Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Let Your Flag Fly. . .

Ever since I was little, I have loved music.
I love to listen to music.
I love to go to concerts.
I love to sing.
I love to play music on the piano (I even played the organ when I was younger).
Music is a source of joy for me.
It is also the way I cope with stress, anxiety, sadness, and every other emotion I experience.
I use music to convey my feelings that I cannot find words for.
Many times, if a friend is struggling or I want to tell them something that I can't find words for - I will send them the link to a song.
I love music.
Music is a part of me.
Music is ALWAYS playing in my car and in my home.
I have smacked people's hands and scolded them for turning down my music.
Heaven forbid they should turn it off!!!
I budget the purchase of music into my monthly budget!
I love music.
When I was College age, I was living in a tourist town and working for a couple who owned a motel.
They set me up in a motorhome so I could have my own "space".
It was a great arrangement until they took away my electrical supply.
I still had lights and heat - but I lost my ability to play my music on my "boom box". (Remember those? LOL)
I sunk into a bit of a depression.
I was lost.
I had a hard time functioning and when I was alone in my space, I would experience an overwhelming sadness.
At that point in my life, I had a major "a-ha" moment as to how important music was in my life.
It was not a "like" . . . It was a requirement!
Fast forward to present day. ..
As you know, I have recently moved.
I am in a new neighborhood and am establishing new routines.
My daughter and I made a major decision when we set up our new place.
We opted to not put a television in our main living space.
We both have tv's in our rooms, and I do enjoy watching a movie in the evening every once in a while.
But we didn't want the energy of the tv dominating our living space.
We wanted that space for talking and relaxing.
And because of this . . .the first thing I do when I go into my kitchen/living space, is turn on music.
I've never thought anything about it. . .
until a friend had visited for a couple days at the beginning of the month.
My friend (who had never "stayed" with me before) commented that his favorite thing about being in my home was that the music is always on.
Hmmmm .... well, of course it is.
It's a requirement!
And not only is the music on - I am usually singing right along with it.
Rather loudly.
I am not shy about singing to my music in my home. (Sorry neighbors).
But singing loudly has snapped me out of melancholy moods, sad moments, and boosts my happiness quotient.
So why wouldn't I sing?
Music playing in my home is almost as much of a requirement as . . .electricity!
Recently I was out of town helping a friend move.
There were several of us who had gathered together for the weekend to lend a hand.
We were loading up my car with items to be donated.
My keys were in the ignition, the music was playing loudly, and the car doors were open.
Oh - and we were in a parking area where there was a lot of traffic.
A great song came up on the CD player - one of those songs that you just can't help moving to when you hear it.
I started dancing.
Then the person I was working with started dancing.
We had a dance party right in the middle of the parking lot with strangers looking on.
Some laughed. Some looked at us like we were "freaks".
I have a dog.
I no longer have a yard.
This means that I must, without fail, take my dog on a couple walks a day.
We have a couple very short walks - and two long walks.
And it is just me and him.
I am creating my new walking path.
And as always - music is a part of my walk.
I plug in my headphones, turn it up loud enough to block out the world and walk the dog.
And I always find myself singing . . .out loud.
In my old neighborhood, I walked in a school yard and was almost always alone.
So no one noticed my singing and dancing to the phantom music that only I could hear in my headphones.
But I walk in a neighborhood now. The other day, I was walking and singing - at full volume- and I looked up and saw a few of my new neighbors looking at me with strange looks.
I felt a bit like a "freak".
I made a comment about it on FaceBook and a friend told me to "Let your freak flag fly high!".
I love that statement.
And I love flying my freak flag . . .sometimes.
But usually, I am very shy about it.
Until recently. I am trying to not worry about what others think.
If it makes me happy . . .I need to do it!
But it got me to thinking. . .
We all come into this world with certain talents, abilities, passions and drives.
Some passions, talents and drives develop based on our environment, friends and the things we are exposed to.
I KNOW that I came into this world with a passion for the arts - especially music.
We may take lessons to develop those talents - we may explore and spend time on them every day.
We become proud of them.
And then . . .
we hide them.
We find ourselves feeling self-concious if we sing out loud at the top of our lungs while walking our dog.
We worry what the neighbors will think.
I wonder - I pay money to go see certain musicians play on a stage and feel honored and excited to be part of the audience.
But what would I think if I saw them singing out loud while walking down the street - especially if I didn't "know" who it was?
Would I recognize the talent and stop to enjoy?
Or would I think they were strange?
Would I honor the fact that they were "flying their freak flag?"
Or would I look away and try not to make eye contact?
What would the world be like if we felt more comfortable "flying our flag?"
I think - no, I believe - it would be a much better place . . .
we would hear more music, experience more dancing, engage in more laughter and see more color.
We would live in a world that was full of people who were passionate about performing the mundane tasks of everyday life because they could openly express themselves.
And because they could openly express themselves in a way that brought them joy,
it only stands to reason that we would all be happier.
And that cannot be a bad thing.
So here is my decision -
I am flying my flag . . .high and proud!
Or least I am going to try. .
I am going to do my best to let my passions for life be seen on a daily basis.
So if you happen to see a dark haired woman out walking her big, curly dog and singing at the top of her lungs - rather than looking at her like she is strange -
why don't you join in and sing with her?

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Step Right Up . . .

A little handmade circus performer that lives in my living room.
Warning - this post could get a bit whiny.
If you choose to continue to read, just know that you were warned!
Step right up and see the greatest show on earth.
She can juggle mutiple balls in the air while tap dancing, all with a smile on her face!
When I was in college, I met a friend who was one of the funniest people I have ever known.
Quick witted and very talented.
Besides a quick wit - he could juggle.
Really well.
Multiple items at a time.
One day he led a class for several of us that were fascinated with the idea of juggling.
He distributed small bean filled balls - one to each of us, and we practiced throwing them straight up in the air and then having them land back in our hand.
Up. Down. Up. Down.
Don't look at the balls - instead, feel the weight and throw by intuition.
Then we began to toss them from one hand to the other - still a single ball.
Up and over. Up and over.
Again - don't look.
Use intuition.
This was a little more difficult for me, but I soon got the hang of it.
No problem.
Then we added another ball and tried to have them pass in the air - tossing them simultaneously.
Yeah - that didn't work so well for me.
A juggler I was not and I decided to accept that simple fact right then and there.
I would never be a juggler.
Until I became wife and mother and business owner and artist and friend and volunteer and and and...
In fact, at that point,  I got really good at juggling.
At least as far as anyone who saw me was concerned.
I can juggle with the best of them.
For the last 5 years, I have become an expert juggler.
While still married, I would work my full time day job, come home and run my art business, do art festivals and shows on the weekends, continute to do volunteer work through my church, answer the call of need from friends and family, host get togethers and family events and holidays and on and on.
My husband acted as the stage manager of my little operation - working behind the scenes.
There were details that I knew he would just take care of.
Then the world as I knew it changed dramatically and he resigned as the stage manager and stepped out of the picture.
So my stage manager partner was gone,
yet I was still trying to perform my juggling act as if nothing had changed.
I still went to my day job every day from 8-5.
I still showed up and sold art at art festivals and shows.
I still filled my orders.
I still hosted family events.
But I had added new balls to my juggling routine -
things that my husband had managed were now my full responsibility.
So, I worked more props into my juggling routine.
And I kept smiling - as far as the audience could see.
And I am still trying to keep up the facade.
The facade that I can do it all by myself.
That I can keep all of the various juggling balls in the air at the same time and never drop any.
And yes - let's throw in a spontaneous tap dance here and there.
I'll tap dance around my emotions and tell everyone I am just fine and it's no big deal.
I was raised in theatre.
The show MUST go on.
No matter what . . .
Well I have a confession.
I have started to drop some balls lately.
OK - the honest confession -
I have dropped a lot of balls lately.
I have tripped on my feet and forgotten the steps to my tap dance routine.
And I have been beating myself up for it.
My stage make-up is smudged and I'm having a hard time smiling for the audience.
It is so difficult to admit when we have reached our limit.
By admitting that, I feel as if I have failed -
and I can't accept failure at this point.
The irony here is this-
by not admitting that my limit has been reached, I am insuring failure.
My family pays the price with a cranky person.
My business pays the price because my work isn't what it should be and deadlines are not met.
Promises are not kept.
My emotions become raw and fragile.
I want to resign from the circus and not come back ever again.
My friend - the juggler - knew exactly how many items he was capable of juggling at a time.
He knew that if he wanted to perform a clean routine and not drop his props all over the place,
he would have to limit how many he kept in the air at a time.
He never exceeded that limit.
So here is my a-ha moment for this week...
My limit has been reached.
This realization came as a result of a slip and slide backward.
I was beginning to feel strong again - and I picked up an extra juggling prop, and it caused everything to come crashing down around me...
Physically, mentally and emotionally.
After beating myself up for slipping backwards -
I have forgiven myself and I have decided to make some healthy changes.
I will not be adding anything more to my world -
that means committments, obligations and/or things that demand my time and focus.
In fact - I will be removing a committment or two.
I am removing a person or two - those that want to take but not give back.
If I choose to add something- it will not be decided upon easily and it means I will remove something else.
I will allow myself the right to say "no thank-you".
I will allow myself to say "that will not work for me at this time".
I will commit to myself that I will not feel the need to justify my needs to others.
And I will ask for help when needed.
Because every good circus performer needs a backstage crew to make sure that the show can run smoothly.
So here is to finding some new balance in my life.
I still want to be a juggling performer - but I plan on making sure that I limit my props to a more manageable number.
Because every performer wants to give the very best performace possible.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Do the Hustle . . .

Five, six, seven, eight . . .
Step, ball change, step, step...
Dance. Choreography. Routines.

I spent a lot of time in musical theater rehearsals and in dance classes growing up.
I spent countless hours stretching at a barre.
I learned ballet and jazz and modern and tap.
I did not have a favorite.
I learned to dance the charleston, the hustle, the boot scootin' boogie and just about every other dance trend you can imagine.
I loved it all.

While in high school, I met a friend.
He was a little overweight and not very "cute".
He was considered a little odd.
He didn't really "fit" in.
He was teased sometimes by his peers.
But he was kind and we became friends.
Really great friends.

We discovered that we shared some important common interests - music and dance.
He had an amazing music collection on albums.
Remember those? Vinyl!
I had a tape player.
I would give him blank tapes - he would record his albums for me.
And then we would go find an empty room at the school, or at our church or . . .whereever.
We would drag along a boom box (remember those?) and some of the music tapes.
And we would crank up the music and dance.

On the dance floor - 
he became a different person.
He was Fred Astaire. I was Ginger Rogers.
We would be gliding around in our jeans and athletic shoes - but I imagined that he was in a top hat and tuxedo and I was in a ball gown.
He knew every kind of dance imaginable - 
We would waltz.
We would swing.
We even (I must confess) did disco. 

He was a great leader. 
I learned how to follow his lead by the simplest of touches on my back.
We would do spins, and lifts, and dips, and all sorts of tricks. 
I trusted him. He trusted me. 
I think today of some of the throws he would do with me, and I can't believe that we were that brave.
At times, I felt suspended high in the air above him.
We developed an unspoken language.
When we were 17 we entered a talent contest. We danced.
We didn't even have a set routine - we worked better if we were spontaneous.
We danced.
We won.

Occasionally I attended social dances at my school or my church. 
At these dances, if my partner of choice was not there, I would dance with others.
Very often, when I attended these dances, I wasn't asked to dance very often. I would stand on the wall - yes, it is true - I was a bit of a wallflower.
Often the ones who did ask me to dance were not great partners.
They struggled to know what to do with their feet, where to put their hands, where to look - 
we lacked . . .communication.
I didn't enjoy it.
When the song ended, I would thank them and try to escape as quickly as possible.
And then I would wait and look for my friend - the wonderful dance partner.
After my children were born, I pretty much stopped dancing.
Or did I?

I feel like I have been involved in a dance of sorts for the last several months.
This dance has had all sorts of partners-
the unknown, fear, sadness.
These partners have not been very good leaders.
They are unpredictable and are poor at communicating. 
They leave me feeling lost and frustrated and very, very insecure with my abilities.

I have also danced with the partners of happiness, hope, peace and joy.
I prefer dancing with these partners.
I trust these partners - they help me to feel confident and special and in charge of my life.
They are the partners that are encouraging me to chase me dreams and to achieve a new level of life that I never thought possible.
And because these partners are all about building confidence in me - 
they are trusting ME to take the lead.

The bad dance partners are still going to come and go - just like in those social dances of my youth.
But I don't have to spend more than one song with them.
I thank them for the dance- and make my escape.
And then - I go and look for my favorite partners to finish the night out with.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013


First of all . . .may I just express my thrill.
Because of a readers comments, I tried doing this through Firefox and SUCCESS!
I was able to upload a photo. 
Whew! One less thing to stress over. LOL

The statement in this piece is near and dear to my heart.

A little walk down memory lane . . .
My dad was in sales for as long as I can remember.
He was self-employed for many of his working years.
Tried his hand at a few businesses - all related to his area of specialty, which was insurance and financial planning. 
Some of the businesses failed.- some didn't.
But he was a hard worker and tenacious.
And in the end - he was successful.
He took care of his family and his wife and still does to this day.

He instilled an incredibly strong work ethic in each of his children.
We all were expected to do chores with no allowance - or payback was a warm, wonderful home to grow up in and no lack of food to eat. 
He taught us that being a member of a family was a group effort and he would pay us the day that he got paid for his chores around the house.
He kept our yard beautiful.
We had a huge garden that fed us and my summers were spent canning with my parents.
He loved and still does love my mother with all of his heart. 

He taught us, his children, to follow our dreams.
He taught us that we had the power to learn and work at anything that we were passionate and to never give up on it.
I remember, being College age. I had been a musical theatre major.
I knew it was not the smartest option for College - but it was what I was passionate about. 
One day I decided to change. I was going to go into physical therapy. 
How's that for a total directional change.
I enrolled in science and medical classes - 
I was excited - but I stopped sleeping and starting having bad dreams.
He sat me down and told me to stop trying to be someone I wasn't meant to be. 
Follow your heart, he said.
I stopped pursuing physical therapy - and then the nightmares stopped and I began to feel better.
He is my hero.

Because of the line of work he was in, he was often involved in sales conferences and seminars.
I remember several times - from about age 12 on through high school,
that he would take me to these with him.
Because the nature of his work was sales - these conferences were often geared towards methods for making more money in the industry.
But the talks were not about knocking on more doors or being a salesman . . .
They were about using the power of positive thought to accomplish great things.
The power of positive thinking.
He told me he wanted me to be able to do whatever I wanted - and that understanding this concept was a key element to that.

Growing up - 
there have been many different approaches to this concept - 
but in the end, and in it's simplest form - 
it all comes down to this:
We are what we believe we are.
Think you are happy? . . .then you are.
Think you are miserable? . . .then you are.
Think you are strong and courageous? . . .then you are.
Think you are fabulous? . . .then you are.

I learned this concept at a very young age.
But I didn't begin really applying it until adulthood.
OK - moment of truth - 
I still struggle with this concept.
I struggle with it each and every day.
My own self-defeating gremlins and demons get in the way sometime.
But regardless of the struggle . . .I also know that it is true.
Believe what you are and what you want to do in this life.
Believe in the possibility.
Believe in the power of yourself.

This next week, my father is going in for a major surgery. 
He is 81.
I know that he will be ok - in fact, he will emerge better than he is.
But my heart is still hurting for him and my mom and, quite frankly, for myself.
And in his honor - I am going to believe that he will be more than fine - he will be amazing!
Thanks, Daddy. I love you and I appreciate the lessons that you shared with me.

Monday, January 14, 2013


So first off . . .a disclaimer.
Blogger is having issues with uploading photos.
I do not - repeat - DO NOT like postings without photos.
But since they are having issues, I am going to have to come up with a game plan to trouble shoot this issue.
In the meantime . . .
I will proceed a head with a post . . .without pictures.
And try not to have an anxiety attack in the process. LOL
I have been on an interesting journey with friends over the last seven months.
During that time period, I have reconnected with several people from my past.
Some have come in like a lion,
helped me with tasks that I was stumped on, and then quietly stepped back into the shadows.
Some have snuck in unexpectedly and quietly,
reclaimed a large piece of my heart and left me wondering why I ever lost touch in the first place.
Many have collaboratively held a mirror up to my face and helped me to see what they say they have seen for years.
Some are dramatically changing my life and my outlook for the better - helping me to become a stronger, empowered person.
Some of these friends I knew in grade school.
Some in high school.
A few, I literally grew up with.
I remember being told when I was young that certain friends would be a part of my life forever.
I never really believed that -
until this year.
What I do know, is that many of these that have reemerged, I plan to do my very best to ensure that they stay a part of my life . . .forever.
But more on those later.
Today, I pay tribute to another friend.
This friend didn't enter my life until 1991.
I was pregnant with my third child.
We were acquaintances from our church.
In a few random conversations, I discovered that she taught natural childbirth classes.
I had done the "epideral" thing with my first two children and the second was a really, really bad experience and I refused to do it again. (no judgement to those that use that technology - it just wasn't for me.)
So I looked at this discovery as more than a coincidence.
We talked - she shared information and books.
She offered to provide labor support when the "day" arrived.
OK - thanks. 
In my head I'm thinking - "I don't think so, I hardly know you".
Until the day came.
I was inducded. And the pain came on fast and strong.
and I was still refusing drugs to cope.
We called her.
It wasn't even a question - she needed to come.
Why would I call this woman - an almost stranger - to share one of the most intimate experiences of my life?
Again - not a coincidence.
She dropped everything and was by side in about 30 minutes.
She offered a sense of calm and empowerment to me that I had never experienced before.
The birth happened. All was well.
That could have been the end of the story and it would have been wonderful. 
Then she brought me a meal.
Then there were a few playdates with our kids - not really frequent - but they happened randomly.
Then she disappeared for a while.
I learned she was dealing with some health issues and was subjected to major surgeries which compromised her ability to walk for months during the healing process.
She hired me to come and clean her house once a week.
And while I was there - we talked.
And talked.
And talked.
And a bond was formed that has never been broken.
True friends.
True friends by definition that I can't find anywhere.
She is a part of my soul.
We have laughed together, cried together, listened, and vented to each other.
We have shared dates with our husbands, camping trips with our families.
We have watched our children grow up together and go through good times and some very bad times.
We have ran to each others side with nothing more than a phone call - many times no words were even spoken - just the sound of tears on the other end of the line.
We have held each other while life has taken what we knew to be truth and ripped it apart.
We have helped each other through business start-ups and business failures, financially secure times and times of unemployment.
I remember vividly, the day I took my daughter into the doctors.
She showed signs of something not being "right". My friend had my other kids.
We have gone through the marriage of our children, the birth of our own babies and the birth of our grandbabies.
We have watched each other as our marriages seemed to thrive and then crumble.
We have held each other up during divorce and rebirth.
We have shared everything possible on this life-journey.
My day is not complete unless I have communicated with her.
We have grown and changed and questioned and challenged everything life has to offer.
She has seen my darkest side - without judgement.
She has called me on stupid behavior.
She has been my voice of reason.
She has been my greatest ally and my greatest cheerleader.
Today is the anniversary of her birth - her birthday.
Today I will thank God for the gift that she is in my life.
Today - I can say that I truly believe now - that some people really do stay in our lives forever.
Happy Birthday Friend.

Monday, January 7, 2013

It's Never Too Late . . .

By January 1st of 2013, I officially started my new life.
The divorce was completed in October.
My old house is weeks away from becoming someone elses responsiblity.
I have officially moved into my new home -
a place that is mine.
A place that does not have eggshells on the ground, ghosts in the corners and the closets or landmines that need to be avoided.
2012 was a rollercoaster of a ride.
A few of the highlights included:
The marriage of my oldest daughter.
The realization that things were not as great as they seemed.
The introduction of the word divorce into my daily vocabulary.
Pieces of a large jigsaw puzzle (translation: my failed marriage) falling into place and offering me clarity and understanding.
The realization of what an incredible support system of friends I have.
Feelings of being blessed - really blessed.
Information that made my belief in trust and loyalty be shattered a bit.
The rebuilding of my belief in trust and loyalty.
The realization that there were issues from my past that finally needed to be addressed.
Reconnections with old friends who were once near and dear to me, then became lost, but have come back and enriched my life in ways that I cannot even begin to describe.
The realization of dreams - dreams that i never thought possible.
Laughter. More laughter than I ever expected.
Survival . . . then thriving.
Belief in myself.
Learning that I am stronger than I ever thought possible.
 I am not too sad about having said goodbye to it at midnight on January 1st. Although there were some of the most miraculous things that occured in 2012, I am ready to move forward.
I started the New Year by joining a group of like-minded adults at a party.
This act, in and of itself, was a testament to this new journey that I am on.
You need to understand - I don't "do" parties unless it is unavoidable.
I find the act of "mingling" and introducing myself to new people to be incredibly intimidating and frightening.
Many people who learn this about me are shocked.
They always tell me "you are so outgoing and confident, how can that be?"
I am outgoing and confident when I am working and can hide behind the working persons mask.
But put me in a room with people I don't know and tell me to "mingle" and I freeze.
I find that i can't think of anything intelligent to say.
It's not a pretty site.
And send me to a party without the buffer of someone to walk in with . . .
well - you can forget it!
New Years Eve I was invited to a party . . .by myself.
Right until 10 minutes before I walked out the door, I was coming up with reasons to skip out.
But I didn't.
I went. Alone. I mingled. I met people. I had a wonderful time!
At midnight we toasted the new year, lit sparklers and made wishes.
This seems like such a simple act -
but it was very symbolic for me. And it has set the tone for this new life.
I have spent a lot of time over the last six months meditating, analyzing and formulating what I want my new life to look like.
I have come up with many, many things that this new life will include . . .
too many things to list.
These are not resolutions.
I don't like resolutions - I think they set me up for failure.
These are elements; however, of my past life that I had sacrificed for marriage.
I am now going to make space for them to come back in.
Some of the more important elements are -
Laughter. Lots and lots of laughter.
A little bit of selfishness.
Fulfillment of Dreams.
Music. Music. Music.
and JOY!
As much JOY as I can manage.
I am going to take my own advice and become of deliberate creator of my life.
Happy 2013 to each and every one of us. May this be the year that we come together and see the fulfillment of our dreams. . .