Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Listen to the Voices

My niece sent me this link to her singing in YouTube. I wasn't familiar with the song. I know I am biased, but I think her voice and singing is better than the original. I know she needs more work on the presentation and performance. And I think the guitar overpowers her. But what do you think? If you just listen to the voices, don't you think Caryn's is better? It's OK to be honest.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Life Has Its Funny Little Ups and Downs

The title of this post, Life Has Its Funny Little Ups and Downs, is the name of a 1953 song from a movie called I Love Melvin. It has been my favorite song since I was 4 years old. I've never seen the movie. My dad has this really nice set of 45s of all of the songs from the movie. He obviously pointed this song out to me because it was a kid singing and he thought I'd like it. He was right.

For years and years, despite the fact that I knew the song had originally made it's way to me through Dad I thought of this song as my own private discovery. I didn't realize that he really knew it. So I was unbelievably and pleasantly surprised when in college, I realized he not only knew the song, he knew all the words just like I did. And he really liked it--for all the same reasons I did. My dad's a really positive and optimistic guy--by choice. It's a trait I try to model.

I've looked for recordings of the song for a long time. Today, working on some stories, I thought about it again. And, surprise! Found it on Youtube. Dad, this is for you. Sorry I didn't have the foresight and sense to hang on to those original records.

Here's the original trailer.

Here's are a song that obviously didn't strike me as a 4 year old, but that I find delightful now!

Where Did You Learn to Dance

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Found: The Starbucks Quote I Sought (for Braja)

A week or so ago, I was trying to find a quote from a Starbucks cup. I saw it again this week, but kept forgetting to write it down before I tossed the cup. Today, hearing about Braja's tragic accident, I was inspired to seek it again. This time I found it. It seems appropriate for our inspirational friend on the other side of the world. In 15 minutes (noon on Sat); there will be world prayers and a moment of silence for Braja, her husband, and driver. You can send your good thoughts and wishes for recovery any time.

The Way I See It #21

People need to see that, far from being an obstacle,
the world’s diversity of languages, religions and traditions
is a great treasure, affording us precious opportunities to
recognize ourselves in others.
Youssou N’Dour Musician

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Friends Back When?

Do you ever wonder if people you love now would have appealed to you when you were a kid? I do. Especially when there is an age gap between us.

Like Hubby and I are 17 years apart. Would he have felt some kind of special connection to me if he'd met me when I was 7 or 8, let's say and he was 24 or 25? (I don't mean in any obscene way!) I've certainly met people and thought, if he or she was just 20 years older. . . (not that I don't start enjoying them at the age/level they are. . . but the give and take is different).

Anywho, the point is, I don't think Puppy Yeats and I would have been playmates if she'd been a "kid"when I was one. Why? Because she LOVED her field day--her last day of puppy training. I would have tried to stay home sick!

Course, this doesn't mean I find her any less fluffy, cuddly, and affectionate now!


But I'm not much into swinging. . .

Monday, March 9, 2009

Success! Did a Tight Edit. . Next Step?

This weekend Hubby read through my short story The Winter Mom Sold Don Quixote and really liked my latest revisions. I think it is much improved. There are a few nit picky things to revise again, and then, the next big step (besides sending it to my Dad who read an earlier draft at X-mas) is to look for places to submit it for publication. Big step. . .

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Searching for a Normal Life--I Think. . .

This mug was a leftover at an old job I had. When I found it in the cabinet, the message spoke to me so I started using it. When I left the company, I didn't feel like the mug was mine, so I left it. But I missed it, so I asked a friend to ship it to me. We are are still together.

It's an odd saying that always gets a chuckle when people see it, "I know this sounds strange but all I want is a normal life."

What is my definition of a normal life you ask? Well, it's:

  • Working a 9 to 5 job instead of a 9 to 7:30 job and then more work from home after.
  • Eating dinner with my husband
  • Eating breakfast at home, not at my desk
  • Packing my lunch
  • Eating my lunch on, call me crazy, a lunch break instead of at my desk
  • Having--don't let my reckless abandon scare you away--um, both days of the weekend off
  • Being able to get away from work to keep doctor's appointments
  • Leaving work in time to make it to an evening exercise class
  • Talking about something other than where I work when I meet new people
  • Having the opportunity to have time away from work to meet new people
  • Not feel depressed
  • Be able to get down on the floor and stand up easily

For me the normal life message is all about finding balance. It's not a new place for me to be in to put work first and work all the time. Hubby does this too. We are not good for each other in this way. The good news is we are passionate about our work, and I really like my job--it's very creative and interesting (not so sure that Hubby likes his). And I'm glad I have a profession vs just some job that gives me money to live on. But there has to be more. I've learned from leaving jobs that things that seemed really really important at the time, I can't even remember now (when I look back at old journal entries).

My best success at putting work into balance was back in 1999--10 years ago. My grandfather had died in the fall the year before. At his funeral, I was really moved by how many people loved him. Loved him in a very simple way. Because he was just nice. Neighbors across the street and 2 houses beside him came to his funeral, his nurses did, his doctors, people from his church. I know; he was dead; he didn't know. But his connection with people, his influential circle, his warmth, made an impression on me. I wanted to make my life matter more.

The spring after his death, my 12 year old dog became ill and we made the decision to put her to sleep. I was racked with guilt that I hadn't been paying attention to her; hadn't noticed how much weight she had lost; hadn't taken her to the vet quickly enough. I had been really busy at work.

One week after our dog died, Hubby's dad died. He's always been closer to his dad, but we spoke and saw him very infrequently. Suddenly, Hubby started making an effort to connect much more routinely with his mom--the parent he had many more mixed feelings about.

Losing things you love at least temporarily makes you become aware of the precious things in life. Making connections, spending time with the people you're connected to simply because it feels good.

Hubby & I decided to take more charge of our lives. We joined Weight Watchers, we walked together every day--often twice a day. I started walking with a good friend at lunch. We made a point after walking to still sit together to eat (the lunch I'd packed)--for just 15 min at a table in my office but away from my desk. I set routine hours at work and delegated work to keep them. I determined I would only work long hours for specific short term projects--where there was a clear end in sight.

All these good habits have fallen by the wayside. But yesterday was my grandfather's birth date. A marker. Time to reclaim some normalcy.

I have never been a real normal person. I have a weird sense of humor; I talk too loud; I laugh loud; I say what I think with a gush of energy; I spit out my philosophies to people like I'm clearly right and they should adore me for my wisdom; I emote my love for folks when most stay quiet. I assume if I tell people what I want that they will give it to me. As an example, last week I waved goodbye (a big over my hand wave) and yelled, "bye!" to 2 colleagues as they left a conference room early for another meeting. They looked at me like I was insane--whoops. That is me.

I have never followed trends well. I have never seen Lost, or Survivor, or 24, or House. I didn't recognize the name of the actor who emceed the Oscars recently--I still don't know it--I think he plays some monster character, some transformed special power character, a vampire or werewolve maybe?

My dad discouraged us from being part of the crowd. Neither my sister nor I ever owned a Barbie doll. He didn't let us buy trendy clothes. He discouraged wearing makeup or having our nails done or ready glamour magazines. I wouldn't recognize Prada if it fell on me. I can't recognize most of the car emblems.

Mostly I'm proud of this social independence. Sometimes, though, I've wondered if I'd allowed myself to scoff a bit less at girls who did their nails or wore matching cute clothes if I would have felt less like a Misfit, a bit more empowered and eaten a bit less to stop the pain of feeling so other. (Because normal girls do worry about what they eat, and don't overeat, and do reap the benefits of exercise, and do cook dinner and do get up when the alarm goes off, and do make the bed everyday.)

The life I live now still makes me other. I'm mostly alone working those hours. I'll let you know if I'm wrong, but I don't think it's going to award me any huge raise or award or promotion. Not at this corporation. It's not the same as when I was in entrepreneurial world.

So I think I do, I think I do, I think I do, I say clicking the side of my pink mug. . .I think, maybe, just maybe, all I want is a normal life.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Last Night's Dream Analysis & Interpretation

Last night I dreamed about my former but much beloved therapist in Boston. We'll call him BBT for beloved Boston therapist. Here's what happened in the dream, in that disconnected dream like sequence, followed by my analysis (symbols) and interpretation (feelings).

Act 1, Scene 1: BBT loaned me his apt to stay in in Boston; this was just "known"; I don't recall "seeing" an apt.

Act 1, Scene 2: I was going down a supposed street in Boston and marveling over this church steeple that had disppeared up in a lighted fog. I wished I had my camera. It was beautiful. Everything became covered in fog; it was hard to see anything. I felt so happy that BBT has loaned me this great apt. where I could walk to things so easily.

Act 2, Scene 1: I am in a bookstore (same street). These flower puzzles are on sale, and I am looking at them and a few random things from X-mas. There are pieces of paper taped to the wall that show the discounts on the puzzles, but I can't see them clearly when I look. I don't know if I want them without knowing their price. Then a sales person removes the piece of paper completely.

Act 2, Scene 2: I lie down on a nearby sales display and pull a blanket over me; I don't know if I actually sleep. I get stuck in the blanket and can't get up; can't get my shoulder out of the tight blanket that is holding me down. I feel embarrassed.

Act 2, Scene 3: I find a sales person to ask about the puzzle prices. She tells me to wait a minute and goes to have a conversation with another salesperson in foreign language. This pisses me off. I walk away.

Act 3, Scene 1 : I am on the street looking for someplace to eat dinner. I end up on a brick street on the other side of the church in Act 1. There is this commotion in front of me -- a bald man comes tumbling out this set of double doors, tumbles down stairs, and rolls in the street to the corner. I can see he has blood on his head. I walk on the other side of the street past him to the end of street, and turn around and pull out my cell phone to call 911.

Act 3, Scene 2: The operator wants to know the names of the streets I am on. At first I can't see street signs, but then I see them--kind of knocked askew, leaning. I walk up to them, and try to read the name of the street to her, but it is so dirty I can only make out some of the letters. I see the cross street sign, but before I can completely grasp the name, it turns into a screen with a TV advertisement running on it. I look back and the bald man jumps up and runs away.

Act 3, Scene 3: I walk back to where the man was lying and more men come out of doors fighting. I notice about 5 people watching as they sit on a bench against the wall of nearby building. I am now unsure whether the fighting is somehow staged -- is it real or not?

Act 4, Scene 1: I am in a cab with BBT. I want to touch him as we laugh and talk, but his friend sits between us and I can't reach him. We talk about where I can eat.

Act 4, Scene 2: I am in a kind of club with BBT, the friend from the cab, and another friend (perhaps a lover?) of BBT; a show is getting ready to start. We are sitting on a bench against a wall. Again, people separate me from BBT, but he is being completely nutty and funny and a bit lewd and laughing and having a grand time. His cab friend wants me to calm him down. But I am so happy that he is happy; I say he is fine.

My Own Analysis: Where It Came From: What Things Symbolize
Act 1: Picture op: I've been talking about how I haven't even been able to open the box of the Photoshop Elements I got for Christmas because I've been so busy with work, so I think the photo op thing came from that (plus BBT is a photographer).

Act 2: The time sink and unsureness about buying the puzzle: I think this might be a symbol of my own indecision about moving forward with trying to get into a plan to be healthy. The fact that it's a flower puzzle symbolizes spring--it feels like I missed the opportunity to act in winter. (I realize a whole quarter year has gone by since I last exercised and ate healthfully.) The whole act of doing it feels like a puzzle that I need to put together. Do I want it or not? What is it going to cost me? The whole anxiety makes me want to sleep and withdraw, but that keeps me embarrassingly trapped. (Plus, on another literal note, I've been having shoulder pain again, which was a problem I was in PT for at the same time when I saw BBT. And my shoulder hurts when I lie down). I'm annoyed that no one can make the decision for me. (I blame others for my indecision?)

Act 3: The supposed emergency that may be false: I think this is a symbolism of my job right now. I decided this when I was thinking about it and how the TV ad popped up on street sign--a commercial distraction/interruption. (Also, on a literal front, BBT knew I have this geographical problem and anxiety from it, an he brought me street maps of Boston that I carried with me when I walked to and from our sessions. Plus, literally, I've been reviewing videos for work and ads run first.) Everything seems urgent and serious, and it it gets me all responsive, but it could be less serious than it all appears--only with the economy and all--I am unsure about how to react.

Act 4: The ride in the cab and the club scene with BBT having unabandoned fun and overt flirtation: I think on a literal front: I'm riding in a cab with BBT because that is how I used to get to my therapy sessions with him (sometimes I walked, but it was a long way). I want to be his friend, but maybe it's not appropriate; he remains separate from me. On the flirtation & fun part, it could be a literal interpretation--he is gay--but when I thought about my reaction to it--let him have fun--I think BBT was actually symbolizing me--I want to let loose a bit, be more comfortable and accepting and less anxious about the physical side of me. I was telling myself it was OK.

My Dream Interpretation: The Feelings: The Lasting Impression
I awakened feeling so grateful for BBT. Thank you for giving me a place to dump all my tears and feelings as hubby went through cancer and my job tanked. Thank you for being so warm and caring to me when I needed it so much. Yes, it was your job, but not everyone would have taken that approach. I really really needed a forum and some acceptance and TLC and you gave it to me (with very little touching--but those few hugs were great! ;)).

BBT, your "dream counsel" reminds me to not get detoured by others' fire drills and make believe crises--to get on my track and stay there, feel free to have some fun without worry--those who love me will understand and support me.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Getting Comfortable With Discomfort Or Committing to Transform Distress to Success

Just a week ago, I was talking about how training our Puppy Yeats to get through her frustration was a tact I thought I could use myself—whoever was supposed to train me in this failed! So I guess it was having this thought in mind that made the essay by Mike Martinez on Sandrelle’s site Keeping the Pounds Off so eye-catching to me.

In his essay, Why Haven’t You Reached Your Goals? (scroll down past the bookshelf, Sandrelle has a lot of core stuff that never moves at the top of her site) Martinez expands on the concept of getting comfortable with being uncomfortable. I think it’s a concept I must master to succeed at eating healthfully and exercising.

He posits: Anything can be achieved if the proper steps are taken. And the kicker is that many times we are fully aware of the necessary steps, yet we don’t take them. He claims the reason is that we fear being uncomfortable—that with each goal, comes a point of uncertainty and distress. Because in the process of doing things haven’t done, we have have to get through feeling uncomfortable. His solution?

. . . we have two directions in which we may go. You can move forward and exercise your will, withstanding the feelings
of discomfort. Or you can abandon the action, thereby stepping back into your comfort zone.
. . .The key to realize here is that those uncomfortable feels are only temporary. In some cases they may be quick flashes of distress. . .Your ability to push through, to continue on beyond those feelings is the deciding factor on whether you reach
your goal or you stay where you are.

It's like what I was talking about in trying to ride a bike again after a long time, it's awkward! But as Martinez points out, once you see it, your best choice is to move forward because as he explains: The paradox is that your current comfort zone is not all that comfortable.

So we have to choose--discomfort with our current fat selves, or a a temporary discomfort to get us to our goals. He concludes: Commit to transform distress into success. Get comfortable with being uncomfortable and your results in life will exceed your wildest imagination.

I got more inspiration from reading an article about Liza Minnelli in the Parade magazine this weekend. A callout on the page read, "I was taught never to give up." I thought that was interesting coming from a woman whose mom committed suicide.

But in the essay, she talks about recovering from a serious illness and having doctors tell her that she would probably never walk again and she thought to herself 'Liza, what do you best?' And the answer came: rehearse! And so, I literally rehearsed my way back. I looked on my recovery as a performance--the performance of my life, which it literally was."

She advises us to banish fear and shame from our lives. And she lives by not allowing herself to think about problems with addiction as a moral failure. I find that inspiring.

I, like my dad, have always kind of always shunned the disease model of obesity and alcoholism. Caling them diseases can lead people to remove all self-responsibility. But there is a sometimes a fine line between taking responsibility and completely demeaning yourself for your problem.

And on that idea of the the total angst and powerlessness and self-hatred that our problems can lead us to feel, I must recommend you read the recent poem at Stages of Change; it's very heartfelt and powerful. (If you are squeamish about the "f" word, you probably shouldn't go and you should stop now before reading my comment below.)

Here's the comment I left him about one of my favorite lines.

Many times right before I overeat, I hear this voice saying (or am I saying the words?)--fuck it. Fuck them. I never know who I am speaking to. I just feel annoyed or spent or somehow powerless. People have told me food has no power; cannot chase me or hold me down. But I love your lines: The want for you clouds my need to act.Desires to move and change crumble in your hands Why not personify it? I'm going to try it out. . . try saying it--fuck you Food--and turn my head. . I'm going to try it.