discretion · friendship · humor · life lessons · love · mindfulness · motivation

Just Another Musing

I came across this little sentence this morning (though there was no attribution, so forgive me) – “An ugly personality destroys a pretty face.” Sounds like something my maternal grandmother might have brought with her from the ‘old country’,  packed in the suitcase with the two silver candlesticks.  (There were some great Yiddishisms that don’t necessarily translate too well, but they’re so evocative – “may every tooth in your mouth rot except one, and may that one ache for the rest of your life”.  Who came up with this?)  Sorry – off on a tangent.  Anyway, I never met her, though I was blessed with her name.  I still think I’m too young for the heft of “Miriam”, though it’s a name I have grown to love.  True, in the Bible she saved her brother (which one really can’t dismiss, for it was reflective of love and bravery and selflessness and there wouldn’t be a whole lot to write about if Moses hadn’t made it), but she died from leprosy – not exactly a happifying ending for a really nice girl.

Our family’s Miriam – my grandmother – appears in photos as this beautiful, serious grown-up with incredibly wise eyes and lips that remain fixed in a straight line.  She betrays nothing in those few pictures – not what she has seen, endured, celebrated or lost.  And arguably there wasn’t a lot for her to smile about until my sister was born and I believe that her arrival was her greatest joy, the most affirming, gorgeous, delicious experience she would ever know.  I wish there were pictures of her holding Deb, for I think she would have been breathtaking, revealing far more than a stoic image with beautiful features.

And that really is just it – what distinguishes one lovely structured visage from another?  What echoes in your soul when your memory constructs its image of a person?   The initial description is often cosmetic – the color of a person’s hair and eyes, relative height and overall appearance.  Laws of attraction come into play, I realize, which brings me to another one of my grandmother’s great lines – “an owl to one, is a nightingale to another”.  I realize that some people are physically more attractive than others, and I am definitely vain enough to want to qualify for the more positive adjectives that can be applied to short women (though I really feel that ‘perky’ and ‘cute’ can’t compete with ‘gorgeous’ and ‘stunning’, but whatever).

So with those caveats, life has also been lived long enough for me to see that with a second look, there is nothing that diminishes or enhances a person more than their core.  Some of the most good-looking people I have met are also the least appealing.  Smiles that at best are disingenuous and at worst don’t reach the eyes, callous comments and narcissistic perspectives.  Too much lipstick and too little warmth; six pack abs and an empty ‘can o’ care’ inside.  Eyes that search for the next-thing-that-isn’t-good-enough and never settle upon a magical moment.  Hands that are ridiculously smooth because they haven’t held onto anything for dear life.  The most beautiful people I know are not indifferent to their appearance at all.  They also don’t define beauty too narrowly.   I gravitate to the magnificence of an open heart, the delicate touch of kindness, the warmth of an expansive smile.  I think most of us do.  At a certain point you realize that the reflections of a person’s heart redefine the parameters of attractiveness.

Or as my grandmother used to say “pretty is as pretty does”.  Have a great Sunday everybody.

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This woman’s talent is astonishing, her passion truly breath-taking. But what moves me the most is her palpable love for the marriage of music and spontaneity. Happy Saturday Morning all..

Make Something Mondays!

I hate the word “epic”, but I cannot find a better term to describe Lindsey Stirling and her music. Lindsey is a YouTube sensation who successfully combines the classic violin with modern dance. Yes, she dances while she plays, and she’s unforgettable.

Lindsey has become a huge success over the past few years. She has played on YouTube, America’s Got Talent, at video game convention E3, at arts festivals, and has visited global locations like London, Italy, and Kenya. She made a great video on her Kenya experience. Did I mention that Lindsey composes, choreographs, and directs all of her own music and videos?

AND if you consider yourself an avid gammer you will most likely enjoy her. Gammers are some of Lindsey’s most avid fans. Check out her personal take on video franchise themes The Legend of Zelda and Skyrim.

Lindsey Stirling on social media:
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friendship · life lessons · love · mindfulness · parenting

Are We There Yet?

“I was born very far from where I’m supposed to be, and so I’m on my way home.” – Bob Dylan

‘Home’ – the definition in and of itself is intriguing.  It implies something stationary, yet I think it moves and morphs frequently.  When I was little (until the sixth grade), home was an apartment with a hallway that I thought was a mile long, the dotted linoleum in the bedroom I shared with my sister and the kitchen.  It was the night table I scratched my name into while I was talking on the phone with my dad during one of his trips to California.  It was the elevator button that I couldn’t reach when I was five and decided to run away.   When we moved to a larger apartment,  home became both safe haven and hell – as only home can be when you are an angst-ridden adolescent.

When the boys and I went out on our own, we moved a lot.  So much so that I would assure these two toddlers that home was anywhere we were together – whether we were in the car, at the supermarket, in our beds, taking a walk.  As long as we were together, we were home.  I remember feeling that I was saying this for myself as much as for them;  our various rentals somehow didn’t offer an accurate definition or image of what I wanted our home to be.  I had migrated so far from who I was, I’m not sure any four walls would have felt like a comfortable representation of home.  In a very pure way, the only home was truly where the boys were, for they were really all I was sure of, my touchstone, my heart.

So it should follow that if ‘home is where the heart is’, our address should also change (figuratively) with some frequency as we find our comfort with who we and where we are.  Where our love lies, where our being is at peace, where we can cocoon and soar, happy dance and hold on for dear life.

We’ve lived in our house for twenty-one years.  And I’m not the same person I was when we first moved in.  The walls don’t show the dirty fingerprints from little people who in principle would not use a banister.  There are echoes in some places where voices used to be.  We talk about moving and can’t move ourselves to do so.  For over time, the house was able to adapt itself to whoever I was at any given time, holding me tightly and with safety when at my most vulnerable and unsure,  and willing to open its arms when I needed room to explore and roam.  It has given me different rooms to settle into depending on my mood and greets me with comforting noises that are reflective of our ongoing conversation.  This house knows me well.  I’ve always been a little reluctant about long-term relationships, and our house let me fall in love in my own time.  It kept my children safe-ish (they did some pretty crazy things when they were younger), it held us all together until we could define ourselves as a family.

I get Dylan’s point – and I also realize that I have traveled far to arrive here.  My family is my heart.  My house after all this time, is my home.

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anxiety · friendship · inspiration · life lessons · love · mindfulness · parenting

When There Are No Answers

“Hope is the thing with feathers

That perches in the soul

And sings the tune without the words

And never stops at all” — Emily Dickinson

Some days need to be subdued.  In the silence you can hear your thoughts – jumbled though they may be, scatological and spontaneous, making sense maybe, perhaps not.  Maybe it’s the mind’s way of trying to integrate contradictory stimuli.

Is it the phases of the moon or just the stages of life that bring four of my cherished friends to the ragged edge of loss this weekend?  Remarkable people who have never met, marking anniversaries of loss, experiencing the passing of a beloved family member, and/or finding themselves staring straight into the sea of frightening inevitability which we deny for as long as we can?  And why does life’s corollary have to be so untenable?  I have no idea.

I don’t know if there’s a heaven; I have a hard time conceiving of hell.  I think I’m very faithful, for I believe in many things that I can’t see – and for me, it is the simplest way to embrace something as indescribably huge as faith.  And love.  And hope.  I know that when we have to let go, we never really do.  One of my friends was relating the conversation she and her brother had with their dad, telling him that they were okay, that they would be okay…My sister and I had similar discussions with our parents when they were arguably between two worlds.  And yesterday I thought to myself that sometimes the idea of leaving is untenable because we don’t want to leave our children with no barrier against mortality.  The thought that they have to assume a different and arguably scarier position when we are no longer physically here.  The mere thought is anathema to me.  Life – that is all that we want our loved ones to embrace.  How dissonant to suggest that our abdication requires their assumption of a new place in line?  Perhaps one of the greatest acts of love is hanging in there if one can, with the invisible, powerful hope that we are still protecting those we love beyond measure.

I believe that some souls come into our life for a brief time, and leave indelible imprints on our hearts, our approach to each day, etc.  Some remind us that we are loved, when we doubt it; others nurture us when we have forgotten how to do this for ourselves; defiantly protect us when we are emotionally over-exposed.  Are they angels?  Their miraculous arrival and elusive departure suggest they could be.  Is there a better way to define a lifeline when it is provided and holds you together with unshakeable confidence and purpose?

I know the canned answer is that the experience of sorrow somehow makes the moments of joy all the lovelier.  Loss underscores our appreciation of that which we have.  It sounds good enough to become a cliché, though like most trite comments, it doesn’t necessarily resonate in the heart.  Hope however, has wings.  Hope that forever is a place, that love remembered is a blessing and love extended is a gift.  I wish it didn’t have to hurt so damn much.  I wish that tears weren’t necessary.  The daffodil shoots are stubbornly insisting on breaking through the frozen ground – indifferent to the reality that greets them when they appear.  They persist – with faith.  They will flourish in the spring – with hope.

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friendship · humor · life lessons · love · mindfulness · motivation · music

The Second Best Part Of A Vacation

We had a fantastic week away..the weather couldn’t have been more accommodating (with sincere apologies to my friends up north who had apparently located Nemo while we were hanging out in the sun),  the only required nod to time had to do with Andy’s scheduled tee times (and he shot an 80 the second time he went out!  The first round would have been equally as impressive were it not for the beer after the front nine).  I only listened to the music provided by the environment all around me – the leaves from palm trees as they tickled and teased each other in the wind, the ocean playing tag with the shore.  Occasionally the riff of laughter extending from one end of the beach to the other.  Oh yeah, there also was the occasional, “the drink you requested madam?”  That’s fine – call me Madam (sorry I couldn’t resist).

Tuesday morning we spent with the dolphins.  The pictures I took were awful (note to self, put on glasses before trying to focus), the pictures the conservation folks took were better (the ones below).  Ironically, we hung out with a dolphin named Andy, who apparently took issue with someone else having his name who would not kiss him with a full pucker (he gave a full on Bronx cheer to my conquering hero).  I was mesmerized by his eyes (the dolphin Andy, that is) – believe me, these brilliant mammals size us up in much the same way we assess those around us.  They pick up vibes, tease, play coy and make their share of mischief.  And don’t make the mistake of ticking them off.  I also met three new baby dolphins who are first beginning to explore life away from their moms (dolphins nurse until they are almost three years old).  Did I fall in love?  You betcha.

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I suppose this wouldn’t be a Mimi-post without a musing or two (what can I say?  I muse a lot).  There was one day when the beach was closed.  The ocean, with presence of mind and purpose, felt the need to remind the shore that just as it brought it onto the land, it could take it away.  And it did.  The ferocity of the waves was so intense that the beach chairs, tables and umbrellas were washed out to sea, some returned in pieces and left as the detritus of the ocean’s pique.  It was loud and magnificent, boastful and confident.  I watched for hours, realizing that no two waves were the same, no two sounds exact replicas, no sea foam frothing in circles and eddies that were similar.  If you looked with little sight, you might think it was just a relentless pounding and abatement.  If you looked with your eyes wide open and your ears tuned to the right station, no two notes were alike.

And so it is with our days, our minutes, our seconds.  Regardless of how many we have, no matter how they may seem at times to fold into each other with nothing easily identifiable to distinguish one from another – no two moments in time are the same.  From this perspective, it’s almost impossible to imagine how rich life is – with possibilities, choices, magic.  No two moments that are the same.  What we choose to do – how we look upon our time – that is what it’s all about.  I decided to accept a challenge posted while I was gone by davidkanigan.com at Lead.Learn.Live – to begin with three days of finding the goodness in others, and censoring the less kind thoughts I may have in a moment of impatience…ultimately extending this practice to a year (if I can do it).  I’ll screw it up of course, though I have promised myself  that when I do, I’ll get back on the board.  The truth of the matter is, I don’t really think a lot of nasty stuff about people and there are very few for whom I reserve really unkind thoughts.  I realize that I give them too much of my sacred time by according them much attention.  With that as a backdrop, I think I can do this – and enjoy the waves as I ride them.  It’s probably the closest I’ll ever come to surfing anyway.

And so the second best thing about vacation is absolutely coming home.  Anticipating the delight of seeing my kids, having Sir Teddy share my chair as I write this and Archie asleep on my Ugg slipper, the laundry spinning in the dryer, and the glorious knowledge that on this day, I got to write to you.  It’s good to be home.  I could choose nothing better than this one moment.