Monday, April 20, 2009

Whose dumb idea was this? Oh yeah, mine…

News coverage at my paper lately has been far from comprehensive. Reduced staff, reduced hours and reduced morale are at least in part to blame – but was this publication ever able to provide the complete countywide coverage it so loudly proclaimed?

I don’t know.

I’ve been here less than a year. During that time, I saw my fearless leader and a seasoned news editor sent packing – two casualties of the “economic situation” and what may be the slow and agonizing death of the community newspaper.

Since then it has been a struggle to find the happy medium between the bad days and the good.

On bad days, I send my resume anywhere and everywhere – it’s like a message in a bottle out on the open ocean and I am like an island castaway: I don’t know who will get my message and I really don’t care, I just hope that soon I will be rescued.

On good days, I want to make my paper the best it can be and in so doing create more work for myself. More stress inevitably follows.

I am not the editor. Certain responsibilities are not within my realm of authority. But in this brave new world of part-time and virtual editors, it is unlikely (if not impossible) for those who are in command to have any idea what is really happening on the ground. An intercessor is born.

I quietly made a list of our “perceived” coverage goals (those concocted with a larger staff) and compared it with a list of our “actual” coverage. I wasn’t surprised to find a gaping discrepancy.

Actual coverage and perceived coverage were two entirely different creatures.

I presented my findings to the part-time/virtual editor, along with a proposed plan of action. The plan of action will require me to pick up a lot of the slack and reprioritize my workload; meaning some things will still fall by the wayside. However, I believe the truly important areas will receive the attention they require and future disasters will be averted.

If only there was a way to translate this brilliance into something resume-worthy instead of just added work for the time being.

Lucky for me, today is a “good” day and on good days I believe that making the best of the bumpy road I am on will lead to something profoundly better, albeit with its own challenges, in the NEAR future.

Yoga de-mystified

Today I am celebrating my one-week anniversary with yoga.

Only seven short days ago, I wandered into an upper level studio in Sturgeon Bay for a beginner’s class, stripped out of my socks, and got centered. I haven’t been the same since.

OK, that might be a slight exaggeration, but it was an eye-opening experience.

Yoga is actually kind of difficult to explain. Perhaps that is why it rarely receives an adequate explanation in pop-culture and is instead reduced to celebrity get-fit-quick sound bytes.

Participating in one Beginner’s Yoga class hardly makes me an expert – but I would still like to take a stab at deciphering this pastime to my beloved readers. (“Hi” grandma and grandpa; thanks for reading.)

So first, here is what the dictionary says:

“Yoga: A Hindu discipline aimed at training the consciousness for a state of perfect spiritual insight and tranquility; a system of exercises practiced as part of this discipline to promote control of the body and mind.”

This definition is probably the best I could find that avoids getting to caught up in the theological and cultural intricacies of the practice, which has its roots in India and specifically, the Hindu and Buddhist religions.

What surprised me after attending my first yoga class, was how a lot of the “poses” I learned were not unfamiliar. Many of them I had already done at one time or another, but they were called “stretches,” and were given far less mystical-sounding names.

The take-away message is that yoga can be whatever you make it – just another type of exercise or something more.

The difference between yoga and other physical activities is that you have to be “present” – focused on the here and now – because you will probably fall over if you aren’t. In other physical activities, it is a lot easier to mindlessly go through the motions.

Even if you are skeptical of the other benefits yoga promises to offer, I think most of us could use the reminder to focus on the here and now and be “present” in each moment of our lives.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Butter dish

My parents are coming to visit me this weekend and my mom is bringing me a butter dish. I am very excited about this because for some reason whenever I am shopping in places that actually sell butter dishes, I forget that I need one. As a result, my butter usually hangs out atop a teacup saucer or in an overly accommodating piece of tupperware in my 'frige.

At one time, the butter didn't have a home at all, and was left to shiver inside of its wax-paper packaging on a low refrigerator shelf. I quickly discovered that was a dangerous place for butter: any time the refrigerator door opened Ella (part pig/part dog) would take a swipe at it with her tongue.

Little things like butter dishes don't make a huge difference in life - but they are still nice to have. Just like a paper towel dispenser... but that is a story for another day...

Monday, April 6, 2009

Canon in D, anyone?

Several women I know are being made "honest" next month.

My Mom's best friend, Sue, will be the first to walk down the proverbial aisle, followed by my aunt, and then Little Sister.

Little Sister is getting married.


I still can't believe it, but I have come a long way since I first learned of her engagement last November.

Being the older sibling, it was hard for me to let go of the (admittedly irrational) belief that it is my duty - my birthright even - to complete all of life's major firsts, FIRST. My "failure" to comply with (real or perceived) societal norms resulted in a blighting sense of inadequacy.

Once upon a time, I had been engaged; once upon a time, there had been a chance for me. Now I had to face the harsh reality that my transition from bright-eyed young woman into cynical, spinsterly aunt was imminent - and I was helpless to stop it.

But since then I have done a lot of thinking. I reflected on marriage and divorce and relationships – in general. For much of my adult life, I wasn't sure if I wanted to get married; what I did know was that I didn't want to get divorced. I pondered what the secret was - what makes some marriages happy and lasting and successful (generally speaking) while others end in divorce. I wanted a rhyme to the reason; I wanted to believe that there are "tell-tale signs" or similarities between failed relationships - symptoms that could be identified as treatable or untreatable. I wanted to believe that there are instances of foreshadowing in life that - if one is paying attention - one can heed to avoid an unhappy ending. While this may be true to some degree, there are never any guarantees.

On the plus side, I think I know under what circumstances I would like to marry.

Marriage, to me, is about finding a best friend, a lover and soul mate and pledging to them that no matter what happens, you want to solve your problems, and work together, and experience life's journey together - even when it is not easy. You want to share joy and love, and be there for each other when times are hard. You challenge each other to be better people, while being supportive. You are teammates with shared goals, but you also support each other in your individual goals.

This is what I want in a relationship and in a marriage. If I can't have it, I might be better off as a spinsterly aunt.