31 October 2011

Repeat the Sound of Joy

A couple of Novembers ago, I wrote a Gratitude Post everyday for thirty days.

November 1, 2008:
My first post, in a line of 30 other posts, was titled - "I Won A Major Prize!"
I just went back and read it again. I'm pretty good. http://myscarletletters.blogspot.com/2008/11/most-wonderful-time-of-year-is-cresting.html

I decided a couple weeks ago, that this would be good year to do it again.

Everyday for the month of November, the month of Giving Thanks, I will take a moment each day and post something here for which I am truly thankful.

I believe deeply in the power of Gratitude. If Gratitude were a religion, I'd sing in the choir. Alto section.

But instead of a religion, Gratitude can be your spirituality if you choose. I try to choose Gratitude as much as I can. (Some days it's harder than others, of course. But 'in general' and all that.)

Now since deciding to commit to 'Grateful through out the month of November' again this year, a few things have come up. Figures. Including one other month long commitment.

But I've decided that this is okay. A greater challenge, yes, but I'm short and wiry and up for the duration.

I may not paint my nails all month.
I might not have time to wash my hair, balance my check book to the penny or get my toes kissed as often as I'm accustomed, but it's just for thirty days, no?

So Happy November's Eve.
I hope to see you here tomorrow.

"I can do it."

18 October 2011


I remember my daughter coming home from school a number of years ago using the word 'random' to excess. Suddenly everything was random. And it drove me crazy. (Do you remember "like" from the eighties? Do you remember "like" from last week?)

Random was a perfectly good word before everyone started throwing it around all misappropriation-like. I called foul! 'Vocabulary Abuse.'

"Wow, that was so random!" she would exclaim.
I love you Sweetie, but if you say 'random' one more time tonight I'm going to do something, I'm not sure what. But when I'm done, you'll be saying "Wow, that was so premeditated!"

There are some blog posts for which there is no rhyme or reason. So naturally, today as this one was cooking in my head I kept thinking of the word 'random' but the vocabulary trauma I've sustained is too great and I just can't use it for my title. Besides deep down, I am not sure I believe in random. Quite the opposite, in fact.

That being said....

  • Lately my hair has a will of its own. And it seems no matter what I do, I still walk out the door each day with a bit of Glenn Close from Fatal Attraction going on. It really has no correlation with my energy, so if you pass my in the hall try not to be frightened. I promise I will not harm you in any way. No retraining order needed. Your pet rabbit is safe with me.

  • Today I sat in a restaurant enjoying a quiet bit of breakfast when I noticed that Bonnie Raitt was singing Angel From Montgomery "Just give me one thing that I can hold onto," from the speakers over my head. Then Joni Mitchel sang Help Me, "I think I'm falling in love again. When I get that crazy feeling, I know I'm in trouble again." After genius Joni, the Beatles came on and I'm thinking this is going to be a good day! I can feel it. As soon as I leave here, I'm going to go buy a lottery ticket. But then the Eagles began Desperado. "I hate the fucking Eagles, man!" Enough said.

  • I spoke to someone earlier who works in a public library; he said today he overheard a teen boy and teen girl talking in the stacks. And everything was 'epic.' This book is so epic, that book is so epic. Then the boy picks up a book and says, "This is kind of epic."

  • In spite of the aforementioned Eagles, today was a better day than yesterday. For this I am grateful.

  • Fall Colors: Time to change from Pompeii Purple to An Affair In Red Square.

  • Today I walked past a huge bin of books that are to be disposed. On the top of the pile was the book: The Care of Fine Books
Remind me you're out there, when you get a moment.

15 October 2011

Where Did I Put My Barbie Mask?

I can't remember the source but once I heard a statistic about people's greatest fear. It was years ago and I was probably sitting at my desk in the corner of my room with the mindless drone of the television somewhere behind me.

According to the survey people's number one fear is being found out as a fraud.
Without another word of explanation, I understood exactly. A bell rang within me.

You'd think the number one fear in our country would be death or physical suffering, the loss of a loved one, economic failure or if the commercials are to be believed that you be found drinking an uncool brand of beer or driving an inferior car. But the minute the news reporter or commentator said fraud, I knew.

It is not fraud as in embezzlement or scamming an insurance company. Nor mail fraud or bank fraud. But something perhaps more common and insidious.

Roughly, the definition of fraud is a deliberate deception of another to obtain something unjustly.

So if our greatest fear is that someone discover that we are a fraud then we must have a sense that we are frauds already. We must believe it our self. I think I find it amazing that people were willing to even admit this as a fear. But upon hearing the statistic, I knew it was me. That I feel like a fraud. On a very basic, functional level everything feels like an act. A front. That the real stuff is too raw and frightening to reveal. But that mostly we do not let ourselves think about it. That we have to behave in a certain manner to be allowed. To exist.

But that if we showed our true center, we would not be allowed.

One of the most startling quotes I've ever read is by Marianne Williamson:

"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.' We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There's nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we're liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others." (A Return to Love: Reflections on the Principles of "A Course in Miracles", Harper Collins, 1992. From Chapter 7, Section 3])

Somehow these two are related within me. Connected. Even as they seem to stand in direct opposition of each other, I feel a fuzzy symbiotic relationship.

It's true; my greatest fear is to be discovered a fraud and that I am powerful beyond measure.

I have yet to work this out. Does this resonate with you at all? Or am I barking?

13 October 2011

Things We Said Today

Is there any better way to start a blog post than with a Beatles' title? I think we both know the answer to that question.

Lately I've given a lot of thought to all the things we tend not to say.
The truth we tend not to tell.

For instance, and this is a purely hypothetical scenario, say you have a co-worker that you consider a friend. A welcome smile in the murky Black Sea of the work place. This friend is someone you genuinely enjoy. Someone with whom you get along well. And easily. The jokes come freely and frequently. You may actually depend on this person to make your job more tolerable. Hypothetically, of course.

But then suddenly, you realize it's been a couple days since you've heard from this person. You don't run into each other in the same way you usually do. You shoot a clever, irreverent email but there's no reply. You wait a bit. Who knows, right? Sometimes people have bad days, bad weeks, bad careers at work. They don't feel like being social, cheerful and such. Sometimes people take vacations. Are out sick. Right? Right.

More time goes by but somehow things do not feel the same. You begin to suspect that maybe something is 'wrong.' Did I say something to offend this person? Did I step over some invisible line?

Now, keep in mind that this purely hypothetical person is NOT a close personal friend. They are, however, one of your favorite people at work. Someone with whom you can't wait to joke about some ridiculous thing. A person with whom it's okay to be yourself within the social restraints of work. But this is not someone with whom you can sit down and trust with your heart wide open. And now this is a problem.

Because with that intimate, personal friend you can say the words "Feels like something's up between us. Things feel different and I want to make sure we're all good. Did I hurt your feelings? Or offend you some how?" With a good friend you should be able to do this. (Although I'm not sure how often we do...)

I believe in this type of honesty. I love clear air. If I care for someone and I believe they care for me, then the air between us becomes priority. Even urgent, at times. I have the most difficult time with things that hang in the air between myself and someone that I like and appreciate.

I don't give a shit about things that hang in the air between myself and the asshole who cut me off in traffic five seconds ago.
Between myself and the people at work who seem to go out of their way to make my job more frustrating and difficult.
Between myself and someone who has proven them self to be a small, overcompensating, arrogant prick. The air between those people and me can be filled with the entire contents of the Smithsonian for all I care.

But for those people whom I appreciate and treasure, on whatever level, clear air is my goal. I hate, hate, hate the feeling that something is off with someone for whom I'm grateful. It will keep me up at night. Drive me to distraction, wracking my brain trying to figure out what I might have said or not said. Done or not done that may have left something in the air between us.

The problem inherent with this hypothetical situation, along with many actual situations just like it, is a social expectation for deception. We are actually expected to lie.

"Hey, Erika. I haven't heard from you in a while. Is every thing okay? Are you upset with me?"

You and I both know that the expected reply to a question such as this is an adamant, "No, no. I'm fine. Everything is good." Even if the truth is something completely different.

Seriously, what is Erika going to say? "Well now that you mention it, I am quite pissed at you." Right. Who really speaks truth in such cases?

Now my purpose in this post is not to vent about someone at work (so stop trying to figure it out), I said hypothetical remember? But instead to express my sadness that we can't just talk to each other. That we are discouraged from being true. So many layers of social correctness. Our ever-present social shields standing strong to protect us from genuine interactions that might put us at risk.

Do you ever wish you could just speak straight to someone? Because they're worth it. Because you are. Just release the restraints. Then trust that they can take it? Do you wish? I do.

06 October 2011

Don't Believe Everything You Think

I 'blog' almost constantly. In my head.
A running monologue. An unequal mix of Johnny Carson, Jerry Seinfeld, Janeane Garofalo and Tony Shaloub as Monk.

My mind is continually talking to you here, in the form of a potential blog post topic. They all start with a slow simmer, I add a few more ingredients: pinches and splashes of stuff to bolster the basic mixture. Turn up the heat. Until we are at a rolling boil.

But more often than not, by the time I sit down to write, or dish up, the stew has become cold and congealed. There are very few things in the world that are better in their congealed form. I don't even like typing the word congealed. So no more of that.

Where is the Mother of Invention when I need her?

No one appreciates new gadgety technology more than I do. Actually that is not true. Most everyone appreciates it more than I do. Is it ironic that I work in IT but am mostly just annoyed with new tech stuff? Or is it just a coincidence? (Can you explain the difference?)

That being said, when someone invents the software or app or whatever that will convert my thinking directly into my blog, or a best selling novel or whatever, that is when I will be happy to stand in the glorious Seattle rain, outside Best Buy all night to be the first in line. Debit or Credit?

Did you know that in my head there are no 'whatevers' at all?

As a matter of fact, in my head, all of my prose (on my blogs or elsewhere) is perfectly spelled, punctuated and appropriately grammarized. I am ever witty, clever and original. Each point eloquently articulate and fascinating. In my head.

And even when I do manage to get something down on paper. Okay not paper, but you know what I mean. It often feels like a mess of mixed metaphors and dangling participles. What happened to the way it was laid out in my head? Who thinks up this shit?