Self Criticism and Some Instructions on Life

I just re-read this one and I needed that little kick to get myself going again! Plus an update, I did release a copy of Bird-by-Bird in the Portland, Oregon area awhile ago; I hope someone found it and is enjoying the read.

Random & Rhyme

I recently started reading Anne Lamott’s, Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life and coincidentally one of my favorite blogs, BrainPickings posted an article, The Definitive Manifesto for Handling Haters: Anne Lamott on Priorities and How We Keep Ourselves Small by People-Pleasing. The article calls out items from the book and some commentary from Ms. Lamott’s Facebook page.

What makes Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life (public library) so timelessly rewarding and one of the greatest books on writing of all time is that besides her wisdom on the craft, Lamott extends enormous sensitivity to and consolation for the general pathologies of the human condition — our insecurities, our social anxieties, our inner turmoils. Among her most powerful and memorable meditations in the book is that on how our perfectionism kills the creative spirit — something she revisited recently in a short…

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“Follow the pencil!”…today’s historic Paris unity march

Nous sommes tous Charlie! We are all Charlie.
Thank you for a great article Caitlin!


By Caitlin Kelly


They came in wheelchairs and on crutches.

They came carried in baby slings.


They came — like Richard Smith, former editor of the British Medical Association Journal who I randomly met this morning at the cafe at St. Pancras Station as we were both about to board the 8:19 Eurostar to Paris — from other countries to show their solidarity. He decided, last-minute and spur of the moment, he had to cross the Channel to lend his support in person.

They came in six-inch stilettos and black leather trousers, teens to seniors, a river of humanity that started flooding across the city by 1pm heading to Place de la Republique.

I am Charlie, I am Arab but not Muslim, I am Jewish, I'm a cop, I'm North African...I am Charlie, I am Arab but not Muslim, I am Jewish, I’m a cop, I’m North African…

I joined them today — although to say that I marched would be inaccurate. There were far too many…

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I Am Afflicted With Wanderlust

Venice 1  As my world has begun to shrink, my wanderlust has begun to expand.

I keep reading books and blogs about travel and this desire continues to build up in me like the water behind a damn that is about to break. I was window shopping vacation rentals in Paris yesterday; imagining renting one for about six months and getting to write, walk the streets of Paris, learn some proper French and sit in a cafe and watch the world go by.

A Stephanie Rosenbloom article “Solo in Paris” in the May 2nd New York Times nicely sums up how I would love to spend my time.

“Indeed, the city has a centuries-old tradition of solo exploration, personified by the flâneur, or stroller. Flânerie is, in its purest form, a goal-less pursuit, though for some it evolved into a purposeful art: Walking and observing became a method of understanding a city, an age. Baudelaire described the flâneur as a passionate spectator, one who was fond of “botanizing on the asphalt,” as the essayist Walter Benjamin would later put it. Typically, it was a man. No longer.”

With observation and people watching being favorite pastimes this excerpt from the Ms. Rosenbloom’s article encapsulates the idea perfectly;

“To refuel, I stopped by a favorite among my friends, Le Comptoir du Relais, a cozy maroon bistro where English is hardly spoken. I walked in around 4:30, which meant I had no trouble getting lunch. Tall panes of glass were flung open, letting in the sidewalk, the better for gawking at passers-by, which I did shamelessly while eating salmon with wasabi and turnips. Places like this, where one looks out as others look in, are ideal for solo travelers. I had that exquisite feeling described by Baudelaire in “The Painter of Modern Life,” in which you “see the world,” are “at the center of the world,” and yet “remain hidden from the world.””

I also found this wonderful blog post yesterday on Medium by Keegan Jones, Lessons From A Year of Solo Travel. He has some great observations and interesting tips and information about seeing the world. The first one was that he planned to spent less than $33/ day on accommodations but after a year on the road he spent less;

“Travel can be affordable.
Long term travel is different than a luxury vacation. The point is to see the world, not stay in a 5-star hotel. During the trip, I stayed on a strict budget. The goal was to spend no more than $33 per day on accommodations. After a year, I was able to spend only $26.15 per day by booking through HostelWorld and Airbnb. When I wanted to meet people, I’d stay in a shared room at a hostel. When I wanted to be alone, I’d book a private room with Airbnb.”

He also posted a picture of the limited possessions and clothes that he traveled with over his year of travel. Maybe 30 items.

“I have lived with a few things in a backpack for a year. I have been perfectly content. It’s a fantastic feeling to walk off an airplane with a single carry-on backpack. I didn’t buy a single souvenir because I had no extra space in my backpack. I have become more conscious about things I want versus things that I need. The less you own, the better. Otherwise, your possessions will own you. Living this way is a privilege. It affords the flexibility to easily move, live in less space, worry less, and spend less to buy bigger and better things.”

This was the most appealing part of the story to me, shedding all the possessions that are weighing me down and getting down to the basic necessities of life with maybe a few luxuries in there for fun.

And this quote, from the author Jon Krakauer, that he included also got me thinking.

““Make a radical change in your lifestyle and begin to boldly do things which you may previously never have thought of doing, or been too hesitant to attempt. So many people live within unhappy circumstances and yet will not take the initiative to change their situation because they are conditioned to a life of security, conformity, and conservation, all of which may appear to give one peace of mind, but in reality nothing is more damaging to the adventurous spirit within a man than a secure future. The very basic core of a man’s living spirit is his passion for adventure. The joy of life comes from our encounters with new experiences, and hence there is no greater joy than to have an endlessly changing horizon, for each day to have a new and different sun. If you want to get more out of life, you must lose your inclination for monotonous security and adopt a helter-skelter style of life that will at first appear to you to be crazy. But once you become accustomed to such a life you will see its full meaning and its incredible beauty.” ― Jon Krakauer”

I have always been the responsible planner that makes sure the trip is planned, the bills are paid, the next job is lined up, the birthday cards are mailed and on and on. I would like to escape the “monotonous security” for a while. I know my opportunity will come, I am working on being ready for it when the time is right!

How about you any secret travel lust?


Will I Be Alone?

IMG_0018  Recently, I sat inside a restaurant by a window looking out on to the patio eating area outside. An old woman with an oxygen tank sat out there alone eating her lunch and reading the “Trader Joe’s” “Fearless Flyer”.  Her grey hair was cut in a stylish short bob, she wore a colorful sweater and cute sneakers. The cord for her oxygen tank was tucked discreetly under her shirt and dangling to the ground with the tank itself in the seat next to her in a black bag.

She made me wonder about my life at that age (I do hope I make it that long in good health). Will I be alone? Chances are, yes I will be alone. I don’t have biological children, my step-daughters are older than I am, the grandkids are in far off places and I haven’t gotten to know the great-grandchildren as well as I would have liked. They grow up and get busy and we get less mobile.

Finding a second love of my life seems doubtful in my 50’s or my 60’s if I’m lucky enough to keep my husband healthy for that long. So a grey haired single life will be in my future. I guess for some the grey haired single life is swinging, a New York Times Op-Ed article I read, Sex and the Single Senior by Ezekiel J. Emanuel talked about the huge uptick in STD’s in those ages 65 and older;

“Numbers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show rapid increases in S.T.D.’s among older people. Between 2007 and 2011, chlamydia infections among Americans 65 and over increased by 31 percent, and syphilis by 52 percent. Those numbers are similar to S.T.D. trends in the 20- to 24-year-old age group, where chlamydia increased by 35 percent and syphilis by 64 percent. Experts suggest there are four main factors contributing to the rise in S.T.D.’s among older Americans.”

The article also pointed out the similarities of retirement living to college campus living with lots of similarly aged people living in close proximity to one and other which was leading to the inevitable interaction of the sexes. This statistic about condom use was also interesting;

“But while they are having a lot of sex, seniors didn’t seem to get the safe sex memo, or when it came through they ignored it because they did not think it applied to them. They obviously don’t have to worry about pregnancy. And they grew up before the safe sex era. So seniors might think they have no reason to use condoms. According to the 2010 National Survey of Sexual Health and Behavior, among college-age Americans, condoms are used in about 40 percent of sexual encounters, but only in about 6 percent of sexual encounters among those 61 and older. A study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine showed that older men who use Viagra and similar drugs are six times less likely to use condoms compared with men in their 20s.”

Apparently they need to begin handing out safe sex pamphlets with those Viagra prescriptions. Mr. Emanuel suggested Social Security begin sending out safe sex messages with the retirement checks.

All of this rings true, I know not long after (I mean in a matter of weeks) my grandmother passed away there were at least three women vying for my grandfathers affections. And it wasn’t long before he had a girlfriend he was traveling with and spending time time together cooking and golfing. He said he wasn’t in love, but he liked the company.

Maybe there won’t be a second love of my life, but chances are I could get laid in my old age, if trends hold true. But, “No Glove, No Love” will be the rule.

Do you worry about any particular part of growing older?


IMG_0559   That elusive day way off in the distance when I can give my suits to Goodwill, ride off into the sunset and do what I want. But what?

My husband, as I mentioned in a previous post, is a lot older than I am and can technically retire whenever he feels like it. A pension and social security are ready and waiting for the day he decides he doesn’t want to or can not work any longer. But he doesn’t want to retire just yet. He says “I’m not ready”, “What would I do with myself all day?” and  “I don’t want to just sit in the house and stare out the window until you come home from work.”  But what could he do with his time if he wasn’t working? He says he has no idea.

A recent New York Times article by Tara Siegel Bernard about Coping When Not Entering Retirement Together talks about the need to communicate, the feelings of guilt on the retirees part about spending money when the other spouse is still working and working out your schedules. An excerpt;

With more and more baby boomers retiring each year, either by choice or because they lost their jobs in the economic downturn, many couples must coexist, if only temporarily, in different phases of life. Living two different realities can lead to a variety of challenges, both financial and emotional, from brewing resentments about how a partner is spending free time, to how to reconcile the spending mind-set of a retiree and of someone still collecting a paycheck.

I would probably be a little jealous of his free time, but I also know he has more than earned the right to retire when he’s ready.

But I don’t want to get to 67 and not have that next thing to engage my life. In fact I want more things than work to engage in now; which is part of the reason I began this blog so that I can begin to enjoy one of my passions. Retirement is 20 years away, I don’t want to keep planning on living the way I want to in 20 years, I want to do it now. But how?

Also, there is “the bucket list”. I found several sites recently that are focused on helping and documenting people checking things off their bucket list. The Bucket List Society and The Bucket List Blog are a couple I found interesting. My list is long and mostly filled with places that I want to travel to; Scotland, Japan, Thailand, India, Vietnam, Peru, Venezuela, Cuba, Alaska, Kenya and on and on. I have two friends that are travel addicts and am quite envious before and after every trip they take.

I have been stuck for awhile, but I am slowly figuring out my next steps, what brings me fulfillment and happiness and I am evaluating what and who I want in my life and I am going to make those things happen.

Do you have a plan for life after retirement or to live the life you want now?