Thursday, December 31, 2009

New Year's Eve and a Blue Moon

I have so romanticized the idea of the Full Blue Moon tonight. Then I Googled "blue moon new year's eve 2009" and went here where I found out that not only is the blue moon just the second full moon in a month, but that the phrase "once in a blue moon" doesn't even have anything to do with it.

It doesn't matter, though.  Tonight draws 2009 to a close and it has been a year of ups and downs, as any year has.

I went back in the blog to read some posts from the beginning of the year and I have definitely come a long way in some areas. I didn't achieve my reading goals, but I did start out strong.  I am going to be revisiting that commitment to myself in 2010 - not as a resolution, but an attempt to enjoy my life more.

Some of the journey this year has led to photography, art, art journals, taking art classes, workshops, travel, new blogs to read, new friends, self-care. I am practicing more to be who I am and to live my life instead of planning for it. For me, some planning will always be involved, but not to the detriment of EN-JOYING it.

Tomorrow, I will be collaging my vision for the new year in conjunction with the Full "Blue" Moon Dreamboards.

My phrase for the year drawn randomly from a set of cards (from Christine Mason Miller's "Ordinary Sparkling Inspiration Cards": "You Are Needed"

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

January - National Letter-writing Month

I read somewhere that January is National Letter-writing month. I love the idea of that and I really want to write letters to people, but it is supposed to be handwritten.  I do think that we have lost the fine art of handwritten notes. 

Opening an email is just not the same as finding a letter in the mail and knowing instantly who sent it by the handwriting. I miss that. 

Having moved a lot as a child, mail was always a way to stay connected with people.  My connection to all my extended family was solely from cards and notes sent. I stayed in touch with my friends when we moved via letter because back in the day, long distance calls were horribly expensive. I remember when I was 12 and we moved to Oregon - I used to be allowed to call Florida friends once a month for 10 minutes. I even had to set the kitchen timer to ring so that I would know when my time was up. 

I am not committing myself to writing a letter a day because I just know that I might not be able to live up to that and I hate breaking my word - even to myself. I am thinking that I might be able to manage postcards...that counts, doesn't it? 

Anyway, that's what I'm thinking about tonight.

Tomorrow is the Full Moon and it is the Full BLUE Moon, so enjoy!  This is a great way to usher in a new year and I, for one, can't wait!  2009 has been filled with some really great things and some huge challenges (mostly in the second half of the year), so I am looking forward to the change. ***Quick- write that down!  Jean said she is "looking forward to change".  That is definitely a change of pace.

Namaste and Happy New Year!

Snow Panic Part Deux

The only real irony here is that today, when one of my co-workers called and said that they didn't want to get caught in a freak snowstorm, I told the story about how this one day, in 1995, there was a snowstorm. The weathermen in Portland FREAKED OUT - they thought it was going to be the "BLIZZARD OF THE CENTURY" or "BLIZZARD WATCH 1995" as it were. They recommended that businesses close and send workers home, that schools and government agencies close and send everyone to the safety of their homes.

So, they did.

What ensued was the most ridiculous and sad, GIGANTIC traffic jam that lasted hours and hours. I was over on the Northeast side of Portland and it took me a little over 7 hours to get home that day. By the time I reached the Sunset Highway, there was NO SNOW. Wait. Let me say it again - NO SNOW. It had all melted. Driving was still tricky because, in addition to the massive traffic jam, we also had to dodge all the cars that had run out of gas on the freeway and were immediately abandoned in the middle of the freeway. When I heard that I decided I would not be one of those people. Before getting on the freeway that afternoon, I waited through 33 traffic signals to get the last gallon of gas at the last gas station out of town. I counted 99 cars on my way up the hill before traffic got moving enough that I didn't have time to count the cars anymore.

Why is this ironic, you ask?

Well, when it started snowing at 2:30 PM - completely unexpectedly (I thought the freak snowstorm was local to Wilsonville - a town south of here)- I started preparing to go home. I really, really, REALLY didn't want to stay at work overnight. I could have gotten a room at the Hilton across the street, but the last time I did that, it barely snowed and I had clothes with me. It took me until almost 4 PM to get out of there - just enough time to not know how bad it was or how bad it was going to be. AND I needed gas.

I should have stayed at work. I'm pretty sure I was in the car by around 4:15 or 4:30 PM. It took me an hour and a half to get from the office, across the bridge to the best exit (small hill) to get gas. I got gas and stopped at a restaurant for some food and read a little while before attempting to work my way through Portland on surface streets (the freeways were backed up SOLID).

I thought I would stop at Lloyd Center Barnes and Noble and kill time. The temperature was supposed to go up around 8 PM and all would be well. When I got there, they were ushering people out the door with a sign out front saying they were closing early(7:30pm). So, I slowly made my way downtown and decided to go to Powell's. I got there by 8:30pm. They were closing at 9:00pm. So, I got back in my car and decided it was probably clear enough to get on the freeway - even if the road was icy, they would be free of traffic, right?

Well, folks, I arrived home at 10:30 PM tonight. I will be putting some clothes and toiletries in my car tomorrow - for just such emergencies. Next time, I'm going to go on, get a room at the Hilton and watch cable TV instead.  I hope someone will remind me of this in the future, so that I never do this again. It is ridiculous and frustrating and pointless.

So, here are photos of the snow at my house. I would have taken some earlier except that I didn't have my camera with me. Or my iPod. Or my Kindle. Or ANYTHING. It was a long day.

Snow in the yard, the back yard, on the cars and on the garbage and recycling cans (to show depth).  I felt like I had to memorialize the day in some way.


Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Three Years On...

My dad died three years ago today. Oddly, my sister and my mother say the date is Dec. 28, but he died at 3:00 am on Dec. 29, 2006. Isn't it strange how we perceive things so differently - even something like this. I wish I had been closer to my dad - he was not an easy person to get close to and had a lot of barriers. Being in the military saved his life, but it also made him somewhat unapproachable at times.

I miss him. I see older gentlemen walking, having coffee at Starbucks, in restaurants or the store and I always tear up. There is a certain physique that always makes me think of him and I am sad that he and my mother weren't together to enjoy their retirement.

One of my goals this year (I didn't do it last year...) is to figure out how to scan slides so that I can post some of the photos of my dad when he was younger, too.  He was the photographer in the family, so it was hard to get him in front of the camera, especially as he got older.

Anyway, I miss you, Dad.

"I know all your life you wondered about that step we all take far does the spirit travel on the journey? You must surely be near heaven and it thrills me to the bone to know Daddy knows the great Unknown."  ~ Rick Springfield

Monday, December 28, 2009

Belief and Identity

We are what we believe we are.~C. S. Lewis

I was talking to a friend about childhood art and I remembered this book that I made when I was in Kindergarten (I have noticed I have a strange sense of capitalization - I don't think Kindergarten has to be capitalized all the time...but I digress).  I will have to dig that up and scan some of the pictures and post them - since I don't have my own kids' pictures to scan and post.  

The book was "A Book about Me" and it had pre-made pages.  "This is me." "This is where I live."  "This is my family."  "These are my pets." In that book, I drew myself as a princess because, in my eyes, I was one (very "The Little Princess" of me, I know).  I drew my family, I drew my pets and some imaginary ones (including the squirrels that lived in the patio roof in Denver).  I believed that I was a writer, therefore I was.

If I look again at the idea that we are what we practice, then "We are what we believe we are" makes total sense.  So, I just have to practice and believe my way to where I want to go.

I am a writer. I am an artist. I am a storyteller. I am more than my job title. I am more than my role.  (Shhh...I'm practicing believing!)

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Photo Post - I'm all Talked Out

The bird outside my kitchen window. You can't see it in the picture, but it also has an orange strip on it's tail. I have the name somewhere (I had to ask someone).

The new Santa for the collection.  I was experimenting with light and my camera...still working on it.

New pages in my Art Journal...Still experimenting there. I'm sure I will find my own way. Right now, I'm just trying new things and trying to be okay when it isn't perfect or doesn't come out the way I want it to.  I'm kind of amazed that I'm doing as well with it as I am.  My head has such bright and brilliant images and it is so hard to get them on paper. The blue page is the back. I covered it with blue duct tape (as suggested by Teesha Moore).  I didn't like that it was blank on the outside, so I decided to number the journals so that I could see the progression over time - whatever that turns out to be.  I bought 10 sheets of paper, so that will be at least 8-10 journals. I haven't decided if I will make a couple of longer ones or if the 16 pages is right for me. Once I had the number on it, I still wasn't happy, so I decided to write my favorite lines from random songs as they came to me. There's no sense to them, but just as they came to song led to another.




I haven't been able to do any art stuff since my days off started because my shoulder/arm has been hurting.  I suspect it is bursitis (aka someone stabbing me repeatedly in the arm with a sharp knife). It is feeling much better after much ibuprofen, MSM and a heating pad. It's kind of amazing how something that wasn't really a part of my life 2 months ago has become something that I so look forward to doing. Lack of perfection and all.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Sweet Aftermath

So, it all comes down to this - a lot of bustle and running around, a few hours and a lot of ripped paper, some good food, lots of hugs and a sense of relief and contentment.

My friend said it best last night, "It's nice to know that out there in the world there is someone who loves you just the way you are." And that is very true. I got to spend the holiday with all the important people in my life and I feel very loved. Not because of gifts (which I gave and received), but the genuine enjoyment of each other for the day.

Next year, I'm going to come back and read this before the holidays so that when I get frustrated or overwhelmed, I will see what it is all about and remember this afterglow feeling.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Christmas Memories

As promised, a little bit about my Christmas past. I don't think I'm alone in feeling torn between the way I was raised and the inclusion/political correctness of our society. I try to be as sensitive as I can to the needs of those who don't share my cultural traditions, and at the same time, I sometimes get frustrated with the level of our pendulum swing.

I was not raised in a religious or even spiritual home originally. I'm pretty sure that I spent more time at my friend's churches than I ever did at a church "home" with my own family. I went to church with my 3rd grade teacher in Germany, to a friend's Church of Christ church (no instruments - I'd never heard of such a thing), another friend's vacation Bible school (I can still recite all the books of the New Testament from a song I learned there), a Christian Center church with 1970s Christian rock music, I had Jewish girlfriends who never really taught me anything about Chanukah although I REALLY wanted to learn. Christmas was a holiday when Santa came and we got some toys and Christmas cards. Sometimes relatives would come to visit, but mostly, not.

When we lived in Germany, we joined in their traditions of wooden ornaments and birds on the trees. We celebrated St. Nicholaus day on Dec. 5 by putting a shoe by the door. If you were "good" you would get little candies and toys in your shoe. If you were not good, you would get a switch in your shoe.

From the ages of 9-12, I lived in Panama City, Florida where I went to public school. When I was in the sixth grade, at Patterson Sixth Grade Center, I was in the choir. That year, for the Christmas program, we did a musical called, "One Small Child". Clearly, Christmas has its roots in Christianity and is the celebration of the birth of Christ. I get that. When I was 12, I didn't really think about it that much. To give you a sense of this musical, here is the first stanza of the first song (yes, I still know it by heart...):
"One small child, sent from God,
stem of hope from Jesse's rod,
light of light, king of kings,
in his hand salvations rings.
Born to save us all from doubt and sorrow
born to lead us all to a new tomorrow,
born to be a hope for peace to every nation
a gift of love for all creation..."

I LOVED that musical. In fact, somewhere in a box, I have a cassette recording of us singing that musical. The entire show is about the REAL (i.e. Christian) meaning of Christmas. To be honest, although I was a fairly smart child, I didn't really register that the show was particularly religious because at that time, in that place (deep south, people), that was the norm. In the late 1970s in Panama City, Florida, I don't think saying "happy holidays" was a twinkle in anyone's eye. I don't know how it was for the rest of the country, but I'm pretty sure that we were fairly ethnocentric as a nation.

I remember when I was in high school - I think it was 1984 - when the word "Christmas" was banned from the school. We weren't allowed to have any form of Christmas anything. In our journalism room, we had a "Purple Wish Tree" that looked remarkably like a Christmas tree but was decorated with intricately cut purple snowflakes. My best friend at the time was Jewish and even she mocked the change "in name only" to all the traditions. I asked her at the time if it bothered her that there was Christmas stuff everywhere - did it offend her or upset her. She was not a religious Jew, she called herself culturally Jewish, so perhaps her answers gave me a false sense of safety - she didn't mind. In fact, one year, she spent the night with me on Christmas Eve and celebrated with the family in the morning.

Why am I rambling on about this? Well, I guess all of this is to say that I find myself confused annually. I respect those folks who do not celebrate Christmas and I don't want to offend them by throwing Christmas in their faces every two seconds, and at the same time, I love songs like, "Away in a Manger" and "Angels We Have Heard On High". I love "The Charlie Brown Christmas" special (particularly the tree). By the same token, I love that Peter, Paul and Mary sing "Light One Candle" to honor the Jewish tradition of Chanukah and I would love to learn about other cultures and their traditions. This week, when I was talking to folks who are "not from our tribe", I found myself commiserating with them. When talking to the Christmas crowd, I can relate to them.

It is complicated, isn't it?

Regardless of all of this, I wish anyone who visits here much joy and peace and a SAFE New Year. I wish you all love and laughter and time with your family and friends. That's what really matters, right? No matter what we call our celebrations or how they come to be, the most important part of that is love.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas Eve Thoughts

I have been having some interesting conversations about Christmas and people's Christmas philosophies and behaviors lately.  It is fascinating how much pressure we put on ourselves and our families during this time of year when things are supposed to be joyful and festive.

I decided long ago (in 1996) that Christmas couldn't be about pressure and spending and presents - it was about people and I wanted to keep it that way. Granted, I go through a period annually where I stress about what to give, about how much I did or didn't spend, will they like what I got them, did I do enough...but I also find my way out of it. 

This year, at work, there was a woman in the break room having a conversation with a co-worker. Her family-in-law seems to be made of of people who are in the "big spender" must-have-lots-of-gifts category and she was feeling the stress of it due to the sheer number of people in that family. She has young children and some events have happened recently that would make it difficult to have a good Christmas for them, much less extended family and others.  I nosed my way into the conversation and advocated for drawing names, letting the family know that they couldn't do the big Christmas, but that seemed like it wasn't possible for this family.  

Then I remembered a gift that I gave that was not only a gift to the people who received it, but a gift to me.  One year, a friend of mine and I bought a big jar and some fancy paper from the art store and cut it into small squares. On each square, we wrote down one memory about our parents. I did a jar for each of my parents, so memories of my mother and memories of my father. My father was not one for Christmas and could be very Grinch-like on the day itself. When he opened that gift and unfolded the first slip of paper, I knew I had done the right thing. All that Christmas day, he would sneak out another slip and read it. He kept the jar with him in his chair all day long and near his chair for months and months after. 

I think at work they were also talking about what to give the kids' teachers - as even $10 each would add up with several children.  The co-worker suggested a letter from each child to their teachers telling them how they felt about the teacher or thanking them for their work.  I loved that idea...if I were a teacher, that is what I would want instead of gifts of apples and paperweights and other "duty" gifts.

I love Christmas because of how it SHOULD be, but I loathe Christmas as it is. I struggle every year because I see it in such a dichotomous way.  I remember what it is supposed to be and I feel what it feels like now.  I see such despair and stress.  We have put what is supposed to be a joyous time and a time for family and friends and celebration at the end of the fiscal year, the end of a school term, the time of year when the weather is the worst, the time of year when cutbacks are made to save the bottom line.  So we run around spending money we don't have on people we don't care about. We get a Christmas bonus or we don't and we are either disappointed with the amount or disappointed that we didn't get one...

I could go on and on, but I won't.  All of this is to say that I remembered a song that we sang in my 6th grade Christmas program.  In addition to the DEEPLY RELIGIOUS Christmas program (I'll talk about that tomorrow), we sang, "Christmas is a Feeling". The lyrics are below: 

"Christmas is a feeling, filling the air;

It's love and joy and laughter, of people everywhere.

Christmas is a feeling, bringing such good cheer,

It reaches out to touch you as the holiday draws near.


It's mistletoe and falling snow and candles burning bright

It's a baby in a manger on a cold winters' night.

It's glad noels and chiming bells and presents by the tree

It's the spirit of giving in you and in me.


But if Christmas is a feeling, filling the air

Then why oh why can't you and I

Try to make it last all year?"

It's a conundrum, ain't it?  Merry Christmas to those of you who celebrate. Peace to those of you who don't.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

We are Our Stories

"A human being is nothing but a story with skin around it." ~Fred Allen

Isn't that a great quote?  I guess this month's theme should have been STORIES.  I have been thinking about stories quite a bit, so I guess that is why these quotes resonate with me.

One interesting thing that I have noticed as I get older is that many stories that we tell about ourselves showcase ways that we were not at our best - it may be humorous, but definitely not our most shining moments.  I have been trying to come to terms with that because when you tell a story like that, especially if it is humorous, you have to commit to it. You can't hesitate or worry that people will think less of you for behaving badly.  

I noticed over time that I have become more cautious about the stories I tell. I'm sure this is just a part of "maturing" and it is influenced by some of the roles I play in my life.  

One of the things I miss most about Roby was what his family called "tandem storytelling". We used to regale his family with stories that one of us would start and the other would augment. Having both perspectives with both of us finishing each other's sentences made the stories so much funnier.  These are the stories that I want to record - since my storytelling partner is no longer here, I don't want to forget a moment of them.

I feel very fortunate, as I have many stories and have had many storytelling partners over time. Roby was a brilliant storyteller - we were well-matched in that way. I have known other brilliant storytellers - when we get together, we laugh so hard our cheeks and sides ache.  I miss that. Hopefully, we can get together and laugh soon. 

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Looking Ahead to 2010

Here is the obligatory "it's the holidays and time to reflect" blog post. :)  It's kind of funny really - isn't that what most personal blogs ARE?? Reflecting ad nauseum. I can say that because my blog is definitely that.

Anyway, I have been poking around some of the blogs I have found this year and finding some great ideas.  Tonight, at Kaileenelise, I found a great idea - just what I needed to think about.  She got the idea from here.

A "Stop Doing" List for 2010.  This is BRILLIANT!  There were a couple of other ideas from Kaileenelise (I love the look of her blog, by the way...very clean and sophisticated), that I may follow up on later this week.  

In 2010, I will

1. Stop checking email while on vacation/time off.

2. Stop putting off fun for no reason.

3. Stop second-guessing myself.

That's all I have so far. There will be more, but I just found the idea, so it hasn't had time to percolate much yet.  More later.

Monday, December 21, 2009

My Universe, Anyway

"The Universe is made up of stories, not atoms." ~ Muriel Rukeyser               (Quote from "Juicy Pens Thirsty Paper" by SARK)

One of the greatest lessons from my fabulous telecourse was about how story defines us, how we can change our story.  The funny thing was that somewhere DEEP DEEP DEEP inside, I already knew that. I have always known that...but I didn't BELIEVE it.

I remember telling stories about things when I was very small and I remember the reaction that my stories, my noticing, got from the people who most mattered to me in the world. They were amazed and amused by my ability to story. When I was first in school, I wrote a "book" that amazed teachers and parents alike with the beginning, middle and end - apparently, children of that age don't usually have that ability (at least in writing). I always knew that I was a writer. I never said I was going to be a writer - I was going to be a teacher. I was born a writer. I was born a reader. I was born a storyteller and a story gatherer. 

For a brief period of time, I had an acquaintance who was a "storyteller" and I always thought I would love a job like that...there is nothing in the world like the rapt faces of people waiting for the next moment of a story - whether adult or child, it doesn't matter.  There is something so magical about the way we relate to each other through a story, through a turn of phrase, through a tiny bit of humanity. I love that. I miss it.

I realized that there are so many moments that live only in our heads. For me, those things will fade. The things that stay in my memory are the things I storied. The things I told myself in story or told someone else. One of my goals last year was to start to write my Roby stories down. I don't talk about them as much and I am afraid those stories will lose their color, their humor, their humanity. They are, in fact, some of the best stories of my life. Some because we were young and foolish, some because we had such an intense relationship borne out of secrecy and fear and some because we had some incredibly funny moments together. 

So, when I read the quote above in SARK's book, I knew I had to write about it. Also, a special thanks to "Life Unfolds " by way of Swirly Girl for leading me back to SARK. I have all of her books but I haven't READ one in a long time.  I was reading Swirly Girl's "Five Things" and that led me to "Life Unfolds" and to SARK, where I got the quote at the beginning of the post and a couple of others that may show up here in the next few days.

P.S. There is something wrong with Blogger - I have been hotlinking SARK, Swirly Girl and the Life Unfolds blogs and it isn't saving. I will get that fixed as soon as possible. 

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Art Journal Temporarily Derailed

All week long, I was looking forward to an opportunity to work on my art journal - I have been missing it. I wanted to fold a couple of new ones and start them up (new colors and maybe a white journal so that the colors of the collage and pens stand out more), but I didn't do it.

A little event called Christmas intervened and I cleaned and shopped instead. I thought I would do it today, but I didn't. I had a date with a friend to go play Bingo - she loves it and I think it is fun enough. We finally set a date and went to play.

I think it is fascinating how some people win and win and win and some people just DON'T. I came closer tonight than I ever have (I've been to play maybe 5 times in my life), but still, no dice. I know it is all just luck and attentiveness - there is no way to predict which ball is going to pop up. But it is interested. I wonder if people have studied the statistical anomolies of Bingo. I bet it would be interesting, although I'm sure it wouldn't really lead to career opportunities.

I guess all this prep will be fine - I'm going to see Shirlee this week and the rest of the family and we will undoubtedly do some "family function" before the week is out. I will get to my art journal...I just miss the outlet. Once you get used to doing something that relieves stress (like writing this blog), the pressure builds up when you don't do it. Like a pressure cooker, you have to find ways to let the steam out.

Unexpected Gifts

I went out briefly Friday after calling in overwhelmed. I was just going to the drugstore to pick up a few things and I ended up finishing my Christmas shopping which was a GREAT relief. I didn't want to have to go out again next week.

I decided that I would also loan some money as gifts through Basically, you choose someone to loan money to - the range is from around $25 to a few thousand to help people with their businesses or their farms or some subsistence effort they are engaged in. Over time, the people pay back the loan and you are free to reassign the loan to another person. The true meaning of "the gift that keeps on giving". I'm excited to do this - it seems to be my year of doing something for others and I have enjoyed it very much.

I also spent today, unexpectedly, cleaning. I started with a mail pileup on the dining room table and progressed to the living room. I have stacks of books and some other stuff that I am trying to organize. I haven't completed it, but I'm getting tired, so I'm giving up for a while. Found some buried treasures and a book I almost bought a copy of last week because I didn't remember I had it. Nice gift to myself - I didn't spend the extra money and I still had the item. I love that.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Lists of Jean: Favorite Teachers

Well, as promised, I chose a random page from Listography, the book and the list I am doing today is Favorite Teachers.  

Before I start, you should know that I LOVE TEACHERS. When I was six, I decided I wanted to be a teacher and that never really faded until I was in college and had NO IDEA how to get where I wanted to go. 

Jean's Favorite Teachers (in chronological order):

1. Mrs. Rogo - Kindergarten teacher in Aurora, Colorado at Crawford Elementary school. I still have a little piece of art she made for me and it has her writing on the back.  It was a yellow piece of some kind of plaster with Raggedy Ann and Andy on it.  Once, when it snowed, all the dads dug a tunnel through the snowbank (the Kindergarten rooms had doors that led outside to the playground and a little tin-like roof. The snow drifted over and blocked the doors) and when we got there, she made us toast and hot chocolate. She had a great play area with TVs that had their innards removed, so we could get in and pretend we were on TV.

2. Miss (?) Ballantine - Second Grade Teacher in Crestview schools in the basement of one of the apartment stairwells on the base in Wiesbaden, Germany.  She had red hair and some kind of issue with one of her hands. I thought she was BEAUTIFUL and she read some of the best stories ever to us. I remember sometimes eating lunch outside and I remember that she was very kind and patient.  I remember that we had a foyer where we hung our coats in her class. It was the maid's quarters from back in the day.

3. Mrs. Gobel - 3rd Grade Teacher in Crestview Schools in the basement of one of the apartment stairwells on the base in Wiesbaden, Germany.  I adored Mrs. Gobel and for some reason, she adored me. She invited me to go to church with her and her family and I went to one of her husband's picnics with his unit (he was in the Air Force, too).  She read books like "The BoxCar Children", "James and the Giant Peach", "Charlotte's Web" and "The Trumpet of the Swan". She was tall and she had that 1970s long hair parted in the middle. She had a little keyboard in class and in the morning, we would sing patriotic songs (in Miss Ballantine's class, too).  I used to finish my work first, so she would have me help a boy named Ricky.  He was developmentally delayed in some way and I used to give him spelling tests. I took my work seriously.  She was surprised that I struggled to learn my multiplication took me a long time to fill the chart with stars.

4. Mrs. Eckhart - fourth grade teacher at Lindsay II Elementary School.  We had to go to a different base to go to school once we finished third grade. Mrs. Eckhart was smart and funny and supportive of my needs as a learner. I always finished my work quickly and she would send me down to the library where I would pour over the encyclopedia looking for people in history that we were studying. I would meticulously copy the information from the encyclopedia (in my horrible handwriting - wow did I struggle with that...). I specifically remember writing about the presidents, Lincoln, Washington. I remember writing about Harriet Tubman and Martin Luther King, Jr., as well. When her husband got his orders to leave Wiesbaden, she only had a few weeks to give notice.  She gave us each a chance to pick one book from her bookshelf and I chose "The Story of Juliet Lowe" who was the founder of the Girl Scouts. I still have that book. I remember weeping on her last day.  We had to carry our old wooden desks down the hall and downstairs in this ancient school building and join the class that was in Mrs. Mott's room. 

5.  Ms. Grimala - Ms. Grimala was a HUGE influence on me in junior high school. She was the librarian and facilitated me watching "West Side Story" for the first time. She created "The Book Club" and I met a bunch of friends there. She indulged my reading habits and gave me "preview" books to read when I ran out of books that interested me in the library.  I was new to the area when I started junior high and I think she knew that I was a fish out of water.  I used to take care of the plants in the library, too. At one point, I brought some home over the holidays and eventually fell in love with a giant Boston Fern I named George.  I am eternally grateful for her friendship and guidance in those formative years of my life.

6. Mr. Reierson(sp) and Mr. Wright - these two gentlemen were a BRILLIANT history team. I had Mr. Reierson for U.S. History and Culture. They lectured on history, but made if fascinating. More than that, they played the covered wagon game and had everyone take different roles in the wagon trains coming to Oregon on the Oregon Trail.  About half the characters died before the end.  We played a stock market game to illustrate what happened in the Great Depression. They took history seriously and they loved it and they didn't pull any punches. I remember their lectures on WWII and the Nazi atrocities and it so resonated with me after living in Germany and having my dad so affected by his friend's experience in Auschwitz.

7. Mr. Stoppa (even though I didn't like science...) He was fun and funny and cute as all get out.

8.  Mr. Borgen (?) - He was my English teacher in the eigth grade and was the one who recommended me for Journalism.  That singular act changed my life in the years to come - it allowed me to focus on writing more and I met all the drama folks because I was in Journalism.

9. Mrs. Herron - She was our English and Social Studies teacher in seventh grade. She was strict, but also an old softie. She was one of those people who was meant to teach junior high kids. On Fridays, she would have us line up and give her a hug before we left for the weekend. EVERYONE did it. There was no arguing. I loved her.

10.  Nancy Zettergren - my journalism and newspaper instructor all through high school. My staunchest supporter. Read all my poetry. Treated me like a person not a kid. First person I ever met who had worse migraines than I did. (See December 2008 posts for more about Nancy)

11.. Bob Mullin - my creative writing instructor. He passed away. It was quite sad. He started me off in my exploration of writing as art, not just an academic endeavor.

12. Carol Coburn - The head of the Aloha High School Drama Department. She has also passed away. She was brilliant, a visionary. She was meant to empower high school students. She expected only the best from all of us and she got it. Who else could make me spend every Saturday of my high school career at SCHOOL?!? (See December 2008 posts for more information about Carol Coburn)

13. All my instructors in the PCC Interpreter Training Program - If not for them, I can't even imagine what I would be doing with my life now.  Since these folks are in my life still (for the most part), I'm not naming names. But WOW. Amazing women, all. Their generous support and guidance has meant the world to me.

I have been EXTREMELY lucky in the teachers I have had.  There are many more, but these folks left a huge impression on me. My life would not be the same if not for them and I appreciate them so much. I hope someday that I can reciprocate in some way to the community, to other students - whether they are Deaf or Hard of Hearing, or in K-12 or interpreting students or participants in a workshop.  Teachers are heroes, in my humble opinion. 

Friday, December 18, 2009

Introducing the "Lists of Jean"

In an effort to head off those "I'm so tired" or "I had a crappy day" posts, I purchased a book called "Listography: Your Life In Lists" and it arrived yesterday. In honor of that decision, I have decided to implement the Lists of Jean (LOJ for future reference). Today is the first official List of Jean. I am going to start with the first page, but in the future, I am going to randomly pick a list from the book and use it as a prompt for a post.

I think lists can be fun and short and you usually can learn something new about a person (unless they are totally predictable - which, be warned, I totally am...).

Here is a brief note from the first page of the book:

"Listography, the book is designed to help you create your autobiography through list making. I created Listography because I am nostalgic. I love the little details of life, from experiences to favorites, and I wanted to create two nice places to capture and share those details: Listography, The Book and I believe that everyone should have an autobiography, if only for their loved ones to read and even in the simplest form: a list.

Lisa Nola -"

Now, without further adieu, here is Lists of Jean installment #1.

List Pets You've had and Their Names:
1. Cindy the beagle (Denver, Colorado)
2. Rusty the cocker spaniel (Panama City, Florida)
3. Starsky and Hutch the gerbils (Panama City, Florida)
4. Laverne and Shirley the gerbils (+their many many children as they were NOT both girls.)
5. K.C. the Himalayan cat (Kitty Cat, as it were) (Oregon)
6. Tigger the black cocker spaniel (Oregon)
7. Molly the black cat (a direct Tutularu kitty descendant) (Oregon)
8. Poppy and Lily - Molly's daughters and grandaughters of TutuKitty (Oregon). Poppy lived until she was 18 and Lily lived until she was 16.
9. A goldfish whose name I have forgotten (Oregon)

10. Sebastian the blue beta fish (Oregon)

Bonus Pets (pets that belonged to Roby and whom I loved as well):
Tutularu (mom-cat)
Pippi the cockapoo
Alex and Dmitri the chocolate pomeranians
I did not love his lovebirds
Sofie the Dove
Gretta Cato - the most beautiful and bitchy calico cat EVER
Blanche DuKitty - sister of Molly, Daughter of Tutularu and most talkative cat EVER
Kong the shar pai
Bella the black lab
William the black cat
Edgar the Maine Coon Cat who suckled on my hair and drooled a lot
Eponine - little black kitty who was maimed by a possum and never had a chance
Sophie the black pug.
Boris the fawn colored pug and Roby's last pet

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Bizarre Dream

I woke up this morning and realized I had dreamed that I typed a post here but it was all gibberish like I had my hands on the wrong keys. This week has kinda been a week like that, so I had to get up and check - it was entirely possible that the post I had typed last night looked like this:

Dp o dohmrf i[ gpt sm pm;omr v;sdd smf ytorf yp [su gpt oy niy yjrtr esd s jp;f pm ,u svvpimy/ zo vpmysvyrf yjr [stlomh smf ytsmd[ptysyopm htpi[ smf [sof gpt yjr

Much to my relief, it was only a dream and I don't have to worry about it. I'm not sure but I think this is the first time that the blog has shown up in my dreams. I guess it means that my little endeavor here is living in my brain now and is engrained in me enough that I am dreaming about it. When I was learning ASL, it took a couple of years for me to start dreaming in ASL, which, by all accounts, means that you are internalizing the language and making it your own. I think it is a good sign to be dreaming about it but maybe a little stress showing through when thinking that I was tired enough to have my hands on the wrong keys for the whole post.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Newfangled Internet

So, I registered for an online class and I tried to pay for it...turns out I had a parking ticket from the local community college from this fall so there was a hold on my account. I called and got that taken care of and they told me that all was well and I could proceed to paying for the online class (which would be put on hold until I paid for it).

I called the Parking office and took care of the ticket, then I got transferred to the Business Office where they took the hold off. The Business Office tried several times to transfer me to Registration - both the general number and several people's direct line to their desks, but no luck. The Business Office lady could not see that I had registered for the class. I kept telling her that I was registered because how else would the intstructor know my email address, send me the syllabus, send me the first 2 lessons and 2 quizzes? But they can't find it.

I decided I would try to figure it out online, but I have had no luck. I called the direct number to the Non-Credit Community Ed courses but I have not been able to get through.

Computers are only as good as the person using them - either on the front or back end. I'm just smart enough to get myself into trouble - I can figure out some things, but MANY other items are a mystery. This is one of them. I haven't figured out if I will have to drop the class and re-register or is so annoying. And now my class is on hold. So once I figure out how to pay for it, I have to go through the whole thing again to get the classroom access back up and running.

How hard does it have to be people?

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Courage - Angelou

It takes so much courage to be in the world right now. 

I didn't save this post before doing spellcheck. When I came back to the post, there was nothing left. Now I'm just frustrated and not at all prepared to recreate the little post I wrote about courage.


[photo from Maya Angelou page on Wikipedia]

Monday, December 14, 2009

Where are my Mitzvahs?

Well, I did collect toys for kids. One mitzvah (or do we count each toy? haha). I donated money to the assisted living center and went and served desserts at the dessert/bingo event on Saturday. I feel like I should be doing more.

I went to Hope Revolution's website again and I think I really am going to do some HopeNotes. I know I keep saying I'm going to do it, but I haven't been brave enough to do it. I am going to do it this week/weekend. With all my new art supplies and things, I can definitely make some nice little notes to hide in strange and unexpected places.

Why this change of focus? There are a couple of reasons for my determination to do something good this year. I have been down lately, as anyone can tell by reading a couple of posts. Doing things for other people makes me feel good and it does something good (hopefully) for them. I believe that we can make a huge difference in the world by doing little kindnesses. It is so easy to get wrapped up in the day-to-day and I don't want to be. I was thinking today about the telecourse and the idea that we are what we practice.

If I am down and talking about it all the time, I am practicing being down. I'm going to try practicing doing good things and things that bring joy to either myself or someone else. I am practicing joy. I need a lot of practice.

I went to see "The Blind Side" tonight with Sandra Bullock and Tim McGraw. It is the movie based on Michael Ohr's book "The Blind Side: Evolution of a Game". It was just what I needed to see. It doesn't really matter what anyone says about the movie - it moved me and it made me want to do something different, feel something different. I wanted to just make a different choice than feeling so lost. So, that's what I'm trying to do. Yay.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Stressful, Time-Driven Event #5 Completed

My grades are in! I am done with all the extra, stressful but important commitments I have had for the last 3 months. It feels good to be done.

I am taking a night to celebrate tomorrow - to see a movie. Hopefully, "The Blind Side" after work. For Winter term, I am only planning on taking one day art classes that do not require any homework. Yay! I can't wait.

It isn't so much the busy that is the hardest part for me. The hardest part of all of this is not being 100% for everything. Not feeling like I can give my full attention to everything. That is frustrating. That is why I want to be smarter about my commitments. Not because I don't want to do them anymore, but that I want to do things WELL. Additionally, I prefer to enjoy my down time. Sometimes, when I am super busy like I have been, I feel like it is necessary to take some time for myself - time that I'm not working or thinking I should be working. The only problem is that I tend to feel guilty that I'm not doing what I think I should.

I have to take some of my own advice. Today, I sent a note to a student telling them to think about positive self-talk and how that might impact them. Well, duh. Physician, heal thyself. ;)

Anyway, I am celebrating completions and then I am going to bed.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Mission Accomplished!

This year, with the help of a colleague of mine, I decided I wanted to do "good work" for the holiday season. One of the things we did was the toy drive which was over a couple of weeks ago and which I did not get any photos of -shoot! The other was today and I didn't get any photos but I heard that there was a photographer there and I am hoping they will share some photos.

Today, we went to an assisted living center and had a dessert/Bingo session with the residents. Several folks from work came and brought desserts and we served them to the residents and staff for what seems to have been a pretty successful event despite the weather.

I'm very happy that this event went well and that so many folks seemed to enjoy it. I know it was the right thing to do - we will continue to make inroads into the community to give back a little of what we can. This can only lead to good things.

And I'm also happy that we are done. Stressful event #4 in two weeks - not all stress is bad. I have grades due on Monday and that will be another item off the list. After that, there is just the whole Christmas holiday thing and me doing some art and reading and relaxing. I can't wait.

To my friends who have been faithfully reading - thank you. I know I have been down recently. I am actively working on changing that, so bear with me a little longer. It will all work itself out.

Friday, December 11, 2009

365 posts in 2009

I just noticed that I have done 365 posts this year. Isn't that awesome? I love little milestones. I should celebrate.

And it might snow overnight.

My Life as a Verb...

I saw a commercial for the movie "Julie & Julia" which I enjoyed greatly. I bought the book but I haven't read it. I know - SHOCKING.

Anyway, as I was watching, I was thinking about how cool it was for Julie Powell (I think that is her name) to take on a project like cooking all of Julia Child's recipes for a year. It made me think of Patti Digh's book, "Life is a Verb" (and soon to be published, "Creative is a Verb"- I can't wait!!) and I wondered if I could make a project out of reading her book and doing the exercises.

In the telecourse, "Live Your Wild and Precious Life Now", we have gone through the book and I had read much of it before the course started, but I was thinking that maybe I could do a chapter a week - focus on one or two of the exercises and then write about it here...I'm not sure. I'm still marinating the idea. Maybe I need to go back and do Patti's "Write-Your-Own" Fridays.

Any thoughts? Any other suggestions? I do so much better with a project - otherwise anyone brave enough to read this blog gets to hear about me being tired or having a long week or whatever. Even I prefer to write about other stuff...but I'm not always good without a predetermined structure. Feel free to give me your thoughts. :)

Thursday, December 10, 2009


We had our office holiday party. Lots of people, lots of food. Everyone seemed to enjoy. I realized afterwards that I should have talked to all the visitors but I didn't. Many of them, but not all. Is that rude?

Anyway, I'm tired now. Long day. Good night.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Light in the Tunnel - No Trains, Please

I am nearing the end of a commitment that has been enjoyable, but has been pushing me ever closer to the edge in my life. My work is complicated enough, but this added piece is too much for me to handle right now. The main part is done and I have a few loose ends to tie up, then I will be done.

In the next few weeks, I am looking forward to doing some more art journaling, reading some books for pleasure and going to a couple of movies. I am looking forward to some down time that doesn't have an overlay of guilt/responsibility wrapped around it.

Today, I asked for help. For those of you who know me in real life, you know how big of a deal that is. I would rather die than have people think that I can't do something. Unfortunately, I have been about as close to that as I want to be. Physical manifestations of stress are not new to me (migraines, hives, crying daily - all ways I have seen my stress manifest itself). Right now, I have a cold that I can't shake (since before Thanksgiving), today I had the shakes (internally and externally), crying easily, complete exhaustion. My hair is getting grayer and I think some of it is coming out when I comb it (more than usual). I have always been able to deal with stress, but I realized today that stress + responsibility for other people = hyperstressed. When I am in control of my own destiny, my own outcomes, that is one thing. Being responsible for other people, accountable even when you aren't physically there - that is harder.

It is all a part of the great lesson in life that I'm supposed to learn. Sometimes, it is easy to recognize the lesson. Other times, the lessons are less clear so I have to work harder to learn them. I think I'm on the other side right now, but who knows. Tomorrow is another day.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

In Honor of Bill Cosby - Himself

Bill Cosby won a Mark Twain award for American Humor. The show to honor him was on PBS tonight. As this week is kicking my a** and he made me laugh, I thought I should share the joy here.

One of my favorite stories from the 1993 stand up routine, "Bill Cosby: Himself" is a story about Jeffrey...

Monday, December 7, 2009

Art Journal Photos - Spread #1

So here are the photos of the background of the first spread in my Amazing 16-page journal. It's funny how different they look when you photograph them. You spend all this time working them from one look at the beginning to the end and then a photo makes it look totally different - you can see things in it that you didn't see with the naked eye - mistakes, perspectives.

I will write some journal stuff in this later, but for now, I'm just showing the art. I think that additional lettering will enhance the look (I hope). But since this is a first try, I'm trying to give myself a break. I am learning how to use different mediums and trying new colors and things. Who knows where I will end up...I'm just enjoying the ride for now.

So here are the photos...

First version...

Then later...

Sunday, December 6, 2009

New Passions

I spent more of my day working on my art journal than I should have today, but it felt good. The last couple of days have been such a needed escape from the stressors in my life, so I really just dove into the project.

I think I am close to having the background of the center pages done. As I said yesterday, there are some mistakes on it (photos to come), but I am understanding what I need to do or to get. In some instances, I don't have the right materials to do what I want to do - particularly pens. I am waiting for a couple of pens I ordered last week to come in - I am hoping that I ordered some fine tipped black markers...I think I did. I watched Teesha Moore's lettering videos - it is gonna take some practice for me to get there. I did ok for a first try, but I want it to be PERFECT!!Aargh! (Although I was able to let it go. It isn't perfect, but I have never done it before, so I think it turned out ok considering.)

Today, I spent part of the day looking at Copic Sketch Markers which are hella expensive, so I decided against purchasing them. I have already ordered some of the Sharpie Poster Paint markers which I heard were being discontinued, but when I went to the Sharpie website, it still has them on there to order and no indication that those particular markers will not be manufacutered any longer. I did make the rounds of some of the art stores and whatnot, but I ultimately decided that if I continue to work on art journaling, I can buy some of that stuff later. I don't need to have everything NOW. I used my colored pencils and some of my other pens today and they mostly turned out fine. Although I definitely need to invest in some fine tip pens - I mostly buy medium tips but that isn't great for outlining and whatnot.

In Winter term, I will be taking several courses at PCC on art and collage, so I think that may help lead me in the right direction. I also want to take a course in webdesign. I worked on SignPlay a little today, but I think one of the issues is that my vision of the site and my ability to make the site what I want are so far apart, I get frustrated with it and I don't update enough. I did some updating and I looked up some webdesign classes, as well. Maybe I won't be able to do all that at once, either, but I just want to know that I have avenues to improvement. I have so much that I want to do; it feels good to be taking baby steps.

Photos to come.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Adventures in Art Journaling

I worked a little on my art journal today. I knew right away that I had made some mistakes, but that's ok. It is my first page, so I'm not that worried about it. I'm not done with it, by any means, but I thought I would share what I did with my afternoon so that I wouldn't just go back to bed and pull the covers up over my head.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Friday Flashback

With all the hubbub about Donny Osmond winning "Dancing with the Stars", I was thinking about his attempted comeback in 1989. I actually really liked his music - had bought his record when it came out.

Sacred Emotion

Here he is 10 years later (about) with a big comeback in "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat"

Of course, the inevitable journey down memory lane brings me to other 1989 songs, like "Heart and Soul" by T'Pau:

And Breathe's "Hands to Heaven" which I can't embed here:
(I love this song - I wish the group had stayed together - I think they had a lot of potential...)

Life in a Northern Town - Dream Academy (apparently it has been badly covered...)

My favorite Culture Club song ever - "Victims"

John Secada - Just Another Day

And who can forget - Rick Springfield "Souls". I am a die-hard Rick Springfield fan - I had the biggest crush on him and I have all of his albums and have seen him in concert 6-8 times.

And "Living in Oz" with the WORST HAIRCUT EVER

Happy Friday!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Treading Water

The tip of my nose is barely above the water. My arms are flailing frantically, not the smooth, easy stroke of a practiced swimmer but the panicked flapping of someone who fears metaphorical drowning.  There is no particular thing to blame or to point to or to fix. This is cumulative drowning. I know that in a day or a week, I will break the surface of the water and I will be able to draw deep, cleansing breaths and know that it will all be ok.

I am trying not to panic. I am trying to remember all the things I have to be grateful for. I am trying to remember that this will not matter in a year or maybe even a month. It isn't easy.

So, my defense mechanism is to want to curl up and sleep all day. Or do art and stay at home. I don't want to choose all the normal, every day things. I want to choose differently. But all my choices have lead me to this place. It is where I am. Wishing doesn't change anything, and it doesn't need to. 

I think it is strange how fear backs up on me sometimes. Old stuff. Old thoughts. Mostly, I fight it off, but sometimes, it creeps up on me and grabs the oar and steers me offcourse. I will get back. It's just that dog-paddling is slower than actual swimming.  I think it is the flailing.

Anyone have noseplugs?

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

December Nablopomo 2009 - Mitzvah

The December 2009 Nablopomo theme is Mitzvah. Loosely translated from Hebrew, it means "a good deed".  

Throughout the month of December, I am going to try to either recognize or do a good deed. I may not post about mitzvahs daily, but they are my target - what I am looking for in each day and in all surroundings.

Last year, I was able to write my gratitudes to folks who have had a positive effect on my life. This year, I want to recognize and do good things for others as a way of giving back.  Paying it forward so to speak.

By the way, the book was a good read. Not great literature, but definitely optimistic. I like that!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

It Isn't Over Yet - World AIDS Day 2009

Sadly, people are still contracting, living with and dying with HIV and AIDS.

Today, learn what you can. Do something to help. Donate time, money or love.

In loving memory of Dan, Alan, Dean, Roby and Chris and the countless others we have lost to this disease.

"This disease will be the end of many of us, but not nearly all and the dead will be commemorated and will struggle on with the living, and we are not going away. We won't die secret deaths anymore. The world only spins forward. We will be citizens. The time has come. Bye now. You are fabulous creatures, each and every one. And I bless you: More life. The Great Work Begins." - Tony Kushner from "Angels In America: Milennium Approaches"

Monday, November 30, 2009

The Joy Diet - Feasting

The final chapter of Martha Beck's "The Joy Diet" focuses on one of the most luscious ingredients - FEASTING.  I love Martha's idea that there are many kinds of feasting - not all food related. "Anything that feeds your true self, whether it's physical, emotional, intellectual or spiritual, is a feast in the making."

Feasting on Food  

Not my favorite of the feasts, to tell you the truth. But I did think of food in a very specific way when I read this. I was thinking about Moroccan food or Indian or Thai food - how they are so complex in flavor and spice in ways that a lot of American food is not.  Most recently, I have discovered a love of ginger chicken with fresh green beans from Pho Van, a local Vietnamese restaurant I was introduced to by a friend.

The Joy Diet Food rules (unabridged)

1. You must only eat what you really enjoy.

2. You must really enjoy everything you eat.

Feasting on Beauty

I haven't feasted on beauty in a while...I can certainly think of feasts for the eyes or ears - the perfect color paint, the waves crashing on the shore in a storm, listening to favorite songs on my iPod, watching a beautifully filmed movie or video...there are so many things but I don't usually take them in for very long. I'm always moving on to the next thing. I have to work on this.

Feasting on Rest and Relaxation

This one is coming along. I am trying to rest more and relax when I am on vacation or when I am away from work. Sometimes it makes it harder to go back to the craziness of real life after some R & R but I know that they really are necessary to balance each other out.

Feasting on Brain Candy

Martha talks about loving television. I miss reading, but I tend to be attracted to what we classify as literary fiction as opposed to popular fiction - sometimes it is just too much work. I finally figured it out last year when I read all the "Twilight" series books- it made me realize that my brain just needed to escape.  Some escape hatches for me include Zuma's Revenge (a game on the computer), "Buffy the Vampire Slayer", "Friends" and right now, I am reading a series called "The Weather Wardens" about people with special powers to control the weather. 

Feasting on Love

This one is harder. In some ways, people become more open as they get older but in others, they are more guarded. I feel more guarded with love now that I am older and have been banged up a few times. I want to give it away, but I have a hard time trusting sometimes. Trusting motives or what is real...This is definitely an area where I need to focus more attention. I have been working on it. Goes back to my post a couple of days ago - opportunities are needed. I have to cultivate them and go from there.

Give Thanks:

I have been talking about, meaning to write a Thank You note every day.  I even bought cards because I wanted to make them but I just never have found the time.  So Martha had a worksheet that was a Gratitude Starter list and I decided to post mine here, just as a reminder to myself.

I am grateful for:

1. My health

2. My mother

3. Good friends

4. I am employed

5. I have a good job - good benefits, pay

6. I have a roof over my head

7. I find reason to laugh regularly

8. Books

9. Music

10. Theatre

11. Online friends - those I have met and those I haven't

12. I have the opportunity to express myself here on my blog

13. Pink things!

14. Diet Orange Sunkist soda

15. Beach trips

16. I am learning photography

17. I can take a class in Winter term

18. YouTube

19. "Buffy the Vampire Slayer"

20. art supplies

21. The Next Chapter group 

22. Jamie Ridler for conducting these groups

All in all, this has been a good experience. I got behind a few times and that was frustrating.  The most important thing for me, though, in this process is the opportunity to connect and find like-minded folks out there who are searching for more joy, more life, more art. I am so happy to have found this group and I hope to participate in many more "The Next Chapter" adventures.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

The Joy Diet: Connection (Catch up)

Connections...I thought it was interesting that Martha Beck talked about being surrounded by people and still feeling an intense lonliness.  I think this is often the case - it is actually harder to really connect with people when you are surrounded by people.

During the daytime, when Roby was in the hospital, there were always a zillion people around him and he kept them entertained. I used to call it "holding court". Those people touched him, but didn't connect with him. It was later, after the crowds were gone, that he could let down his guard and connect - with me, his family, some close friends. Even though I was the "overnight" person, I was there most of the time. I left for about 2 hours a day max - shower, change, errands for him. At night, we connected. In our silences, in our conversations, in our touch. We held hands and we talked. Sometimes, we just looked at each other. Sometimes, we didn't.

I don't fear connection, but I also know there is a time and a place for such things. You can't connect with everyone and it isn't healthy to do so. I would like to connect more, but I am not in circumstances to make that happen often - usually, I am at work and then I go home.

When I read this chapter, mostly, I thought that I just need to create opportunities for connection more often. When I DO break out, when I DO put myself in social situations, I find it pretty easy to connect with other people, so the missing piece is definitely opportunity.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Weekend of Accomplishments

Today, I wrapped all the gifts I am donating. I feel so accomplished right now. :)

Today, I made a 16 page journal as per Teesha Moore's instructions.  I actually watched a video of hers on YouTube for making the journal. I bought all the stuff and made it. I also started painting the pages - I have never done this before, so it is very exciting. I'm planning on taking a Visual Journaling class Winter Term, but I couldn't wait once I saw these videos.  I have Shannon at BirdStar to thank for this latest inspiration. 

Teesha Moore's Amazing 16 Page Journal part 1 of 2 - Instructional Video

Teesha Moore's Amazing 16 Page Journal part 2 of 2

I will take some pictures of the before and after of the journal (although I didn't take an photos of the journal-making process with just the paper...). I'm still not used to automatically thinking, "Where's my camera?"  I hope I will get better about that because I really want to be able to take better photos.

Anyway, look for some progress photos here soon-ish.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Black Friday First

I have never been a Black Friday (aka Day after Thanksgiving Sale) person. (I hate that now we don't even call it the Day After Thanksgiving Sales now.) I used to work retail and I had no choice but to be there.  One year, with Roby, he decided we should go to Clackamas Town Center after work and instead, we ended up in a 3 hour traffic jam. When we got through it, we found out there had been a horrible accident with a fatality on I-205.  That night, we found out that his cousin's best friends had been in the car - one died and one suffered a traumatic brain injury.  

So, it is natural that I associate Day After Thanksgiving shopping with pain (the traffic jam and working as a retail clerk) and tragedy (the accident and the aftermath as a result).

This year, I arranged a Toy Drive which has been something of a failure. I was trying to do something good at work because I thought of how privileged we are and how much need there is in the community we work with...but I guess I didn't sell it right or I underestimated charitable feelings at this time of year. So, I decided to do it myself.

Today, at 4:45am, my alarm went off and I got up and went to 2, yes, 2 local stores. I managed to get gifts for 25 kids for approximately $160.  My mother asked if she could participate so a couple of the gifts are from her. The gifts aren't lame or anything - they were just well-priced.  I decided that I felt ok about shopping today if I was getting gifts for kids. 

All in all, I feel good. I wanted to show the people at work how easy it could have been for them to spend $5-10 for one gift. It makes you feel good and it will definitely give a child a little bit of holiday joy. I am still boggled by the lack of interest - it is even a charity that is within our specialized community (Deaf Kids).  I guess it doesn't matter where the gifts come from, as long as they come. Right?

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy 43rd Birthday, Roby Starns!

Happy Birthday, Roby.  I miss you.  It is always harder when your birthday falls on Thanksgiving - I don't know why that is. Thank you for being a part of my life. 

This picture is circa 1984- Roby is walking down the hall at Aloha High School one fall day.  The shoulder in the picture that I cut off is Jenny Martin - one of Roby's close friends.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

My Least Favorite Time of Year

This week has kicked my behind, even though I started it off with a beach is that possible?  A lot is going on in the work world and I am feeling the weight of it right now.  Although, one of the big bosses called me last night to wish me a Happy Thanksgiving. I was literally taken aback. It was so thoughtful and kind.  I brought in food and a pie for the folks who have to work today, to thank them for giving up time with family and friends.

As we come up to Thanksgiving and everyone is talking about being with family and friends, I remember all the family and friends lost. It is a hard balance because I enjoy the people still here and I am SO THANKFUL for them and at the same time, it is hard not to feel that sense of longing for those who are already gone. Between now and January 8, my worst losses have occurred.  Roby's birthday is tomorrow, my father died in December, Roby died in January, the day before my father's birthday. It's a tough time.

I'm doing some charity work this year in an effort to feel like I am creating something goodand worthwhile.  Again, I don't intend to diminish what I have - it is just difficult not to look back.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Making a Difference

I am currently engaged in a couple of projects trying to make a difference in the world. It hasn't been easy for a number of reasons, but it is discouraging, for sure.

So, I found this quote from a Nike Ad (I think I have posted this before...maybe somewhere else...I'm not sure):

"All your life you are told the things you cannot do. All your life they will say you're not good enough or strong enough or talented enough. They'll say you're the wrong height or the wrong weight or the wrong type to play this or be this or achieve this. They will tell you NO. A thousand times NO until all the NO's become meaningless. All your life they will tell you NO. Quite firmly and very quickly. They will tell you no. And you will tell them YES."

I don't know why, but when I read that, it made me feel a little better.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Manic Monday

We got an extra night free at the beach, so we stayed over last night and drove home this morning. It was a really nice drive - not too rainy, good company. My swallowing thing still happening all day, though. Not fun. By the end of the day at work, I was feeling pretty dehydrated and yukky. I finally got some water and some soup down tonight, so it seems like it's all good for now.

I got home a little while ago and I feel like CRAP. I have a temperature and other bad symptoms that I won't share here. I'm going to bed.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Esophogeal Spasms Suck

At lunch today, I had my intermittant esophogeal spasm and I couldn't eat or drink anything for the rest of the day. I thought I had brought my magnesium for the weekend, but it didn't make it into my suitcase, so PRESTO! Spasm.

Basically, what happens either when I'm stressed out big time from a specific event, or stressed out over time or talking about something like work or a problem, if I eat, my esophogus freezes up and until I can completely relax every muscle (EVERY ONE) in my body, I will not be able to swallow ANYTHING. Not even water.

When I take my magnesium regularly, I'm less likely to have this happen, but I can NEVER talk about work when I am eating. Hopefully, it will go away after a good night's sleep. Most of the time, it doesn't last for more than a couple of hours, but I have had it go on for up to 3 days. That gets scary because I can't drink water or take ibuprofen or any medication or anything.

The best thing about today is that we watched "Yentl". I love that movie. It made me want to sing.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Welcome to Moth Village!

We are staying at a very sweet house in Manzanita. It is very windy out tonight and it has been raining on and off. There are two bedrooms, lots of windows, a fireplace and LOTS OF MOTHS.

Last night, when I finally climbed into bed, I pulled a pillow away from the other side of the bed and started reading. A couple of minutes later, out of the corner of my eye, I see a fluttering movement. After I leapt out of bed, I see that it is a moth. I remove it from the bed and notice that there is a moth on the wall above the bed... This morning, when I got up, I realized that the dark marks on the curtains in my room are actually like the burned on carcasses of moths...and that there are moths everywhere.

Kevin invited me into his room and we both lay in bed and read...and then I found the little moth carcasses laying on his floor. EW. They are HUGE moths and there are a bunch that NEVER move and some that flutter all around the house. One particularly large one in the living room has been dubbed Mothra.

Honestly, I have been trying not to think about it. We have listened to some great music, read a lot, talked a lot and watched a couple of movies. We went into town today, explored some of the stores. I bought some art supplies - can't wait to use some of them! Good clean fun.

Friday, November 20, 2009

A Short Excursion - Manzanita Awaits

I'm off to the coast for a little R and R with my friend Kevin. He have been tring to make this work since July, so it was nice to finally have a chance to go.

Beach, movies, naps, chatting, possible windstorm...who knows what will happen. :)

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Bone Tired and one more day to go

It has been a loooong week.

I had dreams of going to see "New Moon" tonight - for about a minute, but then I knew I would sleep through the whole thing. And I don't really have time.

But the good news is that I'm going to the BEACH with Kevin. I'm stoked. It couldn't have happened at a better time. I am ready to relax again...sad - it hasn't been that long since I was on vacation, but it feels like forever.

Ahhh, beach. Reading. Friends. Mmm. Good.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009


Some stuff has happened recently that I can't really talk about here, but I feel a little paralyzed - I keep getting up and moving and working and doing all the stuff I have committed to, but internally, I am having all these doubts. I can feel the anxiety level rising daily. I think I am handling it pretty well, but I can almost feel my hair graying almost overnight.

I think one of the issues right now is that I have been engaged in the Life is a Verb Telecourse and as I think about the ideas and practices we are discussing/exploring, I am finding more and more that there are some parts of my life that are out of alignment with who I am and what I want out of life. Unfortunately, I don't really know how to change some of those things and I'm not sure I should/could/would. That creates all this tension - thinking about being out of alignment and what that means. Does that make me hypocritical? Or just a realist? Am I supposed to be learning the lessons I am presented with in these situations or am I supposed to move on to finding the lessons in places where my values and beliefs are more aligned with the situation I'm in? Is there a way to do both - to find my "true north" and still swing from the same trees, so to speak?

I am finding that I am sinking into the comfort of my age - knowing who I am and being comfortable with that in many ways. At the same time, there are many parts of my life, my goals, my dreams that remain unexplored. I guess I just keep moving forward. I don't think that I'm ever going to save the world or win a Nobel prize, but I know that I have much to learn and much to contribute. I just have to take some more time to find some of the questions for these odd answers I'm getting.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Love Love Love

I love my "Live Your Wild and Precious Life Now" telecourse. We only have a couple of calls left, which I am sad about, but I think we have developed a community that will continue to communicate and support each other.

I will miss them.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Planning the future

I have decided to take several art classes during winter term - there are a few at Portland Community College that I am interested in. One is about exploring creativity, one about creating a visual journal and one is about collaging and taking time for yourself - using art to help you do that.

So, I'm signing up for them. This week. I haven't been able to do it because registration is only during regular business hours and I'm always at work, but I have the CRNs and all the pertinent information, so I'm almost there.

I can't wait! I have been wanting to do this for a long time. Join me, if you want!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Huh? and double HUH?

I have been working on the internet and doing stuff today and I turned the TV on for a little noise. Watching the end of the "2008 Ironman World Championships" on some local channel, I keep tearing up. Folks who have overcome personal tragedy, physical barriers, emotional trauma...It was moving.

Weird for me, in some ways, to be crying over people I've never even heard of...but it is like the Olympics - hearing people's personal stories and knowing they have gone through so much to be where they are.

What a Sunday afternoon. :)


I started watching figure skating. It is always hard to know which event and even for which year. The sportscasters are talking about qualifying for Vancouver, so it is probably a fairly recent event...called, "'s Skate America".

I'm not kidding.

I had to stop what I was doing and listen to them say it more than 3 times before I actually realized that the sponsor of the event...was Doesn't have a much better cause to sponsor? No offense to figure skating, but...shouldn't the money go

I'm not even sure what to say. When stadiums first started being named for corporations, I didn't know that Staples Center was named for the STORE Staples...I thought it was the last name of someone or...the town it was in...or...something. The Blue Cross/Blue Shield stadium just doesn't have the right ring to it that say, "Yankee Stadium" or "Wrigley Field" has. But really?'s Skate America? I had to turn it off.

The Joy Diet: Laughter

We are in the home stretch of this journey with "The Joy Diet". I must admit it has been a bit of a struggle for me to keep up, but it is because of the barriers that I continue to perservere. All the things in my life that are pulling me away from this book and practice are the things that tell me I need to be paying attention to this book all the more.

So, for laughter - one of the best things the book says about laughter is, "The more stressful, dangerous, baffling, or unpleasant your situation, the more important it is to laugh at it." I know this is true, but sometimes laughter isn't easy to come by in those situations.

I like the idea of a LPD (laughs per day) Quotient. Seems like it makes sense to take little laugh breaks. There was also a list of ways to ensure that you laugh enough - reading funny books, watching funny TV programs, visiting funny websites, going to comedy clubs, etc.

One of the things I am most proud of is that often, people who I engage with socially will end the evening saying, "I love hanging out with you. I always laugh so hard my stomach/sides/cheeks hurt." It makes me so happy to be able to make people laugh. Their joy makes me laugh. It is infectious and healthy. I consider that one of my greatest talents/gifts. Wow. I just realized that. I have known that in my head, but that was the first time I ever wrote it out like that. Making people laugh is a gift. A gift I love giving. Hmmm. I have to think about this. Maybe this relates to my post for Play...

I think I'm done now...I have to go laugh and think.


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