Something Old, Something New…

Redesigning a website is like entering into a marriage. You’ve come to a crossroad and things change. You stop and reevaluate, reconfigure, and wiggle around the bits and differences until pieces fit together, the old and the new.

This photo from Ocean City is part of the old. I couldn’t part with it. Now it’s the first shot in the new slider. I like the crossroad of land and sky and water. There’s an old couple who struggled together up the dune to look. They, too, are at a crossroad. I like to imagine they have come to the ocean for years on vacation and played in the surf. Now they stand and remember.

The second photo in the slider, Prairie Nights, is from our family farm. My husband and I live in a crossroad city, Kansas City, and travel to Ocean City, where my husband spent much of his childhood, and to the farm, where I spent much of mine.

The old blog posts are still here in a new format, but the sidebar is gone, so readers will need to scroll down to the bottom banner which has links to the categories. Another old/new is the Publication Page with old images but in a new and updated style.

I’ve often stood at a crossroad. My crossroads usually read STOP on the side I can see, but the destination is written on the reverse side in ink fated to remain invisible for an unknown span of time. I stop, reconfigure, and head off somewhere, not knowing where or why I’m going, but trusting I’ll eventually understand.

Sort of like now. I’m at the crossroad between finishing a memoir and finding an agent to walk with it and me into publishing. That’ll be new—I expect I’ll keep you posted. While there is no end to advice or lists to finding an agent, the bottom line, as in all the arts professions, is who you know. So if you know or have an agent who might like a woman who wanders, let me know.

The completely new and figuring-out-how-it-works on this site are the pages for Workshops and Services. Two years ago, a stop sign ended twenty years of adjunct college teaching. Now I’m teaching through Workshops. I like teaching and I’m glad it’s evolved.

A year ago, a stop sign left us without a place to hold church services, but the Services page will offer us as presiders at weddings and memorial services. I’ve been a Spiritual Mentor/Counselor for more than twenty years. It was time to make it more public.

Please wander around in the new site. Let me know if you like it or if something doesn’t work for you. At base, we’re all in this together.

One last piece of new: in this new design, I’m working with Jen Wewers who has a great eye and knows social media. If it’s time for you to reconfigure, I highly recommend her.

 

Taking the Slow Path

***This is a re-purposed blog post from May of 2010, as relevant today as it was then. In one way or another, this “chaotic time” has been going on for a while. We should have become used to it, but we aren’t. Here’s the good news: You’re still around four years later, and still reading; I’m still writing. That’s something.

 

Last week, a student snuffled at the next desk. He muffled a couple of coughs in his elbow as kids are taught these days. “Go home,” I said to him. “You’re sick.” He nodded. “Are you speaking tonight?” He nodded again, muffling another cough. “Then leave after your speech,” I said. He shook his head. “I can’t. I can’t let my group down.”

That’s what I get for teaching a focus on community in Public Speaking.

I could have moved desks to observe and evaluate the speeches, but I didn’t. I handed him tissues and admired his dedication. At the beginning of each semester, I put an emphasis on responsibility to their small group as well as to the larger class as a whole. Maybe that’s what he was thinking by isolating at the back of the room. What could I say?

I hadn’t been sick all semester and thought nothing more except to hand him a tissue from time to time. By Friday, my soft palette was achy and I began the regimen of Emergen-C and Air Borne. By Saturday, my throat felt like a marching army in dirty socks. More Air Borne, more Emergen-C. Sunday morning I felt okay so went to church. Cliff said stay home, but I didn’t. And by Sunday afternoon, I was bona fidely sick.

The past few weeks have been pretty chaotic. For us all. Too much going on and too much to do and too many sudden changes in direction. Not much down time other than an evening stroll into the yard before dinner to cut asparagus, see how the flowers are doing.

“Behold the lilies of the field;

they neither sweat nor toil.”

Most spiritual traditions say the same in one way or another: Slow down. See beauty. Take time with your life. Or else (there’s always an “or else”) you get struck down in one way or another – this time with a cold, another time with a heart attack, another time with a broken leg. Take time. That’s exactly why I walk into the garden in the evenings, to take time – but one fifteen minute stroll in the evening doesn’t solve the challenges of the other hours.

No matter how many times we read or hear the same message, we get caught in the whirl. It’s even possible to be conscious we’re in a whirl and still be caught.

So, if being conscious of the whirl isn’t enough to stop, what is? I’m reminded of the play, Stop the World I Want to Get Off, first produced in London in 1961. It isn’t as if this particular time has the dibs on chaos. It’s been around; it will come back. So, is stopping when we are caught in chaos the answer?

In reality, being conscious of chaos doesn’t necessarily allow us to sidestep; the task is learn to live with it. To stop being afraid (I wasn’t afraid, just unwise) or in my case, cranky because my head filled with gunk and my chest hurt.

In modern-day vernacular, that’s some of what the Buddha said: suffering is part of the human condition, but you can choose how to live with suffering.

Today, I’ll take the slow, winding path, watch the sunlight, be at peace. Come sit with me. Well, I’m contagious, so do it in your imagination. You won’t hear my sniffling.

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Daily Post: Futures Past

Twenty years ago, the premier advice, from givers-of-advice on job searches, was how to prepare for the question, “What do you see yourself doing in five years?” Sometimes the time frame in a very aggressive job search put the number at ten.

I had no idea. Usually I could figure out today and even a week in advance, but five years? What would I be doing in five years? Even pondering the question made me laugh out loud. Not to a recruiter’s face, mind you, but otherwise, yes. Laugh out loud.

I was asked to ponder the question in high school. And after I began college. Again, I had no idea so I took the basics and let it go at that.

Even twenty years ago, living a professional life in Washington D.C., I had no idea. I’d already had several careers. Perhaps I should say “faux-professional.” As a contractor for the Office of Personnel Management, I was, essentially, a part-time teacher.

But today’s Daily Post question asked “As a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up? How close or far are you from that vision?”

Oddly enough, my future really was in my past. As a kid, I wrote all the time. A diary, mostly, that I hid under my pillow and was always surprised when my mom found it. And outraged, I might add. But I never expected to be a writer. That simply wasn’t on my horizon even though my mother wrote a column for the local paper and my grandmother was a poet. But my grandmother was dead and my mother annoying. Why would I be a writer? But I am.

What I really and truly dreamed about was a home, a husband, kids, and a picket fence around it all. Truly. So in high school, I got tired of the question and left school to marry a soldier. We moved all over the place but no picket fence. No marriage after a while either. But I did have kids. I was part of the way there.

In 2003, Cliff and I bought this 1924 two-story stucco and brick house with a privacy fence around the back yard. Taller than a picket fence, but nonetheless, a fence. In 2004 we married. In 2005 we got a kid. True, oldest kid who came to live with us and go to college, nonetheless, a kid.

And that’s how we’ve lived ever since, home, fence, kid.

Oh. And writer.

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Daily Prompt: The Power of Touch

The fabulous not to be missed smooth to the touch Commander’s Palace Bread Pudding Souffle.

English: The Commander's Palace, New Orleans, ...
English: The Commander’s Palace, New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Bread Pudding Souffle
Commanders Palace Bread Pudding Souffle

It came to the table warm from the oven; the waitress brought a spoonful of the whiskey sauce to the top and gently prodded open the crust and poured the sauce inside. A spoonful of this is a bite from heaven. Really. Warm and creamy and the tang of whiskey and sweet and ooooohhhhhhh so good.

Not only that, but the textures of shiny ceramic plate, paper frilled doily (how often do you see that anymore???) and the crusty top over a mushy sweet insides? Now there’s TEXTURE.

Time to……….?

What, then, is time? If no one asks me, I know. If I wish to explain it to one that asketh, I know not. My soul is on fire to know this most intricate enigma.                                  St. Augustine of Hippo

After more than a full year of Big Projects layered onto Big Project, I woke the last two mornings with my head empty,

“I thought your head was always empty,” younger son said via phone which made it safe to say.

Addle-headed is not the same as empty-headed.

I had no trip to organize (we’d had three over the past year), no pressing detail work, no painting or fixing, no editing or marketing. No renovations. All of which required Big Projects over the past year, usually more than one at a time.

The last two Big Projects are in: final galley edits on the poetry book went in Friday with all the dots, tiddles, M-dashes, misspelled words and commas marked and corrected. On Monday, taxes followed the trail to the post office, complete with K Schedule and A Schedule and forms with various numbers – several beginning with 88-somethings, and a second packet with the Missouri taxes and its several pages.

Both projects filled themselves with a multitude of numbers and fine details and checking and rechecking which filled my head the first thing upon waking. Big Projects, of whatever kind, do that.

What’s a girl to do with no Big Projects? With time on her hands and an empty head?

I’ve never been a big television watcher. A farm childhood and years of international living and travel took care of that piece of American culture. I missed most of the 80s decade all together. Actually, I missed a lot of the 70s too. What I remember from the 1980s is living in New Orleans, New York, St. Lucia, Mexico, and Washington D.C. – where I owned a television for the first time in years. The same television now lives in our bedroom.

It’s too cold and rainy to walk although my body could certainly use a long walk. A recent bout with amnesia and high blood pressure (fancy that!) precludes work with weights above my head. Yoga requires too many head down poses to spend much time with that.

So I stare out the window at a muddy yard, remember last summer’s drought. The oak has stubbornly refused to leaf out. It obviously knew something the rest of us only guessed at. Its time is not the calendar’s time. Its time is its own.

As is mine.

Time, that most elusive and unknowable task-master, stretching.

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