"Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?" ~ Mary Oliver

Tag: fulfillment

looking for fulfillment? . . .


In our generation, we read books like “Looking for Mr. Goodbar,” “Catcher in the Rye,” or “On the Road” while we were growing up, looking for what our purpose in life might be.

In today’s Sunday New York Times was an article that describes a course offered at Stanford University called “Designing Your Life.” Instead of prescriptive rules that you should follow, its approach is to guide you through a way of thinking about process as experimental and experiential ~ and that it’s okay to fail along the way to finding what floats your boat in life. It gives permission to make mistakes too.

I haven’t read it yet because it will be released on Tuesday, September 22nd, but I’ve pre-ordered it on Amazon. And I’m also thinking about giving a copy at Christmas to my granddaughter and others in my extended family who might find something useful in the search for themselves.

We could all use a little of this, couldn’t we?

“at ease with whatever comes. . . “

DSC_0093_2If any of us has led a life as sincerely altruistic as Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter have for as long as they have (40 years after his presidency,) then I guess we might be at ease with whatever comes when we’re ninety years old too.

To me, It’s not just that his demeanor and self-possession make such a stark contrast to the bloviators (Trump & his Republican candidate counterparts) that we are forced to listen to in the news. More pointedly to me, it makes the everyday personal conflicts that all of us have with members of our family or friends that seem so petty and such a waste of time and life energy.

It’s interesting to note also that serious illness, like melanoma cancer and its invasive reach into the brain, serves as a catapult for the world’s attention. Had Jimmy Carter not gotten cancer and died instead by falling off a ladder, would the world (and the news media) have had a chance to acknowledge the humanitarian contributions that he and his foundation have achieved? For example, a rampant worm infestation in millions of Africans has been eradicated now to only a few.

Also notable to me is that his successor at the Carter Center is not one of their three sons or even Amy, the infamous redhead kid in the White House – but a grandson who was named Chairman of the Board last November. Jimmy Carter also mentioned that their endowment is $600 million strong.

Throughout these newsbreaks, his wife, Rosalynn has been silent by his side. But she has also been by his side doing rather than staying home and drinking tea. Did you know that Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter were BOTH awarded the Presidential Medal of Honor for their humanitarian efforts?

So, even if we’re not planning to fly to Nepal to build houses for village people or to travel to Guyana to monitor elections, what can we do to make our own lives more meaningful?

That’s a good question – and lives like the Carters are inspirational to taking a break from the bullying emptiness of campaign rhetoric and petty internecine struggles that seem so commonplace everywhere we look.

getting to ‘there’. . .

I don’t know about you but I like to have things caught up before I embark on a project that I want to do for myself. The house has to be picked up and the refrigerator cleaned out. I’m not sure if guys feel the same way though. I read somewhere about the difference between guy and girl brains; something to do with the amygdala being different sizes or something. There might be clues in our DNA too. I don’t think guys feel like they have to wash the dishes before they go and tinker with the car, for example.

I’m not dissing guys, I’m talking about how self-critical we women can be about what we expect from ourselves. Last year, I spent weeks cleaning out the closets, taking things to Goodwill, lugging boxes to the consignment shop, changing cotton sheets to flannel before I could get to re-writing my novel. Maybe for me and other women, we’re good at putting off doing what we really want to do. I noticed that G. procrastinates when it’s something he doesn’t feel like doing.

The ‘there’ we want to get to today keeps moving so that it is still there waiting for us tomorrow. If we wait until we get ‘there,’ we might forget what matters most. I have days when I think the book is just not going to happen. There are other days, (like today) when I feel buoyed by its progress. The opening chapters are now headed in the right direction. In about six weeks, the book may finally be done–just in time for Mother’s Day!

So there!

“life is long” . . .

thankful every day

“Life is long”. . . a woman speaker told us at one of the Wednesday morning assemblies when I was a scholarship student at Smith College in the ’60′s. She talked about how important this idea was because as women, we might have to put the care of others ahead of ourselves. And that there might still be a chance to do something or be something that was really important to us. Later on.

It was a turbulent time. Joan Baez, Pete Seeger and others sang to protest the Vietnam War. Women’s Lib was at its peak, American astronauts walked on the moon, and the Beatles rocked everyone, singing “I Want to Hold Your H-A-N-D…” Being somewhat shy, I was too naïve to know what I really wanted out of life, never mind whether life was short, or whether it was long.

My first marriage lasted for over a quarter of a century and the best thing that came out of it was our children. The one thing we did well together was raising them to be independent, to be curious and to give them experiences and tools to find their way in life.

Preferences in the way he and I wanted to live were in stark contrast to each other: he wanted to travel the world and live in exotic cultures–the Wanderer. All I wanted to do was to be at home. In my own home in comfort of my own making: to read, play the piano, knit, cook meals, listen to music. We couldn’t have been farther apart in terms of what we each wanted to do at the middle-aged period in our lives.

The divorce was lengthy and painful, lots of to- and fro-ing. Worries about finances. I moved three times in two years, including cleaning out the Victorian house that our children grew up in for twenty-two years, virtually by myself. The first week in my new apartment, the family dog slipped out from the back yard, even though the iron gates looked secure. When I searched but could not find her, I found solace in the I-Ching reading which said, “peace.” I figured that either I should chill out because she would turn up, or that she was already at peace. The next morning, the phone rang and a dog Samaritan said she found Bridget on the causeway in the next town. Two degrees  of separation, the Vet’s number on Bridget’s rabies tag and my new phone number left with the Vet during the move coincided to reunite us once again. I didn’t have a job at the time, although by then, I had worked for seven years in a biotech start-up and had a track record for making decent money. Three months later, I got a call that led me to a new biotech start-up company sixty miles away.

The movers, in their haste, forgot to tighten the lyre on my Steinway grand piano. I looked in the phone book for someone specializing in Steinways to come and take care of it. That person turned out to be my future husband. We were friends for four years when we decided to marry. This year, we celebrated our 16th wedding anniversary and have been together now for almost twenty years. I never thought this might happen during the turbulent unsettled time in my life.

We are both pianists, grateful that we are together to share our lives. Whenever I say that I should have left my first marriage earlier given all the trials and tribulations, my husband quickly disagrees. He feels that had even one thing been different in our pasts, we might not have met each other at all. Timing is everything, it seems, even if it takes awhile.

As a postscript, my ex-husband married within a year of our divorce being finalized. He and his wife travel and live all over the world. All’s well that ends well, it seems.

That’s how I came to understand what I heard when life was still innocent and full of promise, “Life is long.”

uncommon hours. . .

welcome to "uncommon hours"

“If one advances confidently in the direction of (her) dreams, and endeavors to live the life which (she) has imagined, (she) will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.”                                          Paraphrased from Henry David Thoreau

In the 19th century when Thoreau reflected about life in his cabin near Walden Pond, he probably wasn’t thinking about women. In those days, women put the care of others ahead of themselves. Some of us still do and want to, which takes up most of our lives, and while we are in our prime.

In this day and age, as many of us find ourselves with children who have grown up or with careers that have run their course, we look around at ourselves and feel vaguely that something is missing. Even if we have most of what we always wanted. Or, if it doesn’t come close.

Either way, we have not had a chance nor had the time to realize these yearnings. It could be a book you wanted to write. Or books you always meant to read. Learn to play the piano. Or, finally make “Boeuf Bourguignon” from Julia Child’s recipe. Raise a garden with your favorite plants or have fun with animals like the pet you once had.

Look inward to your intuition. And rely on yourself to be fulfilled.

This, in a nutshell, is the purpose of this website: to relate about what we hear from our inner voice. When we pay attention we wake up feeling joy because we are taking care of our own contentment.

This website invites you to tell your story and by sharing, inspire others to follow their own path.