Archives for June 2014

Five Minute Friday: Lost

Hello, Friends. Welcome back for another Friday spent with Lisa-Jo and the Five-minute crowd. Today, we’re taking five minutes to write on the prompt Lost. Do you have five minutes to write, read, or both? Why don’t you join us?


1. Write for 5 minutes flat – no editing, no over thinking, no backtracking.
2. Link back here and invite others to join in.
3. And then absolutely, no ifs, ands or buts about it, you need to visit the person who linked up before you & encourage them in their comments. Seriously. That is, like, the rule. And the fun. And the heart of this community…

Today’s Prompt: Lost

photo

Lost: My composure when the neighbor tells me she had animal control come out to kill a rabid raccoon on our street. They didn’t want to fire a gun with so many kids on the street, so they ran it over with the official animal control car. Then, when it sat up and hissed at them after the initial run-over, they ran over it again. Then they refused to remove said raccoon. Even in death, it taunts us. Rabid raccoon=1 Residents of our street=0.

Lost: My sanity after using “no television” (rookie move) as a punishment for two of my children on the same endless summer day. Why do these days stretch into forever? On the upside, they switched to watching “educational” youtube videos, showing them how to make emergency survival kits using everyday items such as toothpicks, straws, sugar, and tampons. That’s right–tampons. You never know when you’ll need a fire starter in the form of women’s products. My son may never recover.

Lost: Toothpicks, straws, sugar, and tampons. See above. We now have survival kits hidden in altoid boxes all around the house. They could make a killing selling these on etsy.

Lost: Peace and Quiet.

Found: My love for laughter and quirky kids and non-rabid animals. I heart summer.

…………………….

What are you losing or finding this summer?

Shifting dirt

home sweet home via kimberlyanncoyle.com

Outside, the back yard is a hive of activity. Flashes of orange and yellow construction vehicles jerk past my window, and I sit transfixed by the controlled chaos. My yard is a wasteland of dirt and mess, but every day I see a little more progress. The men arrive in the morning, cigarettes dangling from their lips, and they leave exhausted, streaked with dirt and sweat, taking one last puff on a ciggie. I wonder if they go home patting themselves on their bent backs for a job well done, or if they simple sink into bed, all of their energy left sitting on the dirt in my back yard.

Some days it looks like no work is done despite the frenzy of activity and the cavalcade of trucks. It looks like they shift dirt from one pile to another. But slowly, this project takes shape and I begin to see the form emerging from the mud. I have a drawing of the predicted end result, and it takes the foresight of a prophet to see how these hills of dirt and stone will rise up and become the ink and paper vision.

Someone told me recently that we need to discuss my twenty year vision. (For my life, not my back yard) And I’ve never been more sure of what I want the end result to look like, I can see it in my mind’s eye as clear as an architect’s final draft on paper. What I can’t see, is how I will get there. I feel like I’m shifting piles of dirt from one place to another without visible signs of progress, without the form rising up from the dirt, taking shape. It’s frustrating. I’m no prophetess, and I don’t know if the vision will come to pass.

In my head, I know I need to put one foot in front of the other, do the work, inch forward towards the goal. But in my heart, I wonder if the draft papers need revising. How do you know when it’s time to adjust the vision, or when it’s time to dig deep and leave all of yourself sitting out on a heap of hard work?

The truck pulls up. The men stumble out. They look tired before the day begins, cigarettes lit, tools in hand. They’re ready to move some dirt.

Pinky promise

flip flop via kimberlyanncoyle.com

Oh, Summer. You with your promise of endless hours that somehow never materialize when it comes to actually getting something done around here. Why does this promise only exist in the head of those once “too busy”, now “so bored”. Summer, I would give you a giant slice of seedless watermelon followed by a trip to Dairy Queen if you would allow me the pleasure of experiencing what bored feels like. And for the record, I don’t mean that feeling I get when forced to watch animated movies at the cinema. I want to know what it feels like to literally not have a single thing to accomplish or check off my list. I’m going to the beach soon. Perhaps we can meet there between the boardwalk and the ocean. I’ll be the one wearing the ridiculous hat that ages me at least ten years and once again, transforms me into my mother. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

Summer, this year I decided to take a page from my friend Tara’s parenting 101 toolkit. I now leave chore lists written on bright blue memo paper for each of the kids every morning. These same kids claim to have no time to help out during the busy school year. These lists make so few appearances during the winter months, that I feel out of practice. I wrote at the bottom of one such list today: Take a shower. Really? Even someone without fourteen years of mothering experience can see right through that one. I’m grasping at straws here, and the kids know it. It wouldn’t surprise me to see one of them scrawl “Watch TV” as the final to-do item.

I like you, Summer. I want to be friends, but I need you to hold up your end of our agreement. You will not kill me with your heat, your wasps, your parade of highly caloric treats in the form of ice cream. You will not mock my thirty-nine year old thighs when they make their milky white appearance. You will not allow those who should enjoy you, waste the precious gift of your time by staring trance-like at the Disney channel or re-runs of Lost. You will give us the gift of boredom, of fat green leaves dancing on branches, of horses snorting across the fields, of sand and bare legs and sunshine. And I, I promise to make you into a memory, a thumbprint on the brains of my bored children. I will capture you in their mind’s eye, and while they may forget the details of your days, they will remember the way you made them feel–like their life is one of endless hours filled with infinite possibilities.

Five Minute Friday: Release

Hello, Friends. Welcome back for another Friday spent with Lisa-Jo and the Five-minute crowd. Today, we’re taking five minutes to write on the prompt Release. Do you have five minutes to write, read, or both? Why don’t you join us?


1. Write for 5 minutes flat – no editing, no over thinking, no backtracking.
2. Link back here and invite others to join in.
3. And then absolutely, no ifs, ands or buts about it, you need to visit the person who linked up before you & encourage them in their comments. Seriously. That is, like, the rule. And the fun. And the heart of this community…

Today’s Prompt: Release

DSC_3595

This was supposed to be my year of intention. The year in which I make plans and anticipate outcomes and organize myself to within an inch of my life or sanity, whichever I lose first. I thought I needed to add things: schedules, goals, processes and the like. But it turns out, that the heart of living with intention means releasing many of these things. Especially outcomes.

I hold onto outcomes the way one clings to a promise or a life verse. Before I had children, I thought specific outcomes were an absolute. They proved me wrong on that assumption almost immediately, but somewhere along the way, I started to believe in outcomes again. This year, my kids have proven me wrong again. I’m learning this in other areas of my life too, where I have invested myself, where I have lived with intention, and still met with outcomes that I didn’t expect.

This is my year of intention. This is my year of letting go. This is my year of releasing the outcomes, and allowing what may look like failure, become less of a period and more of a comma in my journey. I do have an overzealous streak when it comes to the use of the comma. This may prove useful in the future.

Lightbulb moments

lightbulb via kimberlyanncoyle.com

I checked my blog stats recently, and it appears I’ve written over 800 posts since the birth of this internet baby. I can’t quite believe it. Over the past few years, I sat down over 800 times to throw a few words to those of you who kindly show up to read them. Thank you, friends. Thanks for showing up and emailing and commenting and sharing. Thanks for honoring me with your time, because goodness knows, we have precious little of it. I know what it costs you to spend a few minutes with me, reading here.

I visited the Thomas Edison museum yesterday, and I have much to say about it, starting with the fact that third grade teachers are saints. Especially third grade teachers who manage to keep order and control over unruly kids sitting on a school bus in ninety-degree weather. I was absolutely no help, as I spent the day in various stages of wilting in the heat or wandering off in the museum. I also may have taken a few too many solo trips to the bathroom for a mental health break.

Did you know that Edison held over 1000 patents in his lifetime? He dreamed up 1000 new inventions that worked! Imagine all of the inventions he dreamed up that didn’t work. Imagine how long he worked on each one that did. He spent years researching, dreaming, working prototype after prototype, trying, failing, trying some more. When I think about my 800 posts sitting here in this little slice of the web, I feel like I’ve been working towards refining the one thing I want to say, the one idea I want to follow and point to, and say that is my lightbulb moment, that is where my work illuminates my world.

I don’t think I’m there yet. I’ve tried over eight hundred times to say it, but I find myself coming here week after week to try and refine the message once again. This has caused me some angst over the years because writers hear a lot about relevance and felt need and marketability. I find I return to the same ideas because I’m trying to figure out how to make them work in the context of real life. When I think of it in terms of Edison and how he returned to the same problems time and time again, I realize the refining process is where we meet and shake hands with the essential work. Anyone can come up with a great idea. Fleshing out that idea and putting skin on it is where the hard work happens. Sometimes you meet magic there too.

Like anything worthwhile in life, this returning and refining requires, as Eugene Peterson says, a long obedience in the same direction. I may not be able to market it in a flashy package, but I hope when you show up here you find me standing alongside you, walking in the same direction.

…………………………

What one thing do you repeatedly return to as an act of refining? I’d love to hear about it.