Discernment: One-Liner Wednesday

dance with Doug

Discernment is a dance of knowing when to tap loudly across a stage in charisma and when to soft step a delicate ballet across the ice that only comes with the experience of trial and error. 

–Lisa

This week’s quote comes from Lisa at Underground Energy.

 

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This post is part of One-Liner Wednesday and is my post for Day 6 of JusJoJan.

 

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Friend or Foe: Reacquainting with the Beast

socs-badgeThis week is the one-year anniversary of Stream of Consciousness Saturday. I’ve loved this weekly prompt, even though I haven’t participated every week. Sometimes, when nothing else can motivate me, I look forward to this prompt to break the logjam of ideas.

This week Linda writes:

As a special feature for February’s Stream of Consciousness Saturday, The Bee and I have decided to collaborate! As you may know, on her site – Just Fooling Around with Bee – a month-long blog-hop is going on in recognition of Love, called “Love Is In Da Blog.” The week 4 prompt is Love in friendship.

Then she adds: Your Friday prompt for Stream of Consciousness Saturday is: acquaint and/or friend.

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And now, I write:

I apologize to my male readers in advance, but when I personify something that gives me a lot of grief, I automatically make it male. So the character that I introduce in this post has had a male identity in my mind for the last 20 years. It might be time to revisit that decision, but not today.

Thirty years ago, after the birth of my third child, I realized something was wrong. I don’t know exactly when it happened that I had stopped caring about things, when I started simply going through the motions of getting through the day. But on that particular day, I looked out the window of the living room, and knew that things didn’t add up. If everyone had as lethargic as I did,  no one would be out moving around outside. Yet, when I looked out the window, people WERE moving around.

And at the age of 30, I was diagnosed with  depression. It’s possible that it was part of me before that, but we had not been formally introduced. Since that time, the depression has been a rather consistent companion. I used to believe that if I worked hard enough, I could get him to leave. I saw him as an intruder, a thief who robbed me of happiness and motivation. On quite a few occasions, I’ve convinced myself that I had successfully overcome it, and would congratulate myself on being back to “normal,” but after several times of crashing into the depths again, I knew I needed a different approach.

So after 12 years of battling him as an enemy to be defeated, I named him and accepted his commitment to our relationship. I decided to try to “make friends” with him, or at least negotiate some kind of truce so that we could co-exist. Since The Beast (as I not-so-affectionately name him) is convinced he wants to stay around, I/we established  a few ground rules for our relationship. I agreed to stop trying to evict him, and his bids for attention have become less intense–most of the time.

Interestingly, I can usually put on a good face no matter how I feel, especially if I have an obligation to meet. More often than not, people who see me (especially at work), have no idea that I’m battling The Beast. As a result, people (who do find out) are often surprised to learn I’m dealing with The Beast. For example, during my second year in Taiwan, I had a total knee replacement. When I was meeting with my orthopedic surgeon beforehand, we went over my medications, and he expressed something close to shock: “YOU are being treated for depression?” 

In my role as teacher and mentor, there are times when students are also surprised to find out that I understand depression so intimately. When students come to me with motivation problems or depressive symptoms, I am able to help them, often by simply sharing part of my own story.  They are so surprised to learn that it is something I deal with. In fact, sometimes I recognize symptoms in students before they realize that something isn’t quite right. When I’m able to ask them a few questions, and I see the recognition in their eyes, I don’t mind so much that I’ve spent the time with the Beast. Who would have thought that The Beast was serving me well in this unexpected way?

I don’t think I will ever refer to The Beast as a friend, but I no longer treat him as the enemy. I look for ways to keep most of his drama at bay, so I can still get the things done that need to be done. However, sometimes his cries for attention come at the most inopportune times. When that happens, I try to think of him as a part of me that is missing something that he needs, something that I’m forgetting to give myself. I don’t let him control my life, but I don’t try to pretend he doesn’t exist or ignore his pleas for help. I like to think that this attitude is what has made it easier to get along with The Beast. We’re both a little more understanding.

80 days until 60!

If you’d like to participate in this week’s challenge, here are the links.

http://lindaghill.com/2015/02/27/special-edition-friday-prompt-for-socs-february-2815/

https://justfoolingaroundwithbee.wordpress.com/2015/02/22/love-is-in-da-blog-february-ping-back-post-rulessuggestions-week-4/

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Gone Fishing!

me and cat on wallOK, maybe not exactly fishing, but I’m going to be absent from Blogland for a few days. I’ve now posted daily for over 40 days, and I’ve achieved several of my crazy blog goals that I set for August–knowing it would be the last month I had to devote that much time to blogging for a while. During the next few days, I will not be writing for my blog or posting on my blog. In addition, after the next 12 hours (a little time tonight and a little time tomorrow morning), I will not be visiting, commenting, or liking other blogs (unless I slip off the wagon) until my return toward the end of next week.

During these next few days, I will be focusing on a few deadlines and projects that need my attention. To be honest, blogging is more rewarding than some of the projects I need to do. The “responsible” part of me had considered a long-term leave from the blog, but the “rational” part of me vetoed that crazy idea. I learn so much about myself while blogging, and I am unwilling to give up the community that exists among the bloggers I interact with. My life would be so much less without blogging and the people I have met because of it. So I’m taking a short break–just a few days–to try to make sense of my schedule in a way that allows me to get things done and to honor this blogging thing, which has become so much more than simply a hobby to engage in only when I can squeeze it in.

During August, I intentionally made blogging a priority. I’m hoping that by telling myself that I’m taking a break, I won’t say to myself (16 times a day), “Oh, I could blog about that.” And I won’t be asking my husband, “Oh, could you get some pictures of that.” In other words, taking a break is intended to remove blogging (which I really enjoy) from the forefront of my thoughts as I figure out how it fits into my life during the normal schedule.

To help with my blogging withdrawal, I will spend some time doing some sewing on the quilt top for the summer mystery quilt challenge. Hopefully, I can begin to do some regular drawing practice. Or at least, alternate it with Zentangle. But my main focus is to create a schedule for the coming academic year that provides a balance between what must be done and what I want to do.  Such a schedule may be too big a project for a week, but I will see how far I can get, while knocking off a few things on the project to-do list.

I have a couple of blogging “questions” that you can help me with, if you are so inclined. First, I would be interested in how other people organize the reading of and commenting on other blogs. Do you have a system that you would care to share? Some of you seem to get around much more than I do, even when I spend some dedicated time on it. So any suggestions would be welcome.

When I come back (probably on September 4th or 5th), I hope to have a blog plan. The free-flowing thing I’ve been doing may become more structured. It may not. If you have any preferences about which of my posts you enjoy reading the most, I would be delighted if you would let me know in the comment section. You can choose as many as you wish. I’ve listed a few that you can refer to by number (see purple list below). Or if you have other ideas, that’s fine too. This is also a good place to ask questions if you have any curiosities about me. Although, I’m sure that’s not very likely. Right?  😉

1. Responses to challenges where you learn random things about me?
2. Posts about Life in Taiwan?
3. More about my family and the experiences that got me here?
4. Quilting and creativity?
5. The eclectic mix that I currently do?
6. A decluttering challenge.

OK, thanks for all your support. Your comments will help me as I figure out my blog plan.

I’ll see you in about a week!  🙂

261 days til 60!

I Dreamed Too Small

IMG_0345Sometimes, small is good. Like our great little dog, who is a delight to have around. I never expected to have a dog EVER, but here I am with a dog that was rescued from the street. She may be small, but she’s still awesome in my book. But not all things should be small.

In last week’s Share Your World, there was a question a gift I’d like. As I will explain in this post, I decided I needed to revisit that question before going on to this week’s questions. I was surprised to realize that even when I know better, I still have a tendency to think small.

When Cee asked to consider what gift we would like to receive (anything). Upon thinking about it for a couple of days, I thought it would be great to have a place to pursue my quilting art and creativity for a period of time in a retreat or studio experience. Here is the question and my actual response from that post.

If you could be given any gift what would it be?

A year-long stay at a quilting/art colony with a fully stocked studio and access to fabric, as well as a couple other artists to brainstorm and collaborate with. But I could still be ecstatic with a month or two.  🙂

But then a couple days later, I was out walking, and that’s when it occurred to me that if I could choose any gift, I really should be thinking much larger. And I got caught on that post. Don’t get me wrong. I love quilting and art-making in general. I love making music. The idea of having a place where I could really pursue those activities is awesome. It’s the second part of the “gift” that I really missed. I mentioned that I would like a few other artists there with whom I could interact. Duh!

Many people have memories of doing creative things as a child. But we often put those things aside as we “grow up.” No time. Or we got the idea that we weren’t necessarily good at it. Or as we got older, we might have been told that there was no way to make a living with that kind of thing. Whatever the reason, we may have pushed artistic expression underground.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI have been fortunate to rediscover some of my childhood passions as well as discover several new ones. I sometimes don’t give enough time and attention to these artistic pursuits, but I recognize their importance. As a result, I want to make adjustments in my life that open up my participation in creative expression.

My dream is to help people uncover or rediscover their artistic and creative dreams. I want to help people to want to dream big, whether it be starting a graphic design business, painting, designing clothing, woodworking, writing, illustrating, creating a unique restaurant, or something totally off the beaten track. Even if it can’t be done all at once, we can take baby steps toward getting creative expression in our lives, baby steps that put us in motion toward the big pictures.

When I first answered the gift question last week, I got so caught in the everyday aspects of life that I forgot to look at my big picture. By not having that in my line of vision, I asked for a gift that was nice, but was still limited–both in scope and in its influence.

My new answer to the question?

If you could be given any gift what would it be?

A residential retreat center with room for classes, studio space, and equipment to help myself and others find space to create and experience art in all its forms. And an assistant to help with all the administrative details, so that I can do creative coaching, teach classes, and explore artistic possibilities.

How often I limit myself from accomplishing what I could be doing by thinking small. The Farther to Go! exercises and materials has given me the tools to change that. I just have to keep focused on the ideas I’ve gotten along the way. If I do, I will remember that the path to a life rich in creative expression is to think big and keep moving on those baby steps.

269 Days to 60!

 

600 Days to 60: An Update

Image courtesy of fotographic1980 / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of fotographic1980 / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Several months ago, I began keeping track of how many days it would be until by 60th birthday. I wanted a way to really pay attention to my life–my goals, my intentions, what I wanted in the big picture. I see 60 as a big milestone, and I wanted to use the time leading up to it to accomplish things that could be celebrated at my 60th birthday party. Yes, I’m planning a party.  🙂

 

It was back on September 25, 2013 that I posted my first mention of 600 Days to 60. Here are a few excerpts from that post.

Several months back, I discovered a blog, 400 Days to 40. Even though I found the blog rather late in her 400 days, it got me to thinking that I might like to try something similar for my next milestone. So I calculated (and recalculated) to find the magical day on which I would launch my new blog, 600 days to 60.

In the end, I decided not to launch a new blog. After several months of maintaining a pretty good schedule with Container Chronicles, I started posting less and less. By September, (when it was time to launch), there was no reason to start a new blog, but just incorporate the idea into my current blog. Back to the original post:

I’ve decided that I’m not looking at this 600 days to 60 as a count-down, but rather a count-up! I want to think of these next 600 days as a journey to find the best version of me there is to find. It will be a process of excavation and checking the foundation, and finding new ways to create and decorate. It will be a time of new keywords and of intentions that challenge and revitalize me. A time of decluttering, revisioning, and finding clarity. My intention is that this journey allows me to find what is important and discard the rest as I move forward toward a life full of vibrant possibility.

Well, parts of that have gone ok, but there is a long way to go. I want to refocus my attention on the original hopes I had for such a project. Over the next few days, I am going to review the posts that highlight the tracking I have done. And reconsider and restate the specific activities that I want to participate in during the remaining days until the celebration. 

The moment is now. 600 days to 60!

It may not be as poetic, but the moment again is NOW!

281 days to 60!

 

 

A question of balance?

Your Friday prompt for Saturday’s Stream of Consciousness post is, end your post with a question. Extra points if you fit an exclamation mark somewhere in the body of your post.

newyear's 2010 002A week to pick our own topic. How to get started. What will I write about? I could write about the fact that this week hasn’t gone according to plan. It hasn’t been a bad week, unless you judge it solely on how much of my weekly list got accomplished. However, there is more to life than a to-do list. I know that. Still, I’d like to be closer to catching up.

On the other hand, today and nearly every day this coming week has social events scheduled. Not my choice, yet they are all important, and they are all time sensitive. In other words, they can’t be put off.

If I had a third hand, I’d be focusing some time on the big picture and what is really reasonable to have on a to-do list over the next 7 weeks. Maybe I should choose just a few significant things (however I decide to define that), and allow lots of down time to do things I find relaxing and rewarding, like more quilting and other creative endeavors.

I realize as I am writing this, that the cloud of apathy that has been my constant companion for a while now might possibly be dissipating. Even if it’s just beginning, that would be great news. It also means that once again, SofCS has helped me make a realization that breaks down the “logjams” that exist in my head (and in my physical environment). Writing is amazing!

So, now I’m thinking that it’s time for a fourth hand that would take a day away from the expected and do some writing and exploring of all the things floating around in my head. In that way, I may discover a fifth hand that I hadn’t thought of. After all, I can let my subconscious mull all of this stuff over for a couple of days, and then see what nuggets of insight it will provide if I just take the time to write and listen to it.

So, I’m taking comments and suggestions. I suspect I know how this will go, but I’ll ask anyway. If you were in my situation, what would you do?

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This post is part of SofCS: http://lindaghill.wordpress.com/2014/07/25/the-friday-reminder-and-prompt-for-socs-july-2514/

If We Were Having Coffee: The One That Almost Wasn’t

admin-ajax.phpI haven’t done one of these since the end of June. I almost called this: The July Edition, but I think I do want to get back to doing this on some kind of schedule. So with any luck, there will be one more before the month ends, but no promises. So grab your cup of coffee, tea, or whatever strikes your fancy, and let’s get started.

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If we were having coffee,I’d tell you that . . .

. . . today, we finally have our new bedroom air conditioner! It was installed early this afternoon, and it’s already heavenly. I may have to move my computer and sewing machine in there for the duration of the summer. We’ll see.

If we were having coffee,I’d tell you that . . .

. . . I’m frustrated that I haven’t been having coffee with you lately. I would tell you that I have kept hoping I would find some motivation to care about things. I want to feel excited about something. I want to have something to look forward to.  I want to CARE about something, almost anything.

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you that . . .

. . . my blog is about the only activity keeping me connected to people at the moment. It is the only drive I feel, writing something every day, so that I feel that I am accomplishing something in spite of myself. I still get a few other things done, but it is not the whirlwind of productivity I thought I’d be involved in at this point.

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you that . . .

. . . I’ve just been invited to go the Yingge Ceramic Museum tomorrow. You can read the blog post from my first trip there in early 2013. I’d rather keep to myself tomorrow, but I think getting out in the world to do something that others consider fun might be good for me. Afterwards, we’re going to a coffee shop to do some zentangling and hanging out. With any luck, there will be photos.

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you that . . .

. . . things will eventually work themselves out, and I’ll be back to feeling like my normal optimistic self, but for now, I’m going to ride this out and look forward to our next coffee.

Finally, if we were having coffee, I’d tell you that . . .

. . . I really appreciate your willingness to have coffee with me even when I’m not all cheery and full of good news. Your friendship means the world to me.

Emoting about Emotions: SofC Saturday

I was reluctant to even start writing about this prompt. It’s a sensitive subject for me. Maybe it’s because I emote. I emote with feeling–with emotion. However, I’m not the only one who does it. Yet, there are many times when some of the people around me act as if I’m the only one that does. Sometimes, the people who most seem to go over the deep end about my emoting are the ones I’d just as soon avoid when something strikes them as significant.

The thing about my emotions is they are reactive. Something happens, I react, and then I move rather quickly into thinking mode. I come up with potential solutions or possibilities. I calm down. I don’t carry things with me for very long–at least, not in general. There is no one who wants to solve the dilemmas that brought about that emoting more than I do. I would prefer to have fewer feelings or to at least experience them less intensely.

I try to save the negative emoting for things that are important–people being disrespectful or demanding, for example. I am frustrated by people who call me emotional at the times when I am standing up for myself. Because the reality is, most of the time, I go along with things. I adjust, I adapt, I go with the flow. Sometimes, I do those things even after I’ve emoted a little about how I would appreciate some appreciation. Unfortunately, it seems the more I go with the flow, the more disrespect I encounter.

Not too many people complain about the positive emoting I do. Well, that’s not entirely true. People often appreciate my enthusiasm, my sense of humor, my optimistic attitude. But I think what the real “problem” is that I’m a little intense. When I’m enthusiastic, it’s contagious–usually. And if you feel like joining in, it takes a lot of energy. This isn’t always too much of a problem when the emoting is positive, but I think that maybe when it’s negative, some people are a little intimidated. Maybe, it’s a little scary. (Hopefully, not as scary as the photo on the right.)

Unfortunately, the times when I’m negatively emoting are the times when I most need people on my side. And well, you can imagine how well that goes. But after writing this post this morning, something happened this afternoon that kind of got me going. But I walked away. Totally. I mapped out how I would handle it. I emoted to myself. I didn’t bottle it up so much. I allowed myself to feel the things. I just didn’t share the feelings. And a moment came when I could let it go. I may not even emote to anyone else. I know that the person who triggered the feelings didn’t do it intentionally. By giving myself private emoting time, I came to a new discovery. Also, it helps knowing that this person always has my best interests at heart. Which is more than I can say about some of the other things that sometimes trigger my feelings.

Still, I’m trying to focus on the positive things, and bring all the feelings–the negative and the positive–into a better balance, to conserve my energy for the things that matter more than these moments of unexpected emoting.

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This is part of a weekly prompt from: http://lindaghill.wordpress.com/2014/06/27/the-friday-reminder-and-prompt-for-socs-june-2814/

Location! Location! Location! AtoZ April Challenge

a-zchallengeI could have titled this post: I LOVE THIS PLACE! But it only had one L and I didn’t want to be subtle about which letter was being featured today. And this wasn’t the post I originally had planned for today. But Luscious Lavender will have to wait until another day. I changed my plan because I noticed an interesting phenomenon in the last few days. Several people I know have been on vacation and school breaks (not where I am), but I’ve heard of the concept.  😉

What I’ve seen in Facebook comments and blog posts is that people would love to go back to the place where they vacationed. They fell in love, they want to move, they see some greener pastures. After I came to the third reference of this type, I realized I wanted to write about it.

Of course, I’m all for finding a place where you belong and can be happy. I have a friend who went on a vacation about 12 years ago, fell in love with the area, and put a plan into motion to relocate to that area. And while no place is perfect 100% of the time, she has discovered that the place is perfect for her, and she wouldn’t go anywhere else.

But in general, I wonder if the places we visit on vacation are appealing simply because they have what we don’t have at home. A sense of space, of options, a change in the routine. It intrigues me because it seems to take us away from the present moment to dreaming about some future location we will never really be able to achieve. Or perhaps never should achieve. For some, it could be running from one unresolved situation to another. I’ve moved enough in my life to know that no matter how beautiful the spot, it can seem dreary at times. On the other hand, places that most people would consider less than ideal can hold the perfect home and situation for a person to flourish.

Wishing to be someplace other than where we are can sap our energy and reserve. I know because now that I’ve made the decision to move back home to the US in the summer of 2015, I sometimes long for it. And I have to stop and remind myself that I don’t want to wish away the present moment. I have another 15-16 months in Taiwan, and I want to make the most of them. Taiwan is lovely, and there is much to see and do. And while I look forward to my return to the US, this is my home now.

I love my apartment. I love the people. I love teaching. So while there are things that frustrate me, I’m focusing on the things I love. And when I get to the US, I don’t want to be reaching back to the past, wishing I had done more here. Or wondering where I’m going to go next. I want to live in the moment, and that includes appreciating the place that I call home at that moment.

What about you? Are you happy where you are? Do you have plans to move? Have you found a place that truly feels like home?

 

Detours: AtoZ April Challenge

a-zchallengeSo many ideas, so many plans, and it seems that one should be able to map a path to the destination one wants and just go from point A to point B. Of course, one would expect a reasonable number of glitches and obstacles to navigate along the way to impede one’s progress (hopefully only temporarily). But for some reason, Life’s not that easy. But the lack of direct routes from our ideas to our imagined destinations has both its good and bad points.

We all know the bad points. The perceived waste of time and resources as we seemingly roam without purpose or direction. Years can pass, and we are left to wonder where all the time went, and why we don’t have more to show for it. But that attitude ignores the good points, which are the amazing discoveries and activities we can enjoy during these wanderings.

I have rarely taken a direct route anywhere. And for the most part, that’s ok with me. The side trips of my life are what have added color and texture that I may not have found any other way. All the planning in the world would never have brought me to Taiwan. In fact, it’s hard to think of myself imagining anything like teaching writing in a foreign country. So if I couldn’t have imagined the life I’m living now, I couldn’t have plotted my way to it.

So, while I can’t say I’d want to totally avoid the twists and turns along the path I’ve travelled, sometimes, it seems that I could have saved myself a little time and grief along the way. Sometimes, I see a nice glittery idea and I jump in and go with it, not realizing that it is likely to take me miles and miles out of my way, and add months–if not years–to my travel schedule. It took me until I was nearly 50 to get my B.A. And it may take me a few more years to build the part of my life that I am now dreaming about. But it’s ok. I’m going to make sure I enjoy the journey as I travel toward the destination.

As there is less time left in this journey then when I started, I want to find a little balance in how much diversion I add to the trip. Less glitter, more substance. I want to enjoy the side trips, but maybe I will take fewer of them. I want to explore new ideas, but I will be more selective about which ones make the cut. I will take on less, so that what I do take on can be more fully enjoyed. But whenever something unexpected comes along in the course of my travels, I will look for the unexpected delight and not just see the inconvenience. Detours can lead to unexpected delights. I’m willing to see where they lead.