Shadow

By Joshua Radin

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Castle like rocks stretch the lining of the west side of the water

casting a shadow across the left side of the canyon

the shadow slowly climbs to the top of the ridge

a warm breeze blows the hair across my face

trees scattered about the canyon walls

and I can count the ones that circle me

 

the stair steps of the rock that cascade around us

now shelters the water from sun

the gray flicker of water rocking the boat

back and forth

back and forth

Darkness cannot come fast enough

 

Trees show off their reflection to left

To the right

I rest in the middle of this beauty

 

Wet hair dripping lake water down my back

observing…

being in this moment

 

 

 

 

My Children

My children are pretty wonderful! I know I am biased but when they go to their grandparents for a night or two and they jump out of the car upon their return and run to me arms wide open. I know I have done something right.  My children are loved deeply and they themselves know how to love. They run to their dad in the same way.  My kids come running full speed ahead and wrap their arms around me and squeeze like it could be our last embrace. Every single hug I get from them is this way.

As you have probably figured by my writing, I have twin boys who are twelve and my husband is the eldest of 3 brothers.  The gene pool is heavily weighted on my husband’s side…its something crazy like 36 grandchildren and all but one is a girl!!  Now, to me that’s a pretty loaded pool of testosterone.

When I got pregnant I remember thinking I wanted a girl but down to my core I knew I was having boys.  At first, babies were babies to me-a lot of work and they must be taken care of or literally they wouldn’t survive.  As months and years pass now, I have two pre-teen boys  that are somewhat independent, love to succeed and want to succeed, desperately want their parents to be proud of them as we both are. And I find myself loosening the reigns a bit, I don’t want to do this because they will always be my babies but they aren’t babies any more.

Each of my son’s have strengths and weakness and their uniqueness to each other and others their age is something for them to be proud of.  I have heard for years that my child is different in this way or that and I often cringe at these words where my fists unconsciously squeeze together.  See, the word different has a negative notion to it and it defiantly does to my son.  So, when someone calls him different I turn into momma bear and in my head their face hits my fist. Now, I am a rational person and do have my best moments when protecting my children’s right in school.  But when they are violated I come running in like a bull in a china shop.  I am proud of the advocate I am for my children.  I would help anyone out their if they struggled in this area.

All of us are unique, special, gifted and some things come easier for others but what someone else struggles with you might succeed at.  It is my job to show and teach my children to step in and help others with regard to this.

It is a constant battle for me to remind my sons that I want them to have a strong work ethic, a heart of gold, kindness, how to be gentlemen, and it is ok to fail as long as you get up and go after it even harder than the time before!! I want both of my sons to understand that the reward takes work, back breaking work and you will reap great reward from hard work.  There is a time for each of us to win and each of us to fall short.  I want them to know graciousness and courage as they move to their teenage years!

Turning Over a New Leaf

There are times when situations are put in our path and it is up to you to pay attention to them or not.  As individuals we have the opportunity to make choices daily.  We decide whether to go left or right, forward or backwards, or pick door one or door two.  It’s as simple as saying yes or no but it is never that simple, is it? I think most people tend to over think things and sometimes I am one of these people. However, I am trying something different lately.

I think many people live in the realm of actions cause reactions and choices have consequences so we get so wrapped up in what if this or what if that… that we don’t ever just go with living in the moment.  Living in the moment comes more naturally to some people and not so much to others.

I crave more spontaneity in life but often I find myself trying to make a plan or a list of tasks to accomplish things.  I am a planner by nature but am realizing lately that I don’t always need a plan. I would like to think I am always prepared but that doesn’t really jive with living in the moment.  Why is this?  Does life really require a schedule?  In my mind, I am trained to create this schedule but when it comes to relishing in the moments, life won’t end without a schedule.  It would in fact bring more spontaneity into my life and this is what I crave.  I want to try new things and test my own limits.  So, I am going to stick to this way of thinking for awhile and see what happens.

Last week my sister called and asked me if I had plans for this weekend.  Normally, we are both booked weeks in advance.  But not this weekend. Her spontaneous suggestion of getting away to McMenamins for a few nights and getting a few more stamps in our passports was a brilliant idea. So, I decided to jump at the chance and booked our room that day.  I always need sister time, heck, I would live next door to her if I could.  She is one of my favorite people in this whole world.  The laughter, honesty, and trust we have is limitless.

This new leaf I have turned over is to live in the moment and get out of my head, so to speak. Spend less time worrying and more time living.  More time with experiences and less time planning them. I will keep you posted on this works out for me.

How do you look at life?

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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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.

This  

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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!!

 

 

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.

The Great Wall

My Sister by Reba

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She and I weren’t always close.  We fought all the time.  Our room was divided down the middle with masking tape.  I was the tag-along to her, always sneaking her clothes and shoes after she left for school, borrowing her eye shadow, stealing a quick spritz of her Colors perfume.  I was the typical envious younger sister who wanted so much to be like her big sister.

Sharing a room was difficult for her more than me. The masking tape served as a barrier like the Great Wall, for if anything of mine crossed that line it was thrown in frustration on top of my bed or hurled into my closet. This was a frequent occurrence in our red, black, and white themed room. A table separated our twin beds with a boom box that we turned on every night at bedtime, the music ran all night, so low that we strained to hear it and drifted to sleep. My sister used to hum and sometimes whisper the lyrics. I loved sharing a room with her. Although there was always a point of contention in our room usually because of messy me, I think that I loved being on her heels because it was attention she was forced to give me because I was annoying the hell out of her.

I wanted to be where she was, I wanted to be like her, and I longed to be included in her daily life.  Even if that meant being tied up knee socks and tights by her at the ankles, knees, wrists and arms while she and a friend laughed at me as I struggled to move or fell on my face when I did actually get to my feet. I do remember feeling upset but I don’t remember if I actually cried. I suppose I deserved the friendly torture after all the little sister pestering she had to put up with. It’s funny how now, when I write about it, I remember it fondly.

She had the perfect hair, the prettiest dresses when she went to school dances, she had the coolest clothes and this amazing leather jacket that I took from her closet numerous times she wasn’t wearing it, I would pack it in my backpack and put it on when I got to school then pack it home and quickly hang it back in her closet.

She was beautiful, had everything I didn’t because she was older, and she did everything first. She was the best role model a little sister could have. What an impression our shared room has left on my heart and mind. This box shaped space she shared first selflessly with me and it became so much more than just a room we shared that I annoyed her in daily.  This room where she and I shared our childhood gave me great understanding of how simple acts of love, torture, companionship, frustration, and laughter would propel our relationship to break down the Great Wall. I love my sister for everything that she is, strives to be, and the relationship we have is like none other.

I am often told by people that they are so envious of the relationship I have with my sister, the way I talk about her as if I see her everyday, sharing simple details as if we lived next door to each other. We lift one another up every day, every step, one foot in front of the other as the time passes between our visits.

Quiet Introspection

My Wish by Rascal Flatts

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Waking my children in the morning is my favorite part of my day. Maybe it’s because I can watch them in stillness like I used when they where infants.  They once shared a crib, swaddled together. Now they have their own rooms, full size beds, and their own interests cover the walls in photographs and décor, and shows in what they choose to wear everyday. In the quietness before I touch them to wake, I smile knowing they will always be the best thing I did this life.

One sleeps in the fetal position completely covered by one blanket and hates having a top sheet on his bed. He has wires, batteries, motors, duck tape, and nuts and bolts scattered about his night stand.  The night stand mirrors how organized he is in his bedroom, with his belongings, his locker at school, and his clear interested in engineering. His room is a beautiful mess.

The other rests in a queen bed, covered in Seattle Seahawks sheets, blankets, wearing matching pj’s, 5 pillows, and a light dusting of décor around the room for anything that has to do with cars, engines, and the Dodge Helcat. His arms and legs are spread reaching for the sides of the bed. I see his face and I see me. On his night stand there is a glass of water, a book, IPad, and a lamp his great grandfather made from an antique candlestick.

I still remember the crib. I remember what they wore home from the hospital and how it felt watch them sleep at night back then. They used to wake me.

Maybe this chance I am gifted with every morning is because of the opportunity for introspection before I take hold of another day just to help them get closer to who they will become.