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Wanting Opposites

In my last post, I discussed one of my favorite writers, Daniele LaPorte and one of the excerpts from her book :  The Desire Map: A Guide to Creating Goals with Soul  She had so many wonderful thoughts, exercises and writing prompts.  I really enjoyed it and still do.  In fact, I bought a copy for one of my friends.

In that same book, she lists some of her desires.  From wanting to shave her head and also wanting to have long beautiful hair.  Who hasn’t desired opposites?  My big opposite desires are the freedom of being tied toanything, and my agricultural, living of the land simply dreams.  In the same vein, but opposite. This is the duality I have always and will always feel.  This tug I’ve never been able to fully reconcile.  Quite frankly, I doubt I ever will.

But,  in these opposites, I see similarity.  I see that I crave a life of simplicity, semi-solitude, and quiet.  Give me organic acoustic.  I want the Bow and Arrow vs the rifle.  Give me the Kayak vs the motor boat.  I feel myself tense when I enter a city.  My deep breaths are met with the sourness (ugh, Philly in Spring will make you eyes water).  When I drive into the country, the mountains, the valleys I can breathe.  The crick in my neck loosens and my heart can beat fully. I feel home.

I think within these opposite pulls, we need to find the similar thread, and I think this thread is part of the fabric that makes us us.  The Sarah-ness of Sarah, or the Julia-ness of Julia.

One day I may find myself living in van down by the river or climbing crag moving with the seasons, or I may find myself on a small permaculture farm  tending to my roots.  I may also be working for a corporation BUT I’m sure I’ll always crave wide open spaces.  I’m sure I’ll always dream.  I’m sure I’ll always come up with wild ideas and I’m sure I’ll always, always be changing my mind.

Comfort comes from seeing the consistency of my wild dreams.  It makes me feel not so much like a flailing teenager.  It makes me feel like my pendulum of desire is no longer swinging as wildly from one extreme to another, but quietly swinging back and forth like a porch swing in a spring breeze.  (Please note: this breeze is decidedly in the country and NOT in any major metropolitan area)

Inspire

Inspired

Creators and Consumers

Innovators and Copiers

Actors and Audience

I think we all land in  both categories at some time.  We have to.  But some people create, innovate and entertain more often than others.  They can’t help it.  Their wheels are always turning, innovating.  And the aim of their creation reaches so much further than just any single object or idea they put in the world.

One of my favorite writers, Danielle LaPorte (DanielleLaPorte.com) strings words together that make me feel, make me think in different ways and opens my mind.  I’m consuming her stuff, but it also makes me want to create.

She tells a story a two of her friends in The Desire Map: A Guide to Creating Goals with Soul, Lance and Louise.  Louise loves Lance, Lance doesn’t quite feel the same vibe for Louise.  So, in a very romantic movie kind of way, Louise approaches him about her love one final time.  And like the lyrics of a song, the words in this story play in my mind over and over again.

With heart in hand and Cabernet courage

Geez.  I can feel that.

Her selection and ordering of words make me feel.  Who knows if that was her why.

She also describes her desires in another section of the book.  She wants to “make things that make people want to make things of their own”.  With that single line, she inspired me to want to make things.  To be a creator.  To be part of the makers, not the takers.

And when you make things, and yes, that means you.  If you are reading this and you want to make something, please do.  And in your doing, in your making, in your creating, you inspire the hell out of me.

Do you tell awesome stories around a campfire? You know the kind, every time you tell the story, it gets more entertaining (but maybe less true?).

Do you sing songs, play guitar, draw, make videos or build with legos?

Thank you.  You make this world so much richer.  You make me want to create.

Creative Inspiring Home:

When I walk into a house filled with creative souls, I can feel the inspiration.  There is a house in particular that comes to mind.   I walk into that house and the inspiration is oozing out of every wall.  The walls are filled with art, books, music and movies.  The backyard is filled with native plants that harbor wildlife, and are beautifully arranged in a calming flow.  It makes the small backyard in the middle of suburban insane-sameness feel like a safe quiet heaven.  And then there is “The Fridge”.  Oh The Fridge! It is filled with quotes, some cartoons and some pictures.  An hour could be spent ( dare not say wasted ) enjoying the collage of creation.

This heavenly house is far from being featured in the most recent architectural Digest, or the most recent Home Decor magazine.  But when you walk into this house, you know who lives there.  You feel them.  You feel their appreciation of beauty, of family, and their humor.

And do you think when the owners of this house were hanging pictures, arranging pictures and stacking their shelves with books – everything from Music Appreciation, Children’s books, Art books, Fiction, Gardening- Belle from Beauty and the Beast would be elated) do you think they ever thought I would leave that house wanting to make things of my own?

No! but creativity is contagious. It makes your cells vibrate in a different, almost primal way.

And I don’t necessarily think it needs to be shared.  Unless you want to.  There are many words I string together on paper.  Many scribbles I make, many silly stories that play out in my head.

I throw most of them away.  (There are parts of my life that I am unapologetically, furiously attached to, I sometimes work on unattachement in other areas).  Why did I create? Who did I inspire?  No one.  But it let me enjoy my human experience a little more.

It allows me to feel a little differently.

So please continue to create.  Whatever it is, in whatever way it is.  Just let yourself come alive in that very special way that only you do.  Because when you do, you inspire me.  You really do.

Thank you.

 

 

Special Suffering

I will be boldly attached.
Buddha said that suffering comes from attachment.
It does.
He was right.
But my bliss comes from my attachment.
My attachment to my husband, my child.
I will never ever be unattached.
Take that away, and I am what?
I am experiencing less than my human experience.
My child cries in pain, and I think my heart will not survive.
My child professes his love.
My heart flies to the heavens.
So fuck you being unattached.
I would not want to live without that special love, that special attachment,
that Special suffering.
that Special Suffering is part of my human experience.
So I gladly sign my self up to Suffer in a very Special way for those that I am mightily attached to.

80% Done is 100% Incomplete

80% done is 100% incomplete.

That thought quote has two effects on me:

  1. It makes me want to complete things that I’ve started.
  2. It makes me not want to start as much for fear of not finishing.

I generally find quotes  insprirational and motivational, but I also feel that quotes like that can pull me two ways.  The quote can inspire me, while also leaving me feel completely and utterly overwhelmed.

Another quote (from Elizabeth Gilbert’s book: Big Magic);

Done is better than perfect.

Ugh.  That makes me feel two things: inspiration and revolt.  Done is better than perfect.  Okay, that makes me want to get some shit done.  But then all I have is completed shit.  That is not very appealing to me.  Neither is the idea of an endless cycle of perfection which this quote aims to disrupt.  Where do you draw the line?

So how do we keep the fear of creating crap balanced with the fear of creating nothing?

Well, we start creating.  We start making what we feel we are good at.  Or what give us joy to create.  And we be honest with ourselves.  I mean really honest.  We need walk the line between having pride in our work and being paralyzed by perfection.  We need to work on our creation – be it a visual creation, the stringing of words, writing code for a coputer program or hosting a sales call.  And by continuing to work, we will continue to get better.  So we don’t have to start at perfect, or even good.  We need to start.

Then we continue. We work.  We get better.  When do we declare a project done?  We declare it done when we realize that the extra amount of time we would take to perfect it would be better spent creating our next work.  We declare it done when we know that is good. When we take a deep breath and realize that it’s time to walk away.

At that  point, put your lovely creation out into the world, or put it away.  As long as you keep moving, you will keep improving.  The things you create will become better.  Here’s a secret: they will never be good enough.  There will always be a better way you could have drawn the line, written those words, or delivered that speech.  The personal and creative growth comes from continually trying and honing yourself.

Thank you.

Life is a Highway

Song lyrics.  Great Song Lyrics.  Great Song.  Now here’s my take:

Twice a week, I drive to a train station about about 50 miles away.  Sometimes it takes me an hour, sometimes it takes me much longer. When it takes me longer, I can usually blame one or two causes: accidents or road work.

The road work has been an on-going project for over a year.  It has been expensive, time consuming and a pain in the butt.  The traffic patterns are confusing, and merging on to the highway adds an addrenaline spike to my drive home.

But when the road has been widened, the lanes are smooth, and the workers and their machinery move to a different project, I’ll forget about all the inconvenvience.  If the road was built well.  If it wasn’t, if one part is missing: the angles of the ramp were mis-engineered,  or the road is bumpy, I’m going to remember the awful time I had commuting from work.  I’m going to think about how that whole load of crap we had to deal with was a waste of everyone’s time and money.

And what would be the worse case in road work: the workers keep their equipment there, no new work is getting done, but all of the inconvenient pain in the butt road work is there for drivers to contend with.  YUCK.

So here’s my point: Life is a Highway.

We undertake self-improvement projects that are sometimes exhuasting, or just make us incredibly uncomfortable, because positive growth is work and the process sometimes sucks.

But much like highway work, it will make our travels better in the end.  We will enjoy the fruits of our labor, and forget the pains of getting there.  BUT if we stop halfway through, don’t clean up our project, nor do we make any effort to learn from our shortcoming, we just made everything worse.

So take on your self-improvement projects.  If not, you’ll be working with dirt roads that are impassible in any sort of inclement weather.  But make sure you keep you eye on your progress, so as to not ruin traffic for no reason.

 

Thank you.

 

 

 

 

Honor Your Darkness

Honor Your Darkness – A Poem

Honor your darkness,

Your shadows,

Your depths.

Honor the place in you that only you know about.

Honor the place that you fear.

Honor that which is in you.

For within the depth of the darkness,

We find our light.

We know not what light is,

Without the dark.

We know not elation

Without the needed tribulation.

Not all of it is Rainbows and Starlight,

But without the rain,

we have no rainbows.

Without the dark of night,

Stars are invisible.

So honor your darkness.

Honor the genesis of your rainbow.

Honor yourself.

Inside.

Outside.

All sides.

chicken divan

Chicken Divan – A Family Favorite

A friend of mine gave me this recipe.  It is FANTASTIC.  I really like it, as does everyone in my family, including my 3 year old.

I’ve made a few changes to the original, but it is so simple, and yummy.

Ingredients:

Steps

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Cover the bottom of a 8 x 8 baking dish with the shredded chicken. IMG_0566
  3. Cover that with the partially cooked florets (cook these for about half the time you usually do)IMG_0573
  4. In a separate bowl, mix together the mayo, condensed soup, and  1/2 cup of cheese.IMG_0567IMG_0569
  5. Spread this on top of the chicken and broccoli.
  6. Sprinkle the remaining half cup of cheese over the casserole.IMG_0578
  7. Bake for 25 minutes.IMG_0580
  8. Serve over rice.  (Rice how-to here)

Notes:

As you can see from the pictures, I basically just cover the bottom of the dish with chicken and layer the broccoli over.  As you make it, you may find you like more or less chicken or broccoli.  Again, it’s up to you and what you like.  That’s one of the big pluses of cooking for yourself.

The flavors in the soup is so delicious I find I don’t need to add any extra spices.  The brand is made of whole natural ingredients.  You are not eating chemical soup with this, you are still eating real food. So if you are looking for a good replacement for your Campbell’s Cream of Whatever, I highly recommend these soups.

Honor Your Light

Honor Your Light – A Poem

It’s undeniable:

When you’re lit up.

When you honor that which lights you up.

You light up more.

You light up those around you.

So honor your light,

Honor your joy,

Do what makes your soul soar,

Your belly fill with butterflies

and Your Spirit Roar.

You Jump.

Not knowing if you’ll be caught,

but knowing the ride will be worth it.

No

Matter

the

Outcome.

Honor your light.

 

Convince

Stop Trying to Convince Yourself

I recently published a post about how good everything is waking up early, living in the country and living my dream:  “I Get To

I still stand by this post.  Sometimes the day-to-day is a drag and we have to remind ourselves of how lucky and blessed we are.

But sometimes, we spend so much time “focusing on the positive” and “looking at the bright side” that we are blind to the fact that the choices we are currently making are not serving us, and therefore, not serving the world around us.

I’m not saying that we shouldn’t look for ways that we are blessed every day in every way.

What I am saying is that we need to be honest with ourselves when certain life choices aren’t working.  And when they aren’t working, we need make the changes needed to live the best life we can possibly live.

And I truly believe that each and every one of us has an inner barometer.  If we are quiet with ourselves, we absolutely know what is right for us.  The right path to take.  The right decisions to make when it comes to living your absolute purpose.  What will make you the most happy.

Because, as the Dali Lama says, “The purpose of life is to be happy.”  A deep, true sense of happy.  Not the sleeping in, eating-too-much, drinking-too-much-kind-of-happy.  The kind of happy where you feel quietly fulfilled.  The kind of happy that you feel when you lose yourself in nature.  When I take a deep breath on a cool crisp day in Autumn, everything falls away, and I am just happy.

And in quietness, we know what we need, and what we need to let go.

So if our whole being is expending energy to convince ourselves that we are happy, and seeking the light in our continual heartbreak, perhaps it is time for a change.  Instead of using coping mechanism after coping mechanism, what if we left the cause of the pain?  That way, we can focus our energies and our love for a greater good, our greater calling; instead of focusing it on our grief.

Although, there are times when we do just have to endure, and reach down deep and use coping mechanism after coping mechanism.

But what if..

Your kid or spouse is sick?

Endure. But you knew that.  In your quiet moments, you know you are meant to support and love and be there.

I’m not saying stop doing challenging things.  I’m saying move away from doing things that suck the life and love out of you. Move towards things that bring you light and joy.

Personal Example:

Running is a challenge.  I’m slow.  I’ve had stress fractures and have never placed in any race I’ve ever been in.  Getting out the door is a struggle, but it’s also a wonderful experience.  I feel more alive and more like me when I’m doing it and after I’ve done it.  More running make me happier.  It is a challenge,  but I’m not spending energy convincing myself I love it.  Once I have to use my energy to convince myself that running is wonderful, when I feel it just is not for me, I give myself permission to move on.

I am not defined by the activities that I participate in.  If I decide to quit running I am still me.  But right now, it is one of the things that gives me joy.

Walking away from what sucks us dry is a beautiful, powerful and smart thing to do.  It is not a sign of weakness, but a sign of courage.

Another way to look at this:

I have two bachelors degrees: One in applied Mathematics, and one in Economics.

In Economics, there is a theory is called “Sunk Costs“.  This theory applies to decision making in all cases.  However, most of the time, it is cited in business decisions.  The idea is that when making a decision,  look at the pros and cons currently in front of you, do not consider what has already been invested into a project.  A sunk cost is a cost that has already been invested and cannot be recovered.

For example: You buy a car that turns out to be a lemon.  You have made $1,000 of repairs and a week later, you find out you need to make another $500 worth of repairs.  When making the decision of whether or not to spend another $500 for repairs, the initial $1,000 should not be considered.  That $1,000 is a sunk cost and cannot be recovered, no matter what decisions are made. So if it is a good decision to invest $500 in car, it is good regardless of the $1,000 spent a week earlier.

A more personal example: I have spent time and money (and a lot of ego), wrapped up in homesteading.  I defined myself to be a homesteader.  It is what I strove to be.   I read and yearned.  I bought canning supplies and books.  But one day, I found that homesteading felt like a burden.  So, after much thought (quiet time, and more listening to myself actually), I decided to let myself drift away from it.  The fact that I spent huge amounts of time and effort in the pursuit of homesteading did not influence the fact that it was no longer fulfilling me as it once did.  The time and efforts I put into homesteading were sunk costs.

It is important to listen to our heart in our decision making process.  Our heart knows best when you are open to listen to its truth.

The reality is that the truth that you are seeking is already in you.

 

Moving On

The Power of Moving On

As you saw from My Not So Simple Confession, I’ve decided to change gears in my life a little bit, for  now.

I’ve allowed for myself to switch directions a bit.  And I’ve given myself the freedom to go back.

This isn’t the first time I’ve done this, and it certainly wasn’t the hardest time I’ve done this.

Switching directions, without getting mad at myself is incredibly freeing.

It also helps me to see myself for myself.  I’m not a gardener, or a writer, or a runner.  I am a person who does those things.  When I stop doing one of those things, I’m still me.

The me-ness of me hasn’t changed.

The most difficult change I ever made in my life was quitting grad school.

I had dreamed of getting my PhD and teaching on the college level.  I dreamed of being called “Doctor Reeder”.  These were all labels that I held dearly to my identity.

But when I got to graduate school in Iowa, I was miserable and I was lonely.  I had no friends, and the study of economics was getting boring to me. And getting your PhD is an insanely intense pursuit.

If I quit, it seemed I had failed. I had nothing to go back to. But I was miserable in Iowa.

I traveled back to Pennsylvania from Iowa for my Christmas break and had a lovely time.  While on break, I agonized about what to do, with no clear answer.

I went to a party at my friend’s parents’ house.  While there, I talk to my friend’s mom, and told her I was thinking about quitting grad school and coming home.

I was expecting disappointment, judgement, or overall let down.  But do you know what I got?

I got a huge hug.  She said to me, “Oh, Julia, we would love to have you home!”.

That’s what I needed to hear.  No one cared about my degree.  No one that mattered anyway.  I would still be me, even if I gave up one of the biggest defining parts of my life.

Her love gave me the courage to move forward and do what I needed to do in order to be happy.

I was able to move on.

This lesson has allowed me to move through other parts of my life more seamlessly.

Continuing to do something or be in a relationship just because it defines you can be comfortable, but it’s also soul crushing and heavy.  Moving on from that soul crushing project or job or relationship can be difficult and terrifying, but so freeing.

And the more freedom you give yourself to move on, the more freedom you allow yourself to become the best version of yourself.  And that seems to make other transitions easier.