Out of the Box

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERALast week was full of firsts, in some cases firsts I forced myself into and in others simply firsts because it is a new era and it is time for me to grab life for myself. For anyone who knows me well it is common knowledge I do not like crowds, truthfully I don’t like any situation I don’t feel as if I am in control of. So this past week was not only full of firsts, it was also me pushing my own boundaries and maybe societies boundaries a little tiny bit as well.

I found I am still not comfortable with crowds.

I also found I could push through my discomfort but it took some real nail biting.

Finally I found social expectations can be met with humor and ‘don’t give a damn’ on my part.

There was one other thing I found out about myself this week; I can be judgmental regarding politics and political candidates. Oh, fine I really didn’t find this out this week; I knew this but I found myself truly judging candidates critically and finding many of them ‘wanting’. I am not just going to pull the lever for you because you have a ‘D’ by your name, need to do better than that.

Lastly, because I spent most of the month of January thinking I was going to die I didn’t spend a great deal of time working towards goals or trying to find my next job. Despite I have an ‘excuse’ this has left me feeling, well feeling a little of a failure. Though I believe my goals are achievable, they have been beyond my reach and it has been frustrating.

The job / work front has also been frustrating and although I know I made the right decision in leaving the organization I was working for, it is scary right now to not have income and have bills looming. I truly want to change the trajectory of my career; want off the road and out of consulting but perhaps this isn’t the time to try to make this change. I am leaving the door open for what makes sense on both a personal and work-life basis, but those “no thank-you’s”, well they are de-moralizing.

Are you wondering what I did last week that taught me lessons, in humility, humor and even a bit of perseverance?

I dated myself. Yes, you read that correctly, I took myself on dates and found I am excellent company.

Date 1, 22-January: House of Blues, Dinner and Concert, Hot Tuna and Leon Russell. Let me first say, dinner in a room full of couples a bit awkward if you are eating alone. I have traveled alone for years and haven’t felt so out of sync with those around me in the past. No matter, dinner was fabulous and the concert was grand. Let me tell you something the audience was funny, I felt as if a crowd of aging hippies surrounded me; well, I suspect that was the truth. Both acts did a great job and despite my discomfort, it was a great evening.

Date 2, 25-January: Local Democratic Club, Judicial Bench Openings Dallas County, all candidates stump. Let me just say there are some interesting candidates running for the current benches in Dallas County and in some cases, we have two (2) to five (5) Democrats running for the same seat. I am primarily interested in the criminal courts but it was interesting listening to candidates running for family and probate judge-fines-himselfcourts, fascinating in the case of the probate court. In one case I wanted to stand up in the middle of a very long-winded stump speech and ask the candidate, “what in the hell does what you are talking about have to do with the bench you are running for?” Actually, that happened twice. I ended up sitting next to one of candidates for a Criminal Court who I had met before and we talked afterward, she is an interesting woman with interesting ideas about juvenile justice and getting young people out of the adult system. I like her. I liked a couple of the candidates their ideas about expanding the system to rehabilitation and support versus simply throwing away the key.

Date 3, 26-January: Harlem Dance Theater, Bass Performance Hall. I think this was my favorite date of the entire week; it is likely in part because ballet was my first love. The Dance Theater of Harlem includes classic ballet, modern dance and even street dance in their repertoire. They also include music and worldwide themes presented in ways anyone can relate to, they are phenomenal. I had a wonderful seat, close enough to hear as toe shoes hit the boards in Battu, close enough to see the sweat glisten and muscles contract as the dancers stretched, close enough to count the number of turns in a pirouette. Do I sound like a fangirl? I must admit, I am and have been since the first time I saw ballet as a tiny girl of four-years old, now fifty-two years later I am still a fan of ballet and very much a fan of the Dance Theater of Harlem.

So, those were my three ‘date-myself’ dates of the week. I haven’t truly accomplished very much this month and the month is nearly over. I am a bit depressed at my lack of success in achieving goals; however, I am happy with my solitary dates. I am happy I overcame my fear of crowds to get out of the house and do something, not just anything but things that are happy and uplifting for me.

Happy Monday and back to the grindstone of finding relevant work and of course a few rants of what is going on in our nation. Enjoy the playlist for this writing.

Hot Tuna: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gtdc6q8uTFs

Hot Tuna: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rCsCW4WPcyY

Leon Russell: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fXs29SpLGpU

Leon Russell: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=37dw2r45Xzg

Black Swan Excerpt: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kOf_00uh-1o

Forty Years of Firsts: http://vimeo.com/35636630

Spring Flash-Tools

Shaking her head she wiped away a fresh tear. Ten years and five children in this speck on the map, not a friend or any relief on the horizon. They say, ‘if you are a hammer everything looks like a nail’, Joey certainly seemed to apply this philosophy but with a twist.

What happened to her dreams? Once upon a time, she had all the tools she needed and a plan then along came Joey with his smooth talk, dreamy eyes and his hammer. Now here she is, lost in the middle of nowhere with nothing, not even Joey.


It is a new season, time for a Spring of Boys and Their Toys. Flash in the Pan is brought to you by the remarkable Red of M3 fame, to join in the fun read the rules at the link provided and get to flashing!

The word this week isTools with a word limit of 100. Tools comes in at 99.

Hashtags: #flashfiction #getpublished with @RedmundPro

Choosing Integrity

 “The integrity of the upright shall guide them: but the perverseness of the transgressors shall destroy them.” Proverbs 11.3 KJV

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI like that Proverb, what about you? Though I am not big on the Bible, now and then I find a nugget I like, that is one of them.

Integrity, it does seem to be in short supply these days, whether we look at the world of business, the government or even at our personal lives. Have we all fallen short, forgotten what it means to live a life that is not just expedient, but instead is real and as the quote says, ‘upright’. I wonder, what does it mean to have integrity, to live with courage and by the courage of conviction.

I will admit, here and certainly, to myself, I have fallen short in the past. Fallen short out of fear. Fallen short because I thought I was protecting another. Fallen short because I was simply tired of fighting for my place. Fallen short because I didn’t understand what it meant to do otherwise.

I suspect we all fall short. I would also guess, those of us conscious enough to self-examine regret our fall from grace, even when the only person who knows is ourselves.

What is the test?

Do we fall short when we are afraid and thus fail to live up to our potential? Alternatively, is the real answer we simply choose expediency over integrity as the easy way through life, consequences be damned.

“Greatness lives on the edge of destruction”. Will Smith, Oprah show at 38.04 minutes

I think we fall short for a variety of reasons, some perhaps good reasons and others always terrible reasons. No matter the reason, if we have any self-awareness, we will always beat the hell out of ourselves afterwards. Perhaps we look back over our life and pinpoint those times where we choose convenience over a more difficult path, does this make us a bad person or simply average, normal. When we aspire to be more than we are, should we be held back by our past, by the stumbles we have taken?

My personal experience is fear is the biggest diversion. Fear takes many forms and places many stones in the path. Stumbling over those stones creates even greater fear, now I have stumbled; now I have lost my path and Wikimedia Imagemy place. Sometimes it is not enough to be sorry, in falling you take others with you. Sometimes losing futures, losing love and breaking dreams.

The two quotes are quite different, one says transgressors shall be destroyed, the other says we must get to the edge to be great. I think there is truth in both, to find our truth we must face down our fears and find our core, perhaps even to the edge of destruction. Once there though, once we are sure of ourselves and whole in our values, we must stop living by other people’s rules, stop fearing judgment and loss; stop choosing expediency over a life of integrity.

I think for any one of us to choose integrity all the time, we must first examine our fears, our losses and dreams. What does it mean to stand up to the crowd, to social pressure or even to a loved one’s demands? What does it mean to say “no, I will not do that”, say that or act in that manner simply to satisfy your wants when it is wrong in my heart? What does it mean to say to a boss “no”, what you are doing will cause harm to a client or is inappropriate. When we choose these things knowing it might cost us friends, loved ones or income, can we still choose? That I think is the core of both quotes is the loss better than the alternative; that I think is the choice we have to make.

We all fall short sometimes. I have certainly fallen short in my past and certainly regret those falls from grace. The odd thing is, I have also stood up and chosen the path of integrity, chosen to do the right thing, I paid for it. Now I know there is a price to pay for a fall and a price to pay for standing up. The difference is the price to pay for the fall is much higher, it is one you extract every day in self-recrimination.

I suspect many people struggle with some of these ideas. Today the world is full of so many examples of people who choose to stumble and stay down, I find it disheartening. Perhaps if more of us considered philosophically what it means to question our motives and apply integrity to our decisions and choices we would have a better world.

I leave you with my playlist for this one, it is how I was feeling as I wrote.

Oprah: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_N3vFeR4g9M

Counting Crows, Talks to Angels: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8_5U0M9ErGA

Hootie and the Blowfish, Let her Cry: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1aVHLL5egRY

Tracy Chapman, One Reason: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3d3iWPXvErQ

Note: If you haven’t seen me visiting lately I have been sick since just before the new year. It has laid me low and I am only now getting over a beastly cold / infection. I will be back to visiting soon, hopefully I will stay out of bed long enough today to read and comment. It isn’t you it is me! 

Winter Flash – Final Four

Ruby red lips and a Mona Lisa smile, perfect.  Those eyes, dark and mysterious framed by arched brows, perfect.  Hair, windblown or laying gently across bare shoulders, always perfect.

He was fascinated with perfection, obsessed with the woman of his dreams.  His fantasy just beyond his grasp.  Disappointment a constant, his failure riding him like a harbinger of disaster each time he reached out to grasp his obsession and she slipped through fingers moist with anticipation.

He knew what to do, what was missing.  He knew and was prepared to make any sacrifice.

He laid out his tools on the counter, smiling to himself as he checked each with care; nothing was too good.  He stared at the picture taped to the mirror as he reached down, with one hand grabbed his pene and testes with the other made one cut severing it all.

Now, now he would be perfect.


“Where are you?”

“Right down the road, be there in minutes.”

July sat down to wait, ‘minutes, huh, been three days’.

Soon she heard the front door slam, “Honey, I’m home”.

She swung hard, cracked his head wide open that would teach him the difference between minutes and days.


She was without tits or ass.  She had a gap between her teeth.  Her eyes crossed and her hair that terrible color.

Why did they all flock to her like crazed flies on road kill?  Suzann fumed from her lonely barstool as Trudy flung her head back, laughing.


She turned the can facing toward her, label out.  She checks the shelves and begins turning the cans labels facing out.

“Shoppers the store will close in five minutes.”

She stared into her empty cart; her compulsive behavior had stopped her at the soup aisle. She sits down and quietly weeps.


It is the last of winter, actually I am very late getting these in but I thought I would share them with you anyway.  Winter of Disturbing Flashes. Flash in the Pan is brought to you by the remarkable Red of M3 fame, to join in the fun read the rules at the link provided and get to flashing!

These were the final words and their count:

Obsessed with a word limit of 150, coming in dead on the nose at 159.

Cracked with a word limit of 50, coming in dead on the nose at 50.

Crazed with a word limit of 50, coming in dead on the nose at 50.

Compulsive with a word limit of 50, coming in dead on the nose at 49.

Hashtags: #flashfiction #getpublished with @RedmundPro

The Problem is Us

soapboxpileWe are the greatest problem in our own government at every level, we the people that is.  Our lazy, pedantic manner of shuffling to the polls, pulling the lever or punching the card with no thought other than what letter is after the name, rather than considering the consequence of our vote.  With our pitiful allegiance to party or even worse our zombie like love affair with those who have screwed us time and again, we know their names though and pull the lever for them as if they were members of our dysfunctional family.

We are the greatest problem with Washington, we have no one but ourselves to blame for every single bad behavior, delinquent assclownery and filibuster for fun currently occurring on the hill.

America, we truly do have a problem and that problem is us!

We are lazy, we are intellectual plodders, we are sheep who refuse to see the cliff we are running toward blindly but with great glee.  We willfully wave the flag of patriotism the moment anyone suggests we might not be the “best” country in the world, yet we fail on every scale that matters to measure up to other industrialized nations.  What matters you ask, how about the following:

  • Primary education, ranked 18th
  • University education, the most costly in the world
  • Trade Schools, the most costly in the world
  • Highest number of citizens held in prison for non-violent crimes (millions)
    • Related to this, highest number of juveniles sentenced as adults

I could go on with that list, those are just some of the highlights, poverty grows, racism runs rampant, inequity is wagging the dog and women are dancing the two-step backward with every election.  The real problem though, it isn’t those clowns in the state houses, nor is it the clowns in Congress; the real problem is us.

Every single time we have the opportunity to go to the polls and exercise our right to vote, we fail to exercise our most important muscle, our mind.  We have handed over the town square, kicked over the soapbox and Wikipedia Imageplaced our necks into the Pillory without force of arms.  We are sheep, no matter whether we are pulling the lever for the ‘D’ or the ‘R’ we refuse to demand real change to the way in which our government operates, instead shaking our heads at what is directly in front of our faces.

Do you really believe the following makes any sense?

According to the CIA World Facts Book, the median age in the US is 37.2, which breaks down further to 35.9 years for men and 38.5 years for women.  This is what the US Congress looks like, is it any wonder we are still fighting the same silly azzed battles over our uterus and paychecks.


Most people look forward to retirement, the average age of retirement is 61 in the US though many are working today well into their early 70’s just to make ends meet and make up for heavy losses taken during market crashes.  Statistics say the average American will change jobs 10 – 15 times during their career, some will only spend 4 years in any one job.  So tell me why the average Congressperson seeks tenure, a seat is theirs for life?

Average in the Senate: 10 years

Longest serving member: 39 years

Average Age: 62   *   Oldest Member:  80

Average in Congress: 19 years

Longest serving member:  58 years

Average Age: 57  *  Oldest Member: 90

Then there is the issue we always have to scratch our heads over, why doesn’t Congress look more like the country? I mean really, why doesn’t it look more like where you and I live and work? This is what the country generally looks like:


I know, somewhat hard to read broken up by all those states, but notice with the exception of a few states distribution of races are pretty even.  So to make it easier, look at these:

race totalpopulation

Does that make it easier to see, we simply do not have a representative government. No way, no how.

Finally we come to what is most puzzling, this constant insistence to pray away every damned thing.  Opening prayers to make certain God is on their side when they take food out of the mouths of the poor, when they give the wealthy another tax break, when they send young men and women to die in another thankless war on a lie.  With the exception of a few, every single last solitary one of these fossilized burdens sucking on the public teat claims some form or another of Christianity, entirely ignoring the rest of their constituents and their Constitutional Rights to live without having their rights trampled by religion every time they draw breath.


So we are the problem, we allow this continue by not demanding representative government that truly and fully represents the people.  We are the problem, only us not them who are gleefully rubbing their hands together with the money they earn sitting on their collective asses doing nothing, becoming millionaires while talking a good game.  We are the problem when we support this type of government, which is nothing if not corrupt.

Who in their right minds believes any of this makes sense?  When will we demand changes to our government that do?

You must be 25 to serve in the House and 30 to serve in the Senate, there is however no top end no retirement age.  You can just continue to toddle on in there with your drool cup until you drop dead, how about we start considering the consequences?  How about you must retire from elected office at 72, no more running the country sorry folks, leave it those young whippersnappers.

A Congressperson gets two years to screw things up, while a Senator gets six years. Now personally I think we should force a bit of objective thinking into this process, you can’t run for the Senate unless you have served at least one term in the House.  This will weed out some of the real nutcases and move some of the better ones up the chain.  Term limits are critical I think, no more seats for life this is ridiculous; three terms in the House and three terms in the Senate, that is it then it is back to the private sector with you.  If you were really good you can run again for either house of Congress after one Senate term or six years, whichever comes first.

Do we run a risk with this?  We might, but we run far less risk this way than we have today.  What we have today is simply a FUBAR.

Wallowing, Not

img-thingToxicity, I have had that in abundance recently and I have allowed it to color my world, including my view of self.  I have curled into myself, finding my bed and sleep the only place of safety, every place else unwelcoming and downright disturbing.

I believe the term is depression, maybe self-pity.

Here is what I know for certain, I cannot continue this way it is unhealthy and stupid.  Here are the other things I know, the things that have happened in the past 90 days, the things that are affecting my terrible self-doubt:

  1. My husband decided marriage to me was too hard and he would be better served elsewhere, without the burden or responsibilities that go with marriage.
    1. Without notice, he left, without word, without good-bye.  Damn that hurt.
    2. In October of last year, I accepted a full-time job with an organization after years of being independent.  I did this to provide a more stable income since I was the primary breadwinner.  Honestly, I think I knew this was not a good fit, something told me but I ignored my intuition.
      1. The environment was toxic.
      2. I was miserable from the very first week.
      3. I worked with bullies.
      4. December 31, 2013 was my last day.

Now to the rest, could there be more?  Yes, of course, there can be more and certainly, there is always more.  I realize I have been feeling ‘not me’ for a very long time, maybe years.  I have compromised myself, repeatedly for the sake of peace.  Some of those compromises have been small things, some though have been compromises of self and they have spread across my environment creating a true lethal combination of self-doubt and unhappiness.

What are the visible signs?

  1. My environment, where I live is truly a mess, there are layers of dust everywhere, things are not where they belong.  This isn’t the home I want to live in; this isn’t how I use to live.  I would be ashamed to invite friends to visit me and I always feel as if I have to make excuses for the mess I live in.  This was a battle I fought constantly, for help and for compromise.  I lost the battle, even emotionally.
  2. My work, what I do for a living and what I want to do for the next fifteen to twenty years has been compromised in my head.  I was once very sure of myself, of my skill, competency and capability.  I thought I was great at what I did and never sold myself short.  Now?  I don’t know anymore, I have allowed myself to be bullied and undermined, by others and in my own head.  Yes, this is a tough market and yes, this is a hard life especially at my age.  I didn’t choose easy, however, I am good at what I do and have great success at my back so what the hell is wrong with me?

I have never been one sink into dark places and stay there, never been one to dwell in caves without light.  I really despise throwing pity parties lasting for more than a day or two, so what the hell is the problem, why can’t wet_dogI seem to shake this one off like a dog shakes water after a swim?  Is it my age?  Or is it some of these issues have been building up and I didn’t really notice, didn’t pay attention instead allowing them to fester like an untreated wound.

No promises, really they are impossible.  No resolutions, I have never made them and kept them beyond the first week of a new year.  Some simple and easy actions though, things I can achieve to perhaps make things less overwhelming in the short term, make it easier to navigate what I suspect will be the challenging time ahead of me.

Here is what I know needs to happen for me to begin to feel as if I am back in control:

  1. Pick a room, any room and clean it top to bottom.  Throw away what I don’t need, organize what I do need or want to keep, tag anything and everything that can or should be donated.  When the room is done, move onto the next room.
    1. If I find the effort to daunting, hire help, it might just be money well spent.
  2. Spend a minimum of 2 hours per weekday looking for and applying to new opportunities, include both contract positions and full-time.  Reach out to industry contacts, get active on the boards and manage my own career again stop letting others dictate terms.
    1. Set rates and stick to them!
    2. Do a real search for local companies, I really would like to stop traveling and have a real life that includes staying local.
  3. Start doing things!  Do anything once a day (other than going shopping) that gets me out of the house and around people.

That is it; choice is what it really is about isn’t it?  I have a choice to wallow in my hurt, roll about in my misery, reel in my pain or I can start to live again.  So what if living again means I will do most things alone for now, I have traveled for work for the past twenty-two years and this means I have done most things alone five days a week.  Hell this means the reason most of my ‘in real life’ friends don’t live in the same city I live in is because I met them when I was on the road, working in a city I didn’t live in, so just what the hell is my problem now?

I read this great post the other day by Tori Nelson at the Ramblings, she said it all in one word Timshel.  I so appreciated her post I wanted to share it with you.

Small Joys

The holidays are finally over; I can only say I am grateful.  I found myself tearful, often.  In fact, more often than not, I found myself stepping out of the room so I could have a good cry.  How badly does that simply suck?  I wrote a different post for today, I decided I would post it tomorrow, today are my holiday stories.

Small stories of things that didn’t suck.  Stories proving the world will continue to spin and I won’t fall off, there are good people in it.

My favorite store in the entire world (other than DSW and Neiman Marcus Outlet) is Central Market.  I drive nearly twenty miles out of my way to shop at Central Market because it makes me happy.  This day 686px-FlowerShop_ShangHaiStreet_HKsolidified my love forever.  It was the day after DB took flight and I was feeling battered, barely hanging by my fingernails and certainly not up for pleasant banter.  I wanted fresh flowers to brighten my dismal mood and my dull table.  Wandering aimlessly, I picked from the individual bins when a woman slightly younger than me asked if she could assist, apparently she didn’t notice the storm cloud over my head.  She persisted though, silly girl, asking again if she could help and suddenly out of my mouth came the stupidest thing, “No, you can’t help me.  My husband of fourteen years left yesterday without a word, without good-bye or fuck you and all I want is some stupid flowers because nobody else will ever buy them for me again!”  I stared at her dumbfounded by my inability to act in a socially acceptable manner; she stared at me likely for the same reason, really who does that?  I found myself crying in front of a perfect stranger in the middle of Central Market.  With compassion and kindness, Maryam squeezed my arm, helped me make a beautiful bouquet and talked to me.  When I was done, when I made my way to the checkout stand with my groceries and my flowers she walked over and told the checker, “The flowers are on Central Market today”.

So I cried twice.  I hugged her for her kindness and reminding me there are lovely and compassionate people in the world.  Two days later I wrote a letter to Central Market telling them how much her gesture, her kindness and her empathy meant to me.  Yesterday, I saw her again and told her in person while we made another beautiful bouquet.

Other things that don’t suck, my children and their partners, my Wife-in-Law, my grandchildren and the family of my daughter-in-law all of whom made this holiday season bearable and sometimes even joyful.  Friends who have reached out to me throughout this season with short notes and telephone calls, just to check in and see if I was okay, friends here in my virtual world leaving me their e-mail address and talking to me, letting me know I wasn’t as alone as I felt.  You all just can’t imagine how much that means; when I see your notes, my spirit is lifted.

Another story from the holiday season, because family stories are important.  I spent Christmas Eve and morning at the home of youngest son and his marvelous partner, they are truly perfectly matched, the love that fills their home, between them and her children is addictive.  My wife-in-law was also visiting from Seattle (I adore her) and so Christmas was a happy time, despite the bittersweet undertones; she

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is going through her own challenge with her marriage also falling apart around her head, her husband notifying her on the very same day as mine of his intention to end their 30 year partnership (assclown).  Needless to say, she and I were challenged in our joy, but she and I were with the sons we loved, were also with each other and oddly, both take great pleasure in our company.  So between Moscow Mules, a perfect Mexican feast cooked by our children, watching our grandson open presents and planning for a future without our husbands there was laughter to be had.  I suggested my much-loved WIF come live with me; I find I have a significant amount of room now.  For some reason our sons find this idea ‘strange’, their mothers living together; she and I laughed uproariously at their discomfort!

Christmas morning found me awake long before the rest of the household, the first pot of coffee long gone before anyone else stumbled out of bed.  Wrapped in flannel and love, awaiting the arrival of two little girls and one more round of gift-wrap madness we spent our morning quietly chatting over a superlative breakfast cooked by my son (who knew).

Christmas day found the WIF and me at the home of my eldest sons in-laws; this is something of a tradition for the big holidays.  I am so grateful for the invitation and how I have been embraced by this large and loving family, it is a gift.  Theirs is a blended family that has blurred the lines by love, it is spectacular to witness and each time I am invited to their home I am awestruck by the immensity of their love, compassion, humor and this time their empathy.  It never surprises me why my son loves his wife; she comes from a family that understands commitment and love.  It never surprises me why I use to tell him he needed to marry her or I was keeping her when I see her with her family.

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This time though, well it was a bit overwhelming and I was brought to tears.  This, this was what I had wanted for myself.  This love, this commitment; this is what I wanted for me.  This is what I failed to build and this failure tore at my heart.  At one point during the celebrations I found myself walking outside simply to cry, just a moment of pure alone tears but it wasn’t to be because these are kind and loving people.  One of them saw me walking away and followed, without a word just followed and with a touch; a simple hug let me know I wasn’t alone, then with a bit of humor pulled me out of  my black cloud and back into the loving embrace of family.  I am so grateful to her for her empathy.

So those are my Christmas stories 2013.

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