Saturday, December 27, 2014

Not Quite So Far Fetched

Last night I thought I might be getting sick.  It would be a good evening to watch a movie, but then I remembered I had a book on CD from the library for over a month that I hadn't listened to.  It is called Running out of Time by Margaret Peterson Haddix.  Initially I thought the premise of the book a bit ridiculous (SPOILER ALERT - skip ahead if you want to read this book).  The book takes place in the 1800's, but then you learn the people are enacting a historical lifestyle so that tourists can come and witness life in that time.  The adults know the true date, but the kids growing up there do not.

Then I remembered I'd heard a story eerily similar to this while listening to SNAP Judgement on NPR last week.  It's about a movie set in the Ukraine where a similar thing was done.  People stopped acting and started living their lives on the set (and being filmed ALL the time).

(It's a 17 minute story.)

Okay so maybe the novel wasn't so far-fetched after all.

I woke up today grateful I had zero plans and could rest if needed.  I was also so happy to see all the snow.  On Christmas Day the ground was bare.  I signed up for a cross-country ski weekend at a nearby state park in early January and the prospects were not looking good. 

I've been resting most of the day.  I did enjoy going outside to shovel.  The snow is light and fluffy. Then I finished listening to the novel.

I sent a New Year's card to the three sisters who run the little retreat center I love as I know this is the last new year they will be there.  I also mentioned a great interview I heard with the Jesuit Priest James Martin on On Being on NPR last weekend.  It was refreshing!

Every once in a great while I try to do some research into retirement investing.  I have a friend's mother who treats investing like I treat playing the guitar.  She really enjoys putting time and energy into it.  I cannot match her enthusiasm, though I do appreciate having her as a resource.  Half the time when I ask her a question I do not understand her replies.  I think she gets excited and gives additional information that makes zero sense to me. 
Here is the beginning of an email she just wrote me
"Check the Beta out on each one
of the funds.  PRBLX has a lower
Beta than PARNX.  The lower the
Beta the less the stock will fall in
a BEAR market..."

I know neither what a Beta or Bear market is.  So it's not my thing, but every once in a while I still give it a try.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Just Give it Time

#1 – This may be the beginning of a song, or it may be all that comes.  Did I interrupt the flow to record and write this?

#2 – Confidently and peacefully refusing to send a work email today that didn’t make any sense to me.

#3 – They changed the email to something that I could send (because it made sense).

#4 – Not only was I out 3 of the last 4 evenings, I also exercised Monday-Thursday. This is rare, especially this time of year when the only outdoor exercise I want to do is cross-country ski and we don’t have snow.   

Maybe that is why I’m content to have a quiet evening at home, maybe start a song, eating a bowl of soup in the holiday lights.  The only sounds the refrigerator humming, a clock ticking and my fingers on this keyboard.

#5 -It's kind of funny because I want those lines to turn into a song, but then I just laughed at myself when I listened to the words again.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

A Path Appears

“If we want to nurture university graduates, maybe the most cost-effective way is to donate not to a college but to a nursery school or parent visitation program.  We wish more donors would endow not just professorships but also the jobs of nurses who visit at-risk parents (66).”  

A Path Appears – Transforming Lives Creating Opportunity by Nicholas D. Kristoff and Sheryl WuDunn.  

Kirstoff and WuDunn tell of an experiment where random people were given small amounts of money and then either told to use it as a gift/donation or spend it on themselves.    “When a researcher telephoned each participant for a follow-up, those assigned to spend money on others reported being significantly happier than those who spent it on themselves (it didn’t matter if it was $5 or $20) (239).”

They also write about this cool woman, Diana McDonough, who adored her 8 grandchildren yet became upset that by accident her beautiful and fragile granddaughter was born into privilege and others were not.  She started an organization with women who gave to far needier children whenever they gave something to their own grandchild.  Go Diana!!

Then there was an experiment where students were in a waiting room and a woman behind a screen was perceived as climbing on a chair to get something and then falling down.   She made sounds and said she was in pain/injured.  If the student was alone he/she helped 70% of the time.  However if someone else was in the room who seemed not to care the student helped only 7% of the time (194).  I can easily see myself as that student in the room – certain to help if alone, but easily dissuaded by others to ignore.  Walk through any major city and this can clearly be illustrated.

The captain of my mid-week soccer team strikes me as a kind-hearted person.  I thought it the first day I met him and I thought the same thing last night after our 4th game.  So I decided to send him an email today saying just that.   

I’ve been taking a vulnerability writing class which has made me especially aware of when I feel vulnerable.  And I did feel vulnerable sending that message, “What if he thinks I’m interested in him?  I don’t mean it that way, maybe I shouldn’t send it.  Is this weird?”  These were some of my  thoughts.  But no, it was a simple and kind observation so I sent it.  He replied, “Thanks for such kind words! Your message has brightened my day!” 

I'm making some homemade vegetarian lunch "meat", or rather, sandwich filling for the first time.  It is supposed to bake for 2 1/2 hours!  I guess I'll be pulling it out right before bed.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Star Stuff

When I was debating about joining a mid-week soccer team for early winter, one of my hesitations was that I would have to choose between my monthly poetry group and the game.  Today is one of the days, but it worked out.  I can go to an hour of poetry and then leave a little early and still get to my game.


I didn't want to write anything today beyond sharing a video passed on to me.  There are so many ways to ground ourselves and refocus.  We are so often out of touch with what really matters.  I know I become hurt or judgmental when someone I'm close to speaks to me in a condescending or angry tone of voice.  And yet if I can just rest in the space that I am surrounded by, the space that I am.  If I can just hear the pain behind that tone instead of reacting with my own. Everything changes.

Everything changes and we are changed by everything.  What does change look like today?  It is the quiet peace that washed over me both times I watched this video.  It is the sunlight in a pattern on the wall beside where I sit and type, almost in the form of a human - an arm outstretched to sky.  It is the echoes of what I've forgotten and the chorus of what I know.  It is taking the time and the space to let something pass through me that doesn't need to make sense nor be explained.

I sit in the awe of creation and am grateful to be reminded.  And I need this reminder -  again and again and again.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Every Exit Is

#1 - On Sunday I was thinking through my week and how it was probably going to be a challenge to get as much exercise as I like, and it is especially needed when I'll be taking long car rides and big meals. Today I went to an early morning yoga class and then got an email from someone looking for soccer subs tonight. Score! I wouldn't have gone to yoga if I knew I was playing soccer tonight, but since I didn't know, I'm doing both.

#2 - National Public Radio led me to I.C. Will, an assistant principal at a KIPP Washington Heights Middle School, and a rapper on the side. He kept the two separate at first, but now here is the video with kids from his school.

#3 - Along the "Exit" sign in the school it states,

"Every EXIT is an entrance somewhere else."

#4 - An argument between my brother and niece.  She was talking to me on speaker phone and we were discussing letters.  What starts with 'T'?  What starts with 'W'?  When we got to 'P' - Princess came out.

"I'm the princess," my brother said.

"No, I'm the princess," adamantly stated my niece.

"I'm the princess," my brother.

"You are not the princess.  I'm the princess," my niece.

"I'm the princess," my brother....

Eventually -

"We are both princesses," my niece.

#5 - Last month I really enjoyed a blog post by a woman Roxanne Sadovsky (whom I have taken writing classes with). She wrote "...writing is a lonely business and even though it's a deeply satisfying, beautifully puzzling, sometime life-changing, magical process of discovery, on the other side of the shore, when you set the pen down, it IS comforting to know that someone is out there reading, resonating, etc."

But sometimes it doesn't seem that way so then what is the point? She wrote through this internal struggle, is anyone reading this, does it matter, there is already so much to read.  In the end she landed on, "I'm reading my own damn blog."  Amen Roxanne. I have the same struggle at times and I am reading my own damn blog (and journal and poems...)

(Here is her post in case anyone is interested.)

And at the same time, it's still nice to receive an unexpected something like this -

"You're a fantastic writer. I very much appreciate your heart warming and spiritual perspectives. If you were to ramble on too long about your story it would be my pleasure."

These photos were taken last month on the one precious Minneapolis residential street without cars.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Headband, Hat and My Hood

I was feeling a bit sad late afternoon.  I googled Jason Mraz’s Sunshine song and listened twice.  A little later I put in his new CD and when Long Drive came on, I realized it would be even better to play along so I printed the tab and joined in.  I knew I needed to eat dinner and get ready to go, but I needed a little Mraz medicine first.

We’ve added a second monthly library poetry group.  For this one we pick a specific poet to focus on.  So far we’ve done Mary Oliver, Langston Hughes and today was Christina Rossetti.  I was curious if spending a while with her would change my opinion, but none of us were very enthusiastic.    One of her poems did teach me something though that thus far I’ve failed to memorize.  If you think of the moon as horns -  when the horns are facing East it is to increase (waxing) and when they are facing West, it will soon Rest (waning).  Also like the setting sun – resting in the West.  I hope to carry that with me when I look at the night sky.

The bus schedule does not line up well for the ending of poetry group – so in colder months I either need to leave early or walk/wait afterwards.   Today I walked a half hour towards home and then waited for the bus there.  I was perfectly content while walking,  dressed warm and there was no wind, but standing in place it is hard to maintain that. 

 I decided to play a game based off something I occasionally did in bed as a child in wintertime.  I’d remove all my covers and pillows.  Then I’d lay there for a bit, imagining having to sleep that way.  Then I’d pretend I’d been given a sheet.  I’d feel grateful for that sheet.  After a while, I’d pretend I’d been given a blanket, and I’d absorb how lucky I was to have that blanket.  I’d continue with each blanket separately in this manner and at some point when I felt relatively warm, add the pillow. 

Today, instead of blankets I decided to focus on my warm clothes.  This is what I came up with (it’s just audio).

This will not appear on a resume, nor impress anyone who asks what I “do”, which I find continually tiresome.  But it reminds me at least, for a moment, that I am doing something right.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Dinah on the old Banjo

#1 - I was waiting in a park where I was to meet my brother and sister-in-law to take my niece for the afternoon.  After an hour they still weren't there.  What was I doing?  I was strolling around singing, "Someone's in the kitchen with Dinah...Strummin on the old banjo."

#2 - Because my life has been pretty unscathed by major trajedy I don't go immediately into worryland in a such a situation.  Yeah they could have been in a car accident, but there were a million other things that also could have happened.  This was the case, they were getting their tire patched and there was a really long line.

#3 - Of course if I had a cell phone I could have found that out immediately, or been staring at a screen and checking my email at the park.  Instead I ate lunch, I strolled, I climbed the stairs over the railroad tracks, I I noticed the robins and tried to give them a stern look, "You'd better be moving southward, unless you know something I don't know."

#4 - We had a really fun soccer game today with a close score of 3 to 2.  We were passing really well and had the perfect amount of players.  I started a new team last week (on a different day) and it really helped/reminded me how much I appreciate my Sunday team.  It is a lot more fun playing with people you know (assuming you enjoy them of course, and I do.)

#5- I have some simple apple pie that I made for dinner last night packed with me to eat for dinner.  I could have had it for lunch, but I ate my pear instead so I saved it.  :)

Saturday, November 1, 2014


#1 - I thoroughly enjoyed a long walk today which would not have happened if not for certain limitations in my life. 

 The studio where I take yoga offers a yoga “nap” class a few Saturdays a year.  It is an hour and a half of complete relaxation.  I really enjoy the class; however I do NOT like biking to it.  The idea of climbing up a long gradual hill after becoming fully relaxed is totally unappealing to me.  I would dread going home.  So the first limitation that led to this walk is that I do not own a car.  I am certain that if I did, I would have simply driven.  The second limitation is the approaching winter.  I find changes in weather to be motivational as this is likely one of the last opportunities I’ll have to want to take a long walk.  In addition, I do not enjoy relaxation nearly as much if I have not exercised.  Add that to the fact that last night after trying to fall asleep for an hour, I ended up reading at least an hour more until I finally could.  I usually sleep really well, but occasionally such things happen.  I started wondering yesterday how much that has to do with exercise.  As in – I didn’t exercise yesterday, I couldn’t fall asleep.  

So as I finished my walk home today plenty warm in the sun and my layers in the cool weather, I was grateful for the limitations that led me to put one foot in front of another.

#2 – My mind is still pretty active in YogaNap, meandering here and there, flitting through inconsequential things.  However my body gets it by now.  It just dives right in, let’s go, open.  After class I spoke to the instructor a bit and mentioned I’d walked there.  “Do you want a ride home?”  If she’d asked me that a couple days ago I would have said, “Yes, great,” but at this point I was not only mentally prepared for the walk but would have felt disappointed if I didn’t do it.

#3 – I walked by a house where a football was at the end of the driveway at the curb.  It was behind their mini-van so could have easily been driven over.  I picked it up and tossed it toward the house, and because of the funky way footballs are shaped it bounced funny and almost hit the guy’s motorcycle.  I cringed and then the guy came around the corner and laughed and said “I thought one of the girls threw it.  Thank you.”

#4 – The book that I began reading last night, and continued with this morning, is Paulo Coelho’s latest Adulterio.  It’s been quite a while since I’ve read a book in Spanish, so I’m happy to be doing it and understanding what is happening for the most part.

#5 – I really appreciated an honest email written by a friend declining an invitation I sent to her.  I imagine it was difficult to write.  And I'm grateful she is being true to herself instead of trying to please me or other people.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Dad's Work

I was picking up my father after work today which is near the yoga studio where I do my bi-weekly cleaning work exchange.  I went over to start cleaning, but first I called him to see what time he would like to be picked up as he said he may be done early today.

“What is best for you?” he asked.

“Well I’d like to get an hour of cleaning done.”

“Ok.”  (#1)

So as I was enjoying cleaning on a Friday evening while  listening to the Krishna Das CD that goes with his book that I’m reading (#2), I started thinking about my father and how flexible he is about being picked up from work.

Then I started thinking about some things I have never heard him say.  “Thank God it is Friday.”  “I can’t wait for Friday.”  “I can’t wait for the weekend.”  “Not Monday again.”  “I can’t wait to have a few days off…..”  (#3)

Also whenever he has said, “I have to go into work early.”  or “I have to go back into work.”  or “I have to go into work Sunday morning to check on something.”  It has always been stated as a pure and simple fact.  There is never any sort of tone of complaint in it (#4).  This is how I grew up and it is only today that it is dawning on me that these are qualities of a bodhisattva.

So I mention these things to him when I pick him up, the phrases I’ve never heard him utter.  He responds in a somewhat ominous tone, “Well, Tammy, I’m a lot luckier than other people.” (#5)

Yes of course this is completely true.

It is also just as true that there are plenty of people as “lucky” as him, that would still, find plenty to complain about.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Move Me Slow

Yesterday after a genetic counseling appointment I planned to walk along the Mississippi river. But after the appointment, I felt vulnerable and just wanted to go straight home (even though everything was completely fine).

I’m taking a vulnerability writing class once a month, and one of the things the instructor asked us to do is keep a “vulnerability” journal - to write down when we feel vulnerable and what we do with that feeling.  Yesterday what I wanted to do is go straight home and/or seek comfort from someone who cares about me.  But it was a beautiful day and I had this walk plan. and I had my camera with the intention of taking a leisurely, not exercise, walk.  I just looked at the photos for the first time and wow.  It reinforces/reminds me what a beautiful place it is that I live.  It’s so easy to forget to notice.

After my walk I went to hear someone who works for the city of Minneapolis talk about trees.  Apparently one third of the city is covered by trees.  20% of those are green (I think it’s green) ash which will die in the next 10 years from emerald ash borer (a non-native invasive species).  The city has slowly begun cutting them down and replacing them.  He said they’ve learned to not rely so heavily on one type and that the University of MN is working on different varieties.  I asked, “Aren’t there enough native varieties to choose from?”  He seemed not to think so, which I found slightly perplexing.  “Maybe not enough native trees that stand up well in an urban environment?”  I wondered.  It was interesting regardless.

Earlier this week I was singing as I was cooking and I thought, “This might be a good place to record a song, I think the acoustics are good behind the stove.”  So tonight I did.  This is a brand new one.  I didn’t have the initiative to spend much time figuring out better lighting, however I do think the sound is improved.

I listened to Elizabeth Gilbert on Oprah Winfrey’s Super Soul Sunday.  I especially recommend the second show.

I’m almost packed to spend the weekend at a little retreat center run by three incredible Franciscan sisters.  It is a simple, beautiful, peaceful, nourishing place and I’m grateful to take advantage of it.  I haven’t used my watercolor paints in years, but I threw them in a bag and intend to pull them out at least once, along with a guitar, journal, poetry and Walden.  I successfully restrained myself from finishing Walden because I wanted to save some of it to read there.