Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Listen...listen...listen...

We all just want to be heard right?

We all feel like we are interesting and we have important things to say and we just want someone to listen to us.

I see it all the time online and in person and in articles and in books and on TV. It's universal. We all just want to say what we think and have someone listen.

Number one reason marriages fail? Lack of communication. That lack of communication can then manifest itself in to other things that look like the reason the marriage failed. Infidelity. Money issues. Disagreements in how to raise the kids, where to buy a house, when to change jobs, on and on. But at the root of all of those other problems? Lack of communication. If you aren't talking to each other, and listening to each other then problems happen. Then the problems get to be so big that they can't be fixed just by listening. Not anymore.

Think of the last big argument you had with a friend. What caused it? Why did it get so big? At any point did you say, or feel like saying, YOU AREN'T LISTENING TO ME!

Because that's the real key right? Not just that we all want to talk, but that someone needs to listen. Not just wait their turn to talk.

Just witnessed an online exchange where someone went in and erased all of their offensive posts so it looked like they were being attacked out of the blue by people who disagreed with their original post. Then they get to play the victim, you weren't listening to me! You are just so mean, you filled in your own nasty thoughts when I didn't say anything like that! Well except you did. And they took screen shots of one of the worst so now what? You shared. We listened. You're an asshole.

But how often does that equivalent happen in the off line world? Where you are in an argument with someone and they try to tell you that they never said what ever horrible thing it is that they said. You can't screen shot it, or rewind the tape to prove it, so it becomes an even bigger fight. You said that, you know you did. Own what you said or I stop listening to you.

And when we stop listening to each other we stop caring about each other.

Politics has its own special way of dealing (not dealing?) with this. On the right you get the people who refuse to talk about issues. There is no racism. We will not talk about it because by talking about it you cause it. You are the problem! On the left you have people who are so concerned with the "correct" way to talk about it that they end up doing the same thing. We can't really say racism because that's a trigger word and anyone who has ever suffered from an incident could get really scared if you say that word, so... So what? Now we either refuse to talk about it or we have to be so careful in how we talk about it that we give up? Both of those options lead to the same road. Nobody talking, nobody listening, and nobody fixing things. And both sides yelling that it's the other side's fault.

Then there are the times where politicians apparently weren't even listening to themselves talk. Meet the Press back in the Tim Russert days was brilliant at this. He would interview someone on an issue and then pull up their own quotes about the same issue that were the opposite of what they were currently saying. Oh how I miss that man. The Daily Show has filled that gap a bit, but since they are doing it as comedy and outrageousness it's not quite the same punch as seeing the person sitting right there confronted with their own words. Are you listening to yourself? Why do you expect us to listen to what you are saying when you don't really even believe it yourself?

Then there is the lie.

When you have taken the time to listen. Really listen to someone. And you find out that they have lied to you? How inclined are you to ever truly listen again? You might try. You might really give it a go, but there is that voice in the back of your head that snarks here and there..."Oh really? Are you sure? Is this true? Not like you would ever lie to me right?" How many times can someone lie to you before you stop ever listening to what they say? Sure, you hear them, you acknowledge them, you might even find them interesting, but are you really listening?

So next time you are watching an interaction, say a round table discussion or a televised debate, pay attention, really listen. And see if the people involved are really listening to each other. Or if they are just waiting for their turn to talk.

The next time your child wants to tell you about their day really focus in and listen to them instead of just waiting for them to take a breath so you can remind them of whatever chore needs done.

The next time your spouse shares a story about their day look up from your phone, stop thinking about what's for dinner and listen.

And when you have something to say to someone? Make sure you believe it yourself. Make sure it really is the truth. Make sure it's something you want them to hear.

Listen...listen...listen..

Monday, June 29, 2015

Overwhelmed...

Okay, we are reaching the end of June, halfway through the year and I am assessing where I am with my yearly goals.

And I am still behind.

I need to reach 105 blogs by the end of July to be caught up. Today's blog will put me at 82 so I need to write 23 more between now and then to get caught up. Not ahead, caught up. And as you might have noticed I've been writing something every day for a pretty good stretch here to get that close.

I am currently 3 books ahead of schedule for my reading goal, however I need to read 6 books between now and the end of July to keep on track. Looking at the break down I scheduled myself for 7 books a month. Seven? Every month? What was I thinking? Well I guess I will be revisiting Sandman this year after all. Cranking through those again should pad my...I mean....help me reach my goal. Yeep.

What I am realizing is that I was feeling pretty dang optimistic at the beginning of the year. When I swung from the thought of let's not have any goals at all this year to oh that's a bad idea, I need goals let me make some goals... I might have swung a little hard!

So I'm already thinking of next year and when goal setting comes along. I think maybe not so much a year without goals next year, and definitely not a year with what the heck was I thinking goals but some sort of middle ground. Or really something else entirely. Like a goal to do something completely new, not on my radar at all, some new skill or new activity, or something...

And yes, I totally see that because my current year goals are feeling really overwhelming right now I am deflecting by looking at next year already.

So right now my goal should be to keep plugging away at this year before bugging out on next.

How often do we do that? Decide that our current situation is too much to deal with so we look to something else? Still needing to deal with what we have going on, but it feels like too much so we decide maybe later. Or maybe never at all. Granted, these goals of mine are all self imposed. Nothing will happen if I don't reach them. I will just say, well that was a touch unrealistic and move on. My job isn't hanging in the line because of them. My life isn't going to change if I don't get all of the blogs written and books read that I said that I would. It just doesn't matter in the grand scheme of life. But it's still something I'm striving for. Something that I want to do. Something that seems pretty out of reach right about now.

How many other times has that happened? Where I have been working toward something and the realization hit that I might have just bitten off more than I could chew? And how many times did I distract myself with something else instead of dealing with the issue? How many times did I not? The times I put my head down and just kept plugging along. And can I make this feel like a bigger victory than just reading and writing when it's done? Can I weave it in to a "you did it!" narrative?

23 blogs
6 books
5 weeks

Let's see how I feel then...

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Same..same...

Sultry days fragrant with the blossoms of summer flowers
Bees buzz lazily romancing the blossoms
Slow trickle of moisture running down a tall glass of tea
Eyes slowly closing dreaming of the ocean

Hot, sticky day, lilacs causing itchy eyes and runny noses
Stinging bugs making a feast out of sweat slicked skin
Condensation leaving pools of mess everywhere you rest
Wishing you were at the beach, any beach

Kids playing games of hopscotch, basketball..
Water balloon fights and running through the sprinklers
Hearing the distant sounds of a musical tune
Ice cream! It's the Ice Cream Truck!

Chalk powder everywhere, skinned knees
Mud and water tracked over the freshly cleaned floors
What now? Oh it's almost dinner time...
Why does he always drive by at 6?

Summertime and the living's easy...

When is the first day of school again?

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Gotta get those dots...

The original weather forecast for today put as 100 which is miserable hot no matter where you are but when you are of the belief that anything over 85 is torture it's really the pits. We are in a really hot stretch. After a crazy warm winter that led to no snow pack which means the state is dry. Well dry for Oregon, not like California dry which has been doing this for a few years now, but dry. But the heat and the dry makes it look like a bad bad fire season and miserable summer on the horizon. Which means that I will be whining about the heat all summer long. Brent is really excited. He's not a big fan of the whining. He could have said on more than one occasion, "You grew up in the desert for goodness sake!" Well yeah, sure, but I left it....

So yesterday when I picked him up from work he asked what the weekend plans were and I said, "Laying around whining about the heat?" he wasn't on board for that so I told him my plan B. Get up early and go up to Multnomah Falls and hike to the top before it gets too hot then we can go from there. See, I have to get those dots and if I don't get them early when it's not as hot the odds of me getting them late when it is are slim to none.

Since he's very supportive in most all of my wacky obsessions he was on board for an early hike so off we went.

In all of the years we've lived here I've never actually gone to the top of the falls. We have either been with people who couldn't make it all the way, the trail has been rained out or the bridge has been bashed in by a boulder. So I've gone to the mid point but never all the way up. Brent and C went a few years ago when Kim and Dave were visiting but it was the weekend Dad died so I was back in Albuquerque and missed it. Today I was going to the top! The sign says it's a mile and the trail is mostly paved now so it should be easy peasy lemon squeazy right?

The bottom. Normally we go to that first bridge and turn around. Not today!

Oh wait...11 switchbacks? Uh oh...

Looking down on the parking lot and lodge from about halfway up. I might have been taking pictures to stall.

Wait a second...you said the whole hike was a mile, how can I be only at 7 and be at a mile??

No matter how exhausted sometimes a side trail must be explored.

Because then you get to places like this one. 

This is standing at the top of the falls looking down. Wheeee....

Little falls and pool above what we think of as the start of the falls.

Time to head back...Back up the stairs...oh my...

Just to show a little perspective on one of the switchbacks and how steep they could be.

Looking back up at the falls from the bridge area. Made it!

So the mile sign was a lie. And considering it tells you it's a mile from the base area and from the first bridge I should have guessed that...I was just too focused on doing it. Bring water. Go when it's still cool outside. Expect to sweat like a pig. But also do it sometime if you can. It's gorgeous.

And just to be humbled a bit, Dave did the hike before he got his knee replacement surgery. If I had felt like giving up at any point that would have stopped me. I won't be out stubborned!

And? I've got all my dots...






Friday, June 26, 2015

It's a good day...

The first blog I ever wrote was in reaction to Oregon Ballot Measure 36 which amended our state constitution to define marriage as being between one man and one woman. I was sick to my stomach when it passed. Just so sad and upset. So I wrote a quick blog. It was on another platform and has long been gone, but it was the first ranty blog I ever did.

I can remember thinking there was no way it was going to pass. How could it? Nobody I knew was going to vote for it. And yet, it passed. And the state I lived in put wording in to our constitution that some citizens were less than others. I was sick. I cried.

That was overturned last year and I was so relieved. It spent almost 10 years on the books and it was finally gone. And I cried again. Relief and joy.

Today was even better.

Today it doesn't matter what state you live in, where you were married, what your neighbors think or the church down the road believes, you can get married. Freely. Openly. With all the rights that brings with it. Marriage equality.

I was in the car when the news came out. When the first reports of how SCOTUS had ruled hit the air. And the tears started. I am really glad that I was pulling in to the parking lot of the gym as I heard because I couldn't have stopped crying if I wanted to. Tears of joy this time instead of sadness. Relief that the ruling was on the side of more rights, not fewer. Joy that friends who were married in states where it is legal now didn't have to worry about job transfers or even out of state visits. That their marriage was now legally recognized no matter where they went.

My Facebook feed has been filled with joy today. People sharing the news over and over again. It's huge. It's amazing. It's important. I have liked so many status updates I'm afraid Facebook will think I'm a spammer and deactivate my account.

A few years ago talking to C I told him that I didn't see this happening in my lifetime. That the bigotry was too entrenched. I am so glad I was wrong. The sea change that has occurred over the past decade is astounding. And the changes will keep coming. People will see that everyone is the same. That we all strive for the same dreams. The same hopes for our future and the future of our children. We will get to the point where it will be odd to think of a time that this was even an issue. I am so looking forward to that time.

Now, I'm not naive. I know this ruling isn't going to change hearts overnight. Hell the murders in Charleston and the debate over the Confederate battle flag this week should show us that deep held bigotry doesn't just go away. But the shock over the murders and the call to take that flag down do show us that change keeps rolling. It keeps coming. We just have to keep pushing.

But today? Today I am just happy. I am smiling. I am crying. I am filled with joy.

Equality.


Thursday, June 25, 2015

Still a work in progress...


A few years ago I wrote this really enlightened blog about being kinder to myself and realizing that I look fine. And how I was going to do better at it and all of that good stuff.

And I realized today that you never hear about that from me. You hear about me saying my workouts are frustrating because I'm not making the improvements I want. You hear me talk about dieting and the frustration in finding that balance between the incredibly strict diet plan I would need to follow to stay at a low weight and the enjoyment I get from eating the way I want to eat. But I haven't said that I still try to be kind to myself and flattering to myself.

I do. I still try to practice that. Some days are easier than others, I will give you that, for sure. But I still try to make sure I smile at myself in the mirror. I still try to make sure I wear clothes that make me feel pretty. I still try to give myself the compliment I would give to other people. And today is a working on it day so you get pictures and examples.

Why is it a working on it day? The workout and diet frustrations I talked about earlier. I have two big old zits that are making me insane. I'm almost 47 years old for fucks sake I shouldn't have gray hair, wrinkles and zits. So when I realized that I was doing the harumph harumph harumph I took a deep breath and started in on the positives.


See those shadows? Those are muscles. I'm not flexing here, that's just lifting up my arm and I can actually see muscle differentiation. And that flare out at the side? More muscle.  My arms and lats are coming along nicely. 

See that arch? I really like my eyebrows. I couldn't be half as sarcastic as I am if my eyebrows didn't do this wicked arch.


Okay, this one needs a longer explanation because it's kind of a plus and a minus shot. I wanted to get the full skirt in as well as the shirt. I love a swishy skirt. You all know that. And this is one of my favorite shirts. I call it my Greek Goddess shirt. See the straps and the way they twist? It's very Greek to me, and the color reminds me of green goddess salad dressing so it's my Greek Goddess shirt. And it's also quite flattering for my figure. Which is where the minus of this shot comes in. I tend to take shots from angles where my curves are downplayed. The eyebrow shot above? It was cropped to get just the eyebrow but the whole shot shows a lot of cleavage. It's not something I would generally show. Even though I rock a lot of cleavage usually. My friends tease me about the accidental cleavage shot all the time because I will crop and turn and angle to make sure that the first thing you see in a shot ISN'T my boobs. So I downplay them. But the truth is I love my big boobs. They are lovely. They flatter my big hips and my big butt. They give me balance. And they rock in my Greek Goddess shirt.

So there is a front shot of the shirt. Big boobs and all. And it shows the full curve of my figure. Big boobs to the smaller waist that flares back out to the not as small hips. The same curve goes on from the side. I have no angles, I am just a collection of curves stuck together. And that's perfect for me. I'm built for comfort not for speed and that suits me just fine. 

Work in progress. Someday the positive self talk days will be the only self talk days. I'm sure of it. But until then I will keep reminding myself that...

I'm good enough, I'm smart enough...and doggone it...people like me. 


Wednesday, June 24, 2015

More Stories...

I've been meaning to re-read Elfquest for awhile. One of those things that I kept thinking about but not doing. Then I realized I was 5 books behind in my reading challenge for the year and thought, I can make up 5 books and get a little bit of padding by tearing through the 8 Elfquest books. (I keep picking up these 800 page books so instead of getting credit for 2 books, I get credit for 1 even though I'm still reading a ton!)

So yes, it's gaming the system a little, but it's my game so it totally counts. If I get behind again I've been meaning to revisit Sandman as well so I'm covered there.

Okay, so anyway, I've talked about the books before. That I really think as much as anything else they shaped my world view. My belief systems. I was young enough when I read them the first time, published every 4 months as comics, waiting ages for each new issue instead of being able to devour them in a few settings like I do now, anyway...young enough when I read them the first time that they really resonated with me.

I was never in to Dungeons and Dragons and honestly (and I know this is sacrilege) I found Lord of the Rings to be dull. But Elfquest? Those were my elves. Especially the Wolfriders. Maybe the Go Backs a little...but mostly the Wolfriders. I had a crush on Skywise, I thought being a healer like Leetah would be incredible but Nightfall was who I wanted to be when I grew up. I spent a lot of time reading and re-reading those books. Writing fan fiction in my head where I was part of that tribe. Cutter's quest was my quest.

Reading them again is like rediscovering an old friend. There is still comfort there. Knowing what happens, where they end up, who makes it and who doesn't. The stories are familiar. Being older I see that it's all the same story that we all tell over and over in all of the big stories. The hero's journey right? But Elfquest was my first real hero's journey. The first one I felt the earth move for when I read it. The first one that didn't just entertain me, but changed me.

Now the funny thing is that on Goodreads you rate books after you read them. Five stars is the top. So far I've re-read three of the books and they are all four stars. You would think that for something that shaped me as much as they did they would have to be five right? But nope, they get four. Four is really good. The illustrations are beautiful. Though there is no wonder between Barbie and the Elves that I have never been happy with the way I look, why can't I look like pretend things? The story is good. But it's a little weak. Not something that I noticed at 10. And part of the weakness is due to the original format. There are reminders all through out the story of what has come before, but they are awkward, a character will think to himself, "Oh that's why there was an owl in the woods." I get it, you want me to remember the owl from two issues ago, or 5 issues ago, but trust your reader to remember. Or to go back and rediscover it on a second reading. (The Harry Potter books are great for that, re-read them all and follow clues you didn't realize meant something the first time through) But because of these awkward asides the story is just really good instead of great.

But as a whole? For the series? For the way it shaped me? For the resonance it has held in my life? I give it the full five geek stars. It's my lodestone. My holt. My soft pretty thing. And I will howl for the tribe in my dreams...

And I will catch up on the books I am behind in my Goodreads challenge. Whew...

And I still wouldn't mind growing up to be Nightfall.