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Saturday, May 31, 2014

Notice to Mattress salespeople

Notice to mattress salespeople - stop.

Stop trying to sell a mattress to me by describing the pounds of human cells, sweat and other bodily droppings that are imbedded (imbedded! HA!) in my mattress.  I heard a commercial this morning that basically described any mattress as a toxic dump.  Your scare tactics won't work, instead I am going to keep my mattress a bit longer and just ask my exterminator to spray it.

And while I am at it, the new commercial for. "I've fallen and can't get up" sounds more like water boarding than someone at the bottom of the stairs.  Please stop.

How about the folks who call selling medical supplies pretending like they work with your doctor.  "it's time to reorder, what would you like?"  One caller made a terrible mistake when he suggested I didn't want my husband to stay healthy since I wasn't buying his particular medical line of love.  The last person who threatened me that way dealt with impotence and baldness after a small but reliable curse I place on people who displease me.   We had an understanding before he hung up that he would never call again.

How about the calls that sound like they are from your credit card company, but are really just folks looking to consolidate your debt?  They make it sound like you missed a payment?  Mistake

And while I am on the subject, never ever respond to anyone calling me about carpet cleaning.  They offer a great deal, come to your home and tell you they cannot possibly clean your hideous carpet without using the same formula Superman drinks every morning.  Which by the way is far and above the quoted price.  No matter not ever allow them to clean your carpet, I don't care if all of your furniture is outside and you have a party the next day....get them out of your house and find someone who isn't using fraud as a marketing tool.  Be strong!!

Ever get your oil changed only to get a list of possible problems that claim would keep you from getting your children to soccer practice safely?  Aren't you a better mother than that?  And then 60 minutes shows up....fabulous.

There is a solution....find someone with a personal reference.  Ask your friends for referrals and then take a minute to call and ask about their experience.  Find someone who has used their exterminator for years, the same carpet cleaner, the same mechanic, the same appliance repairman the same caterer, the same hairdresser and stockbroker.  Buyer beware means it's on you.  There are lots of people out there who do a great job.  Repairmen who get a charge (ha!) out of fixing your stuff. It's like a puzzle to them...they love it, and they know how much their time is worth.  There are air conditioning guys who are thrilled to turn on a newly repaired unit and give you relief, my carpet guy (All American Carpet Cleanres) is the happiest man I have ever met.  When I get new carpet - which I desperately need - he is going to miss me.  We have a great relationship because he has singlehandedly gotten my carpet through years longer than it should have.  We have shared salsa recipes and family stories.  Mark Andrews ( who took all the pictures for my website and is simply amazing.  Also, I love my butcher because he is thrilled to find enough chicken for me when we put an event together.  Melissa who lovingly grooms my dogs so well that they wag their tails when we arrive at Love-A-Pup!!

Think of all the people who make your life work....reward them with referrals and your thanks.  I am not saying you shouldn't learn to do things for yourself, right now my husband is changing my daughter's brakes, but don't think you have to do everything yourself.  I heard a man admit he hired a handyman to tackle a list a mile and a year long that his wife had waved in front of his face for months.  The squeaky door, the leaky faucet, the broken window, the door latch, the fan that needed to be installed and some shelves that needed to be hung.  All so annoying!!  When his wife came home to an all fixed house she was elated!!  Weeks later he confessed to her he had hired it out.  And guess what?  She was furious!  She felt he should have fixed everything himself and he felt nothing but relief and peace that it was done.  Isn't that what keeps us from some projects?  We think we can do it, and either we can't or don't have time and it never gets done.

So, bless my heart, I am opening the cage, fly my friends, fly!!  Hire someone you trust, someone that you will have to pay, but deserve the pay for a job well done.  Lets get the economy going!!

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Untangling the mysteries of life...

Ever feel this fearless?

I watched an amazing movie this afternoon.  Amazing movies inspire me to do great things.  The movie evoked emotions in me that made me feel powerful.  When I get the feeling I can do anything, over come any obstacle, climb every mountain I have to write it down.

Unfortunately, my default emotion seems to be a bit opposite of "can do." and more like, "that would be great  but here are a million reasons why I can't"

I am kind of living my life backwards.  Instead of starting a business, a hard business, when I was young, eager and really healthy.  I am starting a business as an-almost-senior-citizen with a bad knee and a worse attitude.  Instead of saying, "so what?" I say, "why?"

Why am I doing this?  Why?

The answer to that is simple, we are unemployable-recession-victim-folks with no other options.

So in the words of my uncle when I was afraid to give the eulogy at my mother's funeral..."Donna, get on out there, you are made of better stuff."  Or as my Aunt would say..."Donna get out the butt-kicking machine and get it done."  Tough folks.

The movie I watched today was called "Freedom Writers".  As a person in love with words it really struck a cord.  Their stories told in their words gave them freedom.  They thought no one understood their lives on the streets with drugs and gangs until one teacher showed them a better way.  First she taught them about the holocaust and the biggest gang in the world, and how it started.  The pattern was the same...and they began to see, little by little that other people had problems, terrible problems.  But  they still prevailed.  And so could they, and they did.

Sometimes we see our problems as obstacles we cannot get around.  We need to jump on top of those problems and look around.  From that vantage point we can see what others are going through.

We can:

1.) See we are not alone, the negative voices in your head will always tell you, it is just you - you are the only one with this problem.  For years I thought we were the only ones in the country with money problems.  That's right, all those commercials on TV about mortgage problems were made just for me.  All the self help books in the library?  That's right, written just for me.  No one else needed them.  Being alone with failure is a bad place to be.

2.) See how other people handle their problems.  There aren't a lot of different solutions to problems, it's usually pretty simple...we need to see ones that will help us.

3.) Be an example of success... to show folks not to give up.

For four years I was in charge of about 160 women in my ward (parish, local church, ashram).  It was my stewardship to give them hope and encouragement through illness, marital problems, children problems and financial problems.  I found most situations fell in among those four areas.  I sat with them as they cried and told me there was no hope, no way out, no solution....but if I could get their attention, have them hold their fear at bay.....some could see solutions.  Doors would open, faith once tried was strengthened, and that problem became a strong place in their life going forward.  Facing fear straight on is not a cliche.  I wanted them to grab fear by the lapels.  If they let fear rule their lives, they stayed in the same place, feeling the same negative emotions over and over again.  You have to let go of the side of life's pool and just swim.  It isn't easy to let go... I know because I was not willing to let go for a long, long time.  Going through my head was the well rehearsed negative speak I was great at.

You can't do it

You are too old

What makes you think you know enough to do that?  Who would ever hire you?

Just give up.....don't even try.

A friend would tell me if the voices in your head give you peace then it is truth...If the voices make you anxious or afraid, then it isn't true, it is just a thought and thoughts aren't real.  None of those thoughts ever gave me peace, so I replaced all of them with these;

I can do it.

Since I am older I will be strengthened.  

If I don't know then I will find the solution.

The Lord (universe, higher power) wants me to be a success.  Think about that, the Lord, universe, higher power wants you to be a success!!

And you know what?  I started to feel peace.

There is a dove on my lanai who sits on her eggs no matter what.  She is driven by some intangible instinct to hatch those eggs.   We have had 100 degree heat, 70 mile an hour winds, rain with a few lovely days.  And yet she remains.  There is no doubt about what she is doing to me or to her.  I have not one time wondered if she would still be there.  I know she will,  it has never occurred to me she would give up and fly off and leave those eggs unprotected.  For her failure is not an option.  She puts her obvious fear of humans completely aside to sit on those eggs.  I wondered, "has she ever done this before?  And if so how does she know what to do?"  But she has figured it out and does after day.  And here is her success...

I took a lesson from this sweet bird about overcoming obstacles.

You may have never done it before, so what, do it!

Make a good plan and stay with it....Go BIG!!!

Trust your instincts, trust the light that is in you.

Don't be matter how big the dragon (or the human) don't be afraid.

 Had it not been for my time with the women in my ward I never would have been able to see my own insecurities and fears.  I had to confront them in order to start a path to joy.  And they showed me how.  

However it has not been easy.  My default mindspeak is..."give up, sit by the side of the wagon and let the wolves eat you"  and that would be easier.  But growth isn't easy, don't they call it growing pains?

I am living proof that almost-senior-citizens still have growing pains.

Fear be damned....full speed ahead!!

Monday, May 19, 2014

The mistakes bloggers make

Ray Ray's bouquets for Kelly Andrews

I just spent an hour going from blog to blog.  I believe in the high tech world it is called, "Blog hopping."  And ingenious phrase meant to distract you from what you are really doing....which is laboriously going from blog to blog trying to figure out what others are doing that is so compelling causing them to have thousands of followers. Not that I have to have thousands of followers.  I just want to improve what I am doing.

I read "blog mistakes 1-5"  followed by "blog mistakes 6-10".  Nuts....

I found I make every mistake listed.  Including not having a niche.  The logic from that is any readers I may have don't know what to expect from me.  Which immediately begged the question, people are expecting something from me?  Who knew?  Is there an implied contract when you write a blog for some kind of expectation?

Oh my, another pressure for an already packed Monday.

And evidently monkey brain writing is a bad thing.  (Monkey Brain - inability to focus on what you should be doing and indulging on every shiny object that catches your eye).  That's what I do...I am the dog on "Up".  He carries on a conversation and right in the middle he jerks his head around and says, "squirrel!"

I read so many blogs that are labeled, "humorous".  I didn't realize how important labels were.
I read blogs by smart people and a few loons.  I read political blogs, cooking blogs and designing blogs.
One thing I did notice is I rarely pay attention to the ads on the side of the blogs.  Unfortunately I did on one blog.  After reading the post I trusted her, sort of like meeting a new friend.  To support her, I clicked on one of the ads on her page.  Sort of like buying wrapping paper from your friend's child for the school fundraiser.  And guess what?  It was that survey stuff, the quote stuff, the "we will pay you money if you respond stuff"  I foolishly clicked on send.  My name is now in the inbox of every insurance, diabetes and heartburn salesman in America and I will be unsubscribing for days.  I just fielded the first call about the quality of my septic tank.  Oh, my....this might be a day where the phone accidentally falls off the hook.  

Bloggers please refrain from ads with booby traps...we don't like that.  

However not all is lost,  I did come away with some good ideas from my hopping.  Unfortunately I immediately felt I needed to be based in Silicon Valley to implement them.  My background needs to be lighter, information on "about me" should be better.  My issues with the computer are epic and it would be so much easier to let someone else fix it, twist it, or just figure it out. I am a great deal like my grandmother who always said, "I am not afraid of work, I can lay down right next to it and go to sleep."  I admit I am a classic underachiever who has long accepted the fact I need a staff.  People I can happily order about.  People who will solve all my little problems, do the heavy lifting and dust when necessary. 

I day dream about my imaginary staff.  They (that's right, they -I have a substantial number of people on my staff) show up with rakes and shovels when I am doing yard work I don't want to finish with one being an expert with sprinklers.

I imagine they appear with brooms, mops and dust cloths when I don't really want to clean.  My staff installed a new oven and did a lot of ironing, cleaned out my closet and brought in new clothes for my  new size that was achieved by my imaginary staff of nutritionists and personal trainers.

An imaginary masseuse has arrived with a table and oils in hand and gotten that kink right out of my neck.  

My imaginary staff  brought in beautiful wooden shutters for my upstairs windows, new carpet and a whole new paint job for my home.  And a tag along siding guy who fixed the missing piece of siding on my house.

There is nothing wrong with a healthy imagination, no matter how far fetched.  After all William Arthur Ward said, "If you can imagine it, you can achieve it: if you can dream it, you can become it."

Now I am imagining a staff of social media experts who can swoop in and make the necessary changes to the blog and my website.

One change I can't make is removing my monkey brain...I admit it, I follow shiny objects.  If something is interesting to me I want the latitude to write about parameters not a niche.  

One of the best things that has occurred from my blog came quite unexpectedly.  Last week I wrote a personally cathartic piece about my mothers. At the end I put in a line I didn't even think about.  Gratitude gives forgiveness a place to grow.  Right after I put the blog out my good friend and neighbor, Claudia, added that little phrase to a picture and put it on my facebook page.  It came out like this...

An amazing gift because I love everything about this picture.  Especially that the flower is blooming right where it is planted, against all possible odds, just like all of us.  

So here's to a day of blooming my friends.  No matter the matter the obstacles.  Go and be the person you want to be.

Thank you Claudia for the picture, and thank you God for the words.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Life Before Oprah Wasn't Easy

As a mom I know that every woman holds her newborn and utters the same prayer, hope or wish.
"Make me better than I am, help me do a good job, bless this baby in spite of me."

The relationship a mother has with her children can be a complicated one, mine is more a science project.  I had three mothers.

The woman who gave birth to me - Opal Leigh Jones

The woman who adopted me - Madeline Brown Beckman

The woman who raised me - Jerry Osborne Beckman

Seemingly, these women have nothing in common with each other.  All three    different places with different lives.  Yet they are all connected through the eternities by one person, me, Donna Lynn Beckman Tagliaferri.  I find that fascinating, and very mysterious.  All three remain an enigma to me, I Only know what was whispered to me by a random cousin, aunt or family friend.  No one with real knowledge ever sat down with me and explained what in the world was going on.

My young life was "Before Oprah", a time we didn't talk about anything that might be uncomfortable.  Oprah opened up the flood gates to make therapists rich all across the country.  Unless, of course,  you still didn't have the courage to ask hard things, or have relatives with the courage to tell the truth.

I don't know much about my birth mother, Opal Leigh.  In fact until my father died I didn't even know her name.  But in his private papers I found my original birth certificate, and there was her name, Opal Leigh Jones.  I was thrilled to see such a great Texas name because all through my life I lacked identity, but I knew I was from Texas, so that was my identity.  In fact I told my children they were half Italian and half Texan. Looking at her name erased all doubt in my mind about where my people came from.  The only information I gleaned from the birth certificate was she had given me a name.....Patti Jones.  Think of a very young woman doing her best naming me after a popular singer of her day, Patti Page.  It is so sweet and so sad at the same time.   I had been told (by the whisperers) she was 16.  The whisperers also said a family friend had wanted to adopt me.  This friend financially supported Opal through her entire pregnancy but decided they had become too close.  She felt their close relationship could be problematic for a closed adoption, so she told my parents about me.  The one person who really knew Opal never told me anything about her.  Life before Oprah was hard on secrets.  The whisperers told me my father was a professional golfer, they met at the Houston Open and I was born in the Houston Methodist Hospital.  But none of that ever came with any proof.  I have never looked for my biological parents, and to my knowledge they have never looked for me.

Then there was Madeline Brown.  An absolutely beautiful woman who hunted and fished better than the men.  She was the life of the party and could drink anyone under the table.  I belonged to her, she was my mother and despite her problems I never wondered if she loved me.  Drugs and alcohol destroyed my parents marriage.  I still remember their horrible fights right in front of me.  My father at one end of the kitchen Madeline at the other....screaming at each other.  And then one day Madeline packed up all my things and took me to Alaska where her aunt had a business.  She was going to start over I guess, but it didn't last very long.  The whisperers told me her addictions made taking care of me impossible so she traded me to my father for cash.  After I went back to Texas she visited one time that I can remember.  We went to dinner and then she took me to Louisiana to see her family.  That wasn't part of the visit agreement so all hell broke loose when she brought me back.  I never saw her again, my father never talked about her.  Before Oprah you never talked about uncomfortable things.  I wasn't healthy to bring up "such things".  Then one day when I was 8, my dad told me in a very controlled voice that my mother had died and we would never speak of her again.  I spent the next 10 years looking for her because I was never convinced she was really gone.  I didn't know where she died, I still don't.  My frustration was acute because I didnt have anyone to ask.  I saw my grandmother one time while I was high school and I met up with my Aunt Pee Wee after I was married (she was best friends with the woman who took care of Opal Leigh - that's how I ended up with Madeline)  She told me my father had forbid any contact with their family.  I don't know why I didn't ask anything at our brief lunch, but I didn't.  I never found out anything about anything.

Bless our hearts, we had no idea how to handle real family problems before Oprah.

Which brings me to Jerry.  When my father brought me back from Alaska there was a woman in my house.  I thought she was the housekeeper, but my father kissed her when he left for work with no introductions at all.  I figured out right away she wasn't the housekeeper.  I looked at her and she
looked at me and the most complicated and strange mother daughter relationship was born.  She was married to my dad, she wasn't necessarily a step mother.  I never really felt like she was my mother, at least not what I thought a mother and daughter relationship should be like.  I didn't know until I was grown how damaged she was, her past made her incapable of being a mom.  Her father died during the depression and her mother was never able to take care of her so she was raised by aunts.  Good Christian women who loved her, but weren't her mother.  Her brother was taken by the other side of the family, splitting them up.  They didn't reconsile until they were in their fifties.  She had been married 6 times before she met my father and never had children.  Our relationship was doomed before it could even occur.   Oprah never would have allowed this. But since she wasn't around it did occurr until I was about 19.   I was tired of being afraid, so I changed my life, went to college, got married and started my own family.  I reinvented myself, but still struggled with fear, what am I saying I still struggle with fear.  It wasn't until I had children of my own that I realized how hard it is to raise them. Jerry had reasons for treating me as she did, but that doesn't make it easier. 

It is true I didn't have a normal pattern for mothering, but all three moms gave me something

Opal gave me life.

Madeline gave me the insight to not drink or use drugs...I saw how it destroyed a very beautiful woman.

And Jerry gave me the ability to take on hard things and do your best no matter how hard it might be.

Against all possible odds the relationship I have with my children is pretty normal.  And I am so grateful for that....

Who knows?  Maybe my moms have been watching over me, helping me break the patterns that could have continued on.  I am grateful for that....

Gratitude gives forgiveness a place to grow, and that is where I want to be.  Thanks Oprah....

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

We Ain't What We Should Be, We Ain't What We Gonna Be, But At Least We Ain't What We Was

Beauty and the Beast, Frankenstein, Phantom of the Opera, Hunchback of Notre Dame, and every Disney story with a frog in it.  All where the character is perceived one way but is very different on the inside.  And all they want is for their "inside" to be seen and understood.

So today all you hunchbacks, Phantoms and frogs rejoice!  I am freeing all of you to embrace who you are and come out from behind the shadows, take the arrows in the back, and be who you are.

This epiphany comes from a feeling that I have to gloss over who I really am in an effort to reach a more diverse audience.  As soon as you reveal a belief, a political view or a religion you are assigned a certain seat in the room.  You cannot get up from that seat nor are you allowed to change seats, and I find that a little scary.  Will people find out who I am, measure me and find me wanting?  Will they ever read my writing again because they find out?  I love people who are just themselves and are secure in order to defy the labels society attaches.

Oxymorons?  I live for them.  Jumbo Shrimp, Gay Republicans, Skateboarding nuns, Feminist-militant mothers of 12, and the Conservative black caucus.  And me...I am a conservative Christian Mormon.

Are you reading this and making judgements about what I "must" be like?

Not so fast....

I am more zen than Phil Jackson
I have more soul than Aretha
I am "greener" than the green people as we built the first residential wetlands in Nevada (or almost anywhere else) right in our front yard.  Every ounce of water from our home, grey and black, goes through a pvc pipe to a series of rocks, gravel and plants.  When it comes out on the other end to a fifty gallon holding tank, it isn't drinkable, but it so clear...not one environmentalist we contacted had any interest in the amazing thing we did...which was to clean water with a system no more complicated than a science project.
My parents and grandparents had a full on casino in their home in Texas in the 50's and 60's.
My mother was married 7 times.
My husband ran a hotel and casino for 25 years

Did you see that coming?

Stereotypes are not fun, they aren't even clever, it's like opening a clear package, no surprises.  It is so much more fun to find that people have texture and layers, they have different viewpoints and
feelings.  Not every feminist is pro choice, not every poet is moody, and not every football fan is a guy (my dad was also a bookie, I spent weekends writing down scores for every football game on TV - this was old school technology) I am a fan.

Why would anyone surround themselves with people who agree with all of your  political views?  Or philosophical ideas.  So boring.  Don't you love a discourse of ideas?  Not like on TV, that is staged warfare meant to make you run into the dark American night, but a real exchange of ideas that educates and not denigrate.   People have reasons for their views...One of my stepmother's friends died from a botched abortion, because of that she was very pro choice.  My father was a staunch democrat who loved to hunt...he would never let anyone separate him from his guns.  Or any candidate.

Yeah stereotypes are boring....stop thinking folks won't like you because of what you believe, unless of course you are wearing a hood, in that case no one will like you.  And that's a hood, not a hoody.

Just a few other things about conservative me,
I don't hate poor people in fact, I volunteer every week and I give to a fund every month specifically designed to help those in my neighborhood.
I am not a homophobe,
I stand in judgement of no one - even those women who wear white shoes before Easter - or even just white shoes.
I believe woman should have the right to vote (that was a discussion the other day when a conservative Christian mentioned women and voting and they were wondering if conservative Christians thought women shouldn't vote)
I think there is a lot of good in Obamacare, and if everyone had participated in the discussion we might have a really good health care act.  But NEITHER side was interested in that.
I do not think the world was created in 6 - 24 hour days.  I think it took as long as it took, as God is the scientist, and after each creative period it was called a day.  Hey rocks took longer than plants, right?  When I look in the face of a baby, witness the body heal and just look up into the heavens I believe a higher being created us all. And that is just fine, it doesn't make me a member of the flat earth society.

Although my church has taken the high road, I think the Book of Mormon musical is a mockery.  When I saw the opening number on the Tony awards of Mormon missionaries in white short sleeve shirts with name tags on,and listened to the words of the song, I cried and then I got really, really mad.  My daughter and 2 sons served missions, I know how hard it was for them.  The musical is mockery and I will never understand how that is entertainment.  Our president was ready to think an Ambassador was murdered over a stupid video...but "musical of the year" mocking an entire group of people is OK?  My church took out advertisements in the playbill that said, "now that you have seen the musical, read the book"  I didn't find the turn off to that high road.

And my sister-in-law asked me why Mormons couldn't eat chocolate on Sundays.


But the best part is she asked me instead of just believing something odd.  My mother didn't do that, she believed Mormons ravaged virgins in the temple.  I can't even make a joke out of that.

People are different and they are fascinating.  Don't you want to get in a room with an Amish family and ask them how they can be so forgiving?  Don't you want to know how Mother Theresa could work in India all those years under such terrible circumstances?  Aren't you curious what Jehovah Witnesses believe in?  Have you ever tracked game with a native American?  I have, and it was life altering.  The love and respect this friend had toward the animals and plants was inspiring.  I loved
attending a Jewish Seder, nothing is happier than a Sunday in a black Baptist Church....and the orchid club!  Have you seen the face of an orchid club member who finally got a Dendrobian to flower?

When I hear political pundits on TV spew the word liberal, or let the word conservative come out of
their mouths as though it was rotten food, I wonder.... how foolish can they be?  Conservatives want 
to starve children?  Liberals want abortion at 9 months?  The pundits just want to keep you mad and worked up...No.  They want us to hate each other and think the very worst.  So many times people have said to me, "You aren't like any Mormon I have ever met"  When they are really saying, I have never really met a Mormon and you aren't what I thought Mormons would be like.  I say the same thing to them every time.  I point to myself and say, "This is what Mormons look like."  The inspirational thoughts I have at my desk are from everywhere.  Erma Bombeck to Marianne Williamson, Buddha to Groucho Marx...people are wise, they are clever and smart.

Good is good wherever you find it, truth is truth wherever you find it, beauty is beauty wherever you find it...if we have eyes to see it, that is.

These are words from a heartwarming scene in Designing Women a million years ago.  Miss Minnie, a woman dying in the same hospital where Charlene is having a baby.  Miss Minnie was a 100 years old and she spoke eloquently of her life and the 20th Century.  There was one thing she said that stayed with me all this time.

We Ain't What We Should Be,
We Ain't What We Gonna Be,
But At Least, We Ain't What We Was