Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Forced relaxation

A summer house with a view
Ever do those basic "meditation techniques" where you imagine yourself at the most peaceful places you remember? Or maybe you try think about a quiet space when you can't sleep. My in-law's summer house is that kind of place. Not exactly inside the house (right now my son's friend is singing some annoying tune from youtube)...  and since my husband found a way to give all of us unlimited internet access through one cell phone, it's more unlikely. A blessing and a curse. A blessing - because after years of limited connection to the world (they didn't even have cell phone service until about 10 years ago) it's GREAT to have the internet. A curse because my 14 year old daughter spent most of her waking hours on Facebook instead of exploring nature. (We ended up shipping her off to her friend's house overnight). But otherwise, this is the perfect place to escape with your own thoughts for hours or days on end.

It isn't in my nature to be calm. I get bored easily. My mind wanders to what I "should be" doing. Even when I knit, I hardly ever finish something before starting another 4-5 projects. I'm cooking and I'm doing something else. I talk on the phone when I drive... and so on. "Multitasking" from the moment I wake until I go to bed.

Only when I run can I seem to focus on just relaxing and letting my mind go while I'm here (and I've run quite a bit). When I am able to "relax" around the house I make a mental to-do list and start doing. This morning I washed all the floors... partially because we have had 2 kids here who have been throwing up and I thought that it would make the house smell fresher (it didn't smell but I always feel better after kids have been sick if I clean). Partially because I want to be useful. Partially because I want to please my in-laws. Partially because I don't know how to have nothing to do.

How can I be at the most relaxing place in the world and not find peace? Here I can sit for hours and watch the skies parade through with blues, greys, pinks and white, see the sea waters change from a flat calm state to fierce waves with peaks, hearing the soft motor of boats in the distance mixed with leaves in the wind and birds claiming territory. Occasionally I hear kids laughter - my own and others.

In January when there is snow and freezing rain and many hours of darkness my mother-in-law imagines this - her place of refuge. Sometimes I remember this place when I need a mental escape. But it seems that in the moment of reality I'm not as calm as I will relive come Fall, when I sit in a messy kitchen thousands of miles away. Truth be told, some people can basque in hours of nothingness.

Then there are some, like me, who can appreciate the natural wonders of this place but can't replicate the calm. Even if I sit for an hour with a book I always get up to check on someone or do something. When it comes right down to it, I'd rather experience the nature than watch it. I run because I feel part of the environment. I jump in this freezing sea to experience the physical sensations of the salty water shocking my skin. I sit outside, even when the Vikings venture inside because I want to take in every moment. My restlessness actually pushes me to experience everything I can, even in the perfect place to read, rest and contemplate the world. No cell service (for me), and e-mail, facebook, and internet only for short periods of time. I've been sitting here and writing this long enough. It's time for me to DO SOMETHING. 

N is still too sick to go anywhere and his friend B doesn't want to go without him. So I guess I will retie my running shoes and hit the roads. If I could bottle the motivation I feel here to exercise and eat well I'd be in such great shape!

Maybe it's homesickness. Soon enough I'll be back home. Another small taste of the European summer holiday. Maybe it is simply that Americans don't know how to take long vacations. Maybe I don't feel like I deserve the rest. Whatever the reason, I'm still enjoying myself. For me that includes motion. Heading out for a walk now.... After all, it's summer.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

New beginnings

My new "office"

I have a new part time job in Metuchen at The Brass LanternI'm not sure what my formal title is, but clerk is one option. But I do much more than peddle wares...

Last week I spent most of my time playing designer/photographer (I staged, then submitted pictures for a local magazine's fall publication), cross-seller (moving things from different departments to hit multiple target audiences) and, my favorite - the reason I got the job in the first place - yarn guru. Yes, they sell my favorite stuff and I love finding the right color/texture combo for other yarnies.

One of my areas of "expertise" (if you will permit me) will be creating and updating an online-presence and fostering social networking. Although they had a facebook page (please like it) I will be updating it and adding content. Those who know me, know this isn't very "hard work" for me. I love FB, and online networking comes relatively easily to me. I'll be expanding their internet presence, and hopefully there will be increased sales. As with many small businesses, the Brass Lantern feels the economic downswing!

An eclectic store, the Brass Lantern has all kinds of gifts
And this started just in the nick of time. My kids are at Camp Cory for two weeks. I miss them much more than I expected. The house is too quiet without them, so it's been nice to be out of the house, and meeting new faces. This job wasn't "the plan", but sometimes life surprises you - I really have loved it so far. Of the 4 days I've worked, three days went by without me even noticing it was lunchtime. On Thursday I planned to be there for an hour or two... and before I knew it, I'd been there all day. A colleague actually gave me her banana at 4pm.

What have you been doing this summer?

Friday, July 6, 2012


When you say goodbye to someone in a funeral, ineviably you say hello to many others. People who also loved your loved one.

Today I saw family and friends who I had not spoken to in years.

But no matter which funeral I attend, my mind always wanders... to other funerals.

I think of various relatives - but mostly my Mom. But also I think of my own.

Maybe it is natural. When N entered the catering hall where we were having lunch, he said "when I die, I want exactly these sandwiches!" (until, of course, he tasted. them... then he chose the option for kids: hot dogs).

Who will come to my funeral? What will they say? What will the music be? Can my friends and family work together to make something that has some semblance of my eclectic life? Who will be the "cruise director"?

At Randis funeral her wonderful grandson, Ove gave the eulogy. He told a story about how he had taken her to a funeral a while ago. They spent 15 minutes looking for her keys. When it came time to leave, they couldnæt find it and they just left. In the middle of the service, she found it in her pocket and they lost control of themselves and laughed... out loud, in the middle of a funeral.

Luaghter mattered to Randi. Love mattered to Randi.  That is what I would have said about her. She was like my loud (and somewhat dysfunctional) family: we love loudly and talk about things openly. I always knew where I stood with her, just a sI always know how I stand with my family.

Family counts. Friends count. Food counts, being together counts. Doesnt matter where or when.

These things matter to me too. So what will people say???? Who would come? I guess it sounds very vein when I wonder if the church (or whereeever) would be full?

My life is full of friendships, family and relationships. I matter to those around me.

Dear friends, rememebr to bring laughter and happy memories to my funeral. When it happens. whether in a week or in 50 years.

And bring music.

But for now, let us concentrate of living life! "I want to feel that I live life as long as I possibly can"

Monday, July 2, 2012

Momentum Mori

RIP Randi 1917-2012
We had a lot in common. 

To us, nothing is/was more important than family and friends. It's what makes life worth living. 

Her warm nature, her zest for life. Her flexibility: just drop by anytime.... 

We both seem(ed) to nag, but I think it was more of a reminder.... 

For almost 95 years she loved and was loved. 

She ran from the Nazis with her infant son after her husband refused to work for them. 

She raised a boy and a girl as a "married single mom"... the wife of a ship's captain - she didn't see her husband much. She worked lots of jobs through the years... but mostly because she loved being around people. 

I will miss her. 94 and three-quarters is quite a long life. She was of sound mind until the very end. She was a fighter.

And now she has let go. 

The end of an era. I realize this weekend that I had her in my life as long as I had my own grandmother - about 18 years.

I will miss you, Randi. I hope I learned enough from you! Thank you for accepting me into the family as more of a granddaughter than granddaughter-in-law. Thank you for everything, especially all your love.

If there is a heaven. Please find my Mom. She will welcome you...after all - you're family.