Friday, June 14, 2013

Friday, April 19, 2013

4.19.13 Friday Inspiraton

Don’t crack up / bend your brain / see both sides / throw off your mental chains.  1984 looks just like I remember.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

4.7.13 Damn Right I Support It

Someone recently told me if there was such a thing as fantasy leagues for relationships they’d want me on their team.  The breadth of my experience in this department has been wide.  In 25 years I’ve been in six serious relationships.  Two of them ended because another woman came along. Two others ended because we didn’t really love each other.  I’ve been engaged twice.  With the first one, we got married… and then divorced which was sad and has taken years to get over.  The second engagement ended when our connection with each other faded – I loved him though, wanted to work it out and spend the rest of our lives together as we’d planned, but he suddenly “didn’t have time” and stopped talking to me as if he’d never loved me or proposed to me.
I look back on these relationships with fondness.  There’s also a lot of humor and irreverence in the memories they offer.  What felt sad and tragic to me when each of them ended, now seems like folly.  I was younger, naïve, foolish but mostly I was hopelessly romantic.  In the grander scheme of what happens to us in a lifetime, these experiences are silly by comparison.
What if you can’t look at your love life and see it as silly though?  What if you are in a serious, committed relationship with someone and it garners consternation from strangers?  What if you find yourself having feelings for someone and they feel the same way towards you but your friends, family, and your church tell you that you are wrong?  What if your relationship put your life in danger?
As marriage equality gets more attention, these questions pop up.  It’s hard enough finding that person you connect with in life – the person you actually want to spend every day of the rest of your life with.  Knowing what you want and then finding someone you trust wholeheartedly with that, and having them love and trust you back is rare.  If you’re lucky enough to find it, it can be fleeting and change without warning.  Even if you stay together and make it work through the difficult times, you will both be tested.  You will have disagreements and conflicts with each other. At times you will hurt each other.  You will have to apologize to and forgive each other.  One of you may get seriously ill and need to be taken care of.  Most certainly one of you will have to deal with the other’s death and all the loss and grieving that brings.  Even when love for and from the right person happens, it is difficult.
The issue of same-sex marriage isn’t about making choices or figuring out your sexual orientation.  It’s bigger than that.  This issue is about equality.  Hasn’t history the world over taught us that any time you deny a person their basic human rights it will come back to bite you in the ass?  And it’s about love.  Human beings have a basic need to be happy.  Happiness is a force that gives our lives meaning and purpose.  Happiness is shared experiences with the people you love who love you back.  The point I’m making is that finding your love is hard enough.  Staying together and making it work is even harder.  I can’t imagine what it would be like if the world at large told you that you can’t love the person you’ve been fortunate enough to find.  What right do we have to deny anyone their basic need, and the freedom, to be loved?

Friday, April 5, 2013

Saturday, March 30, 2013

3.30.13 Thank You for Tweeting

Every day I spend a few minutes scanning my LinkedIn and Twitter feeds looking for interesting stuff.  I usually find at least one or two articles a day that are useful.  There are a handful of people who post stuff that catches my eye more than anyone else – mainly because their posts are witty, they write well, or they link to things I care about.  At least once a week there’s an article that I stumble on this way, and it teaches me something, or it makes me think about something in a new way, and I’ll keep coming back to it.  If I continue thinking about it enough, inspiration to write about it happens and it ends up here on this blog.

This very thing happened again last week as I was scrolling through my Twitter feed one night and a blogger I admire mentioned an article, 22 Things Happy People Do Differently.  I read the article and liked it so I re-tweeted it.  And then I read the article again.  It made me smile and it made happy.  Two days later and I’m still happy.  I don’t know why.  Maybe it just came up at exactly the right time in the right place.  Maybe it reminded me of some things I’ve been forgetting lately.  Maybe it was the first time I’ve ever seen a list that long with tips for making yourself happy.  As I was reading it made me think of people in my life who do the things it listed, and what they’ve meant to me.  It made me stop and think about how I could stand to do a few of the things listed more often.
Whatever it was, I’m glad I read it.  And I’m glad this person tweeted it.  Information is power.  By sharing information, you can change a person’s life (even if it’s just for a moment).  Social media can be a good thing. 

Friday, March 22, 2013

3.22.13 You Really Don't Have Time?

How often do you feel like there aren’t enough hours in the day?  Much is written about how our lives become unmanageable when we make more commitments than we can handle.  Mobile phones keep us constantly connected to information, conversations, requests – all of which happen simultaneously and in random order.  Many different things compete for our attention at any given moment and we’re forced to do it all, but we can’t do it all at once, so we prioritize and make compromises.  Often we just ignore things, or worse yet, say we’ll do something that we never end up doing.

An article posted today on Inc. by Jessica Stillman caught my eye because of the title Never Say ‘I Don’t Have Time’ Again.  The reason the words ‘I Don’t Have Time’ made me do a double take is a story for another time, but when I saw this today it was during a moment at work when I’d been thinking about how often I’ve been saying that to myself (and, yikes, other people) lately.  The article suggests that maybe we aren’t being truly honest about what we do with our time each day.  Not because we lie, but more because we may not really be paying attention. 

Another author mentioned wrote an article on the same subject last year that suggested being "busy" and "starved for time" is a way to show we matter - it makes us feel important.  If you want to get out of this trap and replace your competitive, narcissistic bullshit with kinder, more meaningful reality, a radical recommendation is to change your language:

Instead of saying "I don't have time" try saying "it's not a priority," and see how that feels. Often, that's a perfectly adequate explanation. I have time to iron my sheets, I just don't want to. But other things are harder. Try it: "I'm not going to edit your résumé, sweetie, because it's not a priority." "I don't go to the doctor because my health is not a priority." If these phrases don't sit well, that's the point. Changing our language reminds us that time is a choice. If we don't like how we're spending an hour, we can choose differently.

As deadlines pile up at work and at home, maybe we can make ourselves less crazed if we think more critically about our priorities.  Maybe first we should write down what our priorities are to make sure we aren’t forgetting what really matters.  Reality and meaning always win.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

3.13.13 Charmed, I'm Sure

What do you desire?  Many of us feel very thankful to have lives that afford us the luxury of asking ourselves this question.  And finding the answer.  If we figure out what we want and we fail to achieve it, we get to try all over again.  If we don't know what we desire, we get to try just the same.  It's complex.  Challenging.  Painful at times.  It's so much harder than it seems.  We get such a short time to do all the asking, searching, and trying.  That also makes it beautiful.

If you know what you want, go for it.  Money.  Business.  Art.  Music.  Love.  Family.  Solitude.  Whatever it is, it's all good.  Just remember to be gentle with yourself.  Check in with the people around you and take time to be nice to them.  We're all searching.  Love is patient and kind.  We should all be that way too.

Note: This video was posted by a friend of mine on Facebook yesterday.  The person speaking is the British philosopher, Alan Watts.

Monday, March 11, 2013

3.11.13 Gimme Macklemore


If you haven't seen the NPR Music Tiny Desk Concert with Macklemore & Ryan Lewis you are missing out!  Not only is this dude talented, but he's using his 15 minutes to say something meaningful, or fun, or both.  I will always love hip hop and rap but this guy isn't talking about sex, booze, drugs, thugs, or bitches and he's killing it.  Eminem's Till I Collapse used to be my anthem for working up the determination to do what needed to be done.  But now I dare you to crank up Macklemore's Can't Hold Us and not get up and do something awesome.  The Heist indeed.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

3.10.13 Flirting with Faith

I’m not a religious person but I do believe having some kind of spirituality in life is extremely helpful.  Trusting in a power greater than ourselves for energy, wisdom, and guidance gives us the strength to set goals, make changes, and move forward.  This is true in good times, but it becomes especially helpful when we are dealing with difficulties.  Faith is believing in something greater, and trusting that things will change for the better if we are open to it.

There was a recent article in Forbes where Erika Andersen writes about The Secret to Getting Really, Really Good at Something.  It ends by making the point that “the main element that allows us to master anything is a core belief in our own capability.  And “lacking belief in oneself is by far the greatest impediment to success.  So the key to mastery lies in our assumptions about ourselves and the process.  If you want to get really great at something, be realistic about what it will require – and have faith in your own ability.”  There’s that word again, faith.

A lot of big changes started in my life six months ago.  Change is hard.  Over the years I’ve learned that I can do just about anything, but when I start in on something new (or difficult) my first reaction is to doubt my ability to get it done, or get it done well.  I have lacked faith in my own abilities so many times and I’m getting tired of that.  Why not just have complete trust in my feelings, decisions, and actions and also trust that those things will always lead me to where I’m supposed to be?  In those moments when I believe in myself, really good things happen.  Starting now I’m just going to believe more often and see where it takes me.

Note: I was hoping to wrap up my thoughts on this by inserting a nice quote about faith or higher power, but they were all a little too religious.  Then I thought I’d add George Michael’s Faith, but have you watched that video since 1988?  Better to include that in a future blog post on ‘irony’.

Friday, March 1, 2013

3.1.13 Friday Inspiration

I love blue-eyed white guys with soul.  And rocking chairs from Cracker Barrel.

Monday, February 25, 2013

2.25.13 Chinese Chicken Salad

One of my favorite comfort foods is Chinese chicken salad.  There used to be a great Chinese restaurant in Palo Alto, CA called Ming's that was famous for its chicken salad.  The restaurant is still there today but the owners have changed, time has marched on, and it's not the same.  The salad was crunchy with lots of iceberg lettuce, cilantro and the dressing had a kick from spicy dry mustard.  You can find recipes online that come close. 

Last month I was at the grocery store and had a craving for it so I improvised.  It turned out really good, and I'm guessing a little healthier because there wasn't anything fried in it.  Let me know what you think if you try it.

Chinese Chicken Salad (serves 1)

Few handfuls mixed greens
Chopped cilantro
Chopped green onion
Grated carrots
Chopped rotisserie chicken
Sesame seeds

1tbsp olive oil
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon maple syrup
1 teaspoon sherry vinegar
Black pepper
Pinch of salt
Pinch of Coleman's dry mustard

Add all the dressing ingredients to an empty jam or jelly jar.  Put the lid on and shake it up well.

Put all the salad ingredients in a large bowl.  Pour on as much dressing as you like and toss well.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

2.23.13 Walking with a Ghost

This week I went to see the documentary The Gatekeepers.  It’s about Israel’s secret service, the Shin Bet, and features candid interviews with six former agency leaders.  Visually there’s some cool stuff with computer-animated photographs from actual events that make it look like live video.  But this film is almost entirely spent with just these guys in front of the camera answering questions.  It’s no frills but completely engrossing and deeply disturbing in its unflinching focus, honesty, and revelations.
Politically and historically this is interesting subject matter.  More than that, it’s reassuring to see these men, who once held positions of extreme power to capture, torture, and execute terrorists, grapple with the gravity of these decisions years later.  Situations that at the time were black and white, in memories, are now frustrating shades of gray.  Operations that were considered successful are now as painful and senseless as the failures. It also reinforces the idea that peace in this region is hopelessly complicated, confusing, and no matter how close resolution has been in the past, a satisfactory end goal is utterly elusive.  Seems the intent is also a subtle attempt at giving America the opportunity to learn from a country that’s been involved in the war on terror for much longer – and wake up people there is no silver lining.
Three things are made very clear in this documentary:
  • When you go to war without a clearly defined end goal, it probably won’t end.
  • In conflict, talking is better than not talking.
  • People’s convictions can change – for better, and just as easily, for worse.
At a much higher level it’s impossible to see this documentary and not notice how it’s also saying something about basic disagreements that exist between people.  The three ideas above are true in any relationship.  We’ve heard all this stuff before and history has provided countless painful examples.  Yet why do we forget and repeatedly react in haste, and make the same mistakes?

Friday, February 22, 2013

2.22.13 Friday Inspiration

It's been a long week, but totally worth it.  Feels a little something like:

This is ten percent luck, twenty percent skill
Fifteen percent concentrated power of will
Five percent pleasure, fifty percent pain
And a hundred percent reason to remember the name.

Word.  Happy Friday, people!

Sunday, February 17, 2013

2.17.13 Excelsior

Last weekend I saw Silver Linings Playbook.  I’m a huge movie fan so this probably won’t be the first time I write about them here. The same way I haven’t figured out what this blog is accomplishing, I’m also not sure what I want to say if I feel inspired to write about a movie.  Here goes.

I’ve seen this movie twice now and here’s why I think it’s awesome.  It isn’t the best movie ever, but I really liked what it was trying to say.  And it said it in a way that was easy to understand, but also completely nailed it.  So I’m going to write that down because I want to remember (and read later for when I need a reminder).

This movie gets described as romantic and Bradley Cooper’s in it.  Those two things were nice but they so don’t deserve the most attention.  Instead this movie very effectively dealt with a couple ideas that I’ve been struggling with lately.  The first idea has something to do with family.  And the second is about life.

The family in this movie is dysfunctional, and at first, kind of repulsive.  They yell, argue, don’t listen to each other, and at times they lose it and get physically violent.  It’s tough love all the way and then you learn the father and the son each have their own personal demons  – dad has OCD and the son is undiagnosed bi-polar.  At first it seems like this is going to be painful to watch because these people just don’t connect with each other.  But then you spend more time with them and you realize it’s a story about a family that though quirky, really loves each other, supports each other, and the whole of it is actually something so much better than just the sum of all its individual members.  When I grow up and have a family of my own I want it to have those qualities.

The second idea is where the title and the main plot come from.   It’s about owning up to your mistakes, moving on, learning to accept yourself, and along the way finding grace and redemption where you least expect it. Recently I was reading something by Melody Beattie where she writes about how our lives come into harmony with a Grand Plan when we accept that we aren’t a mistake, and we are open to whatever life presents us with.  That if we can understand what we need to do to take care of ourselves and trust our instincts, “we will learn a great truth: the plan will happen in spite of us, not because of us.”

Keep aiming ever upwards and everything you’re looking for is actually right there.  It’s nothing we haven’t heard before, but life gets messy and it’s easy to forget how simple that is.  If you need a reminder, go see this movie.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

2.14.13 Today, One Year Later

Valentine's day used to be just another day for me.  No different than any other day.  I didn't hate it or love it, it just was.  Then four years ago I was going through a divorce and it decided it no longer wanted to be ignored.  I was alone and single for the first time in twelve years, and every where I went that day people said 'happy valentine's day' and it pissed me off to no end.  It hurt each time I heard that or saw a happy couple.  After some time passed I laughed at myself for getting so mad.  Valentine's day the next year didn't go unnoticed, but it didn't feel as bad.  So for three years I noted its existence, used the day as an excuse to be thankful for all the love in my life, and move on. 

Today I'm single again, and I'm going to spend it noting all the people I've loved, love now, and will love in the future.  But I also have a ton of great memories from last year that deserve attention.  On this day last year I was in love with someone who was very important to me.  He put a lot of effort into making that Valentine's day one of the best days I've ever had.  Our relationship is over now, but even though that has been painful, I can remember all the good times (and there were a lot of them).  I have nothing but smiles and love as I think of the time we spent together. 

Even if you don't have a boyfriend, husband, or significant other on Valentine's day it's the perfect day to think the people you love - regardless of whether or not they are still in your life.   

Friday, February 8, 2013

2.8.13 Friday Inspiration

The past couple weeks have been hard.  Nothing I can't get through.  Just facing some difficult situations and feeling all emotional about it..."girl stuff".  But it's Friday and I made it through another week.  Just knowing the weekend - and spending time with friends - is only hours away makes me feel a little better.  And so does starting off today reminding myself not to rain on my own parade.  Happy Friday y'all!

Monday, January 21, 2013

1.21.13 Where It All Began

This is a photo of my grandmother taken in Texas sometime around 1940.