I sent this picture to a friend the other day. I said, what pops in your mind when you see this?
I saw him when I went into the file room. I may have even said out loud, what ARE you doing there? What popped in my mind was “poor life choices”. I mean this small praying mantis is 13 floors up from the ground, with another 13 floors up to the top. What is it looking for? Why in the world did it think THIS was a sound plan? I related to him, sometimes I feel small and 13 floors up with no net, thinking, what have I done this time?
I received one word back from the friend: determination.
It is homecoming week at our local high school, yesterday was “red, white and blue” day; today is denim day. I casually mentioned that I had an old jean jacket if he wanted to borrow it. He agreed to look at it and declared it, kinda cool and sort of retro. And promptly put it on.
Well, yes… probably a bit retro. I received it as a Christmas present my sophomore year of high school. I wanted one so much. Funding in the household did not lead itself to rash and name brand purchases. I had two pair of Guess jeans I had bought with money I had saved working at Ponderosa. A Coca-Cola jean jacket was beyond all hope. But I dreamed.
My mother’s older brother was a good man. A busy man. A traveling man. He had large dreams and many hobbies. He meant well, but follow through was iffy sometimes. He would flit into our lives and back out again. He was misunderstood, troubled and I really enjoyed being around him and learning from him. He opened my world to possibilities. He was the only person who has ever been allowed to shorten my name and I was ok with it. He taught me about genealogy and reading ships manifests. He cleaned up my first resume. He met me when I flew out to college.
It just so happened… sophomore Christmas was a flit in time for him and his wife. She confided they had done no shopping but did I have ideas for my family. I did, and I also gave one for me. There is a picture of me opening the jacket. It is a combination of joy and disbelief and wonder that sometimes a dream/wish does come true all shown on the face of a somewhat jaded high school teen.
I’m supposed to be reading school work, ok actually… I am supposed to be doing work-work, but it is the Friday before a holiday weekend, and I think I have solved enough problems for at least 3 weeks in the last 4 days, so I am reading for school… however this dinosaur is having trouble reading.
Hence my quick and dirty sketch I made for you. Once I thought of that line, this picture popped in my head and since you can’t see it in my head, I tried to sketch it out. It made me giggle because this dinosaur cannot read because his arms are too short… fear not, my arms are a fine length to read.
Anyway… back from the tangent…
I like paper. I like to read paper books. I like to read the smudge my hands with ink newspaper on Sunday morning. I like to review and check things on paper and if my handwriting was a bit better, I’d probably enjoy writing on paper (but alas most of the time, I look at what I have written and think… what DOES that say?)
I was one of the first users of an E-reader. Embraced the Nook; family member embraced the Kindle. I like being able to be on vacation, finish a book and click, download… new reading material. My back and I like not traveling with 10 paperbacks for a week…even though I would leave them around like gifts to other readers when I finished (my own little private BookCrossing.) I read on my tablet all the time and really enjoy it.
However I am finding it really difficult to read more than 3-4 pages on a computer monitor. My eyes get tired and my brain starts thinking random things… I call it “oh look a squirrel” syndrome. I love to read so this is odd for me. Reading is not normally something I can be distracted out of doing. My family has a fear that they would have to grab a book/tablet I was reading to lead me out of a burning building as I would not notice. That may not be far from the truth.
So will continue to play with font size and monitor distance from me and hope this is just something I need practice at. But for now… this dinosaur is having some trouble reading… good thing for you blogging is not a problem 😉
Back in high school, I ran cross country. Running distance is a bit like saving for a vacation, you need to have quite a bit in the bank before the big day. Lots of miles logged prior to the meets. That was hard to do where I lived and during the time period I lived. There were no trails and berms on the side of the road where small. Sidewalks? What are these sidewalks you speak of? We would frequently run in cemeteries. They were safe, good surface to run on and to me, really very peaceful.
As I got older, I still spent time in cemeteries, less running… more looking. My aunt and I would travel around the area searching for ancestors and their stories. Taking pictures of stones, diligently recording dates and names. Documenting our history and finding more branches of the family tree.
I moved to a city that has lots of sidewalks and a lovely trail system… and still I am drawn to the cemeteries. There is one near us that I frequently walk. I have taught my kid to ride a bike there and then eventually practice driving (ok not without a few jokes about not hurting anyone while practicing).
Having walked in that cemetery for over seven years, I have favorite markers that make me reflect, the gentleman who was born in 1923 and served in WWII and makes me think of my grandfather. The markers of children who just have one date; they cause tears to well in my eyes remembering my Anna and I send out a mental hug to the parents of those angels. Those markers break my heart while also reminding me I am part of something much bigger and am not alone.
Mostly what I do when we walk in the cemetery, is fix flowers. Lots of times, even without a storm, vases have fallen over and flowers are strewn. Flags are tilted and touching the ground. People visit once or twice a year but life gets busy and the person of the grave you are visiting, would really rather you do something with the living and celebrate life. So I walk, straighten the flowers, learn about people’s lives, letting my imagination fill in the blanks and let my mind wander.
Music helps me reset and shift gears. Type of music depends on the situation or what I am shifting from. Background music is ok, as long as it is not distracting. Though sometimes that is the purpose of my music… to be distracting.
If I am at work and my door is shut (first clue to go away – because my door is rarely shut) and you are foolish enough to open the door and you find I am playing the Genesis album (by Genesis) … you should slowly back out, close the door and not return until the music is off and the door is open. This is good advice; you are welcome. (And if I have jumped all the way to “I Don’t Care Anymore”, avoid me for 3 days)
My drive home consist a lot of Lady Gaga, Pink and Meghan Trainor (“you’d want to be me, too”) I think because that music tends to be outside the norm of both Work Me and Home Me. It makes great transition music for those 20 minutes. I sing, I dance, I drive… I am ready to tackle the Home Me by the time I pull in the driveway.
When the child was anti-driver’s ed and learning to drive, I told him… greatest thing ever is going down the interstate, windows down, playing a song over and over and singing loud (ok, yes I have pretty much lost my voice on more than one occasion to Paradise by the Dashboard Lights… I wouldn’t tell this to just anyone). He looked doubtful. His evil mother forced him to do driver’s ed, drive enough hours and get his driver’s license. Yesterday, he let it slip that he really likes singing with the windows down. I refrained from saying I told you so.
However, his favorite new station is Pandora 80s music. I know. I shook my head in disbelief also.
I had lunch with a friend the other day and we were venting about the smokers in our respective departments. Not so much that they smoked, but the time it took. I have one person who goes out every two hours for about 10 minutes. If we are here about 9 hours… yeah, you can do the math. We want to propose a fresh air break. Get 10 minutes every two hours to walk around the block. Wouldn’t that be awesome? Heck, I am not piggy, I’d take one ten minute break in the afternoon and one in the morning and be very happy with this new plan.
I feel so much better when I don’t gobble a frozen meal at my desk while working but get out and walk for 20 to 30 minutes. To feel the sun on my face or a breeze. The smell of outdoors and not recycled air. To smile at strangers and look at the architecture around me on the buildings.
As I walked today I thought: I wish kids in school got more outside time and people in nursing homes. And me… I wish I had more time outside.
First off… this is initially written on pen and paper as my phone is at 39% and I am sans spare battery and cord. Me being me, I have a pen and paper in my bag. Sometimes being a dinosaur comes in handy. I’m sitting in the side hall of the School for Information and Computing waiting for the 530 meeting. I’m early, because… of course, I am early.
A few things strike me. It is quiet in here, which is understandable for Thursday at almost 5pm. There are quite a few people around and all have lanyards and badges with name tags to buzz them in and out of doors. Part of my brain realized it would be this way, I have seen enough buzzing in at work and in the lower grade schools. But I had not really processed it had made its way to the norm on a college campus.
The clothing is about what I had expected (and had tried to dress to fit in, if I am honest with both of us). Jeans, leggings, t-shirts and every day tops. Some really uncomfortable looking shoes to be worn in a place of a lot of walking but then again, I am not seeing a lot of middle age feet.
The building is older but has been given a nice face lift with nice comfortable nooks that allow for hanging out and meeting up (or killing time when you are too early). The lack of outlets and the flooring surface gives away its age, sort of like looking at a person’s hands will do.
The lecture hall door opens and I go in. Non- traditional students, it seems have learned to sit about 4 rows from the front in the middle. Not the back row hiding any more for us. I sit here waiting for the program to begin and am very grateful this is an online class. I am not sure I could do lecture halls again. Technology has been added but it seems to be the same chairs and half sized, flip up tops of 20+ years ago.
The speaker talks, I take notes. I look around at the flipped up desk tops and the iPhones on record mode around me. I feel ancient. We break out in our specific areas of interest. I find my tribe. We go around the room introducing ourselves, I feel a bit less ancient. A delightful young lady next to me introduces herself and says, I am Lexi and I am really intimidated by all of you because I just graduated in the spring. And with that, it becomes much easier… much clearer. We are all scared about new things, starting new paths… finding our way, regardless of age.
It rained… finally. It has been a long summer of very little rain and lots of watering of plants. We were out walking about a half mile from home when it hit. Not a hard rain, but a drenching rain. The sort of rain that once you make up your mind you are going to get wet and there is no way around that (“not like you are made of spun sugar” my mother would say), you can enjoy it.
As we walked back to the house, and I gave up cleaning off my glasses, I tried to remember the last time I had walked in the rain to the point of soaked…not the quick dash into Target or the quick walk from my car to work… but just walking in the rain like you see small kids do. Feeling the rain on my face. Feeling my t-shirt grow heavier the wetter it got, letting my toes squish in my wet shoes and socks… just being totally in the rain.
Sometimes I forget how centering being immersed in nature can be… I probably need to walk in the rain more often.
We all have them, right? Those niggling and sometimes much louder Mean Voices (MV) that say, you can’t do that! Are you nuts? Of course that person is mad at you; you had to have done something to them. You really shouldn’t try that, you are too much of a chicken and really don’t have the ability. Good lord that top makes you look like the Michelin Tire Man… take that off! You know… those voices. They are probably the worst when we are teenagers, trying to find ourselves and how we fit. But MV unfortunately never really go away.
Mine are really loud right now. And I hate that. I keep trying to flick them away…that isn’t working out so well. At least not yet.
My second class in the MLS starts August 25th and as is my nature, I am reading some of the required readings early. To get a feel for the class, to get an idea how this one is organized, and I think need to learn some software but I am at a frozen impasse on which to pick and use. What if I pick wrong? I had hoped calm some fears. Unfortunately, it seems to be doing the opposite. The MV are loud and doubting. So much new information to process, trying to figure out where to find the time to make it happen (not sleeping well, so maybe there is a time slot there), trying to juggle All The Things and making mental mountains out of molehills.
And then there is orientation tomorrow. I am excited to meet the department and maybe some classmates, as the degree is all online, this might be my one opportunity to do so over the next few years. But the MV are making a chorus of what if they ask you your focus (public, academic, research), like you have a clue on that! You are so old to be doing this… sure we can call in non-traditional but we all know what that means right? What in the world are you going to wear… And on and on.
In my saner moments, I take a deep breath. And remember ace up my sleeve is that I have done out of my comfort zone things before…many times, I know that the MV will hush as I take the first steps forward and I just need to focus on the little wee Nice Voice that says, Dude! you, rock star you, you GOT this and I love your hair! And a bit more sleep… that might be a good idea too. 🙂
Yesterday was Sunday. And every Sunday I go to the store and do the shopping for the week. On good weeks when I plan well, this is the only trip I need to make… on non-organized weeks I find myself there every other day.
Feeling good about my planning, I got in the check-out line and realized my coupons were at home. I made a joke to the cashier and he smiled and said there was always next time. As he scanned and bagged, I noticed he was getting very quiet and his smile had left his face. He was still scanning my items quite productively but he wasn’t there mentally.
I’m sorry, he said, my head is not here. I seem to be double bagging things that don’t need bagged and not doing it to the ones that need it.
I told him it was early in the day, no worries.
He started to quietly cry while continuing to scan and bag my groceries. He said, I broke down earlier today and I thought I was over that. I smiled gently and said, I picture a box in my head and I put whatever it is in there and shut the lid until I have the right time to deal with it. He wiped at the tears. I continued to put bags in my cart.
He found a mental finger hold and pulled himself back. I’m so sorry, so sorry I did that, he told me. I didn’t see a thing, Dustin. He handed me my receipt and more coupons. I made a small joke about adding these to my stack at home and made him smile.
I’ve thought about him on and off since then. You never know what someone is going through or dealing with … all we can do is be kind and send off good thoughts and prayers and hope they land at the feet of the person struggling. Hang in there, Dustin. You got this.