Reflections

Laying Like a Vegetable, Netflix, and Victorian England

Sometimes life knocks us down. Then, like the fighter who has just won a match, it places a foot on our back and crosses its arms in a stance of triumph and assumes a smug “I dare you to try to get up” expression.

In the hurry-scurry that is life, I’ve occasionally longed for a few days of doing nothing. Vegetable days it seems they may have been called. Days when I could just lie around like a vegetable and do nothing. I’m not sure why vegetables came to be associated like this. After all, why should we assume there’s nothing going on when a vegetable is lying around? They often get riper, change color. begin to shrivel or mold. At the least it seems they start attracting those pesky gnats.

My Mom told me the other day that if you place a small bowl of cider vinegar on the counter near fruits and vegetables it will keep those gnats away. I can understand that. There’s a powerful olfactory sensation that rises from a bowl of cider vinegar. I don’t know if gnats have nostrils. Maybe they just see the fumes rising from the bowl and steer clear of the contaminated air space. I can imagine them gathered off to the side in tiny gnat gas masks studying the effects of acidic pollution on gnat wings.

It’s easy to let your mind wander and wonder about miniscule things like this when you’re down for the count from life and laying like a vegetable. The shrinking and molding is easy to relate to as well. Especially after devoting hours to exercising only an elbow, wrist and thumb on the treadmill that is the remote control.

I’ve just come off a long string of “vegetable” days. Unable to concentrate to read, I filled the need for excitement by dialing in old BBC historical series on Netflix. The first qualification for selection was at least 13 episodes. The second, by default, became the historical time period of Victorian England.

I became Lillie Langtry fighting for survival and position in a Victorian box with faux morals, defined roles and strict distinctions of class. “Indeed.” “Alas.” “Oh, my dear.” “Certainly, my Prince, you may build me a house in the countryside away from your wife.”

King Edward VII

I empathized with Prince Edward who was blamed by his Mother, Queen Victoria, for the death of his Father, Prince Albert, and who had to wait until he was 59 to fulfill his destiny. Even so, through the 13 episodes, my patience grew thin and his lavish lifestyle lost its luster as I watched him overeat, over travel, and over indulge in court beauties on his way to finally becoming King Edward VII.

Fearing my own demise from inactivity, I feverishly worked my forearm up and down using the remote as a kind of mini-barbell and indulged a bit less in chocolate covered cranberries.

Next came the Forsyte Saga and finally Upstairs Downstairs where the Bellamy household presided as a precursor to the Crawley’s of Downton Abbey. Then, as my mind cleared of the anesthesia and antibiotics, I could read instead of watch the life of the Poldarks.

Time travel is questionable. But I have done it with the magic of Netflix, a remote control containing two new AA batteries, the archives of my local library, and an on-your-back, knock-you-down summer. I’m a bit like a squishy vegetable that has lain too long on the counter. But in my mind I’m not just regaining my strength. No, I’m elegantly dressed and dancing with royalty as the smell of cider vinegar waifs through the air. Life is good! Indeed!

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Categories: Challenges, Commitment, Reflections, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

7 Lessons from an Unexpected Date

I reckon being ill as one of the great pleasures of life, provided one is not too ill and is not obliged to work till one is better.  ~Samuel Butler, The Way of All Flesh, 1903

Often surprises create positive emotions within us. Maybe like surprise birthday parties, surprise proposals, or surprise gifts.

Other times surprises wreak a bit of havoc on our emotions. Perhaps like a large cell phone bill or an unexpected break-up of a relationship. Or even like my recent unexpected date with the operating room and the subsequent longer-than-expected and longer-than-desired recovery period.

But, hey, I just happen to have this ongoing project of 52 Dates with Myself.  And, as the project leader and manager, I have full authority to determine what constitutes a date. So, yes, a surprise date in the OR most definitely gets counted!

Besides, look at just a few of the things I’ve learned so far: 

  • Wheel chair drivers really should have to take a driving test.
  • IV – doesn’t mean I have to give the same nurse 4″ times to get the intravenous drip set.
  • Pain pills often have acetaminophen, so be sure you do the math before the brain fog from the narcotics kicks in.
  • When you’re near the top of the emergency triage list, you get to witness and experience the full professionalism of the medical staff.
  • My capacity for exhaustion is much larger than I ever imagined.
  • My tolerance for pain not so much.
  • Recognition and gratitude for caregivers can never be overdone.

In spite of all this, I still prefer the dates I get to choose and plan.

Ponder & Chat: What lessons have you learned from one of your life’s surprises?

Categories: Challenges, Reflections, Uncategorized, Wisdom | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Three things I’ve learned about finding courage on 52 Dates with Myself

Dating myself often requires that I boldly go beyond my normal comfort zone.

Courage seems to come much more naturally with companionship. Sort of like an unspoken, “I double-dog dare you” between friends out for a good time. This can be especially true when the companion is a gregarious extrovert with dangling coat strings we introverts can ride.

But when you’re flying solo – and doing it 52 times – courage has to be brought along in different ways. In fact, not only does it have to be brought along, but it has to be let go. Freed, if you will, to do its work.

Along the way these last four months there’s three things I’ve found that have helped to bolster my courage for 52 Dates with Myself:

  1. Connect. 52 Dates with Myself is not about isolation. It’s about connection. Connection with myself and connection with others whom I encounter in the process of my dates. I’m also connecting with my environment, with history, and with a wide variety of experiences. All of these are providing me with opportunities to learn more about myself and my world.
  2. Smile. Not only does it make people wonder what I’m up to, it brightens my face, makes it much easier to make eye contact, and often makes it easier to start a simple conversation. Conversations lead to connection.
  3. Share my first name and get theirs. Maybe it’s my waiter, the tour guide, or a bench dweller in the park. Yes, I need to be cautious and trust my instincts. But, I also know that courage is sometimes the better judge of people. And, caution can sometimes bring unfounded fear and create unnecessary isolation.

There you have them. Connect. Smile. Share your first name and get theirs. Now that you have some tips for finding your courage, get out there and have date with yourself.

Ponder & Chat: What other ideas do you have that might help you have the courage to date yourself or just try a solo experience?  How might you commit to finding your courage to go on a solo date?

Categories: Challenges, Commitment, Reflections, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Solo Traveling: Surprising Moments with Nature

The wharf at Mount Vernon with nesting osprey on the front piling.

Sometimes nature offers up the best surprises!

Like it did on my visit to Mount Vernon, the home of our first president, George Washington. Among the pristine gardens, the stately riverfront home, the history, and the visitors, was a rough-hewn home and feathered family who captured my heart.

Osprey nest on piling at Mount Vernon wharf – home of President George Washington

Though they’re common place among east coast dwellers, to those of us living in “fly-over” states, the magnificent osprey are a rare treat, indeed.

So often in life, as the saying goes, things come in threes. That’s what happened with my osprey adventure.

  1. Early one morning I awoke and found myself enthralled with a PBS television nature show. More specifically, their piece about osprey, which described their nesting habits, their family patterns, and showed some wonderful demonstrations of their amazing deep-dive fishing abilities.
  2. Little did I realize that just a few short hours later, I would come face-to-face with a real-life osprey family living atop a piling along the banks of the Potomac River at the Mount Vernon wharf. According to an article on the osprey family, the pair have nested on the estate in prior years in the top of a sycamore tree. In the summer of 2010, their nest was destroyed when the top of the tree was lost during a storm. Undaunted, the pair returned this spring and built a new home on the top of the wharf piling – just inches from where the tour boat, Spirit of Mount Vernon, boards passengers six days a week.  That’s how I met them.

    My up-close and personal meeting with the osprey of Mount Vernon wharf – a bit blurry from my excitement:(

  3. A couple of days after my visit to Mount Vernon, some friends took me on a boat ride out into the Chesapeake Bay. To my delight every channel marker seemed to be the home of an osprey family. As little chicks poked their heads out of the nests, parents sat guard or flew off in search of the family’s next meal. My only disappointment was not seeing any of them deep-dive fishing. But nature watching does take patience, I suppose. Thanks to these great videos, however, we can all enjoy the amazing abilities of the osprey to “fish.”

You can watch a brief video I took of the osprey here, and see the parent take flight as the Spirit of Mount Vernon pulls closer. Mount Vernon Osprey nest

A live webcam of an osprey nest can be found here if you’re interested in watching them in action.

Ponder & Chat: Have a favorite nature story you can share with us? Where are you favorite spots for dates with nature?

Categories: Date Ideas, Nature, Reflections, Solo traveling, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Solo Traveling: Would George Washington Own an iPad?

“No estate in United America is more pleasantly situated than this….” ~George Washington on his Mount Vernon home

George Washington’s Mount Vernon home as seen from the Potomac River

For nearly half a century George Washington preened and prospered his Mount Vernon estate to 8,000 acres along the beautiful banks of the Potomac River. An 18th century entrepreneurial farmer, he developed and utilized a number of innovative technologies. We’d probably label them “cutting-edge” today.

The 16-sided barn invented by George Washington to more efficiently thrash grain.

For example, he invented a 16-sided barn to more effectively thrash wheat and collect its berries. He purchased the third patent on a water-powered gristmill that allowed him to more efficiently grind his wheat, corn and other grains. Just a couple of years before his death, he built a whiskey distillery that ultimately supplied nearly 11,000 gallons of whiskey a year to the Alexandria, Virginia, marketplace. Washington experimented with gardening and fertilization techniques and utilized the Potomac to develop a fish export business.

Of course, during this time he also led a Revolutionary Army, served as the first president of the United States, and offered his obvious talents in many other ways to his new nation. You know, simple things!

As I walked the beautiful gardens and sat on the front lawn overlooking the river, I couldn’t help but think George would have owned one of the first iPhones and iPads. He’d have had a website to sell products online. He’d have blogged to promote ideas and  conversation, and his KindleFire would be loaded with books and ideas.

Ponder & Chat: Which of the Founding Fathers have inspired you and why?

Categories: Date Ideas, Reflections, Solo traveling, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

How My Dates are Connecting Me to the World

As I’m nearing a quarter of the way through this journey of 52 Dates with Myself and my 50th post, it seems appropriate to introduce you to some of my fellow bloggers who have encouraged me along the way. Whether you’re into poetry, gardening, painting, cooking, or the general beauty of life and community, you’ll find something special from each one. I’m grateful to these and others who’ve encouraged me along the way these past few months!

June 5, 2012 – Meet Liam Rainsford. My adventure in painting connected me to painter Liam Rainsford of Ireland. You’ll definitely want to visit his site and check out the beautiful time lapsed videos of his paintings. For those interested in painting, he offers an amazing art school for beginners right on his website. I’m honored that he would “Like” one of my posts and give me a chance to “meet” him.

May 22, 2012 – Meet Dan & Mindy Soulsby. This inspiring young couple have a thriving sustainable farm and have created a nonprofit called Project Garden Share that helps connect people who need food with those who grow it. Dan worked for a number of years at Disney in Los Angeles before returning to his home state of Ohio to “live his dream.” I’m honored that he would “Like” one of my posts on gardening and give me the chance to “meet” him.

May 22, 2012 – Meet Stephanie – A Modern Christian Woman who has one of the best recipe blogs going. I’m honored that she would “Like” one of my posts on gardening and give me the chance to “meet” her.

March 23, 2012 – Meet Preetam Nath and his Manipal”s Photo Blog. Showcasing the talent of photographers of Manipal University in India – you’ll love the variety, beauty and life captured in this wonderful site. I’m honored that Preetam would “Like” one of my posts and give me the chance to “meet” him and the wonderful photographers of Manipal U.

February 23, 2012 – Meet Angela Marie – One-in Creation. From the early days of my journey of 52 Dates with Myself Angela Marie has been there encouraging me, commenting, and liking. She shares beautiful, heartfelt poetry and art from her site. I’m honored to call her my friend, to dialogue with her and to receive her multiple “Likes” along the journey.

Categories: Commitment, Reflections, Uncategorized, Wisdom | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Word of Encouragement on Painting (& Life) from Vincent

“If you hear a voice within you say, ‘You cannot paint,’ then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced.” ~ Vincent Van Gogh

Ponder & Chat: How does this principle apply to other areas of your life? What’s happened when you have lived this principle?

Categories: Artistic Dates, Date Ideas, Reflections, Wisdom | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Wisdom for the Journey: On Digging, Delving, and Stillness

“It’s on the strength of observation and reflection that one finds a way. So we must dig and delve unceasingly.” ~ Claude Monet

“Within you there is a stillness and a sanctuary to which you can retreat at any time and be yourself.” ~ Hermann Hesse

“The sound of  ‘gentle stillness’  after all the thunder and wind have passed will be the ultimate Word from God.”Jim Elliot

“One’s action ought to come out of an achieved stillness: not to be mere rushing on.” ~ D.H. Lawrence

Categories: Reflections, Relaxing Dates, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“I’ve done what I could…and my painting is open to criticism; that’s enough”

“I’ve done what I could as a painter and that seems to me to be sufficient. I don’t want to be compared to the great masters of the past, and my painting is open to criticism; that’s enough.” ~ Claude Monet

Thanks to Wine and Canvas for a great date night and first painting class.

With my version of Monet’s “Water Lillies, 1916” painted on one of 52 Dates with Myself

Ponder & Chat: What are you working on today that you’re ready to put out to the world?

Categories: Artistic Dates, Challenges, Commitment, Date Ideas, Reflections | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Why I See Arlington Through Different Eyes Now

Photo taken on my visit to Fort Snelling National Cemetery, Minneapolis, Minnesota

“When we were visiting here all those years ago, we could never have dreamed we would one day be here for something like this.”

Yet here we were on the first Friday of September 2011 following behind the caisson of a young Army Captain killed in the line of duty. This special young man and dear friend to my daughter, also an Army Captain, had left a clear message that he had died doing what he loved to do. Indeed, what he felt called to do. Nevertheless, the bitterness of losing him tragically permeated our hearts and lives. Burying him in Arlington has forever changed these hallowed acres for me. Now more than ever, I understand

  • there’s an amazing life story that can never be adequately represented by a simple granite stone.
  • the ongoing sense of honor and comradeship encapsulated in a soldier’s final request to be forever laid to rest near others who have served, and perhaps paid the ultimate price for doing so.
  • the haunting collective and individual beauty encapsulated in the precise angles and lines of row upon row of white headstones.
  • the true sense of the cost of war.
  • the honor and gratitude due those resting within and those left standing afterwards.
On this Memorial Day, I hope you took time to reflect on those who have served our nation in the armed forces. And perhaps one of your 52 Dates with Yourself might be a visit to one of our national cemeteries. Consider taking some flowers with you to leave as a token of thanks for some of those resting there.
Ponder & Chat: For a complete list of U.S. National Cemeteries click here. What National Cemeteries have you visited? What stories did you discover on your visit?
Categories: Date Ideas, Reflections, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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