rain, rain, don’t go away

I’ve just enjoyed a rainy morning, where the inclement weather gave me the perfect excuse to stay indoors and do what I love. It’s becoming sunny now, though, and already I’m feeling the pressure to go outside and do something.

In my youth, being sent outside to play for my own health was often the interruption to some joyful endeavour. I may have been reading, doodling, painting, playing scientist with a microscope or even, heavens!, watching television. But no matter which activity it was, being sent outside broke my concentration and my happiness.

Once outside, I would look for some chore that needed doing; shovelling the snow from the walk in the winter for example. But having quickly exhausted those choices, I would look for cosy places where I could be alone. A little-used corner of the backyard, hidden from the house by a barn, offered long moments of solitary respite from others until eventually, I was either caught or called back to the group that was my family, and its never-ending needs.

Now, when I see sunny weather outside, I feel somehow compelled to “go outside and play” which nowadays, usually means mowing the lawn or gardening, which I don’t particularly enjoy. I feel distinctly relieved when the weather looks unpleasant and I don’t have to make myself go outside.

I do love it if I can sit and read outside, listening to the birds and the soft rustle of leaves stirred by a breeze. But Nick is often unpleasantly amazed at how quickly I will find outside chores that need attention.

So I am not the only one who looks out the window on a rainy morning, and breathes a deep sigh of relief.

#rain #lazy day #escape #chores

summer on the water

I love being beside moving water, especially in the summertime. The purposeful motion of a swiftly moving current rippling the surface of a wide river, the spectacular crashes of ocean waves against a cliff face, even the meandering trickle of a creek all both mesmerize and calm me.

I don’t live by the water so I don’t know of perpetual damp or terrifying storms. Each time I visit someone who does, or when I see houseboats, docks, cottages and waterfront homes, I imagine myself there on the shore observing and writing, or maybe there, in the window, listening to the waves and writing.

When I used to swim (before I got ear infections from open lakes, or suffered allergies from chlorinated public pools), I could float and dive and play in water for very long periods of time. And I found, when I finally emerged, that I felt quieted and a little detached from my formerly overwhelming preoccupations. Even people seemed a little further away, as my body and mind relived the delicious weightlessness and delightful grace of movement underwater.

Having been brought up in land-based surroundings, though, I think I would find the restless, constant motion of the water disturbing. Ultimately, when I want true relaxation, I’m drawn to the quiet magnificence of a deep green forest, where movement is sporadic and the silence nourishing. A leaf moving in a gentle breeze, a bird suddenly calling and then silent, the sun warm and constant – that’s where I truly relax and think my thoughts.

Even so, I still find myself wondering how I can build more enjoyable water experiences into my life.

I wonder if having more showers would do it!

#shoreline #lake #river #forest #natural environment #contemplation

working smarter

Every 15 minutes Nick’s timer goes off and we stand up for a moment and sit down again. Apparently, the more times throughout the day people stand up and feel their bodies interacting with gravity, the longer and healthier they live. When we do this, it’s amazing how quickly 15 minutes go by. Most of the time, I think the clock is lying. Surely it can’t have been 15 minutes already! And a few times it’s more than irritating. But we’ve quickly gotten used to it, continuing conversations and even my beading as we stand and sit regularly, not commenting on our actions but actually feeling better for that little stretch.

I am reminded of the American teacher who saw for himself how a 15 minute break for every 45 minutes of work kept his students alert and focused. The last time I did some serious work-oriented training, we learners were given breaks every hour and a half, and even MIT suggests a 10 minute break for every 50 minutes of study.

So with all this evidence of good results from regularly releasing the body from the tyranny of the mind, why do I still find it challenging? My idea of time well spent is usually a couple of hours spent doing something uninterrupted. I have to remind myself, often with alarms, to get up from the computer and stretch, or get up from my beading to work out the kinks or get up from my cozy chair where I’d been reading to look out the window. There still operates in my psyche a kind of stoic protestant work ethic that frowns on physical pleasure. Despite my intellectual confidence that breaks foster better results, emotionally I still feel like I’m cheating, though god knows who or what, if I interrupt my task. I’m fighting to live the phrase “work smarter not harder” in a whole lot of tiny ways throughout the day.

Oh, there’s the timer. Tea break!

working smarter, taking breaks, work, pleasure, work ethic

to watch or not

I’ve been feeling excited about exploring archaeology and history online with documentaries Nick and I have found on YouTube but at the same time I’m feeling uneasy about watching so much visual material lately. I stopped watching television a bunch of years ago, around when I left working for CBC Television. I’d been so angry and frustrated with feeling how much manipulation goes on when putting visuals together with music and sound. I hated when I could see the obvious clues…I’m supposed to cry here, feel cheated there, be frozen with terror somewhere else, and even though I could see I was meant to feel those things, I felt them anyway, in spite of myself. I didn’t like crying at the improbable happy end of an intense story. I didn’t like feeling fooled.

And now, after more than 10 years, I find myself interested in these fact-based documentaries and wondering again about how much I’m not being told, and how much I’m being led to believe. There’s no question but that I can understand and enjoy an awful lot of information presented this way. It’s faster than reading a book and often more vivid. And what’s wrong with enjoying oneself while learning? Knowing how much can be left on the cutting room floor, though, I often go searching on the internet afterwards for more information, but I usually find it’s not as instantly exciting. But maybe that’s because the subject is not one of my true, deep interests. I lack the necessary surrounding information to provide the story. I’m not sure. We’ve been enjoying watching the various series that Francesca Stavrakopoulou and Neil Oliver have been working on, and I guess I’ll keep on watching until I figure out why not.

#documentary #television #entertainment #manipulation