Lighten the load

Girl with arms raised in victoryRecently a friend pinged a bunch of us on a social site about spring cleaning. She offered a truck, a crew to help lift, and an opportunity do good. In exchange for doing spring cleaning and yard work, including hauling away stuff to the dump, we could make a donation to her favorite charity.

This appealed to me immediately. First, the children’s charity is a good cause, and would likely have chipped in dollars anyway, knowing my employer would do a match. And second, we had a shed to clean out, and stuff that had been quietly rotting under the deck, that we wanted gone.

780 pounds later, for the first load, and our yard was clearer than it had been for months. Another thing that lightened the load for me, personally, was letting go of boxes of papers that I hadn’t really looked at in 7 years, most of them things that had been transferred from closet to closet. It felt good to let go.

In the process I found a few treasures. Still-mint-in-box action figures from Babylon5 (and yes, I know that calls me out as a geek), and a signed script for the Babylon5 pilot, still pristine in plastic.

Yet one of the best things was the gift of the stuff going away. It was almost as simple as point-and-click; we’d point, and snap, those things went away. And in the end I got to donate to the charity, help a friend reach her fund-raising goal, and feel good about that too. Win.

Copyright 2012 R Loader all rights reserved

Nothing but blue skies

It can be tricky to remember, in Seattle, that blue skies will return. Even in the middle of June and summer, we can have more grey days and rain than most places. We have even coined a weather term “sun breaks” to capture the moments when the sun comes out to play. We rush outside, take a break, and relax in the sunshine. This all got me to thinking about how much joy there is in the simple pleasure of enjoying the summer sunshine. Perhaps we can extend memories of summer further into the year, with the notion that somewhere in the world, there are blue skies and sunshine, right now. The metaphor of happiness and the image of sunshine are linked symbols in large parts of modern culture. Add an image of a child playing, banners or kites flying, and we have the visual representations that blend the concepts of pleasure, summer and happiness.

So where am I going with this? I guess this particular musing is about celebrating the possible, enjoying the blue skies when we have them, and reaching for images of summer and blue skies, or whatever metaphor coincides with happiness for you, when they are not immediately present in the moment. It’s also a bit about the connectedness of things, about life being a spectrum of experiences.

Most of the time, I am aware of the opposite side of the planet, and that they enjoy an opposite season; that’s part of growing up in Australia, falling in love, and coming to live in Seattle. When it is summer in Seattle, winter coats are the order of business in Sydney, and vice versa. It isn’t hard to think of this as a real world example of the doctrine of opposites, or as an example of polarity. It is almost like there’s a big yin/yang symbol swirling its way through the center of the earth, connecting us to the opposite side of the globe. Neither side of the balance is entirely one thing or the other; one side of the pivot is not better than the other; the poles are just the far ends of a spectrum. I think happiness can be thought of that way as well. The spectrum of happiness could be said to move all the way from the pleasure of a good yawn, through to the quiet hum of breathing, and at the far end is the dazzling glow of our favorite things.

As I’m looking out at blue skies now, am taking myself out with a blanket to enjoy it.

Copyright 2012 R Loader all rights reserved

15 minute vacation

From Metten (

A mini vacation practice is to take 15 minutes a day to reflect and be still. Leave the phone behind, take a walk away from the desk, and find somewhere with a view. Look at nature, take deep breaths, and allow the world to pass by.

While not everyone likes to meditate formally, the art of mindful day-dreaming is a great way to relax and renew your spirit. For me, I like to let the eye wander, rather than focusing on any one thing.

I like to look at rocks and tree formations, and notice the patterns, whorls, and imperfections that create variation in form and texture. This is something I can do near my office; there is a garden with rocks and trees in a somewhat random pattern. Across from the office, there’s a water feature as well, and I often watch the sky reflected in the water, together with the breeze making tiny ripples. You may prefer to look at flowers, or watch people as they wander past. Try it and see how much more relaxed you feel.

Copyright 2012 R Loader all rights reserved

Whimsical hats

I don’t know quite when I started enjoying hats so much. It may even go back as far as watching movies with my parents, things like Singing in the Rain or Yanky Doodle Dandy, Mary Poppins with her very proper pinned hat, or the battered fedora on Humphrey Bogart. Hat-ness seemed to indicate a certain kind of coolness.

steampunk hat

Steampunk hat from
Exotic Design Studio

It takes some attitude to wear a hat well. Some part of you needs to embrace the message of the hat, the whimsy of it. I like to use hats to get into character. When on vacation, I like to wear movie star hats, ones with large brims, so I can flirt with the sun while remaining safe from its rays. With casual beach clothing, the casual elegance of a scarf wrapped around the hat reminds me of Sophia Loren or Audrey Hepburn. It’s an accent to the clothing and accessories that adds some polish, some elan.

In the past ten years or so, I’ve thought of the metaphor of hats, of changing hats, deliberately putting on a different mood, persona or attitude. It gives me happiness to try on different looks, especially ones that are a little off kilter, just a little absurd.

I admit to a fondnes for a casual layered look with a formal hat; or a slouchy beret with a big shirt and formal jacket. To a certain extent, hats are a way of juxtaposing views, playing with creativity, getting some more whimsy into my life.

Copyright 2012 R Loader all rights reserved