Learn your rules boys and girls.

If you don't, you'll be eaten in your sleep.


A Start

Sartorial satisfaction in the form of a new tunic:

Creative inspiration from Heather Ross's Far Far Away fabric line. Unicorns. Obviously.

Something to look forward to: a trip to the shore with my mom, followed by a journey here for a sewing workshop.

Enjoying the moment: Dinner with a friend. A fire in the stove. To bed at 8:30.The dogs sleeping on my feet.

Finding joy in the unexpected: Arnie in training to be a Therapy Dog. And I'm proud to say that his training is going very, very well. It's been fascinating for me to see how quickly he learns, how he wants to learn--just soaks up information and cues. It seems to make him super happy, too--he wags his tail the whole time we're training. He's going to be a wonderful therapy animal.

A new approach: I called a few schools today and asked about graphic design courses. There are no fashion design or merchandising courses in Utah, so I'll gladly settle for some graphic design coursework to learn how to use the software and some of the basic elements of color, layout, etc. I'm excited to see where it leads.

Dreamtime: I visited the Aga website today and requested a catalog. I've wanted an Aga (in midnight or robin's egg) for years and years. Someday I'll have the kitchen for one. In the meantime, I'll have inspiration.


I Interrupt the Whiny Introspection...

To bring you this reminder, via Natalie Dee, to listen to your messages.


A Sense of Direction, Volume I

I'm terrible at setting goals. I over or under estimate my capabilities, or give up along the way.

It's not that I don't like accomplishing things. Even the smallest action (paying AT&T the minute I get my phone bill or getting all the laundry washed, dried, folded and put away) makes me happy. We Cancerians love to feel needed and important, and achieving goals ticks both boxes.

So I recognize how important it is to accomplish goals, but I also know how awful it feels to give up on them. It’s worse than actually failing.

I recently read The Dip by Seth Godin, which told me nothing especially revolutionary, but did resonate a bit. (That’s what Godin does best, I think. He aggregates what is already swirling around in our heads and presents it in a concise, less noisy way.)

The whole idea is that we hit roadblocks (or “dips”) in everything we do. Whether learning to knit, completing a project at work, speaking a new language, or forging a new relationship—-there comes a lull. What Godin says (which is perfectly obvious), is that we need to realize when we’ve hit a dip, and then decide whether it’s worth pressing on and getting through the hard part, or if it's a waste of time, and then turn our attention elsewhere.

The key to getting through, he continues, is not being content with the Dip, but working hard to go forward. Try new tactics, keep an open mind, ask for help…just don’t get comfortable spinning your wheels, because that leads nowhere.

I’ve been dwelling in the dip for a long, long time. I like my job, but it’s just a job, not something I’m passionate about. I’m good at lots of sports and activities, but I don’t excel at any. I feel ok, but I don’t feel like I’m really psyched about anything.

This is tough, because some of the most important people in my life are professional or near-professional athletes, driven by the exact monomaniacal focus I seem to lack. Or they’ve identified the thing they want to do most in the world and have made a career out of it. They are passionate and driven and goal-oriented. While they sail ahead, I search for my flip flop in the gloppy, murky water near shore.

With leeches.

And water moccasins.

Obviously, this is another of my shortsighted, spoiled-brat complaints. I’m creating a problem where there really isn’t one (I do it all the time…just ask Brad).

Except, this is a little different. Yes, everything is ok, but I know it could be better, and I know that something within me is getting in the way of “better.”

I tend to lose momentum. I set a goal-—something totally doable-—but distraction or lack of motivation gets in the way of training or practicing or whatever I have to do to stay on track.

So what causes that lack of motivation? Maybe it coincides with the training getting hard (right around the day of the 18-miler in marathon training, for example), or maybe it has more to do with a mountain of dirty laundry, two dogs who need exercise and attention, a house that needs to be cleaned, and a marriage that needs to be nurtured.

Or maybe those are just excuses.

I’ve practiced Bikram Yoga on and off for 13 years. I’ve had dozens of instructors, but McKell was my favorite.

She offered an authentic calm that quieted the room and kept me focused on my own practice, not distracted by the leaner, stronger bodies around me. That calm belied a driven, goal-oriented woman, though, one who just opened her own Bikram studio in Kauai.

That news struck me because I don't associate "calm" with "driven." When I think of people achieving goals, I think of the chronic Facebook updaters, the people who tell you how many miles they ran that day, how hard they climbed, how accomplished they are. I don't think about the quiet strength I felt from McKell, which obviously works for her--goal achieved, studio opened.

I've said before that I don't want to talk about my goals because I don't want to have to report that I've failed or given up. It feels easier just to think about them on my own and either achieve them or not, without having to lose face if the outcome is "not."

But that's isolating, and when I think about the five years I've lived here, I can identify a pattern of isolation that's done absolutely nothing for me. I left the industry I love, which, for a while, was a good choice. I needed to learn new skills, needed to look at work from a different angle. I stopped climbing because I was tired of being average. I'd been in the Dip for a decade, and I didn't know how to push through. Training harder just injured me, and I tell you, I was tired of spending all my time doing something that made me feel bad, and feel bad about myself.

Half a decade later, I realize this: I've simply been avoiding putting in the hard work. Not just with climbing. With everything. I feel far away from Brad, from my friends, from the sports that fulfill me and the activities that make me feel good.

Rather than, "I want to improve my guitar skills," or, "I want to speak better Spanish," perhaps I should be saying, "I want to rejoin the world."

Blogging, while therapeutic at times, creates an environment of introspection that isn't always good for me. After writing an entry about what I need to improve, how I need to better myself, it's hard for me to face real people, because I feel worthless, and am sure they agree.

And much of what I've written about here, on this blog, is just filler. The "likes" and "ums" of the conversation of my life, the stuff I say when I don't want to get to the point.

The point is this: I've lost my sense of direction. While people around me are focusing on what matters to them and achieving their personal goals, I haven't had a real goal since 1998, when I decided to go to Nepal for a while.

So that's it. In 2010, I resolve to find my sense of direction.

Maybe I'm setting myself up for failure by making such a vague, non-quantifiable resolution, but without first finding out where I want to go, how can I possibly do anything else? Nothing matters much when I don't know how, or even if, it relates to the big picture. Who cares if I climb well, if climbing doesn't fit into the grand plan?

And anyway, I think it is quantifiable, if not exactly describable. I'll know when I figure it out. I'll know because I'll resemble the girl who had her sights set on Nepal, and figured out exactly what she needed to do to get there--arranging grants and housing and airfare and a thesis topic.

To find my way, I have to identify the things that I really care about--the things I can use to help me push through the Dip.

That'll be a happier post, I promise. Stay tuned for Volume II.


Sesame Street Will Save the World

If I ever have children of the non-canine variety, I want to expose them to music and theatre at an early age. I was lucky enough to grow up with lots of opportunities to be creative and expressive: singing, playing the piano, acting in the local children's playhouse (well, not so much "acting," as dressing up in animal costumes and talking in funny voices).

I was encouraged to step, however tentatively and sometimes wearing a badger or flying monkey costume, into new arenas. It was a wonderful way to grow up.

That's why I can't say enough good about this interaction between Elmo and Andrea Bocelli. The original song, Con Te Partiro, is wildly popular, part of the neo-opera style that horrifies traditionalists but serves as an ideal gateway from inane lyrics and beats to proper liberetto and accompaniment. It's the marijuana of music.

But really, what a cool thing to introduce to kids. Just as Warner Brothers introduced generations of children to classics like Wagner's "Ride of the Valkeries" (Kill Da Wabbit) and "The Flying Dutchman" (really, we owe so much to Wagner), so is Sesame Street educating kids on subjects beyond the surface, subjects that will make then sensitive, perceptive, critical-thinking adults.

And maybe that's what we need: a generation of artists to silence the philistines that have garnered so much power, so much of the national voice. Imagine if, instead of footage of rednecks turning left, networks aired opera on Sunday afternoons. Or art-history programs.

I know. So absurd I sound naive and whiny just bringing it up. Plus, that's why we have PBS--so fruits like me don't complain about Nascar (news flash: I will always complain about Nascar).

Still, though. By hacking music and art programs, schools in Utah and everywhere else are sending the message that the skills one develops through those pursuits--perception, sensitivity, subtlety, awareness of space, knowing when to be bold and when to be soft--aren't important, aren't worth as much as sports and math and dissecting pickled pig fetuses. (Truly a lesson from which I learned absolutely nothing, except that my lab partner, who wrapped said pig's intestine around his neck, was seriously fucked up.)

But ENOUGH out of me. Let's let Elmo and Andrea take over, all charm, funny lyrics and kind intentions. "Lay down, here is your bear, you have had such a wonderful day, playing and counting to 20..." And oh my god, that dancing, slow-motion bear? Please!


I’d Rather Be Blogging or, Why Everyone Needs a Golden Retriever

Sorry for the lack of new posts.

Work is kicking my ass.

I’m not helping matters, regularly flinging my arms about and stomping around. I should probably lay off the Diva Juice.

Anyway, I have big plans for 2010, and can’t wait to share them with you.

I’ll do that, I promise.


In the meantime, have you heard about the Golden Retriever who protected her owner from a cougar?

Like I needed another reason to love Goldens.

Here's a sneak peak of what's to come (Arnie skiing with us in the Sierra):