Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Day 16,274: JOTD Revisited (September 26, 2005)

Long ago (or so it seems) I used to be the keeper and cultivator of the blog, Jul of the Day. The first incarnation of it was born in 2001. I think. The two of you around since the beginning (Susie? Amanda?) can correct me if I’m wrong. Maybe it was 2002. Anyway, at some point I got frustrated because I couldn't muster the inspiration to post. It felt like a permanent affliction. So I pulled the plug. All the way. The press of one button and it was gone ... then I immediately slumped into woeful remorse.

I had done something similar many years before, while I was pregnant and in the home stretch of my last trimester. I was huge, it was hot, and I went a smidge crazy. I single-handedly heaved a giant trash bag with about 10 years worth of my handwritten journals into a dumpster. No one was around to stop me. So woeful remorse and me, yup, we go way back.

A year or two later, I relaunched Jul of the Day all fresh, shiny and new. Things went well. Really well. Until I got hell-bent on a redesign. I hired an expert. She gave me exactly what I asked for and it was rather fetching ... but it wasn’t very easy to navigate or maintain. So this time, when enough was enough, I had the good sense to save a PDF of every post before I deleted them. I tripped over them recently and, man, I was prolific! Memories flooded back. And with them came the reminder to just write it down. Just write.

If you will indulge me and pardon the laziness (especially those who read these posts the first time around), I would like to repost some of these Jul of the Day entries on the days when life is such that I can't write a new post from scratch. There's good stuff in these archives, I promise!

JUL OF THE DAY: September 26, 2005 - Look Who's Turning 12

How can it be possible that you're already 12 years old? I would swear that just yesterday your dad and I were taking turns lugging you around. When we first found out that you were coming, I did all of the lugging, all by myself. Between you and me, I didn't mind it one single bit.

These first dozen years with you have been delightful, my not-so-little-girl. Okay, maybe a little messy at times, loud too, but that's to be expected. You brazenly defied superstition by arriving one day before you were expected, with eyes wide open, too stubborn to cry. You have proven yourself to be a force to be reckoned with ... wise beyond your years. Your dad and I still look at each other wide-eyed sometimes, amazed that two people who can't hang window blinds together managed to create someone like you.

We know that twelve isn't easy. You're not quite a kid anymore, but not yet a teen. You still want to play with your toys and get new ones, too, but somehow that doesn't feel quite right anymore. To borrow from Carrie Newcomer, "You're all crushes, blushes, and brushes with insight, but you still sleep with your bears half of the nights." My advice, my dear, is to remember, when you're 12, be 12. Those bears can only sleep with you for so long and you're going to miss them when they're gone.

Your dad and I are eager to see who and what you choose to be in the years ahead. You are showing tremendous promise, so we keep applying the Miracle Grow and crossing our fingers. How is it that you can already be so beautiful, self-assured, and articulate? Maybe you don't see it, but everybody else can't help it. Your great big heart is like a neon sign. You're the real deal. And to borrow lyrics from Carrie again, "Damn the first man who comes to break your heart."

Happy birthday, Alyssa. The best is yet to come.

You won't be 12 until 1:55 this afternoon, so don't think you're getting anything special for breakfast. Love, Mom.

Flash Forward:
That 12 year old will be turning 17 this year. She no longer sleeps with her bears and now has a boyfriend with not only the keys to her heart but his own car as well. (He had better stay on his best behavior.) I don't want to miss one minute of having her in our nest.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Day 16,273: At Random

Setting ...
It’s a cold, cloudy damp day. Although almost May, I am running our space heater at full blast. And you can bet that I won’t be ashamed to turn on the furnace if necessary. Just three more degrees and it will be. I am warm for only three months out of the year, but only outdoors. Indoors, I spend the summer in a sweater whining about the air conditioning. At this point in my life, I welcome hot flashes. Bring. Them. On.

Rejoicing ...
About real mail in my post office box! Katie and Beth took me up on my pen-pal offer. How about you? Please do!

Congratulating ...
Myself for a triumphant return to my workbench today. I spent my lunch hour wire-wrapping a pendant. This is big. I haven’t made one this year. It had been so long that I had to pace around the room like a dog turning circles before laying down. I was terrified that I had forgotten how to make them. Wrapper’s block. I sat there for a little while with the wire and pliers and did what I had no other choice but to do. Give myself permission to make a sh*tty pendant. (With a tip of the hat and all due respect to Anne Lamott’s advice in Bird by Bird.) Guess what? The final piece isn’t sh*tty at all. Seems the only thing that I had forgotten is how much I love to make them. Now I just need to keep the momentum going and continue to keep perfectionism out of it.

Juicing ...
Mondays have become my juice feasting day. Today I juiced a 48 ounce batch of the following:

1 pineapple
2 cucumbers
2 pears
1 lemon
1 gigantic container of baby spinach

Believe it or not, this will hold me over for the whole day. But don’t believe for one second that I won’t come home from yoga tonight on a mad hunt for pretzels. I will. Always happens. But I know that I have the power to prevail ... if I go directly to bed after class. A distinct possibility.

Hoping ...
That your week is off to a great start! Tell me some good news!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Day 16,272: For the Love of Sedona

(Photo from Archives: 4/20/05)

Last night I found out that a new friend lost her heart to Sedona just like I did years ago. We didn't know this about each other when we first met in New York. Not only is it cool to discover that we live in the same city, but we long for the same city as well.

I have been to Sedona, Arizona twice in my life ... once in April 2004 and again in April 2005. Both times I traveled with the same friend who gave quite a sales pitch with a crossed heart and pinky swear that I would not only love it, but my life could be changed. Who wouldn't be intrigued? Although I despise the term, I can't think of another to adequately explain it, so here goes nothing. (Promise you'll love me anyway.)

I had (and continue to have) what may be considered New Age tendencies.

There. I said it. Those who know me well and are reading this now are laughing and giving this confession a "Duh!" But living in southwestern Ohio, a Reiki Master like me with an affinity for wire-wrapping crystal and gemstone pendants, flies her freak flag discretely. (My Reiki teacher was an elderly Catholic nun, if that's any consolation.) In Sedona, I am right at home with my adoration of holistic and alternative modalities. If the truth be told, out there I'm probably considered a bit ho-hum. Nothing much to see here. Please move along.

I can count on one hand the very best days of my life and the first full day of my first visit to Sedona is one of them. April 23, 2004. Six years later, I can recount it in detail. This was a short visit, so we wanted to see as much of Sedona in one day as possible. And we did. I am not entirely convinced that we didn't somehow expand time in order to pull it off, but that would be crazy talk, right? My friend wasn't lying about the life-changing part. This place turned my sneakers red and stuck to me like glue.

Where I live it's all moist green, winding rivers, rolling hills, and a view that reaches up the street at best. In Sedona, the vistas were blowing my mind. I had never been able to see that far into the distance except when in Illinois. I can assure you that there's no comparison. I don't know if it's the rich colors of the desert and breath-taking rock formations set against blazing blue sky or maybe it's the altitude that gets me. All I know for sure is that, when I am there, I feel like the weight of the world is lifted from my shoulders. I cannot gush enough. Obviously.

Although I would gladly pack up my family and move out there in a heartbeat, I doubt it's a move that we will ever make. Ohio is and probably always will be home base. But that doesn't mean that I can't fantasize, right? I would setup a Reiki practice there, for animals and people, and I would continue to wrap my pendants and sell them through the sweet little crystal shops in town. In my free time, I would hike and climb as much as possible. My forefinger would ache from snapping so many photos. And, hopefully, I would be regularly hosting friends from faraway places in need of a soulful fill-up. That would be the best part.


Who knows. Dreams can come true. Until then, I think I am years past due for my next visit. Join me?

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Day 16,271: Changes of Heart

(Photo from Archives: 4/16/2005)

I got out of bed this morning around 5:45, nursed a steaming mug of Yerba Mate, and then surrendered back to a fitful sleep from 6:30 until after 9:00. As usually happens when I make this mistake (the going back to bed part), I had kooky dreams. I'm not sure what's going on with me other than possibly deep processing behind the scenes. I have a lot going on in this noggin of mine these days. I would swear that I'm being rewired. (Might also just be perimenopause, but I'll stay in denial if you'll play along.)

Recently, I have been agonizing mulling over where and how routines and schedules fit into my life and whether they might be a help or hindrance. More and more, I am discovering that, for whatever reason, the old ways of doing things aren't necessarily working for me anymore. It's distressing and liberating at the same time. I would like to believe that I can successfully take on each day completely freestyle, but when left to my own devices, I procrastinate about rising to the occasion(s). Usually because I overwhelm myself with too many options. It's an ongoing source of guilt and shame ... two things that I would like a lot less of in my life, thank you.

There is less than one week left to April and, therefore, less than one week left to the first third of this year. Take a minute or two to let that fact sink in. I'll wait.

I pulled out the list of goals that I crafted in December for this year. It's foreign to me now. Enthusiasm has been replaced by an awkward apathy toward most of the things that I thought I wanted. First of all, the list is unrealistically long and unreasonably slanted toward business goals. Because my perspective on business is changing radically, the list has been made all but void. What about self-care? Relationships? There is nothing wrong with wanting a successful business, but the first order of business is a successfully balanced life.

I know that I have complete freedom to decide on a day-to-day basis what I'm willing to do with my time and energy and where to direct my focus. The world does not end nor are there lives lost if and when I change my mind. I can definitely pare down the list to what feels important to me right now, ditch what no longer fits and reassess the rest. I am willing to admit that I am fumbling around, but it no longer carries the negative connation in my head that it once did.

I am not the same person who wrote that list in December. What I thought that I wanted then is no longer relevant ... or may be only to the degree that I decide. New habits are revealing themselves to me and I am catching myself taking pleasure in things that I never used to take time to appreciate. Priorities are changing. Roles are evolving. And service, which is still very important to me, is expanding to include me to and for myself.

This shift and these feelings are not easily put into words. But if you even so much as have your toes dipped into this stream, I know that you know what I mean. Let's jump in and navigate the way together.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Day 16,269: This is What Joy Looks Like

These pictures are my time machine
They deliver me to Brooklyn in bloom
To the table in the generous kitchen
On the garden level of a brownstone
Brimming with soulful nourishment
Enveloping me like a big, warm hug
Yes, this is what joy looks like

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Day 16,265: Sunday Shelter Therapy

Dan and I are finally waking up to the fact that our daughter is growing up. Okay, we've been in denial. More and more, we are seeing less and less of her around here. The majority of her weekends are spent at work or with friends. The rest of her time is spent napping.

After all of these years of having a relatively inflexible weekend itinerary, Dan and I are finding ourselves alone together a lot more often now. We like it. We are meeting each other for the first time, all over again. Of course we miss our daughter terribly when she isn't with us and, yes, we know it will be a big adjustment when she heads off to college. But odds are looking reasonable to favorable that he and I are going to be just fine. This might even be the very beginning of what could turn out to be a very rewarding chapter of our marriage. Who knew?

As we are still getting used to so much freedom, we are pretty fumbly about what to do with so much time together. Our options are relatively limitless, but we seem prone to choosing those which involve the consumption of food. This could get pretty expensive (and expansive) over time. So today we decided to put our forks down and pay a visit to our local no-kill animal shelter for the purpose of giving the cats there some big love ... and grooming, as needed. (In the photo, Dan is tentatively giving three-legged Gabriel the belly brush special.)

We adopted our two cats, Garrett and Tansy, from this shelter back in 2007. Garrett had been there for two years and Tansy had been there for four. This is a wonderful organization with a big-hearted staff. We want to support them in whatever way that we can ... especially in light of the current economic circumstances when so many people are surrending or (worse) abandoning their pets. If these animals have to wait somewhere for new forever homes, they are very lucky to do that waiting here.

We always feel good for having spent time there, even if we can't stay as long as we'd like. I would love to return to weekly visits some day, because I know it makes a difference ... not only for the animals, but for me as well. Therapy. Volunteering is good for the soul.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Day 16,264: The 5K Runner with a 24K Heart

I have to commend my husband. After starting and committing to a fitness routine last year, he made up his mind that he wanted to start running in local 5K marathons. I assumed that it would be a passing fancy. I mean, for the first time in our 20+ years together, he was talking about running, for Pete's sake. Didn't he get the memo that running requires effort and can lead to profuse sweating? Not that I didn't believe that he had it in him to succeed. Of course I did. Of course he would. My response was more like, well, why this and why now?

Is it obvious that I didn't opt join him? Well I did. One time. Only because he agreed to walk this particular 5K with me in October. Only because a spirited stroll is the only way that I roll. But really because they promised free beer and food afterward. Don't judge me. There was a reggae band, too. Who wouldn't walk three miles with a fantastical lure like that? But I have to admit, watching him run this morning, his first 5K of the year, and witnessing how these races have changed him over time, I'm not only feeling immensely proud of him, but shamelessly jealous. What's that about? Is running something that I might want to do, too?

I am not a couch potato, but I am leaning dangerously close to that zone lately. Walking is definitely my exercise of choice. Yet walking requires getting my butt outdoors and/or onto a treadmill. Troublesome requirements. I've done neither consistently since *grumble-grumble-grumble*. I practice yoga when I have class once per week. Hit and miss as my attendance may be, it still counts as exercise. When I go.

What would it take for me to agree to set the intention to run a 5K some day? I guess, like anything else (as I posted about yesterday), it's a matter of making up my mind to do it and committing the time to practice for it. Excuses be damned. And yet those damned excuses can be pretty powerful in their ability to influence me to postpone until tomorrow the occasions that should be risen to today.

I don't know if I'm ready to go there yet. To the commitment stage. I might hold at entertaining the idea for awhile longer. But I do know that watching Dan run sure is fun. And I do enjoy cheering him on and lending my support. Yet I also know that there are few things that I hate more than letting my fears keep me from trying something that could expand the boundaries of what I believe I can and cannot be or do.

So I guess we'll see ...

Friday, April 16, 2010

Day 16,263: Of Pen Pals and PO Boxes

When I was in fourth grade, I yearned for two things.

The first was to learn the alphabet in sign language. After countless hours at a sticky table in my elementary school library with a picture book and stubborn determination, this goal was achieved. That's when I learned that I can learn anything, if and when willing to set my mind and the requisite practice time to it. Almost 35 years later, I can still fumble my way through most letters and pretty well fake the rest, which used to wow my daughter, but now not so much.

The second was to have a pen pal of my very own. Thank goodness for distant cousins in seemingly distant places like, um, Murphysboro, Illinois. The world was much bigger back then. Two states away felt like another world. I was delighted to discover that this distant cousin had friends whose arms were twisted who wanted pen pals too, so I crafted a little pen pal club and matched them up with my friends. Awaiting the mailman became glorious torture.

That little girl is still within me and her heart is my heart and that heart often aches for simpler times. E-mail is fine. Effective, yes. What's missing, though, is the personal touch. As a recovering calligrapher, I am a sucker for pen to paper, both given and received. I believe that a deeper connection is forged through the extra effort. Stickers help. And let's not forget that getting a piece of REAL mail amongst the flyers, bills, and credit card offers may be even more of a thrill now than when we were kids.

When I setup Jakk's Magic Beans Workshop as an LLC, I setup a post office box along with it. For as many years as I have had that box, it has been a receptacle for little more than dust. It is due for its annual renewal at the end of this month and, yet again, ditching it seems like the practical choice.

Then again, the older I get, the less inclined I am to opt for practical. So, with that said, I am letting fourth grade me make the decision this year. She wants me to keep it. So let's put it to good use. If you, like me, miss sending and receiving personal correspondence, I invite you to send me a handwritten letter or postcard to the address below and I promise to respond in kind:

Julie Keefe
Jakk's Magic Beans Workshop
P.O. Box 54195
Cincinnati, OH 45254

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Day 16,261: Reentry

I had the great fortune to spend a long weekend in Brooklyn with these new friends. They are so beautiful, but I wish you could see what they look like on the inside. Jen Lee took all of us apart and put us back together again. Now we've been returned to the wild to show what we now know.

If an offering should present itself, as if by magic, and there is an insistent niggling inside of you that it is for you, say yes to it ... whatever it is. Please, give it a wholehearted yes. Set all excuses aside. Lather, rinse, repeat with any fears. Say yes. Just say yes to it.

You will not regret it.

(Additional photos on Flickr.)