Everyday Adventures in this Extraordinary Life

Snapshot 1 (5-31-2013 6-18 AM)

I often joke with my best friend that I could write a book about my life and sell it as fiction because no one would believe it all happened to one person. I haven’t climbed to the top of Mount Everest or formulated the cure for the common cold, I’ve just lived my life and done my best to roll with what comes. I think we all have an amazing and unique story to tell when we escape the mundane of daily existence and see life for what it really is: an endless adventure!

My beloved English teacher and friend, Derek Hulse told me when I was 16 that I should write my autobiography. I found the idea silly because I was only 16 and felt I hadn’t experienced anything that justified an autobiography. Apparently he saw great things in my past and future that were worthy of being told and I’ve been telling them for the past few years in my blogs. I am certain that numerous people live far more interesting lives than I do and I don’t profess to be an incredibly amazing, crocodile-wrestling, swashbuckling woman of the world. I’m just a girl who wakes up every day grateful for another dawn.

I never know what my day is going to bring. Even the smallest tasks turn into large undertakings sometimes. My quest to find a more fuel efficient-and yet still standard transmission-car involves renting an automatic car for the weekend when the first auto deal falls apart. I set out to dig up thistles and the handle on my garden spade snaps like a twig. I go to mow my lawn and the neighbors chicken decide to hold a parade through my lilac bushes. A weekend trip to Boston leads to a whole new direction and purpose in my life that continues to motivate me onward. These are the adventures I’ve lived and continue to live.

So I created a photo montage set to music and uploaded my video to Vimeo for your viewing pleasure…or to at least take up three minutes of your day. You can watch it by clicking on the photo above or the link at the end of this entry. In it I’ve featured several photos from my blogs and others I’ve taken just to document the mind-boggling little mishaps that occur in my life. Stars include my darling daughters, adorable dog, samples of my baking, creatures from the Magic Wings Butterfly Conservatory, my mower, the Massachusetts locations of Boston, Newburyport and Amesbury, some of my artwork and everything in between. I believe it tells an interesting story about the everyday adventures in this extraordinary life that belongs to a simple woman just making her way in the world.

Everyday Adventures in this Extraordinary Life

Confidence is Natural…

Mr. Bluebird perched confidently on my pine tree.

Mr. Bluebird perched confidently on my pine tree.

Confidence. The Oxford Dictionary defines confidence as “a feeling of self-assurance arising from one’s appreciation of one’s own abilities or qualities.” A very apt definition. To me, confidence is something I’ve struggled with for as long as I can remember. Perhaps everyone struggles with it at some point in their life. I often worry that if I am too confident in myself I will come off as conceited. Conceit defined as “excessive pride in oneself.” It can get rather confusing…to me anyway. Then again, I’m a human.

On my drive into work this morning I saw a red-winged blackbird sitting on the tiniest twig of a branch. He was rather calm looking and didn’t appear to have any fear that the twig was going to break and drop him. He knew his wings would catch him if the branch broke. He had confidence in his wings, or perhaps it’s just natural instinct. I envy animals and their instincts and I highly doubt they ever suffer from low self-confidence, worry, doubt or self-deprecation. Seeing that one bird sitting there started the wheels of thought in my brain and when they start, they’re hard to stop.

That blackbird didn’t spot that twig from the sky and think “I wonder if that will support me? What if it breaks and my wings suddenly malfunction and I drop to the ground? What if all the other birds laugh at me?” He probably thought: “Branch. Perch.” and accomplished exactly what he wanted to. No doubts, no fear, no worries, just action. That bird was confident in his abilities as a bird because he knows no other way to be. I envy him. I continued on this course of thought…

I always see hawks circling in the sky or perched on the wires between telephone poles. They’re searching for prey or resting from their last meal. When they spot a mouse, small bird or other oblivious impending victim they don’t think “What if I swoop down, misjudge my aim and miss the prey? What if the prey spots me and runs away? What if my wings get tangled and I tumble and fall gracelessly onto my head? Would my fellow hawks see? I’d never live it down! Would the prey come back and laugh at me?” They just dive and either get their prey or they don’t. If they miss, they’ll try again without a second thought and without a loss of confidence. That’s how they know to be. I admire them.

I am opening myself up for some ribbing from friends by saying this, but I then thought about squirrels. Those bushy-tailed rodents are always running across the road, scampering across wires and climbing trees. They quite often make great leaps from tree to tree and run the tightrope of wires spanning the road. Do they pause on the branch or wire and think “What if I gauge the distance wrong and miss the branch? What if I swish my tail incorrectly and topple from the wire? What if the car doesn’t swerve with screeching tires when I pause in the middle of the lane?” They just act, confidently and quickly. Their lives aren’t long enough to waste doubting their own abilities and there isn’t room in their devious little rodent minds for useless worry. I’m almost jealous. Almost.

It’s spring and therefore mating season among the birds in my yard. The male birds are constantly strutting around puffing out their chests and flapping their wings as they sing what must be a beautiful serenade to the female birds. They’re very competitive and chase each other away every other minute. Their instinct is telling them they need to mate so they do it. They don’t perch in bars, scan bird dating sites and spend hours fretting about having every feather in place. They do what they do and expect it to work and it must since there’s never a shortage of birds in my yard. They’re confident that they can get a mate because that’s how it has worked for countless years.

In my constant quest to be more confident in myself, I’m going to take lessons from the animals I observe around me. There is a balance and power in the animal kingdom that I’m certain can teach me quite a lot. I’m confident that when I stop tripping over my own worries, doubts and fears I’ll finally be able to spread my wings and truly fly…and perch on the tiniest branch of hope without the slightest fret of falling.

My Peeps aka Bird Watching

A gold finch and a purple finch at my feeder

A gold finch and a purple finch at my feeder

Finches feeding 3

Goldfinch keeping an eye out

Finches feeding 2

Both finches checking either direction

Finches Feeding 4

The finches eating side by side with a slate colored junco on the ground

I love feeding the birds. I have three bird feeders around my house so I can watch them from my kitchen window, living room window and deck. It’s fascinating watching the birds with their aerial displays and feeding tactics. I’ve learned what birds flock together, what their songs sound like and how their appearance changes depending on the season.

When I first put out a new bird feeder it usually sits untouched for a day or so. Eventually a scout chickadee will appear and I know that shortly after that the feeder will be covered with goldfinches, house finches, purple finches, cardinals, sparrows, blue jays, juncos, tufted titmouse, nuthatches, grosbeaks and the occasional bluebird. If you click on any of the bird names I just mentioned, it will take you to Audubon’s website with interesting facts about them, what they look like, what their songs sound like and where they live.

The finches and sparrows will eat together with only the occasional squabble and the juncos tend to remain on the ground and eat the fallen seeds. The cardinal couples usually come separately but now and then both male and female share the perch. Nuthatches and tufted titmouse flit quickly in and out without lingering and when the blue jays come they always make a lot of noise about it. Red winged blackbirds visit sometimes but starlings, cowbirds and grackles travel with them too and I don’t like having a huge flock hogging all the food.

I learned a rather surprising life lesson one day while watching the birds. I was sitting out in a chair in my yard watching several gold finches eating happily when suddenly a red-tailed hawk swooped out of the hedgerow and snatched one of the little yellow birds. My mouth literally dropped open. I felt bad for the little birds and they were traumatized for quite a while after that but eventually they returned to eat. That was certainly a vivid display of the circle of life and I am no longer surprised when I see hawks circling in the sky above my yard. The hawks need to survive too and my bird feeders fulfill that need in a roundabout way.

Springtime is an amusing time to watch my feeders because the male goldfinches are ridiculously combative during mating season. They perform aerial duels circling up into the sky before flying off in a huff. Meanwhile the female finches with their less vivid plumage sit contentedly eating at the feeder as the males compete in vain for their attention. I don’t think even female birds are impressed by macho, show-off males. The cardinal couples are always sweet to each other with the male feeding the female and sometimes coming alone to fetch food for her while she tends the nest.

Chickadees are the bravest and often fly right up to the feeder shortly before I fill it. I’d love to have them eat out of my hands someday but we all don’t know each other well enough for that yet. When I sit out on my deck and watch all the birds they often land on the railing or the electrical wires and chirp at me curiously. They’re not shy when it comes to getting their food and I am always humbled and comforted by their trust in me.