Waking Up in a Different Time Zone

One day I fell asleep in North Carolina and several months later, just like on TV, woke up in California. But unlike your favorite series, it wasn’t a clean cut. It wasn’t easy or without pain.  If you are still with me after this extended hiatus you are either very patient or, more likely, related to me but either way thanks for hanging around. We’ll now resume where we left off, tackling the 100 THINGS TO DO BEFORE YOU GROW UP. This week’s challenge is to STEP OUTSIDE OF YOUR COMFORT ZONE.

Let’s be honest, this is pretty much a staple of adulthood. As you get older you realize that you can somewhat design your life to minimize encountering situations that require you to step outside your comfort zone. I was probably 24 years old before I realized that I actually didn’t have to ride roller coasters if I didn’t want to.  But with this challenge I feel like I’ve stumbled onto what is probably the existential test of the average person’s life: how to balance comfort and security with continued growth and purpose. Now, I’m no self-help expert so if you are expecting me to give you some timely tools to help you with this I’m going to assume that you are new to this blog and assign you the chore of reading the earlier posts and then going to the library for the latest self-help title.

The book suggests trying a new food, talking to someone you’ve never met, or exploring somewhere you’ve never been.  It says you’ll never know what you’re truly capable of until you push beyond your boundaries a little bit.  I agree. I’ve gotten better at trying new foods as I’ve aged, I’m embarrassed to say that sometimes I am that person who chats up the next person in line and I like to explore places I’ve never been.  These are good comfort zones to expand as a kid.  Life as a military spouse requires a fair amount of time outside the comfort zone. I have learned a couple of things, both as a military spouse and just a participant in life. 1. Discomfort is okay, it’s temporary and usually not as bad as you expected. 2. Always look forward.  My kids know that “Don’t look back” is a long-standing motto of mine, usually deployed upon seeing an animal hovering at the edge of a highway. If we can’t stop something from happening without hurting ourselves our best recourse is to not look back. I guess what I’m saying is, don’t torture yourself over things you can’t change. 3. Who am I kidding? I don’t have a number three.

Sometimes pushing yourself means trying tripe or attending a conference where you know no one. Other times life gives you a push.  For the first time in 27 years I am living in a house without any of my kids. Not only do they not live with me, they live on the other side of the country. Now, I know that many people have it much worse. I have friends living in other countries that put their college student on a plane in August and don’t see them again until June. Comparing one person’s trials against another’s is a long and deep rabbit hole that I have no interest in digging.  What I’m saying is that I am outside my comfort zone and I’m doing ok. Next week I’ll spend the first Thanksgiving, since I had kids, without kids.   But, I’m happy that they will all be together. And, I know that we will all be together again. I’m embracing the discomfort, enjoying time as an empty nester with my co-empty nester, and not looking back. It’s been exciting to watch as my little people have developed into big people. More importantly, developed into good people. The kind of solid people that you spend a lifetime of love and patience, mistakes and worry, pain and joy, hoping you’ll end up with.

So, how big is your comfort zone?  Are you a roller coaster rider? A raw fish eater? An empty nester?  I’d love to hear your experiences. If you did look back on that road and what you saw wasn’t pleasant please keep it to yourself and I won’t say I told you so.

Before you go…I’m well aware that “don’t look back” could be construed as encouraging denial as a coping tool.  Your point is?

 

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Dream On

This challenge could be very interesting…if I can remember to do it.  RECORD YOUR DREAMS FOR A WEEK.  THEN TRY TO DECODE THEM TO DISCOVER WHAT’S GOING ON IN YOUR BRAIN WHEN YOU SLEEP.  From what I understand, everyone dreams but not everyone remembers.  I am one of those people who remember their dreams.    Although my dreams are vivid and strange they are usually forgotten once I start my day.  It will be a challenge to 1) remember to write them down and 2) take the time to do so.   Trying to decode my dreams might be even trickier.  Do I really want to know what’s going on my in brain when I’m asleep?

Sometimes decoding my dreams is easy.  Because I often dream about things that I have on my mind when I go to bed, I have a rule that I don’t talk about subjects that could be stressful or thought-provoking right before bedtime.  This rule was initially put into play when my sister, Emilie, and I started a reusable bag company, circa 2006.  Lee always wanted to talk about it as we were heading to bed, thus the institution of the “no bag talk after 8pm” rule.  This rule has morphed and been used for many topics.  I highly recommend it. It’s necessary for my self-preservation and required if I’m going to get a good night’s sleep.  Don’t get me wrong,  it’s not that I won’t be able to fall asleep, although that happens occasionally, but that I will spend the night living out our discussions with strange tweaks and weird settings.  Not conducive for restful sleep.

Recurring dreams are supposed to reflect an unresolved conflict.  My first recurring dream happened when I was in either 6th or 7th grade when my sister, Emilie, left for college.  I dreamed I was riding my bike around Stillwater, OK looking for her but whenever I arrived somewhere she would have just left.  I’ve had other recurring dreams but I wouldn’t say most were the result of unresolved conflict as much as a reflection of a large change in my life.

The biggest challenge might be translating my dreams into writing.  If you’ve ever tried to describe a dream to someone you realize that there is really no language that allows you to adequately detail such a singular occurrence.  I’ll do my best and you’ll just have to promise not to conclude I’m a weirdo.  One especially peculiar aspect of  dreams appears when you “know” you are in a particular place, like your home or work, but it looks nothing like your home or work.  Another occurs when you have a famous person in your dream, let’s say Derek Jeter, but as the dream goes on you realize it is not Derek Jeter but your husband instead.   I’m not saying I’ve ever dreamed about Derek Jeter, that’s just an example.

So, do you remember your dreams?  Are they vivid and strange, like mine?  Please tell me they are! Do you find it difficult to capture them for other people? If you are up for this challenge, I’d love to hear about your dreams.  I’ll be writing down my dreams each morning for a week.  Next week, I’ll be back to let you know if I remembered to write them down and, more importantly, if I’ve managed to decode them and crack the puzzle of my sleeping brain. Oh, boy, wish me luck!

Before you go, I think we’ve all had that I’m-at-school-naked dream at one time or another but I’m wondering if you have work specific dreams as an adult?  I’ve had a couple of library Storytime dreams…most recently I had a Dance Party nightmare!

Ode to a Dog

You may not realize it but April is National Poetry Month.  Which means it’s the perfect month for this particular challenge: WRITE A POEM. If you are like me you don’t spend a lot of time thinking about poetry.  I probably haven’t written a poem since I was in school…possibly grade school.  The good news is that this time I don’t have to present it in front of a class.  The bad new is that I’ll be sharing it on a blog but at least I don’t have to make eye contact.

I’ve always been a prose person.   Give me a novel any day.  As an English major I read plenty of poems and as a Youth Services Librarian I’ve purchased my share of kid’s poetry books.  But, if I’m honest, I can’t say that I’m a big poetry fan. I think that says more about me than about poetry.  I’m relatively sure that appreciating poetry requires more thinking than I’m inclined to apply to a free time activity.  It’s probably no surprise that my favorite book of poems hasn’t changed since I was in grade school:  Shel Silverstein’s classic, Where the Sidewalk Ends. I only own three books of poems and they are all by Shel Silverstein.  I’m going to assume that everyone is familiar with the poems of Shel Silverstein.  If not, please at least google him and read a couple.  Or better yet, check one of his books at your local library.  They’ve held up very well.  Plus, his accompanying illustrations improve on the text, just as they should.  Maybe that’s why I’m stuck in the poetry of my youth…I need pictures.

I will spare you the agony of reading a traditional poem crafted by me.  However, I am a fan of the six word memoir. The story goes that when asked if he could write a complete story in six words, Ernest Hemingway offered, “For Sale: baby shoes, never worn.”  Using that as inspiration, in 2008, Smith magazine invited writers, famous and not, to write their own Six Word Memoirs–some were funny, some were sad.  The best have been compiled into books if you are inclined to seek them out.  If you haven’t ever tried your hand at describing your life using only six words, you should.  It’s actually kind of addictive once you get started.

Last weekend we had to say goodbye to our fourteen-year-old basset hound, Luke.  He was a great dog and beloved member of our family.  In his honor, my six word memoir:

Lucky to have loved my Luke.

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Luke

This might not technically count as writing a poem, but as I’ve said before, this is my blog and I can do what I want.  Plus, my dog just died so I think I get a pass.

Before you go…whether you are a poetry person or not, I invite you to join me and write your own six word memoir this week. Your life story in six words: funny, sad, touching or clever.  I will be writing and posting a different one of my own each day on the Before You Grow Up Challenge Facebook page.  Post yours in the comments here or on the FB page.  I dare you to stop at just one.  Actually, I beg you to write at least one!

We Got Here Just In Time

I’ve struggled to decide how to recap the quest for a good luck charm.  I don’t have one.  I do pick up pennies when I see them…head’s up or not…and I enjoy seeing a rainbow as much as the next person but I don’t consider either of those things to be particularly lucky.  When I think about being lucky it’s hard not to just talk about my family.  I’m fairly sure droning on and on about what a great family you have is equivalent to showing someone all 400 of your vacation photos.  Lucky, blessed, favored, charmed.  Different people call it different things.  So, let the record show that I’m lucky to have the family and friends that I have, to be healthy,  and to have enough money for the things we need.

Instead of searching for one of the previously listed good luck symbols, I’ve decided to craft a new list of the things that make me feel lucky when I find them.

In no particular order:

  1. Good parking spot
  2. Last Coke in the fridge
  3. No line at post office, bank, etc.
  4. Desired shoes in the correct size (bonus if on sale)
  5. No one in seat next to you on plane
  6. Beautiful weather on day off
  7. Wildlife sighting: bunny, deer, bird (sorry, robin, you only count after a long winter)
  8. Photo of self that could be used on social media
  9. No one waiting for library book you need to renew
  10. Watching crucial TV episode before someone spoils it for you
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I like squirrels but they are too prevalent for me to feel lucky to see one.  However, this guy looked like he wanted to have his picture taken.  He’s well aware of how lucky he is to live where he does.

There you have it.  That’s what good luck looks like in my life.  What about you?  What things would make your own list?  I find  the more things in my life that I can label as being lucky the better.  Luck is relative.  I try to give myself permission to find the glass half full whenever I can.  Some days it’s harder than others but nothing feels better than a sign that things are going your way.

Before you go…my family has adopted the saying, “we got here just in time”.  We use it anytime we go somewhere and suddenly a lot of people show up after us.  I suppose this makes us feel lucky but it also helps us emphasize the half-full glass.  Never mind that the last time we went to PF Chang’s we waited an hour, this time, “we got here just in time”.