A Ritual: Butt in Chair

The greatest challenge for a writer can be just getting her rear in the chair. And staying there. Without letting herself be distracted by all sorts of easy, at the fingertips fun stuff, like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or even emails. Anything else but hunkering down and getting to work on the current project at hand, or worse yet, the new project.

Heck, I’ll even joyfully empty the dishwasher, fold laundry or pay bills rather than get my butt in the chair, unplug, and simply write. It’s a common malady.

Today I woke up and decided to begin – again – to take my vocation more seriously. I love Mondays for this reason, they make me feel like the whole world is in on helping me rally to get a new start. The saying “onward and forward!” has more oomph to it on a Monday morning. Somehow.

After a shower, a healthy breakfast, I resolve to get my yoga mat from my car to do some stretches during the day when I need a break. Not open Facebook, not begin the emailing craze; the emails certainly don’t go anywhere. I light the tea light nestled in my favorite small Gustav Klimt glass holder and place it on my desk next to my computer. I think of my writer friend in Paris who with the same candle flickering next to her, urges me on: “Write!” she tells me, “write all those stories you have inside you!”

On my way to the bathroom to dry my hair I gather up weeks worth of NYTimes Book Reviews, and decide to stop reading about books, and instead read more books, and write more stories.

And then, finally, I sit down and think, “Here I am. Let the faucet open” as my fingers run over the keyboard.

Writing

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Happy?

Happiness is serious business. Last week in Norway, eating fermented trout and tasting various micro-brewed organic beers with good friends; definitely high happy factor here. This week in the US, dealing with my teen’s suspended driver’s license, and the debacle of practical and emotional issues surrounding this lovely event; not very happy, no.

The International Day of Happiness, established by the United Nations General Assembly (why so serious?) in 2012, is a day celebrated annually on March 20th (I say mark your calendar!). This got me thinking about how many people generally are not happy, since the world needs ONE specific day to remind us to that “the pursuit of happiness is a fundamental human goal.” Also, I think of all the people who have “grouchy” as their modus operandi – as their habit – or who just tend to focus on the bad around them and in them, instead of the good. How much I dislike meeting folks like that.

Then I realize that sometimes, just some of the time, when I momentarily have a lapse, that’s me. Argh…

What is happiness? What does it mean to feel happy? According to the website This Emotional Life, happiness is “thought of as the good life, freedom from suffering, flourishing, well-being, joy, prosperity, and pleasure.” Oh boy, do I have abundant happiness in my life. And good reasons to be happy.

Happy Thankful People

Realizing how many sad souls around the world have few reasons to be happy on a daily basis, yet find it in themselves, I hear myself sigh. I see them sing, smile and dance in the various videos posted from around the world on International Happiness Day.

Happiness is serious business. I say, make it yours.

Create your own happiness by making someone else happy. But don’t wait until next year!

 

Happy People

Godiva by the Gate

Here I am, sitting by the gate about to board the plane to Oslo from New York, enjoying a Godiva chocolate, making some last minute phone calls and feeling good about traveling light.

Next to me is a mother giving her small son an infusion – it appears from his baldness he may have cancer or a significant medical condition- and it knocks the breath out of me. Keeping her hands busy with tubes and clips, she smiles, chats with who might be her husband, and the little boy starts to sing. He plays with his truck.

I swallow the sweetness of the luxurious chocolate. Think of my three healthy teenage sons, whose early childhoods knew only typical growing pains and the occasional run to the ER for a stitch or three.

A deep surge of gratitude and humility makes me feel strangely present in my body, anchored in a material reality of the seat by the gate, but also in the gift of this suspended moment in time.

The rows of my seat are called to board, and I fish out the little card from my wallet with the Jewish traditional travel prayer. I whisper it to myself. That the boy, his family, and I should reach our destination in life, joy and peace.

Because I take nothing for granted.

I'm Grateful for

The Glorious Galosh

When was the last time you considered a galosh? Well, I have a good one for you. I’ll never again dismiss this strange looking rubbery thingy one might think was solely created for dandies who can’t take on a puddle or some mud like a man. Oh no, not me. I recently had a chance encounter with a glorious galosh.

What a fabulous way to start a day: with a robust hour walk in my neighborhood park on a crisp, cool winter morning, the sky’s blue and I’m feelin’ good. Until the entire sole of my left Nike hiking boot just peels all the way back and disengages from my boot, leaving me limping and cursing and wondering how on earth I was going to make the mile walk home.

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My initial reaction was to prompt myself to act like a survivalist, thinking: “I can handle this, be creative! Tie up the boot sole with some..(looking around the park surroundings) — vine, or, or,…snow?” as I frantically searched my pockets for that pice of string or elastic I always seem to find floating around when I don’t need it.

Nothing.

Instead, I started pathetically limping and inching my way toward the main entrance of the park, scheming what I’d do when I made it to the Pond House Café, the park jewel, about 200 yards in, where I would ask for some duct tape or string.

And there, in the snow bank, like manna from heaven, I noticed something black and rubbery, whose shape I vaguely recognized as that of a good old fashioned galosh. I looked at it in disbelief. I had to restrain myself from not looking heavenward. A nifty, waterproof, shoe-covering device, available, just for me!? Just now? Really? And the amazing thing was, it fit, although it was the wrong foot. This is no small feat (read feet if you must) as I also go by the endearing, lady like name of Bigfoot (thanks dad).

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I couldn’t help but laugh out loud as I gingerly, sort of, clunked my way home with my broken hiking boot safely nestled into the glorious galosh. Later that night over dinner, telling my sons about the importance of never underestimating the value of the chance encounters life presents you with – even with inanimate objects – my youngest son blurts out: “Wait, where did you find the galosh? I put it there the other day when I was sledding with my friends. I saw something black sticking up in the snow, and I pulled it out, and left it on the top of the snow pile in case somebody was looking for it.”

Indeed, somebody was looking for it; or perhaps it was looking for somebody. And it turned out to be me, this time. The lost object my son randomly had found one week before me, touched and thought about, became the glorious galosh that saved my walk, and made me smile. Twice.

Pass it on, they say.

Way, I say.

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