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A…Maze…Zing

dance


The hamster song! Unless you live on Mars…at one time or another, you have either had the twangy chirping song in your head, passed it onto a friend via an email, or paid the price (literally), for a Hallmark card with the insane sound chip,  annoying the living hell out of someone you care for. Although those little fur balls may be dancing, the majority of them, are known for the wheels that they love, the same ones John Lennon reminded us go round. That is life.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1qN72LEQnaU DANCE!

Walking the halls recently at work,  it dawned on me that I too, was turning round-and-round in another such place…the living embodiment of Facebook. Daily, we like… we comment…we share…and for the most part, look at one another face-to-face as an image to save or delete. However, many of those faces, just like the computer application are not emotionally real…just an illusion, to  pacify us as we walk by…a pause in the maze of our day.

In middle school, my father helped me make such a science project. Armed with wood, hot glue and some sunflower seeds, we measured and cut, secured and held down, until there was a wonderful puzzle, just waiting for a few unsuspecting hamsters. What the two us did that day, aside from bonding and sharing a special moment, was to create a surreal reality for some little creatures that walked around, wanting nothing more than to find the reward they were promised and escape. Nothing more and nothing less.

A lot like a normal week at work for the majority of the population.

The hamsters moved quickly.  They tried to get over the walls, avoided dead ends, and always I am sure, looked for a window or point of reference so they wouldn’t have to retrace their steps more than once. Thinking of that today, I  saw windows, walls and doors, but they were on the faces of the people I encountered…along a very similar journey…even if at the end my journey, was a direct deposit of cash and not a planned deposit of seeds.

It would be ideal, if we asked ourselves as we go through our sometimes less than amazing day – am I a window? Do I reflect life to those I meet?  Do I offer them an escape from their own burdens as a breath of fresh air in a weary world of self-driven, unmotivated doldrums? If not, can you admit you might be a door? Someone that is open to help or to guide, a place where another can enter, knowing their fears and secrets will be locked up and kept, as they look for help?  Maybe you are also well-hinged… a port-in-the-storm, a refuge from what sometimes can be overwhelming. Sadly, if neither option is honestly you, that only leaves a wall…and walls, as we politically know, need to be torn down.

Emotionally, as we go through each day, we look for interaction and compassion through the windows of our life, making the maze not as insurmountable. The doors that open along the way, also help our self-esteem, peace of mind and keep us from questioning our self-worth, as we try to make a difference…and a living, sometimes while doing what we don’t enjoy. However, the walls…those that are self-absorbed, usually in it just for themselves, make everything difficult. Attitudes, that don’t see what is truly in their face, both literally and figuratively,  force getting to that end reward difficult, if not impossible and they are also hard to avoid…no matter how much dancing we do around them.

Today, and all those days yet to come, strive to be the adventurer who will conquer the twists and turns of each day – seek out the doors and windows of opportunity and if possible, plant your own seeds of creativity, hope and support to others along the way. In time, if we are lucky and through some truly amazing grace, maybe the walls will  eventually come down, and those who were once caught up on ever-turning wheels, will finally see them as no more than an exercise in futility… and dance!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1qN72LEQnaU DANCE!

viciousYears ago, beverage manufacturers left the zip top, flip top, pull tab world behind and for awhile, returned to glass – a vision that didn’t turn out as crystal clear as they hoped. However, what it did bring were nasty little circles of teeth, which curiously remained attached, after the cap was screwed off. Once, while looking at those teeth during a business meeting, I burst out laughing, realizing I had finally located a true vicious circle! Okay, maybe it wasn’t the Holy Grail or a map to the Lost Dutchman, but in that boring meeting and every day since, I have found them to be hysterical.

Nevertheless, beverages still balance between can and bottle, and life will forever be trapped in the age-old chicken or the egg enlightenment or…the Vicious Circle. Yes, every day we mortals continue trying to get ahead, trying to better things, trying to make a difference and  inevitably, something comes up from behind before we finish, causing results we never saw coming. Some circles of life may have had pride with a bunch of lions that knew Walt Disney, but in reality…they are more the ring of butter that knew Little Black Sambo…politically correct or not!

Looking at a circle there is no beginning or end, which always made me ask: “Where does the vicious come from?” What we know of circles, is that once the churning starts it eventually sets in a rhythm and remains constant…so I wondered, could the answer really be that simple? If we remove the initial vicious tooth, would we actually reset the rhythm of life?

I think everyone at one time or another wants to hit their personal reset button – before, during and after things begin to circle the drain. When asked what they would like to remove, we hear hate, war, pain, depression rage and killing. It is ironic, however,  if you look at those words, because they are all based in just two ever circling thoughts: Selfishness and Ignorance…and if you’ve ever had those teeth buried into your soul, you already know the infection they cause!

How about when we wake each day with open eyes, we let the color from our heart and hopes circle around us, causing an unending cycle for the day. What if we put in place a continuous, recharging circle that gains speed within itself…it goes without saying, that there wouldn’t be a spot to insert negative energy, retaliation, fear or any other vicious thoughts. Return to that soda, and imagine a clear glass with small circular bubbles dancing through the beverage stream, each one making the moment more effervescent and enjoyable, each bubble a transparent circle in the moment, with no personal agenda, eventually finishing their purpose,  going flat and replaced by hundreds just like them.

Over the years I have always found the expression you are what you eat mildly disconcerting – especially while craving a pickled egg, double ice-cream sundae or a cheese sandwich. However, no more than being what we eat, we are what we say and do, and such actions inevitably circle back. My father liked to say very simply, ‘it’s a long road.’ I never needed it explained, the words said it all. So why not look at one of those vicious circles the next time you have a soda, and concentrate on how the teeth sharply turn inwards, and NOT outwards. A solid reminder that it is ourselves we actually destroy, when we choose to encircle ourselves with hate, anger, rage and indifference…not to mention those hurt in our process.

Circles are meant to be unbroken, and if they are done right, they come back around when we need them the most.

 

Timber……

timber

If you are Thoreau-ly confused by the title, or didn’t have Breakfast at Tiffany’s,  listen not to the silence, but the impact of life.…and if there is any doubt, remember Barbara Walters confirmed it during  her Kate Hepburn interview…and by the way, I think she was an Oak.

Trees and the human race that relaxes and seeks shelter under them, seem to be bound by more than open space – and if you think about it, you will see I am not barking up the wrong one. How many times I might ask, have you questioned your family tree…or maybe just the nuts and fruits falling from it. Have you ever pulled up your roots and branched out in an unfamiliar direction, or just stayed where you were, throwing loving shade to those in your life?

Once the seed of life is planted, along with glorious ideas of being parents, we wait to see that first limb emerge, watching as it grows in our garden, often disappointed isn’t the Eden we hoped it would be. No matter how hard we try in this life or how strong we become, there is also a constant fear that we will be cut down before accomplishing our dreams. Nevertheless, we can always turn over a new leaf, and continue our pursuit of happiness season after season.

As we pursue this elusive brand of hope called “happiness,” it is always good to collect a few squirrel friends along the way, reminding us that even if times are tough, there are no rings to testify to our age and mistakes, unless of course you have been married more than a few times. Indeed, sometimes having the right people parked around you is a tree-mendous gift.

All puns aside, the very core of our learning and imagination ( not counting that tree of knowledge snaking through a certain biblical tale) have come from putting  pen to paper, and just where did that paper come from? I don’t think it is a run of the mill coincidence that the roots of our knowledge, come from the very roots of the earth. What we share with the life around us is more than just space, and sometimes when you stop and listen, even if no one else is around, you hear it in your soul.

There might not always be a sound when a tree falls, but we have the chance to listen and hear those who fall around us, a difference that needs to be celebrated. Just as trees breathe life into our air; it is up to us to breathe it into one another. Reach out today, get to the root of a problem, plant some new ideas or hope and offer shelter or rest to someone in need. Life isn’t always a banquet – most times it is a picnic, which has been put together with what and who we find around us…so look! There is no coincidence in the master landscape of life, and as the lyrics sing in Woodstock….. “We got to get ourselves back to the garden…..”

let it go
Unless you have been living in another universe, you cannot have avoided the musical phenomenon of Frozen. The song “Let it Go” has been done on YouTube by Marines, cartoons, animals and parents, along with a few little kids in the mix. The catchy lyrics build up to such a self-empowering climax, that for many, a trip to yoga can be happily avoided! Reaching that inner nirvana, that inner Rosie the Riveter, saying I Can Do it! Is something that crosses more than animated lines and musical scores – Kudos to Disney for again breathing life into our lives.

However, past the colorful three minutes of musical therapy and the sisterhood of icy emotions, most of us do need to face frozen factors, which take up too much space in our lives. We all have them, some are photographs, some are just memories, and others are moments and people that brought and lived events with us. Looking back, we always re-connect to ourselves and not the people or events, forever wishing, regretting or finding blame for not doing more, wanting to have kept something together or worst of all, being the one left behind and refusing to accept it. The chill from such self-deprecation leave us frozen to the warmth around us and that yet to come, it also needs to be chipped away and melted.

There isn’t a love story yet, where someone isn’t holding out a hand wanting to reach another, make something right, be there, or obviously…be loved. Even as Scarlett held dirt in her hand, gaining strength from Tara and vowing to make life right again, she was actually defrosting the moments that had kept her prisoner, that kept her from moving forward and kept her from being who she really was…all because she wanted something that was never hers in the first place. In a world where corporations demand that their employees OWN IT! And political enthusiasts preach taking back what is ours; too many times life remains frozen in the warm comfort zone we have become acclimated to existing in. More than ever, the time has come for us to move the rocks, crush the confines and melt the emotions holding us back.

Each day we are given 24 hours to make a difference… that is if we forgo sleep. That means somewhere in the neighborhood of 10 hours, we have the chance to be the best we can, love unconditionally, help one another, and if we are lucky, make a difference. Tomorrow we start it all over again, and hopefully some of what we did will have passed to another and the process continues. However, looking back and holding on to frozen what if moments or events, that can never be changed and have no bearing on what we do in the moment are wrong and need to be let go!

Wouldn’t it be wonderful, if the news reporting social media didn’t go back and rehash events filled with pain, spawning additional violence for the sake of ratings? How calming the world would be if everyone moved past what caused pain and decided to make a difference for not just themselves, but for those around them by filling the grooves in the road, and offering a smooth path of possibility for the next day.

Like humans, animals remember incidents that caused them pain, but they also offer unconditional hope for sharing love and moving ahead. Sometimes we are too smart for our own good, thinking that with enough effort, we can “fix” what we deem to be broken, and reclaim or fit ourselves into situations we have been frozen out of. That is so wrong; instead we need to use that intelligence and let it go! Accept what we have, and take the next allotment of time to see what is out there waiting to change us and what we can offer.

Water isn’t just our life force it is a mirror of life!  It can be boiled, left standing stagnant, evaporated and of course frozen, however, the best version is when the tide comes in and erases the sand, ready for another chance. So, as you surf the Internet today or get your feet wet in something new… LET IT GO! and become empowered to what you never dreamed possible.

lastsupper

The engine that drives our lives and our memories, is generally fueled by food, and ironically, not always the real deal-a-meal…pictures are just as effective.  I can’t remember a time growing up with my family, that didn’t have a pie somewhere, you see, Mom rocked the pie empire! There were also both her deviled and pickled eggs and sugar cookies and my mother-in-law was there with spaghetti sauce, borscht and green salad, along with countless others. Later, when I had my own family, my special cinnamon rolls were as expected as the handmade fondant chocolates, affectionately known as colored candies! Even as the years continued, just seeing pictures of those moments instantly transported us, and laughter and love again filled the air – even if the intoxicating aroma and calories were missing.

Home was where the heart was, and getting there…all trivial sayings aside…was indeed through the stomach.  There was, however, another time when my little engine could be found, in a different state, with a large wooden table and a German Chocolate cake.

I never really knew my Grandmother, she lived out-of-state and visiting her and my Grandfather, was a yearly or alternating year visit, during which time we tried to know each other a little better as she aged, and I grew away. There was however, always macaroni and cheese made with Cheez Whiz, a product I had no clue about, but delighted in the gooey flavor, so different from the homemade cheese-crusted wonder, that my mother made. Dinner there was a Summer celebration of love, trying to hold together as much time as possible, and then like dessert, it was over.

Looking back on that chocolate cake, I now understand her excitement as she baked it, knowing her family was coming, and for a brief time everything would be right in the world. I can imagine her making the frosting, sad at how she missed all the beaters and bowls never licked, or fingers that spoiled the results before serving. I also know the taste wasn’t as sweet as it could have been, since it was only a production for the moment, and not a weekly or monthly get together, where lives were shared, loved, compared and enriched. However, it was the best she had to express her love, and she did it very well…obviously, since it still affects me at 54.

Then, as life unveiled and presented itself to me, I realized that I too was becoming a chocolate cake. Sadly,  I had always assumed there would be meals and gatherings, spiced with cinnamon and smiles rolling into the years, leaving pie in the sky dreams and memories. But alas, like a recipe, things  don’t always turn out according to plan. Even now, the cake has been reduced to mailed or on-the-run cupcakes, which don’t require long visits, attention or commitment. I guess it is a good thing I had the foresight to print my cookbook years before, insuring my food would go on…even if the traditions and me didn’t.

This is an odd conundrum, since we long for the comfort and memories of our youth, but in our haste to live life to the fullest, forget to make them for our children. I guess that is why the biggest day for pizza delivery is Christmas – because all those special dinners, buffets and gatherings have been reduced to nothing more than Mom’s house or Dad’s house, hurry home to our house, or out-of-state can’t get to the house, better Skype the whole thing and pretend you were together events. In doing this though, we confirm a generation of youth  lost  between a stale, albeit a creamy frosting center. They will also never have anything to leave their families, and even worse…nothing to look back on, nourishing their soul as they face life, and the questions and curiosities that might have once been answered over a piece of pie.

Some of the best discussions and understandings in my life came at the kitchen table or at a campsite near toasted marshmallows. Stories and history I would have never known and have honestly needed as I matured, were given freely, and shared with a love that was priceless. Remembering happy faces after a meal, kisses still warm from coffee on aging lips, and little children with eyes bigger than their stomachs, hoping to finish a plate piled high, still fill my heart.

Yes, there is a lost value to the perishables of life…food that won’t last, parents and grandparents that pass away, and children who grow up too fast. It is a shame that we can’t put a use before date on them – or maybe just stop using them in general, and share life together. Regardless, however, some of us  can still remember what we had, and like other products no longer made, offer a chuckle or wayward desire, wishing for one more taste.

Holidays may be set aside for celebration, but it is everyday we should celebrate the feast of family, that which we have been given, in memory of life…especially when so many hearts are starving, just wishing for such an offering. Maybe that is why The Last Supper stands out in the Bible…maybe the message we were to have gotten was more than what appeared as just face value? After all, what really is the value of the face no longer sitting across your table…especially if it was the last time?

beaver

Life…trying to be the best we can, and with any luck getting recognition for what we are able to accomplish. However, many are caught up more in the drama of either loosing what they once had or never being known, than who they really are (to themselves that is) forgetting to live each day to the fullest.

The all knowing Wizard of Oz was no more than a lost man from a carnival, landing in the right place at the right time, eventually becoming larger than life. However, all he really had to fall back on was luck and illusion, which he unfortunately believed (until a small dog revealed the error of his ways, and as we all know it was “curtains” after that.) Yes, he got his moment of false glory…but then what? The chapter ended and so did he, because he worked too hard to keep what wasn’t real.

Likewise, years ago the actor Michael Paré, (can we say hunk!) starred in a low budget movie, with now cult status, that had lukewarm acting, but a blockbuster soundtrack. Clicking my playlist for Eddie and the Cruisers I still get Goosebumps. I see Eddie’s muscular arms, tightly ensconced in a black t-shirt, and his hair across boyish eyes, which caused more than a few midnight fantasies. The scream of the sax, the rip of the guitar and I am there! However, that is illusion at its best, because the band was John Cafferty & the Beaver Brown Band, and they look nothing like Eddie, the God of Rock, who will forever be seen in those lyrics. They did all the work, had the talent and made the soundtrack memorable…but who remembers or even knew them? There wasn’t a curtain to pull, or a Tinman and little dog to demand a reveal for Michael Paré, so forever, like many others, he will be known best for something he didn’t and couldn’t do.

Aside from the fact that the Coyote was Ugly, the biggest hit of Leann Rimes career, will always be associated with a young Piper Perabo, dancing on a bar being sprayed with beer in nothing short of a love story and wet t-shirt contest. Granted $$$ royalties were paid to Leanne, but when everything is all said and done, when someone says Can’t Fight the Moonlight, the first thought won’t be her blond hair and soft face. No different than Flashdance…when every young female over the age of 10 wanted a torn sweatshirt, ugly dog and welder’s torch, and a moment to dance! So of course we think of the real dancer, Marine Jahan…umm no…we think of the beautiful and innocent eyed Jennifer Beals, pounding the stage and our hearts, to a rock beat that was the soundtrack of the 80’s. Again, right place, right time and oh yeah..right now!

When you think about it, for every “Working Girl” named Tess, there is a Millie Vanilli looking at the spot where a Grammy should be. So is it true that having the experience is 90% of the accomplishment? What is that 10% of silent fame? Heck, you got the prize,  you just won’t have an audience to eventually disappoint, when you no longer have that elusive 15 minutes of favorite flavor and  become mortal.

The use of actors and actresses and body or voice doubles is nothing new, some of the most memorable moments in entertainment have been done by those never getting the credit they deserve. However, the irony of Eddie and the Cruisers is the entire premise of the film, is a man running from his ability, fame and talent, only to find in the end that he returns where he belongs, truly facing the music. That is after all, the illusion of life and our dreams, no matter how far we go, how hard we try to change, we are just a basic one soul intended for this one world, and in the end it can only be hoped we achieve what we were intended to, despite any perceived glass walls or body doubles taking our ideas, stepping in and replacing us in situations we earned a place in, and taken credit for ideas and dreams that they will never know themselves.

It makes you wonder, which is more difficult to deal with once that music ends, and we all find ourselves home without ruby slippers. Would we really rather have the acclaim for what wasn’t ours, living with the emotional disappointment of knowing we were not who people thought us to be…just wishing we could reach the stars so many thought we shined? I have been frustrated and sidelined in life and business, seeing many personal “what could have beens,” knowing I did have the right stuff, just never the chance…and I wince, remembering it taken from me for another’s pat on the back. However, at night when I close out the day, turn the page and reflect on what I have done, I am left with the satisfaction knowing what is right, who I am and what makes me that person. It is almost a prayer, letting me shut my eyes in peace and sleep.

So is it is better to have tried, and accepted what you got, than to have never tried at all? Well, Mr. Shakespeare I have to say yes, and even if no one asked for your autograph or recognized you in praise, the drive, desire and knowledge will forever be yours. After all, who else matters at the end of this life? Our character and what takes us into each day is the one thing that we ever really own, and it can never be faked by someone else….even if they might get an award for it.

Life through Terry Cloth

terry clothI bought new towels!   Now that isn’t really something deserving of a comment, much less an award…however, in many ways it was a confirmation of my life, and emotionally where I am currently seated, and no…before you say it…I am not all washed up

Many times in my life, certain inanimate objects have come into focus, almost representative of my life and the direction it is taking.  Towels appear to have such symbolism, although I have no idea why…personally, I would have selected Sean Connery if I had been asked.

When I was getting married at the ripe and stupid age of nineteen, I had a shower…not a bath don’t get ahead of me.  My mother-in-law wanted to set up a registry, and asked what color towels I wanted.  Seriously…at nineteen who thinks of towels?  Anyway, I remember thinking of the first two colors that came into my head, green and orange…OMG why?  So of course, we painted the bathroom a light green, and I got towels…towels, I might add, which lasted longer than the marriage.  Either that was some great Terry Cloth and JC Penney should be proud, or they weren’t used much…even if I was, but those are details I won’t blog you with.

Years later, when I had literally thrown in the towel and started life again, this time on my own, I bought bath sheets. For those who don’t know, they are expensive, oversized and thick terry cloth towels, that everyday towels look at with wash cloth envy.  I also bought them in black, something I had always wanted, and saw them a confirmation if my new life.   Yes, life was good, money was good, job was hard, but for once, everything was in the black.

A few years later, my mother called me very upset, she and dad had gone to the mall to get me a birthday gift and he got lost.  She had waited in their truck, and after too much time had passed, a man came out to find her, saying Dad was extremely disoriented, and sitting in the open area of the mall. After they were home, I went to see him, and he didn’t remember what had happened, just that he needed to buy me towels…seriously?  The incident as I look back was when he began his final journey of age, and I would eventually stop working to be there when they needed me.  However, I did have beautiful white and yellow towels in my bathroom that I never knew I needed, but he HAD to buy for me.  They were almost like a ray of sunshine breaking through white clouds next to the black ones I loved.  Even though I missed the symbolism, they were reminding me of the good in my life, as I journeyed through many years of darkness and emotional pain.

After my somewhat recent divorce, I abruptly cleared out my stained, bleached, hair dyed and faded black towels, (one green one was still valiantly hanging on some 33 years later!) and bought new ones.  The day I hung them up and looked at how they were on the shelves, there wasn’t a mismatched one in the lot and I felt the same way.  For the first time in my life, I was in control and order of my life, I was accountable to nobody else, and well…it felt good.  Indeed, my emotions may have been rung out, and left to dry more than a few times, but I finally found my place, absorbing the world and people around me.

As I look at those new moss green towels – I know green…who knew? I think of all the times in life when something is spilled, a woman goes into unexpected labor, an animal is hurt or a baby is splashing in water deliriously happy, and what is it we say?  Get me a Towel! I don’t believe it is just a coincidence, there truly is something behind the power of the Terry Cloth that makes a situation better, or at least memorable for the person in control.  I guess for now, however, it will remain one of those questions that God and I discuss someday, after JFK, Jimmy Hoffa, Area 51 and Dodo Birds.

I’m not sure what the next turn in my life will be, however, I am almost certain that before the final curtain, there will be a towel somewhere, and I will probably need it, to again absorb something important.  Regardless, it’s a sign I have grown comfortable seeing, and have truly learned that life isn’t always a beach, even if you do have a great towel.

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