Tuesday, May 28, 2013

The Care & Feeding of Your Imagination

Picture this…your imagination as a ravenous, Tasmanian devilish animal in need of your personal care. Only
you can tame this beast.

Everyone slips into a rut sometimes. It’s easy to
forget all that goes into the care and feeding of the great and powerful Oz…scratch that—imagination.

Whether your imagination falls into the category of playful puppy or sweaty-toothed madman (nod to Dead Poets) monster, I’ve got your creative go-to list right here.

Imagination 101

  1. Take It for Plenty of Walks
Step outside your comfort zone. Go to a rodeo or stop by a Harley-Davidson store. Ride in the back of a police cruiser (I’m cannot be held responsible for any delinquent behavior that may incite you to get yourself there). Take a rockclimbing class. People-watch your heart out at the park or Trader Joe’s if you feel so inclined.

  1. Brush & Groom It as Often as Possible
Use your hands. Create. Paint furniture. Build a birdhouse. Plant an herb garden. Doodle. Be artful. The physicality of creating churns imaginative thinking and opens the door for new thoughts to enter in.

  1. Careful What You Feed It
Imagination has the potential to morph into worry faster than you can say Anxious Annie self-soothing by vacuuming down M&Ms. If you stuff the beast full of negative thoughts you are practically guaranteeing it won’t digest well. Imagination’s stomach will be sending false signals to the brain—tricking it into worrying about nonthreatening, unlikely outcomes. Make sure your kibble is full of worthwhile bits.

  1. Know When It’s Most Apt to Bite
A keen awareness regarding said beast is the first step to training it well. Does it bite when scared? Will it attempt to leash and drag you down a mud soaked, thorny road if you leave it outside in the rain overnight? Your imagination craves care. If its ribs are showing do not be surprised if when you reach out to stroke its mangy head your ordinarily mild-mannered critter suddenly goes all Cujo on you.

  1. Surround Yourself with Other Imagination-Feeders
Much like a trek to the dog park, go—go where the creatively passionate gather. Join Pinterest. Frequent museums. Network with excellent conversationalists. Advertise your love of books. Share the brain-bulging love. Imagination sharpens imagination.

  1. Let It Out of Its Cage
Remember Tom Hanks with his memorable line, “There’s no crying in baseball” in A League of Their Own? I’m here to officially declare—there are no limits in imagining. Your imagination is desperate for plenty of run around time. You can’t risk stifling it.

Brainstorm often. Let your imagination run wild. Free with its jowls flapping in the wind.

What are some ways you are cognizant about the care and feeding of your imagination?

*photos by stock.XCHNG

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

This Land Is Your Land…

My husband and I decided to chill last weekend so we watched a movie. Hmm, that’s weird my post last week started this way. Okay, there you have it—we like watching movies. It’s our thing.

This time we chose Promised Land. While it didn’t blow me away, I was surprised to find it was one of the few movies my husband and I have ever paused repeatedly to discuss. A high-powered corporate natural gas company is interested in Pennsylvania farmland. And they have their ways about securing the deal. Town members don’t know who to believe—a small-money enthusiastic environmentalist who’s telling them the grave risks of fracking or the likeable, eager proponents of natural gas.

The movie reminded me of the immeasurable power land can possess.

As my husband and I raised points relating to the dilemma in the movie I thought of the book Mudbound

I thought of my childhood days paddling an old fence my dad fashioned into a raft. I spent hours on our pond, giving “tours” as I rattled off fabricated names of trees and flora and fauna encircling me in abundance.

I thought of fields covered in bloodshed—wars ignited over land ownership.

A scene came to mind of an ongoing spat the main character in the novel I’m reading (Where’d You Go Bernadette) is having with her neighbor. (The Hatfields and McCoys have nothing on them.)

I thought of how even within my affluent town people are judged based on where they live—down to the street and acreage.

I thought of the homeless and the untouchable pride some folks have in property.

So, did I like the movie? I thought it was good and it got me thinking and you know how much I love that.

As I closed my eyes and tucked into bed lyrics from grade school funneled through all I’d been sifting through…

“This land is your land. This land is my land.
From California to the New York island; 
From the red wood forest to the Gulf Stream waters 
This land was made for you and Me.

As I was walking that ribbon of highway, 
I saw above me that endless skyway: 
I saw below me that golden valley: 
This land was made for you and me.”

And I thought of how we’re always complicating things down here—throttling the goods, choking them in the muck and the mire. I dreamed of how it’ll all be different one day. To step on that land—that land made for you and me.

Have you ever contemplating the worth you assign to land? Does it matter all that much to you? Can you imagine what it might feel like to have your land be everything to you?

“The battles he'd fought were the kind nobody cheers you for winning, against sore feet and aching bones, too little rain or too much, heat and cotton worms and buried rocks that could break the blade of a plow. Ain't never a lull or a cease-fire. Win today, you got to get up tomorrow and fight the same battles all over again. Lose and you can lose everything. Only a fool fights a war with them kind of odds, or a man who ain't got no other choice.” 
― Hillary Jordan, Mudbound

*photo by stock.XCHNG
**thoughts & prayers are with OK!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

This Is Somewhere Between 35 & 40

To chill out last weekend my husband and I decided to watch This Is 40. Can you say ego boost for the marriage? Sure we’ve had our fights, taken and thrown our share of verbal punches, but man, we began to feel like we belong on top of wedding cakes after watching that movie. Don’t get me wrong, I appreciated some of the gut-real honesty in the comedy (?) and actually, I’m grateful it made us thankful for what we have.

Instead of continuing down this road of reflection, I thought I’d steer us in another direction today.

The movie did a great job of nailing some universal relationship blunders and comedic episodes. It also got me thinking about a typical day in the Miller abode.

And now you get to laugh at my expense.

A Day in the Life of This 37-year-old

This is 37…

Brush teeth only to squint when I notice the underside of my Olive Oyl upper arm swinging like a hammock

Wince at the unfortunate inbreeding of clothing spreading across my bedroom floor with the tenacity of kudzu

Apply makeup, confused why my eyelashes keep falling out above one eye

Race around to pack three lunches, dress for work, supply dog with food and water, and write five sticky notes—things I’m supposed to remember

Huh, that’s weird, when I put on my jeans the button popped off

Text husband sweet nothings (and sometimes nothing when I forget)

Order book from Amazon for next book club

Shoot an email to parents from daughter’s class (but end up spending over an hour hunting for where I stored their email addys)

Cringe when I bypass the toilet I refuse to clean because we’ll be getting a new one with the upcoming home reno

Clear dishes, pick up stray articles of clothing, wipe down counters (times each by 20 and you get the picture)

Count another “scrape” (as my daughter calls them) on my forehead when I look in the mirror

Listen to a chorus of “That’s not fair” and “She started it”

Pick a weed or two from the thousands infiltrating our flower beds

Drive girls from here to kingdom come (or rather until my butt goes numb)

Ask husband for tenth time this year if I’m 37 or 38. Have him help girls with math homework

Cook dinner and something with the color green in it so I can say I’m feeding the family healthy foods

Write, read, run, paint, or some combo of all four to preserve my sanity

Look for sticky notes I wrote earlier for twenty minutes only to find them stuck to the bottom of the recycle bag, saturated with milk and therefore illegible

Write new sticky notes

Kiss girls goodnight and smell their heads (this is a mom must)

Do something people call sleep but I’m not sure it counts because I wake up at the slightest sound and my kids have active imaginations like their mother (you know, the did I turn everything off? and what will I do if…that parade through my mind at night) so they like to visit for midnight cuddles

My kids aren’t the only ones who like midnight “cuddles.” Take care of him. Love how he takes care of me. (In-laws, pretend you didn’t read that.)

Count my big fat blessings.

Wake up and do some version of the above all over again.
Conclusion: This is exactly where I want to be right now. I love my age. Here's to 37!

Are you at peace with your age?

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Breathe Life Into Me

I couldn’t put my finger on what exactly I needed to pray. But a place for this indiscernible prayer hollowed out my insides. I felt the atrophy as one feels weakened by a fever. I felt in need…a quaking in me to ask. 

But ask what?

How could I, would I take the time to pinpoint the longing with a myriad of needs pressing in on me, pulling me, and spinning me with tornadic force?

Then I stepped outside and captured this photo…

And blue as the sky, it pierced me—what I needed to ask. All that had begun to dry up and brittle synched with clarity. A strengthening of my bones sprung from the asking.

Breathe life into me.

In the hurried.
“Mom, I can’t find my cleats” two minutes before practice. Breathe life into me.

In the stress.
Awake after hours of wrestling with sleep, declaring myself the loser and retreating downstairs for a bowl of Frosted Mini-Wheats. Breathe life into me.

In the weakness.
I can’t go through this again. This loss. This turmoil of the familiar bleeding into this relationship. Remove the pain. Breathe life into me.

In all the change.
New job. Church. Close friends moving. House renovations. Writing decisions. Contact with loved ones. Breathe life into me.

In the clogged funnel of roles.
Work a little longer. Get child to orthodontist. Pump out another few thousand words. Lungs begging for a solid run. Book club. Bible. Dog threw up. Teacher appreciation day. Breathe life into me.

In all that I am.
Wounded. Saved. Wrecked. Amped. Sensitive. Creative. Passionate. Questioning. Feisty. Restless. Open. Vulnerable. Roaring. Wandering the endless maze of my synapses. Breathe life into me.

And all I’ll never be.
Perfect. Breathe life into me.

And looking up into the shock of this tree I woke up to it, to what I needed.

For life to be breathed into my soul.

Because moments pass quickly and days are swallowed whole in the blink of time. I ached for my life to have breath restored, surging in me, my spiritual lungs on fire again.

As I write this I still feel the whisper of his breath grazing my soul, filling the hollow place of asking, needing, wanting, lacking. And it is, indeed, good.

And life is revived. Even in the asking. In the humbling act of petitioning, he’s already exhaling. Giving and giving and giving.

Have you ever been blessed in the asking?

“God, the Master, told the dry bones, ‘Watch this: I’m bringing the breath of life to you and you’ll come to life. I’ll attach sinews to you, put meat on your bones, cover you with skin, and breathe life into you. You’ll come alive and you’ll realize that I am GOD!’” Message 37:4

Taking Time

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