Inspiration

Something’s Gotta Give

I’ve always had a natural inclination to look for (and find) the pattern in things….the webby gossamer strings that connect one thing, one person, one event to another to produce a certain outcome.

So it’s no surprise that I’m here writing on the blog again after 9 months in absentia.  Why? Well, I’ll have to go back a bit.

Over two years ago and after nearly 9 years (oh, gawd), I dumped my Facebook account. For real.  I say that because, like any addict worth their weight in denial, I had taken “breaks” and “vacations” and “time outs” from the platform only to jump right back into the energetic cesspool within a short period of time.  I did this over and over and over again. I uninstalled/re-installed the app on my device of choice more times than I can count, and each time I went back, I felt weaker. More powerless.

Hooked.

But in December of 2016, after a long and increasingly painful journey, I shut ‘er down for good and never went back. Praise Jesus! And I did this in order to draw up positive, real-time life boundaries I hoped would greatly impact my well-being and relationships.

The positive effects could fill an entire blog post.  But it didn’t stop there.

Last year I ditched my Twitter account after a shorter, albeit equally dysfunctional time. Anyone who is even vaguely familiar with the cultural changes that the US has undergone in the last 3 years, particularly as they relate to social media and the “mob mentality”, will understand what I mean. I kept engaging in The Crazy, and I didn’t want to. I didn’t like it. It’s not who I AM.

Again, the positive effects were felt almost immediately. But I’m still not through.

This year, as new as it is, brought with it yet another tie I felt compelled to unbind.  I un-installed the Instagram app from my phone and now only check it infrequently from my PC – and only because I have kids in another state and they post there. It supplements the texts and phone calls that feel too few and far between for this Mama.

The overall impact of De-SMing my life over the last 2+ years has been incredible and, I believe, long reaching.  Gone is the neurotic twitch to check my phone every few minutes. (A habit I now find annoying when others to it – sort of like the self-righteousness exhibited in some ex-smokers or new vegans. I’m trying hard not to be that way).

I’ve also said goodbye to the impulse to make every important (or, dare I say, vaguely routine) moment of life documented, photographed, tweeted, or uploaded.  I no longer feel drawn into leaving passive-aggressive comments.  You know the type….those “helpful” little critiques or suggestions, the “friendly” countering of another’s ideas or opinions, the pretend prescience making me think I could possibly know the full intention of a poster’s thoughts from a minimally worded status update that may or may not hold grammatical or spelling errors.

I’m no longer on the receiving end of these things, either.

In the free space I’ve created by wiggling out of the Web, I am very rooted in real time, real life. I’ve also rediscovered a couple of my favorite pass times:  Reading (these days to the tune of 2-4 books a week) and writing.  

The two go hand-in-hand, you know.  At least, for me this is true.  Hindsight has shown that feeling inspired to write is directly proportional to the time I spend reading.  Not just skimming an article here or there, but a fully submerged, time-warping dive into a good story.  The kind of story where you see the characters come to life in your mind’s eye, moving through their sorrows, joys and adventures with them, and are left feeling slightly (ok, greatly) annoyed when the demands of life intrude. Time to get on with your chores, go to an appointment, or take a shower.

And so, I’m writing. After playing around on a cookbook for some time in a “scrapbook” format, for the last two months I’ve been putting recipes and photos together in a systematic way in a program that allows for printing.  I’m super excited about it and figure I’m about two-thirds done with the initial input, with nearly 50 recipes in a half dozen categories.  Who knew that my long held habit of photographing the food I made would one day payoff?  Turns out that I already had nice photos for most of my “important” recipes, the cover art, and all but 2 of the dividers.  My goal is to have it finished and printed in time to give copies to a select few family and friends by years’ end.  Christmas presents, perhaps. And I think my family is enjoying this journey as well, as I’ve been cooking up things I want to add to the book, just so I can take photos of the ones I still need.

Writing this cookbook, which includes snippets of personal and familial history and antidotes, has given me a sense that I will leave my kids and grand kids a “legacy” of sorts, linking one generation to another.   My hope is that, along with actually USING the thing, they will find it to be a source for feelings of connection to their ancestors and finding the warm soul-fuzzies – the GIFT – to be found in feeding people good food.

Of course, it’s equally possible that,  over time, my book will get shoved to the back of a closet or boxed up for storage, eventually finding its way to the trash or donated to the local thrift shop.  My ego demands that I hope not, although in the later case at least there would be the chance someone like me, someone who collects vintage and unusual cookbooks, would snap it up.

Maybe.

But for now, I don’t care what happens TO the book. The main thing is that I’m putting it together.  Finally.

And I’m writing again.

Life, Women, Writing

When Victims Speak

You’d have to have been living deep in the Amazonian rain forest not to have heard about the meltdowns currently taking place in Hollyweird and Washington, D.C…..two of the most corrupt, degenerate geographical locations in all of America, in my opinion.

Harvey Weinstein.  Anthony Weiner.  Kevin Spacey.  Roy Moore.  George Takei.  George H. W. Bush.  Mark Halperin.  Louis C.K.  Andrew Kreisberg.

The list of the accused is, literally, endless.

There’s nothing new about  sexual abuse.  What is “new” is the current climate that is facilitating the “outings” of the abusers themselves.  Long over do, the drama we’re seeing represents only the tip of the iceberg.  Continue scratching beneath the glamorous surface of the entertainment industry, for example, and one will find a literal hell of pedophilia, sex trafficking, and every form of depravity possible.

My own journey as a sexual abuse victim started when I was about 12. Oh, the awkward days of newly forming breasts!  I remember how painful my baby boobs were, and how embarrassed I was that these not-quite-bra-worthy  buds showed under my t-shirts.   The end of my innocence came at one holiday gathering when my Uncle Jim, deep in his cups, decided to impart some of his vast wisdom to me.  Leaning over, he tweak one swollen nipple and said, “This is all the boys are going to be interested in.”

I was shocked, embarrassed and ashamed.  No one else noticed his impropriety, being greatly in their cups as well, and turning, I ran from him.  I never told my mother.

As I grew older, sexual predators grew bolder.  At 16, I was explicitly propositioned by the fathers of two of my closest girlfriends  (emphasis on the word “explicitly”).  One  groping me as well.  Then there was the guy who ran the hamburger joint I worked at.  He was an ugly SOB with one milky eye, a body like Jabba the Hutt, and a connection with the towns’ mobster – Freddie The Leg Breaker.   When his propositions didn’t work, he tried insults and shame:  “You’ll never be good for ANYTHING but sex.”

I didn’t tell that, either.

Working in primarily male dominated industries, I literally “grew up” having to deal with inappropriate behavior at the hands of men.  There were lewd photos left on my desk, suggestive  “jokes”, and bold comments about my looks or specific body parts.

In my late 30s, I became the focus of a very powerful man who ran the Silicon Valley company I worked for.  He was the President and I was his assistant. The previous President, a man I had also worked for, got drunk at a company dinner dance and attempted to grab and kiss me in front of everyone.  That was NOTHING compared to the new guy.  Because he traveled the world, he would call me at all hours of the day or night under the pretext of ‘business’. He was married but SO UNHAPPY (aren’t they all?), he explained, and just wanted to talk to me.  His pursuit was relentless. Towards the end, he even tried to bribe me into leaving my job to become his mistress, offering a quarter million dollars in cash, an paid-for apartment and college funds established for both my children. As a single mother of two, making maybe $35,000 a year, the offer was tempting.  For about 60 seconds.

I never told Mom OR Human Resources.  I didn’t report him because (a) I knew the company would protect the Wunderkid at all costs (and would crucify me in the process) and (b) I REALLY REALLY needed my job.   I had kids to support. Thinking back, would I have done it differently?  Probably not.

I was too afraid.  Much like the women who are just now telling their stories, 40 years later, I imagine…

And it wasn’t just the workplace.  Twice in my 20s I thought I was going to be raped – once by a stranger who broke into my house and once by the roommate of a friend where I was staying the night.  Then there was Bubba.

Bubba (his real name was James) was a good ol’ boy from Southeast Texas who was almost like a member of our family.  He and my mom had grown up together, and I had grown up hearing wonderful stories of their childhood.  Bubba was  like an uncle, up until the day he attempted to stick his tongue down my throat at a wedding reception.  Then he became just another jerk.

I didn’t tell Mom about that, either.

I’m not exaggerating when I say every single woman I know has an experience of sexual abuse to share…..women who have been held hostage, raped, abused, beaten.  And not one of us ever went public with our stories.  We confided in each other and, later, our therapists.  We held our tongues, and dealt with it, each in our own way.

Now, in 2017, things seem to be changing.   How brave the women  (and men, like Cory Feldman and Anthony Rapp) for coming forth with their stories.   What courage!  When one woman stands up and speaks out, as we have seen, she emboldens others to do the same.  Collectively, as women, there is tremendous vindication when even ONE sexual predator is tried and found guilty of his crimes…NOT in the court of public opinion or social media, but for real.

A sexual abuse survivor who speaks out is a harbinger of strength and justice for all.  ALL of us, who number in the hundreds of millions, who kept silent for our own reasons.  The thing is, I’m  not sure the world is ready for the shear number of us, if we ever did ALL speak out.  1 in 5 women alive has been a victim of sexual misconduct.  Which makes me I wonder….

Do 1 in 5 men have his own story to tell….. of being an abuser?

Or of being a victim?

Inspiration, Life, Relationships, Spirituality, Women, Writing

Once Upon Design

 

 

Yesterday, I was clever

So I wanted to change the world.

Today, I am wise,

So I am changing myself.”

– Rumi

 

 

There’s been lots of changing going on around here.

Even before I quit/let go at my job, I was making some changes in my home life.  Not the “relationship” impacting changes with my husband, daughter and grandson (although, I supposed in a way that is ALWAYS happening, and all positive).

These changes pertain to my/our physical space.  I am the “home maker’ in the family. Always have been, always will be simply because it’s who I am and I love doing it.  I “home up” where ever I find myself, be it a teeny tiny one bedroom apartment in the city, a half finished cabin in the desert, or a more roomy home in the Burbs.  I can’t remember ever NOT arranging my space, making do with what I had, trying to make things as nice as possible with what was at hand.

After living with me for so long, my family is no longer surprised to wake up in the morning to find the furniture rearranged, hutches done up differently, or artwork hung some other way.  Don’t get me wrong.  In many cases, once I’ve found the IT Spot for how I want a china cabinet to look, for example, I may not change anything about it for years!

But there’s this other thing that happens.  Early in the morning, while everyone else is sleeping and I’m having my coffee/meditation time, I tend “LOOK” at stuff.  If I’m in the kitchen, I look at the antique hutch that holds my vintage table and bar ware, and my big glass canisters holding baking ingredients.  I might wander into the dining room and look at the corner units I have in there, and check out the way things are set up, or into the living room where I have a lighted display case full of Carnival Glass.

Something about the way one of these hutches is arranged will bug me until I reach that “OK” moment with how it looks.  I’ll keep arranging and rearranging until my sensibilities tell me to stop, even if it’s just a minor adjustment.  It’s unclear whether this need to find “OK” is just having a natural eye for design, a need for control, or needing to tap into a Feng Shui feel, but

It’s

Just

Something

I

Do

And I’m ok with that. I like order, and have a natural bent towards organization. I also believe that our exterior space impacts our interior space.  Having an organized life – be it at home or in business – reduces waste, stress and time. (Side note:  Orderly does NOT mean dust free.  Ha!)

And visa versa, as well.  Our inner state can have a direct impact on our outer world. You know this is true if you’ve ever lived with someone with mental health challenges, be it depression, anxiety or some other mood disorder.

ANYWAY, when the mood strikes to change things up, I like to follow my inclinations and this past week I took advantage of  an empty living room to make a BIG change (furniture moved so Mr. Man could clean the carpets).  Seeing the empty “canvas” in front of me, I got to work right away.  A couple new pieces of furniture, a new rug, and Wha Laa!  I just put the finishing touches on a whole new look.  The room looks more spacious, there’s plenty of seating while still being homey and welcoming, and all just in time for the holidays.  And I reached OK!

I mentioned “control” as a possible motive and, in the case of my living room, there might be a little to that (although our old couch WAS getting a bit worn in places…) There is so much happening “OUT THERE” right now that I have no control over.  For example, we recently got the news my grandson has ADHD, Dyslexia and CAPD, and that he’s being bullied at his new school.  Other than support him emotionally and educationally here at home (and a TON of prayer), there’s little I can do to change that.  I also can’t change the ever rising cost of living here in Southern California, the fact that ageism is alive and well in the job market, my aging mother’s continuing decline or what’s happening on the global political scene.

But, I am not powerless.   With just a little money, a lot of elbow grease and even more imagining,  our home has undergone a positive shift.  Almost every room in the house has now undergone some sort of change that support and assist all of us in differing ways…AND that look really cool.

Which makes me feel good….Makes me feel like I have a purpose and that there is a PLAN for good things for all concerned .   Which, in turn, makes me feel at peace.

And inner peace is where it’s at.