"If I knew all the words, I would write myself out of here." MRAZ

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

my personal food chain experience

There is something lovely about being able to be a part of the "circle of life." I guess I could also say the food chain, in this particular instance.

I had the pleasant surprise while traveling this past weekend to come upon a laden apple tree. This medium sized tree was full, nine-months-pregnant-kind-of-full, with apples. They were small and medium, mostly green...there were a couple of red-shaded ones. And there were a ton (A TON) of them ready for picking. And so, I did.

I didn't really have any idea what I would do with them. I mean, sure, I cook. I love to. But I didn't really think that I would have much success. After gathering all the ready-apples and lugging them to the car, I knew that responsibility was knocking at my door. I mean, there are people all over the world who are hungry and would love to have such a treasure in their bellies.

And I definitely considered this treasure. Free goodies found, almost literally, at the front door step. I mean, what is a girl to do?!


With so much plenty, I decided to tackle the masses and make applesauce. I pulled up a basic recipe (thanks, Sarah) and modified it to my needs. I like applesauce as much at the next 30 year old, which means...mostly as a side with my potato pancakes; and my little man of 6 years likes it well enough; but there were still a TON of apples left (meaning more sauce to come), so I knew I had to take it a step further. I looked up a basic recipe for muffins and modified it..which means that changed it almost completely since I added applesauce instead of milk and used Bread Flour because I had no All Purpose in the house.

And, voila!
In reality, they were only posing as muffins. The combination of ingredients lent the actual hand-to-mouth experience to more of a "baked applesauce pudding-type hot pocket." In other words, yummy-goodness

I am thankful for this personal food chain experience.
I am so happy to have come upon that sweet little tree ready to share its tart, crisp apples with me; and with all of those that will benefit from my cooking. 

I cannot wait to visit said tree again...there were still plenty of apples still waiting for their due date.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Love on a Shuffle

I asked him to give me music.

Don’t get me wrong. I like flowers as much as the next girl…maybe more; but you can’t take fresh-cut flowers to Africa with you. And music…well, when someone shares their playlist with you, I feel like they share a piece of their soul. There’s nothing like getting to know someone through their taste in music. It is a whole new perspective, an indirect facet to their personality that sparkles with rhythm and melody.

I was headed to Kenya for a 9 day trip and thought it would be nice to “get to know him” through some of his music. Sure, it is more romantic if the guy hands over a CD in the shy “I-made-you-a-mix-tape” kind of way; but I didn’t have the luxury for romance. I was looking at a combination of flights totaling 18 plus hours (and that was just getting there), never mind the associated down-time in the airports.

I flat out asked.

“If I give you my Shuffle, will you please add some music on it so that I can listen to it during my trip.”

“Sure,” he said nonchalantly.

My heart busted out in a break dance.
What he didn’t realize is that I don’t often flat out ask for anything. I tend to wait until it is offered so as not to be an inconvenience. That’s just how I operate. I can usually take care of myself just fine. But I was slowly opening up to this guy; and my heart was trusting him more and more in spite of my typical behavior. I was melting for him, and trying desperately not to let it show.

There were some technical difficulties with the Shuffle I already had. No one could get it to work. Something was amiss with the connection between the Shuffle and the ear buds; I even tried buying new buds, but it still didn’t work. I wasn’t too thrilled about having to buy another, but I wasn’t going to miss out on the opportunity to get my hands on his music.

(Sure, it’s true that I have an iPod touch as well. I could have given him that, but I was planning to download a ton of podcasts onto that space).

It was the day before I was leaving on my trip. I went to Walmart on my way to the office and picked up a 2GB metallic green shuffle, the kind that comes in a small plastic cube-like package. I handed it over to him without bothering to open it.

I asked, “I know that it’s last minute, but can you add the playlist onto this?”

“Yea,” he said, “not a problem.”

I wanted to hug him.

I came in the next morning with my mind in ten thousand places. I hadn’t really packed yet. I mean, I had tried, but things had been so busy with work, with prepping the kid and his dad for my absence, I hadn’t really take care of me yet. There was a pile of stuff in an open suitcase in my living room; and that’s about as far as I had gotten. I was stressed. I hadn’t traveled internationally since 2003; and knew that I would undoubtedly forget something.

I was only in the office for a few hours to wrap up loose ends before being gone for the entire upcoming business week. I powered up my computer and grabbed my coffee mug for a fill up. I met him in the hallway on my way to the break room. He had been walking purposefully towards my office with anticipation written all over his face. I had no idea why. As I said before, I was distracted; and when I saw him coming towards me, all I could think was how sweet his face looked and how much I was going to miss it while I was gone.

With our bodies in front of each other, I met his bright, only slightly mischievous eyes with my own, happy and inquisitive. Before I could blink, he dropped to one knee.

What the heck, I thought; which is all I had time for…

He pulls out the Shuffle case with one hand and lifts open the lid, as if it were a ring box hiding a beautiful diamond, with the other.

“Will you….listen to my music,” he asked a little breathlessly.

My eyes must have been the size of saucer plates.
A giggle erupted playfully from my lips.

“Of course! I would love to!”

I leaned down, pressing my hands against his cheeks and nuzzled my nose against his. It was hard to not full-out kiss him right there.

He popped up quickly, I think to avoid any undue observation from others, with a smug-sweet grin on his face, and handed me the Shuffle case.

“I had to whittle down the playlist quite a bit. Your original Shuffle had a lot more space than this one. You’ll be happy to know that most of the country was nixed; but I left all the Johnny Cash songs.”

“You what?!”

He knows that Johnny Cash is not my favorite. My question came out as an accusatory squeak, and I almost immediately chided myself. The whole point was that I needed to be open-minded and listen to his music, his soul.

“I’m kidding,” he chuckled. “Sorry, I couldn’t help myself,” he explained after evaluating my expression. So, clearly, I wasn’t hiding my distaste as well as I had hoped.

“Yea, I was up half the night. I had to listen to a lot of it to make sure that I wanted it to make the final list. It should be good. There are still plenty of songs on it.”

My heart was a pool on the floor. He would never know how much his time and attention to detail meant to me. I couldn’t wait to get those ear buds in. It wouldn’t be the same as having just one CD, where the focus on the songs is a little more direct. But instead, it would be like looking at a rainbow; enjoying the different shades and perspectives of color. And I was okay with that.

“Thank you,” I said. And I tried to let my heart shine through my eyes.

“Sure. No problem.”


The rest of the morning was a whirlwind of activity. I left the office later than I had wanted, which was typical. I ran home to dash about, doing my best to focus and get ready as quickly as possible.

I met him for lunch, just a little alone-together time before my international adventure, which would take me to the other side of the world. He gave me a big hug afterward at my car and told me to have fun. I loved him. But, instead of saying so, I said, “Thanks. Don’t get into too much trouble while I’m gone.”

We shared a mutually affectionate grin and parted ways.

Everything after that was seriously a blur.

Running home. Last minute packing: stuffing anything I could think of into any crevice I could find. Meeting up with friends. Getting into the car. Riding to the local airport. Checking in. Getting through security (giggling that they stopped my travel partner for an extensive search, the most unassuming and least sinister looking woman in the world). Grabbing a Passion Tea at Starbucks. Plugging my laptop in……and going back to work. The loose ends were a little slippery at the office and I still needed to tie a few of them off.

Before I knew it, I was sitting – as comfortably as possible in a middle seat on an airplane – and getting situated for my overnight flight to London. I grabbed all the necessary items from my carry-on: book, journal, iPod touch and Shuffle. The first hour or two was occupied with settling in, listening to safety information, picking a drink, enjoying an awkward dinner (there’s really no elbow room being in the middle seat) and waiting for things to get quiet in the cabin.

As it was getting dark, I decided to – finally – pop in the ear buds to my Shuffle. The activity of the day and the reality of what lay ahead of me were working together to get me to rest as much as possible; and so I decided to close my eyes and to single-focus my mind on the music.

Ear buds in, I rested my head back and pressed play.
There was nothing else I could do but giggle.

AC/DC’s Let Me Put My Love Into You rocked-out through the buds.
I might have blushed, but it was probably too dark for anyone to notice.

I made a mental note to kiss him extra good when I got home.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Flirt vs. Caress


Verb: Behave as though attracted to or trying to attract someone, but without serious intentions


Verb: Touch or stroke gently or lovingly


I used the word "flirt" in our conversation tonight. In relation to how much we like to flirt with each other; and how there seems to exist between us a flirty attraction that needs satisfaction of a sort.

I left the conversation disappointed in my choice of words.
Even without pulling the definition, flirt is a word that lacks substance when it leaves my mouth. It's tasteless. It belittles the interaction we share.

There is no assumed attraction between us, no attempt at attraction.
Attraction is and binds us together; it is in no way presumed. It has weaved an intricate tie between our souls. We meet genuinely interested and concerned for each other. Our meeting offers a sacred-like tryst; and it doesn't matter than no one else understands, that everyone who observes is confused.

And it's sacrilegious to state that our intentions are anything but serious. We are serious about each other in our own way. We deliberately acknowledge each other's value and worth.

As I was beating myself up over our conversation and my very poor choice of came to me that I would have used a different word, if I could have the opportunity to rewind our discussion: caress.

I don't want to say that I flirt with you; I want to say that I caress your heart.

In those moments that we meet, when attraction brings us together, I bliss-out on our mutual respect. I desire to hear your perspectives and maybe have the chance to share them. I long to feel the pulse and rhythm of your heartbeat, your breath. I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that I touch your heart and that you touch mine; and that sometimes, we have a hard time letting go.

I'd like to be clear regarding my action towards you. I caress you; I do not flirt.

Monday, August 15, 2011

New Zen

She looked at me and asked, "Where are you going?"

In 10 million-bazillion directions, I thought. I follow each path and possibility that presents even the hint of adventure; and I love it. I love leading an interesting life. I love learning and putting myself in the position to be exposed to new opportunities to grow beyond my norm. If a path is blocked or turns out to be a dead end, I usually find another, with no problem, to journey along. I travel many paths at once radiating outwardly the positive energy I find.

Sometimes a path is so lovely and the adventure upon it so sweet, that I am sad when it comes to an end - whatever the reason may be. And, I mourn. In the past, my mourning consumed me. Adventures stopped abruptly on all paths in order to fixate on the path that had closed, the experience that had been taken away.

I've since learned that very few paths deserve the honor of the mourning-act; instead I thank the path for the inspiration and the time shared and move along. I reserve the rite to mourn for a select few. I've also learned to continue to explore the other paths even as I mourn the one that I miss. Otherwise, I miss life. And life is too short to miss.

"Can you not adventure on while you wait?"

Her question made me stop hard. That option had come up (for sure it did), but it didn't occur to me as viable. It was a mist-dream that had passed through my heart leaving only the fewest water droplets behind. She said it aloud and all of the sudden it was real and intense. She had given the idea life and this incarnate concept demanded that I not only consider it, but do it.

I am in mourning for a beautiful path that was blocked from me. I have confidently honored the path with my genuine sadness. My act has been coming to an end, and I've known it. I've lingered in the bitter-sweet awe of "what if" considerations to the point where I've already started to admonish myself to move on. To leave the path, and focus on the others wholeheartedly; reminding myself that I've outgrown the need to fixate, which leads to detrimental pauses.

Her question presented a new option. This time, instead of mourning the path and leaving it, I could mourn and stay. Stay until the opportunity opened up again. Some paths are only blocked for a period of time until they reopen again. She explained that my youthful exuberance, usually a positive trait, could lead me wrong this time.

"Age offers the experience of understanding how the passage of time affects us and our choices...the paths that we take. There's no need to rush. You can explore at the same time that you wait and an answer will come to you organically, without your abrupt departure, which inevitably forces an end."

My jaw dropped.
I am so hungry for experience-starts, that I manufacture experience-ends more than I need to. I understand the need to be thankful and even, the need to mourn. I've learned to appreciate the growth obtained by calling an end to sadness and continuing adventures along other paths.

But, now, it seems I am to learn path-patience. It is going to be a new layer of zen in my life, I know it.

Man, if this is what it means to grow old, I can't wait.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

getting off my butt now, thanks!

I am preparing my first manuscript. I've had one too many people tell me to get off my butt and do something with my potential...

..and I realized that it was pretty nigh time to listen. I am a big advocate of people doing what they love and reaching others with their talent. I tell people all the time to get off their butts and live the dream.

My excuse has been...well, I am busy. Single mom, remember? Operations Manager for a small company, which means that I'm never getting my entire task list done. And I have been safe and happy in this excuse, like a cocoon, for some time now.

Being poked and prodded irritates me as much as the next person; but add to that the actual fact that as long as I rest in said cocoon - safe and tucked away...boring - I am a hypocrite. Instead of living the dream, I am maintaining.

It is the recurring choice, thrive or survive, that repeats at certain intervals in that darned blue sock in the whites wash.

And, if I am being completely honest, that's not the kind of reputation I want to have - let's review: hypocrite, boring, surviving - on any level: friend, career-minded woman, mom.

And, so, I am putting in the time, doing the research, getting off my butt, so that I can get my words out there.

After that, come what may.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

The Promise

I have a pact with my designer.
Maybe it is more like an unspoken promise.
Either way, it will make both of our lives so much easier.

I've asked one of my good friends to design cover art for a handful of books that I am compiling content for.

The promise I've made to him: I will not be like so many of his clients that contract him for design because they say they trust his design-sense and approve of his portfolio, but end up ruining the design process because along the way they forget themselves (they forget their lack of skill and expertise) and decide that they want to be the Designer (in-charge, can I say) instead.

I've been in the position to manage several scopes of work where design is involved. When the client has an idea that is well thought through (for their business model) and appropriately conveyed to the Designer (list of objectives, colors, sample ideas), things work well. The Designer is free to create a within the scope and the client can comment on likes and dislikes in order to narrow it down to the "chosen" look.

But when the client doesn't have a list of objectives, things get a little rocky. Instead of having a clearly defined scope (set of boundaries, as it were), the client likes this, but also ...and can you add a little of that...and maybe in this color too?

These types of clients have often done a lot of looking around, which isn't necessarily a bad thing, but when it is combined with a lack of objective forethought, they've turned themselves into a kind of design zombie. There is no reason or cognitive thought. There is only the obsessive end-goal...which remains illusive, because, again, there are no real objectives...only, "Well this is nice. Why can't I have this?"

(I could spend more time relishing in the zombie analogy, but we've all seen the movies...and I will let you imagination make the connections.)

As Project Manager, I've heard the whining (zombie grunts and moans) and I've dealt with it...nicely. And I've sworn never to be that kind of client - ever.

And, so now I find myself on the other side of the table (much earlier than I would have thought). With experience under my belt, I've presented my plan to the Designer. Provided several themes that are related directly to the work(s). I've said please and thank you. And I've waited for brilliance to occur. (I wouldn't have asked this particular friend to help if I didn't trust his ability to provide the type of "look" that I am going for.)

The promise I've made to him (to me as well) includes another detail...
I've got enough experience "designing" and trusting in my own "eye for colors" that I know I could fall into the zombie-client role. I could spend hours looking at images and design ideas, pelting him with emails full of links to each one...oh, isn't that pretty? and wouldn't this look just right?...(don't laugh, there are plenty of clients out there like that - maybe you've had your own?)

I decided not to look.
I'm going to trust in my Designer and the list of objectives that I've already submitted. I will not waste hours of time on reviewing what my cover art could look like....instead, I will wait for brilliance and make my comments.