Shallow Roots?

We are going on our third year here in Santa Monica.  Culture shock after living in Ashland for over thirty years!  We did know this.  I grew up not far from here, Lakewood, and Tim grew up in the Bay area.  But things have changed.  That is actually quite the understatement.  It’s a different world now…yes, that’s better.

When Tim decided to take this amazing job offer, we were both very excited.  A change of pace, a change of scenery, me proudly boasting ‘I can live anywhere for a reasonable amount of time – it will be an adventure!’  Yes, it is.  The first year in the Marina, I believe, looking back, I was basically in shock.  While I loved living so close to the water and seeing all kinds of marine wildlife on my daily walks, I had a hard time with the close proximity of so many human beings.  I had a hard time with getting out into the traffic just to go to the grocery store and  having to navigate a new roads and then the ‘search and seize’ of a parking spot once I arrived.

After a year of Tim biking to work (to avoid the traffic) and feeling a bit claustrophobic inside the apartment inside the big building inside the big complex, (a box in a box in a box) we decided to move again; this time closer to his office in Santa Monica.  My diligent daily rental search paid off.  We were lucky and found this two story condo in a row of only five units, six blocks from the beach!  And by Santa Monica standards – affordable!  Tim walks to work now and I walk along the beach every day.  It keeps me sane, I know.  I look out over the vastness of the Pacific Ocean and block out the metropolis behind me.  I am practicing mindfulness and gratitude.  I focus on the moment I am in and all of the blessings that I have in my life.  I try to breathe out the pain, the grief, the worry that plague me in the dark moments.

Recently I have decided that in my attempt to survive in this unfamiliar world and operate on auto pilot until we make another change, I have been strongly resisting the urge to put down any kind of roots. I hesitate to make the condo ‘too homey’ because ‘it’s temporary’; I was hesitant to reach out to make new friends because ‘it’s temporary’; hesitant to get involved with anything because ‘it’s temporary’.  It IS temporary.  But I see now, that I need to allow some shallow roots to grow.  They don’t have to anchor me permanently to this place; I just need them to ground me a little.

And so, I have joined a book group with some wonderful women who are becoming my friends.  I am ‘cozying up’ our condo because it IS our home.  I am exploring more options for getting involved in something meaningful because it will feel good to do good.  I am beginning to see that although the roots may be shallow, they are strong enough for now.

 

 

 

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Family

I have been reflecting a lot on FAMILY.  Maybe it’s because of the holiday season; maybe it’s because of recent and upcoming visits by some family members and others moving away.  Maybe it’s because FAMILY is at the core of my being.

I was raised with lots of extended family interaction.  We would get together almost weekly for big family spaghetti dinners with aunts, uncles and cousins.  These dinners would take place at whichever home Grandma was living in at the time.  As a child I never questioned why she moved from house to house.  In my innocent eyes Grandma was simply a blessing and I just figured we had to share her equally.  Later, as an adult, my mother made a comment to me about her – my father’s mother.  She said, ‘Grandma was difficult to live with.  Why do you think she moved so often?’  I don’t remember the context of the conversation because I was so taken aback by that remark.  Obviously my mother’s relationship with Grandma was much different than mine.

Are family relationships becoming more difficult with each generation?   As my children grow into adults I (and they) seem to be experiencing more and more complications and difficulties.  They have spouses, or significant others who sometimes come with children and some are still trailing exes behind that seem to loom in the shadows, threatening the balance of the relationship.  Each of my children, too, has another set of parents and step parents that complicate their lives.  Often extended families come attached to the steps, too.

I had one set of parents; three siblings; two living grandmothers; lots of aunts and uncles who were all still married to their same spouses, and lots of cousins of all ages. That is not the case with my kids, and many kids today.  FAMILY has changed.  It has morphed and grown until it is bursting at the old hand-sewn seams of time and is being replaced with PEOPLE IN HYPER-EXTENDED RELATIONSHIPS (my term for steps, exes, etc.).

Even as adults, I want to hold my children close.  I want to enfold them in the warmth of OUR FAMILY.  But even our immediate family consists of me – mom/stepmom and my husband – dad/stepdad and children/stepchildren – siblings/step siblings.   I feel we are fortunate.  We all get along.  We work through difficulties that arise.  We make an effort to stay connected and close.  We love each other.

But the children are caught in a balancing act.  They must constantly juggle steps and exes and various hyper-extensions.  And try as they might, it is difficult to keep all of those balls in the air.

Little did my mother know that dealing with Grandma, however difficult she seemed to be, was nothing compared to what our children have to do in the name of FAMILY.

 

 

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What if…

This morning on my walk I stopped to look out at a flock of seagulls sitting on the sand, all facing easterly, all still and silent.  What if they are all meditating, praying for peace?  What if each of their little bird hearts is beating out a rhythm – peace, peace, peace?

My gaze wandered upward to the tall palms, rustling ever so slightly against the backdrop of clear blue sky.  What if the palms, too, are chanting – peace, peace, peace?

The waves, crashing to shore and receding – peace, peace, peace.

Now my imagination was sparked and I turned to the sea and could picture, clearly, schools of fish swimming in unison -swishing – peace, peace, peace.  Dolphins diving and leaping, chattering – peace, peace, peace.  Coyotes in the dessert howling, owls calling out, rabbits hopping to a silent prayer – peace, peace, peace.

What if every human child was born, surrounded by nature’s prayers; welcomed into a world of peace?

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Courage

I admit I am feeling a little overwhelmed about what to write- hence my procrastination.  Oh, yes, I can always find justification for my procrastination.  If I would just sit down and write – any part of the slew of words that rush through my brain at any given moment – I could write non-stop.

My niece has started a blog.  She said – about writing – ‘it’s hard’.  Yes, I said, it IS hard.  Anyone who says it isn’t is not a writer. It’s like every time you write – and put something out there for others to read – you are exposing a tiny bit (or a lot) of your soul.  That takes courage.

I don’t see myself as a necessarily courageous person, yet I am driven to put my words out there.  So, maybe I am.

Courage:  the ability to do something that you know is difficult or dangerous:  mental or moral strength to venture, persevere, and withstand danger, fear, or difficulty.

Ok, I’ll buy that.  I have the ability to write and I am pushing myself even though it is difficult.  Courage.

I am hesitant to post this.  The inner critic voice is saying, “You didn’t really say anything.  You didn’t talk about anything.”  My courageous voice is saying, “Go ahead and post it – this is about getting the thoughts out there – these are valid thoughts.”

Courage wins.

 

 

 

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A Slight Delay

Ok…I admit I procrastinate, but when my dear friend asked me if I blog and where is my blog, I was embarrassed when I looked at this and saw that my first – and only – entry was from 3 years ago!  And I call myself a writer!

We had just had a conversation (a messenger conversation, but one nevertheless) and I told her that I journal a lot, so I thought blogging would be a natural progression.  But instead, I felt stilted as I tried to blog.  The freedom I felt while journaling to my heart’s content was missing.  What if someone reads this? (Well, isn’t that the hope when you do a blog?)  What if they don’t agree with what I write?  What if they don’t like it? What if they laugh at it?

I told her I would think about what I wanted to write while I was on my walk and then I would come home and do it.  I realized some stuff about myself on the walk.  I have grown over these past three years.  I am not so concerned about what other people think – about me – or my writing.  I DO want to express myself in words and put them out there – hoping maybe someone will read them.  They don’t have to agree with me; they don’t have to like it; and frankly, I don’t even care if they laugh. (Maybe I want them to laugh if I am trying to be funny.) The words I write come from my heart, my soul and my life experiences.  I like to read what others say; so maybe, just maybe someone that reads my words will get something from them – maybe one of my experiences will resonate with them – maybe something will make them smile, or even laugh.

I am putting my writing out there as a little gift, and a true gift comes with no strings attached.

A little gift on this day:  As I was walking with the dog this morning I reflected on all that I am grateful for.  I do this a lot.  It helps to ground me, to keep me fully present.  If I don’t work at keeping myself grounded, I find that it is easy for me to ‘spin out’.  Spinning out usually manifests as worry, which causes stress, which keeps me from sleeping well, which causes a myriad of physical woes – you get the idea – not a good thing.  So…anything to help ground me is good.

Everyday I am grateful that the Pacific Ocean is just a few blocks from my home.  I take my walk straight down the hill to breathe in the sea air, gaze out at the beautiful majestic sea and let her healing energy lift me as I start my day.  Today was an exceptionally clear day with an onshore breeze tossling the palm fronds and whipping at the tips of the waves.  The sun sparkled on the water’s surface and everyone seemed to be smiling.

As I headed home and back up the hill, I could hear the sound of children’s laughter and play from the school a few blocks away.  I am grateful for that sound – pure joy.

So…once again, I have begun my blog.  (I’m grateful for that, too.) Now, if I can just get back here in less than three years, I’ll be doing good.

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Starfish on Oregon Coast

Starfish on Oregon Coast

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On THIS Day

I decided that this is the day to start my first blog.  What to name it?  What will it be about? Random things? Or will it have a focus?  I took my cue from something my daughter, Katie used to say when she was a little girl:  If we would tell her about something that was going to happen (a trip to the zoo, etc.) she would listen and then ask, “Is it happening on THIS day?”  If we said ‘yes’, she would want to know more details; if we said ‘no’, then she was not interested in hearing more about it until it was actually happening – on THIS day.

I am trying to be more mindful of living in the moment, so I decided this would be a good place to start and a good name for the blog – to remind me.

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