Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Random Morning Thoughts

So many random thoughts going through my head... I think it's time to dump them (in no particular order) out. Otherwise, I won't have room for any of the innumerable things on the actual to-do list...


  • I really need to purge my bookshelves and closet and be ruthless. I have books I've owned for years and probably will never read. They're, well, kind of aspirational reads. I'd LIKE to read them, but I honestly never make the time. I'm probably not going to, to be honest. There are so many newer books I am enjoying, and my reading time is limited as it is.
  • But not as limited as it was! Gosh, I love my iBooks app. I can read something while wandering the halls at work, heating up my lunch, riding the bus, etc., and then pick it up again that evening. It's amazing how many pages you can get through while doing other things that just take a bit of time.
  • I think I'm on news overload. I'm obsessed with - and really worried about - the presidential election. I don't think I can take it if the current wannabe is reelected. I don't know if our democracy will survive. It's scary and uncertain and those are two of my least favorite things. 
  • Also scary and uncertain? My relationship. Sigh. I need to move forward there but, well, inertia sometimes overtakes me when I don't want to make a decision fraught with emotion and all sorts of downstream implications. I know it's not meant to be easy, but.. it's taking up a lot of brain and emotional space right now. 
  • I had a weird stress dream about a guest lecture I'm to give tomorrow. Very weird. I do this all the time - not sure why I'm stressed? 
  • I'm ready for spring. The birds are starting to chirp in the morning, which is lovely. Now, time for the sun to come out! 
  • I am seriously considering canceling a work trip in a few weeks thanks to coronavirus and the fact that I have to see an immunocompromised family member the next week. I hate to do it, but... I don't want to spend all this money to attend the meeting and then be worried the whole time - and distracted - because I'm trying not to get sick. 
  • There is nothing like a hot cup of tea in the morning. Nothing. Ditto at night. I live for my tea. 
  • I also stopped drinking coffee last summer and... I still don't miss it? Weird. I drank it for years. 
OK, that's enough for now. Oh, one more:
  • There is a teeny tiny jade plant in my office that I got from someone here at work. I have never watered it. Ever. And yet, it continues to grow. I'm sure there's some deep wisdom in there somewhere, but meanwhile, I'm in awe of its ability to seemingly get nourishment from the air. I'm reluctant to repot it in fear of halting its progress. 
Wow. This was really, really random. Sorry for that. Please do move on... if you made it this far! 

Thursday, February 20, 2020

Conversations

I was so lucky last evening to have a wonderful conversation with someone I consider a friend, a mentor, and even a second mother.

I grew up with this person, best friends with her daughter; our families were always together. We traveled together, slept at each other's houses all the time, shared Sunday dinners and countless weekend afternoons. This woman treated me like one of her own - from the love to, yes, the punishment when I needed it.

Although I will say that she was the only mom in my life who made me eat pancakes with syrup.

For the record, I really, really dislike syrup. I much prefer powdered sugar on my pancakes, when and if I eat them (which is not often these days...).

So there were quite a few cold pancakes on Saturday mornings in my childhood, since I spent so many Friday nights at their house.

That aside, though, she's the mom I love most, next to my own. And over time we have become closer, as I've drifted from her daughter a bit (let's just say dissenting political views have made it challenging the last almost-four years...). I have found myself seeking support from this woman and her husband (my second dad) as I've navigated through some of the most challenging times in my life. I get cards from them regularly (as in, nearly weekly) and send my own to them nearly as often.

She called, randomly, on Tuesday when I was falling asleep at the end of a long, frustrating, and annoying day. Nothing earth-shattering (although I did break my favorite mug, sigh) but just one of THOSE days. I was nearly asleep so didn't answer. And then she called again last evening while I was eating, and I took the time to call her when I was finished eating and had my cup of tea.

And it was the best way to spend 30 or so minutes that I could have hoped for. Refreshing, and uplifting, and encouraging. Good conversation with someone who knows all of me - really, she does - and who loves me.

It just reminded me of how important it is to connect, to really talk with people. And to not be afraid to reach out. I hesitate sometimes to call her, or reach out through a card specifically for her, and this reminded me that I don't need to. True friendship - and true love - takes away that brief hesitation, reminding me that I can be loved for being who I am, for being my whole self.

I needed that this week.


Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Sonder

OK, I could have sworn that I wrote a post about this word before but... I haven't. At least not that I can find using the search function (and it's not like I have written that many posts!).

I love this word. I learned of it last year, when Holstee wrote about the word in one of their reflection emails. It really resonated with me, and I think it does for a lot of people who learn of its definition, particularly in today's world, when you may feel alone on a crowded bus or street.

So what does Sonder mean?



Another site has a longer definition, which I like even more: ...the realization that each random passerby is living a life as vivid and complex as your own—populated with their own ambitions, friends, routines, worries and inherited craziness—an epic story that continues invisibly around you like an anthill sprawling deep underground, with elaborate passageways to thousands of other lives that you’ll never know existed, in which you might appear only once, as an extra sipping coffee in the background, as a blur of traffic passing on the highway, as a lighted window at dusk.

It reminds me that everyone is living their own life - completely unaware of my life - and that I have no idea what is going on in theirs. It's one reason why I have tried harder as I've gotten older to just be kind. To never assume that someone has bad intentions or is intentionally trying to hurt me.

Just to be clear, this doesn't extend to people I know better, who have shown their true colors, and who I know may not have my best interests at heart (to put it mildly).

But strangers at the grocery store? on the bus? I just cannot imagine that they have "ruining Anne's day" at the top of their list. They have no idea who I am - they are caught up in their own lives ... and since I have no idea what is going on in those lives, who am I to judge?

I wonder if anyone has made "sonder" into a verb? "Sondering" sits better with me - realizing (or, perhaps recognizing?) that everyone is living a life as vivid and complex as mine... and that I will likely never know what happens next in the epic stories of their lives.

Why assume the bad, when it's just as easy to assume the good?


Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Seeking Peace...Or Trying To

So, I kind of stink at meditating. That whole empty your mind thing, or even the alternative of noticing my thoughts and letting them go, is really hard for me. I want to write my to do list, my grocery list, get started on what I need to do. But I try to take some space for me every day - whether it is quiet breathing, writing here, or journaling in my regular journal or commonplace book (where I keep my quote collection). And that helps. It helps me know that I'm not ALL about work. That there are other things for me to focus on, and to remember.

But sometimes? It's just so hard to take that time - even if it's only 20 minutes. And then I have to remind myself that when I do NOT take that time? Those days are inevitably even more chaotic and disruptive than I thought they might be.

So I take the time. I listen to music I like (which I then turn off when I get down to the work-work of the day). And then I focus, knowing that I am slightly better for those 20 minutes of me-time.


Monday, February 10, 2020

Kinda Kondo-ing

You wanna fly, you got to give up the thing that weighs you down.
~Toni Morrison

So, I haven't really bought into the whole Marie Kondo thing - you know, giving away or otherwise divesting yourself of things that do not bring you joy. And yet, more and more, I find myself implementing at least parts of the process (or, quite honestly, what I've read about the process... which does not include, um, the book itself...).

For the last couple of years, I have tried to get rid of more than I bring in. I have donated countless items of clothing, linens (towels, sheets, etc.), kitchen items (nearly a whole set of pots and pans that I simply was not using), and so on. I've taken so many books to the half price bookstore - where sometimes I get a few dollars for bringing them, but it's really more about getting them out of my apartment.

This weekend, I sold my digital piano. 

It's not that playing the piano does not bring me joy. It does, and always has. But the piano itself, at this stage in my life, was not bringing me joy. Instead, it sat, neglected, in my small bedroom, a source of guilt that I was focusing on other things right now and not playing it as much as I wanted. I don't even know if I have played it since I moved into this apartment. I honestly don't remember. 

I wanted to sell that, and I still want to sell a recliner that is, simply, the least comfortable chair (for ME!) that I have ever owned. It was more my spouse's chair, and well, we don't live together. I also dislike the print and the color and the fact that it has wooden arms that get dusty. (Can you tell that the recliner is, um, not my favorite piece of furniture? :>) 

Anyway, I happened to mention in a meeting at work that I really wanted to sell this piano, and a colleague jumped on it. She and her wife have a young child (nearly 3, I believe) and they have another on the way. She plays the piano and loves it, and wants her children to play it as well. The price was right, she convinced her wife that this was a good purchase, and in 10 minutes on Saturday, she and her friends moved the piano and its accessories out of my apartment. 

It was, briefly, a sad moment for me. And then I was so, so happy. I gave her the books I had that weren't either truly sentimental (2 of them, both from musicals in high school) or in horrid shape or, honestly, embarrassing (um, Red Hot Hits from 1987?). And she texted me later that night that she was already playing one of the books and loved it. And I smiled. And went happily to sleep.

My parents, who save everything, do not understand this. For me, I feel lighter, happier, and more content in my space and my life. And to me, that's invaluable. 


Friday, February 7, 2020

Things I am loving Friday

There are a few bloggers I follow who post what they love / are grateful for on Fridays. And I always think, what a lovely way to look back on the week and seek out the good. So I'm going to try it today... trying to go into the day with a good attitude (despite the potential for a really, really long meeting this afternoon... :>)


  • Wearing jeans to work. I love academia. 
  • And sneakers. 
  • Getting a guest presentation outlined yesterday that had been bugging me for weeks. 
  • AND getting a conference presentation outlined, too... I also put more into that (in terms of content) than originally intended, so that's a double win. 
  • Sunshine. We've had more this week than I think we had in all of January. 
  • A good run this morning. I love feeling good on a run (because really, who wouldn't?) and it's such an awesome way to start the day. 
  • Emails from my parents. 
  • The ability to walk without pain. So underrated until you don't have it anymore. 
  • Dreaming about travel (Prince Edward Island, Ireland [next year - finally!!!], and many other dream places)
  • And recipes I want to try (hey, it's winter! And I finally found a willing taste tester - a college student who is an athlete. Perfect!)
  • Getting to see my parents in March 💗
A good week. A really good week. 

Thursday, February 6, 2020

Fretting

I am fabulous at fretting.

I actually looked up the definitions of the word, and it's fascinating how its use in science is akin to its use in describing peoples' actions or behaviors...

"to wear away or consume by gnawing" (dictionary.com)

Wow. What an apt description. And I am a champion fretter. Seriously. There are nights when I wake up and cannot get back to sleep because my mind is turning the same (usually small) worry over and and over. Perseverating about it. (Another word I love, that Chrome spellchecker does not seem to. That's okay - it didn't like colonoscopy until recently, either...) 

Anyway. I can't quite figure out how to break this cycle. It's like once I hit on something that I can worry or fret about - usually for way too long - I just come back to it over and over and over again.

Sometimes distraction works. Other times, my mind returns to that same worry whenever I take a break from whatever else I am working on. 

It honestly drives me bonkers - and I wish I could change it. The best part, of course, is that my worries are usually completely unfounded. Like this weekend, when I was worried that I had not heard back from a colleague about a piano that she was hoping to buy from me. I worried that I had inadvertently insulted her during an in-person exchange a few weeks ago. Turns out, she was just figuring out with her wife how they could make room for said piano. All that worry, for nothing. That's how it usually turns out. Sometimes, of course, my concerns are borne out. But for the most part, nothing ever comes of my (sometimes hours of) fretting. 

Just another habit to break or work on. I should be grateful that I can (?) focus on these relatively small worries. I don't have many BIG things weighing on me right now. I know it's part of how I am wired - so I suppose the alternative to changing it is learning to accept it and perhaps shut it down sooner. Hm. Another topic for therapy day, I suppose! Onward.