rest safely.

I expected to feel freed writing like this. I don't. I just feel. Unchained. Like the screaming wild toddler that actually does want some rules.

It's funny. Sad funny. Good parents constantly question their ability to parent. Bad parents don't give a monkey fuck. I know wonderful parents who talk to me in tears, hoping that they're not damaging their children some how. It's a constant struggle with them to feel like they have any kind of balance with their kids. Bad parents... I don't know if it's that they don't care, or just that they feel so overwhelmed they don't know how to care. Love your children. Love them in the best ways possible. Ask them if they feel loved. I ask people I love if they feel it from me. "Do you feel loved? Yes? Good."

Too deep. Come back, Barb. Fuzzy bathrobe, bean, whacky hair...

I also dreamed of the sea. It was teal green and went on forever against the gray sky. So quiet, the roaring waves. I bent to pick up a shell and tumbled into the water. Came up sputtering and laughing. And eye to eye with a lobstrosity (sorry Stephen King). I should have been afraid, but I was too giddy. So I stared the damned thing down and made lobstrosity claw motions back at it with my hands. That only made me giggle more.

Steve says I talk in my sleep. Sometimes I sing. I wonder if I make lobstrosity claw movements with my hands too. Take that Mr. Lobstrosity!

Tick, tick, tick...

Why would anyone want to take a drug that makes them feel manic?

The interesting thing about the past two days is that when I've finished writing, I find I have greater physical energy. I actually cleaned the first day. Yesterday I scrubbed the kitchen. Steve's going to wonder what's wrong.

My blue heron friend came back yesterday. He had much of the field/lake to himself. Maybe he thinks of it as a spa, his own personal retreat. He's beautiful. That blue gray color is heartbreakingly lovely. The color of faded dungarees. No one calls them that any more, but I love the word.

Maybe I'll make it my mission in life to bring archaic words back into existence. Oddsbodikins is another one that needs some daylight.

*ding ding ding* ... time's up... and... "publish post"

PS Happy St. Patrick's Day... so shoot me for taking an extra 10 seconds.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

20 Minutes of Insanity: Day Two

First of all, 20 minutes of unplugged art immersion is huge fun! I have decided that 20 minutes is not enough. I need to do this every day, maybe twice a day.

I am groggy and not quite with it, being only 1/2 a cup o' bean into this day. Welcome to Barb in the Morning. It ain't pretty. I make no apologies. The hair is what it is and it stays that way until I'm ready to look in the mirror (at least 2 cups away).

I woke up with an old favorite chant in my head... dromedary, romedary, omedary, medary, edary, dary, ary, ry, y... I heard it as a very young lass. It was uttered by Liza Minelli in some old movie, the Sterile Cuckoo, I think. It's the only thing I remember from the movie. Over the years I've adopted it as my own. It's a wonderful destresser. It's also what I use to think before I speak... it's just long enough to make me reassess and decide whether or not what I'm about to say is appropriate. I have no idea why I woke up with it in my head. Perhaps I was about to open a can of whup-ass on some poor unsuspecting dream fool.

My dreams are like peanut butter. They stick. They take a while to flavor on down and digest properly. I often email in my sleep and that has gotten me in trouble. I swear I've emailed someone and then I hear from them and they say, "So, you never got back to me...." Oops. It's fucking lame to say, "Well... I sleep-emailed you."

Yes, I swear. Often. I censor myself in polite circles, but when I'm just talking, like I am now, stuff flies. It's worse when Steve is around because he's a swearer too. I'm competitive. Even in swearing. What's funny is that I get a little miffed when someone I've never met before swears in front of me. I take it personally, as in, they're acting like they already know me and know my sensibilities. So, I guess it isn't the swearing that bothers me (as if), but the lack of boundaries.

And we all need boundaries.

And I'm nearly famous (hey, I've got 68 followers on this blog) for not having boundaries.

C'est la Barb.

I'm trying not to think of the timer I have set, of time that has maybe passed, or not, this far into my post. I hear myself muttering, "Are we there yet?" Because... this isn't comfortable for me. Not at all. I can be random, and I can babble, but random babbling together makes me twitch. Are we there yet?


I'm wearing my fuzzy blue fleecy bathrobe. It is my blog writing uniform. I've had it for at least 10 years and it's the most comfortable thing I own. No question. It has clouds on it. My fluffy, fuzzy, warm clouded sky bathrobe.

Oy. Nine days of this. What were you thinking?! But. It's good for me, right? I mean, I'm not obsessing about how to best address some issue, or someone else's problem.

I'm an edifier, an enlightener, and an empathic soul. To not deliberately say something that might have some value to someone else is... frightening. I feel responsible when I write? That's so fucked up. I wish I didn't. I wish I could just write like I am now, not caring about how it dents another person's day. But then, I'm not truly not caring because here we are talking about it. I mean, here I am babbling about it.

This is a horrible exercise. I've never tried heavy drugs, but writing like this reminds me of the trip-talkin' tweakers I've met. I caught a bit of Intervention the other day and they were working on getting a tweaker some help. She talked so fast that I really wish they'd had subtitles. I'm a fast reader... I coulda kept up.

*ding ding ding* ... and.... "publish post"

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

20 Minutes of Insanity: Day One

I've been having great fun reading fellow blogger Craig's randomness (here) this past week. He's doing a thing where he writes for 20 minutes and posts without editing - his way of participating in an immersion project that a friend of his is doing. I like that. I need that. I've been way too deep in my own head lately. I spend way too much time writing posts that take maybe 3 minutes to read. I worry over them. I type a paragraph, or sometimes just a sentence, and then pace and ponder, type, pace, ponder, lather, rinse, repeat. It's beginning to feel burdensome. So, I swiped the idea from Craig and I'm goin' with it.

Here's what Craig posted about the idea, "The aim of this project is to let go and to document the experience... it got me to thinking: How would I let myself go? What would I do? ...And then it came to me: I would stop writing deliberately. I would give up proofreading and revising. I would close my eyes and just type. So that’s exactly what I’m going to do. ...I’m going to post at least once a day for a week here, and I’m going to spend no more than 20 minutes on each post. That means I won’t be tweaking words or editing paragraphs like I normally do. I’m just going to plunk away about whatever and click publish."

I need to run wild for a bit, to write for the sole purpose of... of getting it out. So, until the end of next week, that's what I'm going to do. I'll set the timer for 20 minutes and babble away. Then I'll hit post without editing and you'll be able to see just how much of a doofus I can really be.

I'm also going to do that with art - set aside 20 minutes to just get crazy with whatever medium I choose. I'll post pictures of what happens starting tomorrow.

Starting... now.... and.... GO!

I'm feeling very Spring-y lately. There's that vague promise of newness in the air. Things are starting to bud.

Yesterday I cleaned, really cleaned for the first time since... I don't know when. I'm not a great housekeeper, although I can safely say that we don't live in abject filth. I dusted, vacuumed, scrubbed the kitchen floor. I even opened the back slider for about a half an hour to let some fresh air in. It made me feel... lighter.

We had wild heavy rain for two days that almost completely flooded the field out back. I don't mind. I love the rain. What I love even more is what it left behind. A new "pond" that ducks are loving. In turn, I've been loving watching the ducks. The pond has bid welcome to some seagulls too. It makes me feel like I'm at the seashore when I awaken to the sound of the seagulls screeching at each other. Last night as I stood on the deck and watched the ducks floating back and forth and dipping into the water for whatever tasty tidbit they found, an enormous wingspan suddenly filled my peripheral vision. It was a blue heron. The heron landed deftly, knee deep in the new pond. I quietly said, "Dude... there ain't no fish in there! Go back to the river."

It's humpie season again on the river. Humpies are salmon that are distinguished by... da ta da!... a hump on their backs. They show up every two years, fighting their way up river to spawn. It makes me appreciate the relative ease of my sex life.

I also have a pair of hummingbirds building a nest in the blackberries that thrive along the fence line. I marvel at the way they move. What surprised me was how loud their call is. I don't know that I've ever heard hummingbirds call to each other before, or if I did, I wasn't aware of what it was. Mr. Hummingbird has gotten used to seeing me out on the deck. Most mornings he will take the time to perch on a blackberry branch and yammer at me. He's a handsome little fellow, bright green with a magenta colored throat. It won't be long before he has blackberry buds to sip from. I hope he invites friends and relatives.

The bushes also host jays, robins, nuthatches, sparrows, titmouses, chicadees, and... crows. I don't mind the crows. They amuse me, those curious, smart, silly birds.

Every now and then I also get to see eagles and hawks circling overhead. Majestic. Beautiful.

And the frogs are back... cheeping and croaking to each other constantly.

This is my little nature habitat. This is what I stare out at when my mind needs a break. And sometimes when it doesn't.

Life is a beautiful thing to watch.

*ding ding ding* ... and.... "publish post"

Monday, March 14, 2011

Lost Is Space

The other day a friend of mine told me he felt lost. I had to stifle a loudish cheer. Really. Although I feel sad for the anguish that he's going through, hearing that he'd gotten to the "lost" point made my heart lurch in a good way. In a bring-on-the-G-force way.

Before you start thinking that the Bitchy Barb personality has won the day, please allow me to elucidate.

You're in a brand new city. You don't know the streets. You have a vague sense of direction, but the ol' internal compass seems to be spinning a bit wildly. Nothing looks familiar. So what do you do? Why, you lay down on the sidewalk and take up residence for the rest of your life, right?

Ahhhh... see? Although you might be frustrated, exhausted, hungry, and near tears of despair at the very idea of being lost, you keep going. You explore. You maybe stumble across some cool stuff on the way, or some cool people to help you with directions. Ultimately, you find your way.

Being lost is good because it forces action. Being lost is good because at some point we stop for a minute, we take a deep breath, we reassess, and then we move on.

Being lost is good because you discover new things about yourself and your surroundings. You find out what you're made of - strengths and weaknesses.

Being lost is good because it makes you resourceful. The commonplace things become new tools - baseball caps become colanders to collect berries in the woods, rocks become hammers, hands become tumblers to be filled with cool stream water.

Being lost makes you reach out. You see someone walking by, you ask for help. And unless that person is a total ass hat, they're happy to help.

It's useless trying to berate yourself for getting lost in the first place. That was then. The good news is that being lost means that there is a way out.

So, while I hurt for my friend, I'm also nodding in a very affirmative Yeah! sort of way. I know he's not the kind of person to just give up. I know he will find his way to a better place.

By the way, I'm not saying that feeling lost doesn't suck. It does.

But, lost isn't a destination.

Friday, March 11, 2011


Holding Back The Night
I have no words today
my heart heavy with
victims of disaster,
abused children -
a childhood innocence lost,
men who don't know their own worth,
women who don't see their own beauty,
friends who don't understand their importance,
people wounded -
body, soul, & mind.

I hold no comfort
for the lost;
my bag of tricks
is empty.

Who am I to create
in the midst of their chaos?
Who am I to toss hope
like so many gumdrops
onto their tables?
Who am I
to say anything?

I am the mother of all,
longing only to enfold,
keep safe,
keep sane,
keep happy
the entire world.

But I have no words
in my juxtaposingly wonderful life
(deserved, but unexpected)
for the sorrow I feel
at all the damage I see.

I can only offer love.

I fear my love
is not enough.

I offer it anyway.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Gathering Wool

Woolgathering: –noun 1. indulgence in idle fancies and in daydreaming; absentmindedness

Daydreaming gets an unfair bad rap. How many times as a child did I hear, "Quit daydreaming. Concentrate!" I was a highly intelligent kid, but I wasn't the best student in the world because I would allow my mind to wander. At conferences, teachers would tell my Mom that I could be off the charts if only I would apply myself. Often, Mom would walk into a room and find me staring out the window. She would say, "Why haven't you finished (insert chore here)?!" I never had a good enough answer for her.

Sometimes focusing on mundane tasks just seemed... silly.

I still feel that way.

As an adult, I do recognize that there is a time to focus, a time to buckle down and get things done.

However, I also recognize that there is a great need to let one's mind run loose on the playground.

People will spend lots of time and money shopping for just the right foods that will give them proper nutrition. They'll spend lots of money and time working out at a gym to keep in decent physical shape.

So few people take time out to nourish their spirits, to nurture their minds, to fuel their imaginations. Those parts of us need attention and love and exercise too.

When was the last time you stared out the window for no real reason, without contemplating the next thing on your list, and just let your mind drift wherever it wanted to? When was the last time you named the shapes of the clouds (Oh look! There's a rabbit chasing a stegosaurus!)? When was the last time you gave your mind permission to wander - rather than scolding yourself after having caught yourself mid-wander?

We go full speed all day, flitting from one thing to another like gargantuan hummingbirds. And we wonder why we're stressed. Society and progress have pushed us into a higher speed over the years, so much so that we've forgotten how to slow down. We need that slow down. We need a few minutes every day to just let our heads breathe a little.

I do it all the time, especially now. I feel sympathy for those who don't or won't take that kind of time in a day. How do they keep their heads from imploding?! Very often, taking time to let my mind wander leads me to solutions to things anyway. It's like letting your eyes go crossed and blurry and when you re-focus them everything seems sharper. It's like turning the volume down on your favorite song for a few seconds, and then turning it back up again. As you do, you suddenly hear all of the instruments in the band with clarity, rather than just the lead guitar.

Take a mental recess today, and gather ye wool while ye may...
[With apologies to Robbert Herrick (read this!)]

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

All You Need Is Love (& 60 Seconds)

Who is it? Who is that one person - not the person you most want to say it to, but the person who most needs to hear it from you?

Each of us has one person in our lives who needs to hear us say, "I love you." That's it. Just... I love you. Unconditionally.

If you're like me, you can think of several of those people. Sorry, but today you only get to pick one. This is an exercise in concentration and interconnectivity. I believe that we can make people feel our love from miles and miles away.

Settle down now... this isn't some woowoo gig. It's just me, Barb, trying to spread a little mid-week love.

Maybe it's someone you need to forgive. Maybe it's someone who hasn't heard from you in forever. Maybe it's someone who's just a comfortable fixture in your life and you forget how important it is that they're there. Maybe it's the most difficult person in the world to love, but that connection is there anyway. Maybe it's yourself.

Whoever that person is, say their name aloud, right now, just to fix it in your mind. It's okay to whisper - far be it from me to get anyone in trouble with the man.

Here is the exercise, and it will only take you 60 seconds at most. You can spare that out of your busy schedule, right? Right.

Sit down some place quiet. Close your eyes. Think that person's name, and try to bring an image of their face into your mind. As you picture them, cup their face in your hands. Look them right in the eye and say, "I love you." Don't look away, hold their gaze for a moment.

Do you feel the power in that? I'll bet you a basket of Pilchuck Drive-In onion rings that they felt it too.

Imagine doing that every day, several times a day. Imagine if thousands, no, millions and billions of people all over the world did that, all at the same time.

I have always said that this world will not change without a cataclysmic event. When I've said that, I imagined some epic terrible thing... bombs, plagues, atmospheric interruptions, natural disaster... something that would nearly, if not completely, annihilate humanity. But. What. If... What if the cataclysmic thing is love? Plain old simple love. We all have it in us. It's universal.

I say we get the cataclysm rollin'.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Get Happy

It came at me from two different directions. One person said, rather derisively, "You have such a perfect life." Another said, "I loved hearing you... happy!" What an amazing dichotomy in two different observers. The first made me want to knuckle tap their skull. The second made me want to hug the stuffing out of them.

I don't have a perfect life. Right at the moment, I have a damned good life. I've worked hard to make it so, and I never for a single moment take it for granted.

I am happy. I'm happy because I appreciate the good that is in my life. I'm happy because I choose to be.

That sounds like a platitude, but it isn't. It's an attitude.

For a very long time my life wasn't really working for me. I was one of those who looked at people with "perfect" lives and thought, "Why can't I have what they have?!" But did I really want what they had? No. I only wanted what I didn't have. I wanted some confidence and contentment. I wanted happy.

It took a while for me to figure out that happy was there for the taking, and that happy was only going to be what I made it to be. It took a while for me to figure out that if I wasn't happy, it was up to me to change and make changes.

Happiness comes from within. Another platitude? Another truth. When you look outside yourself for happiness, you might find it, but it will be fleeting. Situations change, people die, children grow up. So, unless you've established it within yourself, that happy will change and die and move on accordingly.

How do you find it within yourself? You start by affirming it. You tell yourself you're worthy of it. You don't allow yourself to get caught up in petty pursuits and ridiculous drama. You accentuate the positive and eliminate the negative. (I've said this before.) It's not going to happen overnight, so don't come to me tomorrow and tell me I'm full of shit (and platitudes). It takes work, and sometimes it is hard work, and it requires constant vigilance. Happiness isn't a lottery that some people win, it is a way of life. I know some incredibly happy poor people and I know some miserable rich people - you see? It's what you have within, not what you have on the outside.

Now. To those of you who pooh-pooh all over another's happiness... shame on you. Shame! What is so twisted and wrong with you, so dark and ugly, that you can't appreciate someone else's joy? Your need to compare lives as if there's a scorecard is... well, at the very least it is counter-productive, but it just plain smells bad. You know what it is? It's a puerile need for attention. Grow up.

I realize that much of this post is a reiteration of things I've already said. I'll keep saying it.

Your happiness matters to me. But I can't make you happy. No one can except you.

Monday, March 7, 2011

That Thing You Do

One of the reasons I dislike social gatherings, especially when they involve people I don't know, is that inevitably someone will ask, "So, what do you do?" Even if they don't ask it of me, if I hear it being asked of someone else, my hackles go up. While I've always been proud of what I do, no matter what the line of work, I abhor the idea that what somebody does becomes what somebody is.

We are much more than our work, even if we are lucky enough (like I currently am) to be doing what we love. Why don't we ever approach someone and ask, "So, what's your passion?" I realize, in some scenarios, that question is a Fast Pass ticket to a sleazy boudoir, but really, it is such a valid question. How better to get to know someone than to ask what their passion in life is? And if it does result in a Fast Pass ticket to a sleazy boudoir, then you probably know everything about that person that is worth knowing and you can move along to someone else. Unless sleazy boudoirs are your thing, in which case, well met!

Can we get back on point now? Thank you.

Ask a friend of mine what she does, and she will likely tell you that she's a loan processor. I know. The title alone is enough to induce coma in a ferret on three espressos. Ask her what her passion is, and she will likely regale you with hilarious stories of her three precocious and adorable children that will have you laughing until you can't breathe any more.

As much as I love what I do, I dread people asking me. When I say, "artist" I either get that mad-cow look that tells me the person thinks all artists are nut jobs (we're not, not all of us... at least not all the time), or I get something rude and stupid like, "and you actually make money off of that?!" (Translation: aren't you looking for a real job?) Or, worse yet, I'm silenced with stories of their second cousin who "does his art thing and has exhibits at a gallery... blahblahblah... and do you ever show your work?" Trust me, buddy, there's more to art than where it gets you.

The thing is, although my art is all me, I am more than my art. Much more. We are all much more than the thing we do. How would your resume read if your employment didn't enter into it at all? I'd much rather know what sets people on fire. Yesterday a friend asked me, "Where do you get your inspiration?" I thought, "Oh, bless his heart... he has no idea what a perfect question I consider that to be."

I always think of it in terms of deciphering what someone's epitaph would be. Does anyone really want it to read: Here lies Bob Forapples - he was an excellent post hole digger? No. That doesn't tell you what made the guy tick. I'd rather know that ol' Bob loved the rush of skydiving, or that his greatest joy was his daughter's laughter, or that a richly colored sunrise made him want to cry. I don't care about what he did for a living, I want to know who he was. I want to know what he did to live.

Let's make a pact, shall we? From now on, instead of asking people "what do you do?" and treating them as though they're merely some bio-fueled machine, how about asking "what do you do to live?"

"What do you do?"
"I'm an office manager."
"Oh. So is my sister. And I think my cousin's nephew's girlfriend." *stares longingly at exit sign*


"What do you love?"
"Bacon! I'm so damned crazy about bacon that I once walked across the Australian Outback on my knees just for a BLT sandwich. Most amazing experience of my life. You should have seen the sunrises... and the sand is the color of..."
*rapt silence*

Friday, March 4, 2011


Night Vision

We are all broken in some way. All of us.

Our brokenness keeps us separate, and alone, and lonely when what we need most is a connection. We feel the need to hide the broken, we feel the need to ignore it and sweep it under a rug. We laugh and play and pretend the broken is Not There.

I'm broken. I glue my broken bits together with paint and ink and paper and writing and music. I'm lucky to be able to do that.

Some of us are only a little bit broken. Some of us are a lot broken.

Yesterday I stumbled onto (into!) the blog of someone who is, at the very least, suffering from some form of psychosis. At first I kind of laughed at her ramblings and rantings. I'll admit, I even thought to myself, "What a flippin' nutcase!" However, as I progressed into her words and the deep darkness of her broken self, I felt a profound sorrow for her. She is a lot broken. I wanted to gather her and glue her back together. Alas, that is not my role at this point in time.

But she didn't ask to be broken. Nobody asks to be broken. Nobody wants to be broken. Nobody wants to be that alone.

Sometimes the broken needs to break a little wider before it can be mended. Don't fear that. It hurts, but don't fear it. It's like my bad leg - the doctor had to make the wound bigger before she could bring it back to good. In some ways, my leg is permanently broken, but it's still there, I can still walk, and I am still alive. Alive, but broken. And that's okay.

What do you do with your broken bits? Because you don't have to stay broken. Nobody has to stay broken. Recognize your brokenness, own it, and find a way to mend it. Please. Make some art - nobody needs to see it. Write about it - nobody has to read it. Find someone to listen - there are people who care, I promise.

We are all broken. But we can find ways to mend.

And, even broken, we are worthy...

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Simple Truth

Less Self

I've been much too deep inside my own head lately. Introspection requires a lot of heavy lifting, and I'm exhausted. I need a vacation, or recess at least - a wild romp on the playground, and wind in my hair.

See. This takes work, people. In fact, it is grueling. It never fails to elicit some rueful laughter and a deep need to reach out in a resounding bitch slap when someone tells me, "You're so strong. You have such insight. You have it so together."

Not hardly. I'm an emotional gallimaufry and 95% of the time I react to things from the depths of that bubbling goo. I mean, I'm certain of about 1¾ things in this life and the rest of the time I'm just winging it, and constantly checking my ass in the mirror.

I think the biggest difference (between me and some others) is that I'm open about it. I talk about it. I write about it. I get the shit out in the daylight where it can at least be shoveled into a neat-ish pile. In fact, even though I used to be supremely guilty of it myself, I don't understand how people can keep everything bottled up and hidden inside. It's impossible to really live that way.

And so, it appears that I'm appreciated for the simple act of lying naked on a surgical table for the world to see.

Sometimes it feels like I'm taking credit for making my own dinner, or doing my own laundry. Y'know? This is just me living. This is just me trying to get along in my own life. This is just me... being.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm off to finger paint.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Who Are You?

Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You.
~Dr. Seuss, born this day 1904

The above quote was waiting for me in my email this morning. It took me a while to stop crying after I'd read it. It was exactly what I needed to hear for so many reasons.

We love to boost our friends. We are cheerleaders in the lives of others, constantly rooting them on. We'll lend a hand or a shoulder as surely as the sun rises each morning. We love to watch them launch, soar, fly.

We don't give ourselves the same consideration. I can't remember the last time I looked in the mirror, smiled big and said, "Yay ME!" I can't remember the last time I told myself, "Don't cry. You're beautiful just the way you are."

I'm guessing there are others.

We are each a gift. We are each a gift, not just in the lives of others, but to ourselves. After all, when the world goes silent, when the lights are off, who are you going to have? Yourself.

And that, friends and neighbors, is why we owe it to ourselves to be the very best that we can be. We don't need to be skinny, or smart, or pretty, or inventive, or creative, or... anything for anyone but ourselves. Being who we need to be for ourselves might sound and even seem selfish, but it isn't. Because when we give that gift of greatness (yes, I said greatness) to ourselves, when we're open to being the epitome of what we were born for, it flows. It floods everything and everyone around us.

Really. Isn't that a whole lot easier than trying to be something for someone else? Trying to be something for someone else almost always fails. Trust me. I'm the poster child on that one.

Think of the emptiness that would have been left in the world had Theodore Geisel never accepted and championed his own role in this life. Every generation I know of has grown up with Dr. Seuss, and everyone I know from young to old can quote something from his impressive body of work.

The world would be empty without you. As it is, the world is at a loss without you being as you as you can be.

Step up, please? We need you. We need you to be yourself and to be a champion of yourself. Mostly we need you to be the you that you were born for.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011


Back in the days of my childhood, there was a split-rail fence that ran along my neighbor's property. Part of the fence divided our backyard and theirs. The challenge was to walk the entire length of the fence. I started out pretty well, but I went wobbly after about thirty feet and fell. I lay there on the ground, looking up at the sunlight coming through the veins in the leaves on bushes, noticing the rich scent of the earth. I wasn't in a hurry to jump back up. Eventually I got up. Eventually I walked the entire fence.

Another time, same backyard. I learned to ice skate the year that Peggy Flemming was an Olympic champion. I wanted to twirl the way that she did. How hard could it be? She made it look so easy. I glided along the ice, flung a leg out and around to turn my body and FWUMP! landed on my back. I lay there, feeling the coldness of the ice seep into me, watching light snow waft down from the clouds, feeling the snowflakes as they fell on my cheeks and melted in a tickley way. I wasn't in a hurry to jump back up. Eventually I got up. Eventually I learned that twirl.

When we fall, we gain fresh perspective.

When we fall, we learn not only our limitations, but we also learn our strengths.

When we fall, we understand that success isn't built on achievement, but on perseverance.

When we fall, we get back up.

We always get back up.

(Thank you to Carla - who writes here - for the inspiration for this post!)