gail and nikki

Some Musings...

“What are you doing?”

        Running errands yesterday, I saw a question painted across the back window of a Jeep that asked, “What are you doing?” There was no context, no clue about what the question had to do with, and as I drove by, I wondered.

        I'm still not sure why it hit me so hard, but as I headed home and mulled the strange message over, it occurred to me that it made a difference how I read the question. It could be WHAT are you doing? What ARE you doing? What are YOU doing? or What are you DOING? And I think the way I would answer the question changed with each version.

        What am I doing? Good question. What I've come away with is that I need to pay attention, to be fully present in each thing I do, to act more mindfully and with intention. I sometimes forget that each of us has a finite amount of time here, and how we spend each precious moment DOES make a difference.

The ENGINE, not the caboose! :)

        When I see myself as the little train that could, I have to remember that the character in that story was an ENGINE, not a rail car in the middle, and not the caboose!

        I have to remember that to climb those hills in my life, and to keep going in the right direction no matter how I feel in the moment, I'M the one who has the power. Because of that, the results are not only my responsibility, but within my control. God provides the fuel, but it's me who needs to keep pushing. If I give over that control to anyone or anything else, then it doesn't matter how much “I think I can,” because then I've become the caboose. No power. No control.

        SOOOOO, after a day of being the caboose yesterday, I'm resolved to remember I'm the engine! Thanks to one of my Friends here who gave me the little train image ... I think I can, I think I can.


        Isn't that pretty much the whole issue most of the time, the timing?

        I was in a funny place for a while, trying to figure out why I felt lost, so I just did what my father told me to do if (when!) I got lost in the woods. He told me to resist the urge to wander around, but just stay where I was until either I figured out for sure which way to go or someone found me. That long ago advice was right for this SP journey, too, because both things happened, and I'm not feeling lost anymore. The path was right there all along.

        Timing. Maybe the biggest question is what's right for this moment. Sometimes it's time to just keep walking. Sometimes it's time to reassess before we keep walking. Sometimes it's time to recognize what's right instead of what's wrong. Sometimes it's time to pare tasks down to the simple things. And sometimes it's time to jump up and down, hug the people who came, pat ourselves on the back for hanging tough, and be grateful for being alive and changing. So I'm not in a funny place anymore. I'm here, right where I need to be.

        Thank you Friends for being there, for not judging me, for helping me find myself, for giving me the space to reflect until the timing was right. We truly are all in this together.

"Abnormal, but Not Suspicious"

        LOL, Okay, so I get it that this phrase pretty well describes me in a nutshell (no pun intended), but it's ALSO the formal diagnosis of my breast scan! WHOOP!!! They told me earlier that I'd have to wait another whole week, but I was emailed results just a few minutes ago!

        From the look on the technician's face (and her overly calm demeanor), it apparently had the look of something really awful, but I've been told it's "not suspicious." I'm advised to be vigilant and to do some lymphatic work to help clear what seems to be congestion (they said perhaps from an infection), but I've been cleared of anything more malicious (or malignant) than that! The first thing I did was offer prayers of thanks, the second thing I did was tell my wonderful Bill, and the third was to come here and pass the good news to my praying friends.

        The outpouring of love and support - was truly overwhelming, and I thank each of you for your prayers, your faith, and your kind words of encouragement. This is a blessing, and a reminder that nothing beyond this moment is promised. I'm listening.

        ...and I must remember with a smile this new description of myself , "abnormal but not suspicious." :D

Chickens (with pictures!)

        Well, the planets finally aligned, and both the chicken coop and the chickens have arrived safely!

       chicken coop

        They're a year old - got them from a friend who raises chickens - and they came with names. :)

        four chickens

        Left to right, they're Rudy, Reba, Ruby and Roxie (my friend names chickens that she keeps from the same year with names that begins with the same letter. We did the same thing when we raised sheep, but I never knew people did that with chickens, too!)

        The coop is wonderful - they get locked into the house itself every night (not just the run) and come out clucking and cooing in the morning. They started laying within two days of getting to their new home, so I guess they're satisfied with the accommodations...and the eggs are amazing.

        We're still in the process of teaching the dog how to act...well, more specifically, how NOT to act, but she's bright, and she'll figure it out. :)

        german shepherd and chicken coop

        I've wanted to have chickens again for quite a while, so this is really fun! Got to go now to make some eggs for our brunch!

        PS - Some folks have asked what breed they are: Blue Laced Wyandottes. :)

My 65th birthday - oh, my goodness! :)

        Yup, somehow it's happened - I'm 65 today. No deep thoughts, I'm afraid, just frankly surprised to have been on this Earth that seems like more than one lifetime. All I can say is, "I guess I'm not done."

        I'm grateful to have been allowed to come to a place of greater gentleness and calm, more laughter, and more honest caring - each of these at least SOME of the time!

        A little weight loss, more intentional activity, and some specific knowledge - all from SP - have helped improve my physical condition and my emotional balance in just seven months. Again, wow...

        Thank you for the gift of that life, all of you. May this year be a banner one for each of us!

Home again, home again, jiggedy jig!

        My mom used to say that as we drove up to our house after every long trip when we were little, and it ran through my mind as we got home yesterday. :)

        So, we made it home safe and sound, thousands of miles traveled. It was a wonderful trip...I'm tired, and very grateful. There were some 23 tornadoes and one major flood that we "just missed," and actually seeing the devastation is so much different from viewing it on a little TV screen. I'm both thankful for our travel mercies, and so very sad for those whose lives have been turned upside down. The power of wind and water, evident on this trip, are truly humbling - I think I'm still processing.

        Aside from the weather events, I have to say that what impressed us most was the beautiful diversity of this country. We saw so's all different, and each place has its own special charms. We talked to lots of people, and we learned a lot. Some of you asked me about pictures, but I'm afraid they're all in my head. (All our little phone does is connect to another number, and we didn't even bring the camera.) As things settle in my mind, though, I'd love to share some of the stories.

Khaki Eggs

        All this change in me has gotten me thinking... about color.

        Art teachers have assured me that all colors of paint make black, and physics teachers taught me that all colors of light make white. I beg to differ, at least with the art teachers; Easter egg dying with my family taught me long ago that mixing all colors gives you dark khaki. All of Dad's Easter eggs came out khaki. However his egg began, whatever color or pattern, he always kept adding and adding, re-dipping and evaluating until he'd added all the colors at least once. And they always came out khaki.

        It makes me think of the things to which we aspire, the things we covet, the characteristics we endeavor to cultivate in ourselves. In our minds, we see each aspect as it is in its pure state - the individual colors in the cup. But our attempts to be all things to all people, or perfect at multiple things on top of each other cannot possibly produce any single color in our lives. What something looks like in its pure state - alone and undiluted or un-amended by its surroundings - isn't how it appears when combined with other colors in our lives. How could it be?

        Maybe that's one of the reasons that sometimes having, achieving, or developing something always turns out to be a little different than what we expected. But that can be a wonderful thing if we come to absolutely embrace the dark khaki that comes from the many trials and "dippings" in life. We're all khaki eggs, and what a blessing!

        Thanks for the metaphor, Dad. Your khaki eggs continue to give me hope. :)


        What's something I always think I have until I find out I haven't? Perspective. The degree to which I'm able to understand events and people in this life seems to depend completely on the "angle" from which I view them.

        I know that's a really obvious thing to say, and common to all creatures (I'm reminded of the kitten who looks behind the mirror looking for the OTHER kitten), but I think the car trip last week gave me greater insight. As the scenery sped by, some simple truths emerged - things I need to think about as they relate to my life:

        1. It's hard to get a good view of anything if I'm going too fast.

        2. Closer things seem bigger, and can block the view of more important things in the background.

        3. Light makes all the difference.

        4. Getting a better view, greater perspective, means I have to forget about the schedule, stop, get out, and really appreciate what's right here, right now.

        A week away from all of you makes me realize how much I value your advice, appreciate the kindness of your encouragement, and need the gentle nudges. The focus on weight loss and fitness IS important to me, but so is all this rethinking and reworking of priorities that you help me accomplish. Thank you, thank you, thank you!


        As my brother, sister and I were cleaning out Mom's house after she passed away last May, we found a small wooden sign next to her mirror with just one word on it - COURAGE. We all looked at each other, then my brother left the room for a moment and my sister and I cried. We cried with realization, empathy, and pride - our mother had been amazingly brave and resolute in her battle, gentle and kind throughout. We wondered how perhaps that one thought, seen and contemplated daily, helped her maintain that beautiful attitude.

        My siblings gave me that little wooden sign to take home with me. It sits on the bookcase by my bed, and I cherish it not simply as a memory, but as a call. All of us need courage to face the things given to us to strengthen and deepen our spirits. Whatever those wounds, whatever our gifts, the realization that we ARE brave, and we CAN endure is one that comes late to some of us.

        My mother was a fervent believer, as am I, both of us knowing the comfort and strength to be found in our Lord. I believe that little sign was Mom's reminder that she also needed to do her part, as I need to do mine. Courage.


Paralysis of Analysis

        My weight goes up a little, and suddenly my brain is in overdrive. I examine myriad possibilities - could have been this, or this, or that, or...or...or? And then I get so stuck in the "whys" that I forget the simple things - the "whats." Whatever else might be involved, the truth is that for the past 10 days or so, I've eaten a little too much and been a little less active. My brain knows all the rest, water, emotions, season change, sleep, etc. etc. But really all I have to do is the simple things, and the complicated things will take care of themselves.

        Years ago in AA, an older gentleman who'd been sober for decades listened to my rant at a meeting and suggested kindly that he recognized my problem...paralysis of analysis. The inability to move in the right direction because of being SO VERY busy figuring out the reasons for everything was keeping me from doing the simple things. He was right then, and he's still right now. His advice has helped me stay clean and sober, one day at a time, for 29 years, and I think it can help me with this, too.

        So, back to basics! Thanks everyone for your suggestions, your kindness, and your warmth. I never expected any of those, and I'm so very, very grateful.

From now on...

        I'm in kind of a "sweet spot" right now, so maybe I need to take myself with a grain of salt or two :), but I'm wondering how I'd feel in a year if I actually managed to speak kindly to myself (while still being accountable for my choices) for that whole time. I guess I'm nowhere near as bright as I thought I was, because it's never occurred to me before that the kindness I believe we're meant to show others is the same kindness we need most from ourselves. I mean, the THOUGHT of that crossed my mind, and I've even taught children about self love and positive self talk, but somehow it didn't apply to me. I missed the MEANING of it - what it looks like in the day to day conversations with self. Anyway, I'm going to change that, one moment's thoughts at a time. Thanks everyone for helping me see that light!