Time Flies but Life Doesn’t

A year ago I was heading to my employer’s conference for the last time before I was off onto the next chapter of my life.    It seems impossible that year has passed. It feels impossible that much time has passed because I thought things would be much more clear than they are a year later.  I would be at my new destination whatever that was.    Instead I am still on my journey.

This year I have been reminded and have had to remind myself more than once: “We tend to gravitate to the familiar even if it is not what we say we want. “

When change comes we tend to worry about the impact of the unknown  negatively to our lives. We  allow ourselves to get knotted up in the worry about the possibility of experiencing failure.   Change can also feel like the  loss of part of our identity, especially when the change is our job, something that has filled more than eight hours of our life daily.  Change is often the loss of control.   We tend to think the familiar no matter how good or bad for us is better than the unknown.

I am still moving through the continuum of a major life change.   I have surrounded myself with lots of new people who don’t know me from my previous life.   New people in my life have  instigated some of the greatest growth for me.  As a working adult most of our new social acquaintances and friends are as a result of work.   When you hang out with work friends there is a whole list of taboo subjects, because you seek a certain amount of peace and harmony in the workplace.  When you no longer have a job, you  realize, if you did not before, that the connection to these people was your job and without that you don’t seek one another out.    It sounds a little cruel an uncaring, but I don’t think it is bad.  It is when you take the work commonality out of the equation that you start to seek out people who you are truly interested in or have a commonality central to your core. I call it seeking your tribe. There are all sorts of definitions of a tribe, but this one from Ainslie, really captures it for me.

I define a tribe as a group of people who share similar values and interests.When you’re a part of your ideal tribe you feel a great sense of kinship. You’re surrounded by people you can genuinely connect with and you can comfortably be yourself. A tribe is also a supportive space in which you can grow and thrive.

This year I will be sharing some of the experiences that go along with seeking your tribe.

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I imagine my tribe will just get plain crazy more than once in awhile.

Christmas Cards – Going, Going, Gone

I think that the  tradition of sending cards to family and friends at Christmas time is fading away.    It seems sad to me that it is so.   Our list is made up of friends and family  scattered across the country.    It is full of friends that we have made in the many places we have lived.   They each have contributed to the color of our lives and helped to make us who we are today.  For me a card is a nice way to say “Hi” and you are important to me.

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This year I made my cards again.   Usually I pick one design and make a bundle of  cards in a single design.   This year I bought a designer paper collection from the local craft store including 12 pieces of two-sided paper and a sheet of stickers.    I decided that I would provide my own card base from my stash and make as many cards as possible from this collection.   I finished with 70 holiday cards and one thank-you.

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I have had a nasty cold this last week and it was a great step into and out of project.    I kept myself on task by posting each as I finished it on Pinterest.   You can see each card by visiting my Pinterest page.

When we were done RangerSir stepped up to the plate to help me get them addressed and out the door.

 

Friends Who Are Family

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I have spent all of my adult life living more than eight hours from where I grew up.   This means that my family has never been able to bop over to chat.    It means I have never made a Sunday family dinner, or the monthly family birthday party. It means that my friends have stepped in when when tradition would say it would be your family.    I have been blessed with friends who are family for me.

As we approach Thanksgiving I want to give thanks to and for my friends.

To my lifetime friend, who no matter how long it is between phone calls, and even longer times between when we get together you are there. It is like we just connected last week, time seems to not matter for us.   You get me.   You make me laugh  when I don’t know I need it. You provide insight about myself sometimes I don’t recognize.   You challenge me and make me a better person.    I hope I have been as good of friend to you as you have been to me.

To my little sister friend, who is all grown up now.  Who’d have imagined when as a college student and you decided to rent a room from me that this would result in a friendship that was more like sisterhood. You never cease to amaze me with your drive.   Knowing you has helped me to realize it is never too late, or you are never too old to explore new things and dream a new dream.

To all my Thanksgiving family friends.   RangerSir and I have never been alone on my favorite holiday of the year.    Thanks to all my friends in Minnesota, Colorado, Michigan, and Montana who have be part of the the many dinners we have shared with you.

Thanks to all my creative friends who have been with me for all my creative endeavors.   Your support and encouragement have meant the world to me when I was full of doubt.

Thanks to my family who are not only friends but also family.   I am lucky that I have brothers who rock and never let me forget who I am or where I came from.

Thanks to RangerSir, who is not only my husband, but my best friend.

This holiday season I just want everyone to know I am thankful for having you in my life.

 

 

 

Gift of Friendship

Now that Christmas has come and gone there is no question what was the greatest gift for me.  It was the gift of friendship.

We have our Montana family friends.   The friends who welcomed RangerSir and I into their home and treated us just like family. Though they have lived in Montana almost their entire lives they get what it is to move and live far away from friends and family.  They have taken us in and treat us like family and include us in holiday activities, birthdays and graduations.   We have attended funerals and met their  extended family.    They are who we call in an crisis and we hopefully provide support when they need it as well.

My lifetime friends now live far away.  The amazing part of this friendship is   though we don’t get together often when we talk it is just like we saw each other just a few days ago.   When we get together we can chat for hours or sit in silence either works and both are OK.   My lifetime friends  know me better than I know myself some times and provide the moment of clarity when I need it most.  We have been through lots together, some of life changing, but most of it just plain fun.  A connection like that has last years, no matter how long the distance, no matter the changes in our lives we are their one another and their friendship makes us whole.

The like a sister friend who lived with me years ago and 20 years later is still like a younger sister to me.    We worry about her and cheer her every success.   Just like I imagine I would if I had a sister.

I have a large collection of social friends as well. Some are co-workers and former co-workers.   Others are family and old neighbors.    Folks who I exchange cards with during the holidays, catching up with them and all that has gone on this past year.   Some we don’t hear from but once a year but we look them up when we get in their neighborhood.

They are part of what makes my life so rich and I am so thankful for their friendship.

Remember to Print and Share You Photos

Everybody clicks today, but do they share?

Today there is a new accessibility to photography.   Even the dumbest cell phone can take some kind of photo.  Which is great because so many more family moments are getting captured.   Unfortunately in this digital age very few of these snapshots are getting saved in a means that will likely survive time.   Before the digital age the only way to know what you took was to have your film processed.   For most of John Q Public that also included printing your photos.

I have boxes of photos taken before the digital age.  There are many that my husband and I have taken.  My mother had tons of photos she took and she has gone through them as well, labeling them, and sharing them with the kids.    Before that  grandparents had photos they saved and passed on.   By the very act of printing photos they were preserved.   Someone has to look at them and consciously pitch them in the trash.   It increases the odds they will survive.

In this age of digital photography we tend to share photos by asking people to look at the back of our phones.     That for most photographers is as far as it goes.   If you are a little higher up on  preservation, you are moving photos from your phone or camera to a computer.    Being a tech-weenie I can not tell you how many times folks have called me and said I lost my pictures or music.    Most folks never back things up, so history is lost in many cases.   In a perfect world that stuff on your computer gets backed up to a  local external hard drive and some cloud based place.

Even if you are preserving your digital photos on the cloud odds are when you are gone no one is going to look through them determining what to save and keep.   Odds are when you are gone so is your digital photo history and the significance of them.

Five years ago a social acquaintance at a mutual friends birthday party showed me the answer to preserving memories.   Print your digital photos and share them.    This acquaintance was there with her digital camera recording the friend’s party.   Two weeks later in the mail I got a snapshot of my husband and I walking hand in hand she had taken, with a post-it on it that said “We don’t often get pictures take by others. Enjoy!”  This picture still sits on our bedroom dresser, it was a great moment she caught, because we seldom are folks who PDA even as simple as hand holding.  It is a rare moment saved.

I can’t tell you how many times at gatherings someone has asked to take our picture.   We are dressed up and think yeah this would be a good photo and yet we never see it.    We have all been there.  Today many photos are shared on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, Flickr and other online social media.    It is there for the day and then as more stuff comes in it is lost in the shuffle.   I recently saw a family snapshot taken by a waitress in a restaurant of friend’s family.   It was an amazing photo of the whole family.    Hope they print a couple and share all of them together smiling deserves to be looked at a year from now.

How can you do this print and share?   I suggest:   If you have a color printer it may be as simple as that.   I personally like sending them to a local pharmacy or discount store and having them printed “traditional.”   Whatever works best for you.   Bring a smile to some one’s face.   Be an unexpected bright spot.   Be the only thing in the mailbox besides bills.     Who knows someone might pay it forward and you will receive the same?  Preserve and share some memories this holiday season as you gather with family and friends.

Reflecting on Changes

Lately I have been noticing lots of changes in myself.   I spent the morning reflecting on that.  Looking out the window thinking and letting my mind wander.

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I came to realize that I am being more true myself lately.   Withdrawing from that which prevents that, and moving toward that which allows me to surface.

My lifetime friend and her husband recently visited.   It was wonderful to see her and connect with her in person.  It is a wonderful kind of friendship that I only have a few of.   She is one of the very few people I can freely be myself with.  We spent time talking not so much catching up but talking about ourselves and our futures; what we are doing that brings us joy and what we should be doing more of.

I have come to realize that this visit broke the dam of being what I thought I needed to be and allowed me to move toward what I want to be.   I am sort of a crazy, creative, risk taking, free-spirit, earth mama  who remembers the days of being very short of money.    It makes for an oxymoron sort of way of looking a life.   As much as I yearn for and feel best when I am functioning on the wild child right-side of my brain,  I am  one who understands that you need a job for money, and money for shelter and food.   So there is a piece of left brain that does indeed work and overrides the right side, because I like to eat and don’t want to be homeless.   Sometimes that left side goes crazy with craving to provide that stability that I get bogged down.  They can both co-exist, work and play well together in my life.   I just need to help find that balance.

You spend roughly 1/3 of your day in bed, 1/3 working (likely more than that), and the rest is your time.

I can’t change the amount of time I spend in bed too much, my body likes sleep.  Most of us need a certain amount of sleep for good health.

The amount of time we spend at work used to be eight hours a day and now for most folks the number is moving up as we let work creep more in to our personal lives.   It is hard for all of us as we need money to pay the bills.   For most of us that is jobs. Times are hard and if you have a job you feel lucky.   Often time we let jobs become us, define us  because we spend so much of our life at our jobs.  Been there, done that and not going back.  For some becoming one with the job works, Steve Jobs famous quote makes me think he found it.   For most of the rest of us it is just a facet of our life.   If we are lucky we like our job and co-workers.   In reality though there is a certain amount of protocol that we abide to when working, because it is what is expected while we are at work.   Most of our co-workers we do not socialize with in our off hours, not that they are not nice people, just not much in common besides your job.   So for your workday you spend most of your time being a good worker bee, which may not have much in common with you, besides your amazing skill set that your employer utilizes.

What I can change is how I utilize my free time.   Maybe free time isn’t the right word for it.  It is a precious commodity and it is mine.   To be used as I see fit.  I don’t need to justify what I do with that time.   None of us should.   How many times have we been enjoying an activity when we say I should…..you fill in the blank.   And if you don’t do the should what will happen??   Is there really a dire consequence of not doing the should and staying in the moment of the activity we are enjoying?   If not, I challenge you to do more of what you are enjoying and do less of the should.   So moving forward I am going to share more of the wild-child, earth mamma creative moments.   Maybe they will inspire you to do more of what you enjoy but have been missing.

My Taste Treat

Last weekend we joined friends at a restaurant that featured cuisine from countries that you might have found if you traveled the silk road. All menu items were served tapas style/size;  each item a size to allow four people to each have a couple of bites.

It was  a great time.   The conversation and laughter flowed freely.      It was made better by the fact that we were all willing to try things that we had not had before, or  would not normally have ordered.   It was a free for all taste treat.  No holds barred.

We tried three wines, and settled on a favorite and then ordered a  bottle for our dining accompaniment. We started with three items that may have been more  along the appetizer line.   Unanimously we agreed that we liked our humus to be heavier on the garlic.   That was the worst thing we said about anything all night long.    It was doubly fun in that each round we picked 3 or 4 things we had not yet tried on the menu.   When we were done we had tried 14 different menu items.     At no time did anyone speak up and say I don’t think I would like that.   We ordered  and let the chips fall where they may.

I am not traditionally a fish eater.   Yet I ate and enjoyed three fish dishes.   For me the item that I will remember as a taste treat was the Tuna Tartare.  It was also the dish I was most unsure of, almost to the point that I wanted to speak up against it when it was ordered.   I am so glad I did not.   I loved it.   I would gladly order it again!

It was a reminder to me about  my life.   You don’t know until you try!  Limiting yourself you can miss out on some life’s best experiences.   Amazing how a dinner can dish up a life lesson.