Wednesday, November 25, 2009

It's Thanksgiving tomorrow. Where did the past year go?

In any case, tomorrow is a day to remind all of us that gratitude is a very important part of our lives. And I am reminded, and I want to share a few things I am grateful for.

Absolutely #1 on my list: my children. I know people will think that maybe I have things out of order, but without my children, I wouldn't appreciate how important the remainder of the list is.

My children have taught me the importance of patience, unconditional love, tolerance, dedication, repitition, forgiveness, faith, hope, shared meals, traditions, get-to-gethers, family, fun, laughter and honesty.

I can't thank them enough.

More later....

Sunday, November 22, 2009

One Two Many

Sometimes the line is VERY thin between what's OK and what's not OK.

In conversations, one too many opinions can halt the discussion instantly.

In relationships, one too many criticisms can divide two people beyond repair.

In life, one too many challenges can seem overwhelming and lead to behaviors caused by one too many stresses.

In the kitchen, we all know the old adage that too many cooks ruin the soup.

In business, too many chiefs create gridlock in decision making and forward progress.

In love, one too many half-truths can destroy trust.

In social events, one too many drinks can change acceptable behavior into unacceptable behavior.

Sometimes 50 is not too many, sometimes 3 is, it depends on the situation, but moderation in all things is a good rule no matter what the situation.

One may be the loneliest number, but sometimes two is "one two many".

It's up to each of us to recognize where OUR line is;some of us can creep close to the line and linger there without danger of crossing over, but others of us need to keep a large buffer between the line and where we are, recognizing our weaknesses and not welcoming temptation beyond our ability to manage it.

And isn't this exactly what life is all about? Managing ourselves. Avoiding temptation. Controlling our desires. Biting our tongues. Curbing our appetites. Finding our center.  Bringing the reality of opposition in all things to a perfect understanding of peace and joy in our souls. Forming our identity. Claiming our place. Determining our destiny.

Learning to drive through life, belting in for the ride, reading the manual, following good examples, maneuvering the curves, heeding the warning signs, practicing defensive living, watching for others who aren't as cognizant of these things, noticing and stopping for people whose lives cross our life's path, and never, ever crossing the double yellow line. Not even hugging it...

...because sometimes in life we need a buffer and sometimes even one time is one two many.

Three Dog Night "One"

Saturday, November 21, 2009


It comes without warning. The thought can slide through your mind so quickly that if you aren't paying attention you might miss it. It leaves no mark or reminder that it was there and you find yourself wondering if it was real.

Sometimes life takes strange turns that force strategic maneuvering and a reassessment of your intended direction, a need to listen carefully for clues, for hints, for that gut feeling you have always been able to trust,  for revelation.

Sometimes you make a choice based on a fear that you will never have the opportunity to revisit that moment of reality again and you want to hold onto it; sometimes you make a choice based on a fear that you will have the opportunity to repeat or revisit or rekindle something, and you are afraid to take that chance again. It's a choice of heading in the right direction that might turn your life around, or heading in an exactly opposite direction and just repeating things you would rather forget.

Revelation comes in handy at these forks in the road - choosing to go one way because you want to experience a place or person or emotion again, or choosing to go the other way because you DON'T want to repeat that experience again, or anything similar to it.

But revelation takes preparation. You have to spend time mulling things over, sorting through your thoughts, defining your choices. Then, you have to listen. And finally, you have to pay attention, because just listening isn't enough. Jumping to conclusions, making knee-jerk decisions and hasty judgments does not allow time for this critical time of contemplation, clarification and then direction.

And what comes next? The character-defining moment. Which fork do you take? Which direction do you follow, your own instant gratification based choice, a new and untested path in another direction, or the direction pointed out in that fleeting moment?

Character can be built over a lifetime and lost in a moment. We need to listen carefully and choose well.

As for me, I am still studying the road map. In silence. So I can listen.

Smokey Robinson and the Miracles "A Fork in the Road"

Friday, November 20, 2009

Dead Lines

I am taking a break. I have had a non-stop 3 weeks and I need some downtime. Life seems to be on a continuous fast forward and then on occasion it REALLY shifts into even higher gear and I feel as if lightening speed still doesn't cut it.

Deadlines, and more deadlines.

It's like we spend our entire life working toward deadlines, only to end our days with a "dead line" on the heart monitor.

There's something wrong with this way of living and I plan to make some serious changes very soon - hopefully not dead lining along the way. I am just over it.

Daughtrey "Over You"

Monday, November 16, 2009

No Going Back

There are choices in life that can be changed without any trouble, and there are choices in life that cannot. How you treat people and the fall out from that is rarely completely reversible, especially when the behavior is unkind, disrespectful or downright mean.

Oh sure, hugs can be shared, a hand shake can happen, apologies can be exchanged, but the lingering memory of the hurt never goes away, and that tempers every interaction from that moment on. Forgiveness may occur, but we never forget.

We never forget.

If only we could turn back time. But we can't.

The damage is done. There's never a complete going back. It's too late. Some things are lost forever in a millisecond.

There's nothing sadder in life.

Time for a Break

I woke up today - groggy, not in a great mood due to issues from the past few days, but focused enough to start working immediately and accomplish most of what I needed to.

It's amazing how simple things can get so out of control so quickly. It's a testimony to a life of silence, sobriety and living alone. I simply don't have the passion or energy to deal with certain things anymore.

So, it's time to check out again. Phone off, sunglasses on, checking out. It's been 10 years since I felt this way.

I am going to watch Monday Night Football - now tell me, does that sound like normal behavior for me?

Uhmm, no. I hate rough and tumble tough guy sports. Always have, I only go for the social interaction with people.

I hate to choose one team over the other. I feel bad for the team that loses and elated for the team that wins. I am a mess then, because I am such a baby that I experience this mixture of emotion. I cry tears of joy when I watch the excitement of the team that wins, and I feel bad for the team that shuffles off the field after losing, heads down, shoulders slumped. Everyone says "may the best team win", but I always want them both to win, I vote for a tie! A much better way to live.

Why does someone always have to win? It isn't always that black and white, except in football I guess. And then someone has to win or what would the fans do?

There are other issues where someone feels a need to "win", to be right, to be vindicated or justified, but again, that is rarely in the best interest of the whole. Winning is not a generous trait, it's a selfish trait, but it's definitely part of human nature. Competition breeds stronger, better, newer, faster, smarter, etc.

Ah well, I am off...or maybe I will just watch Dancing with the Stars, it's not quite so "tough", it's still competition at its worst, there's still a winner and a loser....but it's entertaining. Even without the social interaction of other people.

It really is time for a break.

So, as they say in dance "BREAK a leg, tough guy!" or as they say in the football huddle: BREAK!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Good Night

I woke up today in a great mood. My energy seemed high; I thought I had slept well and long enough. I bounced out of bed and started making a mental list of about 32 things that needed to get done and then cheerily worked my way through #1 (eat breakfast), #2 shower and get ready, #3 mail.

And that's it.

I never even made it to #4. I am exhausted.

I tried to start my car with my cell phone charger.

It's been almost a week since I posted here and this barely counts.

My eyes are slits.

Think maybe it's time to slow down? Oh wait, the holidays! Ok, next year then....I think I have been saying that for about 35 years.

Ah's good to be alive!

Nitey, nite...

The Beatles "Good Night"

Friday, November 6, 2009

The Holidays are in the Air

I don't know if it is simply a case of seasons changing, or if there is something in my DNA that recognizes this time of year and reacts with a renewed excitement about life. Either way, for the past few weeks I have been breathing heavily of what I consider "holiday air".

It's somethingthat is crisper, cleaner, more hopeful. I can't really define it but it is something I experienced and felt from my earliest childhood, and it comes back to me every year about this time. I can smell the holidays as they get closer and closer.

Today I was looking for "all things nine", a work-related project that had me bouncing here and there on Google. Evidently the internet detectives not only peek in at your email to find out your personal interests and issues, and they do more than just record your online searches; they must also have some way of sensing your moods, your emotions, and maybe even sniffing the air you are breathing.

I know this because as I was searching for "all things nine" when this page popped up on my screen as the result of a search engine, and my early excitement for the upcoming holidays was instantly magnified 12-fold.

Although the doctrine veers slightly from what I believe, the basic principles are the same; with the exception a statement of belief in the Catholic Church in the last description (which I personally can't declare) this is a beautiful explanation of the Twelve Days of Christmas. Personalize the last description, or the Apostle's Creed to your own beliefs, substituting your relationship with Heavenly Father in place of a belief in the Catholic Church and it applies to anyone who believes in Christ.

Normally I put Christmas out of my mind (forcefully) until after Thanksgiving Day, but this year I am welcoming it with open arms and a festive spirit. Take a look - I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

So, bring on the holidays! Gather the family, light the candles, sing the carols, wrap the presents, stir the fire, deck the halls with boughs of holly, decorate the tree, serve the hot chocolate, make the spiced cider, dance with the gingerbread man, hang the mistletoe, kiss Santa or one of his helpers, bake the cookies, go caroling, shop 'til you drop, hang the wreath, wrap the garland, string the popcorn, write a letter to Santa, take a sleigh ride, play in the snow, wear lots of red and green, hang bells on your doorknobs, fill bowls with cinnamon scented pinecones, poke oranges with cloves, boil holiday pot pourri, help out someone less fortunate, plan an open house, see The Nutcracker, listen to a Messiah CD, play Mannheim Steamroller night and day, sing along with the radio in your car, hug everyone, visit friends and relatives, mail the Christmas cards, sit on Santa's lap, make your list and check it twice, live joyfully, take fudge to your neighbors, celebrate the season, remember what it's all about (and it ain't the hokie pokie), put Christ back into Christmas, respect those who don't believe, send a package to someone serving in the military, go to church, stock up on Martinelli's and other bubblies, buy the turkey, candy the yams, mold the jello, smell those biscuits, bake the pies, lift the eggnog in a thankful toast, and be merry!

We celebrate the birth of an innocent child who became the Savior of the World. And it's joyous season that brings out the child in all of us. Maybe that's why I love it so much.

It's almost Christmas, I can smell it in the air.

Straight No Chaser "Twelve Days of Christmas"

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Top Ten Ways to Know that You Overpacked

10. You forgot 1/2 of a pair of boots and don't notice until you get home.

9. You never even got to the bottom of the suitcase while out of town.

8. You wore less than half of what you brought.

7. You actually had a choice of shoes to wear with several outfits.

6. Your shoulders ache from lugging the suitcase in and out of the car.

5. The counter agent at check in dramatically slaps a "HEAVY" sticker on the side of your suitcase, even though you are not over the weight limit.

4. Everyone that you are traveling with has smaller luggage than yours.

3. You have a clean pair of jeans to travel home in.

2. The valet at the hotel asks how much you had to pay to check "that bag".

1. Lifting the bag onto the scale at check in qualifies as your daily aerobic and weight-lifting exercise, all at once.

All Time Low "Too Much"

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Rocking Chair Heaven

I am back in the Land of Enchantment, but I will miss the heavenly land of rocking chairs.

My first visit to North Carolina was not the typical road trip/Holiday Inn trek across a state. I was privileged to spend 4 days at the Grove Park Inn in Asheville.

This amazing resort is all about ambiance and a comfortable, home-away-from home feeling. The rooms are filled with antiques; two-story high fireplaces roar at night and fill the 16' wide face with dancing flames as visitors sit (and rock, and talk) in a long line of rocking chairs as they enjoy the crackling fire.

Paned windows look out over Asheville and the colorful autumn trees creating a patchwork quilt over rolling hills, and carefully positioned two-at-a-time with a small table in-between are rocking chairs. Guests can sit and work, or make a call, or just look at the truly amazing scenery.

Various wings of the gigantic U-shaped main building have small meeting rooms tucked into and tacked onto corners. These rooms have comfortable over-stuffed couches, leather chairs and more rocking chairs.

As I was flying out earlier today, wishing I had more time to explore North Carolina, I wandered through the Charlotte Airport, and lo and behold, casually placed along over 150' of window looking out at the runways - rocking chairs again.

I love North Carolina. And I love the South. It's a beautiful place of gentile people, manners, khaki pants, yummy bbq, grits, bread pudding and lots and lots of rocking chairs.

What could be more comforting?  I am so glad I was able to visit.

And now that I am home, I think I will rock a bit in my own antique rocker.

The Jackson 5 "Rockin Robin"

Monday, November 2, 2009

So many pages, so little time

I am at the State Policy Network (SPN) Annual Conference in Asheville, North Carolina. This is my first time in the South and I am in love (again), but this time it's for real. Or at least it feels like it is. What a beautiful state North Carolina is...

Part of this conference is networking between state policy think tanks from around the nation and many of the organizations have collateral displayed on tables for us to grab. (I always have to UPS my "take" home after a conference).

Today I was perusing the tables and found a list books to read on what was called a Lifetime Reading Plan and included books such as 1984, Orwell, Atlas Shrugged, Rand, Dynamics of World History, Dawson, The Closing of the American Mind, Bloom, books on Reagan, Lincoln and more. After looking through the list of 100 books, I have decided that if I started reading tonight I might finish the list on my death bed.

I am 55 and I am still hungry for knowledge. I love the experience of learning, exploring, discovering and understanding. I love to learn. I am curious. I am like a sponge. I hunger for it, I always have.

So, to read or not to read is not even a question.

So many pages, so little time.

But I am in a beautiful place to start the journey...

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Napping in the Air

I sleep on a Tempur-Pedic.

I don't just sleep on one; I sleep very, very well on one.

I love my Tempur-Pedic, but it's not the only place I can sleep. For instance, for years I would climb into the front passenger seat for the breathtakingly beautiful drive over the Cascade Mountains from Roslyn, Washington to one of my all-time favorite cities, Seattle. I would be snoring within 10 minutes, mouth gapping, head-bobbing, fellow passengers irritated, indescribably scenery flying by unnoticed by closed eyes.

Today I sat on a plane - a different passenger seat, but a passenger seat no less - next to a first time flyer. She was alternately in awe and fear as the plane taxied, lifted, flew, bumped, descended and then landed. It was fun to watch through her eyes what I am so used to from thousands and thousands of miles of air travel over the years. She was in her 30's, but as amazed as an 8-year old.

My typical flight routine is to grab my seat - typically a window seat on the right side as you face the front of the plane - shed my shoes, shift slightly toward the window, prop my head on a pillow of some kind, and conk out (if not before take-off) before we even hear the "the pilot has turned off the seat belt sign, you are now free to move about the cabin" message. I usually "come to" long after the beverage service is not only over, but the cabin crew is collecting trash. When I wake up I do what most "travel nappers" do: check for drool. Then I wonder if I snored, or rather, how loudly I snored. If I am traveling alone, I never know the answer. If I am traveling with business associates, they are too polite to say anything. If I am traveling with family/friends, I know before I even wake up from the subtle nudges and taps they give me while I am sleep-snoring.

I love to travel, but the getting from point to point doesn't hold my attention. I want to be somewhere. I can stop along the way, sometimes every few minutes to look at a scenic view, take a picture or visit a unique shop, but anything beyond a few minutes and I can easily fall sleep.

So, yes, I love my Tempur-Pedic.

And yes, I sleep very, very well on it, but I sleep very, very well on the road too, and in the air. I am not sure why this is an issue for some people who either can't sleep or don't want me (or anyone else) to sleep while traveling. After all, I can get my own beverage, it prevents any conflicting dialogue from happening,  and I wake up refreshed and ready when those amazing photo opportunities, views and shops roll by.

I suppose it could be the snoring, but at least I don't drool. And I know that I don't, because I check.

Jesse McCartney "How Do You Sleep"