What's Wrong With a Dog's Life?

January 30, 2012

At least this dog’s life:

Begin the day eating sausage from a fork

Curl up in your cozy new bed

Change positions

Well, it is exhausting work!

There are some days when I would like to be my dog!

Junk food

Beyond the Junk Food of Life

January 27, 2012

A second word has surfaced as important in my mind this year: Nourish. Looking up nourish in the dictionary, I find it means to nurture, to promote growth, to cherish, strengthen and build up. I can’t think of a better, more positive word to live by, and to serve as companion to passion.

Just as passion can be applied to all areas of my life, so can nourish. Nourish involves more than the food and drink I put into my mouth every day. It’s about making the choice to strengthen, build up, nurture and cherish myself and those around me. To nourish myself, yes, I will focus on nutrition, exercise, sleep—but also, I’ll allow—no, encourage—leisure time, reading, sketching, plain old noodling. These things nourish my soul. And I find when my soul feels nourished, my body is much more likely to also.

I will choose nourishing thoughts—not getting caught up in a cycle of guilt or self-criticism, but focusing on the uplifting and positive—pretty much what I try to do with this blog.

This will involve looking beyond the easiest, most convenient choice. To go back to eating, sure, a bag of Cheetos or some cookies might soothe me momentarily, but they will not nourish me. They’ll leave me feeling guilty, wanting more, even sick if I really overindulge. In the same way, mindlessly watching TV or surfing the ’net can temporarily soothe—but they won’t really nourish me down deep inside. Reading, drawing or painting, playing with Tank, having meaningful conversations, meditating, taking a walk outside, even a nap—these are some things that really nourish, and they won’t leave me feeling bad about myself later.

As a mother, wife, daughter and friend I help nourish others—and I love that. I’m realizing to do so I must nourish myself, and not take shortcuts with the junk food of life. I want to take as much care with myself as I do with others. That doesn’t mean I won’t ever allow myself a piece of chocolate (would life be worth living? I think not.) or an episode of Castle. It just means most of my choices will be nourishing ones.

What nourishes you? What do you sometimes do instead of what you know you’d find deeply satisfying?


Seize the Day

January 25, 2012

“Life is not about enduring, it's about rejoicing; it's not about tolerating, it's about embracing. There is always something beautiful to be found in the mundane, something powerful to be learned in the trials, something joyous to experience in the interruptions to routine. Savor these moments! Seize the day!”
—Kerri Miles Dowd (Washington State high school teacher and good friend!)


Paper or Plastic?

January 23, 2012

Personal organizer, that is.

Most of us use some sort of system to stay organized and on track. Some people opt for electronic organizers (“plastic”), and others stick with paper-based systems. You can probably guess: I’m a paper person. (Yes, I know, it’s the 21st century.)

Electronic organizers have certain advantages—they’re lightweight and portable, hold tons of information, can be kept current when synced with your computer and can often access email. But there’s just something so deeply satisfying in putting my pen to paper, in writing in my obligations and, eventually, crossing them off. My personal organizer has a month-at-a-glance calendar, a two-page spread for each week, a section for important numbers and quite a hefty section devoted to books I want to read. I have some favorite pictures in there, too. I find it very easy to use—just flip it open and jot down whatever-it-is. It’s also a fun way to look back on previous months with their notes, questions, birthdays and social engagements. I’ve had the binder itself since we moved to Florida more than 20 years ago! I love sitting down with it on Sunday afternoons to plan out my week. It’s like an old—albeit slightly grubby and battered—friend. It can’t break, run out of batteries or crash and eat my data, though it can be a pain to transfer data when a new year rolls around and it can get messy when I tuck various bits of paper into the front and back pockets. Choosing new inserts each year is a simple pleasure I always look forward to. I try to make it pleasant to work with all year long.

Old Faithful
Of course there’s no right or wrong organizer system—just one that feels right to you and one that you’ll use. (I’ve found from sad experience that it doesn’t help to write down the appointment if you don’t look at the calendar again.)

And now I’m going to go cross off “write blog post” on my to-do list for today!

What type of organizer do you use? Do you prefer paper or plastic?



January 18, 2012

Life becomes more complicated every day, and each of us can control only so much of what happens. As for the rest? Poet Thomas R. Smith of Wisconsin offers some practical advice. [Introduction by Ted Kooser.]


It’s like so many other things in life
to which you must say no or yes.
So you take your car to the new mechanic.
Sometimes the best thing to do is trust.

The package left with the disreputable-looking
clerk, the check gulped by the night deposit,
the envelope passed by dozens of strangers—
all show up at their intended destinations.

The theft that could have happened doesn’t.
Wind finally gets where it was going
through the snowy trees, and the river, even
when frozen, arrives at the right place.

And sometimes you sense how faithfully your life
is delivered, even though you can’t read the address.

American Life in Poetry is made possible by The Poetry Foundation (www.poetryfoundation.org), publisher of Poetry magazine. It is also supported by the Department of English at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln. Poem copyright © 2003 by Thomas R. Smith. Reprinted from “Waking before Dawn,” Thomas R. Smith, Red Dragonfly Press, 2007, by permission of the author and publisher. Introduction copyright © 2006 by The Poetry Foundation. The introduction’s author, Ted Kooser, served as United States Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress from 2004-2006.