Small Delicate Moments

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A Happy Man by Thomas Rhett

I am constantly reminded of how precious life is and how important my perspective is on life.  I will admit that there has been a chunk of my life that I have flown through without reminding myself to keep things in perspective and to take those extra moments to not rush through life.

It is so easy to let the negative out weigh the positive and to pass over small delicate moments for the big ones.  All those big moments rush through and often, are over dramatized… and in seconds, they are gone.  I want to slow down my moments and pay attention to what is right in front of me.  The moments to follow will come in time, so why rush them?? Why rush what will happen anyway?

My perspective is often to get through the tasks of today, tomorrow, and the next day systematically and to always complete them even if at the cost of one of those moments that I should have relished in. Slowly, I am changing and realizing how important spontaneity is to me and how much I love being surprised by life.

A few days ago, in the middle of those daily chores of mowing the lawn, walking the dog, cleaning the car, and spreading bark dust, I stopped.  I felt this wave wash in as my kids busily worked around me in the hot sun robotically, neither of them smiling.  It took me just a minute to see they were painfully passing through a moment that could have a touch of spontaneity in it.  I wanted to change their perspective and I wanted to see them smile in that moment. I went around the back side of the house and filled a few bucket of water and I went in for the hose.  I uncoiled a good 10 feet and started spraying high above and watched the water rain down on them. I taunted them with the full buckets.  They could have them if they could get to them.

In those insignificant moments of daily chores, I changed their perspective. Thirty minutes of spontaneous joy that lifted all of our spirits was enough to change the monotony of the ritualistic moments we were in.

As my kids get older, so do I and I can’t stop that but I can take more time to pay attention. Life throws all sorts curve balls our way and it is up to us to be able to adapt how we react to them.  I am a firm believer that things happen for a reason. In the past, I have wasted time trying to figure out why and what it all means when I could have just soaked it all in like a sponge instead of burdening my mind and moments with trying to figure it out.  As for today and all the days in front of me, I am going to work on staying out of my head and relishing in the moments that really matter.

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Sedona, AZ.

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We spent a week in Sedona in a single wide trailer, slightly reminiscent of an old folks trailer park with a rustic Spanish feel.  Inside the gated area was everything we needed.  The walk way through the entirety of the trailer was one person wide. It was a cool place to stay.  Pool, a breakfast cafe on site, and daily art classes.

We were lucky enough to get signed up for an art classes at a nominal fee.  We were thrilled to do a water color painting class.  Now, for my sister this was second nature for her.  She is an amazing artist.  Everything that one needs to be, to be called an artist: creative, thoughtful, and paints as if each brush stroke is preplanned for the the next one as if she sees the finished piece of art in her mind.  It is actually a beautiful thing to watch someone be with their art, in the moment… creating it.

I have a friend who is an architect.  I have seen her drawings on paper, on a computer screen, and even more impressive the buildings she has designed. She is an artist also.  She gets that same look my sister has when she paints and the same ease and grace when she speaks about her designs.

The first full day we had, we were both nursing our way down the hill to a little building.  Putting one step in front of the other-a bit too much fun the night before and our inability to stop talking is often difficult on our trips. Conversations go on and on, unconsciously fighting over the last word, the last laugh, and soon 2am rolls around.

We signed in with a skinny man wearing a beret, small build, no hair with a gentle voice and the sheer sight of this man gave us a little chuckle.  I am not sure if it was his demeanor, the way he spoke and looked perfectly like someone in an 80’s comedy about a painter…a complete stereotype on my part, but he was fun to be with for a few hours. The icing on the cake, his name. Art Gecko.  I think that his name was the kicker to our whispering giggles. Still to this day, I wonder if that was his real name??

I had a surprise for the next day but turns out, not actually a surprise because I told her. I am so bad at keeping surprises. We were headed for a Jeep Adventure.  Alone, she and I would go off road with a penciled paper map in a brand new Cherry Red Rubicon.  This still is one of my favorite adventures.

I started driving through town as we made it to the dirt roads and I remember us looking at each other like we were entering a wonderland of excitment.  The red rocks towered around us, brush and tumble weeds wiped the sides of this awesome toy.  A rather expensive toy but it was SO SWEET! We drove for what seemed like a few miles before our surroundings started to change, the roads narrowed, we began to drive over  uneven ground and rock. My stomach seemed to flutter with nerves or it could have just been sore from all the laughter from the day before and laughter that was happening inside that open-topped jeep of joy.

The terrain again changed drastically after a few S curves and the dirt underneath us started to disappear, we were driving and climbing rocks. At this point, I knew it wasn’t sore stomach muscles, it was fluttering nerves. Another jeep approaches as we sweep by each other nearly hitting mirrors, they warn us of what is ahead.  We climbed the large hill and came around the left bend in the path. About 20 feet in front of us, was solid rock on a 45-degree incline and it sharpened off about ½ way up probably to a 75-degree incline.  After some discussion, about putting the Rubicon in 4-wheel drive manually, my sister says, “now once you start driving you have to make it to the top, there is no stopping half way.” The incline didn’t seem that scary from the flat path we addressed in front of us. I decisively decide… I got this.

I start to accelerate slowly and my sister urges more gas, more gas, and I know my facial expression right then, and my laugh turned to a terrified nervous giggle.  My sister is holding on for dear life, leaned forward as if that would help move us forward faster. Her urgency for me to give it more gas grew quickly and my weightless numb foot couldn’t push any harder.

I started babbling, “oh shit, oh shit. I can’t, I can’t.” I use both feet to slam the break into the floor board and in that exact position, at that angle my entire upper body felt as though I couldn’t lean forward even if it was life or death.  My sister yells, “what the hell,” and looks like she is going to punch me in the face. We both looked forward and all we saw was the sky.  In a split second, I decided I was done driving, at that moment, at that angle, and I was done. I absolutely pictured that if I went up any further the Jeep would somehow tip over backwards and flip end over end down the hill.

I needed my sister to drive.  She decided we were not exactly in the right place to do a Chinese fire drill and switch drivers. I slowly let off the brake which allowed us to roll backwards to where the incline began. Emergency brake engaged, we switch places by me sliding in the passenger seat inside the Jeep and her passing in front of the Jeep to get in the driver’s side.

She took over and charged the climb.  Up slowly we went and once that incline hit 75 degrees I swear those tires had suction cups on them to keep us attached to the rock.  We drove a bit further, another climb or two and we finally reached the top. Red rock towered on one side of us. We stopped in the center of the rock.  Our laughter echoed for miles, I’m sure of it.  We replayed my abort mission mid rock climb and couldn’t catch our breath. We explored a bit, tried to take selfies in the middle of nowhere, yelled to see if voices would echo, talked and relished in the hot humid afternoon drinking water and celebrating with trail mix.

Our journey in the Rubicon was not over.  We had to find our way back and together we decided we were loosing too much daylight. We headed forward off the grid where the map just ended and figured we would make it back just fine.

 

 

 

Dream Big!!

At 3am on a Tuesday, I woke up suddenly, got out of bed after tossing and turning for an hour and came to the living room.  I tore sheets of blank paper out of a notebook I had and started writing about the DREAM I had just had.  Simply put, that dream is my first book, “Grandpa’s Orchard.”

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Dreams are important!  Dreams challenge you and force you to face your inner most insecurities. For me, with my writing I never thought I would be sitting where I am today.  I dreamt about being published and have openly spoken about it for years.  I wanted to write not just for me but for my family, my children, to share myself with the world and to leave something behind that could make a difference.

Having this dream for me, or anyone having a dream for themselves is about having faith that what will be, will be.  Taking a blind leap knowing you have prepared the best way possible and once you leap you believe and have faith you will land where you are meant to be.  In my experience, when we (my husband and I) have taken that leap we have always landed in a far better place than we thought we ever would. But for my writing, this was all on me.  Leaping on my own was scary.

In my inner circle it became something I just said and about a year ago I took a hard look at my dreams.  I knew that if I spent my whole life worrying about how to take care of everyone else’s needs and dreams (which I willing did), where would I be in another five years. Who would I be? Would I like that person?  I knew I would regret not taking a leap!! I would have always wondered. These questions alone made me start writing again.

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I knew at the least that if I wrote I would feel more self-accomplishment, more fulfilled in my life, and more alive! And when I first started writing again it was not a children’s book, a children’s book wasn’t even on my list of things to write.

I still remember the day. I sat down in my writing nook, with a pen and paper and started writing from a writing prompt that was given to me years ago in high school.

“Now is Still Unknown.”

I have had numerous people in my life encourage me to keep writing, they would encourage me to write a book, poetry or short stories…just keep writing even if it’s just for you, they would say.  Deep down I always knew I was a writer, it started the day I entered my creative writing class in high school. I was given a chance with pen, paper, and I felt it running through my veins – like someone punching me in the gut.

For years, I wrote about everything in my life.  The intensity of my writing grew when I had great tragedies in life…I still write my way through some of these.  Someday, I want to publish these pieces of me that are raw, secret, locked inside – unknown to many but I want to publish them and share them because my gut tells me my words will help people.  I believe in writing what hurts, for me its about letting go of the past and if there is a lesson learned I can share to help even one person. I feel drawn to do so.  There is great power in this and great healing.

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On Thursday, I opened the mail box and found two very thin boxes inside.  I noticed the return address from “authorscript” which really meant nothing to me but as I pulled back the card board in disbelief my book revealed itself to me.  One hard cover and one soft cover in my hands. It was one of the best feelings I have ever had in my life. I tore out the the front door running across the farm to my husband, partially in tears I tried to speak and thrust the books forward in my hands.  I know I babbled something but I have no idea what.  In that moment, I had done it. I had fulfilled my dream!!!

My dream wasn’t a dream anymore; it was a reality!  This feeling I have had for the last 2 and half days is indescribable! I am relishing in these moments, taking it all in, I don’t want to miss a thing, I want to celebrate and shout from the rooftop. Now more than ever, I am driven to finish the next two books. And I can proudly say, I am an author.

Back to the pen and paper, friends. Dream big!!

 

 

Work Hard, Play Hard

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I wake each morning in the same ritualistic way, coffee, writing, a load of laundry from the dryer to fold, kitchen needs to be tidy, and all the other repeated tasks to follow suit throughout the day.  I repeat this day in and day out. The same beginning and the same ending.  In the last years, I have been putting some of these tasks in my boys’ hands.

I know these tasks need to be done or the house will fall in shambles but can I find a way to enjoy every day tasks? It’s robotic, it’s a mental list I drudge my way through just to get them done because no one else does. They need to be done.  For some sick reason, it would drive me crazy if I just let them go. Am I the only person who feels this way?  Is it something women, mothers, and wives force ourselves to do?  Lump ourselves in this dated way of thinking that all the “home” things must be done by us because it is our duty as women?  Can I change this way of thinking in my boys as they grow?

Now, I am not attempting to know anything that other women don’t but why can’t my 12-year-old boys rinse and put their dishes in the dishwasher, after all they used them?  Why can’t my sons fold laundry or set the dinner table?  And if I have to clean my room and make my bed, why can’t they do the same in their own rooms? Heaven forbid they ever learn how to push a vacuum around. I am behind this stereotype of what men do and what women should do.  I want my children to be an example and accept to this stereotype.  I believe they will be better for it as adults.

For as much as my children, love the outdoors and would spend every waking minute outside if they could, why can’t they learn to help out inside? Last week my boys and I spread 15 yards of bark dust together with shovels and wheel barrels.  They mowed, weeded and used the tractors to help on the farm.  I do not think I am working my kids to hard, they play hard everyday although often watering turns into water fights just like last night. This is joyful to watch.

I would like to say I am guiding them to be the best little men they can be. Also, I convince myself that later on in life whoever they choose to spend their lives with will be grateful they know how to wash dishes, do laundry, and vacuum, along with all the other outside tasks we are required to do to keep our home well kept.  This is preparing them for the real world.  We work to play harder!

My children are loved, happy, and enjoy life. Even after putting in some hard hours of working by the end of it, they are always smiling and laughing when they come in the house. So, how can we possibly be working them too hard? They are full of joy, filled with life, and excited about what comes next.  What else could I ask for?

The Largest Round About Ever

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We travelled many trips before but this one we took by storm because of the heat we were told we would encounter as summer drew closer in Arizona.

I left Portland and she left Seattle joining forces in the Phoenix airport.  Beyond the excitement of just being in this new state together and the enjoyment of embarking on another sister trip we simply couldn’t contain ourselves. We were interrupting each other and laughing as we wandered to the rental car counter and bounced about like young girls with pigtails in a make-believe world.  Neither of us could get a word in edge wise.  We filled out paperwork and as always argued about who would pay.

Our rolling suitcases trailed behind and we were off to find our car.  This car was claimed to be an upgrade but from what I do not know.  Not any bigger than a smurf’s turd, our tan car was squeaky clean and we rolled off to take on this state.

One of the best things about our trips is that we are open to anything that comes our way.  There is always adventure, some fear (for me, anyway), a little ass kickin’ of both of ours, a challenge, laughter, outdoors, staying up late, and the most amazing conversations that makes me relish in the moment…exist in that one second and breathe deep to not miss a thing.  I know everyone has their favorite person, and she is mine!! (Listen up! I am not slighting my husband in anyway, he is “my” person. But it is distinctly different than a sister.)

I am behind the wheel and getting myself situated in a car that has no power what so ever and feels like I am driving a steel tank from the 80’s we circle around the inside loop of the airport.  She is looking at a map, the airport signs to get on the freeway, and digging in her purse for chap stick.  We are still enthralled in conversation and laughter as we continue in the largest round about in the world.

She is searching for music and honestly, I think she noticed first that we were passing the rental car exit from the airport again. Not only did we exit there with our rental car but we had now finished a complete circle, she laughed that glorious, addicting laugh while looking slightly irritated. I had no option to change directions or stop on the side of the road.

If you have been to the Phoenix airport, you know what it is like to leave that airport or at least, now you know how hard it was for me to ‘try” and leave that airport for the first time.  There is no way of knowing if I could leave it again without making the same mistake.

She instructs me to pay attention and get my shit together as she dumps the map because we still haven’t left the terminal gate.  I begin to circle over my first tracks and am determined not to circle the entire airport again.  I wait for my sister to tell me something.

It’s four lanes wide…what the hell lane was I supposed to be in?? We continue to find the situation hilarious and know we are going to be late getting to where we were supposed to be.  She shouts, “exit there” and in our gutless smurf turd, I floor it and shoot across the other three lanes of traffic to an actual exit from the airport.  What the hell?  It took us over 30 minutes to get the hell out of there!

My sister is back on map duty and the city scape starts to disappear, it’s dry, hot, and the freeway stretches behind us and in front of us for miles.  My blood pressure drops now that we have actually left the airport and we start chatting in a calm manner, excitement fills the car, and what are plans are for the week; while miles and miles pass.  Maybe eight songs run through the radio in their entirety and we wonder how close we are to our destination.

We start to actually pay attention to the freeway signs and wonder what town is next.  Map reading, her head is down and I report, “we are 38 miles to Tucson.” She looks at me puzzled, in an empty stare and says, “wait, what? Isn’t that the wrong direction?”  In my stammer, I look at her laughing and make the statement, “I don’t know?” Annoyed, she looks back at me, “what the fuck?”  She looks up from the map and declares, “we have to turn around,” which is hysterical to me and frustrating to her. I figured it was as good a time as any to ask her, how far out of the way did we actually travel??

Again, we exit and turn the car around to get headed in the opposite direction.  If you ask me whether we were headed north, south, east or west…I deny, deny, deny…because, I simple have no sense of direction.  Easier put, I wonder if it is a birth defect I was born with?

As we head the opposite direction from Tucson back the way we came, I question will we actually get to where we are going.  I look to my older sister for guidance and she was less than enthused. She said, “Phoenix, we are supposed to be in Phoenix.”

Writing Prompt

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Can’t wait to explore these words today…at my favorite place to visit with my laptop and that copper bar top.

New Posting Coming…

Ice Cream Issues

Don’t Stop Believin’ by Journey

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We climbed back in our car after losing about 2 hours’ time and drove on.  The chatter picked back up and our singing out loud filled the car. I think, we compete subconsciously at who sounds better but let’s face it, we both equally suck.

We made it the Oregon border, where we stopped for a potty break and decided ice cream was a good idea.  However, I don’t think I mentioned it was nearly 115 degrees outside and the minute I stepped out the door with my vanilla cone it turned to sweet cream.  It was running all over the place.  My hand was white and it continued down my forearm and as I begged for help with the one napkin we were given, she laughed the kind of laugh that was infectious.  We stood there for a few seconds laughing as I struggled to get my shit together. Tears streamed down my face and as we came to the back parking lot we passed a car with the bumper sticker that read “I have issues,” and at the moment, I had some serious issues!  I posed for a photo, we made it back in the car and I sucked down an ice cream cone in a way that most people would think was savage.

The scenery around us had started changing. The Oregon green had changed to browns of many and tumbled weeds were blowing in the distance.  The miles and hours passed until we made it to the Idaho border.  We needed to fill up the car, use the restroom, and gather snacks.  The gas station had two very unfortunate characters behind the counter. I attached myself to my sister’s hip, I knew she would always be the one to do the ass kicking on our trips.  We filled a tiny plastic bag with unhealthy snacks, drinks, paid for gas, and there was no bathroom.

Next door in the middle of nowhere was a questionable casino.  We knew it was our only chance at a real toilet. Although we were hesitant to enter, our bulging bladders drew us in and what was inside those doors was unbelievable.  If one could picture the most redneck version of a casino, the smell of dust, dirty body, sweat and a big room cropped dusted by cigarette smoke – that is what we walked into. It was some place I wish we never entered and knowing what it was like inside, in retrospect, I defiantly would have chosen to squat and pee between two cars rather than use that bathroom. As we left, a little person with a cowboy hat, cut off shirt, sitting on a stool so high it was twice his height, gave us a head nod.

As we exited the building of smells, a ploom of what was trapped inside that building followed us to the car.  It was my turn to drive, we jumped inside and in my uncomfortable state of glee, I left the parking lot over one curb and then another and we were on the road again.

 

Cline Falls Road

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She arrived later than she thought.  We unpacked her car and repacked into my car.  The tank was full and we were off on the first leg of our trip from Independence to Redmond.  Not really considered a “leg” of the trip because we had 17 hours ahead of us to Utah.

She had just driven over four hours to my place, drained the bladder and jumped back in for almost another three hours. As soon as we were both trapped inside, the chatter started and we carried it all the way to Sisters.  We started at least 15 stories and only finished six of them but we always made it back around to one that we didn’t finish, sooner or later we always finished them but it might be on the fourth day we were together.  Today, we still have unfinished stories.

It was not our first trip but it always felt like the first time.  The excitement…for me was like a kid on Christmas morning.  As an adult travelling was with my sister was like Christmas morning.  Our trips were this way.  The entire trip wrapped like a huge gift under the tree and we never really knew what was inside, every step or mile of the way it was thrilling like tearing open the gift you wanted all year long.

We talked and talked, she made sure to toss in a bag of peanut butter chocolate cups and we shared them as the odometer numbers increased and emptied a Nalgene bottle of water.  Hours passed and carried us to our resting place. We made our way to Cline Falls Road, she turned left, left again, and as the curves in the road wrapped us closer to our destination. We realized how late it was.

We were both sleepy, the windows opened to keep us awake, and our long hair tossed around us. I told her to slow her speed and in the darkness police lights flashed around the car.  As she struggled to find a place to pull over in the central desert, she drove on…further than my instincts would have taken me.  As I insisted her pull over, we came to our left hand turn. She turns and pulls over to the right curb barely out of the entrance and as we giggle and are slightly nervous about what we did wrong.

She insisted she wasn’t going too fast…the officer walked to the left side of the car and just as he asks for her license and tells her she was speeding; I start screaming at the top of my lungs as a sprinkler hoses me down from the top of my head to the middle of the chest.  It passes by once, screaming, it passes and again as my sister tries to silence me and politely insists I roll the window up. The officer looks down at me and shines his flashlight in my eyes without a smile, I babble about the sprinkler.  He was not entertained as I struggled in the front seat to not continue laughing and as well as I know my sister…she would break at any time, I kept it together until she got her ticket.

We continued on to our resting place laughing so hard we couldn’t catch us breathe until we drifted to sleep. The next morning, we woke before 6am and we still laughing.

 

His Hands

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I watched his large hands under the facet sink every day when he came home from work.  Suds bubbled as he rubbed his hands together under the water and greeted us with a hello.  His hands were wet and reached for the dishtowel on the orange counter top.  Both wrapped around me in a circle when hugging me.

These hands gripped an ax during the summer as our family chopped wood to make money for school clothes. They threw wood into the bed of the pickup we drove. Gripping the chainsaw handle and showing us the way to work and work hard.  Our small hands stacked and organized the wood in rows in the bed and just high enough so he could see out the back window. His hands were often calloused and cracked in the summer but those same hands could be soft and gentle.

When I was sick, his right hand cradled a spoon and feed me nourishment and medicine, held a thermometer in my mouth and wiped my tears. His other hand would rub my forehead and push my hair out of my face. Those hands were comfort for me for many years, he cradled my hand in his as I learned to walk, and as an infant, I am certain my tiny fist was wrapped around one of his fingers.

All through childhood I watched those hands teach us right from wrong and sometimes showed us stern punishment if we needed discipline. As they could be tough, calloused, rough, and thick skinned they could also be the opposite. His hands were stable, strong, gentle, and always secure in their love for his children.

He could fix any car engine with those hands and stroke piano keys and guitar strings in perfect harmony in the same day. Those hands made music. Music that was so amazingly beautiful I will hear it for the rest of my life. I will always be able to see his fingers on those keys and on those strings; in only his hands purity dripped from those fingers.

The best thing about his hands were the way they looked in my mom’s hands. Her hands were small and delicate, soft and loving.  He took care of her hands and cradled her heart with them.  They fit together like puzzle pieces and the hours they were together far outweighed the time they were apart. I will always remember their hands together and the way it felt for one of his hands to hold mine and the other to be held by my mother.