Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Friday, April 25, 2008

Kinzie


Last night, I lost another friend. This one was of the pet persuasion. We picked up Kinzie from the Humane Society just over 16 years ago when she fit in my palms. She was a tiny brown ball of fur that scampered under the couch any time a man in a hat entered the room. 

Kinzie wasn't the most obedient dog but that was her owners' fault. We didn't really train her. By nature, she was very protective and didn't like it when anyone hugged me.  Her fierce growl scared a lot of people. She did tricks. She shook with both paws and barked on command and danced in circles for her Purina treats.

Over the last few weeks, Kinzie's hip dysplasia and her arthritis got the best of her, making it difficult for her to walk. She'd walk in circles at night and cry because laying down was too painful. The night before last, she wouldn't take her pain medicine. So, I picked her up and let her sleep on my bed one last time. When I got home from work last night, she was gone. I just wish I'd have had the chance to say one more time, "Good girl, Kinz! Good girl!

My year of loss continues...

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Gotta Love Lacrosse... or at least the boys who play it

There's nothing like a crop of cute boys to pull you off the porch and get you back in the saddle again. Or at least get you thinking about it...

This past weekend, with the help of some friends and the 30-something guys whose names I didn't know, I spent three days straight distracted from my life's issues and having a good time. That hadn't happened in four months. And it was good.

My three day hiatus from reality started with the friends, as well as two pitchers of fruity frozen margaritas, a guy named Joe and a cab ride home at 6:15 a.m.
But the rest of my weekend involved lacrosse in some form or another. Until recently, I was relatively unfamiliar with the game of lacrosse. I had heard it was getting more popular in the Midwest and I worked with a guy for a few years who played.

For the rest of you who know little or nothing about it, lacrosse is a full contact team sport that involves slinging a little rubber ball into a net. And the players wear all kinds of pads and helmets and gloves and they really beat the hell out of each other out there. These guys aren't sissies, my friends. And if my experience is any indication of the hotness factor... these guys are burning up the fields with their good looks. They are big and brawny and just plain cute. You gotta love the game or at least the boys who play it.

I hear Chicago has a team... Road trip anyone?

Monday, April 21, 2008

Moving Forward

"The toughest part about being new and trying to change is figuring out which things are in your control and which things are not." Samantha on SAMANTHA WHO?

So... we shake off the dust of the past, pull ourselves up by our bootstraps and take in our surroundings. We assess the mountains in the west and the river in the east. We analyze the rugged terrain in the north and the valley to the south. And we pick a direction and we start again. We start over. And everything is new. And we are new.

We soon discover that some of our rituals and ways from the past will work in our future and some will not. We learn that we have to change to cope with the weather and the terrain on this NEW leg of our life's journey. But sometimes the changing is difficult for more than the mere fact that change is difficult. Sometimes, the changing is hard because we aren't quite sure what we need to do differently this time.

Figuring out how we got to the end of the last leg and why we have to start over isn't a simple task. The soul searching seems endless, as does the hunt for reasons and understanding and just making sense of it all. But I think we often find that the road to reasons might be longer than the next leg in the journey. And so, before we can close the door on the past, we have to move forward.

So... we shake of the dust of the past, pull ourselves up by our bootstraps, take in our surroundings and with a fist full of nothing and a heart nearly overflowing, we move. One foot in front of the other... One step at a time... And we eventually find our way.

"Some things just aren't meant to be. But the things that are meant to be... they find a way." Samantha on SAMANTHA WHO?

Sunday, April 20, 2008

HEY DRIVER!

It is often said that that which we find irritating about others can help us learn something about ourselves.

Repeatedly, I have tried to find some relation between my irritation for bad drivers and myself but I can't find one. For the life of me, I can't figure out what bad drivers are supposed to be teaching me about me. Perhaps they are teaching me patience... I realize I am slow to learn this virtue but do we really need to pile bad drivers on top of delayed fame, fortune and falling in love? Isn't waiting for those three things ENOUGH to teach a girl a little patience? Isn't the fact that I ALWAYS get in the wrong line behind the lady with a return and no receipt or the guy with three price-tagless items at every grocery store and department store enough of a LEARN HOW TO WAIT lesson? Must I be faced with bad drivers on a daily basis as well?

I learned how to drive a Chevy Malibu station wagon right here in my hometown of St. Louis. There is a great park a couple of blocks away from my parents' home with really wide streets that was perfect for driving lessions. And back when I learned to drive everything was closed on Sundays so there were plenty of parking lots to practice in on the weekends. But long before I sat behind a the wheel of the camel colored grocery getter, I paid attention. I watched how my dad let the steering wheel come back on its own after he made a turn or how my mom would pull her foot off the gas to slow down rather than slamming on the brakes. I memorized the way they turned the steering wheel on a right turn and how it differed from the way they turned it for a left turn. I watched and learned so when I got behind the wheel myself, I had a base to jump from and I wasn't starting scared. And driving became common sense which is a rare thing in St. Louis. Believe me!

In St. Louis people forget how to drive when it rains or when the sun shines too brightly. When it sleets or snows, we just close everything so we don't have to drive. And then! We want to talk on the phone while we drive. Being in this city alone puts us as a disadvantage. We shouldn't complicate matters with rain or sun or cell phones.

St. Louis drivers:PAY ATTENTION, PUT DOWN THE PHONE and STOP participating in my patience lessons. Please... And I'll try to take some of that driving common sense and apply it to other areas which might make your lives easier too.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Tick, Tick, Tick

The weight of your dreams gets heavier and heavier as years pass and they go unfulfilled. People are always saying "it's never too late" to make your dreams come true. But the truth of the matter is that there is a time limit for some of the things we want in life.

Can you find love at any age? Of course. I have a friend whose grandmother found love in her 90s. Can you go back to school or change careers? Yes. My cousin decided in her 30s to go to college for the first time and launch her nursing career. Can you learn to drive or buy your first house? Indeed. I have a friend who did both near 30 years of age.

All of those things are possible at any age. But there are many other things in life that benefit from youth. I am watching the baseball game and thinking about all of these young guys who are playing ball and fulfilling a lifelong dream knowing that a career in pro sports is short-lived. Thirty-seven in baseball, or any other sport, is OLD. Having babies may not require youth but it is another feat that is easier in younger years.

Ever since I was a little girl, there were only two things I wanted in my life. One was to be a famous singer. I got the singer part down but not so much the "famous." The other dream was to grow up and get married and have a house full of kids. While my life has been so much bigger and fuller than those two dreams, they were the measure of success and happiness for me.

There are sometimes points in life when you realize that a dream you've had may be impossible. It is a disheartening realization. And if that dream was one of those measures of success, it can feel as if your whole life is falling apart. Nevermind all the other big and full, fill-in-the-gaps stuff that surrounds that dream within your life. All that other stuff is just stuff that helps pass the time until your dreams come true. And if they don't come true... all you have left is stuff and passing time.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

National Anthem

Many of my friends have asked about my demo cd and want to know when I am going to share. Unfortunately, production is on hold due to some unexpected circumstances. Many of my readers probably don't even know that I sing but I have been performing since I was about 9 and for the last 20 years, I have been performing the National Anthem at events across the country. That's what I do. I am the anthem singer. The idea of the cd was to remarket myself and get more anthem jobs. I have said it before and I firmly believe that singing the National Anthem is an honor and a privilege and I love doing it.

*DEEP BREATH*

Now that you have the background... As fate would have it, a friend of mine was at the last game I did for the St. Louis Blues and he taped my performance. It's not the best quality but I want to share it anyway. So, until the demo is done, here's a sample!

Saturday, April 12, 2008

deeper

On the days when I make the effort to pick myself up and dust myself off, it seems as if I just sink deeper and deeper into a hole of self-pity and self-inflicted suffering. Depression is something I have dealt with through others. It is not something I have experienced personally. Until now, I suppose.

I have always thought the word depression was over-used. It's an excuse. It's a way out of getting your shit together and it legitimizes self-absorption or self-centeredness. (Is that a word?) And I have felt this even after living through the effects of bi-polar disorder on someone very close to me. I'm not saying depression isn't real. I am saying it is very real but most people who claim to suffer from it are just... lazy?

That's harsh, I know. It's actually mean.

But today... as I sit wallowing in a pool of snot and salty tears... in between spurts of vacuuming and laundry, of course... I feel a grip on me that I can't shake. It's so tight, I feel my heart in my throat and a pit the size of a grapefruit in my stomach. This is not just sadness anymore. It's bigger than regret. Could it be... gasp... depression?

Time is healing NOTHING. It's pushing me deeper and deeper.

Someone throw me a line... no better yet... throw me some Prozac or something. I don't mind staying in this hole for a while to figure things out. But I sure would like to get my internal organs back in order and turn off the snot spout for a day or two.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

How to Treat One Another

I've been trying to corral my thoughts about how we treat one another and to form a relatively eloquent if not seemingly intelligent post. But I just fail over and over... My basic thought is this: I treat others the way I want to be treated. It sounds like the Golden Rule. But what I mean is... if you don't know what to do for me or what to say to me or how to treat me, take a note from the way that I do things for you or the way I talk to you. And after thinking about that long and hard... I decided the thoughts of others might be more exciting and more impactful. So here are some ideas around how we should or could treat others:

Treat a man as he is, and he will remain as he is. Treat a man as he could be, and he will become what he should be.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

Beginning today, treat everyone you meet as if they were going to be dead by midnight. Extend to them all the care, kindness, and understanding you can muster, and do it with no thought of any reward. Your life will never be the same again.” Og Mandino

How people treat you is their karma; how you react is yours.” Wayne Dyer

If you treat people right they will treat you right -- ninety percent of the time.” Franklin D. Roosevelt

The way you treat yourself sets the standard for others.” Sonya Friedman

If I accept you as you are, I will make you worse; however if I treat you as though you are what you are capable of becoming, I help you become that” Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe

"Never look down on anybody unless you're helping him up." Jesse Jackson

"If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion." Dalai Lama

"Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around. " Leo Buscaglia


I'm Sorry... Please Stop Apologizing

Dr. Wayne Dyer, internationally reknowned author and speaker in the area of self-development (per his website) says that we are treated the way that we TEACH others to treat us.

Over the last few weeks, I have been struggling to uncover why it seems others are always apologizing to me. One would think, at first, that apologies are a good thing. An apology is, after all, an expression of remorse or an act of contrition. It is the way in which most of us restart our relationships. There is a disagreement or an argument or a hurt of some kind that enters into our union with another and while an apology does not resolve the issue, it often allows us to move past it and to start again.

I am quick to forgive. I try to hold grudges sometimes but they never last. I can put up a front for a long time but internally, I forgive nearly instantly. (Probably not a good thing to reveal... online... in front of all five of my readers.) Those who are easy to forgive tend to be taken for granted.

When you are receiving apology upon apology... I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm sorry... what does it say about you? Most people would wonder what it says about the apologizer who has to constantly say I'm sorry. But I wonder what it says about ME. Am I allowing people to treat me badly? Am I teaching those around me that it's ok to hurt me because I will forgive and forget?

An occasional "I'm sorry" as in "I'm sorry, I interrupted" or "I'm sorry I took the last Diet Pepsi" is harmless and acceptable and even a good thing. But when forgiveness is sought for deeper hurts or life changing events, hearing "I'm sorry" often is... well, it's sad.

I have a friend who I often think is wiser than Wayne Dyer. She says that people only apologize to help themselves and not for the benefit of others. Saying I'm sorry is merely justification for bad behavior or a way to relieve one's conscience. If she's right, then maybe I am not just a pushover. Maybe I am just a really bad judge of character.

Either way, I don't want to hear another apology for a long time. So the next time you cut me off in traffic, feel good about it. Don't apologize. You got where you wanted to be, right? And if you're in front of me in line at Target and they have to do a price check, don't feel bad and tuck your tail between your legs. Hold your head up high. You have a purchase to make and it's something you really want. It's not your fault it doesn't have a tag. Or if you bump into me and cause me to spill my beer at the baseball game... save the apology and just hand over the ten bucks I'll need to replace it. But DON'T tell me you're sorry. Even if you are. I've got at least three months worth of "I'm Sorry" stored up and I don't need any more.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Going it alone

Recently, during a three-hour conversation, I realized that no matter how hard I try to force life to happen the way I would like it to happen, it wasn't going to happen that way.

The space that surrounds me is odd, uncomfortable and just plain painful. I want out! And I want out now! There is a rush of emotions with which I have no relative experience. I feel unimportant and almost unnecessary to the people around me. I feel a little hopeless and a little scared. I feel like nobody cares about what I am going through or that they don't understand. And I feel like people who SHOULD have a desire to understand it and who should be here to help or who should just be here to do nothing... don't and aren't... I have an overwhelming feeling of "going it alone."

They say that if you can't stand to be alone than you don't like yourself very much. And they are probably a little bit right about that. Who better to spend quiet time with than yourself? Who understands you and relates to you and empathizes with you better than you? Who sees your vision, holds on to your dreams and longs for their fulfillment as strongly and hopefully as you?

So I should find joy in this place, I suppose.

But not long ago, I discovered someone that brought a sense of forever into my life for the first time. Before he arrived, cigarette in hand and peering over his sunglasses, every situation in my life felt temporary. Somewhere in the back of my mind or the depths of my heart, I knew that every relationship I had been in and every job I had and every home in which I lived was just for a little while. It's sad, I know. But it was. And I knew it.

Then, I met him. And suddenly I saw forever. And I felt a kinship and a partner ship that would endure trials and pain and that would enjoy joys and the gifts of this life. And so it makes no sense for me to be going it alone right now. It makes no sense at all.

Everyone I know, including strangers who read this blog, says that I should move on. Go it alone and get what I want. Even he has said that. He says I know what I want and I shouldn't wait for others to be ready before I move forward. Because I could be waiting for a long time.

I guess I'll be going it alone. For now. Until the rest of you catch up..

Henry David Thoreau - “The man who goes alone can start today; but he who travels with another must wait till that other is ready, and it may be a long time before they get off.”

Opening Day 2008

Yesterday, was opening day for Major League Baseball. For me and many of my friends, it is the beginning of not only baseball season, but also of at least 6 months of togetherness.

OUR SECTION IN THE BLEACHERS opened this season minus our friend Phil and for the first time ever, many of us missed the parade that kicked off the opening ceremonies. The St. Louis Cardinals, OUR TEAM, opened the season without a fellow player and without a big man from the front office and with low expectations from the baseball experts around the country. OUR BAR, Paddy O's, opened with new owners who have no understanding of the importance of regular patrons and with increased beer prices that may force us down the road a piece to a new hangout. OUR CITY forgot to order the beautiful sun-shiny weather that we usually have on opening day and the game ended up getting rained out.

So, the first official game will start all over tonight. We will have an Opening Day Do-Over. But the dramatic difference in the start of the 2008 season is symbolic for me. Just because you have done something the same way for years and it has worked... Well, it doesn't mean you can't try something new and make that work too. 2008 is a fresh start for our group, our team, our bar and our town.

For me 2008 is a fresh start in every aspect of my life and I receive daily reminders of that, so an opening day filled with newness and unfamiliarity was no surprise to me. A little uncomfortable, as most days are lately... but no surprise really. I'm thankful for a do-over of opening day. Twice as much fun for us this year. May that be symbolic as well...