the ups and downs of work...

DH and I had the opportunity to attend a retirement party for a long time friend of ours.I loved being able to help say, Good Luck but also to see many people that I grew up with.

Never have or had any desire to attend a high school reunion, this is not the case with those I worked with almost 40 years ago - those who I grew up with. I started at 17, the rest of the crew, no older than 25. I apologized to more than one that night about having to put up with my horrendous behavior. I saw bosses I haven't seen in 30 some years and it was just as if no time had passed. There was a lot of Love going around the room that night and I am so glad my invitation came in the mail.

Today, we waited to find out if my SIL would still be employed tomorrow. By noon, we knew he was ok - some of his managers were not so lucky. Later in the afternoon, DD would find out that her friend's husband lost his job today. How ironic. A sign of the times? Perhaps. Not sure that her generation will ever have the opportunity to know someone they have worked with for 40 years, no less party with them.

These are unprecedented times but I got to tell you if you have a chance to see a grown man in a graduation cap/gown and a Speedo ( It's a long Story, jump in. It will be quite a Ride...

the first 8 days...

Within the first few hours, we knew our new president could get down. Watching him groove with Michelle to Etta James. At Last, warmed the cockles of my heart. At the same time, the First Girl's were running around the White House, getting use to their new digs and behind one door, found the Jonas Brothers waiting for them. That was the Honeymoon night, and then it was down to business.

President Obama has spent the bulk of his first 8 days, charming the GOP about his Stimulus package. MSNBC saying he is proving to not be not like his predecessor - looks like he will be spending alot of time on Capital Hill. The thing is he doesn't need the other party to pass his bill, he already has enough votes, so why all the charm? A new way of doing business? A more touchy-feely world?

However, the biggest change in each of our lives that the new Prez has dabbled in affect each of us and has for the last year. The DTV conversion is being moved from February 17 to June 12. That means, for those of you playing along at home, four more months of those annoying commercials. Our president is worried about those 6 million people who ignored the well advertised threat and that now, the DTV fund is out of money. Not sure what he plans to actively do in the next four months but I feel a giant Yard Sale coming on.

In the meantime, we are living in a world that comes with daily layoffs, heartbreaking Stories and unbelievable events. I am still on track with my Letting Go 101. There was an article in the local paper about things to do in troubled times. One of them was turn on some of your favorite music and just be. Our president has set a pretty high bar for grooving but I think I am up for the challenge...

Update - The vote on DTV was mot passed. Sounds like they haven't given up and depending on PO's response, may try again. Will see February 18!

it doesn't matter...

Andy from Pete Wilson on Vimeo.

what job you have
or don't have.
it doesn't matter,
what school you go to
or how many degrees you acquire.
it doesn't matter,
what you drive,
what you own
or how much you give away.
it doesn't matter,
what you know,
read or teach.
it doesn't matter,
what you eat,
wear or what church you go to.

it doesn't matter,
it doesn't matter,
it doesn't matter.

what does matter is that
you believe
in the unbelievable,

If you have ever seen the unbelievable become real, you know what I mean. While I might take the prize as Miss Dubious, I have no doubts about what is possible. Maybe not probable but always, always, always possible. I have to remind myself every day that it doesn't matter and it is worth every bit of effort...

the male gender...

Ask any man what a woman wants from them and you can see their mental hard drives going into meltdown mode. Most are unsure because they basically, can't keep up with us and our changing ways. To be fair, most don't put alot of work into trying to figure us out but even if they did, once they had a grip on Girl Reality - we would be on to something else.

Then there is that always, crazy fear that we are going to ask them, ONCE AGAIN - what they are thinking. It has taken me years and a few wise words from Jerry Seinfeld to realize, they are thinking NOTHING. The same thing they will be thinking next time we ask. Like it or not, that is the way they are.

Being raised by men should have giving me a heads up but what I observed is that sometimes men bring it upon themselves. I can remember thinking, OK - that was dumb . We were spending the afternoon with friends in their front yard when this unknown high school girl walked by with a suitcase and a long face. My friend and I were on the front porch and the men were working in the yard ( who are the smart ones in this picture?). She stopped right in front of them and with her puppy dog eyes, started to tell them a sob story about her grandmother being sick and needing a ride to the bus station to get to her. They were both totally ready to grab their keys and help her out. We girls could smell the stinky story clear from he porch. We told the men they would be doing no such thing and told Miss Sad Story to move on. We later learned she was a runaway. Had we not been around, it could have had a very unhappy ending for our men.

There is not right or wrong with both genders, there is just a wide gap on how we think/process/operate. Having only been around grown men, these little men in my life are a wild and wonderful joy. While mommy and Miss M were at their playgroup on Friday, I picked up Gage and we waited at school to have lunch with Keaton. It just doesn't get any better than this I tell you. I learn something new each time. They make me laugh uncontrollably. There are many bodily noises and references, pretty much the same as the Big Boys but it is much cuter. The hugs and kisses I get from them are as much as what their sister doles out which is considerable. I am truly amazed every time I am with them. I am seeing the beginning of the men they will become. Polite, crazy, loving, wild - because of their great parents, they are growing up to be men of faith and respect. I can't wait to see them grow to young men, knowing that they will need a little female help, Down The Road, but for now, I am basking in every minute of this Boy 101 class I get to be a part of. I am a lucky girl...

remember who your father is...

Good advice from only those who know. Maybe we should be a little more careful about telling someone, I know what you are going through.. Sometimes we say it because we don't know what to say and we can't stand the silence. While trying to save your credibility, you don't realize you are going down in flames. We should use those 7 words only when they are honest and true. When our experience mirrors theirs. When we truly have walked in their shoes.

Heard a Story today about a breast cancer survivor who saw a scarfed woman with three little kids at the store. She hesitated about saying anything to the woman but eventually went up to her and said, I like your hair. The scarfed woman looked shocked and then the nicely coiffed woman went on to tell her, I was in your shoes a year ago. The meeting had a happy ending.

Remember who your father is and don't be afraid to share, you never know where you next hug may be coming from...

a brand new day...

what a week!

What a week it has been. It the midst of economic chaos and so much uncertainty in every other parts of our lives, if you took the opportunity, there was some good stuff out there. It has been good to see the country rally in spite of vast differences. I was disappointed at the booing as President Bush walked onto the inaugural platform and the chants of, Hey, Hey, Goodbye
. They did put a damper on an otherwise wonderful, community Moment. What exactly was the point of doing that? Sometimes graciousness is in short supply in each of our lives - we should all work on that.

I watch Morning Joe on those days when my mind is up and running at 4AM. They always end the three hour show with their What Did You Learn Today segment. I often end my day with the Zalaine version. Sometimes it is a happy thing, sometimes, ok often - I wish I had of done something better, smarter or not at all. Yesterday was one of those happy days. Three layouts come rolling out in a 1/2 hour and I ended the day creatively exhausted which is a good thing.

This week has been my January Letting go exercise. Four years ago, I would have told you that we as a country would be going straight to hell if George W Bush was not re-elected. This year whoever became President was not uppermost in my mind as was who is really in charge. Neither candidate was my ultimate choice and however it turned out, I still had and do have reservations. The difference between now and then is that I have shifted my focus. I will wholeheartedly support our president by praying for him and his family and continue to be optimistic about what we can do that is right and just. The bottom line is that in the Big Picture, it doesn't matter who is sitting at the desk in the Oval Office. That is not where it's at. A big personal leap for me, and that alone makes this quite a week...

Day 2...

Into the wee hours I watched as our new president and his wife danced ...actually they grooved to various versions of Etta James, At Last. Symbolic on so many levels, it is a song that played freely in my childhood home and each time the young couple took to the dance floor last night, it made me smile.

The email from my good friend yesterday was titled, What a Day. Could not have said it better. You could help but feel the pride of a nation who for even a few hours, were on the same page. Washington DC reports no incidents, none, during the inauguration time. Over 2 million people and no incidents - time to celebrate We The People, indeed.

Day 2. The President and Mrs Obama, VP Biden and his wife and the Clinton's sit in attendance this morning at the National Prayer Service. From, He's Got The Whole World In His Hands by the Gospel Children's Choir, singing with all their being, to a community version of Great Is Thy Faithfulness and ending with to Whitley Phipps' stirring rendition of Amazing Grace -

The president is off to a good start. So am I. I am not so naive to believe that these warm-fuzzies are going to last for more than a week but there is that ray of hope that maybe we will want to be better people and there is no downside there. I have no doubts we will clash on many decisions and implemented policies but I also have no doubts that would happen with any incoming leader.

What a Day! And for all those days to come. Some are going to be extremely tough, more so than we imagine even today. Some are going to be joyous. Our job is relatively easy.

Love the Lord you God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength.
Mark 12:30.

If we will do that, if we will spend our days with God as our focus, we will have less time to worry about the things that we perceive to be more deserving of our time and thoughts that really aren't. Don't assume that you know the intent of anyone's heart. Spend your days, time and energy elsewhere. As for me, sounds like I got some changing to do...

important vs essential...

Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name.
Your Kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as in heaven
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins,
as we forgive those who sin against us.
Lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom,
the power and the glory are yours.
Now and for ever. Amen

living in a different world and I am a different girl...

A lot of well deserved silliness at McDee's yesterday. A perfect way to start an historic week. Gage is in his rock star phase. From his haircut which he told the girl cutting his hair last week, he was growing it to look like a rock star to every other aspect of his life, the theme is always the same. He is playing it close to the hip and is very serious about his choice.

Keaton has changed his major in the last few week from anthropologist to comedian. From my perspective, it is a wise choice. Anthropologists are highly overrated and a good comic is heaven-sent. Miss M is sticking with being a ballerina. I imagine her she add nurse, horse woman and mommy, as most little girls do at some point in the little girl careers.

I love at these three and realize that this week belongs to them. They will never know a world without YouTube iPods. text messaging. bff, Wii, DVR, or a black president. To this generation, not only will they have access to the Beatles, MC Hammer and Beyonce but to the future and those who publish their own music and authors, their own books.

Before we start standing under red or blue banners or signing up for our personal causes, we need to see that first, we are all God's children. We may not agree that this isn't the end of the world but that is coming soon enough, no matter who is sitting in the Oval Office.

We sometimes lose focus on who we are and what we are doing here. It is the human way to go off on tangents - we have been doing it forever but the real reason we are here is a real short list and I gotta tell you, I know some that do it better with very little that those to whom, much has been given.

These little people have taught me so much and I can't wait to see what comes next. I look forward to tomorrow. I can't wait to hear what they think and what it looks like to them. Their thoughts and opinions carry alot of weight with me. I find these guys to be wise beyond most grown up people years. Their life filters have not been plugged up with the goop of life. It is all straightforward with them... as it should be from all of us.

whistle stop...

Yesterday Barack Obama traveled from Pennsylvania to the nation's capital for the first leg of this historical inauguration. One could argue and rightfully so, that all inaugurations are historical but this is one is different for very obvious reasons. Abraham Lincoln made this same journey in 1851 and it took 12 days to yesterday's one day ride. There were many stops along the way where PEBO and Joe Biden, waved to the crowd as the train slowed into various stops and waved at the crowds that came out in the frigid weather to greet them. I can only imagine the thoughts that were running thru their minds...but also think that they marveled at what they were experiencing and hopefully, were in the Moment. Our soon-to-be president seems to be calm and quite the cool guy - time will tell.

Springsteen is already there with the choirs - what a sight to behold. Good music is coming our way on Tuesday. The beginning of a new era - it is more than a black man becoming president. No matter how brilliant his election team had been said to be, it is bigger than that. It is about young and old, black and white, and red and blue states coming together and saying, Change is

Our times are challenging to say the least. The week's news has been full of those who can no longer afford to be in business. Simple Scrapbook Magazine and Circuit City were this week's casualties, wonder who it will be next week?

I just got a call from our exchange student Harma - she was watching the inauguration festivities and decided to call. The American in her will never go away so she still shares these milestones with us. Seems there is interest everywhere.

Plan on having my own little Party on Tuesday - I want to see it live - would never want to be there. Two words - toilet paper. Can not imagine being in that crowd but am loving being able to live vicariously thru the modern age of television. We are all a part of what is coming. These Moments are just the beginning for this generation who will define themselves by the Inauguration of 2009. For the rest of is, it Something we never expect to see...

When you are a nail...

...everything else looks like a nail... Truer words were never spoken and while I so resemble that remark, I do see the potential flaws in an otherwise, brilliant statement.

Call it passion, or aggression or what I think is often the case, survival. Our first instinct is one of protection. The second is dubious in nature. If we make it through the first and second instincts and still haven't swung, you/it may still have a chance to get away unharmed. Quick to anger, our nature is one of immediacy - no time to overthink. The nature of the hammer is to strike quickly with the greatest of accuracy not being the main goal.

This hammer thing will last a lifetime. The key is to be in charge of it and not let the hammer rule. Use it when needed, don't overuse it. Embrace your inner Lion but tame the Beast when necessary. Now... if I only had a sleeve like Justin's.

days with those we love...

While Phillip Toledano and I share completely different lives, we do share a common path of walking our days with those those we love. He is walking with his father, one who is near completing his days - I walk with three, who are just starting. I love his photography, even the colors are subdued and respectful, giving one a sense of the preciousness of their time together. I knew that mine would have to be bright and vibrant. There could be no lack of color, no red not bumped up - to tell their Stories.(

I love this type of photojournalism where the words tightly fit the image. Although I am no Phillip Toledano, I want to save these Stories for these wonderful little people so Someday, they may help with their personal Puzzles. Fill in a memory or give them a sense of who they have always been. Either way, I am starting a book for them and will add to it when it makes sense. It will have to be meaningful and honest. For those who we are given, days to walk with not only have the responsibility to love and protect but also to give them a sense of their history. There is nothing so desperate as watching someone search for a family that bears their blood and that they have never known. We all want to know where we have come from, good or bad. It is a need born within us, and one that will nourish us at the very core of who we are.

I marvel at our capacity to tell Stories. Stories refresh us, even when they aren't ours. It makes one look a bit deeper, past the duties of the day to the ups and downs of this life we have been giving. I love when it the PT's of life come into mine. Thankful doesn't begin to cover it...

6 word memoirs...

Project 365 is all the digi rage right now. Not only are these guys taking pictures everyday, they are scrapping them. There are threads,forum,blogs, kits and support, 24/7 to make this mass community project possible.

Having done this a few years ago and being less than successful - by day 7 I was jumping out of bed at 10PM taken pictures of coffee cups so I would HAVE an entry for that day. While I didn't walk away at the end of the project with a better eye for taking photos or learning to live in the Moment, I did learn that everything is not for everybody. I truly do wish those who are involved now, well. Doing something like this is a big commitment and has potential to make one feel less than positive, Down The Road.

I work better in a different mold. I stumbled on the 6 word memoir last year and seriously started dabbling in it last Friday night. It was after 11PM and they just started coming. 39, in less than an hour. Then Sunday during church, another 30.

I could not STOP...
They just kept coming and coming.
Not exactly the ideal 365 project when in less than 3 hours, you are already into March.

Diaper to diaper, pretty panties inbetween.
I'm a noun, to his adjective.
Kicked out of the garden, uh oh.
Every church board should disagree often.
Always floss, teeth don't floss themselves.

Where does this stuff come from? Where was it stored before I got out a pen and paper? How much more is in there?

I discovered that my Project 365 is about living everyday. It is about showing up 365days a year. No matter what is going on, show up. Everything else - photos, words and what else will come in sporadic and excess times, not in a even, steady flow. On the boards last week, there were already pictures of Coke cans and countertops - the cracks are already showing. For those who will share the experience I had, I want to wrap my arms around them and tell them. It is ok, you still win. Learning that P365 isn't working for you, is still valuable learning information. Don't worry, it will be alright.

If you doing the 365 thing, bless you and really, really give it your all. Whether you love it or hate it, you will never forget it.

See, I really can't help myself...

12 of us, 14 dinners later...

It was January 1996 - church in our family room and a spaghetti dinner. Yesterday, we had our 14th spaghetti dinner to celebrate basically what God can do with people who know nothing...and know it.

We have added spouses and grandchildren to the families. There have been numerous changes in each of the families lives but come the beginning of January, we all know where we will be spending an afternoon. It is easy - we all know each other's Stories and just spend the time together catching up.

Yesterday's dinner conversation was aimed at our changing world. Like the demise of newspapers and CD. With the help of the younger generations, and listening to the way they do business - it is way different than us oldsters. As I quizzed them them or this and that, it became clearly apparent that everything - the way we advertise, buy and in turn, think - is changing. Most of it I love and have long supported. Most people my age, don't or won't admit it but it is time....time to TURN IT UP, GAME ON (thank you HSM).

In between brilliant and witty conversations, we played with the baby and the dog. Give the men a TV that won't work because the teens had been playing Wii and you have yourself an afternoon of delightful fun. We don't see each other like this the rest of the year so as we all are living in this Moment, we are remembering how we got here. No cheat sheet, having to think on our feet and sometimes, just pushing ahead. You just never know what road you may be headed down - I don't think any of us saw this one coming and we wouldn't have missed it for the world...

audrey caroline...

Sweet Audrey-Girl from angie smith on Vimeo.

While I still believe that we learn/change/take to heart life lessons in the midst of personal struggle, there is this part of us that embrace those who share their grief with us and leave us, never quite the same. As Todd and Angie continue to share their journey with audrey caroline with us, I look back at their Story, now on video and relive what I have already know. Sometimes the visual of a Story is so powerful, it feels like it is happening to us and in turn, maybe we make some lasting changes in our own lives.

I hesitated posting it but The Smith's made it public for a reason. It may encourage you or someone else and then... it will be worth it all. Why do we share? Because deep down, everything that crosses our mind's desk affect us...sometimes, forever.

president x 5...

Just the image gives me goosebumps.
Collectively, what they have seen
what they have experienced,
what they know.
My theory has always been,
that Compromise
at any price,
is the cost to hold the office.
Some have yield more after
holding the office,
than during.
Some have worked together,
some were not invited to the Party.
I don't imagine that there are many
president reunions
where they eat at a picnic table,
in matching shirts
and shoot the breeze.
This lunch yesterday, must have been Something.
Wish I could have been a fly on the wall.
I imagine that politeness filled the room,
as they all walked around the Big Elephant.
However they got here and whatever it cost them,
they are now a part of history,
and from my point of view
to see these five standing side by side,
is something I never imagined in my lifetime...

the state of the economy...

The news is everywhere and it is not good.
More jobs to be lost.
People are hurting
and lashing back,

In the last 24 hours I have had 2 experiences with people who seem to live in different worlds. Both retailers that I have done business with. One who is desperate. He is in foreclosure on his own home and while my contract with him is good until the end of March, he was semi-threatening me with a lien on my house now. He didn't want to but his partner was pushing him that direction. They are afraid that we will go into foreclosure like they and some of their customers have. I could hear it in his voice and so I didn't take it personally. He will be completely paid off by the beginning of February, some 5 weeks early. I hope I have brought his fear level down. This would not have been the way I would have reacted 2 days ago. I would not have been so nice but that was before I met Gary.

Keaton was over one night and we were doing an Amazon search for all things, Song of the South. Apparently it is now politically incorrect so it will stay in the vault and it is slim pickens to find video of any kind, During our search, we found a Disney Sing A Long and ordered it. $12.98 with shipping seemed a small price to pay for a little, Zip A Dee Doo Da action so we pulled the trigger and waited. Keaton called after school Monday and it arrived but it was the wrong one. The receipt from Amazon gave the third party seller's email so I shot off an email of the mistake and instructions of how to get the right one. Gary sent me the nicest email, offering to send me a replacement or he would refund my money when he received the video back. I emailed him back, explaning the SOTS love of a nine year old boy. I went on to tell him that we had snow and that I would send back the video by the end of the week since I had it delivered to Keaton's address. Later that afternoon, I got email from Amazon with my refund. Then another email from Gary,

Just have your grandson keep the tape and enjoy it for all of your trouble.I
will refund your money through amazon.
Once again I am truly sorry for the mistake.

Thank you for shopping with me,

P.S. Wish we could figure out how to ship some of your snow my way. Ha!
We haven't had any snow since the blizzard of "93"

So the call this morning from a desperate man with desperate circumstances who was threatening me, fell on deaf ears. We ended the conversation on a high note. It is the state of the economy for him, and the state of the heart for me...

the value of a friend...

those who are not related by blood
those who have come and gone,
and those who stay, no matter what.

different seasons,
different faces,
different obstacles,
different joys.

a better celebration of women,
I have not seen.
I will not send out a mass email,
to thank those who have been put
in my path, but will quietly,
be thankful for each one.

those who have crossed my path,
are never forgotten,
and if I am quite honest,
never lose their place in my heart.

the joy of christmas...

In terms of joy displayed Christmas morning, it seems that the duck decoy, the Wii and the new baby doll were huge hits. The looks on their faces says it all. That is the joy of Christmas... or maybe not.

The back Story is before all these wonderful presents were open, Keaton has suggested days ago that we pray before we open gifts. I have a fabulous video of him doing just that. He didn't forget in the excitement of the morning just like he didn't forget on Christmas Eve to read the Christmas Story out of Luke and Matthew. After tracking Santa's whereabouts on NORAD all night, and as Sled Fest was leaving Mexico - Keaton read with great accuracy, the Story of Christmas. Gage lost interest before the Luke version was done and wandered off but the rest of us, listened like it was the first time we had ever heard it.

On Black Friday, Keaton had found Something for me when he was with his other grandmother and it was a Big Secret. I couldn't get anywhere near Grandma Sue's trunk that day. It twas the only present under their tree until Christmas morning. After the kids opened everything, Keaton said, Nana, time to open your present!. As I started to open the box, I couldn't imagine what this kid had found that he knew I would so love. I also didn't know that he had done chores for his other grandma to pay for my gift. As I pulled out the first piece, I noticed the writing on the box. From my favorite Christmas movie, A Christmas Story - it was a miniature leg lamp. The Leg Lamp! I was beside myself, broke out in tears and scared everyone. I was as giddy as a little kid and the tears wouldn't stop. Finally got control of myself and later on when I heard the rest of Keaton's Story, promptly, lost it again. It was an epitome for me on so many levels, many of which shaped some new choices for 2009. I was humbled beyond belief and thrilled to my core. My lamp is here to stay - it will be a daily reminder of letting go. What a Christmas!...

let go...

What is without periods of rest, will not endure...Ovid, Roman poet.

Truer words were never spoken. I would go on to add and Sometimes, harder to do than imagined. It seems like a lifetime ago yet it has only been a few weeks. Have gone thru four holidays, one funeral and very little else from my view from the Pear Tree. There were only 20 people at the funeral and I was one of the youngest but I did get to see two old co-workers and go the download on a bunch more. We were there to honor a grand old dame but it was like walking back in time. Not a cell phone or IPod in sight. They talked of a world before I was born, I wanted to drag them into this world but they were comfortable with the one they are barely hanging on to. To each, their own.

I have spend lots of alone time and even more time, just thinking. Trying to come with a 2009 theme for myself. 2009 has come with its own declarations and quite frankly, no matter what direction you look - most of them are bleak. It's has been a Long Process but at its end, it comes back to learning to let go. Letting go of things that are sucking the life out of me. I have already made some changes and there are more to come. It is not about Living in Denial. After Adam and Eve had to leave the Garden, it wasn't long before the uglyness of Cain and Abel came along and the uglyness of humankind was here to stay.

Whatever 2009 brings, I feel better about my chances of living a more balanced life than I did several weeks ago. It is cold and winter has just started. There is a built-in, quiet desperation that comes with January. We lose our footings after the rush of Christmas and have nowhere to route all that energy but it also a time to take some time to just be. I have come to love that about January.

As I went thru my daily read of blogs and was trying to sort out which ones would not make the cut, it was not without some uncomfortableness. One in particular, makes me laugh but deep down, I knew it had to go. It took almost a full minute to hit the Delete button but it was a Start. A Start to Let Go. I figure it will take most of January to sort everything out and I hope I have the courage to continue to hit the Delete button, no matter how bad it feels now. It took a lot of effort to take this period of rest, took a few days to even see the Need fro it but coming out on the other side, I could not have done a better thing. Happy New Year - we're back and ready to go...