I woke up this morning with a hundred days behind me. Some days have been quiet… like the day I ordered a new cookbook online, and other days have been exciting like when I went saw the sun rise from a duck blind or when I went to the Scot’s Festival on the Queen Mary.
Some days have been real challenges to get through like when I froze overnight at the Rose Parade or wrestled with the technical aspects of having a blog, or navigated the tumultuous landscape of social media.
I have been running slightly behind lately… there’s so much on my plate: there’s been some professional feedback about the blog, my husband is home after six months of traveling for work, I’ve been at a conference, my daughter is getting ready for college, my sons are starting new jobs, we have a car in the shop, we bought two new cars, my grandfather is needing more care, we have houseguests coming for a few weeks, and there is no housekeeper but me.
It can be a bit overwhelming, but then I remember why I started this endeavor, yes- to practice my writing, yes to improve my photography, but also to discipline myself into leaving some time for myself. I need to leave time that nourishes me.
Everyone does, but so often we forget. And we don’t realize it until we’re depressed, or sick, or feeling empty.
Moments Big As Years, has been a great deal of work, but it is the kind of good work that gives more than it takes and gives me a purpose that gives structure and color to my life.
So I guess, I’ll keep going.
#365, Do a Weekly Photo Shoot, 15/52
This week was about shooting food. I cooked and ate and experimented with light and shadow. I learned a few things from my conference workshops, but I am mostly learning by doing. I can see improvement in my work, but I have a long way to go. I was happy with this photo of the Moroccan food that I made. However, the single spoon is a mistake, and I should have used wood or something that looked more “Moroccan”, and I might have distributed the herbs better in the couscous, and perhaps balanced the dishes more symmetrically or left more white space, but the fact that I can see these issues means that I’m getting better at composition. This was a rushed iPhone photo. Hungry people were waiting.
#14, Watch one Annenberg Series Lecture each week, 15/52
This week I watched Toni Greaves discuss her long-term project photographing within a community of cloistered nuns, her personal journey along the way, and the soon-to-be-published monograph of her seven-year body of work.
The takeaway here for me is the understanding that sometimes great work takes patience. It can’t be rushed. The relationships that Toni developed with the nuns took time and it was those relationships that informed all her photographs.
#211, Listen to a Weekly Podcast, 15/52
The podcast I listened to this week was The Moth. Featured were stories about: a boy’s Bar Mitzvah which becomes a family battle ground, three literary pilgrims in search for the author Paul Bowles in Morocco, and a novelist who decides that the only way to cure her writer’s block is to block out the world.
#127, Perform a Weekly Random Act of Kindness, 15/52
This week I was returning a rental car. I was waiting in line at the desk. The woman ahead of me in line was frowning and had her body half slumped across the counter. The rental agent, Britney, was trying to be helpful and asked the woman if she was satisfied with the customer service she had received. The woman just stared at her with one eyebrow raised and said, “Hhmpf”. Britney tried again and said, “I sense that maybe there was something lacking in the service you received. Can we do anything to improve our service or make your experience better?” The woman said no and continued staring in a way that was angry and confrontational.
Britney was flustered and started rustling papers. She then realized she had left a phone call on hold for too long and she saw the line was getting longer. I remembered Britney. She had been kind to me earlier in the week when I rented the car.
The grumpy woman grabbed her papers and headed out the door. It was my turn.
Britney looked deflated and nodded quietly at me. She seemed upset and frazzled. I gave her a big smile and said, “Hey Britney! Happy Monday!” I then nodded and said hello to the person standing behind me. I smiled and said hi to a Pakistani family who were seated and trying to figure out international insurance issues. Another agent came up and said, “How are we doing here?” I said, “Oh we’re doing great. Britney’s taking great care of us.”
I’ve watched my friend Bud, a kind and generous soul, do this a million times. He changes the climate of a room with a smile and a little personal attention. He shifts the energy so fast, people wonder how the party started.
I got to do that today. I am grateful Bud has provided me with such a fine example.
It doesn’t take much to bring people up, but it also doesn’t take much to bring them down. What Bud knows is that no matter what is happening in our lives, even if the best we can do is arrive at neutral, we should never poison the well with our own selfishness and petulance.
That’s not what we’re here to do.
#119, Attempt a new recipe each week, 13&14&15/52
This week I made Chicken Tagine with Dried Fruits, Couscous with Saffron and Ginger, Carrot Salad with Harissa, Feta and Mint, and I tried a split pea soup recipe from Ina Garten. Technically that’s four recipes, but let’s just call it three and say I’m all caught up.
#21, Try a new restaurant each week, 15/52
When I’m in the mood for Pho, I usually go to Pho So 1, but this week I wanted to try something new so I went to Pho 999. I do prefer the egg rolls at Pho So #1, but the pho was great. I confess what I liked best of all were the red tables that set a perfect backdrop for my Instagram photo.
That’s it for this week.
263 days to go!