Changing The Current

20 Jul

It’s the downfall of every  parent.

You have your plan …the  snacks, a good attitude, and the sunscreen. You think you’re set. Until … the lines.

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Duuuuuude.

You’re there to celebrate …birthdays, anniversaries, milestones, vacations. All that.

And you thought you’d hit a couple of snags here and there, but when this happens and ugh … you just feel that vein in your forehead ready pop during your George Costanza moment.

Now mind you, I was prepared for it. I even prepared my kids for it, so when we encountered a 55 minute wait at the Radiator Springs Attraction at Disney’s California Adventure I was totally on top of it. I knew there would be a battle for the spot in front of the chain, for the one next to the rails so that climbing would be possible, for the spot in the shade, for the spot in the sun, for the spot in front of me, for the spot next to the wall, for the spot with of view of the attraction.

I knew there would be a lack of patience running rampant throughout the park and with the heat in the 90s I prepared. I did. I had all the snacks and the positive vibe going on, but nothing can really suck the air out of your balloon like long lines and tired kids.

And I witnessed this happening in multiple languages throughout the park, but the one Dad rubbing his head and having a George-Costanza-Serenity-Now! moment  … he seemed to be having the toughest day yet.

The amount of pressure used to rub his forehead was the first clue and his 14-year-old son was the second. Had the cause and effect right in front of me.

I could totally see this happening and I nodded my head like … yeah I know, I know.

But luckily for me I never got to that point that day. I was able to salvage some moments that could have really turned gruesome in that heat.

Thanks for the deep breathing and peaceful talks Deepak Chopra OnDemand.

But aside from this meditation guru helping me find the Zen, two complete strangers helped keep things in the right frame of mind.

We met these two lovely ladies that just happened to get in line with us. They saw the birthday buttons on my kids and began conversation. It was regular stranger-nice-day-good-luck conversation. But when we got on the rapids ride laughter ensued with all of us and all the waiting in line from the morning faded as we enjoyed moments of unexpectedness and fun on that raft.

These ladies had such a good vibe, and were totally digging our laughter fest, that everyone on that raft gelled.

The rest of the day followed the same pattern and I was glad to have met those two ladies. The universe had put us on the FastPass tip and we bumped into them, helping to improve the rest of our day. It’s really too bad that the father of the teenage boy hadn’t met them earlier as well. Things might have turned out differently for him. Never know.

So while reflecting about the day’s events, I remembered those two ladies and hoped that the universe had paid them back for crossing our path. Conversations with strangers are something I don’t do often, especially when I’m with my kids. Sometimes things get weird, like that time at Michael’s Craft Store when this guy swore I was a spy and was upset because he thought I had overheard his conversation with headquarters and knew I had told “her” to do “it.” I didn’t know who “it” or “her” were,  I almost had to call security.

But this time … this time the conversation changed the current of our flow. Their kindness and vibe was a good thing that day and I was grateful.

 

 

Monday Memories …

18 Jul
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Starting off the week right by remembering a special moment … The beach is always a good place to start.

 

 

 

Extra Cherries …

16 Jul

It never gets any easier, people say it does. But it doesn’t. It hurts just as much today as it did six years ago and you just have to live with it.

It’s been six years since my Dad passed away and it’s always a tough week as I celebrate my daughter’s birthday one day and remember my Dad’s passing the next. I try to celebrate his life instead of agonizing about his death and why he got sick, but I end up just missing his presence everywhere I go that day.

In smelling his last bottle of cologne he left on the bathroom counter, or hearing the few messages he left on the answering machine, I still feel a sense of closeness. But most of the connection I get is from the stories and adventures we had together.

Like when I used to visit him at work back in my elementary and junior high school days. I’d have to sit in a booth, or at the counter while he was picking up his check or something. He worked two jobs a lot of the time. This one seemed more fun to me since I was able to eat all the cherries I wanted.

I’d wait for him, checking out the tiki torch lamps, totem polls,  the pink, green, and yellow drink umbrellas hanging out by the green olives, and the rest of the Hawaiian decor that filled the dimly lit room.

 

 

Their specialty was the the Hawaiian-style spare ribs, which were pretty awesome but not my favorite.

I’d sit down and look at the menu pretending I was a customer. I’d say hi to the manager and everyone setting up, and he’d ask me … “You want something to drink? A Shirley Temple?”

I’d smile.

“Yeah,” I’d say.

He’d smile and then walk behind the bar to fix it up. It’s a simple drink really, but I’d always thought it was super special concoction he had created just for me. He’d bring it out in a tall glass, with an umbrella. He’d put a small napkin on the counter, place my drink on it, and then tap the counter.

I’d smile when I saw it.

Extra cherries.

He’d always put extra cherries in it. We’d talk for a minute while I sipped my drink, and most of the conversations escape me at the moment. I don’t remember whether we talked about my day, his day, or if I needed money for sneakers. I don’t remember if he gave me any advice or if we cracked jokes, but we must have because it feels that way.

But the one thing I do remember were all the Shirley Temples and Roy Rogers I shared with him.I remembered the Hawaiian shirts he had to wear as part of his uniform and how he hated them years later, how he never wore a Hawaiian shirt ever again. Even when we went to Hawaii. He said he had worn enough of those to last him a lifetime. I thought they were cool though, I still have one of his in my closet.

We’d sit at the counter or in the booth and it felt cool just to hang out with my Dad for a minute.

When I finished my drink and we had to be on our way, he’d ask if I wanted another.

I’d smile because I knew extra cherries were part of the deal.

That was my Dad, he was an extra cherries kind of guy, and these were the things I thought about all day, and a sadness and hurt filled up my heart that night because he was gone and things would have been so different if he were still here, and my kids missed out on getting to know their grandpa.

But I guess that would mean that I would have to be the extra cherries kind of person in their life.

My Dad was great at it. Me? I’m working on it.

Buen Camino …

 

 

Weekly Photo Challenge: Look Up

13 Jul

Hanging around trying to look for Nemo and Dori when this ginormous dude just happened to pass by … I had to look up.

 

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Weekly Photo Challenge courtesy of The Daily Post.

 

 

Getting Unstuck

11 Jul

Being in a drought  sucks.

Relationship drought. Happiness drought. Pinterest success drought. Writer’s drought.

They all suck. But then you come across something so awesomely well-put together that you’re just inspired to break through and you see the it-can-happen-possibilities.

Yeah.

That’s exactly what happened.

I’d been struggling for a bit with one of my projects and just couldn’t get passed that crappy phase where you write and read and rewrite and then just scrap it. I couldn’t find the right combination and completely forgot what it looked like.

At this point, which happens often in a drought, I usually search the Podcast universe for inspiring talks from writers like Stephen King and  Elizabeth Gilbert, or I search for you-can-do-it articles.

But this time the live show did it for me.

I sat there and just loved how well he had put that together. I  got lost in the stories and laughter of it and completely forgot that hey … he probably struggled while writing, working, and reworking on this. It didn’t occur to me that he had ever struggled at all because it felt like such a natural conversation with an amazingly funny storyteller.

And I was like … man … he’s such a good writer.

Louis CK.

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I saw his show last night and the writer in me was inspired to get my act together and handle my business. It was stand-up comedy and I’m aware that it’s a different genre but it was still pretty cool to watch something like that play out. I know he writes a script but sometimes he goes off script as he feeds off the crowd’s energy and adjusts and moves things around. He finds the funny in life’s sucky moments

Finding the funny. I love that. I’m still studying it and trying to apply it daily.  I mean there are so many out there that do that successfully … Kevin Hart, Jerry Seinfeld, Will Ferrell, Jon Stewart, Chris Tucker, Mike Birbiglia, Chris Rock,  George Lopez, Cedric The Entertainer, and so many others. They craft their message in such a way that it keeps you engaged.

I saw that last night on stage and was like man! I want my stories to feel that way. So inspiration struck and it hung around long enough to get me unstuck. Sometimes the best way to clear your crazy, stubborn, writer’s block, procrastinating mind is by watching someone else do it so well.

 

 

I Thought Of A Couple Someones

8 Jul

 

It made me smile.

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When I saw this mural at the book fair I had to stop and smile.

You know, there are those days that catch you on the blind side even when you’re looking over your shoulder, they still flatten you right out. So when I saw this it made me smile.

Sometimes the universe sends you little signs here and there, just to let you know that even if you’re missing something there are other things that you have in abundance. Even when you can’t see it, there are little things like this that give you a moment.

And sometimes all you need is a moment during a really crappy day to help you turn the corner, a moment of breath to realize … yeah I got that.

So I stood in front of it, took a deep breath, and thought of someone I loved … a couple someones.

And then my kids ran out of Goldfish Crackers and were like … let’s go already mom.

The Sandlot Moment, Fireworks, and Gas In The Tank

5 Jul

Sometimes it’s about the fireworks, about checking them out, about being able to see great ones, about being wowed, about barbecues and pie.

Most of the time it’s about getting together.

We forget about George Washington and those other cats and all the drama they went through, unless we’ve been watching TURN on AMC. Then you think about the significance of the 4th weekly. But for the most part you catch glimpses of it in between the hot dogs, carne asada, and the Yankee Doodle Dandy song while the fireworks explode into the night.

That’s what I caught — a couple of good Sandlot moments throughout the day. Sandlot. I love that movie.

We caught a baseball game last night and managed to eat overpriced hot dogs and popcorn with our lemonades and enjoy our home team beat The Orioles 7-5.  And we’d been to baseball games before but it was the first night both kids had seen fireworks on the baseball field. We’d seen fireworks before but nothing with Ray Charles singing O’ Beautiful in the background.

And while I was sitting there next to my kids I felt grateful. A sense of gratitude just covered me up like a blanket, being there at peace. Even with all the everyday drama and weekly failures that life brings me, breaking me down at times, wallowing in pints of Ben & Jerry’s or raging in frustration at my punching bag, right there and then, I was grateful for that moment. Grateful that I was able to have the freedom to hang out with my kids, at a ballpark, watch a baseball game, and enjoy fireworks. Simple stuff, I guess. I felt like I was having a small-town moment.  It was a Sandlot moment, actually.

And I tried to breathe it in. If I had a mason jar I would have tried to capture it and hold onto to it for a while, you know for the days where you can’t find anything to be grateful for. I would have held onto that one for sure.

 

 

And I was sitting there in parking lot traffic after the game, just trying to get out onto the freeway, the craziness of the scene didn’t bother me. Most drivers were honking, frustrated, and angry – building up road rage. 38 minutes will do that to you.  I was just sitting there listening to John Cougar Mellencamp, The Go-Go’s and the rest of the 80s lineup, thinking about my Sandlot moment. I had no worries … the kids were asleep, no one had to go to the bathroom, and I had gas in the tank.

Awkward and Messy Isn’t For Everybody

2 Jul

I was in the middle of a conversation with someone I considered to be my friend when it occurred to me … well … maybe they’re not that close of a friend.

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Maybe they’re not worthy of the awkward and messy parts of me, because when I gave it to them they judged me … and it was a turn off. I think I’m a pretty open person, private about some things, but pretty open about failures, obstacles, and successes. The longer I know somebody, the more I let them in. I think some of my writing buddies here got to know different parts of me if they’ve stuck around for a while, conversations and comments being exchanged and all builds a camaraderie. You get to find out what we have in common and we make a connection.

And we build from there. I build trust. I thought I had.

It’s good to have a friend that tells you the truth, you need a friend like that during hard times and good times. But you also need a friend you can trust, someone that sees the awkward and messy and broken down parts of you and doesn’t judge you.

It’s the tone in their voice and the words that they use, it’s when they place you in a category that’s not you, and you think to yourself … how weird that after all this time they don’t know you … they’ve been around you and you hung out for the last decade, you’ve shown them all of you, and when you needed an ear, it turned out they weren’t listening but projecting their own issues on you and judging you at the same time.

It was weird … in the middle of the conversation I found out that we weren’t that close to begin with, and I guess that’s all right. I finished my salad and sandwich and didn’t speak much about my concerns or current issues. I just listened to hers and then ended the lunch with a good-bye wave.

Sometimes people are on the acquaintance level and never move up, even when you’re brave enough to show your imperfect parts and are in need of a friend to lean on … sometimes they’re not the right listener and you find out the hard way.

And that’s all right, that just means you narrowed down your circle of trust and they’re not in it. But the people that are … they get you. And most of all you get you.

 

 

 

Weekly Photo Challenge: Partners

30 Jun
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Sometimes you have to consult your partners to find the perfect Lego.

 

 

 

 

Weekly Photo Challenge courtesy of The Daily Post

 

 

I Guess This Is What It Feels Like

27 Jun

I’m always grateful when this day comes.

It’s a reminder.

Let your Freak Flag fly, give 100 percent, empty the tank, and wake up on Monday morning feeling blessed and ready to rock.

Even if you’re having a rough one, Shark Week sets you straight.

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I actually started my week living like it was Shark Week without even knowing it.

The events of this weekend just sent me straight to Tony-Robbins-state-of-mind. For the fifth year in row I competed in the TinMan Triathlon and despite the 71-year old IronMan chick leaving me in the dust, it was the best one yet.

I ran and swam my fastest times ever, and despite Devil’s Canyon trying to break down the cyclist in me, I kept at it and managed to get to the top of that mountain and let me tell you … my quads were feeling like Tina Turner’s.

I raised the volume up on my playlists and just kept going. Once I crossed the finish line, I heard my inner voice … you did it. And I smiled. After battling the dry heat, the agony and pain of my butt during that long bike ride, and the near drowning incident in the water because some chick kept hitting me mid-stroke and some dude almost kicked me in the face, after all that I had made it.  It felt good, like Rocky-at-the-top-of-those-steps-good.

And I enjoyed it. I enjoyed it while I was running, while I was biking uphill, and when I was on my last lap. Every part of it felt good, because I was trying. Then my kids did their mini-triathlon and their efforts made me so proud, I was having a parent moment right there at the finish line. While I was high-fiving them, I realized I had come in second place for my division and I couldn’t believe it.

I was so busy celebrating my kids’ finish, especially since it was my daughter’s first time, that I didn’t hear them call my name. I had done something I never thought would happen. I wasn’t aiming for that, I was just trying to do better than last year. I was just trying, giving it all I had. Emptying the tank. That’s all. I didn’t think there be an extra reward. But there was …

For the first time in five years I placed second.

I smiled again.

I realized … I guess this is what it feels like … this is what it feels like to live every week like it’s Shark Week, with or without the medal.

I was glad for the reminder.

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