Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Some Cool Stuff


I have a friend, Bonnie. A fantastic artist. Actually, we've never met but we've spoken on the phone. I have at least a dozen friends like that - never met 'em but we click and I adore them. Anyhow, my artist friend came to me and my business partner a few years ago with a concept that we LOVED but couldn't produce for her at the time. Well, it's out there now and I think it's great. If you know someone in the hospital right now or who frequents the hospital due to some chronic condition(s), these cards are not only something that can brighten up their day but they make it easier to communicate when talking just isn't something they are up to. Check these out! I am so proud of Bonnie for getting this done. It's awesome. I already ordered mine.

Last night, I was watching a challenge initiated by a business coach - Andrew Morrison who does Small Business Boot Camp. For 16 weeks, he's got 12 business owners striving to get their businesses to a profit level they've never achieved before. In the meanwhile, he's going to take his new Internet TV show and by the end, have something he can pitch to major networks as a new reality show. So last night he recommended a site called http://www.ning.com/. This is where you can create your own social network. I thought that was pretty cool. His thought, though, was this is one way to get all your "team" together in one place because often the people helping us build our businesses are scattered across the country, maybe around the world. Interesting concept. But if you feel like having a special place for your special group, you might want to check this out.

So the incident with Son made this website stand out for me. Actually, this woman is in my new business networking group. So I saw her profile and saw her site and I loved this. Though I don't know yet if I'd do it because I'm always concerned about skin issues. My kids have a little of my eczema. So sorry. It's called SafetyTat. "Get the tat that brings them back!" I really love this though. Very creative.


One of my favorite magazines is Domino. That, along with Real Simple, is just such a fun magazine that marries design with organization so I can spend hours with one magazine if I cared to. This month's Domino had this interesting little cutting board that might not make the average person's heart leap, but you see I live with people who can't seem to put things in the trash even when it's right next to them and empty. Cartons are opened and left on the counter. Mr. T's coffee-making habits leave clues even a blind detective could pick up. It drives me nuts to come home and have to throw trash INTO the trash can; wipe up spills; sweep up crumbs. So this flexible cutting board made me stop and go, "Ahhh!" It's called a Chop Keeper and you can chop on it and then bend it to pour the contents wherever you like. It even has sides! It says you get 3 for about $13 so you can be sure I'm ordering this.

Now if you have disposable income - very disposable - you may like these convertible heels I read about in Daily Candy. Camileon heels. They turn from 3" to 1 1/2" in a snap! Now THAT is cool. It's also $300 but it's at least 2 pairs of shoes in one! OK, so I won't be buying them because my kids are 2 pairs of shoes in a month - each. But maybe, one day, when I'm old and gray and can spend my money on me again. Just maybe.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Let the Decorating Begin!

One of these days I'm going to have to find myself a design class to audit. Maybe a class on color theory. Something. Just to immerse myself in it for a bit once again. Nothing for credit or a degree because I don't want it. I just love color and design and art. It's been with me as long as writing has. Just can't get enough of it.

Having a relatively empty house has given the designer in me so much happiness but it has also shown me just how limited I really am in my way of thinking about how to make things work. It's taken me a while to figure out some of the problems we have with the rooms but I am happy with the resolutions so far - on paper. How they will play out in real life is another thing.

But what's good so far is the reassurance that Mr. T and I didn't just marry each other. Our tastes married as well. Having similar taste is really helpful when you have to live with a husband - and furniture - for a really long time.

I've been furniture shopping for the living room for the past few weeks. Mr. T has been working pretty much non-stop so I've been happy to make my plan on my own and figure out what I wanted to see in the room. Some men don't like to be bothered with these trivialities and tell you to just pick what you want. Mine is involved with every detail of just about every thing. So the key is to decide everything beforehand and then let him in on it so that his mind is now cluttered with my thoughts and it's harder to think of his own thing. Sneaky? Nah. Men need guidance. Women know that. Besides, I'm not discounting his opinion entirely. Just looking for my top choices and then he can pick from those. Easy!

Or not. It's been a tough search finding the right rug. I don't want to spend $800 on it because it's not going to be a focal point in the room. The current carpet is a light beige and I just need a little distinction, nothing major. But so far I haven't found what I want. So I focused on furniture for a bit. Can't be too light or hard to clean. Can't be too big or too small. And in all that searching I had finally found my inspiration:



I fell in love with it instantly and it gave me the design direction I needed. I realized that I didn't want it to come from the budget I had slated for the room. This was going to have to be my own personal purchase so the cost of it can go toward all the other furniture needed. But Mr. T was still so busy working, working, I couldn't show him my new find. Each day I'd ask him, "Don't you want to see my chair?" "Not now," he'd say. "Tomorrow, tomorrow."

Tomorrow finally came yesterday after he woke up from his long nap. He looked at the picture and made a face I couldn't interpret, but I told him - as I showed him all the things I had found so far and explained the design plan - that the chair was non-negotiable. "Sorry. I love it. It stays. But you can go with me to sit on sofas!"

"OK," he said, prompting a mad dash to get the kids dressed and to make the rounds in about 5 stores in the 1 hour we had until they closed. He was interested. I had to run with it - literally!

I drove and thought about where to go first in order to maximize our time. Then I realized I had to take him to see the chair in person and the set that went with it, which was the best of everything I had seen. This way he'd keep the colors and style in mind as he looked at everything else.

We went, we sat, we corralled our children and started to walk away as Mr. T. told the sales guy, "I can pay cash. If you give me a deal, we can do this today."

"Ohhh! Well, I can't do that. I've gotta talk to the boss."

"OK. Talk to him then."

One brief negotiation and a new credit account later, the chocolate brown set - minus the chair - is slated to be delivered Thursday. I'll get the chair in a few weeks after wedding mania slows down. (I've got 3 to attend next month.) All I can do is smile. I love it when Mr. T does what I want no questions asked except for one:

"It's what you wanted, right?"

"Yep."

"Done."

Friday, April 25, 2008

Inspiration Strikes

As Monica used to say, just one of them days. Monica, the singer, not me in third person, silly.

But when I say one of them days, I don't mean one of them days where Murphy's Law is holding court. It's the other end of the spectrum where I am feeling all kinds of inspired and I am sure it's because I am trying to keep myself focused on the business. Now that I have my treadmill back in my clutches as it should be, I have been walking again after the kids go to sleep. And with the warmer weather, maybe I can head back outside but for today I have my precious machine. I have to turn the TV up really loud though so I can walk and watch but everyone upstairs seems to be sleeping through it.

One of those walking evenings, when nothing was on, I found "The Big Idea with Donny Deutsch." I had heard of the show long ago and always wanted to check it out but never did until recently. It's really an inspirational show and it comes on not only at 10 at CNBC but at 1 in the morning so I can tape it without interfering with something else that may be on the taping agenda earlier that evening.

I am loving this show, I must say. Donny's constant reminder to do what you love, passion etc. reminded me of my favorite preacher, Dr. Myles Munroe who is all about passion and purpose as God instilled it in us - if you're willing to listen to it, that is. Then there are my business meetings, which are OK but a little lacking for me sometimes. Still, it adds to my life, not detracts, so the meetings stay.

My most recent meeting reminded me of the trip Bizzy Girl and I took to Atlanta a couple of years ago. She took the class of a business coach who really impressed her. That coach was the man one of my associates spoke of last night. As he explained how he would be working with him now and what the expected financial return would be, I remembered one of the things Bizzy Girl had told me he spoke about in their session - write a book. It doesn't have to be huge or complicated. Just something to help solidify your expertise in your business and to help get your name out there. I have actually been pondering for years on this - what can I write when it comes to my puzzles? Then last night it came back to me again as I told Bizzy Girl of the meeting - what can I write? What can I write? Wait a minute. The point is to write. I don't HAVE to write on puzzles. At least not right now. I already have something business related that I started about 2 years ago. I've been researching it all this time as I brought up the topic in meetings or asked a question here and there of our various speakers. I've been making mental notes of the people I want to talk to about this so I can work them into my book.

I don't need to think of a topic. I actually already have one started and another one in idea stage. Now, the last thing I said here is no more writing for now, correct? I did say that. I did mean that. But I told you it was part of me, didn't I? I can't escape it! Only this IS about business. And it could still be a help to my business just to have this out there.

So I'm looking at it again. Reading through, making more notes, thinking about the people I still want to approach to add some more flavor to it. Thinking about who could copy edit it for me (this is where it's good to be in the field!) and then who could edit it - yes, there is a difference.

I'm feeling all sorts of inspired by it again because this is not something new, another idea to develop. This one is already nearly 100 pages strong so I don't feel like I have a long way to go. Plus it still keep the business front and center, a happy medium.

Oh my dear Writing. You just can't stay away, can you? Well, that's OK. Everything I do always comes back to you anyway. So let's see what happens.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Another Fine Day

Mr. T told me last night to pack a lunch for Son. He had to do training at his job so Son would have to stay with Nana all day. All week his school has been closed and I have been dropping him off at Nana's house in the morning so Mr. T could pick him up after he went to the gym. But even with his DS, I knew Son would not be too keen to hang out in the house all day, especially since today was a perfect Spring day; the first day I was willing to walk around without a coat and didn't regret it.

"What? That's OK. I'll take him to work with me," I told Mr. T. A lot of people were out so I knew Son wouldn't make too much disruption plus it's Friday and everyone is even more relaxed. I knew Son would be game. He and Daughter like to go to work with me. It's not that they find fun things to do all day long there but it's just enough and the playfulness and patience of the people around me are just enough to make them feel welcome and make me feel like I can get some work done even though I don't usually opt to stay the whole day.

When I told Son this morning, that big smile of his erupted all over his face, as I expected. I only take him or Daughter if I REALLY think I need to so they don't really go that often anyway.

He had his DS so I knew he'd be able to entertain himself for at least part of the time. I was hoping to put him on a spare computer since so many people were out but the ones I wanted to use were way too slow for the computer games he wanted to play. No matter. He played with the DS; drew pictures for 4 co-workers, one of which was scanned by the recipient and is now a screensaver for another; made a paper airplane on which he wrote notes, threw them over the wall at the young woman who sits behind me who then proceeded to read the message write him back and throw it back at him. (It helps that most of my co-workers are best friends with their inner child.) Son watched colorful pellets evolve into various vehicle shapes as yet another co-worker showed him a "trick." He helped feed the CEO's fish. We ate lunch outside at the park across the street after which we swung in the swings as high as we could go and then played "fort" until a bee chased us away. Oh, and of course, there were a few candy treats thrown in for good measure.

Now all of this was throughout the course of the day so there was lots of "I'm bored" sprinkled throughout all this activity but overall I got some things done and he got a mini adventure that once again rated high enough to make him want to go back again. Daughter wants to know when she can go again. Maybe next Spring.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Scene from the Schoolyard

Today I spent an hour in Daughter's classroom. I was pretty sure I had told her once before that I would be there for an hour but I didn't remind her until this morning so she wouldn't bug me about it. Daughter loves it when I hang out in her world, which I can't do often. But today I sat beside her as we planted a sunflower seed and carrots in a cup, made a birthday cake out of blocks and read Cinderella. She sat happily on my lap as they sang all the songs I always hear her sing at home and then outside we went where I watched her ride a bike and helped her plant a branch from a tree as she knelt on dirt and mulch in her off-white tights. We played basketball and turned into human airplanes and then I had to go to work. She buried her face in my leg and said she wanted me to stay until lunch. Even if I did, I knew there would be no good time to extricate myself so sooner rather than later was the plan. That girl not only knows how to argue her point ("Your boss isn't at work so you can come to my school!") but she pulls a mean heartstring too. Those tears were a little unexpected since I did warn her but dang it, I just adore her.

I thought about Son who I know always wants me to go on class trips with him but his trips are much longer and I still say it's Mr. T's job to do the trips since I do the homework and special projects. But alas. I know that doesn't work. They want us both. Daddy is daddy and mommy is mommy and never the twain shall mix. I know they are thrilled to have either of us visit with them in school and Mr. T is just as involved as I am, yet for some reason I'm always the one they ask first.

When I think about it, I really should try to jump on every opportunity I can create to spend that time with them in school because it gives us the one-on-one that's hard to achieve at home and I know that no matter how lazy I get at home with the game playing, those moments in school and on their trips seem to be even more valuable to them. And with nothing to distract me, I get a moment to really look at these little people who love me and reflect on why they're such wonderful people. This was a good week - Son got me to himself for an extra long Cub Scout meeting Monday night and Daughter got me to herself today. Not bad for a Wednesday.

video

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Let's Get Bizzy!


I'm very excited and if you know me, you know I don't say that often or easily. See my face here? It doesn't look excited but it is! (I was Simpsonized.)

I officially joined the business incubator I was looking to join so many months ago when I first heard the networking group went local. As soon as I knew I could sign up, I couldn't get to my email fast enough to click the link that led me to the registration page of their website. In no time, I was in like Flynn (who the heck is Flynn anyway?) and I emailed the incubator leader to let her know since we had been in touch a few times already. While I was there, I thought I'd go ahead and update my profile on the site because I had previously been a free member. Now I am the equivalent of Gold Status and I can't wait to see what the benefits afford me. It'll be nice to add them as options in our marketing plans since the cards this group will deal me are good ones but still need to be played with a certain amount of finesse.

Updating my profile led me to update my other networking profiles and consequently touch base with not only a former co-worker I hadn't seen since a wedding we both attended years ago, but a college friend I never expected to hear from again as well. It was a lovely little trip down memory lane. But back to the here and now.

I've been writing down what I feel our major business issues are so I can give the group as clear a picture as possible of what I'm looking to accomplish. But I also want to have all my thoughts out of my head so I can really listen to the others too. There is nothing quite so stimulating as a bunch of creative people all in one room trying to bring an idea to life.

I don't consider myself sexist. I do have the usual complaints about the occasional thoughtless male act. I also don't consider myself a feminist but I do shake my head at women who want to be all that they can be and all that men can be too yet wonder why they're feeling so stressed and divided. (We won't go here now.) But in this case, there's something about the strength of women and being surrounded by that in a group such as this. I have plenty of men with great business savvy pushing for us to succeed and I'm grateful. But I think it will take a woman to help us really get where we want to be while being the women/mothers/spouses we are.

This group starts the day after another group I am in comes to an official end, thus trading one thing for another and keeping the number of items on my priority list to reasonable amount. The timing just couldn't be better. This is going to be fun.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

What Comes First?

It is time to make another change. My priorities in life have pretty much been - in randomly changing order:

  • Family
  • Work
  • Business
  • God
  • Me
  • Writing
Usually business and family compete for second place right after work. In the midst of the insanity, I try to remember myself and for me that includes time spent with my friends because that feeds me too. And then God has been under me way too long but He's still there, dagnabbit. He's still there.

My writing, on the other hand? Suffering. It's in a coma actually. No real signs of life but I won't pull the plug because as long as I feed it via the writing I do for work and via my blog, it shall live on.

There is a business incubator I have been waiting to take part in. The larger networking group this incubator is part of is based in New York but I was unwilling to go over the state line to do this. Then I found out last year that it had finally come to CT in full force. Not only that, but there is a group operating in the town I work in. Wait! There's more! The group meets in a location around the corner from where I work. Talk about your silver platter offerings. I didn't notice this location the last time I got the email announcing the next incubator was starting. This time I did notice and promptly ran around the block to go find the store and meet the owner.

I loved the feel of the place and her enthusiasm was precisely what I felt when I last went to a larger expo the group had held in NY last year. The feeling of creativity abounds and I just want to soak it all up as much as I can. It’s good for me, it’s good for my creativity and ultimately, we hope it will be good for business. The networking alone should prove fruitful but the access to marketing opportunities are priceless to me.

So I'm going to do it this time. The notice was a little short for my taste but it was short last time too so I suppose it's the norm. It's $300 to sign up and triple digit expenses always give me pause but I know this is worth it. I just wish I had a couple of paychecks to prepare for it but even if I did, there is always something to take up whatever I save up for myself. Thus the life of a mother – she’s usually last to get her wants (if not needs) met.

With all we're planning to do this year in the business, this incubator is coming at just the right time. But my writing? My poor writing is being banished. The at-home course I am in? On hiatus until further notice. My online writing groups? I fear I must go no mail. One of my friends from the group I participate in the most said my business is just as big a dream as getting published. It struck me that maybe all this time, I hadn’t been seeing it quite that way. I’m not sure why but maybe because writing has been on a pedestal and maybe the business should be there too?

It's the weirdest thing to be so consumed by my puzzles. Writing has been my friend forever. We went through high school together. Writing waited patiently while I was in college playing around with Interior Design until I decided English was a better fit. It's gotten me every job I've ever had. I fully expected to spend my business and personal life writing in some way and I assumed when I was ready to try a business of my own, it would be some sort of publication; it was fated, I thought. But my puzzles came out of nowhere and stole my heart. I feel much of my future financial security will be due to whatever success we can achieve with our puzzles and financial security extends beyond me to my children and theirs so it matters, you know? I don’t choose to believe right now that Writing and I are meant to only be friends, with no real depth ever really evolving. We’re already beyond that. But what will happen, I just don’t know. I only know that I have to follow the puzzles right now while the trail is still hot and you, dear reader, must try not to be sickened by all my metaphors and similes. It’s just Writing blinking at me, letting me know not to give up. We will have our moment yet.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Spring Hopes Eternal

I am one tired sistah - again - but it's Spring and hope abounds.

Hope for energy. Hope for more change, although the change thus far has been pretty good and it isn't all mine so that's good too.

I have the hope that Daughter will learn how to get up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom. When we ran out of pull-ups recently, we took on the challenge of going cold turkey. Of course, sleep is a lot more broken up now as we play Beat the Bladder - I think the score is now 10-5, our loss - but we're remain eternally hopeful. Plus, Daughter is feeling like even more of a big girl when she wakes up in a desert instead of a pool so we can't turn back now.

I have the hope of walking again. After a year, my treadmill is finally back with me as well as about 10 boxes of books. I moved it, I cleaned it, I ran it and it's still humming. I refuse to make a plan with it but the idea is to simply be able to start walking again while I'm watching TV those nights Mr. T is sleeping. I'm actually quite excited but getting back to the size I should be means seriously discussing that third kid. Not sure I'm completely ready for that but the clock is ticking.

I have the hope of adult furniture! Nope, we haven't started looking yet because we've been too busy on the weekends and my goal right now is to get Daughter a new dresser. Mr. T's way is to see what the need is and then comparison shop it to death. In this case, the comparison shopping can't go on too long because the bed is already there and it is beckoning its mates - the dresser specifically. We're not going to find it anywhere other than where we got the bed but he thinks we can find the source of the bed, which will mean a huge savings. So I wait because that savings can get the bookcase I want for Son and 2 for 1 is a great deal to me. In the meanwhile I can let my inner designer enjoy the thoughts of what we want to do and revel in the anticipation.

I have the hope for big business. We did a photo shoot of our puzzles recently so we can do some marketing we need to do. Our potentially REALLY big client remains on our horizon. We share the same financial advisor so I hear about her progress from time to time and boy will I be happy when she's under way. I really think she'll help us turn a corner. But as I ticked off the things we had in the works, Bizzy Girl and I were pleased that we've got a year's worth of things to do and if they all come off even a little bit, we should still be ahead of what we did last year. Plus the store where we are wants us to try a 2nd site they are opening in order to give us a better chance at sales - practically nil so far but we have a solution in the works - so we're thinking about it.

Lastly, I have the hope for something else and I can't even go into it right now because it's too nebulous. But it makes me happy to think about it.

Weddings abound, Son is on the way to moving up in Scouts, Daughter is beyond eager for kindergarten and all is well in my world. Let's keep it that way.

Friday, April 04, 2008

Keep It To Yourself

If you are a parent, grandparent or anything that brings children into your life on a regular basis, please, please PLEASE think about the little ears around you and keep your neuroses to yourself!

I am annoyed. Son asked me last night if he was fat because he's 64 pounds.

"What?!" I breathed. "Who told you you were fat?"

"I weighed myself on Nana's scale."

He did this because over Easter, my SIL didn't want to eat too much because she's in the midst of losing weight - or trying to. She doesn't seem too happy with how it's going. So MIL brought out her new scale and they weighed themselves...on Easter...at dinner. And SIL actually did it before eating and after eating and then was upset because she had gained! "Woman, you just ate! What do you expect?"

Sigh.

The kids saw this as a new toy so they hopped on too. No harm done - I thought. I wasn't thinking I would have to tell Son not to obsess over that scale. But I do. He says he wants to eat healthy. "Maybe I shouldn't eat," he said. What? What?! My goodness. All I could do was bite my tongue because I was truly getting mad (still am) but I know he wouldn't understand why I was angry. Actually, now that I think about it, maybe I can use this to my advantage prefacing everything with, "remember how you said you want to eat healthy? Well, broccoli is good for you! Try 'em!" Of course, we've already gone this route only to run into a dead end but maybe he's ready to try again.

Still, I was mad last night that he even asked me if he was fat. Weight is certainly an issue for Mr. T's mom and 2 sisters. They mention is A LOT. Weight is a big issue in my family too since most of us start out small but the females tend to gain with childbirth. Only my mother and I don't take too kindly to reminders about it. It's other family members - mainly Southerners - who find this to be an appropriate topic of conversation. (Uh uh uh. Don't even say it. I was born in D.C. which is SOUTH and my both sides of my family are Southerners and I will always be one at heart even if my birthplace really has me straddling the Mason-Dixon line.)

"How's the family? How's the job? How much DO you weigh now?"

Everybody. Please. SHUT UP! I'm beyond sick of it.

Whatever my issues with weight, I deliberately chose to go the opposite way with my kids and either not mention weight to them directly or simply to tell them how good they look no matter what. I even try to curb my tongue about myself lest either one of them take it and run. But they talk the talk anyway and sometimes it's good, sometimes I'm not so sure.

"Daddy, how big are you? You must be 400 pounds!" OK, that IS funny. The kids like to compare us. Mr. T is 6' 3" and weighs, well, probably a little more than he should but his job requires him to be physically fit so he can't be too bad and I'm happy so who cares? When they compare me to him, though, I always come out tiny. Or he's big, I'm medium and they're small and extra small. We listen. We laugh. We don't indulge the talk but so far because I know how it can go.

I do hate to hear the fat talk. I do hate to hear the concern about their health as if they were living on the edge of death at all times. I do watch them quietly because I want to keep their weight and food in check for diabetes reasons. I tell them they look good or I tell them what they are wearing ain't working anymore. Time for something new. I try NOT to inflict my issues on them. It's not fair to them. They will develop issues of their own soon enough. We encourage them to do whatever they have an interest in in order to get out of the house because we don't live in the world I grew up in where kids could go out to play all day and come back home safe and sound. It's not safe enough to do that anymore, as far as I am concerned.

I just want my kids to be the happy, silly, inquisitive people they are but life refuses to let that happen I see. The bad stuff gets all mixed up in there and they come to me with concerns I'm not ready for them to have. I never considered myself to be an overprotective mother but maybe I should just lock them in their rooms and save myself the future agita. Other people just are not cooperating. They keep saying things, not thinking, forgetting my kids are around. Hmm. Maybe I should lock up the other people and make the world a safe place for the innocents once again. Now there's an idea.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

A Personality Test?

Someone asked me if I could sing. For her, certain people unconsciously wear these like a layer of skin, even though she realizes she could be off base in her assumptions. To her, there is something in my voice that makes her think I can sing. I laughed and barely answered her because it was at least the 2nd time but I think maybe the third time she had asked me that. So my guard is up because I figure she's waiting to catch me singing to myself, which will either confirm her suspicions or leave her slightly disappointed.

"Depends," I told her.

"On what?"

"The song."

She gave me her quizzical, I'm-on-to-you look and went her merry way. Now me? Being the analytical person that I am, I thought to myself about my answer "depends." Really, it does depend on the song. I think like most people, I'm better singing some songs than others and I can sing certain artists' songs better than some others though I am not a strong singer in the least. Vanessa Williams, a little Whitney ; I can them carry off somewhat. Mariah is too high for me. For certain if I wanted to join the church choir, I'm relatively confident I wouldn't make anyone's ears bleed.

"Depends" also refers to the person. If you ask my mother, I can sing. She was on that kick for the longest time when I was a kid. "You can sing. You ought to join the choir. If you don't use your gifts, you'll lose them." That was a risk I was willing to take because there was no way I was singing in front of a bunch of people, even if I wasn't singing alone. I have a solid love/hate relationship with attention and no matter how much the spotlight beckons, I don't rush in. I sneak up on it. It never sees me coming.

Other people on whom you can "depend" to tell you if I can sing or not include one friend from college who told me not to quit my day job - which was school at the time - and yet another college friend who heard me sing a certain song and gave me a slight look of shock as she commented, "Wow. You sing that pretty well." It was a Vanessa Williams song. I told you it depended.

Now, my analysis kicked in even harder as I thought about what singing meant. I never truly planned it this way but whether or not I let you hear me sing APPEARS to somewhat relate to how much I trust you. I say all of this cautiously lest some people reading this take this to heart and think I don't trust them. No, no. It's a mix of trust and opportunity. I can clearly remember the beginning of the time I started to trust Mr. T because I sang in front of him (and yes, he thought I should join the choir too). But the opportunity was there. We were quiet in the car and when I'm in the car - if the radio is on - I will most likely sing. I am guaranteed to sing if I am driving. Who doesn't? The shower doesn't do it for me. The car does. That's where I can sing the same song repeatedly. I don't have a CD player in my car - yet - so when I drive Mr. T's SUV, I can quickly rewind a song or a part of a CD until I get it right. But I know how to time a tape to do the same thing. I do get my song on!

No matter how many tunes I carry, I suspect there is something to the fact that I'm more drawn to the harmony of a song than the lead. If I had to do anything at this time in life, I think I'd do best as a backup singer than as the star. I harmonize with the songs on the radio. I harmonize with the church choir. I harmonize with my friends. One singing friend of mine, on our way to NC one year, played conductor in the drivers seat as she had us all find our pitches and sing whatever we were singing at the time. Another time in church, an aquaintance and I sat in successive rows, me in front of her, and sang with the choir as the deacons prepared communion. But I could hear her and she could hear me and before we knew it we were no longer trying to sing in harmony with the choir but we became our own private duet and I still remember that because it was just perfect. We don't sing the same key so I could tell she was trying to fall in time with me and she could tell I was doing the same. Together we were probably the most audible in that little area and we were having fun with it. When the song finished I looked back at her and we laughed; silently agreeing, "That was good." And it was.

Astrologists will tell you that your personality is not just about your birth sign but your rising sign too. Now don't ask me to explain this but so much because I don't understand how it all works; and don't try to make me defend being a Christian and having the nerve to mention astrology. It is my natural way to try to understand people and I am drawn to every possible way there is to figure them out. This is just one of those ways.

Anyhow, your birth sign is said to be who you are but your rising sign is the face you present to the world. They aren't necessarily the same sign and may even seem in conflict with each other. Me? I am a leader at heart but in the world, I gravitate toward harmonizing with others; not trying to stand out but trying to have us all flow together and work together toward a common goal. I know it is one of my spiritual gifts to lift others up whether it is via an encouraging word or simply supporting them administratively. I feel the conflict within myself sometimes because I do love to work with others and I do love to stand alone.

It's the face I present to the world that wins right now. You most likely won't catch me singing a darned thing unless you come to my house full of people I trust and spy on me. They don't say a thing to me. They sing with me and they dance with me and they expect me to be nothing less than my full, compulsive self where sometimes I am the lead and sometimes I am the backup. I do have the longing to let that self on the outside one day and that's part of what I love about getting older. The inner and outer self are becoming one, harmonizing with each other. But I think for now we'll keep that harmony contained within the confines of my car.

The Transition

I know you've been wondering; waiting with bated breath. Giddy as a toddler on Christmas morning. So I won't keep you in suspense any longer. Ten days from beginning to end. My precious eczema scar removal is as complete as it can be since it takes months to get to whatever it will settle on as its final appearance.

Mr T. took the first two shots. I don't know why he thought we needed reminders but since I'm posting it here I suppose it's here for posterity - or until I kill the whole thing, which is doubtful. I was anxious getting it done as my blood pressure attested to that day. But otherwise, it was simply an exercise in denial.

"No, I am not walking around in public feeling like a Klingon."

"No, my brown skin does not have this white patch tagging along for the ride screaming at people like Sam Kinison's alter ego."

Interestingly enough, I had loads of people I know asking me what happened - maybe someone mistook me for a vampire and tried to spike me? Says one friend, "Are you trying to start a fashion statement? I really do NOT think it's going to catch on." I love my friends. Only one stranger - the oh so witty guy at the video store - commented directly, asking me, "Is it Ash Wednesday already?" Ha ha. Oh ha ha, funny man. Since I had already grown used to it and since I'm not Catholic, I actually looked at him like the idiot he was until I figured out what he was referring to. I must admit, it was a challenge to myself to look people in the eye (as much as I can since I don't normally do that anyway) and dare them to say something to me. It was a little funny. But not funny enough to last forever - thank God.

Anyway, here's the photo transition from the last 10 days. One bandage change is all it took. FYI, NOT my most flattering photos though Mr. T's little artistic one wasn't half bad really.









And that is that.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Doped Up Babies?

After 8 years of being a parent, I am still amazed by the number of things there are to afraid of that I never thought about. I was watching a makeover show last night as I chilled out so I could go to sleep. The woman getting the makeover had been a drug addict and worse for many years before finally getting her act together at the age of 41. Her mother had had her at the age of 11 but she grew up in a foster home - relatively stable, it seems - but the parents were old enough for her to get away with telling people they were her grandparents. This girl had first started smoking weed at the age of 5.

Five.

F-I-V-E.

Can somebody tell me how the heck that happens and no one notices? Just a hypothetical. I know darn well how it happens but she was one year older than my daughter is now and she was smoking joints, people!

I quickly woke up, sat up, and shivered at the thought. It was truly a scary thought. The child in the room next to mine could be sneaking weed somewhere? Unlikely, I know, since she's never out of someone's presence for very long but it's possible and that is freaky. I know I have to talk to my 8-year-old about sexual issues. I know I have to dumb down the topic for my daughter. I know I have to talk to son about everything under the sun, frankly. But the idea of my five-year-old being capable of finding weed, learning to smoke it and then being able to hide it from me is more than I can bear. And since my child is brilliant and every generation is smarter than the last, you know it's not outside the realm of possibility this happens way more than we think or know.

Before children, I was oblivious and happy-go-lucky. When I was pregnant with Son, I had loads of anxieties suddenly plague and try to paralyze me. Then you have the kid and you snap out of it and get on with the business of life and raising them and taking it day by day figuring out how to incorporate all the life lessons you want to teach and issue all the warnings they need to heed.

Daughter is heading to kindergarten in August and I already had enough on my mind thinking about the bus driver not paying attention and dropping her AND her brother off at the wrong stop. Now I can add one more thing to my list of concerns regarding their generation.

I thought I was past all this worrying. I guess not.