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A Published Essay on Lessons in the Time of Lockdown

Sometimes I need to gift myself opportunities to expand creatively. Whether it’s my 100 Day project or decorating a special event, I do well with having a deadline. And even though I’ve mostly kept myself accountable to writing three times a week for my blog ( a little understandable slacking during our lockdown), it’s been a while since I had an opportunity to write with this sort of impetus.  Julia Barnickle’s Lesson’s during Lockdown collaboration provided a perfect opportunity to write something bigger and better.

Julia had already hosted something about finding more Ease in our daily lives in January. And when, in her invitation to join, she spoke of her own experience writing for others’ community projects as a good way to feel a part of community, I got this. Absolutely. She wrote:

In July 2020, there will be a second free online community project “Lessons from Lockdown” which will result in another ebook / book, containing essays / quotes about positive things learned during the experience of lockdown during the COVID-19 Coronavirus pandemic.

One of my visions for “Lessons from Lockdown” is not only to describe how we’ve managed to stay sane during lockdown, but also to create a vision of a bright new future – a future that works for everyone.”

You can find my essay titled Lessons During Lockdown: Finding Ease in Uncertain Times Here. I truly enjoyed writing this because, when I did, I finally found ease in writing my specific story. Seems that writing is the place where I am mostly myself. Where I enter a world that I am uninterrupted with my muse and that is a place I want to live in.

Funny though how I have been here before and forgotten.

A Published Essay on Lessons in the Time of Lockdown on Shalavee.com

In March of 2018, I had an invitation to join the Wholehearted Living Project hosted by Terri Connellan on her Quiet Writing site. I was thrilled and proud of myself for that piece. I discovered more of myself within that project. I found that I believed in Non-Negotiable Creative Soul Living, a way of respecting the need for creativity and living within that space. You can find that essay title Gathering My Lessons: A Wholehearted Story Here on Terri’s site.

Then I offered an essay up for the Attract Readers’ International Women’s Day Challenge in March of 2019 titled Ceasing Our Self-Bullying & Befriending Ourselves which you can read here. I had the chance to truly speak to myself about compassion and kindness.

Point is that I enjoy writing these bigger essays. It gives me time to really find out what I think. And to take time to mold then and smooth them out until they are the best I can do. I am proud of all these pieces and have been reminded again that I’m an essayist.

Were you to want to read my other stories, they’re there for your enjoyment.

And If you enjoyed what you read, subscribe, via the subscription box in the sidebar, to my thrice weekly posts via your emailbox. And visit me on Instagram to see my daily pictures, friend me or like my page on Facebook. Or come find me on Twitter or Pinterest too. I am always practicing Intentional Intouchness so chat at me please. I live for conversations.

And, as always, Thanks to you for your visit.

Oh Universe, What Would You Have Me Do?

We mistrust ourselves so much, we have to hand much of our decision making over to another power. We create elaborate ways to make decisions. Drop a divining line down and see which way it swings to decide (dowsing pendulum). Pick your arm up and drop it to see if you should eat it (applied kinesiology). Because it’s awfully hard admitting that you have no faith in your own decisions and easier to give it over to something else. The exception being God. But most of us are faithless and frenetic.

The Drowning man story is the best story ever which humorlessly depicts how our lack of sight and faith keeps us from seeing the divine signs sent to us.

A fellow was stuck on his rooftop in a flood. He was praying to God for help.

Soon a man in a rowboat came by and the fellow shouted to the man on the roof, “Jump in, I can save you.”

The stranded fellow shouted back, “No, it’s OK, I’m praying to God and he is going to save me.”

So the rowboat went on.

Then a motorboat came by. “The fellow in the motorboat shouted, “Jump in, I can save you.”

To this the stranded man said, “No thanks, I’m praying to God and he is going to save me. I have faith.”

So the motorboat went on.

Then a helicopter came by and the pilot shouted down, “Grab this rope and I will lift you to safety.”

To this the stranded man again replied, “No thanks, I’m praying to God and he is going to save me. I have faith.”

So the helicopter reluctantly flew away.

Soon the water rose above the rooftop and the man drowned. He went to Heaven. He finally got his chance to discuss this whole situation with God, at which point he exclaimed, “I had faith in you but you didn’t save me, you let me drown. I don’t understand why!”

To this God replied, “I sent you a rowboat and a motorboat and a helicopter, what more did you expect?”

We are given so much and yet our brains don’t see what we’ve got but rather focus on what we don’t have.

Meditation and yoga are ways to reach our larger calmer parental minds, the voices we could trust to make decisions for us. But these processes are not a “one time and done” kinda thing. They require discipline and time and pain. Modern Americans have no time for any of these. And in essence, were not really worth it.Oh Universe, What Would You Have Me Do?

The beautiful thing about being young is that you are told what to do. You resent every little syllable you had to obey but when you find yourself without the direction, you may end up asking the Universe what it may want of you? And it may be super hard to find that first answer. But that is where I am right now.

And If you enjoyed what you read, subscribe, via the subscription box in the sidebar, to my thrice weekly posts via your emailbox. And visit me on Instagram to see my daily pictures, friend me or like my page on Facebook. Or come find me on Twitter or Pinterest too. I am always practicing Intentional Intouchness so chat at me please. I live for conversations.

And, as always, Thanks to you for your visit.

Self-Trust and The Need to Acknowledge Our Creativity

At some point, modern thought leaders had to listen to and value their own creativity to form their theories and opinions that were outside their culturally acceptable boxes. They had to weave what they knew with what they felt and go beyond the conformity edict from their schooling. And thus we had the Civil Rights movement, Jung’s counter theories to Freud’s, and Sandra Lee’s Semi-Homemade food revolution.

When we acknowledge how we feel about our world around us and share it, we find a comfort and a trust within ourselves and in this experience, we are rewarded with praise and wonder. This is a basic premise for our existence and the magic of creativity.Self-Trust and The Need to Acknowledge Our Creativity on Shalavee.com

Yet the outright fear I see in people’s faces when I mention the idea of allowing themselves to be creative is alarming. The general population is not supported in being true to themselves. Instead, they are told that if they do as they are told, stand in line, fit in, and prepare for the worse, they will live safe lives. Somehow safe became happy. And so we sell our individuality down the river for a promise of security.

But fitting in feels like crap. It’s in the company of the people you know you belong with that you feel most at home regardless of whether you are related to them. Your values are the same, you see each other as you truly are, and you call them community.Self-Trust and The Need to Acknowledge Our Creativity on Shalavee.com

The world isn’t a community and it does not support individuality. Sure, unique creative people are rewarded with movie and music contracts to entertain the masses but they still had to prove their creativity and uniqueness beforehand. They had to strike someone as profitable too. We ironically crave to see it and are equally terrified by it.

What happens when we express our true selves and become vulnerable? We fear that we will be rejected even outcast. It seems a sort of death. But creating has no bearing on our daily survival right? But then again, how can I ever trust people who like my false offering of myself? I mistrust those who do not know the true me and if I am not allowing for the true me to be seen, I will stay alone and suspicious of the world I long to belong to.Self-Trust and The Need to Acknowledge Our Creativity on Shalavee.com

We are pack animals. Being alone only serves to make us nuttier. Perfectionism is only about us and keeps us from connecting with others. And connecting with others is where we truly live. Where we can find hope is in our collective humanity when we hear others telling the same stories we could tell of fear and loneliness and our experience with human drama.

When we do not practice our own individuality, we feel disoriented and disconnected from ourselves and there is no reflection of us in the world. This causes us strife and anxiety. Our purpose here is unclear and we just end up surviving and grieving what we don’t understand is our birthright to give ourselves. Not allowing ourselves to be creative and instead to search for ourselves by shopping in a discount store leaves us with a feeling of crazed hopelessness.

So where are the psychological statistics that support this need to shift our educational practices? Where are the warnings that tell us we are not what we buy! Nowhere because they aren’t profitable. And people do as they know. So I guess the change is up to the people. In fact, it’s always been up to each of us.Self-Trust and The Need to Acknowledge Our Creativity on Shalavee.com

We can not possibly make any lasting differences in our world if we don’t prioritize our mental health first. And a society that considers anxieties and low self-esteem as a norm seems pretty powerless to make any changes. We need to start by trusting ourselves. If that takes a few anti-anxiety meds, group meetings, and some really ugly artwork, so be it.

Once you see what you can break free of, you can never truly see things the same way again. And your hope and self-trust spreads as you reach your hand out to help the next person see a little light in their dark world. Hope is a gift you give yourself and one you can eventually help to give your world. It is my hope that just one person today has a perspective shift on their need to create and thus find out who they are in their world and what they need to shift to support this change.

And If you enjoyed what you read, subscribe, via the subscription box in the sidebar, to my thrice weekly posts via your email box. And visit me on Instagram to see my daily pictures, friend me or like my page on Facebook. Or come find me on Twitter or Pinterest  too. I am always practicing Intentional In-touchness so chat at me please. I live for conversations.

And, as always, Thanks to you for your visit.

Kindergarten Homework

With our enthusiastic “Go get’em” faces on, we waved our son onto the number 14 bus bound for Kindergarten. Maybe September allergies made my husband’s eyes water or maybe it was his relief that our child survived being stuck at home with me for the past 5 years. I contained my giddiness as I snapped that fateful picture of him waving back from the bus steps. We were each about to learn what going to school and developing new systems meant to us.Kindergarten Homework

The little guy loved school. Early in the year, I paid a visit to him and his 17 pint-sized classmates in their new classroom. I wanted to meet his teacher and to gather context for my son’s random, and sometimes jarring, disclosures of daily happenings. I’d been told she ran her classroom as smoothly as a Barney episode and I agreed after seeing her in action. She was generous with her praise and commendably judicious with a spastic group of five-year-olds. I felt my heart burst for all their sweetness and hardships. I wanted to wipe the pizza sauce off their faces and tie all their dirty untied shoelaces. And then I had to leave. Better her than me.Kindergarten Homework on Shalavee.com

Why was I surprised when the ridiculous quantity of paper began to flood our house? We got monthly activity schedules and cafeteria menus earnestly printed on green and pink papers followed by the “homework” sheets for the math and reading “clubs”. After a twenty-year hiatus, I had “homework” because it would take a herculean effort for my five-year-old son to list ten books we read in any given month plus their authors. Instead, he drew pictures for two books he liked. His reward was tattoos and bookmarks. I was rewarded with the return of these same drawings caught up in the paper river flowing from his “Dolphin” folder.

I absolutely loved my son’s drawings of primitive smiling suns and the stick people who suddenly had on pants because one of his bossy girlfriends proclaimed them necessary, although his stick figures soon returned to their original nakedness. And, of course, I liked the pictures where I was a part of the action. Sadly, only five percent of the rest of the book bag busyness consisted of these. Instead, I got glued, cut, colored, and constructed things of all sorts randomly based on holidays or nursery rhymes. Paper dolls tenuously perched on Popsicle sticks, sticker books, cereal cemented to construction paper, and drawings from his classmates. These barged into our home and tumbled out of his green backpack onto the kitchen table, sofa, and floor. And each and every loving one of these papers was suddenly and forever my responsibility.  

If I had kept every one of these suckers, in twenty years I’d have ended up on one of those hoarding shows, walking between mountains of papers and being buried alive under them. And, left up to my son, each little scrap of paper he’d ever put pen, crayon, scissors, or marker to was precious enough to keep forever. So, I smiled and nodded as I placed everything in the basket on top of the refrigerator, the paper avalanche repository. I had a secret stealth plan called The Purge, the goal of which was to land all the papers worth keeping into an out-of-sight place in an orderly fashion because the opposite of an overwhelming landslide is doable chunks.Kindergarten Homework on Shalavee.com

The three-step Purge system started with the placement of the papers in the basket atop the fridge. I then stealthily moved them to a drawer upstairs and, after being sorted essential from non, they would go into a portfolio in a closet. My theory was that if you were to mark the start and end of the monthly paper ocean with a ribbon marker in the basket, after a week I feel pretty sure the child would have forgotten about that hunk of stuff between the markers. There’s an official month of paper stuff to sort then. But out of sight means out of mind; I couldn’t let the child become an obstacle to The Purge.

Only when I was alone in the house, did I attempt to ruthlessly sort and cull this mess for the essence of my child. Parental wisdom must fight that guilty voice. One drawing of trees and kitties and a page of E’s are great but twenty of them are not. Into a paper recycle bag went the extras plus that which does not at all show the talents and charms of my child. I felt guilt-free when I pitched the gigantic paper penny, nothing against my man Abraham. And while I may have been kind and offered my in-laws the opportunity to take from the bag any art they may have liked, then Hi Ho Hi Ho off to the grey recycling container it went.

The final step was to create the holder for everything I’d culled. For his daycare artwork, I’d made a giant cardboard pita pocket portfolio and taped up the edges. It worked out nicely. Poster-board would work with packing tape seams. Certain well-known crafty people have made these attractive with fabric covered foam core and ribbon ties. I saved the pretty for later after I’ve mastered the simple de-clutter. This was the trench-work for the kindergarten homework clutter attack and it was all about biting off only as much as I could chew.Kindergarten Homework on Shalavee.com

I visited his classroom again that year. His lovely teacher and I spoke about educational mandates. All the busy work is still proof to the parents and legislators that the children are learning. And conversely, the clubs’ homework proves the parents are working with and reading to their children. She said if she had her way, there would be two recesses for her kindergartners (and 7 years later she would finally get that when she taught my daughter in Pre-K). Maybe there are too many cooks in the educational kitchen substantiating the price of their ingredients, but they’ll never pay this magnificent teacher enough. In fact, she’d been saving his “special” work from his year in a scrapbook she gave us parents at the end of the year. Why was I doing any of this when she’d had it covered? 

None the wiser for his mother’s devious deeds, my busy-brained boy continued to be overly stimulated as he dumped out his paper laden book bag. One day in March, he came home excitedly talking about Rosa Parks and Harriet “Tubb-s-man”. Apparently, he’d learned a lot about civil unrest and the Underground Railroad for black history month. They sang freedom songs, made paper buses, and discussed the mistreatment of the slaves. I was a little thrown by the sudden candidness of the subject and I commenced with a serious “discussion” about the ramifications of slavery and the inherent rights of all human beings to their freedom. After a long thoughtful silence, he said “Hey, I’ve got an idea. Let’s play slaves!” Nothing new there.

(This piece of creative non-fiction was one of the very first as I began to write on-line and Published on Divine Caroline, a writing site that gave me reason to write. I then began this blog a year later but never republished it here. This Kindergarten Homework’s grand edited revival.)

And If you enjoyed what you read, subscribe, via the subscription box in the sidebar, to my thrice weekly posts via your email box. And visit me on Instagram to see my daily pictures, friend me or like my page on Facebook. Or come find me on Twitter or Pinterest  too. I am always practicing Intentional In-touchness so chat at me please. I live for conversations.

And, as always, Thanks to you for your visit.

 

A Few Moments of Thought in the Bathroom

Our house is over one hundred years old. When you use the front upstairs bathroom in the middle of the house over the front door, you hear it groaning. I assume it’s the pipes but why they groan, I won’t know until the day something ruptures.

I’m in there to dye my very white hair roots. When we moved here I was dying my slightly gray and very short hair red. I’m totally gray now and have gone long and dark. As I’m doing the haphazard job I usually do to drown my head in chemicals, intermittently wiping my face and shirt where I’ve splattered hair dye, I see a bug flying around me. I swing at him and continue in the mirror and then I see something crawling on the sink.

So first I think how completely creepy it is for anything to be flying and then suddenly crawling like another beast completely. I consider squashing it because it’s freaked me out. And then I think about the times I’ve scolded my daughter for randomly offing offending ants on the front porch while saving pill bugs to torture. And I leave him alone.A Few Moments of Thought in the Bathroom on Shalavee.com

Hair dye has twenty minutes to cook. I sit down to work on something and think, why not just this exact piece of writing. Because so much mundane thoughts are exactly the place where people spend their thought time in. They do not spend their majority of time in their prettiest pictures or most smoothed over words but in random vitreous brain floater thoughts that float through barely noticed, shadows of fears and worries of life and love.

Seven more minutes to wait until I officially become a little younger. I pull back my skin on cheeks to remember what I looked like without these jowls twenty years ago. When I met Mark. Genetics gave me these jowls and this prematurely white hair. And it’s doling out still more surprises every year.Good thing my skin ages well.

I set my mind to not panic or apply it to how I’m a horrid aging person. I vow instead to follow the breadcrumbs of health and self-care. To make the next appointment necessary and the next and the next and follow through with taking every little pill and walk every mile. That is the only thing to be done. That and choosing to not squash a bug every once in a while.

And If you enjoyed what you read, subscribe, via the subscription box in the sidebar, to my thrice weekly posts via your email box. And visit me on Instagram to see my daily pictures, friend me or like my page on Facebook. Or come find me on Twitter or Pinterest  too. I am always practicing Intentional In-touchness so chat at me please. I live for conversations.

And, as always, Thanks to you for your visit.

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