Seeking enrichment

Life can get pretty routine sometimes. Work or school, homework or housework, eat, sleep, repeat. It’s so important to find things to enrich our days. That can be a significant other/spouse, pets, volunteering, a hobby, or a project.

I love playing with my two crazy cats and having them snuggle while I’m watching TV or checking my social media on the laptop. One of them seems to always want to climb on top of me just when I’m ready to settle down to write.  Hey, that’s another enrichment: writing or other creative endeavors. More  importantly, working on long term goals or projects.

Of course, that’s more “work” oriented. You still need something more leisurely or enjoyable in your life. Personally, I find myself doing less of that lately. A friend asked me today if I had done any origami lately. I haven’t. I made a couple birds when I visited with her and my other good friend, her hubby, about a month ago. He’s an artist and did a drawing while we folded. That was the first time I did any paper folding for quite a few years.

I also haven’t taken my camera out too much in recent years. I love photography. I don’t know if it’s just getting older and having less energy, or if it’s depression, or a little of both.  There’s also the lack of time.

The good thing is that I still have interest in these things, so I guess I’m not too depressed. (I have bipolar depression, but take medication for it.) If you don’t know, loss of interest in things you normally enjoy is a sign of serious depression.  I just wanted to throw that in there, since mental health problems often go undiagnosed or untreated.

So, in the spirit of renewal anytime, as I discussed in my last post, I’m going to make more of an effort on all my interests.

Let’s see…. where can I go photoggin’ this weekend?

I’ll let you know.

Carpe diem.

A season for change

In nature, spring is, of course, the time of renewal.  Trees budding, flowers blooming, wildlife rearing young.  But, for people, we grow up with the new school year starting in fall, going away to college, football season starts, and for many workers, vacations for the year are done and the busy time of year gets underway.

So, I always thought of fall as the time of renewal. Besides school, I started a couple different jobs in the fall, and I moved out on my own for the first time one September.  I tended to seek out new things as autumn moved in. I joined a film making group one fall, started volunteering at an independent film theater another year.

Then, over the years, I started to lose that association of renewal with fall. Any schooling was a distant memory, started my current job in the spring about three and a half years ago. I haven’t really done anything new in the autumn for a long time.

So, while it’s fall now, where I am, maybe the new theme should be renewal anytime. I hope to get my writing back on track now,  not just posting here, but working on writing projects. I’m not working overtime right now since it’s temporarily unavailable. That makes it a good time to renew and get into good habits, so that when I have less time, I can still do what I need to do in my off hours.

In other words, there’s no better time than the present. While it’s okay to associate a certain time with renewing or trying new things, the flip side is that you don’t need to save something special for that time.  Anytime is a great time to grow,  or renew, or branch out, connect or reconnect.

So, wish me luck on my creative endeavors and get busy with your own! Carpe diem!

More things I learned from my cats

One of my two cats seems to get more and more affectionate and, well, cuddly, in the last year or so. He’s about five years old. He’s a big fella but doesn’t seem to realize it. He likes to get up on my chest right up by my chin while I’m sitting on the sofa, or even out on the deck.

It’s hard to see over him and I get fur in my face, but I don’t mind. Tonight, while he was doing that on the deck, he slid over against my arm, which was resting on the armrest, his head resting on my belly. It was the epitome of total relaxation.

He was so thoroughly cozy and comfy. You could tell he felt as safe and content as any creature could. I wish I could feel that way. I really can’t think of a time, since being a small child in my parents arms, that I felt so safe, comfortable and relaxed. I know I’ve never had a long term significant other, but I don’t know if any adults feel that secure, do they?

I suppose it depends on the ability to give, or receive, unconditional love. That includes two-way trust. My cat couldn’t even ideate betrayal of trust, and my brother and I are not capable of mistreatment of any creature, especially one as loving as this. He also doesn’t have the human concerns and responsibilities of subsistence and such things. So, maybe it’s a little easier for Smokey to veg out in total comfort and security.

Well, of course it is. But when I look down at his furry little face resting on my arm, I get a moment of that peace and comfort, vicariously.  Everyone needs to have some peaceful, quiet moments to reflect. The world would be a better place if we could all do that.

Difficult people

What do you do with those people who are just plain difficult. You know what I mean. They always have to get their way. They don’t like to share, don’t work and play well with others. They’re petty, stubborn, manipulative, and so on.

If you have a choice, cut their negative energy out of your life.  Sometimes, you’re stuck with them at work, or in an organization or group, but if not, just cut them out.

I don’t mean to sound calloused. In fact, I’d say give them a second chance. You don’t know what has happened to them in the past that may have affected their behavior. But, if you’ve tried to be nice, and they just beat you over the head with the olive branch, then it’s time to give them the boot.

Of course, we often are stuck dealing with these difficult ones, like it or not. I’m not sure what the best answer is, but I know that giving in doesn’t work. Unfortunately, that often happens. The person who talks the loudest and longest, often gets their way by wearing down everyone else, or grabbing the most attention.

The other end of the spectrum doesn’t really do it either. If you fight them on everything, you just end up locked in an endless battle which makes you look bad too. Remember the old saying,  never argue with a fool, lest someone walking by can’t tell the difference.

I guess you have to choose your battles, build alliances, and sharpen your own game.  Hopefully, people will see who the bigger person is.  If they don’t, then perhaps they just aren’t a good judge of character, or they see something of themselves in the bullish one.

I have a situation like that at work. I share equipment with someone on another shift, who has worked there for about 16 years, I think.  Most people in the department have also been there a long time, whereas I’ve been in the department only a year.  The other employees tend to be sympathetic to his cause to some degree, since they all have workstations all to themselves, as he did, before I came along.

I had worked on several different workstations before winding up at the current one. Fortunately, I had already won over the others with my friendly, upbeat, unassuming approach to people and to life. So, it’s not like they side with him, exactly. Some kind of stay neutral, while a few are totally on my side.  I think that’s because I have been understanding and accomodating as the new person, but have stuck up for myself and spoke to someone higher up when needed.

It’s sometimes an uneasy truce, but I’ve learned not to let it bother me. I don’t care how he feels about me, and I don’t like him. As someone who hasn’t always been comfortable with conflict or having others be displeased with me, it’s actually liberating to be unconcerned about the mood or actions of a thorn in my side.

I’ll just keep minding my own business, and resist the temptation to respond in kind to any antagonizing.

Spoiler alert

When I was in first grade, the teacher got everyone in the class a thoughtful gift, which we opened in class the last day before Christmas break.  I didn’t tear into the wrapping quite as voraciously as some students did.  The first one to pull the gift free from its packaging, held it up and triumphantly showed it off.

It was a drink cup with a Santa Claus drawn on it and our faces placed on the Santa. The Santas and the Merry Christmas message were under the plastic, which was pretty innovative for the late ’70’s. Our faces were cut out of the class picture by hand and glued on. It must have taken a lot of time. Miss Dobes, as she was named then, remains one of my all time favorite teachers.

Back to the unwrapping. I don’t know why, but I was so very disappointed that the surprise had been ruined by the quick opener kid, so much so, that I lambasted him for it. I think I was near tears.  I sure laid a guilt trip on that kid. Other kids and the teacher backed me up, perhaps just because I had felt so strongly about it and they empathized with me. He didn’t really do anything wrong, though.

I’m still not really sure why it bothered me that much, but I don’t like having a surprise ruined to this day.  I guess I’m still a kid at heart. I’ve known people who will tell you not to worry about telling them all about a movie, even if they plan to see it. They don’t care if they know what’s going to happen.  I can’t understand that. I think most of us are more like me that day in first grade.  That’s why we say, “Spoiler alert!” in conversation or on social media.

What is it about surprises? Partly, it’s the inner child thing. We like to be delighted, or to have a moment of excitement, something beyond the normal everyday goings on.

I think it’s also a very genuine experience to be surprised in a good way. There’s no time to build it up, or knock it down. There’s no pretense, no spin, no analysis.  You just live the moment. You feel it. You savor it, and remember it with a smile.

Living, giving, striving

A commercial for Shriners Hospitals just reminded me to be thankful for what I have, and not feel sorry for myself about the negative things. The kids in the commercials are not sitting around helplessly. They’re working to overcome whatever obstacles life has dealt them.

I can’t speak for them, of course, and I expect that they sometimes feel sad or discouraged. Everyone does. Still, it’s inspiring to see them smiling and handling challenges at very young ages.

I’ve shared some things in this blog that I’ve dealt with, including some health challenges, but I was born with all my limbs, fingers, toes, sight and sound, organs intact and functioning normally and all the things we take for granted.

I feel like I’ve dealt with a lot and have shown a lot of strength and tenacity, and I have, but I would do well to remember that there are so many others who have challenges to deal with every day beyond what I’ve experienced or could even imagine.

I don’t mean to belittle anyone’s personal struggles which may not be as serious or severe as others’ by some measure. We all have crosses to bear, and they are important. The point is that we can take heart from those around us, or that we hear of through media sources.

It’s a strength of humanity that we experience empathy, and have a desire to help and support each other. Many people lament that we’re losing that capacity as we become desensitized, ever busier and harried, distracted, and perhaps, overwhelmed.  Not to mention, how divided we are in recent times.

But, when disasters happen, or a children’s hospital commercial is aired, or any of many causes, people give. Many people volunteer their time to better the lives of others. Family members make sacrifices to make life more livable for their loved ones.

There is good in humanity and we all should be thankful for what we have, and what we are able to do. Remember to give back because we’re all in this together.

No comparison, singles edition

I mentioned in yesterday’s post about there being two things that reminded me of the old saying, “All unhappiness comes from comparison.” I wrote about one of them. That being the success of others making me feel a sense of loss, or at least longing, for things still not achieved.

I touched on the other. A fellow picnic attendee mistook my friend and I for a couple. I wasn’t surprised, since I was kind of sticking close to my friend since I didn’t know anyone else very well, and wasn’t feeling real energetic that evening.

It really didn’t bother me at that moment, but I do think about it. The unhealthy comparison here is when I look at couples, gay or straight, who have been together a long time, and seem to complete each other. They also have someone to grow old with, to share special moments, perhaps kids and then grandchildren, carrying on the family name and all that.

It’s sometimes a little scary to think about getting old and living by yourself. But hey, I’m only 47. I have time yet. Someone out there is wishing they could be 47 again, while I might wish I was 27. It’s all relative. And it’s all irrelevant. Those damn comparisons!

Honestly, I’m okay being single right now. (When I’m not comparing myself to one happy pair or another who seem to have it all.) I have a harder time with the accomplishment and success comparisons, than I do with relationship jealousy.

Yet, if you’ve been single around the holidays, you know it’s better when you have someone to share it with.  I know a lot of single people don’t do any decorating for Christmas. I always have, regardless.  So, I guess I’m not unhappy being on my own, but I’d like to find “the one” eventually.

In the meantime, I will make no comparisons to others, but only examine my own life just as I do with goals or degrees of success. I’ve grown a lot as a person through the years, and have become much more comfortable in my own skin. They say confidence is the most attractive quality. I still need some work, but not comparing will help with that.

Things will come together in their own time.