Monday, March 23, 2015

Anxiety - a problem?

November 25, 2014

"Oh dear! Oh dear!
I think I'm one of those old ladies.

Anxiety.  I'm inclined to get anxious about things.
It could be because my partner is a "control" freak and has increasingly "managed" my life without any complaints from me.  It's just the way he is.  Therefore, I don't practise my "coping" skills in the slightest way, and when I feel a situation going sideways I'm sure I won't know how to dig my way out of it.
I feel better now that I have written those words so maybe if I talk about it more and write myself notes about it more, I can "lighten up".
Yeah.  It's funny about those words.  A couple of months back I told myself to start using those words more often, and I think I may be on to something.  When I realize I'm digging another "Oh dear Oh dear" hole, I say to myself "Lighten up!" and I can feel a certain smile inside my head, and a certain pressure releasing like air coming out very softly, and arms gently around me saying "there now, doesn't that feel better?"
I must think this through more.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

"ATTITUDE"

She was trying on a hat in Macy's department store.  She had girl friends with her, and was putting on a show to make them laugh.  The sales lady was black and gorgeous and laughed along with them.  "You've got attitude!" she said with just that right drawl.
Having attitude seems a lot like "acting out" although I've never quite put my finger on that theory.  "Acting out" could also describe writers and painters and musicians.  These people put their artistic personalities "out there".  They express what's in their souls and put it out for the world to see.  It seems to me that this would take some guts, to bare your innermost thoughts and feelings and passions and abilities.
If you were to line up the world, and put all the actors and musicians, and comedians, and writers, and dancers off to one side, it might look pretty small. Artists have different bells and whistles than the rest of humanity. 
This group must be growing though.  
Babies have cameras clicking as they come out of the womb.  Look at Facebook, listen to them talk.  Way more "in your face" than their parents were at that age. Look at their photo albums.  They have photo shoots, even dress up for them and pose in wonderful silliness. Teenage boys go to Malls to spend a day posing in various positions and various places in the Mall.  They don't even realize they have a sense of the shot, a perfect sense of silliness.  Artistic silliness.
You can shove a microphone in front of anyone on the street and as if they had been doing this sort of thing all their lives, "I saw it come down over there and then there was a loud explosion".  Take out your camera and the waiter, the girl in the table next to you, and the busboy fight over who will take your picture.
In far off lands, people are yelling and shouting and waving banners and flags and in some cases putting themselves in real danger fighting for a better life.  And all the while they know where the camera is and play to it. 
So, yes, perhaps there are folks that would say we have way too much 'attitude' .  Fair enough. 
I know there is an underside to this.  I know that we often say "He's way too full of himself". 
But in the trade-offs of life, I would respond most often to people with "attitude".
People who when they walk in a room make the others say "who's that?" People who light up a room. People who are larger than life. who say unusual things in unusual ways.  Attitude is not  the worst thing that a person can have.  

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Jigsaw Table



Jigsaw puzzles are one of my favorite things.  I decide I want to have one "on the go" all the time.  Part of my day.
I was using a card table on the landing upstairs, but it was ugly.
So I go shopping.  "Look, I'm not going to have a glass of wine with a friend up there, I'm not going to read a book.  I'm going to work on the puzzle, look out the window to check on the world, perhaps sit on a comfy chair the odd time with a phone call."
I walked right by it at first.  It had been on the floor for awhile, had the odd ding here and there, so it was priced right.  Although I had no idea what my table might look like, this turned out to be the exact thing.  And it looked even better when the delivery guys said "where?" and I said "right against that wall".
So now I pour my second cup of coffee and head right up here.
I've discovered that you can do a jigsaw puzzle and listen to the radio at the same time.  They seem to use different parts of the brain.
I get my puzzles from the Pomegranate website.  They cost about $18 each, and a lot of them are from the Boston Museum. 
I order about 10 at a time.Takes me about 2 months to do a puzzle.
I choose the hardest ones -  take a piece and move it slowly back and forth over the puzzle pieces saying "Are you my mother?"

Not sure whether Frank Lloyd Wright's "Pencils" is hard.  Maybe it will be easy. 


But how about this "Huichol Yarn Painting!".



My system is chaotic - a whole bunch of a certain color.  Small completed sections dotted everywhere.  You can't believe the rush when you pick up one of these and it slips so smoothly and magically into the big picture.
I whisper a lot - "You are a genius!"  "Just look!  Did you see what I just did!".  My pretend friend giggles her congratulations and I go down for more coffee.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Reading





"The habit of reading is the only one I know in which there is no alloy.  It lasts when all other pleasures fade.  It will be there to support you when all other resources are gone.  It will be present to you when the energies of your body have fallen away from you.  It will make your hours pleasant to you as long as you live."
I know a lot of people for whom this comment would resonate.   
A friend comes for a visit. Her overnight case has one thing in it - a book.  A big, big book.  It looks like it weighs about 10 pounds.
I can feel the resignation in her voice.  "Yes, I know.  But what could I do?  I had already waited for 3 months.  The library called - and well, here it is".
We laugh as we get in the car.  I don't think she gets much of a chance to read while she's here.  But I hope she got that book read before she had to return it.
Many times I've been surrounded by women talking non-stop about the books they're reading.  "Have you read it?" is always the first question, and if you say "no" the flood gates open.  At the bridge table, Tim Horton's, or while the men are talking hockey, the women are talking books.  Oprah seems to be a good source, and I think they read their share of book reviews but it seems to me they get most of their ideas from each other.
And this is happening all on a background of "people aren't reading books anymore".  
I secretly admire these women.  I'm embarrassed when I admit to never reading books. I feel like I'm not keeping up, not dedicated.  
And I think this is true.  I'm part of the computer generation that is losing it's ability to concentrate.  I do most of my reading on the Internet and even my print reading is magazines and newspapers.  Everything I read is short.  Just the other day I noticed that the articles on one of my favorite web sites are becoming a bit long.  It's making me nervous.  I'm clearing my throat as I begin to feel my fingers getting itchy.  My eye is looking wildly down the screen to see how much longer this article is going to last.  
One of my web sites lets you read the full article for a limited amount of time, and after that you just get the shortened version.  This used to really bug me.  And then one day I realized that I liked the shortened version.
Even reading newspapers on the Internet, they often give you 3 paragraphs or less, and then give you the option of clicking "read more - "  Less and less I am taking that option, having learned all I wanted from the 3 paragraphs.  
I haunt the movie review web sites and read them all.  Watch the movie reviews and movie clips.  I wouldn't think of watching a whole movie.  It usually disappoints.
I haunt the book review web sites and read them all.  Increasingly we are given the option of reading the first chapter of the book.  I don't think I'll continue to do this.  I always like the book review better than the first chapter of the book.
I read a lot of blogs.  I read a lot of poetry.  But I don't read books.
I'm in bed right now.  Awake early, and reach for my computer.  I need to find out who wrote the words I quoted above.  In the search, I catch up with the world as we know it. A perfect start to the day.
You know that song?  "I know a little bit about a lot of things . . . . . . ."  That's me.
(The fellow who I quoted at the beginning is Anthony Trollope.  He wrote "The Way We Live Now" - a scathing 100-chapter of English greed (1875)

Thursday, April 28, 2011

the Abbey

20 years ago, we were in Westminster Abbey.
It's a Sunday morning.  In London.  As we turn the first corner, we see a long long line up to the door of the church.
We walk to the front and say "We're here to take Communion".  
Without the slightest hesitation, the security rope is opened and in seconds we find ourselves in the lobby of the Abbey!
Before we can get our breath, the usher is there.  A discussion about seating.  
"It's a summer Sunday, and all we have here is the boys' choir, so there's lots of seats up there.  Would you like to sit in the Choir stalls?"

We try to look ho-hum about all this as we settle in our seats and timidly look to our left and stare at the crowd below filling the church.  Everything has happened so fast,  there's a "should I pinch myself to see if this is real" feeling about it all!
Is the word "Communion" the key to Westminster Abbey?  
Each seat has deep sides.  We have to lean forward to peak at each other.  It is comforting, because we feel exposed.  We hope that we look touristy enough that the rest of the crowd does not suppose we are members of the choir. 
Such an historic place. That morning, the past seems to be sitting next to us.
It still seems like a dream.  
We tell anyone who will listen about this adventure in our favorite city.
So here's to Kate and William.  We hope they have a perfect wedding day!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

CHINA

China has taken centre stage lately.  I've always wondered what buttons they have been pushing.
Here's a short "take" on what makes China tick.  I found it in the New York Times.  I was impressed at the simplicity of the writing.  I grasped the characterization of the country instantly, and the concept has stayed with me solidly.  In fact, I heard myself describing it to a friend the other day.  I was a bit taken aback at the fragility of the arrangement there, and the idea that somehow the people in charge had seemingly lucked into the formula for keeping things on an even keel.  But you have to be impressed.  Very impressed.


"China largely operates on Confucian/Buddhist/Daoist values.  "Harmony" and "harmonization" are not euphemisms in China.  They are essential and basic tenets of the need to maintain balance between coexistent opposing and conflicting forces.  The alternative, perfectly understood by most Chinese and anyone aware of China's culture and history, is turmoil and chaos.  
Pew Global opinion polls show that the present Chinese Government enjoys higher public support than most so-called democracies.  The reasons for this are that the present Chinese government, probably more than any other government in China's entire history, is viewed by its public as competently delivering social and economic progress, and harmony.  Today is a very different China from that of the Empress Dowager, of Sun Yat-sen and the warlords, of many years of civil was and foreign incursions, or of Mao Zedong.  It is a reformist authoritarian state with many democratic characteristics.
It is intensely interested in, and is responsive to domestic and global opinion.  But China understands itself: it cannot stay on its path of steady progress without an authoritarian element in maintaining harmony.
To get some idea how different China's concept of harmony is from western values, consider this:
Confucianism is secular - a hierarchical system of sublimation of the individual to the higher needs of society and family.
Chinese Buddhism is intensely spiritual and individualistic.
Daoism is mystical and shamanistic.
While there is a good dash of Islam and Christianity in the Chinese values cocktail as well, there is no acceptance for the traditional claims of universality of any of the great belief systems.  
The result is a paradox: an extraordinarily harmonious, tolerant and peaceable society which is inherently unstable if allowed to slip out of balance.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Bob Dylan




Maureen Dowd is an opinion writer for the New York Times - political stuff.
But lately she's been talking about Bob Dylan.
He did a concert in China.
Perhaps because the Chinese are nervous about all the civilian uprisings lately, he was required to tell them what he was going to sing.

Maureen Dowd was incensed.  She implied that Dylan was "selling out",  that he's a protest singer and should have sung protest songs in China.
Lots of writers came to his defense.
What interested me in all the background material about him was that he himself never thought he was political.  "I had very little in common with and knew even less about a generation that I was supposed to be the voice of."
Some folks are even saying that he put one over on the Chinese, and sang lots of stuff that should have made them angry.
I heard that he was on the top of his game at the concert and that his harmonica was sizzling - so that would have made the crowd extremely happy.
Leave him alone, Maureen.  He's an icon and we want our icons unsullied.
Her column garnered 300 letters, most of which supported him.  I read every one of them.