Be Sure to Wear Some Flowers in Your Hair

Happy 4th of July! Though it’s already past for some people and late on the west coast.

It’s been a long day. A good one, but long.

This morning I had an early morning flight from Denver to San Francisco. I’m here for work for the PMDMC (Public Media Development and Marketing Conference).

I arrived early afternoon and was glad the hotel had a room ready that I could check in. After partially unpacking, I grabbed my film camera, put on my backpack and headed out.

First I trekked up toward Chinatown. After venturing around there for a bit listening to some of the street musicians, people watching,  and taking some photos, I wandered into outer areas.

Coming across a thrift store, I popped in and had a look around.

It was getting late in the afternoon and I was hungry so I headed back to the hotel.

After meeting with my boss and looking at where our booth will be set up tomorrow, and talking some logistics, she and I went to dinner at a gastropub the concierge recommended.

We had a nice dinner and even shared a yummy chocolate mousse dessert.

Then we returned to the hotel to turn in and get a good night’s sleep before a big day tomorrow.

I keep nodding off, so I’ll get to the point.

Day 12:

I am grateful for the fabulous day I had today in San Francisco.

 

Yes!

Hello again! You thought I was going to ‘cheat’ and skip a post, eh? Nope!

Today is the 11th day of my gratitude pledge, and here is my 11th post.

A couple of evenings ago when my sweetheart and I were making plans for Saturday, I suggested we go to a park that we’ve never been to, in a different part of town, take books with us, and read for at least an hour. The avid reader he is, he was all in for the idea.

So Saturday afternoon, as mentioned in my post this morning, we went to City Park in Denver with our lawn chairs and books.  We relaxed on the greens in the midst of family picnics, cyclists, children playing, geese waddling across the greens, joggers, and others simply soaking up the environment.

It was so fabulous. I tell myself often that I’m going to read more, and I have been better about allowing myself to sit with a book and get lost in the pages. However, at home it is tough to not get distracted. So many times I’ll get up to do ‘one thing’ which ends up being a million tasks that have to be done before I can justify sitting down again and reading.  Or it’s at night in bed, and I read one page and fall asleep.

So, not only was being in this pretty surrounding exhilarating, but it also enabled me to really get caught up in what I was reading.

It was so enjoyable, when we were leaving, I said we should do something similar again tomorrow–which is today. With me having a lot on my plate in preparation for a flight tomorrow, my sweetheart said the best way to make that happen would be if we got out the door first thing in the morning. And though it was a treat to be somewhere new yesterday, we also knew of beautiful locations closer to home, too.

Early this morning, we popped up, got ready, brewed coffee for our venture, and got out the door as planned.

We drove to McCall Lake, only 10 minutes from where we live, and found a nice spot on the lake. We set up our chairs and toasted the morning with our coffee travel mugs.  Then we each sank into our chairs and allowed ourselves to laze in the early sun and get swept away by the words at our fingertips.

I was reading Shonda Rhimes’ Year of Yes. Rhimes explains early on that for a number of years she said ‘no’ to everything. After her sister called her out on it, she committed to saying ‘yes’ to everything for one year.

She writes that saying ‘yes’ began to arise in other areas of her life other than just socially, including saying ‘yes’ to playing with her children if they asked, even if she was in a ball gown and expected to be at an event already. And she mentions that being the workaholic she is, and raising three children, she realized that saying ‘yes’ also meant allowing herself time to her own. Whether it was a glass of wine, a bubble bath or perhaps both, it was important to say ‘yes’ to time for herself.

With so much to do today, I could have seen me very easily talking myself out of doing anything but laundry, checking that I have the tasks checked off my list since I will be gone for a few days, packing, and making sure that I have everything in order for my trip.

But I didn’t. Instead, I showed up for me. I did what gave me most enjoyment first thing in the day. I said ‘yes’ to me.


Day 11:

I am grateful for this joyful, sunny morning with my sweetheart, reading by the lake.

Now I have to go, I really do have laundry and packing to do!

 

Getting a Good Connection

SPOILERS: Paterson, the Jim Jarmusch movie which my sweetheart and I watched Friday evening, is referenced in this post.

Part of me hopes that you were wondering where my ‘gratitude’ post was yesterday. It’s nice to be missed. However, I’m guessing most people were going on about their lives and enjoying the holiday weekend completely unaware. Either way, I appreciate how you spent your day.

Having mentioned to my sweetheart what I was grateful for yesterday, he said last night as we were driving home from a really nice day together that I could write my post last night, and publish it this morning. Then he corrected himself, realizing that would defeat the purpose.  Because I wouldn’t likely want to handwrite and then have to type up this article, creating it last night would have meant powering up my computer.

Paterson, the movie, isn’t for everyone. It isn’t a high-powered action film. It isn’t a tearjerker. No lycra or leather-wearing superheroes. It isn’t a big, long guffaw.

However, it is a small and consistent story. And Adam Driver’s performance as a bus driver named Paterson who lives and works in the same city he was born in, and that bears the name Paterson also, is one of the most beautiful, subtle characters I’ve witnessed on screen.

Parts were enjoyable, but there were no big moments that really come at you as an audience member and push the plot along. At points I was waiting for something to happen. Eventually I realized that in a gentle manner, I had been brought in and was side by side with Paterson, experiencing along with him, his day to day, never-changing existence.

Paterson might seem like a very simple man, with little ambition. His complacent reactions to his environment, including the continuous coaxing of his girlfriend who has her own big dreams, could be deemed as him being content.

But I’d like to believe if there were a sequel, we’d see him less okay with how things are and a touch more assertive. I realize though, that is me transferring my feelings as to what a happy life looks like to me onto this bus driver who shares his poems only with his girlfriend.

Maybe that is the brilliance to Paterson. It has a beginning, middle, and an end, but the movie doesn’t tell us everything. The character doesn’t have any lengthy monologues where he jumps up and screams how happy, or how unhappy, he is with how his life is going. He doesn’t put his head down with self-pity and sob, or pull everyone up and tell them how wonderful everything is, regardless their troubles.

We only have what we see in Driver’s subdued, and genuine, never over-the-top reactions to everyone elses woes and dreams. We can use our personal experience and our own imagination to appreciate the story.

One of the ways Paterson is able to remain less affected is his attitude toward technology. He is one of the few people in the United States under the age of 80 who does not have a cell phone.

From Paterson:

Screen Shot 2017-07-03 at 12.18.54 PM

Paterson explains to his bartender friend that he doesn’t have a cell phone because he doesn’t want to be connected.

Although I appreciate being able to communicate when I need to, and the benefits of being able to pull out my phone and instantly check the weather, the news, the movie listings, my Facebook page, Twitter, my eBay listings, three email accounts, and of course if there are any boots on sale at Nordstrom Rack, how necessary is it on a daily basis? And for some people, countless times per day, probably more out of habit than need, they are pulling their phones out and ‘connecting’.

I did have my phone with me yesterday, but I made the decision to not go on the Internet. I texted only once when my sweetheart needed a message sent to a friend.  He was driving, so I sent it for him.

I left my iPad at home. I’d originally brought along my laptop computer since we didn’t know when we left the house exactly what the day would hold and I might want to write somewhere, but I made a decision early on to keep it in the bag in the car.

We took books and went to a park in Denver, sat side-by-side in lawn chairs, had a picnic and read with rock and roll tunes playing from an old radio. We walked hand-in-hand at Cherry Creek Arts festival up and down each booth-lined street enjoying the variety of artists and their unique works. We met some of the artists and we chatted between ourselves at times how various art affected us individually. We sat outside at Bad Daddy’s Burgers in the evening light and chatted and laughed, after we relocated our table from inside to outside, when the perfect table opened up.

We spent the long drive home talking about our own dreams and goals, as we always do. And we talked about how Paterson had stayed with us, and our own appreciation of being able to be disconnected.  (We used to text during the day moment-to-moment occurrences, but realized this was overkill.  So, now we only text when it’s necessary to be in touch and can relax and enjoy a recap of our days in person.)

As I said, I can appreciate having the technology at my use when I need it, and sometimes not when I need it, but just enjoy being able to see what friends are up to on Facebook, or what is going on in the world. But some days it feels good to make sure I’m not too dependent on my cell phone or computer every second and not need to be connected, and in turn, open myself up to making connections in other ways.

Day 10:

I am grateful for being able to have a day where I detach from technology and connect with the people and happenings immediately in front of me.

Happy Independence Day

Thank God it’s Friday…again!

Though my day job is part time, we aren’t open on Saturday and Sunday, so I only work weekdays.

And on the weekend, I can tell I’m not doing a good job of living in the moment if a feeling of scarcity comes over me. Instead of enjoying the opportunity to do what I want and go where I please and not needing to be anywhere at any time, l think about how long I have until I go back to work Monday morning. I appreciate my job, but I will actually count down the time I have before I’ll be heading back into the office. And I’ll sort through in my mind, over and over, all the things I want to accomplish in that time.

Sometimes this comes off as budgeting my time well. But more often than not, it is fear. Fear that I will not get everything done in the time I have between leaving work and going back. Get winter clothing into bins with cedar. List items on eBay. Wash my car. Read. Write. Breathe. Limited amount of time, I feel chained to the clock. How do I get to all of it? And in worrying, I get to none of it.

However, add an extra day or two between clocking out and then back in, gives me some freedom and makes for an opportunity to relax and enjoy.

Today I respected my time and didn’t watch the clock. I was able to complete a number of tasks and also chill and enjoy a variety of things like watching a movie with my sweetheart.

And look at me! I’m not panicked and I’m getting this gratitude post written before the day is over.

Gratitude Day 9:

I am grateful for long weekends as I learn to embrace the moments.

 

Happy Feet

Friday of a holiday weekend and I had the afternoon to myself.

The sun didn’t seem to know whether to stay in or out all day and I was just as indecisive.

Should I go home and do some cleaning? Run errands?

Then it came to me, with the chill in the air, and after a week of a lot of lifting and preparing for an upcoming trip for work, I could use a therapeutic treat.

I put ‘manicure’ into my Maps app. Several salons in the vicinity came up on the screen.

The past few times I’ve treated myself to having my nails done I wasn’t particularly impressed with any of the pedicures. When I go to a salon, I’m not only looking to have someone paint my toes while staying in the lines better than I could.

Heck no, I am looking for the whole experience.

One of the businesses that came up on my phone was called Lush Nails. I liked the name and it was relatively close, so I headed in that direction, figuring I could pop my head in and see if I liked the atmosphere.

Walking into the salon, I was happy to see they weren’t extremely crowded. I thought for certain the place would be packed with customers waiting to get their fingernails and toenails painted with fireworks and flags for the holiday. But only a few other people were in the seats ahead of me flipping through magazines or texting on their phones.

One of the manicurists pulled the mask off her mouth and said “Hello, may I help you.” I expressed that I’d like a pedicure and she pointed to a wall opposite her loaded with tons of nail polish bottles and said, “Pick a color.”

Though, no news to you, I often have difficulty making decisions, this is a time I actually appreciate having a choice to make. I am going to decide what color I will be seeing on my toes for however long the pedicure lasts.

I held a variety of bottles toward my feet to see if I liked the colors as I looked down at them. Next I tested a few different hues on my fingernails with individual strokes of color. Finally I opted for a purplish pink.

My manicurist ‘Jennifer’ showed me to the seat. I sat down, took off my sneakers, then lowered my feet into the tub of soothing, warm water with jets running.

Ahhhhhhh.

Assuring Jennifer the water was not too hot, I eased back into my seat. As she began tending to my toes I picked up the remote on the armrest and pushed the power button. The massage rollers began kneading my back and I reached into my purse and pulled out one of the books I’m currently reading, Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott.

Pedi2

For the next 30 minutes I was in heaven.

Jennifer massaged my feet and was making my toes look pretty, the massage chair rollers were going up and down my back, working away some of the aches and tightness from the week, and I was able to sit there and enjoy reading a book. I was in the moment, and every part of me was appreciating it.

Waiting for the paint to dry on my toes, and savoring the experience, a 20-something girl whose long fingernails were drying asked what book I was reading. When I told her the title, she asked what it was about. I described the book as best I could. She said it sounded like it was filled with things that would be really helpful for her. I love when something I’m enjoying reading inspires others as well.

Salons can be a great place for some solo time and a great place to connect. Today I was able to do some of both.

Two of my favorite quotes from Bird by Bird:

“Because this business of becoming conscious, of being a writer, is ultimately about asking yourself, How alive am I willing to be?”
Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life

“Don’t look at your feet to see if you are doing it right. Just dance.”
Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life

Day 8
I am grateful for allowing myself the gift of a pedicure for my body, soul, and my very happy feet.

Pedi

 

 

 

 

 

A Perfect Post with a Perfect Title

It’s interesting to me, or maybe not really all that interesting, but a passing thought, how much time I can spend trying to think of an idea for a blog post. There are a million things I could write about, but they go so quickly through my mind, and I give them no regard because they aren’t ‘good enough’.  I’m looking for something better, stronger, the perfect idea.

All this with even knowing perfectionism is one of the biggest things that crushes creativity.

With the field being narrowed down to gratitude for the next few weeks, you’d think it would help me focus and put a light on a subject and go with it.

I know I’m grateful for so many things in my life. However, today I’m struggling as I attempt to break through the need for the perfect idea.

In the past there have been times I sat at my computer and was frustrated for what seemed hours–begging, pleading for something to feel right and genuine. And occasionally after banging my head against the table, I’d take several breaths and could loosen up and forego the possibility that there is an ideal topic.

And when I do let go, more often than not, almost miraculously, the words come.

But today! Ugh! What to write?

I’m going to contemplate the idea of space and time to let ideas grow, to develop, and I’ll trust that they will come.  In the meantime, some days might not be for contemplation, but just going with what does, or doesn’t, appear on the page.

And I have to be good with that.

Day 7, one week:

I am grateful that when I couldn’t think up the perfect blog post, this became it.

Working Girl

After being gone for almost a year between my time with Daddy and my time regrouping in the mountains, when I returned to Lyons, the small town I live in with my sweetheart, I decided to focus on making a short film. And as soon as I had it shot, I would look for work.

I obviously had to quit my job at Nordstrom Rack when I was in Ohio. Going back there was a thought, but all decision-making was put off until I finished the movie.

Several weeks before my film shoot, my sweetheart emailed me and told me an acquaintance of his had just posted on Facebook that the business he and his wife owned, VisABILITY, was hiring. My sweetheart said the job description looked like something right up my alley.

To be honest, my first thought was that it was too soon. I wasn’t ready to work, I needed to produce a film.

However, after going in and meeting Janice, and Ed and Mo (Maureen), and learning more about the company, I was enticed.

As they describe it, they are in the ‘t-shirts and coffee mug’ business. VisABILITY ships the gifts that donors receive when they contribute to NPR and many other public radio stations around the country.

And they were looking for someone to handle the fulfillment portion of the business.

In the interview I was asked if I listened to public radio, though it wasn’t a prerequisite. I told them that if I’m not listening to a book on CD in the car, chances are I have on NPR. Fresh Air is my favorite program and I even came up with an idea for a rubber bracelet with ‘WWTS?’ (‘What would Terry say?’) on it.  Oftentimes when frustrated with a situation and not sure how I want to respond to a person, my sweetheart will ask, “What would Terry Gross say?”

If not familiar with how well Gross is able to keep a calm demeanor regardless of her guest, check out her interview with Gene Simmons.

Everyone at VisABILITY was so nice, and my sweetheart was right, the job seemed suited for me.

Originally I wasn’t sure if I wanted to go back to work yet, but when I was offered the position a couple of weeks later, I realized it was a good opportunity and said yes.

John_JanicePentax

John and Janice. Boston, 2016

The business was started 30 years ago by John Burke and his wife, Janice Gavan Burke, who is sole owner since John passed away recently. I am fortunate to have had the little time I was able to be around John, who had been diagnosed with leukemia some time before I was hired. He was a unique, opinionated, inspiring man. Even in his last weeks he continued to develop the two books he was writing.

IMG_0036This next week will mark one year since I’ve been at VisABILITY. The job itself has had some challenges, like learning a software program that is new to the company. And there is a lot of lifting.

Overall, the people I work with are great, I have a healthy combination of on-my-feet parts to the job and desk work, and it is a cool industry to be in.

And did I mention? The commute is about two blocks.

Day 6:

I am grateful for my job.

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