Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Om Shanti - Peace and all good for 2009

I tend to collect phrases that inspire me or reveal some truth to me or help me along my life's journey. Some I collect in a bound book, jotting down a phrase or a writing that I want to be able to reference again later. Others find their way onto the chalkboard closet doors in my office where I can see them each day and be reminded. Scraps of paper on my desktop or in my purse capture phrases, too, for those moments when the book or the chalkboards aren't handy.

Zen Habits and The Happiness Project have posts about writing your personal commandments. Mine aren't exactly commandments; maybe more like reminders or philosophies I want to reflect on. They're ever-changing, ever-evolving, so I can't really write a definitive list of personal commandments. For instance, like most people, I'm constantly striving for self-improvement: learning greater patience, practicing detachment and simplicity, slowing down, living in the moment and being fully present. I make progress, often slowly, but I keep learning and refining the lessons.

Some random thoughts/guidelines for my personal reflection as we ease into 2009:


Live in Harmony ... with others, with the earth, with nature, within myself

Move with the rhythm; let it flow

Practice ahimsa/non-violence - in thought and deed. No evil thoughts, no anger against others; learning gentleness and forgiveness. Avoid anything that's destructive instead of nurturing and gentle. Think Kwai Chang Caine (King Fu)

See the Divine in all things.

Be comfortable with the chaos.

Practice aparigraha/non-attachment - letting go, releasing, non-clinging, without fear of loss or change. "...the yogi makes his life as simple as possible and trains his mind not to feel the loss or the lack of anything. Then everything he really needs will come to him by itself at the proper time." (B.K.S. Iyengar) Also Matthew 6:25-34.

Worrying about tomorrow squanders the joy of today. Don't give energy to anything that you don't want to manifest in your life.

Be a better friend.

Remember that the world sparkles and dances with the Light of the Divine. We all carry that Light within.

Live simply. Give more. Expect less.

Have a sense of wonder! Be ready to be surprised.

Laugh more; don't take it all so seriously.

Live and dance to your own music. Sparkle. Spin with your arms wide open. Embrace all the love in the world.

Happiness is a choice in attitude; it does not require things or others.

Receive what you have been given.

Be fully present to now. The next thing will happen when it happens. (The next thing always happens.)

I do not have a soul; I have a body. My soul is forever, my body only temporary. This is important to remember.

Learn to hold loosely all that is not eternal. - Agnes Royden

Know that you are totally and fully loved. The energy of love is already manifested by anyone who has ever loved you, anyone who loves you now and anyone who will ever love you.

May your new year be filled with peace, prosperity and abundance in all things. Enjoy them fully with acceptance and love.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

joy of giving ...

"When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold and of incense and of myrrh."- Matthew 2:10-11

A gift is something freely given.
A gift is not an obligation, a requirement that must be fulfilled.

Isn't Christmas an exciting time? I love all the sparkle and glow everywhere, the energy that grows as we get closer and closer. For me, the most exiting and fun part is picking out gifts!

I get a little giddily excited when I'm in "shopping mode," trying to pick out that something special that each person will enjoy. Each gift is carefully chosen, whether it's clothing ... electronics ... or a gift card (selecting one that you're certain the giftee will appreciate and can actually use). I imagine how the giftee will like the gift chosen for them alone (in my fantasies, I've always chosen a great gift - lol!) ... the smile of anticipation crossing a face ... the lift of the eyebrows as he or she opens and sees the gift.

It's a double whammy on the fun scale: first is the fun in picking out the gift, and second is the fun in seeing the happy reactions. There is no expectation for the other person to reciprocate; that would take all the fun out of the giving for me. If they want to give a gift, then give it, freely and from the heart. But no expectations. If it's merely an exchange, then it's not really a gift. There is a special grace in giving.

A favorite Christmas memory: When we were kids, I remember my brother "S" shopping for gifts bought with his own money. I still remember that he gave me a PeeChee; I was delighted! PeeChees were the perfect school folder and I loved drawing all over them. He gave photo corners to Mom, a thoughtful gift since she put together the family albums. There is a special grace in giving.
My granddaughters were here on Christmas Eve and saw their wrapped presents, including one in the shape of the Wildcard cell phone that the oldest had asked for. So we started joking around that it was really a box of rocks, not a cell phone. Grinning slyly, "J" started naming all the great uses for rocks - playing catch, building things, catching a purse snatcher - and how happy she'd be to get some rocks for Christmas. On Christmas morning, she was grinning ear to ear on opening the box and seeing the phone; even though she already knew what the gift was, it still gave her great joy to open it up and it gave me great joy to see how happy she was! (She has asked for rocks, though, for her coming birthday - LOL!) There is a special grace in giving.
At my daughter's house on Christmas morning, my youngest granddaughter rushed to hand me the gift that she'd gotten for me, her face wearing an utterly endearing ear-to-ear grin as she waited eagerly for me to open her gift: a beautiful pair of red sparkly earrings (which I wore today when friends came over). There is a special grace in giving and in receiving.
I love to receive gifts, as well as give them. It brightens my heart to know that someone else thought about me, and maybe had some joy in picking out a special something with me alone in mind. A yoga teacher of mine often said "Receive what you have been given." Profound words that cover so much of life. Receiving a gift is not just a passive act. "Receive" is a verb, an action. To truly receive a gift requires an action, an act of acceptance with an open, thankful heart. Appreciation honors the gifter and shows respect for the effort and thoughtfulness that was put into selecting the gift. There is a special grace in receiving.
Remember how we'd all go back to school after Christmas break, asking our friends "what'd you get for Christmas?" And the enjoyment would all flow back again as we shared our favorite gifts, or heard about the great gifts our good friends got. Why don't we do that as grown-ups? I always thought that was such fun! There is a special grace in giving and receiving.
Here's a little gift picked out especially for you: a song I heard on the local radio station, playing Christmas music all season long: Faith Hill's "A Baby Changes Everything"
So ... what'd you get for Christmas?

Sunday, December 21, 2008

celebrating loved ones ...

It was only 5 when I got to the cemetery yesterday, but the sun was already starting to set and the cemetery was dark by the time I'd trimmed the flowers I'd brought, filled the vases with water, cleaned and polished the headstone and said my prayers. Too late and too dark to take any photos, I thought. As I drove down the lanes, though, I noticed something that made me stop and turn the car back around for a second look. Several of the decorated sites had lights on their trees! What a cheery glow they gave off, clear lights on some, colored lights on others. Utterly delightful and Christmasy!

I love the cemetery at Christmas! To see the care and love and memory that people still have for their loved ones who have gone before absolutely FILLS my heart with joy! "Gone but not forgotten" aren't just words on a tombstone; these people are remembered with love and respect, with joy and with humor, with the love of Chistmases shared. It always moves me deeply.

I went back today so I could get my pictures. The cemetery was crowded with cars and people; trees were being set up, garland strung around little candy cane fences, entire families, young and old gathered together to celebrate Christmas memories. Some had food; many had brought chairs to sit and remember and talk and laugh together. It's all very festive, cemetery or not.

I saw three Asian women with their very old mother taking turns taking pictures, so I went up and offered to take a picture of them all together near the tree they'd set up. then I roamed the cemetery admiring all the Christmas decor and the creativity put into these holiday memorials. One had a huge banner: "Merry Christmas, Grandma!" with family photos laminated onto the banner. There were angels and snowmen, Santas and mangers.

There are a couple of favorites that I enjoy seeing each year. One family puts up a fake fireplace and hangs "stockings" all around with the names of family members. It's good to see new stockings added through the years.

The big cross below is new this year. Looks like a lot of effort went into making it and getting it set upright.

Isn't this a fantastic tree? I love that large angel on top, looking over everything. I'm sure she's smiling, knowing that those we love never really leave us, but are celebrated still with love and with joy for their presence in our lives.

Let us cherish those we love each and every day, in heaven and on earth.

Merry Christmas, Mom!

Friday, December 19, 2008

peaceful sounds ...

For the last couple of weeks, I've been listening at work to my Christmas music station that I created on Pandora. Love it so much!

Thought you might enjoy, too:

It suits my sense of quiet and peaceful reflection during this most holy season of Advent.


Sunday, December 7, 2008

back to the beginning ...

My confident, self-assured granddaughter is reaching the age (nearly 12) where it's starting to be important to "fit in" with her peer group, part of the normal socialization that we humans go through. Thankfully, I'm of an age where "fitting in" is no longer really a concern of mine.

When we're younger, we're more self-conscious about how we look, how we act, what we do, what we have. No one wants to be in the freaks-and-geeks crowd. We're much more self-critical ("I look horrible today!") and we're subconsciously constantly aware of the social cues of others. Oh, the peer pressure of tweens/teens!

I'm of an age where I'm free from worrying about what anyone else thinks, free from worrying about whether I'm attractive enough or thin enough or wearing the right clothes or hairstyle. (I actually leave the house without makeup some days!) I'm much, much more accepting of myself - exactly as I am - than I ever used to be.

Have you seen that Kaiser Permanente commercial with Michelle Shocked's song "When I grow up, I want to be an old woman?" It always makes me want to get up and dance in the living room (and sometimes I just go ahead and do it!) Oh, the joys of being less self-conscious and simply living life unfettered by insecurities and others' expectations. I love it!

When we're born, we're totally free and unencumbered, still filled with light, still connected to heaven, not yet fully embodied into human form. We can still see angels, hear the voices, laugh at "nothing", be utterly delighted for no reason. We can wear silly hats, silly clothes and act silly and everyone thinks we're cute as can be. We don't feel any need to "fit in." We're content simply in being. We accept ourselves and most everyone and everything around us without judgement.

Somehow we lose that along the way. But as I grow older, I find myself reverting closer to my original state. I smile as I drive to work, for no good reason other than I'm happy. And I'm happy for no good reason that I can pin down. The simple act of taking Communion in church or going to yoga fills me with simple contentment. I accept things more easily, release things more easily, judge others less and accept them for who they are.

I know some women who are always asking "What do you think she meant by that?" "Why do you think they did that?", always suspicious, always wary of what others are thinking of them. I'm just so glad to be past all that! I don't put much thought into others' motivations. I've learned that it's not up to me to figure other people out; I need to figure me out. That's all. I find the subject matter more interesting anyway. [wink]

One of my role models is Grandma, 93 years young. She's actually my ex-husband's grandmother, but she remained a part of my life after my divorce, lucky me! When I saw her yesterday, she pulled down her turtleneck to show me her wrinkled neck, totally un-self-conscious. What young woman would willingly point out her flaws and laugh about them? I love that woman!

And I love this age! The body ain't what is used to be, but the spirit is getting closer to what it used to be when I first arrived here. Accepting myself exactly as I am, without reservation, quirks and all.



Speaking of acceptance, I'd like to point you to a wonderful post from Rebecca at Just a Thought, a beautiful tribute to her eccentric dad: . Enjoy!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Six days off ...

I decided to "bookend" the Thanksgiving holiday and took off last Wednesday and today, Monday, so I could have have six days off from work. Whee! I made lists of all the things I was planning to accomplish: Christmas shopping, Christmas cards, finish scraping the wallpaper glue in the bathroom and paint it, finish painting the office, buy some bookcases and get all the stuff off the floor in the office, garden clean-up, post some things on Craigslist - oh, baby I had plans, big plans!

I got the Christmas shopping done ... mostly.

And I got a few things posted on Freecycle, which enabled me to get rid of an end table. I've been wanting to release things from my home lately. There's a feeling that there's too much stuff and all that stuff needs to be taken care of in some way, whether cleaning or dusting or storing or rearranging. Even getting rid of stuff takes some action on my part.

I'd like to get rid of my big looming entertainment center and get a lower media table, something that takes up less space in my space. I want to get rid of my big square French Country-style coffee table and replace it with something smaller with simpler lines, and a more open feeling to it. My beautiful china hutch takes up too much room in my tiny dining area and I yearn for open space there, too. Heck, I want to get rid of all that crystal and glassware and the china, too, which I never use and am simply storing for no good reason. (The china was my mom's but honestly, it's not something that I'd buy for myself.)

I want less stuff. More space. I want to release anything that's crowding my life, my space, my psyche. Lighter, airier, cleaner, clearer.

My garage needs a really good clean-out. I used to live in a small apartment with no storage or garage; I used to know exactly every single thing that I owned in the world cuz what I had was what I used. I had exactly what fit into my space. I miss those days. When I bought this place, everyone said how great to have a two-car garage and "all that storage space"; I couldn't even imagine what I would store in there. Now there are beach chairs and old paint, a garden bench and leftover laminate flooring, some old shelves, closet doors ... it's all got to go. I don't need any of it; I don't want any of it. I want the space. Open space. A cabinet for the paint. A table to pot plants. A pegboard for tools. That's it. The rest must go.

I'm even thinking about a couple of friendships that have come to the end of their time. Friendships that were great in their time, but have gently faded away and need to be released now.

I've been to yoga five days in a row while I've been on vacation and feel great: energized, renewed, strong. Yoga helps me quiet the mind and release unnecessary distractions. Is that part of why I feel this yearning for simplicity so much more strongly now? Doing vinyasa flows activates the energy flow in the body, repeating the patterns over and over in a kind of meditation ... breathe in, arms up ... breathe out, forward bend ... lunge, downward dog, 8-point namaskar, cobra ... over and over. The simplicity of breath. Breathe in, straighten the spine. Breathe out, release a little more.

I can feel my life shifting again. I need to breathe out and release a little more.

PS. Dad's doing great! He's exceeding the physical therapist's goals and already has 105 degree range of motion. Thanks for your good thoughts and prayers on his behalf.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

conversations with Dad ...

My dad had knee replacement surgery this past Thursday. Seventy-nine years old, the cartilage in his left knee was gone and his knee was just bone rubbing on bone. Dad has always had a very high pain threshold; never complaining, the kind of man who would just tough it out. He always kind of reminded me of Clint Eastwood in the sense of being very much an honorable, strong man, but warmer and funnier than the Clint of the old spaghetti westerns.

After work Thursday night, I drove the hour-plus to visit him in the hospital. His wife had just left for the day; my brother and sister-in-law had been by earlier. At a little past 7pm, it was just him and I. I love the times that he and I get to spend together with no one else around. We gab and gab and laugh and gab and laugh some more. The conversation always flows, no awkward pauses or anything, just a natural flow of conversation. We connect so naturally, so fluidly. He needed some pain meds that first night, so I used the button that dispenses .2mg into his IV and showed him how he could do it himself.

My mom was the sort of person that everyone naturally loved and gravitated to. She was friendly, lively, gregarious and could tell stories better than anyone I know. Dad was always a bit more shy and reserved; he was content to let her be the center at gatherings. But he has a wickedly funny sense of humor. Often at family events, I'd be in the background with him and he would absolutely have me in stitches until we were both doubled over in laughter, tucked away in some corner of the party.

He always worked two jobs when we were growing up, a full-time day job and then a part-time night job, always rising early even though he'd worked late into the night. I had ballet lessons and piano lessons due to his hard work. Every time I play the piano now, I say a blessing for both him and my mom.

After mom crossed over, my daughter and I spent a lot of time with him, doing laundry at his house every Thursday, sometimes meeting for Sunday breakfast. For a couple of years, the three of us all volunteered at a soup kitchen every Saturday. He and my daughter/his granddaughter often sat on the sofa with her snuggled up against him, his arm wrapped lovingly around her as they watched TV or talked. So comfortable and cozy with one another. He gave her away when she married.

After he remarried, he took on a new family with his new wife and her grandkids who came to live with them. He devoted himself to them just as he'd devoted himself to us as we grew up, but it meant, too, that we saw less of him, and it was rare that we spent time with him alone. I call him every week, though, and it's wonderful to just have that time with him.

In the past year, two uncles on my mom's side crossed over (Uncle Alfred and Uncle Art), several months apart. I drove Dad with me to their funerals and there we were again, talking and laughing, enjoying the presence of one another, so comfortable, so very happy together. The first man that I ever loved, the one who sets the standard for me of a man's dignity and honor, of faith and devotion, of family and love.

I went to the hospital again on Saturday, staying from 5 until after 11pm. His wife and her family all left the hospital around 7, so it was just him and me in the evening. I absolutely love doing things for him, but I also know he doesn't like to be fussed over; not because he doesn't enjoy it, but because he never wants to impose his own needs on others. Nonetheless, I had the opportunity to help him with little things: getting him water, talking with the nurses and with the doctor about his condition and needs, strapping on the booties after he'd visited the restroom, tucking his blankets ... just little things to help make him comfortable.

And we talked and talked, laughing and talking. We talked about politics, news, the economy, our new president-elect; about jobs he'd had, memories we share, about things I didn't know from the past. I'd printed out a few things that I thought he might enjoy: some e-mail funnies, my Veteran's Day blog post and an article about his old Naval ship, the Ernest G. Small. I brought him a Newsweek; we've always discussed politics in our family and this issue had some great in-depth reporting on the recent presidential campaigns that I knew he'd appreciate. We watched Cops together, amazed at the criminals' behaviors and excuses, respectful of the jobs the officers have to do. Dad had wanted to be a police officer at one point in his life and has an abundance of respect for the work.

He's doing really well after the surgery; he took a walk in the corridor today with a therapist using a walker. He had no pain at all when I spoke to him earlier this evening. I asked him if he'd like for me to come up tonight. (It's an hour's drive from my house to the hospital.) But in his usual, thoughtful way, he said "No, no. You need your rest. You have to go to work in the morning. But thank you. And thank you for staying so long with me last night."

I'll go again to visit him on Tuesday night after work, hoping selfishly that it can be just him and I again, talking and laughing together, sharing the love of a father and his only daughter. I'm abundantly blessed by having him as my father, and I never take this gift for granted. Thank you, God.

Photo: Dad and I on my wedding day, 1974

Sunday, November 16, 2008

leaving footprints ...

Some people come into our lives and quickly go.
Some stay for awhile and leave footprints on our hearts.
And we are never ever the same.


"Is there a clock in here?" the woman asked.

I'd noticed her earlier when I came and sat in the waiting room at the car dealership. A woman a bit older than myself, nicely dressed, her soft white hair styled, lip gloss, glasses. A pretty woman, with a kind-looking face, reading in a nearby chair.

I smiled at her and said "I don't think so, but let me check my phone. It's 1:12."

Startled, she looked at me and I realized that I hadn't reset my cellphone for the end of Daylight Saving Time, so I quickly corrected myself. She relaxed and we both chuckled over my mistake.

She was going to pick up her husband from his dialysis treatment, she told me; she wanted to be sure she wasn't late. (My granddaughters tease me about always talking to strangers; I'm the "talk to strangers lady" they say.) How long does it take, I asked her. About four hours, she said. But he never complains. He's had a number of other health problems ...

And so began a wonderful, memorable conversation with the woman with the kind face. She went on to tell me about her husband, her eyes glowing with a soft, almost reverential love, the health challenges he'd had over the years and how he faced each one with determination and optimism. It was clear that not only did she love him, but she was amazed by the spirit in this man, too.

"How did you meet?" I asked her. "I always love hearing people's "meeting" stories." She giggled a little and told me about being introduced to him, a student here in the U.S. from Colombia, when she was just 18. A few short months later, they were married and had been married for 56 years. When he was growing up, his family had adopted a number of kids (if I remember, correctly, there were 18 in his family; could that be right? Yes, I'm pretty sure it is), children who needed a home, even though his own parents weren't wealthy, but had the most generous of hearts. She said that all his siblings were remarkable like him: good, kind, caring, fun, generous people, friends to all they met.

As we talked, her gentle voice made me smile deep in my heart as she told me about their lives together, their children and grandchildren and a new great-grandchild. I imagined her as a young woman, married to a wonderful man, as a young wife, then mother and on through her life. She glowed as she spoke. Throughout our conversation, she never talked about herself; only about this man that she so obviously loved wholly and completely and the family and friends that he had influenced by his own life.

For just those moments there in the car dealership, I felt our souls connect on a deeper level as she spoke. It was like an angel showing my spirit-self the beauty of their two lives together. I was enthralled, barely aware of our surroundings. Beauty has a such a compelling way of making us oblivious to all else sometimes, and I was witnessing beauty through her stories, enchanted at hearing about this man, and thoroughly enchanted with her.

Too soon, the service consultant came and told her that her car was ready. Smiling at me as she got up, she said "I've enjoyed talking with you. May God's blessings be yours." I said a blessing back to her and watched her walk away, her story leaving its imprint on my heart.

~ Namaste

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Thank a Vet

A friend told me that she calls her Dad on Veteran's Day and thanks him. I thought that was a beautiful thing to do, and I've started doing the same with my dad, who served in the Navy in the Korean War aboard the USS Ernest G. Small. On October 7, 1951, his ship hit a mine off North Korea, killing 9 and wounding 18 of my father's friends. Four days later, her bow broke off in heavy seas.

I also send a card to my uncle (mom's brother), who served in the Army in the Korean War. He lost a leg when he stepped on a land mine in the war. My dad (who was not yet married to my mom) met my uncle when he visited him in the hospital at an aunt's request. (The families knew one another.) My dad has always said that my uncle is one of his heroes. My uncle went on to have a family of 9 children, working three jobs to support them all, always jovial and teasing, never a word of complaint. He is adored by friends and family, the kind of man you instantly call friend.

I am very proud of both of these men and grateful to them, too, and to all the other veterans - uncles and friends - who have been in my life and are no longer here in their earthly bodies. I am grateful, too, for all those I've never met, but who served for all of us. I honor them for the sacrifice on behalf of all Americans.

If you know a vet, take a moment to give them a call or drop them a card, thanking them for their service in the cause of freedom.

And take a look at the beautiful montage video Amber has posted on her site:

Monday, November 3, 2008

tagged with love

As usual, it looks like I have some catching up to do. No surprise. Anyone who knows me IRL knows how completely, 100% reliable I am when it comes to time: I can always be counted on to be late. If I show up for yoga before class starts, everyone looks at the clock in surprise, thinking there must be some mistake. My family knows to give me false start times: if an event starts at 1pm, they tell me 12:30pm so I'll get there by 1. All of which is just fine with me. I know it's inconsiderate of others, I know that if I just leave a little earlier, blah blah blah ... I'm a grown woman. I know these things. And yet I'm always late. I consistently underestimate the amount of time things will take; I try to cram one more thing in before I leave the house. Truthfully, being on time isn't that important to me. When I get there, I'll be there. Until then, I won't. If I invite people over and they're late, it doesn't bother me a single bit. They'll get here when they get here and oh what a wonderful time we'll all have then. Time is a manmade concept anyway, a contrived convenience for humans; God doesn't wear a watch.

But I digress (which is making me get started later than I'd wanted to. It's almost midnight here and my modem is acting up on top of it. See what I mean?). I have three things to catch up on from bloggy friends, so let's get to it!

First, I received a super-sweet "I love your blog" award from a new blog friend, Rebecca. I'm really glad I discovered her. I absolutely love good, solid, thought-provoking writing. I'll re-read a deliciously written sentence several times (from a book, an article, a blog, whatever); often, too, I'll copy it down so I can read it again at my leisure. Rebecca writes beautifully and skillfully and it's a treat to visit her "Just a Thought" blog. Thank you so very much, Rebecca! You lit up my heart with this!

This award is to be paid forward, so here are the rules and the five that I nominate:
1. Put the logo on your blog or post.
2. Nominate at least 5 blogs (can be more).
3. Let them know that they have received this award by commenting on their blog.
4. Link to this post and to the person who originally sent you your award.

My five nominees whose blogs I love (I love more than these, though!):

2. Luxie
3. Kat
4. Heather
5. Lisa


My other two can actually be combined. Both Lisa and Carol have tagged me to name some quirky things about myself. (Lisa's said to name 7; Carol's said to name 6. I could name 100, but I think I'll try to stick with just 6.) Then I'm supposed to name 6 (or 7) others to tag and have them do the same. It's very late and I'm very sleepy and besides, most everyone I follow has already been tagged and exposed their quirks for all to see. (Personally, I love quirks. I've always hoped to grow up to be a character; you know, someone that others mention with a smile and say "ah, she's such a character.")

So here goes with my list of 6 quirky things about me:

1. I can't wear a watch. They stop on me. Always have. When I was young, mom tried wristwatches, necklace watches, ring watches. They all stopped working within a couple of hours. I'd take them off and put them on the dresser and some time later, I'd find that they were working again. Tick-tick-tick. Several people have told me they experience the same thing or know someone who has. I've tested this using others' watches and had the same result. I haven't tested it in years, though. (See above about time measurement not being important to me.)

2. I think we all can hear the voice of God if we just sit quietly and listen from time to time. Prayer is us talking to God; quiet meditation is us listening to God. We all need that quiet space.

3. Being near a lot of leather makes me physically uncomfortable. Leather smells like death to me. I can wander in a furniture showroom and if I start feeling uncomfortable and queasy, I know I'm near a leather sofa.

4. When I lose something, I don't fret and worry. I feel that if I'm supposed to find it, I'll find it when I'm supposed to find it. Worrying or getting anxious doesn't change the result. Last week, I lost my cellphone headset. Calmly looked throughout the car several times. Three days later, I found it in a spot that I'd checked several times previously.
I wasn't surprised.

5. When I drink from a paper coffee cup or beverage cup, the seam of the cup has to be at the back where my fingertips hold the cup (like the laces on a football). If it has a coffee sleeve, the seam of the sleeve also has to be at the back. I will twist the lid and the sleeve around until this is so.

6. My closet is organized by sleeve length, then by color. Tanks sorted from light to dark, then s/s tees, etc. Same with my skirts and slacks. And there are no extra hangers. Makes things so much easier. I find things easily when getting dressed in the morning. When I wear my red tee, its hanger remains in the spot in my closet where the red tee goes. After I've washed it, the red tee hanger is right there for the red tee. I like things simple.

And with that, I'm off to bed! I hope you have a wonderfully, quirky week with cherished characters who make you smile.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

The Blind Men and the Elephant

Once upon a time, there lived six blind men in a village. One day the villagers told them, "Hey, there is an elephant in the village today." They had no idea what an elephant is. They decided, "Even though we would not be able to see it, let us go and feel it anyway." All of them went where the elephant was. Every one of them touched the elephant.

"Hey, the elephant is a pillar," said the first man who touched his leg.
"Oh, no! it is like a rope," said the second man who touched the tail.
"Oh, no! it is like a thick branch of a tree," said the third man who touched the trunk of the elephant.
"It is like a big hand fan" said the fourth man who touched the ear of the elephant.
"It is like a huge wall," said the fifth man who touched the belly of the elephant.
"It is like a solid pipe," Said the sixth man who touched the tusk of the elephant.

They began to argue about the elephant and every one of them insisted that he was right. It looked like they were getting agitated. A wise man was passing by and he saw this. He stopped and asked them, "What is the matter?" They said, "We cannot agree to what the elephant is like." Each one of them told what he thought the elephant was like. The wise man calmly explained to them, "All of you are right. The reason every one of you is telling it differently is because each one of you touched a different part of the elephant. So, actually the elephant has all those features that you all said."

"Oh!" everyone said. There was no more fight. They felt happy that they were all right.


As we know, the story of the Blind Men and the Elephant is about understanding that each of us has a different perspective; there may be some truth to what others say, depending on their personal experience of their own truth. It's important to talk, to discuss, to try to gain understanding through dialogue, intellectual reasoning and critical thinking.

I think our media does a terrible disservice to us by not providing sufficient information to foster intelligent dialogue. By design, the media must create headlines that inflame emotions and sell newspapers. "If it bleeds, it leads." They give us brief synopses of stories with no in-depth information; we get only the sketchiest and the most lurid of details as a result. The more scandalous ("AIG execs spend thousands at high-end resort!"), the better. In our reality-TV culture, the media panders to the voyeuristic nature that's so prevalent today, creating shocking, sensational headlines to incite highly emotional, agitated responses.

We need to take it upon ourselves to learn from different sources, look at different parts of "the elephant" in order to get a complete picture of the facts, especially regarding information on the candidates and their positions in this election.

A young woman was interviewed on TV recently to gain her perspective on the financial bail-out. "The government shouldn't get more money if they can't handle the money they already have!" she raged emotionally. She didn't realize the "bail-out" was not for the government , but for the financial institutions. (How could a government bail itself out with its own money? That would be like a person in debt spending more money to get out of debt. Illogical.) Yet, she was very irate and upset about the whole thing. And the cameras were there to capture her ire and fan others' flames of anger.

And that AIG thing? There were calls to "throw the bums out!" for partying after receiving the bail-out. The facts are that AIG is comprised of over 70 companies, many of them insurance agencies. It was the holding company, the arm that held the mortgage-backed securities, that was bailed out, not the insurance agencies. It was an independently owned insurance company affiliated with AIG that held its annual event in SoCal to reward their top-producing agents, an event very common in many industries to reward their top sellers. There were no AIG execs paryting; there was no government money spent.

Another great example: Man-on-the-street interviews where Obama supporters were presented with McCain's views but were told they were Obama's; those interviewed strongly agreed with those views and also agreed that Sarah Palin would make a great vice president for Obama.

There was a brief moment this week where everyone gasped that $150,000 had been spent on Sarah Palin's wardrobe, hair and make-up. This money was paid by the Republican National Committee, not the government; no tax dollars were spent. The RNC has a line item in their budget for candidates' wardrobes, not Sarah Palin's specifically, but for whomever the candidates are. The candidates have to travel through many different climate zones - from warm to cold, rainy to sunny; they have to make TV appearances, give interviews; they have to look the part. Obama just bought five $1500 suits. And I personally think the man looks very sharp in his expensive suits. Kinda has a 50s, Frank Sinatra vibe. I don't care about his suits, or Palin's wardrobe, and the media shouldn't care, either. More meat, less dressing, please.

My point is not to mock those who are ignorant or ill-informed, but to encourage people to look beyond just the elephant's trunk. Touch its ear, its side, its leg. Learn more. Question more. Read more. Be a little suspicious of the information you're receiving. (Instead of watching TV news or taking a newspaper, I read Newsweek for in-depth coverage. Although lately it's been very one-sided, at least the articles are several pages instead of a few paragraphs.)

Voters should cast their ballots according to their own conscience, but it should be a well-informed conscience that has given careful consideration to issues of health care, taxes, the economy, leadership ... world issues and national issues that affect us all. There's no right or wrong candidate. They are different people with different approaches. Each of us views the candidates according to the issues that are important to us. I have my hot-button issues, and others have theirs. We should be tolerant of one another's viewpoints, but we should also be knowledgeable enough to be able to engage in intelligent discourse and to support our positions. Voting is a privilege and should not be undertaken frivolously, but with seriousness and with respect.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

A bride, a beach, a ballet, a baby ...

A bride ...

Saturday morning as I got in my car after yoga, I glanced down at the car mat and noted the sand scattered across the dark fibers. I smiled and felt happiness fill my heart. The sand was from Thursday, when my friends married each other on the sand in Laguna Beach.

What a beautiful ceremony it was, outdoors, under God's blue skies, the ocean waves crashing on the shore, Laguna's dark cliffs rising behind us. The bride wore a beautiful creamy gown that flowed over her like milk; the groom, a shirt and shorts. My bare toes wiggled in the sand as the minister presided over the ceremony, his words sometimes drowned out by the roar of the waves. White buckets of brightly colored gerbera daisies formed a circle around the happy couple as they vowed to live and love together always. The couple and the setting made this among the most beautiful ceremonies I've witnessed. May God bless them with a lifetime of joy together.

A ballet ...

Saturday afternoon, the Kirov performed Giselle, one of my favorite story ballets. Light and ethereal, I found myself completely lost in the dance, oblivious to anyone else around me in the darkened theater. My dear friend and I have had tickets to the dance season at the performing arts center for many years; getting together several times a year to enjoy these performances is something we both look forward to. Giselle is a classic story ballet in the Marius Petipa tradition, replete with incredible battement sequences so precise, they seem nearly impossible and soaring jetes with the dancer lingering so long in suspension you can almost hear the audience stop breathing in awe. The Kirov, a Russian company, does the classics beautifully. And it was pure pleasure to enjoy it with my dear friend.

A baby ...

Immediately following the ballet, I was off to a baby shower for a friend. The mom-to-be is a gifted salsa dancer and former teacher of mine. One of the other shower guests is also a former salsa teacher of mine. Both of them were members of Los Rumberos, a noted LA dance company. They've traveled the world performing for audiences in a number of different countries, and are noted instructors in the LA salsa world. To say I am a huge admirer of each of them would be a huge understatement. Oh, if only I could dance like them - fiery and sharp, electrifying and sexy. The mom-to-be looked gorgeous and healthy, glowing with her pregnancy. It was fantastic to be with them and laugh and share in the joy of the new baby girl that will arrive in early December.

What a magical weekend this was, sharing such wonderful times with such good friends! My heart is glowing with happiness. I feel so blessed and filled with gratitude for these friendships that enrich my life.


Tuesday, October 7, 2008

variations on a theme ...

It's always interesting how when I'm supposed to learn a lesson, I get messages from more than one source reinforcing the lesson. Guess the Universe/God wants to be sure I get the message - lol! So here're more messages I've received the past couple of days about personal power ...

I received the following e-mail the other day:

One day I hopped in a taxi and we took off for the airport. We were driving in the right lane when suddenly a black car jumped out of a parking space right in front of us. My taxi driver slammed on his brakes, skidded, and missed the other car by just inches! The driver of the other car whipped his head around and started yelling at us. My taxi driver just smiled and waved at the guy. I mean, he was really friendly. So I asked, 'Why did you just do that? This guy almost ruined your car and sent us to the hospital!' This is when my taxi driver taught me what I now call, 'The Law of the Garbage Truck.' He explained that many people are like garbage trucks. They run around full of garbage, full of frustration, full of anger, and full of disappointment. As their garbage piles up, they need a place to dump it and sometimes they'll dump it on you.

Don't take it personally. Just smile, wave, wish them well, and move on. Don't take their garbage and spread it to other people at work, at home, or on the streets.

The bottom line is that successful people do not let garbage trucks take over their day. Life's too short to wake up in the morning with regrets, so ... Love the people who treat you right. Pray for the ones who don't. Life is ten percent what you make it and ninety percent how you take it!

Added 10/8: Chris added a comment that David J. Pollay is the author of The Law of the Garbage Truck™ - Beware of Garbage Trucks™! Read the original story on David’s blog Thanks, Chris!


And today, my Daily Om message reinforced the same theme about Avoiding Negative Vibrations and taking on others' negative energy. Excerpt:

"... The energy of laughter from a newborn baby, the feeling of joy radiating from someone in love, and the frequency of calm emanating from an enlightened teacher are just some of the energies coming from others that you may want to have around you."


I've posted before that I try not to make assumptions about others' intentions; if I'm going to assume anything, I'm going to assume positive intentions until proven otherwise. Most of us probably do the same thing, cuz who wants to carry negativity and suspicion around instead of positive energy and hope? All people really are basically good, so let's treat one another that way.

Here's hoping that others only give you the most positive, loving energy today. And may you see the signs and learn the lessons being given to you, for you.


Sunday, October 5, 2008

Keeping personal power ...

Master Kan:
Is it not better to see yourself truly than to care how others see you?

It seems there's always a mean girl or two in every school. A bully who tries to put down others, or exclude from her private clique. Someone so insecure that the only way she can feel superior and confident is by stepping on others who she perceives as weaker and "less than" she is. (I think we can agree that some mean girls grow up but don't outgrow their predatory behavior.)

My daughter had to deal with her fair share of mean girls in school. I always taught her "Never give away your power to others." I told her that when she ignores others' remarks, she keeps her power; when she answers back in hurt or anger - when she attaches her energy to the situation - she has lost her power and has given it to her tormentor for her tormentor to now use against her. Stay detached. If you don't engage, if you don't invest yourself, you don't give away your power.

This may seem silly, but Super Nanny teaches the same lesson. When a child is having trouble sleeping in their room, she has the parents place the child in their bed, say "It's bedtime now, honey." and then leave. If the child gets up, put them back in bed, say "It's bedtime." and leave. If the child gets up again, put them back in bed, without a word. In other words, don't engage with them, stay detached. Eventually, after seeing that you aren't giving them your power - by giving the child your attention, fussing over them, reading or getting drinks of water - the child just gives up and stays in his room and sleeps. It's not a fun game if only one is playing. Same with bullies.

My granddaughters spent the night Saturday so we could go to our church festival today, and as always we spent a lot of time gabbing, with me asking them about friends, school, etc. My youngest told me that an older girl at her school called her "Ugly." Fortunately, she didn't seem overly concerned about it. She knows she's not ugly, with her long lashes, crystal blue eyes and button nose. But I told her the same thing that I told her mom: ignore it. Don't engage, don't give them your power. You know your own truth. You are not ugly and her saying you are doesn't make it so.

The other day, as I was sitting at the light to make a right turn, a guy came up on my right on a bicycle, glared at me and yelled "b*itch!" I ignored him. I know I'm not one and him calling me that doesn't make me one. He yelled it again, as if daring me to respond. I don't know if he was mentally ill or thought I was his ex-wife or something, but I just didn't engage. I told a friend about this and she said "Oh, I'd have told him off! How dare he! That's just rude!" She would have engaged, given the bully her power and had an argument with him. Why? What would be accomplished by that? She'd just be upset and angry and then she'd have that negative energy attached to her. I stayed detached and went merrily about my day, free of his energy because I'd simply ignored him and didn't let his words attach themselves to me.

Other's opinions can be valuable when offered in a helpful manner. They help us learn and grow if our hearts are open and able to sift through the opinions to find those words that speak to us with an honest voice. We can learn by listening to others. But we have to listen with discernment, careful to listen through our hearts, discarding those words that don't resonate with us, never giving away our personal power.

If a bully says that I'm a terrible person, and I don't think that I am, who is "right?" It's all perception. I can listen to his/her criticisms carefully and thoughtfully, but ultimately, the way I perceive myself is what counts, and I won't allow myself to be put into a labeled box that someone else tries to impose upon me with their words. How I react to the mean girls is up to me.

added 10/6: At the bottom of my blog I have a self-meditation widget. Today's self-meditation seems to affirm today's post. Ironic. Excerpt:
Happiness and suffering are dependent upon your own mind, upon your interpretation. They do not come from outside, from others.

May all your interpretations today be positive and happy! - Rose

Monday, September 29, 2008

enough ...

For about the last month, my garage door opener had been making a straining noise as it got to the top when it opened. The problem escalated to the point where last week, it took much longer than normal for the door to raise all the way up, like the motor was having to work extra hard ... just ... to ... get ... the ... door ....umph! ... up. I don't know how to fix stuff like this, but I do know how to dial so I called the repairman, who checked it out yesterday morning and said I needed new springs (with lifetime guarantee), new cable, etc. Total bill: $618. Ouch!

But as I wrote out the check, I found my heart was filled with gratitude. You see, I made a realization yesterday: I had enough money. I had to let that sink in. I could pay a $618 bill with money that I had in my bank account. Even after paying for new stairs last month (for which I'd saved for a few years), I had enough.

This was huge, really huge. And I'm so grateful to be at this point in my life. As a single parent with an ex who didn't pay his child support, times were very, very tough while my daughter was growing up. I paid cash for everything; no cash = no purchase. Over time, things got better, and I finally bought my small 1225 square foot townhome 10 years ago after my daughter had left home to begin her adult life as a wife and mother.

But I still had to stick to a budget, there wasn't enough for extras, clothes shopping was a rare event, no money for "real" jewelry, and I was very frugal with every purchase. I now had a mortgage to pay. My family sometimes jokes that I don't replace things until they're broken or worn out. I'm not a wasteful person; I wring every bit of value that I can from an item before I'll replace it. I don't buy what I don't need. Last year, I went without a DVD player for 8 months after mine broke until my daughter gave me a new one as a Mother's Day gift.

I've been working a lot so I've only vaguely been aware of the upheaval in the financial markets. I always thought I should learn something about investing, so I could better manage my 401K investments. But I never had the time, interest or inclination. Plus, it feels like betting and I'm not a risk-taker when it comes to my hard-earned money. It seems like so many of the financial vehicles (credit default swaps, anyone?) are like trading air: creative made-up bets and gambles.

Despite my ignorance about stock, bonds, investments - and despite two layoffs in the last 7 years - I've managed to get myself into a decent place financially. What a sense of peace and relief that is! I have a couple of 401Ks, an IRA, money in my regular bank savings account and money in a online account that pays a bit more. Nothing fancy, no big returns, but also low risk. My mortgage will be paid off before I retire. I won't get rich this way, but I'm also less likely to be wiped out financially. Probably not a very smart investment strategy, but it's one I'm comfortable with.

As I wrote that check for the garage door repair, I found myself abundantly grateful. I've gone through some challenging times. But I have a job that pays a decent salary, I have no debt, few needs. There are many Americans who are going through their own challenging times and experiencing their own financial struggles as a result of the current economy. I lift them all in prayer and pray that some day, they'll find themselves with a grateful heart when they realize that they've come through the worst of it and they can write a check, knowing the money's in the bank. Having enough is a pretty great thing.


Sunday, September 21, 2008

wide, open spaces ...

I'm fascinated by the way each of us is so different in the kinds of things that we drawn to or that we respond to. For example, I was talking with a co-worker recently and mentioned that I didn't feel comfortable in Portland, Oregon. I used to travel there on business and found the trees and mountains lush and green and beautiful - but also heavy and oppressive. I felt closed in. I longed for the openness of the expansive horizon at home, of the sun setting over the Pacific. I feel most at peace and most connected to the Divine within when I can see far into the distance, across wide sky and wide open water. It makes me want to spread my arms wide and open my heart chakra. I feel expansive, like I can take a long, deep breath, filling my lungs with fresh air and a feeling of light and freedom.

Busyness - like a forest of trees - and visual "noise" have always made me uncomfortable. I've always tried to be very present to my experiences - the breeze's caress, the warmth of sun, the scent of rain - and perhaps this has increased my sensory sensitivity. I seem to reach a point of sensory overload more quickly than most folks for some reason. I figure it's just the way I'm wired. I'm aware of this, but not much bothered by it any more. It's part of who I am here.

This sensitivity spans a gamut of things. I prefer small gatherings of a few friends instead of a large, raucous party, music blaring, people everywhere. I love to talk and laugh and share jokes in the comfort of an intimate group of people.

I am utterly, cat-purringly content being home with just the sound of the water running in the fountain outside my window, down in the courtyard, as it is right now.

I have no desire to visit New York City. A lot of visual noise of tall buildings blocking the light. I imagine a lot of audible noise as well. Too busy. Too much sensory input.

I can't see the hidden picture in "Magic Eye" stereograms. Everyone else seems to be able to see the picture but me. All I see in them is a lot of busyness. I just can't filter out the visual noise in order to see the hidden picture.

This need for simple sensory experiences extends to my wardrobe, too; mostly
solids with a few patterns in a couple of skirts.

Many bloggers make photo collages. I find it very difficult to see the images in the photo collages. (Maybe this is like the "Magic Eye" thing?)
I think all of this has something to do with the way my mind processes the things my eyes see.

This need for quiet and calm extends to living spaces, too. Most people would look at the bedroom photo at left and just love the layers of extended wall, shelf, tufted headboard. I find it waaaay too busy for me. Disturbingly noisy. The shelf has too many disparate, unconnected items on it. The mirror, too much ornamentation, particularly when paired in the room with the sleekness of the white bench. Busy baroque clashes with clean-lined modern. It all feels too heavy behind the bed and too puny and underwhelming everywhere else. It lacks balance for me. Like I said, this is just the way my mind processes the input. I know a bunch of people totally love that bedroom.

When I remodeled my kitchen a few years ago, I removed two walls that separated the kitchen space from the living space. Now, I have an open downstairs with no interior walls (except the powder room and closet), completely open and uninterrupted from the front window to the back courtyard. I just love it like this! There's room to dance, to open my arms and spin, to throw down a yoga mat and do a few sun salutations. The breeze dances from the front to the back, tinkling the capiz shell chandelier as it moves through, creating music in my wide, open space.

Heavy and noisy, busy and fussy just don't resonate with me. I need space, I need openness. Wide, open spaces ... quiet and calm ... simple things ... less and less ... a lightness of being and less sensory noise. It's just the way I'm wired.


ADDENDUM 9/23/08

As I said at the beginning of this post, I'm fascinated by the way each of us is so different in the kinds of things that we drawn to or that we respond to, and all your responses are just wonderful to read. A friend e-mailed me that she is much more comfy in a sunlight-dappled forest; the open sea would intimidate her. If I was in a sunlight-dappled forest, I'd be looking for the nearest widest opening of sunshine - LOL! One of my most memorable experiences of my life is one morning on a cruise when I sat out on a side deck for breakfast all by myself gazing out at the vastness of the open ocean. I love the way we're each wired so differently! No matter your personal preferences - or your politics, since the election is nearing - our differences can be celebrated and enjoyed.

Namaste (The Divine in me recognizes and honors the Divine in you.)

Monday, September 1, 2008

a quiet celebration ...

"How about we get together Saturday night to celebrate?"

Family celebrations are too rare and it had been awhile, and of course, being the end of August, we had a very special occasion to celebrate. And so, my two brothers and my sister-in-law all came over Saturday and off we went to dinner, after they'd suitably oohed and aaahed over the new staircase.

"ooooh ..." "aaaah ..."

Sitting in the little Mexican place, the conversation and laughter flowed. There's a certain type of "speech shorthand" that families use, pacing and phrases that are so natural and familiar from years spent growing up together. Our family dinners have always been very lively discussions, switching swiftly from serious politics and world leaders to laughing about celebs or reality shows.

When our food arrived, we all raised our glasses (theirs, iced tea; mine, water) and drank a toast in celebration of our reason for getting together. It was a lovely evening and a great time spent with those I love.

This afternoon, I picked up a bouquet of flowers and drove over for my own private celebration. I got out of the car, holding the flowers as I walked up. What a gorgeous day! The sun gently shining, a soft breeze stirring the large lacy tree overhead, the lush expanse of green stretching in front of me.

I clipped the stems of the flowers, filled the vase with water and arranged the blooms carefully, making sure they were even all the way around. I took care of the cleaning and polishing, then folded my hands in prayer as the breeze turned and lifted my hair so slightly, as if she was caressing it. I let the tears spill today. "Don't cry, mija; don't cry." she said to me. But crying felt good, felt cleansing.

Mom would have been 80 years old this week. I love you so much, Mom!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Friends of a feather ...

Feathers in sage "tubes" from Paul

I think the youngest of us was 18 and the oldest 21 when we all first met. But when we did meet, through a mutual friend, we all just clicked and became the best of friends: me, my then-husband and six guys who were already friends. We shared a bend-over-and-hold-your-stomach sense of humor, a quick wit, a teasing (only mildly insulting) sarcasm. No sacred cows; every topic was fair game. We all became instant, closely knit, do-everything-together friends. Some friendships are like that.

Very soon, the guys were at our house most every night. It was like a family; we'd eat together, talk, play music, watch TV, play backgammon, go to the store, play "washers" in the backyard and laugh and just completely enjoy the ease and comfort of good, close friendships. When one of the boys came over, they just walked right in; it would seem weird if they were to knock on the door and wait to be let in. They weren't guests; they were family. It was the late 70s and we were free spirits, late hippies (I wore halter tops and macramed large wall hangings for the living room - LOL!), enjoying the freedom and fun of being young and happy/hippy. In the summer, Fridays after work would find us spontaneously decide to drive out to the river for the weekend. None of us had any "real" money; we barely had "real" jobs. But we had "real" fun together, sitting on the river or at a river bar by day, all of us sleeping in the van together in the campground by night.

It's said that people come into our lives for a reason, or a season, or a lifetime. Over the years, there were marriages, babies, divorces. The guys each got married, one by one; some of us were in the weddings. As we all started families, we didn't see each other as often as before, but we were still the closest of friends ... although we knocked on the front doors now, in consideration of the spouses, you know. A few of the friends moved on to other life situations and other locales. When my husband left in 1980, I was lucky enough to keep the friends.

There are four of us now who still stay in touch, who still call or visit, usually at my place. The guys don't knock at my place; they never have. Walk in, big hug, big kiss, big smiles all over the place! They were all over at my place yesterday and we had fun all afternoon and evening, eating, talking, laughing, playing backgammon. I'd forgotten how men can eat! Good thing I ordered a sandwich platter because they ate every single one and it was good to see them helping themselves, so at home in my home, as they alway are and always have been. I'm not a hostess when they visit (I didn't even bother with shoes yesterday); they know where everything is, or they know to ask, and they just help themselves. (One of them even installed a new toilet flapper for me just before he left. Yay!)

I'll sometimes stand aside and just watch them talking and joking and I smile all the way to my liver, utterly contented and filled with love. I love these three wonderful, terrific, loving, caring, hilariously funny men that I've shared a friendship with for over 30 years. For some reason, we all just clicked.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

summer dancing ...

Oh, Hi! So good to see you! ... hug ... You remember so-and-so? ....Say Hi, girls. ... Hi! ... You hungry? Sit down ... How've you been? ...

Summer parties ... summer gatherings ...
seeing friends ...
enjoying summer evenings outdoors.

Summer parties, back-to-back ... strung one after another- like summer flowers in a daisy chain - stretching through the months of summer ...

I'd love to see you ... is this weekend good?
Hey, save the 16th, OK?
Evite invitations where you can see who else is going to be there to add to the fun!
Do you want to carpool together?

A summer patio filled with laughter ... friends doubled over ... one tossing his head back in delight. The candles lit on the cake ... Happy birthday to you ...

A pool party with kids splashing, sharing goggles, the boys playing "chicken" ... hey! Not so rough! Someone's gonna get hurt! ... My granddaughters, shy at first, but the older boys grab and toss them in the water and soon they're all laughing and having a grand time.

Adults and kids sharing summer together, generations spanning from grandparents to newborns. Meeting new people and enjoying the conversation, the discussion, the quick quips, the subtle excitement that comes with meeting strangers in happy circumstances. Meeting folks again that you met at the last party with this crowd. Oh, you do yoga with her, too? Yeah, she got me to learn to love plank, too.

Friends and friends, old and just-met ... friends at parties, friends on phone calls that seem to be more frequent in the summer. "Yes! How are you? Hey, why don't you come over this Saturday?" and plans are made for another summer gathering ... and I quickly get to cleaning my summertime mess that seems to appear when the days are filled with light and irresponsibility calls me outside to play instead of doing chores.

Summer breezes, light foods, juicy melon ... laughter and sharing and catching up with people who make us smile.

Summer people, light and laughter ... a celebration ... a dance, a delight.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

once upon a time, there was a verrrrrry ugly staircase ...

Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.
- William Morris
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Well, my old staircase was certainly useful, but was the ugliest thing about my home. I had carpet on my wall. Sage green carpet making its zig-zaggy way down my wall. Whenever I watched TV, I'd sit and look at the carpet on my wall. Zig. Zag. Green. And on my wall.

And the handrail; it looked like an exterior metal garden rail, not something you'd put in a home. Carpet on my wall and a garden rail. Sigh ...

So, it took me 10 years but I saved up and finally had the staircase re-done! White skirtboard, white risers, white, square balusters. Maple treads, handrails and newel post all stained a rich walnut. Oh, my! I love my new staircase.

There's wider tread space now, too. The previous garden rail was set in about 3 inches from the outer edge of the step, so there was 3 inches of tread space that wasn't usable. I had the stair guys (who did fantastic work) move the balusters out to the very edge of the treads, so the steps are much wider now. The handrail no longer goes all the way to the top step because of this change, but it's so much better to have a wider staircase to me even if it means one handrail ends at the lower ceiling height.

It's late, so I'll just let you see some pics now. My blog isn't a photo or decor blog (I have no talent in either), so set your expectations accordingly. [smile]

Before: The carpet-on-the-wall, garden rail staircase before:

After: The beautiful wood staircase:

Before: Words fail me. Ugh!

After: Beautiful now, and even more useful with a wider step.