For anyone wondering about the project I was rambling on about in the last post, here are the long and short of it. The long: a book. The short: writing every day. 

The dream that I have is to write. It is also the very core of who I am, though I think I've been in denial for most of my life. As a child, I loved writing. I tore off covers of books and filled them with stories of fairies, forests, and so on. I wrote about world peace! I was idealistic, a bit of a dreamer, but very serious about my writing. Somehow in the last half of my life, my writing has sadly dropped away. At some point I began doubting myself, my writing, and everything in life. I became cynical. I consider myself an optimist, but it's hardest to be optimistic about my own dreams, I find. I've decided to pick it back up, because if I don't strive for my dreams, who will? 

I'm reading a couple books by Natalie Goldberg, and she's instilling courage in me and the willingness to write even when I don't want to, even when I feel I have nothing to say. Which is most the time. As for the short of it - writing every day - I'm learning discipline. As for the long of it - writing a book - I'm a far way off, but am hopeful for the eventuality. 

As I go along, writing everything I know and imagining what I don't, I unearth so much. Memories I had hidden away come to the surface. Things I didn't even know I remembered are coming up and surprising me, tapping me on the shoulder. I talked to my mom today and unearthed some painful parts of my (and her) past. I am fascinated by digging for the truth because it is such a huge job, and because it feels magnificently important. Also, it's fascinating because we all are unearthing, constantly. Learning about our past, about who we are now, who we were then, and who we might grow to be. We are learning about the world, material and spiritual. We each unearth, as if digging blindly and heroically, without ceasing.

What are you unearthing these days?


build it nonetheless

There is a nest coming together just out the door. A few weeks ago, I noticed a male and female red finch checking out some prospective real estate at the top corners of my front porch. Their loud chatter would draw me to the window, and I'd pull up the blinds to see them. Usually they noticed the movement and flew away. I decided to try to lie low, honored by their attention to my lowly abode, and allow them to build a home of their own. I would only sneak a peek as I walked outside, pretending not to notice if I saw one of them perched in a corner. Each corner acquired a collection of stems and leaves, but then the next day I would find them scattered on the ground below the corner. Finally they chose a corner and committed to building an entire nest. It seemed to go up quickly, and then it was my pleasure to spy on the birds coming and going to and from their little home. I wondered if there would soon be tiny chirps amongst their adult chirps.

Then the storms came. If you were watching the news or listening to the radio, you know about it already. Tornadoes, high speed winds, tons of rain, even hail. We lost power for half a day, not bad at all compared to others who lost it for over a week. The day of the storms I noticed it gone, I cried out in surprise. Something in my chest tightened and I set out in the driving rain to look for the nest. I found it on the grass, face-down. I didn't want to disturb it, but I had to make sure. I turned it over - no sign of eggs. I checked under bushes and tore apart the grass with my eyes - no sign of eggs, not even broken ones. I silently thanked the powers that be and studied the intricate nest before putting it on the edge of the porch.

It struck a note with me, and I pondered how much my life was like that of the birds. I set out with an idea or a project, a goal in mind. I spend hours, days, months trying to get the particulars right. Sometimes the idea dies right there, and I wave goodbye with a "so long, sucker!" attitude, because the idea was too high-maintenance or I didn't have the means or know-how to put it into action. Other times the idea begins to come together. I work hard to weave it strand by strand, reinforcing the weak bits and insulating the parts meant to sustain and support me or others. As the thing draws to a finish, a storm comes. It is something I could not have known about or seen coming, yet it comes anyway, and ruthlessly it destroys the very thing I worked so hard to build. When this happens, I rarely come back to it. I usually let it fall apart and go back to the meaningless pieces it had been before the weaving. Sometimes, with a little self-encouragement, I can find the courage to continue. The idea I'm currently reviving is in its beginning stages, as small unrelated pieces. I have no idea how it will ever come together, or what will be birthed in me and my life if it does manage to come together.
But I'm going to try to build it nonetheless.

After the day of storms was over, the nest was nowhere to be found. I did not see the birds for nearly a week, and worried that they might have left altogether. To my pleasant surprise, they returned. For the past few days I have heard their lively talk as they perform the same ritual as before - choosing a corner for the nest. Each day I marvel at the corner full of twigs, and then I see them on the ground. They are beautiful. I wonder where the birds find this particular flower and why they choose it over others. I anxiously await the quick build of the nest, and hope that soon after I will see a guarded mother bird and hear tiny, joyous chirps.


little steps

Great journeys begin with just a couple small steps.
At least, that's my mantra this week. After reading "Radical Homemakers", discovering Corbyn's blog, and taking stock of my life, I pulled out my notebook and sat down to write out some lists.
I decided to go ahead and put it down on paper, which was both thrilling and terrifying. I wrote in careful handwriting: Dreams/Plans for the Future.
So much of what I wrote seemed that it could only happen in some far away distant time, so much so that I felt hesitant to write some of my goals, such as having goats. In an effort to lift my heart and strengthen my can-do spirit, I looked at my list and wondered what I could do right now. I remembered my tiny, contained garden on the front porch - my two tomato plants and one basil, who needs a bigger container. I decided to buy more seeds and soil, and to grow more. Then I came up with the make-shift clothesline on the unused back porch. I did a load of cloth diapers and hung them up in the sun, and felt good about my little steps.


sitting pretty

All signs point to: privileged. Above average, blessed, wealthy by many standards. As a white gal born to a middle class family in the United States, I am exceedingly privileged.

Natalie recently talked about the privilege she and her husband have in choosing a job. My husband Scott and I are similarly blessed. He is a nurse and for the time being, it's a job in high demand. It still takes some work to find an opening that fits his wants and needs, but the mere fact that he has choices and is able to land a job at a good hospital is incredible. While so many people are going without, whether as a result of the recession or because they are already in poverty, I am sitting pretty with my nice house, electricity and central air, working vehicle, food budget, etc.

Tonight I found Corbyn's blog, and have been devouring every single post of hers, as if it is the only thing that will sustain me. She documents the changes her family has made as she lost her high-paying job and had to give up everything - cable, internet, gym membership, health insurance, car. Her family survives on a combination of WIC, food stamps, and dumpster diving. They ride bikes everywhere, no matter the weather. What's most surprising is her attitude. She is full of humor and (there's no other way to put this) realness. Here's a post she wrote recently on her shareable.net blog. What she has found instead of financial and material resources are what she calls "social resources", and that is exactly what I was getting at in my last post.

What's most important are the things that have fallen by the way-side - relationships with family, friends, neighbors. Sharing, supporting, loving, and giving in every way possible to those around us, in a safety net of arms. I want to strip away the things that keep me from real life, and dig down deeper to tend to the roots of the relationships in my life.

I feel that I posed the question to myself: what do you want? What are your dreams? And the answers are coming pouring in. There are things I want that are uncomfortable, like community. Do you know how vulnerable it feels to depend on other people? There are things that I want that will take some initial investment, like a rain barrel or some hens. But I want to work hard for a life that is more sustainable on every level, and a life that benefits not only myself and my family, but those around me as well. I want to live a life that gives more than it takes, and that can let go instead of holding on. I don't know where to begin, really, but I'm sure that as I continue to ponder the path from here to there, I will figure it all out with plenty of mistakes and with the depth of wisdom that only experience can provide.