July 28, 2015

Time On My Hands

Filed under: MiscellAnnia — Tags: , , , — Ann @ 6:58 am

I’ve been a heavy user of Facebook since its inception. There are many reasons for this, among them: I love to write. I love to keep in touch with friends. In decades past, when letter-writing and phone calls were our only options for staying connected over long distances, I was a passionate penner of missives. I kept up correspondences with Camp Seabow mates, family, friends who moved away and, after I met so many new people through this blog’s namesake, Sacred Wilderness, I had letter-writing relationships with countless people from all over the world, including one guy who was in prison for environmental terrorism. Social media’s raw beginnings — Bulletin Board Systems and Usenet — were like catnip to me. Additionally, I was a member of a number of Yahoogroups communities, so making the jump to Facebook was easy — it was the same thing, but with pictures and attachments. The other reason it was such a draw for me is that when my partner’s illnesses and medications kept him sleeping 16 hours a day, checking in with virtual friends was a much-needed remedy for loneliness.

Recently, however, I’ve started to experience diminishing returns. I’ve realized that too many hours have slipped into dull oblivion as I’ve scrolled through Friends’ Status Updates, read shared articles or viewed shared videos, or Scrabbled and Crushed until my legs ached from sitting. Just as I was deciding that I needed to spend less time online, yesterday morning a thought shook my center: I literally couldn’t remember how I used to spend my free hours before Facebook. So, deciding to pretend that Facebooking wasn’t an option, I paid close attention to the choices I made instead. This is what I did:

1) Cleaned the weeds and leaves out of the front planter boxes, then swept up the mess so that the front of the apartment looks neat and tidy;
2) Tended to all of my indoor plants — repotting, adding soil, loosening soil, trimming off old brown parts, dusting leaves;
3) Read several chapters in my neuroscience book, sharing all of the most exciting information with Neal;
4) Sat outside in a patio chair…..just, sat;
5) Organized all of my piano sheet music and books, and played the piano for over two hours.

All of those tasks left me feeling rosy, accomplished, and filled up. Playing on Facebook rarely provides such deep satisfaction. Message received.

As I started to write, “This is my second week of an at-home vacation so I have more time on my hands than usual,” I became fascinated by the concept of having time “on our hands.” I’ve never noticed before what a beautiful little visual that conjures, the idea that we hold precious time in our cupped hands as gingerly as if we’d hold a fragile flower. We hold possibility, we hold energy unleashed, we hold our very lives and futures in the time that we have yet to spend and the choices that we make about how to use that time.

I can’t wait to find out what I decide to do today with all that glorious potential.

July 17, 2015

A Conspiracy of Delight

Filed under: Feel-Good Story of the Day,MiscellAnnia — Tags: , , , — Ann @ 6:46 am


Several months ago Neal became enamored of a certain pastry sold by Sonoma Market — a “cakey” doughnut with lavender-colored icing containing bits of blueberry. We started calling it “the Purple Doughnut.” The thing is, whoever delivers the Market’s goodies every morning provides just one Purple Doughnut, and it must be very popular because, though we’re at the store several times a week and Neal checks the pastry display-case regularly, it’s seldom there. Since I’m up and about earlier than he is, running errands or heading out to work, I, too, started checking the pastry shelves and whenever I scored I’d sometimes tell the clerks, who know us, that I’d been happy to find the rare and elusive Purple Doughnut to take home to Neal.

This past Monday I stopped at Sonoma Market on the way to work. As I peered at the pastry shelves trying to spot the tell-tale lavender icing, a deli clerk rushed over to help me. I explained I was looking for the special doughnut to surprise someone. Though his English was fragile, “treats” and “surprises” are universal communications facilitators and he smiled at me triumphantly, pointing towards the hot bar across the aisle. Puzzled, I walked over and, sure enough, set out among the other breakfast offerings was a sampling of their baked goods — including the Purple Doughnut. The clerk seemed immensely pleased with my gasp of delight.

Four days later I stopped in to buy coffee on my way to work and, though it was later in the morning and the chances were slim, I checked for the doughnut. Immediately, the same deli clerk who’d helped me on Monday approached. “The doughnut?” he asked with a big smile. I nodded and started to walk over to the hot bar but he stopped me — “No, no, no. Come, look.” He pointed at the pastry display-case and explained, “Here. So no one could take it. Look.” And he showed me that he had tucked the doughnut way in the back, where it was hard to see. He’d been saving it for me. My child-like glee must have been contagious because he was grinning from ear to ear as I lovingly placed the treat in its white bakery bag.

As I checked out and was fishing for my debit card I told the clerk what I had in the sack so she could ring up the right price. “That’s a doughnut in the bag, Diane. A one-holed doughnut.” She broke into a huge smile. “Oh, is this the Purple Doughnut as a surprise for Neal?” “YES!” I exclaimed, astonished, and we both laughed. She said, “He’s going to be so happy.”

All the way to work I thought about these people, certainly with busy lives and busy jobs and probably families, and their own worries and concerns and priorities and maybe even aches and pains (we all have them), yet the deli clerk put time and thought and energy and heart into helping me get a silly doughnut to surprise someone, Diane bothered to remember that I liked to bring Neal his favorite doughnut, and both were rejoicing with me that I was able to do so.

I really, really, really love people. Maybe even as much as Neal loves his Purple Doughnut.

July 2, 2015

In Their Honor

Filed under: MiscellAnnia — Tags: , , , , , — Ann @ 2:57 pm


Something I’ve been reflecting on since the Charleston shootings: there are some who hold on to petty gripes, grudges and grievances against their own friends or family members for years, yet the people of this Church came together and decided to forgive a murderer. As San Francisco Chronicle columnist Jon Carroll wrote in a recent column: “Because their faith told them that was what you did. You rose above. You shone your light so all could follow. And love won again.” May their shining example inspire all of us to let go of old slights, snubs and injuries so that love continues to triumph in all our hearts.

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