Saturday, February 21, 2009

Grammy turns 95!

I make no bones about it. I adore my grandmother. To us, she is Grammy.
Grammy turned 95 on Wednesday and I went to Greensboro to celebrate with her and my family. She is awesome. She can't live by herself anymore and doesn't want to live with her family because she never wants to be a burden. It doesn't matter that she never is a burden. It is part of her DNA. She has always been really autonomous. We were worried when she moved down here and moved into the extended care place she lives. But she really likes having all of the people around.
This is Grammy posing before she blows out the candles. 95. Wow.
Grammy loves sweets. LOVES sweets. She may not have any room in her stomach for dinner but there is, miraculously, always room for something sweet. The woman is 95. Let her eat cake.
And then there is my sister. Also enjoying a bit of cake. Clearly she is the picture of class. I wish that I could say that we have done a great job maturing. But we do have fun. We are simply fully functioning citizens with some residual child residing within us. My parents have given up hope.
But they probably should.
I am posting my first blog video. You will see from this little video that our childish behavior comes from our grandmother. If it is good for Grammy, it is good for us!
Grammy is a sassy one. We were all playing around and Sandy started blowing her little party horn. You have to watch and see what Grammy decides to do. Watch to the end. You have to see her response. She is a hoot. Love you, Gram. Happy Birthday and thanks for always being the most perfect combination of love, strength and sass. You are the best!

SuperHero to the rescue and the new face of feminism

Definition of a SuperHero

Pronunciation: Dad-zee
Function: Rescue of those in need
1. a fictional hero having extraordinary or superhuman powers ; also : an exceptionally skillful or successful person
2.Father in law willing to fly to the rescue at a moment's notice
Yup, this is the face of a SuperHero!
It's been a week. I made it to Friday, got some good work done in the morning before my follow up doctor's appointment.
That goes fine.
I pull out of the parking lot.
Hm. My car doesn't normally sound like that. Not good.
I make it one block and pull over.
Flat tire. Aaarggghhh. These are relatively new tires. Good tires.
Doesn't matter. It's flat. And so is my energy reserve for dealing with nonsense.
I realize that some might think that I have to relinquish my feminist card when I decide to call for help but I don't think so.
After a quick cry out of frustration and the realization that I haven't changed a tire in about 2 decades and my hand is injured, I make a couple of calls...just to release the energy of the moment.
Okay, now what am I going to do? Who could possibly step in to help me in the middle of a work day?
Who indeed. A quick call to Dadsy, my father-in-law, and he is on the way. He doesn't bat an eye, just gets to work as we chat.
It was nice to talk with him. Just us, catching up. We have good conversations. I was so filled with gratitude for his willingness to always help in any way that he can. I know that a lot of people don't like their in laws but I love mine. They are really loving, giving people.
So Dadsy shows up and changes my tire. We chat and I realize that while tires go flat and frustration builds up, love helps us sail smoothly through it. Love is like a wind through smoke. It parts the way with ease.
So thank you, Dadsy, for helping. Again. You are always there willing to help, without condition. I so appreciate that and you.
I also acknowledge myself. I believe that I am pretty capable and I am sure that I could have gotten the tire changed. But it would have taken a presence of mind that I didn't have at the moment. It was strength that allowed me to say that I needed help and it was love that answered the call. So, even though I didn't change it myself, it takes a strong woman to acknowledge when she could use some help.

The tire that gave me the opportunity to be helped. The little stinker. Tires aren't supposed to be able to sit flat- flat, of course, being the operative word.
Thanks to my husband for following me over to the tire place as soon as he got home and who reminded me that it wasn't a big deal. Thanks to Dawn who let me borrow her car (we have the same one) so that I could go out that night. Thanks for Erik for reminding me again that it is wasn't a big thing. Thanks to the tire guy who checked the rest of my tires and that wanna be tire donut thingy.

{Me, armed crossed, bottom lip stuck out...} I want my car back NOW!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

I am the problem.

I just finished watching an episode of The Daily Show with John Stewart. I admit, I do get a lot of my news updates from this show but don't worry, I understand the pros and cons of this practice so don't write, okay? But, hey, at least I am not listening to the barrage of horror stories that the network news programs call news.
Anyway, he had Daniel Sperling , author of "Two Billion Cars, Driving towards Sustainability" on as a guest. They were talking about alternative energy sources.
I am a big proponent of alternative energy. I always have been. When I was a kid, I wanted to have a windmill in my yard to gather my own energy. I had a plan to sell the excess to the power company. You only need about 7 miles per hour breezes to create energy, if I remember correctly (big IF). I wanted to build an earthship whose foundation is built from aluminum cans and old tires and earth.
Things haven't quite worked out as I imagined them. My Don Quixote phase hasn't quite kicked in and I don't really have the room for a windmill at this point. I am still recycling my Diet Sunkist cans though I realize with as much of that as I drink, I am probably recycling the equilvalent of a bonus room every few months.
But there are a lot of kinds of alternative energy. As this guy, Daniel Sperling, sees fuel cell and plug in electric hybrids as the future. And he says that it wouldn't take much to get us there. He is not a big fan of corn ethanol because it isn't a trifecta win for the environment like the other two.
Well, listening to him, I got pretty excited. There is really hope for us, well at least our cars and fuel consumption- we might just break our foreign oil dependency/ non renewable energy drain. Then I started thinking about how that would fit into my life.
And I realized I am the problem.
First of all, it is not just about having the technology to produce the cars. People have to be able to plug the little suckers in. I live in a townhouse without a garage and therefore, nowhere to plug my car in.
But really, that isn't the biggest problem with me. Because I imagine as we start moving towards this kind of reality, plugs could be part of neighborhoods street curbs. Pull up and plug in.
It would have to be that easy.
But I can't keep my camera battery, my cordless home phone, my laptop, my iPod or my cell phone charged. There is something wrong not with the wiring in my house but rather my brain that keeps me from routinely plugging these things in.
So if I can't do that, even if I overcome the car outlet issue, how can I expect to EVER have enough charge in my car to get me across town, much less all the way across the country? I have to keep my cell phone charger plugged into my car because the likelihood that I will need to charge my phone is high. I don't smoke but between my iPod and cell phone charger, my little lighter/charger in my car is going prematurely gray. Will my cell phone somehow be able to charge my car?
So, yes, I am the problem. I am lazy, or not mindful enough. Am I just to absent minded to change the world? Ugh.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Mine eyes have seen the glory

You know, when you get lost inside of your own darkness, the world loses color.
And I am a color junky. Color shifts my mood. Profoundly. My studio is painted in "Pooh's Favorite Things", which you might expect to be the color of honey but it isn't. Color thrills me.
But they have been lost to me.
I know that the glorious colors that normally inspire me were still around me. But in my world, they were sucked into the black hole of my energy. After going to the doctor the other day, I felt so much more hopeful and energized that I actually felt like going to the grocery store.
I walked in and just fell in love in the produce department. They had just gotten new display fixtures and were starting to fill them with colors! I was blown away. I was smiling and snapping pictures like a fool.
The manager was watching me warily and I knew that he must think I was from another store. I chatted with him for a moment to make him think (rightly) that I was not a grocery spy. And just kept taking pictures.
It made me wonder, if I could have missed the awesomeness of the color riot in the produce dept, then what else I have missed while I was busy being a victim to a list of physical symptoms. What went by that won't be back?
But going to the doctor was a reclamation of my power, an affirmation of self care.
A few years ago, my bestfriend and I went to a personal development program called Legacy. It was a pretty extraordinary experience.
One of the things that came out of that was a statement that has stuck with me. It has been boiled down to "We need the wood." The full sentiment was to get off the cross because we need the wood. No point in being a martyr. We have power and if we give it away, in whatever way, we are a victim.
Going to the doctor was me giving up the cross, even the need for the cross. It was time for me to empower myself, even if I didn't know the way out (see earlier post).
My immediate reward was color. Beauty. Wow. Big fan of immediate gratification. So thanks, Universe.
Thanks for waking me up. Thanks for my billionth 2nd chance. Thanks for the reminder that life is glorious even if I lose sight of it sometimes.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

The way out

Last week was pretty challenging for me.
There were a few things including doctor's and CPA appointments that took a lot energy.
Dealing with stuff that I really don't want to deal with really starts to activate that fight or flee response in me. And lately, I haven't had much fight in me.
As I sat in the doctor's office and all the other patients were called in and some even came back out before I was called, I felt the need for flee.
I had to sit there and remind myself of the quote "The only way out is through."
This statement really intrigues me. I looked up this quote. When I googled this, I got exactly 129,000,000 results. The quote came originally from Robert Frost in A Servant to Servants. His quote is "The best way out is always through."
Looking at some of the other 128,999,999 results, I noticed that this quote has transmuted into "The only way out is through." Not the best way, the only way.
As a Life Coach, I help people with creating paths to their dreams, to things that make their lives meaningful. Just because I have the privilege of doing this for a living, doesn't mean that I don't face my own stuff. (That's why I have my own coach!)
Lately, feeling the weight of getting to the other side so strongly, I decided that through is the only and best way out. I honestly can't think of any other way.
Avoidance hasn't worked for me. Creative alternatives haven't worked for me. Denial hasn't worked.
So last week, I faced down 2 pretty big and bad meanies and I found out that they weren't so big or so bad. They got bigger and scarier in the darkness of my fear.
Maybe the only thing to fear is fear itself.
When I was training at International Coach Academy to become a Certified Professional Coach, I remember them talking about creating a success team for my practice. Who did I need to support me so that I would be successful?
That came back to me when I was sitting in the doctor's waiting (and waiting) room.
I have always believed that you need a good mechanic, doctor and vet. I am adding to that list CPA and Coach. Friends. Family. Doctor. Vet. CPA. Coach. Mechanic. They are the way through.
Through and through and through.
That being said, I have to get the lampshades done. The only way out is through.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Oh Coraline!

My friend, Erik, and I went to see Coraline today.
I know...Tim Burton and stop animation. I was fine with Nightmare before Christmas. I even liked The Corpse Bride. Well, apparently, I don't know. I have since been corrected that this little gruesome tale is not by Tim Burton but by the director of Nightmare before Christmas. Whatever. Birds of a feather.
But oh, my Coraline.
The best word I can use for this movie is disturbing. It isn't the animation. It is the message.
This is no kids movie.
The tag line is Be careful what you wish for. Well in this case, Coraline wishes that people would not call her Caroline and that her parents, who are work obsessed, and to be frank, pretty damn rude to her, would pay attention to her. Wow, what a horrible thing to wish for. I can see why you wouldn't want to wish for that.
To be seen. To be noticed.
Enter Alice's little door to another where mom and dad actually love spending time with their daughter and people can actually correctly pronounce her name. Have homemade meals. Plant gardens together. Things are magically, in a weird way, but magical.
Enter Mommy Dearest. Mom is not loving and she is a total psycho monster. Dead kids and sewing buttons over eyes. Mouths sewn closed. Husband who is apparently a pumpkin. Dolls that are the Eye of Sauron in the dark stop motion world. There is the stuffing of dogs and Coraline's only salvation lands up being a cat.
I am rambling because I can't get my head around this.
At dinner tonight, my best friend Dawn and my husband were talking about how they both hate The Wizard of Oz. I didn't have to watch it every year when it came on and to be honest the Lobby Pop Gang creep me out. But I can appreciate the rest of it. There is a big world out there to explore but don't forget to appreciate what's in your own backyard.
Dawn can't get past the Flying Monkeys. Stuart says that the moral of the story is that you should give up your dreams and just like what you have, no matter what. I disagree with that.
But Coraline...I truly cannot see the value in its message. It seems to take whatever you have because if you hope for more, if you hope for validation and being accepted and appreciated, then you are risking going through hell. Give up those ideas. Stay where you are because some day, when those you care about and love have a moment that is convenient to them, they just might throw you an emotional crumb. AAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHH!
Give me a break.
Sorry, Coraline, I am giving you 2 stop motion thumbs down.

Monday, February 2, 2009

energy booster

If you are a believer in the Law of Attraction or any of the teachings of people like Eckhart Tolle or Jack Canfield or myriad of others, then you will have heard that gratitude is a big energy shifter.
There is a really cool little app in the app store for your iPhone or iPod Touch called Gratitude Journal. I am guessing you can figure out what it is, uh?
Every night my little alarm is set to remind me to be grateful. And some days, I really need reminding.
A few days ago, I was grateful that I am permitted to be angry for there are certainly many in many cultures who are not.
Gratitude slows me down. Not in a bad way. In a in the moment kind of way. I am able to remember that I am grateful to have my friends and family, my iPod and comfy bed. My pets and a clear sky or a rainy day. I am grateful that I am not homeless and that I can help those who are. I am grateful that I have the means to go to the doctor when I am not well and grateful that sometimes they even figure out why. I am grateful that people are creative and come up with great little apps for my iPod like Alien Swarm so that I never have to put quarters in a Galaga game in the movie theater lobby again. I am grateful for the fact that I am aligned with some majorly awesome people...people who don't just think that changing the world is a good idea, but who are actually doing it. Globally. I am grateful for all of the support I get in life and for the way that my little dog, Indy, points his front paws up when he stretches out. I am grateful for second chances and really grateful that people like to get things that I make. I am grateful for the kindnesses of others. I am really grateful for little bird tracks in the snow, how my Charlie dog sounds like a horse stampeding when he runs wide open and how my cat Jesse can now sleep on the bed, on my husband's side, for the entire night. I am grateful for adventure and for Java Chip (more to come about those) and baristas who make them best, thanks, Chelsea. I am grateful that I don't give up when I don't know or am not satisfied. I am grateful for those who kindly do my painting for me. I am grateful for being called "Aunt" by kids who aren't related to me by blood but who are by choice. I am grateful for good movies and cheesy tv shows. And my terrain jane shoes. I am grateful for colors, especially lime green and periwinkle. I am grateful that while hurt might linger the details rarely do. I am grateful for mornings and for sunsets. And fireflies. And for the night that Dawn and I saw thousands of them flying higher than I knew they could. I am grateful for others' belief in my ability to fly higher than I think I can. I am grateful for great yarn and pumpkins. I am grateful for toasted walnuts and toasted thick cut tomato basil bread from Panera's. I am grateful that it is about time for bed and that my husband has to walk the dogs for the last time today. I am grateful for Target and all the organizing stuff they carry. I am grateful for my nap buddy, Bella who might be one of the tiniest meows in the kitty kingdom and the sweetest little girl. I am grateful for hug pillows and snow days. I am grateful for Life Coaches and artists and people who go their way. I am grateful. I am so grateful.

The Rise and Fall of the Purple Bombardier

When we were kids, my family used to travel from NJ to MA for Christmas and we would always stop at a Howard Johnson's in Connecticut. Clam rolls. It was tradition. It marked our halfway mark and got my parents out of a station wagon loaded with suitcases for 5, one boxer, countless presents and 3 kids that didn't have DVDs or iPods to entertain them on a long trip.
I think that these trees, which line our street, are the Howard Johnson's for flocks of cedar wax wings and hordes of robins that cruise through here somewhere between New Years and Valentine's Day. The blue plate special of the bird world. The birds get busy and start eating. And eating. And inviting their friends. And eat some more.
A neighbor and I talked the other morning while her dog, Liza and my little guys, Indy and Charlie, played and ran together. I kept looking up. Walking out my front door is like walking into the soundtrack of The Birds. Incessant twittering and movement. The leaves rattle and if you focus, you can pick out the sound of what appears to be rain. I commented on the sound and she seemed surprised and a little grossed out when I told her what the rain sound was on that beautiful Carolina Blue Sky day. Purple Rain. I am pretty sure that this is not what Prince had in mind. Well, at least I hope not.
We are what we eat. And when hundreds of birds eat purple berries, you get purple poop. And lots of it.
These birds stay for a couple of weeks. Or maybe it is different groups coming in shifts. But they are all gone when the berries are gone. They strip those bushes clean.
Only then it is safe to wash the car again.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

a stitch in time

Before I say anything else, I must say that I absolutely have NOT asked for nor secured permission to use these photos. I also didn't take them. Hey, Beth, you sent them to me and that means I get to show the world our little sweetie, right?
This is Kylie. She is my adopted niece, the daughter of one of my best friends, Beth. I was knitting a little bolero sweater for Kylie for Christmas. Time got tight and I had a lot to do so I went out and bought something for Kylie with the intention of finishing the sweater after Christmas. I mean, after all, the kid is 15 months old, today I believe. How long could a sweater for a child that size take?
As it turns out, a fair while if you keep ripping out the stitches or redoing whole sections. The sweater is done now. It was mailed off last week. They should probably get it tomorrow. Blah, blah, blah.
But something occurred to me. In a way that it never has before.
Time goes pretty damn fast.
We say that as we get older, time goes faster. We can't keep up with our lives. There are too many things to do in too little time.
I confess, I am not a big fan of linear time. Never have been. In fact, I have my own measure of time...BN. Before Now. It helps me dispense with figuring out when something happened. I can remember asking in a history class if we had to remember the dates. Hm. I should have known then. I don't remember what grade I was in. Surely you wouldn't expect me to.
I remember the sit-in that I led outside the principle's office. We sat for a good reason. Girls weren't allowed to play kick ball on the kick ball field. Yeah, I know, I am old. No news flash there. It was a peaceful and successful demonstration. Sexism on the kick ball field was forever banished on the playground of Walter M Schirra Elementary School. The boys accepted it with some measure of grace until the girls kicked their butts and gave up playing at all.
That was the year that I earned the nickname "Iron Toes". The next year I also gained "Twinkle Toes". Just what every girl wants to be known for...her toe abilities.
I remember that my eldest niece, Melissa, plugged a black olive on each of her tiny little fingers and laughed hysterically. She is now months away from becoming a teacher.
I remember moments not dates.
So finishing Kylie's sweater 6 weeks later than planned didn't seem like a big deal. It's just 6 weeks, after all.
Then it hit me. The size of the sweater is 12 to 18 months. Tick tock. Will it even fit her? I took my sweet time making the sweater but Kylie is not taking her sweet time growing. I hope it still fits her when she gets it.
My point is that we think that so much happens in our adult worlds. But I think we should be really experienced with this. One day we have never walked and then the next we have. We never had solid food and then Cheerios are a major food group. Toothless then chomping. Our time is busy because we make it that way but children are actually doing some really important stuff.
I have a belief that it is kids that age us. I don't have any so I don't see the passing of time the way parents do. Because for me, 18 and completely in love with David, a man 9 years my elder, was BN but not by a lot. Even if it was almost 30 (gasp) years ago.
I asked my mom when you feel grown up. She told me "I'll let you know." She was about 65 at the time.
So, Kylie, I hope you enjoy your sweater, sweetie. Soon it won't fit and I will make you another. You are doing important work and I hope that it keeps you warm while you are busy growing. And isn't growing our true work in life? When we stop growing, yeah, we can keep our clothes longer but we also tend to keep beliefs and attitudes that no longer fit just to maintain status quo. May you keep growing your whole life long, Kylie. It's makes all the difference.