Ah, Silence

My Newest Insight

I’m constantly surrounded by sound. Some is pleasant, such as music. Some is annoying, such as noise.

Because I have my original builder-grade windows, I’m often treated to the sound of late -night street racing. However, some sound is entertaining, like Netflix or Comedy Central, but some is downright frightening…like watching the news.

My point is… sound, regardless of its origin, permeates my world 24-7. So much so, that I take it for granted. I don’t even notice it. It’s just there.

The first thing I do in the morning is turn on the TV. After all, I have to hear the bad news. I have to be prepared for ultimate disaster and possible annihilation…don’t I?

At night I go to sleep to the sound of my cat crying at my bedroom door. His goal is to sleep with me, whereas my goal is to sleep, period. I’m a light sleeper, and the slightest noise will awaken me. Not to mention cats have claws, and I have thin skin…as I see it, a recipe for sleep deprivation.

On the other hand, I try to be considerate to my felines. This morning I left the TV on for my cat when I went for my walk. As kind -hearted as that may seem, I seriously doubt he was interested in “Face The Nation”. But sound, I reasoned, was like company. Doesn’t everyone like company?

My Definition of Peace

I had my lightbulb moment later in the day as I washed the dishes. Everything else in the house was turned off, without any sound but the running water. This felt like heaven! This must be what people mean when they talk about peace. 

I’ve always known this. As a cafeteria monitor for a room full of elementary school students, the noise, at times, seemed over 80 decibels. I tried to compensate by looking  at them and imagining I couldn’t hear them. They were behaving, I noticed, simply eating and talking. But when the noise became too overwhelming, I put them on silent lunch for ten minutes. If this sounds too Machiavellian, I knew there were probably students who cherished the silence as much as I.

Bottom line, I want to create more time for silence. I invite you to listen to “The Sounds of Silence” by Simon and Garfunkel. They were brilliant.

At their tender ages, they “got it”. 

Finally, now, I too, “get it”. 

Harry Chapin

I Remember Harry

Last night I watched a documentary about the entertainer, Harry Chapin, a singer-songwriter, who you may associate with the songs “Cat’s in the Cradle” and “Taxi”. Both were thought provoking in their messages, and well worth listening to if you haven’t heard them. 

Basically, he sang about life. Both songs are about relationships, both poignant, but instructive at the same time. He was both talented and a deep thinker.

His Personality

He also had a deep sense of mission, and when combined with an obsessive drive and firecracker energy, he was able to make things happen. One of his strengths was his gift of gab. If he couldn’t win you over to his side, or convince you of the need for change, he could at least wear you down.

His Mission

His choice of causes was world hunger, and he worked tirelessly to make a difference. Although he died young, at the age of 38, his contributions left a lasting legacy to the cause of world hunger that continues today.

There’s much to admire about Harry Chapin. However, what left the most lasting impression on me was his philosophy of life. He felt strongly that problems could be solved by action. I have the feeling that the type of action didn’t matter. It was like ”just do something.” 

I believe this is the answer to most of our problems. The beauty of “The Road Not Taken” by Robert Frost is his realization that you have to take one road or the other. Remaining frozen in place won’t solve anything. 

I think this describes Harry Chapin’s philosophy of life , and the world is better for it.

To listen to Cat’s In The Cradlehttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KUwjNBjqR-c

Why Do I Even Carry a Purse?

Deja Vu

It’s happened again. I remember writing about my purse in a previous blog. I called it “the mix-master” because it might as well be a Kitchen- Aid appliance.

Dropping personal items into my purse is like watching them fall into the abyss. It takes a certain amount of faith. What mysterious morphing takes place on their way to the bottom? 

Case in point: this morning I dropped a small folder containing my daily to-do list into my purse. I was planning a trip to Walgreens, and wanted it to consist of one trip …not one trip followed by another trip to get the things I forgot to get on the first trip…hence, the to-do list.

When I pulled my wallet out of my purse at the check out counter, it had attached itself to the silver latch on my to-do list folder. It was totally entangled. I tried, several times, unsuccessfully, to untangle it.  By untangle, I mean separate two totally merged items that were now one… like Siamese twins. 

At this point, the cashier offered her assistance, which I gratefully declined. She didn’t know the diabolical nature of my purse, or the extent of its ability to morph its contents into an almost unrecognizable form.

As much as I appreciated her offer, what I really needed was an engineer, not a cashier.

I couldn’t fathom, as I tried to figure out how to untangle this mess, how in reality it could have happened in the first place. It was like there was a tiny little David Copperfield inside my purse, doing its magic. 

If At First You Don’t Succeed…

I tried untangling the fusion with my own slight of hand…I got nothing.

I tried cutting the wire with scissors…nada.

I finally found success with wire cutters.

Maybe I should start carrying wire cutters in my purse.

Or maybe I should stop carrying a purse.

It works for guys…

A Challenge from Mary Oliver

 “Tell me, what do you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”

                                                                                             Mary Oliver

That just about says it all. Mary Oliver was a brilliant and wise poet who, unfortunately, no longer graces us with her presence on the planet. Obviously, she did a lot of thinking about the meaning of life. She was a seeker.

In that respect, we’re all seekers. We’re all looking for clues that we’re on the right path…that we’re not wasting the minutes, hours, and years we’ve been given. I don’t think this quest, or as they say, the hero’s journey, hits us until we’re practically at midlife. Earlier then that, we’re probably struggling to make a living, raise a family, or reach a goal that gives us some measure of pleasure and security. 

This Again?

I know I drone on about this, but only because I think it’s the key to happiness. It may be that until midlife, when you can actually see your past in the rear -view mirror, you’re able to see you’ve been on the path all along. If not, there’s always another path beckoning, enticing you to take the newer challenge, to dare to risk it.

In a way, life’s like the board game “Clue”. We get clues along the way, like breadcrumbs, as to what we signed up for, what mission we chose to accept.

Thank You, Mirror

At midlife, a lot of people jump on the idea of a bucket list. Here’s where the realization that time’s running out smacks you in the face. Another reminder is the mirror. Thank you, God, for giving us that scary visual reminder. Otherwise, we’d go blissfully on our lifetime playground unaware of the ticking clock. I think of the intro to 60 minutes. No matter how much you love the show, it’s over when it’s over. Even the old saying, “it ain’t over ‘til it’s over,” alludes to the truth that it will be over.

 Some people are born knowing what they want to be, or what they’re here to do. Some people simply follow their heart, and this is the road that gives them peace.

Like the old song by the Fifth Dimension, they follow the path that makes them feel” so safe, so sane, and so secure.” You don’t even have to know you’re on it. It’s so intuitive.

If this sounds like you, count yourself blessed. You’re among the lucky ones. 

Others try several paths. But, in my opinion, you can’t do this wrong. You’re here for a reason. 

So, as Mary Oliver so brilliantly wrote, “What do you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?

Here We Go Again!

Another Year Rolls Around

It’s that time of year…

By now, the gym membership is a mini guilt trip haunting you like the ghost of Christmas past. 

For that reason, I haven’t broken any resolutions because, guess what, I didn’t make any.

Ha! I feel like I’m laughing in the face of tradition. Is there a category for “couch potato “on the list of laudable resolutions?

But not to worry. I won’t be sitting idly by. There’s another category, which, by the way, I didn’t sign up for… taxes. 

Tax Trivia

Did you realize that income tax didn’t even exist before 1861? I’m not trying to be a grinch. I’m sure they had bigger things to worry about, like the lack of indoor plumbing, but despite that, aren’t you just a little bit jealous?

If you do your own taxes, I applaud you, but the brutal exacting work of locating the necessary paperwork and making sure your total expenses match the categories they fall under is a grueling task. Overall, math is my nemesis. Don’t think calculators are the answer. I can’t blame the calculator. If it doesn’t add up, it doesn’t add up.

Accountants expect it to add up. This is why I’m not an accountant. It’s so black and white. As much as I love those colors for my wardrobe, as a rule, I find it so perfectionistic. It’s so…you know…picky! 

Driving home today, I heard the Beatles song “Taxman”. If you haven’t heard it, please tune in. Even the Beatles resented paying taxes. 

Tax Freedom?

There’s actually a” Tax Freedom Day” each year. Never heard of it? I think that’s by design, because the actual number of days they estimate you have to work before your tax debt is met is 105.

This is so ironic because, if I’m correct, that’s 3.5 months, which, again, if I’m correct, is April 15.

Is this a coincidence? Is this too synchronistic to be real?

So, May is your first free month as a citizen. Live it up!

No wonder people are dancing around the Maypole.

Just Saying

The Two Issues of the Day
I’m going to share a few recent revelations. The first involves food…to be specific, sugar. I admit I’m a sweet-a-holic. I’ve discovered it’s genetic, at least in my family, but who cares about its origins. You can get too much of a good thing, it seems.
 
My lifetime obsession with sugar is triggered by three things…having a meal, being hungry between meals, or watching someone eat sweets. So, basically, I live in a constant state of craving. Don’t even suggest I do a sugar fast. That’s not on my bucket list. 
 
It plays out like this. When I finish lunch or dinner, unless I have something that resembles dessert, I’m still hungry. Breakfast is excluded because I usually throw in a date, and save it for last. Then it sort-of qualifies as dessert…but back to lunch and dinner. Picture me searching aimlessly for something healthy to satisfy my sweet tooth. Ok…it doesn’t exist…and don’t suggest dates…too many dates and you’ve got other complications.
 
But the other day, I miraculously solved this problem in a little tiny way, in case you’ll argue this isn’t really a solution. I was craving something sweet because I knew, in my heart of hearts, nothing else would do. Anything else would end up a reject, and just add on calories. We both know the sugar would win out. Let’s get real.
 
The only thing I had in the pantry, in the category of snacks, was a pretzel pack. These were really tasty pretzels so I figured the makers must have put sugar in the mix. I looked at the ingredients. There is was… second ingredient from the top…sugar, and lots of it. 
 
Suddenly I was hit with the revelation. “This may call itself a pretzel, but this isn’t a pretzel. This is a cookie!” 
 
Mea Culpa
All I can say is…problem solved.  Actually, not so fast. Because I’ve now that I’ve slipped into the prediabetic zone, I’ve decided to limit my sugar consumption and return to my walking routine. A few years ago I created an online program called “How To Prevent Type 2 Diabetes Without Dieting”, available on Udemy.com. Now, it seems, I need to follow my own advice. You’ve heard the saying, “Physician, heal thyself!”
 
As a result, my research has introduced me to a new and exciting concept. I’m pretty fascinated at the moment with Intermittent Fasting as a way to lower blood sugar (if you happen to fall into the prediabetic or diabetic zone). Learning about Intermittent Fasting turns out to be an effective way to both lose weight and control your blood sugar levels. And don’t let the word “fasting” scare you. I, personally, try to fast from 7:00 at night until 7:00 or 8:00 the next morning. I never thought I could give up my nightly popcorn binge, but it turned out to be a piece of cake, no pun intended. To read about the benefits, check out The Diabetes Codeby Dr. Jason Fung.
 
I Know You Can Relate
So, let’s move on to the next problem…insomnia.

I realized, in a moment of clarity, that I require, at the very least, six hours of sleep lest I be mistaken for a Walking Dead cast member. 
 
The other night I got four hours. As a result, I slugged through the day feeling  only slightly “with it”. 
 
Later that same day, the effects of sleep deprivation dug in its spiky heels.
 
 I returned from the pet store, and couldn’t find my credit card. I assumed I’d left it at the store. I made a trip back to the store…but no credit card. I kept thinking about the fun I was going to have notifying all the merchants who bill that card that it was lost or stolen. 
 
My mind was spinning…where could it be? 
 
I briefly considered mischievous poltergeist. Deep down, though, I blamed the four hours of sleep.
 
Then out of the blue, there it was, on full display on top of the counter.
 
So no poltergeist, no hours on the phone with customer service, no waiting for a new card to arrive.
 
Last night I got seven hours of sleep. I’m now cognizant enough to write this blog.
 
I love happy endings. Don’t you?
 
 
 
Image by unserekleinemaus from Pixabay 
 

 
 

Your Unique Path


Who’s Asking?

Who are you, anyway? Do you know?  
 
If you’re struggling with this question, welcome to the club. It’s a hard question to answer. 
 
In actuality, you’re like a prism or a mosaic. You’re multi-faced, a diamond in the rough, virgin territory to be explored, a flag looking for a place to plant its stake.
 
 You’re like a three -course meal. Childhood is your appetizer, adolescence is your chopped salad, adulthood is your entre, and old age is your dessert. Of course, this is only if, by chance or design, you’ve been the least bit introspective about your life.
 
The easiest way to discover yourself is through your gifts. These are the places where you shine.
You don’t always know what they are. My 8th grade teacher, Sister Bernarda, signed my yearbook with the words, “I hope you will use the gifts you’ve been given.”
 
 Even as an adult, I find myself wishing she’d been more specific. I think it boils down to what I’m good at. I sort of know that.
 
Thoughts To Ponder
As a student of metaphysics, I’ve learned that the Sun, astrologically speaking, is where you shine.
 
It’s your gift both to yourself, and to the world at large. In that way, your happiness and sense of fulfillment through utilizing your gifts is far reaching, blessing others in ways you may never realize.
 
To quote the Chaos Theory, “according to The Butterfly Effect, something as small as the flutter of a butterfly’s wings can ultimately cause a typhoon halfway around the world.” Similarly, that’s the effect of using your gifts. You’re that important. 
 
Yes, we all have shadow characteristics. But hopefully, in the time we’re given on the planet, we can transform them into the part of us that shines. Maybe knowing our gifts and transforming our struggles is our life purpose, or mission.
 
It’s Not People Pleasing
Maybe that’s a good definition of who you are. It’s very personal and unique. Taking up your life mission simply to please others, or remain conventional, doesn’t tend to end well.
 
Ultimately, it’s better to follow the unique path your heart knows is true than, to quote Robert Frost, regret “the road not taken”.
 
 
 
 

Has The World Gone Mad?

Ask Alice

I never read “Alice in Wonderland”, but I‘ve  heard enough about it to know she fell through the rabbit hole and her world turned upside down.

In my opinion, that’s what’s happening here. Our world has turned upside down. The world has gone slap- crazy mad.

Watching the news or reading the newspaper is now fodder for my blog. 

I’ve always considered myself to be open minded, but this craziness is akin to the dentist telling me to “open wider.” This is as far as my mind can stretch.

The Avatars

I can remember when the use of avatars first came out. I was psyched about this. I thought having a little character represent me was a novel idea. However, I wasn’t techie enough to create my own avatar, so I cooled on that trend.

 Actually, not having an avatar represent me hasn’t impacted me in the least. But, avatars are now allowing people to do things they would never do, or at least I hope not, outside of virtual reality.

Let me give you a couple of examples, and this is just from yesterday’s news.

There’s a new virtual world now, and don’t ask me how to get there, but yesterday a woman claimed that her avatar was molested by several other avatars. Really? Did she report it to the avatar police department? I’m sure Lewis Carroll is turning over in his grave. Has he been bested?

Howling at the Moon

The next piece of news, which falls into my “let’s get real” department is the woman who’s now identifying as a wolf. Yes, you read it right…a wolf. Even though she’s two legged, she goes blissfully running through the woods, howling loudly. She’s even designed a wolf outfit, complete with a tail.

I reiterate, the world has gone totally mad. I don’t know how the media anchors report this with a straight face.

I’m all for freedom. But I feel for the wolves. I doubt they’re into inclusion when it comes to two legged adults.

 I don’t know what the answer is, but for now, I think I’ll identify as a mole, and go underground until the world turns right-side up. 

The Great Transport

Ahh…
This morning I used a great little app called “Oak” to meditate. For years, I’ve used the word “one” as my mantra. Today I switched to the breath as my method of focus. Neither is particularly easy, but because the goal is to bring my mind back when it wanders, both methods are effective, albeit equally challenging.
 
As I tell my clients, it’s the bringing the mind back when it wanders that gifts you with the myriad of benefits meditation offers.
 
Fortunately, your mind is just as capable of drifting to a pleasant memory as it is to a present worry.
 
Where Am I?
Today I was transported to my grade school classroom. I attended Catholic school and the entire grade level was comprised of twenty-five students and a Benedictine nun. 
 
I loved school. What gave me the most pleasure was the memory of the open windows in my classroom. In those days, there was no air-conditioning. We were bombarded with fresh, although often steamy, unpolluted air.
 
Why this played such a dominant part in my recollection, I can’t say. I suspect it’s because smells are potent direct transports to the past. Just think about bacon. Where does that take you? If that doesn’t work, think about honeysuckle!
 
Fun At the Red Lights
Open windows also remind me of my first car, a 1971 Toyota Corolla. For some reason, the air-conditioner didn’t work at red lights. My friend, Linda, who was riding shotgun, would humorously suggest I roll up the windows so people wouldn’t think I had no air-conditioning. Ha!
 
Back To Class
As a young junior high school teacher, my classroom had no air-conditioning… again, the reappearance of the open windows. This was not quite the pleasant experience I’d remembered from elementary school. Teachers and students alike were prime candidates for a deodorant commercial!

 So, thanks for accompanying me on my trip, to be trite, down memory lane.
 
That’s my history lesson for the day.

What Floats Your Boat?

Why Do I Ask?

I ask this question because I recently became aware of the humongous part music plays in my ability to feel joy and happiness.

 Even if the music is mainly in a minor key, which seems to draw out feelings of sadness, music still has the power to move me in ways that TV or the internet can’t begin to touch or rival.

It definitely floats my boat. I’m grateful God gave us this beautiful sense, and I’m hoping the many rock concerts I’ve attended in my lifetime haven’t hastened its demise.

From Whence It Came

As a child, my parents used the record player, or stereo, to play Broadway musicals…hence, my love for musicals.

In 7th grade, I discovered rock and roll via the car radio. Ok, I know that’s late in life to figure this out, but I was the oldest child, and my parents weren’t into rock and roll.

My first purchases, were Hit The Road Jack, and The Lion Sleeps Tonight. The former is still good advice, and the latter still a popular song. The other night I watched a documentary on its origin. These songs were both on what they called ‘45’s, small vinyl records costing $1 apiece.

Records were also available as albums. I loved the richness of the sound. Although the car radio delivered a tinny mono tone, the vinyl sound was rich. I was in audio heaven.

One Step Backwards

It all came crashing to a musical halt for me when the CD’s came out. I don’t consider myself an audiophile, or maybe I secretly do, but I thought CD’s were a downgraded version of the vinyl. Thankfully, vinyl is coming back into vogue.

I love all types of music… broadway, country, rock, the Beatles, all the music of the 60’s and 70”s, which dates me, I know.

My mother used to say she could hear, or imagine hearing Rhapsody in Blue each time her plane landed in New York City. 

The Playlist

I love that song, as well as Concerto in F and Porgy and Bess by Gershwin, Peter and the Wolf by Prokofiev, The Jupiter Symphony by Mozart, The Carousel Waltz by Richard Rodgers, Appalachian Spring by Aaron Copeland, Dance of the Little Swans by Tchaikovsky, and so many more. 

Above all, music transports me. I meditate to stay in the present moment, and I listen to music to be swept away.