Friday, June 17, 2016

being sick is such a waste of time

"Her secret, if indeed she kept one, might be that we cannot comprehend how different our lives are from everyone else’s," on Diane Arbus, from this piece in the american scholar.

i was part of a community art project last weekend. it was a waste time home party and the concept was developed by artist anja franke. the event was part of a cooperation between trapholt, an art museum in kolding and the 7 communities that make up the triangle region of denmark. our local art associated played host to the event, together with our local library.

the idea is that your admission ticket to the event is a piece of white porcelain, probably something you found at a flea market or which was lying around your home, not used all that often. so a "waste" piece of porcelain. everyone who comes gathers to eat a meal together using the porcelain and then, when the dinner is over, it's all washed and the group embarks upon painting their interpretation of the waste time pattern onto the plates, cups and bowls. the painted pieces will be part of a larger exhibition in september at trapholt.

with the influx of refugees spreading across europe, the question of home was central. it was also important for us to include some of the refugee families that live here in our little town. we were fortunate to find a syrian family who was willing to cook the meal that we all shared. and i got to help prepare the food. we worked together in the library's kitchen all morning and i tried to learn as much as i could about syrian cuisine while i helped. it's quite a mediterranean kitchen and not unlike the cuisine i know from the balkans, turkey and greece. we had so much fun in the kitchen, laughing and joking as we prepared the food. i've posted some pictures of it over here (in danish, but the pix do speak for themselves).

part of the program was an all-too-short salon, where questions about home, waste and time were posed and discussed in small groups. as i've been lying around sick this week, trying to get over a miserable summer cold, i've had occasion to ponder the list of questions. there's undoubtedly a whole series of blog posts in the questions, but i found myself focusing on the waste section, as being sick feels decidedly like a waste of time. and since i've covered home a lot here on mpc, i'll save that and time for another...well...time.

"when do you feel that you're wasting time?"

i definitely felt like i was wasting time this week, as i wiled away the days in bed, blowing my nose, drinking tea, coughing and generally feeling miserable. even tho' i skyped in to meetings at work and actually got quite a lot of work done on documents since i was without the usual interruptions for cake or lunch or conversations that happen at the office, i still felt like being sick was such a waste of time. it comes with a feeling of frustration - with myself, with my body for succumbing to illness, for not being able to do enough, for not having energy, for feeling crabby and achy and out of sorts. being sick is just such a waste of time!

i tried to put into practice some of what i've learned at yoga about listening to my body. getting sick was surely my body's way of telling me that i needed to slow down. but i couldn't help but feel impatient and want it to just hurry up and get well so i could get back to all of life's obligations once again. but that seems to be taking some time.

but in the end, i've given in to my dull headache and all that snot clogging up my brain and said i'd return to work on monday. and i've rested and snuggled with the kittens and tried my very best not to consider being sick a colossal waste of time. and i might, just might, be starting to feel just a little bit better. just in time to care for husband, who seems to be coming down with the damn thing now too. summer colds are the worst.

when do you feel that you're wasting time?

* * *

the perils of following healthy living blogs.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

taking comfort in kittens

after a wonderfully hectic week last week, involving being onboard four different ships and some very late nights, i've succumbed to a summer cold. the weather has deteriorated from glorious summer sunshine to dreary rain in tempo with my health. i have the comfort of kittens. and what a comfort they are. i'm utterly depressed and rendered speechless by the latest shooting in orlando and the vitriol of the fundamentalists and bigots of the world (all of whom seem to be filling my facebook feed). not even instagram was safe ground as my own nephew shared a worryingly pro-gun, pro-trump post. i wonder if he even knows what he's saying? or if he's parroting the society around him? it's all too depressing, so i retreat to the comfort of kittens and cups of tea and chicken soup with kale from the garden. and i wish that it would all go away - the terror, the bigotry, the hatred, the guns, the rain and this cold.

Saturday, June 04, 2016

a bit wonky

here are the pots i made at the ceramic course back in april. they've been glazed and fired and were ready to come home today. they are wonky, but i am pleased to see them. i'm going to put various trinkets in these.

this one will be perfect for serving smoked almonds.

this was one of the first ones i threw and it's especially wonky. but i kept it and put a handle on it to remember those first, unsure steps. i will definitely be drinking cups of tea from it.

i think this one will be perfect as a cat food bowl for a special cat.

and i had to have a couple glazed in nina's cheerful colors. i had so much fun working with the black glaze that i almost forgot to leave some plain to just choose colors. and being me, they weren't really all that plain with their little dotty bobbles. i love how they turned out!

Saturday, May 28, 2016

alone time

being alone? how much do i love thee? let me count the ways...

~ eating spinach for dinner (i start by sauteeing an onion in butter, add spinach and a little dash of cream).
~ i can talk to the cats.
~ using cat voice (not that having other people around holds me back from that).
~ humming to myself and talking to molly in the greenhouse as i plant a few more things in pots, water and pull a few weeds.
~ listening to podcasts instead of watching television or netflix. check out the latest mini season from the heart. binge on millennial, new to the radiotopia family.

~ taking dozens of pictures of kittens.
~ mowing the lawn (while listening to the aforementioned podcasts).
~ folding the last of the laundry (the last of the laundry is such a welcome thing).
~ the privilege of a first read of a friend's novel.
~ talking to my dad in my head as i pick asparagus.

~ picking a lilac bouquet, bringing it in and enjoying the fragrance.
~ going to yoga for two hours every evening during my work week.
~ silence.
~ letting go of negativity and negative experiences...watching and physically feeling them float away in my mind's eye.
~ feeling in touch with myself, physically, emotionally, creatively and psychologically.

~ buttered radishes with a sprinkling of flaky sea salt as a snack.
~ appreciating my time together with others so much more.
~ being consciously happy.

* * *

what do you do when you're alone?

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

when grown women act like they're in junior high

you know that moment when someone calls you out of the blue and is angry with you? you get a whole litany of complaints from them, some which are perfectly valid, but they were so off your radar that you’re taken aback by the whole thing? it’s an instant of insight into another perspective; one which you definitely would never have arrived at on your own.

during that phone conversation (which feels strange in and of itself, because honestly, who makes phone calls anymore these days?), you realise that the person actually just wants to be mad and doesn’t want to resolve anything with you. she just wants to communicate her anger. repeatedly and insistently. and she definitely does not want to listen to you, nor does she actually want the information that she claims you have been withholding from her. she mostly seems to want to give you lessons about a culture that you clearly don’t understand, what with your being a foreigner and all. and while it’s all very unpleasant, people are entitled to their emotions. and sometimes situations make us angry. but you’re actually quite zen about it because you have no vested emotions in this person. you’d met her a few times, but actually felt quite ambivalent about her, not disliking, but not liking either. and you chalk the whole thing up to what you have to endure if you’re going to head up a little artsy organisation involving a bunch of women. because women are always worst to one another (why is that?).

however, it doesn’t stop there. the angry person takes to facebook and airs her complaints publicly on the group’s facebook page. you’re traveling for work at the time and don’t have time to address the complaints in the public forum, but thankfully one of the other members does so. a few weeks later, when you try to do so and actually to thank her for motivating the board to start an electronic newsletter to keep members informed, you discover that you are blocked from commenting on the post. and also on another post, which is complaining that the angry woman can’t see the information you posted about an upcoming event. and you realise that the reason she can’t see it, or any of your other posts, is that she has blocked you. and you investigate how one goes about that on facebook and you realise that it’s not something that could have been done by accident – it had to have been intentional. she wanted to spew her complaints and she didn’t want you to be able to answer them. and while that’s normal behaviour on the internet, it’s actually not that often that you encounter it in real life. and you move away from ambivalence towards dislike.

but you try to actually curb your knee-jerk response to such a person and handle it from another, more zen place. so you send an email with the comment that you wanted to post, praising her for sharing her experience with the group and for prompting us to start a tiny letter newsletter. and you say that it’s perfectly ok that she has blocked you on facebook (and you actually mean it), but that she should know that it’s why she can’t see the information you post in the group and could she kindly refrain from publicly complaining about that when she has chosen it herself.

she responds with pleas of a lack of tech savvy and asks you to explain how she can fix it. so you play tech support and give her a detailed description of where/how you block and unblock people (after googling your way to how it's done). and when she stops by the exhibition, you also show her the same on your own computer, which you happen to have along. but you maintain a wary distance and are not warm and friendly, because hello, she did block you and now she’s standing right in front of you, lying to your face about it.

some hours later, you hear that she proceeded to go down to the square and talk shit about you to several of your friends. and with that, you’ve had enough and you write to her once again, kindly asking her to please take the conversation directly with you and not go around talking about you on the streets. and, while lying to you directly that she hadn’t done so, like a child, picking up their toys and going home – she petulantly picks up her paintings from the exhibition and says she is leaving the group. and you wonder how grown women (seriously, she's in her 60s) can behave like that.

maybe we really do learn how to behave when we’re in junior high.

and then your ambivalence returns. and you realise it’s all just fodder for an eventual novel. if people didn’t want you to write about them unfavourably, they should have been nicer.

Sunday, May 01, 2016

the view from sunday night

did you know that until this week, i'd never been to brussels? since i've started my new job, i've added two countries i'd not visited before - poland and belgium. i do hope things continue along those lines.

it's very exciting and wonderful to travel, but i miss writing on a daily basis like in the old days (read: five years ago). i find i get a congested feeling, not processing all of these experiences through my fingers and onto the page. i definitely need to find my way back to that. it feels like time has accelerated and i just don't have the same time to sit down and write that i once did. and i miss it a great deal.

but today, with glorious sunshine at last, i didn't manage it either (until now), despite my head spilling over with words that want to find their way out my fingers, thoughts that need to be processed. instead, i used my fingers to plant tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers in the greenhouse, as well as starting broad beans, squash, pumpkins, tomatoes and kale. may 1 sounds late to start things, but it's been such a cold spring, they'd never have survived before this, not even in the greenhouse. but planting feels important as well and it's time i get with my precious molly, who is a garden kitty. she loves when i'm working in the garden, it's the one thing that visibly makes her happy.

i guess one of the reasons i've been writing less is that i'm working more on getting in touch with my body. my autumn back problems were a real wake-up call. i feel like it happened because i'd neglected the physical side of my being for years. i'm not sure i've ever actually been in touch with my body or really listened to how it's doing. when i'm in copenhagen, i go to yoga nearly every evening, so i'm working very diligently on getting in touch with my body. and trying to learn to listen to it. and it's not easy. while i'm holding a yoga position and i'm supposed to be concentrating on it, i find it hard to keep my mind from wandering off to lists of things to do, emails to write, photos to upload. but i love the feeling that my body is getting stronger and more reliable and i'm learning, slowly but surely, to listen to it and let it be the boss once in awhile, rather than living entirely in my head. it's about finding a balance. i'm not there yet, but i'm practicing.

the past week has been full of wonderful experiences and conversations. getting to know one of my new colleagues, who i really click with, and laughing a lot and buying plenty of belgian chocolate with her. getting together with an old friend and having a wonderful catch-up and deep philosophical discussion over good food. that evening made husband and i think about the way our relationship works and gave both of us a genuine (and thankfully positive) experience of seeing ourselves through someone else's eyes and coming to new appreciation for our relationship. then, a party full of music, dancing and good food in the heart of copenhagen. and today, seeing husband taking his first steps as a politician and candidate for the city council and then enjoying some hours of sunshine in the garden, preparing to grow food to nourish our bodies in the months ahead.

i just have a rich sense that it's all interconnected. i need both mind and body and awareness of both. i need travel to inspire me. i need deep conversations, wine and good food. and i need physical time with the soil and the cats and some sunshine and podcasts in my ears. put it all together, add a little time to write about it and i am filled up and ready for the week ahead. it holds a workshop and meeting a lot of new people. and they promise sunshine. what more can one ask? a couple of days off at the end of the week? go on then, i'll take those too.

enjoy the week ahead, one and all. you never know what's in store!