Monday, January 30, 2012

Whoops! There I go Again!

Last week, after being in the magical world of the movie HUGO (which I strongly recommend if you still have an active child-self within you), I went to Barnes and Noble (did you read the sad story in this Sunday's New York Times about the possible demise of B&N and the implied impact to writers and publishers if that happens)--and I bought the book, "You Can be Happy No Matter What" by Richard Carlson.

It's definitely a lighter read than the past couple of books I have read and recommended--all, more or less--in my ongoing process to shift from a belief system of scarcity (anxiety, fear) to a belief system of abundance (creativity, hope, faith, joy). I know, from the other books, that my belief system runs deep in my psyche and I appreciate the possiblity of significant change if I can shift my thinking 2-10% each day. Somedays, like this morning, I feel like I can barely move the needle to 1%. And that's where the hint of this little, simple book comes in...the author suggests that when the negative thinking occurs to simply say "Whoops! There I go again!"

What I like about this phrase is that, in it, there is a hint of humor and lightness rather than blame or shame. Distancing myself with this phrase helped me relax (along with full routine of laps today) and realign my thinking. So, as I write this, I can honestly say I am at the 2%plus grade of shifting toward abundance.

So give it a try, next time you slide away from the Light: "Whoops! There I go again!"

Sunday, January 22, 2012

end of the weekend

I see the clouds in the west are building up again. I am making Cornish game hens for an early dinner, basted with butter, orange juice and zest and fresh parsley. Steamed broccoli with the remaining butter and zest will be added, along with a fresh loaf of French bread from the grocery. The smells right now are yummy and I felt refreshed as I chopped up the parsley for the basting juice.

I bought a pot of budding yellow tulips (three blossoms at least) to put by my bedside. I read in one of my magazines that waking up to flowers can set a bright tone for the rest of the day. I will need it tomorrow as I have a day of data entry to do from the fall Conversation Cafes at the community college. It's the least favorite part of that kind of work and I wish I could afford to pay someone to do it for me. I really had tons of it to do for my dissertation and ever since then, the thought of punching the keys stirs up memories of solitary work that I would rather keep to a minimum. But, since I am doing this pro bono anyway, I certainly won't be paying someone else for the honor! So, I need to look at the task with a different slant--how this is a next step in mentoring my UA colleague in this nonglorious aspect of public dialogue/discourse.

I still have my Christmas tree up: the evening's dark benefits from the light of the tree so it stays for another week at least. But the tulips remind me of another season beckoning in a month or so, at least it does here in the desert. So, it's a blend right now of winter and early Spring to add "zest" to my week, as the seasoning will to our dinner.

Monday, January 16, 2012

photos from the Phoenix Desert Botanical Gardens

Yesterday I wrote that we visited the Phoenix Desert Botanical Gardens on Saturday. My husband, Mark Grushka, took the photos. I think he should expand his photojournalist expertise when he retires from the UA. What do you think?


First photo: This photo is of one of many temporary art sculptures in the Garden. The full effect has to be experienced: three gigantic ants cresting on the red soiled butte. It looked like a scene from an alien movie.

Second photo: Fence post cactus, from Mexico. See how straight they grow?

Third photo: Permanent glass sculptures on the entrance hill at the Garden. Rain clouds gather in the distance.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

back from Phoenix

I guess we blew in with a mild winter storm, down the I-10 from Phoenix. Mark had work up there on Friday and we have the hospitality of a colleague-friend who doesn't use her apartment seven days a week. So we extended our Thursday evening to Saturday plans by another day.

By doing so, we were able to enjoy a visit to the Desert Botanical Gardens on Saturday and Mark was able to see a colleague who occasionally flies into Phoenix from South Africa for safety work.

As is not unusual for me on these kind of mini-vacas, I do some reading, writing, ruminating. I finished Frances Mayes, Everyday in Tuscany and, amidst her usual descriptive writing on food and Italian life, there were some final pages nuggets about the writing life that has given me a few ideas for my own approach to writing. I wonder how our new/post-UA retirement-for-Mark schedule will enhance or challenge my writing but a month from now I will have a better sense of that reality.

Just for today, we are home. Lia, our 12 year old mixed breed, welcomed us with squeaks and was well taken care of by our son. Laundry is rolling around in the machine and more awaits. Three days of local and NY Times papers are on the table to be skimmed and/or read, depending on my inclination and interest. Skies outside are clouding up and we may or may not get out to the desert to resume our daily walks with the dog.

A new rhythm for 2012 is emerging for me and us. Is there something new in the year emerging for you?

Thursday, January 12, 2012

on yoga

a very quick entry as I ponder what stretches to do/not to do. If you are considering yoga (or any other kind of body-mind stretches), you might look at this:

Monday, January 9, 2012

later on 1.8.12

My hubby took these photos of the on site memorial, erected by Safeway Stores on 1/7/12, to honor the 19 shot, 6 killed on 1/8/11.

It was very moving to be at the location where so much trauma took place, where six souls were lifted up to the cosmos and where a town was, and continues to be, challenged to become a whole community.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

I rang my great grandparents' cow bell

This morning, at 10:11, Tucsonans were encouraged to ring bells in remembrance of the 1/8/11 "Your Congress at the Corner" shooting which killed six, injured several, included Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, and tore the threads of the Tucson's social fabric. Over fifty events were/are scheduled for this weekend to serve as a memorial for the community. Yesterday, my husband and I went to Valley of the Moon, where "fairies" sat on rock-hewn toadstools or grassy knolls and read the favorite stories of two of those who died, Gabe Zimmerman and Christina Taylor-Green.

We used to take our son to the Valley, and later our niece and nephew who, in spite of childhood exposure to television, videos and computers, were fascinated by the suggested imagry of this special-Tucson-funky place. . When I told my 29 year old son about it this morning and asked him, "Do you remember that place?", he warmed his mother's heart by responding, "oh, yes, it was great; I loved it."

Yesterday, as part of the Beyond events ( ) the community was called to celebrate life; today's events are to memorialize life. But when I stood on my porch, still clothed in pajamas and slippers (this is, after all, Sunday morning and part of my life-celebration is to "go slow" when I can), I only heard my bell ringing. I expected to hear the bells from nearby churches, but all that accompanied the clang that used to bring in cows to be fed or farmworkers to end their field day, was the chatter of birds in the trees. The cowbell didn't ruffle them at all. And I wonder, did anyone else hear the bell? Does it matter?

Like the sound of "one hand clapping in the forest", does one bell ringing in a neighborhood instill more neighborliness? I can begin to walk my own talk today by being more tolerant of my backyard neighbor's barking beagle. I can walk in the desert and smile at everyone I meet. Yesterday, I made a point of opening doors for others, even when it was obvious that they could open the doors for themselves. I buried my familial resentment over caretaking my dad and offered to take him (again) to the doctor's tomorrow and fill out paperwork for a new referral.

It doesn't take a lot to turn around my own moment from self-centeredness to considering the welfare of others, but it does take consciousness. Left to my own slippery slope, I slide into spiritual restlessness born from resentments and a feeling of entitlement.

But, not today, not this weekend. When I picked up my great grandparents' cow bell, I not only touched a part of my personal history but also a part of America's past. Before my grandparents died, I interviewed them about their Indiana life. They told me that by tying a white piece of cloth to their fencepost, they would let "hoboes" know that their farmhouse was open for a warm meal, served in the kitchen with the rest of the farmhands (who ate before the farmer's family did). By first feeding not only their farmhands, but strangers, the generation of Indiana farmers that my grandparents belonged to were demonstrating personal and communal charity. Whatever I learned about that concept, I learned from them.

So, by ringing my family cow bell, I was celebrating the best of the American and human community. And I choose to believe that in the daily actions of many in Tucson and, perhaps in other communties today and everyday, others celebrate community. And so other bells chime with mine.

P.S. See next post for photo image

Sunday, January 1, 2012

First Sunday of the Year

Well, here we are, a new year. Will it end on 12/21/12 as the Mayans predicted or be a new beginning? Choices abound. And yet...last night we spent New Year's Eve in the ER with my father-in-law who took (another) fall and required stitches. Warning to those who may need stitches: you have to advocate hard for any kind of pain relief; we didn't and the doctor just did the "job" and left. Not impressed with TMC's care. I would give it a "C", if that.

It took 5 1/2 hours on a non busy night (we got there before 5 p.m. and thus the crazy stuff, if it happened, hadn't started yet). So best laid plans get set awry and, sitting in the area where they carousel patients in curtain swathed "rooms", I saw an elderly woman near death and a young teenage girl blithly texting on her cell before and after the doctor, who looked maybe 30, told her she probably had the flu and a migraine and not something more tragic. Still, while in the presence of accidents, illness and dying, I succumb to the feelings of causality, chance, mortality and want to spend most of my day today recovering.

There is plenty of sunshine tempting me to talk a walk on the Rillito and we'll do that later in the day. A natural dose of Vitamin D could help boost my attitude as well as my metabolism. I started a great new book (Christmas gift to myself and available at Costco at $10.00 less than the regular price), Death Comes to Pemberley by P.D. James. It got terrific reviews from the NY Times Book Review and is on the best seller list and deserves to be there. Set seven years after Elizabeth Bennet marries Mr. Darcy (yes, Pride and Prejudice lives on in yet another story), a murder-mystery slowly evolves, involving her impetuous younger sister, Lydia, and her infamous husband, Mr. Wickam. I am not a murder mystery fan, but I love Jane Austen and the idea of curling up under the bedcovers to read a chapter or two before noon sounds absolutely divine to me. So, I am adding that to my short "to do" list for today.

We have seen several movies this past week (all good): Moneyball, Mission Impossible, Ides of March, Happy Feet Two and Puss in Boots (the last was a scheduling surprise but it was fun, smart and had a bit of James Bond tucked into the fairy tale extension of "Shrek"). All is still right with the world if good stories, written and visual, can be experienced, along with nature's bounty of birdlife, sunshine and turquoise sky.

So, last night's ER is a reminder of life's brevity, impermanence and surprise; today can be a reminder of a new day, new year, new beginnings.