Fact or Fiction?

You’ll see on my Goodread’s sidebar that I have several books on my “reading” shelf and they are a mix of Fact (London: A Biography) and Fiction (The Fiery Cross).  Of course those two aren’t that different — one reason I enjoy historic fiction is that I’m learning about history at the same time as I’m enjoying the story about people living during that historic time.  I enjoy mixing it up — and that’s one reason I joined Ann Patchett’s Parnassus bookstore’s First Edition club.  (I’m in Warwick’s First Edition Club as well, but it almost always features fiction, whereas Parnassus mixes it up.

The Parnassus First Edition monthly selection a few month’s ago was In The Kingdom of Ice: The Grand And Terrible Polar Voyage.  I have exactly no interest in ice or the North Pole or voyages thereto, or even the 1880s time period.  So never would I have picked up that book to read.  But dutifully, and trusting Ann’s judgment, I opened to page one and started reading and soon was enthralled by the courage and preparation and adventurous spirit and attitude of those brave men who went forth to find a sea passage to the North Pole and wound up in a place where Northern Siberia — 1,000 miles away — looked like heaven on earth.  In fact I sometimes pick up non-fiction books more often just to try to up our average, after reading that in general after graduation adults read only two non-fiction books for the rest of their lives!!!  Seriously?  Two?  There is so much to learn, and it’s so much fun doing it, I can’t imagine missing out on all the wonderful non-fiction that’s right at our fingertips, thoroughly researched and beautifully written words of wisdom and insight and knowledge.

But after a non-fiction I’m always ready to just have fun with or be scared by someone’s imagination by digging into a good novel.  I’m glad I can move between the two without having to read just one and not the other.  The answer to the Daily Prompt for me, then, is Fact AND Fiction … one right after the other, learning and imagining and enjoying them all!


Mouths Wide Shut … Unless You’ve Got A Hot French Fry Handy

All memory is faulty, so I’m sure I didn’t really eat only french fries as a child … but it sure seems like I did.  Mashed potatoes (my daughter’s favorite) are just a waste of a good fry, in my humble opinion.  And while I do like a good baked potato with a steak or, now, even on its own, there’s still part of me that regrets even as I’m enjoying it that it’s been baked and not cut up and fried.  I definitely qualify to write about today’s Daily Prompt, on picky eaters.

Endless French Fries

Endless French Fries

I’d order a hamburger but eat only the fries.  I skipped breakfast, and I had a sandwich and chips for lunch at school, but dinner almost every night featured crispy, hot, home-made French Fries.  I didn’t like pizza, or Mexican food, or Chinese food, or pretty much anything else and frankly I wasn’t exposed to many types of food growing up in a small East Texas town where it made big news when the IHOP opened.

And my Mother tried.  One day she cut up a cantaloupe and said I couldn’t move from the table until I ate it.

Cantaloupe

Cantaloupe

So I sat.  And sat.  And sat.  Absolutely 100% refusing to touch the thing, even if it meant I never moved from my seat.  It was the one time my stubbornness outlasted my Mom’s, because I finally was able to get up without taking one bite.

Rebellious child refusing to eat

Her next tactic was to fry me so many fries that I’d eat my fill and get so sick of fries that I’d turn to something else.  She bet me that I she could fix more french fries than I could eat.  At first I was in heaven.  Crisp, hot, salted, beautiful french fries to my heart’s delight.  But after I went through the first mountain of fries and looked to my left through the pass through to the kitchen to see my Mom standing at the stove, a new batch frying, and an almost full sack of potatoes still to her left, waiting to be peeled, I admitted defeat.  I could not, in fact, eat french fries non-stop as fast as she could peel and fry them.  But eating until I made myself sick did not, unfortunately, cure me of my obsession.

I’d go out with my friends to the pizza parlor and sit while they ate.  I’d go with my family to the Mexican restaurant and drink water while they ate.  I was actually quite skinny despite the pounds of potatoes because I hardly ate anything else.  One would think I’d venture to taste a bite of something, out of sheer boredom if nothing else.  But no.  I have no idea what I was thinking (or not, as the case may be).

In college I didn’t buy the Meal Plan even though not buying it meant I ate every meal out at a restaurant or in my room by myself.  I had a routine.  Wednesday night was 3C BBQ, barbecue brisket sandwich with fries (yes, I did eat barbecue brisket sandwiches, often at Dubs Barbecue in Tyler, Texas where we sat in wooden school desks with sawdust on the floor and it was heavenly).  I don’t remember the other nights exactly, but it was a rotation of hamburgers and turkey sandwiches and spaghetti.  I missed out on a lot of my college experience and spending time with my friends by not venturing downstairs in my dorm to the cafeteria.  You’d think I’d have at least tried if for that reason, if nothing else.  But I didn’t mind eating by myself, as long as I had a book handy (and I always did).

I eventually expanded to club sandwiches and, finally, pizza and a few other basic food groups, but still nothing one might consider healthy.  Then I moved to California.  Then I met my health-nut, eat-anything husband.  And while I wouldn’t venture to say I’m adventurous in my food choices, nor am I someone who appreciates good food (other than the boiled and triple fried fries I was served in Scotland that were the most amazing fries I’ve ever had in my life and that, as you now know, is saying A LOT), I have expanded my dining options.

Every morning I have breakfast, and for breakfast every morning I have a smoothie with 4 oz of cranberry or pomegranate juice, 2 leaves of kale, 1 carrot, 1 celery stalk, 1/3rd of a cucumber, with some frozen blueberries, strawberries and pineapple thrown in, along with Dr. Lipman’s protein powder.

My breakfast!

My breakfast!

And I limit my fries to once a week and sometimes not even that — not even keeping count just not needing or craving them unless it’s the type of place where you just know you’re going to get a good fry.  I eat spinach salads with strawberries and goat cheese and walnuts and balsamic vinegar and love it.  I had the Restaurant Week special a Puesto in The Headquarters on Friday — a Mexican fruit bowl with two fancy chicken tacos and grilled corn — and raved about it all day.  Sometimes I even try a bite of fish!  But never shellfish.  I can’t eat anything that still looks like the animal it once was because I can’t bear to think about an animal being killed so I can eat it, but boneless skinless chicken breast seems innocuous enough as long as I don’t think too hard about it.  OK I guess that’s another picky food quirk still in my quiver but I’m definitely making progress!


Time sheets

I searched on Google Images for a photograph to illustrate the bane of my existence.  (As an aside, vocabulary.com explains my use of the phrase perfectly: “The noun bane refers to anything that is a cause of harm, ruin, or death. But we often use it for things that aren’t that bad, just feel like it. …The source of this word is Middle and Old English bana, meaning “destroyer, murderer.” … there’s something deliciously archaic about the word bane. It conjures up villages preyed upon by dragons, or witches adding one bane or another to a steaming kettle.”  YES, that’s it, I feel preyed upon by dragons, not by hearing “bane” but by Time Sheets!)

There is no image.  There’s some time sheet prepared by a truck driver noting in what location he/she was when he/she stopped for a meal and I’m sure that’s just as bad in its own way to have to fill out, but mine requires accounting for my day in six-minute increments and describing those six+ minutes in a way that conveys with understanding the work and effort that went into the time, so that the person reading it understands why they should pay an ungodly amount of money for me to have spent my time doing as described.

It’s a horrible system.  When I first started practicing law my firm billed by the hour, at a flat rate, and things were so much easier.  (And the most urgent requests we got were by fax, and that was relatively rare, but that’s another story.)  But clients started wanting a more detailed breakdown, and they wanted to pay junior associates less than senior associates and less than junior partners and less than senior partners so everything was categorized and broken down ultimately into these six-minute increments that I spend hours compiling each day.

It’s not so bad if you have one major task for the day, but my typical day is responding to an email on one project when I’m interrupted by a phone call on a different project and then I remember I was supposed to answer a question from yesterday on a third project and then an associate drops by my office with a question and then it’s time to leave for my meeting … and have to remember “exactly how much time did I spend on that email for project #1 before I was interrupted by the phone call for project #2?” and anyway I don’t have time to write it down because I’m driving to my meeting and by the time I’m back I’ll be completely engulfed in doushing some other fire… hence my hatred of time sheets.

I would love it if my firm would move to a retainer system or a contingency system or any system other than this one.  But for now I’m stuck, and while I’d rather be drafting a blog post and playing around with widgets and telling you all about my trip to Scotland and, before that, the trip to Dordogne way back in October that I have yet to describe, instead I’ll be spending this gorgeous Saturday finishing up last week’s time sheets that I couldn’t bare to complete after an exhausting day of work.

But in my Mindfulness effort I will try to make the best of each moment of completing those damn things and then hopefully find some way to get them done more efficiently next time.  Until next time, then … go out and make it a great day!


10 Minute Challenge

Protecting Myself

Protecting Myself

Go!  But my mind is blank.  Where so many thoughts were only moments ago the immediate pressure to write something NOW for 10 minutes straight has pushed all thought to some hidden recess where it remains out of sight behind a blank wall. It’s getting past that wall — of fear, mainly, of one sort of another — that is the trick of writing something authentic, interesting, meaningful.  And it’s getting past that wall, that I myself, or some part of me, erected, that’s the very hardest thing for me to do.  Even harder than “finding the time” to write.

Time Flies

Time Flies

Where does time go?  It’s always here, always the same, but despite my best intentions I manage to waste plenty of it.  I moved a few months ago to a home that’s 30 minutes closer to my office, thus saving myself at least an hour a day in commuting.  But it isn’t as if I’m an hour more productive, or I’ve “found” an hour that I can now use for my writing, or my errands, or anything else.  Sure I love my new, shorter commute.  But as to what I’ve done with my extra time, I couldn’t begin to tell you.  Despite multiple organizational tools I haven’t managed to better organize myself.  I do make lists to check off, and I remind myself to “Be Mindful” and “Live in the Moment” but so far none of that has helped.  What do you do to make the most of your day?  The most of your life?  That’s what most of us want, isn’t it?  To feel as if we’ve lived the best life we can.  For me, it’s wanting to do God’s will.  To use the talents I’ve been given, whatever those are, to their best purpose.

I watch my newly hatched adult children as they make their way into the world, struggling to know what it is they should be doing, and I cannot help because here I am 30+ years their senior and still struggling with the very same thing.  I have no words of wisdom for them.  Well, that doesn’t stop my from trying to give advice, but I know how easy it is to give advice, and even how easy it is to hear what you know must be good advice and have every intention of living by it but somehow despite those good intentions letting life slip on by without somehow managing to live it the way you really, really intend to live it.  Just making it through the day and giving each moment what you can, even though sometimes you don’t have much at all to give.

Advice

That’s my 10 minutes.  Guess some words escaped over the wall and made it into writing, after all!



I Am Lola Mae’s Granddaughter…

We all want to be known, yet put up walls and false faces and often fool even ourselves.  We want to be known but, apparently, we want to make you work at it.

Hiding Our Authentic Self

Hiding Our Authentic Self

Well, in the next four minutes I’ll do my best to show you Who I Am.  Because that’s the topic of today’s Daily Prompt.

I’m Lola Mae Smith’s granddaughter, and Mama Smith’s great-granddaughter — two salt of the earth, strong women who made much with little, who loved unconditionally, and who put their faith in God and did their best to make this earth a better place for everyone whose path they crossed, and I’m proud to carry on their line.  But talking about them is a very roundabout way of telling you about me, and since I only have four minutes I’ll try something more direct.

After spending some time with a lovely group of ladies seeking to know themselves more fully, I’ve learned that I’m a Six on the Enneagram, with a strong Seven wing.  Knowing someone’s Enneagram type is: (i) a little “woo-woo” for someone, like me, with a practical bent and from East Texas, but also (ii) very informative.  Just those four words: “I’m a __[fill in the blank with your number, from One to Nine)” tells you most of what you need to know about a person — how they approach a problem, why they do those things that irritate you, and how best to reach to their core.  The Six Type is, to quote from one apt description, “full of contradictions,” because our almost constant anxiety has us bouncing from one psychological state to another and, to allay our anxiety, we are loyal to a fault to what feels like a solid structure or belief on which to rely.  Here’s a link to a more thorough description of a Six.  And my Seven wing has me easily bored.  So between wanting to bounce around due to anxiety (Six) and wanting to bounce around due to boredom (Seven) … I’m perhaps a tad unstable.

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Or, if you learn more from natal charts, I’m a double Scorpio (both my Sun and Moon were in Scorpio when I was born).  Which means I really, really love learning and and control.  Emotionally, intense is the operative word. Along with, need I say it again (no, at least the folks who know me don’t need to hear it said), I need to be in control.  So I struggle just a bit with trying to give up control and to live in the moment.  But I’m really, really trying!

My horoscope symbol

My horoscope symbol

I’m a loyal Texan who has lived the past 23 years in Southern California.  I’m such a good daughter of my Lone Star State, in fact, that my children — both born and raised in California — considered themselves Texans for years.

I grew up in a small conservative East Texas town full of lakes and rolling hills and pine trees and rose bushes and Southern Baptist churches, and spent most of my time not in school in some activity at church or with my nose in a book. I’ve wanted to live in Europe for as long as I can remember, and I love history and museums and learning about almost anything.

The Lone Star State

The Lone Star State

I love to read.  I read while I get dressed, while I eat, while I wait for my twitter feed to load, before bed, any spare minute I can find. And I write.  I’d love to write a book others would love to read.  To bring to life another world into which some other little girl who is stuck in a small little town can escape.

Surrounded by Books

Surrounded by Books

I’m a Mother who loves my children with all my heart and who does too much of some things for them and too little of other things.  I’d love a do-over — for them to shrink down to their baby selves again so I could just pour love into them and do all the things I now know would have been better to do.  But they are adults now and what’s done is done and all I can do is just the best I can, now.

Me and my babies

I’m a wife to an amazing husband who patiently reads my blogs and supports me and encourages me and loves me despite the craziness that I am.  He’s visionary and creative and romantic and I am incredibly lucky to have him in my life.

Jack, contemplating life

Jack, contemplating life

Well, my four minutes is almost up and I haven’t yet told you something incredibly important — I love God and am a disciple of Christ and want more than anything to be more like Him.  More loving, more self-less, more patient and kind.  I need lots and lots of practice.  And Jesus is there, loving me, no matter what, along the way.

Jesus

Jesus

That’s it, my four minutes is up.  Now, tell me all about YOU!



Scotland Remains United with England, Wales and Northern Ireland

After an historic vote, with the voting age lowered so more Scots could have their voices heard, 55% of Scots voted to stay United, against the 45% that voted for Independence.  Almost 85% of eligible voters turned out — an amazing result I wish we could replicate in our upcoming (albeit less historic) elections.  And if only more issues of this importance were decided by free and independent votes at a ballot box rather than guns, knives, bombs and terrorism.  In our recent visit to Scotland most folks we met said the vote would fail, and that the majority of Scots are happy being part of the UK and/or the headaches and costs of separation were enough to lead to a “No” vote, so I’m not surprised by the outcome, and I think the effort of having the campaign and vote by itself has helped lead to changes that will be better for all.  Congrats to our friends across the ocean for showing how it can and should be done!


600 Seconds to Write

Perfect … read my PostaDay prompt at exactly 6:00 a.m. therefore it will be easy to write for 10 minutes.  Right?  Somehow though it should make absolutely no difference starting at a round number — especially at an hour on the dot — seems organized and round and the perfect jumping off place from which to dive into a project.  Much better than 6:03.

Now that we have that established, what exactly will I write about during my 10 devoted minutes?  Today is Scotland’s Day of Destiny, hence an ideal choice.  Certainly sounds important, and, in fact, it is.  What a difference between the UK and Russia.  On one hand, we have a rather civilized vote where the people who live in the country will decide whether they want to go it alone, as an independent nation, or stay consciously joined as part of the United Kingdom.  Things seem to work somewhat different in other countries which decide to consider a split.  No bloodshed in Scotland, no need for monitors for fear of cheating at the polls.

Of course it was much different years ago, when battles between the English and Scots were rampant.  So perhaps there is hope for other countries, as well.

Jack and I visited Scotland for the first time in June, and loved it much more than we had anticipated.  The literary history and culture of Edinburgh spoke to me.  For Jack, it was the Scottish people he enjoyed the most.  The Royal Mile was packed with tourists but it managed to maintain its ancient charms nonetheless.  The first morning I ran out our door when I heard the bagpipes playing — I wouldn’t want to miss that once-in-a-lifetime experience!  Of course after a day I realized it was more like once-an-hour, as the type of Scotland experience the tourists expect is broadly displayed, especially on the Royal Mile, not wanting to miss an opportunity to take in some tourist dollars.  And the number of pubs releasing those who had way too much to drink onto the cobblestone streets was a little distressing.  Really, how many pubs does one city need?  But the City is magical and charming and a very … whoops, my 10 minutes is up!


Blogging 101: Intro to A Brave New World

OK, it isn’t completely new.  I started my blog last year, or even the year before.  First, to write about my vacation.  Then, one early morning when I was still doing Kundalini Yoga and working on Chakra 5 the Voice the thought that I wanted to do things that enriched my life popped into my head.  And it had nothing to do with travel.  Or, at least (since travel can be enriching) it wasn’t limited to only travel.  So I started An Enriching Life.  Now I’m the proud owner of two blogs, both of which sit unused most of the year.  Until I find spurts of energy or inspiration, like now!

This is me, with my husband, taking our tourist shot of the Prime Meridian on our vacation to the UK this summer …

Straddling the Eastern and Western Hemispheres in Greenwich, UK

Straddling the Eastern and Western Hemispheres in Greenwich, UK

I love, adore, am passionate about, dream of Europe.  Always have, presumably always will.  When I was dating my husband I went with him on lots of trips to the Tropics (his dream locale).  As soon as we married, I declared it my turn and ever since we’ve been getting to Europe as often a I can get us there.  Which is never often enough but so much more than I ever dreamed would be possible.

I love planning the trips almost as much as being there.  The research, the finding little out-of-the-way “secret” places to visit, the days on which special admissions may be had … I once considered becoming a Travel Agent and now I don’t know why I never did.  And I love to read, research, and write.  My husband encouraged me to start a blog and it seemed the perfect way to share our trip with our friends and family — I could just direct them to my blog and everyone could live vicariously through me.  But it’s time consuming to upload the photos and remember exactly what we did when, especially when it’s months afterward before I get around to finding time to blog.  And so my travel blog is very light on postings.

Despite not posting much in my one blog, I had the brilliant idea of starting a second blog, An Enriching Life, so I could expand past travel entries into spirituality and other topics that have enriched my life and that I want to share with others.  So now I have two blogs and still very few posts, and have yet to master the most basic blogging tools.  But I’m persistent if nothing else so will try Blogging 101 and see if that is the secret ingredient I’ve been missing all this time.

My goal — that a year from now I can look back at a long list of blog posts that get better as they go along, that have more variety and more use of the tools offered by WordPress and more understanding of what makes a blog the best it can be.

This is me:  I spend most of my day in a large, international law office practicing Land Use /Environmental Law.  For 23 years I’ve been doing that.  So if you’d like to hear about the California Environmental Quality Act or in general about land use issues in San Diego, I can talk for hours.  About San Diego politics.  CEQA.  404 permits.  The RWQCB storm water permit.  Lots of other acronyms.  But that’s not what I hope to do on this blog … in fact I hope to talk about almost anything but that.

Maybe my kids?  Here’s my recent college grad son, contemplating life as he gazes over the Pacific.

Peace in the Pacific

Peace in the Pacific

And my daughter, with her roommate Freshman year:

With the roommie, freshman year

With the roommie, freshman year my step kids:

And my step-daughter, with her Dad:

Waitin' on the train, with Dad

Waitin’ on the train, with Dad

And my step-son (Dad again):

Sunset

Or my amazing husband, who runs one company and is starting a second one to bring a broader spectrum of LED lights to the agricultural market so each of us can grow more of our own food, indoors, year-round.

So hard to decide.  So much to write.  So little time.  Come along with me, and let’s work together to find An Enriching Life.