Yoga Not

I should be at yoga.

That is what is on the calendar for today, in a very tightly scheduled three weeks but I kind of just…didn’t go.

Most Sunday mornings I find it refreshing but today the quiet of my little house was what I needed most.

So here I am, melted into the peace.

This week marks a year since my ex-husband stalked me (a protective order really is just a piece of paper) and I feel illogically successful that it passed without a repeat appearance. Or maybe it’s just relief.

Whatever it is, I’ll take it.

I am making a huge job change and this is my last week in my old position. I know I chose well because the morning after deciding I woke up feeling like the weight of the world was off my shoulders.

In spite of that certainty, goodbyes are hard and I am very sad to leave a this great group of nurses. They have been my work family constant in the last five years and are smart, funny and dedicated. We will keep in touch, but still…it will be different.

Today is Palm Sunday which for some reason has always been a favorite of mine. Not sure why because in the liturgy the story of the triumphal procession into Jerusalem spins rapidly into the events leading up to Good Friday. Kind of gloom and doom, actually.

But maybe I like it because I know the end of the story…Easter is coming.

Spring. Hope. Peeps.

My new job will give me more time for writing, painting, music, exercise. More time to spend with my kids (human and furry). Just. More. Time.

What a gift.

For this I am grateful beyond words so I think I will celebrate by taking Gandalf for a long walk, then head over to church.

After that Sarah and I are going to the opera to see Aida. Live opera is on my bucket list and I really don’t know what to expect. Will I be Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman? (I wish I had that dress!) Or just “meh”?

I am glad I took the time to be home this morning. It was just what I needed to re-charge.

Don’t be afraid to opt-out of your schedule of shoulds.

You are worth it.

Enjoy the First Day of Spring from Google and me.

https://www.google.com

 

 

 

Holy Cats! I Won?

We all know someone who seems to win stuff all the time, right? 768x506xSplitShire-0450-768x506.jpg.pagespeed.ic.hAA5KLr8ds

I am not one of those people.

Maybe this has changed now. Maybe not, but in the meantime I am honored to be among these other writers in this contest:

16 Posts That’ll Make You Excited to Be a Writer in 2016

That’s me…the 10th one down!

I have spent the first days of 2016 cleaning out my email inbox (5K plus. Oy.) and reading the other contest winners and I think you would like them, too.

I enjoyed them all differently and learned something from each. Talented people who linked to other talented people. Delicious.

Happy reading! (And here is your chance to learn how to Moonwalk)

How I Found the Perfect Tattoo

I recently read a post where a woman explained that she didn’t have a tattoo because “Why would you put a bumper sticker on a Ferrari?”

While this is clever and noble and high-minded, it is not why I have waffled about getting my own tattoo.

No….my reasons are far more mundane and un-glamorous.

I simply can’t decide what I want and where I want it.

Many years ago this indecision saved me from venturing into the seedier parts of town where “tattoo parlors” existed.

Back in the day, tattoos were a peculiar oddity and aside from the blurry blue shapes on war veterans, were only seen when the circus came to town.

Tattoo parlor.

The phrase conjured up visions of smoky back rooms populated by worldly, avaricious, jaded men and women who sported designs on body parts not generally spoken of in mixed company.

“Nice” people did not have anything to do with tattoos.

And then there was the ink quality and skill issue of tattoo artists back then: a few years ago I started an IV on a WWII vet whose anchor and ribbon had morphed into something that looked like a duck; discerning the original design was like trying to find shapes in clouds.

Thank heaven for indecision or I could now be sporting my own blue smudge.

Fast forward to today: Times (and hopefully ink and technique) have changed.

Tattoos are now known as “body art” or by the friendlier terms “tat” and “ink”,  and artists ply their trade in the bright light of day, are featured in TV series, hold huge conventions and of course have FaceBook pages.

There are gorgeous tats out there, along with spectacular flops. I don’t want to find my tat on the “tattoo fail” page, ya know?

So what’s an art-loving, indecisive girl like me to do?

Enter……Henna.

Henna, or Mehndi, has been around for centuries (http://hennaartconnection.com/history-of-henna) and booths for this body art are now very popular at festivals and faires.

The lines are always long and I think this is because deep down, humans secretly crave art and beauty more than we realize.

Henna designs on their own are gorgeous and now they have been taken one step farther: color and sparkle are added to the paste to delight the eye as the design sets.

It’s a twofer!

With these things in mind, Sarah and I got in line at a local arts fest figuring we would have enough time to decide what to get. She knew exactly.

Me, not so much.

I dithered and considered the same questions that have always haunted me: what and where?

In the end I gave up and told the artist my price range and that she had to decide for me. The only thing I knew for sure was that I wanted purple sparkles in the paste.

Fifteen minutes later, I was the proud owner of this:

henna w sparkles

The paste dried and came off a few hours later and I sadly said goodbye to the glitter. I enjoyed my design for another week or so, knowing I could do it all again. A renewable resource.

Simple and elegant.

Sparkly.

Mine, but not permanently so.

In short, the perfect tat.

If you need me, I will be in line at the henna booth.

 

 

 

 

My Very First Guest Post!

It’s been forever since I posted anything here, but that’s not because I haven’t been busy.

Au contraire…I enrolled in Jon Morrow’s Guest Blogging course and in my spare time have been writing and re-writing…and re-writing some more.

Liz, Cate and Robert are the editors who have encouraged, corrected, suggested, directed and helped me to say what I mean, and today it all came together.

(I jokingly said once that I was working on version 27 and the final tally is probably not far from that. They get a medal for hanging in there with me).

So today I am pleased to introduce you to Peter Clemens and The Change Blog and my first guest post. If you haven’t found Peter’s blog yet, I can help with that. He publishes some great pieces and I am honored to now be among them.

Without further ado, here is your link. Enjoy!

http://www.thechangeblog.com/invisible-woman-stage-performer-dared-live-courageously/

(And if you are interested in becoming a guest blogger, here is the link to Jon Morrow’s course):

http://guestblogging.com/quit-blogging/

And now I am going to make a cup of tea, watch the wind blow the rest of the leaves off the trees, and think about my next post.

Cheers!

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Some people’s kids

StarsI was at work when the tragedy in France unfolded and did not understand why my friend was posting that she was “Charlie” (No…no, I am pretty sure you are Beryl….) until I read the news that night. I found it ironic to remember that while the shootings were going down in Paris, a Muslim woman and I were hugging as we celebrated her last chemotherapy; we had found much common ground in spite of dissimilar upbringings.

The magnitude of this horror sank in as the days wore on and Boston came to mind; neighborhoods on lockdown, police searching and innocent people dead and wounded. All in the name of the prophet of a Higher Power. Dear Lord. What is wrong with these people?

My heart broke after Boston and I did the only thing I could think of……I ran. After Charlie Hebdo I dragged out my Julia Child French Cookbook and I cooked. I made haricots verts and sent an email to the local French consulate, never expecting a reply but wanting to send some good out into a world where there are people who use the name of God as an excuse for their mean and rotten and hateful behavior:

Dear Madame,

Please know your country is in my thoughts and prayers. In honor of those involved I will make the small gesture of cooking something French today. Kind of silly but a way of holding the French in my heart. 

Vive La France!

 

Imagine my surprise when I received this several days later:

 

Thank you for you prayers and  wishes!
What you write is so moving and not silly at all.
Merci!
Marie-Helene Glon

 

Hate and murder and death make the news all the time; drama and heartbreak sell. While the bullets and bombs are real enough and we need to have situational awareness, it does not mean that when events shove us through the door of the house of fear and hate we have to unpack and live there.

Unplug the media when the re-hashing begins and come back to your reality. Take Mr. Rogers’ advice and look for the helpers. Run. Breathe. Paint. Cook. Write. Do something nice, no matter how small, for someone. None of this will make the news but sending beauty and good into the world is never wasted effort and warms your soul like a cozy fireplace.

We all know there is plenty of badness out there; so be safe, be strong, be a force for good.

And enjoy these haricots verts, with my warmest regards.

Julia Child Green Beans

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The Old Year (2014 edition)

2015 has dawned bright, clear and cold (a balmy minus 9 degrees). Snow covers the ground and yaktrax are in order when I take Gandalf out for walks, which are quite short in these temperatures. Pippin declines to go at all when it is below zero.

My long holiday season started in August, at the three year mark of being out on my own, and a lightness of being I hadn’t known in I-don’t-know-how-long settled around me. The fog of the last several years has lifted and I feel….I don’t even know how to describe this…..safe and content and alive and…..at home.   And unspeakably grateful.

For the holidays this year my kids and I planned a vacation as Christmas; giving each other experiences instead of things to dust, and December found us traveling on the east coast. We raised our traditional toast of “Well, here we are!” at Becco’s in Manhattan and logged almost thirty seven FitBit miles in NYC and DC. Afterwards, making photo albums with Apple and Shutterfly for Michael and Rebecca was such a hoot that I am making one for myself. The best part was watching Rebecca open hers….it looked like a store-bought book and *surprise* there she was inside! coming home                                      And my boys were glad when I came home.

IMG_2081Solstice found me at a house concert by “Les Harpistes D’un Certain Age” for good music and food and friends, then home to Gandalf and Pippin and my fireplace; an evening too wonderful for words.

Christmas Eve followed soon after and Gandalf and I spent it at Rebecca’s with Twinkle in her traditional spot….under the bed. Santa delivered treats to her stocking and Christmas was saved again. We headed to Sarah, Jared and Michael’s house for Christmas night where I gave my electric train set to Michael. In between building an “epic” track system (which incorporated a Star Wars base) we looked at his photo book and talked about our trip; he is becoming a good traveler. Rebecca is a kitten harlot and their new kitties Smudge and Spooky were the beneficiaries of her devotion as well as a source of almost constant entertainment for all of us. Sarah reports they were practically comatose for twelve hours after we left.

Solstice intentions were not forgotten and the time seems right to set a major writing one that has been bumping around in my head the last two years.

2013: I intend to publish my book this year.

2014: I intend to get this new book version down on paper. I only got parts of it down on paper but I did find an illustrator!

2015: Press on with writing. My book, and……blogging, with the intent of reducing my hours at work to build my writing career. I think this is the year to do it. There. I said it out loud. *Takes deep breath*  Whew.

 

2013: I intend to continue doing anonymous good turns; “pay it forward”.

2014: Keep it up. I must confess, this is a guilty pleasure. The most fun I had was having my snow removal guy plow 18″ of snow out of my neighbor’s driveway while they were out of town. They arrived home in the middle of a bitter cold night and didn’t have to shovel to get into their garage. (Cue the warm, fuzzy feeling. Delicious).

2015: Keep it up. 

 

2013: I intend to practice my music at least 3 days a week.

2014: Play music as often and long as possible. I started violin/fiddle eleven months ago and have loved it; maybe in another year everyone else will too. I play bodhran and sing with my group and we put on some fun performances last year; our circle of musician friends is getting wider and we even made enough money to pay for gas to gigs. That is progress!

2015: Can’t wait to see what music this year brings! 

My new little intention for 2015: Become more physically fit. I have been working out more consistently for a few months and the other day I actually caught a glimpse of my left deltoid when the light was just right. Woot Woot!

I have been writing this post on and off all day and it’s now dark. Gandalf and Pippin are sleeping at my feet and the first day of 2015 is in the books; time for me to hit the sack, too. To quote my friend Beryl: “So far, so good.”

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‘Night!

A Closed Mouth Gathers No Foot

I have spent a pretty big chunk of my life perfecting the art of being hard on myself. I swear, if self-criticizing was an Olympic sport I would always be on the podium (and it better be the gold!). While being very understanding of others (and excusing inexcusable behavior in some) I have a history of lingering way too long in bashing me over my own shortcomings. The last few years have brought an astounding revelation: there are people who recognize that tendency in me and use it to my disadvantage. This is an odd thing to know but since it keeps coming back, it is something that is apparently essential for me to recognize, and I think I “got it” this time.

We all have deep dark secrets and here is mine……I say unkind things when I am pushed, (and then I get called on it by the people who pushed me). I do pretty good with “is it true? Is it necessary?” Yes and yes. But when stretched to breaking I flounder, sometimes fairly spectacularly, on “is it kind?”. I stay over-long in situations that are no longer tenable and this pushes my buttons.

So….what is the Universe offering me here?

1. Recognize the feeling that a situation is not healthy and get out, emotionally until I can get out physically. I have a huge sense of obligation to protect others and throw myself into the breach, which often results in nothing really changing and I flame out to boot. It’s OK to say “No, that doesn’t work for me” instead of being the team player and screwing myself over. It’s OK for me to be my first priority and I can’t help those who think otherwise.

2. Keep my mouth closed when I am beyond frustrated by the metaphorical “being put in a round room and told to spit in the corner”. Just walk away. Writing this now the feeling of being trapped comes back; walk away. Stay away. Breathe. Keep myself safe. This is not selfish, it is sane; the oxygen mask.

3. Work on delivery. Another of my favorite sayings (I collect sayings like a groupie collects rock bands) is this: “Diplomacy is the art of telling someone to go to hell in such a way that they look forward to the trip.” Word craft; a finely turned sentence puts me in mind of eating a perfectly ripe peach.

So I am walking away. I will make amends as appropriate (thank you, Al-Anon) and move on. I did my best and there’s always room for improvement and that’s the way it is. I am home with my “work family” now, in safe harbor and I am the luckiest person in the world.

loveoflifequotes.com

 

 

 

 

Dreaming of Paris

I needed something short to post in order to test drive adjustments I made to the blog and I didn’t want it to be a boring “test post”.
Pippin obliged me by doing…..this. I have no idea what was going through his little cat brain. When my friend posted photos of Cathedral gargoyles I knew he was channeling Paris.                                              
IMG_145410455766_10203868892864745_4077675293515555970_n

10479470_10203868875824319_3440590254068323919_n

IMG_1453Mon petit chat! 

 

Gargoyle photos courtesy of Brent Marrott

 

Mom-guilt happens

Someone once said “You do the best you can raising your kids but you never really know how they’re going to turn out until they’re about twenty-seven and by then it’s too late anyway”. I was a young woman when I heard this and thought it was funny; I tried to ignore the feeling lurking in the background that it was probably quite true, and sallied forth to create a family. Ah, youthful optimism…..

Thirty eight years later I could be the model for that saying. Three of my offspring are people I like to hang out with, and do whenever I can. The fourth is…….well……let’s just say she’s twenty-seven and let it go at that.

Any way, two furry kids now share my house and I have discovered the mom-guilt response is still very much intact. I fret over spending enough time with Gandalf and Pippin (indeed, I just am returning from a break to scratch both sets of ears), making sure they have walkers for days when I am at work and of course vet visits.

We were pretty much a once-a-year vet visit family; shots and a physical and we were back on the street. Neither Pippin or Gandalf were that excited about these yearly trips but they were only mildly stressful. Then Gandalf developed terrible breath (he could wake me up in the morning by standing by my bed and breathing on me) and I vacillated about taking him in for a teeth cleaning. He was eating, drinking, peeing, pooping, playing so maybe it was nothing? Did I want to make him anxious by leaving him at the vet? What about the anesthesia risk in an older dog? The voices in my head debated endlessly and I could not make a decision. When a friend of mine mentioned that her very spunky elder dog (a cute little bugger named Jack who has a fang) was going to have his teeth cleaned and she told me she had also wrestled with the decision to have it done; I realized that I, too, needed to just do it. Jack came through with flying colors, minus a few teeth (but still has his signature fang) and greatly improved breath. He even got a post on FaceBook out of the deal. OK. Must do this.

The appointed day arrived and we saddled up and went to the vet. I then went on a hike with Sarah, two of her friends and everyone’s dogs. You can see where the guilt is starting to set in, right? I tried not to think of Gandalf and the cornucopia of smells he was missing. The dogs wove back and forth braiding their leashes together and I felt fairly naked without one at the end of my arm; as there were more dogs than humans, I compensated by rotating being in charge of different dogs. Next time I will have to bring Gandalf. 

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I returned home to an empty house. Pippin was out mousing somewhere and there was no smiling Norwegian Elkhound face to greet me. Oh, Gandalf…..One of the greatest pleasures of my life is being welcomed home; this is how my house would be without a dog. I sucked it up and looked at my watch….the vet should be calling in another hour or so.

I kept busy and the enormity of my life as a dog-mom sank in again. Gandalf has been my constant companion for the last three years and I must confess, the fact that he loves me unconditionally is an experience for which I am eternally grateful. “Help me to be the person my dog thinks I am”. At long last the phone rang and I zipped off to bring him home.

He wandered around the house and yard the rest of the evening and only had one minor yakking episode. The vet report said he was an excellent patient (of course!) and had three severely infected teeth, which were removed. Oh, jeez, I should have done this sooner….not just infected….severely infected. Strong work, Claire.

post op

The next morning I heard panting next to my bed; Gandalf ready to go out….and…..no awful smell. My happiness at seeing him perky again was quickly followed by renewed angst about having been such a ninny and waiting as long as I did. Gawd, it must have been awful for him having those teeth in there….OK. Stop it. You are being a drama queen.

Twice-a-day antibiotics wrapped in peanut butter became a new treat and Gandalf still looked at me with adoring eyes, confident I would do the right thing for him. He had faith in me; time to put on my big girl panties and live up to it.

Fast-forward a couple of weeks.

It’s been bloody hot the last few days and I decided Gandalf would be more comfortable without as much fur. A trip to the self dog wash/blow dry emporium followed by clippering……

clippering

then furminating (Pippin supervised the procedure)

 

….and I have a happy dog!

Good dog-mom! Sit. Stay.

Gandalf the Great

Yes, Gandalf, I’ll stay right here.

 

Re-balancing

 

Have to be tough to live here

I started this post in our typical un-spring-like spring; an entire season ago. Too much time has gone by and so here it is, a little disjointed, but that is kind of the way things have been lately.

Walls of water snuggled the tomatoes and squash through the snow and cold of early summer. I have this great little banana belt micro-climate up against the house that keeps the veggies protected from the frosts that we have well into June. IMG_1376Rain chains now help rainwater to the ground and I am sure they will be equally beautiful with snow and ice this winter.

Easter found me in church and during prayers of the people I heard myself forgiving my former spouse. This was followed immediately by the thought “and stay the hell away” so maybe it doesn’t really count. Ah, well.

Work has invaded every aspect of my life. Being flexible, learning on the fly and thinking two steps ahead are my forte and I feel like I have been living at the bottom of a Niagara Falls-like deluge of new information for the last two months. As if this wasn’t enough, the long-promised new institution-wide computer program finally went live and I began to feel like resistance was futile. I know this for sure: I want to be retired before another electronic medical record change like this comes about.

Nothing says "spring" like new running shoesGandalf and I put some miles on my new running shoes to let the over-worked problem-solving part of my brain take time off. Running reels (reals) me back in….the focus is on the moment; breathing, feeling my muscles power me forward, finding the cadence and zoning out. There is only the dog and me. And the bugs; nothing like inhaling a small insect to break your stride.

The answer of how to restore equilibrium to my life came one morning upon awakening and when I got to the clinic I asked my former manager if I could work for her again. We chatted, struck a deal and I gave my notice (two month’s worth) as there was much training to be done before I left. Tomorrow is my last day and although I will miss the good people I came to know and have I learned more than I thought possible (molecular biology at my age!), I am relieved to be going. And I am only going down the hall, it’s not like I am moving to Canada, eh?

The last time I was in my old/new department I was married; so much water under that bridge I had to burn it down. Gandalf and Pippin are great house partners and I spend a fair amount of time supporting Rebecca. William, Sarah and their families make me realize what a lucky momcat I am and I like flying solo. My last date was in 1976 and I almost got asked out about a month ago but when I said I was busy and happy and had a restraining order and a Glock he moved on. Hmmm….apparently I’ve lost my touch. Bummer.

So here I am on the eve of change again; three years ago Independence Day was marked by the realization that if I was to stay alive I had to free myself from the way things were in my marriage. This year it is merely moving to a different job and gifting myself with a week off to get my sea legs back. I tend to stay too long in situations that are no longer working; maybe with practice I will get better at maintaining balance.

Growing isn’t just for gardens.

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