Breathing Long Distance

Breathing Long Distance

Here in the Southwest, spring is a breath. One you run to catch, only pushing it out too quickly in your efforts.

Back home, friends of mine treated sunburns on the same day they sent their children out the door in snow boots.

How do you catch up with days like this?

I took these photos as deep breath in. Wanting to catch it in a jar and bring it home. I knew on this night home, once again, would be far from the sea. I tried to squeeze greedy and peace in one box and expected them to behave.

WS Pine at Sunset

You can imagine the results.

I watched through the tiny square of a view finder the expanse of space that takes more than one eye squeezed shut to see.

I’m grateful for the images. Grateful for the knowing, remembering of feet on asphalt at the edge of green and sky and sea.

WS Grey Sunset

As the weekend hit like a March storm in Kansas, I searched these memories out. Stretched long into the breath that would pull in the shoreline. Tug hard and tuck in tight this story line that is mine. All of it. Kelly green and coral peach. Rain in the sunshine and creating while at rest.

Breathe in.

From Here to Here Again

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It’s time again to play with my words.

Let’s review the rules:

Now, set your timer, clear your head, for five minutes of free writing without worrying about getting it right.

1. Write for 5 minutes flat – no editing, no over thinking, no backtracking.
2. Link back here and invite others to join in.
3. And then absolutely, no ifs, ands or buts about it, you need to visit the person who linked up before you & encourage them in their comments. Seriously. That is, like, the rule. And the fun. And the heart of this community..

OK, are you ready? Please give us your best five minutes on:::

Here…

It’s here again. Friday. Time to sit and let the words come as they will–let them run like dogs in the dog park, thrilled to be off the leash.

I’m here. Here again. In a familiar place trying to learn what is new. At least learn what the old here has to teach me.

To pay attention to how here shapes me. Or why I long for over there.

Do I always long for any other there, no matter where I am?

And here, this moment, at the keyboard is the time when my fingers pause because my mind is sitting and staring at the yellow tree and the truth that here is where I have to turn.

Of Charts & Comets & Compost

Last morning here. Nearly packed. I took out the recycling while the water boiled for tea.

Outside it was barely above freezing. The air smelled like spring, or what I remember from early summer mornings at our cabin.

I gave myself a treat. I took several more deep breathes as I walked toward the back door to head inside. I realized I was enjoying the cold, soft air; this slice of my day. I walked around to the front of the building noticing the chill seep in through the thin cotton of my shirt–the bare length of my arm already cold.

I turned the corner and the sun was lingering near the horizon, sky tinged coral. I exhaled and thought this is truly the only way to be happy. One small chilly breath in at a time.

Gretchen was right. You can change your life without changing your life. Inside change over outside change. Well, lead with the inside.

I was introduced to the book through the movie. I had been invited to the movie by a dear friend and healer. I agreed to go for the chance to get out of my apartment.

Starting out the day, I knew it was my mother’s birthday, 3 days from Valentine’s Day, and National Content to Be Single Day. I later learned it was also International Happiness Day.

It was a beautiful Spring day. No, I don’t jest. In the Valley of the Sun, Spring comes before Valentine’s Day. I was determined to make the best of it all. A movie–a big splurge for me, even at a matinee price. A chance to spend time with a friend and meet a group of her friends as well.

By the time the movie was over I was focused on International Happiness Day and not Content to Be Single Day. Because, I was not. Not content. And not single. A shift in focus was a welcome alteration to my agenda.

It has been two years since I saw the film. I just finished the book. Tomorrow it will be seven weeks since I started this leg of my journey.

Gretchen, the book’s author, speaks about her resolution charts. She explains how each month is a new topic or tangent and she sets resolutions based on those topics. The chart measures her progress.

Ruben spent December evaluating and trying to use all of her resolutions at once. Juggling and being judged–two things I try to avoid. Both can be necessary evils.

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I have already said that I came and lived through these months without a plan. Evaluation then seems to be a moot point. Except that I feel the need. Going it alone makes me wonder if I have made any discernible progress.

So. I guess what I have to say for myself is this. In my own way, I have changed my life without changing my life. I tried an outside-in approach–change your address, change yourself. I have also worked on an inside-out tactic, or rather, multiple inside-out tactics.

My walk around the building this morning could be an indication of change.

To accept the beauty of the moment over the utility of the task.

This is not a task on a check off list, and not even a plan I could have executed. I am a successful procrastinator and have earned gold stars in self-doubt and hypocrisy, concurrently.

All of this pondering makes me think of bumping a comet, even if only a smidge, its trajectory is forever changed.

Self-Imposed Trial Retirement

I went in with questions.

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I am coming out with questions. More questions.

I did not have a plan. I did not make a plan.

Overall, my bills did not change. My income stopped. House sitting did not pay, it was a means to cut hotel bills out of the equation.

This is true of most retirements. The bills don’t change but the income does. Retirement is the time in life when major changes happen. You quit the life that you had to restructure your days and all of its aspects are touched.

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I did not leave my worries at the door. I did not get a tool box of tricks for Christmas that were picked out for this journey.

I got to sit alone by the sea. Sometimes with stretches of sand all to myself. No schedule. No where to be and no one with any expectations or needs waiting at home.

What comes is endless stretches of time. An empty stage, a microphone turned on and picked up by your inner critic. No hook from someone standing off stage left to remove the heckler because there is no one else.

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Silence makes your sense of hearing more keen; like eyes adjusting to the dark.

Silence might be good medicine, especially for those weary from our multimedia world. As mothers know, what is good for us is not necessarily our first choice, or the most savory.

Ask a woman pregnant with triplets how restful bed rest is and you might hear words that you don’t associate with relaxation, well-being, reprieve.

Silence can be the same. Necessary. Life-giving. And a gift to be endured until you can find the endearing.

Allowing silence to restack the blocks of my life into a new structure has been startling, sad and absolutely necessary. Now to stand back, regard what is before me and determine, if as Rilke said, I am  “a falcon, a storm or a great song.”

Portland Eats & Treats

After the bad tastes left in my mouth from my jaunt to Vancouver, I have been a bit wary about how and when to splurge on someone else’s cooking.

I recently went to food truck heaven. Home of Voodoo Donuts. The Dump Truck. Moonstruck Chocolates. Around the World Coffee.

In case you are a doubter, let me tell you, miracles do happen. I stayed in Portland for a week and I didn’t eat a single donut. I didn’t happily parade a pretty pink box from the Pearl District back to the Alphabet District. I did go into Blue Star Donuts. I swooned over flavor combos. I let my eyes settle on the $2.50 tag and then I turned and walked out the door.

My favorite kind of bar.

My favorite kind of bar.

I did walk into another little bakery on another corner and did not fare as well. The Bluebird Bakers Cookie Bar. Hello? Heaven. Cookies! Cookies happen to be my preferred form of intoxicant if you must know. I did just walk by once.

Four miles later with a bag of figs and nuts tucked in my purse, I walked into the bar giddy and left with a peanut butter cookie in my hand.

I have no clue what the name was, though it wasn’t peanut butter cookie. I taste tested a chocolate cookie. I wanted a taste of the gingerbread one too. I was strong. I stuck to just one nibble. I read the descriptions and names, which I don’t recall, and announced my choice.

It was a good choice. Nothing frilly. No culinary wonderment. No wasabi toffee. Flour+egg+butter+sugar=cookie.

I may have been able to shake off the donuts. I did cave over a cupcake though. I ate it because the bulletin board at the hostel said to eat it and I am big on personal recommendations. I think it is the only kind of advertising to trust. I once helped build a business on that belief and it worked. The dessert was also $2.50. (Which makes $2.50 for a gourmet donut seem reasonable–perspective & distance.)

At Melt, happy hour starts at 2 p.m. and lasts all night. Happy hour portions of regular plates equals dinner out at a reasonable price. Which also leaves room for dessert.

I had my first chicken and waffles experience at Melt–for $4. The corn meal in the waffles was enough to cut the sweet of the batter but not make it dense or dry. The pepper jack cheese and chives were yummy dowsed in maple syrup. I might skip the cupcake though, the frosting didn’t have the lime zing I would expect from a margarita flavored frosting.

In all truth, I’d save myself fifty cents, walk a few more blocks and get a cookie. I mean, just look at them! Cookies.

Home Sweet Where?

the every morning routine

the every morning routine

It is 9:03 am and the sun is finally burning off the fog outside the window of this home. The home I am keeping as if it is my own, even if it lasts only 21 days.

The morning fog was thick and lovely like a slathering of butter on your morning toast. A decadence you indulge only when you are the first one out of bed and no one can see. The fog does that.

It keeps your secrets. The sleepy bits of night that aren’t ready to be gone. Fog graces the day and lets you keep your night.

Three hours later on the day that we lose an hour, the sun has finally come up over the buildings across the street. I close my eyes to the bright rays that land with gentle warmth on my cheeks.

And I think of home. Which one it is. I use the term with abandon. I use I twice in one sentence referring to places not contained within one page of an atlas. Both are home. Keep the conversation going and the word home comes up again and the geography continues to change.

Again, I am at home away from home, wherever that may be.

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Joining again with a fabulous gang #FMFParty:

Now, set your timer, clear your head, for five minutes of free writing without worrying about getting it right.

1. Write for 5 minutes flat – no editing, no over thinking, no backtracking.
2. Link back here and invite others to join in.
3. And then absolutely, no ifs, ands or buts about it, you need to visit the person who linked up before you & encourage them in their comments. Seriously. That is, like, the rule. And the fun. And the heart of this community..

Snapshots from the Road

family land

The beginning.
Tasco, Kansas

I am a toe dipping type of tourist. The kind who will take one solitary path, one building with stainless steel words shooting into the sky, a plain stretch of water in front of me. I don’t see the need for all the trappings of REI or SkyMall magazine. I don’t need a sleeping bag that will keep me warm at zero degrees. Or an umbrella that will withstand gale force winds. Well, maybe the umbrella part, especially on this trip.

Here are some of the singular places and paths of this month long journey. A visual recap for those who wanted to join me in the journey. I edited out all the rain and this is what remains. Kidding. Sort of.

Whidbey Island


Fort Casey State Park
Whidbey Island, Washington

 

 

Olympic Sculpture Park, Seattle

Olympic Sculpture Park
Seattle, Washington

 

 

 

the clouds were no nearer Vancouver

The clouds looked no nearer than when lying on the ground.
Vancouver, Canada

 

The Grotto Portland OR

Stations of the Cross
The Grotto
Portland, Oregon

 

 

 

 

 

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Forest Park
Lower Macleay Trail
Portland, Oregon