My Week

  • My kitchen sink backed up
  • My bathroom sink overflowed and flooded the bathroom and some of the carpet just outside of it
  • My car was the victim of a hit and run in the drugstore parking lot (as I was walking out, having just purchased over the counter medicines and toiletries, as all of ours were soaked with nasty water in the bathroom flood)
  • I sat on broken glass

SIGH. I am so happy to have a life where my problems can be solved with a call to our apartment manager (who fixed things up RIGHT AWAY, cannot sing her praises enough), a jumbo container of clorox wipes, several loads of laundry with hot water, a band-aid and, for good measure, a hug, a kiss and a nap.

The car’s new dings still need to be addressed, but it’s functional so for now, I’m just focusing on making it through the Great Bathroom Flood of 2015 and this work week. Tomorrow is my husband’s birthday and I want to focus on celebrating him!!

Hope your week is going smoothly and no black gunk has spewed out of your bathroom sink…while you were in the middle of peeing.

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What I’ve Been Reading

I finally finished reading “Emotional Intelligence” by Daniel Goleman. I read the 10th anniversary edition, which has a (somewhat lengthy) introduction that I found very helpful in providing context and perspective for the book. Many people have said many things about this book, so rather than give you a summary or analysis of it, I’m going to share why I like the book and a few of my favorite quotes. (I highlighted the living daylights out of this book, so it really is just a few of my favorite quotes.)

Why I liked it: This book helped me understand how my brain and body physiologically process and create feelings. Knowing how that works has given me much less guilt and shame over feelings I wish I didn’t have. It has also revealed a “map” of my brain, so if I want to include rational thought and not just be overwhelmed by emotions, I have a guide to follow the pathways in my brain and have empowered myself to take steps to change those pathways and emotional reactions.

Select Quotes:

“Our emotions have a mind of their own, one which can hold views quite independently of our rational mind.”

“The urgent message the amygdala sends is sometimes, if not often, out-of-date – especially in the fluid social world we humans inhabit. As the repository for emotional memory, the amygdala scans experience, comparing what is happening now with what happened in the past. Its method of comparison is associative: when one key element of a present situation is similar to the past, it can call it a “match” – which is why this circuit is sloppy: it acts before there is a full confirmation. It frantically commands that we react to the present in ways that were imprinted long ago, with thoughts, emotions, reactions learned in response to events perhaps only dimly similar, but close enough to alarm the amygdala.”

“There are hundreds and hundreds of ways to succeed, and many, many different abilities that will help you get there.”

“Socrates’s injunction ‘Know thyself’ speaks to this keystone of emotional intelligence: awareness of one’s own feelings as they occur.”

“People who are optimistic see a failure as due to something that can be changed so that they can succeed next time around, while pessimists take the blame for failure, ascribing it to some lasting characteristic they are helpless to change.”

“It is not that we want to do away with emotion and put reason in its place, as Erasmus had it, but instead find the intelligent balance between the two. The old paradigm held an ideal of reason freed from the pull of emotion. The new paradigm urges us to harmonize head and heart. To do that well in our lives means we must first understand more exactly what it means to use emotion intelligently.”

Up Next: “Painting for the Absolute and Utter Beginner” and/or “The Art of Racing in The Rain”

Empowering

What are we, as human beings on planet Earth, specifically the United States, doing to empower ourselves and the marginalized?

On May 4, 2015 the NY Times published an article on their website called “The Best and Worst Places to Grow Up: How Your Area Compares” that shows how much mobility (or how little mobility) is offered to children in U.S. counties.

Do we care that the neighborhood a child lives in affects his or her class mobility? Does it matter that the opportunity (and resources to make opportunities) to pull oneself up by ones’ bootstraps varies GREATLY from county to county?

I think we do. I think there’s shame in admitting that the “American Dream” of hard work and ingenuity is widely unattainable for children in our major cities and other densely populated areas. In fact, I can hear a dozen arguments in my head as to why the “American Dream” is not an impossibility to these children, but they sound an awful lot like excuses or denial.

Here’s what it comes down to: not all U.S. children are given the opportunity to receive the same standard of public school education. The worse the education, the worse the available jobs in the neighborhood are. The worse the jobs in the neighborhood are, the harder it is to make enough money to finance a move to a nicer neighborhood.

Yes, they can make and take opportunities for themselves. But how can we encourage and enable them to do that?

This is the question bouncing around my head lately, and not just about children in low income or disenfranchised neighborhoods. How can I empower others? How can I give them the opportunity to share their story and/or to inform and educate themselves? What specific ways can I as a human and can we as a society empower ourselves and others?

I may spend the rest of my life answering that questions, but it feels like a good and valuable question to spend time on.

Yesterday and Friday

You know what I did yesterday? (Probably not, unless you are my husband who sometimes reads this blog.) I FINALLY scheduled ONE of my Valentine’s Day gifts from my husband – services at Burke Williams Spa. So this Friday, I’m getting a massage and a spa pedicure and I am really looking forward to it. But yesterday, yesterday I went in to schedule the appointments, as the spa is right across the street from my office as I did not feel like explaining my gift certificate over the phone. You know what happens when you schedule a first-time spa appointment in person? You get a facilities tour. And everything smells like eucalyptus and serenity. And you cannot wait for HOURS of spa relaxation and treatments on Friday. And you think to yourself “well done, husband, well done” and for the moment, he is the most wonderful and most genius person on earth.

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(Here is a picture from the day I married him – good job, Heidi. Well done.)

I suspect he will also get to be the most wonderful and most genius person on earth in my mind again on Friday afternoon, when I actually experience the spa day. Which will be a welcome reprieve from the days I call him a tooty-head.

Oh man, Internet. I can’t wait until Friday. ALL THE STEAM AND ALL THE LEMON WATER AND ALL THE EUCALYPTUS SMELLS WILL BELONG TO ME!

The Animal Friends

I love me some animals and there are some animal friends in my life who are just too cute.

Like these ducks that have started living in my parents’ pool20150510_140541-01

Good thing no one has any plans to swim in that pool, as it is now a duck toilet. But, a very cute duck toilet! They quack around and waddle and eat the bird seed that the tiny birds drop when they are at the feeder.

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Or Morris and his “friend in prison” we visit every day on our walks.

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Believe it or not, the first photo was taken A MONTH before the second one. Friendly, yet cautious, that Morris Chestnut.

Or Morris and this cat that he DESPERATELY wants to be friends with, even though the cat is completely disinterested.

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Morris likes to check for his kitty friend EVERY DAY. And if the cat is not there, Morris whines. Morris has never touched this cat, or played with this cat, but always goes as close as I will let him and his tail WAGS and wags and wags and wags and he does all the things Morris does when he is EXCITED.

Maybe Morris needs a kitty friend of his own around the house. (Morris says YES, my husband says NO and the size of our apartment says NO WAY CAN WE PUT A LITTER BOX IN HERE.) Maybe someday, Morris. For now, he’s just going to have to be friends from a distance.

Monterey Bay Aquarium

Almost a month ago now, Jim and I went to the Monterey Bay Aquarium. YOU MUST GO TO THERE. I cannot stress this enough. There is enough to do there from open to close, so you get your money’s worth. If you can afford to get yourself there, DO IT.

The aquarium has a sea otter rescue and rehabilitation program, with the goal to release them back into the wild and to aid the dwindling Pacific Sea Otter population. The otters they have on display are all females and they rotate out of the exhibit to be foster moms to otter pups who will then be released. 20150410_104037_1

You can view the otters: here, through the aquarium’s web cam, which is much better than my pictures through glass with a phone.

Other highlights included jellyfish, their albatross and their Giant Pacific Octopuses.

20150410_121116_1   20150410_134057_1  20150410_165720_1The Monterey Bay Aquarium is definitely one of my top ten places ever in existence. I want to go back tomorrow. I want to spend every day there. There are not enough words to describe my obsession with what used to be a sardine packing plant from the world of John Steinbeck’s “Cannery Row” that is now a premiere leader in ocean life research, rehabilitation and preservation. LOVE LOVE LOVE!

Point Lobos, CA

A few weeks ago, Jim and I took a couple of days off from work to extend our weekend. My cousin’s wedding reception was that Saturday night in the Bay Area, so we had a couple extra days to venture south of the reception site to Monterey and see some things we hadn’t seen together, yet.

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Our first stop was Point Lobos Nature Preserve, just south of Carmel. I’d been before with my family, but hadn’t been in almost a decade! There’s a beautiful, tiny peninsula with one of the oldest Cypress tree groves on it. On one side of the peninsula is an old whaler’s cabin and a view of the Pacific that will usually include a blue whale surfacing. On the other side of the peninsula, there is an otter, HUNDREDS of sea lions, seabirds, tidepools and beautiful beaches.  20150409_183300_1

Hard to see, but there’s an otter in the water! He was diving for food and breaking open his shells on his tummy with a rock. I was climbing on rocks and looking at tidepools. He followed me up the shore, I’m assuming to keep a close eye on me. 20150409_182605_1

Jim also kept a close eye on me from a distance. Maybe he is also an otter.

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He had to make sure I didn’t break anything getting down to those tidepools and finding crab friends and anemone friends and a starfish friend… I made A LOT of friends. I always make friends, but especially with animals. They can tell I’m a sucker who might give them some food (I did not give any of these wild animals food). It was a great time and I look forward to going back someday!