discretion, friendship, humor, inspiration, love

Acceptance Speeches

When I was a teenager, I fully expected to win a Grammy, Tony, Oscar and an Emmy at some point or another.  I used to practice my acceptance speeches in the shower (typically after singing for the shower tiles, who as I have mentioned in the past, were always so appreciative they would sweat with enthusiasm).  Certainly I would look fabulous (proof enough that this was fantasy) and make sure to gracefully acknowledge everyone who contributed to the moment.  And I’d be witty and brief (further proof that this was self-indulgent make-believe), ensuring that I wouldn’t get cut off by music or a commercial.

And though I still tune in when an award show airs, I now find them to be almost as good as an Ambien.  I fall asleep after the first “Thank you so much!  I can’t believe it!!”  I’m sure some speeches are sincere, others may be funny – most are simply disingenuous.  And most of the recipients can’t move their faces any longer,  which makes it difficult to determine whether or not they are feeling anything at all.

I on the other hand have the joy of accepting awards that are given with far more generosity and sincerity.  This virtual community supports its members with acknowledgements that come from a lovely, honest place and I get pretty ferklempt (look it up in a Yiddish dictionary – ‘very emotional’ is probably close) when I am graced with one and permitted to pay it forward.

Renee@positiveboomer.net was kind enough to nominate me for two awards earlier this week.  I am very appreciative and grateful and a little embarrassed.  The embarrassed part is just me – you can just ignore that – it doesn’t diminish my thank you.  Renee and I share a slower, longer learning curve than most of you when it comes to anything technical.  And we both love Twinkies.  I love the joy in her posts – from the simple advice to the thoughtful expositions, the title of her blog suits her perfectly.

I’ve never been part of a Sisterhood before – though I have been asked to join the Sisterhood at our temple.  I have a sister who just rocks my universe, but in a family of  two sisters, I don’t think we had the numbers to qualify.  And I have a sister-in-law who I love very much..hmm..Anyway, I am now part of a larger Sisterhood and that is very cool.  I do wish though that the name of  this award could be changed so that it included men – for some of my favorite bloggers are men.  “Personhood” doesn’t sound very inviting … Something to think on..

Anyway, I believe the following bloggers are definitely Sisterhood material..

Deanna@deanaohara.com – her blog is titled ‘Redemption’s Heart’…

Paula@paulaacton.wordpress.coom

Laurie@passionateperformance.com

Amber@wordsaresuperfluous.com

Joanna@momentumofjoy.com

Jill@universalmusings.com

Susan@susandanielseden.wordpress.com

Maureen@magnoliabeginnings.org

As for Inspirational?  I don’t see myself that way, and it is incredibly humbling to be so considered.  If something I write gives you a smile, or provokes a thought, a nod – I’m beyond happy.  To me the real inspiration is found in the friendships and conversations that seem to uniquely define the special group of people who I’ve met through this blog.  And I am to list seven…

David@davidkanigan.com – one of these days he is going to acknowledge an award from me.  Well, he may not, but he was the first person I started to follow when I began this little journey, so he’s just going to have to deal with it.

Rhoni@help-me-rhonda.com

Anake@anakegoodal.com

Cathy@largeself.com

Bill@drbillwooten.com

Bonnie@paperkeeper.wordpress.com

Elizabeth@almostspring.com

Simon@simonmarsh.com

Andrea@thehandwrittenlife.com

Please give yourself the treat of reading these wonderful blogs – and then you will know why I can’t seem to step away from my laptop.  I guess I went on longer than the two minutes accorded most acceptance speeches – thanks for not giving me the hook..

 

inspiration, life lessons, love, mindfulness

Navemar – Nevermore

“…here is the deepest secret nobody  knows

(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud

and the sky of the sky of a tree called life, which grows

higher than the soul can hope or mind can hide)

and this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart

i carry your heart (i carry it in my heart)”

—e.e. cummings – i carry your heart with me

My mom would have been eighty-five years old today.  Seven years of not calling her first thing in her morning to sing “Happy Birthday”, seven years without celebration, seven years since I chose a gift for her.  Seven years and I can still hear her voice.  No one calls me ‘schatzi’ anymore.

Make no mistake, mom was a complicated woman with more reasons than most for some of her challenging qualities.  She was beautiful for sure and  incredibly talented artistically, able to make a slab of marble breathe, mold clay that came to life in a kiln.  She sketched and painted and studied – movement and the human form, meadows caught in play with the wind.  And when she lost interest in the delight of pencil and sketch pad, something bigger than any result got lost.  She was a haunted soul.  Haunted by the impact of having life, when so many of her family were lost during the war.  Part of the ever-diminishing segment of the population who bore witness to the unimaginable horror of the Nazi occupation.  Plagued with trauma I can’t begin to imagine, nor really took the time to understand as completely as I should have.

My former brother-in-law wrote her obit for the New  York Times which made the brief tribute all the more personal.  Her parents took the family out of Austria shortly before the Anschluss, “..making their way first to Belgium and then through occupied France.  the family made its way to Portugal, where on August 6, 1941, they found passage among 765 other refugees on the Spanish freighter Navemar – one of the last voyages of escapees from Europe.  [Her] children and grandchildren bear in their hearts eternal, existential gratitude for her family’s valor and persistence…Our family is particularly gladdened that [she] lived long enough to know of the safe return..of her eldest grandson…from Iraq, where for the past year he has served in harm’s way the country that gave his grandmother safe haven.”

The stories of the Navemar’s voyage are beyond the pale.  A freighter that was never intended to hold more than 30 people.  The horror was unspeakable and a subject of articles written by those far more knowledgeable than me.  My mom was fourteen when she arrived at Ellis Island.

I don’t know about why one journey ends and another begins.  Maybe dad left to make sure that my son would come home.  Perhaps mom left once she knew he was here and that all her grandchildren were present and accounted for.  All I know is that some days are far harder than others, and I suppose they should be.  It is the movement of the human form – the bend in the head, the tear rolling to the chin, the beating of the heart that carries so, so much.

anxiety, humor, life lessons

An Ode To Entomology

If my thinking is incorrect I offer an apology

I am told the study of bugs is known as entomology

So if that’s true I’m wondering where all those experts are

For the marmorated stink bug has returned from fields afar

 

They’re clinging to the screened porch and the doors that lead outside

The windows are no safer, for into their seams they hide

They’re propagating with ferocity, their will to live intense

The bugzooka has been broken with its suction rife with dents

I’m thoroughly disgusted, by their armor and their shell

By their asserted squatters’ rights which are making my life hell

Please  understand it’s viral, like an insect form of MRSA

These bugs are killing my morale instead of vice versa

friendship, humor, love

National Dog Week

I have spent quite a few minutes this morning apologizing to the Sirs for my oversight – as I write this, they are still looking at me with disdain.  I didn’t realize that this is National Dog Week.  Truth be told, I didn’t even know there was a week dedicated to the celebration of dogs (I’m whispering this, I really don’t want to be heard, ok?  It’ll just make the chill in the air even worse).  I could say that yesterday was Yom Kippur, and I was involved in more life-affirming activities, answering if you will to a ‘higher calling’.  The plumber was here Monday for the greater part of the day, Tuesday just got away from me…

I’m going to buy some Frosty Paws later today.

In the interim, for all the dogs who work like…well, dogs and read this blog on your way to or from the office – these are for you.  For all of us who are totally canine-crazy enjoy..

friendship, humor, life lessons, love

Monday Morning

 

This morning, one of our local weather forecasters said, “Today will be remembered for being very bright..”.  I found this very insulting to the other days of the week.  Certainly yesterday was exceptionally bright too.  And for all I know Tuesday will be just as intelligent.  Clearly this woman has a glaring bias (pun intended), and it concerns me that Tuesday through Sunday will remain forever undervalued and seen as somewhat dim.

In the climate workplace, I would say that the other days of the week have a credible claim of discrimination.

Ironically, the news stations here have decided that doppler radar images and assorted predictive computer applications really don’t serve the public as well as .. a window.  So now the forecasters have an outdoor set with lots of cameras, and they give the weather report from there.  “Look at the sun rise”, “It’s a cool morning – have the kids where a jacket if they’re waiting for the school bus”…I think I would like a job where I can stand outside and speak the obvious and/or provide a seven-day outlook with confidence –  and be wrong half the time.  How comforting to be able to shrug one’s shoulders and blame an unforeseen dip in the jet stream for any errors and remain employed.  I could do this job well.

Yet as Mondays go, this one is pretty spectacular.  Certainly far too cool and clear to be inside, so the Sirs and I are bracing for a serious nature walk.  I’ll be breathing deep and feeling the sun tickle my skin; the Sirs will be marking every tree as we go, crisscrossing their leashes around my legs with thoughtless abandon, oblivious to the beauty around them and the precarious position in which I am being placed.  I have no worries though, for I have been assured, that today is very bright.  With that kind of wisdom around me, I feel pretty sure I won’t fall over my feet.

 

 

anxiety, friendship, humor, inspiration, life lessons, mindfulness, motivation

Make It Better

I hesitated posting this because I know of no one who hasn’t read this before.  And yet it’s so perfectly accurate, that to ignore the message is to deny the peculiar juxtapositions in our lives today.  It is no less astonishing when one pauses to consider that we have constructed this catch-22.

Perhaps we would be well-served to step away from our lives every once in a while and define our perception of success.  Certainly for me, my kids have always been at the top of the list.  There have also been times when my well-being was at the very bottom, while I rode the wave of wanting more – more money, more responsibility, more stuff, more of everything that would furnish my life with the accoutrements of success.  I have never surfed in my life, but I was really quite good at riding that wave to the shore, and going out again.  I’ll take it further – I almost drowned once (my uncle fished me out of the ocean) and quickly developed a healthy love of the ocean – from its shallows.  Yet, any phobic reservations were ignored as I pursued the next big wave.

No one tells you that the ride is hardly exhilarating when you flop onto the sand,  remembering little of the thrill, your board damaged from the multiple rides.  No one suggests to you that you need far better balance to love the waves.  No one reminds you that a happy life begins with your approach – not to things – but to everyone else (including your own sweet self).  Take a few seconds and give it a thought or two.  When was the last time you made eye contact with a stranger and said “Good morning”?  Did you get outside on one of these magical,  clear, gorgeous days and notice that the air is gently circling your skin with a really loving touch?  Instead of a break from sitting in your desk chair, when was the last time you took a break just to get to know the person who sits in the office down the hall?  The cashier at the supermarket?  How often did you dance this week?  And if you found the time (and we all have the time) to do any of these, did you integrate that moment into your daily post mortem?

See?   Even the occasional monkey takes a minute to think about this sort of stuff.

I think there is a better way.  And it’s not particularly difficult, just a little more embracing of that which is around us.  Smile – fake it til you make it.  Donate five minutes of your day to grace – the silent thank you, the conversation with a stranger who is really not a stranger, because you see him/her all the time.  Laugh hard – make your tummy sore.  Remember to say ‘I love you” – and look that person in the eye when you say it.   Don’t wrap yourself so tight that you can’t move outside your head.  There’s more out there than your thoughts, your list of have to’s, your aggravations.  Find something you have never noticed before and marvel at how little we see when our eyes are wide open.  Learn that this day is yours to turn into something for which you can feel awesome.  And then do it.  Happy Thursday everyone…

discretion, friendship, inspiration, life lessons, love, mindfulness, motivation

These Are The Days

My cousin’s daughter got married last night.  Gorgeous bride, handsome groom – they could be on the cover of any bridal magazine.  They glowed, as only newlyweds can glow – reflecting so much light that your eyes are magnetically drawn to them, as one looks to the stars on the clearest of nights.

Our family has shrunk remarkably – my cousins and I now represent the elders of this tribe.  How strange, as we compared ages and reminisced about how large those nominal differences in our ages once seemed.  We don’t speak of our parents, for none of us have them any longer.  Family events used to be full of grown ups – there were so many of them, and eight of us.  We don’t say anything because each of us is so acutely aware of the absences.  The counterpoint of love and loss is too exquisite.

We are wearing our seniority with limited gravitas.  Dancing with typical disinhibition, not giving a moment’s thought to any propriety associated with our status.  I killed it (and myself) in five-inch heels, caring little about the consequences (sounds like me in college actually).  Let’s not talk about my crooked shape today.  It was worth it.  We longed for the opportunity to forget that there were no parents watching us from the perimeter, nudging each other and marveling at our energy and rhythm.  My dad wasn’t there when the music moved into Motown; I longed to see my mom’s ‘dancing face’ (lips pursed seductively, eyes harmless yet flirtatiously looking directly at her partner).   I wore her bracelet because I knew she would want to be there.  The days of going from one table to another knowing that because you were one of the kids, you were met with the kind of familial adoration which may have little heft, yet envelops completely.  My aunt’s laugh – which would begin a chain reaction with her brothers both hiccupping and crying with delight.  Who knows what our children see when they watch us.  Fortunately they dance along.

Perhaps the bittersweet taste is more acute this time of year.  Tomorrow is the beginning of Rosh Hashanah – the beginning of a new year and the ten ‘Days of Awe’.  ‘On Rosh Hashanah it is written on Yom Kippur it is sealed’ – the fate of another year decided by the sincerity of one’s heart, the commitment to a life led with the best of intentions, the depth of one’s atonement for causing another person pain or sorrow.  I am not religious – and yet I believe deeply.  I attend services on the High Holy Days – am I trying to hedge my bets?  I don’t know.  But I remember leaning against my father’s shoulder and playing with the fringe of his prayer shawl, doing my best to behave so I could sit with the grown-ups when the kids’ service was over.  To sit with my two grown-ups.

And now that is me.  And I ask myself  if my words and my actions have been kind enough,  my generosity sufficiently reflective of that which is in my heart, beseeching  that my family be graced with a sweet, healthy year.  I take my role seriously in this regard – I’m not fist pumping to Marvin Gaye, not trying to prove to my body that it’s still too young to be anything other than spontaneous and flexible.  I am praying for continued life and that’s a pretty adult activity.  The responsibility of the senior members of the tribe to effect with concentrated sincerity and seriousness.  And the wind seems to sigh, knowing that this is the truest dance of all – one that we all move to regardless of our sense of rhythm.  To my friends and family, whom I love more deeply than any ocean and with width and breadth that spans farther than the sky – I wish you a year of joy and health, abundant laughter and sweetness – and love..always, love.

friendship, humor, inspiration, life lessons, love, mindfulness, music

Finding Life

Days

What are days for?

Days are where we live.

They come, they wake us

Time and time over.

They are to be happy in:

Where can we live but days?

Ah, solving that question

Brings the priest and the doctor

In their long coats

Running over the fields.

(By Philip Larkin)

I got a call from a recruiter this week – a C-level HR position in another global law firm.  We may speak tomorrow.  Whether or not we do is irrelevant.  What matters is why I even entertained the prospect at all.  And I realized it’s because I spent so long making a very comfortable living, I really didn’t know diddly about making my life (sorry for the cliché).  Thoughts about working represent the comfort zone and figuring how to find my best life is a far scarier proposition.  And I don’t do fear – I prefer to think of myself as naively intrepid.  And other than the first shock of the day when I see myself in the mirror, I try to avoid any other activities throughout the day which may inspire my flight or fight response.

And the bottom line is – running away from life by running to work isn’t an answer.  Too many people do it, and I used to gently suggest to them that their effectiveness was impacted when work became their refuge, instead of an end in and of itself.  Guilty as charged.

So what am I doing to inform this new narrative?

I started writing this blog with no idea as to its direction or purpose.  And though I’m still not sure of either, I am sure that it has brought me into the lives of some incredibly generous, talented, gorgeous people around the world.  I have found that there is so much that unites us, I’m continually amazed that there are so many divisions.  I delight in laughing out loud at phenomenal humor from people who are deft at taking themselves lightly, or shaking my head with wonder almost every morning at my pal David’s prolific (and occasionally neurotic) wisdom.  I wait for a word from Simon which always fills my heart, celebrate Rhonda’s life-out-loud voice and hold Lori’s words as close as one would a second skin.  Bonnie and I may live in different time zones but we’re on the same page (though hers is a younger, cooler page without question).  Maureen writes her messages with a gentle hand, and Christine and Tuck’s mama share the unbridled joys of parenting (with the occasional frustration thrown in to comfort those of us with wonderful, albeit imperfect progeny).  Some people grapple with physical challenges – some of which I personally share – and are not hesitating to dance through life.  Russ and Ivon and John and Shimon make me wish I was smarter.  Susan makes me pine to be able to write poetry – all my Dr. Seuss riffs notwithstanding. Keith inspires me to want to walk with a lighter footprint upon the earth.  I could go on and on and on and I mean no offense in omitting any names – I hope you know how incredible I think you are.  You are all a part of this life I’m building.

I’m in better shape than I’ve been in a while, and knock out 110 sit-ups at the gym (with a back support), do pull-ups, weight-lift and bike five miles in seventeen minutes.  May not sound like much to you, but I’m enjoying learning what my body can do.  I’ve taught myself how to knit (badly – but hey, I’m great at scarves), began teaching myself the piano and am reading as many books as I can that don’t have to do with leadership and management.  I stay in touch with those who fill my soul and have learned to let go of those who have no need of me and for whom I arguably have no need.  I still hate the phone.  I learned how to download videos from youtube.  I consult, though not as often as I might like (but then again, I am lousy at self-promotion and don’t imagine that changing).

I sing again – although when no one is home.

I’m still learning how to be the best mom to adults, how to be an in-law who’s never an out-law.  How to love so hard and not squeeze the life out of that love.  I’m learning how to sit outside and not feel that I have to get up and do something.   I dance like a madwoman in the kitchen – and I’m not  half bad.   I sat in Starbucks this morning and listened to an elderly woman talk at length about a friend in the hospital.  I have no idea what her name is, but we hugged each other good bye.  I’m learning how to breathe.  And as I write this, I realize that I am learning that this is how one goes about making a life.

And I feel pretty damned intrepid.