I knew the photos I wanted to share for this challenge right away. I love the view of the city I have from my house…of course, the view is not of the city I live in. Nope, this view is of the next city over to the West of me.
That’s the downtown Seattle skyline, with the glorious Olympic Mountains behind.
These next shots are from an early morning walk when I just loved what the sunrise was doing to the Columbia Center…76 stories, and when it was built, it was the tallest building on the West Coast.
This towering scraper of the sky has always fascinated me, though I had never been inside it. I rarely go into Seattle. Just not an urban type, although I guess I can hardly say that anymore, given that there is nothing left of the “country-side” my home was part of when I bought it 47 years ago.
Anyway, just a few years ago, I had the extreme pleasure of officiating a spectacular and delightful wedding at the top of the Columbia Center. I adore this couple and was thrilled to be asked to marry them, but I have to admit, when they told me where, I nearly fainted. I have a more than mild case of Acrophobia.
I knew I would need to prepare myself so I could be fully present and grounded for their ceremony so I started taking pictures of the building from all over town….trying to make friends with this giant black monolith, towering tall over all it’s neighbors…
On the day of the wedding, I arrived early to prepare for the celebration. The ride up the elevator to the very top took forever. It made me seasick and break into a cold sweat. When I saw where we would be standing…so close to the windows, I nearly chickened out, but James kept me calm by reminding me that I would be facing inward, my back to the view. (Well, that half glass of Chardonnay he brought me probably helped too. Hmm, I wonder what the Minister’s blood alcohol number is for the legality of the marriage to be in question…😋)
Once I found my footing, I could embrace and enjoy the spectacular view we would all have this day.
I never told my sweet couple about my trepidation that day but I suppose, now they’ll know. So worth it!! What an amazing, creative, beautiful, warm, interesting wedding. And the “Cityscape” setting? Well, hard to imagine ever topping that!!
As I was selecting photos, I noticed something! A surprising number of airliners showed up, I suppose headed for landing at SeaTac. How many do you count?
I am so lucky, so blessed, to be inspired, energized, and moved to gratitude by so little.
Oh it’s not that I don’t love witnessing grandeur. The Redwood Forests, Grand Canyon, the Mighty Mississippi, and a sunrise in Fiji, all moved me to tears.
And it’s not that I always remember to look for inspiration in the really small or mundane things.
But when I need inspiration, It shows up for me in amazing ways….
Like the sunset last night…first time I’d seen the smoke-hidden city and the Olympics in 10 days. Inspired me to keep holding on…
And these lovely, end of season flowers have been such a joy. I can only have flowers in my house in one location, the bathroom. My otherwise, well-behaved cats insist on dumping vases, just for fun, and the bathroom is off limits to them, because they also climb shower curtains!
My junior high school boyfriend, and his son, paid me a visit a few weeks ago from clear across the U.S. We’ve stayed in touch all these years, which inspires me to value shared history, and to refuse any limiting definition of “friendship” .
Spotting this lovely on my car inspired me to consider deeply, the hand-painted beauty of Nature!
This, in my yard…
And these at the local Farmer’s Market yesterday, inspired me to eat healthy, even though otherwise disgusting treats are extra tempting during this Covid Lockdown time!
Speaking of produce…this guy moved me to a huge Belly Laugh! At first I saw a large- nosed cyclops with a tail. But then I realized the tail was an arm…still on a big-nosed cyclops.
During our 8 or 9 days of Smoke-from-Hell, due to West and Northwest Coast fires, I had to be doubly sequestered…behind drawn shades, closed curtains, air purifiers blasting 24/7, and no daylight. So seeing the return of our usual beautiful blue skies was more than inspiring. It gave me the determination to hang on.
This morning in my unused office-group therapy room, I spotted this plant. At first, I thought “tears”…but then realized it could mean “abundance” (of water).
This one, you may have to think about for a minute, but seeing the two things side by side inspired me to remember…everything is relative, and I can choose different perspectives on things as time passes. (Forgive my rare derogatory, political comment, but seriously, have you ever seen a more condescending smile???)
Seeing that last one, I am moved, energized and inspired to encourage everyone I cross paths with to VOTE!!!
I’ve written a lot of posts that contained embarrassing self-disclosures, but this one is a stretch, even for me.
First of all, I’m not clear who to credit for this challenge, but since perspective is one of my driving, life-force words, I’ve decided to just write and share photos anyway.
Here’s the story.
I have been photographing a tiny piece of mystery debris on my street for over a year. No idea why. Can’t really justify it except I spotted it, and became intrigued, and over the months, it evolved into a mild obsession.
I have thought at length about why in the world I would become so interested in this scrap of trash, and the only thing I can come up with is my Dad. It’s his fault really. He taught us very early on that boredom was a sin against Nature, and that if we used all of our senses, and just changed our perspectives, we could always find at least one miracle.
“Just look at the ground”, he would say. “It’s covered with magic!”
(I wrote about this in a story, with working title The “Ruler” and the Torn Screen or One Square foot and posted it on on V.J.’s Weekly Challenge #40 “Things my Father said”)
I guess what grew from that particular Dad-Lesson was a life long habit of looking down at the ground, always in search of treasures! No surprise one of my favorite activities in life is Beach Combing. I have huge collections of rocks, shells and beach glass! I have even been known to collect tiny treasures right off the street, especially if it’s been too long since I’ve had a trip to the ocean.
I’m fairly easy to please.
I have photographed what I am walking on many times…
Even modern day litter…
So spotting this one piece of junk on my daily walk was not the surprise. It simply stood out. Unidentifiable, it caught my eye.
The surprise was that I started looking for it every day. Every single day. I became more and more curious about why it never, ever moved. Its location was on a high-traffic part of the street. With all the cars, bikes and people passing over that very spot every day, it should have been run over…repeatedly.
So I decided to actually start tracking it…on purpose…and taking its picture…
Uh oh, I had bonded with a fragment of litter.
Seriously, and now, over a year later, and I’m even writing a Post about it.
But wait , as Paul Harvey used to say, here’s “the rest of the story”…
Last week on my regular morning walk, I got to the top of my street, where my Scrap lives…and it was gone! GONE!
I figured a car tire had finally knocked it off to the side, but after a long, elaborate roadside search (yes, a search) for my missing piece of rubbish, I had to accept it was over. My mystery remnant was truly missing.
In a world of uncertainty, a tiny, but predictable piece of my daily life, was gone. Sigh.
Believe me, the symbolism and the underlying explanations for this attachment are not lost on me. Been thinking about it all week. The pandemic. Being locked in my home, except for this daily walk, for 142 days. Reminders of my Dad, and wondering how he would have looked at today’s confusing, emotional, frightening new normal, ETC.!
I tried to find a replacement touchstone, something more permanent, and spotted this whale (or maybe it’s a country in Europe)…
But when looking through photos for this post I discovered this formation, permanently embedded in the street, had been there all along.
Anyway, this morning….I’m on my walk, approaching the former location of, you know who, (my reliable and familiar bit of trash), I decide maybe one more look around…
And there, well off the pavement, directly in a beam of early morning sunlight, I see this!
I was disproportionately happy!!
And YES, of COURSE I brought it home with me, and put it in the cabinet with all the other treasures! It’s just not safe out there for such a vulnerable little guy.
Yep, I’m glad I’m so easily entertained. Thanks Dad!
And the people stayed home. And read books, and listened, and rested, and exercised, and made art, and played games, and learned new ways of being, and were still. And listened more deeply. Some meditated, some prayed, some danced. Some met their shadows. And the people began to think differently.
And the people healed. And, in the absence of people living in ignorant, dangerous, mindless, and heartless ways, the earth began to heal.
And when the danger passed, and the people joined together again, they grieved their losses, and made new choices, and dreamed new images, and created new ways to live and heal the earth fully, as they had been healed.
BEST for LAST!! This is so sweet!!!!
My favorite thing yet. I have watched it several times and feel moved toward hope again and again.
In Part One, of this 4 part series, I wrote about Scarcity. In Part Two, the Three Basic Human Hungers, one of which is a hunger for Structure.
In this post, I want to talk about how we all might be structuring our time during our various forms of isolation and distance from others.
I searched other people’s definitions of this hunger and came across a beautifully written article about Eric Berne’s original theory of Time Structure. In this article, Chris Crouch talks about these concepts in a way that connects so well to what I previously wrote.
I hope you’ll enjoy reading it as much as I did.
I’ll be interested to know how you might apply some of this theory to whatever your current circumstances are.
(Any difference in text color in his article is my attempt at highlighting his words, either referring back to Part One or Part Two, or so that you might consider it in relation to yourself. I have also made a few additional comments in this same Bold Blue.)
Have you ever thought much about the various options for spending or structuring your time? Psychiatrist Eric Berne thought about it and came up with the following six options:
From Berne’s point of view, this was important because the different ways of spending time result in different outcomes in terms of getting and giving strokes. And strokes are extremely important when it comes to mental health. Before I continue, perhaps a few comments on strokes are in order.
A stroke, in this context, is any act implying recognition of another person’s presence. Human-to-human stroking is the fundamental unit of the social interaction process. If you and I encounter each other and I say “hello” to you and you say “hello” to me, that is a two-stroke transaction. Something Berne calls recognition hungeris programmed into the human psyche. We need strokes to survive, prosper and satisfy recognition hunger. Just as food satisfies physical hunger and keeps us physically healthy, strokes satisfy recognition hunger and keep us mentally healthy. For example, one of the worst punishments you can inflict on a person is to put them in solitary confinement, depriving them of any opportunities for strokes. People usually experience mental breakdowns in these circumstances.
In terms of strokes, here’s how the different ways of structuring time stack up. They are listed roughly in order of how well they satisfy recognition hunger:
Withdrawal – This is when a person, for whatever reason, makes the decision not to interact with people and eliminates any chance of getting strokes from others. We all need brief periods of withdrawal (especially introverts), but for most people, doing this over a long period of time is not a good choice in terms of their ongoing mental health.
I’m wondering how many people are experiencing “sheltering at home” like Berne’s definition of “withdrawal”…
Rituals – This is a safe form of social behavior. Rituals are highly predictable (church services, weddings, funerals, board meetings, your morning walk or Starbucks stop, etc.). With rituals, people can remain somewhat withdrawn from each other and still get strokes.
I don’t know how it is where you live but right now, all “rituals” are cancelled in my town…no gatherings of any kind…leaving many without the solace and comfort of knowing they are not alone…
Activities – Activities allow us to structure our time and get strokes in productive and socially acceptable ways. Work is one of the most common forms of this kind of time structuring.
Many of us have changed how we work daily in dramatic ways during the Pandemic. Working from home for many has been a creative solution, and there can still be strokes, but in a different and limited form.
Pastimes – Semi-ritualistic discussions about superficial topics such as the weather, sports, current events, family, hometown, or other commonplace topics. This is a form of social probing to help decide whether to broaden, continue, or terminate the relationship. Networking events are often based on the pastime format of structuring time.
Another form of structuring time sadly, but officially cancelled in our area for the foreseeable future…
Games – Games involve interacting with a surface meaning and a hidden meaning and involve a payoff (usually a good or bad feeling). For example, person A might feel superior/good by making Person B feel inferior/bad. Strokes are so important that in the absence of positive (good feeling) strokes, people will pursue negative strokes when seeking recognition. In terms of time structuring, the main thing to understand is that games, although unproductive and at times quite frustrating, offer significant opportunities for getting and giving strokes. The majority of the time in most people’s social life involves playing games. I may elaborate on games in a future post since they are so much a part of the human experience.
Classic, a universally recognizable game!
Intimacy – Intimacy occurs when you develop a relationship with another person based on honesty, openness, and mutual respect. Intimacy, although rare, is the best source for meaningful, high-quality strokes.
It is difficult to develop or engage in existing intimacy when ALL of our senses (and learning styles) cannot be involved. Even with all our miraculous technology, it’s hard to read body language or hear voice nuances, or see facial expressions fully on SKYPE or Zoom. We each need to be aware of our most used senses, and look for alternatives when those are not available for access. Example: I won’t get what I need, or be able to fully give what I have on just a phone call. I am not “auditory” enough to make the best use of that. I am an extremely visual and tactile person. So adding the screen aspect current equipment provides is helpful to me in an intimate conversation.
But it does not address the tactile deficit we are all experiencing right now. SO far at least, even Microsoft has not come up with a way to “hug” online!
According to Bandler and Grinder, there are four modalities of walking through the world: Visual, Auditory, Kinesthetic, and Tactile. I believe we each have a favorite, but one or more of these may be unavailable right now. To compensate (just as with a learning disability) time to highlight (beef up) the others, and develop some work-arounds.
In terms of joyfully and productively participating in life, achieving intimacy with a least a few people (or even one person) is a great strategy. Nurture relationships that allow you to be open, honest, and authentic with another human. Hopefully, this is the kind of relationship you have with your life partner and a few close friends. As a friend of mine once told me, “a true friend is someone who knows you – and still likes you.”
My main message today: Even if you only experience short periods of intimacy with another person, value and nurture this kind of relationship above all others. They offer the best chance for high-quality strokes and are important to your ongoing happiness and mental health.
Can you identify your intimate relationships (most people have very few – unfortunately, some have none)? What are you doing to nurture them?
I really wonder what Eric Berne would say about this current Covid 19 state of affairs.
Forced Isolation is very different than the occasional solitude we all require for good mental and emotional health.
Rituals, Pastimes and Activities can be managed even during Social Distancing, and sheltering at home.
Games…well, let’s just all take a break from those during these life and death times, shall we?
What is a bit more difficult, and requires some serious creativity, is achieving, and maintaining true intimacy during a time when the behaviors we are most familiar with to express deep and honest connection, are limited.
Here’s my solution and suggestion: When connecting with your closest people, use all the OTHER learning styles, and engage all of your available senses.
Maybe for you, it would be watching (or listening to) one of the amazing videos all over the net these days created by people making music together while in their own living rooms. But do this WITH someone else. Do it together while on SKYPE or ZOOM, etc.
If it’s someone you are really close to, try listening to a meaningful song, while looking into each others screen eyes. Powerful!
James has been on the other side of the state for weeks now but most nights, we will at least share a TV show on Netflix or Prime. We synchronize, pushing play so that we are seeing it at exactly the same time, sometimes texting the comments we might be making if we were watching together in person.
What are some ways you can be close to those you love even when you can’t touch each?
To finish, here is a free training that could be helpful right now.
OK, Nancy Merrill’s challenge to share photos this week that represent “Just for Fun!” reminded me to get back to the Spirit Lifters series I started.
So here are some photos for Nancy, and then, some uplifting things for you to check out for yourself.
(Like how I am always giving you something to do? Pretty clever distraction, eh?)
Here are 3 photos of what we call around here, Spring Snow!
Next, I write a lot about the beautiful street I get to live on, but don’t say enough about my really FUN neighbors.
These folks always have something fun for every holiday, including a small tractor that pulls little kid-filled carts behind it, decorated and driven by Santa for Christmas, and someone scary for Halloween.
Apparently, even the city workers are getting bored though. I came across this fun scene yesterday…
And one of the more uplifting, fun (and reassuring) beings in my household is Lucy, the Woodpile Cat. She is, as are many cats, such a creature of habit. I can count on her every morning, to take a shower in the kitchen sink…
And to demand her exercise time every afternoon…
But do not be fooled. She is not all sweetness and light. The only place I can have fresh flowers in my house is the bathroom as she does not frequent that room.
And THIS Blog, by my sweet friend Lisa, is really worth a visit! Look what she found for us! It is wonderful!!!
Lastly, here is Episode 3 of John Krasinski’s SGN. It can take your mind of all bad virus-related things!
PS The photo at the top was fun…or funny, at least to me. I had just committed to fewer eggs in my current campaign to keep my cholesterol levels healthy. Cracked open my one egg and….well, you see it….TWINS!!