Random Thoughts from a Random Mind

This has been a gray week. My mind has been in a muddle, where words, ideas, thoughts, frustrations, hopes, and fear all wander through the fog that seeps into my brain from the outside–from the weather–and makes me feel unable to accomplish anything. Today, however, the golden fall sunshine seems to have decided to make an appearance, and with it comes the urge to clear out the fog that is in my brain and find some sense and meaning.

The golden sunshine begins.

Of course, that’s not easy, so today I will be writing one of those posts that follow the whim of my words and thoughts. Stream of conscious rambling to clear the murkiness and lay down a path toward clarity. I understand if you don’t decided to follow along. I’m not sure I would. :) I’ll try my best to give meaning to my words.

The Randomness of Blogging: Some of you have noticed that I haven’t been blogging regularly for a while. Some have mentioned it when I comment. Some have e-mailed or said something on Facebook. Most haven’t reacted at all, which is no surprise. What has been surprising to me is that suddenly I have been getting new followers. (Welcome to all of you who have joined me recently.) Why is this surprising? Well, I haven’t been writing a lot. I have been commenting and I try to always respond to comments on my posts, but it’s not like I’ve been making any new statements or ranting about society or contributing to poetry or prose. Yet somehow I’m getting followers. Blogging is so random sometimes.

The Randomness of Writing: The last time I posted, I reported on the status of my book.  I have worked on it some more, but this week, mired in the muddle of my mind, I feel like I’ve hit another road block. I don’t have writer’s block, exactly, but I can’t seem to find the focus that I had last week. Does weather do that to you ever? How do you make your way through the murk?

The Randomness of Fall: I love fall. It has always been my favorite season. I love the smells, the colors, the quality of light. I would rather be outside on a warm fall day than on a hot summer day.  I love the flavors of fall; the cinnamon and apples, caramel and pumpkin spice.

Apple picking a couple of weeks ago.

But this fall seems particularly random, or off in some way. It feels like the leaves have turned too early. Some trees have already lost their leaves, while others still cling to the green of summer. The weather changes in the blink of an eye (I know, I know, I live in New England). From blazing hot days to shivering cold. From moments of sunshine to moments of gloom.  At least, however, those variations bring with them rainbows.

Driving home on a gloomy fall day.

This fall I feel disoriented and confused, but I have a theory why. It may, of course, have a little to do with global warming, but I’d rather blame it on the nauseating election season. The fumes and negativity, vicious attacks, ridiculousness, and everything else is leaking into the atmosphere and disturbing the beauty of my favorite season. I have decided to avoid it all now. I won’t discuss it. I won’t debate. I won’t listen to debates.  I won’t engage. Instead, I’m going to focus on the color, the light, the smells and the tastes of my favorite season and recognize when it’s time let go and focus on the joy.

Joy can be found in the smallest achievements.

The Randomness of Life: Yesterday I was listening to Studio 360. The show included an interview with Andrew McCarthy (of Pretty in Pink fame) who went on, after Hollywood to create a career as a travel writer. Listening to his interview, as well as an interview with Oskar Eustis, Artistic Director of the Public Theatre in New York, made me think about the reality and randomness of our paths in life.

Pretty in Pink

Pretty in Pink (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Very few people follow a straight path throughout their life, knowing from the beginning where they want to go and finding their way their without twists and turns. Life doesn’t function that way. A man who became well-known in 80′s movies, went on to discover his voice in the discomfort of travel. A boy who was a near runaway at 14 went on to become one of the most powerful voices in theatre in the country, after realizing that acting wasn’t his route. My own path, and even my destination, are still so very unclear, but it is the very randomness of that journey that makes each day one full of possibility, even in my confusion and my darker moments.

I now choose to define success in my own terms, even if that form is not recognizable in the eyes of others. I also choose to enjoy the randomness of the journey. It will be interesting to look back at the end and see where I have been.

So there you have it folks, random thoughts from a random mind.

What kind of randomness are you thinking about today?

From Floods to Fairies and Future Possibilities

Thursday dawned with good intentions. I was going to explore the area a little more in search of a coffee shop/book store that looked ideal for my needs. I was going to do a little job searching and take advantage of that coffee shop internet. At home, I was going to work on strengthening my resumes and perhaps unpacking some more or painting Sarah’s room.

Then came the deluge.

It had been raining much of the night, but it seemed to come down harder in the early morning hours. Just before Sarah set off for school, I suggested to Nathan that we might want to check the basement for water since our landlords had warned us of the possibility of minor flooding.

After soggy Sarah climbed onto the bus, Nathan went down to check.  ”Oh, I see a little water,” he called up. “I’m going to vacuum it up!”

A few minutes pass. “CALL THE LANDLORDS! I CAN’T STOP IT!”

I call the landlords, and as I do, I glance out the back door toward the deck, to see water pouring downhill toward us in three glorious (though small) cascades.

Our personal waterfalls

Then I headed downstairs to find water spread across the entire lower level, reaching up to my ankles. Nathan was desperately moving boxes onto plastic tubs to protect them. The garage that contained most of the boxes still waiting for unpacking, although not completely covered had several large puddles. You could see where the water was pouring in through various cracks and it was incredible.

We managed to get all the boxes up. Most of them contain the books that I can’t unpack without more shelves. Thank goodness we brought extra plastic tubs.

Then we began using a wet vac to suck the water out. The vacuum held 9 gallons at a time, and before our landlords got there with a sump pump I’m sure we had sucked out well over 100 gallons, with little to show for it. Sump pump in, we kept sucking, and the landlords went and bought a second sump pump. Eventually Nathan had to get to work, but we kept plugging. The rain stop and the sun made an effort to come out. Finally, about 4 hours later, we left the dehumidifier to battle whatever moisture remained on the floor and called it good.

After that adventure I lost any enthusiasm, ability, or even focus to allow me to concentrate on achieving the goals I had set out. I wasn’t going to look for the coffee shop with road had puddles up to the bottom of my car. The boxes looked overwhelming, and my resumes are intimidating. So what did I do?

I painted.

Before we left Colorado I had a sudden urge to oil paint. I’ve never oil painted in my life, and never had any training with oils. I painted two pictures, well one and a half. The first I call “The Dream Home”, and while I don’t love how the tree came out in it, I think it was a pretty good first shot.

I’ll have to add a picture of it later as I forgot to take one and load it onto my computer.

The half painting was something I was calling “Fairy Home” and I had only gotten so far before I got intimidated and stopped. When we unpacked art, we found this painting, and Sarah said, “I like that Mommy. When it is done can I hang it in my room?”

So I decided to finish it. Please be kind:

Finally I closed Thursday down to crawl into bed exhausted and unsure after what seems like another in a series of chaotic events in my life.

But Friday began a new day, with a dry basement, internet access at a good coffee shop, and plans to go to a huge antique sale for the afternoon. Of course, first we had to deal with the bureaucracy of registering our car and getting our driver’s licenses. I won’t dwell on that, however, as I am sure we have all had our horror stories–and this one was comparatively benign although annoying at the time.

As I waded through 130+ e-mails and realized I could not catch up on all the blogging friends and other business, I found a miracle. A potential job teaching kids acting classes on Saturday mornings at a professional theater in Boston area. I jumped on it, quickly wrote a cover letter and sent off my resume. Who knows what will happen, but it was a positive step. Then I embarrassed myself by e-mailing something to a fellow blogger that was purely the fiction of my own mind, but I won’t go into that either.

Today I registered Sarah for dance class and was talking to the owner of the studio. As I did, I decided to take a leap, and told her about myself to see if she might be interested in using me in some capacity. Another miracle, she said “Yes!” It is all tentative and talk right now, but at least I put myself out there.

So, through floods and fairies I finally feel like I may be moving forward.

Care to join me in a ROAR of VICTORY?!

The Joys and Pains of Packing for a Move

  1. Joy: The opportunity to convince your daughter that her collection of pebbles, twigs, candy wrappers, crumpled notes, buttons, ribbons, cute “things”, rub-on tattoos, birthday party swag, and miscellaneous bits of plastic is, in fact, trash.
  2. Pain:  Convincing that stubborn 8-year-old of #1.
  3. JoyThe opportunity to convince your husband that his collection of wood, twigs, puppet making material, mysterious technology, random comic books, bizarre games and other strange things is, in fact, not necessary.
  4. Pain: Helping that same husband stick to the plan, and sacrificing some of your own precious collectibles to the cause.
  5. Joy: Sorting through the books you have read, gathered over the years, and remembering them with fondness.
  6. Pain: Letting go of some of those precious book friends in the name of a lighter load.
  7. Joy: The chance to weed through your closets and donate or discard clothes that have served their purpose.
  8. Pain: The realization that many of those clothes are still fabulous, but represent a person who existed many years or sizes in the past.  :(
  9. Joy: The memories brought as you wrap up treasured tchotkes gathered through your life adventures thus far.
  10. Pain: Those same memories reminding you of the friends you will leave now, and the friends you have left in the past.
  11. JoyFinally giving the house that thorough cleaning that it has needed for so long.
  12. PainFinally giving the house that thorough cleaning that it has needed for so long.
  13. Joy: Imagining how you will set up your new home, and that THIS TIME you are going to be super organized and keep everything neat.
  14. Pain: Not knowing for sure where your new home will be.

And so the fun begins. Feel free to add to this list in the comments below!

On the Road Again . . . Into the Unknown

I’ve always had the secret fantasy of becoming a singer in a band, sharing music with the masses as I travel from town to town. I have the hidden urge to be a song writer, but that would require me to become much more fluent in the language of music then I currently am. Of course, I can read it a little better now, since I decided to start studying piano last year, but I lost the fluency of my youth.

But this post isn’t about music, or about my secret dreams. It is about journeys and our path through life.  I would have to argue that “journey of life” is one of my guiding metaphors, but I’ve forgotten that recently. In my desire to “find home” or find a place to belong, I’ve forgotten the motto I adopted earlier this year in a post called “The Journey” .  [Some days I AMAZE myself with my creativity and originality :P ]

We are about to embark on the next journey.  Literally and figuratively. If I can ever get my family moving, we will begin the 8 hour drive back to Independence, KS. Then we begin the job of packing our little house up to begin the journey to the next phase of our lives in Massachusetts. We still don’t know for sure where we will live once we get there (but I have found a rental I hope). I still have no idea what work will come my way once we get there (except for a definite class in the spring).

We say farewell to our summer home, which is always bittersweet. Okoboji Summer Theater is a unique and magical microcosm, that is almost a fantasy. We are surrounded by people who love creating good theater. We live and breathe quality work. We do not need to worry about food, or shopping, or any of the basic chores of survival (beyond laundry and cleaning up) and we can walk out the door and be at our work. In many ways, this is heaven.

For me, this summer has been complex, to say the least, but overall rewarding. My family hopes to return next summer, and I do to.  I only hope that, in that return, I can feel more confident in my own purpose here and contribute a little more. I have already applied to teach for the ArtsLIVE camp that I helped out at this summer, and if that comes through I’ll feel more confident about the whole thing.

But again, this is not about our summer, it is about life’s journeys.

Today our journey continues. I wonder where it leads?

All We Need to Know About Life

I don’t know where this originated but I stole . . . um borrowed this from my friend’s Facebook page because I found it full of inspiration and truth.

Here’s the thing, life is not worth living if we spend all our time worrying and stressing over things beyond our control.  Life should be something we embrace every day with passion and joy.

I am hereby making a promise to myself to live my life as joyously as possible. I’m going to trust the universe to provide what I need, and meanwhile I am going to continue to work towards achieving the dreams and goals that I have for my life.

What exactly are those dreams and goals? Well they seem to be every-changing, but that’s okay. I happened to read a quote today from Martha Steward (not one of my usual sources, I admit). She said,

“My new motto is: When you’re through changing, you’re through. “

Changing dreams and goals is part of living. Learning how to embrace those changes to live a fulfilled and happy life is perhaps the most important thing we can do as individuals.

Again, I ask myself, what are my dreams and goals? I can only answer for this moment in time, but here is my list in no particular order of importance:

  • Give Sarah a life full of opportunity, learning, and travel.
  • Travel myself to visit all the places I still dream of heading (including England, Ireland, Nepal, Australia, New Zealand, Greece, Alaska, revisiting Bali and Japan, and many places I haven’t even thought of yet).
  • Write several books that actually get read, some for young adults, some non-fiction, some for adults.
  • Direct some more professional productions for adults.
  • Direct some more professional productions for children.
  • Actually make a living as an independent, freelance writer/theater educator/theater artist
  • Develop arts programming that makes a difference in people’s lives.
  • Have a home that is my own. It doesn’t have to be huge, but something comfortable where we can live, create, and grow together as a family.
  • Write a script and create a puppet show with/for Nathan.
  • Find a way to merge my love of teaching/mentoring young women with all of the other passions of my life.
  • Meet some of my favorite blogging buddies live and in person. ;)
  • Become healthy in body, mind and soul.

The list is long but not impossible. It is also a list that can last years, or change with time. I think for me it is not about achieving goals in a specific time period, but enjoying the journey as I work toward those goals.

All we need to know about life, then, is that life is worth living as passionately and beautifully as possible.

A Letter of Apology

Map of USA with Kansas highlighted

Image via Wikipedia

Dear Kansas,

I am sorry if you think I hate you. I don’t. I have struggled in my time here, but only because of my own problems not because of you.

I recognize the many wonderful things about you. I’ve been so impressed by the volunteerism in this community, from helping with arts programming to giving time and supplies after natural disasters, this community supports each other. I’ve met incredible people here, especially some lovely women who have become the woman I want to be, living vibrant fulfilled lives fighting for what they believe in, and creating what they want to see happen. I have had great opportunities here, to do interesting work with wonderful people.

Yet, some believe that I hate everything about Kansas. I don’t. I have struggled a little because I am extremely liberal, and most of Kansas is not. I’m to blame there. I have  struggled a little with some sexism, but I can face that anywhere. I have struggled a little because of loneliness, when a high pressure job took my partner’s complete attention. That’s not Kansas’ fault.  I have struggled a little because I am very different. Perhaps that is my fault too. I’m sorry if you think I’ve expressed hate when exploring these topics on my blog, because that was not my intent. My intent was to explore the issues I don’t understand and try to understand them.  As I wrote in a recent post:

As I provided the details of my life I had the first revelation–I am happy with many of the professional experiences I’ve had this year. True, some things (like the classes from hell and the battle between athletics and the arts) made life a cruel challenge. But, on a personal and professional growth level, I’ve learned so much this year and it has been more successful than some of my experiences in Durango.

Several of the people I’ve talked to have asked why I am not happy. What’s wrong with Kansas?

I can’t fully answer that question except to say that it is not home. I do not feel like I match the place. But, if home is “what we cobble together out of our changing selves” could I turn the place into home? Well, it is possible, but I don’t know that I will ever fully succeed.

So please forgive me, Kansas, for not being able to make you home. Sometimes people and places simply do not fit together. But, that does not mean I won’t hold you as special in my heart. For this was the  year, I made wonderful friends. This was the year, I created art. This was the year, I discovered my strengths and my weaknesses as a person. This was the year, I learned to follow my heart.

I couldn’t have done that without you, Kansas. So, if I have insulted you in any way, or made you feel disrespected, I am truly sorry. You will never be forgotten.

Lisa, the confused transplant from Massachusetts

Cosmic Dance

This post comes from the inspiration of three different women, which just shows the power and complexity of this magnificent world I call the “Blogosphere”.  Today, Darla at She’s a Maineiac wrote the lovely poem called “Radiance at Last” in response to a challenge made by Val Erde who provided inspiration in the form of this  magnificent painting by her

Painting by Val Erde at Absurd Old Bird

A few days ago, Priya at Partial View wrote “Dismissed too Soon”a magnificent post that incorporates photography and poetry to explore issues of life and death. She used the form of etheree, which she also explains:

An etheree comprises of 10 lines. It begins with a one syllable line, increasing one syllable per line until the last line of ten syllables. The syllable count of the entire poem is 55. The syllabic structure, therefore, is 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-10, and is unmetered and unrhymed.

Since I seem to be dipping into the creative energy pool of the universe, I thought I’d make an attempt at an etheree based off of this painting.  Here I go:


Twirls of joy
Of passion filled life.
Cosmic forces singing
Creating a song of truth
Heard by those who feel the power
of life, of energy, of love and
the cosmic swirl of colors in the dance!

Following Intuition and Learning from Oprah

I have Nathan well-trained. When we go through the check-out at grocery stores he goes ahead to take care of paying while I get my fix of the headlines on all the magazines lining the aisles. I particularly love to read the trashier headlines because they either make me giggle or cringe out of share absurdity. I rarely, if ever, purchase an actual magazine (except for the inevitable holiday cookie one that always entices me with alluring new cookie possibilities).

Yesterday, however, O: The Oprah Magazine caught my eye as it often does, because the covers are always gorgeous. I admit to the occasional purchase because O always includes articles that speak to things I might be going through.

“Let Your Intuition Be Your Guide: Uncovering Answers to Your Deepest Questions”

The cover story called to me, and my little friend intuition nudged me to pick up the magazine and place it into the pile of purchase items. Either that was clever marketing or an intuitive call, but I’m glad I made the purchase anyway as it is a step toward trusting myself that I need to make.

Here’s a link to the article by Martha Beck that has lead me to write this post today.

The reasons this struck a chord with me involves a series of recent signs and messages that seem to be occurring in my life, including:

  • Vicky’s post called “Crossroads” which made me think  about how and when we should make the choice to take the riskier option and follow our bliss.
  • The unexpected fire in the home we had planned on renting, that put some kinks in our plans and also pointed out some severe flaws in our current situation.
  • The surprising possibility that has opened up which I will elaborate on sometime next week as I don’t want to jinx it.
  • My growing realization that following the path that others expect of me has never really made me happy.

The challenge, of course, is learning to understand the signs along the way, and listen to the quiet nudges of my inner bliss rather than the horrible screech of my inner critic and conformist.

But, thanks to my guilty pleasure of reading headlines in the supermarket, I am now taking a few more steps toward becoming the person I truly want to be.

Instinct tells me I’m on the right path.

Bizarre Twists of Fate

“Fate, or some mysterious force, can put the finger on you or me, for no good reason at all.” (Martin Goldsmith)

The Tree Fates by Steve Hook

Fate twists  a strand of curly blond hair around her finger and laughs a wicked little giggle.

“Sisters,” she says. “It is time to push buttons for our favorite playthings. They have become a little complacent, and need to be nudged. ”

“But not delicately,” the red-headed sister adds.  ”Let us shove rather than nudge. It is so much fun to watch them squirm as we throw the unexpected in their way.”

“Let’s do it!” The raven-haired sister calls out and begins to dance.

All three sisters spin and twirl, moving slowly at first. Then the dance gains speed and power, sending electrical sparks into the air, scattering like fireflies in a passionate ballet.

One spark flies all the way to a shabby little home filled with the memories of an old woman who no longer has control of her thoughts. Her granddaughter sorts through the detritus of years; collectibles and letters, pictures and albums, wishes and dreams. She plans to store some, give some to other family members, donate some, and sell what she can to help defray the costs of her grandmother’s care. Once the house is cleared out, she plans to rent it to some new friends to help them achieve some goals and make their life a little less stressful.

But the eyes of fate are on these friends, and the dance has begun.

The mysterious spark flies faster and sneaks into the electrical outlets biding its time until nobody is in the house. This game is not intended to hurt physically, only challenge mentally.

The house goes up in flames, taking with it the memories, the love, and the future home.

Meanwhile one of the sister’s sends a thought into another woman’s mind. “It is time to welcome a new renter so give him a call,” she whispers silently. The phone call is made. A verbal agreement set.

And the two stories collide.

“The house we planned to move into burnt down this morning. Can we stay?”

“Oh, wow! I just sort of promised your house to someone else. I guess I can still call him and back out.”

A day passes and the couple thinks things are safe. But they aren’t.

“I don’t feel comfortable backing out on him unless you commit to at least 9 months in the house. Can you do that? Oh, and the powers that be have decided to keep the status quo with the job–there will be no additional money or help.”

Commit to another 9 months with a job that is basically destroying the marriage of our fated couple?  What kind of game is this?

The fates simply laugh and wait to see the choices our couple will now make. How will this path unfold?

Only time will tell.

Random Thoughts from a Road Trip


Image via Wikipedia

I had another long drive today, this time without the benefit of a book on tape. So, as I let the radio scan in search of NPR stations to keep me entertained, my thoughts bounced around in a bizarre and random fashion to include these gems:

  • Religion is really just about controlling when, how, and why we have sex.
  • After catching part of  a story about the randomness of the borderline between the US and Mexico: Lines connect but they also separate. If we could only erase all lines (even the invisible ones) maybe we would have more luck getting along with each other as an amorphous mass of living creatures.
  • Why don’t more people understand that most of the problems in the world come from a small group of people who cannot see beyond their own wallets?
  • 5 Hour Energy is really just a jolt of caffeine that tricks you into thinking it lasts longer. For some reason it makes me want to conduct orchestras as I found myself listening to classical music and conducting with my left hand.
  • Who pays for all the Jesus/Abortion signs?
  • Why don’t I like listening to music while I drive anymore? Of course, that changes if it is a truly singable song, but the only ones I want to sing come from my childhood. What does that mean?
  • Do I have a sign on my car that says “slow down in front of me” and drive me insane?

There you have it folks. Random thoughts from someone who has been driving too much lately.