Fires and books

The Waldo Canyon Fire hits Colorado Springs

Today I am writing this blog from my parent’s dining room table in Penrose, Colorado. A few days ago, my family and I were heading to the Springs to run a few errands. When we drove down highway 24 (the pass that connects our little mountain town of Woodland Park to Colorado Springs) there was a fire just starting in the forest. It was growing fast, too fast, and smoke was creating a terrifying chimney in the sky.

We finished our shopping as fast as we could and hoped that the highway would still be open so that we could get back home. It was and we made it back. Then we sat and watched the news in horror as the fire crawled across more and more of our beautiful forest.

My husband went to work in the Springs on Tuesday and as he left the office for the day he witnessed flames racing down the hill and into a neighborhood (pictures of what he saw first hand have been plastered all over the news this week). He came back very sobered and suggested that we evacuate just in case. Fire is very unpredictable and he had just witnessed it moving very fast! We packed up the necessities and headed to my parent’s home. The next day much of our town was put on a mandatory evacuation.

So, here I sit. It’s a strange feeling. When I left my house the hardest thing to leave was my books. I sat staring at the shelves. Then said out loud to myself, “they are only books, they are only books”. Yes, the really important things are here with me…my family is safe.

But those books are not only books. They are so much more. They are little pieces of me. Every book I give myself to changes me in some way, brings me new understanding, more things to love, things to hate, friendships to develop, ties to sever. A little piece of that book stays in me, like part of my molecular makeup. Unseen strings tie us together.

I am ready to admit that I have a problem. If you don’t believe me ask anyone who’s helped me move and carted way too many heavy boxes full of books into the new house. Maybe problem is not the right word…addiction. Not all addictions are bad…right? I am addicted to story. Books and movies. A good story is my favorite thing.

This fire will change our little piece of the country. It will leave an ugly scar on our beautiful landscape that will take years to erase. This is a tragic story right now. I hope it becomes a story of redemption because those are my absolute faves!

Frankenstein Syndrome

I am tired of being unhappy with myself.

It’s just really a drag. I keep thinking someday I’ll be happy with my body and it will look just like Gwyneth Paltrow’s, someday I’ll be happy with my domestic skills and I’ll cook like Jamie Oliver and clean like Heloise, someday I’ll be happy with my art and I’ll write like Stephen King and paint like Van Gogh.

But I realized something today. The only story where I remember hearing about different humans being knit together to create one individual, they created a monster. There is not a magic pill that allows us to pick the best traits of others and dump our bad ones and become a super perfect human.

I think part of the problem is that we think that super-humans exist. We look at a beautiful goddess like creature who is a mom of 5 with a perfect figure who bakes cookies and writes screenplays in her spare time and all we see are the beautiful, stage worthy bits. We don’t see her imperfections and she doesn’t offer them up either.

But, I’m coming to understand with the more people I meet and the older I get, there is no such thing as a super-human. The closest in my opinion was Mother Teresa and she didn’t have any of the things I always seem to be striving for. What the heck?

I’m starting to get it…someday is now. I need to choose today to be the day that I am happy with my…everything. I need to like me now, as I am…and if I happen to improve in areas…bonus! We were not meant to take pieces of other people and try to make ourselves into some strange clone quilt. We would be freaks of nature. We are meant to be uniquely who we are.

You be you and I’ll be me.

The Crazies

Seth Godin calls it the lizard brain. Stephen Pressfield calls it resistance. I like to call it ‘the crazies’. It’s that voice inside that reminds you what an idiot you are and how you are completely inept at whatever feat you are attempting. And, if you actually succeed, it changes tactics and goes for the you are a fraud angle.

I hate resistance and wish it was something that was just made up in a book. A villain with a long dark moustache and a wicked laugh. But, alas it is not…and you can bet that anyone who has done anything worth doing has wrestled with this unseen villain more than once.

The crazies make me feel, well, crazy…a bit schizophrenic if you will. Arguing inside your head with the crazies is not a fantastic way to feel normal and sane. I have devised a plan that doesn’t fully fix the problem, but it helps. I have always been a doodler and I have often used my hands and arms as sketch pads…much to my mom’s chagrin.

So, for the past few years when the crazies come out to play I take out my sharpie and scrawl something on my arm to remind me that I am not crazy and things might not be as they seem when those nasty little devils are whispering in my ear. It helps. It reminds me of a bigger picture. Ironically, it might make me look just a little bit crazy when I go out in public, but that’s okay…as long as the crazies stay away I am happy.