Riding Life!

Riding Life!
Life is like a wild horse--Unless you ride it, it will ride you! (from the movie: "Princess of Thieves.")

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

C: Dry Spells

writerblock Who knows where this post will meander.  I sit to write, but I have no idea where I’m going; I just want to write. 

Do you do that?  Ah, I see now where I’m headed…I want to know about your writing rhythms.  And share about the stumbles in mine.

I read all these wonderful blogs, and it seems like everyone has something to say all the time.  Maybe my life just isn’t all that interesting.  Pretty routine, actually…

I realize this is all an illusion…that the pauses between writings of others are not so noticeable to me as my own, naturally.  And some of you will occasionally announce a hiatus from writing.  Those are encouragement for me—sad, because I miss some of you who temporarily suspend writing, but encouraging for the thought that you, too, have moments of no words.

MIL is discouraged about her own writing.  Immigrant Daughter has given her a lot of joy in sharing with her family and others about her life.  Now she is in a bit of a funk, and last night confessed that she has been working several days on one post that just doesn’t seem to want to come out.

Me, too.

I think that MIL’s problem is one of a bit of depression.  She is not one to give in to this, stalwart that she is, but this is the month of the third anniversary of her husband’s death.  I think those memories just seem to overshadow everything.

But, just yesterday I stepped out to a morning with a bit of a nip in the air.  It was not really cool, just coolish.  There was a noticeable difference that signaled the turning of the season.   The day brought temperatures in the 90’s again to keep us aware that it is still August, but that initial nip was a harbinger of fall after an extremely hot summer.

And tomorrow is September!  For some reason I think this turn in the calendar may be a turn upwards for those of here struggling to write!

We have a long Labor Day Weekend approaching, and it will be quiet here.  MIL and I have already planned a movie date.  Son has been out of town on business most of the last two weeks.  He and I are looking forward to putzing around the house and getting caught up on a few chores—at a leisurely pace. And I will look forward to reading all your posts about Labor Day cookouts and fun times with families…I promise not to bore you with details of my chores.

So, do you have a magic cure for writer’s block?  I’d love to have it…and share with MIL.  C

PS – not to worry—you know that I am never at a loss for words for very long…I’m sure another rant is just around the corner.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

C: Whoopings!

Yes, I’m stuck on childhood memories lately.  I had someone recently share about their family’s discipline practices some decades ago.  It was similar to my own.  We both endured the “pick-your-own-switch” order.

It was a day and age when spanking was not frowned-upon—not even given a second thought as to whether  it might be wrong.  I don’t think I was harmed one bit by my mama’s discipline habits.  I admit that there are those of us who probably should not spank their kids because of anger problems, but that was not an issue in my home.

My mother would, indeed, use a switch on us, and I recall that the little, skinny ones were the worst—they’d wrap around our legs, making us dance.  Sometimes, there’d be one handy on the top of the refrigerator.  She’s also gotten after us with the fly swatter (which I hated because I imagined those little fly legs coming off on my own) and, let’s not forget the handy paddles provided by those paddle-ball toys.

Having said that, please don’t get the impression that she beat us daily.  No, if anything, she was pretty lax, but we’d push the envelope sometimes and have to be brought back down to size.  And, it was usually Mom who did the spanking, probably because Dad was at work all day.

One time she got the switch after me, and I took off like greased lightning, smug in my knowledge that there was no way she could catch me.  She chased for a minute and then, to my amazement, turned and went back into the house.  Wow!  She gave up easily!!  I remember vividly how my glee at having won turned to dread as I it dawned on me that I would have to return to the house at some point.   I became a bit worried about what awaited me when I did return…I was right.  Mom did not forget to teach me a lesson, and I never ran from her again.

In raising my own son, I believed in spanking.  I had a very easy kid to raise, so spanking was not often required, but he knew I’d do it…that was usually enough.  And what spankings he got were swats on the butt with my open hand.  I don’t recall ever using a switch or a paddle on him, and he was terrified at the mere thought of the legendary belt—which was never used on him, either.

I recall one time when my husband had really chastised him for something serious (can’t remember.  I bet he remembers, but I don’t dare ask because he’d  probably hit me if he knew I was writing about this). 

My husband came back from the discipline session telling me that our son had begged him to do anything—“just don’t use the belt, please!”  My husband said, “I’d never use the belt on that kid—it could not be nearly as bad as he thinks it would be…the threat is plenty!”

And, we had an “out-of-the-mouths-of-babes” moment one time when I was in the car with my son—about six years old.  I said to him:

Why is it you are so quick to obey your father while it takes a bit of effort for me?  Has Dad ever beaten you or something?”

And my little son turned and said, “No, Dad has never beaten me, Mom.  But you know how it is with full-grown males: you never know what they might do.”

And that, folks, is the truth.  C

Sunday, August 22, 2010

C: Your “Typical” Childhood Day

Yes, another Ayn Rand Quote.  Still in Chapter one of Atlas Shrugged (and  it is a loooooong book!) we find Eddie thinking:

He wanted no sadness attached to his childhood; he loved its memories: any day of it he remembered now seemed flooded by still, brilliant sunlight.  It seemed to him as if a few rays from it reached into his presebare_feetnt: not rays, more like pinpoint spotlights…

What do you think of as your “typical” child hood day?

You know I can remember rainy days, alright; and I recall bundling up against the cold winter.  I can bring to mind events of other seasons.  But when I think of my childhood, my mind immediately goes to summer; to days free from school schedules and days of play, mostly with V.

Really, the summer memories dominate; they are far and away more disproportionate in the ranking I give them in childhood memories than in time actually spent.  Ipopsicle think of summer play days, running into the the house occasionally for a swig of ice-cold water from my personal water (a recycled pickle jar); racing to get a quarter so that I could have a popsicle when the popsicle man came by; and digging my bare feet into the ground, seeking cool dirt against the hot summer’s day.  The rest of the year fades by comparison.

And my childhood was happy—very happy.  I had my very best friend next door, as I still have her today.  I had a drunk, womanizingplaymates father and, sure, I knew things were not right.  But my childhood was happy.  I attribute that mostly to my mother.

How do you remember your childhood “typically?”  Do you think of  playing outside, like I do?  Or is your memory more grounded in the larger-proportion of school days?  Interesting to think that such a small slice of my life’s annual rotation (one fourth, at most) takes up such an inordinate space in my memory.

Share with us your recollections…what dominates in your memories?  C

Saturday, August 21, 2010

C: Symbols of Strength

I began re-reading Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged recently simply because it was easily downloaded onto my I-Pad (and the electronic version is oh so much easier to carry around!).  It has been over twenty years since I read this book, and I am anxious to see what I think of it with a little more ahem “maturity.”

I am running across some thought-provoking passages, and I’ll try to space out my posts about them so that you don’t get “Ayn Randed” to death.  The potential is there; it’s a very long book.

Chapter one, “The Theme,” contains a marvelous description of adult Eddie’s memories of childhood and of a giant oak tree.

He felt safe in the oak tree’s presence; it was a thing that nothing could change or threaten; it was his greatest symbol of strength

This passage started me thinking…it being a “thought-provoking” passage and all…what is there about life that I feel is something “…that nothing could change or threaten…?”  What are my symbols of strength?  Where is my giant oak tree?

Yes, cynicism raises its ugly head.  I used to think that my marriage and my home was that—the thing that could not change or be threatened.  My spouse is who I leaned on.

I am reminded of the scene in the Godfather II when Michael Corleone is (through his sociopathic fog)concerned about his wife’s upset over the “family business” and feeling shaky in his relationship with her. 

He goes to his mother and asks her if his father had ever been  afraid of losing his family.  His mother was shocked: “Lose your family!  Michael!  You cannot lose your family.

What a concept in today’s world!   People do not seem to want to struggle through problems together.  If the going is rough or if they see grass that looks greener on  the other side of the fence (especially if she’s thirty years younger!), the family goes by the wayside.  Mama Corleone’s philosophy of family being unshakeable just does not fly.  It’s what makes my business so booming.

No, that’s no longer my oak tree.  Heck, even Eddie’s oak tree was eventually struck by lightning.  The book has him visiting the shell of the tree, realizing that his “symbol of strength” was no longer strong…

What I think life is teaching me (still in the midst, so I’m not so sure as to what lessons are really there to be had) is that the responsibility for me is me…I have my friends, alright, and they are treasured, as is my son and my family.  I am in daily contact with my mother, mother-in-law, and siblings, which is a blessing.  I do draw strength from them. 

And then there’s God; and I do draw strength from my faith.

But, ultimately, in this world it’s just me.  And this is common to us all: we come in alone, we go out alone.  We are responsible for the conducting of our lives.  Others influence and help, but in the end we chart our own course. 

Believe me, I see clients (especially women) all the time who have totally depended on their spouse, neglecting their responsibility to themselves to prepare for life, only to have him leave or—for heaven’s sake—die!  It is why I preach to young women—love your families, but get education or have some means of your own in case the “God Forbid” happens.  At least I was not in that position.

Now, if this sounds depressing to you, let me hasten to say that it has not been so for me.  No, instead, this realization has had a quieting effect on my life.  The understanding that this is, quite simply, the human condition has caused me to quit scrambling and scratching to change the unchangeable. 

Resenting the fact that we are responsible for ourselves is like resenting the need for oxygen—fruitless.  We’re all in this same boat, whether you presently realize it or not.   Understanding that, when the dust settles, it’s me and God has actually given me peace.  And it has made me more proactive in a healthy way.

And those “symbols of strength?”  If you’ve got ‘em, understand that life may well strike them down.  I mean, what is a giant oak tree, anyway, but a lightning rod?  C

PS- sorry to be so “heavy” after V’s delightful dish/spoon post.  It’s what Ayn Rand does to me, apparently…

Thursday, August 19, 2010

V: And the Dish Ran Away With the Spoon


In another time, a fantasy life if you will, I could have been a china merchant in a quaint little shop that specialized in antiques but did NOT smell musty! Only fellow dishaholics like Suzan of the oldgreymareprimitives.blogspot.com could understand. It was her recent post about her "white bowl love" that inspired me to write this post!

I love old things; objects that others have owned and passed on that have a history to them. I love vintage dishes--I have lots of dishes and glassware passed down from family members and acquired on the cheap at thrift shops. I wish I had time to entertain so I could really use them more, but they are eye candy to me! I covet English white ironstone, brown transferware, and Johnson Bros. Friendly Village. I adore French Quimper pottery, Polish pottery, the ever humble but charming Blue Willow, and the rainbow assortment of Fiestaware (although I don't have any YET. I fondly recall my late mother-in-law's set of lovely pine cone china that graced the table every Thanksgiving and Christmas--they weren't expensive, but were very special! So far they have eluded me, but someday I WILL find that pattern on Ebay! Teapots, cookie jars, honey pots, bowls and pitchers and English tins are another obsession of mine. When my mother moved to an assisted living center last summer I brought home the few remaining pieces of her wedding dishes--Franciscan's Starburst pattern. It is so quintessential 1950's vintage and I'm amazed at how contemporary they seem.



I want to be a better steward, buying more of what I really need instead of what I really want, so because they take up so much room, I've given up acquiring anymore stuff. Unless it's a fantastic bargain that I absolutely cannot live without, I'm passing it by! As a friend told me, "don't buy it unless it calls your name!" The cookie jar collection has been relegated to the top of the blue cupboard that serves as my linen closet in the laundry room, because there is absolutely no room at the inn, in my kitchen.









My favorite finds are floral patterns with a crazed finish from years and years of use--the humble everyday kind. Hey, a bargain at the thrift shop with a chip or crack or a little crazing to the finish, just makes it more interesting to me! The two beautiful ivory floral pieces I have from my great-grandparent's farm are in my china cupboard. I'm afraid the cat will knock them off the table, so they spend most of their time safely behind glass. An old teacup and a bowl are all that remain of the set.





I also have their old wooden bread board that my grandmother told me was used to roll out homemade biscuits three times a day! Can you imagine having the time to make biscuits three times a day? I found it retired, laying in my grandmother's attic many years ago, and because I imagine mice crawled all over it, I've never been able to bring myself to use it! Not even after cleaning it with bleach. Too bad she didn't hang it safely in her kitchen so I wouldn't imagine it all yuckky! I'm no germaphobe, but believe me the attic in that old house was really yuckky!


So, I am just wondering what is YOUR favorite dish pattern? Perhaps your wedding china, or a pattern of your grandmother's that you remember fondly?

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

C: With Me at All Times…

It’s my friend P’s fault….she said “I can’t believe you don’t have one yet…”

Really, I think maybe the blame lies with Mother-in-law, who I took to Best Buy the other day to buy her a new computer.  She said, “C’mon, C, you deserve this.  And it’s so neat!

No, absolutely,  it’s my brother-in-law’s fault—he kept e mailing me with tidbits of how productive I could be if only I had one.  Here’s an actual snippet from an e mail (one of several on the subject) from him: “Not only are they ultimately cool, they are extremely convenient.”  See how bad he is?

And “ultimately cool” and convenient  is just too small a description for my new I-Pad.  BIL did not steer me wrong!  I am in love, love, love with it and I have only had it six days.  I know that it will be my companion every where I go.  After all, it fits in my purse or my file folder!

I keep up with you blogging friends on it (much better than my itty-bitty I-Phone), and I have loaded  all the apps to give me everything I need at the courthouse at my finger tips.  Why, I can look up statutes and case law and carry all my charts and information I usually have to handle in paper (think of the trees I’m saving!) so I can figure child support, etc. on the spot.  All this in less space than a yellow legal pad!  In less than a week, I have become dependent. 

I am about to swoon with glee, here!

It’s fun, too!  I have the usual word games for killing time in the courthouse hallway (you know, when I’m not doing all that legal research…) and the books I have already downloaded!  I can download from Apple’s E book store (nifty bookcase) as well as Amazon (Kindle books work) and Barnes and Noble (from their Nook). I have all three of these bookstore apps, and three books going on them.  I can highlight and make notes as I read.  Amazing!

One of the most enjoyable things for me is having it bedside.  I can read a book til I’m sleepy (in the dark!)  and if I wake in the middle of the night, I can check real quick to see if any of you guys have commented.  I’m telling you, this little beauty is going with me everywhere.  I can’t say enough good about it.

I have heard all the naysayers—read all the articles.  True, it doesn’t print, but I e mail right back to the office, where things are printed from our computers or at home.  I haven’t missed the printing at all. 

And, folks, I am not techno-minded.  If I can run an I-Pad, anyone can.

It’s pricey (I get a write-off lucky me!), but if you can get one, you won’t regret it.  Truly.  C

Sunday, August 15, 2010

C: Foxhole Epiphany

in·teg·ri·ty /ɪnˈtɛgrɪti/  1.adherence to moral and ethical principles; soundness of moral character; honesty. 2. the state of being whole, entire, or undiminished: to preserve the integrity of the empire.  3.a sound, unimpaired, or perfect condition

Do you ever have epiphanies of basic, simple concepts?  I’d like to say that I have flashes of genius in areas yet unexplored and undefined.  But, no, my “flashes” lead me to exclaim, “Eureka! Look what I’ve discovered!  The sky really is blue!” Only to see others shrug their shoulders and say, “Yeah, what else is new?”  I had one of these flashes recently on the definition of “integrity.” 

Iintegrity have a wonderful long-time friend who is so supportive of me.  And, yet, I found out that he is also supportive of my husband.  You know, the husband who has stolen money from my mother, who has abandoned his entire family, and who has left me with a butt-load of debt?  Yeah, that one.

I found myself wishing that my friend had told me upfront that he was doing this rather than acting like he was so very outraged by my husband’s behavior.  I’m getting used to the “we love you both” routine.  I guess I just felt a little fooled.

I can’t tell you how unsettling it is to find that my friend, who has offered advice and consolation in the grimmest times through my trial, is doing exactly the same for the “other side.”  Especially since his support seemed so absolute, decrying the acts which were the cause of my woes. 

This is so unsettling that I have been a bit confused by it, thought a lot about it.  My newest Psychology Today (July/August 2010, page 12)magazine has an article with a statement that fits here.  In considering where actions seem to conflict with words, the author speaks to a feeling that there is a “gap in knowledge” about someone, the article says:

It’s the whole reason the human brain freaks out when a picture is out of focus.  The brain likes coherent patterns.

I agree.  I like actions to line up with words.  Otherwise, the picture seems out of focus, for sure, and my brain freaks out.

 

The shock of this revelation was deepened by the fact that I found out abotauntut this through my husband, himself.  You know, he did not have to tell me that my friend was “there for him” too.  It did not come up naturally in the conversation. Hubby could not wait to tell me--it was totally gratuitous.  He loves the opportunity to say things like, “See, what I have done does not really matter to anyone.  No one judges me—everyone will get past it, and life will continue as normal.”

What gives? And I started to analyze. 

I think to some it sounds noble to “not take sides,” to be a friend and support to both in instances like mine.  But I’m thinking “noble” is not the appropriate word here.   

My friend is a “pleaser,” a super-nice guy and because of that he is always very pleasing to be around.  He smiles through most everything.  I have seen him deliver not-so-good news with a smile on his face, as if to soften the bad-news blow.  True, I have never seen him deliver devastating news, but still the smile has at times seemed out of place to me.  Discordant.  I’ve noticed it before.  And, yet, I would not have called him “insincere.”

Unlike me, who is paid to rock boats, my friend is not a boat-rocker.  In fact, I’ve realized, he will go to great lengths to avoid rocking the boat, sometimes to his own detriment.  Is this a positive attribute?  Is it even honest?

And I’ve thought a lot about the fact that his inability to cross folks works to his own detriment.  Indeed, he too has suffered damage at the hands of my husband because of his failure to cross him, to say “no” at times when common sense told him he should.  And, yet, he continues to act like nothing has happened, in spite of his own financial injury.  He’s been duped because of his reluctance to inquire (which might offend) on more than one occasion. 

It seems to me that if one has a moral compass and follows it, one will be led astray less often.  If you know someone one is a cheat and a liar to begin with, then it seems that you should take a stand against that—refuse to do business with those, for example, or you risk your own well-being.

Those Who Stand For Nothing, Fall For Anything" - Alexander Hamilton

Is all this just the Christian principle of “turning the other cheek?”  I’ve tried to make that fit, but I just can’t.  My instinct tells me that is not the real explanation.  That, rather than being a sign of Christian virtue, my friend’s response to our situation is, in fact, a symptom of something not so positive.

So, I started to think about integrity, because that is the word that kept coming up in my brain.  What is it?  In the past I have thought of people who lack integrity as people who might steal from you, cheat when the opportunity presents, or some other nefarious, clearly-bad behavior.  But my friend does not fit that mold.  He would be the last person I would call a “cheat” or expect to steal.  And, yet, I have come to question his “integrity.”  And I think my concern lies in the concept of consistency or soundness. 

In other words, his inconsistency (two-faced? not exactly…) calls intodouble-minded question the soundness of his whole ethical framework.  I like him very much.  He has been nothing but kind to me.  And, yet, I will not soon trust him so much as I have before because I am unsure of that ethical framework.

I guess what I expect of a person to whom I attribute integrity is consistency.  I expect to know what that person stands for, what he or she generally  thinks is right or wrong, and I expect his actions to be consistent with that code.  If they aren’t, then what is there to trust?

A double minded man is unstable in all his ways.      James 1:8.

foxholeThis reminds me of the foxhole test.  Who are the people who you want to be with you in the foxhole in the midst of battle? 

Well, you’d want someone who can shoot straight, alright, but there’s more to it.  I submit that they must be those who have acted consistently, for whom you have a framework on which to  rest predictions of how they will act, what they will do.  Not only must they be honest and caring, they must be dependable, and I think this is where the nuance of integrity comes in. 

And so, because my friends’ actions are so discordant with the words he has given to me on numerous occasions, he seems unsteady to me somehow.  I remain his friend, I enjoy our time together, but I will not likely choose him for the foxhole.  Not reliable.  Out of focus.

Do I judge him too harshly?  C

Friday, August 13, 2010

C: Workin’ Out

My brain gets a workout each and every day; my body, well, not so much.  I have always loathed physical exercise.  I don’t mind long walks—although they take too much time, of which I am alarmingly short.  I love horseback riding but, alas, no longer have horses (that time thing, again).  I know that I need regular exercise.

To that end, I fixed up my little screened porch off my bedroom with a treadmill (MIL’s—traded for my stationary bike) and even put cable television out there to keep my mind occupied while I walked.  This was in June.  Do you think I’ve been out there?  Even once?  No.  I am utterly incapable of being in charge of my own exercise regime. 

That’s where my son comes in.  He has cracked the whip at me once again.  Yesterday I went back to the YMCA after work.  It had been long months—too long—since I had been there.  Son was determined.  He called at the office to remind me.  So I trudged over there.

I did my time on the treadmill and then moved through the upper-body machines.  I worked up quite a sweat in 45 minutes or so and left feeling slightly more virtuous than when I arrived at the gym.  What I know is that eventually I will feel so much better for this.  Why is it that I resist so?  Hmmmmm…how ‘bout “laziness?”

Anyway, I am determined to stick with this and exercise at least three times a week.  It is so very easy for me to tell myself that I don’t have the time.  But, then, I can always fill time with work, which is never caught up.

And, in thinking of exercise, I find myself looking forward to autumn and even winter for brisk walks down my long driveway and my country road  with my two dogs by my side.  It has been triple digit weather here for over a week, way too hot for any kind of outside exercise.  A fall nip in the air will be inviting for exercise, I’m thinking.  And the enemy of that regime will, once again, be time…must steel myself now for that.  C.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

C: Elvie

I had a young woman in who had a really bad husband—really bad.  They are now divorced several years and we are still dealing with him and the aftermath.  They seem so paradoxical now, yet by all accounts they looked like a golden couple when they married; perfectly suited for one another.  They had met in church.  He seemed wonderful—courted her.  She is so stable.  A caring young mother with a college education. 

I won’t go into detail about what broke this young couple up because I cannot violate her confidence, but I will say it is unusual and that it would shock you.  You would not dream it up; and certainly she never expected it.  Let me say that in 31 years of practice, I have never seen anything quite like it.  The details indicate a personality/character disorder so ingrained that I have little hope that ex will ever be reformed.  I feel certain that this disorder did not occur after their wedding, during their short marriage.  No, it was lurking there all the time, just not exposed or maybe it just required an intimate relationship to lure it to the surface.

I’ve been dealing with this a couple of years now, and I am convinced of my client’s steadiness and normality.  She has marvelously moved forward, has remarried and seems happy in that new life—if she could only finish up with the details of the old!  I think she is a healthy person.

I found myself wondering how two people, so antithetical to each other, could have gotten together in the first place and when did she know that he was capable of such aberrant behavior?

So, I asked her.  And she said, “Just before we married a little voice started telling me to back out, that I was making a big mistake.  But the plans were finalized, lots of money had been spent, and everyone loved him.  I gave him a good look-over and could find nothing objective to complain about.  And I did love him.  Still, the little voice kept nagging—I knew it was louder than just ‘cold feet.’ But I did not have anything to prove it out, so I ignored it. What was I going to tell everyone?  That a ‘little voice’ told me to back out?”

Ah, the “Little Voice.”  Some years ago my son said, “Mom, you know that little voice you hear sometimes?  I call it ‘Elvie,’ which is from the initials, 'LV.’  Don’t you know that Elvie is always right? Always!”

And I think he’s right.

One client related an Elvie moment to me the other day.  She had been driving home when she heard Elvie insist that she should drop in, unannounced, on her grandmother.  She resisted.  Elvie persisted.  She ignored.  She was tired, Grandmother did not expect her, she didn’t have time…she was later to learn that her grandmother had fallen.  Had she listened to Elvie, she could have saved her grandmother several hours on the floor.  Coincidence or truly Elvie?  I don’t know.

Elvie is a big help in everyday life, too.   Elvie often prompts me in my work.  I’ll be working along on something, then another file will pop into my head unexpectedly.  I have learned from long experience that this means I had better go check on that status—some deadline is about to pass or there is something that I have left unfinished.  I know that it is just my brain keeping track of things—or is it Elvie?  Whatever it is, I don’t ignore it—too risky.

What does Elvie look like?  (What a funny question!)  I dunno; see some ideas scattered through this post.  But I think that it is so interesting that this intuition is pictured as coming through our ears, don’t you?  I guess it is because we process so much information from “outside” through our hearing, and that we perceive Elvie as being an “outside voice.”

Can Elvie lead you astray?  I suppose so, but it’s never happened to me.  Really, guys, I know when my vices are rearing their ugly heads.  I can just tell when I am wanting to do things for the wrong reasons, can’t you?  I don’t think I usually mistake these times for Elvie’s urgings.

What do you think Elvie is?  Is it the voice of God?  Is it instinct or intuition?  Is it a tuning in to some supernatural or “other” plane of which we are normally unaware?  Can we cultivate Elvie’s input in some way?

Do you have an Elvie story you can share?  If so, please do, because I am soooo interested.  In any case, it has been my experience that the picture below contains good advice!  - C

Sunday, August 8, 2010

C: Cheeseburgher Tribal Drumbeats

tribes In his marvelous little book Tribes, Seth Godin defines a a tribe as

…a group of people connected to one another…connected to an idea.  For millions of years, human beings have been part of one tribe or another.  A group needs only two things to be a tribe: a shared interest and a way to communicate…People want connection and growth and something new…

Last night V and I responded to the tribal drumbeat sounded by Kyran Pittman of Notes to Self.  We made the ritual trek to the “high place,” an 18th floor swanky room just perfect for our gathering.  What we found there was, indeed a tribe: about 25 young women (yes, we were the elders) who came together solely because we are members of the same tribe: Arkansas women bloggers.  DSCN1154

V and I had not previously met any of the attendees, but when we walked into that room, it was clear that we belonged.  We had a common experience with each one of these women: blogging. 

It was magical; and although our tribal interest centers around that twenty-first century mystery, the internet, our connection was primal, indeed: it was community, and it is something we are just hard-wired to desire from ancient days.  Loved it!

All tribes have their “high holidays,” I suppose, and V and I learned that this meeting was, indeed, a ritualistic celebration.  We learned tribal lore, DSCN1153 as told to us by chieftess Kyran:

The Cheeseburgher tradition began as a late night snack run at the 2007 Blogher conference in Chicago. McDonald's cheeseburgers were eaten, paper bags were worn on heads, pictures were taken, and well, a social media legend was born. Now an official Blogher event, sponsored by McDonald's, Cheeseburgher is too big for even New York City to contain.

The kind corporate folks at McDonalds provided us each a cheeseburger and fries.  Above you see Katie of (Not) Coming to a Uterus Near You (yes, she’s that funny! Lord, I hope I have her identified correctly here—old brain, you know…) She’s demonstrating  the McDonald’s paper sack head covering tradition (gives me goose bumps to actually know of this ritual). 

And, I’m given to understand, the two important symbols of this rite are:

blogher           and            mcdonald's

We had a delightful wine bar, some of which was donated(!) (tribal tribute paid?) by Middle Sister Wines (mmmmmm); some bath goodies from our DSCN1149local Bath Junkie (strawberry/wine fragrance—delightful!), and were given an intro subscription to something I never knew existed, but sadly/sorely need: Clutter Diet!  (See how mysteriously the tribe works?  Don’t you wish you were in on this???) 

V and I had an amazingly easy initiation ceremony which consisted of talking, talking, talking about connecting, connecting, connecting which, after all, is what blogging about.  So tribal…  And those with the secret (to us) knowledge were so generous to advise and help….heck, we even met a college instructor in the esoteric (to us) art of mass communications!!  That’s her in the top photo in the orange blouse.  You can visit LaTonya through this link. 

V and I were honored to be so initiated, and we’ve come away from the pow wow  knowing we must study the tribal custom of “tweeting” on Twitter.  We are determined to master this art soon so that the tribe, indeed, can communicate with us as needed or desired.

You bloggers out there who have not yet come to a tribal gathering, please don’t miss any such opportunity.  Blogging is an important community-building activity, I’m convinced, and the full connection of meeting personally those whom you know from on-line is satisfying and warm.

Thank you, thank you to our sponsors; and thank you, thank you Kyran Pittman for being the point person.  It was a fun night! - C

Friday, August 6, 2010

C: Guilty Pleasures

At the end of a pressure-cooker day, I come home sometimes and “veg-out.”  It is as if my brain has to go from the very serious, almost acrobatic performance, to complete rest.  Usually this is in the form of television. 

Sometimes I rest my brain with the news just whirrrrring in the background as white noise.  I just kind of check in and out mentally to see the headlines.  At other times I turn the tube to “brain candy,” which would be embarrassing for anyone to catch me watching. 

Thinking about all this started me thinking about my “guilty pleasures” of all kinds;  you know, the kind of things that you’re not especially proud of—the kind of things that just don’t measure up to your fantastic intellect or your careful diet or whatever other benchmarks you set for yourself.

So, I thought I’d share a few of mine in hopes that you would, also, spill beans on yourself.

First, there’s “Real Housewives of New Jersey.”  Yes, I’m blushing as I write this…I need to admit something right now: I am afraid—very afraid—of these women.  They could kick my you-know-what.  In  a heartbeat.  I just know it.

They all wear high heels and short, tight dresses.  They stand weird when they’re being photographed (see above).  There is nothing “real” about them in my book. But I can’t turn my eyes away from this show; some sort of macabre fascination I have, here. 

They live in giant houses.  They really do nothing all day except dress up; get their nails done while they talk about each other, go to lunch and get into fights.  There have been tables turned over at restaurants and hair pulled out of heads.  They always have someone who is “friends” with both sides of the quarrel—convenient for keeping the enemy pot stirred.  Positively decadent and without socially-redeeming value.  Yep, I watch it about once a week…guiltily.

Number Two:  Something I am not is a country music fan, but I have grown to love the series, “Reba” with Reba McEntire, now in re-runs on the cable channel “Life.”  Could it be I identify with the premise?  It is about a mother of three whose dentist husband knocks up his dental hygienist and the family is splintered apart.  At the same time her seventeen-year-old daughter gets pregnant and marries a high-school jock and they move in with Reba.  Husband and lover move just up the street, and the series is built around those strained dynamics.  The writing is witty, and when I watch it, I can just chill out and root for Reba.  But I feel sheepish when I get caught watching it—it is, after all, merely brain candy.

In the food vein, the first thing that pops into my mind is something on the olive bar at our local Kroger Store.  I never met an olive I did not love, but they have an offering the blows the socks off anything else—a marinated feta cheese and Greek olive mix.  When I’m feeling really down, a little carton of this in front of the television watching a scuffle on Real Housewives will make it all better. 

I won’t mention chocolate here, because I believe it is an essential nutrient; ice cream is a source of calcium.

When I am feeling really decadent, I waste time.  Time is my most valuable commodity and when I waste it, it is a luxury—like that fictional billionaire who throws one-hundred-dollar bills in the air.  One of my all-time biggest time wastes is playing word games on the computer.  I particularly love Scramble and Text Twist.  Why?  It gains me nothing—but wasted time.

And, the last guilty pleasure I’ll list today: Second sleep.  You know how the Hobbits loved “Second Breakfast?”  I have my own version of “second” indulgence.  On Saturdays, when nothing is on the calendar, my aging body and mind still think they ought to get up at, like, a quarter to 5 a.m.  So, we do.  And we have coffee and putz around, maybe post on the blog.  Then about 6:30, we (my mind and body) slink back into bed and fall into deep delicious sleep for an hour or so until we’re good and ready to get up.  Ummmmmm—love it!

C’mon.  You’ve got guilty pleasures, too.  Fess up! - C

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

C: Chasing Dreams

Sleep is so mysterious to me.  I realize that this is no news flash, but I have found that the amount and quality of my sleep is deeply entwined with both my productivity and my mood. 

Without enough sleep, I become prone to depression and excessive worry.  Those little hills I face at work begin to look like insurmountable mountains.  I can’t tell you the times I have come home from work worried to death about how I was going to deal with an upcoming problem.  After a good night’s sleep, not only was I refreshed and re-energized to tackle it, but often I have new, good ideas about the situation; it’s as if my brain was working on things while I was asleep.  I believe that is exactly what happens, so often do I have this experience.

In looking through some of the on-line sources about sleep I find that one of the major points made is that sleep is not idle time.  There is some suspension of sense, and it is restorative and restful.  Studies show that sleep allows your physical body to rejuvenate: wounds heal more quickly with good sleep, for instance. And, without doubt, during sleep my brain works.  I know it not only because of that problem-solving I mentioned above but because sometimes I am deprived of a good night’s sleep because my brain is in overdrive about work.  This is one aspect of sleep I have not learned to control.

But, now, for the real reason for writing this post.  I am nosy about you.

One of my greatest pleasures of sleeping is dreaming.  I do not remember my dreams after every night and, in fact, I don’t think I remember my dreams nearly as often as other people seem to.  I find in my reading that all of us dream every time we sleep, whether we recall it or not.

What I loving about my dreams is changing and directing them.  I hear people all the time saying that they had a “bad dream” and woke up disturbed.  I have had that happen a time or two, but not many.  Instead, I just change the direction of the dream if I don’t like what’s happening.  Frequently I have the experience of dreaming and consciously saying to myself, “No, I don’t like this; I’m going to dream about this in this way…”

I also sometimes choose topics to dream about—my current favorite involves having lots of money…there, you have it: I’m materialistic.

My question: Do you do this?  Do you seem to have control over your dreams?  And do you choose the topics of your dreams?

Some of my friends seem to think this is strange.  I did a quick little Google on this to find that it is something called “lucid dreaming,” and that people are urged to “learn” to do this by practicing it.  It also seems to be associated with new-age mumbo-jumbos like astral projection and teleporting, which I hasten to add has not been among my sleep experiences, although I might like a few trips to Europe and other places during the night…

It appears, that dream control is possible for us all.  But I can’t remember a time when I could not control my dreams…do  you do this?  Am I weird? - C

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