Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Scrub a Dub Dub

I hate to clean. Scratch that. I hate to clean in a house with a husband, two children, and a dog. It feels like you never get ahead. You go into one room and work your scrubbing magic. Return a mere 15 minutes later and it's back to chaos. Grrrr!

It isn't all their fault, I'll admit. My love-hate relationship with cleaning has been years in the making. Childhood even. You see, my mom, she is a crazy cleaner. A scrubber. A put-on-those-ugly-plastic-gloves-and-scrub-the-daylights-out-of-something kind of woman. My mom would scrub when angry, frustrated, or sad. Our house always shined.

I had a few chores, too. My mom would leave the perfectly typed list dangling from the fridge listing three chores for each day. The chores I was assigned always involved organizing (my better love!), picking up, or putting away, but never scrubbing. Deep cleaning was her mission and an escape from life's frustrations.

My escape? Books. I would spend all day reading, lost in the world of someone else's imagination, and then rush through my chores the last few minutes before my mom returned home. It was a neck-breaking race to the finish line. It was never rewarding, but it always got done. Even to this day, I would rather be lost in a story than a sink full of suds. This is, perhaps, why my house never shines.

This week, however, I am tackling a new cleaning strategy. I printed off a cleaning schedule I found with three chores in the morning and then three different chores at night, rotating items seven days a week. If you do those simple chores each day, your house is pretty much cleaned top-to-bottom in one week. Then begin again. Shiny, shiny, shiny.

So far, it's been good. Not amazing, of course, but more manageable, and the productive feeling of keeping a shiny house is coming back to me. I also love my perfectly typed chore list dangling from my fridge. It reminds me of a woman who worked hard and did an amazing job, so I could spend time in faraway places, dreaming my big dreams. 

Here's to paying it forward with a happier heart. I sure hope I can keep up.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Ugly, Heartfelt, Inspiring Seeds

A few years ago at a work conference, I was given a seed of happiness. It's not actually a seed. It's a crazily formed lump of clay with a smashed nose and crooked smile. It stares at me every time I sit down to write. In a real writing slump, which is often, I roll it between my palms as I ponder. 

The story behind these seeds is a simple one. Kindness. Mark, a sculptor in St. Louis, decided to make something meaningful out of life's leftovers. He took his left-over pieces of clay and formed them into small smiley faces, then painted them like a rainbow. He took his first one to a friend's son, who was dying of cancer, because he didn't know what to say, or what to do, but he wanted to make him smile. A Seed of Happiness was born.

The best thing about these ugly, heartfelt, inspiring seeds is you can't buy just one. You have to buy a whole pack, 10 or more, so you can give them away. While you are always welcome to keep one, and roll it between your hands when lost, true kindness comes in sharing the crooked smile with others. Paying it forward, passing it along.

The truth is we are all homely lumps of clay, made in all shapes and crazy colors, trying to be something beautiful in this world. It's the kindness that ultimately defines us. The passing of our smiles and the act of giving ourselves away.   

Saturday, August 10, 2013

The Music of Poets

I love the way words come together. How they make you feel when put together perfectly, or even how they make you see the world so much differently. I can't tell you how many times I've read a line in a novel and thought, "Damn, I wish I would have written that!" Song lyrics are no exception to my envy.

My husband often jokes that I have a melancholy soul when it comes to music. How do you not love the music of poets? Couple that will some acoustic guitar, maybe even a ukulele, and the tears start flowing. I want my music to move me!

In the search for my musical poets, I always turn to NPR's Tiny Desk for that unique blend. I am never disappointed, including yesterday when I stumbled upon Keaton Henson. Maybe it's his gentle demeanor, his heartfelt lyrics, or his mesmerizing voice, but I could not quit listening or look away. I cried the whole time I listened to the last song called "You."

"If you must wait, wait for them here in my arms while I shake. If you must weep, do it right here in my bed as I sleep. If you must mourn, my love, mourn with the moon and the stars up above. If you must mourn, don't do it alone."

Here is some Keaton Henson poetry, my friends. May you feel it down to your very soul.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Chicken Little and Some Discipline

Chicken Little was right. The sky is falling. The proof is that I'm writing two days in a row. Intentionally.  

I often talk to my friend, Mel, about my writing process. Or, more accurately, my lack of writing. I have lots of excuses, but my go-to excuse is always the same. No time and, maybe the even bigger hurdle, I have this huge amount of self-doubt that what I write won't matter. To anyone. 

It paralyzes me. I don't write until inspiration, or a deep-felt experience, comes and about knocks me over the head. Even then, I'm cautious. If I write it, I want to really feel it. The pace of my crazy, parenting, full-scheduled life has numbed me. It is a vicious excuse cycle.

The secret to great writing, as it turns out, isn't actually a big secret. Almost every writer knows intuitively what makes them a writer. Discipline. The big D. Setting aside time each day to write. And then actually doing it! You write when you're uninspired. You write through your hectic life. You write when you're up or down. Then, you keep writing some more.

Writing is my gift. I don't know if I've always viewed it that way, but I do now. It's not a gift because I'm going to write a bestseller, or change the world with my words, or figure out (finally!) what is meaningful to you. It's a gift because when I'm writing I'm home. I'm exactly who I am doing exactly what I do.

Almost every time Mel and I talk, she always has the same question for me. Have you been writing? While my answer is usually no, it is her loving way of reminding me that what I love to do is out there. Waiting. I just need to sit down in the chair and begin.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

My Bucket List....Bob Goff Style!

Bob Goff wrote a book called Love Does. I could sit here and tell you how fabulous and wonderful and amazing it is, but that doesn't even begin to do it justice. For me, it was life changing. 

Goff lives each day pursuing love, adventure, whimsy, and meaningful relationships. He doesn't just think of living a life fully engaged, he actually does it. Every story, inspiration. Every struggle, learning. Every encounter, meant to be part of your story.

This is exactly why my copy of Love Does is battle worn. I often re-read a chapter or two a week (nerdy, but true!) to soak up the inspiration. Tonight, I came upon the part where he talks about taking his friends on his bright blue classic motorcycle, complete with a sidecar. A whimsy mobile at its finest!

He says, "When I pass by people they smile because they've never been in a sidecar, but I can tell they wish they were the passenger. Whimsy is a lot like that--it needs to be fully experienced to be known. Whimsy doesn't care if you are the driver or the passenger; all that matters is that you are on your way."

I added "ride in the sidecar of a motorcycle" to my bucket list shortly after reading this chapter. I did want to ride in a sidecar. I also wanted to have more adventures. So, I started writing down my bucket list, not just keeping a random list in my head, to ensure I would actually start DOING them. And I have. Slowly, but surely.

But, it occurred to me tonight, I don't often ask people to join me in my adventures. While I say yes to joining anyone who needs a partner in their adventure (like my friend, Mari, who invited me go to a Pink concert in November to check it off her bucket list), I often drive solo thru my own journey. I never ask anyone to get in the sidecar.

Starting now, I am officially amending my adventure mindset. Below is my working bucket list and you are all invited to join me, friends. If you see one that strikes your fancy, let me know. I'll give you a shout when the adventure is about to begin. 

My Bucket List
1. Walk my kids to school everyday. Enjoy every minute.
2. Stand on the side of the street with a "Free Hugs" sign.
3. Only buy local or go without.
4. Hear Anne Lamott speak again.
5. Learn to play lacrosse.
6. Hear live music at Red Rocks, Colorado.
7. Sisters photo shoot.
8. Act in a community theater production or at least have the balls to audition.
9. Learn to auctioneer.
10. Roll a Chipotle burrito. No rips.
11. Milk a goat and/or learn to make goat cheese.
12. Ride in a motorcycle sidecar (yes, still on the list!)
13. Hike Yosemite.
14. Get invited to Bob Goff's cabin for a sleepover.
15. Lunch or coffee with Stephanie Meyer.
16. Visit national parks to sniff more trees.

Lastly, if you happen to be working your bucket list and need a sidekick, I am your girl. I repeat. I AM YOUR GIRL!