Feeling connected

Lately I’ve run across a rash of articles telling me how to get off line for a day, a week, or some such amount of time.  I wonder about the people who write these.  Perhaps if I spent too much time on games, recipes, or pinterest, it might be of interest, but I don’t want to be unplugged.  Do these people who write such articles not have children, parents, or any family members that they worry about?

I had a conversation with a friend a few years ago, she was talking about how happy her husband was when he didn’t have his cell phone, and how worried she was.  I agree with her, there is nothing so comforting as a cell phone sitting next to me, not vibrating or ringing.  I feel all is right with the world.  but if I’ve forgotten my phone?  Anything could happen!  I think it might be a bit of a holdover from 9/11, I worked retail that day, and had the store radio quietly tuned to the classical Canadian station, as I was instructed.  It was a bit of a mystery that there weren’t any customers, but no one from the main office, in fact, no one, let me know the terrors that were happening.  I did get a phone call from my husband after both towers collapsed.  It hadn’t occurred to anyone that I wouldn’t know.

I know where I was when Kennedy was shot, the nuns at my school were breaking down, it was quite a surprise.  I know where I was when we landed on the moon, glued to the TV.  I know where I was on 9/11, I was gleefully framing pictures at a retail store, unaware of the horror.  I never want to be that out-of-it again.  I want to be in the loop.

If something happens, I need to know.  Mark and I have made a couple of trips to emergency in the past few weeks with parents (all fine now) and I want those parents to know I’ve a cell phone near by and they can rely on me.  I don’t have children, but I can’t imagine anyone would willingly not be available without a great back-up plan.  I’m old, I remember what it was to call someone before answering machines, hoping they answered, or left you a work number.  I’m not going back, I need to be connected.

The first day of winter

The official first day of winter, 2016, isn’t for nearly two weeks, but winter really started here yesterday.  We didn’t get a lot of snow, nothing you couldn’t broom off your sidewalk easily, but we got slippery, blowing snow and extreme cold,”white-out” conditions that gave us a 40 car pile up with fatalities on one of our express ways.  I do dread this time of year.  It has been a long time since it brought the joy of sledding and school closings.  Now I look at the older people in my life and wonder, will they make it until spring?  Now winters are something to get through, hoping friends can hang on until summertime, “When the livin’ is easy”.

Every year I try to find something I like about winter, a new thing to do, a little something to look forward to.  I can’t find anything about the cold and dark, or the snow, that I can enjoy, it only fills me with dread.  The very best I’ve ever done is the thought “it’s not so bad”, not a particularly happy thought, but better than a lot of my thoughts.  Right now I’m thinking this is a time to look inward, to find joy within myself, to learn something new.  When it comes down to it, winter reminds me of the lack of control we all have.  That feeling when your car starts spinning and there’s nothing you can do.  Despite the best efforts of the weather predictors, we never know how much snow is coming, we never remember that it will be dark before we finish working outside,  we never figure out how to dress warm enough and not get so hot we need to quickly peel off layers, only to find ourselves freezing again a few minutes later.

I cannot control the weather, I am incapable of enjoying winter, so this year I’ll try to turn on the television a little less often and get lost in making things and learning things a little more often.  If I can’t find fun in winter, perhaps I can get through it a little easier, with moments of enjoyment, and learn not to wish away precious time.  This year I’m hoping that when spring comes I’ll feel like I’ve something to show for the months I’ve spent in the cold and dark.

Sixty one

I am 61, and unhappy about the state of affairs.  Or unhappy about the affairs of state.  Either way, I am extremely worried about our last election, and what will happen once the president-elect takes office.  I am worried for the lbgtq community, the immigrants, the people of color, and all of us.  I am extremely worried that public schools will lose funding at a time when we desperately need to increase it.  I worry that all the rights we fight for are in danger.  We are guaranteed the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.  I believe we have a right to healthcare.  Every one of us, not healthcare in emergency rooms when people have waited too long because they couldn’t afford a doctor, but preventative healthcare for every citizen. The thing I am very most worried about is the lack of understanding between facts and theories, opinions, and flat out lies.  Facts don’t change, facts don’t count on your beliefs.  Accepted or not, they remain true.  It is a fact that the visible universe is about 46 billion light years and continues to expand.  It is a fact we do not know what is beyond, there may well be more universes.  It is a fact that the universe is 13.8 billion years old.  Climate change is a fact, not believing it doesn’t change its existence.  I fear greatly that science will not be respected, or often acknowledged, it this upcoming administration.  This could spell disaster for us.

But then, in the vastness of the cosmos, what are we, but, as Carl Sagan put it, “a mote of dust.”  This earth is all we have, if we abuse it, we will exterminate ourselves, no doubt.  With all this in mind, I can’t help but return to our very tininess, our total and complete lack of importance in the grand scheme of things.   If we all disappear, the universe will go on. With this in mind, one refrain keeps running through my head.  It is from the TV show based on Dr. Suess’s Horton Hears a Who. It’s the story where Horton the Elephant saves a world of very tiny creatures on a speck of dust, from those that won’t listen and demand Horton destroy the tiny dustball.  If we don’t acknowledge the trouble we are in, global warming will take place and destroy our habitat, basically boiling our planet.  How long have we been roaming this earth and still unable to find peace? What the hell, it’s happening anyway, so go ahead, “BOIL THAT DUST SPECK”.scan_20161125

Thinking about marriage

Scan_20160223A bond between two people.  I confess, I am tired of hearing how very much work it is to be married.  I’ve found it to be relatively easy.  Whenever it becomes work, all I need do is remember what a pain it was being single, and suddenly Mark’s idiosyncrasies are quite tolerable.

My mother has rejoined the single life, living alone in an apartment.  I try to be there for her often.  I remember what it’s like never to have anyone right there for easy conversation.  No one there to laugh at a joke, call you out on your own stupidity, or compliment a meal, an outfit, or a job well done.  No one to answer simple questions, to give opinions, to date.  It’s not easy without someone who wants to go out to dinner with you, will go to that wedding with you, will escort you to bosses’ dinners, baseball games, any outing, no matter how exciting or mundane.

I’d love to tell you I never get annoyed with married life, I do.  But actually it’s nice to have someone other than myself at which to be annoyed.  We can share blame, share praise, share income, share meals, share pets, share the load.

Don’t get me wrong, I do occasionally long for some quiet time.  That doesn’t last, though.  When he is gone, it isn’t long before I’m wishing he’ll come back.

Maybe it’s because I found the right person, or because we are both pretty easy-going, marriage is something that works very well for me.

Walk

Scan_20160316I’m convinced that one of the best things you can do for yourself is get outside and take a walk.  It doesn’t have to be a long walk, but if you can get just a little exercise, and a little sunlight on your skin and in your eyes, it will go a long way to improving attitude.  It’s very difficult to do in winter, especially if you work, you’re never home during the daylight hours.  Now that it’s spring, get out there and see if it doesn’t make you feel better!

Daylight Savings Time

Scan_20160311 (2)Daylight Savings Time.  I know, it’s a pain in the butt.  Twice a year, reset your clocks, and try to live with an hour less/an hour more sleep.  Here’s a couple of facts.  We get about 15 hours of daylight in summer at its height.  We get about 9 in the depths of winter.  Right now, for us in the Midwest, in June the sun comes up around 6 and sets around 9.  If we didn’t go on DST it would come up around 5 and set around 8.  Because we run our lives by the clock, that puts some of the coveted daylight before most of us head for work, and it was, at one point, decided we wanted our daylight after our work day.  Keep in mind, the Indians and the farmers, folks that don’t rely on clocks, are likely to get up with the sun, so their internal clock changes slowly, instead of the big hour change we get twice a year.  Now if we stayed on DST, and skipped standard time, that means in winter our daylight hours would be more like 10 to 6 instead of 9 to 5.  This was tried once, and it meant kids waiting for school buses in total darkness, feeling like the middle of the night.  Now, I’m not asking you to agree, I’m just trying to point out some of the thinking behind the time change.  Mostly, if you are dead set against DST, you should know what it will be like without it.

But here is the real point I want to make.  Let’s not look at DST in terms of whether it is good or bad, let’s see it as a fact of life.  Because, right now it is, and this country has bigger issues to worry about.  According to experts, those that succeed in life, those that get further, those that live longer, do so by learning to adapt to change.  It can be big change, like living in country where a war breaks out, or ordinary change, like moving, or a new baby, a new boss, any change can throw you into a tail spin.  Adapting to change makes you a better survivor.  So don’t think about DST as an evil, think of it as training. Search your ninja soul and see if you can’t conquer DST in a day instead of an entire crabby week.  Take action, do some relaxation, learn to cope with a little less sleep, go to be earlier, prepare for  it, do whatever helps, but make it a training session instead of an evil cast upon you by outside sources.  You can do it!!

Consider the source

Scan_20160213 (2)A common phrase, and one that I believe is losing it’s meaning.  I’ve recently seen articles on Facebook with some very disparaging remarks, claiming politicians and other celebrities have said some racist and/or truly awful things.  These links are met with many, many comments, horrified at the targeted person for saying such awful things.  It seems fewer and fewer folks look to see where the link came form.  Certainly, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to recognize that if the source is “The Onion” or “Satira Tribune” there is a strong possibility (actually a certainty) that the story is apocryphal.   If there is one helpful thing you could do for facebook, it would be to take just a second or two to google the source of the thing you feel you must share, and see if there is any truth to it.  I know the “fake news” is a huge thing right now, but we all seem very willing to believe anything, and it doesn’t take much to check a source, check with Snopes, and see if something at least has somewhat of a foundation in truth.  Please don’t tell me “Well, he/she could have said that!” or “It sounds like something he/she would say!”  That doesn’t count, you should only get blamed for the actual things you say and do, not the things you could have said and done.  If you see a post with numbers and percentages about who does what or how many of something do these people have, how much crime, guns, chewing gum, whatever, it’s pretty easy to check a few sources and see if there is any truth to it.  Just do a quick check before you click.

Another small rant: Don’t say “Don’t say that!”

There’s something that has been showing up everywhere that makes me a little crazy. It is showing up a lot on facebook. It’s the (name a number) things never to say to a (name a person). You know, like “10 things never to say to a new parent” or “6 things never to say to a childless person” or “5 things never to say to a grieving person.” I expect to find these kind of things on facebook, but now it is spreading to magazines, the June 2015 issue of Real Simple jumps on the bandwagon with an article titled “43 ways you’re not really helping”. I don’t entirely disagree, we don’t want to offend anyone, but this is getting to the point where it’s making us afraid to talk to each other.  I am warned of the dangers of over-empathizing, of recommending yoga, of saying “let me know if there is anything I can do”, and even asking if someone has lost weight, for it will imply they needed to.

I’d like to see less of this “What not to say” and a little more of “How to answer” when such questions or statements come up. Sometimes, when we know someone in a bad situation, we are afraid to say anything, we may even wind up avoiding that person. Is that really a better way to handle it?  Let us not worry so much what we ask, but hope that when an inappropriate question does get asked, we could answer honestly, but politely.  We don’t need to yell “That’s none of your business!”, we can just say “That is something I’d rather not talk about.” and change the subject. There’s nothing wrong with “That question makes me a little sad, let’s talk about something else. Where did you get those earrings?” or “I’d rather not discuss that right now. How is your job going?”

Use the opportunity for a little education, if you can. Tell the inappropriate questioner “They are all my children, it makes no difference to me if I adopted them or gave birth to them, I hope it doesn’t to you, either. I am having a little trouble with Johnny’s potty training, have you any advice?” We all can say offensive things at different times, if we do our best to be gracious to someone who offends us, perhaps when we say something stupid we will be blessed with kindness, too.

One of the best lessons I learned was at my father’s funeral, over 25 years ago. One of our former neighbors stopped by to give his condolences. He was talking to my mother about his recent divorce, and he said to her “We’re in the same boat now” referring to the fact that they were both losing their spouses.  I was livid, and came up to my mother later, all righteous, “How dare he! His wife left him ‘cuz he’s a jerk, dad died! There’s no comparison!” I got a pretty stern look from my mother and the response “Oh Leann!  He doesn’t know what to say to me! He’s just trying to relate the best he can.” She was right, as usual. We are all trying to relate, the best we can, with the tools we have. Let’s cut each other some slack.

OMD

OMD is a new syndrome my sister discovered.  She got a little tired of folks straightening her things, organizing, and then saying “Sorry, it’s my OCD!”  You know they are talking about obsessive compulsive disorder, an inside need to straighten and organize things around them.  Surely you’ve had it happen to you, a couple of tchotchkes on your coffee table or papers scattered  on your desk, and a friend absentmindedly put them in order, claiming OCD.  Well, some of us enjoy scattered and messy.  Perhaps we have OMD (obsessive messiness disorder) and should be allowed to scatter things on other people’s desks and tables, with a curt “Sorry, it’s my OMD!”

It can go beyond this.  When I managed stores in retail, I’ve had helpful employees clean my desk for me, or make labels for my drawers.  If I wanted to have a clean desk, or labels on my drawers, I am perfectly capable of doing so.  I don’t.  I know I need a certain amount of chaos in my life, and when an employee cleans my desk, not only is he/she intruding on my space, but she/he also isn’t doing the work I’m paying them for.

I’m sure some folks would love to have someone clean up after them, but not everyone.  So ask before you clean.  Especially if you’re touching their personal stuff.  It’s not nice.

I don’t think folks with the cleaning compulsion can fathom a reason anyone would not like to be neat and tidy, but I know myself, and I have a reason.  If things are too clean, I know I’m going to mess them up, so I tend not to touch anything.  Then I don’t get anything done.  Creativity dies in me when I’m in a neat, organized room.  Creativity also dies in me with too many rules, but we’ll save that for another day.

I also know I am a person who needs to see everything then decide what to use.  Labels and boxes don’t work, I want to scan an area and see what will be useful.  I know what the beads I’m looking for look like, but I’ll never remember if I filed them under their color, media, shape, or whatever.  While most my friends are sorting their beads by color, I have one who takes all her beads and dumps them in one bowl so she can check out combinations.  This makes so much more sense to me, you might think you want the red beads, but you might surprise yourself if you open yourself to other possibilities.

So open yourself up to the possibility of messy, see how you feel about it.  Does it worry you, or do you feel soothed to be around so many interesting things?

Forgetfulness

Yep, I forgot to post “Where I Stood” yesterday.  I just went downstairs to check on my laundry, and it turns out I forgot to start the dryer, so my clothes are still wet.  I’m forgetting people’s names.

We are having big problems with our home computer, it looks like we will lose a bunch of information, many photos and scans.  I need to be more mindful of many things, people’s names, and backing up computers.  Without the home computer, it is a little more difficult to post images right now, so I’ve only got words.

Starting today, I will be more mindful.  I will double check things.  Starting today.