Where Did I Come From?

232323232fp-94>nu=3369>734>3;9>245-7344--248ot1lsi

I had every intention of writing and publishing a couple of new stories this week, but when I started researching a question for a story some how I ended up looking something up on Ancestry.com and I have been completely sucked into it, spending most of last Sunday just looking around.

Wow, so much interesting information. And, one of my grandmother’s relatives has done a huge amount of work on that part of the family tree. She had posted pictures of family, places they lived or had gotten married and filled in several generations of family  – it was so cool!

  • My Great, Great Grandfather George came through Ellis Island in 1907
  • My Great Grandmother Kate had like 10 brothers and sisters
  • My fathers mother was married once before she married my grandfather
  • My Grandma Jean’s father passes away in Texas and never had any other children with his second wife.

Now I have to check in with one of my great aunts that is still with us and get some more details on my Dad’s side of the family.

Sorry for my distraction, but it can really capture your attention.

 

 

Too Much S#%T!

A past poem I wrote contains the line: “my possessions own me” and that is feeling more true than ever this week. I am being drug down by all my stuff. Why do I need 12 plates when I rarely feed more than my husband and me? Why do I have 4 sets of salt and pepper shakers, why do I have 4 containers of kitchen utensils on my counter, why do I have all this space for two of us and two dogs? It’s just more time spent cleaning than having fun and enjoying life. I don’t enjoy housework, why have such a big house? (and my place really isn’t that big) And these are just the things I see from my kitchen, let’s not even look in my bathroom or my closet.

Several New York Times articles on money, retirement and family life touch on the nature of “stuff” and “possessions”. In this one, “The Way We Live: Downing in Stuff” by Penelope Green she interviews a researcher on a UCLA study of 32 typical middle class families and all their stuff. One quote really got me thinking…..

Finally, there was a direct relationship between the amount of magnets on refrigerators and the amount of stuff in a household.”    uh oh!

IMG_0358

That is a lot of magnets on my fridge!

This article on retirement and happiness, “For Some, Tis a Gift to be Simple” by Ron Lieber talks about a study by two researchers that are looking into the field of happiness;

“….they were trying to help answer one of the next big questions in the emerging field of happiness studies. Already, scholars in the field have established that experiences tend to make people happier than possessions. What we do, it seems, has more potential for lasting satisfaction and memory-making than what we have.”

Experiences tend to make people happier than possessions” and I am sure they are not taking about the experience of acquiring those possessions. Vacations, time spent with family, time spent in pursuit of learning something new or time spent with friends are the things that make people happy. Shit, no wonder I feel weighed down.

And this piece from the same article also intrigued me because shopping and acquiring has become a solitary, computer driven endeavor for me; focused on finding the best deal, using that coupon code and getting cash back for stuff, if I am truly honest, I know I don’t need.

“Once upon a time, with roots that go back to medieval marketplaces featuring stalls that functioned as stores, shopping offered a way to connect socially, as Ms. Liebmann and others have pointed out. But over the last decade, retailing came to be about one thing: unbridled acquisition, epitomized by big-box stores where the mantra was “stack ’em high and let ’em fly” and online transactions that required no social interaction at all — you didn’t even have to leave your home.

And this recent New York Times article by David Wallis looks at retirees that dump their possessions and hit the road;

SOME call themselves “senior gypsies.” Others prefer “international nomad.” David Law, 74, a retired executive recruiter who has primarily slept in tents in several countries in the last two years, likes the ring of “American Bedouin.”

They are American retirees who have downsized to the extreme, choosing a life of travel over a life of tending to possessions. And their numbers are rising.

A life of travel over a life of tending to possessions” there it is again possessions and what it does to weigh down and anchor your life. Shedding a bunch of my possessions and removing that burden from my life seems like it is just the answer I am looking for to feel better, worry less and live a happier life.

Now I don’t think I could ever go to the extreme simplicity route and pick a number of items, most articles seem to pick 100 and live with only those. But being much more mindful of the need, verse want, verse acquiring for entertainment would, I think, be a big step in the right direction.

What about you – do you have more possessions than you really need? Do you ever feel weighed down by all of it?

Back on the Wagon

Writing Books  I have not written much nor published anything new in the last couple of weeks. I have been consumed by work and worry. I should instead be happy, enjoying my life and of course writing. I have “fallen off the wagon” of writing daily. How do I get back on that wagon?

A writer friend of mine, that I also work with, stopped by my office the other day and gave me a nudge. Thank you Todd!!

My dad called the other day and also gave me a poke! Thank you Dad!

I have gotten some of my favorite writers advise books out and am getting inspired.

I am swinging my leg back up on that wagon tonight, look for something new this weekend!

How do you reignite your passion when the flame has flickered?

 

 

 

Walking for Make-A-Wish

With 6 weeks until the fundraising walk I am reblogging this post in hopes of gathering a few more donations! Thanks again to everyone who’s donated or walking with us!

Random & Rhyme

1901227_720170031328084_2097966164_n

The little boy in the picture is my good buddy Logan. He was diagnosed with Leigh’s disease about two years ago after years of diagnostic testing. Leigh’s is a Mitochondrial disease. You can read more about Leigh’s disease here and here. But the short explanation is:

“Leigh’s disease, genetic mutations in mitochondrial DNA interfere with the energy sources that run cells in an area of the brain that plays a role in motor movements. The primary function of mitochondria is to convert the energy in glucose and fatty acids into a substance called adenosine triphosphate (ATP). The energy in ATP drives virtually all of a cell’s metabolic functions. Genetic mutations in mitochondrial DNA, therefore, result in a chronic lack of energy in these cells, which in turn affects the central nervous system and causes progressive degeneration of motor functions.”       There is no cure.

Logan is the sweetest…

View original post 203 more words

Suicide

I have been thinking about the death of fashion designer L’wren Scott since her suicide was reported several months ago.  We were about the same age, she was beautiful, in what seemed to be a happy relationship with a business that seemed to be growing and successful. I have been trying to understand what drives someone to take their own life, to be so depressed that death seems the only option for release.  And is there anything I could do to help people in my life that might be in that much despair. And with yesterday’s announcement of the death by apparent suicide of Robin Williams it brought all the questions flooding back again: Why? How could I have helped? Is there anyone I see or in my daily life that is struggling? What could I do? What should I do?

I know and love people with addictions and thankfully they have figured out ways to get clean or stay sober and I am in awe of their commitment and the work that they put in every day to get this far and live a sober life. I try to understand the addiction part, but I don’t know that I will ever truly understand. I just hope if they ever need help or are feeling themselves slipping that they will reach out and ask for my help or the help of someone who loves and cares for them.

I have a couple of friends that have taken antidepressants at different times in their lives, after a divorce and after a terrible breakup and job loss. They describe the despair, lethargy, sadness, loneliness and the difficulty doing even the simplest tasks. I just can’t imagine how hard that was for them, but I am so thankful that they were strong enough to seek help and that it actually worked for them. Both are now no longer taking drugs and are happy, back into life and feeling better.

I have been looking a few different sites about suicide prevention and I found the step-by-step advice on www.Suicideispreventable.org easy to use with helpful information – Know the signs, Find the Words and Reach Out.  Find resources and have them on hand so that you are prepared, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available at 1-800-273-8255. They also say if you think the situation is critical take the person to the nearest emergency room or call 9-1-1.  They have a lot more information to help you approach a conversation with someone you care about and love. If you need help they also have a link at the top of the page “GET HELP” that will link you to resources, help and someone to talk to about how your feeling and what you need. Please call.

I hope everyone has at least one person in their lives that they know loves and cares about them and wants them here with them and to help them find a reason to live.

Take care of yourself and take care of each other.

Mindful Living

Eating better, a coffee addiction, stress, lack of exercise and “living to work, rather than working to live” have all been on my mind lately. With probably one of the most stressful stretches of work in the last few months contributing to my sleepless nights, poor eating habits and coffee addiction, I am trying to make changes in my life to break the cycle. But man it is hard! Habits you are in are hard to break and habits you want to get into are hard to form.

On the eating better front, I try to buy healthy food and snacks; but when I get home exhausted and stressed out I don’t feel like cooking and cleaning up and end up eating something unhealthy or ordering in food that is also less than healthy and expensive. And then the healthy food I did buy on the weekend with good intentions ends up going to waste adding to my guilt over wasting money and food. It’s a vicious, vicious circle.

My coffee addiction, at least one or two “skinny vanilla lattes” every morning is needed or my day doesn’t really get started. My husband bought me a really nice Pasquiani espresso maker a few years ago for my birthday and I love it. I love it for many reasons, first I don’t have to get my clothes on and run to the local coffee place for my latte in the morning, second it’s much cheaper to make the latte at home with my own ingredients. But I still sometimes end up going to Starbucks or wherever to get another one because I just can wake up. And according to a recent New York Times article by Anna North the coffee addiction is just another fast food problem in America, here’s an excerpt;

“But the notion that lattes are a sign of privilege may be off-base. Kyla Wazana Tompkins, a professor of English and gender and women’s studies who’s a former food journalist and the author of “Racial Indigestion: Eating Bodies in the 19th Century,” told Op-Talk that “the latte, while it may be attached on a certain level to too much upper-class food knowledge and pretension, it really is no longer an upper-class drink.” She explained: “No matter how many kale salads Starbucks puts in their case, Starbucks is a fast-food purveyor.” The latte, she argued, “is a high-calorie food that’s being pushed in an industrialized way largely to working-class people.” And, she added, “it’s important to think about the explosion of all of these industrialized lattes, all these frozen lattes, all the Frappuccinos, as links to a larger problem of creating cheap, high-calorie, low-nutrition food for working-class people.”

I am not sure I totally agree with the “high-calorie” bit, while it is true you can get an 800 calorie frappuchino at any coffee outlet, just like you can get a 1,500 calorie meal at McDonalds, it is still about choices. My choice rings in at a reasonable 120 calories. But that gets back to what are the choices we are making in our lives. Do we consume 1,500 at lunch and then go back to our homes and sit on our butts watching TV or playing video games and then consuming our 1,5000 calorie dinner and going to bed. Or are we ordering a reasonable meal, getting some exercise and only occasionally indulging in a high calorie treat? We all have choices and make them everyday, either mindfully with intention or mindlessly to compensate for things that are missing in our lives or just plain out of a bad habit.

I also wrote recently about my attempt to “Learn Something New” and my new SUP boarding fun. But this also comes down to making time for exercise and doing something that is good for your mind and body. With 50+ hour work weeks, stress and the demands of family, pets, kids etc it can be very hard to fit in those things that are fun and good for you, but I am trying to make time for them because when I think about their importance to a healthy life I know that they are as critical as going to the dentist regularly and healthy eating.

Stress, work/life balance and taking better care of myself all seem problems I can’t seem to get control of and it’s my fault because I make my choices; consciously or unconsciously. Sometimes it feels like I take one step forward and two steps backwards in my conscience living attempts. But, I know it’s for my own good to keep trying, keep learning and keep improving and I will get there some day.

Do you have any tips for mindful living and making better life choices?

 

Myanmar in Pictures

Seth, a friend of mine that I mentioned in a previous post, I’m Afflicted with Wanderlust, who travels all the time and fills me with so much envy; traveled to Myanmar, the former country of Burma, last December. He took some amazing photo’s and had a couple of fundraisers/art shows sharing the beautiful pictures and tales of his travels. He offered one of his friends and me a tour on a recent visit to his office. (he’s a lawyer in his day job, I try not to hold that against him)

Seth proudly showing his photo’s

He also wrote a piece in the Daily Journal of Commerce about his trip where he shared some of the history of the country and a few interesting stories and misadventures. Here is an excerpt about a portion of his trip where he decided to rent a moped to head up to a hot spring outside a city he was visiting;

After a little reflection, I realized that weaving in and out of traffic (semis, buses, other mopeds), armed with a meek little horn and a broken blinker, was proof positive that I don’t value my own life quite enough. When I arrived, thankful to be counted among the living, I planted the kickstand, and that’s when I realized something else, a bit less important than the value of life. I had forgotten a towel.”

And yet he made the best of it when he decided to have a beer instead; a taxi driver found him interesting and wanted to know why he isn’t in the hot springs. Seth tells him that he forgot his towel, and the man hurries off and comes back with a longyi (According to Seth, a traditional cloth wrap worn by everyone other than tourists, replacing pants and similar to a sarong) for him to use to visit the pool.

For some reason this seems to be a typical Seth story, he forgets his towel and a man provides one, he smiles and a lady crosses the street to give him a flower(see below). No wonder he has survived months of travel and had really very little bad things happen to him.

IMG_0277

Flower Woman

The lovely woman in the picture above is the one from his story that offered him a flower.

“I noticed someone dodging traffic, walking towards me, with purpose. The woman stopped and handed me a bright crimson flower with a short stem. I thanked her as best I could. She didn’t speak any English, and Burmese, the mother tongue, was way beyond my pay grade.

The woman cupped one hand and motioned towards her nose. “Smell it,” she implied, without saying anything. So I did. And I’m glad I listened. The smell was incredible: rich and fragrant, anise and clover.

I carried the flower with me that day and the next, all the way to the airport, where I finally left it, wilting on a window ledge.”

Seth is full of stories from his adventure; including trying some weird goopy “peyote” like substance from a stand and enjoying it, eating mostly street cart food and never getting ill, moped rides, crazy train rides and more. You can see more of Seth’s pictures on his website.

IMG_0294

A Few of My Favorite Pictures

 

I now have another location on my bucket list of places to visit. Do you have a favorite place that you think I should see?