Continual Partial Attention :)

I multi-tasked for the last few hours. And now I believe the research that says Continual Partial Attention is inefficient and makes tasks take longer to complete.

I have a bag full of Christmas CD’s that I decided this morning should be downloaded to my iTunes library. My Macbook Air laptop is thin and very light. We bought it because I dropped the heavier, older laptop I had before one too many times. This one’s sleekness requires a CD thing to be attached with a USB cord for playing or downloading a CD.

So first I had to find the CD thingy. It was in the basement with the laptop belonging to the retired man I live with (we don’t share well). I put a load of laundry in the washer while I was down there. Which I just realized I never put in the dryer. That’s how well I multi-task these days.

After downloading a couple of CD’s, it dawned on me I could do something else on the same computer at the same time.

Weeks ago, I told my 93-year-old aunt that I’d print some of my blog posts for her because a while back her computer died and she hasn’t replaced it. (Hint to my cousin, Mike–she’s hoping for some sort of tablet for Christmas from you all.) She says my blog is the only thing she’s missed. I love her!

I couldn’t remember when her computer died so I printed all the posts from this year. I read and relived all of them as I pulled them up, of course.

It’s been a challenging year, with bouts of depression followed by spells of slowly recovering and coming back out of the darkness. That’s obvious from my posts. And I remembered and relived all the ups and downs.

Then I’d realize a CD was done. I’d eject that one and put in another one and go back to the blog posts. After I made a cup of tea.

This quote taped to the turtle tea cup holder on my desk reminds me my life has purpose and meaning:

When our wounds cease to be a source of shame and become a source of healing, we have become wounded healers…Our own experience with loneliness, depression, and fear can become a gift…Our own bandaged wounds will allow us to listen to others with our whole beings.

Henri J. M. Nouwen

Now, if I sync my computer iTunes and my iPhone iTunes, I can try out my Christmas music on the new Bluetooth speaker in the living room that the retired man I live with bought for himself the other day. Seems easier to just play the CD’s, doesn’t it?

And I still need to dry that load of clothes.

And find a big envelope and then figure out postage to mail the blog posts to my aunt. I  really don’t want to go to the post office in the middle of December. Maybe I can just send them from the UPS store.

And the tasks continue…

I’m ready for a nap.

 

Published in: on December 14, 2015 at 3:23 pm  Comments (4)  
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Where Is the Magic?

In my family, I learned well how to shut down emotionally.  I struggle this time of year.  Childhood memories are vague and memories from when my girls were little are complicated.

I learned at home to drink away feelings.  And that it’s ok to tune out the world by reading.  I don’t drink anymore.  Thank God. I’ve read several good books over the last few weeks.

Yesterday was the 15th anniversary of my mother’s death and my brother died in July. I’ve done no shopping for the grandchildren, which scares me.  The retired man I live with got out the Christmas decorations 2 days ago, but we have no tree yet.

Last May, I wrote in a post titled “I ‘tuck”:

I’m stuck.  Or as Adaline used to say, “I ‘tuck.”  I’ve been ‘tuck for weeks.  Not able to write.  Not able to plan much beyond today.  Wondering what I am supposed to be doing and how to get to the point of doing…anything.

I know that sounds like depression, but this time I felt more lost than depressed.  I asked God for some kind of sign or message.  Nothing.  Besides feeling stuck.

Slowly, the light started to go on inside my brain.  I spend a lot of my time waiting for the next disaster/crisis/time of need.  On hold. Stuck.  ‘Tuck.

Well, I ‘tuck again.  My therapist (yes, I do have sense enough to get some help) asked me recently “What are you afraid of?  What are you resisting?”  After a few moments I said “I don’t know.”  I still don’t know exactly.  I feel a big, dark, presence behind me.  Not evil, but patiently waiting for me to turn around.  And I know that needs to happen.

It has to do with being the last of my family of origin alive.  And it has to do with my body not working as well as I’d like.  It has to do with aging.  It has to do with living with cancer in remission for over 8 years.

I think that big dark presence is called Fear.

Years ago, an elegant older lady who grew up in New Orleans shocked many of us at the Wednesday night women’s AA meeting by stating, “Well you know what sober stands for, don’t you?  Son of a Bitch, Everything’s Real.”  She was right.

My prayer life and my relationship with God get shut down along with everything else.  I love traditional Christmas music.  I have a couple of country Christmas cd’s that I like to sing along with in the car.  They remind me what Christmas is really about–a baby being born.  I haven’t pulled those out this year.

One of my favorite songs is “Mary, Did You Know?” (here’s a link–skip the ad).  The first line takes my breath away every time.

I debated writing about all this for weeks.  Writer’s block goes hand in hand with depression and shutting down for me.  I certainly don’t want to be “Debbie Downer.”  I know I’m not the only one who has mixed feelings about the holiday season and that there’s comfort in knowing that.

I still believe God is all around me.  I choose not to connect to that higher power. When I decide to turn around and look fear in the eye, I believe I will be safe.  Doesn’t mean I want to turn around.  I’d rather it just go away.  I just want to feel less weighed down and to stop saying, “I don’t care.”

I do want to care.  That’s who I am.  It’s lonely where I am right now. I want to change that.  Please pray for me.

I wish all of you a happy holiday.  And if it’s not, tell yourself “Right foot, left foot, right foot, breathe.” (Anne Lamott)

Published in: on December 13, 2013 at 10:41 am  Comments (16)  
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Are You in Control of Anything?

God will keep giving us opportunities to learn we are not in control.  I read that in a book this morning.  You know it’s true, don’t you?

I’m getting better about not-so-significant stuff, like lines and being on hold and the whole health insurance mess.  But the big stuff still gets me in the pit of my stomach.  You know that cold, dark, heavy spot in your gut when you know one of your kids is in trouble or really struggling?  (It is one of the few things that can kill my desire to eat.)  That’s when you know you’re not in control and are powerless.  What’s left at that point but anger and prayer and tears?

The retired man I live with struggles with this more than I do, I think.  Yesterday morning plugs in the wall of our house that faces the street stopped working.  Adaline was coming for the day and the tree lights wouldn’t go on.  To him, a major issue.  And, I have to say, a bit unnerving in a 55-year-old house.  No circuits were off so it was kind of weird.

The retired man I live with called an electrician.  They can send someone Monday.  (Yesterday was Thursday.)  So he called my brother who lives 3 hours away but knows a lot about electrician stuff.  For hours they tried to troubleshoot the wiring in that wall.  I told the retired man I live with that I would kill him if I had to call an ambulance for him while Adaline was at our house. He kept at it.

It’s not fixed.  We have no Christmas lights.  He is unhappy.  And not a whole lot of fun to be around.

God keeps giving us chances to learn we are not in control.

Published in: on December 16, 2011 at 8:19 pm  Comments (14)  
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Life Percolated

I can’t drink real coffee anymore.  I guess.

I’ve percolated a lot of life through my insides.

So much stuffed down there, so much acid.

 

I see the old-timey coffee pots on the gas stoves

in their little kitchens in the Project:

Irene

Betty

and in the bigger kitchens in houses

in Munhall and West Mifflin and Duquesne:

Mary

Margie

Julie

Millie.

So much love, so many women.

 

I just wanted a beer.

There were too many of them

and I didn’t know how to be in their world,

in their houses, in their lives.

Lots of food and always coffee.

 

But mom and dad’s–

cold

decaf

“Turn off the light”

not enough food.

Here I fit in, but I didn’t want to.

 

I wanted to know

how to live

like a grownup,

how to mother,

how to wife,

how to make real coffee in a percolator instead of decaf

in a Mr. Coffee that’s reheated later in the microwave because

we sure can’t pour that cold shit down the drain.

 

35–

I started to learn

from other women who had to learn once upon a time, too:

how to make real coffee in a Mr. Coffee

and that sugar can make feelings bearable

after I learned I had feelings

like anger and joy and fear and love.

But those women thought I was okay.

And they helped me see I could be funny and silly.

 

57–

I don’t drink real coffee anymore.

A while back it made my stomach really hurt

and my doctor described a bleeding ulcer’s risks

and I said OK.  Damn it.  No more coffee.

So then I tried decaf.

It didn’t taste good, any kind.

 

So I tried green tea.

It’s good for me.

Weak-looking,

but strong enough to be good enough.

 

Like me.

 

 

The True Story Of Rudolph

(I really hope this is a true story.  Thank you, Sam.)

A man named Bob May, depressed and brokenhearted, stared out his drafty apartment window into the chilling December night.

His 4-year-old daughter Barbara sat on his lap quietly sobbing. Bob’s wife, Evelyn, was dying of cancer.  Little Barbara couldn’t understand why her mommy could never come home. Barbara looked up into her dad’s eyes and asked, “Why isn’t Mommy just like everybody else’s Mommy?” Bob’s jaw tightened and his eyes welled with tears. Her question brought waves of grief, but also of anger. It had been the story of Bob’s life. Life always had to be different for Bob.


Small when he was a kid, Bob was often bullied by other boys. He was too little at the time to compete in sports. He was often called names he’d rather not remember. From childhood, Bob was different and never seemed to fit in. Bob did complete college, married his loving wife and was grateful to get his job as a copywriter at Montgomery Ward during the Great Depression. Then he was blessed with his little girl. But it was all short-lived. Evelyn’s bout with cancer stripped them of all their savings and now Bob and his daughter were forced to live in a two-room apartment in the Chicago slums. Evelyn died just days before Christmas in 1938.


Bob struggled to give hope to his child, for whom he couldn’t even afford to buy a Christmas gift. But if he couldn’t buy a gift, he was determined to make one – a storybook! Bob had created an animal character in his own mind and told the animal’s story to little Barbara to give her comfort and hope. Again and again Bob told the story, embellishing it more with each telling. Who was the character? What was the story all about? The story Bob May created was his own autobiography in fable form. The character he created was a misfit outcast like he was. The name of the character? A little reindeer named Rudolph, with a big shiny nose. Bob finished the book just in time to give it to his little girl on Christmas Day. But the story doesn’t end there.


The general manager of Montgomery Ward caught wind of the little storybook and offered Bob May a nominal fee to purchase the rights to print the book. Wards went on to print  Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer and distribute it to children visiting Santa Claus in their stores. By 1946 Wards had printed and distributed more than six million copies of Rudolph. That same year, a major publisher wanted to purchase the rights from Wards to print an updated version of the book.


In an unprecedented gesture of kindness, the CEO of Wards returned all rights back to Bob May. The book became a best seller. Many toy and marketing deals followed and Bob May, now remarried with a growing family, became wealthy from the story he created to comfort his grieving daughter. But the story doesn’t end there either.


Bob’s brother-in-law, Johnny Marks, made a song adaptation to Rudolph. Though the song was turned down by such popular vocalists as Bing Crosby and Dinah Shore , it was recorded by the singing cowboy, Gene Autry.  “Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer” was released in 1949 and became a phenomenal success, selling more records than any other Christmas song, with the exception of “White Christmas.”


The gift of love that Bob May created for his daughter so long ago kept on returning back to bless him again and again. And Bob May learned the lesson, just like his dear friend Rudolph, that being different isn’t so bad. In fact, being different can be a blessing.


Whimsy and Wonder

Where are whimsy and wonder this time of year?

I used to have a very hard time seeing anything but angst and grumpiness and things that made me sad.  Over the years it’s gotten better.

I like to go the mall in December.  Not to shop and not on the weekend! I go to look at the decorations and watch the children visit Santa.  We saw a rough-looking Santa at Crabtree Mall in Raleigh the other day–too many days outside without sunscreen or too many Jack Daniels, I think.  The harried parents get my sympathy.  The excited children feed my soul.

(One of my daughters was afraid of Santa.  The other asked me before she got to kindergarten if Santa was real.  I promised myself when she was born that I’d never lie to her.  I didn’t.  Sigh.)

I like Christmas music.  The classics, of course, but I have 2 country cd’s that make me smile every time I listen to them.  I even like “Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer“.  It’s good to laugh and be silly.

Our church has a candlelight service at 11 pm on Christmas Eve.  It’s quiet and peaceful and reverent.  My brother and our grown children won’t stay up late enough to go, but Mike does.  Then we drive through the neighborhood that has these amazing light balls hanging from trees.  (Here’s are some pictures.) It’s magical.

This year we’ll have Adaline. She will be 10 months old on Christmas Day.  I think she’ll like the blinky tree lights.

Does your holiday include any whimsy and wonder?

Have you looked?