auténtico

solitude-quotes-6

I equate authenticity with the freedom to be myself e.g. of saying what I really think (not to hurt or wound) instead of keeping silent, of not tending to the endless, tedious exhausting business of having to “fit in”. I used to feel guilty when I had those feelings. I still feel a frisson of envy for those people who can ”tell it like it is.” (I often find that these people who brandish honesty and forthrightness resent the hell out of me when I express my opinion!)

Somewhere along the way I changed from being an extrovert to an introvert.

My mother was an uber extrovert; she charmed in any social situation and could make small talk with a stump. She viewed anyone who eschewed the company of others as eccentric, probably neurotic or at worst seriously disturbed. There were probably more than a few introverts in my family. There was a reason my grandfather used to disappear after spending a few hours en famille.

When I was a university student I could not tolerate solitude. When I was alone, I felt vulnerable and anxious. I had to be among friends or mingling in crowds of people every waking minute. Like a true extrovert, I derived energy from other people. Sadly, a frenetic social calendar is inimical to great academic achievement, at least in my experience.

The process of becoming an introvert began after I was married.  I wasn’t “me” anymore, I was just an extension of my husband and not a very interesting one at that. I stopped speaking up because people were not interested in what I had to say (dismissed as dumb blonde right out of the starting gate) or did not understand (e.g. They thought Monty Python was a new cartoon character) They were more interested in my husband, I was just the accessory on his arm.  Anyway, how do you compete with a chef? People are endlessly enthralled by the cooking profession or probably food has universal appeal. Ancillary to being married to a chef is the ability to be alone – a lot. They work 16+ hour days and you can forget about holidays or time off. I adapted to being on my own, then on my own with kids. I would have to say the process started then and is complete today. (I was probably a closet introvert all along!)

I am most content curled up on my couch with a book in hand and laptop close by. (Tweet, post, blog, et cetera) I like to travel, hike, stay fit, go to concerts and plays, explore and experience new things as often as I can. I have people who I care about and who care about me and that’s enough. One good thing about getting older is that I care less and less what others think of me. I have too much to do and too many other things on my mind.

I am an unabashed introvert and my mother would still not understand.

Radical Authenticity

Deeds not words

Facta non verba (Deeds not words)

According to Meriam Webster:
“Simple Definition of meeting : a gathering of people for a particular purpose (such as to talk about business) : a gathering of people for religious worship : a situation or occasion when two people see and talk to each other.”
[http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/meeting]

My job involves many meetings which I would gleefully forgo if I could get away with it (not get fired.) I need to be present, somewhat sentient and most enervating of all record minutes for each proceeding. [An aside: evidently I am a minute taker par excellence, a regular Ninja minute taker. (as if anyone other than a nitpicking drone would ever actually read them) I think I’ll have an inscription on my tombstone ”She came, she saw, she took great minutes.” Being a “great minute taker” is like being the best hog caller in Bugtustle, not the kind of thing for which you want to be known.

The same personality types seem to show up at meetings. These types create impasses, bottlenecks and inertia – the antithesis of getting things done.Why is it that so many people are incapable of simply meeting together, having a fruitful discussion and moving forward? I attended many meetings where nothing was accomplished, where the same topics kept coming back like walkers on the Walking Dead and valuable minutes of my life were wasted when I could have been reading or writing. As Mao Tse Tung once acidly remarked, “%^&* or get off the pot!”

Young business team exchausted and over worked10 Common Personality Types at meetings:

  1. The Bumptious Blowhard: His or her ultimate goal is to dominate and shove their opinions down everyone’s throats. (I would like to shove their opinions somewhere else.)
  2. The Obfuscator: This one never, ever makes any sense, uses tortuous logic and 50 words when 5 will do.
  3. The Man/Woman who wasn’t there: They sit with a strained/bored look on their faces, regularly look down at their phones and wish they were somewhere else. I can relate.
  4. The Pettifogger: They expound on the most inconsequential points ad nauseam. This usually chews up valuable time at the start of the meeting so that the rest of the agenda is rushed or has to be tabled.They make me long for a roll of duct tape.
  5. Voted-most-likely-to-veer-off-topic: Closely related to the pettifogger, they talk about some tangential point only faintly related to the topic at hand. Alway long winded, they go on while the clock ticks precious seconds off your life. Another candidate for duct tape.
  6. The Perennial Absentee: They simply don’t show up, the meeting never seems to “match their schedules”. Some other poor schmuck gets stuck doing the meeting-skipper’s share of the work.
  7. The Narcissist: The meetings are a showcase for their incredible talents, skills and hubris. They love the sound of their own voice and trot out some obscure nuggets likely culled from a handout at least 10 years out of date.
  8. The-Thick-as-a-Brick: They stop to ask questions every 2 minutes, then do not bother to pay attention – everything has to be explained over and over and over again. Tedious.
  9. The Debbie Downer: They complain and find fault but take no action to improve the situation. Always find a problem with any decision taken, including what kind of office garbage bags to buy. Eats away at morale and everyone’s nerves.
  10. Most dangerous of all – the BIG IDEA person: One brilliant idea after another spurts from their febrile imaginations. The only problem is that abstract ideas are all they have. When the rubber hits the road they have no clue how to actually make things happen. Guess what? That part falls on the shoulders of the worker bees while the Big Idea person takes credit for everything.

A saviour in the form of a strong chairperson who doesn’t suffer fools gladly and takes no crap can thwart most of these types. Having a clear purpose and outcomes can help improve meetings along with an achievable agenda and an understanding of roles and processes. Listening to people talk makes me realize there are two types of people in the world: the talkers and the doers. I know which one I want to be. I also believe successful meetings involve R.E.S.P.E.C.T. (an item in short supply these days) for other people and their time. Life is waaaaaaaaaaay too short to spend at a meeting that should have been an email!

ici et maintenant

riverwatch

It was particularly difficult to say farewell to summer this year. I relished in the long lazy days of reading, writing, going for meandering walks or just watching the sky. I love those kind of days when you can take your time, appreciate what is around you and can go to bed at night without dreading the next day. (or wake up in the middle of the night with your mind running like a hamster on his treadmill!)

With the advent of fall, that relaxed regime has had quite an adrenaline shot. I am back in the frenzy of work, work and more work. Everyone is back in town from their summer vacations and leap right into the frenetic routine of work-meetings-work-meetings-work-meetings. To personify, summer is soft and languid while fall is hard-edged and brisk. (Not to mention winter is coming) While the alternative of being unemployed has zero appeal, it is hard not to feel wistful about the loose, unfettered days of summer.

Here and Now

Liste: rule of 5’s

Bucket list -Rule of 5’s

Places to see

Paris – City of Light, embodiment of beauty, art and culture – catacombs with ossuaries mute testimonies centuries of death

Great Wall of China – Built over two millennia 13,170 miles of fortifications to repel invading hordes, visible from space

Castle Bran – homebase of notorious Wallachian prince with a penchant for a particular execution method – possible inspiration for Stoker’s count

Moscow & St. Petersburg – Red Square, Lenin’s Tomb, Kremlin, Hermitage, Tsarskoye Selo

London – Theatre, museums, afternoon tea, Ripper Walking Tour

Things to do

Skydiving – my life in freefall

Scuba diving – see what lies upon the ocean floor: exotic marine creatures ,rusted hulks , sunken galleons

Everest – gaze in awe at gateway to the roof of the world;
Death zone awaits

Learn another language

Write a book

Reading List

Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom
Night by Elie Wiesel
Les Miserables by Victor Hugo
Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison
The Alchemist by Paolo Coelho

5 improvements

Let go of the detritus of life (what doesn’t matter in the end)

Fitness – up workouts to 6 days per week

Keep in touch with family more often

Start to do volunteer work again

Patience, patience, patience

post to show up in our grid.
The Poetry of List-Making

conexiones

Moving from a static website to WordPress was long overdue for me. I marvel at how long it  took me to make the transition, the blog format is soooooooooo much better. I had (LOL) maintained a website for my rapidly —depreciating in value (you’re only as good as your last project and other demoralizing peptalks) portfolio but lost interest and enthusiasm. Starting a blog was one of the best moves I ever made for myself. I am doing exactly what I always wanted to do – write and connect with others who are writing or creating. Blogging is perfect for any mode of writing (poetry, fiction,non-fiction, endless possibilities there), photography (working to improve my skills and knowledge, I might actually use my DSLR this time) and encourages being part of a community. Blogging and online activities have supplanted my writing groups of old and I don’t miss them one bit.

I participate i-see-you-wallpaper_thumbin Twitter 6 word story writing prompts (favs include

“Come September tropical memories of you” or

“Let me loosen your collar Reverend”

“Give my lower left ventricle for you”

which are challenging but a lot of fun. Instagram is another enjoyable outlet. I haven’t put much effort into Facebook – not many of my friends or family are into writing or photography although I might inflict my practice photos on them just for fun.

For me connection means that every time I receive a like for a blog post or a tweet I know that someone out there likes what I write or identifies with what I am saying. My thoughts have resonated with someone else if only for a few moments. I appreciated the comment I received on one of my posts – Ouvrir. I was feeling negative that day and it was encouraging that someone took the time to read the post and make a thoughtful comment.
There are so many blogs here that are well-written, thoughtful commentaries on life or display photos of extraordinary beauty. Some make me laugh or ponder life while some make me sad but they usually leave an indelible impression on me.

Appreciation to all who liked my posts or followed my blog!

consilium

A utilitarian piece of advice …

“Consider where it comes from” – sounds cryptic enough. When used to interpret human behaviour, this simple pronouncement comes in pretty handy. As a child (and none-too-infrequently overlapping into adulthood unfortunately) I became upset when people criticized, blamed, ridiculed or otherwise crapped on my day. Coming home from school red faced and furious, I would regale my poor mother with tales of persecution and cruelty. For every Suzie said this or Monica said that, she would shrug and say,”well consider where it comes from.” This simply means “stop and think about who is saying this, why  and what does it say about them?“ When I stopped to consider the type of person that said these things, I romg-my-mother-was-right-about-everything-funny-poster-printealized I didn’t really like them very much anyway and their behaviour didn’t bother me anymore. As I went through life, anyone who behaved negatively usually had their own agenda and wanted nothing more than to ruin someone else’s day because they were miserable themselves or had their own issues.

“You’re a loser,” this from my grade school nemesis to which I considered yeah well you can barely spell cat so I guess that would make you a little bitter.

“If you want to look like her you should work out more,” this from an ex-boyfriend to which I considered yeah well poor guy you must know that your days as Lothario are indeed numbered due to your teeny pot belly and receding hairline.

“Your kid is not on the team,” this from a smug soccer mom to which I considered yeah well she is beloved by all her peers and teachers unlike your kid who is a dead ringer for King Joffrey.

I only regret that I wasted so much valuable time worrying about offending or displeasing someone when I had done nothing wrong – it was all about them. This brief but pithy statement got me through many a bad day and gave me the ability to disregard the negative people around me. [ or just not give a %^&]

A Piece of Advice

ouvrir

Openness implies being receptive, welcoming and listening to possibilities. There are the the good opens like openminded, open hearts, open wallets, open doors et cetera. “Open” usually has all good connotations in contrast to “closed” which implies pettiness, stinginess, coldness, stodginess. Open mouth is probably bad although there are some people who go around with theirs open all the time.(unfortunately there are sounds coming out as well)

tunnelSome people are much better at being open than others, they can basically say anything and people will forgive them or give them a pass. They can say the most outrageous things, unbosom themselves, spill their guts, tell people what they really think and face no consequences. No cold shoulders the next day, no dirty looks, no social media shaming – nada. Others like me, always regret candour – regret the words out of my mouth the instant they are uttered and long to just shove them back where they came from. I always blame my upbringing – children were supposed to be “seen and not heard.” Effusion and enthusiasm were beyond the ken of phlegmatic Germanic forbears, evidently. There are some professions or situations where this stolid silence would come in handy – espionage or law enforcement maybe.

Openness can also mean  vulnerability – by being open you “open” yourself up to ridicule, gossip, backlash, any number of human nasties. At heart I envy those who can be open, it does take a bravado, an “I don’t care” attitude which must be liberating.

How does one become comfortable being open? Is it something you practice every day until you get it right? Who can say, it has to be be right for the individual you are I guess. In the meantime, I will continue to watch with envy as the open people tell me how things are supposed to be.
Open

because it is there

Working at a northern fishing camp was quite an adventure. I liked exploring through the bush, seeing what I could find. New to the camp, I followed this one trail for miles and found out later that it lead to where they beardumped the bear bait. It was probably a good thing I turned back when I did. Working 14 hours a day, I didn’t have much time to enjoy the amenities. I did go fishing once, not catching one of the 52 inch monsters but a only small lake trout. I also got to ride in the float plane with some very inebriated lodge guests. Luckily, the pilot of was sober. Being one of a few females in a predominantly male environment is an adventure in itself. Most of the conversation revolved around fishing and hunting accompanied by a lot of drinking. As one of the fishing guides succinctly put it,”Work, drink, repeat.”

Mountain climbing seems like the ultimate adventure to me. Like many armchair mountaineering fans, I got hooked on the topic after reading Into Thin Air and Eiger Dreams by John Krakauer. I also read an adventure anthology with stories of famous ascents of Mont Blanc and the Matterhorn.

le-tour-du-mont-blancvache-973212925840449mematterhorn-64951287925954AJM6

Although it might be losing cachet due to increasing commercialism, I am fascinated by Mount Everest. Actually reaching the summit (29,029 ft above sea level), must indeed seem like you are on the roof of the world. (If you can survive the death zone, that is.)  “Because it is there,” replied George Mallory when asked why he sought to climb the world’s tallest mountain. In June 1924 Mallory, along with Sandy Irvine, were attempting to reach the summit of Everest. Last seen climbing the northeast ridge, they both disappeared and it is not known if they ever reached the summit. Mallory’s body was found in 1999.  Everest might be the tallest but it is not the most dangerous, according to many experts. The Matterhorn, the Eiger, Annapurna, K2, Mont Blanc, Mount Vinson and other peaks have all claimed lives yet people love challenges and keep on trying. There is that quest, that determination to conquer something – why not a mountain?

himalayan-mountains-1389998575T1II think if I was to take up mountaineering, I would have to start with something much, much, much smaller like Kilimanjaro. I would have the achievement of completing one of the Seven Summits. (The others being the highest peaks of the 7 continents: Everest, Aconcagua, Denali, Elbrus, Vinson, Carstensz) Taking a mountaineering course would probably be the wisest option to get started. To participate in this sport, you need to know what you are doing as the wrong move could mean your life.
“It is not the mountain we conquer but ourselves.” ~ Sir Edmund Hillary 

Not to worry, the closest I will ever get to Everest is a casual acquaintance who made it to base camp and a friend who is from Nepal. Along with other plans of derring-do, making it to Base Camp is definitely on my bucket list. Climbing mountains is the sine qua non of adventure but it is beyond the reach of most of us. Not to mention being expensive, it would require peak physical stamina and mental fortitude. Not something you want to try if you are out of shape or lack persistence. I work out nearly every day but something tells me that is not enough.

Anyway, I have to be content with everyday, prosaic adventures like trying to walk (on this city’s icy streets (this is where crampons would come in handy!) in the winter or navigating the Costco parking lot on a Saturday morning.  With a certain amount of imagination and requisite curiosity, everyday life can be an adventure – you just have to know where to find it.

Adventure

liberté

The older I get, the more nostalgic I become about childhood. Ah childhood, then breezy sigh. I realize how good I really had it in those days. I was free from worry, didn’t have to paybirthday bills or work for a living. There were no tough decisions to make or responsibilities to shoulder. I had good parents to look out for me  and keep me safe. There were neighbour kids to play with, puddles to splash in, snowmen to make, puppies and kittens to adopt and older siblings to irritate. Life was idyllic.

As I grew older being a kid was no fun at all.I felt powerless and constricted, always under the control of my parents and teachers at school. Being a child meant getting told what to do 24/7, having your opinions and feelings discounted by philistine adults. How self-centred we all are when we are young, the world revolves around us, don’t you know?

I couldn’t wait to get away from home so I could do what I wanted – finally. Yes, the so-called freedom was great but it also required maturity and accepting responsibility. All of a sudden there was no one standing behind me with his wallet open paying my way or writing a cheque for tuition. Worse yet, I had to do my own cooking and cleaning. I found you can only eat so many pizzas and that sticky dishes and mildewed laundry pile up overnight. Thankfully my housekeeping skills have improved remarkably.

Childhood means freedom and children should be free to enjoy life, to laugh, play and simply be a kid. Something a lot of us adults do not have the time to contemplate let alone enjoy!

Childhood

Innocence

cat

Epitome of innocence ~

“A person or thing that is a perfect example of a particular quality or type.”

Our cat Fluffy would not leave this Siamese fighting fish alone. She would watch it  and sometimes stick her paw in the bowl to give it a few whacks or try to catch it. One day it was swimming on its side, one fin lifted feebly in the air. I knew it wasn’t long for this world. Fish tend to be short-lived anyway but the cat had probably hastened its  demise somehow. A similar thing happened to my daughter’s hamster. She hadn’t closed the lid firmly enough after cleaning the cage. Sure enough, next day no more Nutmeg the hamster gleefully playing in the shavings. Fluffy sat in the corner licking her paws looking totally innocent.

Cats are great but sometimes they can be bloodthirsty little creatures!

Epitome