Out with the old, in with the new—Dec 11 Reverb10

11 Things. What are 11 things your life doesn’t need in 2011? How will you go about eliminating them? How will getting rid of these 11 things change your life? (prompt author: Sam Davidson)

Not necessarily in this order…

1. anger—it starts as a nearly imperceptible malignant growth and spreads its tentacles of rapidly multiplying cells until it has metastasized and taken over my body. To eradicate, I must practice compassion, remember not to take things personally and remind myself that only I am responsible for controlling my reaction to life’s events and to those around me. And I have no control over others. Getting rid of anger will allow me to be a calmer, more confident parent and fill me with peace, enabling me to give more to those I love.

2. self-criticism—why do I allow the voices in my head to cut me down? I run too slow, my thighs are too big, my gut too jiggly, my writing not creative enough. I must remember to treat myself as I would a beloved friend–with kindness, compassion and a dose of humor. Getting rid of the negative voices would allow me to continue to move forward in making life dreams and goals come to fruition.

3. worrying about a messy house—life’s too short to always have clean floors. I’d rather be out for a run or exploring with my camera. Besides, my friends feel better if my house shows a bit of chaos! Letting go of this will free up my time for other pursuits. (Frankly I think I’ve already started on this one!)

4. too much stuff—ok, got a jump on this one too, but I could do more. If I haven’t worn something over the past year, it goes to donation. Not sure how this will change my life except that I feel less weighed down with material stuff and lighter emotionally.

5. concern about what others may think—I can be overly sensitive and take things personally when I shouldn’t. hmmm…this one may be harder to get rid of; more of an ongoing process. But losing this concern would free me to put more of my writing out there without holding it in for fear that someone will be critical. Yeah, there will be critics, but such is life.

6. uncomfortable shoes—more closet clearing necessary! My feet will appreciate it.

7. complacency—moving forward toward my goals means getting out of my comfort zone, being uncomfortable. That could be setting the alarm earlier to write before work so that I don’t make excuses about not having the time to do so. Or running intervals one day a week until my lungs and legs burn so that I can increase my speed a little. Getting rid of complacency will push me to live on a fuller scale, to push my boundaries, give me a clearer sense of direction.

8. energy-sucking people or things. At the beginning of the year, I cut t.v. out of my life which allowed for much more reading. A couple weeks ago, we got a t.v. again and I must be careful not to waste time watching shows that don’t add positively to my life experience. This past week has been Big Cat on Nat Geo Wild and I have watched a few of those! And for those folks who take my time whining and filling the air with negative emotion, sorry, I’ve got other things to do.

9. depression—days when dark clouds won’t budge, when it feels that pain won’t go away. Remember the light at the end of the tunnel. Like my running friend B says, sometimes you’re just at a bend in the tunnel and can’t see the light for a bit, but keep plugging ahead and you’ll find it; it’s there. Consistent exercise for me really helps to minimize episodes of depression as do frequent gatherings with close friends. Getting rid of this will help make me more productive.

10. impatience—when my words are sharp with my son or with others I dislike myself. Nurturing a sense of patience, by taking a deep breath before speaking or a moment of calm to myself before responding to an upsetting situation can help me deal with it in a manner that I won’t regret later. This will lead to a greater sense of self-control.

11. excuses—for not writing, running, getting those things done which I promise myself or others to do. Banishing excuses will give me momentum in 2011 and a sense of accomplishment.



Reverb 10—Dec. 10—Wisdom. What was the wisest decision you made this year, and how did it play out? (prompt author: Susannah Conway)

On the first day of this year, I told my husband of 11 years I was moving out. I felt suffocated by the walls of a big house where my anger and resentment bounced around; a dark cloud followed me like a shadow and an elephant sat on my chest. Most of the time I didn’t even know why I felt so unhappy, but I knew I needed a place to figure things out—to ask myself some hard questions and to find the answer to at least one of them. Did I want to remain married to this person?

I moved from 5 bedrooms and 3 baths into a tiny cottage where very little of my material stuff fit. Our six year old son shared time between us and in this small, lovely space, I began the process of figuring out how our marriage had come undone.

It was much like the first loose strand unraveling slowly from a knitted scarf. Nearly imperceptible at first, perhaps snagged by the playful claws of the cat or caught on the rough edge of a wooden chair. And yet it begins, the knot undone, a bond untwined. Till one day it drags, pulling behind it the rest, loosening in the wind and blowing free.

A few weeks after moving, I sat alone one evening over dinner and a glass of wine, reading an interview between Oprah and the Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh. A pull quote printed large on the page jumped out and smacked me in the forehead. Hanh was talking about happiness and how to find it…”People sacrifice the present for the future. But life is available only in the present. That is why we should walk in such a way that every step can bring us to the here and the now.”

I stopped chewing and just sat still with the sudden knowledge that this explained why I left. I had grown so tired of putting life dreams on hold that I wanted to share with a partner. And I felt guilty when I pursued my own dreams because I felt it further separated us; his focus was always in the future, down the road, eventually. But I wanted to live life fully in the present. Too many times I’ve been reminded that we are not guaranteed our life beyond today—who knows if there will be a tomorrow?

It wasn’t the house and the material trappings that suffocated me, although they had become a cumbersome weight, but the marriage. I’ll treasure parts of our journey together, but we were no longer traveling the same path. They had diverged some time ago. I’m letting my heart guide me on this new route and savoring the experiences along the way.


Reverb10—December 9—Party. What social gathering rocked your socks off in 2010? Describe the people, music, food, drink, clothes, shenanigans. (Author of prompt: Shauna Reid)

My 40th wasn’t a raucous event to knock people’s socks off, but filled with love, laughter, great food and even better friends. For that, it sticks with me as a memorable social gathering in 2010…

At the beginning of the year, I moved to a small cottage, not exactly the best locale for a birthday party, but 40 was a milestone for me. So one of my running buddies, B, and her husband, C, hosted a small gathering at their lovely home. My new partner spent the previous day making salsa verde, salsa fresca and salsa roja with a variety of fresh tomatoes, chiles, peppers and onions from the garden…and pork carnitas! Homemade corn tortilla chips, warm from the frying pan, crisp pale ale, guacamole…all of my favorites for a fiesta!

Mom brought a few photo books of my first three years–images of me in a pile of 10 black lab puppies on the lawn, eating a banana in the kitchen while naked, holding a screwdriver at the ready for my dad who was repairing a bus engine while our dog supervised.

Friends brought food, wine and chocolate–guess they know me pretty well! And cards that brought tears to my eyes.

Visions of Mt. Whitney danced in my head with every sip of margarita; I couldn’t overdo it as we were headed to the Eastern Sierra the next morning and elevation and hangover don’t go so well together.

There was another reason to celebrate life that evening. After six months of chemotherapy and fighting stage IV non-Hodgkins lymphoma, C had been given the news days before that he was now in remission. So much to be thankful for, so much living to do. It’s proving to be a fabulous (if not challenging!) year!

#reverb10—Beautifully different

Reverb 10—December 8 – Beautifully Different. Think about what makes you different and what you do that lights people up. Reflect on all the things that make you different – you’ll find they’re what make you beautiful. (Author of prompt: Karen Walrond)

I talk to strangers. A woman on the street in the cold, needing a cup of coffee. We talked for 15 minutes–she’d lived in New York, was a musician, had the same name as my younger sister, now she lived on the street in this affluent college town, avoided and ignored by those who didn’t wish to see her in their path. I bought her coffee and we shared a hug before I went on with my errands. After that I always greeted her by name, bought her a burrito when she was hungry. I haven’t seen her this winter and wonder where her travels have taken her.

I roll down the windows and open the sunroof, blasting my son’s favorite music on a routine Monday morning, ’cause he says that’s what we do on road trips or field trips and it makes him smile and bounce around in his seat.

I cry in public when I hear or see something that touches my heart.

I protected a huge, green-winged dragonfly lying in the middle of a path from a group of runners whizzing past. Guess that’s the benefit of being slow–I see things on my runs!

I make a fool of myself to make my friends laugh until their mascara runs and their ribs hurt.

I fall in love with every friendly dog I meet.

As a kid, I brought home every hurt or homeless animal I found.

I wrote a letter to the girl driving the van that pulled out in front of my brother’s motorcycle. His helmet was no match for the impact of steel. She wasn’t to blame for his death, I needed to tell her that. I knew how he drove that machine. She needed to move on, to release the guilt, the pain. And so did I.

Getting out of my comfort zone aka “rut”!

Why wait for the New Year to start with a resolution to reinvigorate my writing habits? I’ve been in a rut for a bit. Excuses abound—full-time job, moving to a new house, kids…you name it. Enough already. I stumbled upon a great idea to get me back on track—Reverb 10, an annual event and online initiative to reflect on your year and manifest what’s next. Participants receive a new writing prompt daily via e-mail. OK, so I didn’t see this on Dec. 1st when all the fun began, but I’m jumping in now and will try to get caught up on past prompts. (This is also a way to keep me accountable to my writing group!)

Eleanor Roosevelt: “We gain strength, and courage, and confidence by each experience in which we really stop to look fear in the face… we must do that which we think we cannot.”

Ok, Eleanor, here it goes…