What would happen?

“What would happen?

If I gave myself the same advice that I would give a dear friend in the same position. If I knew everything about who they are and what they wanted out of life, and I helped them get there? What would happen if  I truly loved myself as I love them. That I could see when they were being their most authentic selves and how to help them stay in that place.  If I valued my own opinion as much as others. If I fought for myself as I would fight for them? What would happen if I chose to be my own best friend, fan and cheerleader?  Well, I imagine it would be a good thing.” Hazel

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Working on this today

Thoughts of today.

Yesterday was lousy. The building was cold, I was freezing. Daughter # 2  couldn’t meet me at the correct time and asked me to pick up her friend over a half hour away. Traffic sucked. I sat through seven straight green lights. Stuck.

And my mind started to spin, this sucks, you don’t belong here, you got a call for another job. A full time one. Perhaps closer to home, less traffic, less customers, less new stuff to learn. Less.

But more hours, more money. Less freedom, less flexibility. Pretty much have to give up on my writing, for after a day working my creativity level will suck. I think.

Moments ago, I watched a video on Youtube. A young man named Harrison Craig overcame a stutter in his speech to sing his heart out on TV. He dreams of being a recording artist and has fought his way, beyond his difficulty to pursue it. Overcome it.

I’ve never had to overcome anything. I have always just quit at the first sign of difficulty. This isn’t for me, I can’t do it. This will be hard. And away I go…

Missing opportunities, treasures, learning along the way. People I should have met, things I needed to know. Successes to be had.

He is overcoming that, his fear of stuttering on stage, because the passion is so strong! The urge to do something he loves, he is fighting for it, going against the fear, surpassing his limitations.

Pushing through. Today he is my inspiration. What if I fought as hard for my passion? Made room for it, was willing to walk through fire and brimstone, whatever it took to get me to where I ultimately wanted to go?

Getting my books done, writing as a profession. Can I fake it with the other job until I make it with my dream?

Not can I; will I? People can do the most extraordinary things. Why not me?

Seems like the only thing I need to overcome is myself. Owning my right to pursue my dreams. Being uncomfortable for the sake of getting to the end result. Getting over myself that I shouldn’t have to deal with traffic, work for it, put up with a boss.  Am I uncomfortable with no heat and air conditioning? Yes. Will I die? No. I will need to dress warmly and dress down when it is hot. Again, Will I die from this.  Most likely not. Traffic. Am I used to it as I have been working from home for almost three years. No. Will I die? Potentially, but hopefully not. Traffic usually means slow, less chance of catastrophe.

What would happen if I stayed the course and gave it everything I had? Wrote everyday until all the words came out and the whole thing made sense. It’s about finishing. Finishing anything.  Being a good role model to my girls. They are mostly my inspiration in this life. I want them to reach for their goals as they go on in their lives; what if my life has been about teaching them to quit? How would that be? I told my oldest, who is a lot like me that she is Not me. She holds within her way more self-assurance and ability than I ever had. My life lessons have taught me to play small, be less than who I was so that others would be ok, feel ok about themselves. Its bullshit really.

Everything is bullshit except the goal. The hangups that we have, the excuses that we make to allow space to come between us and our dreams. Our God given purpose. Geez. I’m so amped right now. The words are flowing, I am really thinking.

And I need to give myself grace and not beat myself up for lessons it took this long to learn. Why does it have to take so long, why does stuff have to suck before we get it?

I’m thinking, and it’s flowing. It is a good day.

Your dreams or mine

I am an observer. I watch people. I listen to what they say. I hear them.broken wish

I have a terrible tendency to take on their dreams as my own. To set aside my own dreams and passions. I listen to others when they tell me what I should do, what I should feel. How to move forward successfully.

I  listen to the noises of the Chinese woman whom takes all of our recyclables. She comes once a week. There is a stipend for each bottle at the store and it is worth it to her, to take them and change them in for money. I imagine that she comes from the old country, where she worked very hard to make ends meet for her family. She doesn’t understand our wasteful society. She is bored here, since the work is less than what she remembers as a younger self. The houses are bigger, maybe only small families inside. Multiple generation households are non-existent. She keeps herself busy and calls the rest of us stupid for throwing away money. She either fought hard to come over here or was brought over by a younger family member who broke free. I shouldn’t say she is Chinese. Perhaps another culture, but in the Asian arena.

Back to what I was saying. In the last week I have had two people tell me they want someone who can “help build my business”. This is interesting to me, not that I want to now do that, but because, they seem overwhelmed right now with the business that they currently have. Why do you want more business, when you are stressed, have no time off and seem rushed all the time?

Two schools of thought here,

  • If you are not growing your business, you are shrinking.
  • They want more financial gains.

Let’s tackle #1

If you are not growing your business, you are shrinking.

When you have a business, you are constantly being asked to forecast, forecasting for the bank, or partners, or trying to plan for the next potential lull. It’s as if you aren’t growing you are waiting to die. But how much business do you really need? Are you making enough? Do you have work/life balance? What are your ultimate goals? What is the point?

When growing a business, I think it is important to know these things and to be ok in a plateau while putting together the infrastructure needed to go bigger. The constant push for the sake of pushing; what is that? As someone who has never put a huge emphasis on money, I am perplexed with the logic to work harder and harder just for the sake of working harder. I would like to learn to work smarter. How can I get this work done with delegation, or in a team? Is it everyone’s goal to just be huge? Becoming a corporate bigwig in your own right? Is it ever enough?

#2 They want more financial gains.

Wanting more money is understandable and a very big deal to many people. But how much is enough? Is it worth working all the hours if you don’t make it to retirement because you have overworked yourself?

The Dalai Lama, when asked what surprised him most about humanity, he said:

“Man.
Because he sacrifices his health in order to make money.
Then he sacrifices money to recuperate his health.
And then he is so anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present;
the result being that he does not live in the present or the future;
he lives as if he is never going to die, and then dies having never really lived.”

 

This makes me so sad. Is it worth it? What makes it worth it? Money?

When an afternoon pushing a child on a swing costs nothing?

Smelling a rose on the path while taking a walk costs nothing?

Smiling at a stranger? And them smiling back?

Yes, I understand the need for money, that there must be stability in life to take care of the basic needs. But once those needs are met, what is the goal? Or what should it be?

To be Richard Branson? Ever notice how happy he looks in all of his pictures? It’s because the man has balance, he knows how to work smarter and he puts people in place to help him reach his goals. He does what he wants.

In the last few weeks I have imagined getting myself a little job. Something part time to bring in some money to help with the bills and allow myself the time needed to finish my novel, and perhaps work on another one after that.

I go in to what I thought was an interview for a job. Something that was part time, that I could leave at the office and go home afterwards. Pursue my dream and passion.

Suddenly it turns into,

“THE POSSIBILITIES ARE ENDLESS”

“YOU CAN WRITE YOUR OWN TICKET”

“I WANT YOU TO HELP ME BUILD MY BUSINESS

“I WILL NEED YOU HERE BEFORE HOURS; AND AFTER HOURS”

“A REAL COMMITMENT”

Pressure

Helping someone else with their dreams

And leaving mine behind

Again

And I tell my support system and they say “Great! You should appreciate this opportunity and that they think that much of you!”

And I shrink,

away from myself

and what I have to offer

and I fall away and

see it all disappear again.

Or do I?

Big love, Hazel

Be impeccable with your word

Be impeccable with your word.

Recently I had someone promise me to deliver something  to me that I needed. In exchange for something I was doing, they would provide X. I was disappointed. Truth is this has been a chronic problem with this person. It has gone on for years. This time, even though I hesitated, I had told my husband that we were expecting X.

He said “Right, a leopard doesn’t change it’s spots”.

I was put on the defensive, having to excuse the behavior of someone else when I truly had no fault in it. Total bummer.

A long time ago, after my divorce, I was thinking about starting a business. I had the money to start one and Lord did I have ideas. I was going to open a cupcake bakery, I was going to open a t-shirt business, I was going to do this. Each idea would be inspiring, I would get excited, put together ideas, name the business, work on recipes, etc. I put in the necessary time to start one. Then it would die off, and another idea would come or I would make an excuse as to why that one wasn’t a good idea anymore.

I thought at the time that I was just floating, that I could bounce around, thinking and dreaming and it   really didn’t affect anyone but me. After I started to waffle with the third idea, a little voice came from the most unexpected place.

The wisest souls come in the most interesting packages.

It was my eleven year old daughter Megan. She said the words that shook me to my core and finally inspired me to change.

“Mom, stop. We don’t believe you anymore.” We ; was her and her younger sister Alli.

Unbeknownst to me, at the time; I had dragged them into my ideas. Filled them with wonder at having a cupcake shop that they could work in,  we would bake together, wear matching t-shirts, eat yummy cupcakes! I had involved them in the t-shirt business showing them my designs and asking their opinions on the softness and color of the fabric options.

Her words stopped me cold. I looked into her big brown eyes and was lost. There was no answer, no excuse now. No way to convince her that this new idea would work out. She didn’t believe me. She didn’t believe in me, anymore.

Quite the brave act I think, confronting her Mom. At her age, telling this to one of the most impactful, most in charge of you people in your life. She sat looking at me, and I sat like a little kid in trouble at school. Nailed.

I could not have that. A kid, who didn’t believe in her own mother. What kind of mother am I to let her kid down.  Over and over. I just hadn’t put that together. But now I had to. Always.

I had to prove to my daughters again that I was trustworthy. That I would do what I said. That I could calm the whirling dervish inside of me and get down to business. That is exactly what I did.

They were included in the process of building the shop. From a distance though, to make sure I had everything in order. Our grand opening, they were proud and showing the friends they had invited all the stuff.

Mom had followed through. She did what she said.

I started looking at all the other ways I was breaking promises. To them, to myself.

“We will go to the park today, let’s have pizza for dinner. Do you want to have a friend spend the night this weekend?” All potential hero moments or letdowns.

The unbroken promises pile up on you until you don’t even believe in yourself anymore. The inner voice says; it doesn’t matter, it’s okay.”

An unending maze of words, making promises to fill the gap of the last unbroken promise.

It is a dangerous game, especially in business to say you are going to do something and then not do it. People in general, are understanding of what life throws at you; they understand relationships, family, illness and overall busyness that comes from walking the planet. However, when there is always something, always one thing after another that comes up and knocks a promise out, it becomes too much. It’s a little like trying to hug the Tasmanian Devil, sooner or later you have to just get out of the way.

In business, it is very important, as your word becomes your contract. I will deliver X to you by this date. You will have the materials for your project on time, delivered. It can be a costly game. You forget where you are with each person. Were we working on this? What did they need? You are always behind. Each day, you beat yourself up more and more.

I wish all people would have an amazing kid who would tell it like it is, even when it hurts. But, because they don’t I will. What I found was as I stacked one fulfilled promise on another I felt stronger. More in tune, better about myself and my abilities.

There is no excuse other than dying to un-deliver or under-deliver on a promise.

  1. Don’t make promises you can’t or don’t want to keep.
  2. Think about what you are willing to do, what you can accomplish in a time period.
  3. Don’t convey that you can do something if you can’t.
  4. Delegate if you don’t have time, find a way to get the person what they need.
  5. Be present in conversations as you don’t know what you could miss.

Everyone has drama. Some of it is bigger than others. Truth is people, in general are nice. We are all just trying to make our way. We understand if you need more time, or are unable to take on new work at this moment. Accepting our limitations is a big part of being human. Working to better ourselves is another.

Nobody is perfect. We are human after all. It is the pain that causes us to learn.

The learning that makes us better.

Make promises and keep them, be impeccable with your word. People are watching you.

Especially you.

Smiles,

H

Do not dim your light to get approval from others-

DSC01479It is easy to do. When looking for approval or love from a potential mate, family member or work mate; we tend to just want to fit in. We want to be accepted into the fold. People walk the thin tightrope of wondering if we are good enough and always trying to be our best self.

I remember having a (guy) friend who was from a very learned family. He had been put under tremendous pressure to go to college and off to a Masters program. His father was successful in his circles and was thought of as an expert in his field. His mother, although a stay at home Mom, had been educated and could play the perfect role of being a good cook, entertainer as well as keep up with a conversation of world politics at the table.

He fascinated me. He was very smart, book smart. I on the other hand had been raising other people’s children as a profession for a number of years. I wasn’t dumb in any sense but my thoughts were centered on more on peanut butter sandwiches and Sesame Street  than who won the Pulitzer this year and what the P/E ratio is for the top ten stocks of the year. I was about nurturing children, exposing them to nature, life lessons and developing their strengths.  We started dating and it started. He bought me a subscription to the newspaper because he wanted to discuss current events with me. When he handed me four boxes of college vocabulary words to learn, I knew there was trouble. He imagined himself to be Professor Harry Higgins to my Eliza Doolittle character, except in real life. I tried for awhile then tired of the constant badgering to do this and do that, so I would be a proper girlfriend candidate.

We took a trip together, as friends, across the U.S. It was really eye opening to me. We saw 14 states and I saw things I had only seen in magazines. Stupidly, we toyed with getting married in Vegas just for the hell of it. We didn’t- Thank God!

When we arrived at his parents home in Ohio, his mother took me clothes shopping (which was completely awkward, as I didn’t want her to spend money on me, my friend however, convinced me to let her as she didn’t have any daughters and it would bring her joy, ok…).  He was staying there  and I would be heading back to the Northwest, I got to my room and started to pack to leave the next day. It was then that I overheard something that taught me to never try to be someone I am not, for someone else. 

” She isn’t what I had in mind.” He was talking to his father, saying I wasn’t smart enough to be his girlfriend. Not good enough to be his wife someday.

I couldn’t wait to get on the train for home.  I forgot to mention, if only as a side point, the entire trip I had been developing the biggest zit on my face, a borderline boil. I see it now as the festering of something that was not good for me, manifested in physical form.

I have the ability when I am so done with someone to completely disengage and not give a crap. I have seen this as a positive and a negative in my life. When I am done, I am done.

We said goodbye, and I boarded to train. I didn’t look back. I have never seen him since.

He contacted me weeks later and asked how I had managed to leave so cleanly. He had noticed me not look back. I told him what I heard. He was mortified.

Even years later, he carries that with him. The absurdity that one would expect another human being to change completely for another, enrich yes, but to ask them to be someone else. That it was ok at all.

I think people spend too much time worrying about what other people think. They think that everyone is sitting there judging them and wondering why they do this and do that. Truth is, no one really cares what you are doing, they are mostly worried about what other people are thinking about them. And so goes the vortex of unworthiness and lack of self.

I see people so wrapped up in worrying about what other people think they don’t do anything. They sit and watch. They don’t allow the silliness to overcome them, or to giggle at something funny. You won’t see them start singing in a flash mob, you won’t see them running to the plane, they just sit and look around to see who is watching them. I like to call these people “the people who have too many rules for themselves”.

At 12, my friend Erin and I rode the bus to town. We wanted to go to Taco Bell to see how many crunchy  tacos we could each eat. We started the silliness on the bus.

She said “Let’s pretend we are from a different country and speak a different language. It will be fun.”

To which I replied “People will think we are weird.”

And then at age 11, she hit one out of the park- “Who cares, we will never see any of these people ever again.” 

That was the most brilliant thing I had ever heard! It’s true! We didn’t ride this bus all the time, I would never see any of these people again ever in my life!

This is a lesson I have passed down to my kids too, they enjoy being silly, playing spies at the grocery store, talking on imaginary walkie talkies. They crack me up. Most of all, they have a lot of fun. They shine. Their energy and love for life is contagious. Don’t change girls!

I don’t worry either, I just be me.

Reminds me of a quote Dr. Phil once said- “You wouldn’t care so much about what people think about you if you knew how little they did.”

BAM!

With Love,

H

 

 

Memory in a bottle

Grandma Peg and Grandpa Art

A few years ago for Christmas, my Mother gave me a gift. It was a bottle of perfume. It looked expensive from the beautiful box it came in.

It’s from the specialty perfume store in Portland she said. I thought you would like it.

It seemed an odd gift to me, usually perfumes come from lovers or you choose one based on the paper flips of a magazine. It is a highly personal decision.

“Give it a try,” she said. Me still feeling odd receiving a very personal gift from my Mom.

I squirted it on my wrist, and the waves of scent hit my nose.

“It’s Grandma. I said as tears welled in my eyes. In that moment I had been instantly transported back in time, sitting in a chair next to my grandmother, smelling her, listening to her speak in that tone and say “Well, Hi There!” in her excitedly twangy, welcoming  tone.

We were playing cards, she was cooking. She taught me to knit with her crumpled up fingers, so patiently and intently. The excruciating time I let her down by saying I had cleaned my room when I actually hadn’t simply because I  believed she wouldn’t climb the stairs to check. “I’m very disappointed in you. ” It cut like a knife. I never wanted to disappoint her again.

She was the one who always remembered birthdays, with a dollar or a penny in the wallet or purse that came with it. Since we were out of town, we got money more than gifts. A five dollar bill until 18, then everyone was ratcheted down to a dollar as she had many family members to send cards too.

Her handwriting, the cards she bought. How she used to cut the front off the Christmas cards she had received to use as gift tags the year after. Everything she did. She was the glue that held the family together.

I remember the last time I saw her, my aunt was very sick. We sat together in her little house in the desert. She said how she feared outliving another one of her children. My Uncle Jerry had died in a car crash along with his wife years before.

She teared up and said she couldn’t go through that again.

“I don’t know why I’m living this long.” It was heart breaking, as I knew Diane was very sick, the color of her skin a bright yellow from jaundice, the doctor’s couldn’t help her. I held her hand and listened. Cried along side her.

She would walk everyday, no matter what. I would go with her. She would often stoop to pick up a random rubber band on the path.

That’s your grandpa checking in. “How?” I asked.

“Grandpa Art always had a rubber band or two around his wrist because you always need a rubber band.”

Not long after our last trip to see Grandma and Diane, Grandma fell and broke her hip. She was to go into surgery the next day.

She died in her sleep that night. Died on her terms, without outliving another one of her children.

A few days ago my Mom was over, and when she was leaving I asked her if she wanted to smell Grandma.

“Yes, Caron’s Bellagia?”

“I’ll get it,” It had been awhile since i had pulled it out.

She sprayed her neck and her wrists. I did the same. There was a calmness that enveloped us. A peace.

She was here, with us, in us. Always.

He courage, her spunk, her love.

The feelings, the history, captured in the fragrance inside a bottle.

One of the best gifts I’ve ever received.

Merry Christmas

With Love,

Hazel

The Age of invisibility

Photos 2012-2013 213

The Age of Invisibility

Today I noticed something enough to write about it. I was at the store and I noticed older people, in their senior years with their heads down. As if apologizing for being in the way, at the store. They are slower in the checkout. Sometimes they can’t reach the items. And they are old. Like it’s a bad thing.

On Veteran’s day I saw some oldsters out with their platoon hats on, it was their day. They probably waited all year to present themselves in that hat to the public. I wonder how many people stopped and told them “Thank you for your service.” Let alone ask them about their experience. Let them share their hey day with us.

We (the younger set) walk the store with our heads up, vibrant, on a mission. Us with our smooth skin, meander through the makeup aisle wondering about the next eyeshadow blend, the newest lip gloss. As if that is important. We have full use of our bodies, we can walk fast, our minds are sharp and we can handle the self scan checkout systems, no problem. We use our ATM cards and remember our pin. We get annoyed when they write a check. And have a coupon.

I want to point out right here that the little exchange at the checkout,   while you are in a hurry, and they purposely got in the line of their favorite checker who is friendliest to them, could possibly could be the only human interaction that they have that day. Or week.

Imagine.

They got up early and primped their aged skin as best they could. A little rouge to cover up the lack of sunshine. They had their hair done yesterday and put a cap on last night so it would keep for their weekly trip to the store. They ate a light breakfast, only one cup of coffee, because they don’t want to have to use the restroom with it’s fancy schmancy turn on by itself faucets and towel holders that are so complicated or those weird air dryer machines that are called a knife. This trip is a multi hour planning ordeal. They caught a bus, or maybe drove- (which is probably pretty scary with so many of us on the roads, zipping around each other and ALWAYS in such a hurry).

They arrive and the contents of the store have been rearranged, and everything is so high priced they have to make decisions about what to buy or if they need the medicine this time. They keep their head down, on a mission, trying not to bother anyone or be in the way.  They hurry through the line with the hard stares of the younger people with their screaming kids in the cart, trying to get home for naptime. They are rushed and it is over-they have had their outing for the day/week/month.

A few weeks ago, I saw a woman trying to help her husband out of a car and into a wheelchair. She was a smaller woman, the husband much larger although now frail. I asked if I could help her. She politely said no, as if this was her duty, what she had signed up for and she would handle it, come hell or high water. They were out of the house and going to enjoy a McDonalds coffee together. Duty. Mixed with Love, perhaps; hopefully or just duty. With Duty comes the idea of burden for the one who needs. Again, the reinforcement that the oldsters are not needed, or trouble. It’s beyond Sad. Her proud moment of saying that she could do it, cost me too, as I wanted to help. We feel good helping others. Being there for others. I left feeling sad.

Another thing we are worried about is Pride. They are Proud and they can take care of themselves. They have outlived, outseen and outplayed this whole world, who are we to help them?

We live on a double edged sword of wanting to help each other but not wanting to impose. Not wanting to bring attention to the fact that some things just aren’t as easy as they used to be. Acknowledging that is serious business.

I met a woman named Margaret. Margaret was my grandmother’s name, whom I loved dearly. She died at 90, a wonderful, amazing and real woman. I automatically had compassion and an interest in Margaret. I was selling carpet in a flooring store when she came in with her daughter. Her daughter was a little older than me and her Mom Margaret must have been in her late 80’s. Such a sweet little old lady. She was nervous, it was her first purchase since her husband died and she was wondering how it would all work, her furniture needed to be moved, her photos in frames, everything. I remember her worrying about how she was going to pay, finally settling in to using some of her savings for the project.

When she came in, she smiled at me, her eyes watery with nerves; and she asked me if it would be ok.  I don’t know who reached for whose hand, but I held her hand and gave it a tiny little squeeze to let her know if would be ok and then we just stood there, and I didn’t want to let go, and she didn’t want to let go. Her little hand nestled into mine took me back to holding my grandmother’s hand that last time. Soft with wrinkles. Such a comfort.

We need to realize that we have right now an unending supply of adoptive grandparents waiting to be seen and adopted.

Our society has become a place where we ignore each other. Partly, because we feel useless to change that person’s circumstance. There isn’t a way yet to fix “old”.  Loving people, if we acknowledge them and see them; requires giving, and perhaps a commitment from us to make a difference. And we’re busy. So, busy with our stuff. Busy with our kid’s stuff and work and everything to keep a house going or to stay above water and off the streets ourselves.

I wonder what would happen if we started seeing each other. Really looking into the eyes of an older person and asked about their life. Think of the riches that lie there, the wisdom. What they have seen, heard, lived. What can they teach us? The cultures where they honor and seek out the wisdom of the elders have something.

And I can’t unsee them, and you can’t unread this. It’s out there.

The least we can do is smile.

Big Love,

H