Warm Fuzzies For Water

I love mail.

Something I have been trying to do for myself is to be a more disciplined goal setter and maker. I am incredibly lazy and distractible and I have reached epic heights of sloth. The latter is due to a combination of busy-ness and exhaustion, and a dash of isolating thrown in too.  I started 2012 off with some good intentions for goals to attain in health, emotion and spirit, finance, intellect, creativity, love and adventure.

And then one of my dogs died. On January 9th.

And then my grandmother died. On February 11th.

And then it was March.  I don’t like March.  (Except for St. Patrick’s Day, but copious amounts of Guinness has not failed to temporarily solve what ails me, pretty much ever.)

And then, I did not write about any of these things even though I wanted to, but I succumbed to the malaise.

Now it is November, and I realize that I have pressed on this year, doing things and not doing anything and having fun and hiding out and working hard and having some successes and some stresses, but mostly I have  never been able to shake that feeling of disarray and disorder from just after getting home from my grandmother’s funeral.  And double mostly, I am tired of living my life this way when I do have so much I want to do, see, be and enjoy.

Enter Camp Mighty. On November 15, I will be joining the fine Go Mighty team for a weekend retreat in Palm Springs devoted to acknowledging and making real plans to achieve goals.  These Campers are also do-gooders, which is partly why I am so attracted to this kind of support network. Despite my stubborn habit of being a bit of an isolationist and an expert practitioner of the Irish Goodbye, I believe deeply that we are all in this thing together and that we must and we can help each other out along the way.  Part of the participation requirement for camp is to raise a minimum of $200 each for a wonderful cause supported by Go Mighty called Charity:Water. I think I have a genius idea to raise my (at least!) $200.

I am asking for individual donations to be made in the amount of $20 directly to the campaign and in exchange, not only will you be funding a water project for the Rulindo District of Rwanda, you will be receiving a personal, handwritten Warm Fuzzy from me to you.  I know the best way for me to feel whole again is to help someone else feel whole, and that is something I can do in a tangible way by writing it down for you and mailing it to you so it is not just another #loveyameanit moment.

A word on Sandy and donations you may be making to the Red Cross this week: I am quite aware this is possibly a bad time to ask for a donation to a cause you are just now hearing about, and is in Rwanda not New Jersey, and is are-you-kidding-me yet another ask for your money. Let me meet that objection by telling you that I understand just how hard it is to part with another 20 bucks.  I understand that $20 is half tank of gas and $20 is lunch money and $20 is a few groceries in a pinch and $20 is a merciful bottle of wine but mostly, I know and respect it’s your hard-earned $20. That is why I want to give you something back in return for it, something I usually give for free, but today, let’s do this $20 transaction of goodness to put a little more power and intention behind doing these things to make everyone be healthier and happier and feel less alone.  (Feel like you really want to help but can only part with $10? Send it in and I will still Warm Fuzzy you. Someday soon I will find the courage to tell the story of my financial undoing and rebuilding. Receiving the donation and writing you a Warm Fuzzy with empower me.)

Will you please help me?

Send me your home address via email and in the section for a note on the donation page of Charity:Water, put down you are trading water for a Warm Fuzzy and I will get the credit toward my $200. And of all goes well, we’ll raise a little more and spread a little more warmth.

Thank you my friends.  Thank you.

Gonna Get Mighty

OMG.  Big lunch time over here.  I am signed up for Camp Mighty.  It takes a village to send a girl to camp, so big thanks to mom for the first assist.  More to come…

Wanna join me?

Thanks Oprah.

Photo taken by and belongs to Maggie Mason, http://mightygirl.com/2011/05/23/oprahs-last-show-project-what-have-you-learned/. Whew, I hope that gives proper, if a little spazzy credit where credit is due.

Last night, before my run, I watched the finale of The Oprah Winfrey Show.  I have been watching the Oprah show for all 25 years that it has been on TV, and that makes it since I was 15 years old.  Some seasons I watched more than others, but every season, I watched.  And every season, I learned.

I read much of the media critics’ reviews of the finale, and per usual, most of them took the lazy way out and disclaimed the actual intention of her show by pointing out her obvious business savvy and mostly describing her work as a means to a very successful, billionaire-y end.  Yeah, duh.  No shit she is a media and entertainment phenomenon that we are unlikely to see for at least another 50 years.  But they always miss the point: the reason she IS so successful is because of her ability to articulate what she has learned about living  a life with integrity and grace and humility and joy to the rest of us by making it safe for US to share our failures and triumphs right there on television!  We not only are validated by each other (the most important part), but she gave us a wealth of resources which only blossomed with the publication of her magazine and of course, the internet machine.  So yeah, did I ever get annoyed with the commercialism of “My Favorite Things” or having to listen to Julia Roberts yammer on about Danny Moder one more effing time?  Of course.  But that is not the Oprah that I was tuning in for.  My Oprah, and I’d venture to say everyone’s Oprah, is the one who was there day in and day out, showing me those aha moments that allowed me to make better decisions about my life going forward and to be grateful for the life I have.

I have been nervously toying with the idea of sharing more intimate stories here on this blog, but because I have not yet realized a vision for what that looks like in the big picture, I have been reluctant to open up about certain things.  I think this is more about prudence and maturity than fear and I know that because I feel incredibly confident every time I write a post and the hit that “publish” button.  Writing has been critical to my recovery from a near-total loss of self after being in an abusive marriage which then turned into a lingering and emotionally and financially devastating divorce.  Without the ability to work some of it out here, and then receive actual cheers of support and shares of their own similar struggles from family and friends who read it, I might still be in the shadows.  And that is how Oprah ran the show.  Brave guests shared, we related, we mulled it over, (sometimes for longer than we or others thought it would take), we made the necessary changes to our thinking and our actions, and miracle of miracles, we were all rewarded with blessings by living our best lives.

A writer and blogger I admire very much, Maggie Mason, is also an Oprah devotee.  Not only has she been to the show and attended the surprise send-off in Chicago last week, she embodies the values of living your best life.  On her blog, she asked for some participation in a little Oprah gratitude project.  The assignment was to take a photo of yourself with your favorite Oprah lessons written out and then post it to a flickr group she created, #thanksOprah.  I am still not a flickr user, and am pretty much over the self portrait photography explosion of the mostly Facebook variety, BUT, she offered a loophole for Luddites like me, and said we could post our favorite lessons in the comments of her blog post.  So many wonderful Oprah lessons poured in, as well as so many adorable photos, that when viewed as a group were sweet and powerful and inspiring.  I wrote a few of my faves in a comment, the theme for what I needed at a certain time in my life is obvious:

Never give up.

The Universe first talks to you in a whisper. Pay attention.

Gratitude.

And then, I went back a few hours later with another one, one I think of often, and also from a lesson I learned the hard way:

Always sign your own checks.

And then, because the Universe pays attention to the work we are doing to make ourselves authentic and whole,  I experienced a small moment of the power of validation this morning.  Ms. Mason had picked one of  my favorite Oprah lessons (“Always sign your own checks.”) and listed it in the post with the gratitude photos!  I was sitting there on the ferry, just doing my normal reads of news and blogs and when I got to that post and saw mine and my name, my smile came up from my toes and out the top of my head and stayed there for another two hours.  Truly, there is no greater feeling to receive as a human being than validation.  It is a form of love, because it is honors what you know in your gut is right, and love is always right.

So just like Oprah said, no goodbyes, but only, til we meet again.  Because the people who are supposed to be in your life never really go away from you.  And if we learn to let go of and heal from the bad relationships, we will only have room for the love and validation of those who really just see us.

I Am Pro-Moustache (also, clowns don’t scare me)

It is the last days of work before the end-of-year break, and I am, like most average Americans, distracted and not terribly productive.  (Also, still no run, boo!)  In between tasks that must get done today (or, what?) and watching the clock, I have clicked my way through some exceedingly entertaining year-end lists, moustache slide-shows (wait for those…), and super-silly tumblr blogs.  I have been sending them off to family and friends, and then thought, what the hell, I am going to share with all a y’all!

Complete and total silliness, and damn it, pure good clean fun!  I sent this to my cousins, since we all know each others’ parents.  I give you…
When Parents Text

Since I am spending time reflecting on 2010 and planning for 2011, I have clicked into many writerly and designy blogs that inspire me, as well as planny ones that help put the ideas to action.

Long live Maggie Mason and the Mighty Life List!  I have started my own.  You should too.  Do it.

One project I am excited about  is to turn one corner of my living room into a writer’s nook.  Here is where I get ideas.  And then click and click and click.  So fun.  There are millions, here are three popular ones:
SF Girl By Bay
Design Sponge
I Could Make That

Thanks to DeAnne for turning me on to this guy and his annual review process.  Meet Chris Guillebeau of The Art of Non-Conformity.  I like some of the ideas he has here for putting thoughts to actions.

Here’s a great year end round-up of the hipster-centric world of tumblr blogs, that honestly is what started this whole thing.  Beware, this is a 100% time sucker.  And watch out for raptors.

All the best movies start coming out at the end of the year, and I admit that one of the few times I miss Los Angeles is for the movie-going experience.  One thing that LA does better than anywhere and refreshingly, with great earnest, is movies, from makin’ ’em to watchin’ ’em.  People go opening weekend.  They arrive early for best seats (unless at the mecca called The Arclight where you can pre-select your seat AND eat the best carmel popcorn on the planet) and they stay through the credits.  (Mostly because they either worked on the movie, or know someone who did.)  They cheer in the right spots.  They laugh at the jokes with gusto.  They are riveted by excellent filmmaking.  They don’t tolerate distracted audience members.

And finally, to the moustaches and my movie pick.

My number one must-see right now is “True Grit” directed by the Coen Brothers and starring Jeff Bridges and Matt Damon.  The grin that curled up across my face when I saw this little gem from NY Mag has made my day.  Yes, it’s true: I dig a moustache.

Day 17: Time To Be Mighty

Middle of the work day writing or posting is not the norm for me, but I need a break from the chaos of the last 24 hours, the last 8 specifically so writing a quick one will help. Also, bummer, I don’t think I am going to get a run in tonight as I have a late and very important meeting. Maybe I will just go to the dog-ro-mat. Those boys stink and it is very satisfying to get them clean.

My day started with a computer related meltdown at 6AM that made me 20 minutes late leaving and the task at hand unfinished. Already grumbly, I did not have time to stop for caffeine, but was keyed up anyway and I hoped for an anxiety buzz. I pulled into the underground garage, ran my computer up to my desk and logged in to touch base with the boss, then hurried back to the garage, then on to my next stop. I dropped my car off at the mechanic via an unexpected construction related detour, then hopped the train back to my office which was mercifully on time and then dove headlong into work. (Still no caffeine… ) There is a level of tedium going on right now that I refuse to let get me down, rather instead focus on gratitude for having a good stable job, but those irritations were creeping in on top of the to-do list.

Then all of the sudden, total anarchy. There’s not much that can knock me off balance, but an interruption by my personal life at work is one that can have me teetering. Today I got kneecapped.

I’ve recently downed a cappuccino and a chocolate croissant which helped.

And another, much more cooler thing has me standing all the way back up almost.

Yesterday during lunch I was doing a little surfing and looking at blogs of writers I like and was feeling inspired not only by their writing, but by their success. I of course checked out dooce, and saw that she had been at a summit of women bloggers over the weekend and I remembered that I needed to go check out the host’s website, Mighty Girl. I had forgotten about Maggie Mason, the creator of Mighty Girl, but for aspiring writers like me, she is a success story worth following.

Anyhoodle, she has a feature called The Mighty Life List, which is, you guessed it, a list of all the things you’d like to do in your lifetime. (I refuse to call it that OTHER name.) I love a list, so between bites of my yummy pasta and lentils, I started jotting some of my own down, and in just doing that could feel myself having that giddy lightness fill up my heart and head. I have been so damn serious lately, dealing with such serious, complex, multilayered, material problems, the kind that intrude on my workday, I have had no space for lightness. I haven’t felt inspired, or silly, or funny, let alone daydreamy.  I have been, quite necessarily, a machine.

So I let myself daydream. It felt good. I am going to keep working on my list and then I will share it here. And then, I will start checking it off.

Writing a blog was on there. Would ya look at that?