Challenged

“Your difficulties are not obstacles on the path, they are the path.”                                                                         ~ Ezra Bayda

If Ezra is right, then I am forging a new way of doing things. I am going to embrace my difficulties. Okay, embrace may be too strong a word here… how about not reject them? I think that I should quit being Cleopatra’s neighbour and move away from denial, which is a nice place to visit, but I don’t want to live out my life there.

Sundown in the Nile

Sundown in the Nile (Photo credit: Carlos Bustamante – Cartagena)

Obstacles make you take life a little less for granted; they make you more flexible, more pliable; and…okay, let’s face it—life would be more lovely without them—but would we realize the loveliness? I would like to think that I have now faced enough obstacles to last me a lifetime, but if they are, as Ezra says, “the path”, then I guess I will just have to “embrace” them… just not too tightly.

Can you look at difficulties as bliss?

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Published in: on May 31, 2013 at 2:16 pm  Comments (33)  
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I Blog, Therefore I Am

A classic fairy with a wand

This has nothing to do with this blog post — I just liked the magic of it.(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“A blog is in many ways a continuing conversation.”  ~  Andrew Sullivan

Right on Andrew! Apparently Mr. Sullivan is “the first mainstream journalist to experiment with blogging.” Called The Daily Dish, his blog started in 2000, “soon gained a large following, enabling him to interact with his readers and garner almost instantaneous responses to his work.” (Found this bit of blog history in The Writer’s Devotional by Amy Peters.

All I can say is Thanks Andrew ~ we will all happily continue your tradition, mainstream journalists or not.

Bliss is blogging, whether it be as a mainstream journalist, a little known journalist (like me), the hobby blogger, or the social blogger–what do you think?

Published in: on May 30, 2013 at 1:54 pm  Comments (42)  
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Friends are Bliss

Walden.

Walden. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Just received a thank you card in the mail from a friend and this is what was on the inside:

“Friends

They cherish each other’s hopes.

They are kind to each other’s dreams.” ~ Thoreau

I thought that it was just beautiful and had to share it–here is to cherishing your hopes and being kind to your dreams!

Friends are bliss. Does anyone want to argue with me?

 

Published in: on May 29, 2013 at 7:26 pm  Comments (28)  
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Old School Can Be Bliss

“I’m old school. I’m not the fastest guy or the quickest guy.” ~ James Harden, Houston Rockets shooting guard (basketball for those of you not in the know. Neither was I).

I am “old school” when it comes to covering an event for the newspaper. I am the one scribbling away fast and furiously while others are on their laptops taking notes. I have considered taking my laptop to meetings I cover for the paper, but I am always afraid something will happen and I will be left without a quote or a motion that was carried, or miss some important drainage or sewage issue.

 What reminded me of this is the fact that I still have one of those writer’s bumps on my third finger and have had it most of my life. It is referred to as a callus in some circles, but I consider mine a part of me that I am, if truth be told, proud of. Over the years it has shrunk somewhat because I do most of my writing on the keyboard now—but every other Monday night finds me in Council Chambers making notes like a house on fire, and when I am not taking notes I am doodling to keep myself awake until the next item on the agenda.

It is interesting to see how school used to be.

old school  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 My note-taking writing is very different from my usual handwriting which is very precise and neat, though I am losing that talent as I do not use it much anymore. When I take notes my writing is back-handed, barely legible to anyone else reading it, and contains numerous short forms I have come up with over the years. I tend not to dot my i’s and cross my t’s when I take notes. Though I took one year of shorthand (instead of taking Latin) I remember none of it—and it was the lowest mark I ever got in a subject. (It was a business subject they let some of the academic students take—and it was a huge mistake for me as I hate memorizing).

LL Cool J has a definition of “old school” that I really like. He calls it “classic”: “I’m not trying to be new school and I’m not old school – I’m classic…..I’m just classic in doing what I do.”

I think I will adopt his way of thinking and call myself classic instead of old school—it is so much more charming and sophisticated. Not, of course, that there is anything wrong with being old school (I am channelling Seinfeld here).

Sometimes bliss is the “tried and true” or classic—what do you think?

Published in: on May 29, 2013 at 1:55 pm  Comments (30)  
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Bliss: the Search for the Infrangilble

  “All you need in the world is love and laughter.” – August Wilson

   “What is sacred…Only love.” – Johnny Depp

    Sacred.  A word that has religious overtones, and in those overtones there is comfort. But the sacred I am talking about today can be aptly described by the word revered, and the meaning I will be using is one cobbled together from many found in the Encarta Dictionary: worthy of regard; not to be challenged or disrespected.

         

English: Robinia pseudoacacia, Fabaceae, Black...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 A book that was given to me by a friend that makes me feel smart (as opposed to really being smart) is called “The Thinker’s Thesaurus” by Peter E. Meltzer and is subtitled “Sophisticated Alternatives to Common Words.” It synonymizes sacred as a being “infrangible” and suggests I go to the word “inviolable”. So I went on a little journey to find “inviolable” and find the word infrangible again. This somewhat circuitous route leads me to believe I am not smart or sophisticated enough for this book, so instead I consult my in-computer thesaurus and it tells me that infrangible means “unable to be disregarded or violated” (hence: inviolable).        

I hope I have not lost you yet, but words and their meanings can be flexible, and in order to talk specifically about something, you need to know the precise meaning that is being used.         

There are certain things that are sacred to me, or to use a lovely word: sacrosanct. These things cannot be questioned, they just “are”.

Some of the most unlikely sources define the word sacred the best.  Johnny Depp, an actor I consider of great depth, but not a recognized philosopher or great thinker, said: “There are four questions of value in life…..What is sacred? Of what is the spirit made? What is worth living for, and what is worth dying for? The answer to each is the same. Only love.”

 At one time I liked to think that one could survive without love—that one needed no outside source to depend on, and that you could pull yourself up by your own bootstraps. I was wrong, and the reason I could be so wrong is that I had love. It was not a missing element from my life—my parents loved me, my brothers and sister loved me, and to an extent my friends loved me. Sometimes you do not realize what you have because you have the luxury of taking it for granted. It is when something is missing that you notice it.

After 31 years of marriage (another anniversary celebrated last week), I no longer take love for granted—though it is

Sacred Kingfisher

Sacred Kingfisher (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

offered to me unreservedly and sometimes undeservedly. Rainn Wilson (of The Office fame—another unlikely sage) said something that resonates with me deeply: “The bonds we create in the household are the most important and lasting. Savour them; they’re sacred.”

 Writer and director, Tom Shadyac (Bruce Almighty) has another take on what should be revered. He says: “I think laughter is a sacred act.” And if you really think about it, it is. Laughter is the realization of happiness; it is mirth and enjoyment and amusement.

So what do you find sacred? What is it that you can unquestionably depend on? Love and laughter are certainly two high contenders, and they are my choices. They are both sacred in my life. Love can be affection, or passion; it can be fondness, or devotion; friendship, or lasting marital commitment; enjoyment, or total ardour.

There are degrees of love, and it is in those degrees that we define ourselves. There is love between (or among) siblings; love of your children; love of your spouse or “significant other”; love of your family; love of your friends; love of your animals; and love of life.

 Laughter is the icing on the cake of life—or as Pulitzer Prize winning playwright August Wilson, said: “All you need in the world is love and laughter. That’s all anybody needs. To have love in one hand and laughter in the other.”  I think love and laughter are sacred, to be revered;   neither should be challenged nor disrespected. Or, to use my newly discovered word of the week: infrangible.

Bliss is the infrangible–the sacred. What do you find blissfully sacred?

You Are Not Alone

“I feel like I’m not alone,” some of those who wrote me said, and the sentiment changed my life. That’s what’s so wonderful about reading, that poetry and essays make us feel as though we’re connected, as though the thoughts and feelings we believe are singular and sometimes nutty are shared by others, and we are more alike than different.”  ~ Anna Quindlen from “Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake”

English: Flower bed Pretty spring flowers in K...

. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It is exactly this feeling, that you are reaching others, that you are not alone, that we are more alike than different that keeps both Quindlen (who is admittedly a bit more successful than I, being  a Pulitzer prize winner and all) and I writing.

The best writing I have read is something that hits a note with me. Something that resonates. Something that says what I have been thinking. Something that make me part of the world, not apart from it. And that is the kind of writing I strive to do. On a much more limited basis, I have had people tell me that they could identify with the words I have written, that my words made them smile and recognize that they are not alone.

I guess on some level, writing gives me power. Power to communicate what I cannot communicate well out loud. I say often that it gives my lonely voice in the wilderness a place to vocalize.

Bliss is feeling a part of something; something that penetrates the aloneness. What do you think?

Published in: on May 26, 2013 at 12:56 pm  Comments (36)  
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I Need Your Help

Mystery

Mystery (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I read this to my Writers’ Group today and they liked it. I have a few ideas of where this is going–but if you want to give me any ideas I would more than appreciate it. Some of it is true, some of it is not. The part about the hairy legs is true.

 

Short Story 1

            She remembers the girl who wore knee socks and long denim shorts to hide her hairy legs. She remembers the girl her mother did not want to grow up.

            The mossy smelling countryside returned to her mind’s eye. Riding her bike down the road. Catching glimpses of the cows in the overgrown pastures, the creek full of brown water, the cars whizzing by her.  Her first freedom.  The wind blowing her long hair into tangles.

            She started riding a bike when she was twelve. Much older than most kids, but she had always been a late bloomer. There had been no bicycles to ride at her house before that. Her brothers had bikes but they were much older. Now teenagers they had given up their bikes long ago for fast cars.

            Her sister, three years younger, was far more adventurous than she was. At least in practice. She went on adventures in her head; her sister went on actual adventures. That her sister started riding “the” bike (they only had one and had to share) at nine was not surprising. A year later her sister would shave her legs, no matter what their mom said. And she would too—if a ten year old could do it—then certainly someone on the cusp of being a teenager should be able to.

            Today, as she sifted through her memories of decades ago, she remembered something that had always puzzled her. Something that had niggled at the back of her mind, but something she had shelved because questions about it had been met with icy silence. But now, she wanted to know.

            As a kid, she knew that things did not add up. But trying to make sense of certain things was stymied. It was like when she asked her dad where babies came from and he said ask your mother, knowing she would not ask her. She was very very old before she understood where babies came from—because no one at her house talked about things like that to her. Her older brothers were protective, her younger sister even more innocent than she.

            In fact, years later, her sister would complain that she had not told her about the “monthly miracle”. She refused to call it a curse—it was part of being a woman, and she often wondered why women did not embrace that part of themselves. She often heard that if men menstruated, they would brag about the pain, the duration, the amount of blood. But no, women tried to hide it, like it did not happen. Like it did not exist. Yet it was a big and important part of their lives.

          Her mind was wandering. She refocused. She remembered little pieces of conversations that would stop when she entered a room. She learned not to interrupt these conversations, she learned to stay where she was not noticed and listen. But not enough was ever said.

            Five decades later she had discovered a clue, one so big and obvious that she could no longer deny what she had felt since she was young. She was not one of them. Her family had always been loving in an uncloying way. They were not demonstrative. Hugs were few and far between.  She had always known she was loved, but there had always been a feeling of not quite fitting in.     

Published in: on May 24, 2013 at 5:34 pm  Comments (30)  
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Answered

Cover of "The Emperor's Club (Widescreen ...

Cover of The Emperor’s Club (Widescreen Edition)

Here are my answers to the questions I posed to you yesterday–some of you will see that your bliss is my bliss too:

1. What is your favourite “bliss” word?

My answers: serenity, peace, love, silence, calm, abundance, serendipity

2. What is your favourite “bliss” food?

My answer: chocolate is the first thing that comes to mind, but I love burritos, chili, a medium rare steak, prime rib and gravy, pizza, Hostess cupcakes, oh I could go on and on……

3. What is your favourite “bliss” activity?

My answer: walking – not because I love walking but because of its benefits; reading; writing; having a good conversation; listening

4. What is your favourite piece of “bliss” clothing?

My answer: soft stretchy yoga pants and a big t-shirt with nothing restrictive under it; a white shirt that can be dressed up or down; jeans

5. Who is your favourite “bliss” author or poet or writer?

My answers: Natalie Goldberg, Elizabeth Berg, Margaret Atwood

6. What is your favourite “bliss” movie?

My answer: The Emperor’s Club, a 2002 movie starring Kevin Kline–everyone should watch this–it is the best on so many levels

7. Who is your favourite “bliss” person?

My answer: I have many but my two main ones are my husband and my sister—they can both calm me down and make me feel better when I am stressed.

My least  blissful words: stress, noise, discord, loud, angry and puce

What are your least blissful words?

Published in: on May 23, 2013 at 10:25 am  Comments (28)  
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Answer Me This

English: Country road. The private road leadin...

Imagining myself walking on this path gives me bliss. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

1. What is your favourite “bliss” word?

2. What is your favourite “bliss” food?

3. What is your favourite “bliss” activity?

4. What is your favourite piece of “bliss” clothing?

5. Who is your favourite “bliss” author or poet or writer?

6. What is your favourite “bliss” movie?

7. Who is your favourite “bliss” person?

Answer 1 or 2 or 3 or all the questions and you will give me bliss.

 

Published in: on May 22, 2013 at 5:13 pm  Comments (49)  
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Inspired Bliss

English: As the feel of the event was all abou...

Yes, this is exactly how my family sits down to eat every night. I may give the butler the night off! (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“The shared meal is no small thing. It is a foundation of family life, the place where our children learn the art of conversation and acquire the habits of civilization: sharing, listening, taking turns, navigating differences, arguing without offending.” ~Michael Pollan, from his book, “Cooked”

I am guilty of much of what Pollan is railing against in his book “Cooked”. I have been wooed by the fast food industry, courted by the industrial food moguls, and a victim of food that is not really food. And I am now inspired to cook food from scratch and not just heat up “packaged ravioli with sage-butter sauce” and consider it a “culinary achievement”.

My Achilles heel when it comes to cooking is the fact that after a while it becomes too routine, and just getting some food to the table is an accomplishment itself—no matter where it comes from—the pizza delivery guy, my freezer, or a package.

Pollan has renewed my pride in cooking, and inspired me. And real cooking can be so simple—sometimes just a quick nuking of fresh asparagus from the local farmers market with a little butter and salt and pepper will satisfy that urging; other times a full-blown meal where one has to actually touch real potatoes, chop real lettuce, and cook some fresh meat meets the criteria.

I must confess that I will still rely on frozen packaged food at times—but I am now determined to take a little more time, take it that one step further, and serve real food on a more regular basis. And I must look at it as feeding my creative beast—there are so many ways to be creative and I no longer want to limit myself to writing literary masterpieces and somewhat lame poetry (I know I am exaggerating on both ends of the scale here).

To share a meal with those you love where you have actually put some time and thought into the effort is most satisfying. If we are going to do important things like teach the art of conversation, and share and listen and navigate differences—we should do it over fare that deserves that deliberation.

Bliss is going that extra mile and fixing “real food” if not every day at least as much as possible. What do you think?

Published in: on May 22, 2013 at 1:21 pm  Comments (31)  
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