Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Eleanor Roosevelt Once Said......

“Beautiful young people are accidents of nature, but beautiful old people are works of art.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

This quote has stayed with me for many, many years. I am not even sure when I catalogued it in my mental Rolodex of favorite quotes. I interpret this quote as such: When we are young, our physical appearance is largely determined by genetics. Some can be altered through diet, exercise, grooming, etc. However, the “fairest” faces are pre-determined. After a lifetime of either smiling and laughing or alternatively giving dirty looks behind someone’s back and frowning, the face becomes a canvas and tells the story of that person; a story that cannot be hidden.

Take a moment to think about the elderly people you see; the old man with the twinkle in his eyes and the sunshine wrinkles that frame them. Some people call these wrinkles "crows feet"…I am not sure why. This evokes something dark and foreboding; something unwelcoming, but they come from intense smiling! The man with the sunshine wrinkles was that guy who always did random acts of kindness. Not because it was on his “to-do” list as part of a new trend to find the path to enlightenment (not that there is anything wrong with this… whatever works!), but because it is just who he is. He waved at his neighbors in the morning and smiled at strangers. You knew instantly that this man was approachable and kind by the aged canvas, his face. Now think about the woman who was a stunning beauty; a kept woman who sat with her girlfriends smoking cigarettes and gossiping. Now, the skin around her lips is wrinkled. Her eyes dull and the skin on her face looks ashen despite the attempts to give it color with rouge. She can no longer hide the disdain she has for those around her with an instant, albeit insincere smile. Her canvas tells the story of her life. Painted in oil, it once glimmered brightly for all to admire. New layers painted many times over the years have dried rigidly and cracked.

I am not sure if my interpretation is what Eleanor Roosevelt meant when she said these words, nor have I taken the time to research this quote, but that is the great thing about a quote or a song lyric; it speaks in many different ways to an array of people at different points in time.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Practicing What We Preach...

The thought occurred to me that if anyone is reading this, it is likely a friend or acquaintance of mine. If not, the thought that will follow would never even enter your mind. What I write is not meant to place judgement on any person other than myself. My blogs are simply a collection of thoughts and introspection, funny stories and reflection. If any of them apply to you and you like my view-point/way of thinking about it, than consider it yours!

I decided to start writing a blog because I think constantly and I learn from my mistakes. What could possibly be better than to learn from one's experiences than to share and possibly be the catalyst for change in another person's life. This is not because I am arrogant or think my way of thinking is right. To the contrary, I am quite self-conscious about sharing my point of view, especially on a forum such as the "world wide web"! However, my point of view and opinions are just a few more to add to the billions out there. ALL points of view (in my opinion) should not be taken at face value, but considered, digested, deconstructed and reconstructed with adjustments if necessary.

So, a thought that has been rolling around in my head for a few weeks now that seems appropriate to interject into this blog is....

"If we hold others to high standards, then practicing what we preach becomes a labor of life."

....The reason I have not yet shared this is because the thought is a work in progress. It is not quite right. Practicing what we preach is actually a joy, not a labor (again, in my opinion). It can be tough sometimes, but it is satisfying. On that note, I add one of my favorite Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens) quotes:

"Always do right. This will gratify some people and astonish the rest."

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

The Lesson to Learning Life's Lessons....

July 18, 2013

Life’s lessons cannot be learned in a minute, an hour or even a lifetime. Do not despair, a sufficient number of life’s lessons can be learned if one brings awareness to his/her actions, interactions, adventures and misadventures.

This morning’s sequences of actions and misadventures gave birth to quite a few of life’s lessons…

Pappy, Sweetie and Buddy, the 3 dogs my sister rescued, live at my brother’s house (because he has a large backyard). I recently moved back to Nashville and reside here as well with my dog Abigail. She is the inside dog. So, this morning’s life lessons began with the thought of cleaning out my car from my recent beach trip. I had a camping chair in the backseat of my car that had to be removed. With my beach chair over one shoulder and my gym bag over the other, I started down the driveway toward the gated fence. Just yesterday, I came through the back gate carrying only my small computer bag and there was just enough space for little Houdini, aka Pappy, to slide by my legs and take off like a little muscly, black rocket bolting across the manicured front lawn, rows of monkey grass, around the large shrubs that frame either side of the driveway and out of sight. Even with this recent experience, I mindlessly entered the gate toting as much as I could, for efficiency’s-sake. Needless to say, an escape artist made his way around my feet. Surprised that it was the caramel colored rescue Buddy and not Pappy, I turned around; at which point all three dogs made a break for it. I hurried in the back door and up the stairs, grabbed the leashes and headed out the front door while I thought, “Gees, it would’ve been so much easier to come through the front door…. Do I take my car like Phil did yesterday when Pappy escaped? Nah, I don’t want to get dog smell in my car.” After making my way down the street on foot, I realized why my amazing, Eagle Scout stepbrother took his truck. Dogs are quicker than humans, at least those dogs and this human! I returned to the house for my car and prayed the dogs did no get out of sight before I could catch up with them. Or worse, make their way to the main roads. I caught up with them and the games began.

I would get out of the car and edge closer to the dogs while calling for them, being mindful not to shut the door all of the way in case the doors decided to automatically lock and leave my running car locked in the middle of the street with the extra set of keys in the center console. (Lesson 1:  Do not keep extra set of keys in your car.) I was able to get little Houdini on the first round and coaxed him to hop into the backseat of my car. I then attempted to catch the other two creatures and they bolted once I was within arm’s length. I quickly hopped back in the car and made my way to the end of the block. We were now only two blocks from a main road. Feeling a mild anxiety growing, my mind started to race, “Would I ever be able to catch these dogs?” At the time, I couldn’t remember their names, so I couldn’t call for them with anything other than a sweet voice and terms of endearment.

As they approached the end of the street, I felt my anxiety grow. I drove down to the end of the street and parked horizontally to produce a mental barrier for the dogs. It seemed to work, they turned around and started heading the other way. They made there way down the block at which point I returned to the car and removed it from blocking the path of any mid-morning drivers. Pappy sat in the backseat awaiting the reunion with his friends who he could undoubtedly hear frolicking in the streets. Success! Hearing the whines of his caged friend, the furry black dog that looks like a small grizzly bear approached the front passenger door. Throwing my vehicle into park, I leaned over to open the front door. She jumped into the car and I pulled the door shut. She then climbed over the middle console, pulling with her front paws, clicking her nails and kicking her back paws as she struggled to gain traction to join her friend in the back seat. All I could think was “Oh gees, my leather.”

Returning my focus to the task at hand, I slowly edged down the street. An idea popped into my head, “I could use one of these dogs to coax Buddy into the car. I put the car in park, grabbed a leash and took the tiny grizzly from the back seat. As I shut the door, Sweetie was tugging on her leash. The tugging stopped and I realized I had a leash connected to a collar minus a small grizzly bear. Sweetie trotted back to meet her friend and I watched as the two escapees happily cantered away.

Ever the optimist, I decided to herd the dogs like sheep. I skillfully maneuvered my compact car, driving the escape artists around the corner and down my brother’s street. It worked! As they caught sight of the house, they darted towards the back fence. Momentarily leaving the 3rd dog in the car, I quickly opened the gate and let the dogs in. I returned to the car and grabbed Pappy, returned him to his friends and chuckled about my inefficient morning as I climbed the back stairs and entered the cool house. All’s well, ends well.

Not so fast, the fiasco continued. “Ahhhhh!!!” I scream as the black bullet, Pappy, darts past my feet into the house. “What the …???” Startled and offended by the encroachment of her territory, my Baby Sprockets, Queen of Mommy’s Frontier (aka Abigail, my 12 year old, 12 lb Pekingese), begins to ferociously bark, as ferociously as a dog with a mouth the size of a walnut can. I know my protective little dog[1] and I knew this was not going anywhere good. She then began to snap at the feet of this dog that is three times her size. The growl in Pappy’s bark grew as he began to fight back. I firmly pushed Abigail out of harm’s way as she slid across the wooden floors and came to rest abruptly and rather forcefully against the piano bench. I grabbed Pappy by the collar and guided her out of the house and out the back door. When I returned to the room where the fight took place, Abigail was still crouched up in the spot where she came to rest with a look of a bruised ego in her eyes. I scooped her up and we cuddled while I reminisced on the morning. (Lesson 2: Sometimes it is necessary to push those away that we love in order to keep them from harm. They often do not understand at the time, but time and love heals most things.) After a few minutes of cuddling, Abigail was ready to play! 

Recap of Life’s Lessons Learned Today:

1.     Do not keep your extra set of keys in the car.
2.     Sometimes it is necessary to push those away that we love in order to keep them from harm.
3.    Overarching Theme: Awareness/Mindfulness – If we take the time to slow down just a little and encourage ourselves to be present in our actions and thoughts, we can be more efficient and effective.

[1] Pekingese get their name from the ancient city of Peking, now called Beijing. Pekingese were held sacred in ancient China and could only be owned by royalty. At that time, the punishment for stealing a Pekingese was death. Pekingese came to Europe as a result of war. When the British overtook the Chinese Imperial Palace in 1860, they returned home with several of the dogs. Pekingese are fiercely loyal and protective of their owners.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Quote-Like Thotz

Eventually a social butterfly's wings get tired and it finds a place to rest.” 
 - August 5, 2013

Is the opposite of faith (defined as belief without evidence), disbelief despite reality? 
- August 1, 2013

"There is a thin line between arrogance and confidence." 
- Sometime in 2007
I remember walking the from the main building to the pre-owned sales store in order to attend to my daily duties. I will spare any reader the mind-numbing details of my "big-brother duties" as administrator for the CRM system. Instead, I will jump right ahead to the origin of this piece of food for thought.
There was a man in his late twenties with neatly cut hair, who was usually clean-shaved or sported a light 5 o'clock shadow. He typically dressed in dress slacks, a button down shirt and an argyle sweater vest. If this doesn't paint a clear image, envision a J Crew model; that's him. I was painfully shy around him, not just because of his looks, but because of his intelligence and his confidence; or, was it arrogance? He often sat around with his feet kicked up on a desk while doing a crossword puzzle. He had this sort of freedom because he was a top performer. I will never forget the day his humility shined through and his confidence became apparent. I developed a new found respect for him. 

All of the guys were standing around "ragging" on each other as they often did. I walked in just in time to hear someone say to the argyle-clad guy, "Dude, if your girl told you to jump, you would ask how high?" 

He shrugged his shoulders, smirked ever-so-slightly and with a twinkle in his eye he responded, "So what. I love her."