26 questions

I stole this from Paula's 2 x 13 questions (which had me thinking about one half of a deck of cards, and the fact that the Norwegian alphabet has 29 letters, but I digress). 

1. Share your profile picture.

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Current profile pic from last year. Heh.

2. Who are you named after?
Nobody. My mom saw "Keera" in an obituary.

3. Do you like your handwriting?
Yes. But sometimes I can't read it.

4. What’s your favorite lunchmeat?
Norwegian brown cheese, Gudbrandsdalsost.

5. Longest relationship?
That would be either my friend Ann in actual years or my friend Torleif in years in a row of regular contact. Or the parental units.

6. Do you still have your tonsils?
Yes. The only thing I've had removed are my wisdom teeth.

7. Would you bungee jump?
If I'm sitting in my own couch with VR goggles, sure. 

8. Do you untie your shoes when you take them off?
Always. I was taught that to not to would ruin the shoes. Wait, do I even still have shoes that tie? 

9. Favorite ice-cream?
My favorite used to be pistachio but I don't know any more. Everything tastes too sweet now.

10. What’s the first thing you notice about people?
I have no idea. Hair? Is it supposed to be the same thing every time?

11. Football or baseball?
If I have to choose, baseball. Then I won't root for the wrong team because I can't tell what they're doing.

12. What color pants are you wearing?
Dark blue. Actually, denim blue. I'm wearing jeans.

13. Last thing you ate?
Soft tortilla taco.

14. If you were a crayon what color would you be?
Periwinkle!

15. Favorite smell?
Roses.

16. Who was the last person you spoke to on the phone?
Hah! I've actually spoken to someone on the phone this year so I can answer this: Receptionist at the doctor's office. (Text me.)

17. Hair color?
Ash brown with a few strands of silver. See profile picture above.

18. Eye color?
They look blue on the profile picture above so my passport is correct. But up close they are actually dark gray-blue irises shot through with white and with a bit of central heterochromia. 

19. Favorite food to eat?
Having discovered buckwheat pasta, I'm back to a childhood favorite: Spaghetti. 

20. Scary movies or happy endings?
Scary movie with a happy ending. I don't watch movies to think. That's what books are for.

21. Last movie you watched?
"Star Trek III: The Search for Spock". I'm rewatching all the Star Trek movies these days. 

22. Favorite holiday?
I used to love them all. Now I can hardly be bothered. I think maybe Advent/Christmas because the lights come up during the darkest, wettest, grayest part of the year.

23 Beer or wine?
Gin & tonic.

24. Favorite day of the week?
Friday. Happy mood at work, the whole weekend ahead, something good on TV, maybe even something good for dinner.

25. Three (or four) favorite bloggers you want to learn more about?
Uhm… Er… How about you make a suggestion or three (or four)? :-)

26. Added info you didn’t know you wanted.
Q: Pluto: Planet or planetoid?
A: PLANET! It was never demoted in my mind.

Back to the beginning

I tripped over a book on using yogic mantras to help with anxiety and depression. So I said OM a lot this morning, and maybe that's exactly what I needed to get going again (as well as three days of rest and downtime).

I once upon a time, back in California, meditated and chanted OM, so I dove in and played with harmonies, with going silent, with going up an octave or two, and even whispering. You can do it all. Or just repeat internally, soundlessly.

The OM on YouTube (you don't need to read the book): The Cosmic AUM

The book that led me there: Mantra Meditation: An Alternative Treatment For Anxiety And Depression

Too much, too soon

Yesterday's grouchiness was a warning. My body and my moods are basically klaxons trying to get my attention. This morning I had no energy, no desire, no absent Grumpy. He was still with me. He had a message.

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I hate when I'm like this. I hate that my emotions so easily rise to the surface and I have neither the inclination nor the ability to force them back down, not even when the situation demands that I do. (Blowing up at work is a really bad idea.)

I got a reminder today that dealing with mental exhaustion, with panic attacks and its attendant issues, takes time. I was feeling too good Tuesday. I know now that I was not on the way up, but out of balance. Yesterday that lack of balance made itself known. I thought I'd headed it off at the pass, armed with hugs, but nope. On a good day I can wrestle with my feelings, but on a good day I'm not even in this battle. So I'm trying to face a dragon and all I can muster is a "whatever". It takes energy to battle with feelings, and in this case, it is a better strategy to just not bother.

Low on energy this morning, I got myself ready for work, only to be hit by full-blown lethargy. And so I played the waiting game. Maybe I'll feel like going in half an hour… which came and went and so I thought maybe in another half hour… But that's when my body decided to wield a clue-by-four with force: The very thought of going to work started to make me cry.

So I called in sick. And I'm not playing hooky. I have to get this through my head: I am sick, just not physically. I am not the definition of a well person at this time. So once again: I need to learn to give myself some slack, to figure out how to care for myself mentally.

So I've surfed YouTube today and appreciated the fact that last night I made dinner with lots of leftovers. 

I subscribe to Tom Scott's channel. Here's how my words actually get to you: 

Grumpy got hugs

Grumpy

Grumpy

So, as usual, I am Mercurial and go up and down more than a rollercoaster. After a great day yesterday—which I realize now may have taken more out of me than I thought, with all that talking to the psychologist—I ended up grumpy today. Total raincloud-right-over-my-head grumpy.

At the end of the day, a co-worker caught up with me and I admitted I was frustrated, annoyed, and feeling grouchy. Whereupon she gave me a proper, squishy, ribcage-melding bear hug. In fact, such a good and helpful hug we both started to tear up. 

Now, that is some serious hugging!

And yes, it did chase the proverbial raincloud away.

PS: My favorite dwarf was Grumpy because I related best to him. Still do.

PPS: WordPress is rolling out a new blog editor called Gutenberg and it's, uhm, well, at times raincloud-inducing. :-D

Bybanen

I am in love with the city light rail in Bergen, Norway, called "bybanen" (BEE-bah-nen). It took five years after it was built for me to actually ride the darned thing, but after that, it has become my most popular modern addition to this old medieval town. And now they're building a line to my neck of the woods!

I am excited about getting the light rail in 2022! Yeah, that is a long way off. They started digging in February of this year. I walk past the construction site for the station in Fyllingsdalen (the suburb where I live and work) nearly daily. I've been trying to document (sort of) the changes construction is creating in my neighborhood. 

The start of construction of bybanen in Fyllingsdalen, March 2018.

The start of construction of bybanen in Fyllingsdalen, March 2018.

5 months later and all those pipes on the first picture are underground - August 2018

5 months later and all those pipes on the first picture are underground - August 2018

Bergen being Bergen, there are strong opinions for and against the light rail. A lot of people think it's a waste of space and money, inferior to better bus routes, and ohmygawd it takes a full 45 minutes from downtown to the airport!!! 

Look, I've taken the light rail all the way from Byparken (the downtown stop right next to the city park) to the airport. It takes a predictable amount of time (but the hard seats are not kind to aching hips). It also costs the exact same as the city bus (NOK 37 if you prepay an adult ticket). As a comparison, our nice airport bus costs NOK 115 for a prepaid one-way ticket from downtown.

Anyway, today I got to ride the light rail again. My psychologist's office is one stop away from the airport, so I ride the rail one stop from the bus terminal. Today I didn't have to go back to work afterward, so decided to ride to the airport to get a better picture of the "Bergen?" signage—the artwork at the airport that I discovered you can see from the air! (Another version is in the rotating header pics, but has construction equipment in the foreground.)

This sign gets people, especially the locals, talking.

This sign gets people, especially the locals, talking.

Lyrical challenge Day 3 of 3

The final day of being lyrically challenged (in more ways than one), thanks to one of my inspirations for blogging, Paula at Light Motifs. If you're feeling inspired, please do your own challenge and let me know about it! And now for the third song with lyrics I not only paid attention to, but also bothered to learn by heart. But that came later, because when this song first played on the radio back in 1979, it made me cry. Every. Single. Time. This is one song that is on the short list as a song you may play at my funeral (the other songs are mostly happy disco tunes so bring dancing shoes). It is "The Rose" by Bette Midler.

Teen years are intense years, and the evening I saw the movie "The Rose" has moments that I will never forget. I had two friends at the time (I always end up in a trio of two girls and a guy; I'm on my third such grouping), Ann and Grant (hi, Ann!), and we went to see "The Rose". I drove us to the movie theater in my little Datsun B210. It wasn't a theater or part of town we had been to before, and we arrived too late for the intended show. So we ended up hanging out in my tiny car because all the stores at the nearby strip mall were closed or uninteresting. Grant told us the worst jokes in the world and I. Still. Remember. Them. Thanks, Grant.

I'm sure we did more than jokes because Ann and Grant could get into some crazy conversations with each other, strictly for entertainment purposes.

And then it was finally time for the next showing to start and we went and saw the movie.

I didn't understand shit, and I certainly didn't get that the movie was loosely based on Janis Joplin's life. I was "Janis who?". But what I did get was the closing song. The Rose. And the radio stations got it too, and sometimes the tears and the ache that song produced in me every time it played was frustrating.

But that's how you know it matters: If it stops you in your tracks, if it freezes the moment, if it moves you to tears.

The song could be called a hymn, and I know of some people who thought it was a hymn. The imagery and variety in the lyrics, how nothing repeats itself ever but says the same thing, are a huge part of why I love this song. But the message felt like a commandment to me, a finger pointing out my responsibility in this life. And that's one reason for the tears. I take my responsibility as a spiritual person seriously. I was trying to do right by the message of "The Rose".

In later years, the lyrics have mellowed for me, and I no longer cry. Instead, the song describes the gift that each individual can contribute to the greater good. The song is no longer a harsh demand, but a gentle reminder that no matter what, the seed may become more.

And now I am crying again. "The Rose"… you still do that to me.


The Rose

Some say love, it is a river, that drowns the tender reed Some say love, it is a razor, that leaves your soul to bleed Some say love, it is a hunger, an endless aching need I say love, it is a flower, and you, its only seed

It's the heart afraid of breaking, that never learns to dance It's the dream afraid of waking, that never takes the chance It's the one who won't be taking, who cannot seem to give And the soul afraid of dying, that never learns to live

When the night has been too lonely and the road has been too long And you think that love is only for the lucky and the strong Just remember in the winter, far beneath the bitter snows Lies the seed, that with the sun's love in the spring becomes the rose

Songwriters: Gordon Mills The Rose lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

PS: I now know who Janis Joplin was (RIP), I have seen "The Rose" again and I love the movie and its cast.

Comfort zone

I don't like ever talking about what goes on deep inside of me. A few close friends may find out, but not co-workers or you, my reader. But the truth is, I've gotten a taste of what it is like to be struggling with something psychological. And I've decided to let you in on that.

I have a busy mind, and a strong sense of responsibility or duty. That sort of thing easily leads to stress because I've lost the ability to say "no" without guilt. So anxiety has been creeping up on me for almost two years. It's mostly work, but that means that anything bad happening outside of work becomes harder than it needs to be because I have nothing extra to give.

I canceled a trip to Czechia this summer. Prague, home of the astrolabe clock tower, is a city I've wanted to see for years. But it went back on my bucket list due to being so utterly stressed out I couldn't even think about packing without crying. I wasn't staying in the moment but instead had leapt ahead to the week after vacation at work.

Bad move.

A good move was telling a friend and getting some time to talk. Another good move was looping my boss in on what was going on when I got back to work. She sent me to the company shrink. 

My comfort zone: Sitting on a bus, on a rainy day

My comfort zone: Sitting on a bus, on a rainy day

The psychologist was in a neighborhood I hadn't been to before, so I had to figure out bus schedules, and timing so I wouldn't get stressed out if I got lost. I made a decision about which bus to take, and I had taken it before so I knew that leg of the journey.

Sitting on the bus, on a rainy day, knowing I didn't need to worry about missing my stop, I started to feel myself again. I was back in my comfort zone. I know this. I know how to ride a bus. I know the rain. I know how to get myself to an unfamiliar address. I know how to adult that much. So I watched the windshield wipers fight the weather, feeling all warm and fuzzy.

The meeting with the psychologist gave me what I needed. A chance to think out loud and get some feedback. I know all this shit. I know about meditation and affirmations and etheric oils and about not trying to live up to the imagined expectations of others, but all that is beyond my grasp right now. And I kind of want it to be. I don't want to figure this out by myself even if I do know what to do. I want to talk to someone else, get some perspective my own brain can't come up with. Most importantly, I need to hear I'm normal. I don't know that I am, you see.

The psychologist told me I am, and it felt good to hear. One thing I told her was that I feel guilty just sitting. I like surfing the 'net. I like solving sudokus while I listen to my favorite podcast. I like knitting while I watch TV. I like sitting at a keyboard, typing. I like writing. But according to every article I've ever read, all this sitting will kill me, so I feel bad about sitting.

But I like my "sitting hobbies"! And especially the writing and knitting, both activities that produce something, are rewarding. So she asked me, since I was already down and didn't need more pressure, what about not beating myself up further, but instead look upon my "sitting hobbies" as something good, something helpful?

Hmm…

Coincidentally, in the way only the universe knows how to organize, a fellow blogger challenged me to write about song lyrics for three days and, boy, did that feel good, even if it was a topic I would never pick! Just the act of writing, of looking for links and words and putting them together.

One lesson learned.

Stay tuned. I'm not done yet. With any of this.

Lyrical challenge Day 2 of 3

It is Day 2 of the song lyric challenge that Paula at Light Motifs has lobbed at me. With friends like that, et cetera. So I mentioned yesterday that I'm not really aware of what people are singing because not enough enunciation. (By the way, I was double-checking that I had the right word, and discovered it's not spelled "annunciation", which is a totally different thing. Heh.)

There was a time when being proud of America and happily waving the flag and feeling all kinds of good was the norm, rather than either a rarity or something that now makes you throw up in your mouth a little (take your pick). Point is, things have changed since the 1970's. But at the time, even if we got pretty beaten up during that decade, too, with resigning presidents, falling Saigons, soaring gas prices and waiting hostages, we still had reason to like ourselves and the rest of the world sort of usually liked us, too.

And there was always the Muppets to give one a bit of reprieve. The Muppet Show was a favorite in our household, and my mom and I were thrilled when the Muppets made a whole movie! YES!!!

So I remember two things, no three things (well, umpteen but we'll go with three) especially about the evening we went to the movies to see Muppets on a big screen: I got a parking ticket, we honestly thought the film was ruined (see it to see what I mean) so the entire audience gasped in dismay, and the entire audience heaved a deep sigh of warm fuzzy agreement at Fozzie's concluding statement after doing his version of "America the Beautiful". As it turns out, that song is perfect for road trips in the U S of A. At least the first verse is. I didn't even know the song/hymn had other verses until I could claim middle-age so here's a link to the whole song in case you didn't know, either.

I am also partial to that hymn simply because it is has so many wonderful visuals and color combinations and plains that aren't fluted but fruited (told you I don't hear lyrics too good) and a hope and blessing rolled into one. A short verse and short chorus pack a lot of poetic and inspirational punch and I sometimes wish this song was the US national anthem.

And now for the part Fozzie sings:


America the Beautiful

O beautiful for spacious skies, For amber waves of grain, For purple mountain majesties Above the fruited plain!

America! America! God shed His grace on thee, And crown thy good with brotherhood From sea to shining sea!

Lyrical challenge Day 1 of 3

I have been challenged by Paula at Light Motifs to do three days of song lyrics. I thank Paula for making me update my blog (no, really, I needed this) but I have no one else who is actively blogging to pass the challenge on to. That doesn't matter. I don't do anything that reminds me of chain letters, anyway.  :-D

I rarely listen to lyrics because I rarely catch what they're singing, anyway. But some songs had a singer with good enunciation, and even good lyrics, and so I became aware of the words.

One of my favorite bands from the 70's is Little River Band, originally from Australia. I still listen to their 70's stuff (because I don't know if they did 80's or even 00's stuff), and some songs put me right back in California. They had that mellow, west-coast soft-rock sound. And good lyrics. Several of their songs tell good stories, dealing a punch here, a good tug on the heart there. LRB became a part of the tapestry of my life in late 70's California, following me from high school to work, an essential part of what I listened to in my car during commutes. Some songs bring back moments behind the wheel or in my messy teenager's room in front of the stereo.

One of the few ballads I love to listen to any time is LRB's "Cool Change". The song from 1979 is a true child of the 70's focus on getting grounded and centered and mellowing out, and you really do mellow out to it. Sometimes, I become so keenly aware of the words that I notice something I might not have been meant to notice.

If you pay too close attention, you may find your chill bliss interrupted by a bit of ridiculous phrasing, the kind that makes me sometimes utter at that point in the song, "Like you have a choice?" or start giggling while singing along. If you know what line(s) I'm reacting to, tell me in the comments. (Hint: It's not "staring at the full moon like a lover". That is an awesome simile, that.)


Cool Change Little River Band

If there's one thing in my life that's missing It's the time that I spend alone Sailing on the cool and bright clear water It's kind of a special feeling

When you're out on the sea alone Staring at the full moon, like a lover Time for a cool change I know that it's time for a cool change

Now that my life is so prearranged I know that it's time for a cool change Well I was born in the sign of water And it's there that I feel my best

The albatross and the whales they are my brothers There's lots of those friendly people And they're showing me ways to go And I never want to lose their inspiration

Time for a cool change I know that it's time for a cool change Now that my life is so prearranged I know that it's time for a cool change

I've never been romantic And sometimes I don't care I know it may sound selfish But let me breathe the air

Well I was born in the sign of water And it's there that I feel my best The albatross and the whales they are my brothers

It's kind of a special feeling When you're out on the sea alone Staring at the full moon, like a lover

Time for a cool change I know that it's time for a cool change Now that my life is so prearranged I know that it's time for a cool change

Songwriters: Glenn Barrie Shorrock Cool Change lyrics © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc