I Don’t Wear A CatWoman Suit But I Was Inspired

5 Jun

When you see a friend reaching for it, you really hope they hit their mark.

You’ve seen their hard work and witnessed their dedication and you know they deserve it, so as one of their fans you’re pulling for them. You’re hoping that opportunity meets luck and the universe rewards them.

Sometimes it ends up being a learning experience, other times it’s a stepping stone closer to the bigger dream, and sometimes it’s a homerun and you leave feeling inspired. One of my friends received an award for her awesome duties as principal, another for providing medical services to young children, and another for her volunteer work with kids and bringing arts programs to school. They got their plaque and sort of reached a peak, or mini-milestone, in their career, and I was happy for them. High-five happy.

But something recently happened that not only left me high-five happy but also inspired. As a creative person I constantly root for other artists to make it out there. I love the underdog stories of how luck and hard work meet and then the universe sprinkles out an opportunity that changes lives.

I root for artists in a different way just because I know the struggle first hand, so when there was an opening on the road to success and dreams coming true, I was happy to have been in the audience witnessing it happen.

You see, I recently attended one of my friend’s debuts at a small venue, where she filled the place with her magnitude and rockstar attitude. She had a presence about her, so I knew she had it in her, but I was still wowed by her performance.

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My buddy Lo Thompson setting up for the next song

It was a well-deserved night out, but more than that, it was an opportunity to be inspired by a buddy chasing her dreams and leaving it all out on the stage. We were all consumed with her energy and left feeling … who wassssssssssss that?! We all knew her … she was one of the moms at school, picking up her kid and just running around trying to keep it together, just like the rest of us.

But she wasn’t like the rest of us … She was Lo Thompson and she was rocking the stage that night I saw her in her element and it felt good to see someone I knew get a win.

She definitely came out there and made her mark. And as I was seeing her dream unfold I wanted to bottle up that emotion of pride and happiness I felt for her. She was doing it and bringing down the house while it was happening and it felt great to share that experience with her.

While she was living her dream one night at a time, getting closer to the Bigger Picture, and enjoying the moment, I found myself inspired. Creatives inspiring other creatives, that makes me happy, feeling like it can happen. Big or small, it can happen. Now I won’t be wearing an awesome Catwoman type of suit when I hit my mark, but I was inspired and I’ll probably be feeling as badass as Catwoman.

 

Buen Camino my friends. And incidentally if you enjoy rock music you should check her out.

 

 

 

Inspiration Hiding In The Daily Mail

31 May

It was in a medium-sized manila envelope and I had no idea what it was …

Since I don’t have any magazine subscriptions walking to the mailbox isn’t really all that exciting for me. I mean I get a kick if I find a card in there for birthdays and Christmas, but other than that I hardly get anything in the mail worth celebrating.

I mean there was that time I wrote a letter to the Hawaiian Chocolate company just on a whim to talk to them about their chocolate and a few weeks later I got a sampler box in the mail.

Dude! Just like that. Customer service at its best!

But now I just get bills, rejection letters, and customer service at its worst.

You know, my most recent bill from Sprint didn’t really have all these great emotions bubbling to the surface. You see I had just gotten a bill from Sprint for $238 … a bill that was supposed to be $110. So after a livid conversation with Andrea G. over at customer service where there was nothing that could be done about the promises I received from my last interaction with a Sprint customer service representative I’d given up on the positives of mail entirely … until a couple of days ago.

I unloaded the large amounts of junk mail and bills onto the kitchen table and found that manila envelope from an unfamiliar P.O. Box. Had no idea what it was, seeing how I hadn’t recently ordered anything the contents were unknown.

So when I opened it and found the newest Zac Brown Band CD staring at me, I found a moment of gratitude right there. I had purchased tickets to their concert a while back and apparently missed the email stating that their newest CD would be mailed to me, just for buying tickets to the concert.

I remember that happening last time, but for some reason it escaped me this time around. So among the bills of adulthood I found this awesome surprise.

 

 

Inspiration in a medium-sized manila envelope. All their songs hit my heart strings and make me feel something and it was a great gift just at the at the right moment.

“Don’t give up … hold on a little longer.”

That’s my favorite line from this song … a dreamer’s song. It’s really one of my mottos. So if you’re having a rough week, trying to bounce back, catching the wave after you’ve wiped out, take a listen to Roots by Zac Brown. It’s a dreamer’s song that keeps you chasing what you wake up every morning hoping for …

The purpose continues.

Buen Camino my friends.

The Process And The Hanna Barbera Journey

24 May

It took me back to Saturday morning cartoons. Just like our annual cardboard boat race, this little adventure took me back to the 80s where I dreamed of being one of the Hanna Barbera cartoons and building my own hot rod to race to the finish line.

We were pretty jazzed up to learn that my son’s Boy Scout pack would be hosting the annual Pinewood Derby. We marked the calendar, bought our kit and the kids laid out their Crayola Crayons Blueprint, LEGO drivers included of course.

We made visits to the Do-It-Yourself Center and Michael’s Craft Store to buy all the goods for this epic project. Every day leading up to the big race we worked on the cars … sanding them, cleaning them, painting them multiple times, adding decals and then our final touches. I made sure not to get too crazy though, I didn’t want to turn into Momzilla and take over the project. I wanted to make sure my kids did most of the work.

But you know, the day of the actual race itself didn’t live up to the hype I imagined in my Hanna Barbara mind. After waiting for all the heats and divisions to run through their rounds the enthusiasm dwindled off.

Perhaps because it was a three-lane course instead of five-lanes, maybe there were so many divisions that it became just a repetitive exercise and not a Pinewood Derby Showdown, or maybe it was the return of the stink-eye uptight assistant den leader from region pack meetings, his presence fuels voluntary and involuntary eye-rolls from the masses.

Whatever that wonky feeling was it lingered for a bit. I mean when it was my kids’ turn I was super excited and happy and enjoyed their rounds leading up the final division race. I was happy that my son had tied for fifth place in our rookie year of this event.

But I wasn’t really jazzed up about the other participants. I didn’t really have a vested interest. There seemed to be a pattern evolving, in regards to the type of designs winning each race. I mean once I saw a couple of their races the magic was lost  … until the Outlaw Division started.

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There it was … a rules-out-the-window race, where creativity, imagination, and design were combined. It was about the fastest car but also about inventiveness, the personality of each car and then how it would perform. Those races seemed to be a little more exciting. I enjoyed my daughter coming in first place in the outlaw class and seeing her smile as her car crossed the finish line first. But through this entire experience, from blueprints to paint jobs, I was reminded of a great lesson.

It’s all about the process.

Enjoying the anticipation of it all, sharing our excitement of what was to come, talking, hanging out while we sanded and painted, and most of importantly remembering not to freak out if the paint job wasn’t spot on. They might not remember what place they finished that day, but they will remember that we built it as a family. They’ll remember how that felt. So, for future projects, I’ve got to remember that.

Process … It’s all about the process in the Hannah Barbara journey, or with anything really.

Mother’s Day Still Around With Purple Crayons and Yoda Kites

19 May

It wasn’t a day off, but it was a day of appreciation.

I know Mother’s Day has come and gone and many are now forgetting that it had just taken place. The one day a year you’re supposed to wine and dine and show your mom all the love you got … and then the next day she’s off to wash the dishes again.

But during that quick transition from pedestal to laundry folder, a couple moments stayed with me the whole week. I’m still thinking about them today. I woke up thinking about them and they made me smile. You see during the Mother’s Day escape of the dishes adventure, we decided to go to the beach. It’s my haven. I hear the waves and I feel at peace. It usually shakes off any bad vibes that followed me during the week.

And even though I packed the lunches, filled the gas tank, lugged all the beach toys and dug the hole in the sand, I sat in my tan-colored Tommy Bahama chair, with my toes in the sand watching my daughter race the waves. It was something about that laughter of narrowly escaping the salty waves that captured my attention. She was in the zone. She was happy in the moment, not thinking of anything else, but the beach and her. And it made me smile.

I felt lost in that moment, so much so that I forgot to take a picture. I was just watching her and right then and there it felt good to be her mom. I mean most of the time on Mother’s Day you just want a massage and a nice dinner. You sure don’t want to be dragging a bunch of plastic toys from Target across those sandy hills. You want a day away from kids … a day of peace and quiet.

But for some reason I found the quiet of peace and the love of motherhood as she ran along the shore. She made my heart expand. I thought of the gift bag she made me in class and I felt like I deserved every purple crayon she used.

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And then the feeling continued when I turned to check on my son … there he was taking out his Star Wars Yoda kite from the wagon. I thought ah man I’m gonna have to break this trance of awesomeness and help put this kite together and run along a couple times until the kite takes flight.

But no.

He managed to do it by himself. Determined.

He put it together and then let out the line. He ran a few steps and launched Yoda into the sky … there he was flying with The Force, my young Jedi. He sat on the sand, making a plan, figuring out the physics of flight I imagine. Staring at the sky, maybe in appreciation of his triumph.

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I snapped a picture. He had continued what his sister had started. He got lost in the moment, fully engaged in Yoda’s flight and happy that he had done it himself. Happy in the moment, not thinking of the next, just happy right now.

He turned to look … to see if I was watching. He smiled, as I was, gave me a thumbs up and then turned around to keep flying.

Usually Mother’s Day comes and goes, and it’s back to the grind on Monday. But I found the quiet of peace on the beach that day and it’s still with me.  Definitely a good Mother’s Day gift.

Buen Camino my friends.

 

 

 

Writer Wednesdays on a Monday: Turning Things Around

8 May

It’s like hearing that song on the radio and you just stop because you feeeeeeeeeel the lyric.  You feel George Harrison. You feel Mavis Staples. You feel Springsteen. You feel Hall and Oates. You feel Phil Collins. You feel Chris Stapleton. You feel Juan Gabriel. You feel Ana Gabriel. You feel Katrina and The Waves.

It is in you. You feel like it was written just for you, and you sit there in your car at the stop light listening.

Them words.

You think to yourself, maaaaaaaan. They got this one right. The lyric, combined with the music. They got this one.

Then you go back to your keyboard, inspired, hoping that you can put something like that on the page. You want to make someone laugh, smile, feel your heart through your characters. And sometimes it happens … other times … you fail miserably because you just can’t get it. It’s not there. You thought you had it with all that inspiration jazzing you up, but then you lost it because of a phone call, bad memory, or wasted time. Lack of discipline attacks you on Wednesday after you had the umph to get you through Monday and Tuesday.

Burn.

I hate it when that happens.

So how is it that I try to turn things around? Especially on a Monday?

I try to remember that waking up wasn’t an accident. It was on purpose, for something bigger than just fixing lunches, dropping off kids, and racing through traffic. There has to be more that I leave my kids than memories.

Pieces of me in my writing out there for them to read and get. Whether on my laptop, in my notebooks, posts, or published writings. Something of me is out there for them to see, to get, that I’m on the star map chasing the Milky Way and hoping I land.

So when I feel like dropping it because I’ve dropped the ball as a writer and haven’t found the nooks and crannies of time to write every day, I remember not everybody is on the same ride. I’ve got all kinds of detours and stops on mine. It may take a little longer, but I’ll get there. As long as I don’t give up.

So I don’t.

I get the Andre Agassi in me … ready to make a comeback.

It’s bigger than me. That’s what I think … I can’t walk around six months from now and still be in the same spot, because it’s bigger than me. I’ve got my Zen back and it took me a loooooooooooonnnnnng time to rework my magic with this crazy environment and lack of support, with the failing of my awesome play earlier this year. I thought things would spark after that. It took a while to find my center … a lot of podcasts.

But I found it.

I woke up and remembered … waking up was not an accident. Turn the corner.

Buen Camino my friends.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here Comes The Sun …

1 May

I sat there on the tippy top of the grassy slope and noticed it as I exhaled. It wasn’t a surge, or gust, but sort of a soft welcoming wave with the sun peeking through.

After trying to catch my breath from the two-mile run I noticed it. Didn’t look like anything special, but that open patch of grass seemed to have my name on it. After getting the feel-good-feeling from my morning routine, I stretched out on the hill and then leaned back to prepare for a momentary meditative state. I took a minute. Just one … and that was all I needed for hope to come rest on me.

 

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🙂

Emptying out my tank and finding this  moment at the end of that seemed to fill it back up again.  The emotions and frustrations I was getting out of my system were long gone, left on the track to be stepped on by someone else’s Nike’s.

And I haven’t necessarily been in a dire situation, nothing extreme mind you, but I have been thinking about hope and situations that require that we lean on it. I lay there on the on the grassy hill soaking up the sun and finishing up my Deepak Chopra Zen moment. I like to clear my head, and start the day with my Power Hour so that everything can be reset if it needs to be.

Reset that crappy morning caused by a bad drive to school, just trying to make it on time without getting a ticket from that motorcycle cop,  reset that crappy morning after a bad conversation that makes me feel like I have no peace, reset that crappy morning after an encounter with the fake PTA Mafia that just stirs up anger, reset that crappy morning after a heartfelt talk with my kids to learn the other kids can still be jackasses, or just resetting that crappy morning because the emotional hangover from the night before followed me through the alarm clock.

Any of these requires hope.

And I had it.

I felt what my friend Gisela calls the  ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh moment rest on my shoulders and fill up my soul. And it was only moment, but it lasted the entire day.

Hope. I had it with me.

I looked upon crappy situations as opportunities. Most of the time these bad conversations suck the air right out of my balloon and it takes a while for me to recharge my batteries, but with this sunshine encounter I found a way to look at things differently, and I put the pettiness of others in the rear view mirror and kept it back there.

You know, I’d run this course plenty of times, but hadn’t taken the time to stop on the hill, not until I’d seen that three-legged dog a couple of weeks ago. I was so grateful I had, because now after every run I lay there for my moment of Zen, waiting,  because I know … here comes the sun.

 

 

 

 

Uncovering Great Stories …

24 Apr

Celebrating words and their magical effect on our lives under the California sun created a moment for the Jar of Awesome.

Every year, we find our way through the mazes of people and books to create our own weekend adventure. Sometimes the moments are simple, other times they’re exciting fireworks style encounters, either way we always look forward to this book lover’s tradition.

We look forward to what this festival will uncover. Sometimes it’s all about meeting a special author, other times it’s about discovering a new story, or running into my kid’s favorite super hero, sometimes it’s about exploring the science stations, or cooking demonstrations, and sometimes it’s about witnessing a great performance on stage. This weekend we were lucky enough to experience it all, although the Caped Crusader was missing … probably solving a crime though.

It was our yearly outing to the Festival of Books and the fact that we didn’t have a meltdown definitely ranked as a Top-10 Outing.

But the one special surprise that snuck its way into our hearts was discovering The Legend of Rock, Paper, Scissors. Now if you know anything about kids, you know that rock, paper, scissors is a major tie-breaker decision maker around here. So when we uncovered the origins of this very funny story, mom scored some points. If you have kids I strongly encourage you to read this one. The fact that we met the author and got it signed? Mom got a high-five for that one. The fact that we got four of our books signed? Yup. It was chocolate time.

So as I sat there on the grass, under a tree, listening to the band on the nearby stage, unloading our reading treasures and eating the goods from our homemade picnic, I thought … definitely a moment to be captured on film. Definitely a moment to be grateful for … definitely a moment for the Jar of Awesome.

 

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The Adventure begins …

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Checking out some authors …

 

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Hitting the stage to rock some children’s music …

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I loved checking out this wall … can you find ours?

 

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My kids thought this would be a great book for me …

 

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I decided to pick that up plus a couple of freebies 🙂

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We stopped by to spread some kindness during our book loving tour …

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Before departing we left our mark on the wall of books …

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Our awesome loot at the end of the day …

Yup … it was a 10 out of 10. High five mom.

 

 

All Kinds of Messengers …

19 Apr

Things eventually work out … somehow.

I never used to think that … like ever. I’d be like if they don’t work out the way I want them to or planned them to, then that’s not really working out for me.

That’s what I used to think.

But as kids came into the picture and gray hair followed, I realized that’s the perfect philosophy, and I was recently reminded of this through one of my meditation sessions … and a text message.

During my recent meditation session, with Deepak, we focused on hope during uncertain times. And as he was talking about people’s reactions to different scenarios it clicked. That used to be me. Somehow during this journey, this moving on up to the East Side to a deluxe apartment in the sky to finally get a piece of THE pie journey, a switch happened. It happens to everyone. You’re not in the same place you were last year. You’re either better or worse, but you’re not in the same spot.

Over 20 years ago, the semester before I graduated college I was so worried about what my life would look like, I mean I had a plan, but the steps on the yellow-brick road weren’t quite lining up. Everyone I knew had a gig waiting for them after turning in their cap and gown but me. That uncertainty freaked me out. I worked hard my entire 18-year old life at the time and felt like … where’s my reward? When is success gonna come rain down on me?

The uncertainty made me feel uneasy and stressed out. I wondered with all my suit-and-tie friends getting their foot in the door, whether I’d even make it out of the parking lot. But eventually I met Matt, the guy who gave me my first break, and it happened. It just took a different route and eventually it worked out … somehow.

And with last week’s meditation sessions, I was reminded of the lesson. I thought about all that wasted time, freaking out and stressed out and worried everyone would be a success except me. I didn’t approach uncertainty through a positive lens, as I thought uncertainty to be a negative thing. Now I realize I should have looked upon it as an opportunity, a chance for something great to happen, or for a learning experience that would have led to personal growth. Either way it would have been a win, short term or long term, but a win nonetheless.

I trip out how the universe sends me these reminders through various messengers, just to put an exclamation point on that message.

During uncertain times, unemployment, broken relationships, new jobs, new city, first-time-stay-at-home parent, when you’re in the thick of it … just pause. I don’t remember pausing to turn my thoughts around 20 years ago, so I learned things the hard way. But now I have all kinds of pauses, and I remember that eventually things will work out, that Hope is in my corner, sometimes hiding, but it’s there. I just have to remember it’s there. That’s what I’ve come to learn through the years, and with Deepak’s help.

But I was also reminded of this with the help of a text  …

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The universe is funny sometimes. It has all kinds of messengers.

 

 

Emptying Out The Tank …

10 Apr

Now I know you’re aware that I’m not the greatest morning person, I lived with that my whole life, but climbing 63 stories in the evening wasn’t something I had in mind, especially after a 7 a.m. hockey game, 10 am Jesus class, a two-hour-visit to the school carnival, and two-hour baseball game.

Nope. Not what I envisioned.

However, the Powers That Be at the American Lung Association thought it would be an awesome idea to scale Los Angeles’s second tallest building just in time to see the sunset. You know … during epic traffic encounters on the 101, 5, and 110 freeways.

They thought that after the exhaustion of scaling 1,039 steps in claustrophobic environment with close to 500 people the skyline would be one to remember.

They thought that because it was my fifth trip to the top of the AON Center that it would be a laid-back workout, that I knew what I was doing.

Whoever said, “it’s just like riding a bicycle,” never stair climbed in his life. Like. Ever. Let me tell you, scaling this monster for the fifth year in a row was not easier the fifth time. It’s never easy. I still felt just as suffocated in the enclosed stairwells as I did the first time around. I still felt my calves burning and my knees aching by the 27th floor. I still tried to not look up at the signs because 63 stories seemed so far away when I was still on the 31st floor. I still thought those volunteers with pom-poms were lying to me when they said, “you’re almost there, you’re almost there” because they were, well everyone was lying except for that chick on the 61st floor. I still felt like I was going in slow motion as it became harder and harder to breathe. I still felt all the heaviness, and weariness of every nook and cranny of my Ben-Gay-Icy-Hot loving 41-year old muscles. I felt it all with every step and every breath.

But one thing kept me going.

One.

I kept seeing my hands hold his hands at the hospital. I kept thinking I was the last one to talk to him before surgery and the last one to see him before he passed away. I kept seeing moments from my childhood sporting awesome polyester bell bottoms and moments from adulthood where talks and laughter surrounded us. I saw them all, and just when the exhaustion of the 45th floor hit me, when I thought I was losing the pictures in my mind I saw the poster. There it was taped on the stairwell, a picture of my Dad, my sister and me, “Why We Climb”.

Yup.

That was all I needed to pull whatever reserve I had remaining in the tank, and I pushed passed the I’m-gonna-pass-out-right-now-feeling. I ran by the people sitting on stairwells, clinging onto bannisters for dear life, and standing at the last water station.  I saw number 61 and pulled the Ninja-Warrior-Gatorade-Commercial-Worthy athlete out and stormed up those last steps.

I hit the roof running and the burst oxygen filled up my lungs as I stepped outside. I raised my hands up like Rocky and put my finger up to the sky. I got there in 16 minutes and 16 seconds and 16 seconds.

They thought the sunset would be a memorable one …

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🙂

They were right. I still remember it.

 

 

Goodbyes …

3 Apr

It was like the ending of the Breakfast Club, but without the cool music.

Although we deserved it. We deserved all that good 80’s music.

A buddy of mine recently decided to graduate and move onto bigger and better things. Packing up her bags and setting her sites on new adventures, a Guardian of the Galaxy type of quest. The very next week, I find out that an amazing blogging buddy of mine Cayman Thorn over at Drinks Well With Others has decided to close down the bar for a while and live his life to the fullest, blog-free, although he promises to check in from time to time.

This double whammy made me think of all the other buddies I’ve lost to the follow the-yellow-brick road journey. Sometimes it’s slow, losing touch is like that. Some relationships were meant to be novelas in length, others short stories. Both deeply meaningful, both leaving their mark.

But both saying good-byes in different ways. I’ve had buddies say so long with a big dinner, speech, scrapbook maybe even Facebook promises. And then others, like my buddies in the blogging world, some disappearing slowly with less and less posts until there are no more and others leaving you with one last farewell story, the kind that involves a pause … a moment.

Both departures made me think about the positives I got from each encounter. The laughs over corny jokes during traffic on our way to meet friends for Saturday morning brunch, or the boosts in confidence after reading his comments on one of my many stories. Both buddies made me laugh, both made me feel good about being myself, and both of them were just awesome people I was glad to have met. After the bummer-you’re-leaving shock slowly wore off, I was hoping they had some good memories of our conversations and outings as well. I was hoping I gave as much as I received. I was hoping I made them laugh when they needed one, gave them a high-five when they felt like they fell short, and brought them sunshine when it storming down on them.

I was hoping they learned something from my friendship as I had learned from theirs. That’s something they don’t really teach you when you’re growing up. That after a break-up with a boyfriend or girlfriend, or after a friend moves to a new city or new endeavor, it’s still a loss. But one that ended on a positive note. Nothing hateful or worrisome or ugly about losing a friend to something better, something they were looking for, something on their yellow-brick road. You feel a twinge of hurt because they’re leaving but also a warmth in your heart, because they’re on their way. You feel like Red at the end of Shawshank Redemption. At least this was how I felt.

So in honor of their new beginnings I write this post for them and for all the other buddies that have moved on and set their sights on a new city, a new adventure on their way to something different, something bigger, something that gives them purpose. For Lame Adventures, Blissful Adventurer, 50 Year Project, BrickHouse Chica, The Strugglers Handbook, Mikalee Byerman, This Man’s Journey, Chica Writes, Apple Pie & Napalm, Alicia, Monica, Sandy, Lisa, Clara, The Other Lisa, Vicco, Jonathan, Doc, Talia, Rizza, Jarre, Anthony, and Patty

Buen Camino, my friends wishing you luck! I’ll be here if you change your minds and want to hang out.