Intentions of a Late Winter Solstice 2017

Sometimes work gets in the way

Winter Solstice has come and gone, not un-noticed and not without the setting of intentions, but all un-written until now.

And as we all know, thoughts don’t become real until we get them out of our head and onto paper.

Writing

My book is written and I have the illustrations half finished. I have applied for copyrights and learned about self-publishing, PhotoShop and found a printer. I am getting there…and I had no idea it would take this long. Ignorance is bliss!

Music

Yes, I have been practicing violin, much to Pippin’s dismay. I took the summer off and found I actually missed it, then had a crisis of faith about continuing. I have been at it for three years and I either need to buckle down and put in some serious practice time or call it quits. Sarah said “But does it make you happy to play?” And the answer was yes, yes it does. Pippin and I have compromised and he leaves the room while I play on.

On another note (haha) my group made a CD! Now THAT was fascinating and fun and I never thought ever I would have this experience and now I can take my music with me. Maybe this year we will make a Christmas CD…collect the whole set!

Paying it Forward

For the first time in a long, long while I have felt less crabby and on edge. It might be due to time and distance but I suspect it is caused by being thankful every day. Not the desperate relief of escaping with my life, but welcoming a grace of being loved that’s so deep it’s almost on a cellular level. The more good things I do in the world, the more my life is blessed. So of course I will continue and besides, it’s a hoot.

Getting Stronger

As a mater of fact, yes. I can presently deadlift 103 pounds, do 35 pound kettlebell swings, perform sit-ups and burpees. My favorite, though, is the assault bike because it has a fan. Always save that for last so you can cool down. (Pro tip for the day). Maybe this year I can manage a toe push-up and keep the sweat out of my eyes. It stings. A lot.

I can also lift chunky cats.

lifting chunky kitty overhead

And because this person always inspires me (and her recent post was the impetus to get me writing today), check her blog out. You won’t be sorry. https://wordswithlisbeth.com

Now go out there and be the good in the world. You are needed.

Half a World Away is Right Down the Road

Out of the comfort zone

The clinic I worked at yesterday is twenty miles and half a world away from my home.

Thirty years ago there was a Catholic hospital downtown, and when I worked there we saw most of the recent immigrants to the city. I expected this shift would feel like my old job except that the demographics have changed. Spanish has been joined by Asian, Middle Eastern and Eastern European dialects. Some of the languages spoken are so rare we don’t have professional translators.

I drove past a Middle Eastern market and turned into our parking lot where a food truck was doing a brisk business dispensing early morning caffeine. Rats, I didn’t bring my coffee cup. Oh well, next time for sure.

And into the world

One of the few white girls in a sea of brown faces, my silver-ish hair was in stark contrast to black tresses and head scarves of all colors, prints and styles. The women and children outnumbered the men two-to-one and I tried not to stare. It was exotic. A world bazaar in our white-bread state.

Interpreters were everywhere and we also used online interpretation via iPad. I thought we looked like a Star Trek episode but without the snazzy uniforms.


Captain Picard and iPad-like device-a world away
I saw some of the interpreters I hadn’t seen in a long while (that was fun.)

I heard someone get chewed out in Nepali (now that doesn’t happen every day.)

And mostly I remembered all over again how lucky I am.

What happened to these people? Why did they leave their homes and come to a country so unlike theirs in climate, food, culture and language?

I hope they are doing as well as can be expected. I hope they are safe and their kids can be kids. I hope yesterday I made it a little more OK for them.

But most of all, I hope that this place can be their home, too.

 

 

 

 

 

Meet The Girls

I have been MIA I know, but for good reason: I want you to meet my new friends.

Actually, they are old friends but now I know what they look like, and it’s all because of setting Intentions.

I skipped writing about intentions last year as I was apparently on the two-year plan with getting things done. Two-point-two-five year plan I guess, as it is now April. Time flies.

So hang with me here as I explain.

On the Anonymous Good Turn front, it’s still a lot of fun. Some deeds are not so anonymous but if those people pay them forward the world will just get better and heaven knows we need more people being a force for good.

Practicing Music at least 3 days a week: I manage it more often than not. Violin is continually surprising and I frequently feel like giving up but I can’t imagine living without it. It’s like the violin is…I don’t know…waiting for me to keep practicing until I unlock the secrets.

It is a patient instrument.

I had an “A-ha” moment last lesson where I finally felt my bow wrist move the way it is supposed to and my teacher saw it too and it was SO COOL!

I’m glad my teacher is patient, too.

Becoming more physically fit. This one has been and continues to be amazing. Between CrossFit Spark (CrossFit-ish), my local rec center and Eat To Perform, I have lost inches, pounds, body fat and gained muscle. Last month TWO people commented on how good I look and last night another person referred to my arms as “guns”!

Be still my heart.

Eat To Perform helped me sort out how many grams of protein, carbs and fats to eat and fits nicely with my paleo-ish omnivore self (but people who are vegan, vegetarian, whatever-arian follow ETP). Coming from chronic under-eating this has been a life-changer.

If, like me, you have tried almost every weight-loss plan out there and are frustrated, check out ETP. I am almost two years into it and am in my best shape since high school. The kids and I are a CrossFit/Eat To Perform family as Rebecca has signed on also, and likes the structure it provides. We meal prep her food for the week and enter it into her computer, then all she has to do is eat daily and do the dishes. Nifty.

I would like to say it made me run faster, but alas, no.

However, now I run the same distance then bust out some burpees, crush the assault bike (it is my favorite because it has a fan so you get air conditioning) and have enough energy left to kick butt and take names.

I LOVE being strong.

And now…drum roll…writing.

I FINISHED MY BOOK!

AND MY ILLUSTRATOR SAID I WAS GOOD ENOUGH TO DO MY OWN ILLUSTRATIONS!

YES, I AM YELLING!

And I will calm down now because it is annoying, but seriously, I am so stoked I can hardly stand it.

My illustrator said she would be my consultant and so we have this great email system where I draw, she critiques and I draw some more. I am in heaven and I want to call in sick to work every day and make art.

My mortgage company is not agreeable though so I fit it in where I can.

And now, without further ado, meet the girls: Sally, Nell, and their coop-mates playing bug keep-away.

sketch of running chickens

I have learned a lot and will learn much more thanks to mentors who have appeared when I needed them. My 2017 intention is to self-publish this year. For reals.

Stay tuned!

 

 

After The Election You Still Have A Choice

Thank God this debacle is over.

The gutter brawl between the parties threatened to spill into my front room and had become so, so tiresome.

Now we know and I am not wasting any more energy on this election. There are people to be taken care of, runs to be run, tests to be taken, dogs to be petted and choices to be made.

We have the choice to be better or bitter. There is no staying the same.

We can choose to live with courage and heart here and now.

We can choose to be a source of calm and strength and honor in whatever happens next. For every person you see gloating or wringing their hands or just being a twit about this state of affairs, do something kind.

Choose to be goodness in the world.

The people in Washington won’t notice, but our families and friends and neighbors will. That’s what makes these choices so much more important than the ones we made on November 8.

 

Clouds and sun

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And I Think to Myself…What the…???

OK I just find this interesting. Some say I am easily entertained.

It is true.

 

sea saltSea salt is not a natural source of iodine.

 

However, the shellfish that live in the sea contain significant levels of the element.

shellfish market

And this:

You can get Vitamin D from sunlight.

farmer enjoying sunshine

 

Mushrooms, which grow in places without much sunlight, are a great source of Vitamin D.  small_mushrooms_200614

 

Isn’t that curious?

Now you can wow people at dinner parties.

You’re welcome. 😉

The Best Gift

Lately I seem to be surrounded by a fair number of people who have found happy romantic relationships the second, third, even fourth time around. Everywhere I look people are showing wedding photos, talking about just-the-two-of-us vacations and date nights, while I hang out with the two furry loves of my life, Gandalf and Pippin.

My phone is filled with photos of Pippin doing cat yoga and the three of us going for walks.

advanced cat yoga

 

Gandalf, Pippin and me on a walk

cat yoga

 

 

 

 

 

 

Not that I am bored or unhappy or want to start dating again, mind you. I didn’t like dating the first time around and am even less enthusiastic about it now. I have been almost asked out twice in the last couple of years and I basically hyperventilated and fled on each occasion.

Let’s just say I have trust issues.

So maybe it was also because Spring was in the air that I found myself in a Princess Bride state of mind, wondering: Is there really Twoo Wuv? Is there truly someone for everyone? And if so, how many frogs does one have to kiss, for Pete’s sake??

Whatever the reason, I was feeling a teensy bit sorry for myself and my moodiness increased as the day wore on. Night came and as nothing looks good when I’m tired we turned in: Pippin to his apartment on the patio, Gandalf to the cool tile floor and me to bed.

Ten hours later, it seems that all I needed was a good sleep. The cloud of pity from the day before had dissipated as I slept and I made plans for the day over coffee. Gandalf and I headed out for our morning walk and stepping through the front door I nearly threw a hip out attempting to avoid the tiny inert body on my door mat.

Dead mouse, courtesy of Pippin.

I stuck the landing (scored a 9.5), collected my chapstick and keys which had gone flying and stood there in the sun, overcome with wonder. Not at the mouse, but by what it represented.

Love.

Not just from Pippin, who was weaving around my legs and meowing with pride, or from Gandalf, waiting patiently.

But from...everywhere and everything.

I was not only loved, I was beloved, and I belonged in this house, this time, this life.

I was home, I was good, I was…keeping Gandalf and Pippin waiting.

Am I overly sentimental?

Possibly.

Am I one of the luckiest people in the world?

Absofreakinglutely.

 

Gandalf and Pippin snoozing together

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.”

IMG_2083

‘Night!