Wednesday, December 30, 2009

10-Minute Solution

I think it is appropriate that I am finally getting around to posting, and it's 10:10. Why is that significant you ask? Because I have decided that I will adopt a new way of self-care, ten minutes at a time. You know, sort of like the 10-Minute Solution that is in every magazine in the world in the month of January.

There are three things that I would like to regularly incorporate into my life: disciplined writing, regular exercise, and time for meditation.

You may remember a few weeks ago, I posted about writing in ten-minute intervals. Yesterday, I thought, Why not adopt the ten-minute interval for everything you want to do?

I've read and heard that exercise done three times a day for ten minutes is as good as one thirty minute session. And I know I can meditate for ten minutes without getting squirmy (I've actually done as many as forty minutes), so that should be manageable too.

Who can't spare ten minutes three or four times a day? I spend that much time checking Facebook, reading blogs and horoscopes, playing solitaire, daydreaming on and off all day. I figure too that once I start writing/walking/meditating for ten minutes, it'll be so enjoyable that I'll want to do it a little longer.

I'll keep you posted, but my plan is to start on New Years Day. And since I made that other change in my life four years ago, I won't be hungover. Nice feeling. Really.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

I miss you...

I really miss you. I promise a post tomorrow. Isn't Christmas crazy? And aren't you excited about the blue moon? Next one: 2028. I think we better party!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Writers Around the Table

Last night a friend and I hosted a Winter Solstice Reading Night. My friend made all the desserts and I got the tables ready. My part was the easiest as she made coconut cake, tropical fruitcake, sweet potato cake, chocolate cake, and two different kinds of cookies (did I remember everything?).

The table was set and the fire was laid. All that was missing was the friends. There's something very exciting about a waiting room, the anticipation of the evening a palpable presence.

Everyone arrived within a few minutes of each other, and bringing our happiness at being together, our excitement about reading our work to each other, and the inevitable sugar buzz from all those goodies, we sat down at the table.

After reading our wonderful words, we discussed publishing and news media and the future of both. We shared our favorite books of the year, a very diverse list ranging from the Anne of Green Gables to the Twilight series to Dickens.

For me, it was the beginning of the celebration of the holidays, a time to sit and listen and be simply present. We decided to meet again soon. It was definitely about sharing as writers, but I also think it had a lot to do with the desserts!

Friday, December 18, 2009

J A Konrath Gets Me

Last night I worked in the darkroom on the two photographs above. It was the best night of class because I actually was able to bring out things in the photographs that were too bright, print one photo correctly right from the start, and ask very few questions in the process. Hooked!

On another note, I follow a blog by writer J A Konrath. And ninety-nine percent of what he says gets me here {pointing to her gut} because he is so right on about what holds us new writers back from ever going anywhere.

So if you're like me, but want to change all that, go here and read his 2010 resolutions for writers. Copy it and tape it wherever you keep your writing utensils. Refer to it often. It's the truth, and it hurts, but it is inspiring too.

I'm trying to work myself out of a major funk (did you notice I've spared you the posts for a few days). Tonight I'm sitting by the fire, computer in my lap, kitties on the rug, pretending that I don't have a million things to do - most of which are pleasurable but the list is long - and taking it easy. I should probably take the advice that has been fairly consistent from my DailyOm horoscope and meditate on that spot where J A Konrath gets to me, or my heart center at least.

It's Friday, it's snowing, my family is all heading my way. I'm going to effect an attitude adjustment tonight. Catch you on the other side.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Up and Down

This is what my brain looks like lately. Christmas, work, everything up and down and all around in my poor little head.

Down: Business is a drain; time is at a premium; I'm easily irritated by things and am taking twice as long to get over them. I don't know what to get my kids for Christmas and I just read an article about how lazy it is to give them money. There are a couple of people I'd like to tell to get lost. It's cold. And foggy and rainy too. I can't stop gritting my teeth.

Up: I've had all my yearly check-ups and except for cholesterol (bad is bad) and low Vitamin D, I'm in good shape. My doctor is working with me so that I don't have to take prescription drugs. She's been listening! I have some beautiful photographs to put in cards for Christmas presents. My friend's memorial service was an amazing tribute and very moving. I have my classes, a couple of gatherings with friends at my house, time with family, and some fun lunches to look forward to.

All around: As long as I end each day with a sense of accomplishment, understand that it will all get done, and keep uppermost in my head that friends and family are the most important, I'll be okay.

Now for a more thoughtful post from a friend of mine.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Being with Friends

Tomorrow I'm taking an overnight trip to Oriental to be with friends. Normally, I would spend the whole weekend there, but because of obligations on Saturday I have to come back.

I used to spend every Thursday night with these women. When we first started getting together, we committed to a year of once-a-week meetings and used Cheryl Richardson's book, Life Makeovers, for our discussions. I fixed dinner and we sat around my dining room table or on my deck. I took Wednesdays off to shop and fix the food, and a lot of love went into the preparations.

After the first year, we did another self-help book, Get Out of Your Own Way, and dug a little deeper into our lives, learned a lot about each other even though we'd been friends for many years. After that book, we tried several others, but a few of the women weren't really interested in continuing in the self-help/exploring vein. They wanted a place to come, relax, have dinner, and be with friends.

About the time that this was happening, I quit drinking. Then a year later, I quit smoking. And I realized something: as much as I loved fixing dinner and being with my friends, I loved learning about things too. And I also realized that a good deal of my motivation for setting up the gatherings was so that I could drink.

Fairly abruptly, I quit hosting the weekly gatherings. I don't know how my friends feel about my doing it--no one has said--and we started getting together once a month at different houses. It's a relaxed atmosphere, no agenda, snacks or light dinners prepared by the hostess.

It worked out for all of us, I guess, and I've involved myself in photography classes and writing class and am keeping an eye out for people who might want to form a book discussion group. For now I'm content to be at home on most Thursday nights when my husband plays music, and enjoy the solitude and quiet, and once a month relax with my friends.

It's going to be different this year at the Oriental Spirit of Christmas gathering because one of the regulars won't be there. We're going to miss you, Peetro.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Looking for the Perfect Gift?

Hey, book lovers, listen up! Fresh from the Big Crafty in Asheville, North Carolina, The AyBeeCees has been posting new handmade books today. You won't find a better gift for the journaler, organizer, artist, and collector among your family and friends. Visit daily for the next few days if you don't see exactly what you want today, and they also special order.

I'm drooling....

Sunday, December 6, 2009


I caught the tail end of a story on the news tonight about a young boy who loved football. As a baby, he had a type of cancer that caused him to lose an eye, and now he was going to lose the other one. He wanted to see a football game, and the team embraced him, took him on the field, played ball with him. One of the players came to the hospital the day of his surgery. At that point, the boy finally broke down and cried. "I realized that that was the last time I was going to see anything," he said.

Puts a couple of bad days in perspective.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

What Makes Me Feel Better

Around my computer at work, there are things that are supposed to cheer me up when I'm feeling blue, sayings that I use in cards, notes from family. Even when I'm having a bad day I can look at those notes and feel better.

The first thing I see is my screen. It's a picture I took of my new cat watching "cat TV" but beyond that it is a nice photograph with a reflective feel to it.

There are two notes from family members. One is from my sister, a heart-shaped note that she attached to a fake check for a million dollars. It says, "Love you, miss you, see you soon! Bip." This note reminds me that I am loved by my dad and siblings. The second note was stuck to my desk by my daughter when she worked with me last year. It says, "Love you ever so much, ma." I think of my children when I read this, glad they that are employed, have comfortable places to live, and that they love me, their dad, and each other.

Then there are the quotes I use for cards. For birthdays, the following poem:

Beautiful young people are accidents of nature.
Beautiful old people are works of art.

For sympathy cards, this quote by Kahlil Gibran is one of my favorites:

I have passed a mountain peak and my soul is soaring in the firmament of complete and unbound freedom. I am in comfort. I am in peace.

There are a few spiritual quotes:

God has left us love notes scattered extravagantly across creation.

I entrust the good desires of my heart to God's loving care, and I know that with God all things are possible.

Positive and negative impulses exist within us all. Those of us who shine brightest are not those who have no darker side, but those who are fully aware of their negativity, who keep their darkness in check by increasing their light.

There are a few frivolous things too. A fortune from a Chinese fortune cookie reads, "You are appreciated by your company." The lyrics from a Madonna song, "And the money kept rolling in from every side." Two arrows from tax returns that say, "Sign here."

But the simplest quote is the one that touches me most, and with this one I'll end my circular route around my computer screen.


Thursday, December 3, 2009

Pushing on

Today I got a phone bill at the office that was twice our normal bill. It seems that last month, when I called to make sure we were on the most cost-efficient plan, the person who "helped" me decided to add internet service to our account. My theory is that she gets some kind of bonus for selling things, and doesn't care one iota that I had to spend a good hour getting it taken off. And to complain about it? I just don't have the time.

I'm beginning to walk around with blinders on to what's happening around me. Thirty thousand more of our young men and women to Afghanistan. Banks taking my money and paying it out to their executives. Credit card companies increasing their fees before deadlines that have now been extended. The right wingers' contention that global warming isn't real. Unemployment, homelessness, agencies without funds. I'm sick of looking. I can't begin to think of how to overcome my complete inability to feel in control of my world.

Today was, to tell you the truth, another bitch of a day. And like last night, I had something planned after work. I thought several times of skipping it; it was an ornament-making class at Gallery Shibui and I just felt too tired to go. I didn't know where the studio was and it was dark, so I told myself that I wasn't going to mess around trying to find it. I like to throw obstacles in my way like that. In spite of myself, I found the studio.

What a wonderful class. Alice Southwick is a creative, talented teacher, and there were only two other people in the class so we got extra attention. At the end of the class, I was tired, but very happy that I went. Here is what we made:

I'm hopeful that tomorrow is going to be a better day. Fingers, toes and eyes crossed.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Gotta B**ch

I hate to end the posting drought with a gripe-fest, but I must. Today was horrible. Here's why:

1. It was supposed to be my day off. I had to work.

2. It has rained all day. Cold rain during the morning, steamy rain tonight. I've had to go in and out many times, and had to walk a few blocks in it to meet some people for lunch.

3. Today is my mother-in-law's birthday. When I went to the store to buy her some tiramisu, the bakery lady smashed the top of one piece putting them in the container. When I asked her to get me another one, she didn't even attempt to hide her irritation. So I gave her a good taste of my irritation, letting her know that if it was too much trouble I'd be glad to forgo my purchase.

4. When I went to my mother-in-law's to visit, an old acquaintance of hers called and wanted to catch up on both her news and our news--about twenty minutes worth--and the entire time we're talking my MIL is waving and shaking her head and mouthing, "I don't want to talk to her." Duh. Neither did I.

5. One cat threw up on my dining room rug and the other peed in the entrance hall.

6. Three words: banks, clients, and churches. Don't get me started.

7. I'm feeling decidedly un-prosperous right now. And this just isn't like me.

I came home from work tonight thinking I might skip my darkroom photography class. I went anyway. And although I spent all night on one photograph, I feel very happy with it. And so, to end this decidedly crappy day, here is my first ever posted black and white photograph.

I thank you all for listening.