My version of peace

My version of peace

Friday, October 31, 2014

It's more of a question than an answer.

Washougal.  This small town continues to grow on me.  It is my second fall season that I will pass here. And as I reflect on the passing of this last year, I find myself more connected to this area, increasingly happy that I am here.   A friend came out to visit earlier this week.  She pointed out how much nature was at the forefront of our surroundings.  Every morning I step out of the trailer that Ben and I live in, and immediately I am greeted with the smell of pine, rain, and dirt all gloriously mixed together.  It's beautiful.  That alone makes it worth it to be a little more out of the way.  I work in Clackamas and often I get comments from others that I come into contact with, about how the commute must be rough. And yes, the traffic isn't my favorite, but I am thankful that I can shake off the city when I come home.  
When I come home there is separation from work life.  Which is kind of an interesting phenomenon in itself.  I'm talking about the way that we separate and compartmentalize aspects of our life.  Every so often it hits me that the things I go out and experience during my day are things that Ben really knows nothing about.  I can tell him stories of my co-workers, the story I heard on NPR, or an embarrassing moment that happened on my way into the office building, but those experiences are really my own.  The work culture that I do business in, the clients that I see, the stories that I hear of their experiences, are all things that I alone hold.  And of course I am not the only one who experiences this.  All of us go out into different communities in our own way, and experience life through our own lenses.  And then we come home. There is separation.   Or at least, physical separation.  This is just one example of how compartmentalization happens in our lives.  I think it is easier to use work and home life as an example.
But I think this is a natural coping strategy and I think this mechanism keeps us more intact emotionally, spiritually, physically.  There needs to be separation from what we experience on a daily basis, and there needs to be a safe place to come home to at the end of the day. Whether you spend more of your time at home creating that safe space for others, or whether you are out working from dawn to dusk, our environment effects our well being.  And I think the tragedy that occurs, is that often there isn't opportunity for good separation from the daily stresses.  They come home with us. And home becomes a place that doesn't let us lay down our guard.
So, these are just my observations.  I think it is worth considering how our daily environments effect us, and I think it is worth noting whether or not we experience separation from daily stress. I think this raises more questions than answers, and the conversation can get really big, really fast.  But I think it has to start with what we notice happening in our own lives and to recognize what is healthy and what is not.

Monday, October 6, 2014

In the midst of the mundane

Summer swept me off my feet. Some of it was good...and some was not so good. But I have welcomed the change of season, and with the change of season, some other changes in my life.  When I get married last September, I did not realize that I was embarking on a journey of change.  And I didn't realize what those changes would mean.  I mean, yes I knew that some things were going to be different.  The obvious things like, sharing my clothing drawers with men's pants and socks, coming home to the same human being at the end of the day.  (Which is a good thing.) 
It's been a little over a year. In a year I have also dealt with more unexpected changes, like how to balance personal wants/needs with family responsibilities.  There have been other changes, but this one is on my mind at the moment.  As I enter my late 20's I am freak out more and more about goals and ambitions that I have.  I freak out because the reality of providing for a family and how to make financially smart decisions tends to override my creative ambitions. And I hate it. I rebel against it.  I am constantly trying to figure out how to make my career, my values, and my creative ambitions all coincide and it feel frustrating to feel like I have to make compromises. I doubt I am alone in this.  I didn't really see this one coming though. I didn't see the struggle of it coming I should say. I think it might be one of those things that takes some of the wind out of the sails, brings the dreamer down out of the clouds, dumps the bucket of ice water down the back.  It makes me tired. 
I sound like a real downer. Luckily life gives simple pleasures on a daily basis. Luckily I have a community of family and friends that point out good things in life.  Luckily, in the midst of my own personal quandaries and questions, I have a life partner that makes me smile, a little girl who keeps my imagination alive and healthy, and  friends to make music with.  I want to keep my creative spirit fresh and firing, but I think I need community to help me with that.  I get worried that I will lose my inspiration for songs and poems, for writing.  That those things will get drowned out by worries in life.  But life doesn't stop happening around me. Creation doesn't stop happening. I think maybe if I live my life in isolation, then maybe I will have a harder time coming up with original ideas, but I am not alone.  And seeing and hearing things will lead to other thoughts, and those thoughts will continue to come out in songs and ideas. 
I think this has been perhaps a more cryptic and conceptual entry, but I think my point is this. That I won't lose hope in the midst of the mundane.  That the mundane may lead me on unexpected journey's and create venues for inspiration.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Concepts of Simplicity

It's scary to put your thoughts out there, in writing, open for the world to read, to judge.  That's what I assume will happen anyway, because that is what I do.  But I write to process.  To make sense of things that happen in life.  My facebook friends are privy to random two liners that I invent every so often to summarize a thought for the moment.  It's mostly just my way of conceptualizing pep talks that I give myself on a daily basis.  Anyway, here I am trying to make sense for myself, of some of the bigger life questions that I think rattle around in lots of our brains.

I recently moved to Washougal WA.  I never thought I would live next to the paper mill that looms over Camas.  Vivid memories from my childhood of driving on hwy 14, heading east, plugging my nose while my father drove our family past the "smelly mill," emerge.  And that was really my only frame of reference for this community east of Vancouver.  But I have discovered, upon moving here, that by being closer to the source of smell, I go about my daily business without so much as a second thought to the silent giant factory that puffs it's smoke signals above this riverside community.  Maybe it's that idea of keeping your friends close, but your enemies closer.  I don't know.

Our little living community backs up to the Washougal River.  That is the real reason for moving here.  Oh the river.  A strong source of inspiration for many a writer I think.  And to achieve this advantageous position, Ben and I decided to give trailer life a try.  Thirty-Seven feet can hold a lot of life.  It can hold a kitchen with plenty of pots and pans to make some damn good cookin.  It can hold space for a 4 year hold to sleep safe and warm.  It also provides just enough room for me to stomp off to the opposite end of the trailer when I need space.  I can pull the sliding bathroom door closed, and enjoy the master suite all to myself.  And it only takes me three steps from the front entrance to make all this happen.  The snow storm in February only made this particular aspect of our palace much more pronounced and utilized.  Beautiful.

Our trailer is 37 feet of pine needles tracked in from our personal forest just outside the front door; little girl princess dress-up clothes and dolls strewn about in only the most organized fashion that a young individual can provide; very scholarly bits and scraps of papers and academic books from "professional" educations that invade our life; piles of dirty dishes that spill over the sink and start to creep toward the bedroom.  You know, that kinda stuff.  But in the midst of it all, I love the space.  Our little space.  It is a living lesson, a visual reminder of simplicity and how it can grow happiness.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Heart Talk

I just watched "Despicable Me II."  As I continue through out my week, the visual images of purple ferocious minions sticks in my minds eye.  The sight of a small creature, stressed to capacity; eyes tweaking, hair that looks like a perm gone horribly wrong, barely holding back ability to attack whatever is in its path, continues to make me chuckle.  Not because I find such a sight enjoyable, but because I think of what being really stressed can look like, and I wonder if sometimes I end up looking like a waddling, frizzy, snarling thing, all out of sorts and ready to lash out if pushed one bit further.  My eye tweaks sometimes.  I wonder if that is an indication of stress.  It's really annoying.  
Maybe I don't end up looking quite so extreme when I am feeling overwhelmed with, oh you know...LIFE, but I do experience tell tale signs of the presence of... let's call it "tension."  
My heart gets really tight and achey.  It's a deep ache.  The kind that is hard to shake.  Usually as I get through my work day, the ache subsides as do the demands of the day.  It's mostly something that I find myself pressing through, dealing with...but not really.  Mostly, just waiting for the symptoms to subside.  I think most of us have come to accept stress and the experience that comes with it, as a "normal" part of life, and just something that we must endure and push through.  The slogan, "No pain, no gain," comes to mind.  And yes, while some stress can be productive and helpful, often ignoring what our body or mind is trying to tell us can be harmful.  
What is my heart trying to tell me?  What am I ignoring?  I've been asking myself these questions lately.    Something is not right.  Perhaps it never will be completely right.  Maybe that is the state of things.  Maybe my heart knows that things are not quite as they should be and will continue to remind me of this.  

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Putting out fires...Just a day in the life...

"My gloves melted as I held them over the propane heater, and then Peggy's robe caught on fire.  Don't worry, we managed to put her out."  Not something that you exactly expect to hear, but then again, in the life of my mother, it may as well be a regular day of running errands.  You can check that off the list.  Catching on fire?  Oh yeah, been there...done that!  In those moments when my mother relays stories from her day to day life experience, I catch snippets of her perspective; a perspective that takes time to appreciate humor, finds amusement in the little things, and honors the stories of her personal experience by sharing them with others.  
Often I notice myself cringing when asked the question, "How are you," or "Anything new going on?" I freeze, go blank, and make some last ditch comment about the weather or a busy work week.  In those moments, I ignore my own authentic stories, the ones that really matter to me.  I fear that the person asking won't appreciate them, or doesn't really want a detailed answer anyway.  I assume that my stories are not interesting enough to catch the interest of someone else.  And I compensate by turning the conversation around, and I start asking questions about the other person.  Tricky move.  It's safer to be in the listening seat.  I find myself there often.  
Why does that happen?  Why do I lack confidence in my own stories? Does anyone else feel this way?   How do we make safe space for each other to share our valuable experiences?  These are questions that I ask myself.  Obviously it isn't healthy to swing to the opposite side of the spectrum and spill all your deepest thoughts to the entire universe.  However, I think taking pride in personal experience, in daily life events, however small that they are, is something that is worthwhile.  It makes me stop and think about how I approach others in conversation.  Do I create safe space for others to share a humorous or significant detail that they would like to share from their lives?  What am I missing out on when I don't take time to ask?  Do I notice when it might not be a good time to ask...  for example, striking up conversation with the person in the neighboring bathroom stall at the mall, might not be the best time.  I'll still try to be socially appropriate.  But hopefully a little braver.  Life is much more interesting when we share anyway.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Bon Iver Christmas

"I love this part." It warms my heart to hear four year old Nadia say those words about a Bon Iver song. She's got good taste if I do say so myself.  The song is playing in the car as the three of us set out; Ben, myself, and Nadia, to do some christmas light searching.  As the song reaches a glorious crescendo, Nadia blurts out, "We have to sing loud Christina!  We have to sing with the trumpets!"  Christmas suddenly appears in that moment, accompanied by holy sounds of Bon Iver, and the clash of Christmas lights decorating various neighborhood homes.  It is a brilliant moment.  And I am reminded to glory in that moment, to take it slow, and to marvel at the Santa "Jack in the Box" that stands in our neighbors yard amidst their collection of other "christmas goodies" on display.  Sometimes this time of year can feel a little overwhelming.  Stepping into a mall can feel like sipping a vanilla,  double chocolate frappacino with extra caramel and whip cream.  Sickeningly sweet.  You can cut the air with Mrs. Claus's knitting needles, the atmosphere thick with the sounds of rushing shoppers frantically running into Hallmark or See's Candy to find something to send to Great Aunt Gertrude.  In these moments of feeling overrun with the Yuletide bustle, I usually just console myself with an Auntie Annie's butter and salt pretzel and call it good. Merry Christmas to me.
I guess the point I am getting at is I was thankful last night to have a four year old redirect my attention to the things that matter, to the things that make this season special, like spending time with two people that I love very much, finding beauty in the light displays, and making some sense out of the chaos that occurs on a daily basis in this life.  And those Christmas lights really are a beauty to behold on these nights where the cold bites your bones.  I shouldn't judge when I see a tacky light display paired with a tasteless blow-up Santa and Raindeer.  Even though I usually go for a classy snowglobe yard display myself, I can recognize that at least that household decided to shed some more light in the neighborhood.  Light that drives away some of the deep dark.  Yes, tacky christmas lights can do that.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Japanese Food

I had a lot of subjects tumbling through my head this morning, but find myself feeling less than inspired after wrestling with technology for the last half hour to locate and sign onto my blogger account.  This just goes to show how infrequently I am publicly sharing my musings.  But I've managed to find my account and the frustration of wasted time is slowing easing off to the corners of my mind.
I get really sensitive when it comes to time; how I spend my time, how I waste my time, what I want to accomplish with my time...
A few minutes before my break through, I found myself getting more and more tense and annoyed as the minutes went by.  My original intent clouded by the annoyance of wasted minutes passing.  I started to feel invaded, seeing the expanse of time that I thought I had, start to shrink, wasting away.  I get really growly and territorial about it actually.  Ben has seen it happen; a pinched look comes over my face, my eye brows get furrowed; I am not in a huggable mood.  Actually, I'm going to move on from this subject now.  I'm getting more irritated as I write about wasted time.  It feels like a waste of time.  Ugh.

Sometimes, well actually most of the time, it is best to start where we are at.  I'm talking about how we move forward, how we grow, how we inspire change within our lives.  I'm talking about healing.  I work in a field where this term may get expressed, but doesn't necessarily get properly explored.  More often I hear, "I want things to get better,"or "I don't want it to be so hard."  To me, the term "healing" has a lofty, holy sound to it.  I associate "healing" with miracles, with stories that I have heard of cancer mysteriously disappearing, with alcoholics turning their lives around.  I haven't had these extreme circumstances occur in my life, but I have recently started looking at the term "Healing" and how it applies in my own life.  I consider myself be a person who is constantly evaluating her priorities, and looking at how to better herself.  A few days ago, I had a conversation with a dear friend over Japanese food (because lots of good conversations occur in cozy corners with good food).  With her wise methods, she asked me questions like, "Am I ok with accepting myself simply where I am in this moment?", and "Can I ease off of the "I should do's?"  That last question stopped my in my tracks.  I tell myself "I should's" all the time.  I should work out consistently everyday.  I should be able to figure out why my knee continues to bother me.  I should be able to overcome lack of motivation to go to work.
It's constant.  That's a big part of why I freak out about time so much too!  I tell myself, "I should be making the most of every moment!!  The world could end at any moment!!!"  (Which doesn't make any sense right?  Because then I suppose it wouldn't really matter either way...)  It's stressful.  It's counter productive.  Yet I beat myself up like that all the time.  How does healing come out of that kind of thinking?
I work in health care.  I see people everyday who are looking for healing in their lives.  And I am part of a health culture that tells people all the things that they "should do" to get better.  What they should try, what they should give up, what they should be willing to do.  Parents come to the clinic looking for answers because they have tried everything.  They have been telling themselves all the "should do's" that they "should" perform for their children.  It is exhausting.  I wonder if for the most part, if this quest for healing is pursued in all the wrong ways. Yes, of course, we want things to be better, to be less painful, to be happier.  But I wonder what it would look like if we could answer the question, "Can I accept where I am in this moment?"  That is where the cryptic and mysterious nature of healing comes into play.  In those moments where acceptance and peace reign, perhaps healing can grow in our lives.