Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Hope Is The Thing

Hope is the thing with feathers 
That perches in the soul, 
And sings the tune without the words, 
And never stops at all,

And sweetest in the gale is heard; 
And sore must be the storm 
That could abash the little bird 
That kept so many warm.

I've heard it in the chillest land, 
And on the strangest sea; 
Yet, never, in extremity, 
It asked a crumb of me.

-Emily Dickinson

Hurricane Sandy has blown her way across the northeastern seaboard of the U.S. and is now carrying diminishing winds and a burden of snow into Canada’s eastern provinces.  She was a big girl, and an angry one, and has touched literally millions of lives. 

Whether in her path or not, we watched, transfixed, as she tantrumed her way along coasts and through cities. 

She frightened the dickens out of us.

Because the storm was so huge, and because it moved through such densely populated areas, it will be some time before a full accounting of the damage can be done.  For now, it’s enough for us to know that, in her travels through the Caribbean and through the US, she took more than 60 lives and destroyed billions of dollars worth of public and private property. 

My heart goes out to those affected, as, I’m sure, does yours.

I’m not saying anything new here, I know. 

Why, then, am I writing this?

Because when a disaster of this magnitude occurs, we become so overwhelmed by events that it’s easy to forget that there is always an element of hope. 

We humans are remarkable creatures.  We’ve survived and prospered in a large part due to the way we respond to disasters like this, for not only do we strive to rebuild but, in rebuilding, we almost always strive to make things better than they were.

Please don’t think that I’m minimizing the impact of this event:  I know it’s been catastrophic, and that millions of people are affected.  I know that things are looking awfully bleak for some of those people right now.  I know that it will take a long time and a Herculean effort to clean up the mess and begin putting things right. 

But it will happen.

When an event like this occurs, we discover our compassion for our fellow man, our determination to go on, and our optimism that things can be made better.

It’s true that it will cost years of effort and billions of dollars to put things right, but that effort also means years of meaningful employment for a great many people.  Those dollars, spent to repair and replace what the storm has damaged, will be paid in wages to workers in affected communities.  Those workers in their turn will spend their wages, and those wages spent may become the breath of life sorely needed by a choking economy.

Because we learn from events like this, engineers and scientists will be studying Sandy and the destruction she left behind her.  The new buildings, roads, and public structures that arise in the hurricane's path may well be stronger and of better design than the ones they are replacing. 

One day, folks will look back at the hurricane, and at the rebuilding time that came after it, and point with pride to their achievements.

It will happen. 

I’m holding on to the hope that thought provides. 
This post is linked to Gallery of Favorites hosted by Premeditated Leftovers and The 21st Century Housewife.

Gallery of Favorites

Thursday, 18 October 2012

Merry Hallowthanksmas?

Does anyone besides me feel like we're rushing the seasons these days?

I was seeing Christmas posts on Pinterest and on Facebook in July.  

August found me drowning in pumpkin..  Not just recipes either:  Heck! There was pumpkin everything on line, in magazines, and on those "how to" shows on TV.

Now that pumpkin time has actually arrived, food and craft blogs, Pinterest, and Facebook are awash with Christmas posts.  Christmas magazines fill the racks at the newsstands.  Papers are publishing articles on planning for the holidays.

I get it.  Really, I do.  

If you're going to make stuff yourself, you have to allow enough time to do the work, and that means planning ahead.

But Costco was selling Christmas ornaments in July, and the Sears Christmas Wish Book arrived at our door in August.  

Winners had Hallowe'en stuff in August but now that I might actually want some of it, 

there's not a Hallowe'en item in sight.  
(They do have some cute New Year's Eve items if you're looking for them.  ;)


Aren't we missing something with all this looking ahead?

In July and August, I was enjoying summer.  

You remember summer, don't you?  That season of warm weather, breezy clothing, and picnics that everyone was busy writing about last March?

In September I enjoyed watching yellow school buses drive by after a couple of months' absence. (July's back-to-school posts were but a distant memory.)  I made the most of the harvest, and spent some time preparing for Thanksgiving.

Canadian Thanksgiving falls on the second Monday in October - six weeks earlier than American Thanksgiving.  Thanksgiving posts written by forward-planning American bloggers started appearing in numbers around mid-September.  

For once I was enjoying seasonal posts during the actual season when I might use them!

Rejoicing was heard at my house.  

Now I'm thinking about Hallowe'en (wondering whether I should bake some Tim-Burton-inspired cupcakes and considering whether it's appropriate to wear some sort of Hallowe'en costume to work on the 31st) even while reading about Christmas decorations and festive recipes on line.

My point?

It's great to plan ahead - smart from both a time management point of view and in terms of budgeting for big events - but this unending stream of months-early holiday information and promotion can suck the joy out of things.

A little anticipation is a good thing, but too much is just...well...too much.

We all understand that when kids hear about Christmas from August 'til December, when they are subjected for months to marketing hype about Christmas toys, Christmas lights, Christmas food, and Christmas movies, Christmas day itself can seem anticlimactic.  

I find that sad.  

How on earth can any one day live up to the months of build up, promotion, and expectation we build around holidays, on line, in the media, and in our stores?  

It can't.  

Even for us grown ups.


By all means, look forward to the next big thing.  Have fun reading about it and being inspired by all the creative thinking out there.  Enjoy the shopping trips and the planning, 
and the food, and the sparkly stuff.  

Just don't forget to take time out from all that looking ahead to enjoy the good stuff that's happening now.  

Right this minute.  

Take a walk and look around you.  Feel the autumn air.  Enjoy the scenery. 

Look up from your Christmas magazines for long enough to appreciate how excited the kids are about trick or treating.

Don't miss the fun.  

It's right here.  Right now.

Image information: 
Cartoon by Jim Hunt, and used with his kind permission.  Jim has a website, Jim Hunt Illustration, on which he shares more of his wonderful work.  Stop by and check it out.

Thanks to my friend Heath Rosier for bringing Jim's work to my attention.

Saturday, 6 October 2012

Dreaming of Pancakes

I am fantasizing about pancakes this morning.

True story.  

No one told me how difficult it would be for a woman with no thyroid to lose weight.

I mean, seriously:
I'm exercising every day
(unheard of for me)

and trying hard to stay within the 1200 calorie limit my doctor suggested

and yet,
this week, 
I lost not one single pound.  

Not a one.

I ate four cookies yesterday,
and I took Jack out for a birthday lunch last weekend,
and ate a whole burger and some onion rings.  

All by myself.

(Pure heaven, by the way, after so many boring salads!)

But surely,
even so, 
making myself exercise every day
and eating salads,  
and giving up butter and whole milk and sauces and pasta and pancakes 
should amount to SOMETHING!

Shouldn't it?

I made a promise to my doctor that I'd lose 42 pounds
and that I'd aim for a pound a week.

So far I've lost 8.

I'm not trying to change my habits just because I made that promise,
- although I'm glad I did -
(It gives me incentive to live up to my commitment)

I'm doing it because I'm tired of being tired,
because it would be nice to be able to wear clothes I actually like,
because I don't like the way I look,
or feel.


I'm fantasizing about pancakes
while drinking black coffee
and eating two boiled eggs and an orange.

Monday, 1 October 2012

Aunt B Has Left The Building

Some days are good days, others are hard work, we can feel like we're swimming up stream, or wading through porridge; but those days are valuable too. Those are the days when we discover we are uncomfortable enough to re-assess where we are investing our energy, those are the days when we are forced to look at the cold hard facts and decide whether we are serving our best interests by continuing”
-Hayley Darby 

This quote struck a chord with me.

I've been feeling like this about Facebook.

Ever since Facebook instituted Timeline and began deciding who would see my posts based upon some mathematical formula, I've been struggling to keep interaction with those who follow my page at some sort of meaningful level.  

It's not easy.  Facebook decides upon the number of people who see a post based upon the number of likes your earlier posts have received, the number of people not following your page who see your post because it is reposted, how frequently you post, and how often you like and comment on posts made by others.  

In order to show my posts to anything more than 10% of those who subscribe to my page, and in order to keep interaction with my subscribers at a level where more than 25% of them are talking about the page, I have to post at least hourly, and I have to post seven days a week.  

That's more than a full time job folks, and it's a job for which I receive no pay.

I'm not saying that a full time job is bad thing:  particularly when it's work that engages your mind and brings interesting people into your life.  But - just like everyone else - I need to pay the bills and put food on the table.  I work full time for wages, and the hours needed to maintain my Facebook presence are becoming problematic.

I find myself getting up three hours before work in order to get my blogging done and to set up timed posts so needed to ensure my Facebook presence throughout the work day.  I find myself spending my evenings and weekends working on my blogs, editing photos, and catching up on comments on my page.  I find myself with no time for the pastimes I love to share.  Worst of all, I find myself neglecting family time and friends in order to maintain my on line commitments.

Not good.

I've realized for some time that I need to make some changes so, in September, I took a couple of weekends off.  I spent time with friends and family.  I took a look at what life would be if I said goodbye to my Facebook commitment.  

I really enjoyed those weekends.  

As much as I enjoy my interaction with my Facebook friends, my family, my everyday real-life friends, my creative pursuits, and good old-fashioned leisure time are more important to me.   

It's time to focus more on what makes me happy.  

I'm looking forward to it.