Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Lessons in neglect, not poison, message in a bottle, the 2014 benevolent neglect plan

A lesson in Neglect:  The first summer we moved in, I was overwhelmed by raspberries.  So, I made jelly  and more jelly and  infused raspberry vinegar. I also made 5 gallons of raspberry wine with the intent of turning it into vinegar.  I  didn't do anything right with this wine.  I put it in a corner of the guest room, wrapped a blanket around it and forgot all about it. I never racked it off, so it sat on top of its own sediment for a year.       A couple of times  I noticed the aerator was dry and once I noticed that the aerator wasn't even on it.   About four  months ago I noticed the aerator was missing and  because I couldn't find it, I just put some plastic wrap  on the  top. I found the aerator under one of the dressers two days later. I'm pretty sure it was  used as a cat toy. Around the beginning of December I was cleaning the guest room for holiday company.  I decided that I needed to get rid of the  neglected mess.  I huffed it into the kitchen and put it on the counter next to the sink with the intention of pouring it out and scrubbing the carboy for use in 2014.  That curious part of me decided to taste it first , just to see what kind of  disaster had been brewing in the back bedroom.   I sloshed it into a glass  and  took a tiny sip (just in case it had turned into poison).  What passed my lips made my eyes  water... with tears of joy.  The failure I had expected was manna from heaven.  Smooth, sweet, full bodied raspberry  wine that  IS  nirvana on the tongue.
I just stood there frozen  with shock. How did this happen without my tender care and nurturing attention? What did I do wrong that was so right?  And then I thought (because its how my brain works).  Is this a message from the gods?  Am I over nurturing too many things in my world?  Can some of my many failures this year be attributed to trying to hard?
I  struggled very hard in 2013 with the  'wall of no'  that has been surrounding me.  It smacked me in the face in  every direction I turned.    At the beginning of Nov, filled with manic frustration , I finally just sat down with ten years of stargate SG1 and about two dozen unfinished crochet projects.  None of which are finished because I would crochet two rows,   feel frustrated and bored and put it down and pick up another one hoping that it would satisfy that need to do SOMETHING, to complete SOMETHING,  to feel accomplished at SOMETHING.  nope.  So I just sat there quietly pissed off.   Jimmy started to get worried, he started making comments and offering suggestions that might get me moving again. Then he started to treat me like I had a bad case of the flue. 'can I make you some soup? ' he would say or 'can I get you another blanket? Would you like me to open the curtains?'  He brought me the cat to pet and called me to the window to watch the 'cute and funny' antics of the chickens.  I just smiled and nodded , said thankyou when appropriate and went back to being quietly pissed.  Then I tasted the wine that should have been part of my great wall  of no.  
Did I have an epiphany? Not sure.  Did I get some clarity?  Maybe but, its a myopic clarity at best.  Can I move forward now? I don't even know what that is anymore.  Seriously...forward? What does that mean? Did the  wine tell me I should  be looking at other areas of my life that I have neglected to find satisfaction?  I did that and discovered that there hasn't been much neglect anywhere. I've been  right there ,in the moment, present with everything I've done.  I've paid attention to every detail and made it a point to jump through every fiery hoop placed in front me. And here I am.
I'm choosing to believe that the universe sent me a message in a bottle. The full message appears to be in code so it will take some time to decipher it.  But even I cant miss: Back off! Leave it alone! Good things happen when you are not looking. 
So, benevolent neglect  will be my  theme for 2014.  I'm  gonna slow way down and turn my attention away from doing everything right.  I'll do what needs to be done to keep things from completely dying off , but the hyper attention I  have been giving to every detail stops today.

Thank you.

 Now I'm gonna go have a glass of raspberry wine.


  1. My love, you have forgotten Amarone, the 'great (or big) bitter' wine. It was originally an accident, leaving a wine fermenting too long and it consumed all the sugar, producing a wonderful, unique vintage.

    Sometimes benign neglect is the best philosophy - or the only option available. Things will percolate to the surface, call themselves to your attention, and that's when they'll pay off. (PS - Don't take this approach with paying the bills or taking out the trash, trust me!)

    Someone did tell me that, for all of us in this age group, Neptune is opposition Pluto, Neptune being the WD-40 of the solar system, a slow, slow abridement of long-accumulated debris.

    Enjoy the wine, and set aside a wee bottle for me, if you would!

    Happy New Year!

  2. I would love a sip of that wine! What a delicious epiphany.

    I think it speaks volumes of things to decipher. Is it possible that your neglect was intuitive and that you were following a prompt even though you felt like you were neglecting one. You might look at the other areas of your life when you act, even some part of you is telling you not to. You might be looking at that as a sign of neglect when it is really intuition telling you the timing is off or that the move you are about to make will throw synchronicities out of time. It's a thought.

    I know you can practically read my mind, so this will make sense to you even though I'm probably not being all that clear. I think it is a good message for all of us.

    I've been trying to stay busy at beating dead horses and looking for dead horses to drag to water. I stress out if I can't find them and wake at all hours trying to suss one out on craigslist. The dead horses are of course job leads to jobs I don't want if I did manage to get them. Lately I have been thinking if I just stop stressing and enjoy the time off, live frugal, in March things will turn around as the wine season picks up. Mine is wine too, ironically. Also, there are little bits of things I can do to pick up a few hours here and there without leaving the job I have.

    Also, if you've started to knit a bunch of times and haven't finished maybe you should throw it out. I think you must not enjoy it. You get hyper focused when you love something.

    Happy New Year! Love your blog! It is excellent!

    It's Angi W -

  3. I like the idea of benign neglect, or at least less frantic constant oversight for 2014. The last year has felt a lot like a test, and a most of my friends felt the same way about 2013. Have another glass of your surprise wine and, as Douglas Adams wrote, "Relax and enjoy!"

  4. In the book, "The Underachiever's Manifesto" by Ray Bennett MD, there is a quote from Pablo Picasso: "You must always work not just within, but below your means. If you can handle three elements, handle only two. If you can handle ten, then handle only five. In that way, the ones you do handle, you handle with more ease, more mastery, and you create a a feeling of strength in reserve."

    I also like these: "Anything worth doing is worth doing half-assed" and, "No matter who you are, there's something you're trying too hard at."

    God, that wine was good. I'd ask for a bottle but I'm afraid I'd drink the entire thing in one night and then call you up to demand more.