Pin Up Picks Zen Up

Rainy, miserable October the second. That transitional crisp, faintly Indian Summer sensibility–that too warm for your sweater by the afternoon–kind of feeling has faded considerably since the first rain fall of the autumn season.

Glad to be at home. Blanket over the lap, dog at my feet, watching the rain from the sanctity of my office window. Bad weather is delicious only if you have nowhere to go; if you are inside, fire adjacent, thick socks and an even thicker book, a hot kettle and someone to steep your tea. Throw in a Lazy Boy chair and a pastry chef, and this is literally how I’d like to die.

Like yesterday, today that was filled with challenges and annoyances. I was interrupted, disappointed, frustrated, irritated…and then I got out of bed. The day unfolded with these intermittent moments of sheer… [insert angry, lengthy snort, and clenched fist here]. I also had a good cup of coffee, hugged my husband, snuggled my dog, had fun with children and some of those laughing until crying moments with truly wonderful people. It’s a rollercoaster. Above all, good friends and co-workers do help blow the steam out of the life’s little agonies.

My husband bought me a book called the “Little Book of Mindfulness”. Rather, he placed it in front of the necklace and coffee mug I was buying in a shop in Oregon, and the sales girl added it to the tab and popped it in a bag, and didn’t eally see it again until we got home. Mint green with gold lettering, the book has small little sections that essentially repeats the message of mindfulness. All you have is right now. The only thing you have to think about right now is your breath.

So I breathe… like the ocean tide gently lapping the sand. I do this when things aren’t going my way, when I’m tired, frustrated, anxious, challenged, confronted, which is all day every day…and then I wind up sounding like a Lamaze class attendee in an 80’s sitcom. I’m huffing and puffing like some ole cartoon wolf, and all I’m trying to do is get some peace

Following a meeting, I was keen to get home to the dog and some leftover chicken. There was an accident along the normal route I take, and unthinkingly took a route that was overflowing with construction and road works. An eternity of staring at the back of a dingy trailer, creeping along Columbia Street in the rain. Breathing deeply. Focusing on the radio. Cranking up the heat on my chilly toes. Watching the windshield wipers. I wonder what the chicken is up to. How the dog is. Trying not to get annoyed, Trying to be A half hour has passed.  I’m spending my lunch break like a Zen master who placed Bronze in patience at the Mindfulness Olympics. All I have is my breath…and every fucking red light ever.

Is this grumpy girl about town thing getting a little repetitive? Look back at the blog. Note the common thread of each piece and how I’m simply finding a new, elaborate and poetic way of saying.

“I was annoyed today”.

I even started my own group, I called it ‘AA’, which stood for Annoyed & Anonymous; held the first meeting…it was just a bunch of drunks.

That annoyed me.

I do fret though, always have. I could worry professionally. My job can be quite busy and stressful. There’s always something happening, and my ‘to-do list’ is more like a ‘wish list’, of things I try to achieve in small pockets of precious time. Any other time it’s kids and noise and variables galore, and sometimes I try to do math with a symphonic explosion of a pre-school age gymnastics class: music, laughter, yelling, crying, and a sea of little voices saying such classics as: ‘Look at me, Look at me’, “Coach, Coach, Coach’, “Teacher, Teacher Teacher”, and “He/she’s Buuuudging” featuring Pitbull. It’ll be a hot new dance craze inspired by the childhood crime of one stepping into a line without waiting one’s turn. It’s very Electric Slide meets Latino heat.

Seriously though. Nothing gets a kid’s back up more than the ole budging the line bit). There are a million little injustices in a kids day, which leads to the pinnacle of kidisms: “No fair”. To use phrase correctly, you must spread out “fair”, and add a twang and a higher octave halfway through. You really want to ramp that whine up if you want to hit a-ir just so. I get to hear aaaaaall about it as I answer calls, emails, solve problems, wipe noses, stage manage and occasionally do math and complex paperwork.

I love my job dearly, I love all those children and the entire staff. But… let’s face it, some times to really be truly productive, you wish you could shut out the world.

Yesterday was my fifth wedding anniversary. It is also the day that our dog Bluebear decided to chase after three massive deer and drop out of my husband’s sight. Benjamin calls me about ten hours into an action packed work day, as I’m about to delve into a administrative tornado heading toward me.

Earlier that day Bluebear had gotten her little paws on a vintage hat that I had saved as theatre memorabilia. Bits of blue velvet and feathers, bits of netting scattered across the office floor. It was like the murder of an exotic bird backstage at a Atlantic City Magic Show.  That pissed me off. She’s like that sometimes, you come around the corner and she’s quietly chewing the face of the Buddha you brought home from Bali. Casual as hell. She unapologetically destroys an irreplaceable item, and moves forward like it ain’t no thing. Ordinarily, she is my best buddy–my therapy dog. She is good to have around, lowers the blood pressure. I feel calmer when I’m with her.  When she stops to smell the ‘everything’ or rolls in the grass in absolute ecstasy, it forces me to pause. Dogs are very zen I find; it’s all about the moment, and in the moment it’s all good.

Unable to leave work just then, I went through the motions with this stunned, numb queasiness, hands shaking and heart pounding thinking that Bluebear was hurt, lost, dead or half way to Mexico on the back of a motorcycle. Dogs don’t know how to use pay phones…pay phones don’t even exist anymore, they’ve disappeared like record stores…which frankly is another thing that upsets me. Now she’s gone and I had been mad at her for murdering my hat. I would lavish her with many fancy accessories to eat, if only I could have her back.

Still, the show goes on, and I work until I get the call that Bluebear is safe at home. I burst into tears, which I was trying to contain; it looked like a weird involuntary watery eye sneeze. Blame it on the anxiety casserole, layers upon layers of stress, baked at 425. You’ll know it’s ready the minute I burst into flames.

Even on the not-so-dramatic-days of the stress casserole, I do get my daily servings of stress cereal, or stress stew. There’s always a mashing of factors.  I get bothered easily, get angry quickly. Like the children, small injustices drive me to aggravation. External forces cause me great distress. The news is a total buzz kill. Gun control is a disaster in the States. Stephen Harper is endangering my beloved CBC in Canada. Europe is in upheaval.  The world seems to be a mess. All that trauma and turmoil certainly puts your own small inconveniences in perspective. But then again, those are some pretty big tickets items to worry about. The environment, the economy, war, famine, disease. Bill Cosby. Kim Davis. Kim Kardashian. Donald Trump. The horror. The horror.

To be a writer and a mild disaster magnet make magic of my misfortune. When I was much younger–I had shared some sob stories with my dear-now deceased friend Monica. She would listen intently, but never grieve always laugh, saying “What a great scene that would make“. The darker the better, the more humiliating the funnier. Her tar black sense of humor helped shaped my own view of myself. I need to remember that. Even under the worst circumstances, I know that there is a funny story there.  As Nora Ephron was known to say:  ‘everything is copy’.

Perhaps it is best to follow the Tao of Ephron. Live in the moment, accepting that the present may be painful, but in the future it will be funny.

*images courtesy of the fine people of the internet*

Cry Baby, Curvy Girl Blues, Lady Business, Thoughts & Stuff

2 thoughts on “Pin Up Picks Zen Up

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