Monday, June 11, 2018

midlife tuneup?



i read this long piece on doing a midlife tuneup in the nytimes today. some of it seemed a bit meh and perhaps even patronizing- exercise, eat right, get enough sleep (blah, blah, blah). although i'm skeptical of the mindfulness/life coach madness that's about in the world today, the section on mindfulness and what it does for the ageing brain seemed a bit intriguing, so i kept reading. the following section on a midlife mission statement also spoke to me (being inclined to the odd personal manifesto (hmm, that one still rings pretty true...)). i've already been actively trying to have better bedtime habits (no phone nearby being the main one, tho' i fell off that wagon after a late coffee one day last week and did NOT sleep well for a couple of nights). also, i appreciate the irony of the fact that it's currently 12:44 a.m. 1:13 a.m. and i'm still at the computer. but the last section - about building up your resilience really spoke to me. all year, i've been writing intentions in a journal and they have been optimistic and positive. it hasn't always worked and there have been some dark times of late with reorg turmoil at work and the departure of my wonderful boss, but i faithfully continue, confident it will eventually seep in. i like the advice in that section - there are several things i feel i can actually use - rewriting the story i tell myself in my head, helping others and i've already taken a stress break when i could see that a situation was going to be more negative and unproductive than i needed it to be. the stress break really helped, even if the effects don't last long enough. i also like the idea of finding my discomfort zone - as long as it doesn't involve heights, that sounds rather intriguing. and i would do well to remember the times when i came back from adversity. perhaps the best start to it all would be that good night's sleep they talked about...


Sunday, June 10, 2018

a rainy sunday afternoon


it's raining at last, after an entire month of sunshine. we've never had an entire month of sunshine in a row, so it was very welcome, but so is the rain. the rain has made me slow down - i can't be in the garden, picking strawberries or weeding or mowing or hoeing, so i'm in the plant-filled front entry with a cup of creamy coffee, a book, my journal, my camera and the kittens. i must admit it's bliss and precisely what i needed. i've been reading some more of knausgaard's small autumn essays. it's a book i've had on the nightstand for some time - you can just pick it up, read one or two as you wish, and then put it down again for some weeks. it lends itself to this slow way of reading it; each essay is shining, deep and luminous and i must get the rest of the seasons to savour as well (as you might guess, there are four volumes in all). they are small musing on single words - words like badger, war, labia - very diverse - written by knausgaard to his unborn daughter, as they awaited her. they're not exactly micro-memoirs, which i've also been pondering since hearing about them on the bittersweet life podcast, more like little perfect essayistic musings on being human. in looking for more small, perfect essays, i came across brevity, an online magazine filled with them. check it out if you're looking for something to read on a rainy sunday afternoon.

Friday, May 25, 2018

four kittens = much delight





i've been listening to the kind of podcasts that i wouldn't normally listen to - mostly because the ones i normally listen to do a lot of talking about trump and his posse of trumpanzees, and frankly, i'm over that. so i listened to some back catalog stuff from oprah's super soul podcast (the alanis morissette episode) and also the bittersweet life (start with micro and quite possibly also stop there). my mind is buzzing with ideas of things to write about, but it's quite late and while that doesn't matter so much since i'm taking the day off tomorrow, i need to let them gel until morning. but suffice it to say, i'm looking forward to writing some micro memoir pieces (as if this blog isn't already full of those), and to spending tomorrow with the kittens you see above. they were born on may 2 and they're just about to hit peak cute.

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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