Feeling Lazy

cat

Lately I’ve been feeling lazy. Well, lazy in the sense that I’m not constantly doing something. That’s not right either, I am doing something, I’m just not doing what I consider productive by society’s standards. I definitely have not been writing much. I am watching lots of old television shows on Netflix, reading, playing with my critters, napping, and going for short walks.

I guess I’m used to always doing something. When I lived in Southern California, I belonged to a writing group and volunteered at the infusion center two days a week. I grocery shopped, walked my dogs, talked to my neighbor. I was more social than I am now. That could be because I no longer live in a large city. My closest neighbors are pine trees, a squirrel and variety of butterflies. There are deer roaming the area but they mostly come out after dusk and the only way I know they came by is by the deer poop they left on my driveway.  This is probably the first time I have lots of free time to do whatever I want and maybe I’m feeling a bit lost.

I could write more, but I don’t. Maybe I’m experiencing writer’s block.

funny-pictures-cat-has-writers-block

Maybe I’m enjoying just hanging out. Most of my life, I was busy…too busy! I had no time for myself and I was exhausted most of the time. I’d feel to guilty sitting around for an afternoon doing nothing. There were too many thing needing to be done. I was a wife, a mom and an employee. There was no time to sit still.

I’m still a wife, although to a different husband. My son is grown and doing his own thing. I don’t work outside the home right now, so there really isn’t anything that needs to be done right now, outside of house cleaning, but since I figured out that Martha Stewart isn’t visiting anytime soon, I can be more lax about that.

As I write this, I look around and see my fur babies napping. They do this about twenty hours a day. I don’t think they’re thinking, “I sure feel lazy. Why aren’t I more productive?” No, they look pretty content to me. Maybe I would do better following their example and just be content doing what I’m doing, which at the moment is writing this post. Instead of wondering if I’m lazy, I’ll look at this time as my time to just “be”.

There’s quite a bit of Buddhist articles about the art of hanging out. Actually they probably mean meditating and living in the present moment. I don’t think what I’m doing could be considered the same thing…or maybe it is. I often tell myself, I am enjoying my life exactly the way it is and I think that’s a good thing. Buddhism is also big on gratitude and living simply. I am definitely doing both. There was a time I never felt content. What little “free time” I did have, I spent shopping. There was always something else I wanted to buy. I didn’t feel satisfied or grateful for what I already had. Now I enjoy everything I have and even keep a gratitude journal.

a1a9f29950de69026ec0385a64f77dea

So I’ve decided right here, right now to stop wondering if I’m productive enough and just enjoy the day.

How do you spend your free time?

Namaste,
ingebird

Advertisements

Solitude

waitresstakingorderfromwoman

For most of my life, I thought of myself as an extrovert. Most of my jobs were in restaurants where I talked to people all day long. I preferred working in small diners who had regulars who came in to eat and I got to know their life stories. When I was in my twenties, I spent time in discotheques most weekends (it was the late seventies) dancing for hours. I went to gay clubs because they played the best dance music and I could dance by myself and no one cared (people in straight clubs prefer dancing with a partner and in gay clubs, lots of people danced alone). I was never one for going to parties though. I found them boring and I didn’t like talking to people who I didn’t know. It just felt shallow to me. But! That’s not completely correct either, if it was a small gathering and I knew most of the guests, I could act silly. I did enjoy that!

I liked going to movies and eating in restaurants alone. If I did go with someone, it was usually a date or a friend, but never a group. I liked being in public as long as I didn’t have too much interaction with people. I liked spending time alone when I wasn’t working. It never occurred to me that I was an introvert (some might call it a social introvert) because I’m never completely alone, I always have four-legged companions and like I mentioned, I worked in the service industry.

It was about a year ago that I noticed my behavior. Hubby and I were still living in the condominium and I started avoiding the neighbors when I was out in the complex walking my dogs, especially those neighbors who talked my ear off about their personal problems. If I did run into someone, I gave him or her a quick “hello” but never asked that question we all ask, but never really want to know the answer — “How are you?” I learned asking that question opened me up to all sorts of information I didn’t want to know. It was easier to avoid people — unless they were walking their dog, then I could focus on their pooch, and by focus, I mean talk directly to their pooch.

I can’t remember where I found the online test to see if I was an introvert, extrovert or somewhere in between, but after I took it, my score was much higher on the introvert scale. Then I began reading more about introverts and I related to everything. You may think, who cares if you are introverted or extroverted? Well, I do only because most of my life, I never felt like I “fit in” anywhere. It’s not like I have a need to fit in, but its nice to know why I do the things I do. I just thought I was antisocial and sometimes plain rude, but now I know I have certain needs so I can feel balanced. I need time to recharge after I’m with a group of people or even an extra “chatty” person.  Before, I would go places out of obligation and then be crabby for long periods. Doing things because I thought I had to, made me feel stressed. Now I understand my behavior and I can take care of my needs without feeling guilty.

3469492d5379fa01ee72ff65b5142b5a

Since we moved to the country, I don’t have to worry about running into people when I’m out for a walk. Waving at a neighbor driving by is about as social as it gets. (Maybe they’re introverts too and that’s why they live here. Hmmm. Maybe I’ll research that).

The other day we Skyped with a relative who lives in Europe. She lives in a large city and like a lot of Europeans, she shops for food several times a week. She’s used to going out in public and (I’m guessing) enjoys the interactions. When she found out I do a major food shopping run once a month and leave our property only once a week, sometimes every two weeks, she sounded surprised. She seemed to feel sorry for me so I said, “I enjoy time alone. I don’t get distracted and I can focus on writing and reading and contemplating.”  And that is absolutely true –except I can be distracted by the Internet. There are so many authors (famous and regular people like me) who write such fascinating, thought provoking posts, I get lost in their words for hours. Before social media, I was limited to what was in the library and in the local bookstores, now my Goodreads reading list is over fifty books and growing!

The way I look at, I’m on a long term writing retreat. We’ll see where it takes me…

Namaste,

ingebirds

 

 

 

My Writing Critique Class

writers-group-570x230

Writing is something I’ve always enjoyed doing, whether it was writing a short story or keeping a journal. Two years ago I decided to write a memoir of sorts, about my journey through cancer. I wanted to share my story with others who were newly diagnosed, in order to give them hope; including what I did that brought me back to wellness.

Around that same time, I found out my local senior center offered a free writing critique class that included a retired English teacher named Barbara, who corrected our grammar! How lucky is that? When I joined, there were already around twenty members who had been meeting weekly (some as long as ten years!). Most of my classmates were there writing their own memoirs hoping to pass them down to their grandkids. Some were poets and others were already published in periodicals. A few of them never wrote anything and I think they showed up just to socialize. Most of the members were in their seventies.

Six months ago I stopped going. My teacher who just turned ninety-two got sick and we had a replacement. The new teacher had her own way of running our group and that’s OK, but I didn’t resonate with her, so I dropped out. The original teacher came back three months later but by then I lost interest. I even stopped writing my book. Luckily Ron, a classmate sent me emails about what was happening in our group and on occasion would tell me that I was missed.

Today I went back with the intention of saying “good-bye” because I’m moving four hundred miles away and probably won’t come back (although I’ve learned to never say never). There were also two books I borrowed from classmates and I wanted to return them, although neither of the women who loaned me the books were there today.

A funny thing happened when I showed up to the room I spent so much time in; I felt a great sense of sadness wash over me. I didn’t expect that since I pride myself on not getting to close to people… emotionally, that is. I got mixed up about what time class started and arrived an hour too early. Ron was there setting up the refreshments. He was happy to see me, so we sat and chatted for a while waiting for the others to show up. As each one arrived, they too were delighted to see me and I was happy to see them. It wasn’t until then, that I realized how much I missed the class… and most of all my classmates.

How could I have stayed away so long? Why didn’t I go back as soon as I learned Barbara had returned? I don’t have the answers but I wish I had gone back sooner. Six months is a long time, especially when you get older. Since I got sick, time is something I think about a lot. (Do I really want to spend my time doing this or that? Or, do I want to spend time with this person who I don’t have anything in common with?)

Today I discovered I really enjoyed spending time with these people and apparently they feel the same about me.

I don’t know exactly how long I’ll be here in this city, since we don’t have a new place to live yet. (I wrote about us moving in an earlier post). Hubby has been gone a week, working in the new town and I’m here alone with my pets. I’m self-proclaimed introvert but maybe not as introverted as I thought. I do like company, especially my husband’s and today I figured out I liked the company of my classmates, so as long as I’m still here, I will continue going to class.

Namaste,

ingebird

 

Cat Fur and Laptops

computer cat

Tuesday night Annie (my laptop) went on the fritz, so Wednesday morning I brought her in to get checked out at the tech gadget hospital. She ended up staying overnight. Luckily, it wasn’t anything major, like that dreaded blue screen problem I had with another laptop several years ago. Apparently, cat fur is able to get into the inner workings of a computer and if there is enough of it, it will clog up the thingys that make it work. The tech doctor gave Annie a good cleaning under her hood and I am now back in business.

While I was waiting to pick her up, 3 people in line ahead me were bringing in their Smartphones to be fixed. I found out the majority of the tech gadget hospital’s revenue is made from people dropping their Smartphones in water (lately swimming pools). What dipshit brings their Smartphone in the pool? Apparently, at least these 3 people did. I am working on not judging others, but sometimes I have to roll my eyes.

Being without access to social media for almost forty-eight hours wasn’t that hard and it gave me a chance to think about, how much time I spend reading other people’s blogs, tweeting, checking email, snooping around Facebook and Pinterest. I spend way too much time on Pinterest!

When personal computers and cell phones first came out, I said I would never get either one. I did just get rid of my flip phone a few months ago and went back to a landline, but my Annie is staying. I use her for everything and she helps me continue writing. Everyday I either blog, write essays or rewrite my book. If I had to do it with pen and paper my fingers would have worn out long ago. Annie helps me be a better writer along with her friend Ms. Spellcheck.

The Internet introduced me to other writers, famous and some not so much, all of whom I would never have known. It also turned me on to Buddhism and many of it’s teachers (this is a shortlist); Thich Nhat Hahn, Alan Watts, Ram Dass, Chris Grosso and Brad Warner. YouTube gives me front row seats to lectures about Buddhism, spirituality and contemporary philosophy. I could never have learned as much as I have in such a short time before the Internet. Libraries are still one of my favorite places to hang out (second to cemeteries) but there’s nothing better than sitting in my living room, alongside my cats, whose fur will eventually clog up my laptop again.

That being said, taking a break from Annie gave me a chance to put all the Buddhist and spiritual teachings I learned into practice. I spent more time outdoors, played with my cats and actually cleaned my patio. I spent more time “being” than doing, although I did finally read Anne Lamott’s book, Bird by Bird that has been sitting on my coffee table almost 2 weeks.

bird by bird

I can thank the Internet for introducing me to her. She’s been around for many years but I never heard of her. Actually it was her picture that caught my attention.

anneI don’t know any middle-aged white women with dreads. Actually I do know another one but she isn’t a writer.  Bird by Bird is a book for aspiring writers like me. I go to a creative writing class at a senior center once a week to learn basic grammar, but Lamott’s book goes into detail about how to be a good writer.  She tells us how to get over writer’s block and stuff like that. I probably could find that information on the Net but its nice to actually read a real book. I don’t own a Kindle or whatever else they have out there and I can guarantee you, I won’t ever. I like the feel of a real book and flipping through the  pages. You can’t do that with an eBook and don’t get me started about the iPad. That thing makes me dizzy!

Lamott writes that we can find inspiration for a story anywhere if we pay attention. That’s how I got the idea for this post today. Actually, I thought of it yesterday and wrote it in a small notebook I keep close to me for the sole purpose of jotting down ideas, so I don’t forget.

From now on I will make it a habit to unplug at least one day a week and if I’m really brave, a whole weekend.

Namaste,
ingebird

Weird

divas

For nearly two years I have been going to a writing class at a senior center. The majority of students in my class are over the age of 65 and a few are 90 years young. The majority of them are writing their life story to pass along to their family, but there are a couple women who write fiction. I call it mystery, creepy fiction. The interesting thing is, both of them are retired nurses.

I’m taking the class because I’m writing a self-help/memoir about my cancer journey. Each week I turn in something to my teacher that might end up in the book. She corrects my grammar and my classmates give me feedback. I am so lucky to have found these people. They come from all walks of life and of course different life experiences, so I get a lot of suggestions how to make my book better. Many of the students have been coming nearly 15 years and are avid readers.

A new student joined our group a couple of months ago. He is a retired prison chaplain. He is a black male, about 70 years old from Mississippi. He writes fictional stories based on his experiences counseling prisoners and living in the south. Since he is a chaplain, it makes sense that all his stories reflect his belief in God, but he doesn’t write to convert anyone. He is just telling a story.

Last week our teacher asked us where we go to write. The actual topic that day was “Overcoming Writer’s Block.” The preacher raised his hand and said, “I go to a coffee shop close to where I live. I get my inspiration from some of the customers who are there, especially if it’s someone weird.”

What caught my attention was the word weird. I pretty much tuned out the rest of what he was saying and began thinking about the meaning of that word. Exactly what does weird mean? What is considered weird? Who decides what is weird?

Today, I was still thinking about it and looked at online dictionaries to find out what they had to say. Many of them said it relates to an occult. Something supernatural. Merriam-Webster’s full definition is:

of, relating to, or caused by witchcraft or the supernatural : magical ; of strange or extraordinary character.

The Urban Dictionary, which is not a formal dictionary by any means because people like you and me can throw in our two-cents as to what we think that word means. They  define weird as: Interesting or strange; out of the ordinary… and my favorite; another synonym for awesome.

One of the commenters who goes by the online name of Fishbap and Cheese wrote; First off no one can really say something is weird because one’s own personal definition of weird could be totally different from someone else. Someone who is called “weird” by their peers in one place, might be called a conformist somewhere else, so really the terms “weird” and “normal” are nothing more than words to describe someone or something different from themselves.

Batwoman la Sarah wrote; A word used by many people who is usually meant to be negative. If someone calls you weird it’s usually because you’re saying something or acting different from another person would. People don’t know how to handle this so than they just respond by saying “You’re so weird!!!!”

In what context was the preacher using the word weird? Since I didn’t ask, I don’t know.

When I say someone is weird, it is not a compliment. It’s a negative judgment. Actually everything we think is based on a judgment, whether its good or bad. I can think That person looks weird or that person looks interesting . Either way it’s my perspective of how I choose to see that person. Maybe it has to do with us being visual creatures. Judging someone by the way they look though, can get us into a lot of trouble. There are plenty of people who wear nice clothes who are dishonest. You cannot judge a book, by it’s cover.

According to A Guide to Buddhism A-Z:

Making judgments about the people we come into contact with is usually done within the privacy of our own minds. However, it will influence how we think about them – whether with respect or contempt, trust or suspicion, like, dislike or indifference. And, of course, the opinion we form about them from our judgments will in turn influence how we treat them. This being the case, we should be careful in making judgments about others, particularly critical ones.

My son is covered in tattoos. He moved to central California a couple years ago from the Bay Area. He still gets strange looks when he is in public because it’s a small town environment. There aren’t many people walking around with visible tattoos, so he could be considered weird. When he lived in Berkeley, no one noticed. Tattoos are more common there.

When I was in college, I took a class on the Great Religions. I decided to spend the day at the Hara Krishna Temple in Berkeley and write about my experience. I chose the Hara Krishna’s because they were always a mystery to me; dancing and chanting, wearing white robes with shaved heads. They seemed silly. Some call them a cult. What I found out was, they may look weird to us in the United States, but in India, they are a respected religion. According to Wikipedia,The Hare Krishna mantra, also referred to reverentially as the Maha Mantra (“Great Mantra”), is a 16 word Vaishnava mantra, which is mentioned in the Kali-Santarana Upanishad. In the15th century it rose to importance in the Bhakti movement, following the teachings of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu.

I was working as a waitress in a coffee shop in San Francisco, when one morning a priest from the Catholic Church across the street, stopped in for coffee. He was agitated. He had just had a conversation with some Buddhist monks visiting from another country, who stopped in to see the inside of the church. They thought they were having a nice conversation with a priest and he was thinking they belonged to a satanic cult. In his perspective, they weren’t just weird — they were evil. How many people believe that any religion other than their own is weird or evil? A lot of problems in the world are started because of that judgment.

Weird is purely subjective. The picture of me and my Chihuahua, Olive (she has since crossed the Rainbow Bridge) might look weird to some. We actually had matching leopard coats and went out in public wearing them. Sometimes we got some strange looks, but for the most part, people got a kick out of us.

I still like dressing in what I consider fun outfits. I don’t care about fashion trends. I wear what I like. Some may think that’s weird. I know I dress differently than most women my age and that’s ok. If someone calls me weird, I will take it as a compliment because what they are really saying is, I’m awesome!

Namaste,

ingebird

Rain Sounds with Tibetan Singing Bowls and Birds Chirping

I am always looking for background music to listen to when I’m writing. This one has the sounds of birds chirping which I really enjoy. Birds have always fascinated me (that’s where my nickname, Ingebird comes from) and I enjoy listening to them have fun outside my home. When its raining or cold they don’t come around as much, so I can get my “birds chirping” fix via this video. I haven’t tried it yet, but I’m sure its good to meditate to as well.

I hope you enjoy it.

Namaste,

ingebird