I turned 46 on Saturday.
Oh, I know age is only a number, and in truth I feel generally healthier than I have in a long time. Nonetheless I always get a couple of days’ worth of the blues around my birthday. File it under “coming to grips with my own mortality” I guess.
But then of course the day itself arrives, and with it some treats and good times, and nothing’s better than chasing the blues away, right?
Larry got me a nice bracelet.
The line itself is a quote from A Midsummer Night’s Dream, “Though she be but little, she is fierce”.
There was a card in the bracelet box with a longer sentiment:
She is brave, she is strong.
She will get up whenever she falls.
She knows herself inside and out.
And although she may face challenges
she will face them with courage and hope.
And though she be but little, she is fierce.
I love it. I love the bracelet, I love the giver of the present, I love the sentiment.
The bracelet is made by a company called Mantra Band, and I think that about sums it up. I look at it on my wrist every day, take a deep breath, and carry on.
We had family over for dinner Friday night, and on Sunday the four of us went to Legal’s to cap off my birthday weekend.
Only at Legal’s can you order a steamed lobster from the children’s menu. Alistair was thrilled!
(Larry and I were too, it was a lot cheaper than ordering him a lobster from the regular menu, and only slightly smaller. Plus fries and a drink!)
Given the option of any item on the children’s menu, Larson opted for a hot dog. To each his own.
It was a very happy birthday weekend for me.
As I mentioned before, I have started a daily meditation practice.
I’m not a burn incense and adjust my chi sort of person by any means. Not that there’s anything wrong with being that sort of person! I’m just saying, it’s not my kind of thing.
But what is my kind of thing, is not walking around with a knot of stress between my shoulders every single day.
I had been thinking about doing something about it for a few months, actually. But then I was listening to a new podcast (Fit Bottomed Girls), and in their first episode their interviewee mentioned two things that really struck a nerve with me.
The first thing was that, when you are feeling stressed or anxious, to really stop and examine what the root cause is. And then once you have that, to really ask yourself “Is this happening TO me, or is this happening AROUND me?”. And if it’s the former, consider whether you can change it in any way. But if it’s the latter, just acknowledge that it’s happening and move on.
I have been trying to apply that, and it’s really astounding how often the answer turns out to be what’s stressing me out is something that doesn’t actually involve me in any way. It’s a challenge to move on, but when I am able to do so it is really a freeing thing.
The other thing she mentioned was that she’s able to meditate every day for at least five minutes. That was revolutionary to me; I had always thought that meditation needed oh, thirty minutes or so. There had to be candles, and chanting, and all sorts of zen activity. But hearing that it can be effective in increments as small as five minutes. Well, whoa. That was something worth looking into.
With that, I did a little research, talked to a few people, and found a meditation app that had an intro to meditation course, plus a whole collection of various types of guided meditations. I started with the intro and after those initial sessions (I think there are fifteen in all, ranging from 4-10 minutes or so), I have realized that breath meditation seems most effective for me.
So now every morning, after I’ve exercised but before the day really starts, when the house is still quiet, I sit quietly for five minutes or so and fire up the app.
I feel a little calmer, and less anxious in general. And while I still have the knot in my shoulders from time to time, it comes and then it goes.
If that’s all I get out of it, I’m still well ahead of where I was two months ago.
My baby turned six over the weekend.
We had a Scooby Doo party on Saturday
Complete with chocolate chip cookies shaped like dog biscuits (thank you, Pinterest)
And the requisite pinata.
This was the first time he was able to invite school friends, which just about sent him into orbit, he was so excited.
His actual birthday was Sunday, and he wanted to go to Dave & Buster’s for his family field trip. So we did.
And then he wanted taco’s for dinner, so we went to Margarita’s. Which was the point in the weekend that it hit me like a ton of bricks. He’s SIX YEARS OLD. He’s IN KINDERGARTEN. He’s not a baby any more.
And the only thing I could do was weep quietly into my melon margarita.
At work we are in the early stages on 2017 planning. As you’d expect, it involves a lot of “what worked/didn’t work in 2016” and a fair bit of blue-sky thinking.
So it makes sense that I’ve been spending a bit of time thinking about the next few months as it relates to my personal life.
Stuff like figuring out how many people we are hosting for Thanksgiving, finding out what all the kids want for Christmas, remembering to schedule the furnace maintenance (that happened on Monday, actually) and making sure the snowblower is in working order.
You know, making lists and checking things off them.
And in terms of thinking about my own Christmas wish list, which is always sort of a struggle for me, I got to thinking about whether I should ask for a journal for 2017.
There are lots out there, of course. No shortage of blank-page notebooks and formatted planners, lord knows. I find the variety to be kind of intimidating.
Do I want ruled pages or blank? How about dots or grids?
Do I want softcover or hard-bound?
In the past week or so I’ve been poking around the internets and looking at different formats.
Facebook and Instagram notice those sorts of things, as you may know. So journals of all types have been showing up in my various feeds.
I’ve looked at them all. I’ve begun to make a list (yes, another list) of the features of each one that I like. There are a lot of individual features that I like, but no one format has everything I like without also adding a bunch of stuff I don’t need and won’t use.
I’m still tinkering with formats in my little practice journal. For example, next week I’m trying out a weekly summary page in addition to daily pages. I expect that I will continue to adjust and adapt my journaling, not just through the end on 2016, but probably for as long as I keep journaling.
So I’m thinking I’m going to stick with the undated journal-type notebook for 2017.
At least, that’s what I think today.
On Saturday we drove a little bit north, just over the New Hampshire border, and paid a visit to America’s Stonehenge.
It’s about thirty miles from us, but somehow I’d never heard of it until recently.
It is a fascinating place. Parts of it have been dated as far back as 3000 BC, and the site has been built and rebuilt upon until about the 1800’s. By native Americans, by colonial settlers, and who knows who else. Somehow it was forgotten or abandoned, and then rediscovered in the 1930’s. It’s been an active archaeological site more or less since then, and opened to the public in 1958.
There are buildings, walls, wells, a pretty elaborate drainage system, some cave carvings, and a few things that seem to be somehow related to worship – an altar-type table, with a few hidden chambers nearby, etc. Lots of little structures where people inside could see out, but people outside couldn’t see in.
And surrounding the whole thing is a ring of stone walls and, periodically, big standing stones. The standing stones are perfectly aligned to solstice and equinox sunrises and sunsets. Pretty wild stuff, really.
They say the hill was pretty well barren in the olden days, which explains why anyone tried to farm there. The trees around are fairly new (like, 100 years or so), and so the curators keep the sightlines cleared from the central viewing location all the way out to the horizons, it’s a pretty cool thing to see. I took a panoramic photo with my phone, with limited success in capturing the full effect.
We spent nearly two hours there, during which time we probably saw ten other visitors in all.
It was a great way to spend an October afternoon.
I’m happy to say that the autumn has been very mild here so far. We’ve had a few days of rain, but we’ve needed it. We haven’t had to turn on the furnace yet, and the forecast seems to indicate that we won’t need it until at least some time next week. I try to hold out until Columbus Day every year, but usually we cave in around October 1.
But, the days are shorter and the nights are cooler. The car is loaded with dew in the mornings, and I can see my breath when I go out for my 6am run.
It’s getting to be comfort food season.
I’ve been seeing recipes for sheet-pan dinners around for a while now, and it seemed like something worth trying on a busy weeknight. Cut up some produce, toss with olive oil, honey and herbs, and spread them out on a sheetpan with some sweet Italian sausages. Boom. I cut the produce up while the oven was heating, and made my kids’ lunches while it baked.
Easy, Easy, Easy.
A couple of weeks ago I met some close friends for a lovely dinner. We are in pretty constant communication via text and facebook, as most people are these days, but we don’t get together nearly as often as we would like. Which is ridiculous because we all live within five miles of each other.
Then suddenly, out of the clear blue sky, one of them passed away unexpectedly. Nothing puts things in perspective like getting that particular phone call.
I spent most of last week in a haze. A daze. A funk. I was and continue to be shattered.
The wake was Thursday, the funeral was Friday. On Saturday the rest of the group got together for a quick bite and a toast. We were are funny and outrageous and inappropriate as she would have wanted us to be.
And here I am, back at work on Monday. Life goes on, of course. But not quite the same as it did before.
Rest in peace, my friend, and Godspeed.