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Sunday, June 26, 2016

Chatting with TheBrains on a Sunday Morning

It's a perfect summer Sunday morning and I'm all alone in a sparkling clean house. The air is warm and slightly humid but not at all enervating. It's simply delicious. I can hear a cardinal going "boidee boidee boidee" outside the open front door. I'm sure he's saying "It's mine It's mine It's Mine" but I sometimes pretend he's saying "come out come out come out". 

 There's also an indigo bunting trilling its fluttery song further out along the edge of the field. This year that field is full of corn. It's so tall it makes a green convertible tunnel for the lane to bisect. It won't stay green. It is, after all, a harvest crop and we all want it to ripen into golden food, but right now, and for the next week or so, it'll be very Oz-like in its greenness.

I woke up sliding around on brand new Laura Ashley sheets all sprinkled with blue flowers. This was a rare purchase on Friday as I hunted and gathered things to spruce up my house. I never buy printed sheets ... not because I don't like the idea of printed sheets (Florence King and I will agree on that) but because I don't like the colors or the designs in housewares these days. I haven't been able to find a quilt or bedspread I like in 20 years!! I don't need quiet muted grey and taupe colors to calm me down - I want beauty - I want to sleep either in clouds or a bed of flowers. I mean - I'm the gal with the enchanted forest and who puts herself to sleep by taking imaginary trips in the Magic Flying Bed.

RIGHT BRAIN: psst. psst. that's not true. You found that Williamsburg blue and white one you liked - you know, printed like toille.

LEFT BRAIN:Hush your mouth. You know what she's talking about. that's the Only one she found and when it has to be cleaned there isn't a spare to rotate with.

Oh hello. I hoped you two would pop out.

LEFT BRAIN:We're always here.

Yes. I know. You two are the analytical and the emotional sides of our consolidated whole. Just in case our vast readership was wondering, you know.

RIGHT BRAIN: Yeah. and I sometimes resent the fact that you use a devil to represent me in that other place we blog.

LEFT BRAIN:It was the only choice she had among those emoticons. Besides, I bet you are secretly pleased to be thought the devilish side of us.

RIGHT BRAIN: LOL. You're right. I do like being a little ... um ... naughty.

LEFT BRAIN:I thought so. And if you want something different, Miss Arty-pants, you'll have to draw it.

RIGHT BRAIN: I'm workin' on it.

Hey you two. Don't get into an argument - not on this gorgeous day. This last Sunday of June. I want to totally thoroughly completely savor this day. With watermelon for breakfast.


LEFT BRAIN:And nutritious. And we won't argue. And if I sounded snippy, I apologize. Who knew how hard it was going to be to translate our artistic idea. And it's not as if you-know-who hasn't been trying.

RIGHT BRAIN: It's okay. I felt you just wanted to show off your linguistic skills. I didn't mind.

LEFT BRAIN:LOL. Touche. Sometimes it seems as if the emotional side of us is all complaints and sadness and frustration when really most of the time you're full of kindness and joy. I appreciate that about you.

RIGHT BRAIN: Just like I appreciate how your list making and rule following don't just keep us safe, they make unpleasant things go by faster. They're efficient.

Well. This is all good. I'm glad to hear you two are both in a good place. Especially since this has been a struggling 6 months.

LEFT BRAIN:Even longer, when you think about how hard December was with that massive change to Weight Watchers.

RIGHT BRAIN: Oh la, yes. I still feel the pinch of how angry I was.

LEFT BRAIN:You're okay now, though, aren't you?

RIGHT BRAIN: Yeah. But it's harder to stick with it now.

LEFT BRAIN:Is it? I mean - a year ago we hadn't been at goal for months and months and this year we've been at goal since March. Don't you think that just cutting back on sugar makes it quick to get back to goal when we slide away from it?

RIGHT BRAIN: Hmmm. well. I don't think, but if I did, I feel like I'd think that. Yeah.

LEFT BRAIN:(shoves gently) You goof. I think it anyway. I know it.

So tell me now how you two feel about the present. What you think we should do to go forward. You have both seemed more peaceful and confident this past week. What brought about the turnaround?

RIGHT BRAIN: I can't tell if it was just emotional overload or if something really shifted

LEFT BRAIN:Mercury is no longer going retrograde

RIGHT BRAIN: But suddenly it felt as if everything is going to be alright.

LEFT BRAIN:Yeah. Even if those things don't go the way I thought they should go - for them to be alright, y'know.

RIGHT BRAIN: There you have it. If LadyGrammar here will end a sentence with "y'know" then ... for sure we're more relaxed and maybe we care less.

LEFT BRAIN:And of course, we got really good advice from our secret team member, Martha Beck. Remember? On how to tame the scary things? Here it is:

Today, look upon your life, your bank account, your family, each person you meet, as a wild horse. If a problem looks difficult, relax. If it looks impossible, relax even more. Then begin encouraging small changes, putting just enough pressure on yourself to move one turtle step forward. Then rest, savor, celebrate. Then step again. You’ll find that slow is fast, gentle is powerful, and stillness moves mountains.
~ Taming Wild Mustangs...Insight From Martha Beck ~

And when we tried it - we slid forward 3 whole spaces!

RIGHT BRAIN: It sure felt like we did.

LEFT BRAIN:We got that credit thing done and backed out of that Tuesday commitment ...

RIGHT BRAIN: LOL. and even found time for some retail therapy!

LEFT BRAIN:Yes. And we all know how much you love you some retail therapy. And doesn't it feel good to have the refrigerator cleaned? Don't you love those clear plastic organizers so you can pull out the bin of nuts or the bin of grains without having to paw through all that clutter?

RIGHT BRAIN: Yes. I've said it before. I love your organizing skills. I'm even willing to take out one thing for every new thing we add - especially new clothes.

LEFT BRAIN:Ahhh. Yes. That is really nice. And I don't mind us buying new clothes or things, so long as we can de-clutter as we go.... and, of course, so long as we don't spend money we don't have to spend.

Well. This all sounds very hunky-dory and happy and such. Just wanting to be sure, though. How about the crisis in the county government?

LEFT BRAIN:Oh that. It will sort itself out.

RIGHT BRAIN: And it isn't our responsibility. We should only pick up our own suitcase.

Okay - what about the national elections?

LEFT BRAIN:Same thing.

RIGHT BRAIN: Even more, probably.

What about the Hoskins Book?

LEFT BRAIN:Eh. You know we'll get it done.

RIGHT BRAIN: And you better stop bringing up stressful things or I'm going to lose my summertime carefree feeling.

LEFT BRAIN:No no. If there's something buried inside you'll become so frustrated you'll explode with something destructive and painful. Better look at it now and decide about it. Do you dread finishing it?

RIGHT BRAIN: No. No. I'm just so deeply bored with it. It's only fun to work on when H is here.

LEFT BRAIN:Well, she'll be back tomorrow. We can draw on her energy to get it done. And you will be happy when it's done, now, won't you?

RIGHT BRAIN: Oh gawd yes. I'll be so relieved it's over I'll have to be happy. I can't wait to cross it off your list.

LEFT BRAIN:Good. Then, to make you feel really happy, let's promise each other that every day until it's done we do something to push it forward. I'll make a list of steps.

RIGHT BRAIN: Oh. You mean a promise?

LEFT BRAIN:I mean a Vow!


LEFT BRAIN:Remember - you will be soooooooo happy when you never ever ever have to think about it


LEFT BRAIN:OR feel about it ever ever ever again in your whole life!

RIGHT BRAIN: (giggles) You are so right. Okay. That's a goal worth aiming for. I promise. No. I VOW!

LEFT BRAIN:Great. I bet you feel better already.


This is good. So. So what about the focus groups?


LEFT BRAIN:Hush. Calm. She's right. What about them?

RIGHT BRAIN: What about that walk in White Oak Swamp? What about my watermelon breakfast?

LEFT BRAIN:Breakfast can wait. What about clearing out all the clutter in our heart?

RIGHT BRAIN: Sigh. Okay. What about those focus groups?

LEFT BRAIN:Well. What if we set a deadline of Friday to have them designed and a letter of invitation written and a complete list of key people we want to include? July 1. Think we could do that?

RIGHT BRAIN: Hmmm. Yes. I'll bring my energy.

LEFT BRAIN:Great. I'll bring my sheet of paper and pen for list making.

Well now. This is even more goodness. Now I have only one more thing to ask.


LEFT BRAIN:What is it?

It's about You Know What - and what we are wanting - and how we have let things slide - and how we have not been honest in the most tee-tiny molecular steps and how making all those head-ducking choices has finally coalesced into TheBigUnhappy.

RIGHT BRAIN: Darn you! I thought I could keep that secret from you.

Sorry honey. You can't keep secrets. You can only tell lies to us. In the end you'll always expose the secret through unhappiness and depression and acting out.


That's the way it is. We're ALL in this together. And when you hurt, all of us hurts. All of me hurts. So - don't you think we should sit down and--

LEFT BRAIN:Make lists! Make a list of things we want that we're not getting and a list of things we are doing secretly that are totally harmless but display who we really are and make another list of things we don't like and want changed and

RIGHT BRAIN: Oh lordy. She's on a roll.

Yes. Just what I was hoping for. But you have to help her. Admit it. Even letting yourself imagine you're helping her has already made you feel happier, hasn't it?

RIGHT BRAIN: Yeah. It's sooooo scary though. So scary to show people who you really are.

I know. But if you don't show people who you really are, they'll accidentally step all over you and hurt you way more than they would if you let them see you. The worst someone can do when she sees you and doesn't like you is to reject you. And honestly - why would you care if somebody rejects you? If she did, she'd be the crazy one. She'd be wrong.

RIGHT BRAIN: (chuckles) I'd forgotten that.

Well, remember it.

 LEFT BRAIN:Yes. Remember it. And help me with that list too. This week. Promise.

RIGHT BRAIN: Oh lord. More promises.

LEFT BRAIN:Yes. Promise me on this one too. Don't worry. I'm not asking you to post that list. Just make it. So you can bring it out when the time is right.

RIGHT BRAIN: Fair enough. Okay. I'll join you. But not right now. Right now it's breakfast time. And Enchanted Forest time.

LEFT BRAIN:And pack up the winter sweaters time.

RIGHT BRAIN: Yeah. and clean out the battery drawer time

LEFT BRAIN:And roll out that rug time

RIGHT BRAIN: And clean out the back porch cabinet time

Alright you two. what it sounds like is Procrastination time.


I know. It only sounded like it - I know some things take time to cook. Just so long as you get to this important happiness making project soon. In a "timely" manner.



RIGHT BRAIN: I hope you don't have any more questions.

Nope. I'm done.

LEFT BRAIN: RIGHT BRAIN: Thank goodness.

Friday, June 17, 2016

It Got Better

After posting on Sunday - and then hearing that dreadful news from Florida - BD and I took a walk to a very special forest and meandered its fairy tale-ish mossy green paths. I hadn't been there for weeks because it has been under water - which is stupid because I own high end rubber fisherman's boots - boots meant to keep you both comfortable and firmly rooted even when the deck is awash and tilting. I could slosh through any puddle a month of rain could lay in my path. But for sure - I know this special bit of woods is a healing place and I should never, ever think I'm in too much of a hurry to stop there and let it perform its magic on me.

RIGHT BRAIN:  She's right, you know.  All too often you zip on home without stopping to take advantage of that gift

 LEFT BRAIN: I know. And you feel too down in the dumps to believe, or even remember, that it only takes 10 minutes to feel that magic.

And that magic is palpable.The first time I felt it was way back around '89 or '90, when I had my first experience of Life After a Library Budget Cut. I'd been through many personal budget cuts ... i. e. being flat stone cold broke ... but that was always my issue. I just hadn't found a job yet. I could do something about it. This was different. This involved OtherPeople'sMoney. Our little library was then in its infancy and was operating on the thinnest of shoestrings.  Suddenly there was a revenue shortfall - probably the result of the savings and loan debacle - and $ for libraries took a massive hit. I was so depressed I couldn't even look forward to going to work. That 35 acres of woods had recently been cut and the jumble and tumult of regrowth had made it a Sleeping Beauty tangle of briers and thorns.  BD took a machete and hacked a sort of path out of the wilderness and I walked through it for the first time.

It wasn't even pretty. It was winter, all bleak and brown and dead leaves. It was a wild tangle of greenbriar, blackberry and holly leaves. You couldn't walk there without scratching your arms to shreds and still yet - in the middle of it all I felt the magic. The peace. The assurance that as dreadful as things get - the earth still breathes her gentle, cradling pulse up and around and through and into you. And like Antaeus - we can draw strength from our mother too - we can heal and stand tall and shuck off suffering and straighten our shoulders - not to lift a heavy burden but to realize that the burden is not so heavy.  I walked out of there knowing there was work to do, but confident that I could do it.  And I did.

And I have known since then that there was a magical place I could go to for healing. Over the years,the tangle has resolved itself into a forest and then our darling Randy came along to make the paths wider - YAY - but rougher, as he cleared away the leaf loam and revealed the tree roots. He also triggered another of nature's amazing tricks - for when the damp paths have no leaves on them emerald green moss, dotted with pale bluets, will spread atop them.  Imagine, if you can, the dark green of a heavily shaded forest with a bright green network of paths woven all about. Here you can duck the heat of the sun. Here you can imagine pixies and fairies, elves and sprites, peeking at you from behind a fat white oak or a fringed cypress tree. Here there is a place for all of nature's land magic. Here you are not in the seat of dominion but in the throng of earth's family. Here - if you let yourself, you can restore your soul to peace and calm.

On Sunday I spent several hours there and Monday, on the way home, I realized that it would take only 10 minutes to top up my peacefulness tank if I just pulled off the road and got out of the car. Nothing I had to do at home was as important as seeking the healing. So I did just that. In my work attire, shoes that were definitely not walking shoes, I slipped beneath the caress of the trees, down a path till I was just out of sight of the road, and soaked in the magic.

For sure - there is ALWAYS enough time to soak in the magic.

RIGHT BRAIN: So don't listen to her

  LEFT BRAIN: And don't listen to her either.

 LEFT BRAIN:  RIGHT BRAIN:   LOL listen to us both. Stop on the way home and take a walk.

I won't. Or I will. I'll remember that we are responsible for making our own selves happy. It's a choice.

Friday, June 10, 2016

It Gets Better

At least, I hope it does. Memorial Day weekend I had a mini meltdown and that sort of spilled over into the greater household. A tough week followed and last weekend wasn't really any easier. I felt like a Hank Williams song.

Even when the pressure began to lessen as this week progressed I still found myself channeling my Inner Mr. Darcy - who, to quote Miss Elizabeth Bennet was "of an unsocial, taciturn disposition, unwilling to speak, unless we expect to say something that will amaze the whole room, and be handed down to posterity with all the eclat of a proverb.”

Whence my continued bloglessness. 

And as I've tried to work my way through this without, you know, weeping in my cereal or at county meetings, I've suddenly realized that, while I have some legitimate issues stressing me out - most of which are not fare for public consumption - the habit of trying to make Everything Come Out Alright has prompted me to pick up burdens that aren't even mine and toss them onto my back.

As if I've been gathering party favors for a Pity Party.

I think it's time for a pow wow with TheBrains. So you two ... what's going on?

RIGHT BRAIN:  Ahh Ahh Ahh  TheBudget! TheElections! TheCommittee! TheBook! SummerReading! TheBoard! TheHusband! FatFatFat! AIIEEEEE!  It's all going to crash down into a conflagration and anyone who survives will be living in
After the world is left devastated by a vampire pandemic in Jim Mickle's impressive low-budget post-apocalyptic thriller, the survivors are forced to wander a devastated US landscape dodging religious fantastics and bloodthirsty monsters who will stop at nothing to see humanity at its knees.

Or that brain. She's crazy. I've got everything under control.

RIGHT BRAIN:  You think. Just ignore me and watch the damage I can create. You ain't seen nothin' yet.

LEFT BRAIN:Oh lord. Just put your panties on and listen. I've got a plan. Or at least I've got a list.

RIGHT BRAIN:  See? See? See how you always dismiss me and my feelings. You - you lazy schoolmarm. Why did you let it get this way?

LEFT BRAIN:  (Pauses and then sighs) You're right. I have been lazy about making a plan to get us through the next year or so. But that's partly because you've been so depressed and frightened. I've been too busy looking for reasons you shouldn't be so scared  ... like what Martha Beck said this morning ...

Living fully requires a return to the looseness that predates our first breath to an untroubled trust that we are supported by a universe that has no interest in hurting us, only in teaching us to dance.
~ O, The Oprah Magazine, July 2015 Martha Beck ~

RIGHT BRAIN:  Oh. Yeah. I forgot about that

LEFT BRAIN:Right. "Oh yeah." and remember that mantra "That may be true, but not for me" from Esther Hicks?  About how to feel when ... ya know ... Apocalypse feels like it's Now?

RIGHT BRAIN:  Yeah. I remember. I even tried some but it wasn't enough. I needed more.

LEFT BRAIN:Well, I knew that. That's why I was looking for more soothing mantras and reminders. Instead of making a plan.

RIGHT BRAIN:  And also because you're lazy.

LEFT BRAIN:LOL. I am. I know it. Especially because ThisPlan is all about the BigEnd and you know neither of us gets any reward from completion. We're E.N.F.P. and we're look-a-bird people. 

RIGHT BRAIN:  (smiling) Yeah. we are. and it's true - this week we've gotten a lot of scary things done and I'm not quite so sure there is a zombie outside the door. 

LEFT BRAIN: Nope. No zombies. Just patterns. Habits and knee jerk reactions to stress - things we ought to have recognized sooner. 

RIGHT BRAIN: Patterns?

LEFT BRAIN:yeah - Like in Mike Byster's book  -
The Power of Forgetting by Mike Byster   just, not number patterns but a way of responding to stress we have that isn't useful. 

RIGHT BRAIN: You mean the way I respond.

LEFT BRAIN:Well, yeah, But we're all in this one. You might have the impulse but I'm the one that starts listing all the ways we've been put upon. When we go out and put a lot of that stuff on ourselves. 


LEFT BRAIN:Yes. you too - onancounta you are all the time feeling "I can do that" and "I should do that" and I can fix it and I can take care of that and you know - I, me, me, I

RIGHT BRAIN: Oh. Hmm. Makes me sound sort of stupid doesn't it?

LEFT BRAIN:Eh. No point in name calling - it wouldn't really be true, now would it?

RIGHT BRAIN: Uhm. No. And besides, my feelings are legit.

LEFT BRAIN:Legit, yes, as in, they're real, but are they the right feelings at the right time? I mean ... do you really think ______ and ______ and _____ are wanting to torment us? Crush us? 

RIGHT BRAIN: Sometimes.

LEFT BRAIN:Really?  

RIGHT BRAIN: We ullll.. It FEELS that way.

LEFT BRAIN: But can you see any other way that crushing behavior could be explained? 

RIGHT BRAIN: As in - somebody we know and love might be scared because we're withdrawing 'cause we just have so dang much to do?


RIGHT BRAIN: It's a pattern isn't it?

LEFT BRAIN:Do you remember? Do you remember the last time we had a massively giNORMOUS project to complete? And how we felt? and how we behaved?

RIGHT BRAIN: Yeah - and I've felt guilty about that ever since. 

LEFT BRAIN:Right. So - let's not do that again. Let's not withdraw again.

RIGHT BRAIN: So do we you have a plan yet?  Other than not withdrawing?

LEFT BRAIN:Well. Hmm. No. But I do have a sort of list of Things To Do with dates on them.

RIGHT BRAIN: Yeah, but here it is Friday and I feel like that list is not complete.

LEFT BRAIN: It's not

RIGHT BRAIN: So ... can we get it done?

LEFT BRAIN:I don't know. 


LEFT BRAIN:Stop that. Nobody knows. all we can do is try.

RIGHT BRAIN: (swallowing back a scream) gulp. Okay.

LEFT BRAIN:right. Okay. But here's a mini plan for the weekend. Let's take TheNotebook home with us and make a list of TTD for Monday. 


LEFT BRAIN:And we can work on the bigger TTD for June as well.


LEFT BRAIN:And we can worry about July's TTD list ... Oh - I've got it - Next weekend. 

RIGHT BRAIN: Alright. I'm good with that. 

LEFT BRAIN:so is there anything else you'd like to do - anything else that would make you feel better?

RIGHT BRAIN: Uhm. Maybe. All these TTD lists and stuff - they're all WERK. Where is my play. And my ART?

LEFT BRAIN:Well - what sort of art would make you feel happy?

RIGHT BRAIN: Tablecloths. I want to sew tablecloths. and napkins. to go with the new dishes.

LEFT BRAIN:Okay. When? This weekend?

RIGHT BRAIN: Uhm. No. No. I want to do them on Friday. Next Friday. When everone's gone and the house is clean and it's perfect.

LEFT BRAIN:LOL! It's never going to be perfect, but I know what you mean. Okay. I promise. Next Friday we get out all that cloth and the sewing machine and make tablecloths.

RIGHT BRAIN: And can we design the new closet?

LEFT BRAIN:Of course. We can start doing that this weekend. 

RIGHT BRAIN: Oh. Goodie. That's really going to be something, isn't it. It'll be worth having a construction crew all over the house this summer to get that.

LEFT BRAIN:I think so too.

RIGHT BRAIN: Okay. Then I'm good. I'm still a little scared, but I'm good.

LEFT BRAIN:That's probably about as good as an E.N.F.P. is ever going to feel when she's working on a big closure project. 

RIGHT BRAIN: (chuckles) Yeah, a Big Bird Project.

LEFT BRAIN:(laughs) Okay. Then let's get out of here. What do you want for dinner?



Okay - it sounds like TheBrains have the beginnings of a plan. And we all sure feel more relaxed this Friday than we did last Friday. I guess that's about as good as we can make it right now.