Questo è interessante!

In anticipation of my upcoming trip to Venice, I am devouring All Things Venetian, including reading histories, studying architecture, listening to novels (like Casanova, read by Benedict Cumberbatch, hubba hubba!), and watching movies set in that spectacular city.  Last night I watched a heist movie where the caper – surprise! – involves canal water. There was a funny line in it: at the moment the crime was to be set in action, the seasoned thief asked the up and coming robber how he was doing, and got the reply, “I’m fine.” But the old crook’s retort was “Fine stands for freaked out, insecure, neurotic and emotional.” Not exactly the first thing that comes to mind when I think of ‘fine’! That said, I think everyone has heard “Fine!” when things definitely weren’t, so A) I’m going to stop saying “fine” in that context, and B) I will wonder at it the next time I get that response! Similarly, I once read that “‘interesting’ is what Americans say when they don’t want to commit.” Aspiring to be a committed citizen of the world, I feel like a cheat everyone time say it!  That’s interesting!

K, another short entry: got to get back to writing my characters!

Take care, folks!

Proust Questionnaire Question of the Day: What is your favorite journey?

Hmmmm, another singular request! These are hard (but highly useful!). Once again, I cannot choose one, so here are three: stepping into a hot bath in my “soaking tub”; sitting on the right side of the plane when returning to Hawaii Island after a trip so I can see the Hamakua Coast out the window; and cruising Red Road south from Pohoiki.  Ideally in a Miata . . . with the top down . . .


I had lots of fun today, not the least because it was spent with a friend who said to me, “You’re an awesome lady, Nancy!” at least seven times during the course of a two-hour talk-about-the-world hike to several gorgeous waterfalls. Folks, I cannot stress enough that if you don’t already have one, look for a kind and generous person to hang out with. It is such a joy to have another human being say kind things straight to your face over and over! To you who already have this person – or persons, you lucky dog! – treat her well, repay the kindness, and the world will heal, I am convinced. If anyone who reads this is thinking, “What? She doesn’t have a person like that in her life? Must be something wrong with her,” then how much nicer my friend was to overlook my shortcomings and try to make me feel good. And if anyone who reads this is thinking, “What? She doesn’t have a person like that in her life? That is so sad,” well, it’s true that I’ve spent too much time around not-kind people, but I’m obviously on the upswing!

Regardless, thank you my dear friend; it was a supreme pleasure spending time with you yesterday, and I wish you the best in everything you do. Keeping healing the world! You’re an awesome lady, Jeanne!

What’s up with “Schiny”?

Schiny is a nickname given to me years ago by a close friend. (It is also a replacement term for “awesome” for BrownCoats*. ) It got lengthened to SchinyGirl sometimes, which led to my beloved SchinyCar, may she RIP, although a better thought is that her parts were donated and are keeping another beloved Miata roaring down the road. I also have a SchinyCave (converted garage) and a SchinyPad tablet.

Just so you’ll know.

Short post today, cuz, ah, it’s Get Working on Novels Again Day.  Not even a Proust Questionnaire entry.

Just so you’ll know.

*see Firefly,  Joss Whedon

Wait, why did I start a blog???

One evening last week, honestly, I just all of a sudden thought “I’ll start a blog!” I had never, ever considered starting one before, nor did I have any idea how to do it, but a couple hours later was born. Amazing! Over the past week I have spent countless hours learning WordPress (thanks, WP folks, for the helpful support pages, and especially for using the guy with the awesome voice for the “Adding an ‘about me’ page” video; I’m melting!). I feel quite accomplished (of course, not as accomplished as the people who designed WordPress – well done, folks!), and a little proud. One of the best parts: I’m not feeling any “will anyone read it?” pangs. I’m just stoked to have done it by myself and to have a place to process ideas and get into the habit of writing, because I hereby announce to the universe that on May 18, 2015, I’ll resume working on novels I began years ago. Starting the blog has loosened up my hands and reminded me how pleasurable writing can be. It has also reminded me of the satisfying feelings of dedication, discipline, and diligence.  

So yeah, not writing the blog to address social injustice, change anyone’s views, or get you to buy something. I’m just warming up.

And as Cali Williams Yost is quoted, “I blog because I am.”

Take care, folks!

Proust Questionnaire Question of the Day: What is your idea of perfect earthly happiness?

Sunning myself on a deserted beach, running my hands through warm sand, a soft fresh breeze nuzzling my body, gentle waves lapping the shore, a bowl of fresh fruit waiting for me under a palm tree, no place to be other than here . . . Um, maybe toss in the WordPress audio guy talking to me with his voice like honey?

Feeling RED!

I’ve known it well – too well! – the searing, red-hot, eyes widening, sharp intake of breath signaling an attack of ANGER! Just thinking about past skirmishes knots my gut. YUCK. I logged many hours being angry; gladly I’ve also logged many hours examining and recovering from it. I examined it because I very much did not like the feeling of being not in control of myself; I kept looking because the insights I discovered about how my mind works were so gratifying. Some of the coolest and most helpful realizations included coming to understand the root of anger, something Pema Chodron labels as shenpa, or “getting hooked.” (For more on Pema’s exploration into anger, I whole-heartedly recommend her enlightening and engaging audiobook Don’t Bite the Hook: Finding Freedom from Anger Resentment and Other Destructive Emotions.)

But in this morning’s reading, I was exposed to a novel view of anger, and I like this very much, too. I’ve always considered anger a very, very bad thing, to be avoided, and if that’s not possible, to be worked through, examined, and always, always, to be kept in its deep and frightening black hole of sticky gunk. Furthermore I had only ever considered it as the result of something, the end. But this new view, as I understand it, posits anger as a helpful tool – the beginning of something bright and good. That’s news I can use!

Here’s more:
“Sloth, apathy, and despair are the enemy. Anger is not. Anger is our friend. Not a nice friend. Not a gentle friend. But a very, very loyal friend. It always tells us when we have been betrayed. It will always tell us when we have betrayed ourselves. It will always tell us that it is time to act in our own best interest. Anger is not the action itself. It is action’s invitation.”  Julia Cameron, The Artist’s Way, page 62

This view puts anger in the role as valuable guide, shining a strong clear light on what needs to be reckoned with, addressed, and solved. Not that the solution is automatically presented; anger is there as a bright flashing signal pointing directly at an area that needs attention, in an arms flailing, “Danger! Danger! Will Robinson!”, pay attention NOW sort of way. “Anger is a tool, not a master” Julia Cameron tells us.

Good stuff.

I wondered what sort of photograph to attach to the blog as anger is not something I normally photograph! I did have a lovely RED photo of a Saipan sunset though, but sunsets rarely make me angry, especially exquisite ones like this.  It’s good to balance things!

Proust Questionnaire Question of the Day: Who is your favorite hero of fiction?

Oh golly, another ‘est’ question! I have to pick one? That’s very hard, but Kostya Levin of Anna Karenina would definitely be a contender.  A decent, very human, and very flawed hero.

“Think left and think right and think low and think high. Oh, the thinks you can think if only you try!” Dr. Seuss

Today’s topic, ladies and gentlemen, is creativity. I am currently reading a terrific book about this subject, so of course it is on my mind daily.

I had always thought of the word solely as it applies to the artistic world, but while (also currently) reading a biography of Einstein, I’ve expanded my view. Here’s a broader definition that is more Einstein-y:

Creativity is tendency to generate or recognize ideas, alternatives, or possibilities that may be useful in solving problems, communicating with others, and entertaining ourselves and others.

Einstein certainly was able to look at the world freshly, seeing possible realities other great thinkers could not comprehend.

And there are myriad creation stories explaining beginnings; Hawaiians have the epic Kumulipo. In fact, doesn’t every tribe or group or culture or even club have one? “This is how we started . . .”

On a much simpler scale, we can arrange pre-existing objects to create something brand new every day.

But I’ve also come to think of creativity as what’s happening around us and inside of us every second of every day without our effort or knowledge: change. Each moment is brand new, emerging, blossoming. Things have never come together in the exact same way as they are now . . . and now . . . and now, and they never will again. In fact, all we actually have is this moment . . . But I can’t swerve there right now: I’ll stick with just creativity tonight.

I certainly know that when I am in the process of creating, as in writing – or rather as in allowing a story to be written – I feel extremely good and excited and vibrant. My body even trembles when I’m way deep into things. Even when I merely cook or bake or garden, which I think of as simple forms of creatively, I get jazzed; I feel authentic. It’s quite powerful. And watching a live dance or music performance or theater production of other people’s creative expressions, well, it’s wonderful. Joyful. And deep: there are some pieces of music that cause me to weep each time I hear them.

What a pleasant way to spend an evening: hashing out an idea. Not momentous like Einstein’s “thought experiments” but exploring ideas and concepts is pleasurable all the same. I start somewhere and it leads here and there, the threads of connectivity snaking everywhere. Cool.

One last fun detail about creativity: I get to live in a place that is daily, obviously, and vigorously creating itself – the amazing Island of Hawaii!

Today’s takeaway: today while I sat in my car in the library parking lot finishing a smoothie I had just purchased, a car pulled in next to mine, and I saw that the driver was drinking a smoothie from the same shop, and I blurted out, “Hey!” The man startled, but when he saw that I was toasting him with my similar smoothie cup, he laughed, and then began to tell me how much he liked that store over all the other smoothie places he regularly visits as he works around the island. He said it was the best smoothie shop for so many reasons, emphasizing how much he enjoyed going there. Then, ridiculously, I said “Yeah, but the parking lot is a nightmare.” Then a moment later, I continued, “I can’t believe I just said such a negative thing when you were saying such positive things.” He laughed again and immediately replied, “If you’re talking to strangers, you’re doing the right thing.” What a nice guy, and I bet he’s right. If we always talked to strangers, maybe we’d blur all the us/them lines.

Proust Questionnaire Question of the Day: When and where were you happiest?

Looking for an “est” of anything does not sit well with me: it feels so limiting. I’d rather have quantity than quality! But I can clearly remember one extremely happy moment decades ago when I received a congratulations letter for a prestigious scholarship that included a travel grant. After reading the first line, I clutched the letter to my heart and shouted, “I’m going to Paris!” Man o man, it still feels awesome!

The meaning of . . .

As I mentioned yesterday, I sometimes discover that I’ve used words or terms incorrectly (contender for worst misuse ever: “for all intensive purposes” instead of “for all intents and purposes”, but that was a long, long time ago, I promise!). And since I’m undertaking this blog at least partially as a look into real and permanent happiness, I thought maybe it would be wise to define it before suffering from more foot-in-mouth disease. I think I am pretty comfortable defining some of happiness’ antonyms, that’s for sure, as that job I recently quit was making me “miserable,” not misery as in the aftermath of a natural disaster, but misery as in “great mental or emotional distress; extreme unhappiness” or “a period of despondency or gloom.” So, the flip side of happiness I feel kind of familiar with.

So, now, happiness. Here’s a start:
Happiness is a mental or emotional state of well-being defined by positive or pleasant emotions ranging from contentment to intense joy.

Quite honestly, these days my life is extremely pleasing, positive, and full of good hope, kind of like a happy ending to a scary fairy tale! So, that’s good. I’m in sync with at least one definition re: the contentment factor. But I wonder: is this “real” happiness, or just a cessation of misery? The following is a reason I wonder.

Because of my miserable state, I was beginning to, well, really hate the entire human race, even though it was merely the small group of people I had to spend time near who were stressing me out. And now, after, what?, six or seven weeks of not going out into the world daily, I’m starting to feel an honest kinship with my fellow human beings. That’s kind of a quick turnaround, and I don’t usually trust quick turnarounds.  Is it only because I’m spending so much time away from people that I’m starting to like them?! Ha! No, I think these compassionate feelings come from something else, something deeper, not the least that all that time and effort I was spending angry and frustrated I’m now directing towards better, introspective thinking. Yahoo! It’s not just a cessation of suffering!  It’s the real deal.

Anyway, as the blog primarily exists in the pursuit of understanding happiness and how to have more of it – in tandem with making sure I am correctly and precisely using “words, words, words,” – I’m going to put serious effort in to getting to the root meanings of concepts. Future posts will look closely at creatively and health, cuz, you know, I want to get this life right. Also, there’ll be some deep diving into the concepts of simplicity, and peace, and freedom, and dare I try?, love.

Yeah, no. Not gonna tackle the last one. Someone else can. Oh no, wait, songwriters and poets have pretty much taken care of that! Definitely feel the pressure is off.

Take care, everyone.

Today’s note to self: be careful whom I spend my time with – some people make me hate everybody!

Proust Questionnaire Question of the Day: What is your greatest regret?

Not having had better parenting skills.

Live all you can. It's a mistake not to.

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