Part of the work of bringing in potted plants for the winter is making sure that I don’t bring unwanted critters in as well.  I especially don’t want spider mites and such in the house.  They’ll find us later in the winter anyway when the dry air in the house and lack of natural predators makes life easy for them.  I have had scales on my Schefflera and on the two jasmine plants, and spider mites love my little palm thingies (I think they are what they call “parlor palms”).

Today when I brought in yet another little palm I noticed the tell-tale fine spider webs around the base of the stems.  As I am out of poison to spray the plants with I put the plant in the kitchen sink and proceeded to use the sprayer to hopefully hose spider web and spider mites off.  Without looking too carefully, I glanced and instead of spider mites I saw a real spider, itty bitty tiny, maybe one millimeter (including legs), and an egg sack, twice or three times as large as the spider, attached to one of the lower leaves.  I sprayed and to my dismay was unable to dislodge the spider.

And then I saw.  The spider frantically moved closer to the egg sack and looked like it was trying to fix it? or protect it? doing it’s itty bitty tiny thing. I watched and for the next couple minutes the spider worked around the egg sack.  It is too tiny for me to see what exactly it was doing – and not knowing anything about spiders I would not have known even if I had been able to see more clearly. But it was obvious that the spider was working frantically on the egg sack.

I can not describe the feeling this caused me.  I felt like crying.

For now, parlor palm with spider and egg sack (dry by now) are sitting with another outside potted plant on part of the kitchen counter we use to store things.


Mama has a scale of which we made use both in January and now in February again when we wanted to see how heavy our luggage was:  each suitcase had to be less than 20 kg.  We also occasionally weighed ourselves, just to see numbers in kg instead of American pounds. 

This morning, I weighed myself on Mark’s scale (which keeps track of one’s weight) and was shocked to see 113.  I have never weighed that little, ever, since I have come to the States, 20 years ago.  Normally, I weigh about 118 lbs, 119 on a good day. 

It is probably telling that the 51 or 52 kg I saw on Mama’s scale didn’t register as “having lost weight”. 

Seeing that 113 scared me.  I immediately sent an email to Mark and asked for his help (without having a clue what that help might be).  Loving and caring saint that he is, he googled “how to gain weight the healthy way” and sent me three links with very good suggestions.  Most of the ideas were not really new to me, but it felt very good to read in all three articles that having trouble to gain weight is as real and as difficult as trying to lose weight even if overweight people usually dismiss one’s problem.

Even before receiving Mark’s answer, I was trying to figure out what to do.  I had plans for today:  change the sheets, unpack all suitcases (our two and then the two we brought from Germany with a very beginning of Mama’s things), do laundry (I love doing laundry), CLEAN THE FLOORS and the pianos and the stove and the kitchen counter (litter, cat hair ALL OVER).  Play the piano, get ready to teach.  Go for a walk.

Instead, I decided to lie on the sofa and eat and not get up until I have gained at least three pounds.

In response to Mark’s email, I sent him a wish list of foods I would like.  Loving and caring saint that he is, he went to the store before coming home for lunch and bought several bags full of good food.

Sitting on the sofa – my coccyx screams.  After lunch I slept for two hours.   I try to vary how I sit – my coccyx sighs.  Looking at backpacks and suitcases and stuff on the floor, I am determined to sit this out.  Three pounds.  At least.

Was it worth it?

Even while we were in Germany, there were times when I questioned whether what we were doing, accomplishing, was making a difference and would make a difference in the long run.  Were we perhaps just rushing in, attempting to do something, to make us feel better?   

Yes, we did accomplish things, some very tangible such as packing her suitcase and getting it and her walker to her in the hospital so she could take it to the rehab clinic, some things more subtle such as my sitting down with her and going through her stack of paper stuff she had accumulated since she left home in November, organizing, keeping, throwing away.  I helped her trim her fingernails because the nurses are not allowed to do that and there was no one else in the hospital to help her with that.  I cleaned between her toes because the nurse who had given her a sponge bath had not done so.  I encouraged her to do gentle exercises to keep her muscles from wasting away.

Mark’s taking roughly 120 pictures of her apartment has already helped her see/remember and then think about what she has and what she would like to take with her to the nursing home, etc. 

My talking with her account manager at her bank was something only I could do (because my mother had asked me to), but most of what Mark and I did could have been accomplished by someone else:  the downstairs neighbors had packed her suitcase before, and now my mother even gave the key to her safe to them so they can start setting things in motion to, for instance, sell her car. 

On occasion, my mother completely misses the point of something.  For instance:  while she was in the hospital, two rooms in her apartment had to be renovated which meant that someone – downstairs neighbors, as usual – had to completely empty the room (or at least move the big furniture into the middle of the room) and then move things back into place.  In the case of one of her bedrooms, this meant that the neighbor emptied the big (six or seven feet long) wardrobe, then after the renovation wiped out every shelf in the wardrobe and put my mother’s clothes and linens back into the wardrobe.  The neighbor is a small woman, 70 since last Nov or Oct, who due to some shoulder issue cannot really raise her right arm above her head.  Moving all those clothes, and my mother has a ton, first out of the wardrobe and then back in, was a hell of a job, and from what I could tell, she did a fantastic job:  it looked clean, and well organized.  However, all my mother could utter when she saw the pictures Mark had taken was, “Oh my God, it’s all in the wrong place!  I can’t find anything!  Nothing is where it’s supposed to be!!” and on and on. 

I hope that someday, I can remember this and chuckle at its outrageousness.

She completely missed the point that her neighbor had spent so much time and effort and energy cleaning out her wardrobe, she completely ignored the hard work her neighbor had put into this, and saw only that things were not where she used to have them.  To me having her things organized differently was no big deal because it was still very clearly organized – pants with pants, shirts with shirts – but my mother explained that she was used to being able to opening the wardrobe in the dark and finding stuff in the dark.  The fact that she will most likely never return to her apartment and even have a chance to “find my stuff in the dark” escaped her as well.

This is nothing new.  She has expressed such Undankbarkeit before.  Often.  Mark and I had talked, before we left for Germany, and during the trip, about the fact that we better not expect any reward, eternal gratitude, or such.  We decided to do what we could, because it was the right thing to do and because we hoped to be able to make a difference.

She did express gratitude while we were there, and her smiles and interactions were reward enough.

Now, back home, again separated by so much physical distance, communicating perhaps once a day, through the phone, or email with the nurse, we have again little contact and therefore chance to talk about things.  There is so much room for misunderstanding, miscommunication, missing the point without realizing that one of us missed the point.

Taking care

One of the things Mark and I have always been aware of, in general and then specifically regarding this trip, concerns the need to make sure we take care of ourselves. 

Staying in the hospital guesthouse is one way we are taking care of ourselves:  at 95 Euros a night it is almost twice as expensive as the youth hostel would have been, but being only a 5 min walk (all indoors) away from my mother’s room makes it worth every penny.  Priceless as they say.  Not that she needs us at a moment’s notice, but being able to see her for a bit at a time, and late at night, instead of in big chunks of time during the day (to make it worth the trip from downtown Stuttgart) has taken a lot of pressure off the scheduling. 

The room, mini-suite, itself is very nice.  Spacious enough to feel generous, immaculately clean – like a hotel room, they clean it every morning.  The bathroom in particular is spotless.  There was a bottle of mineral water on the table, two glasses, and with the mini fridge in the small sink-with-countertop we can store left-overs and bottles of juice or soda. 

The person in charge of the guesthouse has been wonderfully understanding and flexible and entgegenkommend.  We were able to extend our stay by one night at a time without a problem.  We felt welcome. 

Another way we take care of ourselves is the way, the time, and what we eat.  This part of Germany (or perhaps all of Germany?  I don’t know) is famous for its bakeries:  there are delicious cakes, Torten, Brezeln, Broetchen in all kinds of variations.  So, for dinner tonight, at the cafeteria (because we didn’t feel like going out), I had warmen Apfelstrudel mit Vanillesauce, and a slice of some kind of Sahnetorte.  And a cup of Milchkaffee.  Not a traditional dinner, but it took care of me.

Not worrying about money.  This is an expensive trip.  We keep track of what we spend, we save receipts, and once we’re back home we’ll total it up, but right now we don’t care what that total will be.  Because my purpose here is so practical – helping my mother with legal and financial things, talking with the bank, looking at nursing homes – I hadn’t taken the time to get her some flowers.  The cafeteria here sells bouquets, and when my mother mourned that the bouquet a friend had brought her was spent, I bought her a new one.  The flowers, like probably in every hospital flower shop, are short-lived, and over-priced, but for now she has a fresh and beautiful bouquet in her room.

Mark is patient with me.  I take him up on his offer to say ” not now please” when he wants to tell me something I don’t have the patience to listen to.  He holds me when I cry, sometimes he cries with me. 

We knew it would be heavy to take electronics but we knew it would take care of us to take two laptops, his iPod, my iPod Touch, two cell phones, cables, cords and connectors and chargers for everything, and we have made extensive use of all of that.  The only thing we haven’t used yet is the Eddie (Edirol) – an mp3/wav recording device I thought I might use to record conversations with my mother, or the doctor.

“Don’t look!” at the homeless, the disabled

If “look” means “stare” then yes, don’t.  But why not look?  Why look away?  Pretend they don’t exist?  Kind of make them go away by pretending they don’t exist?  Assume it embarrasses them when you look?  (Perhaps it does, I don’t know.)

January 19, 2010
Helping the Homeless
Choosing Not To Look Away
 Homeless people in our communities are a fact of life, especially in big cities. Many of us don’t know how to interpret this situation or what we can do to help. We may vacillate between feeling guilty, as if we are personally responsible, and feeling angry, as if it is entirely on their own shoulders. The situation is, of course, far more complex than either scenario. Still, not knowing how to respond, we may fall into the habit of not responding at all. We may look over their heads not making eye contact, or down at the ground as we pass, falling into a habit of ignoring them. Each time we do this, we disconnect ourselves from a large portion of the human family, and it doesn’t feel right.
Most of us know in our hearts that the homeless and the poor are not so very different from us. They may be the victims of poor planning or an unavoidable crisis. Some of them are mentally ill, some are addicted to drugs or alcohol, and some are choosing to be homeless for reasons we may never understand. We can imagine that, given their lives, we would likely have ended up in the same place. This does not mean that we are meant to rescue them, as they are on their own learning path, but it does remind us that we can treat them as equals, because that is what they are. Even if we aren’t able to offer food, shelter, or money, we can offer a blessing as we pass. We can look them in the eye and acknowledge our shared humanness, even if we don’t know just how to help them. This simple act of kindness and silent or spoken blessings can be so helpful to those living on the street.

If you want to help with information, you can learn about the services in your area and share the locations of food banks, shelters, and other resources. Perhaps your family would like to have a plan ahead of time, talking with your children about how as a family you would like to handle these situations. Whatever you decide to do, you will feel much better when you make a conscious choice not to simply look away.

Source:  DailyOM


Housing Therapy

As soon as Mark’s appointment at K-State was confirmed, a little over a year ago, we started looking for a house (for rent) here in Manhattan.  We had discussed, many times before, what our ideal house would look like.  Fortunately, like with so many other things in our life, Mark and I have very similar ideas and preferences when it comes to our house:  hardwood floors and/or little if any carpet, generous floor plan, lots of natural light, preferably in an older neighborhood, must accept cats, etc.

Using the Classifieds in The Mercury, we made many phone calls, checked google maps (and street views), drove through different neighborhoods, to get a feeling for what was out there, and at what price. 

We looked at a few places, only one of which got us excited but the owner was hesitant to rent the house – he wanted to sell, but we didn’t want to buy (just yet).  We were disappointed and disillusioned.

Then one late Saturday afternoon – it was almost 4 o’ clock I think, and cold, and getting dark, there was snow on the ground -, we decided to look at one more house. 

We walked in and knew that this was our place.   Hardwood floors – check.  Older neighborhood with lots of mature trees – check.  Generous floor plan – oh, yes!  The original house had burned and the new owner decided to move a few walls and add a couple square feet which resulted in an attached garage, a very generously sized living room, and a master bedroom suite with bath and walk-in closet – completely unheard of in this kind of house in this neighborhood of mostly ranch house style homes from the 60’s (think orange shag carpet…). 

He (re)used most of the original hardwood floor, but built thicker walls with better insulation, installed insulated windows, brand-new appliances – basically a whole brand-new, never-lived-in house.

He had no problem with our two cats, nor with the fact that I was going to be teaching piano here.  He seemed very laid-back and easy-going.  The rent was at the upper limit of what we had planned but we felt it was worth it.  

When we moved in, there were still a few things that were unfinished – some of the wood trim outside wasn’t painted yet, etc.  

Making this long story short:  it has been mildly torturous to deal with our landlord.  While he’s here in a matter of 30 minutes when something goes really wrong (backed-up sewer for instance – backed-up because too much building material such as soaked plaster had over the course of many months accumulated in the sewer), he has taken his time with other things, such as installing the remainder of the fence, and a gate, putting down grass seeds (everything was brown and dirt with construction debris), etc. 

Mark and I loathe having to call him – strangely not despite the fact that he’s actually very nice, but perhaps because he’s so nice, and also because at least I and he don’t seem to speak the same language:  today I pointed out to him that there’s a lot of condensation on the windows (it has been unusually cold for unusually long this winter), there has been mold because of this, and some of the windows are frozen shut.  His answer?  While there are many things he knows how to do, there’s nothing he can do about the weather.  ~  I wasn’t complaining about the weather, I was complaining that the house is not adequately protected against weather. 

More stuff like that.  Mark and I often say that we would like to buy this house, because we like it and can see ourselves live here for a long time but also because we could then take care of things ourselves instead of having to call a landlord.

In our frustration, we decided to drive around town after having taken care of some errands, to look at houses.  For ideas, to dream. 

There’s a really fancy new neighborhood on the Westside, one of many actually, and as we were driving through we spotted an unusual house.  It didn’t look as bombastic as the others, it actually looked kinda cute.  As we were getting closer, we saw that it was for sale.  Turns out the developer actually lives in the house, was home, and willing to give us a tour.   Many nice features – gorgeous wide-plank hardwood floors!, an office with glass walls on two sides, and the floor plan wasn’t too bad.  While the house looked cute and non-bombastic from the street, it is actually quite large, built into a hill, with walk-out basement.

Surprisingly, or perhaps not because we have seen it too many times now, despite the enormity of the house (I’d estimate about 4000 sq ft but could be way off), it didn’t feel as generous.  The living room wasn’t much bigger than ours – and our house is 1500 sq ft. 

Mostly, for me, it felt cold.  Which it probably was because it is nearly impossible to keep a house with high ceilings comfortably warm (it was around 10 degrees today, and cloudy).  But it was more than that.  Perhaps in an effort to keep with the style of the house, there were no curtains on the windows, no “window treatment” at all.  The dining room which had plenty of windows on three sides which – as Mark later noted – would invite tons of shelves under the windows for lots of plants which would just soak up the sun all day long, looked sparse and sterile. 

Some of the inside walls were rough stone which looks nicely rustic but also cold.  Hardly any books in the many built-in book cases.  The gas-powered flames in the fireplace looked tiny, radiating no warmth, in relation to the huge mantel.  Lots of stainless steel in the kitchen, and dark marble counters.  Somehow, and Mark felt it too, the house felt like the family was just staying there, camping out for a while.  Not really a home.  Mark says he wants a cozy house that feels inviting to people, to come in for a cup of coffee and stay a while.  That house wasn’t.

$783,000.  That’s more than three-quarters of a million Dollars. 

And then of course the homeowners association which tells you (in that neighborhood at least) exactly what kind of grass you have in your lawn, what kind of shingles on the roof, how many cars in the driveway (I am making that one up).  The house, like all others in that neighborhood – because it’s brand new -, has no trees whatsoever.  Perfect for solar panels.  Not a single house has them.  They heat electrically.  $400 a month in the winter. 

It was good to come home.

Oh, I forgot to mention:  they have a baby grand (one of those stumpy ones) tucked into a corner of the family room downstairs.  Lid closed, fallboard closed.  Looks unused.  Mark thinks it came with the McMansion kit.

I have a hobby


I have started knitting again.  First because I wanted to knit a scarf for Mark after shrink-washing the beautiful one he had.   We went to THE fancy knitting and yarn store in town and picked a beautiful (and expensive) yarn which turned out to be a real Griff ins Klo.  The quality of the yarn was NOT what I would have expected from such an expensive one:  there were knots where apparently the yarn had broken and someone had just knotted it back together, etc.  The finished product looked nice but didn’t wear well at all:  after only a few days, the whole thing looked flat and matted, cheap actually.

So we went to JoAnn’s and picked a 20% wool / 80% acrylic, machine washable and dryable, nice-looking and warm and soft yarn which cost $2.99 a ball or so.  I chose a different pattern for the scarf, and when we saw that the one for Mark (in dark grey, to go with his coat) turned out quite nice, I made one for myself too, in off-white.

Next:  recently, I had bought a sweater/cardigan-type thing which had a very different cut from my other sweater/cardigan.  The new one is boxy, knitted with relatively thick yarn, and quite short.  To my surprise it looks pretty good on me, so I have decided to knit one for myself.  We went back to JoAnn’s and purchased the same 20/80 wool/acrylic yarn, except in a very thick variant (12 stitches make 10 cm).  The last couple of days, I’ve been knitting a sampler:  looks like a scarf, with different patterns – braids among them -, to see how they look, and to be able to measure how many stitches per 10 cm.   Last night, while Mark was watching The Lord of the Rings, I tentatively settled on a pattern and have started knitting the real thing now. 

The nice thing is that I feel that while I enjoy the knitting process, I am not overly attached to the things I make, so if it turns out not to my (or Mark’s) liking, we can give it away.  Someone else might then enjoy a hand-made goodie. 

As we were leaving JoAnn’s, a couple of days ago, it suddenly and spontaneously occurred to me that this was a new hobby (I haven’t had any hobbies for a long time, I think).   And that a hobby is something you do that you don’t have to do, something you spend money on but don’t expect any money back from.  

I’ve always liked gardening, but I never considered it a hobby.  It is just something I like to do. 

A hobby.  🙂 

A hobby for the stay-at-home wife.  Feels privileged.


Spreading Your Light
How You Affect Others Daily
As the pace and fullness of modern life serve to isolate us from one another, the contact we do share becomes vastly more significant. We unconsciously absorb each other’s energy, adopting the temperament of those with whom we share close quarters, and find ourselves changed after the briefest encounters. Everything we do or say has the potential to affect not only the individuals we live, work, and play with but also those we’ve just met. Though we may never know the impact we have had or the scope of our influence, accepting and understanding that our attitudes and choices will affect others can help us remember to conduct ourselves with grace at all times. When we seek always to be friendly, helpful, and responsive, we effortlessly create an atmosphere around ourselves that is both uplifting and inspiring.

Most people rarely give thought to the effect they have had or will have on others. When we take a few moments to contemplate how our individual modes of being affect the people we spend time with each day, we come one step closer to seeing ourselves through the eyes of others. By asking ourselves whether those we encounter walk away feeling appreciated, respected, and liked, we can heighten our awareness of the effect we ultimately have. Something as simple as a smile given freely can temporarily brighten a person’s entire world. Our value-driven conduct may inspire others to consider whether their own lives are reflective of their values. A word of advice can help others see life in an entirely new fashion. And small gestures of kindness can even prove to those embittered by the world that goodness still exists. By simply being ourselves, we influence other’s lives in both subtle and life-altering ways.

To ensure that the effect we have is positive, we must strive to stay true to ourselves while realizing that it is the demeanor we project and not the quality of our wondrous inner landscapes that people see. Thus, as we interact with others, how we behave can be as important as who we are. If we project our passion for life, our warmth, and our tolerance in our facial features, voice, and choice of words, every person who enters our circle of influence will leave our presence feeling at peace with themselves and with us. You never know whose life you are affecting, big or small. Try to remember this as you go out into the world each day.

(Source:  DailyOM)

My response exactly

(Background:  “Facing questions about her gender, South African teenager Caster Semenya easily won the 800-meter gold medal Wednesday at the world championships. “)

“It’s something that’s gone on in track and field before, and it’s difficult because, in track and field, you want to be able to categorize competitors as male or female, but biologically, it’s not as black and white as you might want it to be for competition,” Epstein told co-anchor Chris Wragge.

“(The IAAF) used to do this regularly,” Epstein continued, “and they gave it up in 1991 because it’s not very clear-cut. They will do it when, you know, some of her rivals said rude things, you know, ‘Just take a look at her.’ She came out of nowhere, she blew everybody away, and everybody doesn’t like being blown away, so the IAAF had to respond some way, basically, so this is their response.”

Epstein added, “The reason IAAF got rid of (gender testing) and the International Olympic Committee … got rid it is because, in some ways, it’s kind of impossible. Genetically, you can’t even look at someone’s chromosomes. There are women who have XY chromosomes, which would normally be for a male; there are testosterone levels that are all over the place. Genitalia can be ambiguous or doesn’t determine sex necessarily. So, there really is no clear-cut way to tell.

“The medical community has said you can’t always tell the difference between a male and a female, so I don’t know how IAAF, unless they come up with an arbitrary standard, is going to tell.”


found in the Kondolenzbuch of the Winnender Zeitung:

Nicht alle Schmerzen sind heilbar,
denn manche schleichen sich tiefer ins Herz hinein,
und während die Tage verstreichen, werden sie Stein.
Du lachst und sprichst, als wenn nichts wäre,
sie scheinen geronnen zu Schaum,
doch Du spürst ihre lastende Schwere bis in den Traum.
Der Frühling kommt wieder mit Wärme und Helle,
die Welt wird ein Blumenmeer,
aber in Deinem Herzen ist eine Stelle, die blüht nicht mehr.

Ricarda Huch


Wenn uns ein Gegenstand der Liebe
aus diesem Leben entrückt ist, so empfindet
das Herz oft eine unermessliche Vereinsamung.
Trostgründe sind da unrecht angebracht,
sie füllen die Leere nicht aus ; aber LIEBE, die uns entgegekommt, verhüllt doch wenigsten den Abgrund.

Adalbert Stifter


from an interview.  Spiegel Online and Sarah Kuttner.

SPIEGEL ONLINE: Wollen Sie mit “Mängelexemplar” kritisieren, dass alles und jeder perfekt zu funktionieren hat?

Kuttner: Nein, diesen Druck macht man sich ja selbst, selten das Umfeld. Ich bin mir auch sicher, dass es Depressionen schon immer gab. Früher hat man halt einfach gesoffen oder sich umgebracht, wenn es psychische Probleme gab. Ich glaube aber, dass die Akzeptanz einer Kopfkrankheit gestiegen ist, seitdem zum Beispiel im Fernsehen dauernd jemand zum Therapeuten rennt. Jede Zeit hat ihre Probleme. Heute haben wir enorm viele Möglichkeiten zur Selbstverwirklichung und sehr wenig Sicherheiten, früher war es genau anders herum. Irgendetwas Existentielles fehlt also immer. Und das fördert ein Ungleichgewicht im Kopf recht schnell.

SPIEGEL ONLINE: Depression ist eine Volkskrankheit, trotzdem ist sie mit einem Tabu belegt. Fiel es Ihnen schwer, offen damit umzugehen?

Kuttner: Eigentlich nicht. Aber als ich für ein wenig Recherche beim Psychiater im Wartezimmer saß, schämte ich mich irrsinnig. Natürlich war das total unsinnig, da ich ja nur von Leuten umgeben war, die selbst einen Termin beim Psychiater haben. Und da dachte ich: Siehste, du denkst immer, du bist der modernste, aufgeklärteste Mensch der Welt, dir kann keiner was und dann schämst du dich beim Psychiater.

SPIEGEL ONLINE: Ein Psychiater ist also kein Arzt wie jeder andere?

Kuttner: Doch, genau das! Das muss man nur mal lernen. Einer für den Kopf. Fühlt man sich seelisch im Ungleichgewicht, denkt man nur schnell: Hab’ dich mal nicht so, du bist doch nur traurig. Dabei kann so eine Traurigkeit tatsächlich sehr ungesund und behandlungsbedürftig werden. Eine Angstattacke ist das ultimative Zeichen, dass die Seele mit Hilfe des Körpers aussendet: Jetzt geht’s nicht mehr. Ich habe viele verzweifelte Psychiater erlebt, die meinten, die Leute kommen immer erst, wenn’s zu spät ist.


by Max Ehrmann, 1927

Go placidly amid the noise and the haste,
and remember what peace there may be in silence.

As far as possible, without surrender,
be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly;
and listen to others,
even to the dull and the ignorant;
they too have their story.
Avoid loud and aggressive persons;
they are vexatious to the spirit.

If you compare yourself with others,
you may become vain or bitter,
for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.
Keep interested in your own career, however humble;
it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.

Exercise caution in your business affairs,
for the world is full of trickery.
But let this not blind you to what virtue there is;
many persons strive for high ideals,
and everywhere life is full of heroism.
Be yourself. Especially do not feign affection.
Neither be cynical about love,
for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment,
it is as perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years,
gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.
But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings.
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.

Beyond a wholesome discipline,
be gentle with yourself.
You are a child of the universe
no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you,
no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with God,
whatever you conceive Him to be.
And whatever your labors and aspirations,
in the noisy confusion of life,
keep peace in your soul.

With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams,
it is still a beautiful world.
Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.

Staying conscious

from DailyOM

Staying Conscious
Staying Grounded in a Big City or Busy World

1. Live simply and live deliberately. By choosing not to get caught up in the details of this fast-paced world, you are doing your part to slow down the . You will also discover that you have more time to enjoy being alive.

2. Stay in touch with yourself. Soul searching, meditation, and journaling are just a few of the many activities you can take part in to stay aware and learn as much as you can about your emotions, reactions, likes, dislikes, dreams, and fears. Having a solid sense of self gives you a firm foundation for living in this world.

3. Support or teach others as often as you can. This can help you form connections with people while also giving you an opportunity to make the world a better place.

4. Consciously choose what you will allow into your being. The media bombards us with visions of hate, war, and pain. Be judicious about what you read, watch, and listen to.

5. Acknowledge the beauty that resides around you. Whether you live in a sprawling metropolis or a stereotypical suburb, there are natural and man-made wonders just waiting to be discovered by you.

6. Nurture your ties to your tribe. If you don’t have one, create a community that you can belong to. Modern life can be isolating. When you have a tribe, you have a circle that you are a part of. Its members – loved ones, friends, or neighbors – can be a source of support, caring, guidance, and companionship.

7. See the larger picture. Remember that the way that you choose to live is not the only way to live. Widen your perspective by exploring other modes of being through research, travel, and discussion.

8. Embrace the challenges that life presents to you, and challenge yourself often. After a time, even the most exciting jobs or lifestyles can seem routine. Never stop assimilating new knowledge about whatever you are doing, and your life will never seem dull.

9. Move your body. In this busy world, it can be easy to live a sedentary life. Movement reacquaints us with our bodies and connects us to the earth in a visceral way. It also restores our vitality.

10. Make time for stillness, silence, and solitude. The world can be noisy, and we are subject to all kinds of noises nearly every waking hour. We are also often “on the go” and unable to relax. Being alone in a peaceful place and making time for quiet can help you stay in touch with yourself.