Red Flag Warning

“We could sure use the rain.”  I am a farm girl and I heard this many times growing up. Colorado is in a drought now; I hear this wish for rain almost everyday. Even the snowpack has been low for years. Personally I wish for a sprinkler system so dragging the hoses out to water will be but a distant memory. Who needs green grass?  The dryness has its own rating system: red flag warning, conditions are ideal for fire combustion.  Just recently an entire forest, the San Juan National Forest was closed to the public. No hiking, camping, fishing- don’t even think about it. That is high fire danger on steroids. People in Fort Collins talk about “The Fire”, the High Park Fire in 2012.  Hundreds of acres of forest and many homes were burned by a fire that was fed by the tinder of a dry forest. I watched the flames jump from tree to tree from the “safety” of  a position on the opposite side of a large reservoir. World wide, famine caused by drought has cost the lives of millions of people. 

The scorched brown fields, forests, prairies, brush and lawns are all thirsty for water.  Can’t even spit. A lightning strike, a campfire not extinguished and FIRE. It feels like the dirt is brittle, ready to  crumble to powder. Human beings are about 60%water, we can get dehydrated like the fields and lawns. When it’s so hot, 100 degrees by Thursday, I have to force myself to keep chugging water. I remember this story and parable: In hell the dipper for water has a handle so long that poor souls can’t get the water to their own mouths, but they can bring the dipper to other’s mouths and give each other water. Such a visual for me, and even in hell cooperation is the key. I hate to see people spraying off their driveways when water is so precious, use a broom. Think of the poor people in hell!

Dried fruit is yummy, but dehydrated humans can be in a world of hurt. Headaches, dry skin, shallow breath, orange pee, sleepiness, no tears or saliva and heart palpitations are all symptoms of dehydration. I think of all the tears I have cried in my lifetime, a river of tears, and I wonder how I ever refilled my tear reservoir.  When Roger died there were many times when I was sure I couldn’t cry anymore, but I was wrong. How odd that grief feels dry and brittle, but on the outside it’s all wet with tears.

In the West, here in Colorado, most of the time we have dry heat and water evaporates in a short time. Winds dry the earth quickly and also fan the forest fire. The wind whips the fire into a frenzy and drives it across the landscape. This morning I was angry and I stoked that anger by thinking about my resentments. My anger moved into areas not really connected to my original source of anger. I tend to cry when I am angry, but I think sometimes my tears put out the fire of anger too quickly. Anger scares me, it burns,  so I throw the water of my tears on it. I don’t want an angry forest fire, but sitting around the campfire may be just what I need. Of course,I will remember Smoky Bear and put out my campfire when I leave.

My Comfort Zone

For a long time I’ve wanted to visit New York City —before I rode off into the sunset! My best friend Susan and I just returned from a week long trip to New York City. Cross that off my bucket list! I’m still processing my experiences with the many sides of New York. I explored New York as a tourist and a greenhorn. I saw it, heard it and felt it. I can hear my English Comp teacher assigning a paragraph of descriptive writing. 

So hear goes…. Noise. Lots of noise. Horns honking, sirens blaring, the engines of cars and buses almost stacked on top of each other as they crawled through the streets. Only a masochist would drive in midtown Manhattan. Below this surface noise, underground is the subway. More noise. The train has a low and loud chugging sound as it rolls in to a stop and people rush off and more people squeeze in. Moving people from place to place is noisy.

A see of humanity! At first Susan and I saw only chaos, but after a few days we began to see the patterns and the rhythm of New York. Complicated choreography is a good way to describe the sidewalks and public transits;  some how everyone gets where they are going. It took a bit of observation and practice, but soon Susan and I were dancing with the New Yorkers.  Basically head down and dodge and weave! We even progressed to the dodging between cars move. Hiking in New York City only happens in Central Park.

Stinky! What were those bags of trash doing on the edge of the sidewalk? They looked like mountains but they stunk. Figured out (of course) that there were no alleys to access so garbage trucks came down the streets at night making the trash disappear. The many food trucks spread the smell of good food. The street grates belched stinky steam. Saks 5th Avenue did not stink!

Sunshine through skyscrapers creates an unusual quality of daylight. It’s hard to look straight up to see the sun and to keep walking. A forest of skyscrapers blocking the light. Fifth Avenue is filled with huge holographic billboards and are almost blinding to the eye at night. They are all screaming “Look at me!” We were under their spell. I felt the vibration of the street acts, music and more people moving this way and that.

You learn a lot by traveling with someone. Susan and I have travelled together several times, but New York’s craziness really highlighted how differently we navigate from point A to point B.The temptation is to redefine “different” into the right and the wrong way. I look at a map, get it in my head and take off, Susan uses her phone and google maps and tracks her journey. And this is walking not driving! There were a few cracks in the sidewalk before we reached acceptance of each other’s differences in navigating. I knew I was never lost if Susan was chugging along a few steps behind me, yes even our walking paces don’t match. I love you Susan!  

New York was such a foreign country that I wished I had packed my comfort zone. Returning to Fort Collins, I breathed a sigh of relief to see lots of green and hear the quiet. This is my comfort zone. I am familiar with the streets, restaurants, and  shopping; the sidewalks are my domain. And of course my family and friends live here. My travel to New York reminds me how different the world is and how life experiences shape us. I had to face my fear of not always knowing where I was, or what to do. Grow, or else!! Susan grounded me, she was home to me right there on the city sidewalk. Lady Liberty welcomed us with open arms.

Thoughts on Thinking

I talk to myself.  A lot. My thoughts narrate my life, “breaking news” stories  about the events of my day. Thoughts are not “facts” but they aren’t really lies either, maybe we could ask Trump what to call them. We think thoughts because we are humans, and humans are cursed with self awareness. ”Dogs don’t “think”, but it sure seems they are smarter than a lot of humans I know.  What scares me is I believe most of what I tell myself!!  My self- fulfilling prophecies never seem to lead me to happiness.

Very little is needed to make a happy life, it is all within yourself, in your way of thinking.  Marcus Aurelius


It seems to me that thoughts are tyrants. This is the way it is—I am a loser, not smart enough and not that pretty. There is no bipartisan vote, the party in power, founded in my childhood, votes strictly along party lines. All the negative feedback and traumas in my life have control of  my headspace. I need to begin questioning my assumptions… like erasing a blackboard and starting over.  I can evict the damaging messages I give to myself and create some space for self-affirming messages. 

We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them. Albert Einstein


When I think of Albert Einstein I think “Wow, give me some of his thoughts to think!” Einstein was a daydreamer and it is reported that he could visualize his theories first and then put words to them. My thoughts can get in the way of my experiencing. Thinking about eating a good meal is not the same as eating it! When I am engaging in obsessive thinking I am not “experiencing” the moment, I am wasting my time “figuring out” life instead of living it. Creative  thinking is the mind at play in the moment. I want to play more!

Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t ….you’re right.    Henry Ford                                                             

The little train that chanted “I think I can, I think I can.”  made it up the hill. I doubt the little train would have got up the hill chanting “I can’t do it, I can’t do it.”  I was able to quit smoking because my mind was truly made up, no discussion allowed. My thoughts served me, not the other way around. The truth is I can talk myself into good behavior or bad behavior, so choosing my thoughts carefully is a  heavy responsibility.  Exercise is good for the mind and the body and so is rest. Self care can promote “I Can!” Are you a cheerleader for yourself or are you booing yourself?

Thinking: the talking of the soul within itself.                                      Plato

Leave it to the ancient teachers to define thinking in such a profound and true way.  I like the word “soul”  much better than the word “brain” especially when photos of the brain illustrate the word. That still quiet voice that tells us which way to go and what is truth must come from the soul.what do you have to say for yourself?

Think about it!