Life Lessons

The Necessity of Strangers, or Embracing My Inner Bee

In recent weeks, a sound alchemist, a Buddhist priest, a health care ethicist, a heptathlete, and a graphic recorder — to name a few — have all come into my universe, each enriching and expanding it in ways I would never have imagined.  I can’t honestly say these were intentional additions, as I didn’t really appreciate what a profound expansion I’d undertaken, but I’ll own what I started.

Life can get awfully cozy.  You have good friends, favorite haunts, classic menus. These things are lovely, often hard-won, and comfortable; reassuringly predictable.

Sometimes that’s exactly what’s in order.

And sometimes: not.

Recent months have been a master class in the “necessity of strangers” – the value-added intersections with people who are friends of friends of friends, spouses of colleagues’ siblings children, the “loose ties” that both bind and extend us as a society.

Statistically, these are the folks from whom you’ll get the next job and find the new lover. But more importantly, they are sources of surprising insights, wisdom and fresh perspective.

They are the veins to follow to inner mines rich with as-yet-unexcavated treasure.

beeI think of it as my inner bee. And I’m cross-pollinating like my life depends on it. Because it does. I’m pretty sure Nature itself depends on me buzzing about, visiting with these lovely buds, taking and sharing what I can. Going back to the hive – and then back out again, and again, and again.

We need to be thinking of one another as lovely flowers to be visited. As sources of life-critical treasure to be collected and exchanged.

Life Lesson #27: I’ll rephrase Muhammad Ali: Float like a butterfly, flit like a bee!

Life Lessons, Making a List

Take 5 @ 3

No doubt you have seen the video of the Accenture employees in Mumbai who take five minutes at the start of each day to dance.  I’m a sucker for this sort of thing. When I am Queen of the Universe, we’ll all start our days with dance.

Some years ago I tried to launch a five-minute break in the middle of the afternoon in my office – my singular effort to push back against the doldrums and the general confines of office decorum.

Didn’t happen.

I did manage to pull it off, once, when some portion of my colleagues joined me in the elevator lobby to boogie with Pharrell at 3:14 one Pi Day. When I left that job it was one of the stories recounted in the farewell party, an example of the kind of workplace colleagues hoped we would have.

Sadly, I never managed to make it a habit. But you can!  It’s not too late!  So simple…5at3

  1. Pick a time, any time.  I think of 3 pm as the afternoon dead zone. Doing something disruptive right then offers the opportunity to re-energize the day.
  2. Let people know it’s coming and then make good on the promise.
  3. Press play. Any music that makes you want to move and elicits a smile will do. Just be sure it’s loud enough to hear down the hall.
  4. Start dancing. Do this whether anyone is there or not.  On that day in mid-March I was alone in the corridor when the music started – but not for long.

Life Lesson #26: It might seem crazy what I’m about to say/ Sunshine she’s here, you can take a break ~ Pharrell Williams

Back Story, BloggingU

Where I Write

I blog from a tabletop pushed against a wall adorned with a colorful geologic map and some watercolors. I’ve got a small window, prone to cobwebs and collecting dead leaves. My view is ground-level, facing into a wall of ivy. The southern sun streams in, keeping it from feeling like the basement it is.

I tried for the bunny, but to no avail.
I tried for the bunny, but to no avail.

But the best part is the bunny. While I grumble at him and his kin when it comes to my plants, I delight in his company on the bricks at my window. He’s a bit of a muse, that flash of inspiration that hops past almost too quickly to grasp but reliably enough for genuine pleasure and company.

What else? There’s a dehumidifier. This time of year it’s white noise with a bit of welcome heating; in the summer I vacillate between appreciating its fight against the creeping damp and jerking the plug from the wall when the hot air and noise get to be too much.

Behind me, where I can’t see them, are piles. Piles of books, piles of boxes; piles midway in the culling process. Piles that will have to be dealt with before family arrives for Christmas.

I come down the stairs and into my own world. It’s quiet, although I don’t think it needs to be, and entirely of my own direction. If I want tunes, I can blast ’em with abandon. If I suddenly get the urge to drop to the floor for planks and squats, I can. My husband’s at work two flights up and he’s none the wiser.

The space works in ways I hadn’t really anticipated. While I share it with laundry, abandoned video games, spare dining chairs, family photo albums, spiders and the occasional cricket, it is, nonetheless, a room of my own.

I like to think Ms. Woolf would approve.

* This is a much-delayed reply to a Writing101 prompt that’s been percolating for some time.

#Fittestever, Making a List

Biking While Tutu’d

bike4 Facts: 

  • I saw a line of tutu’d cyclists one Saturday morning.
  • I took pictures.

Assumptions:

  • They were cycling for a cause.
  • They are fun people.

Speculation:

  • This started as a dare — and grew from there.
  • Despite the early hour, there will be beer at the end of this ride.

Conclusion:

  • These are my people!
#Fittestever

My Lucky Sevens

jackpot-slot-machineIn my quest to be my “fittest ever”  by the time I turn 55, a modicum of moderation seems in order. A nasty, or even nagging, injury could really derail this process, so I am trying to modulate — starting slow and regular.

The sad truth is that I’m in worse shape than I thought. I’ve got kinks where kinks ought not be. I’ve not got muscle where one might hope for it.  That old shoulder injury has gotten wonkier over time and, frankly, I’m lopsided. The contracture in my hands has weakened my grip; the legs are strong, but the lungs maybe less so. Everything is a good deal tighter than it once was – well, except for the stuff that is looser. This is all useful information, but sobering. For all its discomfort, the truth has galvanized my commitment to the goal. This is all to the good.

So I’m especially grateful for what I’ve come to call my Lucky Sevens, two virtual coaches that are regular components of my new regime.

The loveliest seven minutes of my workout routine comes early in the day, typically right after meditation, with “Seven Minutes of Magic Qi Gong”. The title’s hyperbole aside, this is pretty magical, if only for how quickly and soothingly the seven minutes pass. Just a nice way to ease into the day and get the proverbial juices flowing.

Often the toughest seven minutes, by contrast, come from the much-promoted (but not universally endorsed) Seven Minute Workout. Maybe it’s just that I’m a newbie and not in such hot shape for starters, but I can attest to the merits of this little investment. For sheer concentration of activity and getting the heart rate up, there’s nothing quite like it.

I’m still looking for a third to round out my set.  Any suggestions?

Uncategorized

“We Need Your Light to Complete Our Constellation”

I am standing in the darkened theater, tears staining my cheeks, applauding wildly.

She is onstage, looking right at me. Her hands come to her mouth, as if in surprise, and then reach out in a gesture of what feels like genuine gratitude. Later, she says she didn’t expect it, not at all.

She had me at the first note.

Shannon Curtis went viral last spring with “I Know I Know”  and, in my former iteration, I would have known.

Now she’s out with “Constellation” whose message of appreciation and validation were, for me, even more moving, performed by one who sings like an angel and surely must live among the stars.

We need you

To shine the light that only you can shine.

It’s a dark night

And some lost soul

Is looking for a sign.

With your light,

You complete our constellation.

Shine on, Shannon. And thanks.