Sunday, December 26, 2010

Turning the Corner

In my experience, both personally and professionally, things don't tend to change in an instant but very slowly over a long period of time. Occasionally, though, I've experienced or witnessed some kind of psychological/emotional sea change that surprises me. About two weeks ago, a couple of things converged all at once that flooded me with grief, loss, despair, hurt and anger. That was probably one of the two lowest points of the past year and a half or so. It was so primal I couldn't even fully understand what was happening for me. It's like I imploded. 

The real surprise came over the next day or so. I woke up the next morning and felt lighter. I felt liberated from a weight I'd been carrying around in my heart. It doesn't feel like a straightforward change (e.g., that I was worried about something and now I'm not worried any more). It feels like something deeper and more systemic shifted and created a sort of chain reaction. I wondered if the new state would last for long and I'm finding that it actually is. I was concerned about how the holidays would be since it was a year ago today (12/26) that I moved out of our home. Turns out that I've enjoyed the holidays and haven't felt too sad or depressed. It's still on my mind, of course, but I've been doing pretty well!

I still feel pretty calm and more optimistic about the future. I have ideas about how to continue this life transition in ways that will help me grow and reflect more deeply. They mostly center around mindfulness, compassion, creativity and some of the teachings of Pema Chodron. 

She's a Buddhist nun who has written lots of books and has recorded many of her presentations. I first borrowed some CD's (OK - I illegally copied them...) from my sister Sarah some time ago and have finally gotten around to listening to them. I don't ever see myself becoming a real practicing Buddhist but she speaks to me at this time in my life. She talks about the importance of having the courage to experience pain and struggle rather than trying to escape from it. She sees these experiences as opportunities to build wisdom and compassion. 

She also emphasizes the importance of loving kindness toward others and ourselves. It sounds like common sense but actually practicing compassion and loving kindness is really difficult. The way she talks about these things feels very accessible and accepting. It feels a little bit like I'm at such a vulnerable place that I'm ready and open for these ideas. 

In addition, in my field (and many others), there's so much information coming out about how plastic the brain actually is. I think I've had the idea that I can't really change my fate; that the things I haven't liked about myself or have felt are wrong with me can't be changed. More and more, I'm learning that our brains can change. I'm not locked into repeating old patterns and feelings again and again and again. 

I feel empowered by the possibilities these changes are opening up for me. I'm sure I'll have good days and bad. My hope is to be able to develop equanimity -- this is a concept Pema Chodron talks about a lot. I thought I knew what it meant but looked it up to be sure. Equanimity is "mental or emotional stability or composure, esp. under tension or strain." Synonyms are "calm, composed, balanced, tranquil." 

Here are some quotes by Pema Chodron that I especially like right now:
  • Gloriousness and wretchedness need each other. One inspires us, the other softens us.
  • You're the only one who knows when you're using things to protect yourself and keep your ego together and when you're opening and letting things fall apart, letting the world come as it is - working with it rather than struggling against it. You're the only one who knows.
  • Sometimes the completely open heart and mind of bhodichitta is called the soft spot, a place as vulnerable and tender as an open wound. It is equated, in part, with our ability to love. [...] Sometimes this broken heart gives birth to anxiety and panic, sometimes to anger, resentment, and blame. But under the hardness of that armor there is the tenderness of genuine sadness. This is our link with all those who have ever loved. This genuine heart of sadness can teach us great compassion. It can humble us when we're arrogant and soften us when we are unkind. It awakens us when we prefer to sleep and pierces through our indifference. This continual ache of the heart is a blessing that when accepted fully can be shared with all."
A little less than two years ago, I described myself as waking up. It's been such a difficult painful journey but I've maintained my resolve to be awake in my life and to be authentic in my choices; to finally shed the shame that's been my burden for most of my life. I'm hoping that I'm turning a corner; that I'll finally start feeling the peace of mind and even joy that comes with living authentically and without toxic shame.  

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Maddy's Home!!

Went to get Maddy from U.W. on Wednesday and Thursday this week! It's been good to see her. It's about a four and a half hour drive and two and a half of it was very, very foggy:

It actually got better as it got darker because I could see tail lights in front of me when I started getting close to another car. 

It was great to see Maddy although most of the day, I saw this:
She needed to catch up on her sleep since she'd gotten up that morning to take a 7:30am final!! Luckily, we didn't have a wreck -- not sure the seat belt would have been very effective in that position!

Monday, December 20, 2010


Haven't I been through enough already? Fortune cookie wisdom from my lunch a couple of days ago:

Monday, December 13, 2010

New Find

I recently discovered the neatest store here in Champaign. It's called the I.D.E.A. Store and describes itself as:
"A place where artists, educators, recyclers, and friends can find re-use materials for the projects that fill our lives."
It's a non-profit that benefits the local school district. The woman who taught both of the Typography courses I took told me about it several weeks ago so I had always wanted to check it out. On a gloomy, rainy, snowy day this weekend, I stopped by. I really enjoyed it! It's all about creativity and art. I'll be volunteering there after Christmas and I'm really looking forward to helping, playing and meeting some new, interesting people. Can't wait to start! If you're interested, go to the link to the brochure on their website.  

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Peace and Quiet

I'm sitting in the Pittsburgh airport and quite enjoying myself. Spending Thanksgiving at Sarah's was just what I needed. It was wonderful to be around family. As with most larger gatherings, I can sometimes get overstimulated and irritable but this year, things felt just right. I took some alone time when I needed it, didn't force myself to do things I didn't want to do and was able to spend individual time with some of my family. While I'm a little stressed about everything I need to do when I get home, I'm mostly feeling very relaxed and rested.  Here are a few pictures of the fam. 

While I was waiting for my 1pm flight out of Pittsburgh, they asked for a volunteer to take a later flight since they'd oversold the original flight I was on. It was kind of pathetic but I thought, "well, I don't have anything waiting for me at home except a chilly apartment so I'll just hang out in the Pittsburgh airport for a few extra hours." The $250 voucher for my next flight didn't hurt either. I gotta tell you, if you have to be stuck in an airport for a few hours, Pittsburgh's kind of a fun one to be stuck in. It's absolutely empty and very quiet. So...I can do whatever I want! I'm sitting here naked right now, just to see if anyone walks by. 
Before, I walked around to the shops. They have good ones here so it was a bit dangerous. Found a very cute cardigan in the Gap but managed not to buy it. Saw a purse I fell in love with in 9 West but managed not to buy it. Tried on some shoes there too but managed not to buy them. Was tempted by some good smelling unctions at L'Occitane and managed to get out of there with only a few samples on different parts of my arms. It's funny but of the perfumes they had, I preferred the mens cologne.  I almost always do. I think the womens stuff is just too flowery and strong. I wore Lagerfeld in college and over the weekend, got some of the same stuff my brother-in-law wears. Maybe I'm really a man trapped in a woman's body. That could explain the hair growing on my chest.
All I ended up with is a few pairs of socks (or sox as the store name would have it). It was fun to window shop anyway. 

So...I think my plane will be boarding in about 15 minutes so I'll start to gather my things and head to the gate. Hey, they just asked for a volunteer to give up a seat again -- the ante's up - $300! I could go to Hawaii!! Hmmmmmmm....Maybe I'll just travel from airport to airport giving up my seat to pay for the next flight. Naahhhh.
I hope everyone had a great holiday and is feeling rested and ready to get back to work!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Hidden Genius

How did the adults in my life miss the uncultivated artistic talent that I had as a child? In looking through some old pictures my sister had, we found this unbelievable work of art from when I was 4 years old. It was a valentine for my great grandmother.
I think they must have been threatened by my talent. Or maybe they were concerned that the world would be so enamored of my masterpieces that it would chew me up and spit me out before I even grew up. I guess I should be grateful that they protected me! :-) 

Monday, November 22, 2010

Back to the Basics

The holidays are upon us. Except for my annual Thanksgiving cold or sinus infection, I generally really look forward to the holiday season. Thanksgiving is probably my favorite given the particular prominence afforded to one ginormous meal (at least in my family). Favorites -- a forkful of turkey, cranberry sauce, and sweet potato souffle. Any one of these without the others just doesn't taste like Thanksgiving. And then there's the whipped cream to pumpkin pie ratio - 10:1. If I get these two things, I'm a happy camper.

Luckily, my body decided to get its cold a week before Thanksgiving so that by the time I fly to Pittsburgh on Wednesday, the cold will all but have disappeared. I'll get the flu shot on Tuesday afternoon, just to be safe. 

This year is a tough one though because I won't be spending the two central holidays (November 25th and December 25th) with the family I thought I'd be spending every holiday with until I died. The first year of that kind of shift is always the toughest. 

I'm very, very thankful that I have a loving family during these times. I'll be traveling to Sarah's for Thanksgiving and Lisa's for Christmas. It was a little difficult to invite myself to Christmas but I knew I didn't want to wake up alone on Christmas day this year. While I have dear friends who would have gladly included me in their festivities, there's no replacement for being with a family who has known me all or most of my life and will welcome me with love and understanding and a listening ear if I need it. I will miss the time I could have spent with Toby and Maddy while they're here but I just don't feel strong enough yet to weather these holidays alone.  

I'm a big fat sentimental baby so I give a lot of meaning to these kinds of changes and it's very painful for me. What it does remind me of, though, is that I am so lucky to have family (and extended family -- brothers-in-law, nephews, soon to be niece by marriage, brother-in-law's parents) whom I genuinely look forward to spending time with and the means to get to them when I need to the most. I hope you will also be spending your holidays with people you enjoy and love. Even if your heart is breaking.  

Thursday, November 11, 2010


Have I mentioned before how much I love taking art classes? For those of you who haven't taken an art class, in my experience, anyway, they're usually pretty long (3 hours) and there's often "studio" time where the students can work on their pieces while the instructor is there in order to get feedback and guidance. At least I'm assuming that's why they schedule them the way they do. When we're each working on our individual pieces, there's often at least one moment in the class where everyone's quiet and focused. I almost always catch it. The energy is hushed and kind of suspended. I love that moment. 

One of the assignments that spans the semester is what our instructor calls "color observed." We had to find a landscape or other "tableau" that we could observe live. I found this shack. 

I took the picture one day and then went back another day to observe the actual color, pick paper that matches the colors and then put it all together in a pretty picture. It looks different, of course, because the lighting was different and, well, it's a bunch of cut out paper!!

We have to do three of these. I'm hoping I can wait until it snows and do one then. The third one can be anything we want it to be. I might us origami paper or some other patterned paper to do mine. I also thought about getting a bunch of National Geographic and tearing pieces from there. I'm stealing that from Sarah who did an amazing self-portrait using NG mags. Pretty cool! She probably doesn't even remember I have it. I love the naked baby on her jawline.

We're also working on two other projects. They're designed to help us learn about mixing paint. For this one, we were to use one color, black and white and mix them to create a basic geometric piece. The one I haven't finished yet will be with the triads (purple, orange and green) and white, mixing them to create another piece with the same geometric pattern. I know, fascinating, right?! 
Whatever the final products look like (1st grade art?), I'm loving it!!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Wood Type Redux

I made my second trip to Hamilton Wood Type Museum last weekend. It wasn't as fun and new as the first time I went but I'm still glad I made the trip. This time, there was a conference. The drive up was really nice. I took state highways so got to see the countryside more. On the way up through Illinois, I passed through a windmill farm. For some reason, those things fascinate me. I think it's their sheer enormity. The few times I've been anywhere close to a cruise ship, I've had the same reaction. They're just so big! The windmills just seem eerie, surreal, futuristic, foreign, and maybe even a little sinister. 

I stayed at the same kitschy Lighthouse Inn where I stayed before. When I checked in, they told me I'd been upgraded to a lakeside room. I didn't argue! I opened the window a crack so I could hear the waves even though it was a bit chilly outside.
Same sort of out of date slightly weird vibe. Check out the do not disturb sign.  Clean it up NOW, woman!

There were about 80 people at the conference and we were split up into 4 groups and attended 4 separate sessions. As always, I felt extremely shy and awkward around a bunch of people I didn't know. There were a couple of people who were nice to me because I'd met them at the workshop I went to in the summer but they're kind of big whigs in wood type (I know, small pond!) so they were in high demand. I just have such a hard time mingling and approaching people. So...most of the time, I was alone in the crowd. It was lonely at times. Especially the meals. People were friendly enough but had their own groups. Besides, they're all in the field and I'm an outlier since I just do it for fun! How weird is that?

I really enjoyed learning more about wood type and history, though. For people who aren't interested in Wood Type, it may not be so interesting but I thought it was great! One session was by a man from the Newberry Library in Chicago. One of the things that companies who made Wood Type did was create specimen books. These were basically the catalogs they sent to potential customers. Most of them were ok but not particularly artistic. 

One, however, was from a very high end company -- Wm. H. Page & Co. -- whose specimen book was basically an art book. The presenter showed images from this specimen book (of which there are very few and they're very expensive). Here's a blog (by one of the other presenters) where there's an image of one of the letters. An artist also used one of the blocks from the Page company and made prints for those of us attending to have. It's just beautiful!! There's a different block for every color and the artist had to run it through for each color and get it lined up just right. I'd love to have the equipment to play around with this stuff!  

Two of the presenters talked about the history of wood type in Italy. There's a museum in Italy that I would love, love, love to go to called Tipoteca Italiana. The presenter talked about the museum but also talked about the area of Italy it's in. So beautiful!! It's one of those situations where the community of people interested in this stuff is small enough that if I contacted him and let him know I had been at this conference, he would help me as a tourist. Man, that would be so fun...

There's a place in Nashville called Hatch Show Print where they've been doing wood type prints since 1879 and have had a resurgence as modern musicians have used them to print their posters. The guy that runs the place spoke at dinner and he was a major, major narcissist. Yuck. The place seems interesting but jeez, he was full of himself. 

One of the most interesting things about the conference was learning about a font and wood type that were specifically created for the Lushootseed language spoken by the Tulalip Tribes in the Northwest US and into British Columbia. Lushootseed was not a written language until it became less commonly spoken and the people wanted to develop a way to record it so it wouldn't be lost. An alphabet was developed but the tribes were having to use fonts already available like Times New Roman. Because these fonts were not specific to the language, they weren't entirely accurate and they didn't look very pretty which might discourage potential speakers - i.e., younger generations - to want to learn it/read it and to feel pride in it. 

Juliet Shen worked with the Hamilton Wood Type Museum to develop wood type from her font that could be used to educate Tulalip children in Lushootseed at a summer language camp (and beyond). Here's a story about it with some other links. Pretty neat.

If you're still reading, I'm sure your eyes have glazed over, but...the last thing I'll mention is that there was a faculty member from U of Texas who curates the Rob Roy Kelly Collection. The web site is really nice and gives some background about wood type with examples.  

On the way back home, I had a beautiful drive through the Wisconsin countryside on my way to see Maddy in Madison - I guess I can just call it Maddyson from here on out. As always, it was really fun to see her and spend time with her. We had lunch, shopped, went with her and her roommate Katie to the craft store and bead store so they could get some fun projects since neither of them has a car and can't get out for that kind of stuff often. Maddy's learning to crochet and Katie's learning how to knit. The drive home was very long and boring but I survived. It was worth it!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The Zone

I forgot how good it feels to really do a cardio workout!! I thought I was doing enough but last week, I added spinning to my little 5:30am exercise class routine and I can't believe what a difference it makes. I already feel better physically and emotionally. I splurged on a heart rate monitor and I was sad to see that I can't even maintain the aerobic zone I should be able to at my age. It's ok, though -- gives me something to aim for! Feels good to be taking good care of my body. Now if I could only get myself to eat more vegetables. I really don't like most vegetables. Anybody heard of a pure carb/protein/fat diet? Turn me onto it if you have. :-)

Monday, October 18, 2010


The latest creation for my color class. What a blast! I wish I could be a full time art student...


Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Another Try

I've recently (i.e., yesterday) decided that I need to recommit myself to a healthier lifestyle. Generally, I do a pretty good job. I exercise a fair amount these days. I try to get enough sleep. My big issue is eating as a way of coping with difficult feelings and kind of as a form of rebellion. I just feel so deprived when I can't have that chocolate dessert or take a smaller portion than I'm used to. It's like I see it as a dare -- "Yeah...go ahead. Just try to deprive me. I'll show you! I'll have TWO servings of chocolate cake. Ha! So there! As god is my witness, I will never be hungry again!" Well, I just need to get over the drama. I was looking online and found this web site called It was started by this guy who sold software or a website or something that was like ebay to ebay. He became a gazillionaire and decided that he wanted to do something to help people reach their goals -- specifically goals about health and weight loss. 

So this website is a really comprehensive place to get support, ideas, inspiration and practical tools to try to make these changes. I know it's not magic and it really is up to me whether I make the changes or not but I'm hoping that having a frequent reminder of my goals I'll be able to keep it up. It's kind of like a Facebook for healthy living. I know some of you are also interested in healthy lifestyle so thought you might want to know about it. If you sign up, you can just say I told you about it (qualialori is my user name) and I think we'll get friended automatically. 

It's totally free of charge and I haven't been able to see any catch yet. There are advertisements of course but they aren't overly intrusive and don't get in the way of using the site at all. Apparently, this guy has the resources and he really does want to share them. Or...alternatively, he's a sociopath and is lying about that when he really wants to make money and is doing something sinister behind the scenes. I'll go with the former for now.  

Thursday, September 30, 2010


Today was a perfect day for a walk. Cool but sunny. Before work today, I went for my walk around a local park. Felt good to be out and not sweltering. Felt good to stretch my legs. The leaves are starting to change which I love. 
One of the houses on my walk has a great yard with all kinds of plants. I've noticed recently that the woman who tends it has put in these little houses. I wish I could shrink down and live in one of them for the winter. Reminds me of how much I loved the scenes in I Dream of Jeannie when she was in the bottle. I was always so disappointed that they didn't have more scenes of her in there. I wanted my own little bottle to live in. I guess there was something about it that made me think it would be cozy and safe and comfy and contained.  
So...if I disappear as the weather gets colder, don't worry, I'll be back when spring comes. I'll be hibernating most of the winter but feel free to stop by to leave some toothpicks so I can keep my little fire going or to drop off some baby corn or some frosted mini-wheats. Just don't leave any of those high Barbie doll heels. Cute but not practical. I think I'll make my main residence the green house with the red roof.

Friday, September 24, 2010

More Woodtype?!

I'm really excited!! I might be able to go back to Hamilton Wood Type Museum for a three day event. It's called Wayzgoose. Now I just have to figure out if I can afford it or not. It would be so great. Maybe I could skip therapy a few weeks and go to this instead...It's definitely therapeutic. I'll keep you posted...

Sunday, September 19, 2010

The Challenge

Only those who avoid love can avoid grief. The point is to learn from grief and remain vulnerable to love. ~ John Brantner

The most difficult challenge I'm facing right now...If you know how to do this...please...teach me!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Color Playground

I'm really, really enjoying the art class I'm taking this semester. The past few semesters, I've taken classes in the Graphic Design program. This semester, I decided to take a class in the Fine Arts department. The whole class is about color. In the first few weeks, I've already learned so much. I think my happiest times right now are when I'm in class or working on pieces for the class. 

It's hard to explain what all we're learning but mostly so far, it's about how all color is contextual. It's about seeing the more subtle aspects of color. You may see a piece of paper that looks gray but if you put that gray paper on a red field of color, it will look "cooler" and maybe a little green. If you put that same piece of gray paper on a blue field of color, it will look "warmer" and maybe even a little reddish. So...the colors we see are often more about how our eyes and brains interpret them than they are about what's "objectively" there. It's so cool because once that becomes clear, the possibilities of working with color are so much more complex. Is that cool or what?! 

One of the people who's most famous in color studies is Josef Albers. He did a bunch of experiments with color and created various exercises to lay out more specifically how color behaves. You can play around with some interactive exercises here. It's fun! You can see more of his art here.

Now that you've seen an expert's results, here are my virgin attempts to "get it." It's harder than it looks! 

In the exercise below, the idea was to create the illusion that the small inner boxes are actually two colors when they're the same color. The right one should look darker than the left one and even a little deeper, darker gray but they're actually the same color.

In this exercise, we were to make the X on the right look like the background color on the left and the X on the left look like the background color on the right. The color the X's are made from is the same, though. The effect doesn't show up much in this photo...

In this exercise, the goal was to create the look of transparency when two colors overlapped. I'm not sure how successful I was at the lesson (i.e., that they really look like they're transparent and one's showing through the other) but the instructor and class really loved it! They thought the overlap between the S and the P was too dark so I might mess with that more. Wish I wouldn't have cramped the letters so much.   
I feel really grateful that I have the resources and the energy to be able to play with art. I hope I always want to learn, explore and take risks to create.  

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Damn pole! >:-/

How many years have I worked in this office building and parked my car without incident in the parking garage? Five years you say?! So how is it that I managed to park by a pole yesterday that jumped into the side of my car as I was pulling out of my space? 

A client once told me that she banged the side of her car on one of the poles in our garage and if I'm honest with myself and with you (my public) my thought was "How is that possible? She must be a pretty bad driver." 

Well, now I know that the poles in this garage are sadistic. When they've lulled you into the sense that you're safe; that they'll stay put and let you pull right out of your space without accosting you, that's when they go in for the kill. Can you believe this? How is this possible? Now I have to decide whether to spend hundreds of dollars to get the repairs done. I think the paint's scraped off enough in one place that if I don't, it'll start rusting. Think RustOleum would do the trick? Ugh. Calgon, take me away.


Friday, September 3, 2010

Finally... was cool enough and unhumid(?) enough that I could take a walk outside during the work day! It felt so good to be outside and enjoy the weather. 

I think I'll be spending a lot of time alone this weekend. My security blanket is in Argentina visiting her son! The nerve. Who's going to keep me entertained on the weekend? I have lots of art projects to work on. Finishing the paintings for my living room. Assignment for my art class. This semester, Norma and I are taking a class on color. Yes. A whole semester focused on color. Awesome!!  

I'm also going to look at some listings my realtor sent me. I've decided to buy a condo. I know I'm a big baby but I just can't stand living in this apartment. I feel like an undergrad again. If I were to rent a nicer place, I might as well buy something. So...that's what I'm going to try to do. I feel much less depressed knowing that I won't be the cat lady living alone in the same apartment for 30 years. I'll be the cat lady living alone in the condo she OWNS for thirty years. So much better. 

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Maddy in Madison

I had the pleasure of taking Maddy to college last Friday and wanted to post some pictures of our trip! Maddy was very gracious in humoring me when I kept taking pictures. As always, it was great to travel with her. University of Wisconsin has a beautiful campus. 

We pulled up to her dorm and several "Badger Buddies" in red shirts helped unload the car and take everything upstairs. All done in about 15 minutes. I don't remember anything like that when I moved into the dorms!! We were on our own...

We left Champaign in the morning. Maddy said good-bye to flat, flat Illinois ("flat and fertile" as one local t-shirt would have it). 
The Subaru was packed full! This was basically my view through the rearview mirror.

Flatness as far as the eye can see.
She looks a little too happy to be leaving, doesn't she?!
On the way, we stopped in Janesville, WI to have lunch at Olive Garden - love the salad and breadsticks! 

I was only away for one night but it felt like a lot longer -- in a good way! We moved Maddy in pretty quickly, went to Target and then got her more settled. Her roommate, Katie, was there and seems like a very nice young woman. Here's a 360 of her room:

This is Katie.
This is Maddy again.
She and Maddy decorated it later that day so it looks even better! While Maddy was at her first house meeting Friday evening, I went for a walk along the lake. Maddy's dorm is right next to the lake so it's an amazing location. The path by the lake was very nice. Bikers, walkers, runners, strollers, etc. It was so nice to see people out.
This is right outside Maddy's dorm. See the sailboats in the distance?! Incredible location.
Here's a closer look down the path from her dorm.
View through the trees along the path.
This is where the University starts to come right out to the lake. The union is at the second pier in the distance.
After Maddy's meeting, we went to State St. for a yummy Mexican meal at Casa de Lara
Maddy was hungry!!
Enchilada clean plate club.
 Took a bit of an unplanned self-guided walking tour of campus since there was so much construction and we weren't sure about the fastest way back to the dorm. Got Maddy there and then I went to the hotel for the night. Next morning, breakfast at Sunroom Cafe on State St. Delish. 
Good hair day isn't it? Rested and eating a breakfast burrito (I think).
Walked around State St. and the Saturday market for a while. Mostly, I was surprised at how uncrowded things were. Even moving in. The market, though, was packed with people. Maddy started mooing at one point saying she felt like she was in a herd of cattle. We didn't stay there for long. 

Made our way to a Trader Joe's on Monroe St. where Maddy stocked up on snacks and other goodies. Had some great pizza at Pizza Brutta. It was a really fun little place. After lunch, we went back to Maddy's dorm and walked over to the Babcock Dairy Store  for ice cream which is made by the Dairy at the University. Maddy hopes to be able to learn from a master cheese maker. Where else but Wisconsin?! I guess she'll have to learn how to make beer too. 

After ice cream, it was time for me to say good-bye. It was hard to leave Maddy there but also exciting that she's starting a new semester in a place I think she'll really like. Seems like a great fit for her. 

Bye, Mad...We'll miss you!!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Things Can Only Get Better, Right?

Not a very good start to the day. 

I found this floating in the toilet of my guest bathroom.

House centipedes creep me out almost more than any spider or insect or mouse. I can't stand how fast they run and how many legs they have. Ew, ew, ew, ew, ew. This is the second one I've found in the past few days. The other one had somehow gotten its head stuck in one of the little holes in the drain in my shower and couldn't get out. A friend of mine told me any time there's a head stuck in something, I should call the emergency people. I wish I would have. I won't describe what happened when I used a tissue to try to pull it out. You do not want to know. 

After I felt extreme guilt for seeing the critter frantically wave its legs around in the water as it was sucked into oblivion, I got out to my car and saw that I had an almost flat tire. Went to the shop and waited one and a half hours for my tire to be fixed! I had a nail in one tire and another was "leaking at the bead" whatever that means. Sounds uncomfortable...The good news is that they didn't charge me anything!

The rest of the day isn't too threatening but I'm cranky, bitter and angry so think twice if you wanted to get in touch with me today. I know normally I'm a sweetheart (I AM!) but right now I'm trying to stay out of people's way when I can. Luckily, I'm almost always able to dig up some empathy for my clients. Us common human beings, though, not so sure. I'm probably worse to myself than anyone else, though, so take heart. I guess I can identify with the house centipede as the funnel of water sucked it into an unknown future. I just wish I knew who was doing the flushing!! I'm sure I'll feel better tomorrow....or the next day...or...  

Saturday, August 21, 2010

I am not a mechanism, an assembly of various sections.
And it is not because the mechanism is working wrongly
that I am ill.
I am ill because of wounds to the soul,
to the deep emotional self
and the wounds to the soul take a long, long time,
only time can help and patience,
and a certain difficult repentance
long difficult repentance, realization of life's mistake,
and the freeing oneself 
from the endless repetition of the mistake
which mankind at large has chosen to sanctify.

--- D.H. Lawrence

I think I'm about to free myself from some of this endless repetition! Another turning point. 

Tuesday, August 17, 2010


Solitude is fine, but you need someone to tell you that solitude is fine.   -- Honore de Balzac

For you youngsters reading this entry, I need to tell you about the "old days." In the old days, we had something called file cabinets. In these file cabinets, we kept paper files, we saved every original because that was the only way to keep a record. If we got a copy of an article, we kept it because we had walked all the way to the library, looked it up in a card catalog and stood at the copy machine for hours at a time in order to copy every page of that article. No online access in the old days. 

One of the down sides of this record keeping format is that it takes up scads of space -- not bytes but inches, feet, yards. One of the things I'm being forced to do as I have less and less storage space in my life, is to cull my boxes and boxes of work files into more manageable linear footage. I suppose I could scan all these files and keep them on the computer like the kids today do but the idea of spending hours and hours at the scanner feels more unpleasant than piling the files on the side of my bed that's not being used. At least it wouldn't feel so empty! Hopefully it won't come to that. It could lead to some pretty ugly paper cuts. Can you believe that I found transparencies among my files?! Seriously. Transparencies. I need to ask Maddy if she even knows what a transparency is. 

Anyway, one of the things I found among these old files was one that was labeled "gifts." In this file were several dozens of cards written to me by clients, supervisees and, sometimes, colleagues over the years when I worked at the Counseling Center. I went through and read every one of them. I couldn't have found these at a better time. 

That people took the time to write a note to let me know that I'd made a difference in their lives somehow and that I was appreciated was so touching to me. It was quite an ego boost during an evening I've been feeling down and lonely. One of the cards had the Balzac saying I started this post with. I no longer remember the context of the quote in terms of the client's work with me but I'm sure it had a special meaning to her. 

One of the things I'm curious about is that I don't really get cards any more from clients any more. I stopped getting them a few years before I left the Counseling Center. I wonder what happened. Was I not as helpful to people because so much else was going on in my life or because I got burned out? Did people just stop writing thank you cards in our culture in general? Once I started in private practice, did people feel that paying me for my services was thank you enough? 

I certainly don't expect a special card for everything I do but I was struck by the difference between now and then. It's not that people don't express their appreciation. It just seems to happen in ways that are more transitory - a verbal comment or an email. I'm not sure there's anything to do with this observation. Just something I noticed. I used to be great at putting the little bit of extra effort in writing a card to someone. I, too, have let the lovely gesture of the unexpected thank you note fall to the wayside. 

I'd like to say that I'm going to commit myself to doing more of that but in truth, I don't think I will. I'm tired and busy and mildly (sometimes significantly) depressed about the state of the world around me just like everyone else so I don't know that I have the energy for it. Maybe it's just late and I'm tired and a little more depressed than usual but the world does seem like a more cynical, less grateful place these days. I'll just hold on to the "gifts" I received in the past and will use them as a reminder that there is appreciation out there whether it's written or not and, one day, when I have the energy again (which I hope I will) I'll begin to let people know in this lovely way how much I appreciate them.  

Monday, August 16, 2010

Lovely Morning

Wow. It's been a while since I posted. I've had thoughts about some postings like "Is My Body Supposed to Be Doing This?" -- meaning, falling apart! I just can't work out and be active like I used to be. My joints ache, I don't get strong as quickly, etc. It's such a cruel irony that while our wisdom and comfort with ourselves seems to increase over the years (well, for most of us, I think) our physical selves deteriorate. Some weird universal balance? 

Tonight, I wanted to write about how lovely it was this morning. I'm sitting in my living room now with the screen door open, hearing the crickets. Earlier the katydids (or locusts? not sure which we have here) were making their racket. It's odd, too, I can just slightly hear the interstate which isn't horribly far away and it's actually kind of comforting. Maybe because when I was a child, our house wasn't too far from I-55 (Festus, MO). It must just remind me of childhood when we would play outside for hours and hours, well into dark and would hear the same sound. 

In the morning, I sat on my little patio and had breakfast. For a while after that, I just enjoyed the fact that my skin wasn't melting off my body. This summer has been brutal. I really, really dislike the heat and can't remember the last time I looked forward to fall (and maybe even winter) so much. Remind me I said that when I'm complaining about the rain and the wind and, eventually, the snow. I feel like I'm living in a tree house up here. I'm including some photos of the view from where I was sitting on my balcony. Much better than the last place! 

Other random things:
Maddy invited me to go see her friend Claire play at a coffee house in town. It was really great! Claire also showed up in one of my previous posts (with photo). 

I Went to Chicago last weekend with Norma. Doing the girlie thing -- we went to the Bobbi Brown make-up counter. I now have flawless looking skin, a healthy pink glow, huge eyes, and, you heard it here first, eyebrows! At least I have all these when I spend time in the morning putting them on my face. 

I walked around Lincoln Park while Norma and Don went to see a play at Steppenwolf. It was a great day! I also talked to my sister Lisa because it was her birthday. She was having a good day so that made me happy too. Here's a view of Lincoln Park -- you can see the Sears Tower (or whatever it's called now) right below the far, far street lamp. 

Finally, would this make the coolest painting or what? It was the reflection on the wall above my fireplace one morning. My hands were itching to grab a pencil and trace the patterns on the wall so I could paint it directly there but since this is a rental, I'll have to content myself with creating something separate. I'm not sure why it has that double exposure look. The shapes are from my balcony (sometimes the architecture of this place reminds me of a ski resort). The sunlight passed through a sliding glass door so maybe the angles of refraction on each of the doors made a difference. Who knows? I just made that refraction bit up. Sounded good. 

Those are all of my odds and ends from the past few weeks! As you can see, my life has calmed down considerably.