Monthly Archives: May, 2011

Crows and Life

Lovely crow in my birdbath
She had some tidbit that she wanted to soak.

I am enjoying the antics of a crow in my yard who keeps coming to my birdbath.  Yesterday she brought something, couldn’t tell what, that I think she was eating.  She kept dipping it in the water and playing with it, then drinking water herself, and finally taking whatever it was and flying off.  It was great fun to watch and today she is back again playing in the birdbath even while my yard guys are working nearby.  She is absolutely gorgeous and my photos don’t really do her justice, but I am trying to capture her and if I were outside sitting a ways away I would probably get better photos, but I lack the patience for that.  My telephoto lens did capture a lot!  Anyway, here are the photos I did get and I hope they give you an idea of just how magnificent this lovely bird is.  I know she will be the subject of several poems along the way.

Not sure where she got her tidbit, but she loves it!

She is now sitting on my fence behind the tree.

I also am including some photos of my latest artistic endeavors namely crocheting amigurumi critters and woodcarving (definitely just a beginner in both).  I am branching out but my main efforts lately have still been with my poetry.  I have found lots of kindred spirits on both Facebook and Twitter and I’m really enjoying trying my hand at various forms of poetry.  And my Tanka Diary (see link at the top of this page) is muddling along as well.  I like the idea of writing a daily journal which readers can make comments on, and I like the discipline of attempting a tanka every day, even if I find some of my efforts a bit lame at the end of a long day when I’m tired, but I still think I am learning and the discipline is worth the effort.  I’m also branching out a bit and posting my poetry on several poetry websites and I am continually amazed at how well it is received.

My first effort at woodcarving–a self-portrait

Anyway those are the current updates for now.  I have to admit I’m not sure where my days go, but they are going reasonably well.  And for those who aren’t following the Tanka Diary, the school year is winding down and next year I will volunteer exclusively at Student Link, our alternative high school, where I will work three mornings/week tutoring and marking papers.  Sasha will have her last chemo treatment this coming Friday 6/3, and I will have sinus surgery on 6/15.  I think that’s all the updates, and I hope all my readers are having a wonderful day!

My first amigurumi creatures–pattern says they are
hamsters, but they seem mor like slugs to me, but
I think they are very cute!
All three cats enjoying the sun–Laoise, Thackeray, and Sasha

Time Management, Connections, Ramblings

How do I spend my time these days?  Where do the hours go?  I am looking at finding the connections that all of us need through new resources, at least new for me.  I prefer to stay at home and that suits my introvert personality.  In addition, I never know from day to day just how I will be feeling, on both physical and emotional levels (and of course the two are tied together).  Today, for instance, I woke up feeling wretched with my usual sinus headache and digestive woes.  I’ve learned that if I just move slowly and take my time, I can generally sort through things and at least get them down to a dull roar, and sure enough, I am feeling much better now by mid-day, and the various aches and pains have subsided to a more reasonable level. 

This state of affairs makes it difficult for me to promise to be anywhere or do anything on a day in the future, especially morning activities.  But I can’t become a complete recluse.  Living alone has its advantages (well, not alone as I have 5 wonderful fur companions), and I can order my days pretty much as I want or feel up to, but I want human connections as well.

To that end, I’ve found the internet a real boon.  I now have blogs–three of them as of yesterday with the addition of my new Tanka Diary site (link at the top of this page), where I can write various things from the ramblings I do on this page to poetry on my haiku page to now daily journal entries on my Tanka Diary page.  In addition, I have a Facebook page where I follow the activities of friends and post a haiku or more per day on the haiku Facebook page.  And finally, the biggest segment of this as well as the most time-consuming, I am on Twitter.

I joined Twitter so that I could see and reply to posts from my son, Eric, since he uses Twitter.  But then I soon found that I was following poets on Twitter and really enjoying it!  I have lots of new friends on Twitter and I spend a good portion of my days trying to keep up with all the posts.  I’m not sure I’ve found the most efficient ways to do this, but I have discovered lists and so I have those I follow categorized (ok, I am a librarian after all).  In addition, I’ve discovered that there are several poetry games available, so that for instance, when I’m done getting this post completed I’m going to try to come up with a poem using the words gamine and epicene!

And I get to chat with people and share with people all over the world.  I discovered last night that a couple people I follow were getting up and ready for their days as I was going to bed.  I know–this is perfectly reasonable given the size of the world, but I’ve never known people living in other parts of the world and now I do.  This was brought home most poignantly after the earthquakes and tsunami in first New Zealand and then Japan!  And I’m really enjoying the diverse perspectives as well.

Finally, I think, I am taking some on-line classes, the current one being Eastern Theraputic Writing at a wonderful site, Writing Our Way Home, and I’m getting to know people there.  It takes time to read all the posts and try to follow the various threads (yes, I’m on several sites which I find a bit confusing so there is a learning curve here as well), comment on them, write my own assignment, etc.

Oh, yes, there is another, as I’m going to try being more active on a poetry site called Poetry Here and Now, another of the ones I find a bit confusing to keep up with, but hey, I need to learn the more modern ways, and certainly without all my internet connections I would be missing out on a ton of connections which are becoming really important to me.

The beauty of all the above avenues for connections is that I can do them in my own timeframe and at my own speed.  I haven’t yet caught up with my twitter stream, but that is next on the agenda (well after the poem using gamine and epicene).  Sometimes, if I have to be out and about with appointments etc. I can get behind, but that’s ok also.  And there is always someone to chat with, which is wonderful.

But at the end of the day, what have I done?  Is it ok?  Am I just wasting time on the computer?  Well, as my therapist keeps asking, did I enjoy it?  Was I having fun?  And of course the answer is yes!  She continues by saying that nothing that is fun or enjoyable is a waste of time.  And I also am writing a ton more, especially poetry, and learning a lot about being a poet, so that is a very good thing also.

So I will continue with this exploration and if you wish to follow along with me in any of my various venues, feel free!  Would love to have you join the adventure!  Have a super day!

Change, the Nature of Life

Change: I’ve been thinking a lot about that subject and how it affects me.  At first I thought that because I am getting old I respond less well to change and there may be a bit of truth in that but then I realized that in truth I have never taken kindly to change, at least certain kinds of change.  That caused me to ponder the whole subject.  

This past week I’ve been exploring, as part of an online class I’m taking, the Japanese teachings called Morita.  As part of the experience we had to do a number of things including keeping a journal throughout the day to note our feelings and what we were doing.  That caused me to realize that most of the time I cannot even put a word to what emotions I’m feeling and that is no doubt the result of years spent denying the body and emotions as far as I possibly could.  Noting what I am doing was less difficult of course because I’m focused on doing rather than being.

But another exercise involved listing things that I am in control of and things I’m not.  That exercise was really an eye-opener for me and I realized that in fact as it relates to change, the changes I like are, not surprisingly, the changes I am in control of.  I am now writing poetry, specifically, haiku although I’m starting to branch into other forms such as various 5 line forms.  I am now crocheting and knitting amigurumi, little animals or creatures that are just plain cute.  I have gotten a set of whittling tools and some chunks of wood and I’m going to try my hand at that.  All of these are new artistic expressions for me and are designed to help me explore my artistic nature.  New avenues of learning or expression have always appealed to me.  I like learning or trying new things and that is why if I’d ever pursued a career, librarian was definitely the career for me on a variety of levels.

However, to return to the notion of change.  I am in need of new ideas, new forms of expression, etc. and always have been.  I like the challenge and I don’t thrive well on repetitious tasks.  But those types of change are within my control.  I can chose what art forms to explore and while I might not become expert at any of them, I at least know where to go to get the needed information to learn about them.

Not all changes are like this.  Many of the changes each of us has to face are not of our choosing in the first place and not within our control in the second place.  I had no idea, and certainly no control over, events when my daughter, Pamela, decided to sever all connections with me without any warning (that I saw anyway).  That was fourteen years ago and the pain never leaves me.  But I’m having to deal with the fact that it probably never was about me, but rather about her need to individuate as an adult and at age 27, she certainly had not only that right, but responsibility and there was nothing that I could do except respect her decision.  I’ve done that now for a lot of years and I realize that one thing I have absolutely no control over is whether she will ever choose to have a relationship with me again.  I can hope for it and believe me that is one change I would welcome with open arms, but other than keeping my heart open to her, sending occasional letters and small gifts through a third party, and thinking of her with love and compassion, there is nothing I can do.  My therapist keeps telling me that what I am doing is huge and that it has the potential to heal our family backwards through generations, but that is more abstract and more spiritual than I can get me head or heart wrapped around.  Still, I do hold her words close to me, especially on bad days, and hope that the healing is occurring whether or not I live to see it.  And the same is true for different reasons with my son, Eric, where I do have a tentative relationship and semi-annual visits, but nothing like what I thought my family would be.  Change isn’t always what I envisioned or wanted, but change is life.

And that is the bottom line.  Whether it is change I pick or change I am stuck with, life is about change.  I only have to look out my window to see that as the seasons change visibly each and every day.  Yesterday was a beautiful sunny day and today it is pouring rain.  A few weeks ago all the plants were dormant and now they are growing almost before my eyes.  Change happens.  My massage therapist will be gone from the island for a year as she pursues her dream to become a licensed midwife with a MA in midwifery.  I have four more massages with her before she leaves.  I am very excited for her and will be eager to hear of her experiences as she does her year’s internship, especially the time she will be spending on a Navajo reservation.  I will be eager to hear how her daughter likes her new school and her husband his new job.  It is a very exciting opportunity for them all.  But it will make a tremendous change in my life as I’ve had a weekly massage and sharing chats with her for about three years now maybe even more.  Change happens.

And so it is time to think more about where I am and what I’m doing and to learn enough flexibility as well as major trust, both in myself and the cosmos, to realize that staying present in the moment, fully focusing on what I am doing, what I’m feeling, what is going on around me, being totally in tune with that, whether it is making a cup of tea, writing a blog post, scooping litter, or looking out my window at the crows hopping on my lawn, that staying fully present is the only way to go through life.  The changes will happen.  I need to go with the flow, not regret what happened in the past as that is over and done with and cannot be changed, not be anxious for the future, as again, that is out of my control and certainly out of my knowledge, but stay in the present.  It is a hard task, but the only task really worth doing and the only one that can keep me fully alive in this world.

Superstitions, Reality, Mood Swings, Random Thoughts

Friday the 13th has been an interesting day.  So far, my iTunes has lost its playlists and I couldn’t find my music and had to call Apple support which was blessedly helpful and all my music is safe but I’ve had to reconfigure my playlists, but at least it is all here.  Then my dvd didn’t play right away and I had to reset my stereo.  Is this the 13th jinx on Friday the 13th or is it just life.  I have watched my moods swing as these events unfolded and of course the computer woes triggered all sorts of family stuff also since in the past I would have been able to ask Eric about it but now that isn’t a possibility.  But on the plus, once I showered and fed my very noisy pets I was able to contact Apple customer service which helped immensely and that also was terrifying to start out with since I remembered the days when various computer customer service calls resulted in someone talking in “computer geek” making me feel stupid and that wasn’t helpful and on top of that, if the customer service rep had an accent, my poor hearing just compounded the issue.  Today however, I had a very pleasant experience working with a calm gentleman named Bernard who was reassuring, very specific in his requests, never making me feel stupid or dumb, ending with a successful outcome.  If I have any more difficulties within 30 days I will get all the support I need at no extra charge, so I am very pleased with Apple Service, very pleased that I had the courage to overcome my fears, to put my past on hold, to look, as my current online class in Eastern Philosophies is teaching me, at what is real.  I am a reasonably intelligent woman who is capable of looking after myself and taking care of my companions and I can find help when I need it and now all is going well and I am continuing to import more cd’s into my iTunes library and so life is looking good again.

So was this bad luck because it is Friday the 13th?  Or was it just the fact that electronics will misbehave along the way?  And was it in the end good luck because I was able to handle it all, nothing was truly damaged, and I learned more about myself and my reactions and the reasons for them?  I guess it is all in how I look at the situation.  And I’d been saying that 13 is a lucky number for our family, but in fact it was a lucky number for my father, but is it for me?  And is there such a thing as a lucky number in the first place or does life just unfold and what happens happens?  Anyway, those are my thoughts on this, but it has been very interesting to watch my mood swings in the first place and also to see that I have at least learned not to knee-jerk react quite so quickly.  I was upset to find all my iTunes “missing,” and I did try some sensible things like rebooting, etc., but when it got beyond my knowledge, I had enough sense to go take my shower, think things through, and contact someone who actually might know something.  So it ended up being a positive learning experience for me and that has to count for a lot.  Each time I can have that positive experience it builds new neural pathways for me to help me undo the heavily ingrained scripts in my head, so that I can stop the old tapes of “you’re stupid,” etc. and instead look at the reality of the situation.  

In the end, I’d have to say that so far at least, this has been a lucky day for me because I’ve learned more about myself and how to handle things when I encounter the inevitable bumps in the road.  This is very good, and when I get triggered again, hopefully I will recognize that I have been triggered, take time to re-think and re-evaluate the situation, avoid knee-jerk reactions, and try to see the reality of the moment instead of living with all the past.  The past is over and done with.  Most of what I was programmed with is false.  It is time to get rid of that and move into the present moment when I have a lovely bumblebee flying in and out of a gorgeous magenta flower right outside my window!  It is a beautiful day and I’m going to focus on enjoying that!

Which Comes First, or The Ankle Bone is Connected to the Shin Bone

Which comes first, the chicken or the egg, or the ankle bone is connected to the shin bone.  Yesterday I woke with a splitting headache and for once just decided to listen to my body and not force myself to do things just because that is what I normally do on a Saturday.  Laundry was ok, especially with my new red washer and dryer, but bathing Chauncey was definitely too challenging if I listened to my body so I didn’t.  However, today, I woke up feeling some better (allergies always leave me with a headache, especially in the morning, but it was a lower level one), and it is a gorgeous sunny day, so I decided that Chauncey would get his bath after all!  He wasn’t too thrilled but fortunately he is good and patient, and we managed it just fine.  And then, I decided to roll out my yoga mat and do some “real” yoga on the mat which I haven’t done in maybe 5 months as it was nearly impossible to roll the mat out when we were confined to the bedroom.

It was lovely to do my yoga again in front of my picture window in my bedroom and I was very pleased to find out that my shower yoga and my body butter yoga had worked to keep me stretched out so I was able to do my favorite poses without undo difficulties.  I even did a head stand (using my head stand support), and it felt really nice.

So now I’m wondering my perennial question.  How much do I push myself to do things which I know are good for me (like the yoga) or necessary (like Chauncey’s bath) no matter what, and how much do I say oops not today.  As I’ve mentioned before, I do have an artistic temperament which has melancholy as a major chunk of it and that melancholy can slide fairly easily into depression because of my early childhood programming, among other things.  I talked about this the other day with a couple of my students from Student Link who suffer similarly for similar reasons and I think I was able to help them put things into focus.

But when I mentioned the discussion to my therapist she pointed out that my students have one major advantage over me and in a nutshell that is their youth and health.  She encouraged me to show myself heaps of compassion because I do have a number of health issues, auto-immune thyroid disorder, untreatable allergies, chronic foot pain, spastic colon, low energies, etc, none of which are in any way life-threatening, but combined give me a fair amount to deal with and as I’ve discovered just this weekend, I never know from day to day how I will feel physically.  Add this to the innate melancholy and it is easy to see, as my therapist pointed out, why I have such fluctuating moods.

So now my question is which comes first or how these are all connected.  For most of my life I have simply pushed myself to meet whatever commitments I’d agreed to or tasks lay ahead of me no matter what I felt like.  I just toughed it out.  We had a saying, Purpuses don’t quit, and I lived that to the hilt for most of my life.  Even if I couldn’t be smart, creative, graceful, etc, and all the other things I was told I wasn’t, I was one who never gave up, who, like the Energizer bunny, just kept right on going, trying my level best no matter what the odds.

However, I can now see what a toll that took on me at every level.  Tomorrow I will be seeing a new podiatrist to deal with my feet, which I managed to ruin beyond repair, and that is just one example.  So I do need to listen and not be so silly anymore.  After all, I am not 17 yrs old as my students are.  At the same time, I know that the ankle bone is connected to the shin bone and that if I don’t push myself a bit to do things which I know from past experience do lift my mood, then I’m in danger of sinking further into depression.  

So when do I cancel going to Study Zone, for instance, because I’m not feeling well and hence not perky, and when do I give myself that extra kick in the pants and get going, knowing that once I get there, I generally do fine, even if I’m exhausted by the end.  It is a difficult road to follow.  I’ve had so many years of negative programming that I slide there way too easily.  It always requires effort to keep going, to do what I know is necessary or good for me or even enjoyable, and there just are days when the required effort seems to be way too much.  

And so I continue on my quest to see which comes first, the mood or the physical difficulties, and how they are connected ankle bone to shin bone so that if I do push myself will my mood lift and will I feel better overall, or will the pushing just make me feel worse as it did a few weeks ago when I had a major sinus/ear infection.  Life is always a balancing act and I just need to adjust to my own balance.

Meanwhile, it is a beautiful sunny day and Chauncey is squeaky clean and Sasha is eating and enjoying life and the other three are also doing well and I’m now ready to fill the hummingbird feeder outside my picture window so that the hummingbirds won’t come by and be disappointed.  Hope all is well in your part of the world.  Happy May Day!