Top Posts & Pages

WHY DO WE WAIT FOR THE RIGHT CONDITIONS?

WHEN THE WRONG ONES WILL DO

WHY DO WE WAIT FOR THE RIGHT CONDITIONS?

GROWING AND MAKING STUFF

MAKES ME HAPPY

GROWING AND MAKING STUFF

AWARENESS...

STAYING AWAKE TO THE REMARKABLE IN THE ROUTINE

AWARENESS...

Hi. I’m Maery, a writer in the Twin Cities. Although I no longer have the body for extreme adventures, I love to bicycle, go horse trail riding and take hikes with my dogs.  

One thing you should know before you join me on my quest -- I don’t have a map. And I’ve been known to wander off course and stop to listen to birds and look for agates. I also have a few issues with fear and anxiety. In other words, I’m not a good role model or adventure guide. But in this time of uncertainty and polarization, I'm not sure anyone has a reliable map. We'll just figure it out as we go.

dogs waiting on steps

dog

“we live in lonely times, and dogs can go a long way toward alleviating loneliness—but I think the more important truth has to do not with modern culture but with dogs themselves, and with the remarkable, mysterious, often highly complicated dances that go on between individual dogs and their owners. That dance is about love. It’s about attachment that’s mutual and unambiguous and exceptionally private, and it’s about a kind of connection that’s virtually unknowable in human relationships because it’s essentially wordless.” ~ Caroline Knapp, “Pack of Two: The intricate Bond Between People and Dogs”

The kennel where I sometimes board Java and Latte has a big fenced in area where customers can bring their dogs to play. I’ve never seen anyone actually use this fenced in area, so when Steve and I brought the dogs there, we had the whole area to ourselves.

Within the fence, there is a place to grill food, an automatic waterer for the dogs and water fountain for people. There are a few pieces of agility equipment and a pond that Java cooled off in right before we left. She didn’t seem to care that we hadn’t brought a towel to use to dry her off.

When we took the dogs off their leashes, first they walked around sniffing at things. As soon as Latte realized how much space she had to run in, she took off, taking a swipe at Java on her way.

dogs playing

Java will run full bore after Latte but she quickly realizes she cannot keep up with a low to the ground, running and dodging machine. So she tries another tactic, waiting for Latte to get close and then throwing her body into Latte’s path, except that Latte can change course and fake you out better than any football player.

dogs playing

The pure joy on Latte’s face when she is running is the best medicine for anything that ails me. Well, at least I think that’s joy…

dog running

When I get home from work, Latte and I play crazy running games and hide and seek in the house (much to my wood floor’s dismay). Latte runs from the living room, over the bed, under the bed — where she waits — until I get close then SPRINGS OUT and goes back over the bed and under the bed and around the living room — over and over again. I run after her, cut her off, dodge and dart, get down on my hands and knees as we bow to each other, ready to spring.

Latte is my laughter dog. She cracks me up with her antics and the way she will talk to anyone who will listen with a series of noises that are difficult to describe.

dog photo posing

Please don’t make me sit still for a picture

dog photo posing

Okay. Quick take a picture while I’m doing my happy face.

 

 

dog tired of being photographed

That’s enough of that. I’m out of here!

I can’t count the number of times that the happiness of a dog has flowed in my direction, but it’s one of the reasons I have dogs. Surely, it’s one of the reasons we all have dogs. We don’t spend nine billion dollars a year on dog food just to have dog hair all over our couches… Dogs make us happy, because if dogs do anything well, it’s being happy themselves, and happiness–bless it–is catching. ~ Patricia B. McConnell, Ph. D., “For the Love of a Dog”

But Java is my heart dog, my calm down and relax dog. She barks and tries to intervene with the Latte frenzy. She brings me her stuffed zebra or dragon so I will play with her too, but it is much more of a loping play and ends quickly when Java runs back towards me but then takes a quick left into the bedroom where she and her stuffed buddy go back to bed.

Dog fetching ball

Dog fetching ball

Dog rest time

Millions of us have been comforted by our dogs, there’s no doubt about it. Just petting a dog lowers your blood pressure and decreases your hear rate. No one doubts that dogs can influence our emotions just by being there. ~ Patricia B. McConnell, Ph. D., “For the Love of a Dog”

I can’t imagine what it would be like coming home from work, without these two waiting on the steps as I walk in the door, making me feel welcome and important as I arrive back home. OK. So they were waiting a bit long here and looking a little less than enthusiastic… Still, my faithful friends await me.

dogs waiting on steps

Sorry guys. Bad traffic…

The look they give me, that expectation that something good comes from me — games, walks, food, new places to see and smell, lap cuddles — how do I explain what this means to me except to say that everyone needs to know that they matter.

To my dogs, I am a magician, pulling rabbits out of my hat. And I think that’s a pretty good thing to be.

dogs

dog

dog

It’s been a long time since I’ve posted on my blog. I needed some clearing and gathering time. And time to determine what to clear and what to gather.

This has required a great deal of thinking — thinking while I’m driving (distracted driver), thinking while I’m walking the dogs, and thinking while I’m trying desperately to get some sleep.

It has taken some wandering, experimenting, and hibernating time as well.

In September, I received an email from Elizabeth Jarrett Andrew, which was the prompt that started me on this journey. Elizabeth facilitates a writer’s group that meets once a month. It’s different than most writer’s groups as we don’t read each other’s work or do critiques, instead we talk about the sorts of questions that a writer might ponder.

Elizabeth’s email prompted the group to think about the word “play” in relationship to writing.

Play?

As I thought about this word, the words that popped into my mind were free, light, uninhibited, unworried about outcome, adaptable, unrestricted.

And I realized how little time I spend in the state these words bring to mind.

fat bike

I work hard to get from point A to point B. The goal is usually for me to become an expert on something or at least good at it. I want whatever it is to become something that comes naturally, that flows and is no longer difficult for me. If I can’t reach that point of flow or at least reach the point where I no longer feel self-conscious about my lack of skills, I will often decide that it wasn’t that important anyway and quit to move on to another it.

During our discussion about playing, some of the writers used the example of music and how you gain muscle memory where you no longer have to think about the notes and which fingers go where. Instead you play freely, taking the energy you put into learning the music itself and putting it towards infusing feeling and personality into the piece. By doing so, you make a song that has been played by millions of musicians into your own unique creation.

And that is how I’d like to think about life.

walk in the woods

I think that playing freely and making my own unique creation means that I need to make some changes. Like…

  1. On the days when no one seems to value or appreciate me or my unique creation, that it doesn’t mean I, as a human being, have no value. More than likely, the people who don’t appreciate my Maeryness don’t see any value in the things I’m good at. They may not even see those things are even there. I think (I hope) this just means my real life is somewhere else.
  2. Believing that I am more than the things that don’t come naturally to me. I want to quit striving to mold myself into something I don’t even want to be.
  3. For my own sanity and well being, I want to play around with the things that I enjoy and I feel good about. If I feel the need to define myself (which is limiting and I should stop it), but if I must, define myself by those things.
  4. I am the person who alone has lived my life and knows the lessons it has taught me. I would have preferred to be oblivious of some things, but life has granted me a certain set of wisdoms whether I want them or not. I am a conglomeration of what I have lived and I’m tired of trying to pretend that I am something else because something else has been seen by me as being better than what I am. It’s time to find value in the tools I’ve been given and stop looking for the ones I don’t have.

I’ve been trying to remember what it was like to be a kid — to remember what I played at and imagined and loved. I want to see if the things I started out loving provide clues to how to bring those playful feelings (free, light, uninhibited, unworried about outcome, adaptable, unrestricted) back into my way too serious life.

And so I’m returning. Slowly. But playfully.

bicycling in woods

Distress

 

bridge wall

I don’t know what to write anymore. Which is a real problem for a writer. It’s why I decided to do a photography project for August.

How do you write when you you don’t feel like you can tell people how you really feel?

Of course, I could write about what I “think.” Maybe write a political opinion piece… No, there’s enough of those out there.

I’ve been kind of off the grid beyond working my job and posting some photos. My main focus, I’m sorry to say, is all about me and how to get “better.”

bridge peeling

I’ve been reading two books lately – both are attempts to understand what the hell is wrong with me. The first book is called “The Noonday Demon: An Atlas of Depression” by Andrew Solomon. It’s a long book but is teaching me many things about what this pattern of ups and downs is welding into my brain.

It ain’t good, in fact the damage that has been found to occur from repetitive patterns of depression is frightening, which just makes me all the more determined to break out of this. If I wasn’t so afraid of what’s happening to me, I wouldn’t have faced the shame and defeat of going to a doctor and asking for help. I shouldn’t have felt that way about a doctor visit, and yet, so many of us do.

The second book I’m reading is called “The Lonely City: Adventures in the Art of Being Alone” by Olivia Laing. Laing writes about loneliness from her own personal experience but takes it deeper by investigating expressions of loneliness in art, writing, and music by well known creatives such as Andy Warhol and Edward Hopper. I haven’t read very far yet but already, I’m struck by common expressions of this thing that I feel:

“What does it feel like to be lonely? It feels like being hungry: like being hungry when everyone around you is readying for a feast. It feels shameful and alarming, and over time these feelings radiate outwards, making the lonely person increasingly isolated, increasingly estranged. It hurts, in the way that feelings do, and it also has physical consequences that take place invisibly, inside the closed compartments of the body. It advances, is what I’m trying to say, cold as ice and clear as glass, enclosing and engulfing.” ~ Olivia Laing

Because of the book’s subtitle “Adventures in the Art of Being Alone,” I remain hopeful that there will be a message somewhere that tells a person how to be alone without feeling lonely. I’m not talking so much about being physically removed from other people. I’m talking about the loneliness that comes from not being amongst your own kind — isolation in a sea of people kind of stuff.

Distress

I felt better for a while yesterday, after I visited my horse, Luke, and shared a conversation and a few laughs with the woman caring for him.

I’ve been thinking about the stigma and shame around being depressed and lonely. These are defects. Weaknesses. A mind over matter failure.

It’s the American way. Everything is controllable if you are strong enough and confident enough. If you work hard enough.

People believe that depression is “unhappiness.” So do this and do that and you’ll be happy. Or it’s mind over matter. Focus on what is good about your life, instead of what is bad, and you’ll be happy.

Like the song “What’s Love Got to Do With It?” I have to ask, what does happiness have to do with it?

What I feel has nothing to do with happiness or unhappiness.

Anoka Rum River

I love my home and the person and the dogs in it. I know I’m very fortunate. I know there is no good reason for me to be anxious and depressed.

What I feel is not because of what’s out there. It’s a lifetime of what’s inside me.

Who knows. The drug I’ve been prescribed may kick in and things may turn around. I hope so.

In the mean time, I do simple things, like the photo project. I try to go easy on myself and not over schedule or ask too much. I look for ways to connect. Silly ways to tell myself I deserve good things, even if that only means buying fresh roasted coffee beans and taking extra care to brew one damn good cup of coffee.

I am hanging in there. Perhaps that’s why I am studying and photographing hands…

holding hands

Page 5 of 260« First...4567102030...Last »