THEY say that if you pay attention, your children will teach you as much or more than you can possibly teach them. I was reminded of this last night while watching various acceptance speeches during the Oscar’s…One gentleman, fighting back tears, thanked his wife and infant daughter…”who will surely teach me more than I could ever possibility teach her.”

My children are grown. They are living independent lives of their own creation. Naturally as a parent, I had ideas of just exactly what their lives should look like. While I am anything but disappointed, their lives have turned out differently than I imagined. I realize more and more  that one of the most sacred lessons my children have taught me is to let go: let go of expectations, plans…shoulds, coulds and so many many “have too’s”.  My children have taught me that perfectionism isn’t a measure of happiness or success. They have taught me to care as much about my own needs as the needs of others. They have taught me that the stress and anxiety manifested through out my internal being isn’t a desirable trait or a cherished outcome by those I care about most. They have taught me that perfect for them doesn’t have me a wild wreck trying to get every last detail in order. They have convinced me that my stress, no matter what wonderful thing is the  justification, is never a gift for them. They would rather have a relaxed me, than a perfect scenario.

LETTING GO OF OUR ADULT CHILDREN

BY ARLENE HARDER, MA, MFT

A Perfectionist Mother Trying to Do Things Right:

“When I began motherhood, I was fairly liberal politically but fairly rigid in how I viewed my role as parent. This was partly the result of my temperament and partly the consequence of a childhood in which there were many “shoulds,” “oughts,” “rights,” and “wrongs.” Although I didn’t insist on spotless floors and neatly made beds, being a perfectionist permeated many facets of my parenting.

As a child I never questioned whether I was being asked to be perfect; my siblings were also perfectionists in one way or another. Our parents’ high standards left little room to question the reasons for their rules and values – an attitude typical for that generation. When a child was told to jump, she was expected to say, “How high?” and not, “Why?”

As a recovering perfectionist I can see why perfectionism is a common feature of the human character. After all, perfectionists give the best they have to offer. You can generally count on them to do what they say they’ll do, even if it means giving up their own needs to be sure you’re satisfied. On the other hand, I now realize that the standards of perfectionists are usually those others consider “right,” not necessarily those the perfectionist herself would choose – if she could freely follow the dictates of her own heart.”

While raising our most cherished sons and daughters, we teach them to follow their hearts. One of life’s greatest lessons we as their parents/role models/advocates need to learn, is to follow our own…

Rain Again???

February 21, 2011

“For after all, the best thing one can do when it’s raining is to let it rain.”
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

WHAT WOMEN WANT

…oh god!  Wasn’t that the title of Mel Gibson’s movie? Okay, forget Mel…his ex-wife and battered girlfriend are trying to.

What women want. True women. Not girls. We used to be girls and back then our wants were different. Take Mel for example. How many of us wanted Mel? Sat in the theater and listened to that accent accompanied by that rugged charm and imagined ourselves doing the nasty with Mr. Gibson? We were girls. Bad boys had a certain appeal; guys who made us wonder if they would stay the entire night, call again or spend time in prison.

Girls want excitement, thrill, game and uncertainty. Girls wait for the brief attention of a BAD BOY, while letting the GOOD BOY hopelessly dangle. In our household we call this phenomenon EXCITED MISERY.

I admit I had my share. My choices though were more specific. I mooned over the BAD (stupid) BOYS. Bad Stupid Boys are a separate sub-category. These guys are bad; and selfish, often addicted to something. They don’t call cause they can’t remember your name let alone your number and they are definitely serving time.

Now, we women, those of us who have grown up and moved on, want something different. Can we say HELL NO to Mr. Gibson and any of his bad boy brothers? Yes We Can!

I have been blogging for two years. My husband recently submitted his first and only comment on one of my last blogs. The blog itself was decent, but it was his comment that drew the most attention.  He is a man of few words…and even fewer words of bubbling, enthusiastic adoration. This has been a slight issue for us…forever. I am a gusher. He is a quiet, deep in the ground, private rumbler.

So when he publicly gushed, I was shocked. The comments from all of you shocked me as well. Then I realized that this is what women want.  We long for the occasional explosion of public adoration; seeing or hearing words of praise, appreciation and love declared with total abandon for all the world to see. We don’t want stuff. We don’t want Excited Misery. We want to know we matter to those who matter most to us.

Tomorrow is Valentines Day…a day laden with STUFF. My suggestion? Let those who matter most to you know that what you need, what you want is a genuine expression of  how you matter to them.  Feel Free To Have Them POST IT RIGHT HERE, FOR ALL THE WORLD TO SEE.

I got my best Valentine a couple of days early: 

February 11, 2011 at 8:49 pm e

my partner and brilliant wife…
every time I read one of your posts I am so impressed. I crawl into bed with you every night knowing that I am one lucky man. I hope I will never take that for granted. But, your insight into the world of “feelings” always leaves me speechless…sorry about that. You deserve to know that you make a difference in the world, none more than mine. I am grateful that I get to go thru life with you, side by side.

Side By Side

February 11, 2011

We have all spent hours now watching Egypt and it’s politically frustrated and determined population demand change. It is obvious that the ruling government for the past 30 years has suppressed its’ people. Freedoms are withheld, fear is a ruling strategy and democracy, as foreign a concept as women in positions of power. Hey, wait a minute. If it’s time for a change, might the Egyptian people consider giving women the same rights as men as part of their new strategy?

There are hundreds of thousands of people screaming, crying and begging for change. Right out in front, with their head scarves, tears and demands are the women of Egypt. They are standing alongside men, they are risking their lives for political freedom, they are using their voices for change.

Women in the Egyptian Protests

From PRI’s The World11 February, 2011 07:31:00

Women have a long history of activism in Egypt, and the current protests against Hosni Mubarak in Tahrir Square are no different.

This story was originally covered by PRI’s The World. For more, listen to the audio above.

By Ursula Lindsey

Ruheya is a 21-year-old university student. She’s come to Tahrir Square from the northern town of Sharqeya — a hundred miles away. Thursday she’s one of the volunteers monitoring the entrance to the Square, checking identification and searching bags to make sure no one brings in weapons.

“How many billions does he have, and we the people live in huts and don’t know how to feed ourselves?” Ruheya said. “There needs to be some balance. Not people at the very top and at the very bottom. I want to see democracy in my country, and I have to sacrifice for it. I have to be ready to die, to be arrested. I can’t sit at home and say: I want freedom.”

“There are Christian girls here, there are girls with their hair uncovered,” Ruheya said. “We’re all volunteers. We’re all Egyptians, whether we’re Christians or Muslims, whether we’re religious or not, we’re all good people. We’re all sacrificing for our country.”

“Women were at the forefront of the 1919 revolution in Egypt right before Egypt got its independence, in the struggle against the British; women were prominent at the time of the French occupation as well,” Ruheya said. “So Egyptian women have been involved in protests for many, many years this isn’t something new.”

But the authoritarian governments that have governed Egypt for the last 60 years have curtailed the autonomy of women’s organizations. Just as they have tightly controlled all freedoms of assembly and expression.

Women, like most Egyptians, have been frightened away from politics. Activists here say the government-backed thugs who attack protesters have singled out women, tearing their clothes and sexually molesting them.

Women make up more than half of Egypt’s university students. They are visible in the media and on the street; many work. But women rarely get the top posts in government or business. A woman’s highest ambition is still expected to be to establish a family.

And as conservative, religious movements have gained popularity, women have been pressured to stay at home and to act “modestly.” Many Egyptian women complain of constant harassment on the street.

She said the protests have re-affirmed a spirit of freedom and solidarity that has given women new breathing room.

“During the demonstrations, I didn’t face any kind of harassment or even someone looking at me in a strange way. I stayed till very late in the street, till 3 a.m., 4 a.m., and it was totally relaxing — not only safe,” Saber said. “And the interesting thing is that all people are focusing on just one goal and all things like religion and gender and ethnicity just disappeared.”

Women have long been told, by the government and even by opposition groups here, that their rights are a priority — but that economic reforms, or security concerns, or cultural considerations must come first.

But as they’ve so fully participated in the first mass protest movement in Egypt in a generation — women here have found that they don’t need to wait for anyone’s permission to be full citizens.

If women ruled the world, how everything would change?

According to former White House press secretary Dee Dee Myers:

“Women should rule the world.”

That was it, the answer to my frustration and growing political alienation. It seemed so simple, so obvious. Women!

If we were in charge, things might actually change. Instead of posturing, we’d have cooperation. Instead of gridlock, we’d have progress. Instead of a shouting match, we’d have a conversation. A very long conversation. But a conversation nonetheless. Everyone would just hold hands and sing “Kumbaya.”

Or would they? What would it be like if women ruled the world, I began to wonder?

Would anything really change? Would the world be a better place? My hunch was that more women in public life would, in fact, make things better.

After all, more women already have.”

If Women Ruled the World, a 2 hr.PBS Documentary 1991

“Women are beginning to assert a distinctive approach and make a real difference as they expand their presence in the professions. This distinctive approach is generally defined as being more social, civil, collaborative, and inclusive, and it’s consistent with rising educational standards and the evolution of democracy and globalization toward greater pluralism, decentralization, transparency, and accountability.”

The time for change in Egypt is NOW. The time for change for oppressed women around the world is NOW. As the brave women of Egypt use their voices and risk their lives for yet another significant step in the history of women of the world, we see you. We hear you and support your right to be heard, to be safe and to be treated with equal respect. We know, as women of a democratic society that you are fighting in memory of the women who came before you and the young women who  will follow in your footsteps. Bravo. Bravo

How do you see that our world would be different if women safely walked ALONGSIDE men?

Though I still feel like I have the unrelenting hopeful spirit of a high school graduate, my 40th reunion is just around the corner. OMG! There are pictures floating thru internet space of me looking like one of Julie Andrew’s charges in Sound of Music. I think that yellow dress was actually made out of an old curtain my grandmother was throwing away.

I rarely think of high school. When I do I break out in a cold sweat. Those were certainly the most awkward years of my life…now, why would I want to revisit them in any way, shape, or form?

I was a geek. Trust me. 6’ tall, 110 lbs. in wet pegged Levi’s and 2 lbs. of hairspray. Not one boy, not one, gave me a second look. Who could blame them. I was taller than 99% of them and I had “DESPERATE” written all over me. When I saw an opportunity to trick a brand new guy, obviously lonely and awkward himself, into coming to a party at my house, I took it.  I told him that all my friends would be there and I would love to introduce him.

When he accepted my invitation, I almost died on the spot. I had never been invited to a high school party and certainly never hosted one. I went to the one BFF I had and told her what I had done. We had 2 days to accomplish a guest list and something that resembled a pre-planned gathering.

Poor Schmuck. He arrived on time and must have thought that;  A. He was at the wrong house (hence not another car in sight),  B. The party had been canceled,  or C. He had been duped. I’m pretty sure that when he walked in to find only me, my BFF and collectively our 3 younger brothers, he knew he had been shanghaied. What high school boy doesn’t come to a party in hopes of finding a keg, cheer leaders and an atmosphere of reckless abandon.

Okay, now get this. Monopoly, with half the players pre-pubescent…not exactly a testosterone fest; my mother wearing her best apron enthusiastically serving trays of warm chocolate chips cookies… looking nothing like a cheer leader; and milk for dipping  those cookies instead of a plastic cup of ‘Bud’ from a freshly tapped keg.

He stayed anyway. The ambush was successful. I had a boyfriend!


For two years he was my EVERYTHING. I couldn’t imagine a day without him. Now 40 years later, I don’t know where he is or what he is doing.  The class of ‘71 has diminished in numbers. There are those who have passed away and those who can’t be found. There are those looking for misplaced friends and soul mates, and those recalling long forgotten memories. Countless pictures are surfacing that prove 40 years is a long, long time.

So in deliberating “to reunion or not to reunion”, the attending column would definitely have more weight if I thought  no one would notice I am in-fact the same geek only now nearly 60 and an inch shorter(can we say osteoporosis); my size 4 Levi’s have been replaced by the size 14’s, or that I look somewhat like the Shar pei Puppy version of my senior picture?

One thing 40 years has taught me is that life is short and unpredictable. There are grown-up Black Tornado’s (that’s right, my mascot!), who back then, smiled at me in the hall and made my day…who included me in note passing in Social Studies and who sometimes joined my table of fellow geeks in the cafeteria. Now that I think about it there were about 500 other kids that probably felt much like I did…uncomfortable, unsure, uneasy.

We now know not one of us existed in pure form. Those were the thoughts of teen idolatry. Each of us was a mixture of thespian, geek, quarterback and cheerleader. The high school playing field has been leveled with time…we have all experienced loss, disillusionment, victories.  Some geeks are now secure, enjoying luxury. Others, for whom we predicted easy success, are still finding their way.

It turns out we are more alike than we are different. The differences are in the details. If we can remember our commonalities while revisiting familiar faces, shared memories and dreams, we may experience our high school years influenced more by the knowing of ‘what we were’ than ‘what we were not’.

Today…right now, there is something you can do to help the victims of rape, yourself and the ones you love. Please read all the way to the bottom and sign the petition that asks our government to protect the victim, not the assailant.

DID YOU KNOW:

1 out of every 6 American women has been the victim of an attempted or completed rape in her lifetime (14.8% completed rape; 2.8% attempted rape).1

17.7 million American women have been victims of attempted or completed rape.1

9 of every 10 rape victims were female in 2003.2

While about 80% of all victims are white, minorities are somewhat more likely to be attacked.

Lifetime rate of rape /attempted rape for women by race:1

  • All women: 17.6%
  • White women: 17.7%
  • Black women: 18.8%
  • Asian Pacific Islander women: 6.8%
  • American Indian/Alaskan women: 34.1%
  • Mixed race women: 24.4%

Men

About 3% of American men — or 1 in 33 — have experienced an attempted or completed rape in their lifetime.1

  • In 2003, 1 in every ten rape victims were male.2
  • 2.78 million men in the U.S. have been victims of sexual assault or rape.1

Children

15% of sexual assault and rape victims are under age 12.3

  • 29% are age 12-17.
  • 44% are under age 18.3
  • 80% are under age 30.3
  • 12-34 are the highest risk years.
  • Girls ages 16-19 are 4 times more likely than the general population to be victims of rape, attempted rape, or sexual assault.

7% of girls in grades 5-8 and 12% of girls in grades 9-12 said they had been sexually abused.4

  • 3% of boys grades 5-8 and 5% of boys in grades 9-12 said they had been sexually abused.

In 1995, local child protection service agencies identified 126,000 children who were victims of either substantiated or indicated sexual abuse.5

  • Of these, 75% were girls.
  • Nearly 30% of child victims were between the age of 4 and 7.

93% of juvenile sexual assault victims know their attacker.6

  • 34.2% of attackers were family members.
  • 58.7% were acquaintances.
  • Only 7% of the perpetrators were strangers to the victim.

Effects of Rape

Victims of sexual assault are:7

3 times more likely to suffer from depression.

6 times more likely to suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder.

13 times more likely to abuse alcohol.

26 times more likely to abuse drugs.

4 times more likely to contemplate suicide.

Pregnancies Resulting from Rape

In 2004-2005, 64,080 women were raped.8 According to medical reports, the incidence of pregnancy for one-time unprotected sexual intercourse is 5%. By applying the pregnancy rate to 64,080 women, RAINN estimates that there were 3,204 pregnancies as a result of rape during that period.

This calculation does not account for the following factors which could lower the actual number of pregnancies:
  • Rape, as defined by the NCVS, is forced sexual intercourse. Forced sexual intercourse means vaginal, oral, or anal penetration by offender(s). This category includes incidents where the penetration is from a foreign object such as a bottle. Certain types of rape under this definition cannot cause pregnancy.
  • Some victims of rape may be utilizing birth control methods, such as the pill, which will prevent pregnancy.
  • Some rapists may wear condoms in an effort to avoid DNA detection.
  • Vicims of rape may not be able to become pregnant for medical or age-related reasons.
This calculation does not account for the following factors which could raise the actual number of pregnancies:
  • Medical estimates of a 5% pregnancy rate are for one-time, unprotected sexual intercourse. Some victimizations may include multiple incidents of intercourse.
  • Because of methodology, NCVS does not measure the victimization of Americans age 12 or younger. Rapes of these young people could results in pregnancies not accounted for in RAINN’s estimates.


National Sexual Assault Hotline | 1.800.656.HOPE | Free. Confidential. 24/7.

HELL YES!!!

January 20, 2011

The fear that stops you.

You know when you stumble on to a great idea? Or maybe a surge of confidence, or a step in the direction of your god given gifts…and no sooner are you filled to the brim with possibilities than a dark and damp whisper begins at the very bottom of your soul.

“Who do you think you are; you are ridiculous; everyone will laugh at you; you will never make any money; somebody better will do it and make you look foolish; what have you done to deserve something this good!”

Sound familiar?

I have these amazing human beings in my life. Some as close as a good walk; others a plane, train or automobile trip away. They have inspired me, taught me, loved me, saved me. In their presence I know I am in the company of greatness.

And yet they often struggle with their own greatness; find it hard to move, to carry on, to go forth and change the world as they know they are called to do. They give in to the dark damp voice of DOUBT.

If you believe in evil or not…does it make any sense that just when a magnificent human being is about to make a step forward that will make the world a better place, bring light, hope and encouragement to others, that “evil” says, Hell NO and perhaps uses that dark whisper to stop you in your tracks? End of hope…end of light…end of possibilities.

Time to listen to another voice…one that says…”I can be afraid and hold still, do nothing and live with this fear, or I can hear the voice for what it is and say, Hell Yes?

I choose for them and I choose for me and I choose for you…HELL YES!

http://charliephillips.net/videos/theater-3/nick-vujicic.html

THIS LINK WILL HELP YOU DO JUST THAT…

Raise your hand if you are a giver? One who gives out of your abundance, or from your lack thereof? Doesn’t matter, you give and give and give some more. You cheat your self when there is not enough food to go around; you drink the cheap wine so everybody else can have the good stuff; you give your new clothes to your daughter before they reach the hanger or have the tags removed; give up the front seat; give up time and resources, energy and peace of mind so that those around you are more comfortable…happier…content…safe and sound. Not really a big deal; not really a choice, just a lifestyle.

Well I say BRAVO…you are in good company with most of the females on the planet…

The other day I needed help…not lots, just a skosh….a ride, a snack, an open door. Could I ask…NO NO NO.

Fortunately I was in the company of my surest of SURES; truest of Trues, safest of Safes!

“if you don’t ask me, then I can’t ask you..and If I don’t ask  you , you will go stark raving mad. Here is a chance to save your own sanity.”

Okay, I need a ride.

Better?

Ask.

aging gracefully…

January 2, 2011

Starting another new year…which is following right on the heels of 57 other new years, I am considering what it means to age gracefully.

I don’t mind telling you that while I curse, curse, curse the notion of plastic surgery, or injections of any kind to aid in my appearance, I do stand in front of the mirror and oh so gently pull up my slightly limp checks to get an idea of what I might look like with just a tuck here and a pull there. I am aware that if I pull too much, or in the wrong direction, I can look like the Japanese version of myself…not that that is a bad thing, just a radical thing given my Norwegian heritage.

My husband caught me standing naked in front of the mirror, both hands grasping my “soft” belly while vigorously shaking it up and down..it .looked a bit like a taffy pull and I felt a bit like a Shar Pei. His sweet and I am sure supportive comment? ”Honey, the trend is not UP”.

Was I recently tempted by the patent pending Chin Up? Hell yes! At $19.99, and guaranteed result in just 2 weeks! That sagging turkey neck (their words, not mine) was bound to disappear for good and they had pictures of Brittany Spears, Minka Kelley and Katie Perry to prove it…wait, aren’t their combined ages less than mine NOW? Of course they look good after trying Chip Up, their’s were never down to begin with. Still I was enticed.

We, “women of a certain age”, are desperately trying to find peace with the fact that our appearance is changing, and we are looking more and more like our mothers. As intelligent, politically correct and mature females, we are supposed to embrace the wrinkles with little care and in-fact pride and honor that we have earned them and more, much more.

Still we jiggle, and stretch and buy the latest cream made from the egg yolks of endangered sea turtles. We make deals with the mirror…”okay, that’s enough now…if the wrinkles could just stop here, I could live with that.” A month or so later when a new wrinkle or line or droop appears, we offer up a new deal…”okay, that’s enough now…if it could just stop here, I could live with that.”

Truth about women aging…we don’t really want to have our face or bodies match our years. We welcome the wisdom, enlightenment and freedom;  the fact we no longer date one loser after another; feel dependent on someone else’s validation of our self worth, or stress over what the neighbor lady thinks of us… We also would like to think that our appearance has little to do with how we feel about ourselves at this stage in our lives…

Truth is we do struggle…don’t want to but we do. We buy the cream, the Chin Up, the “guarantee to cover gray” hair color…because we care. We care. We are aging. We are learning to let go and accept… and sometimes, just sometimes we just have to jiggle and see if the trend might be changing.

Chin Up my friends…we are in this together.

My Private Tony Award

December 31, 2010

who among us doesn’t have a story…one we tell others and one we tell ourselves. There isn’t a person, given enough time, that can’t teach us a thing or two about overcoming adversity, fear and insurmountable challenge. It always makes me feel like a small part of something so powerful when someone confides in me what they have had to do to wake up and face yet another new and often impossible day. The experiences each of us goes through contributes to the depth and richness of our lives. It is the things we face, the heartaches we bear that do in fact make us stronger and our lives richer…eventually.  If we manage to survive what often times feels like un-survivable, we have stories to tell that prove the notion that we are each stronger than we think we are.

then there are the secret…dirty little secret…stories we tell ourselves. the theater is dark, the stage is empty and yet we execute an entire drama inside our heads; stories of self loathing, stories of inadequacies, stories of worthlessness. I have one…over and over again I see it and hear it and it tells me that I have never been, nor will I ever be successful at anything. depending on my circumstances, levels of depression, lack of self-confidence the story can render me helpless. My story of inadequacy, as ridiculous as it may seem to others, makes perfect sense to me. I know it, I have cultivated it and shaped it for years and years…It is my story and I am sticking with it (no matter how much therapy there is).

yet the “stories” that others live by, listen to and believe are so completely ridiculous to me. how many amazing writers among us, wake up each day and feel that today is the day they will be discovered for the fraud they know themselves to be. or how many gorgeous young women spend day in and day out comparing themselves to any number of photo-shopped images and find that they are disgusting by comparison. how many young devoted mothers tell themselves every minute of every day that they are doomed to be the same kind of distant, unfeeling parent who raised them. how many men live day in and day out with feelings of inadequacy around what they can provide and how they can compete; young teens who beat themselves up on a regular basis because they are different from the norm.

what is it about the negative thoughts that claim the lion’s share of our thinking brain cells? why does one or two or even ten disparaging remarks/thoughts carry so much more weight than the thousands of uplifting ones we are likely to hear in a life time.

I am voting that the mantra for 2011 be… I AM ENOUGH. How about that for story…how about that replacing the countless hours of self doubt; the wasted comparisons to those who look like they have it all…because I know those people, and the stories they tell themselves are the same ones you tell yourself and I tell myself. the secret dark theater thoughts where the story comes alive and is real enough and vivid enough that the Tony Awards should have a category for performances such as these. those people, the ones who must be so very confident,  are looking at you and thinking that you’re the one who must have it all together.

each of us deserves a break from self-imposed suffering. we do.

I know you, I read your brilliant thoughts; I am humbled by your beauty; in awe of your unlimited capacity for love, creativity and stunning accomplishments. You are more than enough. And the deal is if you don’t know and live as if you are, you confirm the shameful story I tell myself. Because I watch you, am inspired by you and follow the examples I trust you to create.

You are enough, and I hope to be just like you someday.

As good As it Gets

December 29, 2010

another year bites the dust.

it came and went and took with it jobs, homes, sons and daughters.

there has been grief and hopelessness, anxiety and fear. 2010 will be a year to remember…a year that felt like not only did Mercury not rise when it should have, it crashed and burned and limped into the repair shop with a diagnosis of total loss.

so here comes another chance…on the heels of one test after another…here comes another chance. will this year be better, more lucrative for “the american people”…will it bring soldiers home and reunite families…will it bring jobs and stability and health care for those who have none? will it offer more kindness and understanding for those children who often feel ostracized and different?

truthfully, it will be what it is…another year; another chance to exercise the best of us…another year to care for others in greater need than ourselves…It will be another opportunity to forgive. It will be what every year that has come before it will be…

It will be as good as it gets.

each year, each month, each day, each moment we get to choose what to do with the circumstances around them…what to do with our friends, families, co-workers. we get to create the life we live inside ourselves regardless of the chaos happening around us.

there is little we can control…god knows i’ve tried. once again, in this new year, in this new opportunity, welcome the chance to experience it all and with as much grace as you can muster….because my friends, that is as good as it gets.

gracious thoughts and deeds in the new year

How many shopping days left?

OMG! … is usually my general state of mind at this point.  It seems no matter how far ahead I plan, or shop, or bake or decorate I am always behind. For as long as I can remember I have been the one descending the stairs with wet hair, struggling to button or zip, while welcoming my family and friends who managed to arrive on time. With the exception of being greeted by a composed hostess, they entered my well designed and executed Christmas “Set”. The tree, the decorations, the perfectly wrapped and terribly thoughtful gifts under the tree; the scents of abundance, candle light and just the right holiday cheer.

I assume I am not alone here when describing the scene. The  cast has arrived, the set is decorated and the performance begins. Usually I am so exhausted and/or stressed out that I am numbed to a great deal of the magic I have worked so hard to create.

Every Christmas Eve since my kids were babies, our family and friends sit down before dinner and listen to my husband attempt to read a lovely little book, A Certain Small Shepard. It is a simple story about a motherless family who tries to make the most of Christmas given the cards they have been dealt. One particular Christmas Eve an unexpected miracle arrives…but instead of being the recipients, they are in-fact the gracious and most generous benefactors

For 30 years we have read the same story and for 30 years there is not a dry eye in the room. My husband always starts, but rarely makes it past the first couple of pages. Seeing his eyes well with tears and a tenderness envelop him have been some of the dearest moments associated with Christmas. The book is then passed to me, and I give it a whirl. On more than one occasion one of the girls takes over, or my father or my beloved nephew. It takes a village to get thru this small work of art. Yet every Christmas Eve we all gather around again to give it another go.

This year I have listened and heard the whispers of my family above the cacophony all around. They don’t want the exquisite set, they want the real thing. They want less and they want to give more to those who really need a hand. They want less wasted food, and more time spent enjoying the simpler food we prepare together.

There is a Certain Small Shepard coming to our house this year, and I want to be fully present. I know most days of the year that what truly matters is the unconditional love I share with family and friends. Somehow though Christmas preparations tend to cloud what I know to be true. This year I want to accept the miracle being given to all who gather; to listen to a simple story, see the aging faces of grandparents light up when surrounded by those most cherished, and realize memories made that are in fact the gifts that we will cherish in years to come.

Merry Christmas to all and to all a Good Night…filled with the matters that truly matter to you.

If you don’t know this blog, you should. Peggy is brilliant and thoughtful and often hits the nail so squarely on the head that it explodes…the following is one of those.

The best reason to be rich and famous.

November 8th, 2010

Ever had dreams of being rich and famous?  I admit it.  I have.

Way back in yesteryear, when I was a kid, there used to be a show on TV called The Millionaire.  In it, you saw, only the luxuriously clad arm of “an anonymous benefactor”, sitting in his velvet wing back chair.  We knew his name was John Beresford Tipton but we never, ever saw his face.  He had so much money that he decided to find deserving people to give it to through his loyal employee, Michael Anthony. Michael Anthony’s job was to find the right people and then make sure they received the money, transforming their lives forever.   I never missed an episode.  In my feet-pajamas, drinking a warm, Bosco-laden milk, I dreamed of one day being rich and famous enough that I could be the female version of Mr. Tipton.

I have had my moments, although on a much smaller scale.

A few years ago, a friend, who was radically changing his career from rocket scientist to professional photographer was lamenting the fact that he had spent all his money on cameras and a studio to live and work in.  He had run out money for producing the great business cards and brochures that had been designed for him.  So, while he was taking a phone call, I slipped the artwork into my bag.  At the printer, I instructed them to deliver the business cards and brochures to my friend anonymously.  What a thrill. I was living out my fantasy of being an anonymous benefactor!

One day, he called to tell me about the ” miracle that had happened”.  When he stepped out the door the week before, there were boxes full of his cards and brochures—just sitting there.  He had shared his predicament with a number of people, so he had no idea the source of his good fortune.

AND, as it turned out, this was the same day he had been invited to an event showcasing up and coming photographers in the area.  He was planning to skip the event, altogether, because he was ashamed that he had nothing to hand out to anyone.  But, lo and behold!  About face.  Not only did he go, but he landed his largest, ongoing corporate contract—enough to pay all his overhead for a year!

For me, that’s always been my primary reason to work so hard and do well—to have those moments when I can just make it happen for someone else, especially at a time when it is needed most.  Success that’s shared is the best success of all.

So,  fast forward to a real star.  One we all know.  One who is using his fame and fortune without a shred of fanfare…….Denzel Washington.

Recently, while visiting the wounded soldiers, transferred from Germany to Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, Texas, he was taken to one of the Fisher Houses on base.  That’s where soldiers’ families can stay for little or no charge  while our young heroes are healing, mostly from catastrophic burns and loss of limbs.The houses stay booked at maximum capacity, with a perpetual wait list.

After seeing how much both the patients/soldiers and their families benefited from being together during the long recovery process, Washington asked how much it would cost to build another one.  Upon hearing the amount, he simply wrote a check, right on the spot, for the full amount.

He demonstrated the best reason to be rich and famous

http://www.screamsofconsciousness.com

  

 PEEC Presents:  WOMEN LIVING FULLY…INVESTING IN OURSELVES 

 

 Oct. 24 – 27 2010 

Imagine yourself nestled in beautiful, inspiring surroundings, your only goal to rest and indulge in self discovery.  Imagine meeting like-minded women who come prepared to explore the same questions that run through your mind constantly… “Now What?”  …“Who Am I?… 

 “How do I make the most of the life that is ahead of me?”  “…What is it to be a true friend – to have a true friend?”…“What matters the most to me at this time in my life?”… “How can I  make a difference in the world?” 

PEEC (Pocono Environmental Education Center, Dingman’s Ferry, PA www.peec.org) is holding this, their  first annual Women’s Retreat, and have invited  inspiring authors, experts in their field and other speakers who will gather to explore all of those questions and more. 

We all know that our lives and daily choices are best governed by ourmost deeply held values, beliefs and priorities.  Yet there is much to distract and dilute even our best of intentions.  This glorious three-day women’s retreat offers you the opportunity to reconnect with that which is most important to you and find new ways to live that are reflective of who you are and what your value.  This is an experience dedicated to women’s complete well being, both individuallyand collectively. 

 You will be inspired by award winning and internationally published authors and other experts, including: Amy Ferris: Marrying George Clooney: Confessions of a Midlife Crisis –   

 Kristine Van Raden & Molly Davis (www.mattersthatmatter.com) : Letters to Our Daughters  

 Monica Holloway Monica Holloway – Cowboy & Willis;  Driving with Dead People, and others.  

Gregory Anne Cox of  midlifewithavengeance.com 

Robyn Hatcher, Amy Litzenberger, Hollye Dexter…and more! 

This one of a kind retreat will provide an insightful and inspiring program highlighting the things that are vital to women in mid-life, and encourage living life to the fullest.  Topics range from living authentic and meaningful lives, financial well being, health and wellness to the need for women to move beyond competition and towards mutual support, completion and collaboration. 

Believing that learning can be a collaborative and supportive experience,  all offerings will be participatory and introspective, inspiring and challenging.  Sessions will include a combination of teaching, discussion and thoughtfully designed writing and thinking exercises. You will write, rest, eat amazing food, drink great wine, voice your ideas and opinions, reflect, rest and renew. You may even be cast as a character in the new play Common Threads…interested? REGISTER SOON, AS SPACE IS LIMITED 

  

You are invited to participate in an experience that will both inspire you and allow you to inspire others.   

Space is limited.  

Cost is $560. which includes lodging, meals and all workshops & activities.  

To register:  Call – 570-828-2319 and ask to register for Women Living Fully

INVISIBILITY

July 15, 2010

Friends and readers…a while back I asked women to send me the one word that best described their feelings of SELF at this mid stage of life. The most common word I received was INVISIBLE. We need to corporately change this notion. Women are nurturing, compassionate, reliable. We have an innate understanding of cooperation, grace and tolerance. The world is dying for the very essence of what it means to be a woman. A dear friend and amazing talent sent me the following. Prepare to be inspired.

Cloak and Dagger
Invisibility? Everyone has felt invisible or wished to be invisible, for one reason or another. Perhaps they are insecure, or feeling particularly vulnerable during a period of time and want to disappear. These are not reasons I would wish to be invisible.

I never felt unheard, or ignored. I’ve always had a roar inside me, and I’ve not been afraid to make it known. During my current mid-life experience, I often have moments which I believe are true epiphanies – moments when I really ‘get it.’ People tend to  over complicate  issues, relationships and our life experiences instead of just ‘being.’ I always remember my French lessons, and the term ‘être’ – the most important verb, meaning “to be.”

My desire for invisibility stems from interactions I have with people that just don’t get it. I feel frustration about trivialities that are made into huge issues. No point. I prefer to detach myself from this, and just observe. Really, more often than not, I would rather simply read a book, or write in a journal, if given a choice.

Life is fleeting, and every moment must count. Effort is often needed; sometimes there are big things that must be attended to and handled with care and concern. Real issues. It is the nonsense that is overwhelming, and the fact that one’s insight may often be totally disregarded. Hindsight is twenty-twenty, and it doesn’t matter if you are 16, 25, 46, 60 or 80 years old. The true tragedy is that life passes so quickly, and time is so intangible. In the world we live in, everything is intangible.

It’s easier to email than to pick up a telephone or visit someone; digital pictures can be lost forever with a computer malfunction. Entertainment has morphed into reality TV – essentially spying on someone’s false life – talent is ignored, people no longer need to create. Music is played on guitar hero, rather than with a guitar in hand and working out a tune.

My solution to this madness is to become invisible to the falseness to which we are now conditioned, to march truly to the beat of my own drum. Not worrying about conforming to someone else’s ideas or expectations, but just to be. Être.

Give me that cloak!

lisa kendigian