Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Mon, May 27, 2013: Marvelous Monday

My parents traditionally attend the Memorial Day parade in our town every year, so that's what we did first thing on Monday morning.  As is also our family tradition, we arrived super early and hung out for a while, watching the cars and people pass by.

One of the things I miss the most in the city is the lack of a little town center.  The town where I grew up became independent in 1786, almost 100 years before Colorado became a state (in 1876).  Rebellions happened here, and revolutions, and wild political ideas about freedom and equality.  One of the homes in the center of our town was part of the Underground Railroad and actually has a passage that runs under Route 20.  I miss the history and the defiant, independent spirit of the people here.  I feel like there is a richness to life out here that I just don't feel in Colorado.

The parade featured the Marquis (Fife and Drum Corps), and bagpipers, and antique cars and tractors and an antique fire engine that I didn't even know the town had.  There is pride here in the longevity of our culture and the richness of our past, and that feeling really resonated with me.

Later that afternoon, we headed to McLean's Game Refuge, a large outdoor area with lots of hiking trails and lots of...
 REAL TREES!!!!

And the smell of the woods...
And the quality of the light as it filtered in through broad leaves...
My soul was content.

I spotted a Pink Lady's Slipper, which in my experience is not a very common sight out here in the middle of the woods. It was really special to see it growing tall and bright among the decaying fallen leaves.  My father said, "It's a sign". 
I want to know: a sign of what?

The mountain laurels weren't blooming yet, but were easily identifiable by their distinct leaves.  I'm a little sad that I wasn't able to see their beautiful flowers, but maybe they will be out sometime before I leave. 
One of the best, most comforting things about walking in those woods was existing among trees whose names I know:

Oak...
And maple...
And more oak...
And elms, one of my favorite types of trees...
And hemlock...
It was grounding, and familiar, and put me in a peaceful state.  I didn't have to try here, or think too hard, as information about these forests has been fed to me since I was a child. It's second nature to understand northeastern woodlands for me, and I loved how easy it felt to be there.

Ferns, of course, lined the trail.  I love their intricate shadows.
And wild strawberries, yum!  None of the berries were out as it's too early in the season, but I envy the birds and animals who get to snack on them!

Up into an oak:
The bark of a white pine tree:
And moss... lots of rich, beautiful moss:
Shagbark hickory:
Our hike ended at Trout Pond, the place where we used to come to feed the geese in the winter.
This is a plant whose name I do not know.  I like that even somewhere so familiar, there is still something to learn. :)
There were yellow irises growing along the banks of the stream, and the rush of the water as it spilled over the dam was like a gentle arm around my shoulders.
It was necessary to leave this comfort, I think, as my lessons in Colorado have been important ones.  It is important to come back though, every once in a while, to fill my heart and spirit back up with the places and things that gave me the foundation of who I am.  Traveling back to Connecticut is kind of like my "reset" button, and helps me to default myself back to my core beliefs and values.  It reminds me of who I was and who I wanted to be when I was a child, which I think is maybe a more accurate reflection of our souls' purposes than whatever we think we should be doing as adults.

As for me, I wanted to be free and independent.  I wanted to live in the woods, off the land, using my own knowledge and preparation skills to survive.  I wanted to hunt and fight and win out over opposing forces.  I wanted to apply my intellect as a means for solving real problems.  I saw my life as a puzzle, with pieces slowly coming together to form a complete picture.  

Today (Wednesday), the forecast calls for severe thunderstorms due to the 90 degree temperatures that are incoming from farther west.  I am hoping that this is accurate, because it's been a very long time since I've enjoyed a furious slow-moving eastern thunderstorm.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Sun, May 26, 2013: Elements

My parents were away for the weekend when I arrived, so I had Sunday morning all to myself.  I sat in the kitchen, gazing out the large picture window that overlooks the backyard as I ate my breakfast.  What I would give for a view like that from my apartment!

The most captivating thing, aside from the raw beauty of the green grass and tall trees, was the way that the wind moved them. It was strange watching the crowns of the trees tossed around by the air, and noticing how those solid sentinels actually flexed and flowed as the wind rushed through them.  It brought to mind memories of watching my sister's hair move when we were underwater in our pool growing up.  It's strange that something as immaterial as air can make something as solid as a tree move in the same way as light, flowing hair moves when submerged.  

I got to see my parents, and my sister and her husband, and all is right with the world.

Fri, May 24 and Sat, May 25, 2013: Bound for Moo Moo Land

Day 1: Friday, May 24: Denver, CO to Terre Haute, IN
Kaylee and I were up bright early first thing on Friday morning, the first day of my summer break.  I've been itching to leave for weeks now, and it felt so liberating to finally be able to step on the gas and fly us across the country. 

Where were we heading?  Connecticut, of course!

I didn't take photographs during the trip at all.  At this point in my travels, most of the things I wish I could capture are things I'd have to go out of my way to see: the Gateway Arch in St. Louis, Missouri, or the gorgeous views from the Newburgh-Beacon Bridge in New York state.  

There are always moments, though, that end up etched into my memory like photographs, or short clips from a movie.  The prairie was lush and rich and green, the opposite of the way it appeared to me when I first moved to Colorado.  Kansas was furiously windy, and my car seemed eager to get pushed around all over the road by the air's invisible hands.  In the Flint Hills, we began rolling through a land dotted with thick stands of trees, and the trees only multiplied as we traveled further east.  Eastern Kansas seemed so lush to me that I wanted to leap out of my car and roll around in the thick grass and run with arms outstretched into the woods.

That evening, as the sun was setting, I noticed a strange circle hanging low on the horizon.  It dodged behind one of the many Missouri hills that surrounded us, and I lost sight of it for several minutes.  When it appeared again, I think my mouth literally dropped open.  It was the moon, full and watery opposite the sunset, stained with the pinks and oranges of the fading sunlight.  It was so low that it appeared to be an oval.  I was able to marvel at her for only a moment before those incessant hills swallowed her up again.  As we drove, I wished there was somewhere I could pull over to photograph the sight, but we were in the middle of a long stretch of road with no exits.  So, I contented myself instead by watching her flirt through the hills, catching a glimpse of her here and there when I could.  I think it was one of the most beautiful moonrises I have ever had the pleasure of witnessing.

Later that night, while driving through Illinois, a deer careened into the back of my car at full speed.  Apparently she thought she could make it across the road in time but ended up slamming into my car instead.  I felt horrible, even though I didn't do anything wrong, and I hope she was ok!

Day 2: Saturday, May 25: Terre Haute, IN to Granby, CT
I overslept a bit on Saturday morning, but hoped we could still make good time since I'd managed to make it to my perfect halfway point the night before. 

There is something magical that happens to the land when you cross the Mississippi River.  To the west of the Mississippi, there are trees in places but they are primarily scrubby prairie trees.  They always look gorgeous to my Colorado eyes, but they're different from eastern trees.  To the east of the Mississippi, the trees become eastern trees, and that's when I start to feel at home.  It's magical to me, crossing the Mississippi during the last moments of twilight one night, then waking up in Indiana and being surrounded by trees that make me feel at home.  In Indiana, the highways cut through thick forests of broad-leaved deciduous trees, and entering into that landscape feels like a small piece of heaven.

The rolling hills and river-shaped gorges of Pennsylvania began to fill the longing in my heart for a northeastern landscape.  My sister warned me that it was raining for most of the day in Connecticut, but in Pennsylvania the sun had a strong hold over the sky.  Near Wilkes-Barre, the first signs of steely gray clouds were evident in the sky.  As the sun set, the light created a massive arching rainbow that was radiant against the dull gray sky.  The highway stretched out in front of me and lead me right toward the base of the rainbow, and I loved feeling like I was driving into those colors.   

The title from this post comes from this song, which came on in the car and cracked me up.  Growing up, we were teased by neighboring towns as being the cow town or the farm town, so "Moo Moo Land" seems fitting!

It feels good to be in one of my homes.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Mon, May 20, 2013: You Are Home

We had a professional development trade day at work today, which is basically a fancy way of saying that I had the day off.  I am planning on heading east soon, so I took advantage of the day and got a bunch of errands done (and also spoiled myself with a manicure and some new shoes...!).

One of my more relaxing errands was a stop at the salon to get my hair trimmed.  When I made the appointment, I was offered a choice between two women, and I arbitrarily chose the woman named Lily.  Maybe I shouldn't say arbitrarily - I just had a feeling she was the one to cut my hair.

As she was snipping away, she ended up standing before me with her left arm in front of me at about eye level.  And guess what was tattooed on the inner part of her upper left arm?  The words, "You Are Home" in beautiful script.

I felt a rush like a kick in my gut as I read those words, then again a second time, so strong that tears pricked at the corners of my eyes.  Here's why:

Recently, I've been wondering if maybe I'm ready to be done with Colorado. (Actually, it seems I wonder that every summer!)  My experiences here have been beautiful and powerful and amazing, but also many times have been extremely difficult and sad.  Ever since I moved here, though, I've had a feeling that I'll meet a guy out here who is right for me, and we'll move back east together.  Notice I said "feeling" and not "thought" - it's just a strong feeling that I have about what may come to pass.

With things being difficult, though, it's often made me question that feeling and wonder what on earth I'm doing out here.  Then I remind myself that maybe it's me who is making things difficult... and then Colorado inevitably hands me another difficult lesson, and I grow exponentially, and then I start to hope again.

A few days ago, I finally threw up my hands and said, "Fine, if you want me to move, I'll go wherever you want.  I just need you to show me where to go ".  I've been moving through the world ever since with my eyes and heart and spirit open, and nothing happened...

Until I saw those words.  "You Are Home".  And it felt right.

So, here I am, in Colorado: my beautiful, heart-kicking, lesson-teaching, right-for-now home, that is shaping me into a person better than anyone I ever thought I could be.

My friend who's been sending me quotes recently reminded me that Socrates said, "I am the wisest man alive, for I know one thing, and that is that I know nothing".  I do not think that I am the wisest anything, but I do recognize how much I still have to learn, while still feeling content with how far I've come.  I'm pleased with myself for having handled everything that Colorado has thrown onto my path, and for coming out of it all on the other side in one piece.  My senses of wonder, and hope, and excitement and, perhaps most importantly, my sense of humor are all still inside of me.  I think that my spirit is more buoyant than I ever suspected!  But there's always more to learn....

As I mentioned earlier, I'm heading back east for a couple of weeks (YAY!), so will have some new adventures to share. :)  I love traveling cross-country, and find that each time I make the journey I return a different person.  Having 2 days in the car to myself with literally nothing to do but sing, watch the world roll by, and process whatever thoughts and feelings and ideas and insights I have is an extremely powerful experience.  I wouldn't trade it for anything and am very much looking forward to my time with myself and the road.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Fri, May 17, 2013: Dreams and Post-Apocalyptic Waffles

These past couple of weeks have been... interesting.

I have been feeling strange these past couple of days.  I'm not sure how to describe it, other than that I feel like I'm glowing.  I feel radiant.  I'm not sure where it's coming from, but I suspect that part of it is confidence, and part of it is due to the sort of emotional housecleaning I have been doing this past week.  It's not even really about this current situation, but things it has brought up from the past: thought patterns and expectations that aren't working for me.  So I notice them, and name them, and release them.  Even the pool seems to have disappeared into the light.  It's been a pretty powerful experience, and the glowing feeling makes me feel like I'm doing something right, and it feels so good.

I am a person of dreams and hopes that just won't seem to be quelled despite whatever life has thrown at me.  My dreams are still right there, perfectly intact: land and trees, living near the water again someday, planting a garden 10 times the size of the one I had when I lived at home, somewhere permanent to set up my telescope, a boat to row each morning, a hearth for feeling warm, the mellow tones of my piano accompanying my voice, sunny days of falling leaves dancing in the wind and the first touches of frost on window panes, a lush flower garden whose only purpose in the world is to be beautiful, a small workshop for making jewelry and stained glass and painting and whatever else catches my fancy, a rainy day every once in a while for curling up in bed with a book with the windows cracked so that delicious rainy earth smell is welcomed in, and adventures, and laughter, and friendship, and family, and love.

These past few years, I haven't often remembered my sleeping dreams, but I do have some vivid images that I remember from mine last night.  I was kissing someone I loved in a movie theater, then driving fast and laughing down some wonderfully deserted road with my hair whipping all around me, then exploring an apocalypse prepper's pantry complete with canned fruits and vegetables (which I want to learn how to do) and a waffle iron (... huh? I do love waffles but that's just silly!), and then I was at archery practice with my new bow (which I want to purchase this summer).  There were people around me, and Kaylee, and while I didn't see their faces or know their names, they were warm friends.

I woke up with a smile on my face this morning, thinking of those fun dreams.  Thanks, my subconscious mind!  I like that you are lining up with my regular mind. :)  Especially on the issue of the importance of post-apocalyptic waffles.  It's about time you got on board with that one.


Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Weds, May 15, 2013: Octopus Prime, Dandelions, and Songs

I have been processing a lot of things lately, both things currently happening and things from the past that have been brought up to the surface.

My cousin recently sent me an email and observed, “Colorado has been hard on you since you moved there, it seems”.  I think she is right in a lot of ways, but I also think the difficulty has helped to shape me into a person that I am pretty proud of!  These have been like the Saturn lessons I referenced in my star post – difficult, but important.

I’m ready for things not to be difficult anymore.  What does that mean?  Is it the nature of Colorado to be tough on me, or is there something in me that needs to bend or become disassembled so that I can fit just right into the energy here?  Is there a place where things will flow easily for me, now that I’ve done the best I can to do the hard work of learning these lessons?  And if so, where is that place, and how do I get myself there?

These are the things weighing on my mind… but I find that I’ve grown tired of my mind.  She talks too much sometimes and I can’t hear what the rest of me is saying.  It’s time for her to take the backseat, in my opinion.

In honor of moving my mind to the backseat, here are some of the awesome things that have happened in the past few days:

- Conversing with kindergarteners about how to pronounce “Optimus Prime”, since they tend to default to calling him “Octopus Prime” or “Optibus Prime”.  This lead to me drawing Optimus Prime on my white board, standing next to an octopus, labeling each one, and talking about what an octopus is.  Also, Bumblebee is apparently “Bumblebean”, for those of you who didn’t know.

- I walked outside for recess and one of my students ran up to me with a handful of sweaty dandelions and said, “Here, these are for you!” and gave me a big hug around my waist.  I put them in a vase and they made me smile for the rest of the day each time I saw their sunny faces.

- Two of my students were imagining a scenario with Legos, and each had their own idea of what should happen.  One student named one of his Lego people “Michael Jackson”.  Michael Jackson helped another Lego person locate her lost “alien outer space dog”, and did this by flying along the ground like Lord Voldemort when he emerges from Professor Quirrel, and sniffing for the dog.  I have not laughed that hard with students for a long time, and had to wipe away tears.  The student looked pleased to have cracked me up!

- A student asked me how old I am, and I responded.  She made the most horrible face, wrinkled her nose, and said, “Eeeeeeeeeeeewww!  I want you to be 28 so you can live longer!”  Isn’t 6 a little young to already want to be young forever?  

- An old friend has been sending me quotes every morning to make me smile, and smile I have.

- Regina Spektor reminding me that people are just people, they shouldn’t make me nervous.

- John Meyer reminding me that the heart of life is good. (Yes, I know he is a mess but he is so good at reflecting our vulnerabilities through music…!)

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Mon, May 13, 2013: Wolf

Sometimes it strikes me to think of my soul as something in nature (as you may have noticed here, here, here, here, and here).  I don't really think much about it when these ideas hit me; I think they come to me unbidden as visions offered by my subconscious mind when there is something I need to understand or pay attention to.  Our subconscious minds are pretty amazing things, and I appreciate the imagery when it appears.

Today my soul is a wolf, howling at the edge of a pine wood, the sound reverberating as it collides with snow-covered trees.  It expands across the prairie, whispers at the toes of the mountains, and washes up into the bellies of the brilliant stars punctuating the black night sky.  The sound runs up spines like a chill, inducing goosebumps as tones of groundedness and connection, longing and hope, richness of experience and the primal self-awareness of life, pierce ear drums.  

The sound is nothing less than the heart-wrenching pain and sheer joy of creation, of change, of growth.  From my toes to my tail to the tips of my ears, my entire being vibrates with the effort of this sound, every atom in my body fully invested and committed to its existence in that moment.  

Today my soul is this.

Sun, May 12, 2013: Great Sand Dunes, Day 2

My peaceful, relaxed, deep sleep was interrupted by a text that left me feeling frustrated and more confused. Despite the rain and the pine needles and all of the contentment that I had felt as I drifted off, I found myself wide awake.  My mind rushed and whirred like the cold air gusting up under my rainfly, and it took me a long time to feel lulled enough to sleep again.

I remained warm and snuggly all night and found that I didn't even need to use my hat or the head cover that's built into my sleeping bag.  It's pretty great to know that I could probably handle below freezing temperatures just fine with the gear I own!

As is typical for me when I go camping (or sleep anywhere new), I woke up several times during the night when I wanted to roll over and found myself with my nose pressed against the wall of my tent, or my body entirely off of my sleeping pads.  It wasn't unpleasant though, and my mind actually managed to release its thoughts and allowed me back to sleep pretty easily each time.

Close to daybreak, I heard an owl flying around the camp, hooting from different tree perches.  Good morning, little owl. :)

I was more than ready to get up once the sun brightened the sky, and felt like an invigorated survivor after braving the cold night alone.  There was a small restaurant attached to the campground, and I stopped for a warm breakfast hoping it would fuel my determination to finally climb up one of these dunes...!
The pool of melted knot in my stomach was there, stronger than yesterday, more threatening despite being embraced the night before.  I think her icy waters traveled through my veins and into my limbs, and my brain, and my heart.  The day was too beautiful to allow her to win, though, so I just existed with her, telling her that I wasn't planning on turning back and she was welcome to come along for the adventure if she wished.

The pool did not protest, so along we went.

Walking onto the dunes feels like entering some bizarre wasteland, or maybe like being on the moon (minus needing a space suit and the changes in gravity and all that jazz).  I set my sights on the highest dune that I could see from the start of the path, and that's where we headed.
Kaylee, the pool of melted knot, and I climbed up... and up... and up... creating our own trail wherever we wished.  My shoes filled with sand and I felt like I took at least half a step backwards for every step forwards, but in time we trekked up the sliding slopes and arrived at our destination.

I was worried at several points that this would be like my experience when I tried to hike Mt. Bierstadt.  I failed to complete that hike because I let my emotions get to me, and that happened more than once while I was on the dunes.  This time, though, I didn't let them get to me.  If I felt like the melted knot pool was racing in my brain, or my heart, or my blood, I just stopped for a bit.  I figured there's no need to plow forward when perhaps the most important moving forward needed to happen inside of me.  I sat many times, and stood and looked around, contemplating and processing and just letting things be as they were.  And when I felt ready, I took another step.
It was a difficult challenge, but not impossible, and eventually we did ascend to the highest point I'd picked out way back near the parking lot.

Success!
There were many taller dunes beyond us, and on another day I think I would have absolutely loved to continue that hike, just to see what I could see.

At that moment, sitting on top of the sand dune, I just felt proud of myself for accomplishing the goal I'd set out to reach.  I reminded myself that I don't have to tackle every sand dune all at once, just because they're there.  Instead, I chose to be happy with the one I did ascend and enjoyed my time looking down into the valley from its peak.

The trip down was SO FUN!  We skated and skied down on our feet, Kaylee doing so much more gracefully than I... but I'm pretty sure we both derived the same amount of enjoyment from it.  There is something delightful about causing mini sand-slides all along those smooth slopes, feeling the pull of the earth tugging us toward her.  We navigated between periods of controlled falling and propelling ourselves along the flatter areas, grinning at each other as we traveled.

There was no room for the pool of melted knot as I slid down the dunes, and I think the butterflies in my stomach cleared her out entirely for a while.  Perhaps she was feeling prissy about having her waters ruffled by the power of their strong wings and retreated until she could neaten herself up again.  In any case, I felt light and free for the first time that morning.

Finding the car again was interesting, but we wandered the right way and rescued him from his perch in the parking lot.  In much more typical fashion, I took the back roads home.  Kaylee slept in the back seat, and I sang to the sky and the sun and the road and the miles and miles of grasses that flew past my windows.  I sang to my friends and myself and even to the pool of melted knot, because I think sometimes the things that need to be tamed are the things that need song the most.

The pool, she was quiet.  And still.  And I wondered if maybe a little bit of her absorbed back into me.  

Monday, May 13, 2013

Sat, May 11, 2013: Great Sand Dunes, Day 1

The knot in my stomach melted into a pool of sadness days ago, and has been resting inert in my core ever since.  I can't force it away, or drown it, or pretend that it's not there, so I've been doing my best to reinforce all of the good feelings around it instead.  Perhaps if the other parts of me feel strong and resilient, the pool won't feel so bad.

This weekend, I wanted to do my best to occupy myself so that I wouldn't dwell on the issue.  I decided to head down for a camping trip at the Great Sand Dunes National Park.  I have visited the dunes twice before, but never successfully climbed them.  Perhaps finally accomplishing that would spark some of those good feelings.

In atypical fashion, I headed down I-25 and made a beeline directly for the dunes (after attending a school event earlier that day).  Yes, you read that correctly.  No back roads, no scenic route.  I think I really just wanted to get as much distance between myself and the city as I could, and quickly.  Kaylee was, of course, with me.  As we headed through Pueblo, the earth made me smile as she unfolded her green leaves all around us.  The trees were actually green, and it was gorgeous!

The Spanish Peaks from Route 160:   
The mountains down in this area of Colorado are so dramatic.  They rise sharply up out of the San Luis Valley floor with no apology or compromise, their shoulders steep and uninviting.
There were spots of rain all over the valley, and it was comforting to watch the weather approach and pass as we rolled through the high desert.  The clouds and the mountains and the vastness of the valley floor all worked together to make me feel tiny.
One of the fun things about spotty weather days is the way that the light plays with the clouds and the earth.  As we drove up to the sand dunes, most of the land was in shadow with the exception of the sand itself.
We checked in to the campground and I set up the tent.  It was supposed to be cold that night, somewhere around freezing, so I brought both of my sleeping pads, my warmest pjs, and a hat.  I was nervous about sleeping comfortably with the temperature dropping so low, but also figured perhaps it was a good challenge of independence to see if I could do it successfully.

Once camp was set up, there was nothing more to do than grab a bite to eat and enjoy the sunset.

The earth was golden and luminous, bright and rich and warm.  It warmed my heart.  It may have even warmed the pool a little.
I hoped that I would be able to see the pink and orange and yellow light spilling across the sand and the snow of the tall mountain peaks, washing over the clouds, warming the earth in mellow tones.  It didn't play out as I hoped as there were too many clouds to the west, and most of the sunset light was blocked.

It was fine by me, though, as it was beautiful just the way it was.



I could see the underbellies of the clouds that stretched between the sun and the dunes glowing with brilliant oranges and pinks, and I knew that they must be an amazing sight if viewed from the other side.  As it was, I felt satisfied just to have witnessed that gorgeous golden glowing prairie.
Every year since I moved to Colorado, I seem to buy a new piece of camping gear with my tax return.  This year, my purchase was an inflatable sleeping pad.  I haven't really purchased anything to this point that wasn't practical for backpacking, but I figured it would be nice for car camping and cold weather camping.  The air mat, plus my usual closed cell foam sleeping pad, plus my cozy down sleeping bag, plus my warm pjs... it felt heavenly, actually, to sink into bed that evening.  It felt warm out still, and the slow melting sunset helped me to feel calm and peaceful for the first time in days.  I actually felt almost tired, which seemed like a novel luxury.

The rich smells of campfires permeated the air and soothed me by way of my sense of smell.  And then came the best part: rain.  The rain that the clouds had been threatening all day finally arrived, and swept like a curtain over the little woods into which I was tucked.  Thunder shook the plains and rolled against the mountains, who simply leaned into it a bit, stationary.  The scent of wet pine needles joined the smell of wood smoke in my nose.

I loved the fully immersive sensory aspect of the evening.  I had eaten a warm, tasty meal earlier that night, which was unexpected and welcome.  My eyes, though blinded by darkness in the tent, had reveled in the beauty of the golden plains at sunset.  My ears were soothed by the rhythmic chatter of the rain pelting on my roof.  My nose was lost in delight over smelling campfire and pine needles and rain.  My skin felt warm and comfortable, snuggled up and warm in soft pjs, the night air pleasantly cooling my face.

I was peaceful and tired in that moment, and almost felt a little triumphant.  The problem with having a pool in one's stomach is that it goes dormant for a time, sometimes, then washes up like a wave as a reminder that it's still there.  The pool was there, and I could feel it sitting, and waiting... but the day had filled me with so much beauty and relief and perspective that I still managed to feel full inside, and warm.

Recently, I attended a workshop and we ended up talking about going through difficult experiences.  I shared that one thing I am learning to do is surrender to them, as there is so much that we can't control about our lives.  One of the people running the workshop said that she feels that the next step above and beyond surrendering to them is embracing them.

This is a new concept to me, but it clicked.  So, that night, I wrapped my arms around my belly to hug that little pool, and I held her tight.  From my peaceful soul, soothed by golden sunset grass and the sounds of rain and the smells of fire and pine needles, from my well-fed body warmed by my cozy surroundings, I did my best to send love and understanding to that little pool, that she might someday merge back into my body and help me to move forward.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Fri, May 10, 2013: Hello, Small Me!

I'm not sure if this post is born out of a desire to recenter, missing my family, or both.  I posted these pictures years ago on Facebook to share with family and friends (but mostly as tools for reminiscing with my sister!), and feel like I want to replicate pieces of it here.

Do you ever wish that you could meet yourself as a child and have a conversation with yourself?  I would love the opportunity to talk to my child self, that little uninhibited creature of passion and courage, of ego and emotions, of sensitivity and spontaneity  wrapped up in a porcelain doll shell.  

But woe unto any adult who took that porcelain shell at face value!

En garde!  
I find it kind of awesome that two of my favorite hobbies, writing and photography, were important to me even as a child.

So was being playful...
... and pretending that I was innocent.
*mesmerizes adults by batting long lashes framing gray blue eyes*

It's funny that I don't have any pictures of me on the piano.  Playing the piano was so personal to me, even when I was little.  Creating music is a manifestation of a piece of one's soul, I think, and it often bothered me that others were privy to that deep manifestation of me.  If my mother ever tried to photograph me playing, I probably would have had a major cow.

I loved my bike, though this one was no vampire.
And I loved our big backyard, and soft blades of grass between my toes, and playing beneath the trees, and in the corn field, and wandering to the stream when I thought nobody would notice I was gone.

The trailer rides were, of course, epic.
As were my insect catching skills.  I always loved beautiful things.
(Don't tell small me that the wing scales are coming off on her fingers or she would be sad!)

I was always so elegant.  Table manners were probably one of my strongest positive traits as a child.
I'm not sure if I'm demonstrating my intelligence or curiosity in this photo, but I definitely had plenty of both!
But best of all, I think, was the quick, easy smile that showed off my weird funny cheek dimple.
Sometimes I feel like I miss my child self, or wish that I could revert back to ways that I was as a child.  I think this feeling comes from thinking that these traits have somehow become lost or buried inside of me.

It's kind of awesome to see that they're all still right here. :)

Fri, May 10, 2013: A Melty Puddle

It turns out that the knot in my stomach was an accurate instrument for reading the situation, somehow knowing that things had changed despite the fact that nothing seemingly had.  The person I was spending time with called things off, unexpectedly and confusingly.

A couple of days ago, I was sharing some things that happened during this year with a co-worker with whom I have worked for the past 4 years.  When we were done talking, she scooped me up in a big hug and said, "I love you" and patted my back.  She said, "I do love you, you know that, right?"  I was afraid to talk because I thought I might cry, so I just hugged her back and hoped she knew what that meant.

My heart just turned into a melty puddle of feeling so loved, in that small moment.  And though the moment was small, it was overwhelming, because it's been so very long since someone hugged me and cared enough to say they love me.  My family loves me, but they are far away and unfortunately we don't have Stretch Armstrong genes. My friends love me, but we don't usually get that emotional with one another.

So, I melted into that moment, and just let it glow.

I have felt so homesick lately, for my family and for tall leafy deciduous trees, and for lakes and rivers and the ocean.  I miss the old factory towns and colonial cities of the east coast.  And I even miss when my hair is curly.  It rained here the other day and my hair instantly curled up into soft waves, and it made me so happy to look in the mirror and see that wavy brown frame around my face.  I don't look at all cool, or slick, or fancy or fashionable with curly hair, but I still think it's beautiful.  Beautiful like a sleepy waking up face, or laugh lines... natural, I guess.

I talked to my sister the other day on the way home from Jackson Lake State Park about her experiences when she and her husband first started dating.  I think their story is so cute. :)  She worked delivering mail in an insurance company where he worked as an underwriter.  He scoped her out, they chatted a bunch, and he progressed to asking her out.  She said when they dated, they were exclusive with each other from the beginning because they were so interested in getting to know each other.

That's what worked for them, and I like to imagine having that reciprocal attraction with someone someday.



Weds, May 8, 2013: Jackson Lake State Park

The knot... it was still there.  So I distracted myself with a rare after work road trip up to Jackson Lake State Park near Fort Morgan.  

The prairie around the lake was actually surprisingly hilly, and reminded me slightly of the prairie outside of Manhattan, Kansas (though the hills here were much smaller).  
 There was a flock of pelicans swimming in another small lake, which also surprised me!  I had no idea that they came through Colorado.
 I think my favorite part of this mini-getaway, though, was this sight:
Golden hay rolls and infinite prairie telephone poles, with purple flowers dotting the rich spring green grass.  None of it made the knot go away, but it did give me a little peace of mind which is all I could ask for.