Come visit me!

I’m moving to a new blog home! My old laptop just doesn’t seem to play well with MSN Spaces any longer and acts really quirky so I’m giving Blogger a try. So far, so good – of course, I’ve only posted one post so far.
Anyway, please come visit me at my new home:
I’ll be unpacking, so ignore the moving boxes as I settle in. Better yet, can you help me move the sofa over to that wall? Hmmm … or how ’bout over there? …
Posted in Random | 2 Comments

If only I could make money at this …

One of my super powers doesn’t involve leaping tall buildings in a single bound or going faster than a speeding bullet. It’s a relatively useless super power, unfortunately, but I’m really, really good at it! 
What is this wondrous super power which I possess? I have an almost uncanny ability to spot typos and other grammatical errors, either as they blaze across the TV screen or in print. (See, I told you it was relatively useless and won’t save the world from zombies or evil empires, unfortunately.)
1. Watching "My Parents’ House" a couple of weeks ago, the credits were rolling and I spotted 3 typos almost in a row. And you know how fast those credits roll! (I’d taped it and went back to double-check. Yes, I taped. No Tivo here.) Check it out:
Design Sylist
Contruction Assistant
You know the old fairy tale about the princess who could feel the pea under several layers of mattresses? She had an extra-special sensitivity for peas and I have an extra-special sensitivity for spotting stuff like this.
2. This morning I spotted another on a weight-loss commercial on TV:
No Pre-packged food
3. This morning, on, I was reading about the "science behind the results," a Q&A interview with EL’s VP of R&D. I read through a few questions and then noticed that the questions I’d already read were posted twice. Huh? Clearly a copy/paste error by whomever does their content management, but all it would take is one quick read-through to spot this error.
4. LA Ink – don’t get me started on this one. The TV show uses captions throughout that are riddled with misspellings and typos. OK, I realize this isn’t the Discovery Channel and it’s not necessarily programming for intellectuals, but come on. Even people with tats read and deserve good spelling and grammar.
Who’s proofreading this stuff? I want THAT job! As a QA Manager (testing Web sites and interactive media), I was meticulous, detailed and thorough about the copy, ensuring there were no typos, that the grammar was correct, that the copy conformed to standard usability guidelines and user practices.
It’s distracting to see so many textual errors in media that is supposed to be professionally produced. When people see errors on TV or Web sites or print media, the subconscious thought is "If they can’t get something simple like the spelling right, what’s that say about their product?" I even worked in a company once that used several variants of their own company name: capitalization, partial capitalization, spaces between elements of the name, no spaces between elements, periods, no periods. Protecting the brand through clear and consistent use of the company name in all media should be a no-brainer.
A grammatical goof last week cracked me up (not the tragic incident, of course, but the goof in the headline):
Former Deputy Sentenced for Missing Wife’s Murder
It’s a shame he missed it! But is missing a wife’s murder a crime?
Posted in Random | 1 Comment

time, rest, renewal, reconnection

It’s been one month today since I was laid off, a time during which I’m ever more aware of how perfectly the Divine works in my life, providing abundant blessings and grace …
Each morning, I strap on my brace, making sure it fits firmly and snugly, lace up my brown Vans and take a walk through the surrounding neighborhood. Now that I’m between opportunities, I have time to do this for myself, enjoying exercise and fresh air at the start of my day, instead of driving off to work. I say hello to people I meet, see the changes people are making to their homes and landscaping, admire the garden designs, or the new paint or the new addition that’s going up. I notice the changes in the greenery as we move toward fall, certain flowers fading while others are still rip-roaring with blooms. It’s a beautiful time, a time when I can connect with all that is around me. This morning I had a nice chat with a man walking a beautiful brindle pitt bull dog, a rescue dog. Friendly hellos and smiles to others, fresh air, a wave to a neighbor – not a bad way to start a morning.
In my little garden, I’m noticing that the salvia responds better to more water than I’d been giving it when I was working. I didn’t know that before I was laid off. The skies are clear and blue, the ocean breeze a bit brisk and cool, early for this time of year. Things that I wouldn’t notice if I was in a beige office cubicle, working between two monitors for 10 hours a day. I feel like I’m opening, releasing, remembering.
Remembering who I am. The last few years, I’ve been telling friends that I’ve felt that I’d forgotten who I am. Work, stress, not enough time, bills, health issues – no time to be me, to be a friend, to volunteer at church, to connect with cousins and family the way I wanted, the way that fulfills me and gives me happiness. For one job, my commute was about 4 hours a day in heavy LA traffic. In another, I was a square peg in a round hole; not a good fit, no matter how I tried to adapt to a company culture that was so different from any other I’d ever experienced.
The past couple of weeks, people have been "showing up" to remind me of who I am. It’s been wonderful! A beloved cousin who I haven’t spoken with in many years suddenly called from Korea where she’s living right now. "You sound just the same!" she said, which made me so happy. An old high school friend has shown up and we’ve exchanged e-mails filled with the same intelligent wit that we shared in high school. "Your personality is as sparkling as ever!" she wrote. A former co-worker has also shown up, a real girl friend who I always enjoy so much and who I can share girl things with. Whenever she and I reconnect, it’s always at the most perfect time and she brings me laughter and refreshment and joy in being female. I sometimes wonder why we don’t stay in touch more regularly, but then I realize that, too, is part of God’s perfect plan.
The Tibetan language has no word for "unemployment". For most of the world, work used to be seasonal: farmers and ranchers would work their land or care for their stock for most of the year. After the harvest, the land – and the people – would rest, being renewed, refreshed seasonally. Other chores would take the place of the usual farming and ranching, in accordance with the seasons. The land and the people lived in harmony with nature and the cycles of the year. Western culture doesn’t embrace this same harmony. Our 24/7 accessibility to work – Blackberrys blazing, e-mails flooding inboxes night and day – doesn’t provide the rest and renewal cycle that our natures need.
Right now, I feel that the Divine – my Lord and God – has given me this time to reconnect and to remember who I am, to renew my spirit. I am happier and brighter, laughing more and laughing more easily. I’m opening up and releasing – aaaahhhhhh! –  letting go of what was, to embrace what is.  This is a time of restoration, rejuvenation, growth, beauty. A time to pause and to remember to live with intention. Thank you, God.
Posted in Spiritual Being | Leave a comment

Labor Day 2007

crit-crit … crit-crit … I finally notice the sound and lazily look up from my book. Lazily, because I’m out in the quiet of my patio reading,  the bright sun warming my skin – my arms, my head, my face, my legs – relaxing me from the outside in, as I lose myself in reading about a year in Provence.  
crit-crit … crit-crit … I casually scan my little patch of garden around me, looking for the source of the sound. The fountain next to my chair burbles happily, the relaxing sound of the water spilling over, adding to the peaceful reverie I am in. The ocean breeze gently rustles through the garden, lightly tinkling the wind chime, whispering through the leaves of the jasmine growing up and over the arbor, dancing through the ficus tree that hangs over from next door like a nosy neighbor leaning over the fence.
crit-crit … crit-crit … Ah … there you are, my friend. Next to the lavender that has grown larger than the spot in which it was planted, I spy her sipping at the crimson blooms of the salvia, the plant’s little florets dancing at the tips of long wands. She dips her long beak into each flower, her compact, brown body suspended in mid-air, the bright flash of ruddy red on her chest appearing as she moves from the salvia to the rose, abundant with graceful red buds ready to open.
crit-crit … crit-crit … Very slowly, I put the bookmark in place and quietly lay my book on the glass table next to my chair. This is a "moment", something I want to pay attention to, to be fully present to. Moving my thoughts from the story of a time-is-of-no-consequence lunch in a Provencal village, I now watch the hummingbird as she deliberately leans into each rose bud, taking in the nectar, her wings beating in a whir. The sun shines on us both, the breeze lifts again as I watch, peace and relaxation – and gratitude – filling my being.
crit-crit … crit-crit … crit-crit … crit-crit …
Posted in Peace | 4 Comments

Happy Birthday, Mom!

It’s Mom’s Birthday! Happy Birthday, Mom!
Mom used to joke that she was like Jack Benny, forever 39. As my cousins got older, she’d tease them "You’re catching up to me!" Since she crossed over in 1990, Mom is now ageless, forever still beautiful and laughing, forever loving and caring.
If she still had a physical self here, I’d bake her a cake. What kind would she like? Probably devil’s food with chocolate icing. Mom used to bake great cakes with her own homemade icing that we kids all loved. If there was extra icing left over (and somehow there usually was), she’d let us spread it on a slice of bread – yum! I liked that better than the cake itself.
What kind of present would I get for her? Maybe we’d go shopping together and I’d let her pick something out. We used to shop together a lot when I was in jr. high and high school, taking off to the mall after dinner to browse. Maybe she’d pick out a new top for herself or maybe some perfume or jewelry. Mom loved earrings! For her birthday, I’d play piano for her because I know it always made her happy to listen to me play. 
My dear brothers and Dad woud be there to celebrate her birthday, all of us teasing one another the way our family always does, with much love and caring affection. She’d get calls and cards from her brothers and her sister, funny cards usually. She’d also get cards from her nieces and nephews – several of them her godchildren – who she loved so very dearly.
I’ll be heading over to the cemetery now to take flowers to her grave, to polish her headstone, to sit and pray. Her spirit is in the air and in our hearts, filling us with her love and with her joy still. I like for others to see that her headstone is cared for, that this is a person who is loved and who receives flowers on her birthday. I can’t bake her a cake today, but I can make sure her headstone gleams and that a bright, happy bouquet gives others a glimpse of the joy Mom gives us.
Happy Birthday, Mom!
Posted in Family and Friends | 4 Comments

… and then the next thing happens

“The awakened sages call a person wise when all his undertakings are free from anxiety about results.”
~ Krishna from The Bhagavad Gita 
There is a Zen Buddhist teaching of "non-attachment"; in yoga, it is called apigraha, the fifth yama, literally the non-accumulation of worldly objects, but it goes much beyond just material objects. Non-attachment is the concept of letting go; to me, that includes letting go of that which no longer serves my highest and greatest good, of being able to move into a place of acceptance easily when things are as they are and cannot be changed. It’s knowing that my happiness is not tied to things or places or people. My happiness and joy are always with me. My happiness is not attached to – dependent on – a person, place or thing.
Change is constant in life. To quote Zokestu Norman Fischer:
" … whether we let go or not things will slide away and we won’t be able to prevent it. Better to let go and cooperate with the way things are than to try fruitlessly to resist the irresistible shape of reality…. This is really the kindest way to live and it is the only way to love: to let each thing really be what it is and then to let it go – to let it be free. To try to hold ourselves or our world or another person in place is impossible. Nothing can be held in place."
Every moment is here … and then is gone. As one of my yoga teachers would say "… and then the next thing happens". Whether we bid it to happen or not, the next moment will happen nonetheless and then be gone, so we shouldn’t become too attached to it. Be fully present to the moment, acknowledge the pleasure (or pain) in the moment and then release it. It’s already released you.
It seems to me that non-attachment is something that I’ve been working with for longer than I knew the concept existed. A man I loved once told me "the only problem in our relationship is that you don’t need me." And it was true. I wanted him in my life, I loved him and wanted to be with him, but need him? No. I’m not needy or clingy or dependent; truly, it hadn’t ever occurred to me to "need" a person in order to be happy. I was already happy; my happiness dwells within me, I don’t gather it from someone or something outside of me.
I continue to gain a greater understanding of and appreciation for non-attachment. We often see situations where a person is so tied – so attached – to an outcome, that they are devasted when the outcome is not what they’d attached themselves to and it cannot be changed. (Disclosure: I’m a bit like that with lottery tickets; always amazed that I didn’t win the big jackpot – lol!) They are sorrowful, confused, deeply hurt, maybe angry. (Think those TV reality contests.) They can’t fix the unfixable, so what to do? Accept it, gently release it and move on in grace and love.
A couple of weeks ago, my company had a reduction in force and my job was one of several that were eliminated. I found it very easy to move into a place of acceptance as I sat in the HR office. The company had detached me, so I had to detach myself from the company. I couldn’t change it, so why get angry or emotional in any way? I accepted it and began to think of my next steps. Releasing the previous job opens up more space in my life to devote to searching for my next great job. I’ve defined what I want, I’ve focused my intentions and I’m taking the action steps I need to take to manifest my career desires in my life.
Fischer also writes "If you let go a lot you have a lot of happiness; if you let go a little you have a little happiness; and if you can’t let go at all you will have a lot of misery." Throughout our lives, people, friendships, places, jobs, homes, health can come and go; being able to release these things emotionally when they’ve been removed from our lives helps us remain healthy and strong, and most of all, blissfully happy.


Posted in Spiritual Being | 1 Comment

shifts of the 60s

Looking up from the paper, Mom said "I hear this band is really great." Passing the newspaper advertisement to me across the kitchen table, I saw the ads for the various albums and 45s recently released. "I think I’ll get the album," she said, as I looked at the photo of 4 cute guys with longish hair and dressed in mod-style suits. It was 1964, I was in 4th grade, and, knowing Mom’s great taste in music, I was interested in these guys that the ad called "The Beatles".
Camelot was over. Our president had been assassinated a few months earlier. Seeing pictures of our beautiful, graceful Jackie made me cry. What would she do without her Jack? What about John-John and Caroline? What would any of us do?
Mom had campaigned for JFK, enlisting my two brothers and I to stuff and stuff and stuff envelopes of campaign materials. He was our man, handsome, charismatic with a compelling vision for an America of unity and goodness, of Peace Corps volunteers promoting the cause of peace through living and working in developing countries. "… ask not what your country can do for you — ask what you can do for your country." An altruistic and noble vision. Our garage was the polling place for the election in our area.
Jackie’s style became America’s style. We went from full skirts a la "I Love Lucy" to straighter shift dresses, very stylish. Ever on top of the trends, Mom made several for me, even though – with my skinny body, bookworm glasses  and knee socks – I wasn’t the style fashionista that she was. My Argentine ballet teacher, though, dressed more boldly, with bell-bottomed hip huggers clinging to the curves of her perfectly toned dancer’s body, cropped top tied under her bosom.
We were on the playground at recess (I was on the monkey bars) when our teachers came out and called us in to class. Our beloved President had been shot, everyone was crying,  no one knew what had happened, how he was doing. I remember going home and crying with Mom. The next few days, as his death became a fact and a new president was sworn in, were hazy, as we moved through the motions of living. All of America was in mourning. The end of Camelot, the end of JFK’s dream for a better America.
Several months later, sitting at the kitchen table, I looked at the Beatles album in the ad that Mom showed to me. She bought the album and would play it and dance as she did housework, singing as she loved to do. It was good to see her happy again. I liked these guys, The Beatles.
Posted in Reminiscence | 4 Comments

civil rights, carnaby street, vietnam, hippies, Beatles

I took my granddaughters (10 and 7) to see Hairspray today. Great family movie, lots of fun, gags that had everyone in the theater rolling, Christopher Walken is memorable ("my heart only beats for a size 60") – just a great, fun movie. So much my kind of movie: nothing explodes, no car crashes, no violence – instead of gore and explosions and spectacle, the movie relies on a well-told story, characters who are engaging and some great choreography and music throughout.
It’s been some years since I saw the original and I’d forgotten about the racial integration issues in the movie. My, but Queen Latifah does a wonderful job with her role! I’ve loved her since the beginning of her career when I saw her on a talk show and she spoke with such intelligence and humility when interviewed. When she’s marching, the song she belts out is done with such beauty and such dignity, it becomes much more than a song, but an anthem for the time, and the people of the time.
Growing up in the 60s/early 70s, these were my times. Blacks and whites marching to change the laws that prevented blacks from voting. (They had the right, but literacy and Jim Crow laws effectively denied them access until the Voting Rights Act of 1965.) After the movie, I tried to explain to my grands a bit of what it was like then, of people segregated and discriminated against because their skin had more pigment than others. My youngest asked me "Could you vote then?" I laughed, and she said "well, I just thought since your skin is dark …" I told them about the Selma march, about church bombings, about Rosa Parks.
For most of Hairspray, the white girls wear dresses with full skirts, their hair in flips or hives, ratted and sprayed, of course. At the end, Tracy Turnblad appears in a mod look with straight hair and a geometric print dress. These were times when the world was changing in many different directions: hippies preaching peace and flower power … vietnam and peace protests … civil rights marches and the drive for integration …. Camelot and the Kennedys … the British invasion of the Beatles, the Stones, Herman’s Hermits … Twiggy, mods, Carnaby Street fashion .. mini skirts, the bikini and the shift (which I first saw on Jackie) … Laugh-in and the Smothers Brothers … a time when most every TV show was a family show. Growing up then, we didn’t know that these were such pivotal times. We were just kids playing outside until the lights came on, watching Ed Sullivan or the evening news with Walter Cronkite and film of the war or schools being integrated.
The times they were a’changin’ …
Posted in Reminiscence | 1 Comment

True Leadership

My oldest granddaughter, J, just came back from a week at Occidental College as part of the National Young Scholars Program, an in-depth learning program for high-achieving 4th- and 5th-grade students. She’s a smart kid, that one; straight A’s, a natural leader, confident, capable, well-liked by teachers, friends and family. From the time she was in pre-school (actually, even before that, with her daycare), she’s always been a teacher’s favorite, working hard, taking extra credit assignments, helping her teachers just to be helpful. She loves to write, draw, sing, dance; she always has a creative project or three that she’s working on. We were so happy that she was nominated for NYSP and that we were able to send her, to help her continue to develop her leadership skills and learning.
She had a wonderful time and had very full days from the time she got up at 6:00am until she went to bed at 9:30pm. Each scholar was enrolled in a Leadership strand and a Discovery strand of their choosing. In her Leadership strand, the scholars worked on various skills such as communication, negotiation, consensus building, cooperation. For her Discovery strand,  she chose "Broadway Bound", a program in which the scholars write and stage a play within the 6 days of the program: script, set design, stage management, choreography, songwriting, costume – the whole shebang.  Her parents, younger sister and I went to see the play on the last day of the program and it was fabulous! It was wonderful to see the kids all working cooperatively together to change the sets between scenes, the creativity they showed in the scripts for each act, the way their sets supported each act. Just wonderful! I am so very, very proud of her!
Talking with J later that night, I asked more about the process and about the other kids, how everyone worked together with other scholars they’d never met prior to this experience. As we talked, she shared with me about one girl who seemed to feel that leadership was about taking over, about dominating the other kids. She wasn’t interested in others’ ideas; she didn’t listen to others’ input or gather their feedback as a true leader will do. "Does anyone else have 5 years’ of dance? Well, I do, so we’ll do it my way."
J said that one of the things that she learned from this was that she needs to be more assertive in expressing her ideas and thoughts. A good learning for her, as she tends to not be one to "rock the boat" but will often work to be sure that everyone is happy with the outcome, even if it means that her better idea isn’t used. To me, that is being more a leader than in simply taking over. A leader should gather others’ thoughts and ideas, help the team determine the goal of their work, facilitate everyone’s work toward achieving the vision. Simply bossing others around isn’t being a leader; it’s being a dictator and dictatorships don’t make for happy, cooperative teams in business or in life. I told J that being more assertive is something she can work on, but that she shouldn’t be like the bossy girl in her group. Being a better communicator and being stronger in expressing herself are skills J will continue to develop to help her continue to grow as a leader. Good lessons learned in her week away at college.
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pow! boom! kerplow!

Pop … BOOM!       BAM! BAM!         POW!      pap – pap – pap – shreeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!     BAM! BOOM!   pop! pop! pop!       BOOM!  BAM!
I sit and drink my tea, watching a little TV. Car alarms are going off. Police sirens are wailing. Fireworks are illegal here in Huntington Beach ($500 minimum fine), but that doesn’t stop criminals from setting them off anyway.
I’ve never liked fireworks. Seems like a whole lotta noise for nothing. Explosive, violent, dangerous – I’ve never seen the appeal in blowing things up, especially blowing things up very loudly. Used to like sparklers when I was a kid, but they sure didn’t last long. A bit of sparkle for not a long time, and all you really did was wave ’em around in a circle or try to do patterns and then they’d fizzle out. Whoopee.
I remember the first time we had a Whistling Pete as a kid. Dad lit it and ran back, with all us kids back at a safe distance. Pop! and then a long shreeeeeeeeeeeeeeee! fitz! … and it was over. Wow, that was fun.
I just don’t see the appeal in loud, destructive activities. I’m more of a builder-type than a destructive type. Given a movie choice of seeing Live Free, Die Harder or Nancy Drew, I’d choose Nancy Drew. Saw it last week, in fact. Good, enjoyable, lighthearted film, nothing destroyed, good values, people doing positive, wholesome things, helping others. No explosions or car crashes or blood or people doing horrifying things to others; nothing loud, violent, destructive.
It’s nearly midnight and the explosions are dying down outside now. I’ll go to bed, say my prayers and sleep in peace, a peace that’s earned by those who serve and have served.
Happy Independence Day and blessings to all those in the armed forces who have to endure violence and loud explosions as part of their job. May God keep them safe from harm and return them to their loved ones safely.
Pray for peace. Practice peace. Be peace in the world. Be peace. Be.
Posted in Random | 3 Comments