In Praise of the Road Trip

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There comes a time in a family’s life

When the constant busy-ness causes some strife.

Runaway calendars, carpools from hell.

The to-do list you made continues to swell.

*

At this very time, before you explode

You decide its time we all hit the road.

You cancel appointments, you cancel them all

You then pack up the van with all it can haul.

*

The van seems to actually burst at it’s seams

So much it is packed with luggage and dreams.

As you pull out of your driveway, map in your hand

“Stop touching your brother!” Your husband demands.

*

The open road beckons with sights worth praising

The vistas and lookouts that are just plain amazing!

The van becomes littered with wrappers and bottles

And you realize your kids’ throats you don’t want to throttle.

*

It takes a few days to let go of your phone

And surrender the fact that you’re never alone

But along the way surely you realize with schmaltz

You love these three people despite all their faults.

*

You use your binoculars, your travel games too.

You laugh and you laugh until your face turns blue.

You rest and you think, you wander and roam

And pretty soon it’s time to head back towards home

*

Your road trip was filled with photos and time

To reflect on the good stuff you have with your tribe

You didn’t realize all the places you’d visit

Or how high the fines are on a speeding ticket.

*

So now that you’re home,  everyone has spread out

They’re working, in school and out and about

In your heart, warm feelings they wiggle and flow

When your mind starts reflecting on the open road.

 

 

 

photo by Barbara Paulsen at tandemechoes.com.

 

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The Bravery of Words

 

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I hope it’s okay to be silent

               in a world that is so loud and violent

I think it’s enough

               to be quietly tough

                                         in my own way a life I can brighten.

*

The acts you may think of as brave…

                           the ones that draw all the raves….

                    big deeds and big actions

give the same satisfaction

                              as the words you authentically gave.

photo by Barbara Paulsen at tandemehoes.com.

 

 

Your Skin, I’m in.

 

 

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When you are in your skin you are livin’.  Man, I mean your skin it captures you, coats you, lays it down on you.  Feeling it through and through whether be me or you.   Our skin, we are livin’.  Your skin is my skin, I be breathing your skin on mine.  Loving it, smoothing it, warm and tight.  Like a sheath it covers but never enough.  Because my skin, your skin, I feel it.  I know it like it were full of holes.  Which it is because your skin my skin are one and the same skin.  One long smooth sheet, baby.  It’s there.  Beware.  Thick or thin, your skin.  I feel it.  I’m in.

 

photo by Barbara Paulsen at tandemechoes.com.

 

She is Pretty Cool

 

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Damn this girl drives me crazy all the time, she is

Always leaving her shit around, complaining about this or that,

Under her blankets hiding her phone or otherwise

Getting on my last nerve, really knows how to

Hurt my feelings…or her sister’s or her dad’s but

Then we always forgive her anyway because we know that

Even behind the mascara and the black outfits and the door slamming,

Real girl is in there and when she comes back to us this teen thing doesn’t

Seem so bad…she even seems like herself again, and she is pretty cool.

 

 

 

this amazing photo is by Barbara Paulsen at tandemechoes.com.

 

 

Is a Screen a Door?

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It’s obligation

To look at the black mean screen

Perfect for my hand

*

The glow draws me in

Sometimes it’s simply boredom

That keeps me here, there

*

What doors would open

If I could just switch it off?

Is a screen a door?

*

Where does the door go?

I can open it by touch

Turning my mind’s knob.

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photos by Barbara Paulsen at tandemechoes.com

When Do You Feel “In Your Body”?

“I’ve always felt the brain organizes and computes while writing, but the body is the place where story lives.”— Kathleen Winter, “Writing with the Body

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Just curious, are you in your body right now?

This seems like a bizarre question.  Of course I’m in my body, you idiot!  Being in your body means more than having a body.   It means how your hands, your heart and your mind have an effect.   You know how all the self help gurus are always saying, “be present”?  This is what they are talking about.  Cut away the bullshit and pay attention.

The idea of transcendence fascinates me.  People think it happens on a yoga retreat in India, but you know what?  It  happens every fucking day.  It starts with your creativity, and how you know intrinsically what you are meant to share in the world.  By creativity, I do not mean your blue-ribbon quilting or your published book or how many followers you have (or however one defines “worth”).  I mean, what makes your heart leap?  What is it that you do that you can feel from your head to your toes?

I thought I would provide some examples of people I know, and what this means.

  • shopping second hand stores, then making something beautiful out of something that wasn’t.
  • going to a PTA meeting and speaking your mind.
  • walking miles and miles to bring awareness to an issue you care about.
  • cutting flowers from your garden and making your home beautiful.
  • writing a letter to a good friend.
  • making dinner for someone who needs to be nourished.
  • taking photos all afternoon.
  • making beer and serving it to friends.
  • turning up the music and dancing with your kids.
  • keeping a journal.
  • having a party with a theme.
  • going to your favorite band’s concert.
  • decorating your house for the holidays with your kids.
  • for me, writing a poem.

 

“…I  took a mental picture of the moment.  I looked around and thought about my life.  I felt grateful.  I noticed every detail.  That is the key to time travel.  You can only move if you are in the moment.  You have to be where you are to get where you need to go.” –Amy Poehler, Yes, Please. 

 

I really love being around people who are sharing their stories.  You can share your story in a zillion ways, many of which do not require words.  But what they do require, and what I hope we can all do in the most ordinary of ways, is be there.  Show up with your whole self.  Whenever you do that, you are in your body.  Isn’t that so awesome?

 

photo by Barbara Paulsen at tandemechoes.com

 

 

“In order to change, people need to become aware of their sensations and the way that their bodies interact with the world around them. Physical self-awareness is the first step in releasing the tyranny of the past.”
Bessel A. van der Kolk, The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma

You and Me for a Virtual Happy Hour

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Anyone who knows me knows… I love a good happy hour!  Actually I usually refer to it as “HH” because happy hour takes too long to say and I say it A LOT.

Care to join me?

If we were at happy hour right now, I would be enjoying an amber ale, thinking of autumn and falling leaves and Halloween.  I’m kinda jealous of all those people who are SO into Halloween that they carve 100 pumpkins and dress up like Lady Godiva and shop all year long for decorations and have doorbells that chime like a cackling witch.  Okay, maybe not.

If I were at happy hour right now, I would be with my besties; chilling, relaxing and dishing.  We would be planning a trip or complimenting each others’ hair or reminiscing about this or that.  We would be supporting one of us through a rough time with their kid or their job.  We would be navigating our lives with the background noise of a bar; clinking glasses, smiling faces and laughter.  Always the laughs.

If I were at happy hour right now, I would be wearing make-up.  Most of the time I cannot deal with that shit.

If I were at happy hour right now, I would be happy to be sitting.  Seems like I never sit down.  My ass perpetually longs for a place to sit itself, but most of the day it has to settle for the seat of my car between shuttling to and fro.  Plus, my aging body is clunky and sore all the time from just doing the regular stuff.  Maybe it’s better I stand.

If I were at happy hour right now, I would be grateful to have a break from my children.  But also, I would be grateful for the space to recognize what great humans they really are.  Despite the inside out skinny jeans on their bedroom floors with the underwear still attached.

If I were at happy hour right now, it might with my husband at the end of a long week.  I’m so in love with my happy-hour husband.  He is so fucking cool.  We drink, we’re alone, we talk about sex baby, it’s like 1995 again!  When we start to talk about depressing things like politics or aging, I try to change the subject back to the 90’s, like grunge and Seinfeld.

If I were at happy hour right now, and you didn’t know me, I am the short brunette (keeping the gray at bay, people) with long hair.  I am most likely laughing and throwing my head back as I do (I don’t know, it’s a thing).  I will be wearing jeans and probably a sweater as I am always cold.  In my hand will be a cold brew and on my plate will be some kind of yumminess involving cheese or meat.

In any event, if I were at happy hour right now, I’d be happy:)

Thanks to Barbara Paulsen at tandemechoes.com for the photo.

This Quote is the S**t.

“Midlife: when the Universe grabs your shoulders and tells you “I’m not f-ing around, use the gifts you were given.”     Brene Brown

My belief is that profanity, while offensive and low-minded to some, can express an emotion the way no other word can.  Of course, such expressions may be limited by your proximity to children, your current employer or your religious leader.  Please, I beg you, use profanity as the art form it is.  Don’t use it in front of those who don’t appreciate its aesthetics, or use too many curses at once.  Don’t curse just because other people around you are doing it.  Do it because you feel it.  It’s freeing.

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This quote sums up perfectly the last few years of my life.  There comes a point where something in your core screams, “WAKE UP.”  For me, the slow and painful death of my mother in law, the tedium of my husband’s career, the aging of my body and the natural curiosity of my children have all conspired to give me pause.  I mean, lots of people have told me I’m pretty awesome.  Isn’t it about time I started believing it?  And more importantly, doing something about it?

So I’ve made some changes. Nothing miraculous, I’m not making regular trips to volunteer in Haiti or anything.  But there are some things that I have accomplished.  I set goals and I stick to them.  Whenever possible, I lend a hand.  I don’t yell as much.  I forgive my skin for wrinkling, among the other indiscretions my body keeps handing me.

You see, you don’t have to be AMAZING to be amazing.  That’s really what this blog and my writing is all about.  All of us have a struggle from time to time.  The trick is actually being okay with it.  After all, you can’t have your shit together all the time.  (See how I did that?  Interjected a curse word?  You are welcome.)

The Agony of a Story Untold

Sometimes we don’t tell because we are ashamed.

We think if we don’t tell it will go away.

It doesn’t.

 

Sometimes we don’t tell because it’s too scary to say it out loud.

We worry others will judge us.

They won’t.

 

Sometimes we think we can occupy ourselves with other things.

We think it will distract us.

It works briefly.

 

Sometimes we witness the pen telling it to the paper.

We hope it will lighten the burden.

And it does.

Why I Write and… Why I Don’t

Why do I write? Hmmm...

Why do I write? Hmmm…

Asking why I write is like asking why I move, or eat or sleep.  It is not really a choice.  Even when I’m not writing, I’m writing.  The pen is moving in my mind, making stories in little thought clouds above my head.  Sometimes, like this past summer, I hardly wrote at all.  With all the sun, kids and vacations, I found it challenging to sit and write.  But all the while, I wrote stories to myself.  About the great blue ocean. And the chimes of wedding bells.  And my dog running through the tall grass.

Writing is my aspirin when the headache gets too big.  It’s my end of day glass of wine when the hours have been a burden.  It’s my salve when I’m achy and sore.  But it’s also a form of celebration; a snapshot of a memory too beloved to let fade, a trinket to look upon again and again.  It is a yummy cookie to savor not just in the baking, but in the sweet pleasure of taking a bite.

When time goes by and I haven’t written, like over the summer, I always know it’s there waiting for me.  And so I write long notes and cards, lists and this keeps me going for  awhile.  But then, writing sits and waits as if in a drawer, waiting to be inevitably opened.

Writing is patient with me, though I not always with it.  And here we are.

photo by Barbara Paulsen at tandemechoes.com.