Sunday, August 31, 2014

Ride Your Skill

Yesterday was the worst day of motorcycling riding I've experienced in 8+ years of riding. I'm grateful that it came now and not in my early days.  Over the years, I have picked up many tips from fellow seasoned bikers which have not been wasted on me.
Tim H., road captain for a day, said that to me one time when we were out riding in a group of 17 bikes. It was my first big group ride and he knew I was scared to death.  Being scared has never stopped me from going but it does cut down on the level of fun. I'm glad I was riding that day to hear him say that to me. I think about it every single ride.
My hubby says this to me on a regular, annoying basis. On the ride home, I got to see first hand how following too close can result in a bad outcome. There was a 50 car pileup on both sides of I-82 due to a sudden microburst of wind that made visibility go instantly to zero. We were fortunate to have not been involved in it. There were no fatalities but I'm quite certain we would have died if we had been involved. I use this advice in all my affairs.
This is my phrase and I live by it daily. When we got home, we discussed how we would have handled the situation if we had come upon that dust storm.  We would have pulled over to wait it out, especially on a motorcycle and double especially on the highway. I never ride when I'm tired, hungry or have too much on my mind.  I just don't.
Once again, a tip my hubby gave me. I've never had to use it until yesterday. Between the wind and the rain, it was a miserable ride but it was do-able. If it had gotten only slightly worse, I would have insisted on pulling over but slowing down and leaning into the wind made it possible for us to get home.
I usually have an extra sweatshirt on my bike for elevation climbs. Not yesterday. Bad move. Luckily, he had a headband in his bag I put around my neck to keep the cold air from going down my jacket.  It's a good idea to carry an extra sweater or shirt anywhere I go.
Sometimes you're going to find yourself in situations you'd rather not be in. Grit your teeth. I'm a believer in life experiences! I used to live in a place where the temperatures got down to 50 below zero on a regular basis. It's what I'm made of.
Okay.  What three word pieces of advice have gotten you through situations?  Tell me, please!
love, susan

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Pattern Interruption

The season is changing and so am I.  I woke up this morning with the idea of pattern interrupt on my mind.  It's a term I heard used last spring in a writing class I participated in and it has been stuck in my brain ever since.
What is it?
Simply put, a pattern interrupt is changing the flow, like when a tree falls into a river.  Water is forced to flow another direction. 
Think about it.
Could your life use a little pattern interruption?
Today I think I'll put my earrings on first and see what matches. Maybe I'll have breakfast for lunch, take a different route to work, call instead of text.
What kinds of things do you do to change it up?  Tell me!
love, susan

Monday, August 18, 2014

Hating on Sundays

I got to spend some time with Lily and
her people on Saturday. Big fun!
A couple of weekends ago I was having a nice conversation with my son via phone. Since their visit here in July we made a commitment to talk more often. I'm not sure if it was my hysterical crying in a phone call shortly after they left that did it but those conversations have been priceless. If you are reading this, my son and precious daughter-in-law, I love you and the sound of your voices.
One of the things we last talked about was hating Sundays. When he said he kinda hates Sundays I knew exactly what he meant. That apple don't fall far from the tree. I don't exactly hate Sundays but the anxiety of only having one day left of what I consider a two-day holiday can be overwhelming.  
What to do with my time?  When my son was about eight years old, he would wake up on Sunday mornings and complain that it was almost time to go back to school. I always laughed but I sure understood what he meant. So I started telling him that he could not complain about Mondays until 8:00pm on Sunday night. I was hoping to divert his attention and get him to enjoy the day without the anxiety of spending it well.
I had to laugh when he brought it up on the phone.  I wake up and think about how I am going to spend my last few hours of freedom. I want to spend them well, like the last few dollars in a bank account. Should I do laundry or can I put it off until the last minute? Road trip or lawn care? Grocery shopping or watch a movie?  It's about the choices. There are just so many choices. I'm hoping that our recent conversation helped in some way.
As I sit here thinking about this last weekend, I once again was able to stuff a lot of fun into it. And truth be told, I did wake up hating Sunday. I got over it pretty quickly but the feeling is always the same. OMG, I only have 15 hours of free time left!
How about you, do you feel like that on your days off?
love, susan

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Manner of Death

It has been a hard week. I'm still wrapping my mind around the death of Robin Williams and trying to figure out why such news devastates me.
Maybe it's because I get it. 
I get what it feels like to see the world in shades of gray.
There have been times in my past when it was hard to get out of bed and function, put on clean clothes, brush my teeth and function at a minimum in my own life, much less a work life, family life, social life.  Honestly, I don't really ever talk about it much.  That's part of the illness. It has a life of its own and it likes living in the darkness. It feeds on it.  I've been there. I'll feel better tomorrow. That's the lie depression tells its sufferer.
When I heard the news, I felt a deep sadness for someone I didn't even know. One more victim of a deadly, silent illness that is so misunderstood by those who have never suffered from it. The stigma and shame. The silence of it is deadly.
See, the thing is, if Robin Williams had died from complications of Parkinson's disease or a swift heart attack, we'd be sad but it would be acceptable.  There has been much debate about the "selfishness" of suicide.  I refuse to get into that debate.  Suicide is just another symptom of depression.  A final symptom.

It's important for me and you to know the signs of depression; the red flags. My hubby has learned my red flags and I'm grateful for that. He knows the right things to say so that I become aware that I am sinking. Because you can't really see depression like you see a broken arm. It is insidious. By the time you are sitting in a dark room for 20 hours as it was reported that Robin Williams was doing, that becomes the new norm. Non-sufferers often times don't fully understand that it is a deep hole one has fallen into and cannot crawl out of without help.

All week I've been thinking about the things over the years
that have kept me away from the edge of that abyss.

Sunshine.  It's like a big battery charger in the sky for me. It's the number one cure for me.
Medication. At times, I have to take it. I hate taking it but when the depression gets bad enough, I'm on the phone with my doctor.
Light box.   A must have for those of us who have seasonal affective disorder.
Writing.  An amazing outlet for me.
Photography.  It's all about light. I'm all about light.
Eating well.  Fresh food, please.
Friends.  Spending time with my peeps.
Walking.  Exercise and fresh air do me wonders.

In closing, I've been wondering all week what goes on the death certificate of one who dies from suicide.  Hanged himself with a belt?  I worked at hospice once for about 18 months. I noted on a majority of death certificates "cause of death" was from urinary tract infections; surprisingly not the major medical issue that put them into hospice care. So, I wish the news would report that Robin Williams died from depression.  I can't bear the thought of what was reported in the news. It was only the manner of death.  He died from an illness many people suffer and I'm one of those people.

The truth is, we're all going to die. What I've learned this week is keep paying attention to the warning signs of depression and not let it take a silent seat in my house. Don't think that it can't happen to you. It happened to a funny, talented, intelligent and loved man who the world adored. Imagine that.

love, susan

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Writing About Writing

Thank you to my online friend, Sora over at Shine Connection, for inviting me to write about writing and share it with her in a sort of blog "tag, you're it" kind of thing.  I love a deadline and a good challenge!
Why do I write what I write:  Well, I just can't help it.  I have to write. My head will explode if I don't. Actually, it's more like my heart will explode more than anything.  I often get all filled up with emotions, usually sappy/happy ones, and writing helps me sort that out. Every day is full of experiences. Weird confession:  I feel like that little boy in the Sixth Sense who said "I see dead people".  While I don't see dead people, I am witness to things that often other people seem to miss and I just gotta write about it, ya know? Do you remember the moment in that movie where Bruce Willis realizes he's dead too? Well, it's kind of like that when I connect with people through my writing. When someone leaves a comment on my blog post, it makes me feel like they maybe saw the same thing I did. I can gage when I have written something in my most genuine voice ... it will always garner comments. If you are not past my weird confession, I'm sorry for that visual.

What are you currently working on?   Next question please.   No, seriously I started writing a memoir that got painful so I have it on the shelf for the time being. Or maybe I got busy.  Or dis-interested. Or (fill in the blank). I just re-signed with a great group of writers over at Unboot Camp with Jacob Norby, which will start in September. Truly, I'm hoping to get back to work on that memoir. It does have a happy ending!  Also, I love blogging. 
How does your work differ from others in the same genre? I don't even know how to answer this question. May I phone a friend, use a life-line, or ask the audience please?

Describe your writing process.  My writing is often inspired by the photographs I shoot.  My first other love is photography. I started this blog almost 3 years ago because I was shooting a lot of photos and really wanted a space where I could explain the images. I take photos almost every day and from those I will often find something to write about. I have developed a habit of writing morning pages (journaling). However, I am much more faithful to writing daily in the fall/winter than I am during summertime. I'll grab a cup of coffee, shut my office door and write a couple of pages ... a mind "dump" so to speak. From there, an idea may "bubble up" and I'll write a blog post. When I'm traveling, I try to keep notes but honestly I have to admit that my ideas are fleeting and if I don't write about them immediately, the ideas are gone. It feels like a mental illness some days. Can anyone relate to that?

Okay, your turn.  If you're a writer and feel inclined, write a post with the above topics and send it to me!  I'd love to hear from you!

love, susan

Goodbye Melissa, You Were Significant

Sad day.  My friend "T" and I went for our Tuesday night coffee and discovered our favorite barrista is leaving us. Seems she is going off to college in Oklahoma.  The nerve of her.
Well, yes. 
Melissa started making our coffees sometime last year. We didn't really notice that she remembered us coming in every Tuesday until we missed a couple of Tuesdays. She mentioned it when we did return and I think that is significant.
So we asked her what her name is and made a commitment to remember her name each Tuesday.  We received the best customer service in the TriCities!
Last night there was a new girl at the counter. She never made eye contact, didn't smile, didn't act excited to see us. What the hell?  I kindly said, "where is Melissa?"  Out of the back I hear her say, "I'm here"!  She had just seriously burned her hand and couldn't work. After a little exchange, she said she is leaving on Friday to get a higher education.  Good for her. Bad for us.
So, I ask the grumpy girl what her name is.  Honestly, I cannot remember what she said.
Wanna make a great impression on someone? 
Make eye contact.
Care enough to give a smile.
Be present.
Just sayin'.
Do you have a favorite significant barrista or hair stylist or nurse? 
Are you being significant? Tell me about it!
love, susan

Monday, August 4, 2014

1,000 Miles

Another trip under our belts this weekend. We took off right after work Thursday and stayed overnight in Salem. We decided to take a different path to our destination, heading over towards the coast instead of taking I-5. We had nothing but time.
Due to a country music festival (Read: Brad Paisley, Dirks Bentley and Eric Church) near Bandon this weekend, and my procrastination in getting a room reserved near our family, we stayed in Coos Bay, which is an hour from our family's place in Port Orford. I have a high school friend who moved to Coos Bay last year so I did  not mind staying there at all as we got to have breakfast with her Saturday morn. What a joy to catch up with her! I've noticed things always work out the way they are supposed to. Leaving Sunday morning from Coos Bay shaved an hour off an otherwise 10 hour driving day. It all matters.
At Cape Arago
The family reunion was wonderful and although it is a long 500 miles to get there, the road weariness drops away the very moment I see my cousins! We're lucky they have opted to host the gathering every year on their property. One of my cousins is married to a fisherman and you know what that means, right?  Fish fry!
This year they added oysters to the table. My husband never quit smiling and I'm pretty sure he had his yearly quota of the slimy stuff this weekend. I saw the guys eating them for breakfast. Whattup with that?  
While some of my favorite cousins (I'm not naming names!) were not there this year, I got to meet some new family. My cousin G's longtime lady is very sweet and she has the most awesome border collie ever! I spent most of Saturday throwing a ball for her. There were also some of the most super cute kids with the best manners I've seen in a long time.
I got to ride in the back of a Ford pickup truck with the kids as we headed to the beach for some fun time. Skipper, the other border collie, rode in the back with me and for a minute I was 13 again.  You can't buy that!
I hope wherever you are that you had a great weekend.
love, susan

You Made My Day, Dude!

A couple weeks ago while I was driving back to Portland after spending the night on the Oregon coast, we came up on some road construction ...