Friday, July 30, 2010

Ladies First, Forget the Boy Scouts

President Obama has now appeared (yet again) on The View. He chose a show, he said, "that Michele watches." Uhhh... okaaay... please tell me you're not buying that. A man in his position is going to use milk toast criteria to influence a stainless steel strategy? Wait, maybe he's simply keen on pleasing his wife in an attempt to compensate for breaking his two-year-old promise to her that he would stop smoking!

He is, if anything, razor sharp when it comes to campaigning, and he is forever campaigning because it's what he does best -- so why would he deviate? No, he chose a venue where (a) he would reach lots of ... women... which is the category showing the greatest decline in supporters and (b) he would be surrounded by... women... most of whom were very obviously predisposed to behave adoringly. At least he is channeling his charm in a different direction than did Bill Clinton!

What do you have on your i-pod? Do you know Lindsay Lohan is in jail? Do you know who Snookie is? OMG, what an insult to all View-ers with triple digit IQs. I wasn't surprised, I was disappointed. Elisabeth tossed out the one question with substance, and then let him skate when he answered. As far as the panel goes, she was my one hope, but she has been growing increasingly docile and now, it seems, has gone over to the dark side -- no pun intended. And I'm talking about gushers, BTW, not Democrats. I won't be View-ing future seasons of The View after the farce that was aired yesterday.

To be honest I was getting pretty tired of fluffy celebrities hawking their tell all book, latest movie, or just released CD. Tired of affordable fashions and ditzy diet fads. Tired of Whoopie peering out from behind her floppy dreadlocks. Tired of the top heavy Sherry stuck chest deep on her divorce, her kid, her galavanting and herself -- not necessarily in that order. Tired of Barbara's faux humility. But more than anything else, I was SICK and tired of Joy's vitriol. What a bitter and pathetic excuse for a comedianne. If I had to choose who to toss out of a boat into shark infested water and it was between Joy Bahar and Nancy Pelosi, I swear I'd either find a way to toss them both, or I'd leave them behind and I'd jump!

But back to the president. I first became aware of Barak Obama when he spoke years ago at the Democratic convention, and I admit I was in absolute awe. What a presence! When we elected him as our first black president, I was proud of us as a nation, and hopeful that he would keep his campaign promises to unite rather than divide. Well, at least he kept one promise... he is transforming America. Regardless of what the majority of the people want, he is getting what he wants,and has definitely fooled some of the people most of the time.

Oh. Did you know the audience of The View that day was made up solely of the show's staff members, crew and favored friends? Not much chance of a heckler that way. And did you know he chose appearing on the popular daytime talk show over an invitation to the celebration of the 100th anniversary of the Boy Scouts of America? Way to go, Mr. President. Way to honor our most precious natural resource, the youth of our land, the face of our nation's future (rather than your own). And he did so without apology. Then, after charming the ladies of The View, he traveled to an event where he addressed teachers and complained to them about the frivolity the female panel had displayed. We have more important matters to discuss, he admonished. OMG. The nerve of the man. Love 'em and leave 'em... in the dust.

I didn't vote for Obama but when he won I wanted to support him and I tried to believe in him and now I wish I could trust him. But I don't. I'll take integrity over charisma any day of the week, but that's hard to find in politics. Come November, our president may find a change he wasn't bargaining for. Can more Republicans level the playing field? Who knows. Maybe it's six one way and half a... dirty... dozen the other.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Shirley Sherrod and The Secret

What has happened recently to Shirley Sherrod is interesting, ironic, and discouraging. We should be able to trust the media to get it right, and to remain objective in their coverage; but those days are apparently gone for good.

When we finally learned Ms. Sherrod was quoted out of context to come across as racist, what occurred to me is (1) how many times I've been misquoted by the press simply due to lazy reporting, and (2) how the technique of "words out of context" can be used deliberately as a weapon against the speaker.

Or to mislead others.

And this brings to my mind the research Frank and I did when The Secret (Rhonda Byrne's huge money maker) became all the rage. For starters, Ms. Byrne attributed a self-serving quote to Ralph Waldo Emerson: "The secret is the answer to all that has been, all that is, and all that ever will be." According to the Emerson Society (authentic experts and thorough in their knowledge of all things Emerson), no such statement (or anything close to it)ever existed. But here's the tactic used by Byrne that correlates to the Shirley Shirrod fiasco:

In The Secret Ms Byrne quotes Winston Churchill as saying: "You create your own universe as you go along." This statement appears IN CONTEXT as follows (in caps so that it's easier to spot).

“Some of my cousins who had the great advantage of University education used to tease me with arguments to prove that nothing has any existence except what we think of it. The whole creation is but a dream; all phenomena are imaginary. YOU CREATE YOUR OWN UNIVERSE AS YOU GO ALONG. The stronger your imagination, the more variegated your universe. When you leave off dreaming, the universe ceases to exist.

"These amusing mental acrobatics are all right to play with. They are PERFECTLY HARMLESS and PERFECTLY USELESS. I warn my younger readers only to treat them as a game. The metaphysicians will have the last word and defy you to disprove their absurd propositions.”

The quote Byrne attributes to Churchill actually represents the point of view of his COUSINS, with whom Churchuill did NOT agree! In fact, in his own words he declares such "mental acrobatics" to be "perfectly useless."

I have studied ancient philosopy, metaphysics and quantum physics. In all fairness, much of what The Secret teaches is valid; however, some of it is not; and the fact that Byrne felt it necessary to resort to shoddy misrepresentations to support her work, (a) detracts from her credibility and (b) disturbs me. Her public deserves better.

I disagree with Churchill's pronouncement that gullibility in this area is "harmless." Byrne sells the snake oil and includes the caveat that if it doesn't work, it's the fault of the person who bought it, not the person who sold it. She places full responsibiity on each of us as individuals, with no recognition of a divine force superior to man, with the power to intervene in our course of actions. Furthermore, victims such as those devestated by Hurricane Katrina or the 9/11 tragedy, for example, brought it on themselves, she says... giving no recognition either to the negative polarity that exists in our universe.

Her claims are not harmless. Indeed they inflict harm on those gullible enough to believe that, should they fall short of success following her teachings, their failure is their own fault.

Apparently the secret discovered by Ms. Byrne is actually how to make a lot of money selling a little truth wrapped up in a lot of b.s. Maybe she learned this from the modern day media. Or did they learn it from her?

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Electronic Overload

As if I wasn't already confused enough, now that I'm blogging AND FaceBooking AND sending an occasional newsletter e-blast to nearly 2,ooo people, I have to sit in front of my monitor for a few minutes to decide where it is I'm supposed to be going with my fingers on the keyboard, and to do what? And why? And after I push the right buttons, what do I do next, to get there from here?

It's like reaching for my Blackberry to change the channel on the TV, or trying to answer the remote control when I hear something ring.

Which brings me to a pet peeve. I understand the reasoning (sort of) behind hiring workers in foreign countries to do telemarketing. But when I hear someone on the line who trips over their own tongue trying to pronounce the name of my business, and when they give their own name (Nancy or Susan or Robert or Jake, for example) and you have to ask them to repeat it three times before you can penetrate their accent, I lose patience. And they lose me. Click. It seems that our country is paying them not only to pester us incessantly, but also to practice their English on us when they've had few if any actual lessons. Then I feel guilty. Maybe I should have helped them out, like a teacher's aide does in our school system. "Were you trying to say pul-eeze or po-leese? Are you being polite or is this some sort of emergency?"

And what about those stupid calls when you run like mad to answer the phone and the line is dead or you hear some weird signal that isn't even a person. Next thing you know it happens again. Apparently there are machines that call us to find out when the best time is to have a non-machine call us. Or to fax us. Or whatever. Sometimes I make a pretty good guess at it when I see a weird number on my caller ID, but I've been wrong more than once and when I discover it's actually a client calling, I have to immediately switch from my "Why don't you just leave me the blank alone" voice to my "Oh! Great to hear from you" voice. This takes some amount of skill.

Yes, I've put my number on all the "do not call" lists I'm aware of, but this doesn't seem to help. I think it may actually be a scheme whereby your number is sold to other companies so they have more people to pester.

You know it's getting bad when you pull up a chair in front of the microwave and point your cordless mouse at its door, click away, and wonder what's wrong with your reception now, or when you push the button on your mattress warmer control expecting the ceiling fan to accelerate.

But worst of all is when you're talking to your husband about the chores you need him to do, and he points his electronic car key at you, trying to find the mute button.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Happy This & Happy That

It all began a year or so ago when the girls -- Annabella (almost 6) and Evelyn (almost 4) came to visit and I said, "Oh, Gramma's eyes are so happy to see you!"

Then a few months back when they were getting a little loud while we were driving in the car. I said, "Girls, it makes Gramma's ears very unhappy when you are too loud." So they quieted down. Later they began to get a little snitty with each other. I said, "Oh-oh. Gramma's ears are unhappy again." So they changed their attitude. Of course it makes my ears happy when they hear the girls saying please and thank you and playing nicely with each other.

Then I told them once when we were hugging, "This makes Gramma's arms sooooo happy." Now when they see me they come running with their arms open wide, singing, "Happy arms! Happy arms!"

I tell them brushing their teeth makes their teeth happy, and of course we have to keep their hair happy too. Wearing their pink cowboy boots with the silver and stone decorations, makes for happy feet. Drinking anything out of a grown up (stem) glass makes their hands happy, and they tell me whipped cream and marshmallows make their tummies happy.

What I'm trying to figure out is how to get them to feel happy about their first swimming lesson this afternoon. They like to play in the water with an assortment of floating devices, but they do NOT like putting their faces in the water. And simply mentioning the upcoming lesson results in a heartbreaking look of sheer horror that makes me cry. So I'm not mentioning it again.

Their mother will be here soon to take them to the swim class. I'll wait, and let HER explain why they're getting in the car with their swimsuits on, and not jumping in the pool in Gramma's back yard to make all those floaty devices happy.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Here, There and Everywhere

I understand the concept of living "in the moment," and yes, there's a lot to be said for it. However, there are also times to revisit the past and skip forward to the future. Sometimes the last thing you want or need is to "be here now." When you're having a blood test or getting an injection, for example. Excellent time to leave the scene, mentally. Come back when it's over.

If we're always here now, isn't that like driving down the freeway and never looking in the rearview mirror, or checking out what lies ahead of you to anticipate and avoid whatever? I believe it's about balance. Look around you, Grasshopper, to see the sights, take in the smells, and get the feel of here now, but occasionally shift your focus so that you can (a) learn from the past in order to avoid repeating mistakes OR to draw upon an experience that is enriching; and (b) project into the future to (a) create an image of how you hope your life will be (remember it's written in the Bible that where there is no vision, the people perish) OR to consider options and make informed choices in advance. This is called being organized.

I leave for Alaska in 25 days. I'm pleased to say I've been there before (with Frank), so remembering my past trips makes me very happy, and anticipating the upcoming trip (with my daughter-in-law) excites me and motivates me to make calls, send e-mails, etc., to put our itinerary in order. (When I talk to someone on the phone who is in Alaska, I mentally travel there, which is a lot more fun that sitting at my desk.)

I've also calendared every Jennifer Lind / New Christy Minstrels performance I can get to through the end of the year, I'm expecting another granddaughter early September, I'm jazzed about a Horse Trail Trial ride I'm doing in October, and in November I'll be in Hawaii with my son who's turning 50, along with some other family members. The idea is to have things TO look forward to! A monk in a monestary is ensconced in routine, with every day being virtually the same as the one before it. Nice place to visit but wouldn't want to live there. In my world I want to skip around in time. And eat meat.

I feel very, very sad for the cows, chickens, sheep, etc. But I also feel bad when I pick a zucchini from my garden, bring it in, cut it up, put it in a salad or a frying pan, then eat it. Perhaps it isn't a "sentient being," but do we know that for sure? I mean, vegetation may have its own standard for setting the value of life. I think we have to ask, "What is the purpose of a cow? A Zucchini?" Maybe when we consume them for energy, we are helping them fulfill their destiny? Perhaps the best we can do is to maintain an attitude of appreciation and reverence. A little sensitivity...

On my way out to Brandi's pasture at the ranch I pass an old white horse named Isabella, who is literally skin and bone, dying of cancer. It just breaks my heart. I always glance that way to see if she's still there, knowing one day she won't be. Sometimes I stop and give her a carrot. Frank reminds me that in the wild, she would have been long gone. Food for the wolves. It isn't always a pretty world...

BUT! ALASKA IS BEAUTIFUL! This is me bringing myself back UP! See how it works? Looking back, looking ahead, visiting another place in our minds -- I believe we've been given this ability for a reason. And I'm here now making it a point to focus on the plans I just made to zipline in Skagway, for example, rather than dwelling on the fact that I'll be away from Frank for 14 days. Oooops.

ALASKA IS BEAUTIFUL. That's me, bringing myself up again.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

A Night To Remember

Last night we went to a fundraiser at Micke Grove Zoo. It was a highlight in my life for many reasons.

1) We arrived early to get a good seat, only to learn that Jennifer Lind had reserved a place for us with her family. What an honor! VIP seating! And I was right next to her mom, which was a delight in itself. It was fun to bask in the glow of maternal pride, and to hear stories of Jennifer's childhood (over a very tasty steak dinner).

2) I was not only in the presence of a legend -- Randy Sparks -- but we all had the privilege and pleasure of singing Happy Birthday to him. (How many people can say they have sung to Randy Sparks?!) He's turning 77 this week. He doesn't look it. He can still charm an audience with his wonderful wit, clever lyrics, and distinctive voice. They don't make 'em like Randy Sparks anymore. I smiled so much that this morning my cheeks hurt. Driving home last night my palms were tingling from all the clapping.

3) Jennifer was on top of her game. She sang a solo love song to her husband that made my heart skip a beat. God, I love her voice. It's like none other I've ever heard. Becky Jo has a a scene-stealing stage presence, but oh, that Jennifer. I'm not sure but there may be a halo that appears when she sings. Well, you can hear it more than see it, but there it is, perched at an interesting little angle, almost touching one cute little ear.

4) We came out on top of the bidding with one out of three items we were interested in, and won the only drawing prize I was really hoping for. All this while feeling really cool that our money was going to a worthy cause (feeding the critters at the zoo). Which brings to mind Randy's remarks about charities. He so pushed my buttons! This was the fifth year that he has performed at this particular fundraiser, and it's his policy to do so on his own terms -- that every cent go to the cause... not 90% to "administration" and 10% to help out, as is so often the case. Way to go, Randy!

I've said it before but I'm going on the record with it here and now. Jennifer Lind is going places. On a selfish note (no pun intended), when she reaches the top I'll be able to say I knew her on her way up. I hope she's aware of the Zen concept: "When you reach the top of the mountain, keep climbing!"

Saturday, July 17, 2010

I'ts the Old Yin/Yang Thing Again

So. My grandson, who is a professional bull rider and bronc rider -- living out his cowboy dreams in Texas -- is back in California. Has been for nearly a week. Do I know this because he called, texted or came to see me?

No. I found out on FaceBook.

When I asked my granddaughter about this I discovered that yes, young Craig has seen his Dad (Craig the elder). And even though (a) I spent part of last night with Craig the Elder walking around together at Lincoln Center Live (an event he enjoys, I don't, but his wife couldn't go and he didn't want to go alone so I was happy to fill in), and even though (b) I always ask, "What do you hear from the kids? How are they doing?" and even though (c) I offered this morning to let my granddaughter use my truck till she can buy a car, and even though (d) I left a message on a couple of machines saying "I hear Young Craig is in California -- still, somehow, no one thought to mention to me that they have seen him! Meaning he has been, most likely, within five minutes of my house.


Are my feelings hurt?


At the same time, I can look back on when I lived in San Jose and there were times I came to Stockton and didn't go to see my grandmother. Or even call her. So I understand. Priorities are priorities, and Young Craig is about having a good time, not about stopping by an old lady's house to give her a hug.

It doesn't matter that I used to change his diapers. It doesn't matter that from the time he started walking until he lost interest, every year on his birthday we drove him to The Broken Arrow Western Store on the outskirts of town to let him pick out his own little cowboy boots. It doesn't matter that I taught him in grammar school a neat way to learn his spelling words. It doesn't matter that we went to his rodeos when his father wouldn't, and watched him hit the ground and hit the fence and be hit by various parts of an irate bull. Over and over again. It doesn't matter that we bought him his first chaps, so he didn't have to borrow someone else's, or that we slipped him 20-40 bucks everytime we saw him, to help pay for gas. It doesn't matter that I am absolutely certain he found time to visit his other set of grandparents (his mother would see to that).

What matters is that I was deliberately left out of the loop on this visit, and not just by him.

It's the old Yin and Yang thing. In all good there is bad and in all bad there is good. Getting old is a good thing when you consider the alternative, and knowing that your kids, grandkids and great grandkids love you is a good thing too, but a bad thing when you're the only one reminding yourself of that.

This is the way I see it: When you're a parent, it's like you're driving the car and your kids are passengers. Then they start driving, but you get to sit up front. Then they start picking up other passengers, and you're moved to the back seat. Then the inside of the car fills up, and you're put in the trunk.

Need I talk about "kicked to the curb" being next?

As my almost-six-year-old granddaughter Annabella told me a year or so ago, "It's all a part of life, Gramma." I think she was talking about a broken crayon, and I was impressed with the philosophy lesson, taught to her by my daughter, no doubt.

I'm sorry now for the times I didn't phone or visit my grandmother. I think it's because my mother treated her badly, and I learned by osmosis to also deem her unimportant. That was also back when I was still trying to win my mother's approval, by being as much like her as possible (though I didn't realize this at the time. And, by the way, it didn't work. I never won her approval.) But my gramma lived alone, and I was the baby of the family. Now, in looking back, I'm ashamed of myself. I hope I made up for it later in life, when she lived her last year with me and my family in a nice home in the country, and I spoiled her all I could.

I don't live alone though, as she did, so less harm done. And speaking of looking back, my Honey is taking me to the fundraiser tonight at Micke Grove Zoo, where I'm hoping Jennifer Lind and Randy Sparks will sing their duet, "Looking Back." It's my favorite.

Maybe for awhile I can get lost in their music, and forget about being "forgotten" -- so to speak.

The Mel Gibson Debacle

I have had it!

No, not with Mel Gibson. I've never been a huge Mel Gibson fan, so how dramatically he screws up his life is not something I'll lose sleep over.

I've had it with the media! Nothing irks me more than having my intelligence insulted, and the media gets off big time on doing exactly that.

Here are some sensible (as opposed to salacious) points I'd like to make:

1. Am I the only one who knows how easy it is to mix voices on a recording? And to "cut and paste" sound bites to make an exchange into something it wasn't? Consider this possibility:

She says (in reality): "Mel, you cut my allowance in half last month!"

He says (in reality): "You were snorting coke with the baby in your arms. You deserved it when I only gave you 10K instead of 20K for your damned incidentals."

She has this on tape. Now she doctors the tape. She says into a recorder, "You hit me in the mouth when I was holding the baby, and you broke two of my teeth." After which she splices in Mel saying, "... You deserved it!"

Now don't get me wrong. I have been the victim of spousal abuse (a zillion years ago), so this ditsy dame gets no sympathy from me. Nor does Mel. It goes without saying it's their baby I care most about. But here's the question: Is Mel an over-the-top a..h.... extraordinaire, or is he manic depressive? Which is a mental disorder. He's so text book manic depressive it screams out (no pun intended) at anyone who has ever so much as sat in on a Psychology 101 class!

Now I'm not going to try here to educate the public on manic depression,. I'm no expert. But I will say this, because it needs saying (and the media certainly isn't taking the opportunity): (1) There seems to be a direct positive correlation between manic depression and head injuries. Duh. Has not Mel-the-mess done many of his own movie stunts? (2) Remember when Mel had a cathedral built where he could worship because the mainstream Catholic environment was too "soft" for his deep devotion? Duh. Manic depressives are people who take extreme opposites to... the extreme. A private cathedral and the penchant for verbal/physical/possibly sexual abuse he demonstrates? Extreme opposites. Hello? (3) Delusions associated with narcissism are common with manic depression, often centering on, "I'm so special, so superior to others, that the rules and laws that apply to them don't apply to me!"

My point here is actually this one: If reporters actually cared about reporting in any manner that might actually serve a societal purpose, wouldn't they be looking at and talking about manic depression -- which can decimate lives and has decimated thousands of lives apart from this sad, sorry-ass celebrity couple? Fact is, reporters are not in the news business to help make this world a better place. They're in it to make their paychecks better! And the unquestioning public supports this and them.

Most reporters practically salivate when something turns to s...t and they can get to it with a microphone and a camera. And objectivity? Puleeeze. They can't even fake it. And since I'm admittedly no expert, where the h...l are all the actual psychiatric experts who could be on talk shows actually educating the public about manic depression?

That's actually why I've had it!

Things And Other Stuff

The more things you have, the more things you have to take care of. You have a house? Gotta take care of it. House with a yard? Gotta take care of the yard too. House with a yard with a pool? Now you gotta take care of the pool as well. Vegetable garden? Weeds to pull.

The more things you have, the more things you have to worry about. You have a car? Gotta worry about it breaking down, or being scratched or dinged (or worse) or stolen. You have a car that's a convertible? Now you have to worry about someone slashing the cloth top. Your car have a nice in-dash stereo system? Gotta worry about it being taken.

The more things you have, the more things you have to figure out how to use. I can't even name all the pieces of electronic equipment my husband has foisted upon me, let alone use any of them.

I can remember when life was simple. A friend would phone me and we'd meet for lunch. Now? A "friend" is someone on your FaceBook page, whom you may or may not even know. Is someone trying to reach me? I have to check my home phone and my cell phone for messages. I have to check for a text message as well. I have to check my e-mail, and even the mail box out front because some old timers still send something now and then via the post office. I have to check my FaceBook, even though I've only had a one-hour class and haven't the foggiest idea what I'm doing there, I just navigate from place to place as best I can -- a little like a drunk sailor. And of course when I blog, I have to check for comments... just in case.

Probably shouldn't even start on the beeping. Yet here I go. It seems as though everything in my life is beeping at me these days. The microwave. The toaster oven. The washing machine. My cell phone. Though some things ding instead. My car, my truck, I'm sure there's more, but can't bring them to my frazzled mind at the moment.

I must, however, mention the sound the house alarm makes when we walk in and have just-so-long to get the key pad to deactivate it. There's also the sound it makes when we forget to deactivate the motion detector at night, and the cat decides to stretch in the living room while we're in our bedroom with the door closed. Next thing you know all hell has broken loose because I wake up thinking OMG SOMEONE HAS BROKEN IN and Frank thinks something like "damn cat" and I think "Someone could be getting ready to rob and shoot us and he's rolling outta bed like he's heading for the fridge to get a snack???" and the neighbors are thinking, "What the...? Again?"

There was a time when my life plan was to live at the Ashram, once my boys grew up and left home. A quiet place set deep in the forest of rambling foothills. But then I met Frank. The greatest distraction of my life. He visited the Ashram with me a few times, and we toyed with my former plan even after we were married, but for a variety of reasons chose to remain grounded in reality instead. Just as well. We have made trips to the Ashram and have watched it change over the years. Now it's pretty darned civilized, itself. Not like back in the good old days of kerosene lamps, wood burning stoves and outhouses.

Which brings to mind the first time I went there. Hiking through the woods I heard a "mmmmmm" sound in the distance. My heartbeat quickened. Someone was chanting! It grew louder upon my approach, and I discovered... it was a chain saw. Someone was cutting firewood.

But at least the saw wasn't beeping or dinging at me.

Though on my last trip I did spot a microwave on the counter in the backroom of the little carpeted, air conditioned gift shop (right next to the ladies room that has running water and a toilet that flushes). No more dirt roads, either. Some paved, some gravel. The vegetarian meals are still beyond delicious though, which makes it a nice place to visit but -- wouldn't wanna live there. Hmmm... Now that I've reminded myself of the place, we might want to head that way one day soon for a little get-away.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

What's New?

My purse! My purse is new!

I recently emptied the top shelf of one closet, where I had stashed more than a dozen purses of varying size and design. They were the "keepers," while others before them had already exited the premises to pursue their destiny via the neighborhood thrift store. The remainder I neatly dumped in a large pile in the middle of the room when three of my granddaughters visited last week, and they managed to choose all but three for their own personal use. Three more now for the thrift store next time I'm running around doing errands.

Which means next time Frank says, "Any other stops you want me to make?" when he is running errands for me. I'm soooo spoiled.

Purses are, for me almost as problematic as shoes. I love being barefooted, and so buying shoes is never fun, though I have to admit Kip and his crew at Foot Solutions on Pacific Avenue here in Stockton have managed to make it less painful than in the past. There are, after all, times when shoes are a must, so might as well find some that are both cute and comfortable... ish.

Purses, on the other hand, are easily dispensed with if you go most places with your husband. You just stick some stuff in his pockets and the rest of your stuff in the console of his car. This leaves your hands free, your lines smooth (though his are lumpy) and you don't have to worry about whether your purse is too big, too small, too fancy, too plain, the right or wrong color, or embarrassingly out of style.

What I'm getting at is that I have been on the hunt for the perfect purse for over a year. The one I've been carrying I bought on Kauai (where hitting every gift store on the island proved fruitless and I finally found this one in a tiny rustic grocery store, but it's almost sorta falling apart a little now.

So I decided to adopt the same attitude toward purse shopping that I had when I found Frank 35 years ago (I was determined that if I ever let a man back into my life, I'd keep him forever). But back to purses: Since I don't like shopping, I resorted to catalogs, and finally found exactly what I've dreamed of. Real leather, for starters. Yes, I love animals and am sorry for any/all unfair treatment of them, but in my mind putting their hides to practical use is a way of honoring their sacrifice, reminiscent of Native American tradition. (How's that for rationalization?). It's also just the right size, a gorgeous shade of deep brown that reminds me of my horse's eyes, and has lots of compartments with zippers and snaps, etc. It arrived today, and I am COMMITTED!

I can wear it with anything, and carry it with or without shoes on my feet. Best of all, never again will my lipstick or driver's license go through the washer and dryer in Frank's pants.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

What's in a Word? Oh My!

When I need to wake up my brain cells I work a crossword puzzle. When I want to pass time in a waiting room, for example, I work a cross word puzzle. When Frank is driving and there's no scenery worth gawking at, I work a cross word puzzle. Yes, I almost always carry two or three puzzles from the newspaper with me in my purse at all times. You never know when you might need one.

When I want to pass time in a nearly numb state of mind, however, I play Scrabble. I can play Scrabble on my home computer, on my laptop, and on my Blackberry. Although I am easily lulled into game after game after game after game, it's also true that if I don't work to maintain my emotional equilibrium, I can fly off the handle, sink into depression, or jump up to dance a heels-kicking jig -- depending on whether I am making the best plays or "it" is. It's not always about winning or losing, understand, but more than anything else about the ongoing challenge of the game itself as things change with each new word that appears on the board.

Over time I have elevated the skill level at which I play. I am now at a level where "it" (with an unlimited vocabulary) is playing some of the most preposterous words I've ever encountered. Check them out: zarf, turps, gox, kaf, nazify, azo, suq, zouk, qat, mixt, zaire. I mean really! To keep my blood pressure down I amuse myself when "it" plays words such as these, by imagining using the word in a sentence.

"Oh, give me a second. I think I left my gox on the table in the restaurant."

"Are you sure you want to date someone with the tendency to nazify?"

"The only thing I want for my birthday is a new kaf for my collection."

I also apply the wisdom of the Dalai Lama, who has said, "Learn the rules well so you know how to break them wisely." It isn't that I break the rules of Scrabble exactly, I have just made up my own. For example, if "it" has a score that tops mine by more than 100 points and there are fewer than 7 tiles on my board, I say to myself, "Zarf it! I qat!"

Now I recognize that the crazy words "it" plays are legitimate in some vocabulary somewhere, but it sure isn't mine and it isn't in my sphere of reality. Aside from creating words, which is fun for me, I also use the game as an opportunity to practice tolerance. But that doesn't always work and sometimes I just resort to opting out because, frankly, I believe that in any relationship tolerance must be reciprocal. And I don't notice "it" cutting me any slack!

Months back (and I still haven't found it in my heart to forgive) I got really excited when I was able to lay down all 7 letters (which wins you an extra 50 points) on a triple-score play. The word I spelled was "untinted." Now, isn't it easy enough to put that one into context without turning maniacal about it? "I'd like the back windows tinted, but please leave the front windows untinted." See?

But no! UNTINTED IS NOT AN ACCEPTABLE WORD according to "it." I didn't get to play on the triple, or play all my letters anywhere else for that matter. If you ask me, this is a crock of zouk!

But wait, there's more: Yesterday I played (for a triple score, but not using all my letters) the word joint. Since the j is quite valuable in and of itself and another letter was on a double letter square, this gave me a decent score -- 39, I believe it was. Nothing to write home about, but I wasn't hanging my head in shame either. Then... are you ready for this? "It" added un as a prefix and ing to take my clever word all the way down to the lower corner, for a triple word score of 54!

So, you with me here? "It" can play unjointing but I can't play untinted. Does that suq, or what?

To end on a positive note, though, allow me to brag. Last night I opened the game (which doubles your word score automatically) by placing the Q on a double letter square, then completing the word queerly, which used all my letters and gave me an extra 50 points. My score for that one breathtaking word? 106! An all time record for this scrabbler.

A bittersweet victory though, with untinted and unjointing still stuck in my craw. So when it comes to Scrabble I am left with mixt feelings, and I'm starting to think about taking up knitting instead. I mean I might drop a stitch now and then, but at least I woudn't be calling the knitting needle azo under my breath.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Here's to Brandi!

Okay, I have tried. I have given it my best effort. But I must now admit failure, because I can no longer resist talking about my horse. The whole horse and nothing but the horse.

I love my horse.

I'm not one of those people who is at the ranch every day grooming, bathing, lunging, riding, etc., my horse. I don't have her name tattooed to my chest or shoulder or lower back or rear end, or any other place on my body. I don't run around in blue jeans and leather belt with a silver buckle and a cowboy hat and polished boots, a costume that screams out desperately, "See? I have a horse!"

But nonetheless, I love my horse.

My favorite picture of her is my screen saver, or wall paper, or whatever. (I don't know the difference.) And when I look at it, she's there, looking right back at me. And I practically get shivers down my spine. She is soooo beautiful.

Oh, don't get me wrong. She'd win no beauty prize in any equine contest. Though I'm told she won some ribbons, trophies, or whatever, before I became her person. But in my mind, in my heart, there is simply no other horse in the entire world that can come close to her. She's "just'" a moody, bay quarter horse, with one white ankle on her right rear foot and a "star" on her forehead. (Did you know a mark there of any sort is called a "star" even if it's not in the shape of a star? )

The thing that I love most about her is the little neighing sound she makes when she sees me walking toward her pasture, and the way she walks or maybe even trots right to me when she sees me at the fence, or hears me call her name. No, sorry. What I love best is what happens when her eyes meet mine. There's just this exchange that I can't put into words.

It isn't acquiescence, that's for sure. I'm tempted to say, "She's her own person!" but of course she's not a person, so I guess that has to be, "She's her own horse." I'm her person. We have that understanding. She doesn't belong to me. I belong to her. Or maybe it's just that we belong together.

I ride occasionally. I never call it "working" her, I call it playing together; even though I understand that, in the interest of safety, I have to do my best to remain in control. Oh, I don't even like to put it that way. It's more like, we're working on our relationship, learning to trust each other. It's an ongoing process.

I often tell her I'm sorry she has a person with such a busy life that I can't be there every day, but on the other hand I pay a healthy sum to make sure she is boarded in a place she loves, where she is well looked after in my absence. And my consolation when I am too long from the ranch is this, that "Brandi is happy just being a horse."

I think of her often. I miss her. Thinking of her sometimes brings a smile to my face, sometimes a tear to my eye. I wish I had the time and energy to put in hours a day every day together, but that's not the hand I've been dealt at this stage of my life. So I do the best I can., and I can only hope she, on some level, understands.

And I believe she does.

We just have that kind of connection.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Who and What I Love and Why

I love my husband. I love the outdoors. I love Alaska. I love good music with meaningful lyrics. I love John Denver. I love horses. I love eagles. I love babies. I love chocolate. I love champagne.

Now, you can imagine how difficult it would be to combine all of my loves into one wonder-filled evening, but last night I did the best I could. I settled down with my honey and watched my John Denver Wildlife Concert DVD (filmed around 1995). John opened with his song, "Eagles and Horses," and the deal was sealed -- even without champagne, chocolate or babies on hand.

He stole my heart along with millions of other hearts, back in the day, and no one has ever or will ever take his place. That's because in my life it's not an empty place he left behind, it's a place still filled with his love for life and my love for him -- as a unique and genuinely talented artist.

I saw him perform at Lake Tahoe in the seventies, then again at the Cow Palace. His feet barely touched the floor of the stage, he was so high on life; and I'm sure everyone in the audience felt he was singing just for them. The third performance I went to was in Sacramento, after he and Annie had split up. The bounce was gone from his step and the sparkle gone from his eye, but he was still JOHN DENVER -- 100% human but larger than life, and through his music totally open about his heartaches as well as his passion for nature and all living things.

I find it interesting how, over time, it all comes together. Your life, I mean. I've been to Alaska twice (one of John's favorite places), and I'm excited about going again in just a few weeks. But sooner than that my husband and I are going to an event at Micke Grove zoo where Randy Sparks (who is a legend in his own right and who helped make John a star) will be performing, with all proceeds going to feed the animals and preserve the zoo for future generations. One of the singers accompanying Randy will be Jennifer Lind, whom I'm fortunate to know personally, and whose voice should have been listed here in my opening paragraph. I love Jennifer's voice.

In his Wilderness Concert as John narrated, he talked about the pollution of our rivers and said, choking up a little, that he dearly wanted to someday be able to take his grandchildren fishing. Obviously, and sadly, that isn't going to happen. But because of his love of mountains, forests, animals, birds, sea life, the ocean and rivers and streams, his music brought the magic of nature to millions who could not travel as extensively as he.

Interesting too that, in spite of his wealth and fame and determination, he was denied another of his most fervent dreams -- to travel to the moon. I look skyward at night every now and then and think of him, recalling his lyrics, "dance across the mountains of the moon." I imagine him dancing there at last, and of course singing his songs, many of which feel as though they were written just for me.

Thanks again, John.

Saturday, July 10, 2010


I was married two weeks after my 18th birthday, 19 when my first son was born, and 21 when my second came along. I was 35 when I had my third child, a daughter... the one out of three that was planned (though all were welcomed).

I thought I had anticipated all age-related problems on this third go-round, and by "all" I mean the only one that actually occured to me: the inevitable question, "Ahh, is this your granddaughter?"

Thankfully, that never happened.

What I had not anticipated was, twenty-some-odd years later, having my daughter and my first actual granddaughter pregnant at the same time, with my new granddaughter and my first great granddaughter being born only a month apart. Still with me?

Well, now I have enough grandkids and great grandkids that I can't keep names and birthdays straight, and family gatherings mean we settle for whoever we can get because we can never get everyone together under one roof at the same time anymore.

No problem. I wouldn't have enough matching dinner plates anyway and, being a Virgo, matching matters.

With my daughter being 32 now and her daughters almost 4, almost 6, and due in September, here is another problem I had not anticipated: Although I will probably be around long enough to tell my daughter, "Told you so" when her kids turn into teenagers, I may very well not be alive to see her become a grandmother!

I bring this up because she gives me a bad time when I tell her it's not my job to make the girls eat what's on their plate or go to bed at a sensible hour or put their toys away when they are at Gramma's house. And try as I may, I cannot convey to her why seeing the little ones once a week or maybe twice isn't enough for me! Three times a week might do it, but what has happened recently, which brings all this to mind, is that next week I am going to have to go the entire week without seeing them.

And what does she have to say about that? "Gee, a whole week? Think you'll survive?"

As if I were being unreasonable about this or something!

The girls just went home yesterday and I am already going into withdrawl. I'm trying to find an excuse to drive the thirty miles to their place. Ah! I found a white sock under the couch! But no, my daughter tells me when I call to ask permission to invade their privacy, the girls don't need that sock for the next week, they'll do just fine without it. Damn. Why didn't I accidentally forget to pack Annabella's glasses when I sent them home?

Well, if I were a lesser person I'd be hoping that when my daughter becomes a grandmother her grandchildren will all be living on the other side of the globe. But I love her too much to sink that low. When she becomes a grandmother I hope her daugher understands the urgency of time spent with the little ones -- who bring so much pleasure with their hugs and kisses and words of wisdom, and their exposing of family secrets like how their cousin got caught stealing money from their other grandmothers' purse!

Sadly, I probably won't be around when my daughter's turn comes to be a gramma. Or if I am, I will have forgotten why that seemed important to me, way back when. But if there is such a thing as reincarnation, I hope I come back as a fly on the wall. A FAST FLYING fly on the wall, and a silent, tiny, longliving one at that.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Alaska Again At Last!

At last I am allowing myself to talk about it. I mean blog about it. Alaska! Travel plans have been made for the past two months but I am so excited about going back, I knew if I talked about it all this time, I mean blogged about it, I'd be driving people nuts. So I told myself I wouldn't broach the subject here until six weeks prior to my departure date.

Well... kids, grandkids and great grandkids have been pleasant distractions and I've overshot by a week. I leave five weeks from today!

This will be my third trip to our northernmost state, and similar to the previous two in many ways: I'm taking the Alaska Highway System passenger fairy again from Bellingham, WA (3 days, 3 nights) to Juneau. Staying there a few days, then jumping back on board to head farther north to Skagway, as before. Staying a bit, then back to Juneau. Plan to put in some traditional token time at the Red Dog Saloon (the original). I've already made reservations for another raft trip on the Mendenhahl one day, and to spend another day riding the narrow gauge train (original box cars complete with pot belly stoves) -- a breathtaking adventure, although the train no longer goes all the way to Whitehorse, Yukon Territory (as before)..

The huge difference is that this time I won't be with Frank, my honey of a husband for 34+ years. He enjoyed Alaska the first two times, but has no desire to go back. My son Craig has been there on business and isn't interested in going again, but his wife Blanca has always wanted to go, and so we're making it a Girls Going Crazy adventure. We always have a good time together but, considering I'm not as young as she is and I'm not as young as I used to be either, I hope I can keep up with her and survive the good time we plan to have!

Alaska is the only place I've ever travelled to where I didn't want to come home. I'm not a traveler by nature and usually my favorite part of any trip is coming home. But in Alaska, the air is clean and crisp and clear, and the people are... different from the people here. They're... friendly. Not the "Welcome, tourist!" kind of friendly you often find in Hawaii, but genuinely amiable, always interested in helping, and obviously proud of their State. Regardless of the elements, they blend into their environment and invite you in as well. I love Alaska -- the people, the place, and the outdoorsy lifestyle. I would live there in a heartbeat if I could move all my family with me.

There's just one tiny problem I foresee around the bend, however; and I believe we can nip it in the bud. One of us is nuts about Sarah Palin and one of us can't stand to hear the mention of her name. Alaska is Sarah Palin country, but we have vowed not to speak of her on our trip.

Since drinking is the national pass-time in Alaska, and I'm not exactly known for my ability to handle booze well, I'm in the early stage of inventing something I think might help... duct tape with a hole in it to hold a straw. I'll let you know how it works when I return toward the end of August. (Give me a little time to recuperate first...)

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

On a Day Like Today

This day began for me as all days do.

I woke up.

I wondered, "What day is this?"

I reviewed the events of yesterday in my mind, ascertained what day of the week they occurred on, and mentally placed the name of this new day next in the succession learned in kindergarten.

I got out of bed, made a leisurely trip to the bathroom, weighed myself -- down half a pound from yesterday -- Yes! Fist pump in the air -- made coffee, and then said "Good morning, Honey" to my... honey... as he joined me on the deck (which we now call the lanai because I've decorated it to reflect our long ago... trip to Hawaii).

Frank opened the newspaper and I began the crossword puzzle. We sipped our coffee as though we had all day to enjoy it, which we actually did because I had planned it that way, scheduling today as an opportunity to recuperate from our little granddaughters' visit yesterday and our son's family BBQ the day before.

I say did have all day because that was when I asked, casually, "Did you remember to check the court's web site last night about jury duty?"

You've possibly guessed the rest, but let me fill in some details. As Frank headed for the computer I glanced at the clock. 7:45 gave Frank exactly 15 minutes to shower, shave, get dressed, comb his hair, brush his teeth, grab his cell phone, find his keys, remember where he put the jury duty paperwork, and make the 20-minute drive to the courthouse. Uh huh...

Now if we have figured out anything over the past 34+ years together, we've figured out how to function smoothly as a team, even in high pressure situations such as this one. So he got dressed and brushed his teeth, and I found his keys, handed him his cell phone and a protein bar, and as he closed the kitchen door behind him I mentally, fervently, sent a telepathic message reminding him to press the button that opens the garage door before backing out. That worked.

So I settled in for a day all to myself, and I made a list of things to do -- since I/we had planned to do nothing. Calm and in control, I then took my coffee to my desk and began to work on the revision of Brain Imagery papers that are a work-related project. At the first tap of my fingers my monitor screen went black. Afraid that the monster might be getting ready to swallow me whole, I cautiously left the room on tippy toe, renewing my vow to myself that someday I'll learn something about computers others than how to type on the keyboard and push the "print" button.

I decided to do some hand sewing, took my coffee with me, and settled onto the couch in front of the TV. After a mere five-minute search I found the remote control device which Frank usually hides from me as a preventative measure because I've threatened so many times to throw it mightily through the TV screen since it makes about as much sense to me as the control panel of a space shuttle. I bravely pushed a button, waited patiently as the screen began to come alive, and enjoyed a brief surge of exuberance as I recognized the face of one of my favorite pundits.

That was when I noticed his mouth wasn't moving, it was making no sounds, and his eyes were at half mast. Actually one eye was at 3/4 mast but out of respect for the gentlemen I wasn't going to mock him by pointing this out to you, until I realized I haven't mentioned his name so the secret remains safe.

Since watching TV was going to be secondary to my hand sewing anyway, I determined that this minor disruption did not constitute grounds for launching the remote control toward the frozen face in front of me. I gingerly placed the device on the table, deciding to ignore the picture of the pundit in his present state of peculiarity. In the interest of full disclosure I was afraid to push another button in an attempt to make the screen go black like the monitor on my desk. I could easily do my hand sewing in silence, a little like eating breakfast at the ashram (yoga retreat) where speaking is not allowed during the first meal of the day.

But wait! Breakfast! I sometimes forget to eat unless Frank reminds me it's time so, feeling a little smug over the realization that I can take care of myself, thank you very much, I hied me to the kitchen (as Shakespeare might have put it if he were having a bad day). Cinnamon toast? Bagel with cream cheese? Bacon and eggs? Cereal with fruit? Nothing sounded good. I grabbed a protein bar. If my honey and I couldn't have breakfast together, at least we could both eat the same thing.

Back to my hand sewing I went, but couldn't find the needle and thread I had joined together previously. Went back to the kitchen to see if I had taken it with me, couldn't find it but did notice grubby fingerprints on the toaster that would have been the delight of any forensics team. Grabbed the 409 and did away with the annoying evidence, noticing then a jar of peanut butter that had been left on the counter. Put it in the fridge, rearranging things to make room for it. This reminded me that we are almost out of eggs.

"I'd better make a shopping list," I said to myself, smiling, because we all know a smile actually changes the tone of your voice and I want to be receptive to myself. Picked up my "palm pilot" -- which is actually a cute little paper tablet with a hard cover on it that shows a silhouette of a horse (a gift from my daughter) - and found there my to do list.

Noticed an errand that needed running so jumped in my little Ranger and got 'er done, after which when I pulled back into my driveway and tried to use the handy little push button contraption Frank has attached to my key chain to lock the truck door electronically, but the door wouldn't lock. (At this point, why would I expect it to?) What did happen when I opened the truck door was that something inside began ding-ding-dinging at me, and I noticed my tail lights flashing. I pushed a different button that turned them off but I still can't lock the doors till Frank can sort this out for me later.

I'm thinking now about just soaking in a nice tub of warm water until he gets home, after first disconnecting everything in the bathroom that could possibly, under any circumstances, engage electricity in any form. On days like this, one can never be too safe.

As for the missing needle, since I'm always running around the house barefooted I'm sure I'll find in one day soon.

At least it has no batteries and isn't plugged in.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Thoughts About Family on the Fourth

It's the 4th of July. I have baked a (homegrown) zucchini torte and made my famous Weigh Better Potato Salad to take to a BBQ at my sons's house. Tomorrow. On the 5th. That's because my granddaughter and her family will be here tomorrow from North Carolina, so that's the day of our celebration. Not today. I'm sure our forefathers would understand and approve of this one-day delay.

A holiday such as Indepenedence Day is about celebration, tradition, history, yes. And it's about family -- first and foremost. The more the merrier, even though personalities don't always mesh, and some subjects must remain off limits because of differing views, heated opinions, moods and mood swings.

Despite some bumpy roads we've all been down together, I love seeing my kids, their spouses, their kids and their kids' kids all together -- even though there's always someone missing. It's impossible to get everyone together these days. There are other people to be visited, other places to go, and things like jobs and work schedules that make demands of their own. Sometimes we just do the best we can and settle for what we can get. And on the subject of family:

My husband and I have been watching a new series (on disc) called Burn Notice. The lead character is a CIA spy who has been "burned" -- meaning fired -- hung out to dry with no identity, no connections, no cash, no credit, no work history, etc. -- and he doesn't know why. Story lines are always full of intrigue as he uses his spy savvy to (a) try to find out who burned him and why and (b) extricate ordinary folks from not-so-everyday dangerous situations. What shines brightest in this series though is the array of characters.

The actor's portrayal of Michael Weston (think handsome, loveable smart-ass) reminds me of my grandson who now lives in Texas, a professional bull-and-bronc rider. The ex-spy's gorgeous gun crazy kick-ass ex-IRA guerrila fighter girlfriend/not girlfriend is the character I would most like to identify with, but alas. It's not to be. Because there's also the mother, definitely flawed and either directly or indirectly responsible for Michael's uhh... maybe warped... personality that so suits him for the dangerous line of work he has pursued. Father is absent, which is for the best, based on unpleasant memories that are discussed and sometimes defended, for better or worse. The younger brother shows up as the bad boy with a gambling habit and a grudge, and then there's a boozing older ex-SEAL buddy who's always ready to help make things better -- and worse. These are the regulars.

Thing is, the show is about family, and though it sometimes hits close to home in a sad way, it's also always good for a chuckle or ten. As I look forward to seeing my own gathering of characters tomorrow, especially my granddaughter and two great granddaughters, my hopes are high for a good time had by all. Including me. But a little voice is trying to help out by whispering, "Ah ah ah, not too high, remember. The higher those hopes rise, the harder they fall."

So I make a whimpy vow to try my damnedest to keep my mouth shut tomorrow -- just watch and listen and smile and... drink (not too much, just enough) -- because the role my offspring has assigned me is not the wise and kindly matriarch adored and revered by all. More like the mom in Burn Notice, I guess I have motherhood warts where freckles would be more appealing. I know my kids love me, so to speak, but I also know I'll most likely say or do something that will meet with criticism either to my face or behind my back. It's inevitable.

Which substantiates what I've always said about parenthood. You never get it right. I'm very proud of all my brood, they've filled my love tank with happy memories and made my life worth living. If it's possible to love your kids too much, however, I do. Too much? Not enough? You never get it right.

Friday, July 2, 2010

What's New? I'm Jazzed! That's What!

What’s new, you ask?

Well, let me tell you! I am jazzed! Three reasons:

One reason: for days I’ve been slaving away at the computer (not my best friend, for starters), injecting into our weight management program a whole new slant on therapy that is based on brain imagery. Sophisticated medical scans have shown that when specific parts of the brain are either under or over active, for a variety of reasons, an identifiable pattern of attitude and behavior results-- interfering with efforts to lose weight. Accordingly, a series of specific correlating questions and answers can indicate how best to direct a client toward success. It has taken me days of no-blood but yes-sweat and tears, plus a few grouchy outbursts, to complete my project. I’m jazzed because IT’S DONE and because it is going to make weight management so much easier for our clients.

Another reason: I first heard about it on the Dr. Oz show and now I finally have one in my hot little hands. A Himalayan Salt Inhaler! I’ve never used an inhaler of any sort before. The closest I’ve come is using a snorkel tube in Hawaii, which I did not enjoy (breathing through the tube, that is. I did/do enjoy Hawaii.) Using this device recreates the benefit of speleotherapy, or salt cave therapy, which has been used for centuries to ease respiratory discomforts. I don’t actually have any of those (except for occasional dust-related sinus headaches), but I do have a THING for Tibet, and this salt is as close as I’m gonna get, much as I’d rather meet the Dalai Lama himself but what are the odds? I’m going to experiment to determine for myself if the moisture of air passing over the microscopic salt particles produces a therapeutic effect. If so, this is something I may end up recommending to our clients who use hypnotherapy to stop smoking!

Third reason: I admit I have a sorta odd business philosophy. I love helping people, and making money at it is secondary; so (if left unguarded by Frank) I’m generous to a fault. I guess it goes back to the “Give and ye shall receive” lesson from Bible study when I was, like, ten? But where I’m going with this is that I have found someone of like mind. He is giving me the opportunity to use TurboSonic treatments on an ongoing basis, asking in return only that I spread the word if/when I notice results. This machine purportedly provides a full body workout in ten minutes, equaling an hour of exercise. “Decades of Russian research and development indicate that regular use improves circulation, strength, energy, endurance, balance, coordination, flexibility, agility, and reduces body fat and fluid retention while toning tissue and increasing bone density.” Okay, okay, I was skeptical too, but also open minded and – so far -- I gotta admit I feel good! Really good! After only three go's at it. (I’m on top of the placebo effect possibility, so this isn’t me mentally kidding myself. There’s definitely something beneficial going on here, it’s just too soon to know what exactly. But I promise to keep you posted.)

Perfect timing, too, all this. Just when I was about to run out of interesting things to write about!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

KISS - Keep it Simple (Sure...)

I like simple. I really, really like simple. I used to like complex, when I was young and had enough energy to enjoy the challenge of complex. But at this stage of my life I really, really like simple.

Years ago I became aware of a book called The Five Love Languages, by Gary Chapman. I read it and a light went on in my head. It was easy to read, interesting, I could put myself and others I know into the categories identified by the author, and I could put it to immediate use. Best of all, it worked!

The concept? Simple! There are basically five ways of interacting on a personal level. They are: words of affirmation, quality time, physical touch, gifts, and deeds of service. These are like five language's, and we all "speak" one "fluently," meaning it is the language that makes us feel most loved. Unfortunately, if the person we love doesn't understand us when we speak the language that makes us feel loved, then that person doesn't feel loved because we aren't speaking his or her language. With me so far?

My love language, for example, is words of affirmation. My husband's is deeds of service. I can tell him nice things up one side and down the other, but it isn't until I do something for him... pour him a cup of coffee, find his keys, put a shirt and tie together, cook his favorite dinner -- that he feels loved. If he does things for me, he's speaking his language, not mine. It's when he says nice things to me that I feel loved.

So the point is to identify the language of the person you love, and make sure you are speaking his or her language , not your own. Likewise, he or she needs to identify your love language and use it with you. It takes effort, and practice. Effort, because it's much easier to just use our own language with someone else, than it is to learn to speak his or her language. Practice because this keeps the concept alive, and keeps us from reverting to what we've "spoken" in the past (that may not have worked so well). If you aren't willing to become bi-lingual, it's a pretty clear sign that you don't care much about the other person in the relationship. Which is why so many relationships fail. They are too often "all about me."

Relationships, by nature, are complex. Anything we can do to simplify them is an improvement, even if it means backing off and backing away. If you've ever watched a soap opera you'll be keenly ware of relationships spiraling, ever spiralling... out of control. Drama, drama, drama, nothing but problems, with no solutions in sight. (If, for example, Kirsten simply learned to speak Lance's love language and vice versa, there would be no story! ) Viewers get sucked into the show because, I believe, we all harbor a hint of hope at some level of our psyche. Sooner or later it just has to work out, right? So we keep watching. And hoping. And it's the writers' job to keep us on the hook, almost but never quite satisfied.

I don't watch soap operas ( for the same reason I don't play golf. Life is frustrating enough without it.) Simply put, every relationship rests upon needs that are or are not being met. Mutually. If they're not being met -- mutually -- it's time to move on. Life is not a soap opera -- unless you want it to be, since you're the writer. You can make it complex, or keep it simple.

Or change the channel. Watch the news... that's always good for a laugh.