If This Isn't Nice...

April 29, 2015

“I urge you to please notice when you are happy, and exclaim or murmur or think at some point, ‘If this isn’t nice, I don’t know what is.’”
—Kurt Vonnegut

Link love

Link Love XIII

April 24, 2015

Stress - What You See
Image courtesy Always Well Within

Guess what I’m doing today? I’m having a Field Trip Friday with my partner in adventure, Laure Ferlita. Come back to this here space next week for photos and details.

In the meantime, I leave you with the thirteenth edition of Link Love. I hope you find the following collection of Internet goodies as interesting as I did:

This article, “7 Cultural Concepts We Don’t Have in the U.S.,” intrigued me. I enjoy learning about what other cultures value. Personally, I’m a fan of gem├╝tlichkeit, and I wrote about wabi-sabi here, and kaizen here

One thing U.S. culture does have is an obsession with personal appearance. As I get older, I’m becoming more interested in what’s on the inside rather than the outside (which, let’s be frank, is not what it once was and won’t be ever again). This article helped: “Aging With Grace: Myth or Reality?”

I often include posts from Dani DiPirro’s blog, Positively Present, in Link Love, and for good reason. She’s always got something interesting to say.  In this post, she writes: “Happiness in the general sense is what many people strive for, but what they should be striving for instead is to cultivate a positive mindset that will lead to more happy moments. Creating a positive mindset involves a lifestyle change and a complete shift in how you see the world…. Happy moments, on the other hand, can be created with small acts.”

I identify with many of Austin Kleon’s “33 Thoughts on Reading.” Especially numbers one, eight, 16 (sigh) and 18.

I especially like the first suggestion listed in “9 Mostly Free Ways to Spark Creativity and Fun.” 

Some stories seem simple but pack a huge punch. Click here to read “10 Lessons From the Story of the Mexican Fisherman.” 

What would constitute a perfect day for you? This video, by Brenden Burchard, discusses “How to Design the Perfect Day.”


Not Let Go

April 22, 2015

Photo courtesy David Mao

Introduction by Ted Kooser: I don’t think I’ve ever sold anything that, later, I didn’t wish I had back, and I have a list of regrets as long as my arm. So this poem by Melissa Balmain really caught my attention. Balmain lives in New York State, and her most recent book is Walking in on People, from Able Muse Press.

Love Poem

The afternoon we left our first apartment,
we scrubbed it down from ceiling to parquet.
Who knew the place could smell like lemon muffins?
It suddenly seemed nuts to move away.

The morning someone bought our station wagon,
it gleamed with wax and every piston purred.
That car looked like a centerfold in Hot Rod!
Too late, we saw that selling was absurd.

And then there was the freshly tuned piano
we passed along to neighbors with a wince.
We told ourselves we’d find one even better;
instead we’ve missed its timbre ever since.

So if, God help us, we are ever tempted
to ditch our marriage when it’s lost its glow,
let’s give the thing our finest spit and polish—
and, having learned our lesson, not let go.

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 ©2014 by Melissa Balmain, “Love Poem,” from Walking in on People, (Able Muse Press, 2014). Poem reprinted by permission of Melissa Balmain and Able Muse Press. Introduction copyright ©2015 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. We do not accept unsolicited manuscripts.


Mixed-Up Monday

April 20, 2015

Today we are having all our carpets cleaned. This means the whole house is torn apart, the animals are disturbed, it’s noisy, and my usual Monday routine has been upended. That’s the bad news.

The good news is: our carpets will look like new and I will feel like I got something major accomplished from my to do list (never mind that I’m not doing the actual cleaning).

I feel untethered—without my usual Monday activities performed in their usual order. Sometimes, untethered is good. Sometimes I narrow my vision too much, and become inflexible. Routines can become so ingrained that I lose all my creativity and joy in the doing.

I don’t want to throw all my routines to the wind, but maybe, just for today, I will. Maybe today I’ll binge read Janice MacLeod-Lik’s blog. Maybe today I’ll write a poem. Maybe today I’ll lounge around and finish reading Rex Stout’s Death of a Doxy. Maybe I won’t do one more blessed thing that could be considered productive.

After all, the carpets are clean… Isn’t that enough?

This is NOT what my office looks like right now...


Morning Walk

April 17, 2015

It poured last night, so I expected the air to be soupy this morning, but it’s surprisingly cool and fresh. As I walk, hear birds chirping, see cardinals, a catbird, and a blue jay flitting about. I also see a hawk glide silently to a perch high in tree.

Since I’m alone and not walking for exercise (i.e., fast), I notice things I frequently miss: the way the traffic along the main road near us hums almost harmoniously; the large shell ginger plants outside someone’s backyard, heavy with flowers; star jasmine scenting my own backyard. I see places where wild hogs have rooted through the woods looking for food. When I look up, I see spring green leaves forming a canopy over the path. Simple pleasures usually lost in the hurry of daily living.

I’m lucky enough to have a quiet, safe place to walk right in my community—I can walk right out my back gate onto a paved trail. I usually take it for granted. Even worse, when I do use it, I almost always only use it for exercise—making the loop as quickly as I can instead of taking it slowly, exploring, noticing. As part of my focus on delight this year, I plan to take more of these short, rambling walks. At least until the heat and humidity make it impossible to enjoy. I know that day is coming, and soon, but until then, I’ll indulge in a few more relaxed morning walks. Who knows what I might discover?

What delights do you take for granted?