Northstar

Our 12.5 year old, 130lb malamute is declining. There are good hours interspersed in his day and moderately good days smattered in a week of difficulty. I know time is nearing I am getting close to feeling we should preempt an accident or real discomfort.

It’s the gathering of issues. Incontinence, which for the past few months only occurred every couple of weeks, now only a couple of days each week go by. Stair issues are increasing and adaptions have been made. However, if you ever tried to help a 130lb fiercely independent animal up or downstairs, not an easy task. He can’t easily or comfortably travel with us anymore. He still delights in his short, daily meditative stroll and sniff. He still eats his wild caught salmon. (Only the best right?) The hardest is probably his hind legs. One day they work and the next he’s scooting on his butt because they won’t carry him. Enter the harness attempts….We have loved a 130 pound beast that we can not carry upstairs or scoop up when he collapses.

I have laid dogs to rest before. I have spread ashes, buried tufts of hair in sacred boxes. I know it’s hard for everyone that does and everyone has suggestions that worked for them. Everyone selects what thread of assistance they can follow to their pet’s end. We must remember exactly that. Pets are part of a family unit. People must act out of what is best for their family. Not another’s.

As much as we wish he would blissfully pass away in his sleep while dreaming of bounding through two feet of snow, I don’t think that is in our stars. We are left to watch the slow demise, using the best we have in our hearts to choose when we believe he’s had enough; along with somehow sifting out the feelings of when it’s us having enough. Maybe it needs to be a blend.

My ailing dad, having had enough, prayed for his own death, (for God to let him come home, he’d say). At least 2-3 more weeks passed before he died. He didn’t get to, our society could not let him decide that….at least not where he resided. Our society tasks us with that decision for our pets. Some get/send clear messages but this proud boy isn’t. 😔

Pushing Limits

I discovered today one should not operate machinery on a book release celebration day. I didn’t try to so no stitches were needed. However, when putting on boots to walk my dog, I kept putting my shoes back on instead. Head in book-thought, preoccupied…whatever….machinery would have ended badly.

I am so very good at over thinking-anything. Vacillating, turning it over, repositioning it, and analyzing from all sides. I am guilty of then wondering if I really considered well enough. I am an eternal optimist except when it comes to acts that put me in the spotlight. Then it is a struggle to remain positive about outcomes. My rarely accessed but acute alter ego savagely rears up spitting thoughts meant to have me step back. I recently created mantras to stop the circle of doom thinking. Every time the negative comes up, I force myself to repeat the positive at least twice.

I recently re-found a book by Bruce Lipton called The Biology of Belief. In it there’s a statement, “Consequently, programmed misperceptions in our subconscious mind are not ‘monitored’ and will habitually engage us in inappropriate and limiting behaviors.” I am choosing to re-program my feeling everything that moves me a step closer to being prominent, must end badly.

Let’s hope it works>it is working>but is it really>yes>but>no buts………you get the idea.

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Book Release

E-book releasing 4-22-2019; Print available early May.

I am excited this Book Release day is truly approaching. Although I didn’t cry quite as much as Frodo in LotR, there were some tears, many aaarghs, and ughs, and words I won’t type here. Who gets anywhere important without a few Sam Wise’s by along on the journey. Many had be on belay. Whispers for Terra is a light hearted read about some serious issues. Enjoy!

Find your Voice but Never say Never

I keep trying to get my sister in law to write her own blog because hers would be so funny and beautifully raw. Until then, I hope you will keep hanging out with thought-filled, sometimes insightful, journal-ey, me.

When I started this blog back in October or so of 2019, I had NO idea I would be writing a book. I always said I could never write one, “I suck at dialogue”. Crazy but once started, dialogue flowed. Question those limiting statements! Never say never. Now in a month’s time…… Whispers for Terra will be released. http://nancyhouserbluhm.com

Getting comfortable with self promotion, turning the light on me, was painstakingly hard. The hardest part of writing the book wasn’t the writing of it; it was all the parts that required me to ‘find my voice’. I have helped others learn, re-learn communication for 40 years as a speech pathologist. It was damn hard to use my voice to promote author me, or to merely explain the book. Not just metaphorically but physically, my voice would suddenly become hoarse, crack as soon as I spoke. Support others, stay behind the scenes, you can’t go big, lift others. A friend reminded me, it is good to let others lift me! I finally told those old messages to sit down and shut the f*#k up! I can be those AND be out front.

Watch for Whispers for Terra on April 22. That’s Earth Day. 🙂

There are so many ways to reach me….Instagram (jnbpine), newsletter (sign up through my website), Email (n.houserbluhm@gmail.com), and here.

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Thanks for visiting. Keep using your voice for truth, for good, to lift others. The world needs all those.

Design by Claudia Edwards-Houser; Photo by Mo Dedrick

What Matters?

I don’t think President Biden would mind my taking his words…..

Words Matter, tone matters, civility matters.

These are basic tenets that are used most days in the life of a young person with autism. Doesn’t seem they should have to be spoken at such a level of our government, alas, there’s a need for a ‘friendly reminder’. Another phrase which can often be heard in a 1st and 2nd grade classroom.

That’s all, just that….let’s all go practice.

Short and sweet. Let your words be kind, your tone caring, and don’t punch anyone. LOL.

Representation does matter

Ears are now tuning into the concept of representation matters whether it’s for employment, sports, TV and movies, advertisements, education or government. It was introduced to me by Antero Garcia, a speaker at a diversity conference through my school system. Adolescents needing to have their experiences reflected, see their faces in school, YA novels, was my take away message. Whenever I integrate a new concept I feel sheepish it didn’t occur to me sooner, but some tiny corner of me must have known its absence because it resonated so strongly.

All these toys were placed in a Toy Hall of Fame sometime late fall 2020. I played with most of these, but was struck by the Baby Nancy. I no idea she existed. Pathetically, I was first struck by the fact a doll was named Nancy; my first name. Growing up I knew few people with my name. Nancy was rarely used in TV shows or songs; only Frank Sinatra’s song about his daughter of the same name. Oh yes, there’s a mention in a Beatles song. I can not begin to project how people of color may have felt seeing Baby Nancy on the shelves. It wasn’t the first doll of color but this one apparently rocked the toy world. https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.latimes.com/opinion/op-ed/la-oe-goldberg-baby-nancy-black-doll-shindana-20190312-story.html%3f_amp=true

Fast forward to 2020, I know a 6 year old, who when given all the possibilities, requested diverse dolls this Christmas. It wasn’t about diversity, but what she liked, what the dolls represented to her. Even better.

Know a person’s name, say it often, are basic sales tenants. People want to hear their name, they want to see their color, their sexual identity; representation matters. ****I do not imply, in the least, hearing my name in a song shares equal footing as having substantial representation in workplace, government, or movies. In fact I propose the opposite. If someone in the Covid ‘at risk’ age group, felt a little thrill discovering a doll from 50 years ago held my name, imagine the treasure of seeing a like face on the screen or as… vice president of the United States, or as Transportation Secretary. Representation can imply our value. Lack of, dismisses our value.

Until next time- Nancy

Smashing resistance

Ok, may be not smashing, maybe not even acknowledging….in fact more like running the other direction only to have resistance circle around and smash into me again. Then to have the newly recognized resistance pair up with an old one, build more strength and smash into me again.

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That’s been my month as I grapple with the editing process of my novel. Which editor, why, how much, what can they do, what do I want, why not the other ones, what if the choice is wrong and circle-circle-circle all day and into the night. It has been preoccupying and exhausting. Believing (in my smug self-perceived awareness), I had faced, stood up to, stepped on and over most of my barriers to accomplishing things, I find myself the novice, the newbie. It sucks but is needed.

For decades I have tried to look at my shit. A friend said just the other day said, “We will never arrive….” to which I replied “I am pretty f***ing tired of it and want to actualized right now!” Too bad, not happening and she’s probably right. The best we can do is surround ourselves with people who care enough to hang in there with us, listen intently to our droning, as we climb the mountain finding ourselves looking down, screaming, “I have already seen this, how did I get back here?”, but hopefully now from a higher perspective, one that allows us to keep trekking in this luscious but all too often exceedingly frustrating game of life.

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Marginalized

Every.single.time I hear a story about the Suffragettes I am awe struck with admiration. I love when their life’s work anniversary comes around and people remember. It’s not just the decades on decades, they persevered to legalize the women’s voting rights; I am awed they never let opposition presented as criticism, hatred, and even brutality (google pictures of force feeding suffragettes) deter them. Layer that with black women having to find their own way through that movement with their continued fight for their legal right to vote no matter where they lived in the United States.

I always stop and listen to every story, even if I know how it rolls. They did all this for me, for daughters, for sisters, for mothers. They deserve to be remembered.

In the 2017 a Meryl Streep movie, The Post, there’s one line that spoke louder than all the others. It went something like, “I wasn’t just ignored, I wasn’t even seen!” She was speaking of the way women were perceived, more precisely not perceived. Marginalized is defined as treating a person, group, or concepts as insignificant or peripheral. For too long we weren’t even a consideration to some. We were not on the radar.

My mother was born before women were guaranteed the right to vote. It’s hard for me to wrap my head around that America was 150 years old before women could vote. I was 10 years old by the time black women were guaranteed the right to vote with the Civil Rights bill. I was almost 40 when the Violence Against Women bill was signed and domestic violence was no longer considered a ‘family issue’. It took until 1994 before men could no longer legally beat their wives!

I came of age in an era when women were once again emerging from being marginalized. Yes, working outside the home had been normalized. This time it was related to male coveted business, and leadership roles. Some may remember when women’s work styles were essentially a feminine version of men’s business clothes. It had be done.

I am sure there were women who grew up with every belief they had the same options as men. I went to a Catholic school in which the religious culture, by its every doctrine, spoke of revering women while at the same time sidelining them.

My mother was a strong, well read woman but silently held limitations and subtilely passed those to me. It isn’t that I was told I couldn’t be something. It was more no one thought or knew to dream of more for me. It wasn’t considered. Early on I didn’t know to dream more for myself. Women’s long worn career paths, if we chose to even take one beyond marriage, were primarily teaching, nursing, or secretarial. Each are important fields but if you check, still predominately female. It’s not about devaluing those but feeding the souls of women as diverse in interests as there are career paths. Not every woman my age was bound by the 1970 established expectations. I had classmates that went on to be doctors, lawyers but hardly the norm.

Messages growing up bombard us from all sides. Our family culture, our educational culture, our religious/spiritual culture, our circle of friends culture, and our broad societal culture each whispering or shouting to us on some level. For me, it was the shifting culture of our society, along with watching my 2 older sisters step into the realm of being more, that cleared the brush for me to see more.

At home my mother didn’t dream of more than marriage and children for me. Attending college was normalized but not specifically for a sustaining career. My educational system didn’t know to dream of bigger purpose for my social, organizational and leadership skills. My religious culture didn’t know to do anything but view me as a support person. I was guilty of falling in line with those unspoken limitations. My eyes were scanning out farther, but I left high school on the secretarial tract and I was quite shitty at shorthand.

In the early 1970s, women were rising up and changing the societal culture. My sisters were listening and talking about it. My mother was quietly listening too. Some teachers spoke words of encouragement to me, but few. Some women emerged, aimed for more and retreated to the familiar. Some emerged and shined light on their own paths. It became a movement of choices. Not that we had to, but that we could, if we wanted to. The latest frontier is women in coding, in science, in math, and surely the highest office of our country. I long to hear, “Madam President….” and not have it be a TV series.

Just the fact there are still men who don’t think birth control should be paid for by insurances tells you there’s still risk. Men who still fear our power and choose to call us names. I worry that young women, in their teens or 20s take much of this for granted. The realm of possibilities has been expanding for many years now. I believe there are those banking on female complacency as they quietly chip away. We must all keep listening to and honoring the suffragettes of 100 years ago, of 40 years ago, of 20 years ago. Today is no time to sleep or rest on accomplishments. There are still too many who can not dream and many dreams unconsidered.

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Letting Go

It feels like a different world since I wrote mid-March, doesn’t it? We must be existing in an alternate realm, all having to navigate something new, sadly let go of something valued, but hopefully discovering something surprisingly good along the way.

I wonder if there is a formula for knowing when it’s time to let go of something whether it’s idea, an object, a memory, or even a relationship? If there is, it must have to do with the ‘why’ you have held on to it for so long. It use to be my pattern to feel I’d failed if I let go of something I had set out to accomplish. Every now and then I find that pattern rears up. For months I had a task on my weekly to-do list, and in my head for at least 2 years prior to that. It was something I felt passion for when the idea first wormed into my brain. As I transferred it from one otherwise-completed list to the next, it felt like an anchor keeping me from moving forward. It no longer stirred passion or purpose. I put an X through the word, put away the related file, bid it adieu, letting it fly for someone else to catch. Soon after that step, a mentor made a statement I look at every day-

Let go of what of what you think it should look like.

I have since finished the first draft of my book. I am enjoying the process of revising, recognizing my story doesn’t suck. It is no easy task, letting go of holding on. I believe the universe has been waiting for a pause in my chatter to slip in a new intention. I am listening.

Calming down

Two journaling activities come to mind during this time of inner and outer chaos. Neither originated with me. I found them both an interesting process and useful for slowing my worries by giving me clarity and a plan of action.

The first, Structured Writing *activity, has saved me MANY times at 2 AM, as I ruminated on an issue and couldn’t shut my brain off with any number of strategies, healthy or otherwise. I was taught this method by drawing lines through a circle, and slicing it like a pie. Write one question in each section.

The second, Nurturing Myself, I learned during a Journaling for Teachers class. I am not sure of its source. It was a surprising challenge when I first did it. I had to put considerable thought into identifying several nurturing aspects for each category of Places, People, and Activities. Identifying one was easy. It became clear I needed to place more energy into these soothing areas.

I wish you the best in calming yourself in these times. It’s not easy and you are not alone.

I have not repeated the dominant/non dominant portion of this activity; I probably should!

*Kathleen Adams is a journaling instructor in the Denver, CO area. The name of the Book is The Way of the Journal.