the anatomy of scarcity

View from Sun Tower

(view of Vancouver from the Sun Tower)

Scarcity. What a compelling topic. It’s been part of my way of life for as long as I can remember, all the way back to childhood. Something was always missing and that feeling of “not enough” an inherent part of every one of my waking moments to a greater or lesser extent.

Now moreso, since I’ve been without work and have not found a replacement job to date.

I thought that somehow I could manage to shift from one industry to another by sheer force of will and transferable skills. Apparently thirty years in one area, despite there being an overlap in skill set and an accumulation of many other (applicable) skills throughout the course of these many years, is not sufficiently convincing enough for someone to hire me into untested areas. The only way I can make the shift is by getting more training and/or going it on my own somehow. Both, I suspect.

I thought all of this free time would enable me to be creative, that I would take advantage of it to get things done that I’ve always wanted to do.

I even warned a co-worker who had been laid-off a few weeks prior to me to stay focused on the gift of time rather than on the state of worry that being without a job invariably puts us into.

Turns out that money really does make the world go round and that I can’t do much without more of it, that worry over finances summarily blocks the places where my creativity lives and that on top of blocking creativity, it also seriously limits my cognitive ability to think outside the box… so creative thinking not just in creative terms but also in practical terms, is also stunted.

I’ve been reading Scarcity: Why Having Too Little Means So Much by Sendhil Mullainathan and Eldar Shafir.  (If you feel moved to purchase the book, I would be immensely grateful if you use my link to purchase it.. it adds a few pennies into my Amazon Associates fund – thanks in advance.)

The book raises some interesting points on how scarcity in its various forms affects our ability to work through the lack, ostensibly affecting us in all areas of our lives not just the ones where the scarcity occurs. Essentially, if one is experiencing scarcity in one area, it is likely to diminish our cognitive ability to find a workable solution to resolve the lack. So lack perpetuates lack and degrades our ability to figure out a way in which to overcome it.

That’s huge, in my opinion. It also is very much in line with my own experiences, and speaks to the very large epidemic that is sweeping the poor and quickly declining middle classes. We are in a bind and seemingly incapable of coming up with viable solutions. How did the human race manage to survive for millions of years and yet become so paralyzed and incapable of finding a good resolution to its most pressing current issues?

These days basic survival is on my mind. Shelter. Food. Bus fare so that I can travel to interviews or temporary assignments. There is very little wiggle room and it is quickly diminishing to even less. I think it is difficult for those who are not faced with these issues to fully understand their implications.

The book promises to provide “simple suggestions that just might change the way you live”. While I am creeping through the first chapters – the writing style, though informative, is a little stilted – I hope that these suggestions will provide the change that will shift this life-long rut I’ve found myself in.

If you’ve read it, I’d love to hear your thoughts, both on the topic and the usefulness of the book.

Love,
Adriane xo

sleep my little babbio

blanket

Sleep my little baby-oh
Sleep until you waken
When you wake you’ll see the world
If I’m not mistaken…

Kiss a lover
Dance a measure,
Find your name
And buried treasure…

Face your life
Its pain,
Its pleasure,
Leave no path untaken.
(from The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman)

I can only just make out the scent of autumn in the air but it’s there, right along with its knitty siren call.  As a belated birthday gift, I’m working on the first of a pair of fingerless wrist warmers. The second project is a baby blanket for an expectant mother.

I muse at the irony of my love of knitting —a skill, along with embroidery, that my seamstress mother declared she had no patience for.  It requires a sort of sustained and mindful, sometimes even meditative, attention.  This contrasts with the impatience that I exhibit when I attempt to work my way through a sewing project.  Clearly our sensibilities around what constitutes patience vary greatly.

wristwarmers

While I knit, I sometimes multitask.  If the project is a simple one which allows my hands to do the work without engaging too much of my attention (a garter stitch or a simple rib pattern, for example), I am able to watch movies while I work on a project.  When I work on more complicated things requiring focus and greater visual contact with the piece and the pattern, I tend to listen to audiobooks.

Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett (together or separately) are favourites, in that regard.  As my son will attest, I will listen to the books repeatedly (enjoying them immensely each and every time), while I work on my various pieces.  The little poem up top is from Neil’s The Graveyard Book, which I adore.  I found a rather aged post that mentioned it was being made into a stop motion film.  That should be pretty fantastic.

in five years…

Recently I was asked during a job interview “Where to you envision yourself in five years?”

Now there’s a loaded question if I’ve ever heard one.

If it was a friend asking, I would say “I haven’t got a clue!” That would be the truth.

Instead, I replied, “Here, doing the job I was hired to do” (or something to that effect).

Does that make me sound less than ambitious? I mean really, I’m about seventeen years away from what would normally be retirement (and that is a whole ‘nother other blogpost ::sigh::). How ambitious does one need to be at this point in one’s life?

I’ve done a lot.
I’ve seen a lot.
I’ve experienced a lot (believe me, some of those things I wouldn’t wish upon anyone).

I’m not without ambition, but I’ll admit that my ambitions are very different from those I might have had in my early life.

While loitering on Pintrest in search of things to add to my bucket list board, I spent some time reviewing other peoples’ bucket lists.

Some of the pins I ended up posting to my own board while others I was mystified by. Things like: “receive flowers from a stranger” or “be kissed unexpectedly” or even “be the couple everyone is jealous of”.

Aren’t bucket list items things that one has some measure of control over effectuating rather than hoping that some random external source will make them happen?

And if one is fortunate enough to be in a relationship that is so divinely wonderful that it serves as an example for others, would one really want to surround oneself with people who would be jealous of our happiness and success?

These did, however, bring to fore just how different our expectations and self-perceptions are simply based upon where we find ourselves along the timeline of our lives.

Five years ago I had fairly recently moved back to Canada with my son, after a sixteen year hiatus (and a failed marriage) in California.

I had just started a new job, and had just moved into a new place. I had great hopes from all of those things, fully expecting to gain new skills and flourish in my new position, spend some time nesting in my new homestead, watch my son excel in school and grow into young manhood relatively unscathed and filled with purpose and ambition.

Nothing was quite the way I expected.

I was laid-off from the job within five short months through circumstances beyond my control.

My son struggled through various tribulations in school and through early adolescence, and living below a family of five in a poorly lit basement suite turned out to be less enjoyable than I had envisioned.

I dated and got my heart broken and after a long withdrawal and healing process, I have become hopeful again. I lost and found, in steady and repeated intervals, my creative mojo. Ditto my spirituality.

I’ve been utterly transformed in these five years, and I would never have been able to foresee that, nor precognitively determine the level of transformation that would take place. Most of it took place internally and no one other than me and a few close friends could intimate the level of change just by looking at me.

The truth is that the future is wide open, in ways that I can’t even begin to express. I’ve spent my life flying by the seat of my pants, making constant and minute adjustments in response to my ever shifting internal core that eventually ends up being expressed externally as the human being the world sees me as. I’m sure that isn’t about to change any time soon.

In the meantime, I intend to do many things.

Become at once more disciplined and more daring.

Savour all things more deeply even as I engage in even wilder and more audacious dreaming.

Learn to be kinder, more patient, loving and respectful – with everyone (including myself).

Laura Magdalene Eisenhower posted something to Facebook the other day that sums up my intentions.

“When one can maintain emotional maturity when there is a conflict or upset, when one can still be respectful to others when they have had a hard day, when one has the humility to self-correct when mistakes are made; when one can let Love be the greater force than Ego, then we begin to see our highest potential reveal itself and shift our realty [sic] for the better as it also invites others to exist in a similar way. This is how we can maintain some sense of balance and harmony with each other, which protects us from dark forces.”

I’m not sure I believe in dark forces, per se, though I believe everyone has shadow aspects, and both the reptile brain and the ego can take us for a ride to places we have no business going if we are to maintain a level of happiness and equilibrium in our lives.

The rest, though, is solid. I am still perfecting the process but damnit if I’m not minutely edging closer all the time…

on passion (& vintage typewriters)

vintage typewriter

“Ignoring your passion is slow suicide. Never ignore what your heart pumps for. Mold your career around your lifestyle not your lifestyle around your career.”
Anonymous

I saw this post online (if you click the photo up top, it will take you to it – I hope), along with the caption.

I really want one of these old typewriters – one is on my wish list…

But… I’ve come to find that I have made peace with the dichotomy of passion and earning a living not necessarily being one and the same…

One can be passionate about one’s work – its quality, the service it provides to those we are hired to assist, the higher purpose of the organizations for whom we work, the connections we make with inner and outer clients, our sense of usefulness in our roles… those are many things we can be passionate about in relation to earning a living.

I was stuck for so long for much of my adult life fretting about how to turn the things I was passionate about (my writing, my art, my creative pursuits, my volunteering work) into a living, so much so that I lost sight of the passion and also was in a constant state of discontent at being unable to make this shift I so wanted to make yet was incapable of defining.

It turns out that I’m damned good at my “day job” and despite having one (when I’m not unemployed) I can still engage in the things I am passionate about on my own time because they energize me and infuse me with enthusiasm.

I’ve learned that those two parts of my life are not mutually exclusive. Joy (and passion) can be found in all things.

blueberry crumb cake

IMG_0175.JPG

Blueberries are local and abundant. The weather had finally cooled enough to allow for some baking without causing the paint to peel in the kitchen from the heat of an oven.

I’ve baked many things in my time, but nothing has been quite as dreamy as this cake.

Perfect lightness to the cake.
Delicious crumbliness to the topping.
The blueberries throughout adding just the right amount of delight to the palate.

Mmmm… highly recommended.

a poem

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reading between the lines

the air is perfection, like a fine silken shawl wrapping
a pale blue cloud puff streaked sky that envelops,
the twittering of bird calls a stereophonic wall,
sound streaming on musty breeze carrying news
of ocean tides, of grassy decay, of musty salt;
a humming bee visitation recalls sacred explorations,
glistening gold of honey gained through fertile
beginnings, endings, between the spaces of a miracle;
we sit here and listen, waiting for a soft, gentle, hand.

(c) 2014 Adriane Csicsmann Giberson