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  • Notes from a Clamshell Path | No. 15

    We have a wreath on our door and a small undecorated tree sitting in the middle of our living room. It's not that I'm not feeling it. The thought of putting it all away again in a few weeks makes me feel so very weary. Plus, I'm determined to keep it chill this month. How about you? 

    Thinking About:

    • What I would grab in an emergency. This article, detailing what people who had to flee the fires in California took with them, got me thinking. I will admit that I have a "go bag" of practical items stored by the front door -- actually two (one for Stephen's gear). Other items I would gather: every disco ball I could carry, a small blue vase I've had since I was a child, my plants, Glitter Fox, my swimsuits, my sequined clothes collection, and a Hubley dog bookend that was my Nana's. Have you thought about what you would save? Maybe we should make a list.

    • The burden of being an empath. What a relief to finally find something that describes how I experience the world. I always thought there was something deficient in me when I found myself devastatingly overwhelmed by other people's tragedies, the never-ending interpersonal conflicts, their life-threatening health challenges -- especially when it was my JOB to carry these things. Since I left HR, moved out to a tiny town, and have limited most of my daily interaction to my husband and my dog, I have felt a gazillion times better.

    Thankful For:

    • Female medical professionals. I recently had minor surgery. When I walked myself into the operating room, I looked around and realized I had an all-female team. It was very empowering to be surrounded by their energy as I crawled onto the table. Next thing I knew it was snack time (which I was apparently VERY enthusiastic about.) I felt so supported by that team and feel lucky I had that group of women caring for me that day.

    Watching:

    • An Honorable Woman. If you have not seen this yet, clear your schedule. It's a riveting political thriller that captures you from the very first horrifying scene. I don't want to spoil any of it for you so I'll keep this vague. But, be prepared, it's painful.

    • This short film about how Heather Day creates her artwork. She schleps her art tools out into remote areas of nature. The results -- as well as the process itself -- are stunning!

    • Hallmark Channel Christmas movies. Friends, I have a confession to make: I am Christmas-movied OUT. They made too many movies. TOO MANY! (However, for the adventurous and/or foolhardy here's a companion drinking game. We're planning to turn it into a bingo game for the family when everyone is here over the holidays.)

    Creating:

    • My niece's advent grab bag. If you've been following along for awhile, you know that I put together a (not so little) advent grab bag for my niece every year. She gets to pick one of 24 wrapped gifts to open each day of December, leading up to Christmas. It's become one of my favorite things to do each year! 

    • My 2018 calendar on Artifact Uprising. I gave up on my regular search for the perfect calendar a few years ago and now make my own using my Instagram photos. It's easy, quick, and the calendars turn out great! Tip: be sure to use the editing tools provided to lighten your photos. I forgot to do that last year and the photos ended up a little dark!

    Reading:

    • Cassandra daily newsletter. I find it fascinating to see what the youngsters are up to these days. For instance, millennials want to live where they work. As a former live-in nanny, I can tell you that there are a million reasons why that is a bad idea. (Like if you want to leave your job, you have to leave your home, too.) Anyway, Google and Facebook are building DORMS for their employees. Subscribe, so you can learn about these things, too.

    • R. Eric Thomas' newsletter. He is saving my life right now. He makes me laugh, as the kids say, out loud. If you like snappy, slightly bitchy commentary on the week's events, you'll love him, too!

    • The Secret Lives of Color. Ever since I was a kid collecting paint chips at the store, I have LOVED color. These short histories of colors -- like cerulean and celadon and heliotrope --- are really interesting.

    • Embers: One Ojibway's Meditations by Richard Wagamese. I've been on a bit of a Native American/First Nation wisdom search lately. Not sure if it's because I've been learning more about the Wampanoags around the Cape or the fact that I just finished the last season of Longmire (I still don't understand why I LOVE that show.)

    • Nina McLaughlin's time-limited weekly Novembrance column in The Paris Review. November has always felt a little sad to me. The days are short, the sun barely rises in the sky, and everything turns BROWN. But there is this: "The eleventh month, getting darker, getting colder, echoes our own eventual winding down and gives chance to live in the richest, deepest way."

    Listening:

    • "Neuroscience Says Listening to This Song Reduces Anxiety by Up to 65%." AND there is a ten song Spotify playlist linked in there that includes the ten most relaxing songs on the planet. 

    • Anjunadeep 09. My favorite compilation is back for a 9th go-round. (I still think Anjunadeep 02 is the best one.)

    • The Polybius Conspiracy podcast. Boy was I PISSED when I found out this was mostly fake! I will admit that towards the end I Googled it because I was starting to get suspicious. The dialogue seemed a bit off. If I had known it was not a documentary from the beginning, I would have skipped it.

    • Colorsplash Mixes. You've probably figured out by now that I like electronic music. It's probably an 80s-kid thing. Each one of these playlists has a color-themed title. If you like house music, you'll love these! Beach Glass is a good one to start with.

    Eating + Drinking:

    • Collagen. I will admit that I overheard a conversation at my salon that made me want to try this. They were raving about how thick the client's hair had gotten. And all because she adds a couple teaspoons of powdered collagen to her coffee every morning. I'm doing the same.

    • Mandarin oranges. Is there a more perfect snack for this time of year? I like the ones from Trader Joes -- super tiny and very sweet!

    • The annual holiday menu tryouts. Every year around this time, the Mr. tries out new recipes for Christmas. So far the stars have been: Cranberry-Hazelnut Green Bean Salad and an amazing hominy casserole.

    Learning:

    • New words.
      -chthonic. adjective. concerning, belonging to, or inhabiting the underworld
      -effulgence. noun. radiant splendor; brilliance
      -prolix. adjective. (of speech or writing) using or containing too many words; tediously lengthy

    • Medicine Cards: The Discovery of Power Through the Ways of Animals. I told you I was on a Native American wisdom kick. I learned how to discover my animal guides. There are nine of them, but two walk through life with you. The thought of my right and left guides -- a hawk and an opossum, respectively -- walking into the operating room with me amuses me to no end. 

    Hygge-ing:

    Loving

    • Cocofloss. Remember when I said how much I hate flossing? Well now I'm obsessed with it and floss constantly. This floss is better than any of the other kinds I've tried. I especially love the strawberry version, but the cara cara orange is fun, too. 

    • Ren products. I recently treated myself to a very personalized facial at Supple Apothecary in Orleans. My skin has been problematic since I started some new medication in late spring -- lots of weird bumps and these tiny little tears on the surface. The facial was perfection, Alison was so sensitive to my situation, and I left with products from the Evercalm and Vita Mineral lines that have vastly improved my problems. Locals, get yourself there!

    • White Noise app. The night before my surgery we stayed in Hyannis. I brought ALL my pillows with me and recreated my home oasis in the hotel room, did my final round of Preparing for Surgery meditation, and then set my White Noise app to "ocean waves" to play all night. While I didn't have the best night sleep of my life, it was WAY better than I usually sleep right before something super scary. 

    Eliminating:

    • Moisture from my car. I've only used DampRid when we travel to warm places where I hang it in the closet with my clothes (after a week that thing is FULL of water.) My car was feeling a bit humid so I hung one in the back seat. It filled slowly with water and it definitely made an improvement.

    • TouchRetouch app. You know when you find the perfect set up for a photo but there is car parked next to it or a person standing in the way? This app REMOVES those things! 

    Expanding:

    • Inner Snow Days. The world is so turbulently upsetting right now. I've been craving silence. And super cuddly soft warm clothes. I'm cranking the heat and nurturing fires in the fireplace. I've started using my selenite wand to cleanse my TV (because that is where all the ugly lives). And incensing my space. I'm cleaning out cabinets and dusting up a storm, discarding anything that is blocking my chi. And treating every day like I'm a kid who just found out she's having a snow day!

    Planning + Organizing:

    • More surgery. In this era of health care terrorism, I wasn't sure if I would share any of this here. It feels unsafe. But not sharing would feel slightly dishonest and I come here to express my truth. So I've decided to share the fact of it but not the details at this point. It's not minor. And it's actually more than one. Most of 2018 will be about healing for me. In the meantime, I'm preparing myself (emotionally, mentally, and physically) and my space (putting up all my disco balls where they'll catch the light, cleaning, testing out the new remote control recliner that will be my bed for awhile, sorting through my clothes to find those with zippers and buttons down the front and trying on my silver glittered turban for when my hair is super gross because I won't be able to shower FOR WEEKS.) 

    • Mercury went retrograde AGAIN (December 3-22). Here's "How to Handle a Holiday Retrograde." 

    Fur Mama-ing:

    • Auto-shipping from Chewy.com. Even though we try so very hard to buy local, Stephen's food and snacks are just too expensive. I have an auto-shipment scheduled to come every 6-8 weeks with his Blue Buffalo food and his favorite treats. 

    • Defending against coywolves. The other night I pulled into our driveway after dark and walked down to get the mail. A shadowy figure ran past me down our street. "Coyotes" out here have mostly wolf DNA. They are big and they are aggressive. I took Stephen out later that night and the thing came running right at us. Luckily, I had this super compact flashlight with me that has a strobe feature and it turned and ran the other way. 

    Resisting:

    • I returned my Al Franken audiobook. I'm super mad at him. Because he's a yucky jerk and we needed him. (I exchanged it for Star Wars: From a Certain Point of View because a Galaxy Far, Far Away has been my place of refuge all year. Unless of course Luke turns out to be evil in this next film, then I am DONE. I've had enough Men-Who-Suck.)

    • Critical Reading.
      "Four Quitters Walk Into a Bar ..." "I mean, speaking for myself, I loved my job. I was more than content to be a bureaucrat for the rest of my life. And, frankly, I hope to go back into public service when the coast is clear." (Aren't we all just waiting for the coast to be clear??)

      Rufus Gifford is running for Congress! I really hope he gets elected. And not just because his husband was a vet in Provincetown in the summers and fixed my boo boo's paw when he cut it on an oyster shell. 

      "We'll Be Paying for Mark Halperin's Sins for Years to Come." "Halperin is the single journalist most responsible for Donald Trump." Ugh.

    Extra Credit:

    I'm planning to post more frequently in the weeks leading up to my surgery, because after that, I may need to take a break. Or I may be so bored, you'll see me here every day. Thanks for reading and good luck with your holiday preparations!