Week of Words - Friday

I came across this poem in Traveling Mercies by Anne Lamott. It's provided me with a good grounding after a week of sad news, and during a current week of high temperatures that keep making me grumpy.

By W.S. Merwin

with the night falling we are saying thank you
we are stopping on the bridge to bow from the railings
we are running out of the glass rooms
with our mouths full of food to look at the sky
and say thank you
we are standing by the water looking out
in different directions

back from a series of hospitals back from a mugging
after funerals we say thank you
after the news of the dead
whether or not we knew them we are saying thank you
in a culture up to its chin in shame
living in the stench it has chosen we are saying thank you

over telephones we are saying thank you
in doorways and in the backs of cars and in elevators
remembering wars and the police at the back door
and the beatings on the stairs we are saying thank you
in the banks that use us we are saying thank you
with the crooks in office with the rich and fashionable
unchanged we go on saying thank you thank you

with the animals dying around us
our lost feelings we are saying thank you
with the forests falling faster than the minutes
of our lives we are saying thank you
with the words going out like cells of a brain
with the cities growing over us like the earth
we are saying thank you faster and faster
with nobody listening we are saying thank you
we are saying thank you and waving
dark though it is


Week of Words - Thursday

Well, I'm not doing a very good job on my Week of Words - I forgot to put somethin up yesterday! Oh well, here's one for Thursday.

My Name Is Not "Those People"

By Julia Dinsmore

My name is not "Those People."
I am a loving woman, a mother in pain, giving birth to the future, where my babies have the same chance to thrive as anyone.

My name is not "Inadequate."
I did not make my husband leave - he chose to,
and chooses not to pay child support.
Truth is thought, there isn't a job base for all
fathers to support their families.
While society turns its head, my children pay the price.

My name is not "Problem and Case to Be Managed."
I am a capable human being and citizen, not a client.
The social service system can never replace the compassion
and concern of loving Grandparents, Aunts, Uncles, Fathers,
Cousins, Community - all the bonded people who need to be
but are not present to bring children forward to their potential.

My name is not "Lazy, Dependent Welfare Mother."
If the unwaged work of parenting, homemaking and community building was factored into the Gross National Product, my work would have untold value. And I wonder why my middle-class sisters whose husbands support them to raise their children are glorified - and they don't get called lazy and dependent.

My name is not "Ignorant, Dumb or Uneducated."
I live with an income of $621 with $169 in food stamps.
Rent is $585. that leaves $36 a month to live on. I am such a genius at surviving that I could balance the state budget in an hour.

Never mind that there is a lack of living-wage jobs.
Never mind that it is impossible to be the sole emotional, social and economic support to a family.
Never mind that parents are losing their children to the gangs, drugs, stealing, prostitution, social workers, kidnapping, the streets, the predator.
Forget about putting money into schools - just build more prisons.

My name is not "Lay Down and Die Quietly."
My love is powerful and my urge to keep my children alive will never stop. All children need homes and people who love them. They need safety and the chance to be the people they were born to be.

The wind will stop before I let my children become a statistic.
Before you give in to the urge to blame me,
the blames that lets us go blind and unknowing into
the isolation that disconnects us, take another look.
Don't go away.
For I am not the problem, but the solution.
And...My name is not "Those People."


Hottest Day Ever

Photo by Barry Fitzsimmons, published in Seattle Times

Literally. We just reached 102 degrees and it's still climbing. It's the hottest day EVER in Seattle. Time to go to a movie! I'm thinking The Hangover would fit the bill today.

Just to prove it, here's Cliff Mass's blog.

UPDATE: I seriously wilted on my hot bus ride home yesterday. Turns out only 30% of Seattle buses have air conditioning. But don't worry, they have great tips for staying cool in a sweltering bus.


Week of Words - Tuesday

I've run across some amazing poems and words of wisdom lately, so I thought I'd post one of them each day. The first come from Mother Theresa. (And, yes, I know I'm starting my Week of Words on a Tuesday. Oh well!)

Do It Anyway

Mother Teresa

People are often unreasonable,
illogical and self-centered;
Forgive them anyway.

If you are kind,
people may accuse you of selfish ulterior motives;
Be kind anyway.

If you are successful,
you will win some false friends and true enemies;
Succeed anyway.

If you are honest and frank,
people may cheat you;
Be honest anyway.

What you spend years building,
someone could destroy overnight;
Build anyway.

If you find serenity and happiness,
they may be jealous;
Be happy anyway.

The good you do today,
people will often forget tomorrow;
Do good anyway.

Give the world the best you have,
and it may never be enough;
Give the world the best you've got anyway.

You see, in the final analysis,
it is between you and God;
It was never between you and them anyway.



Just as I'm blogging about new beginnings and fresh starts, a good friend of mine lost her mother to cancer this week.

She's on the flip side of facing a new stage in life, without her mother. My heart is breaking for her right now. It's not fair. And it's not right. But, there's no changing it. That's life sometimes.

And it sucks.

(And it's not the only sad news I received today. But, that's not to share here.)

No one tells you that life gets more complicated, more sad, as you grow up. Sometimes you still have those moments, when you're completely happy. And you have to hold onto the memories of those for all your worth, to get you through so many other times when sadness and confusion are woven into and through your life.

My dad died of cancer when I was 16. Seeing and hearing about others experiencing loss always brings back a deep pang of sadness and pain. As someone who has lossed and grieved, I know that people come out the other end eventually. They will feel happy again, and they will find peace. But when you're just beginning the process, all of that seems impossible. That feeling of hopelessness is an important part of the process, but it also makes it so hard to see out the other end of the tunnel of grief.

I'm thinking of those hurting right now, sending out all the love I can. Wishing I could hug them and give them flowers. You are strong and amazing and wonderful.

Curly Hair Revelation

OK, all you curly-heads out there. I have some potentially life-changing information for you.

Everyone has a certain trademark to the way they look - facial hair, lipstick choice, eye color, hair color, etc. Something they feel sets them apart and looks attractive. Well, I've always thought that my trademark has been my curly hair.

Over the last few years, I've been having a lot of issues with styling it and trying to make it look as bouncy and shiny as I want it to. I blamed it on the weather, the water, my hair dryer, my haircut, my styling products, etc. And, I kept trying all sorts of things and products to improve the situation. One frustration is that the only products that seemed to work for me were Aveda, which is REALLY EXPENSIVE.

Then, a couple weeks ago, I stumbled upon a blog about curly hair that described the Curly Girl method for hair. You can visit the blog here, and even though it's long I encourage you to take the time to read it. It's made a huge difference for me.

Basically, it addresses a couple issues unique to curly hair. First, shampoo is very harsh and drying for curly hair. (Up until now, I was only shampooing my hair about once a week.) But, you need shampoo to remove the silicones in most styling products.

Solution: Use a mild conditioner instead of shampoo. Conditioners still contain ingredients that will clean your hair but aren't as harsh. And, avoid silicones! They coat your hair and weigh it down. (The link provides more details on how to find styling products that follow these guidelines.)

This solves so many problems for me! I don't need to worry about only washing my hair once a week. And, now I understand why Aveda products worked for me - they don't have silicones!

Now that I know the secret formula, I can hunt for cheaper products that don't contain silicones.

Here's what I use now:
  • To clean my hair: Suave Naturals Coconut Conditioner
  • To condition my hair: L'oreal Vive Pro Nutri Gloss
  • To style my hair: Herbal Essence Totally Twisted Mousse and Gel (Bonus: They smell like lavendar!)
  • To keep my hair in place: Aveda Hairspray (I still haven't found anything cheaper that I like as well as this)

So, now I'm saving money and my hair looks better (and still smells good). WooHoo!

Again, I encourage you to read the full article at The College Curly. Plus, she talks about a styling method called "plopping," which I definitely need to learn more about.


Summer Fun

Wow, I have been busy! With trips to Palm Springs, Santa Barbara and dear, old Twin Lakes, there's too much fun to report back. Plus it would just bore you. So, here are some highlights.

Palm Springs

hot. HOT. HOT.
Had a lovely time with the PLU ladies, sleeping, reading, eating, chatting and moving as little as possible.

Santa Barbara

You know how everyone says Santa Barbara is beautiful? Well, it is! Plus, it's very relaxing and they have a phenomenal farmers market on Saturdays.

Twin Lakes

My family's favorite little spot hidden away in the trees of the Colville National Forest. Pete got his first real immersion in Eastern Washington culture. Most of it was fun, except when drunk people started to go crazy with large fireworks. Ugh. How about let's not start a forest fire and cause permanent hearing damage in small children?

You can see more pictures at my Flickr account or on my Facebook page.


My First Homegrown Tomato of 2009 & A Poem

I just walked up to check on my plants. All four of my tomato plants have little green fruits that will soon be tomatoes. And, three of my four pepper plants have little peppers beginning. The Ancho Chile plant is going crazy!! I have about seven peppers that are just about ready to eat.

Most exciting, I harvested my first ripe tomato of the summer!

I was feeling light and inspired by my plants and the beautiful, peaceful afternoon. So, I wrote a little poem in my head on the way home. Which is weird, because I never do that. And now I'm sharing it with all of you.


Summer’s first
Ripe tomato
Off the vine.

I was going to share it
With you
At dinner.

But I ate it
Right there
In the afternoon sun
All by myself.

I think it's easy to see that I was inspired by this poem by William Carlos Williams, which I always find amusing every time I hear it.

This is Just to Say

I have eaten
the plums
that were in
the icebox

and which
you were probably
for breakfast

Forgive me
they were delicious
so sweet
and so cold

Hmmm, maybe I need to go get some plums?


The Times They Are Changin'

Not much has changed for me over the last few years. In fact, most of the time people asked me, "What's new?", I wouldn't really have anything to report. Maybe I was training for a triathlon or planning a weekend getaway or starting a blog :), but nothing of major impact.

Isn't it funny how change can sweep in suddenly from so many directions? It's scary and exciting and confusing when you're right in the middle of dealing with it - trying to figure out what to do, which way to go. Kind of like a big thunderstorm.

In the last six months, I've found my way through a couple major life changes. I've restarted a relationship, which has been so great and such a source of stability and support. And, I've recently the completed the process of applying for and accepting a new job, which I think will provide a great environment and new challenges. (I start on Monday!) Going through these changes brought on stress and anxiety in ways I couldn't have predicted, and made me dig deep into my own fears and dreams and intuition. In the end, I made decisions based on the direction my heart was pulling me in, but that doesn't mean making the decision was easy!

But you know that smell and that feeling when you wake up after a storm, in the morning? Fresh and new.

A lot of things feel fresh and new and exciting at this moment. I've come through the process of making hard decisions, and I'm ready to fully embrace this new direction for my life.

Here's what I've learned while going through this process:
  • Change is scary, even terrifying, but you can't be afraid of it. Don't let fear hold you back.
  • When faced with two options, neither one will be perfect. You just have to make the best decision you can based on your knowledge, experience, goals and values. (I've given up the notion that there is one "right" decision in every circumstance. Trying to be sure you're making the "right" decision can drive you insane.)
  • Pursue the life and values that you want to embody, not money and status.
  • Take calculated - or even crazy - risks. Don't just play it safe all the time.
  • A good friend told me that when you don't know how to start the process of making a change, just take one step in that direction. Do something small that moves you a little closer, and see what unfolds.
  • Listen to the advice of people you trust, who have your best interests at heart. But, in the end, you have to make the decision on your own and you have to live with the outcome. Don't let someone make the decision for you.
So, the times for me are changing. Wish me luck!