still and restful after package chaos
i was going to do a different blog than this one; a zen-do-da blog (see link for more on zen-do-da if you don’t know what that is)
i was all set to be blissful and encouraging and uplifting. i’ve read The Secret, you know, and other books like that. i DO believe that we have the option and power to make our lives what we want. sort of. i mean, i believe that changing our thoughts for the better equals finding and receiving better things. but this blog went south on me…sort of literally.
so i’m in the bathroom (hey we all poop, there’s a book about it)
and i’m reading one of these happy books, telling me that i’m in control. usually in these situations (moments of … reclining in the restroom) i’m working a Sudoku puzzle. i know, i know, TMI. whatever. but i’m out of puzzles for this purpose, so i’m reading this feel good book and making notes with my little red pen. and i’m all “la la la, life is good” when i drop my pen down the toilet. for real??
and i’m wondering to myself: how does an artist or writer apply the ideas and beliefs of the Secret to his life? and i’m hoping any of you followers out there will join in on this as a discussion. because The Secret poses a dilemma for those of us in the art industry.
if i were a professional bowler, or a mail delivery agent, or a worker in any one of a million different fields, i could see how The Secret thinking could improve my life and my productivity. but for those of us who are writers and artists, how do we make this work?
if you haven’t read The Secret, i highly recommend you do. otherwise you will have no idea what i’m talking about here, and that’s no fun at all. basically the premise is that what you think is what you get. if you put out a bunch of negative thoughts and energy, that’s what you are bringing right back to you. if, on the other hand, you are putting out love, and happiness, and good thoughts, you will be getting back same.
ok, you may or may not agree with all that. that we will save for another blog.
this blog wants discussion.
if i’m a writer, i can’t just sit and write about a girl picking daisies all day. boring. then she goes and walks along the beach, and finds a million dollars in a packet of 10’s and 20’s, non sequentially numbered and wrapped in a pink bow, so she doesn’t even have to claim taxes if she doesn’t want. and along came mr. right, you get the picture. i can’t do this. as an artist, i CAN’T sit and look at the beautiful all day long, because that isn’t where all the heart tearing emotions lie.
the heart tearing emotions, the things that MOVE us are in the dark! they are lying in a gutter, homeless and underfed. they are sitting at the table with a morning cup of coffee, crying over their mashed up marriage or their dying soul. they are tying themselves up in sheets at night from tossing and turning over their nightmares. THIS is where the interest is for a writer, or painter, or a poet. the angst. the pain. the agonizing loneliness of life.
because we all feel it at times, and tapping into that commonality is magical, and links us all together till we are one spool of thread.
so all you blogging authors and feely artists out there, how do we make The Secret work for us, without losing the inspiration that grief and sorrow provide?
I can’t believe it’s been a whole week since my life-changing day of MAD Monday.
I’ve been doing a recurring blog that I think has made a huge impact in my life, and I wanted to share just in case – you know – it’s a magical formula for world peace or something. Of course, if it is I probably should have Trade Marked it and bottled it for maximum financial rewards…ah well. I must be a philanthropist at heart.
Every Monday on my blog “Luv Lansing” (that’s where I live, Lansing) I do a feature called “MAD Monday”. This stands for Make A Difference Monday. There is a Make A Difference Day, and I just decided, hell…Mondays kind of tend to suck, so why I’m I waiting all year to Make A Difference when I could just waste a little lousy Monday time making a difference.
And then, lousy Monday started making a difference on me. In my Make A Difference Monday blogs, I tend to post approximately four different volunteer opportunities for people in my area to get involved with. Usually I find out about these on Volunteer Match. These might be things like volunteer as a sign up reception person at the Red Cross, or help out at the YMCA. And then I post a little information about the group, a picture or two, link to them so people can go right to the source, or direct them through Volunteer Match so they can check out MORE opportunities if they like.
Well here’s the thing: I’ve always wanted to do this kind of thing. Volunteer here or there; donate monies to worthy organizations; travel the world working with doctors in underdeveloped countries or helping to save the dolphins. Or some other far reaching idea that is equal to raising unicorns on a sandy beach or having a barn full of dragons. You know? Because I am a civil worker, and live on a very meager income at this point in my life. And I live FINE, but it’s not like I’m able to contribute to all these groups I would like to contribute to, or pick up and go to Africa for a month to help re-establish the dwindling cheetah community.
So I’ve sort of been putting off contributing…until I had all the extra millions I will make from being a smart ass, once the world decides it really should financially support those of us who are caustic, wry and smart assy. I’ve been wanting to donate, but I guess waiting for … extra.
And doing this weekly article about volunteering has suddenly made the leap in my brain. Even if I can’t volunteer myself today, I can help someone else volunteer. Someone who maybe doesn’t have to go to work, because they have a sugar daddy, or they are retired, or they just have oodles of cash they found in their previous job as a pillaging pirate. And now, every week, I look forward to that crappy Monday morning, because I know I’m going to get this buzz from the blog. And it’s OK that I’m saying this all wrong, and not magically, so that you think “Oh My God, this is the most awesome thing ever, and I will do this in MY community!” Because I’m a little crazy right now, cause I’ve just done the MAD Monday blog, and it makes me a little hyper, and excited about life, or it makes me sit and cry all day, like last week. And luckily for me, it builds my karma points, so that I can go to work the rest of the week and deplete all those karma points and still come out OK in the end, cause my MAD Monday gave me so many extra.
Weeee…see? It’s good for you!
Go here to see my blog, and maybe you’ll do one in your own city?? MAD Monday rocks!
Thus far, August is proving to be a rather drippy month here in the middle of Michigan. Which reminds me of that old Camp Granada song, and the promise that fun will be had once the weather clears up. And once they find that boy that’s gone missing.
Which is sort of how my experience of summer camp always went. My older sister – who has yet to realize that she has been living a somewhat charmed life – always loved summer camp. Looked forward to it every year. She would come home with these awesome stories about camp life that would send even the most flat-footed city kid into wilderness withdrawal. To hear her describe it, the summer camp she went to was about two yards away from the kingdom of heaven, and since they sold frosty cans of Mountain Dew in the snack shop she wasn’t that far off.
My sister has always been a popular and persuasive girl. While I was sort of an offbeat, spastic loner, Angie was all smiles, giggles, and unprecedented social savvy. She could befriend anyone immediately, despite the ginormous owl glasses she wore. And that shouldn’t be held against her, because giant, hubcap sized glasses were all the rage when we were junior high types. So despite her legally blind status, she had all the right pieces to play with: cool magnifying eyeballs, Farrah Fawcett feathered hair, and boobs the size of Texas. So she was POPular.
One year while she was enjoying the gloriousness of camp life, my sister and her BFF got a care package in the mail. Since kids were there for a whole week, and most parents rejoiced in the send off but missed their offspring just the same, there was a big “mail room” time every day. Kids sat around Indian style while a camp person shouted out names read from envelopes with hearts and stickers all over them. These letters came from moms and dads, grannies and aunties, and also girlfriends back home who wanted to make sure you weren’t making out with NEW girlfriends. Lots of kids got care packages as well, full of candy bars, snack foods, clean socks maybe. This particular year Angie and her friend got a package that had both of their names on the front. Sort of.
This package was labeled “Squeakers and Peekers”, and addressed to the camp site. The ’emcee’ had a good time with this, I’m sure, however I wasn’t there so can only imagine him calling out these names in a quizzical and humored type of voice. And giggling ensued, I’m sure. Angie and her friend went to retrieve the package, and the emcee asked about these nicknames. Well of course, my sister was Peekers, because of her giant plastic glasses. And once the emcee picked on the two girls for a bit, “Squeakers” started laughing, and the teeny tiny high-pitched giggle answered that question as well. So the rest of the week all the campers – and counselors as well – called out to them as they walked around, “Hey Squeakers! Hey Peekers!”. Instant fame and popularity, just from a package in the mail. Of course, the fact that they were both cute as hell and silly as loons didn’t hurt either.
Her other stories were just as charming and exciting; tales of stringing their counselor’s bra to the top of the flag pole, swimming for hours in little bikinis by the pool, and night time singing sessions by the big fire. Camp sounded so amazing when she talked about it. I was confused about how she always managed to get to camp, since we always checked the “poor as church mice” section of the Census. In fact, our official family motto was, “Money doesn’t grow on trees; that’s why we have this here metal detector”.
Luckily for us the church we were mouses at had nifty things like a used clothing box, and apparently a summer camp tuition account. Or maybe that’s just what my sister told me. Of course she lied to me all the time, but I actually went to summer camp a couple of times myself, so I tended to trust her on this one. Which was my big mistake.
Summer camp was in the mountains of California, which is where I grew up. I can only imagine you thinking I’ve lived in Michigan all my life, and claim to have been poor while I flew to sunny California every year for summer camp. Not so. I grew up in Southern California, in the funky part of Long Beach, and by funky I mean run down, bars on your windows, take you garden hose in at night or it will disappear kind of funky. We didn’t have a college fund set aside for anyone, or a retirement plan in the making. We were more of a “pork and beans three days a week” kind of family. But since the powers that be had smiled on us, summer camp became a reality for me as well.
And it all started off well. I experienced the fun story telling, song singing experience in the bus that Angie told me about. I spent hours riding along other stinky junior high kids, playing 21 questions, or slug bug, or whatever other travel games you play on the road. And I experienced the majestic and magical McDonald’s stop before we hit camp. Living in Long Beach in the seventies and eighties, I had no idea there were these things called MOUNTAINS close by. At that time Long Beach was under a constant layer of smog, which I innocently thought was nice beach side cloud cover. Once we were far enough along in our travels, we hit the famed McDonald’s stop and I knew what Angie was talking about. All the hype was real! Beautiful mountains on the horizon, that I could actually see with my eyeballs! French fries made of magical ingredients. Rowdy kids running loose in a confined environment. I couldn’t wait to get to camp!!
Of course, my sister’s life was vastly different than my own, and I didn’t take that into account. While her experience was all summer fun, popularity and joyful singing to the Lord, mine was more like, I don’t know, a bad episode of the Three Stooges. My “best friend” didn’t run around and giggle with me, like Peekers and Squeakers did. She actually abandoned me right about an hour after we got there and went to find herself a new boyfriend and some “cool” people to hang out with. But that’s OK, because I liked solitude. And all the time alone gave me a chance to reflect on nature. Except that I was allergic to all this nature, and spent the better part of the night hours trying to find a way to breathe that didn’t involve my runny nose. But since I had asthma as well, and the trees were agitating my asthma, breathing was just right out.
And the next day, when we all were “supposed” to play kickball, they didn’t seem to want to let me off because of my asthma. It’s like the counselors I had were the Fun Police, and no kid was allowed to avoid fun for any reason. Even asthma. So I told them I was pigeon toed, and tried to explain the logic of NOT playing kick ball when you have this malady. Soon I was running the bases eating lots of dirt and wondering how Angie had so many great stories. But she had good stories about the pool, so I could always try that.
And I did. Only to see some guy hyperventilating after a swimming competition, and I didn’t have anything as fancy or expensive as an asthma inhaler, so swimming suddenly seemed less fun and more stressful. Maybe I could try the hiking part of the fun. Or did that involve twisting your ankles? Because no matter how short or long the distance, I would twist my ankles. I loved to run, but had these inexplicably weak and wobbly ankles that made me a no-go for soccer, track or – look at that – hiking! And running someone’s bra up the flag pole didn’t happen in my cabin, though I thought about giving it a try. When I thought of the bras in the area, it made me look in my own suitcase which, to my dismay, was packed with way fewer panties than I had thought. Which made me think of taking a shower, except that someone had barfed in the shower the other day, and since the plumbing was pretty slow and horrible, the barf just lay on top of the five inches of water climbing closer toward your knee caps, so wearing dirty underwear seemed somehow justifiable.
I went through the list of awesome stories my sister had told me about camp, wracking my brain for an activity that might work for me. And finally, by the end of the week, I had found my thing. Foosball! in the rec room of the snack shop. Here I could consume sugary, carbonated beverages, bump up next to other un-showered children, and play air hockey, table tennis, or the wondrous game of non-ankle-twisting soccer-with-plastic-people all day long if I wanted. And I wanted. Because I needed to have something about summer camp that was my own fun memory, even if it involved air conditioning, junk food and indoor allergens.
Ahhh…nothing quite like summer.
It gives me some small comfort that pretty much everyone I know is on drugs. Prescribed medications, of course. Mostly. I even joke that we should have someone at the door where I work, standing to the side like a WalMart greeter. I envision them holding a platter with colorful pills of blue, yellow, pink and green, offering whichever flavor the incoming customer prefers. It would just make everything so much easier if EVERYONE were on medication.
That said, when did we all become so stressed out? Mental illness has been around for eons and ages. People have been axe-murdering each other since forever ago. But I have to wonder if it wasn’t television that gave us all the big boot into modern day neurosis.
From what I’ve read and in my own non-professional understanding, back before World War II we didn’t all realize that the guy next door could potentially be a serial killer. We were all sort of content to smile at one another and believe the best in our neighbors. Once war images started being televised, society realized that there was some ugly stuff going on in the world. Not that we were really oblivious to the dark side of life, but maybe not aware of its reality on such a large, worldwide scale.
Nowadays it seems everyone is on something just to handle the craziness of everyday life, and social media isn’t making it any easier to maintain one’s sanity. Seems like any stupid thing you do might be subject to millions of viewers on YouTube if you happen to be in the vicinity of someone with a cell phone, which – let’s face it – is pretty much everyone. And the constant play by play of a life can wreak havoc on the mental condition of anyone.
My advice in a crazy mushed up world? Think about what you WANT, and remember what you’ve already DONE.
* Think of the best case scenario for the day and hold that image in your mind. Yesterday, for example, I was feeling punky, and I imagined myself out on a lake, just floatin’ on a boat. Improved my mood immediately! Did I get to go out on the lake? No. But seeing myself there made my body relax and set my mind at ease, so that I was better able to deal with what was right in front of me.
There are waayyyy too many of these kind of lists: “I should have”; “I ought to”; “I didn’t”. We all beat ourselves up over the littlest of things, because there are always so very many things to be doing.
* Keep a journal (I use an old unwanted book someone was tossing out, and use colorful Sharpie markers to write all this down) for your new lists. In one column or page write the things you’d like to accomplish for the day: Grocery Shopping, Pick up Dry Cleaning, Wash the Car, etc. In the other column or page, write down what you actually accomplish that day. Include little things like: Treated myself to lunch on the river. Took the dog for a long walk. Finished that short story I’ve been putting off. Washed some dishes. Took a long bath.
We tend to berate ourselves for things we DON’T accomplish instead of praising ourselves for the many things we do without thinking about it. Try to remember and include all the awesome things you took care of today.
Will this increase your performance and efficiency? I don’t care! The fact is, being nice to yourself will probably give you a longer life expectancy than beating yourself up over a less than perfectly organized house.
Just my thoughts on how to be Accidentally Happy with just a little effort.
today i read a good – but difficult – book. and i cried. and cried more. and wondered why the world is the way it is. why life is like this. why do we have to have death and loss, sorrow and anguish? but even while wondering this, i knew that i wouldn’t trade my sorrows. all of my hurts and pains have made me stronger, or more compassionate, more diligent, or more wise. all of my losses have made me grateful for what i do have, and hopeful that i can appreciate the beauty in life while it is in front of me, instead of worrying about what MIGHT happen, or focusing on the hardships.
and hopefully, as i focus more on the good than the bad, more of the good will come to me, and remind me of the wonder of life, in all its challenges.
still, i wish i could write some decent poetry when i’m NOT depressed
I’m in love with architecture. Quirky buildings with peeling paint. Light fixtures that look like they belong in another era. Ancient doors with crooked hinges. There’s something delicious about buildings…I imagine who might have lived there, and which of them might still be there in ghost form.
I long to see these ghostly beings walking the halls and have a mini conversation with them about their day, their neighborhood then. I wish I could travel through time and see some of these old buildings in their hey day.
But they are just as beautiful to me now that they are crumbly and old.
i don’t know what is going on with wordpress, but apparently i can only upload one image right now. so here it is…
i love the way everything is at odds with each other, and yet best friends as well. the sky looks cold and frigid (29 degrees yesterday when i took this) and yet pockets of light here and there make the sky seem hopeful, and like it is considering whether to allow the sun to show through.
the tree is practically barren; shedding all its leaves over the last few weeks has made it feel rather lonely. and yet, the sassy, polka dot texture of the bark is almost giving a finger to winter, saying “i don’t care if it’s mind blowingly cold…i’m going to be cute anyway!”