Friday, December 30, 2011

Note to Self in 2012: Live Like Lara Croft. Yea, the Tomb Raider.

I have a big to-do list for 2012. Ideas and changes that I need to make in my life. Things around me and things about me. I decided last night, while watching one of my favorite movies, Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, that I want to do things more like Lara. Tomb Raider is a video game, but to me, Lara Croft is the character portrayed by Angelina Jolie in the two movies.

One of my all-time favorite movies.

Lady Croft has a sexy, graceful determination about her. A confidence that shines through no matter what crap she’s being dealt or who’s trying to kick her in the head. I had lost my confidence some time ago, but I’ve been working hard on getting it back. It’s taken longer than I would have liked, but going into the New Year, it’ll be kick-butt, guns-loaded, strapped-to-my-thighs, don’t-even-think-of-messing-with-me-confidence.

Lara Croft plans things to a T. But, she’s also flexible enough to figure things out on the go if they change. I want to be deliberate in what I do, but also be flexible. I will try harder to think things through with more logic. Lara Croft doesn’t have fluffy bunnies and rainbows bouncing around the Croft Manor. Well, I may never get rid of those around the Beige Home, but maybe I can have some logical bunnies find their way into my world and procreate with the fluffy bunnies?

Croft Manor is a wee bit bigger than my home...

She always looks cool as a cucumber.
The Tomb Raider is fit and sexy and adventurous. I’m going to continue my lifelong quest to be fit. A few years ago, I lost about 25 pounds that I put on during a long, bad relationship (think rusted-out jalopy). Best part is that I’ve kept it off. I’ve watched my portions. I eat fairly healthy. Not a lot of meat. Not a lot of fat. My new goal is to watch my sugar intake. I’m not sure I’ve seen Lara eat much in the movies but whatever she is eating she has incredible energy to do her extreme workouts and go on her unbelievable adventures. If you’ve seen her in action, you would also consider her to be a practitioner of Parkour with her super-physical prowess. I want prowess. I want to do Parkour. I’ll add more physical training in the form of adventures (I especially love hiking and biking and boogie boarding) to tone up even more over this next coming year. 

This guy rocks in the Parkour world. Check out the link below to see him in action.

In the movies, Lara Croft lives in a fantasy world of endless money and getting whatever her heart desires (though she hasn’t quite found true love…had to shoot him in the Cradle of Life…totally freaked out my girls). I’ve always lived in a bit of my own fantasy world. But, we all need lightness and happiness like that in our lives. Without it, we’d constantly focus on the heaviness or problems that come along.

So, while I’ll never have those gorgeous lips of Lara Croft (aka Angelina Jolie) or the incredible bosom; and you probably won’t catch me dead in a shiny unitard (though I’d like to incorporate more boots into my wardrobe and ride motorcycles), I’ll try to copy her confidence, fitness level, zest for adventure and logical determination. I’m going to live like Lara and make 2012 my Tomb Raider year. I’ll just try not to shoot my true love.
Like the strapping and holsters. Not sure you'll ever catch me in an outfit like this though.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Namaste in Notes

Recently, my Sweet-Smelling Girlfriend challenged me. Not to a duel or anything, but to a challenge not to write notes for a week.

My challenge note to not write notes.

If you know me, you know I write notes. I have notes all over my house. Mostly of things I need to do. Occasionally, there are duplicate to-do things. All in my chicken scratch. On little pieces of paper. I’m infamous for cutting up papers I had printed -- ones that have blank areas on them that would have just ended up in the recycling bin anyway. And, they’ve been neatly cut up on a paper cutter, just so you know. Not messily with scissors or anything.

My eldest's interpretation of what would happen to me if I didn't write notes.

A dear friend of mine gave me the trail name, “Pockets.” Not because I wear cargo pants (though I do like them but don’t currently own any) but because I always have a piece of paper in the rear left pocket of my jeans. On this piece of folded card-stock I have my weekly to-do list on it. Then, I always add to it. Things that I find interesting like movies, songs, websites or quotes people may have suggested. Or, things that I need to buy. Like groceries for meal ideas. Which I may have also added if I had heard someone talking about a great recipe. All in my microscopic print.

Beside my bed, on my nightstand, are 3x5 cards. More places to write down notes, thoughts or dreams upon awakening.

My house is fairly small. Think efficient, close-to-the-beach home. And even with its campy size, I have notes and paper for notes in almost every corner of my home. Everywhere but in my girls’ room. There is always a place for me to write notes and lists or whatever my brain is thinking. (And I always write using my favorite pens…retractable blue Uniball Signo 207 pens).

A note with a mantra from my Pocket-nicknaming friend's recent yoga class and my note to vacuum (maybe I didn't have to write that down...just looking at the floor should be enough of a reminder...but I write stuff down.)

When my Sweet-Smelling Girlfriend challenged me to not write notes for 1 week, she told me to “Ride the wave of life” and see what happens. She questioned my ability to remember things on my own without writing anything down. She wondered if some type of amnesia would kick in. I have to say that I felt naked for the first few days without that weekly pocket note. I’d reach for it to write something down and remember that I didn’t have it. I wonder how many things that I would have liked to have remembered that week slipped my mind? I couldn’t tell you. It wasn’t written down. I was happy that I didn’t have a lot going on that week to actually keep track of.

This is what I wrote on a 3x5 by my bed when my Sweet-Smelling Girlfriend challenged me. We decided it would make for an interesting blog subject.

Do I need to write notes because I’m blonde? Or, is there the fear of forgetting to do something? I think it’s a combination of those things. Maybe not so much the blonde thing because my brain is always in multi-tasking mode (do blondes really multi-task?). I’m constantly creating. Writing in my head so I don’t feel like I have a lot of extra room to remember the have-to’s. The have-to’s aren’t as fun to have swirling around in this head of mine. My head that lives in my land of fluffy bunnies and happy rainbows.

Because my pocket note went through the laundry (one of the hazards of pocket notes), I was forced to write down this idea at work for the coolest snowflake on some horrid yellow paper that would easily dissolve in humid air.

So, I survived that week’s challenge. But, I’ve written notes since then. There’s a comfort for me in writing notes. Then there’s the whole sense of accomplishment when you can check things off that have been done. I like that feeling. The more I have going on in my life, the more I write down. As Christmas approached this year, I found myself writing more lists and notes than usual. But, Christmas has a way of overwhelming even the most organized. I may try to limit my note-writing from time to time. Or, at least be sure to consolidate the lists in my house so they don’t overwhelm my Sweet-Smelling Girlfriend. But for now, for me, they work. And they are part of my wave of life. I am one with my notes. Ooh, let me write that down…

How my Sweet-Smelling Girlfriend interprets my world without notes...

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

The Past is the Past

Wrong choices made in the past,
Ultimately affects my life today.
Somehow, I didn’t know that then.
At least the permanence of it all.
But, the past is the past.
Let it go.
I have.
Walk with me now.
Make the best of today and what it is.
Think about the future.
We’ll make choices together today that affects our tomorrow.
And when tomorrow comes,
Today will be yesterday.
And yesterday is the past.
And there is just no going back.
For good,
Or, for bad.
It just is.

Friday, December 2, 2011

The Woman I Am

Have you ever had someone in your life who inspires you? And, inspires you often? My Sweet-Smelling Girlfriend said something today that inspired me to write this poem...

The Woman I Am

From the earth I have come,
Molded and shaped like the clay from which I was born.
Weathered by the sun and hardened with time.
But, all is not lost for I have been softened by the rain,
And by your hands.
And in your eyes,
Seeing me for who I am.
Freeing me from my confines,
Forgiving me of my past.
With gentle touch,
And loving caress,
You shape me back
Into the woman I am.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Cloudology. Say It Like You Have a Mouth Full of Marbles. It’s Funner That Way.

I often find myself saying, “Today I saw the most amazing sky.” That should denote the best of the best. Like I couldn’t see anything more beautiful. But, I swear I keep seeing an even more amazing sky day after day.

Cloud dove.

I have a fascination with the sky. With clouds in particular. I’m forever oohing and aahing at the sky or taking pictures if some formation catches my eye. Okay, that’s almost every day. To me, and to others (because I think I’ve heard it quoted this way), the sky is like a canvas. It’s a blank canvas that is forever changing…becoming a priceless piece of artwork that we can only fully take in with our eyes and our minds. And, even then, I don’t know how fully it is because there are times when I wish I could hold an image of it and put it into the core of my being forever.

Took this yesterday somewhere between MA and ME.

One of the things I love about the sky is when you add the rising or setting sun in it. With all the colors that are exuded then, mixed with the swaths of clouds, it’s almost more than one can take in at any one time. That must be where the term ‘breath-taking’ came from. My Sweet-Smelling Girlfriend has told me that one of the things she’ll miss when she dies are the sunrises. I’d have to agree with her and add the sunsets in there, too, because I tend to take as many evening walks on the beach as I can. Right now I live close to the ocean and life is too short not to enjoy the natural beauty around us.

Sometimes, the sky seems uniformly grey and without definition of clouds. I find that our moods are changed by what we find in the sky. How many people mope around on gloomy days? Lots. When the sky is all grey, we should try not to get down. Instead, we should look at it as a canvas covered with tinted gesso readying itself for another glorious day.

Cameras can capture pieces of the sky and help us to remember the beauty of the clouds and colors before us. But unless you can photograph it 360 degrees around you, it’s hard to see exactly what you can take in like you can with the human eye.

I was joking with my oldest one day about how I thought that I should be a cloudologist. One who studies clouds. I’m sure technically that would really fit under the heading of meteorologist, but cloudologist doesn’t cover all of the weather and it is so much more fun to say. Especially if you say it like Bill Murray’s character, Carl Spackler, in Caddyshack would. (Now, you want to go watch that movie again don’t you? It’s a classic. Trust me.)

Now, if I was really a cloudologist, I’d have to know the names of the clouds. I do have vague recollections in my head of words like cirrus and cumulus and cumulonimbus. I’m sure I could and should go brush up on the names of the many types that I think I once knew. And, with the internet, that’s even easier to do these days. I guess, though, that I’d put myself in the artist-cloudologist category. I appreciate the beauty of the clouds in the sky without having to define them.

I see them and enjoy them. I’m in awe of their beauty. I think of ways I can capture their images. And, when I do, what can I do with them? I don’t need to use my voice to label them; to know the individual names of what I see in the sky. I would use my voice, though, just to say ‘cloudology.’ Because it’s wicked fun to say. Especially like Carl.


Monday, November 28, 2011

Life is Like a Scary Movie

I’ve been talking with a few different people lately noticing similarities between their lives and mine. Besides us all being cute and fun and adorable people (insert winky emoticon here), we have all dealt with or are dealing with fear.

Most of what we are afraid of is the unknown. I heard a saying many years back that said, “85% of what we fear, never comes true.” Yea, yea, there’s that 15% left, you say. But, most of us wouldn’t bank too much on odds of only 15%. Eighty-five is a much bigger number to think about.

What do we worry about? Jobs and financial stability or lack thereof is at the top of the list. Many people aren’t making ends meet. And that is among friends who have shared with me that they make 20k a year, 75k or even 100k. Everyone’s life and life style is different. I’m not judging anyone on what they make or how they spend their money. We all have different needs and wants.

Then, there’s the knowing that you’ll be moving out or going out on your own and then trying to survive on your one income. Whether you’re leaving your parents’ house for the first time or leaving a marriage, it’s all the same. That’s scary stuff. Do you get a new job? Add a part-time job to the mix? Get creative with your art or writing or jewelry making and sell that? What do you do? All those things take initiative. There’s that first step. That first step can be scary. Really scary. What if you fall? What if you fail? Are you worse off than when you started though? So much to think about.

And what about relationships? I know people who are afraid of being alone all their lives. They get their monies worth out of dating from, that’s for sure. Are we better off dating lots and lots of people every single week until we find that absolutely perfect match? Is there really such a thing as a perfect match? How do you know when something really good may be in your life but you question if there is still something better? Do you lose out on that good thing by going out and looking?

How do you know if you are settling? Are you settling if you meet someone who is pretty darned compatible though they may be so unlike anyone you’ve been with before? What if you find yourself in a comfortable relationship now but you’ve had so many relationships that haven’t worked out? How do you know this one will last? How do you know it won’t? Do you fear taking the next step with this person and going head on into something that could be really positive because of how your past has been? This person is different than what you’ve known. You are different. Life changes us. It changes all of us. That’s a scary thought right there. I always hope it changes us for the better though and doesn’t really taint us or tarnish us too badly.

What about the relationships that we get into and we are fearful of getting out of? Even the relationships that we know are just plain bad for us? The relationships with the people who take and take from us and don’t give back? The ones who actually physically or mentally or emotionally abuse us? The relationships with the ones who drink excessively or cheat over and over again? The ones who use us? We usually stay in those situations because it’s so familiar to us. Fear holds us there. Fear of leaving. Fear of change. I was in a bad relationship like that before. For way too long. Years too long. I know getting out of it was the best thing I could have ever done. There was a heaviness there that I didn’t even realize was there until I was away from it. A weight was lifted almost instantly when I was finally in my own place. I will never get into a situation like that again. I know that I broke that fear once I left. The leaving a bad situation will never be a problem for me. Actually just knowing what I learned from that will keep me from getting into the same situation (I sure as heck hope so).

So, how do we know what is good for us? How do we know when to be afraid? When is something bad going to happen? When is the creepy critter going to jump out and scare the crap out of us in life? We don’t know. Things happen all the time. Bad things happen often. Accidents happen. People get sick. People die. Relationships end. Jobs disappear. Bank accounts get sucked dry. But, you know what? Good things happen too.

Good things happen every day. I choose to find something good in my life every single day. Many things actually. Today, I woke up beside a beautiful woman. We saw one of the most amazing sunrises of our lives as we left for work. I walked the beach this evening. And there I saw an amazing evening sky. I talked with a friend on the phone who offered to give me free passes to ride the train to and from Boston if I’d like. I got a refund check from my car insurance company in the mail. I came home to my house lit up all Christmas-y. I have wonderful people in my life. I may not be rich, but I’m appreciative of what I do have and I feel very abundant.

There are no guarantees in life. Things can jump out of the bog and pull you under at any moment. Scary stuff happens all the time. You can either keep running down the center of the road knowing that the fearful thing is right behind you (don’t you always wonder why people do that in the movies? As loud as I yell at them, they keep doing it) or you can duck off to the side, grab a weapon and slam that fear in the face. You can keep your scary movie if you’d like, but I prefer my new adventure flick with a little romance and comedy mixed in there. And, a big bucket of popcorn on the side.


Monday, November 14, 2011

I Could Make Your Whatever Better

Okay, writing the blog about my job from hell the other day has had me thinking about what my ideal job would be (I like my current job okay, but it isn’t my ideal). I have two ideal jobs that I can think of. Writing is one. Creative writing to be more specific. Like doing this. How cool would it be to make a living writing blogs and novels all day?

My other idea has to do with my design side. I’m not even sure of the exact title of the position. It would have to do with making products better. Testing prototypes and giving feedback on them before they go out into manufacturing or more importantly, before they go into the real world.

I think of the old BASF commercials. “We don’t make the whatever. We make the whatever better.” I could make a lot of whatevers better. Seriously, how many products do you have in your home that kind of irk you when you use them? It could be something little about it, or it could be something big. Fact is, if it’s a pain to use, if it isn’t easy, safe or convenient, you’re apt to use it less. And you’ll probably curse it while you are using it. Which means, you are giving it a bad name (could be a REALLY bad name). And, perhaps you’ll choose not buy that brand again. And, you’ll tell all your friends about how bad it was. You may even post it on Facebook. That’s a big oops for companies.

A big thing to me in design is button placement. If you can’t figure out how to turn something on or off rather quickly, what’s the point? What if safety is an issue? What if the phone is ringing? What if my toddler is eating rocks or something? (Not that I have a toddler and not that mine ever ate rocks. Acorns maybe, but not rocks). How do I turn the darned thing off? I always wonder if someone actually tried the product or did it just get approved because it looked pretty on paper? Trust me, I’ve done those drawings in college (we called them renderings) of industrial widgets. A little shading and a few highlighting starbursts and, Shazam! Any product can look fantastic. I’m not saying things shouldn’t look pretty because they should. But good design shouldn’t compromise efficiency of use. I know, I know. Form before function for some people. I say both. (That’s also where us interior designers sometimes have problems with architects, but that’s another story).

When things are beautiful and they feel good in your hand, they are a pleasure to use. I think finding pleasure in the simple things in life could so improve our overall happiness. I have the most wonderful vegetable peeler ever (I know my Sweet-Smelling Girlfriend is getting tired of me raving about it, but I can’t help it). It’s stainless steel. Has CIA printed on it. It has a heft to it. It feels great to hold. It looks pretty. It works beautifully. It was well worth the $20 or so dollars it cost. Yes. Really. It cost that much. Most people balk at that. “A potato peeler should cost three to five dollars,” you say. Yes, but what if it slips in your hand and practically cuts your finger off? Or, if it’s so uncomfortable to hold that you get blisters after peeling enough potatoes for all your guests coming to your Thanksgiving meal that you can’t even enjoy your company? Or, if it breaks and you have to keep replacing it? You’ll be spending that amount before you know it. Should have bought mine.

Some items that could use major redesigns in my life (and this is just the tip of the iceberg; I feel I could redesign SO many things) are my alarm clocks, vacuum cleaner and iPad. Alarm clocks shouldn’t be so difficult to set. Or, to change the time with daylight savings time or whatever reason you need to change it. They should have a decent-sized snooze bar on them and the shutoff button shouldn’t be so accessible while trying to hit the snooze. The point is to have it wake you up and if you want to sleep an extra seven or nine minutes, great, but you shouldn’t be able to hit a button and zonk back out for hours if your only intention was to snooze a few more minutes.

My vacuum cleaner needs a better place to put your foot to make the handle bend backwards so it actually vacuums. Or, maybe it needs a hand-held trigger release? Something. And, there are so many attachments that they don’t all fit on it. And if they do, they pop off. Then, there’s the whole handheld part. Really? Really. Not. Good.

I believe that if more attention was paid to detail on how a product is used, it could be made so much better. There are so many situations and scenarios in which products are used. Many people who design things seem to think that everything will be used in an “ideal” setting. On some fantasy land. Or, in June Cleaver’s already perfect home. Yea. No. When is anything in your home ideal? These improvements could and would also be kept in mind for manufacturing. You can never not think about how it will be built and the costs involved. But, gosh, do you know how many more items a company could and would sell if they have a knock-out product?

Now, to the third one on my list…the iPad. The iPad is really an awesome piece of technology. Very few buttons (which I may reconsider the feel of those a bit); it has a touch screen…it’s great for the most part. My big exception with it is with the charger. The piece that has to be plugged into the unit is narrow. Hard for little or old fingers to hold and it is not at all intuitive on which direction it goes in. I’ve watched co-workers flip it around and around several times trying to get it in its socket. Add to that the complexity of having a thick foam protector case that we need to use in schools and it makes it even harder. Why did decent design stop? The plug was like an afterthought.

In design, nothing can be an afterthought. Good design incorporates all parts of the product. Good design is comfortable. Good design is functional. Very functional. Good design is beautiful.

So, if you make things at your company and you are looking for someone with an eye to make improvements, give me a call. I’ll take your whatevers and make your whatevers better.*

*Plus, I’m a lot of fun. And, I’m easy on the eyes.

Friday, November 11, 2011

I'll Choose Door Number Eleven, Please.

Today is a day of my favorite numbers. 11.11.11. Well, 7 is really my favorite number (maybe being born in July and all and having 7 letters in my first name), but eleven eleven has always caught my eye. I see it on clocks or on my cell phone. In printed material or on the side of the road. In my car. Since I always reset the trip odometer, I often see 111.1. Every time I see it, it speaks to me. It says, “Doors and portals are opening for you.” The you being me. (But, I’m sure if you see it, it would be for you, too). “Good things are ahead,” it also says.

I am thrilled to see even one 11 come up somewhere. So imagine today with it being three times (or five twice if you put the time of 11:11 in there!)? I usually set my alarm to wake up at 6:11 am. That time just feels right to me. Waking up to what seems like a daily encouragement message of possibilities can’t be a bad thing.

There are many things on the internet that explain the significance of the number 11 and I’m sure all those websites are being bombarded today. I happen to like Avia Venefica’s website… I’ve been checking her website for years since it describes the symbolism surrounding so many things like numbers, animals, Native American symbols, dream interpretations and so on. She even has symbolic tattoo information. Oh, hey, she talks about doorways too. It must be one of those universal, psychic love sort of things (which I’m totally into. That’s just another way to describe my fluffy bunnies and happy rainbows sort of world).

So, as Avia describes it, eleven is one doubled. One represents new beginnings and purity. And, eleven just doubles the vibration of that. How cool is it to think that every time the number eleven comes into our lives, it gives us the opportunity for new beginnings? Those are my portals. That’s where I’ve been able to manifest good into my life. No matter how much good we have, we can always have more (and show our gratitude for what we do have). And, when things aren’t quite right, it gives us hope that there is more out there. A new, clean start. We could all use one of those. Well, we may need many of those in our lifetime. Many many.

There is a blog link on that link above where Avia talks about the duality of the number eleven and finding balance in it. Balance is the word that my Sweet-Smelling Girlfriend uses to describe what she wants in life. I’ve always used the word harmony which, to me, incorporates balance. I guess it doesn’t matter what words you use to describe something, it’s just what it means to you personally that works. Same with numbers. Eleven eleven today could just mean Friday to some people. Could be world love and peace to (hopefully) many. Could be new beginnings and doors opening to others. Whatever it is to you, I hope it’s a good one.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Don’t Like Your Job? It’s Okay. You'll Probably Die at 9:00 am on Monday Anyway

We’ve all heard about the risks of heart disease. There are some that you can’t control: being male, being older (though that’s relative to me) and family history. Some factors you can control are: smoking, high “bad” cholesterol, high blood pressure, physical inactivity, obesity, stress. And, other factors according to my new friend, Deepak Chopra, MD, are lack of self-happiness and job dissatisfaction.

Deepak says that in our culture, more people die at 9:00 am on Monday mornings than at another other time. Coincidence? We think not. We are the only species that distinguishes days of the week. The only ones who care about what time it is. The only ones who dread going back to work on Monday mornings.

Some of us can say our jobs are rewarding. Some of us can’t. Some of us can say that we don’t get paid nearly enough for what we do. Most of us can probably say that. Some of us have terrible coworkers. Some of us have coworkers who are great friends. Some of us are under constant pressure, stress and deadlines from the moment we walk in the door. Some of us have to take our work home.

Nothing like being able to work in jeans and sexy boots.

I know, personally, that I’ve had very few jobs that fit into the high job satisfaction category. The ones that do are the ones where I worked for myself. When I wasn’t micro-managed. Or, psycho-managed. Is that a real term? Gosh, I hope I just coined that. That is beyond true.

One of my worst jobs ever lasted 2-1/2 months. I was fairly fresh out of college. I was told that the executive assistant position would open up to design possibilities. The job that I really wanted back then. Heck, I was young. I figured I’d work for the owner of this company. Learn the ropes of this family-owned business. See what the other designers were doing and also learn from them. Then I could work my way into my desired role. What I found, though, was that it was the job from hell. That should actually be in all caps. THE JOB FROM HELL.

Have you ever ridden up or down in a tiny elevator with a woman who farted the entire way. Every time. Let me repeat that. Every. Time. It was as if the vertical movement released the gas in her body. It wasn’t silent and it certainly wasn’t without smell. I quickly learned to make an excuse as to why I needed to delay the torturous altitudinal departure with her. I was in awesome shape running the possible ten flights of stairs top to bottom to be able to catch up with her.

I was told we were too busy to eat while she stuffed Jenny Craig couscous meals into her mouth everyday and spit half of it out while yelling that at me. We were never that busy. I threatened to quit if I didn’t get lunch. I got a raise. And lunch.

I was asked to cut the tags off the mattresses. You know the ones that say, “Do not remove without penalty of law?” Yea. Those. I refused to do that too. She didn’t want the customers to be able to comparison shop. Messed up, huh? I said I’d quit if I had to do that. I got a raise. And, I never cut a single tag.

I was told not to help the people that came in if they didn’t look well-to-do. I was asked by nearly every customer to help me sneak them in so they could look at things without the owner knowing. I got a lot of thank you’s from them and I got to help them make design choices. The one day I didn’t help someone right away who looked like a grubby bum, I got yelled at. How did I know he was a premiere chef in the city? He looked like a grubby bum I told her. I did sell him a $900 crystal something. I got a raise. And, I never judged anyone after that.

I had to find phone numbers for the owner. Always last minute. Always in a foot high pile of torn corners with chicken scratch (read: totally illegible) on them. The owner would be screaming at me in a feverish pitch that she needed the number. NOW! I’d go ask the quiet women hiding in accounting for the number. When I suggested taking the pile of scraps and at least writing them in a book (the ones I could vaguely make out), I was told that her system worked fine. She actually screamed that. I told her I couldn’t work with her screaming at me when she needed a number. I got a raise. One day the pile “disappeared.”

I had to take memos. As any executive assistant should. But, did I mention that I had to stand across from her desk when I did? And, did I mention that she was an odd pear-shaped woman in her 60s? Who would wear Go-Go dancer-type, tight-knit dresses that were way too short? And, did I mention that she’d sit with her legs spread open? Without underwear? None. Nada. I thought my eyes were going to burn out of my head. That wasn’t even what a lady should look like down there. How I ended up being a lesbian after that experience, I’ll never know. I’d get screamed at to look at her while she was talking to me. I told her I didn’t deserve to be screamed at. I got a raise. And, I learned to hold my clipboard at just the right angle that kept my vision intact.

Did I mention that she was incontinent and peed on my office chair several times? And, on the furniture on display? Yea. Not good. Did I mention that I was the 13th executive assistant in 8 months? Did I mention that I got locked in The Silence of the Lambs basement? In the dark?

Her husband was a wonderful guy who obviously married her for her money. When he had his stroke, he was stuck there. He received OT and PT in his office. He’d have me drive him home when he got so tired he couldn’t keep his head off his desk. I’d load him up in their giant, white pimp Cadillac and get him comfortable on the couch. Then, I’d get a call from HER yelling at me to bring him back. I’d apologize to him and he’d understand and we’d drive back.

The best two weeks of that job were when she and her poor husband went to Florida. The two daughters, who owned 49% of the company, came in and we redid the five floors. Something that hadn’t been done in thirty plus years. I got to design. I got to create. My opinion was valued. Lunch was brought in for us every day. I got screamed at when the owned returned for letting them do that. I said they were better off and that sales would improve by bringing in new clientele. I was told that she was disappointed. That she wanted to give me her 51% of the business. Now she wasn’t sure. She was psycho. I quit. My pay had just about doubled but it wasn’t worth the stress or the tears everyday I shed when I got home.

So, no matter what job I’ve had since then, it just can’t be as bad as that. Maybe now I do have a screwed up vision of what a good job should entail? It has made every job since then seem like fluffy bunnies and rainbows. Even though my Monday mornings haven’t been perfect, at least they no longer entail illegal activity or scary wooha. How about you? Let’s talk Monday at 9:30 am. Maybe.

Please share your jobs from hell!

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Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Touch. It Isn’t Just For Perverts Anymore

I’ve been listening to some wonderful tapes (yes, cassette tapes! I still have a player for them in my car too. Yay!) that belonged to the late father of a dear friend of mine. The series is called Magical Mind, Magical Body by Deepak Chopra, MD. Now I’ve heard of him in the past but besides seeing a quote here or there or a short article, I really couldn’t tell you much about him. But, I’ve been totally blown away by what I’ve been hearing and maybe I’ll write more blogs based on what he talks about, but today I want to talk about one of my favorite things that he was talking about. Touch. Not touch in any inappropriate sense (I just came up with the title as an eye-catcher), but caring, loving touch.

I don’t remember growing up in a very touchy, physical home. My memories of childhood were good, but I can’t say that I was hugged a lot. That kind of closeness didn’t start until my sister married into an Italian family. Gosh, everyone was all over everyone like it was so normal. I felt so at home. It freed a part of me. It seemed like it was all just very friendly and loving (there are skeletons in that closet where touch turned to abuse, but that’s for another story another day). Actually, based on what I just put in parathenses, why isn’t there a happy medium for touch? What would a happy medium be?

Lovers in Naples, Italy

Let me define touch. When I talk about it, I mean reaching out and putting a hand on someone’s arm or hand or shoulder or leg during conversation. I mean giving hugs. I mean wrapping an arm around someone when standing or walking with them…and pulling them in towards you during a happy or funny moment. I mean holding hands with my kids or with my Sweet-Smelling Girlfriend. Or, walking arm in arm with a good friend. If it’s a partner, touch is the gentle brushing up against one another during the day while doing even mundane things. It’s a reminder of the love you have for one another.

I have found that so many people are so sensitive to touch. Sensitive in that they don’t know what to do with it. Like it’s so foreign. New Englanders in particular seem to have a distance at which they are and aren’t comfortable with people. Put your arms at full length out to your sides and that’s their personal space. I’m kind of the person that ignores that invisible barrier. I’m not sure if I intentionally do it on a subconscious level or if it’s just me and my thinking that everyone will like it. Don’t forget, when you’re around me, you’ve entered into my fluffy bunnies and happy rainbow world. We touch in my world.

Drawing practice in a college art class.

Humans are sensitive to touch on a physiological level according to Deepak Chopra. Listen to these facts: Your skin is your largest organ. It weighs an average of six to ten pounds. Touch is ten times stronger when communicating than words alone. Premature babies have been found to benefit from touch. They grow and develop faster with it. People recovering from surgeries have been found to also recover faster with touch. If it’s such a powerful healing tool, why are so many people afraid of it?

Touch can bring to mind creepy pedophiles and inappropriate relatives or people from our childhoods that we have in our closets. Maybe if touch wasn’t so taboo, that it was just normal, maybe people wouldn’t have these weird sicknesses involved in needing it so badly and giving it a bad name?

I’m a touchy feely person. I admit it. I come out and tell most people that. That is if they haven’t figured it out in the first hour of knowing me. I’ve been told by many people that I’m too touchy. My Sweet-Smelling Girlfriend’s youngest son called me Touchy Wouchy (however you spell that…it just rhymes). I was once told I was almost creepy in my hugs (what’s a hug if you don’t put some feeling into it?). My ex told me that I’d be perfectly comfortable sitting on her lap with my hands in her pockets eating out of her cereal bowl. Yep. And the problem there is???

Deepak says touch can improve our buoyancy. I like that description in life. Who doesn’t want to be buoyant? I think that it is a way of connecting. Of showing how much I care. If you compare my touching with others’, I must obviously care a LOT. It’s just who I am. I don’t mean to smother those around me with touch. I don’t ever want to make it a bad thing. I guess I’m just hoping that people will see it as the wonderful thing that it is and that they’ll start touching more. I’m just spreading my love. One touch at a time.
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Monday, October 24, 2011

Seven Years. Time to Change.

My mom used to say that every seven years we go through a major change in our lives. I’m really thinking that there is some truth to that. Though my age isn’t divisible by seven, I can go back 28 years and tell you about milestones on the sevens. The most important, though, is what I’m dealing with now (more so, since I can’t change the past).

I think over the past seven years I’ve been on some type of mental hiatus. I think the stress of coming out and finding myself had me living in a state of complacency in other areas of my life. I don’t think it’s all just me that does this, I bet that many of us get comfortable living our day to day lives accepting what just is. Making the best of our situations or somehow dealing with it and calling it life. We know it isn’t perfect, but it’s what we know. Does that make it good? Maybe not. So how many years do we live like this?

Some people question change. Or, the ability to change. I believe as people, we have to change. If we don’t, we end up just being judgmental of the world and those around us…stuck in the place or level of knowing that we think is right. If we don’t change, we can lose those in our lives that mean the most to us. Making change within ourselves is hard. We get used to being who we are. Yes, we have to like and accept ourselves, but if there is a side to us that isn’t positive, we need to work on it. Change it so it is positive.

Sometimes we don’t see these things in ourselves. Or, it may be there, fuzzily, in the back of our minds. Maybe we know it, but maybe a bit of fear is there and it keeps us where we are? Sometimes it takes a friend with balls (though in my case, that’s figurative to describe my friend) to point out some of these things to us. Then, it takes opening up our minds and finding honesty in our hearts to accept what we’ve just been told. And, maybe some tears.

I’m lucky enough to have a second friend with balls (again, the figurative kind) to back up what the first said (I needed to be sure I guess of what I’d heard). How can I not listen to two honest, kick-in-the-butt opinions? If I’ve learned something in my 44 years, it’s to listen to those around me because I’m too close to me to see outside. Especially outside of the happy little box I’m calling life.

I’ve made a list of what I need to do. To change my life and myself as a person. I’ve already taken some first steps to accomplishing what’s on my list by just accepting the idea that things need to be different. Accepting the idea that I need to be different. And, that's half the battle towards accomplishing my goal. When I set my mind on something, I do it. It may take time to get to the point where I can check off the whole to-do list. It’ll take a heck of a lot of self-discovery and hard work, too. But, if all goes well, the next seven years will be filled with good changes, accomplishments and life in a much bigger (and even happier) box.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Three Days of Autumn

One of my favorite things about living in New England is experiencing the four seasons in full. I know, some people in Maine will say there are five, adding in Mud Season, but I just include that in spring. As much as I love summer and the days on the beach by the ocean, my favorite season has to be fall. Or, autumn, as some of us prefer to call it.

I love the smell of autumn. There’s something earthy and pungent that smells like home to me…especially when I’m walking in the woods. I love the crispness in the air. The heaviness of summer and trying to breathe with those hot, humid days is totally gone. I love the sound. Nothing compares to the swishing and crackling of the dry leaves with each step as I go for a hike in the woods. Or, even the sound of my rake in the leaves and pine needles as I drudgingly clean up my yard. Not drudgingly because of the work involved but because I actually love the way the yard looks with a blanket of fallen leaves and needles.

What I love the most about autumn, though, are the colors. I feel like my eyes can’t take in enough of the different colors that surround me. I find it almost overwhelmingly beautiful. My heart just swells with the joy of having the ability to see such beauty of colors.

On Columbus Day, I noticed that autumn was finally upon us. It wasn’t really here on the day before, but, Bam! that Monday brought forth a fire burst of colors. As I drove my girls south on 95 to meet their dad, I was blown away by what I saw. My oldest daughter and I were pointing out sections to each other that we were just finding so full of colors. My youngest daughter was entranced with her movie in the backseat, but every now and then, we’d coax an ‘ooh’ or and ‘aah’ out of her when we’d yell for her to look out the window.

Driving back the next day from my Sweet-Smelling Girlfriend’s house, I had the most incredible commute I can ever remember. Between the colors on the trees and the skyscape, I wanted to just take the day off and stop all along the way and take pictures. I know it is so hard to capture on film what we see with our eyes; but what a wonderful sense to possess!

Wednesday, the following day, was another incredible day. My walk/run/suck wind before work was filled with the fall colors too. Every tree was at its peak. If I didn’t have appointments after work, I would have made the best of the evening…outdoors.

Then Thursday came. Along with heavy rains. Same with Friday. And there went the leaves. It’s amazing how barren the trees seem after two days of practically torrential rain. Yes, some leaves managed to hang on, and they are still beautiful to look at (even two weeks later), but that postcard image of New England in fall is gone. I’m glad that I was able to enjoy the season when it came. All three days of it.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Love Notes

I admit it…I’m a sap. Most people who really know me wouldn’t hesitate to agree. Actually, you don’t have to really know me. Just know me a little and you’ll figure that out. I’m the one who reads the greeting cards trying to find the perfect message. I’m the one who frequently buys a ‘blank inside’ card and writes my own sentiments. Or, I just make a homemade card.

I think one of the most wonderful things a person can do to show their affection towards another is to write love letters. Or, at least, love notes. Nowadays, they can be via text or email, but gosh darn it, a handwritten note is awfully sweet to give (or to receive).

I’m a fan of leaving notes in places for a lover or special person where they’ll bring a little smile to their face. Who wouldn’t want to see a note with messages telling them how special they are? Or, how they’re thought of throughout the day? Or, a reminder of a special evening or funny moment shared?

When I used to make lunches for my daughters, I’d always put a little note in their boxes. I’d cut a 3x5 card in half and write a short message on it and draw a picture for them. Now, my girls are leaving notes for me after their weekends here. I laughed when I pulled the lid off my hairspray and a little ‘I love you’ note flew out. This same daughter taped a ‘Love U’ to the shower wall. My youngest daughter filled a turned wooden bowl with messages. I’m supposed to pick one every day. Besides the ‘I love you,’ I’ve gotten little messages like ‘love heals all hurts’ and ‘Your one out of a million’ (spelled just like that; we don’t criticize grammar and spelling on love notes…it’s all from the heart).

I love that my love notes to them have made such an impact on them that they’re following in my footsteps. I hope they continue to give love notes to others throughout their lives. And, hopefully, receive them. I know I’ll always be there to give them love notes. And, I have a feeling, get them in return.

Friday, September 30, 2011

One Good Shot. One Darned Good Shot.

I’m a visual person. So, as many people know – I’m a picture taker. I love taking pictures. That should be love with a capital L, O, V and E. Whether it’s with my big digital Rebel or with my fairly old PowerShot (my religion is Canon as my friend Lasse taught me that they say in Denmark). Or, even if it’s taking pictures with my cell phone. It’s amazing that my little Droid has almost more mega pixels than my other two combined. I’m happy with the quality that they all produce though.

I like to think that I have a good eye for taking a picture and that they come out good because of my design background. Many people insist that it’s because of the camera. Both help. But, just taking a zillion pictures is apt to catch a good one. And with the beauty of digital, you don’t have to worry about “wasting” film. You just delete what you don’t want or what is blurry. I remember the days of SLRs and film. I used to buy rolls and rolls of film with 36 exposures. I’d be so much more careful though in what I shot because developing was downright expensive. I was usually thrilled if I got one good shot for every 3 rolls.

Nowadays, I just shoot away. Rarely does an event or weekend (especially with my girls) slip away without me having taken dozens of pictures. My girls are so good about the picture taking too. They know that if they pose and smile decently that the tortuous length of the photo shoots is lessened. My problem is that I think they are so darned beautiful that I just want to keep snapping pictures.

I’ve been known to go on an adventure such as a hike with a friend (Scarborough Mom and Pad Thai especially can confirm this) and literally take hundreds and hundreds more pictures than they did on the same trip. Yea, that’s just me.

A dear friend was simulating my cell phone picture taking recently to my Sweet-Smelling Girlfriend. Yes, obviously she has been a victim of numerous adventures with me and my photo shooting. I did have to laugh though because, well, she was right.

All these photos remind me of good times. I put my favorites up on my screensaver on my desktop and smile as they scroll through. I frame a few of my favorites or just print them out and hang them on the wall by my desk at work. I share them with family and I put them up on Facebook. I rejoice in the memories and feelings they bring up when I look at them.

Just last weekend, I snapped a shot that I just can’t stop looking at. It’s of me and my Sweet-Smelling Girlfriend on the beach. But, you don’t see the beach. You actually really only see a bit of my face with hers leaning into me. It’s more of the expression that is on each of our faces that makes the picture so wonderful. I’ve got a double-dimple, closed-mouth profile smile going on and she has the most intense look in her eyes – looking directly into the camera. Looking into my soul. And it’s not intense in a bad way, but intense as in being at home in my arms. It’s new love, but it’s comfortable love. It’s love without words. It’s a picture that makes taking thousands of pictures so worthwhile. It’s one of those pictures that doesn’t happen very often. It’s one good shot. One darned good shot.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Me and Elmo: We’ve Got Our Own Little Worlds

As my relationship with my Sweet-Smelling Girlfriend is developing (and is going so very well by the way), so many conversations come up. I find myself rediscovering or reanalyzing myself as I try to explain and show who I am to her.

One of the basics that I know for certain about myself is that I have an odd trust in mankind. I will admit it to be naïve on a certain level. I tend to always see the good in everyone. I guess I live in my own little world. Like Elmo’s World as my girlfriend says.

A well-worn and well-loved Elmo.

When you put your deepest trust in people, you expect them to keep what you’ve shared, to hold your thoughts, your secrets. You assume that they would do this. You assume they won’t ever try to hurt you…especially using the knowledge about you that you’d given them. What is the reason that they would choose to hurt you? Isn’t everyone just born good?

This way of thinking, obviously, has its drawbacks. Mostly in the name of hurt or broken hearts. Yea, as you know, I’ve gotten my heart broken by people like this. On numerous occasions. But, you know what? My hurt heals. My heart heals. It is strong. I am strong. I won’t give these people that kind of power over me.

I’d still rather go through life seeing people as good. And focusing on their good sides (everyone has one of these, don’t they?) instead of always putting people down or not choosing to ever fully open up. Why worry about what could happen? Worrying about what hurtful things they could do to you? To me?

Some people don’t even realize they are putting out bad or saying things that will come back to hurt you. Gosh, to say that they do it for their own twisted motivation seems so foreign to me. But, maybe that’s my naïveté again?

Yea, so maybe Barbara’s World is full of sunshine and fluffy bunnies. Full of smiley people all holding hands. Full of people with warm hearts looking out for one another. Baking cookies. Laughing. Hugging. Is that a bad thing? I don't think so. I sure like living in Barbara’s World. Wanna join me?

How do you like to live? Do you live with worry or do you go head-in to situations and relationships believing everything will be good? I'd love to hear your comments below!

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Dim Sum and PDAs for Lunch

So, Friday, I went out for lunch with my Sweet-Smelling Girlfriend. Dim Sum. My first time having that.  Besides the shrimp dumplings, the steamed greens were my favorite. Bok choy? Broccorabi? Not sure what it was exactly but with the sweet, thick soy drizzled on them they were scrumptious. So were the kisses I gave my Sweet-Smelling Girlfriend the moment we got back in her car in the parking lot.
“We’re being watched,” she announced after looking out of the corner of her eye. I paused and pulled away from my amorous advances. Sure enough, kiddy corner from us, were three pairs of eyes. A mother and a young son (about 9ish) in the front seat of their van, and a young girl¸ I’d put her at 14 or 15 tops, smoking a cigarette and leaning on the hood of their van. Obviously, not old enough to be legally smoking. But that wasn’t stopping her and neither was her mom. My gaydar immediately went off with her though.
The Young Cigarette Lesbian yelled something. I sure as heck wish we had heard her. We did hear the mother yell back, “Don’t mind her, she’s being fresh.” We just smiled and I waved. I was not embarrassed or ashamed of our behavior one bit. What we were doing did not require a room (which is a possible shout out that she may have said, though I’m hoping it was a ‘you go girls!’). I gave my Sweet-Smelling Girlfriend one more kiss in the open and we left so she could get back to work. Our dim sum and kissing lunch break was over.

Dim Sum sampling.

Maybe I’m different than most people. Okay, strike that maybe. I am different. I so know I am. I believe that people should show their affections for others openly. I’m all about public displays of affection (aka PDAs). I enjoy seeing the physical connection two people are sharing. Whether it be new love or mature love holding hands while walking or touching an arm during sweet conversation. Yes, there is an over-the-top amount that should not be shown in public. I think what most people think is appropriate though is so Walt Disney.
My choice would be to push these PDAs to another limit. I use Italy as a gauge. When I was in Italy, I was struck by all the times I saw couples totally entranced with each other. The passion of their kisses, their embraces, their looking at one another and smiling or laughing between the affection (which is really all part of the affection), made such an impression on me. It was how I always believed love should be and shown between two people. Of course, the back drop of the amazing cliff sides descending down to the sea and the quality of light of Naples didn’t hurt either.
So, why are people not as affectionate out in public as they may be in their own homes? Are they affectionate in their own homes? Do we take enough time out of our lives to show our affections? Are we worried about what the children may think? What if the children could see that there is a possibility that love does exist between two people? Divorce rates are so high and I think people and kids especially lose faith in the possibility of love. What do they think about with their own futures? Do they think that relationships and love are not permanent?
Today, people don’t seem to stay in relationships as long. I’m not sure if they are always thinking there is something better or different out there, especially during trying or difficult times. Sometimes, there are reasons why relationships shouldn’t last and that is okay too. But, if there is a good connection, a scary thought for me is that people aren’t physically showing each other the love they have by being affectionate in their own homes.
If couples were allowed, or more open, to show their affections freely throughout each and every day, maybe things would be different? I don’t care if they are gay or straight. (I was in a gay marriage legal state by the way). They would be constantly reminding their partner of the love they have for them. They would be showing the world their commitment. They would be putting out good vibrational energy to the universe. They would be making their lunch breaks from work all that much more interesting than just dim sum.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Things I Learned Today … and all before 8:30 a.m.

1. It takes me 5 to 6 times before I'm comfortable driving to and from somewhere so I don't get lost. I was on my 2nd time back from Methuen, MA. I got lost.
2. 93n to 101e to 95n is not the preferred way. It takes much longer to get to Maine this way.
3. If I miss 495N again, I will turn around and try again. Despite 93 going north, it's not really my north.
4. I sleep better with a beautiful woman by my side.
5. I like the smell of aforementioned’s perfume on me when I leave.
6. Calvin Klein’s One smells way better on her than it does on me.
7. I don't like when there is a skip in my absolute favorite song on my favorite songs mixed cd.
8. Moose never seem to be in the roadway when the signs say to watch for them. And, if they were, can they read to know that they are supposed to be near the signs so we know?
9. Women who drive in vehicles with the personalized license plate 'Jett' look nothing like Joan. Nothing.
10. There are lots of dead skunks on Mondays.
11. The day has just started…I’m sure there are many more things to learn today.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

The Sensuality of Chocolate aka Your Cocoa Mistress

I woke up thinking about chocolate. Actually, I went to bed thinking about chocolate. And, how I wanted a piece but I had just brushed my teeth and was too tired to do it a second time. I wasn’t thinking about any old candy bar, but a piece of smooth, dark chocolate. The kind that just melts in your mouth and coats every taste bud with a rich sensuality. Sexy chocolate.

Bliss and Andes. Sexy dark or sexy mint.

I think as I’ve gotten older, I look at chocolate differently. As kids, when we got a chance to eat candy or chocolate, we’d eat it like we may never be given the chance again.

That’s one of the reasons why I’ve always had it out and available for my girls. It was never taboo. For them, they’d ask if they could have some M&Ms or whatever chocolate-coated goodness I’d have peering from clear storage containers on the kitchen counter. I’d put some in a little metal condiment or kitchen prep bowl for them. There was a ritual to it. A pleasure that wasn’t forbidden. To this day, if you come to my house, I always have an open selection of chocolates available. My girls occasionally ask (and, yes, they do still ask) if they can have some. But, they can also go days without it.

Even with a little bloom (that harmless white), a few Ghiradelli 60% chips are delightful.

The current selection of chocolates out and available in our house are various dark chocolate bars, Mallo cups, peanut butter cups (both milk and dark), Power Berries (yummy fruity filled chocolate goodness from Trader Joe’s), dark chocolate covered pomegranate seeds and M&Ms – both peanut and plain. I always sort through them and throw out the blue ones. Why did they ever get rid of the light brown ones in lieu of the artificially, god-awful bright blue ones? Those aren’t chocolate.

So, back to that piece of chocolate I awoke thinking of… Does it hurt us to eat chocolate everyday? By the bus load? Probably. But, a small amount? No. I remember reading in Martina Navratilova’s book, Shape Your Self, that she’d treat herself to a small piece of chocolate every day. (And, how did I not know I was gay as a kid when I had a crush on her?) She wasn’t withholding, wasn’t eliminating something she took great pleasure in. I guess I’m the same way.

You so know this is your mistress. It has Her and She right in the name.

Everything in moderation. That’s been my theory to life and my diet for the last few years. I don’t not allow myself to eat things. I just pay attention to how much I eat. When you think of it, if you ate half a chocolate cake, it would start off good. Really good. But, when you finished it, you’d say, “Holy geez! (Or some other superlative). I didn’t need all that!” And, you’d be overloaded on sugar and your taste buds would be maxed out and you’d feel such guilt you’d not eat chocolate again for a month to punish yourself.

You will probably regret eating this entire bar. But a bite on the other hand...that's heaven.

But, with a small piece (or two) of quality chocolate every day, you can savor it in a way you can’t with half a cake. The experience of unwrapping it and perhaps breaking off a piece becomes part of the ritual. The initial taste of it on your tongue slowly grows to envelop your entire mouth. The creaminess of its melting continues into the back of your throat as you swallow it. Your body awakens. You find you lick your lips. The taste lingers even after you think it’s gone. There is a whole sensuality surrounding it. It’s like having just given a lover a long, passionate kiss goodbye. So, instead of reaching for another piece right away, enjoy that feeling. Or, you’ll have just invited a mistress into your home. And, that is never a good thing.

What is your favorite chocolate treat? Should it be a daily thing? Do you have a mistress in your home? Please share your comments!

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There's a chocolate sex scene in my book... Unexpectations