Monthly Archives: September 2013

Ten People I’d Like To Meet ~ or ~ How To Stay Happy On A Rainy Week

And the rain continues to fall here in the Northwest. The calendar announced the coming of the new season and the weather embraced the news and has been giving us our fair share of autumnal bliss ever since. It is gray. It is wet. This definitely affects my mood.

The good news is that travel to sunnier destinations is not so far away. My phone, at least, tells me the sun will shine again here soon. Until that time, I will have to provide my own sun, my own happy thoughts and reasons to smile.

This is why I’ve been thinking about Ten People I’d Like To Meet:

  1. Dr Maya Angelou. She is brilliant. One of my favorite quotes by her is “I’ve never been bored in my life… If I were bored, now that would interest me.” That’s just the tip of the brilliant ice burg.
  2. I would like to meet Abraham Lincoln. I know there’s really no chance of this, even less than meeting Maya Angelou, but still. And what draws me to this remarkable man is a mind that was not only great, but kindness. I am inspired by kindness.
  3. At the risk of sounding shallow, a risk I take every time I open my mouth, I would like to meet Sandy Bullock. I call herImage Sandy because I’m sure we would be close friends. Which makes me cliche’, I know.
  4. Back to the no shows, at my famous-people-to-meet gala, I’m sure Henry David Thoreau won’t be attending regardless of how delightful the hors d’oeuvres are. But still he remains on my list. Actually, I’d love for him to bring along all his abolitionist friends and among them I hope would be;
  5. Robert Frost. I like to memorize poetry (I hope this neutralizes my shallow confessions) and Robert Frost is one of my favorites to memorize.
  6. Going for a two-fer with this one. I would like meet John and Abigail Adams. I’m sure they wouldn’t mind being clumped together. Years ago I read John’s biography written by David McCullough and fell in love with this ambitious, and brilliant team. I considered having more children just so I could name them John and Abigail, but decided against it. Too hard on the body.

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    They don’t look like they’re having much fun here…
  7. I would like to meet Matt Damon, but only if he’d pretend to be Jason Bourne while we were together. All angst-Iy and nervous. We’d have a hot beverage together and he’d count how many people were in the coffee shop and sweat nervously. He couldn’t come to the gala though. Too dangerous for the other guests.
  8. Since I’ve already done a presidential bundle, I’d like to meet President and Michelle Obama. For all the hate that’s going around out there, they are intelligent people who are dedicating their lives and their family to public service, whether you agree with their politics or not. I’ve set the two-fer precedent, they shouldn’t be offended.
  9. I think an afternoon with Oprah wouldn’t be enough. We’d need to spend some time together. I’m thinking a long girl’s weekend together. We’d do pedicures and talk about books. I’d have to redirect her choices a little. In my opinion she goes a little too far on the dark side sometimes.
  10. I’ve met them both before, but since we’re going into history and bringing back people like David Thoreau and John Adams, I’d just like to spend an afternoon, or two with both my maternal and paternal grandmothers. They were lovely women and I miss them.ImageImage

Living In The Cranky Moment

I subscribe to the idea that we should live in the moment. No racing off in our thoughts like a dog chasing an ever flying frisbee, we should, to the best of our abilities be in the moment we inhabit.

It’s possible I subscribe to this notion because I’ve never been naturally good at it. I’m always in the next moment, so much so that when I’m really busy I might take my seatbelt off blocks before my stop in anticipation of what I’ll be doing when I get out of the car. True story. On more than a few occasions.

The upside to this is that I’m a huge asset when there’s a lot to be done. I’m super efficient and task oriented. I should put that on my resume’.

The liability to it is that I am so driven by my results that I don’t stop to think and not only do I sometimes do things the hard way, because I am on autopilot, but I don’t stop to smell the roses, I don’t even see the roses. Were there roses?

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modernisminc.com

Right now I am a cranky bunny. I feel a little off physically and emotionally. I’m a serious crank. You don’t want to be around me right now. Except for that I’m pretty funny when I get like this. Caustic, but funny. (This mood has been dubbed by Zoë as my “Freak-a-suit” Mood. It’s a long story.)

My normal personality is to try and get through this as fast as I can. It is unpleasant to feel like this anyway, and to do the work to get past it is an opportunity to get my mind off it and get it out of the way, quickly and as painlessly as possible.

But just like the liability this characteristic has when I’m simply busy, there are downsides when I’m working through emotions as well.

Our moods are meant to serve us, and as I clearly don’t have some sort of propensity to depression (i.e. it’s not a chemical imbalance), there’s something to be worked out, not just gotten over as quickly as possible, which is my normal M.O.

I think we sometimes have to respect the crank. We have to give in to feeling off or down andImage just kind of pay attention to what our bodies and our emotions are trying to tell us.

I wish my subconscious mind were more open with me. If it would just give up the goods on what’s bothering me, we could quickly get on with the business of enjoying life. But alas, the subconscious mind is a puzzling entity. It doesn’t just spew out information for us to use, it throws us clues and riddles. I wonder if it delights in the game.

I propose we each take a good long look at the moment we’re in. Feel what it feels like to be us. If it is a good feeling, congratulations. If things don’t look that great, so be it. There’s something to be experienced and felt and learned and embraced. It’s the good and the bad that makes up the lives we are living.

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Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic

Theme Music For This Post, Optional:

I tend to look at my life as if it were playing out on a grand stage and an audience of thousands payed good money to come and stage_curtainssee the show. They may have even dressed up to go to the theater. It’s big doins’… in my mind.

It’s not that I think anyone really cares. I’m not expecting, nor do I desire that kind of attention. It’s just that I tend to evaluate my life on that sort of freaky, hypothetical basis. Am I keeping things interesting enough? Am I living the kind of life that would be a worthy sort of entertainment?

I’m ready for my close-up Mr DeMille.

To a certain degree this is a good thing. I don’t want the invisible, non-existent “them” to get bored, so I certainly don’t either. I take risks, I try to be brave and make choices that would add to an interesting script. Well, not a tragedy. That’s not my chosen genre. Maybe a Rom-Com/overcoming difficulty, sort of  power girl theme. I’m thinking Sandra Bullock or Julia Roberts for the lead. Do either of them do theater?But I digress.

And then there’s the bad part of this mental, off balance exercise. The part where when my life is necessarily mundane, I get anxious. The part where I perform my chosen acts of heroism and bravery and I perform in an average, or even under-average way.

This happens fairly often. Today I will be spending my day babysitting my adorable grandson. He is almost 7 months old and I don’t think it’s going to be a day where I do any sort of noteworthy grandmothering. I will feed him and snuggle him and change him and hug him when he’s sad and I will enjoy it thoroughly. The crowd does not go wild.

dontquitThen there was my abysmal half marathon last week. No Rocky’s Theme would accompany the loooooong scene were I am slogging through several miles of the “run” at a jaunty walking speed as people passed me by. Sure they told me good job, and in their minds they were saying “Road kill!” Rude.

But really, it doesn’t matter. Much of our lives IS a slog. Many days are built on doing the things that need to be done in a way that is average. Let’s own that word. A V E R A G E. It’s just how it is.

The truth is, no one is going to buy tickets to the event that is my life. I think they would have gotten up and left during the first 9 months. They, as far as I can tell, couldn’t have been all that interesting.

That said, it’s those hours upon hours of mundane work and average performance that bring beautiful contrast to the moments of glory for which we have been training.

The day to day is unmeasurably important. It’s where we get some of our most foundational work done, and it IS work. But it lays the ground for those shining moments of glory we are all privileged to enjoy. The moments when the underdog takes the win, our fondest wishes are granted and we shine like the morning sun after a dark and lonely night.

And when you think about how it all fits together so nicely into the one package that is called your life, every little thing you do is magic.

The crowd goes wild!

Redemption

My favorite movies have a theme. I would love for it to be something deep and enchanting but it’s not. The theme is what I like to call “The Do-Over”. You know, like when you were playing a game as a child and you didn’t like the move you’d made and begged your sister for a do-over. Just like that, only an hour and a half long story about someone who has made some bad moves and somehow the Universe benevolently bestows upon them the second chance.

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Love me some Bill Murray.

Groundhog Day is the perfect example. Bill Murray (excellent as always), brings snarky angriness to his job and the people around him, and then has to live the same day over and over again, until he figures out what life is all about. Back To The Future (the original) provides us a similar opportunity to fix lives gone awry, as does 13 Going On 30.

Love them. Love them all so much.

These movies, the theme, it’s all about redemption. It’s all about being human and desiring things we think will make us happy and then being given the chance to take a different path, choose a different joy, have a different life.

I’m sort of simple in these things. These movies aren’t masterpieces. But they tell me a story about myself and about us all. They tell me it’s not over until it’s over. The dye isn’t cast, the story doesn’t have an obligatory ending. You can always, always be granted a do-over.

I love the New Year for it’s resolutions. I love a new month because it is four, unsullied weeks of opportunity. And Mondays are a fresh start for us each week. While “each day is a new beginning, welcome my soul, the glad refrain.”

ImageI am all about redemption, all about the do-over. I am in love with new beginnings.

It seemed so much easier when we were kids. All we had to do was beg the other kids, play on their sympathies and we could take a turn all over again. No harm, no foul.

But in my simple world, life is the same way. We may not get to participate in movie magic, but every day, every hour is a chance to turn the car around. Each day really is a new beginning. Redemption is ours simply for the taking.

 

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Living An Elegant Life

ImageI’m almost finished reading “The Elegant Universe,” by Brian Greene. It has been a remarkable, and most often befuddling, read. I’m glad I chose the book, if only for the 20-25% I understood in it.

Though I have been completely stripped of any real pretense of intellectual prowess, I am now in possession of some awesome metaphorical ingredients. Metaphorically speaking.

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A cross section of a Calabi-Yau shape. Whatever this actually means.

While the idea of multiple dimensions being curled up in Calabi-Yau shapes is a bit further than my pedestrian brain can actually conjure, I now have a bit of information to reference at the next dinner party where I speak to an astro-physicist.

But best of all are the metaphors begging to be used, and here’s one.

If I understand it correctly, which is entirely up for debate, everything that displaces the fabric of space, the sun, the earth, the moon and you and I included, has a gravitational pull.

Much like a bowling ball placed on a stretchy piece of fabric, everything else put on that fabric will naturally roll toward the bowling ball. Thus, the bigger the object (i.e. the sun), the more spacial fabric displaced and therefore the bigger the gravitational pull.

This made me think about Granny, as yesterday was Granny Day, and all the people who love her and are drawn to her. One woman, arguably old and feeble, and yet the attentions given to her are vast and varied. She has no progeny and not much close family nearby, but her dance card is full and she is loved and cared for in her sunset years.

ImageI want a big, juicy, delicious life. I want to go places, do things and make a difference in the world.  But what I truly desire is to be like Granny, an open hand that gives without holding back and loves without condition. I want to release my resentments and let fresh air and thinking nourish my life. 

I may not make it to 91 years like Granny has, but oh how I wish to shine like the sun and warm all those around me. 

Let’s all, unapologetically take up the space that is rightfully ours by birth. Let’s love and live and make a difference while we’re here. There’s plenty of room for each one of us to spread out, make a difference and shine, shine, shine.

pink love smoke
This is what the weather was like that year.

When I moved to the Northwest I had NO idea what kind of autumn and winter I was signing up for. It was early September when I arrived and the shutters were closed on the observatory of my mind as I was one-big-cloud-of-pink-love-smoke-smitten with my soon to be Mr Dreamboat. Was there rain that year? No. Because there was only love. It was everywhere.

Yes. I was exactly that kind of 19 year old hormonal oblivious.

My heart still pitter patters when he walks into the room, but the shutters are open on the observatory now and it is, for sure, rainy season.

For most of my life I have not been prone to depression, but the heavy clouds and wet days can get to the best of us. Even for those of us  who enjoy a climate of ever sunny skies, life can provide some pretty heavy clouds. With that I give to you today’s ten things. May the sun shine, regardless of the weather, in your soul today:

  1. There’s no room for gloomy pants when you’re wearing your dancy pants. Put your best song on that mp3 player and dance around the house. Bonus points for taking off the pants and dancing naked with the shades open for the neighbors. We always feel better when we make others laugh.
  2. Do the things you love. When I’m feeling a smidge fractious, it’s time to get out the paints and throw something on that thick, cotton paper just for the pleasure of it. Do the things you love.
  3. I am sometimes a broken record with these things but I can’t leave out the obvious just because it is… well, it’s obvious: Exercise. Don’t make a big deal of it. You don’t need special clothes or a membership. Just get up and move. Or, if you’re capacity is diminished, sit down and move. Just get the heart pumping, get the juices flowing. You’ll feel better.
  4. Call a friend. Now here I will caution you as there have been times I’ve used this technique and I’ve called the wrong friend. I called the one who does not lift me up, but makes me feel more heavy clouded than ever. I stick to my original advice and go with phone a friend though, I just say make sure it’s one with an upbeat disposition.
  5. TLC yourself all over the place. Be honest, do you do that for yourself on a regular basis? Like you do for those you love? Probably not. Make sure you’re getting the things you need. Get them from yourself. It’s SO empowering knowing your cup of teacaretaker will always, always, always be there for you, because she is you. Now go make yourself a nice cup of soothing tea!
  6. Dress it up and take it out. If your main place of residence is your house, you may not put yourself together every morning. Those sweats or the jeans and t-shirt you always wear might feel like they’ll suffice. They won’t. They will feed the illusion that it doesn’t matter what you wear. It does matter, because you matter. Dress for success every day. Dress for the days when others will see you, dress for the days you’ll only be admiring yourself in the mirror. It matters. Now take that out on the town, my friend. Show ’em what you got.
  7. kind wordsSpeak kind words only. Speak them to yourself and speak them to those around you. It doesn’t matter if you’re frustrated, it doesn’t matter if there needs to be a learning moment in your home, the only words coming out of your mouth should be loving and supportive. Truly. It CAN be done. Especially to yourself.
  8. If it’s not just the sky that is cloudy, but it feels like the current state of  your life in general is under a dark cloud, remember that the skies always clear. They always do. It is a part of being human to forget that circumstances are always temporary. What is bad and painful today will change. Your feelings, your job, relationships. They are all in a state of flux. We mustn’t allow ourselves to get into the rut of believing our feelings are permanent. Spring will come. It always does.
  9. Come to terms with imperfection and then love the hell out of it. If we believe we are required to be perfect, that it’s the ultimate goal, we will never be happy. Life is a wabi sabi event, it is flawed and beautifully so. Love the quirky. Accept good enough. Embrace your life as is and know the rest of us are doing so as well.
  10. Look for the good. There is an interesting study, I will butcher the details so I’m just giving you an overview, that shows we find exactly what we’re looking for in the world. If you truly believe in your heart that life is cruel, that the world is an ugly place to live, you will find evidence substantiating your belief EVERYWHERE YOU LOOK! True story. Conversely, if you believe in your heart you are one of those people that life walks up to and hugs you and gives you free stuff, the evidence will mount in your favor. The world will find you and give you a big, free, gluten-free, chocolate chip cookie and life will shine like a new penny on a sunny day. Everyday.

I, for one choose, the second one. How about you?

http://youtu.be/sy1eOLEiyFY

A Healthy Dose Of Reality

I enjoy a hearty, and usually daily, dose of optimism. It’s not that I live in denial, it’s just that I choose to look at any situation in as positive a light possible. I don’t fear the cloud because I get to see the silver lining. Or at least search diligently for it. This can sometimes backfire on me.

This summer has been a busy one. We’ve traveled, vacationed, had children rotating in and out of the house, not to mention I’ve had to wrestle off some beastly infections as well as the hundred day cough. As September 21st loomed before me, I became less and less convinced of my ability to run the half marathon for which I’d signed up.

I’m not a fan of giving up or giving in. I’m especially reticent to let others down and my friend Jodi and I had signed up together. This constitutes some sort of unwritten contract in my mind. It’s an agreement that we will both put our best efforts forward and participate in an event. I try not to let people down as I dislike the reverse so very, very much.

But… I texted Jodi over the weekend and let her know I probably wasn’t going to be able to run. And then I felt really bad about myself. Compromise equaled I would go for a longer run on Monday and see how I felt.

Monday dawned with perfect running weather and I put on the Nike’s and hooked up the iPod and headed out the door. I

This was my ride.
This was my ride.

successfully ran 7 miles in what wasn’t an embarrassing time. Still there was the hacking and coughing. Still there remained the fact that I’d run only a scant handful of times in the preceding months.

I am either a masochist, or I am a dedicated athlete, or maybe I’m just a really great friend. We can’t be sure which it is, or maybe it’s a combination of the three. Yesterday, I strapped on the Nike’s and slapped a smile on my face and went out to meet Jodi at the Winery not far from where I live for the 3rd Annual North County Wine Run.

I was glad to be there. I was delighted to be running an event with my friend. And here’s the thing:

It sucked. I sucked bad. It was hard and painful and I was slow and I suffered. Oh, how I suffered.

To understand what it looked like, watch this:


So I pulled out my Pollyanna-Gets-Her-Optimistic-Groove-On bag of tricks and decided to power through. Here’s what that thinking looks like:

“I felt great running 7, and I feel better than I did at the beginning of the week.”

“Thirteen is not that much further than 7, right?”

“It’s just a few hours and then I’ll have bragging rights.”

“I wonder what the medal looks like.”

I have a thing for medals. I never earned any as a kid, so I’ll totally pimp myself out and  run 13 miles for one now.

The Wine Bottle is the one I suffered for yesterday.
The Wine Bottle is the one I suffered for yesterday.

But sometimes things just suck. Sometimes we’re ill prepared for what life hands us, or for what we’ve signed up for. Sometimes the best moments of an experience are when they are over and we can look back on them and shout to the Universe,  “I will NEVER let that happen to me again!”

I WILL run the North County Wine Run again next year, It’s a fantastic event. And I WILL be prepared for it. I will also accept that sometimes, though we may ultimately learn great lessons from our experiences, sometimes, things just suck.

Jodi is adorable.
Pre-race. High hopes.

The Weekend, No Better Time To Practice Being Awesome

Having successfully leaped off the funky train, I’ve had a great 24 hours and am looking forward to a fantastic weekend.

Painting went well yesterday with perfect weather, a spectacular view and good friends and food to enjoy it with. It was one ofImage my friends who invited me to the basement of a bar in SE Portland to watch “Offbeat Belly Dancing”, for which I thank her, and Mr Dreamboat and I ate delicious bar food and watched very interesting characters dance to music not usual to belly dancing. Personal favorite, beside my friend, of course, was Mackelmore’s One Love. Good stuff.

This morning I am gearing up for a half marathon I have not sufficiently trained for, having been wrestling with the 100 day cough for the last month and a half. But what the heck. You only live once (and maybe for not very long if you die on the course which is a definite possibility, but that’s okay. Maybe I’ll just leave one of my lungs along the way. You can live with only one lung can’t you? No, maybe that was kidneys. But we did live by a Chinese restaurant called Won Lung years ago. Maybe the owner only had one lung. Maybe.

So I’ll be running my lungs out this morning and watching the ever adorable grandson this afternoon and what all of this means to me is;

Happiness.

The kind that is attainable by everyone. Happiness comes from loving what you do. From extending yourself and finding your limits are figments of an underused imagination. Happiness is not about arriving at some nebulous destination where your house looks like a magazine spread and your children in reality meet the perfection of your Christmas cards. Happiness comes from extending yourself to others. Trying something new from time to time. Happiness comes when we are ready to sit down and let it climb into our laps like a persnickety cat we’ve been chasing but couldn’t catch.

I’m sure your weekend looks very little like mine. It shouldn’t look like mine. It should have all the distinct earmarks of you. But the part that should be the same is where you do what brings you joy and indulge fully in your awesomeness.

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Leaping Off The Funky Train

Some people might interpret “riding the funky train” as a good thing, but for me it is not.Image

I’ve been in “funky town” for the past few days and I did not have a groovy time there. I’ve been anxious, out of sorts, a little grouchy, if you read my posts regularly you’ll know I’ve visited the snarky neighborhood that’s so popular in funky town. None of this is good.

I can attribute my attitude and experiences to many things, kids going through stuff, Mr Dreamboat on an eight day trip away, hormones… Doesn’t matter. Riding the funky train is not fun. Not for me. Not for anyone around me.

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This is what my Granny lets me do at her house. It’s better than crafts.

If my 91 year old granny were a regular reader (in truth, she doesn’t use the internet), I would use this post to apologize for sorting out my proverbial “dirty laundry” all over her living room floor yesterday. But granny inexplicably loves me unconditionally, so in this case love really does mean I don’t have to say I’m sorry.

Surely part of my departure from the land of funk is that Granny let me sort the dirty laundry out for myself while she patiently listened to me rant. Another part is that Mr Dreamboat arrived home late last night. And last, but definitely not least, today is art day. Today is the day I will go stand in a vineyard in Lake Oswego and let the honey infused watercolor paints mix exotically onto the 140 pound French, cotton paper and see what comes of it.

We all go to the dangerous neighborhoods in our minds from time to time. Doesn’t matter why, doesn’t matter how you got there. The point is to RUN! Get out as fast as you can. Coming from a place of fear neither fixes what is wrong with us, nor does it allow ourselves the confidence to face whatever is bothering us.

More than anything else, more than the return of Mr D, the time with granny or the artist getaway I’m enjoying today, the most important thing I’m doing to get back on sound footing is to leap off the funky train. No looking back, no holding onto fear.

Here, hold my hand and we’ll jump together.

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A Whole Lot Of Nothing Much

I wonder if you can tell who a person is by their email inbox. Not a poorly guarded inbox, not the kind that lets in spam about Viagra and girls that are ready to go on “dates” with you at the drop of a hat. I mean your email address containing those things that matter, the kind of messages you do or don’t get from friends and family.

I suppose my inbox, the main one, not the other two that are my junk drawer inboxes, can tell you a lot about me.

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You can’t throw that away.

First of all I am overly sentimental. I have a hard time throwing away any email from a friend. Amazon can be deleted in the blink of an eye, but something specifically meant for me is to be treasured, digitally speaking, maybe for years if you include a picture and a compliment.

The second thing you might discern is that I am a procrastinator. The email that I am intending to read about heart healthy vegetables that WILL save your life and are found in the rain forests, might sit there unopened for weeks until I finally click that little button or just delete the damn thing.

ImageRight now, because I was writing this post, I went to my email and found a link sent by my friend Lisa for a blog post about a bear. Well, technically a bear head. But it made me laugh out loud with my current bar-fly-smoker-laugh because of the 100 day cough I can’t seem to shake. In fairness it’s only been about 50 days. I’m half way through.

I have business email, feedback from a beta test I’m running for my business. I have 5 emails going back and forth with a guy I’ve never met who lives in Nashville because I accidentally sent him a LinkedIn invitation. Pretty much I sent everyone a LinkedIn invitation on Monday because I don’t know how to use LinkedIn. Anyway, we’ve been talking about the fact that we don’t know each other. Hi, Paul. Hope you at least read my blog. Maybe we can be friends now.

There’s a forward from Zoë about bubble tents. I can’t bring myself to delete it in case I need to, well, do whatever it is you do with bubble tents.

I get daily notes from the universe as well. While the universe is important to me, sometimes I’m too distracted to read them forImage several days. But you don’t delete a message from the universe without reading it. Just seems like too much negative energy. So I just save them up sometimes. If you want the universe to speak to you, Monday through Friday, just go here.

So, judge me if you will, but I’m a bubble tenting sentimentalist who loves what she does, makes ridiculous mistakes daily and is listening intently to hear what the universe is saying.

I can live with that.