When was the last time you felt, IN THE PRIME OF LIFE?

A few days ago, while searching for images to update and illustrate my writer’s profile, I came across a photo album titled, “Rancho.”  Flipping the pages, this thought escaped me unbidden, “Man, was I ever in my prime!  And I didn’t even know it.”

Scrapbook of one prime of life
Scrapbook of one prime of life

I was in my early forties when I co-wrote, co-directed, designed costumes, designed and constructed the sets for a children’s musical. It was a nearly charmed time in my life. At first I volunteered as pianist for a newly formed children’s choir, quickly became assistant / substitute director, costume designer, and organizational wizard.  What a ride.  Before the two year journey was up, I had organized and delivered a week of summer music camp activities, worked for a recording studio, helped produce four children’s church musicals and one Christmas CD.  When those years culminated in “Rancho Prodigolly,” it was no longer just the director and me, but a full team complete with wardrobe director, choreographer, and stage hands.

It can be difficult to look back, see an astounding success, notice things have tapered off, and worry you are now past your prime. It is somewhat consoling to take a look at prime numbers. You will notice erratic gaps between seven and eleven; 23 and 29.  The great thing about growing older is that I have seen enough to know that prime of life experiences come again and again. What makes it the prime of life for you?  Is it having resources, money to do what you dream? Is it completing an advanced degree?

Prime for me is when somebody sees my value, my worth, puts me in that position and gives me free reign to shine. Given this affirmation, I prove myself beyond their expectations. But I have to reveal a little bit of myself, at least the tip of the ice berg, before anyone knows, before they think of me. Often, this revelation happens through volunteering or taking entry level jobs.  Sometimes, it is an arduous journey between primes.

I don’t know about you, but I want another prime.

Does the prime of life refer to only a narrow corridor of years?

In my twenties, I was in the prime of life; entrepreneurial, physically more beautiful than I had ever been. In my thirties, I hit my stride writing scripts, musicals and getting other people where they needed to go.  My forties yielded hours in the music classroom  where I knew I was being fully she I was meant to be. Most recently, I have experienced prime moments, tiny snippets of time when I connected with a tutoring or piano student.

It can be an arduous and erratic journey between primes.  I am making the journey.  I feel another prime of life coming on.  How about you?  Where is your next prime?

Wild (Work) Wednesdays

Ever feel like the place you work is a little wild? Today’s Wild Wednesday picture post is all about wild things at my seasonal place of work.

Wild weather, August 2012
Wild weather, August 2012
Wild Life. Desert bighorn ewe, March, 2013
Wild Life. Desert bighorn ewe, March, 2013
Independence Monument, May, 2013
Independence Monument, May, 2013
Wild rocks, wild weather, Independence Monument, January, 2013
Wild rocks, wild weather, Independence Monument, January, 2013
Wild Hogs at the visitor center, Colorado National Monument, August, 2012
Wild Hogs at the visitor center, Colorado National Monument, August, 2012

Gratitude brings happiness

Some months ago, while car shopping, I posted on Facebook “ Red with a spoiler,…but will it make me happy?”  And my 24- year-old daughter responded, “Yes, yes it will.”  If you know my daughter and me, this exchange seems ludicrous, almost batty.  We both know that things don’t make you happy, that money doesn’t buy happiness. We are accustomed to live frugally.

I know some things that do bring happiness: a heart full of gratitude, time spent with those I love, the sweet feeling of success large or small.

Welcome home from your hike
Welcome home from your hike

Within a week of purchasing the vehicle, I was able to travel to Ft. Collins and visit my two younger children.  I had been desperate to see them for several months. I can take the car to work or into less accessible areas. When I return from a long hike and see my own *Red Pearl in the distance, it is like coming home.  My heart is filled with gratitude.

When I began car shopping, I knew just what I wanted; a dependable, fuel conscious Subaru Outback, preferably red, within the scope of my savings account.   The spoiler was unexpected lagniappe. So is the upgraded stereo system – literal music to my ears.

It is impossible to ever enjoy a feeling of success without having set goals – large or small. Reflection on goals met or sweet success brings contentment and confidence.  The confidence comes from being able to say, “I did what I said I was going to do.”

Andrea commences the rest of her life May 2012
Andrea commences the rest of her life May 2012

I got my children through school.  I finished my degree.  After much research, saving and shopping; I got the car I wanted. But these successes share some things in common. They all cost money, time, focus.

Money may not buy happiness, but it does augment the time I spend with those I love, the sweet feeling of success; and hey, money right when it is needed causes overwhelming gratitude.

This year, I’m going to do what I said I was going to do.  I’m going to write a book.  I’m going to live as though I have been given only 365 days to live.  That is going to take time and focus. Oh, and undoubtedly some money.

* Red Pearl – sorta like the Black Pearl, and captained by a woman.  The dealer certificate lists the color as regatta red pearl.

Who will share your 365 days?
Who will share your 365 days?


Wild (flower) Wednesday

It’s time for Wild Wednesdays; the day I post photos of things I love that are wild.

May 16, 2013 on the trail to Mica Mine
May 16, 2013 on the trail to Mica Mine


May 15, 2013 No Thoroughfare Canyon Trail
May 15, 2013 No Thoroughfare Canyon Trail
May 15, 2013 Nature's landscape.  Large Indian Paintbrush on No Thoroughfare Canyon Trail
May 15, 2013 Nature’s landscape. Large Indian Paintbrush on No Thoroughfare Canyon Trail
Little Barrel Cactus - Claret Cup - May 13, 2013 Gunni Loop Trail
Little Barrel Cactus – Claret Cup – May 13, 2013 Gunni Loop Trail
Everything blooms, even the willow.  No Thoroughfare Canyon at the first pool, May 15, 2013
Everything blooms, even the willow. No Thoroughfare Canyon at the first pool, May 15, 2013

Dueling with the daily despond

Sometimes, I feel like I have only two settings for my moods; life is wonderful, or get me out of here.  I am constantly observing my habits for ways to take charge of the daily despond. I am not talking about major, long-term, unrelenting depression here. A proper duel doesn’t last long.  Someone wins.  The other loses. The day moves forward. When I take on the daily despond of rising and getting going, I want to be the one who wins.

Maybe these heart healthy habits apply to you too.

Looking up Monument Canyon from Independence
Looking up Monument Canyon from Independence

Walk or hike daily. Second only to getting a good night’s rest, walking or hiking is the most deeply spiritual thing I do.

Make music Making music is right up there with walking and hiking  as brain, heart and soul food. Singing or playing a wind instrument adds an aerobic bonus.

Read and Write –  Sometimes, life is dissatisfying simply because I have not spent time in the company of great thinkers via a good book. Other times, penning a well turned phrase or two in my journal will bring contentment

Eat well I have experienced the jubilant feeling of wellbeing often enough to know that’s what I want every possible day. Eating well includes on time, often and healthful.  Pinto beans are disastrous for my feelings; also, anything with caffeine – including chocolate.  Too little sugar makes me droop.  On the other hand, too much sugar is catastrophic. I suffer in body as well as spirit when I succumb to gorging on my favorite sweets.

As long as I make a beeline for the good things in life – apples, lovely salads, chicken and veggie stir fries, my body and my spirit communicate well. When I cave to the occasional temptation of carbonated drinks, an ice cream, wine or mixed drinks, I pay for it the the next morning – seldom with a headache, but frequently with a vague dissatisfied feeling of non-wellbeing.

Rise with the sun I like to let my body sleep in while my brain is waking up. Rising before dawn is a struggle. Whenever possible, I like to wake naturally with the dawn. Optimum for my frame of mind, is waking gradually  without alarm and having a few moments between sleep and full speed ahead. In these moments, my brain and heart process new ideas and revelations.  I notice what I really think or feel of a goal, problem or relationship after sleeping on it.

This idea is not unique to me.  Melody Beattie recommends paying close attention to your first thoughts and revelations on waking: “Morning Cues, There is an important message for us first thing every day.  Often, once we get started with the day, we may not listen as closely to ourselves and life as we do in those still moments when we first awaken.  An ideal time to listen to ourselves is when we are laying quietly, our defenses are down, and we’re open and most vulnerable. ..lay still and listen and then accept the message.”

Get outside fast When I must set an alarm, my next technique is to get outside as soon as possible, go to the door and stick my head out, open a window.  If the great outdoors is not available to me for some reason, my other option is to get into the shower and let an abundance of hot water cheer me up. Hot running water will forever be my modern luxury of choice. Usually, by the time I am dressed, made-up and out the door, I am invigorated.

Sleep well, rise with the sun, get outside fast, walk, make music, read and write – these all earn a Healthy Heart label.  What choices do you make to keep body and soul healthy?

Wild Wednesdays – No Thoroughfare Canyon

Welcome to the inaugural post for Wild Wednesdays!  Generally, I think too much and live to write about it on the weekends, so I update this blog once a week on Saturdays, or Sundays – maybe even Fridays-as I ponder the deeper (or lighter) things in life. Because I hike out in nature as often as possible, I have an abundance of pictures to share.  Visit me each Wednesday to see where the wild things are these days:  Wildlife, Wild Flowers, Wild Rocks.  I’ll keep the paragraphs at a minimum and let the pictures paint 1,000 words.


The piano is not firewood yet

“The Piano is not firewood yet,” this phrase, from lyrics and music by Regina Spektor, is my new battle song – my new anthem.

I shout, “The piano is not firewood yet!” and it is the voice of John Paul Jones bellowing, “I have not yet begun to fight.”

StudioDSCN2750I hear the voice of God asking in the wilderness, “What have you got in your hand, Moses?” and Moses replying, “A rod.”
“Throw it on the ground, Moses.”
The voice calls to me,
“What have you got in your hand?”
I reply, “A Piano!”

For me, Regina Spektor’s lyrics are literal. Maybe for others, metaphorical. But here’s the deal, It is summer weather. I have four more months of warmth in this 365 days to live, so the piano is not firewood yet; though it has been dangerously threatened over the years. But, if it is not going to be dismantled to keep us from freezing, might it be taken from me another way?

Metaphorically, is it collateral? Capital? A sacrificial lamb? What possibilities does it present? Is it merely to attract more students? Is it to rehearse my fingers for performance? Is it setting there between me and my empty wood box, to inspire my stories (I can’t seem to keep the protagonists from playing the piano)?
Is it to point me constantly toward a heart of gratitude? Once, I did not even have a piano and this one was provided generously, almost miraculously, through a friend.

Regina reminds me to press on, to do what needs to be done.
“the piano is not firewood yet
but the cold does get cold
so it soon might be that
I’ll take it apart, call up my friends
and we’ll warm up our hands by the fire”

The Universe calls clearly, “What have you got in your hand?”

I answer joyfully, “A piano! My piano is not firewood yet!

What is this throwdown going to look like?