humor · life lessons · motivation

Practically Perfect

“They say that nobody is perfect.  Then they tell you practice makes perfect.  I wish they’d make up their minds” — Winston Churchill

Oh Winnie (we’re on informal terms), I am with you pal.  Accepting that we are all so imperfect (even you Win – you had a weirdly shaped head and drank more than your fair share of alcohol – I’m just sayin’…and what about that temper, hmm?),  able to choose the road less traveled with the right intention and the wrong shoes, discovering once lost that we’ve reached a dead-end (while walking without a compass – I still don’t know how to use one, but some people find them handy).  Striving, reaching, folding inward…reflecting upon the answers to questions with a million possible choices.  Perhaps we are lucky enough to find a perfect moment in between all the others, and arguably that’s pretty damn good.  We all know that nothing holds up under intense scrutiny – a perfect rose, an exquisite smile – if gazed upon for too long morphs into something that is slightly wanting (and occasionally a little weird-looking).

I accepted this reality a long time ago – and yet, I’m still searching.  And I’m an idiot.  I have been on a quest for the perfect pair of jeans, the perfect cosmetic blush, the perfect pen for decades (decades,  I tell you).  Straight jeans, boyfriend jeans, jeans with spandex so I can look thin and not breathe, dark jeans, bleached jeans, expensively ripped jeans, bootcut jeans.  I have a long torso and short legs (imagine trying to dress a fireplug), and still wonder if all jeans require that there be a gap at the waist that permits you to catch a lovely breeze while you’re walking.  A pair of jeans that are well-worn and soft, comfortable to a fault that don’t provide the opportunity for me to end up with a self-inflicted and seriously painful wedgie.  Jeans that will close without holding my breath and a zipper that moves easily without the need to lie down on the bed to ease its movement.

I’ve  just about given up on this one – I buy ’em bigger these days, because I just can’t abide by things that hug me so tightly I begin to feel light-headed.  How do I look?  Probably like a representative from Munchkinland who didn’t make it into costume in time.  I am completely aware that Vogue isn’t calling anytime soon.

Make-up is just one big come-on and I fall every time.  Each color is “wonderful for any skin tone”, “gives you that natural flush”, “just apply on the apples of your cheeks and you will look instantly refreshed”.  No I won’t.  I look like a frightening marionette or my application is so light that people ask after my health.  “Coral” looks  like I’ve got navel oranges affixed to my cheeks; pink as if I’ve strategically stuck on cotton candy so I can grab a taste throughout the day.  Brown?  Don’t ask.  If I pinch my cheeks (as some fashion editors recommend) I hurt myself and am left with two welts.  So why am I still bothering?  Hope my friend, hope.  It’s stronger than reality.

Which brings us to my obsession with pens.  Those who remember me from my work days know that my preference was always to use a fountain pen.  Italic nib, so I could write pseudo-calligraphy and remain questionably legible.  I wanted a pen that would float along the page, no sound of scratching, ink flowing evenly and with the sort of fluidity that the end result would almost have to be equally flowing and beautiful.  I also thought it would improve my illegibility, transforming it into magnificent penmanship.  Cheap pens, expensive pens, I have committed to so many, only to discover that I am fickle and that my expectation keeps changing.  I really understand that there may not be a connection between the loveliness of a pen and the words that I write (a bitter, bitter pill to swallow – “I coulda been a contender”).  But I believe there is some writing instrument out there that is going to be close to transformative.  David (davidkanigan.com) wrote of the “Perfect Pen” yesterday and I felt my heart begin to race.  Could it really be?  And it’s available at Office Depot?  No specialty store?  No secret password to gain egress to some high-end pen shop?  You know where I’m heading today.

And yet I know that I will like the pen.  I will not love it, for it is not a fountain pen – but perhaps it will inspire sentences that leave you breathless, wondering with awe how I could even conjure such flights of fancy and delight.  I think I’ll wear my two-sizes-too-big-jeans over there and just keep hitching them up (true I probably walk like a short Walter Brennan but people give me a wide berth) and mix the corals, pinks and browns together before lightly dusting them on my cheeks.  It may seem that my face needs a good washing after that, but what the hell.  Totally unkempt woman walking into Office Depot in search of perfection.  No one will believe it.

discretion · friendship · inspiration · love · mindfulness · motivation · Uncategorized

Beautiful Blessings Remain

Last week, my wondrous friend Lori (donnanddiablo.com) sent me one of John O’Donahue‘s exquisite blessings.  I used to consider myself well-read – until I met Lori;  moderately well-rounded – until I started following David Kanigan (davidkanigan.com), a tad lyrical – until I found Bill (drbillwooten.com).  I also considered myself to have a modicum of some other qualities that have been brought into some question now that I am an avid fan of many of your blogs (and I could go on, but you know from my comments how highly I think of you very, very talented people who enrich my life so often).  Creative, courageous, innovative, funny, unbridled – some of the adjectives that come to mind..

Anyhow, Lori and I are connected in ways too cosmic for me to fully understand.  Our emails cross each other in the cyberspace almost daily, each of us thinking of the other simultaneously.  She can intuit when something’s wrong, and I will feel a shadow across the sun if Lori is troubled.  That I can sense something is ‘off’ with Jo for example, seems to come with breathing – we’ve known each other longer than we have known ourselves.  But Lori and I began in tune without ever having met.  I find it incredible and awesome.  I feel this way about all those I love – each is a blessing.  Corny?  Mea culpa.  Is there a way to say this without sounding corny?  Probably, but this is a reflection of my limitation with the language nothing more.

I hadn’t heard of John O’Donahue.  How I could have missed such beauty?  So I share this with you – though it is Lori who should be thanked for this introduction.  After emailing with a friend of mine earlier this morning, thinking about how we test ourselves and occasionally torture our thoughts and hearts, it seemed only right that I pass this along to you.  I hope you receive it in the spirit with which it is given – with hope in the sunlight.

A Blessing For The New Year

On a day when

The weight deadens

On your shoulders

And you stumble,

May the clay dance

To balance you.

And when your eyes

Freeze behind

The gray window

And the ghost of loss

Gets into you,

May a flock of colors

Indigo, red, green

And azure blue,

Come to awaken in you

A meadow of delight.

When the canvas frays

In the curragh of thought

And a stain of ocean

Blackens beneath you,

May there come across the waters

A path of yellow moonlight

To bring you safely home.

May the nourishment of the earth be yours,

May the clarity of light be yours,

May the fluency of the ocean be yours,

May the protection of the ancestors be yours.

And so may a slow

Wind work these words

Of love around you,

An invisible cloak

To mind your life.

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discretion · friendship · inspiration · leadership · life lessons · management · mindfulness · motivation · training · work life

Sometimes I Get The Message

There was a comment waiting for me this morning that was posted on my “About Me” page.  It was from a manager with whom I used to work at the firm.  She moved on to greater professional opportunities years ago, and we keep in tacit touch on LinkedIn.  And though I remember her in detail, from her reluctant smile, that once shared lit up her entire face to her ardent wish to ‘do the right thing’ for her department – I never really expected to receive such a gift.

“Mimi, I saw this recently and thought of you.  So many times as a leader I reflect on your teachings and I am so very thankful to have them in my toolbox.  Thanks for the Lollipop and for the ones I’ve received because of you.”

And she forwarded along this Ted video.  And I cried (no surprise there).

www.ted.com/talks/drew_dudley_everyday_leadership.html

And the bottom line to all of this?  Be transparent, bring joy, offer people the best you have and if you can’t give them your best, certainly don’t bring them your worst.  Sometimes the farther one travels up the professional food chain, the more likely it is to see people getting by with the most off-hand and dismissive of efforts – after all, there is so much one has to do (yes, this is sarcastic).  I am humbled and honored that Vivia took the time to send me this.  I am appreciative of the reminder that this is really what it’s all about – period.  And my lollipop of choice?  Tootsie pops, hands down.

anxiety · discretion · humor · inspiration · life lessons · mindfulness · motivation

You’d Think I’d Know By Now

I recently received a comment about one of my posts, which I have let drive me crazy.  The person (whose blog I read regularly and enjoy – particularly for the  fabulous photography) wrote candidly that he didn’t read my posts frequently because he found them “too sweet”.  Now before you say anything – this isn’t a referendum on whether he’s right.  He’s right – I’m not the type to disabuse anyone of their feelings and after obsessing about this for days now, I see his point.

I assure you I’m not all that sweet.  Well, I’m sweet, but I have as many snarky moments as the next person.  And I can be sarcastic.  And if you’re a friend or relative of mine, I can be an absolute lioness – with both chuffing and growling sounds perfected.  You get my drift, though believe me I could go on and tell you all the reasons why I can compete with the best provocateurs, devil’s advocates and cynics.  Just ask Andy.  But I digress (again).

What gets me is how much I let this thought consume me.   I have held onto this like Archie covets a new bone.  The circuitous breeze in my head blows relentlessly and none too gently.  “Have I become saccharine?”  “What do I want this blog to reflect?”  “Is it honest” “Am I still thinking like Pollyanna?” (answer to this question is  – yes).  “Do I have anything new to say or have I become Mimi One-Note?”  “How much do I want to put out there”  Of course, the answers change direction depending on the time of day, the state of my hair, and whether I have eaten recently.  As of this writing, I’ve decided that I’ve got to let it go.  Must be time for lunch.

I began this blog with a thousand different ideas about what I wanted it to be like and then zeroed in on a year’s worth of entries that I could print out and give to my sons – a somewhat morbid, but well-intended gesture for them.  I’m now well into my second year and I can’t see giving them a flippin’ tome, so what am I doing now?  Honestly, I have no idea.  Given that I’m a big believer that certain answers come with time, I’m giving it time and just moving forward.  What I do know is that I’m as transparent as I feel I can be.

On Monday we were out to dinner with friends of ours who have had a really challenging year.   Her son was diagnosed with a serious illness, she was just laid off for the second time in less than a year.  The company he works for is on the brink of going under.  And yet, there we sat genuinely aware that we were all beyond lucky.  First and foremost, her son is much, much better – and that offers a perspective like nothing else.  We live in far better circumstances than most people in the world.  We laugh – a lot.  We know love.  We’re more aware that the concept of happiness is not something that is a given, rather more like snatches of sunlight between the cracks in a day.  The key is in noticing those spaces.  I’m trying to look for them, choosing to find them.  I don’t want to miss my chances, for the weather changes with little warning.

Lately, I’ve been acutely aware of time speeding past.  When the hell did I become 59 when I still hold on to such immaturity?   I’m not ready to age-out of life just yet and would prefer to be in the game with some well-preserved naiveté and faith in a whole bunch of things that are bigger than me (note to David Kanigan – no height comments here, pal).  I’d rather be acknowledging the spaces in-between and delight when I find them.  Pollyanna?  You betcha – though I don’t do braids.

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anxiety · discretion · friendship · inspiration · life lessons · mindfulness · motivation

With Props To Ashton Kutcher

It’s kind of hard for me to give props to someone I don’t know much about nor have followed for his artistry or contributions to humanity.  To me he’s a cute guy who is starring in “Jobs” – and that just opened here yesterday, so how familiar should I be?  Oh yeah, he was married to Demi Moore – someone else I haven’t befriended (well, in fairness she hasn’t befriended me either, so…).

Anyway, this video is traveling the circuit that arguably could have been the Borscht Belt circuit before technology.   Although he was reaching out to a screaming bunch of teenagers (and skip the first 1 min 44 seconds unless you like to listen to hysteria), the message is ageless.  As we weave our own stories, jumping in and out of costume changes as we try on new iterations of ourselves…wondering how to make our next chapters meaningful while we re-define its definition…This is for us too.  Happy Saturday all.