Monday, May 29, 2017

I Am Dixie

Dixie is her name. My friends found her wandering up their busy street about 10 days ago. Apparently her people are not looking too hard for her. She is in foster care now and the group I'm doing photos for will find the best possible home for her. That's what they do.
I'm a bit like Dixie. I wasn't found wandering the streets but my fate was definitely in the hands of kind people early in my life. Perhaps this is why rescuing dogs is important to me. They don't get a choice. They are at the mercy of those who find them and it is up to us to keep them in our network until we know it is safe to let them go.

Today is my 58th birthday, or as someone at work  fondly said, 29 the second the time around.  I like that. I am closer to 60 than 50. Letting that sink in ... just saying it out loud makes me laugh.
Back to mercy.
I was born to a woman who suffered schizophrenia. She had been hospitalized after having three children before me and several psychotic breaks. Once she was institutionalized, she never set foot outside of hospitals and group homes. I met her when I was about 35, and again one more time before she died.
Dixie may never see her people again. I look into her eyes and I think who are you, where are your people, and how can I best serve you?
Scattered thoughts today. In my early years, my birth date was a source of pain. Not because I ever felt abandoned. I never felt that way, not even once. I felt deep sorrow for the woman who delivered me into this world. I wondered if she felt the loss when my birthday rolled around. It wasn't until I met her that I knew for sure that she didn't. The brain disorder and the shitty medication available for the chronically mentally ill didn't allow for that. I find there is a little mercy in that.
Fast forward to today.
I love celebrating my birthday with other people. Today I'm sharing my birthday with a friend's son who is 12. We're going to BBQ and play at the park. I won't be thinking about those sad birthdays I used to have. I'll be thinking about my friends and their kids and how life has a funny way of coming full circle.
I hope Dixie finds people who will love her and keep her like those who found me, past and present.
love, susan

Monday, May 22, 2017

When All is Said and Done ~ End of May Life List

Looking Out My Window Nothing but blue skies and smooth sailing. We are officially into summer weather now. Thank kuriste, as my husband would say. In our parts, we probably won't see rain until October.
As I Ponder The weekend was one whirlwind event after another. I did a maternity shoot early Saturday morning, then we drove to Portland to the celebration of life for my stepdaugther's mother. It is a 4-hour drive and we drove back late Saturday night. So glad we went. More on that in a minute.
What I'm Learning My photo shoot on Saturday gave me another excuse to keep practicing this photography thing. I am terrible at changing my settings with the changing light. We were out in the open at the beginning but ended up back in the trees and I forgot to change my settings. Dang it. I need to find a way to remind myself to do that every time I go out. Luckily, I got nearly 200 images and some really good ones so I'm not without nice photos to give them but still.
What I'm Creating  I planted flowers this weekend and I'm trying some new ones this year.
What I'm Reading I finished Bright Line Eating: The Science of Living Happy, Thin, and Free by Susan Peirce Thompson, Ph.D.  There is so much in the book that I highlighted and resonated with. The author is a recovered alcohol and meth addict. She speaks my language. One line from her book that I can get down with is I don't have to decide today that I'm doing this forever. As a matter of fact, I never have to decide that. I do this one day at a time. I am currently on Day 22 without any refined sugar or flour of any kind. Feeling great. The "Free" she talks about in the title of this book is, for me, freedom from that non-stop voice to keep eating.
What I'm Watching I never turned the TV on even once last week. Summer is here!
What's On My Camera I'm going to share one of my outtakes from the maternity session. Their dogs were wonderful but a bit playful and it was hard to get a everyone looking at me at once.
A Peek Into My Week I don't think I have one event on my schedule but the weather is forecasted to be in the 90's so I'll be spending some evenings outside soaking it up.
A Final Thought As we celebrated Wendy's life on Saturday, I was struck by how comfortable it felt to be there. I normally avoid funerals, baby showers and Tupperware parties like the plague. This was different. Just three weeks ago, it had been planned to be her birthday party. How quickly things changed and she died. Her daughter decided to go ahead and make it a birthday party/celebration of life. Pictures of Elvis were placed at one table. The last bottle of wine she had purchased the week before sat at another table, and her favorite homemade dinner by her sister of meatballs and spaghetti was enjoyed by many. Dessert was her favorite lemon meringue pie. She would have loved it. We need to celebrate more. And, often.
love, susan

Thursday, May 18, 2017

529 Working Days

That's right. I've got 529 official working days until I throw in the towel on this work thing. I have been thinking about retirement every single day since my good friends from high school have been ribbing me about it. 

I know I should be happy about it but truthfully I worry that I won't have enough structure in retirement. I've been getting up and going to work almost every day of my life since I turned 18, and even before then. I'm afraid I'll be like a fat kid in a candy store.  Don't have to get up, can stay in my jammies all day if I want. You know what I mean? 

The truth is I really like working most days. It's just that every day as I am walking out to the car, I see weeds that need pulled, I have guilt over not walking my dogs, and lots of stuff that needs to get done. 

I've had two full summers off in my 40 years of work life. One summer when my son was 12, I took a leave of absence to spend 3 months with him. We wrote a list of things we wanted to do that summer. It was terrific. We hiked, took picnics, went to the movies, rode our bikes. When I went back to work in September, I ended up leaving that job. I hadn't realized how stressful it had become until I took that hiatus. I ended up at the AG's office in the most boring job I've ever held. I had to learn how to pace down, which is really not my style. Thankfully, I had a hilarious co-worker who kept me in stitches. Mary, if you're reading this, thanks for the memories! 

Fast forward to my second summer off which turned into a 22,000 mile road trip to Alaska and then across the United States mid-states to West Virginia and home to Arizona via Florida, Mississippi, and the dreaded Texas. Best road trip EVER! Digital cameras were not quite afforadable then and I was too cheap to snap too many images. I'd like a do over on that.

What will I do in retirement? Well, I have 529 working days to think about that. Hopefully, my employer won't read this. They don't pay me for that. 

I've watched 5 women in my office retire in the last two years. I see the angst they suffer as it gets closer. I wonder how I can avoid that?

love, susan

Monday, May 15, 2017

Women Helping Women - A Post Mother's Day Life List

Looking Out My Window Sunshine. Beautiful sunshine.
As I Ponder The last 7 days have been a huge emotional roller coaster for my hubby and me. The mother of his children had been on hospice care since Christmas and she reached the end of her life this weekend. It was awful and it was beautiful. More on that in my final thoughts.
What I'm Learning Relationships in my life continue to rise to new levels that I never thought possible. At almost 58, I am awestruck by this.
What I'm Creating I'm putting together an album of photos I've taken over the last 3 years for a young person who is graduating from high school. In these digital days, hardly anyone makes prints but I'm going to do it because I think she'll treasure it later on in life.
What I'm Reading I'm almost finished with Bright Lines Eating by Susan Peirce Thompson, Ph.D. If you are reading this post and you have struggled with a sugar addiction, I highly recommend this book. It is a game changer!
What I'm Watching I watched Manchester by the Sea on Amazon Prime. I liked it. Many people did not.
What's on My Camera I shot this photo minutes after our loved one died yesterday. It had been cloudy all day and once she took her last breath, the sun appeared. She was not a sun worshipper like I am. It felt right that the sun shined after such an awful 7 days.
A Quote I Want to Share Sometimes all we can do is provide a warm silence to those who are grieving. This was said to me a very long time ago by a hospice co-worker. It came in handy this week.
A Peek Into My Week I'm going to enjoy all my waking moments. Life is to be lived.
A Final Thought I just came home from a quick trip to Portland to be of service to my stepdaughter as she cared for her dying mother at home. There had been a few other selfless helpers this week, along with her dad and aunt, to ease the burden. My timing was right for making the trip as I am not sure I could have held up under the amount of stress and sleep deprivation these events command. I became the coffee maker, the laundry doer, the grocery shopper, and at the end a helper in one last bed change before it was over. I was most struck by watching her and her aunt's hands as they lovingly held another mother's hand, stroked her hair, kissed her forehead during her last hours here on earth. It seemed no coincidence that she died on Mother's Day. Women helping women. Mothers helping mothers. Being born and giving birth is not easy and neither is dying, most times. We really don't know what we're made of until our backs are up against the wall. I'm so proud of my stepdaughter and her unfailing commitment to see her mother to the end, in a place she wanted to be, under the most trying circumstances. I'll never forget the images of yesterday. And, to the other women helpers who came to encourage, give hugs, make us laugh, cry with us ... every person had a part. I love that.
love, susan

Monday, May 8, 2017

New Day, New Week: A Life List

Looking Out the Window Clear, blue skies! We had a huge lightening and thunder storm blow through here Thursday night that was spectacular but it dumped a bit of rain in its path and a cold air trailed it. This week promises warmer temps all the way up to 86 on Wednesday.
As I Ponder I have a saying that I learned from my son that has helped me through a tremendous amount of things in my life. New day. That's it. Simple and complete. Sometimes I can drag stuff around like a sack of rocks for too long and it is exhausting. Today is a new day. Blank page. I'm gonna fill it with color and love!
What I'm Learning I've been shooting photos for an animal rescue group the last month and it has spurred growth for me. Last week, I was given a short list of shot types they would like to have for images. I printed it and took it with me so I could work hard to get the shots they want. Yesterday I was introduced to a Mastiff! After about 30 minutes of trying to get this girl to lose her frown, her foster mom said that's how they look all the time. Good to know! My thought process shifted and I quit trying to get an expression that was never going to come. I'm a slow learner.
What I'm Creating With this new volunteer venture, I started an online folder for all the rescues I'm photographing. The rescue lady said she is hoping to do a calendar this year so she wants me to set aside images that might go in the calendar. Squeeeeee!
What I'm Reading Bright Line Eating: The Science of Living Happy, Thin, and Free by Susan Peirce Thompson, Ph.D.  I am a third of the way in and let me tell you that I am savoring every word in this book. Today will be Day 8 with no refined sugar or flour of any kind. I was ready for this change. More on this later. This book deserves its own blog post.
What I'm Watching I watched several episodes of Grace & Frankie this weekend. I have fallen in love with this series. There are so many things I can relate to in it and for those of us older women, there many taboo subjects addressed in this funny drama. I LOVE IT.
What's On My Camera
A Quote I Want to Share From Bright Line Eating ... the state I was left in between fixes absolutely felt like the absence of pleasure .... I would have to go get more to escape.  Not to get high, but to get normal. When we look at food, it's the exact same story.
A Peek Into My Week I've got a lunch date with a long-time friend. She has invited me to her house for a home-cooked lunch. It will be nice to have her undivided attention. We rarely see each other and it is always in the company of other people. I'm hoping to get some flowers put in and spend some time outdoors with my dogs.
A Final Thought I am taking a different approach to things this week. Attitude is everything. I am continually surprised by the events that cause me to grief. I'm having some growing pains but I'll survive them ... with grace and dignity. I'm grateful for the good friends I have who help me through.
love, susan

Monday, May 1, 2017

May Day, May Day ~ Life List

Looking Out My Window We are going into the 90's this week. My kind of weather. Too bad I'll be sitting behind a desk but the good news is that it is perfect weather for being outdoors after 5.
As I Ponder I had a great weekend. Saturday was spent all day at the dog adoption event at Columbia Park. I picked up Buddy at 7:30am and he was with me until 2:30pm. He was the best dog ever! Lots of dogs were adopted at the event and there certainly was interest in Buddy but he won't get to go home with just anyone. The screening process is rigorous, as it should be. He deserves a one-time, forever home. Photo below.
What I Am Learning I've been suffering insomnia all winter and it appears it won't be going away anytime soon. I think this is my new normal. As long as I can catch a second wind late in the afternoon, I can keep going. It helps to have plans in the evenings. Once I sit down, it's over.
What I'm Creating I had my camera out on Saturday and took some photos for the rescue team I recently got involved with. Love love LOVE taking photos of dogs. I've created a folder in my OneDrive for this organization and perhaps later on I'll do something creative with all my favorite photos. I have about a dozen or more black and whites hanging up at my friends' doggie daycare and have been receiving a lot of interest from people wanting their dogs photos taken. I had some business cards made up and my friends will hand them out. At this time, I am not interested in shooting for $$ but I put on the card "Will Work for Coffee". I hope I collect enough coffee cards to get keep me in tall lattes for the next year. Barb, if you are reading this, that's progress for me!
What I'm Reading Just downloaded a new book called Bright Line Eating: The Science of Living Happy, Thin and Free. I'm not going to talk much about it here but I'll say that today is Day 1 of a 30 day commitment to cutting flour and sugar completely out of my diet. I'm taking it one day at a time. I'll get back to you on this at the end of 30 days.
What I'm Watching The only show I watched this week was CBS Sunday Morning, which happens to be the only program I will purposely watch. They featured Hall & Oates for their musical guest. Loved it!
What's On My Camera I feel like I'm coming alive again after a seriously long, hard winter. I'm keeping my battery charged because people are ready for pictures. 
A Quote I Want to Share
It is better to want what you have than to have what you want.  ~ Proverb quotes 
A Peek Into My Week I am going to watch a friend at her first day of doggie training on Wednesday. She is adopting a hound dog! I'll get photos and bring them back here for next week. It will be nice to go to class and have my hands free to take pictures. I am having lunch today with a friend at work who is leaving for another job. My co-worker who sits next to me is going to move to another position after this week. I'm going to try to not be sad about it but I adore her and will miss her bright light every day. I have photo shoots set up for next weekend, both days. I love having plans!
A Final Thought Need more coffee, please.
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 ...