Flowers in California

Flowers in California

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Storage Lockers and Stuff

I watched Storage Wars one night this week.  I have watched it more times than I care to admit.  It holds the interest of all three members of my family.  I'm not proud that we watch it but, hey, we do.

I find the cast of characters mildly interesting.  The material uncovered can be unusual and mysterious.  However real the show is, I don't know.  It's a reality show - that is not a guarantee that it reflects real life.  That's ok, there is some entertainment value.

What I find less acceptable or, at least, something to think about is why the original owners of the storage units have defaulted on rent and left behind their belongings.  The units, or most of them, do not appear to be treasure troves of collectible items that people needed to store offsite.  Rather, they are filled with the everyday items of people's lives.  There are coffee tables, microwave ovens, mattresses and, sadly, toys.  Where are the people who leave all these things behind?  What circumstances led them to pack up their belongings and place them in a storage unit and then, at some point, leave that behind?

The economy in the United States has suffered in recent years.  I watched a heartbreaking story on 60 Minutes about the children of families forced by economic struggles to live in hotels or with friends.  It's tough for kids.  When a family is in a situation like that, I guess keeping up payments on a storage locker isn't a high priority.  Keeping the family together, looking for jobs and somehow surviving, are more important.

Maybe the items in the storage lockers don't matter too much and it's ok for buyers to swoop in and bid on what they want.  It's sad to see a family's belongings rammed into a small space and then abandoned but the family matters more.  Some families are learning, as they face crushing financial difficulties, that life is about a lot more than material belongings.  I hope that things get better for the people in these situations and that, in whatever form home takes, they can soon be home again.  And that, at some point, they will have a coffee table on which to place their favourite beverage or their treasured toy.


Thursday, November 24, 2011

Keeping at It

I went to the gym today.  It had been a few weeks since I'd been there.  This happens.  I go regularly, and then I stop, and then I go regularly and, well, you see where this is going.  (Sometimes to the gym and sometimes not to the gym.  That is where this is going.  But you probably figured that out.)

Today, I decided to walk on the treadmill for 30 minutes.  I will ease back into more exercises and more strenuous activity.  So, I started walking on the treadmill.  Then, I got bored.  I was quite bored.  Around the ten minute mark, I felt like I couldn't walk for 30 minutes; the boredom was too much.  My resistance is not usually that strong.  It must have been working out when I wasn't.  It was clearly of the opinion that we should get off the treadmill and give up.

I kept going through the ten minute mark though and set my sights on 16 minutes.  For some reason, if I can get to 16 minutes, the time seems to go quicker after that.  Perhaps it's a matter of getting past the half way point.  Whatever happens at 16 minutes, I like that point in time.

I guess sometimes we have to keep going and work through barriers in life when we'd rather give up.  The world wouldn't end if I got off the treadmill after ten minutes.  But giving up is too easy.  We don't reach our goals when we give up along the way.  And there are goals much more exciting to pursue than walking on a treadmill for 30 minutes.  There are so many things we can accomplish.  And it's worth pushing through so that we can accomplish them.


Getting Along

I was at the mall yesterday and I saw something that warmed my heart.  A girl who I believe is Muslim (I don't like to assume anything but she was wearing a hijab) deposited money into the Salvation Army Christmas kettle.  I almost broke down in tears.  It doesn't always take a lot to make me break down in tears but this was so nice.

Interfaith generosity and love and compassion and understanding are such dreams, such ideals, such lovely things for which to hope.  Of course, we could use generosity, love, compassion and understanding among people within faiths too and within all of society.  We need to get along.  I think it's worth a try.



Don't ask a woman if she's pregnant - ever

I came up with this rule a long time ago.  I have stuck to it.  Not everyone follows it.  I don't normally like to suggest what people do or don't say but I believe this is very important.

Women can have medical conditions that result in them appearing to be pregnant.  There may be several conditions - I know of a few.  One is fibroid tumours.  I know about them from personal experience.  I also know the pain of being asked if I'm pregnant.  And of people looking at my stomach without asking.  No, I'm not pregnant.  If you only knew how loaded an issue that is to me and how much that question hurts, you would never, ever ask it.  Or look at my stomach for too long.  That hurts too.

Sometimes, a person is pregnant but it's not going well.  It's quite possible she doesn't want to talk about it.  Too many pregnancies don't end with the arrival of a healthy baby.  Too many of us know about that.

Please, be considerate.  I know we all get excited about babies and pregnancies but a bulge in a woman's belly, big or small, isn't always something about which they are happy and to which they want attention drawn.  Sometimes things aren't how they look.


Eating with Appreciation

Last night, I saw a character on a tv show try to eat something he didn't want to eat.  It was a lamb kebab.  I wouldn't want to eat it either.  There are many meats I wouldn't eat and I would prefer to eat none at all.  Lamb is on my I-don't-eat list.  I wondered, as I watched the scene on tv, how hungry I'd have to be to eat the lamb kebab.  That got me thinking.

Whatever my reasons for not eating various foods, the foods provide valuable nutrition.  A starving person would appreciate them.  We need food.  And we can pick and choose what we like to eat.  We have that luxury.

Perhaps we should maybe take more time to appreciate food and on this day, Thanksgiving in the United States, it seems fitting.  We can appreciate food that tastes good and even food that tastes bad.  If we think about why we are eating and how lucky we are to have food, maybe we will be more inclined to eat good food, less inclined to waste food and better able to teach children to have a rational approach to food.

I still don't want to eat a lamb kebab.  But maybe once in a while I should eat something I don't like.  I should let myself get hungry and see how that feels.  I can learn what food really means to us and how profoundly lucky we are to have it.  I can eat for the right reason; we need to eat to fuel our lives.

I wish everyone in the USA a nice Thanksgiving Day.


Saturday, November 19, 2011

In Our Pursuits

I wonder if she enjoys watching SpongeBob SquarePants.  I'd think that could go either way.  I like that show.  Oh, but I'm digressing before I even get going here.  I'll get back on track.

In the Globe and Mail Books Section today, I enjoyed the "My Books, My Place" piece.  Author Susan Casey was featured.

While it's often interesting to look at this column and see where people like to read and/or write, I was especially interested in learning about Susan Casey.  She described her ideal setting for reading (it sounded neat and would be in Hawaii) and she talked about the many books she owns.  A lot of them are ocean-related and many deal with sea creatures.  And it was clear that she is enthusiastic about them all.

I find it fascinating that people have varied interests.  From the picture accompanying the article, I wouldn't have expected this woman to be a sea creature enthusiast (for one thing, there's a cat sitting beside her.  I guess they're easier as pets).  For another thing, it's just so different.  I don't know too many (if any) people with similar passions.  And it's wonderful that this woman knows her passion and is pursuing it.

Whatever our interests, our passions (as long as they're healthy - nothing damaging), we can make our lives richer by digging into them.  Questions lead to more questions, discoveries lead us in new directions and our pursuits lead us to people with similar fascinations.  As we acquire more knowledge, we have more to contribute to life.  Plus, it's just fun.

So, let's go and pursue our own sea creatures.  In whatever forms they take.  Enjoy them all!


Wednesday, November 9, 2011

I Oppose the Word "Just"

I just do.

No, there's a lot more to it than that.

First of all, the word "just" isn't always needed.  It doesn't add a lot of meaning.  How can things be "just perfect" or "just right"?  Aren't they perfect or right?  So, it's on my radar screen for that.  But I have bigger problems with the word than that.

As far as the word "just" being used to mean "fair", I think we should give up on the concept of life being just or fair if we want to happy.  I don't see evidence that anyone is using a giant weighing system to ensure everyone has equal measures of happiness, sadness and everything else.  We have to make the best of what we are handed in life.  Again, we can strike out the word "just."

Finally, we use the "just" to minimize our accomplishments.  We just create beautiful pieces of art, just teach or just write.  We just cook, bake, clean, go to work, care for animals, raise children or volunteer.  We just pick ourselves up from defeat or upset, and carry on.  We just do a lot of things.  How about we stop minimizing any of them?  How about we give ourselves credit for all that we do and all that we are?  We're not "just wonderful."  We are wonderful!

I'm not going to formally request that the word "just" be removed from usage.  Too much paperwork.  But I think it's important to consider the use of the word, especially in the context of minimizing things we do.  What we do has value and so do we.  It's that simple.  And yes, I could have used the word there.  But there's no need.  It really is simple.


Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Becoming Handcuffed

I just ate my lunch and glanced through the paper.  I saw a picture of Michael Jackson's doctor having handcuffs placed on him.  Dr. Conrad Murrary was found guilty of involuntary mansalughter in the death of Michael Jackson.  He became a man in handcuffs.

I don't know how long the handcuffs stayed on Dr. Murray or the rightness or wrongness of the verdict.  The life and death of Michael Jackson are not straightforward.  But the image of this man, this doctor, losing his freedom struck me.

I wonder what it is like to go from being a free person and a medical professional to a person who is cuffed and imprisoned and at the control of the justice system.  What did he lose with the verdict and with the action of being handcuffed?  He passively accepted them both.  What else could he do?  But what is it like to go from sitting in a courtroom, well-dressed in a suit and tie, to suddenly becoming a handcuffed convict?

And really, why the cuffs?  It must be a standard procedure but I doubt that it's necessary.  Does it help anybody to strip away this man's dignity in this way?  From his defeated expression, he did not appear about to run away or hurt anyone.

This isn't about the rightness or wrongness of the handcuffs though.  It's about what it must be like to lose one's freedom and have one's situation change that quickly.  It's about wondering what it is like to, literally, have our hands tied, to truly be imprisoned, not imprisoned by the limits we impose upon ourselves.

For those of us who are free, who can use our hands, who can lead our lives, we have so much opportunity, so many options.  We can do so much.  It is in our hands. 


Saturday, November 5, 2011

Going For It Finally

I'm hungry now.  I'm not hungry for food.  I just had a little snack so I'm fine that way.  Thank you for your concern though.  No, I'm hungry for life.  I'm hungry for doing what I want to do regardless of, well, regardless.  It is time to move forward.  Finally.

I'm not sure how to deal with the fact that I have wasted time and lots of it.  You don't get that back.  But maybe it helps you use time better in the future.

I am grateful to have wonderful people in my life who offer encouraging words.  They believe in me.  We all need that.  I'm starting to believe in myself too.  And not beat myself up about things.  My confidence is, well, coming along.  The seeds have sprouted.

I see no benefit to hiding our abilities.  The world needs what we have to offer.  And we need to offer it, we need to express ourselves and our talents.  To quote Marianne Williamson:

"Your playing small does not serve the world." (see below)

We all have so many wonderful talents and interests and potential.  When we unleash them, we can do amazing things.


Regarding the quote:  I refer you to Marianne Williamson's website for the context of this quote and further information.  I find the entire quote shown there very inspiring.  Enjoy!

Keep Bothering

I hope that each of you enjoys reading this blog.  I expect that you get a sense from it that I enjoy writing.  I do; it is my passion.  There are times, however, when I don't feel positive about it.  Here are some words I found this evening in one of my notebooks:

The house would be a lot tidier if I didn't have notebooks and newspapers and books and pens and things to read and things I'm writing and things that inspire.
Maybe that would be better.
Maybe my words are clutter.
Maybe the world doesn't need more.
That's what it feels like right now.  Who cares?  Shut up.  Stop making noise, on paper.  Just be still.  Would that be better, more peaceful, simpler, healthier?
Should I just give up, & keep it simple?
Why try so hard?
Why try at all?
Why bother?

What a sad person I would be if I gave in to discouraging thoughts like that.

I plan to keep on bothering.  I hope that all of you know and pursue your passions.  And keep bothering, always.