Expecting

In my ongoing journey to figure myself and life and all that stuff out, I’m now trying to learn about non-attachment. Attachment = expectation. In “The Shack”, they suggest you ditch the noun and go for the verb: Expecting. That is making more and more sense to me. Expectation sets you up for failure; expecting opens you up.

Yes, I just plagiarized my own comment on my previous post. I have noticed lately that unopened messages produce their own kind of stress in me. I have been feeling overwhelmed so am back on 50% sick leave (had tried to reduce to 30%). It just doesn't take much to get me worked up, and it doesn't feel like excitement or anticipation. It feels like dread. So not good.

The thing is, it's just the mind playing tricks. Because every single message or email I opened was harmless. Utterly harmless. Nothing overwhelming or negative or difficult. Just a message.

There are a variety of techniques for dealing with stuff, some physical (like taking deep breaths), some more mental (like saying you're safe as long as you're breathing). I have been trying to meditate, unguided, silent, blank. And of course my mind wants to fill the space. That's what minds do. So I have to gently shove the thoughts aside but the process itself has led to some discoveries.

Like when Taylor Swift's "Blank Space" shows up because I said to myself I want to focus on a blank space. I said to my mind I'd share that later. And that wording gave listening to music a whole new level. It made a two-way street. "I'll listen later" is one-way. All about me, the listener, and the music is just an object. But "I'll share later" seems to acknowledges the original effort of the musicians. They aren't next to me now, but "sharing" creates a more active form of listening; the music becomes a bridge. This could, of course, just be wordplay, but I like it.

Anyway, back to messages. The Universe has been deliberately setting me up, to force me to learn to think differently. 

My 50% sick leave started with 3 days of 100% (that overwhelmed thing). I texted my team leader at work twice on Friday: Once to tell her I was off sick, and later to tell her I would be back at 50% and what schedule would work for her? I got no reply on Friday and the back of my mind was sure I'd pissed her off in some way. 

Sunday I was set meet a friend for coffee, a most reliable friend. If he says he's picking me up at 1 pm, he's picking me up at 1 pm. He usually texts me to let me know he's in the parking lot. But I got no text, and immediately entertained the idea that he had driven off the road and was dead somewhere. After telling myself I'd survive losing him and I was also being utterly ridiculous, I texted "Did we have a date at 1?" and waited for a message back that didn't come.

That's when I noticed that my birdfeeder had … a pair of blue tits! So far it's been mostly sparrows and one timid great tit (a young one so that's why; he hasn't learned yet). Blue tits! Cool!

My phone rang. My friend wondering why I wasn't meeting him in the parking lot. I hadn't got a text, I said, but I'm on my way. That was 1:04 pm.

Later on Sunday, I got my missing texts. The delayed text from my friend let me see the birds. Texts sent Friday from my team leader also showed up. All was well.

I just really need to stop assuming the worst. Or assuming at all.


A tit is what the bird is called in Europe. The North American cousin is called a chickadee. But saying great tit is great fun, ain't it. ;-)

Also, here's a video that explains fractals the way I wanted to explain it in my last post. :-)

Lush

In school we learned that what makes a rain forest a huge and dense forest is, well, the rain. Alaska actually advertises its soggy and mossy pine forests as northern rain forests. I've wondered why Norway doesn't do the same. In the summer, this wet country is as lush as a tropical rain forest. Anywhere from 18 to 24 hours of daylight in the middle of summer and a lot of rain makes everything grow incredibly fast. We don't have the tall, dense canopies of the tropics; our denseness tends to be closer to the ground. But the huge number of trees, the millions of leaves, create a solid green along roads, up mountainsides, across vistas, and around my local pond.

Summer where I live has been cool and wet. Nature seems not to care. The moment the ground thaws and temperatures stay somewhere above 10 C, stuff grows. Norwegians with lawns find themselves a bit frustrated: All the rain makes the lawns grow fast, but all the rain makes it impossible to mow said lawn. What we learned early in school about plants thriving on sunlight and water is never clearer than when looking at the lushness of my local pond.

The combination of blue and green, of water and leaves, is always attractive and calming to humans. Never more so during an undisturbed moment, viewed through thick foliage on a late summer's day.

A lush spot in my local pond, Ortuvann

A lush spot in my local pond, Ortuvann

Heralds

Gulls herald spring for me. They head for open sea during winter, and when the snow disappears from the land in April, they come back and start screeching at each other at 4 am in the morning. I'm one of the few people who can sleep through that racket, so I welcome the noise.  Gulls, in spite of their seemingly huge numbers, have become a protected species in Norway. They've lost their habitat by the ocean, and come into cities to build nests on our office buildings which often have gray gravel on the flat roofs and provide perfect camouflage for baby birds. The roofs of my apartment buildings are black asphalt but the gulls build their bowls of sticks there, too.

Since April, I've seen a gull perched on the corner of the neighboring building every morning, as I go to shut my bedroom window (yes, I have the Norwegian habit of sleeping with an open window). Often the gull starts calling in a voice meant to carry across the Atlantic. I have been aware of gulls on the roof all spring and summer. Until today.

This morning, the bird with a 360 degree of my co-op was a crow. Crows are as big as common gulls but this one seemed even bigger. And with its dark coloring it was a startling contrast to the morning view I've had until now.

I knew it wouldn't be sitting there if the gulls still had flightless young on the roof. The lack of any calling from any gull confirmed that there was nothing to protect from crows (or magpies) any more.

A city girl takes her nature where she finds it, fascinated by and grateful for the life that insists on existing in an urban setting, and delighting in still discovering subtle changes as the days move on.

The hectic growth season of summer is over, heralded by a hooded crow.

Junior update

Junior Gull has been spotted again, in good health and twice as big since last we saw the little one. An adolescent magpie was hanging out on the balcony outside my office window, and an adult gull was quite upset at the corvid's presence. A behavior the gull would have only if it had babies.

Maybe Junior is fine after all?

I assume so. A gull chick twice as big as Junior was when last seen (a week ago) was out on the mossy roof, oblivious to its parent's worry.

So Junior's grown a mile or that's another gull chick.

Whatever. There's a baby out there to watch!

They do blend in with the gravel roofing

They do blend in with the gravel roofing

Missing: Junior Gull

"Somebody needs to go check."
"Janitor?"
"He's on vacation. I'll do it."

I learned that one of my co-workers gets into take-charge mode when it's about someone's life; in this case, a gull chick.

I took a picture of Junior just the other day from my side of the building. This afternoon, one of the girls next to the window noticed an adult gull gave Junior a vicious peck. It looked like Junior may be hurt.

The cause of drama at the office

The cause of drama at the office

Curiosity and compassion got the better of the co-worker who saw the peck and the take-charge one sitting next to her. They went out the emergency exit, onto the balcony surrounding our building. We happen to have the roof of the shopping center flush with our second floor balcony, a roof covered in gray gravel and perfect for nesting gulls. And right on the other side of our balcony, on the roof, next to a plank a roof worker had left, was where Junior was last seen.

At one point, eight co-workers were all crowding at the window, searching for the little bird, concerned but also knowing that every year there are chicks that don't make it.

"The janitor's found dead bodies on the roof before."

Poor janitor. Not the most pleasant part of his job, cleaning up after the nesting season.

My two co-workers out on the balcony got the gulls screaming at them, but fortunately were not dive-bombed. Also: No Junior. They couldn't see Junior anywhere.

Junior is missing.

Operating systems: Organic versus digital showdown

Prologue: On the way home from a midnight birdwatching session, I saw two tawny owls. First one by the side of road, and another atop a lamp post. Beautiful birds, calmly staring back at me. The myth is that old dogs can't learn new tricks. The truth is, we can, but we might need a bit more coaxing. And coffee.

Last year, I was forced to switch jobs and with that, learn a whole new set of skills. I was wondering how my then 53-year-old brain would handle it. Turns out, it handled it just like a 23-year-old brain would: With patience, notes, and lots of coffee and candy. Because heavy-duty learning is exhausting! I hadn't realized that. I just thought you're tired in college because of not enough sleep or something. Turns out you're tired because learning several new things every single day is like running a marathon every single day—but brains need more energy and more recovery time than bodies do.

The brain marathon hasn't ended. There's always something new to learn, previous knowledge to hone and the teaching of others. Like when we got the Windows 7 update at work this past week.

I spent the better part of Wednesday, tweaking settings for myself and a couple of co-workers, trying stuff first then guiding them through the new things. My fearlessness is driven by satisfying my curiosity. The saying goes, "Curiosity killed the cat. Satisfaction brought it back."

At home, where I use Apple products, I happily updated both OS X and iOS with my usual trust and abandonment. Over 20 years of reliable updates will do that.

Then I plugged in my Samsung camera to unload photos, and had a firmware update to do there. Which I've done before, too.

But the biggy was the OS update to Lollilop on my Android phone. I found myself dealing with an operating system and world I wasn't familiar with, and on a device I did not want to brick. So while I searched for information on the update, I wondered whether or not to just ignore it or at least join an Android forum somewhere. Turns out you can't ignore the Android update (you can, but only for a maximum of 3 hours at a time, not forever), and the Android world is so full of different phones, carriers and versions that I could see joining a forum might be a waste of time, not an aid.

Eventually I found a way to back up my Galaxy Note 3 (the app SmartSwitch), and after having read a few posts on what others had experienced, I made a second double coffee for myself and updated my phone. It actually went without a hitch. Success! Whew! Another win for this middle-aged woman.

We were talking about this at work, about how we who entered the work force in the 80's will be the first generation of seniors not baffled by computers and therefore will not be thwarted by technology; we already netbank. But that said, I can see that being able to handle updates myself is and will be a huge advantage. And perhaps a way to keep my brain active.

Charcoal drawing of an owl that I bought

Charcoal drawing of an owl that I bought

Epilogue: An artist was working on a charcoal drawing. From where I was sitting, the owl was looking straight at me, not unpleasantly, but rather like an invitation. In Celtic myth, the owl represents the old woman, the wise crone, the future for us post-menopausal women. Perhaps wisdom is exactly what is needed for updating computers. I will ask the owl later. I am buying that picture.