1.14.19

What I’ve been up to:

Got home from an amazing 10 days in Mexico that including a tasting menu at Pujol, exploring the ruins of Teotihuacan, Chichen Itza, Coba and Tulum, scuba diving and taking part in a traditional temazcal ceremony. Pictures are coming but here are a couple:

Then I started grad school for my Masters in Counselling Psychology and from what I’ve seen so far, I am going to love it. Really glad that I have finally made the jump to a career that feels right.

What was beautiful:

All of it — the rings of Saturn and my father’s wedding band, the underbelly of the clouds pinked by the rising sun, Einstein’s brain bathing in a jar of formaldehyde, every grain of sand that made the glass that made the jar and each idea Einstein ever had, the shepherdess singing in the Rila mountains of my native Bulgaria and each one of her sheep, every hair on Chance’s velveteen dog ears and Marianne Moore’s red braid and the whiskers of Montaigne’s cat, every translucent fingernail on my friend Amanda’s newborn son, every stone with which Virginia Woolf filled her coat pockets before wading into the River Ouse to drown, every copper atom composing the disc that carried arias aboard the first human-made object to enter interstellar space and every oak splinter of the floor-boards onto which Beethoven collapsed in the fit of fury that cost him his hearing, the wetness of every tear that has ever been wept over a grave and the yellow of the beak of every raven that has ever watched the weepers, every cell in Galileo’s fleshy finger and every molecule of gas and dust that made the moons of Jupiter to which it pointed, the Dipper of freckles constellating the olive firmament of a certain forearm I love and every axonal flutter of the tenderness with which I love her, all the facts and figments by which we are perpetually figuring and reconfiguring reality — it all banged into being 13.8 billion years ago from a single source, no louder than the opening note of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony, no larger than the dot levitating over the small i, the I lowered from the pedestal of ego.”

Maria Popova, Figuring

These inspiring snippets from Ram Dass; “We’re all just walking each other home”

What I’m reading and listening to:

BOOKS –

ARTICLES –

This beautiful issue of Brain Pickings, about children’s books and Patti Smith

The joys of being an untethered woman

It’s 2020 and you’re in the future (!!!)

Why being near water makes us happier

Bucket list trips…planning a big one to the Middle East when I next have a break in school but really they are all tempting.

Edmonia Lewis and her Death of Cleopatra sculpture that was missing for years.

Ancient city found under the Guatemalan jungle

Why Americans work so much; the average American worker labors more hours than her counterparts in just about every similarly rich country, including Japan, Canada, and the United Kingdom….because computing has shifted much of the economy from manufacturing to neurofacturing

How to quiet negative thoughts with self-compassion

Making “good enough” resolutions

Santa Claus may have come from shamans on mushrooms

ON RELATIONSHIPS –

3 Rules for Building a Stronger Relationship; give feedback assertively, take feedback constructively, and make a plan to be better

One-sided conversations; when you’re with someone, ask them questions and actually listen

Being an emotionally intelligent partner; every day, ask yourself: “What can I do today to understand & improve the lives of those around me?

Being more likeable by asking for favours

Getting people to open up

The magic of making it work;  in happy couples, for each negative interaction during a conflict, there are at least 5 positive interactions

Choosing the right relationship

How to tell if you’re a boring partner

Personal Geographies

A few years ago I read about Gerald Murnane, an Australian author who won an award that normally required the recipient to travel abroad but instead he travelled to places in his home state that had been personally significant to him – his “geographies”. As I’ve been moving home and settling into life in Vancouver, I’ve been thinking a lot about the areas where I have lived and spent time, how they’ve changed and how we are stewards for places that existed before us and continue on after the relationship is discontinued.

My parents liked to live in new buildings and built two of my childhood homes were built for us, from the ground up, but I have realized that I prefer old places with history and secrets. I love finding evidence of past lives and making things slightly better for the people who will come after. I have realized in recent years how powerful my sense of place is. I can be gardening in a section of the yard and recall an audiobook that I was listening to there the summer before, or driving down a stretch of road recalling memories encoded into something like the shape of a tree. Some places are crowded with memory while others, even if I spent a lot of time there, seem weak.

I decided to recreate Murnane’s experiment (inasmuch as I could remember it) and visit all of the places I have lived in Langley, Victoria, Vancouver and Seattle. It was a fascinating journey down memory lane but also eye-opening in terms of what we remember. Some places I found I could not recognize at all, others only from photographs.

  • Langley
  • Victoria
  • Vancouver
  • Seattle

2019 in the rearview

That was not my favourite year (nor my favourite decade) but I did a lot of work to get things pointed in a great new direction; quit my job & career, moved back to Canada and got prepped for my Masters of Counselling Psychology (that starts on Thursday EEEK!!!! 😳). In between, I snuck in sundry other adventures, a bunch of dancing and some travel. Bonus round of firsts and life list items:

  • Visited Cuba and México City (twice!)
  • Visited the Smithsonian in DC
  • Performed flamenco in public
  • Did a solo moto trip through Oregon, Idaho, Montana & California (plus the regular parts of WA and BC)
  • Rode > 1000 miles in 1 day
  • Sold our house in under a week
  • Finally made a paella over an open orange wood fire
  • Rode my vintage bike in the pride parade (first time back on it since it launched me into a truck in 2017)
  • Bought a home in YVR
  • Rode motos through England and Wales (including cruising past Stonehenge!) to see our friends married in a castle
  • Participated in a week long art retreat in Oaxaca during Day of the Dead
  • Got an A on all of my undergrad psych courses (including one I failed in my BA)
  • Renovated our basement suite and have almost finished amazifying the dining room
  • Visted Teotihuacan and Chichen Itza ruins and dove in a cenote

I’m grateful for all the opportunities to learn, experience, explore and adventure – and especially for the support – and I am super looking forward to a less intense year in 2020.