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Borderline Blonde

Assorted Observations on Politics, Philosophy,
the Nature of Reality and My Life in General

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Nuts About Knitting

What does a good addict do when she gives up an addiction? Become addicted to another habit without delay, of course! The fact that I've been able to exchange smoking cigarettes for a healthy and productive activity never ceases to amaze me. You see, I've become one of the "nouvelle knitters," those of us just discovering this rewarding hobby previously the bailiwick of our grandmothers, great-grandmothers, and other doddering old ladies.

Knitting has all of a sudden become quite the trend. "Stitch and Bitch" groups have sprung up all over North America and Europe as a result. Celebrities including Julia Roberts, Cameron Diaz, and Sarah Jessica Parker have taken up knitting. Soccer moms, socialites, college girls, football players, and even kids have begun to knit, quickly making it the second most popular hobby in the country (in case you're curious, gardening is number one). People knit for themselves, for charity, to make gifts for others, or even to make items to sell.

The updating of available fibers and textures beyond the usual wool and cheap acrylic, along with the creation of fashionable designer patterns, are only a couple of reasons for knitting's surge in popularity. Emphasis on the home and on handcrafted items with their flawed beauty is often seen as superior to a fast lifestyle along with its rubber-stamp of commercialism. Knitting now provides more of a creative outlet for "fiber artists," who have at their disposal a range of textures and colors never before available.

Traditional yarn outlets have been replaced by stylish boutiques offering gorgeous, imported threads in every color and combination of fibers imaginable, such as mohair, silk, cashmere, and angora. Knitting "paraphernalia" can be expensive and cool, consisting of "Turbo" circular needles (all the rage), silk knitting bags, knitting needle covers, row counters, etc. Unfortunately, the compulsive shopper in me just loves buying accessories, so I have to be careful not to over-indulge my fiber fantasies. High-quality, designer yarns don't come cheap, and neither do tempting, turbo-charged knitting needles.

Another interesting feature of knitting's popularity are the thousands of knitting blogs on the World Wide Web, with clever names like Yarn Harlot, glittyknittykitty, and Knit Happens. These master knitters are amazingly talented, and post photographs of their stunning work along with discussions of knitting as art and philosophy. Some of the most interesting blogs are called KAL's (knitalongs, such as The Sexy Knitters Club), where members vote on a project to be worked on by the entire blog team. Knitting has become a subculture, and I'm delighted to be a member.

I must admit that I only began to knit a couple of months ago. I picked up a "Learn to Knit" kit on a whim one day for $9.99 at my local Target store. The knitting project included with the kit was a dog toy, a knitted, stuffed bone, to be exact. After realizing, post-impulse purchase, that our two little monsters would tear the thing apart in a matter of seconds, I decided to follow the basic instructions and start with something simple. So I began to make a "practice" scarf.

It quickly became apparent to me that I needed help beyond the DVD that accompanied the kit. I must have begun to knit 20 different practice scarves, in various colors and types of yarn, all of them replete with twisted stitches and little holes in places they didn't belong. Luckily, a Google search revealed that a chic, brand-new yarn shop had recently opened in the large, affluent suburb in which I live. I couldn't get over there fast enough.

Once I had finishing fawning over the shop's fabulous selection of yarns and other knitting-related merchandise, I registered for a Beginning Knitting class. I hoped to meet like-minded knitters and join the local knitting group, which meets every other Thursday night. I took two classes, and what did we make? Scarves, of course. (You would think we get lots of snow and cold weather in southeast Texas ~ we don't.) I've had lots of practice making scarves, and must admit that my knitting is gradually improving. I've surprised myself with the amount of perseverance I've brought to this pursuit; I don't always finish what I start.

Why knit? It's an activity that brings many benefits. Dubbed the "new yoga," knitting is relaxing and relieves stress. I've found that it helps quell my usual anxiety, along with cravings for cigarettes and food. It's a creative, crafty kind of hobby, and that holds great appeal for me. Knitting allows me to be productive in the evening when lounging in front of the television with MBF, and I like that, too. It's also a perfect way to meet other people; many of the newer yarn shops have "sit and knit" corners catering to their customers, who quickly form fast friendships and soon their own knitting groups. I like the idea of knitting for charity as well, and have the opportunity to knit prayer shawls to be donated to patients and their families at Houston's M. D. Anderson Cancer Center.

For the above reasons, in addition to some inexplicable compulsion, I've developed a passion for knitting. My needles click the day away since whenever I'm sitting, I'm knitting. I love the meditative nature of the experience, the repetition of the stitches, each one akin to the utterance of a mantra. I feel a kinship with anyone anywhere that has ever knit, especially in days of old (archeological examples of knitting have been found from before Christ was born).

MBF thinks I'm a little loopy to find knitting as exciting as I do. He calls me, "Granny," but says kind, encouraging things when I proudly show him my improving petal-pink and fuchsia striped scarf. Next on my knitting agenda is making a chunky hip bag, then a hat in an upcoming "knitting in the round" class.

While I'll never be a true member of the "knitterati," I can join my local knitting group, have fun, and knit my heart out. I can knit to socialize, to relax, to make Christmas gifts: the list is long and limited only by my imagination. One thing I know for sure is that I'm addicted to knitting. Who knows? Maybe there's a "Knitters Anonymous" blog in my future.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Missing in Action

I apologize to each of my faithful readers for not having posted in so long; unfortunately, I've been a victim of humanity this past month and have not had the focus necessary to pen one of my usual essays.

Thanks to all of you for checking in ~ I hope to have something written and published by early next week.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Let Thy Will Be My Will

"She's gone." Those were my friend's words tonight, sounding eerily emotionless over the cellphone, telling me that my dear friend Jenny had died suddenly of an aneurysm related to the leukemia she developed in February. I am sad and in a state of shocked denial. Although I wrote about Jenny's remission from this dread disease in my last post, she soon recurred and recently participated in clinical trials at our local cancer center.

The treatments were ineffective, so Jenny was waiting to see if either of her siblings were matches in terms of bone marrow should she become eligible for a transplant. She passed away before the results of the blood tests were known.

If you read my previous essay on the power of prayer, you're aware of how confident I felt that God had answered the many petitions offered for Jenny's healing. For reasons I am perhaps not meant to understand, her respite from her illness was short-lived. "The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away" ~ but why, we ask. Why reward our faith with a miracle, and then show it to be a failed parlor trick?

I've always tended to see God as anthropomorphic ~ like a kindly Santa Claus figure reclining among the cumulus clouds in His white robes, sporting the obligatory long white beard. Even though I've evolved spiritually far beyond this narrow perspective, when I really want God to hear me, I revert back to my Santa fantasy. I tend to forget that God's will is going to be done no matter what, and that's how it should be, but that is not always what I pray for.

So I have to accept that taking this vibrant, saintly woman in the prime of her life, who gave so much and still had so much more to offer, was the will of God. I study the words of many of the greatest thinkers the world has ever known, and I've never read even one viable attempt at an explanation of why God chooses to do such outlandish things. But then I don't believe He causes bad things to happen. That being the case, why does He allow them to occur? This is the inexplicable conundrum with which mankind has wrestled for ages, and I don't propose ever to be able to solve the puzzle, nor to witness anyone else doing so. I believe God is omniscient and we're not. Knowing all, He is aware of what is best for each and every one of us. Life is a series of lessons learned; maybe when you graduate from your earthly classes, God calls you home.

I like to think of Jenny being at home at last, in constant conscious contact with the Almighty, experiencing perfect peace. She was a steadfast Christian, and I envision Jesus meeting her at the pearly gates with His arms outstretched, ready and waiting to welcome her to the Promised Land. And yes, I know how naive and childish all this sounds, but I can't imagine her soul just hanging out in the ether waiting for another body to inhabit. Nor can I believe that Jenny is simply gone, her spirit annhilated along with her body at the time of her death. Maybe that's what happens when you die, but it's not a comforting thought.

Jenny, you will be missed by so many, many of your friends in the fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous. You were the one with the hand out for the newcomers, making the 12-Step calls, visiting the sick, helping the less disadvantaged in the program, cooking up a storm for AA Club functions, and serenely taking care of your beautiful young twin daughters singlehandedly. Your faith in God's grace was unshakeable and your courage downright intrepid. But I know that when you prayed for yourself, you prayed for God's will, not your own, to be done. And in the end, he took you up on your offer and it was His will that won out.

I'm not asking for any answers, but to be honest, I don't feel as confident about the "power of prayer" as I did while I was writing my earlier post on the subject. You see, I assumed God would do my will; never once did I ask for His will to supersede mine, nor did I expect it to. I've learned a lot about humility through this experience, and maybe a little about "magical thinking." I'll never stop my practice of prayer, but think I'll let God take the steering wheel instead of insisting on always doing the driving.

Jenny, my prayer for you now is that you rest eternally in the arms of your Savior. We will miss you terribly, and never come to a satisfactory understanding of why you were taken from us too soon, but will accept your passing with the grace you would have expected of your friends. I'll see you on the other side, and until then, as you never failed to tell me whenever we parted company, "Love you bunches."

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Prayer Power: How It Works

In Alcoholics Anonymous, we are taught the following in the Big Book of AA:

"We are not cured of alcoholism. What we really have is a daily reprieve contingent on the maintenance of our spiritual condition."

(Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous, 4th ed., p. 85)

Over the past couple of months, I have whined incessantly in my AA meetings, as well as in my online recovery forums, about what has become a constant struggle to stay in fit "spiritual condition." Until recently, I had always been a person with an unwavering faith in God and a rich spiritual life. The daily prayer and devotions in which I engaged on and off for years greatly enhanced that faith. Unfortunately, since the beginning of the year I've let that practice slide, as well as other wholesome habits such as attending regular AA meetings, staying in touch with friends, and other activities that keep me in step with the world and therefore give me opportunities for love, service and growth.

Well, something happened all of a sudden that ultimately had the result of increasing my faith tenfold. In February, a dear friend of mine from my AA home group was diagnosed with leukemia. She was given a 15% chance of survival, and then only if she underwent a bone marrow transplant. Hospice personnel came to visit her, but due to her intrepid nature and invincible faith, she refused to talk to them. Requests immediately went out to her many close friends and acquaintances in AA for prayers on her behalf.

I had no choice but to improve my spiritual fitness, fast! As a consequence of the devastating news, I found myself almost automatically resuming my daily prayer and devotional routine. My prayers became more intense and my meditation of the deeper variety. Had I not been stirred to pray around the clock for Jenny, I would not have received the great blessing of strengthened faith and trust in my Higher Power that quickly began to restore and renew my spirit.

Now Jenny is one of those people who are a blessing to all who know them, and she is known by many. As soon as I heard the diagnosis, I knew that our mutual friends and I were going to have to be vigilant about remaining positive when it came to her recovery. Negativity breeds negativity, and I refused to put up with any of the dejection, fear or worry that would normally accompany most people's responses to such bad news. I reminded my buddies of how important it was going to be for all of us to think only good thoughts concerning the situation, and to expect positive results from our prayers. Like many great thinkers from whom I have learned, I realize that one's beliefs create one's reality. I knew that Jenny was expecting a full recovery, and that it was all-important we do the same.

Much has been made of a recent study on the power of prayer conducted by a team of researchers at the Mayo Clinic. The project was designed to observe how intercessory prayer affected the incidence of major complications suffered by patients following cardiac surgery. The findings of the study indicated that prayer had no effect on preventing complications after surgery. However, the authors did admit to a limitation on the part of the research: the individuals who prayed for the patients did not know them personally. They also recited rote prayers provided to them by the developers of the study instead of using their own words, an agreeably necessary condition of the study, although it certainly must have had the effect of inhibiting levels of sincerity to some degree. Although all those who prayed belonged to either Protestant or Catholic Christian organizations, there also would have been no way to measure whether or not they truly believed their prayers would be effective. Finally, the study made no allowance for prayers said or left unsaid by those close to the patients, such as friends and relatives. Indeed, the far from perfect parameters of the study caused the researchers ultimately to concede that, "Private or family prayer is widely believed to influence recovery from illness, and the results of this study do not challenge this belief."

One of the modern pioneers on the subject of the power of prayer, Norman Vincent Peale, explained his views on prayer power in his huge bestseller, "The Power of Positive Thinking":

"When you send out a prayer for another person, you employ the force inherent in a spiritual universe. You transport from yourself to the other person a sense of love, helpfulness, support . . . and in this process you awaken vibrations in the universe through which God brings to pass the good objectives prayed for."

"Pray with the belief that sincere prayers can reach out and surround your loved ones with God's love and protection."

"Never use a negative thought in prayer. Only positive thoughts get results."

I wouldn't subscribe to Peale's principles if so many great philosophers had not foreshadowed his beliefs for centuries, and if the very same tenets weren't put forth in a much more sophisticated manner by contemporary gurus like Deepak Chopra, Eckhart Tolle and Wayne Dyer. But I like Peale's simple explanation of prayer power ~ we pray for others with genuine goodness as our intent, and most importantly we sincerely believe God will answer our prayers in the affirmative. Since it is a law of the universe that like attracts like, we pray for healing in a confident frame of mind, even to the point of claiming that it has already taken place.

In answer to countless of those confident, life-affirming prayers, Jenny is now out of the hospital and feeling fantastic. Her faith remains unshaken, and her heart is bursting with love for those who have patiently and repeatedly petitioned the Almighty for her healing. I have no doubt that, as a result of her experience, Jenny's faith has grown exponentially just as mine has. She is a living, breathing example of how prayer power works, and how it will always work as long as you truly believe that it will and if you trust in God to fulfill your humble requests.

I would never have wanted Jenny to go through this harrowing experience for anything in the world. However, if I've received a blessing as a result of her illness, I won't refuse it, especially considering its nature and how happy it has made both of us. That blessing would be the restoration of my faith, along with the renewed practice of my daily prayer, which keeps me centered and in touch with the Divine presence. I've also been dealt a vital reminder of how prayer power works ~ and I am therefore once more assured that my prayers for other concerns will be heard and answered.

I am especially fond of what Bill Wilson, the founder of Alcoholics Anonymous, says in the Big Book regarding prayer: "We shouldn't be shy on this matter of prayer. Better men than we are using it constantly. It works, if we have the proper attitude and we work at it." (4th ed., pp. 85-86). In fact, it was in AA that I initially experienced the power of prayer, as I saw it change for the better so many, many lives before my unbelieving eyes, including my own. Prayer works, and Jenny's recovery is a vibrant testimony to that philosophy.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Finally, a Family

To be perfectly honest, I've never cared much for children. Nor have I ever been interested in having a family of my own. When I was a kid, I observed what it was like to be a parent and it seemed like much more responsibility than I personally wanted to assume. Parenting required investing many years and a great deal of money into an all-consuming enterprise, the outcome of which was entirely uncertain. Why take the chance?

It's not as though my own mother was a poor role model, because she wasn't. She was the perfect, traditional, 1950's housewife and mom to my three siblings and me. Instead, it's the fact that she repeatedly told me that, if anything ever happened to one of us, she'd never, ever recover from the loss. Consequently, the idea of having, then losing a beloved child became for me the pinnacle of bad luck in life, akin to death in its darkening effect. After carefully considering my mother's words over the years, I naturally gravitated to a path of childlessness.

I've been married twice, and while I always pretended I wanted children for the sake of appearances, in the back of my mind I was terrified at the prospect. At that time, it would have been unusual (although not unheard of) for a couple to choose to remain childless. During both my marriages it was necessary for me to work and make a good living; how did one do that while contemporaneously caring for a couple of rug rats who mostly ran amuck and otherwise misbehaved, I wondered? All I knew is that I didn't want to find out, and therefore used my chosen method of birth control religiously.

But several years after my last divorce, when I began to feel like making new friends and maybe meeting someone special, I speculated what that intelligent, handsome, funny, and hopefully somewhat unconventional man might be like. By this time, I'd at least had more experience with kids and didn't dislike them quite so much as I did in years previous. I was mostly tolerant of babies and genuinely enjoyed adolescents and teenagers. The thought of a meeting a man with children was therefore pleasing to me; close to my age, his kids were certain to be older, and he wouldn't have custody of them anyway, right?

I met MBF on His profile indicated he had children, and in one of his initial email messages to me he described them briefly. Stacey, the oldest, was a junior at a major university. Melissa, the number-two daughter, was a senior in high school. And Nick was a 6'4" member of the freshman football team. I was enchanted.

We spent the first six months of our relationship in the bliss of unabashed infatuation, spending our date nights together alone at his small, new-bachelorhood apartment. I had the opportunity to meet the children on several occasions and liked them immediately. Then, all of a sudden, presto change-o! MBF was living in the deep suburbs with all three of his kids. Wha' happened?

I'll skip the circumstances which made the move necessary. All you need to know is that I ultimately moved in with MBF and two of his offspring (Melissa has her own apartment), and after seven months, have realized that I've fallen in love with a family. I can't think of anything I've ever experienced that has made me happier or been more fulfilling than sharing MBF's progeny with him, wholesome and intelligent youngsters that they are. Stacey made the Dean's List after her first semester in law school; Melissa is studying to be an elementary school teacher; and Nick will be on the varsity football squad when he's a senior next year, after which he'll be going on to college as well. I couldn't be prouder of them if I were their mother. Which I don't have to remind myself I'm not.

I've found there are many lessons to be learned when living as part of a family, and am still making mistakes as I try to master them. Patience is probably the primary personality trait that enables me to live here without inwardly uttering constant pleas for privacy for MBF and myself; tolerance is another virtue that I must continually work on. In AA, we claim that " love and tolerance of others is our code," and I try to remain loyal to that pledge. I find I get a little steamed when too many messes are made that are obviously intended to be cleaned up by me, and occasionally feel a pang of resentment toward doing laundry that isn't mine, but most of the time I perform these tasks cheerfully, so thankful for these young people who have stolen my heart. I find that consistently being of service to my family helps to remove my focus from myself, and that's always good for me. It also gives me a chance to work on overcoming my selfishness and self-centeredness, character traits of mine that constantly need monitoring.

The kids are a credit to their amazing father. Stacey is smarter than anyone has a right to be, beautiful, creative and funny. Melissa was born under a lucky star, is as bohemian as her big sister is classy, and keeps us entertained with her off-the-wall antics. Nick is a big, shy, easygoing boy, full of wonder and insight. Each is as different from the other as our relationships, which are changing and growing closer every day.

I feel as if I am the one who was born under that lucky star ~ fortunate enough finally, after years of being alone, to live within the bonds of a family which, thanks to MBF's remarkable parenting skills, is happy and well-adjusted. And although I'm not formally related to his children, I could not be fonder of them if I were. I call them my stepchildren anyway, laying claim just in case anyone wants to challenge their position in my life.

I love my new family. I love cooking for them, looking forward to seeing their faces when they return from work and school, cleaning up their disasters in the kitchen, and folding the clothes they should be folding themselves. I always thought MBF spoiled his children, and now I can understand why, as well as the reason any parent spoils a child, for that matter. I enjoy making their lives easier in little ways, surprising them with small gifts, and can't bring myself to act like an ogre and issue orders when rooms aren't clean and dishes are left in the sink. After all, they have a mother, and once again, it's not me.

If I had not ended up living with these fine, accomplished young people, I would not have known this love, this joy, this happiness at now being like my girlfriends who've had their own families for years. I can talk "family speak" now and feel at home and comfortable around my soccer-mom pals, instead of isolated and apart the way I did when I was alone. I even left my church because I felt there was no place for me: not young enough for the college singles group, obviously unable to join in the family activities, and not quite ready for the sewing circle.

Certainly this is the way God intended man to live, monogamously under one roof with his loved ones until they're ready to leave the nest. MBF calls himself a sapiens domesticus, which describes him perfectly and suits me fine. We live a harmonious, happy lifestyle in our little suburban home. As a result of his sharing his family with me, my life has been both enlarged and enriched. I used to think I didn't have enough love for more than a carefully selected few ~ but now, however, my heart has swelled with more affection and care than I ever thought myself capable. For this I have MBF to thank, who has made all this possible for me, and whom I love more than I love life itself.

So I understand a little better now about why people choose to have families, preferring to risk the unknown rather than miss out on experiencing life to the fullest. And I can also understand how my mother feels about never being able to recover should she lose one of her children. My family life has taught me about unconditional love, an emotion I didn't think I had in me. It's an indescribable feeling to care about the needs of others more than you care about your own.

I realize this essay sounds saccharine and schmaltzy, but that's the way I feel about my abrupt, yet most welcome change in circumstances. I regret all those years I felt so cynical about family life, and now realize the reason for my derision was plain and simple envy. But now I'm making up for lost time by enjoying the heck out of my quasi-husband and his adorable issue. My new life is a gift from God, and I am immensely grateful for the opportunity to feel the love of a family at last.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

The Angst of Self-Denial

For about a month now, I've engaged in a rigorous program of abstinence from nasty habits of all kinds. Some of you know that I recently quit smoking; well, now I'm dieting in an effort to lose the 12 pounds I gained while substituting food for cigarettes, a common phenomenon that becomes the bane of many an ex-smoker.

While by and large I have become accustomed to not smoking, I still have to exercise a certain amount of will power occasionally to resist buying a pack of cigarettes, generally whenever I've become depressed or stressed out for some reason. However, the withdrawal symptoms I experienced when, while still suffering the psychological pangs of smoking cessation, I began to deprive myself of my favorite foods, made the painful process of quitting seem benign by comparison.

I have not been a very nice person to be around during the past few weeks. My mood has been gloomy, and I've felt tired and drained. I bitch and moan and complain to anyone who'll listen. You have a problem? I'll find a way to make it all about me. Think I should "count my blessings"? Puh-leeze. My buddies tell me I need to make a "gratitude list." They're right--but instead of taking their advice I keep putting it off, just like everything else in my life that needs done.

I have no motivation at the moment, making me feel intense self-loathing at my laziness. I have no interest in anything at all except the usual paltry pursuits, and don't particularly care to conquer anything new. All I can seem to muster at the moment in terms of action is to continue to eschew the cigarettes and attempt to ensure that I don't end up obese in the process. My fellow ex-smokers over at Quitnet have assured me that these feelings are all normal and to be expected at this stage of stopping smoking (called being in "No Man's Land," the period of time that elapses between "quitting" and becoming someone who's finally "quit"), but sometimes I am almost miserable enough to resume puffing the nasty things.

As for the weight gain, I've decided that uncontrollable eating is the substitute for smoking most of us addicts (and smokers are indeed drug addicts) fall prey to once we quit. To be sure, smoking lowers one's metabolic rate, so a gain of about five pounds or so is inevitable. But for this victim of hyper-vanity, a gain of 12 pounds has proven absolutely unacceptable, so I've gone on the South Beach Diet (the one where you eat the "good" carbs and avoid the "bad" carbs). I'm going nuts without potatoes, bread, sugar, pasta and fruit, though. Despite the relative generosity of allowed foods on the diet, I find I'm hungry most of the time, making me feel deprived and irritable. I wasn't nearly this mean when I all I had to battle was the smoking; fighting off cravings for more than one substance has knocked me for a loop.

I've never been a viable candidate when it comes to self-denial. My self-will seems to win the war at every turn. Yes, my will is strong--when it comes to manifesting what I want, when I want it; unfortunately, what I want these days is generally something ultimately not in my best interest (food, a nap, a cigarette, more food...). But I tell myself that where there's a will, there's a way; I just need to put the brakes on and head in the totally opposite direction.

Stabs at positive thinking, if I can be consistent about them, do help out quite a bit. The problem is that I too often let my negative feelings overwhelm me and suddenly forget all about focusing on the glass-half-full approach. I've resolved, however, to continue to try to improve the quality of my thinking. Norman Vincent Peale, as well as many others, once said that we create our lives with our thoughts, and I agree with that philosophy. I find that I do quite a bit better if I can remember how I wish to feel, and believe and act as if I really do feel that way. It's not a parlor trick; it works if you make the required effort. It's like we say in AA: "Fake it 'til you make it."

I have blown my diet for the past three days but am not remorseful; it was either that or continue to cry uncontrollably. Today, I'm back on track and concentrating on how wonderful I'll feel when I lose these few pounds, and how good I'll look when I fit into my spring wardrobe. I'm breathing my way through the craves for a smoke like a yogi expert in the art of pranayama, and have no plans to buy a pack of "sickarettes." I'm faithfully chugging a portion of my daily 64 ounces of water instead of chowing down on that snack I'd like, and looking forward to a healthy meal falling with the SBD parameters.

I find I tend to over-dramatize my high-class problems. One blip on my psychological radar screen sends me into an emotional tizzy. But I now see how unnecessary this is. As long as I can remain reminded of the benefits of my current undertaking, instead of the deprivation I've chosen to feel, I can endure not smoking and reducing my food intake simultaneously without having a meltdown. The brain is not easily fooled, however; I must sincerely believe deep within that I can do this, and do it successfully, without putting the rest of my life on pause like some virtual VCR. At any moment, I can choose to be happy and successful, or miserable and a failure. The choice is mine to make.

Today, I choose to be content and at peace with my decision to quit smoking and lose weight at the same time. Doing so is no excuse for depression, moodiness or generally being a thorn in the side of others. I can do this, and do it with ease and grace as long as I sustain a positive attitude. I think I'll make that gratitude list after all.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

The Bliss of Blogging

There is nothing more I love at present than staying up until the wee hours of the morning blogging away on my trusty wireless laptop. I don't know why the urge to write something strikes me at some point after midnight, usually right before I'm ready to go to sleep. So I pick up the PC and think for a bit about what point I want to get across in my essay, search Google for an appropriate image, title the post and begin to write. It's an unhealthy method to say the least; but I have no control over the call of my muse.

I created Borderline Blonde in September of last year, and am genuinely surprised that I'm still posting on a semi-regular basis. You see, I have a reputation for not finishing things I start; but when I get bored with a project, I can't seem to bring myself to bring it to a conclusion. But this blog has been able to sustain my interest for six months now, so I can't help but be thrilled that it's lengthened my attention span when it comes to a hobby of sorts. Why am I still writing? I've written prose practically since I learned to use a pencil. I won my first writing award in first grade. I wrote all through grade school and college (majoring in English and philosophy), and stayed in college most of my adult life collecting credit hour after credit hour in the hope that I would eventually earn my master's degree. But I'm not in school by choice at the moment, and therefore have no forum for my writing. My blog has become a welcome substitute for term papers and other literary projects.

I've been urging a friend of mine to create a blog and realized as I described the process that blogging can be as easy or as difficult as you want to make it. You see, Blogger allows you to choose a background template from an adequate selection, which is customizable as long as you want to spend hours learning and writing code (assuming you don't know it, which I didn't). Customizing your template is great fun; using HTML and CSS, you can change background colors, text sizes, fonts, etc. so your blog won't look like ten thousand others on the Internet. I chose to teach myself code, and have had an absolutely amazing time learning about attributes and tags and style sheets and lots of other cool stuff. It isn't easy and I still have lots to learn, but I haven't been as challenged by a subject since I took a couple of courses in symbolic logic years ago.

Ah, but it's the writing that's the thing I look forward to the most--allowing the words to beam from my brain to the screen in a stream-of-consciousness fashion, followed by literally hours of careful editing. It's important to me that I've made a point of some kind that I think might interest a few people, or to which others might be able to relate. When I first began blogging I wrote about political topics but, despite my unwavering love of current events, have obviously drifted toward the personal aspect of life. I feel the need now to veer toward a completely different area but am not quite sure which direction I want this blog to take. I even looked at the ebay site map for ideas: Health and Beauty? Art and Antiques? Books? Music? Crafts? All subjects worthy of consideration, I guess, except that I'm not very "crafty." Most crafts are tacky, in my opinion, although there are, of course, exceptions.

In fact, I've enjoyed working on this blog so much that I created a new one based on my love of philosophy, entitled Quotes for Growth. My new blog looks gorgeous, if I do say so mself, and simply bears daily posts of inspiring quotations from philosophers of all eras and backgrounds. It's been a labor of love and uniquely satisfying. Even when half the blog disappeared completely and it took me hours to recover it, I must confess to enjoying every frustrating minute of the task.

I recommend to others who are bored and have a base amount of computer experience to blog. If they are fond of working with computers as well as like the idea of putting their thoughts out there in cyberspace for those they are lucky enough to have read them, they will have found a satisfying hobby that will provide them with hours of endless education and enjoyment.

I love blogging--it's the bomb. It's a habit to which I've grown accustomed that I hope I never abandon. As of today, I've had over 800 visitors to Borderline Blonde and can't help feeling a little smug. When I first began to write my essays, I thought it would take years to achieve that many hits. I can't tell you how nice it is to know people are visiting, and reading, and visiting again. I'm glad my guests now know my stories, and wish that I knew theirs. The joys of blogging are many and worthwhile--and very easily worth an occasional thoughtful, sleepless, blissful night.