Stretching It All Out

What can I say, right now, with certainty?  “It is time to get up off the couch and do something about these atrophying muscles before I am unable to get up off the couch at all.”  I am quoting that annoying little voice in my head.  Some days it makes a lot of sense. aging backwardsThis morning I came across this interesting looking book in an e-mail from Amazon.  They are always sending me suggestions on how to spend my money.  And although normally I am very boring and predictable, sometimes I do things that are spontaneous and insane, like spending almost eighteen Canadian dollars on a book and an author I’ve never heard of before. I blame my ignorance on rarely watching television.  And a few other things that I don’t feel like getting in to here.

But who is there among us who would not like to be 10 years younger and 10 years lighter?  Excepting of course 40 pound ten-year olds.  But what really sold me was this phrase.. gentle, scientifically designed workouts based on Classical Stretch and Essentrics…

I don’t believe the aging process has any hope in hell of ever being reversible, but staying as fit as possible, for as long as I can, definitely appeals to me.  As does not doing anything strenuous which might cause me to break out in a sweat. So I downloaded the book, had a shower, fixed my hair and put on a bit of make up, just in case anyone drops by, so that they will not sadly shake their heads at me and wonder why I am letting myself go, now that I don’t go to work anymore.  No one has actually done that yet, but I like to be prepared, because you never know.

Normally I would not do any of these self grooming things before getting some exercise (whatever that even means anymore, it’s been so long).  Then I started to read.  And I read and read and read, eventually skipping through a bunch of pages and then going back to the table of contents to see if we were EVER going to get to the part where we’re told what to do to scientifically stretch our damned muscles.  There was really no need to sell me on the WHY of all this.  Let’s just do it, for the love of essentrics.

Okay!  I did 9 ceiling reaches, which is a little over half of the recommended dosage.  The process involves much stretching, as promised, and a lot of breathing.  Both good for you.  I went on to the Hamstring Stretches and discovered I could actually do them, even though the pictures had made me extremely skeptical.  Then there’s a bunch more leg stretches and pretzel positions, much like I remember getting entirely frustrated about when I tried yoga a hundred years ago. You are supposed to stop if you experience pain.  Excellent rule.

The Open Chest Swan Sequence for Posture is my favourite, so far.  Except I had to keep getting out of the various positions to tap the kindle to turn the pages.  There are nine steps involved.  The whole procedure is supposed to take about 30 seconds to get through.  HAHA!  By this time my 30 minutes was up.  How the hell did that happen?  And my arms felt like lead weights were attached to them.  So I quickly went through some lunges, noting that I was making almost all of the common mistakes so helpfully noted and illustrated.  Then I did a few side leg lifts, just to see if was possible.

She lost me at the modified sit ups.  I’m saving those for tomorrow.  Or whenever I happen to get to them within the allotted 30 minute time frame.  I’m excited about the zombie position and spine rotation and plies.  There are also Squash Lunges and Barre Footwork things and frankly I don’t know what else yet.  No wonder she put all this at the back of the book to give us lots of time to think about it.

Anyway, it all looks awesome!  And like being double jointed is not a requirement!  I feel like I stretched a few muscles that I didn’t even know I had.  I don’t think the eighth of January is too late to spontaneously come up with a sort of resolution.  I would really like to keep this up. I felt virtuous and proud and down right energized making my ridiculously healthy smoothie after I was done.  There are also pain relief exercises and things to do for balance and mobility.

Looks like a good book!  And like it or not, I will try to keep you posted with my newly young stretched out fingers and admirable computer desk posture.  Hey, those are good goals too. image

The Nano Poblano Oddly Specific Gratitude Blog Hop

The Nano Poblano Oddly Specific Gratitude Blog Hop

Thanks Kim at Drunk on Life for tagging me to continue this rather impressive list of gratefulness.  I’m happy to have discovered so many new blogging friends, especially the ones who are drunk on life.  There is no better way to be.

Here are the rules:

hop

  1. Add to the list with your own oddly specific bits of gratitude. Add as few or as many things as you’d like. Include a picture or two if you’d like… but you certainly don’t have to. Put your name at the top of the list to see where yours started and the next blogger’s begins.
  2. Tag the post with the usual pepper tags and oddly specific gratitude. 
  3. Tag another pepper to add to the list by linking to their About page, but there’s a catch! When you tag the next blogger, be sure to include a bit about why you’re grateful to be in the same blogging world with them.:) (Try not to tag anyone who has already been tagged that way more people get to join in the fun.)  The List of Oddly Specific Gratitude

Nerd in the Brain:

1. the smell of wild onions when I mow the lawn
2. coffee makers (having the coffee already prepared in the mornings is magical)
3. the way my crazy dog barks likes a vicious beast at the horses across the road, but then cowers behind me like a needy wimp whenever a horse actually comes close
4. hearing my husband talk on the phone to the rest of his team at work… it reminds me that he’s not just my silly, sweet, awesome husband… he’s also my competent, responsible, highly skilled husband
5. opening a blank lesson plan book and imagining the possibilities to come
6. sausage balls
7. watching Grace’s enthusiasm for all things musical
8. the way I can hear a smile on Olivia’s face whenever we say hello or goodbye on the phone
9. knitting with really soft, squishy yarn

Not a Punk Rocker

10. Getting a random text when Matthew is in cell-signal range. (“Hi”)
11. Awesome stuff in the mail, including Legos and letters from friends, making me smile when I need it the most at the end of a long day.
12. Cherry chapstick.
13. Somebody found my blog by searching for “deadpool talks about political social issues” yesterday.
14. Skype and chat for keeping me in touch with friends in “real-time” when one or the other of us needs it the most.
15. Finding new blogs to read and follow through this challenge!

Jackie P (tobreathistowrite)

16. Having friends like I do here in the blogging world. You all make my days brighter.
17. My dog Sam. He loves me unconditionally, wish more people could love like that. Plus, he makes me laugh daily.
18.Coffee. Without it the world would be a much sadder and thirsty place. And I would be a much harder person to deal with.
19. All the bright and cheerful colors around. Something about bright colors makes me happy. The gold of the sun, the cerulean blue of the sky, the wonder of a rainbow, they never cease to make me glad I’m alive.
20. Books…… you all know what I mean.

Fish of Gold

21. Spell check. Even though it did just strangely try to correct my horribly botched spelling of “another” to “Antoine.” I don’t even know anyone named Antoine, spell check.
22. I’m grateful to myself for being the sucker who couldn’t walk away from my dog’s cage at the animal rescue. My failure to do so has converted 70 dog pounds into a metric ton of joy and unconditional love.
23. Male’s hilariously failed attempts at sexting.
24. My sense of humor. I wouldn’t have survived this long without it.
25. To the Peppers for continuing my harebrained Nano Poblano Blog Hop Story idea and turning it into something unexpectedly awesome. Go Team Pepper
26.I also second #18.

Knocked Over by a Feather

27. My aunts Oreo truffles. They are addictive.
28. Finding my comfy spot in bed.
29. Receiving a spontaneous real hug from my daughter, which rarely happens.
30. Watching stupid TV with my husband.
31. Hearing my mom call me sweetie or something similarly saccharine sweet on the phone

Mental Mama ( Mental in the Midwest)

32. the world’s best tiny mommy
33. Evie and Sissy Cats
34. lithium, depakote, and gabapentin
35. the world’s most amazing support network
36. good dark chocolate, preferably with cherries
37. the jumbo margaritas at Romeo’s – lime, on the rocks, extra salt

Mark Bialczak

38. My dear wife Karen for buying me two season tickets for Syracuse University football six years ago, going to every game with me (but one when she went on a cruise) since and turning home game Saturdays into Happy Happy days win or lose. 39. That Ellie B aka Dogamous Pyle usually looks like this on the end of the living room couch and her specially covered ottoman daily come 10 p.m. after a day of enthusiastically ruling our Syracuse city home we call Little Bitty

Ellie B

40. That Karen talked me into going to the Paws for the Cause rescue dog event that March day four years ago when we saw Ellie marching around in her orange “Adopt Me” vest.
41.That my daughter Elisabeth was smart enough and confident enough and brave enough to go back to school this fall to get her associate’s degree and New York State certificate to become a physical therapist’s assistant, 2 1/2 years after getting her bachelor’s in biology.
42. That writing every day on markbialczak.com since Oct. 27, 2013 has turned out to be so much fun.
43.That Sheena Not a Punk Rocker talked me into hosting Nano Poblano this year, allowing me to meet so many interesting new bloggers! Wait. I want to add two more exclamation points to this one!!

Coulddoworse (Rachel or Lundygirl)

44. The park that I walk through four mornings a week

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45. Iced fingers

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46. Crochet and blogging; though never at the same time

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47. making something beautiful

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48. flowers

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49. Hot toasted sandwiches with my family on a very rainy bank holiday.

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50. beauty that you see in the detail

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51. Great memories to mull over and enjoy.

SAM_0116

Notes Tied On The Sagebrush

52. I am grateful that I was able to copy this whole list with pictures and get it pasted on to my post without messing it up at all, I hope.
53. I am grateful for my kids xoxo, and my husband xoxo
54. I am grateful to read good books, and watch good films
55. Good food, good wine and good friends
56. That I live in the state of California, USA
57. Discussions with my blogger friends and getting their support for my writing

Linda G. Hill – Life in Progress

58. That moment when I’m not aware that I’m falling asleep.
59. The one Smartie (candy-coated chocolate) that tastes slightly different than every other one in the box.
60. #18 – on this list, not the number eighteen.
61. That my children are alive.
62. Whatever it is that compels me to write; specifically to tell stories.

Idiot Writer ~ Idiot Writing :

63. Poetry (obviously) – mostly my poetry – I need it – lots to say things I cannot say any other way.
64. The Sun – when it shines in the UK.
65. The cheap chocolate bars I found! (and so do not feel guilty buying)
66. The fire-place – though I hate the smoke it emits.
67. Figuring out how to pump the tyre on my car yesterday.
68. Internet – SPEcifiCALLY – finding WordPress.
69. Saturdays – Cos I do not drive on Saturdays. Usually.
70. The sound system in my car – and my teens choice of music…it COULD have been – so so – not good.
71. I nearly forgot about SALT. Salt has so many uses! I am eternally grateful that salt – AND potatoes exist.

Last but not least...or rather first

72. Last but not least…or rather first – EVER so, very grateful – that Linda has wine.  :P

Doobster418

I’m grateful for:

73. The 11 bloggers who came up with 72 oddly specific items for which they are grateful, leaving me to really stretch to come up with anything new or different.
74. That said, I wish to second, third, or fourth (I’ve lost count) #18. COFFEE!
75. God, the almighty creator of everything and everyone, for granting in me the wisdom to…oh damn, the devil made me write that. Never mind.
76. Those rare days when I’m able to sleep later than 6 a.m.
77. My wife, for being a wonderful mother who stayed home to raise two great kids while I was off doing my worky-thing.
78. San Francisco weather, because it never snows, never gets below freezing, and never gets really hot and muggy.
79. My health, except for my vertigo, tinnitus, and my current lameness due to plantar fisciitis. But otherwise, my health is pretty damn good.
80. My blog and the fellow bloggers I interact with on pretty much a daily basis.
81. iTunes
82. The Oxford comma and those who use it.

Lucy at the Excessive Gardener 

I am grateful for :

83. I am so grateful for Evernote. Those of us who use and cherish it know why life is so much better. I am really grateful that I spend the few dollars each month for the premium version.
84. Golden Retrievers. My Golden, Roger, died years ago and I still miss him. I live with a Golden, my roommate’s, and he is a joy and a pain to live with but he is proof that if you know one Golden Retriever, you know them all.
85. My new knee. How wonderful it is to walk without pain. I can hardly wait to have the other knee replaced.
86. The drug Avastin. The FDA withdrew approval of the chemo drug for breast cancer, which means insurance companies won’t cover it, and it is not cheap.  I was lucky and got in on clinical trials for Avastin. It saved my life.
87. That I live in Florida, right where I want to be: minutes from white, sandy beaches and warm Gulf waters and only 2 hours to Disney World.
88.  Better World Books.  If you know it, you know what I mean.
89. Quad Core.
90. Defensive gardening. There’s nothing more satisfying than out-smarting a bug or an animal.

Now my list:

91. I’ll start by saying what goes without saying but should be said anyway:  I’m grateful for my husband Mark, my family, and my friends.

92. I’m grateful that I live in the Twin Cities (Minneapolis-St. Paul) of Minnesota. We have an amazing combination of abundant cultural opportunities, a highly educated and literate population, PLUS endless amounts of parks, lakes, bike trails, you name it.  We need the horrific winters to keep out the riffraff.

93. I’m grateful for having a job that provides me opportunity for (partially) subsidized travel experiences.

94. As everyone else said, #18 (coffee!)

95. I’m grateful for books! So many books!  So many writers with so many words!  As long as I have the capacity to read, I’ll never be bored.

96. I’m grateful that my husband has the best hobby ever: in his spare time, he makes furniture out of wood in our garage.  He loves doing it and I love the furniture he makes for me.  Talk about win-win!

Mark made this for me!

97.  I am grateful for the internet, which provides me with the opportunity to blog and to meet all of you amazing bloggers. I’m particularly grateful for the Nano Poblano Peppers for the sense of community y’all have been providing this month.

98. Cats! I’m grateful for my kitties Tennessee and Zelda for being such cute and cuddly pains in the butt.

Tennessee and Zelda

Me – Who Am I

I’m grateful for:

99. Warmth! When it’s -10 outside, I’m grateful for a heater that works.
100. We made it to 100! I feel privileged to be the one who fills this one out.
101. My son. He shows me the world in a way that no one else can.
102. Fellow bloggers and the wonderful community we have here.
103. Today I’m grateful for today; a day that I may not have had.
104. Fruit. Fruit does a body good.
105. Sleep, finally! Insomnia is terrible.

Me Next – Chatter Master

106.  Not having a body temperature of 94 degrees.

107.  Fat baby cheeks that split in to super wide grins and smiles with various numbers of teeth-when they see me.

108.  That moment at the end of the day when I know I’m done “doing” all that I am going to do for the day and there are those peaceful few minutes of quiet and relaxing with my husband.

109.  Saying “I love you” at the end of phone calls and visits and not feeling awkward about it.  And knowing my kids don’t either because I raised them with it being easy to say “I love you”.

110.  Remembering a song from childhood and thinking no one else in the world knows it, only to Youtube it and there it is!

111.  People.   Good people.  I’m so very thankful for good people.

Pssst!  It’s me, Ann Koplow, from The Year(s) of Living Non-Judgmentally, trying to let go of judgment and add my list of oddly specific gratitudes, starting with #112, which is a number I have no particular associations with:

112.  Numbers and other things I have no particular associations with, since I love seeing things in a new light, letting go of baggage from the past.

113. Numbers and other things that I do have particular associations with, since I love things that have been in my life, up to this point.

114. Even though #112 and #113 cover everything in the universe (at least the way I think), I am also oddly specifically grateful for the way I think.

115.  Everybody who had ever read my blog or anybody else’s blog, which may seem oddly general instead of oddly specific, at this point.  (I’ve been in a very feisty mood lately, so I would like to see ANYBODY give me a difficult time about how I’m choosing to participate here.)

116. My cats, including Oscar, shown here moments after he accidentally accessed Siri — the alleged “personal helper” on my iPhone —  having about as much luck getting help from her as I usually do:

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117. My keyboard (pictured) and my fingers (not pictured):

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118. Photos I take accidentally with my iPhone, like that one directly above.

119. People I meet during the day who are willing to engage in an authentic, open way, even if only for a moment, like Kenny

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who stands guardian at the parking lot where I get my medical care, where I’ve been needing to go to several appointments lately because nobody knows what the hell is going on with my health.

120.  My memory, which allows me to quote, accurately enough, dialogs I have with people like Kenny, such as:

Kenny (obviously using the memorized script he has to say to every driver who enters the parking lot since, apparently, people are parking there who shouldn’t be): Do you have an appointment here?  Are you a patient?

Me (making an exaggerated sad face, because I REALLY DON’T WANT TO BE GOING TO A MEDICAL APPOINTMENT and then nodding “yes” slowly, saying nothing).

Kenny: (after a brief pause) Oh.

Me:  Do you believe me?

Kenny: No.

… which cheered me up considerably and resulted in my Literally Laughing Out Loud.

121. My memory, which allows me to recall another thing Kenny said to me, after I Laughed Out Loud: “You have a good day, sweetie.” (Yes, I know this is supposed to be a list of Oddly Specific Gratitude, not Oddly Repetitive Gratitude, but please see #115, above.)

122. The room to have all my feelings, including sadness, humor, fear,  disappointment, annoyance, gratitude, etc. etc. etc.

123.  The opportunity to end lists (at least my portion of them)

_____________________________________

After I published this post, I realized I forgot to include something, for which I am NOT oddly specifically grateful:

Michael’s cooking. On what planet would it be odd to be grateful for that?

 

Kim at Drunk on Life

Not sure if I start with “123.” or “124.” if I include Ann’s postscript?
I’ll go “124.” so…

124. My warm, fuzzy Sasquatch slippers

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125. Sunsets from the terrace at my loft.

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126. A fire in the fireplace on chilly Sunday mornings, especially if accompanied by #127/#18

127. #18 (Coffee ) even more so with an upgrade (a little Bailey’s Irish Cream)

128. My sister-cousins Patti and Christa.  Let me be clear that “Sister-cousins” are not a weird Southern relationship like an “Uncle Daddy.”  It’s merely cousins that are more like sisters and mine are a wonderful part of my life.

129. Making jewelry.  I don’t do it much anymore, usually just for gifts around the holidays, but I like working with beautiful materials and the soothing feeling you get while working with your hands (and letting your brain go wander).

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130. That awesome feeling when you get “your hairs did” as we say in the South.  Going to the salon, getting a shampoo with a scalp massage, a glossy new cut and color and the fabulous super-shiny blowout that makes you feel like a rockstar for the rest of the day until you sleep on your glorious new “do” and wake up in the morning looking like a haystack (i.e. back to normal).

131. The good things about Christmas (not the commercial, mass media stuff). Christmas music, candles, Christmas trees and all the sparkly holiday decor, parties, party dresses, cookies, old movies, feeling festive…most of all being with friends and family and the stuff that’s all still a little magical.

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132. Nano Poblano and Team Pepper.  The support and comments and community are wonderful and I have greatly appreciated being a part of it.

Grandmalin at Breathing Space

133.  My little library, which doubles as a spare bedroom, so when you sleep over at my house you can stay up all night reading.

134.  The Kindle I have now, which is not the original one (I have gone through 4 of them).  They just keep getting better.  I could read on my I-Pad or my I-Phone (if I wanted to go slowly cross eyed) but Kindle was my first love for downloaded books.  If I find a book there that I really love, I just might go out and buy the real thing to add to my library to tempt visitors  to stay up all night reading  borrow them.  Yes, it’s a lending library as all good libraries should be.

135.  Just to be oddly specific about my love for coffee, I am grateful for my little Tassimo which brews one hot, fresh, delicious cup of coffee at a time.

136.  The specific spot on the love seat in the living room where I sit every morning to read, and every evening to draw, and a whole lot during the day to do a whole bunch of nothing much.  The arm rest is a perfect spot for my I-Pad to perch to blat out Netflix movies, there is a little table for my coffee and my jar of pencils, room beside me for my sketch book, and a view of the outside world straight ahead out the living room window if I choose to ever look up.  The butt print you see there?  Yes, that is mine.

137.  I know saying “family” is not very specific, so here’s the short list – husband, adult children, five grandchildren, siblings and their families.  The long list includes relatives too numerous to mention, except for a special two who are both estheticians and do great pedicures on these ugly old lady feet.  Which then turn out to be not so ugly after all.

138.

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This weird guy. My alien giraffe. You cannot be unhappy when you look at this face.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The List of Oddly Specific Bloggers

Nerd in the Brain
Not a Punk Rocker
To Breath is to Write
Fish of Gold
Knocked Over by a Feather
Mental in the Midwest
Markbialczak.com
Coulddoworse
Deborah at Notes Tied on the Sagebrush
Linda at Life In Progress
Idiot Writer
Mindful Digressions
The Excessive Gardener
Booking It

Me – Who Am I.

The Chatter Blog

The Year(s) of Living Non-Judgmentally

Drunk on Life

Breathing Space

I am tagging willowdot21 who has been a faithful Team Pepper participant all month, and whose blog I have followed for a long time.  Her “If We Were Having Coffee” posts are delightful.  I wonder if she’ll say she’s grateful for coffee…

Out Like a Lamb

imageHere’s to the last sunny Sunday morning in March.  This one went whooshing right on by.  But that’s okay, because I love Sunday afternoons too, no matter what month it is.

Normally I don’t miss three days in a row of putting my  scatter-brained thoughts out there for all the world to see, or ignore, or whatever it is that happens to them.  But when I do,  I have my reasons.  Not saying they’re good ones, but reasons are reasons.  So, on to the profound stuff.  Or the superficial.  Or the moderately sagacious.

1.  Work.  There will be an end to gainful employment for me very soon.  Hopefully in less than six months.   This lovely thought keeps me showing up, since I am able to see an end in sight at last.  Some days that feels like a lifetime away, especially when complete strangers sit down and proceed tell me the most bizarre shit imaginable.  I’m not sure what I do to encourage this.  I don’t think I do anything.  And yet people tell me things that happened to them from years ago right up to and including the past five minutes.  Things that are really none of my business.  So I don’t feel like I should share their information.  And when I come home with my head full of life stories that I never asked to hear,  I’m both physically and mentally exhausted.

2.  I hate the word SHOULD.  Also ought, duty, must, need, and maybe even do.  Because there’s many things waiting to be done and I don’t feel like doing any of them.  I don’t care if I should. And of course that’s a lie, otherwise I wouldn’t even mention it.  GUILT.  Another stupid word.

3.  We are dog-sitting for a week.  All of our grandchildren and their moms are off for a spring break holiday to the sunny south.  I don’t envy them the long overnight flights, but getting away from our cold non-spring-like weather will be a very nice break.  Really, having a dog here as an excuse for doing nothing is pretty lame.  He’s a good little dog.

4.  My I-Pad is evil.  Well maybe that’s a little harsh.  Let’s call it an angel of darkness.  I pick it up and I cannot put it down.  It is very portable.  It plays timba drums (often relentlessly)  when it has something to tell me or show me which may or may not be important.   It reminds me to play Candy Crush and Words with Friends.  It has Netflix.

5.  There are many books on my Kindle waiting to be read.   I purchase them faster than I read them.  One day I hope to get this all evened out.  Living long enough to do so would be nice.

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If this were true I would be disgustingly healthy. Or have a severe vitamin over-dose going on.  I comfort myself with the thought that there are worse addictions and many less relaxing ways to spend a lazy Sunday afternoon than drinking coffee and watching the sixth season of Psych.  Yes, I know, I have issues.  I promise I’ll think about them seriously some other time.  When exactly that might happen depends on how long I live, and possibly on how much coffee I am able to consume.

So what are you up to on your last Sunday in March?  If it’s more exciting than my day, I can’t say I’m too surprised.

Jazzy will be back tomorrow!  There, I’ve said it.  There’s no going back now.

The Joy of Being Booked

fall reading

Photo Credit “Eat Sleep Read”

Prompts For The Promptless Approach-approach conflict is the psychological conflict that results when a choice must be made between two desirable alternatives.

Oh for a life filled with nothing but approach-approach conflicts!  Should I read a book or take a nap?  Pick up an actual paperback or flip open my Kindle?  Read inside or outside? Or upside down?

I think I was born to read.  Time on my own with a book is one of this life’s greatest pleasures. I’m always just one good book away from an excellent mood.

Books are time travelling magic and sometimes it’s hard to start a new book when I’m still living in the last one.  And sometimes it’s equally hard to read just one book at a time.  I will be in the middle of something when I decide to download the next great read, and then I’m impatient to get into that as well.  Often I have three open books in three different places and my kindle collection in hand.  My head is full of delicious choices.

What authors mind and voice and soul will speak to me today?  Decisions, decisions.

From "Therapy Room by Joanna Cross" page on Facebook

From “Therapy Room by Joanna Cross” page on Facebook

Honor What is Ordinary

23 - Brene Brown quote

It’s a cold and blustery Sunday in June – windy, rainy, overcast.  A perfect day for sitting inside where it’s warm, having no place to go and thus some time to spend simply contemplating the meaning of life. (Did you fall for that?  I actually haven’t been contemplating any such thing, really.)  Or have I?  What I’ve been doing is realizing how joyful I am when I am not busy, not in a hurry, and not worried about anything in particular.  I am just happy to be happy with my completely ordinary existence. Grateful for all the simple, ordinary things in my life that I try to remind myself every day should never be taken for granted.

What brought all this on?  you may very well ask.  And also know that whether you ask or not I’ll still go ahead and tell you anyway.  I’ve spent the morning watching You Tube Videos of  Dr. Brené Brown.

Brené Brown, Ph.D., LMSW, is an American scholar, author and public speaker, who is currently a research professor at the University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work. Over the last ten years she has been involved in research on topics ranging from vulnerability, courage, authenticity, to empathy and shame. She has written notable books like The Gifts of Imperfection (2010) and Daring Greatly (2012), and she and her work has been featured on PBS, NPR, TED and CNN. (Wikkipedia)

I’m so impressed by what she has to say that I’ve downloaded her books to my Kindle.  Reading them is going to be next on my agenda for this lovely lazy day.

If you’ve never heard of her, here’s a Super Soul Sunday video with Oprah to get you started listening to her very wise advice about being enough, having compassion, and whole-hearted living.  It will lead you to many more links, and if you have the time, her TED talks are well worth the twenty minutes or so it takes to listen to them.

Listening to her talk has made me appreciate even more all the incredible people who are brave enough to tell their stories here in the blogging world.  What an incredible way this is to reach out and express how we feel, to give and receive empathy and understanding.  To know that none of us is ever alone.

How To Read Two Books At The Same Time

nikolski by dickner

Nikolski by Nicolas Dickner may look a little fishy at first, but it’s an excellent book, even for somebody like me who gets confused easily.  In the beginning it felt like I was reading three completely unrelated stories, but eventually it all comes together as the paths of the characters intersect, although they never really connect for long with each other.

Spring 1989. Three young people leave their far-flung birthplaces to follow their own songs of migration. Each ends up in Montreal, each on a voyage of self-discovery, dealing with the mishaps of heartbreak and the twisted branches of their shared family tree.

Filled with humor, charm, and good storytelling, this novel shows the surprising links between cartography, garbage-obsessed archeologists, pirates past and present, a mysterious book with no cover, and a broken compass whose needle obstinately points to the Aleutian village of Nikolski.  (Goodreads)

Nikolski won the Governor General’s Literary Award for French to English Translation.  It certainly doesn’t read like a translation, so that could be a big reason why it won.

I was interrupted in the middle of reading this by the arrival of my new Kindle.  The breaking of the previous Kindle also interrupted a half read book, so I was torn in two trying to decide where my loyalties lay.  Yep, everyone should have such pressing problems and decisions keeping them awake at night.death of bees

So by going back and forth from book to e-reader,  I have also finished The Death of Bees, by Lisa O’Donnell.  Here’s the great first paragraph and delightful hook for this one.

Today is Christmas Eve. Today is my birthday. Today I am fifteen. Today I buried my parents in the backyard. Neither of them were beloved.

I think you can appreciate my dilemma.  The paper white Kindle is great and I couldn’t wait to use it.  It’s smaller and lighter, with easier to see print.  I’m loving the touch screen except for all my dirty finger prints.  I’m also living dangerously by not yet having purchased a protective cover for it, but I didn’t drop the other one for a couple of years, so maybe this one has some time left accident free.  I’ll get one today.

Sorry, back to the bee book – it deserves a few more praises.  It is a dark comedy about two sisters in Glasgow who could write the book on dysfunctional families.  The story touches on homosexuality, child neglect, child abuse, drug use, drug dealing, drinking, smoking, promiscuity, mental illness, cancer, poverty, being orphaned, social services, and of course the problems that come up when your parents are buried in your back yard.

Since it’s written from the point of view of each sister and a kind but nosy neighbor, it felt like reading the secret journals of each one and thus getting an over view of the big picture.  You would imagine that a book starting out like this one could not possibly end well.  But at the same time you wonder how things could possibly get any worse.  It will keep you reading right to the end to find out what becomes of them all.

I don’t recommend reading books in this helter-skelter manner,  but I do recommend both of these titles and both of their authors.  They are two very different styles and stories, both with unexpected twists and turns.  Maybe they won’t be quite so unexpected if you read them one at a time.

And So We Let The Great World Spin

…because doing that is easier than trying to get it to stop spinning, I guess. At least we haven’t managed that one yet.

let the great world spin colum mccann

When I first saw Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann reviewed on Amazon I was dismayed to learn that it wasn’t yet available on Kindle.  So I had to WAIT FOR IT.  Sheeesh.  I’m much better at instant gratification than I am at being patient.  I waited so long I eventually forgot about it.  And then when I came across it by accident finally listed in the Kindle store a few days ago I downloaded it right away without even trying to remember what my reasons were for thinking I would like it in the first place.

Well, good thing I’m boring as dirt consistantly predictable and don’t change my mind a lot because the book did turn out to be exactly the kind of story that kept me happily reading all the way to the brilliant end.  I’ll admit there was a moment of panic when one section ended and another began and I was completely lost with a brand new cast of characters who seemed to be completely unrelated to the previous set.  I’m not normally a big fan of back to back short stories because of my deeply ingrained need to know what happens next.  But here the stories and the people are all linked in simple or intricate ways;  their lives converge and overlap, and the actions of this one or that one send out ripples which will ultimately affect the actions or even the fate of someone else.  It’s the kind of thing we see every day of course –  action, reaction, watch the dominoes fall.

In New York City, August 1974, Phillipe Petit walked back and forth across a cable between the World Trade Center towers.   This real life event is not necessarily the central focus of the book, but it is the thread that holds it all together.  There is a street priest from Dublin, his brother, his lover, heroin addicts, hookers, mothers who have lost sons to the Vietnam war, artists, computer hackers, cops, and a Park Avenue judge.  And I’m sure I’ve missed more than I’ve mentioned here.  Ordinary people who are capable of extraordinary things.

The book is beautifully written and was well worth the wait. There are some very quotable quotes throughout.  Enjoy this little sampling.  And if you decide to read the whole book, I think you will enjoy that too.

“It was my earliest suggestion of what my brother would become, and what I’d
later see among the cast-offs of New York—the whores, the hustlers, the
hopeless—all of those who were hanging on to him like he was some bright
hallelujah in the shitbox of what the world really was.”

“There are rocks deep enough in this earth that no matter what the rupture, they
will never see the surface. There is, I think, a fear of love. There is a fear
of love.”

“The intrusion of time and history. The collision point of stories. We wait for
the explosion but it never occurs. The plane passes, the tightrope walker gets
to the end of the wire. Things don’t fall apart.”