Category Archives: musings

Has implosion finally come?

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Because of who and how I am, it has been pointed out to me that I can cause other
people not to like me. The first time I heard this, it was quite a shock, I have always been
a people-pleaser so hearing that someone didn’t like me was very disconcerting. The “who”
and “how” I am from my point of view is simply that I am a perfectionist who really, really
cares about what I do, no matter if it is cleaning a toilet or writing a chapter in a book. So,
I take time to think through whatever problem I am working on or whatever assignment I
have volunteered for and I do my best to make sure the end result is satisfactory to all.

It came as a surprise also when I began to realize that many (dare I say most) people don’t
feel or act the same way. Once, when I was a PTA mom, I was told by another mom that the
school’s headmaster didn’t like me because he was “afraid” of my power. My power? I could
not believe it and when I asked her, what power? she answered that it was my power of com-
munication and convocation that he resented. I had no idea, I only know that he was totally
unscrupulous and relentless in scapegoating and sabotaging me at every turn. I ignored him
until he did something so awful to me that I simply had to stop engaging with him altogether.

It was not a circumstance unknown to me. There have been several times in my life when the
only adult choice left to me was to stop talking to someone. And so I did. But this solution for
me proved quite disturbing to him because he had heretofore relied on my inability to NOT
talk through everything that upset me. Now he met with silence and since my silence also
included everyone in his inner circle, there was no one left to tell him what I was thinking.
It was never my intention to harm anyone, I just wanted to be left alone to decide the fate
of my children’s education: do we stay or do we go? If we stay, I need to remove myself as
soon as possible from the PTA. If we go, I just need to hold on till the end of the school year
and then we could leave. We decide to go and I held on for the ride.

A few weeks went by and I noticed that more and more of the headmaster’s behaviour was
really bizarre. If I saw him coming towards me, I chose a different route. Once, he even
tried to get someone to cajole me into taking a picture with him; another time he invented
a game that would have had us face one another in a silly competition. Since I had nothing
to lose at that point, I simply declined any opportunity and left whatever arena we were in.

I continued my work as PTA mom because I had a commitment to fulfil. The strain was too
much for him, though, and a physical altercation (meaning he actually hit a student) ended
up eventually costing him his job. Although everyone thought this would make me change
my mind about leaving, it actually strengthened my resolve to always listen to that inner voice.

I bring this up because I feel politics in the U.S. is imploding. Don’t you feel it too?

 

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No shame in being me!

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I have been feeling pretty good lately. I admit that there is an underlying anxiety about
“stuff” sometimes but then I remind myself that there are things I can’t really control and
losing peace of mind over them is helping no one.

My emails this morning included a TEDx presentation from one of the “life coaches” that I
follow and whose newsletters I subscribe to.  I really enjoy watching her, she is young and is
passionate about her career and about connecting with people. I identify with her because if
I were younger I might actually look into a similar path for myself. Alas, at 61, frankly, the list
of things I will really be able to do before I’m 100 is getting shorter and shorter which is okay
with me.

I bring up the TEDx talk because about 10 years ago, I decided that I wanted to one day give
a TEDx presentation. I was so full of energy and I was involved in an organization in our small
town that was becoming somewhat successful at getting things done in the community. I felt
that I had the passion and the talking skills necessary to stand up in front of an audience and
energize them to feel the way I did: that the world was a friendly and wonderful place and that
we all had an obligation to be active participants in our lives. I felt I could really transmit the
message and that we would all benefit. Plus I thought it would be lots of fun.

My colleague (and up to that time, a person I thought was my close friend) mocked me and
essentially questioned not only my talent but my thinking that anything I could possibly put
forward would interest an audience. I remember being disappointed about the reaction but
I was so naive (embarrassingly naive, in fact) that I quickly decided that my “friend” had my
best interests at heart and probably knew best. A couple of years after that incident, our
friendship was permanently severed and it took me a few years to get back my early confidence.

Several years passed.  I was left to lead an organization that I didn’t want to be a part of at first
but was committed to finishing out my tenure at. I worked tirelessly and pro-bono because I
had pride and a reputation to protect. I did more than anyone but was humble when people
praised me. Looking back today, I can actually point out the many areas in our small town that
improved as a result of my personal attention. Rarely do I point these things out. However, today
when I watched the TEDx talk that the life coach shared with us, it took me back! And we all
know what happens in the world of Youtube! Suddenly you find yourself in that unavoidable
“rabbit hole” that brought me to a couple of other talks that had fat/body acceptance/living life
NOW rather than waiting to lose weight…that really, really motivated me.

In 2015, I was asked to give a motivational speech about bilingualism. I prepared my talk with
the usual energy I bring to everything and I was wonderfully fulfilled that it went exactly the way
I had hoped. I think of that speech as my TEDx talk and look forward to another opportunity to
be myself. At 61, I think I have earned the right to do so!

Here is the link to one of the talks I listened to today. Enjoy.

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Flights of Fancy

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Although I occasionally succumb to temporary flights of fancy, most people will tell you
that I am very grounded and steady. I would agree with that description and even though
every once in a while I would like to be able to indulge in some really far out daydreaming,
I very rarely give in to the temptation.

One of the reasons, the major one probably, that I became the one person that could be
counted on to behave as expected is that I don’t enjoy the feeling of insecurity and chaos
that stems when things are not done as they should be. Waking up in the morning in my
childhood home with Mom and Dad going off to work and siblings getting ready for school
with all that it entailed ingrained in me that one of the most important people in the house-
hold was the one that got paid the least and who was recognized rarely. I mean the “maid”.

When I was a young child my parents were able to afford to have two housekeepers because
in my third-world country, labor was cheap. No one gives credit to how smoothly the home
operates when you have someone taking care of the necessary but mundane tasks like
washing dishes, cleaning toilets, sweeping, mopping, making beds, doing laundry, and
ironing! Those were the days!

These days with our children grown up and such, it is easier to keep the house a little more
picked up and ready for company and I am ever grateful for the once-a-week helper who
keeps my floors sparkling. I know we overpay her (in comparison to what our neighbors pay)
but she is content and grateful to have an honest job that provides the little extras for her
family’s budget.

Mondays are tough for me. I do laundry, wash my thick, curly, long hair, and every other week,
I attend a meeting in the late afternoon because I am part of a planning board. Every day, I
say a few verses (prayers, you might say) and get on with my day, but Mondays are particularly
busy and every so often, I ask myself why I haven’t given everything up and just stay inside the
house all week doing what I want: write! Then a little part of me which has a big voice reminds
me that we are all part of one community, that I would not be able to write nearly as well or
about as many subjects with authority if it weren’t for the fact that I am inextricably joined to
a thriving community.

So for today, which is meeting day, I have done my hair, my laundry and will do a little more
writing, practice my guitar chords, and get ready to go.

Live another good day.

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Monetizing a blog!

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I am always saying that “It’s not about the money” but frankly, it’s also not not about the
money. I feel a little guilty but these days I am concerned that money is becoming increasingly
difficult to hang on to and there is something to say for monetizing a blog or other kinds of
writing to build a small nest egg for my “more” senior years.

Long ago I used to subscribe to all sorts of newsletters and websites. I don’t know what made
me do it except that my children were young and my husband traveled a lot so I felt that after
the kids went to bed, there was nothing to stop me from reading well into the wee hours. I did
so for a number of years and then I realized that I was spending an awful lot of time reading
material which wasn’t particularly compelling or grammatically correct so I began the ardous
task of unsubscribing from most of the newsletters. There is one in particular, though, that just
refuses to be unsubscribed from (it’s a writer’s prompt newsletter, not sure what that means).

My journalist friends write about all topics because their employers call the shots. I can write
about whatever I like and while I have never looked to write for pay, I am beginning to look
into it.

More on this topic after I get my head unscattered.

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Learning something new every day!

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Although this is not exactly the graphic I felt was perfect for this post, it is the only one I can
put my finger on at this time. What I really wanted is not available to me and I wish for the
umpteenth time that I could illustrate because I know exactly what I want but I can’t draw it
and no one else will even come close to the picture in my mind…I don’t think I can learn how
to illustrate at this point in my life, so I will just have to assume my readers know the learning
I’m talking about is not necessarily book learning or technological learning, although those are
good too.

I suppose the kind of learning I am talking about is a little more amorphous, if you will. It does
not translate easily into structured graphs or codes…instead it is the learning that comes from
living each day in an awake state. An awake state means that in this world of bizarreness (because
what other word would describe where we are in the world today?), most middle of the road
humanoids can still separate what kinds of things are simply NOT acceptable conduct for human
beings. It is impossible to live a day when we don’t hear about really awful people doing truly
unspeakable things against their families, communities, employers, and they do not get called
on it. It is not possible that those of us (and I believe most of us are) who are ethical, honest,
persevering, optimistic, etc. can continue to stand on the sidelines as if current political and
human rights violations are being carried on as if it was okay. I believe that all of us can do at
least one small thing each day: from making sure our children don’t witness in us the kind of
behavior that they would later copy and not blink because this is the environment in which
they were raised.  Think of the Trump kids. They are not aware their behavior is not right
because of the environment in which they grew up and their father before them and so on…

Not sure how many of my readers are political…the family currently in the White House
simply does not belong there. Things fall by their own weight and I believe it will not be
necessary for the common decent person to do anything more than simply wait it out.
There are strange men and women in those offices now. Something’s gotta give…

You know how after you read a mediocre book, you ask yourself, heck why did I spend money on that, I could have written it? Well, I ask myself why I never went into politics. Any clown can win, obviously, and I have always wanted to be a clown…no offence to clowns by the way.

I’m so scattered right now, as I am sure many of us are. There are real stories, fake stories, real stories about fake stories and fake stories about real ones…if you are not feeling the stress, then you are simply
not AWAKE…Set the alarm!

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Small success feels good!

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Although this graphic looks like it is only for enormous success, I feel that the really small step
that I took yesterday to eat a healthy breakfast instead of a tasty one is very worthy of celebrating.

My mood was good all day, even though it was Monday and I have a lot of trouble getting “started”
on Mondays after the couple of days of relaxation. Tuesdays are good for the most part because I
try not to schedule too many errands so I can devote myself to writing. It is incredible that this
morning I was done with shower and dressing early but have spent the last 5 hours trying to
schedule an upcoming cruise that I will be taking with my daughter later this year. I guess I had
forgotten that looking at dates and cost comparison plus the regular interruptions mean that my
unrealistic expectations that it would be done in a flash were not correct.

I am trying to read and write more regularly but it does take some discipline. I am very pleased
to see that my efforts have culminated in a few more visitors to this blog which is really a kind of
drafting place where I am a bit more unreserved in the topics that I share.

This morning I found out that someone who I thought was a friend has sold his property and
moved out of the country. Upon hearing this news, I was a little disconcerted because I was not
aware a drastic move like this was in his mind. When I asked myself a few more questions, I
realized that we were “friendly” because he worked on pools and I have one but I don’t know a
single thing about him or his wife because we met only on a professional basis. That is when it
became clear that true friendships are hard to come by, especially as we get older.

So if you have friends you care about, share things with them and make sure you let them
know how you feel. Life passes by and each person that touches your life should bring meaning
to it and vice versa.

 

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Mind and Body Connection

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I have always believed that there is a definite connection between our thoughts and illness.
It probably became ingrained in me by my mother’s unequaled directives when it came to
these things; she was a very educated and intelligent person and had no time to cater to her
four children while also trying to juggle the responsibilities of her career and education. So
if any of us ever felt “too sick” to go to school or carry out our responsibilities, she would
talk us out of it by saying that “It’s all in your head.” Since we were not rewarded by any kind
of pampering whether our illness was real or faked to get out of something, I learned very
early that I might as well just suck it up and carry on.

When I was a teenager, I became fascinated by the books on the “occult” that were available in
our local libraries. I probably ventured into those shelves because they were precisely the kind
of reading that was banned by the Catholic school I attended. Anything forbidden always became
more interesting to pursue. So I read all about Edgar Cayce, the mystic, and I began to explore my
own position regarding the things I read. I had so many responsibilities as a kid that reading was
one of the few escapes in my otherwise “work cut out for me” days. I am not writing that to elicit
compassion or anything, it is simply a fact. We are talking about more than 50 years ago! That’s
hard to believe, I still feel so young and vibrant.

Reading Edgar Cayce introduced me to new ways of thinking and I paid attention to my body
and its reaction to things. Funny, at some point in my early adulthood I stopped paying attention
to the sensations in my body and listened instead to the logic of my mind in order to escape situations
that were difficult or unpleasant. I now wonder if that led to a kind of detachment in me that is with
me this very day. I find that I don’t feel things as deeply as other people around me do and I wonder
if that is a good or bad thing. One thing I do know, however, is that my mind and body (and soul, I
suppose) work in tandem and when I am thinking good thoughts my body responds in positive ways.
When I am anxious or angry, I am prone to slipping or falling or waking up stiff from not sleeping
well. Fortunately, that very detachment I mentioned earlier keeps me on an even keel most of the
the time. When everyone around me is falling apart, I find that I can keep my head on and take care
of the things that require my attention. I have often been the source of comfort for people with whom
I share small and large responsibilities because they see a sturdiness in me that they don’t always
find in themselves. I wonder sometimes what it would be like to let go of some of my responsibilities
and float through my days the way I see many people do.

Some of the people I think float through their days in less than responsible manners, however, later
suffer terrible illness and early death and I suppose the prospect of not being healthy or alive might
be one vital reason I work towards being centered and worthy every day of my life.

 

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Mid-July!

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We all know that the year is flying, time to do something with whatever time is left of it.

I have been very diligent this past month, I would say, about writing either in this blog or
in my computer software so I feel that at least I am keeping up with that commitment. It
is pretty fulfilling to go to sleep at night and see that there really has been some kind of
progress during the day.

I woke up at 2:30 a.m. – the time that my fervent Catholic friends say is the time that demons
are strongest.  Although I am not a religious person in the sense of church going etc.
my Catholic upbringing does have a hold on me. It is not a negative hold – the way I feel it –
what it does is center me sometimes because the rituals I learned so long ago provide a
kind of guide. When I wake up in the wee hours, if I am aware enough, I will say a prayer
and then go back to sleep.

I do have some friends who do go to church every Sunday as required and pray the rosary often
and know the different “seasons” of the calendar. I admire them for that but sometimes deep
inside me I find that I can be judgmental because their daily actions are often in opposition
from the very things they are supposed to be practicing: gossip, lying – the common themes
of living each day.

My days are short. These days I find my attention focused on trying to make my waking hours
productive. I think I succeed most days, although productivity at this stage of my life is nothing
like the productivity of the days when I was working in an office or the many years I spent
raising my beautiful children. Like my mom used to say it is important to enjoy each stage
because each stage has its enchantments and each stage ends much too quickly.

Let’s all have a good and productive day, whatever that means for each of us. For today I
hope to contribute and not go to sleep tonight and find that through laziness, etc. I have
not lived a good day.

Reading helps with writing!

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I have wanted to write for as long as I can remember. I knew that writing was important
because every morning when I was a child, my parents kept asking about whether or not the
newspaper had been delivered. I began at about age 4 to look out the window and when I
saw the paper delivery person arrive, I would announce this news to the family. I can
remember that my parents couldn’t wait to get their hands on the source of news! That’s
why I knew that telling stuff in writing was a good thing.

Fast forward almost 60 years and I can definitely say that I have been writing one way or
another all of my life. When I was in my 20’s, I wrote a short story (humor) and sent it off
to an agent who proceeded to tell me that it was good but that in its current presentation,
it would not be bought by anyone. So for a fee of only (whatever it was at the time, I can’t
remember), they would edit and submit it to several publishers. I sent in my money but got
nothing but rejection letter after rejection letter. I gave up and don’t know what I did
with the story which was a loose version of an autobiographical incident that took place in
my own life. The agents, of course, strongly suggested that for an additional fee they might
be able to revamp the story and make it ‘sellable’. I was not so sure.

In the last 10 years, I have written and published a local on line magazine which I stopped
working on in March. In a way, it was a pity to end it because there were some very worthy
journalists who contributed each month, but it had become a heavy responsibility and I found
I had no time to write or develop the themes that have been dancing in my head for years.
Now I have a little bit of spare hours each day but I find that I can distract myself with
all manner of occupations before I eventually find my tush on the chair. I try to look at
this situation objectively instead of taking aim at myself and my writing habits.

Last week I had to renew a 600 page book at the library because I was not able to finish
reading it in the 3 weeks they loaned it to me for. The story is fascinating and it moves
fast but I rarely take the time to read during the day, saving it for bedtime when I know
that as soon as I put head to pillow, I fall asleep! Today, I will try to visit the recliner
I purchased a month ago (but used only 5 times so far) and read for an hour to advance in
the story. I find that when I am reading, I can actually work out some of the details that
are holding me back in my own stories.

Reading helps my writing because I can experience for myself the way another author
transports readers from one place to another. I am hoping to write more frequently
and more easily about universal things that interest all of us. It is true that every story
has been told. It is equally true that we can all tell the same story in a different manner.
Just ask any family with lots of siblings and they will each remember the same incident
in a different way.

I came across that lovely sentence by Steven Aitchison quite by accident. One click
usually leads to many clicks and hours wasted spent searching one thing or another,
but in this case, it was a good find.

Happy reading, happy writing, happy musing!

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More random thoughts on fat…

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I have been thinking about the post I wrote yesterday. I wrote that I could say someone was fat because I am fat and know that we prefer to be called fat rather than overweight, etc. But when I woke up this morning, I realized that it’s not true…we would rather no one singled us out for description of any kind. On the other hand, I am a writer. That means that when writing fiction, or a screenplay for example, there are elements of a person’s physique that need to be described. If a character has a big nose, or crooked teeth and these are aspects which are somehow important to the development of the story, then they must be described as such. I am not sure what I am thinking is translating properly onto the written page but I am going to continue to write without too much editing. I don’t think there is much danger of lots of people visiting my page, it is an exercise that I do mostly for myself because it (blogging) is by far the easiest way to make sure I write every, single day.

My mother was always preoccupied with my weight. I have never felt it as much as I have in the past couple of years (probably because I weigh more than I ever have in my life!) and I see my mom every week as she lies on her bed and stares vacantly at her surroundings. My mother was fat during most of her life, although she did have a couple of successful encounters with Weight Watchers. She worried all the time about my weight and decided to go to Weight Watchers once herself so that she could force me to join her. I was only 15 at the time and really didn’t have the wherewithal to refuse. It was a very bad thing to refuse my mother anything, she could be very unpleasant to be around although at the moment it escapes me what particular thing she did to make
it so. Yell? Silent treatment? Physical violence? I really don’t remember because I mostly complied with her directives and kept her happy. But I digress.

Mom has been bedridden for more than 6 years. She has dementia. She is cared for at home because she was a very hard-working woman who was smart about making sure that when she retired she would have a steady source of income. She continues to earn her keep by living. I am glad she is alive. I love my mother beyond words even though our outlook on life and people were so different. Anyway, back to the weight thing which is on my mind constantly even though I have tried all kinds of ways to simply accept the fatness and move on. I went to renew my driver’s license earlier this week. They took my picture. I compared my picture to the picture they took 6 years ago, the last time I had to renew. 6 years ago was probably also 40 lbs. ago. How did this happen?

I am never hungry these days, probably because I rarely skip a meal or a snack. I would say my weight has been the same for the last 3 years and each morning I wake up with new resolve to have a “good” day. In the evening, I do enjoy a bit of chocolate and one or two small servings of cognac! Gotta be about 500 calories right there. In my opinion although there are no good or bad calories, calories are calories and whether you have “thyroid” problems or not, too few calories will make you lose weight and too many will make you gain weight. I need to give up something during the day so that I can indulge in my tiny slice of heaven in the evening. Today for example I ate a large croissant for breakfast with butter (not very much) and a tiny bit of jam. I just tallied an approximation of calories and it is about 600 since the delicious-tasting croissant was on the large size.

I am fat and I am very short and my metabolism (probably from dieting) has always been very slow. When I am in New York, I walk a lot and since I am mostly on my own, I find that I am too lazy or absorbed in other things to cook or go out for dinner so my eating (though healthy) does naturally scale down. My calorie intake is reduced and I am usually 5 lbs. lighter when I come home. I would love to blame my husband’s cooking on my weight gain, I would love to say I have a thyroid condition, I would love to say anything…but the reality (and I am good about facing reality) is that I have gotten older, it is no longer easy to lose weight and I have not been very diligent about portion control. My husband is already planning lunch, I am not hungry! I will not skip lunch but I think it will go in a different direction from breakfast. Perhaps a bit of cottage cheese and some vegetables. I am actually looking forward to that.

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