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June 4, 2008

I hope you like free books!

First of all congratulations to winner Sandy from Indiana who won the book giveaway from yesterday. Thank you to all who entered, I am well and truly sorry I made it one of those post-a-comment-to-win things but it takes me a while to make the online entry form work just right and I had to do laundry when I got home from work instead of fiddle with innernet gadgets because of "not wanting to be fired for nakedness at Corporate Job."

Also don't you think there is something wrong with the world when you get home from a long day of working and commuting and so on and realize you have about two hours before you need to be in bed to start the whole thing all over again?

Yet that is not what I wanted to say. What I wanted to say was HOLY CRAP I CAN'T BELIEVE I CARRIED SO MANY BOOKS. If I ever go to the book convention again I am bringing a sherpa .... and I hope my sherpa wears nothing but a loincloth and looks just like that guy from the Transporter movies.

mmmmmmm. Loincloth.

So I am giving away not just one or two but three (!!!) Big Ol' Piles of books and you enter to win using a normal private entry form, since as a hermit myself I am sensitive to the lurk factor.

This sweepstakes is open until Sunday night at midnight Eastern time (that's 9 p.m. Pacific time and -- hey I just did math!) One entry per email address, and everyone on planet earth is eligible. Also, one of my cats was found sleeping on the flat-rate box this morning so I am also throwing in some free cat hair to one lucky winner.

I divided the books up so each pile fits in a single shipping box and if there's something in there you don't want I assume you can just give it to a friend. Many of these books are signed by the authors but some are not. I am also throwing in a signed copy of my book to each winner because it has pictures of my cats in it except Frankie who went out and got herself an agent and I couldn't afford her modeling fee. That Frankie!

Pile of Books #1:

• Purr More, Hiss Less: Heavenly Lessons I Learned From My Cat by Allia Zobel Nolan
• Supernatural Rubber Chicken: Fowl Language by D.L. Garfinkle
• The Ultimate Guide to Well Being by Jason Pegler
• The Book of Animal Ignorance by John Lloyd & John Mitchinson
• Gifts from the Mountain by Eileen McDargh
• Work's a Bitch and then You Make It Work by Andrea Kay
• The Baglady's Guide to Elegant Living by Dina Dove
• The Lace Reader by Brunonia Barry
• Charm School For Guys: How to Lose the Fugly and get some Snugly by M. Marshall
• Potluck Survival Guide by Cherie Kimmons
• Garmann's Summer by Stian Hole

Pile of Books #2:
• Maybe Baby by Matthew M. F. Miller
• The Dysfunctional Workplace by Peter Morris
• How To Break Bad News by Tim Molloy
• Jon & Jayne's Guide to Throwing, Going to and "Surviving" Parties by Jon & Jayne Doe
• Jon & Jayne's Guide to Making Friends & Getting The Guy (or Girl) by Jon & Jayne Doe
• Blackout Girl by Jennifer Storm
• Staging Your Comeback: A Complete Beauty Revival for women over 45 by Christopher Hopkins
• You Lost Him At Hello by Jess McCann
• Secrets of the Hollywood Girls Club by Maggie Marr
• Work It, Girl! Guide to professional success by Lorraine Morris Cole and Pamela M. McBride
• Divine Destiny by Gwyneth Bolton

Pile of Books #3:
• The Encyclopedia Shatnerica by Robert Schnakenberg
• Paraworld Zero by Matthew Peterson
• Fish Stew by Jack Revalle
• Kayak Reef by Bradley J. Stewart
• Einstein: His Life & Universe (large print edition) by Walter Isaacson
• Buff Dad: The 4-Week Fitness Game Plan For Real Guys by Mike Levinson
• Huck Finn & Tom Sawyer Collaboration by Mark Twain & Stephen Stewart
• The Day of The Panzer: A Story of American Heroism and Sacrifice in Southern France by Jeff Danby

Also, can I share with you the amount of everloving cat-related HELP I have at home when it comes to picture-taking?


I am just saying is all.

Enter to win and good luck!

- - -

In other news ... when did it become June already and also why do I say that every single month as if I am unaware of the modern marvel called the "calendar"? But June seems a bit extreme, I am still wondering where March went.

I know a lot of people have been reading that Eckhart Tolle book A New Earth from Oprah's book club and just like his first book, The Power Of Now, he really talks a lot about staying present, staying in the moment.

It doesn't matter what people think about self-help or navel-gazing or Oprah, this idea of living life in the present is a pretty good one. It's also not my default operating system so it's something I'm trying to work on. My whole life seems like it's lived out in words inside my head, and even as a little kid I spent most of my time alone dreaming up far-away adventures and stories and making it up as I went along. There were times when the present moment kind of sucked, so daydreaming (or whatever you want to call it) was the best part of the day.

When I went through my divorce I also went through a pretty long phase I fondly refer to as My Year Of Revenge Fantasies. I would sit outside alone on my patio at night when I couldn't sleep, and I would smoke cigarettes and instead of thinking about my looming divorce or his new girlfriend or my weight gain or my total and complete fear of the future, I would just sit there and smoke and come up with all these movies in my head that basically involved me running into Mr. X and in these fantasies I was mysteriously taller and skinnier and cuter and I was with someone awesome and/or I had won a $45 million lotto or something. ANYWAY, the thread of my fantasy revolved around me running into Mr. X and the revenge was that my life was so good I no longer cared about him at all. But also you know, he could tell. Because that is how revenge fantasies work.

Also I think I was a redhead.

If I think carefully about that period of my life and then see where I am now, plug into the very present moment, it's obvious that a lot of my fantasy has come true. No, I am not tall and skinny and rich and dating some version of George Clooney, but I am genuinely happy with my life's weird path and I only think of my ex-husband in detached, random ways... like when someone asked me if I've ever been to Iceland and I said, "Yeah, I went there for a few weeks once back when I was married." I don't need revenge anymore, but at the time those fantasies helped keep me out of despair. Don't let anyone ever talk you out of being in the mad phase or the revenge phase, I think they're a logical progression toward the "sane and feeling pretty good" phase.

Smoking all that time alone on the patio was my only form of meditation until I found knitting. Knitting is many things to many people -- for me it's the activity that calms down my chatterbox brain. Like zen with a crafty flair. I also feel this way about sewing but my sewing machine is a bit bulky to take on the bus. Knitting my bazillionth scarf or hat definitely puts me in the moment, focused on the present, because if I don't concentrate I'll be ripping out rows and rows of messed up stitches! Active meditation, like knitting or sewing or crafting or writing, these keep me in the moment. The rest of the time I'm lost in my thoughts.

So I'm trying to be present -- right here right now -- more often. Daydreaming is such a habit and I think I do it because on some level I am dissatisfied with parts of my day-to-day reality. Like traffic. It makes sense that traffic isn't the highlight of my life and so I mentally start spinning a story, detaching from the slow crawl in bumper-to-bumper traffic by daydreaming of some fantasy time in some fantasy future when I don't have to commute. But habits are very clever, they sneak in and take up residence all over the place and I suspect I've been daydreaming my life away.

Dr. Wayne Dyer says that goals are sometimes a way to postpone happiness. You set a goal and say, "When I reach this goal I will be Happy. Period." So you work to achieve this goal in the future. But when it arrives, you're already on to the Next Goal and so you just keep on postponing happiness. Just like saying, "One day when I'm thin I will go on vacation." Wouldn't life be better if you didn't wait to go on vacation just because of some dumb size label on your pants?

And by "you" as always I mean "me."

Yesterday in a meeting I wanted to drift off in my head, sit on a mental beach in a cute outfit and be mentally 65 pounds lighter and watch the waves come in. But I stayed there in the conference room and focused on each person as they spoke and the meeting actually seemed less arduous somehow. Instead of drifting off or even doing that thing where you stop listening because you know what you want to say in the meeting and you are simply waiting for the right time to say your piece, I focused on each person's cadence, their words, tried to listen without saying anything in my head. Noticed each person's tie, their cufflinks, the way they held a pen or what prompted them to take notes. It wasn't a religious experience or anything -- I mean, unless you think technology infrastructure meetings are spiritual -- but it was harder to stay right there than I thought!

I've just been thinking all this stuff because I know that if I don't plug into the present moment, I'll never reach contentment. Life happens in the present moment -- not the past and not the future. If I don't plug in I'll always be stuck in an endless cycle of daydreaming about a better future, no matter how good the present is! And that seems kind of ungrateful. My life is really blessed in so many ways and if I just focus on those things and stop dreaming away the icky parts, I hope I can eliminate my habit of telling myself, "One day, when [whatever condition] occurs, I'll have more time, or be less anxious, or have more freedom. Or be happy. One day ..."

I want to plug into June so I'm not looking up from my desk soon and saying, "What the hell happened to summer? Why is it Halloween already? Why is life moving so fast? I need a minute here!"

That had nothing to do with the sweepstakes. Just blah blah blah.

Posted by laurie at June 4, 2008 9:41 AM