Archive | May, 2015

40 Accidentally On Purpose Random Acts of Kindness Before 40 … No. 10 and No. 11 Doing What I Do Best Overseas

27 May

I was on a kindness drought.

I wasn’t being a jackass or anything, but I was actually being nice to the people closest to me. I realized with all the random acts of kindness that I was spreading to complete strangers I thought I could spread some of that at home to family, friends and acquaintances. I began doing little niceties for some of my peeps. But I guess you wouldn’t necessarily count them on the 40 Before 40 List, as the point of the list is to spread a little kindness to people you don’t know.

So I got back on the saddle and decided it was time to continue to the countdown to the Big 4-0. I realized as Memorial Day Weekend was coming up it would be nice to do what I do best for some of our troops overseas. I took out my Mead Notebook and Bic Pen and began writing a letter of gratitude for one of the troops overseas.

I remember writing letters to my friends when they graduated high school. One decided to join the Navy, the other the Army. They mentioned how great it was to get one of my letters when the mail would arrive. It was exciting to be able to hear from someone. Back then there was no email or Internet, or Facetime. It was phone calls and letters. They seemed to enjoy my take on life and the description of how I was surviving college life and my dysfunctional family.

Years later when I ran into them, once they’d finished their tours they told me that they still had my letters in a shoebox some where. Both of them. They mentioned how much it meant to hear my voice, because apparently they could hear it through my written words. I have that gift, I guess.

So I thought I would spread my kindness overseas and see if I could make someone laugh, and give someone a little peace.

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:)

🙂

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I wrote about what I was doing that morning and what I was looking forward to that afternoon. I talked about being a parent and realizing that as my kids grow up, I’ve learned to practice more gratitude. I told a brief story of my little family and how we love to watch underdog movies, and I thanked them for their service.

I had sent the letter and felt really good about what I had done. I smiled at my anecdotes and at my son’s drawing, which he insisted accompany the letter. That in itself is an awesome prize. And then I thought I was finished.

I thought.

Until I went out for my morning run the next day, you know trying to start my Hour of Power and pump myself up for the day. I was running down the street and then there it was … stomped and missed by the street cleaning machine. I found some money laying on the street. I looked around, but apparently no one was there. Cars were on the other side and the money was just hanging out destined to be found by The Guat that morning.

Finding money is always awesome, especially when it’s not even the money that you’ve misplaced in a jacket or pair of pants that got washed. It was just money that fell out from some galaxy far, far away.

But instead of buying myself some amazing dinner, or lunch, or boxes and boxes of Hawaiian chocolate, I decided to continue my 40 before 40 quest. I decided to keep spreading some kindness.

I bought a care package for some troops.

Hoping that the treats, goodies, and books brings some smiles to a well-deserved man or woman overseas.

Hoping they feel the appreciation of The Guat, because everybody needs to feel appreciated at least once in their life. And I felt pretty good knowing that I’d be giving that to somebody, even if they didn’t know who I was, it felt good.

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Broken

25 May
Berlin Wall

Berlin Wall Display

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Visiting the Ronald Regan Presidential Library, we took a moment to appreciate the significance of this display. They had the real one behind contaminant-proof glass, but either way The Wall was something that definitely needed to be broken down.

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Weekly Photo Challenge courtesy of The Daily Post

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Waiting For The Lightness of Being

23 May

It happens. 

You try your best to stay on the positive tip, but sometimes you have no control over the way people are going to behave. People say things that cut through you even though you do your best to put up your defenses. People do  harmful things even if you’ve done your best to protect yourself.

It happens. 

And then you’re both angry and sad at the same time. 

It’s a weird vibe, but you have every right to feel the way you do, you’re entitled to feel that way, it’s your right.  You’re not clinging to it and you don’t enjoy it, you just feel that way, and it slowly begins to resolve itself after the apology … That’s  if one ever comes. 

If it doesn’t, the feeling festers and the recovery process takes longer, because it makes you believe the other people are not even sorry for what they’ve put you through.

It happens.

But spilling thousands of gallons of oil off the California coast, covering about 9 miles, not to mention the disasterous slick spreading to the ocean …. Dude that doesn’t just happen. That kind of stuff could be avoided.

This week there was a pipe rupture that was responsible for damaging miles of Santa Barbara’s most amazing and peaceful coast. Over 700 workers were doing their best to clean up the aftermath of this environmental mess. The fact that our Memorial Day Weekend plans were cancelled because of that didn’t upset me, it was the fact that the spill happened at all that sent me over the edge. Seeing the pictures of wildlife and the coast covered in gooey black oil really burned me out.

That’s where the anger and sadness cohabitate. I understand that the clean up efforts are working hard and I’m commending those marine biologists, workers, and other volunteers for their efforts, it’s just the fact that something like this happened (or happened again) that frustrates me the most.

The feeling won’t help the situation. It won’t. But I have it. 

Like in a relationship when your dude or lady does something and it angers or saddens you.  It hurts you, and you carry that feeling, that sense that you were wronged, until there’s  closure. Until things are resolved. Until your light again.

So that’s where I am … waiting for the lightness of being.

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I’m All About Closure

20 May

I guess I was in a state of … this is it? And it took me about 48 hours to adjust to that reality with plenty of chocolate to assist in the matter.

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Image via AMC.com

Image via AMC.com

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And it wasn’t a bad kind of reality, but a dude-it’s-over-kind-of-a-way reality. You’ve invested eight years in this dude and you want to be able to see him through this, to be able to part ways and feel like everything will be all right.

I couldn’t believe it had finished because it was such a big part of my Sunday evenings, and I was hoping for an amazing ending, for closure, for an awesome Breaking-Bad-Sons-of-Anarchy-The-Wire kind of ending without deaths. But things tend to be more subtle in Don Draper’s world.

The future was left in the hands of a Coke commercial with plenty of room for interpretation, Sopranos-style if you will. Although the lives of some characters were wrapped up nicely. Pete’s growth throughout the series culminates with a happily ever after, while Joan once again suffers a breakup, but it doesn’t break her. She makes it on her own by creating Holloway & Harris, the best of both her worlds.

But the ending that surprised me was Peggy’s, I didn’t think the creators would give her love. But she found both love and career, and for some reason that revelation made me giddy.

All these character endings made me think of my own writing, and the type of endings I write for my stories and for the characters that live there. I realized, I’m not big on leaving things up for interpretation. I like to leave lives wrapped up with a strong indication of what the future holds. Uncertainty doesn’t sit well with me in series finales, movies, or books. I want to feel like I know, or even have an inkling, as to how things are going to go for my character. I don’t like leaving things up in the air.

Life is up in the air.

I’d like my stories to be better than that.

I’m all about closure. It helps me sleep better, especially when I’ve connected to the character and feel like a part of me, is like a part of him or her. The connection is what drives me as a fan, and a writer. So if I had to pick sides I guess I’d be all about closure. It sits well with me, feels right to know.

What about you? What’s your side?

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I Blame This On You … AYSO … You Suck

16 May

Dear AYSO,

I normally don’t talk about my parent failures, unless they are of epic proportions.Most of the time I have my mini break-downs and hope that two Advil will help cure the ginormous headache that accompanies every parental disaster in The Guat household.

I took the Advil, but the two-mile run and the punching bag worked better. I think this disaster got to the punching-bag level because it involved sports.

For the second year in a row, I failed to sign-up my son for AYSO soccer season. Now normally something like this wouldn’t bother me, it’s not like we live and breathe soccer over here. But I did want to expose my son to the world of soccer and feel the World Cup hype the rest of the universe experiences.

But for some reason, everything on the road to AYSO registration went wrong, and thus parental failure was born.

I know AYSO is supposed to be a great organization and has this whole everybody plays, everybody is equal, open registration, let’s-have-fun mentality, but dude … I can’t even get on the team.

I can’t …

You lie AYSO!

For two years in a row the system has failed me. The first year I pleaded ignorance, I decided to sign up for a fall sport in the early summer. Apparently the end of June was not the time to sign up for a sport that happens in The Fall. Apparently this happens in Winter … Winter/Early Spring. Are you kidding me?

So because of this failure the only solution was The Wait List.

Let me fill you in on something called The Wait List … it’s a bunch of lies. It was fake hope they instilled in me along with generic emails that wished me luck next year. The Wait List is crap.

This year I decided I wouldn’t let them bamboozle me with this Wait List and sideline my kid. So Spring was here. I thought I got this … I got this! But no I didn’t.

I searched The Internet and went to their main page. I looked for login information and they had nothing but a smiling orange.

Lies ... All Lies

Lies … All Lies

Nothing about registration on the main page. No promotion. No advertising. No “Hey Click Here For Soccer Registration” Button. Nothing.

So I came back this month. May. We’re still in Spring, flowers blooming, right?

And again … I got nothing but …

The Orange

The Orange

I thought this was cutting it close, summer is next month. I don’t see any registration information. I better click a few links and dig deeper. So I did. Families tab. Kids tab. Training tab. Volunteer tab. I felt like Columbo searching for clues. Then when I found a link with the “Find a Team Near You” tab I thought I got lucky.

Nope

Page Not Found.

I clicked on the Resources and Registration tab and ended up on the Page Not Found Page.

I kept clicking on link, after link, clicking and clicking and then thinking No Whammies, No Whammies, No Whammies.

Burn.

I don’t know if it’s a secret society where you just guess when registration is supposed to be, you have secret communications, or you have a secret handshake but after 33 minutes I finally breached the soccer Illuminati code. I was in! I found a separate link, that took me to another page, where I could fill out a form. I had a form! But apparently after I filled it out I was not done.

There was a Step 2.

Bring two printed copies to a designated park registration site. AYSO had one after Groundhog Day, and then the second one today. It was from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. I looked at my clock. It was 2:07 p.m.

Bastards.

I thought maybe if I print this out and rush to the park that’s twenty minutes away I can still catch them packing up. However the HP57 PhotoSmart Scanner and Printer In One was in on the conspiracy. Cartridge jam. Paper jam. Load Paper Alert! Even though there was a ream of Staples best 8 1/2 X 11 white sheets in the tray. After 23 minutes of trying to print two copies, I grabbed the one copy I miraculously printed and took off.

You lie AYSO, not everybody gets to play. Not. Open registration didn’t happen for me. We’re still on the waiting list, but I know that’s a whole He’s-Not-That-Into-You kind of situation where I’ll never get a call. I blame this on you AYSO, you suck.

But when I told my son the story he said … “well when’s hockey season?”

You lost a good one AYSO.

Sincerely,

The Guat

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Post-It Note Worthy Kind of Moment

13 May

You know how you’re watching a T.V. show, movie, or an interview, maybe even reading a book, and someone says something or writes something that you instinctively know, but the fact that it’s voiced aloud makes an impact … it seems to turn up the volume to your consciousness.

You put down the chocolate and pay attention.

You think wait-a-minute-one-second … I know that. I know that!

And you have a this-is-a-life-post-it-kind-of-moment. This is the kind of advice that’s worthy of note-taking, the kind where you take out a BIC pen, write it down on that yellow note, and stick it on the fridge, or on your notebook. Could be advice on life, parenting, womanhood, or writing. All of these bare Post-It worthy kind of moments.

Today’s moment happened to be on writing.

I learned to accentuate my flaws … you have to be really okay with essentially just showing the worst parts of yourself to everybody because that’s what makes characters interesting  … and I think that’s what people respond to honesty … and I think the easiest way to connect with honesty is to have it be a part of who you are — Rashida Jones

Dude I was like who are you Rashida Jones … right on … I got this. I know this!

The quote hit me like a GPS, navigating me back on track. It was so simple, and something that I’ve always known, something that most writers know, but it was put right in front of me for a reason. And I was grateful for the sneaky ways of the universe conspiring to help me succeed in the writers’ realm, because you can get a little lost when you’re editing your book for the third time.

So I was thankful for the post-it note-worthy-kind-of-moment that gave me pause. So I thought I’d pass it along, just in case you needed a sneaky reminder to keep you on track … just in case you needed a push, thought I’d share.

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Remembering Is Important

11 May
:)

🙂

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A-HA! … The Stumbler Blew Me Away

8 May

They sneak up on you when you’re not looking. They blow your mind. And I love that!

They’re like power surges that give you the extra boost to make that cosmic shift or they realign your perspective. And the moment stops you and you zone out the chaos of the Nickelodeon population you are in charge of and you sit there and go … A-ha!

Yup.

I had me one of those today.

I had an A-ha moment.

Sometimes I find them in movies, television, books, Super Soul Sunday Moments with my girls or hanging with my kids. They’re random and never planned, but they hit me when I need it. And I share an unlimited amount of gratitude with the universe for placing it in my path.

Today’s mind-blowing thought came from my blogging buddy Jackie Cangro who posted one her awesome Friday Fives posts. Jackie does this from time to time … she puts something up there that’s of particular interest to her and just like that! There’s a power shift and I get all Zen.

Today Jackie introduced me to The Moral Bucket List by David Brooks and I rediscovered the concept of Eulogy Virtues and Resume Virtues. As Brooks explains, eulogy virtues are the qualities people talk about at your funeral, the resume ones are the skills you bring to the work force.

I’d been introduced to them before, but like everyone else things get put on hold while you’re trying to catch up with life. But I was reminded that while I’m chasing my dreams and “external achievements” I’ve got to remember to keep my sense of “unfakeable inner virtue” in this career-driven bubble. I may not be there yet in terms of achievement, but I’ve got “unfakeable inner virute” and that’s a big part of my character and a promising quality to keep cultivating with what Brooks calls moral and spiritual accomplishments … A.K.A. The Moral Bucket List, which he fully described and proceeded to wow me. It was a whole another level. My favorite point, the one that hit home the most, was the stumbler philosophy …

The stumbler doesn’t build her life by being better than others, but by being better than she used to be …

Duuuuuuuuuude that’s when my mind was blown. The Stumbler.

Jackie you rock.

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Bring Some Zest To Your Mondays…Or Anyday

4 May
;)

😉

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The Killing Spree Comes To An End … I Hope

1 May

I had no idea that I’d grow up to be a killer. I’m a pacifist … sort of.

I do my very best every time to keep the peace, but things don’t turn out the way I planned and I end up feeling bad about the whole situation. I mean I’m a parent, dude. I should know about surviving, and thriving. I can’t be on the most-wanted serial killer list.

But with my track record, I think I am.

Every year around spring time, I see them, young and high-energy, ready to rock the world until they cross paths with me. And then it’s over and I transform from The Guat, mom extraordinaire to … The Guat Goldfish Killer.

It’s been three years in a row that I had to explain to my kids why their goldfish had to be rushed to the fish emergency room at Petco and stay for at least 24 hours before returning home, looking a little bit different. More orange. Longer or shorter tails. Only then to be sent back to the ocean to be reunited with their family a week later.

I think I need an EKG machine. I never knew you could give fish heart attacks, but I’ve become an expert at that, no matter how long I leave the water out when cleaning the tank they always suffer the same fate.

But I thought this time would be different.

Our first fish this year.

Our first fish this year.

I was wrong.

This year when we brought our goldfish home from the church fair, my kids’ fish died on the third day, when we cleaned his tank. I hid the evidence, took my kids to school, and then replaced it with a similar looking one right before I picked them up. Not only was I killer, but a liar now.

But in hopes of ending the lies and deceit, I thought I’d take a different approach.

We got a 10-gallon tank, with pebbles, plastic green plants, and a SpongeBob Squarepants Bikini Bottom Pineapple House. With a turbo filter. But I almost killed it … again.

I thought it might have been lonely, maybe it was death by broken heart or loneliness syndrome. He might want a friend, it’s lonely out there in this world. And both my daughter and son agreed. So I asked the fish guy at the pet store if the small goldfish that my son liked, the one in the tank with plastic ferns, got along with the tiny goldfish in the tank next to him, the one that looked like the one we had.

And he said yeah … sure … of course. They’re both goldfish.

Parent failure.

Never trust the fish guy at the Petco. He knows nothing of the delicate relationships and aquatic balance needed for two goldfish to survive. He’s no Aquaman. The tiny fish stayed in the top-right hand corner of the tank for nearly four hours, while the bigger fish roamed the tank and feasted of flakes.

Apparently there are all kinds of goldfish and it’s probably not a good idea to mix and match the varieties as they get stressed out, which can eventually lead to death.

In order to end my goldfish killing spree, I separated them, and the tiny guppy seems a lot happier. He’s swimming, checking out the whole SpongeBob Squarepants Pineapple House. We’ve decided he doesn’t need friends for the time being, he can be a loner for now.

And my son and daughter are both happy that this fish didn’t have to be reunited with its family in the ocean, we’ve had enough of that here. With this new plan, I think the killing spree has come to an end … the aquatic parenthood failure ceases to exist … I hope.

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