Tuesday, March 31, 2015

The More You Know You Don't Know Much, the More You Can Learn

Do you floss your teeth? If not, do you feel guilty for not doing it? Hold that thought.

Hoofed it down the road this morning to my teeth cleaning appointment, knowing that I hadn't flossed much lately more than a couple times since my last cleaning. My excuse is my lingual bar retainer. That sounds important and official, eh? It just means that I have a permanent retainer on the inside of my front lower teeth. Makes it hella fun to floss.

"Ana" (soft, short o sound) was my hygienist this morning. We've never talked beyond pleasantries. But seeing as how I have become much more aware of being intentional since my last appointment (May 2014), I started asking some questions today.

When I am distracted, I don't always ask questions at the doctor or dentist, or apparently even listen. Later, I think "What the heck did he/she say about this?" Honestly, I believe walking there this morning put me into a more mindful place. I hadn't waited until the last second, jumped in my car and raced the .7 miles to the office just in time.

It still surprises me that I can learn something so basic about the simple process of flossing. I guess the difference came in listening to that little voice inside (I did it! Yay me!) suggesting I ask some questions.

Not only did I learn something interesting about flossing, I also learned about Ana, who is from Macedonia, and was extremely interested in my attempts to make healthy choices for myself and my family. We had an actual, honest, genuine conversation, not just a superficial exchange. I mean, we didn't cry on each other's bosoms or anything, but I felt like I really connected with the person, Ana.

Now, if you feel guilty when you don't floss, do something about it. Find a way to make it a habit. Figure out your why for doing it. Look at the things that are getting in the way, and address them.

Or ... maybe I'm the only one who doesn't floss regularly? In that case, in the words of the immortal Emily Litella . . .

Monday, March 30, 2015

5,520 Really Cold and Silly Steps on a Sunday

I visited the UU church on March 15, enjoyed it and planned to go back. I heard them say, I heard the actual words, WE MEET ON THE 1st AND 3rd SUNDAYS. Poor little maroon Siouxsie. My 1st visit was on the 3rd Sunday, but in my brain, my 1st visit meant it was the 1st Sunday.

Yesterday was the 3rd Sunday of March. Oh, it wasn't? It wasn't the 3rd Sunday of March just because I had decided March 15th was the 1st Sunday of March? The quantum physics of the world did not adjust to my brief, yet completely mistaken, perception?

It was the middle of the SisterGiant conference yesterday morning. Since they were running on PST, the day's festivities wouldn't resume until 12:30 EST, which would work since I was going to go to the UU church for the meeting that they have on the 3rd Sunday of the month.

I didn't really want to go to the UU church yesterday. But it's very easy for me to give in to the inertia of staying home, rather than gathering the momentum to go out, so I went. After all, it was the 3rd Sunday of the month, and I wouldn't get another chance for another two weeks.

So, there I was, standing outside the door of the UU church, freezing cold, looking forward to getting inside for the meeting, the one that happens on the 3rd Sunday of the month, and the door was locked? Instantly, I knew that I'd already attended the service on the 3rd Sunday of the month.

And as I had been dropped off as before, I was faced with walking home. It was cold out! 29 degrees. Of course I am rough and tough and hard to guard enough to do it, but I wasn't looking forward to it. Once again, one of my personal corral of Uber/Lyft drivers came to my rescue, but not until I had already walked 5,520 steps.

What did I learn? Listen to that little voice. Find a way to listen to the little voice that says, hey, you better check this out before you do this. Ok, ok, ok. I promise, I will.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Reflections on SisterGiant 2015 - Day 1

I was so excited about this conference. I had an idea that Marianne Williamson had a new idea about how we can change the conditions of the political scene in our country. Her opening remarks described us as corporately co-creating a new field of possibilities.

Really quick summary of day 1:

Dennis Kucinich -- The man walks the talk. Our system is pretty broken. He said one of my favorite things of the day: (speaking of politicians) "People never say what they mean. The government is invested in obfuscation." Then he mentioned how consistency in thought, word and deed is integrity.

It looks to me like integrity is the issue at every level, from the President, to Congress, to the police force, to citizens. 

Imagine what we could do if integrity became a huge topic of conversation, of action, and of education. 

Diane Randall was also speaking the truth in love. Her organization The Friends Corporation on National Legislation is a lobbying organization in the public interest which focuses on peace, and was founded in 1943 by members of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers).

Lynne Lyman and Lisa Bloom both spoke in the afternoon. From my point of view, they mostly just swam around in the problem, using many statistics which definitely defined the darkness and did little to claim the light.

Thom Hartmann -- very knowledgeable about the history of how we came to this point of unfettered capitalism in which the corporations are no longer responsible to anyone except themselves and their shareholders. I'll be looking into this guy's podcasts and books.

Senator Bernie Sanders -- maybe I was just tired, but this just sounded like a lot of political talk. The sidebar discussion was full of people wanting him to run for President, and telling us to hang on for solutions that will be presented tomorrow during the session. We shall see.

Overall, day one ended with me feeling like I had found a couple of very interesting new people to listen to (Kucinich, Hartmann) but that I had wandered into a group of people (sidebar) who hate republicans and everything about them. I still feel a little disturbed this morning from some of the comments by a very vocal few. My desire is to find common ground, but that still remains to be found.

My biggest take away yesterday came gradually as I realized my commitment to "Getting to Yes" (also the name of a book by Fisher/Ury) might just be something that is going to be impactful in a larger context than I have heretofore imagined.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

I Have a Sponsor!

There are many types of sponsors. In today's marketing-heavy world, sponsors are the companies who pay to support a program, sports events, conference, or workshop. Another type of sponsor is the sometimes life-changing ones available through 12-step programs. Guess which kind I have?

As I have walked alongside someone I love through their recovery journey, there have been many family events and educational sessions. All of those have been about helping the family/parents understand what the addict is experiencing, and timely topics such as enabling vs. supporting.

Along the way, a few times it has occurred to me that I have addictive tendencies as well. I find that my "drug of choice" is easily accessible, and just as hard for me to resist as is cocaine or heroin or alcohol to the users of those drugs. As a matter of fact, during a conversation several months ago, my dearly beloved addict told me that I was saying things about food that sounded just like the things addicts say about drugs and alcohol.

I try more and more to listen to the inner promptings I experience. There are plenty of times when I am just barely aware of them and plow over them and do what I want anyway. But, the times I act on those promptings are powerful.

Recently, I felt a prompting to ask my beloved addict if he would sponsor me. I recognize that he is still in the midst of his own recovery, and doesn't have everything figured out. I see that he is young and still making his way into adulthood and maturity. But I also note that he has a sponsor, so he knows how it works. And I'm not expecting perfection, only perfect imperfection.

I started out by asking what a sponsor does, how does it work, what is their responsibility, what is the sponsee's responsibility? And then I asked him if he would be my sponsor. He said yes! I could see there was some hesitation -- after all, he is only partway through.

Our breakfast meeting turned into the first meeting between a sponsor and a sponsored person.

After our breakfast meeting, I was given an assignment. "Write a blog post expressing any new discoveries and thoughts or understandings about your belief system."

Here it is.

People who use drugs or overdo it with alcohol are always at risk of being getting into legal difficulties. People like myself who "use" food or overdo it ALWAYS get in trouble with the "police' in their own head. I NEVER escape being convicted, tried, and sentenced. Every single time I break my "law," my internal police force comes down on me hard.

This is an ironic realization for me, because I am just about the least likely person I know to break any laws. I was accused of shoplifting back in my early 20's, and every single person who knew me knew that the store had made a mistake (which they had and admitted to). And yet, here I am, breaking my own "laws" on a regular basis.

My other assignment this week is to tell my sponsor just one time when I am facing temptation, to realize that I can eat donuts every day for the rest of my life if I want, but to take one instance of temptation and contact my sponsor about that. I will do this.

I'm honestly surprised at the places we went in our discussion today as we talked. I wonder what will come of this for both of us!

Friday, March 27, 2015

11,126 hungry steps to lunch

I recently had the harebrained idea to walk to my lunch date at Red Robin. In a spate of glossy thinking, I reasoned that Red Robin was only a little further away than the UU church I walked to a few weeks ago. In the tradition of the women in my family, I decided arbitrarily that an hour would be long enough to make the walk since that's how much time I had before my meeting.


The facts:

UU church is 3 miles from my home.
Red Robin is 5 miles from my home.

At 20 min per mile, the UU is a one hour walk. Red Robin is one hour and forty minutes. This is not a little further, pal. This is a lot further.

Because I hadn't looked at the facts, (my mind was made up, see), I reasoned that a bit of jogging would probably get me that little bit further in time. The scientist in me will note that this was a poor hypothesis.

Although I jogged as many steps as I felt like I could, I received a text when I was only a little past the UU church that my lunch date had already arrived. Called my personal Uber/Lyft driver who graciously dropped what he was doing and gave me a "lyft" to the restaurant. I was still late, but my friend is gracious.

Lesson learned. Facts matter when it comes to time. Time matters when it comes to plans. Plans matter when it comes to accomplishments. F(T)+P(F)=getting there on time.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Time to Wake up

I spent two hours this morning sitting in the lobby of the local high school, ostensibly there to sell tickets to the upcoming musical production. We're new to the school, new to the drama department, new to all the volunteer requirements requests.

I manage our home life quite often rather like a single parent. There is no other choice when the other parent is out of town, out of state, out of my time zone, out of the country. Volunteering for evening things can be very tricky with a small child who needs to go to bed at a reasonable hour. Rather than complaining, this is simply how I see my availability and responsibilities.

15 minutes into my shift of two hours (!!!), I realized that the someone who had decided selling tickets this way would be a good idea had a different idea than I as to what it a good use of my time. So, I learned today that I will volunteer elsewhere.

Watching the students walk by me in ones and groups, I had another realization about the truth of the "generation gap," as they used to call it. It's not just that the clothes are different, and the mores are different, and the language is different. It looks to me like the level of autonomy, direction and self-empowerment have gone way, way down since my time in high school.

Of course, I never watched the students in my own high school through my parent's eyes, or my grandparent's eyes, so I can only surmise that things have changed.

Perhaps it is the juxtaposition of being in the high school today with being in a room with 40 men yesterday who were checking in with a judge in drug court. Hearing their conversation before the meeting, and then observing them in the meeting.

What do young people count on these days? Where do they get their moorings?

I read the news story about the Phil Robertson story about murdering and raping an athiest's wife and children and how the atheist would have no justification for proclaiming this to be wrong. I was dumbfounded. People actually think this.

I wrote a song when I was in my "christian rock" band in Australia. "Don't be a simple mind who gives simple words to questions that are anything but simple." No, not a Top 40 hit anywhere ever, just an early expression of my conviction that critical thinking is one of the most essential characteristics we can have.

In the school system, are they teaching critical thinking? I can't speak for every class and every teacher and every school system, but in our very highly regarded system, critical thinking seems to be low on the priority list most of the time.

In our religious systems, are they teaching critical thinking? Not in my upbringing and church experience. Critical thinking seems to be one of the things that lead people to leave their religion, so it isn't always recommended or encouraged.

In our court system, are they teaching critical thinking? Not from what I have seen. They are teaching criminals and the accused to follow the rules, jump through the hoops, give the right answers, and not get caught.

Where do people go to take off their masks? A brave few take them off anywhere and everywhere, but most of us have several masks we wear to prevent anyone from discovering who we really are.

There are pockets of hope. Marianne Williamson is hosting the SisterGiant conference this weekend (in person in LA and online here.) Your political leanings need not fit in any particular box. The topics are universally applicable.

Please join me for the next SISTER GIANT Conference on March 28-29, in Los Angeles and/or via livestream. (This one is for all of us — women and men too!) We’re going to have a deep conversation that weekend about conscious citizenship and political change. From getting the money out of politics to racial justice and mass incarceration, from the corruption of our food supply to how to build a more peaceful world, from spiritual enlightenment to political transformation, we’re going to spend a weekend digging deep and flying high…in our minds, in our hearts, and hopefully in our country.

Will you take the time to look at this link? Will you be someone who considers the possibilities of conscious citizenship and political change? I'm registered for the livestream of this conference. Please join me.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

To Rebound or Not to Rebound; That is the Question

Do you love etymology as much as I do? Discovering the origins of words is often quite illuminating, and sometimes it's simply another explanation of the definition.  Take rebound, for instance. It comes from an Old French word, rebondir, meaning to bounce back up.  

On the best days, one of my early activities in the day is to get on the rebounder for fifteen minutes. So many days, I wake up after good sleep on my lovely mattress, with my ergonomically correct pillow from the chiropractor and my softer than soft bamboo bedsheets . . . and my neck is stiff. 
That rebounder shakes all the stiffness out. The first several minutes of jumping are uncomfortable, as the stiffness resists release. 

As I rebondir, bounce back up, eventually my neck loosens up. 

Try it for yourself. Even if your neck isn't stiff, the benefits of rebounding are many. From Wellness Mama, here is a list of benefits from rebounding:

  • Boosts lymphatic drainage and immune function
  • Great for skeletal system and increasing bone mass
  • Helps improve digestion
  • More than twice as effective as running without the extra stress on the ankles and knees
  • Increases endurance on a cellular level by stimulating mitochondrial production (these are responsible for cell energy)
  • Helps improve balance by stimulating the vestibule in the middle ear
  • Helps improve the effects of other exercise- one study found that those who rebounded for 30 seconds between weight lifting sets saw 25% more improvement after 12 weeks than those who did not.
  • Rebounding helps circulate oxygen throughout the body to increase energy.
  • Rebounding is a whole body exercise that improves muscle tone throughout the body.
  • Some sources claim that the unique motion of rebounding can also help support the thyroid and adrenals.
  • Rebounding is fun!
The traditional rebounder is connected to its frame by springs, but the newer rebounders are connected by bungee cords. Traditional rebounders can be found in stores and online for less than $50. The bungee cord rebounders are made by Bellicon and JumpSport

Try it! You'll like it! 

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Inside the behemoth court system

The three of us piled into the red Honda CRV and headed to the destination programmed into the Waze app. Traffic wasn't heavy, and the route was simple. We knew we were getting close when the plethora of bail bond businesses appeared. The razor wire atop the tall chain link fence, more than anything, emphasized the stark seriousness of the place. I knew my son was in there somewhere and my heart shriveled in my chest as I imagined what it might be like inside those walls. We were hopeful that he would walk out those doors today and we would be reunited.

We found Courtroom D and remarked at the amazing lack of privacy here in this county, as every defendant was listed by name, along with the official numbers of the statutes and the various dates of warrants, etc.

Believing that it is infinitely better to arrive early than late, we slipped into the courtroom during the 8:30-10:00 session, the one prior to the one we were there for. We watched client after client stand before the judge and we got a sense of her tendency to be lenient. We saw this as a good sign. As amateur legal counsel, we knew exactly the outcome we were hoping for.

Finally, the last defendant for the session finished up and exited the side door to pay his fines. Next would be those defendants currently being held in jail. The first man who walked into the courtroom in handcuffs and shackled feet was a tall, Caucasian man with a large swastika tattooed on one entire side of his bald head. We were horrified and clung to each other, willing ourselves to remain calm. We sat through the majority of the thirty defendants for that session before they called my son's name.

Between the swastika-clad man, and my son, there were many criminals representing even more crimes. Domestic violence, a son who had damaged his parents home in anger, multiple women-- mothers-- in for drug offenses. It wasn't hard to see which of those people in orange jumpsuits had some things going for them, and which ones were really striking out in the game of life.

The world, or at least the court, boasts a preponderance of people who can't get to court or community service or probation appointments because they have no transportation; lots of people who if they have a job, it's at McDonald's for the past three weeks. Quite a number who have been busy helping their sick grandmother. Many who really just want a chance, your honor, to get everything going in the right direction.

We noticed one thing that was consistent among almost all the prisoners brought in from the jail. As soon as they entered the courtroom, their eyes scanned the spectator section for a familiar face. Some found one. Many did not. When their charges were read, our hearts broke. Young people who had stolen from their parents. Men who had abused their women. Druggies  in every configuration possible of detox, recent user just waiting to get out and find their next fix, or at least giving lip service to the idea of rehab.

Our outcome was as positive as we had hoped, but there would still be over three more hours before a very broken-hearted young man would wait behind that thick, steel door waiting for it to eject him out of that dark, sad place. While we waited for him, a very angry probation officer swooped in and met with her incarcerated client within earshot. "Just who the HELL do you think you are telling the [somebody important person] that you were too busy to meet with him?"

Further waiting ensued as we jumped through hoops to prove we had brought a medication for our son (which he did not receive while there over the weekend) and then waited while the nurse went and looked again, finally finding it after a good twenty minutes.

Although this jail stay over the weekend was for something in the far distant past that just now caught up with us, it is now part of our present.

I am reminded of what the man said to me in another courtroom awhile back: this stuff just never leaves you alone. I think it can, though, if you somehow finally find a way to leave the stuff alone.

Boy, if parental and other adult resolve was all it took, our son would be in such great shape! But, alas, it's not our journey, although we are part of it. Many times today, I began to feel the intensity of the wave, and I imagined myself atop the wave, on my surfboard, being a part of it without being crushed by it. One thing he's certainly not lacking is a supportive, involved, resourceful family! Of course, we also have unhealthy communication patterns, tendencies toward co-dependency, and plenty of other foibles. Just a heaping healing helping of perfect imperfection. Another step on the journey of life.

Monday, March 23, 2015

A Trinity of Questions

I read about a fun exercise today called a trinity.  "A Brag, A Grateful, A Desire."

Brag  -- what can I be proud of right now?

Grateful -- what  blessing in my life would I like to acknowledge?

Desire -- if money, time, and the laws of physics were no object, what would I desire?

Source: Regena Thomashauer (Mama Gena) referenced in Christiane Northrup's latest book, Goddesses Never Age.

Well, it was fun until I started to answer the questions, and lo and behold, I got all vulnerable feeling and hesitant to answer the questions.

It's easy to answer the questions if I keep them at arm's length. What can I be proud of right now? My dang kids. I could go on for paragraphs and pages about each of them and their wonders. Easy peasy. Harder to answer the question if I look inside my own skin.

Grateful for? Again, easy to answer if I stay superficial. Husband, kids, home, health, the usual suspects. I am truly grateful for them, but I feel a tug toward a deeper consideration of the question.

And the desire? THAT is the hardest question in the history of the universe. As I'm learning to let go of control, to lean into asking for things I might not get, to trust the process and take the next step, I recognize that answering this question is important. Pressing through the fear, having courage to ask for what I desire.


Dear blog readers.

What can I be proud of right now?

I can be and am proud of my willingness to learn new tricks (even though somewhat old dog).
I am proud of my willingness to try new things.
I am proud of my resilience and flexibility.

In Sylvester Stallone's movie, Rocky Balboa, Rocky is tested to see if he still has a spark, if he can still get up after being knocked down. That movie made me cry big time because that is one of the questions that life is asking me.
from the motivationmentalist.wordpress.com
Do you still have it, Suz? Are you willing to keep getting up even though getting knocked down hurts? And I say YES I AM.

What blessing in my life would I like to acknowledge?

I would like to acknowledge the blessing of my five senses and all the wonderful things they have had the privilege of smelling, tasting, seeing, hearing, and feeling, lo these many years.

I am SO grateful that I can  ...
see the blue of the sky
and all the colors of the spectrum
smell the coffee my husband makes every day
and the freshness of the outside air
taste tiramisu
and the smoothness of chocolate
hear the most amazing music on the planet
and the wind chimes that sing to me all day
feel the affectionate hugs of my children
and the touch of my husband
and the cold air on my face
and the warm water cascading over me in the shower
and the curves and lumps and perfect imperfections of my own body
I am SO grateful that I can.

And if money, time and the laws of physics were no object, what would I desire?

I would love to live near water and mountains. To walk out my front door and see water, and out my side door and see mountains and out my back door and see trees. I want to travel to Europe and see the countryside of France, the mountains of Switzerland, the fjords of Norway, the cathedrals of Spain, the sights in the fog of England, and much more. I want to go back and see my friends in Australia.  I want to be remembered for the love I give, the joy I share, and the impact I make.

Your turn. A brag, a grateful, and a desire. Are you game?

Sunday, March 22, 2015

On Being Presented with the Same Lesson Over and Over

I've never surfed. The closest I have ever come to standing up, balancing on something was when I tried out my son's skateboard. I balanced for a second and then the skateboard moved forward, leaving me behind, in the air pretty much like Wiley E. Coyote in the air after he has run off the edge of the cliff. I know what that landing feels like. I really don't know how WEC kept it up. One fall like that was enough for me.

I've never surfed. I lived minutes from the Pacific Ocean in Australia, and had many friends who surfed. Why didn't I try? I doubt if it even occurred to me.

I've never surfed, but I realized today that several issues appear as GIANT waves any time I admit them into my consciousness. I've been running from the waves. They're BIG. I cannot hold them BACK. They will knock me DOWN. Is it time for me to see what surfing these waves would be like? Surfing is the process of riding a wave to the shore. Surfers love the waves, don't they? Avid surfers often say the bigger the wave, the better.

I'm nowhere near the ocean right now. There's not an ocean wave within 400 miles of here, so I can't go try it. But maybe I can imagine what it would feel like to ride the wave, to be on top of it, to go with it toward the shore.

What do I see as I imagine this? I feel the powerful movement of the water beneath my board. The sun is out, shining as it does every single day somewhere in the world. I understand the wave is something that is exhilarating. Every wave has its crest and then gets smaller and smaller as it moves toward the shore. Surfing the waves is the opposite of standing on the shore, watching the waves come in, dreading their size, fearing their power.

Same lesson, different day. The School of Life keeps pulling this old chestnut out and presenting it to me. Apparently, I've yet to learn it.

Seems like the most important thing in this situation is to keep focusing on what is, rather than what has been. To say yes, and, even if it's through tears. And to keep getting back up and back on my surfboard and trying again. Dude, I'm a gurfer (girl surfer). Yes, only in my mind, but that's a start.

You can’t stop the waves, but you can learn to surf”
Jon Kabat-Zinn

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Day trippin to Chicago

This is about how much I "ate" today.
One of my very alert readers noticed today that I introduced today's post with "Happy Thursday!" Of course, as she mentioned, it was Friday, not Thursday. What can I say? I drove up to Chicago to spend time with my college daughter, and just lost track of time.

Speaking of which, I came up here to attend one of her classes. It's a lit class and they were discussing Cormac McCarthy's "The Road." I read it in preparation for the class, and loved every minute of the class. Such intelligent, well-read, thoughtful students. A wonderful prof. The kind of discussion I just don't get enough of, and wonder how I'd ever get anymore of.

Later in the day, we attended the art opening of my daughter's best friend, one of the senior art students here. Somehow, while a student here, I didn't attend any senior art shows. At least, that I remember. This show juxtaposed images of depression with images of playfulness. I found the experience extremely stimulating and invigorating.

Now I wish I had taken photos of her art. I was deeply touched by her creations. I'd love to be able to share them, but can only use words to explain that I got what she was trying to say. Or, maybe I got what I brought to the art myself and saw in it. Either way, it was a privilege to attend.

And how can I express what it is like to spend time with my eldest daughter, who left home four years ago this summer to spend time in Ireland, and then proceeded to have multiple adventures on her way to getting her diploma, which happens in less than two months.

This day has been one full of rich experiences. But, of course, as is common in my life, there were also a few urgent things happening at home as well that I needed to deal with throughout the day.

How can I be a part of more discussions like today's? There are universities in my town. That seems like a place to begin to look into what opportunities exist for part-time non-degree-seeking students.

I think today's rich "meals" are going to need some time for me to fully "digest." So, no big, or little, lessons today, I don't think. I just know I want more in-depth discussions with thoughtful, intelligent people who want to wrestle, discuss, challenge, question, and think.

PS They have a Tesla car store in the mall here. A car store!

short. not sweet.

Well, well, well. Apparently the year of the fucking heroin is not over.

Will it ever be.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Why isn't Laughter Yoga Funnier?

I have been racking my brains today for the name or author of a book I read several years ago about a man who was maybe an entertainer who maybe went to a children's home where there were children with maybe cancer living together? That doesn't seem quite right, but I can't quite get the details back, so I am unable to find and refer back to the book.

The only laughter exercise I remember was the intentional belly laugh. To lie down on the floor and just let loose with a belly laugh. Laugh even if there is nothing funny. Laugh and let your body experience the joy that comes from laughter. I've done that several different times, but not very often. It is most fun to do with Kepler. He laughs easily anyway, and his laugh is totally contagious.

When I first heard of laughter yoga, it sounded intriguing. The opportunities I knew of were infrequent and usually not compatible with my schedule. Finally, the stars aligned and we decided to try out the laughter yoga session being held at the library. Whatever I was imagining, laughter yoga as practiced at my local library branch was not it.

I think the most difficult part of the class was the expectation that we were going to look deep into the eyes of the other participants, in order to make a connection with them. This was supposed to happen without any introduction to each other, or icebreaker, or anything that might have put us at ease with one another. Not everyone was able to do this. As a matter of fact, the person I was with pretty much shot out the door as soon as the intros were over and the exercises began. Others who were there clearly had a hard time looking me in the eye.

The other difficulty was that the exercises were quite brief, so the leader's admonition that we fake it till we make it was impossible for me because there wasn't a relaxed sense of time, a place being created where we could each find our center, find our own genuine laughter. I guess maybe the principle in play there was that your body doesn't know whether you are laughing for real or not (said the leader), so if you do 60 minutes of fake laughing, good enough for who it's for!

Maybe something like that needs a few tries before one decides whether one likes it or not.

"Why do I have to be so negative about everything?" I whined to my husband the next morning (since I didn't like the laughter yoga class). He reminded me that I'm not negative about everything, that I had been willing to respond to the email and had made and followed through on plans to try something new.

It's a delicate balance, isn't it. Trying new things, being unattached to the outcome, staying long enough to get a good feel for something, recognizing that time is precious and being willing to shift gears and do something else when necessary.

Laughter yoga might not be for me, at least not taught like that. But I was reminded that I DO love the laughter exercise I learned about in that man's book. And that is a positive outcome. I can do that anytime, anywhere, and with anyone who is willing. Ha ha ha ha ha!

Thursday, March 19, 2015

How Not to Make a Good First Impression

The Toastmasters meet every Tuesday at noon, about 15 minutes from my home. Another group meets about 20 minutes from home. I visited the 20-minute-away group and really enjoyed it. Decided it was worth checking out a second group before I committed myself to anything.

We'll call the 20-minutes-away group The Top-Drawer Toasters, and the 15-minutes-away group The Topsy-Turvies.

When I entered the large glass office building where the Top-Drawers meet and approached the front desk, the friendly security guard knew exactly what I was talking about when I asked where the Toastmasters meet, and outdid Google Maps getting me to the exact place. Today, when I entered the low-slung office building where the Topsy-Turvies meet, the front desk security guard looked positively panic-stricken when I asked where the Toastmasters meet.

While the unconcerned panic-stricken security guard looked around at her desk, wondering how she might get me to just go away, I hopped online with a helpful Toastmaster chat person called Jason, who was able to give me the contact email for the group. Then I switched over to the webpage of this Toastmaster group and called the contact number and left a message. Finally, I sent an email to the contact person. I hung around for a few minutes in case a Topsy-Turvy was checking the email or messages, but heard nothing back.

So, I drove away, a little disappointed, but saying "Yes, and" and then saying it again when I got all the way home and realized I had left my irreplaceable water bottle at the Topsy Turvy location.

The truth is, for something like this, I'm probably not going to try a second time. Had the security guard known any helpful information, that would have been super. Had the phone number been answered ... oh, by the way? The person whose phone that is called me back and let me know I had called the wrong number, the one I clicked on on the website. And the return email I got let me know not one iota more information than I already had.

I'd say that group isn't really interested in new members. Of course, I am forming a conclusion that may or may not be at all accurate, but that's what us busy humans do these days. You only make one first impression.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

I'm Wondering if You'd Like Chappie

My daughter's tweet appeared in my timeline:

Valerie Taylor (@lackadaisygrace)
Just got back from Chappie. The rest of my night will be spent lying on the floor staring at the wall contemplating existence.

Knowing her as I do, my curiosity was piqued (not peaked; I double-checked) about this film I had heard about on the edges of my consciousness.

Subsequent texting included her telling me I absolutely should go see this movie. I went because I wanted to be impacted by the visual and aural experience. I went because I wanted to feel.

Arriving just three minutes before the show started, I passed the line at the popcorn counter right by. The line helped my resolve, because I really didn't want all that chewing, and salt, and trash.

Theater 5 was all the way at the end, past four other theaters, and directly across from the one showing 50 Shades of Grey, a movie I am happy to avoid at all costs. One other patron was seated in the theater, surrounded by her refreshments. I found a seat (finally!) in the front row of the upper section.

The trailers started almost immediately. Aloha, ok maybe; Paul Blart 2, not in a million years; Fantastic4, quite possibly; Furious 7, about as much chance of seeing this as there was Furious 1-6, but hey, parachuting cars is a rad stunt; Mad Max Fury, uh, not even; Ex Machina, not so much; And oh, good golly, Terminator Genisys, maybe if I want to feel like I have been pummeled for 104 minutes in the face, ears, and chest. But that's not the type of feeling I am after.

I usually read as little as possible about a movie before I go in, so as to avoid spoilers and pre-conceived prejudices. I did check out some reviews and wow, the reviewers HATED this film. Then, Mr. Google took me to a Reddit thread where the Redditor asked why so much hate? I read a few of her lines and knew I wanted to go.

Did I feel? Yeah, I sure did. You can read the plot line a million other places, so I'll just move on to my impressions.

The lifestyle of crime; the ugliness of humans who are without any mooring other than grabbing everything they can, mostly money, sex, drugs, power, darkness. I know that exists here and now, and I wonder if there is any solution. Certainly my religious upbringing portrayed the darkness in humanity as simply a result of the fall, and just a part of the fulfillment of the whole story.

But what if that isn't the whole story? What if there are people who are taking their turn to create, and to connect, and to try new solutions to old, old problems? Places like the Mondo X communities in Italy are doing something different. From their webpage: (Note: their language is not gender inclusive. Perhaps we might give them grace and understand that it was written many years ago when "man" was understood to mean "all people." )

We do not wish to steal anybody's
power money Empires vanity
We are quite satisfied
to see even one single man
pass from slavery to life
with our help (because of us) Mondo X 

Director Neill Blomkamp is only 35 years old! Talk about taking his turn. 

A tiny bit of research shows me that feature films can cost upwards of $250 million to make, and twice that by the time the marketing is done. Chappie cost $49 million, but certainly stands tall against any other film I have seen. 

What a creative story! I can't necessarily parse all the deeper meanings, but I can surely recognize the beauty of imperfectly perfect love and forgiveness, even in such a heavy, dark film. I was fascinated by Blomkamp's decision to feature two South African rap-rave group musicians as key characters. 

(If you're still reading, thank you.) You've made it all the way to the "the part that touched me deep." 

"Craft life, Don't let life craft you."

"Be moved."

So, yes, I did feel. And I want to live today as someone who has been moved and who is crafting life. Today and every day, actually. How about you?

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

I Think I Might Have Found my "WHY" -- FAT TUESDAY, Part 4

Things I have tried to manage and maintain a healthy weight:

Making sure I ate 5 servings of fruits and vegetables every day (summer, 1986)
Running three times a week at lunch time (1986-87)
Personal training + low-carb/not paleo (2002-2003)
Some crazy Diet Center thing (five minutes, 1979)
Personal training without changing my diet (various)
The HCG diet (various)
Having a baby (hehe)
Paleo diet (various)
Intermittent fasting
Cardio + Nutrition + Weighttraining
Geneen Roth's guidelines
Mindful eating

Things that have succeeded in managing and maintaining my weight for very long.


Apparently, depression is one of those conditions that often impacts weight. For a variety of reasons, diet also seems to impact depression.

Impersonating a slug this morning, I came across an article called "Medicating Women's Feelings" in the New York Times. Suddenly I realized why I had chosen to be a layabout this morning; so I would discover this article. Her article raised quite a kerfluffle in the comments section, but it reminded me that I had heard James Altucher talk about how we have serotonin in our gut. And THAT has led me on a detailed search for more information about how diet, gut flora and health, and digestion impact our serotonin levels.

For me, being able to get off of an anti-depressant sounds INCREDIBLE. So far, my research has not yielded anything in particular that makes a definitive connection between diet and depression, but there are signs that such a connection exists at a deeper level than I have been aware of. I'm on a quest to discover what connection might exist.  Imagine if I could eat to support my brain chemistry and that same method would also support my overall health and weight!

Continuing with baby steps this week of eating the perimeter of the grocery store and keeping a written record of what I eat. Adding in one more baby step of setting up eating hours of 7am to 7pm, and fasting hours 7pm to 7am.

Monday, March 16, 2015

8212 steps of adventure

It's been a long and winding road that has brought me to the point of visiting a Unitarian-Universalist (UU) church. From a general disdain for the idea of a place which has no unifying theology, along that winding road, to arriving at an eagerness to visit, by myself, a place where I knew absolutely no one and absolutely nothing about.

I arrived early, early, early. The rest of the fam was heading elsewhere, and if I wanted a ride, that's the time I could go! Knowing that there wasn't any particular creed that I was expected to adhere to allowed me to feel comfortable being myself, and I reached out to multiple people and introduced myself.

Our most recent church experience has been at a mega-church where the focus of the morning is definitely on the "main stage" presentation. With something like 14,000 people coming through the doors every weekend, getting to know people is not what I would call easy. This morning at the UU, the congregation numbered around 65, which felt a heck of a whole lot more accessible. I mean, I'm all for pushing my introverted self to be more extroverted, but 14,000 is just way too much to wrap my head around.

A man named Thomas Starr King is credited with explaining the difference between Universalism and Unitarian: Universalists believe that God is too good to damn people, and the Unitarians believe that people are too good to be damned by God." Wherever my spiritual journey ultimately takes me, I am grateful for the opportunity to learn more about the different ideas that different people hold.

There are seven principles of UU:

Belief in the worth and dignity of every person;
Belief that all people should be treated fairly and kindly;
Belief that we should accept one another and encourage spiritual growth:
Belief in a free and responsible search for truth and meaning;
Belief that all people should have a say in the things that concern them:
Belief in working to achieve peace and freedom;
Belief in caring for planet Earth, the home we share with all living things.

I don't know about you, but when I read those,  I feel a sense of relief.

After the lay-led "sermon," the congregation broke up into four smaller groups and discussed the questions which were raised by the speaker. They were similar to the questions Seth Godin addresses about creating, and others who are talking about stepping up and taking your turn.

The 8212 steps happened as I walked home, since the aforementioned fam was elsewhere. I've driven along that stretch of road, but just as I am finding every time I walk, walking is a whole other animal than driving.
When I drive, I must watch the road, be aware of traffic, follow traffic signals, wait my turn. While I still have to do those same things when I walk, they are qualitatively different, and they don't preclude me from noticing what has been discarded along the roadside, how squishy the ground is, and how much space there is between me and the traffic (not a lot as you can see in this photo).

The road I walked has intermittent sidewalks and is otherwise not particularly friendly to pedestrians. With the exception of one obnoxious pickup truck who intentionally blew diesel smoke in my face, the many cars that passed me gave me a wide berth, and I didn't see anyone looking at their phone while they drove.

The UU church meets only twice a month, which feels about the right frequency to me. The entire deal is run by volunteers, including the speaker, which means maybe I could do some speaking there if I decide to be more committed to this group of people. I don't know. We'll see what happens.

I know lots of people walk regularly, but I recommend walking somewhere you haven't walked before. It's an eye-opening experience.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

The Wrecking Crew

Last night, Greg and I had the privilege of attending a screening of this labor of love, the documentary film about the group of studio musicians who played on all kinds of albums in the 1960s. This interview with the filmmaker, Denny Tedesco, explains how it came to be.

The audience had more than the typical spread of gray-haired heads. The 60s were quite some time ago, so the people who loved this music are a little ... older ... than the average movie audience. (Of course, I was an anomaly -- a spring chicken, just a babe, really).

One thing that struck me in the film, and the musicians themselves were certainly aware of this fact, is that these men (and a lone woman, who played bass guitar) were in the right place at the right time. They were also wonderful musicians, but that era was the time when studio musicians were in huge demand. Popular bands weren't "all about that bass" or any other instrument, for that matter. There was a huge production factor in popular music in the 60s.

The heyday for the Wrecking Crew wound down in the late 60s as bands began wanting to create their own music, playing their own instruments. The audience was demanding the same, and the 70s saw a huge uptick in bands that made some awesome music together.

There was a question and answer session afterwards, hosted by a local deejay. He had some interesting stories to tell about meeting Glen Campbell (one of the studio musicians before he became a star), and the camaraderie among the audience was really enjoyable.

A tiny personal achievement for me was to ask two questions during the Q&A. I have typically stayed quiet, second- and third-guessing myself before I even open my mouth. I managed to allow myself to have the questions, and then ask them, without worrying about how imperfect they were. And when one has a question that one would like the answer to, one most definitely ought to take the opportunity to ask it!

So many of the great songs of the late fifties and sixties were in this film. My favorite nostalgic moment was Glen Campbell's Wichita Lineman.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Happy Birthday, Mom

My good friend whom I've never met in person, Jim Borden, wrote a tribute to his mother yesterday because it was her birthday. Twas my mother's birthday as well. Just another thing Jimbo and I have in common. But, I digress.

M is for Marvelous Musical Mary born in March. To know my mother is to experience her Musical talent. From her early days, she's been the
pianist for all the town events. She Majored in Music and has played for Many a wedding, funeral and bar Mitzvah. (I might be exaggerating about that last bit.) My dad bought her a black Yamaha Grand piano years ago. She didn't even kill me when I Mindlessly threw a rock across the living room, hitting her brand new piano, taking a little gouge out of its shiny black finish.

O is for Overcoming Obstacles. Mom comes from the dusty plains of Oklahoma, where they literally walked a mile in the snow to get to school. She attended an unusual college which gave her good Music instruction and her M.R.S., but warped her Mind with its religious nutcake ideas. Once she Overlooked an extremely unObvious note I left for her in the detritus of a cluttered countertop UNDER A LAMP; an Odd place to leave a note, Obviously.

T is for Trying again and again, as in if at first you don't succeed, Try, Try, again. Mother is the one who Taught me that There's no such thing as can't, which messed with my mind for a lot of years before I discovered that There IS such a Thing as won't.

H is for HER indomitable spirit. This is the woman who killed a spider on the wall, with her foot ...
above her head. If only we'd had iPhones back then. This is the woman who drove across the country with three small children who were probably fighting like cats and dogs, which would be bad enough but said mother also had the flu with all of the accompanying unpleasant symptoms. She got us home safe and sound, although she probably wanted to Duct Tape us to the rear bumper while she drove, to get a break from the bickering. Many other things has she endured and come out stronger on the other side. I think Mom is where I got my ability to persist, as I wrote about yesterday.

I is for Incredible. My mother made us clothes, with love. She has singlehandedly created the most beautiful furnishings for hundreds of people over the years. She loves to be Innovative and use her Imagination. She's a writer of prose and music. Her reputation as a fun-loving, joyful party guest is widely known.

N is for you Need to know there is Not one thing in this post or elsewhere that Needs to be seen as tragic or problematic. She is Nothing but fantastic, because she, too, is imperfectly perfect.

S is for surprise. Because you (and I) thought this acrostic poem was going to spell MOTHER. She'd be the first to tell you that she enjoys the unexpected and doesn't want to be like everyone else (which is why I had to buy my own Calvin Klein jeans) and as a result, is just the most alive, interested,
animated, lively, full of life, alert, active, energetic, vigorous, spry, sprightly, vital, vivacious, buoyant, exuberant, ebullient, zestful, spirited, full of beans, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, chipper, peppy and full of vim and vigor person I know. She's just the best.

Happy Birthday, Mom.

Friday, March 13, 2015

9111 Tiny Steps of Persistence

You know, some days are just uneventful. Maybe it's raining, maybe it's partly sunny. Could be spring, summer, winter, fall. Maybe you feel pretty good, or maybe you're a little blue. You always have a long to-do list. Time, as the Alan Parson Project sang in the 80's, time keeps flowing like a river to the sea. 

This morning, the weather report said 70% chance of rain. I wanted to go for a walk. I had library books due. I needed groceries. My fitbit was all charged up and ready to start showing some big numbers. 

I decided to act on the 30% chance of not-rain and set out walking, intending to return the books and get the groceries. That happened.

9111 steps later, I was back home, shed of the books, groceries bought and put away. 

Some days a 70% chance of rain is enough to make me decide to just not chance it. Take the car and drive to the library and store. Make it easy on myself. Not today. There are so many good reasons to walk, to be outside, to act on a plan. I do so much better when I allow myself plenty of time!

On my way home, I listened to Seth Godin, who was on James Altucher's podcast. Seth just brims with inspiration, and I was reminded once again of how much my life has changed since I began daily blogging 56 days ago. 
I'm going to keep on with my tiny steps of persistence. Thanks for being a part of my journey.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Reach Out and Touch Someone

There was a day when long-distance phone calls were few and far between. They were special, costly, and often reserved for special occasions. Unlike college students today, who can communicate via talk, text, tweet, Instagram, Facebook, vlog, blog, FaceTime, Skype, and write the occasional snail mail letter, we were only able to call and write snail mail. Making a regular weekly call home was a special thing for me. My two sisters were still at home, and I loved catching up with my family.

During my college years (and beyond), AT&T had a great ad campaign called "Reach Out and Touch Someone." Several of the commercials featured college students who called home to talk to their families. Not only was the ad campaign effective overall, it resonated deeply with me, because I was the exact demographic they were featuring.

I found a fascinating video of Chuck Blore, who was responsible for that campaign, on the danoday.com website. The video is just under six minutes long. I think you'll enjoy it:

This commercial jingle came to mind as I reflected yesterday on the experience of exercising with my daughter. She is away at college, but through the wonder of technology, we got to share a 30-minute phone call while we walked/jogged. The tagline for the commercials: When a faraway voice sounds as close as you feel. Yes. She is 350 miles away, but it was like she was right there with me.

I've lived a long way from home for quite a few of my years. I've missed weddings, births and funerals because we were too far away to be there. There were times, though, that we drove huge distances to be there for someone, and those memories are qualitatively different than the ones we acknowledged with a card or gift. I wonder if an actual telephone call is becoming these days what "being there" used to be.

Of course, maybe that's just me. Phone calls these days are often inconvenient to receive, probably because our phones are with us everywhere from the library to the bathroom to the theater to church, and we are so often multi-tasking as well. But as sweet as texting with my daughter is, there's nothing quite like talking to her to feel connected. I think I'll do it more often.

Do you enjoy phone calls? Are they becoming more infrequent for you these days?

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

He's Always Happy, Isn't He?

Sometimes people who meet Kepler make comments along the lines of "He's always happy, isn't he?"

Well, he's happy a lot of the time, but not always. Case in point:

On the way home from dance class yesterday, he asked me to take him to Wendy's to get french fries. I said no. I told him the next food he could have was cheerios with milk, and the next drink was going to be water. Dance class is about 12 miles from home. During that drive, he asked for fries at least 20 times, and told me he didn't want Cheerios another 30 times.

Each time he asked, he heard the same thing: "Next food is Cheerios, next drink is water." Poor thing wore himself out fighting against these particular goads. By the time he had fallen asleep in the car, then refused to get out, then littered the basement with his coat and shoes, and finally agreed to cereal, there were only a few minutes until his Fine Arts Night at his school.

Ready to sing!

Sees mom and sister in the audience!

Enjoying his classmates

Happy to be here

He loved being in the show, and showing his sister and me around his school. Not to mention, the huge number of people who greeted him, clearly delighted to see him. One of the fourth grade teachers last night called dibs on him for fourth grade (two years from now). He brings a lot of joy to a lot of people.

Kepler's not always happy, but then, neither is anyone else. But we could probably all take a page from his book about rebounding from stuff that upsets us, and let it go completely when we finally accept what is.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Baby Steps on the Road to Healthy Living -- FAT TUESDAY, Part 3

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about being lost in the wilderness when it comes to food. In part two of the FAT TUESDAY series, I blogged about having a plan, or the lack thereof. The wilderness seems to be the default place for me to be, so I haven't gotten to anything like the bottom of the emotional issue yet, but the resources are right here, inside me, and I am pressing forward.

Each day is a new canvas, waiting for me to paint. Most pictures start off going great guns, with a planned breakfast smoothie chock full of organic fruits and veggies, pure protein powder, and a healthy shake powder mix. I love the process of putting all the layers into the blender and then watching them whir into the purple/green mixture. There are no downsides to my morning smoothie. So I'm usually good until noon every day.

After writing for 20 minutes off-line this morning, the next steps have become evident to me. The first step is to eat the perimeter of the grocery store. At my store, that includes the fruits/vegetables, health food section, meats, and dairy. It also includes the bread section, which isn't typically part of what "they" mean when they say to eat the perimeter. I believe I will leave that in for now, as I tend to sproing back in reaction overmuch when my body senses denial/deprivation.

My second baby step is to keep a record of everything I eat. I won't list it all here, but anyone who wants to know anything is welcome to ask. There might even be someone who would like to be a type of accountability buddy for me, but the baby step right now is just to write it all down.

Are baby steps adequate? I've crashed and burned way too many times when making things too austere. We shall see. Thanks for witnessing my journey.

What baby step might you take today to further your goals? What can I do to support you in that?

Monday, March 9, 2015

Mid-afternoon Popcorn Thoughts

image from quitguide.com
My brain is like popcorn kernels in an air popper today. Every few seconds another kernel explodes into a fluffy piece of popcorn. Suddenly, I'm aware that my daily post is unwritten, even unformed. There are only minutes before I must leave again to do another thing.

Just like every other area of my life, my blogging works best when I work a bit ahead, have a plan, and execute the plan.

I would really like to seek out my desk chair and focus on my writing this afternoon but I cannot.

However, I still have made progress today. I've read about and acted on being motivated. I made my bed (recent habit developed thanks to my grade standards). An hour was spent at the primary school volunteering. The lIbrary books were returned. The care package was prepared and mailed.

It's a beautiful spring-like day. I'm missing the Apple keynote, but being kept apprised of the important bits by my Apple employee daughter.

Some days there's more trying, than doing, no matter what Yoda says. But if you really look for accomplishments, they are there. Some seem small, but to the actor, each one accumulates into success.

And guess what? While typing this, my next appointment cancelled, so my writing dream can become a reality. Found time is pretty sweet, wouldn't you agree?

Sunday, March 8, 2015

The Quietness of a Quiet Day

My social media landscape over the past 24 hours has had fewer ringing bells and slide whistles going off. And I am bereft.

I have actually still interacted with many. There just haven't been new emails and Facebook notifications coming in as fast as I would like. Which could possibly mean that I like them a little too much.

So, I'm just going to enjoy the quiet for now. It's a good day for rest and relaxation anyway. And some offline reflection about some issues that need attention.

Quiet is actually a lovely state of being. One of my favorite times in nature was a solo experience I had along the shore of Lake Superior where I was on my own for two days, fasting, nothing but a journal, pen, sleeping bag, and flashlight with me. That peaceful time still feeds my soul.

Brings to mind lyrics from a Michael Card song:

In stillness and simplicity
In the silence of the heart I see
The mystery of eternity
Who lives inside of me

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Doing the Job Perfectly, er, Perfectly Imperfect


So, I knew a man once who often said, "Good enough for who it's for." I used to bristle at that, because I was really good at judging people and felt superior to most people most of the time, and thought he meant that the job could be cruddy because the recipient of the job wasn't all that valuable. He was kidding (sort of). Of course, there is a sense in which there is some truth to the idea that sometimes something is good enough though it is not perfect. Indeed, perfection isn't even possible a lot of the time.

I once knew another man whose actions seemed to say, "It can never be good enough unless it is perfect." And he did damn fine work. Took forever and a day, but the precision was unmatched.

When I am with someone who places that high of a value on precision, I can turn into the purple minion, because I slip back into that place of judgment, thinking that I know something about how much time any particular person should spend on any particular job. But, I so do not.

Yesterday, while I worked on my kitchen, I was the perfect example of the saying, "Work expands to fill the available time." Had I an appointment on my calendar for 11:30, or 12:30, I would have had to finish the job, or at least get to a stopping place. Instead, I just kept emptying out more cabinets, and making bigger piles of stuff to deal with. There are still a few little pieces to finish up today.

My friend who is SO good at the work he does often allows the work to expand the fill the available time, and sometimes puts off other important things to continue on the work.

How does this relate to shipping and creating?

1. Having a deadline and/or parameters help me get the work done, even if it is not perfect. I have been blogging every day now for 50 days today, and that is because I have the parameter of writing a post every single day. Without that intention, my blog would be more like it was in 2009-2014 where I blogged sporadically and terribly inconsistently.

2. Focusing on perfection can easily become a reason not to ship or create. After all, when I sew something, I ALWAYS do something wrong in the process. Sometimes the wrong thing can be fixed. Sometimes it cannot without starting completely again from the beginning. My blog posts are certainly not perfect, and too much emphasis on perfection for me is going to preclude consistent shipping.

3. As my favorite author, Adrian Plass, says: Everybody is I. What works for me and meets my needs to get me shipping isn't necessarily applicable to everyone. Others who focus on creating things of the highest quality have a place in the world. Probably my favorite Dan Fogelberg song speaks to this idea. There is room in the world for all of us. (Note: one of the reasons I am not perfect at things is because I often have a little person talking to me, "Mom. Mom. Mom. Mom. Mom. Mom. Mom. Mom. Mom. Mom." So, friends, I couldn't find a video of the song that would play here on my blog, but you can watch this on YouTube.)

4. Should I ever get to the place where I actually sit down to write a book, that will definitely be a slower process than blogging is. There will be much revising, editing, rewriting. I still don't think my book will ever be perfect, but perhaps it will be perfectly imperfect. For me, perfectly imperfect is quite perfect enough.

Where can you embrace perfect imperfection today?

Friday, March 6, 2015

The Best Reason I Know of that You Might Want to Support the Reel Abilities Film Festival

The coolest
I stumbled onto the 2015 Reel Abilities Film Festival, Cincinnati venue, because of a fundraising event for the DSAGC (Down Syndrome Association of Greater Cincinnati). The Cincinnati Reds generously provided the venue for a screening of Where Hope Grows. Even though the fundraiser was in the evening AND downtown, and Greg was out of town, I bought tickets and went to the event, along with about 400 other people.

The most startled
In my review of the film, I want to first say, MAD PROPS to the people who make any film. It's a huge undertaking, and I know this one was no exception.

The proudest
The synopsis of the film: "A baseball star forced into early retirement struggles to adjust to the curve ball life has thrown him. He finds new life through an unexpected friendship with Produce, a local grocery store clerk who has Down syndrome."

First important fact. Bad old Johnny (William Zabka), from The Karate Kid (1984), is in this film. He hasn't learned much, it appears, now drinking his sorrows away and making more bad choices.

Second important fact, David DeSanctis, in his first feature film, does a wonderful job in his role as Produce.

Third important fact, the story contained a number of tropes or cliches. But I acknowledge it must be a challenge to make a film without any.

Fourth important fact, I was not tricked at the part where the plot twist threw us for a curve. But the teenage girl with Down syndrome who was sitting two rows in front of me was devastated and her distress made me cry. She was the reason I want to be positive overall about this film.

The cutest
As a middle-class, privileged, white person, I have little understanding of what it's like to be in a minority group who never sees someone like themselves in the media. I loved it that all the young people with Down syndrome in the room saw someone just like them who was living out one of his dreams. David was actually at the premiere and answered questions afterward.

There are upcoming Reel Abilities Film Festivals in cities across the US, including New York and Atlanta. Do consider supporting the RAFF if it comes to your town. What a celebration of hope this film festival is! So many people in the world who are doing the most amazing things, even when they are blind, or deaf, or have some other type of disability. Your support means so much to those with disabilities and their families.

The ham and cheesiest
Also, whatever else these corporations may do, I deeply appreciate their corporate sponsorship of the RAFF. Major sponsors included Macy's, Saul Schottenstein Foundation, Hatton Foundation, Barking Fish, The Cincinnati Enquirer, the city of Cincinnati, and many more.

Here is a list of films shown at the festival. Keep an eye out for them in the future.

Little World
The Crash Reel
Fixed: The Science/Fiction of Human Enhancement
Touch of the Light
Here One Day
Stand Clear of the Closing Doors
Habana Muda
Come as You Are
Travis: A Soldier’s Story
It’s All About Friends
Where Hope Grows
The Commute
Here One Day
Sampler’s Ascent

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Another Snow Day!

I half expected another snow day today, as the skies poured rain yesterday, which eventually turned to snow. As the temperature dropped, it became evident that we would be dealing with both ice and snow today. Sure enough, no school.

I was with some parents recently and one of them gritted her teeth multiple times as she described the power struggles she was in with her daughter (Down syndrome). I felt for her, as I have been there, done that, more than I would have liked. Truthfully, though, I have learned that power struggles pretty much are a losing proposition. Kids just don't respond positively to parents getting more and more intense, more and more DETERMINED to make the child do this thing, damn it.

So, I've had the opportunity to learn some different ways to approach Kepler when it comes to getting him to do something that needs to be done. I realized yesterday that my efforts are paying off. I wondered if they ever would, but he is getting more compliant.

As he has gotten more compliant and I have gotten more relaxed, I have been able to really celebrate his sweet personality, his sense of humor, and his love of doing things together. He patiently waited this morning while I jumped on the rebounder, then joyfully joined in while I washed a few windows. I have much desk work to do today, but he wanted to play a game with me on his iPad, so I said yes. (Important vs Urgent).

He chose Toca Boca Kitchen. You can watch the trailer here. His character decided to cut up a pineapple and eat the entire thing. All of the Toca Boca apps are really cute, and he loves them. While I watched, a light bulb appeared above my head! I have a pineapple in my refrigerator that needs to be cut up.

So, carpe-ing the diem, I invited Kepler to help me cut
up my real pineapple. I'm not even sure if he has even touched a real pineapple before, so we explored it first.
I remembered that the outside of the pineapple represents the fibonacci number sequence, but I just kept that little tidbit to myself.

I am continually amazed at what happens when I get in there and do something new. He used a sharp knife (Cutco, the best!) to cut off the outside of the pineapple. And this little man who eats only the fewest of foods licked his finger of the pineapple juice. He didn't decide to go ahead and take a bite of the fruit, but any food that gets into his mouth that hasn't been there before is a huge win in my book.

I would have loved to video the process, but only had enough hands to help guide his hand, and hold the pineapple. His enthusiasm and joy is just so heart-warming, though.

After we did all the cutting, we ended up with this:

Now, I'm sure none of the rest of y'all have ever bought a pineapple and not gotten around to cutting it up until it was too late, but, alas, I have. So, it was extra sweet today to get this job done, and all the pineapple bagged up and put into the freezer for future smoothie use. 

All of this because I said yes to playing a game with him on his iPad, even though my desk work was tapping its foot and yelling mean things at me. 

What important thing can you say yes to today?