Saturday, January 24, 2015

Things That Are Worth Knowing: a collective list

This week, inspired by a phrase in the January 19, 2015 issue of The New Yorker magazine, members of the writing circles compiled this collective list of things we believe are worth knowing

laugh at yourself

know how to: sing, bake, cook, dance, hammer a nail, tie a scarf, forgive, love, be spontaneous, be lost

learn the names of flowers and learn to recognize birds by sight and sound

imagine your own reality

develop compassion by seeing yourself in someone else's situation

accept fear and understand it

hydrangeas do not like fertilizer

put your car in park before you get out of it

decide how your last days should be spent — fighting to survive or enjoying what is — and it's that last thing that takes some pondering

if you can't find what you're looking for after visiting two stores, give up

use less laundry detergent

you don't have to finish every book you start

don't rush

don't take yourself too seriously

animals are people too

if you want to fly above it all, lighten up

your body is your castle

colors can change your mood

music is a universal language of the soul

scent transports you

buck up, suit up, show up

if you wear black-on-black all the time you never have to worry about trying to match your clothes

petting an animal for as long as they will allow is a source of great comfort

when you wake up in the morning, smile

always say Please and Thank You

don't hesitate to ask questions

when in doubt, throw it out

if you want to remember something write it down

old friends are sometimes not the best friends, since we  change as we get older, and sometimes not for the better

listening to the sound of the ocean surf as it hits the shore is a wonderful way to drift off to sleep

many cliches are true

comfortable shoes are worth their cost

it's fun to paint your toenails

colors have feelings too

take a minute to set your intention for the day

take vitamin D in winter

love what it is you are doing

try to say something nice to people

see the world like a child sees it — filled with things that are new and miraculous

if you can't — don't

say "I'm sorry" when you mean it

stay with one thing at a time

share with others

find joy, even on a dreary winter's day

know how to: jump-start a car, reset your modem, change the flat tire on your bike, make a photo book

remember — there's always another day

sun, sand, and salt water will revive your spirit

tears are healthy

coffee is one of the major food groups

stand up for yourself

50 is the new 30

divorce is not death

know when to finish eating

medical marijuana use is rising with octogenarians

the most wonderful octopus salads can be found in Italy, Costa Rica, and Antigua

keep a journal so you can read it years later and remember things

know how to: refill a pen's ink cartridge, thread a sewing machine, prune lilacs, navigate by the stars, talk to a cat

recognize when "knowing" really wants to become "no-ing"

make sure there is always plenty of gas in the car at all times

it is always possible that an estranged sibling will eventually become likable again

know how to: dance the Cajun Two-Step, make cheese, forgive yourself, parallel park

learn the secret codes embedded in the lyrics of "Negro Spirituals" (slaves' freedom songs)

recognize and nurture your own inner flame

practice using your half smile, which is like an inner secret

remember that spring is on its way even though January is not yet over

discover the location of fragrant gardens near your home

know when to ask for help and from whom

be prepared to freak out sometimes as you birthday approaches but then learn to be okay with your new age and feel grateful to have achieved it

don't get too attached to your thoughts

be patient — everyone has a story to share

remember: long underwear in the winter in the northeast

trust your own thinking

know how to: arrange your arms and legs for sound sleep, calculate using your brain, empty a rain barrel, co-exist with skunks, listen to the message of fog horns

never try to change another person's point of view because you can't

pray for peace, give thanks, welcome change

too much is never enough

know how to: put in a zipper, console your mother, listen to flowers, read the tide, drive a vehicle with a stick shift, find north, south, east, west without a compass

first comes the panic, but the panic of panicking is what paralyses

time is over-rated

first impressions are important but not always accurate

if the hairs on the back of your neck are raised: stop, look, and listen

strength goes far beyond muscle, sinew, and bone

there are perforated spots on the short, square-shaped ends of a tin foil box; if you push them in, the cardboard makes a spindle to secure the tube of foil and keep it from falling out of the box

if you balance a wooden spoon across a pot filled with cooking spaghetti, and it starts to boil up, the wood reacts with the bubbles and helps keep the from boiling over

love does not conquer all

grandma's apple pie really is the best

a double rainbow is a gift

chicken soup cures everything

the ocean has no memory

a splinter is worth the barefoot walk on the boardwalk

Wegmans coffee bar has a happy hour at 2 p.m. and all coffee drinks are half price

there has been a bobcat photographed just behind my son's school, around lots of houses — such magic, so long unseen right around us

appliances always break just before a holiday

don't leave the coffee pot handle close to the oven's vent

become more methodical as you age

learn how to make a white sauce because you can always gussie up a bland chicken dish or mediocre veg with a little white sauce and some cheese thrown in

when something is scary or off-putting or annoying, step forward instead of backward, arms open wide

sometimes it is all about you after all

it is okay to have one squirrel at the bird feeder

it is hard not to think about anything

know how to: help a cow have a calf, love your friends without hating everyone else, make pumpkin muffins and butternut squash soup

know how to consult an ephemeris, the I Ching, the tarot

know how to run a farm — up in the morning with the  day before you and you'll vaccinate calves if it rains and you'll bale hay if it does not

you can start learning a Cambodian instrument even late in life

being nobody is harder than you might think

embrace uncertainty

you're never too busy to pause and take 3 slow deep breaths

write with colored ink

from time to time shake it up a little: write with your non-dominant hand, eat something you've never tasted before, get on a bus without knowing where it's headed, skip instead of walk, strike up a conversation with a stranger, etc.

be prepared to move on (physically, emotionally, psychologically, spiritually) when the time is right

trust your instincts

honor your ancestors

take a break from whatever you are doing and read a poem

get up nice and close to your reflection in the mirror and say something encouraging like "hello darling" or "I love you" (you might even want to kiss yourself, leaving a lip-print on the mirror that will last for days)

Thank you to these contributors:

Barbara Cartwright
Barbara Kane Lewis
Carol Mae Whitlow
Gabrielle Vehar
Grace Celeste
Gretchen Hermann
Jackie Mei
Linda Keeler
Linda Lavine
Margaret Dennis
Martha Blue Waters
Nancy Gabriel
Nancy Osborn
Priscilla Walker
Rainbow Crow
Rob Sullivan
Stacey Murphy
Stacey Payette
Sue Norvell
Sue Perlgut
Susan Lesser
Tina Wright
Xin Li
Zee Zahava