Thursday, June 7, 2018

A Drop in The Ocean

    It has been so long since I've written. So much happening and yet so much seems to feel like the Hamster on a Wheel. Changing jobs, again. Financially insecure, as usual. Still wondering what do I want to be when I grow up (though I doubt that question will ever be answered to my satisfaction). Happily single, mostly. Raging against the Machine, as always.
     In this time of political and social unrest I often feel like my problems are small by comparison. A Drop in the Ocean. But since it is my life the problems loom with the barometric pressure of a thunderstorm. Stepping back and looking at the big picture though, it is easy to see how my problems are intertwined with the problems of the world. The global stresses press down on all of us, creating anxiety and insecurity. We fear where we are going, what our children and grandchildren will be facing if we can't manage to pull back from the brink of causing our own mass extinction.
    Stepping back from the global picture, because again, each of us is a mere drop in the ocean if we look too large, there is nothing I can do at this moment to save a beached whale dying from a belly full of plastic. What I can do, on my very small scale is use less plastic, be responsible for my one little drop. I can't stop gun violence in Chicago, but I can practice peace and love in my little drop. I can't change the climate back to pre-industrial purity, but I can use less plastic, plant for pollinators and wildlife, use water sparingly, find alternatives to toxic products. be responsible for my little drop.
    I see movements all around the globe of small groups doing one small thing. A grass roots company in Kenya that takes discarded flip-flops that wash up on the beach by the thousands and uses them to create beautiful animal sculptures. Surfers who have designed a machine that skims the ocean collecting garbage. Children who make dolls for other children who need that bit of kindness. Volunteers around the world who help feed and care for those in need. Nothing is an insurmountable problem if you break it down into tiny drops.
     In my own life I try to make myself step back from the overwhelming big picture, and break the problems down into drops. Some days it works better than others. There are times that the stress of day to day existence becomes more than I can handle, and I allow myself a breakdown, allow myself to step back from responsibility and reality for a little while. Even then I find my mind starts looking for the avenues of escape, the paths to change, or at least a skinny trail to assess the possibilities of digging myself out of the current dilemma enough to get my head above ground level. Some days all it takes is to go outside and water the plants. Other days it is a monumental effort. But even a small effort is better than despair, better than complacency, and far better than surrendering to what sometimes feels like the inevitable. Few things are inevitable. Small changes can realign the world.
     One thing I do know, even if it is just a Drop in the Ocean, a million drops can be a flood. Be the Drop.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Where To From Here?

    There has been a feeling of impending change lurking over me for far too long. This past year I have tried several paths to change, but each was a dead end. I like to think that this is not failure, but merely a way to learn which path to not take in the future. I have also tried several paths that still have promise, but am not getting any feedback from the feelers I have put out. Now, with my birthday staring me in the face it seems as if the need for change is even more pressing.
    I have changed jobs three times in the last 6 months, with another inevitable change looming. A definite record for me. I do not like job insecurity, but it seems as if it has been a way of life for me for the last decade or more. It's not a comfortable feeling. I keep finding myself  forced into jobs strictly for financial reasons, no altruism or passion involved. I'm hating that. Now I find myself in a job that I like, but that is too unreliable as far as hours go, and is proving to be a bit too hard on my body. I love that it is physical, but apparently my aging infrastructure is less pleased. So, where to now?
    Again, I am being forced to look at the practical: Money and benefits. I need to make a certain amount of money, that is a no-brainer. I also need to regain medical and dental insurance, something that I took for granted forever, until I lost it 3 years ago. It seems that every job that I know I would enjoy comes at low wages, part time, and no benefits. Again, where to now?
    I want to go back to school. I can't really afford to, but the desire is strong. What would I study? Now there is the million dollar question. Plagued with the question, "What do I want to be when I grow up?" I know going to school just for the sake of learning would be awesome, but not practical. Figuring out a reason for an education is eluding me. I know what I like to do. I know that none of it would likely make me a decent living, and definitely wouldn't come with insurance or a retirement plan. So here I am, at a time when I should be thinking, "Gee, only 10 years to retirement." Instead, I am pondering ways to keep afloat, keep my creativity, and keep my soul. I'm too old for this shit.
    Back to the schooling aspect. Instead of bemoaning no money for tuition, and no desire to rack up student loan debt, I am searching out online classes offered for free. Would it get me to a degree? No. But that has never been the actual goal. It's not a priority. Where it might, just might, get me is on a path to figuring out the aforementioned question, "What do I want to be when I grow up?" Of course, my scholastic leanings are more juvenile than intellectual. I find the older I get the more juvenile my tastes. I want to build things, repair things, make cool stuff out of junk. I want to repair bicycles, weld, fix motorcycles and lawnmowers. I want to get paint spattered, and greasy. Most people don't know it but 20+ years ago I looked into the program for Harley mechanics. I wanted to enroll so badly, but the nearest school was Phoenix, Arizona. With kids at home there was no way I could have relocated for 18 months. I don't know where any of this would take me, but there you have it. I want to be a greasemonkey.
    Seriously though. I am formulating a plan. Yes, one that will require the grownup step of getting into the full time with benefits job. But maybe, just maybe, I can figure out how to somehow make it all work. There just isn't enough time in the day for me to do the things that need doing. I get so overwhelmed by all the things, that I do none of the things. I wish I had the financial security of a kid, so I really could focus on what I want to be when I grow up. But, unfortunately, I am the grownup, with the grownup responsibilities, as well as the kid at heart that just wants to know where I am going from here.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Looking For The Positive

    So much going on in the world is massively stressful right now. The news makes my head want to explode: North Korea; Russian hacking; Tax Reform (the rich get richer, the poor get poorer, same shit, different day); the 45th president making cringe-worthy tweets and unscripted remarks on a daily basis; the systematic dismantling of safeguards in our government that protect education, the environment, personal rights; hate crimes on the rise; the continual uncovering of more of the pervasive sexual harassment that has been a staple diet for any woman working in a male dominated workforce; and on and on and on. I won't even get into the aspects of my personal life that are cause for an aneurysm. We are going through tough times.
    Today at work, I was so tired. So tired that I started weeping while grooving to "Under Pressure," by Bowie and Freddie Mercury. I wasn't sure if the tears were for the loss of Bowie last year, and Freddie far too soon. Or if I was just tired. Or too stressed by, well, everything. So, being the eternal optimist, I made myself divert my thoughts to search for positives to hold like a flickering light against the darkness. This is where my brain went:
    Bro Love. Yeah. I dig that it has become acceptable for men to show love and affection for each other. "Love you, bro," is the new "See you later." And it won't garner snarky comments alluding to someone's sexual preference. Men can hug. Not that awkward one armed, pat on the back, but don't allow any torso contact... or, gods forbid, and incidental bump of hips *gasp*. Guys can give each other solid, affectionate hugs. Bro Love. Bromance. Call it what you will. But as the mother of two grown sons, and a passel of other young men in my tribe, it is a heartwarming thing to see.
    Less mortification over bodily functions. Especially inadvertent bodily functions that tend to occur during strenuous athletic endeavors. It is almost a point of pride, when lifting heavy, to say, "Oh my god, I peed myself a little." Honestly, I have always said, "Pee before you lift heavy." (also, "Pee before you put on armor," but that was almost another life). And Google, "why does running make me poop," and you will get a litany of hilariously horrifying tales of rebellious digestive systems. We are finally allowed (mostly) to have our bodies do what bodies do without feeling a life sentence of shame. Okay, kids may not have gotten this message, but at least adult athletes have it figured out.
    Next on the list: Internet access to my local library system. This may seem like a simple thing, but to the time crunched who lives in an area where each library branch is relatively small, and not on my direct route home, having access to the county's file index in all its Dewey Decimal glory is fantastic. I can browse to my heart's content in the comfort of my living room, place my choices on hold, designate where I want to pick them up, and ta-da, in a few days I can pick everything up in a matter of a few minutes. Then I am on my merry way. Due date approaching? No problemo. I can log into my account and renew with the click of a mouse. It is truly an amazing luxury.
     My fat tire fixie bicycle. I know, I've probably talked this one to death with my friends. But I really love this bike. And you want to know why? The exercise? No (but, I do like the workout). I love this bike because it brings back the joy I used to get on my bike when I was a kid, and when I was a bicycle delivery person in downtown Portland when I was 20. It is pure, unadulterated fun. It makes me grin like an idiot and make derpy faces. I laugh when I plow through puddles. I take it down onto the packed river rock along the bank of the Willamette River. I ride through parks, dodging the root bulged pavement. I ride dirt paths. The wind in my face, pedaling for all I am worth, for no other reason than the sheer joy of it. And I fantasize about doing some epic adventure on this slow, fat tire bike, like ride the Trans-America Trail: from Astoria, Oregon to Yorktown, Virginia. Okay, that would be almost impossible on a single speed bike, but the thought of it is kinda groovy.
     I think it is great that more adults are realizing that it is totally cool to color with crayons. I've never turned my back on this particular joy, but a lot of people "grew up."
     Blanket Forts. Legos. My dog Hugo. Fun music. There are a hundred things, little things, that I need to remember when the world seems dark and hopeless. Because it is neither, dark nor hopeless.
    As Gandalf observed, "Saruman believes it is only great power that can hold evil in check, but that is not what I have found. I found it is the small and everyday deeds of ordinary folk that keep the darkness at bay. Small acts of kindness and love."


Sunday, November 12, 2017


    As much as I love my solitude, of which there has been little of lately, there are times when I get the strong feeling that I need to belong to something. Be a part of the greater scheme of things, somehow. I know, I am an integral part here and there; my Fire Station, my family, my friends. My life is full. Overly full at times. But nights like tonight, as it is nearing midnight, and I am listening to music that has various emotional triggers for me, I feel alone in the world. Alone with a primal need to find a tribe. Yes, I have my family, and that is more than most people could ever hope for. My loving and loved family that I adore and who adore me. But there is still a need, an ache, a persistent itch to find my place in something that can be physically and emotionally fulfilling on a different level. It is a vague feeling, almost indefinable. I feel it like an itch just under the skin, a buzzing behind my eyelids, a humming in my skull. I don't know what it is, or how to find it.
     I know for a few years it was kept at bay with racing events, training, and life in general. But racing is a solitary endeavor, really. Most often I go to events alone, race alone, cross the finish line with no one waiting for me, chat with a few strangers, and then head for home. Yes, it makes me happy, but it isn't what I am looking for. But how do I know what I am looking for when I don't know what I am looking for? Yeah. It is a conundrum.
    And it is obvious by the randomness of these ramblings that it is midnight, and it was a long day. I am tired, my eyes are dry and bleery. And I really need to get to sleep. One more song though. Right now it is the instrumental "Jessica" by the Allman Brothers. It is a happy making song, with no melancholy lyrics to make me feel more alone. I will finish up with Dancing in the Moonlight because it always makes me happy. Even though I would love to belong to a group that would happily dance in the moonlight with me, instead of my usual Manic Dance Party for One. Ah well, still rambling and verging on the incoherent now.
    I will search, and hopefully find some place where I fit. A tribe. Or not. I admit, it has been a lifelong search that hasn't really had good results. Maybe I will wake up in the morning wondering what the hell was such a big deal. I have my tribe: my family, my Fire Station (my battalion chief admits that the engine is mine now), my friends. I am not alone. But for tonight it is just me and the dog, and music to ward off the melancholy.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Shift in The Weather

    The shift in the weather, though inevitable, and not unexpected, always stirs up something deep inside of me. An unrest. A sense of urgency with a hint of desperation and dread. The first heavy rain of September, heralding the death of Summer. Already I feel an itch of cabin fever, a tickling of stir crazy. And it is only the second day of rain.
    I also know that the rain will be over in a day or so, and we will be blessed with dry weather, sunshine, but cooler temps. Again, it is inevitable. Yesterday I put away tools, covered bags of concrete, dug potatoes, and mowed the lawn, all with an eye towards the gathering clouds and my hair whipping in the gusty pre-storm winds. Then the rains came and I came indoors and baked bread. Today I ran in the rain.
    And now I sit, pecking away on the keyboard while a tempest presses against the inside of my ribcage. It is a peculiar feeling, one I am all too familiar with. I tried to describe it to my Mom, with dubious success. I feel an inner pressure, maybe I am a human barometer? An inner pressure to be going, doing, chasing, hiking, running, cycling, something, anything, anything other than sitting indoors while the rain beats against the windows. I have the overwhelming need to be doing something. But what that something is eludes me. It is an itch that can't be reached. A hunger that is vague and insatiable. It is too much like the feeling of being faced with overwhelming tasks to the point that you become dysfunctional, and all you can do is drink tea and read a book. I have done some of that today; disappear into the pages of a well written yet slightly vacuous novel with a cup of steaming tea at my elbow. I want to, need to, find tasks, line up my winter projects, litter my living room with bicycle parts and knitting and books and drawings. I need to look ahead and plan on how best to prepare my body for next summer's epic adventures while suppressing tears over adventures not yet managed this summer. I still haven't taken my new gear out for river snorkeling. Though I have gotten in some nice hiking and bike riding these last few weeks.
     It is not as if we don't know winter is coming. It comes every year with the inescapability of, well, of the seasons. They do come and go like clockwork. It is not that I dislike rain. I actually enjoy the rain. It is the loss of daylight, the short days and long nights. The darkness. And the cold. I do not like being cold. Cold makes me Sad. Being cold is honestly one of the main triggers for my winter melancholy. Cold makes me Sad. And the cold is coming.
    In my usual attempt to head it off at the pass, so to speak, I am planning my battle strategy. Online shopping is my friend, and winter workout gear is on the way. As are books to help stoke the fires of my training. Every year for the last 15 years, come September I know I have to set myself up for training of some sort. In the past, the early years of understanding, it was making sure my gym membership was ready. Now, it is making sure my living room is ready, with the gear that I need. I add gear every year. This year it is sand bags, a heavier kettlebell, and a weighted pack. Much of this with an eye towards more hiking adventures with my big red dog, Hugo. Some with an eye towards regaining my footing in the world of triathlon and trail running.
    That is all good and well, but it does nothing for my current state of unrest. The buzzing in my veins, the pressure in my chest, the thoughts ricocheting around inside my skull like so many ping-pong balls. Oh my god, maybe I am having a heart attack?!! No, that would be too easy an explanation. Another all too simple explanation would be that I am losing my mind. Again, too easy. No, maybe this is a primal need to make sure that all the crops are in, the food preserved, firewood stacked, wool spun, leaks filled, and blankets mended so we will survive the dark days warm and fed to emerge like a daffodil in the Spring. Maybe it is that simple, the primal need to be prepared for winter, but feeling like I have fallen short. There are still dry, sunny days ahead. A few, anyway. But the Rains are coming.

Sunday, July 9, 2017


    Magic is not elaborate. Magic is not complicated. It is not golden amulets engraved with runes and set with gemstones. It is not ornate altars, intricate spells, convoluted charms, extravagant robes.
    Magic is simplicity. The rainbow colors of a dragonfly's wings. A seed sprouting, growing. Dew bejeweling the grass. A stone polished smooth by the river. Feeling the magic in the sough of the breeze on a quiet summer night. It is as simple as a wish for health and prosperity while stirring the soup.
    It is as complex or simple as you want it to be. For me it is as easy as "I see you," whispered to the full moon.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Small Magics

Nearly a month since I last posted. That is not good. It is not as if there were nothing to write about. In fact, quite the opposite. There is so much going on inside my head, and out in the world (which causes more things to bash about inside my skull) that I get overwhelmed with things to write. The best defense against the onslaught would be to write daily, get it out in dribs and drabs, instead of letting it collect until my brain is like a clogged pipe letting nothing through.
   The total flip side of this is that I have been so physically and spiritually focused on my gardens. Honestly. This is the year I am trying to become the gardener and hedgewitch i fantasize that I am. My Mom said my place looks "Like the home of a professional gardener." Okay, it was my Mom that said it, but she is a gardening goddess, and a compliment like that from her made my heart swell.
    Aiming for self-sufficiency on several fronts. I want to be able to have several months where the bulk of my food comes from my own plantings. I want to be able to make a little money at some point with plant sales. I want to have a decent magickal garden, overflowing with flowers and herbs, medicinal as well as magical. And from that magickal garden I want to be able to produce objects with meaning; poppits, pookas, dream pillows, woo bags, balms, tinctures, smudge sticks, charms, dried herbs for spell casting. For myself, and others. I need to bring magic back into the world, my world.
    "... a country on its way to banishing magic altogether. And that would have a very serious effect on the very soul of the country, for a country whose people ceased to believe in magic soon lost much of their ability to Imagine and Dream, and before long they ceased to believe--or hope--for anything."
    So you see, with the current chaos that is swirling around the globe, being manifested by those in charge and those with wealth, we have to be able to have Hope. We have to believe that Light will overcome Darkness in the end. That if we continue to fight the Good Fight, we will prevail.
    I don't expect some great miracle to come along and save us, deliver us from evil. But I believe in the small magics of hearth and home, peace and love, family and friends. I believe that our world is what we make of it, and that it is the seemingly small efforts that will eventually make the difference. If everyone did just one small thing, one small act of kindness, or charity, or peacekeeping, that we could change the world. A bucket or an ocean can be filled one drop at a time. It may seem that we are up against insurmountable odds, but I have to maintain my belief that each of us can make a difference, each in our own small way.
    For me, that small way is to continue to hope, to love, to unite, to heal, to help, in whatever way I can. Part of that, for my sanity and peace, is to create my own magic space, my hermitage, my hedgewitch gardens, my own small magics. To grow for the birds, bees, and butterflies. To create healthy spaces for the myriad of small wild creatures that share my world. To blend wild and cultivated, magical and earthly.  To nourish mind, body and spirit with the greenspace that surrounds me. I moved to the edge of nowhere with the intention of just this. And now, at this point in time and space, it is what seems to consume my thoughts and actions. Finally creating what has been in my imagination all this time. And isn't that, in and of itself, magic?