Monthly Archives: May 2014

I Know Very Little ~ But I Believe These Things

I believe in magic and pixie dust.

I believe in fairytale endings.

I believe life is not always fair but there is always sweetness to be had.

I believe in good books and hot chocolate.

I believe kindness is the highest quality.

I believe in self-care.

I believe in chocolate chip cookies.

I believe that we have to have our rough edges rubbed off by life before we can know the sweetness of living.

I believe sushi is a food group.

I believe in gardening as therapy.

I believe in therapy, gardening and more formal kinds.

I believe clowns are a bad idea.

I believe in the power of a good night’s sleep.

I believe most of us are oblivious to our power and that’s sad.

I believe there are times when it’s best to walk away from someone, or even a group of them.

I believe in Harry Potter books because they are hopeful.

I believe children have it figured out and we trick them into believing adults have it going on.

I believe the smell of fresh mown grass can act as a time travel machine.

I believe O.J. is guilty of murder.

I believe Julia Roberts and I would be good friends if we ever got the chance to get to know one another.

I believe in listening to the elderly, they’ve been around a lot longer than most of us. They’ve got stuff to say.

I believe most people are good and want to help.

I believe in true love and marriage.

1_image001I believe in my children.

I believe sunshine is good for the body and good for the soul.

I believe in good music and barbecues.

I believe learning foreign languages is good for your brain.

I believe in Shakespeare, rock & roll and ice cream.

I believe thinking happy thoughts feels better than wallowing in the bad ones.

True story.

Please like, tweet, share, comment and have a good weekend.

How Much Do You Pay For Your Identity? A List Of Ten Things

The act of shopping is an interesting activity. From a very young age, each of us is given a bit of money and a couple million choices. We hate it or we love it, but regardless of which way we lean, we all must do it from time to time.

I was recently introduced to the idea that our purchasing choices have way less to do with need and more to do with how we identify ourselves. We purchase things based on the “brand” that is us, the brand in our heads. This kind of blew my mind. But it makes sense if you think about it.

I’ve spent much of my shopping life in the “hate it” camp, I admit. But when I think about my purchases defining me, it makes it a bit more fun. The following are a few things that, it turns out, are a part of the brand in my head:

  1. Toms Shoes. I know. They’re cheap, sort of prison shoes, and yet, as I write this there is a pair on my feet. They resonate with me because I imagine an underprivileged child somewhere who has some because I bought them. I only wonder if theirs are sparkly too.
  2. Thrift shopping. Perhaps the antithesis of the Toms brand, I like buying things from Goodwill. I like popping tags. I can’t be sure why, but every once in a while I find something so unusual and I imagine it was meant for me from the time it was created, and this makes me smile. So, I suppose “destiny” is part of the brand in my head. A wink to the twists and turns that is a life that gets us where we were always meant to be.
  3. Grass fed beef. It’s beef, and it’s supposed to be better for you. I love me a good hamburger, but I like to minimize the inevitable guilt. Guilt is NOT a part of the brand. No Guilt. None. Kack.
  4. There’s something… we’ll use the word “holistic” about wearing a thrift store blouse with an expensive pair of jeans from Nordstrom. I like the dichotomy of it all. Being a conundrum is definitely how I’d like to be branded.
  5. Things with cool names. It almost doesn’t matter what it is, if you name it well, I’ll buy it. My personal favorite? A nail polish by O.P.I. called “Straw-Buried In The Sand”. I’d buy it all day, every day.
  6. I like to buy jewelry when I travel, especially when I’m in a foreign country. Jewelry is small and when I wear a piece it reminds me of where I’ve been. Travel, then, perhaps it’s the travel that is a part of my brand.
  7. Dogs. I’ll go so broad as to say any cool pet. I like pets. I think they make us better people if we let them. But especially dogs.
  8. umbrellaOnce, I was traveling with my sister and my nephew and there was this umbrella… in Paris… in an umbrella shop that had been there for hundreds of years… it had crystals on it and cost more than $800. I didn’t buy it. But I wish I had. I think the fact that I wanted it, and I still think about makes it a part of my brand, but so too does the fact that I didn’t buy it.
  9. Paint. I buy a lot of paint. I buy the good stuff. I have a favorite brand. M. Graham paint. It is made with honey in Oregon and I like the way it stays soft for a very long time. There are two things that make this part of how I think of myself, one is that I have a lot of paint because I don’t organize it well so I buy more. I’m sort of not organized. The other is that it makes me feel creative and indulged. It is paint, but it’s not just paint, it’s the good paint.
  10. I buy popcorn. The reason I buy popcorn is because my 15 year old son likes it. I have people and I love my people. And so I buy them popcorn. Branded!

Like, share, comment, live the dream. Amen.

You Won’t Believe What My Hairstylist Said To Me

This is not the first time my hair has taken the brunt of my discomfort. Perhaps the famous line, “Now is the winter of our discontent,” resonates for some, but for me it is better said, “Now is the hairstyle of my discontent.”

Maybe I should just wear a hat.
Maybe I should just wear a hat.

Yesterday I returned to my hairstylist. Shandra has hair the color of faded, pink denim. Her tattoos are an array of interests as well as vocation. I am especially fond of the trimming shears tattooed on her forearm.

She is young and gives me great hair advice. It’s really not Shandra’s fault that I am currently unhappy with my hair. I think she knows I don’t blame her and I am convinced if she thought I did blame her she wouldn’t really care.

The last time I had my hair colored I was feeling sassy. I thought I’d try on the color of the Carefree Artist. My color, while not extreme, was sassy with stripes of cherry red, honey and an underlying brown. Shandra did a nice job and I was satisfied. But that’s it. I didn’t love my hair. And I cut it short. And then I went back and cut it shorter two weeks later.

Yesterday I began by complimenting Shandra. I then explained that I didn’t really want to go “artist carefree” with my color again. “I’m thinking Country Club Classic this time,” I told her.

Shandra is always professional, delightfully talented and endlessly kind, so when she called me out, I was startled to the point of laughing out loud.

“Sometimes,” my twenty-something hairstylist explained to me, “it’s not our hair that we can’t figure out, it’s ourselves.”

I am not having problems with my hair. No. Not at all. The cut is good, the color is nice. I even get compliments from time to time. The problem is NOT my hair. As a matter of fact, there’s really no problem at all, I am simply in a place where I am redefining myself.

This is not a comfortable stage for me. It’s a place where I’m looking at other people’s lives and I am looking at my own and while I’m neither judging others nor myself, I am absolutely evaluating what I do and do not want for my life. This is more challenging than ordering off a large and varied menu. Sometimes I even find dinner to be difficult.

I may not be ready to wear Birkenstocks and flowing skirts every day, but I don’t really think I want to be a Country Clubber either. I want to be many things, never stuck in a corner. Maybe I should get a wig.

Like. Share. Pin. Comment. Gracias.

Why Do You Have To Be So Selfish?

I believe the most miserable people in the world are those who take no notice that there are other beings walking around the planet with them. It’s not that I feel contempt for them. It’s more appropriately labeled “pity.” For who doesn’t feel for the sad souls wandering around distracted only by their own well being? Sorry, sad sacks.

Worse still is the fact that not one of us is immune to becoming said Sorry, Sad Sack. We are each quite capable and sometimes even willing to overindulge in our own affairs. It is human nature to be self-involved. It is survival of the fittest. It is “natural man” in all his non-glory.

I fully admit that from time to time I am an SSS. It’s in those moments that I become overly smitten with my own affairs, my sorrows, my aches and my disappointments. I would say that it becomes acute, perhaps once a week. Having witnessed these devolutions into my own pit of despair, I’ve created some safety nets. Why not change what is unattractive? I have a few tricks up my sleeve to remind me I am, at heart, a self-involved human who needs to get over herself.

Perhaps my favorite safety net is a weekly visit to my adopted “Granny”.  Granny is 92 years old and she is sassy and instead of swearing she says things like, “Oh SUGAR!” which I try to mimic but my mouth just follows through with the mundane and expected, “Oh Sh*t!” I’ll keep working on that.

granny and PiersonYesterday was “Winnie Day” and off I drove to Granny’s house. It is quite literally “over the river and through the woods” to get there. I like it when my life is poetry. Each week I find myself in a quiet living room where I am the light of someone else’s eyes. A drive across town makes me the hero of the day. Ironically, in donating my time to a woman who believes I hung the moon, I am losing myself to someone else. We all do.

Try this: Spend some time with someone who needs you. You will go into it thinking you are benevolent and selfless. You will come out of it knowing you’ve received far more than you gave. It’s ironic. It’s lovely.

It is not uncommon for me to recommend taking time out for someone else. Especially when that person is deep in the despair of their own life. Take a friend to lunch, spend some time reading with a child, volunteer at a retirement home. Find your own Granny, though she’s one in a million.

Being at play never means all we do is amuse ourselves. It’s really about living a meaningful life and the best way to do that is to get out of the habit of the meaningless routines that only serve us.

My high yesterday was play a game of Five Crowns with Granny. She beat me mercilessly and took great pleasure in it. While I moaned and complained quite a bit, the truth is I took pleasure in every minute of it. I think the complaining just enhances the power in her win. Perhaps I continue to be self-serving when I visit my Granny, but it seems like a good way to do it.

Like me, share me, and make sure and comment on how you cast off the burden of being painfully human!

You Shook Me All Night Long ~ And Other Questionable Choices

“Music soothes the savage soul.”

Music-Quotes-by-Jimi-Hendrix-Music-IS-A-SAFE-KIND-OF-HIGH-450x6422“Music is what feelings sound like.”

“Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and life to everything.”

“The function of music is to release us from the tyranny of the conscious thought.”

“Music is a safe kind of high.”

The place and shape of music stands grand within every life. For some, it is life. Music can set the tone for a romantic dinner. It can be a form of worship or a method  of mourning. Music can rally the troupes and it can motivate the seemingly unmotivatable. If that’s a word. Which I’m told it’s not.

I am not proud to admit that I know all the words to AC/DC’s You Shook Me All Night Long. I redeem myself mentally by remembering I also know the words to dozens of hymns and that doesn’t even count Christmas carols.

And therein lies the message of this message. Music sets the tone. Sadly, I allowed AC/DC to set the tone for much of my youth. But every Christmas from the beginning of my life I let the carols do it.

When I am sad, I choose music that will make me happy. Unless I am wallowing, and then I listen to music that helps me be sad.

I’m not really ashamed of the AC/DC years, if you want to know the truth. I just wish I’d known I needed to be more aware that I was choosing a path when I chose my music. And all paths should be chosen carefully.

Today I listen to music as varied as Beethoven is to Macklemore. I trust my gut when I turn on the radio station. I go with the flow when I choose a playlist. I suppose the only difference between now and when I was a sassy teenager is that I’m making a conscious decision about how to feel when I choose a song.

It is not uncommon when I work with someone that we must beginning at the very beginning. It’s difficult to read the label when we live inside the bottle. And so, it is necessary to point out what might seem obvious, the beginning is how we make ourselves feel. And we do that, make ourselves feel things, every time we choose a piece of music.

It’s important to remember how important music is, how it makes us feel. I may not have AC/DC on my iPod, but when it comes on the radio, I still sing along with it as loud as I can. And that’s a choice I can live with.

If you’re diggin’ what I’m layin’ down, remember to like it and share it on Facebook & Pinterest and share your thoughts in the comments below. Thank you. Thank you very much.

I am,

Michelle At Play

Ten Things I Should Have Said Long Ago

I’ve recently begun signing my email with,

I am,

Michelle At Play

bright flowersI can’t decide if it’s pretentious or weird or what. But I’m doing it, so I say it’s decisive. Yeah. It’s decisive. And if I’m truly dedicated to the idea of being YOUR Michelle At Play, then I better start taking that mantle.

If the “mantle” were some sort of actual “mantle” it would look like a magical, colorful and whimsical crown. It would make a sound like wind chimes and it would smell like lilacs and sometimes like caramel popcorn. But never mixed. That just doesn’t seem right.

So imagine me, if you will, with my whimsical crown/mantle and perhaps a scepter, because if you have a crown like that you’re going to need a matching scepter, and imagine me leading you into the land of play with these ten edicts:

  1. Remember at the end of the day not to take anything too seriously. Life is a slow cooker, not an overheated pan, it’s going to take time to finish it out. You have all the time in the world for things to work out.
  2. Because you have all the time in the world, you should take time out regularly to laugh. A lot. Watch a funny video. Now. Go!  No wait, finish reading this first…
  3. Here at the YFR&ZAR we have a rule. It’s called The First Rule. And that rule is: Don’t be Sh*#y.  Adopt the first rule and never break the first rule. And your life will be happier.
  4. Play with your food. Take your time. Keep each item from touching the others. Feel how it feels in your mouth and slow down. While you’re at it, feel grateful for it. I believe this dramatically reduces the calories in it.
  5. Breathe deeper and take up space. We spend a lot of our lives trying to make ourselves small and the truth is that it’s not fair to the world to not take up all the space God intended us to take up. Fill your lungs and your diaphragm and feel how good it is to take in the fresh air that keeps you alive. Go big. Go big or go home.
  6. At restaurants where they offer paper and crayons for kids, take them. Take your own and color your heart out. Or doodle or play tic tac toe with your date. Call dibs on red first. This will make you feel especially good. Trust me.
  7. Do something every day that makes you gasp. Interpret this as you will.
  8. Play by kindergarten rules. Best of all, realize you don’t know what anyone else in class will eventually turn in to, so don’t judge. And share your snacks.
  9. Compliment others generously. All the way. Especially when it hurts you the most, when you feel the most insecure. That’s when compliments are most powerful.
  10. NOW go watch a funny video. Go already!

life-is-short-play-hard-77506770

 

Hey, and if you like what you’re reading, remember to like it, share it on Facebook and Pinterest and comment, comment, comment!

Sometimes I Am P1$$3d At God ~ Michelle Church

When I was a few years younger, I knew the answers. I was SUPER smart. You should have known me then. I could have solved all your problems. You know, cuz there wasn’t really anything I wasn’t clear on.

And then my life happened to me. It didn’t happen like your life happened to you. No, that’s the tricky, God is giggling at us, part. The part where we don’t go through the same things so we’re always kept off guard. So we don’t know how our life is going to get turned upside down. It just will. Don’t trouble yourself with warnings, thankyouverymuch. Let’s not spoil the story.

So my life turned upside down and things I’d intended to happen did not happen, and things I intended that would never happen, did. At first I thought I should be disappointed. I thought it wasn’t good because it wasn’t what I’d expected. Different equals bad, right? What, am I in middle school?

The other day I was watching an AWESOME Soul Pancake video. It was an exploration of Hinduism. I’m diggin’ the different religions just now and Hinduism and the many gods they worship is fascinating, but it’s what the Hindu woman said that sparked my interest.

gandhiWhen she was answering a question about her religion, she made it clear she could only answer for herself. “There are as many kinds of Hinduism as there are Hindus,” she taught us. “We believe there are many paths and one truth.”

Can I get an, “Amen”?

So many years ago, when I thought I had all the answers, all I saw was one path. And I believed it was the only path. I thought there was one way to worship, one prescribed path and, therefore, exactly one outcome. And I was wrong.

It was a long time ago and I was a much different person than I am today. That’s the work of the path I’ve walked. It has changed me. It is my hope that it has changed me for good. I watch the people around me and I respect their paths and even though it can be difficult for me, I think I let go just a little bit more all the time and trust the people I love to choose the “right” path for them.

Perhaps I remain ever so slightly irritated with God about the lack of warning for some of the stuff I’ve gone through. I know I need to get over it, but I know He’s tough enough, and loving enough to let me go through that process. God, and me, we’ve got an understanding. I’ll keep being human and he’ll keep being all-powerful and loving and stuff. The goal is just to try and be a little bit more like Him and ultimately become more loving and more patient and more… more better. Yeah. I just said that.

My life is still unfolding, and like a ridiculous mortal, I continue to make plans for it. I try not to get too attached to those plans. Life has taught me at least this much. And as I go about my day to day life, I try to let go of the power that was never mine and every day I try and remind myself what the Hindu woman taught me. There is truth, and there are many paths to it.

Be well upon your path, my friends. Be well.

A Foreigner In Your Own Land

I have had a hankernin’ for travel of late. I sound whiny, know, because I’ve actually been traveling quite a lot. But I want to go further, I want to go big, you know, and then go home.

I have actually been quite fortunate to travel to some wonderful destinations. I was once trapped in an elevator in St. Petersburg, Russia for an hour or two with my sister and nephew. I once missed my ferry from Morocco to Spain and ate delicacies in a local dignitary’s living room while we waited for the next. I was stalked by wild dogs in Guatemala and I hallucinated after taking a sleeping pill in Greece. Good times…

pauloBut those trips were long ago and I am craving an adventure. Something scary enough to make me feel like I am in danger, ever so slightly, but danger, nonetheless.

I cannot see a big trip in my near future. That is not to say I’ve given up hope that there is one, just nothing on the books yet. This means I’ll have to come up with something. It means I have to get creative.

My trip to Russia was in the planning for more than two years. My sister, when she asked me if I would go with her (Are you serious? You can’t KEEP me from going.) apologized that it was so far out. Not to worry! I assured her. the anticipation is half the pleasure.

There is something so titillating about booking a hotel, looking at guide books and even studying a new language. There is something delightful in reading about the shots one might need in a foreign country or the foods that are definitely to be avoided by foreigners (Don’t eat the ceviche in Costa Rica. I wish someone had warned me.).

But the facts of life are that sometimes we eat at the neighborhood haunts, we drive to our regular destinations and see the people that are familiar and speak the same language as we do.

When I began this post, I thought is was about making plans for new trips and big, foreign adventures. But I was mistaken.

What it’s about, is finding adventure wherever we are. This post is about being enchanted by those who normally surround us and it’s about being present every day of our lives. Yes, this takes effort. But the effort is worth feeling excited to be you. And the bonus is that you get to do it in your very own bed.

Ten Things I Command You To Do Today

I can no more make a goal for you than I could fly to the moon on homemade wings, though I’d like to do both.

But if I were in charge, if I did get to dictate your world, I would. AND I’d fly to the moon on home made wings and a breathing apparatus that protected my body and made it possible for me to breath in outer space that I handily made out of Saran Wrap, a paper towel role and kelp.

And here’s what you would do today:

  1. Today, around 1 p.m., post lunch but before you’re totally ravenous, you would suck on a lollypop of your choosing. And while you did so, you would feel happy and childlike without being obligated to be childish, though that’s always an option.
  2. You would spend at least 15 minutes outside and you wouldn’t have any electronics available and you’d notice the flowers and the birds and the sweet scent of new grass on the air. And I would command you to be happy. And you would do it, even for only 15 minutes.
  3. For no apparent reason (other than I am your Overlord) you would donate to whatever your grocery story asked of you, you would give all your spare change to a beggar and you would buy coffee, or whatever, for the person behind you in line. And you would be happy.
  4. When you get tired today, you wouldn’t reach for caffeine or sugar, you’d find a comfortable sofa and a nice, lightweight blankie and you would take a power nap for as long as your body needed. This, too, would make you happy.
  5. Today, you call your mom. And with enthusiasm and sincerity, you tell her you love her and you tell her why. This will make her cry and it will make you happy.
  6. Even if you’re dieting, today, for at least one meal, you make, find, or buy food that you love. This makes you at least smile.
  7. For just a moment, you pause and look in the mirror today, and you like what you see. You appreciate your smile or your eyes or the chin that reminds you of your grandfather. And you take that moment and you feel good about yourself.
  8. Today you drink plenty of water. You don’t even need an add in. You just drink it and you feel happy because it is easy self care and you like taking care of yourself.
  9. For only today, you stop being self conscious about whatever is keeping you from doing that thing that you want to do; car dancing, job application, karaoke, whatever, and you do it full out. And you don’t apologize for it. And while you might be scared and you quite possibly might fail. You don’t die from embarrassment and even though you maybe don’t feel happier today, it increases your capacity for happiness.
  10. For an entire 24 hours, starting… now! You speak kindly to yourself. You stop when you’re being unkind and you woo you. You’re kind and lovely and you’re your own best friend today. And this, I promise, makes you happy.

You’ve Got A Problem And I Have The Answer

I suppose I repeat myself quite a lot to you. Who can blame me? With a “nearly every day” posting schedule to keep up, and that’s the official designation ~ Nearly Every Day ~ it’s going to happen.

Of the things about which I post, quite possibly I post the most about Love. I’m not sure, I’d have to research it and right now I’m researching kabbahlism. I’m pretty sure that’s a lot more interesting than my blog.

I have thoughtfully capitalized Love as it is sacred. It is worthy and applicable to every single situation in which we will ever find ourselves. It applies to business dealings as well as relationships. It is as applicable to sleep schedules as it is to job applications. Because it is power.

You will notice I did not capitalize the word ‘power.’ It doesn’t deserve it.

Every day I come across people who struggle. Life is struggle. It is seeking and it is ultimately unknowable. At least the part about what we should do and how we should progress. It’s all just guess work. There is no manual. Ask any parent, veteran or newbie. We’re all just making it up as we go.

There are certainly more questions in life than there are easy answers. As often as not, having power in any situation seems like a fast track to an easier answer. While power certainly clears some paths, it is not the answer, it’s just a clearer path… in some cases. No absolutes. That’s another painful truth.

No absolutes. Except quite possibly ~ Love.

LOVE-LIFE-2The only real power we possess is sincere and complete love. When we use it in parenting, we are not guaranteed the right decision will come to us, but at least our children will see and receive the intent of it. When we use it in all interactions with others, we may not have the outcome we desire, but at least we’ll know we’ve gone in with pure intent and people will always respond to that.

Always.

And finally, the use of Love upon ourselves will yield perhaps the most benefits of all. Self love is a seed that blossoms all over our lives. It spreads with ease and like the most prolific plant, will grow throughout every field of our world. It will spread to our spouses, our business associates and the woman at the DMV who has more power over our lives than we ever thought she might.

I know I post a lot about Love. I’m not going to apologize and I’m not going to quit. We need more of it and we need it fast.

Go out, my friends. Let us spread the good word. And you should know. I Love you. With a capital L.