Saturday, May 13, 2017

Hopeless Romantic!

The New View
Do you have memories linked to music? I sure do. So many songs take me back in time to people and places.  And every time I hear Luke Bryan sing "Play It Again", (Listen Here) I am reminded that I've never tired of wanting to hear certain songs over and over again.

This week I've become somewhat obsessed with "Something Just Like This" by The Chainsmokers and ColdPlay (Listen Here). Love the lyric (which is usually what I connect to with songs):

I'm not looking for somebody with superhuman gifts
Some superhero
Some fairytale bliss
Just something I can turn to
Somebody I can kiss

Yep...a hopeless romantic who hasn't been on a date since (wait for it)...September of 2016. (Did I tell you the long-distance relationship ended?) Not dating made and likely still makes sense...so much I need to work on, no need to add dating to the chaos...on the other hand if Mr. Right should magically appear...I'm open. 

Here are a couple of other updates since I've not been active lately here.


The Baby Blanket
After living in an expensive, yet marginal apartment from March '16 - October '16 I moved into a great little condo (less expensive, larger and with a killer view)! 

In January, I traveled to Denver just in time to welcome Grandbaby #2, another girl! I tease that I hope to have her blanket finished by the time she graduates from high school, when actually, I think it will be completed later this weekend.

The sun is out today, which is great.  What a soggy, wet, record-breaking winter we have had here in Seattle. 

Credits:

Photos are mine, please ask me before using!



Sunday, May 7, 2017

Location|In-Between

Lost Items
It is a little over two years since I learned I was being laid off from a job. A five minute conversation that changed my life in ways I could not have imagined. Between then and now I've experienced selling my home (a "choice" by force), participated in the "benefit" programs of state unemployment and healthcare, held a minimum wage job, applied for more jobs than I can count, moved three times in thirteen months, experienced sadness, anger, resentment, depression, isolation, fear, confusion, anxiety; and perhaps most importantly, I have never felt this lost before. I have and am allowing the transition to define me.

Back in October '16 the "universe" spoke to me, twice through articles. I imagine the "universe" may  speak to me more often and that I "can't-don't-won't" listen. Two articles appeared to me during one week about feeling lost. As I considered the Nine Necessary Connections I realized how great the loss has been. I lost the connection to my means of support (financial and in some ways emotional), to place (my home and work), to a group (work colleagues and to a small extent neighbors), to information & knowledge (learning how to negotiate my way through the public welfare system was no easy or pleasant task), meaningful role (my job), and connection to a significant person (many of my work friendships were lost). That is six of the nine connections!

My losses beg so many questions. Will I ever find/have/hold a job again that feeds me intellectually, professionally and financially? Will I be able to find an apartment that I can make a home, and how long will that last given that rental units are generally not "forever" homes? Will I find a sense of belonging/peace/serenity again? Will I once again feel secure in my ability to take care of myself?Will I ever feel "found" rather than "lost".

These articles each suggest a reframe. To consider myself "in between" rather than "lost" as I seek my future? To see this as opportunity, to give up the map I have forged a route on and become open to creativity, exploration and adventure. To use this time to process. To consider repurposing.

The advice from these articles:

Breathe. 

Stop the Distractions. Live in the silence and the space.

Notice the Signs

Have Faith. Don't Lose Hope.

Life is a journey. It is easy to become "lost in the in between" and hard not to ask where am I? Am I there yet? Am I taking the right steps?

Do I still feel lost? At times, yes. However I can also say that I am in between where I was and where I am going. This isn't a journey I had any intention of taking especially in my 60's, however it is where I am.

CREDITS:
http://www.elephantjournal.com/2016/09/when-you-find-yourself-a-little-lost-in-the-in-between/

http://wanderlust.com/journal/youre-not-lost-youre-just-in-between/

PHOTO: Was taken by me, please don't use without asking. Thanks!





Sunday, September 25, 2016

Friendship | Reciprocity

The idea of whether or not friendships should be based on or require reciprocity has been on my mind lately and apparently on the minds of some of my friends as evidenced by this quote from a recent "newsfeed".

“My biggest mistake is thinking that people care for me as much as I do about them.”

As I am prone to do, I spent some time browsing the Internet for perspectives on reciprocity in relationships. Themes that popped up included: spirit of cooperation, understanding of and ability to embrace interdependence (loved that one!), the cost-balance reward, fair exchange, mutual exchange, equity in transactions, investments and mutual benefits. Turns out that actually interacting with each other is important…it matters.  Like so very many things in life showing up is key.

As someone with a more “introverted” than “extroverted” personality type, I am really not wired to be an acquaintance or casual friend. I believe I benefit from a few close friendships and desire to make a significant investment in and act in a manner that I hope will be mutually rewarding.  However, I’ve experienced some of the challenges that may befall our friendships.  Many of these appear to be related to changes that naturally occur throughout our lives.

  • Workplace relationships may not evolve into sustainable personal friendships
  • As we evolve over time our friendships change as well, we either embrace the growth or not
  • Changes in our intimate or partner relationships such as divorce or a new partner can present challenges to our friendships
  • Our mobile lifestyles may create physical distance between us
  • Life status changes such marriage, divorce, children, empty nest, etc., often leave us feeling a loss of our shared experience
  • The use (overuse?) of social media, while it is easy and positive to click on "like" or an emoji, it doesn't seem to constitute  meaningful communication
  • When one of us feels there isn't reciprocity in the relationship, which generally means we feel we are giving more and trying harder, and not receiving enough back
What might we do to support, sustain and grow our friendships?
  • Let's look for fair or mutual exchange over time, rather than keeping score
  • Let's model positive regard and recognize that friendships like all relationships require work and commitment
  • Let's each embrace that the more we give the more we get
  • Let's give and receive self-disclosure, being genuine and unconditional in both
As written about HERE, when we don’t have significant people in our lives, we are challenged to find or satisfy all our other connections.

CREDITS:

Photos were all taken by me, please don't use without asking!




Sunday, August 14, 2016

Happy Birthday|With Questions On Empathy


Here's the deal. I turned 62 on August 12th. It was a standard day for me. I woke up, did the usual morning routine. Then I checked Facebook. What!?! No b-day posts from my friends? But seven of my FB friends have messaged me. Eventually it dawns on me that my privacy settings do not allow anyone, even friends to post to my page. So, I changed my settings.Went to work. My colleagues didn't know it was my birthday. At the end of the day, 38 friends have posted b-day wishes to my FB page. Truly fun! All of my friends wished me a great day and/or a wonderful year ahead. Perfectly appropriate. I am truly grateful that my friends want me to be happy. My son sends me this text "Happy Birthday momma" and my heart melts. My daughter sends a text that reads " Happy birthday. It's been a long day. Can I call you tomorrow.?" Dinner was a salad accompanied by Prosecco. Then I binge-watched "Married at First Sight". In the overall scheme of things, it was an okay b-day.

However as the day wore on, I realized that I want more and not necessarily cake, ice cream, cards, balloons, flowers or presents (although those would have been enjoyed). So to quote the Spice Girls from their song "Wannabe" "I'll tell you what I want, what I really, really want". I want friends who know me and are willing and able to connect with me in person, via a message, an email, a text, even a post...and acknowledge that they know me; that they see me; that they get me. Essentially this communication may require a level of empathy and self-awareness that is hard to come by. 
"Empathy is the ability to understand how someone else is feeling. Showing empathy is one of the most important traits in building and maintaining relationships. Empathy allows others to feel understood and cared for. It can strengthen an already existing friendship and help forge a new one". 
In my fantasy I would like to hear something like this:

Happy Birthday my friend. I know that as you turn 62 your life hasn't turned out the way you hoped, dreamed or planned. This past year has been hard for you. I know that you are grateful for many things and experience joy every single day...in your children, in your grandchild, in the beauty that surrounds you and in the photographs you take. And I also know that you are often lonely. That you long for a loving, committed relationship. That you have a small family and wish that you weren't so far away or distant. That you crave close, even intimate relationships with a few significant people. My birthday wish for you is that you find that. I know this is your wish as well. I love you for who you are and embrace your fortitude and courage in continuing to have hope and chase those dreams. Be well my friend. I love you.

It's asking a lot. I know. It is a special and unique relationship that can allow this level of communication. There has to be deep knowledge of each other and tremendous trust. It is a rare relationship that would allow the incredible intimacy of such a statement.

In our politically correct culture, this is difficult. Are we afraid to be vulnerable? Do we know how to hold emotion? Our own, let alone someone else's? If we acknowledge another's feelings, do we have to do the same for ourselves?  Is the action of communicating empathically a marker of real connection, true friendship? 

"See me. Feel me. Touch me. Heal Me". From Christmas, by The Who

CREDITS:
http://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/spicegirls/wannabe.html
http://blavity.com/15-things-empathic-friend-wants-know/
http://lyrics.rockmagic.net/lyrics/who/tommy_1969.html

Photos in this post were taken by me!

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Divorce | The Post I Experienced Yet Couldn't Write

Good morning! Today is Tuesday, May 17th! I woke up to this article 10 Things To Know About Your Newly Divorced Friend. I am no longer newly divorced. In fact, we separated in 1994 and divorced in 1996. Do the math. All told, it's been 22 years. The date my divorce was finalized is etched in my mind like the birthdays of my children.

This article captures (unfortunately) an accurate portrait of my experience, and likely the experience of others. 22 years later, it's nice to know I wasn't then nor am I alone now in experiencing these things. Divorce is hard, those of us who do divorce lose much more than our spouse. Some of the "10 things" may never go away.

I'm not writing a long post today just sharing this article. If you know someone who is divorcing or divorced, please read this article.

I hope you make today a great day! I know I will!

Monday, April 25, 2016

Found ~ Old Treasure

Like many American kids growing up in the 50s & 60's I had bicycles. We lived close to our schools and in an ostensibly safer time, so we often rode our bikes to school. We rode them to visit our friends and to run errands for Mom. We did not ride with helmets. My parents had some rules for riding though. As the oldest child, I was granted permission to ride from the corner (our house was the 4th house from the corner heading southwest) to the 2nd streetlight on the block. Way cool. Then this happened! My brother (two years younger) was granted permission to do the same as long as he was with me! I'm sure I was supposed to appreciate the trust Mom and Dad had in me to give me responsibility for keeping my brother safe, yet I found it annoying and wanted to ride all the way to the streetlight by myself.

There were other biking incidents...falls and scraped knees and elbows, a bike stolen from my parents garage (which we often didn't close because we lived in ostensibly safer times), heck I even created an independent study PE class in college with my friend Soozi! Our final was a ride from the campus in Ottawa, Kansas to the suburbs of Kansas City where Soozi was from. Thank goodness for Soozi's Mom.  She drove us back. We passed, probably received A's as our grade!

In 1976 I bought a bike for about $100 (as I recall) while living in Ft. Collins, CO. At the time it was considered a pretty good bike for the money. It was my primary mode of transportation. I loved this bike. In 1979, it traveled with me to Seattle. In 1986 it was loaded onto the moving van and came with me to NJ, and then to Cherry Hill. I think I rode it a few times when riding bikes with my kids. My son rode it quite a bit for a year or so. Including a race with his friend Eric through an east coast hurricane!

In 2006 when I gave up my "Jersey Girl" life and returned to Seattle, the bike came cross-country in a moving truck again and was hung on hooks in the garage. It was 30 years old, rusty, with flat tires. But I loved it and couldn't/wouldn't let go. I took it to a good local bike store to see if they would fix it. They suggested it really wasn't worth their time. So back to the hooks in the garage.

Fast forward to the Summer of 2015. A former colleague and now a great friend, Jerry and I meet to catch up over beers (we both seem to like dark beer). He is an avid biker. He's biked in India and Europe, among other places. He and his wife often ride tandem (I always thought that would be cool, and have yet to try). While we are enjoying our beer, we are talking about biking and I tell him my bike story and then this happens:

"Gena, I love to tinker with old bikes! I'd be happy to look at and maybe work on your bike".

BOOM! Done.

So the bicycle, my favorite bicycle, was taken over to Jerry's garage and about a week later he called and said it's done. So we met for breakfast (no beer, just pancakes), and he put my bike (now beautiful again) in the back of my car.

Jerry is today's guest blogger. Follow the link below to read and see (plenty of links to pictures) what he did with my bike.

My Bike

I haven't ridden it yet. I got it back as the rainy season here in Seattle began. But now the sun is out and days are getting longer. Jerry and I will take a ride together at some point...I've told him it needs to be flat (a little challenging here in hilly Seattle). And riding, at least in good weather will be a nice addition to my exercise routine. And these days, I do own and wear a helmet. And I'd really love one of those biking jersey's. Maybe I should get Jerry this one as a "thank you" as he wouldn't let me pay him for the work he did!

I love my friends. And my new found treasure!

CREDITS:

All credit for this one to my friend Jerry!!

Monday, April 18, 2016

JOY ~ Nine Things & Counting

Elephants are one of my favorite animals!
This week I read an article that resonated with me on a website I follow called The Elephant Journal. The article was titled "20 Things We Should Not Stop Doing When Life Sh*ts In Our Face". While not a fan of the title, I still read the article which you can find here: The Elephant Journal. I liked the article much more than its title.  Here are the quotes I liked:





"Disappointed. Scared. Doubtful"
"Anxious of a suddenly uncertain future"
Reluctant of making choices in fear of choosing the wrong one"

The quote about an uncertain future really hit home...after the past year. As the article's author suggests, some of us (me!) might have a tendency to go into a holding pattern when faced with something like a suddenly uncertain future. Essentially no longer making even small daily choices to continue living our lives and finding meaning (happiness, joy, gratitude, appreciation) in our everyday. On some level I have been guilty of this. I hunkered down. For example, I didn't "do Christmas" in 2015. I didn't seek out my friends on the same level. I didn't fully participate in activities that I enjoy.

A possible solution for the author was the list of 20 things we should not stop doing. As I strive to be strengths-based, positive and appreciative, the idea of "should" and "not" don't sit well with me. However the idea of a list of things to continue doing when you are down and out, has great appeal.  The author suggested/challenged readers to make their own list. Here is the beginning of my list:
Best.Cheesecake.Ever! Recipe from my Mother-in-Law
  1. Read. I love historical fiction, and Stephanie Plum novels by Janet Evanovich. I did read some historical fiction, however I am three books behind with Stephanie, Joe and Ranger.
  2. Take photographs. I did take photographs, however not as many as I could have.
  3. Travel. I traveled quite a bit this past year. At first to NY State in pursuit of the long-distance relationship. Then several trips to and from Colorado for family time, and most recently to New Zealand and Australia. I was fortunate to have some disposable income and plenty of "points" to be able to travel this much in a year when I was both un- and underemployed (thus my suddenly uncertain future). However, even without income/points I could have done day trips or even hour trips to local areas for free.
  4. Spend time with friends. This area was tough for me. I didn't think I was good company. Many of my friends were "work friends" and as I was no longer working with them (or quite frankly, working at all), it was somewhat harder and perhaps more depressing for all parties to connect.
  5. Baking. I love to bake. You name it, I'll bake it. Cheesecake, cookies, cakes, bread. I've baked very little this year. My kitchen equipment is in storage. My uncle the single man, doesn't have all the accoutrements my baking requires. I did want to make a cheesecake for Christmas dessert (it's tradition) which required me to purchase a new springform pan, as my other pan is in the way back of the storage unit and I wasn't going there!
  6. Knitting. Silly me. I do enjoy knitting. I could have been knitting on all those flights. The knitting needles and patterns are...you guessed it...also in the way back of the storage unit.
  7. Kept writing this blog. Perhaps you noticed a dearth of posts from Soudain Soixante. 
  8. Kept up an exercise routine. I ended my membership with a barre class program (which I loved). It was too expensive to continue while un or underemployed, and honestly, it became harder and harder to go being generally 25-35 years older than most of the other women in the room. I also stopped walking 10,000 steps a day which I had become pretty consistent at doing; even here in Seattle where it rains almost daily from October to May (our Rain Festival). When I owned a house I could walk through the house to get in those steps. It's a bit more challenging to do that at my Uncles house. That being said, I could have kept doing barre exercise via DVD which is...in the way back of the storage unit. 'Nough said.
  9. Take my vitamins. Another thing I just let slide. I don't take many...a multi-vitamin (which my physician told me wasn't really necessary), Vitamin D (because really, we don't get enough sun here in Seattle) and Biotin. 
One of my favorite photos taken in 2015
I pulled these nine ideas out in less than three minutes today. While I am certain there are more, this is a great start. Do something every day. Take a walk. Take your camera on the walk. Take a photograph with your camera on a walk. Take a walk with a friend, photograph your friend. Be grateful that you can take a walk with or without a camera or a friend. Don't neglect to live your life, even though you may be disappointed, scared, doubtful, anxious of a suddenly uncertain future, or reluctant to make choices in fear of choosing the wrong one.

What would your list be?

CREDITS:

Photographs:
  • Elephant taken by my Daughter (on her trip to South Africa)
  • All Other Photos are by Me