Death By Smarties ~ Halloween’s Cautionary Tale

If we are enlightened at all, each of us tries to stay far, far away from judgment. When I catch myself doing it, I quickly back off, remember I am human and give the grace to others I so desperately seek for myself.

Even so, I wonder about the times I don’t catch myself. I cannot know what I don’t know, thus, surely there are times too numerous to count when I, in all my human egotism, do not catch myself being judgmental.

Today, I am not afraid to admit to at least one of those times to you. Just don’t tell anyone else, okay?

Once, long ago, I had a friend. It was this time of year and we were gearing up at what was not then the Young Family Ranch & Zombie Apocalypse Retreat, but simply the Young Family Abode. Plans had been laid for the annual Chili-fest & Spudnut Fry Off and I invited my new friend to abandon her door answering post and join us for the evening.

We lived in a popular neighborhood for trick-or-treaters and so it would be a busy and festive night.

“Great,” my friend agreed! “We’ll bring the candy I already bought. I buy Smarties because I’m not wasting good money on chocolate for a bunch of children.”

smartiesAnd so I judged. I did. I’m not holding back here, I was in total judgment. To be honest, this was the beginning of the demise of the relationship. It wasn’t an immediate death, but sure as a slow poisoning, day by day the friendship withered and ultimately died a death of little note.

If you like Smarties, more power to you. If you cannot spend much money on candy, sure, I get that. But there was something inelegant about the whole affair I simply could not get over.

I am long since past my judgment. It was uglier of me to judge than anything she did. I own that.

That said, there is a place I aspire to live that is generous and never withholds affection or chocolate. It is a place where children love to gather, where people feel welcome and where you won’t feel judged when you stop by.

This place is less about giving out Smarties and more about giving one’s best, hoping that energy spreads like the best of all viruses and ultimately a bit of it lands back on your own doorstep. Just a smidge. No need to horde here.

To give with all one’s heart, the best you have, it’s the best of habits. It is the ultimate trick or treat. No judgment about it.

Like, share, comment, tweet and I wish for you all treats and the best of tricks ~ interpret as you will…

The Macabre Way To Happiness ~ A List Of Ten Things

One time, and in relativity not a very long one, I suffered from clinical depression. To call it yucky, painful or horrifying really wouldn’t do it justice. To those of you on the longer road of a disease that robs life of all its color, I salute you. You are no stranger to bravery. You are no minor hero in life.

My adventure in the Land Of Awful was short-lived. Even so, each of us struggles with occasional situational depression. Even the sunniest disposition drags from time to time.

As sunny as I imagine I can be, I have a taste for the macabre, a penchant for the dark. Which is where I found myself a few days ago on what I like to think of as “NCIS Day”.

direct the sailNot really an entire day, it is a two-hour venture into the surreal doings of Gibbs and his team as well as a spinoff to round out the second hour. Sure, the characters are endearing. Yeah, the cases are interesting. But the truth is, there is blood, guts and horror.

I do not recommend these ingredients on a dark and dreary day.

To add insult to my psychic injury, as a warm up I watched a documentary about a girl who was so neglected as to never have acquired language or even the ability to walk at the age of 13.

For those of you working through depression, I suggest this is not a recipe to follow. Given the fact that I was in a good mood before exploring the underbelly of society, I wouldn’t suggest it to anyone who has emotions at all.

Here are ten things I recommend to everyone:

1. Play nice with others. When people make mistakes, step on your toes or say something that clearly breaks The First Rule*, forgive them and know you’ve scored yourself a karmic star on the scorecard of life.
2. Eat lean meats and greens. You will feel better and sleep better and not have heartburn and be less likely to break The First Rule from being over-tired.
3. Get your hands dirty. Nothing criminal here. I’m suggesting you dig in the dirt, mold some clay or paper mache. Feels so good…
4. Smile. Think of things that make you smile. Say things that will make other people smile. Then think about them smiling and smile.
5. Sing like you’re really good at it. All the time. Get into it. Imagine you’re on stage. Buy a hairbrush and pretend it’s a microphone. Or don’t. But SING!
6. Over-tip. Screw the addition in your head and just give and give and know that the people serving you are working hard and you can be a source of light for them. And then smile.
7. Who do you think you are? Tell yourself! Tell yourself you deserve good things, you have important things to say and that the world is better with you in it. Mmmm…. Feels nice…
8. Watch things that make you laugh. Preferably the kinds of shows that don’t involve grizzly deaths with humor tucked between horrors. Watch funny shows that make you feel good.
9. Is caffeine a valid recommendation here? I once read that caffeinated beverages are the blood of the war gods inciting you to great acts of honor, so… Yes! Caffeinate!
10. Be good to you. I know we’ve read that “other people are fighting a fight you know nothing about,” but you too are fighting for life and for love. Be good to you. And SMILE!

The First Rule = Don’t be sh*tty

Like, share, comment, tweet and if you can’t muster a smile of your own, hold a pencil between your teeth for five minutes. It’s supposed to make you feel good.

It’s Complicated…

Somewhere in everyone’s “About” information, whether it is written in the nebulous world of the internet or it is written by the hands of the gods, somewhere there should, by all rights, be the words, “It’s complicated.”

My relationship with Mr Dreamboat is as sold as gold. I enjoy loving and happy relationships with my children and family members. I have good friends and interesting acquaintances about whom I’d like to learn more.

And despite all that juicy goodness, it could be said about every one of those interactions, “It’s complicated,” for we are complicated creatures and can never truly be known to one another. Not fully. Not really.

We are mysteries of the greatest sort. It is for this reason I implore you to date yourself. It’s the only way to get to know at least one person while we’re living “the wildest ride.”

Similarly, because we can never be truly known, because there are mistakes and missteps in both sending and receiving communication, it is in everyone’s best interest to cast off the desire to be something or someone we imagine others want from us, and simply be ourselves.

(Deep breath after long run on sentence…)

When we are our most authentic selves, messages are clearer and magic is present. When we can tap in to our innermost musings and happy places, we perceive others more clearly. Eyes are cleared. Intentions are purified.
authentic magic
You are here and genuinely unique. It only muddies the waters of the universe to attempt to be someone other than the fantastic you that is a lovely mix of nature and nurture, of genetics and life’s pageantries.

If I were in charge, and in my own way, in this little corner of the blogosphere I kind of am, I would order an experiment begin in your life. No commitment for any sort of lengthy time. Just a day or two.

Wherein, you would be as authentic as you possibly could. If something isn’t your strength or your proclivity, admit it. Work in your areas of expertise and gladly commend those who shine in areas not easily in your grasp.

Admit it, even imagining makes you feel good. Better still is the magic you create when you do it.

Promise me you’ll do it? Promise you’ll value yourself and your strengths and by doing so value those of others? I can’t wait to hear how you shine.

Maybe it doesn’t have to be so complicated after all.

Like, share, comment, tweet and march to the beat of your own drummer and dance to the band in your mind!

Three Day Homelessness

The Oregon coast is a dramatic and beautiful wonder. The storms are humbling and the waves are massive events. I have watched swaths of rain and clouds approach the shore in fearful and glorious awe. I have seen sunny days so stunning as to make one weep.

And even though the wonders of the Pacific Northwest never disappoint, they are trivial compared to the ups and downs, the ins and outs and the intimacies of life.

I once heard a young woman talking about her greatest trial. I won’t drag out the minute details, let us just say theydarkstormwatch involved broken pipes and three-day homelessness or what some people call “staying with friends”.

I totally tried not to giggle. It’s not right, but I think I felt a bit of contempt.

It’s not okay to be dismissive of the difficulties of others. Our tolerance for the pains of life grows throughout our days, unless of course the grim visitor of heartache somehow passes you by.

This is not a likely scenario, though I’ve heard rumors that it happens from time to time.

Even so, most of us have some pretty big storms come in and out of our lives. We learn to brush over things like broken pipes as bothersome mishaps and realize we must cherish days when nothing awful happens. For many of us, those days sometimes qualify as sunny spots in a mercurial universe.

For the last few months I have been surfing my very own weird batch of waves, swimming against an unknowable undertow, a little afraid of imagined storms. Sometimes I don’t feel like I’m in charge of my own weather. How awesome would it be if they could make an app to forecast that?

It is only now that the clouds begin to part that I am aware of this strange weather pattern. Somehow I could feel the undertow but never could put a finger on it. How grateful I am to see the return of the light and to feel the pull going slack, And better still, to imagine how much stronger I am today from the time spent resisting the pull.

The Oregon coast is a thing of wonder, but awe, the thrill of life, it’s so stunning it can bring you to tears.

Like, share, comment, tweet and always carry an umbrella. There’s no telling when it will will to rain.

Little Known Facts About Monday ~ A List Of Ten

punch today
In the good way…

I believe Monday is the most unfairly maligned day of all the days. I get it. Working for the man has got you down, you may have participated in activities that have you a bit tired and worn out for the rest of the week. Sure. I really get it.

But what is often overlooked is the freshness of beginning the journey of new week. It has just as much potential to be THE BEST WEEK EVER! as it does to be a sorry status update on an increasingly bereft Facebook page.

I submit to you that Monday is sacred and can be utilized as such.

1. Admit it, if you’re tired, it’s not because it’s Monday, it’s because you may have engaged in nefarious activities that did not prove wise on your part. This is not Monday’s fault. I propose a Monday Eve tradition of hydration and sleep. Think about the implications…
2. A Monday morning ritual of your favorite warm beverage and a brisk walk could be a game changer. Think about your cells celebrating the new week with you, all caffeinated and aerated from your beverage of choice and your Morning Constitutional. Admit it, you wish you’d thought of this a long time ago.
3. Another day, another dollar. Sure, maybe you don’t want to work for the man but really, you’re working for yourself, for your family and for freedom and the American (insert your alternate reputable country here) Dream. Let’s keep perspective here.
4. Look, Monday’s are not for the faint of heart. But you’re brave. Walk out that door with your shoulders back, knowing you’ve got this!
5. For years Monday evening has reigned in our household as Family Night. It’s run the gambit as far as activities are concerned but it’s something fun every time. Maybe you’re alone, maybe empty nesting it, whatever. Set it aside as an evening of personal/social edification and put your own particular stamp on it. Or there’s always football…
6. They say to check your smoke detectors on the Spring and Fall Daylight Savings dates. Why not make Monday your day to put gas in the car or the night you have dessert or the day you have coffee with a good friend? Like, “Every Monday I look forward to…” fill in the blank. Okay, maybe not the gas in the car thing. I’m winging it here. It’s not all going to be gold.
7. Monday morning, and it’s not too late even if you’re reading this later, can be your day to take one baby-little step toward a dream. Vacation, education, fitness, whatever you choose. Who wouldn’t look forward to that?
8. At the end of a Monday, or the beginning of your workweek, whichever day that is, you know you’ve survived one more Monday. You’re the Queen/King of Monday. You made it your female dog and it bows to you, positively bows to you in defeat. Yeeeeeeah. Feels nice.
9. I’m all about owning your power, and giving it away to a day of the week seems like a huge percentage of wasted time. After all, how accurate are our calendars? For all you know it’s actually a Thursday based on the one, true, unknowable calendar. We may never know what day we’re really on.
10. Every day, Monday being no exception, is a day in which we can experience magic and wonder. It’s simply a matter of deciding and acting upon it.

Like, share, comment, tweet and pinch yourself because you’re so glad to be you. If you’re a hard pincher, pinch your neighbor instead.

Michelle Church ~ No Regrets

I have had thoughts running through my head like machine gun shots in an action movie. They are thoughts on organized religion, on Christianity and on tolerance, love, standards of behavior and of rules and regulations.

This post has been written three of four times, only to be deleted in entirety. It just wasn’t what I was feeling. Sometimes it was too preachy. Um… no thank you. And yet others bordered on whiny. Yeah, we’ve all had enough of whining. This we can be sure of.

And still I couldn’t think what exactly it was I wanted to say. Until I could.

no_regrets_just_loveWhat I want to say today is that life is a beautiful gift. The odds of you being here today, of having the opportunity not just to breathe in deep breaths of air, but to have the technology available to you to read this post, they’re mighty slim.

Since you are breathing and since you are reading, I believe it is imperative that you love life. You have it, why not relish it? You breathe, why not smile? Why not bless it and see it as the perfection that it is, or at least it can be?

While we’re at it, the other people around you, those who are a part of your life every day, and those who may be passing through but once, treat them with the sacred awe they deserve.

Put more specifically, those with whom we come into contact, they deserve more than civility. I mean expressly those whom we don’t agree with. I mean let’s throw out tolerance and embrace love.

A friend of mine recently told me she’d talked with her ecclesiastical leader and he didn’t say “anything awful.” And she was grateful. And I find this sad.

For the most part, almost without exception, perhaps without exception, we should value the experience of others the way we value our own. Knowing that they are making decisions and choosing their way under circumstances we cannot imagine.

It is my prayer that when I meet with those I love, with those who vex me and when I meet strangers along the way, they won’t have occasion to say, “At least she didn’t say anything awful.”

Life is a beautiful gift so we can do better than that.

Like, share, comment, tweet and love. Just that.

The Best News Ever!

Many years ago, when many things I thought were true proved disturbingly unfounded, I stopped believing stuff. I didn’t stop believing in all the stuff, just stuff about our government and about good always winning out over evil. Total bummer. I mean really disappointing.

You can imagine that such an undoing caused some behavioral changes. I stopped wearing jewelry, stopped wearing makeup, cut my hair short and I stopped caring about the news.

I stopped watching the news because I was so very disappointed in the government I didn’t want to hear about it at all. It was because I had so much drama in my own life I didn’t need anybody else’s.

It’s fairly obvious that the makeup and hair, those things were about simplifying, not having bandwidth for extra things. I was running on empty much of the time. If you’ve ever watched a zombie movie, you’ll recall no one cares about their makeup and everyone would be better off with short hair. Even the zombies, cuts down on blood spatter tangles.

newsSince that time I’ve grown my hair out and then I cut it short again. Last year I started wearing mascara and since then I got some really cool eyeliner. Sometimes, if I’m feeling fancy, I wear eye shadow as well. The times they are a changin’.

What remains the same is my serious disinterest in keeping a close eye on the news. Not only is my aversion to keeping up with the news still a part of me, but studies show people who watch hours of the news have higher incidence of heart problems and health issues in general.

Ignorance pays powerful dividends.

To be sure I’m aware of ISIS. Yes, I know about the Ebola virus. But since I’m not on the frontline for these concerns, it seems over-educating myself, worrying and stewing in the juices of impotence, will hardly serve to solve the issues.

Let us eat cake, then! Let us live very happy lives and delight in life’s generosities. If and/or when there is a real problem, that’s when it’s time to worry. Until then, Let us eat cake.

Some habits are worth keeping.

Like, share, comment, tweet and sleep well tonight my friend, they’ll let us know when it’s time to panic.

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.