Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Word of the Year

It's a tradition, celebrated here and there around the internet. I joined the yoginis over at YogaLila in this undertaking. Last year my word was "emerge," which turned out to be fairly prescient. The word, of course, signifies an intention and a point of view for the coming year. Which means that it is important to choose a good word, whatever that might mean. Yet whatever it means, assigning the process such importance guarantees that I will fret and fuss until I am satisfied with my choice. Things are right on schedule here.

My dear friend Lianne suggested "architecture." I mused for alarmingly long about the relative merits of verbs vs. nouns for the word of the year. (Seriously, is there no end to my geekery??) While still, I must tell you, slightly preferring verbs in these matters, I am going with "architecture."

This word works on several levels. First and foremost, I am dedicating much of this year to building the underpinnings, the foundations, of this new life that I want. I have a tendency to go for the visible over the structural. I will buy the pictures to hang on a wall that I have yet to paint.... that sort of thing. To me, this backwards sort of process actually works. By doing the little, easy thing, I've moved the project forward, making it real and visible. So then it becomes more likely that I actually will paint the wall -or whatever the task of the day is.

Well, now I have both real and metaphorical walls to paint. I want to continue emerging as a scholar, as a friend, as a sibling, generally as a grown-up in my own story. I want to do the work that will allow me to be an athlete again. (Building muscle... get it?) And I have real, architectural work to do on my house, in order to make it more fully mine. On some level, this work isn't sexy. How much can really be said about sending manuscripts in, getting a new furnace, or ripping up and rearranging you-know-who's gardens?

Being me, I will find something to say, I suppose ;) But really, to me, these projects are exciting. And there will be enough froufy details to keep me enchanted with the process, I'm sure.

Sleeping Around


OK, I'm over it. What this is really about is where I traveled this year. Here's 2008's summary: sleeping. It was good given the circumstances, but things are looking up in the adventure department.

This year included:
  • Washington, D.C.
  • Hummesltown, PA
  • Birmingham, AL
  • Greenwood, MS
  • San Gimignano, Italy
  • Beloit, WI
  • Oranjestad, Aruba
  • Chicago, IL

And that doesn't count miscellaneous on-the-road stops in hotels on the way to somewhere else. And actually, it seems like there were more trips, but that's all I can account for.

Trips I know about in 2010: Washington, DC, New York City, San Diego.... It's possible that my sisters and I will get together for a beach trip. And I have Cape Cod on my mind as another beach trip. We'll see what shows up this time next year.

Monday, December 28, 2009

You'll See It When You Believe It

OK, for many MANY reasons I don't actually believe the title of this post. If it were, strictly speaking, true, no child would ever be sick, no perfect prayer would go unanswered, no selfless cause would remain unacknowledged by the universe's powers. I certainly do not want to be involved in an insidious The Secret-like process of blaming people for not believing fervently enough.

And yet, there is an element of truth to the statement for more mundane beliefs and hopes. When we believe we can do something, we do it. And sometimes, if we don't know we can't, we just do that thing anyway. Belief and manifestation are not entirely unrelated, I think.

And it's that time of year for me. I know that it's chic to forgo New Year's Resolutions. Mostly they are broken and forgotten. Worse, they sometimes become whips for people to beat themselves with. And seriously, who needs more of that? Not I, said the cat. (That's a quote from the Little Red Hen -a quote my mother and sister and I each use quite a lot.) But we have in this blog already established that I LOVE New Year's resolutions.

I like to think of possibility and hope and moving forward and claiming power that is authentically mine (as opposed to power taken at someone else's expense.) With Anne of Green Gables, I like to think that "tomorrow is a new day with no mistakes in it yet" And with Anne, I admit, I stand in wide-eyed wonder, looking at a world that leaves so much scope for the imagination.

So, in that spirit, I am picking up my colored pencils, my glue stick, my journal and pen, as well as my thoughts and hopes, and turning my thoughts to the coming year. How will I be different this time next year? How will I be closer to my goals? (And have I mentioned what a delight it is to actually have goals again, for the first time in forever?) How will the world be a tiny smidge better because I spent those 365 days on the planet? How will I be more grounded and more willing to fly, all at the same time?

My goals are a mixture of the mundane and the important -tending slightly toward the mundane, truth be told. I want to become a 5.8 climber. This is the definition of mediocrity in the rock climbing world. Tragically, it would be an improvement for me. Enough said ;) I want to paint my walls and buy furniture. I want to play with my children and my kitties. And yet, I have the chutzpah (I almost wrote "balls" but I have just spent several days in the American South where we do not speak like that. Possibly it will rub off on me, this gentility thing. Hush there, in the cheap seats. It could happen.) to hope that I can make an important contribution. Can homeless people and refugees be better off because I turned my thoughts to their situation? Can I figure out this forgiveness thing that eludes me -because I really do want to be that person? Can I become other things that I still hold close to my heart and only speak in a whisper?

So... pick up your pencils and open your blue books ;) It's time to get to work. What are you hoping for? Write it down. Dare to dream it, first. Then, if you dare, speak it. (This part is harder.) Then, with Anne and the cherry tree outside her bedroom window, bloom as if you mean it.

What's on your list? I'll post mine as it develops.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Dottiness Abounds

I'm getting ready to leave town for Christmas. I'm leaving the house and its resident kittens well supervised, but I'm still feeling worried. And of course, there are two essential decisions to be made prior to any trip: the playlist and the knitting.

I have the Christmas music queued up on the iPod and the knitting project has revealed itself. Dottiness for the dotty:

It's called the Dotty Cat Bed, designed by Kelly Porpiglia from Kelp!. It's a free download, and I bought yarn to make two. I'm thinking if the girl-child's cat wants one, though, she can have one, too.

So, with those two things taken care of, I'm now freed up to deal with trivialities such as an oil change, and a new sticker for the car, and clean clothes. Details! Pish-posh. The important stuff is done.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

2008's 18-month List

It all should have been done 6 months ago:

(Bold equals done)

Weigh 110 by August (N's graduation)
Train for a triathlon –whether or not you do one!
GITAP (long-distance bike ride)
Daily yoga practice
Have people over for brunch regularly
Build a wine collection
Keep a bottle of good champagne in the fridge
Find a neighborhood bar

Exercise 6 days a week
Maintain relationship with Sarah the wonder-hair-dresser
Rock climbing –the goal is weekly climbing, but I’d settle for twice a month –in March, become a member
Get better work clothes
resume daily riding as soon as the weather allows

go the gym at least three days a week
set up workout room and yoga space

Figure out a way to do this relationship demise thing gracefully and how to survive it.
Send birthday cards
Get an address book
Update it
Write to out of the area friends
Update emergency contact information
Get a will and advanced health care directives
Update funeral arrangements

Buy the house
Get a new furnace and central air

Re-create the gardens
Buy some new furniture -new couch and some outdoor furniture
Focus on safety, security, and grace

Professional; Financial; Educational
Re-learn to do a cartwheel
Take a few yoga workshops
Think about the next job –craft the plan

Write the preemie knits book
Get the preemie pattern book published
Work for the 18 months I promised at Hesed House.
At 12-month anniversary, start looking for the next thing. Keep working until you find it.
Keep planning interesting things at the yarn shop.
Attend an international conference.
Keep the idea of a social justice institute alive in your heart and mind -what can you do to make it a reality?
Retirement planning, in this brave new single world :(

Spiritual; Communal
Find a volunteer opportunity that nurtures you and does some good.
Buy flowers once a month
Join a book club
Donate blood
Become an NPR member
Get back to buying organic and fair trade whenever possible
Advocate for bicycling in town and elsewhere
See if Newman can still be your spiritual community -haul your sorry self back to church!
Reconnect with almost-lost friends
Nurture connections with all friends
Daily meditation as part of yoga practice

Expeditional; Recreational
Go to the movies once a month
Travel outside of the US
See live music and dance
Stay up dancing until the wee hours of the morning
Sib trip

Start planning for a volunteer vacation –internationally
Figure out a way to go to an international conference.
Save for Tuscany trip

I'm pretty okay with this, especially given that some of this undone stuff is well under way. I've started the preemie knits book. I'm exercising and doing yoga again. Moreover, I did huge stuff that wasn't even on the list. So the fact that I haven't yet joined a book club... well. I can live with that.

Being me, my mind is turning to the next guideline for my time. So, I thought that revisiting the current one would be the intellectually honest thing to do. Now to decide if those undone things are all still really goals.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The Christmas Letter

Dear Ones,

I hope all is well in your world. I look forward to hearing from you this Christmas –and any other time, of course.

This year, like last, had a little heartbreak for me. My divorce was final in February. We all know dozens of people who survive that, and of course I have survived it, as well. Christmas letters are, by tradition, recitations of success and glory, so I won't burden you with a recounting of that appalling process. The real story is that this year has not, in the end, been about heartbreak at all -a truth which leads me straight to you. I have learned a small measure of confidence and a large measure of love because you held them for me when I could not and offered them to me when I needed them. Thank you for that. You are the bright spot in this year, and that’s the truth!

So, now I get to meet the challenge of thriving rather than merely surviving. That process is a delight. I have purposely kept the pace a little wild, figuring that it would be healthier in the short-term to stay busy. I’m working on some research that is important -to me, anyway. It has to do with social justice and transformational learning applied to the population of refugees and to the questions of forced migration. I am still rock climbing. I am absolutely unexceptional at that, but I get a kick out of it anyway. I also love my job –which was new last Christmas. I am still learning it, which makes me a little crazy. I am repairing, decorating, and generally tending to my wonderful old house. The garage has been torn down and will be re-built –well, eventually. I have a new super-efficient furnace and central air, which is altogether new for this old barn. I am turning the rooms to new uses, entertaining in new ways, and generally claiming the house as mine. Well, I share it with the two new kittens, Claddagh and Cillian, who keep me nicely humble. I have done some traveling for work and pleasure: New York City, Washington, D.C. and a tiny little village in Italy.

So now I know that I can do all those things. This coming year will be about slowing down a little and steadily building the infrastructure that will hold this new life and its dreams up. I am ready now to meet quietness and calm with delight rather than fear.

Send me e-mail. Call me. Come by for a visit. I really do want to know how it is all going for you! You are in my thoughts and prayers, always.

Have a wonderful, joyous Christmas!


Sunday, December 13, 2009

The Star in the Midwest -The Stellated Dodecahedron

We've covered that I'm reclaiming Christmas and deciding what it's going to be for me in this new life. I'm still discovering what's what, in that department. But as you know, I have a tree.
That tree has ornaments and there's a tree skirt, and there are three stocking hung in the stairwell. We are moving along.

Yet, the tree has no star on top. A long, LONG time ago, a young mathematician, who was still widely believed to be a nice guy, made me a star for my tree. I had a tree-decorating party at my college-apartment, and he found aluminum foil, poster board, and a compass, calculated the angles, and made me a star for the tree. It was of course The Star, for the rest of our life together. I simply could not bear to look in the box where it lives. In fact, the girl-child came and took all the old ornaments from my house and she has the star now. But my tree-top is naked.

But today I think I found the right star. Nora Gaughon designed a knitted stellated dodecahedron. Seriously, is this perfect, or what? It's knitted. It's geeky. It's me ;) I haven't started it yet, because I'm still working on presents. But it can be made after Christmas and stored away to be next year's progress. It's a free pattern on Knitting Daily.

That, and solar powered outdoor lights, and I will be in business!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

My Crystal Ball is Broken

I used to say that to the children, meaning... "I don't know where you left your Germany report, or your shoes. I don't know if he will call. I don't know if you'll get that job." And of course it led right into an annoying momily, about putting your shoes where they belong in the first place or how you deserve the job, or the boyfriend doesn't deserve you.... whatever the situation called for.

But this morning I had a terrifying realization. I really can't see into the future. Did I think I was being falsely modest when I claimed to have a broken crystal ball??? For heaven's sake, I, who thought I had a life plan for the next 50 years, two years ago had to make a new one, and I'm just now understanding that my crystal ball is out for repair????? Seriously, did I need more evidence?

It started stupidly. I was writing Christmas card addresses, and I wondered if I should put everyone's address into my phone as I go along. It's very little trouble, and it would help the GPS navigation get me where I am going. And then I started to wonder if I would have this phone this time next year (who cares?)... and then I started to wonder where I would be next year for Christmas(marginally more important).... and my brain just froze. I can't see next year.

At all.

I make no claims to being organized in a traditional sense. (You should SEE the desk where this is being written. No, I suppose you shouldn't.) But I do like to chart my course. I make New Year's Resolutions, and 101 Goals in 1001 days. I have plans for my writing and plans for my knitting. I have plans for this house and plans for books I want to read. And I have fledgling, spoken-only-in-a-whisper career/vocation plans. And here it gets a little untoward, perhaps. I have more than a little bit invested in being seen as a high performer.

Or... I don't know, perhaps that's not a bad thing as long as there is substance behind the image. But there won't BE substance behind the image if I don't know where I'm headed.

Darn that crystal ball, anyway. Is anyone else's in working order??? I'm freaking out over here.

Monday, December 07, 2009

A Hundred Wishes

The little neighbor boy had an eyelash on his cheek yesterday. I scooped it up and said "make a wish!" Being a small person, he said "I want a HUNDRED wishes!!" If you knew this child, you would know that it wasn't greed that motivated him; I'm quite sure it is just that he is still alive with the sense of the possible. A hundred wishes would not be at all out of line.

We learn differently as we get older. I'm not sure that it's "knowing better" though. Could I come up with a hundred wishes? Could I feel like those things were possible?

I'll have to muse on this. Please feel free to add yours.

Friday, December 04, 2009

Tending a Different Infrastructure

Because isn't THIS the picture you want in the almost-winter? It's my old furnace, in the back yard. That's not where you store yours??? Huh. Perhaps I have to rethink my strategy.


It was, apparently, 35 years old. Possibly older. So, there's no pretending I didn't get my money's worth (not that I chose it or bought it.) But it is now replaced with a state of the art 95% efficient furnace with central air. And many thousands of dollars have been removed from my wallet. Oh well. In my Great Life Plan of Aught-Nine (and no, I don't really call it that), this was on the schedule for 2012. The best laid plans, and all that....

Next summer I'll stay in my comfortably-cool house and pretend like I'm in Paris ;) I'll look lovingly at my air conditioning unit and pretend that it's a different kind of Arc de Triomphe.

And since this is what I woke up to this morning, I suppose it's a good thing I got this done.