Your Problem = The Solution… True Story

The YFR&ZAR is far, far away from everything everywhere. I’ve dubbed it the geographical oddity, 40 minutes from everywhere. We love the remote location, love that we can garden in our underwear, though we don’t, it’s just that it’s an option, we love having horses and chickens and goats. Farm living is pleasing to me.

What we don’t love is the Internet service. More accurately the fact that we haven’t had service but we have had large sums of money given to service providers who did not, in all actuality, provide service.

This we have dealt with for almost four years. More than three and a half long, painful and frustrating years. Sometimes we would have service and then all the little school children would return home and suck the teat of interwebs dry. I admit I cursed their names.

Chase even begged us to go to the beach house not because he loves the coast but because service there is good. City good.problem solved

The worst part of the whole thing was that we knew there was no solution. It was what it was and we couldn’t fix it.

And my frustration grew and I hated the Internet providers and I cursed the school children and every time Mr Dreamboat went on a business trip I resented him because I knew he had good Internet service… and room service…

But here’s the thing. I finally got frustrated enough and I knew I was sending out all sorts of bad energy by cursing school children.

And then I remembered that if there’s a problem there is also a solution.

I’ve had a few problems in my day, and Internet service doesn’t even make the top 100 most difficult. Thus, I knew the solution must be within reach. So I began.

I won’t tell you that it solved itself in one fell swoop, but simply beginning to act as if there is a solution actually creates pathways to a solution. Perhaps it even creates the solution.

Mr Dreamboat can safely return from a business trip and not expect my subconscious Internet resentment unleashed on his loving soul. Lucky boy.

As soon as I began my search I knew there was a solution not far off. While it was a simple problem, it served to remind me that all problems, by definition, have at least one solution.

Honestly, I’m glad I had a problem and that it served to remind me there will always be a solution. Always. No exceptions.

Having tackled the Internet demon, restored the good name of innocent school children everywhere, I am now confident that the bigger problems in my life are simply aching to be resolved. Let the wild rumpus start!

Like, share, comment, tweet and throw caution to the wind and change the world one solution at a time.

Whacky Facts About Love ~ A List Of Ten

To say that the world is weird is like saying fire is hot. It’s almost the same thing. Lest we throw humans under the bus, let us hark back to Mother Nature. We are her children and we are apples not far fallen from that same whacky tree.

Love is as natural as breathing. It is as strange and beautiful as we. Here are ten things I find peculiar about our love affair with love.

1. Despite the media’s and Hollywood’s attempts to show us beauty through airbrushed images and stars who dubbed freakishly perfect, we love whom we love. Biology wins and flying your freak flag isn’t going to keep you from procreating. Enjoy!

2. It is simultaneously true that opposites attract and we seek companionship with those whose strengths compliment our own. Mr Dreamboat and I are no exception to the dichotomy. We are the same, we are so very different.

3. We are attracted to people for a variety of reasons and science is going to have a hell of a time trying to explain it all. But we are human. We don’t need explanations, we simply need love.

4. The smallest human beings attract the largest amount of love. I’m sure this has to do with our need to live forever through our progeny. Even so, it feels magical and cozy to hug a baby, make a toddler giggle and know that in this way, we will live on through eternity.

5. Sometimes love tastes like a smooshed peanut butter and jelly sandwich after a hard hike. I weep.

6. The Giving Tree, by Shel Silverstein is the dumbest book about love that was ever written. Pisses me off every time I read it.

You, that just happened, Shel.
Yeah, that just happened, Mr Silverstein.

7. No matter the final outcome of a relationship, love does not go away. It simply takes on different forms. It is that difference that makes us mourn, but love, which is always true, never dies.

8. Sometimes loving someone means doing the thing that person least wants you to do. This is when love sucks. When it is not your most comfortable option.

9. Once I thought I loved a cinnamon roll but then it was gone…

10. Love is patient and kind and all of those things, and sometimes love feels lonely and harsh. But perhaps because it is the greatest cause in life, it was meant to be that way; teacher, mother, lover friend, the ultimate mechanism by which to grow.

Like, share, comment, tweet and love yourself first so you know how to love others.

You’re So Vain ~ You Probably Think This Blog Post’s About You

Perhaps it is vanity that I’ve never really considered myself a vain person. You know, like the kind of person that tells everyone they’re so humble and everyone in the pews giggles a little because we all know it doesn’t work that way?

so vain

Sure I like to look nice and there are times I feel a particular attractiveness, but by and large I know I’m no stunning beauty. I’ve made my peace with this.

Nevertheless, I have to guide my eyes away from mirrors when I’m shopping in the home décor departments. Likewise, when I’m walking past plate glass windows, I have a tendency to take a gander, just so I can make sure my hair is in place and no residual salad remains in my teeth from a delicious lunch. Yeah… that’s why I do it.

One such occasion presented itself yesterday after a particularly pleasant luncheon with my daughter and grandson. We’d had a delightful chat over over-sized portions and I was headed, smiling, to my car when I began the seemingly non-vain practice of checking myself out in the restaurant window.

Everything seemed just fine in the ol’ mirror when I noticed something remarkable. If I stopped looking at my own image, there were other people on the other side of the window!

And how much more interesting they were than my own, familiar image.

There were old people and young people and smiling people and solemn people. And they were all just waiting for me to notice them.

Okay, maybe they weren’t waiting for me to notice them. On the contrary. I was waiting for myself to notice someone other than myself.

It’s an old lesson, but one it seems we need to be reminded of over and over again. When my children were in middle school, so very self-conscious about what they were wearing and how to keep up with everyone else, I would often remind them, no one is looking at you, they’re looking at themselves.

While I was looking at my own reflection in the storefront window, I felt self-conscious and self-critical. The minutes I shifted my gaze beyond my own interests, I found a whole building full of people with stories and lives far more interesting than I could ever imagine.

I don’t think of myself as being vain, but to a certain degree each one of us is. And from time to time we are reminded if we can get past our own self-concerned issues, there is a life out there that’s waiting for us that is far more interesting than we could ever imagine.

But I’m not getting rid of the mirror in my bathroom. There’s a line, you know?

Like, share, comment, tweet and take a gander at the world that’s going on around you. Mind. Blown.

Would You Give Yourself This Gift?

Yesterday I spent practically the entire, glorious day in the warmth and glowing light of my little studio here on the Young Family Ranch & Zombie Apocalypse Retreat. Complete with an audio book and a wall heater that lets me keep the room at Bikram Yoga temperature, I found myself in earthbound heaven.

I love those days. I love days that should go on and on and yet I know it cannot be. No matter how much I may enjoy that particular species of day, were I to partake of it every day, it would change from a treat to a burden.

My hands would ache, I would wish for different food and different diversion and more company and more demands upon my time.

So it is with any divine element of our lives. Whether it is chocolate or ice cream, a nap or a ride in the car, even holding hands with your favorite someone gets stale and sweaty-palmed without at least a bathroom break.

I loved my day yesterday, but it was because of the many days preceding it when I had obligations and more company than one could possibly imagine. I loved the day because it was a change, a shift, and because of those things, it was a gift.

I like gifts.gift

To my way of thinking, pain exists so that we can know pleasure. The overburdened schedule is paving the way for the sheer luxury of the hour without obligation. Hunger is the delectable spice that takes a dish from good to glorious.

Yesterday was exactly what I’d been waiting for and all the more enjoyable because I know that today I am back to my obligations, to my hours in the car and tending to the needs of others. Life at it’s best is give and take.

My perfect day of indulgence was suited exactly to my taste. It involved sushi with my boys and the company of my favorite dog while I created in my studio. No doubt your secret indulgences are different, but only in the details. You need them just as much as I do. The question is not what you will do.

The question is will you make the choice to do it? The question is do you like gifts?

Like, share, comment, tweet and for hell’s sake, the world will not stop turning if you take some time off and eat a Chick-O-Stick.

Shall We Watch My Brain Explode…

As I am told, there’s the part of the computer that stores information and there’s a part of the computer that runs the stuff up front. Since computers are little, magical boxes to me, I compare it to the conscious and subconscious mind. This may or may not be accurate, but it’s my party and so that’s today’s playlist.

From what I understand about the face and the back end of the computer, if the computer appears not to have too much going on superficially, but remains slow anyway, it is likely the “subconscious” is busy working on things that cannot be seen.

Being productive, moving and succeeding, these are all imperative parts of human nature. Laziness, I have read, is a myth. Everyone of us enjoys the pleasure of a job well done. If someone isn’t performing, there’s a reason and it’s not usually sloth.

It is for this reason that I am currently intensely frustrated. I want to see fruits of my labor. I yearn to feel the success of many hours of work. But my “computer” is running slow these days and I’m pretty sure I know why.

You see, I have some life changes, some course corrections on a pretty foundational level, to process. And so, everything else in my world is running at a slower pace.

Brain-OverloadPerhaps the most important work we do in this life is the work that goes on behind the counter, backstage, behind the scenes in the secret coves of our minds. We process, we contemplate and all the while the façade continues to function to a slower or faster degree. Just because the appearance isn’t what we’d desire, doesn’t mean the most important work isn’t being done. That which cannot be seen often rules the world.

I will certainly continue to push forward, struggling to produce the results my goals request of me. But until I free up some space on my mother-ship or mother-board, ram or processor or whatever, I’ll give in to the need to do the basics and I’ll give my subconscious the room and the time to do what needs to be done.

It’s all we can ask, really. Every day is a winding road.

Like, share, comment, tweet and cut yourself some slack. And by that, I mean, cut me some slack;)

What You Don’t Know ~ Michelle Church

The adventure of dating oneself is a journey of twists and turns. It is simultaneously edifying to take the time to know the inner workings of one’s own heart, and it is exhilarating to go out into the world and discover other lives and others’ thoughts without the lens of being with your friends or family.

The solo date is an art and a sacrament.

Over the last week I’ve had more time to date myself than normal and every time I have new zealandhad the luxury of talking with people I will likely never see again. One such encounter was with Carrie, a French café owner who told me, “I thought I knew what green was until I discovered in New Zealand what I had never seen before.”

Another encounter was with Warren, a 92-year-old WWII veteran, who prayed for me and for my family at my favorite supermarket. Still another was Chris, who tutored me on fixing the sticky drawers in my cabinet and regaled me with stories about the 900 odd teenage mothers who passed through her home and into lives they couldn’t have had without the aid that was given to them.

Each one of these interactions, as well as others along the way, has humbled me in a way I never could have imagined without them. I had the fortune to listen to them, be heard by them and to commune in a way that gives meaning to life and depth to living.

We travelers on the lonely path of life are funny creatures. We aver things that can only be guessed at and we make judgments along the way about worthiness and wisdom, our own and that of everybody else. We judge with barely a glance into other people’s lives and psyches. We imagine solutions to problems we’ve barely tried to understand.

I do not know how to solve the problem of believing we know what we cannot possibly know, other than to acknowledge we cannot know. The best we can do is, to imagine love is the solution to all of life’s most complex questions and then to go out and spread that love as liberally and as quickly as is humanly possible.

Warren prayed for me to find joy and to know Jesus. Chris showed me how to do that. And Carrie? She taught me that I think I know the beauty of life, but I can’t know it, not until I can somehow be everywhere and see and do everything.

Until then, I’ll stick with what I learned from Chris and Carrie. And I’ll wonder what I might learn from you if only we had a bit of time together.

Like, share, comment, tweet and be the change you wish to see in the world.

The Sermon On The Couch

Recently I read a comment by a highly successful artist who said hanging her own paintings in her home would be like talking to herself. Because I admire this artist so much I thought I might emulate her. Then I realized that she was hating on one of my favorite pass-times, talking to myself, and I disregarded the idea completely.

Usually I cannot be heard in deep conversation with myself, though my son did walk into the kitchen the other day as I muttered after tasting the mashed cauliflower, “This is not my best work.” Which it wasn’t. Too salty, not enough umami.

While I will occasionally mutter something to myself, usually my self talk happens right here in our little corner of the blogosphere. I tell you things, but really, I’m telling me things. Michelle Church actually happens every day for me. You know, the same sermons over and over again, but I need them, so I repeat them.

Were I ordained to preach...
Were I ordained to preach…

Today’s “sermon” involves one of my favorite topics, which is to say, one of the topics I must repeat to myself over and over again: If your task is insurmountable, don’t do it. Just do the first thing that is required.

After weeks of houseguests and family obligations, all of which I enjoyed, I find myself with boatloads of email and mounds of tasks. This makes me anxious and I have been considering watching every episode of every season of Gilmore Girls because I never saw even one the first go-round.

The Universe complied with my need for appropriate fall weather and I am looking out the window at the ancient maple waving in the wind and rain and dropping her leaves like natures own strip-tease. Which is to say, “Where’s my couch? I need to sit/lay down.”

With hillocks of things put on the back burner long enough they are beginning to smoke, just the right weather for a procrastinator as well as a quality Netflix binge available to me, you are now imagining me on my couch. Aren’t you? Admit it.

But you would be wrong. I listen to myself and the surest way to beat the Demon Inertia is simply to begin. Do a little something. Take a baby step and if you’re not exhausted from that, take one more. Then definitely get a snack.

Being overwhelmed is a part of the human experience, inertia too, that unforgivable tart. With a little self-talk, some caffeine if it’s “real bad” and a baby step here and there, we shall overcome, my friends. We shall overcome.

Like, share, comment, tweet and if you can’t bring yourself to get off the metaphorical or literal couch, at least do a few deep breathing exercises. It’ll help. I promise.

The Bliss That Is Your Autumn

The leaves are dying brilliantly and the air cools degrees in minutes. The 150-year-old tree in my yard is carpeting the lawn and by the end of November there will be a layer so thick that we will have to haul it away in the tractor. After back breaking hours of raking, that is.

And yet, I love this season above all other seasons. I love the bite of a fresh apple. I love sweaters and pumpkin pie. I mean, I really, really love pumpkin pie. Love it. But I’m getting ahead of myself. Here are ten things I love about the season.

1. I love that it’s dark longer in the mornings and earlier at night. It’s cozy.
2. It’s dark and cozy and it begs me to unfold the wool blanket on the end of my couch. I love wool blankets.
3. The hardcore season of young family traditions begins in the fall. Homemade doughnuts on Halloween and orange rolls on Thanksgiving. It is a season of deliciousness.
4. I love a pumpkin patch. The chilly air and children squatting over the pumpkins as they examine them for perceived perfection.
5. It’s true I’ve been a bit self-congratulatory about how little television I watch, but I love flower farmerwhen my favorite shows start up again and it’s dark outside and I can justify a little couch potato behavior. Don’t jugde.
6. The smell of wood smoke in the air elicits a primordial response and it smells like safety and it smells like home.
7. Stew. Delicious, beef with carrots and potatoes. Stew equals autumnal happiness.
8. It is easier to take a nap on a cloudy day than on one that is sunny. Not that I take naps. Like yesterday.
9. It is easy to feel grateful for whatever kind of home you have when the winds start to blow and the weather starts to change. The coming of fall makes gratitude that much easier. I love easy gratitude.
10. I love the chill in the air and how pink it makes our cheeks. I love wearing scarves and drinking hot tea. I love a hot shower on a cold morning and I love the in-between of the season. It’s not summer but it’s not winter and it is transition. Autumn is possibility.

Like, share, comment, tweet and feel the love of a Pendleton wool blanket.

Are You As Needy As I Am?

I am a powerful, independent woman. I keep saying this over and over again. I say it like it is in the saying that I retain or gain my power. I am a powerful, independent woman…

Each of us is many things. Maybe a mail carrier, a homemaker, a wheeler-dealer, a man, a woman a sister-mother-brother-hero-friend. We are many things. But we are not independent. Do you need a minute to process that?

This past week… and two days… Mr Dreamboat was out of town and hardly available to talk. It is no fault of his that when he is on these marathon trips he is barely reachable. When we finally talk he is full of interesting tidbits of interactions and business dealings.

He's just so handsome...
He’s just so handsome…

Likewise, it is no fault of mine that my communication skills do not lend themselves to short chats on the phone. Yes, I do talk. No, there’s usually not much depth to what I share. I don’t know why, it just is what it is, or perhaps it isn’t what it isn’t.

It is because of these trips and this disconnection that I work hard to maintain the appearance of my mantra; I am a powerful, independent woman. But I am not.

My only solace is in the realization that every single one of us needs connection. More than that, we need specific types of connection.

I am always reticent to give marital or relationship advice simply because every person and every couple is unique. Our needs vary, our love languages contrast and the way we achieve intimacy looks very different from relationship to relationship.

That said, none of us are independent of one another. We need contact, collaboration and we need understanding.

Mr Dreamboat arrived home late last night. In just a few days he will be gone again. Before that happens I admit that I will try to influence his schedule in a way that puts me smack dab in the middle of his world. He is my touchstone. He is the best reason in the world I can think of to give up my independence and change my mantra to;

I am a powerful, connected woman. And sure, sometimes that looks a little needy. But I’m willing to forgive myself that.

Like, share, comment, tweet and call your touchstone, whomever and however that looks.

Making The Impossible Your B*tch

I admit that after many years of working out, running, walking and yoga, as well a huge array of time-to-time activities, I consider myself an athlete. Not the kind of athlete I suppose Lance Armstrong would train with, but I don’t think he has much room to criticize at this point, but the – I use my body regularly and feel comfortable in a variety of physical activities – sort of athlete.

runningPerhaps it’s not as sexy as the hardcore kind, but it gets the job done.

Because I consider myself an athlete, it was quite a surprise to me that it was a huge challenge for me to get out on the open road again after a six-month time off of it.

Back in May I ran my third half-marathon. It went just fine. It wasn’t my best run, but it did not qualify as my worst by any stretch. It went fine. Just fine.

After the run I opted for an alternative type of workout. Not so demanding on my system, kind of unusual and you can do it in the car. I kid you not.

The truth of the matter is that I was tired. I was tired of harsh and demanding workouts. I was tired of hours of training and a workout you can do in the car made me happy.

Until it didn’t make me happy anymore. I started feeling anxious for the open road. I started feeling unfulfilled as I saw runners out in the sun. Slow ones and fast ones, middle aged, imperfection like myself, it didn’t matter. I just missed being out there. I missed feeling like an athlete.

I determined it was time to put my Nikes to the asphalt and reclaim the road. Except I didn’t. So I decided I would treat myself to some treadmill goodness, you know, start things out slow. But I didn’t do that either.

It was the power of inertia, the hellish abyss of inactivity and after six short months, I was in her evil grip.

It is a fascinating thing to behold, the magnetism of indolence. I mean, I’m an athlete, right? How could this happen?

Yesterday morning, before I could talk myself out of it, I finally took to the evergreen hills surrounding The Young Family Ranch & Zombie Apocalypse Retreat and got myself out of her wicked grasp. Good tunes, good shoes and some killer running socks and I owned an hour of moving meditation. It was delectable.

Regardless of a true desire to try something new or something we’ve lost along the way, sometimes it is tantamount to impossible.

But it isn’t impossible. It is simply difficult.

You were made to do difficult things. We are creatures carved out to take on challenges and make them bow to us as we become athletes and artists and the kind of people who change the world, one little impossibility at a time.

What will you do today that you thought you couldn’t?