My dad, a bamboo pole, and some fishing

Yesterday was Father’s Day, and it was not until a friend ask to switch our brunch plans to later in the day that I remembered what day it was. Often Mother’s Day and Father’s Day tend to fly by without much thought. My dad has been gone for 15 years as of this year, and it gets harder and harder to think about what my life would be life if he were here.

Recently we were talking about fishing at work. A few co-workers are fishing fans, and I was remembering a time when we stayed at a lake near our house in Indiana. I believe the cottage was owned by a friend of my grandma’s and every once in a while we got to go and stay with her, which meant playing in the lake and fishing. Something tells me what felt like a big lake at the time would probably look a lot like a pond to me now, but it always felt special and kind of a big deal to me.

I remember one weekend we visited, on the Saturday morning for some reason I slept really late, when I went outside to see what everyone was up to, I found my sister and brother were out fishing with my dad (this photo shows me standing on the pier, my brother is next to me, then my sister, then my dad). For as long as they had been out fishing, no one had caught a single fish. I asked my dad if I could use the bamboo fishing rod, that for some reason I thought was so special. My sister and brother were using real fishing rods. I did not like putting the bait on the end, so I left that up to my dad, and I doubt I even put the line in, but what I did do (which is completely against my nature) was sit and hold that bamboo rod, and eventually I caught a fish, and then another and another. My brother and sister eventually got bored, and most likely annoyed that I was having such luck. They went inside or off somewhere else to play. 

It was just me and my dad and my happy success. I do not remember if we kept the fish and had them for dinner or if we put them back. What I remember was that I thought there was something special with that bamboo fishing rod, and that I got to spend some time fishing with my dad.

You can see all the fish I caught in this photo. I wish the photographer had not cut me out of the photo. I would love to see the look on my face showing my bounty. I know I have been fishing a few more times since then, probably while camping, maybe even with my dad, but that Saturday morning was the one I will never forget. He was happy, relaxed, and content to just sit on the side of the dock with his feet in the water, and watch us have fun with the process. Life was not usually that good to him (or so he thought) and so this year, Dad, I hope whatever you are doing, you are happy, relaxed and content. Wish we could go fishing again.

A clever, lazy dad

I am from the Midwest. I have not been back home for over 11 years, but there are parts of Indiana you can not take out of me. There are pieces of my childhood (sometimes redneck and all) that are the fibers of who I am. When my language goes a little to that of an expletive nature, Chris has a saying for me: “How are you doing DC?” Those were my father’s initials. It is though he is channeling me. He was a trash talker and most likely is where I learned the swear words that come out of my mouth. Of course if I ever mimicked him as a child I got in so much trouble.

There are often articles and images and videos that are shared on the Internet that remind me so much of my childhood. We were poor. Indiana is, well, Indiana. It is the Midwest and things are just different. Creativity might look a bit different from say it would in San Francisco or New York City. You might not have the space to roam and ponder how to sit on your butt in a chair and not have to chase after every ball as you teach your kid to play baseball. Maybe you do not have batting cages in your town, or if you do have them, maybe spending the money is not in your monthly budget.

Whatever the case, a clever idea is a clever idea.

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Pen to paper

I have always put pen to paper. For as long as I can remember I have loved words, stories, and the connection and meaning they have on our lives. In elementary school, writing stories came naturally to me. Maybe it was because the crazy amount of books I read. The books inspired me to write and create my own version of reality. Writing for me came in a variety of forms. I often wrote in a journal and recapped my world, my questions, my painful moments, and sometimes the happy times. Although often I found I was lead to write when things were not good, as it was a way to process and formulate my thoughts and feelings.

For a few years in elementary school, I was the class representative to go to a Young Author’s Conference in my town, where you would bring your handmade book and had to read it in front of a group. If I remember correctly there were even finalists from the conference that went to a state version. In fourth and fifth grade, there was the “Little Hoosiers” writing contest, where we were to write about someone in our life that had grown up in Indiana. One year I wrote about my Great Aunt E’Beth, someone I had interacted with only a few times. She was related to us on my grandmother’s side of the family and had an interesting life. I researched her and her husband’s impact on my hometown in the early 1920’s. It was interesting to learn how integral and active they were in the community, and I found out later that I had won second place in Indiana for my essay on Aunt E’Beth.

Short stories, research/historical writing, and journal writing… there were so many ways that words inspired me. Then something happened. Life got crazy taking care of my mom, college, and then taking care of my grandma. Other things consumed me. I stopped writing and processing a world that sometimes did not always make much sense. Eventually I began to write in a journal almost daily. I made notes of quotes that inspired me. I made sure to spend time every day writing. But nothing like I did as a child. I wrote for me, but never really went back and explored the short fiction writing that I did as a kid. I think about it often and even dream about what it would be like to have a book pour out of my fingertips.

If you write, are a writer, or have that urge to let the words flow, I encourage you to write just a little bit everyday. There is something inside me that wants to go back to being that little girl and write all the crazy ideas that came into my head. I know one day my mind will quiet enough to let the words inside come out. For now, and over the last 3 years my writing has morphed into this blog, and I hope the ideas that have escaped my mind have inspired and uplifted those of you that read random olio.

Sweeping

Growing up in the Midwest, we called the thing you use to clean your rugs a sweeper. Yes regardless of whether you were cleaning a hardwood floor or a rug or carpet we would say: are you going to sweep? Now I say the collective “we” but I really mean my family growing up. Jump forward to my life with Chris and I would ask if he was going to “sweep” and he would just chuckle and ask what I meant. To him sweeping was when you were going to use a broom and truly “sweep.” Using a vacuum on carpet was “vacuuming.” I think I am 75% converted, but I still have slips where I ask if he is going to “sweep the rug.” Any other Midwesterners out there that said the same thing, or is this just something that was strange about my family?

In any case, this idea of sweeping was one I came across recently, and it made me ponder the idea of “sweeping.” The idea of sweeping and clearing away the gunk for new energy, is a welcome concept for me. One I had not thought about much before reading this Daily Om, titled: “Releasing and Welcoming.” This line particularly inspired me:

“Sweeping each morning prepares the ground for the new day at the same time as it deepens our awareness of the importance of letting go of the past to welcome the present.”

While I do not sweep each morning I am a clean freak, and this idea can translate to many other cleansing rituals I do around the house. For example, if I am inspired to be creative, I first want to clean and clear the gunk, extra stuff, and organize my life first. Once I have done so, I find that my creative time whether in front of the easel, or with pen and paper is that much richer. I have unearthed and removed the dirty thoughts, frustrations, and extra junk in order to find the space to welcome new creative ideas.

I do just the same thing at work. At times I might feel stuck about an idea or a new project. My teammates might find me start to clean my desk area, or the larger team space. I begin to organize. Sometimes I hear the mutter of: “here she goes again.” Often in the act of cleaning and organizing, I find the answer I needed for that project, and I go back and dig into it with gusto. It is amazing what a “vacuum” or “broom” can do to sweep away the crap. Yes, the 25% of me that still says “sweep the rug” will always be. You can take the girl out of Indiana, but you cannot take Indiana out of the girl.

Happy Sweeping…

If you say you are going to do something, DO IT.

Sometimes I have so little patience. I wish it was a quality that I had stored up in tons. I remember growing up in Indiana where you would so often see those big grain towers, where you knew there was potentially a store of grain in them, or maybe it was the tall water towers. I would like patience in that volume. Is that even possible?

Yesterday a lot of issues came up at work, where it seemed like things were 99% okay, but that extra 1% was the very piece needed to make sure something could happen. Without that 1% I could not pull the trigger to execute or finish an entire project. That 1% mattered so much in the project and I had to rely on someone else to make it happen, and somehow for each aspect there was something missing. I came home and thought: “ugh what a day.” Honestly it all does not matter in the grand scheme of things, yet. Yes, there is a yet. I think what matters more is that 1% equates to dependability and trust. When you are given situations where someone does not come through for you, you start to wonder if they will the next time and the next, and the one after that.

It is something that Chris and I talk about often. One of my biggest pet peeves is: if you say you are going to do something, DO IT. Bring it, give it your all, and be present and there for what you said you would do. Whenever Chris and I get into it with each other (and that is so rarely) it is usually because of that very fact. We agreed to something and then we did not honor that agreement. Take a stand, agree to what you are going to bring to the table, and then bring it with all you have got.

I need to practice patience and give folks a chance to come to the table. If you come to the table and show that you have put some thought around it, cared, then I am going to be with you and walk together to a solution. If you have not tried, or you show you do not care, then my patience is thin, and short.

Come to the table, bring it, and show you care.