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Monday, September 16, 2013

Leaping off Cliffs... Are you game?

I read a woman's blog today and under her byline was written.....Author, Blogger, Motivational Speaker.   I googled her and found that her field of concentration was...wait for it...Happiness.

Isn't that the best?  If you are going to speak or write about something wouldn't you chose the Happiest thing available?   And what if the happiest thing there was happened to be happiness?

Are we not happy because we aren't happy?  Could it be a choice?

OK, sometimes I have chosen to not be happy...

Anytime the conversation begins with, "You can't....."  fill in the blank with anything, anything at all.  Starting with, you can't park there, you can't stand here, you can't have that, you can't do that...My husband believes that I could move a mountain by sheer force of will if I am told "I can't."

When I have to say good-bye, which is why I gave up AOL.  "Good-bye"

When people underestimate me.  (on the other hand I love it when people underestimate me.)

That they swapped out Faith Hill for Carrie Underwood.

Anytime I call Sam's Club Discover.  If we fought a war and our only weapon was the automated system at Sam's Club Discover, the enemy would surrender without a whimper.

I don't like feeling fearful.  It is my struggle, my stumbling block...Fear keeps me from peace, it keeps me from having the kind of faith that fills us with the notion we can do anything.  

Being unhappy is a choice.  Often we lose sight of the fact that we have the agency to choose.  We can choose to be happy.  It's hard to be happy in the face of turmoil, strife or even habit, but it is completely possible.  I think of the book "The Hiding Place" and how they were able to find a blessing in the face of evil.  I admire that choice but I am also baffled by it.  How could anyone see lice as a blessing?  But they can see that the lice keeps the sadistic guards away because they are repulsed by bugs.  How were they able to discern that?  Because their attitude kept them in the light and they were able to see the positive side of a seemingly hopeless situation.  When you spend your time in the dark you aren't able to see solutions.  And all you can feel is negativity, failure, and fear.

So how do we do happy?   How do we retrain ourselves when we are so entrenched in fear, or in the mindset that we cannot succeed?  Is there a map that leads us to faith and then finding happiness? 

I am going to do yoga

Have you ever thought to yourself, my prayers will be answered, but maybe not how I have envisioned.  Are there things you really want, but feel you don't deserve them.  Do you set yourself up for disappointment before you have even tried?  Do you say, I am just being realistic, the worst usually happens.  Is it realistic to assume we will fail, or fall short?  Do we limit God?  Wow, aren't you glad George Washington didn't feel that way?  Or the Wright Brothers?  How about Henry Ford who changed the face of industrialism, or Steve Jobs?   From the television to the microwave to the integrated circuit, which is how I am writing this blog...none of those inventors thought they would fail.  What is the difference between me and the guy who invented the vacuum cleaner?  He saw a machine that blew the dust off of things and thought it would be better if it sucked up the dust instead.  So with that idea he invented the vacuum cleaner.  What is the difference between us?  He acted on his good idea.  I haven't.

That incredible quote from Marianne Williamson...remember it?  It is brilliant,

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.

Seriously, isn't that brilliant?  It begs the question, why are we willing to be content with so little?  I was throwing the word "deserve" around a lot.  Either I thought I deserved more or less than what was occurring.  Now with some introspection, I hope I never get what I deserve, I want rather receive what a loving God is anxious to give me.  Most folks settle, they make safe choices that only allow half the life experience.  Maybe they know a book is in them, or a sonnet, or an opera.  But they are afraid to fail...afraid they will look foolish.  But how will you look to yourself?   And how do you explain to God you refused the gifts He was offering you?

I am going to get a chicken coop just like this

Want to feel alive?  Leap off a cliff.  

You know the woman who wrote the blog that started the idea for this post?  I sent her a friend request on facebook, assured her I wasn't a stalker and then asked if I could talk to her.  She wrote back and sent her cell number and we have a phone appointment tomorrow morning.  I want to know as much about being happy from her that 20 minutes can give me.  

I am tired of being afraid.

I am leaping off cliffs.  

There is a life out there that I want to live.  It isn't the one I have lived in my head lately...I have been given amazing blessings, incredible family and friends and one opportunity after another.  But I have been playing small and minimizing my life.  I have been assuming I don't deserve all the great things I have so there is no reason to fight to keep them.   And I have stopped dreaming.  After all, I am older, too old to start a new career, and certainly too old to make it a success.  You know that adage....It would take a miracle.  Well, miracles don't occur when your butt is chilling at the beach.  It takes a crisis or a disaster to produce a miracle.  I qualify on that front.

I spoke to a woman the other day who is getting married soon who just happens to be 60.  She is happy, really happy, because she is leaping off cliffs.

I have a friend who introduced me to the concept of leaping off cliffs years and years ago.  She is 30 years my senior and spent all of her time lighting fires under people.  She subsidized several tennis players to give them a chance to make it.  She was my mentor reminding me, and not always in the kindest way, that I was more than I thought and I could do anything.  Together we built a wetlands in my front yard.  Completely permitted by the state, it was an extraordinarily difficult experience.  Because it had not been done before I had no hope we could do it.  But Beth had no doubt we would do it.  No surprise, we did it.  Our wetlands led to a PBS documentary on water conservation that went all over the country.  She was leaping off cliffs and pulled me with her.  

Our country has gone through a horrific financial malaise.  Millions of people have lost their entire life savings.....and a huge proportion of them are my age.  Unemployable because we aren't thirty.  Maybe a few aches and pains....maybe poor eyesight, a little memory loss....a nap would be nice.  How easy it is to convince yourself you have earned the right to quit, all the evidence is there.  Giving up is easy in the face of 90 million people out of work.  But my husband and I couldn't give up... we are starting over, with a brand new business. 

We are leaping off cliffs.

And I want a greenhouse.... 

This was this ugly voice in my head, "Who are you to start a business?  What are you thinking ?  Just take your lumps, accept the tragedy of financial ruin, sell everything, get an apartment and a minimum wage job.  Just exist."  Those thoughts did not give me peace and giving up gave me huge anxiety.  Would I spend the rest of my wondering if we could have made it work if we had just tried?  No...I....will....not. 

Because I am leaping off cliffs.  

We are going to be a success, I don't want to play small.   Remember that great line from Apollo 13?  The one where everyone is discouraged thinking the Astronauts were doomed?

NASA Director: This could be the worst disaster NASA's ever faced.
Gene Kranz: With all due respect, sir, I believe this is gonna be our finest hour.

I am going to let my light shine, just like Marianne said.  Because when I do, I give everyone permission to start over if they have to.  Or write a book, give a speech, start an orphanage, design dresses, invent something, run a marathon, be a teacher, go back to college, fight cancer, survive divorce.....or start a business when all of your friends are retiring.  This is a time for courage, not worry.

Let's leap off a cliff.  OK?

And I want bees and sell honey

Monday, September 2, 2013

Stevie Wonder, James Taylor, Stevie Nicks, Wendy Cleverly and me.

So today is my birthday, I never thought I would be 59....until I turned 58 and then it seemed like a very good goal.  The good thing about getting older are all the people getting older with me.  Did I ever think Stevie Wonder would be over 60?  Or James Taylor?  Forget Stevie Nicks getting older, I can't bear that.  She will always be that beautiful girl twirling around on stage in a long black skirt.  She epitomizes my youth, a time when everything was possible, and I could wear belts with great confidence.

The fact that the Rolling Stones got old is not a shock, they always looked old, even when they were young.  Now they look.....older.  But I am thrilled they keep performing.  I hope they do until they just can't anymore.  When my friends start retiring I get nervous....  Retire?  Yikes...So Mick and the guys are just going to have to keep singing.  And I am glad....

I have been blessed to basically start over.  After my children really didn't need me the same way I was eager to explore other purposes for myself.  I looked ahead at going to lunch, maybe learning to crochet or make pottery.  I thought I could go back to college, or learn a language.  But necessity prevailed and I joined my husband in a catering business ( that seemed improbable in the beginning, but now seems perfect.  I will be the first to admit I did not want to, it seemed too complicated and honestly I thought I was just too old.  I was not sure I wanted to work that hard.  As a friend said to me, "I used to cater, but then I quit to do something easier, now I lay asphalt."  I have watched our life take a new shape and I stopped fighting it.  It's scary when we don't have work and exhausting when we do.  But it will be a great story someday, hell, its a great story now!

We just won't give up.

James Taylor was the voice of my high school years, with my friend Roxane we listened to his albums and wondered what Carly Simon had we didn't.  He was enigmatic.  And I think he still is.  He has aged perfectly, in great shape, bald with wrinkles.  It feels dignified...

I have to put Stevie Wonder together with Wendy Cleverly.  Wendy was my dear friend, mentor, and beautiful, beautiful girl.  She was the DJ at the Hilton and got all the attention from the guys you could imagine.  It was fun tagging along with some really famous people she attracted.  She played music in the Hilton Disco (I know it was a long, long time ago) for 20 minutes while the live band took a break. So for 40 minutes we were on our own.  We could go to other clubs or stay there and dance.  Wendy is a great dancer and won every contest.  When she was DJing I always requested the same songs, Stevie Wonder and that song from Car Wash.  She finally got the album for me so I would stop bugging her to play it.  We did the hustle to "I will survive"  and went to bed really late.  I had to be up early every day because I played tennis about 3 hours a day and then I worked at a racquet club.  I went to every tennis court to play and sometimes all in one day.  We would go to the Desert Inn (no longer there) and then to the Frontier (no longer there) back to the Tropicana because they had indoor courts (no longer there) stopped by the MGM, now Bally's and then back to our home courts at Ceasar's.  I met lots of very famous people and found out right away they mostly all had clay feet.  I played tennis with Bill Cosby every time he came to town, which was a lot back then.  He loved to make me run from one side of the court to the other.  His entourage assumed he was a great player...he could be....challenging.  And one of my best hitting partners was a woman named Mirha who was a topless dancer in the Folies.   The only person left in my life from that time is Wendy.  I am happy to say she has been married for 33 years and has 3 beautiful children and 2 grandchildren.  She still looks like the disco queen she was.  Oh did I mention she was the card girl for the Ali fight?  That is a very big deal....

As for me I started over and finally got a real job.  I gave up scooping balls for tennis pros and coming in at four.  About a year after finding a real job I married the love of my life who still loves me.  We have 4 beautiful children...all of this is a shock to me.  Talk about a long shot, although Raymond comes from pretty stable people, my mother was married 7 times.  Hardly the kind of stuff long term marriages are made from.  But that has been the theme of my life....improbable situations with surprising results.

This isn't an epitaph, I have a lot of things to do yet, but I wanted to look back at my life and check out the road I have already traveled.  For everything I wish I had done, I did 10 things I never thought I would.  One thing for sure, music has been the background to my life.  I was thinking about changing my theme song, which is "Feelin' Alright"  by Joe Cocker, but I couldn't find one I liked as well.
I am optimistic about our future, grateful I feel good, happy to have challenges to keep us young, and glad for all the family and friends who will be traveling this part of the road with me.

Happy Birthday to me!!!