Wednesday, May 02, 2007

UGH, and a general update

So, that whole May Day thing, bringing flowers to folks.... it didn't happen. But only because of the most valid of reasons. I've been laid low. Very low. Watching the rest of world break out in assorted spring viruses this last month or so, I have been alternating between tiptoeing cautiously around germy environments and prancing smugly through the world unscathed.

Until now. Erg. Bleh. Moooooan.

I felt it coming on the night before last. I was still well enough to venture out for medicinal purposes yesterday afternoon, some hot chinese soup and tea, which helped or at least held off the worst of it. Last night I was twice as miserable. Today I'm no longer moaning but I'm still feeling puny and haven't bothered to get out of bed.

But at least I feel well enough to distract myself online. That's something. A good opportunity to just ramble a bit, updates on past topics.


My reading goal hit it's first challenge. It's sort of debatable whether I actually met my book-a-week goal during April. Our trip to San Diego slowed down my reading. I finished one book in April that I started in March (so which month do I count it in?), read three books completely, and started two that I haven't finished yet. I guess that's about what my goal states, it's just not more then my goal, which I'd managed in previous months. The books:

Twilight by Stephanie Meyers - this is a young adult urban fantasy. I really enjoyed it, in part because it's a great new take on vampires, in part because I'm familiar with the setting of the tip of the Olympic Peninsula in Washington state. There's a sequel out in hardcover. If it was in paperback I would probably have jumped right into it. As it is, I'll wait for it while I read a zillion other things I have in my TBR list.

Murder in the Marais by Cara Black - this is my favorite book this month. I'd stumbled onto the murder mystery series (this book is the first in it) while looking for books that were set in Paris. These seemed to be just what I was looking for, each book takes place in a different district of the city. I was only hoping for a good light read and found quite a dense one instead, filled with all sorts of historical and geographical tidbits, as well as a whodunit that kept me wondering who until almost the very end. I've ordered the second book through inter-library loan.

Killed by Clutter by Leslie Caine - I saw this title and just had to get this book! It was a fun cozy mystery. I won't be going out of my way to buy this series new but I'd definitely grab one up if I saw it at the used bookstore.

Summer Knight by Jim Butcher - the fourth in the Dresden Files books. I'm really loving these. I'd known about the series for years but it wasn't until I started to enjoy the sci fi series on television that I tried the first one and now I'd happily read them all immediately if I could. I was only a few pages into it when my inter-library loan books arrived so I had to set it aside until I finish those.

Renaissance Soul by Margaret Lobenstine - this is a self help book subtitled Life Design for People with too Many Passions to Pick Just One. I'm leary of the "ultimate solution" claims of most books like this, but I read this one at just the right time as I'd just sort of figured out most of what the book was about on my own just before reading it. I actually DID most of the exercises in the book, instead of just thinking about them. I took out paper and pencil and DID them. This is pretty much unprecedented. It was well worth the time expended. I was able to gather a few more insights into my ownself. I know that I won't maintain this "Eureka!" high forever, life will return to the ordinary, but I do think I've managed to get past a particular personal log jam.

Fragile Things by Neil Gaiman. I had meant to order his book Stardust so I could read it before the movie comes out. I accidentally ordered this book instead. I'm enjoying it but it's not what I expected. For some reason I keep wandering off mentally and forgetting who I'm reading, mixing Gaiman up with Tom Holt and Charles DeLint. I'm about half way through and so far it's mostly collection of ghost stories. Since I read right before bed, this has prompted me to have very unusual dreams.

My Ephipany

That recent post had several friends call me up to say "Uhm, yeah. HUH?"

Let's see if I can explain it better. It's all about the efforts I've made in the last few years, thwarted by my family and unexpected events and even by me, to change my job from "Homemaker/Mom" into.........? That was the question. Into what? I thought it was simply a matter of deciding what career path I wanted to pick up or start next.

Wrong. It wasn't as simple as that. It had to do with changing my identity. Changing what makes me feel valuable and ... makes me feel like me. It's not like I think I lost myself in the role of mother or lived through my children. I think I took the job of mother and turned it into something uniquely ME. But that role isn't completely time consuming any more. There's more time and space left in my life for me to fill and that hasn't been something I've had to address in large quantities for two and a half decades.

I told my husband in a recent conversation that I'd finally figured out that I'm having a real midlife crisis. He said I couldn't be having a midlife crisis because a) I'm not a man (??????) and b) 50 isn't midlife unless I planned on living to be 100. I am planning on living to be 100, actually.

The premise of the book The Rennaissance Soul was that there is a continuum of personalities in the world. We all tackle life in different ways. Some people are very singularly focused, others find a variety of things stimulating and want to have a thumb in every pie. Someone like Mozart, who knew what he wanted to do, write music, since he was 3 years old and who continued to do that passionately for his entire life, is an example of one extreme. Someone like Da Vinci or Jefferson or Franklin, each who wore a multitude of different hats during their lives, are examples of the other extreme. She points out that it's possible to be successful (or not) no matter where you fall along this continuum, but that those of us who fall towards the Franklin side are what she calls a Rennaissance Soul and sometimes the world doesn't understand us. We're not "traditional."

I've always jokingly called myself a "Jill-of-all-Trades" and felt both proud and secretly guilty about that. Because the complete phrase is "Jack-of-all-Trades, Master of none". I identify with the Raven. "Oooooh, shiny!" Hopping about from interest to interest as something new catches my eye. In fact, I literally do pick up shiny things. I've even been known to turn the car back around to go investigate something shiny but unidentifiable in the road. I'm probably the only person who has gone to Europe and looked down at the cobblestones as much as I looked up at the gargoyles. But I digress...

Recently I've figured out that being a Homemaker/Mom, particularly to so many children, was the perfect job for me to have held for the past 25 years. It not only allowed me to embrace a multi-focus lifestyle, it thrived from it. I could wear two dozen hats and all of them were under the umbrella of mothering. Oh. And don't forget homeschooling. That brought in out of the rain even the most esoteric of pursuits and interests. But now that I'm no longer working 48 hours a day keeping up with house and kids (yes, I know, I've still got William) I don't have an "excuse" to be a Raven. I haven't changed. I am still a Raven. I just don't have a symbolic nest that I can collectively gather all my shiny projects into and make them whole.

Here I have been trying to force myself to "pick a card, any card" to replace my past life. What I wasn't taking into account is that I don't want to pick a card. I want the whole pack, dammit. If I can play with the whole pack, eventually I'll narrow it down to a handful that make a good playing hand. But I can't play with just one card. It's just not me.

So, I've decided to stop trying to find one new path for the time being. I've also decided to stop worrying about whether or not what I do is financially a good choice, along the theory that "do what you love, the money will follow". I'm fortunate not to have to worry about the financial aspects of my life at the moment (after spending many, many years struggling to make ends meet) so I need to stop feeling guilty about that and just enjoy it for a bit. I've decided what I need to do right now is wander around a bit, playing, exploring, trying on new hats without the pressure to buy one, and that's exactly what I'm going to do.

That's not to say that I'm going to continue to wander around in circles. Or rather, that I'm not going to wander around in confused circles. One of my favorite sayings is from The Hobbit - Not all who wander are lost." I had a bumpersticker on my old car that said that. Maybe I need to get myself a new one.

One of the exercises in the book recommended making a list of all the things you're interested in doing and then narrowing it down to a workable number to do first. Not to do forever, just things to do first. I was surprised that my list wasn't nearly as large as I had felt it to be and that many of the things I wanted to do were things that needed to be done sequentially. For example one item on my list was "Downsize and declutter my belongings." Another item was "Paint rooms" (meaning I want to paint several rooms in my house). When I put it down on paper I clearly saw that I didn't even need to worry about painting until I'd accomplished decluttering. I could stop worrying about doing both of those things and focus on doing just the first one. Another example. There were several items that pertained to art work. Everything from "rearranging my studio" so I would have space for new types of art work to "spending a certain amount of time in the studio each week" and even accumulating a body of work large enough to "ask for a show at our local arts council gallery". Clearly, at least to anyone but me before I wrote them down, these are sequential tasks. I don't have to worry about them all. I don't have to do them all. I just have to do the first one. Writing the list helped me pick a handful of activities that are the logical "first steps" in a number of directions, greatly narrowing down the dizzy confusion of 'where to start, what to do" in my head. Now I can give more focus to some real choices with the hope that one or two of them will then organically grow into something more than just a first step, but a clear path.


With my new, more focused list, I managed to get an entire floor to ceiling shelf in the studio cleared off a few days ago. Almost everything on that shelf found a new spot that didn't require moving something else, which was quite a surprise. Some things went in the garage sale pile or fire bin. All that's left is moving the shelf out of the house entirely. It will probably end up as a help in the garage, unless William wants it in his room. The next step as to move a desk/shelf unit into the open space left by the other shelf. Then I'll move all my personal items out of the desk in the diningroom onto this new studio desk. Since I've already claimed the guest room/studio as my own most of the time, it only makes sense to move my desk in there and give the space I take up in the diningroom over to my hubby. This will allow him to move his desk stuff out of the bedroom where it covers and overflows his dresser. And then...

well, nevermind. I didn't get any farther than clearing that first shelf before succumbing to this bug. But it goes on from there in a huge puzzle of shifts that ultimately ends up with a far more organized and compact use of rooms. You don't really want to hear the whole scenario right now. In fact, I'm sure you're ready to move on to reading another blog right now, or at the very least, your coffee is in need of refilling. So, I'll stop gabbing on simply because I'm not feeling up to anything else. Maybe I'll even try getting up for a bit. Change of scenery. I'll go lay on the couch. I have to move out there eventually anyway, to find out which two American Idol participant are going home tonight. I'm not sure. I'm pretty sure Chris will be one of them. But I can't really pick number two. My guess is either Jordan or Phil, although I like both of them so it pains me to say that. I suppose it could be Lakisha, but I'll stick with my my first instincts. I think Blake saved his ass with his awesome remake last night and Melinda ain't going nowhere.

Speaking of American Idol, I find it interesting that the 3rd place winner last year has been the one to rise to the top of the charts. I always thought Chris was the most marketable. Am I the only one that just figured out that his song is the American Idol "exit song" this year? It's a nice song, but I really liked last year's "You had a bad day" ditty better. I know Kathryn, the second place winner, has an album out too but I don't know anyone who's buying it. Poor Taylor, the winner. What's become of him!? I adored him last year and was glad he won, particularly after Chris was dropped. But I have to admit that perhaps commercial stardom wasn't the best route for him. His appeal was all about performance. I like his voice too. It's got that rough and unusual quality that many of my favorite singers share - Alanis Morisette, Avril Lavigne, Iris Dement, Bob Dylan... - But it's watching him on stage that's the fun. He probably would have been better off coming in second or third, taking his new popularity back to his band, and touring. I haven't bought anyone's CD yet from last year but if I did, it would probably be Chris Daughtry's. I did buy Avril Lavigne's new one the other day (although I haven't had time to listen to the whole thing yet) and I think I'll buy Modest Mouse's new CD next.

I'd already wrapped this post up, and then got sidetracked onto an Entertainment Tonight! kind of spiel. So. Okay. Bye now. I gotta run. Yep. Busy, busy. Not.

William just came in and laid on the bed next to me, messing with the phones and pretending to talk into them and then asking me how many people read my blog. Actually he asked "Other than Grandma, who reads your blog?" Then he fantasized about making a blog but not having anything in it be true. He decided he would be someone with three kids who lived in Vermont, drove an Audi, and summered in Paris. Oooo-kay. Now he's reading what I'm writing and pretending to be a monkey. My life. It's so exciting. I can't tell ya. Okay, now he's just being annoying. Trying to tell me what to write. Now he wants me to tell you'all a joke. (he also wanted me to use the word "you'all" - ha!) But all the jokes he's telling are lame. Now he wants me to put up a photo. Fine. Here's a photo:

Lator gators!



Anonymous Anonymous said...

Okay, first I was lol about William and his blog idea..he otta go for that! I read your blog! So with your mom and me that makes for two! ...snicker...
Second, I had to laugh about your list of to do's ...I think it's great that it's sequenced, but it reads like one of those tile puzzles that kids have where you have to move this one and that one to get to the bottom one and slide it up and oh crap you should've moved *that* one first...anyway, it made me chuckle, so that was fun! Wishing you speedy healing, and more clear shelf spaces!


6:41 PM  
Blogger see you there! said...

Hope you are feeling better. I enjoyed your book list. I'm an avid reader and always on the lookout for recommendatins.

I'm not exactly a raven but I sure do relate to "those who wander aren't necessarily lost".

Hope you are feeling better.

Darla - I guess I'm #4 on your blog readers list, LOL!

6:50 PM  

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