Tag Archives: driving

Finding My Balance

AI colorful balance scale

Maggie is back from her lovely “vacation” to help with a new grandchild, and she has returned to her Tranquil Thursday series. Note that from now on it is my official policy to clean up any typos in quoted material, and I’m not indicating so each time because these are blog posts not scholarly articles.

1. We have all heard of the need of work/life balance. If you are still working, what percentage of time do you dedicate to work? If you are retired, how have you achieved balance outside of managing a work life?

I am old-school and work an old-fashioned 7.5 hour day (with an hour for lunch) in an office away from home. I do not bring work home with me or go in on weekends. The rest of my time is for me (I am not going to say “life” because work is also a part of life, and I enjoy going to work). Most of my me time is spent blogging and reading, with cleaning and shopping chores thrown in the mix. Sometimes I paint. Sometimes I work on my half-finished stories. Sometimes I watch movies. Occasionally I take a walk. I do make time for family and friend social events, but not on a daily basis (except for texting).

Remember teeter totters? Life is like a teeter totter. When lives enter or leave us, we are thrown off balance. When there is too much on one side of the fulcrum, the other side is left dangling in the air while the heavy side is stuck in the sand. How is the current balance in your life?

Except for my physical balance, which can be a bit shaky because of vertigo, etc., I would say I have the perfect balance of work, family, friends, and hobbies in my life. I wouldn’t want things to be all work or all family or all painting, etc. The only area in which I am out of balance is exercise, but that’s very difficult for me to engage in regularly because of my chronic pain issues. It’s hard for people who don’t have these issues to understand. It’s not only the actual hours of pain that stop me, but also when I’m feeling relatively OK, my first thought is not “time to run around and get all sweaty.” My thought is… savor this moment while it lasts. Also, exercise can trigger more pain (unfortunate truth).

Fantasy reading romance novel book
Image credit to Jim Warren

If things get too hectic, what tools do you use to regain balance?

Very simple. I ruthlessly cut out activities, at least temporarily, so that I have only work and me time. I have a limited amount of energy for socializing to begin with, and it doesn’t take much to deplete the stores. Family time is usually OK, but I have to deal with driving/traffic to get that, so it isn’t a no brainer to see my loved ones. Friends just have to understand that I will occasionally cancel at the last minute, and if they don’t understand? Pffft.

Sometimes we self-sabotage the balance in our lives by letting too much in, or giving away too much of ourselves. How do you control the flow in and out of your life?

I am a control FREAK. I refuse to do things I don’t want to do or that I think will hurt me in any way.

Life Pie – if you ever completed The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron, you may recall the exercise to determine how fulfilled your life is by dividing it into six areas. I will post her instruction below. Draw your life pie. Were you surprised with the results? “Draw a circle. Divide it into six pieces of pie. Label one piece Spirituality, another Exercise, another Play, and so on with Work, Friends, and Romance/Adventure. Place a dot in each slice at the degree to which you are fulfilled in that area (outer rim indicates great; inner circle, not so great). Connect the dots. This will show where you are lopsided.” ~ Julia Cameron

I don’t need a pie to show I’m unbalanced according to someone else’s idea of how things “should be,” though I would like a pie because pie is delicious. There are 24 hours in a day, 7 days a week, which according to old-school math is 168 hours. Let’s break that down.

Pillsbury cherry pie

Each week, on average, I spend about 50 hours working and commuting, 49 hours sleeping (or lying in bed hoping to sleep), 7 hours on personal care (showering, etc.), 7 hours on household chores (shopping, cleaning, “cooking”), 21 hours on hobbies and texting and reading the news, and 10 hours on social events. These 10 include planning and driving, and the hours vary widely from week to week, but when I do an event, it’s a multi-hour commitment, such as a 3-hour book club meetup or a 6-hour game night.

We are at 144 hours, which theoretically leaves 24 remaining for exercise, spirituality, and romance. Thankfully, we can knock romance out of the equation because I hate dating, and we can also jettison spirituality because I’m an atheist. That leaves 24 hours for exercise. Wow, I could spend a whole day exercising!

Yeah. I’ll let you know when that happens.

laughing smiling funny

©️2023 Paula Light and Light Motifs II. No unauthorized use permitted.

Road Tripping

man driving car

My father didn’t need a map
He had a sense of what was where.
My mother had one on her lap,
Trying to get from here to there
Without rambling far off-track.
I read romances in the back;
When we arrived, I didn’t care.

©️2023 Paula Light and Light Motifs II. No unauthorized use permitted.

Quadrille (44 words) written for dVerse Poets Pub Quadrille 175 (map).


Vacation lounge nap sunshine dog

It was tough to deal with the yucky traffic, but I made it to my daughter’s house this weekend ~ and how rewarding that was! I had a splendid time with her, my son-in-law, and their sweet doggos. After we had a late brekky, we took off for the zoo. We saw the impressive tiger, the gorgeous jaguar, the mighty lion, and a whole bunch of garrulous birds and monkeys. We also checked out the hungry elephant and the serene camel. At the end, I took a peek at the reptile exhibit even though I was exhausted. Can’t leave the zoo without seeing some snakes!

When we got home, I took a blissful nap in the sun, as pictured, and then we played two rounds of Splendor (a very fun board game). My SIL won both. For dinner, we ordered in some delicious Mexican food (I had a shrimp quesadilla), and later we had a heavenly red velvet birthday cake. We watched A Man Called Otto on Prime, and it was pretty good, but not great. I must admit though that Tom Hanks does a great grumpy old man. On Sunday we played Settlers of Catan (another board game), and I was pleased to do better than usual (still lost to my daughter though).

The trip back was full of freeway snarls and took almost 1.5 hours, but all’s well that ends with lots of cuddles from my adorable kitty. I had a wonderful time!

gatsby kitty cat love hearts

©️2023 Paula Light and Light Motifs II. No unauthorized use permitted.

Tranquility Tricks

willow pond peaceful

Maggie continues her Tranquil Thursday series by asking a set of questions about “calming the mental storm.” Paradoxically, I have found that it takes work to achieve and maintain a sense of peace in my life. Sadly, the default life setting is always more stuff piling up; I have to actively work at pushing it away from me.

How do you manage stressors that are outside your control?

I take a hard look at what stress actually needs to stay in my life. If it isn’t absolutely necessary, then it gets jettisoned. I try to manage the rest of it down as much as I can. For example, some weekends I hardly use my car in order to eliminate driving stress. Last weekend was blissful because I didn’t drive at all from Friday night to Monday morning. I am one of those people who is hyper aware of all the dangerous drivers out there, and I prefer to deal with them as little as possible.

Traffic cars street road highway

How do you tune out the noise of the crowds?

This one is easy: stay out of crowds! I hate crowds and will put up with them only very rarely, such as at a fair or concert I really want to see. Mostly, it’s not worth the bother.

What so you do when you do not know what to do?

OK. So the best thing for me personally in these situations is to tell myself to focus on the next thing, whether it’s an office task or a house chore or just simply driving home. I give that my full attention. And I keep doing this, the next thing and the next thing, until I’m calmer and can tackle the Big Problem.

Sometimes/often the Big Problem goes away on its own if I put enough time and distance between it and me. One important thing I do is to take time for myself and turn down all social events when I am stressed. Nothing is better than a quiet weekend with my kitty to reset my stress-meter to near zero.

gatsby and paula selfie

©️2023 Paula Light and Light Motifs II. No unauthorized use permitted.

TGIF ~ Nothing From Nothing


Happy Friday. It’s been a rather uneventful week, which is how I like them. I’ve just been slogging along, bundling up, and trying to manage my migraines/neck pain/back pain. Last Sunday I visited my three (3!) grandchildren; this weekend I plan to paint. My granddaughter had requested a painting, which I did Saturday and brought to her, and I squished out way too much paint for her picture, so when I was finished I used up the extra paint for backgrounds on new canvases. I did blue, green, and pink ~ and I have a painting in mind for each one. These are the little 8×8 canvases.

I’m taking my own advice regarding the blog follower issue, which was stressing me out. I’ve quit receiving notifications about them now and I’ve quit looking at them. (I will check out a blog after someone new leaves a comment.) It was a mistake to try to police my follower list to get rid of marketers, etc., because it takes so much time, plus they pop back in regardless.

I have a ton of new followers, many without blogs, many in foreign languages, and I’m just done worrying about it. It’s probably because I’ve been participating in the Daily Prompt a few times per week. I think this has also caused an upsurge in the reblogging too, which I also dislike, even when done properly with just an excerpt and linkback. So annoying to have my posts show up on these random sites, but there’s nothing I can do about it when my blog is public. I deleted the reblog/share button a long time ago, but it still happens.

Sad face dislike thumbs down

Jim’s Thursday Inspiration prompt yesterday made me think of that 1974 song “Nothing From Nothing” by Billy Preston.

Nothin’ from nothin’ leaves nothin’
You gotta have somethin’ if you wanna be with me
Nothin’ from nothin’ leaves nothin’
You gotta have somethin’ if you wanna be with me

That sounds cold, but it’s true, I believe. When we begin a romantic relationship, or even a friendship, we have to get something out of it to motivate us to continue. I was friends with a woman way back when, and our daughters were the same ages, which was convenient, but she dumped me when I couldn’t carpool with her. She found someone who lived closer and had a similar schedule. At the time, I was really hurt, but now I understand. I was getting something out of that friendship ~ playdates for my girls ~ but what she needed from a friendship was someone to help out with driving. I couldn’t do that, so I was of no more use.

I’m not tryna be your hero
‘Cause that zero is too cold for me, brrr
I’m not tryin’ to be your highness
‘Cause that minus is too low to see, yeah

Our needs and wants can change over time. What worked once may no longer be of benefit, and someone who we dismissed way back when could have something to offer now. Of course, we also have to have something to bring to the table ourselves. That’s a given. It’s all just human nature.

Have a good one!

©️2023 Paula Light and Light Motifs II. No unauthorized use permitted.

Can’t Live Without…

Flowers butterfly

What are three objects you couldn’t live without?

Perhaps I’m high maintenance, but there are a lot of things I can’t live without, besides the obvious stuff, like air, water, food, etc. While I enjoy flowers and sunsets as much as any poet, I don’t know how to “rough it” in the wilderness, nor do I want to learn. I am super appreciative of our advancements in hygiene, medicine, food safety, etc., and I don’t casually brush them aside, especially now that I deal with migraines and chronic pain. That said, I will limit my response to actual objects, as opposed to electricity, heat, running water, etc.

My first can’t-live-without object is my iPhone. It’s a way to communicate with my family, friends, and coworkers; it provides a means to write and blog when I’m away from my laptop; it helps me stay organized and make appointments; it gives me easy access to news and information; I can read books on it (though I prefer my Kindle); it generates music and entertainment ~ I could watch movies on my phone, if no larger screens were available; and omg the GPS and maps, which I absolutely cannot live without!

phone network earth space

In Southern California, I can’t live without a car. Public transportation is inconvenient and unreliable, so to get to work on time, visit my family, and go to all the other places I need to be, I need to have my own car. I lived without one back in Chicago, and that was great. No worries about maintenance, insurance, parking, etc. I would love to be in that carless situation again, but out here, in coastal SoCal’s mild weather.

Finally, I can’t live without a comfy bed. My days of being able to sleep anywhere are long past ~ I used to be able to snooze on a chair, sofa, bus, plane, and even the floor! But I have so many issues with neck and back pain now that I have to be extremely careful of my sleeping position. What a drag it is getting old… but it beats the alternative (so far).

sleepy kitty orange tabby

©️2023 Paula Light and Light Motifs II. No unauthorized use permitted.

Tranquil Thursday Music

music romance roses piano

Maggie continues her Tranquil Thursday series with some questions about music.

Do you choose to play music that matches your mood?

No. I play music almost exclusively in the car (not counting musicals I watch on TV), and I cycle through my lists of favorites, which are mostly lively pop and rock songs.

Do you ever use music to change your mood?

Occasionally. The favorites I have already compiled usually make me happy, and now that Spotify knows my taste, it suggests new lists of good stuff. Sometimes I’ll rewatch a musical at home to distract myself from feeling bad.

Walking on Sunshine

Do you use music to relax or to fall asleep?

No. I like to read to occupy my mind in order to get sleepy. If I listen to music while lying there, my thoughts will spin around into chaos.

When do you like music with lyrics versus instrumental music?

Pretty much always, though I love the theme song from Zorba the Greek, the Pink Panther theme, Lara’s Theme from Dr. Zhivago, etc.

Does music distract you if you are trying to concentrate?


guitar man music

Do you like percussion arrangements with no other instrumentation?

No. Unless it’s fabulous piano…

Do you listen to classical music?

Hardly ever.

Do upbeat rhythms make you want to get up and dance?

Not usually because I’m in the car. If I’m not driving, sometimes…

What music grates on your nerves?

Lyrics I don’t understand because they’re too screamy or mumbly or whatever. Boring jazz. Most rap. Super high-pitched women’s voices like Barbra’s. Anything from Rush or Yes.

Neuroscientists from the UK deemed this song the most relaxing song tested to date. It is said to reduce anxiety by 65%. What do you think?

Makes me want to punch someone in the face.

©️2023 Paula Light and Light Motifs II. No unauthorized use permitted.

Writing, Running, Raging

Writing quote

Rory @ Earthly Comforts has a new set of Morning Dawdler questions for us today. Here are my responses…

What is it about writing that you enjoy?

The written word helps me to organize and clarify my thoughts. Often I find that I didn’t know what my ideas were until I began the process of writing them down. This is true both in fiction writing and personal essays. When the words are on the page, I see what makes sense and what is illogical. I see the motivations for the characters I’ve created. Finally, in poetry, the emotions I want to express are honed and amplified by the act of putting them in visible words. The same does not hold true consistently when simply speaking the words ~ I need to see them.

You have twenty minutes to take five practical everyday items from your house that will fit into a backpack that you will need to survive for two weeks in the wild – what do you take?

Ibuprofen, a thermal blanket, a big box of protein bars, a whole bunch of dehydrated water, and a loaded gun to shoot myself.

Have you ever experienced road rage whilst driving in your car as a driver or passenger in someone else’s car?

Ha ha ha. When don’t I is a better question! Almost every time I’m out, someone enrages me with their dangerous idiocy on the road. Most of the time, they’re speeding, running red lights, and/or cutting people off simply to save a couple seconds. It makes no sense to act like this ~ they aren’t saving significant time for short distances.

I experience road rage only when I’m the one driving; when someone else is driving, I can zone out and chill unless something drastic happens. Have I mentioned that I hate driving?

Do you complain or keep quiet if you receive lousy service when out and about and what is most likely to tick you off the most?

I usually keep quiet because there’s no point in complaining ~ in most cases, lousy service is not the server’s fault but a deeper issue with how the business is organized. There are a few exceptions. Yesterday, for example, I received absolutely terrible service at a place where I went to pick up photos (I still buy occasional prints). The clerk was so incompetent and rude that I actually went to their website afterwards to bitch about it. Normally I don’t do anything like that!

©️2023 Paula Light and Light Motifs II. No unauthorized use permitted.

Peace of My Heart

pink yellow rose variegated

Somehow I missed Maggie’s Tranquil Thursday #2 post on Thursday (and Friday), but I saw it today via other blogger’s responses. I am not going to let WordPress’s glitches harsh my mellow state of mind.

How do you define peace on a personal level?

Two things basically. The first is the constant management of my chronic pain because that’s my starting point for feeling calm, which I can’t be when my neck is throbbing, my head is pounding, and my back hurts whether I’m standing, sitting, or lying down. I will never be pain-free, unfortunately, but getting it down to a reasonable level is a baseline for feeling peaceful. The second part of the equation is keeping stress and drama to a minimum, which is also something I work at, since life is always tossing surprises at us, some of which must be dealt with, and trolls and scammers lurk everywhere. This is part of the reason I left Twitter and keep my FB participation minimal. And of course it’s why I quit dating!

What does finding peace mean to you?

Keeping my pain level on the lower side, having work/chores/obligations under control, and avoiding any drama.

What environment (the ocean, the mountains, the desert, etc.) brings you peace?

Unlike everyone else, I prefer to be indoors, in a controlled environment. Sometimes I find walking in a park or at the beach to be peaceful, but often something will bother me, such as wind giving me an earache, bright sun giving me a headache, or big barky dogs giving me a scared. At home, I can control the lighting and the temperature, find a comfy position, keep things quiet if need be, get a cup of tea when I want one, etc. This is my path to calm: sitting on the comfy sofa with a warm cup of tea and a snuggly cat by my side.

Is there a person whose presence puts you at ease and gives you a feeling of peace?


There are people I love to be with aka FAMILY, but I wouldn’t say I feel peaceful around them since we’re usually planning an activity which will involve going somewhere in a car (driving = the least peaceful thing ever) or dealing with even more people or situations that I can’t control 100%.

©️2023 Paula Light and Light Motifs II. No unauthorized use permitted.

Sofas and Couches and Chairs, Oh My!

Gatsby cat book Lederer

In the comments to my Bed Head post, Keera wondered if there were songs with couches in them. Roy and I expanded that idea to sofas and chairs/ seats, which seemed like a fun idea for a new post.

As we know, when Lobo saw her standing there, he ‘bout fell out his chair, but even so it doesn’t appear that things will work out (I’d love you to want me…). After the Beatles took “Lovely Rita” (meter maid) to dinner, they hung out on the sofa with a sister or two… and it seems like that relationship ended up happy. Who can predict these things anyway?

How about kooky Neil Diamond yelling “I Am, I Said” and no one heard, not even the chair? Even if the chair had heard, I don’t know what it was supposed to do about Neil’s existential angst. Too much red, red wine methinks.

woman chair silhouette pose sexy stage show

Billy Joel wants a woman to remember how he found her there, alone in her electric chair, and he told her dirty jokes until she smiled (you may be right). He’s trying to convince her that even though he’s crazy, she should still give him a chance. Been there, unfortunately did that.

Randy Newman tells a woman to take off her clothes (you can leave your hat on), stand on a chair, and shake ‘em. Think he got any takers? Glen Campbell says that because a woman’s door is always open he leaves his sleeping bag rolled up and stashed behind her couch (gentle on my mind). Shut the door already, lady!

There must be loads of songs that reference the back seat of a car. Can you think of any? Please put them in my comments!

©️2023 Paula Light and Light Motifs II. No unauthorized use permitted.