Thursday, September 29, 2011

October NaBloPoMo - "Between"

I have signed up to take part in October’s NaBloPoMo.  This means that for the entire month of October I will be writing Spinster Jane blog posts and of course posting them.  Why am I doing this?  I mean really, lately it seems that I’m having a difficult enough time keeping up with two blog posts a month right? And it also seems that every other one of those posts is about how busy I am and how I’ve had to let one thing or another slide to get something else accomplished.  Why would I want to add more to my plate?

Well, first I won’t really be adding more to my plate.  I already write nearly every day.  It isn’t always written with my computer, I do have a hard copy, hand written journal that I keep.  If I’m not drafting some blog post on my laptop, I have a pen in hand and I’m capturing my thoughts on paper.  While I’m not always very disciplined in the how or what of it, I do still write regularly.  What I don’t do is share everything I write.  You wouldn’t want to read most of what’s in my journal anyway…

“September 24th, 2011…Another late night.  That guy, the one who claims to be a rabbit, is sending me weird private messages on Facebook about raiding my garden again.  Every time I try to sleep I have dreams about giant bunnies trying to break into the house…”

So part of why I want to do this is to have a bit more regularity and discipline in writing.  Of course I’ll let you know right now that it is quite possible that a good amount of what I write will be crap.  I’m not going to claim to be a brilliant writer and I’ll likely be making heavy use of the blog prompts provided by the site, which leads me to the second reason for doing this.  I like the topic.

Octobers topic is “Between.”  Here is the topic description as posted on Blogher:

“Autumn is between the two temperature extremes of summer and winter. It's a time when nature is shifting -- the scattering of leaves in the northern hemisphere, the first signs of new life down south. Halloween is obviously a time for trick-or-treating, but scratch the surface of the holiday and it makes you start thinking about how your time on earth is just a space between two periods of non-living.

Being between things isn't always a bad thing. It can be a down time, a space to recharge … Coming and goings, first and last: between is never the extreme, but a blend of two worlds.”

I think much of life is spent in the place between; we are always in a state of flux and change.  It is during the times of great change, when my limits have really been pushed that I have been able to discover how strong I am, how flexible I can be and often these are the times when I perform my best.  These times also give me a great appreciation for those other periods of between, when not a whole lot is going on and I am in a place of rest.  So, yeah, I'm pretty down with the topic.

Starting on Saturday, October 1st, my marathon month of blogging will begin.  Wish me luck!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011


“We lift ourselves by our thought, we climb upon our vision of ourselves. If you want to enlarge your life, you must first enlarge your thought of it and of yourself. Hold the ideal of yourself as you long to be, always, everywhere - your ideal of what you long to attain - the ideal of health, efficiency, success.” --- Orison Swett Marden

Monday, September 26, 2011

Home is where the heart is...

I’m behind on blog posts.  I do have a Spinster in the Kitchen installment nearly ready to go, but tonight my mind is on other things.  Tonight my mind is on people. 

We all have friends; at least I hope all of you do.  They are the people we turn to when times are tough.  They are the people we celebrate our milestones with.  They are the people we laugh with, cry with, drink with, and break bread with.   They are in our lives, sharing the passing of time with us, not due to familial obligation, or any sort of legal vow but simply because they want to be here.  This makes them precious.

Our friends are the keepers of our lives. telling us our own stories back to us during those times when we gather to share memories: when we reminisce around the dinner table after a potluck meal, or over cake at some milestone birthday, or just one evening at a bar when the hour grows late and the time passes as quickly as the cups of wine empty.  They give us the opportunity to see how the eyes and heart of another perceives us and enable us to connect to our beauty when we unable to find it on our own.

I count myself lucky to have the friends that I do.  Some I’ve known for years, a few for most of my adult life, and many who are more recent.  Each one brings something unique and good to my life.  I hope that I bring something of equal value to their lives too.  

Among these friends there have been those rare and special few who have added something so wonderful to my life that when they are absent, I find myself missing the feeling of their presence.   It isn’t that being apart from them leaves behind emptiness, but it is instead that when they are here the moments we experience together are made beyond ordinary because we have shared them.   When I see them I have a sense of arriving home and I experience joy.

So later this week I’ll share my post about breakfast pastries for one, but tonight I want to express gratitude for the friends who have brought so much love and joy to my life.  Friends are, after all, an essential ingredient in the recipe for a happy life.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Single and Unmarried Americans Week

I didn't know we had a week to call our own either until a late night cruise of Google news turned it up and from the looks of things we deserve a week of our own! We live in a society that puts marriage forth as the ultimate institution that is all around great for individuals and the community.  The world will fall apart if marriage as we know it ceases to exist, right?  Apparently though, its is we single folks who do more to support our communities, our friends and our families than those who are married.

An article in the New York Times titled "In a Married World Singles Struggle for Attention," mentions a recent study about how, contrary to popular belief, single folks (who make up nearly half of the adult population) contribute more to the general well being of society than married folks do and yet they live in a world that doesn't support their lifestyle.

Turns out single people do more to directly support their families and friends than the matrimonial minded.  Their volunteer hours are also spent in activities that support their communities.  What else is interesting is that it isn't children that make the difference.  Those who are unmarried parents continue to contribute more outside their families than married parents.  “It’s the unmarried, with or without kids, who are more likely to take care of other people,” Dr. Gerstel said. “It’s not having children that isolates people. It’s marriage.”  As it turns out once one is hitched the focus becomes one's spouse and as such connections to friends, family and society in general are let go.

The article from the Times can be found here. It also includes a link to more information about the study.  I will also add a plug here for Bella DePaulo's blog on Psychology Today, which is referenced in the article and which deals with many of the misconceptions about the those living single.  It was one the first blogs I came across when I made the decision to dive into spinsterdom head on and I continue to visit it regularly.

So if you are single, raise a glass to yourself this week.  You deserve it.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

As I Am

Intimacy is being seen and known as the person you truly are.” - Amy Bloom

Wednesday was math night.  I have this class two nights a week and to say that I’ve gotten a bit behind on the homework is well, it’s the truth. Due to missing the first week of classes I am behind by about three assignments.  Thankfully at this point I am not behind in my understanding of the work we are doing.  However, I am teetering on the edge of being in that place and so I’ve reached buckle down time.  I have to spend the time between now and Monday’s class, when we have an exam, catching up on the work so that I can pass the test, end the semester with the grade I’d like (an A) and have an understanding of the work. 

In addition to the math class, I’ve a chapter of economics to read, an English essay to write and the first act of Othello to read.   Outside of school I have work, a drumming lesson, a performance event, rehearsing for a future performance, writing two blog posts, meeting a friend’s potential ‘forever’ and preparation for my troupe’s show in October.  Oh, and eating, sleeping, laundry, exercise and kitty care.  Now I’m not complaining, though I admit to feeling some anxiety and stress about it.  I am happy to be doing all of these things and though time will be tight, with some careful scheduling I will complete all of my tasks.  It does mean some sacrifice and the biggest thing that will have to be set aside is my social life.  It is for a limited time, about two weeks, until work settles down and I have more free hours. 

There was a time in when the prospect of withdrawing from the people in my life, even temporarily would send me into a state of anxiety and worry.  I spent a good part of my life basing my personal value on whether or not I thought certain people approved of me, or thought I was smart enough, or pretty enough, or attentive enough, or if they loved me enough, or….or….or…or…and while this led me to try a lot of new things (urban surfing, six inch heels, my tenth attempt at reading Moby Dick, training for a cross country bike trip…) it led me to give up a lot of things (writing, dancing, friends, school, the cross country bike trip…) and in the end, I still didn’t feel good about myself or my relationships. 

Eventually I learned what is one of those should be obvious but is still difficult to understand life lessons.  The only opinion of me that really mattered was (Ding!  Ding!  Ding!) my own! And yeah, I also wised up about the people in my life, because approval or not my choices were not the best. 

I know that if in the next week or so I need to decline an invitation for a drink, or if I ask to postpone a dinner invitation because I must use that time to finish homework, rehearse or write a set list, that my friends will understand.  They are not going to suddenly love me less or get miffed and never call me again.  They are my friends because they love me for who I am, and pursuing my dreams with a certain amount of determination is what I do.  The people in my life today would likely lose a bit of respect for me if I gave up parts of what make me, me simply because I thought it might please them.   I am happy that is the case.

PS – this was written after returning from class on Wednesday night.  This morning another bit of chaos was thrown into the works.  One my kitties has taken ill and is undergoing surgery tomorrow.  Tonight I am also glad for the busy-busy of my life as it is proving a nice distraction from my worry about her.  All signs show that she will pull through just fine but I still feel a bit anxious about it.   Also want to send a thank you to those who offered up nice thoughts and well wishes on Twitter and Facebook today.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Coffee and a Cup of Gratitude

Sometimes having everything go right puts me in a bit of an off mood.   I’m happy for all the good in my life but I’m also distracted, sometimes a bit cranky and I’ve had a few moments where I’ve felt close to tears.    These are not the predominant feelings in my life but they are there more than usual.  I think they are connected to the feeling of being overwhelmed with all that is going on.    I am feeling all of the things that people feel when they have a lot to do and limited time resources to do it in; stressed, worried if I’ll get it all done, fear of letting someone down, tired…tired…tired…

Many of the projects I am working on right now are on-going.  While their parts may have completion dates the overall goals for them will take years to achieve.  I might get a really great paper done for a class, but I still have the entire semester and 24 more months to complete.  My troupe might finish a fabulous show at a local theater but there two more shows coming up, a tour schedule to plan for next year, and a media kit to finalize.  And then of course there is just the process of everyday living, eating right, getting enough exercise and sleep, managing my money properly…and taking time for myself.

There are two things that generally get me through times like this:  coffee and gratitude.   The first does not need much explanation.  During busy times coffee is what gets me up from the bed to get things done and it is what fuels those late nights to, well, get things done.  Gratitude however does not come freshly poured from a cup at the touch of a button.  Gratitude is something that takes a little effort. 

This morning while lying in bed thinking of all I have to accomplish this week and mentally running through all of the available hours in each day and allocating them to particular tasks that need doing, I began to feel that wave of, “Oh crap how am I going to do this? I’m going to be exhausted and cranky, I’m never going to get it all done, ugh…what what I thinking?”  As I began to consider that maybe turning off the alarm, pulling the covers over my head and pretending the world was only a figment of my imagination was a really good idea, The Voice of Reason popped into my head and said,

“Quit whining!  Quit whining and be grateful you have a reason to get out of bed in the morning. ”

The Voice of Reason can be abrupt but the point was made.  I am grateful to have so many things I want to accomplish, and in thinking about what I want to do I began to realize how much I’d already done.  I took a moment be thankful for all that has happened to bring me to where I am right now.   I’m thankful for a lot of other things and I plan to spend a bit of time each day this week taking stock of everything I am grateful for.   

Right now the top of that list is coffee.  

Thursday, September 8, 2011

People. They aren't so bad...

Spinsters, we like living our lives in a solo fashion.   We enjoy being the one sitting in the saddle directing our lives.  In fact we enjoy it so much that this is our prime directive, to live it in a way that we can survive and thrive without the assistance of other human beings.  

Okay, well this is only partially true.  Independent is definitely an adjective that, should someone ever ask, would be definitely be applied to me.  It is true that I meet all of my basic survival needs on my own.  While money can be tight at times, I have managed to create a life where I can live by myself and pay all of my bills.  I don’t starve and I have a bit left over to have some fun.  However, despite my solitary and independent tendencies, I do actually like people. 

Yes, it’s true.  I not only like people; I go out of my way to be social and spend time with them. I enjoy the company of other human beings.  So here is my list of ten reasons why I like people (yes, I know…top ten lists are a bit of a blog cop out but…hey, it’s late on a Thursday night, and it is MY blog after all, so there).

Spinster Jane’s Top Ten Things She Likes About Her Fellow Humans (in no particular order of course):
  • Sex.  Yes, I’m just getting this one out of the way right now.  Sex is fun. Sex is good and while sex alone is entertaining, really it is a whole heck of a lot more fun with another person.
  • Listening.  Now my cats are great listeners.  They will sit in my lap and purr away while I unload a day’s worth of troubles, but really I’m pretty sure that while I’m doing this they are actually wondering when the human can opener is going to stop rambling and make use of her thumbs to feed them.  People on the other hand, actually care. 
  • Stories (or Listening Part II).  People are interesting.  I love hearing someone else’s tale.  Everyone has a story of some kind and nearly everyone likes to talk about themselves.   I love hearing all of it and I’ve yet to be bored.
  • The spectacle.  We’ve all spent time people watching.  It is a pastime that never grows old.   Bus stops, dance clubs, bars, shopping centers…there is no cover charge for this particular show.
  • Food.  This one is a bit Spinster Jane specific.  I love to cook.  I especially love to cook elaborate multi course meals.  These are much more fun to do if there are actually other people around to eat the food (plus you know…they usually offer to do the dishes).
  • Back rubs.  You really can’t give one to yourself now can you?  And there is this unwritten, universal, agreement that if you give one, you get one back.   It’s one of those rare win-win situations. 
  • Parties.  Yep…keggers are not much fun when you are alone.   First you need help getting the damn thing up the stairs, and…okay seriously, gatherings are fun.   It’s when the spectacle and the story part get to come together.   A well planned party is entertaining for the guests and the hostess. 
  • Friends.  I may not want to be paired off forever but I do like having people in my life long term.  I adore my friends.  Those I am close to have seen me at my high and low points, and I’ve seen them at their best and worst too.   They are my cheerleaders and most of them are quite willing to tell me when I am being an unreasonable shit.  My life would be empty without them.
  • Gifts.  Now, now I’m not talking about the getting part.  I mean the giving.  There is something really wonderful about finding just the right gift for a friend, even if there is no occasion.  It is a thrill to give or do that special thing you know will totally make someone’s day.  It’s a buzz like no other.
  • Pizza delivery.  Do I really need to add to explain this one?
Until Monday…

Monday, September 5, 2011

Spinster Jane Gets a Case of the Vapors

You know how sometimes life gives you a bit of a wake up call?  I received one of those last week in the form of a fainting episode on Thursday afternoon while the troupe I manage and perform with was attending a week long festival.  I'd been pushing myself hard all week and by the time Thursday rolled around I was very much on the edge of exhaustion.  A couple of days of not paying attention to what I was eating (I've had blood sugar issues for much of my adult life), a lack of sleep and a bit of time sitting in the blazing sun and it really was no surprise that as I walked back to the car to head to our hotel, I found myself feeling light headed and then, the world began to go dark.

Thankfully I was not alone when this happened and was able to lean on the arm of a friend to prevent myself from falling.  After some food, a couple of hours of rest and some re-hydrating I was at least somewhat closer to my normal self.  While I have had these episodes before and they are not something highly life threatening they are preventable and when I do my part, eating right, resting enough, exercising and staying well hydrated, I can go months or even years without issue.  

The past couple of months have brought a lot of changes into my life.  These changes have all been good.  So many parts of my life are expanding in ways that I never expected and so I'm adjusting.  However, while all of this has been beneficial, it has been a bit disruptive and my usual rhythms of self care have basically been tossed out the window.  

This has to change.  No only am I generally a happier person when I am well (I mean who isn't really...sick people are often cranky people) but I am also better able to put forth the energy I want to put towards those things that fill me up with joy:  creating, spending time with those I love, learning, etc.  I can't do any of these things well if I'm tired, foggy headed and cranky.  

So since I'm an adult and thus 100% responsible for my own well being, I am hereby taking the steps that I need to take to ensure that I can keep doing all of these things and be happy well doing it.  I'm vowing to myself, with the cats and all of you as my witness, that I will do better.  I don't expect perfection right off the bat, but I will improve.

Aside from eating right, resting, exercising, etc. I'm also trying to get a better handle on my time management.   So one of things I'm going to change is to set days on which this blog is updated.  From here on out you can expect updates on Mondays and Thursdays.  While there may from time to time be more frequent updates, you can expect at least two per week on these days.

See you again on Thursday.  Until then.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Catching up

It's been a fun, but tiring week of out of town performances.  I had a great time and can't wait to do it again but I'm happy to be home.

I'll be back to blogging soon!