Saturday, January 31, 2009
Anyway, I'm very proud of the last two months of Nablopomo because I have been experimenting with ways to keep myself on track, to keep writing about stuff I want to, but to try to keep it interesting. Nobody cares what I ate for lunch yesterday - ya know? So having themes is kind of cool...I'm on the fence about February...I only have today to decide...the theme is WANT. I don't know if I can talk about that every day, but I also know that I like being accountable - knowing that I committed to writing here daily really keeps me motivated. Anyway, I will decide what to do later today. More as I know more.
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? ...Your playing small doesn't serve the world. There's nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. ... It's not just in some of us, it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” ~Marianne Williamson
I have been saving this one for last...This quote is often attributed to Nelson Mandela, but Marianne Williamson actually said it. I'm not sure if it is from one of her lectures or if she actually wrote it in one of her books. I know it doesn't have the WORD "change" in it - but it is about changing how we present ourselves to the world.
I have written here before about how Marianne Williamson and her lectures helped me through Roby's death. Her style, her perspectives, the information still resonates with me , even though I don't necessarily listen to her on a daily basis.
When you read the quote, think about all the ways that we "play small" in a day. I still do it sometimes. We deflect compliments, downplay our strengths, include others in our accomplishments so that they won't feel bad, so that we won't feel guilty, so that people won't think, "Wow, s/he has a big head." I think there is a way to be proud of ourselves and feel good about ourselves, our accomplishments or whatever without lording it over people.
As an interpreter, we work in this mentality of scarcity (by the way, I looked this word up and while it is spelled correctly according to Webster's, it looks weird). There is always a fear that we will not get enough work, that we won't get that all day job. I know that the ACTUAL amount of work has changed due to VRS and people taking on more full-time jobs, but I see the mentality is still there. Interpreters taking as much work as possible because you never know what is going to happen next week.
What I have learned and what I was trying to practice before taking a full time job was that there is enough work to go around. There is enough space in the world for us all to shine where we can, and to figure out/learn to shine in the areas where we would like to shine. My shining shouldn't take away from YOUR ability to shine - it should serve as an example of what is possible. I love that what is POSSIBLE is endless. I don't read a well-written book and think, "Well, now they are a great author, so I never could be. There isn't enough space for another good author." What it really means is WOW!! Another great author - that means people will be looking for someone to read after... Another good interpreter! Excellent - that means I will have someone great to work with if I can work at that level.
I'm feeling a little rambly now, so I'm going to stop. Hopefully, my intention is there, regardless of the mess I made in explaining it.
Friday, January 30, 2009
"All change is not growth, as all movement is not forward." ~Ellen Glasgow
Lately, I have found myself saying, "Just because we can, doesn't mean we should." This applies to technology, mostly.
Take for example the change from analog television to digital. Oddly enough, Europe has been digital for many years and the U.S. had the opportunity to change, but like choosing VHS format over Betamax, we drove too far down the wrong road. Now, we are looking Feb. 17 in the face, the people who probably needed those coupons for the digital converter box didn't get them and now the money has run out. Congress was debating whether or not to postpone the changeover, but now with the economy the way it is, TV stations all over the country are supporting digital and analog stations and they can't wait to change over and only provide one service.
The boxes are complicated and if you ever want to watch one channel while taping another, forget it. You have to have a converter box for both the TV and the VCR. It's ridiculous. I understand why they are making the change, but I get so sick of the ploys to get me to buy stuff all over again. We are supposed to be trying to simplify things, not rebuy every video we every purchased again in DVD or BlueRay or HiDef. Ugh. I refuse to be caught up in all of that.
Another fine example that illustrates that all change is not progress - DVD players in cars. I understand the theory about why people might think this is a good idea, however, the first ad I ever saw for one of the Vans with a DVD player in it was one of the most horrific examples of why we SHOULDN'T have DVD players in cars. In the commercial, two lovely parents put their two lovely, but rambunctious young children in the car, strap them in and plug them in. The kids are totally enraptured by the cartoon on the DVD with their little headphones on and all is quiet for Mommy and Daddy to drive to work - no contact with their little ones, no learning happening, no connecting, no singing, no family interaction. Just zombied out little kids who will be deaf from all the earplug listening they do.
Or...(I'm on a roll...haha) teeny, tiny televisions. I bought an iPod nano and it apparently has video capability. I don't want to watch a two inch movie. I don't think it is healthy. I don't think I need to watch any more video than I already do. But we can, so we do. When are we going to have legislation that says no video watching while you drive? How many pedestrians will be hit by cars because they were watching the TV in their watch?
I'm a fairly liberal person, but lately, I have marveled at the lack of restraint we all seem to have. We all buy whatever we want, whenever we want. We have all this crap (myself included) and there is no anticipation. There is no thought about why something might be a good or a bad idea. Will it affect our health? Will it affect our planet? Will it hurt us later?
Take for example wireless internet and all the cell phone towers and whatnot. Now I am reading that many birds get confused and off track due to the electrical currents of wifi and cell towers and all that. This year, they are having an epidemic of pelican deaths - seems they didn't fly south early enough because of global climate change and then when they did, many of them got confused due to the "stuff" in the atmosphere, flew off course and are now dying off in record numbers. Will all of this affect our chemistry? Our weather? Will we just eventualy be born with a bluetooth in our ear like the Borg?
I know this is a rant, so bear with me. I don't obsess about this on a daily basis...these are just a few of the things that keep my brain busy all the time.
Thursday, January 29, 2009
It is funny how things pop up in suddenly in a spate of similar incidents. This week, I had several conversations about physical appearance and in the last few weeks, I have been trying to notice those kinds of changes because it seems expected of me.
1. Friend asks if she has lost enough weight for it to be noticable. (I hadn't noticed...)
2. Friend is wearing new glasses but it takes me a week to notice them. When I do notice, I realize right away that they have been wearing them for a while.
3. Friend has lost significant amount of weight. I comment on it and they tell me a story about how their family has not mentioned their change in lifestyle and physical appearance.
My story for them is the same...I don't SEE them, I see THEM. I know it doesn't seem like it is that different when you see those words in writing...I rarely notice people's new haircuts. I notice bright clothes or new cute shoes or a change of hair color (if it is dramatic), but things like new glasses, losing/gaining a few pounds - those changes in physical appearance don't phase me. I'm not sure why...I think because my heart just sees the person. I see "Bob", not "Bob" looking great or terrible or tired or with a new piercing. It sounds stupid, I know...I usually notice all kinds of little, insignificant details and they clog up my brain, but these things don't really register for me right away.
When my friend Chris was sick (see November posts), people would say to me, "Oh, he is SO thin..." but he had always been painfully thin, so he just was Chris to me. People said he looked ill and I couldn't really see it. I guess the glass I see through for these things is a bit distorted - like my mind took a photograph of them and superimposed it on top of what they really look like. Even when Roby was sick, he just looked like my beautiful friend, Roby. All I could see was the radiance that flowed out of him for me.
One conversation made me think that I should try to be more aware, so that is where I commented on my friend's glasses and on my other friend's weight loss...I guess it feels weird to me because what I really care about is the person - are they happy? are they feeling well? do they need anything? it is good to see them... It seems weird to have to apologize for seeing the beauty that is them even when they have a crappy haircut. I know it is important to folks to have their people recognize these changes, so I am willing to try to SEE the real image instead of the remembered one.
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
I just talked with a co-worker today and we have agreed to take a class together. This is very exciting and fits under the category of "creating oneself endlessly". I love classes - little peeks into other worlds. The peek either opens your own world a bit or makes you really happy that you live in your world and not the one you are peeking at.
If I won the lottery, the main thing I would do with the money (after an initial investment so that I wouldn't have to worry about retirement) is go back to school. Being an interpreter made me curious about so many things...I don't want to change careers...I just want to learn more. I would love to study Human Resource stuff, Art Therapy...I would love to go to cooking school. I would love to learn how to edit film and to learn about photography. I want to learn how to bind books and make paper and how to write a memoir. I would love to take personal finance classes and classes on Dream Weaver so that I could make a fabulous website that might live up to the images in my head. Pottery, digitizing old film/slides, different kinds of art. I'd love to take a theatre appreciation class...and maybe a speed reading class.
I guess that isn't so much creation as renovation. I would love to be a person who is continually renovated - like those people who are always doing something to their house - perennial make-overs. Wouldn't that be fun? (I guess I'm more daring with my person than I am with my hair.)
I'm sure there are many other ways I need to be renovated, but that is a subject for a whole different post. Smile.
Tuesday, January 27, 2009
"Oh, for the love of Pete! Change the theme already!" ~Jean Miller
That's right...I'm quoting the little voice in my head...I started out strong, but man, is it hard to talk about change in meaningful ways EVERY DAY. I keep looking for quotes that relate to my mood, my thoughts, etc. I'm fresh out. And I'm out of the energy to look for more quotes. Luckily, quoting myself is only against my own rules, and those can be broken without dire consequences. Smile.
I went back to work yesterday for a very long day and then a frustrating day in the snow today where I found that PT Cruisers have a weird little light that shows when your tires are sliding/skidding on ice and not able to find traction. I was stuck for an HOUR with the public safety folks driving around like maniacs where I was. It was annoying and a little bit stressful to see their big SUV careening towards me on the solid block of ice that was the road. I finally made it to work and had one of those days that I just couldn't get it together. By the time I got home, I was exhausted and took a nap immediately after arriving home.
Here are a couple of terrible photos from my sidekick when I was stuck today.
Monday, January 26, 2009
"We did not change as we grew older; we just became more clearly ourselves." ~Lynn Hall
As I was driving home today, I was remembering the panic a friend of mine had when he was coming up on his 30th?? birthday. When I asked him what he was worried about, he said, "I won't be relevant in the MTV polls anymore!" Those polls only really focused on viewers from age 17-29.For me, aging has been a process of unfolding and discovering - I am changed in some ways, but I relate to the idea of becoming more clearly myself. Roby died right after his 29th birthday and I couldn't imagine what I would do without him as a 30 year old, a 35 year old, 40 year old. When he died, I was lost to myself - he had been sick and so our eating habits had changed, our social circle had tightened up. I didn't know what kind of food I liked, what kind of movies I liked, what kind of music made my heart sing...I saw everything through his eyes. Every day we had was a miracle and we never knew how long it was going to last, so I just kept experiencing life with him, through him, until I couldn't anymore.
Now, I am not afraid to say what books I like or if I liked a movie or and actor or to show a preference for an ethnic restaurant instead of one that serves American food. He didn't hold me back - he just shone so brightly that sometimes, it was easier to just stare into the light instead of always trying to shield my eyes. I don't regret a minute of it - but I think it gave me a true view of this BECOMING. I am not so changed from who I was. I am just more confident. More comfortable. More Jean. As Dr. Seuss would say, "Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You."
Sunday, January 25, 2009
This post is about a movie, based on a true story, where the people involved made decisions that literally SAVED their lives - their destiny was completely altered (or fulfilled, depending upon your belief system) by the decisions they made. Powerful stuff.
I have been meaning to write something about the movie I saw last Monday. I knew the minute I saw the trailer that I wanted to see "Defiance". I always see movies about the Holocaust...I lived in Germany as a child (what was West Germany at the time) and my father's good friend was an Auschwitz survivor. We visited Dachau and Anne Frank's house and those early experiences sparked something in me that made me want to learn more, to remember the Holocaust and the survivors and work towards educating people in whatever small ways that I can.
I thought the movie was very well cast, well acted and told a unique story about the Holocaust – a story about unlikely heroes, who by happenstance, saved about 1200 Jewish people from the Nazis in Belorussia. Four brothers (Daniel Craig, Liev Schrieber, Jamie Bell and George McKay) escape to the forest to avoid capture by the encroaching Nazis. Their story is unique and true – based on the book, “Defiance: The Bielski Partisans” by Nechama Tec. I have not read the book, so I can’t speak to the film’s adherence to its original text.
I can say that Edward Zwick’s usual beautiful style is present here, but also elements that ring true for me. One thing I hate is when I am watching a movie about the Holocaust (or any movie that takes place outside of the U.S.) and anyone who would normally have an accent (to us) speaks with an English accent OR, half the people in the film speak with an accent and the famous U.S. actors (cough, Tom Cruise) have their usual American accent. This film does not do that. Are the accents authentic – I’m no expert, but they sounded good to me. Hearing an American accent in a film like this just yanks me out of the story.
One line that really stuck with me was said by Tuvia Bielski, Daniel Craig’s character: “Every day of freedom is an act of faith.” How apropos after this week in our country…to just stop and realize that we have SO MUCH…we have so much freedom that we take for granted every day. I like the reminder that freedom isn’t free – and I don’t mean that in the “Join the army” way. I just mean that we are the lucky recipients of hard-won rights and freedoms and it doesn’t hurt to remember that blood was spilled on our behalf – by soldiers, by civilians. We are incredibly lucky and maybe a little faith in humanity wouldn’t go amiss.
Anyway, off my soapbox. I just wanted to share thoughts on a good movie. I cried, I was moved. I became a Daniel Craig fan and I fell in love with Alexa Davalos and Mia Wasikowska (Lilka and Chaya). I have always loved Liev Schrieber. Enjoy the trailer here and there is a second, different one at www.defiancemovie.com.
Saturday, January 24, 2009
"What you resist, persists." ~Carl Jung
Do you think colds and flu count in this theory? 'cause I have been resisting...I have been getting more sleep, taking Sambucol syrup, taking my Vitamins (including extra D3- all the rage), drinking tons of water and I'M STILL SICK!! What's that about, anyway?
I thought it was a headcold with all its usual symptoms, but yesterday, fluey symptoms came...headcold and the flu! That's not right!
So, I am going back to bed to sleep through Armageddon and/or Titanic (good lord, has it been 10 years...) again. I don't know why the noise of it is comforting, but I will take sleep where I can get it.
Friday, January 23, 2009
"If nothing ever changed, there'd be no butterflies." ~Author Unknown
What a grand way to look at change! It is so hard to make true and lasting change in our lives, in the world. But to think that at the end it might be as beautiful as a monarch butterfly - wouldn't that make us jump onboard?
I am still feeling under the weather today, but I think I was able to put all the *yuck* from yesterday into perspective. Changing the view usually helps a bit. :)
I know that all this talk of change is probably a bit repetetive - I am trying to explore the different aspects of change as I see it, but I think, by day 23, it has become more difficult to talk about change in new or different or relevant ways. Bear with me. :) I'm just trying something new in the blog.
In the spirit of changing things up for you, dear readers, I decided to send you on a journey, if you choose to take it. When I was younger, I found a book called, "I Never Saw Another Butterfly", a book of poetry, art and stories by children who were held and most likely died at Terezin Concentration camp. This book shows their courage and ability to maintain some hope, to cope with the most horrific circumstances and still hold a light up to the darkness. I don't know if the story is true, but I read that when the Allied forces entered Terazin, they were going from building to building to find survivors and when they entered the children's ward, they noticed that there were strange colors in the knotholes in the wood of the building. Upon investigating, they found that the children had hidden their poems and drawings there in hopes that they would not be destroyed.
Anyway, the Holocaust Museum in Houston has a "Butterfly Project" that I think is really beautiful. Read about it here and see if you'd like to participate. If you do, I would love to see a photo of your handmade butterfly. I will post them here.
Thursday, January 22, 2009
"The truth is that our finest moments are most likely to occur when we are feeling deeply uncomfortable, unhappy, or unfulfilled. For it is only in such moments, propelled by our discomfort, that we are likely to step out of our ruts and start searching for different ways or truer answers.~M. Scott Peck
Well, if deeply uncomfortable is a prerequisite for a fine moment, I am on my way to some kind of miracle. I can't really go into details...
I will, however, say that I am sick and that makes everything so much worse. I am feeling overwhelmed and overstimulated and out of ideas about how to stave it off. I know that all the things I am doing to maintain my personal joys are helping - reading, this blog, personal connections, exploring how I can change my expectations and my perspective, however, I am out of energy and out of stiff-upper-lippy-ness.
I will return when I am feeling better.
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
~ Robert E. Quinn
Of all the changes I have written about so far this month, this is the most challenging but, I think, the most rewarding. I have not perfected this way of thinking but continually try to look at situations and think, "What is my part in this? What do I need to do differently? Can I respond differently? Is there another angle that I have not seen?"
My challenge is to remain calm while in the midst of these thoughts. Often, when I most need to be thinking them, my mind has probably left my body. I wish I was a more placid person sometimes. Having strong emotional reactions has its pros and cons - a pro is that I do have strong feelings about things. A con is that...I have strong feelings about things. I express them in certain ways that sometimes are either intimidating or distasteful to others. I have worked all my life to reign that in...it is a daily struggle.
I'm not sure if I've shared this story here before, so forgive me if I repeat myself. I just had a flash, so even though it is a little off-point, I'm going ahead...
When I was in the second grade, there was a girl in my class, Jill Foreman, who I admired and wanted to be friends with. She was one of those girls - beautiful, petit, waist-length golden hair. Everyone wanted to be around her and protect her and she seemed like she knew it. She and some of her friends were teasing me on the way home from school at one point. I was already tall enough that when we went to the base movie theatre, they asked for ID to prove I was under age 10. My mother had always drilled into us, "Never hit people who are smaller than you." (I'm pretty sure there were other caveats - don't hit people at all...but that isn't part of this story). I didn't say anything and didn't say anything and one day, she said something (I don't remember what) and I just SNAPPED! But I KNEW I could NOT hit her - she was at least a foot shorter than me...so, I picked her up and threw her in a mud puddle. After a satisfying splash, I turned and walked home, satisfied in the knowledge that I had not broken the rule.
When I arrived home, I confessed all to my mother, who is a saint for not laughing out loud at the absurdity of it all. Within minutes, the phone was ringing (a black, WWII era rotary phone) with Jill's mother on the line...apparently, she had been wearing a brand new coat and what was my mother going to do about it. (This story is much funnier in person, by the way...)
Needless to say, reigning in some of my reactions is difficult at times, but I know that sometimes all it takes is me changing my mind, changing the angle, changing my reaction. It's that old saying that if you are pointing at someone with one finger there are 4 others pointing back at you. I believe it, I work at it, but it is still the hardest kind of change there is. Initiating the change in myself.
Tuesday, January 20, 2009
What else is there to say today, really?
Monday, January 19, 2009
Martin Luther King, Jr. has always been one of my heroes. I still can't listen to him speak without crying. Today, on the day we have chosen to honor his birthday, I feel a sense of Dr. King looking down on us and smiling. I know that all the dreams he spoke of have not come to fruition, but my goodness, to have Barack Obama sworn in as the President of the United States of America the day after we honor Dr. King's birthday and life, that is definitely a step in the right direction.
Martin Luther King, Jr. epitomizes CHANGE to me. This month I am looking at all kinds of change from small changes we make in our personal lives to the changes in the country to changes needed in the world.
Below are two of Dr. King's most famous speeches - "I Have a Dream" from the 1963 March on Washington and the end of his final speech.
"I Have A Dream" Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. at the March on Washington
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. at the end of his last sermon
Peter, Paul and Mary - "Blowin' in the Wind"
Happy Birthday, Dr. King.
Sunday, January 18, 2009
"Every generation needs a new revolution."~ Thomas Jefferson
We are only days away from this generation's revolution. On Tuesday, Janaury 20, 2009, the United States of America will inaugurate its first African-American president. More importantly, we are moving towards a brighter future - ending 8 dark years.
The road for Barack Obama is not an easy one - it will not be easy for any of us in the days and months ahead, but we are moving towards a big change. Regardless of your political beliefs, this new president heralds in a new era. It is exhilerating and nerve-wracking at the same time.
Today, I went to Powell's Bookstore and I saw a copy of the 30th Anniversary Edition of "Roots" by Alex Haley. I didn't buy it yet because I have a big stack of books at home, but it is on my list. It is one of the most powerful reads of my life and I can't wait to read it again. It was in a display near "What Barack Obama is Reading"- I think it was in preparation for Black History Month in February. In any case, I want to re-read it as soon as possible.
I read this beautiful poem by Langston Hughes in the Oregonian newspaper today:
I, Too, Sing America
by Langston Hughes
I, too, sing America.
I am the darker brother.
They send me to eat in the kitchen
When company comes,
But I laugh,
And eat well,
And grow strong.
I'll be at the table
When company comes.
Say to me,
"Eat in the kitchen,"
They'll see how beautiful I am
And be ashamed--
I, too, am America.
I know that this post is somewhat random and scattered, but it is about how much America has changed, how much we want to change and how far we still have to go.
"Don't you know, we're talking about a revolution...it sounds like a whisper..." (Tracy Chapman)
Saturday, January 17, 2009
"Change is hard because people overestimate the value of what they have—and underestimate the value of what they may gain by giving that up."— James Belasco and Ralph Stayer"Flight of the Buffalo"(1994)
The first time I was really old enough to be present and aware when we moved was when we moved from Panama City, Florida to Portland (well, a suburb of Portland, anyway). I was 12 and had just left a home and a school and a neighborhood full of military kids - kids who had lived all over the world and who moved a lot and who's dad often did something mysterious for a living...there were always kids around to play with - even if sometimes they weren't the kids you were hoping to play with. I had a southern accent and I was used to swimming every day in summer, riding my bike all over creation, stores called TG&Y and Winn-Dixie and Church's Fried Chicken and Capt'n D's. Here, we moved to a house on a busy street across from a "development" - a place with a neighborhood association and rules about who could play in their parks and playgrounds and who couldn't. There were never any kids outside playing - even in the summer...the swimming pools required you to pay per hour. We had paid for the entire day, getting out only when the lifeguards yelled, "Adult swim! Everybody under 18 out of the pool!" and we would all get out and run around for 30 minutes while the adults swam - splash-free.
I remember distinctly a day, maybe a month or so into the school year when I was in the 7th grade...all the kids had known each other practically since birth, they had all gone to the same schools and had already developed their cliques. I had an accent and I spoke yearningly of my old life. I had gone to a "sixth grade center" the year before - an experiment to separate the older kids from the kindergarteners, train them to the more complex world of junior high school but at the same time, protect them from the 9th graders. My burgeoning friendships were weighed down by my longing for the past. My inability to grasp the new and embrace it really hindered me in those early days. One day, I could just see it in one of my friend-acquaintance's eyes - "If you say, 'when I was in Florida' one more time...". So I stopped saying it. And that was the beginning of not missing it so much.
For a military kid, it was a pretty easy lesson to learn. Even if my friend hadn't had that reaction, that phrase would have worked its way out soon - I was used to moving and finding new friends ASAP - adapting to the new life. It took a little longer here just because of the radical changes, but I got there.
Romanticizing the past is such a human thing to do - we make our fallen leaders, our old friends, our family members, our favorite stars seem like more than they were...What would JFK's legacy be had he lived? Or MLK's? What would Roby's life have been like if he had lived? What would more could Heath Ledger have done had he lived? Or Elvis? Marilyn? We long for the past that was mythically easier (or harder when that is more convenient). I understand it. I do it, too.
But I like the reminder. If your hands are full of the past, you can't pick up anything new.
Friday, January 16, 2009
I like this quote because the implication (in my opinion) is that you have to have some continuity as the base for the branches of change. If I have a solid foundation to stand on, I can try, do and branch out to all kinds of things. When I read this quote, I realized that sometimes I look for the continuity in the wrong places.
The continuity in my world is me...my choices, my friends and family, myself. I have to root myself in my beliefs, in my values, in my integrity and all the world can whiz by and the seasons can change and years pass by in seconds and it will all be ok because I am me and I am grounded in that. I guess that is what age brings - the stillness of self. Not in a bad, rutty, stagnant way, but in the zen, peaceful, calm stillness of knowing that everything will be ok.
For anyone who knows me - stillness and calm are not words that anyone would choose to describe me but there is an internal stillness, settledness that has nothing to do with excitability.
Does any of this make sense?
Thursday, January 15, 2009
I think this is the essence of change, isn't it?
Daily, I am challenged to see the world, my job, my decisions, people in my life, in a new light. To question my perspective, my assumptions, my world view, my reasons for action. Finding a positive reason, finding ways to see the good, to understand people, or at least to have more patience - these are the challenges I face.
I know that if I can just look at something in the daylight instead of the dark, I can find good. I can CHANGE MY MIND. The hardest change of all - changing my mind.
Wednesday, January 14, 2009
I love this quote. I don't really look back at my life and regret choices I have made or wonder what might have been. I do think that I can be better, do better, become the best version of myself. There are certainly paths I wish I had taken, but the road leads back around to those paths eventually.
When I was little - by the time I was 6, I was in love with books and the only thing I wanted to do, the only career I ever considered, was to be a teacher. I have always worshipped my teachers (see December Thanks-Giving posts for more details)but when my life finally arrived to the decision-making place, teaching was not the path I took. Mostly, I couldn't see the path...I felt like I was SUPPOSED to know how to pick the best college, how to get a scholarship, how to get into the right program... That pressure cowed me into not pursuing it at all. Add to that the fact that a month before I graduated from high school, my father was laid off from his job and there went a four year university. But, fast forward 10 years and I was beginning to teach in an interpreter training program. Different than I had imagined, but I became what I wanted to be - a teacher.
The only other thing I ever wanted to do in my life was to write...I started writing stories when I was pretty young...My mother says that she realized I was going to write when I was in the first grade and she went to a parent night and read some sentence I had written about the moon. She said she'd never heard of a six-year-old writing like that (she can't remember what exactly I'd written). After that, I started experimenting with writing. I wrote stories, copied stories that I liked, I fell in love with books and a short story that I never forgot - "The Scarlet Ibis"...I copied information out of the encyclopedia because I wanted to soak it all in and I think I believed that even copying stories would help me figure out how to write my own. In high school, I wrote poetry, wrote for the newspaper, took creative writing. I earned quite a bit of noteriety that way, but I never wrote the way I wanted to...I always wanted to be a more erudite writer - more sophisticated. Mostly, I have always written in a very conversational way and people know it is me when they read whatever it is that I wrote. I lost confidence in my writing for a long time. This blog is really my first venture back in about 10 years...after Roby died, I processed some of my grief through poetry, but it was so personal and raw...then I kind of gave it up to be busy. I have been running busy for a long time until finally, in the last few years, it didn't hurt so much to stand still. I think this blog was one of the ways that I have finally been able to stand to be with my thoughts. Another circular path.
What I might have been is who I still can be. I love that it is never too late. There is no expiration date. No deadline, except for the DEAD line. And I'm actively becoming. Actively being. That's a pretty good place to be.
Tuesday, January 13, 2009
The gifts of change is a topic I am pleased to write about today as I made a promise to myself this year and I have been keeping it and the gift of this change is HUGE.
As many of you might know, I have been struggling in my life to find/make the time to read. I thought for a while that maybe I had just lost the desire, the ability, the drive to sink myself into a good book. Last year, I tried to join Steve Duin's Reading Contest 2008 from The Oregonian and I failed - DISMALLY. I only read one complete fiction book THE ENTIRE YEAR. I think that is some kind of world record for negativity for me. I was devestated for much of the year at my failure to complete...I read parts of a lot of non-fiction, which tends to be something I can read in bits...I read most of "The Tipping Point" and a ton of books on Mangement, Rewarding people, psychology, blogging, creative writing...none of which I completed. Just one crappy paperback schlock novel that wasn't even very good. And the only reason I finished that one was because I was trapped in the Oakland airport for 12 hours with nothing else to do. I did read a number of scripts and librettos, but I don't really think that counts.
Anyway, my New Year's Resolution was to devote a minimum of 30 minutes per day to pleasure reading. Not stuff for work or interpreting jobs or how to do something - just pleasure. The only day I have missed so far was January 1 when I was working on interpreting "The Color Purple" that night. Last night, I read for about 2 hours.
I can totally feel that I am doing something for myself (in addition to writing this blog) and it is making a difference. I just feel happier. The other great thing is that I have been doing it long enough that it is kind of a habit...I get home from work and I want to immediately pick up my book.
Today, I had to get new tires put on and I got to sit in the lobby and read DURING THE DAYTIME!!! I was kind of annoyed when they called my name because all I really wanted to do was continue to read my book.
So, that is the good news. I wanted to report something that is REALLY working and a change that has truly been a gift to me. I love reading and I am thrilled to be back to my old bibliophile- wanna-be self.
Monday, January 12, 2009
I don't know if change is this easy, but I love the joy that I feel when I read William James' quote.
I remember this one period of time when I was first becoming an "adult" - I was still pretty young in the world - about 24 years old, I'd say. I'd seen a lot and experienced a lot, but in some ways, I was still pretty naive. I was such a people-pleaser and I couldn't really find my way out of it. At one point, a woman I was working with on "Kiss of the Spider Woman" said to me, "You say 'I'm sorry' too much. You don't have anything to be sorry about." I knew what she meant, but I also knew that I wasn't sorry in that I was apologizing - it was a form of empathy. Unfortunately, people perceive that kind of language in certain ways. She told me to pick a different phrase that could be adapted and still be sincere if that was what I was feeling. We chose, "Gee, that's too bad." The meaning of the phrase could be "Gee, THAT'S too bad" as in "how unfortunate" or "Gee, that's too BAD" meaning "Oh, how awful". [For those of you who have never had a way of responding so ingrained in you as to automatically say, "I'm sorry" at other people's misfortune, it may be difficult to understand why I wouldn't just say "Oh, how awful" in lieu of a pat phrase...It's a learning technique that works for some of us. That's all I can say in such a small space.]
I learned that having a phrase that I have practiced gives me the space to react immediately. I am often shocked/surprised/moved to silence. This kind of reaction can also be misperceived. Having an automatically generated phrase that can be altered based on the circumstance and my own intention just gave me room to NOT say "I'm sorry." I used phrases like this in interpreting, "I understand that you are interested in finding out more about [insert client's name here], I'd be happy to interpret for you if you'd like to ask them directly.
Around the same time as the "Gee, that's too bad" phase, my friend, Duane, and I were totally into "Truth or Dare". I was a late-comer to Madonna fan-dom, but this movie resonated for me in major ways. Sometimes, I felt so stupid about it - I mean, HI - this is MADONNA...but I could relate to her lonliness and isolation in weird ways. I so admired her ability - her drive - to speak her mind. Duane and I could recite the movie by the end of the summer and I felt the pendulum of my people-pleasing swing to the other side of the continuum. I knew, even at that time, that in order to get to the middle of the road, I would have to swing WIDE to practice a more severe form of NOT PLEASING PEOPLE. (I suspect I was harsher in my mind than I was in reality). I learned a lot about myself in that process. And I came to respect strong women who are considered "bitches" or "troublemakers" or "pushy" or "demanding".
Here's one of my favorite songs from the movie:
I would be proud to be considered strong enough to withstand the tide of cultural expectation. I'm not there yet.
Sunday, January 11, 2009
Mormon Mother: Well, it has something to do with God so it’s not very nice. God splits the skin with a jagged thumbnail from throat to belly and then plunges a huge filthy hand in, pulls and pulls till all your innards are yanked out and the pain! We can’t even talk about that. And then He stuffs it back dirty, tangled and torn. It’s up to you to do the stitching.
Harper: And then get up. And walk around.
Mormon Mother: Just mangled guts pretending.
Harper: That’s how people change."
Tony Kushner: Angels In America: Perestroika Act III: 5
I love this quote from "Angels in America: Perestroika". I know it isn't the most pleasant view of change, but it is so viseral and so true about some kinds of change. To be honest, because change is such a difficult thing to make happen, because people are so resistant to change, I looked for quotes that were about the struggle and there aren't many. I love the eloquence of many of the people I have chosen for this month's blog posts, but at the same time, I wanted to represent change in all its glory and ugliness.
Let's face it, some change is dang hard. Some change is forced upon us. Sometimes, change hurts so much you feel it in your toes.
When I read this quote, it reminds me of how I felt when Roby first died. A forced change, for sure. I felt like my guts WERE ripped out by a sharp claw and that they were hanging out of me, hurting, exposed and no one could see them. That's the oddest part - at a time when you are in the most psychic pain you could almost ever be in and remain conscious, NO ONE CAN TELL BY LOOKING AT YOU. It was bizarre. It made me feel like I should have found a way to physicalize the pain so that people wouldn't just assume that I was fine.
Right now, I don't feel like this. The changes I am trying to make in my life are good changes. They are the kind of changes that hone life into a finer brush stroke. They are the changes of choice and deepening. No guts here. Not today.
Saturday, January 10, 2009
"Don't compromise on tire safety." ~Michelinman.com
Ha. One of my tires blew out...I knew something happened when I went over one of those shiny things in the middle of the lane and the car bottomed out. I made it home (barely) after visiting Roby's mom on Thursday night, borrowed a car to go to work and then called the tow truck after I found out that the tire is stored UNDER THE CAR.
I have been having problems with the tire lately and have had to put air in it several times (what's my first clue - duh). I should have just gotten new tires anyway because I'm due, but of course, I waited until the last minute.
Have you tried putting air in your own tires lately? First of all, it is 75 cents for AIR. It used to be free, then it was a quarter, now it is 75 CENTS. For AIR. And I have been to about 15 gas stations, car washes and other likely places (all when Oil Can Henry's isn't open) to try to get air. I have, so far, only found one place on my regular routes that actually has a functional air compressor (or whatever it is called) so that I could fork over the change (which sometimes we don't have in this cash-free world). But the great news is that I DID find one place and I go there pretty regularly.
So, no profound quote today. Just a warning- Change your tires. :)
Teena in Toronto and Heather from paperfollies.typepad.com
Patti Digh generously donated a copy of her fabulous book, "Life is a Verb: 37 Days to Wake Up, Be Mindful, and Live Intentionally" so that there would be two winners. I will also be sending a little something her way.
Please send me your addresses so I can get your books mailed off to you. You're gonna love it! Please email me at theatreterp(at)yahoo(dot)com.
Thank you all for celebrating my one year anniversary here at WildRumpusing!
Friday, January 9, 2009
What if people run up behind you and jump on your back? How does that fit in? Sometimes, if I hear running footsteps behind me, my automatic, self-preservation mode is to curl up - thus bending my back, leaving it vulnerable then they can jump on it. So, partially my fault for bending, but a natural reaction. I definitely feel the struggle as I work to change my reactions.
I am struggling with the personal journey I am on versus the work I do in the world. My work is not who I am, but I strongly identify with it and it consumes most of my waking (and some sleeping) hours. I'm not sure they will ever co-exist without conflict.
I know that Martin Luther King, Jr. was talking about profound change, but I think it is true that even small changes are struggles. Some of the strongest chains are the ones we applied to ourselves long ago. Redefining ourselves, re-evaluating what we believe, redesigning our lives is a long process whether it is to look at our own internal "isms" or if it is trying to become the person we were meant to be in the world. That ripple, whether miraculous or ridiculous, still moves out from us and affects others and possibly the world.
Thursday, January 8, 2009
"The moment you have in your heart this extraordinary thing called love and feel the depth, the delight, the ecstacy of it, you will discover that for you the world is transformed." ~ I. Krishnamurti
At 3:11 AM on 1/8/96, Roby Starns died of complications from AIDS.
Roby was one of my world-transforming loves. I am lucky enough to have had more than one in my life. I know that is rare.
I know that I talk about him a lot in this blog - he is one of the reasons I started it. When he was sick in the hospital, he kept saying, "Promise me you won't forget about me." He didn't understand that he was unforgettable. I never could convince him of the extent of my devotion and love.
I miss his hands - he had beautiful long fingers and his hands were very graceful. I always wanted him to learn to sign because I knew that he had the perfect hands for using ASL. I miss his eyes - he had wide, curious eyes that took in everything, measure it and stored it away for later use. I miss his laugh - hearty, full of life, unrestrained. I miss his teasing - he always teased me about EVERYTHING. I miss his smell- when we were in high school, he always wore Opium cologne. I can't smell that without being jetted back to those days. Later on, he wore Kouros cologne by Yves St. Laurent. I wear it now - it has a fresh, clean smell. When I wear it, I feel his energy with me.
I will go to the cemetery today, visit with Shirlee (Roby's mom) and remember a life that was ended too soon. He was 29 years old.
In Memory of Roby Starns
your soul kissed
grace to me.
while I wish forever
you go alone.
so I can let Pain
until Heaven whispers
“Now, with passion
beauty, heart, light, truth
Never Resist Life.”
Jean A. Miller
I will never forget you, Roby Starns. Not even when I'm 100.
Wednesday, January 7, 2009
Whatever we may think/say about Michael Jackson in the here and now, he certainly had some profound things to say when times were better for him personally.
This has always been one of my favorite music videos.
Wow! I can't believe I have been doing this for a year already! I know in lots of ways, 2008 was a difficult year for many people, but in this way, I feel it was a good year.
I'm so happy to be writing SOMETHING again, to have an outlet that I look forward to, to have a place to explore or vent or just say what I'm thinking.
Thanks for joining my Rumpsing here! 2009 is gonna be a banner year here!
As a way of celebrating, I will be giving out a copy of "Life is a Verb" (my Christmas gift to all friends and family this year) to one lucky commenter. Please leave a comment and tell me how you came to read Wild Rumpusing. Leave your comment by Friday, January 9. I will randomly pick the winner on Saturday. (This is my first giveaway on my first blogoversary. I know I don't have a huge following of readers, but I wanna give you something for visiting!)
Here is a picture of the prize:
**This just in- Patti Digh, author of "Life is a Verb: 37 Days to Wake Up, Be Mindful, and Live Intentionally" has donated an additional copy of her book - so now there will be 2 lucky winners! Thank you so much, Patti!
Tuesday, January 6, 2009
"You must be the change you wish to see in the world." ~Mahatma Gandhi
According to don Miguel Ruiz in "The Four Agreements", language is power. With these four agreements, we increase our personal power and use language in positive ways. The four agreements are:
- Speak with integrity
- Say only what you mean
- Avoid using the word to speak against yourself or to gossip about others
- Use the power of your word in the direction of truth and love
I know that this is easier said than done, but I believe that these four principles are one of the ways that I can BE the change I want to see.
Some days, all I want in the world is to have someone say, "I see you. I see that you are trying to do good work." I have to be sure that I am telling people this. I think I do, to an extent, but I have to make that process more purposeful. For me, it would be a huge relief to go to bed each night able to run through the day and know that I acknowledged people, that our interactions were as positive as they could be.
Every day is day one, right?
Change #6: Acknowledge someone everyday. Maybe someone I wouldn't normally think to acknowledge. Document it.
Monday, January 5, 2009
"If you don't like something, change it. If you can't change it, change your attitude. Don't complain." ~ Maya Angelou
I can't really get all holier-than-thou about this change thing. I am one of the "fear of change" people and I am solidly working my way through it all.
Take for example, Maya Angelou's quote. "If you can't change it, change your attitude. Don't complain." I know this is true. I know that every day, we have a choice - to be happy or to not be happy. To feel gratitude or not. To realize that the only real thing we can actually change is ourselves. But it is easier said than done.
I know this is why New Year's Resolutions are so often broken - people get it in their heads that change is easy and they can bend the world to their will. I know that this is not the case, but it isn't as hard as we make it either. I think, for me, fear of failure is really the battle I fight - not fear of change. Usually, I have to work my way through the fear of failure, the fear of making the "wrong" decision to get to the change place. Once I make it there, the rest is pretty easy.
Maybe it is the process of changing or the process of decision-making that we are all so frightened about?...Oh, yeah, and that pesky little fear of failure is a big one...I know this because it is the biggest barrier for me.
Minor example: In a 37Days post called "Every Day is Day One", Patti Digh talks about trying to be complaint-free for 37 days. I REALLY want to try this, but I KNOW I will struggle. I think I keep putting it off because I don't want to fail at it. But if I never even try, isn't that its own failure? (Hey, when I went back to get the linking info, I reread something that I need to put here...She says in her post, "Not a failure to start over, but a gift." I always forget that part.)
In fact, I am going to post the Artist Trading Card here (there is permission here.)
My other example goes back to the last post on Education - I keep putting off finishing my degree...I'm not sure I'm afraid of failure, exactly, but I keep putting it off until I can keep my full focus on it. If I had just started 10 years ago, a class at a time, I could have had a Ph.D. by now.
Change #5: Change my attitude. It doesn't have to be perfect, or all-at-once, or even successful. Trying something new, trying to change is part of the process.
Sunday, January 4, 2009
"Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world." Nelson Mandela
I know that I have, at various times in my life, taken education entirely for granted. I didn't understand until I was in high school that there were people who were denied education, that a free education was not a right that everyone had but a privilege that we have had as Americans (most of us).
I have written about my education in my early years - that we were in make-shift maid's quarters. We didn't have PE teachers or music teachers or a cafeteria - we had one teacher, a couple of rooms and a bathroom. Sometimes I walked home for lunch, sometimes I brought it with me to school. We sang everyday with the teacher playing a little mini-organ/keyborad, we went outside and PLAYED - that was our PE. It wasn't fancy, but it was effective. I always loved school and learning.
I read an article about how people could make a difference in some of the countries in Africa - there were three main actions that could actually help more than anything: 1. Dig wells for clean water 2. Help purchase mosquito netting to prevent malaria 3. Build schools.
Education is the foundation for all progress, but it isn't always the kind of education we think of. In the United States, perhaps our vision of education is skewed. Maybe for us - people who DO have free education, who do have PE teachers and clean water and don't have to deal with malaria - we need to be educated on what it means to be human. What it means to have compassion for our fellow man. How to participate in the world in positive ways. We need to educate ourselves about the world. Not just geography but culture, religion, belief systems, history...the list goes on.
Right after Christmas, I went shopping to finish up my Christmas buying - delayed by the weather...I found a book not meant for adults, by any means, but I bought it as a gift of education for myself. When I am done with it, I will pass it along to some young friend of mine. The book is simply titled, "Questions and Answers: Countries and Continents". I picked it up out of curiosity - the cover was attractive...then when I looked inside, I was intrigued by the range of topics: "What is Italy's economy based on?" "What are the main sources of income in Guyana?" I have always loved history and geography, but the world has changed a lot since I was in school. When I graduated high school, the Soviet Union was the Soviet Union - a bunch of countries we really didn't pay much attention to...Now, there are bunches of countries that we only hear about when there is some kind of altercation or war or natural disaster. I decided I could embark on my own personal re-education.
I am also starting to move towards completion of my bachelor's degree. I have been putting it off until I "have more time" but now, I know, I will never have time unless I make it. I'm not there yet - I'm thinking of starting small with a continuing education class or a community education class to get me started. If that seems successful and not too stressful, I am thinking about getting a degree in management or Human Resources...or adult education. I'm not sure yet, but I want to finish what I started and I want to learn more. I keep thinking I can do it all myself, but I can't, so I'm ready to start recommitting to my own education and future.
I know that my own personal education or re-education isn't going to change the world, but again, I can only start with myself.
Change #4: Take a class this term. It can be at PCC or with Tualatin Parks and Rec or Oregon School of Arts and Crafts...and report back here.
Saturday, January 3, 2009
I can honestly say that I believe, based on Darwin's perspective, that I will be a survivor in the world because I have learned so much about adapting and responding to change. It isn't so much that I figured out what to do, but that I figured out how to react. I know now that sometimes what looks like a change is really not a change in actuality but a change in perspective, a change in thinking. Looking at something from all angles is not something that we typically do as Americans, but I believe that interpreters learn something about looking at a situation, decision, behavior, language, thought in at least 2 ways - from an English perspective and an ASL/Signed Language perspective (if you talk about sign language interpreters).
Now, if you add to that all the other roles we have or take on in a day, week, life, the possibilities expand exponentially - English user/ ASL user, white person of privilege/minority, worker/manager, teacher/student, reader/writer, American/non-American, female/male, daughter/sister/mother, parent/non-parent...the list goes on. Trying to open my mind to other possibilities can be challenging and fascinating. I learn daily that my way, my experience is just one in a myriad of ways and experiences. That not everyone thinks the way I do, that not everyone works from the same values or beliefs that I do. It sounds crazy to be this age and still be learning this, but it requires constant reinforcement...
Ultimately, one of the most freeing things I ever learned was that I must not take responsibility for changes that are not my decision. I must be willing to say, "I cannot make everyone happy, so I will act with integrity, try to be fair, admit when I am wrong and apologize when I have hurt someone." That's all I can do.
In all the changes, I am learning a level of sameness in my response. Wait, see what will REALLY change. Often the changes we anticipate and react to are not the changes that really ultimately impact us. Stay calm (this one I haven't perfected yet). Try to think about WHY things are changing and what the positives are.
I'm not sure any of this makes any sense to a reader...it is all flotsam in my brain lately. The idea of change is a big one and I am thinking about it constantly right now. The thoughts are not always concrete enough to really articulate...
Change #3: Think, then talk. I'm working on it. :)
Friday, January 2, 2009
This also reminds me of the quote from the Talmud, "Whoever saves one life saves the world entire."
Both these sayings help bring things into focus and proportion. I know I can't change THE WHOLE WORLD, but I can certainly brighten my own little corner of the world.
It is my intention, in 2009, to brighten my little corner of the world, to start to improve the world little by little and maybe even to save a life - even if it is my own.
I have such a sense of hope right now. 2009 is the beginning of something good.
Change #2: Don't wait for joy, make it. Start now.
Thursday, January 1, 2009
"There's only one corner of the universe you can be certain of improving, and that's your own self." Aldous Huxley
I have a lot of hope and expectation as I enter 2009. Even though 2008 was a difficult year in many aspects (in the world in general and my world in particular), it certainly ended with some positives - the election of Barack Obama, the snowfall (yes, I can see the positives in it), a personal settling in and decisions I have made to improve my self and my life.
Change has always been difficult for me, but I work in an industry where change is really the only thing I can depend on. I think the reason I am where I am is to that I can immunize myself to the fear of change - if I am bombarded with good and bad and neutral change all day, every day, I will surely learn to handle it better. And I am. I am learning when to freak out and when to ride the wave, when to dig deeper and find out if I am reacting to the approach or the change itself. I am learning a lot. This also teaches me patience which I am often without.
I will probably share some of that journey here - the self-improvement journey - and some I may not. I don't have it all figured out yet, but I am excited about the present and the future. That certainly feels good.
Change #1 (my first ever actual New Year's Resolution that I want to keep) - Set aside 30 minutes per day to read for pleasure. Can be the newspaper, magazine, novel. Cannot be anything related to work, managing, teaching or interpreting. Goal- 6 days out of 7 each week