Mindful(less?)ness

Free the space for nothingness

It was August 7th when David Kanigan suggested I write a post based on my response to his post “You Missed That…”  Here we are, the last day of August and I am finally writing it.  I did start composing last night but it took me so long to find David’s post because my computer decided to be slower than molasses in January that I abandoned the project in frustration and decided to watch the second half of “Chef’s Table with Jeong Kwan” because watching the first half the night before is what brought me back here in the first place.

So, here I am now.  My response to D.K.’s post was this:

Yes. Mindfulness is a state of being.
It’s funny. On Wednesday, while sitting in my canteen, for a “quiet moment” (i.e. no customers, everything stocked, nothing needing my attention) I was so aware of just how many sounds I am being bombarded with in that tiny space. The hum of the three fridges – each their own sound, the clicking of the hot plate, the whir of the A/C, the flapping of my protective plexiglass “window” every time a breeze came. It was both disconcerting and oddly soothing at the same time.

David’s response was:

You should write a post based on this comment. That’s beautiful.

Kiki seconded the motion and, after a chat on Messenger with Sawsan, I said I would.  Thank goodness I didn’t say when I would do it!

As I worked yesterday, I kept thinking of Jeong Kwan and her being present in the moment – giving herself completely with an open heart and love to whatever task she is doing.  I decided to try to be mindful (instead of incredibly bored) as I made the sandwich fillings:  weigh the meat, calculate the percentages of the add-ins needed as per the recipe such as mayo, sour cream, old-fashioned grain mustard, etc.; take out the food processor, wash and chop the celery, add to bowl sitting on scale, add each ingredient by weight, mix with spatula.  Then, process ham or chicken (or pass hard-boiled eggs through a cooling grid) and add to bowl. Remove my ring and go in with my hands (except for the eggs) to mix well as it is way way more efficient. Feel the cold ingredients and their textures as I lift and fold, almost in a kneading motion, scraping sides of bowl with the side of my hand to bring into the mix.  Let my mind remain empty as I do it, focussing solely on the task, a meditative state.  For me, this is the form of meditation that works for me – besides walking. Of course, today, of all days, I was disrupted by a client who scared the bejeezus out of me by calling out.  No matter. I was able to get back into that frame of mind after I got him his hot dog.

By being mindful, it somehow felt less monotonous; less brain-draining. It helped me give meaning to a simple, repetitive task that I do three times per day, twice per week.  Does this mean I love it? Hell no. Not even close.  What it has done is confirm that I definitely do not want to work in the food preparation business ever again.  I shall, however, not leave them hanging and finish my season. Even if it kills me. Slowly.  Is it mid-October yet?

Dishes done for the third time, vacuum-formed packs put away, I was able to relax between sporadic customers. It had rained non-stop on Tuesday so I was frankly surprised there were as many golfers as there were. The air was crisp; the wind, fierce, the grass certainly soggy, and yet there they were.  They truly are a special breed of fanatic.

I sat there, trying to read when the various hums and clicks got my attention and I realised this was the reason for this post in the first place!  So I set my timer to see just how often the two most annoying and loud items go off.  The vent, the air-conditioning, the small fridges each have their own humming sound that remains constant.  The hotplate starts an almost frenetic clicking sound that goes up to reach its crescendo then slows down until the clicks are more intermittent. The cycle takes 2:35:42 exactly – I timed it.  Twice.  The big-ass Foster fridge motor starts off with a thud and a shudder and this odd echoey-rattly sound before lowering into a loud hum. The cycle takes about 5:03:07.  I timed it twice but missed the start by about 5 seconds as my phone had turned off and frankly, I hear the damn thing all day, I was done focusing on it for this.  I have noticed one of the other fridges has its own sort of shuddering restart or whatever you want to call it but I didn’t bother with it.  I actually took this video two days after David’s post, thought I’d try to redo it and then decided meh. This’ll do to give you an idea.

I have never spent so much time alone and in my head, as I have since I started this job on June 18th. Yes, there are busy moments and lots of customers but they come and go quickly, in a rush to hit their first or back nine. It’s not like serving in the restaurant of the previous golf club I worked for where you get to know the customer’s names and favourite beers and create a rapport.  Sure, there are quite a few regulars, here:  Monsieur Pomme, who orders an apple-oatmeal muffin every single time – and says not a single word other than to order, or now, smile as I put his muffin on the counter before he asks; or Mr. Oxford (from whence he hails) who orders his coffee with four laits – pronounced lays (milks). There are friendly and not-so-much-so types and no one lingers.  That’s to be expected in a canteen or casse-croûte, as we call it.

Random view from my window to distract you from how long this post is

Employees come to get their lunches and snacks as well and some, a few only, take a moment to chit-chat. Other than that?  Me, myself and I.  And my head. And my thoughts.  And the incessant humming and clicking.  I tried putting the radio on to drown out some of it but, being under a cement terrace, the reception is not always without the grating scratchy sound of not quite being on the channel – you remember those? A radio with a dial that you have to adjust ‘just so’ to get your station? I know, I know, I should simply download some music on my phone but honestly? I don’t think of it.  Regardless, it’s not worth it, it just adds to the cacophony.

Somehow this post has not turned into what I thought it would. So since it was a reflective piece, I’ll leave you with a nice little reflection of the setting sun on my just rained-on street.

 

 

Weekend Writing Prompt #142 – Looking-Glass

A word prompt to get your creativity flowing this weekend. How you use the prompt is up to you. Write a piece of flash fiction, a poem, a chapter for your novel…anything you like. Or take the challenge below – there are no prizes – it’s not a competition but rather a fun writing exercise. If you want to share what you come up with, please leave a link to it in the comments.  So hard not to go the obvious route.  Thank you, always, Sammi, for giving me the prompt that pushes me to try other things…

 

What is true

 

A mirror is a practical tool

to ensure my make-up is not clownish

that my hair is not all wonky

and my dress is not askew

It shows me

the external me

 

~My looking-glass~

 

Is your face and your manner

giving me a truer reflection

Your eyes glow with love and

your smile shows your appreciation

I need nothing more to know

I’m good

Seeing Things – Friday Fictioneers

Good Thursday evening my peeps!  Just got back from a little four-day get-away in Woodstock so… needless to say, I’ve got it on my mind 😉  I know, I know, I had it on my mind before leaving as my previous story suggested!  And yes, there will an official “My Visit to Woodstock” in the very near future, once I’ve organised my pictures.

I could not very well diss this week’s FF as it is my picture that our lovely leader chose.  Thank you Rochelle.  Come play with us.  Just click on the blue frog below and add your 100-word story based on this picture…

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Seeing Things

She had spent a restless night, tossing and turning.  Woodstock songs played in a loop in her head, driving her nuts – to be expected, she had watched so many videos about the event.

Finally giving up, she got up and opened the curtain.  Gazing out at the weak morning sun peaking through the haze, she noticed what looked like the body of a naked female, shining on the house next door.

Whipping around, she was half-certain she would see one of the flower children standing there.

Laughing at herself she thought “And yet, I didn’t take the not-quite-good brown acid…”

A Break From the Noise

“Peace comes from within.  Do not seek it without.”
Gautama Buddha

Started this post yesterday but got a surprise visit from François and, before I knew it, we were shopping for flooring for the damned basement, so I put this aside 😉   Now, having brought up the problem with the boys’ effing toilet, I write between being official helper to my handyman and cooking supper and seeing him off 😉

***

Woke up yesterday morning to a very drab day.  Thought “ah man, really?   Then, as I was pfaffing away on Facebook, the sun decided to make its appearance.  We-hell now…  Just the kick in the pants I needed to get off my arse.  I was really feeling the need to go out and walk out my thoughts.   I have so many things swirling around my brain, it keeps me up at night and I involuntarily stress about getting it all done.  Meditation or purging of thought is needed!  My type of meditation does not require contorted legs, sore back, numb bum and some mantra repeated endlessly.  I’m way too ADHD for that shizzle.  No… gimme a walk ouside in the fresh air towards no definitive destination or towards a potential woods, park, whatever, I care not.   All I need is my dog, my camera (‘coz you just never know what you’ll see that you want to capture when you’re a wanna-be photographer and sometimes you want more than your phone camera), the proper clothes for the weather, and I will be one with the Universe.

Somehow, the things that are preoccupying me are replaced sometimes by a song that gets stuck in my head, sometimes words form into a Haiku – I’ll find myself randomly counting out my syllables.  And if a good one does appear, I record it on my phone because sure as shit it’ll be gone by the time I get home!  Sometimes I’ll get brilliant ideas for blog posts – most of which never see the light of day.

But sometimes, my mind goes blessedly blank.  I hear the tweets and birdsongs, the traffic, the silence.  I see the colours, the shapes, the birds and squirrels.  I let Zeke go off leash once we reach a park and I’ve made sure no one else is present.  Not that he would run off, but just in case they are scared of big beasts.  He’s a big beast!  Both of us alone together.

Once I hit the first park just off du Perche (never remember the name), I had to concentrate on the shimmy/slide/shuffle/sashay just to remain upright!  The walkway was icy.  No room for random thoughts when you are just trying to not end up landing hard on your hiney.  But the air was a nice mixture of crisp and clear and the sky so blue and the colours of the abandoned playground just popped, that it made the efford worthwhile.  I felt everything lift off my shoulders – at least for a while.

I decided that I was only going as far as my favourite willow tree because, frankly, the shimmy/slide/shuffle/sashay was a workout in itself.  No need to do the full 10K to feel like a workout!  Plus, the weather app said it was a balmy +4ºC (39ºF) with the windchill of 0ºC (32ºF) and I felt overdressed.  The amount you sweat also helps measure the workout.  Right?

How nice.  Once we crossed de Normandie Street and onto the little roadway, there was no ice/snow.  Till we reached the end of the road, of course!  A rest, so to speak!

The wind was perfect for me to brush Zeke.  He HATES being brushed.  No, LOATHES it.  So a whine here, a move over here, he finally, in an attempt to get me to stop, he lay down on his side, presenting me with his belly.   He he he.  Sucks to be you, Zeke!  I got to remove MOUNTAINS of fur.  The wind was great, I had fur flying all over the place:  down the trail, over the rocks, all over my pants, in my mouth.  Great.   After I had removed the equivalent of a small wiff-waff (you know, a kickable, like a Pomeranian or a Shihtzu…) I put away the comb.  I hurried to tie Zeke as a woman and her dog were coming towards us.  The woman asked if it was okay for our dogs to meet and I confirmed that I had a big suck of a dog.  Billie, her golden, was not impressed.  At the tender age of two, she bared her teeth.  Zeke, however, was not impressed nor afraid so he pursued her.  His charms did not work overly well but he kept on checking.  Small world that we live in, Billie’s owner had a voice that I recognised.  When we introduced ourselves, we realised that we did know each other.  Nancy’s son plays golf at the club where I work and while he plays, she whiles away her time in the restaurant/bar…

 

As you can see by the sky in the background, the sun was making itself scarce.  Nancy though I was smart to wear snowpants and a tuque and decided she’d had enough.  The wind had picked up and I had a decent trek home so we exchanged “See you at the golf clubs” and moved our separate ways.

Walking back, I became even more focused on the colours that popped out of the strangest places.  Strange is probably a strong word but I felt like my senses were on alert.  Or my eyeballs were!

The “vinaigrier” which literally translates to vinegar plant, but which I finallly decided to google and find out is really called a Virginia Sumac (though I can’t be certain and don’t really care) is basically an invasive bush that is boring in summer, outstanding in autumn and adds a pop of colour in winter.  I love photographing it 3/4 of the year.  On our way out of the park, I am always fascinated by this little cabin that looks like it belongs in some long-lost forest, is actually next to a boulevard!  I loved the little bush with so many colours, like it thought it was still autumn, and wanted to stand out and finally, there were so many reflections in puddles and one in particular actually made me stop.

Did I solve any of my issues that have been bugging me?  Not a one.  Did I, for a couple of hours completely release all my worries.  Oh yes.  Completely.

I like to think that my two hour meditation did manage to liberate some space in my brain so that I may actually feel I’lle be able to accomplish some of that which needs attending to.

Or maybe I just took some time for me (and Zeke) to just be.

A few of the 10,000 things that make me happy and grateful

26. Enjoying the colours of winter
27. Running into acquaintances
28. Brushing Zeke
29. Reflections in puddles
30. Taking time for me

What I Know For Sure – Friday Fictioneers

After a looooooong break, here I am, back at Friday Fictioneers.  I so missed you all and I missed coming up with 100-word stories for these past six months!  I could not seem to find balance.  The hours were long and weird so any time off was spent, well, off!  It would not be fair to write a story and not be able to read yours and respond to any comments appropriately.  I felt it best to come back when I could fully participate.  Now is the time.  The golf club I work at closes in 25 days, the hours we work are much reduced (thank GAWD!) and some semblance of normal is returning. For those of you who have not given up on me, I give thanks; for those who have, I totally understand!

So, without further ado, here is my rusty return! Thank you c.e.ayr for this photo.  It sure got me thinking!  For those of you who wish to join in with your 100-word story, please click on the blue frog to add your link.  To find out the hows and whats, just click here for Rochelle’s instructions.  She’s been hosting this here shindig for quite some time and is a fair leader!

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What I Know For Sure

Word count:  100

Genre:  Fiction (sorta)

 

ceayr

©c.e. ayr

 

She sat, quietly, on the empty terrace, looking out at the water before her.  “It’s good to just sit still now and again,” she thought.

Her mind turned to the future.  “I wish I had plans as clear as the reflections before me.  Not a ripple, not a blur,”, she thought.  “No wondering what was next, knowing exactly what needed to be done.”

Then again, how dull!  What excitement was there in that?  If everything was planned out to the last detail, there would be no room for spontaneity, for surprises.

“That, I know for sure, is just not me.

Serendipity

serendipity

[ser-uh n-dip-i-tee] /ˌsɛr ənˈdɪp ɪ ti/
 
noun
  1. an aptitude for making desirable discoveries by accident.
  2. good fortune; luck:

    the serendipity of getting the first job she applied for.

I used to think serendipity was just about luck.  It’s more than that, isn’t it?  Yes, there is definitely an element of luck but it also is luck that you’ve made possible.

Why am I going on about this pretty word; and it is pretty, don’t you think?  After two days of full-on cooking ~ I’m talking starting at 6:30 in the morning, finishing around 12:30 am (with breaks for delivery and dish-washing and feeding the boys. Oh wait, that entails cooking too!) on both days ~ I was tired and ached all over.
I had two options: take a nap or walk Zeke in the beautiful, warm sunshine.  OK, there was that third option of going to the gym that I signed up for last Tuesday and have not been to since.  But seriously, not in contention for today’s options!
The sun was too bright to ignore, not to mention Zeke’s imploring eyes.  The nap could wait.  Off we went into the sun’s warming rays.  Oh yes, my friends, after months of freezing our tushies off, I was outside.  In a spring-type jacket.  No gloves.  No tuque.  No scarf…   (Yes, Mom, I know.  Too early to take it all off!!)  I was, however, wearing some hiking boots that are waterproof as my winter boots are still wet from yesterday (and frankly, way too hot), my rubber boots (Wellies to you Brits) are in the trailer up north and my running shoes are not waterproof.  There were puddles to jump over and slushy snow to walk through.  Protection was necessary.

Now, which direction?  How far was I willing to walk on my aching feet?

Reflections on melting ice

Reflections on melting ice

I decided to see if I would be lucky enough to run into Lorna and Virginio, a lovely couple I met on a walk a few weeks ago.  Would serendipity come into play?  Yes, there is an element of luck involved, but there is more of a chance of running into them if I actually walk on their street, n’est-ce pas?

Zeke was confused because the direction we took was a totally different one.  Normally we walk on this street on our way back from going to “my” river.  There is no way I was walking that far.  As in may areas of Boucherville, there are many little and large parks with skating circles with or without separate hockey rinks.  The reflections in the melting ice caught my eye so I made my way to a bench and left  Zeke to his own devices.  Many trees to sniff, you know.

My little picture-taking session over, we hit he street.  Hmm, the car is there but the curtains are drawn.  Though the first time we met, an invitation was issued to drop by for a cappuccino by La Barista (V said L was the best!), now was not the time.  I mean, c’mon, I met them all but once!  So, we take a few more steps and lo and behold, I hear:  “Hey there Zeke!”

Serendipity.

Isn’t it wonderful how you can meet people and feel an instant rapport and be able to talk about movies, books, food, without feeling the slightest awkwardness?  V then totally made my day by telling me that he found I had a good aura about me.  What a fabulous thing to be told.  I have not been feeling at my most shiniest and brightest lately and these words were manna from heaven.  Grazie Virginio.  Lorna, I can see why you’ve kept him around for these 43 years!

We must have chatted in their driveway for a good half hour before I turned back for home with a list of movies to look out for (Midnight’s Children is serendipitously playing tomorrow morning!), a hankering to make risotto and the knowledge that I would be welcome for a cup of coffee and a chitchat ~ as long as I brought Zeke!  I will be kind to them and wait for much dryer weather because them-there paws were pretty gross!

Winter’s Delights

Patterns

Waves of reflections

 

Here on the South Shore of Montreal we seem to be exempt from the snowfall planned for the North-Eastern States.  However, the cold is definitely here!  I decided to make like a kid and dress up in my full snowsuit and get some air.  Brrr!  -22ºC (-8ºF) with a windchill of -27ºC (-17ºF).  Let’s just say Zeke was NOT getting the two-hour walk!

We decided on going behind the Industrial area as that is not too far and there are still fields for Zeke to run around in.  But then again, there are fields where the wind gets a chance to blow too!  To get to the fields, there are two tiny wooded areas on either side of the street leading to one of the businesses.

IMG_8649

Into the woods

 

While walking through, my phone rang and it was my friend Karen.  Surprisingly, I was able to actually hold the phone barehanded, while sitting just past the woods and into the field ~ in the sun, where there was no wind, facing a third section of woods.

IMG_8810

Shades of Blues and yellows

 

Zeke was a very patient boy as I sat there slowly feeling my toes freeze ~ not moving in this weather is a definite no-no!  Time to hang up and go!

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Patience

 

We ran around a bit, I snapped a few more pics and off to home and warmth!