Archive | January, 2021

Feel Sort of Good Friday … 5

29 Jan

Even though I’m baking a cake tomorrow I’m still heading to the pie place.

It’s got one of those rectangle signs that spins, looks like a vintage diner now, but would be rocking it during the bell-bottom era. A coffee place where Flo probably worked the counter.

I made a promise … but never got a chance to keep it. We’ll have a piece of pie, coffee and pie, and talk about life.

I found out they got 24 kinds of pies.

I’ll have some trouble choosing just one. I’m sure I’ll know it when I see it.

We were supposed to try some, but he never made it out of the hospital. So even though I’ll be making a special birthday cake, I’ll start with a slice of pie to celebrate what would have been his 73rd birthday, because I made a promise. And that’s the kind of stuff you remember, the little things that don’t seem so little now.

73.

That’s a pretty hefty number. The kind that comes with wisdom and life. I imagine the Big 7-0 comes with that too. You get to a point where you don’t care and you live your life with the lessons that got you there. Plus coffee. I imagine he’d be retired, or work less by now. He’d probably have more baseball caps.

73.

I get stuck between being sad and celebrating his life. I imagine it hits a lot of people like that, you miss your friend, but you’re glad he’s not in pain because of a stupid random disease. Celebrating life … I remember his aftershave, still have his last bottle. It’s small, made of glass, with white letters spread across the front. It’s got only about a quarter left. The orange liquid swirls as I pick it up and hold it to the light. The musky smell reminds me of his morning shaves with his blue Gillette razors. Don’t remember him cutting himself shaving, but I imagine he did. All guys do, at least once. But I never saw him with toilet paper on his face, trying to stop the bleeding. Come out fresh. Style his hair with mousse and a black comb, the kind you’d get a barber shop.

He’d walk down the stairs and struggle to put his shoes on, to which I’d say, c’mon ol’ man, to which now I completely understand considering my back injuries and how really difficult putting shoes on is when your body doesn’t fully cooperate. White collared shirt. White pants. Black shoes. Baseball cap. Samsonite briefcase. And two Parker Pens in his front shirt pocket. I need to get me some Parker Pens.

Breakfast?

Sometimes.

Running late. Sometimes not enough time for eggs, scrambled or sunny side up. Not enough time for black beans. For bagels and cream cheese. For oatmeal with raisins. For coffee. But never cereal.

He’d say bye and drive off in his truck. For a long time it was a gray Nissan pickup … stick-shift. Not many people know how to drive one of those now, I’m glad to say I learned, I messed up his clutch a couple of times, but eventually I got the hang of it and shifting between first and second got easier. He’d listen to jazz on the way to work and never honk his horn at the jerk that cut him off. He’d just shrug his shoulders and keep going.

Even after he left the house, the smell of his after shave filled up the space.

Daily routines of the working class man. Morning routines.

I see them at night when I’m sleeping and in the morning when I’m putting on my own shoes.

I try to fill my kids with stories about Papa and little details, like baseball hats and musk aftershave, like trouble putting on shoes because of his back, his laughter after one of my bad jokes because I didn’t want to get out of bed. These morning routine details stand out most. The details matter more, when you’re trying to remember someone. They help fill the picture with the missing pieces. So I paint the landscape of my dad’s life, with attention to the detail so they can really see him up close. They help me remember too. Celebrating his life, his moments. Got to hold on, to even the simplest of things … like a promise for pie.

So birthday cake and pie.

Buen Camino my friends …

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Miles Davis — Freddie Freeloader

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Happy Birthday Donald Duck

Juan Gabriel — Buenos Dias Senor Sol

Mavis Staples — The Weight

Vince Guaraldi Trio — Linus and Lucy

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Feel Good 5 Friday … on Saturday Night

23 Jan

I might have to change the title if this keeps happening. I really might.

But life and weariness hits us all in different ways at the end of the week. Sometimes you tell yourself I’m just gonna sit here for a minute and then the next thing you know you’re all cozied up with a comfy blanket dreaming.

But as I was looking back on the week, I remembered some of the feel-good moments that matched the vibes of my songs. There was one moment in particular that’s still with me.

One of the positives I’ve discovered during the pandemic is being able to appreciate the little wonderous moments that happen, the kind I’d pay attention to before and put them in the Jar of Awesome, but now the simple moments seem to be even more special and I take note. I appreciate the little bit of magic happening during on an uncharacteristically windy day reminiscent of those strong Chicago breezes I imagine.

Out early for what I’ve called a therapy run that helps kick off my days, no one out, not even dog walkers so I was able to wear one of the lighter running masks where I could feel the fresh air reaching my lungs. Ran passed my neighborhood and reached the fancy houses about a mile out, surrounded by large sycamore trees, palm trees, orange and lemon trees, shrubs, rose gardens, and lavender bushes. When I reached my midway point, a gust of wind rustled the huge branches and a flurry of giant crunchy leaves took off and danced in circles, and hanging out in the sky. Doing there thing. It was one of the coolest moments of the week. A little bit of nature magic, tapping me with it’s beauty. My run slowed down to a jog in that moment so I could check out the scene from my own personal highlight reel. I was glad to get caught up in the moment, feeling the feel-good vibes surrounding me.

Feeling the cold fresh air in my lungs, I closed my eyes and joined the twirling for a moment. Nature had invited me to the party and I didn’t want to say no.

Moments like this I’ve learned to appreciate even more. I was pretty good at being present and appreciated the good that came my way, especially The Great Outdoors. But this extra something is a feeling I like to hold onto. It’s simple. No flash. No fireworks, really. Just feel good vibes the sky and trees trying to send me, and I accepted the blessing and held onto it the rest of the day … and the week, really.

So in times of frustration when kids began tuning out my voice and not listening to directions or just bringing on an added volume of 10 when I needed a 5, I went back to the dancing leaves in the wind, their twists and turns, catching air pockets in different directions until the reached the ground. That moment of simplicity. That was Zen … Zen in the city.

I was grateful to be accompanied by a good playlist. But I did pause it. I paused it just to listen to the wind and leaves., to be in the moment and soak it up. After the wind settled, I raised the volume back up and continued the good vibrations, carrying them with me along with the cold crisp air, looking forward to the possibilities of my next 100 Day-Challenge.

Buen Camino my friends!

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Coldplay & The Chainsmokers — Something Just Like This

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Real McCoy — Another Night

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Charlie Zaa & La Sonora Santanera – Se Me Perdio La Cadenita

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UB40 – Red Red Wine

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Paul McCartney — Coming Up

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Words on Wednesday

20 Jan

Many of them spoken today with dignity, promise, inflection and truth.

Genuine.

Hopeful.

Heartfelt.

Some spoke of unity, others sang to melodies with them. Some sang better than others.

But nevertheless … the words mattered. They were weighted today.

Relief.

A sigh of relief for a better future and a hopeful one as we try to climb out of the pit of ugliness and lies. Many of the words today pierced through and exposed the hypocrites sitting, pretending they hadn’t supported lies just two weeks prior. Some expressions didn’t even need words. Their faces spoke, even with masks on.

Words carried weight today.

But the good kind.

I discovered a WordMaster I’d never seen or heard before and so did most of the country, if they were paying attention. Aside from the words after placing their hands on the bible, these words spoken with intention and inflection, based on heart and substance became the highlight. I tipped my hat to this young poet whose creation inspired me as she encouraged us to step up to the plate up to the hill we climbed.

Being able to make someone stop and notice. Pay attention. She could have done that even without a mic. The power in her words so strong, that the impression stays with me, in the goosebumps I felt as she slayed her words.

As a writer I was amazed. Young talent reaching such heights can only grow even more. So I got to know her name … and it was Amanda Gorman. Powerful. Strong. Captivating. Her words sit with me. Deep into my heart, they made me feel.

I watched a young wordmaster perform and she was not even at her peak, still young and living life, yet it was the best performance I’d seen all day. Her future remains unwritten, but I imagine with the way she expresses herself, that won’t be a problem. The future looks promising for her and I’m glad I witnessed this and felt the inspiration.

We’re not broken … just unfinished. We’re bruised but bold.

Yeah … she wrote words like that. And I high-five her.

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Buen Camino my friends…

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Feel Good 5 Friday … On a Saturday Night … Again

16 Jan

I’m normally on top of matters, or at least I pretend to be so I can build up enough momentum and psych myself up for the challenge.

But considering the destructive and disturbing news of a failed insurrection happening in the country I’d been sucked into the news coverage of the events waiting for justice that apparently is moving at a snail’s pace. Arrests continue, but justice has yet to make its way into the light.

I’d never lost this much time waiting and waiting on news. But considering matters are in the hands of cowards in leadership positions at the current moment, swift is a speed I doubt will be coming. So I cut myself off from awaiting justice.

I rebooted.

I tried helping in the corner of the country where a positive impact makes a difference, focusing on community improvement and trying to be better than I was the day before. A Day of Service provides an opportunity for proactive nature to help change even if it’s a little, it adds up. I like instilling this concept into the kids. Sure I volunteer at their school, and coach my kids’ sports teams in the community. But a separate day dedicated for volunteering, just a Day of Service, just committing to the community, neighborhood, or state provides you with a Mr. Rogers’s moment that’s valuable, the kind that can inspire goodness, change, and improvement — the kind that Dr. King inspired.

So I turned my focus to that.

During this reboot session to start the year anew, I mean it is still January, still the beginning of 2021 no matter how ugly it started, I can still make the changes needed to spin the boat around and guide it toward better journeys, I found a tidbit of information. This kind of advice that helps vision boards, goals, WOTY, resolutions, promises — whatever you name it. I knew this. I did. But had forgotten. Completely.

Even if you’re not a morning person, which I don’t feel I am, waking up a little earlier just to have a minute to yourself, a moment, a few of them, so that you can mentally prepare for the day ahead is an awesome decision. Wake up a little earlier, one hour earlier. Just to focus on yourself and do something for you before work, school, the kids. Drink a cup of coffee, tea. Meditate. Write your morning pages. Go bike riding, running, walking, swimming. Listen to a podcast. Read a book on the couch. Do some gardening. Any activity that makes you feel like you WANT to wake up not HAVE to wake up. That was key for me.

Waking up extremely early in the morning is not something I enjoy, so the snooze button would seem odd. When I hit the snooze button that means I keep waking up over and over again. I’m not an obsessive about it, but I have been known to use it when the covers are extra cozy or the pillow feels just right. But after I wake up and the kids are still asleep I can enjoy the quiet of the morning, which is different from the quiet of the night. A different vibe. And once I’m up and spent the time, I feel better about it. I’m glad I did it. I bet if I lived near the ocean I would never hit that snooze button. If an hour earlier is too much start with 15 minutes and then add more as your body acclimates. I mean that’s how I roll.

The one moment of inspiration that got me moving during early mornings this week, aside from a podcast, was a feel-good song. That right there makes me smile and get up. Listening to Katrina tell me that I’d be Walking On Sunshine always gets me out of bed. So I’m grateful to have picked that song for 2021, but I also listen to jams that grove and take me to moments from my adolescence that remind me of special moments, sending postcards to myself through melodies and lyrics.

Super grateful for the Feel Good Friday’s I adopted last year, they’ve made this Groundhog Day Adventure much better than Bill Murray’s, although he did have an epic adventure with Punxsutawney Phil.

Buen Camino my friends!

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The La’s — There She Goes

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George Harrison — Got My Mind Set On You

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Jarabe de Palo — Bonito

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Belinda Carlise — Heaven is a Place on Earth

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Robbie Nevil — C’est La Vie

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Feel Good 5 Friday … on a Saturday Night

9 Jan

Sometimes people and life become so ugly and the excuses so lame that you got to find your corner of the world and remember that good resides there in order to gain the strength to see the next day and do good. Do good for your yourself, do good for your family, and do good for your community.

With all the chaos of the week it was easy to get lost in the bad, but needed a moment, just like everyone else, a moment to strip the negative away. But it was difficult, we needed something good and I was able to find what I needed in the tunes from my youth. Something about the tunes helps escape, at least for a moment.

And a quick escape from ugly is what was needed, in order to recalibrate and look forward to possibilities and a better something. I looked at the two good things that happened during the week and the small victories I could take in such a hot mess. I was glad to be part of something good when all the chaos hit, I was glad to have helped impact someone’s course and that trajectory was for positive change. I was glad to have volunteered and helped, making a difference, no matter how big or small everything added up. I mean look at Georgia … I took the win, put it in my back pocket, and turned on the jams.

Music is not always a solution, I know, but it provides a space, a safe space for peace and calm in my heart, of happiness and feel good vibes when they’re missing everywhere else, for inspirations that may help find solutions, for joy when you need to feeeeeeeeel it because in the midst of ugliness two moments of good took place and at the very least I needed to recognize it.

Needing something good and I found it in my playlist.

Buen Camino, my friends …

Van McCoy — The Hustle

Tavares — Heaven Must Be Missing an Angel

Chuck Mangione — Feel So Good

Los Faulosos Cadillacs — Matador

Dee Lite — Groove is in The Heart

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Feel Good 5 Friday … Page One

1 Jan

I had my doubts, but the universe kept pushing me in that same direction and now in retrospect I guess it was a good idea.

Instead of staring at it and feeling like a failure for not getting there, not being even close to reaching it, or not meeting certain goals, it just sat there as a friendly reminder … ‘hey you memmmmmber?’

Not attacking me. Not judging me. Just a ‘hey I’m still here.’

Just a small nudge in the right direction. Something to look forward to, something that might happen someday, or something that might happen on a random Wednesday.

Vision boards, Words of the Year, Feel Good Songs of the Year. All of this helped me push through 2020.

Boost. That was my 2020 word. That’s what I relied on … Boost and Mary J. Blige.

The universe working it’s magic to help pull me closer inch by inch. Maybe it was just me. Maybe I was more conscious of it, or maybe it served its purpose. But I found these two prospects of positivity pushing me through when I was down on the ground after a rough fall looking for a band-aid in an empty box. Or they kept me going, through my creative recovery, my arms raised during the little fist bumps of celebration.

Intentions, Goals. Resolutions. Steps. Whatever you want to call them, I looked back at the last 12 months, I looked back at Page 1 to see what I had done. I realized that even through the pandemic and all the personal drama of a Telenovela existence, I ended up blessed. That little reminder that your photos app sends you as the month is coming to a close, the little photo album it puts together for you, reminding you of your highlight reel, I flipped through it already. I looked over all the photos on the phone and remembered why they were worth taking. I made picture-worthy moments, some I didn’t even catch on camera, but knew they were in the memory bank.

Vision board kept me focused and dreaming. Boost, my word, kept the drive going, that little extra umph I needed sometimes, that Jamba Juice boost they give you at the smoothie place, that Vitameatavegamin to remind you of the reserve left in the tank. And Mary J … she woke me up! She kept the vibe going through music, giving me the feels when I needed strength to keep moving, the beats to help me get my groove back, my strut! I got to where I needed to be, and I finally reached a stepping stone and that was a good thing. Anything that keeps me going forward in a year where things felt so stagnant was a bonus. I took a look back and felt grateful for the direction …

Felt grateful for the mini-vacation that came along with a hockey tournament before the pandemic, grateful for the parade float presentations with the kids, for the Outdoor Staycations, for stories on Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon, for Ben & Jerry’s and Parker Brother board games to help with the cabin fever, for the blessings of health and my noisy kids, for quiet morning runs, and epic playlists, for accomplishing creative deadlines and getting up when I got knocked down, for World Series Championships and water balloon baseball with the kids, for bike riding, baking, and badminton, for sunsets painted with Crayola crayons and palm trees, for the peace that Bob Ross spreads, for the sunshine and waves of the beach and hidden lagoons away from the city and for the Saturday Morning Cartoon feels on any day of the week. This is what Boost and Mary J helped give me.

So … I go again.

And my love for movies and great characters helped pick out this year’s word, although with the surprise pandemic that hit 2020 it could have been last year’s word, and that would have fit so well. But I felt that I would continue my forward movement and this would definitely help especially when we’re so close to turning the corner …

I know Stan Lee had a special relationship with the word and I like him, onward and upward. But I got my significance from Pat Solitano …

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“… I’m gonna take all this negativity and use it as fuel and I’m gonna find the silver lining. That’s what I’m gonna do. And that’s no bullshit. That’s no bullshit. That takes work and that’s the truth.”

I didn’t like that saying … the silver lining. Ever since college I’d exhale and roll my eyes, it would burn me out. But looking at it from a different angle, from Pat’s angle, it’s a good spin. And it’s hard work. In the end it will help find the blessings in life and realize what you’re grateful for so that you can keep moving forward. And forward I learned is a direction that’s good, even when it feels like slow motion.

Excelsior and Forward.

That’s what Page 1 of 2021 is looking like … accompanied by an awesome playlist of course — the kind that reminds you to strut your stuff because you’re walking on sunshine and deserve to be.

Buen Camino my friends …

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Katrina and The Waves — Walking on Sunshine

Sir Roosevelt — Sunday’s Finest (the original video is amazing if you can find it, but for some reason I couldn’t)

Pete Townshend — Let My Love Open The Door

The Rolling Stones — You Can’t Always Get What You Want

Los Tucanes de Tijuana — La Chona

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Buen Camino my friends!

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