Thursday, November 11, 2010

Florida Recharge

I've been in Florida for 4 days now. As a person who loves to escape, getting a little beach house by the ocean in the low key seaside town of Juno Beach was an idea that has improved with time.  Don't get me wrong - I always sort of wanted to live near the beach and be able to walk and bike ride on flat ground and not stress myself too much - even while working out!

But it has turned out to be so much more than that.  When I am here, it's as if I get charged by the brilliant sunshine, the beautiful flora, the sound of the ocean and the lush tropical beauty that surrounds me and seems to seep into every pore of my being.  It's as if I've landed in a place where the colors are brighter, the air is clearer, my thoughts are happier and people are friendlier.  And it's not just that I heard that it dipped below thirty degrees in NYC this week or that the early hour of darkness (no more daylight savings) is depressing my friends up north.  it's just hard not to feel good with all this sunshine - no matter what is going on in your life!

From every room in this little outpost I can see turquoise blue skies or water, palm trees, bright pink flowers - and that wonderful sound of the ocean's waves - just close enough to know it's there. I also planted some gardenias around the front yard to increase the restoration of my senses.  I know for some people meditation and yoga work - but for me - this little slice of heaven - even if only for a few days - recharges me in the way that the other stuff never did. Maybe it's the full surroundsoundness of it all.

Despite the overload of work waiting to be done, and the projects and housework that clearly need tending, it's so nice to sit with a cup of coffee and be in this world. I can't help but be grateful for my good fortune when I am here - no matter what madness is going on elsewhere in my life or the world.

I wish this peace and happiness for you all!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Write in my journal, or on the blog.....hmmm

I used to pretty faithfully write in a journal; I've been writing to myself in one form or another for almost 20 years. Mostly it's been a way to talk to myself without doing so aloud. Plus, being an overanalytical type, writing my thoughts to myself seemed like a good way to air myself out - before I went public.....

And now there is blogging - which for me is a public version of journaling. It's a nicer version, devoid of the meandering ocd and overanalytic thoughts that populate most of my journal writing. There's no going back and forth among my own thoughts. If journal writing is sweats and a t-shirt, blog writing is dressing up to face the world.

And as I write in both media, I attempt to journal in my blog - but with more brevity, wit and heart. The lines are blurring and the metaphor has not escaped me. I like being more out there, and I also like reading other people's blogs.

I thoroughly enjoy their news, their expressions and their photos. It's not just entertainment - but a feeling of one-to-one connection with people I don't even really know or know well. It's a showing, telling, feeling and exploring for us all - but feels quite individual. Unlike mass market entertainment laced with spectacle and marketing experts, these blogs feel more genuine. Devoid of the heavy layers of stage make-up - that live performers wear to be seen in the back row. Blogs - feel one on one, even though they reach so many.

All of my old journals - from the ones in notebooks, to the others written on a computer - are all somewhere "in a safe place." That means generally that I will not find them again anytime soon. I'm apparantly better at writing than remembering the "safe places" where these things are hiding.....

But the blogs....well, for now anyway, I know where they are. And I look forward to reading those of people I know, and many whom I don't know. They take me places I may not have gone, or haven't been yet. Plus, when I happen to know the writer, it's great fun to know the backstory - as well as the blog story.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

The Bronx Zoo and World Community

Yesterday afternoon I was at the Bronx Zoo. What an amazing place. In the midst of the park - you couldn't tell where in the world you were. The city streets are pretty well screened and the diversity of human visitors was nothing short of amazing. I'm not fond of crowds and at first was taken aback by the sheer number of humans at the park on the cloudy day. But apart from a few outta control shrieking parents (who clearly didn't have my parents as their parents....)and a few over-tired kids, harmony prevailed.

When it comes to zoos - I'm a big game gal. Lions, tigers, giraffes, apes and monkeys. Despite a generally keen sense of direction and the availability of maps - I found the BZ isn't that easy to navigate. The signage was cute but not wonderfully effective and and there's a lot of walking if you end up retracing your steps. Thank God for the shuttles! It's a big place!

When I was there last, the live butterfly exhibit had just opened. At that time, you entered this magical enclosed tropical diorama, and were handed a color brochure about all of the butterflies inside. It was a 3D Highlights magazine experience -- trying to find the butterflies that were pictured on the sheet. My niece Chloe wouldn't let us leave until we'd seen every last one. It was wonderfully interactive.

Yesterday was different. The information sheets and inside staffers were gone. Children were running amok - climbing in the flower beds and trying to catch butterflies. Parents were part of the problem..."it's ok - just touch this one." As I watched several wounded butterflies writhing on the ground - with persistent children trying to "save" them, I felt sad; Clearly budget cuts and short staffs were leaving their mark.

The BZ has come a long way from the place I remember as a child - merely a big park with wonderful old buildings that housed animals. Now it does a lot more. It brings awareness of ecology and conservation to the masses and also shows us we really do get along and marvel at the same things.

If you haven't gone recently....I suggest a weekday - not a weekend!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Helen Thomas and Other "Entitled" Dinosaurs

When I heard about Helen Thomas's remarks and the final surrender of her coveted front row seat as the grand dame of the "elite washington press corps." mostly I felt angry. Not only because of her racist remarks, but why is a 90 year old woman - like that - still taking up space in the public domain because she is what, "an icon?"

The issue is not as many journalists claim "when is old, too old?" It's really when is enough, enough? I feel the same way about the grand Manhattan prosecutor - Robert Morgenthau. I admired, respected and liked him. But how much has he contributed lately?

In my experience, these iconic geriatrics, particularly in academia and the judicial system, draw huge paychecks they don't deserve, while sitting atop nest eggs most would envy. This selfishness alone suggests their judgment is impaired - clearly they no longer care about what's best for the organization.

Hopefully in the wake of Thomas's seat vacancy, other iconic geriatrics being harbored by non-profits and government bureaucracies will be shown the door. How can there be room for new people, new energy while these dinosaurs are still taking up too much space. If you don't move out the outmoded, there's no room to let the new in.

Plus, I'm more than slightly called that despite Thomas's public persona, clearly she's been biting her tongue for years. A woman to be admired? Sounds more like Andy Rooney of 60 Minutes. A close friend was on his production staff and said he was far from that kindly old man with observations. Can't NBC find a pundit without only an old-timer's perspective?

I recently talked with my daughter's college roommate who would desperately love to teach art in elementary school but can't find work. Meanwhile I know a third great art teacher who just shows up. She really could care less - but has tenure, a 6 figure paycheck and no real chance of being axed. She won't quit because she only has another 10 years for a full pension. It doesn't take an MBA to see what's wrong with this picture and how it's affecting our economy.

My advice to the other geriatrics taking up good jobs - you know who you are - you make the big bucks, ride on past glory and do very little (if any) work. Why not clear the way for someone else to have a chance in the sun?

That's my take. What's yours?

Friday, May 28, 2010

MyTake(andYours): California Dreamin'

MyTake(andYours): California Dreamin'

California Dreamin'

I'm here on the west coast visiting my LA daughter and marveling at the good weather, fragrant flowers and well, traffic...and I haven't even been on a freeway yet. Just getting there seems to be an angst driven process. And yet people here seem a lot more chill than they do on the east coast - well to a degree anyway.

Yesterday I got to meet many cool people from AVSquad - a movie trailer making place. It was inspiring to meet so many creatives and discover that even though they all have jobs in creative fields, their side projects abound.

It got me wondering how much more creative percolation goes on if your day job and side dreams align. Would I work on my novel more if I heard my co-worker talking about finishing his screenplay? Can't help but think the answer is yes. But then I learned from my daughter that when what you love (e.g. music, movies etc.) becomes a stressor related to your job, it can burn out the love. Good to keep in mind!

Mostly am glad for the sunshine, change of scenery and my daughter. Her smile and creative projects are fuel for my soul. And the celebrity sitings are sort of fun too. Yesterday we had coffee at Starbucks with Creed from "The Office." True, we weren't sitting at the same table, but when I first saw him I felt like I was seeing an old friend; like I knew more people out here.... maybe my father's dementia is rubbing off....

Monday, May 24, 2010

My Next Move

I have moved around a lot – on the outside it must’ve looked like I had ants in my pants. Somehow in my apartment dweller days, it seemed it was easier to move, than wash windows.

But as I morphed from renter to owner, I came to see 7 years in one place was my limit. My pastime is reading “homes for sale” ads and imagining what I would do in terms of renovation if I acquired them. Sometimes I think my true calling was to be a real estate rehabber; but that would be a very stressful self-admission that I’ve been in the wrong career now for some time.

For me moving is like other people changing clothes. I want something different to live in - not wear. When I was a new mom, climbing the corporate ladder and “having it all" (ha ha ha), my moves were tied to a room for another child, a backyard to fit a swingset and a bigger better place overall. I always seemed to want more "space." A wise therapist once informed me that maybe I needed more space, but not a bigger house?

Once I tried on Seattle. But despite a number of dear friends, not enough sunshine. Too many cloudy days wouldn't suit me; I felt like I dodged a bullet on that one - it's harder to sell houses than return clothes...though I had to do it once quite quickly after I lost a job!

I am comfortable where there’s a lot of nature, water and the ability to see things going on in life outside my door. I like to live near a “town” where I can know the shopkeepers and a few neighbors. When I am too far into the woods or away from a large body of water – I feel mildly freaked out.

It turns out that I need to be living in a place that feels beautiful to me or it's like my hard wiring is out of whack. That feeling of beauty I get in my home is like what sunshine and water are to plants. Nourishment - pure and simple.

When I was 30 moving often involved more - land, bedrooms etc. Now I want bedrooms without a flight of stairs in case I need knee surgery. In my married days, a move's "stretching" or reaching almost always referred to finances. Today it may mean putting up with less - like not getting that extra bedroom or a coveted garage.

Yesterday I revisited a condo development where I once lived. I had a chance to rent or buy the same style unit I used to own, only this time with a better view and a garage! I'd have to essentially re-do the entire place – but I’d done that with the other unit. I was experienced with the exact floorplan!

Instantly I wanted to by-pass renting entirely and jump wholeheartedly into owning and renovating. After all, that river view was gorgeous and I could finally have it! It was thrilling to know it - and know it was within reach. But within an hour of looking at the place I started to retreat. I got a hit of Groundhog Day with Bill Murray. Hadn't I done this before? Did I really want to do it again?

Within a few hours, I had my “Final Answer.” No this wasn’t Groundhog Day. I didn’t want to repeat the whole thing. Yes, I’d wanted a river view – but that was then. Now I'm jonesing for a new place with more space and a river view. It's good to know I can keep moving forward and not detouring to retrace some old footprints. That river view had become like the white go-go boots I wanted but never got. I'd moved on and so had my definition of what made me happy.