Thursday, April 24, 2008

Animal Instincts

I saw my dog shake a groundhog to death yesterday evening. This seemingly gentle dog, the one who when inside with her toys merely prods them tenderly with her nose as they squeak joyfully; the one who can pick up a fly with her lips, barely wetting its wings as she lifts it in the air and then drops it back onto the rug.

But this is also the animal who knows how to go right for the jugular, shaking a squirrel or groundhog until its neck breaks, and slinking back to me (as I scold her) panting, a drop or two of vermin blood on the bridge of her normally innocent black nose.

If only I could understand her instincts – what it might be like to feel my muscles spring into action upon the scent of a moving creature in the brush, eyes locked in a missile launch, wanting so badly to sink my teeth into helpless flesh and fur. Perhaps I would then understand other mysteries, too, such as why humans can become so absorbed in petty things when a universe that continues to grow exponentially surrounds us. Or, why we seem to have so many resources available to solve the foreign oil crisis or "find a cure," but politics, greed and money (the most intangible tangible thing) thwart our progress.

I write this as I sit in my backyard, admiring the earth transformed by spring. That these plants boldly come forth year after year reminds me that there is method and melody to our cacophonous lives. I hear nothing but birds, a rumbling tractor, and the hum of a far-off roadway. I see nothing but green (that lovely, virgin green), fearlessly greeting the world we have preserved for it during the winter. This is how I greet each day, or at least try to. Sometimes I deal with the unpredictability of daily life by going for the jugular. Sometimes it requires a little more finesse, like picking up flies with your lips. We learn from instincts we will never truly comprehend.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Happy Birthday, Blog!

It was exactly a year ago today that I started the Good Life Project with my post "New Beginnings." In it, I pondered what it means to have a good life. If you've been following along with me since then, or even more recently, you'll know that striving for a good life involves process, focus, patience, forgiveness, and perseverance. And it's a choice we all have the ability to make if we desire it.

A lot has happened in my life since April 17, 2007. I am sure the same goes for you, my noble reader. This morning, I awoke to the sound of springtime birds and a clear blue April sky. A soft morning glow filled my room as I peeked over my downy covers. "I have arrived," I thought, thinking on the steps I took to get where I am now - in this house, in this life.

Giving up our life in Austin and making the bold decision to move home to Mercersburg wasn't easy. Likewise, building a new life here has been an interesting process to observe and experience. As you saw in my last post, living in a small town does not necessarily mean that life is going to be as simple and free as I thought it would be. But frankly, it is up to me to create the life I want and that is what this blog has always been about. It is up to me to create that simple and free life, if that is what I want. Easier said than done, this goal is something I still employ patience (as much as I can) and perseverance to obtain. Sometimes, life just gets away from us and we often need a reminder (like my episode with the voice lessons last week) that we have stretched ourselves to the limit or have headed down the wrong path.

In the year ahead, I know this process will continue, and I plan on enjoying it. Looking back on a year is an interesting way to observe the steps and processes of my life's adventure. Looking ahead allows me to learn from that process and prepare to take new steps toward greener pastures. But really, folks, what is more important than right now? The Good Life is right here and right now. So let's raise a glass to the birthday blog!

Thank you all for your support, comments, concerns, and thoughts. I look forward to another good year with you!


Thursday, April 10, 2008

Confessions of an Overachiever

I have officially stretched myself to the max. After all my musings about time management, saying "no" to certain obligations, and balance, I have gone against all my suggestions and am thus at my tipping point.

How did I lose the balance in my life and time that I was so close to attaining? When I said "yes" to not 1, but 4 new voice students at our local private school. I feel I am a talented musician, but am not prepared to share my knowledge with four students. I currently have 3 different sources of income. Taking on 4 students seemed the best way to make extra money. But because I am essentially teaching myself how to teach others, I realized (last night in a moment of terror at the realization of what I have gotten myself into) that this would be a much larger endeavor than the amount of money I will be paid for it.

How do I know I am stretched? Because I have noticed a significant change in the way I complete other tasks and projects (such as writing in this blog). I am not able to put as much effort into just one thing because I have so many other projects going on at the same time. I freelance write, volunteer for our local arts council, help my husband run his business, work for a screen printing and embroidery shop downtown, and now have taken 4 voice students.

I fill my time with all these things for two main reasons:
1) Money - we are working hard at making our photography business succeed and I am trying to take every measure to help supplement our income.
2) Fear (here's the clincher) - fear of not being important because of having too much time on my hands or not accomplishing enough.

I thought I was making headway in the way of #2, but I realized last night that, almost without knowing it, I surpassed the boundary of what is "enough" for me and my time. I am confessing this to you this morning because I have to face my mistake today and make the necessary arrangements to bring my list of students down to 1. This is the amount I know I can handle with grace and focus. This is the balance mark.

I will learn from my mistakes and move on to a more balanced life.

We all have our tipping points and our balance marks. Have you had a similar experience to this one?

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Update on Time and Priorities

Hello dear friends,

I have been feeling quite successful at focusing on my Life Priorities that I mentioned in a previous post. I have been focusing more on my music and creativity, which has been very rewarding. My sister and I have been working on our musical repertoire with a great guitarist friend, and I am in the process of taking a few voice students. Making time for creativity fills me with energy and fosters a sense of purpose in my life. I have also been busy with the Arts Council, as well as writing for Hagerstown Magazine. All of these creative endeavors give me joy and a sense of accomplishment. For example, all day Monday I visited with several artists in the area for a Hagerstown Magazine article. Ryan and I were assigned to the same article, so he took the photos while I interviewed the artists, all of various mediums and ages. We made some wonderful connections, and on top of that were able to share the experience together.

Of course, making room for certain priorities inevitably involves putting others on the back burner, and I am trying hard not to dwell on those or feel guilty. I have had less time to focus on my blog, but I am still committed to the Good Life Project and all my loyal readers, whomever and wherever you are.

Do give me a shout out, if you so desire, and let me know what you have been ruminating or prioritizing on!