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“We act as though comfort and luxury were the chiff requirements of life, when all that we need to make us really happy is something to be enthusiastic about.” – Charles Kingsley

There is great truth in this statement. When I think about why I get up every day, it’s because I have a job that I’m generally enthusiastic about. In fact, there are several things in my life that make me look forward to a new day. It would be simple to give into depression and anxiety, but when I focus on the things that are good in my life, the things that I enjoy, it’s possible to keep on. Things like my work, knitting, family, friends, photography, dogs, etc. give me purpose and bring meaning to life. They’re aren’t very complex or worldly things. Simple pleasures suit me best. What makes you enthusiastic?

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I wasn’t sure that I’d see this in my lifetime. America has elected a black president. While I didn’t vote for Obama because I disagree fundamentally with many of his positions on everything from the Supreme Court to tax cuts, I still can appreciate the fact this is a historic time.

As for me, I’m disappointed with my party and will join others like me in helping to rebuild it. In a few days. Right now, I need a break.

For now, I’m going to enjoy the silence. No more campaign calls and no more political commercials. It’s time for Thanksgiving carols and baking. Maybe even some cooler weather…and snow? Please?

Btw, I’ve always been proud to be an American. This is a country full of good, honest, decent, hard-working people. I’m proud to work and live alongside them. I don’t understand people who can’t see that and aren’t proud of that.

That is all.

Stress mess

Posted on: October 16, 2008

Wow. Do you ever have one of those moments when everything just hits you all at once. I’m having one of those right now. It sucks.

First, our dog Maddie had a weird looking thing growing on her back leg. It got even weirder looking. We joked that she was going through some sort of asexual reproduction process and we were going to end up with a mini-Maddie. Didn’t seem to bother her, but it changed, so DH took her to the vet. Maddie has a sarcoma. Won’t know until next week if it’s benign or maligned. (Yes, I know that’s not the right word.) Had no idea how much this actually worried me. (I was out of town while most of this was going on this week.)

Went on a job interview. Don’t think I’ll get the job. But it made me realize how horrid things really are where I am even though generally I deal pretty well. (Except when I’m complaining here or pondering leaving.) Top it off with the fact that I’m torn about changing jobs right now because it would likely mean another big move. Which means weekends at home would be out because it’d be too far to travel. This isn’t the best time to be contemplating that. So I’ve got to figure out some way to deal with this crap as it is in a way that will allow me to stay sane and not get sucked into the petty silliness. Maybe I’ll start my own committee of silly walks to ease my tension.

And LittleU screwed up my retirement pay. It was supposed to have started coming out of my check back in June. We are required to contribute 5.5% of our gross. Not a huge deal until you double that for three months to get caught up. At a time when we’re now facing vet bills. Not to mention Christmas. This financial fiasco is the main reason I opted not to go to CA for a conference. Not a good time to have a huge outflow of cash. They were apologetic about it, but an apology doesn’t come with money attached. Ah…

Add all this to the stress of two upcoming conference presentations that I’ve had little time to prep for, unexpected travel that ate up my relaxed time off, and a failing friendship with someone and you get one messy, teary J. You know it’s bad when I look forward to my next dental appointment because it means I have a whole day off. (I take whole days when they’re going to numb my face because it takes me hours before I stop biting my cheek and drooling. Not a pretty sight to share with other people. And I’m always super-cranky because I’m biting my cheek and drooling.)

Thanks for allowing me to rant. Meditating is helping me keep it together more than this shows. And heaven knows that my problems are really quite small compared to people with real problems like illness and true poverty and war. On occasion, I lose perspective. (I’m working on it.)

Despite this stuff, the week has had good points. I got to see my in-laws again. Always enjoy spending time with them. It’s another home away from home. The drive back to KS was beautiful today with all the fall colors popping out. Found a couple new pairs of jeans that fit well (length and other places) which is almost miraculous. Came home to dog and DH love after my trip. Get to teach tomorrow. The weather is finally cooling a bit so it feels like fall is here. The interview helped me get a few things in perspective in terms of what type of job I’m really looking for. And I get to be on a panel this weekend for one of the library school classes.

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The tools I gained at the meditation retreat are giving me new insight into some problems I’ve been dealing with for awhile now. Yes, work-related problems. So much of my life is spent at work that I can’t really ignore it.

What would I really like? For things to change enough that I’m not struggling on a daily basis. This is happening on a personal level. I don’t find myself as affected by some of the issues as much as I was a month ago. This is a good thing. I’ve realized that I control my own reactions and actions. (I think I’ve rationally know this for a long time, but it was reinforced and now I am also starting to focus on how my body responds when I’m faced with stress.) Being able to respond – or not respond – appropriately is going to be key in how long I’ll stay. At this point, I’m not in a big hurry to leave although I’m still keeping the options open.

What isn’t going to happen…at least not quickly? External changes. I do not have control over other people. This fact isn’t as frustrating as it was. It’s just what it is. There are simply things that are wrong with how people are treated and how things are done. While I can make sure I don’t copy the negative stuff or add to it, it is there. I will continue to try to offer positive and helpful assistance (and not be miffed when it’s rejected.) That’s really all I can do.

The law that was stressed over and over at the retreat was that nothing is permanent. Nothing. Everything is always changing. I realize that this situation is not permanent. What that means exactly, I don’t know at the moment. Life has taught me that when you change often happens in ways you don’t expect.

Another thing I’m working on getting through my thick skull is that I can only work in the present moment. I can plan for the future, but there is no use stressing about it. And the past is gone with no way to change it. This moment is what we have. Right now.

Another perspective is that there are far worse things happening in the world. By comparison, mine are extremely petty. I’ve got food to eat, clothes to wear, a comfortable place to sleep, work to occupy me, people who love me, and so much more. I hope to start volunteering more so that I can keep life in it’s proper perspective.

Yes, things are constantly changing.

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It’s weird to think that next week I’ll be retreating completely from the world to learn Vipassana meditation. And when I say completely, I mean just that. No cell phone, no computer, no television, no books, no newspapers, no radio, no talking. What will the world look like when I return? During that time, we will once again honor 9/11, the Republicans will have their convention, gas prices will do whatever it is they are going to do, Gustav will likely blow itself out after wreaking whatever havoc it must, and generally the world will go on.

It’s a strange concept of retreating in a world where most of us are so completely plugged in some way throughout our waking hours.

Then I think about what retreat means.
1.a. The act or process of withdrawing, especially from something hazardous, formidable, or unpleasant.
b. The process of going backward or receding from a position or condition gained.
2. A place affording peace, quiet, privacy, or security.
3.a. A period of seclusion, retirement, or solitude.
b. A period of group withdrawal for prayer, meditation, or study: a religious retreat.

I will be withdrawing hopefully from unpleasant ways of dealing with the world around me. I am going backward so that I can move forward again in a new direction. I will be in a place that will offer me quiet. I will essentially be in seclusion from the world. And I will be with a group of other people seeking the same thing, to learn the meditation technique.

I retreat.

Sometimes it’s easier for me to figure out what I want but figuring out what I would be like. That sentence made no sense, right. Let me put it another way. I’ve been trying to figure out what kind of supervisor I would really like to work for. However, I’m finding it easier to think of it in terms of what type of supervisor would I want to be if I were one. Make more sense?

1. Good listener – Nobody will ever deny that listening skills are necessary to supervise people. If you aren’t willing to really hear what people say, you’re probably not going to be very effective. With this though is being able to listen beyond words as well. And being able to put personal bias and reactions aside.

2. Follow through – I want to be the type of supervisor who does what she says. And if for some reason I can’t or don’t, I’d better have a really good reason.

3. Know when to lead – Depending on the group I’d supervise, I have to know when it’s imperative to step in and provide strong leadership and when it’s okay to let others take the lead. As a leader I would need to provide a strong foundation and create a productive environment for my employees.

4. Honesty and integrity – If I don’t act with both of these qualities, it’s going to be hard to expect employees to respect me. If I do something wrong or make a mistake, I need to ‘fess up and take responsibility. And you can’t expect these things out of people if you don’t have them yourself.

5. Respect – We all know it’s important to treat people with respect. I’d want my employees to know that I respect them, their contributions, and their opinions. And I’d tell them that I do. Respect should be used more as a verb and less as a noun.

These are really just the basics, but I think if I could work within them, all the other stuff that comes with supervising would fall into place. You know, when I look at the list, it’s stuff that employees should do as well. If you get these things coming from both sides, you’re likely to have a productive, generally stable workplace.

…if you didn’t own a tv?

This post got me thinking about the things that I could do if I didn’t have a tv in the house to distract me. (Or if I turned the tv off.) And it’s timely because I’ve been debating whether I should get cable when I move into my studio next month. As it is, I really don’t watch much tv during the week anyway, but it was interesting to consider what I could do instead. (Right now I just stay late at work, and that’s not exactly a healthy alternative.)

1. Read more. There is always a stack of books on my nightstand, but I usually only devote a few minutes each night to reading because I’m usually too tired by the time I get into bed. I’ve always loved reading and there are so many more books that I want to read!

2. Work on puzzles. Growing up I was never a big jigsaw puzzle person. Then in adulthood I discovered the joy of putting the pieces together to make a complete picture. It’s a relaxing activity, yet there is a sense of purpose and completion. Very satisfying.

3. Explore my creativity. One way I could do this is with scrapbooking. I also own a loom that I’ve yet to set up. (I got it almost 3 years ago!) I like making things with my hands (hence the appeal of knitting), yet I never seem to have enough time. I think of all the half finished needlework projects that I could finish.

4. Listen to and make music. Music has always been a huge part of my life. But I hardly play anymore. I’ve wanted to really learn how to fiddle and wouldn’t mind devoting some time to this. Let’s not even talk about the accordion and mandolin that are starting to collect dust. There also piles of CD’s that I haven’t listened to in years because the tv is usually the background noise. I’m sure there are some gems in there I’ve completely forgotten about.

5. Spend time with friends. I’m an introvert by nature and it’s easier to curl up on the sofa with the tv on. But I also have times when I do crave human contact. There are some people that I’ve met recently who I really enjoy spending time with and should make a point of hanging out with more often.

6. Watch good movies. Not that all the Oscar winners are really good (at least in recent years), but I’d like to watch all of them. And I have a huge Netflix cue of foreign and independent movies that look really great. Of course, when I’m watching some silly sitcom, I’m not watching a good movie. That could certainly change.

7. Exercise. I keep saying that I need to get in shape. Not much is happening in that regard. There is no reason why I couldn’t go for a walk, go to water aerobics, or spend some time at the gym. But once I sit down in front of the television at the end of the day, my energy seems to get sucked right into the screen.

8. Cook more. Cooking is another one of those activities that I’ve been surprised to find I enjoy. I like experimenting with different foods and flavors. Most of what I make is fairly simple stuff, but it beats anything out of a box or from the drive-thru. And I could freeze leftovers to enjoy on those days when I work late or am completely exhausted.

9. See more of my community. Living here during the work week means that I’ve not really gotten out in LittleUtown. It’s not a bad town and there are some pretty parks to enjoy. Give me the bug spray and turn me loose.

10. Learn new things. I have no idea what this might be at the moment. But I’m sure that inspiration will strike when I need it to.

I don’t blame the television for my overall laziness or the fact that I’m not doing more of any of these things. It’s really my fault for not having more imagination most days. When I’m old, I’d like to look back at my life and remember more than funny commercials and canned laughter. So, I’m going to start making more moments that have meaning.


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Upcoming

Mar. 10 - Photography Class

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