Friday, November 30, 2012

Pod Club : Creation Theory

(This week's Pod Club pick can be found HERE)

I've always considered myself creative, and yet never wondered if it could be measured. When I meet other people that I consider extra creative it can be tempting to try to measure my aptitude to theirs but it's impossible. First of all, I think every single human is a creative being. I believe that each one of us has a need to create.  Don't you feel sometimes like a day is lacking of realness if you haven't created something? It could be something big like writing a song, choreographing a dance or painting a picture, but lots of people don't even realize they are fulfilling the human need to create by simply thinking up a new recipe or accessorizing an outfit in a new way.  

I just don't think that creativity can be measured. Not only do I think it can't be measured, I don't think it should be. Creativity is magical. Measuring it would only put it in a box and creativity begins by thinking outside the box (or throwing the box out the window altogether).  

Let's let creativity and imagination be the broad wondrous things they are. We should be encouraging children to hold onto their imaginary friends, their inquisitive nature and their fearlessness to try new things. Who cares which of us are predisposed to being "better" at it? What matters is that we continue creating in our day to day lives in any way that makes us happy and adds beauty to the world.  

Pod Club is a weekly meeting of ears and the brains between those ears. Check in on Monday for our weekly episode choice and listen for yourself! Join in the conversation or just check out what we had to say.  Just Jill and Slow Spiral always have great insights so check them out too!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Thought Wrangling

No animals were harmed in the creation of this post.

Put those spurs on and get in that saddle. Those thoughts won't wrangle themselves! They'll keep running wild and crazy in the pastures of your mind unless you take control and show them who's boss. Do you let your thoughts chase you around until you collapse in fear and exhaustion? Bruised and battered, do you wonder if the Rodeo will ever be over?  Well guess what? YOU are the boss of those bullying thoughts. So grab your rope and get to lassoing! 

Need inspiration? Okay I'll see what I can rustle up...

(clearly my time in Texas put me in touch with my inner cowgirl)

Monday, November 26, 2012

Pod Club : Studio 360

"We're always talking about creativity, but what do we mean? Can we find creativity, can we measure it, can we encourage it? Kurt talks with professor and author Gary Marcus (Guitar Zero) about what science tells us about creativity. A researcher shoves jazz musicians into an fMRI machines and has them improvise; an intrepid reporter gets her creativity tested and scored; and a little girl introduces us to her imaginary friends (all of them)."

Pod Club pick of the week is about creativity! I recently found this podcast and so far am always thoroughly entertained. If you like this one, you can go back and listen to some of the older episodes like the one about The Wizard of Oz (so good). Pod Club will reconvene on Friday to share our thoughts. Join Just Jill and myself in our adventures into podcast land! We love having people join in the fun, check out Slow Spiral's take on last weeks podcast from Snap Judgement.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Re-Run as Reality Check

Bill Murray is waking up in the same day, Groundhog Day, again and again and again on my hotel room flat screen. I've seen this movie more than enough, but for the first time I see the hidden message. Life is going to try to teach us the same lesson until we learn, grown and move on. Poor Bill does what most of us do when dealt a bad hand. First he's angry and grumpy and mean to everyone around him. He wants out and that's all he can focus on. Eventually he gets bored and starts messing with people. After a while he stops getting any satisfaction from that and decides he can make the beautiful Andi Macdowell fall in love with him. He takes the time to find out all he can about her until he makes himself her ideal match. This too doesn't work as he wants it to and he still keeps waking up at six a.m. on the same day. He goes through a self destructive phase, finding ways to hurt or kill himself hoping that this will stop the insanity. It doesn't. At a certain point he starts working on himself and trying to better that day for the people around him. He takes time to get to know people just to help them, not to use the information for his own good. He catches falling children, changes old ladies flat tires and administers CPR to an old homeless man. 

If I were to apply this to my own life, what I would take away is that until I stop seeing the world as either for or against me, until I can focus on how my actions are connected to the universe as a whole, until I see that what truly matters is learning and growing in a way that inspires others to do the same...I'll just be waking up in the same day every morning regardless of what my calendar says. 

What is your biggest struggle right now? Do you wake up every day feeling like you did yesterday and you don't like it? Unless you start to make some sort of small changes toward the life you want to have, you'll repeat this day again tomorrow. Today is a good day to figure out what that very first teeny tiny step could be, that one small change that will shake your life out of the re-run cycle. 

Bill finds love with his girl in the end, but more importantly he finds love for himself.  

Friday, November 23, 2012

Pod Cast : A Wish is a Dream

I wish I had a million dollars. But what if I did? Would I want all the trouble that comes along with it? Maybe I'd wonder if my friends were truly my friends or using me for the perks? I might have a hard time managing the money and mentally berating myself for misspending portions of it. I can tell you right now that I would first help out my friends and my family that are in need but what would happen to those relationships? Would it cause more harm then good?

Screw it, I'm taking my million dollars and taking you and you and you (no, not you) to a hidden cottage on the outskirts of a beautiful old city to spend the rest of our days reading and singing and dancing around with no worries and no extravagance. And no forwarding address.

This week's Pod Club pick can be found HERE. It's title : "Be Careful What You Wish For".

Snap Judgement is a fun podcast. I hadn't listened before and I felt good sitting here in my Dallas hotel room listening to stories from a crazy variety of sources. I especially loved the story about the young missionary in Africa with delusions of really teaching poor children there but waking up to the fact that you can't really teach someone who's starving. Once again, a young do-gooder was taught the ultimate life lesson and left with a changed soul. It's too bad it takes seeing children fight over the flour provided to make paste because they know they can eat it.

So what do you wish for? The power of our dreams is real. Dream big but make sure it's what you really want in case all your wildest dreams come true.

Check out Just Jill to see what her wonderful brain had to think about this week's pick and peek over at Slow Spiral in case she had a few opinions too! We would love to have more Pod Club members so let us know if you listened!

This has been the Thanksgiving installment of Pod Club. We'll be back on Monday with a fresh podcast episode to tickle your eardrums.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Yes Thank You

happy couple

happy sisters

happy just jill

happy henry

happy stacy and junie

happy hiker feet

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Two Kinds of People

"There are two kinds of people. One kind, you can just tell by looking at them at what point they congealed into their final selves. It might be a very nice self, but you know you can expect no more surprises from it. Whereas, the other kind keep moving, changing... They are fluid. They keep moving forward and making new trysts with life, and the motion of it keeps them young. In my opinion, they are the only people who are still alive. You must be constantly on your guard against congealing."
- Gail Godwin

I'm sitting in the Burbank airport people watching. Well, technically I have to look down at my computer to type this, but you get the idea. My flight was delayed by an hour which gave me an immense amount of time to kill before even beginning my journey to Dallas. It's so fascinating to watch and listen to people in an airport. In situations like this, where we are all forced onto the same level playing field for a few minutes or hours, true colors shine. The quote above sums it up quite well. As I take stock of the masses of waiting travelers, I can see that clear difference between those who "go with the flow" and "roll with the punches" with panache versus the panic stricken who don't approve of life not going the way they planned. Which am I? I used to be an uptight, self assured, intense girl. I don't think she had much fun to be honest. Slowly but surely I'm melting into the flow and I feel younger and younger as this transformation takes place. With this fluidity comes the freedom to be curious about everything, to approach the world with the heart of a child. Maybe you don't want to feel this vulnerable, but I guarantee it's the best way to go on this ride.

Here I Go Again

I love seeing new places. If only I could get to those places by train. I do not enjoy airports one bit. Don't get me wrong, I'm not afraid to fly at all. I just don't like the long lines, the crowds of cranky people and the hours that take days. My least favorite part is the security line strip tease. 

This morning finds me packed and ready to go to Dallas. Rob is there training to fly a new airplane. What? You heard me right, my husband is a pilot. A good therapist would see that some of my underlying distaste for air travel stems from the fact that it takes my love away from me regularly. I'll be with him for a week. Our Thanksgiving will be hotel style vegan in the city of cows. 

I've never been to Texas so this will be an adventure! 

Monday, November 19, 2012

Pod Club : Snap Judgement

Monday means it's Pod Club time! Snap Judgment is a new one to me, but Jill took a risk and suggested we give it a try. I told her that if it sucks, she singlehandedly ruins Thanksgiving. 

Pod Club is a weekly meeting of ears and the brains between those ears. We pick something delightful on Monday and report back by (about) Friday.  Just Jill and I cooked up this scheme and are slowly but surely bringing other ears on board...and what cute ears they are! So listen with us won't you? It's free and it's fun which is hard to find these days. All podcasts can be found on the linked websites or via iTunes. 

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Some Sunday Inspiration

Some Sunday inspiration for you (yes you!)

"But there is another basic requirement, and I can’t understand now how I forgot it at the time: that is the feeling that you are, in some way, useful. Usefulness, whatever form it may take, is the price we should pay for the air we breathe and the food we eat and the privilege of being alive. And it is its own reward, as well, for it is the beginning of happiness, just as self-pity and withdrawal from the battle are the beginning of misery."
"...people are not born assholes. They behave that way because of their story, what they’ve been through, what they’re lacking in tools, what they’re going through today, and what you trigger in them. Basically this means their behavior has less to do with you and more to do with them. What you are experiencing is them coping. That’s what being an asshole is, coping. It’s their desperate attempt to minimize their anxiety. They are pulling from a place of hurt or void. Know that."

"Self love is the foundation we need to lay down first, so that all of the other elements of a wellness plan stay in place. Without self love, everything crumbles and wellness isn’t sustainable."

The Minimalists : Need Want Like
"There is no silver bullet. It takes time for a flower to bloom. Every beautiful change takes time and action... And although big changes are often simple, they’re rarely easy. But then again, nothing worth doing was ever easy."

Friday, November 16, 2012

Pod Club : Homeless

I went on a quick walk to take a few pictures of what I see every day.

This weeks podcast felt empty to me. It's hard to explain, but hearing these voices talk about homelessness and struggle were nothing compared to what I see every single day.  

Los Angeles has the highest rate of homelessness in America. This does not surprise me one bit. I have only to walk a block or two to encounter more than one person who clearly has no home and no hope. I don't even have to leave my apartment. If I just watch the sidewalk for a while I will undoubtedly see a slow moving brown and gray mass inch by. Looking closely, I can make out a shopping cart and a human form. It's so common here that I no longer even know how to feel about it. I can't save them all. I can't even save one of them. Once in a while I hand over change but do I believe it helps? Not really.  

The problem is so big I have a hard time seeing any solution. I know it stems from a multitude of root problems such as the deinstitutionalization back in the 60's. Mental illness, disability, lack of education, substance abuse...just a few of the problems running rampant in our country. So what do we do? 

Really, I'm asking! What do we do?? Maybe this city has worn me down. 

I'm hoping my co Pod Clubbers, Just Jill and Soft Spiral , have some inspiration for me. 

Pod Club is a weekly meeting of ears and the brains between those ears. We choose one on Monday and say one or two things about it on Friday on our blogs. Love to hear what you might think! One of these days I'll get a comment out of you anonymous readers out there. 

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Don't Change, Just Grow

"In chaos, there is fertility"
Anais Nin

I used to think I needed to change myself to become a better person. This idea that the only way I would ever be happy was to transform in some way haunted me. Trying to change who I am led to a state of alienation from myself. Who was I and why didn't I like that girl? Would I like her better if she had blonde hair? Tried that, nope. Maybe if she listened to different music and read better books? Fun for a while, but still no luck. When external changes didn't work, I started to think of ways to really change who I was from the inside, but that led to more unhappiness. After a few false starts and stops, I've decided not to change. Instead I want to learn to love myself as I am every day. Was I grouchy today? Ok, that's fine I can have compassion for that grouch and love her anyway. Did I let someone I love down? I can forgive myself and move on. Did life throw me a major curveball that I not only failed to catch but that hit me in the head? I've learned that I'm not an athlete but I make a darn good cheerleader. I think I'm learning each day how to take what I'm given and use it as fertilizer for growth, not change. I think I'll stay the same Rachael i've always been. She can learn to relax into just being herself and growing into her life as it comes. 

What about you? Do you think you need to change? Do those thoughts help or harm? Is there a way you could stay who you are and grow in ways that make for a happier you? I'd love to know what you think. I'm just now getting a handle on this new way of thinking and would love some feedback. Let's support each other in growing our inner gardens not ripping them out! 

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Have Your Own Back

My Back

I've gotten to the point in my life where I realize nobody is going to save me. It does no good to be a victim and expect to be bailed out by a friend, family member, therapist or spouse. Even if your spouse is a therapist or your family member is a friend, they aren't in this world to save you from yourself. I'm not saying it's not great and wonderful to have a helpful circle of people you can rely on for encouragement and support, what I believe is that you must take care of yourself first. I would guess that we all have our pity party moments of hoping someone will notice our problem and offer to make it all better. It's okay to feel that way sometimes, but it's even better to just get up and help yourself. If you do need extra help from a person you trust, go ahead and ask for help without expecting them to fix you. The amazing thing is that you have the innate ability to take care of yourself. Nobody else knows you like you do. We can be our own best friends and allies in times of trouble. Once in a while we have to look at our own faces in the mirror and say "Hey, don't worry I've got your back".  

Monday, November 12, 2012

Pod Club: Hearing Voices

Pod Club this week is an episode about homelessness from the podcast "Hearing Voices". Take an hour this week for yourself. Put on those earbuds, go for a walk or get cozy in a big chair for an hour of listening pleasure. On Friday I'll post my thoughts as will Just Jill and Soft Spiral. We'd love to have more ears and voices in this weekly adventure. Maybe this is the week you feel like joining in? 

Friday, November 9, 2012

Pod Club : I'm Insane and so are You

Picture a windowless room. Open the single door and take a look inside.  Inside this room are things you wouldn't show anyone else, your secrets. A bottle full of habits sits in the corner. Nearby you'll find a small closed box with a rusty hinged top. Open it and you'll find bits and pieces of thoughts, the kind you never whisper to a soul. This room is one you only enter alone. You go there not because you want to, you need to. A hard day finds you sitting with the bottle or sifting through your box of thoughts. Oh, I forgot to mention the shelf. One single shelf, maybe two feet long and not very wide holds a book and a knife. The book is blank. There is no pen, but the knife works nicely. Once in a while you go into the room just to check that all these things are still there. Nobody knows about the room so it's unlikely anything would be missing, but you still wake at four a.m. and have to check again to be certain. You'll slowly unlock the door and turn on the small lamp, finger the knife and the flip through your book. Peek under the lid of your box and maybe take just a small sip from your bottle. Turning to leave you have a brief moment of terror...where is the key? Sigh as you find it deep in your pocket. Turn the light off, shut the door silently aside from the click of the lock. You'll never tell a soul. Surely they would think you were insane.

This week's Pod Club was an episode of Love + Radio called "Insane vs. Unsane".  What a fine piece of work it was! The stories perfectly intertwined. I was transported to the living room of a man in his mid 40's as I listened to him recount his current life situation and acknowledge flat out that he is insane, but "so are you". I walked the echoing halls of an empty insane asylum with a man who'd witnessed demon possession and cutting. Fascinated as I learned of a college boy stalked by a girl clearly in a world of her own creation. All of this led me to the same conclusion as our first narrator..I'm insane and so are you. All of us somewhere on the crazy scale. Maybe a ten, blatantly walking the street carrying on a three way conversation with yourself and yourself. Or you could be lower, a less obvious seven sitting in the waiting room tapping your toe exactly ten times before you turn the page of your magazine. Some folks aren't even aware of their insanity, twos or threes interacting with the world smoothly and "normally" only to go home at night to drink until they aren't scared anymore or distract themselves obsessively surfing the internet.  Once in a while you're a one. Then you get bored and start climbing the scale again...

Next week we'll choose another podcast for Pod Club and would love anyone with ears to join us! We post on Monday and report on Friday. Please comment on our blogs or post on your own. If you don't have a blog yet (ahem Stephanie) maybe this will give you a good reason to start. We'd love to have you join in the fun. 

My co-host of the Pod Club : Just Jill  (recently started xmas early)
Pod-Club member: Soft Spiral (recently had her blog taken over by a cat)

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Growing Pains

It aches. This changing of seasons pushes my eyelids, lowering the horizon. My bones are too tired to cry out, choosing to whimper and moan like lost puppies. The stuff that breaks your heart. Winter has come before to this home. It's shaken white flags of pretense and flashed cold promises of peace, but always Spring comes. And so I will comfort my weary thoughts with stories of storms weathered.

Dear Diary 3/3/1991

More from my ten year old self...

"I'me sick so I stayed home today. Mrs. Evoniuk gave me a entry form for a poetry contest. The poem she wants me to send in is The Lighthouse. It goes like this.

There it
Upon a hill
A lighthouse stands with pride
Makes me feel safe here on the sea

It's called Cinquain poetry. Bunny's going to have kittens soon. Michael really likes Angel. I don't have any best friends anymore because Angels Mike's best friend now. Last night we went to a play called J.B. it was hard to follow but it had good acting. I was sitting by Mike & Angel & Michael had his arm around her and she had her head on his shoulder. Leah is a very bad brat. I hate her and that's not a lie. bye."

Once again I must stress that I have no idea what my precious sister Leah was doing to annoy me and I have a feeling I was the very bad brat. Also, I was playing around with calling my brother 'Mike' like all his friends were but it didn't stick then and still doesn't. He'll always be Michael and I have forgiven him for stealing my best friend away since I ended up marrying one of his! 

Monday, November 5, 2012

Pod Club : Love + Radio

This week our Pod Club pick comes from a podcast called Love + Radio

"Meditations on insanity and unsanity. Aliens, the criminally insane and break-ups."

As always, this podcast is available for free on itunes as well as via the link above. Have fun and report back here or here or here at the end of the week to read our thoughts and share yours! 

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Houston, We Have Liftoff or Furlough Schmirlo

Spaceship Endeavor Griffith Observatory Flyover
The last week has been a roller coaster of ups and downs with some ins and outs thrown in just in case we got too comfortable. Almost exactly a year to the day that we moved to Los Angeles for Rob's new job, he was placed on furlough. We weren't entirely taken by surprise as some problems had arisen with his employer in the last few months, but that didn't make it easy. What kind of word is "Furlough" anyway? You're not fired but we aren't paying you either. It's the purgatory of employment. My husband is never one to sit around and complain, he's a man of action. The first thing he did was put feelers for job openings. We spent a lot of time discussing different possibilities and nearly drove each other crazy dissecting the pros and cons of each. It's exhausting to do this over and over when the job in question isn't even officially offered yet. How many hours can you spend debating something that might not even be an option? The answer is every waking hour and some of the sleeping ones too. 

As of today, we can stop the frantic pace we've been keeping and prepare for a new job. It's scary to accept something not knowing if it's the right thing for us or for the future but in the end we are thankful for income and have to trust that we can make the best of anything. I used to agonize about every simple decision (I'm such a Libra) but with more life experience comes a sense of calm. Now I've learned that nothing is forever if you don't want it to be. We are the authors of our own stories. I have a tattoo on my left wrist of an old bookplate.  Ex Libris means "from the library of" and it's a reminder to me daily that my life story is my own. This last week has only deepened that knowledge for me. 

I hope you all are having a good day and a wonderful weekend. Don't forget to set your clocks back tonight. Savor that extra hour of sleep. 

Friday, November 2, 2012

Pod Club : Ghost Stories

This week's Pod Club pick was The Anything Ghost Show...

I'll admit it up front that I only listened to the first half of this podcast. It was fun but only up to a certain point. I was thinking the whole time that it would be more interesting if the actual people were telling their stories instead of the host reading them all in the same tone. It made them almost sound silly instead of scary. I don't know if I believe in ghosts but I have heard way more convincing stories than these. Usually when I hear stories like these I can think up a scientific explanation or can see how people drew conclusions based on the fact that they went hunting for ghosts in the first place. 

I don't go hunting for ghosts. If they exist (and I'm not ruling it out) I would rather not interact with them at all. So last year when I was working at a winery in small town Walla Walla, Washington I certainly wasn't hoping for a spooky story but I experienced one anyway. L'Ecole is one of the oldest wineries in Washington and is housed in an extremely old schoolhouse. Creepy right? I still wasn't worried even when I spent large amounts of time down in the cold, dark basement.  

Working behind any bar tends to be a whirlwind of activity. L'Ecole on a busy afternoon was no exception. Two of us would be doing the pouring dance back and forth answering questions and making witty jokes as we slid the bottles and glasses around. Two racks of glasses were stacked in their own shelving system. The top one was clean, the bottom dirty. These racks were at least three feet square. It was a chore to pull them out to take to the kitchen for sterilizing (I should know since I did it repeatedly all day long). One particular afternoon I had just poured a taste at the end of the bar when I heard a crash. I whipped around to find the top rack of glasses had shot out and flipped over onto the floor. My coworker was at the other end of the bar. We started to clean up as quickly as possible all while maintaining the tasting experience of our customers but all I could think was that the impossible had just happened. I played around with that rack over and over after that trying to see if there was any good explanation or possible way it could slip or fall out of that slot on it's own and I maintain that it couldn't have. That's all I know. I'll leave it to you to decide if my experience was shaded by something I was looking for or if I'm the type to exaggerate for effect or if I'm just making this all up to entertain. I could swear on a stack of Bibles, but as an atheist I'm not so sure you'd believe even that. 

Halloween was almost a non holiday for me this year and I usually have a little fun with it dressing up or carving pumpkins. This podcast was the only Halloweeny thing about that day since I spent most of it in the car. Thanks for suggesting it Jill! 

Pod Club is our weekly adventure into podcast world. Jill and Leah and I pick a podcast every week on Monday and try to have something to say about it by Friday. Join in if you'd like! Comment or post on your own blog and don't forget to read what Just Jill and Leah, Soft Spiral, have to say.

(I have just added this to say that after a visit to Jill and Leah's blogs, I'm officially freaked out right now. These girls have some serious true stories for you so if you enjoy having your arm hairs all stand up and you want to be too scared to sleep with the light off tonight I highly recommend reading them! If, like me, you do NOT like being scared of the supernatural and you don't want those pictures in your sensitive head maybe it would be best to read the beginning of their posts but do not scroll down. You've been warned oh sensitive ones.)

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Dear Diary 1/3/1991

New Diary
Old Handwriting

January 3, 1991
"I've been sick since yesterday. Leah's been a real brat ever since I taught her "I ame rubber you are glue bounces off me and sticks to you". I started to feel better this morning but then I got sick again. I can't wait for school to start. I hope I don't look like a football player in my new outfit. bye"

My new diary was a gift for xmas 1990. It took the place of the little spiral notebook I'd been using and it had a lock! In this entry I begin a spelling error that I continue for an embarrassing length of time. I still look at that "ame" in my diaries and wonder how it happened over and over again. The "football player" comment is referring to my new blazer that had huge shoulder pads. As I recall, it was heavily circled in a J.C. Penny catalogue by my own hand and so was my gift from my grandparents. Hot pink and black...oh my.