tree in corn field

tree in corn field

I am sitting in my office at my desk, which used to be the kitchen table at my parents house – one of those old white enamel things with the red trim around the edges.

My mini-fountain is gurgling away from where it sits on an old stool. I find peace in this sound of water. It makes me feel closer to the outdoors, to nature, to something wild, which makes sitting at a computer bearable.

I am surrounded by books and clutter and computer screens. Many of the books are useful but not pretty. I pull the thesaurus off the shelf when I can’t find the right word. Books of poetry or inspiration, like “Women Who Run with the Wolves,” “Looking for Home,” and “Journal of a Solitude” are flipped through when I can’t find a place to start and need a prompt or a push into beginning. Sometimes copying down a paragraph of someone else’s words loosens up my own.

Some of the books I no longer need or like. They should go.

cornfield in winter

Papers are scattered across my desk and on the small rolling table that sits to my right. They contain information I refer to as I write my book – old letters, photos, journals, and bits of story I’ve written in the past. Are they bogging me down in details? Maybe. But I decide I need to stay there for awhile longer to go back in time and remember.

There is so much I’ve forgotten and not because it was something to forget but because I wasn’t paying close enough attention to know the significance at the time. How often am I doing that again? Am I doing it right now?

I’d love to go through my house, room by room, organizing and culling things to create space for my thoughts, to clear out anything that I felt I had to hold on to, being the one remaining keeper of memories, but now feel like they are holding me to a person and place I don’t want to be anymore. It feels like they keep me from becoming…

But I can’t take the time right now as it would turn into an excuse not to write or to get outside and walk or bicycle. It’s tempting to come up with excuses not to go outside when it looks so dark and cold and unwelcoming from inside the protection and light of my home. The older and more brittle and stiff I get, the harder it is to make myself move. It’s a good thing that I’m stern with myself, knowing what makes for good medicine.

On Saturday, I woke up with a headache that felt like it was going to ruin my whole day but one bike ride outside later, even though I fell on the ice, I returned home and realized that my headache was gone. Miracles are found outdoors.

bicycling on snowy path

Worse than any fall I can have outside, inside I fall into a trap of eternally preparing to do something I want to do.

After I finish cleaning the house…

After my closets are empty of crap…

After my kitchen is organized and the pie tins I never use are gone…

After all my old photos have been scanned and organized onto my computer…

After I have caught up on my filing…

After I lose ten pounds…

After these things are completed, then I can build a real life.

Until I realize, every decision, choice and action becomes my real life and I don’t want to be the person who is remembered as that skinny gal with the clean, organized house. But I also don’t want to be remembered as the woman who left behind a mess for someone else to clean up. There has to be a happy medium.

So that’s what I search for. The stuff that’s most important to me – the writing, photography, giving my animals and relationships attention and care, my music, getting outdoors, and being active – come first. And if there’s time (there often isn’t), I’ll take care of the cleaning and culling.

I hear that there is always enough time.

And I choose to trust that this is true.

downed tree in snow

horse eating hay

horse eating hay

(I don’t have any photos of reindeer, so pictures of Luke will have to do…)

As I sat getting my hair trimmed at the salon and “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer” boomed through the sound system, I thought of poor Rudolph and how no one let him join in any reindeer games. Until one foggy Christmas Day, Rudolph saved Christmas by lighting the way.

“Then all the reindeer loved him.”

Seriously!? What the heck!? So the only way anyone appreciates someone’s differences is if it suddenly becomes useful? Shouldn’t Rudoph’s nose have been seen as a unique, endearing feature of his being?

But then, that is the point of the story, isn’t it? Both Rudolph and the little elf who wanted to be a dentist instead of a toy maker, but who I think is actually selling Keebler cookies now, had to go on a journey and face great danger and difficulty, to discover for themselves their strength and worth.

horse eating hay

But even if Rudolph hadn’t saved the day, say he had a bright nose but couldn’t fly worth a darn, wouldn’t Christmas still have happened without Santa dropping off toys to all the boys and girls of the world? If we really believe in the spirit of Christmas and giving and waiting in darkness for light to arrive, and not just in black Friday and cyber Monday, then the presence or absence of Santa wouldn’t make any difference at all.

Magic is magic. Holy is holy. Whatever your beliefs.

Enjoy whatever time you have with friends and family rather than looking at it as a chore. (I’m saying this as much for for me as anyone else.)

And if your an extrovert, run off to the next party and have yourself a ball.

And if you are an introvert like me, end the day by relaxing in a comfy chair with a good book and a cup of cocoa (perhaps with a shot of Baileys) and listen to the silence of winter.

And whatever and wherever you are, I hope you carry thoughts of peace on earth, goodwill towards all.

Have a very, merry Christmas, Hanukkha, Winter Solstice, etc., etc., etc.

horse eating hay

 

swans on Mississippi River

swans on Mississippi River

What is it about swans?
They make me think of fairy tales
And magic
And the ugly duckling
who discovers he’s a swan

“But the others did all the could to harass the ugly duckling. They flew at him, bit, him pecked him, hissed and screeched at him… He hid, he dodged, he zigzagged left and right, but he could not escape. The duckling was as miserable as any creature could be.”

swans on Mississippi River

I saw myself as that ugly duckling
so often as a child
I learned to fight
I learned to push away
I learned to hide too
To never show I cared
about anything

“A flock of creatures flew overhead, the most beautiful he had ever seen… Hearing their sounds made his heart leap and break at the same time. He cried back in a sound he had never made before.”

swans on Mississippi River

One would think
I’d be over all that by now
Most of the time
I am
But not always
It doesn’t take much to bring out
that outcast exiled feeling
I just want to belong
somewhere

“And for the first time, his own kind came near him and touched him gently and lovingly with their wing tips. They groomed him with their beaks and swam round and round him in greeting.”

swans on Mississippi River

As lovely as this finding your tribe
and being welcomed in is
it too may not last
There is always change
I’ve learned that the only one
who can give me what I desire
is me
I have to let myself take up space
and say, yes, it’s okay to be
an ugly duckling
a beautiful swan

To be a person who sees a river
that becomes a story
that hold so much more than swans
as beautiful as they are
There is darkness below them
Sometimes light above them
But right now there are only clouds
and snow mixed with rain
But doesn’t the dreariness
bring mystery and magic?

And saying yes to it all
In that lies possibility
No one lives happily every after
We’re all in this for the roller coaster ride
The expectation of going up,
pausing for the view at the top
Then the race down
our stomachs in our throats
screaming as we hit bottom
Then starting the slow climb up again

Quoted excerpts from “The Ugly Duckling” by Hans Christian Andersen
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