Are You Sure?

Standard

There are days where I question the choices I’ve made. Truth be told, days like this are becoming more frequent. It’s like every element of my life is playing a little game with me called, “Are you sure?”

Honestly, I don’t know.

Perhaps, its a mid-life crisis attacking a bit early. Or maybe, I am just ready for a change. Admittedly, I am a creature of habit. My very organized self likes a schedule and gets a little thrill when everything works out as planned. This aspect of my personality was a mild quirk when I was younger, but after 14 years of teaching, it’s become a full-blown neurosis. I’m starting to realize this is making life a lot less fun.

Although, this feeling of “life doubt” could also be tied to what I consider a noticeably missing piece of my existence. Travel. Throughout my twenties and early thirties, I traveled extensively overseas. I saved and planned for it, because it was such an important part of my life. However, the last three years have been tough. Between budgets constraints and family concerns, I haven’t really gone anywhere. The fact that my bucket list has largely gone ignored is starting to bug me.

Then, there’s the undeniable fact that I’m tired. Exhausted, actually. Working 10-12 hours a day at a job that is getting increasingly more stressful and frustrating is starting to wear me down. As much as I love the art of teaching, it’s getting difficult to love where I work. I don’t know if it’s just one of those challenging years or if I’m reaching a point of total burn out. Thankfully, my students aren’t picking up my general feeling of frustration (I know this because they constantly tell me they like how positive it is in my classroom). At the same time, I am perusing job postings for possibilities that lie beyond my current station.

With all of this going on in my head, it’s surprising to me that I remain a total optimist. A little funk never wiped the smile off my face and it probably never will.

My family and my writing keep my fire burning. As my novel reaches the final stages of becoming a polished piece of work, I find myself excited to take the next steps. When it comes to the game of “Are you sure?,” this is the one thing where I know the answer is a definite “Yes!”

After a crappy day at work, I love escaping into my dreamworld where my novel finds its way into print. I can wander into lines of poetry and fuss over plot holes while drinking my Muse Juice (Cafe Mocha). When all else fails, there is the beautiful dream of being able to write (and maybe knit a little) all day long. Lucky for me, my husband and furkids are cool with joining me on this journey.

Of course, the game of “Are you sure?” has the added bonus of motivating real change. Besides reconsidering my job situation, there have also been a number of discussions regarding a change of location. We’re thinking the Pacific Northwest might be a nice change of scenery within the next few years. A road trip to scope it out is in the planning stages. Am I sure about moving? Not really, but I’m excited to explore the possibility of something new.

Aside from considering major life changes, I’ve started stuffing money aside for a trip to Amsterdam. My bucket list is in dire need of a check mark and my soul craves the touch of a new experience.

- – -

c.b.w. 2014

Philosophy

b738148c-0ce8-406b-9f20-efdb69ed54e0_zps3899a548
Standard

Philosopher’s stone,
heavy with wisdom
No magic answers,
or fountain of youth
Rather a witness
to all that’s been lost

Sit and contemplate
the path to the truth
A breath lights the way,
one choice sets the course
Wait not a moment,
to start the journey

 

- – -

Photo:  Great Mosque, Xi’an, China, c.b.w. 2005
Words: c.b.w. 2014

Favorite Thing Friday: Ichabod Crane

Standard

Oh, the things I find on Hulu. After catching up on Arrow, The Goldbergs, and Grimm, I found myself in the predicament of having nothing to watch while I grade papers. I’d heard good things about Sleepy Hollow, so I decided to give it  a shot. Within five minutes, I was completely hooked.

While the premise is intriguing (the show is a loose interpretation of Washington Irving’s classic The Legend of Sleepy Hollow), the character of Ichabod Crane and the brilliant actor who plays him (Tom Mison) are what truly captured my TV heart.

I’m only six episodes into the first season, so I know I may be claiming him as a TV boyfriend a bit early in the game, but I can’t help myself. And here are 10 reasons why:

1. He is literally a piece of living history. In the first episode, he “died” during the Revolutionary War and then woke up in 2014. The man rattles off Colonial and Revolutionary War history like an encyclopedia, but with the sensibility of someone who lived through it. The history teacher in me is swooning, (as the rest of me is fact-checking).

2. While he is a man stuck far away from his own time, he is surprisingly objective in dealing with his surroundings. Rather than panic, he explores the modern era with the mind of an academic or scientist. It’s fascinating to watch him mesh his knowledge of life in the past with his existence in the present.

3. He has a proper British accent. Need I say more?

4. Perhaps, he’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but he’s pretty easy on the eyes.

Ichabod-ichabod-crane-sleepy-hollow-tv-series-37189441-1280-720

5. He says stuff like this … (in reference to what eventually becomes a Headless Horseman)

dab14b3437d797b279edd10a1057c280

6. And this …

66133350967e16978eb1b6e91470b90f

7.  Despite everything, he doesn’t forget who he is. Modern life doesn’t rob him of his manners, personality, or morals. Even when those things don’t jive with modern civilization, he refuses to let them go. I’m still wondering if he’s going to change out of those 18th century clothes!

8. At the same time, he’s not afraid to try new things. Like doughnut holes.

9. According to him, he instigated the Boston Tea Party (as a means for a diversion for a secret mission).

10. He can speak German and Middle English. Beautifully.

I’m sure I’ll have more to add to this list after the next six episodes. :-)

- – -

What’s your favorite thing this week?

- – -

c.b.w. 2014

Book Review: Look Up!

Standard

lookup-ccIn a fast-paced world that often makes us forget our humanity, we need to be reminded that life is more than work and paying the bills. Life is about breathing and soaking in the magic that comes with being alive. Jennifer A. Payne’s book, Look Up! Musings on the Nature of Mindfulness, offers both an exploration and reminder of how nature can save us from ourselves.

A simple walk through the woods is all it takes. Payne’s meditative journey begins on a wooded path surrounded by trees and with a question, “And how have I missed this before?” The wind through the trees and the crunch of leaves beneath her feet suddenly became the missing pieces she craved.

Look Up! is unique in that it combines quotations from the likes of Emily Dickinson and Henry David Thoreau with spiritual thinkers such as the Dalai Lama and Krishnamurti. In between lines of poetry and philosophical ponderings are Payne’s personal essays that explore her meditative journey to reconnect with nature and ultimately herself. Her candor and wit makes her personal journey relatable and universal to anyone who feels overwhelmed by the pressures of modern life.

Payne’s use of diverse perspectives serves as a reminder that meditation isn’t a one size fits all kind of thing. For some achieving total mental stillness is a possibility, but for others the mind never stops ticking. In one of her personal essays, Payne puts out the idea that a constantly ticking brain isn’t necessarily a bad thing in terms of meditation.

Meditation is all about slowing down and redirecting all of our energy towards something that isn’t a to-do list. If we take the time to slow down and simply be, we might just learn something. Dragonflies and even a mushroom can carry a valuable lesson that is worth seeking and contemplating.

In addition to carefully selected quotations and essays, Look Up! includes beautiful photographs of Payne’s interactions with wildlife. Everything from raindrops on water to slithering snakes to autumn leaves elevates this little book into something very special. It truly invites the reader to take a personal journey. Whether it’s on an actual trail or vicariously through the pages, the meditative path is one worth pursuing.

I read Look Up! in three sittings, but I highly recommend treating it as a daily, weekly, or monthly devotional. It’s divided into months and seasons reminding us all that a journey takes time and patience.

- – -

Click on the image to purchase Look Up! Musings on the Nature of Mindfulness

Visit Jennifer A. Payne via her blog: Random Acts of Writing [+art]

- – -

c.b.w. 2014