Inspiration

This is me having nothing to say.

You all have been with me a long time, and every week I have something to share with you. My wonderings, my experiences, I put them in order and string together something to share with you all.

Two things happened this last week.

My dad died.

I started a new job.

My father’s death was not sudden. I had been expecting it soon for years, and then in the last 2 months, I had known it was imminent.

When the inevitable happened, I flew to help my mom right away.

Do I have no words to say about my father’s death? Ahh…no. From my phone minutes alone, I have nothing but words. From the middle-of-the-night-can’t-sleep avalanche of thoughts, it seems like an unending spool.

And my new job. I am supposed to help a university with a Center for Innovation. This means I am creating an incubator for new medical technologies to go from an idea to something people can buy.

That means taking big complicated ideas and organizing them, testing and trying stuff to get it right. It means discarding the parts that aren’t right until the final product is something released for public consumption.

I woke this morning, after the sun had barely risen, wondering if it was too early to go to work, and realized with a sinking feeling that I had nothing for my Weekly Wonder.

I wondered if this would be the first time for a rerun, and I was thinking about my eventful week. Putting these two things together.

The weekly wonder is an innovation I release every week for public consumption. I write an original post, growing the idea and pulling it into shape so that it is something I feel that my readers will enjoy. Something that will make your lives better.

I have learned how to find the right-sized idea and wrap words around it so that it can be released and bring light to the world.

I am drowning in thoughts and incomplete ideas about my father’s death. It is not a right sized idea, but it is kind of eclipsing all the other ideas.
And just as I was thinking I’d have to give up on this week’s installment of my beloved Weekly Wonder, I realized I could share with you how I have nothing to say, and what that means.

It’s not that I have nothing to say, it’s that what I have to say is not the right size or ready to light the world.

That happens. Ideas have to be ready. Some sit for a really long time before launching.

But then, as I am finding, even when I thought there wasn’t a thing I could share, inspiration shines through the densest dark and lights our way.

Mining for Happy

Happiness was never something I was supposed to pursue. Happiness was a fortunate side effect of being good.

Being good was the whole point. And if you were good, you might get to be happy.

But happy was something to earn, for sure.

More recently I have learned that happiness is something to be desired in and of itself. Just because.

“Does it make you happy? Then do it!”

See those quote marks? There are to indicate that someone else is saying that. Not me. Even after I was first introduced to the concept of personal happiness, even after it started rolling around in my head.

Not for me. It was someone else who thought of that. Someone else who asked themselves if they were happy.

Personal happiness as a concept might not have penetrated my consciousness if I hadn’t become a parent.

It was very easy to see that I wanted my daughter to be happy. Her personal happiness was something I spent a lot of time nurturing. For her, I could spend time and effort.

For me?

Cinderella’s my girl. Only AFTER I get the drapes and floors done, THEN I could put some time into making a dress for the ball.

I’ve been exploring this idea of personal happiness. Kicking the tires of my previous assumptions.

So yeah, two months ago I lost my job. Boss FIRED me. That was tough. I spend a few weeks right after that dealing with his judgment of me.

Was he right to fire me? Did I deserve to have a job? Perhaps he was right, and I was wrong. Maybe HE saw something I couldn’t, and I was a fool for thinking I had something to offer.

Even as those feelings of judgement washed over me, as I fought to find my way to the truth of the matter, I knew that I did have something to offer. I KNEW it. He was one guy, and he didn’t know everything.

I knew I would keep looking and I would find my spot.

Here’s a beautiful quote:
Faith is the evidence of things not seen.

I had faith.

Sometimes.

I had  faith that I would find my spot. I just didn’t see it.

Then I would have not-faith. Doubt? Yeah, that is a good world for it.

But I wanted that job. I did the work to find it, sending applications every day and reaching out to people I knew who might have a job for me.

And I felt like I was stuck on pause.

Can I be happy? I didn’t have the new job. I didn’t have the proof that the guy who fired me was wrong.

I rode the wheel of faith, soaring to the top of feeling confident and happy. Then wheeling down into the depths of doubt and judgement.

Also spending a lot of time in the floaty middle. Not happy, not sad. Just waiting.

That is not the person I usually am. I am kinetic moving forward most of the time. This time though, I felt on pause.

I wanted to be happy. But I couldn’t seem to let myself be happy  until I had the definite job.

As if

new job = happy

There was an equation for happiness, and something had to be on the other side.

Right back to the beginning.

I had to be good, and happy was the side effect.

As I’ve been experimenting with happiness, I am thinking it’s not an equation.

It works better when happiness is its own thing, like an element. Like Gold or Silver.

It can stand on its own, not dependent on conditions. It has a right to stand on its own, not propped up by circumstances

This fifth wheel inside my head though, I might need to drill down a bit deeper to find the ore.

A whole lot of crap has been accumulating, making it hard to get to the gold.

But there’s gold in them there. I am going to go get it.

The Russian Revolution

Veronica is reading Animal Farm for the fourth time.

I read it to her the first time on the anniversary of the forming of the Soviet Union, to give her the basics.

Kid loves to hear us tell her about history, especially at bedtime.

“Mommy, I was thinking you could tell me more about World War 1.”

Chris knows more details, but I am better at making the stories work for her child ears.

Still, we are coming to the end of tales easily told. It was time to move on.

“Veronica, do you know what the Cold War is?”

“Oh yeah, that’s about the Nuclear Bomb!”

Yes, that’s part of it.

I wanted to tell her about current events, most specifically what’s been happening with Korea. That this meeting between North Korea’s president-for-life and American’s president, this one that hasn’t happened yet, is a very significant historical event.

But there’s a lot of ‘splaining to do before we can get to the part about why it is significant.

I made some inroads into why America had trouble trusting Russia after the 2nd world war, which prompted her desire to revisit Animal Farm.

Orwell, you did a good job. It’s a grim story, but very approachable.

Thing is, it’s a very broad allegory. Having written allegories myself, I know how that can be. This character and that has to be fictionalized.

But the characters, all of them, in Animal Farm, have real life counterparts. And the horrors of that story are light compared to the real horrors that were performed by the actual historical figures.

I secured a promise from Veronica that she would listen to the story of what REALLY happened.

But that meant I had to do some homework. I had to go get my facts straight, and I made some notes.

I remember as a teenager in the 80s, the year we studied WW2. At that moment it time, the Cold War was breathing its frosty breath through our daily lives. Russia–the Soviet Union–was the biggest, baddest evil villain ever.

So why didn’t my history class talk about how the Soviet Union was formed? Wasn’t that even MORE important than the terrifying but DEAD Hitler?

The books did not talk about it. And no one could give me a straight answer.

I went to Russia itself before I got an answer. And in the years since, I have pieced it together.

The Soviet Union was very diligent in re-writing history to suit the needs of the current power structure. Communism also had and has a lot of people who want it to succeed. There was a lot of smoke and mirrors to wade through.

This is basically what I explained to Veronica.

Karl Marx was a German man who lived in England during the Industrial Revolution and the heyday of colonialism. At that time, a lot of people were wondering why THEY worked in the factories and were poor, but the people who owned the factories seemed to do no work at all but they made all the money.

This idea was circulating and a lot of people were thinking of ideas of how it could be different. These ideas were known as Communism and Anarchism, which seemed almost the same thing to a lot people at that time.

Karl Marx wrote two books The Communist Manifesto and Das Capital, to explain how Communism should work and would overthrow the current monarchs and rulers of countries.

This completely scared the rulers of the countries who considered their overthrow to be scary Anarchy. Plus the Anarchists were plotting and sometimes succeeding in Assassinations of world leaders.

Very scary.

Someone who looked a lot like those crazy anarchist Communists assassinated Archduke Franz Ferdinand, and that started World War 1.

Germany was fighting Russia and England at that time. Russia has a little bit of a revolution in February 1917.

Now, there was this guy called Lenin who had been stirring up communism in Russia, and he had been thrown out of Russia because the Tsar wasn’t happy about it.

He was hiding, and stirring up trouble from far away. But after the February Revolution in Russia Germany helped him get back to Russia to overthrow the current Russian government. By so doing, Germany snuffed out Russian opposition to Germany.

Lenin led the October Revolution of 1917, and that revolution established the communists as the power in Russia.

However, there were a lot of factions and opposing parties even in this communist government.  Power and alliances shifted constantly, and it was very hard to trust anyone.  It was a vicious and bloody power struggle. The entire infrastructure that people relied on to live (food water, fuel to heat their homes) was vanished, and the struggle for power raged on.

Lenin eliminated this by established a one-party system, halting debate. All those who disagreed with his rule were killed or imprisoned during this time known as the Red Terror.

But Lenin could not live forever. There were two people likely to take over after him: Joseph Stalin and Lev Trotsky. Trotsky hung out at this bedside, but Stalin was out solidifying his  own support structure. Lenin is said to have expressed concern about Stalin before his death.

But when Lenin died, Stalin seized power and exiled Trotsky. The merest hint of “Trotskyism” was a death sentence for communist supporters. Stalin would not tolerate any disagreement.

He erased Trotsky from the history books.

There was a plan that started while Lenin was alive to change the farms. Joseph Stalin created a Five-year plan that collectivized the farms in the Soviet Union. Rather than allow people to own land and farm it as they had before, he arranged for all the land to be owned and managed by the state. About 11 million people died, in particular starving to death during this time in 1932-33. Ukrainians suffered the most.

In 1936-38 Stalin ruled over the Great Purges in which Soviet’s records show 1,548-366 people killed, many by gas chambers, which probably inspired the death camps of the Nazis so soon after.

Stalin would not tolerate any disagreement, naming it “Social disorder” and eliminating anyone he suspected.

News of these inconceivable tragedies did not leak. How easy was it to keep the people too afraid to say anything? When death owned the boulevards, it was best to stay quiet.

Great Britain and America did not fully trust Russia, but during World War II, the enemy of my enemy is my friend. Russia lost even more lives fighting Germany, an estimated 20 million.

When the Nazis were finally defeated, the Soviet Union spread this one-party “democracy” of communism in what became known as the Eastern Bloc of Europe.

But before World War II ended for America, nuclear weapons were unleashed upon the world. By America, no less. Russia developed nuclear bombs as soon as they possibly could, and that is when this Cold War became a thing.

America and the Communists played the world as a chessboard with smaller countries as pawns. Revolutions and Counter-Revolutions were masterminded from Moscow and D.C.

Both countries were sure that Science and Technology were the answers to being the ultimate authority. And in 1957, the Soviets launched Sputnik, the world-orbiting satellite that inspires me from this distant point in the future, but which scared Americans sleepless at the time.

Which bring us to 61 years ago. And there is still a lot more to explain before I can give the story of Korean the description it deserved.

Thank you for reading this far. It took me a long time to comb out the facts of this part of history, and I know this will give you all something to think about, even if you disagree with my conclusions.

I will say this is the opinion I have formed mostly from novels and my personal experience.  I am an American, and that informs my opinion. I know that there are many things I have not considered and others will have a very different interpretation of events.

These books have informed my opinion:

Communist Manifesto by Karl Marx

Homage to Catalonia by George Orwell

Doctor Zhivago by Boris Pasternak

The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera

The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver

Thing Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe

Frida (2002 movie)

Animal Farm and 1984 helped to confirm what I had pieced together

A number of English books I read in Russia during my stay by blacklisted American authors that are so obscure to not be google-able

Life finds a Way

Sourdough has always been part of my life. As a person born and raised in Alaska, I have the credentials to call myself a Sourdough. Sourdough was part of the Alaskan gold rush, and people who came over at that time all had sourdough to get them through the winter. It was a nourishing and forgiving food. The starter would be revived with a little warmth water and flour, and make the flour rise into biscuits, bread and pancakes to keep the gold miner alive. An old Sourdough is the word for an experienced Alaskan.

I had made sourdough pancakes, and diverse baked products.

It always confused me to find “Sourdough Bread” in the California bakery section. Except for a slight tangy taste, this bread was indistinguishable from the French loaves beside it, which was the opposite of the tough sourdough I knew from my childhood.

But something made me decide to try making this fancy sourdough bread this weekend.

Have you noticed a new interest in DIY home crafts? The hippies used to do this. I looked up on the Internet how to make ARTISAN sourdough bread.

I wanted my daughter to learn to appreciate the glory of wild yeast sourdough.

So I brought her into the process, having her take a deep sniff of the starter, inhaling the yeasty scent. She saw the first mix, when I took the starter out of the fridge and added it to the flour, water and sugar the night before. Maybe six tiny bubbles decorated the surface of the started.

But in the morning, the whole mess was a foamy mass! Here Veronica got a second noseful, along with a sincere WOW. This was really science. This was alive, and THIS was how the ancient romans made bread.

Just like we were going to!

But oh my lord, this recipe was complicated! It was a three-day project! I had started it the night before but we still had hours and hours of small tasks to complete this artisan frenchy sourdough bread.

First we mix it, and then there were complicated restings, and single kneadings that had to be spaced out by a half hour each time over the course of 3 hours.

I confess, I had better stuff to do. I lost the vision when we stopped to have dinner with Veronica’s Grandma.

After I got her to bed, I looked at this half-tended mass of dough. What had I gotten myself into? Had I ruined this sourdough bread I had talked up so much to my daughter?

Four ingredients:

Sourdough starter

Flour

Water

Salt

But this frou frou Frenchy bread wanted so much touching and tending! No way a real Sourdough would have put up with this nonsense.

I started at the shaggy risen mass.

No way was I throwing this away! My daughter was going to find out what happened with this project, no matter if it failed.

Besides, THIS was sourdough. Sourdough is tough and it’s alive. It’s forgiving. I narrowed my eyes at it, and gave it a little sprinkle of flour (NOT in the recipe) and began the slow half-hour-at-a-time kneading process the recipe called for.

I cleaned up the kitchen, and tending this dough. Per the fussy recipe, I set it in specially prepared dishes to rest in the fridge overnight and we all got some rest.

In the morning, there was even more fussiness to back the dough blobs. Preheat the pan, then cook it for 20 minutes. Then turn down the heat for ten minutes. THEN take the lid off and cook it for 25 more minutes. Then turn out the loaf and DON’T CUT IT YET!

We must wait again for 2 hours for it to fully be ready.

I only have one pot with a lid that can do this bread baking duty. Veronica woke up at the PERFECT time to see the first loaf be tipped out to cool, and then sit with me through all these dance steps to get the second loaf.

We sat on the kitchen floor and talked about family things. And I looked up at the first loaf that was cooling.

It looked right. I couldn’t know for sure until I cut it open.

“Veronica, knock on the crust. It’s supposed to sound hollow.”

She rapped her knuckles on the hard top, and pulled her hand away with a shocked face.

It HAD made a satisfying hollow thump, but “what’s wrong? Is it too hot still?”

“No, it’s really HARD.”

Yeah, that crust could slow a battering ram.

We cut it open after church, and it was not disappointing. Chris said, “This is not as sour as sourdough from the store”

“That’s because the stuff from the store has nothing to do with sourdough, except maybe some flavoring! THIS is real living sourdough.”

The bread itself was elastic and felt nourishing, just like sourdough does. There is a little something extra happening when life itself, in the form of the wild yeast of sourdough, cooperates with me.

I was so glad that I trusted this living organism sourdough to forgive me for not following the correct procedure from the recipe.

I did what I could, and I didn’t give up. We had a family adventure along the way.

Once again, sourdough is giving me lessons about life and survival. Show up. Keep trying. Do the simple little action, even if it’s not exactly the right time.

It will work out.

A place in History

Two things dominated this weekend:
The Royal Wedding

Cleaning my boudoir

I’d been working so hard on cleaning my boudoir, which is the third bedroom in my little home. I have boxes and boxes of notebooks, and papers and photographs that I had to move in order to paint the walls. The walls had been patched because of having the electrical redone.

So, I had to move them all to paint behind them. And when it came time to put them back, I realized that quite a lot of it could be tossed.

On Friday night, Chris asked me if I was going to watch the royal wedding. I said I didn’t know anything about it. He caught me up on who was marrying whom, and I suddenly realized I knew Rachel, because I had watched Suits for a while.

How cool is that!

So Saturday, as I was staring in dismay at my boxes of everything, I turned on the royal wedding. I was thinking it was good background TV while I sorted through all these things.

I am a notebook person. I had saved all these notes, with anything from grocery lists, to year plans (a LOT of year plans) and the occasional gorgeous poem and short story.

It was for those poems and stories that I never threw the notebooks away.

But there were other papers.

That one time that I was considering suing an employer and had gathered evidence.

Or the notes from a relationship gone bad.

But this WEDDING! The pomp and circumstance that had to be part of a historied monarchy.

Except.

To me, it felt incredibly homey. The young bridesmaids and pages, holding the train and following the American soon-to-be Princess through the church.

IT DOESN’T GET MORE FAMILY THAN THAT.
With the brothers sitting next to each other, waiting for the bride to show up. YES, they are princes. But they were also two brothers who love each other and support each other.

There were all the elements of exactly every ordinary wedding I’ve ever seen. The dress, the little bit of drama. The nervousness, and the absolutely love and support from all the people attending.

I couldn’t tear myself away. Or stop googling all the details.

And, that’s kinda what happens at a family wedding, too. When and aunt or a cousin catches me up on the details of everything that I didn’t know.

What does this have to do with my notebooks?

Well.

As I look through all my notebooks, I have to wonder. Do these things matter to anyone else but me?

In that light, it was easy to toss the history of things that had caused pain. The bad job reviews, the old painful relationships.

And as I thought about the rest of these historical artifacts, I wondered who would actually care about all of them.

I flipped through. I remembered and the feelings rushed over me.

Boy, I’m glad I am living the life I am living.

I’m pretty happy with my choices.

Maybe the point of saving all these STUFF was for me to get the value out of reviewing it this time.

It’s easy to toss some of it out. Others are harder.

Like, I wanted to keep some of these things to prove something. That I was RIGHT, or that I DESERVED BETTER.

Except…

Watching all those people in the wedding, and feeling what I felt about it (as a stranger, whose only  connection to these people is a shared humanity), I came to the realization that I didn’t need to prove any of that to the people who might read this stuff.

They were family and they already loved me.

I didn’t need to prove I was worthy.

There’s a place for me at this table. So the history that gets in the way of that can be dropped.

Yes Boss

 

I’m looking for work again, so I’m at home sending applications. It’s lonely work, and this thought is large in my head:

Wouldn’t it be nice to be my own boss?

I’m finding audiobooks from my local library to keep me company while I am alone, working on working. I found one called The Top 10 Distinctions between Bosses and Employees

One of the big distinctions this author points out is that bosses find solutions and employees solve problems.

See, employees have a set of tasks they need to complete. Usually these tasks are well defined. The employee is supposed to figure out how to do those things, and solve any problems in getting them done.

Now, in my last job, I had to supervise big crews of workers. The tasks would be defined and my part was to make sure they were communicated to the crew.

The crew knew how to do each of the things, even though I didn’t.

I couldn’t do their job, but one of the aspects of my job was to make sure that they kept working. With 10 people at a job site, with a week’s worth of work, I’d have to make sure that all 10 people were working on something all the time.

The WORST THING would be to have a person sitting and waiting for something to do.

I’d make sure to walk around and check on what everyone was doing. Not only did I make sure they were doing something right this minute, I’d make sure they knew what to do NEXT. That way they wouldn’t hesitate to move on to the next thing.

If I want to be my own boss, I basically have to do that for myself:

Have a set of things to do, and make sure I keep moving forward on each of the tasks in the most efficient order.

That’s a lot harder.

Having an employee mindset and solving problems means there was someone else who nicely packaged up the problems and gave them to you.

I wish that I had nicely packaged problems for my life, really. This book (which is a lightweight little book) wants to tell me how BOSSES handle that differently.

Yeah.

Basically, the bosses are the ones who create the packaged problems

But, if I am to be my own boss?

I have to be the one deciding the work I need to do and then the one doing it.

It takes a special set of skills to do that.

That little book didn’t talk about that.

Sometimes both

I’m in a book club that just chose Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert. It’s been out for a while, I know. I hadn’t read it.

Here’s the thing: good books should still be good even after the hype passes. There is often a lot of hype about books and movies. Makes me suspicious.

So, I let it pass. And, if I still remember that I kinda wanted to read that book or see that movie, I’ll go seek it out. And I’ll appreciate it on it’s own merits.

I read Eat, Pray, Love by Gilbert when my daughter was newborn. I wanted a book that was good and unchallenging so I could fall asleep quickly while reading.

I can say it was definitely unchallenging.

9 years ago, when I was reading it, I had not yet made a meaningful connection with the New Age (aka woo-woo) concepts that are part of her journey, and what made her think that this journey was such a good idea.

I still haven’t taken a yoga class, although it’s on my list of things to do.

I have become a fan of meditation and spiritual practices like self-acceptance and more.

When I read Eat Pray Love I didn’t really like Gilbert. She was not like me or anyone I knew. In later interviews and TED talks, I started to get to know her and appreciate what she had to say.

I still remembered that she thought going to an Ashram in India was a great idea.

I don’t consider that a good time.

Her novel The Signature of All Things was well written. But not until this book club required it did I set out to read Big Magic.

I was so resistant that I wasn’t willing to pay for it, and found a copy at the local library. I found it right next to Blink by Malcolm Gladwell.

Gladwell is problematic too. I enjoyed Outliers a lot, but then again, he was caught plagiarizing. That’s bad.

Now I am in the midst of both books.

Big Magic and Blink both kinda say to trust your gut and listen to your intuition.

Gladwell does it with science, and had a lot of proof in the form of scientific studies.

Gilbert has a lot of feelings and anecdotes.

Maybe it takes people different roads to get to the same destination.

Both of these authors are flawed.

One thing I learned in my literature classes is that the writing does not only exist in the product of the author. Something is created between the author and the reader consuming what has been created.

That third thing, the alchemy between the author’s experiences that led to the creative product, and the reader’s experience that informs what is understood when the book is read is what it’s about.

So, sometimes I want magic: full moon, eye of newt and spells.

Sometimes I want a scientific study, thank you very much.

And maybe sometimes I need a little of both.

Older me

“I have never seen you with your hair down before. It looks amazing!”

I had known this friend for years. I’d had this hair for years. But something had been changing.

There’s a story in Alaskan Road Rules about my travails with my hair. When I wrote it, I thought I was the only one. That my special problems as a female with naturally curly hair were something no one else would understand.

When that story/essay was released into the world, I discovered that I was not alone. Almost every woman had a story about her hair.

I loved hearing how my story moved these other women.

Yes!

But that was not real life. I tied my hair up every day. I had work to do. I had to be taken seriously.

I tied my hair back. Everyday. I had a rather hostile work environment, and I didn’t want any part of me that wasn’t part of the generic silhouette of what a person with that job should be.

Until that job let me go.

At that point, I was even MORE nervous about being different. But the next job I got had a different prototype for their employees. There were a lot of visible tattoos, and people were encouraged to be themselves.

A lovely African American woman started encouraging me to let my hair down. Hmm…

I wasn’t at that job long, but it was the first place that really made me think.

A few months ago, I went to an open mic night locally. I had my hair down and I read my Curly Top story from Alaskan Road Rules.

It ran a bit long, but the MC, a gorgeous young African American woman, told me she identified with the story.

Thing is, I wasn’t that person anymore. I had learned to be okay with the burden of my hair. Reading out loud the shame and insecurities of that girl and woman that I used to be felt surreal.

Like looking at a high school yearbook.

I know better know.

Am I really old enough to be over it?

Maybe I’m over this one thing. But insecurity and shame are still big players in my life.

My hair gets to be what it wants to be. I try to direct it, but for the most part, it’s going where it wants to go.

For me, as I carry my insecurities still, am I ready to be as free as my hair now is?

I had to learn to trust my hair. And I also had to learn to trust the people around me to accept me and all that I am, which includes me hair.

Not everyone loves it. Even *I* don’t love it all the time.

But me and my hair have a right to be here.

Goal: To be True to Myself

 

I do love to work. Right now, as I write this, I am unemployed. I miss work. I miss having a focus for my energy during the day.

I miss having a reason to talk to people.

Is that silly? I do have a lot of friends. But to be able to talk to co-workers and know basically that they are PAID to talk to me is comforting.

I suppose that says a lot about my insecurity.

But it’s nice to have people that are every day committed to getting the same stuff done that I am trying to do. Even if it wasn’t our idea in the beginning.

So, as I am settling into my look-for-work routine, I find myself in a different frame of mind.

CHANGE.

WE FEAR CHANGE.

And people give me very good-intentioned advice:

“Have fun!”

My idea of fun was to work really hard with a bunch of people who were contractually bound to work with me. I liked that.

Now I have to redefine fun. HMMmmmm.

I usually have fun after I do my work. I will go be with friends to be silly AFTER the work is taken care of.

So how do I have fun when there is no work to append it to?

I tried guys, I really did. And in fact, I spent a few days kicking myself HARD for not being able to relax. Along with not being able to keep a job…and that one time when I let down that one person…and on and on…

Wow. I do not do well with this idea of fun.

So. After spending some time with that unfortunate concept, I’m back to another one.

“This above all: to thine own self be true.”- Shakespeare

Yeah, I like work. I like projects.

GOALS.

As I was listening to a podcast for FUN, I heard a woman express it. She said that goals are a way of expressing our fullest self.

YES! Finally I hear someone that gets it.

For me, I need some projects, some goals that I WORK towards or I feel very yucky.

I know me. I will have to be true to my self. Yes, I will do my best to be FUN-employed at this time.

But I GOTS to have my projects, and my work or I am not being my fullest truest self.

That’s how I’m wired.

I like it. Lists, and projects and milestones.

Even on my time off.

I’m not saying you have to. But don’t tell me I can’t.

I’m not going to listen anyway.

What’s for dinner?

My father’s sister Aunt Pat turns 90 this month. I got to get together with a bunch of the family to celebrate her.

We were catching up and somehow Aunt Zelpha was saying how she never had the knack of milking the cow.

“Lola was always the best at milking. We always had a cow, and then a calf sometimes”

They all reminisced together, and it was revealed that they grew all the food that they ate. The cow for milk, chickens for eggs and meat, and for greens: Chard.

They had a huge row of chard to keep them in greens every day.

“How did you cook the chard?”

“We boiled it.”

This flashed me back into the old days of “eat your greens.” It was something from black and white movies, greens as a slimy glob of boiled leafy veg.

Greens have changed now. We have steamed and sautéed vegetables. I blend spinach greens into my breakfast.

But that was what greens were for my grandmother. She grew her greens.

“When we had too extra chard we gave it to the chickens.”

This kind of life was a lot of hard work for my dad’s family. Now it has glamour. Growing all your own food? It’s the dream of many hipsters.

But this was world war two. And they were in California farmland. They had the room and the climate to grow food. There is not room for chickens and chard in the city.

They said they ate the same thing every day. Potatoes and gravy ever day.

My life now does not have that monotony. We have different foods every day, even if it’s the same regular rotation.

I had to go back and look at what it meant to eat less than a hundred years ago. We’ve done a lot of inventing when it comes to food.

Refrigerators were a huge advance in our ability to get enough food. I briefly worked for a refrigeration company, and once people figured out how to do it, it is not a complicated machine.
But everything seems easy in hindsight.

When people had a cold place to keep their food, it lasted a lot longer. And when food lasts longer, that gives rise to a new category of food:

LEFTOVERS

You know what they called leftovers before refrigerators?

Food.

Seriously, guys, food was scarce. When my dad was a kid, people spent 40% of their income on food.

How lucky for them that they had a thrifty mom and kids to help grow their own food.

Like I said, that only worked because they had the location and the land to do it. Poor people in the day were actually known for being shorter than more wealthy people because of lack of nutrition during their growth periods as children.

So a fit healthy person back then was someone who was tall.

Shaking my head.

Things have changed. Now it’s a mark of poverty in America to be fat. We really figured out how to make food, preserve it and transport it. This is an amazing time.

As I was able to see, hanging out with my aunt to celebrate her 90 years, and to hear about how far we have progressed.