T.J. BROWN BLOG
Are you okay? Because I’m not sure I’m okay.
My job, a source of deep satisfaction is gone, or at the very least changed into something almost unrecognizable. My husband still has to work at a place that may or may not be safe. My mother is 84-years-old and sad and worried. I can’t hug my children or hold my grandchildren. I’m drinking too much. I’m eating too much. I worry constantly.
Basically, I’m in the same boat as millions of people around the world.
Then there is the guilt because I’m so blessed. Everyone I love is, for the moment, healthy. My salary is guaranteed. My husband still has his job. I have extra food and plenty of toilet paper. So many people have so much less. So many people are alone, afraid, and unable to get the basic supplies they need. I’m so incredibly privileged and that causes equal parts guilt and gratitude.
Then there is the anger. Anger because our administration bungled our response to this threat. Anger because the daily press briefings are filled with lies and pandering instead of leadership and comfort. Anger because the war on truth marches on. Anger because the world has changed so drastically and has become a place that is unsafe for my grandchildren, for all the world’s grandchildren.
And sadness because of what we’ve lost, because we might never really get the chance to make the world a more equitable, kinder place. And—selfishly—sadness because this was the year that my hubby and I were going to make our retirement dreams come true and now? Who knows?
There’s so much collective grief in the world as we grapple with death, fear and lives changed beyond recognition. No wonder people are still clinging to the hope that the media is over-blowing this, that it’s just like the flu, that it will be gone by summer. No wonder they get angry when that hope is challenged.
I could get on my soap box about the importance of emotional resiliency and maturity, but why? How would it help? We know some people are going to deny this to the end. Maybe it’s because if they believe in the reality they will snap and shatter into a million tiny pieces. Maybe denial is their coping mechanism. Maybe some of them don’t have the intellectual capabilities to understand. Maybe because they believe the lies. All I know is that shaming people does no good. Screaming our anger does no good. The brief satisfaction of venting our fury, no matter how justified, doesn’t change the virus, doesn’t change the reality that we are all living with and in fact, gives us more anxiety which just leads to more despair.
So I try daily, hourly, moment by moment, to choose understanding, compassion and love. If I didn’t, this would all be unbearable.
So no, I’m not really okay, and that IS okay because NONE of this is okay. It’s just the reality of where I am and for now, I can accept that. How are you doing?
Traditionally, the full moon is about shedding habits and the new moon is about creating intentions/habits. Tonight is a new moon and I’m ready with a slew of new intentions. I’m on the precipice of so many changes that I want to ready myself for them, not like a warrior preparing for battle, but like a shepherd preparing for lambing season–with love, care and nourishment.
Our time on the side of Jay and Annie’s mountain was incredibly regenerative and the air crackled and tingled with new possibilities. My week since then has been filled with small signs that my husband and I are taking steps in the right direction. Together, we’re making changes to enhance and protect our health and exploring options in regards to our eventual retirement and what we want that to look like. But we are cautious people and change takes time and I’ve reached the point in my life where I’m fine with that.
This came across my twitter feed this morning and I thought I would share as it so accurately depicts my political beliefs.
Bernice King knows about love… she’s a living, breathing legacy of love.
Love is also a motivating factor in my life… so much of what I do is prompted by love. Love for my family, love of learning, love of creativity, love for the natural world, love for humanity. I’m even learning to love and care for myself. I love imperfectly, but imperfect love is better than the alternative. All we can do as flawed humans is to actively strive to love more perfectly. Right?
Next week will be busy—I have a ton of meetings at work, (love of humanity) several political activism appointments (love of humanity and the natural world), and of course, the gym and other home/family obligations (self love/care, love of family). Still not writing as much as I would like, but the ideas are there and the urge is returning.
My intentions for the week:
- Believe in myself
- Listen to my instincts
- Listen to others and pay attention to what they don’t say, as well as what they do.
- Spend some time alone planning
- Perform five random acts of kindness
Happy new moon, happy week, friends!
I’m currently sitting up on the side of a mountain in a house that some of our best friends built. Hubby is off skiing and after a short walk through the snow covered hills, I am sitting in front of a fire, feet up, water at the ready and my puppy lying on the couch. My dearest Annie is reading nearby, toasting her feet in front of the fire. We talk on occasion, but are mostly quiet, matching the silence of the forest that surrounds us. We are miles away from other humans and the solitude is palpable.
As I grow older, I find myself turning more and more to nature to heal and renew. Too much time spent in the city, even a city that I love, makes me anxious and unsettled. I need the relaxation that only communing with the natural world can bring. My only problem is that in my real life, I don’t get this enough. Perhaps I should make the adjustments in my life to make this more of my reality.
That’s it. That’s the blog.
It’s Sunday and I haven’t blogged since last Sunday. I was hoping to hit twice a week, but when a week is as heavy as last week’s news cycle was… I let blogging slide with no regrets. I wasn’t really in the mood to talk, write or otherwise make nice.
I’m tired of making nice… and yet, what’s to be gained by allowing myself to slide into anger and recriminations. Nothing. So I’ve pretty much implemented no politics weekends. I try not to read or share, though, there are a few commentators who I will always read and share because the information is vital. But for the most part, I avoid social media that is overtly political. I need the time to rest so that when Monday comes, I’m ready to write the post cards, attend the meetings and make the calls. But the weekend’s rest is vital.
This weekend, rest would be relative. I took off Saturday morning and drove up to Centralia to meet up with an old friend for lunch… like me she’s a writer, like me, she’s lost and found her mojo many times. It was so good to catch up. We may be critiquing one another’s work again, because we’re both low key about it… plus, she’s really, really good!
I picked up the grandchildren on my way back home… Sweet Pea and Chaos stayed overnight. Sweet Pea, age ten, is a great help with Chaos, age three, but it’s still exhausting. I hate the television and they’re so good about not asking to watch TV and, for the most part, are far too busy to want to watch anyway. Case in point, in the 24 hours that they were here, they helped me make homemade bread and soup for dinner, played candy land and Yahtzee, put together a science kit, read stories, hiked a couple of miles in a nature park, went out to lunch at Subway with Papa and helped me make cream scones for breakfast. No wonder they love to come to gammy and papa’s.
No wonder I’m exhausted.
But it was a nice break from politics and a reminder of why I do what I am doing. There’s nothing quite like a three-year-old stopping in the middle of her play to say, “I love you, Gammy!” to put things in perspective. On the other hand, while I was reading the directions for the science project, I accidentally said slide the “dick” in instead of “disc” and it was quite disturbing that Sweet Pea practically fell out of her chair laughing. The fact that my ten-year-old baby granddaughter knows what dick means is just so discombobulating…
Next weekend is a long weekend and hubby and I were all set to head east to Baker City and stay a few days with our besties for some rest and relaxation. So of course, the main interstate is closed due to a 100-year flood.
So this week’s intention is acceptance. Knowing when to accept the things I cannot change. Allowing it. If I can’t get to my friends this weekend and have to wait until March, I will survive. Breathe. Accept. Move on.
Have a wonderful week, friends.
Basically, February is a continuation of the good work I started in January only sharper and more focused. Without further ado…
- Continue to attend WW meetings. This is a part of my overall year long focus on being grateful for my body and treating it with more respect.
- Write the synopsis for Puppet and finishing editing the proposal.
- Start researching my next adult book.
- Continue my study of herbs-how to grow and use them.
- Continue to deepen my meditation practice.
- Go to Baker City for a long weekend with our besties.
- Attend the local democratic meeting to start working on the 2020 election. That is going to be one of my focus areas this year.
- Hit the gym several times a week and remember to do the PT exercises for my shoulder. (More body gratitude stuff.)
- Finish reading Voyage of the Sable Genius by Robin Coste Lewis and then pick another poetry book for my magical mornings.
- Continue to change systems at my work to better help my students and streamline the YTP process.
- Start planning for the Dali Summer launch!
- Finish reading and working through You Were Born for This by Chani Nicholas.
That’s it. Short month, short list. These lists are easier to make than they used to be because I have put joy at the center of them… what do I need and want to keep living my daily life in a way that has meaning and moments of joy. It’s transformative. Happy week, all!
I promised myself that I would look back on January and see how I did and I’m going to do just that in spite of recent political events, so here goes…
*Get back into the habit of prepping meals. I love cooking and making sure there is healthy food in the fridge for lunches and the week’s dinners are planned gives me a sense of satisfaction and contentment. So four times this month, prep food for the week. Nope. only hit two weeks and did my eating show it.
• Take my YA novel, Puppet out of the proverbial closet, dust it off and go over it. Does the story still excite me? Am I heart-writing or just dialing it in? Did it! Still considering it.
• Continue to study plants and herbs and how to grow and use them. YES! I’m growing basil and sweet potatoes in the house!
• Create a ritual filled morning of meditation, journaling and poetry. Yes, poetry. Yep. Every week day morning! I LOVE it. It’s kept me grounded this month and shown me some surprising insights.
• Get back into a regular fitness routine. Running brings me joy and as I’m currently too out of shape to run, I need to start the baby steps that will get me back up to speed. (No pun intended.) I’m thinking three days a week for the next three weeks and then re-evaluate. And get in my ten thousand steps daily. Didn’t quite make this one either, but did much better than in December. That’s something, right?
• Start attending WW meetings. Yep!
• Learn how to make salves, balms and lotions. My oils aren’t finished yet, so I haven’t done this.
• Make out our yearly vacation calendar—Baker City in February, my cousin in Tacoma, my cousin on Whidby Island, my husband’s cousins in San Diego, my aunt and uncle in Davenport, Washington and my husband’s aunt in San Francisco. And figure out how to pay for it all. Kinda? We have to rethink some of these because my husband’s schedule changed.
• Continue with my activist work. This helps me feel as if I am connected to the wider community in creating a better world for all the grandchildren. I’m cutting back to three days a week to make more time for writing, so I want my activism to be more focused and meaningful. Still working on narrowing my focus.
• Spend a couple hours at the library just browsing and reading. This brings me JOY! Just once.
• Talk my daughter into going to the hot springs resort and getting a massage after with me. Shouldn’t be too hard. Happened on Feb 1st, but I arranged it in January. That counts, right?!
• Work through Mel Robbins Best Decade Ever series. Done!
Not bad. Going to figure out February’s intentions today!
Saturday, baby girl and I headed out to Carson Hot Springs resort in Carson, Washington and spent a blissful morning of soaking, being wrapped in linen, sitting in the sauna and, in the case of the soon to be birthday girl, getting a massage. I spent the day politic free and haven’t been this relaxed in years. After returning home, I made this lovely Lavender & Rosemary Poppy Seed cake and listened to Celtic music. What a wonderful celebration of Imbolc:) Enjoy your weekend!
My intention for last week was to meditate every morning and I believe I made it… a couple of days I didn’t use my app so I can’t track them, nor can I remember them but I believe I did. I’ve arranged my mornings so that the magic comes first. Well, okay, feeding the cats is first. They insist in a writhing mass of fur, loud meows and, from my formerly feral cat, a deep grateful purr. But the next fifty blissful minutes are mine and mine alone. What do I do? Meditate, journal, ponder, practice, poetry, gratitude. Breathe. No news, no social media, no planning. Only after I’ve done those things do I grab breakfast, more coffee, plan my day and get ready for work. That time is pretty much sacred.
Good thing too, because last week was incredibly busy. I had the vocational rehabilitation counselor out to the school to work with some of my students, several IEP meetings and a presentation, among a ton of off campus school meetings. Thursday alone, I had six meetings. SIX.
In spite of that, the mornings kept me grounded and I had less stress than you’d expect. And best of all, I managed to adhere to a fairly healthy diet and hit the gym three days.
Until yesterday. My husband is one year closer to retiring and to celebrate we bought tickets to see Kathleen Madigan and rented a hotel room downtown. I really love staycations… it’s close, you get to see and do new things and you can find great food that you generally can’t get out in the burbs. Yesterday included a peanut butter pickle burger at Killer Burger and a late-night snack of wings, grilled bread smothered with warm goat cheese and fig compote and chicken bites. Not exactly Weight Watchers friendly but so good. I imbibed in just a touch too much alcohol, though, and felt heavy headed this morning. Oh, and if you get a chance, go see Kathleen Madigan’s Happy Hour tour. Dear god, that woman is funny.
Best off all, that was my only obligation for the entire weekend. Saturday and Sunday will be dedicated to cleaning, baking, cooking and planning out my week. Maybe a couple walks with my puppy. Choosing between Lidia Yukanavitch’s The Chronology of Water or Chani Nicholas’ You Were Born for this. And maybe writing. No, definitely writing. Enjoy your weekend all!
The reason I love weekends, well, the reason everyone likes weekend, is that you get to do what you like to do. Especially if you are beyond the running your children to sporting events, birthday parties, etc. With that stage done, most of the things we do on the weekends is stuff we choose to do. Of course, when the time comes to actually do it, you may have second thoughts…I totally get why elderly people stay home so much… they are living their best life!
Yesterday, I went wine tasting with the hubby and some friends of ours. The day started with brunch at one of our favorite restaurants and then on to a wine event at Alexana Vinyards in the Dundee Hills AVA… they had valet parking which was really nice because it was seriously drizzly. Then because we were so close, we ran over to Lange Winery and had a charcuterie board and tasting. We whiled away a good portion of the afternoon, just talking and relaxing in front of a fire. It was lovely. After departing from the winery, our friends went home while we went to Alan’s dad’s place for a quick check up. On the way home, we stopped at a winery we had never been to in the Ribbon R,idge AVA. Actually bought a bottle of Riesling which we never do… but it was so good! When I got home, though, I felt strangely over-peopled and shut myself in my office to recover. I studied, read poetry and planned my week.
I got up early this morning, as is usual, and did some great work on my Medium essay Cultivating Body Gratitude. Super important topic and I want to do it justice. I also made the menu and grocery list for next week and ran to the grocery store early enough to beat the crowd but not so early that I had to play frogger with the forklifts. Stocked up on a lot of veggies as I’m trying to move back into healthy eating. Spent most of rest of the day cleaning. Which is something I really like to do. I know, it’s weird, but I love my house to be tidy and organized. I’m still working on the organized part, but most of the time, I feel good about my progress. I also cut up a good portion of the veggies needed for this week’s recipes and enough to grab for snacks and lunches.
Cleaning, cooking, planning… this is all stuff I like to do. I’ve embraced that part of myself because it makes me so happy. Back in ancient times, I would have been a cottage or kitchen witch:) Speaking of kitchenry, I’m a little disappointed in my infused oils… they don’t smell as strongly as I would like. The lemon infused oil is lovely with chicken and salads, but the cinnamon, lavender and rosemary don’t really have a strong scent yet. I read that I was supposed to use dried rosemary instead of fresh, so that may explain that, but I have no clue as to why the cinnamon and lavender don’t smell yet. They are both dried and very strong. Maybe they will be ready in another week or so.
I took mom on a trip to the library for a fresh batch of movies and then out to coffee. Usually I don’t drink coffee in the afternoons, but the best part about this weekend is that it’s a three day weekend so it doesn’t really matter if I sleep or not tonight as tomorrow is another day and all I have on the agenda is baking some bread and finishing up the essay. I might even open my work in progress!
Almost forgot my intentions for next week…I want to hit every morning for meditation… My practice is very important to me and helps with staying mindful, so I want to work on that. Also, hit the gym four times!
Enjoy the three day if you get one and if you don’t, I am so sorry!
So how am I doing on some of my lofty January intentions? Let’s take a look…
*Get back into the habit of prepping meals. I love cooking and making sure there is healthy food in the fridge for lunches and the week’s dinners are planned gives me a sense of satisfaction and contentment. So four times this month, prep food for the week. I’ve done it for two weeks, so check.
• Take my YA novel, Puppet out of the proverbial closet, dust it off and go over it. Does the story still excite me? Am I heart-writing or just dialing it in? Nope.
• Continue to study plants and herbs and how to grow and use them. Nope
• Create a ritual filled morning of meditation, journaling and poetry. Yes, poetry. Yes. BOOM!
• Get back into a regular fitness routine. Running brings me joy and as I’m currently too out of shape to run, I need to start the baby steps that will get me back up to speed. (No pun intended.) I’m thinking three days a week for the next three weeks and then re-evaluate. And get in my ten thousand steps daily. YAS!
• Start attending WW meetings. YAS!
• Learn how to make salves, balms and lotions. Nope
• Write two essays for Medium. I’ve written one, so I am right on track.
• Make out our yearly vacation calendar—Baker City in February, my cousin in Tacoma, my cousin on Whidby Island, my husband’s cousins in San Diego, my aunt and uncle in Davenport, Washington and my husband’s aunt in San Francisco. And figure out how to pay for it all. Um, sort of? Still more to do on that.
• Continue with my activist work. This helps me feel as if I am connected to the wider community in creating a better world for all the grandchildren. I’m cutting back to three days a week to make more time for writing, so I want my activism to be more focused and meaningful. Meh
• Spend a couple hours at the library just browsing and reading. This brings me JOY! Not yet.
• Talk my daughter into going to the hot springs resort and getting a massage after with me. Shouldn’t be too hard. I haven’t made the reservations yet, but I need toooooo!
• Work through Mel Robbins Best Decade Ever series. I am all caught up!
Not too bad, actually. As for midweek… I really need to work more on my listening. I talked right over a co-worker today in a meeting and I felt awful after. How rude. I really need to make this a daily focus. I am doing much better with students, but could still improve.
And a very cool thing? I felt real joy at the gym today. I did my mobility exercises then walked on the treadmill. My Pandora station was rocking it today and I kept closing my eyes to meditate on the music and the experience of elevating my heart rate. It’s the first time I have ever done that and it was fabulous. Highly recommend!
I hope you are all rocking your intentions, resolutions, goals, etc!
The weekend was good, though not nearly as restful as I had hoped. I really wanted to deep clean my house. I got quite a lot accomplished on Saturday afternoon, but watched my grandchildren in the afternoon and was so tired after that I couldn’t get back into the swing of things. Sunday is all about kitchen magic and as we had company to watch the football game in the afternoon, I needed to get the grocery shopping done early. I’m glad I did as hubby had to get a couple of items that I had forgotten and Sunday madness had ensued made worse by the forecast of snow. I made Moroccan stew for my lunches, and cinnamon rolls, salmon dip, blue cheese dip and wings for the big game. Which we lost, but we had a good time anyway, so no matter.
This week intention is vulnerability/openness. I always strive to be open when I’m working with students. It’s the only way to know what they really need. Listening intuitively instead of thinking about my to do list, is the only way to do my job effectively. Because my word for the year is connection, I’ve been thinking a lot about how being open, being vulnerable, is the only way to true connection with others, whether it’s my students, co-workers, or family. Being open and vulnerable is even connected, (see what I did there?), to my community activism. Openly allowing myself to feel the pain and joy of others gives me a impetus to carry on.
I haven’t finished all my Mel Robins Best Decade Ever homework, but am close. Last week was all about dreaming big and I’m surprised by what I’ve unearthed. Speaking of dreaming big… I haven’t opened my novel yet this month but I think this is a good week to do it. I’m a little worried by that…. what if it’s no good at all? What if I’m no longer in love with it? Deep breaths. Talk about vulnerability! Onward!
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