November

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Tomorrow is November 1st, and several of my friends will be taking on the challenge of NaNoWriMo, a month in which the goal is to write an entire novel or 50,000 words. While I have always thought this would be a great contest to participate in, I am realistic, and I know I wouldn’t get beyond day two.

However, in support of those of you who are gearing up to take on the NaNoWriMo challenge, I have decided to ramp up my blogging for the month of November. There are two reasons for this. First, I need to write more often, and second, my blog is feeling neglected.

I have downloaded a November blogging challenge from 2014, and I will use the prompts to fuel my writing of daily (or nearly) blog posts. The first day’s challenge: 20 facts about me. In my mind, I figure that’s 20 days of material right there!

Stay tuned, Friends. November will be a great month for us. You’re going to learn some things you might wish you didn’t know….

Alternate Reality

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I have gotten behind in my TV viewing. In fact, I have gotten VERY behind in my TV viewing.

First, let me clarify. By “TV viewing,” I mean the one show I once watched regularly, the very evening it aired: Grey’s Anatomy. It was a brief escape from reality, offering me one hour a week when I could be in an alternate reality. But as I mentioned, I am behind.

Today, I was folding laundry, a task I typically relegate to my children, but one was sick, one was out of the house at rehearsal, and one is away at college. So folding was my job today. And it was the perfect chance to watch an episode of Grey’s Anatomy.

I became completely caught up in the show as I smoothed shirts and matched socks, stacking the clothes pants-shirts-underwear-socks by wearer. I was right back into the characters and the story line.

For the most part, I remembered to fast forward through the commercials (don’t you just love DVR technology?), but when a movie trailer came on, I watched it. It was for Joy, the movie with Jennifer Lawrence and Robert De Niro, about the woman who created the self-wringing mop. I saw the movie, and I have to say, it did not rank among my favorites.

And yet, here was an ad for the movie, and it seemed that they were planning to release it again. On Christmas Day. Did the movie really do well enough the first time for a re-release so soon?

But wait… After so long without watching TV, it didn’t take me long to cross the bridge and enter the television’s alternate reality. Remember I mentioned I am VERY behind on my TV viewing? Yep, I am watching an episode of Grey’s Anatomy from LAST year!

Leading

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My son is off on a camping trip this weekend. And from what I hear, he may be scaring some of the younger Boy Scouts and Webelos who are in attendance. I think he would call it … leadership skills.

When the boys are starting to settle in for the night, my son will walk around to the young Scouts, approaching those who have chosen a top bunk.

“I see you’ve chosen a top bunk,” he will say to them matter-of-factly.

“Yup,” they will mumble as they burrow themselves deep into their sleeping bags. “Top bunk.”

“The first time I came here, I thought I was cool and chose a top bunk, too.”

And then he goes on to tell them that back when he was a Webelo, he attended this very camp out to this very location. And because he was young and … well, inexperienced … he, too, thought the top bunk was a good idea. And it was… at least, at first.

In the middle of the night, the slippery vinyl of the camp mattress had an argument with the equally slippery nylon of his sleeping bag, and the combination tossed him out of bed and onto the floor. And the floor was far, far below the top bunk.

The resulting impact awakened everyone else in the cabin. In the middle of the night, such a sudden and unexpected noise sounded like a freight train slamming into the building. (I was not there, but I was told). And the poor kid ended with up a concussion that lasted far longer than the thrill of sleeping in the top bunk. Actually, it was a pretty tough couple of months, but that’s a story for another day.

When my son is done telling his story, some of the younger scouts will change their original choice and move to a spot that’s closer to the floor just in case. But some of them will stay right where they are. And my son can retreat to his own bunk (a lower one, of course) with the peace of mind that he has done what he can.

Because sometimes we lead by example. And sometimes, it is far more effective to instill a little fear and lead by sharing your own hard lived experience.

Stash

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Over the weekend, I was vacuuming the kitchen when I got the idea to vacuum under the stove. This is not something I do on a regular basis for a couple of reasons. The first reason is that I don’t have the time, and if I can’t see the dust bunnies gathering under the stove, they might not bother me. The second reason is that if I remove the stove’s storage drawer, the cats will hear the commotion and come running. They know that in their overzealous play, they often carelessly chase their toys under the stove, abruptly ending any play session in progress. They also know that when we pull the drawer out, they will re-discover a veritable gold mine of lost toys.

Anticipating a sudden influx of cats, I pulled the drawer out and set it on the floor. A cat ventured into the space where the drawer had been and began sniffing around. I peered under the stove. “Huh,” I said aloud, surveying the array of formerly hidden items. “I wonder what made them put those under there.”

J heard me musing. “What’s under there?” she asked from her spot on the couch in the living room.

“Um… you’ll have to come look,” I responded. I wanted her to see what I was seeing. This was not the usual collection of cat toys and pompoms, and part of me was in disbelief.

She got up from the couch and came in. I was bent over looking under the stove, and she looked over my shoulder and smiled.

“Isn’t that funny?” I asked. Under the stove was a stash of those plastic tags that come on bread bags—the ones that are used to hold the bag closed. I could not imagine how the cats managed to not only get them, but to chase them all under the stove.

“Wanna hear something funnier?” she asked as she raised her iPod to take a picture of the colorful pile.

“What?”

“C and I have been stashing those under there for months waiting for you to find them!”

Ha! They got me!

But of course… you know what they say about payback. You never know when (or where) those tags might make a reappearance!

Creativity

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I am struggling through a dilemma that has slowed my blogging. Lately, my mind has been laced up tight with ribbons of business and busyness, trapping any trace of Creativity deep inside where I cannot access it. Every now and then, Creativity gets restless and tugs at the laces, poking a shiny bright finger through like a ray of sunshine piercing a sky heavy with storm clouds. It is taunting me, daring me to race after it. When I reach for the light, it disappears back into the far corners of my mind, and when I follow, Creativity is nowhere to be found.

I am in search of Creativity, and it is elusive. It stays one step ahead of me always, darting around corners and out of sight when I am almost close enough to touch it. I am cranky and moody and not myself. Without Creativity, I am lost.

This weekend, I spent some time hunting and engaging in activities carefully designed to entice Creativity to come back. These activities generally involved a mindful pause in the crazy weekday activity that is often my life. On Saturday, I went out for a walk, bringing my pocket sized camera just in case I happened on a moment that might inspire. Color. Nature. Feeling…. Moments happened, but Creativity did not rejoin me on my journey.

On Sunday, I baked some bread. I made two delicious loaves of sourdough, their warmth and goodness filling the kitchen with heavenly smells. But creation does not equate to Creativity. I tried sewing, but I got tangled in the threads of all that wasn’t being accomplished, and I was back to square one. Perhaps an artistic endeavor—drawing, painting, wire work, or journaling.

But time said no. And Creativity does not come to stalkers.

Creativity comes to those who are still and quiet and patient and open. It comes in the moments when our filters are down and we are least expecting it. It comes on walks, in stillness and in prayer. It comes when we are just about to fall asleep and our minds have given up the stresses of the day and are just beginning to slip into dreams. Creativity comes when it wants.

I am looking to rediscover the voice that Creativity abandoned, the voice that has become buried in the mire of every day chaos. I think I am getting closer, but one never knows. Creativity cannot be forced to join me, so I must enjoy the journey, wherever it takes me. Who knows? What I seek may be around the next corner!

Thoughts on Gorillas

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The following is a snippet from the conversation between three of the teens in my car on the way to the movies on Friday night:

“Did you know it’s illegal to have a lady gorilla in your backseat in Massachusetts?”

“Well, what if I smuggle the gorilla into the front seat? Would that be illegal?”

“I’m pretty sure any time you use the word ‘smuggle,’ it is illegal.”

Wait… what? Was this covered in Drivers Ed, or do they only cover this particular law in Massachusetts?

Regardless, me being me, I had to look it up—the dumb law, not the word smuggle. And guess what I found? According to dumblaws.com, in Massachusetts, “No gorilla is allowed in the back seat of any car.” Who knew?

What do you think the lawmakers were thinking that day? Were they testing their constituents? Was there a reason for them to make this law? Or perhaps they were having a horrible disagreement on a particular part of some bill they were trying to pass, so they agreed only by throwing in some completely nonsensical clauses (just for kicks, of course).

And then, I got to thinking… perhaps it actually is legal to smuggle a gorilla into the front seat for transport. I’ll bet that’s a yes! Not that I’m planning to transport a gorilla (at least not in Massachusetts) any time soon….

[Image credit: Freeimages.com/Kalysha McCarthy]