Tuesday, August 6, 2013

two weeks later

I'm back!

Since I last wrote, I've been focusing on adjusting to the many steps, constant kneeling and standing, lifting, and the unforgiving nature of concrete floors. Poor little feet! Poor back! Poor wrists! But, I think I am finally getting acclimated to the physical demands of my job.

From the first few days, when I was planning to quit every fifteen minutes, I have gotten to the place where I genuinely like this job. It truly is physically challenging, but there are so many little satisfactions with the job.

I love helping the people in the store. From the ones who have the "Which aisle is it in" look on their faces, to the elderly who so appreciate genuine interest and kindness, to people who have fewer financial resources, to the apparently grumpy people who smile when I greet them, each interaction makes me feel so thankful for the opportunity to give something to someone else.

Everyone I work with in my department is younger than I, but several of them have MUCH more experience than I do in this industry and I have much to learn. At the same time, my natural leadership abilities and my customer service orientation offer something to my co-workers, and of course, my customers.

Does this sound like a cover letter for a resume? Ooops!

To top it all off, the realizations just keep coming. Since I stock OTC, I have learned that there is a pill for everything. No, make that FIVE pills for everything. And for some things, there are literally hundreds of choices.

I feel like I live my life in a perpetual state of agog-ness, wherein I discover things that probably most people already know. For instance, Kepler had a couple bouts of diarrhea this winter. I did my preferred medical treatment: have him drink more water, and wait. Oh, and I would worry. He missed quite a bit of school. Color me agog when I see several items on the grocery shelf that deal with the symptoms of diarrhea! See? You already knew that existed, didn't you. Not me.

In the picture of the tea, notice the box on top is oriented horizontally, and most of the rest are oriented vertically. When I first started stocking shelves, I was all indignant that some of the packages came in with horizontal packaging and sometimes the SAME THING came in with vertical packaging. I attributed this to the evils of marketing, as a secret ploy to get people to BUY MORE! IT'S NEW! It only took me, oh, FOUR WEEKS to realize that most items have horizontal on ONE side and vertical on the OTHER side, so that you can have the product name oriented correctly no matter how you stock your shelves. Doh!

As with the package orientation, I learn much of my job on my own. The instruction is sparse, and if I don't have my "listening ears" on, sometimes I miss it! The area I am most uneducated in is the merchandising aspect, and I look forward to learning about that.

All in all, I feel like I am a valued member of a team that is serving my community well. And that's very satisfying to experience in a job.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Ah, Wilderness!

Yes, home again, home again, jiggety jig! It's already Wednesday and we have been back since late Saturday night.

Sunday, I TOTALLY had to sleep to recover from the long trip home. Monday, I TOTALLY wanted to spend several hours helping my sister work through her garage full of stuff in preparation for their move Saturday. Tuesday, I TOTALLY was busy with Thing A in the morning hours, Thing B in the afternoon, and Thing C in the evening.

Finally, today I am here to tell you I am here!

Back to work at the store last evening. I enjoyed my five hours working. At one point, though, a store manager asked me to take on the responsibility of selling something (for a good cause) to at least four people during the evening.

And that reminded me ...

While we were on vacation on the Island of Intermittent Internet, I had a realization ...

The wilderness isn't trying to sell me anything. It's not trying to get my attention with more choices, louder commercials, or faster images.

 The wilderness is made up of many parts that all just do their own thing. Although there are some male birds who do try to get the attention of their female counterparts, the colors and sounds there are peaceful and unobtrusive.

No signs advertising anything. No evident government intrusion into my experience of the wilderness. Small notices -- two buoys signaling "no wake."

I realize not everyone loves the wilderness like I do! I wonder where others get this kind of quiet, this being apart from the noise and chaos of the city.

While I sat writing this post, on the bank of the channel, I saw:

Trees leaning out over the water;
Tangles of lilypads on the water surface;
Partially submerged branches;
The reflection of the trees in the water;
Slow-moving clouds;
Water skimmers;
Concentric circles appearing in the water, then dissipating;
Towering white pines;
The shimmering reflection of the water scurrying along the underside of overhanging branches like natural chaser lights;
Everything swaying gently in the breeze.

Even the canoes full of campers would make very little sound if the campers were listening instead of talking. "Let's play the quiet game," I heard one of them say. "OK," says another, "I lose!"

There is a reality that we can damage our natural resources; the oceans, the waterways, forests, and I wonder what difference it would make if we considered that it is beyond humanity's capability to create an ocean or build a mountain range or do anything more than observe or possibly explain how such ecosystems work.

One cannot find a person or government agency that put these lilypads in this lake (although one can believe in Someone who did). No one who decided where the actual lilies would float. No one who engineered the coasts, riverbanks, lakefronts.

Being in the wilderness always reminds me of the vastness of the universe. The quiet refreshes and calms me. I come away from such a journey with a peaceful heart.

Where do YOU find such refreshment?

Saturday, July 13, 2013

On the road again

Is "intermittent reinforcement" a thing? I remember something from my Intro to Psych class about how that kind of reinforcement kept the rats coming back for more. I'm happy to report that I am smarter than those rats.

The Internet at our undisclosed location this week was frustratingly intermittent, and although I persevered the first few days, there wasn't enough sand for me to stare at my phone more than I already was. Hence, my silent blog for the past few days.

I didn't even realize how much I needed a vacation. It probably took a good three days before I began to unwind. Guess I was the proverbial frog in the water near boiling. Smarter than a rat, but denser than a frog. Going on vacation to a beloved spot turned the burner off and I could stop fighting once the boiling had subsided.

A week later, I am transformed. To be continued ...

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

A short post to tide ME over

My last post is dated today but I'm in central time so it actually went up last night. I am doing a lot of writing but the sketchy Internet makes it very hard to post long posts. Talk to you soon!

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Just to tide you over

Am out of Internet range for all but the most rudimentary tasks. Will be in touch soon. Happy 50th birthday to my dear sister.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

It's all in your point of view

Years ago, when Kepler was a baby, the neighbors who live behind us were up to their normal July 4th BIG, LOUD fireworks. I can't remember now whether we called them directly or called the police, but I'm pretty sure we called them directly. They had no idea we were trying to put a baby down for the night, and apologized for the noise.

In the years following, they have kept up, and even increased the spectacle on the 4th. Although fireworks are illegal, I think our local police kind of give everyone a pass for that one day because there have been plenty of fireworks shot off in their yard. This year, their fireworks were so loud that Kepler would run into the house during prolonged explosions. I ran with him. I'm not the biggest fan of fireworks

My dear husband and son do love fireworks and had gotten some small ones to set off. I just had to laugh at the contrast between the huge booms taking place in the yard behind us, and the tiny little boomlets happening as our bottle rockets zipped skyward. Neighbor's booms were bold72-point font with sixteen exclamation points after them. Ours were 6-point light, in parentheses.

So you can imagine our surprise when the police car stopped in front of our house and walked to our backyard to ask us about the fireworks we were setting off. Greg motioned to the yard behind us as the source of the giant booms, but the police still told us we had to stop as someone had complained, and once someone complains, they have to take action. We stopped immediately, and went inside.

Meanwhile, the giant booms continued.

We have our own Gladys Kravitz (character from Bewitched -- very "observant" neighbor) living nearby and we suspected they called the police, owing to another time when the the city sent us a letter checking out something that was brought to their attention by one of our neighbors, something which was unfounded. I also suspected them because their front window would give them a view of the big booms, and they could have conceivably thought we were doing it since we were in direct line with our neighbors behind us.

I hate it that our neighbors would call the police on us. ESPECIALLY since our teeny little fireworks were both fairly quiet and unobtrusive. As we went inside, and I sat reading, I just reflected on the irony that with all the huge fireworks being set off before, during and after our miniature display, WE  were the ones the police visited.

I'd like to think that next July 4, maybe we will be living somewhere where we do not have loud fireworkers living directly behind us, and police-callers directly in front of us! If we are, well, I'm sure I don't know how that bottle rocket ended up in your yard, sir!

Friday, July 5, 2013

The Cloak of Invisibility

6:30am GMT

Dear Blogger Customer Service,

It has come to my attention that you may have inadvertently invoked the "Cloak of Invisibility" clause and applied it to my blog. I say this because although I have checked Facebook and email religiously the past few days, it seems no one is reading my blog. I can only conclude that this is due to your mistaken idea that I had asked for the COI to be applied herein. Please advise.

Thank you.

6:37am PST

Dear Souisxie,

We have received your request to invoke the "Cloak of Invisibility" on your blog. Although we do not advise this, as it will make your posts unavailable to all readers except your mother, we are here to serve.

Customer (dis)Service

6:38am GST

Dear Blogger Customer Service,

No, No, No, No! I do not WANT the COI to be applied to my blog. Please reverse this immediately. My readership is small and faithful, and will be discouraged if they cannot read whatever Siouxsie is Miouxsing about.

Thank you in advance.
Siouxsie's Musings

7:45am CST

Dear Mouiouoxsie,

In order to reverse your request to invoke the Cloak of Invisibility on your account, which we do NOT advise invoking, as it significantly reduces your already tiny readership, please forward by certified mail, three notarized affidavits by readers who are willing to vouch for your actual humanity. We have had a great deal of trouble with "bots" writing blogs, and our computer programs have detected a high level of material on your blog that could have been written by a "bot." We await your response, Mr. Muoiuosie.

Customer (dis)Service

7:45:10am Turkish Time


I didn't ask for this Cloak of Invisibility thing in the first place, and I'll be derned if I'm going to fabricate three letters from my readers, although as many times as I check to see if anyone has visited my blog, I could certainly qualify for that. Take it off. NOW.

Git it done, eh.
Siouxsie's Musings

9:39pm MST

Dear Sir or Madam,

Please check your computer to see if it has been taken over by "bots." We have been receiving communication from this ISP address which indicates that you want to have the Cloak of Invisibility invoked on your blog. We simply do not recommend this. Please see our FAK page at wwww.FAX.hun.org.com. The Cloak of Invisibility will significantly cut down your readership. What do you NOT understand here?

Always at your service,

9:40am Aussie Time

Yeah, ok. Please invoke the Cloak of Invisibility. I will continue to write, but now I will be sure that no one is getting to see it. That will reduce the sharp disappointment I feel every time I write a post and receive no comments whatsoever. I know yesterday was the 4th of July, and people were out running 5k races, marching in parades, setting off fireworks, and generally celebrating with their good friends and families, but wouldn't at least one of them have had time to check Facebook and click on my link? I'm so confused.

Siouxsie's Musings

9:45gm GMT Greenwich

Dear Siouxsie,

We have received your request to remove the Cloak of Invisibility and have done so. All you had to do was ask! As you know, we do not recommend the Cloak of Invisibility to our bloggers.

If you should ever want to reinstate the COI, simply email us and we will be glad to help. For now, keep on blogging and enjoy your day.

Mostly sincerely,
Blogger Customer Service Extraordinaire.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

I may have spoken too soon

"If you will recall," the reason I decided to look for a job outside our home is because I am just a LITTLE too good at solitude, and I thought this particular job would meet several needs:

1. Sounded like fun. As my friend called it, "the zen of shelf stocking."

2. Money could change hands. Me doing work in exchange for a few pennies every so often.

3. Gives me a reason to go somewhere and see people. Talk to them. Listen to them. Ask questions. Be seen by people outside my home, so they know I still exist.

Then came the bandaids, which are something I don't want to have to pay a lot of attention to, because there's NOT ENOUGH SAND.

But, please refer back to #3.

See, I realized a couple of things. At home, there are also mundane things that I do. Pick up the toys. A hundred times. Handle the extra packets that come with takeout food. (There's an important job!) Figure out if we need more tissues. Flatten and roll the plastic grocery bags. You know what? Those are mundane things, but I do them because they need to be done. And, not that I need to get paid for everything, but I don't get paid for any of those things. That's ok.

I didn't take this job because of the money. And everything I said the other day was true! If I had to deal with those bandaids all day long, I would definitely run screaming the other way. But, that's not all I do. While I am doing these mundane tasks, some of which are quite zen-like, I am also being in relationship with the people I work with and for, the customers who shop at our store, and my co-workers. None of those people and I will have a relationship if I am at home.

Many of these relationships may be just a small step more personal than online relationships I have with people, but they are a small step more personal. I need people. People need me. So, I'm staying for now. And I'll bring my kindness and joy to my work and to the people I work with, and I will be the recipient of the grace and poetry that is people in all shapes and sizes.

My boss was happy when I called and asked her to tear up my resignation letter. And so was I.

What do you find satisfying in your work?

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Before Midnight

That's the title of the film I went to see today with my husband of 28.5 years, at our favorite theater.

Before Midnight is the third in a series of three films. Before Sunrise, Before Sunset, and Before Midnight; they came out in 1995, 2004, and 2013.

In 1995 I was busy with a two-year-old, a one-year-old and a new baby, so I missed that one. In 2004, I was ... I don't know, but I missed that one as well. A friend posted on Facebook that she was excited about this new one coming out, so I took notice. I thought it might be important to watch the first two before we went to the theater (it was), and Amazon Prime came to the rescue last night. We rented both of them and watched them one after the other.

Each film is about a period of time in the lives of Jesse (American) and Celine (French). The first film covers their initial meeting and the subsequent twenty-four hours they spend together in Vienna; the second is nine years later in Paris; the latest one took place in Greece.

Before Midnight captures my life exactly, except for the glamorous Greek scenery. Celine and Jesse are parents now and are vacationing in the Lower Peloponnese mountains. Tres magnifique.

Celine and Jesse got into an argument, and when she said she had not yet recovered from the birth of her twins four years prior, my tears started flowing and continued for the remainder of the film, the 20-minute trip home, and for awhile at home. I know a lot of things about a lot of things. Before Midnight bypassed my busy monkey brain and delved down into the deepest parts of me.

Sometimes we laugh at our younger selves -- those bold, confident, optimistic selves who have the world at their feet but don't know it. My younger self was sure about a hell of a lot of things.

Life is fragile. Love is wonderful, but it is hard work, n'est pas? I highly recommend this movie, especially for long-together couples who are still intentional about continuing to kindle the flames of their love.

Jesse and Celine are beautiful, and I am in awe of the truth and wisdom in this film. I want to travel, to speak what is true for me, and to banish fear from my life. Before Midnight spoke to my deepest heart.

Here is a very good review of Before Midnight.

Have you seen it? What films have spoken to your deepest heart?

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

On my Further Adventures in Retail

I gave my notice yesterday.

As it turned out, I didn't need to give my NOT ENOUGH SAND speech, which I think is a good thing, considering how the folks who are working there are also spending their sand, and might not have taken too kindly to my pithy phrase.

As it further turned out, I realized that all the nifty box opening and box breaking down and whatnot has been making my poor little hands hurt -- inside and out. Inside, I think I have some arthritis lurking in there, and some tendon issues as well. Outside, the cardboard keeps on biting me, giving me paper cuts (cardboard cuts?), ripping my fingernails below the quick (and THAT is jolly good fun, let me tell you), and generally just drying out my skin, and leaving me filthy to boot. The filth washes off, but the pain from the tendons and joints doesn't go away so easily. So, I had the perfect reason to give for why this job is not a good fit for me.

I DO remember there are many people in the world who would love to have this job, who would be glad to be in such a well-lit, well-stocked place, and who would find my pay to be simply fabulous. May they find their way to my store and apply for the job!

Yesterday, on my second-to-last day, I had to face down the bandaids again. They were ornery as ever.

Yesterday, on my second-to-last day, I had a big aha moment. My passion is about simplifying life. Retail is most definitively, definitely, confoundedly NOT about simplifying life. Advertisers want us to buy MORE, MORE, MORE! Merchandisers set things just so in order to capitalize on our impulse buying, our attention span, our desires for gratification. Those are all honest jobs; I do not fault the people who do these jobs.

Even in such a short time, I got a very interesting glimpse into a job and a business that I was only familiar with from the outside. I am grateful for the opportunity to have tried this. And I am keen to discover what is going to come next.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Not Enough Sand


Did you ever play store when you were a kid? We did. We would climb up onto the stovetop and pull canned goods, oatmeal, teabags, cereal, and more out of that upper cabinet. Then we would go get some paper bags out of the closet, and carry it all into the living room to set up our store. There were three of us kids so we had a bagger, a cashier, and a customer. Sometimes we would strain the cashier's capabilities and have TWO customers in line. Ah, it made for hours of fun.

I remember how fun it was to set up the store. When I started mulling over the possibility of getting a job in retail, my local grocery clerk actually asked me out of the blue if I would like a job, so I pursued it. There are some fun things about stocking shelves. Making everything look nice, filling in empty spots. The best part is being able to direct a customer to the product they are seeking.

And then the band aids happened.

Let's just look at Johnson&Johnson, a popular brand of bandaid. The line that my local store carries includes comfort-flex plastic (60 count), medium comfort-flex adhesive pads (10 count), large comfort-flex adhesive pads (10 count), comfort-flex sheer (40 count), comfort-flex sheer assorted (40 count), comfort-flex sheer assorted (60 count), comfort-flex sheer assorted (80 count), comfort-flex extra large (10count), comfort-flex clear (30 count). And so on to the tune of over 40 varieties of type, size, and use.

Ah, but we would be remiss if we only offered 40 types of one company's product. So we also offer another 40 or so similar products of the generic house brand.

Even if you skipped those last two paragraphs, that means EIGHTY types and varieties of band aids. And band aids don't come in those sturdy metal canisters anymore. No, indeed. They come in paper boxes.

Paper bandaid boxes fall over at the whisper of a touch. So, the poor sod who gets the job of restocking the bandaid shelves -- it's like playing that children's game "Operation" where the buzzer sounds if you touch the sides of the "incision." But in this case, the boxes fall over, mix themselves up, turn their backs on me, slide, fall off the shelf, stand on their head, and turn on an angle. Anything but stay where they are PUT.

Of course people need band aids. And no doubt the magic Market Research has shown that people need band aids to come in all one size, and assorted, and waterproof, and extra large, and medium, and sheer, and clear, and flexible, and sport, and pre-treated with antibiotic ointment, and shaped for fingers, and shaped for toes, and extra-sticky, and less sticky, and the all-important travel pack.

But I don't need to be the one who messes with the incredibly tedious job of straightening and
restocking the bandaid shelves. I felt the sand of my life descending into the bottom of the hourglass as I conscientiously did this job. NOT enough sand in the top to make this job worth me doing.

Not only band-aids, but allergy medicine, shaving cream, lotions, shampoos, vitamins, diapers, chocolate bars, hairspray, feminine products, toothpaste. They all come in MULTIPLE multiple sizes.

Not enough sand, my friends, NOT ENOUGH SAND.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Taking a Step

I had this brilliant idea that I would go get myself a part-time job. I have been staying at home with my kids for a long time and I thought it would work out to go out and work for awhile.

The thing is, I am qualified to offer several services, including tutoring, coaching, and organizing/decluttering. I love to do all three of those things, but in order to do them, I have to find clients, and the whole "starting a small business" thing isn't really my forte.

So, I thought maybe retail would be the way to go. Three days in, I am not so sure. I have realized that this is pretty much an unskilled position, so I can certainly be hired to do it, but I do think maybe I am capable of more than is being asked of me here.

My goal was to get the opportunity to be in contact with more people. A natural introvert, I do love solitude, but even as an introvert, there can be too much solitude. Seems that making friends at this point in life is a bigger task than I have the resources for. Overcoming the extent of my solitude is looking like a mountain right now.

I sent one email to volunteer for a local organization, but they did not respond.

The mountain looks tall and imposing right now.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Finishing the Job: Dishwasher vs. Sink

So, in my house, whenever we paint a room, build a deck, refinish a piece of furniture, or do any type of project, there always seems to be one last little detail that does not get completed, so no job ever truly gets done. And, once the momentum is gone for the project, that last project can go for months or years or permanently staying incomplete. As a "J" on the Meyers-Briggs personality type, I do prefer closure, yet I am just as responsible as anyone else for leaving one thing undone. 

I noticed this morning in our house that most of us prefer to put the dishes in the dishwasher. I think we feel like we are getting the dishes done that way. And when I say we, I currently would have to say excepting present company, because I have noticed that when I wash the dishes by hand, the entire kitchen gets cleaned up, whereas, putting the dishes in the dishwasher still leaves the stove in need of being wiped, counters of being de-crumbed, and the large dishes in need of being handwashed anyway. 

I wonder where else I busy myself with work-y type things and don't actually get the job done. Oh, I have one. When I use my vacuum cleaner which requires six men and a boy scout to put together and take apart. I can usually get it all put together, and even do the vacuuming, but getting it put away -- well, that often takes me a good 24 hours. 

My sink has two bowls. The right-hand one has battle scars. Recently, I switched the direction of washing/drying and I am using the left-hand, nice, shiny, white sink. My family has cooperated beautifully.

This morning, one helper loaded the plates and glasses and bowls into the dishwasher. The counters were all pretty much in need of attention, the stove was sporting some bacon grease from breakfast, and the griddle, broiler pans, and cookie sheet all needed to be hand-washed.

As much as I appreciate my helper putting those items into the dishwasher, I find great satisfaction in washing them by hand, because I know that the odds and ends will be put away, or thrown away, as the case may be. The dishwasher loader can do his or her job confidently, while still leaving the parmesan container on the counter, the griddle on the stove, the drips and spills on the counter, and the lone bread heel still waiting to be taken care of. 

"They" say that handwashing takes more water. Maybe, maybe not. My dishwasher makes a terrible sound while it runs, a sort of grinding, agonizing, pulsating noise that seems wrong. The dishwasher repairman alleges it is alright. I disagree, but I digress. My dishwasher doesn't always clean every dish/piece of cutlery completely. My dishwasher takes at least two hours to wash the dishes. Even without the terrible sound, it doesn't do the job like I do. Sure, there are times that the dishwasher is definitely the way to go, but I find dishwashing by hand to be soothing and calming and satisfying. In all of these things there is a trade-off. More water? More satisfaction? Less noise? Completion of the job? 

It all reminds me to look at the whole picture, not just one single statistic. 

This is my first post since I did the blog challenge in April. I've been away a long time. If you've read this far, thank you. I cherish my readers. I plan to write more often, and look forward to hearing from you. 

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Z is just for Z

Why couldn't I just be into zombies like everyone else? That would make this post so much easier to write. Zombie books! Zombie films! Zombie slang! However, I am looking forward to reading other bloggers today to see if I can get a glimpse into the appeal of Zombies. I don't get it.

I will leave you on this final day of the 2013 A to Z Blog Challenge with a video of my beloved U2 singing Zooropa on the 360 Tour. I hope you enjoy it. Thanks for reading. 

Monday, April 29, 2013

Y is for Yesterday

In honor of days gone by when children's literature and simple poetry were  part of every single day. Light and easy, today, folks, light and easy.


I found my box of rubber bands.
I’d lost them yesterday.
I’d moved them from a place I thought
I’d like for them to stay.

I found my missing bumbershoot.
My hair got wet with rain.
The sun came out, my hair was dry,
Before ‘twas found again.

I found my missing batteries,
My radio had died.
I missed the ballgame broadcast time
I sat right down and cried.

I found my other shoe. Oh boy,
My toes got cold without.
Just wearing socks and socks and socks
and socks to Hop about.

I found my keys, oh yes I did.
I feel so sheepish though.
I left them in the car you see,
And now poor car won’t go.

I found my brand new day today.
I thought it was all gone.
Huzzah! A new one everyday
Arising with the dawn.

With love,

    E  F  G  H   I  J      N   O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z

Sunday, April 28, 2013

AtoZ Blog Challenge: This Week in Review . . . S, T, U, V, W, and X

Week four of the blog challenge brought with it a little fatigue to go with the challenges of letter like U, W, and X. Getting to know all these bloggers and seeing how much creativity is in this little corner of the internet is enough to keep me going to finish up on Monday and Tuesday with Y and Z.
This week, I started out with some Storytelling about my sledding accident of 1974. I met some wonderful new people in the comments on this post.

Tuesday, to fulfill a promise I had made to my personal trainer, I compared Personal Training and ActivTrax, two methods of having supervised workouts at our YMCA. My trainer said it made his day.

Owing to having been nominated for the Liebster Blog Award by my blogger friend, Ida Chiavaro of Reflex Reactions, Wednesday's topic was U is for an Unexpected Honor.

Wednesday also found me rather low. I was supposed to fly to California, and instead went to the doctor and found out I had pneumonia. I was glad to have pre-written and scheduled my Wednesday post.

Thursday, I reflected about Viktor Frankl, author of the a wonderful book, Man's Search for Meaning.

W was for Wondrous, a lovely word that encapsulates how I see life.

I finished up this week with my post, X is for Xmas.

One of my most wondrous discoveries this week is the Finnish folk group, Värttinä. Enjoy the video that introduced me to this beautiful music:

Finally, a little shout-out to my son, who turns 19 today. Happy Birthday, J!

Saturday, April 27, 2013

X is for Xmas.

But first, a brief, though affeXionate Xplanation about the perhaps less than Xceptional quality of this Xample of my Xpression. Dr. Pat Xplained on Wednesday that my Xcellent immune system had an unXpected encounter with some Xsisting pneumonia germs and I've been busy with the blitzkrieg to banish them. Now, on to X . . .

I remember hearing worried adults pontificating that using the word Xmas was an attempt to remove Christ from Christmas. Well, worry no more, ladies and gents. X is actually a substitute for the word Christ, as it derives from the first Greek letter of Christ, chi, which looks similar to the roman letter x.

Much ado about nothing, I say.

There was a time in the history of my Christmases that no one gave a second thought to the origins of the Christmas tree, or worried that belief in Santa Claus might undermine a child's faith in God (!), or freaked out about whether to say Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays, or saw that discussion as an attack on one's beliefs. Oy vey, Xmas has gotten complicated.

While I'm not going to head out and pick up Merry Xmas cards, it is an awfully handy abbreviation for texting and quick notes and signs. Never mind that Xmas has even gone pretty much by the wayside these days for the more inclusive term Holidays. 

Whatever you celebrate, whenever you celebrate it, whatever you call it, make it meaningful and wondrous. 

What is your take on the word Xmas?

    E  F  G  H   I  J      N   O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z

Friday, April 26, 2013

W is for Wondrous

Inspiring a feeling of wonder or delight; marvelous.
Marvelously; wonderfully.
wonderful - marvelous - marvellous - miraculous

I love the word wondrous. I associate it with the most marvelous experiences of my life, as well as a lot of things that might be considered to be fairly mundane. And it's one thing I really like about myself, the fact that I often have experiences where I am filled with wonder. 

For me, even though life has definitely had its exhausting moments and seasons, life is simply a wondrous experience.

Mr. Ralph Waldo Emerson associates it with wisdom, another great W word. 

“The invariable mark of wisdom is to see the miraculous in the common.” ― Ralph Waldo Emerson
And Ms. Alice Walker demonstrates her wisdom about wonder in this beautiful quote:

“I think us here to wonder, myself. To wonder. To ask. And that in wondering bout the big things and asking bout the big things, you learn about the little ones, almost by accident. But you never know nothing more about the big things than you start out with. The more I wonder, the more I love.” ― Alice WalkerThe Color Purple
How's your wonder quotient these days?

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Thursday, April 25, 2013

V is for Viktor Frankl, one seriously badass dude

During one of the watershed experiences of my life, I read Man's Search for Meaning. An unassuming little paperback, the content was dynamite. This man managed to find meaning in his existence in a Nazi concentration camp, and formulate a philosophy that says we have the bottom line opportunity in every situation in our lives to make a choice how we will respond. As he marched barefoot through the snow, he saw himself as having a choice whether or not he was going to do so. I think "We have no choice" is one of my least favorite phrases in the English language. Of course we have a choice.

We who lived in concentration camps can remember the men who walked through the huts comforting others, giving away their last piece of bread. They may have been few in number, but they offer sufficient proof that everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms -- to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one's own way. p104, Man's Search for Meaning

What do you think about having the freedom to choose?

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Wednesday, April 24, 2013

U is for an Unexpected Honor: The Liebster Blog Award

Little did I know when I began this AtoZ Blog Challenge that I would meet such wonderful people. Ida Chiavaro, blogger at Reflex Reactions, is one of those people. Not only does she write a wonderfully thought-provoking blog, but she graciously nominated me for my first ever blog award, the liebster blog award.

Answer 15 questions from my nominator

1. What is the nicest thing anyone ever said to me? When I asked Bono if I could get a photo with him, he said, "Of course."

2. Something my parents taught me: Laughter is the best medicine.

3. Have I ever dreamed of celebrities or famous people? Yes, U2 have been in my dreams a few times.

4. Do I have any quirks, rituals or superstitions? I like to look for my first name in the credits of movies. If it's a movie I like and my name is there, I take that as a good sign. If it's a movie I didn't like, and my name is there, I pretend like there's nothing to it!

5. What's the most amazing thing I have seen in the sky? Hands down, Northern Lights.

6. What's the craziest thing I have done with my hair? On a total whim my senior year in high school, I went and got a perm that well-and-truly gave me an afro.

7. Have I ever seen a baby being born? Yes and no. I've been awake and unmedicated for my own five births, but was too scared to actually LOOK at the moment of birth, not to mention too busy.

8. Have I ever been with someone when they died? I was with my sisters at my dad's bedside when he died.

9. Have I ever had a strange experience that I just can't explain? At the first college I went to which shall forever remain unnamed, I was lonely and homesick. Coming out of the campus post office one day when my post office box was just as empty as could be, I had a sense that I was receiving an actual hug from someone who I could not see. I could feel the hug.

10. Am I an excellent speller, bad speller, or thought I was good but use spell check a lot? I used to be an excellent speller (well, except for façade -- see below), but years of looking at misspellings and misuse of words on the internet has eroded my skills somewhat.

11. Do I have/have I had any pet(s)? Pick a favourite. I have no pets at this time. I learned from my father that animals were mostly pests, and I'm still looking forward to the day when I have a pet that I truly, deeply, madly love.

12. Where is question 12? There was no question 12. :-)

13. What was the last thing I said out loud? "I think Dad is going to do something with you."

14. Where am I sitting while I write this? I am sitting in my office at my desk, which is in a room I share with Kepler as his bedroom.

15. What does/do my name/names mean? Susan means "lily" in Hebrew. Depending on where you look, my name refers to motherhood, and to innocence. I was named after my father's great-aunt Sue, who filled in as a mother to dad's cousin. I never met her.

11 Facts about Myself

1. I was responsible for little black footprints on my parents' sidewalk because I ran across the just-refinished driveway (age 3). The footprints stayed for many, many years.

2. After winning the school spelling bee in 8th grade, I went to the next round -- the all-city written test. Having never heard the word façade pronounced aloud, I spelled it "pissade" because I couldn't figure out what in the world they were saying. (I did not move on to the next round!)

3. I once drove a combine during wheat harvest, but only for a few minutes. I felt pretty powerful!

4. My 3rd grade teacher sent me to stand in the hall because I suggested that "Little Red Hen" was a story for babies. Oh, she did not have patience for much of anything. I always wondered what was up with her.

5. I was a glorious flop on the diving team, although I had been "recruited" because of my notable diving.

6. One of my nicknames is "Tech Support @ Home" because I help my husband with all manner of technical issues, but mostly with his phone.

7. I was accused of shoplifting once. This is hilarious because I would be the last person in the world to steal something. The store gave me a $250 gift certificate in apology.

8. Caramel, not butterscotch, is my most favorite flavor.

9. I eat pie as an excuse to have real whipped cream.

10. I don't smoke, because the one time I tried it in high school, it made me nauseous, and that's all it took to put me off cigs permanently.

11. Mild-mannered me once went to a bowling alley where my sister was participating in a "lock-in" program and YELLED at the doorman to let me have my sister. Amazingly, he did.

11.2 Questions for my nominees:

1. What's one thing you have done that most people haven't?

2. What are three of your most treasured items?

3. What is one of your favorite lines from a movie?

4. What is your favorite food to eat with chopsticks?

5. Does fashion matter to you? In what way(s)?

6. What is one thing you are sure of?

7. What do you think of inside/outside the box thinking?

8. Where in your life do you value simplicity?

9. Where in your life do you value luxury?

10. Do you have any quirks, rituals, or superstitions?

11. If you came with a warning label, what would it say?

Finally, my 11 nominees for a Liebster Blog Award:
1. Lottie Nevin at LottieNevin.com. Her photographic blog about her life in Indonesia is breathtaking.
2. Anne Mackle at Is Anyone There. She has tackled "Staying Fabulous and Fit after 50" for this blog challenge. Well done!
3. Cynthia Reed at Reed Writes. The last AtoZ post she published was "M" but I love her writing and her stories.
4. The Mom Chef at Taking on Magazines one Recipe at a Time. The Mom Chef isn't participating in the #AtoZChallenge, but her writing is so friendly and personal, it's like she's writing to each reader individually. And the recipes are amazing, too!
5. Philip Stasyszen at Peaceably Sown. Philip has a wonderfully honest writing style with a lot of heart.
6. Kate at I Heart Suburbia. Kate's writing and life are both honest and inspiring.
7. Jennifer at Infant Intelligentsia. Jennifer's writing inspires me, as a mother, as an advocate of Down syndrome, and as a woman.
8. Shelly at Life on the Wild Side. I love reading about Shelly's life as a wife, mother, blogger, and teacher.
9. Bharani at One Side Paper. Extremely creative original sketches of animals doing yoga poses.
10. Joanne at In which We Start Anew. Gorgeous design and very welcoming.
11. Lynda at Lynda Grace An Hour Away. I found Lynda through the #AtoZBlog Challenge and very quickly came to love her writing and her style.

The nominations are freely given, with no strings attached. It is up to the individual blogger whether or not to accept and participate. I just wanted these eleven people to know I appreciate their blogs and their style. And, thanks again to Ida for including me in this very fun experience!

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