Get Your Silly On

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Remember the movie “Patch Adams”? How the medical student infused death and grief with laughter and joy? For that matter, consider another Robin Williams masterpiece, “Good Morning Vietnam”, and how goofiness alleviated horror and homesickness.

Certainly there is a time for seriousness, and professionalism, and pomp and circumstance.

But not today, darlings. It’s Friday. Dust off your clown nose today and rock it!

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The Fog Is Starting to Clear

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I’ve had a rough time lately – say, ever since I finished my graduate program, actually. Which I have not wanted to talk about because, hey! I should be on top of the world, right? Finally finished with school, with the job of my dreams, a husband who adores me and time to finally see my kids and grandkids and friends. Right? Right?!?!?

The truth is that I have been overwhelmed and feeling stupid, which is something they touch on in school but no one can really make you understand until you live through it. Being the guy where “the buck stops here” is not a comfortable ensemble to don – it takes some time. I am lucky to have some wonderful, generous and understanding friends who are physicians and other nurse practitioners who have assured me that yes, they all went through it too, and yes, it does indeed settle more comfortably on one’s shoulders.

Also, for the first time since I was 19 years old, I live in a home with just my husband (and our now three dogs). No kids. And let me give a word of wisdom to you young mommies and daddies who are longing for some alone time when the little rugrats are grown up. You’ll get it. And it takes a while to get used to.

Kids who used to think you were the smartest, most wonderful, and most important Supreme Being in their lives grow up and get their own lives, and are as harried and tired and running around in forty different directions at once as we were at their age. And mommies aren’t quite as high on the priority list. In fact, sometimes we become a downright nuisance, an item on a to-do list to dutifully check off  (“call Mom”).

I’ve been wandering aimlessly in this fog of uncertainty, unsure of where to place my next step, and paralyzed to the point of just standing still. I have probably actually “grocery shopped” once in the last six months. My homemaking skills that were once so honed I could perform them in my sleep are lost, like a stroke patient knows how to walk, but their legs don’t have the same memories.

And then last night I was wandering around Menards with my husband. Menards is a place I avoid like the plague since we did our kitchen remodel six years ago, because it makes me seasick to go there. It is wall-to-wall and floor-to-super-high-ceilings with stuff that I don’t recognize, in great part. But this time I started noticing things with visual interest – stacks of 2×4’s all in a row, their edges exposed like bricks; cast iron burners on stoves; paint chips arranged in waves of gradient color.

Inspired by an amazing and talented man, I have been taking photos with my smart phone, so I took out my phone and started shooting random photos of random things, like piles of carpet samples, and shag carpet close up.
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And on the way home, I found myself smiling. I realized that slowly, my navel-gazing is starting to turn outward. I am noticing things. My self-absorption with everything that has changed in my life is waning. There’s an amazing world all around us, hidden from our view by our busy-ness, and our focus on our own little dramas.

The hours I spend at work are not the sum total of my life. The children I launched into this world are not my last achievement. There is beauty to be savored, and with which to surround myself. There is joy in the everyday. There is pain, yes, but there is solace readily available.

I realized that I am not the only one that longs to be heard and seen, and that billions of lives are playing out parallel to mine. That doesn’t diminish the problems I encounter, but it puts them in their proper place as temporary, and manageable.

The fog is starting to lift. Months ahead of schedule, springtime is returning in this little part of Iowa.

What I Love About Photography

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It was a couple of years ago that my daughter began learning photography. She’s been a writer all her life, and I don’t know what got her interested in photography. What I do know is that she learned to capture unique, really beautiful photos.

Recently, I started playing around with photography, and I was motivated by the fact that I have also been a writer all my life – but I had run out of the mental energy to write. To write well. I’m discouraged, and sad, and unsure of myself.

But photographs give me the chance to say something wordlessly. To express a feeling – because really, isn’t that what we do when we use written or spoken words? – without committing both writer and reader to only one version of that feeling. Taking pictures – or editing older ones to see it in a new way – lets me reach toward my instinctive home, which is beauty, and hope, and joy.

Look at the little girl above. She’s probably five or less, dressed up and dancing in a powwow. You’ll notice that she hangs pretty close to a woman beside her – her mother, her aunt, her grandmother – we don’t know.

What thoughts do you have when you see her? Are you struck by the vivid color of her dress, and wonder if someone made it for her? Do you wonder if this is her first powwow, and if she’s a little scared? Does it make you want to learn more about this powwow? Where is it? Who is there? What’s the story behind it?

I look at photos on Instagram and Flickr and I an struck by the creative talent of men and women, young and old, from all over the globe. Like two lovers seeing the same moon from far apart and feeling like they are together, I feel connected to the unknown photographer. Because I see something from a new perspective through their photo, and see what they hoped I would see.

I don’t know what “composition” means, really. I’ve never taken any classes and I surely can’t compare to 99 percent of the
people shooting the photos I love. I don’t know the language and terminology of photography. I’m a nurse practitioner, not a photographer.

But I do know when I love something when I see it. It can be black and white, landscapes, portraits… What I love is life captured.

What do you love about photography?

Play!

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I know. Life can be pretty serious sometimes. We have obligations. Responsibilities. Missions. Projects. Lists. Jobs. Duties.

But it’s nothing but drudgery unless we take the time to play. And laugh. Giggle. Be inappropriate even.

Today, take some time to play.

And do it your way.

Time Suck

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I’d rather play with ordinary objects and my camera and try to make something interesting…than trudge on the treadmill that is laundry and dishes and cleaning up after everyone.

I’d rather follow your life on Facebook… than face what needs to change in my life.

I’d rather pin recipes I will never make and crafts I will never craft on Pinterest…than make the time to tackle my endless to-do list.

What?

I can’t be the only one.

Why Haven’t I Been Writing Lately?!?!

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I realized today that I haven’t written a thing except snippets on Facebook since October.

What the heck?!

My friend and mentor told me that when I got out of school, it would take a good year to get my feet under me, personally. To be able to do anything not related to work or school without the nagging feeling that I was supposed to be doing something else.

She was right.

My work schedule is a cluster. My sleep and eat schedule is worse. My time for soul-enriching things like exercise or socializing has been completely non-existent.

By combining areas of my blog, I’m hoping to give myself some much needed creative outlet. I want to be more than my job title: more than the endless list of household duties and familial obligations.

At 52, I’d really like to finally, finally enjoy some of the things that are meaningful to me, whether or not anyone else agrees with or understands or shares those things.

Also? I’m discovering wine.