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, November 6, 2022

Contemplating November

Fall carpet

 I'm trying to figure out what to write about on this November morning. I've got an extra hour of time, since we switched over from Daylight Saving Time last night to Standard Time, giving us the illusion of an extra hour. I've said it before, but I'll say it again: you cannot cut a piece off the blanket and sew it on the other end to make it any longer. It doesn't work. But maybe, just maybe, one of these days they will actually get rid of the practice of changing our clocks twice a year. Some places in the world are already there. 

I am so ready to get back to standard time, since at this latitude the sun is presently coming up at 8:00am, but as of today, it will rise at 7:00am. Of course, this means that the sun will set before 5:00pm, gradually getting earlier and earlier, until we have days that are only a little longer than eight hours (with the rest being spent in the longest night of the year). And then when we get to the winter solstice at the end of December, the days will begin to lengthen and the nights shorten, until we get to the opposite solstice, the summer solstice) in June. There's lots of information about the seasons at timeanddate.com, if you're interested in learning more.

Another event happening here in the United States this week is the upcoming midterm election. Being in Washington State, as I've mentioned before, we have mail-in voting everywhere. We received our ballots and filled them out, and got them into the mail at least a week ago, so the only thing I've been able to do now is give small amounts of money to support candidates I hope to see win. I get an incredible amount of email asking for more, but I've done my part and know when enough is enough. In only a few more days, all those pleas with stop filling my mailbox. I've decided that I will probably not watch the election returns as they come in, since I am hoping to keep myself feeling positive and not get wrapped up in something I have no control over. I'll know the outcome soon enough. 

Wars and elections are both too big and too small to matter in the long run. The daily work— that goes on, it adds up. —Barbara Kingsolver

 Instead, I'll concentrate on what I can do to protect my own peace of mind, and add in a few extra little tricks for the duration. Some things are part of my daily routine anyway. I'll spend some time in meditation and will get some exercise. Hopefully it will not be raining, which we have had plenty of lately. Friday we received more than three full inches of rain, and every time I would look outside to see if it had slowed or stopped, it hadn't. It wasn't all that cold (that's coming within the next few days), but it was wet enough and dark enough that after having walked the half-mile to the bus in the pouring rain, I had had enough. John brought me right home after having enjoyed a nice cup of coffee and company at the coffee shop. Although I was well dressed for the weather, my headlamp wasn't able to help me see the puddles very well, and I splashed through them as I walked, rain splatting on my raincoat and making quite a racket. That was the extent of my exercise on Friday.

Amazingly, yesterday was supposed to have rain in the morning, but we awoke to scattered clouds that ended up giving us full sun for most of the day. It was glorious, and Melanie, Chris and I walked around five miles on our usual Saturday walk, enjoying the change, and we even stopped by the creek on our way to the Arroyo Park bridge to see the salmon beginning their return trip to spawn. Yes, it's November and the wildlife are following ancient urges as the earth turns, and we find ourselves well into the fall season.

 Although we gained that extra hour last night, I am pretending that it is still the same hour that it was before we sewed that hour onto the blanket of time. Therefore, I woke at 4:00am instead of 5:00, which is when my eyes naturally opened anyway. My iPhone and Apple Watch switched over without incident, but I wasn't having it. This gives me longer to write this post and read the news and my comics, as usual. Then John will pick me up for our breakfast in Fairhaven, which has become another part of my Sunday routine. Today, however, it will be light outside, not pitch black as the days have shortened. I think I would prefer to stay in standard time all year round, but that's not up to me, either.

So here is my plan for keeping myself in good spirits during the month of November. First of all, I will continue to get as much exercise as possible, and of course there will be the travel to Florida in just over two weeks. Once I recover from the travel, there will be all the disruption of many family members to deal with. But the good part is that I will once again be with my dear sister Norma Jean (along with the rest) and we'll have a chance to reconnect in person. This Wednesday we will have our last FaceTime before I travel there, and we'll certainly be talking about our plans for the holiday. And the momentous birthdays as well, with my "baby" sister Fia during sixty and me turning, well, you know: eighty. Twenty years between the oldest and the youngest sibling. I haven't seen the rest of my siblings since our sister PJ died February 2014, when we gathered in Texas for the celebration of her life. I wrote about it on my other blog here. It's been almost a decade since then, which is hard for me to believe. 

Hopefully the weather will cooperate so that we can all get to Florida for Thanksgiving. My brother and sister will be driving in their separate cars from Texas with family, and my sister Markee and her husband who lives in Canada will be arriving mid-month to spend the winter months in their Florida home. It was Markee who suggested that we all get together this year to celebrate the big birthdays over Thanksgiving. I wasn't sure about whether I wanted to travel there, since I've been unwilling up until now, and Covid is still not done with us. I'll be wearing masks for my travel, and hopefully it will all come together as we planned, with good traveling weather and lots of time to enjoy each other's company.

The first thing that I'll do differently to stay positive is to start each day with gratitude. It turns out that the brain tends to be most susceptible to our mindset in the first and last half hour or so of each day. So I will continue to count my blessings when I wake up, and again before I slip into sleep. Secondly, I'll find plenty of time to laugh. It turns out that finding ways to laugh and spend time in lighthearted happiness is key to maintaining a good attitude.

I found these tips on a website (of course) that lists "Five Keys to Maintaining a Positive Mindset." The third tip is to get connected. As the website reminds me, humans are social creatures and we need to connect with others as a basic human need, after food, clothing and shelter. I'll be continuing to do this every day, with SG, my coffee shop friends, and others, like you, who bring me such joy. 

The third tip is to contribute. During the election cycle, I give as much as I can, and I also write these blogs for my own contribution to the community. When we give to others (either of our time or financially), it connects us together and makes us feel part of something larger than ourselves. And the last tip is to grow yourself. Learning new things is a really good way to stretch your mind and feel good about life. My most recent foray into learning something new is about Buddhism, and how much it resonates within my own mental processes. At first I felt it was not appropriate for someone who considers herself to be a Christian to study Buddhism, but I've found that they are not incompatible at all. I'm benefiting from both.

So that's my special tips for today, and I will continue to find ways to maintain happiness in a world that seems to be falling apart. Each one of us needs to grow a little, laugh a lot, enjoy each other's company, contribute however we can, and be grateful. Just writing this post has made me feel better. I hope it helps you, too, dear friends. 

My tea is gone, my dear partner sleeps quietly next to me, my post is finished, and I'm ready to continue to enjoy the way this day has begun, with my extra hour wrapped around me, giving me time to smile and get on with things. Until we meet again next week, I wish you all good things.


gigi-hawaii said...

That sounds like a great family get together, celebrating birthdays and reconnecting after all these years. Love the whole idea, DJan. Enjoy!

Rian said...

I'm not sure how I stand on the time change. All I know is that I like to wake up to daylight, not dark... and go to bed with dark, not daylight (but that's just my simplistic view).

As for voting, we did (by mail). Now will we watch the results come in?... probably not... too nerve racking. We will wait till the next morning and hope for the best. I find it hard to believe that the Republicans could possibly win... (used to be Republican years ago, NOT ANYMORE!). But I've been shocked at the outcome of elections before, so I'm preparing myself for whatever happens.

Wishing you a happy fun Sunday, DJan!

ApacheDug said...

DJan, I had a chuckle over the "cutting off one end of the blanket and sewing it to the other end to make it longer", what a perfect example of this clock setting we do twice a year! It will be strange to see nightfall a little after 5pm, I've never gotten used to that. I think I am going to revisit your blog here Tuesday night, as an incentive to take a break from the election results. I wish I could turn them off like yourself, but I haven't attained that level of inner peace you seem to enjoy. Well, I am growing more excited about your upcoming trip to be with your family--I hope you remember to take some pics. :^)

Anvilcloud said...

I stayed up an hour later, so I got up at the same clock time. So, I sorta gained an hour. lol

I also hope they should stop the switch, but I'd prefer sticking daylight savings all of the time.

Have a good week.

Arkansas Patti said...

Like you I have voted and will NOT be watching the returns. Too stressful--the Cliff notes will do me just fine.
I too wish they would just settle with one time but don't have too much hope for that. For a few days I keep one clock on the old time so I can remind myself--and Callie--why we are hungry but it isn't time yet.
Outside of having to take the flight, I'm sure you will have a wonderful time with your family.
Enjoyed your 5 keys and will try to incorporate some of them.

Marie Smith said...

I find the shortened days depressing. Getting outside in nature helps me especially if I am mindful of all around me. It lifts my spirits and makes me peaceful and happy. Finding what works for us is so important.

Those two weeks will fly by, Jan. Masking for travel will be crucial. I hope you will be able to relax and enjoy the trip however!

Elephant's Child said...

Hooray for gratitude - a gift that keeps giving. And giving.
The time changes mess with my mind (and body) too. I really like your analogy. Have a truly wonderful week dear friend - and thank you for this post.

Marty said...

As usual, your post is a form of meditation for me, causing me to think about things a little deeper than what to thaw out for dinner.
Your trip sounds just wonderful, and long overdue.

Linda Reeder said...

Yesterday we attended a little party hosted by one of our longtime teacher friends who has been in ill health for many years and can no longer attend our breakfasts or go anywhere except to medical appointments. Her adult son shares her home and helps her manage. She has always enjoyed hosting lunches or parties. One last time she wanted to do it and see old friends.
She was so agitated and worried that everything be just so. Finally after a lot of trying to help things go smoothy, I asked in a loud voice for all of us hard of hearing, Jeanne, over the last few weeks, what has brought you joy. She thought a bit, then her worried expression faded away, she shared something that made her laugh, and you could see her relax. She went on to share other simple things that brought her joy.
Yes, laughing, sharing, gratitude, and doing for others all worked right then and there.

Linda Myers said...

We run away to Arizona in the winter, so no time change for us. Most complicated thing is changing Zoom meetings where our time is now different from the host's.

I flew home from Europe last week, wore a mask on the plane, and so far have no symptoms of anything except jet lag.

Glenda C. Beall said...

I am having trouble leaving comments on any blog, but will try again. I dislike changing the clocks and wish we would stick to one time no matter which. And I agree that laughter is one of the best medicines we have. I hope your family has a wonderful time together and that you all have much laughter. We can make these older years good by doing what you plan to do. And gratitude is very important. Thanks.

Gigi said...

Voted early last Monday. so that chore is done. No, I will not watch the returns. I never have, so why start now. Wednesday morning I will know what happened.

I didn't realize you were going to be with your family over Thanksgiving. That is awesome.

Like you, I wish they'd stop this tiresome practice of changing the clocks. From what I understand, it doesn't really benefit anyone these days.

Rita said...

I am excited for you to have your trip to be with your siblings after such a long time! I voted by mal quite a while ago and do not plan to watch the returns, either. It is all so frantic and nerve-wracking. I can find out the following day just as well. Can't change the outcome, anyways. Have a fantastic week, my friend! :) :)

Red said...

We can do many things to keep going in a positive direction. Some people have personalities that are more positive than others. You learn and work on the positive. Other people are somewhat negative by nature.

Far Side of Fifty said...

I wish you all good things this week too! We have snow :(

Dee said...

Dear DJan, recently--after a time of malaise, I was deep in meditation and was given an epiphany of understanding the necessity of the five things you explained here. The realizations came from the deep center of myself where Oneness--my connection to all of creation--dwells. That was three weeks ago, and I have since faithfully followed those guidelines, given to me almost fifty years ago by a psychiatrist. She explained them and encouraged me to embrace them as I'd then been in a depression for ten years. When I forget them, as I have done in the past year, some surprisingly awe-full thing happens, like the epiphany, and I wake to being gracious to myself and to renewing my commitment to those five.

Thank you for sharing them with us, DJan,. It has always seemed to me that gratitude is basic to your personality. That is to say, at or in your essence, is a wellspring of gratitude that makes for happiness, both in the short term or span of life and the long. Take care. I'm so glad that you'll going to Florida. How your family must be rejoicing. Peace from Dee.