Love

I am proud to say that I’ve been with someone that I love for a decade.  It’s a strange thing to say when I realize how young I still am.  Ten years of intentionally sticking together – all chosen and three officially married.

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Love is about intentionally choosing love.  Love all the moments – messy, unkind, sweet, hilarious, unfortunate, exhausting, exhilarating, embarrassing, and everything else there is.

Life sometimes is about putting one foot in front of the other to just make it through.  Love is about putting one foot in front of the other, sometimes kicking or tripping (in a loving way) the other person along the way, and knowing there are always more places to walk, hike, or run together.  The direction may change, but it sure is nice to have someone alongside me.

Age Out Loud

May is Older American’s Month.  This month’s national theme is “Age Out Loud.”

Why is this important for everyone to be aware?  Because everyone is aging.  You are literally getting a little bit older every day, so you should care about those who are ahead of you.  If you are lucky, you’ll get to be that old one day.

Why else is this important?  We all need to remember to share our voice and our stories as we get through this thing called life.  Getting older can allow for perspective, and it’s a perspective that we younger people should seek out.  To learn from those who have been through more life than us.  To learn about history not just through books (but yes, keep reading, too) but from the people who lived through those times.  To help us understand that we are connected by so many of life’s experiences and we are not alone.  And of course, to hear stories of others who have lived lives very different from our own.  To create more awareness and to create space for those to share.  To share and create meaning – and to share and create connections, person-to-person.

So whether you are participating in an Older American’s Month celebration or just take some time to talk with an older adult in your life, I implore you to intentionally carve out a little time this month and read, write, share, or listen to the life stories of those around you.

The act of caring by asking someone about their life and the time to actually listen can be a powerful thing.

Play

Don’t forget to play.  To tap into your creative side and poke your inner child.  That kiddo is still in you, and likely bored and frustrated that you work so hard.

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I went to a meeting today that was over lunch, and this is the decor I found.

How amazing.

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Not only did I feel the instant transfer of adult obligation to attend a function to mischievous child, but I could see that these centerpieces sparked something in others, too.  Staff of all ages were taking photos, chuckling, and engaging in conversation with anyone around them.  Having a moment to play cleared our head space and allowed something new to enter.  It also put all different levels of staff at the same level – curious, delighted individuals who needed to find out if that really was a black-eyed pea for a Eggplant penguin’s eye.

How will you play today?

 

 

 

A Moment

It’s been a hard couple of weeks for me lately.  Life’s been upping my workload, pulling me in about eight directions unexpectedly, keeping me so busy that I haven’t had enough time to rest and recover – and when I meet all the demands, somebody dumps a bunch of their own stuff all over me again to deal with.  It’s exhausting.

But the positive is that I have to get better, so I’m seeking change and grounding.

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I’m finding it within myself again to figure out what I need.  And today, it was nature.  It was sunshine.  It was fresh air.  It was to get out of the office and look up.  But mostly, it was to get out of the office – the physical space and all of the mental space it takes up.

So even if you’re stuck, you can find a few moments to unstick.  Maybe you have to go back to whatever it is that’s leaving you drained, but you can still seek out those moments.  Moments build.  Moments will inspire you to continue seeking out more grounding moments, bringing intention back into your day.

Appreciation

According to the internet, today is Thank-You Thursday.  I got an email about this a few days ago, so I’ve been walking around with the idea of thank-yous.

They are so important.

I think it’s really important to take the time to thank people for what they do.  We could not do this whole life thing without others – no matter how fiercely independent you are.  Just think about any time you used a public restroom – if it was at all remotely clean, you have someone to majorly thank.  A person you may never see, who is severely underpaid, and who literally deals with crap all day.  All so you can attend to your basic needs for the 30 seconds to two minutes you’re there – and then never think twice about the service another person provided for you.

I’m also realizing more and more that it’s really important that you receive thanks or appreciation for all that you do.  I think that’s the hardest for me – to do so much for work and others, and not always receive acknowledgement about it.  It starts to add up.

So take some time and say thank you.  To someone’s face, in a card, over the phone, even via social media.  Honor others who make your life easier, happier, fuller, funnier, or all the small things that easily go by unnoticed.  Take a moment to notice them and spotlight it.

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Today, I went to a volunteer appreciation event after work – showing up when many others did not. I don’t have enough time in my night to thank everyone that has impacted my life, so I just wrote three thank yous to friends that are recently in my mind.

Who wouldn’t want to receive that?

I’m going to keep walking around with the idea of thank yous and appreciation.  I’m going to keep intentionally thanking people around me for all that they do and all that they give.  What’s harder for me, I’m going to try to figure out what kind of appreciation I need for all that I give.

Thank you to all of you that read my blog.  All leaders need followers; all writers need readers.  I appreciate your time and hope my words impart some joy, knowledge, curiosity, and even a laugh in your day.

Spotlight on Rae Hoffman Jager

For my sixth spotlight piece, trying to highlight others that inspire, I would like to share the poet, Rae Hoffman Jager.

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I met Rae in college.  I’m sure we had some creative writing classes together.  Post school, no matter the job, she always continued writing.  And publishing her poems.  And taking hilarious photos of her dogs.  I am so proud of her and her upcoming chapbook of poetry.  I am inspired that poetry is still very much alive and well and funny, and that young people are still able carve out a path to write as a career.

May she inspire you to enjoy reading and writing again, too.

L: When and how did you start writing poetry?

R: I can safely say now (since I recently found a poem I wrote when I was 6 about a “hamstr name Lucy”) that I started writing much earlier than I originally thought. When, I’m not exactly certain, but I remember writing rhyming songs in my bedroom and recording them onto cassette tapes. I was a very prolific lyric writer at the time, creating volumes of stuff that filled up Lisa Frank notebooks by the dozens (stuff I’m sure would resonate with any 6-7 year old–what’s for dinner, why I have to go to grandma’s on the weekend, why my brother wouldn’t share his “hamstr,” and predicting what I would get for a Hanukkah present). I continued writing rhyming poetry for years–through middle school and even some of high school when I got my first poem published in the school’s magazine. In college I discovered Li-young Lee in a beginning poetry class. I was forever transformed by how good poetry could be.

L: Where can we read your poems?

R: You can read my poems on my website, where I link recent work to the online magazines they first appear in. Not all of my work is online, so you can also find links to buy the physical literary magazines I am in–if you’re into that kind of stuff. You should be.

You can also find some videos of me reading work on Youtube, but that might take you down a rabbit hole of old song covers,  a dedication video to Poptarts, and more. I know you’re tempted now. So sorry.

L: What are you working on right now?

R: Oh, where to begin? I am wrapping up a chapbook that is going to be published by Five Oaks Press in late June/early July (check them out. Lynn Houston is the founder/editor, and she’s incredible and so dedicated to what she does). This small collection will house a lot of interesting poems featuring Krispy Kreme, Snoop Dog, Omaha, LARPING, and more.

Aside from that, I have started on a collection of football poems. I know what you might be thinking, “wait–what? You like football? Since when? how? Who will your audience be…….WHY?” The answer is really complicated. I am fascinated by football fans –their vocabulary, rituals, and interpretations. I want to understand and demonstrate just how complex the relationship is between fans, players, and owners. There’s so much more that I won’t get into. Long story short, I think I can honor both die-hard football fans and football haters. It’s a lofty goal. In defense of my own new dedication to football (which you might be suspicious of), I can say I wrote a poem about the Immaculate Reception. Doing so required extensive research. I watched three hours of footage from that 1972 game. THREE HOURS.

L: What’s something most people don’t know about you?

R: I really like making visual art too. I’m by no means a pro, but occasionally I’ll grab some colored pencils, chalk pastels, charcoal, and go to town on a brief project. Those normally end up on Instagram and sometimes Facebook, if they’re appropriate (sometimes they aren’t.)  Some of my work has found its home on my website.

L: What inspires you?

R: So many things–contemporary art, walking, smelling, interacting with people I really care about and people I don’t know that well, collaborating, music, more walking, sitting under blooming or unblooming trees, eavesdropping on strangers, talking to kids, but most importantly walking. I admire Wordsworth for all the walking he did. Overall, I have a pretty child-like wonder and old-lady-like respect for the world and it’s infinite mystery.

L: What has been your most recent act of kindness that either you gave or received?

R: I started volunteering at this really great nonprofit called WORDPLAY. They help kids/teens in the nearby neighborhoods with literary afterschool and on weekends. If you have an extra twenty dollar bill lying around or you find a couple $5 bills in that old winter coat from two years ago, you should donate it to them.

L: April is National Poetry Month.  How are you celebrating and who are you reading?

R: I am creating 2 vlogs to celebrate the first two weeks of poetry month, hosting a poetry book giveaway for week three, and a surprise for week four. The videos are supposed to be funny and mildly informative–geared towards teenagers and exposing them to poetry. I want young people to know that poetry doesn’t have to be boring or inaccessible, and that it doesn’t need rhyme or adhere to any meter.  What these videos are actually turning into is a platform for my pug, Athena Beyonce, to meet the world. The poetry giveaway is an opportunity for one of my followers to win a collection of poems by a celebrated contemporary poet. What happens the last week of Poetry Month on my blog? You’ll just have to wait and find out!

 Want to continue to see what Rae is up to?  You can follow her website  and check her out on social media:

YouTube – https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCp5lptLT8_6N1qYxMPbVyoQ

Twitter- https://twitter.com/RaeHoffmanJager

Instagram- https://www.instagram.com/RaeHoffmanJager/

Good Reads: https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/66160480-rae-hoffman-jager

And if you’re interested in supporting her work, you can pre-order her poetry chapbook One-Throne here.

www.riverdaleuniversity.com

 

Sound

There are a lot of sounds at any given moment.  There are more than you can really pay attention to and filter out note by note, so thankfully, your ears help you.  The breeze rattling bare branches.  Distant cheers of a soccer game.  Cars honking.  Your neighbors muffled steps and conversation.  Water running.  A vague hum.  Dogs barking.

I’m paying more attention to laughing.  It’s a sound that I want to hear more of.  I want to overhear and participate in the quiet chuckles and the belly-hurting laughs (the ones you can’t stop yourself).  I want to hear knees slapped.  I want to hear the gleeful screams that follow and start a child’s delightful laughing fit.  I want to hear snorts and gasps for air when others are stuck in an uncontrollable laugh.

What sound are you listening for?

Pause

I’m looking for a longer pause.  I need to spend a little more time not doing anything but reflecting and meditating.  It’s easy to sometimes feel exhausted and feel like I’m pausing by watching a movie or tv, but this is a not the pause I really need.

Unlike with tv, there’s no such thing as a pause button.  That means you have to create the moment of stillness or thoughtfulness while the life continues on all around you.

It’s hard to still have such a big need for pause as spring is beginning to tempt us to do more.  To see more friends. To get outside.  To volunteer.  To learn new things.

This act of a pause must be something I need to learn a little more.

How do you create a pause in your busy life?

 

via Daily Prompt: Pause

Lunch Dates

With an ever increasing workload and stress, I’ve been trying to up my self-care game.  One of the newest things I’ve done a few times now is change up my lunchbreak.  This is the first time I’ve ever had an entire hour for lunch, and there’s no way I’d actually spend it eating the whole time.  While I usually go for a walk or read a magazine if it’s too cold, I’ve found something even better.  I make lunch dates.  Not with co-workers or friends, but with a cat.

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This isn’t my cat.  But this cat lives 10 minutes from my job, and I have been invited over.  So, I took the offer and started to occasionally have lunch with a cat.   It’s the best. It’s often my favorite part of the day. Now, I can’t visit all the time mostly because that’d probably be a little too weird (not being my own cat and all); also, I really enjoy walking.

There is something inherently relaxing when you’re around animals.  I suppose it’s why they call it pet therapy.  They’re soft, they’re loving, and they remind you to slow down and just enjoy the moment – because they are.

So one easier, small way to change how you deal with things is to change your environment – even just for an hour.  Eat lunch away from the office.  Eat lunch with someone or something you enjoy.  Ask a friend or neighbor if you can visit their pet (honestly, it’s a win-win and there should be more of this).  Ask a stranger if you can pet their dog.  It will have lasting effects.

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You will be immensely rewarded.  And make your coworkers smile (and I can only assume a little bit jealous, although that is not the point) and wonder when you tell them how you spent your break.

 

 

Touch

Last week, I finally redeemed the Groupon I bought months ago for a massage.  I have this grand idea that I’ll actually get a massage every month as a preventative health and wellness self-care goal, and I fail.  Aside from spending the money, I don’t know what’s holding me back, so I’m going with cost, despite the well-worth the price results.

When I think about massage, I think about it as you taking your body to therapy.  So when I don’t pay for this service, I’m really avoiding all the issues that are building up in my muscles, fascia, nerves that I’ve somehow come to accept as what life feels like — until I can’t anymore.  And here we arrive at a place of being willing to change.

This was an orthopedic massage – the kind where you really feel all the physical pain that’s been building up, as well as the release after the massage therapist has been working on a spot for a while.  My massage therapist had to give me a lot of verbal reminders to stop holding my neck or moving it where I (intuitively) thought it should be instead of letting go and having it roll with his movement.  This in turn caused me to laugh a lot – because how silly is it that you can’t relax to the degree you need to – it’s just not so easy sometimes.  It was a cathartic hour of having someone physically remove my stress  for a while, and me to laugh at myself and how much I was holding onto and how out of touch with my physical body I was.

We all need reminders.  Sometimes in a very literal sense, like when we were children and our parents told us what to do – and what not to do.  Sometimes we just need others to tell us.