Creating a Retreat in a Few Easy Steps

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I could live here.  (Image courtesy Old Design Shop)

Would you like to come in? We could sip iced tea and enjoy strawberry shortcake made with biscuits–baking powder, not drop ones–and topped with whipped cream while conversing about books, pets, gardening, and period films. If we disagree, then we would agree to do so and move on to a topic of true importance such as chocolate. Or perhaps have dinner at the pine trestle table served on plain white dishes. Something good and peasant-y, like coq au vin. Of course we would have a crusty loaf and a robust red to go with, or iced tea if you were inclined away from alcohol. Dessert? How does mousse au chocolate sound?

Today seems as good as any to move there. I grow weary of the political vitriol and stories of animal abuse on social media. The campus shooting du jour unfolds as I type this. (Google “UCLA shooting.” I don’t want to give it any more energy.) It is a good day to create a retreat.

“Retreat” usually carries religious/spiritual connotations, but it doesn’t necessarily need to be such. You can create a temporary haven from the outside world fairly easily:

  • Heed the advice of John Prine in his song “Spanish Pipedream”. OK, just turn it off. (yes, this is the John Denver version.)  At the very least, stop watching the news. For tune-age, find internet streams or stations that don’t blast news.
  • Limit time on social media and don’t read comment threads on news sites. Even the threads on NPR are getting trolled and their moderators don’t seem to be doing very much.The amount of ugly out there is overwhelming.
  • This might sound weird, but if you can get your dwelling in order–a little dusting, a bit of decluttering–it might make things a little more restful.
  • Take a few minutes in the morning to read something inspiring. You’ll be in a better frame of mind.

Now, would you like some lemon with your tea?

 

 

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A Tuesday State of Mind

Yes, Gentle Friends, it’s Tuesday. And I am grateful for it.

Unless something catastrophic happens in the next couple of days, I will be celebrating one birthday more than my mother had when she was on this side. I feel as if I have broken an unintended curse laid on me by well meaning but ignorant relatives who expected me to be her all over again and fill the deep shadow left by her departure. Yes, I look like her. Yes, I inherited her spiritual streak, her love for animals, and when all is said and done, I hope that I will be remembered for being as compassionate and tolerant as she was, even just a fraction of such.

Over and over again, the relatives on her side chanted, “You’re just like your mother.” At the least, irritating and a factor in why I went away to school. At the most, wondering if I had value beyond being a shrine to her while struggling with the great fear in my soul of dying unexpectedly as she had in what are supposed to be the best years of my life. For many years, part of me wondered if I would make it to that magic day that marked a year beyond what she had in this life.

Mom was one of the estimated thirty percent of people with cardiovascular disease who didn’t know they had it until they have a fatal heart attack. The smoking, the stress of dealing with my dad’s four heart attacks in nine months, and the high-estrogen birth control pills to hold menopausal symptoms at bay conspired against her.

I did learn from her, though. I smoked one experimental cigarette, and that was it. I went off The Pill to another form of contraception. I meditate and exercise to control stress, and do acupuncture to control the midlife lady issues. In addition, I’m on track to get back to a healthy weight.

So some hours out from the start of the next trip around the sun, I feel pretty confident that I will be here for many years to come.

The Gladiola Conundrum

It was Oakley’s last day at the day care center before it closes and he starts full days at the new one. I decided to do a big-haul shopping trip since I won’t be getting over that way with the same frequency.

Started the trip at Costco, then on to the Whole Foods that’s across the street. I wanted to get Oakley’s teacher a token of gratitude, such as flowers. Just inside the door, gladiolas stood proudly in their buckets. I chose one bunch for Ms. Judi, a vibrant earthy red-orange, and one bunch for me in a more ethereal lavender. I didn’t think anything of it at first, but a couple of aisles later near a Labor Day promotional display, I realized that I had just bought gladiolas.

Gladiolas+Labor Day=impending autumn. Write an equation and solve for summer’s entirely too-short visit. For some reason, several radio stations played “Cruel Summer” during my travels yesterday. The last endless winter had robbed us of a good piece of spring, rendering us all logy and crabby and vitamin D deficient. The cloud of the doggy day care center’s closing had cast shadows over the landscape, too. Hubby and I were only able to get up to the Ren Faire once this summer due to his work schedule and the endless tasks required to get his mom’s house on the market.

So here we are at Labor Day. Changes and time cannot be stopped. I felt like quoting Sheldon’s line from “Big Bang Theory” when he pitches a hissy about Leonard’s and Penny’s engagement leading to changes in the housing situation, shouting that no one was moving and nothing was going to change because he didn’t want it to.

Unfortunately, I don’t control things, a hard truth learned in my life. I decided that Ms. Judi needed a bottle of wine to go with the flowers. For a moment, I toyed with getting some for myself as well, then decided not to since it’s four points a glass. I like my Shiraz, but not that much.

Perhaps the circumstances are beyond control, but the choices made in their flow and ebb aren’t.

 

 

 

 

 

The Same Old New Thing

In 2014, I resolve to become one with the sofa, eat all the white carbs I can wrap my jaws around, and sit on my hands regarding the environment and social issues. When I try the opposite, my not insubstantial rebellious streak leads me into doing the above. So we’ll see what happens if I resolve to do the opposite.

Seriously, I prefer “intentions” to “resolutions.” Less militaristic. I do intend to restart my yoga practice and shed the “grief-bacon (closest translation to stress weight in German)” caused by the passages of Orion and my mother-in-law. I do intend to find what works nutritionally for my body as it is at this time of my life. I never had much of a metabolism to begin with, and now that I’m at the Certain Age mark, we’ll have to se what works. It’s not about getting into a bikini; it’s about staving off heart disease and diabetes at this stage of the game.

It’s tough to make adjustments during the winter. This week, we’ve been plagued by snow exacerbated by proximity to Lake Michigan, which spins any weather front into a comma-shaped burst of wind and sharp-pointed ground blizzards. We’ve had to juggle around it, work with it, dance with it. 

The other challenge is keeping Oakley moving. The wind chills warrant an extra day of day care; otherwise, lots of nosework and rally obedience homework are in order. 

So we make the best choices that we can based on what we have available. I think we’re going to choose a nap this afternoon.