Saturday, January 31, 2009

Timing is PERFECT?

My morning drive to work spans 27 minutes. And usually within that time frame, I catch a few intriguing stories on NPR, a brief 7:20 “funny” comedy sketch, and usually one good tune (I can't GET NO! SATISFACTION!). January in the pacific northwest requires getting comfortable with darkness, yet often, if the atmosphere aligns with minerals, and the traffic clogs or releases it syncopated pulses, one can catch snippets of delicate pinks or ostentatious purples swirling around Mt. Rainer. When this experience unfolds, my thoughts turn to timing.

I believe timing is perfect. While there are numerous experiences that validate this philosophy, on my morning drives this week, two pieces of evidence emerged. 1) A horrific car wreck on Monday morning, with steel frames crushed into accordions promising a life marred. I passed by with thoughts about a friend who had decided to end a relationship with an immature jerk. Her organized disappointment married to the wreckage strewn in the lane, blazingly yelped at how easy pain arrives. How it can conglomerate into your synapses, and block movement. The car in front of me at that moment had a big pink bumper sticker that yelped EMBRACE AMBIVILANENCE.
Indeed. Joy at NOT being THAT car, and discomfort that chaos often wins in certain moments. A feeling of BETRAYL of being left and yet RELIEF of being released from compromise…

The bumper sticker held each moment hostage this week. and then four days later in the week, a blog wrote about honoring ambivilanence...hmmmm? coincidence?...

2) another bumper sticker on Wednesday barked “IT’S WEENIE WEDNESDAY!” At first I chuckled...coming up with dirty names for all days of the week.

Indeed? It was the worst day of my week, two computer files lost (yep, due to me making he SAME error TWICE!) a random patient in crisis, a friend’s drama I allowed myself to partake in, and my thoughts were unfriendly and harsh to myself. I was a weenie.
Is timing is perfect? What do the bumper stickers around you say?

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Task # 46: Buy a frivolous kitchen gadget

Frivolous: –adjective
1. characterized by lack of seriousness or sense.
2. self-indulgently carefree; unconcerned about or lacking any serious purpose.
3. (of a person) given to trifling or undue levity.
4. of little or no weight, worth, or importance; not worthy of serious notice

I defy this word, actively shaping my behavior throughout the day to avoid anything that may be possibly stamped with such embellishment. Give me black coffee. Shoes that I can slip on. One handbag for work, one for the weekend. Sure, I stray in some ways (aka: cereal addiction…I have 5 boxes right now) but for the most part, call me Practical. Functional. Even Frugal.
Simplicity appeals to me. Prone to imploding happiness via analytical discourse, paring things down into essential parts often prevents anxiety. Research has shown that the more choices we have, the more likely we are to worry, to feel unsure, and not to recognize our values when they are present.

Being single may foster easier access to simplicity. My routine syncopates around my self-designed routine. My goals and intentions are unencumbered by the immediate needs of others. Friends who are married and/or with children require more stuff, and definitely have intentions to do X or complete Y thwarted. With more bodies in the mix, one must acclimate to complication. So many of these friends then pontificate: “THIS IS THE TIME TO LIVE FRVIOUSLOUSY!” I respond by asking if being single means I should be doing things of little importance? Or that once you don on the responsibilities of family life simple pleasures evaporate?

Life, no matter what stage you are in, is too short to take too seriously, and too long not to live purposefully.
The 101 list engenders the extraordinary. For me, I need more trivialities. Bring on the trifles! Where’s the fribble around here?
I am even tempered in many of my passions. An avid cook and recipe sluether, I don’t own a blender. I have three cooking ware pans. So I bought a microplane a few weeks ago (okay, almost a month). I just brought it out a few nights ago, looking over my shoulder for a grandmother or something tsk tsking…this little product makes zesting (a lemon) grating (cheese) or pasting (ginger/garlic) a snap. With a little more work, I can do these tasks without such a device. But WOW! I am now in love! I am making fresh ginger/garlic paste with undue levity in a root vegetable roast, grating lemon in yogurt, slivering reggiano on my tofu soup. I swing the thing around like a scepter…queen of the facetious.
Isn’t it funny in a task about frivolity I tweaked out purpose? Ah…bad habits die hard

Monday, January 19, 2009

Essential for...?

A book caught my eye the other day at the library, intriguing my philosophical itching—The only 127 things You's about Essential Things. What you really need…the book carted into my looted pile. First, as interesting as a concept this is, 127 seems a little high…a lengthy number, doesn’t it? The items range from tangible possessions—it is essential that you own three quality knives—to habits or behaviors—30 minutes of cardio activity 5 times a week. I confess, I’ve only browsed the book, but within 5 seconds it was clear that I am depraved right now, as many essentials appear to be absent from my current “toolbox” (shh! Don’t tell anyone that I lack a quality handbag!) Secondly, I began to wonder (okay, a bit defensively) essential for WHAT? Exactly what does essential connotate? Required for survival? No, of course, that list would be significantly truncated—air, water, food, shelter. With no mentioning of a yearly getaway on the survival list, a book like this would not be a very intriguing read, although I am sure that some radio personality would digst volumes on such a topic. Essential then, signifies something beyond mere sustenance. Pushing past getting by.
Essential for health?
Essential for well being?
Essential for happiness?
What exactly is it that we need? In order to create a list of the necessary items required to attain it, we need to define our ultimate concerns
For me, that would be fulfillment, as sense of contentedness with life right here and now. So here is my little essentials...I thought I'd make a list before some one else informed me of what I needed.
1) Connection
2) Movement
3) Nourishment
4) Stimulation
5) Service/Care
Easily sidetracked in the land of universality (Kant would nod his head in fatherly approval) I often lose engagement with the here and now by applying general labels to things, and thus miss the grace of the present NOW. Do you do that? In effort to simplify, I now color the bones of these things, dress them up in today’s high fashion, frilling them with details so they will be easily recognized as they walk onto the scene.
1) Connection---a phone call, a visit. It is essential for me to exchange a few words with someone each day who knows me. Living alone it is easy to miss interactions with others that ground you. Sharing what I about a moment of victory (I made homemade hummus!) or stupidity (e.g. leaving the tag on the purse Susanne got me for Christmas) gives me a sense of “here I am”.
2) Movement—it is essential for me to exert some physical energy every day. It is my zen, my yoga, and my reprieve from my overactive mind. Usually it is 3-4 mile jog.
3) Nourishment—peanut butter everyday. Essential
4) Stimulation—I read something enlightening everyday, it 15 minute chunks. Possibility unfolds before me, desperate laughter, abiding resignation, if I remain open to learn, the act of always rediscovering and redefining me reveals my essential purpose in life
5) Service/Care—Essential is a daily act of service. Apologizing for talking on the phone in line, bringing a friend prescriptions, sending a card. It is pretty easy to make someone’s day brighter, and believe me, in a land depraved of natural sunlight for the majority of the year, our cells soak in up in starved edification. Research shows that making other people happy makes up happy. Myself included…
So that’s my list. No set of knives here (I do have three, though, I have to admit!).
What’s on your list?

Monday, January 12, 2009

Task 71: Buy something on ETSY

Growing up, I ignored any interest associated with “home economics.” It wasn’t just that cooking, sewing, arts and crafts didn’t seem relevant to me, it was also that I wasn’t good at them. The only B I earned in high school was in Ceramics. An ugly, robin egg blue letter holder perches somewhere on a kitchen counter in Montana as a testiment to K’s inadequacy in this domain. An attempt to redeem myself four years later in a community ceramics class ended in similar ruin. Overcompensating, constantly fueling my analytical nature with various interests and distractions, the possibility of my hands suffocated.

Let’s be honest, most of self-epiphanies occur when we observe other people doing things that appear to work. I could use the word “influence” but really, it is peer pressure that led to my interest in creative endeavors. Living in a community during graduate school intentionally geared for interaction, creativity blossomed around me A best friend passionate about beading ignited a little stint where I collected wires, clamps and clasps and little rainbows of seeded beeds. I lavished in examples of homemade projects surrounding me, where people valued the visions of their spirits. I attended events where the guests each brought a craft project, and we left with a half dozen homemade scrubs, potholders, junk drawer organizers and scarves. Some embarked on their interests with ease, some with painstaking skill and attention. Some defied my assumptions, such as numerous examples of masculine crafting; Oxygenating a value in objects generated from one’s heart, and shaped by one’s hands. My Life was Fuller.

The week I designed this list, I spent a weekend visit with one of the priestess of creativity. She told me about Etsy, which offers people a place to be recognized and rewarded for their handmade gems. (Note: this is also the woman who informed me about Google Reader and helps me with my html, which just reconfirms the mosaic of our human interests and dismantles the notion of rigid female archetypes). The site is my new E-Bay. First of all, I believe that where we put our money is an ethical endeavor and social statement. Let’s support independent businesses. Second of all by purchasing these items I announce a vital role creativity plays in fueling my happiness. These things are unique. Don’t get me wrong, I love buying socks and soaps at Target, but digest these products with an uncomplicated savoring.

Such a fun task! It took me MONTHS of deliberation to decide upon my new lunch bag on ETSY, my interest gestating at the same rate of the growing tummy of a prego buddy. So it is with pride that I announce its arrival here. The material forgives spills (a daily diatribe for me) thus meeting my criteria for functionality, and infiltrates brain centers responsible for satiet, thus fulfilling my criteria for pleasure.

Awww…isn’t she adorable?

Let’s just be thankful it is ceramic.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Oil Change?

The smell of pungent oil and burnt coffee sent little memories of sophomore year chemistry disasters wafting upwards, floating in bubbles around me as I waited for my car to be finished. From the small cubicle of a waiting room, I would be able to peer out at the two mechanics working on my little car if I craned my neck four inches in a northwest direction. But I am not good at coordinates or map reading, and a little fearful that if I stretch my neck something might pop, which could be frightening for anyone right? Instead I sat and read …..

He came out and grimly informed me that my air filter was shot and for $50 they could replace it for me. Instantly dismayed, I felt a little jolted. I wasn’t expecting this. I just wanted to come in, read a magazine for 20 minutes while the transfusion took place. I didn’t think that nasty minerals or deadly chemical or hairballs and other things I associate with “filters” would be a problem. UGG…being the cheapo that I am, I declined the service and tried to ignore his warning “okay, but next time, this definitely needs to be taken care of.”

So jump ahead a few thousand miles on the car, as well as several little road trips and one heck of a snowstorm where the image of that percolating disastrously choked up filter now has become congested in my mind. Time for a tune up I decide. Hey, it’s the new year, and the car needs a little revitalization just like the rest of “the new you” mumbo jumbo we’ve been hearing for the last 10 days. I walk into the dealer and request that they honor a coupon from the local quick lube joint, for an oil change, tire rotation and free inspection. They do. I inform them that I know the car might need an air filter and that since the part is quite easy to obtain and replace, if they would charge labor for doing so. They wouldn’t. Then I stretch the truth a bit saying that I have a friend who knows cars and he has taught me well (I do have such friends, but I fully put my buck on my google addiction. Go google!).

The upshot is…after their inspection, my car is deemed as “perfectly healthy.” Superb. A+. I do a little internal jog, because hey people, I am an A addict after all, and this has somehow proven validating…My care It doesn’t need a thing. Only gas, an occasional vacuum or interior wipe through perhaps, and my expressed gratitude for transporting me daily to safe destinations all while a) maintaining an attractive body and b) being so damn cheap.

I do discuss with my supervisor having changing a tire/oil on my 101 list, and he agrees to help me this summer. We discuss that I should get the air filter and do it on my own soon, which pumps me up a little because a) I just saved myself some money (which I translate into a reward like a free bottle of wine and b) I feel capable, confident, capable of caring for myself with ease….and joy and all the other things meditation claims sole property of….

What’s the lesson here? Like always, my ideas don’t need special occasion to metastasize. So I’d BEG for your insight….! (Please, pretty please? Make sense of this for the two people who read this blog!)

Friday, January 2, 2009

Flawless Imperfection

“Just notice it, I don’t want to do anything about it.”

“You need even less than that.”

“You’re working too hard.”

Three different statements, uttered by three different people, perfectly punctuated in the three boxes of morning, afternoon, evening. Each phrase chimed some essential mineral in my bones when registered, like one of Dicken’s ghosts, suggesting a theme here that demanded attention.

Do I work too hard? Come on! It’s the beginning of the year, the land of resolutions, where rivers of sweat, blood and tears flows into the terrain of progress. I guess I grew up in a time of very mixed messages, “No Pain, NO gain,” “Just Do it” engaged in a tug of war with “Just Say NO” and “Don’t Worry, Be Happy.”

I became an overachiever anyway, and the developmental was far from natural. I sculpted these little rules to help me feel secure in the gray areas of my journeys, dampen my fear in uncharted waters, anchor me when I feel myself wandering haphazardly.

There have been a few other times that my daily experience have sent me such vivid encouragements, but I don’t think I’ve been that perceptive or aware of them. What made my bones reverberate a little more resolutely today? What contributed to such receptivity?

The pleasure of peace.

I spent the first day of the year in PJS, hair unbrushed, moving through the day on whims. Unclutter a drawer here, pay a bill there, pick up the phone and chat with a friend, handwash my North Face Jacket, view a show marathon on cable. I also completed a new vision board for what I’d like my life to look like. Images of connections and intimacy, words regarding peace, themes of writing and reflection merged into something creative…but far from flawlessness.

I spent New Year’s Day alone, single, and unkempt. And I was perfect.

This awareness made me much more alive today, questioning my habitual reaction of do, do, do…and I just want to notice it right now and be glad.

Glad and imperfect.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

#50! Floss Every day for a week

I know, I know, many of you might assume that I would be a person for whom flossing would come easily. The more you know my nature, however, you will be able to detect that I am not that great at details. Plus, as mentioned before (sympathy, please!) I have sensitive gums, which bleed anytime they are poked and proded. In short, I HATE flossing!

But armed with my new Christmas present, I set out on christmas to finish out 2008 with floss. Sexy, right? Of course, the endeavor included batteries and a mild vibration, but still, no glamour or sensuality lies in the habit of flossing.

First of all, it is about removed tiny grime from tiny crevices between bones. You have to wonder: what did our ancestors do? Well, they didn't a) do sit ups and b) floss. and I have a little rebellious theory that if they didn't do these things, why should I? But, alas! They also usually didn't live past 35, and didn't drink my theory falls apart quite quickly.

And evolution, observed in our rampant electronization of anything without batteries, doesn't necessarily mean PROGRESS. By sunday, the electric flosser grew a little tiresome and I resorted to traditional string, which took less time but probably was less thorough. Sure, it prevents tooth decay, and doing it as a habit "is good for me." In actuality, it prevents bacteria build up and stinky detrimental inflamation. So why is it so difficult for me to adopt? Sure, I really get a kick out of completing these tasks, but flossing just isn't in my DNA.

I am a creature of habit, but and even after a week, I woke up thinking "I don't have to floss today! Thank GOD for 2009! If I would have set out to floss for a month (do I sense a challenge here?) perhaps I would develop this good habit with a little more ease. Perhaps my gums would be a littl less bloody by Valentine's Day.

About Me

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PhD in clinical psychology. Single. Pushing 30. Suffering Whiplash from the Roaming 20s...Who am I? What do I want? Where do I belong? Welcome to my self-induced treatment, a testament that we can all be a little crazy in our search for significance.