A Wish List.

I keep a spiral binder that I use to make notes to myself about things I need to do or information I need to keep at my fingertips. It contains my to do lists, packing lists, notes about hotel reservations and car reservations, and more. Today, I opened it up to make a packing list for my visit to Iowa this weekend, and I happened upon a list I apparently wrote back on August 18. I say apparently because I have zero recollection of writing this particular list. Continue reading

More Commandments.

In thinking about the events, good and bad, of the last year, I’ve come up with a list of commandments for myself. I made a commandment list over two years ago, so this is something of an update or perhaps a supplement.

  1. If you feel deeply hesitant about a change you are considering, trust yourself. Act only when certain. Any other time will be too soon.
  2. If you have to ask someone for assurance that they still love and want you, you know that they don’t. Believe yourself and move on.
  3. When someone says they want to leave you, let them. Even if you talk them out of it, you are only delaying the inevitable.
  4. If you wonder how well your heart and mind are, look at your body. If you’re heavy and out of shape, you’re struggling with something. Don’t ignore that.
  5. You know that person or thing you think you can’t live without? The truth is that you can. Every time.
  6. When you are sad, write. When you are angry, write. When you are disappointed, write. When you are happy, write. Write. Write. Write.
  7. At all times, be working towards something you want that scares you a little or even a lot.
  8. Be slow in deciding to enter a new relationship, but don’t count out the possibility of love. Ever.
  9. Don’t think you can’t. Whether the goal is becoming faster, leaner, or more bold, finding love, or whatever, know that you are capable.
  10. Don’t be afraid to ask the people you trust for help. The worst thing that can happen is that you learn who you can’t count on in times of need. The best thing that can happen is that you get the help you want. Either way, you’ve made progress.

I like lists like this one because sometimes I forget what I’ve learned. It’s good to be reminded.

This is my list right now. Do you have a similar list or item you’d be willing to share?

Wednesday List #28 – Words of Travis Meadows

When I was in Nashville, I heard a good bit of live music. One of my favorites was a guy named Travis Meadows. He introduced himself by saying that he found songwriting to be a place where he could bleed safely. I think that about writing generally, so I immediately took a liking to him. All through the night, I found myself jotting down things he said and lines from songs he sang. Here are some that really struck me.

  1. “I’ve been cleaning out a lot of emotional closets lately.”
  2. “I’m almost at the age where there is less future than there is past.”
  3. “I’m going to get strong enough not to be ashamed of my old scars.”
  4. “I don’t know much but I do know love, and that’s enough to one who needs it.”
  5. “I had a really bad day that lasted for six years.”
  6. “Reach like you know it’s waiting there.”
  7. “I’ve found letting go of what you hold dear leaves your heart and arms a little more wide open.”
  8. “I’m not famous for making wise decisions.”
  9. “I want to make peace with old ghosts, not piss them off.”

I loved his music. I’m grateful for his words and the example he set for me as someone who is willing to be honest and vulnerable. I hope I’ll have another opportunity to see him perform again soon. If you get to hear him before I do, know that I’m jealous. And let me know what you thought.

Wednesday List #27 – Favorite Songs

I’ve got music on the brain, possibly because I spent the weekend in Nashville and went out for live music three of the four nights that I was there. This is a list of songs that I think are worth your time:

  1. “A Life That’s Good,” by the Stella sisters of the TV show Nashville: It’s my new theme song. “Sitting here tonight, by the fire light, it reminds me I already have more than I should. I don’t need a thing. No one to know my name. At the end of the day, Lord I pray, I have a life that’s good. Two arms around me, heaven to ground me, and a family that always calls me home. Four wheels to get there, enough love to share and a sweet sweet sweet song. At the end of the day, Lord I pray, I have a life that’s good.”
  2. “Mine Would Be You” by Blake Shelton: This is my new favorite love song. “What’s your all time high? Your good as it gets? Your hands down best ever make-up sex? What’s your guilty pleasure? Your old go to? Well, if you asked me, mine would be you….What’s your double dare? Your go all in? The craziest thing you ever did? Plain as your name in this tattoo. Look on my arm, mine would be you…What’s the greatest chapter in your book? Are there pages where it hurts to look? What’s the one regret you can’t work through? You got it, baby, mine would be you.”
  3. “Hold Me Darlin'” by Vicci Martinez: This is a song I wish I’d written. “Who am I now? Who was I then? What am I doing, baby? Who have I been? What am I worth to you? Is it even much? But I said I’m sorry. Are you giving up? Please don’t give up. Hold me darlin. Hold me please. I am sorry. I am weak. I pray for forgiveness and to be free. So hold me darlin’. Hold me please. It’s a good thing, baby. We just need some space. But I’m getting tired of looking at this empty place. I know you’re keeping busy. Is that why we’re out of touch? But my instinct tells me that you’re giving up. Please don’t give up.”
  4. “Glitter in the Air” by Pink: If I could be a rock star for one day, I’d want to be Pink and sing this song. “Have you ever looked fear in the face and said I just don’t care?…Have you ever hated yourself for staring at the phone your whole life waiting on the ring to prove you’re not alone? Have you ever been touched so gently you had to cry? Have you ever invited a stranger to come inside?…Have you ever held your breath and asked yourself will it ever get better than tonight?”
  5. “Keep it to Yourself” by Kacey Musgraves: If I wrote lyrics, I’d want to write like Kacey Musgraves. “You turn on the light then you turn it back off. You’re sleeping alone. Yeah it ain’t what you thought. It’s the drip of the sink. It’s the click of the clock. And you’re wondering if I’m sleeping. You heard from your friends that I’m doing okay. And you thinking that maybe you made a mistake. And you want me to know but I don’t want to know how you’re feeling. Keep it to yourself if you think that you still love me. Put it on a shelf. If you’re looking for someone, make it someone else.”

I have listened to each of these songs again and again in the last few weeks. They are my current favorites. What are yours?

Wednesday List #26 – Things That Are Growing

I’m feeling positive as I approach my personal new year, so today’s list has an upbeat undertone to it. So much is growing in my life. Here are some things that I consider to be particularly fun.

  1. My Tree: At the finish line in Portland this weekend, I received a medal, a t-shirt, a charm, a coin and a tree. Yes, a tree. The tree came in a little paper cup like you would see by an office cooler. The tree is most certainly the most unusual finish line gift I have ever received, but I was in Portland, so perhaps I should not have been surprised. I flew the tree home with me and planted it. (Okay, Mom planted it, but whatever.) Cute, huh? Here’s to hoping that it stays with me.tree
  2. The Number of Books I Carry: I’ve always loved blank books. I carry a journal with me pretty much everywhere I go because I never know when I’ll find time to write. The same is true for my “to do” book. These are my fundamentals, but I have a number of other books I carry too. I have a book that I use for note-taking during writing workshops, Jeanne Guy gatherings, or lectures at the Seton Cove. I started a quote book a while back. I also have a book that I use for jotting down ideas for stories or articles. I have another book that I keep in my purse for thoughts, books suggestions, or notes about conversations with random people, like those I meet on the plane. I also carry a book for poems and lyric ideas. Finally, I carry what I call my Oregon book. My Oregon book is about more than Oregon. In it, I keep a list of my dreams – not the kind that come when I sleep, but the kind that come when I’m wide awake.Books
  3. The Number of Bags I Carry: I live in the country and work in town, so I often find myself “living” out of my car. This means I carry a number of bags. I carry my purse, my work bag, my lunch bag, my writing bag, my gym bag for getting ready for work after morning workouts, a running bag for my after-work trail runs, and most recently, a tennis bag. At times, I look pretty ridiculous, and my big boss calls me a bag lady, but my system of bags works for me.bags
  4. My List of Trips for 2014: I knew long ago that 2013 would be a year of travel. I thought 2014 would be a year of sitting my happy butt at home and restoring the coffers a bit, but that doesn’t seem to be where my year is headed. I’ve got Africa in December and the first half of January. I have races in St. George in May, Coeur d’Alene in June, and Portland in October.  I’d like to find one more marathon to run, so I can keep up my streak of three marathons in one year. I also want to go to British Columbia in July to see the new Ironman Canada venue. Then I have some personal trips I want to make. I want to see my Exeter roommate Karyn and her family. Jenny and I want to hit Chicago (after years of talking about it) for a Cubs game. I want to visit Gretchen in Washington in the summer so that she can take me to Mount Ranier. I want to visit Ann in New England so we can run a race together. I want to get back to DC since I missed my trip last year, so I can see Meghan and Anthony. I’d also like to plan a trip with my cousins Tina and Matt because the three of us are really liking one another in our old ages. And that’s what I know for now. So much for a planted 2014!
  5. My Hopefulness: I’m feeling really good about where I’m headed. Work is going well. My training is going well. I’m enjoying my old friends and making new ones. I’m writing more. And, perhaps most importantly, I’m getting excited about what a few people have separately described to me as the kindness that comes with turning 40. In the last few weeks, three different people have told me that turning 40 made them go easier on themselves. They became more accepting of who they are, less concerned about what other people think, and more forgiving of themselves when they either don’t want to do something or don’t do something exactly right. I’m ready, I think, to settle into myself more and do a little less “shoulding” on myself. Call me crazy, but I’m starting to feel pretty good about things, including turning 40.

It’s fun to think about the little joys – the ways things are happening in life that feel healthy and right. It’s also fun to think and write about them with a cute little critter staring at me from behind the computer screen, like this:Butter

That cute little critter is my Butter. My love for my Butter is also growing every day, but that’s a whole different story.

Happy Wednesday, y’all.

More Favorite Things.

Just over two years ago, I did a list of my favorite things that was inspired by my friend Kate. (I can’t believe it was over two years ago. I remember the exercise so clearly. Where does the time go?) A lot has happened in the past two years. In some ways, life is totally different. In others, it’s exactly the same.

When I look back at the old list, I agree still with everything I said. But I see things that are missing from it, so I thought I’d give the list another try now. Here is the 2013 version:

Lounging with Bread and Butter, running with my friends, cleaning up after a hard workout, writing for this blog, hearing from friends that they read my blog, making lists, checking things off my lists, getting emails from my niece, making smoothies, visits to my chiropractor, reading anything by Marion Winik or David Sedaris, reading The New Yorker on Sundays, planning trips, my time in Portland, attending readings at Book People, swimming at Deep Eddy and going to Magnolia Cafe afterwards, meeting my friends’ kids, making new friends, listening to anything by Kacey Musgraves, watching The Voice, seeing Bruce Robison in concert, the Ironman finish line, reading essays and books my friends have written, attending Jeanne Guy gatherings, workshops with Christina Baldwin, Whidbey Island, writing in my journal, doing laundry, sitting on my couch after cleaning my house, the smell of baked brownies in my kitchen, Courage to Change (the Al-Anon book), watching Nashville, the bracelet Jeanne gave me, my Ironman ring, time on the Boettger farm, my memories of Hood to Coast, everything about my Grand Canyon trip, Toastmasters, seeing Bread walk around the house with a stuffed animal in his mouth, Donald Miller’s blog, flowers (especially sunflowers), the quote book I’ve been keeping

I love how easily this list came. It’s a good exercise, I think, to remind myself of all the things around me and in my life that I enjoy. There are so many of them. I’m lucky.

I bet you are too. If you want to make a list and share it with me, I’d love to hear about your favorite things.

Wednesday List #25 – Affirmations of Late

I’ve had a really nice few weeks. I’ve managed to shift my thinkingtrain well, explore the city, and rediscover things I used to enjoy. I’ve also read lots and reconnected with people I adore. There are seasons when my sensations feel dulled, but this isn’t one of them. I feel a heightened awareness of things going on around me – of things that help and hurt me in different ways. I want to talk about some of the really good stuff.

  1. A bit ago, I was looking for a law firm in the Pacific Northwest to help on a potential matter. One of the names I got from friends in the area was for a firm that has an Austin office, so I emailed the attorneys I work with and asked if they knew the firm. One of the lawyers who relies pretty heavily on me immediately asked me, “Are you leaving us?” When I said no and explained the situation, he breathed what appeared to be a sigh of relief. It was nice to see that I’m wanted where I work. I need that assurance sometimes.
  2. Last week, I caught up with two dear friends. One of them I spoke with over the phone. The other I enjoyed over lunch. In both cases, I told them about things that have been going on with me that I hadn’t discussed with either of them, though I consider them both to be dear friends. In both cases, they accepted the information and acknowledged that I don’t say much at times, but  they didn’t give me grief for having been guarded, as I can sometimes be. It was nice to be received so fully and, by the warm reception I received from both of them, encouraged to be more open in the future. I don’t always expect people to be understanding, but I’m learning that the good friends will be every time.
  3. Yesterday, I had lunch with a woman who used to be my swim coach and has helped me a number of times with nutrition questions I’ve had. We have Erin in common, and in talking about Erin, I suggested we connect, and she actually followed up. We had a great lunch. I believe that we will have a continuing friendship. It was nice to have someone mean what they say and follow through on connecting. So often, people don’t.
  4. Last night, I went on a trail run at Wild Basin Preserve with a trail running group. I’ve run with this group before and decided to get back into it for the fall because I’ve been thinking about taking on a longer distance, like a 50 miler or a 50K, sometime within the next year. Out of the blue, one of the coaches who has known me for a while through triathlon told me that she thought I’d be good at trail running because it takes patience and steadiness. It was nice that she took the time to say those things. It was also nice to hear that my patience and steadiness would serve me well in trail running. Sometimes people get annoyed that I don’t quickly pull the trigger on stuff. It’s just not who I am, so I appreciate hearing that how I am can be helpful at times too.
  5. At Toastmasters today, I got a table topics question that reminded me about my Grand Canyon experience last year. It was an incredible few days in celebration of my friend Jenny’s birthday. After the trip, Jenny made a photo book of our adventure and gave a copy to each of us. That book sits on my coffee table and is one of the last things I see every time I leave the house. It’s nice to have that very physical reminder of both the experience and the friendship that drove it. I’ve made books for others in the past, but Jenny was the first to make a book like that for me. What a gift.

I want to be someone who believes in who I am and in the goodness of what I have to offer and who receives others in the same way. Right now, I feel surrounded by people who are helping me become the person I want to be. I’m so grateful for each presence in my life. I hope they all know how much they’ve done for me in what may appear to them to be the smallest of ways.

Wednesday List #24 – Rediscovering Austin Continued

My weekend of rediscovering Austin really got me thinking about things to do in Austin. It’s a great town, and I know I haven’t taken advantage of all that it has to offer. I’ve been forming a list of things I’d like to experience in the near future. Here’s what I’ve come up with so far:

  1. Do a trail run at Pedernales Falls State Park, which I’m scheduled to do on Saturday with Trailhead Running!
  2. Hike or run through McKinney Falls State Park.
  3. Visit the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center and have lunch in their cafe.
  4. Spend a Thursday night (or two or three) at the Broken Spoke.
  5. Visit the Dripping Springs Public Library and get a library card.
  6. Visit the Blanton Museum of Art.
  7. Visit the Harry Ransom Center.
  8. Visit Donn’s Depot on a Monday night. (Mac? Join me?)
  9. Watch some improv at New Movement or the Hideout or both.
  10. Try a session at the Hot Lava Obstacle Course.  (Valerie, this one is all you.)
  11. Try stand up paddle-boarding on Lady Bird Lake.
  12. Go back to Uchiko. (Erin and Joe, I’m counting on you to do this with me when Erin visits!)
  13. Go to a show at the One World Theatre.
  14. Join Ride Like a Girl for some mountain biking. (The one and only time I’ve tried mountain biking about ten years ago, I looked terribly battered afterwards but had a great time. I need to get my bike tuned up.)
  15. Visit Travaasa, a cool-looking spa, preferably on a weekday as a reprieve from the regular work week.
  16. Participate in the activity that I’m still code-naming “Pedicures With Poppe.”

These are ideas. I’m always game for more. Feel free to pass along your suggestions!