November 03, 2012

small things

Would you like a flower? the clerk asked.

I nodded and he handed me an aromatic orchid bloom. His gesture gave me a smile as I walked back to the car.

Sick shirt! commented the young man carrying my heavy cat food bag.

I love the attitude, I responded. This shirt always makes me smile when I put it on. 
What's the story behind the design on your t-shirt? the man in front of me asked as he surveyed my Moreland & Arbuckle shirt.

Oh, it's one of my favorite rock bands from Kansas City, I grinned in reply.

Wow, looks like a Derringer, he laughed.

The band is as hot as a pistol, I responded, both of us now laughing as we walked to our cars.

Completing my errands, I drove into my cul-de-sac neighborhood slowly, top down on my Boxster in the sunny 75 degree day enjoying the activity in the front yards. I compliment one neighbor on their new landscaping. They beam with pride. Chat with another about her turquoise classic Chevy, two girls passing in the sunshine driving by in cars we love. More smiles.

These are the small moments of our days. A sampling of mine in the past two. When we discover a smile in a brief conversation with a stranger or neighbor. Or over the phone or from a Facebook comment. These are the simple, "no charge" moments that spark the brightness of life. Like glue, we may hardly notice they're there. But they hold the upturn in our smile and the lightness in our step. We connect.

The power of a smile; it's not such a small thing.

October 28, 2012

do you really get it?

the survey results rang with truth yet made me giggle. the older we get, the more sure we are right. yet more often what we know we heard or remember is wrong. gulp.

we compound error by making assumptions and prematurely crafting decisions based on conclusions drawn from what we perceive, not what is real. then we nail the coffin with our pride ignoring evidence to the contrary, sticking with what we originally believe because, well, we couldn't be wrong. could we? gulp.

how does that happen? we don't listen well. we filter everything we hear through our frame of reference, not theirs. we listen, preparing to reply rather than listening to understand. then when we miss the meaning entirely, our ego digs in to shield us against the idea we could possibly be wrong. oh geez...

stephen covey nailed it with habit #5 of the 7 habits of highly effective people: seek first to understand, then to be understood.

for years, i've sought to embody that in my business. the second i find myself thinking that the client clearly doesn't get it, it really is a huge signal that i don't get it. i've missed something in their concerns, behavior, needs and wishes. when i refocus on drawing them out to understand what i'm missing, a bridge of understanding forms. only then am i able to reshape my ideas and solutions to truly meet, even exceed, their expectations.

last week, i felt pain from a significant interaction i thought i understood. i didn't. i applied my autobiographical frame of experience. i didn't listen. i drew the wrong conclusion.

as the incongruence surfaced, i could not rationalize and neatly align everything i heard against my conclusion. i re-opened the door to communication. even though i fumbled at it, we engaged in an open dialog, asked questions explained. sought to understand.

as we engaged in compassionate listening, puzzle pieces finally fit. genuine understanding, respect and renewed trust emerged. friendship deepened into a stronger bond. we got it.




October 26, 2012

sunshine

one of us is staying warm with half a foot of snow outside curled up inside with two black cats. one of us just ran 5 miles at lunchtime listening to the sounds of autumn leaves crunch below his shoes. one of us is sick in bed with a cold curled up with two cats. one of us is crafting new strategies to promote their business. for one of us, it will be sunny and 82 degrees. for another it will be 38 degrees. one of us just ate lunch with friends in borough market.

we are all in the moment. experiencing our life. our way. how we embrace life, choosing each moment in our journey. it doesn't matter whether we're inside or outside, achieving or grieving, hot or cold, how we embrace our circumstances makes all the difference.

being content, believing you are in sunshine,  is not a place. not an experience. not a dream.

it is your state of mind.


October 22, 2012

simply orange


all heart. 6-0 in elimination games. outscored the cards 20 to 1 in the last 3 games. lights out pitching. lights out defense. dominant start to shutout finish. even a monsoon couldn't stop us. giants win the pennant!


October 21, 2012

writing chapters

Disappointment rushed in so suddenly, it punctured the air as I tried to breathe. A trip I excitedly anticipated was canceled at the doorstep of my departure. This chapter, as it seemed poised to unfold, had a plot twist. And, there was nothing I could do about it.

Actually there was. I surrendered to the moment releasing my image of what ”was supposed to be” and experienced life unfold with new possibilities. 
 

Friday became a photographer's delight joining a friend touring the modern, conceptual installations of the finest landscape architects at CornerStone Sonoma 
and for a fried green tomato sandwich at the acclaimed Fremont Diner (serious southern food with locally produced ingredients) topped off with cheering my Giants to victory in the evening.


Saturday's breakfast allowed me to catch up with another friend to keep my perspective grounded. The day 
morphed into new artist discoveries at ARTrails including Erika Schmitt, whose aptly named studio Vessels of the Soul features found objects organically assembled into artistic joy. Three of us, paused to connect, forge artistic camaraderie and I came away enriched with 2 new friends and a beautiful necklace. An unexpected message from an east coast friend, visiting the wine country, became lively late afternoon conversation at Jackson's over drinks, continued into Jack & Tony's to appreciate a fine Macallan, admire his exquisite photographs and extended into dinner & laughter as other friends joined us. 


Life doesn't happen TO us. It IS us.

The pen is ours. It's part adventure, part mystery. It is our story, shaped by our choices, our voice, as we transform paragraphs of possibility into authentic joy.

For me, it is new friendships. Renewed ones. New discoveries. New business opportunities. An evolving plot twist. The sweetness of life savored warm on my tongue like a Macallan 18 single malt scotch.


October 18, 2012

longest night

sometimes, on the longest night, i can't find the words. music always does...

is it dark, where you are?
can you count the stars where you are?
do you feel like you are a thousand miles from home?

are you lost, where you are?
can you find your way when you're so far?
do you fear, where you are?
a thousand nights alone

so here we are set into motion
we'll steal a car and crash in the ocean
you and i, caught in a fading light
on the longest night

it's enough, just to find love
it's the only thing to be sure of
so hard, to let go of
a thousand times or more

i was close to a fault line
heaven knows, you showed up in time 
was it real?
now I feel, like I'm never coming down

so here we are set into motion
we'll steal a car and crash in the ocean
you and i, caught in a fading light
on the longest night

i recall when we were together
even now it seems like forever
so alive caught in a fading light
on the longest night

can we go too far to find, what is waiting here?
a little fall from grace
on the longest night

did we go too far to find, what is waiting here?
we'll take a little time, to open again
is it dark where you are?
can you count the stars where you are?



October 17, 2012

25

anyone who dares think the san francisco giants are just about pitching has been living in a gopher hole since 2010. even our two-time cy young award winning pitcher is a relief pitcher in the post season. all our era's are up. our pitching has rarely made it past the 5th inning. the rest of the team never says die. no, this is the ultimate team. win or lose, 25 guys who play all out for each other. on offense and defense. who catch the impossible fly ball to preserve a perfect game. picks each other up. speedy, sharp defense. aggressive on the bases. short ball extraordinaire. this team is scrappy. plays through injuries. owns the nl batting title after coming back from a horrific injury. plays like every day is their last. ignores history and then makes it. orange october.


October 13, 2012

epic

i love baseball in october.

defying odds. expectations. predictions.

the sf giants lose their first 2 games at home and then win 3 on the road. making history, baby. sweeping the reds at home, which hadn't been done in a 3 game homestand for the reds this season. killing latos, the former giant killer. giant hater. the first nl team in history to win this way. winning as a team because they looked in each other's eyes and brought it. winning for each other. leaving it all on the field. along with a quiet stadium filing out...

we meet the cards. the never say die cards. who came from down 6-0 in the nats home park. where the fans were already celebrating victory. stole it out from underneath their closer. won for each other leaving it all on the field. along with a quiet stadium filing out...

for the first time since 1958 (now that's a fine year if i may say so myself), the 2 previous world series winners meet for the nlcs. damn. bring it on.


October 09, 2012

dusk

Dusk is my favorite time of day.

I love the ending of things. Without an ending, there would be no triumph. After it concludes, only then, is a game won or a project is finished. Even sadly, only then does a season end.

After autumn leaves fall, resilient limbs reveal core strength and structure of the tree. After a fiery sunset, a milky way of stars and planets reveal the unfathomable universe our small planet inhabits.

I love what happens next. That transition from sunset to night.

Dusk.

Dusk desaturates the landscape to reveal her sinewy shapes. In smoky grays and blues, our eyes are challenged to relax, to focus on a few pared images.

We can’t see the little gnats, dust or pollution. All the small irritants and annoyances disappear from view. We focus on what matters. Things that last. Mother earth rising and falling along the shapes of hills and valleys. Trees anchored deep within her soil. The unmistakable foundation of where we live, laugh and love.

Maybe that that's what I love most about the clarity of dusk. The simplicity of perspective.

October 04, 2012

laughter

i was born with a huge space for laughter in my soul. in fact, through time, what i've found is that people remember me for my laugh.

one day, here in santa rosa, as i was walking away from parking my car, the maintenance man for the complex approached me and asked, did you ever work at dell in austin. surprised, this being nearly 6 years after i had left dell, i said, yes, why? he responded, i would recognize your laughter anywhere. he then explained he had been a maintenance man at dell in austin and remembered my laugh as he walked through the hallway by my office.

laughter is nothing short of magic. anger vanishes with a touch of laughter. frustration transforms into relaxation. laughter connects us with each other. with the instincts of a sneeze, walls are torn down and  intensity evaporates when we are receptive to the humor in life. my dad often started his classes reading a few jokes to his students. laughter enables us to be real, to learn, to be honest with ourselves. he knew that.

my family can giggle mercilessly over cards or scrabble on a saturday night. no pun is out of bounds. no humor too silly. i've bowled unsuspecting cans down the aisle of a grocery store toward my partner late at night while grocery clerks watched with bemused smiles. i've pushed a friend hunched in a shopping cart thru the aisles of target making parents cringe and children howl in delight.

maybe that's it. a kid always gets the joke.

October 03, 2012

autumn

autumn is my favorite season. even my first published book of poetry was titled "reflections of autumn". i relate so much to autumn that at the age of 20, i wrote in a self-portrait:

my heart is autumn
changing season--ever changing colors
unpredictable
my passion comes cold as breeze in frost
as bright as the harvest moon
misty, moody mornings
the desire of unquenchable driving rain
caught between the bronzed, ravished beauty of summer
and the cold, white purity of winter
years beyond the fragile, newborn innocence of spring
i know the sadness of the maple
stripped of her burnished glory
there is beauty in my dying--this my living
i was born to die to be born again
as the tree lives on in the seeds the wind planted
i will live autumn for eternity

i am fascinated with how very human autumn is. how a sea of green leaves transform into fiery hues of yellow, red, coral, brown and maroon. how remarkably brash they sparkle in a brilliant blaze to capture our attention before lying windswept on the ground. then with the touch of an elegant whisper, the pure shape of the tree emerges longing to be noted for the beauty within.

September 20, 2012

breath

your voice
shaped into
small frames of
potent words
weaving vignettes
saturating my senses
penetrating my fibers
pressing inward
flooding magma
spaces deep
stirring rhythms
with the stream
of consciousness
you

words prance
startle and thunder
then breath
not so much exhales
as gasps departs
leaping from
my lungs
filling with
the ocean tide
of you

body electrified
inflamed
hurled captive
into a fourth
dimension
filled utterly
with the
universe of you
possessing
my soul

September 10, 2012

can

it’s far too easy to quickly respond to a challenge by saying, i can’t do that. most of the time, it’s not because we truly can’t. most of the time we can.

i’ve found two key reasons why i’m tempted to say can’t.

the 1st is i either don’t want to or i don’t want to make the adjustments required to be able to do what i think i can’t. once when i was totally stressed out, a friend suggested i take a day off. my immediate response was, i can’t do that! in reality, i can. i might not get paid for that day off and i might think i’m indispensible, but in truth, i can take a day off. i just have to accept the benefits along with the ramifications.

the 2nd is that i haven’t done it before. i ran headlong into this after my marriage failed and the responsibilities for maintaining everything about my home fell to me.

at first, i was overwhelmed. there were all these tasks that i had abdicated in that division of labor. he mowed the lawn. he cleaned the gutters. y’know, guy stuff. REALLY?

my first act of rebellion was to change my perspective. realized that this isn't guy turf. this was my turf. my home. i wheeled out the lawnmower and figured out how to get it started. leaf blower, check. pulled out a ladder (ignored the heights) and voila, i can clean gutters. dishwasher doesn’t work, call a repair man. i can!

the best way to make i can happen, is to take that first small act of rebellion. figure out why you think you can’t. giggle. now you can.

September 06, 2012

cat


i am cat
therefore you love me
i lick your face
you are now awake
therefore you feed me
i stand at the door
and look longingly at you
therefore you let me out to play
i snuggle beside you
as you sleep
therefore you are warm
i curl up on your lap
when you cry
therefore you need me
i live life
with reckless curious abandon
therefore you envy me
i am at home
always here for you
therefore you will never be alone
i am cat
therefore you will always love me

September 03, 2012

flight

it flows again
this poetry
unleashed in me
like an eaglet
yearning 
for release
my mind 
wings the wind...
and there is 
nothing 
to stop this
flight
but the sky...

August 11, 2012

not my idea

There's a lot about me that could be considered cat-like. A spirited Leo, I'm independent, expressive, confident, cuddly, determined, driven and, in general, born to rule. Last week, for several hours, I fell prey another cat trait. It's that moment after you plop a cat onto your lap only to have them promptly jump off (to return 74 seconds later) because it was not my idea.

We've all experienced this. Sometimes from an ego-driven boss or associate who won't accept our recommendation because it wasn't their idea. Sometimes, we reject other's ideas because we're embarressed we didn't think of it first. To accept it, feels like admitting we needed help with the idea in the first place! Ego just gets in the way.

This week, I was painfully beating my head against a professional battle that I doggedly determined to resolve in a singular way. All of a sudden, an idea came out of left field from the very individual with whom I was doing battle.

My initial (non-verbal) reaction was along the lines of WTF. An hour later, I realized there might be merit to this idea. Two hours later, when I discussed it with a friend, his first remark was "you win." And there it was. If I accepted this idea, both my opponent and I would win.

The next morning, as I discussed a few concerns I had with this idea with a business associate, he pointed out that my opponent had actually come up with an idea that benefitted me more than it will serve them. Yowser, with ego out of the way, within 16 hours, I transitioned from pain to peace.  It doesn't matter where the idea came from, this idea is ahhsum!

Is ego in the way of the next best idea you haven't yet embraced?

August 02, 2012

19 redwoods & a dishwasher

Sometimes depression descends on me like a tule fog. In northern California, a tule fog floods in like a blanket of white, like a white out snowstorm or sandstorm, making it impossible to see.

It's settled on me again. It's been a lifelong, recurring battle as days of sunshine diminish to an emotional fog that crushes my spirit. A normal extrovert buoyed by social interaction, I withdraw from everyone and everything. This week, in the midst of a lunchtime cake celebration for a co-worker's birthday at the office, standing in the group during all the hoopla was so painful. All I wanted to do was return to my office and close the door.

When the emotional fog is so thick I can't look forward to anything with anticipation, I focus on exercise, food and diet to move me back into the sunshine. One other thing that helps is trying to bring myself into an attitude of gratefulness, being in the present and embracing all the elements of my world that give me joy.

And so, this week, I thought I'd find some happiness in a present I bought myself-- a new DSLR camera with the latest bells, lights & whistles. But the tule fog kept me from even wanting to unpack it. Now the camera has  set on my coffee table for days without my normal curiosity to learn the new features & enjoying taking it for a spin.

What opened a little spot of sunshine came from the most surprising of places. My dishwasher broke 6 months ago and I finally got it fixed. After the repairman left, a unexpected rush of joy flooded thru me as I loaded my trusty Miele up to the gills and heard the quiet whooshing sound of a long lost friend doing my dishes. I was positively giddy over having my dishwasher back. Then this morning, as I drove into the parking lot at work, I realized that I was parking beside 16 redwoods. Like my 3 redwoods at home, dozens of birds sing, nest and rest in these gentle giants. There are only 2 places in the world where redwoods grow. One of the largest stands of redwoods is just 20 minutes from my house. It made me smile. Little spots of happy don't always come from places we most expect. Sometimes they're perched in 19 redwoods and a dishwasher...


July 29, 2012

this american life

With the hopes of his home nation on their favorite son's shoulders, the world reigning champion cyclist Mark Cavendish came in 28th, 40 seconds behind the winner of the Olympic men's road race. Wah?

These are the stories I love. Meet one of my favorite cyclists, the underdog, 38yr old Alexander Vinokourov of Kazakhstan, in the final race of his career, who went out in a breakaway with the 25yrd old Colombian rider, Rigoberto Uran. With 500 meters left, after 155 miles, they still retained an unexpected 40 second lead over the peloton. Vino caught Uran looking behind to see how close the peloton was. In that second, the wiley wise Vino took off. Before Uran could turn around and recover, it was over.

Meet the gray-haired Jordan Jovtchev, 39yr old receiving a standing ovation competing in his 6th Olympics in men's gymnastics, a playground for teen and 20-somethings. Wah? He's a former champion, head of the Bulgarian delegation, who's invested over $6 million of his own money to revitalize and help Bulgaria rebuild it's program, competing on the rings. There's no one else to compete yet, so with about 30min of practice 3x a week, he represents his country, showing his pupils what courage and pride look like.

Meet 33yr old Kimberly Rhodes, the first American to win an individual medal in 5 straight Olympics tying a world record and setting the Olympic mark with 99 points winning the Gold Medal in Skeet shooting. 99 points means she missed once in 100 shots. Once.
Meet 16yr old Ariel Hsing, ranked 113 in the world, who triumphed in two table tennis rounds over competitors ranked 40-50 places above her, who ran in the #2 seed in the world today, who didn't blink as she lost 4-2, while the man she calls Uncle Bill (Bill Gates) stood and applauded.

This is one of the reasons I'm a fan of the program, This American Life. Instead of the rapes, war, politics, murders and atrocities that dot our daily news, the real stories, the best stories, are of human beings with grit and determination, going about the beauty and goals of their lives. In the Olympics, these stories of life come into the foreground. I wish they always did.

 


July 26, 2012

a road more flown by

Every year, in late spring, one lane of 9th Street in Santa Rosa is blocked and the sign says "Road Construction." But there aren't any potholes to fix.

Still the dutiful orange cones block off the fast lanes of the tree lined boulevard, both directions for about a quarter mile. It's a gorgeous area, tall eucalyptus and fir trees line the center divide and both sides of the street in gorgeous green summer foliage... no, wait. Did someone just TP those trees?

As you drive through, looking up you will see hundreds of splashes of white. Some big splashes, some tiny round ones. It is the annual nesting and birthing place of a brand new generation of snow white egrits in the eucalyptus trees down the center of the boulevard with sleek swoops of mothers flying against the backdrop of a blue sky to and from their plump little feather balls nestled in the trees.

Perhaps the city is just protecting drivers from the unexpected splats that descend from the sky for a few months in late spring.

I'd like to think it's because they care enough to protect this annual snow white ritual.


July 21, 2012

cartoon flight

I knew I liked him when he plunked his face on the airline seat tray table and popped up and said "Amen!"

A few minutes earlier, I had boarded a 3hour delayed flight to make my return trip on what would be a 20-hour day that had started at 3am. I was exhausted and a little brain "loopy". So when the 8th grader sat next to me and we remarked how sleepy we were, he said his trick when accidentally falling asleep in class was to pop up and exclaim "Amen" to make every body laugh. It was 8pm, I'd been in business mode all day but the kid in me woke up and felt like playing.

So when he started flipping through the Skymall catalog in a "who buys this stuff" mode, I saw the catalog with a whole new set of kidlike eyes; this was the best cartoon book EVER put on an airplane!

For the next 2 hours of flight, we slowly flipped through each item featured and made hilarious jokes about the photo, the headline, the ooey gooey wording used to describe some pretty ridiculous options. Inflatable movie screens, magic showerheads that glow with LED color, tidy "storage" tents that looked like a one-person tent someone forgot to put away after camping. A pair of painter shorts called "beer" shorts because you could tuck a beer in the pockets. We couldn't stop laughing.

But it was the "health and wellness" section that sent us into stitches. Gooey stuff you could spray on your head called "hair building fibers", a head and eye massager, a SomaWave helmet, a portable gel seat, a therapeutic "oxygen" gel, a "Public Toilet Survival Kit" and "wake up on time" vitamin pills were among the best highlights of the how many friends would stop friending you on Facebook if they saw you use this!

The wheels touched down safely at our destination and we hadn't even noticed 2 hours go by. He was a kid of divorced parents getting shuffled off to the other one. I wouldn't get home til midnight. We were on a delayed flight with lots of upset passengers. None of that mattered. Kids can have fun anywhere.

July 11, 2012

leisure logistics

On my drive to the local pet food supply store, I pass a corporate sign for a company called Leisure Logistics. It makes me giggle and grimace every time. Doesn't that sound like a messed up adult thing? I can see a mission statement like Dedicated to ensuring the logistical integrity of leisure time for our worldwide customers... or something like that. I'm sure this company offers some kind of valued product or service but the kid in me just rebels. Icky.

If you're my friend, please thwock me across the head if you EVER hear me talk about logistics when it's leisure time. I've already learned my lesson... I've never lived down the teasing the one time I was still in business mode with friends waiting to get seated at a restaurant when I asked the maitre d' what the lead time to dinner was ...

June 27, 2012

home grown

42 Blueberries. 7 Sungold cherry tomatoes. That's what I picked from my little garden yesterday. Yep, I can buy huge containers of blueberries at the grocery. They're in season and plentiful. This evening, I ate the blueberries and tomatoes slowly one at a time. Like dessert. Maybe that's it. Something readily acquired with cash can skew our values. Easy access can dull our sense of gratitude and appreciation. All I know, is that after planting, watering, tending, watching them grow and then picking these, they taste sweeter than anything I've bought at the store.

June 23, 2012

image is nothing. impact is everything.

Someone asked me how I want to be remembered. How I am remembered is irrelevant to me. I do NOT care how anyone remembers me. Let me explain!

All that I care about is the impact that I make IN each moment. Image never changed anyone, impact does.
Let’s say I live until I’m 80 and spend 8 hours a day around other beings—human and animal. That’s 14 million minutes at my disposal to make a positive, uplifting impact!
That means I choose not to squander a moment. Parked at a stoplight with a homeless man grinning at me from the curb as he sees my Life is Good sticker on my window. He says with a smile “Live IS good”. With a huge smile and a big thumbs up, I shout back “Life IS good isn’t it?! Hope yours a great day!” It’s walking out of the coffee house spotting a patron sitting alone at a table looking grim and making a cheery comment. It’s calling a friend on my commute and telling them how much them mean to me. It’s thanking a customer service rep for great service. It’s not merely buying earrings from an artist, it’s telling her why I love her work and think she’s incredibly gifted. I don’t care if anyone remembers WHO made a positive impact on them; I care about the impact.
I remember walking back into a jewelry shop a second day in New Orleans with Gregory. We had chatted with the young female clerk the day before as we always had great fun engaging those around us. As we walked in to the shop, her eyes lit up and with a huge smile she said, I was just writing a note to my boyfriend telling him I had met a couple and that I wanted us to be more like them!
Does it take more energy, more awareness to BE in each moment, not just for my own gain but for the gain of others? Hell, yes. It means dropping my guard and being a kid sometimes. Gregory taught me to walk into Amy’s Ice Cream and bounce on the floor cheerily greeting the ice cream scoopers with some kind of loud cheer like – “It’s a great day to eat ice cream!” 3 scoopers would beam back cheery responses and the whole demeanor of the ice cream shop would lift. It means giving attention and love to my cats even when I’m tired and don’t feel like it. It means pushing an adult friend IN the shopping cart thru Target as we pick up a few items making everyone smile. It means talking with total strangers. It means getting a charge from lighting up the face of someone I don't know and will never see again.
We are granted 14 million gifts. 14 million opportunities of impact another life. I don’t want to squander a single one of them.

May 18, 2012

change

And then it hits. Like a hurricane in the Bering Sea. It's energizing. The adrenalin surges. The waves crash in frothy white.  It's fast and still foreign, unrecognizable. It's change.

You're the same vessel but these are different waters. You try to navigate but you're not quite sure if something is amiss with the engine or the rudder but the steering feels different. You can't quite get your bearings. It's change.

You take a deep breath, relax your shoulders. Turn patience inward. It doesn't matter if you're 23 or 53, adjusting to new patterns, routines, information, challenges...all of it, takes a little time to absorb. It's change.

You may not feel at ease steering in these new waters, yet.  But the sun will still rise. And there's one thing you can trust; the boat will stay afloat.

May 15, 2012

symphony

The word symphony is derived from Greek συμφωνία, meaning agreement or concord of sound or concert of vocal or instrumental music, from σύμφωνος, meaning harmonious.

Or as I see it... what the delightful, quick-witted Jacques Bailly (who won the Scripps National Spelling Bee as a 14-year-old and is now the contest's Official Pronouncer) would say after explaining the word's etymological origins, when asked to use the word symphony in a sentence:

Symphony. Being present in each moment, fully experiencing as well as learning from life, is a participatory symphony in which we are equal parts conductor, musician, critic and audience.

May 14, 2012

by appointment only

As I was walking back to my car with my new printer cartridges, a sign in a nearby store window caught my eye.

Lessons by Appointment Only

At first glace, the sign seemed reasonable. Ask the expert at the golf shop to schedule lessons for you; they'll check their schedule and arrange time to teach you lessons.

I began laughing as I drove away. What if life was like that? No lessons given unless we ask first. Lessons will only be given when previously scheduled!

In life, we don't know what we don't know until it is pointed out! Lessons are unscheduled benefits of an open, receptive attitude toward growth.

If we had to ask for lessons, lessons would be lost on those who already think they know everything. Lessons would be lost on anyone who wants to avoid growth pains. They'd be lost on the arrogant who arrived at supreme knowledge au solitaire.

I was left to muse how thankful I am that the greatest lessons of life occur to the unwitting.

May 13, 2012

mom. love. cookies.

Mint Jubilee Cookies

there’s a universe
inside a cookie
this soft and sumptuous
pillow melting in my mouth
warming my heart to her
 this perfect little lump
of chocolate and mint
cradled in a plump circle
of perfect circumference
and identical proportion

aromas of home
saturate my senses
visions of mom
slipping cookies off spatulas
waiting for milk
and sticky fingers
finding their way
to each prize
savoring each taste
finding tears and joy
inseparably twined

here I live
never wanting to
bake these myself
always wishing that she
will tuck them away for
my journey home
the sweetness of mom
wrapped in a cookie
an eternity of love
and endearment
swirled in a moment
jubileed in my heart
forever

May 12, 2012

happy birthday mom

I've been privileged to live nearby my parents since they've retired in 2001. Living near them means I get to enjoy the delectable delights of the culinary goddess that is my mom. We've partnered together and created an heirloom cookbook called Incredible Edibles a few years back that we're in the process of updating with some of her more recent recipes.

While she is known far and wide for heirloom treats like kuchen and blueberry varaniki, she even makes the simplest things like macaroni salad taste better than anyone elses.

It's her birthday today. Happy birthday mom, from the bottom of my happy little heart. I wrote this poem for you in 2003 and I'd like to share it here again.

May 11, 2012

curiosity

I was born curious. Curiosity is a significant driving force propelling my discoveries like my collection of 3,200+ different musical artists in my MP3 collection including small labels (or no label) talent from Sweden, Germany, Ireland, Australia and Sonoma County.

Curiosity flings opens the door to explore and learn. Like traveling to Costa Rica and photographing tree frogs in the middle of the night, taking a new job, learning a new Photoshop technique or trying out a new food. Even driving from California to Texas with a ski boat behind me to work for Dell when I only knew 1 person there. It makes the unimaginable possible.

Curiosity is key to life. It propels us forward, around the bend, to whatever's next. Curiosity inflames courage and ignores fear. Curiosity is unafraid of being wrong because it wants to know the truth. Curiosity doesn't dawdle in the past, it wants to know what the next hour brings.

Curiosity allows us to delight in mystery. I am drawn to men who are not obvious. I love when there's something mysterious, thoughtful, or intriguing that requires peeling back. Curiosity is the vision of the explorer, the anticipation of the lover, the baited breath of the athlete.

Curiosity allows us to revel in surprise and anticipation. Not knowing what is wrapped in that present under the tree. I love the surprise of comments on my blog or readers who respond when reading my poetry. I'm compelled to write and photograph and express even if no one else sees or reads what I create, yet, I still wonder what you think. And when you comment in anonymous fashion, it enhances the tension and fuels the imagination. I want to know who you are. And yet I love the curious intrigue when I don't.

Curiosity is what keeps us alive. It thrives discovering what each new breath unfolds. Cherish and nurture your curiosity. For when you know all you wish to know, you then but know how to die.

May 10, 2012

being human

I lost my wallet last Monday. Uhh, I can't blame it on being stolen. It was misplaced by moi after buying a small housewarming gift for my new neighbor and running to join the BBQ. Later, I forgot I had tossed my wallet hurriedly in the bag as I scooped up the shopping bags and tossed them into the recycle bin before wheeling them out to the curb for garbage pickup day.

After an hour searching through the house looking for it, I mentally retraced my steps from the day before and realized that once again, I had been presented with irrefutable evidence of my human foibles. Determined not to let the next 4 hours of my life be depressing, I found ways to have fun as I contacted banks and insurance companies and joked about how I had lost the wallet.

But the fun really developed when I went to the DMV to request a replacement driver's license. It occurred to me as I was directed with my form to an area with ledges to fill out the forms, that those around me were filling out this SAME form. It was a quiet, crestfallen looking crowd. After I filled out my form, I joked, a little loudly on purpose with the guy next to me how my garbage can had stolen my wallet. He told me how he lost his. Then someone else chimed in... and another and another. This group was now all grinning and laughing. By the time my number was called, I was standing at a window next to 2 other windows that were ALL processing driver's license replacement requests. I asked my service rep how many she processed a day and she said usually 50-80. Now the reps got to join in on the laughter that was expanding in our section.

Earlier that morning, when I first realized my wallet was accidentally taken hostage by the recycle bin, I thought it would be a bad day. In fact, it was just the source of sharing laughter and life with a group of strangers who were rotely (or sheeplishly) going about their day in mundane fashion. I uploaded a photo to Facebook with the description "now serving 492 people in front of me".

Ever notice how the funniest stories we tell are ones where something went wrong or we goofed up? They may not have seemed funny at the time, but later, we tell the jokes on us. It's what BONDS us as humans. When we tell stories of our success, people can cheer us on but they may not relate--they might even be a little envious. But when we laugh about being human, it connects us.

Never forget, you have power to make a difference. What difference will you make in someone's life today?
waiting at the DMV

May 09, 2012

yellow

I've written prose since 1st grade. I've loved taking photos since 10th grade. A few years ago, I began integrating these personal passions illustrating my prose with my photographs as artwork that I display in a personal art gallery of sorts (home). Since it's Spring, I just put this one up. It's dedicated to friends and family who brighten and buoy my life every day.

May 08, 2012

mental embroidery

I was reading comments on a friend's Facebook photo (circa the 1970's) of what they remembered about when the photo was taken. It was a room of teenagers living life out loud. 40 or so comments later, they were still giggling about who was there and whose hands were steady enough to take a photo that wasn't blurry. Forty years later, they cherished the comradery and memories.

Then one participant said it. Mental embroidery. It was the term she used to describe remembering something differently from the others and this gentle forgiveness we give ourselves when we can't remember something. I loved it. What a perfect phrase.

That's what our lives are. A sweet and sour collection of things we remember. As one of my friends said to me last night, some events stand out in our minds like they were neon yellow highlighted. Like the slow motion of my near-death accident. Weird things. Like the price of gas at our local gas station when I was a child. My starting salary with IBM when I graduated from college. The first poem I ever wrote. My phone number when I was 7.

Then there are things people remember about us. As I've reconnected with former classmates, I've found what they remember most about me is my laugh.

Then there's stuff I don't remember that my friends tease me about like apparently I had a parakeet in the 1980's. I had to dig thru old photos and sure enough, my ex-husband had a parakeet. I ended up leaving both of them. 

Our memories are the fabric of our lives. It's this beautiful embroidered tapestry that is ours to hug, hold and keep. The colors and textures embroidered into our life and soul are what made us laugh, cry, learn lessons, get frustrated or feel exhilarated. Woven into each thread are the moments, places, events and people we love and used to love.

That mental embroidery... cherish it. It is the tender, fragile, strikingly beautiful and unique fabric of your life.

May 02, 2012

enough about me

I've been talking with lots of new individuals while searching for my next career adventure. As phone calls come in, I don't always recognize the phone number. So when the phone rang in the middle of the afternoon, I didn't know who was calling.

Fresh Air Studio, this is Judy, I answered.
Hello, Judy, a deep voice said.
Good afternoon, I responded.
This is Patrick, he announced.

Patrick? My mind raced. I didn't remember a Patrick. Surmising I was overlooking someone I bubbled back, Well hi! How did you find me? Was it Linkedin, Twitter or maybe The Ladders?

This is Patrick, he replied slowly emphasizing each word, We used to date.
Oh THAT Patrick, I giggled nervously in reply.
He responded, May I ask you a question? Why did you break up with me?

Now I'm surpressing the urge to laugh. We dated OVER a year and a half ago. Telling him that I didn't want to go out any more after 4 dates hardly qualified as "breaking up". I try to gracefully bow out of the conversation. He tells me that's okay, he'd rather have this conversation over a drink in person. 

In the pantheon of "potent lines" to employ when you're trying to hook back up with someone you want to date again, Why did you break up with me? is NOT in the top 100. Asking me to have a drink with him to explain why I broke up with him is NOT a compelling value proposition!

What Patrick conveyed was he was ALL about himself. Whether we are marketers persuading prospects to buy our solutions, candidates persuading an organization to hire us, or a man persuading a woman to go out, it's not about YOU, it's about THEM. It's not what we've DONE, it's what we can DO for them that will capture their imagination and aspirations.