10,000 HOURS

Another most beautiful Autumn morning. Yet, I feel the discomfiture of the season, or is it just me? I am a bit obsessed with sleep or rather the inability to sleep. It’s a bit of a vicious circle of chasing one’s tail. I’m trying to ‘chill’. That in itself is a bit of a tail chaser, if you know what I mean. I’ve decided my best course of action is to do what I do on a normal day – before all this tail chasing.

I’m not completely sleepless. I have been falling asleep. The trouble now lies in when nature calls. I wake up and tend to business. Coming back to bed I start to worry about getting back to sleep again. Sometimes I can still my thoughts of worrying and fall back to sleep. Last night I couldn’t. But I still got 5 hours. Good enough.  That’s what I lived on mostly through 30 plus years of shift work. Tonight I will have my hot chocolate with nutmeg.

It was breakfast at 5 am with a bit of reading. Sheba came and nudged me for hers at 6. Soon enough it was time to head to the pool for my Saturday morning swim. In the pool, I’m reminded of how much progress I’ve made. I’m slicing through the water with my back crawl. So what it’s taken this many years? Malcolm Gladwell said that it takes 10,000 hours of practice to become an expert at a skill. I’ve spent only a fraction of that. I have time and room to improve.

Practice does make for better. I’ve spent the past year striving consciously to do something different every day to change – to see and feel differently, in a better way. It seems such a struggle and it never ceases. I guess it will one day but until then I drawn to struggle for the excellence of living. I wonder how many hours there are in a lifetime. How many areas of expertise can I achieve?


It’s a glorious autumn day. Colours of gold and orange, bright sun and a warm breeze. Lunch over. Dishes done. I’m sitting here with my tea and tap, tapping on the keyboard. I’m feeling pretty mellow and content. No crazy erratic thoughts or energy running through my head or body. There is peace in the moment. I have this morning’s tabata class to thank.


Exercise is my big magic. I show up. Some days I rather not but I do. It gets me out of the house. It gets my feet moving and my heart pumping. Soon I’m singing and dancing like John Travolta – Yea, yea, staying alive, Staying alive! I pump my arms and wiggle my hips. Then I start enjoying it.

When things are tough, I have to work at everything. That’s just how it is. I don’t have to like it but there are things that I still have to do. I cannot put my head under the blanket until things pass. What I have learned is that things do pass but more things come to fill the space. You are never free of ‘things’. The only freedom lies in changing your thinking and feelings. I guess that’s what’s called ‘acceptance’. Hooray, I think I’ve finally got it! Well – until the next time. But in the meantime, Let’s strut a little.


It’s an early morning here with my tea. I’m in a bit of a worry lately over sleep. Anticipation has its reward, meaning I slept in fits and starts. Thankfully I did sleep. I try not to fret too much over that and over fretting. What funny creatures we humans are. As I have said, here I am tap, tapping myself to less worry and fret. I have at least learned to get up, dress up and show up as best as I can.

I was going to give up watching the news last night but I forgot. Maybe that’s a reason for my fitful sleep though I was not as distressed as the other evening. Wendy Mesley did an interview with the Chinese artist Ai Weiwei on his political activism. He is in Canada to receive the 2017 Adrienne Clarkson Prize for Global Citizenship, a prize founded by the former governor general to recognize an individual who “has encouraged thought and dialogue, approaches and strategies that strive to remove barriers, change attitudes, and reinforce the principles of tolerance and respect.” I was happy to have seen this interview. It dispelled some of my feelings of hopelessness and helplessness. He is a man who is not afraid to stand up for his beliefs. He voiced the question: Who are we if we don’t feel the plight of the refugees?

This morning I came across an article about Henry Miller’s 11 commandments on writing and daily creative routine. Pretty sound advice for living as well. I shall pay heed.

    1. Work on one thing at a time until finished.
    2. Start no more new books, add no more new material to ‘Black Spring.’
    3. Don’t be nervous. Work calmly, joyously, recklessly on whatever is in hand.
    4. Work according to Program and not according to mood. Stop at the appointed time!
    5. When you can’t create you can work.
    6. Cement a little every day, rather than add new fertilizers.
    7. Keep human! See people, go places, drink if you feel like it.
    8. Don’t be a draught-horse! Work with pleasure only.
    9. Discard the Program when you feel like it—but go back to it next day. Concentrate. Narrow down. Exclude.
    10. Forget the books you want to write. Think only of the book you are writing.
    11. Write first and always. Painting, music, friends, cinema, all these come afterwards.      

In review, I think I’ve already adopted some of the commandments unknowingly. I’m feeling more optimistic knowing that I’m in good company.


An autumny sunny/cloudy day. I’m mostly in the clouds, feeling the pains of life. The words of Killing Me Softly play in my head. The world is a harsh place and humans can be a cruel species. I have to turn off the news. The Rohingya refugees crisis is cutting me to the quick. That a tweeting Donald Trump can be the President of the most powerful country in the world is overwhelmingly depressing. Why is it that I care anyways?

I guess the answer lies in that we are all connected. What is in one is in the whole. Throw a pebble in the water and the ripples will reach the other side of the universe. It’s like a contagion, a disease infecting all. I feel the anger of helplessness and hopelessness watching all this unfold on the national news. Would it stem the tide if I don’t watch? No, so I might as well suck it up and do whatever I can to contribute to the good of me, you and us.

It’s not much but I can sit here and tap out a few words, clear my thoughts, settle in the quiet, find peace and solace. I tap to stay alive, to find hope, ideas. I come here not to give in to the despair of not being able to scale the Wall. I don’t have to get to the other side. I can just be here in the now.


Today I’m not so lucky. Not too much sunshine but it did say hello briefly. I guess I will have to be my own sunshine. That way, nobody can take it away from me. I will have to get that cup of tea first. It just doesn’t feel right without it. My keyboard and my cup of tea are my best buddies in the morning. I tap. I sip. And vice versa. The world feels better in between them.

I’m not one for giving up – on anything. I’m like Sheba with a bone. I hang on for dear life – trying to make everything work. Trying to salvage every little bitty thing till my fingernails are bloody. I saw that in myself last night trying to pry my grape rolls off the dehyrator trays. It looked so promising in the beginning – making fruit rolls from our grapes. What a disaster! I forgot to oil the trays before I pour the grape pulp onto them. They did not lift off easily. They hung on as tightly as I am to my ways. Who was I to blame them?

Why are first times always such disasters? Even assembling the new pasta machine last year was an ordeal. And we never did get the pasta to turn out after botching it three times. Sheba had a lot of doggy biscuits from that. So nothing lost or wasted. That’s me again – salvaging. It’s really a good thing. I have to stop feeling like it’s a fault.

But I did give up on the last two trays of my grape mess. It was getting late. I was getting tired – and a wee bit angry. Time to chuck it. Into the sink of hot water they went. The good thing is that they do soften up overnight and wash off easily after. There were a few things I did wrong besides not oiling the trays. First times I should start small with 4 trays. That’s the minimum for operating the dehydrator. The dehydrator was not on a level surface. The thickness of the pulp was not even.

I did do some things right. I cleaned as I went along. So no big messes at the end even though it felt like that. This will be the end of the fruit rolls. I will maybe make a syrup with the small leftover of the pulp for yogurt. The rest of the grapes will go into the compost. I’m learning to chuck some stuff that doesn’t work for me. I’m not wasting, still salvaging into compost for more grapes next year.


Good morning sunshine. Another beautiful day greets me as I open my livingroom blinds. I love the gold of autumn leaves and the morning traffic whizzing by. Monday morning at its best. The beginning of another day and week. I had a wonderful night of sleep without the nutmug. I’m also at my best.

I stretched and made myself another cup of tea. I’ve been reading the pros for chia seeds by Food Matters, then the cons by the Paleo Diet. And I heard Caroline Myss screaming in my head, It’s not being vegan or organic. You can eat cat food for all it matters. There’s truths in all. I have to be my own wizard to choose and decide for myself. What works for me? I see better in this morning space – tapping and listening to the quiet.

I’m feeling like Wonder Woman now that I got my sleep back. Yes, Autumn is beautiful with the sunshine, its golds, oranges and browns. But it can be a trickster with its heavy cloudy periods and shorter daylight. I have to be careful and trickier to balance living in both. They each have their pros and cons.


Oh happy day! I slept last night, not as well as I wished but I was not tossing and turning. The sun is shining. The neighbour’s sunflowers are smiling over the fence. It’s 9 am. The day is before me to do as I please. There is nothing hanging over my head. No deadlines. No must do’s. Nothing. But that does not mean that I should just lull the day away. There are certain habits and routines to follow for a healthy life.

I have gotten up, dressed up and showed up, setting my intentions and goals for the day. I am one who does well with rather than without a program. I like to feel and hear the tap, tap of my keyboard. I like to see the letters and words march across my screen. It makes it real for me, this sitting here, talking to myself and you if you are listening. It’s a great compliment to me if you are.

What’s my plan for the day? First, my qigong routine to loosen and limber up. My shoulders are feeling it from my swim yesterday. Then onward to give the house a quick sweep of Sheba’s hair, harvest the grapes and clean them to make fruit rolls. Those are the important items for today. I’ve been doing my little art projects for awhile now. It’s a habit. I can fit them in easily. They are my dessert of the day.


Have I told you lately how hard life is? Okay, I have. Just about every other post. Not apologizing for it. It’s true. It is so hard, especially when you hit a spell of sleepless nights. After 3 in a week, I started worrying. Should I just take that damn pill for awhile? Then I start worrying about not ever getting to sleep without one.

I decided to have a little faith and tough it out a little longer. I researched and found that nutmeg promotes relaxation and sleepiness. It never hurts to dig deep. Sometimes we think we know it all but there is always something else out there. I went to Dr.Mercola’s site.  He has some good information on getting a good night’s sleep and its benefits.

I tried the nutmeg solution last evening an hour before bedtime. I made a cup of hot chocolate with a pinch of nutmeg, cinnamon and ceyenne. It worked. I slept well, waking up only once during the night for a bathroom trip. I had no trouble getting back to sleep again. To be truthful, I was a little sleepy before the nutmeg. A little insurance doesn’t hurt and it is a nice evening ritual. I shall try it again tonight.

Life truly is frigging hard. There is no doubt about it. Getting a good night of sleep is the best way of getting myself out of a wet paper bag. I’m saved again! I’m sticking to the things that work. Get up, dress up, show up. I am happy to show up at the pool this morning. I front crawl up the lane and back stroke down, blowing bubbles and cares away. Looking forward to sleep again tonight.



The other day, two people called out my name, Lily! It had such a nice ring to it. There was gladness in the voice and a smile on the face both times. I was touched. My heart warmed. Was it for me? I couldn’t help asking silently, slightly disorientated by the occasions. It was been awhile since I’ve heard my name called. It started a song in my head. James Taylor was singing.

I would like to have such a friend. He would come if I call, wouldn’t he? He sang the words. I like to think that words still mean something. but I’m not sure. Though much have said about the power of vulnerability by Brene Brown, not too many people are willing to show themselves. That is my experience even though social media and electronics make it so much easier and cheaper to touch and be touched. We don’t want to be first to touch. We send out signals and hints. We test the waters gingerly with our toes.

Sometimes I feel such longing and yearning for the kind of friendship and relationships of old. You just call up/out someone’s name. And they come running. You know then you have a friend. It’s not a bad or impossible thing to wish for. It’s something to work towards – making those friendships and relationships. At least I’m recognizing what is important for me.


Saturday morning. Halfway through September. It is grey and cool. Suddenly summer seems over. I can feel the change in energy. I miss the heat now that it’s gone. The autumn brings its own gifts. I feel the urge to nest but also to renew. I should do my morning stretches. The tomatoes await to be sauced. So many other things begging to be tended to. But I will sit here for awhile with my words. It’s good to tap them out. How else can I right myself again? How else can I claim my equanimity and breathe again?

It’s not that there is so much wrong with me. I’m just being human, feeling that I’m in a bit of negative grey space though not total darkness. I did what I told myself not to do while suffering sleep deprivation – brain surgery. Well, it’s not actual brain surgery. You know what I mean – serious decision making stuff. I made the wrong decision whilst a voice inside was screaming No! That’s a lesson. Things can still happen even when we know better.

No harm was done. I repaired my mistake but it’s difficult not to beat myself over it. That, too, is me being human. I’m accepting my flawed nature and going through the paces. I’m seeing how the world is and learning. I’m getting better with practice. I might suffer some but I’m not grinding myself up. I’m leaving the greyness and heading towards the sunshine.

Yesterday while on my walk with Sheba, a lady called out from across the street, “You dropped something!” I fished in my pockets, thinking doggy bags or kleenx might have fallen out. No, they were all there. I looked behind us. Nothing. I must have looked as puzzled as I felt. She said, “Your dog poop.” I replied that Sheba had peed and that I was sorry but I cannot pick it up. I received no apology for her mistake. I felt the beginning of rage and cortisol rising. But I breathed, dropped it and walked on.



Sheba and I have suffered many such incidents. I wonder if it’s our combination – black dog, Chinese woman. Another time a truck stopped right in the middle of a street intersection. The window rolled down and a woman poked her head out. “Do you have a bag?” She asked. I was really puzzled. How does she know I have bags and why? Again I must have looked very puzzled. I am also very naive. She pointed to the park where we came from. That time I was very out of control angry. I screamed: “SHE PEED!” I shook my bags at her. The truck squealed off in a hurry.

The anger did me absolutely no good. Anger only does harm. Even its memory is harmful. I feel it as I’m tapping it out. I am dropping it now. I have that lady from yesterday to thank. I have to drop the poop.