29 January, 2013

On letting go of guilt

Unfortunately, this is not a how-to post. And, though I know guilt over great things, or things of consequence, is something to discuss, it isn't what I'm discussing. I mean guilt over little things. Things that will reveal themselves to be trivial in a year or a month, a day, or even an hour.

In recent years, I've turned into something of a worrier. I have probably always had something of a worrier about me; worried to break rules, worried to disappoint others, worried to embarrass myself. Recently, though, I feel this has escalated. So instead of normal (though childish) fears of breaking rules and getting in trouble, I now tend to worry about what my obligations are. This, I suspect, is a normal concern as one journeys further into adulthood.

I've spent a significant amount of time thinking about how much I worry and then growing subsequently more anxious over how these worries have impacted my life. There is a point in all of this, though, and it is this: nearly all the times I feel anxious or worried or guilty over something it is because I haven't defined appropriate boundaries in my life and, more specifically, within myself.

An example: today I took a personal day from work. This is allowed. I have a certain number of personal days to use each year. I didn't have any meetings or phone calls scheduled and this is a relatively slow time of year in my line of work. Yet as soon as I made the decision to take a personal day, I started to feel guilty. And then this made me anxious. And then and then and then... You can see the pattern that develops.

Today ended up being a little different, however. Today I stopped that line of thinking as swiftly as I could. I set a boundary. Defined, my boundary is: my personal time is my personal time. That's it. I foster unnecessary stress over something that should not be stressful.

It is so easy to miss the beautiful, small parts in an ordinary day. I will no longer ruin the beautiful, small parts in an ordinary day because I'm anxious about something that matters not at all.

Something to remember. (Which is why I'm committing it to electronic page.)

02 May, 2011

Little pleasures...

...for a girl who has been stuck inside with a cold all day.

I bought a bottle of L'Occitane's Calanques Eau de toilette several months ago. It's a light, watery fragrance inspired by the rocky inlets of southern France (Google it-- amazing). This scent makes me think of summer, but the initial reason I bought it was because it smells like the first "scent" I ever wore:
I'm tempted to buy a bottle online just to see if the memory I have of Love's Rain Scent is correct. It seems my tastes haven't matured in the last sixteen years, but oh well, at least I'm consistent.

Another source of happiness today:

I'm only a third of the way through, but this novel is surprising and full of the kind of details I love. The kind of details which make humans both pitiful and beautiful.

And, finally, my toes. My feet have enjoyed the pleasure of sandals exactly twice so far this year. The weather seems to be making a turn in the direction of spring, so hopefully there are more sandal days in the near future. Even so, walking around my apartment in bare feet and catching the occasional glimpse of Essie's Geranium on my toes makes me happy.

I hope your day has been full of pleasures--  great or small. 

03 April, 2011

Spring in Chicago

In November, I moved to Chicago. Admittedly, November is not the best time to move -- alone-- to Chicago. I knew this and attempted to prepare myself for a long winter indoors; for months of learning my new city through windows and hurried walks from one destination to the next. And, minus a few mild days that made being outside less painful, that is how my winter went. There are several things that eased me through my first Chicago winter: books, telephone calls, re-runs of the Golden Girls, latt├ęs, and one individual I am beyond grateful to have met.

But now, spring has arrived. Officially, at least. Chicago remains cool and, as yet, unadorned by flowers or green, but there have been a few beautiful, warm(ish) sunny days, and yesterday was one of them. And so, a walk was in order. Up calm side streets, back down against the chaotic human tangle of Michigan Avenue, relief at a dark, noisy bar with a big pizza and enormous margaritas.

It was a wonderful walk.

Before I moved, I was warned by multiple sources that living in a city can be horribly lonely. I don't disagree. If I had moved to Chicago expecting a warm welcome to the neighborhood, I would have been bitterly disappointed. But I'm not sure who would ever expect such a thing. Like relationships in other places, relationships in cities take time. Perhaps it is the sheer number of people in a relatively few square miles that gives some people the illusion of camaraderie. In Chicago, as in every other place I have been, people are busy living their lives. It is true that sometimes I find it off-putting and feel sorely out of place when I offer a smile that is not returned. And perhaps it is true that the view I have adopted, that of observer, is not conducive to any meaningful civic contribution. But I also like the idea of people just living their lives. Silence doesn't have to be unfriendly.

...At such times I begin to notice how many of us there are. The hurry of the streets is an illusion. The noises that rise in clouds, and the too-many suits of clothes and hats that sweep by--all these things are part of an illusion. The fact drifts through my tired senses that there is an amazing silence in the streets--the silence inside of people's heads.
                                                        -- Ben Hecht, 1001 Afternoons in Chicago

01 May, 2010

Self-inflicted broken heart.

Funny how that goes sometimes.

21 November, 2009

There's something quieter than sleep

I had to go to school today to work on a project. Not fun. However, I took advantage of being on that side of town during daylight hours to stop by the little cemetery I once lived near. It is one of my most favorite places in the world. My sister and I spent hours in this cemetery when we were small, playing among the trees and old headstones. The fact that it houses the remains of hundreds of people long-dead never bothered us. To me, cemeteries are beautiful and peaceful. And, really, isn't that the way they should be?

Don't get me wrong, I probably wouldn't go walking through a cemetery alone at night, but that has less to do with the fact that it's a cemetery and more to do with the fact that I am (a little bit) afraid of the dark.

This last photo is Lottie's headstone. I don't know who she was, but I have to say hello whenever I make a trip to the cemetery. Her grave is in a quiet corner under some old trees. She was a married woman of 21 when she died in 1903 and I think this is why I am drawn to her. I try to imagine what she was like and what her life was all about. I have a feeling she was pretty cool.

17 November, 2009


It is disconcerting when you find yourself verbalizing all kinds of things you have never spoken aloud before. Especially when you are speaking to someone that you don't know very well and you realize that the words falling out of your mouth sound crazy and there is not a single thing you can do to stop them. Until today, I had never experienced this. Now, sitting at home and thinking about it, not only is my behavior bizarre, it is also rather humiliating.

There are just some days I wish I could do over.

13 November, 2009


The most perfect necklace in the world:

I cannot explain my rabbit mania. It could have something to do with my recent re-reading of the adventures of Fiver and Hazel in Watership Down, though I feel like this yearning for bunnies stretches further back in time. I have been on the hunt for the perfect rabbit necklace and this one from Anthropologie feels like the right one. So that I can continue to provide myself with food and shelter, I will just have to dream about wearing this rabbit round my neck until it goes on sale. (Damn you, basic necessities!)