Tag Archives: DPchallenge

Holiday Madness Treasures in the Random Overheard

Recommended Reading Soundtrack:  Make it Home by Juliana Hatfield (classic from holiday episode of My So Called Life!)

When I read this week’s writing challenge topic, I found myself in a whirlwind listening to my little world’s background noise of random people, radio show hosts, television, films and even my own tragic mind that never seems to stop talking. I thought to myself, “What might I overhear that could hold the potential of “interesting,” “hilarious,” “witty” or even “thought provoking?”” I was on the hunt, and- I wasn’t having much luck in any of those departments. I ended up resorting to something completely different!

One of my favorite columns in local city papers is the “Overheard” column. In this little paragraph blurb there is always something amusing and maybe not provocative, but just plain bewildering. So, I ended up turning to the internet which we all know is chock-full of random little diddles! When what to my wondering eyes did appear, but an awesome website that catalogs random “overheard” tidbits to make us all laugh (and maybe cry depending on your mood). One of my favorites stood out like a sore thumb in the spirit of the upcoming holiday season kick off, so I thought I would ponder it a little- with you of course!

Guy on cell: My mom’s husband is my dad’s wife’s ex-husband. Now you know why I live in Seattle–as far away as I can get on the continental US.

Bank of America
Seattle, Washington
Overheard by: Thinking holidays must be rough
Posted November 7, 2014 on http://www.overheardeverywhere.com

Much like a scene in a film depicting the one thing everyone loves about holidays, family drama, this overheard statement provokes many of my own favorite scenes that have been burned into my brain through incessant movie watching. I love these types of scenes because they give me the opportunity to laugh at my own personal drama like a coping mechanism. It’s not always easy to remember when that anxiety needle is moving higher and higher to meltdown level in the middle of a situation, but our experiences are linked to our own emotional past.

Stepping back and taking a look at what might be upsetting us from the vantage point of a random passer-by overhearing our conversation might make things a little easier, and in the end, even make us laugh. A lot of people feel technology has made us as human beings more isolated. There are moments when I want to pull my hair out- like when your boss that is in an office right next to your cube refuses to just speak to you and prefers an on-going 1 hour conversation/argument via email.

But there are also moments like standing in a bank and overhearing someone talk about the complexities of their life on a cell phone in a way that helps you cope with your own personal stress. As Thanksgiving in the US slowly creeps around the corner (1 week away, ALERT!), my heart has begun its annual craving for the film Home for the Holidays with classic Anne Bancroft, Holly Hunter and Robert Downey, Jr and directed by Jodie Foster.

turkey_home_holidaysThere is a scene in this film where Downey’s character is cutting 1 of the 2 family turkeys at Thanksgiving dinner, and he accidentally flings it across the table at his angry, intolerant sister. His sister literally blows her top/loses her mind and hurls bigoted expletives at her gay brother like Will Ferrell in Elf’s legendary snowball fight. At first you can’t believe the verbal diarrhea that’s landing in everyone’s food is real. But minutes later everyone recovers through their own sense of humor by sharing their also “not so great” life moments. Owning our “uncool” can be a challenging process, but when we share it with others it brings us closer to one another. It breaks down the invisible fence that we create between one another due to perception and allows us to see that everyone has some life hurdle playing on repeat in their mind and heart. Can you say, “Expectations?”

Maybe now I will keep my antenna up and be a little more cognizant of what people are talking about around me. You never know what door a complete stranger will open for my own mind’s perceptual barriers! Treasures are lurking everywhere, even in the most unexpected places. Perhaps these treasures are the real gifts of our holiday season?

Credit:  Featured picture of tree & lights by Beverly LeFevre, sold on Etsy.

How a Shooting Star Named Baby Sophia Bathed Us in Her Kindness

Recommended Reading Soundtrack:  Stand By Me by Otis Redding on Album Pain in my Heart 

Feeling grumpy, crotchety, stubborn or a bit sequestered today? Get ready, because that is about to change, I promise! In pondering the significance of kindness in my life, as blogger Erica has challenged our community this week, I am finding myself deeply grateful for this opportunity to talk about the beauty of the human spirit. It is a place in our hearts that always draws us together, even when we think those words are cliché or just a bunch of hooey!

babysophia

My mind stores up moments of kindness like a big jar of peanut M&Ms that teachers tempt kids with through a guessing game of how many are harbored within that glass. They are colorful, sweet and have the added bonus of not rotting our teeth. And I digress. Then I came across an awesome story on the Washington Post by Sarah Larimer and Casey Capachi titled “Today in uplifting internet news: Redditors help father who lost his infant daughter.” The story was like an envelope being opened on stage for Best Motion Picture at the Oscars and given the chance, I couldn’t help myself but open it. I didn’t even question opening it, as of course I have limited views on news stories here, seriously!

The story- a 26 year old father who recently lost his newborn named, Sophia. One of the few pictures he had of her with open eyes and alertness in tow was also full of her evident struggle to survive- hospital equipment. As the tears started pouring, my eyes and breath strained to read more of the story about a shooting star that flew across our sky for only a brief moment. He submitted this one picture to Reddit and asked if anyone could Photoshop out the tubes to create a memory that would survive for him and the mother.

“Since she was in the hospital her whole life we never were able to get a photo without all her tubes. Can someone remove the tubes from this photo?” Wrote the 26 year old father named Nathen Steffel

The father didn’t only receive a beautiful, single edited photo, he received thousands of messages and also some mailed presents containing drawings, even an embroidered blanket. This story is a beautiful representation of our capacity to love and how one request can be an opportunity for thousands of people to respond in kindness and appreciation for the preciousness of life and how it affects us.

kindness_changeworld

The people that responded saw these parents’ pain in their own experiences. They saw themselves and wanted to give comfort and love. Beautiful compassion for the human experience that we all endure every day of both living and passing away. And I leave this blog post with one thing- thank you, Sophia, for gracing our world with this beautiful opportunity to remember how fleeting and luminous our lives are. Your kindness will help me remember to not lose sight of what is important in this world, how we choose to live our lives and “pay it forward.”

At the end of one of my favorite films, Scrooged, Bill Murray’s character gave a speech that no matter what, always made me crave more. I would sit up at night, even in the summer, and replay this one scene just to see the son of his assistant who had stopped talking since witnessing his father’s death, to say one thing, “And God Bless Us Everyone.” If you have time today, check out this article and re-watch the scene in Scrooged (Click Here!). Remember, “If you give, then it can happen, then the miracle can happen to you.”

Let’s Rock Big Love!

Loneliness Kicked My Achy Breaky Heart

Recommended Reading Soundtrack:  Transcendental Blues by Steve Earl

When I was young, I remember being in the car with my Mom when the Hall and Oates song “Maneater” was playing on the radio. I was singing along, “Whoa, here she comes. Watch out boy, she’ll ‘chew your BUTT.” Laughter ensued by my mom, of course. If you don’t know that song (and I definitely wouldn’t hold it against you if you haven’t!), there is a reason as to why that was so funny.

Yes, my ears and brain had a few wires crossed and I actually confused the word “butt” with “up.” Oh, the sound of melancholy 80s pop love songs- the turmoil of Madonna in her song “Crazy for You.” Picture me in the back seat of our white Dodge Minivan, afraid at the humble age of 12 of the prospect of being alone for the rest of my life. Alone, alone, ALONE. Really!?

When I started thinking about what my greatest teacher in life has been, my heart met my mind in front of the great Scarecrow in the Wizard of Oz. All kind of directions were popping up, but I was led to an unexpected place within myself. The thoughts opened the door to the root of my life’s greatest fear, and greatest teacher- the fear of being alone, abandoned, all by my lonesome with my own “Achy Breaky Heart.” The fact that I can’t stand country music makes the fear that much more substantiated.

ive-finally-stopped-running-away-from-golden-hawn

Loneliness, once my mind’s arch enemy, has become my best friend. Without it I could never have seen the truth of who I am- like a mirror on display simultaneously within me and outside of me. It has taught me time and again the opposite- that I am never alone as I exist in everything I feel, perceive around me.

Once, when I was confronting all the reasons I believed no one would want me and I would die as Bridget Jones’ version of a lonely old “spinster,” and eventually be eaten by wild dogs, I was bluntly asked, “Are you crazy?” He continued, this stranger that was deeply involved in one of the most difficult confession sessions I had ever completed, “Why would you ever believe those things about yourself?”

That question turned out to be one that I am grateful for every day. This fear of being alone has led me on a journey of inner knowing, a “wild goose chase” if you will, that I never thought was possible. Through all the “crazy,” the tears, the crippling mental self flagellation, I have come out to the world with the understanding that it was only me, myself and I that could attempt to isolate myself from my truth and the people that operate within it.

reflectionoflightWhat is my truth? That in every laugh, impulsive reaction of every person I find annoying, adore, or look up to- there I am. No, I don’t have multiple personality disorder, but what I do have is a case of being human. The most difficult and awesome part of the experience is that all I see in others is a simple reflection of me.

In the end of the film, While You Were Sleeping, when Bullock’s character Lucy confesses she really is not the fiancé of the man she is about to marry, she explains to mother, father, grandmother, godfather, and sister, that she simply fell in love with not just her fiancé, but ALL of them. And just like that, she was never alone again. Through the fear of my greatest teacher (and many Cure songs of course) I have found a path to loving and appreciating all parts of myself within everyone I encounter. And I am ever abundantly more in love with all aspects of being human, every day.

Finding the Value in the Undervalued

It’s New Year’s. I’m celebrating with friends in DC. My DJ husband is spinning records, doing his usual ignore while drinking a bottle of Jack.

turning_midnight

It turns midnight. I’m alone. Another man makes eye contact, and kisses my cheek. I realize I don’t value myself. Another negative self-perception to confront.

value_myself

Age, Impermanence and All That Jazz

 Recommended reading soundtrack:  Explosions in the Sky, “Your Hand In Mine”

“I had always heard your entire life flashes in front of your eyes the second before you die. First of all, that one second isn’t a second at all, it stretches on forever, like an ocean of time… For me, it was lying on my back at Boy Scout camp, watching falling stars… And yellow leaves, from the maple trees, that lined our street… Or my grandmother’s hands, and the way her skin seemed like paper… And the first time I saw my cousin Tony’s brand new Firebird… And Janie… And Janie… And… Carolyn. I guess I could be pretty pissed off about what happened to me… but it’s hard to stay mad, when there’s so much beauty in the world. Sometimes I feel like I’m seeing it all at once, and it’s too much, my heart fills up like a balloon that’s about to burst… And then I remember to relax, and stop trying to hold on to it, and then it flows through me like rain and I can’t feel anything but gratitude for every single moment of my stupid little life… You have no idea what I’m talking about, I’m sure. But don’t worry… you will someday.” Lester Burnham in the film “American Beauty.”

When I read that quote, when I hear the voice in that quote- no matter how many times- chills run through my body and tears well up in my eyes.  This feeling, although emotional, is an indicator of truth for me.  It epitomizes what the word “age” means to me.  How can we put a value on aging in a culture that markets it as unwanted, something to be resisted?  Every time I find my mind wandering into a fear about aging, I flashback to the version of myself at 21 and I remember how grateful I am to no longer be anywhere in the vicinity of that age.  Kind of like Amanda Peet’s character in the movie “A lot Like Love” (a simple film, yes- but who doesn’t laugh their arse off when she runs into the sliding glass door?) where she is reminded of her punk rock stage in college where she dated angry musicians.    Only I always ended up with drummers.

moonA Time Machine & Magical Spells

Remember Napoleon Dynamite’s brother who can’t let go of his high school football career and is in search of a time travel machine?  I think I would rather endure a Harry Potter spell of vomiting slugs than go back in time.  Especially to high school!  Why?  Because transformation really sweetens the deal in life, and no matter how difficult it gets, I now at least have the emotional tools to deal with things in a more balanced way.  Not everyone has experienced life in the same way- but there is something about age that I just can’t resist deep down.

You Mean I’m going to die?

It is the life, the experience that determines the molding of our belief systems that correlate with our perception of what aging will yield to us.  This includes our infinite potential- all possibilities.  We have a tendency to limit our potential by thinking that age determines something in the abstract about who we are, how we have failed to live up to something that does not even exist.  Do you let expectations about who you are “supposed” to be bring you down, and cloud your enjoyment of life as you age?  Do you remember in your actions that with each day comes the possibility of a life ended?

Sometimes I feel like I am engaged in a race against time. “I have to get this done,” I tell myself.  “If I don’t accomplish this- what will it say about me?  Am I wasting this life?  Am I fulfilling my human purpose to help people and make this world a better place?”  These are all sound questions, but they can get in the way of simply enjoying life as well and seeing how your role unfolds through active, present engagement.  It is the ego’s tendency to put the pressure on, but you can be sure that if you are putting the pressure on yourself to “be” something or “do” something, then you are impeding life’s natural flow and at the same time making yourself miserable.

clock+face+vintage+graphicsfairy6It’s Question Time

Age.  Perhaps the only pressure we should engage in with ourselves as we age should involve the amount of love we hold in our hearts like that balloon that is about to burst- for ourselves and the true beauty of our world as Lester Burnham suggests at the end of his life in American Beauty.

Perhaps we should ask ourselves, when was the last time that we felt “anything but gratitude for every single moment” in our lives and shared that gratitude with those around us?  I am grateful for this moment that I am sharing with you, and hope that together we can approach age as a meaningful gift.   I am also grateful for this opportunity to reflect on my own perception of aging and how it may limit me or empower me to live a life that is engaging and powerful.

A World of Objectification? Maybe.

“In the New Media culture, anything good you do is tossed in a pit, and you are measured by who you are on your worst day.  What’s the Boy Scout code? Trustworthy. Loyal. Helpful. Friendly. Courteous. Kind. Obedient. Cheerful. Thrifty. Brave. Clean. Reverent. I might be all of those things, at certain moments. But people suspect that whatever good you do, you are faking. You’re that guy.”  Alec Baldwin

You have to love it when someone has just had enough, and instead of sitting on the sidelines, they helplessly try to make their peace with their antagonist.  Especially when it surfaces as a public rant.  The rebellious part of me roots them on, but there is the other part of me that feels sad they were brought to the point of insane expressionism.  One minute you can be feeling light and airy like a painting by Monet, the next minute you feel like you’re being devoured by Saturn in one of Goya’s “Black Paintings.”

We’ve all been there- especially at the end of a relationship that has gone totally downhill.  After long periods of distress with anyone, you reach your breaking point.  It is how you handle those breaking points that can create a defining moment in your life.  You might find yourself hurling a spoon of mashed potatoes at your brother’s face like Kevin in the Wonder Years during a family dinner (insert laughter here!).  Or you might be like Alec Baldwin earlier this week, writing an angry manifesto to the world of media saying “goodbye to the public life”.

Projecting Our Positives and Negatives

human_shadowYes, guilty as charged- I read it.  And, I have to admit, I feel compassion for him.  People who live in the public eye, whether they are “celebrities” or “politicians”, have drawn a tough lot in many ways.  Everything they say or do is scrutinized, judged.  The person that once existed in that shell of a body eventually becomes objectified by a media that has become a constant feeding source for the ego.  They aren’t human beings anymore to the public that reads these stories or checks out their picture in People magazine.  They become a story, an image to laugh at, an image to aspire to- but the human being, the world unto itself, slowly disappears in the words that try to paint a picture about them.  The rabble will project their light and darkness on them and make them become what they want in that moment.  It’s like an energy vampire feeding time.

Remembering Compassion, Remembering We Are Not Objects

compassion-sunday-begins-with-youIn conjunction with this, I recently saw the film about one of our world’s most objectified women- Diana with Naomi Watts, directed by Oliver Hirschbiegel.  I knew nothing about this film, and saw it on Amazon one night, wondering what the heck it was and its take on her life.  To say the least, it was very well done.  The film showed how difficult the life of Princess Diana became towards the end due to the media, eventually leading to her tragic death.  She developed all of these strategies to get to places without the media’s knowledge, just to do something that we would see as mundane.  Getting a hamburger for her was like obtaining a visa to visit Azerbaijan.

Towards the end of the film, before her fatal car crash, she attempted to eat a meal at her hotel’s restaurant, when a camera flashes from another diner.  She had absolutely no privacy and you could see in Naomi Watts’ performance a shell of a person that had lost the love of her life because she couldn’t avoid the media’s attention.

Alec Baldwin stated in his letter that, “In the New Media culture, anything good you do is tossed in a pit, and you are measured by who you are on your worst day.”  I find this statement fascinating, because it is true that we appear to another as they choose to perceive us.  Yes, we all have “bad” days.  And, yes- we all have “good” days.  That’s because we are all of it- both good and bad.  We never know what a person is going through, how their world may be falling apart or coming together.  Knowing this, it may help us to be more compassionate beings and remember when you do see someone falling apart- that could be me.