Fall is almost here. I can feel the air changing temperature and moisture, and here in the mountains, the water level in the lake is lower, the flowers are bowing more than blooming, and the fox tail plants are beginning to sprout.
This is my favorite time of the year, for letting go, for shedding old skins, for remembering what really matters. And it is also the Jewish New Year.
This Wednesday evening marks the beginning of Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year. While it is a time of celebration, it is also a time for reflection and repentance. One of my favorite concepts about the Jewish New Year is the idea of starting with a clean slate. All past mistakes, hurts and transgressions are forgiven.
But, unlike other religions, it isn’t God that you ask forgiveness from. God forgives everything.
Instead, we seek out those who we have judged, or offended or hurt and we ask THEM to forgive us.
We begin anew because we have owned our actions and genuinely said I’m sorry to the person who we hurt.
Another ritual of the holiday is Tashlich, meaning cast off. We go to a body of water and, using bread crumbs, we symbolically cast our sins into the moving water. Again, we are claiming accountability for our actions, forgiving ourselves, and letting go.
And in doing so, we can move into the new year without the burdens and regrets and mis-steps of the past.
It’s a tradition to gather with family and friends and share a delicious holiday meal on Rosh Hashana. My family always enjoyed a many course meal: gefilte fish with salad, chicken soup with kneidels, my mother’s sweet, tender brisket with crisp, roasted potatoes, string beans with almonds, a sweet carrot mash called tzimmis, and honey cake, my father’s favorite, for dessert.
It’s also a tradition to eat apples and honey for the New Year. These sweet foods symbolize the sweetness we wish for ourselves and our loved ones in the coming year.
These are wonderful, powerful rituals.
Saying I’m sorry.
Making peace with the past.
Letting things go.
And opening up to the joy, the sweetness of what is and what else is possible.
Perhaps you’d like to incorporate some of these rituals into your life this week.
Maybe you will call a friend, or send a note and say you’re sorry.
Maybe you will take some bread crumbs to your neighborhood park and forgive yourself with each toss.
Maybe you will gather with loved ones and indulge in all the foods that taste like love.
Maybe you will dip a slice of apple in honey and open to the sweetness of your life.
We are in our last four weeks of camp hosting at Fool Hollow Lake State park in the cool Arizona mountains. The wonderful monsoon storm season has passed, though we do still get a surprise afternoon rain shower every few days. The campground was full of happy campers for the Labor Day weekend, and now things are slowing down and we are blessed to still be in this beautiful, serene place.
And I am beginning to make plans for what’s next. We’ll be heading down to the valley in October for two months of Big City things, including Marika’s cataract surgeries. We’ll camp for a few days between here and there, to slowly acclimate to the changes in terrain and temperature.
We were planning to head to the Texas Gulf Coast in December, but now we’re not sure where we’ll go after Phoenix. And we don’t need to know yet. For now, we just need to enjoy where we are, right here, right now.
We’ve been going into town in the afternoons after work, checking out some of the local artisan galleries. We attended the White Mountain Humane Society’s annual fundraiser, and happened upon last weekend’s Wildlife Festival at the Nature Center. Marika made a pine cone and peanut butter bird feeder, and I shot a BB gun for the first time in my life. Even with the wind swinging my paper target, I hit the bullseye two out of five times. The instructor was as thrilled as I was.
We’re still appreciating the physical work of our camp hosting duties, and I can definitely feel how much stronger I am, lifting the wet mop, starting and maneuvering the leaf blower. We’ve been socializing more with our co-workers, and we had fun giving out Smokey Bear activity bags to the kid campers these past weekends.
When I start to freak out about next month, and being in the Big City, and the traffic and the air quality, and the heat, I remember to breathe and re-focus on the good things of being in there, like seeing my dad, and my own dentist, connecting with friends in person, eating at our favorite ethnic restaurants, real bagels, getting a good haircut, working with my favorite Mac clients one last time. And if it’s too warm, there’s a swimming pool at the RV park where we’re staying.
And then I bring my attention back to being here, and how I can embrace this remaining time in this beautiful place. So I’ve been walking along the lake even when I’m feeling lazy, taking Cody for long strolls through the campground, and tonight, I am getting on the water in my kayak for sunset, even though there may be a bit of a breeze.
It is a delicate balance of planning for the future, and being present, right here. I think it is this constant shifting and balancing between now and then that creates the momentum to keep us moving forward. Yes, we still tip into the sadness of Mabel no longer being here, and that, too, keeps the energies moving.
So as we enjoy our last weeks here at the lake, with the big sky and the tall trees and tonight’s full moon, we will keep saying thank you and WOW, and thank you some more.
It is with the heaviest heart that I share that we had to put Mabel to sleep last Friday. We celebrated her 14th birthday on August 1, and a week later, she was suddenly moving slower, eating less, sleeping more. Her belly was distended and she was all wobbly and couldn’t easily get up and down.
We are not ones to prolong an animal’s pain and suffering, even though the loss is so painful. And so we made the decision.
One of the Park Rangers recommended the vet where his wife works in the office. She assured us that we’d be in a quiet room and would be well taken care of.
But it was not the experience we were hoping for. Mostly because we were there for more than an hour and a half, doing a lot of waiting. We waited for the special room to be ready, waited for the first tech, waited to see the doctor, more waiting for the paperwork, then the catheter, and even after she was sedated, more and more waiting.
And the room was anything but quiet and peaceful. We even heard the conversation where the new tech was being told how to put the catheter in.
And then, even after Mabel was sedated, we waited another 20 minutes for the doctor to return, even though we were told, “as soon as you’re ready, let us know and the doctor will be in.” I went to the desk and asked for the final injection, but the doctor didn’t come. Instead we got to hear his entire consultation next door, including how to boil chicken for a dog with an upset stomach.
And when it was all done, we were more angry than sad, and it’s taken a few days to move from that anger into the real grief.
The big blessing is that Mabel was calm and relaxed and ready. And this is what I need to focus on.
She was a great companion and a relaxed traveler, a tail talker, lover girl and bed hog. And what an athlete–mid-air frisbee catcher, any kind of water swimmer, football player, squeaky tosser, pigeon chaser. So many joys in her 14 years. And to think that just last month she was running to keep up with Cody in the forest.
We are all adjusting to her absence. Even Cody, who barely interacted with Mabel beyond a group growling when they got something special in the food, seems to be missing her. But he is soaking up all of the extra love, and enjoying the leftover chicken broth that Marika had made for Mabel.
Marika bought a beautiful bouquet of pink carnations in Mabel’s honor, and, just like with Saffron, Zasu, Bikini, Petita, Jammies and Laddy before her, we’re telling her stories and holding her in our hearts.
We are in our fourth week as full-on camp hosts, and have finally settled into the rhythm of our jobs. In addition to bathroom and camp site cleaning, we are available for camper questions, do golf cart rounds to check on things, and, two days a week we sell firewood and ice.
Unlike last time when we felt an urgency to get our work done, this time we’re not waiting on edge for our campers to vacate their spots so we can clean. Partly because we are now living IN the loop we’re cleaning, so we can see when folks pull out. But more, because I understand that some campers are going to wait until check out time to actually pull out. Maybe even later.
Yes, someone else might be waiting for the spot, but technically, check IN time isn’t until 2. So there is time. Some of the other hosts are a bit more edgy about it. Because they want to be done with their work so they can do their own thing.
And yep, that used to be me, too. But then I remembered that, when we’d go camping, I used to want to linger at the camp site, not wanting to rush home. And so I’m fine with the folks that pull out three minutes before noon, or twenty minutes after.
And so the hosting is much more relaxed, even on the days we sell firewood and ice. After we clean the bathrooms and campsites, we’re available from 9-1 and 3-7 to sell firewood and bags of ice. The vending area is up a slight slope at the entrance to the loops, right next to Jeannie, the Mallard Host who is the main sales person. But on her days off, signs direct campers to our site for sales.
On the first day, I was on alert the entire shift, watching out the window, craning my neck to see the vending area. Every time a vehicle pulled up I scrambled to grab the money boxes (for making change) and get up there before they bothered Jeannie. The first few times, Jeannie was calling me on the radio as I was climbing the six tiered steps from our site to the top of the hill. One time I brought the change box but forgot my keys and Jeannie handed me hers. We felt terrible that people were bothering her on her day off, and that she was having to call us to tell us we had a sale. But then we realized that she keeps her radio on all of the time, so she must not mind.
On the second day, I sat outside, facing the vending area and tried to relax a bit. Jeannie didn’t have to call as often, and she said she even got to take a nap.
Now, on wood and ice days we sit outside with the dogs, reading, relaxing, keeping an eye on the vending area, in case someone drives up. And in between, we do our midday bathroom check and drive around, making sure our campers are settling in (and abiding by all of the rules).
And in the evenings we do our 7 pm drive around, stopping to watch the sun set over the lake. One evening we watched the two local elk mosey through the campground. First they were eating the grass along the side of the road, then they stopped at our neighbor’s bird bath for a drink. The larger of the two males nosed the empty hummingbird feeder, then checked the empty seed feeders, then they both ambled down to the lake.
It sounds like a pretty easy life. And it is. Still, by the time our days off roll around, we are tired and a little sore, and ready for the two-day break.
Two weeks ago I finally got my boat in the water. Marika and I folded the kayak into the back of the golf cart and drove down to the boat ramp. We inflated it then carried it to the water. Marika helped me push off and then I was gone without even a wave good bye. And it was glorious.
The boat listed to the right, but I guessed it was the slight current in the water. Then I wondered if I had the seats facing the wrong way. But then I heard the lapping of the water against the surf valve, and began to relax into trusting it was correct. I found my paddling rhythm quickly and there was no one on the water in view.
And the sky was big and blue with puffs of white clouds, and the water was cool and still, and the rock formations along the walls of the western banks were stunning. There were people fishing along the banks and I could hear their conversations as if I were right there next to them.
I paddled past the camp loops, beyond the tents sites, toward the narrowing of the lake where it meets Show Low Creek, until it was just me, in my boat, in the middle of the water with an Osprey overhead. I leaned my neck against the inflated seat back, so comfortable and supported that I could feel my heart opening. And then I ommmmed long and steady, for several sweet minutes, knowing how the sound carries across the water.
Since then, the monsoons have arrived, with gorgeous afternoon lightning and thunderstorms, which means no boats on the water. Instead, we sit under the awning as the rain pours down, until we have to go inside because we are getting too wet.
This week we have a break in the rains, and it is sunny and warm again, so I’m hoping Marika will join me for a paddle one late afternoon.
And this Friday we’re going with some fellow camp hosts to the extravagant Seafood Buffet at the nearby Casino. And in between all of our camp hosting, I’m still helping folks with the Mac and iPhones.
Yep, it’s a good life, indeed!
We are back at Fool Hollow Lake State Park, settled into our new spot, and today was our first day back to work. When we were hosts here in April and May, we were the Rover Hosts, only responsible for cleaning bathrooms and camp sites and helping out the other hosts on their days off. This time we are full-fledged camp hosts in the biggest loop in the campground.
Our duties include cleaning 8 bathrooms, taking care of the 30 sites in our loop, and answering camper questions. AND on Wed and Thurs we also sell wood and ice between 9am and 7pm. AND we have to check the cooling fan in the storage room three times a day AND do drive around patrols. And if we leave the park during our scheduled work days, we need to notify the rangers. This is much different than our Rover jobs where we did our work, and then we were done.
Marika keeps saying it will be good for us to be so busy. I sure hope she’s right.
We’re driving a different golf cart and it is clunky and a little too big for me. But our camp site is roomy with trees and shrubs behind us and on one side, the road with no campsite is across from us, and campers are on our back side, and far enough away that it feels private.
The other hosts have been exuberant in their welcoming us back, and the ranger guys are already joking around with us. And on Thursday, there’s a potluck dinner for the hosts and rangers. Marika is making a cheesecake and a peach pie.
It’s officially monsoon season, so it is pretty humid here during the day-about 63%. But the sky and the thunder and rain are so worth it. And I absolutely love being able to see the lake, to be around water and this big open sky.
We’ll be here through the end of September, so if you’re wanting a cool getaway, come and visit!
We’ve been very restless here at the Hon-Dah RV Park. There’s not a lot to do in this small town, and, even though it’s cooler than Phoenix, the 90° afternoons make it tough to be outside during the majority of the day. We haven’t connected with any of the other 400 campers here, and the forest is very quiet.
I worked a shift at the Love Kitchen, but didn’t feel welcomed or needed there, and I wasn’t finding any other interesting volunteer opportunities. I tried to tell myself that all of this free time and space was ideal for writing my next book, but I kept hitting so much resistance.
I talked with Marika about getting back on the road, but it’s still pretty darn hot in most of the country. And then I wondered if traveling was just a distraction from something bigger I am supposed to be transforming right here in this quiet uncomfortableness.
And we really do have it pretty good here. It’s very affordable, the dogs can run free in the forest, there are no ticks and very few mosquitoes, we’re seeing Rufus and Broad-Tailed hummingbirds at Marika’s feeders, and we’ve seen wild horses and even a bear not far from our campsite.
But we were both ready for something to shift, to have some responsibility in the world, to wake up and feel like we have a purpose.
Yesterday morning, we drove to Fool Hollow Lake so I could FINALLY go paddling. We mentioned to our Ranger friend in the office that we were again available, in case they needed a last-minute camp host. They had called us a few weeks before to be tent hosts, but Marika was down in Phoenix taking care of our friend, and the tent hosts share a site with the other tent hosts, and I wasn’t interested in that.
On the drive to the boat ramp, we stopped to chat with another one of the permanent Rangers, and she told us that one of the host couples had just that morning been asked to leave, and they were actually now looking for another host couple.
Ten minutes later the Head Ranger pulled up to where we were inflating the kayak and offered us the position.
So yes, we’ll be going back to Fool Hollow Lake State Park this Sunday to be camp hosts for the rest of the season. This time, instead of being Rover Hosts, we’ll have our own loop of campsites and bathrooms to clean. And we’ll be available to campers for questions. We’ll also sell firewood and ice 2 days a week when the other host is off duty.
Marika and I are thrilled, excited, and in awe of the synchronicity and simplicity of it all. And I am excited that we will be back near water, and in big sky territory for the monsoon season.
And no, I didn’t get on the water because, after I pumped up the kayak, I realized I had forgotten the seats. But I guess I wasn’t there to paddle!
For the last two weeks, Marika has been down in the valley helping a friend navigate a new phase of her cancer journey. I stayed up here in the mountains with the dogs, offering long-distance support and compassion during this very difficult situation.
I’ve enjoyed the time alone. I’m used to living by myself and I’m capable of all things with the RV. But it’s also been eye-opening to notice how often I’d complain about Marika, when really, they were things about myself that I was not liking. Living so close with another person, you become big mirrors for each other. Without Marika here 24/7, I was forced to look at my own self and claim some of the things that I had been blaming on her. Like my boredom. My weight. My lack of lust for life.
I journaled a little and cried a bit, but mostly I distracted myself with the first seven seasons of Top Chef, even though I’d already seen them. I took many walks with the dogs and found a new way to play with Cody and his ball while Mabel could enjoy sniffing.
And I had a breakthrough with the book. I finally found the voice with which to tell the story. I worked on it for a day or two, and then I put it aside again, telling myself that thinking about it is still working on it.
I’m pretty sure I know why I’m stuck, and yet, I’m not quite ready to work through it. I could beat myself up and focus on why I am not doing this one big thing that my future self wants so much. Or I could try kindness and compassion and think about all of the things I have been doing that are different than before.
I got together with the ladies for lunch and Mexican Train, and I went back to the dentist for my permanent crown. I put the awning up and down and up again, by myself. I cooked a few meals, and found the best pizza place in town. I checked out the Butterfly Thrift Store for a possible volunteering, and finally called the Love Kitchen and did my first volunteer shift there last week. I met my contact person at the library for my Heart Sparks workshops and put up the flyers in the RV Park office and laundry room.
After several failed attempts to hang my Prayer Flags outside (too much wind), I brought them inside and hung them over the office and in the bedroom. I made a card for a friend’s new business opening and a fun camping kit for another friend and her 9 year old camping companion. I’ve been helping the students in my online Mac class, and I even worked with an in-person Mac client with Photos on her iPhone. I washed the RV floors, cleaned the stove, washed the car. And I got my bike out of the car, put air in the tires, and rode to the end of the forest road that extends beyond the campsites.
Yes, I smoked every day and watched a lot of TV, but I made sure I left the house and connected with another human being at least once every day. Even if it was just to go to the office to check about the mail, or do the laundry. And I finally went to a yoga class. It wasn’t the mind-body-spirit practice I was hoping for, but my body felt open and alive afterwards and I was glad I went. And I promised myself I’d go again.
And when I didn’t go to class the following week and I started to berate myself, I said, maybe next week, and let it go. And every time I heard myself calling me lazy or complacent, I’d take the dogs for a walk, or text Marika, or offer up some big love into the world, for all of the people who don’t have this kind of time and space in their lives to do absolutely nothing.
Maybe this is a time of fallow fields. Maybe I need to get really uncomfortable before I’m willing to make some big changes. Maybe those changes are already happening, and I just can’t see them. Right now, all I can do is stay aware and present, and be kind to myself and whatever I am resisting. And to not make this be about Marika, when she comes home this week.
Meanwhile, I’m keeping the hummingbird feeders full, and scattering the sunflower seeds around the tree trunk, just like she asked, so that the birds will be here, along with me and the dogs, to welcome her home.
It’s been a long, hard, emotional couple of weeks. Two weeks ago I broke a tooth. Instead of driving down to Phoenix to see my regular dentist, I opted to call a recommended dentist up here in the mountains. The price was comparable to my dentist and I wouldn’t have to drive 3 hours down into the hot as hell valley of the summer sun, I could sleep in my own bed, and focus on the actual dental work.
And then, two days before the appointment, I cracked a different tooth, one that my dentist and I had been watching. The broken tooth was a no brainer – I needed a crown. But the cracked tooth was another story.
After much discussion, instead of doing root canal and a crown, with the understanding that it might eventually need to be pulled anyway, I opted to have the cracked tooth extracted. And get a crown on the broken one.
I don’t hate dental work. But lying in that chair, thinking about losing a permanent part of me, brought up all kinds of tears. The dentist was uncomfortable with my crying, but I told her it was just an emotional time for me.
I was numbed on one side of my lower jaw, and again on the other. The back tooth came out, whole, but it was cracked in many places. I was fitted with a temporary crown on the other tooth and told to come back in two weeks.
After the procedures I drove home, numb across the entire bottom of my mouth. I drank some water, had some of Marika’s matzoh ball soup, and got in bed for the rest of the day. I slept most of the next day too, waking only to rinse my mouth, eat a bit of soup and take my ibuprofen.
When you have a tooth extraction, you are told not to spit, drink from a straw, or smoke for two weeks, so that the blood can clot can seal the open hole in your jaw and heal. Suddenly I was on a forced no pot smoking regime. Mind you, I’d been asking the universe for some support so that I could quit, but this threw me.
But I had no choice. I was cranky and crying all day for no nameable reason, and just feeling all kinds of sorry for myself. Every time Marika offered up some help I pushed her away, until she finally retreated to binge-watching a new TV show on Hula all of her waking hours.
On the third day I woke up, still with a toothache and a tweaked back. Not sciatica, but enough of a torquing that I couldn’t stand quite straight or walk very far. The only pain-free position was flat on my back in bed. So now we were both TV binging, but with different shows. And we were hardly talking.
I ate very little, and cried a lot. And I felt myself spiraling down a dark, depressing hole, wondering why were we still together, and what options did I have for leaving if I have no car, no home, and no savings.
On Friday, we were still only talking about the dogs and the weather, but my back was better so I asked her if she wanted to join me at the art gallery. She said no, that she needed some alone time. “After the last 4 days of silence?”
I cried as I drove to the gallery, reminding myself that only I can bring light and vitality to my life, and that I’d have to find some joy for my own self if I was going to move through these feelings. The gallery was a fine distraction, but not very inspiring. I stopped at a thrift store and picked up our mail at the office and then went home. Marika asked how the gallery was, but I wasn’t in the mood to share. So the silence continued.
On Saturday I knew I had to take myself out again, and this time she said she wanted to join me. She was even willing to leave on my schedule. In the first half hour of the ride to Springerville, we drove in silence, with the radio on.
“Is that Adele?”
“I don’t know,” I said. Quickly. Abruptly.
Then I listened a little longer.
Yes, it’s Adele.”
And we drove some more, gaining 1000 feet in elevation, until we were out of the thick forest of pine trees and driving across the open plateau lined with fences to hold back blowing snow in winter. And then we lost the radio signal and there was nothing.
Finally, without crying, I was able to ask her, “So can you tell me what’s been going on?”
She shared that it’s hard for her to be around me when I’m in that place. And I shared how hopeless I felt. That I wondered what the point of anything was. And she offered that maybe in time, I’d start to feel alive again. I cried some more and then finally, I was ready to reach over for her hand that I had so missed touching.
We agreed to have lunch first, at a five-star YELP Chinese restaurant in a strip mall. I chose the softest thing on the menu – tofu with mixed veggies, and it was delicious. We explored the Heritage Museum together, learning about the native ancestors and their nearby pueblo.
And then Marika got a text from our friend in Phoenix who has been going through treatments for cervical/uterine/liver cancer this past year. She and Marika had talked about Marika coming down to help her out at some point, and now was that time.
Suddenly my tooth issues and our rough patch were so insignificant.
Marika was a hospice nurse the last 12 years of her working life. She is an amazing caretaker and medical advocate. On the drive home from the museum we talked about our friend’s condition, and options for Marika to get to the valley. We decided she could rent a car one way, then use our friend’s car while there. We talked about what things she might need to bring with her, not knowing how long she’d be gone.
And then, suddenly I was complaining about my tooth again. I’m sure Marika thought I was being petty, losing perspective about the gravity of our friend’s situation vs. my silly toothache.
But I needed to step back from the sadness of my friend’s incurable disease and refocus on something small and fixable. I held Marika’s hand the rest of the way home.
On Sunday we worked as a team to get Marika ready, making lists, gathering her things, reminding each other that she was the perfect person for this. She drove down to the valley on Monday and has settled in on our friend’s sofa bed. She went to Walmart to get some bird feeders and seed so she can entertain herself during the long, quiet, hot days while our friend does a lot of sleeping.
The dogs and I are adjusting to being up here in the mountains without her. Mabel continues to look for Marika at the door and the car. Cody is happy that we all get to sleep in bed. And I got together with “the girls” up here for lunch and a fun afternoon of Mexican Train.
There are moments when I totally freak out, because my six year old self is terrified that Marika isn’t coming back. That, because last week when we had our big silence and I was wishing that she wasn’t there for a while, that it would come true. That if I really wanted something different than this, I’d have to lose her for it to happen.And so she was going to die.
Because that’s what happened when I was six and my brother was sick, and I wished him dead, and he went to the hospital and didn’t come back.
And then I get so caught up in the story I’ve created in my head, and I feel all of the grief and loss of losing Marika, as if it is real, and happening right now.
Until I realize I am hardly breathing.
When I remember to breathe, I come back to my body. I’ll go for a walk or, if it’s too warm, I’ll take some steps inside, kiss the dogs, and sit and stare out the window at the trees and the forest until I am right here, right now, present moment, where I am able to trust that Marika will be back, and that all is as it should be.
Yes, our friend is going to die. But hopefully, Marika being there will help make the journey easier. And maybe this will remind us to cherish the time we have together, instead of sulking and retreating in hurt silence. I know that every time I roll my tongue over the empty space where my tooth used to be, I’ll remember all of this.
I am typically not one to procrastinate.
If I need to do something, I schedule it into my daily or weekly to-do list and take care of it. Done.
So it’s been very curious to me that I’ve been finding all kinds of things to do instead of working on new Mac training videos.
My desk is cleared. My monthly receipts are filed. I have the entire morning blocked out for doing the first video and, instead, I am writing this blog post.
I looked up the definition of Procrastination:
Procrastination refers to the counterproductive deferment of actions or tasks to a later time. Psychologists often cite such behavior as a mechanism for coping with the anxiety associated with starting or completing any task or decision.
There are three criteria for a behavior to be classified as procrastination: it must be counterproductive, needless, and delaying.
When I think of my behavior in terms of these criteria, I’m NOT procrastinating. I am avoiding.
And I know it’s because doing these videos is a HUGE project. It involves changes to my website and my mailing list program. It means learning how to record and save and upload the videos. It means standing in front of the camera and being authentic and friendly and knowledgeable.
And I’ve never done these things before.
But I know my material. I know that the series will be very successful. And yet, I’m having trouble beginning.
Doing all of those other productive things has helped me step back from the project. And from this perspective I can see how the hugeness of it is simply overwhelming me.
No wonder I’ve been avoiding it.
So I took out a piece of paper and started to dissect the project into smaller, more do-able steps. And, following one of SARK’s fabulous suggestions, I used language that will make the tasks more inviting.
So, instead of: Learn the video recording software, I’m going to PLAY with the video software.
Instead of: Change the website and get a new mailing list program, I’m going to EXPLORE new ways to connect with my clients.
And, instead of expecting to get it all done in this one morning, I’m just going to begin.
So what are you putting off because it seems too daunting?
How can you break the BIG THING into smaller, more manageable tasks?
How can you turn your To-Do’s into fun and exciting activities that you might actually WANT to accomplish?
How can you begin?
We’re coming up on our last week of camp hosting here at Fool Hollow Lake. We’ve decided to stay in the mountains for the summer at an RV Park in Pinetop, 20 miles southeast of here, and about 1000 feet higher in elevation. This way, we’re still in the cooler pines, out of the summering campground crowds, and close enough to Phoenix if my dad needs us.
Since we won’t be hosting, we’ll have a lot of free time, which can be good if we get out and explore and connect with people. Or it will make us crazy. I’m hoping we’ll do some day trips around the area, maybe even scout out some campsites for some dry forest camping.
Marika is thinking about doing some hospice volunteering and I’m excited that I’ll be free to take a morning yoga class. I’ve also been looking at possible art classes, and volunteer opportunities. And I’ve been nudging myself to set up some Heart Sparks workshops. But I wasn’t sure if I still had the passion, or if it was just something familiar and easy that I thought I SHOULD do.
Yesterday, I walked down the long flights of steps to the lake shore for a solo outing, to unwind after a full and fun and heartwarming visit with friends from Phoenix. I found a spot on a wide rock and watched the water lapping against the thin grasses, and I asked the Universe for a sign to know if I do still want to share Heart Sparks workshops.
I watched the breeze drawing lines farther out on water where a pair of kayaks floated by, and I wished that I had the energy to inflate my kayak and get it down to the boat ramp and into the water. But since I wasn’t willing to do all that, I reminded myself to just enjoy watching the people who were out there. I overheard spots of conversations from the people in a fishing boat, hoping for a rainbow trout, and waved to a couple as they paddled by.
When the sun got too warm, I walked back up the slope and along the pseudo-path under the shade of the pine trees until the rocks got too big to step over easily. I watched the water from this higher vantage point as a mallard skimmed across the water going to the right and the resident great blue heron flew higher up, to the left. I could hear the flapping of its enormous silvery wings.
A family with two dogs had set up chairs and coolers near the water and another group was coming down the stairs, so I started to head back to the stairs. A woman about my age walked past and we said hello, and what a beautiful place this was. She continued on the path and I headed back up the stairs.
About three-quarters of the way up, I sat on the steps to catch my breath and enjoy the view. The woman I had seen walking stopped to talk. She said she was visiting the lake for the day, and staying at a B&B up in Snowflake. A bit later she shared that her son was getting married that day, but she wasn’t invited to the wedding. Instead of staying home and feeling sorry for herself, she had taken herself to the mountains for the weekend.
I applauded her for such beautiful self-care, and she thanked me.
We talked about camp hosting and she said that she’ll be coming up on retirement next year and has no idea what she wants to do, but she recited a long list of what she didn’t want to do.
I shared my belief that the Universe needs to hear what you DO want. And that, if you don’t know, then focus on how you want to FEEL. And she had never considered that before.
I told her that I was a life coach, and that I had written a book, and she googled it right there, and I told her that we were staying in the area for the summer, and how I had been doubting if I wanted to do Heart Sparks workshops again. She said, “You’d be good at it.” And I said, “I AM good at it!” And I smiled, hearing myself say it out loud. “And it’s pretty obvious from this,” I moved my left hand back and forth in the space between us, “that I do still love it!”
And I thanked her. And I invited her to write about her ideal day with no restrictions. To include smells and touch and people. “Or no people,” she said. And I smiled big and said, “Exactly!” And she said she was excited and nervous to go back to her B&B and try it.
She asked if she could take my picture and I said, “Only if you’re in it too.” She said, “I don’t do selfies.” “Then no picture,” I said.
I stood up and she came over and stood next to me with the lake behind us and took our picture. I asked her to email it to me, and then she would have my email if she wanted to stay in touch.
We both thanked each other again, and, of course, we hugged before we parted.
Today she sent me a copy of the photo and said that she was struggling with the assignment, but that the struggle was a good thing. And I was thrilled. And again, reassured that there are people out there ready to connect with me. I just needed to say yes.
And so, I’m making a list of places to propose my Heart Sparks workshops and I am beginning to envision myself engaging with women in deeper questions and conversations, and re-sparking my own heart.