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Not Everyone is Worthy of a Purple Velvet Couch …

6 Jul

I stopped to appreciate the coolness of it all. I’d never seen someone so out of their element look like they were in charge. Confident. They had that Fonzie swagger.

At first I thought they were plastic, decorative statues to bring more funk to this older gentleman’s car, but no … there they were hanging out on the back of a classic Dodge during an American Graffiti Friday Night vibe at the local burger joint. All the classic cars were on full display, but these iguanas were cooler than any 67 ride parked out front.

And the thing is I think they knew they were the new kids on this block, but they were being themselves … relaxing and observing every passerby. These iguanas didn’t need anyone’s approval or love, but they got it. They sat there checking out the seen and keeping their fixed stare on anybody who chose to stare at them back.

I don’t know if their home houses those sweet purple velvet couches or logs with leaves, but I’m sure they lounge on those chairs on a daily basis, chit-chatting about when the Geico lizard will come over go a visit.

The awesomeness these iguanas exuded in an environment that wasn’t their own made me think about my son. You see, he was having a hard time with a friend that wasn’t being very friendly, but my son continued to try to include himself in this boy’s life, assuring me that there was no reason why this kid wouldn’t like him. Maybe I was mistaken, he suggested.

But as group hangouts and play dates increased I felt my son was off the mark. So I had a little chat with him … I explained to him that not everyone was going to be smart enough to know what an amazing, and cool friend he was, but that didn’t mean he had to let himself believe what they believed about him.

“You be yourself,” I said. “People will like you for you, I know you want to hang out with certain kids but sometimes it’s best to take your friendship and walk away. The fact that they don’t want to get hang out with you is their loss. You know you’re an awesome dude. You’re like an iguana.”

That seemed to confuse him. He didn’t know what I was talking about. So I showed him the picture. I explained that they might not have been in their own environment, and were surrounded by people they didn’t know, but they didn’t care. They were themselves, hanging out with their real buddies, they didn’t care that people were watching, to which he answered if they were themselves they’d be in the rainforest. And I don’t think these are iguanas, they’re lizards.

And I laughed.

Maybe they were hanging out this way in the rainforest or desert or wherever. Nobody can make them stay posed that way this long. Maybe they were purple velvet couch lizards and didn’t know it yet.  Maybe this is more comfortable than the branch or cactus that sticks in them in the back. Maybe purple velvet is their jam. They sit there and they don’t care, they know they’re awesome in every way and if you want to hang out with them, take pictures with them, find out more about them then cool, if not then it’s your loss. The lizards don’t care. They hang out regardless.

“Not everyone is worthy of a purple velvet couch. But I think you can definitely own one.”

“I like green.”

“I know. You would rock any color.”

 

Buen Camino, my friends …

 

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Nature Was My Co-Pilot

29 Jun

I’m glad I finally mastered tuning into my crappiness-mood meter and became aware of when everyday madness escalates to the point where I need to extract myself from the universe in an epic-booster-ejector-seat fashion.

When that bad mood strikes, I usually need to act fast otherwise it can just suck up my entire day and snowball into a disaster. It ends up just ugly and feeling like a Gremlin who got fed after midnight. Then I’m just upset that I’m upset, and that it sucked up my time. The cycle sucks. So when it happened this week … I was on a mission to stop it.

Nature was my co-pilot.

I usually turn to the beach as it is my staycation destination every weekend during the summer. However, with the gloominess that’s taken over I made other plans and the sun managed to join me. I hadn’t been to this place before, so I was pleasantly surprised by the huge expanse. I love it when you can find a mini forest in the middle of a big city. And I loved it even more that this trip to the gardens was free.

You see the fact that I found my escape for free was bonus! There are not a lot of freebies that are really “free”. There’s this thing called restrictions apply, limited access, between the hours of 1-2 only, buy one to get one free, or free to enter but pay for parking.

This was absolutely free … free and beautiful.

Even though every house plant given to me dies, and I can’t keep basil alive, I truly appreciate the beauty of the gardens and flowers that others grow. This garden in particular provided a multitude quiet-thinking spots in kaleidoscope surroundings that plenty of people enjoyed. It provided me with a sense of mindfulness and time slowing down. As I sat on the beach chairs overlooking the pond, I enjoyed checking out the scene, overhearing conversations, and listening to the birds.

I usually take to the water, the track, or the punching bag, and that helps release the frustration that comes with bad mood syndrome. The garden was a less-active and slower approach, but it still managed to help turn things around. By the time I got home there were no traces of foul moods and the peacefulness of the garden came home with me.

Buen Camino, my friends.

 

Bob Ross Would Have Been Proud

21 Jun

Sometimes it’s a sigh of … am I ever gonna get there? Other times it’s a smile that creeps up because the feel-goods take over and I see the possibilities.

I keep looking at my vision board on a daily basis and see the pictures and hope I had for myself at the beginning of this 2019 journey. I’m reminded, another day, another set of possibilities. And sometimes when the day ends I’m not always a step closer to the goal, and sometimes that’s a real bummer.

But when I get a chance to keep the promises I made to myself, the frustration of not reaching certain goals fizzles out. Knowing that I’m keeping my word and committing to new experiences adds substance to my life and keeps the momentum going. Doing something different, something new once a month  provides me with comfort at the end of the day that I’m doing whatever I can to be better than I was yesterday. I’m trying to keep the Yes, Man on a roll because these are avenues I can control and it finally feels like something is going my way. 12 months. 12 new somethings. And number six was pretty cool.

It comes at a time when I desperately needed a turnaround.

As rejections kept floating in, I enjoyed this new artistic experience that put me in touch with artists and their visions. I’d never been to a chalk festival. It was one of those I’ll-get-around-to-it-one-day adventures … and the day finally came. And I was so glad.

 

I got lost in the color, skill, and imagination of all these murals. My intention was to see them create, see what they came up with, and I left feeling inspired to jolt myself passed the slump and find creative awesomeness. They start with nothing absolutely nothing and they come out with these incredible works that make you pause. The talent made you stop, just to admire the hard work. Feeling the artists’ vibe helped get rid of some of the funk that often comes with the lows of writing when the highs are not really working its magic.

It gave me something to look forward to as an independent artist. It helped to know that alternate platforms can also bring you closer to your goals. People discover your art in unexpected places, just have to keep getting the courage to put it out there. At the end of the day I was glad I kept my word, my resolution promises. This new chalk festival adventure helped align my perspective, and appreciate the mural artist even more than I already do.

I think Bob Ross would have been proud.

Buen Camino, my friends!

Wednesday Storytellers

12 Jun

It’s not only the fact that it was an incredible story to begin with, it’s the fact that they were finally able to share it, and then tell it in a way where it made people care.

Bobby, Eddie, and David.

Three Identical Strangers.

I felt like this story could have been an episode of Law & Order. But unfortunately it was real.

Now I’m not giving anything away when I say it’s about triplets, who were separated at birth and then miraculously reunited by chance. That you see in the preview. But that’s not the most incredulous part of the story.

It’s the why?

Why did this happen?

The documentary uncovers the sick motives and reveals bit by bit how this impacted their lives and changed their trajectory, for good and for bad. It’s such a powerful story about abuses of power and harm that can come from separating families.

Documentaries, like this, catapult stories onto a stage so that truths can be revealed and action becomes a possibility. Change becomes a possibility.

I wasn’t big on documentaries growing up, and it wasn’t until college, when I took history that I discovered the power of this kind of storyteller. Documentary film makers find a piece of humanity and tap into it so that others can see, feel, and hear, the story. Then questions arise.

I’m not one of those people that celebrates the thousands of channels on television, because it only creates a massive amount of bad reality TV or just bad TV in general. But the one positive of all this expansiveness is that documentaries are more readily available. Streaming stories that I might not have been able to see in the theaters, helps broaden perspective, engage in community activism and gain empathy for struggles, and happiness for triumphs.

I’d had Three Identical Strangers on my watch list for some time. I vaguely remember them in the 80s even though they were on all the news channels and talk shows. I had no idea this was their story. But the sad part was that it wasn’t just them … this happens to so many siblings that it wrecks your heart at the damage that is done when separating kids. It’s not only emotionally damaging, it’s psychological as well.

Separating kids is a huge issue now, but the fact that there was something sinister behind all this makes it even more sickening.

I’m so glad this story exists. I’m glad the producers and director fought hard against the powerful to uncover the truth. The “what if” sickens me, which is why I salute all the documentary storytellers. It’s not always glamorous and filled with Sundance Festival awards. Sometimes the recognition doesn’t exist at all. But the fact that the film was made and the story was told, that’s an achievement right there.

Documentary film makers struggle to find ways to make it happen, but some of them find a way to make it down the yellow-brick road and succeed in shedding light on the human condition. This is such a good story, so if you have streaming services like Amazon, Netflix, or Hulu and I hope you get a chance to watch it.

Buen Camino, my friends

I Was Grateful For The Whale … and For Blanche, Dorothy, Rose, and Sophia

31 May

I walked in feeling like Jim Carrey in that movie Yes, Man.

Completely out there, saying yes to new adventures that I’d normally pass on just to hang out at home, relax, and catch up on my Netflix binge-worthy shows.

I like the comfort of hanging out at home.

But in an effort to keep my word, and continue creating my own momentum, ignite opportunities, and make life more interesting, this month’s new adventure involved the artistic side. The one I don’t tap into: Drawing and coloring.

I saw the workshop posted and channeled my inner Jim Carrey Yes Man and “yessed” myself into the class.

I rolled into the creative space and there they were the Blanche, Dorothy, Rose, Sophia and the rest of their crew … The Golden Girls.

This Adult Art Workshop wasn’t at all what I expected. In truth I didn’t know what to expect as I’d never taken an art class before. But I didn’t think I’d be hanging out with AARP members for an afternoon. See, I know some of those folks from my complex and neighborhood, and some of them aren’t very friendly. They get upset over the weather or wind chimes. They get burned out when you’re cheering for your team during the playoffs. They get antsy when the postman isn’t punctual. They give you the stink eye when you tell them to pick up their dog poop. They’re living their life and they’re not about to hear any sass.

So when I walked in, I thought it was going to be a complaining session and I would regret it sitting down.

However it proved to be a pretty interesting motley crew of stories about grandkids, sons, daughters, ex-husbands, cruise ship travel and Uber rides. I knew about Barbara’s kids not calling enough, about Sarah’s kids calling too much, about ex-husband Bob liking fried liver once a week for dinner, about grandkids being jackasses, about love escapades on cruise ships that would steam up any romance novel, and of Uber rides to the cardiologist office.

I’ve never been to a beauty salon or barber shop, but I imagine these ladies would be rocking that scene, like Steel Magnolias.

I mean they did not care who heard their business. They were having their Ya-Ya Sisterhood moment regardless of who else was in the room. It was pretty freeing. I went there expecting colored pencils, art, and that’s it. But it was surprisingly relaxing and calming to be hanging with these women and hear their stories while I colored my whale.

I didn’t say much the entire session, just chose my colors, nodded, smiled and kept listening. I liked the calmness of being surrounded by women who didn’t care what people thought. They were living their life, creating art, telling stories, and having a good time doing it. They didn’t look like they needed resolutions or to be on a Yes Man quest. That was how they rolled, regardless.

And I liked that vibe.

I walked out of there grateful I had shown up and appreciative of the reminders, the lessons, their presence and way of being taught me. I was grateful for my whale.

I think that sort of strength and comfort comes with age. Maybe from saying Yes to a lot of new experiences along the way, maybe when they were younger 🙂

Buen Camino My Friends!

The Battle Between Writer vs. Fan Strikes Again

20 May

I stayed away from the internet until I had seen it all and digested it. I was at an emotional standstill. I always need more time when things end like that.

I’d been addicted to it just like I was with Breaking Bad, LOST, 24, The Wire, and Sons of Anarchy. Yeah. I’m talking about the Thrones.

Game of Thrones.

Every good show leaves a bit of longing for the characters. I’m saddened to see them go. Apparently people were pretty angry about the ending and how things unfolded. And if you didn’t see it and went online … forget it! The story was ruined.

I find that logging onto Facebook is a horrible idea. I can’t do that to myself after season finales. I can’t do that to myself in general. It’s bad for morale.

People’s opinions running rampant and how they would have named this person King or this person Queen, or how this person should or should not have died.

Someone always has to die in the end. It’s part of the story. If it makes for a heart-wrenching moment that crushes you, well then the writers did a GOOD job. That means you were invested in this character and in their life. You were drawn into the world they created and you were enjoying the ride. The writers made something from nothing and made you care so much about it that you got angry or sad (I mean, granted it was based on a book) but the writers helped create a story that mattered.

Now don’t get me wrong … I’m all for closure and not leaving things up in the air. Everybody hates that, it just cheapens the story and you feel like you were cheated out of something real.

But I’ve got to say, other than feeling a little rushed this season, I really enjoyed and sympathized with the characters. I’d always loved Jon Snow and Arya, and followed Danny’s story closely. These characters, along with Ned Stark, were my favorites. I rooted for them, and hoped for them. I’d gotten attached.

And while watching this amazingness of Game of Thrones, I was just reminded of how important the story is … story matters. Storytellers are important and being one is a good thing. I just have to keep going … and not get discouraged. Not everyone will appreciate your story or its ending, but that’s all right not everyone enjoyed the ending of GOT and it was one of the best shows ever.

The writers felt this was the best way to end it for these characters and as a fan I always struggle with those choices if I love the show and its characters. The battle between fan and writer. It strikes again. They battle between these two is fierce especially if there is a death at the end … and it’s someone I truly rooted for the entire journey. But in the end the writer in me edged out the fan because it was for the good of the story.

So? How was your season finale?

Burn Camino my friends!!

The Morning After Pill

14 May

The laundry still needed to be folded, the dishes washed, and the kids carpooled.

It was one 24-hour day to be appreciated or at least take a moment and pause to appreciate myself. Stop and think … I’m doing the best that I can at every moment, and sometimes there’s nothing left in reserve. So I fizzle out and then fill up the tank when I can.

I was grateful to have gotten a Mother’s Day photo with everyone smiling. I was thankful to have spent it my way … watching my Boys in Blue win a game and to witness a grand slam. I didn’t let the small moments pass me by, I took a minute to enjoy them. All the little ones added up to something.

It wasn’t filled with amazing jaw-dropping glitter and glam, just good-time-and-noodle-salad moments that kept my heart full until the stars came out.

And then the sun rose and Monday showed up with all its Monday Madness. The whining of kids not wanting to wake up, the failure to listen when I ask them to do things the first time, and the rush-rush-rush of being on the go and getting where we need to get to on time.

It’s parenthood chaos that sometimes leads to migraines, which is then followed my the Mother’s Day morning-after pill … Advil.

Because migraines suck any time you get them.

But … I was O.K.

I didn’t feel beaten down. The wave of my awesome moments still sat with me and I continued to remember even 24 hours later, when the Mother’s Day spell is usually broken.

But I woke up with peace in my heart and purpose for the day. Today was Monday and I was good with that … no Advil today.

Buen Camino my friends!

Motivation Monday: I Got The Compass, Now I Created The Map

6 May

Vision boards. I think Oprah started this. I have no idea. I’d heard so much about them, both positive and negative. Positive being they inspire change and dream chasing. Negative in that they remind you of what you have yet to accomplish and that you’re so far off your mark.

Glass half full, half empty.

Undecided.

You send the vibe out there in the universe in hopes that it boomerangs right back at you and gives you the courage to keep taking steps forward. Manifest your destiny … that’s why you do it. Maybe clarity.

Maybe people do it as a reminder, too.

I was one of the few on Earth that had yet to make a vision board. I had goals. I had dreams. Still have them. I know what they are, didn’t think I needed a reminder. But I spoke to a buddy of mine and she felt so much excitement and energy talking about her vision board and how the dots were connecting, that I gave it a second thought.  And then a third. And then I jumped right in and did it.

Most people take care of this business on January 1st. Ready for the year with their resolutions and their dream map. I didn’t create a map, but I had my eye on the yellow-brick road and a compass in my hand. I knew my dream and my direction. I still do. But I never thought to map it out with pictures on a board, never thought to look at it occasionally or on a daily basis. But you put your kinetic dream energy out there and it re-energizes you.  It clarifies your vision and the universe helps conspire with those who dream. I always enjoyed that bit from the Alchemist. This whole vision board seemed like an Alchemist kind of thing to do.

It was something new. And I made a pact with myself to try something new every month. That was the deal. You can’t be in the same place you were 365 days ago if you try something new every month. And not just try for the sake of trying, I mean really give it some thought and give it 100.

So I did.

Last month, I dove into my try-something-new project, and created my first vision board.  I have to admit it was a little overwhelming narrowing down this inspirational epic masterpiece. But everything is a work in progress and I imagine I’ll keep tweaking it as the year goes along. But I finally have a starting point and it felt good to visualize my dreams. I wasn’t sure it would. I guess it all depends on your head space for the day. Is it going to be a positive uplifting catapult, or a I’m-not-there-yet-look-where-everyone-else-is-feel-crappy scenario?

Now I should have researched and found examples of vision boards before creating my own, but I didn’t. However I did find information on the layout, and maybe this is just one kind of flow. I learned that there’s a Feng-Shui flow to this layout, stuff that supposed to help optimize your energy.  There might be more out there. But this one worked for me and helped me get started.

There are nine categories or fields that people essentially put out there: Career/Life/Mission; Marriage/Love/Relationships; Family/Community; Prosperity/Wealth; Well-Being/Health; Helpful People/Travel; Children/Creativity; Knowledge/Self-Cultivation; and Social life/Reputation/Fame. Now when laying out my board certain categories had more weight than others, and my definition of some of these terms may be different than someone else’s. For example my board there was no need for fame, it wasn’t something I aspire to, but I do care how my family, my kids see me, what their perspective is on me. So while these categories helped narrow down some pictures, they also helped define terms that work for me and my road. Because I’ve got to remember, everybody has got their own lane, and I’m in mine, so I can’t freak out when someone else is speeding down their road. They got a different destination, and a different motor.

See the source image

So I’m curious … does everyone have a vision board and I’m the last one to have discovered it? What other ways are there to layout your dreams? Do you use a huge bulletin board, or an 8 1/2 by 11 inch notebook, or a shoe box diorama? What other kinds of layouts do people have?

The research continues …

Buen Camino my friends!

 

 

He’s My Driving Force, Even When I Run Out of Gas

17 Apr

Every year I feel like I can’t do it, but then I remember my purpose, and it gives me strength to keep going. I find that as I get older, purpose becomes the driving force that sustains me through challenges. The stronger the purpose pulls at my heart the greater the force that drives me.

Success, wins, or goals feel empty if the purpose lacks substance.

I find that obstacle races and running breathe fresh air into my life and help return me back to center. Peace is my driving force, but this one race, every year, this one is for something bigger than myself.

The 63 stories, 1,393 steps I climbed at the American Lung Association’s Fight for Air Climb was for my Dad, for what he represents to me, to my life, and to my kids. He was my purpose.

The thoughts of him holding my hand and walking with me out in the patio in our bell-bottoms when I was little, gave me strength to keep taking those steps. The thought of him giving me rides to school at 7 a.m. after he had finished his night shift, kept me going. The thought of seeing him clap for me as the basketball swooshed through the net at one of my games pushed me further. The thought of him being there for me even though he had his own dreams, and troubles, gave me strength to move forward when my body felt like breaking down. The thought of us being friends when I was older helped me reach the top when all my muscles just wanted me to stop. The thought of holding his hand in the hospital room and being the last one to talk to him, to see him alive, that made me teary-eyed as I caught my breath, kissed my fingertips and pointed to the sky. He was there when I reached the finish line.

He’s my driving force, even when I run out of gas.

It was tough this year. I say that a lot, but my aching knees definitely think that this year, the seventh year, was testing the limits. I mean before I even start, I always imagine the previous year and how difficult it was for me to reach the top, and I think it can’t be more difficult than that, but then I start the race and it is … it is more difficult, because I feeeeeeeeeeeeeeeel every single year of my life in those bones and muscles of mine when I climb. It hit me when I saw the 20th floor sign, and I tried my best not to look at the signs as I ran up the claustrophobic stairwells, but sometimes there was no where else to look, but up.

My calves were burning, my legs felt weak and my chest heavy as I tried to breathe.

And then I grew even more exhausted because it was only 20. I had 43 more floors to go. And so I went, passing people sitting on steps, clinging onto the walls, and holding onto to handrails just trying to regulate their breath, trying just to make it. Getting to the halfway mark made me feel better I thought I was almost there, but my legs disagreed with me in the most volatile voice.

But I dug deep because it was for the one man that’d seen all my flaws and shine and loved me through it all the best way he could. I dug deep because so many friends, old and new, read his story and donated to the cause to help someone else’s Dad, someone else’s mom, brother, sister, son, or daughter. They made a difference in the lives of someone searching for a cure, someone trying to raise awareness, someone trying to breathe a better breath.

I made it to the stop and took a moment to hold onto that feeling, a moment to remember my purpose as I looked out at the city.

He was worth it. Every step. Every ice pack. Every rock of lavender Epsom salt that my muscles needed. Every bit of that Ben-Gay. It was Gatorade-Worthy.

Buen Camino my friends!

 

I Don’t Have a Red Leather Jumpsuit …

30 Mar

I know what kind of storyteller I am, the behind-the-scenes kind. I like watching the reactions of people as they hear my words on stage, or as their eyes scan the page. I like the undercover nature of being a writer. No one sees you, but they hear your voice, and feel emotion.

But in this quest for keeping up with resolutions and being the better-best me that I can possibly be that Oprah continually encourages me to be, I’ve once again tried something new this year. For the month of March I’ve gone and done it. Something that would require me to take a deep breath.

Most of the pieces I submit are for magazines, online publications, or collection of short stories. I get rejected from all kinds of people. But I’ve never gotten rejected for the stage. It’s something I always thought about doing ever since I saw a buddy of mine perform on stage and totally kill it. She just owned that staged and rocked the house in that red leather jumpsuit with black trim and rhinestones. Red leather, it’s pretty powerful. People change their names when they wear stuff like that.

I don’t own a red leather jumpsuit, though. But that didn’t stop me. I saw the open call for stories and wondered about it for a couple of weeks. I wasn’t sure. I’m not dynamic on stage, although I can’t say for sure because I’ve never been on stage. But I thought … it might make me a better storyteller. It may bring out something new. So I went outside my comfort zone and put my name inside that big giant hat so the The Universe could pick me at random.

Microphone-Whealans1

🙂

I’m not sure if I’ll get chosen or not, but I put myself out there. I recorded a demo and hit send. They heard my storytelling ways and inflections. That makes me nervous. My voice sounds odd. I don’t think I can do the Top 40 Countdown, but I’d be fine doing a local podcast. I don’t have that cool-pleasant-sounding-DJ-sweet-Barry-White tone that makes the listener just melt. I have that Downtown, East Side sound. But it’s got personality and maybe that’s all right for storytelling. Maybe I’m better at print.

I like how my stories unfold and how people hear their own voice with my words and they turn the pages. However, there’s something about telling your own story and people hearing your voice and emphasis. I wasn’t sure. But I still took a chance on me, on being a stage storyteller for once, and right now my voice is being listened to by Big Cheeses and they’re thinking about it.

Either way my story will be heard. And it’s the kind of story that deserves a red leather jumpsuit, but I still don’t own one. I’ll wear my outfit, the one that may make me look like a college basketball coach. I’m comfortable in cotton blends, and black-and-white converse. But if I don’t get selected my story will still be out there. If not on stage, then in print, right here at The Wish Factor. Stay tuned …

 

Buen Camino my friends!