A Toilet Paper Scarcity Story

Pixabay: stevepb. Free for commercial use. No attribution required.Two squares of toilet paper. That was it; two squares. There are some things you don’t realize you take for granted until you can’t.

I was visiting my daughter in Ecuador and went to use a public bathroom. A woman at the entrance took my coin and handed me two squares of T.P. That was my allotment, regardless of what nature delivered.

I suddenly couldn’t take T.P. for granted; not on this vacation. After that first experience—and confirmation by my daughter that T.P. was scarce here—I took to glomming onto any extra toilet-paper-type products whenever I came by them. A restaurant that offered paper napkins? Grab some. A grocery store that sold rolls of T.P.? Buy some.

It became standard operating procedure to try and keep extra paper in my pocket, to supplement that offered by the public facility. Still, even trying to plan, I’d hit periods where my pockets were empty as I went in search of a public bathroom, leaving me nervous as I approached. I’m traveling in a foreign country; my plumbing isn’t working so great. Am I about to enter a stall with a hearty supply of T.P. or only have two squares with which to work?

Sure, I’ve experienced that moment of panic when, mid-movement in a public bathroom, I suddenly realized there was no T.P. It’s a sucky feeling, but infrequent back home, and there’s often someone in the next stall who will willingly pass you some, because, well, there’s plenty of it.

Not in Ecuador. This was not something there was plenty of. Up until that moment I didn’t really think too much about T.P. If I did, it was a throw-away necessity, a plentiful household commodity.

Now? Now, I’m deeply grateful that I have plenty of T.P. in my life. As much as my little butt desires.

 

Photo source: stevepb on Pixabay


 

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Rabbit Update

Pixabay: Alexas_Fotos. Free for commercial use. No attribution required.After writing about the Rabbit Prophecy on March 31st, and putting a note by my clock-radio (a permitted reminder), I forgot to say Rabbit Rabbit on April 1st.

“Are you awake?” Bubba asked that morning at 2 a.m.  “Yeah,” I answered.

With that exchange, April’s good-luck rabbit-fortunes were derailed.

For these situations, should anyone ask, I have a trump card. I said Rapid Rabbit on January 1st, which covers the year. It’s my insurance policy.

“No, you have to say it each month for it to count,” my dad argues.

It turns out my dad also disagrees with my conclusion that Rabbit Rabbit was correct.

“No, no, no,” he said, after reading my blog and the Wikipedia post. “I don’t care what the internet says. It’s Rapid Rabbit. That’s how your mother and I always did it. That’s how we taught you.”

Rapid Rabbit was the way I always said it, and according to dad, was correct.

My sister had learned Rabbit Rabbit, and when she did her on-line sleuthing, that was correct.

We were both right, by different sources.

I’m glad to get this resolved. Again.

I still have to remember to do this the first of the month. But my options have expanded. Now, I’m confident the rabbit wand can be waved many ways.

One Rabbit, Two Rabbits, Three Rabbits, four.

Rapid Rabbit, Lapin Rabbit, It’s all rabbit lore.

 

Photo source: Alexas_Fotos on Pixabay


 

Rapid, Rabbit Rabbit

Pixabay: Alexas_Fotos. Free for commercial use. No attribution required.I don’t consider myself superstitious. Until I am. Then I do various things to avoid jinxing myself: knock on wood; keep umbrellas closed indoors; sidestep walking beneath a ladder.

I also, on the first of a month, start the day off with the words “Rapid Rabbit.”

Talking with my sister today, she reminded me that tomorrow is “Rabbit Rabbit” day.

“Wait, did you say Rabid Rabbit?” I asked her.

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It Wasn’t Just an Avocado

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It wasn’t just an avocado. It was an instant of attentiveness, of being awake to a moment in life I usually sleep through. Were I not blogging, I likely would’ve slept through that moment. Instead, I experienced avocado-man with an awareness that saw his small act as something bigger.

As if in slo-mo, I fully took it in.

That’s been a wonderfully, unexpected benefit of blogging.

 

Photo source: coyot on Pixabay


 

Yes, We Have No Avocados

Pixabay: ponce_photography. Free for commercial use. No attribution required.

A fellow ran down the sidewalk from Whole Foods, an avocado in his hand. I was in line at a sidewalk sandwich spot off our town square. Avocado-man popped behind the sandwich counter, cut the fruit open, sliced it, and laid it perfectly onto a partially-made sandwich, which he handed to the man in front of me.

Wow, I thought. What a great customer experience.

Can you imagine! I picture him telling his friends. The guy ran over to Whole Foods to get an avocado. For my sandwich!

And his friends would shake their heads in disbelief.

As my friends shake their heads in disbelief when I tell them how things went awry during my birthday outing.  The birthday without clean coffee cups, bananas or bread. And with no one going out of their way to deliver any of them for me.

That customer and I; we each had stories to tell.

 

Photo source: ponce_photography on Pixabay

I wasn’t sure if avocados were fruits or veggies; they’re a fruit. Here’s the scoop from the California Avocado Commission.


 

A Different Puzzle

Walk the goats

I had 1,000 pieces to choose from.

I would put my puzzle together. I would include straight border edges.

If I couldn’t do it following instructions, I could do it my way. It didn’t matter if all 1,000 pieces were there. I was only going to use thirty-one of them. I’d make them fit.

Sometimes you have to bend rules; think outside the box; stretch boundaries; break clichés.

Sometimes you have to own the puzzle.

I owned it.

 

Photo source: Walk the Goats


 

Our Home Security Checklist

Pixabay: PhotoMIX-Company. Free for commercial use; no attribution required

Bubba and I will be several blocks from home when one of us turns to the other and asks, “did you lock the door?”

The question triggers doubt. The doubt clings.  When that question gets asked, we’ve learned to turn around, go home and check. Then we can go forward, unencumbered by worry.

Locking the door is an automatic habit. We do it absently. Most of the time. Except for those times we forget.

Because we occasionally do forget, our question—did you lock the door—compels us to return home.

With all our mindfulness exercises, we kept thinking there must be some way to help us remember if we locked the door.

There is.

It’s a professionally-approved system, elegant in its simplicity.

As I insert my key in the lock—we live in a dumb house and are damn proud of it—I say, out loud as I turn the key, “I locked the door.”

Sometimes I say it twice, always out loud.

If Bubba is there, he says it back, “you locked the door.”

It’s very low-tech. No app required. Short. Concise. Engages the brain in actively noting the task as it’s being done.

To help me not view it as a sign I’m getting older, I imagine it’s like a pilot going through their pre-flight checklist. I don’t care how many hours they’ve flown, I want them verbally saying each item on the list as they do it.

If it’s good enough for them flying a plane, it’s good enough for our home security system.

 

Photo source: PhotoMIX-Company on Pixabay


 

Am I Willing to Fail?

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Am I creative? Am I willing to fail?

As I face these questions, I squirm.

I feel like a caterpillar in a silk cocoon, not quite sure where I am in my evolution, but feeling as if some transition is unfolding, out-of-sight.

What transition, I’m not sure. Nor why.

Being unsure, I feel afraid, uncertain, confused.

With a tinge of hopeful anticipation.

Continue reading “Am I Willing to Fail?”

Nudged Toward Retirement

111_NudgedTowardNotWorking2_3-6-19Given the nature of life, sh*t happened this past year.  The same month I started blogging, mom almost died. She didn’t, not then, but 6-months later cancer got her. My blog turned out to be an unexpected blessing; a place I could try and make sense of mom’s last months. Who would’ve known when I launched WTG it would give me a place to unpack stuff, and get support from fellow bloggers?

At this time last year, I was still working, self-employed. After mom’s first hospital scare, I scaled back my hours to be available. It allowed several trips east to help navigate mom’s health issues. After her death, I called it quits, claiming sabbatical, but wondering if I’ll ever go back to seeing clients. I was ready to stop; this was an easy nudge.

Given the time I’ve spent helping dad with things—some of which mom used to handle—I’m grateful I’m not also juggling a full-time job. Between mom’s-post-death stuff, Board duties, Bubba-relationship, and blogging, my days are filled.  As some commitments fade away, I’ll see what new interests reveal themselves.  Maybe National Novel Writing Month?

Not working is intriguing.

Friends thinking about retiring fear they won’t know what to do with their days.

Friends who’ve retired say they’re always busy, although half-the-time they admit they can’t figure out what they did all day. They share a persistent wondering: “how’d I used to work full-time, raise kids, do the shopping, run errands, make meals, clean the house and occasionally have fun?”

Sabbatical is my version of not working; certainly of being busy while not getting paid. My experience throws me solidly in the how’d I used to manage all that stuff camp.

I’m getting a taste of not working; feeling a nudge toward retirement. I like it.

How about you? If you’re retired (or nearing retirement) or on sabbatical, what inner voices chirp away in your head? Are you embracing or resisting it? Scared by or excited by it?

And if you’re fully immersed in it, what fills your days?

 

Photo source: geralt on Pixabay


 

Road Lesson #3: Don’t Take it Personally

106_RoadRageLesson3_2-26-19I’ve written two blog posts inspired by a place I dubbed mindfulness intersection. It was a stretch of road I drove regularly, giving me plenty of opportunities to practice mindfulness.

My first lesson was about my rage at another car cutting in front of me.

My second lesson had me being the cutter, at a different, but similar, intersection.

My third lesson—I’ve stopped saying final because life keeps surprising me—I tell here.

This lesson captures the essence of Don Miguel Ruiz’s second agreement—don’t take anything personally—in his book, The Four Agreements.

“Nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality, their own dream. When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won’t be the victim of needless suffering.”[1]

This third lesson, surprisingly, happened while I was walking. Having had a disagreement with Bubba, I was outside, stomping up the street, trying to clear my head and make sense of what had just happened.

Continue reading “Road Lesson #3: Don’t Take it Personally”

Wintry Mindfulness Moments

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My blogging efforts remind me of learning to drive a stick-shift: fits-and-starts. In January, I met my goal of posting three-times a week. So far this month? Sketchy.

My excuse? I went east to spend time with dad, to celebrate his 95th birthday. Generally I avoid flying cross-country during winter; too unpredictable. I haven’t been home for Christmas in decades. I tried to get east for dad’s 90th birthday, but snow-storms cancelled that year’s trip.  With mom’s death last September, the urge to go east for Christmas or for dad’s February birthday was strong.

I opted for dad’s birthday, both to miss the holiday madness, and so I could get information together for his tax return. Dad might discourage my traveling for his birthday; but to get the taxes done would be a compelling enticement.

Whether I was going to get east seemed dicey.

Continue reading “Wintry Mindfulness Moments”

My New Swear Word

Pixabay: ponce_photography. Free for commercial use; no attribution required

I have a new swear word.

Actually, it’s less a swear word and more a cheery way to acknowledge a minor mishap.

The word was born in the kitchen, while scooping quinoa out of a bag and into a pan. No matter how careful Bubba and I were, grains of quinoa always leapt from the measuring cup onto the counter.

Have you ever found yourself muttering under your breath about being clumsy, careless, stupid over something minor? Over something you’d never criticize a child for?

Well, when the quinoa fell, our voices muttered.

Some things are habitual; tracks laid down years ago and reaffirmed so often they’re solidly etched into being automatic.  Bubba and I have a few of those tracks; we work at counterbalancing their automaticity with more intentional responses. Sometimes we find something that works and is fun.

It was in the kitchen, with quinoa falling and voices muttering, that we found our counterbalancing tool: the quinoa itself.

Quinoa, when spoken, sounds like keen-wa. Which is quite fun to say, especially if you elongate the vowels.

Now when the quinoa falls, we call out keeeen-waaaa! with a cheery voice; it’s so much easier to feel upbeat when the music is soaring. It’s become our way of simply recognizing what is—the quinoa is going to leap—rather than responding as if it shouldn’t be doing what it’s doing.

It’s been so effective at quieting our spilled-quinoa-muttering-minds, we now use it regularly, in all sorts of situations. Because, at least in our house, life serves up plenty of spills, drops, tumbles and minor mishaps.

Spilled milk?

 Keeeen-waaaa!!!!!!!

 

Photo source: ponce_photography on Pixabay


 

Meditating with Headspace

98_headspace-meditation6_1-27-19In my last post, I wrote about a decision I made years ago that helped me navigate the self-critical voices in my head and challenge their disapproving chatter. As a result, my inner-landscape-thoughts turned in a new direction. The directional change was slow, but that decision led me to experience myself and the world as kinder and gentler. The outside world hasn’t gotten any kinder; but my inside world has.

A few years ago, I made another good decision: I started meditating on a regular basis. Meditation takes the learning from that earlier decision and deepens it. It helps me tap into greater equanimity and contentment. I feel more balanced, less tilted toward finding things wrong and getting upset.

Andy Puddicombe is my meditation guide, his lessons delivered via the Headspace app.

Bubba discovered Headspace after coming across a talk Andy did at Google in 2014. Andy is the voice and experience of Headspace, having spent ten-years studying meditation before being ordained as a Tibetan Buddhist monk.

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Tug-of-Wars Within

Pixabay: Dark Cordial. Free for commercial use; no attribution required

Have you ever felt a tug-of-war taking place inside you?

Not just a tug-of-war between two teams, but between multiple teams. Two teams tug on the smart/stupid assessment rope, each at opposite ends. The stupid team pulls furiously, dragging you slowly to their side.

Two other teams tug on the attractive/ugly rope; the ugly team manages to find enough “evidence” to give them the win.

Other teams tug on more self-images: kind/unkind; generous/stingy; strong/weak; on-and-on, dragging your esteem through the mud. The teams that pull on the dark traits seem to win more battles. Their voices are loud; insistent; convincing. The Judge stands over the games, hears the critical voices, and declares the winners. The Judge’s scales tilt in favor of the demons; somehow those voices are easier to believe.

Those battles went on in my head for years. They were torturous and painful and left me feeling at times as if a dark, wet blanket were draped over me.  Battles still occur—they always will—but I have more tools available when they arise; light exists to counterbalance the dark.

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When Things Go Awry, Agitation & Self-Talk

Pixabay: johnhain Free for commercial use; No attribution required

Sometimes small things agitate me; today it was forgetting to bring my health insurance card to a medical appointment.

As soon as I walked in to the lab, I realized my new insurance card was at home. The sign in the receptionist’s window said cards were required for service. I hoped they’d let me email them a copy when I got home; I feared they’d tell me no card, no service, and I’d have to go home and get it.

This would be an unexpected change in my plans; a change I didn’t want. Unmet expectations are not uncommon in life; they are what they are. But sometimes those unmet expectations—things not going the way I want them to go—can trigger an inner reaction.

When that happens, I’m trying to pay attention to how my body reacts; because my body usually sends me signals before anything else.

Continue reading “When Things Go Awry, Agitation & Self-Talk”

Mom’s Last Week

Dad photo

Mom arrived around noon to the room she would live in until she died. She knew the facility, although this was a new room. She expressed appreciation for the photos and flowers I had decorated it with. She thanked the two young men who had transported her by ambulance from the hospital.  She was weak, but knew how to be polite.  It was Friday, September 21.

Her arrival marked the beginning of the end. An end that came nine days later.

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I Have 340 Separate Account Log-Ons

Pixabay: Pixelkult. Free for commercial Use. No attribution required.

There’s a reason people use the same log-on name and password on every friggin’ site on the internet; they do it because every friggin’ site requires we establish an account in order to interact with them beyond looking at their offerings through the internet-window.

You want to come in and browse? Set up an account, create a user name and unique password, give us your personal data, and then—and only then—will we let you in to see our wares.

Imagine if that happened at retail stores? They would have collapsed sooner than their apparent, imminent collapse.

I have 340 web sites that required me to set up an account with them in order to engage.  Really? Did all 340 of them really need me to set up an account? I don’t even know if some of the accounts I have exist anymore. I’m pretty sure my MySpace account is defunct, but who knows, it could still be sitting there.

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Mom’s Final Hospital Discharge

Walk the Goats Photog

My mother died September 30th, one week and two days after being discharged from the hospital, terminal cancer her final diagnosis.

In early September we were talking about her possible discharge home at the end of that month; she was making great progress with her hip replacement rehab, despite continued pain.

We thought we had time ahead of us. She thought she had time.

Then, with a September 15th phone call, our world changed. The resident calling reported mom had terminal cancer.  A day-and-a-half later, I’m back east, meeting with dad, mom, doctors, nurses.

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