~ Cavett Robert
May our New Year's resolutions have long and prosperous lives.
Happy New Year!!
|Lifting the Weight||
Image courtesy of Simon Howden
“Character is the ability to carry out a good resolution long after the excitement of the moment has passed.”
~ Cavett Robert
May our New Year's resolutions have long and prosperous lives.
Happy New Year!!
Image courtesy of Susie B at
Looking back twenty years, here's an article I wrote in December of 1991:
Holidays are downright hazardous. it’s really no wonder that people tend to get stressed out during the final months of the year, when we are deluged with one festivity after another, each with its accompanying list of holiday dangers.
Take Christmas, for example, the time of year when we intentionally fill our homes with poisonous plants. There’s mistletoe, holly berries, hemlock boughs… It’s a wonder poison oak hasn’t somehow slipped into the yuletide scheme.
Even the supposedly edible holiday fare is subject to circumspection. We all know by now that to actually eat a fruitcake is flirting with danger. I was presented with a fruitcake a couple of years ago, and I am saving it to use as a bookend as soon as I acquire another to make a matching set. But to date that first fruitcake is the only one I ever received. I don’t know why – do you suppose it was something I said?
We thought Christmas was getting safer, what with low- or no-heat tree lights to replace the candles of olden days, and the removal of lead containing tinsel from the market (my siblings and I used to rub the tinsel on our upper lips to make black pencil-thin mustaches on our faces. I could probably have been a James Micheneresque literary genius if only I hadn’t stunted my brain power with tinsel poisoning).
As soon as one holiday hazard is put to rest, another is discovered to take its place. How much eggnog did you drink this year? Did it contain raw eggs? Tsk, tsk. And when you baked your holiday cookies, did you lick the batter (containing more raw eggs) off the beaters? Tsk, tsk. You’ll be lucky to make it to New Years, really. I heard a rumor that next year’s eggnog cartons will sport little red and green skull-and-crossbones instead of their regular holiday motifs. Not to ruin all your fun, though, I imagine the skull will be wearing a red Santa Claus cap with a fuzzy white ball on the tip.
Once you make it through December, you can pretty much let your guard down for several months. About the biggest threat during the first portion of any year’s activities is cracking a tooth on a cherry pit while eating cherry pie on George Washington’s birthday. Then, assuming you survive the Fourth of July without any explosive mishaps, you can rest easy until Halloween.
The hazards of Halloween, while not decreasing, have certainly changed over the years. In earlier times, one of the “tricks” of trick-or-treating was to topple outhouses during the night. According to my uncle, this innocent activity posed some hazards if it was pulled on the same household too many times. One farmer got wise, and when my uncle – er, I mean someone he knew – snuck up behind the outhouse to tip it over, he found himself swimming in sewage. The farmer had shifted the privy off of its pit, treating the tricksters to some of their own medicine.
While my generation faced a scarcity of outhouses to torment, the real hazards of Halloween were well substantiated by the establishment of a new Hallows Eve tradition: taking your treats to the hospital to be x-rayed before consumption.
Then there’s Thanksgiving. The major threat here, besides simply overeating, is that seemingly harmless, mild-mannered turkey. Old Tom Turkey is really kind of a Jekyll-and-Hyde figure. One wrong move in storing, handling or cooking the bird, and it turns your kitchen and/or dining room into a festering fecundity of food poisoning.
Since we’ve survived the worst of it for this year, we can pat ourselves on the back for our successful holiday vigilance. And to see ourselves safely through New Year’s Eve, the best advice is that offered by MADD and SADD (I contemplated founding “Writers Against Drunk Driving,” but the acronym WADD lacked sufficient dignity. So instead, I formed WASTE: Writers Against the Same Things as Everyone else,) namely: don’t drink and drive.
# # #
It was after Christmas dinner and my daughter and I were sitting in the living room with our respective computers in our respective laps. It had been a quiet day, just her and me. We had exchanged presents in the morning, shared the cooking chores, and enjoyed a wonderful meal in the afternoon. Now we were winding down, checking emails and Facebook updates to see what we’d missed over the course of the day.
“I know what we can do,” my daughter piped up from behind her laptop. Set in my solitary, sedentary ways as I am, I had thought we were already doing something and hadn’t realized we were in need of another activity. But she – being young and spritely – was much quicker at emailing and Facebooking than I, and was ready to move on.
“What’s that?” I asked.
“We can make ‘sixty before sixty’ lists.”
“What’s that?” I asked again, since it is such a multi-functional question.
“It’s a list of 60 things you want to do by the time you reach 60 years of age.”
We had previously been talking about New Year’s resolutions and goals and how they differed. I had mentioned how I preferred to set annual goals rather than make resolutions. Somehow goals seem more tangible, more measureable and therefore more attainable than resolutions. I guess it depends on how you word the resolution. But a list of experiences one wants to encounter by a set age (a “bucket list” as some call it), now that sounded more fun than either resolutions or goals. I was game to take it on.
Since I am much closer to age 60 than my daughter, I decided to modify my endeavor and shoot for a “twenty in twenty” list: 20 things I want to do in the next 20 years.
Coming up with ideas was more challenging than I thought it would be. We googled bucket lists and found sites with ideas we could use. The vast majority of peoples’ lists contained travel goals: Italy, France, India, the Congo, outer space… you name it, someone wants to go there. Others wanted to see things: the Mona Lisa, the Grand Canyon, Ferrari World (home of the world’s fastest roller coaster). I leaned more toward the experiential ideas: attend a murder mystery dinner, get a professional massage, take a train trip somewhere, fly first class. My daughter liked some of the more daring ideas: go to the airport and take the next random flight.
So far I’ve come up with 11 ideas for my list. Some of them will be relatively easy, like “visit The Grotto Christmas light display in Portland, Oregon.” Since I live nearby, I might actually do that in the next week. It’s something I’ve always wanted to do, but now that I’ve written it down as a thing to be accomplished, I am more motivated to make it happen.
Other items will simply take time (i.e. “write 1,000 blog posts”). Still others depend on finances (“visit Vermont in the fall”).
Writing a bucket list is a good way to examine one’s priorities. In my case, it is also a way to look at my self-limiting beliefs. I have to fight the “I’m too old… (too broke… too out of shape…)” mindset. I have to be willing to take on something more challenging than sitting in my living room reading emails and checking Facebook.
I’m glad my daughter came up with the idea, and I will continue to work on compiling my list and begin working on making the items come to life. After today, I’ll only have 878 more blog posts to write. Don’t worry, I’ll spread them out over the next 20 years.
What’s on your list?
Image courtesy of Kittisak at
With Christmas all unwrapped for another year, our attentions will soon turn to the next milestone on the calendar, New Year’s Day. If we haven’t already, we will begin to outline our New Year’s resolutions for 2013 and plan out some goals we hope to accomplish in the next 12 months. But before we leave 2012 behind, maybe it’s a good time to look back and contemplate a bit on the past 12 months.
I came across a website, thoughtquestions.com, that poses one thought-provoking question each day. The questions are wide ranging, and actually make for good journaling prompts. Two of my recent favorites are “What makes you irreplaceable?” and “If not now, then when?”
The site offers some reflective questions for the end of the year. Among them are, “What memory from this past year makes you smile the most?” and “What could you have done better this year?”
I pondered those questions for myself, and found them rather challenging. First of all, my memory is so poor that looking back for poignant moments is a bit frustrating. Even the negative recollections don’t carry much emotional impact for me in retrospect. So what makes me smile? I would have to say my best memory of the year is the family get-together that I hosted just last week. Maybe that’s cheating since it is hardly old enough to count as a memory. But having my loved ones together and having the wherewithal to be able to host something like that meant a lot to me, and I thoroughly enjoyed myself.
As far as what I could have done better this year… Although I had a lot of struggles this year, my overall sense is that I did pretty well with handling them. There is, of course, always room for improvement. I could have exercised more, eaten more healthfully, cleaned the kitty litter boxes more frequently…
I landed in the hospital this year, lost my job, suffered two sprained ankles and continue to face financial challenges. But despite the “bad” things, I still feel I have been fortunate this year. All in all, I am pleased with how 2012 turned out for me. Maybe this is where a poor memory comes in handy.
I can put 2012 behind me with few regrets. So it’s on to the New Year and coming up with new resolutions. Another plus side to the whole memory thing: I forget my resolutions soon after making them, so there’s no guilt come March or April when I haven’t even started acting on them.
Maybe I should resolve to improve my memory next year.
Naw, forget it.
How would you answer the questions? Leave a comment.
“Christmas is not a time nor a season, but a state of mind. To cherish peace and goodwill, to be plenteous in mercy, is to have the real spirit of Christmas.”
Wishing you all the best for Christmas day and the new year.
Image courtesy of hinnamsaisuy
I’m in the midst of one of those pesky paradigm shifts. You know… those times when the shoe just doesn’t fit any more, your words don’t quite ring true anymore (even to yourself), and you have to look around and reassess the direction you are headed, the rules you live by, or – heaven forbid – the meaning of life.
Okay, I’m not questioning the whole meaning-of-life thing. Everyone knows the meaning of life revolves around owning the entire Dan Fogelberg album collection, right? So we don’t need to go there. But I’m finding that I need to rethink my relationship with depression. You see, I just don’t feel particularly depressed lately. In fact, I feel downright hopeful.
On the “About Me” page of my website, I talk about the ebb and flow of my depression, how sometimes it’s been hardly bearable while at other times I am able to “move forward with hopes and dreams and plans – conservatively,” to quote myself. When I wrote that page, I also indicated that I didn’t really think I would ever be “cured” of depression.
It’s not that I think I’m cured. And I look around for wood to knock on when I so much as say I’m feeling better. But the truth is I am feeling better. A lot better.
When I started writing the “Lifting the Weight” blog, I named it that because (to quote myself some more) “I am on this journey to … lift the weight of depression from my soul as best I can with what I have.” I gave the blog the subheading “balancing life with depression.” My intent was to talk about how we can successfully deal with depression on a daily basis.
The thing is, I’m no longer having to deal with depression on a daily basis, and my writing no longer has that particular focus. My topics have always strayed a little far afield (see my post on fly brains or the one on sound waves in outer space), but I find that lately I have to make a concerted effort to bring myself back to writing about depression.
So… I’m redefining the intent of the blog a little bit. To reflect that, I’ve changed the subheading from “balancing life with depression” to “living in balance.” A subtle shift, perhaps, but a meaningful one to me.
I don’t think I’ll ever be completely out of the woods as far as depression goes. And I’ll probably still write about it since it does still occupy my mind at times. But at least for now, it’s not occupying my soul, and I’m going to take full advantage of that.
Who knows, in another six months, I might take another tack on my journey toward a better, balanced life. Some say it’s the journey that matters, not the destination. Others ask: if you don’t know where you’re going, how will you know when you get there? I have a general direction in which I’m headed, that hasn’t changed. But I have changed, and I need to respect that and respond to it because that’s part of the journey.
I reserve the right to reinvent myself.
P.S. – Speaking of Dan Fogelberg, "let the music play…"
Well, today was the end of the Mayan calendar, and if the doomsday predictions were correct, you wouldn’t be reading this. Those of you who put off buying holiday gifts in the event of the end of the world will now have to hustle a bit to catch up to those of us who were pretty much oblivious to the approaching doomsday.
According to holidayinsights.com, the Mayan (Meso American) culture, which dates back about 6000 years, was the most highly advanced culture of its time in Central America. One of their areas of specialty was astronomy. The Mayans developed a calendar which began at 3114 BC and ended on December 21, 2012. Ancient Mayan stone tablets have been interpreted to predict the end of humanity as of the end of the calendar. Which of course was today.
Holiday Insights offers some of its own ancient stone tablet translations that might help explain the ending date on the calendar, including writings they interpreted as saying, “Can we stop now? I need an Espresso," and “We've gotta stop here. The Marlin are biting out in the Gulf of Mexico." Really, they had to stop somewhere, didn’t they? Even Hallmark calendars only extend so far.
December 21st was also noted to be National Look on the Bright Side Day. If the doomsday predictions had come true, just think how ironic that would be. Given that it is also the winter solstice in the Northern hemisphere, and thus the day with the shortest amount of daylight in the year, we could use a “bright” side day, for sure.
Now, if the world had ceased to exist, I wouldn’t be poking fun at the predictions today. I wouldn’t be doing anything today, as a matter of fact. But here we are, so onward we go.
But wait! Stop the presses! I just looked up a Wikipedia article that says “the cataclysmic or transformative events” are believed to occur on the 21st or the 23rd of this month. Dang! Well, if the world ends Sunday, won’t I be embarrassed. Or not. Just to be safe, I’m holding off on purchasing my 2013 calendar.
Let’s hope the doomsayers are wrong, if for no other reason than that December 24th is National Chocolate Day.
Wouldn’t want to miss that!
“The best part of life is not just surviving, but thriving with passion and compassion and humor and style and generosity and kindness.”
~ Maya Angelou
In loving memory of my father. August 1922 - December 2012.
Unlike many – okay most – holiday seasons, I am actually finding myself getting into the Christmas spirit this year. The tree's up, the carols are playing, the eggnog's been poured... No Scrooginess for me this year! Here’s a look back at a prior year’s holiday planning. From December, 1991:
The Perfect Holiday Plan
It seemed like a perfect plan. I had a ton of pre-holiday items to attend to last week, and my husband was going to be working extended shifts all week, so we decided to let Grandma and Grandpa have the kids for a few days. Dropping my daughters at my parents’ house on Tuesday, I did some quick shopping while in town, and then headed home.
On Wednesday morning, I awoke abruptly at five a.m. to a shrieking radio alarm clock and my shrieking husband, who was trying to locate and dismember the radio in the dark. I was fully alert by the time my husband’s fist met the off button, but I felt it would be something akin to blasphemy if I didn’t at least try to sleep in on this once-in-a-decade child-free opportunity.
So while my husband headed off to work, I forced myself to remain in bed until nine o’clock, a full hour and a half past the time my daughters would have routed me out with their incessant chattering, giggling, and knocking on the wall that separates their bedrooms. I think they communicate between themselves in a language that is half Gregorian chant and half Morse code. They send cryptic messages that roughly translate like so:
“Whose turn is it to spill the milk this morning?”
“It’s my turn. You did the apple juice last night, remember?”
“Oh, yeah. That really set Mom off. What a coup! Well, what should we ask for for breakfast today?”
“Let’s insist on Oatie-Boaties. Oatie-Boaties. Oatie-Boaties.”
“We don’t have any more. Dad emptied the last cereal box yesterday.”
“My point exactly.”
“Okay, it’s Oatie-Boaties or bust. Oatie-Boaties. Oatie-Boaties…”
Anyway, at nine I arose with a sore back, a throbbing shoulder, and a crick in my neck to show for my efforts at sleeping in. But I was eager to get to the tasks at hand. Let’s see, I needed to take the girls to see Santa, take the girls to find a Christmas tree and help them decorate it, take the girls Christmas shopping, and help the girls bake some holiday goodies.
Only one slight problem here. No girls. They were at Grandpa and Grandma’s house 66 miles away. With the seconds until Christmas ticking off like mad, in the midst of the holiday season when I should be inspiring my children with visions of sugar plums dancing in their heads, I had instead selfishly shipped them away. I metamorphosed instantly into a Scrooge. A Scrooge with a crick in my neck.
Now, I knew they were having a ball with their grandparents. But what was I supposed to do? I put on a Christmas record and sat down to write greeting cards. Two hours and two cards later, I gave up on that. Bah, humbug.
Okay, at least I could decorate the house while the girls were away. I went into town and bought evergreen boughs, then came home and artistically placed them about the house, interspersed with red and white candles and ornamental balls. Then I stepped back to survey my handiwork. It looked like a Christmas wreath had self-destructed in the middle of our house, spewing holly and cedar and fir boughs everywhere. Not the effect I was shooting for, but I’d settle for that.
When my husband came home from work, we took a drive through town. Everywhere we went, homes were decked out like a General Electric convention. Cars passed with children’s noses pressed to the windows, their eyes agog at the holiday scenes that twinkled and glowed just for them. And why weren’t my children here to see all this splendor? I sank deeper into the car seat and rubbed my sore shoulder.
“Let’s go home,” I mumbled.
On Friday we went to my parents’ house to retrieve the girls. As I expected, they were having so much fun with Grandma and Grandpa that they didn’t want to leave, but I lured them away with a holiday agenda that would tire out even the spriteliest elf.
Our tree is up now and decorated, with most of the ornaments hanging within the three-foot reach of our young daughters. And sitting at the foot of the tree, eyes as twinkling as the brightest Christmas decorations, are the two most precious gifts I ever received: my two beautiful girls.
# # #
Image courtesy of Simon Howden
In honor of 12/12/12, here are twelve quotes containing the word “twelve.”
“Twelve highlanders and a bagpipe make a rebellion.” ~Scottish proverb
“A jury consists of twelve persons chosen to decide who has the better lawyer.” ~ Robert Frost
“Too many church services start at eleven sharp and end at twelve dull.” ~ Vance Havner
“It is difficult to produce a television documentary that is both incisive and probing when every twelve minutes one is interrupted by twelve dancing rabbits singing about toilet paper.” ~ Rod Sterling
“Americans cannot realize how many chances for mental improvement they lose by their inveterate habit of keeping six conversations when there are twelve in the room.” ~ Ernest Dimnet
“We spend the first twelve months of our children’s lives teaching them to walk and talk and the next twelve telling them to sit down and shut up.” ~ Phyllis Diller
“The recommended daily requirement for hugs is: four per day for survival, eight per day for maintenance, and twelve per day for growth.” ~Virginia Satir
“When you sell a man a book you don’t sell just twelve ounces of paper and ink and glue, you sell him a whole new life.” ~ C Morley
“I speak twelve languages. English is the bestest.” ~ Stefan Bergman
“By working faithfully eight hours a day you may eventually get to be boss and work twelve hours a day.” ~ Robert Frost
“Twelve significant photographs in any one year is a good crop.” ~ Ansel Adams
“I know the answer! The answer lies within the heart of all mankind! The answer is twelve? I think I’m in the wrong building.” ~ Charles M Schultz
About me and this blog:
Having suffered at the hands of my own negativity for far too long, I decided it was time to claim the positive energy that is available to each of us for our own benefit and for the benefit of others. Hence, I've begun the process of "lifting the weight" of depression from my soul and moving into a lighter, freer space. Please join me in finding a way to a more balanced, affirming life.
-- Breaking Glass
-- Drawing Lines
-- Nautilus Shell: Golden or Marvelous?
-- Choosing Colors
-- Creating a Masterpiece
-- Challenge Yourself
-- How I Spent my Winter Vacation
“You have power over your mind, not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength.” ~Marcus Aurelius