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2019 was not a year beloved by many.

Have we ever been more ready for a new year, let alone a new decade? Millions of us hold the hope for better things ahead. 

That’s not a typo up there. It’s the entirety of a draft from last year. ( See, I meant to post.)

I’m dusting it off now because I love irony. We thought 2019 was bad.

We had no idea what 2020 would look like. Wildfires, a pandemic and accompanying economic pain, an unhinged election year, a resurgence of open white supremacy…the big picture is grim. The news was so bad, and disasters, both manmade and natural, piled up so quickly that our attention shifted before we could properly absorb the last bad thing.

And yet. Our air and water quality improved world wide as a result of the shutdowns. Wildlife got a break from human encroachment on the environment. Humans, at least the lucky ones, were given an opportunity to slow down, reconsider, and revise their routines. The election cycle ended, and the guy with experience and a commitment to democratic norms won by a decisive margin.

And yet again. Appalling numbers of humans reject science and continue in their old habits, maskless, putting the rest of us, especially those who have no choice but to work, at risk of illness or death. A new, more contagious, strain of the virus has been identified in at least two states. Our leading expert in infectious disease warns us that this January will be worse than what we have seen so far.  “So far” is over 3,000 deaths per day. Our own government abandons us to stay afloat as best we can, ignoring the successful examples of other countries. For the first time in US history, the incumbent president (who pardons war criminals and co-conspirators, while ratcheting up federal executions of other prisoners) flatly rejects the results of an election, and demands support from his party. His heavily armed supporters, apparently ignorant of the way our system works, seem eager to engage in violence on his behalf. QAnon is a thing. People have lost their damn minds.

It’s a very good time to shelter in place. January 1, 2021. Nothing guaranteed but a new number on the calendar. Catastrophic climate change, deadly disease, a possible coup or civil insurrection. How trivial it seems to be pondering tweaking my exercise routine, home improvement projects, or what else to eat today besides Hoppin’ John and greens. But what else is to be done besides hunkering down, staying out of the way, and keeping a wary eye on the outside world?

Focus on what I can control- my mental and physical health and my immediate environment. The trivial things turn out to be critically important; all of those squirrel pictures I took from my window last spring kept  my mind off of the fact that I was trapped at home, and unable to visit my husband in the hospital. He’s home, and fine now, but he went in abruptly, and until it was over we did not know it would be 10 long days. Squirrels, long phone calls with friends, and painting the hall baseboards got me through  it.

We who have survived 2020 have no choice but to keep going. This year will be bad, but it will also be good. It’s up to us. Except for when it’s not.



Well. I guess I was on a break.

I am still in the same house, with the same husband, kid, dog, and cat. I suppose I am the same person, five years on from my last post here. The world within my walls hasn’t changed much, but outside?…

Why post again now?

I’m starting again because I miss it, and I have no excuse to not. It’s not like I don’t have the time.

Social media, which requires less effort and introspection, has taken more of my time than writing ever did. I will no longer measure out my life in tweets. Or shares or likes.

I never intended to stop writing, but the longer the gap between posts, the more daunting it became to resume, and the more I felt the need to explain and justify the absence. (Never mind that only approximately three potential readers might have noticed.) In the words of one of those readers, a very smart friend, “Inertia is a very powerful force.”

Time will pass, regardless of what we do and do not do. Time will pass, whether we can tell or not, when the end of December feels very much like the end of March with slightly less daylight. Time will pass, and with luck, I will be 65, instead of 55 when I first began this. With more luck, I’ll be 75 someday too.

What will I do with the time? As much as I can. And a little bit of writing about it.

The challenge is to be less self-conscious, less glib and less coy. The challenge is to limit self-censorship, to fear fewer topics, and to engage in deeper thinking. The challenge is to be mindful, to experiment, and to ultimately develop a practice. The challenge is too have something to look back on when 2022 rolls around.

Challenge accepted.

“There is doing or not doing. There is no try.” Somebody said that.  I don’t remember who. Yoda, maybe? (see what I did there?)

That may be true in the world of space heroes, entrepreneurs, and rock hard abs.Everyone there lives in charming and pristine homes. There is no  self doubt, no second guessing. It’s all action and creativity, all the time.

It’s not true in my world. I live in the land of commuting, government work and and pants that don’t fit anymore. I am knee deep in unfinished projects. I want to act, but I worry about outcomes: What if I can’t? What if it doesn’t work? What if it’s no good? Is this the best choice? Should I be doing something else?

“Just try,”  I will say to myself. This is slightly different than “Just start.”

Trying is having permission to be less than perfect, to (gasp) fail, or to just quit, if it turns out that the idea was bad, the color was wrong, or maybe I need to give it another shot tomorrow.

Trying is my bridge between desire and action, in cases large and small.  Starting is what I do after I have decided to try.

Will I start posting here again more often? Will I get back into my daily walking habit? Will I accomplish the other things I’d like to do this year?

I don’t know, but I’ll try.



The Kid is preparing for a cross-state move to finish her college education. In time-honored tradition, I am attempting to foist off  offering any number of household items -the wicker chairs, that table from Ikea, the white dishes…

While pondering this process on my way home from work this evening, and wondering whether it was too soon to move an elliptical machine into her soon-to-be-vacated room, the following memory floated to mind:

Before I married Dr. T., I had a serious relationship with someone else. We’ll call him THE BOY GOD, for that is what I named him shortly after he abruptly dumped me three years or so into our life as a couple.

We lived together for most of those three years- a first for both of us. We were youngish; most of our belongings were hand-me-downs, and most of them were mine. He had moved in with me, after all.

We were youngish, but old enough that after three years, it might have been reasonable to make permanent plans. A month or so before my dumping, however, I noticed a change in THE BOY GOD’s behavior: he was quieter, distant. “What’s wrong,?” I would ask. “Nothing. I’m just tired.”

This went on until the Fateful Friday he decided to tell me that he WASN”T HAPPY.

I’ll spare you the details, mainly because, mercifully, I’ve forgotten them. Except for this one, recalled today:

During the miserable week or so he took to move out, I bought myself a set of flatware- I guess to cheer myself up, or just because it was on sale. Who knows, now?

Guess what THE BOY GOD took with him when he moved out?

In retrospect, I have to give my younger, heartbroken, wimpy self credit for calling him on it. “Did you take the silverware I bought?” “Yeah, I guess so.”

I can’t remember the words I used at the time, but I will never forget the tone: “Why would I buy YOU new silverware?” (for dumping me?) He brought it back.

Most of us have said that at some point in our lives, but mostly it isn’t true. Last Monday, I truly could have died.

The rain was tapering off, but the roads were wet as I drove to work. My route consists of two lane roads. For the last seven or so months, I’ve been confronted with someone encroaching on my lane about every other day. Usually, it’s just a tire of an oncoming car straddling the line into my lane. Once or twice, a passing car has startled me before returning to its own lane. Monday was different.

As I passed a 55 mph sign, I glanced briefly at my speedometer. Just under the limit, which made sense, given conditions. I was running a little late, so I thought about speeding up, but decided against it. I’m glad I did. I looked up to see a car racing toward me, abreast of the freight truck it was passing, despite the double yellow line.

Clearly, the car could not pass the truck before it reached me. It was also going too fast to drop back behind the truck. Surprisingly, I made these calculations in time to pull off the road, into the soggy ground, before impact. Both vehicles whooshed past me. It happened so fast that I could not even hit my horn to express the rage that I felt.

The rage was the second surprise. There I was, breathing hard and realizing that if I had decided to piddle with the radio dial, or pick up my coffee cup, or anything else that might have diverted my attention for another second or two, I’d have been in a high speed, head-on collision. I could have died. And so could have that clown in the other car, in such a hurry that (s)he crossed a double yellow line. That clown could have died too.  I bitterly hoped that the clown had noticed. I was mad at the truck driver too, but I don’t know why.

After a moment, I pulled carefully back onto the road, and went to work. The rest of the day was routine. I left a little early, gingerly driving back along the same roads.

On a whim, I decided to make a detour and finally see about filling the eyeglass prescription I’d been carrying around since October. At the  trendy place I’d been reading about on Yelp, a nice man helped me choose something I would never have considered on my own.

Dr. T and I had dinner, watched a little TV, and I went to bed, after jotting a couple of lines in my electronic journal.

It didn’t occur to me until the next day that what I had chosen to write about was choosing new glasses.

This year, I’m trying something new. Rather than making a list of short-lived resolutions, I’m resisting the ubiquitous urge to become a “Happy New You” and declaring the current me to be satisfactory, and maybe even better than that.

That doesn’t mean I am getting as much exercise as I should; let’s face it, it doesn’t even mean that all of my clothes are fitting properly at the moment. Nor does it mean that I am reading enough for enjoyment, or that my house is organized, or…you get the idea. So what am I going to do about it? Nothing. Sort of.

I’ve been reading a lot lately about the negative effects of always striving for “better.” In our race to improve, the argument goes, we never get a chance to appreciate what we already are and have. Satisfaction is always around the corner, over the next hill. We’ll be happy when we are thinner, or better dressed, or when we get those hardwood floors installed. (Ok, the hardwood floors may just be my thing.)

Chasing better suggests that we are not good enough as we are, and leads to negative, self-punishing thoughts and behavior. We shame ourselves and deprive ourselves, and feel so dissatisfied.

I am not the first to point out that we would never treat someone we love like that. We would encourage them, point out what they’ve accomplished already, and actively support them in a positive manner. They aren’t perfect either, but we love them anyway.

So this year, I’m going to treat myself the way I hope I’d treat anyone I cared about. I will make sure that I am getting enough sleep, eating plenty of produce, and getting outside often enough. I’m going to take care of what I already have, and appreciate it. I’m going to nurture my curiosity and creativity. I’m going to gently nudge myself to take more risks, and accept attention. I’m going to hug my family more, and laugh loud and often.

And if I have to, I’ll buy bigger pants.

Well, this is embarrassing. The last time I posted here, I had no idea that it would be so long before the next time I posted here. As days, weeks, and months passed, it seemed more imperative that my next post be extremely meaningful or otherwise great to make up for my lack of productivity.

This is not that post.

This post is my “Welcome home, all is forgiven” message to myself.

I’d feel better about myself if I had been writing all this time, but I didn’t and I can’t fix that now. All I can do is pick up and go forward. So here I am.

It feels good to be back.

June 10th, 2011, was my last day at work at my last “real” job. I left that job to move cross-country, ending three years of bi-coastal marriage. Had I known I would be less than fully employed three years later, I might not have been so sanguine about relocating.

Those of you who have followed this blog know that I have been looking for work, with varying degrees of  effort, since I have been back in North Carolina. I tried to find a place in my field, and my efforts were met with indifference. Uncertain that I cared to knock myself out to start at the bottom  when I’d left at the top, I looked at new avenues of employment, and my efforts were met with indifference.

I realized that I was most likely part of the problem, and I began to explore the things that were holding me back. I’ve written about some of them, and will continue to do so. There is no such thing as “finished” when it comes to self-awareness and improvement. I got help with my resume, polished my LinkedIn profile, and started joining groups and getting out more.

Last fall, I rededicated myself to finding full-time work. I systematically searched and applied to a range of interesting positions where I felt my skills would transfer. By April of this year, I had made dozens of applications and inquiries, to “stretch” positions, but also to three investigative jobs where I had solid, easily recognized experience.

In mid-May, I was discouraged and despondent, bemoaning the lack of response to anyone I could get to listen. I tried to get a grip. I reminded myself of the adage “Success is what happens right after you don’t give up” and I felt cheesy.

Remarkably, the next day, I got a call. I scheduled an interview. Today, exactly three years after leaving my old job, I am accepting the new one, doing exactly the same thing.

There is another saying: “If you do what you have always done, you will get what you have always gotten.” Sometimes, that is a bad thing. This time it is not. What I will get now is another  opportunity  to be of help to people who need it, to spend my days with like-minded people in service of the same goals, and to know my place in the world again.

Did the resume, the online presence, the introspection and  all the rest help, or was it simply a matter of allowing opportunity to present itself? Either way, I am finally home.


More Fun With Nature.

The Great Selfie Project of 2014 has been over for quite some time. Turns out, I’m just not that into me. I tried to stick with it, but not that hard, and not that long. The biggest problem seemed to be that I would get busy during the day, and then remember right before bed that I had not taken my picture for the day. The result: a series of shots of me, at my lowest point of the day, in the same spot on the couch. Bo-ring, not to mention demoralizing.

Despite my initial disappointment at failing to sustain the challenge I set for myself,  I am considering the project a success in one significant way: I have desensitized myself to the photo taking process, if for no other reason than it is truly no big deal. In the words of Bill Murray in Meatballs: “It just doesn’t matter.” Nobody in the world is going to look at any picture of me with the same intense scrutiny that I do. So what if I’m not photogenic? I live my life in three dimensions, not two, and I spend  the better (in all senses) part of my time looking at others, not me.  I’ve also managed to memorialize a few Good Hair Days, so that is another win.

And really, if I were to get hit by a bus tomorrow, I would want whoever found my phone to see images of people, pets, and places I love, not an endless parade of me. Wait, that’s what I would rather look at too.







George Lakoff

George Lakoff has retired as Distinguished Professor of Cognitive Science and Linguistics at the University of California at Berkeley. He is now Director of the Center for the Neural Mind & Society (

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