O Angelina

A Girl and Her Dog: Living, Loving, & Enjoying the Little Things


George Saunders--Be A Dog for 15 Minutes Each Day

Charlotte, Events, From My Writing Desk, Living Well, Reading, WritingAngelina OberdanComment

I know, we can all agree that George Saunders is THE MAN. In fact, his book, Lincoln in the Bardo, just won the Man Booker Prize for Fiction.

While I know this is an esteemed award, there are two things George Saunders has done that I count as cooler: 

  1. He read as the Irene Blair Honeycutt Distinguished Speaker at CPCC's Sensoria (I'm obviously biased because I'm the co-chair of the committee who brought him.) 

  2. He went to Italy to Hear his own work--about Lincoln sitting in the tomb of his son--being performed in Italian while sitting in a tomb in Milan (so meta and So Italy)

What do the kids say now? #squadgoals

Because of his insistent presence on my Facebook NewsFeed, I've been thinking about Saunders and his work lately. And, thus, I turned back to my notes from his lectures and readings in Charlotte.  

Therein, I found obvious wisdom, which is the sort we already know, but of which we need someone to remind us. And we need someone like George Saunders reminding us if we're actually going to listen. 

Please know that these are not exact quotes, but scribbles from my notes, which were obviously accompanied by doodles.

1.     What are your actual habits? Accept them. 

Good God, no! I am always trying to improve my habits. But fine, Saunders, I hear you.

2.     Watch yourself without judgement.

3.     Game yourself. 

This one might need a little explaining. I think Saunders was talking about how we have this need to "win the game." We shouldn't try to play ourselves or cheat ourselves, but we--our lives, ourselves, our souls--should be the game we set out to win. Win at being you. Game yourself. 

4.     No one can guarantee that you’re going to succeed as an artist, but it’s up to you to give yourself that chance. 

5.    Obstructions are what we are. Acknowledge them. They might be your strength.

6.     Take 15 minutes a day to be like a dog. Catch one scent in your mind and follow it.

And that's what I've done. Right here. Right now. I've followed my nose for 15 minutes to share my thoughts with you. 


Mother-Daughter Yoga Retreat

Adventures, Events, Living Well, ThankfulAngelina OberdanComment

My mom and I spent a weekend at The Art of Living Retreat Center this summer. We'd been looking for yoga retreats for years, but most of them didn't fit our calendars. This one finally did, and it was in Boone, NC, so it was easy for my mom to fly in. 

When we went, we took advantage of the mother-daughter retreat, which we could schedule any time, including (in coordination with my summer teaching schedule) Thursday through Saturday. 

Our stay there included a room near the spa, pottery, yoga and meditation, massages, and three vegetarian meals every day. 

Our pottery session was scheduled right after we arrived, and it was so much fun! Getting dirty and doing something with my hands (which I haven't really been able to) was a great way to start off the weekend of relaxation. 


In addition to the planned activities, we came up with some mother-daughter stuff that, while cheesy, was a lot of fun. Honestly, a few weeks before our trip, we both got worried that the retreat would be too yoga-y, that everyone would be really intense, that our Diet Coke habit would be shunned. So we started planning things that we liked to supplement the trip. For example, we bought a handful of books on our way up to the mountains, committing to read at least one each while we were there so that we could trade before my mom left.

I also ordered us One Question A Day books, in which you can record the answer to one question every day for five years. That sounds like pressure, but it's really not. The questions are short, and if you skip a day, it's not a big deal. It also gave my mom and I something to talk about while we were there and a conversation to carry on afterwards. 

The best part, I think, was that we brought our laptops, but neither one of us opened then.

Of course, the mountains and facilities were gorgeous. We had not idea that this place was there. It's a huge retreat for the Art of Living Foundation founded by the mediation guru Sri Sri. 


The truth about the yoga and the meditation and the chanting is that some were better than others. I was not into the chanting at all. It was fun watching other people get into it, but it was not for me. I basically just said "banana" over and over, so we only went once. The mediation was actually really good; it was fun to just be quiet and center myself, be just in my body. (Okay, I admit it; I did fall asleep one time, and my mom almost interrupted all the other mediators by laughing at me.) And the yoga wasn't quite as awesome as some yoga studios I've been to, but it was fine. It was different and the atmosphere was amazing. 


Finally, we see that the woman we’ve come to think of as Mom — whether she’s nurturing, or disapproving, or thoughtful, or delusional, or pestering, or supportive, or sentimental — is also a mysterious, fun, brave babe.

"Our Mothers as We Never Saw Them" by Edan Lepucki

I actually think it was the best trip my mom and I have taken together in years (not that our other trips weren't great). This was just the best. We both got away from our lives and were able to connect to ourselves and each other. 


Our pottery turned out pretty cool, too! 


Highlights from the September and October 2016

Events, Living Well, Thankful, The Blue HouseAngelina OberdanComment

As I wrote a month ago (holy cow!), September and October were really busy, but now that I'm halfway through October, things are starting to balance themselves again. 

First of all, goal report: 

  • Richmond Rox Triathlon - September 18

My triathlon was amazing! I met all my goals. I always come up with "amazing" goals and "happy" goals. 

Swim: (1500 meters)

Amazing = Under 30 minutes / Happy = Under 35 minutes

Result = 29:17

Bike: (40K)

Amazing = Under 75 minutes / Happy = Under 120 minutes

Result = 1:29:38

Run: (10K) Under 1.5 hours / 70 minutes

Amazing = Under 70 minutes / Happy = Under 90 minutes

Result = 1:15:27

  • Bike MS: Breakaway to the Beach MS - October 8-9 - Unfortunately, because of Hurricane Matthew, this was cancelled. However, I did reach my fundraising goal of $300. Thanks to all who contributed! #bikeMS

As all of the craziness of balancing these two things with work and writing and having a regular life starts to relax, I took a minute to look back at some of the little moments of beauty. 

From Left to Right, Top to Bottom: Fresh & beautiful Black Jack Figs from the garden, Layla and Fin posing with our updated "wreath" (Happy Fall, Ya'll!), Two pots full of spaghetti sauce, Coloring page to remind me that life is "Totally Badass," Roasted and then frozen peppers to add to some yummy meals, Baby eggplant in the garden, Fin in a cap, New headboard and armadillo lamps in the bedroom (Doesn't it look grown up!?), and Gnome zen garden in my office. 

And so, life is totally badass.