Posts Tagged With: Personal challenges

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!

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

On Storms and Life and Pottery

Have you noticed how life is what happens in the middle of the storms? Or maybe it is the other way around: storms are what happen in the middle of life. Either way, there’s a co-mingling, that if not omnipresent, happens enough to deserve notice.

Pop-up storms often come at inopportune moments, don’t they? We’re living life, going about our business, and here they come: pop-up storms raining down on our parades.

Like the car accident that my Dad had the day before my brother’s wedding, or my Mom’s false teeth breaking just a couple of days before I got married. There she was home by herself holding her broken teeth in her hands and no car to get her to the dentist. Like any resourceful woman planning a wedding, she wrapped them in a napkin and walked the 6 blocks to the dentist’s office to have them glued back together avoiding all conversation with neighbors along the way.

Sometimes storms do render us speechless like that. My first time to the Grand Canyon, I drove into Arizona from Nevada and then did a circular loop north through parts of Utah before turning back west toward Las Vegas. All in one day! That was a bit of a storm itself, you might say.

I was awestruck by the beauty of the canyon, the colors, and the grandeur. Then, it stormed. Not where I was, rather off in the distance. Like one of those Las Vegas shows with spectacular visual and audio effects. Except I couldn’t hear a thing, I could only see it. An artistic display of lightning and rain in a backdrop of sienna, reds, oranges, yellows, bronze. A silent movie that rendered me quiet, less I miss something. I remember the canyon. I cannot forget that storm.

The other day I was “living” part two of one of my 52 Dates with Myself: the pottery throwing date. I’m still pondering that one.

Sitting with my instructor at the wheel, she a young art student from the local college already appreciating the nuances of her art and grasping the art of teaching others. My lump of round clay successfully turned into a nearly round bowl under her tutelage.

I was glad of it, this end product. But really it was the process and the feeling of it that intrigued me most.

So many different things happening at once and all acting upon the clay. My foot pressing down on a pedal causing the stone wheel to turn. Clay plopped in the middle of the stone. Drizzling water over it. Thumbs working from the center of the ball. Turning, pressing, angling, feeling – the process of molding.

Like life that spins round with pressures and choices and emotions.

It was easy and fun to experiment with various choices at the pottery wheel. Spin faster and adjust the angle of my thumbs. Apply pressure from the inside, now the outside. Pull up. Pull out. Every adjustment had an impact on the shape, the feel, and the look of my clay.

I felt the power of it. I impacted its stability. I determined its usefulness and it’s functionality. I established its beauty.

I felt the responsibility of it, too. With one small movement I could change its course, do damage, give it purpose or leave it be.

At once, I felt the fragility and the possibility. Needy. Malleable. Useful. Willing.

Yes, so much like life.

Now, a couple of weeks later here I am ready for the next steps. What to do with the hardened bowl? I can leave it as it is, a rough, hardened clay form. Or, I can try my hand at decorating and glazing it. Definitely, I want to do that.

So, on a bright, sunny, hot summer day I make my way to the storefront studio, pick out my colors and paint brushes, and excitedly establish myself at a table where I begin to paint.

Unbeknownst to me, the storm is brewing. It quickly shrouds the day in a blackness filled with 80 mph winds, hail, and heavy rain. The glass storefront windows shudder and shake. Water begins pouring in from under the door and even between the seals of the windows. Leaves and small branches sail by. Cars stop in their places along the road, as their drivers can no longer see to make progress. With the young clerk, I look around for our best option of a protected area. But we don’t go. Instead, we watch and speak only in glances.

Very quickly, the storm moves through and is over. Sunshine reappears giving a momentary glistening effect just before it absorbs the moisture and reasserts itself as a humid summer day.

The mood in the pottery studio relaxes. I paint. The storm has come, and it has gone, inserting itself again into one of my life experiences. Co-mingling with me in the journey. No doubt, we’ll meet again.

Categories: Artistic Dates, Challenges, Uncategorized, Wisdom | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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

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

“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

A Lesson in Renewal – A Dry Spell

Stores are dangerous places for me this time of year! They flaunt vegetable plants, herbs, flowers, and gorgeous pots in all colors knowing that I am addicted! I’m weak. Really, I think I may be helpless. Ok, I know I’m not helpless, but I am vulnerable. To the point that I could probably use a good-looking secret service type protector (non-Columbia model, of course).

Vulnerability struck a couple of weeks ago, and even though I knew I was heading out for a nine-day trip, I bought a beautiful peat pot of basil. It contained four thriving plants. They all proudly stood on the shelf and called my name. As they rode around the store in the shopping cart with me, I swear I heard them mocking the other plants. They even chided me for putting them in a grey plastic bag for the ride home in the car.

Soon, I had them temporarily settled on the counter to await their garden fate. Then, as fate would have it, there they would remain for nine long days. Alone, in the dark, lifeless room, straining for sun that would also steal their last remaining drops of moisture.

Upon my return, I gasped at their bedraggled and lifeless state. They didn’t respond at all to my cooing and self-flagellation. They were spent. All pride gone. Lifeless.

Regardless, I bathed them gently with tap water and soaked their peat base to the point of saturation.

I wasn’t sure, but thought I heard a bit of complaining, “Now, you come?”

Guiltily, I left them and proceeded to post-trip activities, unpacking, laundry, sorting nine days of mail. Every once in a while, I’d look in on the basil and drop an encouraging and gentle word.

“You can do it. I know it’s hard, but dig deep from your roots. You have strength you’re not aware of for this journey.”

Reaching for the sun once again! My basil plant that went through a “dry spell.”

Sure enough, within 24 hours, life had returned. No, they are not to their former glory. They have a bit of a bend now. But there are helps for that sort of thing. Besides, they’ve not even met their new home yet – a bright pot with rich, dark soil and a prime patio location.

Perhaps best of all, they have a new appreciation for their strength and ability to return even from a bit of a dry spell. A lesson even a plant junkie can appreciate.

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

Why is what you do today important?

What you do with today

More wisdom from this week’s adventure in 52 Dates with Myself

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

If you never did, you should…

Dr. Seuss Quote

Dr. Seuss wisdom discovered on one of my 52 Dates with Myself

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

Touching the Senses

I could be in New York City. Perhaps it’s Chicago. 

The melding of sites, smells, sounds, activity, and languages captured my present and ignited my memories as I stepped in to meet George.

A sudden silly thought: “Well, Dorothy, we’re not in Kansas anymore.” 

I wasn’t even sure I was still in Indiana. 

“Just keep walking. It’s an adventure, and you love adventures. That’s why you came.” 

Categories: "Cheap" Dates, Date Ideas, Pure Fun, Restaurants, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Challenge of Surprise in Dating Myself

I suppose it just makes sense that one of the challenges of 52 Dates with Myself is figuring out how to incorporate the element of surprise.

Those of you who despise being caught unawares are no doubt cheering this dilemma. While my surprise-embracing allies empathize with the difficulty of delivering the unexpected.

So how does a gal plan a surprise date for herself?

Ponder & Chat: What ideas and thoughts come to mind about this challenge?  Come on, surprise me!

Categories: Challenges, Date Ideas, Planning, Reflections, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.

%d bloggers like this: