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.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

The Joy Diet: Play (Catch Up)

This question starteled me as I was reading "The Joy Diet" Chapter on Play: What did you do on the evening of September 11, 2001? I did not live in New York or Pennsylvania or Washington D.C., but the impact of that day was an earthquake to my equilibrium just the same. I grew up with an Air Force dad, a man who worked every day to make the world and the U.S. safer for everyone. I NEVER imagined something like the terrorist attack happening in the U.S. How arrogant of me, right? But that was from my upbringing. And when it all happened, I mourned my innocence (naivete?) just like many other Americans did.

I know that that night, I sat at home with my family and we watched the news and prayed. We sat close and ate together and kept hoping for survivors. In the days that came after, I reconnected with some friends, I reconnected with my soul. I cried every night thinking about the loss of all those lives. I reconnected with music and every evening, I would listen to music and weep. I found the "Here is New York: A Democracy of Photos" website and immersed myself in the images - trying to make some kind of sense out of things.

So, for Play, the book asked several questions and I'm not sure I have the answer to these questions...I think that is part of my problem.

1. Figure out what your career really is. The book says to think about what was really important after experiencing some kind of tragedy and to remind ourselves that our "career" consists of ways we want to change the world or experiences you want to have before your life is over. For me, after tragedy (9/11, Roby's death, my dad's death, other friends' deaths), the only really important things are the people in my life. All the other "stuff" falls by the wayside. I suppose for me, the experiences I want to have are just to have lived fully and appreciated and enjoyed the people close to me. I'd like to keep writing, but there isn't ONE thing that I haven't done that I consider the thing I have to do before I die.

2. (I jumped over several items on the list...)Be like water flowing. This is about resiliance and flowing more naturally. I think after all my experiences with Death and illness, this is something that I am focused on and moving towards. I haven't made the jump completely, but I feel like I move more towards "flowing" as I get older.

To be honest, I was kind of surprised at how un-fun play could seem in this book. I have been looking most forward to this chapter and it was kind of a flop for me. A couple of weeks ago, I think I wrote about the fact that one of the qualities I am most proud to have is the ability to play. I may be a work-a-holic, I may be too serious sometimes, but I have never lost my willingness and ability to play. I love toys and color and coloring and making art. I love to play games and I love to laugh and tell stories and be silly. Whether I find my "true career" or not, I believe that this kind of play is what saves my life. To be able to take a moment away, to enjoy being silly or blowing bubbles or using crayon shavings and wax paper to make art - those things make the non-fun stuff possible. That is what play is for me. I know that the things that are discussed in this chapter are important, but I wouldn't call them play. Just my opinion...

Friday, November 13, 2009

New Friends and "Top Chef"

Recently, I have been hearing the name of someone and then I was exposed to his blog and then I finally met him in a work situation and tonight, we had a social engagement. It was so nice to have an opportunity to engage with someone socially and to be who I am now and not have to carry any old ghosts or baggage into the room with me. We went to Pho Van on 34th and Hawthorne and I had the MOST DELICIOUS Ginger chicken. Yum! 3 hours of conversation, good food and it was FRIDAY!!

Now, I am all set to watch some episodes from Season 5 of "Top Chef". I saw like 3 episodes 2 years ago and I have been looking for it on DVD since then. Finally, I found Season 5 on I LOVE this show. It is so good to finally see it instead of remembering that I thought I liked it.

So, on this Friday the 13th, I am having a great day. Hopefully, I will be able to stay awake for a whole episode.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Sing! - Robert Merrill

"When in doubt, sing loud." ~ Robert Merrill

I woke up a few minutes ago and am not feeling well. I picked up something to read and saw that quote from Robert Merrill and it immediately made me smile and think about something more pleasant than what I am feeling right now, so I decided that as long as I was awake, I would write about something that makes me happy.

I have probably said this before, but I miss singing in the car with Roby. It was one of the best things about our relationship. He actually had a lovely and robust tenor voice and liked to sing the female role in any duet. I have a not-as-lovely alto (or lower) voice and I would just sing the opposite role in any duet. In the "Mountain Duet" from "Chess", I sang the Russian and he sang Florence. In "I Know Him So Well", he sang Florence and I sang the Russian's Wife. We also loved singing "The Embassy Lament" from "Chess" which always reminded us both of Oompa Loompas.

We also sang "Les Miz" together - he liked to sing Javert and I Jean Valjean. We used to sing EVERYTHING together - Everything but the Girl, Alison Moyet, name it. "Phantom of the Opera" though - he loved to sing Phantom. I think he saw himself in the same way - lost, alone, emotionally tortured. He related to that emotional space so much.

Anyway, I miss belting out songs with him. Sometimes, now, when I'm driving to work, I will put on "Defying Gravity" from "Wicked" or a song from "Spring Awakening" and just let it rip. Not too often - it isn't the same singing alone. But it does hearken back to those days. That carefree attitude and spirit that people have when they are young. We weren't ever carefree, really, but we pretended that we were. :)

If I don't start feeling better soon, maybe I will just belt out a tune. It might help.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

What moved me tonight

For some reason, I fell down the rabbit hole of YouTube again. I always call it is such a crazy, wondrous place where I can waste far, far too much time.

Tonight, I ended up being moved by this song - "Praying For Time". First I listened to Carrie Underwood's version on "Idol Gives Back":

Carrie Underwood – Praying for Time on Idol Gives Back 2008

Then George Michael's version:

This led me to "Love is in Need of Love Today". Roby and I fell in love with this song and it suited us perfectly on those nights when we were mourning the loss of our innocence and the fact that he had HIV. I think we thought somehow love (something) would swoop in and save the day. Save his life. It didn't. "AIDS going round, breaking many hearts. So stop it please before it's gone too far."

"Love. Give the world love." Yeah. That.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The Joy Diet: Treats (Catching Up)

I have been keeping up with the readings but not always the activities in "The Joy Diet" that I am reading with a group of incredible women. For more information, click on the "Joy Diet" button on the left side of the blog.

The chapter on treats was a good chapter to remind me that there have to be some joys in life in between the work.

Step One: Compile a list of spontaneous smile sparkers
1. pictures of friends
2. thoughts of beach vacation(s)
3. planning art projects
4. movies that are coming out soon
5. cute kittens on
6. BookFest
7. pink or multicolored things
8. kindness
9. looking at stars
10. musical theatre

From step two: Catalog of Sensory Delights (list 5 things that give you sensory pleasure):

1. I love the taste of lemons, coconut, pumpkin pie, garlic bread, Reece's peanut butter eggs.

2. I love the sight of the ocean, pink sparkly things, books, colorful art, smiling friends.

3. I love the feel of water, chenille blankets, someone washing my hair, sunshine in February, a big, sincere bear hug.

4. I love the smell of garlic bread, Opium cologne, Kouros cologne, freesia, clean sheets.

5. I love the sound of laughter, the opening notes of "Les Miserables", the ocean rushing over the rocks at Rock Beach, elephants calling, guinea pigs squeaking.

One last activity was called "Practice Divine Decadence" where we were to put down our virtues and then do something that went against that. I haven't done it consciously, but I did do it recently. I am hardworking and work long hours. Recently, after a particularly emotional week at work, after completing all my tasks in less than 8 hours, I left work after only 7 hours. It felt like I had eaten a whole pound of chocolate or something...decadent. I didn't really delve into this, I just realized when I was thinking about posting on this topic that I had really given myself that treat without realizing it. If I had it every day, it wouldn't be a treat, so I enjoyed it for what it was.

Monday, November 9, 2009

The Joy Diet: Risk (Catching Up)

I am still working through "The Joy Diet" with The Next Chapter blogger Book club. I have struggled a little with keeping up and staying timely with the blog posts, but I'm not so far behind that I can't keep up and come into the home stretch with all my fellow JoyDieters.

The ingredient we read about a couple of weeks ago (smile) was Risk. This chapter freaked me out - even the idea of reading it. I didn't want to go there. I am not a risk-taker. At all. I got my first interpreting job because someone called me a chicken, not because I was smart enough or brave enough to apply on my own. I think I could almost get a negative risk score except that I can do a couple of things that scare people - theatrical interpreting and some limited public speaking. I think that pulls me out of the negative in risk-taking willingness.

So, after reading this chapter, I was hoping to find some hints and helps for approaching risk. There wasn't as much there as I might have liked, but I did have an opportunity to think about some of the risks I have taken to do the things I love.

One of the suggestions is to think about the smallest possible risk we could take to achieve our heart's desire. When I stopped to think about it, I realized that not only had I taken a risk in that area, but it was more than a small risk. Writing this blog - taking the leap of faith to record my thoughts here and not freak out every time someone I know starts reading it is a HUGE RISK. It has been worth it. Not only do I enjoy and gain from writing the blog, but I have so enjoyed getting to know folks (both those I already know in 3D world and those I only know in cyberland). I love the art and artistic aspects that have entered my world when I thought that part of my life was dead. I have learned to take better pictures (I still have so much to learn, but I am DOING IT).

I'm not sure what other small risks I could take, or even what I could do progressively to get my heart's desire. I'm not even sure I know what that is - my heart's desire. It isn't one thing. It is a hundred small things that all add up to a joyful, more present life. Isn't that what I'm doing? That is certainly why I picked up "The Joy Diet". The road always looks a certain way at the beginning, but I find, more and more, that the scenery is much different once you get started.

Anyway, I didn't actually risk anything for this book at this time, but I am formulating and I found the opportunity to look at risks I've taken so far in my life/career. I guess that's all of my rambling for now. :)

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Realization for the Blog

See, I realized that every time I run out of theme-ish stuff to write about, I get bogged down in the mundane life stuff which is what I want to escape from here!!! What is that about?

So, I am freshly looking for a November theme that I will continue to carry out for this month. Obviously, if I have something to say that is not on the theme, that is fine, but otherwise, I'm going back to my tried and true theme/quote inspired posts.

I guess that is to say that it bores ME to just write about how busy I am and how much I want to have more time. The thoughts are in my head whether I write them or not, so why make us all suffer. :)

If you have any brilliant thematic ideas you would like to share, feel free to let me know. I have a couple of ideas, but I haven't settled on anything.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Holiday Madness Approaches

I can feel the onslaught of the holidays creeping up. My friend Todd wrote a post about the encroaching commercialism on his blog, RumpusMax. Basically, we skipped October and jumped straight to December. It kind of boggles the mind.

My deal is that I don't need any more stuff, and I'm pretty sure that most other people I know don't need it, either. How do I reconcile that thought with the American belief that the way we show caring is by buying a lot of useless crap that folks don't need and will stuff away in a bag until they know you are coming over to visit. Last year was exciting because I gave out a ton of copies of "Life is a Verb" which made me very happy. This year, I have yet to find the quintessential "Jean" gift. I'm hoping to find one...something that is meaningful and conveys care and does not just gather dust.

Wish me luck.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Food for Thought

I went to an excellent workshop tonight and will finish up tomorrow. I felt tired going into the workshop, but as always, once I was there, I was happy to be there. This workshop is on Ethics and Decision-Making based on an interpreter from Minnesota's research for her thesis. Not only was the topic fascinating, it was so good to be in a room with people as a peer.

On another note, I got to see some friends I hadn't seen in a very long time and that was the best gift I received from the workshop. I miss the interaction I had with other interpreters when I was out there doing the work every day. Strangely, I still identify myself as an interpreter. When people ask me what I do, I don't say, "I'm a manager." That isn't who I am the way that being an interpreter is...isn't that strange? Being an interpreter is the sum total of who I am either, but when someone asks me, that is my first response.

While I'm glad I signed up for the workshop, I am pooped and have given up a day of "rest" to attend. So, bed is calling.

Thursday, November 5, 2009


So, why does it always happen that I am the most busy when I just want to crawl in a hole and sleep for a thousand years? The time change has kicked me in the butt - I don't know why it always affects me so strongly. It doesn't matter if we are springing forward or falling back - it just throws me off.

My plate is overflowing - more like a clogged toilet, really. I know that sounds gross, but that's what it feels like, just running water with no place to go. I feel like all I am doing right now is working...because, basically, that's all I'm doing. I have my work. And my work (interpreting) and my work (teaching) and my work (evaluating) and then there's the grading and the prepping and the checking of the 20 different email accounts. Then there is the class I'm taking for MYSELF.
Honestly, it is all my own fault - I'm trying to maintain the ties I have built over time, but it is getting harder. Or I'm just getting older.

Mostly, I just want to have time off that doesn't involve feeling guilty that I'm not doing some kind of work to catch up. Next term, I will have it. It is close. I can feel it. I'm just tired and whiny NOW.

Anyway, I'm behind on "The Joy Diet" and "The Artist's Way" and I miss popping into the blogs of the other folks. I have a workshop this weekend that I'm excited about and workshops on Monday and Tuesday for work. Looks like, for now, I will continue to be a bit behind. I'm catching up on the work (teaching), so that's good. Just missing my freedom a little. And excited to do some art as my reward for surviving. That's a great reward to look forward to...

I was driving behind a car this morning that had a great bumper sticker - I want one: ART SAVES LIVES. Ain't that the truth?

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Happy 40th Birthday, Sesame Street!

I'm pretty sure that I started watching "Sesame Street" within 2-3 seasons of the show starting. I remember watching it when I lived in Denver, the very first place I ever lived. "Sesame Street" and "The Electric Company" with Rita Moreno and Morgan Freeman were two of the shows that live most strongly in my memory - and "The New Zoo Revue"(sp). My sister was into "Mr. Rogers" and although I thought he seemed nice enough, I thought he was BORING.

So, in tribute to "Sesame Street" and the Children's Television Workshop and all the good they did for kids and literacy and many other important topics, here are a few videos to job your memory.

Here is the original 1970s "Sesame Street" theme song video:

Here is the old version of "Menomena" from the 1970s, too. I love the mouths on the girl puppets when they get annoyed with his scatting. This boy muppet looks like the first version of Animal who was on "The Muppet Show" later.

C Is for Cookie - in honor of Cookie Monster, who apparently will be retiring so they can have the Carrot Monster so that kids will not want to eat cookies (because Cookie Monster is the only reason kids want cookies, you know. :( )

Cute Kid with Kermit - ABCDEF...Cookie Monster

Inch Worm from Season 3

and one of my favorite characters - Grover!! I loved him when I was a kid. I always loved the book "The Monster at the End of this Book" with him in it, too.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Art Journal Crush

It pays to talk about random topics with people when you have never talked about the topic with them before.

Today, I was talking with a co-worker and for some reason, I felt compelled to say that I was wanting to take a class in Art Journaling. Her eyes lit up and she immediately showed me the blog and website of a woman who must have taken a peek into my brain at some point during my childhood! Her use of color, the way the images filled the page, the brightness! Oh my! I swoon.

Go visit Teesha Moore's art and journals here.

I still don't really know much about Art Journals, but I will. She has tutorials on YouTube and on her blog, so I'm going to figure this out and do me some art. It might not be until after this term is over, but I am very excited about the possibilities! Color! Images! Words! Fun!

Monday, November 2, 2009

The Joy Diet: Risk

I read the chapter on Risk and I haven't spent a bunch of time with it, but what I know is this:

I am not a willing risk-taker. I have always been resistant to change, but I am trying to work through that. I know that to achieve success, to achieve the joy and peace I am looking for - even for a brief moment, I will have to risk. Daily, we get up and risk rejection, death, risk ourselves emotionally, physically, spiritually. I know that risk is a part of life and that if I practice taking reasonable risks, I will gain so much more than I ever dreamed.

Most recent big risk- creating and keeping up this blog. Some of my friends have accidentally come upon my blog and read it occasionally. I have joined a couple of groups, this book group included, and have willingly exposed myself to the scrutiny of others. 10 years ago, I'm not sure I could have done that. Daily, I struggle with what topic I want to write about, with what is appropriate for this blog and what should be kept private or relegated to other kinds of conversations. I love keeping the blog, I love the visitors, I love putting my thoughts out there and waiting for comments or just "hellos".

When I was younger, my fondest dream was to become a writer. I hadn't really formed a "kind of writer" in my mind, but I think I always thought I would write novels. This is writing. It isn't quite what I imagined myself doing all those years ago, but it IS writing. It is communicating with people. Perhaps the poetry is missing - I haven't practiced writing poetry in a long time, however, I am still doing it. I am writing. Every day, for almost a year (with a few video or photo posts in-between all the written posts). I am happy. I am a writer of sorts. I am still searching for the ultimate goal, but I know that I will continue to write, regardless of what I decide to do with it.

I am still processing the Risk chapter of "The Joy Diet" and probably will for a little while. This ingredient is a difficult one for me to swallow. I have decided to move on to "TREATS". :)

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Robert Downey Jr., "The Soloist" and Mental Illness

I just finished watching "The Soloist". I had mixed feelings about wanting to see the film as I have had enough of my own experiences with mentally ill people - I'm never sure if I will be in the mood to have mental illness be the topic of something that is supposed to be "entertaining".

Which brings up another topic...drug abusers... I LOVE Robert Downey Jr.  I think he is one of the most talented actors of his generation, to say the very least.  Every time he was arrested or went to rehab, it was a little bit heartbreaking to think of someone with such talent having such problems.  Interestingly, he is the only "celebrity" who has been on the addiction/rehab/prison merry-g0-round whom I have continued to have an interest in.  I loved him in his early movies, in "Heart and Souls" and "Chaplin", in "Only You" and more recently in his comeback smash, "Ironman".  There is just something about his eyes that draw me in. I'm glad he seems to have overcome his demons and his past.

As for the movie, I thought it was well-done, very thoughtful and had powerful performances by both RDJ and Jamie Foxx.  For me, however, I felt somewhat removed from it - I was expecting a more emotional experience, but I didn't really go there.  Again, I believe it is due to my own personal experiences with actual people who have mental illness - it is difficult for me to watch and to engage in this topic.  I would recommend the film as it does give a unique perspective and shows some of the pitfalls of trying to "fix" people who are not interested in being fixed.  I recommend RDJ's performance as well as Jamie Foxx's turn as Nathaniel, a talented musician who is also schizophrenic and homeless.  


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