Start Your Engines

Jump Start

Okay, friends. It's Monday. Time to . . . 

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But. You know what? 

This week? I kinda . . . got pretty much nothin'. 

(In fact, I could use a good jump start myself.)

So while I'm usually . . . let's just say. . . a lot more together.  This week? Well. This week I'm merely attempting to cobble things together as best I can and hope for the best.

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"We have not journeyed all this way across the centuries, across the oceans, across the mountains, across the prairies, because we are made of sugar candy."
            -- Winston Churchill to the Canadian House of Commons, December 30, 1941

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Yes. We're a tough bunch of badasses. Non?

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But . . . 

Try as I might . . . to NOT pay attention to the news this week (because it's only polling guesses - and we know how unreliable and meaningless THAT is) . . . I failed Yesterday morning I caved.
I looked at the headlines. 

Mistake. MISTAKE!
DANGER, WILL ROBINSON!!!!
(May Day! May Day!)

I death-spriraled myself into a near-catatonic state.
(And it was especially dangerous because it was also snowing at the time.)
I ended up drinking too much coffee, too -- with no food to balance it out. So there I was. Jittery. Depressed. Deep in full-on Election Despair. And looking forward to my pre-dinner cocktail . . . at 10:30 am. (And even factoring in the time change, that is Never Good.)

Things were looking Very Bleak, Indeed.

Eventually, I hauled my (very sorry) ass up to my meditation cushion . . . and I listened to this. (Which is not a meditation at all, but a talk.) It's about facing fear with compassion. By Elizabeth Gilbert. (Yeah. That Elizabeth Gilbert.) And, friends? It helped. In fact, it made me cry. Her talk is about facing fear with compassion . . . for yourSELF. Her voice is soothing and reassuring, full of love. She quotes Winston Churchill (the quote I included above). I'm glad I listened.

I'm telling you about this . . . 
because maybe you found yourself in similar dire straits over the weekend.
Or maybe you'll find yourself there today.
Or tomorrow.
And maybe it will help you, too.
(So click in to that link if you need a boost.)

I'm feeling better now.
(Although it wouldn't take much to set me off again.)

Let's just hang in there and support each other.

Okay?

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One more thing. . .

I found this article helpful for some much-needed perspective when it comes to interpreting election results as they filter in. We aren't likely going to know the results on November 3 (unfortunately). I know you know this . . . but the article brings provides some much-needed grounding, and a sense of what we may experience.

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Hang in there, everyone.

Just. . . hang in there.


Now, More Than Ever

. . . it's time to . . . 

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On Mondays I share a few tidbits and miscellaneous things I discovered over the weekend. A little of this, some of that. Things to amuse, amaze, entertain, or inform. Maybe even something to rev you up!

This week . . . we're down to the final week before the election. Tensions are high. Overwhelm is everywhere. Weariness is dragging us down. I don't know how you're faring, but I . . . kinda can't stand it. So this weekend, I thought a lot about things I can to do to get through this week with (what remains of) my mental and emotional health intact. It's not so much about starting our engines as keeping them humming this week!

So. Let's get to it.

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"If it's out of your hands, it deserves freedom from your mind, too."
            --- Ivan Nuru

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Oh, Ivan. What a great quote! Wise words, for sure. But . . . so much easier to say than to do.

The thing is, though . . . most of us have already made up our mind regarding who to vote for in this election. Shoot . . . a lot of us have already voted!

So we've done what we can.
It's out of our hands.
Now . . . we need to free our minds.

Keeping up with the news this week? Not gonna help you! Last March, Lori Gottlieb of the Atlantic said, "Bingeing on up-to-the-minute news is is like stress-eating -- it's bloating our minds with unhealthy foods that will make us sick." So now is the time to . . . walk away from the news. Stop the doomscrolling. The latest Trump outrage or poll result or newest endorsement will not make you feel any better -- and it won't give you that certainty we're all craving right now.

What to do instead?

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Get outside!

According to a Cornell study earlier this year (pre-pandemic even), just 10 minutes in a natural setting can help people feel happier and decrease the effects of both physical and mental stress.

10 minutes!

So. Take a lot of outside breaks this week. (Maybe every time you feel the urge to check the latest headlines?) Go for a walk around the block. Plant some bulbs in your garden. Look around for the prettiest leaf you can find. Sit on your patio and watch the birds. Anything. Just get yourself outside -- every day!

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Meditate!

Whatever that means to you. It doesn't mean you need to sit down on a cushion with your legs crossed. (Although that's a fine way to meditate!) Maybe your version of meditation is . . . knitting. Maybe it's walking. Maybe it's praying. Maybe it's mixing cookies. Maybe it's winding yarn. Meditation . . . is really any way for you to be mindful of whatever it is you're doing -- which calms your mind, slows your breathing and heart rate, and helps you relax and de-stress.

And if you're looking for some music to accompany your meditation practice, I have one to suggest to you:

(Sorry - this is just a screenshot and won't actually play if you try to click the "start" arrow. Here's the link.)

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The Wong Janice creates beautiful cello music for meditation and relaxation. Although it may sound a little new-age-kooky, her music is created and designed to relax you! This track, for example, is based on 60 BPM (beats per minute), which is the optimal tempo to get your heart to relax. The music is beautiful, and can serve as a restful accompaniment to any kind of meditation. Give it a try when the stress and fear start creeping in!

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Move!

I won't harp on about the value of fitness in combatting stress and worry (I do enough of that around here as it is), but . . . moving and getting the blood flowing is a Really Good Thing when you're trying to stay calm and carry on. Take a walk. Do some jumping jacks. Turn on an exercise video. Dance around your kitchen. Just move!

And if you're looking for a gentle yoga stretch, here's a good one to try:

It's Yoga With Adriene's latest Halloween release . . . Yoga for When You Feel Dead Inside. It's designed to get you up and moving when you really feel hollow and empty and, well, dead inside. Like . . . now.

I tried it yesterday. It's gentle - so even if you've never really tried yoga before, it's a good place to start. (And if you've never watched a Yoga With Adriene video before, don't be alarmed by the opening minute. It's her annual Halloween special practice - and she's doing a zombie parody of her usual opening. She doesn't continue the practice in zombie mode.)

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Watch a movie!

Kill some time and de-stress with a lighthearted movie (or two). Nothing heavy or overly dramatic this week! Here's a list of 31 Feel-Good Movies That Will Definitely Make You Smile (from Oprah Magazine).

Do you have any movies to add to Oprah's list? 

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Listen to some music!

The Atlantic has put together a Spotify playlist especially for this week! Twelve songs to "express impatience, agitation, and hope." Give it a listen -- it's a fun list.

What songs would you add?

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And . . . that's it for me on this Monday morning. Let me know if you have any other strategies for staying calm in this stressful final week before the election.

Here's to a good week for all of us!
Hang in there.

 


Good Morning!

It's Monday. 
Time to . . . 

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On Mondays I share a few tidbits and miscellaneous things I discovered over the weekend. A little of this, some of that. Things to amuse, amaze, entertain, or inform. Maybe even something to rev you up!

So. Let's get to it.

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"Sometimes carrying on, just carrying on, is the superhuman achievement."
            ---- Albert Camus

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I know I've shared my love for Ann Wood Handmade here on Mondays past, but . . . I've got a new Ann Wood pattern to share with you.

If you are looking for something charming and whimsical - and quick-and-easy to make, besides - check out Ann's latest FREE pattern: Chickens! So much fun. (I think making a few of these chickens would turn any frown upside down.) (And who doesn't need that these days?)

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If you think it's fun to peek over the shoulder of an artist at work, have I got an Instagram account for YOU!

@alicelovesdrawing creates beautiful flower illustrations using a variety of techniques with mixed media (pen and ink, pencils, watercolor, gel pens). It is fascinating to watch her creations come to life! If you ever look at finished illustrations and think, "How did they DO that?" Well . . . Alice will show you!

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Are you a fan of the movie/miniseries versions of Pride and Prejudice? Do you have a favorite Mr. Darcy? If you do (and even if you don't), you might enjoy checking out this fun article ranking "every Mr. Darcy" (including an edible version!) (as in cake).

C'mon . . . who's your favorite???

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Doesn't it feel like it's been a really, really long time since you've heard a choir sing? (It has been.) (So no wonder.) I think that's why this virtual choral performance brought tears to my eyes. Listen. It's a treat!

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And . . . that's it for me on this Monday morning.

Here's to a good week for all of us!
Hang in there.

 

 

 


Monday's Rolled Around Again, Folks

Time to . . . 

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On Mondays I share a few tidbits and miscellaneous things I discovered over the weekend. A little of this, some of that. Things to amuse, amaze, entertain, or inform. Maybe even something to rev you up!

So. Let's get to it.

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"There are three ways to ultimate success: The first way is to be kind. The second way is to be kind. The third way is to be kind."
                                   --- Mr. Rogers

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A couple of weeks ago, Carolyn wrote about Vicky Barone's Kindness Cards in a blog post, and the whole concept won my heart. So I ordered some!  Vicky offers a batch of 30 cards for free (although you do need to pay shipping), and you can order extra batches of 30 for $5. (You can also donate to underwrite the printing and distribution of more free cards.)

My cards arrived in mere days. And, friends . . . these are Very Nice Cards. (Bad desk shot in the morning darkness.)

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Back view.

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And what am I doing with my cards? Well. I'm sticking them in every library book I return. And I'm including them in any mail or package I send. And I'll leave one behind whenever I take my dad in for a doctor's appointment. And I'm carrying a few with me all the time because . . . you never know when inspiration may strike.

Maybe you'll want to order some Kindness Cards to pass along, too.

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Still avoiding museums and movie theaters? (I am. . . ) If you're considering heading to the movies or visiting a museum, this article from the New York Times provides some helpful information and guidance. And if you're not able (or willing) to visit a museum, here are two great exhibits you can visit from the germ-free comfort of your own home:

Appearances Can Be Deceiving: Frida Kahlo's Wardrobe - Visit this fascinating exhibit showcasing Frida Kahlo's wardrobe and personal belongings at the Museo Frida Kahlo in Mexico City.

Her Story: A Century of Women Writers - This fabulous exhibit features 24 influential American women writers, and is currently showing at the National Portrait Gallery of the Smithsonian Institute in Washington DC. 

I'd love to see both of these exhibits in person - but wouldn't be able to even if it weren't pandemic times. It's nice to be able to visit exhibits like this from my computer now. (Something I probably never would have thought about doing pre-pandemic.)

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If you like crime/mystery stories . . . and you like historical fiction, too . . . you may be interested in this list of 17 Crime Fiction Series That Use Real Historical Figures As Sleuths

It's a fun list. We've got . . . Jane Austen and Charlotte Brontë as sleuths, for example. Abraham Lincoln. Charles Dickens. Geoffrey Chaucer, even! If you're looking for a new crime series to sink your teeth into, be sure to check out this list.

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And . . . that's it for me on this Monday morning.

Here's to a good week for all of us!
Hang in there.


And Here We Are

. . . another Monday.

In these Very Weird Times.

Time to . . . 

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On Mondays I share a few tidbits and miscellaneous things I discovered over the weekend. A little of this, some of that. Things to amuse, amaze, entertain, or inform. Maybe even something to rev you up!

So. Let's get to it.

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"He loved October. Had always loved it. There was something sad and beautiful about it -- the ending and beginning of things."
            --- Jacqueline Woodson, If You Come Softly

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Tom and I have watched Best In Show so many times we can't even begin to count how many times. (Just ask our kids. . . ) We quote the dialogue verbatim. We imitate Cookie's wonky-knee scene. We sing the terrier songs. We have family jokes based on the show. So. Many. Jokes. (Don't even get me started about "naming nuts.") (Or the hunt for "busy bee."

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So. 

Imagine our surprise when we recently learned that the entire movie was . . .  IMPROV!
No script. Just . . . really talented people making it up as they went along!

The movie is celebrating its 20th anniversary (time flies). Read this for the inside-scoop. And maybe . . . watch it again. Just for fun!

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So how are you feeling these days? A little tense? A bit tight? Too much hunching over your computer? Or maybe a book? Maybe these three stretches for your neck and shoulders could help a bit.

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Last Friday, I shared some lists and book titles that provide "comfort reading" . . . a little hope in these times where many of us are struggling to find it. And you responded -- sharing even more titles of books that restore your faith in humanity. I thought it might be helpful to share the list here from time to time (my original list and all the additional books y'all have suggested). Please feel free to send more suggestions my way, and I'll contiue to share them.

Comfort Reading: Books that Bring Hope (as compiled by readers of Stepping Away From the Edge)

  • The House in the Cerulean Sea - T.J. Klune
  • A Prayer for Owen Meany - John Irving
  • A Man Called Ove - Fredrik Backman
  • The Heart's Invisible Furies - John Boyne
  • This is Happiness - Niall Williams
  • Tuesdays With Morrie - Mitch Album
  • A Tree Grows in Brooklyn - Betty Smith
  • Reasons to Stay Alive - Matt Haig
  • The Shipping News - Annie Proulx
  • The Shell Seekers - Rosamonde Pilcher
  • A Gentleman in Moscow - Amor Towles
  • The Book of Joy - The Dalai Lama and Desmond Tutu
  • Mink River - Brian Doyle
  • The Essays of E.B. White - E.B. White
  • My Grandmother Asked Me To Tell You She's Sorry - Fredrik Backman
  • Thornyhold - Mary Stewart
  • The Blue Castle - L.M. Montgomery
  • Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant - Anne Tyler

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In the dream-a-little-dream department . . . here's an article featuring a newly-designed guest house in Long Island: The Narnia House. Now doesn't that look like a fun place to visit? I've always wanted to climb through that wardrobe!

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And . . . that's it for me on this Monday morning.

Here's to a good week for all of us!
Hang in there.

 

 

 


Rolling Around Again

Another Monday morning! Time to . . . 

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On Mondays I share a few tidbits and miscellaneous things I discovered over the weekend. A little of this, some of that. Things to amuse, amaze, entertain, or inform. Maybe even something to rev you up!

So. Let's get to it.

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"It may be when we no longer know what to do, we have come to our real work, and that when we no longer know which way to go, we have begun our real journey."
        --- Wendell Berry

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(And so it begins.)

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What more joyful combination can we possibly find . . . than the intersection of art and knitting?

And especially when it comes to art and camouflage knitting!

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Check out this fascinating collaboration between photographer Joseph Ford and knitter Nina Dodd . . . who created a series of incredible camouflage photographs featuring hand-knit sweaters! The project is called "Knitted Camouflage" and you can see even more examples here.

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In staying-at-home-related news . . . have you ever wondered why so many things are "sold out" these days? I'm not talking toilet paper, flour, and jigsaw puzzles here (although there is that).  I'm talking about  . . . oh . . . kiddie pools (my daughter was on multiple waiting lists all summer and finally gave up), exercise equipment (we're on a 9-week waiting list for a rowing machine), and home office furniture . . . among other surprising things.

Well. There's a reason for that! 
And here it is.

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Mostly when I read, I read silently to myself. Just seeing the words. Reading them in my head. Private. Quiet.

But a lot of the time, Tom and I read together -- out loud to each other. We don't often read books that way (although we have done), but we often read entire news articles to each other. Or poetry. And certainly phrases from books that one or the other of us enjoys.

Last week, I stumbled across this article (from the BBC) about the benefits - for adults - of reading aloud. It turns out . . . reading out loud is really good for us! Here's a quote from the article (written by Sophie Hardach):

"But a growing body of research suggests that we may be missing out by reading only with the voices inside our minds. The ancient art of reading aloud has a number of benefits for adults, from helping improve our memories and understand complex texts, to strengthening emotional bonds between people. And far from being a rare or bygone activity, it is still surprisingly common in modern life. Many of us intuitively use it as a convenient tool for making sense of the written word, and are just not aware of it."

How about you? Do you ever read out loud?

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And, finally, I leave you today with this . . . a moving dance tribute to Breonna Taylor by sisters Norah, Zarah, and Rosa. (If you haven't already "met" Norah, Zarah, and Rosa, you might want to check out some of their other dance clips on YouTube or Instagram. They are sisters from The Netherlands, and they are pretty darn awesome.)

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And . . . that's it for me on this Monday morning.

Here's to a good week for all of us!
Hang in there.

 


Sometimes Mondays

 . . . are particularly Monday-feeling kind of Mondays, y'know? And THOSE are the Mondays when it's really time to . . . 

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On Mondays I share a few tidbits and miscellaneous things I discovered over the weekend. A little of this, some of that. Things to amuse, amaze, entertain, or inform. Maybe even something to rev you up!

And this Monday??? On this Monday . . . I dedicate this space to Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Buckle up. Vroom- vroom. Welcome to Start Your Engines: RBG Edition.

Let's get to it.

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"Real change, enduring change, happens one step at a time."
            --- Ruth Bader Ginsburg

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(My RBG, action figure, watches over me from my bookshelf every day.)

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Sigh.

Heavy sigh.

I so wish I could say something . . . original, eloquent, fitting . . . in tribute to Ruth Bader Ginsburg. But, really. I'm just too wrung out and frazzled and sad for my brain to work in that way. Besides, many other more skilled writers have already written beautiful tributes. So instead, I'm just going to share these most excellent words from Rebecca Traister for you. And leave you with this link, so you can read the full piece she wrote for The Cut. (It's not long; worth a read, and with a slightly different perspective than most of the other articles you've likely already read.)

“Ruth Bader Ginsburg matters, now as much as she ever has, but her survival alone couldn’t have saved us, any more than getting rid of Donald Trump will save us. We are facing something far larger: a desperate, life-or-death fight to rebuild, reimagine, reform (and in some cases raze) enormous apparatuses, including our criminal justice, electoral, health-care, and education systems, labor and capitalism, education, housing, the courts themselves, and, most urgently, the health of our planet. It will call on us to fight as fiercely and with as much determination as Ginsburg herself fought, through her life and career.”

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It all feels so overwhelming right now. Much as I want to do something, I feel so hopeless; so helpless. What can we DO with our sorrow and our anger and our rage?

Here are some ideas. . . 

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First, Lift Her Up!

I'm not sure how many of you already follow Dr. Bertrice Berry on Instagram (or other social media platforms; I think she's on Facebook, too), but every day, Dr. Bertrice Berry posts a personal, heartfelt, inspirational, and love-filled message of hope for anyone who's listening. (Have a kleenex ready. She makes me cry on the regular.)

Over the weekend, she donned a dissent collar and provided a 7-minute talk about how important it is for us to "join hands and carry on her [RBG's] legacy."

"Lift up her life.
And her light.
And her work.

Because Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has lifted us to the highest place we have been, and it's our duty to continue with her work.

We've got angels, y'all."
    --- Dr. Bertrice Berry

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Next, Immerse Yourself.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg became "notorious" for many reasons. A lot of us followed along with her career as it was unfolding, all of us benefitted from her tireless commitment to equality. Immerse yourself in her life and accomplishments; be inspired to move forward.

Right now, you can find all kinds of information and articles about RBG through a simple Google search. You can also find and read some great books about her. Books like . . . 

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I read this one when it was first published in 2015. (And then I immediately purchased a copy for my daughter and my daughter-in-law.)

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Or this one, which has been on my to-read list for a while now.

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There are some excellent movies you can watch right now, too.

Tom and I watched the movie On The Basis of Sex on Friday night. (I think it's streaming right now on Showtime. You can also purchase it through Prime or iTunes to stream.) And last night, we watched RBG, an excellent CNN documentary. (It's streaming on Hulu right now. Maybe other channels, too, but we watched on Hulu.)

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Then, Do Something Concrete!

Put your money where your (broken) heart is!

There are many worthy organizations working hard to bring about the changes RBG fought so hard for. Tom and I are long-time supporters of the ACLU, and in RBG's honor, we plan to up our donation. There are so many vital organizations working for justice right now -- and I'm sure one is a good match for your own heart. You can also support political candidates trying to flip seats in the Senate -- or local candidates and races that matter to you. And if you're interested in supporting causes near and dear to RBG's heart, you can consider these options.

Contact your senators!

Let them know what you think about confirming a Supreme Court justice this close to an election.

VOTE!

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Vote.
Get everyone you know to vote.
Get people you don't know to vote. (Here's a link to Postcards to Voters to make this one do-able.)

RBG. May her memory be a revolution.

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And . . . that's it for me on this Monday morning.

Hang in there, friends.
Keep moving forward.

 


Vroom! Vroom!

It's Monday.
Time to . . . 

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On Mondays I share a few tidbits and miscellaneous things I discovered over the weekend. A little of this, some of that. Things to amuse, amaze, entertain, or inform. Maybe even something to rev you up!

So. Let's get to it.

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"Hello, sun in my face. Hello, you who made the morning and spread it over the fields . . . 
 Watch, now, how I start the day in happiness, in kindness."
        --- Mary Oliver, Why I Wake Early

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So.
How are you?

Such a banal question in the Before Times. Such a loaded question . . . These Days.

I really enjoyed this little piece on the existential nature of the question "How are you?" . . . as asked during the pandemic. Maybe you will, too?

“How am I? I’m doing as well as I can. I’m taking care of myself. It’s a crappy set of circumstances right now, and I know I have it better than many. I feel able and accountable. I have enough. I’m feeding myself.” That is my answer. Today."
            --- Anthony Weeks, from the article 

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And the article linked above? It had me scrambling to the dictionary to look up this word (which appears in the article) . . . 

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I knew what it meant in context . . . but I wanted to look it up to cement it in my brain!

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Did you happen to see the cover of this week's New Yorker magazine?

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Isn't it wonderful?
It's by Edward Steed and is called "Overgrown." (You can read all about the image here.)

And . . . it totally reminds me of one of my favorite Instagram "follows" . . . Lewis Miller Design. If you haven't checked out his unbelieveably gorgeous and totally stunning floral arrangements, give him a follow on Instagram. Your feed will be filled with beauty! (And who doesn't need more than that?)

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I'm sure you're familiar with the most famous piece of "flash fiction" (or "microfiction") . . . attributed to Ernest Hemingway. (Legend has it that Hemingway challenged his fellow writers to tell a story in six words or less.)

For sale. Baby shoes. Never worn.

Well. Larry Smith of the New York Times issued a challenge . . . for people to tell the story of their lives in this time of pandemic in six words. You can read the results here. My favorite is from poet Maggie Smith.

The world has never felt smaller.

What would YOUR six-word-pandemic-memoir be????

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I read this week that the house that inspired Emily Brontë's Wuthering Heights is for sale! Yeah. It's a bit pricey. But wouldn't it be fun to own it? Or maybe just to stay for a night . . . to see if you might see Cathy through the window? (It's currently a B&B.)

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And . . . that's it for me on this Monday morning.

Here's to a good week for all of us.




Here We Are Again

. . . another Monday morning. Time to . . . 

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On Mondays I share a few tidbits and miscellaneous things I discovered over the weekend. A little of this, some of that. Things to amuse, amaze, entertain, or inform. Maybe even something to rev you up!

So. Let's get to it.

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"It will not always be summer; build barns."
        --- Hesiod

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Wonder who Hesiod is? I did. He was an ancient Greek poet, active around the same time as Homer. (I've taken to Googling any quote authors I don't already know. Just to check. Y'know. To make sure they're not creepy.)

(And why does this quote resonate with me? Well. Because this week, I've been fixated on . . . preparing myself. For fall. For an election that goes to shit. For hunkering down in my house for another several months. Y'know. That.)

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Was last week . . . really hard for you? It was for me. And for most of the people I talked to last week. Things just seemed to reach a kind of breaking point for many of us. The All Of It became the Too Much Of It. 

I read this article about our now-depleted "surge capacity" that might just explain some of what's happening to us. (Fireworks spelling out a certain person's name on the White House lawn probably has something to do with it, too, I realize.)

Anyway.

"Surge capacity" is defined as a "collection of adaptive systems -- mental and physical -- that humans draw on for short-term survival in actutely stressful situations, such as natural disasters." The article then goes on to explain that the pandemic is not a natural disaster, which tend to play out over short - but intense - periods of time. Pandemics, by contrast, stretch out over a long period of time. With no known end-point. Thus . . . we deplete our surge capacity.

It's a really good article, and I recommend taking the time to read it. Especially if you're feeling rather depleted right about now.

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If you like to read, September is always a great month. Many of the year's most-anticipated book releases happen in September (y'know . . . to maximize that pre-holiday "buzz"), and there is much action on the book awards scene, too. 

Here are some links to help you follow the "hot books" as they're released this month (and pad your to-read lists, as well).

From the New York Times: 15 Books to Watch for in September

From Book Marks: The Best Reviewed Books of the Week (August 28)

And if you like audiobooks, here's a list from AudioFile of the best audiobooks (from August) for listening. 

When it comes to book awards, watch for these announcements coming out in September:

The Women's Prize for Fiction winner will be announced September 9. (Go, Hamnet!)

The Booker Prize short list will be announced on September 15. (You can find the long list here.)

And the National Book Award long list will be announced the very next day, September 16.

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Have you been thinking about moving your body more?
Looking to build up your "surge capacity" again?
Wanting to do something just for you?

Well. Now that September is on our doorstep (new month, new season, new chance to begin), maybe you want to try . . . yoga?

I highly recommend Yoga With Adriene (as I've already mentioned in other posts). Her yoga is accessible, not "weird" (and if you've ever experienced a kooky yoga instructor, you'll know exactly what I mean), and very . . . habit-forming. She has an incredible catalog of classes available on YouTube, so whether you're looking for a gentle stretch or an energetic flow you'll find a class that suits you. She offers many series of classes -- including for those just looking to begin a yoga practice. Best of all, she offers these classes . . . free. (There is also a membership version available with even more classes.)

Each month, Adriene curates her classes around a theme, and publishes an interactive calendar (load the PDF file calendar on your  your computer or device, and then click through to each daily workout all month long). The September theme? BUILD. As she says in her latest newsletter . . . "Build new systems and rituals that serve. Build awareness. Build up stamina. Build relationships. Build coonfidence. Re-build up your well of self love and pour, generously."

Maybe some yoga . . . is just what you need! (Click here for the September calendar.)

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Looking for something fun in your Instagram feed? Check out @blcksmth for inspiration, color, and a smile!

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And . . . that's it for me on this Monday morning.

Here's to a good week for all of us.
(We'll get through this.)
Let's build our "surge capacity" . . . together!

 

 


Monday Again

Time to . . . 

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On Mondays I share a few tidbits and miscellaneous things I discovered over the weekend. A little of this, some of that. Things to amuse, amaze, entertain, or inform. Maybe even something to rev you up!

So. Let's get to it.

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"I am only one; but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something. I will not refuse to do the something I can do."
        --- Helen Keller

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I'm going to admit . . . that this weekend was a hard one for me. Every once in a while, the All Of It just rolls over me, y'know? The  pandemic, the political "scene," the fires in California (right in my daughter's back yard), the fact that I should have been packing to leave for Italy right about now, the end of summer. All. Of. It.

So today? I'll be starting your engines with nothing but lighthearted fun.

Here we go!

First up . . . 

You may have heard over the weekend that a new Giant Panda cub was born in the Smithsonian's National Zoo, always a joyous event in the world since the Giant Panda is so close to extinction. So far, both Mei Xiang (the mother) and her cub are doing well, although it's too early for the keepers to get a close look at the cub. 

You can check it all out for yourself using the Panda Cam! Yes, there is a Panda Cam, and it's available here. You can also find out all about Giant Pandas, learn how you can help save Giant Pandas from extinction, and just . . . generally escape from the Other News by visiting.

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I know how much all of you enjoy a good, old "factoid." Here's one for you . . .

The Mobile Phone Throwing World Championships are held in Finland. A recent winner said he prepared for the event by “mainly drinking.”

Who knew???

That amazing fact came from the Amazing Fact Generator from Mental Floss. Go ahead . . . click in and generate some amazing facts for yourself! Then you'll be able to WOW your family and friends with such amazing facts as . . .

Jim Henson made his first Kermit puppet using his mother's old coat and two halves of a ping pong ball.

See? Just for fun!

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Have you had a chance to see the new Time magazine cover this week? It's pretty incredible . . . 

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That image? Hand embroidered! 

Hand embroidered, I need to add, in 24 hours by Nneka Jones, a 23-year-old artist who specializes in contemporary embroidery and wields her needle like a paintbrush. (Absolutely amazing pieces. I can't even describe how incredible her work is.) Read the story behind the cover here. And then read the articles here.

And while you're at it, follow Nneka Jones on Instagram to see more of her work.

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When I'm feeling . . . off . . . making something new always seems to help. Here are a couple of tutorials (free!) I found over the weekend that sound interesting and fun to me. I haven't tried either project myself . . . yet.

(But I will!)

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First up, Project #1:

Tilly (of Tilly and the Buttons) (a British sewing pattern designer) shares a video tutorial showing how to make a super handy (and really charming) magnetic pin holder. Not only would this be great to have near my sewing machine, but it would make a perfect gift for crafty friends, too.

I would've already made one of these (I was ready to dive right in as soon as I saw the video) but I don't have the materials on hand. . . But for this next project? I have ALL the materials at the ready!

Which brings us to Project #2:

Ann Wood (of Ann Wood Handmade) (a US-based sewing and crafting artist) shares a tutorial on her blog . . . for making charming, hand stitched flower garlands from your scrap fabrics. (Like . . . y'know. From all your mask-making.) These look like so much fun! I just love the whimsy of all Ann's projects. 

And . . . if you don't like the idea of a scrap flower garland, maybe you could use the sweet little flowers to decorate a needle book! (Here is Ann's free pattern/instructions for making one of those.)

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If you're interested in following either Tilly (@tillybuttons) or Ann (@annwood) on Instagram (highly recommended . . . for some JOY in your IG feed), you can find them here and here.

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And, finally, in the Circling Back Department . . . 

Last week, I shared some links about the artist Ruth Asawa. Well. Vicki shared this link with me later in the week. Black Mountain College's Museum + Art Center is hosting a free virtual presentation -- Ruth Asawa's Radical Universalism -- on September 23, 2020. As part of the museum's Museum from Home Initiative, Jason Vartikar will be discussing how Ruth Asawa's wire sculptures are a form of activism for racial justice.

This sounds fascinating to me! Maybe to you, too? You can sign up to join the Zoom presentation here.

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And . . . that's it for me on this Monday morning.

Here's to a good week for all of us.
(We'll get through this.)