20 March 2015

What's your happy?

I know happiness and the quest for being constantly happy has been "hot" lately -- I've read Gretchen Rubin's books and have been enjoying occasional reads of the Live Happy magazine. Happy is good -- who doesn't want to be happy, right?

And I should really be pretty happy. I have awesome friends. My sweet mom is close by. My husband works so hard to help us all get through the day smoothly. They're all pretty thoughtful and loving. My children are wonderful and amazing and they EXIST, something I thought might never happen. That's a pretty good deal and when I think about it that starkly, it does trump quite a bit of the daily grind that wears out happiness.

And yet. I don't always feel happy. Do you? Working, struggling to get the kids to do what needs to be done so we're on schedule, almost never getting a break or exercise or a full night's sleep, constantly running late and feeling my house is a disaster, feeling anxious about finances and the future... Those things don't exactly contribute to feeling happy.

My experience is, of course, not unique. I'm sure you heard about the recent book All Joy and No Fun: The Paradox of Modern Parenthood. You can get some of the research and the gist of the book through these two NPR interviews (Fresh Air and All Things Considered) or you can read an interesting (long form!) article about the conundrum at NYMag.com.

One quote that got me thinking:
The answer to that [where do we find the elusive good moments] may hinge on how we define “good.” Or more to the point, “happy.” Is happiness something you experience? Or is it something you think?
Hm. Good question. What is happy and how do we know when we are? Do we know when we are? Many times we only realize happiness in retrospect. I think Buddhists might say that's a problem of not being truly present in the moment and of having expectations that each moment can't meet. Of course, when we're awake with crying babies at 3 am, it's hard NOT to want the expectation--of being asleep--met.

Here's another quote that I think starts to show my evolving beliefs about happiness:
And perhaps this is because the study sought to understand not just the moment-to-moment moods of its participants, but more existential matters, like how connected they felt, and how motivated, and how much despair they were in (as opposed to how much stress they were under)...
So this is where the joy over time but not always happy in the moment comes in. It's interesting. Up above when I started to list the things in my life that should be making me happy -- I started to smile and I was filled with a sense of happiness and joy. And yet I know that I cried over dinner last night.

Unfortunately, I don't have any more of an answer than anyone else. And that's one more source of frustration, because I want my children to be happy and I want to help them learn to be happy. Since I can't teach that, what I will try to focus on and teach are the following, which I hope will lead to feelings of happiness for all of us:

Be compassionate. Be resilient. Be present. Be grateful. Be kind.

Today is the International Day of Happiness. This year, they're suggesting that happiness comes from connecting to others. I can buy that -- I got a night out with my girlfriends this week and didn't want to leave I was loving seeing them and connecting with them so much. And so many of my joyful moments are when I can connect -- those moments when we aren't rushing or stressing or struggling -- with my children or husband.

So, today, I hope that you get to make a connection -- to me, to your friends, to your family, to your pets, to your colleagues, to someone who smiles at you (or at whom you smile) walking down the street, to someone you can help, to someone who can help you... Connect with someone, take a moment to be in the moment, be as grateful as you can for the things you have, feel compassion for the people around you (and yourself)... Take a moment to be kind to someone and see how you feel.

24 February 2015


I was looking for a picture of my dad recently that I knew I'd posted a long time ago, and so, for the first time in a long time, went to Notesgirl.com.

Boy, do I miss that site and all it stood for in my life.

I started Notesgirl.com sometime during the life of the first two books (fairly early on) -- it was a way of helping the book, of establishing myself in the Lotus community. I started the blog with the help and encouragement of my friends Ed and Chris, and boy did I have fun with it.

And, of course, I had fun with the folks who read, commented upon, and interacted with the blog, and with me.

It was where I really learned about engagement over the web --- and how powerful it could be to be friends with people all over the world, even if you hardly saw them in person.

I learned the importance of keeping conversations going, of publishing regularly -- and the benefits to your thinking and writing skills of doing so.

I learned the difficulty of deciding what to put online, sometimes. And how thinking through the implications of what you write and share helps you tell your story, to yourself and the world.

I didn't just write Notesgirl - I was Notesgirl. And while I've done some great things since then -- things I've enjoyed and am proud of -- there's still a bit of nostalgia for the Notesgirl days: for my friends, for my work, for the travel, for the technology and my skills with it...

Yep. I miss the Notesgirl days -- looking back with rose-colored glasses at that Lotus-yellow-tinged life.

25 May 2010


Synchronicity is about the coincidental confluence of events. I've recently (just in the past day or two) started keeping a gratitude journal. I've never been all that great about journaling, no matter how many pretty books I've bought and how many resolutions I've made. However, gratitude is starting to become a practice - when I'm finishing yoga, when I'm having accupuncture, when I'm waiting in the doctor's office - I try to think of a few things for which I'm grateful. I hope, then, that simply writing some of these thoughts down should be a fairly easy transition.

In any case, one of the artists I really like - Hugh McLeod (aka Gapingvoid) sends out a daily cartoon. Today's cartoon is entitled "Thank You" and comes with the explanation that if the only prayer you can make is "Thank You," then that's plenty.

So, I'm saying thank you today - to synchronicity, to my friends, to my family, to having a job with great, smart people, to a wonderful husband, to the smoothies he makes me every day, to yoga, to doctors, to books, to my lovely pink curtains, and to my mom for having them hemmed for me.

What are you thankful for today?

19 May 2010

Book Review: Get Lucky by Katherine Center

I sat down tonight to write the long-overdue (glowing, by the way) review of Katherine Center's Get Lucky. I pulled the book off the shelf and noticed the copy of Everyone is Beautiful that I had purchased immediately after finishing Get Lucky (but then I got distracted re-reading The Count of Monte Cristo; what can I say?). So, I pulled that one off the shelf, too, thinking it would be my reward after finishing my review.

Why don't I know better by now?

Apparently there is something about Katherine Center's books that grab me at a visceral level and refuse to let me go until I have slurped up every last touching word (and cried a little while doing so). So it's now about 3 hours later and I've finished Everyone is Beautiful and will now write my review of Get Lucky as my offering of gratitude for being inspired, shamed, comforted, terrified, and reassured.

The novel Get Lucky, is, as Center has said, about many things - sisters, babies, losing and finding yourself, parents, loss, giving, grief, best friends, love, and, of course, breasts. At the start of the novel, the protagonist, Sarah, is a high-powered ad exec in NYC, running a bra campaign. And she goes a little nuts when her sister, Mackie, forwards a link that contains hundreds of pictures of breasts. This crazy manifests in Sarah sending the link to everyone at work, and, unsurprisingly, getting fired for it. She rationalizes it a little, the way you do, and packs up for a Thanksgiving visit home to Houston.

En route, she runs into a high school boyfriend whose heart she'd crushed. She hopes for the kind of reunion we all hope for, years later. Unfortunately, Everett gives her an unexpected jab. We'll meet Everett again - he's also taken a job working with Sarah's brother-in-law.

Upon arrival in Houston, Sarah is greeted with the news that Mackie and her husband, after many trials and tribulations of infertility, have decided to stop trying. Out of her own despair and love and maybe a little desperation to have a reason (after losing the job that filled that role in her life), Sarah decides to be the surrogate for her sister. She thinks it will be a quick, easy gift, after which she will go dashing back to her real life. I've never had kids, but I've watched almost all my friends go through pregnancies and childbirth and even I knew this wasn't going to happen... but I could sympathize with the desire to cling to the comforting belief that it would.

So, Sarah gets pregnant and Mackie is somewhere between a healthy-pregnancy dictator and the saddest person in the world - who has to be both grateful and supportive while her sister goes though the joys and pains of the pregnancy Mackie wishes were her own - such as when her new stepmother (you just have to read it to meet Dixie) throws a baby shower, but none of the guests really pay any attention to Mackie - Sarah is, after all, the one with the belly.

During all this, Sarah discovers a liking for Everett, and the desperate need not to be just a pampered pregnancy. She gets a job trying to save a doomed historic library, which saves her just as certainly.

I'm leaving out so much that is important - Sarah's crazy hormonal...something...for Mackie's husband, the back and forth with Everett and the pool-house renter Barni, J.J. (the boss who'd fired her in New York) and the star (pitiful Veronica/April) of the bra campaign, plus Mackie and Sarah's dad, who'd pretty much just stopped when their mom died and his return to life with the unlikely love of pure-Texas Dixie. It seems like too much to fit into a quick-reading 270ish pages. And yet Center weaves it all together into a completely vivid tapestry that has all the mess and color of real life.

Sarah isn't completely likeable. In fact, none of the characters are. On the other hand, nobody's completely what you expect either. So, we like them anyway. And that means that when Sarah, inevitably, grows a little sadder, and a little happier, and a little more thoughtful, and a little more compassionate through the book, we're all doing the same with her.

Despite sobbing most of the time I was reading the book - so many of my own personal pain was reflected at me by this book - I enjoyed its gentle realism and the hope that it leaves for real people to find happiness in themselves.

Title: Get Lucky
Author: Katherine Center
Obtained from: purchased

02 May 2010

Notesgirl in Exile

If you know my other site, Notesgirl.com, you can probably tell it hasn't been updated in a while. I've had some technical difficulties now that I'm no longer active in the Notes world - starting with no legal Notes client and an expired Notes ID file. Ah well.

After spending most of a year unemployed after getting laid off in January 2009, I also didn't have much I wanted to say publicly. Let's see... In a nutshell, and not necessarily in this order: I got married, I struggled mightily with depression, one of my closest friends lived with us for a while and then moved across the country, I applied for more jobs than you can shake a BIG stick at, I moved my mom to Houston, I thought I had a job that got whisked away thanks to more budget cuts, I took a temporary soul-sucking job, I did some contract work, and finally (almost exactly a year later) I took a more permanent job. It's been an eventful while. Not that I can point at any year in my life and say, "Nothing really happened that year - it was completely uneventful."

In any case, I've been thinking a lot about writing lately and hoping that I'm starting to get enough beyond my sadness and frustration that I can start writing again. We'll see how it goes. I'm still struggling with money and infertility issues, I miss the Notes world in which I worked for so long, and I'm getting used to a new job, so it's not all wine and roses in my life, but I'm pretty grateful for what I do have. One of the things for which I'm most grateful is my husband Philip, who is the most gentle, compassionate person I know and has had an amazing amount of patience in helping me deal with my year. Thanks, dear.

We had a mini Mythbusters marathon at my house today - one of my favorite shows. I didn't even know how much I liked it until our nephew re-introduced me to it and I spent some recovery time after a recent surgery engrossed in episode after episode. Now I'm a complete addict. Philip made strawberry-covered waffles and we ensconced ourselves on the sofa for a while. Lazy days can be very soul-restoring.

Also this weekend was a book club meeting at which local author Katherine Center came to talk about her book Get Lucky. Let me just say - what a lovely person. She was incredibly generous with her time and we loved meeting her. Second, what a fun book. I'm going to write a separate review so that it can be linked to more easily, but when I first read the book, I cried and cried - which is a testament to how realistic her characters came across and what a poignant story she wrote. Of course, there were plenty of giggles and smiles, too. I enjoyed it thoroughly. Look for a review soon. See what a good time we had?

Thanks for stopping by and look for more, I hope, soon.

18 April 2006

Olives, Postmodernism, and Literature Lost - Uncle Orson Reviews Everything

I hate it when someone else gets to say something i've been thinking about but not quite saying -- read Orson Scott Card's review of college (and high school and grad school) English departments, and the postmodern theories they espouse...
Olives, Postmodernism, and Literature Lost - Uncle Orson Reviews Everything

03 February 2006

Scenes from the Culture Clash

Scenes from the Culture Clash

I'll have more to say about this one in a bit, especially as it relates to this one but for now... some of you millenials are making me feel old and I'm not even that old!

19 January 2006

southmorehouse - Phillip Bergman in the Gallery

southmorehouse - Phillip Bergman in the Gallery

They can't seem to spell his first name right, but this is what my boyfriend does -- he's an artist, and this was a show he had at a gallery here in Houston.

Of course, at the moment, my dining room looks much like these pictures, as he works on more paintings, but then again, my office is stacked to the rafters with books while I'm working on grad school. ;-)

Blogthings - What Should You Major In?

Blogthings - What Should You Major In?

Just a giggle:
Your Scholastic Strength Is Developing Ideas

You can take a spark of inspiration and turn it into a full fledged concept.
You are talented at brainstorming, visualizing, organizing, and independent thinking.

You should major in:

Natural sciences
Computer science
Creative writing

Maud Newton: Blog

Maud Newton: Blog
In this entry, Maud and her readers talk about their first literary crushes - thanks to a related Slate article -- maybe books they fell in love with or that changed the way they looked at books.

Do you have one?

I started with my literary crushes early and can still, quite clearly, remember the action and feel of reading Charlotte's Web, The Trumpet of the Swan, Stuart Little (all by E. B. White), and The Five Little Peppers and How They Grew (by Margaret Sydney) in oh, about maybe 2nd grade. And then, in about 4th grade, I graduated to the big time: Tolkien's Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, which I've read every summer since then.

I loved how the books transported me to a different place, let me see how other people lived and thought, and then quite clearly showed me how little difference there is between those people and me, when you got right down to it.

Those were probably my first crushes, but by no means my last.

Women's Place, Revisited - New York Times

Women's Place, Revisited - New York Times
Will the US be next?

YogaYak- Yoga Classes Online Hatha Meditation Pranayama

YogaYak- Yoga Classes Online Hatha Meditation Pranayama

Yoga online -- too cool

Fort Art Month: Girl Writing a Letter by William Carpenter

Fort Art Month: Girl Writing a Letter by William Carpenter

Like art? Like a giggle? Via profgrrrl, this is it. :-)

The Mechanical Contrivium: Trivia about Notesgirl

The Mechanical Contrivium: Trivia about Notesgirl

Via profgrrrrl, this made me giggle:

Ten Top Trivia Tips about Notesgirl!

  1. There are now more than 4000 satellites orbiting notesgirl.
  2. Notesgirl can sleep with one eye open.
  3. The National Heart Foundation recommends eating notesgirl at least three times a week.
  4. Notesgirl can give birth ten days after being born, and is born pregnant.
  5. Only one person in two billion will live to be notesgirl.
  6. Notesgirl can be very poisonous if injected intravenously!
  7. In a pinch, the skin from a shark can be used as notesgirl.
  8. Duelling is legal in Paraguay as long as both parties are notesgirl.
  9. About 100 people choke to death on notesgirl each year.
  10. Koalas sleep for 22 hours a day, two hours more than notesgirl.
I am interested in - do tell me about

18 January 2006



How true is this? And additionally, I'd say that there are many of us who are trying to keep up our "write something every day" lesson for whom blogging makes that a bit easier in some ways -- it's always easier to write something when you have an audience (or at least a potential audience) waiting.

04 January 2006

Chron.com | Honors College tackles the daunting classics

Chron.com | Honors College tackles the daunting classics

Human Sit was one of my favorite classes and the fact that my grad school program at Rice began with a similar type of course was inspiring. When I think of what education should include, a Human Sit style course that includes a wide-range of "great works" (literature) integrated with science, mathematics, history, philosophy, religion, and other topics, feels like a great beginning.


May be a way to enhance our book club -- with contests, reading guides, suggestions, etc.

03 January 2006

vowe dot net :: url(x)

vowe dot net :: url(x)

Seriously neat -- useful tool and clearly good response from the builder -- thanks for pointing it out, Volker.

02 January 2006

Flying Fish Sailors

Flying Fish Sailors

Link to the Fish -- good, funny music.

Christmas Pic

LIbby and Philip and Philip's nephew Rhys
on Christmas day at the Bergman's house. Posted by Picasa

Bergman Family Christmas

Skip, Mary Ann, Paul, Margo and Rhys,
David, and Philip in their family Christmas
card picture. Posted by Picasa

Matching Santa Hats

Hannah and I were wearing matching Santa hats when she and her mommy and daddy came over for Christmas brunch. Cute! Posted by Picasa

More Christmas Tree

Actual presents underneath this time. They didn't last long because the kitties were a bit confused by having stuff on the floor -- they couldn't quite tell the different types of boxes apart... Posted by Picasa

Flying Fish Sailors at Hickory Hollow

We went to see the Flying Fish Sailors at Hickory Hollow for their Dec 23rd concert. I've known the Fish since I used to work at Texas Ren. Fest - I used to know Greg and Jay (left to right, in front) pretty well, but that was almost a decade ago! Still, awesome concert -- some of my favorites are Mary Mac, Poke You in the Eye, Loch Ness Monster, and Irish Rover. They were on a Beatles-esque kick lately, though... Posted by Picasa

Christmas Tree 2005

Just finished decorating the Christmas tree... Posted by Picasa

Some Pictures from Christmas Season

This is Pandora and Nibbler on my bed... Posted by Picasa

ENFP Profile

ENFP Profile
Took a Myers-Briggs type quiz today, via It's All One Thing and came up with a very different result than the last few times I've taken a Myers-Briggs. Of course, it's been a while and this was a much shorter quiz, so I'm not sure that it necessarily means anything, but it was interesting.

What is even more interesting to me is that I used to read the descriptions for the "positive" parts -- that was what I wanted to identify with to see if it had me pegged. Not sure if I've grown or gotten more cynical about myself (or both) but now I look much more at the negative bits, although I don't discount the more positive elements. This one mostly has me pegged, although I think I overcome (or at least am working on) some of the negative aspects of this personality type.

29 December 2005

Inside Higher Ed :: Easy Targets

Inside Higher Ed :: Easy Targets

Journalists vs. Academics, especially in the humanities -- I wonder if this is a place where I can bring some clarity as I get further into my humanities academic studies --

28 December 2005

OneLook Reverse Dictionary

Reverse dictionary -- you type in a concept; it gives you the words.

OKCupid! The Your SESAME STREET Persona Test

Amusing quizziness.
Kermit the Frog
You scored 58% Organization, 50% abstract, and 71% extroverted!
This test measured 3 variables.

First, this test measured how organized you are. Some muppets like Cookie Monster make big messes, while others like Bert are quite anal about things being clean.

Second, this test measured if you prefer a concrete or an abstract viewpoint. For the purposes of this test, concrete people are considered to gravitate more to mathematical and logical approaches, whereas abstract people are more the dreamers and artistic type.

Third, this test measured if you are more of an introvert or an extrovert.
By definition, an introvert concentrates more on herself and an
extrovert focuses more on others. In this test an introvert was
somebody that either tends to spend more time alone or thinks more
about herself.

You are mostly organized, both concrete and abstract, and more extroverted.

Here is why are you Kermit the Frog.

You are both somewhat organized. You have a good
idea where you put things and you probably keep your place reasonably
clean. You aren't totally obsessed with neatness though. Kermit is also
reasonably tidy. He'll even dress up for interviews.

You both are sometimes concrete and sometimes abstract thinkers. Kermit
spends a lot of his time as a reporter collecting facts, but he is also
the author of the dreamy song "The Rainbow Connection." You have a good
balance in your life. You know when to be logical at times, but you
also aren't afraid to explore your dreams and desires... within limits
of course.

You are both extroverts. Kermit gets along with everyone. Sure a few
folks annoy him, but that's just because they are annoying. Kermit
likes to meet new people when he does his job as a street reporter. You
definitely enjoy the company of others, and you don't have problems
meeting new people... in fact you probably look forward to it. You are
willing to take charge when necessary or work as part of a team.

Oh, and in case you were wondering, Kermit starred on Sesame Street years before The Muppet Show.

The other possible characters are

Oscar the Grouch

Big Bird




Cookie Monster


The Count

Guy Smiley


If you enjoyed this test, I would love the feedback! Also if you want
to tell me your favorite Sesame Street character, I can total them up
and post them here. Perhaps your choice will win!

My test tracked 3 variables How you compared to other people your age and gender:
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 53% on Organization
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 44% on concrete-abstra
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 78% on intro-extrovert
Link: The Your SESAME STREET Persona Test written by greencowsgomoo on Ok Cupid, home of the 32-Type Dating Test

22 December 2005

Entertainment Weekly's EW.com | Feature: Stephen King on his picks for the best books of 2005

Another top 10 of 2005 list --

Of course, I like Stephen King's writing in general and his EW essays almost made me keep paying for a subscription. In any case, I've read two of his recommendations (Rowling and McEwan -- WOW, was Saturday engrossing) and plan to keep an eye out for some of the others....

20 December 2005

19 December 2005

Concurring Opinions: What If Copyright Law Were Strongly Enforced in the Blogosphere?

Concurring Opinions: What If Copyright Law Were Strongly Enforced in the Blogosphere?

I got linked to this article from someone -- sorry that I don't remember where I saw it first. Especially since that makes posting it very ironic, given the topic.

We -- all of us bloggers -- do take fair use as far as it can go. As someone who falls both into the camp of a writer who gets paid for writing and a blogger who wants to make my posts understandable and interesting by quoting liberally, I'm on the fence, but interested to see how this issue falls out over the long term.

What Are the Blogs Saying About Me? - New York Times

What Are the Blogs Saying About Me? - New York Times
Yes, it's another NYT article -- sorry.

Anyway, this one is about the interaction between blogs (and bloggers) and authors. What I find interesting is that the author of this article didn't talk as much about how authors USE blogs, such as Neil Gaiman's ongoing discussion.

As for me, blogs weren't quite as big when I first published, but my books were the reason I got into blogging, I think.

Two Gay Cowboys Hit a Home Run - New York Times

Two Gay Cowboys Hit a Home Run - New York Times Sorry, it's the NYT -- registration required.

This is a review/essay about Brokeback Mountain the "gay cowboy movie" that has had "stunning weekend grosses" in NY, LA, and SF -- highest per-screen average in those cities, of any movies this year. Thank you people. From everything I've read about it, this story tells about the pain for people forced to live a lie, and treats their story in a very plain-spoken, realistic way --

I can't wait to see this movie.

And bless you, Frank Rich (the columnist) for writing such a lovely review essay --
And I am so grateful that I get to read

Salon.com Books | Top 10 books of the year

Salon.com Books | Top 10 books of the year

It's that time of year -- the time when anyone who talks about books in the media does a top X books of the year. Here's Salon's list. I haven't read many of their suggestions, although a few of them are in the "to be read" pile next to my bed (the pile that not only took over the nightstand, but actually engulfed an entire small bookshelf!).

I've often thought of doing this kind of list -- I certainly read enough books this year -- but... it's more likely for me to make a "best books I read in 2005" list than a "best books published in 2005" list -- I don't always read what's new when it's new... And my list would have to encompass some off-center books -- I thought, for example, that Anansi Boys, by Neil Gaiman, was one of the top novels published (and read!) in 2005, either in print or in audio format. But it doesn't fit neatly into most people's categories, does it?

timbl's blog | Decentralized Information Group (DIG) Breadcrumbs

Important to be able to find again -- Sir Tim Berners-Lee and his blog.
via vowe.net