Thursday, May 31, 2007


I'm taking a bit of a break from blogdom. I'm rethinking my penchant for public navel gazing. I will revert to private journaling for much of my comings and goings. I'm also considering starting a whole new blog with a more focused direction than the senseless rambling I tend to engage in here. I'm sure I'll continue to add the occassional posting here on mind muffins from time to time. But for now I'd rather spend my disposable time in the garden rather than in front of a computer.

Or curled up with a good book.

Or cuddling with my man.

Or playing dominoes with my pals.

Or taking long walks.

Or ANYTHING else, really.

I'm just done, for now.

I've stepped away before. I always seem to come back, eventually, in one form or another.
Till then...many blessings to all my blogger pals.


Thursday, May 24, 2007


We're off to Utah to visit family for the next several day. I'm not terribly excited about the 15 hour car drive each way. But I am looking forward to getting out of Dodge, and seeing some kin that matter to me.

I used to DREAD trips to my husband's hometown. We did not go often during the first 15 yrs or so of our marriage since we lived in the Midwest back then. But after moving to the west we started making the trek to Utah once or twice a year. Some of those trips were excruciating. Nearly every one had me in tears at some point. But those days are long gone.

As I look back at why it was so uncomfortable for me in years past, and why it is not now, I am amazed by how subtle shifts of perception can make a world of difference.

When I was younger, I wanted so very much to be accepted and approved of by my husband's family. But that felt impossible. I do not quilt. I do not bake bread. I do not ride horses. And except on a few, rare occasion, I do not vote Republican. There seemed to be nothing about me that they would ever value or appreciate. Hungry for their esteem I would try my best to "fit in", but would inevitably stumble. All too often there would be hurt feelings over some remark that make it woefully obvious I would never be the kind of woman, wife, or mother, that fit the cookie cutter mold that tiny Mormon town deemed suitable. Everyone was nice enough toward me. But in far too many cases, I felt tolerated and humored rather than fully welcomed and embraced. I suspect much of that was more in my own head than theirs, but it was how I experienced those visits all the same.

What a difference a few years make.

I still do not quilt or ride horses or bake break. If anything my political views are now MORE different than theirs and my life experiences have taken me far afield from the things that are a part of life in Millard County, Utah. But the differences no longer chafe.

As I've grown up and grown older I've eased into a stronger confidence in my own values and strengths. As I became more comfortable in my own skin, it mattered less whether they liked me or not. Once I let go of hungering so much for their approval, I quit being so over-sensitive over any indication they might not. Now when I go to Utah I no longer try to be anything different from who I am. These days I feel no need to defend or justify my own life choices. I merely go and do the best I can to be open to the experience. Letting go of the old dance of striving to fit in has been incredibly liberating.

In-law relationships are interesting... I love my man. They love my man. He loves all of us. But that does not mean we are going to automatically be comfortable with one another. I've learned over the years to respect and truly appreciate this clan of folks who helped mold my beloved into the kind of guy he is. Some of them I genuinely enjoy being around. Others I am more guarded with. But overall, I honestly can look forward to these visits now.

In many ways I will always be an outsider when we go back there. I remain utterly oblivious to the social nuances in more ways than I can count. Sometimes going to that place brings with it a cultural shift that feels almost like the times I've spent in other countries. But like those times when I've traveled to Fiji, Costa Rica or Egypt, I now have learned to savor the differences and appreciate my time there. So I am excited we get to go and expect we'll have a wonderful time.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Making Peace

I just found this excerpt from On Reason and Passion in The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran:

"Your soul is often times a battlefield, upon which your reason and your judgment wage war against your passion and your appetite. Would that I could be the peacemaker in your soul, that I might turn the discord and the rivalry of your elements into oneness and melody. But how shall I, unless you yourself be also the peacemakers, nay, the lovers of all your elements?"

(as quoted in A Guide to Getting It: Purpose & Passion edited by Marilyn Schwader.)

I've spent many hours giving thought to the discord between mind and emotion, between internal reality and external roles, between authentic self and self shrouded in layers of defense mechanisms....

Through my friendship with those in the Orthodox community I've learned a thing or two about doing battle with one's passions.

Through my Spectrum training I've learned about lowering the waterline, being more authentic, and true to my heart rather than forever trapped in social conditioning and external expectations.

Still - no matter how much I learn or study or ponder, the rift remains between what I know and what I feel, what I believe and what I hope for or desire. Which part should I give the greatest legitimacy?

In my last post I addressed the issue of whether or not any of us can know someone else or fully be known by another. Torchwolf took it a step further by suggesting that we can't even know ourselves 100%, and that all knowing is some form of construction.

What does it mean to "know one's self"?
At what point in introspection a healthy thing and when does it become excessive self absorption?

Just some thoughts I've been toying with of late.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Who Gets You?

I've been reading some stuff by lifecoach Laura Young. One of her pieces that has caused me some serious pondering is her article "Does Anyone Really Understand You?"

I've just wrapped up the unit on gender in my online sociology class. During the 6th week of the course we get thick and heavy into the discussion of whether or not men can ever truly understand women and visa versa.

But as we move into the seventh week, I bring up the question whether or not ANY human being can fully understand another. I don't doubt we can build deep, rich, authentic connections. I have experienced true empathy from both sides of the fence. Still, something deep within me resonates when I read Young's words:

"The truth is, no one else will ever truly know what it is like to be in your shoes. No matter how much they love you. No matter how much you try to explain or get people to see. There is an internal alchemy that happens within each of us that takes all of our experiences, thoughts, feelings, events and life circumstances and cooks them down into our own unique paths and our own philosophies of life. Belief in a Higher Power aside, where humans are concerned, you are the only one on your path. You are the only one who can go where you are going, ultimately."

Early on in this blog, in a post I called "icebergs and intimacy" I wrote about the challenge of navigating the balance between boundaries of privacy and self disclosure.

I think we all hunger to be known.

In the scriptures it says "it is not good that man should be alone..." (Gen 2:18) I believe that is true. We are hard wired from the moment of creation to be social critters, people who make connections with others. Sometimes those connections lift us to wonder and awe. Sometimes they dash our hearts to bits. Still, for most of us, with all their complications and craziness, relationships with people we love are the most significant parts of our lives.

All that being said.... does anyone REALLY know anyone else?

I don't know the answer to that. But this is what I do know for sure: as much as I want people I care about to understand me deeply and to love me back, what feeds my soul the most is my allowing myself to love them. It's not a tit for tat game where I give only so long as the accounts are kept even. There are people in my life I love with wild abandon. Some of those people love me back and connect with me in meaingful ways. Some are clueless about how deeply I care about them. That's ok. I'm going to go right on loving them anyway - even when they are difficult or oblivious or well intentioned yet missing the mark. I don't love them because I'm some great human being. I don't love them because the "deserve" it. (Do any of us?) I love them because it feeds me to love. When I am in a state of genuinely reaching out my heart to others I find more peace than when I am focused on filling up my own cup.

So I will try to understand my husband/neighbor/co-worker as much as I can.

I will take a few more risk with revealing my true heart with some of my friends.

And then I'll give 'em all some grace if they don't REALLY "get" me. We all are just doing the best we can.

You Grow Girl!

My beloved and I have been so immersed in our major landscaping project that we have yet to plant our vegetable garden. It's hard to get excited about tomatoes and beans when I have been focusing on planting the following:

snapdragons, pansies, roses, salvia, petunias, zinnias, gerber daisies, geraniums, marigolds, lillies, pinks, hostas, burning bush, vinca, verbena, foxglove, allysum, clematis and several other things whose names I just don't remember right now.

Every morning before I head out to work I walk around the yard and soak in the beauty of the flowers. It truly restores my soul.

Of course, there's WORK to this project too. We've shoveled 18 cubic yards of bark, moved LOTS of rocks around, and put decorative cement border bricks all along the edging of most the flowerbeds. I have blisters on my calluses and my back hurts.

But it has been great. Finches are coming to my bird feeder and the waterfall/pond is up and running again after a major overhaul.

Yeah, I'll get tomatoes and squash and all that stuff I usually grow going one of these days.

But for now, I'm feeding my spirit instead of my salad bowl.

And now some links just so I'll know where to find them when I need them again!

Where to buy stuff
Handy Garden Tips
Gardening Made Easy
Square Foot Gardening
Upsidedown Tomatoes
Selecting Flowering Trees

Blue Creek Landscape - Ellensburg
Goller Grade & Gravel - Poulsbo
The Pond Store - Sumner
Plous Pack Water Gardens - Washougal
Willamette Waterscapes - Salem
Artscapes by Shawn - Sandy
The Pond Outlet - Los Angeles
Pond Solutions
Pond Maintenance

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Sissy Camping

My beloved and I just returned from an excellent weekend at Eagle Cap Chalet. When I went up there recently for work I knew I'd want to return when I had time to play and company to play with. So we loaded up the boat on Friday and off we went. We found 7 geocache in the area, one of which near Marr Pond outside of Enterprise. Larry caught 10 trout in about 45 minutes. (caught all of 'em on a black rooster tail spinner that we had taken from one of the earlier cache finds). That was fun. We grilled steaks, enjoyed some hikes and had a lovely time out on Wallawa Lake. No fish biting in the big lake, but our time at Marr Pond more than made up for that.

All our earlier trips up that way have been spent in a tent at the nearby state park. I like camping, but I must admit I thoroughly enjoyed the charming little cabin we rented at Eagle Cap. There is something about having a fireplace that lights with the push of a button, a comfortable bed, a bathroom and kitchen to make things cozy. Also we both enjoyed the swimming pool / jacuzzi to relax in at the end of the day. I fear our trusty tent may not get much use in future. I could really get used to "sissy camping".

On the way home we stopped in Enterprise to attend church. VERY friendly ward that made us feel most welcome. Although we were complete strangers we never felt that - rather, we were truly included as brother & sister in Christ as we worshipped together. It was a good meeting.

Now we are home, just kicking back, drinking some sparkling cider toasting each other. I have the day off tomorrow too which I'm looking forward to. Life has been way hectic the last couple months. This bit of down time is a much welcome break from the frenzy.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Projects for Peace

Many kudos to students at nearby Whitman College for winning support for their peace proposals from the Kathryn Wasserman Davis 100 Projects for Peace initiative.

Beyond that, hats off to Mrs. Davis herself for choosing this fantastic way of celebrating her 100th birthday. Not everyone has that kind of financial resource to support peace on this grand of a scale.... but I am very impressed by the basic idea behind it. I very much enjoyed the video clips of her talking about her life and how she came to the decision to create this venture.

She didn't start painting until her late 90's. Wow. Go figure. Maybe there's hope for me yet.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Things to do before I die....

Ever since reading Mimi's post I've been mulling over in my mind what my own list of "things to do before I die" might look like.

If you had asked me in my 30's or early 40's I would have had quite a lengthy list. It used to be terribly important to me that I accomplish certain milestones.

But as I approach my half century mark, I find I'm less concerned these days with acquiring or accomplishing or any of that old stuff.

I've written in earlier posts about Stephen Shapiro's work on Goal Free Living. When I first started reading his work I was outraged - it sounded like utter blasphemy to me to give away all my carefully crafted goals. I thought that without goals I'd be reduced to a slug, never accomplishing anything. His views seemed like an utter cop out.

But now that I've read more and thought more, I think I am starting to get it.

It is helpful for me to have a general direction to move in, and to clarify what my values are. But when I lock myself into trying to accomplish very particular goals, then I close myself off from being able to recognize blessings and successes that come in other forms.

So instead of saying I will lose 20 lbs by the end of the year, (who are we kidding, anyway) I now say "I will strive to be more healthy". If I want to lose 20 lbs (without a major amputation) but for one reason or another (such as doughnuts, fried foods or general sloth) I only lose 15 lbs, then I've "Failed" the specific goal. But if what I really want is to be more healthy - every step closer I get becomes a success.

If I say "I want to go to Italy for my 50th birthday" and then at the last minute I chose to go to India or Nepal instead, I would have forfeited my original dream. However, if I say "I want to experience adventures and explore the world" no matter WHERE I go - (well, maybe not Gila Bend) I am in line with my values and appreciating the opportunity.

So this takes me back to my personal mission statment I crafted earlier:

I live with passion, faith and integrity.
I contribute to my family, community and the world.
I honor my own physical, mental, emotional and spiritual needs.
I continually strive for life long learning and personal growth.

As I let go of particular MUST DO lists, I feel lighter, more content. I remain open to all manner of great experiences and opportunities. But I won't be checking any of them off any predetermined list. I'll just wait and let the world surprise me. Is that a cop out? Maybe. But for now, it seems to fit.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Strange World

As I've been looking for information on Italy, planning out what things I would like to see I was getting all dreamy about visiting the Colosseum, seeing the Sistine chapel, and the Vatican museum. It never occured to me I might encounter a GIANT PINK BUNNY. I'm all for unique artistic expression and all that, but this is just plain weird.

And the Winner Is....

For the past few months I've been vacillating between various destinations for a trip to take this October in honor of my 50th birthday. We've considered all sorts of places. We ALMOST booked several different trips (Mexico, Hawaii, New Zealand to name just a few). But for one reason or another, I kept hesitating and changing my mind.
Well, FINALLY, we've narrowed it down. We are going to Italy. (Check hotlink for potential itinerary). Or look HERE for very cool pictures.

Any of you guys ever been there? I'm wide open for suggestions of what to see or do or while we are there.

I'm very much looking forward to planning this trip as I usually do lots of reading and research ahead of time before we go anyplace. Should be fun.

Kelly, you can count on some pie pictures from Rome, ok?

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