My Butt is Sitting, But Will I Write?

To be a writer, write.  Butt in chair.  Shitty first drafts. (Thank you Anne Lamott.)  I’ve heard or read all the advice and yet, though I spend much of my day with my butt in my chair, what writing I do ends up as a tweet or an email, not paragraphs and pages toward my dreamed-of creative pursuit.

“How’s your writing coming?” is the oft-asked question by well-meaning acquaintances who I now deeply regret telling of my hope to tell a story of a kick-ass woman from medieval times.  And, though I love research, I can’t even blame my lack of progress on too much of that.  No, I let time escape by other means, despite purchasing a variety of planners all promising to help me manage that elusive construct humans have created to give a pretense of structure to our lives.

Yesterday it was the holiday cards I had to get ordered if they were to arrive before the holiday was over.  And it’s true, I did need to get them ordered if I was to send my usual multi-photo, narrated card.  And the website I used last year used up way too much time by creating seemingly limitless obstacles to what should be a simple task of uploading the photos I’d already placed in a Christmas card album on iPhoto.  It should have been easy, but the website kept reloading and my slowly loaded photos somehow kept disappearing and I was determined not to give up because it was the only site that I could find that allowed Christmas card booklets — yes, booklets — to give me room for all 50 of my must-have 2017 photos with plenty of space for sharing the story of our year.

Alas, and kudos to me for finally admitting defeat (admittedly difficult for me) and going to another, Wirecutter-recommended site for a 12-photo card that, praise the Lord, uploaded my edited list of photos quickly and without technical difficulties.  (SimplytoImpress online holiday card site).  And even though it also was intuitive in loading my Word address list from last year, I needlessly complicated matters by an inefficient method of attempting to confirm addresses that wasted at least another hour.  Finally, my cards were complete and off to the printer, but my day was also near its end, without one word of writing on my much-discussed novel being written yet again.  I had Christmas cards, and two trips to the grocery story completed and my dog walked multiple times and a delicious home-made roasted tomato soup made, and I could give up-to-the-minute updates on the spread of the Lilac fire in North County even though for the first time since I’ve lived in San Diego the fire posed no threat to my house or home, but another day ended without writing more than the paragraph on the back of my Christmas card.

And yet I could justify my day.  After all, it’s nice to keep in touch with folks via holiday cards and I have four children whose photos need to appear equally in the end product and way too many photos — most dimly lit or unflattering or in need of cropping or other adjustments — to comb through to find just the right ones to tell the story of 2017 at our home, and I needed to ensure the addresses were correct, didn’t I?  And homemade soup is good for me, as are long walks with my dog.  But none of that is getting any of my writing done, and therein lies the problem.  Whether of not the way I spent my time can be justified, it is without question that I did not prioritize my writing so that it, too, got done.

So today I will at least write on this long-ignored blog a post that helps me try to make sense of how it is that I am not pursuing what I believe is my passion.  Why I am choosing to waste precious time despite knowing how valuable it is and how quickly it passes.  How it is that I can keep buying planners and even sometimes writing my goals and “to do” lists in them and yet not doing what I’ve listed to do, ignoring the goals I set for myself, disappointing myself over and over and over again.  Maybe putting it out there will help me come to grips with whatever it is that ails me, that keeps me from fulfilling my commitments.

I want to live audaciously, bravely, big.  Yet I’m constrained by the rules that no longer serve me, by the good girl perfectionist I taught myself to be so long ago that it’s all my cells remember, it’s all my brain can recall.  It’s a prison I created to give myself worth and it’s damn hard to knock down.  Especially when it’s hard to argue with being good being a good thing.  Being nice seems, well, nice.  And there is nothing wrong with being good or nice but I sense that I need to be more than that to reach into my creative soul that I’ve constrained for so long and free it to be more than the small person afraid to take up space I’ve occupied for so long that it’s become me and I don’t know how to be the person I long to be.  Another day has been given to me, and it’s not yet over, so let’s see how this one ends.  One thing for sure, I’ve done SOME writing, and that’s a start at least!

 


Rediscovering Park City … in the Summer

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Those runs you careen down on your skis or snowboard during Park City and Deer Valley winters?  They are just as fun in the summer, whether on a mountain bike (a little fast for me) or on your own two feet.  We’re spending three weeks in July getting a taste of all the area has to offer in the summer, and having a blast.

In fact, biking and hiking are only two ways of getting down the trails at Park City — ziplines, an Alpine coaster and an Alpine slide are options as well.  Purchase tickets for single rides (which are pricey) or buy an all-day Alpine pass and take advantage of not only those but many other activities for families, including minature golf.  Purchase your all-day Alpine Pass online by 10 p.m. the night before for a 10% discount.  For shorter lines try going early, or midweek.

The ride to the top for the Alpine slide is leisurely  … but that leaves plenty of time to soak in the scenery.  And get your Go Pro ready to record the action as you prepare to zoom your way downhill.  Or clip your phone to your shirt and record a video to make sure your downhill slide is recorded to show off to your friends later.  Kids and adults alike love the ride, and one good and somewhat unique feature is that each cart is individually controlled by you, the rider.  So push the lever back to brake if you feel you’re going too fast, or forward to enjoy the full experience … you have complete control over the speed.  I recommend that you go for it — the  carts will stay on the track so let go and have a great trip down.

After you tire of the slide make your way a few yards over to the Alpine Coaster, also at the Park City base and included in the all-day pass or as a single-ticket ride.  We have to return to try the coaster, as despite clear blue skies the ride was halted for a 30-minute wait because of a lightning strike within 10 miles.  And then 29 minutes into our wait what occurred but a second lightning strike — thus re-setting the clock for another 30-minute wait.  Not wanting to spend any more of our afternoon in line, we headed downhill for dinner.  Fortunately, even though they didn’t have to, the resort refunded the cost of the all-day pass and charged us only for what we actually had been able to ride, and the restaurant gave us a discount as well, to ensure everyone left feeling good about the experience.  We did!  Below is a photo of some people who were able to enjoy the Alpine coaster, which we look forward to enjoying next week.

alpine coasterThe next day, as we headed out on another adventure we couldn’t help but notice a large Farmers Market in the Cabriolet parking lot.  Despite having a full refrigerator back at our townhouse, I couldn’t resist stopping by.  And I’m so glad we did.  We picked up onions too beautiful to resist, and corn that cooked on the grill that night per a Bobby Flay recipe (10 minute salt water soak) was the most delicious corn on the cob I have ever had.  We rounded out the veggies with some garlic scape pesto, grass-fed beef, beefsteak tomatoes and lemon pepper seasoning, all of which I can highly recommend.

The Park City Farmer’s Market takes place at Park City Resort Canyons (Off Highway 224) every Wednesday from 12-6 pm, starting the first Wednesday of June until the last Wednesday of October each year. Each week you’ll find a huge assortment of fresh local goods from Utah Farmers and vendors, usually organic.  It’s a don’t miss!

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Thursday we headed out for some easy hikes (or walks, which is more my speed).  Using our Alpine Pass a few days earlier we had riden the Gondola at Canyons Village up to a few trails, but this time we were looking for walks that did not require riding a lift (or a very long and steep climb uphill).  In the Bear Claw area we found Rob’s Trail, which was a great choice with moderate incline and plenty of shade.  We stopped after a mile but there are many options for longer hikes through a variety of connected trails, with good maps located at trailhead to point you in the right direction.

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Sunday morning was dedicated to “white water rafting” — although “white water” is somewhat of a misnomer — on the Weber River.  It’s Class II, mainly, so no wild rides, but very fun for everyone and a great way to spend a few hours in nature.  We went with All Seasons Adventures and they did a great job of ensuring everyone stayed safe while having a great time.  Sunday afternoon the Weber River fills with tubers, which makes maneuvering a raft quite the challenge, so we recommend the morning trip or going on another day.  The guides played Tuber Bingo, looking for the predictable “Rafter Walking Back” after someone tries to ride an inflated porpoise or swan down the Class II drop and ends up with mouths full of water (in addition to the porpoise and swan we saw a giant inflated duck that the man was somehow admirably managing to stay upright on).

all seasons rafting

Of course, our favorite way to start and end every Park City day is sitting on our deck, enjoying the sounds of the creek while we barbecue some fish or burgers (and Farmers Market corn!) and wind down with a glass of wine.   And then a stint in the jacuzzi on the deck, watching the squirrels and counting the stars and our blessings each night.

We hope you’ll make plans to visit the Park City area this summer or next.  And if you do, you’ll find either of our two townhouses comfortable, welcoming, and conveniently located to every place you want to go.


Lightness of Being, Simplified

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It’s so easy to over-complicate, well, everything.  See something you like, and buy it.  Hate to say “no” to good causes or good friends or, well, just about anyone or anything?  Easier to say “yes” and figure out later how to deal with it.  Want those around you to be happy?  Go along with what they would like rather than disappoint them.  Step by step, day by day, each purchase, each “yes,” each twisting yourself every which way so that you can please those around you creates a maze of complications, of stuff, of weight on your shoulders that presses you down, that depresses you.  Resentment builds and you snap over the simplest of things, when all you were trying was to do was to be good, to do good.  And what you end up with is complications, stresses, stuff cluttering your days and your life.

It feels so good to clean out your closets, to leave some white space on your calendar, to simplify.  It leaves space to take a breath, to take a nap, to soak up the beauty of this moment before you, without worrying about what’s behind or ahead.  I constantly strive toward a goal of creating more light, both in the sense of brightness and in the sense of weightlessness.  One path of achieving that goal is to remember that it’s the simple things in life that are often the tastiest, the most nourishing, the most satisfying.

My intention for the day – to Simplify.  Check in tomorrow to see how I do!

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Escaping into Dreams

Why is it that my dreams are so vivid, so imaginative, but during the day when I sit down to write I too often struggle with attempting to create the right character arc, or enough drama and tension, or an interesting dialogue.  Why does my mind have no problem telling an intriguing story when left to its own devices?  In my dreams I discover all these rooms I had no idea existed in the very house in which I’d lived for years.  I fly.  I seem to frequent elevators that fail to stop at the appointed floor and instead zoom up into space, sailing over the city until I land, somehow uninjured, in a field.  The ordinary humdrum of life is filtered out, leaving more excitement that I can conjure up when my eyes are open and my body upright.

Speaking of dreams, I had dinner in Bali last month with a man who told me he writes down his dreams every morning, and he has more than 1,500 dreams recorded, which he assured me was “more than any other man on earth.”  I myself haven’t had the discipline to write my dreams each night for 1,500 nights in a row, but I’m not so sure that my dining companion is the only man on earth who has done so.  And he takes his dreams to heart.  God told him in his dreams that he was the King that will bring back an ancient Kingdom for the Indonesian people.  And that he is from the moon.  And all sorts of other quite unusual things that made for a most interesting dinner.

Dreams are a mystery, a way to connect to ourselves at a deeper level, thought-provoking, so scary at times that they haunt us even after we awake.  Dreams are our imagination soaring large, uninhibited by the constraints society and family and responsibility and fear have placed on our consciousness, free to be who we are or who we want to be.

All this writing of dreaming has me thinking of bed, so I think I’ll sign off and snuggle under the covers and await what movie my mind has in store for me tonight!

 


Sing — It Helps the Medicine Go Down

Not literally, of course.  If you sing while swallowing medicine it might be impossible and certainly be messy.  But when you’re going through a hard time, or you are attempting to forget about something causing you pain, or you are bored to tears on a long drive and need something to occupy yourself with and reading makes you carsick, singing helps.

When I was giving birth the first time, not wanting to rely on medicine I turned to hot water and Lamaze breathing and singing to take my mind of my baby’s journey to the new world.  When the lab technician is drawing blood, which makes me faint if I think too much about it, I sing.  And I don’t have a decent voice, can’t even hold a tune much less hit the high notes.

When I want to feel connected to my Mother, I sing “The Old Rugged Cross” — a hymn she sang on every road trip through the south that was our annual vacation.  (After all, who wouldn’t want to tour the Vicksburg cemetery every single year of their life?)  As soon as I start, or hear someone else sing that hymn, I find myself back in the backseat of that Pontiac, fighting over space with my little brother and wondering “how much longer”? and if Dad will ever really stop for a bathroom break or continue saying “darn, I just missed it” past every exit.

And when I visit a new church to check it out, the preaching may be important but it’s the songs they sing that let me know if it’s a place where I will feel at home.  Growing up going to church Sunday morning, Sunday night and, often, Wednesday night service plus Choir practice every week embedded Southern Baptist hymns not only in my brain but in my very bones, and hearing those hymns brings me home.

I’m not a music person.  I rarely listen to music at home or in the car, preferring books on tape or podcasts.  I can count the number of concerts I’ve attended on my hands and I’ve been attending them for 40 years.  But I do love to sing.

 

 

 


The best part of my hometown? Brick

There’s a lot I don’t like about Tyler.  For a little town so full of Evangelical churches, the odd thing it seemed most to be missing was soul.  Tyler may be the Rose Capital of the World, home to the Rose Festival and the Rose Gardens and the fancy dress-up Rose Festival, but it isn’t the roses, no matter how sweet the smell, that pretty-up the oh-so-conservative town where no out-of-state plaintiff ever wants to find itself (but that’s another story).  No.  What gives Tyler its character, what constitutes, in my mind, its saving grace, is one residential area near downtown where the streets are made of brick.  Worn, deep red bricks, slick after the rain, bumpy to drive along, beautiful.  Tyler named those 29 blocks of brick a historic district and is determined to protect them, which makes my heart smile.  There’s an article about the almost 14 miles of brick streets, here.

The small, tree-shaded neighborhoods blessed with the brick streets give another gift to the town’s character.  The homes in this neighborhood feature wide and deep lawns of St. Augustine grass that provide the perfect backdrop for explosions of pink and white and red azaleas that every March burst forth their blossoms in an effort to make their brick streets proud.  Teenage girls dressed in pastel antebellum skirts carry parasols and pose for photos during the Azalea Trail each year, but the Southern Belles are outdone by the beauty that nature plus those brick streets provide.

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A few blocks away the asphalt paving threatens to overtake, with its easier and cheaper maintenance beckoning tax-conscious Texans.  If you don’t know where to look, you could easily thing the whole town is that same, conventional, asphalt paved, suburban subdivision, soulless place.  But drive near downtown, feel the bumps of the bricks, and luxuriate in those few blocks where brick has created character that prove beauty can be found anywhere.


Pensive

Contemplating Life

Peace in the Pacific

Where am I going in my life?  After 25 years of thinking about it, I finally took the leap of leaving the comfort and more-than-comfortable salary of Big Law and started my own, little-ole-me firm — the goal being to free up my life while still maintaining an income and taking advantage of the relationships and experience built up over all these years.

But I have no more time than I had before.  My “to do” list still includes a host of action items that come before the one I know my soul wants to do — work on my book.  That elusive book that exists in my head, in my imagination, in my soul but not on paper.

Am I just treading water?  Am I constitutionally unable to end my procrastination and step into my fear and just force myself to give myself time to write?  I find myself contemplating this quandary often, pensively.  I have no answer.  It’s easy as I lay down at night to plan a different day tomorrow.  Scarlett O’Hara still alive and well, living through me.  Tomorrow, it IS another day.  But every day so far it ends up as just another day that the way I spent my time conflicts with the way I say I want to spend it.

One foot in front of another, blog by blog, I will create a writing habit of butt in seat, writing even when I have no thoughts in my head.  I will be pensive no longer.  Contemplative, yes.  But putting the thoughts into curious, excited, motivated, positive action.

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Flourish

A joyful word, flourish.

Brings up images of spreading joy, gardens blooming profusely, joyous children — barefoot, eyes closed, spinning until they crumple in a heap on the grass in laughter.

Just as easily it can be turned around.  Pair it with “evil” and all of a sudden it doesn’t seem as nice.

Anything can flourish.  Good, evil, joy, heartbreak, love, hate … it depends on what you pair it with. It depends on what you focus on.  It’s a glass-half full test — do you look at the naked word “flourish” standing alone and conceive that within it are the seeds of despair?  Or do you see good starting from one space and growing, spreading, expanding, touching the sad, the heartbroken, the lonely and bringing light to their lives?

I’m sticking with joy.  Mind over matter, directing my thoughts, focusing my energy on what’s good, so that the little sparks of life and laughter and freedom and love and joy will spread, will embrace, will flourish.

Even when I can think of nothing to say, I will blog.  I will respond to the Prompt of the Day, today and everyday, just as I brush my teeth and dress myself and eat (even when I sworn the night before I am only going to have juice tomorrow, or fast — I still eat), every day.  I will grow, create, expand, blog.  I will  …

flourish.

 

 


I Should Be Doing My Timesheets …

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As an attorney who bills by the hour, timesheet are the bane of my existence (and I doubt my clients like them any more than I do). So here it is, Saturday morning, and I know I should be putting aside my reading, my writing, my research because I should be completing my timesheets. But first (the procrastinator in me readily pops out) I should do the filing of magazine clips and other miscellaneous papers that have gathered on my desk during the week. The first page I cut out to save? An excerpt from Elle Luna telling me to pay attention when I tell myself what I “should” be doing and, equally, what I feel I “must” do. According to Luna, at least as summarized by O Magazine, “Should is the expectations others layer upon us. When we pick Should, we’re choosing to live for someone or something outside ourselves.” True that. “Must, on the other hand, is who we are, what we believe, the things that call to us most deeply.” Hum, never that of it that way. Intriguing, though. “Pursuing our Musts as we move through the world is the journey of a lifetime, but even the first step on that road is a mini adventure all its own.”

Think I’ll go on a mini adventure of my own…
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Trying To Live My Best Life

I’m trying out the WordPress Blogging 101 University again. One of these days I will learn to blog better, at least I’ll keep trying!

Our assignment? To tell you, the Universe, why I’m blogging instead of keeping a personal journal. The answer? I do both, and neither as often as I’d like. I journal to let out my anger, record my thoughts so I can look back on them in later years and remember what this time was like, to explore private thoughts and learn about myself. I blog to share, and to seek feedback from you.

One day I was practicing Kundalini yoga using a DVD of Maya Fiennes and working on Chakra 5, my voice. I’ve always had trouble expressing my needs to others, or even admitting them to myself. In my memory I tried to express myself as a child but if my thoughts/feelings/opinions weren’t the ones my parents thought I “should” hold, then they were considered back-talking and more often than not I’d be in trouble for them. In fact for the most part the only trouble I ever got in was for back-talking. I didn’t drink, didn’t sneak off to the woods to smoke, didn’t steal, didn’t take drugs, didn’t fail to make good grades … but I did “talk back” i.e. say what I thought about a situation. Perhaps I could have tried a different approach, a different tone of voice, a different way of expressing myself but I just stubbornly insisted on speaking my mind. But over time I learned not to own my truth, not to speak my mind, just to think it but outwardly acquiesce.

I suffered from horrible sore throats — strep throat — as a child until finally the doctor said I was old enough to have my tonsils removed to cure the problem … and miraculously I never had strep throat again, at least for years. I always had such a high-pitched voice, even as a 40-year-old, that folks on the phone thought I was a kid. All these signs my body was sending me telling me to OWN MY VOICE.. to speak up, to open up. Determined in my late 40s to give it a try, I was dedicated to practicing the DVD that promises with 40 days of use to accomplish that goal of unblocking my Fifth Chakra when “an enriching life” popped into my head as a phrase that symbolized what I wanted. A rich life not with monetary wealth but with fullness, friendships, experiences, spirituality, and abundance of health, joy, and love.

so this blog is the result. As soon as my DVD ended I hoped up, signed up for the domain An Enriching Life and started to write about any subject I feel has enriched my life or might enrich yours. OK I haven’t done such a great job at it but it’s still a worthy goal and one I’m going to keep attempting to reach.

Blogging itself has enriched my life by giving me an outlet for my random thoughts and sometimes helping to put them in some sort of order. Here’s hoping I get better at it, for your sake as well as my own!
Blessings and Happy 5th of July!