Friday, December 25, 2009

Christmas 2009

“Christmas gift suggestions: To your enemy, forgiveness. To an opponent, tolerance.To a friend, your heart. To a customer, service. To all, charity. To every child, a good example. To yourself, respect.” -Oren Arnold

These are the best gifts of all. What is amazing is that they are recession proof, they are timeless, and they all come on everyones size. Happy Holidays, everyone.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

My Little Gems

Recently, I've noticed that my taste in pleasurable reading has changed. Usually I like to lose myself in a work of human drama. Fiction was the way for me to go. That was until I picked up A New Earth, This I Believe and This I Believe II. A New Earth was an Oprah Book Club selection, but I must have had the channel turned off the month she was featuring the book. Eckhart Tolle asks his ready to take a spiritual journey with him in this book. Now I know that you may be thinking, "Oh no, not another person telling me to let go and let God." Well not to worry, he doesn't do that in this one. He challenges us to let go and just be. Powerful, I know.

This I Believe and its II are short essays by extraordinary everyday people on the various things they believe about life. The essay compels readers to reevaluate how it is that they come to their own beliefs. Both books are provocative and refreshing. They are also a breath of fresh air.

I once heard a saying, that reading is the easiest way to give someone a new perspective. My little gems didn't fail to deliver.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

I live life to the fullest

and all of those other cliche sounding adages that I hear people say. Last week I took the old adage by the horns and went skydiving. According to my mother, I seem to have some sinister plot to give her a heart attack (lol). So what in the world would possess me to leap out of a perfectly good airplane at 14,250 feet? Simply, I did it because I could. I did it because I've always been inspired by people who have lived their life without regrets. People who do not have lives filled with a long list of "could'ves, would'ves, should'ves". Now you may say (and justifiably so), ILP, you don't have to skydive to live life to the fullest. My response (besides you're right) would be that skydiving is representative of all of the opportunities that life has to offer and the speed at which those opportunities can fly by.

Since my jump I have been bombarded with questions, primarily, "What was going through your mind as you were coming down?" Interestingly enough...nothing was going through my mind. I was simply in the moment. I simply was. What an incredible lesson about how one should live. How ironic that for me, it took something as extreme as a jump to teach me one of life's true cornerstones.

Since I've landed...I haven't been able to stop humming Tim McGraw's old tune. Right now the lyrics are my life's anthem. Enjoy.

Live Like You Were Dyin'

He said: "I was in my early forties,"With a lot of life before me,"An' a moment came that stopped me on a dime."I spent most of the next days,"Looking at the x-rays,"An' talking 'bout the options an' talkin’ ‘bout sweet time."I asked him when it sank in,That this might really be the real end?How’s it hit you when you get that kind of news?Man whatcha do? An' he said: "I went sky diving, I went rocky mountain climbing,"I went two point seven seconds on a bull named Fu Man Chu."And I loved deeper and I spoke sweeter,"And I gave forgiveness I'd been denying."An' he said: "Some day, I hope you get the chance,"To live like you were dyin'." He said "I was finally the husband,"That most the time I wasn’t."An' I became a friend a friend would like to have."And all of a sudden goin' fishin’,"Wasn’t such an imposition,"And I went three times that year I lost my Dad."Well, I finally read the Good Book,"And I took a good long hard look,"At what I'd do if I could do it all again,"And then: "I went sky diving, I went rocky mountain climbing,"I went two point seven seconds on a bull named Fu Man Chu."And I loved deeper and I spoke sweeter,"And I gave forgiveness I'd been denying."An' he said: "Some day, I hope you get the chance,"To live like you were dyin'." Like tomorrow was a gift,And you got eternity,To think about what you’d do with it.An' what did you do with it?An' what can I do with it?An' what would I do with it? "Sky diving, I went rocky mountain climbing,"I went two point seven seconds on a bull named Fu Man Chu."And then I loved deeper and I spoke sweeter,"And I watched Blue Eagle as it was flyin'."An' he said: "Some day, I hope you get the chance,"To live like you were dyin'." "To live like you were dyin'.""To live like you were dyin'.""To live like you were dyin'.""To live like you were dyin'."

Monday, June 29, 2009

The Old, the sick and the sudden

I am sure that we have all heard that old adage that bad things happen in 3's. Well death, depending on how you look at it, is one of those bad things. The week of June 22, 2009 was an incredible example. Monday began with the death of Ed McMahon. At the time of his death he was 89 years old. Thursday the world woke up to the news that actress Farrah Fawcett had lost her 4 year battle with cancer. The world went to bed in shock at the sudden death of Michael Jackson.

These deaths have sent me into reminiscence mode. I grew up with these 3 souls having a tremendous impact on me. As a kid, I didn't get to watch much television, so it was a treat to be able to sneak late at night and watch the antics of Johnney Carson. I waited with baited breath to see how my ladies from 'Charlie's Angels' were going to crack the next case. I will admit that I wanted to be Sabrina Duncan (played by Kate Jackson). I thought she was brilliant. Who didn't have a favorite Michael Jackson song?

As the weeks have passed on since their deaths, I have had to take stock and examine each of their legacies. What gift has each person left to make this world a better place? I can only speak for me.

Ed McMahon has left me with the importance of laughter. One cant sleep on the fact that laughter is an integral part of life. I wish that more people would do it. Farrah Fawcett helped to teach me that women are more than just a pretty face. She taught me that we are smart, we are talented, we are multi-faceted, we are independent, we are strong, we are brave, and most importantly...we are love.

Michael Jackson taught me that God's gift to the world is music. I don't think that anyone has lived or will ever live that understood that better than he did. He had the ability to unite all people, all races, all religions...simply by sharing God's gift. It was all about the music.

I remember when I was a kid, my cousin Pebbles (Lisa) was beginning to take a deeper walk with God. To demonstrate to us mere mortals that she was serious about her new path, she decided that she was going to give up all of her love of "worldly music" including her almost obsessive love (my opinion) for Michael Jackson. I think most of us were happy for her new life, even if it was just to see her take those humongous Michael Jackson posters down from her wall. Pebble's took a giant step in her faith shortly after PYT began playing in regular rotation on the radio. I remember walking into her bedroom and watching her dance and sing... "I want to love you. PYT...Pretty Young Thing...And I'll take you there." She explained that she heard it and just couldn't help herself. There was just something about the music. She understood that God showed his love in every one of his creatures.

It was always funny when I heard folks that were older than me say, "Ya'll youngins dont know this or that...I ain't now like it was back then." The world lost some great people the week that was June 22, 2009. I'll have a good time telling the "young folks" what they've missed.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

What I learned from the Inaugural Maryland Half Marathon

The morning of Sunday, May 31, 2009 began cold and damp and with plenty of rain. I showed up to the Maryland State Fairgrounds in Timonium and sat in my car contemplating whether to go back home and skip the 13.1 mile run that I had committed to run. I sat in my car and wondered to myself, “Why do you even need to run anyway?” Honestly, the answer was not as simple as my needing to keep my word. Months of training wasn’t swaying my feelings either. Running for the cause (the Greenebaum Cancer Center) was doing nada. While watching two runners run back and forth doing warm-ups and seeing race volunteers direct the crowds, a woman in the vehicle next to mine was trying to get my attention. I rolled my window down and she asked, “Do you know if the staging area is where all those people are headed?” I didn’t know, but answered, “Yes, I believe so.” The woman thanked me and then got out of the car. I decided that even though it was raining I should probably get a move one and at least see what was happening in the area where everyone was gathering.

I arrived in the staging area (thank God I was correct) and turned on my IPOD, being able to tune out all the pre run chatter helped calm my nerves. Questions began to swirl in my head. Would I have to run in the rain? Was the course difficult? Would I make my time goal (which for me was under 2:12:24)? What if I couldn’t finish? Then I noticed that the woman from the parking lot was standing next to me. “They just blew the rallying horn. I guess that means things are going to start soon?” I introduced myself and then we began to walk towards the start line. Kim (parking lot woman’s name) and I began talking about what we both heard about the course. We compared training stories. And then Kim said, “This is my first race, ever. I am worried that I won’t be able to finish.”

Well my experience spirit took over, which in itself is hilarious (the Maryland Half was going to be only the 2nd organized half marathon that I had registered). I advised: Don’t let the energy from the crowd take you out too fast. Take advantage of the water stops. Take the race one mile at a time. I even told her how I dedicate each mile to think about something different. Have a plan when you go through the water stops. Get to the finish. Kim seemed to be taking in all of my tips and then she asked, “Why are you running?”

I didn’t get to answer her because the start crowd began to move and then we were off. I lost Kim shortly after mile one. Miles 2-3 were alright. I loved the course between miles 4-5. Running on the 2 lane road was kind of cool. I think the covering of the trees added to the effect. I was mesmerized by the man I saw shortly after the split. He decided he was going to do his 13.1 while skipping rope. I met up with Kim again at the overlap at mile 7. She was looking good. I cursed the course organizers for all of mile 8. Why they felt a hill at that point was a good idea I couldn’t figure out. The Little Red Devils at mile 9 provided the comic relief. I had to dig really deep, so that I could navigate the hill at mile 11. I wish I had gotten the name of the race volunteer, so I could thank her personally for her encouraging words. I was wearing a hat that said, “I run so that I can drink wine.” The race volunteer reminded me that I had a bottle of MD wine chilling at home. I was stoked when I saw the 12 mile marker. As I crossed the finish line and heard the announcer say my name, it hit me.

I run because I can. I run because nothing mimics life more closely. I run because nothing is more satisfying than coming across the finish line knowing that you’ve done it. You’ve finished. My icing on the cake was my finishing time of 2:10:52.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

The Countdown Begins

Sunday, May 31, 2009 @ 7:30. I can't wait. This run is for charity. All of my proceeds (and training) goes the the University of Maryland's Greenbaum Cancer Center. It doesn't get any better than this.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Lying is done with words and also with silence.

I have recently adopted the above quote. Adrienne Rich has never said a truer set of words. It takes my breath away when I come across individuals that do not consider silence a form of deception. I recently ended a conversation with a 40 year old gentleman. I use the word gentleman ONLY for the purposes of this posting because calling him a lyin' Bastard would be to good...sorry I digress. This gentleman was perplexed as to why I kept calling him a liar. He wanted to know what exactly he had said that would classify him as a liar.

We went back and forth for several rounds and finally broke it down like this:
1. When you say something that isn't true. Lie.
2. When you say something that leads another to believe something that isn't true. Lie.
3. When you tell just enough of the truth to get by. Lie.
4. When you you tell half and leave off half. Lie.
5. When you say nothing at all. Lie.
6. When you tell yourself something that isn't true. Damned sad lie.

I finally let the 40 year old lyin' bastard...urr...I mean gentleman that numbers 1-5 all ooze deceit. The 40 year old got me when he asked if #6 wasn't deceitful as well (did I mention he was a sarcastic lyin' bastard?). I am still mulling that one over. Can one be deceitful with oneself?

The bottom line for me isn't the lie. It isn't what I find so offensive. It is the deception that is the most egregious.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

On the 5th of May

I have come to understand that this world has dreamers, realists and the people that are a hybrid of both. I am a realist who has a friend that is a dreamer. is so difficult for me to have a conversation with her. Sigh.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

The Power of the Written Word

I've always been the type of person that believed that if you wrote down your thoughts and desires then there was live documentation (in black and white) for you to refer to if you needed it. The live documentation was there to hold me accountable, to remind me, to help me track my progress or lack there of. As a result, I have To Do Lists, Affirmation Sticky Notes, Blogs, Journals, and the various random doodling.

Usually when I write it down, I actually realize what is written there. No matter the task or dream, if I write it down, then I do it. My written words come to fruition. I've written down financial goals, written down my educational goals, I write down my running goals. Guess what? I realize those too. This week, for the first time, I kept a food journal. I've been writting down my goals this week. I've been writting down what I plan to eat (and what I want to avoid). Yup, so far so good.

So tonight, it has occurred to me that I should address the relationship area of my life. And no, I am not being ridiculous. It stands to reason, I write everything else down. So here goes:

I want a real man. I want a man that is emotionally available. One that loves music. One that loves art. He must love God and respect nature and the gifts it has to offer. He should speak with his heart. He should love me, respect me, challenge and interest me. He must be a man of integrity and honor.

It is now time for me to get to work.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

25 More Random Things

On my first day of Spring Break, I find myself sick as a dog. Since I am bed ridden anyway, I've decided to share some random thoughts. These are not in any particular order.

1. Technology scares me. It really does, seriously. Take this Facebook account for instance….I only have it because of a class requirement.

2. I believe that ALL things have a season. Life, friends, jobs, relationships, clothes, etc.…enjoy what you can, learn what you are supposed to learn, and move on when it is done.

3. Even though she died back in 1999, it is still sometimes incomprehensible to me that my cousin Lisa is dead. I hope that she is proud of all me.

4. I am a gypsy at my core. I am at home anywhere on this planet.

5. Teaching was the absolute last thing I thought I would be doing for a career. I only began teaching while waiting for the Foreign Service to place me.

6. Monday, January 6, 2006 and running have saved my life. Literally.

7. I don’t believe in Political Correctness. I think it has abused Truth. However, I still hold out hope that Truth will prevail.

8. The first book I ever read from cover to cover was Gone With the Wind. I read the sequel Scarlet…what a let down.

9. I do own an IPOD (someone had to set it up for me though) and I have everyone from Conway Twitty to TPain loaded in it.

10. I have friends that have interesting careers. I know an ice trucker, a CEO of a bank, fitness trainers, foreign service workers, writers, archivists, reporters, pilots, a taste tester, exotic dancers, bartenders, fashion designers, professional athletes, private investigators, personal assistants to famous/wealthy people, numerous chefs, Peace Corps workers, actor, recording artists, ministers, a jeweler, a hand and foot model (not the same people, btw), a few regular models. I could go on, but I’ve made my point.

11. Closed Mind People (People that “Don’t like this/that/him/her/them/it” for no other reason other than mere existence), really, really tick me off.

12. I believe that people have the time to do what they desire to do. Period.

13. I am a principled person.

14. I despise winter, but understand its necessity in the cycle of things.

15. I am jealous of artistic people in general. I wish that I could express myself in the ways that they do.

16. I once spent an entire paycheck on a purse and a pair of shoes.

17. I get a kick out of seeing my students having an “Aha! Moment”. It never ever gets old.

18. The concept of rewarding people for doing things that they are supposed to do is the saddest practice I have ever seen.

19. I am most at peace when I am near water. I sometimes turn on the faucet and watch the water run. Lately, since I have been trying to be less wasteful of the world’s resources, I have started the practice of filling a large bucket with water and then using it to clean things. Yeah, you got it…the dipping my hands in water thingy.

20. I am an English teacher that happens to be the worst speller known to man.

21. I cried when I left Brazil at the end of last summer. I really, really considered not boarding my flight back to the US.

22. If one got a passport stamped for travel within the US, my passport would be stamped the most for Las Vegas, Nevada. Yeah, I don’t get this one either. I’ve been to Las Vegas so many times now that visits have begun to blend together.

23. Sometimes people don’t get what they deserve.

24. It is in part of because of charity that I am where I am today. I am charitable one, to remind myself of it and two, to hopefully bless someone else.

25. My mom and my aunt are my heroes.