“Real”

It’s another “Five Minute Friday” blogging topic. Click HERE to see instructions and links to a zillion more blog entries on this theme.

 

“But fairies aren’t real…why is your family so interested in something imaginary?” a dear friend asked a few years ago. Her question made me think.

fairy princess

my fairy princess visits ancient ruins in walnut canyon, arizona

Yes, my “baby” treasures her fairy-wings and loves to dress up (although sometimes she is a fairy-princess-cat, but that’s another story…) Yes, that same “baby” loves to read about fairies, and collects fairy figurines and the horses they sometimes ride, and colors pictures of fairies, and more. She even wrote her own book about an adventure in fairyland this past fall.

a forest fairy

near blackwater falls WV

And there are the photos I have taken while wandered the country with our two youngest kids after the unexpected death of a teen-aged son. Photos of fairies posed in likely homes and hidey-places. Photos of fairies under a farm porch, in mossy-covered rock crevices, in tree root homes, in split-granite boulder cracks, in tree stumps, and more. To be more accurate, sometimes the fairies (part of youngest daughter’s collection) were posed for the photos. Other times she and I found perfect fairy homes and took photos without the occupants in sight.

fairy house builder

furnishing a fairy dwelling in Alaska

My middle daughter spent hours one afternoon beside a burbling stream in Alaska, building and furnishing the perfect fairy’s house.

a fairy house

the perfect fairy house (beside a river in Seward Alaska)

Why? I think back to my friend’s question…why do we focus on something imaginary?

I think it is because what those fairies represent really is REAL. They are a symbol of wonder, a picture of the magical, a hint of something more… They remind us that no one knows everything, that there are unexpected wonderful things waiting just around the corner. They are a comfort when the “real world” feels too painful or too inexplicable, when we need to remember the good, the glitter-filled, the other real…

Those fairies might look imaginary to others…but to my daughters and I they are more than imaginary…

Sometimes those imaginary things are REAL!

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Amazing Music

We had a wonderful weekend, filled with good music. First my heart was filled with beauty as we drove over mountain passes on Saturday afternoon on our way to southern Colorado to celebrate with a friend as she performed in concert the music from her new CD. (Here is a press release about the concert.) (You can listen to music clips from her first CD here.) Then, on Sunday we visited the small church our friends attend and enjoyed worship music similar to the churches we attended for years before coming out here.mountain pass

Alison was a homeschooling buddy of mine in Ohio when our kids were young. We started a homeschool co-op together and organized a group of families to do hands-on Ohio History. Alison’s family was very involved in leadership at the church we both attended. Over the years, we drifted apart. Our family moved to a different church and eventually to a different part of the state.

I reconnected with Alison on Facebook during the past year. I discovered that she and her husband now live in Southern Colorado—practically neighbors in western terms! And I found out that (among other things—she is an amazingly talented woman) she now writes and performs songs. The concert this weekend was celebrating the release of her second CD.singer alison

Alison is an awesome singer…and her songs connect with me on many levels. Most of them tell a story—or at least are based on a story. One of the benefits of hearing her in concert is that she gave us the story behind each song. This made for a wonderful evening of entertainment…but there is more…western singer

Alison was backed by an amazing group of talented musicians. If only I could have taken photos of the collection of instruments behind each man… In addition to the improv musical riffs in the middle of songs, it was enjoyable to watch how much fun each musician was having. If only I could have taken video of the toe-tapping, head bobbing, and body-dancing of these men jamming to the tunes…band

In addition to Alison’s own music, each musician shared one of his own songs, backed up by this talented group. Jakob, Randy and I were scrambling to write down the musician’s names and the pieces they shared. We hope to find some of this music on-line… Have you ever seen a proud, proud mother? Take a look at Alison’s face when her singer-songwriter daughter Emily took a turn as lead singer. (And we can’t wait til Emily someday releases her own CD with her own band—she was even more amazing than Alison!!)proud mama

Finally, as if all of this soaking in and filling up with evocative music wasn’t enough, I got a treat beyond most treats for me: Alison has cello tracks on her CD, and the cellist played in her backup group on Saturday night. Some of you know I’ve played cello since I was in 4th grade (although I haven’t played much recently). Ahhh…my heart sings when I hear good cello music and these tracks were live! I could watch the cellist, see him moving with the music, smiling in joy as he and the other musicians handed off the riffs, doing improv together. Yep, that’s what I said…a cellist doing improv. I didn’t know such a thing existed…but now I’m hungry to try it for myself.cello improv

I’ve played with the idea of playing “fiddle tunes” on my cello…but they really aren’t conducive to the larger instrument size. But improv? IMPROV?? I just might, maybe, be able to do that…

I chatted with the cellist (Mark Dudrow) after the concert. And he gave me a CD of him and a buddy doing cello duets/improv together. And he mentioned that he gives lessons. And now I really, really want to take some of those lessons. (Here’s one you-tube video clip of some of his improv although the cello duets are even more awesome!)cellist mark dudrow

I really don’t know how I can afford the gas money…or the lesson money…or even the time. But my friend Alison says I can stay overnight with her “when” I come up for lessons. And Mark says he is very flexible about lesson times. And even the idea of this makes my heart sing. And I might be able to get some tips via email to get me started. And maybe I could play along to both CDs for practice…and…and…and…

Guess it’s one more thing to add to my “dream list.” I’ve been playing with art for the past few months. Time to add some musical playing as well!

Am I a Real Cowgirl Now?

When I was growing up, I had a favorite hat…a black lacquered cowboy hat. You should have seen my trick riding and roping skills from the back of my favorite (and only) black horse. (Can we just not talk about the horse being on springs? It sounds so much better if my readers think I was an excellent cowgirl on a REAL horse…) I spent hours “practicing” to improve my cowgirl skills.

Eventually I grew up. The hat and the horse stayed at my mom’s to become favorite props for my own kids imagination play. They had the added bonus of cowboy boots added to the dress-up bin, fancy stitched bright red boots, at that!

cowgirl celia

Cowgirl Celia

A few of my kids had fun wearing (cheap) cowboy boots from WalMart. The nice thing with a bunch of kids is that it’s easier to justify fun clothes…there are more kids coming along who will enjoy the hand-me-downs.

cowboy roger

Round 'em up, Wild-man Roger!

Every so often I would try on a pair of cowboy boots…but they never fit right. They pinched my toes. They squeezed my calves in a death grip. They were too tight to get my little fat foot all the way into the boots. And if I ever found a pair I could actually get onto my legs and feet, the heels were too high or the soles were too slippery. I walked out of the store, disappointed yet again.

But then…I went looking for a new pair of comfy leather moccasins for Christmas this past year. I couldn’t find any moccasins (other than slippers) even though we live in Navajoland. (They much prefer wearing cowboy boots to leather moccasins since they more closely identify with the cowboys in Western Movies…but that’s another story for another day.) I gave in and hopelessly started trying on boot after boot after boot. The colors were amazing, the fancy stitching was wonderful, the cutouts were cute, and the prices were scarey. As usual, nothing seemed to fit just right.

Until I tried on a pair of Ariat boots. They are plain boring rusty brown. They have a little bit of stitching, but nothing fancy. The toes don’t have any fancy metal trim. BUT…they fit! They are totally comfortable, from the first moment I tried them on. It wasn’t love at first sight…but it might well have been love at first fitting.

my own boots

My very own cowboy boots...alot more scuffed up by now!

Thanks to my in-laws and my husband, I am the proud new owner of a pair of cowboy boots. Finally, I fit in around here in this wild-west world. I never thought I would say this, but I wear those boots far more often than my tennis shoes.

I still get a little thrill when I look down and see the tips of my boot…MY boots…my very own COWBOY boots…peeking out from under my jeans.

I got the boots of my dreams and I don’t much like wearing hats these days. But what about that black horse?!

I Should Have Been a Travel Agent

...so many websites to check out...

There is something addictive about planning a vacation. So many websites to look at, so many lodging options to choose between, so many possible routes to investigate, so many national parks that might be near the chosen travel path, so many friends to visit, so many possible detours to make. Doing the research and weighing the options can keep me busy for days.

And then there are the lists. I love making lists. By the time I’m done, my bed and the floor beside my bed are covered with various lists: all of the above options must be listed, plus packing lists, shopping lists, lists of probable costs, lists of possible daily schedules. And don’t forget, when the initial lists are covered with too many cross-outs and write-overs, it is time to make new, more legible, more up-to-date lists.

Eventually, all these lists and websites are condensed down into a few master lists with website addresses written down (and bookmarked as favorites). Now it is time to contact friends and family along the proposed route, checking to see who is (and isn’t) available for a visit along the way. Did I say the process keeps me busy for days? Maybe you’d better expand that to WEEKS!

For years, my husband and kids either laugh at me, or ruefully shake their head at me. They can’t imagine why I do this, but they know better than to interrupt the process. They quietly hope that eventually Mom will come back to her senses.

For me? As I said, I love the process. There are so many possibilities in front of me. And with my rose-colored-glasses firmly in place, there are so many happy memories just waiting to be made.

...so many lists to make...

I used to just smile at my family when they made fun of me as I happily continued my quest for fitting the most possible visits and stops into our limited itinerary. Recently, however, I’ve discovered that I’m not alone in enjoying this travel planning process.

Magazines and newspapers have reported the results of a variety of studies researching “happiness.” One consistent finding is that the act of planning a holiday boosts “happiness” for up to eight weeks. These same studies found little correlation between having taken a vacation and happiness levels. (See, for example this article from the NY Times )

Now I have something more to smile about. My family might laugh at me and wish I would just wait and enjoy the vacation. But it turns out I really am the one who benefits most from the holiday. I’m the one that actually gains the happiness…all by my “crazy” process of planning.

I can’t wait for our trip back east to celebrate Thanksgiving with extended family. And in the meantime, you will find me happily looking forward to the vacation: checking that itinerary one more time, looking at the book-marked websites one more time, gathering all the happiness I possibly can from this one simple trip!

Emergency!

I have always been fascinated by medical things. For years I thought I wanted to be an RN (until I learned just how much authority they don’t have!) I dabbled with the idea of becoming a chiropractor, but couldn’t imagine the years of schooling required. Plus, like I explained in an earlier post, I really wanted to be a stay-at-home mom which felt incompatible with massive school debt. Not actually having any medical certifications has never dulled my interest. I’ve read a zillion books over the years about every imaginable facet of medical care, medical research, emergency care, wilderness medicine, and more.

First...ski patrol

Five or six years ago, I started down an interesting path. Like many starts and like many paths, I had no idea where I would eventually end up. It started innocently enough with a late-night ski session with my daughter, Nettie. There was a sign in the window of the First Aid Room—Ski Patrollers Wanted. I went in, “just to talk,” and a few weeks later I started the training program to become a certified Outdoor Emergency Care technician, also known as a “Ski Patroller.”

On the way to the first class, I fell apart in the car. I was shaking and crying and felt sick to my stomach. All I wanted to do was turn around and go home. I called a friend instead. As she prayed for me, I realized I was terrified of rejection. After all, I’m an overweight, older woman. I’m not the glamorous, athletic image most people have of Ski Patrollers. Who was I kidding?! I finally dried my tears, and finished the drive to class. I figured I could quit before paying the fees if it really wasn’t for me…

But…I loved it. I was finally learning and using medical skills. I delighted in the knowledge. I have always been good at memorizing information and taking tests. I really could do this!

...then EMT- Basic

And then in the fall, we started practicals classes. Oops! My mind went blank on the first scenario. I couldn’t think of ANYthing to ask or do. This time, instead of wanting to quit, I got mad. I went home and studied harder, determined to not just pass the eventual tests but to be GOOD at figuring out what to do in an emergency setting.

That first ski season started and I enjoyed the challenge. I could have fun skiing, I could keep my brain active, and I could actually help people while doing so! A friend who went through the classes with me only lasted one season. She hated the pressure. She felt like someone could be harmed or even die if she did not do everything perfectly. On the other hand, I thrived on the challenge. Each time I helped stabilize and treat an injured skier or boarder, all I could think was “if I do everything right I can save this person’s life…or at least make a difference in their recovery.”

someday Paramedic...

I have continued to walk down the path I started “way back when.” I became an instructor for OEC/Ski Patrol. I took the classes and passed National Registry as an EMT-Basic. And now? Now I am getting ready to start classes to become a Paramedic, looking toward to the eventual day when I can get certified to train local Navajo as First Responders.

I laugh when I tell people I finally figured what I want to be “when I grow up” (now that I am almost 50 years old!!) I wanna be a PARAMEDIC! I wanna help people in crisis and potentially save lives in emergencies. I wanna train others to do the same.

Looking back, I think it is quite interesting that one of the few TV shows I ever watched regularly was “Emergency.” Through middle school and high school I thrilled each week to seeing paramedics in action. (Later it was “M*A*S*H* and, more recently, House—all shows with a medical theme.) Now?? One of these days I may be one of them! I may be a “medical professional.”

Did it start with these guys??

Who would have ever imagined??

And YOU? What seeds were planted in your childhood of interests or dreams that you gradually left behind? Which seeds, if reconsidered, might bring enjoyment and fulfillment to your life today? Don’t discount where those paths might lead…

Dreamin’

Most of my life I have had dreams of new things coming, of better things tomorrow. For years, I assumed others walked through life in a similar way. I was sad to learn that is not true. Many, if not most people, get caught up in the busy-ness of today and the mundane tasks on their to-do lists. They rarely think of the future, or if they do, it is with dread of finding more of the same.

I guess I am different. I guess I am a DREAMER.

Now let me clarify… I don’t see myself as a willowy, wander-through-life, never-face-reality sort of dreamer. Nor do I think I am merely a distracted day-dreamer. I envision new things, big or small, to reach for. I envision out-of-the-box solutions to challenges (even just the challenge of boredom). These are not passive dreams, but active ones.

Years ago I found a magnet with a quote by Henry David Thoreau: Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined. That magnet was on my frig at our farm in central Ohio. It moved with me to our condo and later our house in Cleveland. It traveled with me in our RV wanderings. And it has a place of honor in my kitchen today.

Living here in remote New Mexico, trying to make a difference in the lives of people around us is part of living a dream. A few days ago I posted a new “page” on this blog. (You can see it by clicking on the label about dreams on the top of the blog page.) I have made blank scrapbook pages of “someday” dreams, ready to add photos when I reach those dreams (or even just to commemorate first baby-steps towards those dreams).

There is something powerful about being intentional about dreams. I like this quote by T.E. Lawrence:

All men dream but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake in the day to find that it was vanity; but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dream with open eyes to make it possible.

In her book, Write It Down, Make It Happen, Henriette Klauser states “…Once you write down a goal, your brain will be working overtime to see you get it, and will alert you to the signs and signals that…were there all along.” Now I’m not into some sort of magical, voodoo, name-it-and-claim-it scenario. Just because you want something doesn’t mean you will actually get it.

On the other hand, just like when you look at buying a new car and you suddenly see them everywhere you drive, when you write down your dreams, your envisionings, you will indeed begin to see possibilities around you.

I’ve learned that it is not a bad thing to be a “dreamer.” I’ve learned that achieving dreams is not something you have to be good enough for or something limited to only those who deserve to reach their dreams.

I am proud to call myself a DREAMER. What about you?

What do you “dream” of doing…someday? What are you doing to get there, even if it is little baby steps in that direction? Write down a few dreams, or make a blank scrapbook for them. Tell them to somebody—I know I would love to hear them!

Join me…let’s FOLLOW OUR DREAMS!