Cloud hopping

Clouds to skip over the Hudson Valley RiverToday is a perfect day for cloud hopping.  What, you ask, is that?  Well, I have a particular proclivity to daydream in the clouds.  I like to look up on a day when there are puffs of cotton ball clouds that dot the blue sky.  I imagine myself leaping from cloud to cloud, landing in a soft and springy embrace in the next cloud.  I might bound from a low cloud and vault up to a higher one, or take a long lead and jump a great distance between clouds that are far apart.  Mostly I hurdle like a dancer leaps, one leg stretched out in front of the other; a jeté.  Rarely do I jump with two feet together.  Sometimes I soar from cloud to cloud in one long stretch as if I were playing checkers and jumping over 10 pieces in one successive move.

California wine country-style cloud hoppingMy favorite days for cloud tripping are breezy days when the clouds are moving with a moderate to brisk pace so that I can vary which cloud I go to next based on what is floating nearest.  A few weeks ago, Andy and I were working in the garden on such a day and it took a great deal of restraint for me to focus on the gardening task at hand and not go cloud hopping.  I did manage to squeeze some jumps in when I took a break to lie down on the grass and stretch my back (the gardening work was intense!).

Flying is something that I have been doing since I was a little girl.  My first early experience was at night in my dreams.  Probably due to watching Bedknobs and Broomsticks, I began my treks in the sky on my four-post bed as a child.  In the movie, the children go on adventures on a magical brass bed with their caretaker (who is a witch).  I went on my own adventures as I flew my bed way above my New Jersey hometown.  Mainly I would just watch the goings on from above.  I still love to go up high into the sky and watch the world and I have had those floating dreams many, many times over the years beyond childhood.

Driving along a New Mexico highway - Cloud hopping along the wayAnother media impact on my (you might say unusual, I say wonderful) flight behavior was the TV special Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.  As a little girl, I have a very distinct memory, one that seemed real even when I was old enough to know it wasn’t, of looking out my bedroom window into the sky and seeing Santa and his sled with Rudolph at the front.  I determined when I was a bit older that the angle of Santa’s flight that I saw was exactly what occurs in the very last frames of the animated special.  My lifelong fascination with the sky and memories of my night flight adventures are very dear to me.

Day skipping in the clouds, conducted while awake, is very calming to me and something I am happy to do anytime.  It’s a form of daydreaming so not surprisingly, the clouds can be very distracting, even as I sit here and write.  My desk is in front of a large window and I have a great view above our tree line of a piece of neighboring mountain and best of all, the sky.  I might be in the middle of a sentence when a cloud catches my eye and I decide to go on an adventure in my mind – and in the heavens.

Cloud hopping on a Hawaiian sunsetBut cloud hopping is also very useful and productive.  Because of the meditative quality of the experience, I often solve problems or just become more relaxed when I am way up there.  If something is upsetting me and I am lucky to have the right conditions in the sky, I do a little bouncing from puff to puff and whatever was bothering me becomes less important.  Or I suddenly have clarity and make a decision that is authentic, based on my gut knowledge of what is best for me.  Like the time just a few years ago when I was on a bus in Florida and the sky was particularly splendid in deep blues and puffy pristine clouds.  I realized during that 15-minute bus ride between the media conference and the hotel that I was done with my corporate gig.  I immediately began my serious plans to leave.  The clouds served me so well that day because now I am happy as a child, floating above the sky and doing my own creative work.


Researching like a pac-man

I am always surprised to realize that I am more of a researcher than I thought.  As a child I had this aspiration to cure cancer.  Or should I say dream sequence because it was not that I really wanted to cure cancer per se, but rather that I had an image of people in white coats in a laboratory learning and discovering.  I imagined myself with goggles on and test tube in hand with boundless inquisitiveness.  I was able to articulate over the years that I enjoyed research and learning, obvious in my career choices.  But I suspect that I fell into my area of research and would have been as just as satisfied if I had fallen into another area of research.  Though I am not one to have regrets in life.

As is true with so much in life, things unfold without you necessarily consciously moving in a particular direction.  Yes, we make decisions by not making decisions, but the choice to become a media researcher was very in the moment and not a long-contemplated path.  That is not to say that I do not love media and most certainly I have enjoyed all that I have learned about media and human behavior.  But I have found that at this point, perhaps because I have gathered expertise in the field that it is not enough for me and I crave new things to explore.  It is not that I want to stop being a researcher, but rather that I want to be a researcher of a different kind.  I am grateful that my route into media allowed me to be a research psychologist in the business world.  I learned so much about the human condition and organizations in corporate America.

I research my way through life as easily as I breathe, asking questions of people and wanting to know as much about a person as I possibly can.  It is the psychologist in me, the storyteller in me, the researcher in me that wants to learn by hearing about other people’s lives.  I am a researcher gathering knowledge like a pac-man nibbles away at anything in its path.  My work has redirected to a path that includes understanding human behavior through coaching and celebrating life’s transitions through ceremony.  I can continue to be the researcher I naturally am, but with renewed energy.