That’s my story…

by lulujane on January 10, 2011

I walked into our local Chapters/Indigo book store and paused for a moment. In doing so, I was aware of stillness.  It felt sacred, like I was in a church.  I observed the stillness and took time to enjoy this silent moment. I realized that a large bookstore or library  is a  space where the greatest assembly of artistic expression exists in one place.  Bearing their spines on multi-tiered display spaces or centre aisle showcases, thousands and thousands of books call to us. I think of the hours of preparation, research, hard work, sometimes years that can go into writing a single book.  Try multiplying that by the number of books on shelves or available on-line. Nowhere on this planet can anyone, regardless of financial wealth or social standing, stand in the centre of such a creative collection.

When an author shares words with another author, there must be an understanding between them, even if they don’t know each other, because of their shared experience.  Listening to some authors it sounds like it is a real effort to sit at their writing space and allow the flow of the words that hopefully, fill the page.  Some must twist themselves in knots or stand on their heads (I’m picturing visuals for these expressions) in painful yearning awaiting the burst of a few words nudging them forward on their page, while others admit that the words ‘just come through them’, as if they are receiving it from a source outside of themselves.

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I write on a very small, amateur scale and have no real concept of what it takes for someone to craft the writing of a book based on their knowledge, experience, education, imagination, humour, passion, research, frustration, commitment, creativity, etc.  I took a creative writing class a while back nudging me out of familiar comfort zones. I took our compassionate, well qualified and dedicated teacher’s instructions seriously.  Each week we had an assignment. In addition we were emailed copies of the writing assignments of every other student. We were to review the other students’ work with a view to offering only positive critique at our next class.

I took painstaking care with my writing, and the class helped me to explore deep emotional parts of myself to create results I was happy with.  The hard part was reviewing the other papers.  I read with enjoyment and sensitivity to the feelings of the writers when giving thought about how to positively critique some aspects of their papers.  They did the same with mine.  Doing this with such care took a lot of time.  I did not sign up for the next term because it was just too much work.  I worked a full time job and the one evening a week writing class turned into a full week of concentrated focus and stress for me.

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What I am trying to say is that when someone bares their soul to create a volume of work for public consumption,  a lot goes into it.  A sentence or a paragraph can be written, rewritten or moved many times before it flows with the rest of the narrative. Creating even a good short story would be a herculean task so I’m thinking that writers have guts, grit, determination, tenacity, courage, etc. to keep themselves on track, pushing through to the heart of the next paragraph, the next chapter – and then maybe onto the next book.

If one writes from memory or personal experience my sense is that the story can flow naturally, without having to resort to research except when memory needs refreshing. Mmmmm … better to write when young than when older… lots less to remember, and a shorter period of time to remember it for.

What is it about books?  Whenever I go to Costco I am drawn into the magnetic field of the book aisle where many titles of the same name are stacked deep and wide. I scan titles, run my hand over dust jackets as if by feeling the book I will be imbued with the flavour of what is inside. Oddly enough I hardly ever glance at cookbooks, salivate over cover photos, or touch their covers or pages.  Although great food prepared with love offer the diner a luscious experience, the language of recipes doesn’t evoke the feeling that I get from a good story or biography.  When I touch them I know there are lots of feeling characters, tumbling emotions, mystery, adventure tied up inside. I am told that this big box book department takes in a lot of dollars from those of us whose pulses race as we hurriedly push our shopping carts there, where lots of us just can’t resist the impulse shopping that the display demands.

And when I get my book home I don`t always read it, but I just had to have it. What is it about needing to have a book?  I have a lot of books on tables, in baskets, and shelves, in pretty well every room in my home. This includes a deep shelf  book unit in my cluttered  laundry room space. My favourite reading is a page turning story which can be a novel, biography or autobiography.  My attention span being what it is, the page turner quality helps me focus and stay with it.  And when I am into it, I devour it like a starving man would inhale his first next meal.  And then, hungry again, I start looking for the next good book.

If a book is hard to get into I leave my bookmark in place and search for another.  It is not uncommon to have five or six books on the go at the same time, none of which I am invested in fully.  And when it gets to be just too much and I feel scattered beyond description I close the covers on all of them and put them away, hoping to start back at square one, with just one book that calls my name.  And once I respond, it owns me.

I honour talented writers and their commitment to their work – for they give us much.  They entertain us, teach us, help us to find our way. For those who make it to the big time, whose work,  faces and names are recognized and applauded,  good for you.  And for those who have put their heart and soul into your work without reaping the glory of fame and financial reward, my wish is that you know that there is a public you have served well through the sharing of your gift.

In my home many exquisitely beautiful floral images seem always in my periphery, and even if I am not looking directly at them, giving them no immediate attention, I know that they have a positive effect on me.  Perhaps even if I don’t read all of the wonderful books I bring into my home, the creative energy expressed in, or that it took to create them, also has a positive effect on me.

That is my story, and I am sticking to it!

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I feel successful

by lulujane on January 10, 2011

I just got home from shopping.  I went out looking for two, well maybe three, specific items.

I came home empty handed and yet I am feeling successful.  Stuff is just stuff, and more stuff = even more stuff, most of which I didn’t really need. I went shopping on a whim today, thinking I would buy myself a new coat, vest, sleepshirt.  If I dig deep enough into my closets and cupboards I have no doubt there is something squeezed between, tucked under something else that might just do the trick.

Guess I’ll have to dig a bit deeper, not in cubbyholes, drawers or baskets, but inside me,  to see what motivates my need to shop; wondering if consumerism is fueled by lots of people just trying to fill up lots of private empty spaces.

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Weight watching

by lulujane on January 8, 2011

Mom Bball4x6smA few decades have passed since then, but I am probably within five pounds of what I weighed when I was eighteen years old.  I must be disappointingly honest about that though.  At the time I was physically active in a variety of sports and the pounds were measured in solid muscle.  That isn’t the case today.

Over the years I have belonged to almost every health club in our city for varying lengths of time and only recently decided to retire, not graduate from them. I have dieted and exercised but it wasn’t influenced by a passion for what I was doing.  The inner voices, the self talk could be persistent and thunderingly loud when I compared myself to others, prompting me to action.  I didn’t join a health club or deprive myself from things I liked because I wanted to, but because I was feeling told to by… by who … myself, media, society who measure these things.

I have watched other people around me doing the same thing. They torture themselves for long periods of time nibbling only on carrot sticks and celery for weeks and months to achieve a weight goal.  And when I see them six months, one year or two years later they are back to where they were in the first place.  So, while I have been enjoying myself with relaxed habits I am where I was then, but without the deprivation and the hard work.

In some instances my weight will surpass my norm and I don’t feel comfortable in my body or my clothes don’t fit. Usually it’s both. This is when I am reluctantly called to action and for a time I can do this.  I can be disciplined and focused and achieve results when I really want to.

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I observe women with slender frames and know how good it is when my body feels like theirs look, and maybe it is to justify my ambivalence but I believe that my body is comfortable at a certain weight and unless inhibited by a strict exercise and diet regime, it will find its way back to this as a balance point. Nutritionists, doctors and fitness gurus will likely argue this point, and the scale and BFI (body fat index) might squeal against me, but this is where my observations have brought me.  I have given my self critic the day off and decided to like myself exactly as I am at any given time.

When I connect with other people, i.e. family/friends, I don’t like them any less because they don’t fit the paramaters of a scale…. why should I love myself less if I don’t fit them either?

My enemy is boredom.  When I am by myself and bored I reach for something that will give me comfort.  I like salty stuff like potato chips and popcorn and I salivate when I think of these snacks.  And when I am bored and/or alone, one thing after another thing, after another thing will find its way into my mouth.  This is how and when my weight gain yummily creeps up on me. I keep a watchful eye on myself somewhat by eliminating ice cream, cookies, chips or other snacks as staple foods in my home.  If someone is coming to visit I sure hope they call ahead so I can rush to the store and pick up the goodies for them.

I’m laughing at myself now. I’m remembering that a couple of years ago I went to Overeaters Anonymous for a few weeks …. until I had my aha moment that weight control is determined by two things – food choices and portion size.  Duhh!

Now if there was a diet or nutritional advice for boredom – that would be a beautiful thing.

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It sticks

by lulujane on January 7, 2011

I’m looking out my window, deeply pleased as I watch a full sky of moist and fluffy snowflakes drift onto objects and the ground, to stick where they land.

Snow falls

I am a volunteer usher at some of our local Windsor Spitfires hockey games.  Over the course of each evening I see lots of new faces and am gaining more familiarity with some of the season ticket holders.  In past weeks I have enjoyed a couple of conversations with a friendly guy who, in our first conversation shared his good fortune at having ‘good neighbours’  in the area where his seat is reserved.  In our latest conversation he told me about the people he plays hockey with; he interjected his description with “nice guys, good people”.

Since this was a common thread in our conversations  it sounds like it is important for him to be surrounded by good people, as it is with me.  Even if they aren’t necessarily close friends, it is high on my priority list to be in the company of wholesome, positive people.  I came across a quote recently that indicated we should choose our company wisely; that we are the sum total of the five people we spend the most time with.

When we are in light hearted, loving energy that is shared with us – it sticks, like the damp snow.  And even if it is not our nature to be negative, or carry negative energy, I believe that if we are around those kinds of people often enough, or for long enough, that too will stick.  It is important to choose our companions wisely, to have gratitude for it, and to share the lightness within us, with others.

Snow sticks, positive energy sticks and unfortunately for us, yucky energy – well, it sticks too.

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Like is attracted to like

by lulujane on January 7, 2011

I was excited to meet my friend Nathalie for lunch today.  She had mentioned the Beanery Cafe in St. Clair Beach to me before, and today I got to experience it.

Nathalie is a dear friend and usually I just see her when I drop off articles for sewing projects/alteration or to pick them up at her house. Today I wanted to treat her to lunch for all the little extras she does for me.

Nathalie is much younger than I; she feels like a daughter to me.  She  is beautiful inside and out and is artistic and creative.  She is a professional, a stickler for presentation. I knew she would take care with how she looked today, and since I am most comfortable dressing casually, it made me assess what I would wear with a greater degree of care .

True to form she arrived at the cafe wearing a wide and welcoming smile that said she was happy to see me, sassy boots, black patterned stockings, a short soft purple dress with layered ruffles over her slender shape and a black coat that was the bow on the wrapping.  I was happy that I chose to wear my comfortable, warm, black leather pants with a grey wool jacket and a light gray knitted cape with a checkered red, white and black scarf; not as fashion chic as Nathalie, but o.k. for me.

My scarf

Behind me, halfway through our meal the person sitting there was getting ready to leave, unnoticed until she commented “I almost took your scarf”.  I didn’t know who she was talking to, but turned toward the sound of her voice and observed her standing with my scarf in her right hand and the other in her left.  They were identical.  Until today I had not seen anyone else wearing this scarf. She had grabbed mine from behind her and when she was putting on her coat noticed another scarf in her sleeve.

I found the situation interesting and funny.  Funny because I stood in my front hallway an hour before, trying to decide if I should wear the favored grey, black and white scarf I usually wear with my cape, or to change it up. I decided to change it up, and by doing so treated myself to a fun happening.

And interesting because of the synchronicity – something presented in a way that would be sure to capture my attention, or someone else’s?  As we joined our laughter I could see this caught us all in the element of surprise and wonder, giving my lunch guest goose bumps from the friendly encounter.

Am wondering now if I should have introduced myself to the mother of my twin scarf.

Post script:  Sometimes things speak to me in metaphor and it was only on waking up laughing the following morning when I ‘got it’.  As I navigate the sea of my life and contemplate relationships that fit for me, this event has reminded me that like is attracted to like, and that which I am seeking is also seeking me. Hallelujah!

My scarf

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it is just changeWhen I was very young, I knew how to count change. By that, I mean that if someone bought something for $2.31 and they gave me $5, without the aid of a calculator or cash register, paper or pen  telling me how much the change was, I could give someone the correct amount of change.  My sense is that this simple task is becoming a lost art.

Since computerized cash registers have calculated the amount of change , it has become common for a cashier to complete our transactions by just dumping a handful of change into our hand.  And me, like most other customers do not count, do not question; we just put it into our purse or pocket and off we go.

The same can be said for signing a Visa slip when charging a purchase.  The casher rings up or scans a number of items and has us sign the Visa chit, and we do so without first being shown the receipt to make sure we are authorizing the proper amount.  In fact, we don’t even get to see the cash register receipt before signing. Ditto for checking a restaurant receipt when dining out.  Many people look only at the amount of the tax to help them calculate an approximate 15% tip. In some stores an electronic screen is in view so we can watch items being recorded; other stores do not allow us this courtesy.

When and how did we become so casual in our relationships with money and cashiers?

I keep my cash register slips and compare them at month end to my debit and credit accounts.  A couple of times I thought there was an error and when I checked with Visa discovered that the merchant name from another city that I didn’t recognize was actually a vendor at a local arts and craft show.  When I saw one of my adult sons toss away a cash register receipt I wondered aloud if he checked them against his statements. He doesn’t and asked me “really mom, have you ever found a mistake?’. In his own way he was telling me that I worry too much and am wasting my time.  Admittedly, though I have been painstakingly executing this task for many years, errors have either been small and few or non-existent.  Does this mean I don’t have to do this anymore?

This all came to mind yesterday when unexpectedly a cashier actually counted the change into my hand – not going from the amount of the purchase to the amount given to her, but by verbally matching what she gave me with the amount on the cash register screen.  This is not a common practice. Usually I am told the amount of my change, or not, and then it is given to me.

I believe that if I were in almost any store in North America and the power went out, the cashier would have to decline the processing of my purchase because he or she would’t know how to give change.  I think that is sad.

I get annoyed with myself for being so blase’ about being given a handful of change and without even looking up, tucking it away without checking it and moving on to the next store to do the same.  However, I am heartened when an alert cashier tells me I have given them too much money.

Most of the time in these transactions I am dealing with  ‘small change’  and yet I continue to wonder when I hand over the cash or sign an authorization slip  if I am putting too much trust into machines and people I don’t even know.

Perhaps it’s all about the change darlin’ – it’s all about change.

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Lots of things going on in here…

by lulujane on December 4, 2010

As I say `Lots of thinking going on in here..` I am tapping on my right temple with the middle finger on my right hand, the finger next to the finger that wears my nice gold cameo ring.

Every morning I check my iGoogle home page for words of wisdom.  I already have lots of them, know lots of them, often writing down the ones that ring true for me.  And, on a moment`s notice in an appropriate situation I can conjure up and quote my favourites as if I am expert.

Today`s offering from iGoogle is `This one step – choosing a goal and staying to it – changes everything.` (Right now I am frustrated with my computer putting an apostrophe when I want a quote mark, and my wisdom is telling me to ignore it – that it doesn`t really matter. And in the grand scheme of things, I know it doesn`t matter, so on I go.)

Speaking of `this one step`… quite often for me, I know the wisdom in taking an important step, is in choosing to remain still, until I feel that the moment is right.  And that is MY bit of wisdom for this day – December 4, 2010. Maybe that is why I am choosing to ignore my present issue with the quote marks.

My bit of wisdom from yesterday, December 3, is that I don`t want to count birthdays anymore – henceforth, I shall be, and I am 55 years of age.  Even this is much older than I feel, but the double 5`s sound nice rolling off my tongue and they look pretty standing beside each other. I am thinking that each year adding a year to my age can make me feel older than I feel, older than I actually am in my mind, body and heart.  Stating my age to someone who doesn`t know me can also influence how others feel when they relate to something, or make a judgment about a number. So, no more getting out the calculator to deduct my birth year from the current year, to give me an increasingly larger result.  When my children`s ages start to overlap mine, then I might have to rethink this, but for now, 55 is a darned good thing.

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Happiness is ….

by lulujane on December 1, 2010

Greg Oct 10 (11)

I can remember a time when, driving to work one day, I felt  a sense of calm, peace that gave me joy.  It happened unbidden, and I took time to observe and savour it.  I wanted to hold onto it because of the feeling of well being that I was experiencing in the stillness of the moment.  It was just momentary, small in terms of my time clock, but the significance of it was large. It made me aware that for me, this was a unique feeling; the peacefulness and calm.

At some times in our lives we are busy – things to do, schedules to keep, other people to consider, trying to make other people happy, multiple responsibilities – that creates stress.  And carrying this feeling of stress becomes our norm.  For me, it was when I had this peaceful moment in time, that I realized how seldom I felt relaxed and at peace.

As the years have moved along, as my life has become less complicated, I have had many similar experiences which have been much more frequent and longer lasting.  Thankfully, this has become my norm.

During this past week a few things that were scheduled, vaporized from my calendar, leaving me with lots of uncommitted time on my hands.  This morning as I sipped my morning coffee, did my Sudoku puzzle, checked email and twitter, etc. I became aware of how happy I felt inside.  Not a ha ha type of happiness, but a sense of smiling without really smiling, glowing from the inside out.  Quite a few hours later this is still with me.

I realize that there are likely many people around who never experience this.

And I am grateful.

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Lighten Up

by lulujane on May 24, 2010

ask your heartxMany times during my lifetime I have attempted to sit still, quiet my bouncing energy inside, clear my mind, and meditate… without success.  My mind races.  My body yearns to move.  I felt that I failed at meditation, and saw this as a personal flaw, putting it down to impatience and lack of mind control.  I was self critical.

Bindings on some of my personal library books reveal writings of the Dalai Lama that I have not read.  I found the most recent one, entitled ‘An Open Heart’ easier to read.  Although I only read little bits at a time, I rejoiced yesterday when I discovered that there are two types of meditation in the Buddist practice.  “One, analytical meditation, is the means by which we familiarize ourselves with new ideas and mental attitudes. The other, settled meditation focuses the mind on a chosen object.”

Mine, is an analytical mind.  Problems or difficulties are examined – like holding a crystal ball in the palm of my hand, elevated where I can see it in the light, seeking to see what the light reveals.  Examining things from many perspectives, and always, always, striving to find a positive side of things.

My perspective is that meditation is a practice to help us understand things at a deeper level, be it compassion, anger, forgiveness, etc., or a problem that I, a friend or family member might be wrestling with.  I don’t have to do that while I am sitting still. Now that I have a name for my type of meditation, analytical, I see my type of self examination, problem solving, or searching for understanding as quite adequate.  More than adequate really.  I am quite good at this, as I respond to the nudges and promptings of my higher self in conversation and contemplation.

My energy percolates and resists the sitting still.  I can force myself to sit still, but it is not a natural state for me.  My sign off in emails is often ‘keep smiling and keep moving’.

So, as I let go of self-judgment and criticism around my personal problem solving techniques, which I now understand to be my style of meditation, the lesson in this for me today is self-acceptance.

Thanks to the Dalai Lama I feel lighter, in more ways than one.

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Horse Riding Event

by lulujane on November 19, 2009

It’s amazing how many photos I’ve taken in the past few years.  Some days the variety of subject matter surprises even me.  I had occasion recently to contact an area trail riding association to get the name of a woman in one of my favourite photographs.  In September of 2007 I attended a trail riding event on South Talbot Road on the outskirts of Windsor, Ontario, and took many action shots that day, mostly showing riders competing in barrel racing.

I managed to connect with Geri Hilton by email and received her consent to use the photo in a contest I was entering.

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When looking for this photo of Geri I rediscovered the horse riding event photos and decided to post them for viewing.

http://picasaweb.google.com/linda.bluepeony/HorseRidingEventSeptember2007#

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