My 30 Day Challenge

      I’ve  been interested, for awhile, in doing a 30 day challenge on my blog. But, like everyone, I couldn’t find a topic, or series of topics, that really grabbed my interest. And, also, like Hamlet, I usually talk myself out of action before I start. I get discouraged about the whole “30 days” thing. I know I can keep up for a week, maybe even two, and then the dissipation and discouragement would set in. So, I quit before I would even start.

This time, however, I am going to take a great big step, flail at my biggest dragon and commit to a 30 day challenge. I am going to post a picture to my blog for 30 days straight. I am not going to attach any written words to my pictures. I am only going to tell you now that they will be pictures that say something about my life. There might be people, or places, or things in these pictures and there will always be clues hidden in the images that say something about me and my life. How I feel, what I think, what I do, who I love, for example. I will let the photo use one of the thousand words at its disposal to tell you something about me.

I hope you come on this journey with me.

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“…and the nights were cold.”

“I had a farm in Africa at the foot of the Ngong Hills.

I have a farm in the middle Kootenays, at the foot of a mountain.

The Equator runs across these highlands, a hundred miles to the north, and the farm lay at an altitude of over six thousand feet.

The ferry runs across this very water, valiantly struggling against the pull of the current, and the farm lies tucked in a northern corner.

In the day-time you felt that you had got high up; near to the sun, but the early mornings and evenings were limpid and restful, and the nights were cold.”  (Isak Dinesen)

In the day-time, I feel the crackle in the air from the raging power-lines, and in the evening the breeze blows through my house. And the nights are cold.

I’ve always maintained that Amelia Earhart is my heroine. A spunky, attractive woman who took a prominent role in a male-dominated occupation. She was also extremely intelligent and creative. Have you ever read her poetry? And what better way to seal your persona in an enigmatic mystery for eons to come, then to disappear of the face of the earth? Who wouldn’t want to emulate this charming and delightful woman who is always pictured with a carefree breeze ruffling her hair in such an appealing way? But for sheer romantic-heroism, for shiver-inducing images that are created with beautifully picked and impeccably placed words, I seek out Karen Blixen. A woman who accepted adventure and remained refined in the face of life’s sordidness. Despite great heartbreak and devastation, she continued to be a woman who could tell a great story.

I’m off to the library. Hope they have “Winter’s Tales”, because I need to read a wonderful story told by a valiant woman who tilted at her own futile windmills.

Where do all the lost things go?

Lately, my passion has been finding out where all the lost things go. Lost things have a strong pull on our hearts. When something lost is returned to us, it’s like an unexpected package, wrapped up in paper and string. Postage paid with a hope and a prayer. Mostly though, possessions come into your life and the next thing you know, they’re gone.  Without warning, without leaving a trail of bread crumbs, those belongings up and light a shuck for parts unknown. Sometimes you think maybe it was only in your head, maybe the things never existed in the first place. No one in your home seems to have any memory of the item you’re searching high and low for. For sure, no one else is going to find it for you. And it’s one thing when The Lost is a sock or a sweater, but it’s excruciating when it’s a person.  How do you recover lost connections? Often, when you pick them up in your hands, after stumbling across an old letter or seeing a picture online, you expect the cozy warmth of shared memories, fun times, but, unfortunately, they spark and burn in your hands. Some things, apparently, you never get back.

Some things you lose are worth crying over, like your innocence or your sparkle or your heart. If only your heart could be dropped in the ubiquitous “Lost & Found” box that sits in your child’s school hallway. That unassuming box, stuffed to overflowing with mismatched mittens, pom-pom topped toques and gnarly sweaters is a pulsing beacon, beckoning the lost. Lost clothing lays there forlorn until rapturously reclaimed and borne home to be petted and loved. Too bad our heart, soul and lost loves couldn’t be returned to us with such wonderful simplicity.

A crisis without change is failure.

I like words. I sometimes wonder if my love of reading has nothing to do with the story itself but with the fact that all those words are lining up and filling in the empty spaces on the blank page. Painting a picture in my head with their little pixels of colour until the whole is realized. Using their pinpricks of emotion to create a tattoo of love, or hate or anger on my heart.

Recently, I pointed out to someone that the addition of an ‘r’ to “toque” (a lovely, Canadian word, BTW) makes “torque”. Two disparate things. Although, not getting “your toque in a torque” has a certain ring to it. And that got me thinking about the word “crisis”, for some reason. One can have A crisis or, in my case, many crises. I think women should be categorized as having mid-life crises, not just one crisis. A crisis feels like a one time thing. Something unexpected that happens and that you get over in a little while. My child is  getting ready to leave the nest, aging parents are demanding more of my time and energy and the job, or lack of it, is a dead-end street on Hell’s cul-de-sac. This is not just one problem, they are many problems. And I haven’t even mentioned the depression that comes with watching my body fall apart.

So, I think I’m experiencing my mid-life crises. I don’t know what they’re going to look like. I don’t know how long they’re going to last. But I do know that I want to meet them with a certain amount of foggy romanticism like Don Quixote. I don’t want to work out or journal or take long baths. I want to take on villains only I can see. I want my faithful friends to stand with me and support my incalculable disillusions and treat me like a hero. I don’t care if I’m laughed at, as long as it’s behind my back. I don’t care if I’m the butt of jokes, as long as they go over my head. I’m waiting for something I can tackle with impunity because aging is just too big of a giant. I prefer to tilt at spinning wheels.

If this isn’t ageism, why do I feel so old?

age·ism also ag·ism

// (jzm)

n. Discrimination based on age, especially prejudice against the elderly.

I am not elderly. But I am over forty. I am still raising young children, I regularly step on pieces of Lego as I make my way across the living room floor and I still negotiate disputes over who gets the plate painted with an ugly blue dragon at dinner time. These activities keep me immersed in the part of my life that has everything to do with staying appearing  young and yet I have this uncanny feeling that the bottom is about to drop out. Like I am poised on the edge. I am stepping over the brink. I am standing with one foot in the halcyon crayon days of my youth and am about to step into the disordered devolution of old age.
I don’t think I have necessarily experienced prejudice directed towards my age, but I do have a job coach. Which is something I wouldn’t have needed in my twenties. I don’t know her very well and I really don’t think she knows me at all. She knows my name, a bit of my work history (as per my resume) and she tells me I don’t have any barriers to employment. Hhmmm. Doesn’t feel like that to me.  Isn’t age a barrier? Isn’t being a woman a barrier? Isn’t taking time off work to raise my kids and then trying to enter the work force again, having lost those essential years of “experience”, a barrier?
Perhaps the most intimidating barrier is my inability to manage the hours, days and years allotted to me. If I’d known they were all going to slip through my fingers so quickly, I would have grabbed on to some of them. I would have held them in a choke-hold and strangled every last bit of living out of them. I would have made them tell me their secrets and perhaps my life would have been richer, more fulfilled. Or, at least, I would have corralled a few years together and forced them to provide me a career. But, alas, even now, as the clock keeps ticking, I am involved in picking up Lego and am washing the dragon plate so it will be ready for supper. And, after all, maybe that is the essence of the secrets those nymph-ish, willful hours are trying to impart.

“…a lance in the rack, an aged shield, a worn out horse…

…and a greyhound for running.” So begins the romantic epic, Don Quixote.

Much of my domestic life at home feels like it runs parallel to that old man’s tragic story. I often wonder if raising children, staying married, balancing the chequebook and keeping ahead of the dirty laundry doesn’t really require mental fortitude but only a certain amount of insanity. If only I were insane enough to not recognize the innate futility in some of the things I do. If only I were mentally imbalanced enough to not recognize that being a mother often makes you the butt of some really big cosmic jokes. Often, I feel like I roll out of bed every morning, take my lance from the rack (coffee), pick up my aged shield (daily devotions), and kick the worn out horse (beat-up Honda) awake so I can begin the daily battles.  Or, should I say, my quests. My heroic, often misled, quests.

For example, I have been trying magnificently to stop my youngest child from emitting horrendously long and loud burps in public. He tells me he tries to hold them in his mouth until he gets to the bathroom to let them out but by that time, they’ve already gone to his stomach. How can I rage against this perfect logic? I lack the insight which would lead me to see this stalemate as a romantic challenge waiting for me to bring it to a chivalrous outcome. Instead, I suck on my coffee and go lay down. I’m at a loss. My windmills are mundane and sometimes, well, just kinda’ gross. But no less threatening, seen from the same point of view. I think I just lack the man from la Mancha’s insulating layer of warm, cozy insanity.

Here I am, however, still tilting at spinning-wheels.