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Re-entering Reality September 16, 2012

Posted by phoenixhopes in life, lists, thoughts.
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I used to be a bit suspicious of hermits. After all, isn’t someone who chooses to go off by themselves for long periods of time, without even an internet connection, a bit of an odd duck? Truthfully, I’m an introvert by nature and require time alone to recharge my batteries. I’ve been known to spend a weekend holed up in my apartment, without talking to another person (as long as “talking” is defined as using my voice — I still plug in electronically via e-mail, Facebook and text). Instead my days are spent reading, creating, puttering, sleeping. Exactly what I was up to during that time was not important; the fact that I was doing it alone was the good part. But those people who go for weeks, months or even years without engaging another soul… I just couldn’t fathom it. Until now.

At this moment my brain is full and my heart is overflowing. I’m on overload and need time to process it all. There are so many thoughts I need to get out of my head and onto paper (or into the computer as the case may be) that it’s difficult to compose even a list, much less choose what comes first. I’d like to curl up with a journal and write until my hand cramps so badly I need to use the other hand to pry the pen out of my fingers. Once the Advil kicks in and my hand recovers from that writing session, I’ll move to the keyboard and empty more of my thoughts into the the digital archive. Maybe after a week or two of brain dump I might be ready to make sense of it all and format it into something intelligible. I want to ditch my normal life and hide out and become a writer. I think that means I want to be a hermit.

For now, this is only a fantasy. “Real life” is calling: back to the office in the morning, e-mail and paper mail to sort through, checking the news to find out what happened in the world while I was away for the weekend, catching up with family and friends. I wish I could wait a little while before entering that world. Unfortunately, I’m out of vacation time for awhile and can’t justify calling in sick so it’s back to that reality I go. And yet… and yet… I must find a way to make the time to write, to get the words and ideas and beauty and pain out of my head an into a language others can understand.

I started my journey this year with the goal to simply be more mindful in my life. The first month of the year is barely half over and already my direction is changing. Perhaps it is more accurately stated that my direction is expanding. Yes, I want to be mindful, but what does that mean and what does it include?

This morning I sat outside with my coffee, breathing in the country-style quiet, listening to the bird calls and the breeze in the leaves, and considering what it was I didn’t want to forget. I pulled out my phone and sent myself a text. (Please tell me I’m not the only one that does this — I send notes from my phone to my e-mail with some regularity.) This is what I want to see in my life and by extension, what is likely to show up on this blog. It’s not a complete list by any means, but it’s a partial list of what is important to my journey today.

Live mindfully

Give generously, with an open hand

Love freely, without judgement

Listen to the wind

Ponder, and document those ponderings

Say yes as much as possible, but don’t be afraid to say no when appropriate

Remember what is important; let that shape my life

A vacation into hermitude might be nice to jumpstart my creativity but it is rather unlikely I’ll be given that opportunity any time soon. Or any time ever. Rather than becoming a hermit my challenge is to apply that first item and live my life in such a way that that I have time to write. I can’t stop life and take a season to do nothing but write and process my thoughts. I can remember that writing is important and learn to structure my life in a way that shows it’s priority.

Why oh why… September 13, 2012

Posted by phoenixhopes in Uncategorized.
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…is it so difficult to make new, better for me habits and so darned easy to fall back into old, bad habits?

Change, even thoughtful, this-is-in-my-best-interest types of change, is such a challenge.

I am determined that it will happen.

On Comfort Zones and Finding Magic September 3, 2012

Posted by phoenixhopes in Comfort Zone, life, thoughts.
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On occasion, when my pastor is preaching, my mind wanders off on a rabbit trail. It starts with something she said, but then, well, I stop paying attention and go off on my own little tangent for awhile. It happened again yesterday. Clarissa quoted from the book If You Want to Walk on Water, You’ve Gotta Get Out of the Boat (or maybe she just quoted the book title – I, uh, stopped listening for a bit) and said our Fears are our Boats. That got me thinking…. What is it I’m afraid of? Really, truly afraid and not simply unnecessarily worried? Probably just one thing/person – my ex-husband. This is the only fear that causes nightmares and it’s a healthy fear, born from reality. Although I cannot let it control me and limit my life, I am wise to be aware and to be wary.

There is so much more than true fear that holds me back, so much more that keeps me in the boat. It’s not fear but instead it’s that damn Comfort Zone. Last night, as I was falling asleep I wondered… Is there anything inherently wrong or dangerous with wanting to be comfortable? Wrong or dangerous, probably not. But it certainly is limiting. If my goal is to stay comfortable there is so much of life I will avoid. If I’m avoiding things in life, then I’m not really living it to it’s fullest.

Of course, there are some things I’ve tried and know they are just not my cup of tea. Rollercoasters. The last time I went on one, maybe 8 or 10 years ago, I decided I was old enough to embrace the fact that they do not bring me even one tiny ounce of joy. I know the scare is part of the appeal but I just don’t get it. I spend the time in line with a knot in the pit of my stomach and spend the ride with my eyes clenched shut, screaming in panic. There is no release when it’s over. I just want to collapse in the bushes until the waves of panic are done, and never, ever do that again. I feel no compulsion to challenge that comfort zone.

Or Lima Beans, the nastiest food God invented. I will never willingly eat a Lima Bean. Please, if you ever invite me for dinner, don’t serve Lima Beans.

Beyond those few things I’ve tried and know they just aren’t for me, what do I gain by staying comfortable? Perhaps the better question is – what have I gained by pushing my limits?

My Comfort Zone keeps me safe. I know what to expect. I don’t have to think much. When I’m living here I tend to eat the same foods, read the same blogs (the ones I know I’ll agree with), work on easy projects, think the same thoughts and hang out with the same people. Living in my Comfort Zone is easy. I’m not challenged (or if I am, I put my fingers in my ears and sing “La, la, la, la… I can’t hear you”).

Sometimes, living here is what I need. I pull my Comfort Zone over me like a cocoon protecting me from the outside world. It can be a place of healing and restoration after one of “those” weeks. It is the solace of an old friend who knows me almost better than I know myself. My Comfort Zone is rest.

If living inside the Comfort Zone is rest, stepping outside is growth. This is where I learn to listen, to let go of my preconceptions, to really see. It is challenging myself to try new things. When I step outside I meet new (and usually interesting) people. My world gets bigger. I learn I am braver, stronger and smarter than I ever imagined was possible.

Stepping outside my bubble is not always my choice. Sometimes those who know (and hopefully love) me “volunteer” me for responsibilities or activities I would never choose on my own. Sometimes the crap that happens in life shoves me out and barricades the door. Living outside my Comfort Zone does not always feel magical. It can feel lonely and painful and insecure and I don’t like being there. I might not choose to step outside my Comfort Zone and it may take a while to find my way back to that safety and rest but, when I am outside, in the unknown, I will always learn and grow. The bonus is, if I look hard enough, I’ll also find the magic.

Just remember, I implore you, no Lima Beans.

My Very Own Personal Fiscal Year September 1, 2012

Posted by phoenixhopes in Consumerism, Goals, life, New Years, thoughts, Uncategorized.
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Later this month I turn 54, solidly in my mid-fifties, no hiding from middle age. (Honestly, I don’t expect to live to 100 or more so shouldn’t the fifties be called something other than middle age?) The main thing that I think about when I consider my age is that I really thought I’d have my life together by now. Instead, here I am still desperately trying to figure out who I want to be when I grow up.

I’ve decided to stop trying to figure that out and simply be who I am today. I am a woman, a mother, a friend, a church member, an employee. I read for fun, for information, for escape and watch movies and tv for the same reasons. I’m an introvert who can sometimes be quite outgoing. I’m single for now (hopefully not forever but I will never again compromise who I am to be with someone). I have trust issues: I’ll trust you until you hurt me and then I may never trust you again. I’ve struggled with my weight my entire life. I have a difficult time-saving money because there always seems to be something important and urgent to spend it on. I was surprised to find out I like preaching. I tend to over commit. I am a much calmer person when I have a creative outlet of some sort. Sometimes I over think things. I like reading about politics but not so much discussing it. I’m rather competitive and not a very gracious loser. I hate being put on the spot. To sum it all up: I’m a complex person and although most of the time I’m satisfied with who I am, I can see at least some of my flaws well enough to want to work on them.

I decided to see the next twelve months as my very own personal fiscal year. A new birthday equals a new beginning. I want to take stock of where I am and think about where I want to be twelve months from now. My main goal is to be more mindful about my life – am I living a life that is consistent with what I say are my values? Where is my money going? How am I spending my time? How is my soul? What satisfies me?

I’ll use the blog to share the journey.

Waking Up the Phoenix September 1, 2012

Posted by phoenixhopes in randomness, thoughts.
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I’ve been quiet here for much too long. I knew I hadn’t written much but was surprised to see there have only been about a dozen posts since January 2010. I think it’s time to wake the Phoenix. 

I may not have written much here but I’ve thought about this blog almost every day. I considered never writing here again and starting over with something totally fresh and new. There are advantages to that option. It’s like seeing that new calendar every January with all the hopes and dreams for the year to come, or a new notebook with pages to fill. A fresh new blog for new adventures does have it’s attraction.

I decided to stay put because I didn’t want to lose the little history that is here. I am who I am. Even if no one else ever reads what came before, it’s there as a link to who I was and where I came from. It reminds me that I should never hide who I was but instead learn from the past and grow. (Not that there is anything juicy or earth-shakingly inspiring in the blog history. Or maybe….)

Once I decided to stay, I considered my focus. My kids are too old to start being a mommy blogger. I cook and knit and craft but the volume I create of any of those would never sustain a blog. I’m interested in politics and religion but not enough to focus on either, or to deal with the potentially volatile discussions that would ensue. I want to share the books and movies I read but does the internet really need another review site? Finally, I decided what I really want is all of the above.

I am a complex and ever-changing Phoenix – burned, broken, crushed – ever rising to new heights and new adventures.