I can’t say that I ever thought much about the freedom to pee. Occasionally, on long hikes, I’ve wished that I were a guy so I could just turn towards the woods and let ‘er go, but that’s been about it, until recently.
I’ve now been diagnosed with CKD (Chronic Kidney Disease) and although I’m in the earlier stages, I currently think about urinating way more than the average person does. For example, in the past month I had to do TWO 24-hour urine collection tests – one to assess general chemistry and volume and the other to analyze kidney stone composition.
Now here’s where the “freedom” part comes in. For this test, you’ve got to collect all of your urine, cleanly, and for a man that’s no big deal; he can pee into a bottle. But for a woman – don’t ask. There’s this little potty-like thing that fits over the toilet, but you’ve got to constantly be vigilant to make sure that urine is the only thing that goes in there.
Yeah. Agitation doesn’t begin to cover the feelings I experienced every time I had to go to the bathroom. And when I completed the first test, I then had to do the second one. I will never again take the joy of peeing freely for granted.
My CKD is the result of converging circumstances – a congenital kidney condition that remained undiscovered until now, and a rather large kidney stone that is blocking my ureter, and unfortunately has caused kidney damage. The good news is that I may regain some function after I have a procedure in the next few weeks to remove the stone.
So I’m optimistic, and am fortunately feeling no ill effects at the moment.
But I still have to think about peeing. As folks who’ve experienced kidney stones know, if you have a tendency to form them you have to drink lots and lots of water, which of course, makes you have to pee more. Now as you age, you have to go more anyway, which can be terribly inconvenient, especially in the middle of the night. One of my Adventures in Peeing occurred when I had to find the bathroom in my hotel room, in the dark, and ended up falling into my suitcase.
And I am so tired of having to provide urine samples to doctors and lab technicians. I tend to have a “shy bladder” anyway, which means that sometimes I can have difficulty peeing in a public restroom or on command.
Granted, this is not a life-threatening condition and probably will not develop into one. But it still changes your perspective. Along with the peeing issues, it’s my first brush with mortality. Being told that your kidney function is just 60% of normal does make you think.
My guiding star here is the attitude of my dad, who had a major heart attack at age 59, and lived for 20 more years with only one quarter of his heart operational. I remember him saying to me, “Sunny, people ask me how I can live such a full life, knowing what happened to me and how limited my heart function is. I’ve had a defibrillator implanted and my heart’s stopped working three times so far. But you know what I tell them? I don’t think of myself as sick. I don’t waste any time worrying about it. I do what the doctors tell me and just keep going.”
And that’s now my philosophy. I always think of life as a gift anyway. I feel fortunate that I have a very proactive doctor who caught the changes in my blood panels. I have a good renal specialist and now a urologist, whom I have a lot of confidence in, despite him telling me that the internal laser blasts on my kidney stone will be the equivalent of going at it with a jackhammer for 1 and ½ hours. Lovely.
But I’m OK. The only peeing issue that I will have left to deal with, after the procedure, is related to a stent that will be put in for two weeks to manage the swelling. The doctor tells me that I will feel like I need to pee every 30 minutes.
At least I won’t have to go in the potty.Post a Comment
Once a week I get to be 17 again. Sort-of.
I go to the high school in town and mentor three teenage girls who have the deck stacked against them; one is pregnant, one has Tourette’s and all three have been bullied big-time. But they have grit and big hearts, and I am in awe.
I never thought that I would choose to work with teenagers again. After raising two myself, I was sure that I had been there and done that. But the Universe has amazing ways of bringing you ‘round again. The funny thing is I received my Masters in Education, in counseling, many moons ago. I originally thought that I would be a guidance counselor, until I did an internship in a North Carolina public school and saw how much of my day would be taken up with lunch duty and bus duty and other administrative tasks. No way.
So I struck out on my own in the budding field of professional organizing where I would get to make my own decisions and create my own schedules. I’m now of an age when I have the time to “give back” a little more and darned if I haven’t been directed once again to helping teenagers. But this time I’m (hopefully) wiser, have a lot more tools at my disposal and also have a heck of a lot more patience.
I asked myself, “If I could go back and give my 17-year old self some guidance, what would I say? What would I want to know sooner rather than later?” I wouldn’t take back all of the “mistakes” that I made because they led me to where I am today. But I sure could have used knowledge on how to make better gut-based decisions rather than fearful, “what will others think of me” ones.
Kids today have changed somewhat in response to the modern stressors they’re under, but fundamentally they’re the same. They want to know that they’re heard and that their opinions are respected. They like reassurance but not heavy-handed direction. They need to know that they are more than the sum of their grades and extra-curricular activities.
I saved a journal that I wrote when I was 17 and 18 years old. There were definitely times when I wanted to chuck it because I was so embarrassed about my self-important ramblings, but I didn’t and I’m grateful for that now. I have a record of the fact that yes, I was actually 17 years old at one point, and rereading it helps me relate to today’s teenage angst and obsessions.
I like listening to the girls and how well they know themselves for their age. It seems that the traumas they’ve endured have allowed them to make choices about their well-being that many 17 year old students have yet to embrace. A significant one has been to learn to laugh at themselves. How many adults do you know who can do that? And yet it is an essential part of the maturation process.
They tell me that they want to learn more about how to achieve stability and how to make better decisions. The girl expecting the baby says that she wants to be able to set a good example for her child. She’s already decided not to marry the father because they don’t love each other, but he wants to be around to help care for the baby and she welcomes that.
It’s clear to me that helping these kids to both manage themselves and stay open to the opportunities that come their way is one of the things I’m here to do. Thank goodness I’m comfortable sharing my own screw-ups and hard lessons I’ve learned along the way, which I know is essential to gaining and keeping their trust. This is a learning experience we’re in together.
And I think this is what it comes down to – these girls are part of my past and my future. I can help them navigate the journey towards sharing their own gifts and talents with others. We’re all connected, and to think otherwise is to delude ourselves about the meaning of our existence on earth.
I can imagine how thunderstruck my 17 year old self would have been if someone told her what a fundamental part she was playing in the world; how she was an agent for change and that she must live her best life so that she could help others to do the same. Find a few 17 year olds and give them this message. Those young men and women need to know how much one life can matter – their own.Post a Comment
I’m sitting in the local bakery/bistro waiting for my next job interview
candidate to arrive. It will be interview number seven in what has become a very
sobering experience for me.
I’m on the board of directors of our small town’s performing arts
association, a performance and educational non-profit, and we’re looking for our
first regular employee after two years of utilizing contract labor. We put an ad
for the new administrative assistant position in the newspaper and hoped to hear
from a few qualified people.
We were inundated with responses.
My task is to screen the applicants, select the top ones and interview them
before passing on my recommendations to the executive director of the
association. It’s been years since I conducted interviews — well before this
recession hit — and I’m stunned by the depth and breadth of hard-luck stories I
I can conduct a tough interview if need be, but now I mainly want to hug
people. I just finished speaking with an overly-qualified middle-aged woman who
is looking for an additional job to help her provide for her pot-bellied pig
rescue operation. She is passionate about her pigs and willing to work for far
less than she’s accustomed to.
And that’s the general story. There’s too little work available for too many
people. Not that this is news. It’s just that I haven’t experienced so much of
it sitting across the table from me. Statistics tell a story, but nothing like
the one you see in people’s eyes – people who are trying too hard to please
because they’re desperate.
I find myself trying to reassure, trying to find positive things to say so
they can smile and feel good for a few moments. I want to hire everyone because
I’m bleeding inside and that will make me feel better…
My next interview just left. He’s a dynamic young man, well-qualified, who
needs this job to establish employment in order to get custody of his 5-year old
son. I tell him that I will definitely recommend him for the position. And I
It seems that I’m recommending two out of every three people I see. How can I
I want to recommend the older woman with years of Easter Seals community
experience but she doesn’t have enough social media skills. She’s intelligent
and caring, but the position requires that the candidate hit the ground running
and she can’t do that.
But I could feel her anxiety and it hurt.
I guess I’m too much of a softy to do this work with the edge it requires.
If you’re a performer, I imagine you get used to going to auditions. After
all, you’re feeding a passion to put yourself out there. But a job applicant,
trying to survive on anything you can get? How do you find the stamina to keep
on keeping on after so much disappointment?
I would make a lousy casting director, for sure. I’d find roles for
Every applicant who pulls out reading glasses to go over the job description
apologizes for it. They look over at me as if to say, “I’m sorry I’m old.” Even
if their energy is vibrant, they’re apologetic. I make a joke to assure them
that I understand and it’s alright.
OK – here’s one I can let go of. She seems very impressed with herself and I
don’t think she’d be a good fit with this position. But then the vulnerability
creeps into her voice. She says, “What do I do when I’m over-qualified for the
$10 an hour job and there’s 150 people applying for the $48,000 one? I’m
responding to almost every opportunity I hear about, but it’s getting real
I still don’t think she’d be a good fit, but I try to be comforting. I
compliment her on her portfolio and encourage her to stay tough. I feel
By narrowing down the field to 10, I’m choosing the best candidates. The
director will then take my top recommendations and select the best match for her
needs. So is it wrong for me to allow all 10 to think they have a good shot? Is
it misleading for me to give them all hope for a few days?
I’ve now interviewed the final candidate and this last one is probably the
strongest of the bunch. She was laid off from her last two jobs but has a very
well-rounded resume and a lot of relevant experience.
I feel good about my selections, but sad overall. The guy working on his PC
at the next table asks me how I made out. “Too many good people out of work,” I
He replied, “But at least one person will walk away with a job. You should
feel good about that.”
He’s right. It’s not enough, but it has to be, for now.Post a Comment
high desert where I’m living now. I rode horses on trail rides through my
mid-teens, always pretending I was a cowgirl.
And then I moved out west and met a real cowgirl who has introduced me to a
world of service I had never imagined.
Andrea runs a non-profit therapeutic riding center for people with physical
and emotional challenges and I got to know her when I became her business coach.
She invited me to intern with her in her equine therapy practice and I’ve been
able to see close-up how horses can turn people’s lives around.
Horses are prey animals in the wild and to survive they depend on non-verbal
communication with each other. They are masters of living in the moment and
giving feedback to the rest of the herd because their lives depend upon it. And,
almost miraculously, they can show us how to do that.
I found this fact to be very surprising because I’ve always just thought of
horses as large dogs but with more inscrutable expressions. Horses don’t wag
their tails, for example. But knowing dogs doesn’t help you understand horses
and it certainly doesn’t help you to understand how horses view us.
My introductory session was with Nicky, a tall bay paint. I was told to go
and put a halter on him, which I had no idea how to do. But the lesson wasn’t
about how to put the halter on; it was about dealing with my emotions as I stood
there trying to figure out which end of the halter was “up”. Nicky waited
patiently as I began to get frustrated, feeling more and more stupid with every
Feeling stupid is a trigger for me, bringing up a number of life experiences
including the time I had to stand in front of my 4th grade class doing an
arithmetic problem on the blackboard and how I went blank when I heard the
laughter from my classmates. Hello, math anxiety.
In this halter exercise, I felt stupid in front of my client and in front of
Nicky. Yes, I imagined that the horse was judging me and found me to be an
Fast forward a few months. I began to work with Andrea at a satellite program
she runs for teenage girls suffering from substance abuse, family dynamics
problems and issues with self-esteem. A group is attempting to put a halter on
Hondo and I know pretty much how they feel. Part of me wants to help them
succeed in this endeavor, but I now know that it’s not about “success”. In fact,
I don’t really know what it’s about for them.
And that’s why this therapy is so effective — it’s based on a model where the
horses are the teachers, not a psychologist or even an equine specialist. The
horses are teaching the girls about negative self-talk, learning from feedback
and how best to communicate in a group.
Horses are powerful mirrors because they have no ego. They respond
authentically to the (hidden) messages they’re receiving, and they let you know
exactly how they feel about them. Nicky was kind to me that first day; he was
quiet and even helpful, putting his head down for me to try to put on the
upside-down halter. But he could have just as easily gone to the back of the
stall and told me, “Sorry, not interested.”
And what would I have done then? That’s what I’m learning from working with
the girls and the horses. As human beings, there are so many possible ways for
us to react in situations that confuse or frustrate us. But the most sensible
thing to do is to look for feedback. What is the horse telling us we need to do
While dogs will work for praise, horses are only interested in their own
comfort. If you can make them feel safe, they will probably be more willing to
do your bidding. In one exercise, the girls were unsure why Hondo and Gracie
were running away from them. It took them awhile to realize that they were
holding large pool noodles for an obstacle course as they approached.
How does this relate to the way we all treat one other? Horses have taught me
that we need to observe and understand the impact not only of our actions, but
of our fears and subtle intentions, too. It’s all energy that we may be
I’m grateful to be involved in such an amazing process of learning from
animals who share the earth with us not just as beasts of burden, but as
eloquent transmitters of knowledge we need to pass on.
I accused him of murder.
I accused him of murdering the chair.
Menopause can take you to some strange places.
I was telling this story to a friend, recounting the day I found my
daughter’s balloon chair collapsed and flattened on the floor. I had just seen
the chair, puffed up and happy, a moment before my husband had entered her room
to drop something off.
I confronted him with the evidence and he looked at me strangely: “I didn’t
touch the chair.”
“You must have. You must have stabbed it with something accidentally.”
“I wasn’t near the chair.”
“You had to have done something. It was fine a minute before.”
“Sunny, honestly, I didn’t do anything to the chair.”
“You’re lying! You murdered the chair! You don’t love Lauren!”
Oh, if this had been the only time I reacted with such sudden, overblown,
out-of-body rage. But no, it happened again a month later. This time I was
entering Wal-Mart. I grabbed a cart and started pushing it down the center
aisle. As I neared the pleasantly nodding greeter, I was consumed by an urge to
run her over.
I managed to restrain myself, but this was my blinking neon message that
something was WRONG with me.
My journey from peri-menopause into menopause lasted over 10 years. I would
have appreciated a road map before I started out so that I could have navigated
a little more successfully. At least the emotional part. For while I was able to
deal pretty well with the tiredness, hot flashes, night sweats and insomnia, I
simply wasn’t prepared for my descent into periods of inexplicable lunacy.
I think my first clue about what was happening to me came when I started to
recognize the look on my husband’s face — his sudden expression of wide-eyed
horror — as he watched my body being snatched from my control. I, the epitome of
sensitive, reasonable, compassionate response, would begin to snarl. I could
feel it happening but I was powerless to do anything about it.
On one level, it actually felt good; I was experiencing the glorious freedom
of no-holds-barred honesty. But then there was the matter, at the same time, of
standing to the side and watching myself screech. That felt awful.
What was happening to me? Why couldn’t I moderate my reactions? I wanted my
Hormone replacement therapy has been a controversial topic for years. It is
not my intent to discuss the variables here, but just to make clear that the
decision of whether to use it or not is a very individual one. Only you can know
what feels right for you.
For me, the answer has definitely been replacement hormones. It’s a quality
of life issue. I had been willing to deal as best I could with the other
factors, but when it comes to hurting the ones I love (and innocent store
employees) that’s where I draw the line.
My friend and I talked about the fact that while there are numerous articles
and books on the “symptoms” of menopause, there is very little written on the
lifestyle alterations that come at this time. Traditionally, menopause has been
seen as the entrance to the crone stage of life – a time of coming to terms with
the aging process; a time of embracing the realities of a changing focus in
I believe that the wisdom that comes with the acceptance of one’s age is
totally worth the trade-offs of youth. I don’t have to give up who I am. If
anything, my life has become richer and more fulfilling than it was 10 years ago
when I still judged myself according to the precepts of those around me.
I really like being 60. There are, of course, adjustments to be made to
physical changes, but I have a feeling that I’ll like being 70, too. After all,
what’s the alternative?
I do wish that I’d had more guidance about this period when I was younger. We
all need role models and mentors to show us that there’s so much more to living
life well than we know about. But now that I’m here, I can be that person for
the women who follow me. I want to share my experiences so that the journey
becomes easier for others.
I want to tell my friends that they’re not (necessarily) going crazy during
these pivotal years. I want to let them know that they’re not alone. I want to
encourage them to speak out and share what’s happening with those who can lend
And I want to reassure them if they’re ever in Wal-Mart and they feel the
urge to flatten that smiling senior citizen, that there’s light and hope for
them at the other end of the aisle.
Last week I received an invitation I would have killed for five years ago.
And I turned it down.
I casually mentioned the invitation on Facebook, and my decision not to
accept it, and the response floored me. I’d expected some people to go, “Nice to
have had the offer!” and that would be it. But many of my friends were incensed
that I’d walked away. “ARE YOU CRAZY?” one email demanded to know.
Well, the answer depends on where you are in your life.
Here’s the story: Last spring I got a call from the Discovery Channel, asking
me if I’d like to be in the data base as a professional organizer for their new
series on hoarders. I said sure, as long as the episode would be shot fairly
close to where I live. The invitation last week was from the show’s producers,
saying they’d found a client in Phoenix and although they knew Phoenix was a
four-hour round trip from my house, I was at the top of their list.
It was certainly an honor to have been asked. I was flattered and
appreciative. But much had transpired since the first contact last May; much in
my head, anyway.
When I had the first conversation, I hadn’t really watched either of the
hoarder shows. Having spent much of my career working in those difficult
environments with very troubled clients, I never thought of the programs as
“entertaining.” But I decided to watch, so I could evaluate what I’d be getting
myself into if I were selected. And it was mighty grim watching.
Hoarders have an illness, and as interesting as it might be to watch their
homes get cleared out, you don’t get to see the whole story. The program is
carefully edited and presented to hold your attention but the actual process is
longer and much more demanding. Serious therapeutic assistance is required for
the client to deal with hoarding obsessions.
So, I’ve been there and done that, and know that I could do it again. But the
question for me was, “Do I WANT to do this again?”
When I was actively building my business and career, the notion of being on
national TV was the carrot that made many sticks tolerable.Everyone dreamed (and
still dreams) about being on Oprah. I made it as far as the Regis show after my
first book on organizing came out, when they were still letting “non-celebrities” on the program. Appearing live with
Regis was a hoot, but the work behind the scenes was murder. I did a
before-and-after reorganization of the producers’ office and because I’m me, I
tried to make the organizational systems match eachindividual. The producers didn’t really care though if the make-over was
genuine. They just wanted “good TV” with nice shots that would make the viewers
I gave them exactly what they wanted, and because one of the guests didn’t
show on the day of taping, they gave me two segments instead of one – one
segment was of the already taped office make-over and one was live with Regis
and his wife, Joy. Regis told me later that it went very well and that I was
“big” (whatever that means).
It took me a week to recover, but the publicity was great and I’m sure it
helped book sales. So fast-forward to last week. Given my past TV success, why
wouldn’t I go for a repeat performance? Because between last spring and last
week, I decided to teach a class on my passion, “Creating Your Personal Legacy”
that combines several of my interests. My class research is cutting-edge, fun
and very consuming. I’m also editing a friend’s epic fantasy novel, and doing
mentoring/coaching and on-line writing.
Bottom-line, my cup is full and happy.
Granted, I could have agreed to do the show for several other reasons – to
help someone who really needs it, to show viewers across the country how I
assist people, and to create publicity for my existing books and any new
projects that I undertake in the future. But honestly, is it worth the huge
exchange of time and energy? (By the way, this isn’t a paid gig.)
For me, now, the answer is a definitive “no”. It’s tempting for sure, but not
at the top of my priority list. And that’s what’s most important. Sometimes we
get to make big choices that demonstrate to us if we’re really ready to walk our
talk — to give up something good for something even better.
Thanks to all my friends who wanted me to keep going for the gold, but I’ve
already found it, right here in my own backyard.
It’s so easy to take people for granted when they live around the corner. But since we’ve been out in Sedona, Arizona, our nearest family members are over 2000 miles away – a little too far for a casual cup of coffee or a sushi lunch.
I’ve been missing that coffee and sushi so this past weekend we traveled to Chapel Hill, North Carolina and points east and south to visit with kids, in-laws, a nephew, and brother and sister-in-law. It was a bit of a whirlwind but totally worth the trip.
I hadn’t spent time alone with my daughter, Lauren, since before her wedding last October (when we were mostly crazed) but somehow we managed to carve out a few hours together on Saturday. It was overcast and drizzly, and it reminded me of some of the moments of quiet connection we were able to share when we both lived in New Jersey.
Those moments were significant because the rest of the time we were down in the trenches, doing battle in the War of the Teenage Years. You may remember those days. They were not easy and respite, when it came, was usually in the form of a sudden realization that the other person was not an alien being but rather someone a bit like you. For a few moments, or a half hour if you were lucky, you’d get to enjoy the peaceful, warm feelings that come with that spontaneous recognition.
Many of these moments were shared when Lauren and I went out for sushi together. From the time she was a five or six, we used to head to our local sushi place when we needed space for some private conversation. We’d split our order of California and rainbow rolls, pour green tea into tiny white cups and know that we were in a safe zone for sharing our feelings. It was an intimate ritual.
So this day we drove to her favorite Japanese restaurant and for the first time in several years were able to share those rolls again – just the two of us. We looked at each other across the table and marveled at how something we once accepted as just a normal part of life had become, over time and great distances, a major event.
Sushi Moments = special connections.
Now that she’s an adult, Lauren has evolved into a person much more like me, and I love to share the things that bring us together. Unbelievably, one of those things is organizing. (I never would have suspected this from the condition of her bedroom when she was growing up.) When we returned from lunch we sat down on her living room floor and went through some folders and notebooks from her college classes.
Connecting with this aspect of her life was riveting. I watched her face while I listened to her reminiscences of her great professors and the not-so-great; her aha! experiences while researching a paper; her wistful recollections of student bonds forged in foreign countries. I’ve found that a big part of connecting is simply bearing witness to the life experiences of another.
And connecting, for me, is the juice of life.
It’s way too easy to become complacent about sushi moments; to assume that people and places will be there forever and to behave accordingly. It’s shockingly simple and sad to let life become a series of weddings and funerals – to let events dictate how you’ll see family and when.
The fact is that sushi moments come about most often because you plan for them. If you desire connection, you need to create the circumstances that allow it to occur. Lauren and I had some terrific sushi moments last weekend because we wanted them and arranged our lives so they could take place. Maybe you have to fly across the country to do that. Or maybe you just have to pick up the phone and invite a certain person to lunch.
Sushi moments can take place on the phone or computer, but in-person is much more satisfying. You can use all of your senses while connecting and see things that you might otherwise miss, especially with older people who might not be as comfortable as you are in a digital world. When you really connect, you’re not multi-tasking. You’re totally present in the moment which is where you should be.
If you can manage it, do it; go out for coffee, eat sushi or organize files, but spend some more time with the folks you’d miss if they were no longer around. It’s one of life’s few indulgences that you’ll never regret.Post a Comment
Do you ever have them? (Do bears poop in the woods?)
Dumb arguments are about little things that in the grand scheme of things should never matter. That’s why they’re dumb. But they do matter when at least one person is tired or annoyed and doesn’t feel like taking the high road and ignoring the dumb issue.
Take my husband Roy’s cheese for example – the cheese he sprinkles on his western omelets. I don’t care for western omelets, but I do like cheese (even though it’s mostly off-limits in my new dietary lifestyle). The other morning he asked me if I had opened up his cheese. I automatically said no because I didn’t remember doing that. So he takes the cheese out of the refrigerator and shows me the plastic clip on it. “You must have opened this because I wouldn’t have put a clip on it.”
“Why wouldn’t you have put a clip on it?” I demanded. “If it’s open, it needs a clip to stay fresh.” “That’s not the point,” he shot back. “The point is whether you opened my cheese.” I don’t remember opening it,” I countered. “But there’s a clip on it!”
You get the picture. Unfortunately I have way too many examples of this.
Every day I watch him eat his meals and leave just a bit on his plate. Always. It’s not like he leaves enough to show that he’s full. He just automatically leaves a little bit and it makes me crazy. I try to ignore it because after all, it’s his plate. But inside I’m screaming, “Don’t you know that there are children starving in Africa?!” Why can’t you just clean the freakin’ plate if you’re that close to finishing?” Obviously he had the less damaged childhood.
But I do realize that these are dumb arguments. They’re minor, and for that I’m grateful, because I remember my first marriage when they weren’t. My ex and I spent years arguing the basics – money, sex, family. We had fundamentally different ways of looking at things and unfortunately punished each other for that. I’d do it differently now if I was able to go back, but I also realize that the outcome would have been the same.
(Dumb arguments are dumb, except when they’re not. Sometimes dumb arguments mask a much deeper frustration that gets played out at a surface level. But those aren’t the kind of dumb arguments that I’m talking about.)
Dumb arguments are funny in retrospect. I remember the day when my father and I debated the best way to open a coconut. I watched in disbelief as he put it on a plate and hit it with a hammer; of course the plate cracked in half. Then he went after it with a hand-drill and the drill bit broke off in the shell. Finally we agreed to just bounce it down the concrete steps outside, and watched it smash open and the milk dribble down the sidewalk… And the afternoon my mother and I raged at each other across the stove over how many cans of water should go into the spaghetti sauce. I miss those times.
Dumb arguments can tell you how comfortable you are with someone. My husband and I started cooking together last year and at first we were both paranoid about chicken – I was afraid that he would overcook it, and he was terrified that it would be under-done. So we agreed where to set the oven timer and watched each other closely to make sure that neither one of us cheated by bumping the timer up or down. Fortunately we’re past that stage and now just argue about how thick to cut the eggplant.
The silliest dumb argument we ever had started out to be major.
It was back in our earlier days when we both “read into” each other’s positions. The argument was about an iguana, and whether my son, AJ, could buy one. For some reason I assumed that an iguana was a smallish-size lizard and would therefore fit nicely into AJ’s room. Roy wisely decided to check out iguanas and went to PetSmart to talk with someone knowledgeable. There he was warned that iguanas grow to be large and can be very dangerous if you get in the way of a whipping tail.
He came home and told me in no uncertain terms that we would not be getting an iguana. Picturing in my mind just a little pet for AJ, I concluded that Roy really didn’t love my son. And when I continued to argue, he threw up his hands and told me that I was being totally unreasonable and walked out of the room. I’m not sure what would have happened next if Roy hadn’t called me to come downstairs to the computer. There, on the screen, was a photo of a full-size iguana. “Oh my God!” I screamed. “We can’t get that!”
So tell me, what dumb arguments are you having these days?Post a Comment
I’ve never been a girly girl. (Except for that brief time during my teens when I joined my peers in the “uniforms” of the day – blouse with Peter Pan collar accented with circle pin, buttoned-down cardigan, skirt with matching knee-high socks and Bass weejuns, or a Danskin top, mini-skirt with patterned stockings and elastic headband, white lipstick and blue eye shadow. Oy.)
So when my friend invited me to “high tea” at a local tea shop featuring live jazz I wasn’t sure. I just couldn’t picture myself holding a delicate teacup with my pinky raised.
Surprisingly, the food was good. Not watercress and crackers as I had feared, but rather a full menu ranging from a variety of delightful tea sandwiches to mini-quiches, scones with clotted cream and truffles. It was deliciously decadent.
The local musicians were excellent. And the tea! I had never tasted White Ambrosia and the experience opened me up to an amazing variety of tea drinks that I hadn’t known about.
But the best part was the pure fun of it all. Here we were in the middle of the afternoon, being served superb little treats and listening to the soulful songs of Billie Holliday and Norah Jones. Now this was something worth sharing!
The next High Tea and Jazz was scheduled for the following month and was advertised as a Mad Hatter Tea to celebrate the opening of the film “Alice in Wonderland” that day. We asked three friends who didn’t know each other to join us and were met with Mad Hatter hats at our table and the services of a face painter. We donned the hats and paint and the fun quotient ratcheted right up. We found ourselves knocking back cups of tea like they were shots of Jack Daniels. There was most definitely a buzz.
The month after that we invited two more friends and had the best afternoon yet. We were laughing so hard that we were afraid the management would ask us to leave. Our conversation was especially engrossing because we each had our tea leaves read by a very good psychic who was there for the Tea.
High Tea was becoming much more than a monthly tea party. (And how annoying that the name of our gathering has been usurped politically!)
But a tea party it is and not your grandmother’s tea party either. Have you ever been with a group of people when the energy going around is off the charts? Where the connections are intense and compassionate and non-judgmental?
The following month the tea shop didn’t offer a High tea afternoon. So one member of our group opened her house to us and prepared a beautiful setting for sharing our own sandwiches, fruit, pastries, champagne and tea. When we admonished her for going to so much trouble, she replied that she loved doing it because we seldom take the time to make things special for ourselves and that we need MORE of this. She reminded us that we get so caught up in our routines and the demands of everyday living that we don’t set aside the space for what obviously gives us such joy.
It’s true and we all knew it.
High Tea gives us an excuse to pamper ourselves alongside the people we care about. It allows us to go deep in our discussions and yet still be able to laugh like we seldom do in a given day. We aren’t constrained by typical cocktail chit-chat, yet we still get to enjoy the finger foods and music. Most significantly, we’re actively supporting each other in wherever we happen to be each month.
It’s essential to hang out with positive people – people who are realistic optimists, have a healthy sense of humor and who enjoy being part of an uplifting group. I know that when I spend an afternoon with these ladies (whose ages range from 53 to 78) I feel terrific about myself and about life.
It can be tough to eliminate negative people from your surroundings but if you can avoid exposure to those who habitually bitch and moan, do so immediately. The difference in your energy level will be astounding. Choose to be with individuals who are able to enjoy who you really are and who bring out the best in you.
High Tea is definitely a treat but it doesn’t really matter what activity you engage in. Whether it’s bowling or going out for karaoke, if the activity feels special and you’re with people you enjoy and respect, it can give you a shot in the arm and the laughs you need to get through the rest of the week.Post a Comment
Take one full moon. Add a piece of tagboard, one glue stick, a pair of scissors and a few favorite magazines. What do you have?
A remarkable recipe for fun and sixth sense creativity.
I participated in a dreamboard telecircle last weekend and experienced a wonderful return to the magic days of kindergarten. Do you remember the joy of cutting up paper and pictures and pasting them all together with that thick white paste that came in a jar? It usually turned out to be a lumpy mess but we didn’t know any better and loved the sight and smell of our “art”.
And it was art. It was art that came from our five-year old souls and was totally authentic.
When was the last time you created from the soul? And I don’t mean just playing together with your children or grandchildren, but rather doing it for yourself.
I’ve created visionboards before, but they’re much more intentional, i.e., knowing what it is you want to bring into your life and displaying that in a collage. Dreamboards draw from the energy of whatever moon it is you’re working with, and therefore rely more on the intuition of the moment.
All you need are the above named supplies and an hour or two to yourself. Leaf through the magazines and tear out any images or words that speak to you. You don’t even have to know why they speak to you – maybe you’re attracted, maybe you’re intrigued. Part of what’s fascinating about dreamboards is that their real power lies in what is revealed when the board is complete.
Glue the images down in whatever arrangement is pleasing to you. You can completely cover your board or leave white space in between the pictures. And, if you like, you can add embellishments in the form of stickers, glitter or crayons. Then sit back and contemplate your art.
I was surprised and actually delighted by what showed up on my dreamboard. My central image is a picture of a woman who appears to be flying. Underneath that picture are the words, “breaking the rules”. I think I cut those out because I would like to get out of my little boxes more often.
I have numerous pictures of candles and light; I love them. There is a lot of yellow and orange and turquoise. Steamed crabs that remind me of Baltimore. A picture of a bed with a colorful quilt and pillows under a window overlooking the ocean. Chairs by a creek. Images of summer.
My favorite item is a photo of a blue-footed booby in the Galapagos Islands. Next to him I glued the words, “feel the earth. touch the sky.”The bird makes me laugh and I like the idea of being grounded while I reach up.
I think what amazed me the most were the pictures I cut out of little girls. At first I assumed that they represented an unacknowledged yearning for my first grandchild, but after studying my board for awhile, I realized that the children were actually me – my own little girl inside. Creating the dreamboard had let her come out to play.
I seem to like mostly images of nature, but I’ve seen other boards full of fashion, food and home design. (I’m sure that’s at least partly due to the magazines each of us select). It’s interesting to note how boards change from one full moon to the next but perhaps the most fascinating exercise is to look back and see what you’ve manifested over time. Our telecircle leader told us that she put together a puzzling dreamboard back in January that depicted various aspects of travel. In the following months she was asked to participate in several distant workshops and conferences that had not been on her radar at the start of 2010.
Regardless of your interpretation, it’s simply good fun to indulge your creative side in this way. You may want to make it more of a social event and ask friends or family to join you. Children, especially, seem to love the idea of constructing a dreamboard and their choices of pictures can give you insight into what’s significant to them at this point in time.
When your dreamboard is complete, put it in a place where you can look at it frequently. It will probably make you smile each time you see it but more than that, it will remind you that these things matter to you and that your intuitive self can teach you something.
Maybe it will also remind you that your “inner artist” needs tending. Discover who’s in there these days and rediscover yourself.Post a Comment
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