Thursday, September 26, 2013

More Questions than a Two-Year-Old

I find myself in a state of constant thinking and pondering. I seem to enjoy, more than any other pursuit, the unraveling of personalities and categorizing of them. Why does a person do what they do? Why are they aware (or disappointingly unaware) of what they do? How does the mind work? Lately, I have been seeing and observing with new eyes. The goal? To get as "out of my own head" as I can get. I want to know what it is like in someone else's shoes.

Recently, a friend asked me what my "superpower" would be, were I granted only one. I knee-jerkedly answered FLYING. I stand by that choice, but hers was MIND READING. I am completely on the fence as to whether or not I would like to be able to see inside others' minds. Although it is my source of greatest enjoyment and engagement, I don't think I would like having it all laid out in front of me. I think it would remove my grandest source of noodling. Plus, we've all seen that movie "What Women Want" where the cacophonous whinging of all the, in this case female, people in the room is overwhelmingly annoying.

Yup. I think I'll stick to flying.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Drama on the Mountain

I have started a novel. It's historical fiction. It's based on the last year up here on the Mountain. This place is like a fly strip for drama. I haven't figured out why, but that does not stop me from asking the questions. Is it the people who live up here? Some supernatural effect? The work of the devil? Me?

Well, whatever the reason, it is definitely providing some wonderful fodder for a book. If the only thing harvested on this farm on the Mountain is quirky, colorful characters and hearty story lines, I will not be disappointed!

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Off With Her Head

For a long time, I had been wondering what the coitus ritual of the praying mantis is...Ironically, a friend posted some praying mantis sex pics on Facebook yesterday and another friend told me that the praying mantis is her totem creature. Here is the skinny on their sexual behavior:
Rumors of the praying mantis' cannibalistic tendencies began when scientists observed their mating behavior in a laboratory environment. Entomologists would offer a captive female a potential mate, and would quite often be horrified to watch the female bite the head or legs off the smaller male. After the male had served his copulatory purpose, he was nothing more than a good meal to the female. For a long time, these observations of praying mantis sex in the lab were thought to be the way things were in the mantid world.

Once scientists started observing praying mantis sex in a natural setting, the story had a different ending, which is good for the males. When unconfined in laboratory terrariums, the majority of praying mantis mating ends with the male flying off, unharmed. By most estimates, sexual cannibalism by praying mantis females occurs less than 30% of the time outside the lab. Those are pretty good odds for the fellows. Praying mantis sex, it turns out, is really a rather romantic series of courtship rituals that typically ends satisfactorily and safely for both parties involved.
There is a decided advantage for the female, however, if she does decide to behead her lover. The praying mantis brain, located in his head, controls inhibition, while a ganglion in the abdomen controls the motions of copulation. Absent his head, a male praying mantis will lose all his inhibitions and consummate his relationship with wild abandon.

And what if she's hungry? For certain, a slow moving and deliberate predator like the praying mantis is not going to pass up an easy meal. If a male makes the unfortunate choice of a hungry female for a mate, he's probably going to be toast once they've mated.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Damned in the Present, Damned in the Future

Present self vs Future self TED Talk.

New York Times article on the same
 It's about the battle between the two-headed beast inside us.
The present self. "I want an oompa loompa, Daddy, and I want it now."
The future self. "I may not have considered all the costs and annoyances associated with having an oompa loompa."

I am not interested in the second half of the talk on the "financial" relationship between our present and future selves, but instead it's the concept of commitment devices (to keep ourselves in check) and the misestimation of our future selves (that we will do better than our present) that intrigues me. I definitely fall into a category of impulsivity which disregards my future self completely. I am also quite good at manipulating my best intentions and breaking, getting around, or breaking my commitments.

I can really relate to this sentiment, postulated in the NYT's article:

Ignoring the needs of our future self is one way we create problems for our present self. Another way is by dumping all the issues we don’t want to deal with now on the mythical future self who’s somehow going to be more patient, more organized, more restrained — more everything we’re not now .
“It’s hard to imagine that we’re going to be under the same stress” when we’re older, Dr. McGonigal said. “It seems like we will have more time and energy and we can let the future person deal with what we can’t deal with now.”
And that gives an excuse to procrastinate. In my case, I’ve been putting off eating better for some future time when somehow I’ll want to eat bulgur wheat rather than chocolate cake.
 Let me eat cake, I say. 

Saturday, September 14, 2013

What am I doing? I love what I'm doing!

When Elena was about three, she uttered this great little gem. It just floated to the top of my conscious mind and then wedged there for awhile on repeat. It occurs to me that it not only is good report of what Elena was doing at that time - she was dancing "Lord of the Dance" style in the kitchen - it also is an amazingly insightful prescription for life.

What am I doing?
It's a good idea to ask frequently what one is doing. It's an interesting question. It encourages introspection and furthers self-understanding. What AM I DOING? Accent on the AM or the DOING, not the I. A lot of times we focus too intently on the "I" and what the "I" tells us. Rationalizations, justifications, white lies to our self are prevalent. Look objectively at the "AM." The AM just looks at the DOING, the action occurring, non-judgementally and objectively.

I love what I'm doing!
This is self-love at its most perfect. After objectively noticing the action, then accept it. Hug it! Love it! It's part of you. With the innocent optimism and unjaded mind, love what you are doing at any given moment. If it's a good and healthy thing, loving it is easy. If it's a broken, obsessive, addictive, harmful action, love yourself in spite of it. Embrace it and realize it is good because it is still part of you and part of what is making you.

I think those of us who can REALLY look at what we're doing and REALLY love what we're doing...even if it is not ideal, can reach a place of peace and acceptance. And who knows, by asking "What AM I doing?" more often, perhaps we will more and more often truly love what we are doing.

Friday, September 06, 2013

Take the Thick with the Thin

As my children play outside and I am practicing my sometimes "Lord of the Flies" parenting approach, I think about what they will say in their (inevitable) future therapy sessions. I wonder what kind of label I will get from the psych---- with whom they are conversing. Usually when I think about my parenting, I revel in the high moments: the hikes, the frog hunting, the cooking together, painting, walking, learning about the world by doing...but these will most likely not be the themes explored in their therapy. No. Their therapy will focus on my shortcomings, of which there are many.

They will talk about how I was "hands-off" in my parenting. They will forget that this gave them independence and a sense that they were trusted and expected to make strong decisions, and the will focus on abandonment.

They will say I was critical of them. That I made them change their outfits that blaringly didn't match. They will not know that this was more a criticism and distrust of mean gradeschool kids.

They may say I kicked them outside when I didn't want them bugging me. What they won't remember is that I kicked them outside when their energy levels were imploding and they were on hour two of couch wrestling and it was apparent they needed to let outside to run like puppies.

They may say I forced playdates on them when they just wanted to sit around and watch TV. They will not know how deeply I feared them not having a best friend relationship and how much I longed for that for them. So much that I invited every potential opportunity to meet kids their own age up to our house. Maybe this one will become her bestie? Maybe this one can match his energy levels?

They'll claim I dragged them to church. The flea market. Concerts in parks. Friends' houses. Parties. Hikes. Parks. But all these things were meant to teach through experience and help them learn by doing and interacting and engaging with the world.

They may say I was always buried in my world of work, computer, iPhone and the like. And they will probably be right. I do take my "me" time and I do keep my own interests. For I believe that a parent has to "put his or her own oxygen mask on prior to being able to help anyone else."

They may remember me taking selfies all the time. I struggle to turn this one into a positive...but maybe, just maybe they will come to believe that their mother loved herself and photography. When there were no subjects around, she would use herself...or her kids...which is another thing they may disdain. There was often a camera lens, or iPhone peering into their souls trying to capture that which the momma sees in them and loves in them. I really hope they will see that I just wanted to collect and save every sweet moment with them.

Wednesday, September 04, 2013

Juicing the Creative

Lately, I have found my creativity has returned for a spell. I've been taking more pictures, even "seeing" more photo opporunities. I've been doing a little art. I've even started a book based on my first year here on The Mountain...called (of course) Drama on the Mountain. Even my sense of humor seems to have returned.

I attribute this all to being free of a controlling relationship, daily hikes and the beauty and perfect weather of my surroundings. When my relationship ended, I enjoyed a period of clutter subtraction and tidying that has only served to make room for my new creative efforts.

Yesterday, I found a rusty piece of metal at mile one of my three mile hike. I wrested a piece of it off and carried it the remaining two miles. This morning I made it into my morning "artpouting" and I love how it came out!!



Tuesday, September 03, 2013

Tasty Apples

“Life will break you. Nobody can protect you from that, and living alone won't either, for solitude will also break you with its yearning. You have to love. You have to feel. It is the reason you are here on earth. You are here to risk your heart. You are here to be swallowed up. And when it happens that you are broken, or betrayed, or left, or hurt, or death brushes near, let yourself sit by an apple tree and listen to the apples falling all around you in heaps, wasting their sweetness. Tell yourself you tasted as many as you could.”
Louise Erdrich, The Painted Drum LP

We are ALL broken.
We are all BROKEN.
We are also all perfect in our brokeness.
We hold the healing power for our brokeness.
No one else can fix us.
We can only fix ourselves.
We must embrace that broken part and pull it deep into ourselves.
In accepting and loving the broken parts of ourselves, they lose their power over us.
We are afraid to look at the broken parts.
We continually run, fast and furious, away from them.
We are defensive.
We are depressed.
We seek external solutions.
When we do not find them, we are more broken.
Then, one day, we become aware. The common denominator in our lives is us. All problems are us. All worries are us. All doubts are us. We are our pain and we can ease it. It's no one else's problem and it's no one else's to solve.

XOXOXO to me.

Monday, September 02, 2013

I'm Bored

No, not me, I am rarely bored. I have such a rich inner monologue and inspired ideas, I only get "bored" when I am doing something I don't love to do, but am required to...such as work, or waiting in line at the DMV, or listening to my kids complain that they are bored for hours on end. Is there anything more boring than small people whining that they are bored? No, I assure you, there is not.

I think back to my own childhood. I always had something going on. I woke up in the morning with a project on my brain, or a story I was burning to write, or a tree had set my sites on climbing. I remember many a parental "nap" time when I produced copious drawings or wrote my own song on our little rickety organ. So, why then, are they so easily bored?

Is it just our modern world? TV, compared to the snow-filled, underprogrammed one of my day, is highly entertaining and features such amazing instant gratifiers as "On Demand" "Streaming Movies" and 4045 channels from which to choose one's entertainment. Have we just so discouraged down-time now that entertainment comes at such a frantic clip?

If there is an exception to my never-bored childhood, it's Sunday afternoons. To this day, I remember my parents choosing to nap or do yard work or keep themselves occupied with their household chores. I remember that I was tired...I had played out all my scenarios and plans and was tapped out. It was a time when I really did just want to put on the TV and turn off my brain. All that was every on at those times was ABC Sports and (for some reason it always seemed) Big Valley. Was there ever a show more boring for a child of the 70's than Big Valley? Even Ponderosa was better!

As I write this though, I realize that I am now the parent, who spent all day organizing drawers and folding laundry and they are the kids (just like I was) antsy for my attention. And off goes the computer...and off goes the TV...time for some quality time.