Category Archives: Life

The Good Shit

I was up before dawn today, deciding not to turn over and go back to sleep when my husband arose to feed the cats and start his own day.  I curled up in the big chair in the office and pulled my pile of writing books next to me, looking for inspiration and a way to redirect my mind from remnants of restless dreams.  I found the inspiration in bits and pieces but it was when I opened my own writing notebook and read something I had written a little over a year ago that the sting of tears and the stir of the heart told me I had finally found my piece of gold.  Leonie Dawson has said that when you go back and read something you have written and it makes you cry, then that’s the good shit, that’s what you should share.  So, here it is, the thing that inspired me, my piece of gold – the good shit.

The following is from one of my writing notebook, it was in letter form to my Aunt and was never sent or shared, until now.  I’ve left it mostly unedited and as it was written that day.

October 5, 2012

Dear Aunt B.,

I saw a painting on a feather the other day while visiting an art gallery and it reminded me of you and the amazing paintings you’ve done on feathers.  Then today my writing prompt in Old Friend from Far Away by Natalie Goldberg, a book on the practice of writing memoir, was to write about a Mother, Grandmother or Aunt starting with “I remember…”.  I chose to write about you. 

I wrote about you in your hair salon downtown, about your look, about the music you had playing.  The memory of your long painted nails massaging my scalp at the hair washing station.  The Aussie shampoo, bubblegum scent.  The spray of warm water as you rinsed my hair and the deft twist of your wrist as you rung it out and piled it on top of my head with a long clip.   I wrote about helping you shear sheep.  I wrote about how you would move from one task and talent to another with a matter of fact, no nonsense way.  I wrote about how you loved to grow zinnias. 

Then after stopping the writing exercise more memories flooded forward and tears stung my eyes. A missing wrenched my heart as I recalled all our time spent together. 

Do you remember teaching me to throw metal buckets at the barn as a way to let go of anger and frustration?  We stood a ways back from the barn, metal buckets at hand and let them fly.  I remember the whoosh of release and the satisfactory loud clang as they hit the side of the barn.  It was easier to laugh after a few bucket tosses, and we did.  Then we would make our way back to whatever we were going to do next.  Garden, paint, learn how to fix the car, bake bread.  So many things you shared with me and I find each one is a special treasure stored up in my heart.

So, thank you, Natalie Goldberg, for that prompt and your wonderful writing books.  Thank you Leonie Dawson for helping me know when it’s the good shit.  And thank you Aunt B. – for everything.


The Signs

A misty morning ride, ferries swallowed by low banks of clouds hovering over the water.  The bay filled with fishing boats, the docks lined up with hopeful crowds holding heavy rods.  A large splash just off shore, a flash of silver.  The first of the salmon have returned.  Horned grebes dot the silver grey waters, the first of the winter birds to return from summer breeding grounds to the north.  Blackberries dripping from soaking wet vines, blushes of red on sweetgums.  Summertide is turning and the waning of the year slowly takes hold.

It is only the beginning of the changes I have witnessed each year I have lived here in the Puget Sound.  The signs are familiar, like a close friend, I know these cycles of the season.  Not long from now more water birds will begin to arrive – grebes, harlequin ducks, surf scoters.  The rocks and sandy places along the shore will host foraging shorebirds – sanderlings, black turnstones, surfbirds.

The osprey and caspian terns will begin to gather and circle in the sky, calling and chattering, planning their travels south.  Long trips towards the warmer climes of Mexico, Central and South America.  This time I’ll already be gone when they start their journeys.  I’ll have to say my goodbyes earlier this year.

I have my own southward journey ahead of me.  A journey that will lead me to a new set of seasonal cycles and signs.  A high desert and mountain climate dotted with lakes and sagebrush, juniper and pines.  I’ll have to learn new signals of the turning of the year, make new friends with the land and the creatures with in it.  Perhaps, though, a few of my familiar friends here in the Puget Sound Basin will pass over my new home on their way to theirs.  I will watch the sky and wonder as I see swallows and osprey and geese moving south – are these ones I know?  Either way I’ll wish them well and then I’ll say farewell to summer in a new place and welcome autumn in new ways.

The wheel turns, the journey continues.

Giving Them Back – Earth Treasures Returned to the Earth

My husband and I walked out the door for a sunset stroll to the nearby beach carrying two canvas shopping bags full of rocks and a small box of sand dollars.  I had hand picked each and every one of those rocks from various places that I’ve wandered.  Each one caught my attention at one point, got picked up and carried home where they sat in lovely piles on shelves or windowsills or in bowls being admired and appreciated each time I looked at them.

I have a thing for rocks.

I have since I was a small child, when I would collect them everywhere we went. I even had a tumbler machine and would tumble my own stones.  The obsession never left and to this day I carry home rocks on a regular basis.  I’ve managed some self control living a block from the beach over the last several years, but a few still sneak their way into my pockets or bags and onto the mantel or shelves.

Now they sit beside fancier rocks and crystals that I’ve been purchasing for a few years and truth be told there are some of the simple beach rocks that I love just as much as some of my most precious crystals.  I love them all.

As much as I love them I knew I needed to give some of them back to nature before moving.  In the process of downsizing I new it was time to downsize my collection of nature’s treasures. Not that I plan on having a lot less for very long, but because it was time for some to go back to the earth and perhaps be appreciated by others (I get a kick out of the idea of the odd geologist walking along on the beach and suddenly coming across rocks from Eastern Washington on the Puget Sound.).  At the same time I’m making my move easier and opening up space for new earthy treasures to come into my life.

That brings us back to the walk to the beach tonight with those bags of rocks and my mom’s collection of sand dollars that I’ve kept around for the ten years since she passed.  (She had a thing for sand dollars much like I have for rocks, and feathers and shells and sea glass and… well you get the point!)  I wanted to take the time to pick each one up again and appreciate it before tossing it out into the water.  My husband had fun skipping any of the ones that were even slightly flat and for a while we played  the “try to hit the log rolling in the waves” game.  It felt good to honor each of these treasures once more in this way.  I took the sand dollars and lined them up on a log along with a few feathers and felt my moms spirit close to me in those moments of laying them out and standing back to admire them.

It feels good to make simple things sacred, and that’s what the whole process was – sacred.

In Which I…Ah Frick-It. Just Read It!

It’s a payday today.  The last of the severance checks from Mark’s previous employer.  Which means we are also a week or so out from giving notice of our intent to move.  It’s both exciting and a bit on the potential for freak-out-ability.  But we’ll focus on the exciting part.

Lots of changes in the works, lots of unknown, but the pieces gradually fall into place.  It really has been like that, so we figure just trusting it to continue to be that way is the best bet.  Because we like the good feeling Aha! moments way better that the angst-filled freak-out moments that don’t get us anywhere but Ickville!

That’s something we’re learning about ourselves.  We really don’t figure things out or make decisions from a place of negativity or freaking out or anxiety.  At least not the ideas and decisions we’re truly happy about.  From those low points we can’t see anything positive.  Even things we normally have no issues around can suddenly be rife with negative aspects.  Negativity births more negativity.  Thankfully positivity births more positivity.  It’s up to us to choose what to focus on.  We are learning to choose the positive more and more and to give ourselves the space we need to move out of the negative when it starts creeping in.

When we take the time to just relax and dream and talk about things we love that ends up being the times when true inspiration seems to show up.  Those good feeling Aha! moments that are like puzzle pieces falling into place.  From there they give us some direction and momentum for moving forward until the next piece comes.

In those times of anxiety, fear, doubt and just plain bad attitudes nothing good comes.  Nothing.  Oh, sure, we can start thinking about just giving up or doing all the things we’ve said we know we don’t want to do, but it’s never a good feeling to go that direction.  Not when we’ve already begun to give ourselves that space for listening more deeply to ourselves and coming to a place of allowing ourselves to explore the possibilities that really excite us.  Those are the things that truly inspire us.  Those are the things that motivate us and give us the energy to do the things that need to be done.  Like all the downsizing we are doing.  Seriously, you can not face a basement like ours from any place other than motivation and inspiration without complete despair.  Trust me, it’s a big and very full basement.

When we step back and we look at things from a positive mental space, it’s amazing what we can see.  Like exactly how many things seem to be aligning with this particular timing for change.  The lease for our place in Alki being through August, which was changed from the original timing the second year we were living here.  How the severance checks worked out to cover the essentials up through that time as well. Our State Parks Pass goes through August.  My zoo membership goes through August.  And there are other things as well.  They may seem like little things, but when you see them all together – well, they add up.   The timing is just right.  When we look at that, it gives us a little boost of faith for the rest of it to be right as well.

So, that’s where we are.  Taking it one inspiration, one Aha! moment at a time and doing our best to stay focused on what we DO know rather than what we don’t.  It’s a beautiful and enlightening process, if not always an easy one.  Not always easy because it is so foreign to our culture’s way of thinking, being and doing.  As much as we would like it not to be the case, we have a lot of our culture’s mindsets and beliefs to filter out of ourselves as we go through this process.  We made the decision to give ourselves that space to do that filtering and sorting and re-framing from the onset.  We knew we would be in a vulnerable place and we knew we needed to work through this together, just the two of us, till we came to a place of more stability in going in this rather unorthodox direction.  Unorthodox but what felt deeply right to us and for us.

Our culture doesn’t handle the not-knowing-everything, not-having-it-all figured-out all that well.  You can see that quite easily if you share your not fully formed, seemingly by the seat-of-your-pants plans with others.  The majority, though not all, will immediately start questioning you, seemingly for your own good or from a well-meaning place, but really I think it comes from those deep seated fears so entrenched in out society.  Those fears are really scary to face, even second hand through the people around you.  So the natural response is to start asking all the questions that aren’t answered, the ones that seem to need to be answered immediately for any sense of stability or safety to be possible.

When we chose to give ourselves time to answer these questions not from a place of doubt and anxiety and fear, we knew that might be unsettling to those around us and we also knew we needed to have as supportive and as unquestioned space as possible for a while.  So, that’s what we gave ourselves.  It wasn’t anything personal at those around us, even if it may have seemed so.  It was for our sakes, because we knew we wanted off the merry-go-round that we had been on for far too long.  To get off it we needed to stop spinning it or allowing others to spin it for us.   We all have our own amusement rides to ride, and they aren’t going to be the same thing for everyone and that’s what makes life so diverse and exciting.

Creating a space for ourselves these past couple months is one of the best gifts we have given ourselves.  It’s kind of like having a bunch of surprises coming our way.  Surprise! This is how it is going to happen. (You’re going to figure this out slowly and from a positive state of mind.)  Surprise!  This is where you will be living.  (You have a general location but no specifics as of yet – enjoy it!) Surprise!  And this is what you will be doing. (Patience, patience.) Only we’re the surprise-ees and the surprisers, which is kind of funny to consider.

Now we keep working the momentum of this new way for ourselves and enjoy the adventure as it unfold.  This is the adventure of life.

Now, back to that basement!  Because, hey, moving day is only a month and a half away and do I REALLY need all those baskets?  No, but that one hand-basket might come in handy…

This Morning…

… my feet went visiting with the Salish Sea.

feet beach4

My (very own) Morning View

Morning View July 14, 2013

Thanks to Tammy at RowdyKittens for the inspiration and artist Jenn Gavlin from for the awesome new mug I got from her yesterday at West Seattle Summerfest! Oh, and the geocache dinosaurs, of course!


Tigger – Well Loved

IMG_5553 Tigger crop with text