Time flies like an arrow. Fruit flies like a banana.

We have Groucho Marx to thank for this witty line. It pops into my head every time I think about how time flies.

Most of my life I’ve considered time, not money, to be my most valuable resource. Maybe I should have put it second to love, or joy, but if I’m honest with myself, I didn’t. Maybe I always thought I was going to die young. Lucky for me, I’m getting a little too old to do that ….

If you cherish your minutes like I do, you tend to be busy, focused and impatient. Friends marvel at how much you get done. They also wish you’d learn to relax more.

This last year has been more intense than most, as I seized the day, the week, and the months to re-release new versions of my six novels.  I was often up at dawn (not my normal), driven to get through one more chapter. I had to make these perfect. I had to get them done.

Then, I did. And, I was exhausted.

I had expected to finish a month sooner, and had scheduled some travel to unwind after my big push. Instead, I ended up rushing off on my trip, finally catching my breath on a five-hour cross country flight that was running over three hours late. Sort of like me. I woke up somewhere on the Pacific coast and thought now what?

Now what, indeed. I ate lunch at the beach. Put my feet in the ocean. Went to a party, saw a live show and a movie, and went wine tasting. I even tried my hand at some virtual reality game involving light sabers and music.

There was pizza and french fries for dinner, lots of ice cream, and plenty of wine. Sometimes that wine was drunk in the middle of the day.

I relaxed. I enjoyed myself. I had fun.

Wow.

Should I have wasted all that time?? You bet. You see, time flies like an arrow. Best use some of it to recharge your batteries and enjoy this wonderful gift of getting to exist. As the fruit flies will tell you, there’s no reason part of it shouldn’t be fun.

Warm-up Exercise: Your Life in One Page

I don’t write poetry often, and there’s a good reason. It’s not my gift. But I’m tackling my 165,000 word sixth novel with the goal of slimming it down to a less prosy 125,000. I really want to do this. I decided a warm up exercise was in order.

I’ll never know quite how I got the idea of writing a one page poem that managed to encapsulate my life story, but it’s where I landed. Two hours later, I had this. Turns out it takes a LONG time to say things in a few words.

I’m not considering switching careers and becoming a poet, but I am pleased with the result, for me. Plus, my big project is down to 147,000 already and its getting easier all the time.

Happy When

I’ll be so happy when I get out of my parents house and can do whatever I want. I’ll stay out late. Not have to tell anyone where I am.

I’ll be happy once I’m out of college. These papers and tests are killing me. A few more months. I’ll have a job and money to do whatever I want. Then I’ll be happy.

I’ll be happy once I meet someone. You know. The one. He’ll hold me and love me. We’ll have fun together. How can you be happy alone?

I’ll be happy once this project at work is done. Once I get a raise. Once my boss leaves town. I’ll be happy if I just get a window office. How can you be happy without sunshine?

I’ll be happy once the baby comes. I want my body back. I’ll be happy once he talks. Is out of diapers. How can anyone be happy changing twelve diapers a day.

I’ll be happy if this second pregnancy goes well. If this third one does. Once my husband gets that vasectomy. Once he buys me flowers again.

I’ll be happy when these kids are done with sports. Every Saturday. I just want to sleep in. Read a book. I love them but, do other mom’s find time to enjoy themselves? How?

I’ll be happy once the house is built. Our dream home. Everything has cost so much.  I’ll be happy once we get back on track financially. Once it’s spring. Once it’s summer. Once we go on vacation. Once we get home.

I’ll be happy if dad recovers. If mom lives through this. If my son gets into that college. If my daughter gets that job. If the package I ordered comes in time. If it doesn’t rain. If it does.

I sit on my porch and remember my career. Think of my children; busy lives far away. My husband, inside watching TV. Too much of it these days, but he’s here. Still loves me.

What now, I ask? What will make me happy? If one of the kids calls? If the garden grows? If he gets up off the couch and kisses me? If the sun shines?

A little voice inside speaks. Silly girl. You are happy. You have been all along.

 

Day 28. Grateful

This last day of my journey is going to be two days, as we opt to let some of the long drive spill over into tomorrow. It’s okay, I’m going to consider this a journey of 28 days anyway.

The final stretch is a trip through the deep south; our slightly longer route determined by the need to pick up my husband’s car at an airport in South Carolina.

We end up spending the night in town in which the only open restaurant is a fast food chicken place, and the only open grocery store is whatever they sell at the bait shop attached to the local gas station. We patch together a meal from what’s in our car.

The TV at our place has no reception, but we find something to watch in the collection of old VHS movies that are provided.  (The Client, with Susan Sarandon and Tommy Lee Jones. It’s not bad and it speeds the evening along.)

The next day, as I finally drive up the road to my own house, my last rule of the road, #28, is clear. Be grateful to have made the journey. Be grateful to have made it home.

I’ve been listening to my playlist of “25 songs with home in the title” ever since I dropped my husband off to get his car. When the list is done, Gabrielle Aplin’s Home is the one I play twice. Make that three times.

I don’t see the video until after I’m in the house and finishing this blog. It has such a creepy start that I almost don’t post it, but I watch it a few more times and it wins me over. Besides, so much of the country she travels through looks like where I’ve just been.

I could swear I passed the guy in the yellow truck at least once in my travels. In fact, I might have stayed at his Airbnb. Or maybe I saw him at Burning Man. At any rate, the video resonates with my journey, and her song leaves me smiling … because I’m finally home.

If you’d like to read a short blurb from each day of my journey, check out
Day 1. The Journey of 6000 miles
Day 2. Rules of the Road
Day 3. Just Don’t
Day 4. Bloom Here.
Day 5. Yes Aretha. Respect.
Day 6. No Trucks. Just Corn.
Day 7. Cry
Day 8. There’s No Place Like Home
Day 9. It’s Okay to Ask a Human for Help
Day 10. Always Bring an Onion
Day 11. Gimme Three Steps Towards Nevada
Day 12. I Want to Scream.
Day 13. Dusty Virgin
Day 14: Magical ride
Day 15. As Nice as I Want to Be
Day 16. What Rules? What Road?
Day 17. If you get interrupted by a parade …
Day 18. I, Human
Day 19. A Border Crossing
Day 20. Someone to Help Me Get Home
Day 21. Time flies like an arrow and ….
Day 22. Stop, or Else …
Day 23. What’s Your Reality?
Day 24. If it seems ridiculous …
Day 25. Backing Up
Day 26. To Stop a Hurricane
Day 27. Lights Along My Path
Day 28. Grateful

 

Yes, Virginia, huge hidden treasures do exist

zen2zany 2If you have ever written a book in which archeologists head off in search of the “greatest treasure ever” you have got to be delighted when your internet browser announces that “more than 60 pounds of gold were recovered from an infamous 157-year-old shipwreck off the coast of South Carolina last month, and the deep-sea exploration company that retrieved it announced today that there is plenty more down there.”

Stories are more fun when their basic premise is plausible. Just knowing that, for example, “The 280-foot wooden-hulled steamship…was carrying as much as 21 tons of gold” and that “the ship now sits 160 miles off the coast of Charleston, S.C.” makes me want to go hunting for treasure myself.

Not that I particularly want to find it. My life is filled with plenty of treasures already, and for that matter it is also filled with ample bottles of nice wine, good books I’ve yet to read, and more seashells than I can admire. That’s what happens when you’ve been on this earth for awhile. You find many of the things you love and more.

But like the happy child on the beach in the Zen2Zany poster above, it’s fun to look.

 

The Hope Keeps Coming

This past March I was happy to find a blog by a writer named Cathryn Wellner, who had  set out to find 1001 reasons to be hopeful. I quickly got addicted to her daily discoveries of people who left her with optimism about humanity, and I wrote about her here.  The problem was that she had decided to find exactly 1001 reasons to be hopeful and she was at number 973 and going. Why hadn’t I stumbled upon this lady sooner? She picked the number 1001 because “that’s how many nights it took Scheherazade to soften the heart of the king” but it meant that I only had 28 more doses of hope coming to my inbox.foundation 4

Day 1001 brought a nice surprise. Her uplifting event of the day was how many people had written her and asked her to please keep going. She admitted that the daily schedule was hard to meet but she would now publish a weekly dollop of hope. True to her word, reason 1006 — a wonderful story of a elderly woman who refused to sell her house to developers in Seattle and ultimately became friends with them — is in my inbox right next to reason 1005 — the story of a man traveling the world with a piano in the back of his pick-up truck.  I’ve kept both stories there because I particularly like them and wanted to reread them once or twice before I recycled the electrons. Her ongoing compilation is called “This Gives Me Hope” and it will have you laughing, crying and feeling better about life on this planet. I promise.

I like the poster above, shared by the Facebook page of Foundation for A Better Life and I don’t dispute what it says. However, it is easier to find that sunshine to bring when you take in a weekly dose of  hope.

 

Meet hope

hippiepeace7I’ve been reading a lot of other people’s blogs lately, thinking that it’s good to look up once in awhile and see what is going on around you. Amidst the silly, the funny and the introspective, one finds the occasional post that just tears at the heart. I reposted one such story yesterday on my x0 blog. It was about the children of Syria and the atrocities so many of them have been forced to endure.

We can’t fix much as individuals, but we also shouldn’t run away from the knowledge that something needs fixing. I think that it is important to confront the the pain in this world, and to use the information as a call to whatever action we can take.

On the other hand, it can be easy to loose sight of the fact that there is much that is good in the world. It is even less common, I think, to find the blog that fills one with optimism. Luckily I have stumbled on a great one. A writer named Cathryn Wellner has set out to find 1001 reasons to be optimistic and as of today she is at number 973 and going. She picked the number 1001 because “that’s how many nights it took Scheherazade to soften the heart of the king” and she invites readers to share their own stories of people, places, photographs, and events that have given them hope. Her compilation is called “This Gives Me Hope” and it will have you laughing, crying and feeling better about life on this planet. I promise. You can check out her Facebook page too.

While you’re on Facebook, drop by the Hippie Peace Freaks page and give them a like for the great image shown above. They are another bright spot.

What about the fact that there are folks out there posting such positive messages? This gives me hope, too.