27 March 2020

Good Giving Up - Greenough Park, Missoula, Montana

"So often our focus is on supporting the identities and structures that were put in place for us by the more powerful damaged people in the family as caricatures of themselves. Giving up even one of these identities can be threatening to the organism. But the willingness to change comes when the pain of staying where you are is too great….”  -Anne Lamott, p. 212 of Almost Everything

26 March 2020

Stuck - Rattlesnake Creek, Missoula, Montana

"…the natural fixation that you can rescue your kids, and ought to. 
Your good ideas for them would certainly straighten them out and help them make healthier choices. These would help you enjoy life more, too, so what’s the harm in your little suggestions, demands, funding?

The harm is in the unwanted help or helping them when they need to figure things out for themselves.
Help is the sunny side of control.
There is nothing outside them, nothing they can date, buy, or achieve, that will fill the hole in side them or help them hit the reset button. 
But it’s very productive of you to try, and try, although they tend to get sicker, as do you. Plus, they start to hate you. So there’s that.
-Anne Lamott, p.57 of Almost Everything

25 March 2020

Of Unlearning and Relearning - Missoula, Montana

“The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read or write,
 it will be those who cannot learn, unlearn and relearn.”
 - Alvin Toffler (1928-2016), apparently a combined paraphrase of Toffler's words and Toffler quoting Herbert Gerjuoy, in Future Shock, p. 414

23 March 2020

Great Expectations - Rattlesnake Creek, Missoula, Montana

"Families are hard partly because of expectations, that the people in them are supposed to mesh, and expectations are resentments under construction
You can’t hide much within the cell membrane of a house…It shocks me how hurtful and annoying we can be to the people in our families. The weight of the family makes us helpless, and in trying to make sure the helplessness doesn’t utterly flatten us, we may throw the dart at someone else.
-Anne Lamott, p. 212 of Almost Everything

20 March 2020

Space For Legit Joy - Rattlesnake Creek via Greenough Park, Missoula, Montana

In these very odd times of space and quiet,
  may you seek and find genuine joy.
Toward that end, a few thoughts:
"That we are designed for joy is exhilarating, within reach, now or perhaps later today, after a nap, as long as we do not mistake excitement for joy.
Joy is good cheer. My partner says joy and curiousity are the same thing. 
Joy is always a surprise, & often a decision.
Joy is portable. Joy is a habit, and these days,
    it can be a radical act.”
-Anne Lamott, p.70 of Almost Everything

14 February 2020

On Loneliness and Aloneness - Rattlesnake Creek, Missoula, Montana

“I remember my grandfather telling me how each of us must live with a full measure of loneliness that is inescapable, and we must not destroy ourselves with our passion to escape the aloneness.” 
Jim Harrison (1937-2016)

12 February 2020

Stopping By Snowy Woods - Rattlesnake Creek, Missoula, Montana

Stopping in the woods on a snowy afternoon....
 not quite the classic Robert Frost poem (and no little horse with me - so sad!), but definitely was a lovely and calming pause along the lines of
 "...The only other sound’s the sweep 
  Of easy wind and downy flake."(from Robert Frost's Stopping By The Woods On A Snowy Evening)

08 February 2020

Microclimate View 2 - Greenough Park, Missoula, Montana

Because it was such a tiny, charming, feisty thing, here is another view of yesterday's brave winter-woods plant. (Look at those cunning little bristles!)

07 February 2020

Woodsy Microclimate - Missoula, Montana

During this cozy winter season, I've been pondering microclimates - partly within the ongoing "when it's spring" dreaming of likely locations to dig holes in the yard and plant glorious things. And then partly after a conversation with a hard-core don't-rock-the-boat co-worker who mentioned how she politely piped up in a meeting in which she previously would have kept mum. To my "hip-hip-hooray!" (not full volume, of course!) she replied, Oh, I wouldn't have done it if Colleagues A & B hadn't been in the meeting. Ba-BAM! - instant microclimate musing slides out my mouth!  I mean, so very obvious, right? (Kidding - I realize my brain hopping is quite random about at times...)  
In northern gardening, the short story on a microclimate is that some plants which won't normally survive your climate zone will thrive if you locate them in a specifically sheltered and beneficial spot. (Think: sunny exposure, against a fence or wall, sheltered from wind, good crumbly soil, friendly earthworms...) 
Comparatively, the gist of my related musing is that we create our own microclimates to enable us to endure and even thrive in otherwise soul-killing situations (or soul-freezing scenarios, to be a little less dramatic). In my co-worker's situation, the shelter of got-my-back colleagues strengthened her core and allowed her to bloom. 
I think the warmth and protection of others who care is a fairly common tactic we often leverage without even realizing it. As another example, Delightful Daughter vehemently shakes her head at the mention of  performing solo in public, but has no problem getting on a large stage with some friends, whether in a music setting or in her earlier life as part of an amazing competition cheer team. Personally, I've learned I am spurred more to productive action when in the company of people I love who also love me. And conversely, I know I need at least a few quiet-&-alone, unobligated Saturday mornings to reconstitute my very self.
And then there are the tangible microclimates of small, daily comforts - perhaps a cup of delightfully aromatic tea to ease our stress, with a little bonus aromatherapy.  Or a bracing winter walk to recalibrate optimism amidst a soul-sucking workday. Or finally saying an un-guilty and resounding "yes!"to that attainable activity we keep putting off but it just really makes us happy in an I-can't-stop-smiling-this-silly-smile kind of way.
There's more to be mined on this topic...but that's quite enough out of me for today. 
Pause to ponder briefly, and I bet you'll soon see the shape of your very own charming stacked stone wall built of unmatched chunks of warm care. (Please do share in the comment segment below!)

05 February 2020

Walks Like A Duck - Grant Creek, Missoula, Montana

Last night's cold snap shifted the usual paddling exercise to a walkabout....Perfect for this gutsy song I've had stuck in my head for a few days - "Walking on Water" by Need to Breathe.
  And speaking of ducks, here's a little silly something to brighten this overcast day:
“...He takes a kitchen chair and sits in the yard and all the ducks come around. He holds up the cheese curls in one hand and caramel popcorn in the other and his audience looks up and he tells them a joke. 
He says: So one day a duck come into this bar and ordered a whiskey and a bump and the bartender was pretty surprised, he says, "You know we don't get many of you ducks in here." The duck says, "At these prices I'm not surprised.* 
And he tosses out the popcorn and they laugh. 'Wak wak wak wak wak...""