Category Archives: joy

Feels Like Home

I finally get that Bonnie Raitt song. Because this morning I woke up feeling changed.

Last night, I attended an evening of faith discussion (the topic was actually faith and wellness), and the keynote was Krista Tippett, host and producer/creator of the program On Being. I had listened to her from time to time, but was never a regular. I think that has now changed. She gave me a lot to think about.

In this world which feels so troubled, and which has made me feel so troubled, she provides an anchor to keep my boat from drifting. An island in a sea of troubles, as it were. It’s hard to explain how her words touched me, but I was scribbling things down like mad.

When she talks about faith, it’s not like some talk about faith. It’s not trying to force things down your throat for you own good (or someone else’s). It’s not in-your-face faith. It’s quiet and earnest and kind. It’s opening your hand and seeing a lovely flower blossom inside. It’s opening a box to find the swirling universe of stars. It’s beauty. It’s hospitality. It’s peace.

It’s home.

Over the years, I church shopped. I was never sure what I was looking for, exactly. I only know I hadn’t found it. I’d been to Trinity Cathedral a few times here and there, but it was never quite the place. Until now. When Ed got recruited for the choir, I became a Sunday regular. I’d always hesitated and held back from weekly church. I felt like I didn’t really need another commitment, another pull on my time. Yet despite church now filling in a spot of my weekend, it feels more like nestling into a place that’s been kept for me. It feels like home.

I am enjoying the people, the sermons, the rite and ritual, but most of all the sense of feeling like I belong. Even as I write this, I feel like weeping at how much I finally feel like I belong somewhere, because, for whatever reason, I don’t know that I have ever felt this so strongly, at least not that I can truly remember. I’ve been at my “job” (I enjoy what I do, so I never really think of it as a job, it’s just “school”) for over 24 years, yet I’ve never truly felt that I belonged there. Yes, I have friends from school, some very close friends, but having friends and feeling a sense of belonging are different things, at least to me.

After listening to Krista’s talk, which was a revelation on many levels, I feel lighter, somehow, even as I also want to plumb more deeply into what faith means for me. I feel like I’ve gotten over a speed bump that has been preventing me from moving forward. I’ve been given something to cut away the ropes that have bound me in a place I really don’t want to be. But it’s also that I have been given the awareness that I had that something to cut those ties for a long time, but never recognized that I had the power to make those cuts.

I know this all may sound a little odd to anyone reading this, but that’s okay. Because I confess this really isn’t for you so much as it is for me. My catharsis. My rebirth. My renaissance.

Even though others, like my dear husband, may not believe in this, I believe I was brought to this moment. Krista mentioned an Irish priest and philosopher John O’Donohue. I jotted his name down because I want to listen to one of her podcasts with him. And this morning, as I work my way through a book loaned to me by a church friend, whose name do I see? John O’Donohue. And now I have something I simply must listen to and someone I must read. He died in 2008, but the website is there and in reading just a little, I am pulled away from my writing to read his.

So, I must leave you now. I’m not sure I said all that I wanted or meant to, but I think this is  a start of more thoughts to come, on faith, on myself, on my life’s journey, on healing myself, which, again, makes me feel those pinpricks behind my eyes as I think about the whole idea of becoming whole, of finally being able to find who I am, which is what I’ve been trying to do all along.

Feels like home to me.

Cheers.

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The Writing Life

When last I wrote you, it was the eve of the big interview with Michael Perry, Wisconsin writer. Usually when we do these things, we talk to our interviewee via phone. Much to my surprise and subsequent panic, Mike actually came to the studio. And there I was with my stack of five of his books, acting like a long-tailed cat in a room full of rockers and looking for all the world like a stalker. Jeesh!

But it was fun to get to actually talk with him live in the studio. Studio shows are always better because there aren’t any phone issues to muddle things up. And Mike is such a pro because he’s done this so often that once  you toss him a question, you just sit back and let him tell great stories.

Turns out his oldest daughter was looking at a college visit here in our fine state, so his wife and both daughters were outside while he spoke with us. I asked after if I could meet his wife and thank her for sharing him with us, but he explained there was a kind of boundary he didn’t like to cross between public and private life. I totally got it and kind of felt embarrassed and a little stalker-like for even asking. But I imagine he gets that a lot, which is why he was able to handle it so gracefully.

Oddly enough, I actually did meet them the next night, rather by accident.

He was doing a reading at Prairie Lights in Iowa City, and Ed and I went up. I even got my mom to go along. I thought she might enjoy it because Mike does such a wonderful job of mixing humor and writing. He is a good speaker and has an easy going manner, just like his writing, so it feels like you are just chatting with a neighbor (although, in this case, he is doing all the chatting and you are being a good listener).

When Ed dropped Mom and me at the door so he could park the car, we walked up the stairs behind a woman and her daughters. I thought, “Hmmmm. I wonder if…” And when we got upstairs, I saw the little girl walk over to Mike, who was standing off by himself, getting himself prepped mentally, I suppose. When she turned around, she looked so like him in miniature. I walked over and gave him our thank you gift from the radio show and then took my seat.

After he began, I looked for Ed and saw him in the back, leaning on a bookcase. Afterward, Mom and I walked back to him and he was sitting there talking with Mike’s wife and daughter (of course). Turns out his younger daughter asked Ed if he’d like her chair. What lovely manners. So they were talking about ducks and chickens. And when we walked up, she said she liked my black cat earrings.

I did not ask anyone’s name, because I didn’t want to cross that anonymity line, but I did learn they were staying with friends from Scattergood, the Quaker boarding school in West Branch, so they wouldn’t have to drive the five hours back that night. I told her that years ago we used to attend some of their Friday night dances which, sadly, are no more. I still miss those dances.

All in all, the two days were a wonderful memory for me. And another inspirational shot in the arm, though, I confess, I have had a hard time trying to find some time to write since then. But hearing an author I so admire brought me such joy that I hope to harness that inspiration and really do something with it. In fact, I’m starting to get an idea for some writing even now. So I guess I’ll sign off here and sign in on my laptop. I’ll keep you posted.

Cheers.

Get Happy!

One of my New Year’s Resolutions is to use the library more and spend less (I have a hard time saying “spend less on books” because that seems like blasphemy to me, but I do need to remember that while my husband built me a beautiful wall bookcase, it does have only so much room).  This resolution is always harder for me when my Bas Bleu catalog comes in the mail. It is full of wonderful new books, coffee mugs, cat items – in short, it’s as though someone had me in mind when they created it. It’s also like they truly understand my weaknesses and are ready to capitalize on them. Those curs!

Anyhow, I circled the books I would love to buy. Then, I wrote down the titles and looked for them at the library. While not all were there, many were, including my current favorite, The Little Book of Lykke: Secrets of the World’s Happiest People.

Image result for The LIttle Book of Lykke

After learning I’m about 1/5 Scandinavian, a book on happiness written by the CEO of the Happiness Research Institute in Denmark should not be a big stretch. But that aside, it’s a really interesting and fun book to read.

My reading over breakfast this morning talked about a movement in Japan called shinrin-yoku, which translates as “forest bathing.” The idea is not just to hike around and get in the exercise, but to pay closer attention to the world that is the forest. Check out the leaves, the trees, the birds, the critters; the sights and sounds of the world around you. This concept has been studied and Japanese researchers have concluded that it boosts immunity. Researchers in the UK finds it also helps boost one’s mental immunity,  raising mood and self esteem. I could have told them that! But hooray for woodsy hikes, right?

While my friend Deb and I were going to hike over Christmas break, the sub-zero temps put an end to that idea. But, I am still going to hold her to that hike. And maybe we can practice a little shinrin-yoku! I want to generate those positive feelings, or, as the author of the book, Meik Wiking, calls them “outdoorphins” (this is my new favorite term!), and a hike with a dear friend would be just the ticket.

So, pull on your hiking boots and wrap yourself in your favorite scarf and get out into the woods, even in January. It can only do you good! Outdoorphins, people!

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got a full moon and owl spotting hike to sign up for with the Quad Cities Women’s Outdoor Club!

Cheers.

Baby, It’s Cold Outside!

thermom

It was actually -20 when I got up at 4:30! By 9:30, a balmy +8

And a little bit inside, too! Scarfed and hatted and sitting in front of the (fake) fireplace (heater) drinking hot cocoa. I will be so relieved when this snap is over. Sounds like maybe tomorrow we might get up to the 20s, which makes me want to break out the beachwear (almost). Am really hoping that I can soon start sitting back on my beloved sunporch surrounded by my plants, which are also hoping for the temps to travel upward.

Though it’s been a bone-chilling way to start 2018, I refuse to become discouraged. I sit with my sun lamp (which really does help; thanks to my massage therapist, Stacy, for recommending it), and I write and plot and plan. It’s the season of indoor sports, like quilting and knitting and tap-dancing (tap-dancing? what’s really in that hot cocoa? I hear you asking). Yes, tap-dancing!

Okay, so last June (ah, June – warmth, sunshine, rhubarb) Ed and I finally made it to the Aledo Rhubarb Fest, which was delightful. I had the most wonderful rhubarb pie ala mode! So after wandering the craft stalls and antique shops, we are heading back to the car, and I need coffee (when don’t I, really?).

So after a quick stop in the coffeeshop, I see a consignment store next door (are there vaccines for this? I swear consignment stores are my kryptonite). Naturally, I have to look around. And I see a pair of black shoes with a low heel and a strap and I think, “Hey! I could use a nice pair like that (and I am not making this part up) if we ever go dancing.”

I pick them up and they are, indeed, dance shoes. But they are tap shoes! And they are in my size! And (drumroll, please), they are on sale and cost me $6! I seriously should have bought a lottery ticket immediately after, except I was in Illinois, so even if I had won the lottery, I probably would never have seen the money.

So the reason this is such a crazy big deal to me is that when I was in college, for a P.E. credit, I could, and did, take a tap-dancing class. I had a blast! I had to buy shoes for the class and kept them. Or thought I did. Somewhere in all the moving around that was my life after college, they got lost. I was bummed about this, but figured, “Oh, well. This totally sucks, but there’s not much I can do. And I’m certainly not going to run out and spend a fortune on another pair of tap shoes.”

And that, ladies and gents, is why finding a pair of tap shoes in my size, which I never would have bought otherwise, was such a big deal. Hooray!

For little bits of time this summer, in between bouts of worrying about my dad who was sick with a mystery illness (now we know it was ALS, which is now my favorite disease to hate), I found some YouTube videos on how to tap dance and spent some time tapping on the back deck. This is one of the many times when it’s nice not to have neighbors too close to the back of the house, because I’m pretty sure if someone saw me tap-dancing on the back deck, they might have wanted to have me committed, although I was already committed – to having a great time tap-dancing on the back deck! (I got a million of ’em, folks).

tap shoesThe infamous $6 tap shoes

So, that’s how we get from a sub-zero  Saturday morning in January to tap-dancing. I always find it interesting what turns my writing is going to take. I certainly hadn’t expected tap-dancing. But no one suspects tap-dancing. Or is the Spanish Inquisition?

Cheers!

Ga Ga for La La

1083_RS19_S012P120.jpgFred Astaire and Ginger Rogers in Swing Time, 1936 RKO Radio Pictures

When I was a kid, I was kinda weird (I know – shocker, right?). In junior high, I listened to Glenn Miller and loved watching the movies of Fred Astaire (and Ginger Rogers or whoever else his partner happened to be for that particular picture). The concept was simple: boy meets girl; boy and girl may not like each other; they dance, they sing, they fall in love; they then sing and dance their way to the end of the movie. Simple, but, oh, so much fun to watch, singing Cole Porter or George Gershwin or whoever’s music, watching the effortlessness of Fred (who played the Adler Theater in Davenport with his sister Adele during vaudeville, by the way) and Ginger doing everything backwards and in heels. That, my friends, was dancing and the movies at their best.

Maybe that’s why I so loved the movie La La Land. We had date night on Friday, and that was the movie. And, oh, what a welcome distraction!

To my friends, it’s no secret that, since the election, my gyroscope has been off-kilter. I’ve been angry, sad, scared, frustrated, and anxious, with the odd moment of hope and optimism

la-la-land-2016-movie-poster

So when I heard people praising La La Land as a movie that leaves you humming, I was interested. And now, having seen it, I’m a convert. When in the opening scene of a traffic jam on the LA freeway turns into a song and dance number, with people leaping from their cars and dancing, full of song, I was hooked. I’m listening to the soundtrack now as I write and am feeling the endorphins doing backflips in my brain. Ahhh! This was so needed. Kind of like the Cubs winning the World Series. It’s something to help you see that, despite everything, there are elements out there that bring us joy.

It sounds kind of hokey, I know, but I don’t care. It works for me, and that’s what matters.

I don’t care who you supported in the election. I would hope that everyone can understand that we all need a positive shot in the arm right now. We have to find common ground and things to make us happy and we have to pull ourselves together without anyone rolling their eyes at anyone else’s feelings. That is what has to happen or we all go down in one giant Titanic. It’s called empathy, people. Find it!

So, what does any of this have to do with Fred & Ginger? Well, during the Depression when folks were feeling pretty low, they would take an hour or two and sit in the dark of the movie house, hear some catchy tunes, and watch Fred and Ginger float gracefully across the screen. And they would forget their troubles (c’mon, get happy, for heaven’s sake) and feel uplifted. That’s the beauty of the movies. They don’t have to be serious or deliver some sort of moral lesson to change your life for the better, at least for a little while.

 

top_hat11Top Hat, 1935 RKO Radio Pictures

Upon leaving the theater that Friday, I’d hear people say, “They don’t make musicals like that anymore.” Which is mostly true. But I’m sure glad they made this one.

la-la-land-trailer2

http://www.slashfilm.com/la-la-land-trailer-2/