Monthly Archives: June 2011

More Than Meets The Ear

Posted in: General on 06/29/11 by

Three years ago I purchased what I thought was an innovative cell phone.  Keep in mind I have always been a little behind with the trends in digital technology.  I really didn’t care if I had a cell phone or not but all the mothers I knew kept telling me how important it was to stay in touch with my 8th grade daughter.  That lovely autumn day I signed a two year contract and purchased one for Mariah as well on the “2 for 1 Plan” with AT&T.  I cannot remember the price but something tells me it was $99.99 for two phones.  The young sales clerk who helped us that day was bored or tired and didn’t offer any advice about the phone or how to use it.  I guess he figured at my age I certainly would know how to use the camera and answer the phone.  I remember him saying, “Read the manual.”  Besides the two basic talents of my new device several pages of apps were offered.  This is when it got sticky. I would hit the button to navigate to all the cell phone activities and my finger would stick on the main control which I found very frustrating.  I gave up quickly and decided it really didn’t matter because both Mariah and I are in agreement; we don’t like talking on the phone. It was obvious to us that our pair of digital phones would be for emergencies only.  Outside the store she did show me how to use the camera and I took a picture of her in front of AT&T. Happily that is the image I saw when on rare occasions the phone would ring. I never took another picture with this 2 x 3 ½ black cell phone.  My husband insisted that both these were not worth the money because neither one of us use our phones. 

This has all changed with my new toy the iPhone 3GS.  Okay I am still behind; the iPhone 4 has been out for a year and the iPhone 5 is due in September but I was able to upgrade my original contract with AT& T and purchase the iPhone3GS for $49.99. I have been looking at the marvelous Apple ads for three years in awe of the applications but wouldn’t even let myself get excited because of the price.  I think originally they were $499 and then went down to $399.  But this isn’t just about the price.  This is about convenience, efficiency, and entertainment.

The packaging of my new iPhone was designed beautifully by Apple.  Because of my aesthetic sensibilities this hasn’t gone unnoticed. The box itself is enticing with the colorful apps including my favorites: Notes, iTunes, Mail, Messages, Calendar and the Camera with the ability to send the pictures I take immediately to friends and family.  After enjoying the product for several days I found their manual called “Finger Tips” which is the quick start guide.  I can also learn even more at www.apple.com/iphone.   

For the last eight years I have been writing articles for various publications which means I am using my computer a large part of each day.  Often I will need to do research or ask questions of people on my e-mail list.  The person I communicate with the most often is Rhonda Boudreaux my friend and publicist.  She is on the phone or at her computer, sometimes at the same time, all day long.  If I e-mail her sometimes I have to wait for her answer when I am dying to know right now.  Never did I think I would be sending text messages, never.  What a thrill to write a short question and receive an answer within minutes.  For me this is easier than calling a number and worrying about interrupting another person’s day. This is the ticket to communicating with Mariah when she is in school.  I can’t believe it has taken me so long to find this out.  I think this new exciting tool has unleashed a passion in me for a much greater digital experience.  We’ll see.

Serendipity

Posted in: General, Serendipity on 06/22/11 by

When something is meant to be there will be an easy flow. It will feel natural like breathing. I have heard this for years and at this point in my life, because I am open to believing, it is what I experience almost daily. Sometimes situations are so unexpectedly joyous one has to think it must be destined. My family is fortunate to be a part of such an event.

When we bought our house in 1997 I was thrilled to have a guest bedroom. I dreamed that our family and friends would come to visit. So many folks have busy lives and careers that it didn’t seem to happen, all but for one welcome returning guest. Bryan’s former college roommate and dearest friend Mike, who was in our wedding 25 years ago, has visited our home a few times a year for the past several years. Mike lives in Orange County, CA but works in the Bay Area frequently. When he is in town he generously takes our family to dinner and we catch up on the details of both his life and ours. He warmly calls our third bedroom, “My Room.” Mike has a lovely wife and two teenage sons, one a year older than our daughter Mariah and one a year younger. On every visit we will share stories about the kids, their education, interests, and personality traits and generally learn about the boys from a distance. His wife joins him about once a year so she and I catch up on a lot of missed information. Their handsome family picture is displayed on an end-table in “Mike’s Room” and I have found myself thinking how much I would love to meet his sons.

 On one visit about three years ago Mike told us about a marvelous on-line career assessment program that their school district gives every student beginning in the 9th grade. The link to the site is www.kudernavigator.com. He showed me on his lap-top the results of his oldest son’s tests. I was impressed when I saw the results of 99.9% in IT. It wasn’t surprising to Mike as his son is quite proficient in drawing and animation. This brought his son John to life for me when Mike talked about his talent in art and love of writing, both of which are my passions as well. I couldn’t wait to share this information with Mariah and soon after Mike left she eagerly wanted to take the career assessment tests.

One morning while I was out shopping she clicked on to this marvelous site and spent about one hour and a half answering questions dealing with her academic knowledge, passion, personality, and many other topics to properly assess her future career capabilities. When I returned she said, “Mom, look at this. I scored 99.9% in IT.” What she also was considering as a career that of a marine biologist didn’t even come close. That day ideas crystallized for our daughter and she has thought of nothing else but her goal of becoming a video game designer. She lives and breathes anything connected to the gaming world. She found that one of the best career colleges for game design was the Academy of Art University in San Francisco right across the Bay Bridge. As a family we have taken two tours of the wonderful school and enrolled Mariah in their Pre-College program for six weeks this summer. What a deal! You pay registration and admission fees only and high school students can take up to four classes which are taught by the same professionals and teachers and who teach the college classes. Mariah is looking forward to this experience but has wished she had a friend to travel to the city with on Bart. She said to me, “I think I might be the only girl in the game design classes.”

A month ago Mike was in town but only had enough time to play golf with Bryan. During the day Bryan told Mike about this wonderful summer opportunity. His son John will be a senior next year and as a family they are beginning to investigate the best schools for him and his interest in animation. He was intrigued with the Academy’s summer program, called his wife immediately and within three days John was enrolled in the school and will be our guest for 6 weeks in “His dad’s room.” We are all thrilled. Mariah will have a buddy to share school experiences, to travel together to the city, and have a new friend who loves Anime as much as she does.

Last week the family flew up for one day to attend the school orientation and one of the guides asked if John and Mariah were brother and sister. My thought was, “They could be.” At lunch the two teenagers talked incessantly and seemed quite at home with each other. Later that day I asked Mariah if she and John had discussed Japan and her answer was no. Two kids living 500 miles apart shared an awesome experience although not at the same time. John two years ago and Mariah last summer each participated in the amazing People to People program founded by Dwight D. Eisenhower as student ambassadors to Japan. The home-stays were top on both their lists as the most pleasurable part of the trip. I feel certain that when John arrives this weekend it will be the beginning of a marvelous journey that he and Mariah will share this summer; one that I call serendipity.

My Daughter’s Father

Posted in: Father's Day, General on 06/15/11 by

I wasn’t fortunate to have a father growing up; he died when I was nine years old.  I have very few memories of my dad.  The ones I do have are not pretty because he was an alcoholic and a gambler.  For years I didn’t even notice Father’s Day on the calendar.  This has all changed because there is a father in the house; my husband Bryan who is an outstanding father to our daughter Mariah.  This blog is in his honor for this special day approaching Sunday.

My husband is 19 years my junior.  Both of us always wanted children but when we married I was already past the child bearing years.  It was quite noble of Bryan to choose to marry me in the face of overwhelming odds that we would be able to have biological offspring.  We were very fortunate to adopt a baby girl when I was 54 years of age.  She is now 15 and is the light of our lives.

From the minute we brought our daughter home from the hospital to present day Bryan has actively participated in Mariah’s upbringing.  As an infant he willingly changed her diapers, carefully bathed her in the kitchen sink, and often rocked her to sleep at night.  I remember times when she was standing in the crib he would fan her with a towel and make her laugh.  I never heard him complain at all about helping me with any of the detailed maintenance required with newborns.

Before Mariah could walk she would prop herself against the wall and beg us to throw her soft toy balls in the shape of soccer balls and baseballs.  Bryan would patiently do this for what seemed like hours.  He thought then that she was destined to play a sport that involved catching.  He took over most of the activities that involved athletics and/or adventure.  Even when she was a toddler he would come home from work and walk with her around the large city block where we lived in San Francisco.  We were very fortunate to live in a small cottage next to the original Mission Delores Parish which comprises both the Basilica and the Old Mission. The steps of the Basilica and a handicap ramp in the back of the church became their playground.  Mariah couldn’t wait for her dad to get home so they could trek outside.

When we moved across the Bay Bridge we discovered that the East Bay Regional Park District was a plethora of parks and activities.  Every single weekend we would go to the park or the zoo.  More often than not Bryan would take Mariah alone to give me a little space.  He patiently would help her ride ponies, push her on the swings, pet the animals, climb the ropes, and just about anything it took to allow Mariah to explore and have fun.

They became quite the duo and you could see the love flowing between them.  When Mariah was in the second grade she expressed a love of soccer.  The community where we live in Oakland has a marvelous volunteer soccer league.  Bryan willingly took the necessary classes required to become a coach.  For seven years he coached his daughter and the team with two practices a week and a game or two on the weekends.  When Mariah moved up to more competitive teams her dad was there for every try-out. This was a wonderful bonding experience for both Bryan and Mariah.

The list of attributes as a father goes on and on.  I know this; we are both fortunate to be sharing a life with a man such as Bryan.  His strength, advice and capable decisions are a blessing.  I wish a Happy Father’s Day to my dearest husband and loving father of our daughter Mariah.  To all you loving fathers Happy Father’s Day as well.

Update

Posted in: General on 06/13/11 by
Starting this week, I’m only going to be posting here on my blog once a week, on Wednesdays (instead of the Monday, Wednesday, Friday schedule I’ve been on for the past weeks.) There are a number of reasons behind it that will lead to a better blogging experience both for me as a blogger and you as a reader.

Nurturing Yourself

Posted in: General, Nurturing Yourself on 06/10/11 by

Do you put all your obligations and duties before anything you do for yourself?  Do you awaken each day exhausted when you get out of bed?  Do you feel you have nothing to look forward to?  Do you have headaches from accumulated stress?  

Most of us spend a majority of our time thinking about work and caring for our families.  Of course our commitments are necessary, and some quite fulfilling, but often we neglect ourselves.  During my “sick” years I did absolutely NOTHING to care for my body or soul.  I was depleted to the point of serious decay and consequently reached my “bottom” which was a spiritual death.  On my path to wellness I needed to learn techniques of how to administer a steady dose of self-love and nurturing.  These methods can be learned.  I want to share some of these, not to over-whelm you, but to remind you that we each have choices to reduce stress and lead a healthy, well-balanced life.  I feel it is important to do “something” just for yourself before you take care of every thing else pressing in your day.  If this means getting up earlier, than do it. 

1.  The most gratifying practice was to learn to meditate.  Please don’t be scared by this.  I started the easy way, and you can as well, with guided meditation.  A wonderful site for this is www.healthjourneys.com.  I specifically love the work of Belleruth Naparstek.  Her name is difficult to pronounce but her guidance is wonderful.  I was introduced to Belleruth’s CD’s when I was preparing to have hip replacement surgery.  What a great help her soothing voice and meditations were to me.  She offers a variety of healing topics.

2.  I love the sound of water flowing over rocks.  It isn’t always easy to get to a waterfall but you can bring the beauty in the form of a fountain to you.  There are several small water cascades that grace my home.  Each one makes a different sound so it’s a good idea to listen before you buy.

3.  Candle light is very soothing.  I have collected, and have been given as gifts, glass votive candle holders.  My mother-in-law gave me a large decorative object that holds 12 candles or votives.  I light all of them at once when I meditate each morning.  If you live near a Cost Plus World Market they sell a 50 pack of six hour burning votives that are the best deal I have found.  If you focus on the flame it can be mesmerizing and quite relaxing.  Remember to blow them out before you leave the house.

 4.  I recently purchased a Tibetan Singing Bowl after waiting many years.  I was in a Japanese store, Suji in Lafayette, CA and listened to the resonance that went straight to my heart.  You will be able to hear to the vibration on line if you choose to order a bowl that way.  I have used mine so many times.  It calms the energy and carries me to a lighter, happier, more beautiful place.  What a great tool to add to your practice of sitting quietly and meditating.

5.  Play the sounds of nature on your I Pod or CD’s when you awaken, as beautiful background music anytime during the day, or at bedtime.  When you hear rain, or wind, or chirping birds of the rainforest you will be transported to another world.

For special “me” time later in the day if you can, walk in nature, take a nap, or read a book.  I have learned to actually schedule these activities in between duties.  Even ½ hour of one of these choices will help you feel less depleted and more fulfilled.  I hope you will be open to trying one of these suggestions.  It is important to enjoy our lives. For me the best way to begin was to start small and then gradually these practices have become a focal point of each day.  I look forward to being at peace with myself and just “being.” What about you?