Operating systems: Organic versus digital showdown

Prologue: On the way home from a midnight birdwatching session, I saw two tawny owls. First one by the side of road, and another atop a lamp post. Beautiful birds, calmly staring back at me.

The myth is that old dogs can’t learn new tricks. The truth is, we can, but we might need a bit more coaxing. And coffee.

Last year, I was forced to switch jobs and with that, learn a whole new set of skills. I was wondering how my then 53-year-old brain would handle it. Turns out, it handled it just like a 23-year-old brain would: With patience, notes, and lots of coffee and candy. Because heavy-duty learning is exhausting! I hadn’t realized that. I just thought you’re tired in college because of not enough sleep or something. Turns out you’re tired because learning several new things every single day is like running a marathon every single day—but brains need more energy and more recovery time than bodies do.

The brain marathon hasn’t ended. There’s always something new to learn, previous knowledge to hone and the teaching of others. Like when we got the Windows 7 update at work this past week.

I spent the better part of Wednesday, tweaking settings for myself and a couple of co-workers, trying stuff first then guiding them through the new things. My fearlessness is driven by satisfying my curiosity. The saying goes, “Curiosity killed the cat. Satisfaction brought it back.”

At home, where I use Apple products, I happily updated both OS X and iOS with my usual trust and abandonment. Over 20 years of reliable updates will do that.

Then I plugged in my Samsung camera to unload photos, and had a firmware update to do there. Which I’ve done before, too.

But the biggy was the OS update to Lollilop on my Android phone. I found myself dealing with an operating system and world I wasn’t familiar with, and on a device I did not want to brick. So while I searched for information on the update, I wondered whether or not to just ignore it or at least join an Android forum somewhere. Turns out you can’t ignore the Android update (you can, but only for a maximum of 3 hours at a time, not forever), and the Android world is so full of different phones, carriers and versions that I could see joining a forum might be a waste of time, not an aid.

Eventually I found a way to back up my Galaxy Note 3 (the app SmartSwitch), and after having read a few posts on what others had experienced, I made a second double coffee for myself and updated my phone. It actually went without a hitch. Success! Whew! Another win for this middle-aged woman.

We were talking about this at work, about how we who entered the work force in the 80’s will be the first generation of seniors not baffled by computers and therefore will not be thwarted by technology; we already netbank. But that said, I can see that being able to handle updates myself is and will be a huge advantage. And perhaps a way to keep my brain active.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES
Charcoal Owl Drawing

Epilogue: An artist was working on a charcoal drawing. From where I was sitting, the owl was looking straight at me, not unpleasantly, but rather like an invitation. In Celtic myth, the owl represents the old woman, the wise crone, the future for us post-menopausal women. Perhaps wisdom is exactly what is needed for updating computers. I will ask the owl later. I am buying that picture.

Surrendering

I can see a change in the silhouette of the birch tree in front of my building. The naked branches have filled in with small, oblong flowers that look nothing like a blossom but that herald the renewal of life—and allergies for those so stricken. Winter has surrendered to Spring, Nature’s New Year.

Birch flowers
Birch flowers
I wanted to say something smart and deep and wonderful at the start of the year on this new blog location. The closest I came was a line from a John Lennon song, sung by a co-worker at Christmas: “Happy Xmas (War Is Over)”. I heard the line “without any fear”, and that pretty much summed up 2014 for me. I had spent last year trying to get rid of fear. The fear in my thinking, in my heart, in my knee-jerk reactions.

I have used ho’oponopono mostly, and some ideas from “A Course in Miracles” (ACIM). More and more I follow the advice from ACIM and ask the Holy Spirit for guidance. And when I do, I have the loveliest day. I still do all the same things, but everything is cushioned in cooperation, friendliness, serenity. It’s easy to get frustrated or annoyed because of a computer glitch or a co-worker who is argumentative, but that doesn’t happen on the days when I remember to ask the Holy Spirit to guide me.

My biggest challenge is to get myself to do that on days off. I don’t seem to want to ask for spiritual guidance at home, and that suggests to me some fears about what would happen if I did. I have to admit, I am addicted to some of my bad habits, and that’s where my fear comes from.

“War is over, if you want it / War is over now” goes the song, and I know now that it not only refers to actual wars on our planet, but also the wars within us or in our personal relationships. The battle we fight to keep our unhappiness from totally messing up our lives or our loved ones, or to keep someone else’s unhappiness from messing us up.

But everything I’ve been reading since age 17, when I first got into metaphysics, says that there is no battle. There is no fight. There is only letting go, especially of fear. Some of what I read suggests that only regular meditation or rituals will lead to healing and wholeness. Perhaps I have that without realizing. I do my praying as part of my walk to work. I say it whenever I leave the house, in case I meet people. (And I need to start saying it when I don’t leave the house.)

Isn’t that the funniest thing? That I worry about meeting people? I used to have more of a temper and could be quite short with others. Not a good way to be around others and not something I would want to experience myself, but for the longest time, I thought that was just who I am. In 2014, though, I was rewarded with something I just realized I haven’t had before: Trust in myself. After years of affirmations and working on my defense mechanisms—basically, letting go of them because they aren’t needed—I realize I now trust myself. I trust my own judgment, and I trust myself around others.

I know I can backslide; my personality hasn’t changed. That’s why I keep up with affirmations and prayer. But they change, they evolve, depending on what I’ve learned. So now it’s about trusting in God, treating fear as the illusion it is, and if I forget, forgive the hell out of it all.

Life does throw upsets at me, like down-sizing at work, and I just move through it with equilibrium. When I was told I was being made redundant, I was more caught up in the thrill of something new than the panic of loss. I am now presented with new challenges = more growth opportunities. That is where 2015 is taking me. Honing my new skills in forgiveness and fearlessness and trust. Making myself so much better that it rubs off on others. That I can make the world better for more than just me.

I had an epiphany as I was looking through a friend’s suggested reading list (books on mindfulness, productivity, getting the most out of time, things, food…): I don’t care about using my time effectively, about being productive, about having successful habits. Everything I need is in my spiritual practice.

Everything becomes productive and successful when I remember to ask for a reminder throughout the day to see love and be love. That is the only habit I really need to cultivate: On fearlessly asking the Holy Spirit for guidance, everywhere, all the time. On surrendering to the guidance. That’s my goal for 2015.

Kind of sort of a Christmas letter

OK, so I didn’t write anything for a while here because, well, I didn’t like the other layout. WordPress updated with a new one I felt like fiddling with, so here I am.

I’m in consolidation mode. I probably should be shopping for Christmas presents, but instead, I’m writing a blog post (this one you’re reading right here) and trying to understand budgeting (again) using YNAB. You’re not supposed to use it as a way of tracking your bank accounts, so I’m going to try doing spending without involving bank account movements. I’m one of those people who spends what she has because it’s there. For 2015, I’m going to spend because it’s in the budget. We’ll see if my checking account survives this shocking change.

Life in Norway currently includes cold, wet weather with lots of thunderstorms (’tis the season) and stores open from 2-7 pm on Sundays for Christmas shopping. It also includes hunting for an alternative way to make eggnog, because that stuff simply doesn’t exist here. You can find Reese’s peanut butter cups, pumpkin pie mix, turkey, maple syrup (organic!) and corn on the cob, but they don’t have eggnog. This is what I get for befriending Americans. I’ve been living happily here since 1981 without eggnog. Now I want to make some. (Don’t worry, I’m still living happily here.)

Bergen bay during Tall Ships' Race 2014

I spent my summer vacation hanging out with the Americans who want eggnog. 2014 was a year of extremes. For many people, there was a lot of upheaval in their personal lives (I got down-sized and re-hired, myself), and even the weather was doing something it doesn’t normally do: Our wettest summer month was our driest and hottest. July offered a heatwave while Bergen was hosting the Tall Ships’ Race. It was four days of magic and Bergen at its best, ever.

I hope, even with all the crazy, that you too have landed on your feet in 2014. Happy holidays and cheers!

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Reanimation

I feel like Dr. Frankenstein, breathing life into something made up of various bits and pieces from other lives. You can see what I mean on my Historical sites page.

Hopefully I’ll create a friendly monster. So please don’t send out the villagers with their pitchforks and torches.