Saturday, January 28, 2012

thankful for a penny!

Sunset on the Galapagos... Copyright (c) 2007 Wendee Holtcamp

"If you cultivate a healthy poverty and simplicity, so that finding a penny will literally make your day, then, since the world is in fact planted in pennies, you have with your poverty bought a lifetime of days." -Annie Dillard

I am feeling so incredibly much better than I was just a couple weeks ago, like night and day, which is surprising given some happenings in my life, but you just gotta roll with the punches sometimes (and, as the amazing quote says above... when you do not have much in the way of expectations, you are grateful for even the small, tiny , well, 'pennies').

Two weeks ago, I was very much in a pit, which was scaring me... so being the take-charge kind of person I am, I took some steps to turn it around. And thank God, it worked. Primarily I credit the 5-HTP I have been taking (5-hydroxytryptophan) -- an over-the-counter natural herbal remedy that is basically a metabolic precursor to tryptophan (you know, the stuff in turkey) which is then a precursor to serotonin. Many pharmaceutical antidepressants are SSRIs or selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, which prevents the serotonin you have from being recycled into something else, but 5-HTP actually creates more. It has been used in Europe for a lot longer than here in the US and there are scientific studies showing it's both safe and effective. I read about it in two books which I checked out from the library (part of my quest to wellness): The Mood Cure and Change Your Brain, Change Your Life, which I mentioned a couple weeks ago. Anyway I have had some sadness now and then, but of a totally and completely different nature than "the pit" I was in.

Today, I actually felt one of those little jolts of happy energy and hope you feel sometimes, kind of randomly, and it hasn't gone away since it happened earlier. Praise God! I am hoping that it will stay with me for a while. Other than lifting my sorry a$$ out of my pit through spending time with friends, getting my butt back in church not to mention back in the gym, and doing a few theophostic prayer sessions (kind of like therapy, but with prayer), I've also been up to ...

I started attending a study group at my church for The Good Listener, a book on, well, listening. I want to be a better listener, particularly for my kids. There are about 8 women, all married for a long time and I'm the youngest and the only divorced woman and I thought it might be a little awkward but the discussion seemed good and the book is awesome so far. The first chapter made me cry! It told a story about Helen Keller when she came into a room, holding her rag doll and started wildly pulling the buttons from her grandmother's dress. Her grandmother screamed for help because Helen could be really wild and she was holding Helen's baby sister at the time. The father came in, frustrated, and her brother meanly said she should be locked up like the animals. Only her mother kept saying, "No, Wait! Wait! Helen is trying to tell us something. That's it! That's it! She wants her rag doll to have eyes." The mom sewed button eyes on the rag doll and Helen held the doll close and rocked it in her arms, calm and peaceful. The way it's written and the scene is so moving. The power of listening -- not just to the words but to the whole, big picture... to really see a person, as they are trying with their limited vocabulary and communication toolset to be heard and understood, and to have someone take the time to truly understand - to "see" what others may miss for lack of concern, busyness or impatience -- this is a beautiful gift we can offer to people. And I want to be a better listener. There are certainly times when I am a good listener, to friends in particular. But when the situation is challenging - usually family (as they say families put Miracle-Gro on our character defects!), then it can be another story.

I also applied to attend the Knight Science Journalism Food Boot Camp fellowship at MIT (never been to Massachusetts!) - wish me luck! With my obvious passion for food, it should be just a perfect opportunity to dig in and learn more and get some great story ideas, too. I really hope I get in! I may apply for the Vermont Law School Summer Media Fellowship also, and maybe the Metcalf Institute for Marine and Environmental Reporting fellowship in Rhode Island. All three sound super fantastic and I'd be thrilled to get into any of them. I love marine science and ecology, naturally, given my educational background and writing history for the past 17 years, but that's also the area I probably least need to "learn" from others in. On the other hand, there are always good story ideas to be had, and networking, and they are a lot of fun. I was accepted for the Scripps Howard Institute on the Environment in Jupiter, Florida in 2006, which was fantastic! In fact, several of us were reunited at the recent SEJ conference in Miami.

And I've been continuing on the (mostly) vegan, low sugar, healthy eating kick and have lost five pounds without even trying - yay! I'll give some more updates and recipes soon. It's time for bed - peace out!

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