Friday, June 29, 2012

Curiosity Killed the Cat, or Did It?

A curious situation, but definitely a comfortable one.

Curiosity killed the cat.  That is how the saying goes and I know so many people who hold it as truth.  I have never embraced this old adage, however. In my opinion, curiosity doesn't kill as much as it kindles the imagination, sparks creativity, and makes for a very interesting life.

I am a seeker by nature.  I want to know and understand things. For as long as I can remember, I have a burning desire to figure out how stuff works and why people behave the way they do.  I have always wanted to understand me as well.  The idea of digging deeply and seeing how far I can go intrigues me.  It's one of the reasons why I am so introspective. I analyze everything to find out what new things I can learn. My analytical nature can be both a blessing and a curse, but I generally accept it as one of my finer characteristics. Although I have a tendency to over think, I appreciate looking closely at the details of my life and my experiences.  I make mistakes, I get into situations that might be awkward or unusual, but I always learn something in the end.  I look for the lesson in every situation and every person I encounter and then integrate it into my knowledge base.

On an intellectual level, I understand how a seeking nature can create situations that could possibly pose risks for the stability of one's life, but I still maintain an insatiable drive to find out what makes people tick, to know the length scope of my own understanding of self, and to discover new experiences.  I don't think I will ever give up my curious streak.  At the present time, I am embracing it more than ever.  I am two months away from turning forty and although I have led a stellar life up to this point, I want to continue to enrich it, to become, if not the very best version of me, at least a version of myself that knows more than it did the day before.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Touch: Red Headed Stepchild of the Senses

Out of the physical senses, I think most people underrate the impact of touch.  Because it isn't as immediate as sight and hearing, it falls towards the bottom of the list. It is like the red headed stepchild of the five senses. In my opinion, however, it comprises one of the more powerful senses we humans possess.  It has the ability to soothe, reassure, pleasure, heal, and satisfy.  It also has the opposite effect of causing pain, terror, discomfort, dissatisfaction and insecurity.  It is extremely important to be aware of the power touch holds. Unfortunately, touching seems to be a forgotten sense because most people don't pay attention to it regularly.  It just exists on a mostly subconscious level. People only become aware of it when the intensity of a response to touch, either positive or negative, increases to noticeable levels.

I hold some very vivid memories of touch from my childhood.  The great majority of them are positive memories, although a few still to this day evoke negative feelings in me.  The negative touching occurred primarily at the hands of bullies, but my home life compensated greatly for any negativity I encountered at school.  Both my mother and father displayed frequent physical affection with my sister and I, giving us plenty of hugs, kisses, cuddles and tickles.  I remember my mother reaching behind her seat on long car drives just to pat my knee or leg and also how I felt when she did that.  I felt remembered, loved, secure, and happy.  I try to do the same for my children, randomly yet frequently giving them positive experiences with touch.  More than words, positive touches create a warm, safe, loving environment for children in which to grow and thrive. If children don't receive enough physical reassurance and affection they don't do nearly as well emotionally.  Touch is incredibly important to healthy human development.

People also sometimes notice the absence of touch when they go long periods of time without being hugged, patted, or held by someone else.  I can recall vividly recognizing this "missing" feeling during my freshman year in college.  I lived in an all-girls dorm of.three floors with mostly freshman ladies who shared two people to a room.  The girls, as I recall, mostly got along with one another and people would wander from room to room casually visiting..  One odd thing I noticed, however, happened towards the end of the first semester.  The ladies began engaging in more wrestling, playful punching, and physical harassment of one another. Even I noticed a marked increase in my desire to positively wail on my friends. These urges could happen just about anywhere.

On one occasion, as I stood in line next to my friend waiting patiently to get a drink at a mall kiosk, I had an overwhelming desire to reach out and slap her exposed arm.  I did just that and she shrieked "Bitch!" at the top of her lungs.  After I stopped laughing at her shocked expression and of those looks we received from the people around us, she asked me why I did it.  I can recall telling her that I had no idea why, but after thinking about it, I realized it was because I hadn't been touched or touched someone in a long, long time.   The girls in my dorm experienced this too and collectively had begun to miss the random, yet frequent touches they would receive or give when they lived at home with their parents and families.  They compensated subconsciously by creating reasons and situations to touch one another, even though they seemed to reduce it toplayfully beating on one another.  After the wrestling sessions, the mood of the dorm would be lighter, happier, and more content.  Just like happy children who receive hugs from their parents, the girls felt better.

I think I will go hug my kids now.  Just writing about the act of touching makes me want to scoop them into my arms and squeeze them tightly.  I know they will giggle and laugh at my sudden display of love and the idea of that makes me smile and feel warm and fuzzy. When my husband comes home, I will surprise him at the door with a kiss and a hug too.  After a hard day at work, nothing feels quite as good as being welcomed home with a hug.  I definitely think it's going to be a happy evening in the Hallbeck home.  Go hug someone and be happy too!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Bring Me a Storm

Bring Me a Storm

With your arms a haven, your heart a home—
bring me a storm.
Unleash the lightening and hold it in your hands
to spark the heat that rises from my humid earth.

As wind against my skin, your breath
cools then burns, searing the night inside me.
Like euphoric moonlight nestled wet
within the clouds, I too am hidden and exposed.

In waiting for the thunder,
I hold still the draw and pull of passion.
Counting the beats between strike and pulse,
vibrating with half-lidded, building rapture
the sky breaks wild and so do we.

Like an arroyo, a gully filled
rushing and swirling to breach the banks
I spill over you and
melt the desert
in this storm you brought to me.

Wind Symphony

Spring sings in New Mexico.
It becomes a symphony of sound.

Wind blusters by the ears,
whistling first angry, then seductive words.

Bumping into homes, causing them to creak
and groan like a chorus of old women.

Humming through windows, carrying the tinkling
of metallic chimes and dizzy birdsong.

Frenetic air scratches like a scat jazz man
when dusty grit scrapes against glass.

This opera plays on and on
until summer's heat stifles the libretto

and composes life into a pianissimo version of itself.

Rapture and Devastation

Rapture and devastation 
dance an invisible line of desire.

Primal and instinctual
the drive to extinction cannot be extinguished.

Consumed by terrible need
recognition will love remorse all the years ahead.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Brisket, Beans and the Bride Wore Boots: A Country Wedding

Country weddings are so much fun!

On Saturday my sister, best friend, and I attended a good old-fashioned country wedding.  Although it rained cats and dogs and the entire wedding party plus guests got soaked standing outside in the open air, the wedding ceremony went beautifully and the reception totally rocked.  All weddings have things in common...a bride, a groom, over-wrought extended family, tears, laughter and fun.  Some weddings, like a country weddings, have little differences that make them both unique and highly entertaining.

The ceremony took place outside at the historic venue of Fort Stanton, New Mexico.  The guests arrived in assorted attire, with a high percentage of people wearing Wrangler jeans, boots and cowboy hats--even the women!  I felt a little out of place in heels and a party dress, but proceeded to have a lovely time nonetheless watching the young bride and groom exchange their vows.  I must admit, however, that I highly envied the hats and boots as I stood there in the pouring rain getting soaked to the skin and sinking to the bottom of my heels in the ever increasing mud.

After the nuptials, everyone headed to their pickup trucks and other vehicles, some with horse trailers attached, and headed out to Baca Campgrounds for the reception.   Driving forever, we turned off the highway and headed down a rutted, dirt road for ten miles. We ultimately arrived at the location grateful to see some people, and not just jack rabbits and deer that had dotted the roadside as we drove. Thankful that we had not gotten lost in the woods, we entered the large tents the family had erected in the center of the campgrounds and proceeded to get our party on.

The fabulous meal consisted of barbecue brisket, beans, rolls, corn and potato salad.  The coolers of Coors Light and other sundry beers lined the sides of the tent and people began enjoying themselves immediately.  When time for toasts arrived, the guests raised their silver cans and saluted the young couple and wished them well.  Then the tables were cleared and the large bags of corn meal were brought out to shake onto the cement slab so the boots would slide properly when the dancing started. Hooting and hollering, we cheered the newlyweds on and emptied our wallets as they two-stepped to the dollar dance. I smiled when the bride raised her voluminous white gown and underneath were worn and scuffed cowboy boots. The guests then proceeded to join in dancing, circling the floor with the Cotton-Eyed Joe and the Schottiche.  As the night wore on, the country music became louder, the air cooler and fresher, and the laughter more raucous.

I can't remember the last time I enjoyed myself so much.  I felt free from the social constraints that a highly choreographed and fancy wedding puts on the guests.  No one cared which fork I used to cut my brisket, or if my napkin had been placed properly upon my lap.  People came to this wedding to celebrate the marriage and new life together of the bride and groom, not to see who held out their pinky while making their toasts. Country weddings usually lean towards the simple, but sometimes simple strikes just the right note.  Friends and family laughed, gossiped, drank, and danced all night long.  It is the things that are least fussy, on occasion, that make for the best time.

As a young girl, growing up in the podunk town of Capitan, New Mexico, my mother always teased me that I would have brisket and beans at my wedding too.  She knew I envisioned a big, fancy affair falling somewhere on the high end of hoity-toity.  I would adamantly protest that I would not be a part of a country wedding, but my mother knew me better than I knew myself. This memory of my mother's joke amuses me every time I think of my nuptials.  Although it wasn't held at the fairgrounds and only a handful of people wore boots and hats, it was a rather simple event. Everyone had a wonderful time nonetheless, and I am certain it had something to do with the beer, brisket, and beans served at the reception! As the old saying goes, you can take the girl out of the country, but you can't take the country out of the girl and I am living proof of that.

The beautiful view from the reception tents at Baca Campground.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Puzzle Pieces: Seeing the Big Picture

Fitting it together piece by crazy piece.

Today I took some much needed time for myself and spent two hours sitting outside a coffee shop intermittently reading and thinking.  More thinking than reading, actually.  I used the time to sort out some of the things that have been bothering me lately about my life, the actions of friends and family, and what I really want to do from this point forward.

This past year goes into the record books for massive changes.  I can't recall any previous year where so many things have changed one right after the other.  I got rather stressed and depressed the other day when yet more changes came down the pipeline of my life.  I am pretty good with adapting and bending and blending, but things caught up with me and I had a moment where I desperately wanted everything to come to a standstill so I could just breathe.

Because I have a calm and relaxed type of personality, people have this impression of me that I don't need time to adapt, that I just readily accept what comes my way without any need for processing.  However, that's definitely not the case.  I just process things quietly and internally.  Even though it is not visible for everyone to see, I nonetheless ruminate over situations or events and struggle to place myself within the context of them in an appropriate way.  Water might look like its sliding off a duck's back with me, but in reality on the inside it is bubbling and frothing quite powerfully.  If I don't get a handle on things quickly, much like water it begins to erode at my center of calm, and I end up having days where my composure crashes down around me in waves.

Its times like those that I recall some of the advice given to me by my friends.  I should be a bit more detached to certain situations when there obviously exists no way for me in which to change them.  I've been told repeatedly that I care too much about particular things, especially regarding decisions or actions made by family and friends. I worry too much about the consequences of those behaviors and I know intellectually that I can't influence them one way or the other, but I still fret nonetheless.  It constitutes serious amounts of wasted emotion and mental energy.  The ennervating effect of this then causes more negativity around me and it affects how I am feeling, how I think, and how I behave.  My friends are right.  I should just care a little less about the things I can't change and focus on the aspects of my own personal life that fulfill and complete me.

This thought struck me the other day too...I have no obligation to anyone other than myself and my own little family anymore. With the death of my father in April,  I don't need to seek the approval of anyone anymore.  It was a sobering thought and made me miss my parents fiercely, but not having them here means that I can pretty much do what I want without fear of disappointing them.  I don't always have to be sweet and accommodating.  I don't always have to be the stalwart, stoic daughter that picks up the slack and acts as the anchor. I don't have to be or do or say anything that isn't exactly what I want to be, or say, or do at any given moment.  It is simultaneously a liberating and saddening thought.  And something else I will have to continue thinking about.  Who do I want to be now that I am no longer someone's daughter?

I really do feel like a puzzle this year and a mixed up puzzle at that.  I am constantly rearranging the pieces to make them fit properly so that everything will run smoothly internally and externally in my life.  The constant changes are the pieces for which I have to make room. The funny thing is, I've never been too fond of puzzles.  They strike me as tedious and too intricate and generally I give up halfway through and move onto something more entertaining.  My life, however, is one puzzle that I will not quit until I get it completely sorted.  All the crazy pieces will find a home and then the big picture will be clear and beautiful and calm. Here's to hoping, anyway.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Dreamer's Disease

What lurks beneath the surface?

I woke up feeling very weird this morning. I dreamed vividly last night, but only shadows of the dreams remained with me this morning.  Vague feelings of unease and discontent greeted me when I opened my eyes and they have lingered through the day.  It's as if I am supposed to remember something important, but for the life of me I cannot.  A psychic tip-of-the-tongue phenomena which makes me absolutely crazy.

I already know how this day will pan out.  Distracted, introspective, unsettled and pretty much not present defines this particular Tuesday for me. I wish I could just hold onto my dreams long enough to figure out what they were trying to tell me. I think if I were able to get some quiet time in the morning, I might be able to examine them better.  However, from the moment I open my eyes, I have tremendous sensory input.  Everyone needs something, everything needs my attention.  Some days I don't even have the time to form a complete coherent thought before the children are asking me to do something for them.  Trying to catch a dream at the point is hopeless and then all I am left with is this feeling of not knowing, but needing to know.

Hopefully I will get whatever it is that is bothering up to the surface to examine it.  I don't like feeling as if I am looking into a pool of water and every time I get an idea of what is under the surface ripples appear and obscure the entirety of it. I keep looking, but  It is so aggravating.  I would much rather have dreams that leave me refreshed in the mornings than upset for no apparent reason.  Anxiety over the unknown completely sucks.

I am going to get busy doing things and hopefully like the long-lost name of a song or a character actor from a movie, the thing will pop clearly into my head and my issue will be resolved.  At least I will be productive and occupied until that happens.  Here's to hoping anyway.  And if I can't get it figured out that way, maybe tonight's dreams will be better.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Water Babies

Fun in the Sun

I remember as a child, spending entire days swimming from early morning to late afternoon, only taking breaks when forced out of the water by my mother.  Entire summers would pass with me swimming every day at the community pool, and after one totally crispy critter sunburn, I would turn brown as a nut. When we'd go to the beach, I would swim so much that at night as I went to sleep, I could still feel the waves bobbing me up and down. If pools weren't available, any good old fashioned slip and slide or sprinkler would do in a pinch.

To this day, I love the liberating sensation of floating, gliding through the water like a fish, being completely surrounded by the cool wetness of it but feeling so free at the same time.  It seems to me to be the closest thing to what flying might feel like. I am an equal opportunity water-lover too. I will swim in anything.  I've swam in lakes, rivers, creeks, oceans, pools, and even stock tanks. I've taken a dip in 60 degree weather without the least hesitation.  I am a dyed-in-the-wool water baby and probably will be for the remainder of my life.

Therefore, it seriously pleased me when our little blow up pool took a dive this summer (yes, pun intended), and we decided to purchase a much bigger pool for our backyard.  My children were so excited. When their father brought it home, they squealed and clapped and danced around him as if he were the god of all things fun and thrilling.  He loves it when they do this.  I am thankful they haven't figured that out yet, or they'd be asking for things all the time from him, and getting them too.  

All three of my children enjoy the water.  The pool has been up for a day and a half and they have spent more hours in it than out of it. I think, however, my my six-year-old Jack  is the biggest water baby of them all.  He reminds me so much of myself at that age. I literally have to pull him out of the pool and make him come in when his lips turn blue.  The other two know when to get out and warm up a bit, have a snack and rest a little..  Jack, though, refuses to miss a minute of fun.  I hope this enthusiasm for enjoying himself stays with him his entire life, although somewhat more tempered by good sense.  

I am just really happy this Sunday afternoon. It's the culmination of a stay-at-home few days spent entirely with my nuclear unit, or as I refer to them "Team Hallbeck."  There is nothing quite like spending time with family and thoroughly enjoying one another. I am optimistic about the summer going well.  The children and I will have a great time in our backyard, spending time in the sunshine splashing and playing and laughing.  I think this summer is a harbinger of good things to come for the remainder of the year. The first half of the year was hard, but the second half seems quite a bit brighter. Today was one of those golden moments where I realized how truly lucky I am and truly grateful I am for the blessings in my life--including a pool just a few feet from my back door.

Team Hallbeck in the Pool