Sunday, April 26, 2009

Well, I did it again; party planning.

Remember some time ago I told you I was asked to plan a baby shower? The request was totally unexpected and was not in my frame of mind at the time. I agreed to do whatever was needed anyway. So, I had to play a part in getting the baby shower done but I lead the charge. I rolled up with reserves of things that weren't on my to do list for the event and made the whole thing fly. Just my thing! Besides, it is important to be prepared, and its family.

Well, we had the baby shower today and it went very well. My guests were pleased and the celebrant was very happy. I guess I will keep getting these events under my belt and build up to a money making business. I am so tired! It was a hectic day for me but a very satisfying day. All of the pieces came together, the weather was great and the company was delightful.

Hey, I'm available to plan and host your event. I am ready, from invitations to clean up and any piece in between, a full service operation. Get on board with the hostess with the mostest! That's what I was called today! Thank you. You guys makes it easy for me to make you happy.

Every one loved the party favor we gave them in the box above. What do you think, nice box, eh?

Thursday, April 23, 2009

The House on Mango Street 25th anniversary

I had the wonderful pleasure of meeting Ms. Sandra Cisneros today at a book signing session at our local Rec Center. What a treat! This is the 25th anniversary of the publishing of The House on Mango Street. She is promoting the 25th edition with a new introduction which talks about how she wrote the book.

Sandra Cisneros is the most delightful person. She is a real gentle soul who is candid, funny and inspiring. Her talk was easy, comfortable and engaging. I think we all felt that she was talking to us, just a conversation. I loved her voice, such childlike idyllic tones as she read the chapters in The House on Mango Street. It was a very nice experience.

I went with my kids and brought along a copy of the book. My older daughter read The House on Mango Street in eighth grade, back in 2000. Of course I read the book then too. I was happy to have been able to dig up our copy of the book for the event. I called my daughter who is away in college to tell her about our trip. She was just as excited to learn of our event as we were to be there. I fondly discussed our first encounters with the book with her and talked about her favorite stories in the book.

The evening was replete with good memories for me but I have some favorite parts. A special part of the evening for me was her story about the times she spent with her mother as a young girl. She told the story about how her mom dragged them, her and her brothers, to the library before they knew how to write. The library trip was a regular event for them and they each had a library card. She recalled making weekly trips to the library as she grew older to borrow and return books. As she told us this 'story', I looked over at my daughter because that story brought a smile to my face and heart. The story reminded me of myself with my kids when they were younger. My daughter ignored my glance as if to say, “Yeah mom I know. We did that!” I thought that was cute. I think this piece also made an impact on my daughter. At the end of the session my daughter asked me for her library card that I had been holding for her all these years. She would ask me for the card, use it and return it to me to keep as we did through out the early years. This time she took the card from me and put it into her wallet. Hmmmm, the end of an era? New beginnings!

My son pulled out an assignment sheet from his bag when we joined the line for the autograph. He had gotten an assignment to do from the book, The House on Mango Street. What a coincident! It was cute how he showed the assignment to Ms. Cisneros and got her signature on it. She signed our book too. How cool was that! Of course we got a picture too! A great evening and a good experience for everyone in the room. I was sorry that my other daughter wasn’t there as well.

Another favorite of the evening for me was the question and answer period. We were fortunate to get practical and excellent tips on writing and finding our passion and how to avoid writers block. She told us to find joy in our lives. We should find what is different or the thing that makes us special and apart from everyone else and focus on that and we will avoid writers block. She shared her favorite authors with us and some favorite books. Thick Nacht Hahn, is an important writer in her life. She said that his works helped her to change her life. I thought this was an awesome statement so I checked him out and liked what I saw. I will share a quote from one of his books with you.

If in our daily life we can smile, if we can be peaceful and happy, not only we, but everyone will profit from it. If we really know how to live, what better way to start the day than with a smile? Our smile affirms our awareness and determination to live in peace and joy. The source of a true smile is an awakened mind.
From Peace Is Every Step: The Path of Mindfulness in Everyday Life, Bantam reissue, ISBN 0-553-35139-7

Sandra Cisneros is on tour so check to see if she will be near you and go see her. Bring your book or purchase one at the event and line up for her signature. It was great, I'm still beaming.

Sandra Cisneros is writing a new novel and I will be waiting to get my hands on a copy. She is real and she is fun. Thanks NoMAA for putting this event together.

See The House on Mango Street on my Shelfari bookshelf.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Getting closer to the workout

Hooray! I got my stuff!

I made my way to the mall after work today to pick up my bag that I inadvertently left in the store on Saturday. No problem. I walked into the store, told my story, handed over the reciept and was given my bag, stuff intact. I didn't do any more shopping there today. I just grabbed the bag and made my way out of the store. After all I still have other issues to resolve before I can begin my fitness program.
I made two stops on the way home.

1. I stopped at a local gym along the way to check it out. I collected their info and took a short tour of the facility. It was vey busy with lots of people seriously working but with a smile.

2. I stop at my favorite market where I buy whole grains, organic foods and really fresh and lovely foods. I picked up a few items that I needed and a couple of thing I wanted to try.
I think I am working through the process in my mind, and crossing items off my ' to resolve' list as well.

What do you think? I'm getting close to being ready?

For one thing I though I would make it back to the store by today to pick up my bag. I did.
Just m-a-y-b-e I might do a little more that the walk down the block.
I might really start it off on Wednesday.

Lets see! Who do you have your money on? huh?!

Monday, April 20, 2009

My workout gear caper

Have you ever heard the saying your mind can play tricks on you? Well I had a big mind trick this week end which left me wondering if the mind can be that tricky.

I haven’t been able to get into the swing of a fitness routine for some time now but I’ve been planning on it. I am all about health and wellness. In fact I am one of those people who are always reading the magazines, or watching the programs or joining the conversations about diet and exercise but is a poor practitioner.

I've been really thinking about starting a fitness routine to try to improve my health and reduce my weight. Mind you, I know what to do and how but I just haven’t. So I've been on this kick for a couple of months now; looking at gyms, TV shows on FitTv , reading news clips about diet and exercise but haven’t started anything. Well, I’ve been doing a little more walking lately. I have a lot of things to do before I will be ready for my program. I have to set a schedule, make sure it will be regular, figure out where, the cost of the gym, travel time and opening hours. I will also have to figure out the space in my house to use as an option, or find an outdoor path, finalize some other time consuming things etc. I need workout clothes! I have to resolve all of these things so I can start, I tell myself.

This Saturday while I was out shopping with my friend, who is a 3-4 day a week gym person, I bought 2 workout outfits. I spotted the clothes and begun the conversation about my plans to start exercising regularly. She was very encouraging but not forceful. I was very happy with the items and talked about getting started. Of course I have plenty of stuff that I could use, appropriately, for exercise but you know how the mind works. I would eliminate that need or issue. I picked up some other unrelated stuff in the store and headed to the cash register. I paid and waited for my items to be bagged. Happily we walked out of the store with the bags, thinking I had all of the goods. You will not believe what happened, or will you?

This is a really funny and perhaps a sad commentary about my readiness to get fit. Or maybe it’s coincidental. I actually left the store without the bag with the workout clothes. I got everything else home except the work out clothes. The Cashier did not give me my bag with the workout clothes - maybe I didn’t pick up all of the bags from the counter so the workout clothes were left. What do you think that is telling me? Did I trick myself into leaving the work out clothes in the store because I am really not 'ready'? Mentally I haven't reached the 'tipping point'? I'm in denial about my fitness and health condition or this was jsut a simple mistake. Should I sit around and ponder the situation or just get busy and work up a sweat?

Well, I will go to pick up my bag tomorrow and see where it leads. Hopefully I will get physical on Wednesday.

Why Should we exercise
According to About Women Health, Studies have shown that regular exercise significantly increases life expectancy and improves overall health. Regular physical activity reduces the risk of cancer, heart disease, and osteoporosis. It can reduce or improve symptoms of menopause, PMS, diabetes, as well as numerous other conditions. An improved self-image and increased energy level are frequent added benefits of exercise.

I want improved health, self image and increased energy level! If you aren’t on a regular fitness routine, its time you get started too. Maybe we can support each other towards better health. You might motivate me to not only get started but to stay with it. What I know is this, it is important to talk to your doctor first and check out the vitals. Get yourself some gear as a motivation, set a schedule get a healthy food plan going and let’s get fit, happy and healthy together.

Here is another article, for good measure with 4 Good Reasons to Exercise by BNET just to get you there.

See you on the threadmill!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

A long awaited Girls day out

On Saturday afternoon I went to meet my friend for lunch. We had been planning this get together since last December. Somehow we managed to push the time forward for various reasons; illness, work, scheduled travels etc. I’d been thinking about calling her since mid-week to set up our meeting for Saturday. I wanted to do something different this Saturday instead of the same old Saturday stuff besides our lunch outing was well overdue. It was a very good day; the sun was shining, it was about 70 degrees and calling me out to play. It’s a good day for the outdoors and fun and laughter.

Of course I woke up and it’s Saturday morning and I didn’t make the call. As I sat over coffee thinking about how I lost another opportunity to visit with Barb my phone rang. Oh yeah, it was her! Weird right! Of course I was stunned and I blurted out, “you’re gunna live a long time! I was just thinking about you”! (The old saying, right) I explained my failures this week and we laughed about it. We went ahead and set a time to meet. Yeah!

We met at two o’clock and had a great day. We talked, laughed and enjoyed the company over lunch at Panera Bread. We discussed all sorts. As we ended lunch, she made a comment to something we were discussing that I had never heard before. I found it very profound. We had such a hearty laugh. I decided to write the phrase down. I didn’t want to forget it because I wanted to share it with you. We then went shopping and mall hopping until late evening talking and laughing as we went along. She is such a trooper.
So anyway here is what she said.

She said, “Humans are like tea bags; never know its strength until its placed in hot water”.

Believe me, I though I knew a lot of idioms because my grandmother was the queen of maxims. I said it before; my grandmother always had a good ‘line’ for us for everything. But this was a new one for me. It got me thinking. This is so true! You know, until you are faced with a tough situation you don’t quite know your resolve. But one thing for sure, you know you have to get through it. And so you pursue it with such vigor and strength. You find the angles because you must survive. When you are on the other side of the problem you then reflect with wonder and amazement on how you got through it. I guess it is another way of saying, when the going gets tough, the tough gets going. The tea bag idea though is more poignant. I like it!

How many of these have you heard before and how true to form do you think they are or your encounters revealed?

Here are ten common aphorism
Never judge a book by its cover
Necessity is the mother of invention
One never know the looks of a lousy cat
Cross that bridge when you get to it
Never sell your self short
Be careful what you say/do when you are at the top because you don’t know who you will meet on your way down
What goes up must come down
A promise is a side pocket to a fool
A hard ear makes a soft (sour) behind

Please share your favorite idioms with us!

Thanks for a wonderful day! Thanks for the memory!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Tech Support humor

I have been more frustrated than pleased with his whole episode and experience of blogging. Mind you, I enjoy the writing and posting etc. The problem for me is with the functionality of the blog. I have been working endlessly on trying to get the blog in a position to get seen, after all that is a goal of the exercise.

I’ve read a lot of tips and tricks and direction on how to increase “traffic” to blogs. I am just trying to get some traffic not to mention increase traffic, well, yeah increase. Increase from zero to some! So after all of the research and reading and trying to follow the instructions I don’t think I’ve made a difference. I’ve found some new tools and picked up some tips on widgets but still no traffic. I think I have succeeded in loading up my hard drive with programs and gadgets but none of them have produced the results I am looking for. I don’t even think I’ve gotten off first base with any of the tools. Well, I went back to what I know and enjoy.

I went to read my emails that I’ve been neglecting because I was consumed with blog traffic. I finally opened my April newsletter from Inner works Messenger. This is a monthly newsletter that I’ve subscribe to for some months now. I am always happy and renewed by the articles and stories, poems etc that are there. I usually find something to help me to focus on an issue or situation that crossed my plate or on my plate at the time. As I browsed the newsletter through the humor section I got some comic relief to my situation. Remember I said I was frustrated with seeking a way to increase blog traffic, well lo and behold what did I see? The entry called Tech Support. Naturally it caught my eyes and as I read I laughed hysterically. Yeah, the accounts are funny and they reminded me that this computer or technology business can really take you out of your frame, even when you are seriously trying to get something done.

I thought I would share this piece with you for comic relief because I was relieved. I will go back to try to figure out this traffic thing because I think I have something to share. I hope I will make some progress this time around. So, think about me and my blog traffic situations as you read, and if you have some solutions please share them with me. I promise I will also share your kindness with everyone else.

Here is the InnerWords April 2009 Humor entry:
These are actual calls to technical support help desks...

A woman called the Canon help desk with a problem with her printer. The tech asked her if she was "running it under Windows." The woman then responded, "No, my desk is next to the door. But that is a good point. The man sitting in the cubicle next to me is under a window, and his is working fine."

Tech Support: "How much free space do you have on your hard drive?"

Customer: "Well, my wife likes to get up there on that Internet, and she downloaded ten hours of free space. Is that enough?"

Overheard in a computer shop:
Customer: "I'd like a mouse mat, please."
Salesperson: "Certainly sir, we've got a large variety."

Customer: "But will they be compatible with my computer?"

I once received a fax with a note on the bottom to fax the document back to the sender when I was finished with it, because he needed to keep it.

I work for a local ISP. Frequently we receive phone calls that go something like this:
Customer: "Hi. Is this the Internet?"
Customer: "So that'll get me connected to the Internet, right?"
Tech Support: "Yeah."
Customer: "And that's the latest version of the Internet, right?"

Tech Support: "Uhhh... uh... uh... yeah."
Tech Support: "Ok Bob, let's press the control and escape keys at the same time. That brings up a task list in the middle of the screen. Now type the letter 'P' to bring up the Program Manager."
Customer: "I don't have a 'P'."
Tech Support: "On your keyboard, Bob."
Customer: "What do you mean?"
Tech Support: "'P' on your keyboard, Bob."
Customer: "I'm not going to do that!"

Customer: "My computer crashed!"
Tech Support: "It crashed?"
Customer: "Yeah, it won't let me play my game."
Tech Support: "All right, hit Control-Alt-Delete to reboot."
Customer: "No, it didn't crash-it crashed."
Tech Support: "Huh?"
Customer: "I crashed my game. That's what I said before. Now it doesn't work."Turned out, the user was playing Lunar Lander and crashed his spaceship.
Tech Support: "Click on 'File,' then 'New Game.'"
Customer: [pause] "Wow! How'd you learn how to do that?"

Please check out the newsletter I think you will enjoy it! Here is the link:

Innerworks Publishing E-mail your articles, questions or humor to: Suzanne@InnerWorksPublishing.Com

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Not my usual Easter celebration


Today is a great day! This is a day that many believe is an opportunity to begin a new chapter, a rebirth if you will, because it is Easter Day. We once again have an opportunity to reflect on our good fortune to have a love that paid the ransom for our wretched selves. This love also allows us to love one another and to forgive. Easter is a happy time, a time to worship, a time of thanksgiving and to celebrate the risen Lord. We celebrate the ascension that makes us free, giving us everlasting life everlasting, if we choose. Unfortunately my Easter worship celebration was not what I expected it to be but the rest of the day was good.

I always love to go to church on the 'high holy days' of the Christian calendar. Today we celebrate Easter. Easter Sunday is a happy time to me. I love the celebrations, the great hymns, the fancy clothes and hats and crowded pews in church. Most of all I love the celebratory hymns on Easter morn. They are so powerful and wonderful! I always leave church singing and dancing with the songs in my heart. The message and songs also frame my mood and is my inspiration for the week. This is a usual weekly occurrence for me anyways but these special days are indelible in my being and reminiscent of my youth. Back in the day, Sundays and holidays were special. They were all about church, bible stories and reverence. Not to mention the fancy Easter dresses and Easter bonnets, and Easter egg hunts and afternoons of special dinners and good ole fun with my sisters, neighbors and other relatives. I have some fond and cherished memories. Throughout the years I’ve tried to replicate this for my children and they have come to appreciate these traditions.

We went to a local neighborhood church today to celebrate this Easter Day. We decided to go there because we wanted to connect with the local church instead of travel to our old church across town. This church was a 5 minute stroll which is very attractive compared to the 40 minute cross-town ride. We'd been to this church before but never felt the 'connection'. I think we visited this church twice about a year ago. I enjoyed the service and thought that it was a little different but ok, we thought we could fit in easily. The message today was a good one. Of course it's the familiar scripture. The delivery was good and the message was strong. The mood was low keyed, almost somber and the energy was low. The Lenten season is sad and a low period for Christians but this day, Easter Sunday is NOT!

I certainly missed the high energy, joyous and happy feeling I am accustomed to on Easter Day. The joy in people’s faces and the happiness in their voices, the sounds from the organ guest musicians and the choir, the robust singing from the congregation, the colors and fashions, the flowers of my old church were not there. I think that these icons add to the completeness and the satisfaction of the worship and the fellowship. I certainly missed that today.

I was very disappointed about the music. Don't get me wrong. They had a choir and they were very good. The selections were not the soul stirring or moving or the traditional hymns of the season. The singing in the chapel was not as boisterous and melodious but everyone seemed engaged. What a let down to my Easter celebration. The final hymn was one of the Easter faves but the tune and the production was so-so. We sauntered out of the church feeling blessed; understanding and reflecting on the resurrection, the importance in our lives, the value of fellowship and our obligation but I was not as inspired and charged up for the world or the week, as usual. The music left us under whelmed.

I am thankful for the opportunity to worship and to get to church with a 5 minute walk but I guess there is a lot to be said about tradition and celebrations. Tradition in the value that we place on the experience and the expected activities associated with the event. The celebration in the acceptance of the message, the expressions of feelings of joy and appreciation that we see in each other and the spirituality shared. This group, I guess has a different tradition and a different appreciation. I guess the moral here is, if it aint broke don’t fix it, or perhaps be open and unassuming when you are in a new situation because it may conflict with the norm and sensibilities and kill the moment for you. We could also see this experience as not to try new things when the stakes are high, it’s better to work up to it on ‘off days’. We should try to enjoy and appreciate things but this wasn’t one to risk.

Anyway I am very happy that HE is risen and HE paid my ransom. I am happy knowing that and will rejoice in my traditional way. Celebrate and remember, He lives!.

Happy Easter every one!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Her tribute to her fallen feline child

This is Molly, Amazing Molly. She was 10 years old and just lost her life to cancer. Rest in peace Molly!

Molly belonged to a colleague of mine.
I sat next to her at one of our regular meetings last week. As I looked over to greet her I noticed that she was not her usual happy go luck self. Of course I asked the question, why so glum and she told me the story. She then handed me a copy of her memoriam chronicling Molly's life with her. As I read it I realized how touched she was and how special Molly was. I though I would share her tribute to Molly as I was moved by the tribute and her compassion.

The tribute read
April 1997: Heard faint meows and found approximately 2 week old kittens in the well of an old house window, in bad shape with glass all around. One was already gone. Molly's eye was so badly infected; they thought she would be blind in it. In true Molly fashion (although I didn't know at the time, it healed and she was not blind). She was the smallest but the most curious. Two others did not make it. I bottle fed her and she would look all around while drinking.

Every once in a while an extraordinary individual comes into your life if you are so blessed. All animals are special but Molly was unique. She had an incredible intuitive bond with me. It's amazing how she "knew things". She was highly intelligent, loving, and very strong willed. I'd love it when she would "kitten out" and knead and kiss me, purring away-and she would love to do noses.

She was small with dainty little paws, and the most silky black fur ever. Her toughness made up for her smallness and would not take nonsense from her brothers and sisters. She also had a special bond with Jenny who would groom her. She would take everything in. When she was diagnosed with lymphoma in 2004, the prognosis was grim. She sailed through treatment without side effects and went into remission. She then relapsed 2 years later and again, sailed through remission. She would just look around in the car and want to sit on the seat and not in the carrier. She would bring me toys constantly, with that little mow and then drop them at my feet. She would also want to play fetch (yes, she is a cat) when she was a kitten, bringing me fuzzy balls etc. At first this third bout (in August) was going fine. A small body - even the most strongest like Molly can only take so much and cancer is a nasty disease and this time her little body could not take it. She fought hard and maintained that dignity and strong will to the end.

She transitioned peacefully with love all around her on March 30, 2009. In her weakened state, she managed to purr as I looked into those expressive eyes as if to say, it's ok mom. I have been privileged and blessed to have her in my life. She is my feline soulmate and we will be connected forever, but the pain and grief that is consuming me is indescribable as I have to adjust to my life here on Earth without her (in body). Roger, Jenny, Sandy, Simba and even Rosie the bunny will miss her too. Everybody who has met her sensed what an incredible individual she was. We will be connected forever. I miss her terribly and hope that we will be together again one day.

Thank you for sharing your tribute with us. I am sorry for your lost and pray that the peace that passeth all understanding abide with you. May you find joy in those around you.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Disappearing Umbrella

This was a very rainy week for us. Well, I think it was especially since I got caught in the rain a few times this week. Friday was the worst day in the rain for me. I had several appointments and things to do that required me going from place to place. The umbrella was helpful earlier in the week but totally useless and costly on Friday. I say useless because the wind was too strong for the umbrellas, big, small cute or plain old umbrellas. Folks including me were running to get replacement ones even though I was completely soaked and the wind gust which didn’t subside was relentless. The umbrellas were turned inside out and the rain had a good shot at you. The wind was so fierce that if we weren't so water logged there would have been a lot of "Mary Popping" umbrella scene and ladies in the sky.

My issue here however is with the umbrellas. How many times have you lost, left, misplace or forgot your umbrella at the last place you stopped while carrying it? And this includes on a rainy day, while it's still raining. I have lost count of the number of times I have lost my umbrella. Believe it or not it happened this time as well. Granted I was getting minimal coverage from the umbrella this day but it was still a good one and it could be more useful on another rainy day.

Well, I stepped into a store out of the rain to grab a cup of Joe as I headed to work. Of course there was a line in the store. As I got to the cashier I placed the umbrella on the counter to pay, collected my goodies and move on. Oh yeah, I moved on minus the umbrella. I was already wet as I said; I was only a couple of doors away from the job so I made a run for it not realizing that I left the umbrella. Now I am inside again and then I miss the umbrella. Should I run back out for my umbrella? Oh, on a day like this will it still be there? Is it worth going out again to get more wet? Hmmm, what to do? I will certainly need an umbrella to get along my way throughout the day. If I leave it there I will have to buy a new one and money is tight, or I will have to borrow one. With the wind gusts I might damage the loaner umbrella and will have to replace it. I might have to buy two umbrellas instead of one. Hmmm; decisions, decisions. Well, I made a run back to the store to collect my umbrella and guess what? It was g-o-n-e! That was all of 5 minutes. I sauntered back to my office resigned to buying an umbrella to help me through the day.

As I went back to the office I wasn’t sure how to react or what to think about the disappearance of the umbrella. I ran through several scenarios in my head that the 'taker' might have considered; I was silly to have left it? Maybe I (the owner) was finished with it? It was someone’s lucky day, or, gee giving the kind of weather we’re having, someone didn’t find the umbrella useful and discarded it. Or, and this could be real, someone really needed an umbrella and I met that need.

Well whatever the reason for collecting my unattended umbrella, I hope it does me proud and it meets the needs of the taker. It served me well. What was your thoughts or reaction when you forgot your umbrella and wasn't able to retrieve it? Good riddance. Ah gee, what the heck? Well maybe I did a good deed!