Ode to Valentines Day

I have had this story in my WordPress que and for free writing weekend, it seems a good story to publish.

Moving forward to February 14, the infamous Valentines Day that evokes gushy expressions of love or cynical statements that the holiday is “all about the greeting card industry.”  It is an odd day, that resembles a play production.  If you are a cast member then you wholeheartedly embrace learning the dialogue, rehearse gift options with close friends, eagerly wait for the completion of the stage with the scenery complete and props in place.  The big day arrives, the curtain lifts, the production begins, all involved hope that lines are perfectly delivered, everyone stays in character, the lights and sound will function correctly, and the audience will enjoy the show.

Act one began quietly with frosted cookies and a nice note from our boss.  With greed and gusto we stuffed the pink sugary delights into our mouths.   Act two, one of my co-workers received flowers and teared up a bit.  In the third act, several of the guys gathered in the cube to compare notes on what they had planned for their wives hoping they had made the right choice in gifts.

Intermission was uneventful – no singing telegrams, chocolate or any other heartfelt delights.

Act four centered on me in a surly mood as I walked across campus.  I spied a gathering of students handing out something – not sure what.  Usually I take interest and love seeing the activism of young people.  Not today, I made plans to sidestep the gathering.  Out of the corner of my eye I saw a young student head my way.  I reluctantly lifted my head, smiled as she approached me.  She smiled big and dropped a chocolate kiss in my hand, and gave me a slip of paper with an inspirational quote:

“A kiss is a lovely trick designed by nature to stop speech when words become superfluous.” – Ingrid Bergman

How simple and lovely.  On a chilly Valentine’s day a group of about 10 students took time out of their day to hand out chocolate kisses for  a bit of cheer.

As I walked away feeling the love from the young students – the curtains close to a standing ovation.

Scent O’Risk

Friday, March 1, 2013   Do you think it’s better to play it safe or to take risks?

Building with Habitat for Humanity in Guatemala

Building with Habitat for Humanity in Guatemala

After 3 attempts to post each day for the blogging challenges, I finally achieved the goal using the January prompts.  Took February off and thought about taking March off until I saw the theme, “risk.”  I scanned the prompts and felt they offered an intriguing opportunity to explore how walking on the wild side, the safe side, or somewhere between have played out in my life.

I took a break from daily posting in February to spend extra time practicing my banjo, at the  yoga studio, and I had a couple of stories I to finish and try to get published.  I accomplished my goals with the first two items on the list, more banjo and yoga.  However, I did not get my stories completed.  Perhaps returning to the habit of writing daily will inspire me.

One of the blogs I follow wrote about taking the risk of blogging and the idea that other people are reading our thoughts, ideas, fears, dreams, and joys.  The internet has produced a forum to expose ourselves at global, public levels instead of primarily in our immediate communities among our close friends and families.  I enjoyed reading the blog, and  look forward to exploring the topic of risk with the blogging community.

The prompt question for March 1, complicated and depends on the person.  I know people wired for what I consider extremely risky challenges such as rock climbing or sky diving.  I consider myself a mixed bag of grounded practicality, and a wish to test my comfort zone.  I struggle to not let those pesky needles of fear undermine living the bold, colorful opportunities that are available.

As I grow older I feel the push and pull of wanting to challenge my comfort zone, boundaries and the sensible voice that speaks of insurance and retirement fund.  Frequently, I experience the “life is short, and this is not a dress rehearsal”  moments that are mighty strong.  I want to walk out of my cubicle world, get in the car and go settle somewhere on the Olympic Peninsula in Washington.  And that day will arrive at some point, but for now I really do not want to risk giving up a job that provides great benefits, opportunity for growth if I choose to take it, and wonderful co-workers.

Taking a risk runs the gamut from larger activities that include traveling to a different country, or changing jobs to quieter, simple gestures such as getting out of my head long enough to look up and smile at a stranger.  I attended my first hot yoga class a couple of weeks ago.  I almost did not go because I was afraid of the heat – seemed too risky for my comfort zone.   Instead I went in the studio knowing that if needed, I could step out of the room.  The result, I made it through the class sweating profusely like everyone else, felt terrific, slept deeply that night and plan to attend again!

Whiff of Valentine Cheer

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAfter taking a cake decorating class a few years ago, my friend and I established a yearly tradition of decorating Valentine Cookies.  Our friends and co-workers love it as we spread sweet cheer.

We experiment using different decorating tips and colors.   Towards the end we mixed the left over frosting colors together in the bags and decided we like the psychedelic surprise of colors that emerge.  We decided that next year we will abandon single colors in each decorating bag and put duel or triple colors in each one instead.  Walk on the wild side!

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Scent O’Bluegrass, Banjo and Blue Cowboyboots

Hello blogging community here is where I have spent my time.  Have a wonderful day.  We actually have some sun shine today.

Blog alert! Post #6 for the 52 week blog challenge and

Project – Learn to play the Banjo (and find myself a great pair of blue cowboy boots)

http://abanjoandbluecowboyboots.wordpress.com/

Whiff O’fog

SAM_1909

Foggy Saturday Morning

After a month of drama winter weather, January 31, 2013 ended with pretty snowfall and warmer temperatures.  We still have crazy days ahead of us, but I believe the big chill is over.

Dense fog settling in towards the evening and early morning is the latest mother nature production A perfect morning to read, drink coffee, go to yoga class then come to write.

While I am not participating in the daily post challenge for February, I plan to build one or two stories that are rolling around in my head.

And I have my weekly banjo blog challenge to keep up on, abanjoandbluecowboyboots

as well do a little work in my quest to seek the spark blog seekingthespark

I look forward to reading the February challenge posts.  Happy Blogging to you all.

Surrender

SAM_1901

Another Snowy Evening

Wednesday, January 30, 2013
Benjamin Franklin said, “Energy and persistence conquer all things.” Do you agree or disagree?

Energy and persistence with a dose of hope and imagination can go far.

However last night in my yoga class, the instructor talked about the concept of surrender.  She is a musician and has been a part of a band for several years.  They have logged hours of practice, worked hard together and traveled many miles to play at a variety of venues.

She said the band reached a point where they felt “stuck,” and did not really know where to go next or the next milestone to pursue.   She said they reached a point of exhaustion that brought them to this point of  letting go.

High musical energy and persistence to pursue a dream helped them achieve an admirable level.  At the point of not knowing where to go next, they stopped and surrendered to the knowledge that their talent and hard work had brought them to a gratifying place.  But what came next?

She said at that point of  taking the foot off the gas petal that an opportunity emerged for the group.  They were offered the chance to open for a well-known band overseas, and spent time traveling all over Europe opening for  this group.  Their dedication to music, energy and passion to perform, and persistence to follow their dreams no doubt laid the foundation for success.

I enjoyed the story and concept that at a  point of not knowing what action to take next, the group paused, quit scheming, plotting and planning.  They surrendered and a whole new exciting musical opportunity opened up for their band.

Always Plotting

Tuesday, January 29, 2013 – What reoccurring thought uses up a lot of your mental energy?

The “what is the meaning of my life” thoughts can invade my mind and siphon off buckets of mental energy. I will start comparing myself to others and go down the” not good enough” rabbit hole.   Am I doing the best that I can, contributing fully to life, or am I sleep walking through my life?  That will set off a whole litany of internal dialogue, such as;

Should I sell my house and go live that coastal dream?

Do I downsize, keep saving money and incrementally make change?

Should I get a PhD, or maybe another Master’s Degree?

Join the Peace Corps?

Hmmmm

Summer of 2012 produced many changes, not only in my life, but in many of my friends.  I took a trip to the Washington coast early August driving alone for the first time.  Along the way, I visited family and then spent 2 days with a good friend from one of my Habitat for Humanity trips.   After that I spent four incredible days solo at the ocean.

Nancy is a great friend,  I value her wisdom and will actually listen and take to heart her advice. I found this letter that I emailed my sister about my summer and my visit with Nancy. I thought I would share part of it here:

…I have two friends dying of cancer that remind me of how precious life is.   Since my trip to the coast, I don’t even feel like the same person anymore.  I cried a lot, raged some, and left a ton of baggage, regret, would of, could of, should of there – gave it up to the rolling waves.  And yes, I did have a great time too.

While there, I felt strongly that I do want to retire in Washington.  I would like to save money and put a down payment on a small place.  In lieu of that, I definitely want to explore the Olympic peninsula more in the very near future.

Daily I pray to be grateful and for the wisdom to know if I am to make a change, to know when it is time to do so.  Meanwhile, my friend Nancy really confronted me on this limbo I put myself in.  Not moving out and yet always looking to move out.  She challenged to be present where I am.

It is the last few lines that are significant and have affected my daily life.  I realized I spend a lot of time always thinking about and plotting to move.  I am never really present where I now live. That bleeds out a great deal of energy.   For the time being, while I do not abandon my dreams, I made a commitment to stay put and reevaluate in the spring.  When I am not constantly thinking about the meaning of life or plotting my escape, all the energy re-routes to being present and enjoying the life I have now.

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