Tag Archives: cave dweller

“We Have to Project a Positive Future”

Yesterday, I felt inundated by questions and dark thoughts about why the world is the way it is. My stock answer, the one I tell myself over and over is, “It is what it is,” whatever it is. This is a dichotomy of thought on my part as I also tell myself that it is possible to change my own situation, circumstances, feelings and thoughts just by thinking positively, by not letting the shadows of what might be overtake the light of what is. I can make the shift from negative to positive. I can bring positive love and light into my life by being love and light, by sharing the good and putting less focus on the not-so-good.

I also believe that when we have questions, even those internal little niggling thoughts, answers present themselves. It’s up to us to look and listen, to be still. If we ask (even silently), we shall receive.

So, with the thoughts of yesterday still whirling around in my mind, questions about how we can possibly make the world a better, safer, lighter, more loving place bouncing and pinging, I found this video on my Facebook news feed. It’s from a site called The Master Shift.

John Lennon was not my favorite Beetle. In fact, he lost me when he slipped into what I called his “Give Peace a Chance” phase. I was young and silly and had no idea what that was all about. I’ve changed since then. I’ve grown a little in my thinking and I realize that Lennon, like so many others who were able to hone in on something real and tangible while the rest of us were in denial, while presenting an image of a hippy-dippy lifestyle that was suspect in my eyes, was looking and listening and finding answers that make sense for all of us.

This video is long by today’s standards of seven second bytes but it’s worth a look and a listen. You may have heard it all before; it may not bring instantaneous meaning to you or answer your questions, but it was there for me this morning to shine a little light on my own questions and I want to share it with you.

Lennon 02Click here to view the video on YouTube.

Just for Fun!

You make a difference

 

 

 

Speechless

LaManchaColorweb

This morning, while floundering for something to write about, swallowing my desire to rant about the negativity that seems to be spreading like an unchecked virus around me, a song came to mind: The Impossible Dream. I have fond memories of Man of LaMancha. My brother went to see the musical in high school and came home inspired. He gathered our friends, handed out roles, taught us the words, and we re-enacted various scenes from the play. That memory of my brother standing in our backyard belting out this song is still my go-to when it feels like negativity is winning.

As to the negativity? When this is the best advice a woman can offer young girls in finding their place in the world, I am profoundly saddened: “The world we live in is a twisted and broken place.” I have no words to describe how wrong this feels to me.

So, I offer you this little bit of nostalgia and hope. You can find it on YouTube but it won’t compare to the wonderful memory I have in my head.

The Impossible Dream

Music by Mitch Leigh and Lyrics by Joe Darion

To dream the impossible dream
To fight the unbeatable foe
To bear with unbearable sorrow
To run where the brave dare not go
To right the unrightable wrong
To love pure and chaste from afar
To try when your arms are too weary
To reach the unreachable star

This is my quest, to follow that star
No matter how hopeless, no matter how far
To fight for the right, without question or pause
To be willing to march into Hell, for a Heavenly cause

And I know if I’ll only be true, to this glorious quest
That my heart will lie will lie peaceful and calm,
when I’m laid to my rest.
And the world will be better for this
That one man, scorned and covered with scars,
Still strove, with his last ounce of courage,
To reach the unreachable star.

One last thought for today:

Stars

The Thing Under the Shed

The Girls 02

My dogs have been going crazy the past couple of days. They woke me up at five o’clock yesterday morning, whining and whimpering, anxious and scared. As I opened the back door, I heard thunder far off in the distance, rolling in waves. I laughed as the rain started to come down giving everything, including my dogs, a much-needed and long-awaited soak. 

My girls are trained for hurricane/tornado weather. When the skies turn dark and the wind begins to howl, my dogs head to the guest bathroom–the only room in the house without windows–with or without me. It’s not unusual for me to look up from my computer (usually when the power has flickered or gone out completely) to find I am alone in my office, the dogs having made their way to the bathroom to settle in until the storm passes. By the time I join them, Elektra has usually pulled the mat off the rim of the tub and made a nice little bed for herself and her sister. Bella sits like Snoopy on his doghouse, head hanging, looking sheepish and afraid. I usually light a candle and sit down on the toilet lid to wait out the thunder. It’s not often that I’m afraid, but there is comfort even for me in the sharing of solace and companionship.

Today, the alarm whimpers began again around five o’clock. I haven’t slept well since breaking my foot on Sunday so I listened to the quiet around me and hushed the dogs. By six, there was no sense in trying to sleep. Bella had rattled the blinds on the back door sufficiently to incite a riot in the little ones. I hobbled to the kitchen and began my day, letting the dogs out while I scanned the backyard with a flashlight, looking for nocturnal visitors: armadillos, opossums, or the neighbors’ cats. The girls sniffed every inch of the patio and then made a beeline for the shed.

There is no barking in the morning regardless of what the dogs find lurking in our yard. My girls know the rule: barking = no treat. They quietly nosed around and under the edge of the shed, dancing excitedly. My mind always runs shrieking to the worst possible scenario: python, rattlesnake, or alligator. (It could happen!) My flashlight revealed nothing. I headed back to the house and the girls followed, the little ones jumping through the dewy grass like black-and-tan dolphins. I dried their bellies and feet, gave Bella a quick pat-down with the towel, and filled their food bowls. All three dogs stood nose-to-glass at the back door, watching the shed, ignoring breakfast, ignoring me.

The little ones are napping now, stretched out on their pillows at my feet. Only Bella stands guard at the back door, waiting for the thing under the shed to show its face. I know that at some point today, I’ll have to cram my sore foot into a hiking boot, arm myself with a long stick, and poke around under the shed. There are better and worse things to do on a gray day. Coffee first, though, and maybe a pill for the pain. Then I’ll gird my loins for battle and hope for the best. I wonder how fast a black racer can slither? Wait, don’t tell me! I don’t wanna know!

I hope you have a happy, sunny day today wherever you are!

Merrily Down the Garden Path

Withered Rose 02

Is it just me or is the bloom off the rose of social media? Maybe I’m preaching to the choir here, but it seems to me that as the focus of Facebook and Twitter has changed from, “Look at me and all of the interesting things I’m doing!” to “Buy this!” the social aspect of connecting with friends and family has slowly been leached out of the media.

I’ve never been a big fan of Facebook. I just don’t have enough friends online or off to require a repository to keep up with them. And besides my writing, I don’t have enough interesting happenings going on in my life to require instant status updates. I have to admit, it is much easier to share photos and quick messages with family and my few far-flung friends, but if the news is big enough, we still call each other or text or send an email.

As for Twitter, for me the platform has devolved into 140 character commercials. When I first joined a little over a year ago, the art of the mini conversation–enticing people to connect with you through short bursts of witty banter–was becoming a valid art form. I liked the give and take, matching wits and quotes with like-minded people. The fun of Twitter, however, quickly faded as my posts and follows were greeted with stock replies of, “Thanks for following. Now, please check out my website/blog/author page and buy my book!” I can honestly say that throughout my Twitter adventure, not one long and involved conversation ended without a plea for a book purchase. In some cases, I bought the books; in other cases, I felt manipulated.

Now I know it’s all about the numbers. We’ve been convinced that the more likes and followers we have, the more successful we will be as authors or salespeople or entrepreneurs. (Maybe that’s really one job description: it seems impossible nowadays to be a writer without also being head of sales as well as the leader of our own one-(wo)man band/corporation/organization.) Long gone are the days of hole-ing up to write “The Great American Novel.” Now you have to be “out there” building a presence, developing a fandom with followers. And then you have to write four or five or six more books just like that while you hawk your work on Facebook and Twitter and every new platform that comes along. Forget about writing good books or building relationships or maintaining the ones you have. It’s all about the advertising. Sell, sell, sell! is the new mantra of the upwardly social.

As for me, I’m stepping off the garden path and letting the crowd pass me by. Social interaction makes me uncomfortable hence my comfort in being a cave dweller. As for the internet and life in the social matrix? There has to be a better way.

So, today I’ll leave you with this:

Gather ye rosebuds while ye may, Old Time is still a-flying: And this same flower that smiles today, To-morrow will be dying. Robert Herrick (1591 – 1674)

(I wonder how many will remember this from lit class and how many will think of HBO’s Newsroom?)

 

One Thing Leads to Another

"Make Things"

“Make Things”

My recent trip to Scotland seems to have flipped some strange Ms. Fix-It switch in me that I’m having trouble turning off. In the past two weeks, I’ve renovated my office, built shelves and a desk to create a mini-office space in my old closet, and relocated every book I own; repurposed cabinets and shelving (the cabinets in my old office closet now reside in the master bathroom); rearranged and/or replaced all the photo groupings and pictures in my house (I scanned old photos to create a huge black and white montage); repaired the dishwasher that has sat dormant in my kitchen for the past eight years. I’ve moved furniture, sewn cushions and made three new dog beds from an old, holey comforter that I could not bring myself to throw out; I’ve made several cork boards using old picture frames; spray painted just about everything not nailed down; made tissue paper flowers to keep my hands busy while I’ve planned new projects and compiled lists of things to scavenger hunt at the Habitat for Humanity Thrift Store down the street. I’ve cleaned every closet in the house, rearranged every nook and cranny of storage space, and I’m now in the deep-cleaning phase of my whole-house makeover.

YIKES!

My renovation binge began simply enough. I was anxious to write about my trip, to organize photos, to relive my adventure on paper. My office, however, was left in a disheveled mess as I’d neglected it in the weeks prior to leaving, stacking papers and books and scribblings here and there for future reference. Sitting down at my desk that first day back, I realized that I needed to make some breathing space, to move a few things to de-clutter my work area. One thing led to another and before I knew it, I was emptying out the closet, taking down shelves and cabinets, and spackling nail holes. My office is now clear of clutter but I have yet to accomplish what I originally set out to do. (I now believe that tidying, the most harmless of chores, is the gateway to full-scale revamping. Now I know better!)

Who IS This Person?

This person who is bustling about sewing and organizing and remodeling seems unfamiliar to me. Granted, I like to sew. I like to organize. I don’t mind a little remodeling. But this is out of the ordinary for cave-dweller-me.  I’ve been shopping! I’ve been to Home Depot three times in five days! One project leads to another–and another–and another. And although my comfy cave is becoming a little more comfy, I’m finding that the deeper I go in my quest for completion, the more problems crop up.

So, my new goal for the coming weeks is to find balance in my mania to renew and refresh and revitalize both my cave and myself. I will finish the projects I have in process and get back to writing. I’ll give the house one more quick cleaning and then close the door on all of the DIY projects on Pinterest that are calling my name. And while it’s been mostly fun moving book cases and solid oak desks and repairing the dishwasher all by myself, I think I’ll call for backup to fix the new leak under the kitchen sink. Even a cave dweller requires a little professional help once in a while.  Fingers crossed that this is not one thing that leads to another. 🙂

Just for Fun!

Elephant and water

When DIY jobs go bad, there’s only one thing to do: laugh! (And then call a plumber!)

We’ll Be Right Back After This Message

Today is a travel day. My posts at Cave Dweller might be a little spotty for the next couple of weeks as I tour the Highlands with my family but I’ll do my best to keep in touch. Unsocial tendencies aside, I’ve really enjoyed getting to know many of my readers over the past few weeks and I’m looking forward to a long, continuing friendship with all of you–from my cave to yours.

Have fun while I’m gone. Read a good book (you might find one you’ll like to the left), get some rest, leave me a comment about what’s going on in your world. To quote one of my favorite movies, “I’ll be back!”

Next stop: Glasgow!

The Art of Being Me

I’ve been spending waaaay too much time on Pinterest lately! Is that a good thing or a bad thing? My sense of what’s okay and what’s not okay seems to be a little skewed when it comes to cruising through the pins. I find myself flipping through the Photography board and the Geek board with joyful abandon, frittering away time that could be better spent writing or editing or (gulp!) cleaning. (But that’s another story!)

My boards are beautiful and relaxing. I find it calming and inspiring to scroll through Abundant Beauty, my collection of pins that range from beautiful flowers to glorious sunrises to majestic moons. Photography has never been my thing but there is a newfound sense of joy welling up in me and I find that I have a serious urge to run out and buy a good camera. Or at least skip on over to Amazon and do a little comparison shopping.

Photography might just be the one thing that would get me out of my cave on a regular basis. Then again, one can take only so many shots of the moon rising over the ocean or dawn breaking through the palms. I’m already feeling the pull of a road trip out west and having a camera in hand might nudge that fantasy into reality. Or I can pull up Pinterest and look at mountain ranges from around the world without ever having to leave my comfy cave.

As I move through the boards and pins, admiring some, laughing at others, I find little pieces of myself scattered here and there. I’ve been told that it’s a great marketing ploy to pin photos as representations of emotional moments in my books. “Look for things that evoke the emotions you want your readers to feel.” So, I have boards for Ripple and A Solitary Life and Martin Vane Says Hello and within those boards are the thoughts and emotions I felt as I wrote and edited and worked to pull my characters into being. Each board is a peek into my soul as well as a hint of what lies between the pages. Each pin is a choice that brings to light a sliver of me.

I’ve discovered that there is an art to being me just as there is an art to being you. Your likes and dislikes don’t define you as a whole being, but I believe there is true insight into what really matters in our lives. I don’t pin every pin that makes me cry but I’m beginning to see a pattern in my pins, a true collage of what it is that inspires me and keeps me whole. There is so much beauty in the world that I will never get to see. But I can see it through the eyes of a photographer, amateur or professional, who like me, yearns to capture the moments of life that define me, inspire me, and make me who I am. There is an art to being me and I’m refining it every day.

Just for Fun!

SONY DSC

I’ll be leaving for Scotland on Monday. As you may know, I’ve been planning this trip for two years as a surprise graduation present for my oldest daughter. The Big Reveal took place a couple of weeks ago to the accompaniment of bagpipes. I guess that’s another thing that can lure me from my cave: bagpipes! (Or maybe it’s the man in the kilt. )

Finding a Happy Medium

(And I don’t mean the kind with Taro cards or crystal balls.)

 OMG!

Have you ever been zipping along in your daily life, just going about your business thinking all is well and life is great, and then suddenly catch sight of yourself in a mirror or a window or a photograph and think, “What the hell happened?”  Freaky, isn’t it? That happened to me last week. All I can say, to quote yet another granddaughter, is OMG!

I have this image in my head of who I am and what I look like. I don’t think it’s unrealistic to say that most of us carry around in our heads, if not our wallets, an image that we define as “me.” We see ourselves in the mirror every day but the person in the mirror is not necessarily the person that we see in our mind’s eye, the strong, vibrant self that looks back with confidence–until the blinders come off and voila, there we are, the real “me” that we present to the world.

I am a Cave Dweller, after all!

My days are most often spent within the comfort of my cave. I don’t greet neighbors on a daily basis; I don’t entertain friends or have weekend company. I see family occasionally. I go out to lunch once a week (okay, sometimes I go). I go to the grocery store (when I have to) but I don’t think about how I look beyond brushing my teeth and hair, putting on clean clothes and a dab of lip gloss. Clothes are not my thing. I’ve been wearing the same two pairs of jeans and the same brown t-shirts (I have six) for quite a while now. They fit, they’re comfortable, and although sometimes I notice the jeans feel a little tighter than usual (damn that dryer!), I don’t think about how I look. I guess I focus on function and utility in my apparel rather than aesthetic appeal.

I guess it’s time for a reality check. While I’ve been snuggled in my comfy cave, writing, working, focusing on the virtual rendition of me, I’ve allowed the physical me, the one that appears in photographs, to atrophy. I’ve allowed tunnel vision to set in, seeing myself as a productive person, functioning and vital from the neck up (well, including my hands), while ignoring the needs of the rest of me.

It’s all about the focus.

I need to find a happy medium so that I will, once again, be a happy medium rather than a not-so-happy large. It’s not a matter of size, really. It’s about how I feel having focused for so long on one aspect of me rather than on the entire package of me. I need to find a way to get the exercise I need while still feeling productive and connected to my work. When I’m away from my computer, I’m thinking about what I could be and should be writing. When I’m writing, I don’t feel guilty about not working out, not watching TV, not cavorting with friends.

So, how do I find a happy medium without changing my productive routine? It’s a challenge but one I’m up for. I think. I guess I’ll just have to tape that not-so-flattering photo of the real me on my monitor as a reminder that there is more to life than writing. And then I’ll have to go look for that other thing or those other things that will offer a happy medium of fun, fitness, and life.  It’s time to stop, take a breath, and figure out a way to integrate mind and body more fully. Happy mind, happy body. Happy medium.

 Just for Fun!

 Stop

 

 

 

 

 

Fear of Falling

 Scotland Forest

My daughters and I are leaving for Scotland in nine days. I’m thrilled. I’m excited. I’m terrified! Dreams of falling have begun.

In the midst of travel planning, it’s not unusual for me to have dreams of falling. I’m not really afraid of heights. I can climb a ladder or a cliff (and back down) with the best of them, but there is something about traveling with my family–with my children in particular–that jump-starts in me a deep maternal fear of falling off the face of the earth.

As I closed my eyes last night, I held in my mind a beautiful vision of deep green forests and panoramic Scottish vistas. Just as I was about to drift off to sleep, the terrain changed and I found myself at the edge of a cliff, about to take a step into thin air. I could feel my daughters behind me, talking, laughing, not paying attention. My eyes flew open and I sat straight up in bed as every photo I’ve ever seen of the craggy cliffs of the Scottish Highlands flashed before me. We have to pay attention, I thought to myself. We have to watch our footing and keep an eye on each other. I slept fitfully the rest of the night, tip-toeing around the fear that hovers over me.

Several years ago, I traveled to the Grand Canyon. It’s a thrilling site and for a moment, I wished that my kids were with me to see it. It was December, the rocks around the gorge were shiny and slick  with ice, and little kids skittered and scampered right up to the edge, hung over the wide-spaced bars or crawled under to get a better look. I had to go sit in the car to catch my breath. It wasn’t the height that bothered me. It wasn’t even a fear of falling–not me falling, anyway. It was the kids dancing so precariously close to the edge and their parents blithely watching that made my stomach knot and my head ache. I vowed then and there to never, ever allow my children or my grandchildren to go to the Grand Canyon.

Selfish? Yes. Crazy? Probably. But I could see the headline in my mind: Entire Family Wiped Out in Grand Canyon Fall. I could see it: a grandchild ventures too close to the edge and slips. My daughter reaches for the child, her sister reaches for her, I lunge for them both and we topple over the edge with the rest of the family right behind us, arms outstretched, fingers grasping. Yet, despite my seemingly irrational fear, I’m taking my daughters to Scotland for a ten day romp through the Highlands. Go figure!

Maybe it’s just a cave dweller’s natural trepidation about leaving the comforts of home. Maybe my fears are the result of millions of years of maternal instinct forcing its way to the surface from that deep-seated paleo mind. Whatever, to quote my sixteen-year-old granddaughter. We’re going to be careful; we’re going to have the adventure of a lifetime; we’re going to have a blast! And if we fall, it will be the coolest fall of all: falling in love with Scotland.

Just for Fun!

Bubble 02

An outdoor, see-through comfy cave. I want one!

How Lucky Am I?

sunrise sunflower

It doesn’t feel like a Friday. I woke up this morning thinking, “Ugh! Monday!” which is a pretty crappy thing to think any day of the week that I find I’ve opened my eyes on yet another glorious day.  As my friend Mary is fond of saying, “Look at the alternative!” which is not waking up at all. I’m not so old that I’ve begun counting the days or the hours but I have lived long enough to know that every day is precious. And every day we can learn something new or be reminded of something we already know.

 Courageous Follower

While teaching leadership classes back in the 90s, I discovered a book that is still very relevant today: The Courageous Follower: Standing Up To and For Our Leaders.  I became enthralled with the idea of followership and contacted the author, Ira Chaleff. He is a kind and gracious man, dedicated to his study and his work, and he was happy to talk with me.

His book became a staple text in my classrooms and followed me into Leadership Academy as well as other classes I was teaching at the time, English (at several levels) and Introduction to Psychology.  Along with Echkart Tolle’s A New Earth and Osbon’s A Joseph Campbell Companion, The Courageous Follower has a permanent place on my desk. Through the years, it has inspired me to challenge myself and my leaders, transform my work and my life, and most importantly, have the courage to leave untenable situations. I’ve given away dozens of copies while keeping for myself one dog-eared, torn-covered, hard-back copy–signed by Ira.

A few weeks ago, I found Ira through LinkedIn. As I suspected, he’s been hard at work but not spectacularly active on social media. We exchanged pleasantries through email which gave me a chance to think about the different directions my life has taken since leaving my teaching position, and pondering how I ended up here still clinging to great books and memories.

I heard from Ira again yesterday. In my reply to his email, I had a chance to mention that I’ve been daydreaming about getting back into the real world of business and education, “but I spend my days writing novels and wondering what I want to do with the rest of my life.” Here is his response:  “I need to laugh – the rest of the world would like to get away from their jobs to write their novel and you’re writing novels and wondering what to do with the rest of your life!”

I laughed, too. And I’m still laughing. How lucky am I? I’ve always dreamed of spending my time writing, doing what comes naturally to me. For me, writing is like breathing–most days. Some days there’s a hitch, I feel like I have a writer’s version of hay fever–twitching thoughts and fumble fingers– and I can’t quite get it together. But most of the time, I breathe and write freely and easily and without the stress of having to leave my work and my joy to go to a desk job.

I am thankful for this opportunity to do what I love to do but sometimes it takes someone I respect and admire to gently hammer home, with a smile and a laugh, just how fortunate I am. I may never be #1 on the NYT Best Seller’s List, but I’m thrilled to sell books at all. I write books that I’d like to read and I tell stories that are different and hopefully inspiring. And I get to do it every day and every night from the comfort of my own comfy cave. Seriously, how lucky am I?

 Just for fun!

Follow the Leader

This photo from Pinterest feels appropriate today.