“How much better is silence; the coffee cup, the table. How much better to sit by myself like the solitary sea-bird that opens its wings on the stake. Let me sit here for ever with bare things, this coffee cup, this knife, this fork, things in themselves, myself being myself.”
—Virginia Woolf, The Waves

 

It was in the deserts of New Mexico that I learned to be alone, to be both inwardly and outwardly silent. The Desert Fathers (and Desert Mothers!) of the third century fled civilization for the desert, I fled the turmoil at home. I set out on foot, left the backyard, ended up in the foothills where I had a favorite trail. I walked that trail in all seasons, by the light of the sun and by the light of the moon.

When I traded desert for swamp, I longed for the silence of the desert. Traveling from the oppressive heat of New Orleans to the white hot light of the desert was a relief and an escape. In the desert I was more focused, seduced by the natural beauty surrounding me rather than the beauty of things. And then there was a marriage and kids which made traveling back to the desert harder and when I did, the experience was different, foreign.

 

the habit of being_ida

 

Over the last few weeks I have seen the film Ida five times. It is magnificent and dark. Ida is, literally and figuratively, a quiet movie, reflective of Poland’s state of mind during the early 60s.

Having been left at the convent’s door when she was a baby, Ida has spent her entire life in the convent. Before she can take her vows, her superior urges her to go out into the world (leaving the desert for civilization). She is told, too, that she has one surviving member of her family, an Aunt, and that she is to visit her.

The ending of Ida is probably one of the most satisfying endings I’ve seen. I wanted certain things for her and Pawlikowski (Director) only answers a few, leaving some questions open for interpretation. In the end we know Ida has changed and that she is going to inhabit and live her life in a way she previously hadn’t.

Ida struck a chord for me on many levels: storytelling (how to tell a quiet yet powerful story), visually (stunning), and personally. On a personal level, I think of Ida’s quiet life in the convent, her foray into the world, and return to the convent where she will presumably spend the rest of her life. Now that I’m more rooted than I have ever been, I realize I still crave what I found in the desert all those years ago. What has changed is where I find my desert—in putting pen to paper. I have traded in sand and clear blue skies for paper and ink but the final products, silence and solace, are the same.

Where do you wander to?

  • It’s so funny that you mention escaping to the desert since that is where I have been dreaming of being lately. I am originally from CA, but spent a lot of my youth in AZ too and most weekends found my family hiking in the wide open desert. Nowadays my escape is the shore,you probably guessed that, but there is some behind the scenes talk of a trip!
    Now to see about this movie ida, sounds interesting.ReplyCancel

    • Tracey, I didn’t realize that you spent time here in Arizona as a youth.

      For escape, I turn outdoors. I love to get lost in my garden or on a hike. Often these pursuits aren’t always practical or I am not truly alone. I have found that I can wander during our days just in my mind.ReplyCancel

  • True silence is difficult to find. The words are always tumbling around in my head. As a child I needed time alone and I would seek to find this either in my room or outside usually in a wood somewhere. Now I treasure those moments whenever they come to me as a mama, which is not often 😉ReplyCancel

  • Nicole

    Oh your words! Thank you for sharing! I loved “Ida” too. I love the desert, retreat, and solace of the pen and paper. It’s the greatest quiet I know.ReplyCancel

  • Well, how can I not watch Ida now? Soon! As far as wandering goes, the ocean or other large bodies of water are always attractive to me, but there are so many other places where I find the silence and solace you describe. Sometimes it’s right here at my coffee table, when the light is good.ReplyCancel

  • And the Virginia Woolf quote… So good.ReplyCancel

  • Your writing lately…feels different…and I love it. Not that I haven’t always been a fan, but something feels different…in a good way. Where do I wander to? Home…the Marshes of Glynn….with Gregg Allman…and Van Morrison, and of course a little Sidney Lanier thrown in.ReplyCancel

    • admin

      Rebecca, There is a LOT of stuff going on behind the scenes…waiting to see how things shake out and shape up. Nothing bad, just the waiting game. Maybe that is what you’re picking up on?ReplyCancel

  • Amanda, I just loved reading this. Ida sounds wonderful…quiet films are often the most powerful, I find. As for wandering, both literally and in my head, it usually involves the sea. Have a great weekend xxReplyCancel

  • my husband has been pestering me to watch this on netflix, but because you recommend it I will (ha ha). When I was in undergrad I had a long long walk through the town to the outskirts to a playground. I loved how as each house past the town noises disappeared and silence wrapped me. I did share this spot with a few friends but mainly I kept the spot to myself. Not once in four years there did I ever see a child playing. I think the playground was for me and my thoughts.ReplyCancel

    • admin

      Karen, did you watch Ida yet? Would love to hear your thoughts.ReplyCancel

  • I am so glad that you mentioned Ida. I have been seeing it pop up in my Netflix queue and for some reason I haven’t clicked on it. That will change tonight.
    In regards to where I wander…more times than naught a fictional cabin in the woods with snow, a good book, and some knitting.ReplyCancel

  • Juliann

    I have been longing to wander but it is a season of staying put with so much to do. I am encouraged by your idea that wandering can be done with pen and paper. Why did that not occur to me?ReplyCancel

    • admin

      I’m glad I could be of help, Juliann!ReplyCancel

the habit of being_february and march 2015 reading list

 

I kept thinking I’d get my February reading list posted and then, ho! it was the second week of March and I was still plowing through the stack of books to-be-read and well, here we are kicking April off with a catch up post.

 

“And men go abroad to admire the heights of mountains, the mighty waves of the sea, the broad tides of rivers, the compass of the ocean, and the circuits of the stars, yet pass over the mystery of themselves without a thought.”
―Augustine of Hippo, The Confessions

 

In between reading these other books, I finished my Lenten reading of The Confessions. I first read this in my sophomore year of college in a philosophy class and reading it all these year laters, I see what a great thinker Augustine was. Doing a mental inventory, it’s safe to say this is the first memoir I read all those years ago—a confession to God, written in the fourth century yet it reads as modern; his writing is startling and clear.

+++

I’ve had Longbourn on my shelf for a while now. This is the reimagined telling of Pride and Prejudice which takes the reader beyond the drawing room and into the kitchen and servant’s quarters. If you’re a P & P fan, this will certainly be an interesting read and create a fuller, more colorful picture of life in Regency England.

+++

Off Course is set in the early 80s and focuses on Cressida, a PhD student in economics who moves into her parents cabin to write her dissertation. She is suffering from stagnation and ennui and a lack of motivation to finish her dissertation in economics. The writing is superb but this is a story about the choices Cressida makes, and her decisions left me shaking my head in frustration.

+++

The Unspeakable. Where to begin? This is a collection of ten personal essays on topics that Daum (or society) considers taboo.
The opening essay, “Matricide” begins:

 

“People who weren’t there like to say that my mother died at home surrounded by loving family. This is technically true, though it was just my brother and me and he was looking at Facebook and I was reading a profile of Hillary Clinton in the December 2009 issue of Vogue.”

 

I was floored and a bit appalled yet had to keep reading. And while I initially felt I was reading something I shouldn’t, Daum invites you to look, to read. The rest of the collection ranges from food to children to dogs is stylistically perfect but like anything that showcases the author’s thoughts and feelings, isn’t always easy to read. That said, if you want to see how an author writes an impeccable personal essay, you can’t go wrong with Daum’s essays.

+++

“Very slowly, he turned a full circle, taking in the nothingness of it all. It seemed his lungs could never be large enough to breathe in this much air, his eyes could never see this much space, nor could he near the full extent of the rolling, roaring ocean. For the briefest moment, he had no edges.”

― M.L. Stedman, The Light Between Oceans

 

My absolute favorite read of February and March is The Light Between Oceans which I received as a birthday gift from my Red Bean (my, the girl knows me well!). Returning to Australia after four years on the Western Front, Tom Sherbourne takes a job as the lighthouse keeper on Janus Rock, an isolated island off the coast. He marries young Isabel and they make their home on isolated Janus Rock. After miscarriages and a still birth, Isabel hears a baby crying from a boat washed up on shore. And this is where their love story becomes a tragic love story. This is a true-to-life story—it’s not always happy but it is reflective of the human condition, bad decisions, desperation, and isolation.

 

What are you reading? Or better yet, what should I be reading?

  • i ADORED Longbourn. so much. i’m a late jane austen lover, and it took me awhile to get into P&P, and sigh. the book gave us a different perspective, an unflattering perspective of a most beloved family.

    it took me a long time to finish the Light Between Oceans and it’s not from lack of liking it. i think i liked it enough that i didn’t want it to end, but also i had a feeling of such foreboding that i couldn’t bear to know what would happen next, if that makes any sense.

    i picked up Amy Poehler’s Yes Please yesterday, i only made it through the preface. actually i’m still there, and i don’t think i’m sold on it. i also tried to read The Book of Joe by Jonathan Tropper thinking it would be like This Is Where I Leave you. it’s not.

    that’s it on the reading front. i think i’m taking a break in general from reading, books and online stuff.ReplyCancel

    • admin

      Lan, Longbourn was certainly a different perspective and I enjoyed it. I know what you mean about the foreboding feeling with Light but I was still driven to find out what happened and just how bad it would be. Maybe I afflicted with morbid curiosity…

      So glad to hear about Yes Please…wasn’t sure if I wanted to read it or not and I think I’ll pass!ReplyCancel

  • I really, really enjoyed Meghan Daum’s book. I found her writing beautiful and powerful and loved her unflinching ability to look at things we all find fascinating but may be afraid to really address. And I loved The Light Between Ocean too, mostly the extraordinary descriptions of light and air and sea in the first half. Lovely. I’m reading Elisabeth Egan’s book A Window Opens which comes out in August and it’s downright wonderful. oxReplyCancel

    • admin

      Lindsey, While reading Daum’s book I wondered if I could right as unflinchingly. My inner voice and dialogue is unflinching but I’m not sure how that might come across in my writing…how an audience might receive & read it. Rambling but that is what I’ve been grappling with since reading it.

      I have three books in my stack to read before a May release…I need more reading time!ReplyCancel

  • I thought about taking The Light between the Oceans with me to Budapest, so it’s floating up near the top of my TBR pile. I’ll try to push it into the near queue. Thanks for the recommendation.ReplyCancel

  • Fantastic list – I’m so glad you shared it. I’ve been looking for something good to read & now I have three to add to my list. (Well, two; The Light Between Oceans is downloading onto my iPad as I type…) xoReplyCancel

  • that last book is going on my list. I wish we could all gather in real life and have book discussion, with food :) I think that would be such fun!ReplyCancel

  • I am in a bit of a rut with my reading at the moment. I have made some really poor choices recently, luckily they were library books so I could take them back. I am about to start a Philippa Gregory book, I have heard good things about her as a author so I have high hopes………

    I have come across the M.L. Steadman book but I haven’t read it, I have found, since becoming a mother, that there are certain books I just cannot stomach any longer.ReplyCancel

  • I read Stedman’s work a few months ago at my mother’s urging. It is quite a story woven through with the complexities of love and loss. As always, thank you for the recommendations.ReplyCancel

  • Why did I think you’d already read “The Light Between Oceans” I wonder? I just finished “All the Light We Cannot See” (loved!) and am reading “Still Alice” right now.ReplyCancel

  • I am quite intrigued by your response to Daum’s essays. You’ve left me compelled to pick them up, yet hesitant. I’ve just begun Sebald’s novel, Austerlitz. He’s already taken me to the Antwerp Nocturama in the late 1960s. I’d never heard of such a thing. I cannot get the raccoon he describes out of my mind. My guess is he will continue to captivate. We shall see…ReplyCancel

  • Great list! I enjoyed “The Light Between Oceans” as well, although I sometimes had trouble with the decisions Isobel made. Have you read “Everything I Never Told You” yet? I thought it was terrific.ReplyCancel

    • admin

      I have read it, Grace, and I really enjoyed it!ReplyCancel

  • oh I LOVED The Light Between Oceans. loved it. I was so moved and had to just let it soak in for days afterwards.

    I’m reading The Grapes of Wrath, and picked up Yes! (Amy Poehler), Keeper of the House, and Free to Learn from the library today.ReplyCancel

  • […] provocative, sometimes brutal, funny, essays. I added the book to my list after seeing a quote on Amanda’s blog back in April, the inappropriateness of life experiences and the candor of Daum’s writing […]ReplyCancel

Being Seen: A few thoughts on spring, the Violent Femmes, and what my 14-year-old self might think of me now.

 

“Being Seen: A few thoughts on spring, loneliness, the Violent Femmes, and what my 14-year-old self might think of me now.”

 

Picture this: It’s a glorious spring day, cool rather than hot (which is rare here in south Louisiana where we go from winter to summer in a week flat), and I’m driving—windows down, sunroof open. “Blister in the Sun” is blaring and I’m scream-singing at the top of my lungs and chair dancing in the driver’s seat. The kids have joined my party and are dancing madly.

While I’m sing-screaming, Let me go on, like a blister in the sun, I’m remembering the spring of my freshman year, riding in J’s white convertible VW Cabriolet (lucky her), a cloudless desert sky overhead. Our school was new, built in the middle of a mesa, surrounded by nothing but desert and tumbleweed. Sitting on Wilshire Ave., top down, we inhaled the scent of freedom as we crept slowly away from the school. Making the right turn on Barstow, the volume turned up, J hit the play button, and the unmistakable opening of “Blister in the Sun” blared from the speakers with the three of us sing-screaming, When I’m a walking / I strut my stuff / and I don’t even know why…. This was how we shook off our day. There were other songs too: “Superman” (R.E.M.), “What You Need” and “This Time” (INXS) , “Should I Stay or Should I Go?” (The Clash), “Call Me” and “Heart of Glass” (Blondie) but that spring, we always started with the Violent Femmes and we always took the long way home down Paseo Del Norte, up to Tramway and along the Sandia foothills. We went out of our way to waste gas, to be in motion as if being in motion would prolong the unbearable loneliness we all felt at home. We drove. We laughed. We sang. And for that time we forgot the stuff waiting for us at home.

Back to present day, adult me. Mama me. We went to dinner at the home of my kids’ godparents. These people have known my husband since he was in first grade, watched him grow, welcomed me with open arms when I popped up on the scene, and now, watch my kids grow. Herding my crew in the door, arms full with baby, flowers, and wine, there are arms around my neck and Mrs. N. says, I saw y’all having a party in your car today. I blush and laugh, embarrassed as though I was caught—caught at what? too much fun? driving recklessly while dancing?—and she put her hand on my cheek and said, It’s good to see a mama having fun with her kids. And I laughed, relieved. She sees me, she really sees me, and she accepts me. She celebrates my highs, she is steadfast through my lows, she calls in the morning to make sure fevers have broken and kids are on the mend. I’m learning (always learning) that I’m not all bad and that I’m actually likable despite years and years of being convinced and believing otherwise.

After dinner we drove home, everyone sleepily singing along to “Into the Mystic” (Van Morrison) and I thought about 14-year-old me and how, if she could see me now, she’d be impressed I made it. I think she’d be damned proud too.

 

PS: After the kids went to bed I watched Sixteen Candles and all these years later Jake Ryan is still dreamy.

  • Thank you Amanda, your post today took me back many years and singing in the car with my babes. Oh, I love Van Morrison, I danced with my son at his wedding to that awesome voice.ReplyCancel

    • admin

      Love that you love Van Morrison, Tracey!ReplyCancel

  • Gosh those song titles take me back…thank you for that. This is a beautiful piece Amanda.ReplyCancel

  • Yes. To all of this.ReplyCancel

  • Jake Ryan <3 for life.

    have you seen this: tbt jake ryan

    his daughter is beautiful.ReplyCancel

    • admin

      Lan!!! Thank you for the link and yes, she is beautiful (but dang, Jake Ryan can’t have kids!).ReplyCancel

  • What a wonderful trip down memory lane ;). I wonder what my fourteen year self would make of me……..you got me thinking.ReplyCancel

  • gwynyth

    This is so beautiful Amanda. XOReplyCancel

  • Jenny

    If anyone should forgive us or congratulate us, it should be ourselves! Sounds like you’ve come full circle Amanda.ReplyCancel

  • I love this memory. It feels familiar, and Into the Mystic is one of my all-time favorite songs. xoxoxReplyCancel

  • Kirsten

    As ever, I love ALL of this, Amanda! But this:

    I’m learning (always learning) that I’m not all bad and that I’m actually likable despite years and years of being convinced and believing otherwise.

    This oh so resonates with me. I’m pleased your 14 year old self would be proud. I’m proud of you too, and a little bit proud of me!ReplyCancel

  • “…..the unbearable loneliness we all felt at home…..” oh girl, I’ve lost count the number of times I ran away by taking the long way home. My song of choice was The Killing Moon by Echo and the Bunnymen. So much angst. Clove cigarettes and dyed hair. I like to think we shared the same sky with the top down never dreaming we’d know such beauty as we do now. Thank you for taking me there. XoxoReplyCancel

    • admin

      C— I still know that song by heart! And my kids laugh thinking of me with purple hair & driving a motorcycle & all the other stuff but hey! it’s one part of who I am. Now isn’t perfect but peace has replaced the angst and that is good! xoReplyCancel

  • Manise

    Such a though provoking post….. Glad your 14 yo self back then had a friend to ” runaway” with in the car even if for a while. You are beautiful, kind, thoughtful, lovable and so likable!!! Happy for you to be able to share your 14 yr old self with your kids and be seen. <3

    For me in HS it was Seals and Crofts, Clapton, Bad Company, Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, Steve Miller, Yes….. and many more. Love Blister in the Sun!ReplyCancel

  • So good. You just took me away. I was right there with you for all of this. And Jake Ryan… Yes. Dreamy. Thanks for the beautiful escape, Amanda.ReplyCancel

  • My best friend and I have this conversation frequently – thankful…so incredibly, very thankful…that we survived and lived to tell the tale. How proud we are of how far we’ve come and how beautiful these lives we never hoped to have are. Those pieces of us that only we know.ReplyCancel

  • Mary

    ‘YMCA’ was a favorite family car dance when my four were young-we really loved all those arm movements. But, I also remember being stuck in traffic on the DC beltway with just one child in the car–he must have been 13 at the time. Bohemian Rhapsody came on the radio and I started to “chair dance”. My son didn’t quite get into the spirit of things. He simply slid down in the seat (not easy with a seat belt) to hide his embarrassment. He’s 33 now and laughs at the memory.ReplyCancel

  • I think both of our 14 year old selves would be pleased. I spent much of high school in the same manner with the same soundtrack. Oh how I wanted a Cabriolet of my own. Your babes are lucky to have you as their seat dancing mama. Your are quite likable – forget the lies you were toldReplyCancel

  • Oh Amanda, I related to this post so much, especially where you emphasize that you are still learning that you are not all that bad and are actually likable despite years of believing otherwise! It still amazes me when I realize how I’ve gone from feeling like a misfit 14 year old, eager to fit in, to a woman with a well loved circle of friends who for some reason like me just the way I am. Of course, at 56, it’s about time that I that realization!

    Thank you for sharing this memory with us.ReplyCancel

  • I read this a few days ago and have mulled over the story. I like thinking of my youth and how I felt and comparing it to how I am now. What impresses me most of my now self is that it still needs improving, I’m still hard on myself and my running dialogue is not the truth. I am imagining you with your crew singing laughing and just “being”. Loved this post.ReplyCancel

    • admin

      karen, i still have that dialogue too. sad but true. i often wonder if i’ll ever truly quiet it. i’m glad you know that dialogue isn’t the truth—you are a lovely and giving person! xoReplyCancel

  • […] Being Seen – Habit of Being. This reminds me of the conversations m best friend and I have on a regular basis. I’ve said here many times that I could never imagine the life that I now get to live. It’s pretty amazing. […]ReplyCancel

  • Just discovering your blog, and this post has me hooked. Absolutely beautiful writing, and I’m damned proud, too xxReplyCancel

The Habit of Being_Ennui and Creativity

 

“Whether you’re a mother, a painter, a writer, a runner you must be in training to be ready to receive wonder/opportunity/the muse when it arrives.”

 

I had a conversation last week about ennui. About how the doldrums are an easy pit to fall into yet difficult to climb out of. I know this all too well. This from a woman who wants a bit more than motherhood—room to explore interests, room to uncover passion(s).

I told her about my days. I told her about rhythm and how each time you settle into one it changes (ours seems to change with the seasons). I spoke about how each day seems to resemble the day before and the day before that. How some days we can succumb to the sameness, move through our day with eyes half-closed (half-open?). You may go through several days like this and finally something snaps and you know you need change—something small, anything.

That night you give yourself a pep talk over a glass of wine and you vow that tomorrow will be different, tomorrow will be a fresh start. You get up in the morning, shower and get yourself dressed in something besides yoga pants (and you’re feeling better already), you fix your kids breakfast, and hustle them out the door so you can grab something large, hot, and caffeinated before you take them to the park. Sipping your coffee you watch them play with an open notebook in your lap and you write and scheme and dream about how you can open your heart’s doors.

Maybe it seems silly but this slight variation in your day has lightened the load on your heart. Yes, the days run together and can often feel like a series of Groundhog Days but the truth is, you were operating with half-closed eyes, numbed to the wonder that surrounds you. Whether you’re a mother, a painter, a writer, a runner you must be in training to be ready to receive wonder/opportunity/the muse when it arrives. Wonder will come and it will leave but you won’t despair. You’ll continue to prepare dinners for your family, to make your art, to put pen to paper, to run every morning. This is ebb and flow. This is part of the process.

I’d love to hear how you find wonder amidst the ennui life throws your way!

PS: My monthly newsletter will hit inboxes at the end of the week and it is full of inspiration. If you haven’t signed up yet, it’s not too late—sign up in the sidebar!

  • words that settle softly in my heart. absolute beauty and truth here. thank you. this need/desire for more than motherhood resonates deeply with me…the one constant in my life (and has been since becoming a mother) is rising around 5 a.m. every morning (except weekends) to read or journal and sip my coffee in silence. truly, the only solitude I can guarantee in my day of tending to the children and our home. this ritual fills me up, centers me and gives me the energy to face most whatever may come my way in a day. certainly, I yearn for more time than this hour, and that will come in time…(hopefully)…for I have dreams to realize and I won’t give up or give in until they come true.

    looking forward to the newsletter!! most definitely a happy mail day when I see your words in my in-box.

    sending love you way…ReplyCancel

    • oops….”your” not “you” way….hit send too soon!ReplyCancel

    • admin

      april, i miss those early morning wake ups. well, i still get them, it’s just with a babe in my lap. i am trying (really, really trying) to remind myself this is a stage and i’ll get those mornings, that quiet time, that soul nurturing time back. until then, i’ll keep dreaming.

      xoReplyCancel

  • I find it useful to differentiate between living mindlessly (feeling the drudgery, the repetition–what you’re describing I think) and the very necessary, to me anyway, fallow times when I’m not creating much. I need a rhythm of regeneration and have to remind myself it’s okay to just be a consumer of other people’s creativity some days–it’s okay “just” to read, for instance. So some days the duties of house and children, followed by curling up with a good book, is the sum of it for me. But I’ve found a resting, quiet period–days, weeks, whatever–is often followed by an energized, creative period. I need both.ReplyCancel

  • I read this and felt your words, Amanda. For me it is so necessary to want more than motherhood. While it is one of the most wonderful experiences of my life and an honour, being a mother, for me, is only a part of who I am. Making sure there is time to nurture the other things that make me whole is so very important. Being creative plays such a huge role in this balance.

    Some weeks just don’t seem to want to lend themselves to much else other than getting through them and then suddenly in the midst of it all you are struck by inspiration and all is well again. However, when I am bogged down I find getting out the camera and photographing my day {well, parts of it} can give me a completely different perspective and lift my mood.

    You are so right, this is the ebb and flow and very much part of the process.

    Hugs, Jane xxReplyCancel

    • admin

      Jane, Yes! I think, until recently, the only person I’d confessed this need for more than motherhood to was my husband. It’s such a touchy subject and I don’t want to be judged nor do I want others to think I judge their choices. My well being requires more than mothering—it’s how I smooth the rough edges and make myself bearable 😉ReplyCancel

      • I know what you mean about it being a touchy subject, Amanda, but I am all for wanting more than motherhood. I think it teaches our children that we are a whole being with many facets. For me, that is so healthy. A big fat YES for smoothing out the edges! Have a great weekend xxReplyCancel

        • admin

          I wholeheartedly agree, Jane!

          Happy weekend to you!ReplyCancel

  • Your words have wrapped me up in comfort. I have been so busy these past few weeks that I feel like I have slipped off the wagon. Today I relished some beautiful moments whilst being outside which is the best nourishment for me. The sunlight through the trees, a conversation with my daughter as we walked together holding hands, a kingfisher that flew from under the bridge we were all stood on, and continued up the river, it was magical.ReplyCancel

    • admin

      It sounds like a magical day. I hope you have many more to nourish you.ReplyCancel

  • I find the ordinary so soothing and calming so I savor it and enjoy. I like to have a focus for each year, month, week and sometimes daily. I think because mine are grown and gone my days are easier to fill with what I want. When they were little and my full time job, I squeezed in time for myself during naps, waiting for them at practices and any which way I could. I had a list a mile long of what I wanted to do so I had lots of choices when given the time.ReplyCancel

    • admin

      Karen, love this especially the mile long list. Mine is constantly growing 😉ReplyCancel

  • Jenny

    I’ve tried to write a comment to your post 2 or 3 times but can’t seem to pin point my thought and ennui keeps getting in my way :)
    I’ve been thinking about monks and possibly Buddhist monks in particular and about meditation. It seems they’ve transformed ennui to the opposite. Complete attention to and appreciation for the mundane. So I find myself embracing the “un”excitable times that allow us to see. My favorites-the shape of my son’s head, lashes on round cheeks when they sleep, cat ate the canary grins, bird songs in the back yard, the quality of light in the springtime and on and on. Beauty abounds when life is on auto pilot.ReplyCancel

    • admin

      love this, jenny. thanks for sharing!ReplyCancel

  • Heading straight toward the nearest large body of water and looking out over it is often how I seek answers. It’s like an addiction, something I crave if I’m away from it for too long.ReplyCancel

    • admin

      Denise, I grew up in Abq and my craving was to be up, up in the mountains. When I moved to Montreal, I spent a lot contemplating the St. Lawrence. Now, it’s the window in my dining room that looks over our expansive side yard, our beloved old magnolia and a sprawling live oak. My addiction has changed with time but it’s still about turning my gaze outward, to something much larger than I am when looking for answers.

      I need to get to a large body of water soon!ReplyCancel

the habit of being_on music

 

I lived with two roommates in college and one loved Joni. Worshipped would be the more accurate word. My other roommate and I were Leonard Cohen people and while M wailed along with Joni in her room, E and I listened to Leonard.

At a recent work-related dinner one of the wives was appalled to discover I didn’t like Joni. I made some offhand comment along the lines of Joni not being my style and the wife ceased to make conversation in my direction for the rest of the night. For reals. It was like being in 3rd grade again and being frozen out on the playground because you wore the wrong bow in your hair. On the way home, we were rehashing the dinner and Mister said, “Thank you for not liking Joni, I couldn’t imagine a lifetime spent listening to that caterwauling.”

I decided maybe I should give Joni another chance, maybe twenty years later Joni would hit a nerve (in the good way). I listened to songs off several albums and still, after all these years, my dislike of Joni’s music is strong. The Nacho wanted to know “why are you torturing my ears?” And so, another failed attempt at liking Joni and I’m okay with this. And if you like Joni, I’m glad and I promise not to hold it against you.

Unrelated to Joni, the Nacho has some serious dance moves with a lot of footwork. I decided it might be fun to show him some James Brown videos because well, footwork. We started with his appearance on Ed Sullivan and the Nacho loved it. He’s got the shuffle, shuffle (because really, what would you call it?), spin, shuffle, shuffle, I feel good down pat. Now he wants a suit.

PS: I’m sending out a newsletter next week. If you’d like to receive it, sign up in the sidebar ———>

  • caterwauling is my new favorite word.

    i went through a Tori Amos phase in high school, i swear she was the one who got me through my teens. i’m sure my parents thought everything about Little Earthquakes on repeat was shrill and whiny.ReplyCancel

    • admin

      lan, i tried really hard to like tori, really liked her lyrics but sometimes the singing became moaning and well, i just couldn’t.ReplyCancel

  • Nope, not a Joni fan at all!
    I grew up listening to Johnny Mathis, Sam Cooke,and Otis Redding. Those musicians are who my Dad liked and that’s what was played in the house, now I can’t help but think of my Daddy when I hear their songs, bittersweet.ReplyCancel

  • Leonard Cohen. Well done. Maybe I shouldn’t mention that I was into bands like The Replacements when I was in college.ReplyCancel

    • admin

      Love The Replacements! Saw them, the Psychedelic Furs, and Morrissey in the same week whilst in undergrad…such good memories!ReplyCancel

  • And now I’m listening to I’ll Be You and smiling at my younger self. Thanks for taking me back, Amanda.ReplyCancel

    • admin

      Denise, happy, happy memories! We had a shindig for my son’s birthday and The Replacements were a part of last night’s playlist :)ReplyCancel

  • Lindsay Sledge

    I do like a few songs off Blue but otherwise she has never done it for me either. I have been known to never talk to people again that bad mouth Dylan, so I can understand where she was coming from. haha I’m only half kidding.ReplyCancel

  • At least she didn’t play you tracks and her favorite album. Shudder. Shades of years ago for me. I cannot tolerate Paul McCartney in the least. It is possible I made some people cry with this admission. For what it’s worth I listen almost exclusively to women singers and never ‘got’ Joni Mitchell!ReplyCancel

  • people are weird…not you, her. I’m not a fan of Joni either but then I like to listen to silence most of the time, it drives my music loving husband mad :)ReplyCancel

    • admin

      Karen, I have come to greatly appreciate silence since having children!ReplyCancel

  • I like Joni, and her “Chelsea Morning” is one of my favorite happy songs. That said, I don’t mind your not liking her, if you don’t mind that Leonard Cohen isn’t my cup of tea. I like that we can all agree we like music and that the word has enough space in it for all of us.ReplyCancel

    • admin

      Agreed! It was so odd to be cold-shouldered over something so trivial.ReplyCancel

  • How odd that you should be cold shouldered for expressing your own opinion. Perhaps they weren’t worth talking to anyway? I can’t say I have ever been drawn to the music of Joni Mitchell either, caterwauling is a good description. We are lucky to have so much choice of music to listen to.ReplyCancel