Classified Information: Our Family’s Secret Language

Photo Classified

It all started while watching one of those late night black and white movies. A woman had plastic surgery after an accident. After a bout with amnesia, she finally returned to her family, but they were never really sure if it was her. This led to the creation of our family’s secret handshake. These days when one of us does or says something out of character, we use it in a humorous way as if to say “…Is it really you?..”

When Big A* was a little boy, I told him to remember “…It’s what you hear…” If I was not there to pick him up after school, he was not to leave with anyone unless they said the word “oreja” (the Spanish word for “ear”). When he was a teen, he knew he could always whisper our code word “despacio” (Spanish for “slowly”) when he wanted me to take it down a notch in front of his friends.

Throughout the years, Mr. Wiz* and I have unwittingly developed an entire communication system. Through facial expressions and eye movements, we can express ourselves in a clandestine manner, even in a crowded room. We can complement each other, ask if that’s what we’re really going to wear, agree to leave early or stay late, accept or decline an invitation on the spot or suggest that we not tell that story again.

Of course, all covert operations have their glitches. Once at an auction, my sudden sneeze was misinterpreted as a signal to hold up our paddle. Luckily, we were out-bid and the Picasso never joined our art collection. Likewise, innocent tapping of fingers on a table could be misconstrued as an emergency Morse Code message.

This combined with some made up words and an alpha/numeric system that my dad taught me as a little girl (whereby numbers 1 through 10 are replaced by letters) makes for techniques that rival CIA intelligence operations.

Though we have been approached and asked that we share this complex, intricate methodology with operatives around the world, we have decided to keep it between us as just another way for our little family to huddle together in our private club and smile as we celebrate what makes us unique.

 

*Who’s who? See “Cast of Characters” on the “About” page.

 

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Questioning the Quirky

Photo Questioning th Quirky

Designer toast for breakfast anyone?

Once in a while, I like to take the time to let my mind wander and wonder about all those little things that most pay no attention to. As guilty pleasures go, it’s also very cathartic; the cobwebs seem to disappear from the corners of my brain. It’s the equivalent of swishing mouthwash and that refreshing minty taste you’re left with. Here are my some of my most recent ponderings:

-Why do we sing “Rock a Bye Baby” to infants when we know perfectly well our soothing voices will soon croon the last stanza that inevitably leads to a 911 call?

-A popular new business has sprung up where you create a DIY project while enjoying cocktails. If I didn’t have any artistic ability before I entered, how will libations help my creations?

-Why do airline seats recline if reclining them can lead to airplane rage (similar to road rage, but without the foot pedals and steering wheel)?

-Has anyone actually been arrested for removing the tag off their mattress? If so, are they assigned to a special area of prison, along with the anglers who purchased the fish they entered in the bass fishing competition (a real thing)?

-Did Dr. Seuss have anything to do with the naming of Pflugerville, Texas? Every time I pass the sign for the exit on the highway, I smile to myself and wonder: are the Pflugers in Pflugerville all filled with glee to realize their town is a source of Seuss imagery?

-Does toast that pops out of a $650 Dolce and Gabbana toaster taste any better? Rumor has it that the toaster’s heating coils will not accept a slice of plain, white bread. Hurry to Neiman Marcus (aka “Needless Markup”) while supplies last and do plan to name drop: “…Sorry I’m late, but I had to polish my $650 Dolce and Gabbana toaster with mink oil…”

Sometimes it’s not a bad idea to take the road less traveled, stop and smell the roses, give your mind a well-deserved rest and not be too quick to disregard the quirky.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Egging Yourself on: Is it All It’s Cracked Up to Be?

Photo Egging Yourself On

“…How many times around is that? …” Every Saturday, Gus, the maintenance man, would stop by and say hello, fascinated at my routine of bicycle riding around the perimeter of the giant, empty parking lot at a nearby government building.

While many of my friends are cyclists and think nothing of a 50 mile day ride, I am content to be a bike rider, safely tooling around my sheltered environment. This decision comes with the confidence that I know myself well enough to understand the difference between motivation, persuasion and being sensible.

If we can egg someone on, don’t we also have the ability to egg ourselves on? When should we push ourselves and when should we be prudent?

Egging someone on means to incite, urge or provoke. The term comes from the old Norse word “eggia” which means “to edge” and has nothing to do with hen’s eggs. Or, does it? Let’s examine the types of personal decisions that can change the course of our lives:

Half-Baked
When combined with spontaneity, can produce hazardous consequences.
Examples: sky diving in a Third World country, getting a tattoo in the same Third World country, clown college

Scrambled
A jumbled combination of longing, jealousy, impulse and willpower (lack of).
Examples: plastic surgery for pouty lips, skateboarding lessons, the 10 peas a day miracle diet

Hard-boiled
An analytical approach involving pros and cons, right and wrong, practicality and objectives resulting in a meticulously executed conclusion.
Examples: college, 401Ks, wedding planners

Come out of your shell, get to know your inner self and together decide the path that’s right for you. Remember, a life without objectives is like an egg without salt.

 

 

 

 

Who Put the Multi in Tasking?   

   Photo Multi Task

At the gym the other day, I overheard two women talking about taking some classes together and hoping that their line dance and conversational Italian language classes wouldn’t conflict. “…Too bad you couldn’t take them at the same time…,” I joked, with a mental picture of them in the throes of some intricate foot work and turns while repeating out loud “…One, two three, please, thank you, where is the bathroom? …” in Italian. “…That’s a great idea! …,” they both agreed as they exited. I tried to dress quickly, catch up with them and tell them I was kidding, but they were already gone.

Picture the working mom, breastfeeding with a spoon in her teeth, as she stirs tonight’s healthy dinner simmering on the stove, listens to the news and sends one more email while her three-year-old sits at her feet, using her legs as a mountain road for his Matchbox cars.

It seems as if we no longer can do one thing at a time. We squeeze all we can into each day, never considering whether each task is getting their fair share of our attention. Just like the overstimulated baby that cries out in distress, we sometimes need to be slowly rocked back into tranquility, so those big, bad to-do lists won’t huff and puff and blow us down.

Life is chaotic. Things need to get done; responsibilities are requisite and errands are inevitable, but what if we took a moment to consider how some slight adjustments might alter our everyday life? Going about the day with a Zen attitude makes us more aware of the present moment. Here are some small changes we can try that will reap big rewards:

  • Focus! Try accomplishing one activity at a time and concentrate on the task.
  • Inhale and exhale! Take a few deep breaths and remind yourself to slow down.
  • Let go! Minimize your closet, your to-do list, your worries and keep it simple.
  • Laugh! Seek out the silly side of life.
  • Be quiet! Take a walk, turn off the car radio and enjoy the silence.
  • Move it! Strive for stillness with yoga, clear your head with a run or try anything in between.
  • Be solo! Savor some alone time, whether you are an early bird or a night owl.

Back in the day, you could find me running to catch the 156 bus after a 10-hour workday. Flamenco classes were now added to my growing list of musts. Under my seat, I would practice my footwork while humming the music, eating an apple and sending just one more email. Now I can see why the seat next to me always seemed to remain empty.

The next morning, rather than attend an important business meeting, I found myself in my doctor’s office having an emergency EKG. When my chest pain was diagnosed as a pulled muscle, I hugged my doctor and thanked her. She reminded me that she had nothing to do with the diagnosis, put her hands on my shoulders and said “… I have 2 words for you: slow down! …”

I admit there may have been times in the past when I had toyed with the idea of taking a computer class in a foreign language I was not at all familiar with, hoping to learn both in half the time. Nowadays, I can still task with the best of them, but I have realized that the only “multi” I should be focusing on is a multivitamin.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Love, Malia Rae, Heartist

Photo Malia 2

“The world is full of magic things patiently waiting for our senses to grow sharper.” WB Yeates

Discovering hearts all-around her; it’s not the thread that Malia Rae intentionally set out to weave through her life, but it makes perfect sense in hindsight. A formally educated photographer, she was led on a different course than her original plan.

For years, Rae called Chicago, Illinois, her home. The cold weather never ruined her sunny disposition until it intermingled with a love lost. She sought refuge in Austin, Texas, when friends opened their arms to her.

Perhaps her transformation could have happened in any city, but there is that vibe in Austin that seems to make it distinctive from other places; it’s so welcoming, approachable, artsy and cool (even when the temperature spikes). This weird, wonderful city seemed like a different country altogether to her and she blossomed there.

This was the point where that one decision would impact her for years to come. Head held high, would she let her spirit soar, follow that inner voice, explore the unknown and start anew? Resilience won out over complacency and she buoyantly embarked on a mission to heal herself.

What you look for in life, you find; Rae says she remembers the concept struck a deep cord within her and she set out on a search as if her life depended on it. Drawn to nature, she would spend hours exploring. Three months later, she was still waking at sunrise, exploring beaches and walking in the woods. Then it happened; a rock, a leaf, a cloud – all in the shape of a heart. For a moment she wondered; had they always been in plain sight or were they figments of her imagination? Luckily, her ever present companion, her camera, was there to serve as her witness.

As she so poignantly explains it: “…Eventually, nature responded to my desperate calls with an abundance of love, manifesting itself in the symbolic shape of a heart. I find it fascinating that the obstacles in our path can be fuel for the gift that we give back to the world. In this work, I am learning to turn betrayal into trust, mold heartbreak into love, and transmute depression into passion and purpose. In my quest, I have also found that I am not alone. In my art, and in my life, I want to create a connection with other hearts and share the love…”

Cultivated from the depths of her soul-searching journey, it’s easy to see why her company, My SoulTribe, resonates with anyone that it touches; a tear, a smile, a sigh being the ultimate compliment. Was Mother Nature waiting for her all along? Or, did those hearts magically appear as a reminder of the power of tenderness, affection and devotion? No two are alike, yet they share the ability in making you feel as if someone is wrapping their arms around you.

You will still find Rae up at sunrise, searching nature for more signs of abounding love. Her journey continues as each message revitalizes her. During a recent trip to Michigan, she couldn’t help but smile when she happened to glance at the hearts on the Virginia license plate of her rental car plate that read “…Virginia is for Lovers…”

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Photo Malia 1

“It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.” Henry David Thoreau

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My SoulTribe was sprouted by two friends, Malia Rae and Liz Meitus.

It began a few years ago as a quest, sparked by the concept: “What you look for in life you find.”  We embarked on a mission to heal our own lives and find an inner place of peace in this chaotic world, a journey unfolding that has led us to conclude that even in the face of adversity, heartbreak and despair, we can choose Love.

As we searched, it became resoundingly clear that everywhere you turn (if you have belief and an open heart) Love. Truly. Is. All around.
My SoulTribe creates Art that Ignites the Soul.

Join the movement… Heart Forward.

​Now, years later, I can see clearly that I have been studying Love up close and personal. Everyone sees, feels, allows, and communicates Loves in their own unique way. The caress of a hand, the wink of an eye, the side smile, and the laughter all tell a story. I’ve been lucky enough to witness, and document, the countless intimate ways in which Love shows up in this world.

I am a better person for all the times my clients invite me into their lives to capture the ways in which they Love.

 

 

“Soul Nature” is the evolution of this on-going adventure. Capturing the many layers of Human Nature and Mother Nature, with in-camera multiple exposures, I explore the realities between the seen and the unseen. The wisdom of the heart continues to light the way while the shadow side illuminates areas of growth and expansion.

 

 

 

 

Confessions of a Tech Weenie

photo intervention

The intervention took place on Jan. 19, 2019. A segment of The Today Show featuring two bloggers had just ended, when JC* turned to me and said “…You’ve got what it takes. That should have been you on the show…” Mr. Wiz* chimed in and mentioned that because I am not on social media, my chances for that opportunity would be limited. Once JC was brought up to speed on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, she was more determined than ever to convince me that I needed to stop over thinking and start doing. Mr. Wiz concurred, secretly happy that my phobia was finally out in the open and topic for conversation.

Memories of my high school years flashed before me, when JC would help me to circumvent my reluctance to try anything new until I was able to analyze it thoroughly. She’d stand outside each store in the mall, egging me on until I was hired for my first part time job. She never said that I shouldn’t be a flight attendant or a teacher, but mentioned that I had talents that might steer me in a different direction. That and the suggestion that I take a summer job as a waitress in preparation for some of my airline duties and consider my patience levels with a class of children made me rethink my career path.

Interventions are never comfortable. Being confronted by my two biggest fans and supporters, I could see that I was in denial. Part of me knew that I had to take that big leap to be successful, while my stubborn side was convinced that I could do it my way, not realizing that only Frank Sinatra had that luxury.

This became cause for introspection. Was it fear of failure or fear of success that was holding  me back? If I could positive think myself into so many successful situations, why not this one? Yes, I knew what had to be done. I would remind myself that if I was able to master so many assorted computer skills in times past, why would I let it intimidate me now? I reassured myself that my concern about the extra time it would take to achieve social media success could be side stepped by one touch of my alarm to an earlier wake up time. It was time to get my moxie back on.

Now that I’ve officially made myself accountable by confessing my shortcomings and stating my goals, there’s nothing to do, but get going. But, before I do, I’m going to take a moment, close my eyes and imagine myself sitting across from Savannah and Hoda, charming them with my witty banter and not looking the worse for wear due to the compulsory early morning wake-up call for all Today Show guests. And, to all you Facebook, Instagram and Twitter enthusiasts out there, I’ll see you on the other side.

 

*Who’s who? See “Cast of Characters” on the “About” page.

Paper: Cutting to the Chase

photo paper

Good luck explaining Rock Paper Scissors to a millennial

Big A* and his cohorts looked puzzled. On a recent visit, I asked if anyone could use a file cabinet. We had an extra and thought someone might be interested. “…What do you use it for, Mrs. T? … asked one of our guests politely. As I started to explain that we keep files of all our important papers in it, I suddenly realized by their blank stares, that they had no use for this large metal contraption placed before them; millennials keep no paper. If they hold on to it at all, they scan it, take a photo of it, save it to a computer file or onto a disk.

I think they are missing out on a whole tactile experience. Technology has robbed them of such memorable experiences. There is always the excitement of choosing just the right notebook, then writing on the very first page. I’m never sure which I enjoy most; tearing open a letter that I’ve received or taking the time to send one. I can still remember how important I felt each time I would send my new European pen pal a letter on that special tissue like paper with the envelope that read “Airmail” in red and blue letters.

My prize collection of those free, small give away calendars at the Hallmark stores dates back to my teen years. Mention a year, any year and I can tell you exactly what I did each day. Many a Saturday afternoon was spent making paper airplanes or those folded puzzles that, when placed on your fingers, would tell your fortune (solely based on what you had just written on the corners). Remembering how I would while away the hours with my father and grandfather playing Hangman and Tic-tac-toe always makes me smile.

Just for fun, ask a millennial where their local library is and they will look at you quizzically. They do not know the giddiness felt when the bestselling book you are dying to read is sitting right on the shelf where it should be. Or, the feel of the book, with its shiny cover and crisp pages, as you open it to start reading, and the regret, as you finish the last page and reread the book jacket a few times, not willing to say goodbye to the characters as yet. Watching Mr. Wiz* take such pride in lining up his books from a favorite author in chronological order on our bookshelves makes me wonder if we will ever trade in our library cards for the somewhat sterile reality of online books.

Millennials are busy people. With no bookshelves to dust, no worries about running out of checks or whether they have the right wrapping paper for the occasion, they can rest on their laurels, work hard, play even harder and let their laptops do the labor. Unlike them, we may have to Band-Aid a few paper cuts once in a while, but that’s a small price to pay for the pleasure that only paper can bring.

 

*Who’s who? See “Cast of Characters” on the “About” page.