Wake up Darling

In: Mom's Oracles, TNT (Think Nice Thoughts)

You know those dreams you have from which you desperately do not want to wake? Imagine if that was just your brain showing you what life could be like if only you would wake up and do whatever it is that you’re dreaming. What if what it is that distinguishes you from others who seem to reach out effortlessly and take hold of that fruit and take a big bite is simply that you refuse to believe that it’s possible? That somehow you are stuck in this false conception that sleeping is for dreaming and waking is just living without dreams. Picture. Plan. Pursue. Persist. Persevere. Play.

dreams

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You Go Girl!

In: TNT (Think Nice Thoughts)

She is called the “Queen of YouTube” which I find peculiar since a queen is an inherited position, not one that is earned. Savvy, sassy, and astute, I’d say she is the Shakespeare of YouTube; her performances appeal to the bawdy, brawny, and brainy. In case you aren’t aware, she is known as Jenna Marbles, and I simply adore her. I am not alone- she has over a million subscribers, one of whom wrote the following:

I’m 9 million years older than Ms. Marbles. But her videos hooked me right from the start.

Depending on your age, gender, I.Q., and views about 21st Century America’s idiot culture, her online musings can be interpreted on multiple levels. To some fans, she’s simply the big sister they’d love to have. To others, she’s a hot chick without a filter. And to many, she’s actually an astute social subversive, cleverly disguised as a suburban stoner/bimbo.

That’s why her fans range from teenage girls to crusty retirees. And it’s why — provided she refuses to accept calls from Lorne Michaels — she probably has a very cool future ahead.

In an ABC interview on her billionth click, the interviewer makes fun of Jenna’s constant use of the word “ridiculous” when she describes aspects of her popularity and the on-line video content of her weekly videoblog to which Ms. Mourey replied, “Because it is.” (The poor gal only sees the bawdy. She is missing out.) I happen to agree with the subscriber quoted above. And then there are those parents out there who find her swearing to be inappropriate and want her vids removed from the internet. To them I say, “Go fuck yourselves!” (Heh, see the bawdy?)

What is tragically left out of the interview and lost on both complaining mothers and feminazis alike is that she does what she wants, when she wants, where she wants, and is able to be financially self-sufficient and independent while having fun. Yay her! I can only hope the same for myself and my children and anyone else for that matter. Speaking of children, thanks to my snarky girl, Aziza, for turning me on to Jenna’s channel.

Here are two of her videos, including her most recently published and then my person favorite of those I’ve seen. I recommend you not be drinking a beverage while viewing as you may spurt.

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Remorseful Morsels

In: Mish-mash, TNT (Think Nice Thoughts)

My mom was never much of a cook. I am not sure if that is because she didn’t know how, didn’t have time, or didn’t have interest, but as I get older, I am able to relate to more of her and think that it may be because she wasn’t appreciated.

Growing up in Oregon, we had strawberries, rhubarb, raspberries, apples and blackberries in our backyard; everyone did. One of, if not the fondest memory I have of my mom is of her making blackberry jam from the berries we picked in the alleyway that connected our house to our neighbor’s. Fingers stained and t-shirts dotted with juice and the occasional swipe of a hand, my brothers and I, along with the neighbor kids, ate as many as we picked and bagged while she stirred and poured in a hot, steamy kitchen. I only recall her doing that once, though the memory is as familiar to me as if it was an annual event. The jam was good so why did she stop? Did we kids make a mess? I’m sure. Did her arthritic back get stiff standing so long? Probably. What happened to make the juice not worth the squeeze?

When I think of that memory, I cannot help but add to it the other cooking classic- her chili. We kids would eat it, along with cornbread muffins, rather than ice cream if given the choice. The making of it included chopping cup upon cup of onions that would have her standing at the counter with tears streaming down her cheeks. With knife in hand she was powerless when we kids would come up behind her and jiggle her butt. We were of course quite young to get away with or to even want to do such a thing but it caused us all to laugh hysterically. The entire experience was satisfying to the palette, to the appetite, and to the soul. We were so enamored with the result that I suggested she could make extra money by making it in bulk and we kids could sell it to people as they pulled up in front of the house. What a compliment it must have been to her. In addition to chili, she prepared five other dishes and only those five. We would tease her about it to everyone and her response was always the same:  “I make what you kids will all eat”. So those five, an occasional TV dinner or a treat of pizza or Chinese, as well as dinner with her parents, made up the full week’s menu. We were all fed and there were never leftovers.

By the time we were all teenagers, sports, friends, and boredom with her limited menu, meant that we seldom were home for dinner. We left her to eat alone and pretty soon, she just didn’t cook any longer, which made me even more critical of her and her lack of creativity, enthusiasm, and commitment to making meals for her family. It became one more reason to withdraw affection from her, as if puberty and teenage angst wasn’t enough. It never once occurred to me that she could have been going out to eat on dates, dining at friends’ homes, as she is a lovely conversationalist whose laugh sounds like music and with a charm and wit that graciously spares a room those dreaded dull pauses. All I knew is that I was never going to be like her and thankfully so.

IMAG1283As Gomer Pyle would say, “Surprise, surprise, surprise!” I am just like my mom, except for three things: I have a daughter who is fiercely loyal, respectful, and honoring of me, almost to a fault, and who is the creator of the handiwork featured in this post; I have a son who loves to cook and who has assisted me, competed with me, and cooked for me, adding to all that I taught him; and I have a son who is a reminder of what it is like to be an angsty, angry teenager, but whose saving grace is that he is much more compassionate than I was and therefore will dole out compliments along with the criticisms.

So what does that mean for today? It means that I get to build on those fond memories that I have of my mom, as well as pay her the respect that she so deserved that I neglected to give her when I was young. With each morning comes a day without any mistakes in it. In the midst of writing this, I called my mom and told her how much I missed her and how I regret that I live so far away. I read her the beginning of this memoir which she found so sad which left me crying and my mom doing what mom’s do- telling me how much she loves me and to not cry because there is still time.

Bradley Beach, Perspective

In: Mom's Oracles, TNT (Think Nice Thoughts)

It is absolutely true that two people can be standing nearly side-by-side and yet have incredibly different experiences in what they see. I was thinking about this very thing while walking along Bradley Beach toward Asbury Park recently. And how fun it was to witness such a visual aid that serves as a bookmark for those thoughts in the contrasting views- and even more thrilling, the ambiance- on either side of the pilings along the seashore..

IMAG1228It was one of those days that has occurred so frequently in the area for the last few weeks where beautiful sunshine filled the morning skies inviting a chilly wind to come for lunch, and with it, a sort of despair filled the air as I looked out to where Sandy had wreaked havoc. I paused for a moment to focus in on something that had caught my eye a hundred feet back. If you look closely, you will see a little fella sitting right up on top, along with a couple of seagulls. He was looking out yonder obviously captivated by something in the distance. So I walked through to the other side of the structure to get a better look at his perspective.

It wasn’t a little boy at all as I’d thought, but an old man-a wooden one at that, whom I called Kevin.

IMAG1230He looked so happy perched up in the air with the birds sharing his seat. Who can blame him with the sun shining on his face like that? Apparently, he made it through the storm unscathed, though it must have been quite a ride with a 15′ surge rushing up on him. He remained steadily looking west and viewing the close of the day. Warmed by the sun, even on what had appeared a cold, friendless, and somber scene, that from his seat, wasn’t at all; it was glorious and happy, with the promise that eventually, the sun shines again after every storm regardless of perspective. A nice reminder to always be looking toward the sun which will always rise to bring about a new dawn, a new day, and a new life.

Gull-ability

In: Mish-mash, TNT (Think Nice Thoughts)

It has been years since I read Johnathon Livingston Seagull and I do believe that I am overdue to read it again. The story has long been forgotten, but the impact has remained. And until today, when I came across some Bach quotes from the book, I could not tell you what the story was about nor what Johnathon’s quest was. How appropriate though that I read it when I was 10 or 11 which coincided with some life-changing events that have made me what I am today. So despite forgetting the story, quotes like the following must have implanted themselves in my mind as I can often be heard saying something similar.

He spoke of very simple things- that it is right for a gull to fly, that freedom is the very nature of his being, that whatever stands against that freedom must be set aside, be it ritual or superstition or limitation in any form.

“Set aside,” came a voice from the multitude, “even if it be the Law of the Flock?”

“The only true law is that which leads to freedom,” Jonathan said. “There is no other.”
Richard Bach, Jonathan Livingston Seagull

And what spirit lies in all of creation that it overcomes in order to survive and thrive? The seagull that is featured on this post was one I came across while in Del Ray Beach, Florida last spring. He was separated from the flock…and had only one leg. I know nothing about seagulls so I can hardly speculate if it was alone because it left the flock or because it was being ostracized. Regardless, it was so proud and confident despite its handicap. Maybe it was unaware. Maybe it didn’t matter since flight is its natural state, not standing.

And so it is with humans. Freedom is out natural state. And I feel most free when I am dancing. The unencumbered movement of twirling is symbolic to me of the innate artistry of the spiral that is imprinted on all of creation. Therein lies perfection. My challenge to you is to find that which makes you feel free and to rest in that bliss. The bliss of being you.

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Perspective

In: TNT (Think Nice Thoughts)

Perspective is everything. And when one is able to adequately communicate his or her’s, it is truly a magnificent thing. I love what the creators of this short video did with my beloved NYC. And the timeliness for me could not be more appropriate as I was just walking from downtown to uptown the other night, in the rain, and thinking how very different it looks to me each time I visit. Enjoy!

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Liberty to Do What is Right

In: Mish-mash, Mom's Oracles, TNT (Think Nice Thoughts)

Growing up in the 70’s, I recall hearing “It’s a free world,” often. It was typically a response said with a tone of defiance. Whenever I heard it, I cringed; something did not sit right with me, because it sounded more like “Go fuck yourself!” than a joyous expression of humanity. As one who has always loved being unrestrained, I have enjoyed the ability to move about with my body, think and express myself in an assortment of ways, and live with passion. Those times when I was not able to do so was crushing to my spirit. Being free was my source for joy, unencumbered expression, and the communication of my unique self, not an opportunity to be rude, inconsiderate, nor offensive, which is what seemed to be the goal of those most often heard saying “It’s a free world.”

Liberty means the ability to have absolute freedom to do whatever you wish, with the caveat that you not jeopardize another’s liberty. In its most basic form, that idea is summed up with the Non-aggression Principle.  http://

However, I dare say that we can take it even further. The Bible states in 1 Corinthians 10:23 that “All things are lawful for me, but not all things are helpful; all things are lawful for me, but not all things edify.” I shared a version of that quote with my very dear friend, Derrick J, a couple of years ago and despite not being a fan of Paul who is credited with writing it, he loved the concept and agreed wholeheartedly with the sentiment. (He has the liberty to agree with what someone may say even if he doesn’t like the person. Inherent in that is wisdom.) It is easy to understand when you consider that one is free to eat junk food, but it is not in one’s best interest. But what about when it is simply abstaining from eating meat because your guest is a vegetarian?

Somehow people have lost their way on this concept however. The act may be something as small as using foul language in the presence of mixed company, claiming, “It’s my party, I can do what I want,” even though it offends the very guests you are hosting, or being late for appointments (something I have been guilty of and am successfully overcoming). Or it can be something far more egregious. I’m free to huck loogies onto the sidewalk, but it is unsightly to others; I’m free to have trash in my yard and not maintain my home, but it offends my neighbor who has to look at it; I’m free to call all those who believe contrary to me “Idiots,” but it is unkind.

Ultimately, isn’t it in my own best interest to be thoughtful, kind, and considerate, exercising the most rigorous of self-government? I have the best chance of having the most friends, the most peaceful existence, and the greatest opportunity for a network of people who will treat me with the same consideration. So liberty is not simply having the ability to do whatever you want; it is also having the liberty to do what is good.

I was challenged by TSA while on my way back from Las Vegas in December when I helped Travelin’ Val with her bags. She has spina bifida and quite clearly could not remove the things from her chair before being searched “for everyone’s safety.” Despite there being 9 agents within 30 feet of her and a near empty airport, not a single one of them lifted a finger to help her. I assured her that once I was on the other side, I would also lift her bags back onto her chair and that she would not be left alone. And for that act of charity, I was rewarded with a second and third search by these same agents who claimed that only someone with something to hide would help a person like that. I was horrified. I asked one of the women why she didn’t help her herself and she said, “Because I don’t have to.” Now that is what happens when people look to an authority outside of themselves to determine their course of action.

We must be diligent in our efforts to stand firm in our humanity. And that means maintaining the dialog of respect for others that is outlined by the Non-aggression Principle, as well as denying ourselves when there is an opportunity to treat someone else to a kindness, convenience, or charity that does not compromise our integrity or principles. Rest assured that if you are a vegetarian and a guest in my home, there will be food prepared special for you; if you are Muslim, we will not be eating pork; and if you are a recovering addict, I will not be lighting up a joint in front of you and will be serving raspberry lemonade and not my near famous whisky sours.

Stand Fast

In: Mish-mash, Mom's Oracles, TNT (Think Nice Thoughts)

Everyone knows the story of how Jesus was sent into the desert to be tempted by the devil. I’ve heard many sermons on it myself with pastors often focusing on whether it was just of God to allow Him to be tempted, or if Jesus, a member of the Trinity could actually be tempted, if He is in fact God. Few times, if ever, has there been a connection to what preceded His right of passage. For those who may not know, He was baptized by John after which time, the heavens opened up and the Spirit of God descended upon Him and a voice from heaven said, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”

It was directly after that accolade, the pinnacle of success, when Jesus was led into a trial that would challenge His commitment, His integrity, His perseverance, and His willingness to sacrifice short-term gain for long-term success. Similarly, after the Triumphant Entry when He rode into town with palm fronds laid down before Him, and rose petals tossed upon Him like a hero who has returned from battle in glory, He faced the Garden of Gethsemane. The night of anguish that He endured alone without even the support of His best friends or family to see Him through as they’d all fallen asleep on Him.

How many times have I reached a point in my life when I have done the right thing, taken the high road, had praise heaped upon me only to immediately be confronted with an almost unbearable challenge that has left me calling out, “God, why have you forsaken me?” Does that happen to you? If so, try and remind yourself that Jesus, Himself, set an example for us and in so doing showed Himself to be fully Man. He whined, cried, hungered, suffered, and pleaded for mercy. There is no shame there. But He didn’t quit.

I jokingly told someone who proudly wore ashes upon her forehead on Ash Wednesday as a symbol, not of humility nor surrender, but of pride and superiority, that I don’t give anything up for Lent because God doesn’t like quitters. But I was only partially joking. What He calls us to do is “Stand fast.” We are not called to sacrifice, but to endure to the end, whether that is the end of a trial, or the end of our life. In order to do that though, we must keep our eye on the prize. For me, that prize is creating a legacy for my children to point to and say to their children, and their children to their children, “Your grandma was exceptional in every way that is stalwart and true.”

We are all loved by God. We are cherished like all of creation, only more so, as we are made in His image. And for you parents out there, you know what that is like…even when you are irritated with your child, you still love him without reservation and would do anything for him. So it is with God. He loves you without reservation. So the next time you are faced with a trial, give a moment of thanks that you are counted worthy of the challenge, man up, and say, “I got this,” knowing that the One who led you in, will also lead you out. He wants to see you succeed.

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Etoile, My Heartsong

In: Mish-mash, TNT (Think Nice Thoughts)

The barrage was pelting down on the roof with machine gun speed and repetition, while the rainwater gushed down the drainpipes creating reservoirs around our downtown Nashville home. It was a terrible storm for sure but nobody had any idea that the water would cause such severe flooding- the nearby Cumberland River rose to 50 feet, more than 12 feet above flood level. People died, homes were destroyed, and the music capital of the world suffered devastation as the legacy stored in the city’s catacombs, as well as the Grand Ole Opry itself, succumbed to Mother Nature’s deluge. Not even animals were safe.

So when my teenage sons came bolting downstairs from the 3rd story, nearly hysterical, and motioning for me to hurry, I felt the panic a mother feels when her child is in distress with added drama from the violence being hurled from the heavens. As I stepped into the boys’ attic bedroom, my first thought was “What the hell are you two doing with the window open?” But then I saw what it was that had them so upset. There was a baby bird that had fallen into their window onto their shelf. Tiny, vulnerable, with its breast barely moving, eyes shut.

031“Mom, it just fell in,” my youngest said breathlessly, with desperation in his voice. “I opened the window just for a second and it just fell in. Can you save it?’

Could I save it? Looking at my sons who had brought me rodents, bunnies, a bird who had gotten caught in chicken wire, and even insects, with heartbreak and hopefulness, I knew that something magical was happening. My eldest son was already well on his way to thinking that I was an idiot, but the youngest still believed that I could do anything. I was going to do everything I could to save this bird, not only for the bird’s sake but also to give my son a reason for his trust.

That first night, the storm raged, and I worried. The bird, whom I had named “Etoile Volant”, Falling Star was brand new, possibly even just hatched. Without a momma to nestle it, keeping her warm was going to be a problem. I made a “nest” in a heart-shaped candy box stuffing it with grass I’d dried and torn-up paper towel. I set her (I decided she was female) atop the nest and rested the box inside of a shoe box and placed a plastic water bottle filled with warm water next to it to radiate heat. All night I fretted from inside my room, falling asleep just before dawn.

That morning, I bolted upright as soon as I awoke and ran downstairs. She wasn’t moving and my heart dropped. I used my index finger and rubbed her a bit wondering how I was going to tell my son. And then I felt the tiniest movement. She was alive! I was so thrilled. Over the next few days, the challenge was keeping her warm and feeding her. I used medical tweezers to pry open her mouth and insert mushed-up worms and a water dropper to wash them down using filtered water and the teeniest bit of 020sugar. I had no idea what I was doing. But three days of that and she was squacking loudly and eating up to eighteen worms a day!

The waters had subsided but the damage was everywhere. My eldest son’s swim coach had lost his home; friends had lost their businesses; and there was a chance that Etoile had lost her momma. I took her outside where I taught her to perch in a tree and even tossed her in the air, hoping flying was an instinct. As I did it, it seemed “flap or fall” was the name of the game. And starting that third day, I sat her in the middle of our lawn trusting that if her momma had made it, she would see or hear her as she had become quite vocal, much to the chagrin of my eldest son.

And on the 5th day, we were blessed to capture on film the first worm fed to our little beauty by another bird who we imagined to be her mother. After feeding, little Etoile was hidden away in the bushes where she resided for a couple of days after which she was strong enough to go further. It was my first experience of “letting go” of a baby and prepared me for my daughter who “flew the coop” at the end of that summer. She was also a lesson to my children of the affection and tireless care I was able to give that helpless thing and a picture of what I must have been like when they were infants.

I may have saved her life but she gave me a beautiful opportunity to love; she gave my children an opportunity to see me in a way they had not before; and she was a reminder of how even in the midst of a storm, life persists if you can endure the struggle and have a little help along the way.

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Hugs For a Better World

In: Mish-mash, TNT (Think Nice Thoughts)

I have said for as long as I can remember that I need a minimum of four hugs per day. With my three children around me for over 20 years, I was able to get more than that by a long shot. So when they ceased to be plentiful in my life, it is no wonder that I became depressed, sick, and lonely.

This article is a good one explaining a bit of the benefits of hugs. But what happens when you don’t have friends or family around to give you that much-needed hug? Well if you live near the Jersey Shore and happen to run into Andrew Kurywczak you are sure to get at least one. He is credited with giving over a 1000 in one weekend in the wake of Storm Sandy. free hugsHe claims that November 16th changed his life forever. Imagine what it did for those whom he hugged? Be the change you want to see in the world. Way to go, Andrew!

Wrap your arms around someone, press your hearts together, let your mind be stilled, your spirit comforted, your body refreshed.

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