So the first month of the year is almost over. Just one more day to keep those January promises. Don't worry, though. February has 29 days this year. You can always keep your promises then. Fortunately, a promise is a promise. And if you are making your best effort to keep it, well, that is good. Giving up and breaking your promise is not cool
Early in January, maybe even in December, I promised myself I would do not think about doing. And I would let go of things that were keeping me from moving forward. I am happy to say I have been doing just that. I have written this blog almost every day this month. I have signed up for and attended writing workshops. In one I am working on a personal essay. The other workshop is about memoir where I am resurrecting my memoir about my days at the Public Administrator's office. I also am doing other writing relating things like morning pages and free writes.
I haven't given up on my photography, either. I went on two photo-shoots in January. I joined the 52 Project at the Riverside Art Museum where you work on an art project toward having a small exhibit later this year. I also plan to submit some of my photo work to local exhibitions and even some competitions. That is scary, but I promised myself I would. It's about time you say? I hear you.
I have to establishing boundaries with my time. I have learned I don't always have to raise my hand. I can say no. I am not the only one to can do what needs to be done. I have learned that if something is supposed to happen, someone will step up. If not, maybe it wasn't supposed to be. And being is the most important thing. I have learned that doing is not being. Being is true to yourself and living your own life is what matters most.
So here we go soon into another month. For a moment I thought time might be running out. But thinking that way leads to broken promises. What we make of our time here on earth is up to us. And I intend to make the most of it. I promise you and I promise myself. Yipes. It's really out there now. Now I need to just keep it real.
Yesterday I wrote up this blog post that was pretty good, well written with several researched links. It was one of my more serious posts about the current state of food in America. It was predicated by a community gathering I attended last night at one of Riverside's newer restaurants, Health's Kitchen. Health's Kitchen produces healthy food made with mainly local produce and food grown on farms in the area. I was surprised to find out their are at least 19 farms in the immediate Riverside area. This I found out by visiting the Riverside Food Co-op's display.
The gathering was one in a series of events leading up to the Third Annual Grow Riverside Conference March 21. I have been a supporting member of the Riverside Food Co-op for about a year or so. I believe a good co-op would be a good thing and I would shop there because it is local .
Anyway, that satisfies my need to recreate the lost blog. And it also brings important information to you. And even if you are not in the Riverside area, it is something you should seek out in your own community. When you think so much of our supposedly "fresh" produce and food travels thousands of miles from South America, Mexico, Asia and other places, well, you begin to wonder just what those foods we are consuming do to our bodies and even our minds.
Oh, and about that lost blog. I was just finishing editing it when I must have hit the wrong key and it disappeared. POOF! I hate when that happens. And every once in a while it does. Sigh. But we soldier on. And another day dawns.
Find More Information at the Grow Riverside website here:
Find the Riverside Food Co-op's website here:
Find out more about Health's Kitchen at:
So I pulled out my art stuff and began to draw. It was a blank. I was drawing a blank and there was nothing there. Nothing. Get it? Sometimes we can have the best intentions. We have inspiration and we have energy, but still, we end up drawing a blank.
Okay, I know this a bit of a bust of a blog. Well, maybe not. Maybe realizing that even though you can put pen to paper or brush to canvas or even finger to trigger, there really is nothing coming of it. Blank. The whole thing is just one big blank.
When you draw a blank, that is the time to hang out the "This Space Available" sign. An open house might be in order. Maybe even assume the lotus position and chant Ommmm. Just close your eyes and wait for a sign. Better yet, just begin to draw. Or in a case like this one, write. Write whatever comes to mind and sooner or later the blankness will disappear and life will make sense again.
See, it's already happening. Anyone can draw a blank. It doesn't take much. The important thing is to move through it and onto the next drawing. I do it all the time. So can you. Never be afraid of the blank page. Just fill it and you might be surprised what embracing the blank will reveal.
I didn't get the notice or see it the papers, but it appears those octagonal red and white signs labelled "stop" are merely suggestions. You know those signs, the ones you see at almost every intersection everywhere. Stop. Nothing complicated there. Not hard to understand.
Today I was out driving around town, running errands, trying to make appointments, preferably in one piece. My little Subie is equipped with something called "Eyesight" that watches the road ahead. If an obstacle appears up front, it sounds an alert and, depending on the imminent danger, applies the brakes. Well, you might have guessed here, that happened several times today. And I was not speeding.
I was entering the intersection near my home when a car blew through the red light right in front of me. Yes, the system worked. There was a crossing guard on the corner. She shook her head when I caught her eye. And in case you didn't realize it yet, we were by the local elementary school.
When things like that happen, it seems I become hyper-aware. I counted five incidences of people blowing through stop signs or red lights. Oh, yes, some of them slowed down a bit. Some of them even made eye contact as they ignored the right of way laws, (I think I had the right of way in four of those five incidences), but they went right on their merry way. Sometimes yielding your right of way is the better part of valor.
After an evening of playing cards on Friday nights, my grandmother would always admonish her sister when she was leaving, "Now be sure to stop on all four wheels." Seems my great aunt was famous for California stops -- rolling though a stop sign instead of stopping. I wondered at the time how the heck you could stop on anything other than all four tires.
Now I understand.
Earlier this week I wrote about my friend Al who decided that after eight months of dialysis at home, administered by his wife of 41 years, and 94 years on this earth, it was time to move on. He quit dialysis and waited for the "road-trip to heaven" with grace and dignity. He left yesterday morning during the night.
God bless you, Al. You are an inspiration and a blessing to all who knew you!
Note: This is not the gentlemen have been taking to the doctor and such for the past few years, Mr A. He is still alive and kicking...figuratively and literally. I am sure I will write of him before long. His journey is quite different from Al's, but then we all face life and death challenges in our own way, don't we?
Yesterday I declared a sick day. Sinus headache. I wonder if I can really "call in sick" since I'm not on anyone's "clock"...other than my own and God's? And so begins a blog of random thoughts and musings.
Chatting with an elder friend of mine yesterday, we were talking about dreams. She observed that I still seemed have a lot of dreams while she does not. I wonder, though, if you dream of having dreams isn't that in itself a dream?
Has the world gone crazy or is it just in an uptick in its schizophrenia?
El Nino: couldn't prove it by me. In looked at my Facebook posts from five years ago, we were in danger of being washed away. I guess time will tell.
Are Donald Trump and Sarah Palin really wake up calls from the other side? Whatever you think of them, they have certainly roiled the waters.
I watch the news to hear what's going on, but am always amazed at the extreme sense of urgency in the voices of the reporters. Really, a car parked on the side of the freeway with its flashers on in a snowstorm is not a sign of the coming snow armageddon.
I would miss the silent gh's is night and weight and even neighbor. And surely the world would be a different place without the k in knife and know. But know would become now, so that may not happen.
Saying "no" gets easier with practice and kindness. No explanation necessary.
Dogs are creatures of routine. Wait for me to get up. Wait for me to feed them breakfast. Wait for me to take them on a walk. Wait to see what I do next. They have me trained well.
Once again the old axiom "red skies at morning, sailors take warning. Red Skies at night, sailor's delight." Glorious sunset last night. Today is lovely in southern California.
Sometimes you just have to get up and go.
I've noticed that if I don't constantly check the teakettle it seems to boil a lot faster. This seems true of most things.
Somtimes, no usually, your mind is an endless stream of thoughts and musings. They pop up like popcorn then float down the river. If you don't catch them and make note, they disappear very quickly. Ideas are like that too.
Happy Friday. TGIF still means a lot even when you are retired.
What do you think? I'd love to know.
Today I posted this selfie to Facebook. I captured it at the photography museum in Balboa Park, San Diego last fall. I was having fun with the mirror they had set up there as part of the display. When I saw it again today it made think about how our self-image is so very important. How we see ourself influences everything we do.
It has taken me a long time to see myself as a fine art photographer and also as a writer. When I retired, my intention was to pursue writing. Photography came along a couple years later. Both occupations are very rewarding to me. And I mean that as it "occupies" me as a past-time and hobby, but also as an artist.
Taking myself seriously as either of these has been a long journey. I am still on the path. This year feels like the year I will "come into my own." I'm not saying I'm going to make a living or become famous or anything, but then, I shouldn't rule anything out. Follow your bliss. Pursue your passions. A while back I voiced these thoughts to the wrong people. They laughed or made dismissive remarks. I know they were only be "realistic", but now I know that you need to find it inside yourself to be who and what you are.
So now I am cultivating my own mind's image of me. It starts from where we are at and can only move forward. Mirrors don't lie which is why I am cleaning up the mirror in my mind so it reflects to me as the healthy, happy and creative me I know I am.
I just paid a visit to an elderly friend and his wife. Long overdue, but just in time as my friend has decided to take the final journey. He has quit his dialysis and is waiting for the end to come. Doctors say it should been within the week. To look at him, he does not look like a dying man. Yes, he was on oxygen. Yes, he was a bit frail appearing. But his eyes were bright. He was alert and still cracking jokes and making witty remarks just as he always had. A salesman to the end. At 94, he was alive as anyone I know. Probably more so. And soon he will be gone.
His dear wife of 41 years has been by his side through this. She has always loved and supported him through everything they have gone through in their lives. Ane he, here. Family triumphs and tragedies, joys and sorrows. Always there for each other and as always, they are taking this trip together, at least as far down the gangway as she is allowed. At the end, he will go on. She will wait to be called. She told him he needs to prepare a small bungalow on a lake in heaven. I small blue boat for fishing. And a place for friends already there to visit and for those who will follow. Parting will not be easy, but I have a feeling the bond between them will not be broken.
It was his decision after months and months of tubes and doctor visits and hospitalizations that it was time. Gracefully. While he was still fully present. He made a list of people he wanted to say good-bye to. She has been calling each. And those that are able have gone by. And will continue I am sure in the little time he has left.
I thought I was going to say a final goodbye. After an hour or so, I felt like I was saying more of bon voyage. I felt bad I had brought no "gift", but there is little to give someone who is not taking any earthly belongings with him. He is taking a piece of each our hearts though, which are light and quite portable. And amazingly, he gave me a gift I will always treasure. He gave me the best example of how to face the final days: directly with no tears. It is merely a transition. His peace became my peace.
At the end of the day, there is nothing greater one can do than to be able to reflect on the good things your life has brought and be at peace with the inevitable. As I left, I hugged him then put my hand of his shoulder. "Have a good trip," I said. "I will," he answered, then adding, " but I won't write. Heavenly postiage is way too expensive."
At the end of the day, what more can one say or do?
We spend so much time waiting in our lives. I was thinking about that this morning as I was walking the dogs. We took our restored route to the plaza via the newly completed railroad underpass. It was delightful to be able to go that way again as we had done for so many years. As I was walking, it occurred to me how the memory of two years of waiting, waiting, waiting, was already beginning to evaporate into the nether regions. It is funny how while I am waiting, the time seems interminable, and, then, once the anticipated comes into being, the wait time is quickly forgotten.
We wait nine months to be born. Our mothers wait too. But once we are here, do we remember any of it? Where do those feelings of aching anticipation, longing and impatience go? I guess we are just programmed that way. While waiting, we are motivated toward motion toward the goal. If we were not, nothing would get done. Once realized, the feelings before are neatly tucked away in memory files we rarely ever open again.
I think of this when I think about how I longed to get through elementary, junior and senior high. I didn't want my college years to end, but, still, waiting was involved there too...for the inevitable. I worked almost thirty years for the County,waiting for the day I could retire. When it came, it was as if thirty years melted away into a condensed memory. I remember events, but the agonizingly passing of the time, not so much.
Now I don't wait so much. I have come to realize that now is now. No point waiting for tomorrow. What a waste of time waiting! I anticipate the future, make appointments and plans, and dream of road trips and travel. But meanwhile, I practice being mindful of today and all its gifts. We are given an amazing gift every day to do with as we till whatever stage we are on. Wow, that's deep. But it is so true. Like right now, I am writing this and you are reading this and for all we know these events are happening simultaneously. Parallel universes. But wait! That's a good subject for another blog. Stay tuned!
On the noontime sports show on NPR called Only a Game, one of the subjects discussed was about professional athletes and what they face when they retire. The question most of them face after years of having a coach to tell them what to do is: "What do I do now that I no longer have someone to tell me what to do?" It struck me how this would be an issue for them. It is much like after years of working for someone else who tells you what to do and how to do, you leave, either through quitting or retiring, and are faced with making your own decisions about what to do with your life from thereon. It's not unlike kids leaving home or spouses leaving marriages or many, many other situations where being self-directive was not always possible.
This question resonated with me on a personal level and kind of caught me off guard. I retired from the County six and a half years ago. I immediately found activities that kept me busy enough not to have to think about what I wanted to do with my life. I volunteered for various agencies, involved myself in relationships that tapped into my need to be a caretaker and helper, but didn't always leave room for me to be me. Now don't get me wrong. I wasn't forced or coerced. I simply thought this was what made me feel good about myself. But not leaving time for reflection and exploration of myself and my wants and needs, I felt like I was doing what retirement was meant to be. It was what good guys do.
Then late last year something began to shift. I had discovered hobbies that I really enjoyed doing with photography and writing. I also enjoyed what I call "nesting", creating a warm and welcoming home environment in my home and garden. Cooking has become a fun pass-time. And road-trips have become something I like to do, either with someone who shares similar interests or, amazingly, on my own. What I find myself realizing and now sharing with people is that I have finally gotten this retirement thing right.
Now I still enjoy time with friends and family. But I equally enjoy time with myself and my "kids". I don't mind helping friends and family out, but I also am finding saying "no" is not the end of the world...or the relationship. Boundaries like fences are good things and define territory and limits. And there is nothing to feel guilty about in any of that. And I have finally, I now know it is infinitely better to decline a request or invitation, than to say "yes" when you don't want to and end up resentful and even angry. And, truly, it is the right thing to do.
And so, there you have it. If I answer "no", it doesn't mean I don't care about you. But it does mean I care about me more than I used to. And ultimately, it means I really do care about you because I don't want to resent you or be angry with you or with anyone or anything else. In the end, I think that means we will all be a lot happier and healthier. And that, truly, is the right thing to do!