Category Archives: Things to Ponder

Recharging my soul

I wish my soul had an indicator bar like a battery on a cell phone or other electric devices do. I wish that indicator would send me an alert message when I was at 25% or 10% of my capacity and then I would pause and “recharge.” If my soul sent me an alert that I was at 5% or 1% I could immediately stop everything and rush like a crazy person into a frenzy of soul-recharging activity, similar to what people do when they see their cell phone batteries are at 5% or 1% or less. The frantic rush to an outlet or a charging pad or running in between offices asking if anyone has a charger that can be borrowed – I am sure we have all seen it or experienced it with a cell phone or a laptop or a tablet – the single-minded pursuit of recharging and not letting the battery on the device die.

What if we did that when our souls were running on empty? What if we actually took the time to recharge to 100%? Can you imagine people suddenly realizing they were running at 5% of their capacity and rushing to a spa for a massage or a hike to a beautiful waterfall or resting in a field watching clouds float by? What if you were sitting in a business meeting and the person next to you suddenly jumped up and said “gotta run, my soul’s at 5%” and they rushed out the door to camp for a week and knit hats? How awesome would that be if we took care of ourselves like we take care of our electric devices?!?!

Soul_Blog

So if I were my own best friend I would really listen to my own advice this time and recharge my soul to 100% (or as close to 100% as I could get). If I were being totally honest (and why not be totally honest) I would say I am charged to about 20% most of the time. I dip down to 10% (and become a bit cranky,  sorry people who live with me) then find a way to claw back up to 20% or so. But I cannot remember the last time I actually charged myself back to 100%. I believe I should treat myself, my soul, as good, if not better than my electronic devices. So I challenge you to check in with yourselves – how “charged” are you these days? Are you at 100% most days (if so, way to go!)? Or do you hover in the lower numbers most of the time, feeling a bit empty or run down? What could you do to recharge yourself? What could you change in your life to consistently run at a more “charged” level? There are no right or wrong answers to these questions – just food for thought as you go about your day.

Wishing you a fully charged life!

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Do turtles jump?

Well, do they? Do turtles jump? Can they jump? Do they want to jump? Have you ever seen a turtle jump? If you do a quick search of the mighty web you will probably find a few videos of snapping turtles lunging and hopping and it looks an awful lot like jumping. You may also find various sites that talk about turtles not being able to jump because of the weight of their shells (the equivalent of a 250 pound backpack on a full grown human) and their overall physiology and other limiting factors. The general response on the internet is that turtles do not jump, unless they are snapping turtles and then stay the heck away. (If you are a turtle expert and know otherwise, then please let me know!).

“OK, so…. what?” you are probably thinking right now. Why is she writing about turtles? And jumping? OK, bear with me. Imagine you are a turtle. Imagine you are hanging out in your turtle space with a little water and a little grass and some fish and some flowers and some bugs. And you are sitting in the sun while a soft breeze blows through the grass, half asleep after your big turtle breakfast. You have a good turtle life. THEN… a frog jumps by and your whole world turns upside down and you think “holy moly that is the coolest thing I have ever seen I have to do that right now. I do not even know what that is but I know it is what I should be doing. It is what I want to be doing.” So you try to jump and you cannot. You tell your turtle friends about what you want to do and they all laugh at you or tell you cannot do it. You tell your turtle parents and they tell you jumping is not for turtles and you will get a respectable job crawling thank you very much. And so it goes.

But you keep trying to jump. Yes, you are a turtle. And yes, you should not be able to do this. But. But. But…

jumpturtle_blog

So, if I were my own best friend and I were a turtle and I wanted to jump more than anything else in the whole big world, I would remind myself to find a way, despite all the evidence and all the feedback and all the limitations.

Because people have done really amazing things despite everyone saying they could not do it or they did not have the skills or they did not grow up the right way or with the right support or with the right skills. Because if you want it badly enough I don’t think there is a right way or a wrong way. There is simply a way. So go be a jumping turtle.

Plan A

I was listening to a book last week and one of the characters was trying to convince the other character to do something she was not sure she wanted to do. The first character said something to the effect of “If Plan A doesn’t work it’s OK. There are 25 more letters in the alphabet.”

PlanABlog

I love it. 25 more letters! 25 more chances to make it different or tweak it or try again. 25! I was trying to think of the last time I tried something 25 times in an effort to “get it right” or to get to what I wanted to achieve. The only thing that comes close has been my ill-fated attempts at sandwich bread making which I’ve posted about here before. I might be somewhere around Plan R or Plan S by now and to be honest I had given up, but I have another 8 or so letters to go so I think I’ll try again. However with everything else I think I might get to Plan D or Plan E and then I stop. I am short-changing myself – there are 26 letters in the alphabet! It is time to become more resilient, to not give up so easily, to persevere.

So if I were my own best friend I would remind myself to try-try-again, if plan A doesn’t work there are 25 more letters in the alphabet.

And what about you? Do you give each new opportunity at least 26 chances before you walk away? Do you move on to Plan AA, AB, AC and so on? Or are you closer to what I have been doing recently, stopping after a maximum of 5 or 6 attempts and moving on? What could we accomplish if we gave everything at least 26 attempts, each slightly different based on what we learned from the previous ones? Imagine!

Tribes. Revisited.

It was in August of 2016, over 7 months ago, that I last wrote about finding a tribe. It feels like it was only a week ago or maybe a month but that is how time goes these days, fast and furious and recklessly moving forward.

I still strongly believe, maybe even more so now than seven months ago, the following  key things about a tribe:

  1. It’s PEOPLE. Not just one person. I don’t think your tribe (well my tribe anyway) is complete with one person. I think multiple people bring multiple gifts and qualities that make the tribe a richer whole.
  2. Tribes are often formed over time. I think it’s quite rare to step into an already formed group of people who become your friends. I think that is especially rare as I get older. Tribes take time and effort to form. The process is organic and slow.
  3. Tribes change. People move. People move on. People die. People change. The people who make up your tribe will change. I think it is so very important to remember that (especially as we can get set in our ways) being open to new people entering our tribe is a beautiful gift we can give ourselves and the new people who may “join.”
  4. Membership should always be open. This piggybacks a bit on the previous point but I think it is important enough to merit its own mention. If you are part of a tribe, if you have a tribe, if you are a leader of a tribe, please don’t close the membership.

So do I have a tribe? Nope. Not completed yet anyway, but bigger than it was before. Am I still working on it? Absolutely! To reference #3 above, tribes change, and mine is still evolving.

In an effort to evolve my tribe here is a recap of the last half-year. Again, holy crap, how have seven months gone by???

  1.  I have made an effort to talk to people and smile at people and say hello. Even people I do not know. Crazy, right? Yup. I’m that person that smiles and says “hi” if we happen to make eye contact when we are standing in line waiting for coffee. Are you the person who says “hi” back or are you the person who buries your face so deep in your smart phone I would think you were charging the phone with your nose? No judgement, I promise. I have been both those people, but I am trying to do less nose-charging and more “hellos”.
  2. I have especially tried to connect with people even when I feel nervous or awkward because I am not quite sure what to say or do, like if I am at a social event for my kid and there are a bunch of other parents there too. I assume they are feeling nervous or awkward, NOT that they don’t want to talk with me. And I jump right in. As an added bonus I have gotten slightly better at making small talk with random people and I have discovered a few new coffee shops and stores I would never have known about by complimenting people’s shoes or shirts or mugs. Now I just have to figure out how to translate that into a friendship! Baby steps people, baby steps.
  3. I have joined groups that met in person and met virtually online. I have participated and really attempted to connect with the people in these groups. However, it turns out the groups were not quite the right fit for me (like I was the color orange and everyone else with yellow). Everyone I met was very nice and very polite, but I never really connected with anyone. Finally, after six months I was able to say “not my place” and walk away. Which was also kind of scary, because I thought I SHOULD fit and that is why I joined, but then I didn’t. I know though, there are other groups out there and I will keep hunting for that group that is the right fit.
  4. I have been happier knowing I am trying even though it has been hard work and waaaaay out of my comfort zone. Or maybe I am happier because of that nightly foot massage, glass of wine, hot bubble bath, home-cooked meal, no dishes to do… hahahaha, fantasy world people, pure fantasy!  

Tribe2_Blog

So, if I were my own best friend I would remind myself that good things often take time, do not give up, persevere and keep making small talk. Eventually those connections are formed and they grow. Brick by brick is how a castle is built, why not a tribe too? 

Are you trying new adventures and expanding the bounds of your world? Are you already in a tribe and inviting new members into the fold? Are you getting nightly foot massages, glasses of wine, bubble baths, and so on, if YES, then please share your secrets!

 

Funky Math

If I were my own best friend I would tell myself that 1+1 does NOT always equal 2. It turns out that sometimes 1+1 actually equals something more like five-hundred-twenty-six-thousand-and-two. See – funky math!

FunkyMath_Blog

And this is why I have not posted here very often in the last three years. Actually I should go back to what 0+1 equals. It is not 1. It is closer to two-hundred-ten-thousand-and-twelve. (And if you are an especially astute reader you will notice that the actual sum of 0+1 (210,012) does not equal the actual sum of 1+1 (526,002). Again funky math!).

I remember learning math in school. So elegant. So simple. Green chalkboard. Solid rules. Learned the rules and the results followed. I loved it. 0+1 =1. 1+1 =2.

And then we had kids. And math does not work with kids. We went from no kids to one kid. And then three years later we went from 1 kid to 2 kiddos. And the additional time spent caring for said kiddos is NOT proportional to 0+1. Because it turns out kiddos are not just “1”. They are feeding and changing and cuddling and keeping warm and dry and teaching. Oh the teaching… how to use the potty and how to eat and how to blow your nose in a tissue (not my pants leg) and how to say hello and good-byes and bathe yourself and… And there is a lot of coffee too, far more than 1 cup a day.

And it is a wonderful, sometimes jaw-dropping, currently exhausting, life-changing experience. But it is also why this space is often ignored right now or put on the back burner. Because of funky math. (But I also love this math and wouldn’t change it for the world.)

Being in the flock.

Flock_BlogImagine you have been dropped off on a small island. You and one other person were delivered to the island at about the same time. There are 5 other people on this island as well who have been there for quite a while. There are seven of you in total and you are divided into three groups. You all work alongside each other but essentially each group has a different daily task. Just to make it a little more obscure let’s say you are all birds.

One group of birds gathers grass on the island. Another group hunts for worms. The last group collects water.

You personally get along fairly well with the other birds on the island but are not especially close to any of them. The other bird you arrived on the island with also seems to get along well with the others. However you notice when that bird goes off to gather grass the other birds spend a lot of time squawking about that bird. And the talk is not always very nice or supportive of that grass-gathering bird. That bird seems to gather grass a little bit differently from it’s partner-grass-gatherer and from all other grass-gatherers that have come before it.

You are a worm-hunter. So for you it seems hard to pass judgement or make assessments about how the grass gatherer does what he does. So you stay quiet. And while you do not join in the fray of discussion or gossip about the new grass gatherer you also do not defend that grass gatherer or speak up. You put your head down, hunt your worms, and stay neutral.

The island is quite small and ruffling the feathers of the other birds could be pretty uncomfortable. But as the days go by you find you are feeling more and more uncomfortable about not defending the grass gatherer who goes off and does her work diligently and quietly and with what seems like very little support from the other birds on the island. For what it’s worth the grass gatherer reports being content, liking the island, liking the other birds, and being happy with his method for grass gathering. But you are pretty sure she has no idea the other birds are gossiping about her when she is not around.

So here is the question. What to do? Do you speak up to the group? Do you talk to the grass gatherer about what you have heard and seen? Do you continue to stay quiet, hunt worms and not engage in the squawking? Do you accept that the grass-gatherer is content and not rock the boat? Do you defend the grass gatherer even though he has no idea any of this is going on? Do you fly away?

I do not know if there is a right answer to this situation. But I think it is a situation that arises over and over in life – when do you step up and say something and when do you go about your business and decide it does not pertain to you? As someone who is trying to be my own best friend I struggle with the “right” course of action. There is self-preservation and there is also defending someone else who may not even know they need defending. Then again, if that other person is truly content, then do they need defending? Is it my place to decide they need defending if they are truly happy with the situation?

And finally, if the other birds are squawking this much about the new grass gatherer it makes one wonder, what are they saying about the new worm hunter (you) when off hunting for worms? Does that even matter? Is that an environment you would want to stay in? Or would you take steps to learn how to fly away? So, as the new bird on the island do you defend and fight against what was already there, stay quiet and hunt your worms, or fly away?

Love is mashed peas.

If I were my own best friend I would tell myself love shows up in unusual ways and at unexpected times.

LoveIsPeas_Blog

***There are a few important facts that help set the stage for this story. 

  1. The little guy recently got his first pet – a red fish – which after much deliberation he decided to name “Fish.”
  2. The little guy is just over two years old so actual care of Fish tends to fall to the larger family members (i.e. me).
  3. We chose a fish because we wanted a low maintenance pet.
  4. Fish (meaning all fish, not just our fish) can get constipated.

(Disclaimer: This post is longer than usual. The short version is I spent a long time on a Friday night figuring out how to hand feed our pet fish mashed peas so he could stop being constipated (i.e. poop and be able to use his swim bladder again to float) and go on living a happy life being tortured by the blue dinosaur I put next to his tank to be his friend. Heh heh heh. Oh yeah, and be loved by the little guy. Love is weird.)

The longer version: It was an average Friday evening after dinnertime and we were getting the little guy ready for bed. I was looking forward to some end of the week, feet up, TV on, veg time. My partner in crime suddenly noticed that Fish was not swimming around in his tank. He was not bobbing gently or swishing in circles or trying to attack the large blue dinosaur I put next to his tank to be his friend. Nope. 

Fish was floating on his side. At the top of the tank. Inflated two to three times larger then normal size. Flapping his little flippers. And not looking very good. “Aaaacck” was my first thought. A four letter word was my second.

A phone call to the pet shop and a short drive later with a water sample from the tank it was determined that bad water, bad pH, inappropriate nitrates, bacteria, virus, and fungus were not the culprits. Three “fish guys” were holding court around the water samples trying to decide what might be wrong with Fish. 

As the pet shop prepared to close they all agreed that Fish was most likely constipated. Say what?!?! Fish can get blocked up?? This came as a surprise to me, so I sarcastically quipped, “so what, now I need to give my fish a laxative?” 

The three fish guys looked at me and in all seriousness said “yes” in unison. Huh. Apparently fish can get constipated and they have this thing called a swim bladder that then gets blocked up and when that gets blocked up the fish cannot inflate/deflate to go up/down in the water. (That’s the simple version they gave me.) “So, I assume you guys sell some sort of laxative drops,” I asked desperately hoping this was true, because it was late, I was tired, and putting a couple drops in the water sounded fairly easy.

“Nope” was the response. “You have to mash up some green peas and feed them to the fish.” (Seriously?? My fish is floating on his side at the top of the tank… He runs for the farthest corner when I drop food in on a healthy day. How on earth am I going to get him to eat from a spoon???)

And with that the pet store closed. I drove home trying to figure out how I was going to get Fish to eat mashed peas. Upon arriving home I was immediately enticed by my big comfy couch, something mindless on TV, and the thought of putting up my feet. And then I looked at Fish. 

And that’s when it first hit me. I realized I loved that little red critter if for no other reason then he is part of our family and I get to scare the fish poop out of him with the turquoise dinosaur. Alright, get to work…

Thirty minutes later I am starting to panic a little as Fish is still mostly circling the surface and has now turned a pink shade (not his usual brilliant red). I have tried three different baby spoons and a syringe without luck. The bottom of the bowl is littered with pieces of mashed pea. I am hoping there is some diffusion going on and Fish is ingesting at least a little bit somehow, someway. I briefly consider making a mug of mashed pea slurry, bathing him in it and then returning him to his tank…

That’s when I decide to put a little mashed pea on the end of my finger. I slowly put my finger in the water, edge it gently towards Fish and… he eats it! 

Hallelujah! Lights and choirs and singing and more lights! I literally jump. In the kitchen. At 9:30 at night. And cheer. Because I finger fed Fish mashed peas. Love. Plain and simple. (And maybe a little insanity but mostly love.)

A few more pieces of pea later I decide that is enough. Fish is still circling the top but I am hopeful the peas will do their magical thing and Fish will recover. I wish I could hug him and tell him it will be okay. Some part of me realizes this is a fish and if I wanted to hug our pet I would have pushed harder for a puppy or a kitty or a guinea pig. And some part of me says what the heck is going on, aren’t fish supposed to be low maintenance?? And another part of me feels good because I can go to bed now knowing I did everything I could for the smallest member of our family. 

And that’s it – love shows up in unexpected ways. Feeding mashed peas to a fish off of my finger at 9:30 on a Friday night. Both for love of the fish and love of the little guy. (Smile.)

 

[Epilogue: For those curious souls who want to know what happened to Fish… The peas totally worked! I woke up the next morning afraid to look feeling pretty certain I was going to find a not so healthy looking Fish, but there he was completely back to normal. Circling the tank. Swimming gracefully up and down. At his normal size! There was a rather hefty fish dropping on the floor of the tank. And later there were some odd bubbles at the surface that I cleaned out. So perhaps the “fish guys” were right – Fish was a little blocked up, a little gassy, and needed a little fishy fiber! As of today he remains happy, healthy, and “best friends” with a turquoise dinosaur.]