Not an easy fix

Sorry for stepping away from this blog for so many months. At first, it was all a matter of time. I couldn’t force myself to come home and write after spending hours in front of a computer screen each day.

When Mr. McB arrived in town after Labor Day, I wanted to spend time with him. When he adapted quickly to life in Oregon while I continued to struggle, I didn’t want to talk or write about it. I also had no interest in creating a fictional existence where all was rosy and bright.

Truth is, I am still trying to find my way. Admitting that is hard. I am also working too many hours to make that adjustment any easier for myself. It’s my own bad choice and don’t want pity, I just want to be honest about it. Without honesty, this blog becomes little more than a highlight reel ripe for unrealistic comparisons.

So, I am working on it. On the professional front, help will be on the way soon. Summer also brings at least a moment to breathe. 

Personally, I looking forward to little getaways. I am eager to explore, with Mr. McB or on my own if his work schedule continues to be a challenge. I vow to leave my desk at lunch at least once a week. I am indulging in a 60 minute massage every six weeks. I am making time to call and email family and East Coast friends. I might try a  little container gardening. I am getting back to blogging on at least a weekly basis. In short, I am getting back to taking care of myself.

  

Regaining the magic

I have vague recollections of the flights I took as a youngster. The oldest memories are fuzzy fragments – seeing blue lights illuminating the runway at night, receiving a pair of wings just like the pilot’s, wishing I had a jar to catch some clouds…. Somewhere between the bumpy rides on puddle jumpers and adulthood, what was once magic became routine.

Fast forward to 2008 and my cousin’s wedding. We decided to fly to Kansas City as a family. This included my grandparents and aunt who had never flown before. If you asked me then, I might have described the trip as a “production” instead of an adventure. I love my family but that’s a lot of moving parts.

My grandfather was a tall man so we arranged for his seat to be in the aisle but he was far more interested in the view than legroom. We shuffled him into a window seat. I’m not sure Pop talked to us at all during that flight. He was not a quiet man so this is notable. Throughout the flight his gaze rarely left the window. This was clearly someone who was capable of wonder and understood that safely speeding through the air is nothing short of miraculous.  

I have to admit that I remarked on it but it really didn’t change me very much. Flights were to primarily to be endured, not savored. When we flew back to Kansas City for another cousin’s wedding, I remember Pop’s perplexed, and perhaps mildly disgusted, expression as we put on headphones, pulled out magazines, and started all sorts of tasks that took us out of the experience. We could have it our way but he was opting for fascination and exploration.

Somewhere along the way, and it might have been the first flight I took after he passed, that I realized that I was wasting a perfectly good opportunity to experience awe and joy, two emotions that far too many adults are lacking in their lives. Now, I savor the glorious moment when the plane leaves the ground and begins to climb toward the heavens. I find myself peering out the window and counting my blessings. I don’t have a perfect life but it’s full of wonderful people and amazing opportunities. There’s something about lifting off the ground that puts everything into perspective.

These photos were taken on a recent flights between Portland and Seattle. I think he would approve.

  

  

  

  

  

  

  

   

         


Photo Friday 10/52

Photo Friday 10/52

My grandmother and I flew down to Louisiana yesterday to visit my parents, brother, SIL, and niece. The visit was a total surprise for my niece. It was so great to see her big smile as she came running off the school bus. I love this kid.

The year that was and the one that will be

2014 has dawned all shiny and new but we lurch headfirst into the new year, I want to take a few moments to reflect on 2013. She was not the kindest of years. We lost my grandfather, Mr. McB’s grandmother, and a few dear friends. This year had more than its fair share of heartbreak but there was also laughter and love.¬† This year more than any other, I have come to realize that these are the things that sustain us in the hard times.

While I’m not really one for resolutions, I do intend to make 2014 memorable. I want to find the joy in the mundane and break up my routine a little, even if it threatens my comfort zone. I hope you all have a wonderful 2014 that is full of fun and challenging new experiences.

Time to bloom again

DSC_0277This orchid was a gift from a wonderful friend who vastly over-estimated my ability to care for plant life. I tried so hard to be a good orchid owner and yet the delicate blooms did not have the sunlight, water, or attention needed. The plant is still alive but it is missing much of its beauty.

Sadly, this orchid could be an illustration for my creative spirit. When I had time for photography, this blog, and crafty projects, my creativity flourished. I felt vital, serene, and attuned to the universe. Now, I feel like part of me has been stripped away. I’ve let other things take up the space that I need to devote to me. It is a mistake that I make far too often for my own comfort.

I intend to fix that.

Inspired by sweet my friend, Mr. McB and even our engineering students, I want to create again. I want to document the things that make this life worth living. I need these things to make myself happy. I want my blossoms back and I am determined to see that it happens.

Not bad, just different

I’ve been at my new job for just over three months now. Thankfully, I feel more settled with each passing day but there are still moments of sheer terror or regret. Anytime that I feel confident that I’ve wrapped my head around the tasks that lay before me, something changes drastically. There have been tears and curses but those are starting to give way to contented sighs and a feeling of accomplishment.

After a little reflection I realize that I’m no longer defined by my job. I hesitate to put that into words because part of me still thinks that means I don’t care about my job. That’s not true. It’s just that now I can talk about who I am and what I like without even referencing the work that I do.

In the past, I’ve viewed my job as an extension of who I am. I’m now starting to see that it doesn’t have to be that way. I can care about my job and work hard without letting my profession dominate every facet of my life. I think this is that whole “work-life balance” that people talk about. It’s a strange feeling and I still sometimes spend the evening checking e-mail and freaking out about the next day, but it happens less than before and I’m starting to like that a lot.

Memories over material goods

I received 100 Things Every Designer Needs to Know About People for my birthday. It’s a great book with lots of fantastic information about our thought patterns and behaviors and there are many tips for using this to your advantage when trying to sell a product, tell a story, or just create good design. The author, Susan Weinschenk, has a great site that also tackles this subject.

A recent post deals with a study that shows that we’re happier with experiences than possessions. It’s a great post that talks about the importance of finding ways to sell your product as an experience and talk about what your company does, not just what it makes.

I was really intrigued by the research and wanted to read more about the findings. I ran across a bit more on the study here. I was particularly interested in the fact that we become less satisfied with our stuff when comparing it with others, but comparing experiences doesn’t create the same response. So if the Jones’ have a bigger TV, you’re depressed about the one you have but if they had a great vacation, even if it was better than yours, the effect isn’t the same. This means you don’t have to have the penthouse suite to enjoy yourself and create lasting memories that will continue to bring you joy.

In all honesty, I’m not particularly surprised by these findings. When I was packing up our in house in preparation for the move to South Carolina, I couldn’t believe how much junk we accumulated over the years. I was faced with boxes of lovely things, some that I had saved for and others that were purchased on a whim, but all were things that I *had* to own. The joy I felt from possessing these objects was fleeting. When faced with the prospect of paying to have these forgotten items moved to the new house, I sent most of them to Goodwill.

It wasn’t hard to get rid of these things. For several years I have felt myself moving away from buying things and toward buying experiences – travel, events, attractions, dining…. I began to realize that our zoo or conservatory membership brought me more happiness than a piece of glassware or new gizmo.

Now, I can’t tell you that I still don’t love buying shoes or that I don’t want a new camera. Of course if you think about it, even these items are more related to experiences (dressing up for a night out, enjoying my photo walks) than to simply possessing something. I’m just interested, and a bit encouraged, by the fact that we’re starting to realize that things can’t make us happy.