Monday, January 19, 2015

Surviving Stupidity - Part 3

Wisdom is the reward for surviving our own stupidity
~Brian RathboneRegent
Twenty-five years ago I'd never ridden on a motorcycle. Never wanted to, for that matter. Then into my life came a man who did like to ride motorcycles. He bought a new one and I discovered I enjoyed being carried along on what I came to feel was the "catbird seat."  Right, left, front and overhead, nothing escaped my vision. 

He'd come home from work on a warm summer evening and ask, "Want to go for a cool-out ride?" Sure, why not? I'd pack some sandwiches and a couple of beers and off we'd go, usually out of town and away from traffic. Back roads carried us for an hour or so and then we'd stop and have our picnic. 

You do not need a therapist if you own a motorcycle, 
any kind of motorcycle!
~Dan Aykroyd

Soon we two were taking longer and longer bike trips. At this time there were no laws about wearing helmets and ... we didn't. I never thought about it. Goggles or glasses to ward off the wind and keep the bugs out of our eyes, yes, but no helmets.

The inanity of not wearing helmets never crossed my mind. I felt secure on my perch and supremely confident in my partner's ability to keep us upright. 

We took a 600-mile trip out of state and when we returned to our home city we were stopped by the police because we weren't wearing helmets. As it happened, in the three weeks we'd been gone our state had passed a helmet law. We were given a warning and bought helmets the next day.

So, we don't sound so stupid, right?

However, later on, and maybe because the helmet made me feel so very safe, I'd actually fall asleep on the back of the bike as we traveled long, straight country roads or on the freeways at over 80 mph! Supremely confident in my partner's ability, as always. 

Now when we talk about those days ... those rash, caution-to-the-wind times of 80 mph-plus motorcycle rides, we both wonder, "What were we thinking???" 

Motorcycle drawing Wikimedia Commons Public Domain

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Live Better, Help Often, Wonder More*

Well, now, that was fun! Portland Sunday Assembly on January 11, 2015. 

Sunday morning I readied myself to attend my first Sunday Assembly; then decided "no," then decided "yes." I'm so glad I chose "yes." 

Friendly, open and honest faces greeted me at the door. The positive energy from the 150 or so in the room was palpable. 

After a short welcome message to all, two musicians, tagging themselves as the "Crazed Weasels," played a couple of sing-along folks songs on banjo and guitar. That definitely got the juices flowing. 

A young man read a beautiful poem he'd written, another gentleman spoke for a few moments about where his life had been going (not good) and how his life has been changing (for the better). 

The main speaker was Vicki Reitenhauer, a professor at Portland State University. She teaches courses in the Women, Gender and Sexuality program at PSU. Dr. Reitenhauer spoke eloquently and informatively. 

Then, more music by the "Crazed Weasels," a couple of minutes of silence and, for those who wanted to have lunch (which I did), down one floor to McMenamin's Ringler's Pub. 

I sat with three vivacious women of varied ages and occupations. We found it easy to talk and share, opine and discuss. Perfect! 

The fish and chips: not bad either! 

*Motto of the global Sunday Assembly

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Finding Her Here

No need to post any introduction to this poem by Jayne Relaford Brown. Those who know me well will understand why and how it touches me and the reason I chose to print it here, today, the first day of my own "new year." 
Finding Her Here
I am becoming the woman I’ve wanted,
grey at the temples, soft body, delighted,
cracked up by life
with a laugh that’s known bitter
but, past it, got better,
knows she’s a survivor—
that whatever comes,
she can outlast it.
I am becoming a deep
 weathered basket.
I am becoming the woman I’ve longed for,
the motherly lover
with arms strong and tender,
the growing up daughter
who blushes surprises.
I am becoming full moons
and sunrises.

I find her becoming,
this woman I’ve wanted,
who knows she’ll encompass,
who knows she’s sufficient,
knows where she’s going
and travels with passion.
Who remembers she’s precious,
but knows she’s not scarce—
            who knows she has plenty,
plenty to share.

Brown, Jayne Relaford. “Finding Her Here.”  I Am Becoming the Woman I’ve Wanted. Ed. Sandra Haldeman Martz. Ca: Paper-Mache Press, 1994. 1.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Live Better Eclectically

File:The Friends Stage cropped.jpg

For quite a while now I've been feeling the need to expand my "friend base" and delve into new social areas. 

I'm very fortunate in that I have many fine, caring, intelligent, active and informed friends. We gather one or two or five or six at a time. These gatherings usually involve a bottle or two of wine and some potluck food. What they "involve" on a deeper level is good conversation and the further cementing of our friendships. 

I'm also more than fortunate, I am blessed, to have two sons and daughters-in-law who fill my heart with joy and spark my mind with a myriad of things to think about, talk about and share (of course, their busy lives mean this doesn't happen near enough for me!). 

So, it's not that I lack mental stimulation. I've simply decided it's time to step into some new arenas.   

One of those "new arenas" is Sunday Assembly Portland. They meet regularly every second Sunday at McMenamin's Lola's Room in downtown Portland. After the meeting many attendees stay for conversation and lunch. There are also smaller, more spontaneous gatherings during the month (hiking, playing games, etc).
I'll be experiencing my first Sunday Assembly this coming Sunday. I look forward to meeting new people, hearing their thoughts, their ideas. As time goes on, my hope is I will add to my eclectic mixture of acquaintances and forge new friendships.  

                            What is wanted is not the will to believe, 
but the will to find out, 
which is the exact opposite. 
~ Bertrand Russell

As a secular humanist, Sunday Assembly's doctrine appeals to me. Following is information from the Web site(s):  

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Meaty and Minimal Conversation

All words are pegs to hang ideas on.
~Henry Ward Beecher-1813-1887 – American politician

A writer friend and I had dinner together Sunday evening—a mellow, slow, relaxing dinner, albeit in a busy, bustling restaurant. In the process of easy and light conversation, my friend said one of her old and dear acquaintances didn’t care to engage in small talk, refusing to participate in such. As a result, long, uncomfortable silences ensue once the deemed “important stuff” receives its coverage.

That comment sent us on a round of discussion about just what constituted “small talk,” and whether it had a place in otherwise intelligent conversations. Our conclusion: yes, small talk is an imperative part of civilized communication.

A casual nod of acknowledgment to those we meet as we move through the day; a “Hi, how are you doing?” or a few minutes of light conversation with a neighbor; inquiring as to how a friend's day is going, all connect us to our world. "Small talk” does not have to be small-minded talk.

Good friends certainly have every reason to engage in a smattering of small talk -- catching up on the latest news in their lives and even a bit of that old “talk about the weather.” In congenial conversations, this talk can be interspersed with other, deeper communication. Of course, these same good friends acknowledge and appreciate some contemplative silence; there's no need for continual chatter. 

As with the comfortable satiation my friend and I received from our dinner, a minimal helping of small talk often serves to enhance meatier conversation.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Authentic Writing & Living

Author Kim Severson states if a writer wants to “…talk about life lessons, [she has] to write about why [she] needed the lessons, then it’s like unraveling a sweater. If you’re going to be honest and tell your story, there’s just no other way than to do it as authentically as you can.”

As a teen no one knew how self-conscious I felt about almost every aspect of myself. The self-consciousness translated into aloofness. I comported myself, or tried to, as though I had “it” all together and (I now realize) even presented a haughty demeanor—a vicious circle for a young girl who desperately needed to be liked for who she was.

I had a physically present but usually emotionally distant father. When he became emotionally “present” it was most often in a verbally contentious (though not abusive) manner. I seldom discussed personal problems with my mother as I knew how desperately she needed her world to be (or appear to be) ever loving, peaceful and calm.

Maybe that’s part of the reason I’ve had difficulty opening up and sharing my