Saturday, December 26, 2009

Dear Life

This poem was written by Erin of the In Through the Back Door blog

what it is about

it is to stop
and recognize

what is passing
that is what writing is about

i could live a thousand years
but to live them
and have them pass
as highway beneath my ass
without ever looking

that would mean nothing

or i could live one day

on a hill
and touch the grass
and watch the sky

and look upon the birds
and feel the breeze
and touch my breast
and then to write of that
-that one day-

that would amount to more
than the thousand years



Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Opinion Are Like...


Home for the Holidays (1995)~ "Opinions are like assholes. Everybody's got one and everyone thinks everyone else's stinks."

I am already thinking ahead about surviving the holidays.
1) Pull the curtains down.
2) Hold my emotions in.
3) And keep my mouth firmly shut.

That's my opinion. Anybody have a better idea?

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Bonus "N"

New York City; Central Park (copyright Susan English 2009)

Wednesday, October 21, 2009



No way! My son (hiding in photo) subscribed to my other blog. How long before he finds his way to this one? This is a catastrophe of epic proportions. Eek!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Pass the gin


I haven't been doing so well in the past few days. Someone mocked me at work day before yesterday and it put me in a very undesirable place inside my head. I've decided I'm way too benevolent. I am tired of people telling me that they admire how I can let things roll off my back. I've got news...I trained myself a long time ago to never, ever let anyone know when something bothers me. I learned at a young age that when you let on to others how they can "get" you, that is what they will use on you whenever they want to hurt you. So I have trained myself to never, ever let 'em see me sweat. But it hurts. Inside I'm dying. I feel the lowest when someone mocks, imitates, and humiliates me in front of people. To have to stand there and allow someone to mimic me, just because he can, just to make me look ridiculous, sickens me.

I apologize for not being able to tell all of the details in this post. I am not hiding behind anonymity so the irony is that if I post about what happened, the person who humiliated me would win. It seems to be the story of my life. There is no justice.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Let Me Tell You A Story

ABC WEDNESDAY...L IS FOR...Lucy The Lavendar Dragon
I can think of a laundry list of words that start with "L".

Lovable, Loyal, Listener, Lovely, Lively, Likable, Loving, Learned, Liberal, Light-Hearted, Lip-Locked, Loved, Lusty, Lyrical, Lucky, Luxurious, Laughable, Lavish, Logical, Luminous, Lively,Lavender, Lacy, Little, Lotus, Life, Lock-Jaw, Laughed, Liberation

I thought it would be fun to write a story about my childhood using all of the words in the list. If you want to know how Lucy The Lavendar Dragon relates to my childhood then you'll have to read on:

Life began for her on the last day of April when there was snow on her mother's tulips. She was born flawed but lovable. Her feet were crooked, her head was misshapen, and she had red forcept marks all over her body. The hospital nurses were loyal to their oaths and rubbed their hands in a circular motion around her scalp in an attempt to reshape the head from elongated to spherical. The nurses put a bow in her hair and took the baby to her mother but the mother cried and said she was ugly. The nurses told her she was wrong and that the little girl was lovely and dressed her in a lacy lavender dress. Soon the red blotches went away and the head began to look like a normal head. The mother began to feel loving feelings for the little one for the first time since her birth.

The mother named her Susan, which means lotus, and she remains true to her name to this day. Like a lotus she continues to rise up from the muck that was her life. She had many physical obstacles to overcome including lock-jaw which made her look lip-locked and pouty all the time. Later she would have surgery to repair the anomaly but the poutiness could not be corrected surgically. It was laughable to watch her walk, because she looked like a pigeon-toed penguin. She had to wear shoes nailed to a board to bed at night to straighten them. She wore ugly saddle shoes with orthopedic insoles her entire childhood. She was lucky though because the feet straightened out after years of nonsurgical treatments and lively dance therapy.

Her parents were likable liberals and she was raised Catholic. They didn't have very much money so she didn't live in a luxurious home with lots of toys or lavish clothing. There was a strong beautiful maple tree growing in her front yard that she used to love to climb. There she would blend in with nature and listen to the lyrical sounds of the robins, sparrows, and blue jays. She had an affinity for birds from a very young age. She also loved to gaze at the luminous stars. She found out young that if she stared at the night sky for 30 minutes a new universe would open up to her.

The world was full of turmoil during her childhood. President Kennedy was shot when she was six years old. She remembers her mother crying when Martin Luther King was shot. She watched the tanks go down the streets of Detroit during the riots of 1967. The Vietnam War came to a dishonorable end while she was a lusty teenager. She buried herself in an alternate world through literature. Through it all she learned to be logical instead of idealistic. She was compassionate and a good listener and wanted to become a doctor. When she told her father she wanted to be a doctor, he laughed. That was during the time when women's liberation was just starting to catch on. Her father had to save all the money he could to send her brother to college. That was understandable. After all, he told her, "You'll just get married and have babies."

 Such was life in 1975.

Denise facilitates this meme where we all go through the alphabet from A-Z and construct a post with the designated weekly letter.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

My Own Hell's Kitchen

Chef Gordon Ramsay, Hell's Kitchen the TV show


It might seem odd to you that I have bad "kitchen feelings." They range from batter to waffle. To me the kitchen is a volatile place full of sharp, pointed objects and microwave-operated incinerators. When I pass by I hear strange sounds that go 'crash' - 'whoosh' -'hiss' and 'boohoo'. The kitchen has never been a fun place for me since childhood. It was the place where my mom and dad staged a fight that ended with one of them throwing a toaster across the room at the other. It was the place where my ex-husband and I had a fight that ended with him wrapping a phone cord around my neck. It was the place where my sister cut her finger on a piece of glass so sharp that she required 56 stitches. I have two windows in my kitchen and they are closed up as tight as a drum. "Keep the curtains closed," mother would say, "or someone might see in."

The only good reason I can think of for entering the place in the first place is to get a nice cold beer out of the frig.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Green-Eyed Monster


I always thought jealousy was a reaction one feels when someone else achieves something great.

There is a woman in my life who fits this definition yet she's not the object of my jealousy. If she were, my feelings would make sense to me. She's wealthy, manages a non-profit, and has a great family. (In fact, I’m happy for her especially because trickle down economics means rewards for me.)

The woman I’m jealous of lives next door to us up at our cabin. She is a hateful and miserable woman but everyone is afraid to ruffle her feathers. When I drop by to visit, sometimes she just sits at her little puzzle table, looking out the window, and she chooses either to acknowledge me or not. No one, including her husband and daughter, sees this as unusual and it is accepted. This has been going on for at least six years and continues.

Thinking turn-a-bout is fair play, I tried the same tactics. She dropped by today and I kept doing what I was doing, cleaning, and only said, “good morning.” That’s more of an acknowledgment than I often get from her. As soon as she left, Mr. P shouted at me about how all females come with drama, drama, drama and asked me why I can’t be friendly to her. Many attempts to explain my position landed on his deaf ears.

Experts say: “Tell what you envy, and you reveal a great deal about yourself.” I find it deeply distressing that I would waste so much emotion feeling this way about her. I do understand why my feelings are so distressing – it is the knowledge that my jealousy is based on pettiness and nothing of substance that I can identify.

I am jealous of an insignificant woman who somehow has created a world in which she doesn’t have to adhere to social decorum.

So what does this say about me? I don’t have a clue.

Denise facilitates this meme where we all go through the alphabet from A-Z and construct a post with the designated weekly letter.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009



(Image credit: xolotl | Image source: fatcat @, Tom Kiss,

Monday, September 7, 2009

Old Geezer Continued

Sappy post alert!

Jazz has a game she's playing and I want to play too. Her idea: "We should ask fellow bloggers who wouldn't object to sharing, how they met their significant other and what was it that turned them on, aside from anything obvious. What think you?" I think it's a fun idea.

All she asks you to do is post it and then click on her link above and post a comment so she can read it too.

I met Mr. P on That's funny in and of itself, I think. I will never forget the first email I received from him, especially since I saved it and I'll never delete it. He said, "I think you're lovely. I would like to know you better." He sent a picture of himself with the email with his cute little sun roof head, his round glasses, and his sly shit-eating grin. I thought it was very sweet.

At that time in my life, my 13-year-old son had just come to live with me; I was parking my car in all different spots to avoid the repossession henchmen; and I didn't have a computer. I was working in a call center and since I couldn't afford insurance on my car, I took a bus to work. I was at the bus stop at 5:00 AM every morning and I got off at one of the most dangerous bus stops in downtown Phoenix on Van Buren Street, which is known for its prostitutes and drug dealers. Suffice it to say, times were tough.

I was leery of meeting anyone on the Internet so I wouldn't tell him any of my personal information. We did find out that in this very "small" world we live in that we were living within three miles of each other. I remember sitting on my porch talking to him on the phone for hours. The thing that first turned me on was his voice. He has one of the sexiest voices I've ever heard in my life. His voice goes right through me. It touches my heart in a way no one else's does.

I agreed to meet him at a restaurant within walking distance to where I worked. He loves to tell people that we met on "Van Buren." He often jokes that if I'm not good to him, he'll put me back on the street. He has a great sense of humor, and that is one of his best qualities.

He was sitting across the table staring at my boobs. For some reason, it didn't bother me a bit. He finally apologized for staring at my chest. I told him it would probably hurt my feelings if he didn't. We laughed. He walked me out and gave me a light kiss on the lips, and I was in lust. Here is a guy that up to that point, I would have not given a second look.

We dated and soon I was falling hard. We broke it off though because I felt I was spending way too much time away from my son who was 13. I explained to Mr. P how torn I felt. My son's therapist said that I needed to spend more time with Joey. We agreed he wasn't ready for a commitment and I started to move on without him. One day a couple of weeks later, he called me and asked me to go for a walk with him to talk. I agreed. He offered for my son and I to move in with him. He lived with his son and he hoped we could be a family.

I know it's hard to believe but six years later, both of our now grown kids are best buddies. He is retiring next week and I am so proud of him. He gave my son and I a great new life and I'll always be grateful. And the best part is that he doesn't mind when I poke fun of him on my blogs because he is a very confident and strong man.

Mike's son Steve, Joey, and Mike (Camera shy all)

My advice for anyone looking for the love of their life: Don't judge a book by its cover. If you do, you may just miss out on the love of your life.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Geezer...As In Old

I apologize for posting late this week. Unfortunately I had a death in the family and have been busy with arrangements and out-of-town company.


Mr. P. is retiring this month after working in government for almost 30 years. As for me, I have another 10 years to go.

He may be an old geezer but he's my old geezer and I love him and wish him a long and healthy retirement.

Friday, August 28, 2009

ABC Wednesday On Friday

Brought to you by Ozzy Osbourne's speech teacher.

"Tha bleh iz da bees fur hur ad dis tim ans hur farher drugs."


Don't even ask me how someone who befuddles every word can be a filthy rich and famous singer.

How did this happen?

ABC Wednesday...F IS FOR...F*** IF I KNOW!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Fast and Fabulous


Billy, Naho, and Kya; August 14, 2009; noon in Central Park NYC.

There is nothing quite like a fast and fabulous trip out east for a weekend visit. I took the red-eye on Thursday night and flew back home on Sunday on time to go to work Monday. I went to attend my son's wedding on the footbridge in Central Park in NYC on Friday, August 14, 2009. The little flower girl is my granddaughter, Kya.

I took this picture in the backseat of a 2009 snaked 605 horsepower convertible Shelby, with the top down of course, at the exact moment we reached 100 miles per hour on a freeway in Massachusetts this past Saturday. We were blasting The Fray's "Never Say Never - Don't Let Me Go" and the bass was thumping and the engine was humming.

It was an exhilarating weekend and all week people have been commenting that I look younger. Now if I could just bottle it and sell it and I'd be rich.

Denise facilitates this meme where we all go through the alphabet from A-Z and construct a post with the designated weekly letter.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Kiss The Sky

“The burden of depression is heavy and it doesn't have handles.”
- Susan English

"Good morning, Eeyore," said Pooh.
"Good morning, Pooh Bear," said Eeyore gloomily. "If it is a good morning, which I doubt," said he.
"Why, what's the matter?"
"Nothing, Pooh Bear, nothing. We can't all, and some of us don't. That's all there is to it."
"Can't all what?" said Pooh, rubbing his nose.
"Gaiety. Song-and-dance. Here we go round the mulberry bush."
  1. A. Milne

Today I am sharing my blue-print for survival; things I need to remember and actions I need to take each day to beat depression.


  1. Take my Prozac.
  2. Drink lots of coffee but not after noon.
  3. In general, mind my own business and stay off the radar screen.
  4. Blog, read, write, laugh, paint, take pictures, doodle
  5. Remember bad days are unavoidable – try to take it in stride.
  6. Speak up but be appropriate– be tough but kind– because swallowing frustration turns into depression.
  7. Remember marriage and relationships aren’t utopia.
  8. Get out of the house.
  9. Exit my comfort zone.
  10. Remember famous beauties are not immune to depression
  11. If I can’t love my body; think of someone who is stuck in a wheelchair; avoid the scale altogether -- and remember that Food is NOT the "F" word!!!!
  12. Remember plastic surgery is excruciatingly painful.


  1. Care about politics and issues of substance.
  2. Think small – take one step at a time.
  3. Choose my battles.
  4. Donate money to good causes.
  5. Tune-In: Remain focused; do not anesthetize myself with too much TV watching.
  6. Promote, vote, and lobby in my own best interests. If I don’t vote, then I can’t complain. Use PMS and/or menopause to tell leaders they SUCK!!

Denise facilitates this meme where we all go through the alphabet from A-Z and construct a post with the designated weekly letter.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009



1:20 of pure joy!

Rat Shit!!
Bat Shit!!
Dirty Old Twat!!!
69 Assholes Tied In A Knot!!!
Lizard Shit!!

I love the 80's stage! It reminds me of the graphics in the old time Atari video games.

Denise facilitates this meme where we all go through the alphabet from A-Z and construct a post with the designated weekly letter.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009




Denise facilitates this meme where we all go through the alphabet from A-Z and construct a post with the designated weekly letter.

This past week my thoughts were interwoven with the letter "B."

My thoughts vacillated from the trivial to the deepest most intense feelings.

I went to get my hair done and thought of choosing the word "beautification."

I went to the ATM to withdraw money and thought of choosing the word "bank."

Whenever I thought about that evil maniacal dictator of Chechnya, Ramzan Kadyrov, puppet to the bedeviled Putin, I imagined a post with either the word "butcher" or "bad."

True Confession: I used to think bloggers were people with no lives, "losers," who hid behind their computers, and were afraid to live. I learned two things after realizing this was a gross error in perception.

First, I was wrong to judge that which I knew nothing about.

Second, the blogfellows I know have rich lives, and I respect both their creativity and their willingness to share and encourage each other.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

ABC Wednesday



I am so excited about joining the 5th round of ABC Wednesday. Denise runs it and she doesn't have lots of rules which tend to make me a lurker rather than a player. This is different! I have been waiting for the 'next round' to start so that I can go from A to Z, featuring whatever little thing my heart desires. I can do this, and I'm ready to have some fun.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

If Clouds Could Speak

If clouds could speak, I think they would tell me everything I need to know.









They are speaking to me,
I just need to look up with my eyes to hear it.
Or miss an extraordinary message from the universe;

One that only lasts one nano-second and then it's washed away.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Flash Fiction 55

She awoke suddenly to glowing white beckoning her from afar.

She heard whispering.
"Wake up."

Clumsily she got out of bed and sleepily wiped her eyes. Gazing out her window, just above the horizon, was the moon suspended with shadows fleeting and floating in its light.

"Hum a tune. Let's dance."

"Tra, la, la..."
Visit Flash Fiction's G-Man.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

America's Symbol of Strength and Freedom

Friday June 19, 2009; Fort McDowell Indian Reservation, Arizona, USA

I had so much hope when Barack Obama won the presidency. To me it was as if he was a symbol of our country deciding to clean house and get its priorities in order. Since becoming president he has vowed 3 trillion dollars to fund education. He promised no teacher layoffs. The money supposedly has been distributed to the states. Where is it? My son was laid off from his NYC teaching job. Teaching jobs are frozen in NYC. Let me get this straight - The NYC Fellow program which was designed to take people with college degrees and help them become teachers, as a second chance career to teach urban students, is going to do what now? Train people for a third career to work on a taco line? Our children are our only chance for a strong and free future. I'm confused. Maybe it's me who is disillusioned. Maybe eagles aren't a symbol of anything really. Maybe birds are just stupid.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

The Thing With Feathers

"Hope" is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul
And sings the tune without words
And never stops - at all

And sweetest - in the Gale - is heard
And sore must be the storm
That could abash the little Bird
That kept so many warm

I've heard it in the chillest land
And on the strangest Sea
Yet, never, in Extremity,
It asked a crumb - of me.

Emily Dickinson

When I read this poem Emily wrote about hope, I believe she is admonishing the person who would abash the hopeful with their feelings of negativity and anger. I think she is saying that negativity and anger destroys hope in ourselves and causes pain for those around us. Hope should be like a bird that flies freely yet perches on your windowsill to deliver the gift of song. It should be allowed to calm and console.

There are those who seemingly disagree:

Hope is the worst of evils, for it prolongs the torments of man.
~Friedrich Neitzsche

He who has never hoped can never despair.
~Geroge Bernard Shaw

Where do you stand on the subject of hope. Do you agree with Emily, or do you agree with Neitzsche? If it were an easy question to answer, I wouldn't be asking. I'm undecided.

Happy Cactus Monday

Friday, June 5, 2009

Flash Fiction Friday

She dialed 9-1-1 having enough time to scream, "My ex-husband is going to kill me," before he yanked the cord from the phone jack and wrapped it around her neck. She tried to hold the baby but instinct forced her to let go to save her own neck, as she fought to save her life.

Visit Flash Fiction's G-Man.

I'm not trying to be disturbing for no good reason. This is probably a new and troubling thought to a lot of you. But then again, there are many silent sufferers among us. I want to nudge you enough to get you to visit a significant blog that I feel is making a difference in people's lives. It is called "Violence UnSilenced" and it's providing a place where people who have survived sexual and/or physical abuse can go to share their stories. It's also a safe place where people who are suffering can go to get help. It's been nominated for "Most Inspiring Blog" and, frankly, I want it to win. You can vote once per day.

Check it out and if you think it's deserving, you can vote for it by following these instructions:
  • The category page is at:
  • Select the "Most Inspiring Blog" category
  • Find Violence UnSilenced in the list
  • Click the "Vote" button
  • Fill in a name and email address
  • Click the SECOND "Vote" button to register your vote.
And, while we are on this disturbing subject, there's something I'm curious about...

Let's have a philosophical discussion about survival instincts versus maternal/paternal instincts. Do I have it wrong in my Flash Fiction 55? Is it the other way around; Are maternal/paternal instincts stronger than survival instincts?

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Six things that make me happy

I was tagged by Pinkerbell of "Ripples in a Small Pond." Here are the instructions:

"If you are tagged write a post on your own blog about this saying six (un)important things which make you happy. Then you need to link to the person who tagged you and tag six bloggers people of your own. Then let them know that you've tagged them, perhaps by leaving a comment on their blog somewhere or by email. Simple. If you don't want to post on your own site, or don't have time, then just add a comment o
n to mine here. I won't mind if you don't link back to me, it's just a bit of fun, so don't worry about it if you don't carry it on."

Tag – you’re it!!!...

Deb - Fashionably Late
Kate - Rainbow Juice
Nicci - Queen of Haartz
Granny - Granny on the web
Fireblossom - Word Garden
Stewart - Imac's Photos from the Minds Eye

#1 Northern Arizona. We have a cabin up in Concho, Arizona: It's solar and wind powered and totally green. It's where we go to beat the Phoenix heat.

#2 Facebook: I am able to keep track of four generations of relatives.

#3 Camera: When I'm stressed out taking pictures usually calms me down. I was feeling a lot of angst this weekend so I went to the Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix and took a bunch of pictures and entered a photo contest. Dale Chihuly was exhibiting his hand-blown glass art in natural surroundings. It was the perfect photo op. Look really closely at the glass pillar on the far left about half way down - do you see the face of a Scottish Terrier?

#4 Playlist: My favorite song is "Feel" by Robbie Williams.
#5 Shakespeare: Particularly Shakespearean sonnets. I have memorized Shakespeare just in case I am ever stuck on a desert island and don't have anything to read or listen to. This is true.

Birds: Here is a mini-movie I made about birds.

Please feel free to take this meme as your own, even if you are not tagged, and pass it along! I would love to know what makes all of you happy. This inquiring mind wants to know.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Irony Is The Spice Of Life

I wrote this post weeks ago and I forgot to post it. The old gray mare she ain't what she used to be. So, here it is a day later and a dollar short.

In my last post, I told you I was challenging myself to take a risk every day. I planned doing a watercolor of the saguaro + the ocotillo growing in my backyard for Risk No. 2. It came out well enough that I decided to use if for my weekly Cactus Monday post on my other blog, for Risk No. 3.

Please don't think the reason for this post is to collect accolades for myself.

David McMahon of authorblog nominated it for Post of The Day, defying my expectations.

What a hoot!

I explained in my last post that the ocotillo + saguaro reminded me of my sister. My sisters and I were traumatized as children by all of our numerous relatives who insisted on kissing us on the lips and hugging us incessantly the entire time we were growing up. To this day, the two of us feel uncomfortable with hugging and kissing, even each other.

The Cacti-pus painting is a metaphor for our fear of hugging.
And then that led me to attempt to write a Shakespearean sonnet

The purpose for my posting about this is so that you can see how my taking a risk led to an unexpected, yet welcome surprise, which otherwise might not have been realized.

I'm posting a smaller image here so that you don't have to go to the post to see it (click to embiggen).

Cacti-Pus Monday
"Ocotillo Ursula"

I'll leave you with a quote for slow-blog-day Sunday:

"I dip my pen in the blackest ink, because I'm not afraid of falling into my inkpot."

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Now, back to writing the meme on things that make me happy.

Sunday, April 19, 2009


"I'm inspired...and I'm a bean counter."

Shadow is a gifted poet who had an inspiring post on her "1 door away from heaven" blog yesterday. Click here to read her poem, "Time."
The second stanza challenged me to not be afraid to take a risk every day. What a scary thought... But it was an "Aha!" moment for me. I decided to go for it and keep a journal about it. Now, down to the business of deciding the first risk I'm willing to take.

Another gifted poet is Fireblossom, of the Word Garden blog. I apprehensively decided to take the risk of sending her an email describing my thoughts about a Shakespearean sonnet. I took a deep breath before I hit "send" because I was afraid she would think I'm a quacker. She wrote back saying it was one of her favorites and shared her thoughts. Well, roll me in chocolate and call me sweetie! You mean there are peeps out there, with whom I can share my feelings about poetry, who won't think I am a pickled beet? What an amazing concept. I wrote Fireblossom back and asked her if she would like to do the same for an allegorical poem, and she said "Yes." There is no way I would have taken risk No. 1, if it had not been for Shadow's inspirational prompt in her poem.

It seems that taking one risk, can lead to another. I excitedly thought about what Risk No. 2 could be. I have been thinking that I would like to try watercolor painting. Why not? I have zillions of photos I've taken this spring - one in particular comes to mind. It is a saguaro and an ocotillo growing side-by-side. When I look at it, I think they look like sisters. The problem is an unsightly background. My idea is to create a watercolor based on the photo, minus all of the unwanted noise. Although I risk failing miserably, I'm going to give it a spirited go.

Meanwhile, Sunny, my middle son, found a camcorder on his college campus that he wanted to keep badly. That's right on par with finding a money clip with cash in it, in my mind's eye. Sunny turned it into the campus police. The cop said, "Nobody would turn this in. This owner is going to think it's gone forever." Sunny's girlfriend, Sarah, said she would have done the same thing. Sunny's friend, Willy, said he would have done the same thing for a different reason. Willy said that every time he used it, he would have felt guilty. Later, Willy teased Sunny and said he should have sold it on E-Bay. Sunny told me he was setting a moral trend for his life - riding the high horse.

Now that's inspiring.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Language of Silence

While celling honey,
He dreams of Polynesia:
A new beginning.

As a kid I wanted to be a hair stylist, flight attendant, or nurse. Reality set in because I was allergic to chemical dyes, afraid of heights, and fainted at the sight of blood. You think I'm making this up? By the fourth grade I decided I would be an artist because I won first place in a contest at the Cranbrook Institute of Arts in Michigan. I had created a 4' X 3' mosaic of life beneath the sea. It was awesome. When I was in high school I worked as a darkroom assistant for a newspaper photographer. It was a riot. I loved every minute of it. Somewhere along the line I got sidetracked. I had taken one typing class in high school and somehow I parlayed it into a 25-year career.

Then I found out quite by accident, that I'm really good at analyzing and tearing things apart, probably from years of proofreading and editing. So I stumbled into the auditing field. No one grows up saying, "Mommy, I want to be an auditor someday." It is a field only the very anal and obsessive compulsive stumble into. I've heard this from all of the other auditors I know. I enjoy some things about my second career, like you see fast results, you don't have to supervise anyone else, and you work independently. Recently I had a choice between the unemployment line and a job as the tax man. I took the latter as the lesser of the two evils. Maybe I didn't think things through?

I start my new job in one week and I am already plotting my escape. Telling people they owe the government thousands of dollars doesn't sound like a good time to me. That's why I've decided to go back to school for an MBA. It'll take two years and keep me very busy - but I am hoping it will be worth it. One of my passions is teaching, and with an MBA maybe I can teach at a community college or a business school. I'm looking at two years of hard labor on the rock but I can do it. I have to keep on blogging too because of the encouragement I give and receive. I need it.

I posted once about trying to connect with my inner silence. I think I'm starting to do that but it's happening in a very unique way. I find myself finding my silence in nature. The haiku I wrote for this post is what I imagined the bee might be thinking if he found himself in a similar position as me. What would he think? What would he do? I watched Mr. Bee climb out of the center part of the rose onto the outside petal. His wings were flapping so fast I could barely see them. I found my silence in nature that day and was able to come to resolution for my situation. What is your language of silence?

By the way, do we like the normal size letters as in this post, or do we prefer the larger print?

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Rosie the Riviter goes to Washington

Our spiritual sister, Rosie the Riveter, was the perfect iconic symbol our nation needed as it headed into World War II. No one is sure whether there was a real Rosie or not. The Rosie of the Department of Defense poster represented a female aircraft worker during the war who riveted thousands of rivets on Avenger bombers.

Prior to Pearl Harbor there were few women working outside the home. An estimated 18 million women worked in defense industries and support services by 1945, working as ship builders, machinists, welders, painters, riviters, pipefitters, police officers and nurses.

During the same time, 1.2 million blacks from the South migrated north and west for industrial defense jobs.

It was a time of incredible social change, survival and victory in spite of what the nation endured. The groundwork was laid then, when the war ended, for the civil rights and the women's rights movements, which slowly advanced across the nation in years to come.

Richmond is host of the Rosie the Riveter Memorial located at the Marina Bay harbor. There is a plaque at the memorial which reads:

"You must tell your children, putting all modesty aside, that without us, without women, there would have been no spring in 1945."

Enter Michelle Obama.

Now "Miche" Obama is being touted as the new iconic woman the nation needs to rein in a new world order. Women are being asked to show pride for a woman who reportedly is changing what it means to be a First lady (planting a vegetable garden and buying gifts for prime minister's children from the White House gift shop). Apparently she is the epitome of what a female should be: smart, svelt with toned biceps, and a superhero incognito. Women are being rallied, by the likes of Oprah, to show our support for her powerful message of equality. We should be celebrating our collective achievement of equality rather than being rallied to make it our most urgent cause. Equality is relevant; however, there are more urgent issues. Bangladesh is sinking, children are dying of Aids all over the globe, we are fighting two wars, our economy is in the toilet, the poles are melting, drug czars are taking over our U.S Mexico border, we have an energy crisis, and Russia and China are talking about creating a new currency.

Does anyone else see irony in this scenerio?

One final thought: Was it not equality that got her hubby elected to the White House?

What in the world does this have to do with dream weaving a life I can be proud of? The answer is that I must keep my head on straight and prioritize appropriately if I'm going to live a life of substance. I know first-hand that in 1975 I could not be seen at a night club with a black man, whether or not our relationship was platonic or romantic, but would be asked to leave. The law prevents this discrimination today. We have evolved with the exception of some radical extremists and, in my world, that is worth celebrating.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

'Cuz I'm The Tax Man'

The above picture shows my interpretation of the job description of a tax man. For every two cows they find you have, they take one cow and give it to Uncle Sam, so that he can give your cow to someone else.

As some of you may know, I recently found out that my job in the auditing field was slated for elimination due to budget cuts. I got the call yesterday telling me that my transfer into revenue recovery was approved. Revenue recovery, by the way, is what the tax man's line of work is officially called probably because "bloodletting" wouldn't be politically correct.

To this point I have gotten by without having to succumb to working as a tax man, which I consider an abhorrent waste of flesh. I think Mark Twain expressed my sentiment exactly:

"The only difference between a tax man and a taxidermist is that the taxidermist leaves the skin." -- Mark Twain

If someone had told me 20 years ago that I would end up a tax man, I would have disagreed insisting that it didn't meet my criteria for gainful employment; that it not be (1) illegal, (2) immoral, or (3) disgusting. I would have told them that I would rather live under a bridge with trolls, eat out of garbage cans, and end up dying from heat stroke. I guess the idealism of youth has been replaced by cold hard reality; times are tough, and a girl's gotta make a living, right? Or maybe I'm not thinking things through? What about dream weaving a life that I can be proud of?

At any rate, welcome, Susan, to the machine.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Chocolate hope ala coworker

After visiting Lilly at her Lilly’s Life blog today, and after reading her post entitled “Put some boom into the doom and gloom,” I feel compelled to share this post. Lilly writes about a friend named Gail, who is an ex-Nun who is physically challenged and who has a very unique philosophy of life. She aspires to make people feel important no matter what their station in life. Imagine what a difference that could make in all of our worlds if her philosophy were to catch on.

Two days ago, I found out that my job position is slated for the death gallows on June 30, 2009. I walked obliviously into my usual weekly one-on-one with the boss like an innocent cow to the slaughter, not knowing what he was about to tell me. Afterwards, my coworkers huddled together and whispered as coworkers often do when something of this nature takes place. Before leaving for the day I calmly told everyone within earshot, which was virtually all of us, “You all don’t have to act like my job is not being chopped. I can hear everyone whispering and it would be better if you would all talk to me.” With that, I left for the day.

I came in the next day and one of my coworkers came into my office when no one was around and gave me a pep talk and assured me that the municipality I work for will surely find me another position. Then she hugged me for what seemed to be 10 minutes. Although I basically equate a hug with a fate worse than death, I endured it, and actually appreciated the sentiment.

Then there was “Kim” who sneakily bought me some dark chocolate and almonds from See’s Candy which is known to sell the very best chocolate in Phoenix. She did not stop there; later in the day she came into my office and I merely commented that it was bad luck that my final report edit was being published today since I had not been able to concentrate and do my very best work since the news of my pending lay-off. She cheerfully offered to do a final read-through for me. I looked at her in disbelief because I believe this was the kindest and most thoughtful offer I have ever gotten from someone in the work place.

The first thing that went through my mind was to say no and thank her. But when your job is on the line, and you really don’t want something to go public knowing it is not your best work, I did what I needed to do, and that was, to say yes. She found the mistake that would have been a great embarrassment to me. I had left out the word “of” in the following sentence: “Some ___ the results are listed in Table 1.” I have never been so grateful to anyone in my career. I was so relieved and so appreciative of her kindness. Here was a coworker who for some reason decided to show some compassion towards me and in the process saved me literally from career disaster. All she did was smile and tell me that we are a team and we watch out for each other. You bet I’ll be looking for ways to watch out for her!

I plan to meditate on this philosophy of trying to make a difference in someone’s day and possibly their life. I think it’s worth the effort and the results. I feel like I learned a valuable life lesson and wish to share it with you.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Finding silence

Trying to get in touch with my inner silence is very challenging and quite honestly it's not working at all. I find myself sitting with the five minute timer on and I'm having to drag my thoughts back to silence. I think about everything including my shopping list; I can't seem to turn off the noise in my head. I am the kind of person who needs a prop; I am a very visual person who needs a stimulus even for turning off my motor.

I have a blog pal, soulbrush, who loves mandalas. In truth I never considered the value or purpose of a mandala until I met soulbrush on the web. With me it's pouts that grab my interest. I think pouts can be very beautiful; one only has to look at someone like Angelina Jolie or Mona Lisa for proof of that. Because I love pouts so much I find myself looking at every photograph, every statue, every cloud, and I see pouts. I know another person who sees hearts everywhere; in foot prints, in trees, even in food.

Do you have something you see all of the time in the ordinary?

Since finding out that soulbrush loves mandalas, I see mandalas all over the place. This felt like serendipity to me and it led me to research mandalas and I was so intrigued that I decided to share it here.

Upon reading further I found out that mandalas are used in rituals such as meditation. Now we're getting somewhere. This led me to research how mandalas are used in meditation since that is the ritual I am interested in because I am hoping it might help me find a way to get in touch with my inner silence.

I have seen lots of our churches with round stained glass windows called "rose windows" that always grabbed my attention, and now I think of mandalas when I see them. A very famous rose window was created by Henri Matisse, the great French modernist painter, for the Union Church of Pocantico Hills, New York, shown in the photograph above.

I began hoping that somehow this will help me in my dream weaving.

Then while wandering through a bookstore this past Sunday evening I saw a mandala kit called Serenity with Mandalas. It comes with 25 pre-printed mandalas and a set of colored pencils and it cost only $10. I decided to buy it thinking that I like to color anyway and it might reduce my stress at the least. Although I cannot recommend the kit due to the fact that I had to press way too hard to get any color out of the colored pencils, I did experience some satisfaction with choosing which colors to use and the focus it took to complete the entire mandala. I plan to buy some fine tip colored markers to use with my 24 remaining mandalas rather than using the colored pencils.

The mandala kit came with a booklet with really good information explaining all about mandalas and I am sharing it here.

Source: Serenity with Mandalas by Adrienne Burke

The mandala is an ancient religious symbol found in many cultures. It is usually a complex, circular design, divided into four or eight parts. The design leads the eye around the circle, allowing the viewer to discover new areas, and it eventually draws the eye to the center.

Mandalas are said to have originated thousands of years ago, before the time of Christ. Some even say there were mandalas before civilization began. Early mandalas can be found in cave drawings and rock inscriptions created by our ancestors, as a reflection of spiritual energy.

The mandala is round: a circle is the best thing to describe it, I think, but from my reading a mandala does not have to be a circle. The word itself comes from the root word manda, which means essence. The suffix la can mean container. If we put the two meanings together we can come to the conclusion that mandalas are sources of, or containers of, spiritual or divine power.

Mandalas traditionally have been used in concentration and meditation practice. The individual first creates the design of the mandala, which can incorporate pictures of deities and story lines, as well as various shapes, symbols, and colors. Through this process the mind becomes so focused that it turns off its normal chatter. The individual begins to merge the mind to the process, thus training it to be still. The conscious mind uses words to categorize and define our experiences. The unconscious mind deals in images and symbols, which give us various perceptions.

Mandalas are a powerful tool for meditation because the mind creates its strongest associations through imagery. The majority of the people in the world are visual in nature. They need to see something to relate to it. If you say or think of a flower, a person, or an event, an image will immediately arise in your mind. A mandala is intensely visual, energized with color and enlivened with design. Once pictured and absorbed into the mind, changes in your mental state occur to influence your emotions. Your perception is enhanced and a heightened state of awareness and insight can surface. What you feel is directly related to your state of being. The creation of a mandala helps to bring out the complexity of what is happening inside. The meditation enables you to perceive more clearly and helps you approach the ups and downs of daily life.