Monday, October 26, 2009

I spoke too soon...

Have you ever started off a week where things just don’t sit right or where someone innocently says something to you that sets you off in a downward spiraling direction? Maybe I’m being a little dramatic, but just as I wrapped up talking about the merits of “positive thinking,” I hit a wall. Starting from a potential client deciding not to move forward with a project, to chipping my front tooth while trying to pull a staple out of paper, I hit a wall.

Yeah, I know. It’s a bummer and I’m a curmudgeon.

Luckily I eventually came out of this self-created dark fog simply by realizing this was actually one of those *manageable* bumps in the road.

It turns out I wasn’t the only one having an off week. A friend of mine was going through what we’ll call “a transition” with her boyfriend. She called to talk and like two talented surgeons we took the situation apart layer by layer. Then, somewhere in the conversation someone said: “well, he’s in his mid-40s and he’s never been married”. Uh-oh. You probably know where I’m going with this. (Disclosure: my friend and I are in our 40s and have never married … yet).

The truth is that there are people out there who truly believe if you haven’t been married by a certain age you probably have “issues” too big to overcome. But doesn’t everyone have issues? I mean, if you’re married to the same person for 20 years and you see them day in and day out, aren’t you still going to have some issues at some point, whether they are with your companion… or perhaps even because of them?

Not to get too heavy here, but I pondered the “issues card” as I strolled around a local farmer’s market filled mostly with married couples, dating couples, and kids. And I continued to ponder it as I walked around my neighborhood taking in the beautiful fall colors with my friend’s 20-year-old nephew Hans who was visiting from Oregon State University. (More disclosure: Hans doesn’t have issues).

So here I am, 42 years old and never married. Does that mean I’m wracked with issues? Maybe. But my issues are cute and endearing -- at least to me. And I can’t help but secretly hold on to the possibility that there’s a special guy out there for me with a matching chipped tooth. We’ll meet, fall in love, marry…. and live happily ever after issues.

Monday, October 19, 2009

The Poop on Positive Thinking

Earlier this week I caught an online episode of The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. His guest was author and journalist Barbara Ehrenreich who wrote the book Bright-Sided: How the Relentless Promotion of Positive Thinking Has Undermined America. She mentioned she wrote the book after battling breast cancer and how she came out of the experience nastier, tired of people telling her to “stay positive”. Though I can see how that can wear on you during tough personal times, I would think living to tell your story is pretty positive. But, hey. That’s just me. She also referred to the bestseller The Secret ‘s notion you can control the world with your own thoughts and scoffed that if things don’t go your way, then you probably sent the wrong message to the universe. It was a tough interview to watch. This woman really brought me down! 

I’ve read The Secret and I’ll admit I’ve even tried out its message about the law of attraction; the idea that you can draw things to you. I tried to draw on a pair of size 4 pants. Didn’t work. I tried to draw producers from The Amazing Race to watch the entry tape I did with a friend. We’re still here.

Then, I finally decided to draw on the belief that walking on faith and staying positive to the idea that leaving a good job and moving to a new town with an unknown future could actually work.  And so far, it has. So there may be something to it after all. 

Still, as I rode my bike along the historic Columbia River highway I couldn’t help but wonder why Ehrenreich’s comments kept getting on my nerves. All week I felt agitated but didn’t know why. Could Ehrenreich be behind this agitation? I doubted it. Could it be the crazy unpredictable Portland weather I was finally experiencing? It couldn’t be. Then it occurred to me. All the positive thinking I’ve been doing might actually be taking shape: like settling into a home I like, getting back to girls’ night, and bringing in more work. Perhaps therein lies the source of my agitation: the fact positive thinking really is working with only minor bumps in the road. Ironic, isn’t it? That positive thinking actually working is causing negative agitation? I think it’s more that I’m not used to this, or at least recognizing this when it happens. Maybe positive thinking works when you prepare for what you want to draw in, yet stay in the moment. And if you do that, I really can’t see how you could be sending the wrong message to the Universe. 

Monday, October 12, 2009

Embracing my inner Hippie

Hippie. The word itself has many meanings depending on who’s saying it. This week, that word could probably have applied to me. I’m not sure if this is who I’ve always been, or who I might secretly want to be, or just one aspect of who I’m becoming. To be honest, I just gave it more thought writing those last four sentences than any time before. 

But I did dabble in the “who am I and what am I doing here” philosophy when I went to a one-woman show at a local Portland New Age bookstore after a friend suggested I check out Vanda Mikoloski She’s a Metaphysical Comic who very well may be on the cusp of full force mainstream. Vanda jokes about a lot of things including her strict Roman Catholic upbringing and how, at the age of 11, she discovered she was one with everything as she tried LSD. The way she tells that story had me doubled over with laughter. But while she jokes about it, she also admits you don’t get that “sense of wholeness and then forget about it”. Perhaps that has helped fuel her quest for enlightenment. Mostly, the take away from her show is not to take life so seriously.  

And I don’t. Or at least I try not to. But one thing I do try to take seriously is getting to know new and interesting people, like my friend Martin who I met randomly last spring as I was visiting Portland. Martin and his wife Sarah have lived here for more than a dozen years. They invited me on a boat ride along the Willamette River which divides Portland’s east and west side. As Martin and Sarah both said, it’s a great way to see the city. They were right.  

It was also a great way to decompress from a week where I lived hippie style, trying my hand at homemade granola, dehydrating fruit, making Greek style yogurt, returning to Bikram yoga, knitting scarves and just living an overall earthy life. I think I even got little glimpses of enlightenment…so I may have gotten in touch with my inner Hippie after all. Whatever that may mean. 

Monday, October 5, 2009

Knittn' Kitten ... Meow.

I’ve always wanted to knit. Now I can officially cross that stitch off my list.

I think people gravitate to knitting for many reasons: as a creative outlet, as a spiritual outlet, even as a source of meditation. No joke. Google it. My friend Jenn taught me the art of knitting during “girls craft night” this week. While I knitted, Jenn made jewelry and our friend Lara sewed. Joining us that evening were wine bottles number one, two, and three. I’m not sure what happened to number four. But as will be the case when women gather and drink, the topic of relationships, sex, and food popped up. In fact, the more the wine flowed, the more I was educated on the importance of going with the flow and staying open to all that comes your way in life. One minute I’m knitting and the next I’m handed a series of books: Breakfast in Bridgetown, Best Cat Houses in Nevada, and The Ethical Sluuuu… (sorry, the prude in me just won’t let me write it out).  

Suffice it to say, the only book I’ve felt a desire to pick up so far is Breakfast in Bridgetown, which is a guide to Portland meals. I’ve already hit up one of the featured food joints with a friend. Fat City CafĂ©, located in Multnomah Village, is about 10 miles south of downtown Portland. It’s a small, simple place decorated with license plates from across the country and has a basic but delicious fare of meat, potatoes, eggs and yummy homemade cinnamon rolls. For my first venture to turn out so well, I already know I’ll be referencing this book again.

After breakfast I ventured to nearby Ryser Farms to kick off the autumn season. Want good pumpkin? Go to your local farm. At Ryser’s I learned there’s an art to picking pumpkins. Some say it’s all about the color. Others say it’s all about the stem. And as I wandered around the pumpkin patch, just doing my thing and going with the flow, I realized the same three topics coming out again. I was surrounded by hundreds of pumpkins (food, of course): some big, some small, and many with distinctive stems. So many choices….So many decisions (much like relationships can be). And through the blaze of orange I couldn’t help but wonder if there is such a thing as the “Ethical Pumpkin” and how to tie that in that last subject too. But, again, the prude in me has decided… nah…I don’t need to write it out.