Astonished

Have you ever read a book that was written just for you? You recognize yourself in the character if it is a novel, or you are the sole audience member if it is non-fiction? Right now I am reading such a book, and though I know it was not written just for me as that would not be economically feasible (made more so by the fact that it is a library book) the author seems to know me startlingly well.

The genre the book is listed under is “creativity”. I like the niche it has carved for itself, because it speaks to me on a level that is disquieting in one way, but “creatively” comforting in another. How does the author know me so well? I have come to the conclusion that I am not as “unique” (read: weird) as I thought. Apparently there are a lot of people out there somewhat like me who would benefit from the author’s expertise, which she shares quite generously. But what I find so endearing is that she admits her expertise was hard won.

The book is called “Get It Done” and while it brings the Nike factor of “Just Do It” to mind, it is a little more hands on than the shoe manufacturer’s commercial. The author, Sam Bennett tells us how to “get it done” without admonishing us. “Just do it” seems a bit judgmental and heavily relies on pulling yourself up by your bootstraps (perhaps because it is a manufacturer of footwear, and not into deep soul-searching.)

“Get It Done” is gentle on the creative soul; understanding of fallow times when you just can’t seem to come up with the next idea; and prods us in a mellow, almost soothing way to find the means to “get it done”. “It”, of course can be anything. While Sam is all for us getting our creative selves going, she understands that we are not just solely creative beings—we have lives that entail taking out the garbage, working at jobs that at times do not seem creative, and getting supper on the table.

I am not quite half way through the book yet, but have found that a lot her ideas are not too extravagant to try. Many creatives hide behind procrastination. If we cannot do something perfectly, well then, we might as well not do it at all. Sam says that “Procrastination is an insidious demon that must be fought with every weapon we have.” She equates it with perfectionism which she says “turns procrastination into a virtue.” During a particularly anxious time in her life, she came up with an antidote to the procrastination/perfectionism conundrum. She decided that if she could not disabuse herself wholly of the syndrome, then she would “just try to get a C—which is the grade you get for showing up and doing the work. Not doing the work better than anyone else, not doing extra-credit work—just showing up and doing the work.”

Now, many of us would not be satisfied with a C. (Though to be honest, getting a C in my beloved subjects of English and journalism would have been a death knell; but getting a C in math would have been a bonus for me.) Sam defends “getting a C” for two reasons: first she says “your version of a C is probably everybody else’s version of an A”; and secondly, getting the work out there is the important step, because once it is done, you can always improve it. She once defined perfectionism as “a hobby for people who didn’t have anything better to do with their time” even though she herself suffered from the malady.

I am going to leave you with one of her “Nearly Miraculous Habits” which I think is so doable in getting something done. She says that if she could “actually make us do stuff” the first thing she would do is convince us to spend 15 minutes a day “each and every day working on (our) project”. She believes that we will “be flat-out astonished by how much progress (we) will make. If you spend 15 minutes a day writing a novel, eventually you will have a novel. If you spend fifteen minutes a day working on your abs, pretty soon you’ll have strengthened your core.”

I don’t know about you—but I am ready to be astonished.

Published in: on June 10, 2015 at 12:26 pm  Leave a Comment  

A message for every day………….

Aldous Huxley: “It’s dark because you are trying too hard. Lightly child, lightly. Learn to do everything lightly. Yes, feel lightly even though you’re feeling deeply. Just lightly let things happen and lightly cope with them.”

Thanks David Hanigan.

Published in: on June 4, 2015 at 11:48 am  Comments (10)  

Zenku #263

Originally posted on Zen Kettle:

Vacant lot

hosts

a weed party

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Published in: on June 3, 2015 at 7:45 pm  Comments (1)  

Your Future: Unbridled Joy

Do you believe in horoscope readings? I am not sure I do, but I make sure to check mine out every day in the paper—and I never ignore them when they are in my magazines. I am fortunate in that I am on the cusp of Aries and Taurus, so I generally read both, and depending on my state of mind pick the one that seems to apply (or that I want to apply) for that day, week, or month.

For the month of June I have chosen to be an Aries—at least for the horoscope that appears in Chatelaine Magazine. Aries is much more to my liking and follows my tendencies a little closer, plus its financial forecast is better. Aries is the sign for people born between March 21 and April 19th. Taurus (the bull—which perfectly describes me in a china shop) represents those born April 20th to May 20th. But if you are on the cusp, (I was born on April21st) you have a few days leeway—and this is where I take the opportunity to pick and choose.

For June, the Taurus forecast (made by Barbara Y. Hindley) is a bit of a downer. It states: “Money matters come into full view at the June 2nd full moon as you realize what is and is not working budget-wise. A new financial obligation could put a crimp in your spending style, or you may find that you haven’t budgeted enough to have fun. (bummer) You can now find a balance that fits you. (no lunches with friends and no magazines?) Image enhancing Venus dresses up your domestic zone from the 5th onward, making this a fabulous time to beautify your environment. Even adding new colourful throw pillows can satisfy that urge to make things feel fresh.” It also advises to mark “the 12th and 13th as five-star days.”

So, in a nutshell, June is going to be fun-free, with the only bonus being a throw pillow or two? Now read the Aries predictions and tell me if you were on the cusp that you would not chose to be a ram for the month. It starts out well, has a good middle, and ends well—in contrast to Taurus which started out dismal and went downhill from there, unless of course you are in the market for a throw pillow (or two).

The Aries reading is more to my taste—see what you think: “Feisty (anything that starts with feisty has to be good) Mars in your communication sector (I have a sector—cool) gives you the ability to express yourself with enthusiasm (read: unbridled joy) and confidence. It’s a fabulous (Barb likes this word obviously as it is in both readings) time to give a talk, take meetings or rally the troops. New opportunities to do with writing projects (yay!) public speaking (boo!) teaching or studying are offered. Happily, a dispute or miscommunication (we all have ’em) with a sibling or family member should be on its way to a quick resolution once Mercury moves forward on the 11th. Joyful Jupiter and romantic Venus align with your sign adding a little extra sparkle to your social life (I like sparkle). Be sure your wardrobe is up to snuff as there may be something special to celebrate closer to month’s end” (and who doesn’t love a celebration?). For Aries, the five star days are the 10th and 11th.

So what am I going to do with this information? If I were smart I would probably take heed of the Taurus predictions and enhance my budgeting skills. But for the most part I am ready to be an Aries for the month—with the promise of unbridled joy, new writing projects, joyful Jupiter, sparkle, a resolution and a celebration.

Astrology is like the icing on the cake. It adds a little pizazz to life and embellishes reality. Though I may not take it seriously, I do give it its due by reading the forecasts daily, and take them to heart for at least as long as it takes me to scan them. Perhaps belief is too far a step for me, but as PK. Shaw (noted for her quotations on desk calendars) said: “So few people admit to belief in astrology, but I am yet to meet anyone who doesn’t know their star sign.”

But the quote that I think may convince me to believe is by none other than J.P. (John Pierpont) Morgan, dead banker extraordinaire, who stated: “Millionaires don’t use Astrology, billionaires do.”

Where do you stand on astrology. And, are you on the cusp?

Published in: on June 2, 2015 at 1:13 am  Comments (16)  

Monday Morning Wake-Up Call: Pick ’em and put ’em down

on thehomefrontandbeyond:

the first frame shows how I walk; the second frame is too graceful….

Originally posted on Live & Learn:

funny,run

funny,jesus lizard


Basilisk lizard, also known as Jesus Christ Lizard because they can run on water up to speeds of 5 mph. (Source: gifak-net)

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Published in: on June 1, 2015 at 10:24 am  Comments (4)  

Rain

Torrents of harsh rain ~
Dark skies crying themselves dry
Clouds too sadly full.

Published in: on May 31, 2015 at 1:13 am  Leave a Comment  

Breathe

The window opens
But just ever so slightly
Must squeeze through, breathless

Published in: on May 29, 2015 at 9:52 am  Comments (16)  

A Hard Decision

It is the last week of May. My Martha Washington geraniums are planted and the decision not to have a vegetable garden this year has been made. Somewhat reluctantly. But a garden does take time and effort and love. This year we do not have the time and effort to put into loving our garden. We still have time to change our minds—but if we do, we will just be growing some tomatoes and peppers. I will be planting a row of Boston lettuce in a planter on my back porch though, but that it about it for this season.

I love having a vegetable garden. But, as with most things, I love the idea more than the reality. The reality means getting the garden ready which involves some spade work, the addition of new top soil, the decision of what to plant, and then the planting itself. I love to see the newly planted garden—everything neatly in its row and visions of salads and side dishes dance merrily in my head. This of course is the calm before the storm. The storm being the constant tending of the weeds, or in my case, the occasional tending.

I do not have a green thumb. In fact, it is my eldest son who generally decides to plant the garden and this year he has decided that he has enough on his plate without adding our backyard garden to his duties. And I understand. Tending a garden takes work; and not tending it makes it an overgrown mess. Last year he kept the garden up—it was virtually weedless and the harvest bountiful. But the dedication meant long hours in the hot sun.

My parents always had a large vegetable garden—but I remember they spent hours taming it every night after supper. To them, it was well worth the effort. This year my eldest son and I have done the math, and the effort that needs to be expended is just not in the cards. We have other matters to attend to, things to do, people to see, other work that is shouting for our attention. So we will not be planting peas and carrots and onions; there will not be six varieties of peppers or four of tomatoes; and we will not be growing our own jack o’lanterns.

It is our loss I know, but one we have made peace with.

Are you growing a garden this year?

Published in: on May 26, 2015 at 12:37 pm  Comments (19)  

Opening the Cottage

Just a note to those reading this who are not from Canada: this last weekend was a long weekend in Canada when we celebrated Victoria Day and it is our “unofficial” first weekend of summer ~ this is my column for the week:

The unofficial first weekend of summer is almost over as I write this, and I no longer have to open “the” cottage only in my imagination. No, I do not own a cottage, but my sister Peggy, and brother-in-law, Herb do, and they do not mind me referring to it as “ours”. They are pretty safe in letting me refer to it as partially mine as it is nine hour away as the crow flies, or this being Kingsville, as the Canada goose soars. Twelve if you get lost, or are a hummingbird. We got “lost” last summer having read the instruction we got off the internet incorrectly. 12.0 km is a lot different than 120 kilometres. Just saying…….

I have only been to “my” cottage twice, once last August and about a month and a half ago when the lake was still frozen over, and there was still some snow on the ground. It is a year round cottage and Peg and Herb, being only an hour away from it, use it year round. While that luxury is open to us, the nine hour trip makes it not quite as palatable for a weekend trip. We could have gone up this first unofficial long weekend of summer—and gotten in on Saturday night, spent Sunday there, and then turned around and come back on Monday morning—but it did not seem quite worth it. Maybe when we get our private plane…..after we win the lottery.

The cottage is set on an Eco lake, which means you can paddle on it to your heart’s content, or use an electric motor on a dingy. So it is lovely and quiet. Last August on the last day of our vacation I sat on the end of the dock with my sister as we dangled our bare feet in the water. It was idyllic, and this year, in August I intend on doing the same, except on the first day of vacation and every day thereafter. When I was there in early April, we did not dangle our bare feet off the dock—as the cottage is in Quebec, about an hour outside of Ottawa, and they have true Canadian weather up there. The lake, though still frozen, was beautifully serene.

Looking out over the frozen lake, with bits of snow in the tree branches was a different experience than my summer visit. But with a fire going in the wood stove (backed up by electric heaters in each room) it was cozy and welcoming. We were “recovering” from a memorial we had attended a few days earlier for our brother John, and the cottage was healing in a way. The summer before he had made the trip up to the cottage and we reminisced about sitting on the deck and laughing and eating and drinking, and generally having one of the times of our lives we would look back on fondly.

The cottage is open and airy, and slightly rustic in that the wood floors are painted white and the beams are exposed—but it has all the amenities of home. And because it is my sister’s, it is decorated impeccably. She has the eye of an interior decorator, and taste similar to mine, so of course I think it is faultless. Vacationing at the cottage is a true vacation. And since the cottage is not truly mine, I do not have the worries, concerns, cleaning, or bills associated with ownership. Plus Peg and Herb fete us like royalty when we are there, and cocktail hour usually begins with the words “it is five o’clock somewhere”.

I am sure all of us brought in “summer” in a different way this last weekend. And even though the weather this week is more spring than summer, we have had a taste of the warm months to come. And whether you opened your real cottage, lay claim to someone else’s, or are content to go to that lovely cottage in your mind, I think we all bid summer a hearty welcome. What lay ahead are picnics and barbeques, festivals and fairs, and for us, a trip to “the cottage” in August.

Living in the moment seems to be the modern mantra, but remembering good things from the past, and looking forward to good things in the future cannot be discounted.

Should we limit ourselves to just living in the present–or have we learned that lesson well enough to start incorporating the past and looking forward to the future?

Published in: on May 20, 2015 at 12:57 pm  Comments (16)  

Saturday Morning

on thehomefrontandbeyond:

seriously something to consider…..we can meditate anywhere

Originally posted on Live & Learn:

peace-sleep-light-portrait
Meditation can happen anywhere – in a supermarket, in a forest, in your hospital bed. It is not a ‘doing’ but the unravelling of doing, a remembrance of the immediacy of life, the thrilling closeness of experience, the fragrance of Home. A single breath, the sound of a bird singing, the beeping of a heart monitor – all of these are little reminders of your true life. With your eyes open, with your eyes closed, remember, you are here, and always will be.

Make contact.

— Jeff Foster, Unexpected Meditation


Photo: precious things

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Published in: on May 16, 2015 at 1:10 pm  Leave a Comment  
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