Your Uniqueness

When was the last time you celebrated your uniqueness? There is so much pressure to live the American dream, to have more than the next person, etc. But we are each different and we achieve things in our lives differently. I was taken advantage of recently, and what I came out of it with was "thank God I still have faith that someone may have honestly done something good for me."  I am not as jaded as the person who tried to take advantage of me. There was no harm done in the end, but it made me appreciate myself.

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I have friends that have good careers, some more boring careers, etc. But we have each earned our lives honestly. Not one of us had to disingenuously take advantage of others to make a living. Maybe we are the fortunate ones, even though none of us are rich!  I can still paint, draw, bake, bead, hike, write and take walks outside. I have friends that walk on their beaches, that walk their dogs, garden, visit with their parents, are active with their clubs and these are all a part of the American dream, as well.

I was at a library last year and there were posters of Hollywood stars saying 'read'. Learning is free. I was so proud of them. Part of making this country great is educating yourself! If you are not the greatest reader there are programs to help. With all the pressure to compare ourselves to others or to own more or to  join groups in which we have to subvert our basic selves, why don’t we appreciate how excellent and unique we each are? 

I am the winner of that prank because my heart and soul are still alive!

A Fountain of Youth?

A Fountain of Youth?  Life brings us our own set of issues.  I am not married nor did I have children, but it seems I always had to relocate for a salaried job withbenefits.  At one point, I was in a hotel  4 out of 5 nights, for three years.  For another job, I lived in Manhattan for four years and traveled an average of about once a month, for personal  and business.          

My challenges were unique from those that stayed home, had a husband and children, or who worked and had a family. They had security and stability that I didn't have. My parents kept the same house for 40 years.  That is stability! No two persons lives or challenges are the same. Whatever the lifestyle, we are usually caught up in our own affairs.  It is hard, sometimes, when we get more ingrained in our own routine, to not feel like we are our routine, instead of ourselves.    

So when the last Vegas desert summer  began,  this  year,  on June 1st  I made a reservation to go visit my friends from college, in Seattle. I knew that by August I would have to get out of the heat! I went for a week-end . It did more for me than getting out of the heat! I have a friend that I have seen a lot more than the others. It's different visiting there their city. 

It was a vacation for us all.  My friends usually don't go to Pike Place market or take a harbor cruise, etc.  The city has grown so much.  We visited our Alma mater, talked and remembered who we were so many years ago in college.  My friend Julie visited her college friends last year and I know it was good for her soul; it certainly was for mine.  It may not be the fountain of youth, but it was good for my mind, body and spirit. 

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Imagination

In the desert, when it is 110 degrees+ in the Summer, I sometimes find it hard to write or feel inspirational.  But I walked into the drug store the other day, this guy said, 'You haven't written a blog in months', so I thought I'd try.   I asked him for a suggestion, and he said politics.  I have stayed pretty far away from things controversial in this blog, because it is supposed to be inspirational, so:

In these times when everyone has a cell phone with a camera, and there is technology everywhere, so that we each are always on camera, what do us people who hate to have our picture taken do?  I thought I'd share a story from when I was young that I think may help some peopletoday, especially those with children.  

When my sister and I were very young we were very shy.  The famous acting school with Lee Strasbourg from NYC came to town, and my mom, being from NYC and knowing the name, decided to sign us up for an acting class. She hoped it would help us to overcome our shyness.  We did some very fun exercises in that class that really help the imagination, like walking through peanut butter, etc. It's not only fun, but it makes you get your mind out of it's normal 'routine thinking'. But the most important lesson that I would pass on was this:  The acting instructor said that anytime you are on stage, in whatever form, you should picture your audience naked.  It sounds funny, but try it sometime. That takes the pressure off of YOU and puts it on your audience. And it also makes you laugh. A sense of humor can get you through the toughest of situations.

Since then I have given speeches, been in plays, been in dance recitals, given business reports, etc. and the more nervous I was, I just looked out at everyone and thought of them in their underwear or naked, and it usually worked!  Later, when I was in my thirties, I also took an improvisation class to help me think on my feet. It was comedic, and it also helped me to come out of my shell. An acting class might be a great Summer activity for your kids:>)

Stay cool!

Focus

I worry about the loss of focus in this new generation.  I'm afraid that a whole generation may have been sacrificed for the sale of technology and the profits from it.  I have mostly done business to business marketing in my past, but now the focus is on marketing to kids. I don't play video games, but the ones I have seen are all about continual chase scenes. What happens to an entire generation when they never reach the end?  When there is no sating of the chase? Are they ever sated in anything? The movies I have seen in the past ten years, ie. Mission Impossible, Superman, Spiderrman, etc., are all about continual chase scenes. I worry about this, because an entire generation is being raised on the latest technology and it is never enough.

In technology today, you have to upgrade whatever you have in six months to keep up with the Jones'.  It used to be that the parents had to keep up with appliances, cars, houses, etc.  But now your kids have more expensive equipment than your house does.  What happens if they don't have the latest?  One of my bosses from New York, before she had her first baby, was worried about it, and this was before anyone ( and everyone) had a cellphone.  We were talking about not letting them have everything they want, but she said 'What happens when all of their cousins, friends, etc. have the latest?'  Now that everyone has a cellphone, video game, etc., I don't know how parents do it!  It's much worse now than when we talked in 1991 (?).

I was raised on books, toys, playing outside, etc. Books have a beginning, a middle and an end.  Even if a book has several stories, as in Tanglewood Tales, each story has a beginning, middle and an end. At the end of each story, the reader is sated. I am told that Aristotle is the author of this type of story. I think that this has completely changed with the overuse of technology.

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When we had a landline phone at home, if someone called and I was outside playing, they had to wait untiI I was finished to talk to me.  What happens to an entire generation who learns to talk to you now instead of  waiting until you are done with what you are doing?  What happens to focus?  How many kids had Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) in 1970, before technology itself was the focus instead of how it could help your life? When I call my friends now, on a cellphone, I always ask them, 'What are you in the middle of?'  How many kids today would think of that?

In marketing, I always had more than one project going on at a time.  But on each project, one section of it was finished before I moved on to another project, ie. I was waiting on someone to edit a newsletter, or I was waiting on a department to edit my writing about their work, etc.  But it is still doing ONE thing at a time while you are waiting on the other project.  Now that the word multitasking has been taken to an extreme, and technology can do many things at once, everyone believes this is the best thing in every scenario.  What happens to focus?

I don't have kids, and I don't know what I would do if I did today.  But I am a marketer, and I do not stand behind irresponsible marketing.  I have long believed that it started happening when the shareholder became more important than the worker in this country.  The company has too many people to please, and that never works for too long.  If the shareholders' pockets keep being the most important thing, and 'new and improved' continues to be taken to an extreme, who steps up and worries about the focus of the next generation to run this country's?  And, if a CEO's ego is insatiable at a generation's expense, how will the new generation ever be sated?

My New Year's Wish

For the New Year, I wanted to give my friends a voice through this blog.  I decided to ask a few of them what they would wish/say to the world for the new year.  Some of them responded, some of them couldn't think of anything off-hand, and some of them wanted to keep it to themselves. The following responded:

 My friend Diana Leinani from Hawaii, that I've known since we were freshmen in college, has two wishes:  1) she wishes that people would live by the Golden Rule, which is Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.  And 2) she also thinks that people should get actively involved with issues they are passionate about.

 My friend Melody from Seattle, who I have known since we were Sophomores in college, sends the following:  "Never give up on anybody.  Miracles happen every day!"

 My friend Kay from Phoenix, who I have known since early high school, says: "May this coming Jubilee Year of Mercy inspire/empower all to share their talents, gifts and time with those in need.  Random spiritual and corporal Acts of Kindness will benefit not only those that receive, but those that give as well"!

 My friend Christy from Kennewick and her family wish everyone a "Happy New Year!"

 There are several groups of people who wish Peace on Earth.

 Someone who is dear to my heart wishes that everyone would have faith in Jesus Christ.

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 And the background for my prayer for the world in 2016:

I have worked in the corporate world enough to know that things sometimes work better with a certain amount of structure.  Fortunately I worked in marketing so I was allowed some creativity to change things.  I also understand the need the need for structure, in a larger sense, in the world.  I am very grateful every day for what I have, but there are some things that I don't understand, and my New Year’s wish involves the resolution of these issues.

 I don't understand why:

 - Over 60 million people were displaced in the world in 2015

- There are over 50,000 homeless in the Los Angeles area    alone

- There are still people in refugee camps in Africa in 2015

- One of the richest men in America bought our energy company and immediately tried   to raise the rates

- Companies like Dow, ADM, etc. feel they need to make synthetic food to 'feed the world' when we could help the world to grow real food

- We insure farmers in America instead of subsidizing them

- The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization estimates that about 795 million people of the 7.3 billion people in the world, or one in nine, were suffering from chronic undernourishment in 2014-2016

 My New Years wish involves the resolution of these issues in 2016.

 Happy New Year!

 

 

 

 

Human Companionship

I was wondering what to write about this week, and I think Human Companionship is a good subject.  I recently joined Ourtime, a dating service for people over 50 - ouch!  I finally have to admit I'm getting older.  I hate the thought of it, but it is reality.  And I joined it because I want some companionship.  I have my longtime friends, but we're mostly in different cities.  Thank God for phones.   I have some family here, but not all, and they have their own lives. I even have a roommate, but we have our separate lives.  She is from Sri Lanka, and is very close to her community here.

I have noticed in my own life that when I spend too much time alone, I have different emotions, attitudes, etc.  and it's not too healthy for me, probably not for anyone.  I have seen and known people, especially older people, that have gone way down hill because of being alone and lonely.  It's harder to get jobs when you're older, especially in 2015, then you spend more time alone and it can really get anti-social with some people.  But I'm not going to get into the larger, societal issues here.

I have always been a very independent person.  When growing up, I always had friends. I went to a Catholic school, where I always had friends, but my best friend, on the same block, went to the public school.  So I always had a friend outside of the social group.  I also have five siblings, so there was usually company at home. We had a disciplined childhood, but, even though I had time to think, read and write poetry, I was used to a life around people.

Many people are married and have families, which is the life my parents had, but mine has been different.  As I've gotten older and have had to move to other cities for good jobs, I spend a lot more time alone.  It started when I worked for Samsonite, I spent four nights out of five in a hotel room for three years. It is a big change when you are used to being around friends or family.  And, when most of my friends were meeting someone and getting married, I was working.  Then I moved to NYC and worked there for four years. After that I worked in the tech industry in California. It is difficult to meet people when you are outside the community that you are living in.  I didn't always choose the move, but I did follow my 'career'. Luckily for me, my family and friends have always come to visit me wherever I lived; I always say my jobs gave them places to visit ;>) I have always needed some down time from people to think, write, etc., but it has to be balanced with human companionship. 

This is only my second week doing the dating site, but I've met some good guys: some in person, some out of state that I chat with, some that I joke with, some that I know I'll never meet.  But it is human companionship; better than not having it.  Like I said, I even have some family and a roommate here, so I have more than some, but I still want more!  Even for someone as independent as I, human companionship is necessary and healthy. It can be hard to meet someone you have something in common with, especially if you've had a hard life, but I am willing to try. That's all I can do.  

I wish everyone human companionship and warmth this Holiday Season.

Peace

Ellen

At Rocky Mountain National Park about 15 years ago with my sister Jacque and nephew Steven Jr.

At Rocky Mountain National Park about 15 years ago with my sister Jacque and nephew Steven Jr.

 

 

Perspective

My favorite Art class in grade school was in third grade, when our teacher taught us how to draw buildings with geometric angles.  She called the method 'perspectives'.  I loved it; who knows, maybe I should have been an architect.  But instead, I chose marketing, where perspectives, in a different meaning, is equally important.  Marketing is a lot more than just advertising.  It is analyzing a niche and figuring out how to best get information or a product to that niche.

One of my college room mates and I used to laugh: When we had a 3 page paper to write one time, she could NOT keep it down to 3 pages, and after trying several times, I could NOT get it up to 3 pages.  I analyze and summarize, and she likes to explain everything.  Another college roomate told me one time, 'Ellen, you are so simple minded'.  She may be right, I may be simple minded, but I think perspective is everything.  For example, I have never been considered 'cool' by the cool, trendy crowd, but I have always been considered too adventurous by the straight, goody-goody crowd.

  
When I hear comments about me, I always try to keep it in perspective and remind myself that I am who I am, and I'm not trying to be anyone else.  I couldn't have been a researcher for medicine, and I never wanted to, but they wouldn't understand me either.  When I look at a beautiful scene in nature, I think: after all the study and research, aren't all eyes the color of the earth: blue, green and brown?

Direction

I've had this habit for awhile: I take a book that I like and close my eyes and pick a page randomly by what feels right. I do this because sometimes it has a personal message for me that I need in my life at that point.  Sometimes it  tells me I'm on the right path (for me, of course), sometimes it lets me know I need to change direction, and it is always fun for me, especially when the message is relevant. It lets me know that I am in touch with my higher self. I believe, through all we've created to get through this life, ie. jobs, meals, shopping, sports, etc., that our main goal as humans is to be each in touch with our higher self. I think this is the most we can do, and that everything else is distraction and diversion.  I love the things I love in this life, friends, work, sweets, coffee, dancing, music  etc. but if I am not in touch with me, none of it 'works'. 

Everyone has their own way of getting in touch with their higher self; some feel
that religion brings them to their higher self, some actually feel that having more material wealth brings them in touch with their higher self because it gives them power, some feel most themselves when getting physical exercise, etc.  I have a combination of these things that make me feel 'myself', and when it is reflected in my 'habit of random picks', I feel really good.  It just tells me that I'm on my own, private right path, which I believe is between me and the Higher Power.

I started doing this over twenty years ago with Richard Bock's 'Illusions'.  His metaphysical messages were so good that, after having read the whole book once, opening to one page later was enough for me.  In the last ten years, I do it with the family Bible, I do it with the Dictionary when I'm at the Library, and I use the Atlas also.  I learn from whatever I choose as well as relate it to my life.  If I've chosen a place or a word that I don't know, I figure I must have a need to learn it, or there is some use in it for me.  It sounds silly, but it is one of the outward signs that I use to know I'm on the right path for me.

Today my 'random pick' was the word  'direction'.  I think it's perfect timing for a Haiku. I wrote this earlier, which is still valid for me today.

                                                        Reflections of Trees
                                              Branching in New Directions
                                                      I am to Follow?


I have a new routine that I'll be starting next week that will keep me busy.  I really hope that it 'fits' with me and lasts a long time.

 

Healthy Competition

It seems like I hear about another merger or hostile takeover every week, and the companies involved are not small to begin with.  I am not an economics major, but I believe that competition is better for the consumer.  If a company has to compete, it has to give you better customer service.

This past week I heard about several situations that are going in the opposite direction, companies planning to leave a big monopoly.  I was excited and surprised.  If a monopoly does not have any competition in an industry, it can charge whatever it wants.  This week, I read about two different situations that may be good for many people, at least for those that it will directly affect.

1.  I read that some very large companies here in Las Vegas are trying to leave the main power company (Which is owned by a billionaire) and go with a smaller energy company that includes solar in its mix.  It's not only good for them, it's a step in the direction of competition.  Isn't it wise to utilize your greatest natural resources?  We are in the desert; we have a lot of sun!  I am so proud of these companies for planning to leave the monopoly.

2. I have also been reading, for about six months, about Asia wanting to create a 'bank' that will compete with the World Bank and IMF.  I read a few days ago that Asia, along with many U.S. allies ARE formulating such an entity.  In yet another industry, it looks like competition is coming back.  I can't say that their goals aren't for profit or that their motives are pure, obviously, but I think the countries that have felt owned by the World Bank may appreciate the competition.

Despite what happened in my life, or the country's life, I think the world is heading in the right direction.

What do you think?

Tolerance and Empathy

Today our capital city is practically shut down because of weather.  The whole East coast and some of the South is 'slammed' as they put it on the news.  I was outside walking this morning with a beautiful, blue sky to look at and pink and white blossoms everywhere.  I call Las Vegas, my Colorado in the desert.  We have palm trees and evergreens, and we see mountains any way we look.  My sister and I have even climbed Mt. Charleston a few times; it's 18 miles to the top and back.

Isn't it amazing how our weather and habitat affect us? Because I am from a place where "they have more sunny days per year than any other place in the nation", I once read about Denver, I love the outdoors, and I have a perky personality.  I went to college in Seattle, WA, where the Seattle rain festival lasts from September to May".  It was a great place to study because you have to be inside, but the weather really affected me.  It's different when the sky is right down over your head, and you have to stay inside.  I remember writing home and saying "It's gray and raining again".  In that kind of weather, you have to make your own vim and vigor, because it didn't come naturally to me.  In school there, I had a professor from England who read to us from a book, "It was a cold, dark, damp, dreary day" in a way that I knew he had lived it.

When I meet people now, I try to guess where they're from.  I've been lucky enough to travel to at least 40 different states and 14 countries. Every place is an opportunity to learn from the people you meet.  It's interesting to me because our different habitats affect who we are.  If I know where someone is from, it gives me a basis from which to start to get to know them.  It may have seemed funny to some people, we grew up always travelling to Mexico. We didn't have any beaches in Colorado.  My friends from Hawaii were born on an island, and they came to see me to go skiing in our mountains (that we took for granted).  It's just one example, but I think if we have some awareness of where each other is from, then we can build more tolerance, sympathy and empathy for each other.  It works for me because I love to travel.


 

Think For Yourself

George Orwell wrote about 'groupthink' in a book long ago.  I am afraid it is no longer just fiction.  I think it has always been practiced, ie. clicky behavior in grade-school, college, and even at places of work.  I never liked the 'popular' group in grade-school, because when they were together they were mean.  My family is creative, eclectic, sometimes avant garde - but we are not mean people.  I have found that, when people play down to each other to be part of a group, they are not living up to their creative and intellectual potential.  They say (more and more the past decade) that there is safety in numbers, there are better discounts from monopolies, if you're not with us you're against us, etc.  In some MODERATE version of what they say this is all true. But there seems to be less moderation and more extremism in everything these days.  With all the technology, it is a lot easier to gossip, copy and paste, be the same as everyone else, etc. and try to be part of a group.  What they call social networks I find so ironic because it keeps people at home on a computer or a phone instead of being out in the workplace, which is social in itself.  I find it to be actually antisocial.  Before everyone had their face in a phone or computer 24 hours a day, did any kids shoot other kids in a grade-school?  I don't know if there is a direct correlation, but I remember playing with other kids on the block or neighborhood almost every day, which is a social behavior.  I think too much groupthink, whether it is promulgated by technology or not, limits creativity in individuals and in a society (and country) at large.  

The reason I am writing about this today is that I am hearing groupthink in some way in every news broadcast I listen to.  I heard it this morning when some diplomat was talking about a country as if they were far below ours, and as if I didn't have his same opinion that I was less of a person.  After about fifteen seconds of listening, I felt that my intelligence was being insulted so much I had to turn it off.  It's not just that I don't like being told how to think at the age of 55, but it does a country no good to encourage its citizens NOT to think for themselves.  How will we say we are the greatest country in the world when there is one group of people thinking for everyone and telling everyone they SHOULD think like them?  Are we still a democracy?  Are we the best country in the world or do we just like to say it to other countries?  George Orwell, my mom, I and others  have all seen it coming for a long time.  The best advice my mom ever gave me was in early grade-school, when the 'click' was mean and said that I couldn't join them.  She said not to pay any attention to them and not to  listen to them because they are not important to me.  One of my best friends was the most popular person in the group and class.  She never took sides, but I think they were jealous of my friendship with her.  I took my mom's advice and it has turned out to be the best thing she ever told me.  There will always be people who don't like us, as an individual, country, organization of countries, etc.  but if we turn life into a popularity contest what are we really?  I'm not talking about manners, because, as the Brits say, manners count.  But if we truly adopt groupthink instead of individuals adding to the creativity of the whole, I believe we're lost as individuals and a country.  Although even thinking can be taken to extremes


Shakespeare said 'To thine own self be true'.

Please Stay (10/10)

I saw something this morning on CBS Sunday Morning that made me want to write this blog. They did a special on the Dalai Lama and showed him with other important people in many different situations.  They mentioned how his country was taken from him in 1959 and he had to flee.  After such an important life and having inspired so many people, I was sad to hear what they said at the end of the show.  According to the reporter, the Dalai Lama said that with all the politics, maybe there doesn't need to be a next Dalai Lama.

 I believe that people need to be able to worship  whatever God in whatever way their culture or religion teaches them or in the way they discover on their own later in life. Worship is private and brings us a certain comfort level.  No matter what your faith is, there is most likely a leader of that faith.   For example, for the Catholics, the Pope is such an important figure as head of their religion that  people look to him in areas other than religion.  Most religions or beliefs have a head figure, and the people who practice that religion are INSPIRED by the leader to practice their faith.  I was raised a Catholic by a Father who was a strict Catholic (he went to Mass every day) and a Mother who was Catholic until later in life when she decided to learn about other religions ie. Unitarian, Buddhism, etc. I went to Catholic grade school and high school and a Jesuit College.  Since I have been out of the Catholic social network, I have discovered other ways of worship that bring me peace.  I have chanted SGI 'Nam Myoho Renge Kyo', the Tibetan 'Om Mani Peme Hum' and the Sanskrit 'Om Namaya Shivaya'.  I don't follow any of them religiously; I chant for my spirituality and my peace, and it does help me in stressful times.  I have a friend who I've spoken to recently (who I knew in college) and she now has a Buddhist room set up in her home and it brings her peace.

 I still have friends who are Catholic (one has even read the Vatican Papers) and last time I was in Denver I saw the 'Cat'lic Girls'.  I attended Christmas Midnight Mass at St. Patrick's Cathedral when I lived in NYC.  But my personal, private practices of spirituality these days seem to be more Buddhist.  I chant for peace.  I chant that those who are in charge of our world make good, intelligent decisions.  I chant for my material well-being to return.  And when I need inspiration, I look at people like the Dalai Lama who is really a leader for Buddhists and others seeking spiritual inspiration.  We need our leaders; they are more important than heads of countries and heads of companies, who each have their own agenda.  I cried when Nelson Mandela died, not only for me but for the millions of people to whom he was a leader.  Leaders are universal, above companies and countries.  They are important because they can influence our behavior, and not only spiritually.  There is a picture of the Dalai Lama on the refrigerator and every time I look at it I smile. In turn, think of how many people I can have a positive influence on if I smile let alone the influence on my day.  Knowing how much he has been through, and that he still has a shining smile influences me every time I look at that picture. 

 Yes, Dalai Lama, we need you and we need your successor.  If you asked the Catholics, they would say the same about the Pope. Please stay for the benefit of all Beings!

    14th Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso with HH Karmapa, Ogyen Trinley Dorje

    14th Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso with HH Karmapa, Ogyen Trinley Dorje

I consider myself to be just one among 7 billion human beings. If I were to think of myself as different from others, or as something special, it would create a barrier between us. What makes us the same is that we all want to lead happy lives and gather friends around us. And friendship is based on trust, honesty and openness.

                                              HH Dalai Lama today on Facebook              

Can Men Learn to Negotiate?

When I was watching the news this past week, and hearing about the wars all over the world: Ukraine, Middle East, Thailand, etc., I found myself screaming at the top of my lungs, "When will men learn to negotiate?"  Then later in the week, I was talking to a gentleman who I know casually, and I started to tell him about the 'trip of a lifetime' as my sister and I call it.  I decided to write about it and I think you will understand why.  I will not mention any names because I have not spoken to most of the people with whom we travelled, and do not have their permission.

 My grandmother, mother, sister and brother were down in the Caribbean at one point, and travelling around the area.  I was in a tough place because I had just broken up with a boyfriend that I was so in love with and wanted to be with forever.  Anyway, with nothing happening in the area I was living, I decided to join them and our long-time Mayan family friends down in Cozumel.  I had no idea what to expect when I got down there, but I called our family friend and he told me Mom and family were there, but not on the island at that point. I took the risk and went down there, hoping I'd find them. (Remember, these were long before the days where everyone had a cell phone.)

 When I got down there, my Mom and sister met me at the airport (a miracle).  Our friend had run into them at the airport and told them I'd be coming. My grandmother and brother had returned to the U.S. by then.  So we three made a decision to head across to the mainland, travel a bit and hopefully end up in Tikal, Guatemala.  We had every trust in our Mom, who was very well read and knew her way around. She and her Mom had done a lot of travelling, and at that point, we had done a lot of travelling with her.  So we started our trip...

 We had a travel book, probably Frommer's, so we could be somewhat loose in our plans.  At the beginning (when we were still on the ferry) we met up with a med student from Sweden and a girl from Montreal.  We talked, as travelers do, in whatever language we could communicate in. 'Where are you going?'  We think we are going to Tikal; let's see where our trip takes us. They joined us and so did a British couple who had been listening to us on the ferry.  We started down the coast, and by the time we got to Belize, we had a guy from Chicago, a guy from Boston, a guy from Wales and another Canadian gentleman.  When each person joined our 'group', he or she asked about our travels, asked where we were headed, and decided to be flexible in order to travel with our group.  In my experience, travelers are usually interesting people. We made our plans on the spot, within the limits of where we were; we were on the east coast of Mexico and we wanted to go to Tikal and Guatemala City, so we had some choices.  We all got along and did what we needed to do to communicate and enjoy our trip.  Each person was interesting and we learned about each other's culture. At that point, even Boston seemed like another culture, and 'Garlic' was from Chicago, itself foreign to me. Not one person had to be the controller of the trip.  We had to be flexible in order to even reach the next point in our travels.  We used mostly busses, but we also flew in a small plane and took a long train ride to Mexico City.  Climbing the pyramids of Tikal and walking through the jungle was one of the most beautiful things I've ever done. The sound of Howler and Spider monkeys was deafening when we were at the top of the pyramids. We even had a Guatemalan take us to a tree where a Howler was right above us in a tree; it was incredible!  We stayed a few nights at the park, but we were told by a German traveller not to go to Guatemala City (it was not safe for Americans), and that we should leave Guatemala immediately.  That is when you learn who you are travelling with.  We took a boat up a river to leave the country the back way, and had to stay overnight on a small island with no hotel.  A Guatemalan brother and sister caught us an animal for dinner,  cooked it on the fire, then let us stay in some palapas they had, for that night.  We were so deep in the heart of the jungle, that when I looked down, the ground was a half inch thick with moving bugs. But one of our group had a guitar, and he played and we sang to get our minds off of it. The natives, a young brother and sister, were two of the kindest people we met on out trip. We were able to communicate with them in our limited Spanish, and they did whatever they could to help us. The next day we were pulled over off the river once, but we made it out safely!  We made it as a group that negotiated our way out of a country that was not at peace right then.

 We travelled together to some of the states within Mexico, hiked Palenque and Montealban.  As we went, of course some of the members dropped off along the way. We wished each other well, and talked about how much fun it was.  We exchanged addresses with every one of them.  My mom, sister and I ended up taking a 36 hour train ride to Mexico City, on which I had a swollen tooth and gum that was so painful I could barely talk. But we met people on the train and talked, sang and danced with them the whole way. I will never forget this one woman who had everyone clapping their hands and singing as a group.  It was fun, and once again we communicated in whatever way we could, negotiating our way to make the most of the train ride.

 The whole trip was so fun and adventurous, I have never again had one like it.  We met interesting people from all over the world and travelled together, not having a pre-set plan in mind, i.e. where should we go tomorrow, where should we stay, where should we eat, etc.  We negotiated our way through three countries, some of it scary, and made it out without any fights, arguments, disagreements, etc. Think about how flexible we all had to be to make it happen and make it fun!   I listen to the news now because I like to be informed, but every time I do I think, "Will men ever learn to negotiate?"  I have lived it and negotiation works.

 


 

 

Nature in Poetic Words

Hello, I have decided to put some of my poems in my blog, since the last few entries were about nature.  I have always enjoyed nature and I wrote these particular poems after a trip to the mountains. My Mom and Grandmother used to love picnics, hiking and camping in the mountains. 

 

Mountains

 

The sun sinks low, stream rolls on:

The only sound: a running fawn

Ah!  What better a place to hide away

Sittin on a rock 'til the fading of day.

 

The Aspen trees, the whispering sound

Shadows creeping from sky to ground.

The mellow breeze now takes it's course

And sweeps me off with unthreatening force.

 

The day is coming to a close my friend

With but one feeling I hope to extend:

The very sensation of feeling free

Leaving no doubt, the mountains are the place for me.

 

Butterfly

 

With wings of varied colors;

So distinctly are yours seen

Printing an abstract aversion

Like the dressings of a queen.

 

With grace of a royal princess

So passionately you flit

Yet indifferent as to the flowers

Upon which you gently sit.

 

Such beauty is your own

Ne'er reflected, not by one.

With your freedom never hindered

May you someday reach the sun.

 

In Costa Rica near a butterfly preserve with my mom and sisters, Jacque & Crissy

In Costa Rica near a butterfly preserve with my mom and sisters, Jacque & Crissy

 My Mom and Grandmother also liked to take us on vacation to Mexico.  The following poem I wrote after a trip to the Caribbean. 

 

Playa Azul

 

The foam with it's ever-changing patterns,

White as a dove,

Waters my mouth as cotton candy,

Fluffy

 

Heavy, with flaming ripples,

Turquoise more intense than the chieftan's dressings,

Dance the waves swiftly,

Gracefully

 

Entrancing, with smooth and constant motion,

Blue as a mirror against the sky

Changes the color as a lake in the midst of night

Clear

 

With coral influence as scattered prints,

Deep as the mountains at midnight

Still, shimmering the reflection of the sun

Glistening

 

I hope you enjoy these entries. Thanks for reading my blog.

 

 

 

 

So What is our Legacy ?

 I was walking in the nature reserve mentioned in my last blog. I saw a beautiful sight !  It was a bird with a very large wing span, gliding on the wind currents. I wasn't sure what it was.  I knew it wasn't an Eagle because it wasn't big enough.  I wasn't sure if it was a Falcon or a Hawk.  (I asked someone later who was sure it was a hawk).  I have walked in this nature reserve for about three years and have never seen a bird of prey in this area.  This reserve is in the suburbs, but it is right at the foot of the mountains.  It has rabbits, chipmunks, birds (doves, sparrows, pigeons, hummingbirds, etc.) and lizards.  I believe the hawk was looking for his breakfast.

With Jesus Sanchez (L) and my brother Mike

With Jesus Sanchez (L) and my brother Mike

 I had the hawk with me for about a block and then it showed up again in the second reserve, a few blocks away.  It was a beautiful sight!  I couldn't figure out why I had never seen one in the three years I'd been walking this park.  Then, when I smelled the fires last evening, while sitting outside. I realized why it was down here, to get his breakfast.  There is a fire in California now and, although it is far away, the winds have brought the smell and smoke here.  With a fire that large there are so many animals that are displaced and/or killed.  The birds of prey have been building their nests for generations in these same trees and forests.  They have found the food for their young in the same places for generations.  The birds that have survived are flying East to find their food now because they have been displaced.  

There is an example of something similar that happened this week.  During the World Cup games in Brazil, the news reported that Brazilians are protesting because they have been displaced from their homes on the beaches and moved three hours from where they work and lived. This is a tough situation for anyone. 

Some people put themselves above nature but trees and animals are equally important to our planet. We need our trees, our birds and their prey to survive here on this planet.  They are as important to Earth's survival as we are.  In the last ten years Colorado, where I'm was born and raised, has had more forest fires than I ever remember.  Mesa Verde had over 1 million acres burn.  OVER 1 MILLION ACRES OF TREES!  I can't even imagine the size of that; I cried when I heard the news.  There isn't even a way to know how many animals and birds die in a fire that big, let alone trees that have been around for hundreds or thousands of years.  I'm not sure people stop and think of how much of our planet's nature we lose every time there is a fire. They are a part of the life cycle and they affect the whole universe, not only our planet.  How much carbon dioxide did the trees from 1 million acres give off?  How many birds of prey died, were displaced or lost their food source? And are now having to come into the city for food.

 Every generation before us has left a written history.  Will we have enough paper to leave ours?

One of my favorite places - Zion National Park, Utah

One of my favorite places - Zion National Park, Utah

 

Healthy Mind, Body and Spirit

There are a lot of ways to stay healthy as we get older.  I am independent and I want to stay that way. I have my own personal routines that I do to help me to stay healthy in body, mind and spirit.  For example:  I walk most days, some days not as much, some days more.  While I lived with my sister I didn’t have a car. I walked to the library twice a week and that was eight miles total.  Two other days a week I walked four miles to the store.  For two years I walked an average of 25 miles per week. It not only made me feel better physically, but it saved me mentally and emotionally, as well.  I walked through nature reserves most of the way and saw chipmunks, rabbits and birds.  While I was on these walks, I appreciate my spiritual nature as well as mother nature.

Zion National Park, Utah

Zion National Park, Utah

When I’m home evenings, while I watch TV or listen to music, I am stretching my arm and leg muscles most of the time.  I even stretch while I have my coffee in the morning ie.  stretching my neck, arms, legs and facial muscles. My friends do yoga, my sister walks her dog, my brother rides his bicycle to the harbor almost every day (approx. ten miles) then rides his bicycle home.  Sometimes my sister and I put on music and dance around the house for exercise and fun!

I’m not a health fanatic; I love to bake cookies, have a glass of wine, and I love my potato chips. Apart from these things, I do what I can to help myself feel better in body, mind and spirit. Sometimes when I put on my make-up in the mornings, I talk to myself to work out my problems.  This way I don’t go out and take my issues on other people.  This way I can show my better face to the world, they don’t have to deal with my problems because I’ve already worked them out.  Staying healthy is work but I want to stay independent. I work at it every day, I’m a work in progress...

With my sisters Crissy & Jacque & Cesar. We all wish him a speedy recovery.

With my sisters Crissy & Jacque & Cesar. We all wish him a speedy recovery.

Sharing Warmth, Love and Compassion

I feel very fortunate that I grew up with the following:  we had a loving mom and dad, the same house was in the family for 40 years, a grandmother that lived across the alley, and we had three complete meals a day.   With the average family now moving six times while the kids are still in school, I was more fortunate than I knew while growing up.

I have had people do good, loving deeds for me and now I try to pass on these positive actions to others who haven’t had as good fortune as I.  Sometimes my actions are passed on in small ways, like baking and sharing with my neighbors, volunteering for the Red Cross after a disaster or mentoring kids as a Junior Achievement advisor.  Sometimes it is as seemingly insignificant as talking to someone that needs to hear something positive.  I can tell it makes us both feel better.

 I think it’s great that my brother Mike has passed on his compassion and caring to the Sanchez family of young men, as he has done several times before.  It takes concern for those other than yourself and energy to do that for a family; you have to have the love in your heart enough to give to another full time.  Neither Mike nor I had kids in this lifetime, but we both pass on our warmth, love and compassion in as many ways as we can, and I want to tell him I think it’s cool!

I see sharing in many ways, from famous personalities giving back to their communities, to people I love sharing their warmth, love and compassion with me. These are example of people building good karma for themselves and this world. There is no such thing as too much good energy happening in this world. 

Knowing When to Lead and When to Follow

I'm still alive and well. I've had a little more time to look back on my life the past few years.  From the beginning, I've found a pattern in my life and it seems to be all about dancing.  Dancing makes me feel better in body, mind and spirit.  


I started dancing with my friend and my sister in our basement when I was very young.  Then my grandmother took me to a tap dance class all of one summer.  In eighth grade, I had a dance teacher that had danced with Fred Astaire and she taught us a step routine that was unequaled.  Then in high school, my boyfriend and I would spend hours practicing our dance routines in his basement.  We took those routines and danced out in public together: the robot, the hustle, etc. The summer before I went to college, I worked training as a dance instructor for Arthur Murray studio.  We would practice our dances at the discos with our instructor: the NY Swing, the Salsa, etc.  College was less about dancing for me since it was hard work, but I did attend a few dances there: a Sadie Hawkins and a Prom.


My mom and grandmother had taken us to Mexico, the Caribbean and Costa Rica since I was twelve, and we always danced there: at the hotels, the discos, etc. with the local boys. While working at my first job for a corporation, after college, I was dancing with a colleague at a sales meeting.  He said I was the best dancer he had ever danced with because I could follow.  I was so surprised because he was Italian and I knew he had danced a lot.  I am a woman and an Aries; this is a tough combination for me.  I am naturally a leader, bossy & avant garde.  As the years have gone by, I've realized the importance of my colleagues' comment.  Life is very much like dancing; sometimes you lead and sometimes you follow.  Like in dancing, in life the wisdom and maturity in knowing when to do either is the most important thing. Since my early corporate days, I've danced in every state from NYC to California.  I've even danced in Spain and Morocco.  In high school I danced in The Unsinkable Molly Brown. Now I think I am her.

At a club dancing with my sisters Chrissy & Jacque. 

At a club dancing with my sisters Chrissy & Jacque. 

Family and Friends

There are movies that talk about friendships; my personal favorite is ‘Sex and the City’.  The reason is that, in the show, the four women go through individual jobs, men, experiences, etc. and through it all, they still have each other.  I feel that way about my family and friends.  I am lucky to have five siblings, three of which I am in contact with often.  And I have about six friends who I’ve known for up to 40+ years.  There have been times when our lives have led us in different direction (kids, marriages, different cities, etc.), but when we need each other, we are there.

In the last several years my personal situation has been less than stable. During this time each one of my family members and friends has come through for me in some way or other. Although they know that I am not comfortable in the ‘needy’ role, they came through for me anyway.  Neither my family members nor my friends are like me. We all have different opinions on a lot of issues. We live in different areas but we still have each other, and this has gotten me through, even in bad economic times.

Each of us goes through our experiences individually. For example, nobody else knows how I feel when I wake up to another day without a job and feel my cynicism growing. As the day progresses and I hear from a friend or family member, I feel more secure and remember that I still have those people that I love, in my life. There are many varieties of tough times but for me family and friends have always gotten me through the tough cycles in my life.

L-R My mom (God rest her soul), myself, my sisters Jacque & Chrissy in Costa Rica.

L-R My mom (God rest her soul), myself, my sisters Jacque & Chrissy in Costa Rica.