The Writing Life

Celebrate the Rain

Just after sunset on Sunday, October 25, dark black clouds rolled in from the Northeast. “Looks like rain” comments passed between us. But no rain. Then Monday morning around 6:30, I heard a weird tapping sound on the skylight. Rain? We had more than sprinkles. We had RAIN.

So what’s the big deal? Here in Tucson, in the southern part of Arizona, we had a hot, hot, hot summer with over a hundred days of over 100° temps. The extreme heat and heat warnings deprived us of time outside during the day unless we got out before 7:00 AM. The smoke and then burn scars from the Bighorn Fire in June and July kept mountain trails closed. And no rain.

Our desert plants were “stressed.” Here on the east side of town the water level was so low saguaros had used up their taproots of saved rain and were looking pretty thin. The prickly pear cacti were wrinkled and emaciated. And it was damn hot.

We assured each other the monsoon season (officially June 15-September 30) would usher in the rainy season in Tucson. Those great thunderstorms and teaming rain were on their way to deliver most of our annual 12 inches of rainfall. But, going along with the pandemic and social unrest vibes of 2020, we had a “nonsoon” monsoon. The monsoon was officially over and no rain.

So that swishing and tapping of rain overhead got me up. The foothills to our north were obscured by low gray clouds. Some areas of Tucson only had “seven drops,” or “a sprinkle.” Here off Catalina Highway we had a soaking rain. I had to go out and see it, feel it, smell it, yes, even get into that face-up-mouth-open-tongue-out position to taste it.

Today

Today I celebrate the smells of rain: the damp grassy scent off the fairway, the afterscent of creosote bushes. Scientists call it petrichor. We call it the “after rain” smell and it usually elicits a big deep breath and an “ahh” exhale.

Today I celebrate the sights out my office window: low-lying clouds that alternately obscure and reveal the foothills; the gauzy sheet look that has coated the outdoors with a gray sheen; wet ground, even a bit of a run-off down the street. I celebrate the surprise sunburst that makes our street a Technicolor scene while the foothills are still gray; and then the late afternoon sun and blue sky. Prickly pear cactus perked up from their emaciated “stressed” look.

Today I celebrate the sounds of the rain. At first it’s a soft intermittent swish. Is that really rain? Then the tck tck tck on the skylights. Then that steady cascade sound. The soft plink as more and more drops hit the water in our spool and ripple out. And the hard plunk of drops on the patio flagstones as the rain picks up.

Today I celebrate the silkiness of the air when I step out on the patio, and the cool taste of raindrops on my face. The surprise goosebumps from 59° air make me think t-shirt with sleeves, maybe, jacket. I want to savor the feeling of coolness and open all the windows after the rain stops.   ~ 10/26/20 ELM

Celebrate today.

Ethel Lee-Miller blogs regularly about people, the power of words, and the writing life. She’s retired from professional writing gigs after 30 years of teaching, coaching, editing, and gathering writers to publicly share their work. She is the author of Thinking of Miller Place, and Seedlings, Stories of Relationships. In retirement Ethel writes to inspire, to connect with folks, and for the pure enjoyment of it. Sharing stories at Odyssey Storytelling, Zoom gatherings, and anywhere there’s a Zoom mic, along with Music Improv classes at Unscrewed Theater keep her connected.

The Butterfly Effect Possibilities


A Butterfly Effect Story

A Director of Finance in Italy stared at the check with many zeros after a 7. She had no idea what promoted this unexpected generous donation. Her 16-year-old high school intern looked over her shoulder and muttered, “Maybe it’s like that butterfly effect.”

What if twenty days earlier I paused as I picked up my bag to leave my local Safeway market here in Tucson, looked into the masked cashier’s eyes, and said, “Have an astounding and lovely day.”

Mr. Cashier repeated his version of the farewell to the next customer.

Ms. Customer gave a thumbs-up and sashayed out to her car. She turned to her partner who was fidgeting impatiently in the car. “Isn’t this just a beautiful day, sweetie?”

When they get home Passenger repeats this remark (with or without the sweetie) to the mail carrier depositing the usual offering of junk mail in their mailbox. “Uh, I guess,” says Mrs. Mail Carrier.

Back at the mail depot Mrs. Mail Carrier, who is feeling the vibe, wishes her colleague a fabulous weekend.

Mr. Depot Person goes home and writes a letter, not an email but a real letter, to his brother who lives in Oregon saying he misses him and was remembering the fabulous week they spent in NYC  museum and bar-hopping when they were just out of high school.

Brother reads the letter to his sweetheart.

Sweetheart is moved to send some childhood photos to her former teacher who now lives in Italy but taught her about Renaissance art when she was in high school.

Teacher dabbles in art and paints her version of that young blonde-hair-in-braids high schooler staring with longing at Michelangelo’s “Creation of Adam.”

The painting sells for an unbelievable amount of money at a local auction and Teacher donates the money to a small obscure non-profit in her hometown in Ortigia, Italy that is dedicated to helping children.

So there you go, Ms. DOF. The Butterfly Effect.

What is the Butterfly Effect?

  • A small variation of an initial condition in a system that may produce a large effect in the long run on the behavior of the system.
  • A seemingly minor action, word, or deed by one person that can turn out to have a real big effect on a large group of people.

How Did the Butterfly Effect Begin?

In 1961, Edward Lorenz, an American mathematician and meteorologist, was running a numerical computer model to redo a weather prediction from the middle of the previous run as a shortcut. He entered the initial condition 0.506 from the printout instead of entering the full 0.506127 value. He was amazed to find the result was a completely different weather scenario.

One small change and a huge result. Some say this was the beginning of chaos theory. According to Lorenz, he didn’t have a title for a talk he was to present about this discovery at a meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 1972. Philip Merrilees concocted the title Does the flap of a butterfly’s wings in Brazil set off a tornado in Texas? as a title.[12]

Popular Culture Adapts the Butterfly Effect

The idea that the death of one butterfly could eventually have a far-reaching ripple effect on subsequent historical events made its earliest known appearance in “A Sound of Thunder,” a 1952 short story by Ray Bradbury about time travel.[5]

Most folks like to have their small butterfly actions yield sure and certain consequences. Lorenz suggested, correctly, with his butterfly metaphor that predictability “is inherently limited,” which dilutes the idea of good results being an absolute guarantee.

But the social interpretation seems to prevail. Think about Pay it Forward, the power of positive thinking, Random Acts of Kindness, Flash mob music groups, the Wave.

Maybe we cannot guarantee 100% positive outcomes but it sure is fun to give it a go. Sources: Spirit Vine retreats April 2019. Wikipedia.  You Tube Brainwave Music. My friends at CSLT

Ethel Lee-Miller blogs regularly about people, the power of words, and the writing life. She’s retired from professional writing gigs after 30 years of teaching, coaching, editing, and gathering writers to publicly share their work. She is the author of Thinking of Miller Place, and Seedlings, Stories of Relationships. In retirement she’s writing to inspire, to connect with folks, and for the pure enjoyment of it, and sharing stories at Odyssey Storytelling, Zoom gatherings, and anywhere there’s a Zoom mic. 

Books That Bring Me Back to Center

I’m a Book Junkie

Fiction, novels, historical bios, autobiographies, how-to, writing, comedy, essays, memoir, self-help, spirituality. Starting with The Funny Bunny when I was about five, I’ve had a lifetime diet of devouring genres. All that reading helped get me ready for life challenges that nudged me, popped up, and swept over me like a tsunami. Over the years, how-to and spirituality books have pretty much taken over the bookshelves. Alan Watts, Shakti Gawain, Louise Hay, Wayne Dyer, Harriet Lerner, Dolores Curran, M. Scott Peck, Jack Kornfield, Annie Dillard. I consider them literary houseguests.

And Then COVID

When the pandemic loomed I retreated to shelter at home. In June the shocks of our Arizona wildfires, social and political upheaval and continued pandemic pulled me away from center. I had a month of high anxiety, Am I at risk? I inventoried my risk factors daily- sometimes more than once daily. Age, immune system weakness. What else? What else? It was not a fun place to be. I was on the hamster wheel of negative “what-ifs,” circling at the same time that I was doing a half-lotus pose on my yoga mat. When waning physical health became the big wake-up call I reached out to people, Zoomed, and prowled my bookshelves.

Seven Books That Bring Me Back to Center

They’re a mix of words to chew on, physical easers, anxiety-fighting ninjas, and loving parents between pages of books.

Metaphysical Meditations– Paramahansa Yogananda. This is the one with brief, beautiful phrases that lift me and soothe me. This led me to meditate daily, not because it’s good for me, but because it soothes me. A sample: “I will light the match of smiles. My gloom veil will disappear…”

Less is More- Domonique Bertolucci. The mental declutter how-to. Short chapters to clear out old “stuff” along with the physical items that no longer serve.

Walking Meditation– Thich Nhat Hanh. Thich Nhat Hanh at 94, now resides at the temple in Viet Nam where he was first a disciple. This small book with accompanying CDs teaches me that walking does not have to be a speed race. It’s calming, and my breathing also slows down. I do walking meditation at labyrinths, in our neighborhood, and even along the aisles of CVS- it’s not crowded, and no one seems to mind if I meander.

Living Beautifully with Uncertainty and Change- Pema Chodron. I’ve been making friends with Pema Chodron for years. This is not one of the easy little books for me (though The Pocket Pema Chodron offers some quickies). Knowing ideas and beliefs that worked for me in childhood had to be discarded, I got this book. Outdated early adulthood and professional “rules” – more changing. Retirement and moving brought the need for more changes in attitude, behavior, beliefs. It’s easy to change when I initiate it.

Not so easy when the pandemic, fires, conflicts, both personal and worldwide, make me want to hold onto old ways of doing things. Not that they were working, but they’re familiar. But painful. Reading this together, my husband and I are willing to be witnesses as we update our emotional and behavioral habits. This book is like a blueprint for us: to be willing to commit to practice for our own personal growth and serenity, and for our relationship. The Tibetan Buddhist instructions in the book are The Three Commitments. The softener for this often hard work, is “you will have a growing understanding that you are not a bad person who needs to shape up, but a good person with temporary malleable habits that are causing you a lot of suffering.”

Repose, the Potent Pause- Victor Shamus Ph.D. Repose. What an easy word to visualize. This how-to book describes the end of my yoga practice – that stretched-out prone pose- even when I haven’t done any yoga. Arms out, palms up, legs apart. I lie down on a blanket, the floor or mat, and let my body flop. Ten interviewees shared their repose pose, how, why, and the benefits of this effortless way to relax and restore balance. A gem: “I would lie in an angel pose and it became like an oasis for me.” ~ Martha

The Education of the Heart- Thomas Moore. Brilliant passages from history, literature, cultures, Renaissance and Greek writing, psychology, theology that inspire through words and images. Topics like Storytelling, Romance, Family and Friendship make this a cornucopia of readings. A sample: “A friend is called a guardian of love, or a guardian of the spirit itself.” Spiritual Friendship 

After the Ecstasy, the Laundry- Jack Kornfield. I put this under “it’s simple, but it ain’t easy.” Or “Let go, let God.” or as my dear friend says, “Hey, just let it go, will ya?!” Knowing that it’s easy to be compassionate and serene on a quiet retreat at a lovely center where the weather is gorgeous and food is healthy, it’s still a disquieting experience when I come back down “off the mountain” so to speak. The laundry still waits. The author’s journey along with interviews and stories of monks, Buddhist practitioners, everyday people searching to find peace in the reality of the ups and downs of daily living make it easier for me to become willing to invest my self on this path of compassionate living. And the growing realizing that when I just go to bed and go to sleep, the answer is often right there like a shiny red apple on my kitchen counter the next morning.

Ethel Lee-Miller blogs regularly about people, the power of words, and the writing life. She’s retired from professional writing gigs after 30 years of teaching, coaching, editing, and gathering writers to publicly share their work. She is the author of Thinking of Miller Place, and Seedlings, Stories of Relationships. In retirement she’s writing to inspire, to connect with folks, and for the pure enjoyment of it, and sharing stories at Odyssey Storytelling, Zoom gatherings, and anywhere there’s a Zoom mic. 

Memories of Summer


The End of Summer

Once Labor Day passed, it used to be the official end of childhood summer. It signaled pack the summer clothes away, think about school supplies. Who would be in my class, what had my friends done over the summer? From my birth until I was sixteen I spent each summer at my grandfather’s home in Miller Place, on the north shore of Long Island in New York. My mother, sisters and I were there the entire summer; my dad drove out from our winter home and his office job to spend each weekend with us. Miller Place was a time of glorious innocence and freedom. So much so that I wrote my first book about it, Thinking of Miller Place: A Memoir of Summer Comfort.

Soothing Summer Memories

This memoir is filled with reflections on my childhood summers in an idyllic town. My grandfather’s house was almost like a character itself – a big white house on a hill with a huge screened-in porch that was the hub of the house. Breakfasts, lunches, and dinners were eaten at the big old oak table. Most days were spent on the beach swimming in the salty Long Island Sound and diving off the rocks. On rainy summer days the wooden shades on the porch were pulled down against the gentle rain, lamps turned on for card games of Canasta and I Doubt It or 1000-piece puzzles.

Carefree summers at Miller Place in the 1950’s sustained my twin sister and me through the inevitable clumsiness of adolescence and informed the beliefs and values that serve me today.

Even during summers when Miller Place was a memory, the end of summer has signaled similar thoughts. During my  years of teaching, late August began getting ready for the end of summer. What had my colleagues done over the summer? Who would be in my class?

When I moved to Arizona in 2009, the line between summer and autumn became blurred. I was retired from teaching in school, but still teaching writing workshops. Mother Nature was capricious in her moods of hot hot days or a tease of a breeze in September. But there was still a hint of the laziness that came with summer; part-time hours of my choosing at summer workshops or writing in my office or with my writing group.

Summer Quotes

I’m not alone in these thoughts of remembering summer as a soothing memory retreat:

Yes, in summer we all live in the dreamy palace.   ~ Mary Oliver

Then followed that beautiful season… Summer….
Filled was the air with a dreamy and magical light; and the landscape
lay as if new created in all the freshness of childhood.
~ Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Summer afternoon, summer afternoon… the two most beautiful words in the English language.  ~ Henry James

Summer with COVID

Summer 2020 is still too fresh, too raw, too … different to fall into a category of memories that soothe. What is this COVID thing? A wildfire in our mountains? The pressure cooker of social injustice passing the boiling point? Yes, there were some snippets of serenity: being on my patio at sunrise when the light is still early morning white, and the sky not yet blue, and the feeling of “it is all right” comes over me. But…I have not practiced “going there” as I have going back to Miller Place.

A Book Can Comfort

So when I need that memory retreat, I pick up my book and read Thinking of Miller Place: A Memoir of Summer Comfort. “In my memory I am resting in a hammock between a childhood that was and the reality of today. In it, I am in a place where I can still, if only in my daydreams, take off my shoes and run barefoot up the hill.”

 

What is a summer memory that soothes you?

Next up: Books that Bring Me Back to Center

Ethel Lee-Miller blogs regularly about people, the power of words, and the writing life. She’s retired from professional writing gigs after 30 years of teaching, coaching, editing, and gathering writers to publicly share their work. She is the author of Thinking of Miller Place, and Seedlings, Stories of Relationships. In retirement she’s writing to inspire, to connect with folks, and for the pure enjoyment of it, and sharing stories at Odyssey Storytelling, at Zoom storytelling events, and anywhere there’s a Zoom mic. 

9/11

Remembering 9/11

We will always remember September 11, 2001, and this hilltop will forever have special meaning for the thousands who made their way to Essex County Eagle Rock Reservation to watch the shocking events unfolding at the World Trade Center. – Essex County Eagle Rock 9/11 Memorial 

9/11/2001

My husband and I lived in New Jersey in 2001 and were vacationing upstate at Lake George NY on 9/11. When we got home we drove over to Eagle Rock Reservation to look at the city. The Reservation had long been known for its panoramic view of the NYC skyline.

On 9/11 it was a magnet for New Jerseyans who watched and waited for family members who never came home, and later to wait for first responders, counselors, therapists to return after shifts of helping in the city. For weeks after 9/11 the skyline was a horrific dramatic reminder of the attack on the World Trade Center. Smoke rose in columns above where the Trade Center had been. The wall along the park view was laden with flags, photos, cards and candles. Day and night people came to witness, holding onto each other, faces wet with tears.

We went there more than once. Like other traumatic events, hours of sleep where night changed to the next day, played tricks on me. I’d wake up a day in late September or October or November and think, “Did it really happen?” Drive over to the park,. “Yes, it happened.” To stand along the stone wall to pray and maybe hug a stranger who was not really a stranger.

9/11/2020

Today the 9/11 Memorial in the Eagle Rock Reservation is a tribute to those who lost their lives in NYC. Each name is engraved along the wall and there is a large open book with the names of those from Essex County NJ.

Each time we go back East to visit family or friends in NJ, we go back to the Memorial to remember.

Essex County Eagle Rock September 11 Memorial 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ethel Lee-Miller blogs regularly about people, the power of words, and the writing life. She’s retired from professional writing gigs after 30 years of teaching, coaching, editing, and gathering writers to publicly share their work. She is the author of Thinking of Miller Place, and Seedlings, Stories of Relationships. In retirement she’s writing to inspire, to connect with folks, and for the pure enjoyment of it, and sharing stories at Odyssey Storytelling Tucson Tellers of Tales, and anywhere there’s a Zoom mic. 

Getting to Nothing

Getting to Nothing

Yoga, meditation, and walking a labyrinth have helped me slow down. Taking pictures on travels and at events revealed to me a love of landscapes, water, and serene settings. With the time I save disengaging from over-commitments and retiring my crown as a royal multi-tasker, I find local serene spots, hang out and do nothing.

 

The Art of Doing Nothing

A charming book titled The Art of Doing Nothing by Veronique Vienne captivated me because of its elegant design, brevity, and beautiful sepia photos. And then there was her meandering but clearcut writing. Topics are categorized as Arts: the art of procrastinating, the art of napping, bathing, breathing, yawning. And lounging. That was the one.

Lounging. It evokes chaise lounges- with languorous females supine, wearing nothing but a Mona Lisa smile. Lounging- in the hammock in my beloved Miller Place with the metal hooks that squeaked rhythmically as I got a small sway going and then just rocked. Sigh. Or in the Adirondacks’ hammock hung between two oak trees. Lounging on the grass staring at clouds. Breathe.

Each of my lounge visions includes no words, no thoughts. Just lounging, my muscles slack, my bones almost melting onto the surface that welcomes them.

Rising up from lounging, (because you have to get close the to the surface of the earth or lower than your solar plexus height when you lounge, so says Mme Vienne), and it makes sense, my breathing is slower, calmer; those cricks in my neck and knees are gone.

Fairly soon after lounging, an idea can be crystallized; a troubling situation is not so troubling or even no longer a “situation.” Like the baby doves out back that rested in their nest for two weeks to get their little feathers smoothed out, I’m smoothed out. And it takes a lot less than two weeks.

Favorite Lounge Spots

Where do you lounge?

Ethel Lee-Miller blogs regularly about people, the power of words, and the writing life. She’s retired from professional writing gigs after 30 years of teaching, coaching, editing, and gathering writers to publicly share their work. She is the author of Thinking of Miller Place, and Seedlings, Stories of Relationships. In retirement she’s writing to inspire, to connect with folks, and for the pure enjoyment of it, and sharing stories at Odyssey Storytelling Tucson Tellers of Tales, and anywhere there’s a Zoom mic. 

Intentions and Showing Up

What’s Your Intention?

My Tuesday writing group uses intentions as a foundation for our writing time. The question for each of us is, “What is your intention today?” Most Tuesdays it’s pretty clear. “I’m drafting/revising/polishing or posting a blog.” “I’m working on a project for my class.” “Writing out birthday cards.” “Working on my newsletter.” The parameters for my Tuesday intentions have been “it has to be something I am writing.”

Getting Ready to Write

Somewhere in my writing life I realized getting ready to write preceded the actual sitting down and putting pen to paper (historical reference #1). In the early days of my writing career, it was claiming a place to write. Over the years it has been the café at Borders (historical reference #2), the library, Starbucks, various coffee shops in New Jersey, New York, and now Arizona. For the past seven years it’s been my office or rotating among the host homes of our Eastside Writing Room writers. Now during the pandemic I write at home- dining room table, at my desk, or on the patio. The place is set.

Getting ready to write sometimes calls for mental ruminating, reading, talking to someone, just sitting. Some wonderful ideas have come to me while cleaning the house, or exercising, or just staring. I trust those non-writing times as part of being a writer.

Want To Just a Little Bit More Than You Don’t Want To

When I do have a written list of say, ten things I want to /can/need to write about, the intention can become unclear, confusing. Which to do? The part of me that forgets I am a good writer, offers an exit door and whispers, “Well, maybe you don’t need to write today.” Time to tip the scale. When I tell myself I want to write even just a little bit more than I don’t want to write, another door opens.

woman sitting next to mural of Sylvia Beach and James JoyceEarly “teachers” like Natalie Goldberg, Stephen King, Sylvia Beach, and Julia Cameron inspired me. It filters down to BIC- butt in chair and write. Write X number of words or X number of pages. Even if the first sentence is “I have nothing to write about.” Something always comes.

Bottom Line… Show Up

Think about it. When, where, or how have you showed up, not at all committed to an idea, place, or person? And something happened. Maybe even something superb. Maybe not right then, but later- that day, the next week, a year later. That showing up was a seed that grew and bore fruit. And if I delve a little deeper, there were “things” that got me ready to show up. What a concept.

My teachers are everywhere. Stop smoking like T. did. Practice yoga like A. does until I can hold that pose. Play at tai chi Like H. Commit to a healthy food plan like M. Dance like L.  Forgive Z. Paint like S. does. Write a book like C did. Take a walk- move a muscle; change a thought.woman standing on rocks arms up victorious

Today I showed up to write. What was the most recent thing you showed up for?

Ethel Lee-Miller blogs regularly about people, the power of words, and the writing life. She’s retired from professional writing gigs after 30 years of teaching, coaching, editing, and gathering writers to publicly share their work. She is the author of Thinking of Miller Place, and Seedlings, Stories of Relationships. In retirement she’s writing to inspire, to connect with folks, and for the pure enjoyment of it, and sharing stories at Odyssey Storytelling Tucson Tellers of Tales, and anywhere there’s a Zoom mic.

This Doesn’t Belong to Me

Cleaning up after a party:

“Where did this come from?”   Shrug. “Doesn’t belong me.”

Those leftover things that don’t belong to you. Sometimes it’s a sweater. A cake plate. Eyeglasses. Or an umbrella or gloves – if you live in certain regions of the US. It’s probably happened in your house. It’s sure happened at our house.

Since we’ve been sheltering at home and have had zero parties, dinners, or groups, the questions about leftover items have diminished. We’ve donated lots of our clothes, books, kitchen items, etc. that we just don’t use or need.

I’m also finding more and more old ideas, phrases, and outdated thinking that no longer belong to me or that I don’t need. I’ve let go of stuff like “No pain, no gain.” “Work first, then play.” “Worrying proves you care.” “Don’t rock the boat.”

Got rid of ’em. Out. 86’d.

Cleaning Out the Closet of Old Ideas:

Periodically I still “clean out the closet” of old ideas/descriptions that don’t fit. Can you think of a shirt or top or dress that just would never fit you again but you just couldn’t get rid of it? It took up space in the closet, got dusty, it was in the way getting to what you really wanted. But it had cost so much, or it reminded you of….  Then one day either the hanger broke or the dress ripped, or you actually took it off the rack and tossed it. Finally – you got rid of it. You could see clearly what you did have. And created space for better stuff.

Same thing with ideas.

  • Get rid of “poverty thinking,” (I’ll never get out of debt; I won’t get hired for that event; I can’t afford that car).
  • Draft a new emotional budget- add more line items to the Mad, Sad, Bad, Scared list. Like: Delighted, Happy, Proud, Enthused, Excited, Courageous, Giddy, Angry, Patient, Loving, Friendly.
  • Stop trying to make everyone in your life happy. (Crazy, huh? Also impossible.)
  • Cease saying yes when your heart says no.

 Using Different Behaviors So It Works

  • Count to 10
  • Refrain from speaking until I count to 10 or take a time-out.
  • Agree to disagree.
  • Go to bed when I’m tired.
  • Eat three healthy meals a day- sitting at a table, not standing in front of the open refrigerator.
  • Take a nap.
  • Declare a moratorium on news, negative conversations.
  • Do something playful every day.
  • Ban multi-tasking.
  • Do nothing. What? Do nothing. That was the hardest. I had been personally, professionally, and culturally complimented on being a multi-tasker. If the attribute came with headaches, stomachaches, and a certain irritability, so be it. I was a grandmaster multi-tasker. When it hurt too much I began to change with baby step actions.

Start Cutbacks

I slowly reduced watching TV and checking emails, while doing my nails to just watching TV. Not quite doing nothing, but getting there.

  • Learning to say no. Repeating saying no.
  • Being willing to “Talk low, walk slow, and don’t say too much.” ~ John Wayne
  • Not responding to any devices for a set amount of time.
  • Breathing a lot easier. Finding it easier to laugh. And lots more.

What helps you toss those “things” that don’t belong?

Coming Soon blog. Lounging, the Easier Way to Do Nothing

Ethel Lee-Miller blogs regularly about people, the power of words, and the writing life. She’s retired from professional writing gigs after 30 years of teaching, coaching, editing, and gathering writers to publicly share their work. She is the author of Thinking of Miller Place, and Seedlings, Stories of Relationships. In retirement she’s writing to inspire, to connect with folks, and for the pure enjoyment of it, and sharing stories at Odyssey Storytelling, Tucson Tellers of Tales, and anywhere there’s a Zoom mic. 

All You Need is Love

I’m starting my day with thoughts like this:

Ya gotta learn to laugh. It’s the way to true love. ~ John Travolta- in the film Michael

Love is an excess of friendship. ~ Aristotle

If lots more of us loved each other, we’d solve lots more problems. And then the world would be a gasser.  ~ Louis Armstrong

Too much of a good thing is wonderful.  ~ Mae West

There is no surprise more magical than the surprise of being loved. It is God’s finger on man’s shoulder.     ~ C. Morgan

 

 

 

If we make our goal to live a life of compassion and unconditional love, then the world will indeed become a garden where all kinds of flowers can bloom and grow. ~ Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

 

 

Ethel Lee-Miller blogs regularly about people, the power of words, and the writing life. She’s retired from professional writing gigs after 30 years of teaching, coaching, editing, and gathering writers to publicly share their work. She is the author of Thinking of Miller Place, and Seedlings, Stories of Relationships. In retirement she’s writing to inspire, to connect with folks, and for the pure enjoyment of it, and sharing stories at Odyssey Storytelling Tucson Tellers of Tales, and anywhere there’s a Zoom mic. 

Speaking of Connections

Beginnings 1969

On a rainy September morning in 1969 I was late for my first day of teaching. I was the new kindergarten teacher commuting from NYC to a suburban town in New Jersey. Saved by a very cheerful and generous welcome from my teaching partner, it was the beginning of an inspiring 28-year career in educating young children and becoming a part of the teacher association and community of West Caldwell, NJ.

I found a “home” in West Caldwell and even today have a continued relationship with many of my teaching colleagues, (now retired), and parents of kids, and the now adult students who have their own kids.

Another 1969 event was the first Brady Bunch TV show, also in September. If you are of a certain age you know the Brady Bunch, a blended family. He, a widower with three children, and she, mother of three. What got the attention of the TV world was the very beginning of each show.

Video headshots were arranged in a three-by-three grid, with each cast member appearing to look at the other family members. Pre-internet, this was a then new “multi-dynamic image technique” created by Canadian filmmaker Christopher Chapman. Hello to the future Zoom.

New Beginnings 2020

Who knew that about half a century later many of us would be digitally connected like the Brady Bunch?

Still sheltering at home (August 12, 2020), I am going out for essentials in my Bermuda Triangle of ACE, CVS, and Safeway. I have social distance breakfasts with friends, and bike and walk in our surrounding neighborhoods.

And Then There’s Digital Connections

My email from Daily Good recently had “Tips to Connect.” I was intrigued and inspired by the list of ideas. Check it out http://www.dailygood.org/more.php?n=8555

Connections

Write: Blog; Send emails.

Zoom: with family, friends, professional colleagues, storytelling groups, Tucson Tellers of Tales, Eastside Writing Room, Center for Spiritual Living Tucson, any number of invites to meditate, grow spiritually, be mindful, dance with Jiggy, sing with Connie Brannock.

You Tube: Dr. Richard Miller’s iRest Yoga Nigra, Amy Weintraub yoga, the Write Group of Montclair, Odyssey Storytelling, FST, Sandy and Doug McMasters Ohana Slack Key concerts on Kauai.

Facebook: Friends, writing groups, alumni groups (Wagner College ’69), If you grew up in… (Find your hometown page or high school. (Mine is from Merrick, LI, NY; Calhoun High School). I’ve connected with my childhood church (Community Presbyterian Church of Merrick)

Or like millions of folks, go through the multitude of photos you have and know with the sureness of your inner artist that yours are worth sharing. (They are.)

Facetime, Instagram, Twitter, Google Classroom, Google Photo Albums.

And The Real Stuff

Phone someone, write a letter, send a card, or photos. Say hello to anyone and everyone you see on your walk, at the store. Spread the friendly feelings around.

Connecting With Yourself

Daily yoga, (stepping on my mat each morning connects me to me). Meditation and spiritual readings. Journal. My sweetheart and I read together; my friend reads with her friend on Facetime.

Lounging: my new hobby. I’ve found comfortable and quiet areas at home and nearby where I can just be. Not easy for me but gradually the fast-moving images and thoughts racing across my mental radar screen slow down, then get very intermittent, and I just drift. I’ve gotten some of my nicest surprise ideas just lounging around.

That’s just a few. Feel free to share your ways of connecting. Click here to contact me.

Next blog: Lounging Around. (Yes, really)

Ethel Lee-Miller blogs regularly about people, the power of words, and the writing life. She’s retired from professional writing gigs after 30 years of teaching, coaching, editing, and gathering writers to publicly share their work. She is the author of Thinking of Miller Place, and Seedlings, Stories of Relationships. In retirement she’s writing to inspire, to connect with folks, and for the pure enjoyment of it, and sharing stories at Odyssey Storytelling Tucson Tellers of Tales, and anywhere there’s a Zoom mic.