Friday, April 1, 2016

Five (No-Fooling) Things Friday

When I shared my passing sadness with you last post, Ceri thoughtfully wondered whether the cause might be a "loss of moorings" and the accompanying "inability to plan" while not knowing where or what our next home would be. It's a comment worth reading in full if you've ever moved or will someday, but for me that recognition of this in-between space I'm caught in was what I needed. I especially loved hearing from someone else that "No amount of counting blessings helped." I mean, of course, I know I'm lucky overall, but some of this is tough for the duration. For me, at least, and for now.

But. Only so much whining a reader can tolerate, so today I'll count five blessings. More precisely, these are Five Activities I can feel productive about even while I can't plan for bigger stuff.

1. Depends how we define "productive," granted, but I can take advantage of the view each morning we have left here. I've begun using the Panorama feature on my iPhone for pretty great results, imho, achieved very easily. I may not know where I'm going, but I can remind myself each morning to sit in the beautiful Now.
2. Not nearly as attractive this next photo, but this is inarguably productive. I can feel good about using this process of moving to clarify what matters to me. This photo represents the files I'm sorting, whose contents you have similar versions of, perhaps. I was able to put together a file of purchase dates and warranties for the next owners: hot water tanks, septic pump, roof, skylight seal warranties. I shredded a few years' worth of financial statements, dental receipts, receipts and warranties for electrical appliances long gone, and today I'm moving on to consider what travel memorabilia we still want to hang on to. Maybe someday I'll regret the opera playbills I chucked into recycling, but somehow I doubt it. And even if I do, it is only likely to be a fleeting regret...
3. Yoga. Right now, the studio we love has a 30-day challenge on, beginning today. I'm thinking this might provide a decent temporary mooring, at least one rope... We're off to a Rise'n'Shine class this morning. How lucky am I that Pater likes to join me for a yoga workout!

4. Books! I can read anywhere, of course, and although I haven't been good about updating my reading blog, I've just finished what will be a contender for my year's favourite. Yes, it's only April, but Hanya Yanagihara's A Little Life is an astonishingly engaging and moving book, beautiful and poignant. And I do know that "poignant" is a sadly overused word but this book will puncture you, it will hurt you, and you will nonetheless find it redemptive (which, I concede, is another overused word that can't be avoided in this case). It's a huge book, too, so not for everyone. My daughter and my Parisan friend Jennifer, both discerning readers, recommended it to me, but with the proviso that I "consider myself warned" that it would stick with me (they might have even said it would haunt me) for weeks. As it will...Get yourself a copy. Consider yourselves warned.


5. Languages! Another mooring bollard I can throw a rope around is my gradual acquisition of Italian. I've been using Babbel for months now, but have decided to be more focussed and try to push myself into Intermediate over the next weeks. It's a comforting and rewarding way of giving this rather amorphous time a productive shape. I've also added Duolingo (which wouldn't have been as good to start from scratch with, I don't think, but is a fun complement now. I've also added French Duolingo, as an experiment in how well I can manage keeping the two straight. I'd love to revive my Spanish eventually as well. 

So I do have a few blessings to count, and today I think it did help to do that. I suspect I'm going to hit a few days again, before we're home. You will undoubtedly have to read some whingeing here again. But today? Sunrise, Some paper-sorting and shredding, yoga, language practice, and reading. And you? I'd love to hear your thoughts on those unmoored times when your ability to plan ahead was seriously curtailed by moving or other circumstances. Activities you have used to give productive shape to seemingly amorphous times. Or keep it simple and tell me what you're up to today or over the weekend. A simple Hello is welcome too, and I'll Hello you back. Happy Friday! Happy April!



46 comments:

  1. The attitude if gratitude is a mood lifter for sure...happy Friday!

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    1. Yes, when it can be mustered, gratitude is good. Happy weekend!

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  2. We do what we can on any particular day. It sounds like gratitude is a good frame of mind for you for today and it was good for you/ of you to share it. Tomorrow it might be memories and on Sunday something else. The thing is, you're open to it all and that is what allows resilience to triumph.
    I love your sunrise - I posted one too.

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    1. Thanks, H! Sometimes the call for constant gratitude grates, but when I come to it on my own, it seems worth sharing, as long as I don't, in turn, seem to chirp that it's all about attitude. That might be true, but there's an inherent downer buried in that exhortation. Thank goodness for resilience...
      Your sunrise was stunning -- loved it!

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  3. Hello!

    Unmoored times: I have no advice. I am a control freak. (My ex gently mentioned this to me years after we had parted. I still chuckle to think of it.) Nothing rattles me more than the inability to plan. The trick would be to stop the mind from whirling around searching for a plan, a solution, and just accept. Easier said than done.

    I bought a 'learning French' book to go with my DuoLingo. I need to know the rules! I am trying to block Italian completely for fear it will confuse me. My Italian is not as strong as your French. Hopefully by next year I will be able to do something besides shrug when someone speaks French to me. I do feel proud of my shrug though. :)

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    1. I can be flexible, spontaneous, unscheduled, about some things, at some times, but I have to admit to a large streak of control freak. (I don't have an ex, but can imagine the tinges to that chuckle).

      I did the same, picked up an Italian grammar and another Intro to Italian. I need something solid as well to turn back to. Babbel does introduce the material, but finding those rules again isn't as easy as with a well-indexed textbook. . . .and I'm sure your shrug is expressively Gallic! ;-)

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  4. Your strategy sounds good to me! Playbills and travel memorabilia are hard to part with but you have the memories. Pondside is right about resilience. Tomorrow will be different but progressing to Intermediate Italian, reading an engaging book, a cycle or yoga class certainly will handle today. One day at a time.

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    1. They are hard to part with, but I have to admit that they take up too much space for something I only rarely, if ever, look at.
      Another hoorah for resilience. ;-)

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  5. Limbo times call for: cleaning bathrooms, sorting out drawers, tidying up, reading old and loved books, watching mindless tv and going for walks. Just doing nothing is agonising. I don't think we should feel guilty about being anxious and struggling with day to day difficulties. Sometimes, you just don't feel gratitude. It passes.

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    1. It's true! Sometimes you just don't feel it, sometimes you do.
      Rarely does bathroom-cleaning make me feel better about limbo times!

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  6. I admire your progress in Italian! I tried to use the spring holidays to do some French on Babbel every day and felt very pleased with the way I was advancing. Then I had to spend three days in bed with a nasty cold, now I am back to marking papers with the same pressure as always, and the things I enjoy have to step back to the end of the line...
    I always find sorting out papers and throwing away stuff very satisfying, it feels like shedding ballast. When I retire (in little more than a year) I will have some downsizing to do, too. In a way, I am looking forward to it.

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    1. It's almost impossible to do extras like language learning during term, and then when it's break time, recovery needs to happen first. I hope your cold is vanquished.
      And you're right to look forward to it -- so satisfying to catch up, finally, on all the organising of the rest of one's life beyond the workplace.

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  7. I am reading these recent posts with sympathy and admiration. I truly appreciate your DO attitude. You keep moving. You keep pondering. You keep looking forward...though cautiously and wisely. Thank you for sharing this journey of change which is so relevant for my husband and I. There is no immediacy to our situation but me thinks that calling a real estate agent in for some long term advice might be wise.
    I do like to focus on blessings...not like an ostrich with my head in the sand...but with acceptance that even out of adversity and challenge can come growth, insight, and maturity. The proverbial "light at the end of the tunnel".
    Again...thank you for sharing.
    Charlene H

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    1. Oh, you're so very welcome, Charlene, and thanks for the encouraging words. I'm going to write a bit, soon, about why we pushed up our own moving schedule, but it's good to have thought about it for some time and I think your idea of long-term advice is wise.

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  8. I dislike 'in between' times, and always need to find activities to root myself to myself, if my environment can't supply it, so familiar activities like your yoga, running etc will I imagine be helping you stay grounded during this change. I am looking forward to seeing where you end up! X

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  9. I am going to have to find some strong moorings when my family leaves for New York in the summer. I will watch your passage with interest. Moving house would be the last straw for me just now but like you, I am clearing detritus in readiness for that day.
    I think the notion of the forever family home may be coming to a natural end. But you at least will be nearer family. On a brighter note, I have just booked a return trip to Italy after sixteen years. My Italian is reduced to Grazie, but it is a start.

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    1. Over the years I've thought several times that even just pretending a move would be a good move to clearing that detritus.
      Yes, I too think the forever family home is a dated idea, something else I've been thinking lots about and wanting to write some of that down. A trip to Italy? When? For how long? And what's the itinerary? So exciting! And you know, sometimes gratitude is all you need, so Grazie is a very good start indeed! ;-)

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  10. Just a quick comment to second "A little life." I am not done yet, and instead of reading it, I am listening to it. The reader is brilliant, by the way. Oh my goodness, what to say about the book so far? Definitely one of the best ones I have read in recent years.
    Good luck with Italian! It is my favorite language and I am very happy to be fluent in it. You may want to consider joining an Italian conversation Meetup group for a major boost in motivation. It's the best practice you can get.

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    1. I wonder how I'd do with listening to the book. There are a few spots I'd have to press the pause button, for sure. Several scenes actually made me gasp, and yet there's so much warmth and humanity.
      I've just looked up Meetup groups, and I can see this is going to be another advantage of moving to the city. A conversation group is just what I need next to start using Italian -- lucky you to be fluent.

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    2. You are going to enjoy those groups, of course always depending on the members. I have just come back from a very new polyglot group: we speak 30 minutes of French, German, Italian and Spanish. It's my favorite group, even though I also participate regularly in an Italian and occasionally in a French one.

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  11. What a lovely image. You will treasure those memories.

    Thank you so much for your kind comment. Good to hear that my putting into words what many of us have felt has struck a chord. In a good way, I hope.

    Catching up with friends on the cards for me tomorrow morning and planning a season of walks. Hoping for some spring weather too.

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    1. If you read through these comments, you'll see that your words have resonated with a number of readers -- thank you again!

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  12. I also saw Ceri's comment the other day and it resonated with me. I was traveling and didn't have time to respond then. But it described my state of mind so well that I copied it into a file to save.

    I've had realtors come to look at our house, and give us proposals. I'm 9 months into a very difficult divorce and finally was able to move out with my sons a week ago. Our house needs to go on the market but my husband is being difficult so the lawyers are fighting it out.

    My sons and I are in a rental house less than a mile from the much larger house that has been my home for the last 20 years, and their home for their entire lives. We are all much happier here, but for the first time in 35 years I am not living in a house I own, and it is strange. I hate the thought that I don't have a place that is mine, than no one can take from me. A year's lease, and I don't know where I will be after that. Probably not in this area, and I don't know whether I will go into another rental or buy a house.

    Unmoored. But I am counting my blessings, and I feel happy most of the time to be away from a toxic environment and in a peaceful home.

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    1. I can scarcely imagine how difficult your situation must be, Marie. Tough enough to sell a family home with the help of a partner, never mind with that once-upon-a-time partner turned adversary. You're wise to be counting your blessings, happy to be living more peacefully, but still, I can see where the unmooring would be tough. Casting off, though, that's what I'm trying to think for myself. I'm casting off, sailing into new seas. . .

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  13. Happy Friday! Ceri's comment is full of wisdom. Unmoored is a great way to describe the feeling - and apropos to you living on an island.

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    1. Exactly, Lorrie. Nautical metaphors 'r' us!

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  14. Only a few (blessings) :-)?
    Transition is about loss (one has right to be sad from time to time) but it is full of possibilities -
    I imagine,draw,make lists (I love to plan-a lot!),some of them would be very useful,some not.....think about possibilities.....and do a lot of errands ,it helps
    I am so sorry that I am doing nothing to preserve my foreign languages,I am forgeting very quickly (except my marching through english ),brava for you!!
    The book goes to the top of my list.
    It is 7 am and I am cooking sarma for my son's guests
    Have a nice weekend
    Dottoressa

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  15. I love 'unmoored'! In a strange way that is a good word to describe retirement in its early days. We all crave security and the knowledge of what going to happen next week, month, year, so change is unsettling. I have thoroughly embraced retirement but have had to create new routines to give myself a security blanket. Daily walks, a regular swimming day and most recently volunteering at a National Trust house. These things help to tether me although there is still a lot of unknowns. Not your sort obviously. Once your house is sold and your new home decided hopefully life will become more tethered. But it's good that you are having a good clear out. That is something we have started with retirement and it does give a great cleansing feeling. Whatever happens you do need to make sure your new home still gives you a feel good factor e.g. Beautiful views :) Have a good weekend. Barbara X

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    1. Tethering, mooring, anchoring. . . interesting, though, when I think about it that one gets things shipshape before casting off. . . And eventually, after casting off, comes into harbour, whether a new one or a familiar one. I hope. You have a good weekend as well, thank you!

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  16. I am another Ceri (from London) who has been following you and enjoying your posts for a while but I have not commented before. I do so admire you for your generosity in sharing your life and thoughts with your readers and I love the glimpses you allow of a life not dissimilar to my own but in another part of the world. I may have missed the post in which you explain but I wonder why you are leaving the house and island which you clearly love so much. I imagine it has something to do with the stage of life and the choices we have to make as income reduces and our children become more settled which are choices we are about to have to face in London. Casting off and slipping the mooring is just what it feels like! It is sunny and bright here today and begins to feel as if Spring is settling in rather than just teasing with brief glimpses of what is to come.
    Thank you so much for your blog -- I may be mostly silent but I follow and read with huge interest and gratitude.
    Ceri in London

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    1. Other friends with less common names - certainly away from those monikers' country of origin - may recognise the delight in finding a fellow so called.

      Greetings, Ceri in London.

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    2. Lovely to meet you, Ceri, and thanks for piping up. I'm getting ready to write about our decision to move, and you're absolutely right that it has to do with stage of life. Slipping the mooring is an expression I love -- that slight hint of sedition. . .

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  17. Well,my comment is lost
    So,once more,just a few words:
    Transition is both about loss and new possibilities,it is ok to be sad from time to time
    I imagine,make lists and sketches (I love lists!),do errands....
    Brava for italian and french! I will forget everything
    Thanks,the book goes to the top of my list :-)
    This morning I was cooking "sarma",now,at noon,I'm making a cake for my son's guests
    Have a nice weekend
    Dottoressa

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    1. Lists, yes!! There can never be too many. I even have a mental list of lists I need to make. . .
      I know you will be moved by this book. Let me know . . .
      And what is sarma, please? Are you at your son's now, or has he come home, with guests?

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    2. He is home for Easter holidays and has two different rounds of guests ( this weekend- very nice young couple,I'm enjoying the time they spend with me)
      And sarma- this are stuffed sauerkraut (cabbage) rolls.
      You have a full recipe : Croatian cooking-sarma recipe on "Chasing the donkey"
      I make it slightly different(of course,everybody does), but it is great dish,preparation is cca 1 hour(+slowly cooking for another 2-3 hours) and than you'll have it for days,even better with time (and you can deep freeze it,too)
      One of the best winter croatian dishes- I'm not so big fan but it is such a time saver (what's here not to love) and everybody like it (yes,it also smells a bit :-))
      If you are interested and are going to make it,let me know and I'll write my recipe
      D.

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    3. A coincidence -- my husband is making cabbage rolls for dinner tonight (but not with fermented cabbage, which is what I understand sauerkraut to be). And I'm making another batch of kimchi, so we do have an Eastern version of sauerkraut here ;-)
      And yes, I think I would like that recipe, although no rush at all. Perhaps another guest post? email me if you're interested. . .

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  18. Here's to a happy April and sunnier days ahead! Somehow I'm blessed that I'm able to focus on the good in a situation and somehow "move on" from the negatives. As I've mentioned before we've only moved once ...over thirty years ago to an area of the country we loved ie we didn't have to move ...we chose to ...applied for new jobs etc. I've loved pretty much every minute we've been here ...except perhaps for a few days when we returned from a visit to my mum to find the house flooded, ceilings down etc!! Even then it all turned out for the best ..although I didn't appreciate it at the time! I can't imagine not living here .... yet I'd also love to live somewhere else for a while. Really live, as oppose to just visit! Difficult one .... I really admire your decision to move bravely forward into something new and exciting. Hopefully you ll find somewhere you love as much as your present house or at least, grow to love. I think that's important. A beautiful view would be a major plus too! :)
    Rosie

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    1. I think my general nature is a positive one, also, although that doesn't seem to preclude me from some worrying.
      Funny, I'd also love to live somewhere else for a while also -- would really love at least six months in France, or perhaps Italy. . .
      We are determined that there will be something about our new home that we really love as well, although it will be much different than this one. At the very least, there will be grandchildren close by.

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  19. What a relief it was to transition from making lists about the old home, to lists about the new one. Even the drama of "house hunting" felt better than the wrench of good bye to a home of 25 years. Your posts take me back to that time, 5 yrs ago.

    Just last evening I was feeling grateful for this new home, much better suited to our lives now. So, while no one's experience is identical, I am wishing that sense of possibility to appear for you, and I am confident that it will.

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    1. I can't wait for that switch, and I think we're getting closer. I like thinking that we'll be experiencing a similar retrospection to yours, five years from now. Thank you!

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  20. You are blazing a trail for me and I'm reading your posts about your move hungrily. This will be me in 12 - 24 months. Previous moves have never demanded resilience - all but one done in the insouciance of youth, when the only thought was 'forward'. The one that didn't, the move to our current house of 24 years, was done in the numbness of grief after the early death of my mother, and with an 18 month old child to ground daily life. But now, leaving the house where our children have grown up will need all the coping strategies I can deploy.
    As to what I've used as Productive Activities, two of your list stand out. Views - in the sense of getting outside, into any bit of the natural world I can find. Feeling the rain/wind/snow/sun (probably in that order of probability here in Scotland). And Books - not new ones, but the familiar and comforting. That is probably why this spring following my father's death I have been compulsively re-reading my Chalet School series, and have just forked out a tidy sum to fill in some gaps in my collection. Not going as far as the £2,900 asked for one rare title, but still a few quid.
    Your list seems an instinctively healthy one - nurturing the soul, the intellect and the body. That's pretty impressive and sounds as if you are really attuned to yourself.

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    1. Yes, I'm finding this quite different from my previous moves as well. I suspect the lack of children to, as you say, "ground daily life" is a big factor in that difference.
      I don't know this Chalet School series, so I'm off to check out the appeal. Familiar, comforting, sounds absolutely perfect for this period. Not the 2900 pounds, particularly -- that's not comforting! -- but obviously this must be a well-loved series overall if others are that keen on collecting.
      Soul, intellect, body -- I thank you for pointing that out to me. Makes me feel wiser than I know I am ;-)

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    2. I think the Chalet School series was one of the things that ultimately set me on the path to studying French at university. If you do read any you'll have fun at how hilariously bad the French is, but of course I didn't know that at the time.

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  21. I don't miss the boxes of playbills we abandoned, although the choice was such a difficult one. What I regret is not journaling, or blogging, more of my thoughts on various things I have seen and heard. But even then, I rarely look things up. I am realizing how much I felt freed by letting go, but also how much I tend to be forward looking rather, and that too makes a huge difference.

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    1. I suppose I hold onto the playbills instead of journalling, when really, just a few notes in journal or blog would be more effective in retaining my impressions. I hope for the playbill to do that, but while it gives me back the name of the soprano or some description of the stage set, rarely does it bring back the more elusive details that captured me during the performance. You'd think there might be a resolution there . . . ;-)

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I'd love to hear your response to my post. Agree, disagree, even go off on a tangent, I love to know you're out there, readers. Let's chat, shall we? I apologize, though, for the temporary necessity of the Word Verification -- spam comments have been tiresomely numerous lately, and I'm hoping to break that pattern.

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