Saturday 21 January 2023

First new 2023 goal!

 After my last post discussing how I might, one day, make some New Year's intentions, and/or assess how 2022 went, I did start a blog post draft where I began writing down ideas. But this has already become a large collection of random thoughts, links to articles that appealed to me (but are major thought provokers in and of themselves) and memories and observations. It would take a large effort and amount of time to make all of that cohere into one blog entry, even though there probably is some order or pattern in it somewhere. Plus it is like a snowball rolling down the hill, picking up extra snow and other debris as it goes. I'm not sure it's entirely in my control anymore.

So instead what I will probably do is take pieces of that collection from time to time and see what I can do with them.

Today's piece is a dream I remember from my rather restless sleep last night. I had two dreams actually. In the first one our family was out camping, and we were having quite a good time, but then we had to pack up and my youngest daughter's boots kept getting misplaced.

Incidentally, this dream reminds me a bit of a recurring dream I had when I was younger. In the dream I had to catch a train, but would suddenly realize that I had lost my shoes. I would then spend a long time frantically searching for my shoes and miss the train. Eventually, I decided that if I was ever in such a situation, I would just get on the train in my socks. I then stopped having the dream. 

Anyway, after the camping trip the dream setting changed completely to the university from where I graduated, more than 20 years ago with my first degree (!). I was in the university as an adult, and my goal was to take some courses, just out of curiosity and interest. The only other criteria was that I really wanted to take a course that had a final exam, because I missed that experience.

The part about the exam must have been inspired by the fact that it is currently "exam break" in high schools. In waking reality, I have no desire whatsoever to take an exam.

But the notion of taking a course stuck with me after I woke up. The dream was so vivid. And suppose I really did take a course in something? There are plenty of things I am interested in. So I took a look at the websites of two local universities, just to see what was offered. Continuing education was mainly vocational classes with a certificate in this-or-that attached. I decided I do not want anything with a certificate or any kind of career application.

Then I took at look at the university's website for classics and religious studies. I have long wished that my education included more classical history and literature. Of course, there wasn't time to do everything, but if I could do it over, I would have made some different choices.

This was the blurb on the university website:

Hmmmmm, let me think about that. No, none of that actually interests me in the least. The website was full of this sort of aren't-we-so-relevant copywriting. I decided I do not want anything that attempts to be Relevant to Today's Concerns. If there is relevance to (my) contemporary life, I will find it out for myself, thank you. Just teach me about the thing.

This exhausted the obvious options for local education. If I was open to travel, of course there are many more options: short courses, conferences, retreats. But such things are also several orders more complicated to arrange, involving multiple negotiations and sacrifices and trade-offs that I don't particularly want to make or demand of others, especially not for a whim. The truth is that anything requiring my time and attention is complicated and difficult. That’s just the consequence of being embedded in family and work and my large web of responsibilities.

But, it’s still worth it to ask if there is something that I should do to grow or learn more. I also observe that in my life, transformative opportunities don’t present themselves as duty or necessity. They don't sound or look like: "This is The Way to Build Your Knowledge and Skills and Personal Network!"  They present themselves as joy and fun and exploration. It’s kind of like the universe poking me to see if I’m actually paying attention.

Who am I and what am I doing here?

So, well, that leaves (for now) online. I poked around a bit, exploring maybe 0.00000000000000001% of what the internet has to offer. I listen to podcasts regularly, so I want more than just audio. I don't mind spending some money. I want professional production.

Which brings me to my first new goal for 2023. I decided to try a course about history thousands of years old: the civilizations of Mesopotamia! It is offered through The Great Courses.

I got interested in Mesopotamia through The Lord of Spirits podcast and The Fall of Civilizations. I learned enough through those to intrigue me but I listen to them in bed so I also sleep through a lot. But ancient civilizations are fascinating to me, and while Greece and Rome are somewhat familiar through literature and movies Mesopotamia is less so. I have a total of 10 courses in my wish list right now but it seemed appropriate to start with the oldest history I could find.

I love the strangeness, the foreignness, the mystery. I love the fact that the people are all dead and there is no chance whatsoever that I can solve any of their problems. I love that they are humans like me despite their utter remoteness in time or space.  I am so excited to get to know them and the pieces of the puzzle that was their world.

The more mundane questions: How will I find the time and space to do this course with everything else in my life? Will I remember anything? That too is a mystery, and the only way to find out is to dive in.

I may use my other blog to record learning and progress. We shall see. For now, time to have a new experience!

Tuesday 3 January 2023

Hey 2023!

 So, 2022 has waned and passed away, and here we are in the new year.

My family and I welcomed the new year on an airport shuttle. That's a first for me! We had just completed a successful and mostly relaxing trip to the USA. The girls and I are lucky to have an extra few days of holiday at home, so here we are.

As I do my selective reading online, I see some truly impressive posts by people describing how they assess their goals and accomplishments of 2022, and set new goals for 2023.

I sip my coffee, nibble my breakfast munchies, and relax in the slightly sweaty comfort of my PJs, untidy hair and slippers. This will continue until the next hot flash, whereupon I will throw various articles of clothing across the room and pace about the house. In the meantime, I gaze into the depths of my mind and soul, as far into the murk as I can see, and I ask myself: Am I capable of assessing 2022 and setting some Intentions for the new year?

The answer comes back: Nope, let's not go there yet

Whenever I do feel like it though, I will be using these three posts for reference:

One month(ish) into 2022 (see, I never start early!)

Answering Lynnette's question (throughout my life, I have found it helpful to ask myself - and sometimes others - blunt questions and answer them as truthfully as I can, whether I like the answers or not. 

Seeds in My Mind (isn't it much more pleasant to reflect when it's nice and warm outside?!)

What I do feel capable of is setting some intentions, maybe even goals (!) for the next few days.

First, things I have already accomplished:

  1. Our first day back, with a medium-bad headache, I tidied and re-organized the girls' rooms. They were both in desperate need of such attention. I felt strongly that I couldn't and shouldn't put off this job since we were arriving (of course!) with Christmas gifts. I love exchanging gifts, but. Introduce anything new into a poorly organized space, and a chaos explosion ensues. I cannot handle that. So I worked very hard for a few hours while the rest of the family had screen time or napped (and were out of my way, lol). I am very happy with the result, and the girls were grateful for their renewed, cleaner spaces. Also the headache went away after a few hours, so I'm glad I powered through it. I feel pretty well rested and healthy, overall.
  2. Unpacking and doing laundry in a logical, calm progression. I've given myself permission to not unpack suitcases until I'm ready to do so. Because I'm a pretty well-organized person, I don't actually need the majority of what I packed, so there is no urgency.
  3. Put on a pot of bean soup to cook for dinner today. Mmmm, soup. Hot, delicious, full of fibre (travel and unfamiliar diet did mess a bit with my digestive system).
  4. Family trip to the zoo yesterday, enjoying the sunshine and warmer weather we were blessed to return to (the two weeks before Christmas were a deep freeze here, which added to the overall feeling of exhaustion and overwhelm).
Things I would like to do/continue doing this week:

  1. Teach the kids to maintain their newly tidy rooms. It's a process to learn the skills of organization, so I am keeping the expectations reasonable (I hope). It's easier to practice organization when starting fresh, however. AJ has been doing pretty well with her drawers, but her bookshelves were a mess. So I organized and labeled all the books by genre. She is very excited about this and is currently pretending she is a librarian. So, good start there. AJ also wants to keep a broom and dustpan in her room which I'm hoping will encourage her to not leave things all over the floor. Expectations are lower for Dani but with the new organization I can at least keep her accountable for putting away a few things at a time.
  2. Cook a few meals this week, maybe trying new recipes or even just renewing ones I've forgotten about. My cooking style is comfort food and January is a good month for that.
  3. Continue with cleaning/reorganizing. Part of improving the kids' rooms was to remove the majority of their stuffies. They do love their stuffies, and goodness do they have a lot. Right now the stuffies are in overflowing bins in the basement playroom, which is pretty untidy and ugly-looking. I have ordered some mesh organizers for the playroom and door hanging organizers for their rooms, so I'm hoping that those improve matters. 
  4. There are always soooooo many organizing jobs to do around our fairly small space. I can easily get discouraged trying to do too many things at once, or only seeing what needs to be done. I'm grateful for this week because I feel like I can tackle a few things at a time, but have enough time to see some progress too. So the goal is, do a few things frequently without attempting too much.
  5. Do a few errands outside the house. I really don't feel like going anywhere, I admit, especially after all the travel. But, well, we probably should. Maybe tomorrow.
  6. Spending a bit of time doing my volunteer coordinator work. I joined the board of my daughters' dance organization this year, which means some extra responsibility. 
  7. Continue re-reading Lord of the Rings and continue when done with The Silmarillion. Becoming a bigger Tolkien nerd sounds like a fantastic goal for January / February, and is easily the one I'm most happy about. I may also dip into a few other books on philosophy/spirituality, if I'm moved to do so, but I'm really following my heart with this one.
There you go, seven is a decent number.  7 X 289 = 2023. I may be back in late winter or spring to revisit and look at the bigger picture. For now, the picture is a miniature.

The roaring alongside he takes for granted,
and that every so often the world is bound to shake.
He runs, he runs to the south, finical, awkward,
in a state of controlled panic, a student of Blake.

The beach hisses like fat. On his left, a sheet
of interrupting water comes and goes
and glazes over his dark and brittle feet.
He runs, he runs straight through it, watching his toes.

- Watching, rather, the spaces of sand between them
where (no detail too small) the Atlantic drains
rapidly backwards and downwards. As he runs,
he stares at the dragging grains.

The world is a mist. And then the world is
minute and vast and clear. The tide
is higher or lower. He couldn't tell you which.
His beak is focussed; he is preoccupied,

looking for something, something, something.
Poor bird, he is obsessed!
The millions of grains are black, white, tan, and gray
mixed with quartz grains, rose and amethyst.

"Sandpiper," by Elizabeth Bishop