Monday, October 25, 2010

Social Connectedness vs. Solitude

I just finished reading The Lonely American: Drifting Apart in the Twenty-First Century by husband and wife Professors of Psychiatry, Jacqueline Olds and Richard S. Schwartz. According to a study they cite, 25% of us now live alone. That's up from 7% in the 1940's and represents the largest number of people living alone in the U.S. ever. Even those of us who don't live alone spend less time with family, friends, and neighbors than in the past. The resulting loneliness, say the authors is "the inevitable by-product of our frenetic contemporary lifestyles." (Though we don't call it loneliness because of the "loser" stigma attached to the word. Instead we talk about "feeling depressed.")

Connections with others--face-to-face connections--not just the technological variety, have been proven to be essential to our mental and physical health, yet we often wall ourselves off, treating "busyness as a virtue" and stepping back from one another. As a friend of the authors commented: "Being neighborly used to mean visiting people. Now being nice to your neighbors means not bothering them."

I value my solitude when I'm writing (though I do know writers who like to work in public places, like cafes), but spending time with family, friends, and neighbors is something I'd do more of...if I wasn't afraid of bothering them. Hmm....

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

"Playing Hooky"

Do you ever get so caught up in your daily routines that you neglect to take time off to do something just for fun? I do. "Playing hooky" is something I need to do more often, rather than less. A half-day a week would be ideal, but even a half-day every other week would be an improvement. Today I did something I've been wanting to do for a while: my husband and I drove up to the Seattle Art Museum to see the Picasso exhibit from the Musee National Picasso in Paris. Afterward we had lunch in the International District at Home Style Hong Kong Cafe. When we returned home, I took a relaxing half-hour nap. Then, feeling refreshed, I worked until dinner. True, I didn't get as much writing done as I normally might, but oh, it was worth it!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Groups Offer Benefits: Join in!

Decades ago, when I was in school, I played clarinet. Because I missed playing a musical instrument, a few years ago I took up soprano recorder. I'm not a great player, but I'm okay. Practicing solo is fine, but I've been longing to play with a group for some time. Finally, last weekend, I took the plunge. With instrument and music stand in hand, I drove to the meeting place of a local recorder society and joined in on a rehearsal.

It was hard walking into an established group where I didn't know a single soul. I needn't have worried, however. The members were very welcoming and kind. One woman went out of her way to talk to me and introduce herself before the rehearsal. She'd only just started with the group herself. We traded names and phone numbers when we discovered we both lived in the same town and are planning to carpool together to future rehearsals.

I fumbled my way through the three pieces we were given, missing notes, forgetting repeats, and miscounting, but no one seemed to care. I think they were too busy concentrating on their own parts to worry about me. I loved being part of a group again and I know I'll benefit from the added sightreading practice and hearing others play.

Writers can benefit from groups, too. If you've been writing solo for some time, try joining a group and meeting other writers. The Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators is THE group for children's writers, and you don't have to be published to join. Take a look at their site. There are local regional chapters in almost every state in the U.S. Find out where the chapter nearest you meets. Then pluck up your courage and attend a meeting. I know you'll be glad you did!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

One More Chance to Win Some Aphrodite the Beauty Swag!

The last stop on the Aphrodite the Beauty Blog Tour begins today! Take a look at this great site for tween reviews:

October 5 GreenBeanTeenQueen (Tween Tuesday)
(Aphrodite the Beauty Swag Bag giveaway & reviews by a tween librarian)

Please see the blog for entry details.