Sunday, May 17, 2009

Saying Yes More Often.

I am, by nature, a pessimist. I like to think of myself as a realist because pessimist has such a negative connotation to it but, given my true nature at this stage in life, I am a pessimist. I think through all possible outcomes to a given situation before I begin to ensure that I am best prepared for the worst. I know logically that this approach to life leads to many situations where I don't even begin because a high percentage of possible outcomes could be detrimental (from my perspective).

I believe that my approach to life is largely based on my childhood experiences and that, because of those experiences, I have developed a habit of wanting to avoid "bad" outcomes. I also think it is human nature, as part of our basic survival instincts, to avoid "pain" and go to pleasure or comfort.

I know that my approach, my habits, keep me from experiencing things in my life (painful or pleasurable) that will help me grow as a person. I know that my need to control each situation, to play out all the end scenarios and determine how to deal with each before I have even started keeps my opportunities for growth limited to the perspectives and experiences I have played out beforehand, needing to be within my acceptable range of outcomes.

I logically know this is how I operate (most times on auto pilot) and yet I find myself in the same set of circumstances over and over and over through life. Because, frankly, change can be difficult and it definitely requires me to be present in the moment. And how can I be present in the moment if I am constantly playing out every darn possible scenario in the universe (mostly the bad one's) that could occur in the future so that I can adequately prepare myself?

So, my tiny step this week is to start saying "Yes!" more in places where I might have otherwise said no. I did this yesterday when an opportunity presented itself to me in place of what I thought I wanted. Instead of saying no, that is not what I asked for, I said Yes! I will try that because it is here for me now.

I was listening to a podcast last week where they talked about putting down the oar that we use to paddle up river and instead go where the river leads you. A deep part of me sighed with HUGE relief at being able to "let go". Of course, another part of me went into panic mode. We are all so incredibly trained as part of our societal obligations to "take the bull by the horns", "lead the way", "take the initiative", "make it happen", "be the leader", etc. There is so much value in our society for being driven, controlling, perfectionist - it creates struggle many times because everyone is hearing the message to be the team coach and there is no one left to be the team. I find this many times in my professional life. Everyone wants to be viewed as the visionary, the leader, the top dog....there is no one left to do the work. Or, even worse for me, the one's left actually doing the work are viewed as order-takers that lack drive and motivation. Hello?

So, my little part this week is to be open to what is in front of me more (saying yes to the moment or opportunity) and letting go of the oars (just a little bit for now).

Saturday, May 16, 2009

We Are All in the Same Boat.

You would have to live in a cave (a cave without wireless internet, cell reception or human contact) in order to avoid the fact that the world is going through some pretty hefty changes these days. Some folks have been relatively sheltered from the storm, many have had significant impact to their lives, their livelihoods and their world.

I propose that those who have been somewhat sheltered reach out to help those who have been impacted. I don't think you have to look too far at all. A friend (or friends), a family member, a co-worker (or ex co-worker). How can we help each other out? How can we take care of those around us? How can we be the vehicle for creating community, support and kindness for those in our immediate sphere?

Here are some thoughts:

  1. Make a friend a delicious homemade dinner and let them take the leftovers for lunch.
  2. Share items from your garden with a neighbor.
  3. Host a book/clothing/toy exchange at your home - everyone brings an item (or three) to exchange for something else...a "new to them" item.
  4. Make enough lunch to share with someone at work.
  5. Send an email, make a phone call or send one of those greeting cards piling up in your office to someone you love to let them know you are thinking about them.
  6. Hire your friend/neighbor/family member to provide a service to you in a skill area they are wonderful at.
  7. Burn a CD and give it to a friend.
  8. Loan movies/books/magazines to each other.
  9. Plan a "free day" excursion to visit the library, museum (on free day - most have one), nibble on Costco samples and window shop at local stores.
  10. Reach out to co-workers who are being laid off and connect with them, create a link and stay in touch. We should never be too busy to be kind and caring to our fellow humans.

We are all in the same boat and we need to take care of each other and let kindness be our currency.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

The Moment Before it Begins.

I love to have small groups of friends to the house for dinner. Note the word small. I am not a party person. Large groups of people overwhelm and confuse me most of the time. I like to pay attention to the conversation and get to know the people I am with on a more intimate level. I like to give them my undivided attention. In large group settings (for me that is 6 or more) I find it distracting, the conversations never getting too deep because there are so many people to say "hi" to.

Life has kind of been like the moment before the dinner begins for me the past few weeks. The table is set, the pots are simmering, the wine is chilling and the garden patio is dust free but no one is here yet. I have been in the mode of preparing for the next phase of my own life - cleaning my floors, grocery shopping for new items, creating new menus and thinking through the details. I have been asking myself a lot of questions and waiting for the answers to bubble to the top in their own good time. Perhaps when my view is clearer I will share more.

In other news it is HOT. Big surprise that Phoenix, in May, is hot. Every year I fall so in love with Spring and then the first 100 degree day hits and I start to wonder why I live here. I get dehydrated because I forget I have to drink more water now and I have not gotten back in the habit of putting the screen shade up in my car just yet. It takes a couple of weeks to adjust for the summer heat. Just a week ago we took the blankets off our bed (one heated and one synthetic down!). Hmmm, maybe I am not going through "the change" with all those night sweats after all - it was just too many blankets on the bed!

So, while I ease into the boiling atmosphere that will be the next few months of our lives here in the desert, I will leave you with this inspiring poem. Typically I do not "fall" for the predictable sing-songiness that all performance poets seem to have but the words were amazing as was the poet. I will also leave you with this very honest reflection of being an artist. Lastly, two new-to-me links to pass along that I found very entertaining so I will add this and this to my links list.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Post Earth Day.

I spent the week in Princeton, NJ for business this past week and didn't get to post on Earth Day. Isn't it so cool that we actually have an Earth Day? I think so. As we continue to grow as a species, it can be pretty daunting to think of the enormous burden we place on nature to sustain our bad habits. It is also inspiring to see all the innovation that is taking place (we are smart, aren't we?) as the need increases for sustainable solutions.

I look to our own household and some of the changes we have made just in the past year that have lightened our impact on the planet:

  1. Using my Klean Kanteen instead of plastic water bottles. While I have had other reusable water bottles in the past, the plastic one's were icky and other stainless steel brands got really nasty eventually because they were hard to wash due to the small opening. I LOVE my Klean Kanteen!
  2. We have switched from paper napkins to cloth ones. I can't imagine how much paper we have saved over the past year just in using cloth vs. paper.
  3. Using regular cups, plates and utensils when we entertain instead of paper and plastic disposable items.
  4. Eating less meat and more veggies from our lovely garden.
  5. Shopping more at the farmer's market and less at grocery stores. I have also rid my life of frozen meals all together. There is so much waste in the packaging and they aren't even that good!
This year, we have lots of new plans for more ways to decrease our foot print on the planet, including:
  1. Converting our front lawn to an edible landscape. Right now we have two huge pine trees and a Eucalyptus along with a large front lawn. They were all here when we bought the house 10 years ago. Now that Vynnie is the most amazing gardener, we will have the opportunity to create an edible landscape and hopefully inspire some of our neighbors to do the same.
  2. Creating more biodiversity in our backyard by getting some chickens! I am really excited about this since I am an animal lover. Can't wait for Fall so we can bring those lovely little chicks to their new home.
  3. Eating even less meat and even more organic fruits and veggies.
  4. Using our money to vote for the things we want to support. With the economy in the shape it is right now, our dollars are more powerful than ever in voting for what we want when we buy green, organic, sustainable and local.
  5. Creating artwork with more sensitivity to reusing, recycling and using Earth-friendly products when creating.
  6. No more plastic bags! I admit that I bought several reusable shopping bags, including one's that fit into my purse, and don't always use them. This year is the year to not put one more plastic bag into the system from shopping.
  7. I will be writing to some of my favorite stores to ask for better packaging options. One example is Trader Joe's. I love and adore Trader Joe's but why do they have to package all their organic fruits and veggies in plastic containers? I hope that they will find alternatives or quit packing these all together - nature already wrapped them didn't she?
  8. Limit our take out meals. Yes, it is nice to eat our favorite restaurant meals at home but the amount of waste that results from take out dining (containers, bags, plastic utensils) is unreal. Time to eat at the restaurant (and order only what we can eat there) or cook at home!
  9. Switch to sustainable house cleaning products. I am a big time Swiffer fan. It is so easy to run it across the floor, sweep up the fur balls and dust and toss it in the trash. The Swiffer mop is really convenient too, however neither of these products is sustainable or biodegradable. Time to find really good alternatives (like a dust mop and an old-fashioned floor mop) and reuse these babies!
  10. Give sustainable gifts and wrap them in ways other than paper or gift bags that end up in the trash. I saw the coolest thing at Cost Plus on a recent trip, fabric gift wrap and a lovely satin ribbon to tie it up with. You can reuse this again and again!
It's a good list for this year and something we can work towards. What are you going to change this year in the way that you live to help Earth?

Saturday, April 18, 2009

40 Things I Love...

Today is my husband's 40th birthday! My husband Vynnie is truly the most incredible, inspiring and kindest person I know. What does a girl get for the man who needs nothing to be happy, loves sitting in his garden more than going out to fancy dinners and thinks poop is a gift? Compost bins! Yes, that's right, he wanted compost bins for his birthday and so that is what he is getting!

I think sometimes the people in our lives don't know what makes them so special to us so I wanted to write a list of 40 things I absolutely love about my man. So here it goes:

  1. His smile. This is the first thing I saw, even before I met him. You can see his smile coming a mile away and it always melts my heart.
  2. The way he drinks his tea (both hands on a cup, sipping like a little kid).
  3. His kindness.
  4. That he prefers PB and J to fillet mignon.
  5. His passion for all things green.
  6. That he always says yes to a new adventure.
  7. How he can talk to anybody. Anybody!
  8. That for his birthday dinner he wants something that has rice.
  9. How he can put anything together, fix anything and never throw the hammer when it takes longer than expected or when it requires far more tools and supplies than originally thought.
  10. That he likes cats.
  11. That there are no strangers in his world, only friends he hasn't met yet.
  12. His endless creativity.
  13. That his favorite color is white.
  14. His paintings - they are mysterious, layered and they inspire the imagination to go to new places.
  15. That his favorite movie is Blade Runner
  16. How his eyes exude incredible light, like he knows the secret to the universe.
  17. The way he cooks sweet potatoes - YUM!
  18. That it takes him a year to read a novel, one page a day.
  19. That he is a brave Marine but never, ever brags about it.
  20. His gusto for eating vegetables. He will pick things out of the garden and start nibbling right there because he can not wait for them to be rinsed and prepared.
  21. His eye for beauty - admiring it, creating it, finding it in places where others may overlook it.
  22. How he always uses the Latin name for plants (and therefore I rarely know which one's he is talking about).
  23. The way children light up when he walks into a room.
  24. His preference for t-shirt and shorts over suit and tie.
  25. The way he will stand in his garden, arms crossed, and witness life happening all around.
  26. That he always had something positive to say - about anyone, anything or any situation.
  27. His incredible, unending patience. As an impatient perfectionist, I am in constant awe of his ability to let things move at their own pace and in their own unique way.
  28. His beard that tickles my chin a little every time we kiss.
  29. His fondness for vanilla ice cream.
  30. The way he eats his chips and salsa - chips crushed up in a bowl, salsa poured on top and eaten with a spoon.
  31. The way he writes very detailed information on tiny little Post It notes.
  32. The way he walks - with confidence and a smidgen of bad ass.
  33. That he can admit getting a tattoo hurt.
  34. How he always finishes his drink before he starts to eat.
  35. The way his face lights up when he talks about peach cobbler.
  36. That no matter how expensive the bottle of wine, he will pour Hansen's soda in it to make it a wine cooler.
  37. His detachment to having control. He is very good at taking control if a situation calls for it, otherwise he just rolls with whatever is happening and enjoys the ride.
  38. His Scooby-Doo laugh. His laugh makes everyone smile and laugh with him.
  39. That he never raises his voice in anger.
  40. The way he can raise one eyebrow like Mr. Spock!
Happy birthday Vynnie! You are a true gift in everyone's life who has the fortune to know you!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

I Get a Do Over.

Check this guy out! He was hanging out on the sidewalk like he owned it as hoards of people wandered down Bleeker Street on a Saturday. I love the the braveness.

I got a note from The Universe this morning that says I get a do-over. The note read:

You get as many "do-overs" as you like. Of course, you never know you're living a "do-over" until it's over.
There are lots of reasons for wanting a "do-over." Most of all, people want another chance to do things they were afraid to do the first time, and to say things they were afraid to say. Oddly enough, it's not their mistakes they want to rework, but their "unused" minutes. Yeah, pretty nifty, but you should know that it isn't any easier the next time, and because no two ever go exactly the same, the gifts, opportunities, and loves of one, never appear the same way again. Never. So all in all, it's better to live as if there are no "do-overs," so that you won't need one. But I thought I'd share this with you anyway, to work in the bits about fear, mistakes, and how precious today's opportunities really and truly are.

I love my life and have few regrets but boy, it is good to know, that if I need it I can get a do-over.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

The Weekend in Pictures...

This post is a tad late due to this pesky thing called work however, this is my weekend documented in pictures...

First, my favorite concoction. Green tea vanilla almond milk latte! Mix 1 part warm vanilla almond milk, 2 parts good green tea, a tad of agave nectar and a smidgen of cream....delicious! And yes, I make my tea in a French press.

Then a morning stroll in the garden...

...lovely, lovely flowers...

.....yummy edibles everywhere...

....and the meeting of the minds...

Finally, a cat nicknamed Bird (for her chirping) who likes a good roll in the dirt!