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Graduations… celebrations…

Tonight was the last telecon class of my Kaizen-Muse Creativity Coaching training. What a cool bunch of women I’ve met, all extremely talented in their own right.

    I had a breakthrough this week on some concepts I’ve been lugging around with me, that didn’t serve me well. I’ve been in the habit of limiting myself with the use of negative self-talk, one of the many self-sabotaging “tools” if you will, and find that I am not the only one afflicted. In fact, it’s so rampant that I’m amazed any of us get anything done.

      I’ve found that I get the most done when I simply ignore limitations (whether real or imagined) and plod through to reach the other side. Worrying about something accomplishes nothing… except perhaps putting off the task at hand for that much longer. Many of us are so busy worrying about how NOT to do something, to wiggle out of a responsibility, that the task would most likely be completed within the time period we spend on avoidance.

        While researching “looks” of successful websites/blogs, Jill (Badonsky, the author of Nine Modern Day Muses and a Body Guard, and co-creator of the Kaizen-Muse Creativity Coaching program) suggested we take a look at this site. During my perusal, I came upon this article, which I wanted to share with you, because it strikes a deep chord for me and I suspect (since I am not very different from most creative types) it will in you as well. I especially like the Yoda quote from Star Wars… because that line was like a sucker punch when it came whizzing at me during a recent re-watching of this movie… and it sounded like something my father had said to me… “Don’t try… do!” Makes sense. It is somewhat akin to another quote, this one attributed to Henry Link: Those who hesitate because of the fear of making mistakes are being passed by those who are busy making mistakes and perfecting themselves.

          There are many times I’ve asked people to do something, and I’ve received the “I’ll try” reply… which I have found translates into, “Nice try… I don’t think I’ll be trying to do this anytime soon, suckah!” and amounts to absolutely nothing, but they’ve managed to tell you no without really telling you no (thinking they have also avoided to hurt your feelings, when really all they have done is piss you off because they’ve fallen short of your expectations).

            Well… I’ve rambled on plenty long on the subject, and will cap this post off with a short “suggested reading” list having to do with NLP (neuro-linguistic programming):

              Magic of NPL Demystified by Byron Lewis & Frank Pucelik (ISBN 1-5552-017-0)

                NLP: The New Technology of Achievement NLP Comprehensive by Steve Andreas & Charles Faulkner (ISBN 0-688-14619-8)

                  Mental Coaching-Utilizing Neuro-Linguistic Programming for Better Quality of Work Life, Job Performance, and Lasting Behavioral Change by Trygve Roos (ISBN 1-55395-469-6)

                    Trance-Formations: Neuro-Linguistic Programming and the Structure of Hypnosis by John Grinder (ISBN 0911226230)

                      Reframing: Neuro-linguistic Programming and The Transformation of Meaning (Paperback)by Richard Bandler & John Grindler (ISBN 0911226257)

                        And… happy Chinese new year! Be well and prosper!

                        Turquoise & brown… almost done

                        Watercolor on 400lb cold press Arches paper…
                        Still a work-in-progress… but closer to being done

                        The latest development on my turquoise-brown postcards. I think I’ll be doctoring up two of the nine cards once they’re cut up, but I think I’m done painting now. It’s funny… I just get bored with something and even though it’s not ‘zactly perfect, I’m ready to move on to something else. As my friend Sanaz from work would say: “It is what it is…”

                        Oh… the souffles never happened, but I did make some kick-ass crepes on Sunday morning for me and Gabriel. 🙂

                        Mi muzsikus lelkek, mi bohĂ©m fiĂşk

                        My mother

                        Translated, the heading roughly reads: We musical souls, we bohemian boys… this was my father’s favorite song, though I don’t remember all of the lyrics and would love to know them all.

                        Last night Bonnie and I went to the Orange County Performing Arts Center’s Samueli Theatre to Hungarian Festival: Gypsy Fire, which is part of the Chamber Music Series. Both of us have a little (or a lot, in my case) of Hungarian in us, and so we’d decided to check it out. The performances featured The Carpathian Folk Quartet (playing traditional Hungarian gypsy music), Mykola Suk (on piano), and Paul Manaster and Jeanne Skrocki (on violin). The Quaret performed songs which were most likely heard time and again throughout my childhood, and yet though some of it seemed familiar, the violinist’s interpretation of some of the music was off-beat… an almost blues-ey take on them. My favorite part of the show was after the intermission, when the Quartet and the two violinists Manaster and Skrocki were playing back and forth, alternating between bits of Hungarian folk pieces and the classical pieces inspired from them.

                        I love the sound of the violin, particularly when playing Hungarian folk songs. My parents and their friends (dragging all of the kids along as well) would occasionally go to local Hungarian restaurants… the Piroska in Montreal (later called Csardas and also called the Hungaria) and a Hungarian restaurant in downtown Toronto, whose name escapes me at the moment. The food was always good, but the music… During each of these outings, the songs performed could alternately produce a misty eye or raucous vocal accompaniment, depending upon the piece (and perhaps upon the quantity of alchohol consumed). As though through osmosis, those same songs could bring tears to my eyes as well, or make my heart soar and my feet wantt to kick up their heels of their own accord. I sometimes suspect it’s cellular memory, ingrained into my DNA as inexorably as my hair and eye color.


                        Moleskine entry with Prismacolor markers

                        Halfway through Saturday and I haven’t accomplished a whole lot. I’ve been watching Gabriel play his new videogame all morning, and messing around with my blog. I’ve scanned in and added some new (back-tracked) entries, seeing that I’ve not been very good about adding things in the last month or so. Not sure what’s up with that, other than perhaps having reached a whole new level of jadedness (is that even a word?!).

                        It’s all in the details…

                        Prismacolor markers on sales receipt

                        Hmmm… perhaps it’s due to it being Friday the 13th, but doggone it, I tried for hours to sign up for a journaling class today, and NIGHTMARE doesn’t even come close to describing my experience. I had this horrible feeling that I would spontaneously combust, I was so irked. So, nine bucks in the hole and a whole lot of aggravation later, I’ve decided that the universe was telling me NOT to sign up for this thing, no matter HOW much I thought I wanted to participate.

                        I left the apartment with my son in tow to run a few errands… paid some bills, stopped at the videogame store so that the little man could trade in some of his games for a new batch, and picked up some Prismacolor markers at the art store (not to mention a stop at Tilly’s for a nice new sweatshirt). The rain started sprinkling as we left the shopping center, and by the time we got home, it was pouring in earnest, and accompanied by an occasional spark of lightening.

                        We stopped for dinner at Pasta Bravo and I decided to test out the markers on the sales receipt. I was in such a foul mood, I figured I’d draw something to match my mood… hence, bubble gum girl was born. She’s green… she’s goth… she’s grumpy… just like me.

                        Thought bubbles… common sense… struggles with imperfection… & a new friend

                        My husband returned from a trip to England at the beginning of this week toting a cold. Regardless of consuming large quantities of Airborne tablets (straight up… “Oh, I let them dissolve on my tongue… they fizzle… I ate a whole containerful and bought another one over there… maybe that’s why I’m farting like a horse…”) he managed to catch the cold that everyone seems to be ailing from, including about half of the folks in my office. I’m hoping that this is the strain that I caught middle of August and that I will be spared from a second round.

                        Thought bubbles—
                        …coughing, incessant coughing… and some snorting, too
                        “Are you going to take anything for that?” I ask.
                        “I dunno what to take… what should I take?” he inquires.
                        (I dunno… we have a medicine cabinet-ful of potential options… do like I do—and that you invariably make pointed, rather unkind remarks about—and read the fucking labels after you figure out what ails you)
                        “Well… how do you feel? Is your nose stuffy? Does your throat hurt? Are you achey?”
                        “Yeah, my nose is stuffy… my throat hurts… I’m coughing… but I’m not achey…”
                        (Okay… something with a decongestant, an antihistamine but no pain/fever reliever…)

                        Common sense—
                        Well, I’d like to say that I have it, but it eludes even me sometimes… As I lay in bed last night, after being awakened by an assault of into-my-face-coughing … uh-oh… I feel another thought bubble coming on… (if I manage to avert the possibility of catching this cold, it will be a fucking miracle)… I wonder why I can’t fall back asleep again, even after Steve leaves the bed to sleep on the LaZboy… my heart’s pounding like nobody’s business. It feels like there’s a rollercoaster in there and my heart muscles are having a grand old time… then I remember… I’ve had altogether TOO much caffeine during the day… a get-me-going morning cup of Peet’s coffee at the office… a cup of coffee at the Daily Grill (my bosses took me to lunch today just ‘cuz)… a glass of Diet Coke with my Indian dinner and the last batch of caffeine consumption was after our Barnes & Noble/Starbucks stop, when I picked up a chai tea latte. I really need to limit myself to one cup… I’ve been doing okay with that.

                        A new friend—
                        On the other hand, my Barnes and Noble visit bore fruit… not only of the book variety (yes, I did previously mention that I’m a book whore… that has not changed), but I also made a new acquaintance. During my wandering about the store I meandered into the Eastern Philosophy aisle and was welcomed by a woman sitting in the middle of it, with a collection of Dalai Lama books strewn about her. I couldn’t resist asking her whether she’d heard him speak at the California Governor’s Conference for Women earlier this week.
                        She said “No! Did you? Did you go to see heem?” (note the French accent)
                        I said “No, I didn’t go, but it was webcast, and I watched that from my computer at home.”
                        “What did he speak about?” she asked.
                        “He is so funny! He made me laugh! He did not share any deep teachings. It was mostly common sense things… general life counseling.” I said.
                        Noting the accent and never one to deny myself this query…
                        “Do you speak French?” I asked.
                        “Yes! I’m from Switzerland.” she replied.

                        We continued on with our conversation, switching back and forth between French and English, and I discovered that she has been a student of buddhism for about a decade. I am rather new to buddhism. Essentially, the fundamental philosophies are based on the Vedas, the same ancient sanskrit writings that the many facets of hinduism are based upon. I always wonder why one way would be preferable (in a spiritual sense) to another way. The fundaments of all teachings are very similar. It’s when you get into the esotherica that it becomes more complicated and consequently more rewarding and/or taxing on the follower. I’ve always been one to refuse to be mired down by dogma… I can’t imagine how eating with one hand and not the other will make a difference to God… or that I will disgrace myself before God by not covering my head because I am a woman.

                        I’d never heard the Dalai Lama speak before. He is the funniest person! He had a spritely look about him… a mischievous smile that was infectious. Maria Shriver asked him several questions throughout his forty-five minute address to the crowd, and his replies were simple… common sense. I marvel at our modern-day inability to distill a situation down to its simplest element. We are so bogged down by the “reality” of life that we can’t cut through all the bullshit and find a simple answer to our basic needs.

                        Fabienne and I talk some more, and she asks me what it is that I am looking for. Quite honestly, I’m not sure. When I left home at eighteen for an ashram, my intention was to become a brahmin… I wanted to wear the string and the priviledge of knowing the gyatri mantra. I wanted liberation from this bodily experience… I wanted off this karma ride. I studied the Bhagavad Gita, the Srimad-Bhagavatam and the Sri Chaitanya Charitamrita, attended artis and even performed the Tulasi arti myself on some days. But, during this whole time, something kept gnawing at me. I’d not only adapted the philosophy, I’d adopted the way of life down to the threads (I wore a sari). Living in a Western community, this somehow did not make any sense. Secluded, essentially, from the rest of the population (or “karmis” as non-believers were addressed amongst ourselves), it was not so difficult to uphold the precepts of the philosphy. However, I’d decided that I needed to walk away from that… that if I could not live my life, and find a way to integrate this philosophy into it, then I was not ready to dance among the gopis on Krishna Goloka. So I left.

                        Last week my Amazon order showed up (yes, there’s the book issue again…) and in it the movie The Little Buddha. Apart from the fact that Keanu plays a role in the movie, and as my son kindly announced to the grocery store last night after seeing the DVD display of A Lake House, “My mom LIKES Keanu…” and then turning to me and saying “Aren’t you going to buy this movie? Don’t you want every Keanu movie?” …to which I replied “No…” I did want to see The Little Buddha. I was delighted with the portrayal of Siddartha. When I’d read about buddhism in my earlier years, I was quite miffed with Siddartha. How could he possibly leave his wife and newborn baby behind to follow the road to enlightenment? I still think that he should have taken responsibility for the raising of his son, though given the cultural circumstances, the child would not have had a whole lot of parental nurturing anyway. So… back to the movie… I watch as Siddartha becomes an ascetic monk, until he comes to the realization, as I did, that we are here in this body for a reason, and we need to deal with it as much as we do with our mind and spirit. It needs to be honored, not ignored. The middle way was born. How profound. Now I must read on, and see if it makes sense to me.

                        For the longest time I’d been resentful of being here, on this world, in this body. I’ve done just about everything to this body… abused it mercilessly… and yet it is still here. I don’t always like it, and it certainly isn’t the embodiment of perfection, but it’s stuck with me and by this virtue has shown itself to be quite indispensible. While I do imagine that if I was given the choice of getting off the wheel of Samsara, I would choose not to return… but then, perhaps, I would feel a sense of obligation to the world and its souls and want to return, just so that perhaps I can reach the one person who really needs to hear what I have to say.

                        Spinning wildly out of control…

                        Yup, that’s me. And I’d like to attribute the sprained back muscle to the wild spinning, but the truth of the matter is that I did it in a most undignified manner… bending over in the john to pick up one of those cowboy hats (otherwise known as toilet seat covers) that had fallen onto the floor, with my knickers pooled around my ankles. Yeah, too much information, I know.

                        So… back to the wild spinning. Although I overheard a suggestion for a trip to Magic Mountain this weekend, this has nothing to do with an amusement park ride. In fact, it’s just the opposite. I get so frustrated with myself sometimes… The Critic shows up (uninvited) and proceeds to wreak havoc to what little confidence I’ve managed to muster up with regard to my skill as an artist (or writer). I sit before the blank sheets of paper and balk. My stomach churns. I break out in a sweat. I think of the myriad other things I need to take care of instead of focusing on the task at hand. My mind wanders. I fantasize about Keanu Reeeves (did I just say that? I was kidding…). I think of the laundry that needs to be sorted by color and weight, schlepped out onto the balcony and loaded into the washer, then the dryer… then schlepped back inside and folded and put away. I think about the laps on the treadmill I ought to be doing (not to mention the crunches).

                        I decide that watching the Matrix movie with my kid is much more appealing than to sit down and draw something, particularly when it’s due to someone in a few days. Researching the mythology embedded into the movie seems to make far better use of my time than to work on anything substantive (like the story I was going to write and stopped writing half a year or so ago)… particularly when I discover that The Merovingian links that I unearth scream “conspiracy” and this sucks me in like a vacuum, as I trail from one weblink to the next, and finally go to bed with my head feeling like a bowl stuffed full of wet cottonballs. I lay down alone, as I’ve been doing for the better part of twelve of my thirteen years of marriage (unless of course it’s one of “those” nights [wink, wink] which for the most part is a less desirable option at times than the half empty bed part, because even on those nights I end up drifting off to sleep by myself once the deed is done. It’s a cruel form of pay-back for every one night stand that I initiated which resulted in my partners feeling cheap and used.

                        And then I wake before the crack of dawn, after hitting the snooze button more times than I ought to, which renders me late to work, and hence leaving the office later at the tail end of my work day, and starts the whole maniacal cycle over again.

                        Truth of the matter is (I say that often, don’t I?) I’m not feeling particularly inspired these days. I haven’t been for a while, and I feel so full of shit when I try to drum something up that really isn’t authentic, if you know what I mean? Truth of the matter is… I am bored. My life is like a scene out of Groundhog Day (only different)… same shit, different day… and I just can’t seem to shake that gad-awful feeling and get worked up about something enough to overcome that dreadful sinking feeling.

                        I’m stuck in the black hole of The Corporate World, at the lowliest end of it, right along with the bottom feeders of the deep. We’re a necessary and useful group, to be sure, but don’t make much of an impression, and the grand entrances are carried out by the bigger fish. Nobody really gives a shit about you, except when you don’t follow the rules. And lordy, there certainly are a litany of rules… a whole “employee’s manual”-worth, biblical in breadth (yeah, so what if I’m exaggerating a wee bit).

                        There are days I just feel like running away… far, far, away. I remember reading about a fugue state in one of Dean Koontz’ books, where folks run, saliva foaming at the mouth and everything, until they finally collapse. I imagine, at times, that that would be a preferable state. And then feel horribly guilty about even thinking about running away, because I do, after all, have a smallish child (though I can attest that he has a disproportionally BIG mouth at times). The phrase “freedom of choice” smacks of oxymoron to me. Do I have a choice? Well… yeah… between a rock and a hard place, and in my most humble opinion, that isn’t much of a choice at all.

                        Piece of (my) mind…

                        For many years now, I’ve been trying (and I think largely succeeding) in consolidating the different aspects of my personality so that I am as authentic at all times as I can possibly be, with all people. It’s taken a lot of work… constant effort and diligence in questioning my actions, my motivations, and wondering whether I’m behaving in a certain way because of what my innermost workings subscribe, or because of exterior circumstances. If it’s the latter, then I need to reexamine myself and make sure to behave in a manner consistent with who I am on a core level when faced with a similar choice in the future.

                        Today was a trying day. There are days when I marvel at the world. I marvel at how we naively assume that peace can be achieved worldwide when peace, in the smallest of microcosms (one department of a large corporation… or within a family unit), seems to elude us. We continue to be preoccupied with such artifice as what brand of clothes we wear, whether we are thin or not, worry about the number of wrinkles and old age spots we sport, what neighborhood we live in, (amongst various and sundry equally vapid considerations) and measure all others against these set of ‘rules’ and our personal interpretation of what is and is not acceptable. We are so full of shit.

                        Once, a great man said “Ask not what your country can do for you—ask what can you do for your country.” This theory works on a smaller scale as well. We are so preoccupied as to whether we are being equitably treated that we forget how to treat those around us equitably. My gauge has always been “would I like to be treated in this way?” when I’m saying or doing something. Apparently, the golden rule, though many of us proclaim to be Christians, somehow has lost its relevance, particularly when it comes to gauging our own actions. It seems it only applies in a single direction. Really, I believe that it is the ONE rule that should be upheld, as it is the simplest to embrace, and encompasses all. Don’t do it if hurts.

                        I’d never heard President Kennedy’s inaugural speech. It occurred several years before I was born, and being a Canadian, it was not something that was requisite course material throughout my schooling. I finally read the whole thing and was moved. The same issues that affected the world then are still pertinent now. How is it that most of half a century has elapsed and we still have only marginally progressed toward achieving the very noble goals listed in this speech, either on a personal, national or global level?

                        So here is that famous January 20, 1961 inaugural address, in its entirety:

                        Vice President Johnson, Mr. Speaker, Mr. Chief Justice, President Eisenhower, Vice President Nixon, President Truman, reverend clergy, fellow citizens, we observe today not a victory of party, but a celebration of freedom – symbolizing an end, as well as a beginning – signifying renewal, as well as change. For I have sworn before you and Almighty God the same solemn oath our forebears prescribed nearly a century and three quarters ago.

                        The world is very different now. For man holds in his mortal hands the power to abolish all forms of human poverty and all forms of human life. And yet the same revolutionary beliefs for which our forebears fought are still at issue around the globe – the belief that the rights of man come not from the generosity of the state, but from the hand of God.

                        We dare not forget today that we are the heirs of that first revolution. Let the word go forth from this time and place, to friend and foe alike, that the torch has been passed to a new generation of Americans – born in this century, tempered by war, disciplined by a hard and bitter peace, proud of our ancient heritage – and unwilling to witness or permit the slow undoing of those human rights to which this Nation has always been committed, and to which we are committed today at home and around the world.

                        Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, in order to assure the survival and the success of liberty.

                        This much we pledge – and more.

                        To those old allies whose cultural and spiritual origins we share, we pledge the loyalty of faithful friends. United, there is little we cannot do in a host of cooperative ventures. Divided, there is little we can do – for we dare not meet a powerful challenge at odds and split asunder.

                        To those new States whom we welcome to the ranks of the free, we pledge our word that one form of colonial control shall not have passed away merely to be replaced by a far more iron tyranny. We shall not always expect to find them supporting our view. But we shall always hope to find them strongly supporting their own freedom – and to remember that, in the past, those who foolishly sought power by riding the back of the tiger ended up inside.

                        To those peoples in the huts and villages across the globe struggling to break the bonds of mass misery, we pledge our best efforts to help them help themselves, for whatever period is required – not because the Communists may be doing it, not because we seek their votes, but because it is right. If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich.

                        To our sister republics south of our border, we offer a special pledge – to convert our good words into good deeds – in a new alliance for progress – to assist free men and free governments in casting off the chains of poverty. But this peaceful revolution of hope cannot become the prey of hostile powers. Let all our neighbours know that we shall join with them to oppose aggression or subversion anywhere in the Americas. And let every other power know that this Hemisphere intends to remain the master of its own house.

                        To that world assembly of sovereign states, the United Nations, our last best hope in an age where the instruments of war have far outpaced the instruments of peace, we renew our pledge of support – to prevent it from becoming merely a forum for invective – to strengthen its shield of the new and the weak – and to enlarge the area in which its writ may run.

                        Finally, to those nations who would make themselves our adversary, we offer not a pledge but a request: that both sides begin anew the quest for peace, before the dark powers of destruction unleashed by science engulf all humanity in planned or accidental self-destruction.

                        We dare not tempt them with weakness. For only when our arms are sufficient beyond doubt can we be certain beyond doubt that they will never be employed.

                        But neither can two great and powerful groups of nations take comfort from our present course – both sides overburdened by the cost of modern weapons, both rightly alarmed by the steady spread of the deadly atom, yet both racing to alter that uncertain balance of terror that stays the hand of mankind’s final war.

                        So let us begin anew – remembering on both sides that civility is not a sign of weakness, and sincerity is always subject to proof. Let us never negotiate out of fear. But let us never fear to negotiate.

                        Let both sides explore what problems unite us instead of belabouring those problems which divide us.

                        Let both sides, for the first time, formulate serious and precise proposals for the inspection and control of arms – and bring the absolute power to destroy other nations under the absolute control of all nations.

                        Let both sides seek to invoke the wonders of science instead of its terrors. Together let us explore the stars, conquer the deserts, eradicate disease, tap the ocean depths, and encourage the arts and commerce.

                        Let both sides unite to heed in all corners of the earth the command of Isaiah – to “undo the heavy burdens -. and to let the oppressed go free.”

                        And if a beachhead of cooperation may push back the jungle of suspicion, let both sides join in creating a new endeavour, not a new balance of power, but a new world of law, where the strong are just and the weak secure and the peace preserved.

                        All this will not be finished in the first 100 days. Nor will it be finished in the first 1,000 days, nor in the life of this Administration, nor even perhaps in our lifetime on this planet. But let us begin.

                        In your hands, my fellow citizens, more than in mine, will rest the final success or failure of our course. Since this country was founded, each generation of Americans has been summoned to give testimony to its national loyalty. The graves of young Americans who answered the call to service surround the globe.

                        Now the trumpet summons us again – not as a call to bear arms, though arms we need; not as a call to battle, though embattled we are – but a call to bear the burden of a long twilight struggle, year in and year out, “rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation” – a struggle against the common enemies of man: tyranny, poverty, disease, and war itself.

                        Can we forge against these enemies a grand and global alliance, North and South, East and West, that can assure a more fruitful life for all mankind? Will you join in that historic effort?

                        In the long history of the world, only a few generations have been granted the role of defending freedom in its hour of maximum danger. I do not shank from this responsibility – I welcome it. I do not believe that any of us would exchange places with any other people or any other generation. The energy, the faith, the devotion which we bring to this endeavour will light our country and all who serve it — and the glow from that fire can truly light the world.

                        And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country.

                        My fellow citizens of the world: ask not what America will do for you, but what together we can do for the freedom of man.

                        Finally, whether you are citizens of America or citizens of the world, ask of us the same high standards of strength and sacrifice which we ask of you. With a good conscience our only sure reward, with history the final judge of our deeds, let us go forth to lead the land we love, asking His blessing and His help, but knowing that here on earth God’s work must truly be our own.

                        And so… think on it… what if greed was replaced by charity… if hatred was replaced with love… if desolation was replaced with hope and faith, not in our respective Gods, but in each other? Imagine…