Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Christmas songs

Singing Christmas music is one of the biggest joys of my life at this time of the year.  Thank you to my music teachers, my Sunday school teachers, my mom who played the radio, and eventually the Madrigal singers that I've listened to for giving me the lyrics to a HUGE range of music types.  Now I listen to Pandora at the appropriate time of the year, which will always begin the day AFTER Thanksgiving- thank you very much. I really don't appreciate the season jumping that goes on.

I'd been enjoying my singing (by myself, as I am not positive that this voice should be heard- I don't think I suck at it, but I am not sure it is the best at all) and then the virus from hell hit, and within 3 days I had lost my voice for the most part, and hence there is no singing.  Unless I want to sing the bass parts, which does not fit into the whole scene that plays in my head, believe me.  You guys, this has been one nasty virus.  People don't want to have conversations with me (I think the sound of my voice makes their throat hurt) and if they do they ask if I am feeling any better at all, and if maybe I shouldn't go to the doctor.  Which are totally legit questions, actually.  The answer for all of us is, yes, today I feel better.  The quality of this cough has finally changed and now it is just going to be annoying.  Taking a half day off yesterday was the best thing I could have done for myself.  Le sigh.

Christmas music though, has it's issues.  First of all, some of it is freaking HARD to play on the piano.  Now that was a random  wild veering off topic, I know, but I do like to work through the Christmas music books that are sitting atop my piano right now.  2/3 of my children used to be able to play most of that music pretty well.  I can plink through some of it well, and some of it I want to be able to play so so bad, but NO.  AND there is no way I can play and sing at the same time, as the very unChristmas like words that come out of my mouth sometimes do not lend themselves to Christmas caroling.  So no voice = no sullying of lovely seasonal lyrics with nastiness.  :)

But the real problem I have with Christmas music is it's ability to make me feel sad.  First of all, not the religious Christmas music.  That has so much ingrained history in my upbringing, that all that does is make me want to sing, thanks to numerous Christmas programs at school and church.   Not the fun stuff like Frosty the Snowman and the 12 Days of Christmas, which again just make me want to sing.  No I am referring to other music that plays on Pandora or the radio, the kind that are sort of older sounding, the ones the are songs of loss or longing or other notes of longing that are hard to identify.  It sort of drives me insane.  A perfectly innocuous song begins and it's sung by someone in that nice sort of jazzy style, and then suddenly I am feeling sad and lonely and like I am missing something or someone.  It makes me want to crawl under a blanket with a glass of Baileys and hide.  

Christmas is a real emotional trigger for many of us.  I have worked through a lot of my Christmas issues, but they do lie a bit dormant and cause me issues sometimes. I get caught in feelings of not being good enough, not feeling loved enough.  This season that has  been heralded as a time of great joy and love and jolliness and all should be the best time of all.  Well, I tell you, though I do enjoy Christmas quite a bit, I really like Thanksgiving better- all that's expected of you is food and family.  There is no pressure to be perfect: to have the perfect presents, make your house look festive, keep changing the f***ing  Christmas lights all over the house as they go out, send letters in cards,  send things to the best people ever and feel that your gifts are woefully inadequate.  Then there is the immediate family and considering if you have treated them evenly, if they will be happy, is there anything else I can do to try and make anyone else's life a little bit easier....  I know we all go through this to an extent. No - give me Thanksgiving and all people want is the house to smell like turkey and dinner rolls.  Low pressure and high possibility of total satisfaction.  Christmas seems amazing on the outside, but has that deeply sad undercurrent that crops up occasionally.   I think childhood and the people that are gone from your life are the things that drive these feelings, but I do not want to dwell on it.  I'm done with that.

So, while I have been whining about feeling occasionally blue (thanks Elvis for singing Blue Christmas, you jerk) I've been holding one little thing in reserve here to tell you.  I do not dislike Christmas at all- there are so many fun parts to it, and of course presents.  Sorry  but I like to give and receive.  :)  It is part of my charm- HAHA!!  Anyway, I hear from people once a year who are very special to me.  I am so grateful for these Christmas cards and letters.  I got a letter this year from one of my college housemates, and it blew me out of the water.  This letter basically told me how special I was to her as we were going through our college years together and she saw me in ways I certainly did not see myself.  She saw me as a confident person at a time when I felt far from it, she saw me as a good dancer, which I never imagined myself to be, she told me how she felt about living with me at a time when she was having a very hard time with life.  I wish I would have known.  I loved being with her, but she had some deeply painful times she was going through and it was hard to know what she was thinking.  This letter blew me out of the water.  I never imagined myself to be that important to her, but boy was I apparently wrong. 

I think this year the thing I will do as I write out a few late Christmas cards is remember that the gift of myself is always the best gift.  The gift of listening, the gift of time, the gift of a smile that is just for one of the special people in your life is the best of all.  KNOWING that they are special to you just may be the best gift you could give or get the entire year.  Sometimes you just need to tell them outright and obviously how important they are to you, because they seriously might not know.  I did not know.  And I do now.  And I am going to pick up this gift and carry it with me as I go.

Enjoy these next few days - we all now the anticipation of an event is just as important as the actual one.  And while you are out there, find some joy and spread it around.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Life's little surprises

Until the minute I wrote that title I was going to write a general little random post, because it is bothering me that after a strong start to the year (HAHA thanks to my January incident) I have been sliding in the blogging department. It was going to be basically some vague references to a host of things- some big and some little- that have cropped up in the last week/month.

The word surprise here is used in the most general way for some of the most mundane and silly as well as some of the worst things that actually could happen in someone's life.  November proved to be a very busy month for me for a number of reasons, and I just did not get on to write much.  I had a couple posts swirling around but apparently weren't sufficiently compelling.  I found out two acquaintances of mine are the same age as me, and seriously, I am not as old as they are.....  I was pretty surprised.  But, meh.  How self centered can you get??  haha I had funny/sad/interesting encounters with students/friends, but again, this is day to day life and it wasn't enough to move me off of my typical early morning routines.

Then I had news that I can't share that sort of blew my mind and all that other stuff was so unimportant.  So I was mute because I just can't-

At the end of November I got a virus of some sort and all of my overdoing it had to come to a halt.  I tend to push myself all day and fall into a heap in the evening, but with company here I didn't have much time to do that.  Not their fault, by the way.  :) So I, by now, know that if I don't actually listen to my body and honor what it wants, no good things will come of it.  I take care of others most of the time, so I need to be part of that routine.

It is sort of too bad that it took me this long in my life to actually practice self care and pay attention to what I actually need.  But you can't change the past, so now I pay attention.  When my stomach says I am hungry, I take the time to feed it a little. Even if it is a spoonful of peanut butter, I do that.  I now know, inside of me, that I can eat what and when I want, so I do not sit down with the pb jar and yum down the entire thing.  And if I did, all I would feel is full and probably a little yucky from a stomach ache.  I do not feel feelings over my food any more.  If I need to relax, I will!  If I need to go to bed early, I do now....  which is weird, but I do.

Part of my self care in December is to enjoy my Christmas decorations, which I really do.  I LOVE having lights on all over- and I now have 2.5 strings of lights OUT on my roping outside, so I will be fixing those today as part of my self care.....  UGH.  I will always put up brand new lights outside because this replacing thing is for the birds.  At least the weather is warm.

The last little surprise I had this week involved my baby boy, JacPot.  Lol, my 1000 pound baby boy. Earlier this week, he was acting very weird when I saw him in the morning.  Sort of dizzy, sort of out of it.  And his back end wasn't moving right.  He was eating, so that is at least good.  He seemed a little better last night, though he never acted like he was in pain.  He just seemed off- I sort of think he may have had a stroke??  idk, maybe he fell and hurt himself.  He couldn't tell me but I wish he could.  I was terrorized every morning when I woke up and every  day when I was driving home from work.  It was like I lost him every day but then I got a reprieve.  You guys I thought I was going to lose my horse.  I thought I would find him lying on the ground and dead. The writing is on the wall, it is going to be a short time now I imagine.  He is an elderly gentleman.  But that doesn't make it easier.  For some reason, I have been able to talk myself down off the proverbial cliff though.

I have found that identifying the voice of panic, the voice of insecurity within me is easier to deal with if you give it a name.  Whatever that name is, by saying outloud - oh that is just my "....." story and I don't have to honor/pay attention to that right now is so helpful.  Thank you for trying to protect me, but you aren't letting me see things clearly.... that sort of thing.  giving your fears a name takes a lot of power away from them. You may be skeptical, but you should try it.  I even have been able to deal with my Jacpot feelings in a similar way and it is helpful.

So, life sends so many little surprises.  So so many good and so many not quite as good.  I spent a lot of time finding ways to comfort myself over some of these things.....  and there were a few others as well that I didn't even obliquely refer to, but I guess I have now!  In other years I would have gone down the road of stuffing the feelings back with food, or over-exercised to the point of exhaustion or done other self-destructive things....  But now I do what makes me feel cared for, feel content, feel nourished.  I have some friends and my sister who I can always ALWAYS count on and my family who are always nearby.

The trick to dealing well with these moments is to find a way to not blame yourself for all the things that are out of your control.  And almost everything in life is.  So find your comfy chair and enjoy the ride and be nice to yourself and others and take those hard things one at a time.  And yes, Debi, I am talking still to you!  And above all else- find your joy and give some to others.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

And suddenly we are well into December

I can't believe it's already the 8th of December- 

Well, I guess I can, I have been occupied with a lot of things since mid-November when last we blogged!  Thanksgiving was quite active, shall we say- company, shopping, more company, deer  hunters, grandchildren.....  it was mostly super great!

I did manage to get sick from a certain granddaughter shoving her little fingers into my mouth at one point on Thanksgiving, but oh well.  Small price to pay for having her up here for 4 days!

I am feeling a bit disconnected lately, haven't had much time to go for photo shoots and I am really missing it.  It is something that is part of my joy, and I have to find this again.

Ironically, one thing that kept me from doing a lot of it over the weekend was the fact that I spent hours working on my photography calendars!  I will say between my internet upgrade a while ago and Shutterfly web improvements, the uploading goes really very fast.  I NEED to work on these calendars before the first weekend of December......  MUST.  Every year I end up hurrying at the end to get them put together so I can get them on time plus get that top discount.  Goodness.

Yeah, you know I will be busy the first weekend of December next year.  That tends to be how I roll.

Otherwise, I am ready for winter to really arrive and give us some snow, and ICE.  I am getting a little concerned that Lake Superior isn't going to be frozen enough to support the Book Across the Bay in 2 months, and I really would love to start snowshoeing.  I was doing that last year at this time, which partially explains the lack of photography.  Taking pix of the same thing with no/little snow is sort of boring.  sigh.

Anyway, I need to get going on my day- this has to be the least inspiring/newworthy/photography filled update I have ever done!  HA  But I needed to do this to get rolling again.  I have a few ideas in process, but didn't have enough time to work it through.  Hope you all have a lovely Dec. 8!

Avoid those joy stealers/energy vampires that stalk you today- don't let them take your joy.  Joy givers UNITE!  ;) 

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Weekend day trips to the north

It snowed this past week, and though everyone said it would be gone by Saturday, it was indeed NOT gone.  But that did not stop the Mad-missing-English teacher and I from striking out on both Saturday AND Sunday for points north! 

Now living where we (I guess, I, now) do, one wouldn't think that we would need to strike out farther north, and yet we do.  There are waterfalls to be found, and lakes to be listened to, coffee to be consumed, and breakfast to be enjoyed.  Among other things, you know.
A slam on the brakes moment that needed to be captured

The Chippewa River north of Glidden
 We set off bright and early to head north to our favorite place to eat- possibly in the world- Coco's in Washburn.  After the proper amount of nourishment, we set off on Hwy C towards Cornucopia to a water cascade area called Siskiwit Falls.  We'd never been there, and we are always up for something new- Always.
There was a lot of water in this river and it was quite exciting to be so close to it.  We had done a little research and we knew that there were several areas that could be looked at.  We went as far as we could, slipping a little on the leaves and pine needles- and the afore mentioned snow, but the problem was, for this location,  a gigantic tree had gone down effectively stopping us from getting over to the best vantage point for both our viewing pleasure and for photos.  Sort of a bummer, but you so couldn't get there, so....  on to the next place.
Part of Siskiwit Falls
Our next stop was a planned trip to Lost Creek Falls.  We had been there last spring right around the spring thaw- but there was not nearly as much water then as there was Saturday!  All the rain and snow we have gotten filled the creeks and made a really great show for waterfallers such as ourselves.

The path to Lost Creek Falls

Lost Creek

Through the trees 
The Falls- a lot of water here!
As we needed to ponder our next move, we decided to go to Meyers Beach, as we were very close anyway!  Wow was this ever a great idea.  The pictures don't really show the amazing waves that were occurring- they were huge and rolling.  When you looked out at the lake, it didn't look that rough, but as the waves came to shore they broke in beautiful rolls spreading along the shore.  wow!  The cool thing was that every point that we saw the lake during the day had a different look.  It was so interesting.
again, these photos can't show the power, rhythm and sounds that were present Saturday.  

Flotsam and jetsam on shore

Looking towards the sea caves

lovely driftwood pieces artfully arranged by Mother Nature and Lake Superior
 We decided that we wanted to explore a few places that we had seen signage for, but had never ventured off to look at ..... so off we drove to the north.  Our first stop was Little Sand Bay Campground waaaaaaay up to the north, but there really wasn't too much to see there.  So we decided to try to find a "rustic campground" called Point Detour.  Apparently Point Detour is the farthest point north in Wisconsin, which we decided was worth getting out of the car to investigate.  Rustic it certainly was, by the way, we can't even comprehend how anyone in a camper could possibly even get their camper in that place. But maybe this is a campground that people don't drag more than a tent.

The lake definitely had a different look here.
We had to stop at the top of these stairs as there was a board across them- because there were about 8 steps out in the middle.....  and upon further investigation from the bottom, the entire thing is more than a bit rickety.  We had to shimmy down the side of the stairs, which was quite an adventure to say the least.  Leaves and pine needles and snow added up to some interesting footing this entire weekend.

After hanging out on this rocky landing for a while, and you will notice that the lake has a totally different look than at the beach, we decided to head on over to Bayfield.  We of course landed in the coffee shop for a while, and then walked on down to the docks, where our favorite ferry the Madeline was coming into town.

We ended up in Ashland at supper time, and I had one of those (almost) tire screech moments where I had to pull off the road to one of the lakeside parks to take some sunset photos.  The colors were just too compelling and the lake was so gorgeous and calm.

The Mad-English teacher and I went waterfalling Sunday as well.  After a nice pancake Sunday breakfast we headed on up to Iron County and visited Potato River Falls.  We had also been there earlier this year, but it was nothing like what we saw that day.  It is unfortunate for the picture taking that we had to be there in the morning, as the sun was really difficult.  But oh well.  The fall were STUNNING.  So much water, so loud, so fun to see.  The footing here and at Copper Falls was terrorizing in many places.  The wooden stairs and boardwalks were very slippery in spots and I had some really bad flashbacks.  I will over come this I promise!

Potato River Falls- Upper Falls

We decided to head to Copper Falls as well, which I have to say people around here take this for granted.  It is a gorgeous place and the falls are just spectacular.  It was fun to be there during the off season where there were no other visitors....  However, I did miss the concession stand's ice cream cones.  haha.

Brownstone Falls I think.

Interesting patterns on the ground
We had a nice time climbing around and investigating the various places around the park.  Again, the Falls were spectacular.

This was a great GREAT way to spend a weekend!  Seeing the glory of the scenery that is northern WI gave me more than my share of joy, and spending it with my partner in all things adventure completed the experience.  

Friday, November 6, 2015


A couple days ago I sort of quietly did something for the 1000th time.  That thing is an activity on Runkeeper, which is an app on my phone that I installed quite a long time ago, really.  I have covered a lot of ground, really, and if every one of those thousand posts was for walking or moving forward in some way, I would have covered a lot more ground.  I keep track of my weight lifting on it too.

So let's say that I am not a big numbers person, which I am not.  I can fiddle around with numbers in my head and have some success, but I still have to set up percentages by using the whole numerator/denominator thing, and things like that.  I CAN do the math, but seriously I just don't want to.  Hahaha.  I got through trig in High school and then got out of math as a second semester senior with my life and gradepoint intact.  I prefer to leave that sort of thing to - oh, I don't know- let's say an accountant who is comfortable with that stuff.  :) I have said for years, that is why God gave me an accountant, so I don't have to ever  EVER in my life worry about things like tax forms.  shudder.

However, if you REALLY know me, you know that there is definitely a geeky person that lies deep within.  If allowed to rise to the surface this person likes to play around with things like computers, and know scientificky thing (yes that is a word, shut up) and gasp- enjoy interacting with mathematics..... PLEASE do not tell the "MadArtTeacher" that, she gets a little antsy and her eye starts to twitch.  This person can get carried away and wants to live in a world full of numbers that used to make so much difference to her, and she did find out recently that they really don't matter...

Anywho, back to Runkeeper.  #1000 activity.  I find it pleasing that I did a walk on that activity, because it is certainly the way I began.  It seems like something cool like a kayak would have been in order but it is November, though until this morning, November forgot what she is supposed to be acting like.  No, it was just an ordinary walk, that I shoved into the period of time between school and sunset, which is getting distressingly shorter and shorter.  But we do all know that will change in about 6 weeks, so its all good.

Numbers to go with the free version of Runkeeper- I have fought off the urge, successfully, to pay for the Runkeeper elite that will tell me all sorts of cool things, that I really do not need to know and really, again, do not matter.  My first activity was only a 2 mile walk, or else I did not finish the walk or had some sort of issue with the app- idk.  It was in June of 2011, and I was way worried about all sorts of numbers.  Since then I have traveled 3,239 miles, burned 373,000 official calories, have gone through at least 8 or 9 pairs of really expensive shoes,  overtrained myself into: an ouchy knee, carpal tunnel and possibly a broken limb or two; plus gained a lot of confidence and entered into some really fun events and activities that include hiking, biking, and kayaking.

I do not use Runkeeper for the numbers anymore, I use it to keep track of where I have been through posting the event and taking pictures.  I have referred to the app several times to remember what adventure I went on and when.  Fortunately or not, I almost never venture off on a walk or hike without the app running, I hope that didn't annoy too many people.  I have it totally muted now, except if I decide to use music.  I do not have the pace cues, I do not have a trainer in my ear telling me to do whatever, I only have it to mark where I am via satellite for future use.  It is a relief to not be worrying about whether these calories being burned are enough for the food that I ate on any given day, because it just doesn't matter.  I am not my weight, nor do I reward or punish myself with exercise.  I am me and not a number.

What I am, that is amazing, is a much fitter person than I was in June of 2011.  By fit I mean that I can pretty much do what I want to- I can hike where I want, including up any landform that I would be brave enough to climb on (granted that is somewhat limited by the terror factor), bike and kayak.  I am game for most any physical activity, and I can do it without a lot of whining..... though there are those that might argue that fact!  :)  Am I as in "good of shape" as I was at the height of my obsessing over numbers, why yes I am, I am just not as light!  And I am so so fine with that.  At any given time I may be a little heavier, lighter, stronger weaker, have amazing cardio-vascular endurance or not, but I am not worried about that at all.  Except for broken things, I worry these days about not breaking things.

Runkeeper has taught me many things, well sort of.  I am using it as a metaphor I suppose.  I have learned that I can walk literally all day long if I need to.  I have learned, though I knew it deep inside, that I am NOT a runner.  Running seems to be held up to all as the standard for all truly worthy people to be working on, but that is such bull shit.  ugh.  Save your knees people, unless you are one of those people who really ARE able to do it without constant injury, why abuse yourself like that?  If you are, yay for you, but if you are not, do what you like, not what the rest of the world thinks you should like.  I won't credit Runkeeper for making me realize that I am a really good weightlifter, I am going to thank my amazing friends from the former Triple B gym for that, and of course me, because I kept at it and still love it so much.

But you can not disregard ill-advised activities that you have gone through to get to where you are right now.  I have done many things that I will not do again, but that doesn't mean I wish I wouldn't have done them.  That is a bit of a waste of time, don't you think?  I am so glad, though, that now I am getting my activity doing the things I love to do.  Because beating the crap out of yourself for the sake of getting exercise, especially if you detest that activity (yes I am talking to you elliptical), well that is crazy and I won't do it any more.

I have deleted all of the "fitness", "health" and "weightloss" apps off of my phone.  They and their numbers are not important to me any more.  But I do hold onto my Runkeeper.  It reminds me of the journey I have been on and the people I have been with and the amazing things that I have done, and will record the cool things I plan to do in the future.  Book Across the Bay, I am headed your way!!

Find the joy  in your day today, and be a joy GIVER for heavens sakes, it is Friday after all.  Though I don't think you should wait for any particular day to give that joy away.  They all work equally as well.  Rock on every one and MWAH!

Monday, November 2, 2015

One of the best days of the year, for the most part

Yesterday, was one of my favorite days of the year. I probably have written this before, but I will say it again- the fall back day ending Daylight Savings Time is the best.  Right after my birthday, and Thanksgiving, and possibly Christmas and any day that I am riding on an airplane....  You get the idea- it is in the top 5 or so days.

I know that everyone whines about the time change in the spring, but there is something luxurious about having a day that carries on longer than you are used to, and that is in a good way. I am not referring to a day where you think it should be noon and for crying out loud it is only 8:35.  We've all had those days.  yikes.

I tend to fill that day with things that I like to do and for the most part, I did.  I did do a little cleaning, which is decidedly not my favorite thing, but it was fine.  I got in a walk.  I did a little photo editing, I did a little cooking because I wanted to.  I did a lot of texting friends!  I got to FaceTime with Ella and her parents.  And then I got a migraine aura.

THAT was a sucky way to end a good day.  I hate those things with such a passion, and I don't get them very often.  And I can count on one hand how many times I have gotten a headache after one, and last night was #3.  :(   Seriously annoying.  I ended up laying down on the couch and not getting up again until half time of the seriously sad Packer game (sigh) and going to bed- me. To bed.  At 9 pm.  wow.  I kept thinking that the Aleve would just kick in and I would be fine, but not last night.

Oh well, I feel pretty good this morning, other than being a little sleepy and my head feels tired.  Today starts a marathon session of getting my room tidied up for parent teacher conferences, and beginning new lessons in every freaking class I have this week, and all that kind of grand stuff.  So I suppose I should take advantage and get myself going here, but I do need one more cup of coffee to work on while I get ready.  I am glad that I will have a little more light in the morning, though, not going to lie.

Anyway, I hope that you all have a fabulous Monday and that you enjoyed the extra hour you got yesterday in some extra good way.  And somewhere along the way you found some joy! My best one was a hilarious IM exchange with the Mad- English teacher.  Makes me smile still this morning!  Have a super day and be a joy giver!!

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Hope is not an emotion

I have had a really busy few weeks, and I tell you getting everything in that I want to, PLUS doing all the things that I have to, is sometimes a daunting task.  Sometimes, I get so overwhelmed I fall face first into a bag of chocolate and play stupid Candy Soda Crush (shhhhhhh, I do not, that is a rumor) until I run out of lives and then sit glassy-eyed staring at my not-free TV stations.  THAT has been my week.  Some weeks are  like that, and that is actually fine for a few days.  I shook myself loose last night and did some things that might be deemed "constructive" to other members of the household, but I am not overly concerned about that either. HAHA!!

I have managed to get in 3 gym sessions and a walk this week, plus, had a fantastic live tweeting session with my tweeter friend over an episode of Project Runway.  And half of that conversation is on the IM section of it; we are hilarious on Thursday nights, even if only to each other....  So anyway, I do eke out some time for reading as well, as my internet habits, along with said weight lifting sessions (I am getting so close to regaining all of my past strength- crushing those weights.  I am so pleased that my muscle memory is coming back, just like I have been reminded again and again.... lol) have reignited the carpal tunnel thing, that also seems to be manifesting itself in some extreme fatigue in my injured tendons of certain areas of my limbs that were smushed at one point.  So yes, my hand is numb in the morning, so I need to do some heavy duty resting of it!

So (bear with me, I am connecting these dots in my circuitous way) I belong to an internet book club that is hosted by my life coach- Anne-Sophie- and we are reading BrenĂ© Brown's book: The Gifts of Imperfection.  The book's subtitle is: Let Go of Who You Think You're Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are.  It is about Wholehearted living, which really is sort of my gig these days, you know?  This book makes sense to me on a soul level.  In preparation for a group call, we were reading the next set of guideposts- Cultivating gratitude and joy, Cultivating Intuition and Cultivating Creativity- so SO up my alley.  :)

The thing is, as I am wont to do, I skipped a bunch of things, read what I was supposed to and then started going backwards (now, no one is surprised by this, right?) through the book (this is not a very long book, short chapters and packs a powerful message and things to consider in each section) to the previous chapter entitled Cultivating a Resilient Spirit.  Now I do consider myself resilient, and there were emboldened subtitles that caught my interest, yet I "paged" backwards on the kindle app to the beginning of the chapter where they began with a discussion of hope and hopelessness. And it begins by saying hope is not an emotion....  wut?

Now raise your hand if you thought that hope was an emotion- I would have probably raised my hand tentatively.  When you start thinking about it, it makes sense that it is not.  You know what you feel like inside when you are experiencing either of these, hope or hopelessess, but it isn't really an emotion.  I do agree.  It is a learned behavior (this is research based), a way of thinking and has a simple framework for how it works.  People who have hope  have the ability to set realistic goals, are able to  figure out how to attain the goals, using flexibility and alternatives if necessary, and believe in themselves and that they can do it.  What ever it is.

This is certainly a way that I think and a context that I understand.  I am almost always able to accomplish things that I want, except when I attempt something that I knew darn well I shouldn't.  Like when I was going through my period of killing myself with exercise and I imagined myself a "runner" when my heart of hearts knew I was not.  Yeah, so one totally messed up knee later, I did not achieve that goal, though I did once run almost 6 miles..... and it almost wrecked my trip to the boundary waters, so not smart.  I really REALLY need to always trust my intuition (which is indeed in the book) and it  (intuition) was trying hard to remind me that I am not of that body type.

Anyway, while I was reading this about hope and hopelessness, in the context of resilience, I had these flashes of recognition of truths about me and my family.  In this case, the family I grew up in.  Let me preface this by saying I am not trying to either denigrate nor commend either of my sets of grandparents or my parents.  It just IS the way things were as I see it.  These moments of comprehension came to me so fast and in a way I felt before I could put it into words.

I am an optimistic person by nature, and sometimes I feel the need to apologize.  Which is totally insane, but I sometimes feel that way.  This world seems to be less than optimistic except for the occasional inspirational meme on a kitty picture.  I come by this honestly, as my mom was (and may still be on good days) one of the most positive people I know.  She always just looked for the good in things and really didn't try to bring a person down. Now I do recognize that she was avoiding confrontation, which I also inherited from her, and while this is good sometimes, it does add a lot of unnecessary angst and self doubt into life.  My father, on the other hand, while not horrible, was decidedly not so optimistic.  I look at the personalities of my mom and dad and wonder how the heck that ever happened.  I think my dad needed the love for life my mom had and my mom needed my dad to get her out of her parent's house.  Again, no judgements are being made here.  My mom chafed under the religious household of her parents and she needed out.  My dad needed someone who was reliable and upbeat.  So it was.

I look at the parents of my parents and it is so interesting to see the differences as I know them and to, I think, correctly translate their overall outlooks on life through the lens of hope.  I can not and do not imagine myself to have insight into what their life was really like, but I can make a solid guess.  First off, I loved my grandparents on both sides, but in different ways.  My Grandma Kutz (Grandpa died when I was 4) loved me in a powerful way and she lived nearby.  I saw her a lot and saw her whole personality for good and bad.  My dad's mom was not necessarily a hopeful person.  I know there were a lot of struggles in her life, and I can see her influence on the personality of my father.  He tended to be gruff (and who knows what made that true) and not particularly overtly affectionate.  We knew he loved us, but sometimes it was hard to prove.  I, as a girl, had a bit of an easier time than the boys did as he proved to be difficult to deal with as they got older.

My mom came from a quite religious family and Grandma and Grandpa Oberley were people I only saw once or twice a year.  They lived 9 hours away from us and it just wasn't something we did much was visit them- except for that glorious summer vacation time.  OH I loved being there and being with them.  They were not super huggy, but definitely more outwardly affectonate than the other side of the family.  And as a kid I saw the best of them during that time.  Even though mom didn't appreciate the restrictions of their religion, the basic feeling of belonging and the family structure was much more hopeful and accepting.  They knew the Lord would provide and all that, so they were more settled.  I had the vibe that all was well, where my Grandma Kutz was a bit more volatile and a tad more self centered.

Again, I am not judging, that is what they all knew and the circumstances were they way they were and all that.  As much as I adored my mom's mom and dad, my Grandma, who was quite a trip so to speak, was  uniquely and unabashedly herself.  She was Grandma, she didn't try to change and that was that....  I miss her so much.

Anyway, I think that is a grandparent thing that is separate from this discussion.  Back to book club, I told Anne-Sophie about these revelations about hope.  I am ,in retrospect, so happy that the majority of time I spent in childhood was with a parent who had hope.  While I do not dislike the time spent with my dad, and in fact the short times he was around (he was a farmer) were pretty fun.  But as fast as the fun began, it could also end.  You just never knew what was going to happen, when he would retreat into himself.  Like he couldn't allow too much levity to take place without losing himself.  The man suffered from a bipolar type of personality, I truly believe, and fought depression (well, no, he didn't fight the depression, it engulfed him) as well.  So my mom, though she had a tough way to live when we were little as far as being pretty damn dirt poor, and having 4 little kids less than 5 years apart from beginning to end, and I can't imagine how she kept that overall optimistic outlook on life when she was living with a man who had not a lot of hope.  He set goals, but could not imagine how to reach them if things didn't go the way he planned.  My father was neither particularly resilient and absolutely not flexible.  He got a lot of shit done, though, man.  It's just if life threw him some curve balls, he was a broken soul.

Why am I writing about this? As I write about this I realize that there is a lot of contradiction in people and in situations and I know little about my mom and dads childhood.  I can just see how through nature, nurture or both I have ended up with what it turns out is a resilient self.  A self that has the tools to be hopeful.  And the background to appreciate the people who are not.  The difficulties my father faced internally must have been paralyzing at times, and in fact I know that they were.  But that is for another time.  But I can see the affect they had on him, and I recognize it in others.  And I have so so much empathy.  I want to give those people some of my hope.

I see hope and resilience in my children too.  Their father can be a bit on the pessimistic side at times, but generally the MA can see the bright side, especially if I hold it in front of his face and insist that he look at it.  Lol.  Doesn't always work, but he has a mind open enough to consider it, even if I am "wrong".  hahaha  which I am not.  I see the boys as people who wake up and expect things in general to go well, to not imagine that every woe in the world will befall them any time soon, or that everyone is out to get them.  I am so glad that hope, a learned behavior, has been passed along.  And I think that is one of the greatest things I could have taught or modeled for them.  Even if I didn't know I was doing it.  I have no lesson, no moral, nothing except seeing how in my situation how learning or not learning about being hopeful has affected my small group of people.  A definite aha moment that was meant for me. And maybe you can see this in you too....

And that is one joyful thing I have discovered about myself this very busy week!  And now where is the chocolate??  ;)

Sunday, October 18, 2015


I have not put up a picture post for a while.  I have a bunch of them to edit from yesterday, but here we go anyway.

From my last kayak- Flambeau River
I had a nice walk with the Mad_English Teacher last weekend, not so sure he did as he was a little on the sickish side.  But there was some decent enough color up in Bayfield, but wow I wish that I had been there this weekend.  Oh well.  I have to stay home once in a while, right?  Especially since I will be gone a few days this week.

My poor sick friend :(
Anyway, here are a few recent photos that found their way onto one of my cameras....

Favorite tree- this is one of my favorite shots of the year.

Mute swan on the Chequamegon Bay in Ashland

Poor favorite tree

Meyers Beach, Cornucopia, WI

Meyers Beach

From above the sea caves

Almost fall

Houghton Falls, Washburn, WI

Morning visitors

Another of my favorite shots from this year

The board walk above the seas caves

The road just past the entrance to Meyers Beach, Washburn

Lake Superior

Some of our very short lived fall color

Brilliant morning

I hope these photos give you a small amount of joy this very cold morning.  (23*)  But the sun is out and I am ready to go ON to a new adventure, right away!!