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.