Relative Something

*this* John W. Hays' take on things and experiences

Posts Tagged ‘life

Attitude Adjustment

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I’m not sure how much the weather forecast for today, Tuesday, of “Snow, mainly after 10am. The snow could be heavy at times… New snow accumulation of 3 to 5 inches possible” contributed to making my Monday such a mental slog. Of course, that wouldn’t be living in the moment, would it?

Guilty as charged.

We are probably more prepared for the oncoming winter season right now than most other years, but that hasn’t served to assuage the typical hesitation long commuters feel about the arrival of snow.

That wasn’t the only stressor that yesterday, a classic Monday, presented, all of which accumulated so that by the time I arrived home, I was exhausted. Cue the kitty.

Pequenita offered me a little feline focused attitude adjustment. If you have a cat, you know the drill. After a little meow and some purring, while she rubs against me from every direction, Pequenita often settles down on my shins to convince me that we’re good. She’s got me, and I’ve got her.

Let it snow.

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Written by johnwhays

October 20, 2020 at 6:00 am

Just Love

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Certainly, there could be worse things to keep coming back to, but my mind has begun to develop a healthy habit of naturally settling on thoughts about sending and receiving LOVE amid the swirl of good and bad circumstances that wash over us with unrelenting regularity.

We learned last night of an unexpected death among our extended family, all too close to the time of Cyndie’s dad’s passing that has everyone already raw with grief. The increasing infection rate of the coronavirus pandemic is pressing firmly against the frustrations of being locked down for months and disrupting dreams of resuming some previous activity.

Plans for the fall are far from settled as to whether schools will be able to open safely and entertainment venues will figure out a way to host events.

It is almost becoming a physically painful thing to not be able to hug people, on top of the ever-awkward absence of a genuine handshake.

Still, we are showered with ongoing blessings that become more precious with each pause for acknowledgment. The gestures of condolence that have arrived in the last two weeks have warmed our hearts.

Last Sunday, Cyndie and I worked on preparing the brooder for the anticipated arrival of 12 new day-old chicks this month. As hard as the loss of birds is on my tender wife, she couldn’t stop herself from ordering more. New life is coming to Wintervale again!

Summer is in full swing in all its glory around our land, regardless of the recent loss of some big trees. We’re preparing to host travelers we’ve not met before from my virtual community, Brainstorms, in the days ahead. We offered a free parking spot for their small RV on their trek home that is taking them right past our neighborhood on the interstate.

I keep imagining how pleasant it would be if the news media took several days off from mentioning anything a certain person says or does and simply focused on news that matters without any distractions or fabricated drama. I do struggle to muster enough love to offset the disturbance that rolls out of the nation’s capital like the irritation of a lingering dead skunk smell.

The high heat and excessively oppressive tropical dewpoint temperatures are hanging around lately even longer than skunk odors, which is definitely exacerbating the angst of those who lack artificial cooling in their homes.

There is good and bad roiling around in a weird mix. What can we do to cope effectively but love?

Just love.

It sure can’t hurt to try.

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— special love goes out to Carlos today for his sorrow and loss —

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Written by johnwhays

July 8, 2020 at 6:00 am

Unprecedented Battle

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We are in the midst of a great challenge unimagined by many that has unleashed anxious moments and feelings of fear about the unknown during these trying times in an unprecedented battle with an invisible scourge that has people staying home and washing their hands to do their parts in this historic period of incredible sacrifice by those on the front lines in essential jobs that require endless supplies of PPE and forced some families to isolate individual members in basements and closed restaurants and schools causing farmers to lose markets and food shelves to struggle to keep up with demand.

I don’t know why my inner cynic experiences such a cringe reaction at the tiring opening qualifier to almost every human interest story on the news and corporate commercials that are no longer trying to sell anything except some assurance that they are helping consumers and customers during this trying time.

There is another view that I find more satisfying. It’s the long view in reference, yet with the immediate moment as a focus. There is always something challenging, potentially life-threatening, or life-disrupting at play in the world. Among the ongoing calamities in the world, there are people who are killed and people who deal with it and forge onward.

People react to the situation and set about seeking ways to cope. They do creative things like host online cocktail parties or step outside en masse to sing songs. We find ways to deal with the current realities and get on with life, including mourning those who don’t survive.

From this perspective, there is no need for an unending onslaught of messages about “this unprecedented battle” we are in. Life is an everyday battle. There were others before COVID-19 and there will be others after it.

Might as well buck up and put one foot in front of the other –in some cases under the stay-at-home orders, metaphorically– and cope …during “these trying times.”

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Written by johnwhays

April 23, 2020 at 6:00 am

Practicing Life

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In the vein of practicing medicine –isn’t it a little scary that we say doctors are “practicing?”– I figure I am practicing life, but without a license from any official authority. Without a license, I’m not supposed to offer formal advice to others on matters of health and wellness, but that seems like a lost opportunity regarding the life lessons I have experienced through my years.

Alas, the act of living healthy is something I share with others by way of simply doing it. I’m practicing living healthy every day and attempting to add a little love in the world while I’m at it.

By far, the most significant step in my life’s journey toward optimal health happened when I sought treatment for depression. The years when I put my focus on diet and exercise prior to diagnosis of my dysfunctional mental health had me spinning my wheels. In the time since I learned to conduct my thoughts in a healthy manner, the benefits of my other efforts increased noticeably.

I dare say the steps I have put in place in my life would suit others equally well if practiced as a way of life. Too bad I’ve no license to prescribe such medicine and be compensated. On the other hand, I do have plenty of opportunities to give my advice for free.

The most significant point I express regarding the quest for best health is that it is an everyday effort for as many years as we may live. However many days (years) we might have traveled an unhealthy path must, at the very least, be equaled in time in order to undo. There aren’t any quick fixes that can be achieved by temporary endeavors.

You’ve got to play the long game.

The good news is that benefits are available along the way and the journey gets easier and more rewarding as you go. You don’t need to wait for some magic day when everything becomes rainbows and unicorns.

Eat well, exercise your body and mind, practice loving self and others with all your heart. Do it every day. Keep it up for the rest of your life.

Call me in the morning.

No charge. The nurse will show you out.

Have a good life!

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Big Think

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I’m not sure about the trick of living in the moment while trying to make big decisions that have the potential of dramatically changing the rest of my life, but that is the reality that simmers beneath my every minute lately. As Cyndie slips ever deeper into focusing her time on caring for her parents, decisions being contemplated have the potential of defining whether we will stay on this property or go.

There is a challenging balance in a committed relationship of cultivating what we want together as a couple while also honoring each of our individual desires. That would be made a little easier if we both definitively knew what it was we wanted the rest of our functional years to look like.

I had no idea that our empty-nest years would lead to the gorgeous property we found that became our Wintervale. The seed for this dream originated from a supernatural meld of both Cyndie’s and my interests and experiences, but I would not have arrived at this point without her energy driving most of the outcomes.

That same inclination has me leaning toward following her lead again as her focus has changed, despite my heart increasingly being gripped by the sanctuary of the forests and fields, and beautiful log home where we’ve been living for the last seven years. If I could figure out a way to afford it, I’d stay here even if she moved in with her parents –sighting the year we lived apart when she moved to Boston as a case study precedent– but that might be at odds with achieving our best long-term joint effort.

Neither of us knows how well our health will hold out, how climate catastrophes will impact the coming years, whether our meager retirement accounts will protect us from the next recession, or what future life events will demand our attention, but those unknowns are all lumped into our thinking as we consider the big “what next.”

I want to also include the simple joys of standing still in the woods and listening to the natural sounds that surround me. Breathing in the forest aromas and feeling the reality of temperature and precipitation against my skin. Walking over the rise in our open fields to feel the wind when it blows, or the stillness when it doesn’t.

At the same time, I’ve lived in town and know the conveniences associated. I would welcome the opportunity to reduce our carbon footprint and return to riding my bike more than driving my car.

I tell ya, living in the moment of planning the future is one heck of a big think.

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Written by johnwhays

January 12, 2020 at 8:57 am

Meandering List

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It doesn’t all begin right here

How many things forgotten are saved in the top dresser drawer

Six moods experienced since late last night

All the ways to get from there to here

Pictures of full moons that I never took

Forests of trees that have been made into books

Random memories still around from elementary school

And dinner I don’t recall from several days ago

News constantly breaking that I don’t even know

Which obviously never matters to the actual facts

Feeling okay at the same time that I’m not

A morning paper that only occasionally arrives

Ageless illusions that shiver and fade like a carnival game

Favorite songs that change more often than socks

Walking just far enough to still make it back

Ecstatic energized laughter of a teenage girl on a road trip with her best girlfriends

The last gulp of water that leaves nothing but ice cubes

The way a singer’s voice breaks just right

Irony that gets missed so often it’s not

Sinking under the weight of waiting so awfully long

Noticing when bitter cold gets described as being “not terribly warm”

Savoring the flavor in our most favorite bites

Wishing for something that can’t possibly happen

That ubiquitous mug that holds so many cast-off pencils and pens

The unidentifiable sounds a house makes all by itself

Unquestionable adoration from a dog that would equally betray

Returning again and again for the same unexpected surprise

Thinking about ice cream ten times more often than actually eating it

Working the program with old school cool aplomb

Dancing when nobody is watching because that’s so much more authentic

Wishing it would rain so you didn’t have to go

Going anyway and having a better time than we ever imagined

Counting the ways until you forget what you’re counting

Looking at what’s right in front of us and recognizing the genuine still-life portrait we can see

The color of the sky during the minutes both darkness and light are visible

Asking the right question knowing full well the answer is all wrong

Arriving on time at the last chance saloon

Patiently listening even though they are talking too loud

Writing down each thought just as fast as it comes

Then breathing deep into that moment of falling fast into a restful night’s sleep

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Written by johnwhays

December 11, 2019 at 7:00 am

Duly Moved

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Last night I watched the award-winning documentary, Free Solo about Alex Honnold’s epic climb of El Capitan in Yosemite National Park. What a masterpiece of a film! I highly recommend it. I was duly moved by the intimate glimpse into Alex’s life, and the inclusion of the emotional challenges of those around him coping with the immensity of the monumental risk he was facing in his quest to climb that granite monolith without ropes.

Alex points out that any of us could die at any moment, whether doing something risky, or not. I tend to avoid things with a high risk of death whenever possible, but it is true that my life could end at any time. One way I interpret his thinking is to frame myself as “free soloing” all the time.

It made my walk with Delilah a little more exciting than normal after the movie.

She suffered a bit of a panic inside her overnight safe-space crate yesterday morning when a rowdy thunderstorm rumbled over top of us at oh-dark-thirty. I didn’t have much success trying to assure her we weren’t in jeopardy as I prepared to leave for work, which made it rather stressful for me to walk out the door and leave her alone until Maddie was due to show up an hour or two later.

I soothed myself by considering how she would greet me when I got home at the end of the day, as if clueless that anything out of the ordinary had happened earlier, which turned out to be true. She did.

We then made the rounds on the property, hiking the perimeter trails and surveying the results of the wild weather. There were 2.5 inches of rain in the gauge and the ground is fully saturated, but no new-fallen trees or limbs, thank goodness. That much rain, or more, is expected to fall before this weather event is done and gone.

We will carry on and survive to the best of our ability, even though I now have this new sense that I am doing it all without the benefit of any ropes.

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Written by johnwhays

September 12, 2019 at 6:00 am

No Answer

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There are some questions for which there is no answer. I heard one in an NPR interview last night. It was a fair question, but the guest didn’t really know how to answer it. Justifiably so. There was no answer. Sometimes it’s not possible to pick either of two choices.

I can live with that.

Driving home in the dark last night, there was a moment when approaching headlights obscured my view enough that I realized I was driving blind for a distance. I didn’t slow down. I just kept going under the impression it would be okay so to do.

Luckily, it was.

I don’t have a plan for what is next. Something tells me I won’t suddenly decide to try being a stand-up comedian. I’m very confident I will continue to live a life of sobriety.

There are questions I don’t have an answer to, but more often than not, I don’t even have the questions.

It’s pretty easy to not have answers when I don’t know what the questions are. I breathe, put one foot in front of the other, and make my way through the days.

I don’t know what comes next. For now, it’s a question I am okay not answering.

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Written by johnwhays

August 2, 2019 at 6:40 am

Posted in Chronicle

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Rehoming Horses

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In less than a week, they will be gone. Our three horses are returning to the home from which they traveled when they came to us back in the fall of 2013. There is an invisible gloom darkening the energy around here of late. It feels eerily similar to the dreadful grief we endured after Legacy’s death in January of last year.

Happiness still exists, we just aren’t feeling it much these days.

Cyndie spent hours grooming the horses yesterday. I found myself incapable of going near them. It’s as if I’m preparing myself in advance for their absence. This place just won’t be the same without them.

For now, we still have the chickens. With the snow cover receding, and hours of daylight increasing, they are expanding their range again, scouring the grounds for scrumptious things to eat from the earth. It is my hope that they are getting an early start on decimating the tick population around here.

After Cyndie said she picked seven eggs yesterday, I asked if we were getting ahead of our rate of consumption yet. Almost three dozen, she reported!

Spring has definitely sprung.

I walked the grounds yesterday to survey the flow of water draining from the melting snow. We are benefiting greatly from overnight freezes that have slowed the process enough that no single place is being inundated now. It was the heavy rain falling on the deep snow that led to the barn flood last week. We’ve had little precipitation since, and that has helped a lot.

There are a couple of spots where the flow has meandered beyond the modest constraints in place to facilitate orderly transfer, mainly due to the dense snow that still plugs up the ditches and culverts.

Water definitely chooses to flow the path of least resistance.

I can relate to that. It feels like our life here is changing course in search of a new outlet for our energy to flow. Part of me feels like there should be a rehoming of ourselves, except we have no home to which we would return.

In a strange way, it’s as if I am experiencing a similar avoidance of being with myself, like the way I couldn’t bring myself to stand among the horses yesterday.

If this is not the place where I belong, then I already don’t want to be here any more. Unfortunately, there is nowhere I’d rather be right now.

When buds pop, and leaves sprout, I will breathe in our forest air. That will help.

But it won’t be the same without our horses.

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Written by johnwhays

March 23, 2019 at 6:36 am

Thinking Seriously

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We are currently doing some serious thinking about making significant changes, not just around here, but in our lives. It is an exercise in re-examining everything, because one thing leads to another, due to the connectedness of all things.

We may not change everything all at once, but just like the series of changes we enacted to bring ourselves to where we are today, a shift in focus, and the first step we take, will likely kick off a metamorphosis toward a new chapter of which we have yet to comprehend.

In the middle of it all, horses. Our precious horses.

It is unconscionable that we would even think of turning our attention away from them. But, in our situation, they just might be the first to go.

This is a really hard thing to contemplate.

Those who doubted our sanity when we set off on this adventure of moving from our home in the suburbs, where family, life-long friends, and gainful employment were close at hand, to a rural location with uncertain dreams of using horses to help others, will now be able to have their opinions validated.

That’s not supposed to matter to the dreamers of the world, but the thought still occurs.

I am able to use the priceless experiences I have had over the last seven years as contented justification for our adventures thus far. Would there have ever been a “completion” for what we set out to accomplish? I’m not entirely sure, although I had visions of possibilities that it appears will go unrealized.

Is there ever really a completion of our endeavors, or is it all an ongoing process?

If we no longer have horses here, it will certainly feel like a completion, but it could just as well be perceived as a new beginning.

It’s complicated.

As such, we are giving it all some serious thinking. Indoors. By the fire. While it snows and snows and snows outside.

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