Sunday, April 11, 2010

Memento – What to Keep?

Pronunciation: \mə-ˈmen-(ˌ)tō, ÷mō-\
Function: noun
Inflected Form(s): plural me•men•tos or me•men•toes
Etymology: Middle English, from Latin, remember, imperative of meminisse to remember; akin to Latin ment-, mens mind
Date: 1580
: something that serves to warn or remind

This year has brought much change. Part of the change lies in literally sorting out the past – boxes of it. What causes some of us to hold on to things and others to seem to have no need to surround themselves with the little oddities the rest of us collect? Usually, you can easily tell by looking at someone’s refrigerator. No magnets, notices, notes, or artwork? Or a collection of the important and mundane.

What do I do with someone else’s mementos? My mother kept six or seven pairs of my childhood shoes. Red leather sandals and stiff white high tops along with tiny little Mary-Jane’s and beaded moccasins. Envelopes with snippets of my once sun yellow blond hair. And why do we keep teeth? I have my children’s baby teeth and now I am faced with a jar of my own. There are pictures of unknown people and broken costume jewelry carefully wrapped in Kleenex.

There were notes written inside lid of my mother’s makeup box. “You Know Something” in my father’s hand. Small code words meaning “I love you.” Cards she had given to him signed "You Know Who" - cards that were obviously left behind.

What will my own children find when the time comes? Small onesies that they wore when infants and baby books with hair clippings taped in the back. A teddy bear, a black bat doll, a stethascope, a candle shade imprinted with the sererenity prayer. Rubber stamps and half-finished quilts along with boxes of books. Finely crochetted doilies from my grandmother, pictures of my mother along with drumsticks and artwork from my father. Baskets and boxes and glass bowls. Will they be able to identify the jewelry that reminds me of love vs. the jewelry that speaks of fashion? Will they understand the code words they find written on notes or in letters?

I am sorting through the past in order to move with the rhythm of the present.

What Worked For Me Today
Throwing away the things that can not be fixed and have no emotional or financial value. Washing and mending the things that can.

Current Books on My Bed
"The Epidemic - a Global History of Aids" by Jonathan Engel
"A Kiss of Shadows" - by Laurell K. Hamilton
"Soduko" - presented by Will Shortz

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Alembic - Tired - So My Perspective May Be Off

Pronunciation: \ə-ˈlem-bik\
Function: noun
Etymology: Middle English, from Middle French & Medieval Latin; Middle French alambic & Medieval Latin alembicum, from Arabic al-anbīq, from al the + anbīq still, from Late Greek ambik-, ambix alembic, from Greek, cap of a still
Date: 14th century
1 : an apparatus used in distillation
2 : something that refines or transmutes as if by distillation

There are many aspects of perception. Obviously there are our senses. It would seem that those would be objective and consistent between people. However, all you have to do is ask ten people if they like brussel sprouts. Conceivably they have the same flavor, but the perception of taste is different. Ask a detective about witness interviews. Each person’s view will be different.

Our perception is also colored by our own past experiences and our current state of mind. Judgments I might make when I am well rested, full, content and free of stress could very well be different after a sleepless night, a headache, or with deadlines pressing.

The moon in the sky on a drive into work is the same moon I saw a few weeks ago. Granted, today it is a cresent shaped and before it was full. Today however it triggered a memory and my emotional reaction was of sadness rather than peace.

It gives me pause. What is the person in the car in front of me experiencing when they go “too slow.” What is their past experience? What about the colleague at work or the child? Are they tired? Are they happy?

If I am to “take at easy” on myself – give myself time to grieve – how do I balance that with the expectations of my job or my friends or my family or my volunteer work? How do I balance other people’s need to feel with my expectations and need for their performance?

What Worked For Me Today
Recognizing I Need Rest and I Need to Say No

Great Book that David’s sponsor shared with both of us is “12 Steps for a Recovering Pharisee.” It’s written from a Christian faith perspective and uses the words “sin, prayer, God” a great deal.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Disparate - Out of Sorts

Pronunciation: \ˈdis-p(ə-)rət, di-ˈsper-ət, -ˈspa-rət\
Function: adjective
Etymology: Middle English desparat, from Latin disparatus, past participle of disparare to separate, from dis- + parare to prepare — more at PARE
Date: 15th century
1 : containing or made up of fundamentally different and often incongruous elements
2 : markedly distinct in quality or character

For as long as I can remember in my adult life, I have had several internal battles between opposing desires and/or opposing characteristics. This can, and often, not only confuses me, but the people in my life. I am never sure how to strike the balance or find the symmetry between the two.

I am by all accounts, my own and others, a strong individual. I like being perceived as someone who can handle things in a crisis – a person who can solve problems – champion causes. I don’t go so far as to “tilt at windmills,” but I don’t have a problem taking a stand. That is, of course, in almost every area except personal relationships. Here I shrink from conflict. My old mantra of “peace at any cost” paralyzed me emotionally. The challenge is to learn to speak truth – with strength and clarity for myself – and with compassion and understanding for others.

That leads to my other see saw of desires. On one had I want to be appreciated for my strength, my assistance, my insight (go ahead and snicker at the old wise woman). Yet, I want someone to take care of me. Not someone to rescue me, but to listen. Not to be told everything will be ok, but to acknowledge the pain and allow the tears. It sounds so simple, but is difficult to find, and so very difficult to hold on to.

What Worked For Me Today
Facing a Fear and Tillamook Mudslide Ice Cream

Another way to shut the brain off is to read. When reading seems too much work, try downloading free audio books from the library. The Chemeketa Cooperative Regional Library has books that will play on your IPod or MP3 player. (They have also added an Adobe Book Reader option for some titles.) Both require you to download the player (Adobe for print and Overdrive Media for audio). The books will “disappear” from your computer in 7 days. However, if you transfer the audio files to your IPod or MP3 player you can have them forever. All you need is a current library card and an email address.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Cudgel - Today's Right Thing

Function: transitive verb
Inflected Form(s): cudgeled or cudgelled; cudgel•ing or cudgel•ling\ˈkəj-liŋ, ˈkə-jə-\
Date: 1596
: to beat with or as if with a cudgel
— cudgel one's brains : to think hard (as for a solution to a problem)

I have been waking with a headache nearly every morning for the past two weeks. The glass of wine, the lack of sleep, not drinking enough water or perhaps allergies I have never had, have been the reasons I have chosen. Though they all may contribute, it is more likely simply that my body is shouting, “help!”

There are dreams to contend with. Last night they were tapes replaying emotional events from the past. There are issues to face in the daylight as well.

In Al anon, as in every twelve-step program, there are slogans that seem overly simple. However, there is wisdom and experience behind every one. The two that I cling to this week are “Do the next right thing,” and “Leave the results to your higher power.” I don’t necessarily want to do the first and I have a very hard time practicing the second.

Today, (One day at a time) the next right thing is flip my mattress, do the laundry, and let myself have fun with the children that are coming over to dye Easter eggs. Monday’s “right thing” will be different, but I don’t have to think about that today. Time to give the brain a rest.

What Worked for Me Today
Reading Al anon Daily Readers and Excedrin

There are 12 step programs for everything. First step is the hardest “I am powerless over (insert noun) and my life has become unmanageable.”

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Languor - What Would Eeyore Do?

Pronunciation: \ˈlaŋ-gər also -ər\
Function: noun
Etymology: Middle English, from Anglo-French langur, from Latin languor, from languēre
Date: 14th century
1 : weakness or weariness of body or mind
2 : listless indolence or inertia

In Twelve Step programs, the definition of insanity is “doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.” In looking for changes within systems and policies, I sought input, counsel, and attempted to frame the discussion in positive terms. However, communication is a tricky thing. Truth is not as popular as one might think.

A couple of old character flaws raise their heads at these times. I feel defeated and insecure. I have taken a risk and fear is mocking me. I don’t believe I will be understood and my intentions will be questioned. I hear the committee in my head shouting, “You will fail!” “People will be angry!” “The battle is not worth the risk!”

Yet I can laugh, using a “hack” suggested by Ron Hale-Evans in “Mind Performance Hacks.” He suggests looking at a problem from a variety of perspectives. Sounds trite. However, his method has you ask, “What would Bugs Bunny do?” “What would Scarlett O’Hara do?” “What would Lucille Ball do?” “What would Gandalf do?” “What would your mother do?” You can insert any character, hero, or inspiration you wish, just work out the scenario with the characteristics of your chosen person.

I’m leaning toward “What would Eeyore do?” I face uncertain outcomes tomorrow. I may have done an “insane” thing in trying to improve the monolith that is my workplace. Or, perhaps, just maybe, I am rehearsing a future that won’t occur.

What Worked For Me Today
A gracious, laughter-filled night of discussion, sharing, though provoking ideas and sense of being loved and cared for by two incredible women.

Eeyore: Donkey character from Winnie the Pooh books by English author A. A. Milne
Eeyore quotes:

“This writing business. Pencils and what-not. Over-rated, if you ask me. Silly stuff. Nothing in it.”

"It's snowing still," said Eeyore gloomily.
"So it is."
"And freezing."
"Is it?"
"Yes," said Eeyore. "However," he said, brightening up a little, "we haven't had an earthquake lately."

“No Give and Take. No Exchange of Thought. It gets you nowhere, particularly if the other person's tail is only just in sight for the second half of the conversation.”