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Photo courtesy of Wikipedia

Photo courtesy of Wikipedia

When I read the Think Kit prompt to write about an experience with a stranger, one particular story popped into my head, and it still scares me to think of it.  Everything about this story is strange, but hang in there with me.

I’ve always set an alarm to be the first one awake, so I can have that quiet time alone in the morning.  It was often my habit to sit in our window seat, covered in a blanket and sipping my coffee, just thinking and daydreaming.  One morning, in the glare of the streetlight, I could see a coyote trotting down the middle of the street.  Yep, a coyote in the pre-dawn dark, running towards College Avenue in Broad Ripple as if he did it every day.

Naturally, the next morning I was in my spot, watching for him, and sure enough – at the same time, he came running down the street again.  Now my mornings had intrigue and mystery!

On the third morning, I was determined to see if he actually crossed College or if he had a hiding place near my house.  As I’m gazing towards the streetlight, waiting for my coyote, I spot something in my peripheral vision, closer to my house.  I turned to look, and there was a stranger standing in the street.  He wasn’t walking a dog, and he wasn’t dressed for running.  He was dressed in a newsboy-type cap, a windbreaker, and khakis.  His hands were in his pockets, he was facing me, and he was LOOKING AT ME.  You know that fear that instantly coils in the pit of your stomach? Yet the sensible part of my brain reasoned that he can’t possibly see me, sitting in the dark – he’s probably just looking at the house.  I moved my face to the next window, and his head turned to keep eye contact.  Like something right out of a Steven King novel, it was weird and creepy at the same time. I bolted upstairs.

Of course the man had disappeared by the time I awakened my husband to look out the window.  That always happens in the scary stories, right?

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At the quiet but insistent bonging of my Zen alarm, I stretch, fumble into pajama pants and yawn my way down the stairs.  I can already hear pup Kelso in his crate, doing his little “It’s morning!” dance.  I slide open the locks, and he wiggles out, leaning into me and licking me, nearly knocking me down.  “Kelso, chill,” I say, just like every other morning….and he does. He sits, cocks his head & looks at me.  Huh.  Weird.  “Come, Kelso!”  He trots beside me into the kitchen, sits by his bowl and waits patiently while I get his breakfast.  He eats, drinks his water without sloshing and slobbering it all over the floor, then walks to the back door to go outside.  I let him out, then turn to the cats – Roxy, the princess kitty and Loki, the nutty one.  Neither one is sprawled on the kitchen counter, but instead are sitting prettily on the floor, looking up at me expectantly and quietly.  I spoon their food into their respective bowls, and Loki actually eats out his own, rather than bullying Roxy to get to hers first.  This morning is turning out awfully peaceful. I realize that I have awoken with the magical powers of a Pet Whisperer.  I have become a modern-day Dr. Doolittle.  Kelso comes in from outside and sits, raising each paw in succession for cleaning without once biting my hair or tearing off after the cats, skidding muddily across the kitchen floor. Wow.

Somehow, I know I only have this power for today, so I take full advantage of it.  I ask all the furry ones to play nicely, and they frolic together without any hissing, biting or clawing. I take all three for a walk in the neighborhood and the four of us walk side-by-side, no leashes necessary.  This is so bizarre that the neighbors are taking photos and videos, and posting online. When we are back at the house and it’s time for me to settle down and work, they all snuggle comfortably together on top of my feet, keeping them warm on this snowy day.  Such peace!  Such harmony!

At the end of the day, Kelso walks into his crate, yawns, and falls immediately into a deep sleep with no snoring or gassy expulsions.  Kitties Roxy & Loki sleep at the foot of my bed, rather than kneading my stomach, then stepping on my face in order to sleep on top of my head.  I sigh, burrow into the covers, and thank God for the magical day, knowing tomorrow our normal chaos will reign.

From the WordPress Prompt “Do you believe in magic?  What magical power do you have, and what will you do with them?”

Several times a year, my goal is to exercise more.  I tend to get really excited and committed for a couple of months, yet just when I am starting to feel stronger and more fit, and my pants are fitting more comfortably, I lose interest.  How I wish I were one of those people who seems wired to get out and MOVE!  I’m just not.  I was the child who sat inside reading books, or sitting in an apple tree daydreaming – not the one that played sports or rode my bike all over the neighborhood.  There are so many good reasons to exercise.  It’s good for my heart, my muscles, my mind, and my mood.  Studies show that regular exercise helps me retain muscle and bone mass as I age, and this is on my mind very much as I watch my parents grow older and weaker.  And yet….I can’t seem to maintain any momentum for more than 3 months.

This year, I resolve to NOT throw myself into another I-will-get-up-every-day-at-5am-to-exercise tizzy. One step I can start immediately towards getting more exercise is to walk my puppy every day.  Wearing him out before the 7pm crazies hit him – when he starts to nibble on everything in sight, relentlessly chase the cats, and jump all over family members – will make all of us happier, and the two of us a little healthier.

Puppy eating Bible.

Yep. That is a Bible he chewed up. Devouring the Word.

This post is part of Think Kit by SmallBox – Today’s prompt: What’s one step you can take to support a goal you have for 2014?

I’m having a sleepy, sluggish day.  Maybe it’s the gray winter weather, or post-Christmas blues. Maybe now that my dad is recovering well from surgery, my mind can relax. Today, my body said DO NOTHING.  There was a little coulda-shoulda-woulda going on in the brain:  grocery, laundry, take down Christmas decorations, cook something decent for the family….but none of it had to be done today.  Not really.  So I slumbered off and on, moving from couch to bed then back to couch.  Reading a little, sipping green tea, eating carbs.  I tend to have a day like this every two or three months; my body seems to demand it, just kind of shuts down for a day.  I’m old enough now to listen when my body speaks to me, rather than pushing when its really not necessary.  I can hear my mother’s voice in my head now, wondering how in the world could I NAP when there is so much to do?  I seem to have not inherited my parents’ Protestant work ethic, that calls for NO FUN until the WORK IS DONE.  

I wonder how others feel?  Can you rest when needed, or must you always be “on?”  Why do you think that is?

Us in the dance tent.  Brian just moves his shoulders a little.

Us in the dance tent. Brian just moves his shoulders a little.

“What event stood out for you this year?” asks Think Kit.

The first WARMfest in Broad Ripple park over Labor Day weekend was an outstanding event for me.  Although I’ve lived in Broad Ripple for 20 years, I’ve never really explored the park like I did that weekend.  Brian and I rode our bikes there, and had a great time listening to bands that were new to us, trying out delicacies from the various food trucks, and enjoying Sun King beer.  There were DJs in the dance tent all day too (including my fav, Rusty Redenbacher), where hula-hooping girls, families, and hipsters danced.  Music, food and beer, all in one place – ! – but it got even better. There was a vintage/handicraft festival within the music festival, too. I loved carefully stepping my way through the exposed roots of maple trees to see what was in each booth, discovering antiques, jewelry, and several quirky goods. I bought a silver ring with my birthstone in it to commemorate the day.

I can’t finish without mentioning Yoga in the Park that Saturday morning, also part of WARMfest.  There were a lot of yogis getting their “om” on in the park, and there was something mesmerizing  about moving through asanas in tandem with so many others on the grass and in the shade of the trees.  Singer/songwriter Michael Franti rolled out a mat with us, too.  He may be famous, but yoga reminds me that we’re all One in this big, beautiful world.

I hope for another WARMfest next summer, when I can soak up more of that glorious adventure.

This post is part of Think Kit by SmallBox.

Think Kit #26 asks for a self-portrait, as abstract or real as we like.  I know for sure that drawing is not a strong point, yet I do think in color/shape/movement, so I broke out the acrylics and had some fun.  VOILA!  Me.

Self-Portrait

Think Kit prompt #24:  What are you grateful for this year?

Wow.  This prompt gave me pause.  I wondered if I could find something to be grateful for that went beyond the “usuals” – family, friends, and shelter.  Then I realized how grateful I am to be able to tick those off on my fingers, because so many can’t.

Most of my family live right here in town, and I’m able to see them when I like.  I have so many friends with whom I can truly be myself, and they still like me despite that.  My husband is kind and really fun.  I have three teenage kiddos that are so much nicer and more respectful than I was at that age.  I love my furry pets, I love my garden, I love my front porch when its warm and my fireplace when it’s not.

I’m grateful that I live in a neighborhood where we look out for each other, have block parties, and watch each other’s pets.  I’m grateful that my kids – one in IPS, one in Washington Township, and one at a charter school – are able to attend the schools that best fit their individual needs, both academically and socially.

I’m grateful for my church, where I am challenged to become a better person and have a community there to support those efforts.

These are all small, simple things, but I’m realizing today just how grateful I am to have them play such a big part in my life.

Think Kit asks:  what is your mantra for 2014?

 

Live this year as if it is my last!

I don’t mean blowing money as if the future doesn’t matter or making irresponsible decisions.  I mean living in a way that if I WERE to kick the bucket on December 31, 2014, I could go happily, knowing I really lived intentionally, celebrating each day I was alive, using my gifts for my own enjoyment and in the service of others.  Starting each day with the thought, “God, thanks for this day, let’s DO THIS!”

 

Think Kit Prompt:  If money and time and other commitments were no obstacle in 2014, what would you do?

Traveling for education or service would be at the top of my list.  I’m very intrigued by the types of trips that GlobeAware manages, which gives the traveler a chance to work for a cause (saving elephants, digging wells for clean water) and also spend time as tourists. Imagine if each of the five members of my family picked a cause to travel for, and as a family we made five trips!  Making the world a better place, even if just a little bit at a time, and learning about different cultures, connecting on a deeper level with those we work with.

Yoga retreats to lovely, faraway places would need to fit in the calendar as well.  There is a also a conference called Storyline Conference next March that features some of my favorite authors – Anne Lamott, Bob Goff and Donald Miller – that I would love to attend, too.  This one is in San Diego no less, so arriving early and leaving late would be on the agenda.

All this traveling I want to do, yet I really, really love my home, my garden, and my pets. When not traveling, I’d putter around the house, improving/renovating some things (house built in 1908); making my flower garden even larger; and hanging out on my front porch.  I’d write, I’d paint, and I’d buy a piano so I could play again.

As I write this, I think that even with the commitments I do have, it must be possible to fit at least one of these into my life in 2014. OH, Think Kit, I’ll bet that is the conclusion you hoped we participants would arrive at, si?  Well done.

Think Kit Prompt:  What made you laugh out loud?  Share something that was humorous or funny.

I don’t think I can narrow it down – I love to laugh and find so many things amusing!  First of all, I am lucky to have spent 19 years married to a jokester.  I don’t mean pranks or jokes at the expense of others; he sends me into fits of giggling and tears with his one-liners and exaggerations some days.  He’s also a master of retelling stories from our everyday lives in such a funny way that it causes me to appreciate and remember those “everyday” bits of my life even better.  Do I find him hilarious because I love him so much, or is it the other way around?  Hard to know!

And then there are cat videos.  I could watch for hours.  I watch my OWN cats and laugh, and my puppy makes me laugh with his bouncing around and fierce shaking of a stuffed animal. We even had a small lizard once, and his skittering around was a hoot. I laughed today watching a porcupine “talk” (Thanks to Sarah Murrel’s Punchlist post in Punchnel’s). Animals are generally hilarious, unless they are eating each other, so I avoid watching that circle of life business.  

Really, there is even humor in brain surgery.  When we first saw dad after surgery (with 30 staples in his head) we said, “Dad, it went great! How are you doing?” And he answered. “I’ve got a headache.”  We HOWLED.  He’s said some pretty hilarious things since then, in his less lucid moments.  Is it wrong to laugh at someone who is not in their right mind?  I think not.  He would do the same if the situation were reversed.

I wish everyone a good belly laugh today!

 

 

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