So, What Was the Question?

English: Vesper Martini Português: Vesper Martini

Vesper Martini (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The top three answers in a survey by the newly off the presses “livehappy” magazine were:

1. Be present.

2. Make, bring, or share food!

3. Do something unexpected.

I love all three of these answers and they pretty well cover the elements of a happy life. The question that elicited these responses was “How would you make others happy during the holidays”, but I would like to put forth the theory that these three answers are the solution to that question that has bugged all of us sometime in our lives and that is: “What is the point?”

The point is to be here and now and understand that that is all you really have and you should make the best of it. Food is almost always a good answer to any question—whether the delicacies be indulgent, or healthy, or both. Food provides nourishment, comfort, and if is a chocolate cake–happiness.

 And the third answer? That is the one that keeps us on our toes. The unexpected shakes things up—that is why ‘Bond, James Bond’, always wanted his drink “shaken, not stirred”. He knew that stirred would probably produce a better drink—but he wanted something more and stirring was just not exhilarating enough. Think about the whole process—to shake a drink you create drama, while stirring neither inflames or inspires—it merely gets the job done. (I read somewhere that shaking your drink does not result in a better drink; stirring does—but stirring brings to mind a double double not a *martini—which is much more cosmopolitan.) I think I may have wrung this metaphor (or whatever it is I am trying to express) dry. (Pun intended).

Anyway, back to the point—what is your answer to “How would you make others happy (and yourself) during the holidays? We are allowed to be a little self-indulgent at this time of year, don’t you think?

·        For the erudite: It was in the movie Casino Royale in 1953, that Bond orders “Three measures of Gordon’s, one of vodka, half a measure of Kina Lillet. Shake it very well until it’s ice-cold, then add a large thin slice of lemon peel.” (Wikipedia)

Something New

My column for this week’s paper incorporates a couple of blog posts I wrote in the last week or so but in a new way–so thank you for persevering through some repeated “wisdom” slanted a new way:

September

September (Photo credit: Helgi Halldórsson/Freddi)

   The nostalgia that September and the new school year brings is so palatable, you can almost taste it. It is something that probably 98% of us share. Yet we tend to remember school in idealized terms—the new clothes for the first day, the new books and pencils, the sharpened pencil crayons and shiny new math set all meant that we had a new chance to begin again. And beginnings are exciting. Every September during our school age years was another chance to be the brightest and best. I had a spotty academic career—I lost a few years in teenage angst, but I came back, brought my grades up and spent what I look back on now as wonderful years at university.

            I was perhaps an odd duck when it came to school. In grade school I was always in the top 10, usually the top five in my class. But high school changed that and it took me a few years to adapt, to realize that I had to study. I still got by because I could write a mean essay—but that did not bode well for French class, math, science, or an ill-fated attempt to learn shorthand (I thought that would be easier than Latin—but it wasn’t for me). I still regret not putting a little more effort into those classes—but it was history and English, political science and sociology that caught my interest and by grades 12 and 13, I was back to getting good grades, once I got to leave behind those pesky subjects that did not come “naturally”.

                I am again excited come this September—but this time for my youngest son, who will be taking a “graduate” course at college in communications and public relations. He has a business marketing college diploma under his belt, but he was not all that enamoured with the course. His new program looks exciting in the syllabus and I think it is right up his alley—and I am playing the encouraging parent to the hilt—or at least as much as I think he can put up with. He too, though, is pretty happy about the new courses.

            We all need a challenge. When we went to school, each year was a new challenge, but as adults we have to set our own course, find new things to conquer, new things to learn. The latest challenge I have set for myself is to learn to “Let It Be”—those wonderful words of wisdom from the Beatles. And in doing so I am going to put this little exercise to work. It comes from the book, “One Minute Mindfulness” by Donald Altman. His subtitle: “50 simple ways to find peace, clarity, and new possibilities in a stressed-out world,” caught my attention, because let’s face it, who doesn’t want peace and clarity?

            Anyway, the exercise is this: “For one minute during the day, let go of one belief or behaviour that you typically cling to. If you always eat all the food on your plate, leave some and learn how to let it be. If you normally expect your partner to do something in a certain way, try to take on the task yourself or surrender to the way it is even if you don’t feel it’s as it should be. Let it be. Every day, let one more thing be, just for the fun of it.”I do not always eat everything on my plate so it is the second half of his exercise I have to concentrate on: Let it be. Not as simple as it sounds. At all.

            I have come to the realization that just because something purports to be simple, it does not mean it is easy. Simple and easy are not synonyms even if my thesaurus disagrees with me.  Simple and wise concepts are sometimes the hardest things to apply. They seem straightforward. How much more straightforward could something be than to “Let it be”? But how many of us can actually incorporate this into our lives?

            While I will not be returning to a school of mortar and bricks this September, I will be continuing my education in an ongoing effort to improve myself, my situation in life, and my endeavour to do what Oscar Wilde calls the rarest thing in life: to live. Here he says it in his own inimitable way: “To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all.”

            I don’t think Wilde was having a good day when he said this, although I do not think he was known for his sunny disposition as he had challenges of his own. So I will take his words and combine it with the Beatles’ sage advice, and learn to: “Live and let it be”, rather than take the James Bond attitude, “Live and let die.”

Published in: on August 26, 2013 at 12:35 pm  Comments (14)  
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M ~ Mighty Mouse

Mighty Mouse in Ralph Bakshi's adaptation

Mighty Mouse in Ralph Bakshi’s adaptation (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I decided that since my sister wrote me in an email that my “M” posting confused her because she was trying to figure out how “M” actually figured into my post about James Bond–that I would do a real post about “M”. So here goes:

My eldest son’s nickname is Mouse. It was given to him when he played basketball in elementary school and followed him all the way to grade 12. He was on every basketball team there was at the schools he attended. Junior elementary. Senior elementary. Junior High School. Senior High School. (Get ready for some bragging: in High School he won Most Dedicated Player when he was on both the Junior and Senior Teams. One is sitting on my bookshelf above where I am writing this as we speak).

He was given the nickname Mouse I think because they thought he was quiet. This confused me. He was not quiet at home. He was not quiet in class, though never a real disruption. He just was not quiet as a mouse anywhere that I came into contact with him. Now he was exceedingly polite to his teachers and his coaches, but he was not quiet. (Have I made my point here–the boy was, and as a young man is not QUIET).

We have an apartment attached to our house which he uses for band practice and just general hanging around in when he is here. He calls it the Mousetrap. His band is called Rodents & Rebels. Now I ask you, how did sweet little (but not quiet) Mouse become a Rodent? I guess Mouse was just not scary enough to go with Rebels.

There you have – my real post starting with a real M for Mighty Mouse–my non-quiet son!

Published in: on September 14, 2012 at 8:21 pm  Comments (22)  
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M is for Bond ~ James Bond; Or, What Is In A Name?

James Bond 007

James Bond 007 (Photo credit: Dave McLear)

Okay, I know M is not for Bond, James Bond—but I have always liked the way he introduced himself. I wonder if I could make such an outstandingly memorable introduction of myself. I am almost apologetic about my name. Not that I do not like it—just that my name is sort of long and then I added my husband’s last name to it, with a hyphen no less.

I was quite adamant about keeping my name when I got married – after all it was my name and I was attached to it. Not all people feel this way, but I did, and I still do. It is just my personal statement and I do not in any way want to make a decision for anyone else.

When I was married thirty years ago, I was not a rebel–there were many women who kept their names, added their husband’s name to theirs, or hyphenated.  And there were many then, as now, who take on their husband’s name. It is all a personal choice. But as a choice I think it should be respected.

There are still those who call me Mrs. My Husband’s Last Name, and that is okay, though I always think they are referring to his mother. But then there are those who do it to bug me, to kind of put me “in my place”. And those are the people I do not readily respond to. When I do respond, I do it with a surprised look, and say “Oh, are you talking to me?” Admittedly  this does not happen much now—but it happened a lot when I was first married.

Many people, when they have a name as long as mine, have come up with a signature scrawl to compensate for the length. I have not—though many times I will use my initials when I can get away with it. That does not work at the bank or on legal documents though, and I have detected a yawn or two while I finish scribbling my name.

For a while I thought I was being clever and started to use partial initials and part of my last name as a reporter to kind of hide my identity. I work for a small town newspaper and I thought this would hide me from controversial stuff—but generally there is not much controversial stuff, and it fools no one anyway. My column carries my full name—but perhaps this is where I really need to hide my identity. Especially this week, when I made both a spelling mistake and error in grammar.

But I digress—I like my full last name—it is kind of distinctive, albeit lengthy.