i love Bob Marley. The song Three Little Birds has been a companion of mine for a few years. When I think that the world is going to heck in a handcart I start singing this song to myself. It never fails to lift my spirits and give me hope even in my darkest times. 

Today I’m reminded of what a little faith can do. In 2003 I divorced and in quick succession I was laid off. Taking a 20,000 per year cut in pay I pulled up my big girl panties and made magic happen in my budget. Then a few well timed wind falls came my way and every little thing was all right. 

Tomorrow my youngest daughter will graduate from Oregon State University. Today Nike made her an offer she can’t refuse. Monday my oldest daughter starts as the morning producer for KATU a local news channel. My cup overfloweth. 

I remember in the dark times worrying that college would not be possible or that jobs will be scare or that I hadn’t modeled enough strong, capable behavior for them to take on the world. While I take nothing away from their own deeply held fierce determination and strong capabilities (stuff I can marvel at and hope to emulate) I do feel a sense of pride in what things I did to help them reach this peak. There will certainly be more peaks and more valleys for them, but they seem well equipped and strong to fly through. 

I love the words of Kahlil Gibran regarding children. 

You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth. 

The archer sees the mark upon the path of the Infinite, and He bends you with His might that his arrows may go swift and far. 

Let your bending in the archers had be for gladness. 

For even as he loves the arrow that flies so He also loves the bow that is stable. 

It’s been my privilege to usher these two toward adulthood. Now I have the privilege of watching their arrows fly far and wide. 

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24 years ago I was prepping to be a mother for the first time. I was tired and full of baby. A baby whose sex I did not know and whose good health was only a wish.  I could have peeked and done all sorts of tests but I didn’t.  I was lucky both times in the baby lotto. Healthy and hearty each one. 

I couldn’t know on that day what kind of work was in store for me. The mind numbing, bone deep fatigue that made up the better part of the next 20 years. I also couldn’t know the incredible joy that waited on the other side of that very steep climb. Watching the swift and achingly inexorable growth spurts, weaning, toilet training, driver’s licenses, broken hearts, dashed dreams, pimples, periods, achievement awards, new boy friends, first crushes, first kisses, prom queens, opening nights and now real world jobs. 

I’m incredibly proud of the trajectory their lives have taken. My children will go farther and faster than I can imagine. They are sure footed and agile as they move in their own elements.  Sometimes they are stubborn and slightly mental (I wonder where they got that from?) I only hope they see themselves with the love and admiration I have for them. 

You don’t need to raise children to learn how to become human. For me, it was a blessing to care about someone else’s life more than my own for a bit. It was also a shortcut to a place of understanding. How different the mothering can be. How harsh and difficult. I’m glad I became a mother, it began a healing process that continues. 

To any one who mothers, enjoy your day. Foster care for humans or animals, parenting sibling when your own parents are gone, watching over an elderly parent, making a home for someone. You deserve to see that the world is a better place because of what you do. 

Hoku was not a pup for me. I was a cat person. I would not love her. It was something my husband had cooked up to torture me with. She was “just” a dog. 

How wrong I was. 

Hoku had blue eyes. Not a normal color for a dog’s eyes. When we realized that her mellowness, for which she was chosen from the litter by the kid’s Dad, was something more troubling it led us to a surgery to try and restore her sight. That very expensive surgery when we had little enough money to buy food month to month was when I knew I’d been suckered in by that tiny black pipsqueak of a dog. I would do anything for her. 

After 24 years (15 of them with Hoku in them) of being tethered to a life of rythmn I am suddenly cut free from a world of schedules and considerations about her needs and a considerable amount of dog hair and poop   The kids have woven themselves in and out of our daily existence but Hoku was a constant. Everyday she needed food and to be let out and cuddled. She stopped meeting me at the door each day several years ago. Demanding to know where the hell I had been.  Now She lifted her head from her bed and then wandered, slowly, to me instead. 

The years had been very kind to Hoku. She was remarkably illness free through out her life despite her start. Her eyes over the years went white and sunk into her head but her coat remained lovely and she also remained lovely and regal. Even when she began to struggle to get up. 

In many ways Hoku is or was the last tie to my children’s childhood. When I divorced their father and we three decided to sleep in the same room, on futons, the girls slept as a Hoku sandwich. We were broken but her continuity was part of our healing. 

The last year there was a lot of talk about when was the right time to discuss her end. Marc and I privately hoped she would go in her sleep. Marc, being a diabetic who sometimes needs to rearrange his blood sugar in the middle of the night, has lost his night time companion. A loss of unimaginable pain. I no longer have the burden of arranging for her care in our absence but it doesn’t feel like I am free. I feel sad. 

I’m guessing the lack of dog hair management and poop pick up will begin to feel like time returned some day. Right now it just hurts to think. Yesterday we drank Dog Farts at Hoku’s wake and the strong drink was good for me. I went home and slept and instead of chasing away the sadness I just felt sad. I wasn’t up to doing much so I just didn’t. 

Hoku ended her days with us the same way she began them. She opened our hearts to unbounded love and tenderness and that gave way to our grief as we said goodbye.  After a diagnosis of torsion we knew we couldn’t let her suffer along to suit our desire to keep her near. 

I’m still a cat person. But my life was forever changed by this good, sweet dog. Someday when I don’t feel I have the wanderlust I do now WE may get another dog. Right now the open road beckons me and I want to keep my options open for travel and classes that don’t require me to do the calculus of travel time to let the dog out or if she is lonely and needs love. The last time I had that freedom I was 33.  I’m now 57. 

I hope there is a heaven for dogs. Certainly Hoku deserves to be there. 

The last time I blogged was 8 frigging months ago.  I’ve gotten a new and very demanding job that I love.  I’m getting married in precisely 2 months and a couple of days.  I am not scraping the barrel each month to figure out how to make it to next month.  

It’s different.  I still struggle with FUD – fear, uncertainty and doubt – but the long days make for a more hopeful me.  One big change is that I am attempting nearly every second of the day to open my mind and heart to joy.  You don’t make it to this age, generally, without getting knocked on your arse HARD.  Some of us have a harder time getting up.  I always got up and then started running.  

I’m attempting to slow down, to be mindful of the release from the schedule I had where each moment of the day was accounted for.  It’s not my natural state this joyful openness.  Right now it’s hard work.

I made a promise to myself that I would write more.  I haven’t done that.  I’m going to try and be better about that promise going forward.  Writing is a lovely and essential thing, like knitting and I need to keep at it.  

I’m headed to my shower.  A 4 hour affair.  I’m going to try and stay open to the joy of friends and family.

This title is appropriate for several reasons. The annual migration of the long warm(ish) days of summer has come. Soon the days will be so light lite that I’ll struggle to see the sun at all. Arriving in the dark as well as leaving from work. We everyone I pass will be coated head to toe in some sort of protective fabric or device. An umbrella, boots, the puffy coats, heavy socks. Wool, and lots of it. It’s cumbersome to commute like this. Every movement accompanied by a swish of coat, the loss of manual dexterity of mittens. The difficulty of headphone management around the glasses and the hat. Everyone rustles together in the train car and the sheer volume of down and poly fill mutes the sounds as we roll as if we rode in a box of cotton balls.

Yeah, first world problems.

This contributes to me stewing more since there is less time outside moving. Not in the culinary sense, either. I spent such a good summer seeing the sights of Portland and Salt Spring and places in between. I’m having a difficult time letting it go. Not like the previous three summers where I felt I was emerging from a coma. Anemia took a big swipe at me and knocked me down. I’m no longer feel like I need oxygen going down the street.

The last 8 or 9 months have felt a little bit like a coming out party, and you can interpret that anyway you like. I wasn’t feeling anxious or upset just happy and engaged.

But the debt ceiling, fiscal cliff dust up started up my engines of FUD. Fear, uncertainty and doubt. I’ve been limping along ever since. It doesn’t help that I’m 56 and can’t quite manage to figure out what I want to be or do when I grow up. My daughter, who is newly in the work world, is having a difficult transition too. I’m coaching her, but it feels lack luster. Am I the right person? Is just hang in there and make work a daily service a good coaching strategy?

I wonder what my path should be to model a good end of career trajectory. Or should I even factor what it appears as into the equation?

More to come.

I love this fiber festival so very much. Held each February for many years, I’ve been allowed to participate for 4 years in differing roles. Sometimes I’m a consumer, a student and now a volunteer. I have a badge with the much coveted (by me at least) Angel designation at the bottom. It’s a step forward for the people that run Madrona in their trust levels of me. It’s also a step forward into a world 5 years ago, I only hoped to explore a little more deeply.

Jen is here with me. We are evenly yoked in the ways that matter and grown ups about the ones that don’t. She is a wonderful, trusted friend and traveler. I don’t know what I did before she was in my life.

Marc is on the other side of the continent, we are also evenly yoked in the ways that matter and grown ups about the others. He is incredibly supportive of my nearly gravitational strength pull into this world. I am thankful not to have to think about what I did before he came into my life. He is the bedrock to my castle made of sand and I love him to bits. We’ve talked each morning and it gets me off on the right foot, so to speak, each day.

Now I’m going to get into the shower at the decadent hour of 8:15 which is normally reserved for holidays and weekends. May the wool be with you.

I’m on a flight to Louisiana. A place I’ve never been. Based on the movie “Beasts of the Southern Wild” it’s a place I never need to go. Except for work.

I’m currently sandwiched in between two ginormous dudes in the middle seat. One of them is too large for the seat so he can’t have the armrest down. I gave the same dude a polite warning that I would need to get up at least once. He replied it would be 5 dollars each time. To which I replied it was 10 bucks just to sit next to me. I’m glad he thought it was funny. It could have been ugly otherwise.

There is a troll in front of me who feels it is her right to recline her seat AAALLLLL the way back. I don’t think she’s taken into consideration what’s happening to the person behind her. In fact I’m sure she hasn’t. I’ve made sure to put my knees into the back of her seat and jostle her really well the one time I got up to pee.

The little darling two rows back has finally gone to sleep. This means a merciful end to the shrill, armor piercing shrieks that little terror was emitting just 20 minutes ago like some sort of demented live action toy. I expect they will resume during approach. Followed up by quick, nearly useless shushing in Russian.

This flight is nearly 4 hours long. I’ve never wanted drugs and alcohol so much in my life. I’m just afraid I’ll fall asleep with a leg tucked oddly and I will be lose circulation in my leg like some drunk passed out rockstar and have a stroke (Eddie Money anyone).

I may have to get up and pee again just to have a chance to jostle the troll one more time. This soothes me in ways that brief peeks at SkyMall and the crappy free wifi offerings do not. I’m not much of a shopper and I don’t read People magazine so you can imagine.

That’s why I’m penning this love letter to the unfriendly sky’s.

FYI? I bought the extra legroom on the return flight.

I’ve been looking at a fair amount of nonsense over the last few days. Between Christmas and politics I’ve had a rough time of it. It’s the special Christmas special season. A Christmas special to end all specials. Or a moldy old chestnut from some video vault with its saccharine message of love and peace which only barely hides the real message. Buy stuff and buy it now. Impress your friends with stuff.

Ugh.

My daughter mentioned to me that she was doing the 26 Acts of Kindness to extend some sort of loveliness out into a world that is dark, both figuratively and literally at this time of year. I’m a bit of a Bah Humbugger each year at Christmas. I try to hide it from my kids but I suspect they are not entirely surprised. Christmases at my childhood home were notoriously fraught with unexamined and unexpressed feelings. I suffer continuously with the “my gifts are underwhelming and wrong” neurosis.

Yesterday, despite this being a low point among low points in my financial history I decided to participate in my own way. I may not make 26. The gestures may not be grand. Still, I hope to make someone’s day and get them to smile

Yesterday I bought coffee and treats for the gentleman behind me and his wife. Admittedly this was a first world sort of gift. No homeless kids will be redeemed for life by buying a coffee for a man and woman with plenty of food. I didn’t look to see who was behind me before I offered. I could tell the man was shocked and suspicious at first. I think his wife thought I was trying to pick up on him. But when he realized it wasn’t a gimmick his face softened for just a minute and he reached over and squeezed my arm just briefly and shyly said thank you and Merry Christmas.

I felt tears come to my eyes. Just like the Grinch I felt my three sizes too small heart crack open a little. The work of the season often shadows and weighs down the joy to be found. It was odd to feel something other than a heavy decision about what chore needed doing next.

Here is my admonition. Love each other. Be kind. 26 simple acts for each of the lives lost at Newtown. Be creative. Enjoy yourself. Shock and surprise people with armored hearts by providing a little bit of heaven on earth.

I’m not quite sure what these days mean anymore. We’ve come through a rather untidy election on a side I feel comfortable with. That was a wild ride whose ending happily makes me happy this time. Next time, I’m not so certain of the outcome.

Now this? Another set of violent random shootings. One here in my home state. Another painful reckoning. Another day after. We fear the terrorists outside our borders while we blindly ignore the “rights” of the ones inside. Why is our culture so addicted to guns? Why is there a discussion of arming teachers in the classroom Why would ANYONE find that to be an acceptable solution? Why is there a ranking list for deadliest school shootings? Can someone tell me why there is more than one?

More disturbing to me is the gun rights pundits who adopt this terror attack as a poster child for their version of liberty. To scare you into believing that government jack booted thugs will arrive at your door and take your gun if you don’t believe in their version of liberty.

I have all the liberty I need and more and I don’t carry a gun. And it’s not because you have or carry a gun that you or I are free. It’s because we have a governing set of principles that allows us to speak freely and elect our officials by the rule of the majority. Not because you can shoot a bottle off of a stump.

I’ve inserted myself into situations that would have had a tremendously different outcome had I been carrying a gun. I stopped a big Samoan teenager from slapping his girlfriend around just by getting in his face I’ve made rowdy swearing tough teenagers leave the train because young children were sitting right next to them and they couldn’t contain their language or their behavior. Just imagine if they had a gun, or I did. The ending would have been very different.

The worst offender of them all? The people who want to tell you that drunk drivers and cars are like mass murderers with guns. Nope, not even close. When is the last time you heard of a drunk driver who went out and drove into a theater or a mall or a school with the expressed purpose of killing someone? Never? Thats right, because drunk people are addicted to alcohol and do stupid murderous things. Mass murderers have a plan and they use guns because they are portable and effective and can be used in a pre-meditated crime easily.

So if guns can be equated to cars? Let’s license every single one of them and make every person that owns one buy insurance for it and take a class to get a license. If they can’t pass the test? No license? No gun Oh wait you say, we don’t want that! Then please stop using that weak, stupid argument. People with guns kill people. Frequently.

Its unthinkable that we, as a civilized nation, cannot come to a agreement to make our society a safer place without having a gun in the equation. Have we learned nothing from the nuclear arms race? Making more missiles made us less safe, not more. We are addicted to some sick Hollywood simulacrum of the wild west made to fit into a gangsta rap video. I only hope we grow up soon.

My weekends are often very busy so when I get one that isn’t, it’s a miracle. Or it feels miraculous. I’m not entirely clear on which one and I don’t suppose it matters much at all. I do know that they are incredibly healing for me. I sleep as much as I want. I get to the gym. My shoulders come to a normal range as I pursue some of my hobbies. Just me and the dog makes the house quiet.

This is especially good after I’ve taken my dog and pony show on the road for a week. I train several people on software and do lunches and smile pretty and joke endlessly. I’m on display for 2-3 days with no downtime except at night. I really look forward to the post work vegitude in my room with no one to nay say my tube choices. Sometimes that is all I can manage. I will say I never choose reality tv despite it being the guilty pleasure for some. It makes me crazy to see people behave that way. I’ll get off my reality tv soap box now.

My free weekends are in the shape of an arc metaphorically speaking. Beginning with Friday night where my energy is typically low, I might do some light cleaning and laundry to avoid having my entire Saturday morning buried under a load of chores. The point of this is to get in as much free time activity as possible. Knitting, spinning and weaving are tops. Cooking comes in a distant fourth these days owing mostly to no one being in the house but me. Last night I went to the gym, knitted a little, worked on the grand nephew warp some and then made a nice dinner for myself. The last due in large part to chicken already being purchased and needing only a defrosting, and to the lack of home cooked meals in the previous 4 days. I’m not a picky eater, but I do eat a lot of fruits and veggies which is different than most on the road meals.

Today I will head out to yoga as I promised myself I’d do last month. It will be the terminus of the arc I’ve made this weekend from low energy to recovered energy to sadness that the weekend respite is over and I must adjust to the demands of my work schedule. No brakes until Christmas.

There is the odd and wonderful feeling that comes at the height of the weekend between Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning. Almost a feeling of weightlessness. My spirits are lifted. I’m usually humming to myself and nothing feels like a crushing bore or weight. A heat pack for my shoulders isn’t required clothing. I feel much like a flower whose stem has been trimmed and placed into a glass of water. Revived, head up to face the sun.

May we all take the time to trim our stems and jump into a fresh bit of water through out the next three weeks.

May the arc be with you.