Apr 20, 2010

Foregone conclusions, aren't.

Silver Linings:
1. A happy family weekend spent just winging it. A breather from scheduled 'fun'.
2. Lunch outdoors in the sun with friends from work.
3. Successful inauguration of the potty (tho it looks like we might blow the diaper savings on potty bribes!)

Oyon-isms (new category):
1. Chasing a bee with a Dandelion bloom, yelling "Come drink your connector!"
2. On my whispering something to him in a restaurant, "You don't have to whisker Mamma, just use your indoor voice".

Lessons Learnt:
Forgone conclusions, aren't.
I firmly turned my back on sports as a child when my horrendous lack of coordination not only became evident but persisted beyond the rigorous efforts of PE teachers at school. Easier to reject than be rejected, especially at the age where your self-esteem is scrabbling for a foothold and being 'good' at things provides critical traction.
Two decades later in my 30s, those dispirited fogs of failure somehow rolled back just enough to make me first, re-mount a bicycle then, reach for a badminton racket. I should add that both efforts were significantly  effected by the subtle coaxing of an athletic husband who was undoubtedly chafing under the domestic limitations thrust upon our weekends by my foregone conclusions. My low expectations and desire to have some fun helped also to reach the shocking revelation that our abilities can quietly grow and outpace both Time and the mental barriers we put before them.
There's still nothing of an athlete in me but I surprise myself by wobbling along on short bike rides without incident, playing through beginners badminton games and at last nights 'Beginners Tennis' lesson, hitting more than missing. And ENJOYING it all.
Foregone conclusion, are'nt.

Apr 15, 2010

Dependable comforts

Silver Linings:
1. Sneak peek at a smartly dressed commuter's heels - peeking out through her holey socks!
2. Evidence that freinds are reading this blog. (Thanks for the comments!)
3. "Love....was'nt meant to provide immunity from fate or grief or pain....But what it does is throw us into the midst of life with the best intentions possible; give us courage, passion, hope.." from 'The Flirt' by Kathleen Tessaro.

Lessons Learnt:
Dependable comforts are good on bad days.
Spring allergies have been in the air and by mid-day yesterday my sinuses finally gave up the fight. Calling it quits and returning home at 2 pm was a smart move: a dark room and bed was smarter still and did much for the pounding head and aching eyes. Nicer still was letting hubby pick-up dinner/put O to bed etc. and turning to a rerun of 'Freinds' for some more relief. Dependable comforts are good on a bad day.

Apr 14, 2010

Honest self-appraisals

Silver Linings:
1. Curried cauliflower pie for dinner (tastes much better than it sounds).
2. Watching 'Castaway' in bed.
3. Sleeping in until 7:30 AM.

Lessons Learnt:
Honest self-appraisals, regardless of repurcussions.
The media has recently rallied around a 7 yr old adopted boy who was returned to his native Russia because of severe behavioral problems that they were previously unaware of. Discussing the responsibilities of parenthood with co-workers led me to articulate for the first time how important self-appraisals can be.

The popular opinion is that when you opt to parent (as adoptive parents do even more consciously than accidental, biological ones), you should be prepared for all the attendant challenges. Even the unexpected ones. My thought is that entry into parenthood should start with an honest self-appraisal of capabilities. Not everyone has the mental or physical resources to undertake challenges and pretending otherwise is by far more unfair to the child. These adoptive parents did not opt to parent a disturbed child: that they recognized their limits is a good thing in my book. That they reneged so completely on their promise for a better future for the child is however, a crime. In these times of media power, I find it hard to believe that there was no possibility of finding to find alternate custody for this child and spare him the trauma of rejection and the return to the dismal conditions he'd just left. I fault the parents in this piece of news for returning their child to Russia where prospects are limited....they should have looked harder for other options to deliver the better life they promised the child. But I do not fault them for balking at the prospect of parenting a difficult child.

I do not agree that the overriding problem with adoption or even with our collective societal outlook is that we’re too quick to quit. It's that we choose to live in denial and blunder about doing damage to everyone in the process. Isn’t it more important to actually do the right thing than just appear to be doing the right thing?

Apr 13, 2010

The lesser of 2 evils

Silver Linings:
1. Regrouting parts of the shower tiles. Something satisfying about creating neat, continous lines.
2. Hearing from a close friend after many years and re-discovering that familiar, almost forgotten voice. Nothing like old freinds to make you feel valued.
3. An unasked-for, half-asleep hug from hubby in the wee hours of the night as I tossed and turned in sleeplessness. Talk about feeling valued.

Lessons Learnt:
The lesser of two evils isn't that evil.
In a discussion that was quickly descending into a negative, pointless argument, pausing in silence for a few beats seemed to somewhat alter the outcome. Angry judgements were probably still made internally on all sides and the annoyance that inevitably accompanies a degenerated discussion, similarly harbored. But a period of tongue-biting silence (even a resentful one) seemed to help achieve a faster recovery back to civility. For better or for worse, a squabble was averted.

Well articulated disagreements between calm, receptive people might further the cause of mutual understanding but squabbling is a senseless knee-jerk reaction that can only add to dysfunction. Seldom is any insight gleaned from it while the accusatory, negative tone in the airing of mutual annoyance successfully cancels out any possible cathartic value.

Turning away from an argument (in a personal relationship) has always reeked of escapism and scared me with the potential for deep misunderstanding as motivations and meanings are unclarified by the one person, and misread by the other. It's beginning to dawn on me now that this sort of escapist silence has its virtues too. An unfiltered expressed of irritation possibly has a greater attritional effecton a relationship than the potential deepening of misunderstandings. This lesser of two evils is most likley far less 'evil' than I imagine it to be.

Apr 9, 2010

Suspended animation saps

Silver Linings:
1.  Playing a spelling game at 6:30 am (with 3.5 yr old O)
2.  Wearing sandals for the first time this year. Comfortable and an utterly happy red.
3.  Coffee without sugar. Something I thought I absolutely couldn't do without turns out to be entirely dispensable. What more am I capable of?

Lessons Learnt:
Suspended animation saps
This has been a week of difficult evenings. Hours of supposed freedom have passed like slow moving sludge and exuded a matching miasma. I'm guessing this is Tagore's 'dreary desert sand of dead habit'. Daily chores are inevitable and the accompanying suspension of thought is probably a move in self-preservation, but they need to be followed by some shaking-up at days end. A conscious re-framing of mood and thoughts so each of us can move out of our usual all-consuming roles and just Be. It's admittedly easier to slouch around inside the bubbles that our respective days create, succumbing to the lack of motivation or energy to emerge from it.
It's equally clear that this kind of suspended animation, saps. Next week, the effort will be to be mindful about shaping each evening.

Apr 8, 2010

Digging for true cause

Silver Linings:
1. Including today, I woke up on time 4 mornings in a row and fetched coffee for hubby instead of the other way around as is typical. MAJOR victory, considering my track record.
2. Crisp spring breeze and golden sunshine at 7:20 am while waiting for my train to work.
3. The morning news on public radio informs me that China might just adjust currency strength with positive repurcussions on US national loans to the country. Although I suspect this scenario is too good to hold true to the end, it's a positive note to focus on.
4. From 'Life of Pi' by Yann Martel:
I can well imagine an atheist's last words: "White, white! L-L-Love! My God!" - and the deathbed leap of faith. Whereas the agnostic, if he stays true to his reasonable self, if he stays beholden to dry, yeastless factuality, might try to explain the warm light bathing him by saying, 'Possibly a f-f-failng oxygenation of the b-b-brain," and, to the very end, lack imagination and miss the better story. (p.64)

I don't think much of the book or his spiritual quests but this idea fits my views well. Not the derision of Agnosticism but the thought that voluntary excercising of your imagination can let you make choices that soften unavoidable realities as well as that bitter crust that develops on cynicism if allowed to develop unchecked. If your'e sure you can't change things, you can at least make them more palatable. It might sound like Denial, but let's call it "creative, selective truth" - a constructive tool when wielded in the right time and place.

Lessons learnt:
Unease about myself can lead to a subconscious invention of problems.
Case in point: felt guilty about an unhealthy breakfast yesterday morning and ended up feeling sulky about the evening being lonely and boring. Blamed my uninteresting life, introvert husband, chores and even spring allergies. In the clear light of day, it turns out none of the above were significant: I was just still feeling bad about my dietary trespass.

So the next time I'm internally (sometimes unknowingly) fretting about how sad I feel, I could dig a little deeper right then to articulate to myself why I'm sad. Then I should see if my reasons are valid. I might be able to avoid unnecessary blame-appointing and perhaps uncover a good day from under the muck I needlessly heaped on top of it.

Apr 7, 2010

Suspending, mid-flight

Silver linings:
1. Walked the mile to the commuter rail station for my daily commute. Revelled in how strong and alive my legs felt. I might be hosting  too many extra pounds and too little muscle tone but I have life left in me yet. Lots.
2. Thoroughly enjoyed listening to foot tapping numbers by ‘Bhoomi’ on my new mp3 player on the walk back home. I had forgotten about the restorative powers of a thought-erasing beat. (Thanks hubby)
3. The tarka daal for dinner tasted like real tarka so maybe I’ve finally nailed this fav recipe. (Thanks Indrani.)
4. Signed up for beginners tennis lessons. Have’nt learnt a new skill in a long time so this will be fun, no matter what my aptitude for the sport turns out to be.

Lessons learnt:
Negative thoughts can be suspended in mid-flight:
When my suggestion about a project was turned down in a coversation, I found myself immediately bristling and started finding derogatory reasons why the other person was shooting down my hard work and reasoning. I managed to suspend all thought on the matter at this moment of awareness and distracted myself with other things. When I revisited the issue the following morning in a calmer, clearer frame of mind, I was able to consider that he might have had other reasons other than a blinding bias against me and that my knee-jerk reaction was purely based on history, not any evidence from that day in particular. This is what happens when I let the past color instead of inform the present. Giving him the benefit of doubt felt far better than assuming the worst too.

Mistaken conclusion and negative memory averted.

Begin mindful of this entire thought/reaction process might be key in claiming  happiness. I need to ensure that I’m being fully reasonable and fair before demanding that from others.  Others need to be as mindful of me as I am of them, but the cycle needs to start with me. There's also the faint hope that if I am in better control of my own thoughts and reactions, it will come to matter less how others treat me. .

So my lesson learnt.....I may not be self aware enough to prevent negative thoughts and judgements from materialising altogether (yet) but can still stop them before they do much damage. That's almost a better power to have than averting negative thought altogether. If I can master this, I'm golden.

First post

I'm lucky to have insightful, thoughtful friends who have from time to time helped me defuse vision darkening despair.
- Dar reminded me that we each have to choose to be happy.
- ASub and Suj have encouraged me to catalogue positive events daily to counter the inevitable soul sucking and depression inducing ones.
- DoAlex has explained to me the critical difference between being responsible 'for' and 'to' others.
- Jay introduced me to the thought that I will attract the feelings I send out.
- Fi has shocked me with the idea that you have to be greedy for happiness to get it.
- Tammy has always demonstrated how you can 'just let it go'.
- V'ee, Sof and RaBa have always just helped me Be.

Doing all of the above publicly and bloggily (what a happy sounding word!) is my way of trying to stay this game. The posts will be banal at best and tediously introspective at worst so this is not a promise of entertainment. The hope is squeeze a few drops of light out of every day and while I’m at it, to glean some personal insight where possible.

If you've ever made fun of blogs where people post their breakfast menu, this is the time to surf away. Else read on and 'comment' away (and no self-editing please).

(And stay tuned for my other blog where I do my real thinking.)