My Stream of Consciousness (Sorta) in Honor of My Birthday*

*These are my Morning Pages for today, January 5, 2012.  And I share them with you.  I say "sorta" in the title because they aren't entirely stream of consciousness.  I have gone back and edited them in a few places.  For more information about the practice of Morning Pages click here and here.

Dear Blog,

I know I have neglected you for many reasons some of which I may get into in this blogpost.  Today is my birthday.  When I was much, much younger I hated that my birthday fell on this day.  Right after Christmas, actually the 12th of day of Christmas.  People tended to forget or would give me a combo Christmas/bday present.  Whether we’re willing to admit it or not, it feels good when we’re remembered, when others think of us.  Someone cares for me.  Someone thinks I make a positive impact on their life.  (Thank you Stephanie for letting me know that I do!)  In the past, and still sometimes even today, good ole sensitive me has taken it personally when someone forgets.  My gremlins and insecurities start showing up.  And it’s probably just that people truly are busy or that remembering birthdays just wasn’t such a big deal to them growing up.  (In fact, last October and November were so crazy busy for me that I didn’t send out birthday cards or even acknowledge certain people on Facebook on their special day.  And I hated not doing it.  The first of each year I write out everyone’s birthdays on my new calendar.  It’s been a New Year’s ritual for me for quite some time.  So I at least saw their names and sent them positive energy out into the world.)
Darn, I didn’t want to go off on a diatribe about my birthday.  The point is that now I kinda like having a first week of January birthday.  While others are feeling the blues after the holidays, I have something to look forward to.  At the beginning of the new year and end of the old year I am reflective.  My birthday makes me really reflective.  And you may know that I’m already a very reflective type so I’m REALLY reflective today.  Not to mention that 2011 was an extremely difficult year for me.  A big kick-in-the-ass kind of year.  I had a few big highs but some even bigger lows.  The last half of the year I found myself in survival mode.  Even though I know that’s gonna happen at different times of my life, I. Just. Don’t. Like. It.  Not one bit.

So that’s one reason for neglecting the blog—survival mode on top of the busy holidays.  Most people love the holidays.  For me they are a lot of work.  I much prefer Easter.  But that’s another story.  So in my reflecting I’ve been thinking about this blog.  And one big thing comes up, the thing we all wrestle with—FEAR!  Fear of what others will think:  Bloggers are just self-absorbed and selfish.  Don’t they have better things to do with their time?  (I used to think these things about bloggers until I started reading some really good blogs.  And I’m so very grateful that they take the time to blog.)  Why isn’t she doing her real work (i.e., stuff for the College)?  And my own insecurities about myself:  Why would anyone be interested in what I have to say? 
And there’s the biggie that I know many, many bloggers wrestle with: how much of myself do I put out there?  What will people think?  Will I piss someone off?  Will I lose my day job if I say what I really think?  Will I be rejected?  What if no one (or very few) actually read what I have to say?  What would that mean?

Meanwhile, I’m aware of how we put everyday people (doctors, firefighters, mental health professionals, clergy, college professors, etc., really anyone who is in a helping profession) up on pedestals.  Not to mention what we do to our cultural and local celebrities.  I’ve also noticed within the creative community that I follow on-line how certain bloggers can be put on pedestals, too.  I know I do it.  I’ve got a few girl crushes.  Add the fact that I live in a small town, the “everybody knows your name” kinda town.  (Yet, there’s A LOT of good things about living in one.)  I really don’t want to do or say anything with this blog that would prevent me from helping others or hurt those I love.  Damn!
But then I feel I have SO. Much. I. Want. To. Say.  I'm not totally for sure why.  Perhaps it’s because I was so shy, quiet, introverted, and insecure for so many years.  So many years of keeping my mouth shut while thoughts swirled around in my head.  Perhaps it’s a curse (or blessing) of being a creative individual.  I have so many interests.  So much I want to put out there.  So much I want to express.

Then there’s the inspiration piece.  So many bloggers have inspired me.  It feels good to inspire others, to be liked.  Even if you’re not a blogger yourself, if you’re on Facebook and you get a lot of “likes” to something you post and it makes you feel good, you may have experienced what I mean.   I know a behaviorist would just call this intermittent reinforcement.  But whatever, I’m not a behaviorist.  I’m not into rats.  The principles of behaviorism can be helpful, but I am more of a humanist for sure!
One more reason I wish to blog or Facebook or tweet.  It’s about connections.  Sometimes I miss the depth and richness of the connections I once had.  Like when I was in college.  And then there’s things like grad school, career, work, marriage, and kids (you know—responsibilities) and you start to lose a part of yourself.  Plus I’ve moved far away from my college friends and don’t get to see them nearly enough. 

One thing I’ve been doing over the last year is making lots of new connections on-line.  And yet, I don’t care what anyone says about on-line anything, It. Just. Isn’t. The Same. as face-to-face, human interaction.  Yes, I know on-line is cool and helpful—you can connect with ppl all over the world and I've learned so much from others.  People may open up more on-line. Etc. But even if I can see your face on the web, I can’t truly feel the emotion.  I can’t experience physical touch or perhaps, even the energy of our connection.

Half my life ago I turned 21.  Remember when you couldn’t wait to turn 21?  A bit serendipitous for me today.

Okay, this blogpost is wearing me out.  I’m taking myself and life too seriously.  Time to go take my beautiful, creative, imperfect self out to play a little on my birthday.  :)

Hope you are making meaningful connections in your part of the world.  And yes, playing together is a great way to do it.  See, I had to add play in there!  And hug those closest to you.

P.S. I'm trying to be brave with this post and not experience what Brene Brown calls a "vulnerability hangover."

P.S.S. How could I forget this big high from last year?

Picture the Holidays -- Days 2 and 3

#picturetheholidays Reframing the Season Day 2

Theme for Day 2 was Reframing the Season.  Looking at the holiday season in new ways.

My husband put up the tree on Friday night and I decorated it.  I was tired.  I remembered the prompt and thought it'd be cool to take this shot just straight out of my iPhone via Instagram.  I love that the shot is imperfect as well as my living room: items strewn about, tree skirt not on yet, etc.  Imperfect.  Just like life.  Just like the season.

And the ironic thing I'm willing to admit is last year we bought a new, skinnier tree because a) it fit better in this space than our other fatter one and b) it takes less time to decorate.  Every year I end up decorating the tree on my own.  And I don't like that because it feels like a chore.  But this year Miles helped out a little, and then I realized one reason why I end up doing it alone.  I'm a bit of a perfectionist when it comes to a stupid thing like a Christmas tree.  I want all of the ornaments of a certain kind spread out, I want my favorite ones front and center, and I want the angel, star, and heart ones near the top.  Meredith was gone at a football game while I decorated it this year.  I just asked her and she said she would have helped.  Lessons learned.

Theme for today, Day 3, is All You Need is Love.  Can't help thinking of the Beatles whenever I hear that phrase.  Again, I remembered the prompt in the evening.  Otherwise I may have gone looking for hearts outside while it was still daylight.  So instead, I searched my tree for some hearts or the word "love" when I found this glass or crystal heart.  I don't remember if it was gifted to me or if I bought it in a shop somewhere.  All I know is that I love how it glistens.

As I went to upload photos in my camera I found a series of self-portraits by my daughter.  This really filled me with love.

Vews from the Midwest Inner Excavation Retreat

I was gone for about 5 glorious days last week at Liz Lamoreux's Be Present Retreat in the Midwest (Culver IN) based on her book entitled Inner Excavation.  I've followed her blog for quite awhile and secretly harbored the wish to attend.  When I discovered that she was having a retreat within driving distance I just couldn't say no.  I'M SO GLAD I SAID YES!  The retreat was co-led by artist Kelly Barton.  Her shop has been a favorite of mine on Etsy for a very long time.  Heck, I gotta promote Liz's shop as well.  It is so amazing to finally get to meet these two very special people.

I can definitely say that it was one of the BEST experiences of my life.  I'm still processing it all.  For now I will share photos I took on the third day when we went on a photography walk along Lake Muxinkuckee on the campus of Culver Academies.

the lake

Lake Maxincuckee
tree over water
my favorite

this one's my favorite. i may have to enlarge it and frame it as a reminder

a happy mistake



reminds me of part of my childhood in Utah

lovely lilacs

Can't ya just smell 'em?

More to come...