Adding the Spice

I’ve been on a rather circuitous route towards mindfulness. I’m actively trying to become more mindful, more present in the journey, but sometimes life manages to sneak in and I have to get all pragmatic. But yet, I try.

One mindfulness exercise that I have come across is about making daily activities more mindful- to actually find peace, and daresay enjoyment out of something that is quite banal.

Hmmm

When I am doing household stuff, I tend to have on music or a TV show in the background. This is my way of making things better, but singing along to the Doobies or watching a house go from fixer to fabulous isn’t exactly being mindful…

So how do you make the tiresome details of your life more mindful?

Here’s what I tried:

I started with cooking: I already like cooking, so you would think it would be easy to throw in some mindful moments. However, stopping to smell the aromas of cooking went from being a pleasant, heady experience to an moment that felt sort of false- I ended up looking like Pepe Le Pew holding his nose aloft and being haughty…

Fail

I tried it when changing the litter. Yeah…there is nothing mindful about dumping litter from the box to the waiting bag in the garbage. As much as I tried, I could not focus on making my cat’s environment better: I could only focus on getting the task done as quickly as possible.

Fail

Laundry? From wheeling my cart down the hall, waiting for the elevator, hoping the big machine is free and in working order- this was not a mindful moment. This was a bit of wishing, hoping and not quite dreaming but a whole lot of wait and see…

Fail

Cleaning the bathroom? Seriously- can wiping under the rim of the toilet ever be a joyful experience?

Fail

Mopping?

Fail

Dusting

Sneezy fail

You get the idea. Try as I might I can’t find the moment of solace in doing everyday household chores. I can’t focus on thinking that the meal I make will nourish my family or the shelf I dust will make the surface sparkle. I live in NYC- there’s dust ten seconds after I’ve dusted. I don’t even get a moment to savor the dust free surface… I can’t help but think that trying to feel mindful about the day to day is really what a fool believes…

While I can try to be more mindful of my moments, I’m going to have to choose which moments to savor, and which moments to endure. I don’t think I’m cut out to be in the moment every moment.

Official Ruling: Error- Editor

A few months ago I read Adult Assembly Required by Abbi Waxman. Let me start by saying that I enjoy the books that Waxman has written, including this one. They are charming and fun and full of heart. I was so looking forward to this one, I preordered it.

Waxman loves quirky characters, which is one of the reasons that I like her work so much. Her characters are real, multi faceted, interesting and fun. In this particular book her protagonist is a woman who loves baseball.

Great. I love baseball. OK- I love the Mets, but as they play baseball we can run with an if/than…

Well, she has her baseball loving character refer to the guy in black who stands behind the base as a REFEREE.

REFEREE?

REFEREE?

For those who don’t understand my consternation, the officials who preside over a baseball game are UMPIRES.

I immediately find her contact info and I email her. My tone was probably incredulous- I said something like- you’ve set women who like sports back to the stones ages… I was mad, and I am positive it came across that way.

Within minutes of me sending the email, Waxman wrote me back.

First off- she was completely apologetic and couldn’t comprehend how that little tidbit was missed in the editing process.

She thanked me for alerting her to the error.

She wrote me a few hours later to tell me that it had been fixed for future editions of the book, including the paperback version. Again she gave apologies on behalf of herself and her publishing house.

So now, I have complete and total respect for Waxman not only as an author, but as a person. And I feel a little bad that I went a little crazy in my email.

I’ll ask you all to read at least one of Waxman’s novels, to show a little support and solidarity to an author who responded quickly, acknowledged the mistake, and writes a tidy little novel.


One of my blog friends posted this yesterday and I thought it was something interesting to think about: https://bleuwater.me/2022/07/19/something-to-scratch-your-head-about/

and

One of my blog friends posted this http://myricopia.com/2022/07/19/hangin-on-the-line/ and I thought it was just fun and cool.

Drop In

When I was in college, a friend and I drove down to DC to visit a friend who was working there that summer. On the way home, we saw a sigh that said JHTYG 90 (for clarity sake, JHTYG is a town that I made up because I didn’t want to use the real town name. I think 90 might be the correct amount of miles away). JHTYG was the town where one of our friends lived. It was also 90 miles opposite the direction we were headed. So of course we went to drop by… I think it was the only time I ever dropped in on someone without their prior knowledge. 1985.

I do not like the drop in. With the exception of one of my best friends dropping in to see me as a surprise because they were passing through NYC, I’m not a big fan. We have a neighbor who sometimes lets her dog out of her apartment- the dog then sits outside of our place and barks. Theoretically, the neighbor wants company…my husband will go out and talk for a few minutes, but I pretend I can’t hear the 30 pound dog barking…If I am lucky enough to be home alone, I’m staying that way… So unless you are M, G or A, (I would also allow any of the S’s, and M and C but M and C are less likely to drop in than I am) please call before coming by…

But that’s me.

What do you think about the drop in visitor? Are you excited for the company? Are you mortified that your house isn’t “clean”? Do you gleefully open a bottle of wine or put up a K cup of coffee, or do you consider hiding when the doorbell rings? Is not answering the door for an unexpected visit the main reason that people get those special camera doorbells?

In a post pandemic world (sorry to inform those of you clinging to masks and self tests case numbers, but we are how in the AC era) is there even such a thing as a drop in visitor? Is our busy world too jam packed with TO DO’s that drop in’s are a TO DON’T ? Booty calls are prearranged on Tinder. My daughters playdates were scheduled months in advance because you know how crazy the life of a three year old is…

Will people ever really go back to the world of come on knock on my door, we’ve been waiting for you. Did we ever want to be there in the first place?

Past: Did you like the drop in?

Present: Do you answer the door for an unexpected visitor?

Future: Are you going to drop in on someone you know?

Discuss

DNA

My daughter sent me the following article the other day. She put in the subject line: Interesting. When my daughter says that something is interesting, what she really means is she knows I’ll have some sort of opinion about it.

https://newjerseymonitor.com/2022/07/13/newborn-screening-program-used-to-aid-criminal-investigation-public-defender-says/

I’ll summarize the article:

  1. Babies born in New Jersey have a blood sample taken from them within 48 hours so that it can be tested for rare and potentially serious conditions
  2. A small amount of dried blood remains and those records can be retained for 23 years
  3. Unable to get a warrant for a person of interest, the Police used a subpoena to obtain the blood sample so they could look for a DNA link to the suspect, the Father of a child born in NJ

The NJ supreme court did limit the power of authorities to use DNA evidence collected like this, but this doesn’t mean things like this will necessarily be over.

So the thought/discussion points for today are:

  1. Should blood screening be mandatory for newborns: should it be recommended but not required. Is it the states business to require this, or should it be left up to the parent? Is this a violation of the civil liberties of the child?
  2. Should everyone be required to have fingerprints and DNA evidence of file to prevent/solve crimes?
  3. Should you be able to get DNA evidence of a person of interest any way that you can?
  4. Is DNA evidence infallible?
  5. As science/tech gets more advanced, should we limit its uses and how?
  6. Is solving a crime more important than anything else?

Discuss:

What Inspired Me: 7/17/22

Dear Paper Source Family,
We are very pleased to announce that Paper Source and Barnes & Noble are now united under single ownership. Paper Source was acquired in May 2021 by the owner of Barnes & Noble and the company is now under the formal ownership of Barnes & Noble, allowing us to bring you many improvements. Paper Source will continue to operate as an independent retail experience, both in stores and online, and Barnes & Noble will remain your trusted bookseller; however, we wanted to make you aware of a few upcoming changes and are especially pleased to let you know of the benefits that these bring:
A Distinguished Assortment– Customers will now have access to a wider array of high-quality products and services, including Paper Source exclusive designs, across both brands and their respective channels.
Shared Return Policy– The brands will soon share the same return policy to allow for consistent customer experience. Updates to our policy will be made here in the coming weeks.
Gift Card Policy– Later this year, the brands will operate a shared gift card program to allow you to redeem as you choose in the stores of either brand. Details about redemption of cards, as well as our policies, can be found here and will be updated from time to time.
Credit Card Statement– Website purchases made at PaperSource.com and BarnesandNoble.com will appear on your bank or credit card statement as ‘B&N PaperSource’. Store purchases will continue to appear as either Paper Source or Barnes & Noble, as applicable, on your bank or credit card statement.
Update to Privacy Policy– Customer data management for both brands is now covered in one privacy policy: please view the policy here.
As we complete the integration of our businesses, we are committed to delivering the same high level of service to which you are accustomed. If you require assistance, please contact our Customer Care Team at customerservice@papersource.com or by calling 1-800-PAPER11. We expect this to be a seamless transition for customers, with more benefits to come. We will keep you posted on further improvements as these are developed, notably the intention to bring the best of our respective Member programs to customers of both brands. We are delighted to continue to enhance the shopping experience for Paper Source customers.
Sincerely, Jenica Myszkowski COO & Chief Brand Officer Paper Source    
I was thrilled that I received an announcement of the marriage in my inbox…

Gratitude and Mindfulness: 7/26/22

My daughter moved out of her dorm, and much of her stuff, on the 89th of May. At the time, we thought it was perfect, because she was supposed to move back in to dorm on the 89th of August. We would only have to pay for three months of a storage unit.

Yay.

Of course, best laid plans- she’s actually not moving in till the 91st day of August…two days over, which would require us to pay a full months rent for one or two days ( we are probably getting to DC on the 90th) Those are the rules to the contract we signed…

Do you think I want to pay for an unused month?

So I called the storage place, and talked to the Manager. After listening to my tale of woe, he told me he would prorate me the day, which is something they normally don’t do, but because I was so nice and a fellow New Yorker…and I 100% promised him that we would be out by Monday…

So I am grateful to A, my new favorite person in the world for tweaking the rules just a teeny tiny bit. The kindness of strangers…


My prompt for this week is CREATIVITY. Here’s how it’s used in the books that I’m reading:

  1. And even more crucially, it makes us feel that cooking is not just about food- it’s an art form, one worth serious attention and boundless creativity, because food is the visceral anchor for all of our memories. Alissa Wilkinson
  2. Jane’s new house was about a quarter of the size of her old one, which meant she had to get creative with the space. Jennifer Close
  3. It took me an hour to pick them out because the quartz means different things. One’s pink, one’s purple, one’s marbled. Creativity, Strength, Lack of Inhibition. Or are they Gratitude, Passion and Mindful Tidiness? Helen Ellis
  4. Copyright fuels creativity, encourages diverse voices, promotes free speech and creates a vibrant culture. While this does not appear in the actual book, it appears on the Putnam Copyright page of Delphine Jones Takes a Chance by Beth Morrey. But I thought it was a pretty nifty thing to think about.
  5. Fundamentally, poetry celebrates our individuality and the creative effort of living. Caroline Kennedy
  6. It’s a particularly French custom; restaurants often provide a complimentary, dainty amuse bouche to show creativity. Janine Marsh
  7. That, in fact, is why companies like Google and Goldman Sachs have introduced programs specifically designed to help workers counteract our culture of distraction in order to regain their focus and creativity, often under the auspices of meditation or mindfulness training. Rob Walker
  8. But I’m proud of the work I’ve done. The creative thinking that has allowed me to get to this moment. Julie Clark
  9. In the government schools, impatient young artists had to curb their creativity while following a strict program of lessons that progressed from copying plaster casts to painting flesh and blood models in life-study classes. Deborah Davis

What I’m going to think about with creativity in mind:

  1. Are we afraid to be creative?
  2. Is creativity specific to the individual?
  3. Does school hamper creativity?
  4. What are simple ways we can be more creative?
  5. Can creativity be forced?
  6. Are some just more creative than others?

Anything Can Happen Friday: The Best Marriage Ever

I recently bought a book at Barnes & Noble and the receipt showed up as BN/Paper Source. I had completely forgotten that BN bought Paper Source last year.

My very two favorite stores in the world got married.

Huzzah

My two most favorite browsing experiences are in stationary stores and book stores- the mere thought that all this paper and ink goodness has become a union is almost too exciting for me to handle. I am awash with glee!

Insert smiley face, hearts and exclamation points…

I don’t normally push recently married couples to have children, but really, I am anxiously awaiting the day when there is a BN/PS superstore… Can you imagine the planner section? The journals? The range of happiness and you go girl books on personal growth? And what about tea and all its accoutrements? Coffee table books about art and the color Pink, and maybe even the singer Pink…The possibilities are endless.

This is the marriage I am most rooting for- this is the marriage I really want to make it for the long haul…

So congratulations to my two favorite stores. Remember, communication, respect and an occasional compromise are key to a successful marriage. May the honeymoon period last forever.

Put It Aside

My nephew recently celebrated his Bar Mitzvah. In the Jewish faith, this is a very important ritual that proclaims that the recipient becomes an adult. And all I can say is that he certainly behaved like an adult, unlike the behavior of two of his grandparents…

My Mother in Law and Father in Law are divorced for about fifteen years. It was an unhappy marriage and an even unhappier split. My in-laws can’t stand each other. And nowhere was it more evident than at the parties surrounding the rite.

On Friday night they were seated at the same table as each other. They sat on opposite ends and did not speak. My MIL did manage to make it to our table and say really nasty things about my FIL… My FIL didn’t say anything bad, but did he have a sour face the whole evening… At some point my MIL couldn’t find her purse and my FIL had it- never did quite figure out what was going on there…

At the big party of Saturday, my MIL managed to tell everyone she spoke to that my FIL cheated her out of all her money- and this includes the hair dresser that helped her before the party (the claim is false- they had to settle and she had been the primary bread winner, so yes, she did have to pay him, but as they both said they were cheated I’d guess it was a fair settlement). But remember, this is a celebration…but never did she mention her grandson, the young man of the hour. Not once.

My FIL on the other hand chose to be morose. He sat as far away from the dance floor as possible, and it wasn’t because of the volume of the music. It was evident that he didn’t want to be part of the action… So tuned out was he, when the DJ announced that the grandfather would slice the challah, three times it was announced, my daughter had to run across the floor to get him… I have to say that the cutting/blessing of the challah is a very important tradition, and it is a great honor to be the one chosen to do this… so how could you not be paying attention?

FIL also didn’t go to the dance floor when they put my nephew up on the chair…another big tradition (for those not familiar- the group encircles the honoree and a group of able bodied people lift the honoree on a chair, raising the chair up and down, while the crowd claps- it’s quite fun even though you swear the person is going to fall off the chair) FIL didn’t dance the hora. FIL didn’t dance with his daughter, his niece, my daughter or even his partner… He sat and stewed. All night.

At the Sunday brunch, my MIL sat down with her ex brother in law, and told him how much she hated his sister… Seriously- she said that the sister was a horrible person who did nothing for the family and she didn’t understand why anyone talked to the sister. Remember, it’s the guys SISTER…and obviously her exes sister…

To recap- my MIL bad mouthed my FIL to literally everyone she talked to. My FIL sat and didn’t talk to anyone and didn’t take part in anything. My MIL said her ex SIL was a bitch. I don’t think I saw either of them smile the whole weekend. Neither of them toasted or made a speech about their Grandson. For people who talk about how much their religion means to them, how much their family means to them…they sure didn’t act that way… This was a big celebration, a huge rite of passage, and they couldn’t get past themselves to enjoy it.

Does hating your ex trump everything else?

There are times when exes who have children and grandchildren must get together. Shouldn’t all parties force themselves to reach some sort of détente? Shouldn’t they get past their bitterness and rage for a few hours and enjoy the good things that came of their union, even if the union wasn’t so great?

Is bitter really what you want to be wearing when your Grandson is celebrating something?

If you had to see your ex at an event, would you try your best to have a good time, and let the resentment pass, just for that time? Or is holding on to the anger the best way to go?

Discuss:

Envy

Raise your hand if you have ever envied someone?

For the record, my hand is totally up in the air.

According to Oxford Languages, the definition of envy is:

A feeling of discontented or resentful longing aroused by someone else’s possessions, or luck and desire to have a quality, possession, or other desirable attribute belonging to someone else

So yes, I have been envious of people carrying Hermes bags, or going on fantastic trips. However, while I might have a moment of wishing I were that person, I snap back into myself pretty quickly and realize that my life is pretty good, and really, I have everything that I want.

Of course, sometimes I see something that someone else has, and I really want it, but instead of being envious, I just figure out what I need to do to have whatever it is that I desire. I set a goal, make a plan, and just do it.

Someone I know won a writing contest- My thoughts were as follows:

  1. How awesome for the person
  2. I would love to win a writing contest
  3. I can’t win something I never enter
  4. I actually have to have a finished piece to enter into a contest
  5. Let me finish something and send it off

I then finished and sent something off. I did not win, but I somehow feel that I did indeed win by just putting the piece out there. I now regularly work on pieces to submit, and one day I will hopefully win a contest.

What is a better use of my energy: envying something good that happened to someone else, or doing something that would make me more fulfilled?

Our talking points for today are:

  1. How do you define envy?
  2. What is something you’ve envied about another?
  3. Is envy a “normal” emotion that most people feel?
  4. How easy is it to be consumed by envy?
  5. What is the difference between envy and jealousy?

Graduation Photos

When we went to pick up my daughter at college it was the beginning of Senior Week. Along with the parties and celebration, there is the taking of graduation photos.

My daughter said that students can hire a photographer by the hour, and they go around campus, (and to monuments in DC if you are willing to pay extra) and take pictures of the graduate in their cap and gown. We saw tons of girls doing this…

Tons of girls.

We did not see one boy getting photographed for graduation.

My daughter said in the days before, she had not seen one guy getting his graduation picture taken.

Not one.

So my simple questions are:

  1. Do guys just not care about a professional picture in their cap and gown?
  2. Do parents of guys not care about a professional picture of their graduate in cap and gown?

I know for sure that I want a beautifully photographed shot of my daughter in her cap and gown. I also want the 8000 photos that I will take. I haven’t decided if I’m spending the extra money for the Lincoln Memorial photo op…but I know I want the others. But am I being silly?

Yes or no to a professional photo of your graduate?