Lourdes Mint's Mid-Life Miracle

Real-time memoir of the coming year (5/20/14 – 15) and the achievement of a life-long dream

Archive for the tag “balance”

Here’s to doing something tiny, today!

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/tiny/

“One could almost believe that one day is just like another. But some have something a little more. Nothing much. Just a small thing. Tiny.” ~from Little Bird, by Germano Zullo

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A close friend of mine gave me this book when our first potential adoption fell through. On the day the baby was born, we were on our way to the hospital when the social worker called to tell us the parents had changed their minds. We went home and decided we would not renew our home study again. We had renewed twice already and suffered through several disappointments, this last one the worst, and we were done. We had a beautiful family already and weren’t getting any younger, we told the adoption agency. I hit the “reset” button in my life, began this blog (among other things), and rededicated myself to making writing a priority. A little over two months later, and just a few months before our home study expired, Mariel was born and everything changed.

She was so tiny, but we could already see in her, the strong and beautiful little girl she has become. Maybe it doesn’t need to be said, but these last couple of years have not been big writing years for me. We have been very busy here, busy with family and with moving house and all that comes with those things. And I feel like I am only now beginning to dig my way out.

Compared to what I have to do, ALL THESE THINGS I feel I have to do, all I can do today is something tiny. And I’m doing it. It may not be much, but it’s a start … or mainly, rather, a continuation of things started long ago. I think there’s an important difference there.

Continuing is not as fun and fresh and punchy as having A BRAND NEW START because, for one thing, it’s more complicated. I cannot, at almost 50 years old, simply write off all of those things I’ve wanted and pursued over the years. I know a few at least are genuine reflections of my most authentic self, not just my younger or less-experienced self. Continuing now, picking up where I left off, validates my past efforts even if they didn’t lead to tangible achievements. It is messy and murky work, and every little thing I do, even this post, feels tiny compared to where I want to be in relation to my hopes and dreams. But I have to proceed as though I believe, with all my heart, that the tiny things will add up. So here’s to doing something tiny, today!

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There is always “burn” here now.

Pretty+Flames+2-7-2007+3-36-23+PM+2816x2112There is always “burn” here now.

Door knobs burn in my hand as I turn them, so I leave the inside ones open. Even the floor burns the bottoms of my feet, so: shoes, but they burn also. These words too, all words, whether I think or say or read them, they all burn now. Sometimes./

To hear them, these ones here, spoken aloud in this room today — w/ no one aside from me listening, no music playing, nothing baking — to hear them without burning, what I would give for that! To be back there, here but back then, in my dream of life again, where it was plenty warm enough, what I would give./

There were times I’d think I must have come from there to here through someplace really cold. I’d think, could I have died that day? That day I “wakened” to the smell of all my pies burning and you knocking as loud as you could on the door. “What’s burning? Are you okay? What’s going on with your hair?”/

We threw the pies into the garden, laughing. You cut my hair in the kitchen to help fix me back up as we aired the place out. “What happened, though? Did you fall asleep? Since when do you bake pies and for what?” I opened you some wine and we spent the rest of the day together./

But I watched the pies slowly disappear alone. It took weeks and then one downpour finally carried the rest away./

Today, I know I came through someplace really cold to get here. Why else, how else, could touching these now — these plastic keys — burn me so? So that the plainest words/thoughts, uttered as plainly as I can manage, are birds barely escaping a flame and then at the very last second returning or just stopping, letting it happen, letting it wrap them and hold them in its hot hands until they turn to ash?/

There is always “burn” here, but I’ve begun to wonder if it might be okay for a time./

After all, crying now is like climbing a tree—but on another planet. Crying: Why? How? It doesn’t happen here, I don’t think, but I’m not completely sure (having learned about evaporation so long ago). I do know it’s not okay not to cry ever./

I know too that today nothing is baking, no music is playing, and no one knocks or doesn’t knock at the door. And I know I didn’t die that day. I am being still and quiet, no more words aloud for now, dreaming of when I was “just warm enough” and wishing I could cry, here or on some other planet, any planet (except Mercury, Venus)./

And yet. Even though these words, my memories, the door, the floor, the bottoms of me feet — ALL of it burns, all of it is burning me — I begin to think it could all turn out all right, that one day I will be just warm enough again.

***

THIS is a repost, thanks. I’ve been gone from here for SIX long months. I consider it a bit of providence that I log back in tonight, after several days (weeks? months?) of thinking about this blog AND THIS POEM especially, and find that BURN is the one-word daily prompt. Today. When I log back in … But so, I have nothing new here now, I don’t think, am exhausted, but I jump back in to this — everything — holding the hand of my 47-year-old self from two years ago. I trust no one more.

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/burn/

https://wordpress.com/post/lourdesmint.wordpress.com/678

 

 

These Things Happened in the Past

PASTLourdes_v1: “These things happened in the ‘past,’ the past. Now you try: These things happened in the past.”

Lourdes_v2: “‘These things … are happening now, in the present, at this very moment! They will always be happening, in fact, forever and ever and ever, until the end of the world. And even after that, they’ll happen still, again and again. More things on top of these things will happen, actually, and with more frequency, until finally it will just be one long, continuous thing happening, happening, happening!!!’ Was that okay? Close enough, I mean?”

Lv1: “[Heh, heh.] A joker, I see. Try again. Past. These things happened in the past.”

Lv2: “Pissed. These things pissed me off — not because they were all bad. Some were. But some were great, are great! It’s just: there were too many things, too close together, so ‘pissed’ is what I’m coming up with. Sorry. I am trying. I’m big on trying. Try, try, try. I’m tired. Try-erd! I’m exhausted. Pissed.”

Lv1: “Understood, understood. But this is an important exercise — for you and for your loved ones. Time to say “Good-Bye to All That,” right? Let’s turn the page already. So please, please, please: just try one more time. Past. These things happened in the past.”

Lv2: “[Silence.]”

Lv1: “You know what?”

Lv2: “What?”

Lv1: “How about just starting with the one word: past. That’s [ae] as in  apple, of course. Past.”

Lv2: “Pest.”

Lv1: “[Pffft.] Well, fine. I can see why you might feel like going there. But really we’re doing this for you, remember. So, just to get back on track, the problem with pest here (one anyway) is that it’s got the ‘eh’ sound as in ‘you can do better’ and “things now will get better if we sort them out from things that happened in the past. See? So: pissed, pest, past. Do you hear the difference?”

Lv2: “I do.”

Lv1: “Of course you do, so, please. Try again. Say it. Past. These things happened in the past, the past, the PAST! Past.”

Lv2: “Post.”

Lv1: “Perfect. Why don’t you? I really think you should do just that. Post.”

Lv2: “I will.”

Lv1: “Good. Great. I look forward to it.”

Lv2: “Me too.”

[I will add a link to my post HERE as soon as I’m done.]

 

 

Daily prompt response: Problems with Styrofoam and Another Advice Column Reject

instock-069Peanuts

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Connect the Dots.” Scour the news for an entirely uninteresting story [or make one up?]. Consider how it connects to your life. Write about that.

Dear Abby,

I know this is probably not a huge deal, but on the off chance that someone else has the same problem and suffers mainly because it can be so inexplicably distressing, I figured I’d write. You know how those Styrofoam peanuts can’t be recycled so you have to get them out of the box your extra fragile purchase was packed in, bag them, and throw them away separately — with the rest of the garbage? Well, every single time I do this, and I do mean EVERY SINGLE TIME, I’m extra careful to pull the bag into which I’m emptying the peanuts all the way around the box, all four corners, before I even attempt the transfer because I always seem to end up making a mess. But still, no matter how careful I am, an estimated 40 to 60% of the peanuts end up outside of the bag and I have to round them up by hand (“like herding cats” because of the static electricity) and bag them by the handful. Do you know how long that takes?

So I just want to know WHY? Is that too much to ask?

I don’t know whether it’s just the static electricity or there’s some other scientific explanation for why this CANNOT work as it seems it should, but I’m way beyond annoyed now and actually starting to get concerned. Thinking about it now, I guess the real basis of my concern is whether it’s normal to have so much trouble with Styrofoam or whether something else could be going on? I mean, do you think there’s some underlying issue I’m not addressing here? Or maybe even larger forces at work, whose presence and significance I’m missing?

Up to my neck in peanuts, LM

 

Dear Abby,

I’m supposed to be working on my novel now …I have so precious little time and I’ve entered into a contest or rather a challenge to help keep me going: NaNoWriMo. You may have heard of it? Anyway instead or working on my novel, I’ve been unpacking valuables (I use that term very loosely) that we have no place for yet (we moved recently and not all of our furniture is here …). Although I’m having a bit of trouble with the Styrofoam peanuts, as I wrote you about separately, I am not having trouble with writer’s block. In fact, really I’m having almost the opposite problem. I start working on my novel and the next thing I know, hours have disappeared and I have no idea what, where, who, etc. But see I can’t have disappearing hours, no idea, no — I have children, a family. But here I am with a discrete, necessarily limited, beautiful little chunk of time set aside just for the novel and instead I write you … and only “for pretend,” no less, in a blog amid a sea of blogs that connects to an ocean of blogs that connects to a bunch of other seas and oceans of blogs.

So I just want to know WHY? Is that too much to ask?

I don’t know whether it’s just the static electricity (for lack of a better word [FLBW])  or there’s some other scientific explanation for why this CANNOT work as it seems it should, but I’m way beyond annoyed now and actually starting to get concerned. Thinking about it now, I guess the real basis of my concern is whether it’s normal to have so much trouble with Styrofoam (FLBW) or whether something else could be going on? I mean, do you think there’s some underlying issue I’m not addressing here? Or maybe even larger forces at work, whose presence and significance I’m missing?

Up to my neck in peanuts (FLBW), LM

p.s. For our listening enjoyment: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EI7OUQbE65g

“go alone — crawl, stumble, stagger — but go alone”

“You must be Independent, Independent, Independent –jm105-256— don’t talk so much but do more — go your own way and let your neighbour go his… Shake off all the props — the props tradition and authority give you and go alone — crawl, stumble, stagger — but go alone.”

~ Charles Rennie Mackintosh

Independent, YES, for sure! (Original would be nice too, but is not necessary. I mention it because I think people often confuse independence with originality, which can be a real problem for their creativity and productivity, but maybe that’s a post for another day.) Neighbors — oh, there are many I’d gladly follow home. Don’t think I have too many props to shake off, but am willing to crawl, etc., if needed. BUT I love this guy’s designs (behold one iteration of his famous rose) … just not 100% sure about his ideas.

More to the point of this post: writing can be lonely, not for the bloggiest of bloggers maybe, but for lots of the rest of us. So, just so I can connect (or in hopes of connecting … even if I don’t know it’s happened), I am giving myself permission to quote other people liberally here in my blog or provide links to whatever, anything I feel like doing this month (so pretty much like every other month!), as I work to put out 1700+ words per day for NaNoWriMo.

It’s Day 2 and I’ve done 2,345 words (not bad, the quantity I mean), but my narrative point of view is shifting all over the place and not in a clever way. Plus my tenses are sliding, willy nilly, forward and backward and off to the side (though that’s typical for me because sometimes I do feel like past, present, future, etc., are all here in the same place at the same time). Also, even though every 50 words or so come easy, these are followed by hundreds that feel like I am punching myself in the face or, no: trying to put on clothes that are a few sizes too small … and wet and itchy too. I’m haunted about how little I feel I know about the world, how my seven-year-old referred to me as “odd” today, how my main character is male again (and apparently has two interchangeable names). I’m also bothered that I can’t picture him clearly yet, but I can see what he sees, feel what he feels, etc.

I’m thinking, he could look like this:

Brosseau-Tom1868-2_cr-CareyBraswell[1](This is a young[er] Tom Brosseau and here’s a song of his: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5vcWe–L7AM)

OR he might look like this:th98WXLH1R

(The is the young, late Vic Chesnutt and one of his tunes: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f2KyL1MlqW0)

No surprise that I’m conjuring the images of song writers I greatly admire to help embody my protagonist. No surprise, but no explanation (now) either. In the end, it doesn’t really matter who I’m picturing anyway, I just need to see his face. And I can’t yet.

On the bright side, whatever he turns out looking like, I like him a lot so far and that’s helpful because I will be meeting with Nohl/Ben every day (or as often as I can) until we get his story done.

 

Today I begin “I Brought You Back”

What would you do if you had a gift or ability that you weren’t entirely comfortable with? (What DO you do?) And what if this ability might be considered inhuman, impossible … supernatural, even? And you used your “gift” sometimes but not others, for reasons you couldn’t always understand or explain, and the consequences of your actions were more often than not completely different from what you expected: sometimes just so clearly WRONG; other ti450px-william_blake_-_christ_in_the_sepulchre_guarded_by_angelsmes, though, wondrous, unambiguously RIGHT — restoring necessary joy and goodness to the people you love, the world, all and everything? (But sometimes, don’t forget, sometimes: wrong, wrong, wrong … ?) What would you do?

“Quit doing it and let time pass, let all kinds of time pass.” This is my main character Nohl’s solution as the story/novel starts — that and to get as far away as possible from the mess he feels he’s created, cut his few ties with the past, etc., but NOT before telling EVERYTHING to someone he can barely call “friend” nor before doing his thing one last time.

The novel will follow one person’s complicated, lonesome relationship with his gift, each time he’s used it and how it “worked out,” ending with his decision about how to move forward … and an opportunity, with someone he now considers a true friend, to put that decision to the test.

This is the spark for the novel I’ll be working on this month (through NaNoWriMo). I’m being perhaps irritatingly mysterious/vague re: the gift because I don’t think it’s really what the story’s about, but I’m also afraid that mere mention of the word that best describes the gift would put an END to some things that I need, now. (More vagaries, sorry…)  Really, the gift could be any ability or talent that a person might have and feel ambivalent about and unclear on how, whether, why to develop it — unsure about whether it’s a good or bad thing. My writing this novel represents my decision to embrace a gift I’m not sure how I feel about … and not even sure I have. And I’m going to draw some pictures (or create some kind of visuals) to go with it, I think — also maybe a recording. Here goes!

 

I did my thing (Part 2)

There’s no “I did my thing (Part 1)” so this may be cheating (but there is this: https://lourdesmint.wordpress.com/wp-admin/post.php?post=1214).

Anyway my thing was such a small thing: mailing a check — which is not to say that money is no object for us or the person we owed it to, because that’s definitely not the case. But in the grand scheme of getting our monster of a house ready for sale, this was one of the smaller costs … and we were then VERY close to putting it on the market. So mailing that check that day, with my old friend Rochelle’s words of wisdom in mind, I had to ask myself: exactly why had I procrastinated with this particular check, along with several other final DETAILS really, when working on the house/the move has been such a time-hog and soul-sucker for more than a year now?

The answer may be obvious. I have no idea. It’s going to take a while for me to dig myself out of the hole I fell into and regain perspective … or perhaps discover an entirely new one. But I think the biggest challenge will be in not looking for another albatross to hang around my neck once this one falls away. IMG_3520

People can become accustomed to and very adept at adjusting for the weight of their burdens, the frenzied tempo of chronic stress, even the warped “comfort zone” that is defined by the ever-widening gap of what they feel must do and what they can actually do. Looking back, I see I have traded in one albatross for another for as long as I can remember. I’m not sure why. But I don’t think it’s as much about being a glutton for punishment as it is about not being sure what I should or, no,  can do with my (relative) freedom — once more time & space become available in my life again.

 

 

What’s one small thing that you (yes, YOU) can do today? (Part 1)

IMG_2974Just thinking of my overwhelming list of to dos — the kind that follows me into the shower, spoons with me at night, and takes a bite out of my sandwich before I get a chance — and I thought about this friend of mine. I’ll call her Rochelle. She’d say, “just take one small thing off that list, one that you can do by yourself today (in under 10 minutes, say) and just do it.” Crossing that one little thing off your crushing, intimidating list steals a disproportionately large amount of its weight and bluster, according to her.

She did this for 80 days or something like that (I forget all of the details, but I think she gave herself as many days as she had items on the list) and FORBADE herself to add anything more to the list until everything on it was crossed off. For a while this was very hard for her and she’d sometimes sneak-start a new one, but then destroy it.

This idea completely freaks me out, still. No lists???

“But how’d you get all the other stuff done, the stuff that you HAD to do but that came up in the meantime, on say Day 48?” I remember asking …I still wonder.

She said she made a mental note of those things and did them too. To this day, she refuses to keep a to do list* that’s longer than four or five items and that can’t be done within a week or preferably a day. (WHAT???) What she discovered in the process of her little experiment, she said, was that her elaborate to do lists were a SHAM: not only were they a terrible form of procrastination and a really crappy reminder, right there in black and white, of how lame she was, but also they didn’t really work … for some people anyway, like me, like the old Rochelle. And — this is the best part — by relying more on her memory, she claimed that what she had to do became more integrated with who she was, her true values and priorities, in fact helped her manifest those things in her life. “I remember what I have to do because it makes sense for me to remember.” She’d also realized that so many of the things on her old to do lists were things she thought she SHOULD do versus things she really needed or wanted to do.

Today Rochelle is one of the most productive and successful people I know personally AND she’s living and making a living in line w/ her own ideas of what’s important. She talks a lot less than she used to, isn’t as twitchy either, seems happier, drinks less, but she’s still Rochelle. And this reminds me of one last thing she said about the old lists: she felt that they, along with other old habits, were like so many old friends who’d provided her comfort over the years, never let her down, were always there for her — and that for a long time, she equated getting rid of these habits with a sort of betrayal … not only of these friends but of a self that she’d formed in their trusted company. But they had become less comfortable for her over time (more on this later, maybe) and by saying goodbye to them, she actually felt more like herself, her true self, than she had in years.

So right now I’ve picked my thing, so small but slightly incriminating in my not having done it, and I hereby commit to getting it done today, crossing it off my list. Not sure yet whether I’ll commit to the rest of the plan.

Either way, I’ll report back later on my success.

WOULD LOVE TO HEAR ABOUT YOURS…

*As opposed to a grocery list or an action/implementation plan in list form, in which each item is the next step in a sequence of steps for getting X done

“Drafts” are the new “so?”

IMG_1969

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_prompt/______-is-the-new-______/

[Please excuse me for choosing my own blog. Felt like something I needed to do today.]

*I have 57 drafts and only 38 (39 now, actually) “published” … things. So? What is a published thing anyway, for many of us, but a draft that has somehow tripped the system, slipped through our over-zealous, ultra-self-censoring, hyper-critical inner critic? Anyway, here’s one that slipped through.

 

38 published, 57 drafts, and my blog’s goal’s

“Due date” has gone by, so by, that I

No longer see clearly the [X] on the horizon. (That dot that was my goal.)

 

But I look often. Things I’ve seen:

A fallen tree, an empty house, a man walking, hands in pockets, and a

Windmill, still. Once, I saw a fox with a rabbit in its mouth!

That was my favorite.

 

Today, though, I don’t know. Can’t make it out.

But, oh!, I know it just moved … closer no less. Or was it me, toward it? (Ha! Noooo.)

I’ve been moving lots lately but not in that direction. I’ve been wishing lots too that it —  my goal, that dot — would come to me, for me, at me,

Any way it wants, with or without rabbit. I’ll take it! But I know. I know. I’ve always known.

 

And I’m actually accepting the “failure,” for now, have taken my hands from the throat of she who failed. (I need her: me.)

And with that grip loosened, I see her becoming beauty-full again, feel laughter pushing up through her throat (words to follow?), eyes opening wide once more, synapses (many? most? all?) firing up, firing one another up,

Stretching out to meet, connect, grab hold, and go. Someplace new. Again and again!

 

So I’ll stop looking for that leaf that wasn’t loosed when fall came early this year, a guest of spring and now summer and soon to be master of the house.

The sun has said go ahead: stop. God, I’ve heard, likes (loves) me after all — no matter what I say or (don’t) do. I hear someone, many, saying, “rest.”

And yet: that dot, my goal. Can’t wash the (imagined) taste of rabbit from my mouth.

And yet, there was nothing here before and now:

38 published, 57 drafts, and me.

We’re still here. I have my crown.

 

 

“Bittersweet symphony” for sure

IMG_0022My blog ending is pending … but our move-out date is not extending! So much to do, so best to start with first things first. Right? Sure.

Somehow I couldn’t resist a certain task that I’m sure could have waited or not been done at all. We’ve accumulated many “outdoor things” during our five years here — rocks, twigs, other things found on walks and brought home, which we’ve then attempted to domesticate in some manner or another. And as much as each meant to us at the time, we canNOT take ALL of them with us. We could toss them over the fence into the forest, home to many of them anyway, or scatter them in the garden. Whatever. But no. They were gathered too lovingly, I was thinking, for us to part w/ them so unceremoniously. We’d have to sort them, choose our favorites, let the rest go. (We’ve got a sort of have a system going.) I told myself also that we’d treat this homely little task with as much respect as we’ve shown items w/ more obvious value or utility; I’d make it something fun for Elliot (the main gatherer of the outdoor things, after all), not to mention a positive learning experience, right? We make room for the future by letting go of the past, right? Right. In the end, though, I’m pretty sure this guy here (w/ the bone) got the most out of the whole process, aside from me …

Elliot didn’t seem to give a hoot what stayed or went, it turned out (pang), but gave me “permission” to do what needed to be done w/ the outdoor things, which I might have balked at if I’d had more energy and didn’t secretly covet the idea of full creative control — things being what they are now. When I was done, Elliot stared at my creation, blankly, clearly nonplussed, finally mustered a lukewarm “cool…” and was off again in a flash (double-pang). That’s his foot there!IMG_0033

It’s hard to know what to make of Elliot’s easy way with belongings. Does he have so much that he doesn’t truly value any one thing for very long? Probably there’s some of that there, even though he has nowhere near what I’ve seen at some of his friends’ houses. Is he too young to fully appreciate the sweetness of the memories I’ve attached to these objects? Yes, again, probably so — which seems as it should be. Has he been lucky enough NOT to inherit whatever gene it is that predisposes my father and me (and my grandmother before us) to holding on a little too long to a little too much? Honestly, I hope so. Does he totally understand that we’re really moving? That I kind of doubt, and this is one of the reasons we’ve been pushing so hard to do it this year, before second grade, rather than next — the younger kids are, the easier the transition is supposed to be for them.

But there is also just this: that the little boy who wanted so much to bring these things into the house (despite my labeling them “outdoor things,” which was more because I hoped he wouldn’t be like me with my boxes of rocks and such), and who finally got his way (my way, anyway), is changing. Elliot still brings home a stick or rock every now and then, but it has to be pretty special — either very unusual (e.g., a twig resembling a snake or a wizard’s wand) or sparkly enough to hint at potential real-world value (“Could this rock be a real diamond if we shined it up?”). And he is now ready to cash in the baby teeth he’s accumulated (five to date) after having kept them like treasures for months and months (I think he was more creeped out by the idea of the Tooth Fairy than he was uninterested in money). Now, he’s willing risk a visit from the Tooth Fairy (even though I never could explain to him why she wanted kids’ baby teeth) if it means he can buy a Lego Legends of Chima Mammoth — he almost has enough money. A tooth or two, he figures, should do the trick.

So anyway, after Elliot left the scene, I sat and admired our collection, my work, for quite a while, remembering the stories behind some of the objects we’d gathered together. I felt good, too, about the odd items I’d interspersed with the outdoor things, some that were handmade and others that just seemed to fit. The wooded back yard looks especially beautiful this time of year, but I turned my back on it, not wanting to fall under its spell again (the main reason we chose this house), OR maybe not wanting to see — in the context of it — this strange thing I’d chosen to do with my limited time/energy before the move. Anyway, after disassembling the arrangement, I whittled the collection down to what would fit on a single piece of paper. I was quite pleased w/ myself, until later I found several more mini-collections outdoor things stowed here and there. I threw up my hands! That’s it, I told myself in frustration: for now, I’m all about packing, a PACKING machine.

The next day I made an ear (out of sculpy, a type of clay) for a decorative wooden horse that lost one in a bad fall during our last move — w/ a little paint, he will be restored to his original beauty. But that will have to wait. Today, for real, I’m a PACKING machine. No more silliness. The time for “purposeless” acts is over, temporarily — at least according to me, now, at this moment in time.

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