22 November 2012

Thanksgiving; A Spiritual Practice


Thanksgiving, November, this time of year, in general, is probably my favorite. The holidays, the chill in the air, the turn of the weather, the leaves floating and falling.... a season of gratitude.

And it just doesn't feel like there can ever be too much gratitude....


In her article The Seven Best Gratitude Quotes, (published November 23, 2011 in The Mindful Self-Express) Melanie A. Greenberg writes...

Gratitude is an integral part of a spiritual practice. 
Develop a gratitude practice to open your heart and rewire your brain. 

Gratitude Quotes 
  • "Let us be grateful to people who make us happy; they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom." - Marcel Proust 
  • "We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures." - Thornton Wilder 
  • As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them. John F. Kennedy 
  • At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us. Albert Schweitzer 
  • The deepest craving of human nature is the need to be appreciated.
-- William James 
  • "Be thankful for what you have; you'll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don't have, you will never, ever have enough."
-- Oprah Winfrey 
  • He is a wise man who does not grieve for the things which he has not, but rejoices for those which he has." - Epictetus 


How to Bring Gratitude into Your Life 


To begin bringing gratitude into your life, you can deliberately meditate on all the things in your own life that help you or give you pleasure. You can also write a gratitude diary, posting pictures and writing about the things you feel grateful for each day. The holidays are a great time to express your gratitude to friends and family by writing cards and exchanging thoughtful, personal gifts. Baking cookies for neighbors or sharing food with the poor are other ways to express appreciation for the abundance of food that we have in this country. Gratitude can lead to feelings of love, appreciation, generosity and compassion, which further open our hearts and help rewire our brains to fire in more positive ways.

The Seven Best Gratitude Quotes; by Melanie A. Greenburg 
Published November 23, 2011 in The Mindful Self-Express






And because I find searching for quotes on gratitude to be a bit addictive, 
here are a few more from www.quotegarden.com/gratitude

The struggle ends when the gratitude begins. 
Neale Donald Walsch

Silent gratitude isn't much use to anyone. 
G.B. Stern

If you want to turn your life around, try thankfulness. It will change your life mightily.
Gerald Good

I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought.  
G.K. Chesterton

Praise the bridge that carried you over. 
George Colman

There is no such thing as gratitude unexpressed. If it is unexpressed, it is plain, old-fashioned ingratitude. 
Robert Brault

Grace isn't a little prayer you chant before receiving a meal. It's a way to live. 

Attributed to Jacqueline Winspear

Not what we say about our blessings, but how we use them, is the true measure of our thanksgiving. 

W.T. Purkiser

As each day comes to us refreshed and anew, so does my gratitude renew itself daily. 

Terri Guillemets

When eating bamboo sprouts, remember the man who planted them.

~ Chinese Proverb

Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.

~ William Arthur Ward

Most human beings have an almost infinite capacity for taking things for granted. 

~ Aldous Huxley

If the only prayer you said in your whole life was, "thank you," that would suffice. 

~ Meister Eckhart

The unthankful heart... discovers no mercies; but let the thankful heart sweep through the day and, as the magnet finds the iron, so it will find, in every hour, some heavenly blessings!  

Henry Ward Beecher

The Pilgrims made seven times more graves than huts. No Americans have been more impoverished than these who, nevertheless, set aside a day of thanksgiving.  

H.U. Westermayer


For each new morning with its light,
For rest and shelter of the night,

For health and food, for love and friends,
For everything Thy goodness sends.

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson


Do not take anything for granted — not one smile or one person or one rainbow or one breath, or one night in your cozy bed. 
Terri Guillemets

There is no greater difference between men than between grateful and ungrateful people. 

R.H. Blyth

We often take for granted the very things that most deserve our gratitude.

Cynthia Ozick

The only people with whom you should try to get even are those who have helped you. 

John E. Southard

Who does not thank for little will not thank for much. 

~ Estonian Proverb

Gratitude is a quality similar to electricity: it must be produced and discharged and used up in order to exist at all. 

~ William Faulkner

You say grace before meals. All right. But I say grace before the concert and the opera, and grace before the play and pantomime, and grace before I open a book, and grace before sketching, painting, swimming, fencing, boxing, walking, playing, dancing and grace before I dip the pen in the ink.  

~ G.K. Chesterton

Two kinds of gratitude: The sudden kind we feel for what we take; the larger kind we feel for what we give. 

Edwin Arlington Robinson

With arms outstretched I thank. With heart beating gratefully I love. With body in health I jump for joy. With spirit full I live.

~Terri Guillemets




Saying thank you is more than good manners. 
 It is good spirituality. 
~ Alfred Painter

13 August 2012

Marcella

It's happened again. Someone slipped out of my life when I was paying inadequate attention. The last time this happened, when Pete died a few years ago, I swore it would not happen again. That those very few, but priceless and pivotal people in my life would be fully aware of my gratitude for them. For their energy. For their light. For their influence.
That my appreciation would not go unspoken.

There are simply some people that I cannot imagine my life without. Marcella was one of those people. An unusual gem and source of endless support and love and encouragement. She was one of the most forgiving and non-judgmental people I've ever known. She was far more forgiving of me than I've ever been. It was easier to breathe when I was around Marcella. Which is so funny, as she toted oxygen around with her. Air on a tether.
I hope I was half the blessing to her that she's been to me. And I'm so, so guilty that it had been so long since I'd last seen her. Me, living my ordinary life, just assuming her presence in my world. I see that these words here are about me. For me. But grief is like that. And if it's easier to stay in a place of self-loathing and self-pity for a bit, instead of just letting myself feel the raw and painful sadness, then so be it.
Marcella, thank you so much. I miss you so.

31 July 2012

Tuesday's Child


I was born on a Tuesday. July 24, 1962.

According to 'Monday's Child,' the classic children's poem, Tuesday's child is full of grace.


Monday’s child is fair of face,
Tuesday’s child is full of grace,
Wednesday’s child is full of woe,
Thursday’s child has far to go,
Friday’s child is loving and giving,
Saturday’s child works hard for a living,
And the child that is born on the Sabbath day
Is bonny and blithe, and good and gay.


You knew this about me, right?
Who hasn't heard that phrase....  "Oh yeah, that Barbie! She's so full of grace."


1962:
JFK was president.
On the Chinese calendar, the Year of the Tiger.
The Rolling Stones debuted. 
To Kill a Mockingbird was in theaters.
Marilyn Monroe died.
Julia Child first appeared on television.
Ringo Starr replaced Pete Best as Beatles' drummer.
John Glenn orbited the earth.

Closer to home, Seattle hosted The Century 21 Exposition.
More commonly known as the 1962 World's Fair and the opening of the Space Needle.
For her 50th birthday, The Space Needle was recently painted Galaxy Gold.

Fifty years later, 2012, July 24th fell again on a Tuesday and I'm 50 years old.

I could see it coming from a distance. My 50th birthday. Peeking at me from the horizon. Of course I wanted a celebration. But I felt some pressure to make it my celebration. Something specifically appropriate for me. Symbolically radiating my energy.

There would be a couple of events to commemorate the actual day:
An evening gathering with friends.
A sweet 'Barbie-esque' family occasion.

Such memorable birthday celebrations are wonderful, but still I sought something more. Short of painting myself Galaxy Gold, I was sure there was a unique idea waiting just out of my creative reach.


A few months ago, in a casual conversation completely unrelated to birthday thoughts, I happened to mention to someone at work that I'd never ridden on a Harley Davidson. Other motorcycles, sure. I'd even driven a dirt bike back in high school.  But that I'd never even been on a Harley. We continued our friendly discussion and after, I didn't think about it much.

Then a few days later, that co-worker came over to my department and said "Justin said he'd give you a ride on his Harley!!"
"Justin? Over in delivery 'Justin?'"
"Yeah, Justin."
"I didn't know he had a Harley."

Now, other than the occasional "Hi, how ya doing?" in the halls at work and the fact that his wife is one of my favorite co-workers, I didn't know Justin and Justin didn't know me.
But I'm game, right? Right. I went to him to make sure he'd felt no pressure and he convinced me that he was fine with it. We'd pencil it in for a few weeks out.

Then this single 'Thing I've Never Done' (riding on a Harley), sprouted and took root.

My mind began to wander.
"What other things have I never done??  Hmmmm?"
Thinking...
"Well, let's see...I've never traveled anywhere by train." 
It was kind of fun, this line of thought.
"What else?"
More thinking...
"Ummm, I've never gambled in a casino." 
It became a welcome and energizing distraction, this mental list. My imagination began to act like Hermione Granger when a professor asked a question, to which of course she knew the answer. The right hand of my imagination shot up in the air.."Oh, I know! I know! I've never flown first class!" 
Things snowballed from there.
"I've never been in a hot air balloon."
Mental click..
"WAIT! My 50th birthday!. I'll come up with 50 things I've never done before and do them in my 50th year!"
And the angels sang in joyous harmony................."Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Fa la la la la, la la la la!"

50 New Things in the next 52 weeks.
So that's the plan. The plan that rang bells within me the moment it gasped its first breath!!

I'm so excited! Who knows what lies ahead..??
Fifty Shades of Galaxy Gold?

I have more to write about the plan, the couple of non-rules, the recruitment and inclusion of my Band of Merry Followers, Friends, Pranksters. The Dream Team. Their role. Their generosity of spirit and passion.

Here is the link to the 50 New Things blog.... http://barbies50newthings.blogspot.com/
The inaugural post there is a duplicate of this one, as I sent the new link directly to most of you.

Please join me at 50 New Things for further details....right now I need to go write about The Very First of My 50 New Things, which happened a couple days ago!! (Things are happening faster than I can write.....)

You know, I have no problem turning 50. I'm elated, in fact. Maybe that's because I still think of myself as a child. Tuesday's Child.

Thanks for reading.  Love ~ B

03 July 2012

Connor and the Pink Peony

Recently, at the end of a long drive with Connor and Colton in my car, we pull into Papa Lynn's driveway. I have to drive very slow, attempting to successfully circumnavigate the impressive potholes, of which I'm not sure I can actually see the bottom.

About half way down the drive, I spot a splash of pale pink peaking at us across the top of the field of crazy-tall, free-range grass that used to be my children's front yard. I stop the car.

"Connor. Look," I say, pointing out the car window, to the far corner of the house. "See that flower WAAAAY over there?"
"Yeah, BB," he says.
"That's a pink peony. See it? It's BB's favorite flower."
"Your favorite flower?" he repeats.
"Yep, pink peonies. My favorite."

We pull the rest of the way up the drive, away from the lone pink bloom, as Connor tells me that he doesn't like pink flowers. They are not his favorite. He likes white flowers.


When the ride comes to a full and complete stop, Connor unbuckles himself and jumps out of the car, heading straight for all the stray and strewn Tonka and Tonka-Wanna-Be tractors he left along the gravel walk the last time he was there.

The well-loved and thoroughly abused toys are dirty, bent, peeling and broken. Also, formerly his father's.

There's a grader, a backhoe, a couple dump trucks, a bulldozer and a crane.

The crane is in the worst shape. Poor thing, more moving parts and all. Wheels that won't turn, broken "glass" in the cab, hopelessly knotted cable to control the rusted 'claw' at the end of the bent and double-jointed metal arm.

Connor begins managing and maneuvering equipment for some fantastical construction scenario that only he has the powers to see.

At the same time, I manage and maneuver my own objective: unbuckling Colton, who is not as adept at "Car Seat Escapery" as his older and more 'time-out' prone older brother.

As his parents pull into the driveway a few minutes later, Connor is busy fiddling and fussing with the intricacies of the crane. It seems odd to me that this most broken of the construction vehicles has drawn his unwavering attention. 'Hello' and 'How did it go?' exchanges with my fellow adults, standing by the cars, Connor at our feet.

Connor's dad bends down to see if he can aid the attempt to get this vehicle mobile once more. Eventually, crane straightened out to Connor's satisfaction, on all fours and ready to roll, Connor stands up and yanks the crane by the claw, trying to pull the whole thing behind him. Like a wagon.

It promptly falls over and slides along the wet grass on its side, behind the three year old.

"Connor, hang on," calls his father. "Let's fix it so you can pull it easier." Connor keeps walking. "Connor, wait."
But off he goes, dragging the crane through the thick jungle grass and around the corner of the house to the front yard.

Dad scrambles to catch the boy who is arguing over his shoulder, at the top of his lungs, when he sees his father getting close.

"Connor, don't drag it through the grass. Tip it back over." But to no avail.

Then Dad is diverted by Colton, the nearly-two year old, who is heading for the mail box, near the road.

It's like the two boys had a conversation in the car before we pulled into the driveway.
"Okay, Colton, you distract everyone by heading for traffic and then I'll get to slide off the radar and get away with whatever I want." To which Colton says, "Uh!" And the deal is sealed.

From a distance, I follow Connor around the corner and all along the front of the house. Maintaining a space between us that keeps him from feeling threatened by the possibility of unnecessary adult intervention. The rusty metals edges and corners of the toy catching clumps of grass and dirt as it clunks along behind the determined boy.

I figure he is either headed for the tire swing that is so old and tired now, it scrapes the dirt beneath it when you dare to make it swing. The Old Tired Swing.

Or he is headed around the next corner as well, to circle the entire house. (A well-worn track he never tires of.)

When we get almost to the corner, by Papa Lynn's bedroom window, instead of staying on the grass, Connor starts walking straight into the muddy and soggy flower bed.
(Calling this area a 'flower bed' is an exercise in blind faith, as it is completely overgrown with shrubs and bushes and this one puny little peony plant with a single pink blossom.)

I try to get him back on the grass but he dodges my reach and tromps right into the mushy earth.

His dad heads our way, telling the three year old to get out of the flower bed.

Stopped now, with all his strength Connor works and works to get the rusty hinge of the claw to loosen. Working it opened and closed.

As we stand near the pink flower that I pointed out to him earlier, Connor clamps the jaw of the crane's claw onto the stem of the pink peony. Just below the full and boisterous head, he tugs with everything he has.
"No, Connor," his dad says. "Don't pick the flower. That's Papa Lynn's flower."

"Actually, it's not Papa Lynn's," I say. "I planted that peony when I lived here. It's mine." Then looking down at the crane operator, I nod. "It's okay, Connor. You can have the flower. Go ahead."

He yanks on the plant with the jaws of the bent and rusted steel (or whatever Tonka Knock-offs are made of) and the head of the bloom pops off. Connor pulls it from the clamp's teeth and hands it to me. "Here BB!"

My favorite flower. My single most favorite flower of all time.



02 July 2012

Okay, It's not krumping exactly, but still...I want dance credit!

I am kind of known for hating a big surprise.

If you ask me why this is, I'll look you straight in the face and say that it's because I love looking forward to something, at least as much as I like the something itself.

Which is technically true but kind of like the 'rationalization-flavored' frosting atop the real reason cake.

I have a tiny little control freak as the network administrator of my mind. Don't scold me; I'm working on it.

As uncomfortable as it can be for me when others surprise me with some grand event (I said, "I'm working on it!!"), I get a huge rush when I surprise myself. I love when this happens.

Taking oneself by surprise. Impossible to orchestrate that, but I sing and twirl when it happens......even (and I have witnesses) in the rain on the loading dock.


23 June 2012

"I'm off at 4:00"

During the scary parts of a movie, I hide my eyes.

Sometimes from behind my hands, I strategically peek through my fingers.

Or I’ll pull a blanket up to my face and peer over the edge.

If it’s really scary, I squint through the weave of the blanket.

Other times I’ll bring the collar of my jams up over my nose, just beneath my eyes. Because the monster or dragon can’t get me if I’m just barely watching.

Like my grandson who thinks if he hides his eyes from you, that you can’t see him.

Everyone I’ve talked to about the movie ‘We Bought a Zoo’ really likes it. Most love it. Me, too. I imagine if I took a formal or informal survey, that no one would say there are any scary parts to this movie.

Okay, maybe it is a bit frightening that the care and feeding of the cherished child cherub, Rosie, is left to the two struggling male family members. But clearly, she is magic and their tendencies will not have the power to drag her down. She will instead continue to shine light where ever she smiles. So that’s not the scary part for me.

There is a lot I could write about this movie:
Profound points to discuss, important but uncommonly known life lessons, an abundance of dazzling quotes to scoop up.

I can see five or six different ‘Zoo’ blog posts, in my future.
Perhaps on topics such as:
  • Recognizing the posture of a “quittin’ man”
  • MacCready’s speech about ‘thieves of the spirit’
  • Weathering the trials in order to enjoy the triumphs
  • The laziest word in this century
  • Twenty Seconds of insane courage
  • Attempting to bottle the infectious energy of the real estate agent
  • A completely innocent fascination with MacCready’s kilt. (The same fascination I had for it in Braveheart.)
Today, however, I’m writing on just one point. The one that made me hide my face the first time I watched this movie.

I’ve started a whole new collection of favorite movies. And movie quotes. New-to-me movies and their associated quotes.

This one for starters: "It's a new day for you, Mr. Mee….’New’ is the new ‘Old.’”

We Bought a Zoo was the first flick to make the new collection and so holds a special spot for me. The timing was serendipitous.

So, what could have possibly been the scary part for me? Watching thirteen year old, Lily. The blonde, courageous and crazy-bold young girl who helps with the animals and works at the zoo restaurant.

I can’t do it. I can't watch this sweet, pure child, head-on. This magical and special creature. She's too familiar. Biting the edge of my blanket. The bell rings in my head and I can't hear anything except alarms going off. All I can see is the pain, dead ahead. I see myself in this child. Standing right out there with her heart in her hand, offering it up freely. For everyone to see. It's painful to watch her risk so bravely.

I want to jump in front of her, block the inevitable betrayals and obliteration ahead.

"Don't do it, Lily!"

"Stop, do not show your spirit so openly. This honest, hopeful, faith will not be honored, Lily. Don't do it."

"Protect yourself. Hide your heart away, Sweetie."

"This is not a good idea, magic child. There is no one worthy."

Lily is not the first. I’ve run across ‘this girl’ before but didn’t recognize the uncomfortable feeling in my chest until I saw We Bought a Zoo. There’s Julie and Kaylee, just two recent examples.
Julianna Baker, in the book Flipped by Wendelin Van Draanen. (And movie too.)
Kaylee, the mechanic aboard Serenity in the series Firefly.

Each of these girls put themselves right out there. Causing me to wince when I see them so vulnerable. So trusting.

The story line of a girl who is drawn to a boy, for reasons she may not understand, and tells him so, in one way or another. Watching these sweet, believing spirits expose themselves so freely, each to individuals completely unworthy of the offering. Offering her heart, her laughter, her undeserved devotion. She presents herself, wholly open and holding nothing back.

She can be found in movie/book portrayals pretty often, but she’s rarely the heroine. She’s usually the goofy best friend. The typical lead female character is tough and ‘strong’ and she plays aloof, indifferent, ‘hard to get.’

In another movie recommended to me recently, I heard this quote: “You are not supposed to show him your regular self until you’ve been married five years." This is what our culture tells us is smart. We are socially trained to hide our hearts away.

For the most part, the ‘Lily’ character in any story is seen as weak or stupid because she puts herself out there. We feel sorry for her. Poor thing. Because we know what’s coming.

Julianna in Flipped, takes a long time to learn the lesson but eventually pulls back because the price of pain is just more than she can bear.

Kaylee in Firefly, so blatantly crazy about the so blatantly oblivious and unworthy doctor aboard her cherished ship, portrays it dead on.

Kathleen Kelly (the exception to the observation above about leading ladies) in You've Got Mail
lives with her heart right out loud.

But I didn’t realize the mirror I was looking into with these women, until I watched We Bought a Zoo. An eye-witness to how Lily holds her heart out to the brooding, dark, too-cool Dylan and realizing why I literally hurt inside when I watch or read these women. She's just too close to home.

Watch the scenes with Dylan and Lily. See how he gives her nothing. NOTHING. For all her shine and light, he gives her nothing in return. He just absorbs the offering, with an edgy smirk on his face. Yet she believes so completely, that she's still remains all in.
Is she embarrassingly brave? Or insanely foolish?

I've always done this. Walk right up. Show my hand. “Look here. See who I am and how I feel.”

Poker players (and most everyone else) would scoff at such foolishness. I don't know how to keep things close to the vest. I don't even like vests. Except for those reflective crossing guard vests, I really wanted to wear one of those in grade school.

I put myself right out there. Emotionally naked. And vulnerable. The entire time, thinking that it will be rewarded with reciprocal courage. Equal honesty. And that it will be found adorable and unique. But the fear within others keeps them timid and afraid of such forward behavior.

I have given it much thought. Looked at it from every angle. Sitting on my hands. Standing on my head. But I don’t think I could do it any other way. Growing up, I was this girl. If I liked someone, they knew it. There was no question.

I couldn't see the advantage to doing it any other way. And even if I had, I would not have known any other way. Stepping out on that tenuous limb with my heart in my hands. And held out in front of me.

I feel like Merrill in the movie, Signs. Muttering to myself that it "Felt wrong not to swing."

Yet living with the haunting and mocking voice of Lionel Prichard in my head: “He would just swing that bat as hard as he could every time. Didn't matter what the coaches said, didn't matter who was on base. He would just whip that bat through the air as hard as he could. Looked like a lumberjack chopping down a tree. Merrill here has more strikeouts than any two players.”

Which is more painful? Putting your heart out there and having it shattered? Or the regret of clinging the easy way and never really letting yourself hang all the way out there? Letting the pitch fly by with the bat still up on your shoulder. Cashing out, and always wondering.

Are such bold women foolish? Yes. But not for putting their heart on the line as they do. But instead because they put their heart on the line in the direction of such unworthy souls. Souls - oblivious, cowardly, pathetic and ultimately blind to the miracle of enchantment.

It’s unfortunate but we tend to take for granted that which is given to us freely. Including love. The sweet, silly, naive, smitten girl is so incredibly 'all in,' that the person she offers herself to really doesn't have to do anything. He never has to take a step in her direction at all. He could, if he wanted to, but in my experience he will not. Taking it just as long as it's handed over without his having to put forth an ounce of effort. She comes directly to him and he just goes along for the ride. Until anything reciprocal is asked.

Kaylee in Firefly.
Julianna in Flipped.
Lily in We Bought a Zoo.
Lydia in Pride & Prejudice.
Erica Barry in Something’s Gotta Give.

This is the character type that’s most difficult for me to watch. And when she turns up, I’ll be looking from behind my blanket because they are simply too familiar and revealing. Scary.

Maybe there’s a type that especially difficult for you to watch. Too close to your deepest fear about yourself.
  • The person who has completely shut down. All cynicism and defense.
  • The one who can only pretend. Never daring to show anything real. Always covering.
  • The cowardly, timid character.
  • The narcissist. Wholly absorbed in self-assigned grandeur.
  • The chameleon. Completely dependent on those around him.
  • The Tin Man. Born without a heart.
It's hard to look at our true self in the eye. We flinch and turn away. Change the subject. Run.

I can’t be the only one to close one eye, turn my head sideways and in my peripheral vision, still see myself.

On a more fun note, I love a list. And with ‘new-to-me’ movies, come new quotes.
Without cheating on IMDB, do you know to which movies the quotes below belong?
  • “Oh, this Twinkie thing, it ain’t over yet!”
  • “So. There we are. Where are we?”
  • “The one night I dress up!”
  • “A is for AWESOME!”
  • “That’s what they do before you become chips and salsa.”
  • “Nice! Solid joke.”
  • “What are you doing? Two shows a night?”
  • "Circus money, man!"
  • “You Fucking guy!” (Which I formerly associated with Something’s Gotta Give, but turns out Erica Barry was quoting another movie completely. I love when there’s a quote within a quote.)
  • “Lobster Todd.” (For whom, I’m holding out.)
  • “Whatever is wrong with you, is no little thing.”
  • “Oh stop being all….bilingual!”
  • “Aim for the bushes!”
  • “Not as dumb as he looks, folks.”
  • “Greetings, Sled God!”
  • “Do you get hit a lot?”
  • “You gotta throw the small ones back.”
  • "Well, put it in the pile of gifts from my other suitors."
  • “I’m your fan, man. Don’t you know that by now?”
  • “Did that go the way you thought it was gonna go? Nope!”
  • “Travel the stages of grief. Yet stop just before zebras get involved.”
And a quote WAY too long to drop in casual conversation but I'll find a way to work it in one day:
“Whatever happened to chivalry? Does it only exist in 80's movies? I want John Cusack holding a boombox outside my window. I wanna ride off on a lawnmower with Patrick Dempsey. I want Jake from Sixteen Candles waiting outside the church for me. I want Judd Nelson thrusting his fist into the air because he knows he got me. Just once I want my life to be like an 80's movie, preferably one with a really awesome musical number for no apparent reason.”

“That’s the worst goodbye I’ve ever heard, and you stole it from a movie.”

02 June 2012

Tipping the Scale

There is something amazing and magic about taking special and tender care of yourself. We are so hard on our souls.

We wake to a startling alarm, we scramble to work then we scramble back home, we scarf down our dinner and how often does that meal come from a box or from the deli case because we don’t have the energy to make anything ‘real.’

We sit down in front of the TV, telling ourselves that we need to unwind, zoning out to Danger Jim’s Breaking New.’ Or in front of our electronic device of choice, playing some online game, clicking on news and sport snippets to feel current. With an adult beverage in our fist. Red, white or amber. Telling ourselves we deserve it after a long day. Trying to compensate for something that's missing.

We work at a job that does not hold our heart, week after week, month after month and try to make up for all that soul sacrifice by taking a long weekend out of town three or four times a year.

Our culture if filled with popular behavior choices, of which the sole purpose is the numbing of our minds so that we do not have to actually feel the truth of our choices.

What feeds your spirit?
What nourishes your health?
What does being kind to yourself look like for you? (Not a rhetorical question...)

Is it dipping your toes in the surf? Staring at the bright, pearl-white moon from your deck as it rises from behind the purple blue clouds in the evening sky? Is it eating a salad fresh from your own little garden? Is it surrounding yourself with the most amazing sources of support and encouragement? Those who believe in you most?

Or jumping in a puddle with your favorite small child? Crawling into the most comforting, soft sheets, washed in the soothing, calming fragrance of lavender? Is it having someone tell you a bed time story until you drift peacefully off? Is it taking the extra time to fully express your gratitude? Twirling down the sidewalk in your favorite skirt? Or filling your home, your sanctuary, with the colors, the scents, the textures that make you smile and breathe so much easier?

I understand it’s easy to just go through your day, every day. Caught, entrenched in the routine. I’ve been guilty too. But I also have a very sensitive radar for that moment when I’ve done the self-care thing just right. And if I slow down or, even better, come to a complete stop, I can make this magic happen on a regular basis.

I find the proportion with which I fail to do this successfully, is directly connected to my need to fill my life with empty ‘care.’ When I’m taking the best care of me, I am much, much less likely to find myself mindlessly surfing the Internet or some other form of emotional anesthesia because my brain is mush and mud from the inconsequential, superficial immediate gratification that ultimately saps my spirit of its organic spark and magic.



25 May 2012

The Size of Kindness

'The smallest acts of kindness.'




I started to tell someone today that even the smallest act of kindness brings tears to my eyes lately. But then I stopped and asked myself, "Are there any 'small' acts of kindness?"




Really. Isn't that a little bit like saying something was a 'little bit wonderful?' ‘Wonderful’ doesn't seem quantifiable, does it?




I feel the same way about kindness. The sweet and thoughtful gesture of someone who cares about you...the friend who not only thinks about showing you a kindness, but then follows through...




Invitation to lunch.



The colorful card left on my chair at work.



Wearing a kilt for me.



The leisurely phone call for no specific reason.



Late night Skype.



A hand-picked wildflower left for me.



A "Hey, how are you?" Scottish email.





All important and all appreciated and not a single one of them could be called small.




I have someone who texts me almost every morning to help me get my day started on the most positive note. Texts. Do you know how many times I've 'lovingly' mocked and teased those who text as a regular form of communication? But now it's one of my precious lifelines.




Kindness is, by definition, abundance.





23 May 2012

Tae-draucht

Look out my window at work today....and what do I see?
Real man in real kilt, looking back at me.


09 May 2012

Wide Open

The most difficult thing that I've ever experienced in this life is watching helplessly as one of my children suffer and struggle.

It is really like no other difficulty I've ever known.

Nothing makes me feel smaller and more helpless.

I become so acutely and painfully aware of my short-comings and my infuriating lack of super powers. And how I never had any business doing this parenting thing. How utterly unworthy and incapable I am.

I have to remind myself to breathe. Deliberately. Consciously.
"Okay, it's been a while since you've exhaled. How 'bout it?"

And I may be losing my perspective but I think the older they grow, my children, the more devastating this becomes. I'm not positive it is possible to accurately convey the grip upon my heart when one of my grown children cries out to me. The sound of their terror. Their grief. Whether on the phone or in my arms, my child thinking there is some way for me to magically fix what has brought them to their knees. I'm the mom, I should be able to fix it, right?

You know that dream when you are in some form of grave danger and you need to cry out. Want frantically to scream at the top of your lungs. You gulp a desperate breath and open your mouth but not a sound comes out?

29 April 2012

Big Smile!!




I have been writing in my head about these flowers since they were delivered to me Wednesday. It was such a bright spot that I just couldn’t help it.

I had a really bad day this week. Tuesday.
And near the end of the work day for most people in my building, I stopped by a friend's desk, a diversion or release, I’d hoped. And she could see that I was a mess. She very kindly proceeded to just let me be a mess. A good friend will do that for you.

When I'd released some of the breath I'd been holding for most of the day and really had little left to vent, she asked me what I could do for myself in the form of comfort. Self-care.

“Is there anything you can think of that sounds calming and peaceful?” she asked.

“Well, I don’t really rely on ‘Retail Therapy’ for comfort but I sure wish I had just a bit of money, cash unspoken for, that I could use for a thrift store splurge. Or to buy myself tulips for my desk. For my home.” She nodded her understanding. And I went back to work. 

The next day when someone from the front desk opened the door to my department, I turned to see her carrying flowers. “They’re for you,” she said. They were the most cheerful thing I could imagine appearing spontaneously before me. Tulips, daisies, and card that read: Big Smile!!

The card was unsigned.

Of course, I was sure I knew who they were from. So I went to her desk. The same one as the evening before.
“I thought about it, but it wasn’t me,” she said, when I asked. I looked at her with doubt. “Swear to God,” she said.
I asked a couple more people.
“I wish it had been me, but it wasn’t.”
“Not me, but I’m happy to take the credit.”

But then before I ran out of people to check with, I decided that it was better not knowing. At first I couldn’t stand the thought of not getting to say Thank You, to whom ever sent them. But that was about me, wasn’t it? It was a much better idea to not know. To just let it be an unsigned gift. To let it be.

The flowers.
At my desk while I worked. To remind me of the angels in my life.

And now, the flowers, sitting here near my foot stool, in front of the drum set. Speaking to me.
An absolutely deliberate act of kindness.

I love not knowing.
I adore not knowing. 

As long as I don't know, then these flowers could be from ANYONE. And I mean anyone. My imagination runs wild, near and far. Like Schroedinger’s Cat, all options are possible.
(But don’t get me wrong, I’m not kidding myself about who they are not from.)
It really could be anyone. It could be you! Hey YOU, thanks for the flowers. They absolutely made my day. My week. Well done, You!!

I've said it before just recently and I'll say it again, "So shines a good deed in a weary world."


10 April 2012

April 10, 1987

Where were you April 10, 1987? My first child was born that day.
He turned 25 years old today.
I have been a bit lost as to what to do for his birthday.

I count on the universe revealing to me the perfect gift idea as long as I'm open to see.

I headed into work this morning without a clue.

He likes pie.
He likes Red Robin.
He likes many TV series.
He likes anything made of Kevlar.

This is a start but nothing is really clicking with me. I figure I'll just keep driving toward his work to wish him Happy Happy trusting that something will come to me.
Key Peninsula Hwy
Purdy Spit
Hwy 16
I - 5
Still nothing. Balloons? Big Mac? (You'd have to know Colin to know just how funny that was.) I know I can't go wrong with bullets but in my world, the gift needs to fit the 'giver' as much as the 'givee.' Bullets are not my idea of the perfect gift. Okay, well maybe in some unique and specific situations. But generally speaking, no.

Driving past the Tacoma Mall, watching all the idiots realizing at the last second that they need to take the 56th street exit and cutting across the lanes.

Thinking "gift, gift, gift. Need the perfect gift."

Thinking "There's a K-Mart between me and his work, maybe there will be something..." (kidding)

Then I catch a glimpse of the Ted Brown music store in the corner of my eye. I cut across the lanes between me and the 72nd street exit and next thing I know I'm driving past Hooters and on to Ted Brown.

My son is a drummer. And he'd never tell you how much he loves it or how talented he is, but I will. Another time.

I know he needs a new snare for his kit but I don't know the first thing about what kind, what brand, what color. No, that's not true, I'd be pretty good at finding the best color. Then it hit me. Since he first got his drum kit in junior high school he's wanted a double base pedal. And the sweet relief of knowing, I've just hit the perfect gift idea. *sigh*

I got the best one I could afford. Packed it into my trunk and headed to his work. It's a bit of a drive. He is not expecting me.

"What are you doing here?" He's not unhappy but surprised.

"Wishing you Happy Birthday," I say. "Come out to the car. I have something for you."

"What?" he asks as we walk to where I've parked.

"Birthday cake. A big, sugary thing with inch thick frosting and sprinkles all over."

"I hate birthday cake. I'd rather have pie."

"Sorry, I got you a cake."

I popped the trunk. I watch his face. He gingerly lifts the flap on the plain cardboard box. (He's always on alert for booby traps.)

"What did you do?" he asks. Unable to keep the glee out of his voice, which is very unusual for this kid.

I'm giddy. "I know, right!"

My eyes water. "Oh I wish I'd taken the day off," he says. "Then I'd be able to go set it up and play right now." He could not have said Thank You more clearly.

I was so happy.
He was so happy.
Considering our beginnings together, this is a miracle. These few minutes before I head to my job for the day.

My son. 25 years old today. He's an amazing kid. I am blessed beyond measure.

08 April 2012

Seen any bad movies lately?

Oh my gosh. What would I do with the money spent to make this movie? The score, the cast, the crew, the location, the craft services? What would I do with that money?

I've written before about how, in general, I am not a big techie. I mock and I shun. I make fun. I love this about me. But I've also written before about how every once in a great while, I notice an exception. The gadget, the website, the software that indeed makes this world a better place. At least my world.

The little slice of 'technology' I'm so appreciating especially today is the x2, x4, x8 Play feature on my DVD player. You know the one, the button you push and people start killing each other much faster and without the suspenseful music?

Of course you may argue (this is me anticipating you arguing with me) that if a movie needs to be x2'd to get through, then maybe I should not be watching it at all.

But I say right back to you (in this conversation that really lives only in my head and on this blog) that if x2 helps me get through the stupid boy parts of Braveheart in order for me to enjoy the long hair and kilts of the movie, then more power to me, right?

I started a movie just recently. It's not unusual for a movie to start a little slow, right?
And a little weird, right?
And this movie is something called 'acclaimed.' It says so right on the case.
Sundance Blah Blah Blah.
Blah Blah this film festival and that film festival.
Nominations for the something something award...
...with the names of previously interesting actor types across the top of the case.

It seemed like a good idea at the time. Honestly.

However.... I learned something important as this movie played in my DVD player.
Turns out that x8 is my limit. When a movie is moving so slowly that it is still boring at x8?

Here's what you do...

  • Stop the DVD player.
  • Remove the DVD disk.
  • Put said disk back into the flimsy library case.
  • Do not look back.
  • Then call and thank me.

Do you want to know the title of this movie? I'm not telling. But if I had the money spent to make this impossible-to-justify film, I would be set. Oh my goodness, SERIOUSLY? Was this absolutely necessary?

Someone should be brought up on charges for wasting my time, as far as I'm concerned.

And tell me who I speak to about the popcorn and M & Ms that I'm out. Somebody owes me.

Care to guess the title? I'll tell you it was released in the last year.

09 March 2012

The Consolation Prize

You know February whizzed right by me. No blog post since January 1st.

It's not that I haven't been blogging, it's just that I haven't been doing it out loud. I blog quite regularly in my head. I may have mentioned this before.

When I start working on a blog topic in my head, the future post is short and crisp. It's clever and quick. It's funny and it's profound.

But then this thing happens.... in my head: I hear voices.

Not the kind of voices manageable by medication. Slightly less menacing than that. I hear the voices of my readers. Your voice. Specifically, the voice in your head.

You know the one, the voice that argues with the guy who just cut you off in traffic.
The one that practices the talk you need to have with your boss.
The voice that rationalizes that questionable decision you just made.
The one that travels into the past and speaks the perfect words, instead of the words that haunt you at night when you can't sleep.

Is it a super power, that the inside of my head can hear the inside of your head?

I will be simply minding my own blog business, composing my post internally when your voice starts arguing against my point. Trying to find the flaws. Eager to prove me wrong. The voice in your head will roll its eyes at the words being written in my head. It scoffs at my grammar. Mocks my presumption and arrogance. "Who are you to write these ridiculous words? These posts? Who do you think you are? And who do you think wants to read your opinion and observation?"

"HA!" You point and laugh, in your head. But I can hear you, you know!

Now you'd think, being able to hear all this negativity and criticism from within your head would discourage me. Make me less likely to continue the writing that I'm doing in my head. But instead I just start mentally writing more. I start defending my point. Justifying myself and my opinion. My right to observation. I hear your arguments before they escape your lips and I'm ready. I think of all the possible rebuttals you might have but I'm ready with my pre-buttal! Take that.

So really a good deal of my blog posts are preemptive arguments. I am so completely sure that you're going to disagree with me and call me foolish, crazy even, that the voice in my head jumps on her horse and runs like crazy to head the voice in your head off at the pass.

Unfortunately this often makes for a long and messy post. Full of rationalizations and double talk. Working both ends of the conversation.

It's exhausting trying to cover every argument eventuality. Especially those that exist in the far reaches of your head. It's like a game show that is impossible to win. Can't you just hear the Sorry, you're a loser music now? Wuh, wuh, waaaa.

So the post never gets written. Because it's just too much. I have dozens of unwritten posts. Three in the last week. One on the truth of our dreams. One on chivalry. And one that begs the question: Why does my car run so much better when my gas tank is full and my favorite song is playing on the stereo?

But no. And it's all your fault. Or the fault of that voice in your head. That I can totally hear right now, by the way.

Take that BACK!

01 January 2012

New Years Revolution