Category Archives: The Meaning of Life

Happy New Year!

I admit that I’m a little smug about resolutions now. As I read the Facebook posts and e-mails about 2012 resolutions I catch myself thinking, “Oh yea? How about making 12 resolutions? Then I’ll be impressed.”

It may not surprise you that I have a bunch of possible resolutions in mind for 2012. The conference room of Shelbies in my head has been having a three-day retreat to consider the options and make some final decisions.

Just a few of the early contenders are

  • 10,000 steps a day December
  • Scanning September
  • Organizing October
  • Nothing New November
  • No Meat May
  • Canning August

Some favorites from 2011 will likely be revisited, with some extra twists. I’m currently planning No Alcohol for February again, for example, but this year I will invent new Virgin Cocktails each week.

Who knows what shenanigans are in store? I certainly don’t.

What I do know is that somehow, this process of making resolutions and blogging is helping me to live a more present life, and to have more fun with every day challenges and the small but meaningful goals I have for myself. I find humor in my failures as much as I find delight in my successes. And I also now have great dinner party conversation available to me at any time.

So, now’s your chance. What monthly resolutions do YOU think 2012 should include for me?


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Filed under Alcohol, Organizing, Resolutions, The Meaning of Life

A peace of myself

“An original idea. That can’t be too hard. The library must be full of them.” – Stephen Fry

The British Library

I just stood in front of the handwritten draft of Ravel’s Bolero. And Handel’s Messiah. And Mozart’s Horn Concerto in E Flat. I gazed over Virginia Woolf’s manuscript of Mrs. Galloway while I listened to her voice. I heard James Joyce read from Finnegan’s Wake and saw Charlotte Bronte’s manuscript of Jane Eyre. I saw a copy of Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales. And listened to the Beatle’s recording of A Hard Days Night while I looked at the original draft of the lyrics, written by John Lennon on the back of his son’s first birthday card.

* How on earth did they play that? (Handel’s music writing is almost impossible to decipher. Beethoven’s had big blotches all over it. Is that a note or an ink blot?)

* Virginia Woolf did not sound like what I expected. At all.

* Even listening to Mr. Joyce read his own words, I still didn’t understand them.

* I could hear Bolero as I was looking at it. I could feel the beat of the music and imagine Ravel writing it. Did he know it was a masterpiece when he was putting it on paper?

Oh! I almost forgot. I also saw two of four surviving copies of The Magna Carta (translated, “the great charter”). From, you know, the 1200s. No big deal.

Now I am sitting in the cafe at The British Library, where these and other treasures are stored, and gazing up at the rare book archive, encased in glass and running from the basement to the top floor.

If I got trapped here, I don’t think I’d mind.

My resolution for this month has been a rather personal one, which is why I haven’t written about it. Since I woke up in a funk when the month began, I have been focusing my energy on getting out of that funk. Planning and preparing for this trip was certainly helpful in some ways. It is exciting to read about all of the things to see and do and to prepare for a two week break from my normal routine.

But my pending adventure also brought its own degree of anxiety with it. Apparently, I am still learning to travel by myself. I am still letting go of all the places I haven’t seen yet (and may never) because I spent my 20s and 30s making someone else’s dream my priority. I am still, I find, trying to figure out where I want to be.

The good news is that the funk is fading. I haven’t answered all of the questions in the background, but I feel nourished by the reminder that I am brave enough to navigate a foreign city, curious enough to try new foods and follow my nose in unknown neighborhoods, and young enough that I still have time to have many more of my own adventures.

It’s true that I am a tad jealous (ok, more than a tad) of the young people I meet here, from all around the world, who have come to London to live and explore Europe. But perhaps since I am doing my exploring at a different age, I am finding more here than I would have. Not just parts of the world’s history, but parts of myself as well.

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Filed under Life, Resolutions, The Meaning of Life

I’ve been in a funk

but this cheered me up.


Filed under Cheese, The Meaning of Life

The Cheese Stands Alone

First, I’d like to thank Z-Tejas in Austin, TX for giving me the gift of Five Cheese Macaroni and Achiote Chicken (with toasted bacon gratin) for my “Goodbye to Cheese” meal.

Second, I’d like to remind my readers that even though I am walking away from cheese for a month, I can still (and will still) eat ice cream, yogurt, milk, cream, whipped cream, clotted cream, and Gelato.  I am unlikely to develop a severe allergy to dairy this month, and I am most certainly going to eat cheese again.  For example, I will be eating cheese on September 1st.  I appreciate your concern for my sanity, health, and happiness, but I am not changing my mind.

Third, I’d like to thank corn and tomatoes (specifically from Ards and the Jesus-Tomato guy) for your assistance in the next thirty-one days.

I can do it.  I know I can.



Filed under Food, Resolutions, The Meaning of Life

Cheese Dreams

My my!  So many of you are deeply and profoundly opposed to my intended August resolution – Cheese Abstinence.

I think my subconscious is a bit resistant too.  Here’s what my dreams have looked like for the past few days:


Filed under Food, Resistance, The Meaning of Life

Please Stop Asking Me

My May Resolution: DON’T THINK TOO MUCH.  Relax.  Enjoy Life.  Give yourself at least another 17 days to unwind before you try to figure it all out.

There’s only one problem.


Please, I beg of you.  Stop asking me.  I can’t take it.  I try to answer, but then I get stressed out that I don’t know the answer.  But when you ask me, YOU MAKE ME THINK.

SO, To facilitate the elimination of this conversation from my life (for at least another 17 days), I am providing answers to those frequently asked below.

Q: What are you going to do now that you have a master’s degree?

A: My job.

Q: But you have all this extra time now?  How will you fill it?

A: My job.  Oh, and hiking a LOT MORE.

Q: Will you get a big raise?


Q: Not anything at all?

A: No, really.  No raise.

Q: But what about that non-profit cooking class for women on food stamps you want to start?

A: Yes, that’s there in the back of my mind.  Ask me about it in June.  or maybe July.

Q: Won’t you be bored?

A: No.

Q: You could go anywhere now, couldn’t you?

A: Yes.  Please, PLEASE, PUH-LEEEEZE shut up.

Let me make it clear that I love you all for caring.  For your support and excitement about this accomplishment.  But my resolution is to relax, remember?  This is NOT HELPING.

To make this easier, here is a recommended set of ALTERNATIVE questions I encourage you to ask me as well as the answers you can expect from me.

Q: Want to go on a hike?
A: Yes, I’ll meet you in 10 minutes.

Q: Can I come for a visit?
A: I’d love that! As long as we don’t talk about what I’m going to do next!

Q: What are you having for dinner?
A: Something awesome, want to join me?

Q: Want to go out for a drink?
A: Yes!

Q: Want to walk your dog?
A: Yes!

Q: Want to help me paint/clean/shop/cook/take care of kids?
A: Sign me up!

Q: Where is the beer?
A:  In the basement.

Thank you for your cooperation.


Filed under Alcohol, Relaxing, Resolutions, The Meaning of Life

No more thinking!

I am happy to report that my wardrobe selections for last week worked perfectly.  I used everything I packed and successfully managed a trip which included work, vacation, five different cities, and three different suitcases, and about nine different dress codes.

Seriously, what IS the difference between ‘semi-casual,’ ‘business-casual,’ ‘outdoor-casual,’ and ‘country-club-casual,” WHAT ?

As of yesterday  I am back at home – not refreshed really – but rejuvenated a bit and excited about finishing my coursework (tonight), a graduation party (this weekend) and graduation itself (next weekend).

They call graduation “commencement” here, of course because it’s a ceremony primarily for undergraduates and because it’s supposed to mark ‘a beginning.’  I can’t quite get my head around the beginning that is in front of me – perhaps because I feel more like I am in the middle of my story.  Either way, this is a logical time for me to think about my life, my career, my goals, and my next steps.

And so I am.  Thinking that is.  DANGEROUS.
It feels like I should be pondering my biggest resolution yet.

Truthfully, I never really figured out what I was supposed to do with my life.

I got married, which made me happy for a long time.  I found a job I liked and made a career out of it, almost by accident.  I focused on working to support my husband’s dreams because I never figured out what mine were.  Now divorced, I find myself happy with my location, my work, and my life in general.  I never planned on this path, but I’m on it and content.

Part of me feels that I should be looking for something more – perhaps just because I’ve never asked myself the big questions.

* What do I want to do with my life?
* What legacy should I leave?
* How can I make the most of the time I have?

Part of me feels I should just be relaxing and enjoying the time ahead.  Summer.  My porch.  Friends.  My Dog.

The juxtaposition of these  forces (what’s next?  vs. just relax!) sums me up right now.  I’m thinking ALL THE TIME about the future, the world, my values, my options.  It’s EXHAUSTING.

And I don’t want to do it any more.

So, 11 days into the month, here is my resolution.  I am going to stop thinking about this stuff.  For the next 20 days.  I am going to give myself a break from big ideas, life goals, and what if’s.  I’m just going to be.

Or at least, I’m going to try.

So, if you’re in the area, come join me on the porch for a drink and a visit.  I’ll be hanging around, NOT thinking about what’s next, but focusing on what’s in front of me right now.

A gin-and-tonic.

(P.S. I’m noticing a theme here.)

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Filed under Alcohol, Life, Resolutions, The Meaning of Life