Management, organizational effectiveness, and organizational change consultant in the academic sector. Experience working with libraries, museums, archives, and other not-for-profits to manage change and enhance organizational effectiveness. Areas of expertise include meeting facilitation, team building, leadership development, volunteer program development, organizational design, performance improvement, change management, systems thinking.
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After being postponed twice due to Covid, the 3rd International Conference on Bowen Systems Theory was held at Sörbyn Lodge in Swedish Lapland, June 13-15, 2022. With a program title, Managing Relations in a Changing World: Bowen Systems Theory in Organizations, Families, and Communities, the conference included sessions on four tracks:
Organizations and leadership
The conference was truly international with local speakers who give their talks in Swedish. There were a number of speakers from the Bowen Center and other network nodes in the United States. Alejandro Astorga from the University of Chile represented a growing interest in Bowen theory in the Spanish speaking world (although he delivered his talk in English). A large contingent from Estonia attended. Nearby Finland was also represented as was much more distant Australia.
One of the highlights of the meeting was a short film by Ann-Christine Haupt entitled Min Mormor och Jag (My Grandmother and I). The film provides a glimpse into the lives of the indigenous Simi people in Sweden. I was astonished at the parallels, in modern times to the plight of the native people in America. The Simi people are being driven from the land as reindeer habitats are being destroyed by logging activity (and climate change).
Sörbyn is quite remote. Getting there involved flying to Luleå, itself a city of under 50,000 and then renting a car or taking a taxi ride that was almost as costly as international airfare from the US! Nonetheless, the resort–primarily a fishing retreat was an idyllic location for the conference, other than the mosquitos. The photo above shows the lake right outside the conference venue which was a building that had once been used for community gatherings including dances. Sörbyn is actually a lively outpost for the study of Bowen theory and many local residents attended the conference. Being in such a location rather than the usual type of conference setting such as a nondescript provided a rich experience of place.
We also learned about the past, present, and future plans for that area of Sweden from the mayor of Boden. In the past, there was a strong military presence in the region due to the proximity to the Soviet Union. Although the need to build back some strength due to current Russian activity may emerge, current plans are to focus on green energy and industry including construction of a green steel plant that would use local ore for production. It is being in contact with this kind of information and the experience of place that makes travel such an unparalleled method for learning about other people and places.
Audiovisual support at the conference was outstanding. All presentations were recorded and posted to YouTube, although you must have the link to view the recording. I have posted my presentation here. After the conference, I completed my plan to publish an article and Two Theorists on Work Systems is now available in the journal, Systems.
A Hiking Adventure
Following the meeting, a group of conference attendees who stayed an extra day to tour the area hiked in the nearby forest. Tatiana Rynbäck of Women Adventure Travel who graciously welcomed a man into our group was our guide. Tatiana is originally from Ecuador adding another international dimension to our experience.
While many local people commuted from home to the daily conference sessions, international travelers stayed at the lodge, either in cabins or a small hotel on the property. A chef from Atlanta with a passion for Scandinavian food prepared world class meals at the restaurant, Kallkällan (the Spring) during our stay. The menu included regional specialties such as reindeer, local fish from the many rivers and lakes in the area, and sauces made from wild berries. It was a little too chilly for a swim in the lake but we all agreed the little beach would be a lovely spot to spend a warm summer afternoon. The locals assured us that there would be some of those in August as well as snowy days for skiing in the winter.
Following the exceptional 50th reunion at Harlaxton, I spent two lovely weeks touring England to visit friends, sightsee, and explore places in Cornwall where the Kitto branch of my family originated.
After a brief visit to Burghley House where I met Paul Wilde and his family for a tour and lunch, I drove to Girton, near Cambridge. Paul had contacted me about my Bowen theory research and we discovered in our correspondence he had grown up in Lincolnshire and lived in Stamford, not far at all from Harlaxton.
For a person from drought-plagued California, the drive from Stamford to Cambridge in a torrential downpour was almost a treat. Ken and Janet Sheard were my gracious Cambridge hosts. Ken had been our Harlaxton Sociology tutor. In addition to our walking tour of Cambridge, we visited their “local” The George in Girton and enjoyed a pub lunch in Grantchester at The Red Lion.
From Cambridge I made a quick trip to Stonehenge before stopping for a visit with my friend and former co-worker Tony Saffer in Castle Cary. Tony is an amazing tour guide. He took me to Glastonbury and to the canal where he volunteers to assist boaters to operate the locks.
Next, it was on to Cornwall where I visited sites associated with the Kitto family. My paternal great, great grandfather, James John Kitto immigrated to New Orleans from Cornwall in the late 19th century. His birth was registered in Launceston in 1848 and he showed up in the census in as a farm servant in Penbro in Breage according to the research Ken Stewart has done on the Kitto family in Louisiana. I visited St. Thomas Church in Launceston where his birth was registered and St. Breaca Church in Breage. While there are many Kittos in the graveyard there, it is unclear whether any of them are our ancestors. The graveyard map shows the location of the graves but there are no markers. These were not people of means. However, perhaps some members of the family did hold land that eventually became a car park!
This map of Cornwall shows Launceston at the eastern edge of the peninsula about halfway between the northern and southern edges. Because there continues to be controversy about what Cornwall is–a county, a country, a duchy, let’s just describe the area I visited geographically. Breage is much farther south and west, near Helston at the top of the Lizard peninsula with gorgeous coastal hiking including Loe Bar, a shingle bank that separates a fresh water lake from the sea.
Although I planned to spend time in Launceston on my way south, I was there on the day of the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee, so many things were closed. Instead of lingering there, I headed south (in another rainstorm) and adjusted my travel plans to spend more time in Launceston on the return trip. The photos of Launceston include both the stop on the way down to see the parish church where James John Kitto’s birth was registered and the other primary sight of interest on the return trip, Launceston Castle.
On the way back to London, Tony hosted me once again. This time, he took me to Wells, known for its cathedral and Bishop’s Palace and as the site where Hot Fuzz was filmed!
Last but not least, I stopped in London. Although I enjoyed seeing some of the sights, it was hot and crowded with families on summer holiday so I appreciated a Sunday outing to visit the Kott family in Sutton. They treated me to a lavender cream tea at a spectacular lavender farm near their home. A lovely day with a lovely family!
Harlaxton College hosted a 50th reunion (one year late due to Covid) for former Harlaxton students from May 28-30, 2022. Over one hundred people traveled to Harlaxton, including students and faculty members from the inaugural year in 1971.
In addition to connecting with our classmates, we were offered guided tours of the house and gardens: an opportunity only recently made available to the general public on a limited basis. It was amazing to see the results of the restoration, conservation, and maintenance that the University of Evansville has invested in the historic property which was constructed in 1831.
Members of the inaugural class, pictured above were given accommodations quite different from those we experienced as students. We stayed in the elegant bedrooms where faculty were housed during our time at Harlaxton. Many of us tried to locate the rooms where we had lived as students and found them quite transformed
On the final evening, we enjoyed a lavish banquet and were treated to the tunes of the Harlaxton piper as we finished our meals.
Following the dinner, there was a spectacular fireworks display on the lawn. Some people attempted to watch from their balconies. One former student realized he was not as svelte as he had been in his student days and had some difficulty getting back inside. Unfortunately, no photos or video of that event are available to share.
On Tuesday morning, we took our leave with renewed gratitude for the experience we had at Harlaxton as students, and appreciation for the efforts of the staff to create a memorable reunion experience for us.
Many thanks to my brother, Bob Kitto who took this photo as well as the others attributed to him in this post.
In her 2019 book, The Age of Surveillance Capitalism, Shoshana Zuboff describes the ways in which Google and Facebook in particular have benefitted enormously by making it easy for us to give up our privacy in exchange for convenience. Their profits are made from selling our data to other capitalist entities that use the data to go beyond predicting our behavior to modifying it. The examples Zuboff provides, of how this is done and the lengths technology companies have gone to, to prevent legislation that would limit their reach are chilling. It’s a book everyone who is concerned about technology and democracy should read.
On the basis of Zuboff’s arguments, I have decided to disengage from big technology platforms, starting with Facebook and Google. Because I have used Google products for years and own an Android phone, realistically, I might not accomplish the goal of disengaging from Google before I die. However, I’m going to try!
Here’s my project plan:
Publish this blog post
Post a link to the blog post on Facebook
Archive and delete my Facebook account and my late husband, Joseph Kott’s account, of which I am the manager
Archive and delete Instagram accounts
Move contacts from Google to my domain and email everyone to notify them of change in email
Change accounts that use gmail for sign-in
Set up auto response on gmail account to notify senders of email address change
Delete or archive old email messages
Archive photos to thumb drive
What to do about maps on phone
LinkedIn? Keep or delete
What’s App? Keep or delete
Knowing that people are not likely to send me individual email messages or texts when they post to Facebook or Instagram, I know I’ll miss keeping up with friends and family on social media. And I know one person’s decision to disengage won’t really change the system. That said, I believe this is one area where I must align my actions with my principles. So, here I go…
I’d appreciate thoughts, comments, free advice 🙂 from friends and former colleagues, particularly folks who have been or still are, deeply engaged with technology.
During the darkest days of Covid times, before vaccines were widely available, I was presented with two identity puzzles. Each of them required creativity and collaboration to resolve. One involved mis-tracked identity documents which caused me to have a complete meltdown before the documents were returned to me. But what else is a retired person going to do during Covid shutdown besides untangle bureaucratic snafus?
The first puzzle emerged as I changed my reservation for the Harlaxton College 50th Reunion which was being postponed from 2021 to 2022. When I received confirmation from the University of Evansville that my reservation had been moved, I noticed that although the confirmation had been sent to my email and included my correct mailing address, my maiden name was listed as Baker. Because my maiden name is Kitto and I didn’t want my initials to be KKK, I kept using the middle name I was given at birth when I married. That name starts with B but is not Baker. And, while I was Kathy in high school, I went by Katherine at Harlaxton.
My librarian friends, especially folks who have been involved in name authority work will be interested in what happened next. In consultation with the alumni database manager, the person handling the Harlaxton registration discovered that I had been conflated with someone named Kathryn Baker Kott who was practicing medicine in Green Bay Wisconsin at the time. OK, you name authority mavens, what are the red flags here? Different spellings of the first name? Living in Oakland, CA and working in Green Bay, WI?
Apparently, the University of Evansville did not track Harlaxton students from other Universities. During the inaugural year, there were quite a few of us, including a cadre from the University of the Pacific. At least two of us were children of University of Evansville faculty. If we were not tracked, how did I get conflated with someone who had actually attended and graduated from the University of Evansville?
When my mother died in 2014, I made a donation to the University of Evansville in her name. She had taught piano and organ there for some time and had stayed in touch with both student and faculty friends from that time so it seemed fitting to recognize her in that way. When the University received the donation, the person doing data entry found Kathryn Kott’s record in their database and assumed we were the same person as they had no record of me as a Harlaxton student.
With the exchange of a mere 17 email messages, the person in charge of Harlaxton registration and the database administrator were able to straighten out the records and give me access to mine. And, I am registered as myself for the Harlaxton reunion next May, “God willing and the creek don’t rise,” as my dear departed mother would say.
Chapter 2: Katherine Zeliff Kott
The second puzzle is still a bit of a mystery. It involved two bureaucracies initially, expanding to five eventually. Although the initial (so to speak) issue is resolved, the matter of a replacement passport is still outstanding. Several of my friends thought I should write it up as a short story. That might have been because they found it boring when I related it as a sequence of baffling events.
The challenge will be to figure out exactly when the denouement occurred and to describe it in a way that makes it stand out. Here goes. It all started when I logged in to my Social Security to verify my benefits for a mortgage refinance application. Huh. My name displayed as Katherine Z Kott. Just a typo, I thought. It’s not possible to change one’s own name through the portal so it’s unlikely someone gained unauthorized access by logging in as me. The change had to have been made on the back end. Name changes are made by requesting a new social security card. Although the card I got in 1973 was still fine, I applied for a new one online.
Imagine my surprise when the card arrived in the mail with the name on the card correct: Katherine B Kott but the name on the stub–bearing no resemblance to any of the information I had submitted–Katherine Zeliff Kott. Well, that’s where the Z came from!
This was pre-vaccine Covid time. No opportunity to drop in to the local Social Security office and wait for hours until desperate to use the toilet but afraid to go in case your number is called while you’re in the restroom. It only took a week of calling before my call was not terminated because there were no lines available to provide a recorded hold message that my call was important. When I did get through, the agent advised me to write a letter explaining the situation, print out another application for a new card, and send the letter and application along with identity documents including a birth certificate and either drivers license or passport to the local Social Security office. She had no idea how the error might have occurred in the first place. She could not tell who had made the change or when it had been made. DBAs, what do you think about that? Perhaps a sysadmin could track down that information. It’s scary to think random changes can be made to Social Security records without a trace. Although it made me quite anxious to think of sending my identity documents, I sent my birth certificate, marriage certificate showing the name change from my birth name, and my passport by priority mail on March 9th, 2021.
About a week later, I tracked the package online through USPS. According to the tracking report, the package had been returned to sender as undeliverable on March 10th. After I recovered from a fifteen minute screaming and crying fit, I consulted my neighbor, a long time Oakland resident for advice. She was certain the package was sitting on someone’s desk at the main post office. All I had to do was go there and inquire. WRONG! What I got from my visit to the main post office was sheet of paper with a customer service number to call that had been photocopied so often, the number was almost impossible to read.
It took about the same number of days to get through to the USPS number as it had taken to reach the SSA. When I reached the recording, I was instructed to leave a call back number. The recording informed me that I would get a call back in “more than an hour.” How much more than an hour, I wondered? Fortunately, I was not left to speculate for much longer than an hour and the customer service agent very helpfully offered to investigate, promising another callback within a few days.
While I waited for the callback, I did a bit of research myself. I returned to the USPS branch I had sent the package from to have them verify the address. The address was correct for the local Social Security office. They also thought it odd that the package had been returned as undeliverable as it is likely USPS delivers similar material to that office regularly.
We were having a regular rotation of substitute carriers in our neighborhood and I had been getting mail for neighbors on the next block, so I thought perhaps my returned mail had been mis-delivered to them. I searched the internet and found the phone number of the person living there. She was sympathetic to my plight as she had also been receiving other people’s mail, but not my returned package. In desperation, I tailed the most regular substitute carrier who claimed she had no time to talk to me and as we delivered the mail, I asked her if she remembered seeing a returned priority mail package in the past week or so. While a yes or no answer might have sufficed given how busy she seemed to be, she elaborated on the reason she couldn’t possibly remember–so much mail to deliver. None of this reassured me about the safety and well-being of my identity documents. I was glad I had held onto my drivers license.
Two days after my initial phone conversation with the USPS customer service agent, I got a call from a person at the main post office where I had launched my inquiry. They had looked high and low for the package. She was sorry, but it was well and truly lost. Learning that all my identity documents except my drivers license were navigating the world on their own made me lose it completely. I went mad.
Once I had scraped myself off the ceiling (alcohol may have been involved) I got to work on replacing the lost documents. Louisiana vital records for the birth certificate, Michigan for the marriage certificate, the State Department to declare the passport lost and start the process to apply for a replacement. I was planning to get a California “real ID” when my drivers license expired in July and would need the birth certificate and my social security card for that. I needed to monitor my credit to make sure who ever had my documents was not using them for nefarious purposes.
Having seen no evidence that there had been attempts to open new accounts, I wondered if it was remotely possible that USPS had mis-scanned the package. Perhaps it really had been delivered to the local Social Security office and the tracking information that showed it had been returned to sender was wrong. To pursue this line of thought, I spent another week calling the local Social Security office. On Friday morning, I reached a person. It took some time for her to understand what I was asking. She kept saying they send documents by certified mail. Finally, she understood that the documents had gone missing before they had received them. Of course, she was working remotely and hardly anyone was going into the office. However, she emailed her supervisor with a request that someone look to see if the documents had been delivered, were in the office, and perhaps were even being processed. No one ever called me back, but about two weeks later I got this–by certified mail–with my documents:
What a relief to have the documents back in my possession and know that they were not out in the world, living it up without me. My request was indeed pending, as the letter states. The replacement Social Security card with the correct middle name on the stub was dated 05/24/2021. There was no correspondence with the card–no explanation about how or why I became Katherine Zeliff Kott. Thank goodness I did not have to wait until May 24th to reclaim my identity.
I would like to be able to say, “All’s well that ends well,” but we are not quite there yet. Because I had declared the passport lost, it was no longer valid and I had to apply for a replacement which has not arrived yet. The application process was a little rough and the State Department lost my lost passport declaration so I had to re-submit that last week. I do hope to get the passport soon and avoid collecting enough material for a second installment of failed bureaucracies.
Katherine and Katrina are back with more camping adventures–this time, a post-Covid, pre-wildfires trip to Lassen National Park’s Butte Lake Campground. We’ll use a similar organizing principle to the one we used for Pinnacles. We are librarians, after all. With a couple of added categories to cover some car trouble and fishing. We may need to deviate from our cute spellings…
KA was the first to arrive, so she did a little exploration and took this shot of Butte Lake. What an amazing setting! KK arrived a bit later. We set up tents, stored food in the bear boxes, etc. B54 is a good site with proximity to the restrooms (no showers) and an open area for great star gazing. We planned our trip to coincide with the Perseid meteor shower and saw several meteors on two nights while we were there.
Hiking and Klimbing
Our original plan included scaling three different types of volcanos. The first to be conquered: Cinder Cone. One reason for selecting the Butte Lake campground, which is off the main park road was that the trailheads for two volcanoes are right there! So, off we went on Day One to Cinder Cone. Who are these masked women?
The trail offers a Sisyphean challenge. The surface is cinders (doh!). With every step, you plant your foot, only to slip back again and again… The trail seems to wind endlessly before you.
The effort is rewarded with spectacular views. But the wind was high that day. We were unable to scale the highest viewpoint. On the positive side, we didn’t need to visit the spa for exfoliation for some time after the hike. The little cinder fragments took care of that! We recommend spats for this hike. We did not have them and had to stop to remove larger cinders from our shoes fairly frequently.
We interrupt our regularly scheduled programming for our feature: Kampground Kooking. As with our Pinnacles trip, we planned our meals and shopped for provisions before arrival at the campground. On the first night, we ran into a little “issue” with wood. Things seemed a little frayed due to the Covid-19 pandemic. There was no camp host and therefore no firewood for purchase. We opted not to do the 6 mile drive back out on the gravel road to get some. Instead, we scoured the campground for abandoned wood from campers who had left.
One of the logs we found was a challenge to chop but we got it done and managed to grill our pork kabobs on the open fire. (Challenge #2–the grill at our campsite was rusted out on the bottom so had to be propped on the side of the fire ring.) Other repasts included chicken with Spanish rice and mango (not pictured), sausage and veggies, KA’s infamous lettuce wedge, pasta and hot squash and carrot slaw, and of course, crab aliens–a dessert treat of chocolate melted on croissants.
Best Laid Plans
Our day two plan was to hike our second volcano: Prospect Peak. However, KK’s car battery went out. We were fortunate that nearby campers had cables and we were able to jump start the car. KK opted to drive to Redding to get a new battery rather than risk not being able to start the car again. (We didn’t get photos of this part.) KA made the best of it by exploring nearby lakes. When KK returned, we tried a swim in Bathtub Lake, reputed to be tepid and good for a swim. It was a complete bust! Full of algae. But we had a good swim in an unnamed lake we christened Naked Man Lake for the man we saw emerge from it in his birthday suit as we walked by on our way to Bathtub Lake–re-christened Bathdud Lake.
More Klimbing and Katching (we hoped)
Hiking Lassen Peak, the third volcano in our master plan would involve driving to the park entrance and then a distance down the park road to reach the trailhead. With KK having spent much of the previous day in her car and with road work on the route to the park entrance, we opted instead to try our luck at fishing in nearby Hat Creek. While we didn’t catch anything, it made for a relaxing morning by a beautiful creek with some good birdwatching.
After lunch, we hiked around Butte Lake with spectacular panoramic views of the Lake and its surroundings. Gooseberries and lizards too!
Our last night at Butte Lake campground was a Friday night. The campground became much more crowded and a large family group occupied the campsite across the stargazing field from us. They had bright lights that interfered with our ability to see the stars. We were ready to break camp and head home the next day. Our timing was good, as it turned out. The night after we got home, dry lightning struck throughout the state of California, igniting many fires. We haven’t stopped burning since.
Once upon a time, there was a small vegetable plot in the garden of a home in Oakland, California. During the winter of 2019, the bathroom of the home attached to the vegetable plot was remodeled and the vegetable plot lay fallow. But it was not too late to plant a late winter crop of fava beans, according to the architect who had designed the bathroom, who was a fava bean enthusiast. Fava beans were miraculous, she said. The leaves could be used to make pesto. The pods could be harvested early and stir-fried without having to husk the beans. Simply growing them in the garden would add nitrogen to the soil.
I was SOLD! In late January, I planted six hills of fava beans. In mid-March, after I had returned from what was possibly my very last trip on a plane and recovered from the flu I had that was probably not Covid, the plants had sprouted and had enough leaves to harvest for pesto.
Blending the leaves with olive oil, garlic, hard cheese, and walnuts in lieu of pine nuts, I made pesto and used it to make a pizza with fresh mozzarella, cherry tomatoes, and kalamata olives. Tasty, but I missed the distinctive, pungent flavor basil brings to traditional pesto. I decided to leave the leaves, and let the bean pods develop. I managed to harvest a few immature pods to cook without husking. However, once the pods started coming in, they matured quite quickly. Perhaps because my crop was so late.
Before harvesting, I read up on how to prepare fava beans. The information was not encouraging. Chefs were enthusiastic about all the tasty dishes that could be made with them but cautioned that kitchen staff hate them because they are so laborious to prepare. But I couldn’t just let them rot on the vine… This is what the six beanstalks yielded.
Fava beans have both an outer pod and an inner membrane that surrounds the beans inside. When the beans are mature, both the outer pod and the inner membrane need to be removed for the beans to be palatable. Removing both is indeed laborious and involves shelling the beans and then blanching or heating in some other way to loosen the membranes. That’s why kitchen staff hate them. One chef suggested grilling the beans. Heat from the grill pops the pods, loosen the membranes and gives the beans a smoky flavor. So, that’s what I did. On the left–fava beans on the grill–on the right, grilled beans before shelling.
Even after grilling, shelling the beans and removing the membranes was a laborious process and yielded a pathetically small pile of cooked beans!
Just enough for a batch of hummus, made in the traditional way, with tahini, garlic, and lemon juice but with grilled fava beans in place of garbanzos. It was truly delicious, especially with the smoky flavor from the grill. But I will never have it again! That’s it for the fava saga!
Because life can be a little monotonous during shelter-in-place, I will try to keep it brief! For a change of pace from neighborhood walks, I took the dogs over to Alameda to walk along Shoreline. It was moderately busy. Most people were wearing masks. One person apparently lost her ice skates en route to the beach!
The Indivisible group I belong to has been raising money to support down-ballot candidates in “flip-able” states. Before the pandemic, we had been quite successful with events such as a “blues bash” and a Portuguese wine tasting. Now that we can’t host gatherings, we’ve switched to making masks. Asking folks to donate $10-15 per mask. A generous supporter donated quilting fabric for us to use–everything from cats to psychedelics. Special orders considered…
On May 9th, Programs in Bowen Theory hosted its first ever online conference. Like so many other organizations, offering online conferences was something we wanted to try eventually. But the pandemic forced a decision–postpone the in-person conference or go ahead and offer it online. Under Laura Havstad’s leadership, we forged ahead to offer the conference via Zoom. Instead of a full day format, we planned a half-day with two speakers on Bridging Cutoff. Attendance was about double what it usually is at an in-person conference and many people joined from other parts of the country and the world! Although in-person meetings may come back at some point, more live online content will almost certainly be offered in the future.
Otherwise, it’s walking the dogs, sorting through stuff in my house and selling things on eBay, participating in Zoom book groups and yoga classes, and hiking weekly with KA. We are now training for our next camping trip which we hope we can do as planned to Lassen in August.
Shopping for food takes more thought and planning than it used to. Is it safe to go to the store? Which store is best? Do you have to wait to get in? For how long? Or is it better to order online? What is the lead time before the groceries will be delivered? Which services tell you what is out of stock and offer substitutions while the shopper is in the store versus letting you know when the items are delivered? I’m still experimenting and have tried different options from week to week. It’s definitely a plus to be a “senior” in this situation with access to early morning shopping hours when the stores are less crowded and better stocked. Reliable access to paper products remains a challenge.
No need to be bored when there is so much content being offered online from the sublime (Lucia di Lammermoor from the Met’s free streaming service) to the ridiculous (Masterminds from the library’s Hoopla service). Masterminds is so dumb/funny I laughed out loud! My sense of humor is so juvenile.
Last but not least, I am eagerly awaiting the arrival of a granddaughter some time in mid-November! It’s a somewhat strange time to be pregnant, but my daughter Amy and her husband Justin are taking things in stride.
Seemed like it was time for another blog post, but what to write about? My obsession with finding out whether or not I really had Covid-19 in early March? Reminiscences about pleasant past experiences like the Pinnacles Retrospective? Boring accounts of my days under shelter-in-place? Complaints about what I’m missing? Plans for the (uncertain) future?
When in a half-waking state, as two furry creatures urged me to start the day, I was reminded that, although I’m not a Buddhist, Buddhist ideas about suffering and the causes of suffering have been helpful to me as I’ve navigated difficulties in the past. Shifting my thinking from what’s missing, what is gone from the past, what I want that is not possible–that privileged low whine–to appreciating what is available in the moment is worth the effort and lifts my mood.
How can you not live in the moment when greeted by this face? I miss hugging my human loved ones, but I’m grateful for cuddles with my furry companions.
And a visit to my garden, with or without wine is a reminder of the beauty that surrounds me. The Buddha on the left actually belongs to my friend KA of Pinnacles camping fame. It has a place of honor near my front door. When KA and I are not co-writing blog posts, we are social distance hiking with the dogs–a great opportunity to be outdoors with human and canine companionship! My daughter and I also social distance dog walk and she and my son both check in with me regularly to see if I need anything and just to talk about life and the universe.
Other connections are through a book group that already used Zoom before the pandemic, my yoga communities and teachers who have transitioned their classes to an online platform, my work with the Bowen theory community which has also always been distributed and technology enabled, and of course social networking on Facebook and Instagram with friends and family. So, I am far from being an isolated senior, despite social distancing and living alone. Just for today, I’m going to stop my whining and enjoy the moment.