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15 May 2022

Sunday mornings I treat myself to grapefruit juice mimosas as I read the Miami Herald after my walk.  This morning’s walk was cut short because I pulled something in my back yesterday – probably while tossing a week’s worth of laundry into the wash and yanking it out of the drier.  Or, I’m just old.  The short walk happened because the recycling wasn’t getting to the bins if I didn’t take it.

Quite the contrast from last Sunday when we were in northern Indiana / southern Michigan to check in with the parental units…  Just for fun, my husband suggested we stay at Potawatomi Inn at Pokagon State Park instead of the Holiday Inn Express near the toll road.  It would be a bit of a longer drive, but it might be pretty.  And, come to find out, the inn puts on quite the Mother’s Day brunch, so we planned on that for his parents.  Around 1 am on Sunday, we realize there’s no water pressure.  At 6 am, the situation hasn’t changed and, realizing that all I’m going to think about is not being able to flush the toilet, I throw on some sweats and haul my behind to the front desk.  Water main break and possibly no water until Tuesday.  Great.  Nothing like packing up all your stuff to find another place to stay for three more days with someone who is rarely coherent before 11 am.

Morning hike in the woods ruined.  Mother’s Day brunch ruined.  Trying to call Mom and Dad at 6:30 am before they go to breakfast so they can tell them they’ll be eating lunch there amounts to the usual confusion whenever I call versus their son.  (He’s still trying to connect to wifi at that moment.) Moving to the Holiday Inn Express in motion.  Positive – I run into a former East Allen County Schools colleague in the lobby as we finish with our “eviction.”

Not unexpectedly, we have to wait on a room.  At one point, I think a kid in the parking lot thought we were dead in our car.  I did shut my eyes for a moment and Glenn was snoring asleep on the passenger side.  Stupid kid was shaking the small blooming trees to make it “snow.”  I don’t care if he was traumatized.

Hours later, showered and feeling human, we regroup to try to save Mother’s Day.  Maybe, if we go early enough, we can get into Bill’s Steak House in Bronson.  Miracles happen.  We get a table right away and have some great food.  I’m enjoying the start of my second mimosa (made with prosecco because they didn’t have champagne – not bad), paying the bill, when Mom says she doesn’t feel well.  Like, I’ve got to go to the restroom, get some air, what kind of not well?  She’s scooting out of the booth and almost falls over.  Dad has a hard enough time standing and walking and he’s trying to hold her up.  Between all of us and the amazing restaurant staff, we get her into the outer waiting area.  She’s out of it, barely able to sit up, and mumbling about trying to stay alive until we visited.  Someone who has announced herself as a nurse asks to pray over her as we ask for a call to 911 which Dad is protesting. 

So, Mom goes off to Parkview LaGrange via ambulance and we follow (and beat them) with Dad crying in the back seat.  About six hours later, we’re taking a rehydrated Mom and Dad to their place.  Positive – (besides Mom being OK) I ran into a few people I now from LaGrange in the ER.

Luckily, the rest of the trip was a little less weird.  Checked in with my mother who I’m pretty sure doesn’t know who I am.  They love her at Life Care even though she does things like stealing knives and cutting up her clothes.  At least she’s not stabbing staff or her roommate, I guess.

It’s good to be back home.

27 April 2022

The pressure to get things done, to see results, drives me a little too much, even in retirement.  Because of this, not having the inspiration to blog about anything lately has led to needless frustration, guilt, and excuse making.  While I have been doing some professional writing as part of school reviews the past two months and have been invited to do some other writing, not “tending” to my blog was just bugging me.  Even the “green” #WordPrompt for the month wasn’t inspiring great thoughts.

Well, of course it wasn’t.  Green means “go,” right?  I look across the room at my phone charger – the green light tells me my phone’s ready to go.   The same is true when I’m driving my car or crossing the street.  Green embodies energy – even with negative things like being “green with envy” and overspending with my “greenbacks.”  I want the plants on my terrace to grow lusher and greener.  Grow, grow, go, go.

Today, thanks to an avocado seed, I learned that, sometimes, maybe, green can mean “stop and then go slow.”  There were originally two seeds and I was pretty much ready to give up on the second one.  Ever since I was a kid, the potential of growing an avocado tree was always a fun challenge.  At one time, my mother managed to get a nice sized tree out of one of our experiments.  Most of the time, however, the seed was dumped because of its perceived lack of potential.

Weeks have gone by.  Seed two has a nice root (yay!) and what’s looking like the start of a shoot tucked inside the cracked seed.  Not much else happening.  Based on most of the stuff out there, more things should be happening by now.  So I did more searching, and found a video with an Australian dude talking about how one of his seeds took eleven months to sprout.  Eleven frickin’ months!?! Of course, my first reaction was horror in how many potential avocado tree lives I may have cut short. 

Then, I looked at my little seed.  Still creamy looking with a hint of green.  OK, not giving up on it just yet.  Then, I looked at myself and thought, sometimes words sprout when they’re ready.  Sometimes, green means stop and then go slow.

13 March 2022

Maybe living on an island has made me contemplate bridges more.  The only way to get to the mainland is via a bridge.  The only way to explore the rest of our tropical archipelago is via numerous bridges.  And, meandering along waterways, you have to know if your boat will fit under some of those bridges.

Some bridges take you there and bring you back.  Some metaphorical bridges seem to be one-way.  Crossing the bridge to retirement feels very one-way right now.  Even some gig work coming up isn’t the daily grind.  The bridge is still there, so trotting back across it wouldn’t be impossible.  The bridges of time are a bit more problematic. 

Moving through life doesn’t offer many do-overs.  Infancy to youth, youth to adulthood, adulthood to old age, and then it ends.  It starts getting complicated and scary when you reach a point where family and friends start taking those bridge exits.  One day you’re just moving along together on that same road and the next thing you know, there’s one less traveler moving along with you.  Where do those bridges go?  When’s your exit bridge coming up?  These are certainly questions that can consume way too much precious time while you still have time.

Focusing on bridges that go back and forth – existing connections between friends and family or building new bridges connecting strangers and communities seems to be a better use of time.  You just never know what joy can come from crossing a bridge.

#WordPrompt

27 February 2022

“I don’t know who to shoot – they all look like us.”  Last night’s news shared these words coming from a Russian soldier.  How awful is this is so many ways? 

On the one hand, here are people who share Slavic ethnicity, killing each other because a dictator told them to and forced the other side to defend themselves.  On the other hand, how horrible is it to find it easy to shoot the enemy when they don’t look like us?  In either case, the default is to kill.

In a bit of a gender spat, when I questioned why men always default to war and killing, I was challenged with, “Do you have a better answer?”  I guess consciously choosing not to default to that isn’t an option.

22 February 2022

After reading a few biographies and visiting with family and friends that we haven’t seen for a while, I find the practice that Gates offers at the end of Chapter 5 compelling.

Three ways to practice compassion and loving kindness:

  1. Compassion:  Sit quietly and review your life in ten-year increments, starting from when you were a child.  Let a difficult or unskillful moment come to you.  Feel how it felt to be in your body at that time.  To see the world through your eyes as you were then.  Then forgive yourself for being imperfect – for making mistakes – and for being a learner in this lifetime.  Offer yourself forgiveness at least three times, then move on to the next decade of your life and repeat the process.  Practice this as often as you need to, to become free.
  2. Loving-kindness:  The phrases are “May you be safe,” “May you be healthy,” “May you be happy,” and “May you be at ease in your community.”  The practice is to spend time offering yourself these phrases, then a benefactor, then a neutral person, then a difficult one.  When you are done, sit quietly for a while and feel into the energetic resonance of loving-kindness humming through your body and mind.
  3. Use an abbreviated version of these practices and phrases throughout your day whenever you feel yourself contracting into negativity or expanding into the urge to pour love into the world.  (pp. 238-239)

Reading Tony Dokoupil’s memories in “The Last Pirate:  A Father, His Son, and The Golden Age of Marijuana” and, shortly after, David Maraniss’, “When Pride Still Mattered:  A Life of Vince Lombardi,” I was taken back to some of my memories of my father.  While the immigrant steelworker was neither a drug lord nor a football coach, some of the themes reflected on fathering revealed in both of these books were painfully familiar. 

We visited with my husband’s cousin last week.  We had not seen her, her husband, her and children in over twenty years, but it’s amazing how family memories and stories close those gaps.  Their one son was visiting the area with them – now a successful entrepreneur, he was about eleven years old when I first met him.  Did any of us know then, where we would be now? 

And, yesterday, I had a chance to chat up some lovely girls – twelve, five, and three – while their mother caught up with her former medical school professor.  Lots of conversations floating around that lunch table!  Don’t ask a five year old what they think “old” is.  I haven’t tried Gates’ “Compassion” exercise yet, but I think my five year old self would have answered the same way.

8 February 2022

The photo in my last post was a good representation of my brain state that day.  Sometimes, we’re our own worst enemies.  It’s like the story about the cheese sandwich.  Two co-workers started eating lunch together daily.  Each day one of the workers looks into his lunch bag and sighs.  It’s another cheese sandwich.  He complains that he hates cheese sandwiches – they’re dry and boring.  This goes on for days until the other worker gathers up the courage to say, “Why don’t you just tell your wife not to make you cheese sandwiches every day?”  The other replies, “I don’t have a wife.”  Perplexed, the other asks, “Well, who makes your sandwiches?”  The unhappy cheese sandwich eater says, “I do.”  (Thanks to James Martin for this gem!)

So here I was, caught in a fog of overthinking, choking on a cheese sandwich, and not taking time to stop and just breathe and feel.  It’s amazing what taking the time to look back at my Strengths Themes to see how I wasn’t “feeding” myself did to lift the fog and bring insight into what kind of “sandwich” I really wanted to have.

My top theme, Learner, wasn’t getting fresh exposure to new things and new experiences.  I realized that all the reading I was enjoying was maybe masking a little frustration in my Responsibility theme.  I felt like I was bringing dependability and loyalty to others, but I wasn’t filling the theme’s need of having the freedom to take on ownership.  I could look at all my other top ten themes and see that I was stuck in what I was bringing, but not so much on what I was needing.  So, I fed Learner by switching things up and diving into the Gallup Strengths Coaches Learning Series sessions which, as always, brought insight into how to work with others and ourselves.  Not surprisingly, one gem shared related to conflict was, “Change is always preceded by awareness.”  We easily forget that sometimes that awareness has to be our own.

6 February 2022

Fog on Blackwater Sound, 2-6-22

Gates speaks of mindfulness:

Stop and move from thinking to feeling for a few breaths throughout the day. Keep coming back to your body and your breath until it becomes part of how you enjoy life. Then do what you enjoy. (p. 189, Meditations on Intention and Being)

27 January 2022

I am not a patient person.  As much as I enjoy a routine, I occasionally find tedium nerve-racking.  Waiting for someone to heal, especially when that someone seems to be in no hurry to do so, annoys me.  Of course, this is the completely wrong mindset to have when trying to support someone who has a collection of health issues with few answers as to why.  Even though I knew this before reading “Gut feelings – disorders of gut-brain interaction and the patient-doctor relationship:  A guide for patients and doctors,” it certainly hit home.  (I forgot to mention this book in my latest reading list because I’ve lent it to a certain someone in hopes that it might trigger some self-assessment.  It’s still waiting for him to open it.)

Even dealing with something as “simple” as cataract surgery has extended into a multi-week prolonged vision clearing journey.  Apparently, not everyone has clear vision right away.  It can take weeks.  I know I can’t will or pray issues away for anyone, but I wish the universe would cut this guy a break.  To be honest, I realize that I’m wishing the universe would cut me a break.  It did (a little), by leading me to (yes, another book!) that I’m glad I chose to read last week.  “Between heaven and mirth:  Why joy, humor, and laughter are at the heart of the spiritual life” by my favorite Jesuit, James Martin.  It kept me chuckling while waiting as my husband when through yet another procedure. 

Finding humor in my impatience invites the universe to cut me a break.  Humor can connect you to God.  When I’ve opened myself to how ridiculous I am sometimes, I’ve always been rewarded by God’s sense of humor.  How else do you explain leaving the ophthalmologist with stronger steroidal eyedrops (along with lots of encouragement) just to turn on the radio to hear “I can see for miles”?

13 January 2022

I am always amazed at how things seem to fall into place.  The goal of this post was to share what I’ve been reading over the past few months.  I had shared from Rolf Gates’ writing (and promised more), so I took a look at what the next chapter summarized.  It was

Three Ways to Embrace the Spirit of Practice –

Make lists of:

  1. The virtues you wish to express with your practice.
  2. The virtues you wish to express with your life.
  3. The role models who have embodied those virtues for you.

Reflect on these lists often.  (p. 149)

I have kept annual lists of my readings ever since it was a professional development log requirement in the school district I worked at prior to my final one.  While many administrators disliked the “busy work” of doing this, I enjoyed looking back on the learning I did in the previous year.  I continued the practice in my new district even though I knew my superintendent and then my school board really didn’t care that I did it.  I did it for me.  Now, I think I want to do it to share with others.  Some of the most enjoyable readings have been ones recommended to me by friends.

In reverse order:

Reading now – Atlas of the Heart by Brene Brown.  She is a master of telling it like it is when it comes to human emotions.  Great insight.  I now have words to describe some things I’ve done and why I did them.

Breathe by Joyce Carol Oates. Parts of this novel were just a bit too horrific for me.  If nothing else, I learned how I hope I don’t deal with the anguish of the death of a loved one.

Blood and Steel:  Ryan White, the AIDS Crisis and Deindustrialization in Kokomo, Indiana by Ruth D. Reichard.  Recommended by a friend, this was a hard read.  The ugliness of people, driven by fear and greed, was at the forefront of intertwined stories of events in Indiana and the country in the 1980s.  Not so different now.

Our Country Friends by Gary Shteyngart.  At first, I wasn’t liking what seemed like a multicultural rip-off of “The Big Chill,” but I grew to love the characters and did cry like a baby at times.

State of Terror by Hillary Rodham Clinton and Louise Penny.  I was pleasantly surprised by the page turning excitement of this novel and little frightened by the real non-fiction that I know was woven into it.

The Temple House Vanishing by Rachel Donohue.  A creepy little mystery set in an Irish Catholic girls’ academy…

Bad Monkey by Carl Hiaasen.  My goal is to read all of Hiaasen’s novels.  I’m reading them all out of order, but his humor and attention to all things Florida, driven detectives, bumbling and greedy criminals, sexy chicks, and caricatures of people in general are SO enjoyable.  The filming of an Apple TV series based on the novel will start next month in The Keys.  It was hard not picturing Vince Vaughn as Andrew Yancy while reading this! 

An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz.  I should send Governor DeSantis a copy to read.  He’d burn it, I’m sure.  Everyone needs to know the full history of our country.  Not so we hate it – so we never repeat past injustices.

Fuzz: When Nature Breaks the Law by Mary Roach.  I love her writing style.  After enjoying Stiff (all about dead bodies) a number of years ago (recommended by someone during a counselor interview!), I knew I’d enjoy her take on true stories of animals behaving badly.  Fun and enlightening.

The Love Songs of W.E.B. DuBois by Honoree Fanonne Jeffers.  OK, Oprah said, but almost 800 pages?!  OMG – one of the best books I’ve ever read.  Take true history, family history, mix a little of the new “Wonder Years,” and some of “Our Kind of People” and that kind of gives you an idea of what you’re getting here.  I did not want it to end.  The last book that made me feel that way was Where the Crawdads Sing.

Florida by Lauren Groff.  This collection of short stories was refreshing after her newest novel (earlier read, see below).  I like her writing style most of the time.  I read Fates and Furies (because Barack Obama said he liked it) a few years ago, but didn’t really remember it.

Tourist Season by Carl Hiassen.  Love his stuff.  Always good twists and turns.  Almost made me feel guilty for moving here – the damned tourists just ruin everything.

How Humans Learn by Joshua R. Eyler.  On my stack for a while – this was on effective college teaching.  Amazing – adults and kids learn similarly.

Dew of Death by Joel A. Vilensky.  On my stack for too many years.  It’s the story of lewisite and gas weapons of mass destruction that started back in World War I.  Quite the work by a former boss of mine.

Born to Build by Jim Clifton and Sangeeta Badal.   Another in Gallup’s series of putting your best self forward and maximizing your Strengths.  This focuses on entrepreneurship.  I was frustrated with lack of consistency between my two Builder Profile 10 assessment results, so I didn’t give this book as much focus as I probably should have.  I may revisit it later.

Counseling Suicidal People by Paul G. Quinnett.  This was part of my QPR training supplemental pack and also on my stack for reading.  Quinnett has brought so much hope to those who consider suicide as an option.

The Fifth Sacred Thing by Starhawk.  Recommended by a friend.  It’s a philosophical fantasy that seems all too real in our current global state.  It’s hard to believe it was published in 1993.  A very interesting story of culture clashes and a fight for survival…

The Last Train to Key West by Chanel Cleeton.  This was mentioned by a local morning news anchor and I’m glad I checked it out!   Lives are intertwined in 1935 in a story combining Flagler’s Overseas Railroad, the fallout of the Cuban Revolution, and a hurricane.

Matrix by Lauren Groff.  I both liked and disliked this piece of semi-historical fiction.  I appreciated Groff’s research into the story.  I like her writing in general.  But, through the whole thing I felt like I did during a visit with a friend many years ago.  One person reading this will get this.  “I just can’t see you becoming a nun.”

So you want to talk about race by Ijeoma Oluo.  I think I mentioned this book in an early blog.  Another must read – a good in your face, this is how it is from someone who has lived it.

The Social Capital Quotient by Augustine Emuwa and Justine Gonzalez.  This was another earlier mention.  Anything Justine touches is golden – she’s building leaders up all over the world.

The Anatomy of Peace from The Arbinger Institute.  I’m not a huge fan of the presentation style, but the lessons on what drive and perpetuate conflict are on point.

Wellbeing at Work by Jim Clifton and Jim Harter.  Mentioned before.  I am enjoying Gallup’s recent focus on wellbeing.  The highlight of this book for me was the breakdown of each of the factors for each of the 34 themes.

Unwritten:  The Story of a Living System by Lori L. Desautels and Michael McKnight.  Lori is one of my heroes.  The work she has done on neuroscience and the importance of relationships has revolutionized education.

Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe.  Also mentioned and quoted previously – a classic.

Escaping the Road to Nowhere by Jamelle Godlewski.  Another one that was on my stack to read.  Kudos to Jamelle for opening herself up to tell her story.  She has helped so many in LaGrange and beyond.  And, she can sometimes get my mother to stay for bible study when she volunteers at Life Care Center of LaGrange.

The Equity & Social Justice Education by Baruti K. Kafele.   I loved how Kafele framed his message by using 50 critical questions we should ask ourselves as educators on how to improve opportunities and outcomes for Black students. 

Vital Friends by Tom Rath.  This was recommended by some fellow Gallup Coaches a while ago and it was one of my first retirement reads.  Rath does a great job explaining why we need a variety of different supports through different friendships.  I won’t lie, I haven’t done the assessment yet.  I was still missing work friends terribly when I read it and didn’t want to focus on that.

Wow!  This ended up a lot longer than I expected.  If you find something you enjoy reading because of it, great!  If I bored you, my apologies!  Back to my book…

8 January 2022

Epiphany will never be the same for me.  The Twelfth Day of Christmas, Three Kings Day, used to be the target date for putting away the holiday decorations and blessing the new year.  Because of events on January 6, 2021, it will always now be the day this country crossed a line.  Pushed over an invisible line of civility, sanity, and decorum, we became an even more fractured multitude of those who believe that the only way to get your way is to take it by force and those who are in complete shock that something like this could even happen.  There can be no middle.  Unless there is a concerted effort by those blinded by shock and those who believe “this too shall pass,” it won’t.

David McGrath, in a recent Chicago Tribune piece, “My resolution for 2022:  Challenge the American obstinocracy with intelligence,” is committing to challenge “fire” with “judo.”  We know that the underlying anger leading to those events last year was based on fear.  Those who are angry about elections being stolen fear those who are becoming a more active part of democracy.  Those who are angry about what might be scarring and scaring their children in schools fear that, if we learn about past injustices, we just might want to change the world.

Fear gains power through anger when it is fueled by hate.  Hate gives violence legitimacy when the enemy is “the other.”  The epiphany of what we saw is that the mentality of colonialists who trampled across the New World percolated to the surface that day.  Kill what gets in the way of what you want.  Convert those who don’t believe as you do.  If they refuse, kill them, too.  And, it’s all good, because you are doing it for the glory of your race, to bring back the greatness that has been lost.

Which “fear” will win in the end?  I’m hopeful it’s the fear of hate that will be driven by intelligence.

31 December 2021

I told myself that, if I didn’t write anything before then, I would do a post when I received my first retirement payment. That happened. So, what has mentally been kind of a six month “vacation,” has turned into “official” retirement. Not sure what I expected to feel other than maybe a little less worry about finances in general. No complaints on the last day of 2021.

The start of 2022 brings a welcome end to “the holidays” – unlike most people, the frenzy of the “happiest time of year” does not make me jiggle with joy. Dealing with life stuff is so much easier without the unrealistic expectations of constant happiness just because the calendar says so. I’d much rather experience planned and unplanned moments of happiness and joy throughout the year instead of gambling on the chance that a couple of weeks in winter will miraculously grant that to me.

Apologies to those reading this who are feeling down because holiday time does that for you and it is coming to a close. Trust me, I get it. Wishing us all regular bouts of joy throughout 2022!

12 December 2021

As a new transplant to The Keys, I’ve had friends ask about weather and seasons and what our new world is like. We had a wonderful time hosting some friends who were visiting the area this past week and this prompted me to finally put together a tongue in cheek “transplant” reflection on weather with some real stats. Of course, we haven’t been here an entire year yet, but we certainly visited a lot at various times as we prepared to move here.

I’m sure I’ll be adding to this as time goes on, but it certainly highlights this transplant’s reality so far!

2 December 2021

Early in 2021, I started thinking about a milestone birthday coming up in November. Even though the big 6-0 was going to land on my favorite of all holidays, Thanksgiving, this was the first decade that was giving me some pause. I projected my thoughts to that day and decided that, if I didn’t draw attention to it, it wouldn’t be so bad. So, I removed the date from my Facebook profile and forgot all about it.

As Thanksgiving approached, I was happy we would be in our new home after a pre-holiday visit to family. The turducken was in the freezer, I had a couple of new recipes I wanted to try (buttery pull apart rolls and a Basque cheesecake), and I was looking forward to a cozy dinner for two and not really dreading the whole birthday thing.

November 25th arrived and I had some nice early email wishes from a handful of friends, a Facebook post from one, and a couple of cards from my husband. The clock hit 9:27 am (the time of my birth) and moved on without incident. And then, it was quiet. Well, it is Thanksgiving, I thought to myself. No one’s going to be on Facebook to notice that it’s my birthday.

By midday, I was a bit irritated. No one? Come on! Even I send birthday wishes to people I barely know when their day pops up. (Unless, of course, their posts have pissed me off of late. Rarely, but sometimes, I pass.) How could I have offended every one of my Facebook friends?

Then, I remembered my not wanting the attention I now craved. I did have to laugh at myself once I did verify that I actually did remove the big DOB from my profile. It’s back. Maybe I’ll want some attention for the big 6-1.

22 November 2021

We took a very quick, early Thanksgiving trip north to visit family and connect with a few friends. As unwelcome as the experience of snow was, it reminded us why we moved to Key Largo.

Back home and back into our routine, Saturday was cleaning day. (SO exciting, I know!) I was done with my chores and doing something in another room when I heard a panicked, “Oh my god, oh my god!” coming from the living room. Of course, my first thought was, “Shit, he’s having a heart attack!” only to find my husband looking strangely catlike, grabbing for a tiny gecko scurrying around on the floor. He made the first predator error – grabbing the tiny lizard’s tail. It detached quickly. Surprisingly, he managed to scoop the gecko up and I assisted by opening the door to the terrace.

We watched the motionless gecko on the terrace floor. Amazingly, the detached tail was twitching furiously and did so for another minute or so. After a sigh and, “I think I killed him,” the tiny, tailless lizard scurried away.

We’re still trying to figure out how and when he got in. I wonder which of us will be the the next to lift up the floor lamp that seems to be a good gecko hiding place. Lizard in the house – definitely better than snow.

11 November 2021

There’s just something about time change that triggers heightened emotions for me. I thought it would be different moving to a place where there’s less of a disruption in daylight patterns, but I guess not. Everything feels more intense, but it’s comforting to know that, once the winter solstice passes, everything will seem a little more even keel.

There’s been a lot written on emotional regulation thanks to the pandemic adding another layer to our collective emotional instability. An article I read this morning introduced me to Plutchik’s Wheel of Emotions:

I imagined spinning it to see where it might land.

I knew that it is easier to get sucked into negativity than positivity, but the article made me realize why. There are more negative emotions than there are positive ones. It’s a basic evolutionary matter of survival. And, the more we fight those natural survival mechanisms, the more miserable we can become.

We can all benefit from taking a moment to analyze the why behind what we are feeling, especially if it’s the strongest of all of the emotions – fear. I believe that fear is driving most of our angst now. Fear of a very a uncomfortable death thanks to the pandemic, fear of disrupted social institutions (no matter which “side” you associate with), fear of an unstable economy, fear of the unknown. And, sometimes, just fear of the dark.

2 November 2021

I had promised more from Gates, so this is from his second chapter. Three ways to practice nonviolence:

  1. Practice self-care like everything else depends on it.
  2. Make a commitment to do no harm.
  3. Practice kindness, honesty, and generosity all of the time, everywhere, in every circumstance.

Not exactly what you might have expected, right? Yet, if we don’t care for ourselves first, how can we truly care for others? I struggled for many years with the concept of “love others as you love yourself.” I loved others, or so I thought, but I hated myself. Unless we love ourselves, with all our imperfections, we can never truly love others.

As for imperfections, I’ve been working on this blog thing. I wanted the blog page to be a running record of posts, but to do that AND let any of you wanting to read my ramblings know that I’ve rambled, I have to do separate posts. So, I’m going to post and paste my posts onto the blog page. Let’s see how this goes…

25 October 2021

Today’s daily inspiration quote made me reflect on a recent experience. The quote was from Thoreau, “That virtue that we appreciate is as much ours as another’s. We see only so much as we possess.” We see our world through our own lens and really don’t think about it much until we face another reality.

Especially on weekends, a walk to the gazebo in our condo complex gives a view of families gathered for Sunday picnics, swimming, fishing, or just chilling out at the town park next door. It takes me back to summer family Sundays as a kid. Simple picnic in a park. Food packed in a cooler. Folding lawn chairs. A simple, blue collar, lower middle class good time. Despite my background, I’m sure some of those folks looking in our direction, don’t see me that way. I may be seen as some “rich” person living “over there on the other side of the fence.” Don’t get me wrong, there’s some serious money living here among us, but it’s all relative.

Last week, I had a chance to experience Ocean Reef. We’ve been looking for a new boat. Our little aluminum fishing boat isn’t exactly suited for Keys salt water and is a bit too small to safely get to reefs where we’d like to snorkel. One potential boat dealer happened to be in Ocean Reef.

After being grilled by the friendly officer at the gate that provides the only road access in and out of the complex, a call to the Marine Max office confirmed that we, indeed, had communicated that we’d drive up. No, we weren’t terrorists or petty thieves who wanted to prey on the millionaires and billionaires living there. Seriously.

Seriously? This place has two golf courses, a hospital, an airport, stores, restaurants, a K-8 school, huge homes, and plenty of docking for yachts. The super rich zip around on golf carts. All business transactions are made with your member number. While we were greeted warmly at the showroom and encouraged to do business with them, I could not imagine an ongoing relationship with this space. The nice sales guy (regular guy like us), shared a story about the Whaler we were looking at as a sample of the model we were interested in. It had been a birthday gift to a 15 year old resident. Apparently, the young man threw a hissy fit because he was expecting a bigger boat. His mother was not very pleased that he didn’t appreciate her little token of affection.

I don’t regret our little visit to look over the side of a much larger fence. Happy to stick with my little world. It’s all relative.

12 October 2021

Ever get the feeling you’re being watched while you work on something?

So glad the camera was sitting right next to me at the time!

9 October 2021

I have to admit, I approached my recent outreach with a lot of trepidation. How quickly we become sensitive! It’s only been a few months since I left a position that was rife with people criticizing my work (usually for ignorant reasons – I can say that now!) and here I was, terrified that someone might suggest my writing was stupid. Of course, this work is a little more intimate than making decisions running a school corporation. Or is it?

I appreciate the feedback that has come in so far – either in the survey link or through email. My biggest surprise was that most of those responding liked the eclectic mix of topics. I was also surprised that no one said, “Why does it say “Subcrib” on this page?” It was making me crazy, thinking it was an unalterable part of the template. Go figure – sometimes you can fix things if you just try.

6 October 2021

I’ve kept this site relatively “secret” until now. A few friends had access to it. I think a few people might have stumbled upon it to look. While it’s been a bit therapeutic to put words to paper, I’ve realized that writing just for me isn’t enough. That’s probably why I never journaled much. When I used to write my “Friday Thoughts,” what I enjoyed most was when my words resonated with someone – even just one someone. So, it’s time to broaden my exposure. I’ll be sending out the survey attached here to a number of my contacts:

https://forms.gle/tHPebus6gqoVvrRP6

If you’re seeing it here, feel free to comment!

22 September 2021

On this first day of Fall in a place that doesn’t experience seasons like I’ve been used to until this point in my life, I don’t want to dwell on things that weigh my mind down. I haven’t mentioned food recently! Not too long ago, I had some success trying some new recipes.

After looking to purchase some form of fish sausage (just because) and not finding anything, I tried making some. I didn’t want to use a casing or just make patties to fry. I did a bit of a spin on a recipe I found. Using some leftover chucks of mahi, I ground it up with some butter and a mixture of spices, rolled it into tubes, and then rolled the tubes up tightly in plastic wrap tied off on each end with string. After a 20 minute boil, I had some pretty decent fish sausages to add to sauteed peppers and onions.

I don’t know if koftas are the current rage everywhere, but after seeing them featured in a variety of venues, I figured I’d finally try to make some deliciously seasoned lamb on a stick. I decided not to do a grilled version but failed to make what would have been a crucial modification. Good to know the smoke detector works.

Finally, I don’t know about most people, but when we buy those cheese or peanut butter crackers for travel snacks, the leftover packets end up in the pantry when we get back home. I wondered what kind of breading crumbs ground up cheese and wheat crackers would make. Pretty awesome on some chicken breasts…

I feel happy just writing all of that. Deep thoughts later.

16 September 2021

At the end of each chapter, Gains gives suggestions on ways to practice each theme he presents. On Effortlessness (p. 47):

  1. Choose faith over fear. In practice and in everyday life, allow your choices and your actions to flow from faith.
  2. Act in the service of what you are for rather than what you are against. Embrace what you are for and allow others the freedom to choose what they are for.
  3. Do nothing and be nothing: this is how we learn what to do and be with love. Sit quietly doing nothing and being nothing daily.

It all seems pretty easy until 2.5. I struggle with the current state of the world, specifically that of the United (un-united) States. Maybe striving for a state of effortlessness is something we can all work on…

10 September 2021

Today’s quote sums up my doing a lot of mirror adjusting lately. Watching rain drip outside my window and listening to some thunder is calming at the moment. I’ve had many words to write in the past weeks, but most would have just been angry as my mirror faced the past as well as facing a future I’m not ready to deal with yet.

I decided to read Gates’ “Meditations on Intention and Being” as an ongoing series of collected thoughts instead of using it as a daily reflection. I don’t think he would have minded that approach, especially since it did bring me to making myself come back to the present to recenter my thoughts and my intentions. I plan to share some of his wisdom in coming posts.

3 September 2021

Another one of those quote moments that comes at the right time. In any time of transition, what lies ahead may be exciting or terrifying. We control which it is.

2 September 2021

I found this yesterday:

I’m blue

Like the blue of the hottest part of the flame

Like the blue of the coldest glacier

Deep blue

Dark blue

Black and blue

So blue, it hurts

And it lingers

Staring at the flame

Floating on the water

Waiting for it to pass

Whatever prompted writing it before, seems familiar now.

26 August 2021

Something prompted me to document my daily assessment of the decomposing iguana yesterday. With heavy rains and winds yesterday afternoon and last night, it was washed off its coral rock resting place. Glad I have more than a mental picture left.

25 August 2021

Turning and turning in the widening gyre The falcon cannot hear the falconer; Things fall apart; the center cannot hold; Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world. W. B. Yeats’, “The Second Coming,” quote introduces Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart and one of my latest reads. This classic and beloved African novel is a story of a man’s fall from grace intertwined with a story about a clash of cultures. It highlights the fragility of us all as humans – especially when we yearn for recognition, to be acknowledged as someone special. It highlights the arrogance of humans – especially when we see ourselves as recognized, as superior over others.

On a much lighter note, it compelled me to make fu fu. You can read about yams being pounded and then turned into a bread for sopping up soups only so much before you have to try it. (Or maybe that’s just me…) I didn’t pound any yams, but I did get pounded yam “flour” and made fu fu. It went quite well with my homemade fish chowder.

19 August 2021

Working on just being today…

12 August 2021

I know, yesterday was the one week point and I didn’t share my joy of the yumminess off what I call “salmon candy” every time I take that first bite. It turned out great. I’m considering adding red pepper flakes to the sugar cure next time to see if it brings some heat.

Pondering the food preservation “magic” of a chemical cure like the salt and then sugar combination of making gravlax was an interesting opposite to a process I’ve been observing over the past month or so on my daily walk. I contemplated documenting it with a daily photo, but chose not to. I may capture what I wish the “final” product will be in the future.

The process has been the opposite of preservation. It’s rare that you get to see the decomposition of an animal, but due to its location on a rock below a boardwalk, a dead iguana has remained undisturbed. The initial smell, bloat, and swarms of files prompted just a quick look before moving on. With time, the body has become a dessicated, leathery collection of skin. Most recently, a beautiful spinal column has been partially exposed. The “ugliness” of the initial decomposition process continues to reveal what we all know lies underneath. I’m hoping it remains in place long enough for the entire skeleton to reveal itself.

4 August 2021

OK, 24 hours later, the salmon comes out of the fridge! The next steps are easy. Unwrap the fish and brush off all the salt cure and give it a good rinse with cold water. Place the fish on new plastic wrap and cover with with sugar. (I use enough for a nice layer of coating.) Press the sugar in well and wrap the fish up tightly. Now the hard part – refrigerate for a week before serving. It’s worth the wait! Looking forward to tasting the version with the pepper flake cure!

3 August 2021

I haven’t written anything about food yet and today’s a great day to mention my new spin on gravlax. Being close to Key Largo Fisheries has already spoiled us. Don’t think fishing is going to be on our list of activities when “fishing” with our cooler is going to be so easy! Along with awesome fresh local fish, KLF sells salmon from the Farro Islands. Using some of yesterday’s “catch” for gravlax originally based on a Recipezaar recipe from 2004.

Starting with a nice approximately one pound piece of salmon, I mixed together a cup of kosher salt, a good sprinkle of dried dill, a good sprinkle of red pepper flakes (I suggestion I spied online yesterday), a couple of tablespoons of Key Lime juice, and a splash of Absolut Peppar vodka. With the salmon skin side down on plastic wrap, the well mixed combination gets packed on top. Wrapped tightly, placed in a plastic zip bag, it’s in the fridge, skin side up, and pressed down with a grill press. Let’s give it 24 hours to see what’s next!

Yum!

30 July 2021

Just be…

29 July 2021

Change can be hard. In gaining something new, inevitably something gets lost in the process. This isn’t necessarily bad, but loss usually brings some form of sadness in the process.

There have been mornings when I’ve thought, “I need to write something. Just do it.” I had nothing profound to say – nothing that would help me, nothing that would help someone else going through changes, so I kept words in my head. Surprisingly, I’ve been pretty dedicated to walking first thing in the morning. It’s gotten to the point where it doesn’t feel good if I don’t. This is a pleasant surprise. I don’t think that, without a change in location, this would have happened.

I’ve started to look at things in a comparative way. No alarm at 5 am lets me wake up when my internal alarm goes off. Not having a great time with work friends during the day has opened up time with someone I love dearly. While the new time together all day long has posed some challenges, it was the planned next step in our relationship.

Not having lots of time to read previously, I can now dive into the stack of reading that had been waiting for me. Finishing President Barack Obama’s “A Promised Land” gave me a greater perspective on Timothy Snyder’s recent New York Times piece, “The War on History Is a War on Democracy.” His quote, “History is not therapy, and discomfort is part of growing up,” has stuck with me. After reading “The Social Capital Quotient” by Emuwa and Gonzalez, I was moved to share a copy with a mentee who is beginning a new leadership role. Harvard Business Review’s Emotional Intelligence Series piece on Empathy brought some unique insights into the many facets of that attribute. Ijeoma Oluo’s “So you want to talk about race” was a profound, in your face, tutorial on the realities of living in a white supremacist society. And, now I’m on to Clifton and Harter’s “Wellbeing at Work” while working through Gates’ “Meditations on Intention and Being” daily reflections. Not too bad for a month’s reading. Oh, and I finally had a chance to watch “Hamilton.”

Although I’m still struggling with feeling like I don’t have a “purpose,” I am embracing the time to do things I’ve wanted the time to do. Yes, for those who know me, I already have a list of possible volunteer opportunities along with potential paid opportunities. But, for now, I’m going to stick with the plan to just be.

4 July 2021

When I was at a loss for my weekly “words of wisdom” for staff, I would inevitably come across something I needed to hear. As I opened email this morning, grumbling internally about the new pace I am struggling with, today’s Inspiring Quote set me straight.

So, I will savor the holiday and remind myself to savor each day, not rushing to get the next thing done.

30 June 2021

Not feeling my #10 Strengths theme, Adaptability, the past few days. Fighting going with the flow, craving structure, and certainly not being good at honest conversation about setting some mutual ground rules. Definitely an area of growth!

28 June 2021

One week ago, I started my journey south. After arriving late Tuesday afternoon, it’s been a week of unpacking. Unpacking stuff. Unpacking memories. Unpacking old ways of doing things. This morning started with what I hope will become a new ritual – a morning walk followed by some writing. With views like this, I may not need much motivation.

25 April 2021

After very slowly revisiting my work, I had a spark of inspiration this morning. As I often mention in my weekly “Friday thoughts” to our corporation staff, I tend to share things I needed to hear. Today, that was reading Leslie K. John’s piece, “Savvy Self-Promotion. The delicate art, and science, of bragging” in the May-June 2021 Harvard Business Review. What a great nudge to finish up my profile information and hit “launch.” If I’m going to try to encourage others to be vulnerable and embrace the journey of self-betterment, it’s time to model that myself.

8 April 2021

This is the beginning of something new. It may be a little while before I put more thoughts on this page, but this marks the birth of this new blog!