Wednesday, January 30, 2013

The unbearable lightness of being ...

… sick. You know - those "low gravity" days of reduced mental acuity and a general moving-through-molasses feeling.  

However, if is much easier to be sick when retired. I could just sleep and read (which resembles some of my non-sick days this month – except that there is a lot of coughing.) There isn’t the stress of all the things not getting done at work - or fear of what might be getting decided in your absence. And while there has been a bit of a lag in the to-do list, it’s nothing like going back to work and facing the accumulation.

Also, we had rain (perfect for burrowing in). And it has been great for the weight-loss regime. I mean, what flavor profile (I learned that on Top Chef – along with amuse-bouche) goes with the lingering essence of mentholated throat lozenges.

The unwellness probably wouldn’t have gotten as bad as it did if I hadn’t hiked and then gone horseback riding in the developing days. But a girl’s gotta live. Besides – “I’m not really sick”. Right. Anyway, I’m almost better now and feel like I’m coming out of quarantine.  I’ve developed a serious Ricola habit however.

P.S. and FYI: The Unbearable Lightness of Being. Daniel Day Lewis - back when he was playing sexy guys rather than Lincoln.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Fame Whore

I’m excited. Almost giddy. I’d been thinking how it would be nice to make a little money to pad my travel/entertainment budget - keep those road trips funded and gas in my truck for hike and horseback riding excursions. Musing about that in a conversation, an opportunity to provide some facilitation assistance arose. At the mention of the possibility, my slumbering professional alter ego lifted her head, sat bolt upright and started asking questions (the facilitator’s stock and trade). I’m surprised at what an energy booster this is. And I didn’t have to do two things I had become so weary of: promoting my self/agency and competing for work.
I’ve had other possibilities in the last several months, all of which seemed a bit much – too involved – or just too soon. But this is easy, fun facilitation - no insane timeline, high conflict, complicated funding arrangements or essential parties who don’t want to participate - just some straight-forward planning and decision-making with a group of people who already work together.
I’m back among the grownups. Sorta.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Bi-curious. Seeking ...

… happiness or meaning?

You haven’t heard from me in a bit because I have been contemplating this question. Spurred by what was going on in my head and then a post by a friend linked to this article: There’s More to Life Than Being Happy. Really?  Apparently, per the article, the pursuit of happiness is about being a "taker" rather than a "giver."

The article referenced recent studies and the bestselling 1946 book by Viktor Frankl (of which I had never heard) Man’s Search for Meaning. (I mention the topic and article to a friend at dinner. “Oh yah, that book by Frankl. It’s really good. You’d enjoy it.” Sometimes I feel so ill-read.) Anyway, the point of the article is that happiness without meaning  results in a “relatively shallow, self-absorbed or even selfish life, in which things go well, needs and desire are easily satisfied, and difficult or taxing entanglements are avoided.” And the problem is? Oh. The problem is that “the single-minded pursuit of happiness is ironically leaving people less happy, according to recent research.  ‘It is the very pursuit of happiness,’ Frankl knew, ‘that thwarts happiness.’"  Hmmmm.  Maybe they mean materialism. But that’s not what they said. However, one study author said “Happy people get a lot of joy from receiving benefits from others while people leading meaningful lives get a lot of joy from giving to others".  Really? (again)

I don't doubt the research that shows that “having purpose and meaning in life increases overall well-being and life satisfaction, improves mental and physical health, enhances resiliency, enhances self-esteem, and decreases the chances of depression.”

But it’s not one or the other. That’s simplistic and superficial. What about a bit more nuanced look at what happiness and meaning really entail. What about a balance of happiness and meaning.  Maybe that was the point and I missed it.

Or maybe I am just being a teensy bit defensive in that I have unapologetically been pursuing happiness since I retired (doing what I want to do and not doing much of what I don’t want to do. To wit:  a self-absorbed life, in which things go well, needs and desire are easily satisfied, and difficult or taxing entanglements are avoided.) And my overall well-being, et. al. have never been better, thank you.

Admittedly, I’ve been wondering whether I have paid my dues as a change-agent, since I spent a good deal of my work life pushing against convention for positive change. Could I just kick back, leave that to others now, and just be happy? (Uh-oh. Now I hear the plaintive mewing of my conscience.)

When I’m done with this rest-in-the-lap-of-happiness (there’s my conscience again saying “surely you will be done at some point”) I will be in a much better position to realize the balance that is happiness and meaning. But still:

“If the world were merely seductive, that would be easy. If it were merely challenging, that would be no problem. But I arise in the morning torn between a desire to improve the world, and a desire to enjoy the world. This makes it hard to plan the day.” E.B. White

See. I’m not the only one who is bi-curious. Seeking…

Sunday, January 6, 2013

What (Not) to Wear

Have you ever been to Home Depot early in the morning and seen people in what must be pajama bottoms?  I mean, who has drawstring flannel pants with cartoon characters on them for actual pants. Or things on their feet that are just too fluffy to be real shoes? I’m starting to understand that now. Especially in these Nothing Doin’ days (see recent post). Without anything specific to dress for, it is easy to slide out of bed, make coffee and just go about the day. It’s easy to look down at 1p.m. and realize: hmmmm, I’m still wearing what I slept in. And think: Should I care? Hasn’t happened in public though, except for this: more than once I have gotten dressed for the day in yoga pants and much later slid into bed in same said pants after staying up too late with Chelsea Handler or Jimmy Fallon. Next morning, slide out of bed and to my 9 a.m. Pilates class still wearing the pants. And then keep them on the rest of the day. I try to avoid repetitive cycles.

This is all kind of weird because I used to be a bit of a style maven.  I’ve always seen fashion as fun and what I wear as creative expression. My bachelor’s degree is in Textiles and Clothing/Fashion Merchandising. (How I got from that to lawyering then mediating is another story. Suffice it to say that fashion merchandising was easy for me and I wanted to get out of college after changing my major three times).  So in contrast to the pajama-like attire for a no-plan day, when I do get out, I’m wearing things I haven’t worn in a while – 1950’s suit jacket, over-the-knee black leather boots, flamboyant do-dads buried in the jewelry box.  So much more fun than the professional drag necessary in the work world.

Anyway, gotta go now. Weekly walk with a couple friends. Yep. I’m wearing yoga pants. Not telling how long I’ve had them on.


Not me:

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Nothing Doin’

I’m starting to get ideas about some things I’d like to do – get past Spanish 101 for example; take a non-fiction creative writing class (please do, you say). Yet, I still don’t feel like actually doing them - or even really committing to doing them. With no job to go back to it is easy to get stuck between the holidays and getting back to it; between the old year and the new; the end of work and the beginning of doing.  I’m still in that “in-between”. Too enamored of just being … of attending to the basics. Nothing propelling me along. Just drifting (contentedly) from one mundane thing to the next - laundry, puttering, reading, walking, writing.  Wondering. What will happen now that I’m well off shore and land is not yet in sight.

“Forget safety.
Live where you fear to live...” 

I’m putting my compass aside. Navigating by the stars now.