Tuesday, February 9, 2016

What If?

What if money were no object?

What if we all did for a living what we said we were going to do when asked as a child?  We might have a lot of clowns, ballerinas and astronauts...and we all might be really happy.    

If I followed my inner child’s desire, I'd be a truck driver or a vet,  a writer,  an animal sanctuary owner,  an interior designer,  a superhero,  an elephant caretaker,  an animal energy healer,  a human energy healer,  a doctor,  an artist, or an adventurer.  Or, maybe all of those things!

What if clouds were things we could float on until we felt more confident?

What if we all had clear skin so doctors could figure out easily what wasn’t working inside of us?

What if all we needed to be physically healthy all the time is to be comfortable with who we are and follow our dreams?

What if we could talk to animals and they could talk to us?

What if we had rainbow-colored eyes?

What if we could communicate telepathically with others without having to know their language?

What if borders didn’t exist?

What if our biggest concern was how to make others happy?

What if I was sure of what I wanted to do when I grow up?  What if we all were?

What if there were enough hours in the day to do everything we wanted to do?

What if traveling across the globe only entailed dreaming of the place we’d like to visit?

What if we never followed our dreams?

What if we could change what if to why not?

What would you do, if you could do or be anything?

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Adventures Make Life Richer

A Sea of Potential
I just finished reading a blog by a woman named Kendra who decided to chronicle her #yearoffear challenge where she spent a year trying new things or stepping out of her comfort zone.  It resulted in, she says, one of the most rewarding years of her life.  I want one of those, a most rewarding year of my life.

This is just exactly the premise of my blog, Life as Dessert.  But, while I had started the blog in an effort to document experiences I was going to have, it fell short.  I started this blog a year before one of the most challenging years of my life, and I abandoned my blog as well as anything that resembled my normal life.

I developed two herniated discs in my neck that necessitated nearly a year and a half of recovery and physical therapy.  Two neurologists suggested surgery, but I wanted to heal on my own with a little help from epidural steroid shots.   During this past year and a half, I have had a lot of time for reflection about how I want to live my life going forward.  Sure, my roller coaster days are over (too bad), but I feel like many other doors have opened for me.  My life as I knew had changed and it has been a year of self discovery so enlightening that I consider it one of the best years of my life.   My neck is healing too!

Why do we seem to slip into a rut over and over again?  It's like watching a bowling ball heading toward the gutter and then, once it falls in, it rocks back and forth for a moment, but never gets back out.  Sometimes we get stuck like that.

I remember flipping through the pages of a beauty magazine when I was fifteen or sixteen and thinking about all those models whose hair and makeup were perfect and why couldn't I have my hair cut and styled by one of the same people who do their hair?  Why couldn't I?  I walked out into the living room and announced to my parents that I'd like to go to New York City and have my hair done by a famous stylist.  After a short pause, they both said, sounds like fun!  Six months later, they taught me how to hail a cab and figure out a tip and they put me on a plane to New York.  I came back home that evening with the best haircut I'd ever had and one hell of an awesome memory.  My peers were all very jealous, I found out later at a high school reunion.

So, let the adventure begin!  I hope you have many adventures too.  Life is what we make of it.  Don't get into your eighties wishing you had done that one thing you had always wanted to do.  Do it now. I can't wait to hear about your adventures!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Finding Ways to Enjoy My Journey

Wise Necklace
So I'm kind of mad at myself.  I started this blog in the hopes that I could document my journey back to loving my life. I had grown to hate the path my life was taking and I had great intentions of posting a blog every week about my adventures.

Then, I experienced some of the darkest days I've had in a long time starting last spring.  I quit blogging, writing or being creative at all.  I'm slowly coming back.  In order to come back, I had to take action.

I had some fun experiences this summer that I wouldn't have had if I not been striving to find that elusive thing that would bring me back to life.  I traveled.  I traveled a lot.  I went to see my dad at the beach for two weeks.  I love spending time with my dad.

Beach front street in Gulfport, FL after
tropical storm Debby.
The last  two days of the trip, however,  were punctuated with tropical storm Debby.  I've never been in a tropical storm before and I was completely awed at what a creepy sound the wind makes when sustained winds blow through the houses in the neighborhood by the beach.  It was kind of exciting.

Empire State Building
I met a couple of college friends from Austria in New York City for a few days during their honeymoon.  No, I promise I wasn't an intrusion; they assured me.  We had an absolute blast and I fell in love with this crazy, active, alive, busy city as we constantly discovered new things and walked our asses off!  I hope someday I can return to New York...perhaps meeting a publisher for the first time or some other optimistic writing endeavor of mine.

Finally, my hubby and I spent two weeks in Canada.  We visited with friends and then went to our friends' cottage (water access only) to unwind on the river.  It was beautiful.  We went on day trips exploring cottage country, drove the boat around the river and in the evenings would come back to the cottage and to the welcome of a neighbor's pet duck, Mr. Quackers.  I fell in love with this creature.  What a wise old soul Mr. Quackers is and it's funny how sometimes we connect with someone else, maybe not even the same species, in a way that is almost spiritual.  I hope to be able to see him again someday.

Mr. Quackers

I've realized that in order for life to be worth living, you have to make things happen.  That wasn't the case when I was young.  Things just kind of happened to me.   Sometimes I feel like my 30's and 40's were wasted time because I didn't make things happen for myself.  I feel as if I've wasted time in my life.  I'm beginning to realize that that's not necessarily true.

I saw a quote the other day about this.

“Wherever we are now is just a step on the way to somewhere else. Whatever we do and however well we do it, it is only a preparation to do something else, something different than what we are doing at this moment.”
~Robert Louis Stevenson

So as I watch people much younger than me who are much more "successful" in their careers than I am, I have to remember that life is not about the timeline that I put on myself or about comparing myself to others.  I haven't failed if I didn't reach my goal yet.  There is still time.  It's about the journey and the experiences I get along the way to my goal.

I'm going to try to not be so mad and hard on myself.   I have to keep my head up and realize that life is half what I pursue for myself and 90 percent of what is presented to me.  I know that I can't just sit on the couch and wait for things to happen to me, but I now have a little more faith in the fact that I'm exactly where I am supposed to be right now and good things will come my way.  I just need to take more trips and have more adventures.  I'm sure Mr. Quackers would agree.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

The Value of Spent Foliage

Every once in a while after work, I like to go outside and walk in my yard.  I envision this yard with its randomly planted flowers and shrubs as an oasis, just waiting to be landscaped and tended.  Smooth, curvy lines of lush grass brushing up against neatly mulched beds, prolific gardens with sweet, delicious vegetables and fruits, and water features, statues and benches just waiting for wildlife to loft upon the stout postures of the hardscapes is what I see.

In reality, the yard is a mishmash of collected flowers and shrubs spaced far apart but in the basic design of my mind's eye of what I dream for this backyard.  The plants all have stories and history, which make me love them.  And there are other plants that are deposited here by the birds and squirrels and washed down from the top of the hill that volunteer to grow here without my hand involved in their rooting and these surprise tenants delight me and make me feel good that they picked my yard to make a home.

I have not had the time, the money or the physical strength to do much to this backyard in the last few years except barely maintain it.  Three years ago I had a wicked case of plantar fasciitis that wouldn't quit and walking on the uneven yard just made the pain unbearable.  Then, I broke my ankle.  Crutches don't work very well outside, so another year passed by without giving the yard any attention.  This past summer, I had a torn meniscus and could barely bend my knees.  I had the surgery and finally, I feel like I am able to start doing some yard work.  Knock on wood that nothing more pulls the rug out from beneath me; literally and figuratively.

So as I was walking around tonight after work, looking at the possibilities, I was noticing that many of my plants had started to sprout amid the brush of last years dead foliage.  Thin, light green leaves fingering through heaps of brown, strappy, brittle stems and leaves that took in their last ray of sunlight the day before the first frost.  This sloppy, bent over or stiff foliage continues to protect the vibrant growth of the roots and buds underground over the winter until it split open the soil to begin growing again this spring. I just need to get a rake or a cultivator and clear it all out in order to let it grow as strongly as it can.  It is in these moments of realizing that life goes on and that we are not in charge of some of the most miraculous things that happen every day gives me hope that things will get better.

Maybe there is value to the sadness that I've had in the last year.  The depression, the feelings of immobility and loss, frustration, emotional detritis, the weight of life (and death) that has settled onto my shoulders, perhaps, has protected me and the fresh growth under the surface of my psyche that just wasn't ready to emerge yet.  Maybe all I need to do is to rake off the underbrush and clear away the dead and no longer useful thoughts to get to the new growth.  Maybe there was healing that needed to be done before I could shed these thoughts of hopelessness. Maybe the healing had to happen under a protective cloak of cynicism, distrust and disenfranchisment so as not to damage the new growth while it is too tender and underdeveloped.     I'm not sure how that works because it seems that the feelings of hopelessness is counterintuitive to the healing process, but I've managed to fight through a lot of this.  

I've done some very personal writing of my feelings in a notebook on a pretty regular basis.  I've made contacts with people who are writing about some of the same things that I struggle with and that has given me a feeling of perspective and of community.  I've talked to loved ones and my therapist about my loss of interest in anything and desire to hide from life and I've muscled through some pretty tough days and nights.  And throughout all of this, I've always held on to the belief that there is something just beyond my reach that will change all of this.  I'm just not close to it yet.

So, as I look out over the yard, I think I'll begin to clear out the pine straw and dead leaves.  I used to lover gardening and, although the idea of raking doesn't sound like fun, maybe I'll find something valuable under the surface.  Wish me luck.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Small Things

I miss this.....
Since I've become sensitive to all dairy products, I've missed cheese the most.  I was never a big fan of ice cream unless it was my dad's homemade vanilla ice cream.  Alfredo sauce or a tall glass of milk...ehhh, I can take it or leave it.  Sure, they make non-dairy cheese now, but I've NEVER had any that tasted anything short of YUCK!  Yet, I continue to occasionally purchase different vegan frozen dinners or "cheese" slices in the hopes of finding something that scratches that itch of wanting to wrap my mouth around a big, gooey, hot slice of cheese pizza.  To no avail.

Finally, I found a company that makes a frozen macaroni and vegan cheese, Candle Cafe and, despite my repeated disappointment with trying new vegan items, I bought it anyway.  It was fantastic!  I can't get enough of it and it tastes just like what I remember mac and cheese tastes like.

So, when I was grocery shopping today and ran across a new shredded vegan cheese that was the same cheese used in Candle Cafe's food, I was ecstatic.  All I could think about was how such a little thing had such a powerful effect of making me happy.

I've not been very happy in the last year.  I've had one challenge after another and I can't seem to swim ahead of the constantly flowing current and break loose of the undertow of difficulty, setbacks, letdowns, depression, fear and grief that have made up my life lately.

That's not to say I'm never happy.  I have an amazing husband who has been my rock and has had to carry me as I stumble and trip through life right now. He does so without so much as a grumble.   I'm glad I can make my mortgage payment, I have a  family who is loving, kind and generous, a cat that plays hide and seek with me and makes me laugh, and a large circle of very close friends who push away the clouds for me sometimes.

But I'm not laughing like I used to.  I don't find pleasure in things I used to, such as sewing, writing, drawing and sprucing up furniture.  I don't seek out activities on the weekends that would give me a sense of adventure or add more photos to my photo album and I want to sleep a lot more than I used to.  I'm worried that I'm withering away and I don't know how to climb out of this life that seems dark and heavy.

I'm trying, however, to take baby steps back to the person I used to be.  That's why I wanted to start this blog;  to force myself to experience adventure and put some life back in my life; in all parts of my life. It's hard.  It's going to be the little things, the small things that I force myself to notice that will help me crawl back, I hope.  So, I found some cheese today that I can't wait to taste.  A small thing, yes, but perhaps it will be part of a platter of appetizers that will excite my palate and make me want to crave more.  Bon Appetit!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Classic Cars and Mid Life

The email subject line said, “I found it.”  It was from my husband who had discovered a classic car for me to buy.  I wasn’t really in the market to buy an old car, but the idea sounded intriguing. 
            My husband and I had been going to the neighborhood Cruise-Ins where local classic car owners gather on a Saturday afternoon to park and walk among each others’ ’69 Olds, ‘70’s Camaros or ‘50’s Bel Airs.  There is lots of talk about restoration, speed, and memories of favorite cars from childhood.
            I’ve always liked old cars, the smell, the feel of the old metal dashboards and thin steering wheels and the sound of the motor as it idles has a certain way of taking me back to my younger days.  Not a typical interest for a woman, but my husband thinks it’s cool.  When I was thirteen, I began driving my mom’s 1969 Pontiac Bonneville, driving around the neighborhood, my vision barely clearing the dashboard.  Then it was on to her 1977 Ford Thunderbird.  I could get about 10 of my friends in that car, before seatbelt laws.  You could go 80 miles an hour and it felt like you were driving on a silk road.  Needless to say, I got my first speeding ticket in that car!
            But the earliest car I remember was her 1950 Comet.  I was barely five years old and I clearly remember this car.   She’d warm up the car in the cold Minnesota morning while I ate breakfast and then we would get in the car to go to my ice skating lessons.  The woven, plastic, turquoise seats were still cold even though the car had been idling in the garage for 15 minutes. 
            It probably had something to do with the fact that the floor pan on the driver’s side had rusted out from road salt and all that separated mom’s feet from the road below was a piece of cardboard.  The tail lights looked like cat eye glasses with their turned up angle and the little triangular side window would pop out just a little so mom could flick her cigarette ash out of it.  In the dark of those mornings, I used to love to watch the red glow of the short cigarette butt make sparks behind the car as it hit the slushy ground when mom would throw it out the window. 
            So, when I opened the email from my husband, there it was.  Pictures of a 1950’s Comet for sale, just like the one I remember in my childhood. 
            What on Earth would I do with an old car?  We had no room in the driveway for it, I had no extra money to pour into fixing it up, although it looked to be in pretty good shape and I didn’t have the time.
            On the other hand, I thought, you don’t see old Comets for sale very often, this one was a good price and my husband said he’d help me fix it up. 
            Was I just looking for a way to be young and impulsive again?  I had been going through a bit of a rough patch.  Mid-life crisis, perhaps, and I had been wringing my hands to my husband about how life was passing me by.  I wasn’t in the job I envisioned myself in, I wasn’t making nearly the money I’d hoped I’d be making by this time in my life, I hadn’t seen the world like I’d hoped and I wasn’t even doing much writing, which I love to do.  Mid-life was hitting me square in the face.
            I wanted to turn back the clock to a time when possibilities were endless.  When the future looked like a vast field with plenty of time and no limits to what you could do.  Was I getting this car in a feeble attempt to turn back time?  To reclaim my youth?  Perhaps, but what was wrong with that? 
            We met the 18-wheeler transport truck in the parking lot near our home and it was exciting to see the car finally here!  When the truck driver backed it off the truck, I saw my Minnesota childhood all over again.  I was really excited.  That excitement soon gave way to reality, however.
            The Comet, advertised by the seller as having very little rust, had a significant amount of body damage from rust.  And, although, I was excited to get to learn how to drive a stick shift on a steering column, it quickly became evident that the transmission would need work.  The car kept getting stuck in second gear as my husband drove it around the parking lot.  “It’s okay.  We’ll fix it up,” my husband said.
            I took pictures of me standing with the car and posted them online.  A flood of messages came back from my friends:  “When can we have a ride?”, “Cool car!”, “It’s totally you!”  But, I was afraid to drive it.  The gears are hard to manage and the car just didn’t seem reliable.
            One night, my husband suggested we take the Comet out and get some dinner.
            We hadn’t gotten five miles down the road when I noticed a burning odor.
            “Do you smell that?”  I asked.
            “Yeah, let’s pull over for a minute and check it out,” my husband said.
            After a brief inspection of the car, turns out one of the brakes locked up.  We would have to sit for a while to let it cool off and then head back home, hoping that the brakes would work.
            As we sat on the curb in a strip mall waiting for the wheel to cool, I thought maybe this isn’t the car for me.  It’s an awesome car, but maybe my attempt to recapture my youth is misguided.  Maybe it’s not what I have that represents my youth, but it’s my attitude and actions.  Maybe I need to act like I’m young again instead of lamenting my age.  Maybe I was missing the point.   Maybe it’s not the Comet that needed repairs.
It was me and my attitude about life that needed a tune up.
            Or, maybe I just needed to buy a red convertible instead.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Craning my neck to see my future

Yesterday morning, I heard a raucus noise coming from outside.  I ran outside and looked up to see a large flock of Sandhill cranes migrating south right over our house.  It was loud, graceful and beautiful.  One group of birds briefly turned west, but quickly made a cloverleaf and joined their counterparts flying south.

I've seen these birds before.  Every year in late fall early winter, they fly right over out house on their trip to warmer climes.  It's breathtaking.  One year there were thousands!  It took a full 10 minutes for them to all fly over the house, all of them trilling, creaking, purring their unique and notable high-pitched calls to each other.

I was struck by the confidence in which they know where they are going.  I am aware that these birds have a kind of compass of sorts in their heads that help them find their way south, but how do they know when to go?  What exact path to take?  Why do they go every year?  Why can't I be that confident about MY life?

I'm working on that.  I'm hoping that this is the year that I change the way I look at the path my life is taking and MAKE things happen for me instead of letting things happen to me.  You know, a sense of adventure for my life.  I want to look forward to things such as travel and arrival on the beaches of Florida like these birds.  I want to pack my bags confidently and just GO on an adventure without worrying about being away from home, did I turn the stove off or did I lock the back door?  Crap!  I forgot my toothbrush!

I want to exude confidence like the sandhill crane.  Getting to that point will be the challenge.

As I write this, I'm sitting on the couch lamenting the loss of my last day of Christmas vacation and having to return to the classroom tomorrow.  Why should the last day of vacation signal the last day of  my perceived "freedom"?  Why do I dread the return to work?  My job is not giving me the satisfaction it once did, but why not think of tomorrow as a new opportunity for change?  I'm not sure.  I need to reprogram my thought processes, but that's very difficult.  It's so easy to get caught in a rut.

For now, I'll continue to look to the sky for my answers.  I've always thought that there is so much to learn from animals.  I think that they are wiser than us in so many ways and can teach us how to live.  I say this as Morgan, my cat, wakes up and yawns, repositions herself and then lays back down.  Maybe I just need more sleep.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Back in the Saddle...

I know it's been a long time since my last post.  I've been kind of busy....

At the point when I quit writing, I was doing hospice care for my beloved cat, Miss Kitty, who needed my full attention.  I was up at 4am to begin medicines for the day and the pills, liquids, injections, baths, fluids and laundry continued throughout the day.  She had been diagnosed in January with anemia from complications with kidney failure and the vet said she probably would decline within two weeks.  She lasted until August 29th.   I still can't get used to how quiet our house is.  I miss her madly.  She was a magical soul.

I also had knee surgery and started a new job and frankly, didn't feel at all like writing, let alone anything else.  I am trying desperately to pull my rear up off the ground and join life again.  My initial purpose of beginning this blog to fall in love with my life again back in early 2011 illustrates how blissfully unaware I was at what was to come, since life hit me with a force of a two-by-four-to-the-face last year.

If you ask me what my New Year's resolution is, I'd tell you that I don't make resolutions.  I don't believe that we should measure our lives by the twelve-month calendar and that life is a continuum,  but this year I might make an exception.

Yes, the standard "I want to lose weight, eat better and exercise more" is on the list.  Also, I want to cut down on my sugar, write more and invest in my writing.  I want to somehow find more hours in the day to indulge in the things that used to bring me joy and work on myself more.  I want to let go of regret about what hasn't happened in my life and embrace more optimism and initiative about things that I CAN do in my life.  By the way, if anyone has any suggestions about how to find more time in the day, let me know.  Getting up earlier is not an option, however.

Over the Christmas holidays, my family was all together and it was wonderful.  In fact, one of the best holiday seasons I think I've had in a long, long time.  We all went to see Cavalia - Odysseo.  It is a spectacular show illustrating the beauty of the relationship we have with horses.  That sentence doesn't really do it justice, but I don't know how else to explain it if you've never seen it.

While watching the show and the acrobatics with the performers, both human and equine, I had a thought that maybe those performers were doing everything they wanted with their lives.  They were making an impression on people by performing a beautiful show, they were in top physical shape, some of them hanging on to poles gracefully spinning 40 feet off the ground or holding themselves upside down off of the sides of a full-gallop horse.  They were creating art and expression and they were creating music and making life happen for themselves.  I want that for myself.  I want to be expressing myself to my fullest potential, creatively, physically and mentally.  I want to influence or coach others in a way.  I want to be thought of as top in my field, I want to be physically and mentally fit.  I want to feel good when I wake up and stay energetic throughout the day.

I know it will take baby steps, but I'm finally willing to put in the hard effort it will take.  I'm done letting life pass me by.  I'm back in the saddle.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

The Way the Wind Blows..

E. E. Cummings once wrote that "It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are."  Many of us, me included, have let life kind of happen to us. We've not created what we wanted us to be, but have just reacted to whatever way the wind blew us.  Jobs, friendships, situations seem to find us instead of the other way around.  Bending and bowing to the direction of the wind, the pull of the tides or the direction someone turns us to face will eventually shape you.  By my 40's, I realized that from the outside, I have everything.  A beautiful home, a wonderful husband, a rewarding (but stressful) job, healthy family.  But from the inside, I feel as if I've just hopped on whatever taxi was driving by, with no real direction guided by my dreams.  Wrapped in brightly colored streamers, woven around me like a May Pole, it has become a beautiful life, but constricting and limiting.

We move certain ways in our lives based on expectations, responsibilities, and the way the wind is blowing.  Sometimes the direction we think we are going in life is not heading the way we planned and we don't realize it until we look back.  It wasn't apparent to me until I looked back and saw that my life had veered off the course of my desire lines and onto the expected, paved sidewalks.

My dad once sent me an obituary that he clipped from the paper with a note.  "Isn't this beautiful, " he wrote.  "I'd like you to write my obituary like this.  You almost feel like you know this woman and what a life!"

It was beautifully written.  Truth is, my dad has had, and continues to have, an incredible life.  He gives freely to those in need. He had an adventurous life as an employee of the airlines many years ago, where he traveled the world.  He continues to travel the world in his 70's.  He has overcome mind-boggling personal struggles and has dealt with his share of tragedies.  He's very healthy and active.  He has a Zen attitude like I've never seen in a person and has such an aura of peace about everything that happens to him.  He also laughs frequently and has many, many friends and a varied social life.

He's already written his obituary.  I can't write it any better.

Patti Digh, author of "Life is a Verb" says to "Live an irresistible obituary. The story of our lives is one that we should create, not wait for others to write after we're gone."  I'm working on that.  I've made a few steps in that direction.

A few days ago, I was thinking about what to blog about.  I felt as if I hadn't done much to add more life to my life this summer....like go hand gliding, sailing, traveling, trying a new skill, or making new friends and then a friend of mine remarked that I had, in small, nearly imperceptible steps.

I'm having surgery Monday to FIX a bad knee (physical), I changed jobs to EXPERIENCE (mental) a new challenge and I bought an antique car just like my mom had when I was a child to FOCUS (emotional) on a time when I remember my mom being healthy, happy and alive.

I need to change how I look at things because often times the small changes that make the big difference seem to elude us.  I'm trying.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Life is Better With A Sugar Buzz.

I haven't written in a while because I'm losing steam.  I haven't even really got my feet under me with this project and already I'm failing.  Challenging yourself and change is hard.  I'ts not like I'm trying to change  a lot.  I'm just trying to exercise more, get my mind wrapped around positive things and get myself out there...doing things...things that I can look forward to.  I've already fallen back into my old routines. Epic fail.

I was eating lunch at a coffee shop the other day and I noticed at the table beside me there was a woman and her two preschool-aged kids and another woman who was probably Grandma. The girl child (about 2-3 years old) was squirming in her chair, but nibbling on her peanut butter sandwich between distractions.   Boy child (about 8-9 months) was in his high chair, banging on the table while mom was feeding boy child on her left, telling girl child on her right to sit still and eat and then barely getting in a bit of food from her own plate.  

As I'm watching this mom-dance between stuffing food down the gullett of baby boy whenever his mouth would veer close to her hand on one side of the table, and moving the little girl's glass away from the edge of the other side of the table, telling her to sit up, eat more, etc.,  I notice that the little boy's body was turned completely toward Grandma, who was eating her meal smiling. laughing, nodding and playfully touching