step twelve

as a child, i loved to read.

as an adult, i love to read sometimes, but when i do, i am a voracious, holistic reader.

when i took my dogs outside, i preferred letting them run in the backcountry, where it was just us, just them. i always felt that taking them for a walk around the neighborhood was like letting them read the same book, maybe different chapters, depending on who or what had visited at night.

but taking them to a wild, unknown place ~ that was like a whole library for these puppies.

the busier life gets, the less time i want to spend on reading books. autobiographical notes, human experience stories capture me, and then poetry. good, dense, multilayered poetry, simple words with complex meaning.

good poetry is what keeps my mind happy for days. it doesn’t come in the language of letters all the time. like my pups, i read fragrances and visuals. a field of lavender, a budding cottonwood tree, the smell of sweet grass, or even salmon running upstream, and letting go of life after they spawn… all those things are poetry to me.

and things like this, found today, in a most wonderful manual for a part-time position i am taking on – food for the soul, written by William Stafford:

The Little Ways that Encourage Good Fortune

Wisdom is having things right in your life
and knowing why.
If you do not have things right in your life,
you will simply be overwhelmed.
You may be heroic, but you will not be wise.
If you have things right in your life, and you
do not know why, you are just lucky,
And you will not move in the little ways that
encourage good fortune.
The saddest of all are those who are not right
in their own lives who are acting to make
things right for others.
They act only from the self, and that
self will never be right;
No luck, no help, no wisdom.

—William Stafford
(1914-1993)

 

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step eight

try something new every week.

that’s 52 new things in a year. here are some thoughts:

~ try hotsprings. a two-week east-west road trip left my butt triangular and my back sore.  the picture above is at mystic hotsprings in monroe, utah – a fabulous place for more than bathing. the accupressure chair massage i got from tammy, the therapist on site, immediately took the edge off my pain (but my behind retained the subaru-seat induced pie-shape). although i loved the property at mystic, where the hotsprings have shaped the rock formations in a unique way i have not seen elsewhere, i preferred a little less exposed setting. tammy recommended a few stops on the way to oregon and i tried a total of three different springs. it felt amazing, light, i slept better than ever, and if you’ve never tried hotsprings, go ahead – tell ’em your coach said you had to.

~ try… a new restaurant, a new dish, a new spice, a new drink, a new fruit.

~ look up medicinal plants that grow wild in your area and harvest what you can. in alaska, i loved picking fireweed shoots and young lambs-quarters or dandelions for salad greens. there is a powerful plant that belongs to the ginseng family, devil’s club, whose shoots in early may are the only tender thing about them to harvest and eat (watch out for the spiny stalks and leaf edges, the pulverized root of the plant is the only remedy for the rash they induce), so try something wild like that.

~ try dancing. learn how. if you know how, learn a new step. or dance in reverse. film it.

~ look at the “word of the year” … in different languages. try using them in a sentence.

~ draw, paint, do a paint-awake workshop.

~ absolutely try speed-dating. even if you are in a relationship. bring your partner. set an intention not to fight, regardless how it goes.

~ stretch. hit that spot of discomfort. sit with that for a bit. should i give an example? i don’t like elevators. for many reasons, but let’s just say it is a place that i would not choose to be in. so on some days, i know i have gotten complacent and too comfortable. enter the elevator. if it is time to stretch myself, i will go in. if it is time to face the fear, i just remind myself of how good it feels to know that panic subsides if i just wait a while, because the body simply won’t be able to sustain that state of high fear for longer than 20 minutes. once i come back outside, i have more sense of accomplishment than washing windows or vacuuming a whole day. those of you who are passionate about clean windows and carpets will be able to relate.

~ try a new road to work or to the store.

~ get a library card and check out a book. you’ll be surprised how much has changed in the last seven years.

~ pay for someone else’s cake pop at starbucks.

~ read E2 by Pam Grout.

~ part your hair on the other side, or do a comb-over. if you have children or grandchildren, give them a brush and a comb, and some water in a spray bottle, and let them practice how to be stylist on you. artistic selfies afterwards. which reminds me:

~if you haven’t yet, get an instagram account.

~check out new apps. try some of the virtual reality ones (e.g. Within-VR) and build your own 3-d-viewer, or assemble a google cardboard (good luck with that).  i got my first at TEDxBuffalo, which was a fabulous experience altogether, which reminds me:

~find a TEDx event near you and go. it will change your life.

~ …

keep going. you got this.