I stepped from Plank to Plank
A slow and cautious way
The Stars about my Head I felt
About my feet the Sea.

I knew not but the next
Would be my final inch -
This gave me that precarious Gait
Some call Experience.

Emily Dickinson, c. 1864

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Reminiscing and new adventures

Hanging out together
My coffeeshop friend John has started sending me funny sayings and collections of pictures that I would otherwise miss. This was one of them, and I spent quite awhile looking at this one and saved it to share with you today. I'm not sure what these little creatures are; I thought mice at first, but now I'm not so sure.

It made me ponder how much I appreciate and enjoy my friendships, and how important each one becomes over time. I've got another new friend, a woman who moved into the apartment complex a few months back. We went to the movies together yesterday to see Eddie Redmayne in The Danish Girl, where Redmayne plays the part of a transgender person who undergoes sex reassignment surgery in the early twentieth century. It's based on a book by the same name that I've put on hold at the library. Although the novel is fictional, it is loosely based on the lives of two married Danish painters. Lili Elbe wrote an autobiography that was published in 1933, Man Into Woman.

Although the reviews are not overwhelmingly positive, I found the movie to be beautiful in just about every way. Tom Hooper directed it, as he also did with Les Miserables and The King's Speech, two other movies I enjoyed very much. Both Redmayne and his co-star Alicia Vikander have been nominated for numerous honors for their parts in this movie. It's one I would recommend, but then again, there are so many wonderful movies to see right now, as we get ready for the announcement of the Oscar nominations on Friday. I usually try to see all the potential nominees beforehand, but that's not going to be possible this year, it seems. There are too many all at once!

I have finished my online training modules for the End-of-Life Advance Care Directive facilitator training I'm going through. At the end of the month I will attend a full day in-person training session and then I'll be ready to volunteer. I've learned quite a bit of new communication skills and look forward to putting them to use helping other people fill out their own ADCs. One skill I will have to work on is to put my own feelings and preconceptions aside. I look forward to mastering the exceptional skill sets that have been created for this important task. I'm not there yet, but I will get plenty of practice beforehand (I'm hoping). Do you detect a little trepidation? Yes, it's there all right, but I trust the process and will just take it a step at a time.

Ever since I moved here in 2008, I've been looking for just the right place to volunteer my time. Knowing that I can get overextended in no time at all, I've been cautious. It was the process of filling out our own ADC forms and the help I received from our own facilitator that got me interested in this. Little did I realize how much is involved in becoming certified. It is a worthwhile endeavor, though, and I'm glad I've continued to explore it. Isn't it interesting how much of a difference a single event can make in the trajectory of one's life? When I think about how different my life would be if I hadn't starting going for coffee at Avellino's, for example. I wouldn't have met my fisherman friend Gene, my young friend Leo, or my newest coffeeshop friend John.

It was an employee at Starbuck's who got me turned on to Avellino's, when I asked if there were any existing coffeeshops that still used the old-style espresso machines. I was told about a shop just down the street that had one, and I learned that it is an Italian built antique named Stella. I had many an espresso made from that machine. It has now been retired and sits in a place of honor over the doorway. But I still go there for the companionship and the coffee.

This past week, I have also gone to two yoga classes at Yoga Northwest, where I've signed up to attend three months of classes. At the beginning of the year, they have ten days of free classes where people can attend and see how they like them. There are two that interest me at this time, Gentle Yoga and Gentle II, the next step up. I tried them both, and I realize that for now, the first one is probably the most appropriate. I had not been exposed to Iyengar yoga before, and in my usual fashion I am reading the biography of the founder. He died in 2014 at the age of 95, and the pictures of him show that he had the most amazing eyebrows I've ever seen. I have the feeling that embarking on this new chapter in my life will introduce some changes I cannot foresee from here, but I predict that it will be an adventure. I know I walked out of each of those two classes feeling taller and lighter.

Recently I read somewhere that thinking of one's life as a series of chapters makes a great deal of sense. Thinking of the chapter of being an active skydiver just recently closed, makes me think of that time in a very different way. It was time to stop, I knew it was, but I didn't want to let something so central and important to me just fade away. I can always open that chapter and reminisce if I want to, just like I do with the memories I have of my parents, of my son, and of other friends and activities that have moved out of my present-day life. And with the technologies of today, I don't even have to wonder how Lauren, the present owner of my skydiving gear, is doing: it's all there on Facebook. I saw pictures and videos of her in Arizona this past holiday season, skydiving and smiling and doing all the things that I once did, looking extremely happy. It made me happy to see it, and there was only joy where once there would have been sadness not to be there myself.

I'm not sure how many chapters are left in this book of life, but I am happy to have had as many exciting and wonderful ones as I have. I can now enjoy them as I look back at all the people I have known, places I've seen, and adventures I've benefited from. Another chapter that began in 2009 was that of blogging, an activity that takes up much of my life these days. I've got an entire universe of friends and acquaintances that I visit daily. The amount of enjoyment and benefit I get from this activity is still being plumbed. (Is that the right word? I love words and wordplay, but sometimes I get carried away.)

And the interaction with my readers that I enjoy through your comments! That is priceless. I learn new things, and I find new friends every week. Sometimes I'll wonder what happened to so-and-so, and I'll go off to their blog to see if somehow I missed a post. Usually it's just the holidays or a case of the sniffles that keeps us away from our regular activities, but it's always nice to know that my friends are hanging out and handing me flowers from their own perch in the blogosphere.

Until next week, dear friends, be kind to yourself and don't forget to hug somebody, even if it's yourself. I've wrapped my arms around myself just now and am noticing that it feels pretty good. Makes it hard to type, though. It's time for me to start my day, now that I've accomplished another post. After a quick read-through, I'll hit publish. Be well!


Linda Reeder said...

Good morning! I'm up and going with a sense of anticipation this morning. The Seahawks play at 10:00 in a frigid Minneapolis. We fans are all wondering which team will show up, the one that defeated the Cardinals so soundly last week, or the one that lost so miserably at home the week before.
The sky is clear this morning. Looks like there'l be a walk somewhere this afternoon.
I appreciate you movie reviews. I hope to get to see the nominated movies, but with ten potential award winners, that may be hard to do. Unlike you, I don't have a head start!
Wishing you smooth sailing in the week ahead.

Gigi said...

Yes, I believe you used the word plumbed properly. When you mentioned a while back that you were giving up skydiving I wondered whether or not you would regret doing so, I'm glad to see that you haven't.

Have yourself a wonderful week, DJan. And I'm sending you a great big, cyber-hug!

Anonymous said...

I sometimes look back on my life, and some of it is not that good. But, I have managed to make it to age 70, so that in itself is an achievement.

Enjoy the rest of your life, DJan.

Elephant's Child said...

Loved the idea of reviewing life's experience as chapters. Some long, some short, some happy, some sad - and all contributing to the whole.
Have a wonderful, wonderful week.

Arkansas Patti said...

Believe those are hamsters and quite creative little fellows. True co-operation.
How nice that you can follow your gear and its new owner. It really did go to a good home. You can vicariously still dive.
You are really making an effort to see all the Oscar nominations. You will have to give us your predictions.

Tabor said...

You take your life by the horns and live it. I learn that from you and realize I need to be less of a drifter and more of a marcher. I hope some readers learn from my mistakes if they cannot learn from my active decisions.

Rhapsody said...

Reminiscing can be good for the spirit.
love the photo.
Yoga hmmmm, i've never tried that.

have a fabulous week

Marie Smith said...

The hamsters are incredible. Our daughter had them for years rather than a dog. Now she has a dog and we get to dog-sit.

I believe that the people who come into our lives bring something that we need at that time. Being open to them can enrich our lives so much.

Have a great week.

Linda Myers said...

How wonderful that you have found a volunteer activity you feel called to do!

Red said...

With this post I can see a book...a biography. You've lead a very active and interesting life. There have been highs and lows. Research the ancestors a bit and then off you go telling your story. You've done a lot of reflecting and have different angles on the "chapters" in your life.

Rita said...

Those are photoshopped hamsters. I had hamsters, mice, rats, and guinea pigs when I was a kid.

I'm glad you are down to the final session of your training. You will be wonderful!

You will know which is the perfect yoga group or groups for you. You might like more than one. :)

My life has been chapter-filled! To the brim. I have a lot to look back on. Good and bad, I wouldn't change a thing. Have a marvelous week. :)

The Broad said...

This is such a wonderful post. From the opening photo, which made me smile, to your new ventures and commitments. I love the idea looking back on life as 'chapters' that can be looked at again and again. That is very helpful and philosophical. Sometimes I look at my own life and it seems full and even adventurous at times. But then again, sometimes it feels dull and unimaginative -- it all depends on the day. You are a fine example of how to live one's life and it is a great privilege to have you as a blogging friend.

Trish and Rob MacGregor said...

Cute little guys in that pic and another beautiful post! Have a wonderful week.

Far Side of Fifty said...

I hope you have many more chapters to write! I would like to volunteer someplace, however I have logged quite a few hours with the Fire and Rescue Department, the township and the Museum. So I don't feel too guilty. I am certain you will take on this latest challenge of yours with the utmost understanding and dignity! You are a blessing to many and a good friend:)

Sally Wessely said...

Thanks for the movie review. I hope to see this movie. As for chapters in a life, I don't think I'm on the last chapter, I hope, but the story is winding down.

I am looking into finding a place for gentle yoga. The Y doesn't offer much in that area of instruction. I see my back doc tomorrow. I hope he will release me to do some yoga.

Barb said...

I used to be an avid volunteer, but since having grandchildren, I spend more time with them and less on other worthy activities. I try not to schedule myself too tightly. I enjoy the freedom of retirement. I do modified Yoga stretches every morning - they save my back and help my posture. I think I'm on the final chapter, but I'm hoping to add a postscript.

Barbara Torris said...

There is something so comforting about walking through your thoughts and your week with you. Thank you.

amanda | wildly simple said...

I love that you've found the place that's right for you to give your time and service. The cause and it's recipients will be so lucky to have you. I relate in that I, too, have found the place that's right for me to give this last year. I had no idea that in giving blood, I would find something I so strongly want to do more for. Because I donate double red cells, I can only donate every 112 days. This year, I'm ready to step up and give my time between donations and help volunteer at drives. The volunteer women have really inspired me.
Sending a strong squeeze of the hand as we go forward in the new year, DJan!

amanda | wildly simple said...

I love that you've found the place that's right for you to give your time and service. The cause and it's recipients will be so lucky to have you. I relate in that I, too, have found the place that's right for me to give this last year. I had no idea that in giving blood, I would find something I so strongly want to do more for. Because I donate double red cells, I can only donate every 112 days. This year, I'm ready to step up and give my time between donations and help volunteer at drives. The volunteer women have really inspired me.
Sending a strong squeeze of the hand as we go forward in the new year, DJan!

John's Island said...

Hi DJan, Excuse me for being so late with this comment. I’ve been travelling and have had blogging on the back burner for several days. It’s always good to get back to Eye on the Edge. It seems like in every one of your posts I find something that hits home so perfectly … In this post it’s your mention of putting life into chapters. That seems to be a great way to get my mind around all the parts of life. Your chapter on the blogosphere started in 2009 and I started just after that in late 2010, but it was several more years before I found Eye. It has really turned out to be a pleasure and I sure enjoy following you. In the year ahead I’m looking forward to seeing how your new volunteer work will unfold. Thanks for sharing your blog.