1,000 what?

Random Olio is just a few weeks shy of its 4th birthday, and yet today is my 1,000th post. Shocking. I can hardly believe that I have found 1,000 different things to talk about in those 4 years. How is that possible? Of course I often have rants and ramblings about women’s issues, creativity, family, life, and of course books and food.

There are days when I get ideas for weeks full of blogs and others where I think: “I do not want to even try to think about formulating a sentence.” Other times I wonder who would ever care to read a specific post on a topic I might find odd, or a bit off the wall, and then I receive a heartfelt comment that makes me so glad I listened to my gut and put my fingers to the keyboard.

Chris has been incredibly patient through all 1000 blog posts. There are times when the last thing he wants to talk about is my blog. Or, I wrangle him in to make a “Random Recipe” (hey, he gets to enjoy the bi-product in his tummy). It has taken countless hours of our life to design and redesign the site, let alone writing all the content. Earlier this year, Chris asked me if he could be surprised with the post each morning like everyone else. However, with pregnancy brain I need him to point out my careless typos and tell me when something does not make sense.

I am not sure how Random Olio will unfold in the coming weeks and months and if motherhood will inspire me to write more or less. Regardless of the next stage of Random Olio — I appreciate each and every person that has read, contributed, shared, and been apart of the randomness.

“Our energy follows our attention”

Being 37.5 weeks pregnant means I am not as mobile as I used to be — which means I am reading a bit more on the weekends. Since I have not gone for a run in 3 months (so hard for me) – it meant my reading had slowed down. We have filled our days and nights with planning and prepping for this baby boy to join us, but these last few weekends I have been reading more.

A recent book I finished, was “The Book of Doing and Being: Rediscovering Creativity in Life, Love, and Work” by Barnet Bain. It was filled with lots of exercises, which often bore me and I skip because I am not interested. In any case, I thought this demonstration Bain shares was fascinating. I tried it and had Chris try it with the same result:

“First, we need to understand the power of conditioning. The following demonstration will make the point.

Right now, wherever you are sitting, lift your right foot a few inches off the ground and then start moving it in a clockwise circle. At the same time as you’re doing that, raise your right hand and draw a number six in the air.

What happened? Your right foot switched directions, didn’t it? Try it again. The reversal will happen every time!” page 4

Frustrated? Did it happen for you or were you able to get past it? It got me interested enough to keep reading (even though I skipped a lot of exercises). The real nugget I wanted to share was:

“Our energy follows our attention, always.” Page 69

It is true is it not? What we focus on we absorb. What we absorb, we ingest. What we ingest impacts our energy, our mood, our body language, and often what comes out of our mouth. Chris and I often talk about the energy we allow into our home. I think about it at work and with friends. We have a choice on what we focus on, what we attend to, and if we redirect — we might actually have a happier and more “energetic” life.

What do you think?

Motherless

Sometimes you read a book or an idea in a book and you feel that the author has taken the words out of your head, put them on paper, and made sense of the gibberish of your thoughts. Recently I blogged about the book: “Brave Enough” by Cheryl Strayed. While it is a book of quotes, there are a few sections where she goes deep into her past. It is as though she took the words out of my mouth (much more eloquent than I would have shared).

“It was wrong. It was so relentlessly awful that my mother had been taken from me. I couldn’t even hate her properly. I didn’t get to grow up and pull away from her and bitch about her with my friends and confront her about the things I wished she’d done differently and then get older and understand that she did the best she could and realize that what she did was pretty damn good and take her fully back into my arms again. Her death had obliterated that. It had obliterated me. It had cut me short at the very height of my youthful arrogance. It had forced me to instantly grow up and forgive her every motherly fault at the same time that it kept me forever a child, my life both ended and begun in that premature place where we’d left off. She was my mother, but I was motherless. I was trapped by her but utterly alone. She would always be the empty bowl that no one could fill. I’d have to fill it myself again and again and again.” Page 68

I do not know whether I ever took the time to forgive my mom for her every motherly fault, I think I just moved on and did not wallow in that — there was enough pain to go around. It did force me to grow up fast (even before she died) and has meant that I am forever trying to bring back the childlike time. My relentlessness, extreme dedication, and persistence has meant that I sometimes have a hard time taking a step back to “play.”

It means I will hold you further away from my core until I can determine if you are going to go deep or stay on the surface. If you stay on the surface, I am not going to waste my time. If we meet in the middle and find that common ground — well the rest it history in the making. My mother leaving me at such an early age means that I will only fill that empty bowl with fruit worth my time, and make sure I constantly remove the rotten versions. I do not want to have to fill it again and again. Instead, I would rather fill it with the best of the best and not waste my time with anything else.

Sometimes what you think is the worst is actually the best thing.

I remember getting laid off from a job some years ago. It was just before Christmas and I was not a happy camper. At the time I remember being hurt, frustrated, and a bit shocked. I remember Chris was traveling for work in Turkey at the time and communicating with the time difference was complicated. The fact of the matter is that I wanted out, yet I had not walked away on my own. When things do not go the way that we plan, we fight back, get down on ourselves, and often wonder “why me?”

Yet, with hindsight we can often see the world with different eyes. Hindsight might take a few years, a few months, and sometimes with the smaller things just a few days. What matters is that we are able to reflect and see that where we end up is often so much better than where we were and that we learn, grow, and change as a result of these events in life. For me it was a job. For some it might be a marriage or friendship. For others maybe it is a health challenge.

I often think how we act and react in the world determines what our experience will be. I will give you an example. When I got laid off and had a few months of severance I could have relaxed and just kicked back. Instead I started this blog, I looked for jobs, and after three months landed a great one. Looking back though, yes I was successful in my endeavor, but the caveat was I did not take that time as downtime to explore and cherish that quiet time as much as I should have at the time. I was worried I would not find a job, that our income would be lacking, you know the list of things we tell ourselves.

I recently wrote about the book: “The Gratitude Diaries” by Janice Kaplan. She writes about a job she herself lost and what her friend shared with her after the fact:

“’Your leaving was the best thing that could have happened, don’t you think?’ Walter asked. I looked at him in surprise, so he continued. ‘It didn’t make you happy at the time, but you would have been miserable staying there while he went off in all the wrong directions.’ Sometimes the simplest comment gives a new perspective.” Page 252

Kaplan is so right. Sometimes the smallest and largest things blow our life apart, and we are never the same, but often we are better for it. We just have to remember that sometimes life gets blown apart so it can be made even better.

I paddle my own canoe

For as long as I can remember I have been someone who has done my own thing. I am not exactly a rebel, but I like to chart my own course, find my own answers, and do not love to just follow someone else’s lead. That does not mean I cannot follow directions or stay the course as needed, I am just less interested in following others. I am not usually one to read a book that everyone is reading. Instead, if the right person shares a nugget that resonates with me — that is when I decide to read the book. Not because everyone else is doing it. I like jewelry that is a piece of art and potentially very few individuals have that piece.

Having been a fan of “Wild” by Cheryl Strayed I was eager to read her next book: “Brave Enough.” Until I learned that it was basically a book of quotes. I am not usually one to sit down and read a book of quotes, and then I thought, it is a small book, it will be a quick read — and it was. She also shared some great ideas. One particularly resonated with me, it is not hers but a proverb of sorts that she shared, and it was the first time I had heard of it. It made me realize that I have always been one to “paddle my own canoe.”

“Love many, trust few, and always paddle your own canoe.” page vii

Later on the same page she says:

“Maybe you have to know the darkness before you can appreciate the light.” Page vii

Right on sister. I know I think about that often. Yesterday Chris and I were chilling on the couch while the turkey was cooking away in the oven, and I came across an email between my sister and me from 2010 about my mom, and whether I was mothered. As I read it to Chris I was getting choked up. My sister and I were remembering the good, bad, and ugly from our childhood on the anniversary of my mom’s passing. The beginning of the email my sister says: “Thinking about you tonight – and about mom and how she has been gone for half your life.” That was five years ago, and my mom has now been gone for 21 years, and yet all that I have been through over the years only serves to allow me to see the light.

I have definitely seen darkness, but I have also seen years of light and love. Thank you, Cheryl Strayed, for the reminder that I paddle my own canoe, and that I live in the light.