Friday, April 22, 2011

Spring Renewal 2011

This year, in fact, for the first time in my recollection, I am energized with an urge to renew and change.

The impulse has spilled over into various aspects of my life. Utilizing the muscle of my 6'5" son, I have moved furniture around in my living and dining rooms, giving the spaces a much more open feel. The fireplace mantle is adorned with a steady supply of fresh roses from my garden, and their fragrance is the best form of aromatherapy.

In the kitchen, I'm rethinking what's on my counter-top and in the cupboards. If it's not going to be used, off it goes to charity or to my daughter-in-law. As I do this purge, I recall to mind Dr. David Whyte's concept of "radical simplification," and it's so freeing!

And I'm boycotting my TV for awhile. While I've never considered myself a hard-core couch potato, there are some reruns that, as beloved as they are, need to be put to the side. Instead, I've bumped up my personal reading time, which is as essential to my cognitive health as my professional journal-reading is to my career.

Here's what I've got going on, concurrently, by my bedside:

Passages in Caregiving, by Gail Sheehy. This book will join her other work in my bookcase.

Take the Stress out of Your Life by Jay Winner, M.D. This comes with two CD's, to which I have already begun listening.

The Art of Non-Conformity:Set Your Own Rules, Live the Life You Want, and Change the World, by Chris Guillebeau. This looks like a blueprint for my continued midlife journey.

And, to prepare for viewing the movie, I've resumed reading Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand.

Last, I recommend to my readers some of the work of David Whyte:

This promises to be a season of renewal on many levels for me...

Friday, April 15, 2011

Souvenirs in Concrete

Call it one of my eccentricities, but I have always been fascinated by the sidewalk. Specifically, those sections of the sidewalk with the contractors' names imprinted in them, or the quickly etched names and dates of those who just can't seem to leave wet cement alone.

I will stop and gaze at these modern-day hieroglyphics, wondering about the people who poured the concrete and then put their company names there. How long ago was it? Did these men (probably true prior to the 1960's, when it was taken for granted that "Men at Work" were exactly that. Did they have a wife and children at home? What did they eat on their lunch breaks? What were their names? Are any of these people still alive, and do they ever think of the impressions on the sidewalks? It's another form of time-capsule.

The sidewalk impressions of the less formal, unapproved type are even more fascinating.

Just who was Cheri E. who inscribed her name and the date May 3, 1973 outside 15760 Ventura Boulevard in Encino, California? Would she even remember doing so, or would someone she knows, by chance, read this blog and let her know that someone in 2011 is interested in her?

Near my church, I recently saw "G.P. 1944" in the cement. Again, I was riveted, just as one might be if one found a bottle with a message in it. What did the writer want others to consider when seeing the initials and date? Again, is this persona alive, and do they remember doing this?

Grafitti just doesn't touch me as much; it can be easily painted over. Words or names in cement, however, carry with them such permanence. There's a guerilla-type defiance to writing in cement. We all want to be remembered, and these people are reaching out over time.

Does anyone else take note of things like this?