Finding balance

I realized I forgot my phone when I was too far from home to turn around. A small twinge of panic shuddered through my body until I remembered that, on an average day, the number of people that call me is approximately zero and I'm sure no one will need to get ahold of me now. I turned up the radio & kept driving.

An hour later, I also remembered that I had google-mapped the directions to my destination the night before ON MY PHONE, and that they were now back on my nightstand while I was zipping past unfamiliar street names with only a vague recollection of where I was going

I threw my arm over the seat and fished around in back to see if I still had my big Colorado Atlas & Gazetteer in the car. This thing documents every highway, side road and tiny little almost-a-road in the state. It was time to go old school. I found the book, dropped it on the passenger seat & pulled over to blow the dust-bunnies off my map-reading skills.

This was way less convenient (but also less naggy) than having Siri track my location and tell me when & where to turn. I had to navigate the big metropolis of Parker and Aurora on my own, pulling over every few miles to make sure I didn't miss my turn, because it felt like I should be there by now.

Finally I pull up to the toll booth at the state park, pay the Day Use fee, and reach for the phone to "check in." Ugh. No phone. No checking in. No photos to show everyone how beautiful it is here.

This is probably why no one calls me. Facebook is a running commentary on how I'm doing & where I'm doing it. Friends don't need to just check in and chat any more because what's there to say? They already know the latest news. Everything worth asking about has already been posted online.  It's been years since I've been without my phone for an extended time. How did we survive before the iPhone?

Well, I made it through today. Got myself there and back. Checked messages when I got home, and as I suspected, I didn't miss anything. This is both sad and enlightening.

The technology that connects us all and makes the world a small place, can also isolate us from those nearby. It can do a lot of the thinking for us & rob us of some of our brain power, while at the same time, placing encyclopedias (remember those?) of knowledge at our fingertips for us to access at a moments notice. It can be a constant humming in our head–just knowing we're always connected. Always reachable. Always online. There was a mental and emotional quiet in being disconnected for a while.

It's a mixed bag, this new technology. The trick is finding a balance. Taking advantage of the good while minimizing the bad. I make my living online, so I can't completely disconnect, but maybe I should forget to take my phone with me more often.

How do you find the balance?


The problem is, I like too many things. When I start designing a website...even if it's just one page... by the time I get it done, I'm sick of it & want to start over completely. Most of the time, I don't even get it done. Halfway through, I want to try a completely different style; a completely different color scheme. Not that I hate the one I'm doing. I'm just done experimenting with that & want to try this other thing. I want to try something simpler or brighter or more monochrome. Something more energetic or something more calming. You can't have it all in one site...that would just be crazy. As crazy as what's happening inside my head, I guess.


She's gone. It terrifies me. I battle my imagination, which is constantly grabbing onto the worst possible scenario. But maybe she's fine. Just because she was black-out drunk & disappeared from a friend's house without her phone, her shoes or her coat on a rainy, 40 degree night, doesn't mean she's not ok now. Just because no one who knows her has heard from her in 24 hours, she's not in the hospitals & did not end up in jail, doesn't mean she didn't find a safe place to hole up. Just because she called one of her favorite people and left him a message, "My life sucks. I love you. Goodbye." Doesn't mean she would really do anything to hurt herself.

Alcoholism and bulimia pack enough pain to bring anyone to their knees with the daily struggles they bring. And I am powerless to help. I, as her mother, should have been able to protect my child from the most colossal heartaches this life holds, but I've failed miserably. When it was most important; when it came to the person I love more than life itself, I failed. 

So there's that swirling around in my head, but really, this isn't about me. My daughter is out there somewhere, missing. 

When she was about 12, we went hiking on a beautiful fall day in the mountains.  We tried to get out often & we'd been hiking together since she was old enough to walk. This particular day we decided to play a game: one of us would run up ahead & hide behind a tree at the side of the trail, and the other person would have to search for them as they walked. It had us laughing and joking and teasing until I came to a fork in the trail. I didn't know which way my daughter chose to hide. I went up one trail for a little way & didn't see her, so I went back & tried the other direction. I yelled her name with increasing panic. I sat at the fork for an hour, thinking she would retrace her steps to find me. I asked everyone that came down both trails if they had seen her. They hadn't. For the first time, I gazed out at the endless acres of pine trees and felt horror. How would you find anyone in that vast wilderness? A place that had always made me feel comforted and peaceful was suddenly a dangerous trap that had swallowed my only child whole. 

Those feelings have returned to me many times over the they have tonight. Although my daughter is no longer a child, her disability renders her so vulnerable and in the wee hours of the morning, I gaze out my window & wonder how I could possibly find anyone in this place full of closed doors; full of horrible darkness as well as kind, caring angels. 

If I had known that experience in the mountains had been a metaphor for much of her life...I would've ...I don't know what I would've done, to be honest. I don't know. All I know is that right now, I'm scared.

update – days later:
When a person is taken to detox, their belongings are taken from them and held. They are not allowed to call out, and once they're checked in, they're not allowed to leave until their blood alcohol level is at 0. At least that's how it works here. The night I started writing this post, that was my last "safe" hope. I prayed that she might be in detox.

The next day, late in the afternoon, she called me. She was, indeed, in detox and was going to be released; could I come get her? I was so relieved to hear her voice and to know she was alright. I asked what happened but she doesn't know. Someone told her that she had passed out in the middle of a parking lot somewhere, on that cold, rainy night with no coat or shoes. Thank God that no one horrible came along to take advantage of her at her most helpless and vulnerable. Instead, someone...maybe more than one person... called 911. In the last couple days, I've gotten bills in the mail – addressed to her, but mailed to me – for an ambulance and the hospital emergency room, so it looks like she made a stop before going to detox. She remembers nothing. This isn't the first time this has happened. I pray it will be the last, but doubt that it will. That knowledge breaks my heart.

Dear Every Photographer On Facebook (you know who you are),

We all know Fall is coming. We know the leaves will turn yellow and the landscape will light up. This isn't our first trip around the sun. So stop posting pictures of last autumn, or your best photo from four Falls ago when you caught the trees at their prime because I'm watching you people. All you photogs that live in the mountains need to inform the rest of us when the trees start turning so we can make plans to get up there. When we scroll across amazing landscapes of quaking gold from last year, well, you're just throwing us off. All of you. Stop that. 


Chomping At The Bit


I'm feeling an impending sense of doom. My insides are shaking, even while my outside looks perfectly calm. I could jump out of my skin at any moment. The slightest thing might make me burst into a wrenching wail, and I'm not sure I'd be able to stop.

I was told yesterday that I am laid off from my job; a job I've been at for 20 years. A job I loved. 

A former boss of mine, who never sleeps & habitually works at Mach speed, heard about the layoff & already has me set up to apply for an opening with one of his consulting clients. On the surface this sounds like a good thing. I won't be out of work for long. It's tough out there. People stay unemployed for months; years! So yes, this is good. But it's too much. I haven't even wrapped my head around leaving my beloved teammates, much less diving into new tasks at a new place with new people, and possibly trying to sell a house and move to a new city so I don't have to commute 2.5 hrs one-way a couple times a week. It's too much. I'm not a whirlwind kind of person. I lean more toward slow & steady and this just might break me.  

A Day in the Life

1.  I drove over to Garden of the Gods early this morning and sat at my favorite overlook where I took this picture, ran it through Snapseed & PicLab HD apps and posted it to Instagram.

2.  Came back home. Let the cat out. Ate some peeps. Checked out the portfolios of some new and previous Caldecott award winners. (I loved this video by the illustrator of Journey, one of the 2014 Honor books)

3.  Faced a dilemma. It was lunchtime & I was hungry. I was also really sleepy. (Waking up at 5:30 am on the weekends, like I do on weekdays, is disheartening.) Clouds have moved in making the light soft and cozy for napping. To eat, or to sleep? That is the question.

4. A ringing phone woke me up from my nap. I threw together a tuna sandwich and returned the call to a friend. After making plans to meet up later, I settle in with my lunch and binge-watch Word Travels on Hulu (still adjusting to my switch from cable to antenna/AppleTv).

5. I hear thunder; the first of the year. It's raining. It's snowing.  It's rowing or maybe snaining.  I'd love to just stay home & do some cleaning, but I need to get ready to leave.

6. Visited with a friend. Grabbed some pizza on my way home. Watched some network tv & ended the day with a few photos of a beautiful sunset.

And there we have it. My fairly uneventful day.  How was your Sunday?

CD Books

I've been listening to books on CD in the car lately. It's great to have someone read me stories while I'm driving. It keeps me alert and entertained, so it's a good thing. Until the narrator starts stuttering and stammering and skipping words altogether right when something exciting is about to happen in the story.

I get my CD books from the library, so it's possible that hundreds of people have listened before me. People who clearly use the CDs as coasters in a pinch, or maybe as a frisbee for their chihuahua. Babies, who are distracted from crying by the shiny coating, scrape their little fingernails across the surface and test it out on their brand new tooth before tossing it across the room so they can get back to what's important – crying.

Normally I power through the skips and try to piece together missed parts from context. Only once have the skips been so bad that I needed to give up altogether & return it to the library unheard.

Recently I've noticed mp3 books on the shelves, which are brilliant. They won't scratch and skip no matter how many people take them home. But you can't listen to these over the car stereo, so...for the time being, I'll be stuck listening to stories recorded onto people's snack plates.

Just say no

Waiting in line at Barnes & Noble today, I picked up a book on the table near the checkout & flipped through it. It was about overcoming procrastination. It seemed to have some interesting, practical steps, and it was on sale, so I bought it. No time like the present, I always say. (Kidding)

Next time I'm standing in line, I'm hoping I'll find a book on combating impulse buying.