Monday, February 28, 2011

Playful World Traveling

2009 was in some ways a low point in my life.  I was at a crossroads.  Some paths were closed off to me, some paths were newly opened to me, and some I wasn't sure how to find or if they were even there.  I had been through a very painful breach and learned that I had some friends who really weren't.  I felt like there was a hole in my heart, in my life.  (Sorry to be mysterious, but these are the essentials.)

The best way to go forward was to count my blessings every day and I began to do that.  My husband and daughter give me a reason to get up every day and make breakfast.  (I really started with the basics.)  My old (gradually less!) dilapidated house where something always needs painting, nailing, sewing, cleaning gives me employment when I need to not think...  I went back to graduate school (What's another 18 hours?).

I began to see a path through the wilderness of my mind:  a set of tasks to do every day, leading to a discernible end, building something worthwhile.  I wanted to talk about my feelings (but not dwell on the pain) and hear others' stories at the same time.  Self-help books and therapy didn't satisfy this.  I wanted a conversation in real time.

I started to sew again and found the world of YouTube stitch tutorials.  From there, I stumbled onto blogs.

Here was a group of people, all at different places on life's path.  Sometimes I feel I can help them, sometimes they help me, at all times we can support one another.  I am drawn to stories of family life, feminism, teaching, sewing and crafting, gardening, cooking.  Found some of those blogs.  I am interested in different cultures and ways of living, so I found some Amish blogs.

I went looking for Muslim blogs when a dear friend stopped wearing hijab because she felt threatened.  I listened to her (over coffee, what else?) with my heart in my throat, while her two little boys played at our feet.  She wants a good life for them -- doesn't want her "appearance" to hold them back.  What?!  That's just wrong.  I realized that I as a nonMuslim need to counter the negative climate by reaching out to sisters and brothers in Islam and celebrate our common humanity -- we need to not see any people as "other."

What I get in the blogosphere is encouragement and inspiration for myself every day -- and from people all over the world whom I never would have had the opportunity to know.  What a miracle!

I feel very fortunate to have found a true soul-sister in Salma of Visual Notes.  She wrote the Pledge of The Playful World Traveler.  Here's her link:

As  a Playful World Traveler I PLEDGE to:

* blog with integrity

* understand that while I have {my own} opinions they can be hurtful to others

*reject notions, ideas & words that humiliate and isolate others

*understand that I inhabit various locations simultaneously

that I can be an oppressor as well as oppressed at the same time

*identify and celebrate differences without being something that I am not
NEVER defending who I am (my background, race, class etc)

*know that the world outside my window is a trifle of God's creation & be thankful for his mercy

*understand that we all experience and handle situations differently

*reach out to encourage & support other bloggers when they are faced with the negative aspects of life, and 
celebrate the positives ALWAYS

*celebrate the beauty of humanity/parenthood/sister-brotherhood  
(trying to be gender-neutral here, so it's not just for women)

Thanks for this, Salma.  I am lucky to have you as a friend.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Of a Certain Age

I just made my 48th birthday and I'm pretty happy about it.  I've got a pretty good life, all told.  Reasonably happy marriage and well-adjusted child:  check.  Meaningful work:  check.  Comfortable place to live:  check.  A very good life, really.   I've absolutely no cause to complain.

I'm also at the age where people stop saying, "She's good-looking," and start saying, "She looks good for her age."

OK, what's the big deal?  I do actually "look good for my age."   If I do say it myself.  People routinely think I am 10 or more years younger than I am.  I eat right (mostly), wear sunscreen (always), am reasonably active (mostly), get enough sleep (mostly), don't smoke or drink (mostly).  And I've got good genes -- my mother looks phenomenal for her age.  (...for her age, there it is again.)

Getting a few color or not to color?  A few lines...well, they're laugh lines, so that means I'm good-humored, right?

I've always been a low-maintenance, low-glamor type.  I don't wear makeup (can't see starting at this point), much jewelery, or even paint my nails.  I've never gone in for faddish dress (not since my college days, anyway).  Yet, I've always enjoyed looking good -- now I've got to settle for looking "good enough."

Sounds petty, I know.  But there it is.  Now back to our regularly scheduled aging.  Which definitely is better than the alternative, and for which I am sincerely grateful.