Friday, December 31, 2010

Reverb 10 - Day 31: CORE STORY

December 31 – Core Story

What central story is at the core of you, and how do you share it with the world? (Bonus: Consider your reflections from this month. Look through them to discover a thread you may not have noticed until today.) (Author: Molly O’Neill)


Right now, at this time in my life, I share my story here on WildRumpusing. There are lots of things I can't/won't/don't say here, but if you read this blog for long, I'm pretty sure you get a sense of who I am and what I care about.

The core story of me right now is that I am settling into the person I am, discovering things I want to do, see, change, accept.

I am a writer.
I am an artist.
I am creative.
I am strong.
I am sensitive.
I am vulnerable.
I am capable.
I am lonely.
I am happy.
I am frightened.
I am brave.
I am smart.
I am learning.
I am a teacher.
I am a student.
I am Jean.

2010 taught me many lessons through a difficult lens. 2011 will certainly have its share of that, but I am looking towards learning through a joyous lens. You can learn through joy or through pain. I am choosing joy.

{Future tool: Susannah Conway’s Allowing Dreams} Today is the final day of #reverb10. Thank you for your reverberations this month. Keep an eye on your inbox at the end of January 2011 for something from HQ.}

Gratitude for Good Friends

Last night, we interpreted the touring production of "HAIR". I'm sure I could say many things about interpreting a show like this.  It is so challenging to do shows that are so multi-layered, that have so many culturally iconic songs, that have so many popular culture references, that reference drugs and drug use in ways that I don't have ANY experience with and don't feel confident portraying in American Sign Language.

At the end of the show, the audience members are invited up onto the stage to dance and many of them take advantage of the opportunity. Ushers came to stand behind us - to protect us and to protect audience members from falling off the stage and stairs. One guy, in a particular hurry to get off the stage (why did you go up in the first place?), moved over to the side near the speaker, took a giant leap and landed squarely on my back before diving into the moving throngs of people with barely a backwards glance.  Aside from scare the CRAP out of me, having someone jump, full weight, on your back while you are holding your hands in the air interpreting for the last 2+ hours creates some issues. Back spasms are one issue right this moment while I am typing. SIGH.

So after all that, I opened up my facebook to find this email sent to me after the show:
"I just wanted to drop you a note to tell you that you are amazing. I watched you all night at Hair. You doing your thing was the highlight to my night. I could watch you all day. Seriously, at one point, you brought tears to my eyes with your amazing skills. Thank you for being so good."
I could just cry.

I sent the person a note thanking them for taking the time. It felt like the yang to the yin of getting physically attacked.

Mercury has been in retrograde and yesterday was supposedly the last day. Thank God.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Reverb 10 - Day 30: GIFT

December 30 – Gift

Prompt: Gift. This month, gifts and gift-giving can seem inescapable. What’s the most memorable gift, tangible or emotional, you received this year?(Author: Holly Root)


I'm going to take the cop-out road and list a few things. I know I will forget something, but it isn't intentional. A year is a long time to look back on and remember to include everything.
Gifts in 2010:
improving health
stronger job situation
a supportive and encouraging boss
great colleagues
the opportunity to travel for business and pleasure
good friends
trust in my leadership
improving family relationships
finding the art journaling community
books
the opportunity to meet someone I admire greatly (see Writing Retreat posts in November)


{Future tools: Lifehacker’s Free Tools to Manage New Years Resolutions and Gretchen Rubin’s Questions to Help You Make Effective New Year’s Resolutions.

Has #reverb10 made an impact on your writing, reflecting and life this month? Consider supporting the HQ team with a donation.}

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Reverb 10 - Day 29: DEFINING MOMENT

December 29 – Defining Moment

Describe a defining moment or series of events that has affected your life this year.(Author: Kathryn Fitzmaurice)


On a rainy day in February 2010, as I was driving to a doctor's appointment and then as I was parked in the parking lot, I was called to a conference call for work. The FCC had made a ruling that directly impacted the company I work for and we were not sure we would be in business by the end of the following week.

I went into my medical appointment and my blood pressure was so high, they almost hospitalized me that day.  They literally took my blood pressure within 10 minutes of me getting this frightening, disturbing news. I know I was in shock. I made them take my blood pressure again after a few minutes. They did an EKG and referred me to a cardiologist the Monday after to be sure everything was okay.

Not only was I scared to death about that, but then possibly finding that I would be without health insurance within a matter of days. Scary stuff.

Lots of challenges, lots of scary days, lots of wishing I had never gotten involved in my industry, lots of days knowing that I was in the right place at the right time and that I could lead my team through the days and months ahead, nights when I couldn't sleep for worrying, days when it was all I could do to get up in the morning. Days I thought about bailing.

I am feeling much better - physically, mentally, spiritually. The job is strong, the company is strong, the people are strong. I am good. I am glad I stayed.

{Future tool: The 99%’s How to Budget for an Irregular Income. For the next 3 days as you round out your year, we’ll share one tool each day to help you plan your year ahead.}

Dad, Four Years Gone

Unbelievably, my father passed away 4 years ago. I still miss him. I watched the "Kennedy Center Honors" and when they showed Merle Haggard, I was reminded of him. He loved country music and for some reason, seeing older gentlemen always reminds me of my dad. It brought tears to my eyes.

I miss you, Dad.



These pictures were his fuzzy face period - little bit scruffy, but happy after a good fishing day.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Reverb 10 - Day 28: ACHIEVE

December 28 – Achieve

What’s the thing you most want to achieve next year? How do you imagine you’ll feel when you get it? Free? Happy? Complete? Blissful? Write that feeling down. Then, brainstorm 10 things you can do, or 10 new thoughts you can think, in order to experience that feeling today. (Author: Tara Sophia Mohr)

I most want to achieve BALANCE in 2011. If I achieved balance, I would feel centered, I would feel all the things I need to feel when I feel them instead of having things get stuffed down and then pop up when I least expect it.

To experience that feeling today, I just have to do all the things I have been exploring this year and in this Reverb10 project.  Take baby steps, look at what I can eliminate, what I can add, how I am beautifully different, remember what is really important. I need to practice mindfulness, gratitude, art. I need to surround myself with people who support me in finding balance and avoid people who wish to tip the scales one way or the other.

For me, it isn't a discovery that I need balance. It isn't news - it is me deepening my self-investigation, digging further into the pieces of myself that I have glimpsed but maybe don't understand or haven't see in full, glorious, brilliant color. I need to dust some of me off, I need to dig some things out and I'm sure there are pieces that I haven't even discovered yet. That's kind of exciting.

{Future tool: Gretchen Rubin’s Start Your Own Happiness Project (and be sure to visit the Happiness Project Toolbox!). For the next 4 days as you round out your year, we’ll share one tool each day to help you plan your year ahead.}

Rethinking my 2011 Word and More Ordinary Joy

I'm wondering if Ordinary Joy is going to be my phrase for 2011...it is resonating with me...I'm seeing it, feeling it all around me. Earlier in the day, I had a hard time thinking of a list...now I am seeing all kinds of things, feeling them. Tears, chills, love bursting from my heart for a song, for a person I've never met...  all of this constitutes joy, doesn't it? I think so...

On the Kennedy Center Honors tonight, Oprah Winfrey was honored. I was moved to see her story, to see pictures of her grandmother, to see her beginnings as Miss Fire Prevention, to hear the funny stories, to see Sidney Poitier getting older (as we all do). Then, Jennifer Hudson came on and sang "I'm Here" from Oprah's musical "The Color Purple".  Not only is the performance stunning, as Jennifer Hudson always is, but the lyrics moved me to tears. A world view, a knowing that is deep and truthful and yearning for believers. I believe.


Lyrics: (they print musical lyrics in all caps in the scripts...)
I DON'T NEED YOU TO LOVE ME,
I DON'T NEED YOU TO LOVE.
I GOT . . .
I GOT . . .
I GOT MY SISTER.
I CAN FEEL HER NOW,
SHE MAY NOT BE HERE, BUT SHE STILL MINE.
I KNOW SHE STILL LOVE ME.
GOT MY CHILDREN.
I CAN'T HOLD THEM NOW,
THEY MAY NOT BE HERE, BUT THEY STILL MINE.
I HOPE THEY KNOW I STILL LOVE THEM.
GOT MY HOUSE.
IT STILL KEEP THE COLD OUT.
GOT MY CHAIR
WHEN MY BODY CAN'T HOLD OUT.
GOT MY HANDS
DOIN' GOOD LIKE THEY S'POSE TO,
SHOWIN' MY HEART
TO THE FOLKS THAT I'M CLOSE TO.
GOT MY EYES.
THOUGH THEY DON'T SEE AS FAR NOW,
THEY SEE MORE 'BOUT HOW THINGS
REALLY ARE NOW . . .
I'M GONNA TAKE A DEEP BREATH.
GONNA HOLD MY HEAD UP.
GONNA PUT MY SHOULDERS BACK,
AND LOOK YOU STRAIGHT IN THE EYE.
I'M GONNA FLIRT WITH SOMEBODY
WHEN THEY WALK BY.
I'M GONNA SING OUT . . .
SING OUT.
I BELIEVE I HAVE INSIDE OF ME
EVERYTHING THAT I NEED TO LIVE A BOUNTIFUL LIFE.
WITH ALL THE LOVE ALIVE IN ME
I'LL STAND AS TALL AS THE TALLEST TREE.
AND I'M
THANKFUL FOR EVERYDAY THAT I'M GIVEN,
BOTH THE EASY AND HARD ONES I'M LIVIN'.
BUT MOST OF ALL
I'M THANKFUL FOR
LOVING WHO I REALLY AM.
I'M BEAUTIFUL.
YES, I'M BEAUTIFUL,
AND I'M HERE.

[Source of information - www.angelrecords.com/colorpurple/lyrics.pdf]

Oversight Correction for ORDINARY JOY (Day 27)

How could I forget the annual joy of BOOKFEST with Kevin?!?

But the biggest joy I get from that particular day is when we go back to his house and unveil our books and tell our stories about how we came to buy the books we bought. I love to see how diverse our collections are and how different our choices are from the other.  Then a year, two years, three years later, one of us will buy a book from the other person's past selections.

Ordinary joy in extraordinary days. I can't believe I forgot that!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Reverb 10 - Day 27: ORDINARY JOY

December 27 – Ordinary Joy

Our most profound joy is often experienced during ordinary moments. What was one of your most joyful ordinary moments this year?  (Author: Brené Brown)

For me a couple of things come to mind in terms of profound joy in ordinary moments:
  • Watching the "Les Miserables" 25 Year Anniversary Concert
  • Collaging 
  • Sitting on the deck at the beach listening to the waves, feeling the warmth of the sun on my face and watching for whales
  • Talking with M.
  • Conversations with Todd
  • Dinner party with the old gang 
  • Seeing "The Lion King" and "In the Heights" (I didn't think I would like it) 
  • Listening to music and playing solitaire on the computer ("Conviction of the Heart" and "Everybody's Free to Wear Sunscreen" come to mind) 
If I had to pick ONE, I would pick watching "Les Miserables" on the big screen. I know I keep writing about it, but I think I had some profound moments that evening. It was just such a strong reminder of Roby, of my love of theatre, my passion for the music, that we are all here to love each other and to see the humanity in each other and that's all there really is in life.  I can almost bring that feeling back when I close my eyes and remember watching it - heart racing, on the edge of my seat, tears streaming.

Admittedly, I am a little sad that my most precious memory of joy in an ordinary moment is not with another human being. It has not been a year of human contact for me really. There have been notable moments, but really, 2010 was a year about standing on my own two feet and learning to be comfortable in my shoes. I'm not part of a pair, I'm not overshadowed by another stronger person, I'm not hanging out with someone that everyone wonders "What does she see in THEM?". It was mostly just me and my decisions. Me and my foibles. Me and my successes. Me and me. That's all.  It is a lonely place, but I think, ultimately, a necessary one.

{Future tool: Tara Mohr’s The Next Steps After Vision… For the next 5 days as you round out your year, we’ll share one tool each day to help you plan your year ahead.
For a visual journey into reflecting + manifesting, check the Flickr images tagged with #reverb10.}

Sunday, December 26, 2010

It's all Greek to Me

I don't understand Twitter. I am participating in Reverb 10 (you may have noticed if you have visited here this month) and they say to tweet them gently to have them put your blog out there, but I'm not really sure how it all works.

So, I got my tiny url:  http://tinyurl.com/27c9p3t and I tweeted it to Reverb, but I don't really understand any of it. I know I could figure it out if I wanted to spend any time on it, but I decided that I don't want to spend the time right now to learn about Twitter. I think it is kind of cool for some things, but I can see how it might be another way of wasting time online and I am already in the Master Class of online procratination, so I think that is probably my resistance to the whole thing.

Anyway, it was weighing on me, so I thought I would share.

Reverb 10 - Day 26: SOUL FOOD

December 26 – Soul Food

What did you eat this year that you will never forget? What went into your mouth & touched your soul?


Food is a difficult subject most of the time. Having been called "picky" and any number of other names in my life in regard to food, I have learned to just keep my mouth shut (in more ways than one).  Trying food is not usually fun for me as there are always expectations surrounding such an event.  People are either wanting you to like something so much that you don't want to disappoint them or they are feverish with the excitement of being able to watch you try something you don't like and then can discuss it with you ad nauseum.

This year, I had some food revelations. It was very exciting. I wouldn't say the foods touched my soul - no food can really do that for me...

Green beans almondine
Artichoke heart soup
risotto 

Some of my fondest moments with food are eating Thai food with my friends in Sacramento, eating Indian fare with friends here in Portland. I had a love affair with plums this summer and fresh strawberries in June.  Then the nectarines and the apples. Always, my lovely lemons. Now, I am on to oranges. Salads with lemon as dressing.  Fresh foods are my passion right now. It's the best a non-foodie can do.  

(Author: Elise Marie Collins)


{Future tool: Sark’s MicroMOVEment Support Sheets. For the next 6 days as you round out your year, we’ll share one tool each day to help you plan your year ahead.}

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Reverb 10 - Day 25: PHOTO - A PRESENT TO YOURSELF

December 25 – Photo – a present to yourself

Sift through all the photos of you from the past year. Choose one that best captures you; either who you are, or who you strive to be. Find the shot of you that is worth a thousand words. Share the image, who shot it, where, and what it best reveals about you.  (Author: Tracey Clark)


There aren't many photos of me from this year - most of them are of my feet while I was on vacation. While it was tempting to select one of those photos, I avoided the impulse and chose this one:

This photo was taken by a work colleague while we were at a summit in Las Vegas. I like this picture because I was authentically smiling, my hair is down and long and curly. I wasn't feeling well at the time, but I was thoroughly enjoying the company of my colleagues. We don't often get together in person, so it was a rare opportunity to rub elbows with some folks I admire greatly.

I'm not sure the photo represents the "real me", but I think it is a glimmer of what I would like to see in the future.  I want to keep smiling, keep laughing, keep enjoying the company of good friends. I want to let my hair down more often to have a good time. I think that is most what this represents to me - relaxing, enjoying, believing in goodness and possibility.

{Future tool: Soul Biographies: Thoughts Become Things. For the next 7 days as you round out your year, we’ll share one tool each day to help you plan your year ahead.}

Friday, December 24, 2010

Reverb 10 - Day 24: EVERYTHING'S OK

December 24 Prompt – Everything’s OK
What was the best moment that could serve as proof that everything is going to be alright? And how will you incorporate that discovery into the year ahead?   
(Author: Kate Inglis)

Sitting in the darkened movie theater in an audience filled with passionate, loyal, adoring patrons, watching the O2 25th Anniversary Concert of "Les Miserables", I had that familiar sensation - the one that makes my heart pound and I sit towards the end of my seat and the tears well up.  The first song that really struck me was "What Have I Done?" at the beginning of the show.  The song is sung by the Jean Valjean (played by Alfie Boe in the O2 Concert). In addition to the beautiful singing voice of the performer, the lyrics of the song moved me to tears.

[VALJEAN]
What have I done?
Sweet Jesus, what have I done?
Become a thief in the night,
Become a dog on the run
And have I fallen so far,
And is the hour so late
That nothing remains but the cry of my hate,
The cries in the dark that nobody hears,
Here where I stand at the turning of the years?

If there's another way to go
I missed it twenty long years ago
My life was a war that could never be won
They gave me a number and murdered Valjean
When they chained me and left me for dead
Just for stealing a mouthful of bread


Yet why did I allow that man
To touch my soul and teach me love?
He treated me like any other
He gave me his trust
He called me brother
My life he claims for God above
Can such things be?
For I had come to hate the world
This world that always hated me
 

Take an eye for an eye!
Turn your heart into stone!
This is all I have lived for!
This is all I have known!

One word from him and I'd be back
Beneath the lash, upon the rack
Instead he offers me my freedom
I feel my shame inside me like a knife
He told me that I have a soul,
How does he know?
What spirit comes to move my life?
Is there another way to go?

I am reaching, but I fall
And the night is closing in
And I stare into the void
To the whirlpool of my sin
I'll escape now from the world
From the world of Jean Valjean
Jean Valjean is nothing now
Another story must begin!


That night, in the dark, after 25 years of listening to this music, hearing Jean Valjean decide to change his life, change himself, gave me the sense of well-being that comes with knowing everything will be okay.  "Yet why did I allow that man to touch my soul and teach me love? He treated me like any other. He gave me his trust, he called me brother. My life he claims for God above, can such things be?...he told me that I have a soul. How does he know?" It was exactly what I needed to hear at exactly the moment I needed to hear it.

This is Colm Wilkinson performing from the 10 Year Anniversary Concert.




 There were many moments that night that gave me a sense that I was on the right path, that things would work out. Ultimately, I always go back to the line near the end of the show, "To love another person is to see the face of God."  That is what we are here to do - love each other. See the godliness in everyone. All the rest is just a distraction to see if we know what we are supposed to do.

{Future tool: Gwen Bell – How to Create Your Personal Manifesto. For the next 8 days as you round out your year, we’ll share one tool each day to help you plan your year ahead.}

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Reverb 10 - Day 23: NEW NAME

December 23 – New Name Let’s meet again, for the first time. If you could introduce yourself to strangers by another name for just one day, what would it be and why? (Author: Becca Wilcott)

{Future tool: Chris Guillebeau’s How to Conduct Your Own Annual Review. For the next 9 days as you round out your year, we’ll share one tool each day to help you plan your year ahead.} 

I used to think about pseudonyms when I dreamed of becoming a famous writer.  I wrote notes to my best friend in high school under the name Melanie (from "Gone with the Wind") and several other nicknames.  Roby and I talked about Spencer and Emily Eden as alternative identities.

When all is said and done, though, I would not change my name right now - even for a day. There are many things I might want to change about myself, but I am Jean. That is who I am and how I identify. I would not change that part of myself for the world. 

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Reverb 10 - Day 22: TRAVEL

December 22 – Travel
How did you travel in 2010? How and/or where would you like to travel next year?
(Author: Tara Hunt)

I traveled quickly in 2010 - lots of last minute trips. I went to the beach, to Las Vegas, to Sacramento, to Chicago.  I wanted to go to London for the 25 year "Les Miserables" anniversary, but I think I chickened out. I wanted to go to New York to see a friend, but timing was poor.

For 2011, I hope to get to New York, to Sacramento to see my friends. I want to go to the beach for a week or so, maybe to Dave Walley's again? I think I might want to go on a road trip. Not too far, but maybe somewhere I've never been. Stay in a nice hotel and do some photography experimentation.  I'd like to go visit Teesha Moore's art studio in Seattle - maybe a train trip up. I think I might want to go to JournalFest next year, but I'm not sure. Maybe I won't be ready. If I'm not, that's okay, but someday, I will go.

from REVERB 10 (I'm not sure I know what this is...){Future Tool: New Year’s Goal Questions for No-Goals Creatives from Jeffrey Davis. For the next 10 days as you round out your year, we’ll share one tool each day to help you plan your year ahead.}

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Reverb 10 - Day 21: FUTURE SELF

December 21 – Future Self. Imagine yourself five years from now. What advice would you give your current self for the year ahead? (Bonus: Write a note to yourself 10 years ago. What would you tell your younger self?) (Author: Jenny Blake)

Dear Jean-

For 2011, remember how it feels to be truly alive. Remember to focus on the things that really matter and let go of the other stuff. Relax more, love more, laugh more, smile more. Tell stories, cherish family and friends, make art, read books, weep in the presence of beauty.

It's that simple. Stop making everything so hard. Just pretend it is easy, even when it doesn't feel like it.

Measure in Love-

Jean from December 2015

BONUS:

Dear Jean in December 2000-

It will all turn out. Trust yourself. Trust your skills and talents. Love yourself more.

Remember how it feels to be truly alive. Remember to focus on the things that really matter and let go of the other stuff. Relax more, love more, laugh more, smile more. Tell stories, cherish family and friends, make art, read books, weep in the presence of beauty.

It's that simple. Stop making everything so hard. Just pretend it is easy, even when it doesn't feel like it.

Measure in Love-

Jean in 2010

**I wish I could say I had already learned this lesson. I like to think that the 2015 version of what I will do is a bit more nuanced.  I guess reminders are always good.

Art Journal Every Day Project

Well, I tried the CREATIVE EVERY DAY project last year and I didn't do very well. This year, quite by chance and through the Reverb 10 challenge, I found an "Art Journal Every Day" challenge and I am going to try it.

Here is the badge which will end up in my sidebar:

I love that she mentions that she doesn't do a FINISHED page each day, but rather, spends at least 10 minutes per day adding something to a page. I like that. Small, measurable goals, right?  I just need something to kick start me, so I'm going to use this great opportunity.

Also, thanks to Pigtail Girl who had this posted in her sidebar.  I would never have known it existed without seeing the badge there. I've been reading her blog since I discovered it through Reverb 10. What a great way to find great blogs!

P.S. I accidentally linked the badge wrong earlier. If you click on the links now or the badge, you should be able to get where you want to go. Sorry about that.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Reverb 10 - Day 20: BEYOND AVOIDANCE

December 20 – Beyond Avoidance What should you have done this year but didn’t because you were too scared, worried, unsure, busy or otherwise deterred from doing? (Bonus: Will you do it?) (Author: Jake Nickell)

I'm sorry...I had to get up off the floor because I was laughing so hard about this post. Maybe I should commence listing the things I DID do, because that list is much, much shorter. Avoidance could be my middle name.

Here is the short list in no special order and without explanation:
  • better car maintenance
  • get rid of clutter in my life
  • buy a new bed
  • organize my bills and my invoicing system
  • work on my art journals
  • work on my Roby stories
  • stayed in better contact with Shirlee and family
  • stayed in better contact with friends
  • insert exercise into each day
  • read 30 minutes each day
  • take a class each term to finish my degree
  • take an art class each term (even if only for one day)
  • taken the trip to London for the Les Miserables 25th Anniversary (3 shows in 3 days - the O2 Concert, original show at the Queen's theatre and the new version at the Barbican or maybe the other way around) **This is my biggest regret
  • taken a trip to Sacramento to see my friends more
  • trip to NYC
  • Solitary vacation at the beach for a weekend
  • purge books
  • purge videos
  • show more love and appreciation to the people in my life
  • send Christmas card
  • actually do the work in "Creative is a Verb" 
See...the list is LONG and incomplete.  I let myself be distracted and procrastinate. I did do some good things this year, but I didn't do more. :(  I'm making plans for 2011, though. Trying to keep it attainable.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Reverb 10 - Day 19: HEALING

December 19 – Healing What healed you this year? Was it sudden, or a drip-by-drip evolution? How would you like to be healed in 2011? (Author: Leoni Allan)

Quite honestly, the thing that healed me was a sudden dunk into the frigid waters of reality. I was unceremoniously forced into dark, ice-cold waters without notice, without a life preserver or vest, without directions to shore. I learned to swim this year in the unknown, in the "real world".

I'm sorry if this sounds cryptic - I don't feel comfortable writing about the actual situation. What I CAN say is that I learned a lot about myself, about my strengths, about what I believe, about why I do what I do for a living and what I value. I take my responsibilities seriously and I also take my integrity seriously. I didn't want to let go of either of them and I didn't have to - but I had to make the decision on my own.

I guess what was healed were all the doubts I had about myself, my decisions, my abilities. I still have self-doubt and I still question myself, but it is more like checking in to make sure I have taken in all the information I need to follow through rather than the soul-deep angst that kept me up at night sometimes. I'm sleeping better now, I must say.

For 2011, I want to continue to improve my health, which I have been doing since the plunge - ironic that healing in one way happened, and the need to be healed was created almost simultaneously.  I am feeling better, but it takes time to be well, to pay attention to your body and the needs it has. I'm on the path. I am hoping to clear it more so that there aren't so many thorns on the way this coming year.  

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Reverb 10 - Day 18: TRY

December 18 – Try What do you want to try next year? Is there something you wanted to try in 2010? What happened when you did / didn’t go for it? (Author: Kaileen Elise)

This year, I continued to work on my art journaling, but I didn't get far. I got blocked pretty quickly, which was disappointing for me. I think about it all the time. I look at blogs with Art Journaling, buy the "Art Journaling" magazine, buy the stuff to DO art journaling (magazines, paint, ephemera, paper). Finally, I found someone who gave tips and templates to start a newcomer.  I think I tried to start out in the doctorate level with Teesha Moore's style.  Of course, I love her style - it is so eclectic and busy and fascinating and bright.  It is exactly the kind of thing that attracted me to art journaling. Her videos are extremely helpful for learning her techniques and ideas. I also love the 16 page journals she makes.

I found Kelly Kilmer's online class A Life Made by Hand . Kelly's work is equally intriguing and colorful. She offers a class to get people started which is fantastic.    This class provides templates, ideas, examples, videos, and prompts for writing.  I love the idea of the templates to give some experience with trying out new things. I haven't done it yet, even though I paid for the class some time ago. I know my work won't look like hers, either, but she can help me make work that looks like my own and lead me through some ideas about how to compose, which is a weakness for me, I think.

In 2011, I want to try to finish the classes that I joined with Kelly Kilmer. I want to continue this practice of artful expression. It feels really important - soulfully important for balance, for self expression, for color, for everything.  I want to take a couple of live art classes and try going to the little store that is not far from my house called Art on a Lark. I'm a little shy, I think, about working where other people can see what I'm doing, but I have to get over that. I want to continue to learn and to grow my skills in these artful endeavors.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Reverb 10 - Day 17: LESSON LEARNED

December 17 – Lesson Learned What was the best thing you learned about yourself this past year? And how will you apply that lesson going forward? (Author: Tara Weaver)

I guess I jumped here on Day 16, didn't I?

I learned a lot of hard lessons this year about myself and about other people. I think the BEST lesson is that you can only change yourself. You can only be yourself. Sometimes I wish I could be more like this person or have this quality or that. I can work on developing those qualities that I admire, but I can also work on developing myself and the qualities that are good and make me uniquely Jean.

Applying this lesson is something I have already been doing. It isn't easy - to know that I can only change myself. Sometimes I squirm around because I think if I change what I do or how I do it, I will get a different response, but that isn't always true. I think the most important thing is to detach myself from the outcome. All my successes and all the most surprising positives have come when I just put myself out there, warts and all, and let it be.  People can decide to love you, to hate you, to be indifferent.  That's their choice. I don't really want haters or indifferent people in my life, so if I put out an image that isn't Jean, how do I know what is real?

P.S. If this is entirely incoherent, please put it down to 8 hours on planes and in airports and being dehydrated and jet lag. Hopefully, tomorrow, I will be back to my usual level of incoherence rather than the traveling incoherence.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Reverb 10 - Day 16: FRIENDSHIP

December 16 – Friendship How has a friend changed you or your perspective on the world this year? Was this change gradual, or a sudden burst? (Author: Martha Mihalick)

This probably isn't what was intended with this question, but it is all that comes to mind.

This year has been lonely and difficult. Many things have happened that I didn't feel I could share with people, so I remained silent. That is my way. (See Roby posts for more information on that...)

I became my own best friend this year. I didn't have anyone to test my angry letters and emails on. I didn't have a safe place to vent, grieve, worry, or obsess. It may sound weird since I have this blog and participate in the online world, but I tend to play important cards close to the chest. This year has been a year for that.

I learned to listen to my own intuition about things. I learned to listen to my body. I learned that I have a sense of knowing that I sometimes ignore but it is almost always to my detriment.  I learned that I can entertain myself, that I am talented, that I have much I want to do and say in this world and I'm not always sure how to do it. 

In 2010, I discovered an inner strength and an inner calm that I never even knew I possessed. When I look back on it, I realize that it has always been there, I just don't need it very often. I needed it when Roby found out he had HIV, when he died, when Hank died, when my father died, when I thought I was going to have to tell people our company was not long for this world, when I had health issues of my own this year.  It is the quality I am most proud to possess. It is the thing that allows me to stare death in the eyes without backing away. Anything else seems easy. When I tapped into that this year, amazing growth happened for me.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Reverb 10 - Day 15: FIVE MINUTES

December 15 – 5 Minutes Imagine you will completely lose your memory of 2010 in five minutes. Set an alarm for five minutes and capture the things you most want to remember about 2010. (Author: Patti Digh)

After much thought, I realized that 2010 was not particularly a year I want to remember or go through again.  What I actually remember and what I want to remember are not the same things.

It all boils down to understanding what is important in life and trying to bring that to the forefront of my mind.

What I want to remember from 2010:
  • I am a writer. I write, therefore, I am a writer. I went to a fantastic writer's retreat.
  • I am an interpreter and a damn good one, at that.
  • I am a good person and I have integrity. I have grown and I will continue to grow and learn and change.
  • Change is constant. Even bad change has some good in it.
  • Family is important - family of origin and chosen tribe. They keep you sane, keep you balanced, keep you honest, keep you on your toes.
  • Art can't hurt you.
  • Happiness is a journey not a destination.
  • "Les Miserables" is soul-stirring.

What I will remember from 2010:
  • You only have one body and you need to take care of it. No one else will.
  • I am not my job.
  • There are worse things than losing a job.
  • Fear does strange things to people.
  • I am strong.
  • Don't let the haters get you down.
  • Choose again.
  • Never give up.

Traveling

I am currently traveling to Chicago for a last minute work trip. I am doing my reverb stuff, but it is handwritten.  I am keeping up but it is not always easy to find a computer when you are moving around. Just wanted to let folks know that I am still on the Reverb 10 train and I will be caught up very soon with entering things into blogger.

Quite a difference in weather here...it was 60 degrees yesterday in Portland and now they are expecting snow 1-4 inches here. I think it was 25 degrees. Everyone keeps asking me where my coat is and I tell them I don't really have a Chicago-worthy coat.

Anyway, I'm having a good time - good friends, some good food, some Food Network television in the hotel.  Back to real life by the weekend.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Reverb10 - Day 14: APPRECIATE

December 14 – Appreciate What’s the one thing you have come to appreciate most in the past year? How do you express gratitude for it? (Author: Victoria Klein)

To choose one singular thing I've come to appreciate in the past year is difficult.  If I have to select one (I always cop out on these and make a list), I would say authenticity. Authenticity in people, in their responses (words and actions), in their emotions, in myself.  I actually never really thought that authenticity was rare - I truly have spent my life believing in people, their intentions, their word.  I am still naive enough to want to believe in it - but sometimes I see evidence to the contrary.  People tell me that my expectations are too high, of myself and of others, but I can't help it. I believe that people live up to the expectations they are given.  If I lower my standards, then I only have myself to blame.

In the past year, I have tried to reward authenticity with authenticity. To express my gratitude by returning the favor. I'm not great at it - sometimes I feel embarrassed by my own awe and wonder over the things people do or say. I agonize over how to thank them or tell them how much something means. I am trying to get over the agonizing and get to the showing of gratitude.  Say THANK YOU. Give someone a pat on the back. Tell them my truth - how much their "realness" moved me, meant to me, changed me.

Something that is rolling around my head in this whole thing is that sometimes we are just around people whose authenticity doesn't match what I need/admire/respect/recognize.  It isn't so much that authenticity is rare, but that the matches can be difficult. When you see a member of your own tribe, you recognize them. Too bad we don't have some kind of tartan or something so we could find each other easier.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Reverb 10 - Day 13: ACTION

December 13 – Action When it comes to aspirations, it’s not about ideas. It’s about making ideas happen. What’s your next step? (Author: Scott Belsky)

Well, this is a very good question.  I have several aspirations and then I have what I have actually been doing.  In all cases, the next step is to tear away all the excuses and all the distractions and jump in.

I haven't decided on my word for the New Year, but I know that I want to make some things happen. The big step (which isn't that big) is to plan my life enough to purposefully make time for things. For a long time now, I have just been sort of blowing in the wind of this chaotic little life and I realized that I just have to take my intentions and act on them.

You know how you see someone that you like a LOT and you really, really want to see them more and get to know them more and you both always say, "Let's get together...really...We'll have lunch...really." You both mean it and you really want to but you have to check your calendar, check with your partner, make sure you don't have to work or have another social conflict.  For me, it is always better to make the appointment right then. If it is a date, I will be there barring illness or emergency. I might be late, but I will be there.

It is like doctor's appointments - I'm better at going to the ones that are made after the one I just had. I'm not good at calling for an appointment. I always have the receptionist make the next appointment for me right away so that I won't procrastinate.

For me, several things are on my list to be more disciplined, to plan better, to actually do them:  Take a couple of art classes in the Winter, do my art journaling classes (I took a couple of on-line classes but I haven't DONE them), work on some writing pieces, read 30 minutes a day, rehearse more and further ahead for my shows, reorganize my work room so that I can do my crafty things there, too.  All these things requires is time and attention, true, but not overwhelming amounts. Just dedicated. Can you imagine what I could have done if I had just started a little bit at a time a long time ago? Like my BA degree...I have 30 credits or so left. If I would just take a class at a time, I would be done soon. I need to make it happen.

Anyway, sounds like a bunch of double-talk, I know, but I understand what I mean.

Anyway, ACTION is a good topic for me right now. I needed this reminder.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Reverb 10 - Day 12: Body Integration

December 12 – Body Integration This year, when did you feel the most integrated with your body? Did you have a moment where there wasn’t mind and body, but simply a cohesive YOU, alive and present? (Author: Patrick Reynolds)

I'm not really feeling this question. I thought about it since yesterday and I couldn't really come up with anything interesting to say on the topic.  I am going to take a pass on this one.

Our company holiday/end of year party was tonight and I am tired.  This week is a busy one with new people, lots to do, another event next weekend.  Next Sunday will be a day of rest for me, for sure.

Look for more Reverb10 here tomorrow.  Thanks for understanding. 

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Reveb 10 - Day 11: 11 THINGS

December 11 – 11 Things What are 11 things your life doesn’t need in 2011? How will you go about eliminating them? How will getting rid of these 11 things change your life? (Author: Sam Davidson)

1.  Self-Doubt
Eliminating this is a life-time process, but I am getting better and better. Being real, staying true to myself is really the bottom line. I think we doubt ourselves more when we are going against the tide of who we really are.

2. Negative Self-Talk
This, too, is a life-long endeavor. When I start to hear those mean words and critical perspectives start spinning around in my brain, I have to take action. Even the smallest of positives can really turn things around.  Every day is a choice to focus on the good or the bad. I am choosing the good. Sometimes I need to be reminded.

3. Toxic People
Ah, this is a difficult one. Sometimes, there are toxins and you aren't even aware of them. In the last year, I have seen some people leave my life. I was sad to end the relationship for whatever reason, but also surprised to see that sometimes, when they left, a toxin was removed, as well. Isn't it funny how we don't even know when we are drinking poison? What a life lesson!  Some toxins are OBVIOUS but hard to escape for a variety of reasons.

4.  Chaos/Extreme Stress
Change does not equal chaos. 
I think I have always equated change with chaos. What I am learning is that I can be a change agent, I can manage change, I can accept change, I can even resist change.   What I cannot do is continue to be blindsided by change. I cannot continue to allow sudden changes to rule my life. I can predict and forecast as much as possible to be ready for anything. I can prepare for the most likely scenarios and then start eliminating as I see the options begin to focus in a specific area.
Extreme stress is not normal. 
A certain amount of stress is necessary to maintain a stimulating and interesting life. It challenges us, keeps our adrenaline flowing and our minds at the ready. Extreme stress is unnecessary and it is not normal. Physical manifestations of stress are not good and should not be tolerated. No job, no friend, nothing is worth sacrificing health (physical, mental, emotional, spiritual).

5. Perfectionism
Since no one is perfect, perfectionism is setting myself up for failure. I don't like to fail. Rather than spending my time avoiding things I can't do perfectly, I am going to be spending my time learning to do things I want to do and need to do. I am going to be looking for ways to expand my horizons as far as interests, skills and abilities. I am going to continue to hone my craft (writing), to improve my skills (in interpreting) and explore creativity (art journals and art and photography) in an effort to enhance and enjoy my life. I have no time for perfectionism and the fear and anxiety that accompany it.

6.  Starbucks
I have really cut back on my Starbucks consumption since my friend was let go from the company. It was the best thing for her - she was meant to do so much more, but it was a tough time for her.  I go occasionally, but one person in my office goes regularly. Sometimes they offer to bring something back if I want it. I sometimes decline, but mostly I don't because I haven't been getting up early enough to eat breakfast. Isn't that stupid? I always feel better if I eat breakfast, so I just need to get up and then I won't have to spend my $6 on Starbucks stuff. Duh. It's not rocket science, Jean. 

7.  More stuff
 I have enough stuff. I have tons of stuff. I have an issue with getting rid of much of it...I am working on that. In the meantime, I try not to collect more stuff. Useful things are good, but any item with the sole purpose of gathering dust is off the list this year.

8.  More ways to waste time
I love the internet. I love my blog. I love being able to research anything, to watch videos of almost anything. I hate how much time I waste on it all. I will be working to limit my internet time, my Facebook time, my television time. I long for more face time with HUMANS and I long for more time to read, to do art, to just be in the world.  This time has to come from somewhere, so it is going to come from the places where I spend the most time when I want to veg. I have to revisit the old school version of vegging - reading a book and listening to music, going to the park, going to the store, meeting a friend, going to the movies with a friend.

9.  Self-Conciousness
Well, my whole life would just be easier if I were a little more...flexible.  A little less self-concious, a little less fearful.  I was telling a friend tonight that I could imagine myself being a person who might die of embarrassment. Embarrassment is so painful to me it physically hurts. And I get embarrassed about stupid stuff sometimes. Someone told me that it is really narcissistic to think that things are about you and become embarrassed. I agree and disagree with this - it isn't so much that I think everything is about me. I just feel like sometimes, the pressure is too much. I pressure myself to perform (in all arenas- not just work or art or writing - ALL arenas) and when I don't, I am disappointed. It's hard to explain but I know what I mean.

10.  More responsibilities/expectations
I think I have enough on my plate right now, thank you very much.

11.  Regrets 
Life is now. This is not a dress rehearsal.

Most of these are in process now and have been for some time now. What I know is that by trying to eliminate these things, my life will be more well-rounded, happier, more expansive and more full of wonder and adventure. I can't wait to continue this journey on the clean slate of a new year.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Reverb 10 - Day 10: WISDOM

December 10 – Wisdom Wisdom. What was the wisest decision you made this year, and how did it play out? (Author: Susannah Conway)

This year was tumultuous and challenging in ways that I was not expecting and I wasn't sure I had the right equipment to handle the curve balls I was thrown. Ultimately, I decided that I was going to ride the wave and be honest with people, that I was going to bring the level of my communication to a new level.

When you say "be honest", people often wonder what you were doing before if you weren't being honest. For me, I have wanted/expected/tried to protect people, to try to keep everyone calm and happy and blissfully ignorant of the chaos behind the scenes, to seem competent and confident. There is a point at which you cannot do that anymore and when it is in everyone's best interest to have the whole story and the ability to make decisions about things based on what they know. 

As for communication, I am just trying to tell my truth. Ask people for what I need, tell them when I don't understand, tell people how I feel and just overall try to be clear in my expectations. I don't think I am at the end of that road - I am working on it, trying to hone these skills.  Going from just trying to adapt to everyone and take all that work on and resenting it to trying to move both parties in the same direction takes a lot of work and a lot of skill. Sometimes I have the skill, sometimes I don't.

I feel good about my decision and how I have tried to implement it in my life. I am still a work in progress, but I feel more confident and it takes longer for my stress level to build to a crescendo, so it seems like it is working in my favor.

The other decision I made was to continue to try to infuse my life with the activities I love - most particularly reading, art, fun, returning to my writing.  I have had varying levels of success, but I keep trying. I have taken workshops and went to my writers' retreat this year to support that wish.  Even though it is still an effort to get it all in, I know that overall, I am happier when I am including these other things in my life. Anything that is expressive, colorful, fun adds to the spirit and enjoyment of days and I am all for that.   Art and artful pursuits also help me with the decision to ride the wave, to be honest, to communicate what I need. It just makes me a better, happier person.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Reverb 10 - Day 9: PARTY

December 9 – Party Prompt: Party. What social gathering rocked your socks off in 2010? Describe the people, music, food, drink, clothes, shenanigans. (Author: Shauna Reid)

I don't attend many social gatherings, so all the ones I do attend are usually pretty fun.  As I described in an earlier post, I love laughing and telling stories with my friends.  I have one friend who comes to town a couple of times a year and our old group gets together and regales each other with our favorite retellings of the stories.  We have one person who isn't often there and whose Thanksgiving Turkey on the airline story is one of the most requested stories. 

I have loved all the interpreter gatherings I have attended this year, as well. I love to talk about the work, about theories, tell stories (sometimes victiorious ones, sometimes stories of utter defeat - all good ones), etc.

One gathering that really surprised me was the lunch and after-retreat drinks/social when I went to my writing retreat...I am usually pretty quiet with new people and don't find it easy to make new friends in those kinds of situations.  I decided I would do my best to be in the spirit of meeting new people - women, fellow aspiring writers and even some true-biz writers. I had some success - I met another interpreter and some bloggers and had some lively conversations with them.  That is pretty big in my book - not getting shy, not closing down or feeling like I didn't have anything to offer a new person.

I guess since I'm not really feeling this prompt the way I have some of the others, I will just leave it at that.  I should post a photo or something...spice things up...Maybe tomorrow.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Reverb 10 - Day 8: BEAUTIFULLY DIFFERENT

December 8 – Beautifully Different. Think about what makes you different and what you do that lights people up. Reflect on all the things that make you different – you’ll find they’re what make you beautiful. (Author: Karen Walrond)

Once I discover the answers to this prompt, I can probably stop writing this blog. I believe this is one of the primary questions people have in their lives and I am certainly no different.  I did come up with several things that came easily to mind.

What makes me different:  I love bright colors - the brighter, the better. I love having bright colors around me. I would love to have piles and piles of neon colored crayons and have furniture that was neon colored.  My car is bright, sunny, crayon yellow.  Neon pink is another favorite color.  When I was a kid, I colored everything in what my family called, "multi-colored stripes" - even my Santa Claus in first grade was divided up and colored in strips.  People don't understand how colors affect me. My theory is that the colors and the visual stimulation helps to stabilize my brain which is buzzing all around all the time. It is sort of the same theory people use when they explain why they drink hot coffee in the hottest parts of summer - it stabilizes their temperature. Colors and visual stimulation actually calm my brain.

What I do that lights people up:  I am a storyteller. I am trying to recapture that in my writing, but right now, my talent lies in sitting around with people and telling stories - funny stories about myself, my experiences. When Roby was still alive, we did what we called "tandem storytelling" - we would take turns adding onto the story the other one was telling. We could do it for hours and everyone was in hysterics by the time the evening was over. When he died, there was a long time when I didn't really feel I could tell the stories in the same way - I was missing the other half of the formula that made it beautiful. Slowly, I took ownership of my own stories.  One of my favorite things is when friends come to town and we all get together for an evening.  Almost everyone in the group is a phenomenal storyteller, so we take turns making requests of our favorite stories the other people tell. There is nothing better than laughing with friends until your cheeks and sides ache.   

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Reverb 10 - Day 7: COMMUNITY

December 7 – Community. Where have you discovered community, online or otherwise, in 2010? What community would you like to join, create or more deeply connect with in 2011? (Author: Cali Harris)

In 2010, I discovered many communities, both online and in 3D.  I made some realizations, too.
  • I joined Facebook in 2009 and struggled to figure out how I was going to interact with it. In 2010, I have found my own way in that social media outlet - I use it for what I need both personally and professionally. I know there is a community of people there, from my work world, my personal world, and my past. If I need help, if I need some kind of support, I can find some there, both digitally and in real life. 
  • I remembered that sometimes you have a deep connection with people almost instantaneously. There is no explaining it and no doubting that it happens. I reconnected with a person that happened with and I was pleased to find out that they felt the same way. 
  • I connected with people in the writing and art journal world, even to the point of attending a retreat. I didn't ask anyone to join me, I didn't go with anyone and I didn't sit on the sidelines and watch - I met people and enjoyed the interaction and made some connections there. 
  • I realized that I do tend to sideline it a lot. I don't know if that is partially from being an interpreter - never really invited to the party, but still present. Not involved, but having an impact anyway. I wonder if I lost my community interaction skills as I was gaining skills as an interpreter. I wonder if it is just my way and then interpreting really cemented that. 
  • I want to join the crafty/art journal community in my local area. I need to have some non-work related distractions to keep my balance. 
  • I want to be more connected to people. Sometimes I struggle there - my life is so full of boundaries and I am always aware of them. Sometimes they are a little more like electrified barbed wire and I can feel their outlines surrounding me.  
  • I want to be a better link in my personal community - to stop taking people for granted and get back to showing people how much I care for them. I haven't done that as much as I should. There are lots of reasons for that, but I want to put them aside and just do what I think is right.  

Monday, December 6, 2010

Reverb 10- Day 6: MAKE

December 6 – Make. What was the last thing you made? What materials did you use? Is there something you want to make, but you need to clear some time for it? (Author: Gretchen Rubin)

This is a loaded question. I thought long and hard about what I wanted to write and I kept defaulting to the whole, "I want to make art...I don't have the space, I don't have enough time. I'm letting my perfectionism stand in the way..." That is part of it, but I knew in the pit of my stomach that was not what I wanted to write about.

I never realized until the last couple of years that there are lots of things I want to make.  I want to make avgolemono soup and I want to make a journal from scratch - not just one out of paper, but one that has a cover and some heft to it. I want to finish one of my journals - with art and journaling and all. I want to make little doodads for the people in my life - just because. I want to make my life.

That's what all this is ultimately about - making a life. That process is never done - it is always in progress. I take no issue with that. What I am taking issue with these days is that I put a lot of roadblocks in front of life and the things that I want to do, the things that I want to make, the life I want to live.  I don't necessarily believe that I have to stop working for the man to make the life I want - I have to prioritize, I have to be willing to sacrifice and make choices about what can really happen and what needs to be put on a back burner.  

If I come down out of the clouds for a moment, I do have two specific things that I want to make that would be life goals achieved.  I want to write Roby and Jean stories - I promised him I would. I want to publish something.  For now, I have to keep writing. I'm not where I want to be yet - I haven't written anything in so long. The blog is part of my practice, but it is more of a drop-off point, not necessarily honed writing. I'm working my way there, but I haven't evolved that far yet. 

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Reberb 10 - Day 5: LET GO

Bird feeder photo. Baby steps.

December 5 – Let Go. What (or whom) did you let go of this year? Why? (Author: Alice Bradley)

Letting go is one of the bigger challenges of my life. I don't easily let go of things, people, etc. When this prompt appeared last night, I started thinking about it and wondering what or whom I had let go of this year...

I don't know if this will make any sense - I don't know if I have the right words to talk about what I let go this year, but here goes.

I finally accepted that I cannot change how people feel, how they react, what they want or the choices they make. In accepting that, I let go of the angst of feeling responsible - feeling that if I had just done something different or more, I could have changed things. In my saner moments, I see how egotistical it is to think that we CAN or SHOULD have an impact in that way, but somehow, my overdeveloped sense of responsibility doesn't always recognize this.

I am working on letting go of my fear of NOT being perfect. I know I'm not perfect and that is okay, but I still have these moments where it backs up on me. I think that is partially what I am doing in exploring art journals and writing again.  Perfection isn't the goal - the journey, the experience is the goal.  Forcing myself to do things that I don't feel comfortable doing or that I feel I am less than excellent at doing helps me in this process of letting go of perfectionism.

I have lots of other things I need to let go and a number of people I have to let go, but as I said, this is one of my bigger challenges, so I am just plodding along. Baby steps.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Reverb 10 - Day 4: WONDER

December 4 – Wonder. How did you cultivate a sense of wonder in your life this year? (Author: Jeffrey Davis)

I didn't intentionally cultivate a sense of wonder, but I rediscovered it as the year went on. Last year, I started the year collaging and working in art journals - something I never thought I would ever do and now I can't imagine ever NOT doing them. That process of discovery led me to find the amazing online art world. My sense of wonder has steadily increased over the course of the year to include many more arenas.

Not only have I seen incredible acts of kindness, incredible art, photography, wisdom, but I have also spent time in wonder over life. I am awed by how big it all is and at the very same time, how small it all is, how interconnected.

I have also spent time marveling at how little people really do cultivate a sense of wonder, of curiosity, of joy. When I see that, it makes me that much more determined to celebrate my own life and the gifts I have received. Sometimes the celebrations are small, sometimes big, but I know that this is what it is all about. Wonder and gratitude seem to go hand in hand for me.

I think that I will be more cognizant of wonder in 2011 now that I have this question in my mind. 

Friday, December 3, 2010

Reverb 10 - Day 3 MOMENT

December 3 – Moment.

Pick one moment during which you felt most alive this year. Describe it in vivid detail (texture, smells, voices, noises, colors). (Author: Ali Edwards)


The first thing I thought of when I read this was a strange moment to choose and I spent some time tonight trying to choose a "better" moment, but I couldn't get it out of my head, so I'm going to go with it.

It was a gloomy, rainy Friday afternoon in February. I left the office early to go to a medical appointment. As I was navigating the freeway, my phone started ringing. Having subscribed to the whole "No talking while driving" thing, I did not answer. Then the AIMs started ringing and a text message from my boss. "Call the conference bridge. NOW." Irritated that I couldn't just have an extra hour off to go to a medical appointment without having to work, I called in.

Within a few minutes, parked in the lot of my doctor's office, I sat, stunned. We were not sure if we would be in business the next month.

I went into the doctor's office. My mind was reeling with what I needed to do, how I was going to talk to my staff. Then, they took my blood pressure. SKY HIGH. Concerned, they asked, "What's going on?" I can't even remember what my BP was but it was terrible. I could feel my heart pounding in my chest, I was trembling. I started to cry. I told them I would be fine, and I knew that I would be, but I couldn't stop crying - reaction crying. I kept telling the doctor and nurse that I was fine - I was just sort of in shock.

I ended up having to have an EKG done and got a referral to a specialist. They made it sound like I was going to die right there - they called and got me an appointment for Monday morning. I was in shock - here I was, in this moment where almost the worst possible thing was happening at work and now, a health scare.

I walked out to my car and got in. A sense of calm came over me. I drove back to work to make sure that the folks who were working were okay. I was there for a few hours and then I went home. Over the weekend, it never occurred to me to send food to work or plan a farewell party as I heard some of the other call center managers did. It NEVER, ever struck me that way. I KNEW we would be okay and that the best thing to do was to go business-as-usual.

I guess it took these two moments crashing into each other for me to remember what was really important. My focus changed and I felt a sense of strength and confidence I haven't felt in a long time. It is weird to think that something like this makes you feel alive, but it did. It made me realize that staying that way was THE MOST IMPORTANT THING. More important than work, more important than my fears or perfectionism, more important than anything else and I decided to focus my attention on it. It changed everything for me. I'm not sure if anyone else noticed, but I can still feel it stirring inside me.

The only other moment that came to mind is an entirely different kind of ALIVENESS. The other moment was a moment when I was watching the "25th Anniversary Les Miserables In Concert" at the movies last month. When Jean Valjean sang, "But why did I allow that man to touch my soul and teach me love", I felt this intense love for this show, for Roby, for my life. I can't really explain the joy that this show lifts in me - it is like breathing fresh, clean air or drinking cold, clear water after being parched. My heart swelled in my chest and for the next 2+ hours, I lived in a beautiful, musical place that was so comforting and familiar and yet new again. I loved every minute. It renewed my love of theatre in such an intense way. When I am done interpreting "Hair" at the end of the month, my treat to myself is to start listening to this version on CD.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Reverb 10 - Day 2 WRITING

December 2 – Writing. What do you do each day that doesn’t contribute to your writing — and can you eliminate it? (Author: Leo Babauta)

This prompt is profound and laughable all at the same time. My whole world is made up of things that do not contribute to my writing because I let them...  At the same time, while I have not made my way back to writing creatively (stories, poetry), I have found a home and a community here at WildRumpsing and in the blogosphere. I feel more connected to my writing and to the self-expression I so cherished and nurtured when I was young.  That is very exciting to me. I continue to explore new ways to write, new forms of expression and art and all of the ways I am interested in also include writing and words.

One of the things I do each day that doesn't contribute to my writing in a big way is that I listen to the wrong voices. (Thank you, Jen Louden!) I can eliminate this!  Or at least reduce it.  I listen to the voices that tell me that I am wrong for wanting to spend time writing or creating or enjoying something. I listen to the voices that tell me that I have lost that spark, that drive, that talent that was developing in me back when I was disciplined in my writing practice. I listen to the voices that say that what I have to say will not be interesting to anyone but me and how egotistical of me to think otherwise.

New voices are starting to speak in me now - after much searching, almost three years of writing the blog, after attending the writers' retreat, working through "Creative is a Verb" and "Life is a Verb". Voices that affirm and support and are cautiously optimistic about the new avenues of art, art journaling, collage, photography, etc. that I have been using to reconnect with that creative part of myself. I am trying to listen to those tiny, quiet voices. They are timid and easily scared off, but I am trying to ask the right questions and listen for the answers.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Transformation (Reverb 10 Day 1 - ONE WORD)

Patti Digh is going to think I'm a stalker. I'm not. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, right?  I read her blog post today and followed her link to Reverb10.  I have been longing for a theme for a while and this theme resonated with me. Thank you again, Patti. (I'm not a stalker. I promise.)

This is a 31 Day challenge for the month of December.  Reverb10 posts a prompt for writers to reflect on 2010 and manifest in 2011 (see button on sidebar of this blog).

December 1 One Word.
Encapsulate the year 2010 in one word. Explain why you’re choosing that word. Now, imagine it’s one year from today, what would you like the word to be that captures 2011 for you?  (Author: Gwen Bell)


I chose the word "transformation" for 2010 because I feel like this year has been a year of growth - sometimes painful, sometimes difficult, sometimes joyous, sometimes against my will. My skills as an interpreter, manager and presenter have been transforming - some parts of me settling in, some parts dropping away - I feel more Jean than ever before. Transformation is not easy and it is not quick, but it is rewarding. (Frustrating, too.)  I have felt personally transformed this year as I explored creativity, reconnected with my desire to write, to explore means of expression that I had never considered and some that I never even knew existed. I have transformed in my reactions, in my expectations (some) and in my acceptance of my own idiosyncrasies.


For 2011, I choose the word "committed".  I have several goals - both personal and professional that I want to accomplish or at least work towards. They will require a high level of commitment and dedication.  I am also looking to grow and maintain my commitments to friends and family and myself. Health, friendships, family relationships all require some attention and nurturing and the commitment to make that happen. I hope that by the end of the year, I can look back with pride and feel a sense of accomplishment in these areas.


Not eloquent, but heartfelt. 



**Three posts in a day. What's up with THAT?? 

World AIDS Day 2010

 
This day is not a cause or a movement or a day of education to me. This is my personal Memorial Day. My life as an adult was shaped by the spectre of AIDS and HIV. Many of the people who taught me American Sign Language were taken by AIDS. Ambassadors, all. Generous, funny, young handsome men. My best friend and soul mate was taken by this disease. Many others I have known and many who never told me they were sick have lost their lives in the battle.  This is Memorial Day for me.  

Tony Kushner said it best in "Angels in America: Millennium Approaches":
"This disease will be the end of many of us, but not nearly all and the dead will be commemorated and will struggle on with the living, and we are not going away. We won't die secret deaths anymore. The world only spins forward. We will be citizens. The time has come. Bye now. You are fabulous creatures, each and every one. And I bless you: More life. The Great Work Begins." 
In loving memory of Roby Starns, Chris Roper, Dean Cannavino, Alan, and Dan. You are not forgotten.

37 Days til My Blogoversary!

At 8:37pm, I opened up my blog and saw that it is 37 days until my 3rd Blogoversary! If you know me at all or have visited here, you will know that 37Days.com has been a source of great inspiration to me, as has its author, Patti Digh.  (I have even met her - more than one time!! hee hee)

While I am not going to commandeer Patti's number permanently, the appearance of 37 today seemed a little like kismet. I have been wondering if I should do a giveaway or something to lead up to the Blogoversary.  This helped me make an easy decision.

The first 37 people to comment on the blog between now and my Blogoversary will be entered into a random drawing to receive a copy of Patti's book, "Four Word Self Help: Simple Wisdom for Complex Lives".  (If there aren't 37 comments, I will still enter all those who have left comments.  I have a small readership, so I'm dreaming big here, people.)

**Okay. Not funny. I opened the blog and it said 37 days. I went to take a screen shot because I thought it was so cool and it said 36 days now...The badge must count down in another time zone or country or something. :(  So I pulled up calendars.  If you start counting on Dec. 1 and don't count the ACTUAL Blogoversary, it is 37 Days. If you count Dec. 1 as over and you DO count the Blogoversary, it is 37 days.

Too complicated. Trust me. It said 37 days when I pulled it up. I don't understand what happened, but I'm not imagining it.  There are 31 days in December (counting today) and 6 days in January that lead up to THE BIG DAY. That is 37 days. (Why does this matter, you ask? It probably doesn't. I am having sensitivity to integrity, apparently.)

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Cognitive Dissonance

More and more now, I get the sense that there is something else that I am supposed to be doing. I don't necessarily mean "work in the world" as in job, as in career. I just know that there is so much more to it all than what I am currently subsisting on. That is exciting to me - to know that I am on the path, that I am still seeking, curious.
Running on little sleep today, I had a great interpreting day. The rest of the day was harder - I had a hard time processing even the most simple request. I felt like I was missing a piece of my brain all day.  Interestingly, though, because my defenses were down from being so freaking tired, my brain was all over the place thinking about stuff. Nothing concrete enough to really write about here. I just have a lot of plans and a lot of things to do.  I just need to get out of my own way long enough to accomplish something.

For some unknown reason, I wanted to add that I get daily emails from a website called "Notes from the Universe" and today's message was perfect for the day:
"There are only miracles, Jean, and to one degree or another they all soothe, pamper, and enrich. However, to avoid blowing too many minds at once, some are disguised as unpleasant surprises, botched circumstances, and twisted acquaintances that can rarely be seen for who or what they truly are until the pendulum has fully swung.
Yes... don't I think of everything?
Duck!
The Universe"

Monday, November 29, 2010

Little Thanksgiving Bird

When I was getting ready to go to Thanksgiving dinner on Thursday, I walked by the kitchen window and saw this little bird on the bird feeder. I ran to get my camera and took some photos.   It is a sweet little thing...I don't know exactly what kind of bird, but I will try to find out.


He just sat on the feeder - for about 20 minutes or so. I guess he was resting. Or maybe he ate too much for Thanksgiving and couldn't go anywhere for a while.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Black Friday Confession

Finally, on Sunday night, I have recovered from my foray out into the world of Black Friday shopping.  Traditionally, I'm more of a "buy nothing" person on the day after Thanksgiving. I worked retail for enough years that I can really appreciate just staying home and not bothering to join the crowds.  When I worked, it was the one day of the year that NO ONE was allowed to have off.  Our store was small, so having the whole staff there, even on a staggered schedule, was a big challenge, but we did it.

Last year, for the first time, I went out shopping at 4:30 a.m. to buy toys for a charity for Deaf kids. I had limited funds and had made a commitment to donate toys and I didn't want to fall down on my responsibility.  I got a lot of "Buy one, get one free" items and things for less than 50% off.  All in all, I was able to purchase about 28 gifts to donate.

This year, I was more focused on WHAT I wanted to purchase and tried not to worry too much about anything else. I got "Buy one, get one free" items as well as some supplies that, while inexpensive, will hopefully be a hit with the kids.  I went to Fred Meyer at 4:45 a.m. and parked near the doors where the toys were. I didn't stand in line because that just seemed like overkill. I waited in my car and I was able to get everything I wanted and a bit more.  The biggest challenge for me was waiting in the long checkout line when I was ready to leave - I don't remember that from last year. I think I may have missed the first checkout frenzy last year, so it didn't really show up in my plan.

I feel good about being able to give twice as many gifts for the kids this way. I worry that they won't like the gifts, but if they don't, it is still the thought that counts, right? That is so hard to keep in mind. I started to second guess myself this weekend, but I just decided that if they don't like their gifts, they can trade or something.

If I am still giving to this charity next year, I may actually look in the paper for gifts for my family/friends. If you look in the right places, you can certainly find some good deals and if you are already in the store and really know what you want, why not?  I'm not willing to go all over town to every store in the world or to fight with people trying to get "door busters" at Target, but I am willing to entertain a new tradition and to see where it leads.  We'll see. I may just maintain the status quo, too.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Life, Uninterrupted

I was thinking about stuff, as I am wont to do, and I was struck (again) by the fact that my life is just cruising along. Like it or not, every day dawns with new possibility and I just keep doing the same stuff. Still keep working, still keep thinking about how I want to do art, keep thinking that I want to finish my degree.  
 
None of these thoughts are a revelation. I think Roby's birthday and the anniversary of his death and my father's death just put me in the space thinking about what I have left undone and what I still want to do.
 
Today, I was watching GlobeTrekker on PBS. It was rerun of a woman in Zambia (I think). She went to Victoria Falls (there is a native name, but I can't remember it...sad, really that we only remember the conqueror's name for something so spectacular) and swam in this pool right at the edge of the falls. I'm not sure I want to swim in the pool, but I would love to see Victoria Falls. I would love to go to Africa, period. I would love to travel back to some of my favorite places from when I was a child. I would love to see some new places.  
 
I guess I better start my list and start checking things off. Maybe that is my goal for 2011. I'm sure it will take me a few years, but at least I can get started. Something to think about, right? 

Friday, November 26, 2010

Forty-Four Years Ago, Roby

Roby in "The Dining Room"
Happy Birthday, Roby.  You would have been 44 years old today. It's hard for me to imagine, especially after unearthing this hysterical photo from high school.  If AIDS hadn't entered our lives when we were so young, I like to think that you would have gone on to be a big name in Portland theatre. I don't know if you would have, but I like to think so.

As I posted on my Facebook, I'm sure Roby is somewhere screaming at me to take this photo down, but it is just one more part of him and is the catalyst for lots of great memories.  I worked at the props master for this show, "The Dining Room" in our senior year of high school. It was a dinner theatre production that we did in the round in the cafeteria. People were served prime rib dinner and then the show. One night, I was rushing across the stage towards the cafeteria and I notice Roby sitting on the edge of the stage. He was very upset. We sat together for a long time that day, just talking. It was one of those moments when I knew we had trust - he hadn't thrown up a wall of humor to throw me off the track. We had a real conversation about real issues in his world.

I would love to know him as a 44 year old. Alas, he was only with us for 29 years. But his memory lives on with many.
Roby and Fiona in "The Dining Room" circa 1985.


Roby, you are fondly remembered. Not just by me. By many. I love you.

Angie and Roby in the Green Room before "The Dining Room" in 1985.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone

Here is my Facebook status from this morning:
“Wake at dawn with a winged heart and give thanks for another day of loving.” Kahlil Gibran

I am grateful for all the people in my life, all the grace and joy I have been given and all the experiences that have led me here. Well, maybe not ALL the experiences, but mostly. ;)

Had a lovely Thanksgiving meal with friends and family today. Now, I'm gearing up for a foray into Black Friday. I never shopped on Black Friday until last year. I go for the sole purpose of purchasing toys for a holiday party for Deaf and Hard of Hearing children and their families. I figure that is a good cause. I don't shop all day, I don't go wandering from store to store. If I don't get what I'm hoping to get, so be it. I will just move on from there.  I am hoping to get some good deals on games and art supplies to make gifts for the kids at the party.  Wish me luck.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Crazy Target Lady Ads

I miss "Joe Boxer" Target commercials with the happy guy in his happy boxer shorts doing a little dance. Every time I saw that, it made me smile.

Now, we have crazed Target sale lady (aka Maria Bamford). Seriously, if I saw this woman in real life, I would run, not walk, in the opposite direction. The look in her eyes is SCARY. I have known mentally ill people and they have THAT look.  I know that Target is trying to be funny, but I think "Carol of the Bells" is permanently ruined by the ad where our sale-obsessed heroine is tied down with Christmas lights and alarm clocks so that she will wake up in time for the Day after Thanksgiving sales and she is "bing ding ding dinging" to the tune.

When I stopped to think about the difference between the two ad campaigns, I realized that they are really indicative of the state of the world right now. Happiness and sanity are not really in plentiful supply at this point. Everyone feels crazed and worried and anxious. For me, this makes me want to at least SEE happy people to remind me what it looks like. I don't want to see more unhappy, psychotic people. I want to imagine what life COULD be like again and will...

I hope the crazy Target lady goes away after Thanksgiving, but I have a feeling that she is here to stay, at least through the holidays. She is even worse than the shrill-voiced shrieking woman in the Old Navy ads. That's saying a lot.

**Just for the record, I'm not the only one who thinks this way...A more intelligent, articulate posting is here.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Ice, Art and Chinese Food

Well, I worked from home today because the main road by my house was frozen for a good portion of the day. I'm pretty sure that a lot of the main roads were fine, but it takes a while to actually get to the main roads.  By the time it cleared up, it was hardly worth going in as I was concerned about getting home again. Of course, I always make the decision on the days when it clears up. The days it is horrible, I am usually already out of the house and end up on some hotel. I guess I should have just gone in, but I did get a lot of work done.

I ordered two back issues of Art Journaling from Stampington and Company - I think I have been despairing that my art journals haven't looked perfect or the way I expect - even though some of the pages have come out pretty good. I needed some inspiration that I can make it look any way that I want. In my saner moments, I KNOW this, but for some reason, I need a lot of reinforcement in this area.  I looked through one issue while I was waiting for "Dancing with the Stars" results and I even did a little bit of work in one of the journals I started. Here's hoping I will get back to it - it has been bothering me that I haven't been doing anything, but I couldn't really bring myself to it. I guess everything has its own time and place.

I had great Chinese food from Szechuan House tonight - I thought it was a great choice for Thanksgiving week when all the traditional (and somewhat bland) food reigns. I have been going there for a long time and tonight it was DELICIOUS.  They make a mean hot and sour soup. If you are ever in the area, I highly recommend the place. It doesn't look like much in its little mall, hidden back there, but the food was very good.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Winter Wonderland?!?

I really wish that I could enjoy the snow. It is so beautiful on the trees and on the ground. But I don't enjoy it at all. I worry. I worry about work, I worry about getting to or from work. I worry about the people I work with and if they will be safe and take care of themselves or if they will worry and try so hard to get there and put themselves in danger.

We don't know how to drive in the snow and everyone makes fun of Portland for practically closing down, but with the snow comes ice and danger when you have to drive over bridges and overpasses that cover water. Schools and businesses don't want to close, so they wait until the last minute to decide which means there are almost always some people who had already started their trek before the decision was made.  Sometimes, I just wish we didn't have so many hills or so much ice or so many over-water roads. Maybe it would be easier then.

I feel cranky about the snow because everyone is always wishing for it and then when it comes, they complain or are upset when decisions are made that mean they have to continue real life and drive in treacherous conditions. STOP WISHING FOR SNOW for heaven's sake!  The only time I really welcome snow at this point is when everyone is already at home and no one will be affected (which is really never, when you think about it...)

Anyway, that's all. I don't even feel better for being cranky about it.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Arctic Temperatures?!

We have entered the extreme language zone for 2010. "Arctic temperatures" and "Storm Watch 2010" and all the accompanying stupidity.  "Be sure to watch our exact, down to the second doppler, radar, sonar, weather predicting program for the next 4 hours so that we can show you pictures of the snow FLAKES that were coming down 3 hours ago. We will show them over and over again because there is no actual snow falling in the area right now..."

Basically, it *might* snow. It might not.  It is cold. Ironically, it is also November - the traditional time for cold weather in the northern hemisphere.  Most of the news agencies have sent their crack reporters out to the far reaches of the area to stand in the dark and talk about the snow that hasn't happened yet. One station even talked to a runner who was prepared for the weather by...hold on...making sure that he watched for cars in the bad weather. Now, forgive me, but I'm pretty sure that my parents told me to watch out for cars ALL THE TIME. I know that seems radical, but it makes prep for the bad weather seem pretty easy.

I am bringing clothes in the car to ensure that if it snows while I'm at work, I will not have to drive in it. I will book a room at the Hilton and have a little staycation with cable TV.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

25th Anniversary Concert at O2 Movie Event

Now that I have time and a little more energy, I wanted to take some time to focus on the fantastic evening I had on Wednesday at the "Les Miserables" 25th Anniversary Concert movie event.  I LOVE Fathom Events - showing Opera, theatre, competitions, art events, anniversary showings of old films - what a fantastic idea! I love that someone thought of this. If people are able to see unfamiliar types of events for affordable prices, they might fall in love with an art genre that they would never have been exposed to otherwise. This goes back to the whole idea of listening to your parents music or to the radio - you hear things you might not choose to listen to but then you might be inspired to explore.  With iPods and headphones and backseat DVD players, there has to be another way to expose people to different types of entertainment, different music genres, etc.

The "Les Miserables" concert was beautifully filmed, beautifully staged and had an incredible cast of talented actors and singers.  The gentlemen who played Valjean, Javert, Thenardier and Enjolras were BRILLIANT singers. Lea Salonga was very good as Fantine - passionate, beautifully sung. The woman who played Eponine was outstanding. My favorite cast member in this production was the boy who played Gavroche. He was a FIRECRACKER!  Charisma poured out of him - he could act, he had great physical presence and he could sing. It made me long for the old "Little People" song from the original version of the show.

Even in concert version, I was moved to tears. Just being immersed in this beautiful show again was such a great experience. I found myself remembering moments in my life when those songs and the show were pivotal - lots of memories of Roby and NYC.  It felt like being at a live show. The audience was electrified, too. People clapped and cheered in the movie theatre and seemed very emotionally invested. It felt like a room full of people you know because we all shared one thing - love of this show.

After the curtain call, Cameron McIntosh came out and said a few words along with Alain Boubil and Jean-Michelle Schoenberg (the French composer and Lyricist) and Herbert Kretzmer (English language lyricist).  Then they brought out the 1985 Original London cast members.  Thankfully, Michael Ball was there (the BEST Marius ever cast in the role and still able to sing the part better than anyone else) and Colm Wilkinson.

The piece de resistance for me was having 4 different Jean Valjeans sing "Bring Him Home" together.  They had the current Valjeans from the Barbican and Queen's companies, Colm Wilkinson and the concert Valjean sing together. It is so beautiful. 

The Four Valjeans sing "Bring Him Home"


I really only had two complaints:

1.  I wish the entire show was still intact - this seemed to have some edits. I am hoping that most of the edits were for the concert and not permanent changes.

2. As I stated in a post a couple of days ago, Nick Jonas was not good. I felt badly for him - he was surrounded by these classical and clearly trained singer and he sounded like he had a clothespin on his nose.  His voice is much too thin for the part of Marius. Unfortunately, no one has ever been able to sing the part like Michael Ball could. I always thought it would be impossible for someone to sing Valjean as well as Colm Wilkinson, but I have never heard a bad Valjean. I definitely have my favorites, but I have never heard it sung badly - even in the high school production I interpreted.  Marius - that's a whole other story. From the original Broadway Marius (forever captured on the OBC recording and on the 1987 Tony Awards show performance) on down to this guy, the Marius' have been thin voiced and unconvincing. Shame, really, since he has some powerful music to sing.

Here is Michael Ball singing "Empty Chairs at Empty Tables" from the 10th Anniversary concert:




Anyway, all in all, it was the highlight of my week. Actually, it was the highlight of the Fall for me, I think. I am hoping, hoping, hoping that this will be sold on DVD like the "RENT" Broadway closing DVD and all the other "Les Miserables" videos. I can't wait to have it in my hot little hands!

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