Tag Archives: Perception

Hearty Clichés Winning Our Hearts

Recommended Reading (and Dancing!)Soundtrack: “Let’s Go” (featuring Icona Pop) by Tiesto

Reading the reviews AFTER seeing a movie and loving it is always interesting. The critics that detest it give rise to feelings of betrayal. How could they destroy the film that won my heart?! And, what does it say about me, the one boob out there that actually liked it?

mask_of_egoI find it even more enjoyable when it gives me the opportunity to laugh at my deeply offended ego. But hey, sometimes it’s a process to get to that “laughable” moment. With that said, recently I found myself in love with the film, based on the novel by Francois Lelord, titled “Hector and the Search for Happiness.” It wasn’t the film’s captivating cinematography, enthralling script, or phenomenal acting that won me over, it was the humanity of the story. So, I can see why my interpretation would have conflicted with the “critics.” Hey, I’m only human.

As one of those wacky humans that is drawn to stories that instigate reflection with lots of crying on my part, I am always soul searching. My brother loves to send me movie trailers that he knows will cause me to “ball my eyes out” while watching. It’s like I’m reliving that scene in the film Scrooged when Bill Murray witnesses a childhood Christmas Eve moment in his life where his mother says, “Goodnight, Frankie Angel.” My brother is the Ghost of Christmas Past shouting, “Niagara Falls, Frankie Angel!”

I am a Hearty Cliché

As I journeyed with Hector on his search to all the places around the world he thought could teach him happiness I pondered his lessons and tried to stay on top of them as Hector kept getting into conflicting situations that were both painful and enlightening. One of my favorite “lessons” was:

Happiness is a certain way of seeing things.

Hector-will-make-you-happy

Every aspect of happiness Hector covers in his mind is greeted with our old friend, perception. Not only the one I’ve noted, but all of them! Because it is about exploring our perceptions that helps us see past them and come back to that hearty cliché within us all. Yes, I own it San Francisco Chronicle (I read your review!), I am a “hearty cliché” and proud of it!

When I was going through my divorce I was definitely not happy. But the “during” part of our hard, life-changing experiences where we have to make those tough choices are never going to be filled with rainbows and leprechauns. Later, as I saw the whole picture over that one detail- the yucky smudge on my face, I couldn’t help but laugh and feel the happiness that we innately relate to. And that happiness is tied to every negative emotion that I entertain in my own life’s happiness search.

Sometimes it helps me to put on an anthem song while I’m plummeting into the depths of despair and step outside of my life for a moment. As I watch it taking place like I watched Hector struggling to come to terms with a life threatening situation in a jail cell shared with a lone rat, and drug criminals pointing big guns in his face, I not only feel better about my own life but I also create a little detachment from my self-induced rock bottom. There is only one way to go once you hit rock bottom, that’s up- thank you hearty clichés!

Leaving Where We Come From

Recommended Reading Soundtrack: On Your Own by Distant Cousins

There are moments in our lives when we grieve. When they happen, I feel we go through a deciphering process of what it is that we are really grieving versus what we think we are grieving. Our heart rests in that moment between you and an emotional hankering for what you thought you knew- sadness, joy, forgiveness and love. These are the things that we take with us, no matter how far away the plane ride or the drive is from where you come from.

But the question remains, why is it so hard to leave where we come from?

There are scores of films, music and books about it. And I seem to gravitate toward many of these stories. Our story is a powerful thing, easily mixing with every form of communication we have created. All of our stories have one thing in common- the truth of who we are is buried inside of us along with veils of expectations, perceptions and sometimes denial. The human heart will always play the role of the decipherer and give us the direction we are constantly seeking amidst all of these veils.

drseuss_memoriesAs I was re-watching the ending of the film “This Is Where I Leave You”, that old familiar song began to play in my heart. The emotions welled as Jason Bateman’s character says farewell to his family after coming together for his father’s funeral. Each sibling goes their separate ways, but even though they were physically going in different directions, you can see the inner conflict in their faces and body language. No words were needed, just a great song and a look to say it all.

Where we come from is more than a house, more than some land, and more than a voice that replays over and over again in our head like a mixed tape. It’s a complicated, dimensional tale that produced not only who we have chosen to be, but how we react to the world around us, and every judgment we hold against ourselves (beware!). When you pull all of that together into a person, a magical thing unfolds- life.

Sometimes it does not seem so magical to the eye, but we just keep truck’n nonetheless. Why? I’m sure you, me and everyone around us continues to ask this question- especially when you want to pull your hair out and just throw your cell phone, computer or tablet into a lake. Giving up seems like this big open space that could potentially swallow up all of our frustrations without much harm. But is giving up letting go of our expectations or deciding not to believe in our dreams anymore?

Nothing says hope like WALL-E!
Nothing says hope like WALL-E!

“Don’t give up hope. It’s a chore.” Margaret Atwood

Recently I had the great opportunity to hear an interview with author Margaret Atwood. At the end of the interview, the journalist asked her if she had one last thing she wanted to say to the audience. Quickly she scrambled to say, “Don’t give up hope. It’s a chore.” Wise words? Wise words, indeed. What if leaving where we came from wasn’t about saying goodbye to all that good stuff that makes us who we are today, but about embracing it and knowing that it will always be there in every good thing you do?

I can’t help but be intrigued by these words of wisdom by Ms. Atwood. The idea that choosing hope over all the naysayers (we are our toughest critics!) and really believing in yourself and your dreams is not something that just happens- that you have to perpetuate it and be conscious of it like any other practice. All I can do is repeat it over and over again like a mantra- a song, a story.

So, this is where I leave you. Remember, “Don’t give up hope. It’s a chore.” You have to keep on truck’n- your life is worth it.

What’s Going to Be Your 2015 Top of the Pops?

Recommended Reading Soundtrack: Hold On When You Get Love, and Let Go When You Give It by the Stars on album No One is Lost

A directionally challenged life

The beginning of a new year, the end of another- an opportunity marked by reflection, honoring and engagement with our personal dreams and intentions. It’s a special occasion where the vision for our future, and the present state of our hearts holds a deeper meaning. As we live day to day there seems to be an inner compass within us continuously directing the traffic of our choices. Now is the time to look at how well we’ve been listening to that inner compass, or better yet- where we’ve been living a directionally challenged life.

new-years-best-of.jpeg

Like the new season of a favorite show (Hmmmm…., can you say “Downton Abbey!”), the release of an album by an artist we’ve been following for most of our lives, or the opening of all those end of year movie gems- we get to have our own refreshing personal premier of something reflecting our annual personal growth.

I don’t believe in types, I believe in people. Tom Branson, Downton Abbey, Season 4

If you are a die-hard fan, preparing for the first episode of a favorite show’s new season actually takes some work. There’s nothing like turning on the first episode after a year and feeling like you are asleep in one of those adult nightmares where you show up for your senior year in high school and basically have forgotten EVERYTHING. I decided to dig up some Downton Abbey in my own preparation for the U.S. Sunday night’s highly anticipated 2015 season 5 “coming out” party. As I listened and enjoyed all the drama taking place, I noticed a line that had a profound effect on me.

mast-downton-s4-series-icon-hires

Downton’s progressive character Tom Branson was enjoying a conversation with an attractive and potential romantic interest, a teacher who shares many of his socialist ideals. She was expressing her opinion about “types” of people during a time when classism was beginning its big dive in early 20th century England. Branson rejected her notion that “types” of people existed in his heart with a great line, “I don’t believe in types, I believe in people.”

I’ve been dwelling on this line for the past few days as it is a perfect reflection of not only the last year of my life, but probably the past 25 years. Seeing past the stereotypes and labels of the world around us frees us from the expectations of our lifetime of brainwashing. It frees us from all the pressure we place on ourselves to be a certain way, or meet some society’s expectations of what a “good” or “successful” person is supposed to look like.

attitude-blue-choices-color-life-Favim.com-287558As we get older, we tend to play this out in different ways. Usually in our immediate post-high school years we experience freedom from the cliques that held us hostage from loving all those wacky aspects of ourselves. But then we start to put a new kind of pressure on ourselves like career and relationship successes. Next, we hit a wall with age 40 and berate ourselves for not fulfilling all of those “dreams” or “career deadlines” we were “supposed” to fulfill (Think Billy Crystal in “City Slickers”!).

But you know what’s awesome about your life? You have a choice to either go down the path of great expectations or take the path less traveled from your heart. The cool thing about this choice is that you get to determine what this path less traveled is and what it means to you. You get to determine you. You are that rock star that sits down to write a new album; you are that writer that gets to create a new series about what’s important to you. You are the leading lady or gentleman in your film.

There is a great conversation in the film “The Holiday,” where very old in body character Arthur played by Eli Wallach is out to dinner with Iris, Kate Winslet’s character. As she talks about her rather dysfunctional relationship, Arthur looks at her and tells her, “In the movies we have leading ladies, and we have the best friend. You, I can tell, are a leading lady. But for some reason are behaving like the best friend.” Iris responds, “You are so right. You’re supposed to be the leading lady in your own life for God’s sake.”

Top_of_Pops

So the big question remains. As we embark together into 2015, what do we want our “Top of the Pops” line-up to be? What do you want your greatest hits to be? Remember, whether you choose the path of great expectations or the path less traveled, neither one of them will be easy. But I have an inkling that one is more rewarding. Being the lead in your own life is about authenticity. It’s about owning all of you and making choices that reflect your greatest hits list.

Like the song by the Stars says, “It’s time to take the weakest thing in you, and then beat the b$#@%#$@* with it!” Cheers to an awesome 2015- from my heart to yours.

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.

The_Killers_I've_Got_Soul_in_2009

I Can’t Sing, But I’ve Got Soul.

Recommended Reading Soundtrack:  Let Your Love Grow Tall by Passion Pit on Manners

It was a Saturday night at a popular karaoke bar, and I found myself getting geared up with the great abundance of songs offered by the designated “karaoke professionals.” Is that a real title?  I couldn’t help myself- I actually went on stage and sang a specially chosen song from the Disney film, The Little Mermaid. And even though I totally put everyone to sleep with my mediocre interpretation, I had fun fulfilling several years’ worth of karaoke fantasies.

What am I trying to communicate here, you may ask? Well, keep reading.

The film Shallow Hal – pretty silly and not too complicated in its message.  But simplicity aside, I actually took away something meaningful from the film which included Gwyneth Paltrow, who typically appears in waif like form, dressed up to be an obese woman.

In an interview that took place with Paltrow after the film was released, she talked about how she kept the fat suit on one day to see what it felt like to be an obese person in life. One of the things that she noticed was how people were afraid to make eye contact with her. And that experience yielded a feeling of loneliness and an understanding of how isolating it is to be extremely overweight in our modern culture. The world around us is pretty ego based, and the “judgment thing” can definitely make us feel alone or give cause to isolate ourselves so we don’t have to experience it from others.

Soul_SomeECards

Judgment, stigma- whatever it is that we fear, let’s face it. Somewhere in our lives we have given our power away to it and allowed that fear to hold us back from either doing what we love, are passionate about, or shield ourselves from experiencing our destiny- joy. But, there is this line in a U2 song that stood out recently during a monotonous drive home in rush hour traffic even though I’ve probably heard it a thousand times. The lyric is from the song Elevation, and it goes like this:

Can’t sing, but I’ve got soul.
The goal is Elevation.

With that line, flashbacks of embarrassing and exhilarating karaoke streamed through my mind. And there I was again, singing a song from The Little Mermaid on a Saturday night to a buzzed crowd that was waiting for something a little more “dance” inspiring. And so it goes, I can’t sing- but I’ve got soul, baby. In my head, Damon Albarn from Blur was next to me on stage in concert in Japan yelling, “Karaoke! Karaoke!” (Obscure live concert reference alert, I apologize!)

Acknowledging that you’ve got soul, baby!

It may seem like a little thing. The way we make choices based on what others will “think.” But truthfully there is no such thing as a “little thing.” All experiences are relevant to both our heart and our mind. Consciously connecting that mind with the heart requires a frank complexity in our self-created world of modern love. Acknowledging that you’ve got soul is an important step in reaching that goal. So, where have you shut out soul in your life in places that you have it?

Soul reaches beyond the technical. It is about heart. It is personified in our experiences with one another as we navigate a world of opportunity guaranteed to also spark fear. It’s worth it, to acknowledge the fear but not let it dictate your choices. You never know where you will end up.

In the famous words of Jimmy Rabbitte in the awesome (and sometimes inappropriate- excuse the bad language below, please!) film The Commitments about a group of talented Dubliners, AKA “The Blacks of Ireland,” come together to show that they’ve got soul-

“Soul is the music people understand. Sure it’s basic and it’s simple. But it’s something else ’cause, ’cause, ’cause it’s honest, that’s it. It’s honest. There’s no f*%$^#& bulls$%#. It sticks its neck out and says it straight from the heart. Sure there’s a lot of different music you can get off on but soul is more than that. It takes you somewhere else. It grabs you by the balls and lifts you above the shite.”

Ladies & Gents, Let’s Rock Big Love with some super soul! (I know you’re hiding some in there, somewhere)

Abandoning My Abandonment with a Song for You

Recommended Reading Soundtrack:  Song for You by Alexi Murdoch on album Four Songs

Santa Fe 2012 Sun + Aspens by JBurnham

Autumn is my favorite season in New Mexico. The weather holds a place in my soul as cool contentment, and to top it off, the ABQ International Balloon Fiesta whisks away the hot summer and carries with it sweet relief. As the aspen leaves change to a gleaming yellow on the mountain side and begin their annual transformation, it is also an ideal time in my heart to reflect on any baggage I’ve been carrying around that is also ready to transform and break away into the potential for new growth.

Stay with Me

132As I drove to work this morning in bumper to bumper traffic due to the parade of balloons riding the breeze over our roadways, I found myself reluctantly sucked into the song “Stay with Me” by Sam Smith and realized it was time for me to come clean with my greatest fear- abandonment. The thing is, I’ve come to the realization that this time it is not about me feeling abandoned, but the guilt I carry every day for feeling like I abandoned my step-daughter and how that made her feel, with no opportunity to tell her that I am sorry.

What If?

In all the times I have felt alone and abandoned, the thought of causing another human being the same pain is like torture for me. It has been an issue for me my whole life and a major source of my old co-dependency issues. A struggle that pushes and pulls my heart strings, leaving me feeling suspended over an empty ocean. But a wise teacher once told me that when you experience pushing and pulling in your heart, you are not living from your greatest potential, you are living in fear’s shadow of “what if”. My fear has always been rooted in avoiding hurting others, without the realization that people are responsible for managing their own suffering. Yet, when the other person became a child the game changed for me.

empathy

I had made the decision to end my marriage because I witnessed how my unhealthy relationship with my step-daughter’s father was affecting her in a negative way and causing her to feel responsible for the management of my own emotional pain. The cycle of the “balancer” was unfolding before my very own “balancer” eyes, and I knew it was unfair to her. She deserved more.

You is kind.  You is smart.  You is important.

Being shut out from a step-child without any communication is so painful.  There is a scene at the end of the film “The Help” when Aibleen is fired and must leave behind her employer’s child who she had been raising for the duration of the child’s life.  And she is forced to say goodbye to a little girl, knowing there is no way she can understand why  she is leaving.  Knowing that she will think Aibleen has abandoned her.  The scene captures everything that I felt in having to walk away from my marriage without the opportunity to give consolation to this dear child that had such a profound impact in my life.

I would have done anything to say, “I love you with all my heart, I will always think of you as a daughter, and would be honored to continue to play a role in your life.” But karma did not allow for this gift. And, so it goes.

yi-peng-festivalNow it is time for me to place this unrelenting sadness into the fire of one of those illuminated balloons floating over New Mexico and watch it disappear into the morning sunrise. It is time for me to abandon my abandonment and trust that all the conversations I’ve had in my head and in my dreams with her have somehow reached through time and space and given her peace. Sometimes there is nothing else we can do but let it go in pure, unattached love.  This time I shall watch my abandonment float away with a wish that you may know how loved and beautiful you are, always.

So Dear A, in the words of Alexi Murdoch in his “Song For You,”

So today I wrote a song for you
Cause a day can get so long
And I know it’s hard to make it through
When you say there’s something wrong

So I’m trying to put it right
Cause I want to love you with my heart
All this trying has made me tired
And I don’t know even where to start

Maybe that’s a start.

GROUP EXERCISE- Reflections on Owning Your Uncool

In your own quest to live your life from your greatest potential, your Rock Star Self, what is a great fear that you have avoided looking at and accepting?  How has this fear prohibited you from living your life from a place of joy, and what opportunities have you chosen not to take because of this fear?  This is a moment to seize in your vulnerability, and share with the deepest part of your self that is patiently waiting to connect with you.  Embrace your “uncool” and Rock Big Love!