Monday, December 31, 2012

2013 The Look Ahead

This morning at about 3:00 AM I woke up coughing and wheezing, unable to speak with my chest feeling so tight that at first I was afraid that I would not be able to draw in a deep enough breath for my inhaler to be effective.  I closed my eyes and mentally talked to myself, "Your lungs are in spasm.  Relax.  Breathe through your nose, slow deep breaths.  Don't give into panic.  Just breathe."

Seconds passed, the coughing eased and I was able to push the air out of my lungs enough to take an albuterol filled inhalation off my inhaler.  A minute passed, I took another, this time I was able to breath more deeply.  Two more puffs and I was able to take a moderately deep breath.  I sat in the darkness of my bedroom and pondered whether or not I should to go the emergency room.

I thought about my insurance and tried to remember how much of an ER visit it would cover.  I took mental stock of my tight cash supplies; would I have enough money to take a cab?  Logically I new that if I chose not to go I would spend the rest of the night taking measured doses of medication, sitting up, not sleeping, counting my breaths until dawn hoping that things would improve on their own.  As I sat there with these thoughts rolling around in my head and the rhythm of my wheezy chest keeping time I heard a voice.

No, it wasn't a divine intervention and I wasn't having some bizarre, oxygen deprived brain hallucination.  What I heard in my mind was the voice of a dear friend saying, "...please go to the emergency room.  I love you and want you to be well."  Another voice popped in, "You know you'd tell me to high tail my butt there if this were me pondering whether or not to go. A more curmudgeonly comrade, "Don't be a dumbass. You can't breathe, go." And, "If something happens to you my giant friend, I'll be a tiny person all alone in the world!"

And so I did.  I put on my jacket and shoes, stuffed my current crochet project into my bag (is there an ER in the world that doesn't keep you forever?), sent a text to my sleeping roommate so he'd know where I was and called a cab.  Thirty minutes later I was being given a nebulizer treatment and the squeaks, crackles and wheezes of my lungs were slowly silenced.  I could breathe deeply once again. Three and a half hours later I was back home, spooning the cat and snuggling down under the covers in the hopes that I'd be able to fall asleep despite the albuterol and steroid induced alertness I was now feeling.

So what do this morning's events have to do with looking ahead to my intentions for 2013?

1.  My health.  Overall my health tends to be pretty good.  I am pretty sure I had fewer illnesses this year though I definitely had a much rougher allergy year in 2012.   My asthma however has become steadily worse over the past year.  After several years with no ER visits at all 2012 had two (including last night) plus one visit to my doctor to catch a flair up this fall.  It is a problem I don't often share with people and I will go out of my way to hide it.  I rarely use my inhaler in front of anyone. .  It is one of those things that makes me feel weak and vulnerable, and I like to think I can take on just about anything.

It's time I face up to the fact that I am not managing it as well as I should be.  I know that I am not always great about taking my preventative medication though sometimes even with my insurance I can't afford to buy it.  I'm sometimes allow my self to eat things that I know may increase my likelihood of having an attack simply because I am in a hurry.  There are quite a few other things I could be doing to take better care of my health in general.

I did a lot in 2012 to better my own mental well being and reduce my stress level but this year I need to focus more on my physical health.  So intention number one for 2013 is to be far more conscientious about taking care of my body.  It is after all the only one I have right?

2.  My friends (warning - this is about to get a bit mushy).  There I was at three o'clock in the morning, dealing with a crisis by myself and yet I didn't feel alone. Though my friends were not physically present, their love was.  Maybe if I'd sat a bit longer and my chest got a bit tighter I'd have gone on my own, but it was the voices of those I love, even if only imagined, that sent me to the ER when I did.

Me being, well me, one of the first things I did when I arrived at the ER was check in on Facebook (hey, priorities right?).  It was only moments later that friends, mostly from those still awake in other time zones, began texting me to ask how I was and to offer support.  When I arrived home friends on this coast began to rise and shine. offers of assistance and well wishes lit up my iPhone.

My life is full of really wonderful, interesting, generous and caring people.  My world is full of love and the second of my intentions for this coming year is to honor that love and the community of people that it comes from.  Letting people I know that I love and care for them, expressing gratitude for the good things in my life, offering my support to those who are in need and whatever else I can do to further the cause of love.

So my friends. per the doctor's orders tonight I will be staying home instead of making New Year's Eve visits to the homes of various friends as I originally planned.  New Year's Eve is one of my favorite nights of the year largely because of the people I am able to spend it with.  I am little sad that I won't be able to ring in 2013 with all of you but just as you were in my heart in the early hours of this morning, you will be there at midnight tonight and my New Year's Eve toast will be you.

Happy New Year!  May 2013 be full of love, good pizza, and prosperity for us all.

PS - this post officially marks the successful completion of my December NaBloPoMo commitment which probably deserves it own toast.  Go me!


Sunday, December 30, 2012

2012 The Look Back

2012 will come to its close in just over 24 hours.  People will gather together to say goodbye to the old year and to welcome in the new.  On Tuesday when we toss out the old calendar and hang 2013 up on the wall we will be literally and symbolically ridding ourselves of the past year.  New Year's Eve is one of my favorite holidays.  I love that it is a holiday without ties to religion yet full of celebration and I love the renewal that it represents.  I find it beneficial to pause to take stock of where I am and where I hope to go and the new year is as good a time as any.

If I had to sum up this year in one word it would be busy.  I feel like I accomplished more in the past year than I did in the past two.  The first half of the year I worked two jobs while keeping up a full performance schedule and attending school.  The summer I found myself cutting back to one job and a great increase in the amount of out of town shows my troupe did.  The fall was a return to school, a move and more shows than I've had before a that time of year.

This was also the year that I reconnected with my creative voice.  Much of what I had done the prior year felt like it was missing something and by the time 2012 began my performances felt hollow and empty.  I came very close to deciding to cease dancing altogether but thanks to steady encouragement from a couple of close friends, a lot of soul searching and a deliberate return to my belly dance roots I managed to find my way.  This process greatly impacted my decision to begin teaching because I came to the realization that our unique inner creative voice is one that we are all capable of discovering and that the process of finding and connecting to it was something I could, and wanted to, share.

It was also the year that I finally learned the lesson of saying no, because I began to recognize just what my own limitations are.  I knew I'd rather do a few things well than to merely dabble in many things.  This realization brought an immense amount of relief and a great reduction in the pressure I often put on myself to succeed exceptionally at everything.

2012 had a great loss in October, saying goodbye to my sweet kitty Orange.  Seventeen years of companionship came to a close as she passed in my arms early on the morning of the 31st.  I will miss my tiny, crazy peanut forever.  I also said goodbye to three years of solitary living and made the decision to once again have roommates; a decision that has worked out quite well for me.

Every year has its own ups and downs; 2012 was no different but over all it was a rather pleasant year.  It was  year full of adventure and love, so unlike some years past I am not chomping at the bit to say goodbye to it.  In fact I think if I could meet 2012 as a person I'd be more likely to shake its hand and give it a very heartfelt thank you.




Saturday, December 29, 2012

My Hands

Finding myself in need of inspiration for today's blog post I paid a visit to the Imagination Prompt Generator. I clicked through several of the prompts until I came upon this one...

Look at your hands. Why are you grateful for them?

I often find myself looking at other people's hands.  When I see my mother's hands I hear the sound of clicking knitting needles, scrabble tiles in their velvet bag, and I recall her brushing my hair back from my brow when I was sad or sick.  The hands of the drummer I work with bring to mind rhythms, the scent of campfire smoke, the jingle of hip scarves and the many excited gestures he makes when describing a new piece of music.  The hands of a dancer friend, so expressive in their movements, every gesture full of meaning.  

Hands carry stories in their textures, the rough calloused hands of a friend who often finds herself working outdoors; the ever soft and strong hands of a massage therapist I know; the nurse who keeps her nails clipped and clean.  I am grateful for all of the things that the hands of others have given me: music, love, support, healing, warmth, food...but I have never looked closely at my own or thought much about the things that they have given me. 

My hands carry long fingers with nails that are forever in need of a manicure.  They are scratched from kitty rough housing, and one finger has a callous from where my crochet needle rests.  They are soft because I moisturize obsessively.  My hands are decorated with three rings I wear nearly everyday and each was picked not only for their appearance but to mark three occasions in my life that I wanted to remember always.  My fingers are nearly always cold. 

I am grateful for my hands because they help me to create.  They are quick with the movements that draw yarn through loops to create a myriad of crochet projects.  They remember the movements that allow my fingers to strike the correct key when typing so my thought appears on the screen only moments after it is born into my mind.  I am grateful for the delicate, expressive movements they can make when I dance. 

I am grateful for my hands because they are strong.  They can knead the tough dough of whole grain bread.  They carry bags of groceries the nearly two miles from the store to my front door.  My hands have stretched canvas painting and pulled tight fabric for rug weaving.  They chop, chop, chop vegetables into countless varieties of shapes for the meals that nourish me. 

I am grateful for my hands because they carry comfort.  They can pull a grieving friend close.  They can show affection to a friends with a hand to hand embrace or reassurance with a light squeeze  They can carry tissues to wipe away tears, or hold back the hair of an ill friend, they can massage tired feet.  They can hold up my gran when she needs help walking. They can catch a passing stranger when they slip on the icy sidewalk. 

I sometimes think about what life would be like if I lost my sight or my hearing but I've not given thought to what life might be like without my hands.  I'm sure I'd find a way to adapt and maybe even be able to still do many of the things that I've written about above, but right now I'm grateful that they are there, attached to my wrists and fully functional.     

Friday, December 28, 2012

The Hardest Job I've Ever Done

Today I received the last of my grades for this past semester and surprisingly I managed to pull off all "A"s.  Why an I surprised?  With everything I had going on, my move, managing the troupe, performing, work, the death of my kitty, rehearsing, costuming, and some small bit of social life, it is a wonder that I was able to give school much attention at all, though somehow I always found the time. 

It was a lot of early to rise mornings to squeeze in a couple of hours of writing a paper before starting my work day; It meant more than a few late nights editing and catching up on class reading; and I was often seen around town flipping through homemade flash cards studying on the go.  

Today's NaBloPoMo blog prompt is, "What is the hardest job you've ever done?"  In looking back over the past year, I'd say the hardest job I'd ever done is my life.  These days I fill my life with activities I love to do, people I love to spend time with and work that feeds me body and soul.  It isn't easy.  It means many tired nights, money is often very tight and quiet moments can be few but the payoff of being generally happy and fulfilled is huge.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Two Hundred and One

It is 100% for sure that I am infected with the snot plague.  I have sniffles, coughs, achy body and a mild fever.  I have spent half my day in bed and after this post I'm likely to spend the rest of it there too.  It's given me a lot of time to think, though I'm not sure how clearly as it's quite possible that this plague has infected my thoughts too.

I was thinking of the past year and the plans I had for this blog in 2012.  I wanted to start doing interviews with women who lived single happy lives, I wanted more recipes for one and home tips for those living solo.  Amazingly I didn't really do any of those!  My only excuse is that life got too busy.  I know, I'm not buying that excuse either.

After all here I am, rotting away from the inside, feverish and foggy headed writing a blog post because I said I'd write every day for a month.  Granted, not all of my posts have been the blogging equivalent of rock stars, actually I wouldn't even call some of them garage bands, but somehow I still managed to find the time because I made it a priority. I'm going to confess that this past year, when it came to some things, I suffered from a definite lack of discipline.

As the year comes to a close I'll be posting the obligatory end of the year blog post.  I will likely write a bit about what I hope to accomplish in 2013, including with this blog.  I'll also write about those things I actually did manage to accomplish (like hitting my 200th blog post).

Right now though, I'm climbing back under the covers with a cup of tea and episodes of Lost Girl.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

200 Posts

It came to my attention this morning that this is my 200th blog post.  I feel like I should do something special to commemorate this occasion, but it's late, and I'm tired, and I'm pretty sure I'm coming down with the wandering plague that has been crashing in the sinus passages and lungs of all my friends.   It was only a matter of time before it came knocking on my door to ask if I had any crash space.

It's rumored to be a horrible house guest that shows up unannounced and then stays for weeks on end.  I'm hoping to set clear boundaries and send it packing in the morning.

Anyway, let us raise a glass of steamy chicken broth to my 200th blog post.  Sniffle...

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Enough Time?

Remember a few days back when I wrote about how all work and no play makes Jane a dull spinster?  In looking ahead the week that I thought might be a quiet one with lots of play time has suddenly become full of Things That Must be Done!

I'm not going to list all of those things here but the hours are fast filling up with press kit final tweaks  choreographing for a new piece, costuming to be sewn and a living space that is still in need of some serious nesting attention.

Sigh.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Crafty Christmas Eve

This spinster's crochet hook has been busy this holiday season. I love giving handcrafted gifts and creating something beautiful that you know a loved one will enjoy is a far more enjoyable process than shopping.

Happy Holidays everyone!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Blog Prompt

Do you think some people achieve easily, or do you agree with Lombardi that "the only place success comes before work is in the dictionary"?

If you are a follower of this blog then you likely have some clue as to my answer to this question.  I think that those who seem to achieve success easily are simply better at concealing how hard they work.  Hard work is what creates long term success, I don't think it can be achieved with out it, however I think that for some of us what we are willing to work that hard to achieve are things that we deeply love, that feed us in ways other than the outward accolades that may come from success.  When you are doing that which feeds your soul it is easier to dedicate time and energy to it.  

It doesn't mean one won't be tired or even exhausted at times but it does mean that one understands the worth of the sacrifices that are made.  Perhaps with that understanding comes the willingness to make the sacrifice of time and energy needed to create something greater.  In fact it may not be seen as a sacrifice at all but simply one more ingredient in the recipe of success. 


Saturday, December 22, 2012

Kittens

I started to write a blog post about last night's Winter Solstice celebration but I'm close to running out of time as I need to prepare for a show this evening, so instead here is a video of cute kittens.


Friday, December 21, 2012

Thankfullness

I have a busy day ahead of me with work, preparing food for a solstice celebration and an evening of sharing the longest night with friends so I'm writing a very quick post.  Tonight marks the longest night and the turning of the year.  In honor of that here are ten things that brought a little light into my world this past year:

1.  My friends who offered love, support, laughter, condolences and celebration.

2.  All of the people who I have worked with creatively particularly all of the members of my performance troupe.

3. My kitties.

4. The green spaces in my city - the cemetery, the waterfront, and the parks.

5. Rice and bean!  A staple food that got me through many a tight month.

6. Good conversation.

7. Books for the knowledge and escape contained in their pages

8. Warm and fuzzy slippers!

9. Dance and rhythm

10. Love.

I am struggling financially right now but, cliche as it may sound, my life is rich in art, music, friends, experiences, joy, and most of all love.  This solstice finds me feeling large amounts of gratitude.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Silver

I looked in the mirror this morning and realized that I had too many silver hairs on my head to count them.  This is of course bringing up all sorts of thoughts around aging that I'm not quite sure I'm ready to deal with.


Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Some thoughts on creativity and practice...

When I have sought a metaphor for creativity I have often conjured up the image of a great river; ever present, always flowing, teeming with potential ideas, thoughts and creations.  We, the artists, dancers, musicians, writers...we can choose to stand on shore and cast our lines and nets or we can craft a boat and launch ourselves into the water.  We can learn to navigate the river, discover its deep, slow spots or if brave enough, ride the rapids, casting our lines and nets as we go, learning the places where our great ideas hide.  Like any fishermen we learn that we must visit the river regularly if we are to keep ourselves fed.  We also learn when we need to make camp upon the shore again, to watch the water and the other boats pass by.

I also at times see creativity as fire.  I like the image of fire because while the river implies something that exists that we must seek out, fire can be created by our own hand.

In the literal sense fire is something that needs to be fed regularly if one wants to keep warm.  Even on those days when we may not want to get out of bed to pile more wood upon the coals we must or the air will chill, the pipes will freeze and worse, the fire will go out an need to be rekindled from scratch.  Fire is also something that is contained to keep it safe.  Warming your house with a pile of wood on the living room floor will keep you warm, for a time, until your house burns down and you are left homeless in the cold.  Putting fire in a safe container allows us to benefit from its light and heat without turning our homes to ash and keeps the coals alive and ready for new fuel.

Creating art in any form requires that same balance of fuel, discipline and containment.  We must feed our creative fires by seeking out new experiences, learning new techniques, experiencing the work of others, and practice.  We must also have discipline in that not only must we find the best fuel to help our fire burn its brightest we have to do it regularly...even when we don't want to.  In other words, practice, practice, practice, practice, practice, practice, pra...you get the idea.  Finally we contain it in some way by choosing a creative path to follow so that we may master it.  While many of us creative types have multiple creative fires there are probably only one or two of those fires that burn brightly enough to keep us warm.

I hold both of the images in my mind together.  Creativity flows and it burns but whether water or flame it still requires regular tending.  We cannot become a master of our various arts without regular practice. We must continually paddle its waters if we are to learn to navigate it, we must keep it fed if we are to keep warm at its hearth.  Even when the last thing we want to do is get our feet wet or creep out from our cozy beds...or write a blog post every day for one month.

PS - This post was somewhat inspired by thoughts brought to mind by this blog post: Practice 101: Improve Your Brain While Becoming Awesome which was brought to my attention by Aepril Schaile (who is also awesome)

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Seeking peace...


Seeking peace and quiet this evening. Soft music, candles, some of my favorite incense.  It may be the weather; it has been a blustery cold and wet day, or perhaps it is just that for the first time in weeks my life has room for an extended pause. 

Whatever the reason I'm taking advantage of the calm. 



Monday, December 17, 2012

All work and no play?

The BlogHer NaBlaPoMo prompt for today is:  Agree or disagree: All work and no play makes you a dull girl.


Oh I agree.  All work with little time for recreation doesn't just make me dull, it makes me down right cranky.  We all need down time and I certainly am no exception. Going too long without some sort of break leaves me feeling stressed and overwhelmed.  I'm unpleasant to be around and I become prone to crying jags.  So what do I do to prevent this?

 ...go for a walk 
...dance 
...call a friend just to chat 
...veg out to Netflix or Hulu
...bake cookies and then convince my roommates to eat them all
...write for an audience of one (me)
...play music
...indulge in a bubble bath

While I know that generally I always have all of these options is isn't always easy to remember to actually take a break.  And the trick is of course to take breaks often enough that I don't find myself in that place of feeling stressed out and overwhelmed. It is easy to dismiss it as just one more thing that has to be scheduled or planned when really all I may have to do is STOP, put on my boots and take a fifteen minute stroll down to the waterfront, or pause to watch the sunset which I see from my living room.  Fifteen or twenty minutes isn't generally going to make or break whatever it is I may be working on.

It is on my list of self improvement goals for 2013, though it is probably something I should get started on now.  In fact I think I'll go see what is on my Netflix cue right now...after I make popcorn of course.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

How to be productive...

I'm thinking today about my New Year's resolutions, well really it is re more like a New Year's I might be able to change this about myself if I have enough discipline and actually remember that I want to do it list.  But anyway, one of the things that I'd like to change in my life is to eliminate distractions that lead me down the road to being unproductive which can lead to having to complete things at the last minute which leaves me cranky and stressed out... 

My biggest distractions?  My iPhone and my computer.  My plan is to actually set aside an hour each day where I turn off my iPhone and my laptop but here is one possible solution for this particular problem.  


Miranda July: The Future on Nowness.com.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Trying to make sense...

Since my move across town I am much nearer to the ocean but I've not taken advantage of the proximity nearly enough.  Today I found I not only had the time but also the need.  Like many of us the news of yesterday's shooting in Connecticut has weighed heavily on my mind.

Growing up I lived with the fear that at any moment nuclear bombs could begin falling from the sky. In my ten year old imagination I thought that the sound a missile would make was similar to that of a rocket ship and so I lay awake at night listening to low flying planes pass over our house and wondering if the rumble of their engines signaled the beginning of the end of life as I knew it.

When I expressed my fears my parents encouraged me to write to President Reagan, to make known my wish that we get rid of these horrible weapons so that we could all have a future and I could sleep at night.  .  As the years passed I wrote more letters and though the threat didn't go away somehow I learned to live with it.  Eventually the cold war ended and despite the continued existence of these weapons we all felt the world was a safer place.

As I sat seeking peace by the ocean this morning I thought about the children of our country today and wondered if any of them look towards their classroom doors with the same kind of fear my younger self had experienced listening to the skies at night.  I think perhaps what they feel is even more difficult to deal with.  No one could promise me that a nuclear war couldn't happen, but writing all of those letters gave me some small sense of control and opened up the possibility that I could do something about this potential terror.  I had someone I could turn to, someone who seemed to be in a position of power and prevention over this threat and say, "Please do something about this."

This threat however is not an arsenal of weapons with a Commander in Chief who has the power to say yes or, please, no to the release the threat.  There is no one person to whom we direct them to so that they may make a plea for change.

We can blame the gunman for his horrible acts, and we should, but we want to find some explanation for the increase in these events. Facebook and Twitter are today full of calls for more gun control, less gun control, restoring funding for mental health, finger pointing to the right and to the left, and at the killers' childhoods.  We point the finger at ourselves, knowing we are a part of the culture and society that produces people who do such horrible things.

And maybe it is within ourselves that our power resides.  In the immediate we can only extend comfort to the victims families and parents can try to offer some explanation to their children as to why this person did what he did and hope their arms are enough to make them feel safe again. In the long term, it is all of us who must strive to become more compassionate beings working towards creating a peaceful world where the night skies are full of nothing but stars and the classroom fills our children's minds with dreams of the future instead of nightmares.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Are You a Flake or Are You Just Plain Rude?

A few days ago I came across this articles, Yes, You Might Be A Flake on PsychologyToday.com.  For those of us who believe in the basic etiquette the reading of the article is a trigger event.  It will bring back all of those moments where you expected a party of 10 but only 8 of those who RSVPed actually showed.  Or those times when you have set the table for five and three extra invitees who never event acknowledged your invitation arrive at the door (surprise!) and you wonder how you are ever going to turn five lobsters into eight.

You can blame technology and the ease with which it has made last minute text message bail-fests** all too easy to participate in or that excessive Facebook invitations have put us all into the default mode of ignore or turned us into automatic mouse-clicking-reply-yes-to-everything automatons but the fact is that the RSVP is seemingly well on it's way to becoming a quaint custom of yesteryear.     Personally I think the article goes a bit to easy in it's title.  I don't think people are flaky  I think they are just plain rude BUT all of the points listed in the article are valid.

I'm not claiming that I've never pulled the last minute bail out.  It was only a couple of years ago that after a long day at work when I had to stay unexpectedly late I called a friend and said that I was sorry, but I was simply too tired to be able to attend her dinner party and needed to head home to unwind.  It was a few weeks later that I discovered all of her guests had cancelled that evening and she was left with dinner for seven prepared but uneaten.

Since then there have been more than a few occasions that I have been the only one who actually showed up and I've  had quite an enjoyable evening in the company of the host or hostess with more wine for us.  I still have those evenings when I have felt like I want to just go home, put on my slippers and curl up on the couch, but if I've said "Yes" I will show up and not once have I regretted it.  I have found that the company of good friends does more to lift my spirits and boost my energy than a bowl of popcorn and Netflix ever will.

You might think you won't be missed but even putting planning and logistics aside that person who asked you to attend did it for a reason and that reason is probably that they actually like you and enjoy your company.  Bailing at the last minute not only leaves a vacant seat at the table but it also sends the message that you don't find that person equally as important or likable. And maybe that is the underlying and sad truth.  Maybe this increase in flakiness isn't due to any sort of inherent human laziness or the ease with which we can cancel via text message or that etiquette and manners have fallen out of fashion, but perhaps it is that we are simply putting our human relationships and friendships into a less important place in our lives.

I really hope that is not the case.

**bail-fest: the text party that takes place on your phone about a half hour before the scheduled start time of your dinner party, house warming, pot luck, birthday party, etc. during with people send their excuse for why they suddenly need to cancel at the last minute.   Phrases such at "Oh so sorry something came up," "I'm just not feeling it tonight," "I'm such a ditz!  I totally double booked myself," or "I'm sooooooooo tired I hope you understand." are commonly used bail-fest excuses.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Day 12

Plodding along...
Blogging everyday for a month is proving to be a huge struggle!  It seems that my days are all rather full and finding time to sit down and right is not at all easy.

My biggest struggle is that I am not totally satisfied with all of my posts.  Blogging two times a week gives me the time to write a draft and then edit and revise as frequently as I need to until I determine the post is ready.  Putting a post out everyday can mean that I have as little as a half hour to think of an idea, write a post, edit and put it up on the blog before the clock strikes midnight.  Which means that many of the posts I have shared these past days have been miles away from perfect.

And yes, I suppose that there is a lesson in that.  This month I'm going to have many, many opportunities to become comfortable with imperfection.  19 more of opportunities to be exact.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Going Mobile

I just downloaded the mobile blogger app. This is my little test to see how well it works.

Tah-dah!!!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Grump

It's Monday morning.  My one day that I generally get to sleep in.  BUT thanks to a combination of my asthma deciding to go into hyper overdrive and my roommate's cat deciding that 3:00 AM and 6:00 AM are the perfect times to engage in aggressive negotiations over territory, my generally blissful eight hours of Sunday to Monday sleep was turned into a string of abruptly interrupted naps. This morning I am tired, wheezy and grumpy.  Add that to the steady undercurrent of annoyance that the holidays bring out in me and you can put my mood somewhere between disgruntled and downright curmudgeonly.

I have a mind of two moods this time of year.  I love winter.  I enjoy the settling in of the cold and the deeper darkness of the night.  The Winter Solstice is my favorite holiday and is generally spent with friends with who I attempt to make it through the longest night (I've about a 50% success rate).  In the morning I will watch the sunrise over the ocean with many others from the area who gather each year to do the same.  I like the quiet introspection that winter brings.  I am a fan of winter clothes and pile on the sweaters, hats, mittens, woolly socks and snuggly scarves.  Warming winter food and drink fill my kitchen with the scents of soups and tea.  

Then there is the part of me that looks at the excessive amount of consumption that occurs this time of year. Six weeks of buy, buy, buy at an average rate of $843 per person spent on one gifts for one winter holiday or another.  I look out the window where I see a drizzly day with rain falling instead of snow and I can't help but think of how much our cultural dedication to accumulation has impacted the climate to the point that the winters of my childhood are well on their way to becoming the stuff that tall tales are made of.   

I know that the only thing I have absolute control over here is myself and generally I do a fairly decent job of reminding myself of the good things I have but when I'm also operating on less than optimal sleep it becomes a bit more difficult.

So I searched the internet in the hopes of finding something positive to share and I came across a video about the Winter Solstice in Bolivia where the day has been declared a national holiday (though for them will occur in June).  It reminds me to keep in mind what is really important to me this time of year. The sense of renewal that the Solstice and making it to the other side of longest night brings, the reminder that things can and do change, and of course hope that they will change for the better.

YouTube won't let me embed the video in the post so you will just have to follow the link here:  





Sunday, December 9, 2012

And I said I'd do this because????

I'm beginning to think that most of my blog posts during this month of blogging are going to begin with, "It's nearly 11:00 PM and I've yet to write a blog post."

Including this one.


Saturday, December 8, 2012

How hard do you think you work?

"The more I want to get something done, the less I call it work." - Richard Bach

Thursday's NaBloPoMo blog prompt was "How hard do you think you work?"  It might seem a simple question; I think anyone asked would be likely to say that they work very hard.  We don't want to seem like slackers and no one likes to be thought of as lazy.

When I think about the question a bit more I think that it is a question that is actually quit difficult to answer.  There are things that I do in life, such as most of my creative pursuits, that require me to expend a lot of physical or mental energy but they don't seem like work and in fact can even feel nearly effortless.

There are those days when the words don't flow, or the music doesn't speak to me.  I stare at the blank screen; an hour passes, inspiration doesn't come and though I've nothing to show for it I feel like I've been working harder than ever.

And then there are all of those little things that go along with being an artist that no one likes to deal with.  bookkeeping, insurance, set lists, calling venue after venue to book gigs, following up with performers, stitching a hundred beads onto a new costume, the day job.  Some of those things I'd call work, some I'd call chores, and others, like talking to people about what I do, I don't mind much at all.

So maybe the question should be "Are you willing to work hard?"

That one is easy.  Yes.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Why Man Creates, 1968

A friend recently mentioned to me a moment from a video he'd once seen..  The sequence he described sounded funny and so I decided to go on a search for it.  When I began looking for it I had no idea that it was the short film "Why Man Creates" that he was talking about.  I saw this film sometime in my childhood though I don't recall what the circumstances were.  I'm not sure what my reaction to the film was at the time but it is interesting to look at it through my eyes as they are today. 

The film doesn't actually answer the question of why human beings create but I don't think that was the intent of its creators.  Perhaps they only mean to leave the viewer asking him or herself the same question.  Why do people create?  Why do I create?  Why do you create?



Thursday, December 6, 2012

How to be Alone

I have shared this video before but some things are worth watching again.  


Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Day 5 Almost Didn't Happen

I don't think I've stopped moving since I woke up this morning.  I've been so busy, work, meeting on a film project, work, study, make dinner, eat dinner, study, catch up on emails, follow up on phone calls, begin work on an upcoming fundraising event...wait what am I forgetting?

OH RIGHT! I have to write a blog post.  It's 9:15 and I've just now turned my thoughts to writing.

Anyone who thinks that single people spend their days either eating bonbons and pining away for unrequited/lost/nonexistent love or wiling away the hours at one social engagement after another without a care in the world except for where the next party is hasn't spent five minutes in my life or the lives of most of the unattached folks that I know.  I do have days that I decide I'm not going to do a darned thing but those days are rare and in fact, I usually need to plan them weeks in advance.  So much for footloose and fancy free...

Not that I'm complaining!  In fact there is very little that I do that I don't enjoy.  Things like litter box scooping, laundry, dishes, cleaning up hairballs, sorting socks and detangling my hair all make the list of acts that I find at least mildly unpleasant.  Oh, and sorting buttons which I have avoided doing for quite some time.  Generally though my life is full in that  I just ate a large slice of tourti√®re with a cup of homemade hot chocolate for desert sort of way...

...perhaps feeling a little stuffed but mostly nourished, warm, happy and maybe in need of a nap.

PS - in looking this over "moving" hasn't really been a part of the equation at all today.  In fact it has been full of a lot of sitting.  So I've one more thing to do before bed...DANCE!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Unconscious and Bleeding: Read 10:27 AM

I am addicted to adore my iPhone.  I wake up to the sound of its soft chime.  As I sip my morning coffee it delivers me a daily agenda and throughout my day it gently reminds me where I need to be in the next hour or the next five minutes.  It keeps me in touch with all of my friends as I run from work, to class, to home or to a gig.  I know immediately when I receive an email and if it is time sensitive I can find a quiet corner to type a response.  I have apps that help me make grocery lists, track my monthly cycle, identify songs, play games or share pictures of my cats with everyone I know.  


When I am in class or having dinner with a friend I switch the phone to airplane mode because if I hear it buzz or ring I will compulsively reach for it to find out if it is something I need to tend to.  I can't use do not disturb function because I know that with a tap of the button it will display all of the messages, emails, and phone calls that I've missed (it's just too tempting).  At the end of my day I read my blogroll or watch Netflix and Hulu shows while snugged down in my bed.  Before I fall asleep I tuck it away on special shelf next to my bed where I can reach for it first thing the next morning.


Each time there is an upgrade to the operating system I squeal with glee as I discover new features and tools.   Each time I have been very pleased with the result (okay maybe not with the maps)...until now. There is one feature on the iPhone that has caused me endless misery and anxiety.


I don't want to know when someone has read my text message.  Yes, tell me it has been successfully delivered but don't let me know that their eyes have been upon it because when I see that little notification, "Read 10:27 AM," below my sent message the clock starts to tick...


...five minutes...

...a half hour...

...an hour...

...two hours pass without response...


You didn't respond because you were about to get into the shower and Oh god!  You slipped on the soap and you are now unconscious and bleeding in the bath tub and your roommate is on vacation!


You didn't answer because you were driving but you were in a horrible car accident and you are now unconscious and bleeding in a ditch on a unmarked dirt road frequented only by prom night lovers and it's December!



You didn't answer because you'd just left for a peaceful walk in the woods (to that secret place you refuse to tell any one about) where a tree fell on you and you are now unconscious and bleeding while slowly being crushed to death beneath the weight of a giant tree!


See my brain doesn't give me simple explanations like: you forgot to charge your phone and it shut down before you could respond, or you were just sitting down and eating dinner and it slipped your mind, or you are writing that final paper and you're on a roll, or you are about to do your daily meditation, or maybe you just don't like me (okay forget that one, it can't possibly be that one). No my anxiety prone brain jumps from "hmmm...wonder why she didn't text back yet?" straight to unconscious and bleeding!!!!


I CAN'T TAKE IT!!


And even if there was a way to shut it off I'd always be turning it back on to see if the message had been read or not and then I'm right back where I started.


Now of course I realize that this means I probably need to do one of those technology detoxes that seem to be the rage lately. And the more rational part of my brain realizes that not once has any of these imagined scenarios actually occurred (knock on wood).  I should just take a deep breath and let it go, whomever I texted will get back to me when they are ready to do so and all will be well.


Or maybe on the next update Apple could just take this feature away?  Pretty please?

Monday, December 3, 2012

Spinster in the Kitchen: Sweet Potato Rice (Gogumabap)

This is what I made for dinner this evening.   I had sweet potatoes that I needed to use up and left over rice from making curry a few days ago; this recipe uses fresh rice. A neighbor of mine shared the dish with me years ago but I always forget how to make the sauce which is why I ended up looking it up online and came across this fabulous video.

The recipe is very simple: sweet potatoes, rice and very basic sauce.  It is easily made gluten free (use gluten free soy sauce) or vegan (use sugar instead of honey in the sauce).  It is also quite delicious and very inexpensive to make plus if you have leftovers it actually reheats beautifully. It makes only two to three servings making it quite manageable for one person to eat over a couple of days.  It is so tasty I don't mind eating it for lunch the next day.

Enjoy!



PS - Yes I know this isn't a full Spinster in the Kitchen post.  I'm pressed for time and have a final I need to study for but I still want to make sure my blog is updated (28 days to go).

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Just Pick Something and Start the Work

"Nothing will work unless you do." - Maya Angelou

Friday was a lost day.  It was lost to me being wretchedly sick in bed all day unable to eat or drink from the early morning until 9:30 PM.  Yesterday I managed to get through a day of school and housekeeping by sipping water and eating bowls of brown rice until the evening when I went to have dinner at the home of a friend.   By midnight I was exhausted and when I arrived home shortly thereafter I fell into bed and blissful unconsciousness until the morning.

Today, after returning from a morning troupe rehearsal, I found myself two days behind on all kinds of work (school work, job work, creative work, personal work). Faced with the decision of which should take priority and be tackled first it was very tempting to toss my hands in the air and just say, "Too many choices! I'm going to hide away in my bedroom and watch Netflix and Hulu for the remainder of the afternoon."

...but since that really wasn't an option I took a mental look at the list of things I'd like to have done before I go to bed this evening:

  • Attempt to make gluten free bread
  • Sort my holiday decorations and put them up
  • Do two days of dishes
  • Write down my notes for my class introduction
  • Pick up the living room and move the bookshelf 
  • Write a blog post
  • Take a nap
  • Log into work for an hour to make up for Friday
  • Study

As of this moment the loaf of bread is in the oven, the dishes are done and I'm hopefully about to finish and share this blog post.  I can't say that I put much thought into choosing which to do first.  In fact I think I mostly chose to make the bread first because the kitchen was cold and I wasn't going to plunge my hands into a sink full of dishes in a chilly kitchen.  It also worked out time the bread would take to rise and bake also gave me the break I needed to write this blog post in the now toasty warm kitchen.

When faced with all of the things I want to accomplish today I just picked one even if it wasn't perhaps the most important item on the list.  Happily my choice helped in the completion of two other items on the list.  I'm not sure that I will complete everything I'd like to do before bed (though I'm thinking the nap is quite likely to be the next item crossed off which brings the count to four) but at least I am making some sort of progress.

Plus my kitchen is toasty warm and smells fantastic!


PS - Bread is baked and out of the oven cooling on a rack.  It looks pretty but of course the real test will be the taste.



Saturday, December 1, 2012

Work

"Do the work."
"I have to get this work done."
"This is going to take a lot of work."
"That didn't feel like work at all."

Work is a word that usually brings to mind having to do something that requires my focused attention in order to get it done.  Sometimes it is something I love to do, like dance practice, and sometimes it is something I don't really feel all that up for but which I know is necessary, like doing the dishes. and then there are those things that sort of fall in between, like blogging.

Whether the task is a pleasant one or not I think more specific definition of work might be an action that requires my intention and personal energy which moves me closer to the achievement of a goal.  Dance practice moves me forward in my goal of becoming a better performer and instructor; washing the dishes helps me to achieve the goal of a clean and orderly living space; and blogging helps me to maintain a diversity of creative outlets.  Work can sometimes feel like drudgery but it can also put us into a place of flow where our actions, intention and energy are so in sync that what we are doing no longer feels like work at all. 

Work is also the theme for this month's NaBloPoMo which I am once again going to attempt to complete. This will my fourth attempt (I think...it's possible this is attempt number five).  It is going to take a lot of work to successfully complete the challenge of writing a blog post everyday for a month.  

Let the work begin....