Monthly Archives: May 2017

Where are your knitting needles?

I’ve heard of people with memory disorders putting their things in strange places, and then not being able to find them. As my friends and I age, we often talk about such things, and pray that they pass by our lives.

However, this afternoon I lost my newly purchased knitting needles. They appeared to have taken off, to places unknown, all by themselves.

The mystery began after an afternoon of errand running. I had frozen items on my car’s front seat from my unplanned visit to Aldi’s — hence, nothing was bagged. And I had a bag of items from Target, a bag from Lowe’s, and a small flat paper bag from the yarn store containing two sets of double-pointed needles.

Once home, I unloaded all the items from the car onto my kitchen counter. The frozen items went immediately into the freezer. Then I started hunting for the bag of knitting needles. I moved everything on the counter. Not there. I went to the garage to search my car. Nothing there. I returned to the kitchen and looked under all the items on the bar. Still not there. Back to the car. I searched under the seats, on the floorboard, and the narrow space between the seats and the center console. Not there. Back to the kitchen. They’re still not on the counter.

“I know the bag was in my car,” I said to myself. “I remember seeing it on the console. How could it have disappeared in the twenty feet between the car and the kitchen counter?” I was mystified. Frustration was building.

Back to the garage. This time I walked all around the car, remembering that I had unloaded some items from the passenger’s side. Still nothing.

Finally I checked the freezer, although I couldn’t imagine how they would have gotten there. Nothing there on first glance. Only when I moved the recently purchased box of frozen salmon patties, did I see the thin brown bag stuck to the bottom of it.

See, they did get there by themselves. Blame it on the box of salmon patties. Blame it on my inattention as I put things in the freezer. Blame it on the conspiration of the universe, plotting against my sanity and possible onset of dimentia.

Chilled knitting needles might be nice when knitting a winter sweater on a warm summer day. Perhaps I’ll do it on purpose next time.

My knitting needles are in my freezer.

Where are yours?

Until next Tuesday . . .

Contentment

 

 

 

 

I recently ran across a statement that set my pondering juices flowing:

Contentment is not the satisfaction of want;

it’s the pursuit of having enough.

                                                             — Lisa Avellan

The words are heavy and serious: contentment, satisfaction, want, pursuit, enough.

If you’ve ever lived with a child (you pick the age) you’ve often experienced their lack of satisfaction with what you’ve given them. Many times they want, or even demand, more. Or they have a temper tantrum in the middle of the store aisle. Some adults are like that as well, often towards their grown children. It’s like we can never do enough to satisfy their desire for our time, our energy, or our love.

The truth is many of us, particularly in our young adult years, spend our time and energy and money in the pursuit of more. We’re trying to get through school, to start our career, to start our family, to purchase a home — to achieve what people 20 years older have already done. We want it now. All of it. We don’t like to wait. We don’t want to save until we can pay cash. We have our own adult temper tantrums when things don’t easily come our way.

A second truth is the more we have, the more we want. When we’re finally able to purchase our first new car, we’re thinking (at least in the deep recesses of our minds) of all the bells and whistles we’d like on our next one. Our wants are never satisfied. And the more we have, the more time and energy and resources that are required to manage our stuff. It’s a vicious cycle. It’s a kind of hoarding — the fear of running out or not getting everything we deserve — living from a place of scarcity.

But what if . . . what if . . . we could live out of the belief that

what we have is always more than enough

                                               — Marc and Angel

I’m not advocating that you live a monastic minimalist lifestyle as some advocate. I’m just suggesting that you look around your living space, your tiny corner of the universe, your private attitude, your inner spirit — and notice that you have what you need, perhaps you have more than you need — maybe way more than you need.

This attitude of contentment can gently morph into an attitude of abundance. When we are content and believe we have enough, we can set aside our learned habit of comparing ourselves to others. Our hearts can open to include others, our homes become places of generous hospitality, our ears listen with genuine interest, and our schedules become less frantic and more fluid.

If we take a step beyond the contentment with our physical stuff, perhaps we can work our way to a place of contentment with ourselves — believing that we ourselves, our souls, are everything we need. Again, skip the comparisons with others, and believe that you, yourself, are a work of creative genius, complete, yet always a work in progress.

There is courage within us and fearlessness and joy and creativity and voice and uniqueness.

Come forth, out of your abundance.

Until next Tuesday . . .

The caravan

At a conference I experienced the Great Caravan moving in a circle — many individuals walking separately, at their own pace, in their own thoughts, in their own uniqueness, yet moving with the entire group. As I followed the people before me there was a point where they also became the people behind me. We were a continuum. I didn’t know all of those who were walking before nor the ones who were walking behind. I experienced those walking beside me with new eyes and ears and heart. There were many paths yet we walked together. There is no distinction among us.

Because of that experience, I have one thing I want to share with you.

One day I followed behind you, because I had lost my way. I could not find the path. So I chose to follow you, matching my pace to yours, trying to match my rhythm to yours, trying to discover how you walk. I didn’t know what you were thinking as you walked. I didn’t even know where you were going, but your path seemed more certain than my own. So in silence I walked behind you. We never spoke about that day. You never knew. But my journey is changed because you walked before me and I was able to follow you for a short time. Our paths may never touch again, but the touching on that day changed my walking. I tried on your steps, your rhythm, your breathing, the swinging of your arms, the length of your pace. I will always remember that day.

The dawn is coming. The sun is just beginning to wake up in my tiny corner of the cosmos. Your walking ahead of me caused the waking to begin a bit earlier. It hastened the awakening in my soul, when the night was too dark, and I couldn’t find my way. Tomorrow when the dark returns I will remember following you and I will remember walking in your light. Perhaps the light I sometimes carry falls into the darkness of your night, when you cannot find your way, or when the way is too obscure.

Yes, sometimes you have been the one, walking ahead of me in the caravan, making a path for me to follow. And sometimes you have been the one walking in my footsteps when you couldn’t find your own path. It is all the same. Going before, coming from behind — it is all the same. The only thing we need to know is that we are all part of the caravan — we all walk together. We have always walked together and we will always walk together — for all time . . . and beyond time.

I am grateful for our walking.

Until next Tuesday . . .

 

Your opinion matters

When someone asks me, “How are you?” I sometimes . . . occasionally . . . not that often . . . reply, “I’m awesome!” As their surprise at my response settles on their face, I continue. “That’s my opinion. You’re entitled to your own opinion, but don’t feel obligated to share it with me.” We share a laugh. We may touch each other, perhaps lightly on the shoulder or arm, or share a hug. We always walk away, smiling.

This momentary sharing is always fun.

The truth is that most days I’m pretty awesome (in my opinion) — independent of physical feelings or circumstances or schedules or accomplishments or challenges. How I am, is separate from all my stuff.

I don’t know exactly when I came to this understanding; it probably evolved over many decades. Or maybe I finally believed what my parents told me as a child. Like Mr. Rogers, they said, “You are fine, just the way you are.” They knew, and I knew, there was room for improvement. I wasn’t particularly happy with my child self, but at my core I believed I was loved — no matter what.

It often takes us years to grow into that understanding of unconditional love. Some of us have never experienced it in our families or in our relationships. But even with that, it’s possible to learn to love ourselves, to accept ourselves as we are, and believe we are good enough.

If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you know I always have improvement projects going one — I can’t help it. It’s just who I am.

But beneath that personal necessity (to always become better) I am content — even if I made no changes.

The question becomes — for all of us — who are we at our very foundation? What does our bedrock look like? What forms our foundation?

 

So, of course, I have questions for you:

  • Did you choose your foundational rocks or were they put there by someone else?
  • Is your foundation solid or does it shift with the tides, the opinions of others, or your own uncertainty?
  • Is your foundation made of old, old rocks or have you laid some new ones?
  • Is your foundation some long standing structure that has served it’s usefulness, that needs to be removed, so new foundation rocks can be put in place?
  • What would it take for your foundation to be secure, no matter the storms that come your way? Because the storms will come . . .

Here are a few suggestions for improving your foundation:

    Examine. Is the existing structure solid or does it need repair?

 

    Excavate. Discover your foundation’s history.

 

    Plan. What changes need to be made?

 

    Repair, renovate, or rebuild.

 

Yes, it requires awareness, intention, and work. Create the best foundation to support your growth into teetotal awesomeness.

Until next Tuesday . . .

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Third Annual Piano Recital

It seems just a few months ago I wrote about my first piano recital: how I’d never done it before, how I’d overcome a life of nervousness, and how it felt like jumping off a cliff. And I wrote that I survived the event.

Actually that first recital was April 2015. I only invited a few people, close friends who already loved me, and would continue to love me no matter how I played.

The next year the event was enough bigger to do a small rehearsal for a select group before the main event.

This year there were two main events: the first for 15-20 neighbors, the second for 15-20 friends.

Here’s what I’ve learned with these annual recitals:

  • Friends enjoy hearing my music. They often say they had a fun afternoon at my house.
  • I’ve learned to focus on the first few measures of each piece before I begin to play. That makes for a better start — and a single start.
  • Listeners like to learn about the composer and the composition before they hear the music. Informed listening is engaged listening.

Each performance is unique and music is always a work in progress. A piece is never totally finished, even though Dr. B has blessed it.  Music I played last year is way better now because it’s had time to settle, mature, and become more expressive. There’s always more practice to be done and more nuances to be incorporated. Always.

If I wait until my playing is perfect, no one will ever hear my music. My passion for Beethoven and Schumann and Debussy will never come to the light of day. Talking about my music is not the same as actually playing it for others.

Life, like musical performance, is the same way. If we hide ourselves until we’re perfect, no one gets to experience who we are, in all of our wonderfulness and quirkiness and fabulousness and uniqueness. If we’re always apologizing for our errors and mistakes and shortcomings our successes and accomplishments and milestones remain hidden with us.

My playing wasn’t perfect. In fact, I made mistakes in unexpected places.  There was no silent self-beating for my imperfect performance. No one cares about my mistakes; in fact, they rarely notice. I didn’t apologize — because I played my best. “Beethoven may have just rolled over,” I shared after the sonata. “I know he’s never heard it played like that! In fact, I was a little surprised myself.” We laughed together.

I ventured out of my comfort zone — again — and actually looked forward to the afternoon performances. My friends enjoyed my music and visiting with each other over cookies and lemonade. “Thank you so much for inviting me!” was an oft heard comment.

What more could anyone want?

So, get out of your box. Rid yourself of the excuses you’ve hidden behind. Challenge yourself. Take a new step.

Stepping out is not easy. Growth is not easy, either, but it’s worth your effort.

Until next Tuesday . . .