A Woman, Thinking

Things that amuse me

Perversity Abounds!Poppy LochridgeComment

I listened to Alanis Morrisette's "You Oughta Know" on my iPod on the way to work this morning.

Seconds after she hollered her last "You, you, you oughta know!" at, well, whomever hurt her and inspired her to write this song, my iPod came up with a response....

"Cut the protesting, forget the excuses" (From Blood Money, out of Jesus Christ Superstar)

Made me laugh.

You know I couldn't pass up THIS quiz

Perversity Abounds!Poppy LochridgeComment

So I stumbled across this quiz when I found this image on a Google Search:

Of course, being the Poison er, fan that I was, this image caused much distress. And I had to look at the quiz, and it only got worse.

Why in the name of all of the gods would you make a quiz titled "Which Poison Song Are You?" and make the graphic for Every Rose out of a still for Something to Believe In? There's plenty of lovely images of Bret from the Every Rose video that would have worked perfectly well. Something to Believe isn't even from the same damn album.

And of course I had to take the quiz, since I had located it, and here is my result. I don't recall this shot - but the outfit is at least the right era, and it might well be from RtW.

Which Poison Song Are You?


You are RIDE THE WIND!
Take this quiz!

A Weekend by the Sea

Life Organizing and CQ ThoughtsPoppy LochridgeComment

So, I purchased A Weekend by the Sea by Joan Anderson from the iTunes music store for my new iPod and have been listening to the first chapter all week. Yeah, the first chapter. I wanted to set aside some time to do the calendar exercise introduced in that chapter, so I haven't let myself go past it until I took the time for it.

I started the calendar exercise this morning. It's interesting. Take a piece of paper, and write down the 12 months of the year, leaving space to write under each one. Then, write down all of the things you can remember that you did in each of those months in the last year. Don't go look at your calendar, just try to remember what happened that involved you. Take some time to be surprised at how little you can remember if you need to.

Then, around each activity, put a square if it was exhausting, a triangle if it was envigorating, a heart if it connected you to your partner or someone close to you, and a circle if it was just for you alone.

My calendar is interesting. I've got a good mix... but there's a pattern. I'll have a month or two with a lot of squares, a lot of activities that weren't for me, that were exhausting, or that were done for others. And then right after those couple of months, there will be a month that's half circles.

Clearly, I'm pretty good at taking care of myself when my warning bells go off telling me that I'm reaching a danger zone. But I don't think about it so much when things are going well, when I'm not stressed. Add that to my insights, I guess.

Review and re-view

Life Organizing and CQ ThoughtsPoppy LochridgeComment
I've been a wee bit uncomfortable with IO questions for the last couple of weeks - my faith is not something I've questioned in a few years and that area is sore-tooth-tender. When I moved from Philadelphia, I left my grove behind. I celebrated holidays with some friends here locally for a while before we all started going off in separate directions. It's just not an area of my life that I've done much with lately.

But before I get too far off on that topic, what I was really saying was that because I've been so uncomfortable with some of the more recent questions, I've been going back and looking at questions that I've already answered from January and February. And finding that my answers are not the same. For some of them, I had perhaps one thought, one possible response, and now I have many. So that's a pleasant thing.

I can do the same with the audios, too. Go back, sit with them again in chunks, when I make time to spend a few minutes with them. And it was the discussion about climate in February that made me pause and think.

I inhabit many climates: there's the physical damp northwest climate, there's the climate of my home, the climate of my work, the climate inside me that is affected by all three.

At work, which is probably the most obviously lurking, hulking shadow I deal with, the first round of layoffs has already happened. The next is scheduled in 2 weeks. The climate has gotten increasingly hostile as what is almost a feud has grown up between our offshore technicians and our Helpdesk agents that answer questions for them. My experience has been that the offshore techs are no worse than any new agent with little experience would be, and the only challenge they truly face is learning how to handle the accent and language problem. But many people are bordering on hostile to them because of the company's decision to give them jobs that up until this year, our friends and colleagues were doing.

The fractiousness has spilled over into other parts of the office. People turn on their teammates for any perceived lack in teamwork, everyone becomes more critical, and morale drops yet again as those who will be left after the layoffs are told they will be expected to be able to do the work of any of their teammates, regardless of specialty, training or experience. The animosity towards management has been present for so long that it hardly seems fair to call it part of the climate; at this point, it's almost more like part of the landscape. A couple of years ago, the intelligent yet independent faction in the office sported signs on their cube walls announcing "I survived Clamp-Down 2004!" We talked about having t-shirts made. The morale problem, the animosity towards management, those have been part of our landscape for that long.

At home, the climate is calmer. My partner and I do our best to support each other, and I've stopped discussing work at home because I need to leave it at the office. We're still learning how to live together, though. After 6 months, we've got the fairly obvious stuff down, but there's still nights when I can't sleep and days when we completely misjudge what the other wants or needs. Our attitudes towards money and saving are different - I prefer to save for a goal now and spend later when I know that the money is there. He relies on being able to earn more money later to fill in the gaps created by spending now. And that's something that we need to work on when we can approach it mindfully.

I've hit my time limit on morning pages, so will have to come back and edit this later.

Edited to continue typing

The physical climate has been a challenge. This is the Northwest. It rains. Some years it doesn't rain much at all, like last year, and the lakes and reservoirs start to dry up, like they did last summer. Others, it doesn't do anything but rain. Like this one.

I don't know about record breaking, but it rained almost continuously from January until March, and when it didn't rain, it was grey and threatening. Needless to say, for a nature photographer, that much rainfall is difficult. While I have rain gear and I have protective covering for my camera, there's just nothing particularly photogenic about rainy, wet, grey days. Or trees still dormant for winter. Or flowers that haven't bloomed yet. I often consider Imbolc the start of spring - after all, there's been winter holidays already, let's move on to the next thing. I get impatient. Not that I start out as a very patient person in the first place.... But lock me up inside with my camera for more than a month, and I run out of things to shoot indoors. As intrigued as I am by the concept of Food Photography, the mandate not to waste food is too strong in me. I need to use food that will get eaten, not prepare it, shoot it, then throw it out. And preparing garnishes, etc, takes both time and money. Oh, I could do it, but it won't get me outdoors into nature, where I need to be to ground and take in calm, smooth energy.

So, where was I.... I run out of things to shoot indoors after about a month. Mostly because I need to get outside, away from the city, or at least to a spot where I can pretend the city doesn't exist around me. Away from people. And the climate this winter hasn't been conducive to that. Which affects the climate inside myself. I'm an impatient person - I don't knit because I want something where I can see results now. I'm working on an altered book that is probably the maximum of my patience. Being shut away waiting for the weather to clear up enough to get back outside tries my patience and fails. Most of all, I get fidgety as the impatience builds up and sits there, pulling my attention. I feel sluggish for not moving around as much - exercising indoors has never had much appeal for me.

The climate at work affects me, too. Working for autocrats who have previously removed positions solely because the people in those positions were open about disagreeing with them means none of us dare say anything to them about how unhappy we are with the direction they're taking our company. Clamping down on emotions like that, even just for the 8 hour day, is unhealthy, and I wind up walking around frustrated and angry. Emotions that I could drain if I could just get outside to appreciate the rest of the world and put things back into perspective. Since I can't get outside where I need to be - even if it stopped raining, water and snow levels were so high and low respectively that I couldn't reach the places that I wanted to be - finding some kind of outlet for the negative emotions has been 3 times more difficult. So I've been stuck with them for longer. And at home, learning to balance with my DH-to-be, 6 months into living under the same roof, things are better. We laugh and play and that helps. But some days we squabble over housework or money, and that makes home a little bit less helpful. The squabbles are, I think, healthy, or would be if I could restrain my tendency to be abusive. Overall, though, we are moving towards understanding each other and setting up paths to a strong relationship through compromise.

Hoo, that's a lot about climates.

Sparkly, Bubbly Thoughts

Life Organizing and CQ ThoughtsPoppy LochridgeComment
Recently, I turned down a job. Someone who's known me professionally for a couple of years gave me the lead; I followed up on it and decided not to go through even with the interview.

Over the past couple of years, it has become crystal clear to me that I cannot live the high-powered life that some of my colleagues expect to have. On top of a full-time job, I spend a few hours a week on maintaining the home that my fiance and I share - up to roughly 8 hours a week since we don't have human children to clean up around. I spend a minimum of an hour a day on my relationship with my fiance - I fear the day when we no longer have time just to sit and talk. Some time goes to maintaining relationships with family, and some with friends. And finally, some time each week goes into creating something beautiful, whether it is photos (preferred) or art (when the weather is too bad for the camera). I simply don't have time to work a 60-hour week for anyone. I have enough trouble with a 40-hour week!

What does all of this have to do with sparkles or bubbles? If you search online for "work-life balance," the trail of results leads eventually to Cultural Creatives, along other places.

I picked up the Cultural Creatives book and read it. Parts of it call to me, like whales sounding underwater. It resonates, makes me shiver. "Yes," I thought, "this describes me."

The Questionaire
You are likely to be a Cultural Creative if you...

1. ...love Nature and are deeply concerned about its destruction
2. ...are strongly aware of the problems of the whole planet (global warming, destruction of rainforests, overpopulation, lack of ecological sustainability, exploitation of people in poorer countries) and want to see more action on them, such as limiting economic growth

3. ...would pay more taxes or pay more for consumer goods if you could know the money would go to clean up the environment and to stop global warming

4. ...place a great deal of importance on developing and maintaining your relationships

5. ...place a lot of value on helping other people and bringing out their unique gifts

6. ...do volunteering for one or more good causes

7. ...care intensely about both psychological and spiritual development

8. ...see spirituality or religion as important in your life, but are concerned about the role of the Religious Right in politics

9. ...want more equality for women at work, and more women leaders in business and politics

10. ...are concerned about violence and abuse of women and children around the world

11. ...want our politics and government spending to put more emphasis on children's education and well-being, on rebuilding our neighborhoods and communities, and on creating an ecologically sustainable future

12. ...are unhappy with both the Left and the Right in politics, and want a to find a new way that is not in the mushy middle

13. ...tend to be somewhat optimistic about our future, and distrust the cynical and pessimistic view that is given by the media

14. ...want to be involved in creating a new and better way of life in our country

15. ...are concerned about what the big corporations are doing in the name of making more profits: downsizing, creating environmental problems, and exploiting poorer countries

16. ...have your finances and spending under control, and are not concerned about overspending

17. ...dislike all the emphasis in modern culture on success and "making it," on getting and spending, on wealth and luxury goods

18. ...like people and places that are exotic and foreign, and like experiencing and learning about other ways of life.

I'm having a hard time, though, with part of the buy in. I'm still skeptical. In my understanding of history and society, being but a casual observor of both, trends in thought, beliefs, and fashion go in circles. The big "counter culture" in my college days was Goth. To slink around, wearing black and maroon, and acting depressed as if the world was on the verge of annihilation any second and there was nothing we could do to stop it, was the ultimate in cool for kids who wanted to be different. The differences between mid-90s Goths and earlier nihilistic trends is pretty minimal in substance. So I'm suspicious any time someone claims that we have a "new" trend, because I suspect that it is probably just an old trend in new clothes.

The book's authors, Paul Ray and Sherry Ruth Anderson, discuss the roots of what they see as a new trend in people like me, people who care about our values as much as about our physical wellbeing. The roots, they say, are in the rights movements of the 60's. They provide a description of the Civil Rights movement, with a focus on which aspects of that they consider important to the growth of a new subculture. Feminism receives the same treatment. In both cases, although they state that one of the defining features of this new subculture, they fail to give present-day examples of where these movements fit into the new thought. The environmental movement receives the most attention, giving the impression that the authors came at the new culture out of the environmental movement and have not done much research outside of that movement.

Adding to the feeling I get of the quality of research done is the statistics online. The Cultural Creatives website shows statistics which were not included in the book itself. The demographic spread shows clearly that most of those surveyed were White. Indeed, judging by their numbers, 84% of the survey recipients on whom they base most of their data, were White or did not list their race.

In sum, I'm skeptical, both of the research methods and of the novelty of this shift to sustainability. However, I can see within our culture the effects of it: more and more holistic providers, the growth of the life coaching industry, and the growth of organic foods from a specialty niche to their own section in the supermarket. I'd like to see this trend continue, and include all of the US, and grow past just our culture to inspire other peoples to adopt sustainability where possible.





Introducing My Furry Support Staff

Life Organizing and CQ ThoughtsPoppy LochridgeComment

See the introduction to this series of posts.

Freya


At almost 4, Freya is the oldest of my two cats, the middle of the three cats that DH-to-be and I share. I've had her since she was a 7 week old ball of fluff. She has the build of a small tiger, and regularly brings home whatever the catch of the week is in the nearby field. She's a fiesty little girl, just like her human mother, and loves to chomp hands.

Odin

Odin was a foundling. Two and a half years ago, we heard a mew coming from outside the window. Investigation revealed a tiny kitten, just 3 weeks old, who had wandered away from his mother. Other people had come over to look, and I feared that there were enough humans around to scare off his mother, a stray. Since he was so young, he had to be bottle-fed for the next month before we could wean him onto solid food. My mother graciously "babysat" during the week while I worked to make sure that he was warm and fed. He's the youngest of our three cats, and the one most likely to chase someone else through the house. He thinks he's playing; they seem to have other ideas. He's also a big fuzzy mama's boy, and will usually curl up for a nap in whatever room I'm working in.

I don't have a soul card yet for our third cat; she and I have only been in the same house for about 6 months.

While I'm Sick....

Life Organizing and CQ ThoughtsPoppy LochridgeComment

Since I've been either depressed/feeling sorry for myself or sick all week, here's some soul work that I did last fall. I went away for a couple of days on an individual retreat, and designed a set of Soul Collage cards to identify the different aspects of my life. Like the soul they represent, these are a work of art in progress.

The Should Ladies


The Should Ladies are my bane. They are the perfectionists who sit on my shoulders, flipping through Good Housekeeping, and point out houses that are cleaner, better kept, and prettier than mine.

"Your house should look like this, dear," they tell me. "So what if you'd have to give up everything else you enjoy doing to make your house look like this, it would be so worth it!"

I've realized that decorating and housekeeping magazines (even Real Simple, which has a lot of "how to organize your home" articles) do for my Should Ladies what fashion magazines do for women's body images. They present an inaccessible standard, one that's unrealistic for someone who works a full time paying job, juggles part-time unpaid creative work, and tries to maintain supportive relationships.

"Aren't you a rope?" "Nope, I'm a frayed knot."

Life Organizing and CQ ThoughtsPoppy LochridgeComment
I know I'm at the end of my rope when I catch myself over-reacting. Crying over something small, angry over a minor slight. I'm usually aware enough to catch myself fairly quickly, and I try not to let my over-reation affect anyone else.

I hit that point this morning. My DH-to-be commented that he might have gotten over the virus he has a wee bit faster if it hadn't been for the meal I made on Tuesday making him ill, thus prolonging the cold he's been home with most of the week.

Tuesday was the most difficult day I had all week. As time goes on, my reasons for needing a major change become clearer and clearer. Just to function on a daily basis in the job I've been working at for almost 5 years now requires more dishonesty than I can take. Tuesday wasn't a particularly unusual day; I did all of the things I usually do on Tuesdays. And this week, I just didn't have the energy when I walked out the door at 5 to make anything more complex than a pizza for dinner. DH wasn't due home from work for another couple of hours, after working a 12-hour day himself, so I convinced myself that I couldn't even let him worry about dinner - after all, what's so different between a tiring 8 hour day and a tiring 12 hour one? Where was I really hurting enough to ask him to pick up my slack?

Long story short, I picked up an enchilada dinner "kit" at the store and some soy sausage (I don't eat ground meats, so beef was out of the question). I was exhausted and I did my best to provide some kind of food. And it made him sick.

My first reaction when he told me was horror. No! Not my cooking! My second was panic. Oh my gods, I thought, I'll never be able to have an off day again during the half of the week that I cook.

I crawled into the shower where I could sob without anyone hearing me. And I realized, mid-choke, that I had run head-long into one of the classic conundrums in my life: if it comes down to taking care of my partner or taking care of myself, which should I do?

Obviously, the answer is simple - him or me is a false dichotomy. The real answer is to do better at keeping simple meals in the freezer for days when there's no energy. Or just call out for pizza again. Or I could have spent the time that it took me to wander mindlessly though the store picking up enchilada sauce going to KFC for some skinless chicken (there are days when I miss having Boston Chicken in town). Jumping to the conclusions that I did - after having a challenging week already - just confirms that I'm at the end of my tether yet again. I've lost balance. Time to re-find my center.

I had already planned to start the year's hiking this weekend, knowing I needed to get outside for a while to refresh myself. I almost left this morning right after my shower, just to get away, take my over-reacting little butt away so that DH didn't have to try to carry my burden, too. It didn't happen. For one, the weather should be nicer tomorrow, when I had planned on going anyways.

Ideal Day

Life Organizing and CQ ThoughtsPoppy LochridgeComment

Here is my ideal day:


In my ideal day, I would wake up in the morning whenever I happen to wake up - alarms make me groggy and less happy about morning.

I need to move around first thing in the morning because the way I sleep causes my shoulders to cramp and tense up - so moving early helps me feel better all day.

I usually read email and blogs while eating breakfast - they can become time monsters if I keep going after I've eaten, though, and take up most of the morning.

Morning, especially early morning, is one of the best times ever for photography because the light quality is so different. I'd want some hours in the morning to spend taking pictures or making jewelry or one of the other projects I've picked up over the years and never made a habit.

Lunch would be a time to connect with people I care about. Some days, maybe I'd lunch with my mother, some with my best friend, and some with my fiance. I crave a certain amount of connection with others that has been present at times in my life and absent at other periods.

I can't pull myself away from the idea of working for a living - I enjoy being productive. I'd prefer to work 4-6 hour days instead of 8 hour days, and at my own pace so that I could determine when I was too tired to continue. I'm not committed at this point to working for myself, but I suspect that, in the current market, running my own business is the only way I would have enough control over how much got done and when. It's an idea that I will explore later; right now is not the time (although I'm considering making some photo products available now to see what kind of response they get.)

The evening is devoted to my fiance and soon-to-be-husband. We'd share a nice sunset if I could control the weather, make dinner together, and rest together. I'd pick up a good book, one that's not going to make me angry, and play some soft music to relax us while he picks up a video game or reads the latest research on game design.

And then, I'd fall into a very satisfied sleep, knowing that I've done the best that I could do with the time given to me that day.

Enough

Life Organizing and CQ ThoughtsPoppy LochridgeComment

Edit: Long and rambling post ahead is the result of writing without actively thinking about what to say.

Today's a difficult day for inner organizing.

It's 4 pm, and I'm tired, restless, and bored. I feel as though I never have enough time for the things I want to do, the things I yearn for , and never enough energy. Afternoons at work tend to be slow times, but I'm given very little options with my schedule - Management insisted that we have two people here in the afternoons and they haven't retracted it yet.

I keep coming back to the "Enough" question - how would I live if I were enough, had enough? I'm not sure I can envision a world where I have enough. Time, especially - I yearn to be creative, I yearn to just go have fun and play games.

My average day, though, time monsters and all.... I get up 2 1/2 hours before I need to be at work, and spend 90 minutes of that browsing web sites, catching up on my email, and posting or preparing a picture for the day. Web browsing - reading blogs, reading forums, rating pictures on Usefilm, looking for responses to my comments - is probably my biggest time monster. I could probably easily replace some of that time with something healthier - some of the week, at any rate. I've given up most of the blogs that I read regularly, cut a list of 15-20 down to 3-4 that download into Thunderbird so that I get them with my email.

While I'm reading email and blogs, I eat breakfast. Then, an hour before I have to be at work, I shower, brush my teeth, get dressed, and leave. My commute is too short to really take advantage of the time I'm in the car - realistically, if my ankles were stronger, I could walk to work in about the same amount of time it takes me to drive. On the bright side, I'm not stuck with an hour long commute like someone in a larger city would be. On the other hand, it would be so easy to take advantage of the books on tape or meditation cds in the car to remind me of what really matters.

Then, I arrive at work. I have enough leeway in my job and workspace that if I'm not actively taking calls from the minute I walk in, no-one objects, as long as I'm being productive. And first thing in the morning is when I do an initial sort through my email, look for anything new or pending that needs to be addressed immediately. Then, I log into my phone to let the system know I'm here. And I wait. Some days, a call comes through right away and I'm busy until my scheduled coffee (cocoa) break. Others, it's quiet and the phone doesn't ring for an hour. Either way, when I come back from lunch, I sort through my email again, handle anything that's come in or hit its due date, and call back as many people from my outgoing call list as I can before their offices close. From then until the end of the day tends to be fairly quiet; perhaps one call in the afternoon, but otherwise, I'm only there "just in case." Just in case a lot of people need to call in, need help, need me.

By the time I leave at 5:30, I'm exhausted more from the effort of trying to keep myself productive for the last 90 minutes after spending the first part of the day trying to find creative solutions for situations that were never foreseen. It's time to go home. Part of the week, I go home and have about an hour before I need to start dinner so that my fiance can eat when he gets home from his 12 hour shift. I usually spend that hour downloading the day's personal email and checking all of the blogs again to see if there's something new and interesting. I also make sure the cats are fed and petted.

So, looking over my usual schedule, my two biggest time monsters are work and web browsing. If I could just get rid of both of those, I'd have plenty of time and plenty of energy. But I'm rather fond of supporting myself, which lets out just giving up the job entirely, and web browsing is how I stay in contact with the world around me. There's a whole sub-thread I could go into there about my mother and her belief that it is Right and Proper for each voting individual to stay informed about the world so that we are part of the world, but that's a tangent I don't want to follow right now.

Add to the mix that I'm a photographer. My preferred subject is the natural world - of which there's pitiful little I can make photos of after 5:30 when I leave work. It's just now getting to where it's light enough to see my way to my car when I leave the office. So the hours after work which I could salvage by letting go of some of the blog reading, comment hunting, and web browsing really won't do me any good in terms of creating. It's the hours when there's light to paint with that I'd need to free up for that to help me create. Perhaps there some other way that I could use the night-time hours during the winter, when it's dark and dreary and there's very little that's attractive enough in Willamette Valley to photograph. We don't have many pretty winter landscapes, we have mud and rotting leaves and wet.

So, I guess, long story short, right now I don't feel like I have enough time because I'm working during the hours I'd rather be creating, and letting my time monsters eat up time outside of work because the conditions aren't perfect for doing what I yearn to do. I don't feel like I have enough energy because I'm such a morning person, and I spend my mornings working for someone else. I'd love to start my own business one of these days, selling photo products, but I dread and fear the business end (although there's parts of that I'd be good at) and I'm currently the primary income for my household and we need that right now. I believe so strongly in fairness that it infects my feminism - it's no more fair to ask my DH to take on the typical male role and be strong and sturdy and primary wage-earner than it would be for him to insist that I give up my dreams to be the typical housewife.