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 #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.

Off in the Wilderness.

I’m having one of those days when I don’t have time to write, but I need the clarity that writing often gives me.

I’m leaving town this weekend. I’m going to Connecticut to see my high school doubles partner, with whom I reconnected ever so briefly at our 20-year reunion last year, and to see another friend from my days of clerking at a big law firm. I haven’t spent real time with either of them in years and am relishing the thought of shared company and catching up on who they are and how they’ve been.

In the meantime, I’m earning my days away. I suddenly have lots of work that needs to get done before I leave town. It’s all good stuff, and it’s satisfying to knock things off the list, but it’s stressful to also be adding things to it. I’m trying to figure out if I can get it all done and stick to the commitments I’ve made (dinner, a Toastmasters contest, and a writing session) these next few nights. I think I can. I’ve gotten so selective about giving up my evenings, that when I am booked, it’s lately been stuff I really want to do. This week is no exception.

I’m a little heavy today though. I think what’s got me down is that I don’t know if I’m capable of getting what I think I want. And I don’t know if I want the right things.

I want to share life with someone. But I don’t know if I can. It takes so much effort to find someone and to get to a point where I think I want to know more. Then it’s so much effort in getting to know more. And there are no guarantees. Months or years into something, it can fall apart. And then what? Do you start over? Or do you just accept that maybe this life – my life – is not meant to be shared in that way?

I had dinner last night with one of my dearest friends from law school. She is married, but she’s always found time to spend with me, either over a run or dinner or sometimes both. Last night, we cooked up some plans for a race, a spa day, and something else that I’m calling “Pedicures with Poppe” though it’s anything but. (I’m still simmering on the idea and am not ready to reveal it.) I laughed so much during dinner. It was delightful, and I didn’t feel like anything was lacking as we shared a meal and planned some future shenanigans.

Maybe my life is not about one person. Maybe it’s about lots of people. I have some of the most amazing friends. Like this woman, these guys, this girl, these folks, this girlthese ladies, and this crowd. Life with them is rich.

Maybe I’ve got my heart set on the wrong things. If Maria is right and life really is wise, then maybe I need to crave less and just be more. Be here. Be in Connecticut. Be on Whidbey Island. Be in Africa. These are all good places to be. Can I do that? Should I do that?

I’m not sure. On the one hand, it feels like giving up, and I don’t give up easily. On the other hand, it feels like embracing who I am, which I don’t do terribly easily either. But as I’ve gotten older, I do like myself more and more. I no longer take on the hobbies and interests of the people I date. I have my own, and I love them. I no longer rush to be a part of someone else’s life. I take my time in figuring out if they have a place in mine. I like nearly 40-year-old me far more than I ever liked 25-year-old me.

I’ve never been one of those girls who was always in a relationship. I’ve never gone from one right to another. My relationships have never been about needing/wanting someone. They’ve always been about needing/wanting that person in particular. I think of the line from Say Anything when Diane is wanting to get back together with Lloyd and he says, “Are you here because you need someone? Or you need me?” He pauses and then says, “Forget it. I don’t care.”  I do care. I care very much.

Maybe we aren’t all wired for relationships. Maybe the person who is supposed to care about me – and love me fully – is me.

If that’s true, it makes me a little sad. It also takes the pressure off. I trust me. I know I’m good at loving others and building them up and helping them believe there’s nothing they can’t do. Maybe I’m the one who is supposed to do those things for myself.

I just don’t know.

A Short Story.

Last week, on my way out to Portland for Hood to Coast, I ordered a drink on the plane. It wasn’t an adult beverage because I don’t really drink many of those. Instead, it was a bottle of Vitamin Water. (Southwest lets you use their drink coupons for more than just adult beverages.) While I was living in Portland last summer, I developed a bit of an attachment to Vitamin Water. I purchased a bottle every time I went grocery shopping at the neighborhood Fred Meyer and enjoyed it on the walk home. I liked that little routine, so flying out to Portland for the first time since last October, a bottle of Vitamin Water felt right.

This is the bottle they gave me.

photo (1)

It’s a small bottle. You can gauge the size with respect to my hand. And on the white part of the label, there’s some print that you shouldn’t miss. It says:

so, yeah. this bottle is shorter than normal, but shorter is better. want proof? what’s better, a short or long phone call with your parents? a short or long download time? and who doesn’t want to be on a short list? that’s right, short is killing it right now.

I laughed out loud and showed the bottle to my friend Catherine, who was sitting across the aisle from me. I then packed the empty bottle safely into my backpack and carried it to and from Portland with me so that it can reside on my kitchen window sill for as long as it makes me smile.

No, things aren’t perfect in my world, but I’m feeling good, working a lot, traveling a lot, trying new things, and surrounding myself with incredible people – lots and lots of incredible people. With each passing day, I’m becoming more certain that I will find my way.

My short self has to agree that, in lots of ways, short is killing it right now.

Wednesday List #22 – Words I Love

I’ve been noticing quotes lately. I used to be quite observant. In college and even law school, I would take notes on all kinds of things that struck me. As an adult and a working person, I’ve spent lots of time looking down – at my screen, at a book, at the ground beneath me – and less time looking around. Even so, words have found me. Here are some that have struck me lately:

  1. I wanted only to try to live in accord with the promptings which came from my true self. Why was that so very difficult? – Hermann Hesse’s Demian
  2. “Stay” is a charming word in a friend’s vocabulary. – Amos Bronson Alcott’s Concord Days
  3. Be slow to fall into friendships; but when thou art in, continue firm and constant. – Socrates
  4. You can spend minutes, hours, days, weeks, or even months over-analyzing a situation; trying to put the pieces together, justifying what could’ve, would’ve happened… or you can just leave the pieces on the floor and move the f*ck on. – Tupac
  5. Let life happen to you. Believe me: life is in the right, always. – Rainer Maria Rilke
  6. Got the sunshine on my shoulders. Got a fist full of four leaf clovers. Yeah my cup runneth over. My sky is blue. Been kissed by Lady Luck. The stars are all lined up. Every arrow that I aim is true. But I miss you.- Kasey Musgraves song “I Miss You”
  7. Lots of people want to ride with you in the limo, but what you want is someone who will take the bus with you when the limo breaks down. – Oprah Winfrey
  8. I hope you’re the end of my story. I hope you’re as far as it goes. I hope you’re the last word I ever utter. It’s never your time to go. – Pistol Annies song “I Hope You’re the End of My Story”

I hope something in these words spoke to something in you.

The Very Thing You Crave.

I spent some time today listening to a recording about an Arbonne nutrition boot camp. One statement in the recording really made me think.  The woman speaking said, “The very thing you crave is likely what’s killing you.” She was talking about food – gluten or carbs or sugar – but isn’t that true more generally?

It got me thinking about what I crave, not in terms of food, but in life. For a couple of years now, I’ve paid close attention to the Enneagram line of thought. In that system, I’m a Peacemaker.  According to the book I read, a Peacemaker’s basic fear is loss and separation, and a Peacemaker’s basic desire is inner stability and peace of mind. I think those things are absolutely true about me.

I put a great deal of effort towards avoiding loss and separation. For much of the last few years, I’ve been torn between Austin and Portland. My life was in Austin, but my heart was in Portland. I tried living between the two. When I was in Austin, I felt far from Portland and all that it offered. When I was in Portland, I felt far from Austin and all that it offered. I had a hard time separating entirely from one to embrace fully the other, and my heart hurt most of the time because I was angry that the separation was required of me to make either work. Couldn’t I have both lives? Shouldn’t that have been possible? In the end, my efforts to keep a foot, and effectively the peace, in both places got me nowhere.

I’m not in Portland. The life I wanted there doesn’t await me anymore. I’m not in Austin. The life I’ve built here doesn’t feel like me anymore. Both lives are gone.

I have moments when I feel overwhelmed by the loss of both lives. But as I spent time last weekend with people from my childhood, it occurred to me that, in this place of complete uncertainty, every opportunity stands before me. I’ve always said that I wished I could go back to my youth and do things over again. I’m almost forty, so I can’t go back to my youth exactly, but I’m effectively in a place of asking myself the same questions I was asking in college.

Who am I? What do I want to do? Where do I want to live? What kind of person do I want to spend my life with?

The kid I was let others influence those answers. The adult that kid became allowed her deepest cravings to immobilize and slowly kill her. In this place of starting over, what will the person I am now do? I don’t know yet. My next steps aren’t clear, but I’m smarter, stronger and more adventurous than I have been. So I think it’s gonna be good.

A Borrow From Elizabeth.

My friend Elizabeth posts quotes on Fridays. This one from last week spoke to me.

buddha quoteEach is these three things poses its own challenges. Each one is tested at different times. Right now, I feel like I’m being tested in all three. I have my moments of failure, but generally speaking, I think I’m doing pretty well.