Thursday, October 12, 2017

Poems

Some poetry on a beautiful fall morning.

Otherwise

I got out of bed
on two strong legs.
It might have been
otherwise. I ate
cereal, sweet
milk, ripe, flawless
peach. It might
have been otherwise.
I took the dog uphill
to the birch wood.
All morning I did
the work I love.

At noon I lay down
with my mate. It might
have been otherwise.
We ate dinner together
at a table with silver
candlesticks. It might
have been otherwise.
I slept in a bed
in a room with paintings
on the walls, and
planned another day
just like this day.
But one day, I know,
it will be otherwise.
—Jane Kenyon

“It is a kind of love, is it not?
How the cup holds the tea,
How the chair stands sturdy and foursquare,
How the floor receives the bottoms of shoes
Or toes. How soles of feet know
Where they’re supposed to be.
I’ve been thinking about the patience
Of ordinary things, how clothes
Wait respectfully in closets
And soap dries quietly in the dish,
And towels drink the wet
From the skin of the back.
And the lovely repetition of stairs.
And what is more generous than a window?”
Pat Schneider

Marie Howe, “Hurry”

We stop at the dry cleaners and the grocery store
and the gas station and the green market and
Hurry up honey, I say, hurry,
as she runs along two or three steps behind me
her blue jacket unzipped and her socks rolled down.
Where do I want her to hurry to? To her grave?
To mine? Where one day she might stand all grown?
Today, when all the errands are finally done, I say to her,
Honey I’m sorry I keep saying Hurry—
you walk ahead of me. You be the mother.
And, Hurry up, she says, over her shoulder, looking
back at me, laughing. Hurry up now darling, she says,
hurry, hurry, taking the house keys from my hands.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

The Everything Store

I'm overdue on recapping a few good books I enjoyed this summer.  Let's get started...

The Everything Store is the biography of Amazon as we know it today.  It includes a lot of anecdotes and history about Jeff Bezos without being "the Jeff Bezos story".  Every day my building lobby is filled with Amazon boxes and I certainly make multiple purchases per month - appreciating the ease and speed of the process.

I wanted to know more about a company that is critically changing life as we know it.  My son won't know life without 1-click, 1 day (or less!) shipping of what we need.  Jeff Bezos wasn't a passionate bookseller when he started the company.  He was, however, certain that the internet was going to revolutionize commerce and life and he wanted to be at the forefront.

I enjoy reading about visionaries -- creative thinkers who take enormous risk to push the boundary for the rest of us. I am forever interested in understanding the combination of factors and timing that make someone successful in accomplishing their mission.  I applaud the book for not making Jeff Bezos a flawless hero, straightforward boss or even-keeled decision maker.  Nothing that good comes easily.  His humanity - imperfect, brilliant and impactful - made the book a compelling read.

A link and an excerpt from his baccalaureate speech at Princeton

Tomorrow, in a very real sense, your life -- the life you author from scratch on your own -- begins.
How will you use your gifts? What choices will you make?
Will inertia be your guide, or will you follow your passions?
Will you follow dogma, or will you be original?
Will you choose a life of ease, or a life of service and adventure?
Will you wilt under criticism, or will you follow your convictions?
Will you bluff it out when you’re wrong, or will you apologize?
Will you guard your heart against rejection, or will you act when you fall in love?
Will you play it safe, or will you be a little bit swashbuckling?
When it’s tough, will you give up, or will you be relentless?
Will you be a cynic, or will you be a builder?
Will you be clever at the expense of others, or will you be kind?
I will hazard a prediction. When you are 80 years old, and in a quiet moment of reflection narrating for only yourself the most personal version of your life story, the telling that will be most compact and meaningful will be the series of choices you have made. In the end, we are our choices. Build yourself a great story.

Monday, October 9, 2017

HONK!

We stumbled upon this fantastic event over the weekend.   A completely eclectic mix of musicians performing in the streets for anyone and everyone to enjoy.   Toddlers danced, kids watched in awe, adults smiled.  For that moment there was only joy.

What is Honk?
Throughout the country and across the globe, a new type of street band movement is emerging — outrageous and inclusive, brass and brash, percussive and persuasive — reclaiming public space with a sound that is in your face and out of this world. Called everything from “avant-oompah!” to a “brassroots revolution,” these bands draw inspiration from sources as diverse as Klezmer, Balkan and Romani music, Brazilian Samba, Afrobeat and Highlife, Punk, Funk, and Hip Hop, as well as the New Orleans second line tradition, and deliver it with all the passion and spirit of Mardi Gras and Carnival.
Acoustic and mobile, these bands play at street level, usually for free, with no stages to elevate them above the crowd and no sound systems or speaker columns to separate performers from participants. These bands don’t just play for the people; they play among the people and invite them to join the fun. They are active, activist, and deeply engaged in their communities, at times alongside unions and grassroots groups in outright political protest, or in some form of community-building activity, routinely performing and conducting workshops for educational and social service organizations of all kinds.
At full power, these bands create an irresistible spectacle of creative movement and sonic self-expression directed at making the world a better place. This is the movement we call HONK!




Monday, October 2, 2017

Wake up

Wake up and say it's a great day to be alive.  In a world of mass shootings, bicycle accidents, car crashes and disease, we simply never know what life has coming.  I do know that I spent a weekend playing legos, soccer, doing races, art, tractor rides and cuddles with my sweet boy and for that, I am simply grateful.

Life can be a cruel teacher and a good friend.  And so it goes.  Onward always.  If the worst may happen, I can say my boy felt true love from his mama.  I slowed down to the pace that he wished to go and loved him as fiercely and bravely as I knew how to do.


Friday, September 29, 2017

Sunny days

There are grey days.  Inevitable.  Always.  They are as true as the sun rising and the tides changing.  But there are sunny days, too.   Days in which life is full of possibility and promise - where what you believe seems to be validated by people who's opinion matter to you.   Hope - always the antagonist of sadness.

James Altucher says if you try to get 1% better each day at your health, your relationships, your creativity and at turning despair into gratitude, then that 1% compounds into something pretty amazing.  I will never have all the answers but I can always improve.

Walking home from lunch in Davis.  A perfect early fall day, a proud work moment and a weekend on its way.  All is good.




Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Ray Dalio

Listened to his great interview with Tim Ferriss this week.   Lots of takeaways from this smart investor.

"Truth - more precisely, an accurate understanding of reality - is the essential foundation for producing good outcomes.”

“Above all else, I want you to think for yourself, to decide 1) what you want, 2) what is true and 3) what to do about it”

“View painful problems as potential improvements that are screaming at you. Though it won’t feel that way at first, each and every problem you encounter is an opportunity; for that reason, it is essential that you bring them to the surface. Most people don’t like to do this, especially if it exposes their own weaknesses or the weaknesses of someone they care about, but successful people know they have to. b. Don’t avoid confronting problems because they are rooted in harsh realities that are unpleasant to look at. Thinking about problems that are difficult to solve may make you anxious, but not thinking about them (and hence not dealing with them) should make you more anxious still. When a problem stems from your own lack of talent or skill, most people feel shame. Get over it. I cannot emphasize this enough: Acknowledging your weaknesses is not the same as surrendering to them. It’s the first step toward overcoming them. The pains you are feeling are “growing pains".

“Imagine that in order to have a great life you have to cross a dangerous jungle. You can stay safe where you are and have an ordinary life, or you can risk crossing the jungle to have a terrific life. How would you approach that choice? Take a moment to think about it because it is the sort of choice that, in one form or another, we all have to make.”

And this one, especially this one.    

“I also feared boredom and mediocrity much more than I feared failure. For me, great is better than terrible, and terrible is better than mediocre, because terrible at least gives life flavor. The high school yearbook quote my friends chose for me was from Thoreau: “If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away.”   

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Up

There's always another level up.
There's always another ascension.
More grace, more light, more generosity, more compassion.
More to shed.  More to grow. - Elizabeth Gilbert


Friday, September 22, 2017

Better

One of my favorite bloggers, Karen at Chookooonks, has lost everything (both cars were totaled, their home completely destroyed due to water, nearly all of their material possessions gone) as result of Hurricane Irma.   And yet she continues to write with such grace and steadiness.

I have so much admiration for people who can remain calm in the face of chaos.  It is an area that I will improve, must improve....  Inevitably, life will test us all in ways we can't imagine and in our response and reaction to those tests, we realize who we are.  

She concludes her post with a line from Former President Obama (how I miss him!) and says, "Ever forward.  And while it doesn't feel accurate to say that things are "good," things are definitely better.  And as Obama says, better is good.  In some cases, really good.


Thursday, September 21, 2017

True North

The compass rose is nothing but a star with an infinite number of rays pointing in all directions.
It is the one true and perfect symbol of the universe.
And it is the one most accurate symbol of you.
Spread your arms in an embrace, throw your head back, and prepare to receive and send coordinates of being. For, at last you know—you are the navigator, the captain, and the ship. - Vera Nazarian



Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Parenting with a thought from Glennon

Each of us must carefully decide what our job description as a parent will be.  Mine is to raise J into a courageous young man who can love and is loved.  He is confident and secure.  He has passions worth chasing and work ethic that will carry him through the storms.  He is curious and kind.  Respects his parents for the humans that they are - imperfect but always well-intentioned.  I hope he sets healthy boundaries with how the world treats him and how he treats the world.  I hope he travels and sees things very different than what he's ever known.   The job of a parent is complex.  I am a student and not a day passes that I don't wonder how I can do it better.

A thought from Glennon: 
I always feared that my babies’ pain was my failure.
But if learning to step into life’s struggle is my warrior journey, isn’t it theirs, too?
More than anything, I want my kids to grow to be a brave, kind, wise, resilient humans.
...
So what is it in a human life that creates bravery, kindness, wisdom, and resilience?
What if it’s pain? What if it’s the struggle?

The bravest people I know are those who’ve walked through the fire and come out on the other side. They are those who’ve overcome again and again - not those who’ve had nothing to overcome. They are the ones who no longer avoid the fires of life - because they have learned that they are fireproof.
What if we are trying to protect our kids from the one thing that will allow them to become the women and men we dream they’ll be?

Maybe our job as parents is not to protect our kids from pain, but to hold their hands and walk into their pain with them.

If we want to invite our children to be Love Warriors, we need to look at them and say: “I see your pain- it’s big and it’s real. But I see your courage, too - and it’s bigger and it’s more real. That fire won’t burn you up, baby, You’re fireproof."

Last night at bedtime you read to me (you know many of your books by heart).  Growing, growing, everyday!  

Monday, September 18, 2017

Belonging

In college, I filled most of my electives with sociology courses.  As an adult, I never get tired of Brene Brown and other sociologists.  I'm almost always reading something - currently Bowling Alone - previously One and Only, which blends psychology with human social tendencies.

A primary theory is Social Bond Theory.  Originated by a criminologist, Hirschi argued that social bonding in its four stages, attachment, commitment, involvement and belief, minimize the likelihood of deviant behavior.   Most research agrees that "belonging" is a primary human need.

In 2014, we moved to the suburbs.  A nice place with the promise of a wonderful childhood for J, easy living and space galore.  I was surprised to realize that it was not a fit for me.  I felt extremely isolated on my acre of land, simultaneously claustrophobic and alone at the end of my cul de sac, and uninterested in the child-centric lives most of my neighbors appeared to be living.   I began to daydream of moving to the city when J finished high school.  He was three.

Life didn't have to be this way.  Just because I purchased the home that we thought would make us happy, didn't mean I was obligated to it for the next 15 years.  A strong real estate market meant selling the house was fantastically doable.  In April 2017, I sold the house and moved to Cambridge.  The need for an intentional life was stronger than the fear that I might be wrong.

And here we are.  In a lovely community.  J has made, and continues to make, so many friends in the building.  I am reconfirmed of my decision every time a little neighbor pokes her head at our window and asks if Joe can play hide and seek before it's time to go to bed.  I am energized when I open the window and see people walking, jogging, and riding their bikes on the bike path behind our place.

This weekend I coordinated a BBQ for the residents of our building.  It was a fantastic turnout! Neighbors from the UK, France, Italy, Switzerland, China, and all over the US joined to break bread and watch the kids run around.  The kids played for hours just like I had dreamed, but never saw, in my previous suburban neighborhood.  For a moment, there was only clarity.  This was where I belonged.





Tuesday, September 12, 2017

My friend, NW

In 2011, I took my first trip to the Pacific Northwest.   The water, the mountains, the evergreens, the coffee and the people really spoke to me.  I felt relaxed and happy.  It was a fantastic trip with my old college roommate.

Last week I returned for 4 days with my childhood friends.   We focused the trip on Oregon - visiting wine country, the coast, Portland and Hood River.  We went white water rafting and drank plenty of good wine.  It was as great as the first time I visited.

Both trips made clear the great friendships I have in my life.  Similar to sisters, we have known each other for a long time.  We have also celebrated marriages, babies, new homes and promotions. We have gone through divorces, illness, difficult families, job changes and relocations together.    We move through life - its highs and lows - together. True friendship is unconditional and loyal. Supportive and energizing.   It gives and it takes, depending on the season or the need.

Cheers to my girls and to the Northwest, friends forever.



Wednesday, September 6, 2017

First Day

Off you go to your first day of Pre-K.   You're in a new school (St. Joseph's) and you were both nervous and excited.  Mama and Daddy brought you in, you had a new backpack, your first lunch from home and you found some friends and started playing cars right away.   You told us - bye mama, bye daddy.... and off you went.

Our happy boy!   You make us so proud - I don't have a doubt in the world that you'll do great!



Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Next Generation

We had our last day at Next Generation, Andover last week.   It was your first true school experience and you adapted really well!   You were shy in the beginning but we made sure you were in the same class with Emma, you were happy to see a familiar face.   In time, you warmed up and found a best friend in Max.   You two loved to play police on the bikes at recess and bristle blocks and legos during free time.

As the year continued, you got really comfortable with all of the kids.   Your teachers said it was a great class - I could feel that.  You all got along really well and mixed up who played with who.   You would introduce James and Robert to your Grammy when she picked you up...  you loved when you got assigned a "job" - lights, meal helper, line leader....   

You weren't sad to transition on to a new school. You tell me you're excited to start St. Joseph's. You have handled the changes this year so well.   I like to believe it's because the people in your life - me, your dad, Grammy & Papa, Tia Ane - are the rocks that ground you.  You never doubt how loved you are.  I admire your ability to be flexible and adaptable.  It is a gift that will always serve you well.  

Onward we go, little angel.  A new chapter awaits. 



Tuesday, August 22, 2017

On the water

For the first time ever, I've spent some time this summer sailing - cruising, as they call it.  With no previous experience, I'm reminded that we're never too old to try something new.  The sensation of being alone on the water truly frees you of the burdens of ordinary life.  Out there, you feel one million miles from home.  Entering a harbor by sea is completely different than entering by road, exploring a coastal town by foot, unscheduled and free, maybe you'll stop in a gallery, stumble upon a local theater, have a coffee, or a beer or just breath the salty air, inquire about the lives of lobsters, and sleep under the stars.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Towards clarity

"Don't surrender all your joy for an idea you used to have about yourself that isn't true anymore." - Cheryl Strayed. 

I may have posted this one before but it bears repeating.  My 30's have been a wonderful coming of age and period of improved self awareness and growing acceptance.  I often think of the line above. 

Trying, always, to get more clear.  


Monday, August 14, 2017

Grammy's birthday

 A picturesque weekend to celebrate Grammy's birthday.   J swam for hours and confirmed that Grammy is "his best friend".   The setting was spectacular, it was a weekend to be remembered for a long time.   Cliff House Maine.   






Thursday, August 10, 2017

Oprah at Harvard

Always a worthwhile read.  Commencement Address

I have to say that the single most important lesson I learned in 25 years talking every single day to people, was that there is a common denominator in our human experience. Most of us, I tell you we don’t want to be divided. What we want, the common denominator that I found in every single interview, is we want to be validated. We want to be understood. I have done over 35,000 interviews in my career and as soon as that camera shuts off everyone always turns to me and inevitably in their own way asks this question “Was that okay?” I heard it from President Bush, I heard it from President Obama. I’ve heard it from heroes and from housewives. I’ve heard it from victims and perpetrators of crimes. I even heard it from Beyonce and all of her Beyonceness. She finishes performing, hands me the microphone and says, “Was that okay?” Friends and family, yours, enemies, strangers in every argument in every encounter, every exchange I will tell you, they all want to know one thing: was that okay? Did you hear me? Do you see me? Did what I say mean anything to you? And even though this is a college where Facebook was born my hope is that you would try to go out and have more face-to-face conversations with people you may disagree with.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Proust Questionnaire 16-20

16. When and where were you happiest? 
I believe happiness is a state.  I have been fully, truly happy many times in my life. I describe it as complete. Wanting for nothing.  Present.  A few times that I will never forget (in no particular order): A side of the highway somewhere between Vancouver and Seattle.  A trip to Spain. NYC on my birthday weekend.  My backyard with J a few weeks ago.  They are moments in time of clarity and light.  I am with someone that I love. I am accepted as I am.  I am free. 

17. Which talent would you most like to have?
It would be nice to be an artist - to be able to express myself with paint, or photography or drawing.  

18. If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
I would be a better person if I had more patience, with myself and those around me. 

19.What do you consider your greatest achievement?
Bringing my son into this world and being his mama. 

20.If you were to die and come back as a person or a thing, what would it be?
A man.  I have no single doubt that they experience a very different world than a woman does.  It would be interesting to see their perspective.  

Monday, July 31, 2017

Weekend magic

A person will be called to account on Judgment Day for every permissible thing he might have enjoyed but did not. - The Talmud 



(Hull Bay, MA) 






Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Freedom welcome

"When you say or do anything to please, get, keep, influence, or control anyone or anything, fear is the cause and pain is the result"  Byron Katie


Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Together Rising

My admiration for Glennon, Brene, Elizabeth Gilbert etc. has never been a secret.  Therefore it's no surprise that Glennon's charitable organization, Together Rising, is doing such wonderful work.   I set up a (small) monthly recurring donation, basically the price of a lunch, to help her cause.  She does simple things - $100 gift cards for single moms at Valentine's Day, yes!!! and huge things - see their work with refugees here

They also have a great "Together Letters" program that lists people who need a little extra TLC in the form of a mailed letter.  Who can't do that?   I can....  and J can draw a pretty good picture and accompany me to the mailbox!  Little by little, step by step, bird by bird, dollar by dollar.....

"Justice is love in public" 


Monday, July 24, 2017

What we did

If I could hold these moments forever, I would.  I try so hard to hang on to them tight as I know they are fleeting yet magical.  You are growing up.  Transforming.  Becoming you right before my very eyes.  It is magnificent and magical.  I literally stopped myself many, many times this weekend with nothing but a grateful heart.

>  You are making lots of friends in our new neighborhood.  There's a 6 yr old girl who is sweet as can be.  You've really taken to her.  On Friday night you went to her door all by yourself and asked if she could come out and play.   My heart nearly burst.   Not just at your maturity but at your growing comfort level.... a long way from my shy boy.    ....happy ending: at first she said she had to stay in (it was after 7pm) but then said "Joe! my mom said I can play a little longer!!"   It was a Friday summer night - rules are meant to be bent.   :)

>  A full day at the beach.  5.5 hours!  You "surfed" on a boogie board, rolled in the waves, rafted with me in a tube, dug 50 holes and played great with friends, new and old.  It was Brooke's Grammy's beach house and I love that you know all these warm, loving, Grammies.

> Sunday, our day.  Relaxed.  Stayed in pj's and watched cartoons without much rushing.  Rode your tractor to Dunkin' Donuts like we do every weekend and then played outside, content as can be, for a few hours while mama read her book near by.   Like me, I think after a busy weekend of friends and socializing, you enjoy some time for yourself...  you talk, make up stories, sing a lot, and just enjoy some time to be an introvert.   There is nothing wrong with that and I'm grateful we have the type of schedule that you have time to cool down and re-energize.

It was just perfect.  Life is so good with you.

Can you come out and play? 
Beach day!

Dinner companion

Sunday donut



Thursday, July 20, 2017

Fear shift

“People will choose unhappiness over uncertainty.”  - Tim Ferriss

Fear is a disease plaguing modern day America.  Kids aren't taught to fail.  Life has become so comfortable that our addiction to achievement, people-pleasing, safety, correct-ness is making risk less and less palatable.  

FEAR:      //       Proposed shift in thinking: 

What if it doesn't go right? <friends and family will think I'm dumb> // what lessons will it teach me -- mistakes are great teachers.  

What if I get there and don't like it. <I have wasted time> // Isn't dreaming of things you'll never do equally (more) of a waste of time. 

What if I get hurt <I hate a bruised ego or broken heart> // Everyone does.  But it doesn't kill you nor does it stay broken/bruised forever. 

What if I am not strong enough to finish <I will realize I am weak> // You are weaker if you don't try. The person with the least strength is the one who doesn't try. 

What if I hate it once I start <Are dreams healthier in your head> // You can move on to a new dream that will be more fulfilling.  We are not gifted a finite number of dreams to dream per lifetime. 

What if I do it and it's everything I want it to be //   Bliss.  

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

True Grit

Action and consequence.  Every.single.time.   There is not another way regardless of how good looking you are, how much you make, how good your life is going.  Our choices make other choices unavailable.  Our actions produce consequences that we must endure.  and that's it.  there simply is no way around it.  Learn it at 10 years old, 20, 30, 40, 50, 60, 70 - the sooner, the better.

“You must pay for everything in this world one way and another. There is nothing free except the Grace of God. You cannot earn that or deserve it.” - Charles Portis

“We must each of us bear our own misfortunes.”   - Charles Portis

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Wild Geese

Was surprised I haven't posted this one before.  I think of it often.   Always resonates.

You do not have to be good. 
You do not have to walk on your knees 
for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting. 

You only have to let the soft animal of your body love what it loves. 
 Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine. 

Meanwhile the world goes on. Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain Are moving across the landscapes, over the prairies and the deep trees, the mountains and the rivers. 

Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air, are heading home again. Whoever you are, no matter how lonely, the world offers itself to your imagination, calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting— 
over and over announcing your place in the family of things.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Thoughts by Emerson


“There is a time in every man's education when he arrives at the conviction that envy is ignorance; that imitation is suicide; that he must take himself for better, for worse, as his portion; that though the wide universe is full of good, no kernel of nourishing corn can come to him but through his toil bestowed on that plot of ground which is given to him to till. The power which resides in him is new in nature, and none but he knows what that is which he can do, nor does he know until he has tried.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson


  

Saturday, July 15, 2017

On Prince

Trying to consolidate some goodness I have saved to my phone, social media etc. to this one space.

Love this, posted by Adrienne Maree Brown

Prince taught me how to be who i am still becoming.
he was every. single. thing.

Prince taught me to stretch between genders, and then beyond the binary of gend...er, in how i love and understand myself, in how i understand my desire, my holiness.

to embody raunch and devotion in equal measure.

to be unapologetically sexy, a small man or big woman, to induce desire and discomfort, taking the center of everyone’s attention with transparent seductions in a society that demonizes nature and the sensual world.

to be political and humane with my curiosity and my resources. to seek guidance and teachers and collaborators all around me.

to have diva-high standards, and to offer my opinion with a pursed lip and raised brow. to be shady as an art form.

to wear more eyeliner.

to love god and pleasure in the same breath, with the same song, with the same dance. to believe different things over time, but always claim myself as a child of the divine.

to be generous with time and support for those in my field who please me, to mentor and partner with and uplift talent.

to take the lower harmony sometimes, even if you can hit the upper range.

that it’s ok, in fact it’s my right, to be vulnerable and controversial and personal in the public realm and still have a private life.

to grace the world with the exquisite gift of a perfect falsetto whenever the moment calls for it.

and mostly to be different, to offer the world a joyful rejection of the normal, the appropriate, the mediocre.

Prince, from 'Way Back Home':
Most people in this world are born dead
But I was born alive
(I was born with this dream)
With a dream outside my head
That I could find my way back home
...
Lemme tell you about me
I'm happiest when I can see
My way back home
Can you see
My way back, my way back home

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Here we are, just as we are


"The ancient Greeks had a view of love which was essentially based around education, that's what love means - love is a benevolent process whereby two people try to teach each other how to become the best versions of themselves."  - Alain de botton

"Real intimacy is a meeting between two souls, an invitation to meet each other exactly where they are, without expectation or agenda.  It doesn't demand gifts and benefits, sexual prowess, conditional offerings.  It merely asks you to show up as you are, fully revealed and present.  It invites you to shed your masks, disguises and adaptations, and to drop into whatever is real for you in that moment. Real intimacy meets you where you live, not where you or anyone else wants you to live.  It's the big sigh of relief that arises when you finally know that you don't have to put on a show to feel accepted.  Here we are, just as we are.  Hello." - Jeff Brown

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Mind dump

"Your mind is not for storing ideas, but for having them" - David Allen.  

I recently started keeping a (no frills) task list via my Outlook.  I write down things I need to do or use it to bookmark interesting places to see, activities to do.  I've found it helpful in freeing some mental energy and also satisfying when I cross something off.    

Monday, July 10, 2017

Back from vacation

I want to capture this fresh from vacation bliss I am experiencing right now.  Coming back from almost 10 days off, more time than I can recently remember.  It was perfect - we went to Maine with friends --- and ate junk food, went to the beach, played cards, lounged around.  J got his first lego set, we did some baking, we took lots of tractor rides on the bike path.  There were bookstores and marinas and first times.

Yesterday we listened to the Beach Boys on Pandora --- a station filled with old fashioned good time summer music.  We danced in the living room and I felt light. Free. Happy.   It hasn't been the easiest year but I made it to the other side and have more confidence in myself than I have at any other time in my life.  I am proud of where I am today and that feels good and complete.

And a few favorite lines from J to honor the sweetness that is four and a half:

"My Grammy is picking me up on Monday from school." - to his friend in our building.  She didn't care too much.  I love overhearing what he says to his friends.  No filter, just stream of consciousness.  What he's looking forward to, what's on his mind....

"It's ok if you don't want to be my friend.  I have lots of friends.  Like, Max, Emma, Brooke, Noah, Nate....(and the name of nearly every kid in his pre-school class)"   Joe sticking up for himself when one (presumably tired) little girl at the playground said she wasn't his friend.  <no bullying here!>

"I didn't know Papa used to be a king and Grammy was a queen" (when I showed him my parents wedding photo)

"At the yellow house I didn't have colored sprinkles, or the zoo game, or a friend like Ophelia" -- priorities.




Tuesday, June 27, 2017

The Handmaid's Tale

Last week I finished Margaret Atwood's Handmaid's Tale.  It haunted me for days after I finished it and was such a good read.   It's not a book that I would normally be drawn to - set in a futuristic world run by Evangelicals but it really expanded my thoughts and left the reader with many, many things to think about.

In addition to the provocative story line, Margaret Atwood's writing was just beautiful.  A few lines just stopped me cold.  Her writing was succinct and powerful and a pleasure to read.  It was a book that made me a better person for having read it.  You don't come across one of those every day. 

 "I admired my mother in some ways, although things between us were never easy. She expected too much from me, I felt.  She expected me to vindicate her life for her, and the choices she'd made. I didn't want to live my life on her terms. I didn't want to be the model offspring, the incarnation of her ideas. We used to fight about that. I am not your justification for existence, I once said to her once.  I want her back, I want everything back, the way it was. But there is no point to it, this wanting." 

“They wore blouses with buttons down the front that suggested the possibilities of the word undone. These women could be undone; or not. They seemed to be able to choose. ” 

“We lived, as usual by ignoring. Ignoring isn't the same as ignorance, you have to work at it.” 

“Better never means better for everyone... It always means worse, for some.”


Thursday, June 22, 2017

Grammy

Every Wednesday, since J has been 3 months old, has been spent with his Grammy.  What a gift that routine has been...   My mom was a 3rd grade teacher before having kids and then a stay at home mom raising her own three.  I commend her for raising independent, strong, professional career women despite that route not appealing to her very much.

At 70 years old, she is all creativity and play.   Yesterday I got a text from her telling me that they spent 4 hours at the pool and then came home and "found monsters" in her neighborhood and made them invisible with squirt guns.  ...and rode his jeep ....and had a picnic.  Of course.

Joseph lights up when he sees her and cries when its time to go.  She is pure love and joy and fun in his eyes.  There is always a game - mechanic Grammy and mechanic Joe was happening last week while they "fixed" his toy cars.  Or a car wash, a bicycle wash, an adventure.... a simple, old school, adventure.  A pause of gratitude for her patience, creativity and love of my little boy, her grandson. Their love is electric.


Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Cup of Choices

My little guy has a new saying, "Mama, I'm going to give you a cup of choices."  He thinks he's got it right, doesn't realize it's "a couple of choices"... but it's too sweet to correct him.

Choices...   One of the most important lessons I learned.  We choose how we respond.  We choose how we rebuild.  We choose to make decisions and live with their consequences.  We choose to be better.  We choose to learn.  We choose to push ourselves beyond what's easy or comfortable.

Seth Godin says:
"Do what I say" vs.
    "Use your best judgment."
"I'm in charge because I have authority" vs.
    "Take responsibility if you care."
"It's simple and easy but ineffective" vs.
    "It's difficult and a bit complex, but you can handle it and it's more likely to work."
"It's the same as last time" vs.
    "This might not work."
"Because I said so" vs.
    "Show your work."
"Here's the kid's menu" vs.
    "Learn to cook."
"Comply" vs.
    "Question."
"Consume" vs.
    "Produce."
"You haven't been picked" vs.
    "It's always your turn."
"You have no choice" vs.
    "It's always up to you, if you care enough."

We always have a cup of choices.    Thanks J for reminding me.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Summer delights

> Garden fresh tomatoes
> Kayaking
> Farmers markets
> Card games
> Beach trips with my boy
> Road trips
> Puzzles
> Ferry Ride
> New places


Monday, June 19, 2017

A muscle

Writing is a muscle, creativity is a muscle, the body is comprised of muscles.  What a gift that we have the opportunity to make them stronger.

What I was into this weekend:
1. James Altucher
2. My bike
3. Venezuelan hammock
4. Roasted veggies - always
5. Interviews




(source) Canadian Rocky Rail Trip....

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Hatch

What if seeds didn't have to break through the ground.  Or baby birds to crack open an egg.  Would they be strong enough to survive?

Are we better for our struggles?  Are we stronger, more compassionate, more resilient because of them.  Would you trade them for a more simple path or are the very things that nearly break us the same things that set us free.  

“Adversity is a natural part of being human. It is the height of arrogance to prescribe a moral code or health regime or spiritual practice as an amulet to keep things from falling apart. Things do fall apart. It is in their nature to do so. When we try to protect ourselves from the inevitability of change, we are not listening to the soul. We are listening to our fear of life and death, our lack of faith, our smaller ego's will to prevail. To listen to your soul is to stop fighting with life--to stop fighting when things fall apart; when they don't go our away, when we get sick, when we are betrayed or mistreated or misunderstood. To listen to the soul is to slow down, to feel deeply, to see ourselves clearly, to surrender to discomfort and uncertainty and to wait.” - Elizabeth Lesser  

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Proust Questionnaire 6-15

Making my way through:

6.__What is your greatest extravagance?  A really good and expensive dinner. No regrets. 
__7.__What is your current state of mind?   Closure of something that was real and true and over. 
__8.__What do you consider the most overrated virtue?  Nobility. 
__9.__On what occasion do you lie?   To protect the person asking for the truth. 
__10.__What do you most dislike about your appearance? Fair skin in the summertime. 
__11.__Which living person do you most despise? Waste of my time.... I don't like people who hurt me and are disloyal.  But I don't spend time or energy despising.
__12.__What is the quality you most like in a man?  Self-awareness, courage, intelligence. 
__13.__What is the quality you most like in a woman? Self-awareness, courage, intelligence. 
__14.__Which words or phrases do you most overuse?  ?
__15.__What or who is the greatest love of your life?   Joseph Cassidy Campos 

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Divine Dance

Did you ever imagine that what we call "vulnerability" might just be the key to ongoing growth?  In my experience, healthily vulnerable people use every occasion to expand, change and grow.  Yet it is a risky position to live undefended, in a kind of constant openness to the other - because it means other could sometimes wound us.  Indeed, vulnera comes from the Latin "to wound".  But only if we take this risk do we also allow the opposite possibility: the other might also gift us, free us, and even love us.   .....this then seems to be the work of the Spirit: to keep you vulnerable to life and love itself and to resist all that destroys the Life Flow."  - Father Richard Rohr and Mike Morrell

Thursday, June 8, 2017

June 8, 2017

"He is my truest mirror, my honest reflection, my most profound joy, the subject of my deepest fears.  My child connects me to the most primal parts of myself.  I well up with his tears, I cringe with his pain, brighten with his smile, suffer with his disappointments... In grace. In innocence. In gratitude.  With you, I am finally me. - Gabrielle Roth


Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Bourdain

It isn't always pretty.  It isn't always comfortable.  Sometimes it hurts, it even breaks your heart.  But that's okay.  The journey changes you; it should change you.  It leaves marks on your memory, on your consciousness, on your heart and on your body.  You take something with you.   Hopefully you leave something behind.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Brene - on kids growing up

Ellen graduated from high school this past weekend. It was beautiful and hard.

Emotions are complex things. I’ve been studying the relationship between thought, behavior, and emotions for close to two decades, and I learned something new on Saturday morning.

There’s a combination of joy and grief that can take your breath away. The sum of those two parts wells up inside you and holds your breath hostage until you let go of the notion that you can control the paradox and choose between joy and grief.

Your breath returns only when you submit to the reality that you are caught in the grips of both delight and sorrow. Both are strong. Both are true.

In many ways, the etymology of the word “paradox” captures the heart of what it means to love. From its Greek origins, it’s the joining of two words para (contrary to) and dokein (opinion). The Latin paradoxum means “seemingly absurd but really true.”

That’s how parenting has always felt to me - unbelievably true.

I’ve shared as many life lessons as I could with Ellen, AND she has always been my teacher. I’ve tried to model our family belief that it’s okay to be brave and afraid at the same time, AND our children have always been the best example of what this looks like.

We have a sign by our back door that reads, “We can do hard things.” We hung it there to remind the kids that hard work, tough conversation, and emotional pain are normal and important parts of life. AND, it’s Ellen who often whispers the saying in my ear when I doubt myself.

Sometimes she’s afraid to leave for college in the fall, and I assure her that she’s ready. Sometimes I’m fighting back tears, and she’ll say, “I’m ready. It’s going to be okay.” Sometimes we cheer together. And sometimes we hold each other and weep.

Now the toughest paradox of love – letting go and holding on.

Ellen, it’s time for you to fly. It’s one of the biggest scary-and-brave moments, but don’t worry – we’ll be holding on tight. Not always to each other, but to love, courage, faith, gratitude, and strength. All of the things you’ll need in the world. AND all of the things you already have.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Proust Questionnaire

35 questions made popular by Marcel Proust, I will use them as writing prompts.  Little by little...

_1.__What is your idea of perfect happiness?   New York City, January.  State of bliss.  There was art, charm, food, romance, adventure, mystery, love, connection, completeness and a little bit of snow.

__2.__What is your greatest fear? I dislike heights.  Emotional fear of loneliness, which I think is a basic human fear, but that is getting better.  

__3.__What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?   Lack of patience. 

__4.__What is the trait you most deplore in others?  Falsehood. 

__5.__Which living person do you most admire?  The nameless people you see featured in an occasional episode of tv that foster children with disabilities or other selfless acts with no recognition and very little resources. 

Friday, May 12, 2017

Craig's List

"By monetizing Craigslist the way I did in 1999, I probably gave away already 90% or more of my potential net worth," Newmark said in a recent interview with the Nieman Journalism Lab. "The rationale is that if you’re a small businessman trying to put food on the table, I’d like you to keep the 100 bucks or whatever for a classified rather than me taking it and maybe giving back someday a buck." - Craig Newmark

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Joe Kennedy III

A great response to the Trump administration's health care proposal from Joe Kennedy III:

It is among the most basic human truths: Every one of us, some day, will be brought to our knees.  By a diagnosis we didn't expect, a phone call we can't imagine, or a loss we cannot endure.  That common humanity inspires our mercy.  It fortifies our compassion. It drives us to look out for the sick, the elderly, the poor and the most vulnerable among us.
Yesterday's bill --- yesterday's devastating bill --- does the opposite.  The bill is more than premiums and tax cuts.  It is a cold and calculated world view: One that scapegoats the struggling, and sees fault in suffering.  One dead set on dividing us based on who we love, where we come from, the direction of our faith and the size of our fortunes.  We see it in their tax plan, their budget cuts, their immigration policy, their civil rights assaults and yesterday, in their cruel health care plan.  We must reject it.  We must decide, instead, to take care of each other -- because, but for the grace of God, we will all one day wake up in need of a little mercy.  This nation's character has never been defined by the power we give the already strong -- but by the strength we give the weak.

Monday, May 8, 2017

What you're doing

You are 4.5 and what a joy.  You have transitioned without issue to our move to "the city".  You like to tell me, "mama, the yellow house was too big".  I hope that you mean it.  I hope that you feel how much happier and lighter the new place is and that you are happy there, too.  I hope that you grow up and realize that it's ok to start again.  It's ok to say, my intentions were good but that doesn't work for me.  It is a balance and for sure we don't always get it right, but we try.  We live.

You love to laugh.  We giggle all weekend.  You like tickle fights and Candyland (you are always the red guy!) and Maroon 5's Don't Want to Know song.  You are great at puzzles, I admire your focus and ability to stick with it even when it's a hard one.  Then you smile, proud, when you're done.

I call you my angel and have no doubt that you are.  You are my gift and my perfect boy.  My anchor, my mirror, my rock.  I love to watch you grow.  I still like to hold your little hand.  Grateful that it is soft and small and fits in mine.  I have no doubt that you feel my love.  I hope that it always gives you strength and confidence.
You still love the farm, the pig is your favorite animal and red is your favorite color. 

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Glennon

Two lines from Glennon Doyle Melton, worth sharing and saving.

It hurts and it's painful but then there's a waiting when you don't know what the hell's going on, and you don't think ay of its gonna make sense, and then there's the rising.   That's the pattern always.  But you have to stick around if you wanna see the rising.  You gotta freaking stick around through the pain and through the waiting.  Cause if you leave you don't see it. 

When her pain is fresh and new, let her have it.  Don't try to take it away.  Forgive yourself for not having that power.  Grief and pain are like joy and peace; they are not things we should try to snatch from each other.  They're sacred.  They are part of each person's journey.  All we can do is offer relief from this fear: I am all alone.  That's the one fear you can alleviate. 

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Gender Bias - employee reviews

A fascinating, sad and true article.  http://fortune.com/2014/08/26/performance-review-gender-bias/

Some highlights:
He had two people he wanted to promote that year, but he was worried that his peers were only going to endorse one of them. “Jessica is really talented,” he said. “But I wish she’d be less abrasive. She comes on too strong.” Her male counterpart? “Steve is an easy case,” he went on. “Smart and great to work with. He needs to learn to be a little more patient, but who doesn’t?”

In all, I collected 248 reviews from 180 people, 105 men and 75 women. The reviews come from 28 different companies and include large technology corporations, mid-size companies, and smaller environments. I didn’t see any impact of company size in the results, nor did I discover patterns unique to any individual company.

Negative personality criticism—watch your tone! step back! stop being so judgmental!—shows up twice in the 83 critical reviews received by men. It shows up in 71 of the 94 critical reviews received by women.

There’s a common perception that women in technology endure personality feedback that their male peers just don’t receive. Words like bossy, abrasive, strident, and aggressive are used to describe women’s behaviors when they lead; words like emotional and irrational describe their behaviors when they object. All of these words show up at least twice in the women’s review text I reviewed, some much more often. Abrasive alone is used 17 times to describe 13 different women. Among these words, only aggressive shows up in men’s reviews at all. It shows up three times, twice with an exhortation to be more of it.