Tuesday, May 15, 2018

inside of ourselves


"you never know how inside of themselves people are." i read that long ago in a barbara kingsolver novel and it's stuck with me ever since. in any given situation, you don't really know where people are coming from. maybe they've had a completely shit week. maybe it's been awesome. maybe it's been both - up and down, like any other week. maybe they've just learned they have a terminal illness. maybe their father just died. maybe their mother with alzheimer's just failed to recognize them for the first time. maybe they just lost their job. maybe they just got a new one. maybe they just learned they're pregnant. or perhaps they miscarried. maybe they're tired or have a toothache. maybe they feel lonely or sad or joyful. you just don't know. maybe the path ahead of them seems clear. or perhaps it's obscured and murky. maybe they're relieved the sun is finally shining after too many days of rain. maybe their awesome boss just quit. maybe they feel like they're in limbo. perhaps they're caught up in needless office politics. what if they have a need to be right? to be comforted? to be understood? what if they feel bewildered and alone and cast adrift? what if they are newly in love and their stomach is full of butterflies? you just don't know. you can never really know. and quite possibly they'll never really be able to tell you. but maybe what they most need from you is that you see them - really see them. no matter how inside of themselves they are.

Sunday, May 13, 2018

forgetting mother's day


i really truly normally do not care about these things, but it's gotten to me here this evening that it's mother's day and until my sister said "happy mother's day" to me here at the end of the day, no one in this house had acknowledged it. even tho' i spent the entire day with my daughter and sat and had tea and breakfast with husband. i realize i'm not his mother, but he could have encouraged the child. and she liked about a zillion people's pictures of them and their mothers, but didn't even say happy mother's day until she heard me thanking my sister for being the first one to say anything. and i'll admit that i think it bugs me more because it's everywhere on social media - warm fuzzy posts of people with their mothers, thanking their mothers, acknowledging them. i don't care about a present, as there's nothing i need, but it would have been nice if the child would have at least wished me happy mother's day and maybe brought me a coffee at some point. or posted a picture of us together and said happy mother's day on instagram or facebook. but no. i got nothing. and i have to admit that hurts more than i would have imagined it would. and i honestly wish it didn't. but there you have it. it's undoubtedly compounded by my sister being there to visit our mother and realizing for the first time that mom doesn't really know who she is. we knew that day would come, but i find it genuinely distressing to hear that that day is now. in all, not the best mother's day ever. and not the best way to end an otherwise glorious weekend.

the path ahead


so much turmoil and uncertainty in these times. the daily onslaught of revelations from the corrupt cheeto and his merry band of trumpanzees, power grabs and information vacuums at work. it seemed fitting today as i came across this gorgeous, fragrant field of canola (rapeseed), that the visible path was only visible for a little ways. who knows what lies ahead? we humans like to think we can control our outcomes, but perhaps we cannot. i think of all of the times where being pushed onto another path steered me somewhere amazing, and i wonder where i am being steered this time? i can catch glimpses of so much that's awesome, but there are roadblocks along the way. i'd like to navigate them differently than i have traditionally done, but it's hard for me to see how to do that. perhaps by following the opposite impulses. we can and do continue to grow as people, even as we age, we can learn and we can be even more amazing than we thought possible. it's just a matter of clearing the path to get there.

Friday, April 27, 2018

common threads


NOTE: i began this post a little over a year ago. it's been languishing in my drafts for that long, but i opened it again today and found it spoke to my late night mood...not least because i wonder what the me of a year ago would have written? and at this moment, as i type, i wonder what the me of today will write. let's find out...

think of three people you admire and determine the common thread. a friend did this exercise today (read: last year) (it's apparently from brené brown's book, which i haven't read, because i'm not that fond of her, tho' i may have to reconsider) and it made me curious to try it out for myself.

i think the reason this long languishing post speaks to me today is that i am feeling an acute need to look for the good in people. i've been spending far too much time feeling critical, paranoid and sarcastic of late. it's time to flip myself out of that rut by taking a look on the positive side of things.

first step - sorting through the different people i admire: husband (he continues to surprise and engage me in the best of ways, after all these years), our child (she is so much her own - smart, thoughtful, funny, sarcastic, dedicated), my dad (he may be gone, but he is not forgotten and he was his own to the very end), michael barbaro (what an amazing interviewer!), glynn washington (gives so much of himself when he tells stories), trevor noah (another amazing interviewer - so smart and funny and it's perfectly ok that he's not john stewart, he is trevor noah), karl ove knausgaard (luminous writing to savor), david letterman (his netflix series - such amazing conversations). my old friend joyce who seems to have found her way back from a dark time to be living her best life. my dear friend cyndy, who told us all yesterday in a stark facebook post that she's been diagnosed with lung cancer, but communicated it in an amazing way in which the foundation of strength that her family gives her came shining through, even tho' there is so much uncertainty on her (and their) horizon. another bloggy friend from the old days, mari, who is also moving into an amazing place artistically after the death of her husband from cancer a few years ago. her renewed strength and energy shine through in her pictures these days and she seems to have found a group of supportive, artistic women who give her a power that you can practically feel warming your skin as you scroll through her instagram. it gives me energy just to see her photos.

that's many more than three. and not even the tip of the iceberg.

what do they share, these people? curious, sharp, inquiring minds jump out at me first. a sense of humor is a close second. and lastly (but definitely not least), an independence of spirit that makes them unique.

what is the lesson in this? i need even more people in my life who make me think or laugh or wish i was them - or all three.

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speaking of people i admire, someone wrote a wonderful tribute to my cousin jerry, who lost his battle with cancer last year. you never know whose life you touch.

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look, new podcasts


Thursday, April 26, 2018

keepers



the atlantic's podcast has a segment at the end where all of the people who were on the episode mention something they've seen or experienced or read in the past week that they classify as a "keeper." the idea appeals to me since i always refer to husband as a keeper. and the keeper of the week, i ran across just this evening - a charming little animated film, the danish poet, jointly made by canadians and norwegians in 2006 (tho' it feels very 70s somehow). it even won an oscar for best animated short film. it's both charming and thought-provoking - giving you pause to think about the amazingly unlikely chain of events that lead to your own existence. and they even take the ferry back and forth between copenhagen and oslo a couple of times. definitely a keeper.  

what do you want to keep this week?

Monday, April 23, 2018

i solemnly swear i am up to no good


i've taken to giving myself a weekly set of intentions. i write them on sunday night, occasionally adding to the list during the week, as i sit down to write a few lines outlining my day in my cool journal notebook. opposite the week's page, there's a blank page that's perfect for a little list of intentions. they're really a sort of note to myself, reminding me of how i want to approach the week. some items make the list every week. some are a bit cheesy, some strident and some a bit trite and tired, yet i seem to constantly need to be reminded of them. instead of just vaguebooking about them, i'll share this week's list:

~ carry the weekend's sunshine with me all week, no matter what the weather.
~ no obsessing over the small stuff.
~ no wasting energy in the wrong places, on the wrong people.
~ preserve my energy.
~ do activities which enhance energy.
~ spend time with interesting people who are doing amazing things.
~ learn something new.
~ read a book instead of my phone before bed.
~ work on things which make me tick; ignore (just for this week) those that do not.
~ see the possibilities.
~ stay in an authentic place.
~ stay curious. ask questions. listen, really listen.
~ take pictures with the real camera, even if you have to stop the car to do it.
~ try to see things from a different viewpoint.

i'm seldom very good at keeping these things in mind once the week unfolds. i fall right back into my old usual, judgy, sarcastic and pessimistic patterns, but i figure if i keep doing it, one day it's bound to stick. changing is hard, trusting is perilous, and going for the cynical laugh is just easier. but maybe this week, it'll stick - monday is over and i've spent time with people who are doing amazing things, spent most of the day doing an activity which enhanced my energy, been curious and asked questions (tho' i undoubtedly could have asked more) and i only obsessed over the small stuff a little bit. it would be easier to just take a page from harry potter and solemnly swear i'm up to no good. that's an intention for the week that i could keep. but i probably won't grow much if i do that, so instead, i keep putting these good thoughts out there and at least trying to follow them.

Monday, April 16, 2018

fragments of niceness


i spotted this art project in the heart of copenhagen last week. #fragmentsofniceness by artist kit kjølhede. the sun was shining, i'd just come from a good meeting with my favorite colleagues and i was feeling buoyant. the bright colors, the happy snippets of conversation overheard in copenhagen spoke straight to my soul. what an admirable project - with all that's bad and awful (and orange-tinged) in the world these days, this was precisely what i needed. hell, it's what we all need!


this hasn't been an easy time. a not-very-well planned or communicated reorg about six months ago created a period of limbo and inertia. in such a situation, there are always some ambitious types who take advantage of the vacuum and grab more than they should. and in the absence of clear messages, everyone makes up their own stories and runs with them. and it can create a negative, unproductive space. i believe this is compounded by the darkness of the winter months in our northern climes. but things are beginning to be brighter and it's not just welcome rays of actual sunshine, but things really are becoming clearer. maybe we can only appreciate clarity when we have been wandering in fog.


and maybe the best way to break free of the uncertainty and negativity is to focus on the positive. to laugh instead of bristling and feeling angry. to help instead of hinder. to be open instead of closed. to overhear the positive and nice things. to listen instead of refusing to hear. to seek out nice things to say. and even more importantly, to think. to make sure the inner narrative is positive and open. to say yes to life and possibilities and new challenges and to let go of what's not working. 


i'm ordering a set of these postcards from the artist to hang up to remind myself to look and listen for positivity around me. i really do believe that you attract what you are looking for. and i also admit that of late, i've been looking for ghosts and schemes and lies and games being played - and guess what, i've found all of those in great quantity. well, no more. the time for negativity is past. 


this is the season to embrace change. it's boring when everything stays the same. this is the time to seek the most amazing stories and tell them well. this is the time to let go of what's not working. and to let go of things which are working but not moving anywhere in order to move on to newer, more exciting things. hanging on to the past isn't productive or healthy. it's not how we grow and learn and evolve and become better, stronger, more capable versions of ourselves. and while this may all sound dire, it's really not. it feels like stretching long unused muscles after a winter hibernation, feeling them out once again, exposing them to the warming rays of the sun, getting to know them and put them to good use.


of course, not everything needs to change - home, husband, child, cats and garden remain the fertile ground from which to grow, they are most definitely my own very best fragments of niceness. that and my t-rex costume. everyone should have one of those. they cheer you right up.

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amazing 9-year-old slays new yorker cartoon captions.
and for a bit more low brow version, check out these shitty captions for new yorker cartoons.

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if you find yourself rolling your eyes at the crystal-obsessed, this is for you.

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and one more from the new yorker...
molly ringwald is such a good writer.