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100_0029One of the things I love most about sci-fi books and movies are the predictions about science and cultural changes in the world, and how often they’re wrong.  We’re only one year away from 2015, and we still don’t have the flying cars or skateboards that Back the the Future II promised me.

JD Robb’s In Death Novels are set starting in 2058, and in this version of the future, most of the food is vegetarian, with soy based meat substitutes, as they explain that real meat is expensive, and most cannot afford it.  I like this version of the future, and wouldn’t be surprised if it comes to pass for both economic and environmental reasons.  I should still be around to see it.

One of my all time favorite movies is Terminator II.  But August 29, 1997 came and went, and nothing bad happened.  The movie was great when it came out, because even if I didn’t believe anything bad would happen then, I still wondered, what if?  The Running Man, set in 2017, is obviously a product of the 80s.  The culture and styles of the 80s seep into that movie, making the idea that it’s set 3 years from today laughable.

Even if most books and movies get it wrong, it’s still fun to imagine what the future might hold.  I wonder how different it’s going to be from anything I imagine.

“If you learn one thing from having lived through decades of changing views, it is that all predictions are necessarily false.”
-M. H. Abrams

 

“The great thing about getting older is that you don’t lose all the other ages you’ve been.”
-Madeleine L’Engle

DSC_44A lot of people get upset about getting older, but I’ve never been one of them.  Probably that’s partly because I don’t feel my age.  I know how old I am because I can do math, but I feel like I’m still in my 20s, like I have plenty of time to do everything, and that the whole world is still waiting for me.  I don’t think that’s a bad thing.  It just means I haven’t lost my sense of wonder and possiblity.

You couldn’t pay me to go back to my teenage years.  Sure, it would be nice to get rid of all the adult responsibilities again, but being stuck in a hormone-ridden body, driven by emotion?  No thanks; I’ll pass.  High school and college weren’t great.  It wasn’t until I got into the working world that I really felt like I came into my own.  I love writing and reading Young Adult fiction, but that doesn’t mean that I want to live there.

One thing that really bothers me about books like Twilight is that Edward is over 100 years old mentally, and he’s into a 17 year old girl?  Is it not disgusting because he looks 17?  I know I’m overthinking this, but I’m not the only one this occurred to, right?

“I can’t predict how reading habits will change. But I will say that the greatest loss is the paper archive – no more a great stack of manuscripts, letters, and notebooks from a writer’s life, but only a tiny pile of disks, little plastic cookies where once were calligraphic marvels.”
-Paul Theroux

A few of my favorite upcycled journals from Etsy.

A few of my favorite upcycled journals from Etsy.

I confess: I have a bit of a notebook addiction.  I love notebooks, with all those clean pages waiting for me.  An empty notebook has endless possibilities; it seems to symbolize everything I love about writing.

I used to use cheap notebooks and try to keep different notebooks for different things, but I found that I’d forget what was what and I’d jot things down while I was out and about, then forget to put it in the notebook used for that purpose.  Now I try to use just one at a time.  Well, a notebook and a journal, though the notebook turns into a journal at times.

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve stopped viewing nicer notebooks as an indulgence.  I may not be making tons of money writing, but that doesn’t make me less of a writer.   And for a writer, a notebook is a tool.  Tools should fit the job being done.  A carpenter wouldn’t use a shabby hammer, bought for cheapness.  He’d probably use a hammer that was well-constructed, that fit his hand, and was made from sturdy materials.  Once I started looking at it that way, I started buying notebooks I actually enjoy.

I love new notebooks, but I also love all things vintage.  Etsy is my personal candy store, and I love searching for upcycled notebooks, make from all kinds of “trash.”  I try not to go on and look at notebooks because I can buy them the way other women buy shoes.  I gave a friend a upcycled notebook once, and she didn’t “get it.”  I later learned that she does not like used things and it would never occur to her to buy from a thrift store.  My husband says he finds them “distracting.”  Personally, I think they have character and help my creativity.

I tried using the “notes” section on my iPhone for this, but it just wasn’t the same.  I don’t feel as creative typing notes into a smartphone as I do using a good pen and writing down my thoughts.  I can doodle.  I can draw lines and arrows, things that don’t work on an iPhone or iPad.  When I sit down to formally write, I definitely prefer a computer.  But for notes, I’ll stick with a notebook.

“Insights don’t usually arrive at my desk, but go into notebooks when I’m on the move. Or half-asleep.”
-Hilary Mantel

 

“The way you get meaning into your life is to devote yourself to loving others, devote yourself to your community around you, and devote yourself to creating something that gives you purpose and meaning.”
-Mitch Albom

Pennsylvania; Photo Credit: Doree Weller

Pennsylvania; Photo Credit: Doree Weller

I’m a big believer in the idea that we, as human beings, need meaning to thrive.  We can survive without it, sure.  But we can’t thrive without the belief in something bigger than ourselves.

For me, meaning has three parts:  physically, emotionally, and spiritually.

For a lot of people, physical meaning centers on beauty.  I’ve tried to move away from form and focus more on function.  My body is strong, it has good endurance.  I can do the things that I want to, and I try to focus on that.  Part of respecting my body is to feed it mostly healthy food and drink with some treats here and there.  I don’t think there’s anything wrong with focusing on physical beauty, other than it’s transient.  But just because something doesn’t last doesn’t make it less beautiful.  A flower is beautiful, but it won’t stay that way.  It will wilt and die, as all things do.

For me, emotional meaning focuses on a combination of connectedness and aloneness.  I love connecting with those I care about, both family and friends.  I love spending time looking at photos the husband has taken, hiking with my brother, having dinner with my parents, or hearing about my best friend’s day.  I also love that quiet time when I’m alone with my thoughts, either writing or thinking deep thoughts.  :)  I need that creative time in order to feel whole emotionally.

Spiritual meaning for me is about connecting with nature.  There are so many great gifts around me, and I love to appreciate them.  I try to live and let live when it comes to bugs.  I love to get my hands dirty in my garden or hike in the desert.  As a kid, I loved to walk in the woods behind my house and sit with a notebook.  I had a special tree in a small clearing, and I’d take my shoes off and rest my feet in the cool, damp earth.  As I write this, I’m in my yard listening to crickets chirping.

Meaning is different for everyone, and I think you have to look for it.  I think it can change at different times of life.  I know what’s meaningful to me has evolved over time, which I think is great.  Humans are works in progress, and I can’t grow as a person without change.

Desert Botanical Gardens, Phoenix AZ; Photo Credit: Doree Weller

Desert Botanical Gardens, Phoenix AZ; Photo Credit: Doree Weller

Loss is part of life, one of the most difficult parts.  As humans, we resist change, yet grow bored when things stay too long the same.  I didn’t fully appreciate the lush green of Pennsylvania until I moved away.  It was only then that I realized the  green was bright and full of life, and everywhere.  When I first moved to Arizona, the brown and heat seemed so clean and so lovely in a stark, simple way.  I told this to a friend who’s lived here all his life, and he shrugged and said, “I don’t see it that way.  I just want to get away.” Loss reminds us of what we have, strangely enough.  In the days, weeks, and months after my grandfather died, I kept wishing I had called him more often.  Neither of us were particularly chatty, so it probably would have puzzled him if I had called for no reason… but I still wish I had. During the brief time I worked in Hospice, I met a lot of people, and no one ever regretted the things they did so much as they regretted what they didn’t do.  We all get busy with life and assume there’s going to be more time.  More time to do, to love, to laugh, to cry, to see, to know. The fact is: there’s only today.  So enjoy it.  Wring every drop you can from it.  And if tomorrow comes, do it all over again.

“Death is not the greatest loss in life. The greatest loss is what dies inside us while we live.” -Norman Cousins

How I Live Now

by The TV Guy

thI was flipping through the “Popular on Netflix” streaming and came across a movie that at first, I misread the caption. I thought it stated the main character met someone before the second the world war and settled in for a bit of a period piece. Much to my surprise, a bleached blond girl with big bulky ear phones and nose piercing is being ushered through a security checkpoint of a modern European airport.
Soon after her arrival, WWIII starts with a nuclear blast in London and the family she has come to see is separated from each other. The movie becomes a story of survival and getting back to the farm. It makes for an interesting yet sad movie. This is a foreign film, so be prepared for the darkness of the non-American films. There is plenty of pain and death and still there is that part of the movie where you watch and wait hoping that things will get better.

K is for Killing

Phoenix, AZ; Photo credit: Doree Weller

Phoenix, AZ; Photo credit: Doree Weller

“Do all men kill the things they do not love?”
-William Shakespeare

I have a confession that may surprise you… I’m not a killer.

No, really.  When I used to play Legend of Zelda, friends would gleefully cut down the chickens, and I felt guilty about it.  So guilty that I’m still remembering it 20 years (or so) later.  A friend told me that she liked to play the Sims, name them after people she was angry with, then starve them or not let them go to the bathroom until they died.  I thought it sounded like a great idea.  But I couldn’t do it.  Again with the guilt.

I cried when (spoilers) Ruth and Danny died in Lightning by Dean Koontz.  I cried pretty much the whole last book of Harry Potter.

I’ve killed off a few characters of my own, and it’s usually painful.  Depending on how long I’ve spent with that character, I’m in their head.  I know their wants and needs.  I know their secrets.  And then, because the book calls for it, I kill them.

It’s very difficult, even when I remind myself that death is part of the cycle, and that they’re not real.  Though they are to me.  Nevermind.

I used to tell people I wanted to be a serial killer when I grew up.  But maybe I wouldn’t be all that good at it, after all.

“He divines remedies against injuries; he knows how to turn serious accidents to his own advantage; whatever does not kill him makes him stronger.”
-Friedrich Nietzsche

100_0001I’m a fan of doing things that bring me joy, but also finding joy in little things.  I think that joy is a choice every day.  Sometimes it’s an easier choice than others, but I like challenges.  Sometimes.  I mindfully look for things that bring me joy.  So what brings me joy?

1.  My dogs.  No matter how my day has been, they’re happy to see me.  They’ll give me kisses if I’m cranky or happy.  All they ask is to have their ears rubbed and to be allowed to sit at my feet.  They wouldn’t object to a milk bone or a walk though.

2.  A good story.  There’s nothing I love more than a good story.  On paper, told orally, or if it’s good enough, on TV, a good story will keep me entertained and happy.

3.  My garden.  I love playing in the dirt and making things grow.  I especially love eating garden fresh tomatoes and having too many zucchini.

4.  Hiking.  There’s something about putting one foot forward while moving through the desert that makes me happy but also makes me feel humble and connected.  Plus, it’s pretty out there, and sometimes I get to see cool animals.

5.  Helping.  I do love my day job as a counselor, and I love being able to offer people help.  They don’t always take it, but being able to offer it is enough for me.  The choices they make from there are on them.

“One joy shatters a hundred griefs”
-Chinese Proverbs

Joy is a choice.  I choose joy today.

I is for Important

So far this year, this is the first letter of the alphabet I’ve struggled with.  But while I was reading a friend’s blog, Choosing Childless, the word “important” jumped out at me.

“He alone is great and happy who requires neither to command nor to obey in order to secure his being of some importance in this world” -Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

San Tan Regional Park; Photo Credit: Doree Weller

San Tan Regional Park; Photo Credit: Doree Weller

It can be hard to feel important, and to feel like your needs are as important as those around you.  I speak for myself with this issue. I don’t just consider myself when making decisions; I also consider my husband and parents.  Maybe even friends, depending on the decision.  Sometimes it can be hard to remember that your wants and needs and opinions are just as valid and important as anyone else’s.  Many people struggle with feeling selfish when they make decisions that primarily apply to them.  My definition of selfish is: meeting your own needs at the expense of others.  If you’re simply meeting your needs at no one’s expense, it’s not selfish; it might even be self-care. It’s an interesting paradox.  If you don’t work yourself to death, you’re not dedicated.  If you don’t wear yourself out meeting the needs of others, you don’t care.  When did not caring for oneself become the standard?  Now, I’m not saying that we shouldn’t care for others and shouldn’t view others as important too, but when did they start becoming more important? I’m a huge proponent of good boundaries, those limits you set to protect yourself: physically, spiritually, and mentally.  Good boundaries just boil down to treating yourself like you’re just as important as anyone else.  There’s only one you.  Treat you like you matter.

“In order to keep a true perspective of one’s importance, everyone should have a dog that will worship him and a cat that will ignore him.” -Author Unknown

Hello.  I'm completely unrelated to this post.

Hello. I’m completely unrelated to this post.

When I was a kid, I loved to imagine myself the hero of various plots.  I’d while away time daydreaming, often picturing myself in place of a character from TV or books.  I remember being Sara from The Little Princess and Pete from Pete’s Dragon.

A hero is just an ordinary person in extraordinary circumstances.  (Not to be confused with a super-hero who has extra powers.)  I prefer a hero who has to struggle and choose to be a hero, not the one who always does the right thing automatically.

I’m not saying that I’ve ever saved the world, but I can relate much better to heroes who struggle with the label, are anti-social and reluctant, than selfless heroes who take on evil without a thought to themselves.  I want to see struggle.  I want to be able to relate.  Most of all, I want to see decisions and moral complexity.  I love heroes, but I also love a good anti-hero.

I read an article that said that anti-heroes lack courage.  I’d disagree with that.  I think that anti-heroes prefer to save their own skins, but when it comes down to it, they find the courage they need.  To me, courage isn’t about it being easy, but about being afraid and doing it anyway.

One of my favorite anti-heroes is Dexter Morgan as written by Jeff Lindsay.  He’s somewhat different in the TV show than he is in the books, and I actually like him better as written in the books.  The one thing that does stay the same is that Dexter is a serial killer who learned to channel his desire to kill into only killing really bad people.  Dexter isn’t a traditional good guy, but he does make the world a safer place.

Another of my favorite anti-heroes is Tyler Durden from Fight Club.  Again, as written in the book, not the movie version.  Beware of the following spoiler if you haven’t seen it or read the book: Tyler/ Narrator (you know they’re the same person, right?) feels powerless and starts a fight club.  Men who have nothing else come together to fight.  For the length of the fight, they’re the center of someone else’s universe, and they’re alive.  Tyler wasn’t a good guy, by any means, but I rooted for him and wanted him to survive.

Who’s your favorite hero or anti-hero?

“A hero is no braver than an ordinary man, but he is braver five minutes longer.”
-Ralph Waldo Emerson

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