Posts Tagged ‘do or die’

I’ve been putting off this leg of the assignment. For one thing, which of my 27 items to write about? Some of those wishes are so deep, fostered and fermented for so many years, just saying them out loud brings tears to my eyes.

The bulto. I’ve dreamed about carving those wooden statues. I have a fantasy about my life if my father had been an artist, not an accountant. Who I’d be in my core. I’m sad that for this life I’ve been born into my vocation, my father’s vocation, my mother’s blind trust in doctors, my father’s lack of savvy and surplus of responsibility. Sad. Sad the way you can be when you miss the ideal mark. Not regretful, not depressed. Not ungrateful. Just sad. I could have had longer legs and a longer waist, more pronounced eyebrows, darker skin, thicker hair. Then I would have marveled at myself in the mirror, walked taller, literally, been happier. In my dreams.

Something concrete. Mom doesn’t care any longer what people think of her. She’s not at the end of the journey. I imagine she cares plenty, yet her plenty is a thimbleful compared to another person’s. And you know, I don’t even want to write about this. Not the hum of the loud refrigerator or the sound of water moving from the water heater in the entryway closet to the far bathroom. Not the clothes tumbling in the stacked dryer, not the tile under my left foot too hot. Not my gratefulness for socks to keep my skin from burning. Not my chagrin for having worn the same pair four days out of four days this week. I’m sock poor, wine glass poor, coffee mug poor, house poor.

When will I realize my dreams? I give myself to my 50th birthday to have my house done, walls painted. And what? Another ten years for the compound? Isn’t this antithesis to the direction most people move as they get older? Don’t they divest? Buy condos. A condo. Travel. Get light?

And me and my dreams. Some are silly, and that’s OK. My affirmation. What does it ultimately matter whether I make all or one? I will get to the Lightning Field in Quemado next year, for my birthday. Jim’s present to me. I will eventually stop caring about how I look. I’m letting the gray go wild, like dandelions in grass. They’re too many to pick and I’m tired of poisoning the earth to get rid of them. I will let my teeth yellow a few more shades but then I will employ strips to bleach them. I’ll lose those five pounds, gain them back, lose them, gain them. Each time I gain it will be one pound more than I lost. The net effect will be gradual weight gain. I will let my face go, stop washing it every night. NOT! Won’t let my teeth go unbrushed any night, although I will give up flossing except once a week. (Is this what it means to stop caring about how you look? I don’t think so.)

By the time I’m dead I will be tired of friends who get torqued because I say what’s on my mind. Although I’m self-aware enough to know I shouldn’t judge friends. A spouse or partner is simply a friend with whom you eventually learn not to get too bent out of shape with when he tells you something you’d rather not hear. Friends expect to be above that kind of reproach. Why, I don’t know. I’d like to make a friend who doesn’t freak out on my actions. I’m human. So are you and you and you and you and you. What’s the point in seeking ideals in every facet of life?

And then again, if we don’t seek some ideals–how to be in the moment, how not to waste this precious life–then what?

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RAW WP – Build an open Prairie-style home somewhere out West. – 20 Minutes Go!

Building a Frank Lloyd Wrightish Prairie-style home was #2 on my 25 Things I Want To Do Before I Die list. The list is not in order. I chose to write on this topic because I realized, at this moment, I believe it’s the least likely to happen. It’s not a rational thought. It’s just a thought.

Liz and I went to FLW’s Falling Water in Pennsylvania on our way to Ocean City, Maryland to visit with my family in 2004. I loved the way the rocks, earth, and water were incorporated into the design of the house. I hated the low ceilinged, dark, cave-like bedrooms. Yeah, I think I’ll leave those out.

I recently read an article in Minnesota Monthly that talked about how families are going back to the smaller, wide open Prairie-style houses of our youth. Well, some of our youths. Photographs were posted of a few of these 50’s homes and I loved them. The kitchen opened up into the living room which had a small stone fireplace and large floor-to-ceiling windows that looked out on the grasslands and nearby lake.

The bedrooms and den were private, a place where you could take personal space. Paint color choices were used to make spaces appear to be larger and the lines of natural woods, cabinets, windows and tiles ran from one room into the next.

Ah — I can breathe easier just thinking about it. But why don’t I think this will happen?

The idea of architecting and building my own house has been a long time dream of mine. But I’ve never believed I’d be able to save enough money to afford it. I do believe I can find the right architect. I know a couple that fit the bill to a T. Model T? Or T-Shirt? Green. I want solar and to incorporate the earth and nature around me. That doesn’t seem like a hard sell.

Do I deserve it? Maybe that’s the deeper issue gnawing at my bones. Intellectually, I say, “YEESSS!” I want to live a big life. The smaller mind is doubtful. But I persevere. I have more confidence in my writing and the structure I’ve built around that part of my life than my long term goals around retiring and building a second home. This home would be a second.

I like the idea of Oregon, somewhere up, up, up like Sea Ranch. I’m not opposed to living in a community of like-minded people. I love western Montana but have lived there before for about 8 or 9 years. And I know the shortcomings. Mountains are grounding. Can I do without the ocean? I choose mountains over ocean. Water is harder to find in Montana. There are a few glacially carved lakes.

A few. I’m used to over 15,000.

Cool green Vermont marbles and I do like tough, clean stainless steel, though some find it cold. I warm up any environment with linens and the hues and values of color and art on the walls. I’m not worried about warmth. I carry it inside. I want clean lines and grand views. But simple.


New Mexico is beautiful. But it’s my spiritual haven. I don’t want to live there. It’s too dry. Second home there? Maybe. No, I think I’ll stick to the Pacific Northwest.

I went to an astrologer once that told me the crosshairs of astrogeology for me hit the bulls eye in a small town in western Washington state. I had once travelled through that town. And lived not far from it in Missoula, Montana. I wouldn’t live in Missoula again because of the 5 valley inversions. Though I love the town. It’s like the Austin of Texas or the Savannah of Georgia. It’s open and doesn’t judge. It leaves you room to breathe.

I’ve got a lot of work to do if I want to make this happen. Money is the least of it. But, yes, it’s a big factor. Then I’ve got the problem of living in Minnesota while I build out West somewhere. I do love the West. And I’ve always planned on retiring there. I spent the first 5 years I was in MN wishing I could move back out West. But now I love the Midwest, too. It’s very grounding. And what if I decide I want to build in North Dakota?

How is this going to happen? If God is in the details, the details are grounded in the small steps I take each day to reach my goals. The more I write about making this dream a reality, the more it will become one. Live into your dreams.


1) not enough money
2) my partner and I won’t agree on the same location
3) not enough money
4) i don’t deserve it
5) i’ll get ripped off if I’m not present during the building
6) it will take too long and I’ll die first
7) what if I never start?

Okay, where do I start? I’ve already started. I’ve set my intention. I’ve done a first writing. I’ve listed my fears. Next, make a list of how to make it happen.

Details. Things happen when rooted in details. And structure.

Make a list of how I’m going to make this happen. A, B, C. It’s easy as 1, 2, 3. I heard Michael Jackson singing Santa Claus Is Coming To Town in Sears last Saturday as I was trying on my Land’s End shoes and waiting for Liz’s new tires to be mounted in the auto center. It struck me that I probably bought the 45rpm when the Jackson 5 first released it in the late 60’s. Or was it early 70’s? I contributed to his millions. Minus the latest lawyer fees.

Okay, he might be a little messed up (gulp) but he’s reinvented himself a thousand times. And so has Madonna. They didn’t start out knowing they were going to make it.

One practice I’ve begun is to begin to emulate people I see as successful. I wouldn’t choose the two above as an overall success. They just popped into this raw practice. There are better names who live more whole and sane lives. But you get the picture.

I learned the same thing in a writing retreat a few weeks ago. If you hear someone read a piece of writing that knocks your socks off, don’t drop your head, wallow into self pity, or want what they have. Become the fierce warrior you are and buck up, “GRRRRRRRR!!!!!!!.” Then steal a good line to start your next writing practice. You are just as good.

-posted on red Ravine December 19th, 2006

-related to Topic post, WRITING TOPIC – DO OR DIE TRIANGLE

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PRACTICAL LIST – How To Build An Open Prairie-Style Home Somewhere Out West

1. Write it down as a goal (DONE)
2. Repeat every day: “I’m building an open Prairie-style home out West”
3. Narrow down “Out West” (it could be ND which is technically “west” : -)
4. Decide what I’m willing & not willing to compromise on
5. Keep a journal specific to this dream to log information
6. Write down every time I do something toward this goal

7. Talk to my partner about my dream. See if she’s on board.
8. Talk about timing of project in overall mutual life goals
9. Compromise. Be willing to bend. Not break.
10. Keep my support communities in the loop. Solicit feedback.
11. Talk to people who have done this. Listen well.

12. Set up a new savings account for this dream
13. Name the account, Funds for Open Prairie-style Home Out West [State]
14. Add $$$ every paycheck, no matter how small the amount (even $1)

15. Brainstorm, treasure map, blog, do writing practices on the goal
16. Locate magazines with photos and articles on Prairie-style building
17. Visit other FLW homes. Like a Julia Cameron “artist date.”
18. Take vacations in states where I can look at possible sites (geocache)
19. Take into account rainfall, sunshine, seasonal changes, wind, ice, snow
20. Take photographs of homes I see in my travels that I love (don’t limit)
21. Get specific about what I love about these homes (details)
22. Check out current magazine articles on natural landscaping
23. Do some sketching of sites in a journal
24. Start researching furnishings

25. Do some long-term financial planning with a professional
26. Talk to good friends with good business acumen
27. Create a spending plan
28. Set goals of $$$ I need to bring in each quarter to make this happen
29. Break it down into $$$ I need to make each day
30. Work toward that amount of $$$ in my business ventures

31. Research green architecture & architects that know it
32. Start talking to architects I want to work with
33. Consider remodeling an existing house. Might be cheaper.
34. Choose a trusted architect to work with. Meet with them.
35. Talk about timeframe & estimates of the project
36. Don’t be afraid to say NO
37. Decide if buying/remodeling or building

38. Decide on the square foot size of the house & number of rooms
39. Talk over materials with the architect and price them. Be realistic.
40. Get specific about colors and styles of marbles, tiles, stone
41. Look at appliance color, style, durability
42. Check out roofing color, style, right for the climate
43. Consider porches, indoor, outdoor, patio
44. Choose window style, size, convenience, light

45. Revisit financial plan once a month (or as many times as it takes)
46. Keep meticulous $$$ records around the project
47. Compare records to spending plan once a week
48. Pay all invoices on time
49. Remember the pro’s I hire work for me. I don’t work for them.

50. Draw up final blueprints after critical decisions are made
51. Research contractors. Talk to my Uncle. Hire the best.
52. Find out what I need to learn about building processes to avoid pitfalls

53. Break ground
54. Celebrate
55. Keep a close eye on the details
56. Live nearby until building is complete (included in financial planning)
57. Work with inevitable frustration of late timeframes. It will pass.
58. Purchase furnishings during build phase

59. Inspect completed home
60. Add furnishings
61. Celebrate
62. Move into home with partner
63. Celebrate again with a housewarming

[Hmmm. 63. The year before my 64th Birthday Bash in Minnesota. That seems like a good year.]

-posted on red Ravine Tuesday, December 19th, 2006

-related to Topic post, WRITING TOPIC – DO OR DIE TRIANGLE

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Here are the 25 27 things I want to do before I die:

  1. Publish a memoir
  2. Take Dee anywhere in the world she wants to go
  3. Learn how to play the banjo
  4. Go back to Granada for a month and retrace all the places I haunted when I lived there
  5. Hike to the bottom of the Grand Canyon with pack animals
  6. Go to the Lightening Field
  7. Do an all-day silent retreat
  8. Learn (really learn) how to play poker
  9. Carve and paint a bulto
  10. Take a full-moon walk along the river with Jim and girls
  11. Paint the walls of my home with faded pigments that remind me of pomegranates, quince, and violet morning glories
  12. Create a compound where I love to be always and where people visit but don’t want to leave
  13. Tell my father’s story
  14. Renew my vows with Jim
  15. Build an horno or maybe a private chapel
  16. Baptise my daughters
  17. Take Em anywhere in the world she wants to go
  18. Learn calligraphy
  19. Stop worrying about how I look
  20. Make a mosaic of a saint
  21. Be accepted into and show at the Spanish Market
  22. Become proficient with internet technology and tools
  23. Really learn how to use a digital camera
  24. Be absolutely secure when I call myself a writer
  25. Stop worrying about what others think of me
  26. Know in my heart who my favorite authors are and read all his/her/their works
  27. Mine from my sisters everything they know about me and my life


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1. Drive to Alaska spend a month there, motorcycle around, hike, see the wildlife and sights of one of the last pristine wildernesses.

2. Build an open Prairie-style home somewhere out West – sans the FLW dark cave-like bedrooms. Open spaces inside and out. Oregon or Montana, high up, looking out over the ocean or spanning long layered mountain vista. Work with a little-known visionary architect who understands my dream.

3. Buy a home with my partner in Minnesota – big enough for us to both have large writing and creative spaces within our home. Floor to ceiling libraries. Open windows and community space. Bathrooms are important – I take long showers and baths. Lots of light. Darkroom space.

4. Make an excellent, abundant living from my creative writing & consulting – Relative, I know. Two million is enough. I’m not greedy. I want to love my work and get paid well to do it. I want to make a lot of money – not so I can buy more things – but so I can have the time and space to do what I love.

5. Be financially well off enough to help my Mother retire and live the rest of her life without worrying about money – Travel with her to all the places she’s always wanted to see. Spend quality time.

6. Write my memoir – Structure time and space for writing in 2007 and beyond. Accept the 3-5 year process of writing a book. Accept that writing takes:

 a. Time
 b. Commitment
 c. Practice
 d. Perseverance
 e. Money To Live
 f. Discipline
 g. Follow Through
 h. Space Inside.
 i. Space Outside.
 j. Silence.

7. Give something back to everyone who has helped me along the way – Particularly with the art and writing. Emotionally, spiritually, mentally, financially – from grade school to middle age. This includes blood family, teachers, mentors, friends, community who push me to my personal best. And adversaries – who push me to be a better person.

8. Write a letter to my blood father whom I haven’t seen since I was 6 – Maybe see him. Seeing is not always believing. This needs more thought.

9. Make amends to anyone I have hurt along the way – as long as it doesn’t harm them.

10. Geocache with Liz in nooks and crannies all over this country – Take her to my favorite places. Have her meet my favorite people. Land is spiritual. Good friends are priceless. Share the wealth.

11. Drive the entire length of Route 66 on a Harley – (or any other bike I have a passion for) It’s got to fit me comfortably. I want to do this with other motorcycle friends and enthusiasts. It’s a family thing.

12. Build a writing space or retreat on a big chunk of land – where other writers and I can meet and write together. This might be combined with my retirement plans or the homes I create or a shared dream with my partner.

13. Have a show of my photographs in a great and well-known museum or gallery – Maybe a group show with other emerging photographers.

14. Have my name be instantly recognized (and big enough to be well compensated) – for my writing, photography, teaching, visioning, sense of wonder, and generous spirit. And also for my love of the arts and the wild creatures that make it.

15. Teach other writers and artists about the great writers and artists that came before us – share the lineage – Feed the passion.

16. Travel to a few select places of sacred geography in Europe – See the wild places, cathedrals and art. Need to get more specific and map it out. Geocache along the way.

17. Own 3 modern, dynamic modes of transportation – with the means to store, upkeep, and replace them when they age – Red or yellow Mini Cooper convertible for Summer. Hybrid medium-sized SUV for Winter – this one needs more thought. Chrome plated, shiny motorcycle – Honda, BMW, or Harley for Spring – this one needs more research. For Fall, I will alternate between all three!

18. Be consistently published in well-respected magazines for the compelling essays, stories, poetry I write – (oh, and I’d like to add, well-paid) The Sun. Poets and Writers. Shambala Sun. The New Yorker.

19. Love The South again – Visit where I grew up, spend quality time with family members still living there. Photograph family history, cemeteries, old haunts, schools, teachers, write about my experiences. Publish what I write.

20. Plan and attend a huge outdoor reunion in western Montana – spanning a whole weekend. Invite the people I grew up with there in my 20’s and some of the people in my life now. Remember the good stuff. Do a river raft trip. Hike in the mountains. Photograph. Document. Honor the process of living. Love.

21. Have a huge 64th Birthday Bash in Minneapolis – Rent a rooftop condo for a weekend. Invite everyone who has ever been anyone in my life. If they can’t afford to come, have enough money to pay their way. Provide huge amounts of food, space, music, dancing, love. Celebrate life. And the fact that I’ve made it that long!

22. Let go of any resentments or ill feelings I have – no matter the shape or form. Stop clinging to the past. Open to what is.

23. Let go of any and all material things I don’t absolutely love living with – I don’t need inanimate objects to fill me up. Cultivate a sparse, clean, but warm living space with little clutter.

24. Before I die, I want to live every day within my means – I buy nothing on credit, I owe no one (not one red cent), and I am debt-free – for at least 30 years – or the whole second half of my life, whichever comes first.

25. Recognize and know in my heart that I am enough. Just as I am. – Live every day like it is my last. Keep jumping – the net will appear. I am enough. I have enough. There is enough for everyone.

BONEWRITER DISCLAIMER: This is a list of 25 things I want to do before I die as of Thursday, December 14th, 2006. I reserve the right to change or expand this list, as I change and expand my life. Merry meet. Merry part. Merry meet again. So mote it be.

-posted on red Ravine Thursday, December 14th, 2006

-related to Topic post, WRITING TOPIC – DO OR DIE TRIANGLE

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Blog #1 Make a numbered list of 25 things you want to do before you die. (they don’t have to be in order of importance and don’t labor over it) Go ahead and post the list as a blog entry.

Blog #2  Choose 1 out of your list of 25. Do a 20 minute writing practice on that 1 topic. Time yourself. Stop after 20 minutes. Post your raw practice as a separate blog piece.

Blog #3 In a 3rd blog entry, list the practical details (in numbered order) of how you are going to make that 1 dream happen (the one you wrote about in #2) before you die.


-posted on red Ravine Wednesday, December 13th, 2006

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