Monday Morning Wake-Up Call

You really don’t have to lose everything and travel to a remote valley to discover that the world is always rushing forward to teach us, and that the greatest thing we can do is stand there, open and available, and be taught by it. There is no limit to what this cracked and broken and achingly beautiful world can offer, and there is equally no limit to our ability to meet it.

Each day, the sun rises and we get out of bed. Another day has begun and bravely, almost recklessly, we stagger into it not knowing what it will bring to us. How will we meet this unpredictable, untamable human life? How will we answer its many questions and challenges and delights? What will we do when we find ourselves, stumble over ourselves, encounter ourselves, once again, in the kitchen?

~ Dana Velden, Finding Yourself in the Kitchen: Kitchen Meditations and Inspired Recipes from a Mindful Cook (Rodale Books, September 8, 2015)


Notes:

  • Quote source – Thank you Catherine @ beyondthefieldsweknow.org. Be sure to check out her blog and her design studio @ The KerrdeLune Design Works.
  • Photo: elenandrevn (via BruWho)
  • Post inspired by Make Believe Boutique: “When the True Self breaks through, a new and impassioned approach to life often makes itself known. We tap into an inner radiance that I call delight. I’m speaking of a unique kind of response to life that can coexist with our most painful realities. I’m speaking of the joy of saying yes to life in the core of our being. I believe that the capacity to delight in life is deeply carved by our waiting.  Delight can become a way of life, a way of journeying. There’s a saying, “Religion is not to be believed, but danced.” I like this idea, as it shifts the emphasis from our endless pursuit of religious knowledge back to the dimension of living our religion in such a way that it becomes a dance, a celebration in which we open our arms and say yes to life. ~ Sue Monk Kidd, “When the Heart Waits. Spiritual Direction for Life’s Sacred Questions”

Sunday Morning

I want to be a monk because I think that would be a very good use of me, he continued. Does that sound strange? It sounds a bit arrogant, I suppose. I don’t mean to be arrogant. I want to be an implement. Something like a shovel with a beard. If I live with humility and intent, if I do what I do well and gracefully, that is good. Beyond that I cannot go. When I speak to children they will ask me things like, if I do enough good, and other people do good, then the good stacks up, right? and the good eventually beats the bad, right? and I cannot say this is so. I am not very interested in speculation about such things. I was never interested in theology. I think theology is an attempt to make sense of that to which sense does not apply. I cannot explain why I hope that what I do matters; all I can do is do what I do, either well or ill, patiently or not, gracefully or not. And I do find that doing things mindfully, patiently, easefully, makes the task far more interesting. I love to cut the grass here, for I sometimes come to a sort of understanding with the grass, and the hill, and the creatures in the grass, and with my legs and arms and back, a sort of silent conversation in which we all communicate easily and thoroughly. Do you have any idea of what I mean with all this?

~ Brian Doyle, from “Because It’s Hard” in “One Long River of Song: Notes on Wonder” (Little, Brown and Company, December 3, 2019)


Notes:

Saturday Morning

One’s very own room, ventilated to please one’s self, furnished just as one wishes, with one’s pet belongings arranged to suit one’s own tastes; an entire bed in which one may pitch and toss, stretch and yawn, without the consciousness that another would-be sleeper is being annoyed – all of these are aids to happiness.

Virginia Terhune Van de Water, “From Kitchen to Garret,” (Published in 1910)


Notes: Quote via Schonwieder. Photo via Sabon Home

House on Fire


Photo: Wildlife rescuer Simon Adamczyk carries a koala out of a burning forest to safety on Kangaroo Island, southwest of Adelaide, Australia, on January 7, 2020. Photograph by David Mariuz.

The Atlantic: Animals Rescued From Australia’s Bushfires. January 9, 2020:

“The horrific wildfires that have been burning across Australia for months now have taken a severe toll on the animals that called the scorched lands home. Estimates of the number of animals killed by the fires range from hundreds of millions to more than 1 billion. Volunteers and crews from Australia’s National Parks and Wildlife Service have been doing what they can to help some of the kangaroos, koalas, lizards, and birds that can be rescued and treated. Ranchers and pet owners have been working to keep the animals in their care secure when possible, but many farm animals have been killed as well. As much as one-third of Australia’s Kangaroo Island has burned so far, with wildlife experts fearing that more than half of the island’s 50,000 koalas have been killed.”

Beth Takes The Proust Questionnaire

  1. What is your current state of mind?  I am calm, peaceful, happy, looking forward to the new year and new adventures.
  2. What is your favorite journey?  A long walk through the woods.
  3. What is your idea of perfect happiness?  My family and friends happy and healthy, me in love, a book, a hot cup of coffee, a good film, a blanket.
  4. What is your greatest fear?  That I would outlive one of my children
  5. What is your most marked characteristic? My ability to always see the positive side of things
  6. What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?  My lack of control over my blurting or interrupting (just because I’m excited or have a story or idea)
  7. What is the trait you most deplore in others?  Cruelty.
  8. What is your greatest extravagance? Very soft things- clothes, scarves, fabric, blankets, bed – worth every penny
  9. What do you consider the most overrated virtue?  Having to be the best 
  10. On what occasion do you lie? To save someone’s heart
  11. Dislike most about your appearance? My height is 5′ 3″ – it would be fun to be tall sometimes, but I’m okay with it overall
  12. Which living person do you most despise?  Our current president – so much cruelty flows from him
  13. Which words or phrases do you most overuse?  ‘done’
  14. What is your greatest regret? that I wasn’t able to have more time with my daughters when they were young and I was busy trying to make life better for all of us
  15. What or who is the greatest love of your life?  my family
  16. When and where were you happiest?   when all of my family is together
  17. Which talent would you most like to have?   to be a singer with a beautiful voice and a dancer with grace
  18. If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?   to spend more time helping those less fortunate in life
  19. If you could change one thing about your family, what would it be?   that they would never have to suffer
  20. What do you consider your greatest achievement?  my children
  21. What is your most treasured possession? my 7 dollar wooden kitchen table made from one plank of wood (found at the Salvation Army and a gift from my children)
  22. What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?   losing a love
  23. Where would you like to live?   in a quiet small home near the water and woods
  24. What is your favorite occupation?  writing
  25. What is the quality you most like in a man?  kindness, compassion, humor, honesty  
  26. What is the quality you most like in a woman?  same as #25
  27. What do you most value in your friends?  loyalty
  28. Who are your favorite writers?  pat conroy, roald dahl, ann patchett, fredrick backman, david sedaris, bill bryson, erma bombeck, rod serling
  29. Who is your favorite hero of fiction? King Arthur
  30. What is it that you most dislike?  clowns/dentists
  31. Who are your heroes in real life?  children
  32. How would you like to die?   asleep in my soft bed, dreaming
  33. If you were to die and come back as a person or thing, what do you think it would be?  a pygmy goat living on a lavender farm
  34. What is your motto? “this is the best day ever.”
  35. Bonus Question: How did you find my blog? I have no memory of my stumbling upon you, just that is was a pleasant experience from the get-go
  36. Bonus Question: Why do you keep coming back to this Blog?  because it is beautiful, heartfelt, thoughtful, kind, and intelligent. it offers me food for thought and a wonderful aesthetic experience, plus I love to give my feedback/opinion. 

Notes:

  • Beth is a virtual friend and faithful follower (and me of her blog) and she kindly agreed to share her responses to the Proust Questionnaire. When I think of Beth, I think of her in response #5. She is exceptional. You can find her website and bio here: I didn’t have my glasses on.
  • See prior Proust Questionnaires.
  • The Proust Questionnaire has its origins in a parlor game popularized (though not devised) by Marcel Proust, the French essayist and novelist, who believed that, in answering these questions, an individual reveals his or her true nature.  (Source: Vanity Fair)

Lightly child, lightly

Human beings are creatures made for joy. Against all evidence, we tell ourselves that grief and loneliness and despair are tragedies, unwelcome variations from the pleasure and calm and safety that in the right way of the world would form the firm ground of our being. In the fairy tale we tell ourselves, darkness holds nothing resembling a gift. What we feel always contains its own truth, but it is not the only truth, and darkness almost always harbors some bit of goodness tucked out of sight, waiting for an unexpected light to shine, to reveal it in its deepest hiding place.

~ Margaret Renkl, “Be A Weed” in Late Migrations: A Natural History of Love and Loss 


Notes:

  • Photo: via Mennyfox55.
  • Post Title & Inspiration: Aldous Huxley: “It’s dark because you are trying too hard. Lightly child, lightly. Learn to do everything lightly. Yes, feel lightly even though you’re feeling deeply. Just lightly let things happen and lightly cope with them.”

Guess.What.Day.It.Is?


Notes:

  • Photo by Joshua Cripps: A very special experience today (Dec 26, 2019) to watch the annular solar eclipse from the Empty Quarter in the middle of the UAE desert. (Thank you Darlene and Horty for sharing)
  • Background on Caleb/Wednesday/Hump Day Posts and Geico’s original commercial: Let’s Hit it Again

 

Mimi Takes The Proust Questionnaire

  1. What is your current state of mind?  A pint of grateful with a chaser of anxiety.
  2. What is your favorite journey? Any road that leads to my kids.  And I love Paris…and the beach…and the mountains.  I fear I’m going to struggle with this questionnaire, but I figure Proust would too.
  3. What is your idea of perfect happiness? My family together, happy, healthy and belly laughing.
  4. What is your greatest fear? Anything happening to anyone I love
  5. What is your most marked characteristic? I have no clue, so I cheated.  Upon asking a few people who know me well..a friend said ‘kind’’; Andy said ‘you’re short’; my kids said ‘perceptive, empathic, entertaining, sincere and relatable’.  I love my kids.
  6. What is the trait you most deplore in yourself? I apologize for everything – even the poop that’s not mine.  A former boss who later became a friend once told me that he had never met anyone who could advocate for others with the tenacity and passion that I did and he had never met anyone who was so awful at speaking up for themselves.  C’est moi.
  7. What is the trait you most deplore in others? Refusal to own what’s theirs (or in the vernacular people who don’t ‘own their shit’.)  In the immortal words of Eric Clapton, ‘before you accuse me, take a look at yourself’.  Please understand this as a general statement, there is absolutely no one to whom I’m directing this statement.  
  8. What is your greatest extravagance?  Being able to even consider one’s greatest extravagance is an extravagance few people really get to consider. I am humbled by how spoiled I am
  9. What do you consider the most overrated virtue? Any virtue in excess is overrated and tiresome
  10. On what occasion do you lie? if I think my words would hurt someone deeply.  I will try to tell the truth, but I may wait until I’ve formulated the message and/or the person is better prepared to hear.
  11. Dislike most about your appearance? Seriously?  Most days the list is too long to write here.  Some days though I realize that I’m being superficial and stupid and embrace what is.
  12. Which living person do you most despise? I’ve got some pretty strong feelings about our current commander in chief, but the verb is too strong.  I despise some of the decisions he has made, some of the beliefs he touts and I may not look at an orange in the same way again, but I hesitate to say that i despise anyone.
  13. Which words or phrases do you most overuse? Again, I deferred to those who speak with me the most…Andy offered up “I love you” a lot; Donna thinks I say ‘seriously?’; my kids think my most overused expressions are ‘will this matter to you in five years’, ‘who are you doing this for’, ‘everyone has to own their shit’ (see question 6)
  14. What is your greatest regret? Not getting my PhD or continuing with singing.
  15. What or who is the greatest love of your life?  Andy, my kids and my grandkids
  16. When and where were you happiest?  Snuggling with my granddaughters and listening to whatever they have to say
  17. Which talent would you most like to have? I wish I could draw.  My sister is uber-talented and has the kind of artistic talent that my mom also had.  Me?  I can draw a mean stick figure…
  18. If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?  I’d be physically healthier.
  19. If you could change one thing about your family, what would it be?  I’d see them more (and I see them a lot).  My sister would live in closer proximity (like upstairs).
  20. What do you consider your greatest achievement? Hands down growing up with my kids.  I realize that every parent says this and every parent means it.  But, is there anything one can achieve that parallels the enormity and magnificence of playing a part in someone else’s development as a human being?  And no joke, these men of mine are fabulous people. 
  21. What is your most treasured possession?  My wedding ring and my books
  22. What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?  Just thinking about anything unfortunate happening to those I love propels me to a place that is so dark and foreboding I have to quickly move away from this question.  I was truly miserable when I was sick, but I didn’t know how sick I was, so I don’t think it counts.
  23. Where would you like to live?  Wherever my family is of course…I’ve had the good fortune to travel to a slew of countries and have lived in many cities.  As trite as it sounds, wherever my heart is is where I want to live.
  24. What is your favorite occupation?  I know ‘mom’ isn’t an occupation, but it is the role I always wanted and exceeded my expectations when I became one.  I loved my career, even though it involved some plot twists I didn’t anticipate.  It might have been awesome to be on Broadway, but I didn’t have the ego (or the talent) for it.
  25. What is the quality you most like in a man? Humor, sensitivity, the ability to be present.
  26. What is the quality you most like in a woman? Humor, sensitivity, the ability to be present.
  27. What do you most value in your friends? Their ability to love me despite my flaws. My friends are trustworthy, smart, emotionally generous…and they like me.
  28. Who are your favorite writers? Seriously?  From which century?  Fiction or non-fiction?  Essayist or poet?  
  29. Who is your favorite hero of fiction? Again, there are too many coming to mind – Scout (To Kill A Mockingbird), Jo (Little Women), Charlotte (Charlotte’s Web), Max (Where The Wild Things Are), Ari (Exodus), any main character of Toni Morrison…I could go on…Holden Caulfield…
  30. What is it that you most dislike? Self-absorption
  31. Who are your heroes in real life? Greta Thornburg, Lizzo, John Lewis, Barack and Michelle Obama.  This is a pretty fluid list, and it changes with the day – right now the firefighters in Australia are coming to mind.
  32. How would you like to die? Very old, very healthy and happy while dreaming a delicious dream.
  33. If you were to die and come back as a person or thing, what do you think it would be? If I were to come back – wait a minute, I’m not going anywhere.
  34. What is your motto? “Say yes – save your no’s for when you really need them”
  35. Bonus Question: How did you find my blog? Kismet, pal, kismet.  Years ago when I first signed up for WordPress, I found you the first day and I’ve been at your mercy ever since.
  36. Bonus Question: Why do you keep coming back to this Blog?I agree with everyone who has already responded to this – your posts incite and excite, they are intriguing and thoughtful and at core, you write damn well.  For me though the reason is really more personal and you’ll think I’m crazy.  I immediately felt that I knew you, your work life, your family.  Not in a creepy way – we both worked in professional services, my parents lived nearby,  I grew up on the trains you take everyday.  And you pushed me to say something.  In your insistence and encouragement, I found some words to string together albeit lamely.  I come back each day because your blog is diverse and amazing – and because it’s yours.  

 


Notes:

  • Mimi is a virtual friend and faithful follower and kindly agreed to share her responses to the Proust Questionnaire. She has been with me from the beginning and I consider her a critical inspiration in this blogging effort.  And as you can see from her responses, she is something Special.  You can find her website and bio here: Waiting for the Karma Truck.
  • See prior Proust Questionnaires.
  • The Proust Questionnaire has its origins in a parlor game popularized (though not devised) by Marcel Proust, the French essayist and novelist, who believed that, in answering these questions, an individual reveals his or her true nature.  (Source: Vanity Fair)

Monday Morning Wake-Up Call


Don’t ask. Don’t ask how many times I’ve watched this loop.  Source: gifycat. Thank you Jack.

Sunday Morning

No opera, no gilded columns, no wine-dark seats…
no altos, no basses
and violins sobbing as one; no opera house,
no museum, no actual theatre, no civic center–
and what else? Only the huge doors of clouds
with the setting disc through which we leave and enter…
No masterpieces in huge frames to worship,
on such banalities has life been spent
in brightness, and yet there are the days
when every street corner rounds itself into
a sunlit surprise, a painting or a phrase,
canoes drawn up by the market, the harbour’s blue…
So much to do still, all of it praise.

~ Derek Walcott, from “No Opera” in White Egrets


Notes:

  • Poem Source – Cha Journal Blog. Image: Via Mennyfox55
  • Excerpt from “‘White Egrets” book review by Tom Payne in The Telegraph: “But some poems startle with their directness and truth; the images connect, and the ebbing tide leaves some real treasure on the beach. Among a handful of pearls is a love letter to his home, modest as Ithaca, with resonances of the poet’s life.”
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