A Heated Discussion

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Recently, while having dinner with a dear friend, we got in a bit of a debate about something we heartily disagreed upon. We were discussing education and what we feel is important when it comes to teaching our children. I absolutely adore this person, and I am not argumentative by nature, so it surprised me just how heated this topic made me feel. He was pressing the argument that science and math are the most important things in education, and that other things should take the back seat, specifically music and art.  He works in technology in the Silicon Valley, so I can’t really blame him for seeing things the way he does. His whole world is fueled by advances in technology. And I can’t disagree that the world, as we know it, wouldn’t exist without science and math. And yet, the very idea that arts and music were the lesser subjects made my heart race inside my chest and I felt an uprising stirring within me as I pondered the idea. Everything about me embraces the beauty created through an artist’s touch. And as I expressed my feelings on the matter, my tone of voice became more and more fervent and I felt more passion than I have felt in any other discussion I can remember having, because it truly mattered to me- TO THE CORE. The people at the tables around us knew there was a lively discussion at table number 5! In fact, I surprised myself. My total defiance to his idea was very apparent and I just simply WOULD NOT SEE IT HIS WAY! Again, out of character for me; usually so eager to try to understand another person’s point of view.

“But, Kimberly!” he exclaimed. “Technology is everything! Math and science will bring success! If a child doesn’t excel in these fields, they are lost out there in the workplace! Completely lost! They will never make enough money to survive, let alone thrive!”

“What is life…” I shot back, “living as a robot with no feelings and emotions? Our human experience is made beautiful by art and creativity. The very room we are sitting in was designed by a creative soul, and the food we are eating… prepared by an artist.

What would life be without the passion that stirs our souls when we are deeply moved by a thing of beauty; be it a fluid painting that makes us want to dance…

The Spanish Dancer

Or a piece of music that transports us to another place and time.

I have never been moved to tears by a math problem… (actually, I have)! But those were tears of frustration! But a wonderful novel… now that has brought me to tears on more than one occasion as my soul was stirred and my eyes opened.

I have been deeply touched by books, movies, art, music, a lightning storm across a dark sky, courtesy of the ultimate creative Being. These things can teach us about ourselves. Who we really are. If we take art and music out of education, we are raising a generation of drones from some science fiction movie!  “The conveyor belts are prepared, Admiral! We’ve got another batch of of the offspring coming through. They have been programed to your specifications…” Seriously?

So, back to the debate…

What is more important to humanity and our progress as a civilization, the “brainy” subjects or the “artsy” ones? In the end, my friend and I came to an agreement. And the truth is, they are completely intertwined and I believe there can be little progress if you take any of them away.

It would be foolish of me to belittle the importance of science and math. Truly, they are both so much a part of everything that moves us forward, even in the arts! Any piano teacher will show you how important math is in music composition. And the most beautiful bridges across the globe and the fine architectural wonders that we often consider art are impossible without the greatest minds working equations both in math and science.

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paris opera

The chef at the restaurant… he used math to make his measurement and science was a big part of the recipe, as well. (A+B=C… put C in oven and the heat will turn this liquid into a light and fluffy, and somewhat miraculous confection).

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The creative soul who designed the space we were enjoying the night of the debate, used symmetry to invoke a peaceful environment. You see, It has been scientifically proven that symmetry promotes peace. (Not that it worked at our table).

Math, Science, Arts and Music are all equally important! The math and science push us forward, teaching us “how to live”, or “function well”, while the arts and music keep us human, connected to our passions and to each other, giving us greater understanding and, in short, giving us “reason to live” and the ability to “live well”.

The conclusion on the topic of debate was this… we agreed about the importance of arts and music in an education, but not at the expense of leaving science or math out. I can live with that. I totally agree. But let’s not go the other direction!

(note to self… I enjoy a good disagreement). It was exciting to get all stirred up about something that mattered to me! In fact, it made me want to go home and paint something bold and defiant! 🙂

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Thanks to the following for photos and art:

The Spanish Dancer by John Singer Sargent

Vengerov plays the 18th variation of Rachmaninoff’s Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini / arr. Kreisler at Moscow Conservatory

Manhattan Bridge, Brooklyn USA  Visit media-cache-ec0.pinimg.com

Paris Opera Garnier  Visit this-is-irene.blogspot.com.au

cake   Visit this-is-irene.blogspot.com.au

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What’s on the Inside?

I came across a deeply moving photograph and I just had to share it!

Haven’t we all heard that it is what is on the inside that makes someone truly beautiful. How many times have we seen in a movie, or perhaps in real life, someone who was gorgeous by the world’s standards, but when we get to know them a bit we find they are full of ugliness? Suddenly, they don’t seem so beautiful anymore, right?

Well, while looking at some photos on Pinterest, I came across this one and I just had to smile. Her beauty comes from the love and kindness in her expression. Had I the good fortune to come across this gentle woman, I would not ask her what face cream she uses or who her stylist is, but rather, who has she loved. And then I would want to sit at her feet and hear her story.

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May we all seek to be so lovely on the inside that not even a stranger can deny our beauty, no matter our physical appearance or age.

Don’t be Delicate (Note to Self)

We are heroes to begin with. When we come into this world we have everything we need to make all of our dreams come true, as long as we hold to “who we really are” and look to heaven with humility and faith, literally anything is possible. I really do believe that.

Yet, as much as I feel the truth of this, I need to remind myself ALL THE TIME because I am often bombarded by negative thoughts at the most inopportune times, like right when I have made important decisions that involve change and being brave.

Being an emotional creature, I have often thought of myself as being “Delicate”. In fact, always hoping to be “a lady”, I have yearned to be more feminine, more delicate since I was a child. What “Girly-Girl” wouldn’t love to be as “fine China”, delicate and lovely. Well, I was mistaken in my longings. Seeking to be docile and delicate through trying to be pleasant and peaceful all the time, (even when it’s not right for me) has caused me more trouble in my life than I care to admit. I looked up Delicate in the dictionary and here is one of the definitions.

Delicate- fragile, easily damaged, frail.

That is NOT who I am. I may have been complacent on the outside; always smiling; behaving, but somewhere deep inside, my soul was stirring, rebelling- because the real me was not alright with the situation and where I placed myself in it. And when I reached my boiling point, which always happened, eventually, a Lion’s Heart emerged to the surprise of everyone, not in a temper tantrum or hissy-fit, but usually in a silent, powerful and decisive “movement” to “save myself.” And though, sometimes misdirected, this lion’s heart did, in fact, get me out of the painful scenario, whatever it was at the time.

Oh, to be able to tap into our power all the time, not just when it gets too painful!  I long to reacquaint myself with that part of me, only this time with wisdom and clear thinking, rather than reacting to a situation where I felt the need to save myself.

Women who make things happen in this world and in their own lives are NOT delicate!

At the gym this week while on the treadmill (hooray for me!), I caught a few minutes of an interview with Serena Williams, the amazing tennis star who won the US Open a few days back. It is astounding how successful this woman is and how far she has come in her life! But what caught my attention during the interview was not the fact that she won, yet again, making that 5 U.S. Open trophies! What touched me was a story she shared about another triumph. It turns out that she has been trying to reach a goal of hitting the ball at the speed of 126 miles per hour for quite a while but has continually fallen short during her practices. Then, amazingly, during the Open against Victoria Azarenka, after some struggles to stay on top of the game and without even thinking of the speed, she plummeted the ball across the net at 126 MPH, reaching her goal.

How can she try so hard for so long only to continue to “fail” and then in one moment, when she isn’t even thinking of it, she nails it? I certainly can’t speak for Serena, but I imagine that perhaps she had reached the point in the game where she knew it could go either way. She had some less than stellar plays in the moments prior, (considering what she is capable of) and the wind was gusty and difficult to play to. She knew she could lose this if she didn’t throw her whole entire soul and all of her focus into it, right then! So, she did. Her incredible will to win the game was enough to rally every ounce of strength, physically and mentally, and emotionally. It is amazing what a human being can do when they are fully invested! (Oh, a little side note, she doesn’t take all the credit but admits that she often prays out there on the court, not that she will win, but that she will do her best).

I don’t even follow tennis. I had to look up the name of the opponent as I wrote this, (sorry, it’s true) but I was so impressed with Serena and her story she shared. She is a woman’s hero, for sure! And she is anything but delicate, yet still retains her femininity.

Can we please all be a Serena Williams??? Or maybe her sister, Venus? (Yes, I do know that much about the sport to know that she has a champion sister, too). What kind of hero could we be in our own lives if we won like they do.

Well, we can. We just need to turn up our intensity a bit and stop being so delicate. Like I said in the opening lines, I believe we all come into this world being heroes to begin with. WE ARE HERE TO HIT 126 MPH TENNIS BALLS. But, we forget who we are sometimes. I know I do. So, here is a little something for you. It is one of my favorite finds on Pinterest! I would like to share it with you as a little reminder that we don’t need to hide our God-given powers, under doubt, fear or the desire to “be a lady”. We can be very feminine, if that is what we want, and still take on the world. I believe Serena Williams knew she “had the game” the moment her racket hit that last ball. There was nothing delicate in her delivery.

So, here’s to “NOT BEING DELICATE”!

don't be delicate

Short Belgian Men & Weight Loss???

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Ahhh. the great mysteries of life…

Although I don’t much care for television, I do love a good mystery! In fact, I’m kind of addicted to any PBS show if intrigue and suspense are involved. And that would make me a big fan of Hercule Poirot, Agatha Christie’s “little, Belgian” super sleuth.

hercule-poirot*

I absolutely adore him! And do you know that little funny man doesn’t miss a thing? He can unravel all sorts of baffling mysteries because he is aware of things others don’t even notice. He always gets the bad guy!

Well, I think he is rubbing off on me! For one thing, I find myself responding to people around me in a darling little French/Belgian accent. And when I do so, I picture myself being extremely clever to look at; (eyebrow raised, a knowing smile). For another thing, there are little clues all around me and I am getting so perceptive that I am starting to see them!

For example, if you read my post called “Zoolander, Pachyderms, and Asking for Help” last week, you will know that I recently admitted to the “whole Blasted World” that I was overweight and that I knew I needed help from someone “bigger” with this issue, a very hard thing to do. And then I patted myself on the back, said “good girl”, and went on with my week making some good choices but also allowing myself to get distracted with life. (Classically Diverted! See, the name of my blog makes perfect sense if you know me)!

But, this whole weight loss thing can be such a mystery! I mean, it’s been baffling to me how I can want something so bad on one level and yet be the very person keeping myself from getting it! I feel like one of the characters in a mystery… the kind with the split personality who does “odd things”, things that don’t make sense because they don’t line up with the characteristics of that person! Now, I’m not running around committing crimes unknowingly, (that I am aware of). And I don’t have an alter-ego either. Although my husband might tell you different (what can I say… he chose to marry a woman, so he must deal with the consequences)! But sometimes, with this whole weight loss thing, I do feel like two different people. On the one side, I am strong and capable. But the other side of me (cue Twilight Music) is trying to unravel all my good choices with… scary, frightful, chocolate filled ones!

That is not to say I did not make progress to better my health. I have consistently gone to the gym five days a week for two months (which is a really big deal because I avoided it like the plague for a while thinking it would bring back the old memories of unhappier days).  And I have been better about tracking the foods I eat in a journal even though somehow I still think if I don’t acknowledge that cookie, it never really happened! You gotta love that line of thinking. It’s so darn convenient for my psyche!

I even started turning to God!

Like… actually making an effort to get extra help. And I don’t just mean glancing up to heaven, although in some moments that is all it takes. But I have been studying and writing my thoughts in a journal and do you know what? On the days I do that, I make better food choices! You mean to tell me all this time I have been blaming my failure to get back in shape on all the merits I lack, when it turns out I just have to focus on God’s merits. How selfish I have been. Why does it always have to be about me? I don’t have to be the hero. It’s like I have been beating my head against a wall trying to break through and berating myself because my darn head isn’t strong enough to do the job.

There is a door right there, Kimberly! Get a grip, girl!

It’s a door that is wide open that I can actually walk peacefully through, no headaches required! How very resourceful.

The mystery is unraveling all around me and I am starting to see the truth. Getting my body back in shape is going to be so much more than eating right and exercising. You see, evidence in my life shows that I have a tendency to turn to food when I actually need something else entirely. Further evidence shows that if I don’t rely on my merits, but on someone far bigger, that I will do much better!

Hey, I guess I’m a super sleuth of sorts, even if it did take me 42 years to figure out that mystery! Thank goodness I have such a keen and perceptive view of things. (Don’t judge me). Anyway, even if it does take me a while to “get it right”, if I were a quick learner, my life would be a little boring, don’t you think? Anyone who reads my posts knows I need a little Melodrama now and then! What better way to get it than to wallow about in the dark corners for a while; like a frightened character played by Kim Novak in an Alfred Hitchcock thriller. I was named after her, so why not play the part? (True story).

But, seriously. I am turning a corner here. I am on the trail and blazing it- watch out hidden closets! I intend to open every one of you, eventually!

As my wise friend, Hercule Poirot (coolest name ever) would say, “Things are starting to come together, Mon Ami… It is just a matter of time before ze mystery has solved itself.”

California, You Are SCRUMPTIOUS!

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In Northern California, when springtime comes around after a dark winter, all of the hills turn a deeply rich shade of green. There is rain in the air, but there are also bursts of sunshine through varying shades of grey and white clouds. Pink Cherry Blossom trees can be found lining the streets and they look so pretty I could get jealous, but I have to tell them the truth, “Gosh, that color is so lovely on you!”

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There are birds chirping sweetly outside my window in the mornings, really pretty ones! There are rainbows, too! And this past springtime, I found myself so inspired by the beauty around me, that I threw on my frilly sleeved, waist fitting, full skirted number, pushed open my shutters, and as the radiant sun smiled down on my dewy, fair skin, (with just a hint of Damsel Rose #5 on my cheeks for the perfect innocent pink flush) I sang in an uncharacteristically high voice (just shy of a shrill), “Oh, What a beautiful morning. Oh, what a beautiful day. I’ve got a beautiful feeling, everything’s going my way!”  (Thank you Rodgers and Hammerstein)! And do you know, a little bluebird sat on my finger and joined me!

snow white

(Disney’s Snow White).

I love living here in the Bay Area. I often ask my children, and anyone else who will listen, “Do you realize we live in one of the best places in the world?” And we do! Everything we could desire, every type of environment, every type of experience, if it’s not out our back door, its all within a short drive! Whether it’s the dangerous, jagged coastlines covered in mysterious fog (perfect backdrop for a haunting, love story… a tall, dark stranger, meets her on the cliff. His strong jaw line, clenched tight… a man full of secrets… sigh- It just occurred to me I might be a bit of a drama queen). Or, the surfing beaches sprinkled all along Highway 1. How cool is that? We have a Highway 1! Do other states have that? California is “Awesome!” Not to mention the amazing mountains covered in Redwoods that are a gazilliion years old; still growing! You can actually drive your car through the tunnel carved into the tree! “Massively” cool. Nice pun, huh?

redwood

TOLD YOU SO!

And then there is Autumn; my favorite time of year “HANDS DOWN”.  Although the hills are a warm yellow color after the warm summer months, they are still breathtaking. Autumn is the perfect season to take a road trip to Napa Valley, just over an hour away.

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Yes. It really is like this!

Here is a recipe for a great day- picnic basket full of all your favorite cheeses, meats, olives, fall fruits, some nice, crusty country bread, a little olive oil, balsamic vinegar, (you get the idea)!

picnic

Take your “True Love”, or just a good friend, a soft blanket and a camera. Do you know that you can actually smell the ripe grapes in the air when you drive through Napa in the late summer and fall. Some of the local wineries will let you pluck them off their vines to feed to your toddler. Yes, Napa is so magical, you can take your two year old and still… romance is in the air! This is our little angel, enjoying the grapes last year. (Yes, that is a Christmas outfit! Proof of how great California is- we were eating grapes off the vine in December)!

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And then there is the “City by the Bay.” We can be in a world class city in forty-five minutes by car. Who doesn’t love San Francisco, where even if you prefer a quieter life for your everyday living, you can’t help but be swept into the magic of that city when you visit? One picture won’t do for this fine city. Enjoy these shots to get just a taste of this cultural mecca!

This first shot is of the AMAZING Palace of Fine Arts. True story- When I first saw this place in person a few years ago, I was so overcome by its beauty that I turned to my sister Kendra (one of my best friends) to tell her how I felt and I couldn’t form the words- literally, I was speechless! I just looked at her and started crying.

Palace of Fine Arts

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The famous Victorian “Sisters” (National Geographic photo)

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San Francisco Ballet’s Romeo and Juliet.  (Photo-goldstar.com)

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San Francisco Opera (sfopera.com)

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The Golden Gate Bridge, with the city in the distance- Truly Iconic

I don’t know what led me to this particular post subject, but I have enjoyed it immensely! I am reminded of the blessings in my life. To live in such a place as the Bay Area, to me, is as being seated at the head of a most elaborate feast, a table appointed with all of the finest and diverse foods.

Simply SCRUMPTIOUS!

All I have to do is partake- AMAZING!

http://www.flickr.com/photos/najwakronfel/7083967503/in/photostream

Visitskybambi.wordpress.com

(thecoastalview.com)

http://mcmanuslab.ucsf.edu/SF

Zoolander, Pachyderms, and Asking for Help

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So I have mentioned in a few posts about my mountains to tackle but I haven’t gotten very specific, have I? I fear when I get specific, people might expect something from me to make things happen. (Yikes!)

Time to be accountable!

There are a few different areas in my life that really need work! Namely, I am starting my own business and learning how to be successful by trial and error, I am raising a toddler, AGAIN! (Did I mention I have three teens and a tween, too) I am learning to balance my life, forgive myself, deal with fears, run a household, and basically be brilliant at everything I undertake! Yeah… well, that’s the plan, anyway.

That last paragraph was me trying to avoid the REAL reason I began this particular post. (See how I did that? I have years of practice in distraction and denial). I’m sure you have you heard the term “elephant in the room”. Wikipedia describes it this way; “based on the idea that an elephant in a room would be impossible to overlook; thus, people in the room who pretend the elephant is not there have chosen to avoid dealing with the looming big issue”.

Evidently, I have an affinity for these large, friendly pachyderms! I am really quite hospitable towards elephants! I’ve been known to let them stay for years. I just vacuum around them and it’s all good!

This is my friend. Isn’t he cute? *

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And this post’s purpose is to address a certain big elephant in the room? Here is the “looming big issue”; I AM OVERWEIGHT! I guess you could say “I’m the elephant”. (I’m laughing! Oh, that was good!)

As I contemplated if I wanted to share that lovely tidbit with the whole “blasted world”, these words resonated in my head, “If I don’t bring it up, it doesn’t exist. If I don’t bring it up, it doesn’t exist! If I don’t bring it up…”

Oh, joy! Isn’t honesty just so… um… Freaking SCRUMPTIOUS??? (Tone of blatant sarcasm).

Turns out it exists, whether I say so or not!

It is not a matter of me not knowing how to eat right and exercise! It would be great if I could blame it on ignorance, but I can’t. My past includes years of personal study about health and fitness as well as working as a personal trainer followed by a stint as a weight-loss consultant for a couple of years. (That was five years back, when I was super fit)! I had lost over sixty pounds by getting support from friends, cutting out white flour and sugar and working out like crazy! I worked out compulsively- two hours in the morning, much of that time was weight-training in addition to cardio, starting as early as 4:30 AM. And on a “good day”, I made another trip to catch a Zumba class or climb onto the Stairmaster in the evening for another hour, often followed by more weights. I was super fit at 36 years old, after 4 children!

Sweet!

The only problem was, and you should already know this by what you have read so far, and by looking into my eyes in the photo below- I was an empty shell. I had worked so hard on myself; something I had never really done before (I’d always felt guilty when I thought of taking time away from my family to care for myself). So, you can imagine the change that came when I decided to get serious about fitness. I was hoping being fit would change everything. But it didn’t. I was so out of balance in my life that I was very unhappy. It was even worse than when I was fat because I was missing time with my little ones chasing fitness in a compulsive manner.

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My husband, Danny, calls this photo “The Zoolander Photo”; he doesn’t like it. I can see why! It’s a total poser shot. (And I know a poser when I see it, I was raised in the 80’s! Poison, Cinderella… need I say more?) In this photo I was trying to be something I wasn’t. Nevertheless, I keep this picture hanging in my room now to remind myself that I have reached my fitness goals before so I can do it again. BUT, underneath it in bold letters, I have written “This… ONLY A BIGGER SMILE!”

So, back to the story, I used the gym and my workouts as an escape from dealing with some big issues in my life; issues that one can only pretend don’t exist for so long before things begin to crumble beneath you. I mean, just how many elephants can one woman keep in her living room?

AND CRUMBLE THEY DID!

Before I knew it (well, that’s not true… I knew it as it was happening, but remember… DENIAL! In addition to a divorce, holding three jobs while still being home with the children during the day, six moves in five years, GUILT and FEAR, a new romance, a pregnancy at 39 and… you get the idea), I had really packed on the pounds. In the past few years, my actions have shown that I did not feel worthy of putting effort into taking care of myself. Every time my friends saw me, I was bigger than the time before! I was telling the whole world I didn’t matter. I was telling myself that, too. Sad.

This is not meant to be a big “sob story”. The whole point of this blog is to focus on living a scrumptious life full of great experiences, soulful people, and all things AMAZING! But, I have to be real about where I am at if I hope to get to a place I can be happy about my health. I don’t believe I can live scrumptiously (embracing life) if I am not happy with my body’s current state. So, I am changing my approach because, somehow, I just keep hearing Dr. Phil, in my mind, as I’m reaching for a handful of nuts (hey, they’re healthy!) off my child’s snack plate, “How is that working for you, Kimberly?” (Fine, Phil! I’ll admit it is NOT working for me… AT ALL!)

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This is me currently. I’m heavier than I have ever been. (See how I strategically placed the wrap to cover my disgrace). I have worse pictures, ones that don’t hide the fat so nicely, but I have too much pride to post those, I guess. (Hey, writing about it is bad enough!)

So I have begun a process of change. This time around, my weight loss journey will be an attempt to fix myself from the inside out. Rather than the other way around. Remember the “Zoolander photo”- fit on the outside, broken and empty on the inside? This time will be different. Really!

What is so different, you may ask. Well, this time, I’m not going to attempt to do it without God. Don’t run away, if your not into God. You can call it whatever you want. But there is a power out there, bigger than me, eager to help if I will just humble myself and admit that!

Part of my journey to a scrumptious life, it turns out, is going to require my letting go of the reigns I have tried so desperately to grasp all alone for a while now. I don’t know who else I can turn to for the kind of help I need. No one else is strong enough to help me reach my goals!

“So, here they are, God. Do you think you could help me loosen my grasp from these leather reigns? My hands are tired. I want to believe You can steer this carriage but I may feel the need to try and take over when I get scared that it might not work out Your way. Be patient with me, please. I can learn. Be patient with me.” (pausing thoughtfully, I hear something familiar…) “What was that?” I ask, glancing upwards, “Patience? You have been waiting a long time? Oh… That’s right! You are the King of patience!”

“LET’S DO THIS!”

(Will all elephant friends kindly exit stage left? I hear there is a circus in town.)

*photo credit-  http://twistedsifter.com/2012/05/cutest-baby-elephants-ever/

Bravery, and Other Scary Concepts

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I have noticed that my favorite movies or books are always the ones with a heroine who has come to a crossroads in her life and has to make a big decision. Will she go left, or right? Will she choose to stay in a “so-so” life, or will she be courageous and go for something better, even if it means being alone, going against the grain, or being afraid.

I am always inspired by these women who seem to know that they must risk if they wish for a new, better direction. They have a hope of what their life “could be”.

Over the weekend, I took the time to watch one of my favorite movies again; Under the Tuscan Sun. It’s a rich story about a woman named Frances who takes a tour of Italy to escape her depressing existence at “Camp Divorce”, as her friends call it. It’s a tiny apartment complex that advertises “temporary housing”; perfect for some one who is rebuilding their life! Most of the tenants have been there for a few years… too afraid to try living again. Fear of pain does that to people. It paralyzes them. (I deal with paralysis on a regular basis, you’re not the only one, don’t worry).

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For Frances, it had been just a year since her divorce when her friends talk her into taking a tour of Tuscany… alone!  While there, quite on a whim, she makes an offer on a run-down villa full of tiny scorpions and decaying walls. She wasn’t completely confident, for as she was running the numbers, she took into account the fee for the rental car she would need for driving off a cliff when she realized what a big mistake she was making! But, when asked if she would like to take a tour of the house first before deciding, she simply replies…  “I can’t go back to San Francisco”.

It took her getting out of her current situation (even if just for a few days) to see the need for change. And, when she realized how she had been “existing”, she knew she couldn’t go back to being the person she was before.  This gave her the courage to start again, alone in a foreign country with no connections! Sure she was afraid but her new perspective had sparked the desire to rebuild a better life and that desire was strong enough to get the ball rolling in the “right direction”.

Brave Frances!

In a moment a little less governed by bravery, Frances voices her fears to Martini, a friend she has made in Tuscany.

“What am I doing all by myself? Don’t you think it’s strange? I bought a house for a life I don’t even have.”

“Why did you do it?”, he asks.

“Because I’m sick of being afraid all the time. I still want things. I want a wedding in this house, I want a family!”

Her wise friend responds…

“Signora, between Austria and Italy, there is a section of the Alps called the Semmering. It is an impossibly steep, very high part of the mountains. They built a train track over these Alps to connect Vienna and Venice. They built these tracks even before there was a train in existence that could make the trip. They built it because they knew some day, the train would come.”

(oh, to have such a wise AND handsome Italian friend!)

Frances is one of my heroes. In spite of the mess her life was, she had the courage to change things (pretty significantly, in her case) in hopes of a better life; a life she re-invented… IN HER HEART FIRST! She built a “home” for a life she knew would come.

Faith; an easy word to say but, as we have all heard at one point or another, “faith without works is dead”.

Frances had faith that her life could be what she dreamed of. And then SHE PUT IN THE WORK.” I can learn from Frances and I hope the lesson sticks this time! Anytime I want to change something for the better, I can remember her words when asked if she wanted to tour the house before buying… “I can’t go back to San Francisco”.

We all have stuff we want to change. It doesn’t have to be fueled by a major thing like divorce,  a death of a loved one, or a life changing accident to really matter. Even the small changes we want can make things better as we “do the work”.

I believe in discontent. I believe we always want things to be better because we are creative beings, full of possibility.

For me, there are a million things I still want to do in my life… Big Things! To make them happen, I have to look at the life I don’t want, the one I’ve been living, and say, “I can’t go back to that.” When I am THAT serious for change, I will make it happen.

I like to believe Dr.Suess knows what he is talking about in his book, The Places You’ll Go, the only children’s book that makes me cry when I read it (if I’m feeling particularly sappy)! He says, “Kid, you’ll move mountains!

Some of my mountains are pretty steep and they seem insurmountable, but maybe I don’t have to physically move them! Do you think I might be able to just build a track to travel over them? (As far as cities go, I wouldn’t mind having a track from Venice to Vienna and back- two cities I long to visit)!

So, whether I’m building a track or actually moving the mountain, I guess there is no better time to get started than NOW! As I make my plans for tackling this job, I am reminded again of Frances and I wonder if I should be factoring into my plan a rental car fee for “driving off a cliff when it turns out to be a huge mistake”, But, I’m not going to because I would rather focus on another lesson Frances teaches just before the closing credits begin to roll up the screen…

“Unthinkably good things can happen, even late in the game. It’s such a surprise.”

On Letting Go… (the “game changer moment”)

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It is funny how you can be going along in your day, handling the jobs that need to get done, when all of the sudden something happens… something that matters. And in that moment, you change.

I call those moments “game changer moments”.

I had one of those moments about 10 years ago. There I was, dusting my furniture, (evidently a good day for housework since I rarely dust- I’m a mom, remember. If I’m not tripping over it, it’s all good!) So, the work was getting done, the children were happily playing with each other, maybe dinner was even in the crock pot- well, maybe not. But I was dusting and that counts for something. A song came on that I just love. It was that classic Norah Jones song; “Don’t Know Why”. There I was, cleaning to the music, my mind somewhere else; perhaps, when my oldest son, Zachary (maybe 9 or 10 at the time) walked into the room, and not saying a word, took my hand, led me to the middle of the floor and put his arms around me. I thought I was just getting one of those awesome hugs that mom’s live for, but no. As I wrapped my arms around his small, lanky frame he began to sway. He didn’t say a word. He didn’t even look up at me. He just danced with me, head against my chest. We danced the entire song in silence. Then he hugged me and ran away to continue playing with his younger brothers. I don’t remember what I did next. I probably picked up my forgotten rag and began dusting again, but I would never be the same. I had changed in that moment.

Fast forward about 8 or 9 years to January of this year, when my whole family and many close friends celebrated the marriage of Danny and I. It was a perfect evening- magical from start to finish, just as I had dreamed it would be. Then, there was that moment; the one I made sure would happen. I had arranged it with the DJ and the emcee. As Norah’s beautiful voice filled the room, Zachary and I held each other. This time, He was a head taller than me! His arms were more protective this time around, for, he had watched his parents go through a bit of unsettling drama over the years and through it all, he had grown gracefully into a magnificent pillar for his four younger siblings and myself. He was a man now… a good one.

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Driving in the car this morning, I was listening to another song that I  have loved for a long time. It is a romantic song; you know, a guy singing to a girl about how he feels. Well, it hit me in a whole new way today as I thought about Zachary. He is 19 years old now and is leaving for a mission to Brazil at the end of the month. I won’t see him for two years. I have known since he was a child that this time would come so you would think I would have a grip on the situation, but, hey, I’m a mom… and I DON’T!

So, there I was in the car, eyes blurry from tears that wouldn’t stop, listening to the words of this song from the perspective of a mom watching her child grow up… and leave.

Zachary, this post is for you. (Oh brother, here come the tears again… I am seriously a sap! All my children make fun of how quickly I can get choked up. It’s a family joke!) How do I tell you how it is to be your mom? I’ll save all the personal stuff for a journal entry that is a bit more private, but I want the world to know that I love you, more than you can comprehend. (Readers, don’t leave me now, I’ll be addressing you again soon)

I don’t know what life will hold in the next two years for any of us, but I know one thing for sure. When you come home, you will be different. For one thing, you will be a pro at ironing your own shirts and (hopefully making your bed)! But more importantly, you will be the man I always dreamed you would be from the moment I held you in my arms for the first time. You will know what it’s like to be alone, missing the ones you love, but still, you will carry on because your heart is with the people of Brazil, as it should be. You will have experienced life in a whole new way and you will have a lot of joy in your heart as you focus on others. You will have grown in ways  that I have not.

My dear boy, you are my hero.

To all of you out there who may be reading this blog, if you are a mom or a dad, or if you are a human being that loves a child, (or hopes to), remember that a simple moment truly can take your breath away and it  can affect you for a lifetime. If I had shooed my son away because I wanted to get the dusting done, well, I’d have a clean house I guess. That is something, but it’s not what I want. I want to live a “scrumptious” life and that means experiencing everything that comes with loving some one- FULLY!

This link below is the song that I was listening to this morning. I hope you will make the time to create a “moment” for yourself right now by listening to the words while focusing on that little, or big child in your life. At the very least, you will be smiling. But, perhaps, if you are like me, the words will possibly evoke a few tears, and that is okay, too.

A quick side note: as I was locating this song from YouTube, my youngest son, Noah, came up from behind me (he is 11) and wrapped his arms around me and held on tight while we listened to the music.  Seriously? Impeccable timing!

Being a mom is the best!

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The Love Affair (no bandages required)

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Recently, I came across a person from my past and began to fall in love. It all happened so suddenly, like a wave washes across an anxious child, waiting; toes digging into wet sand for stability. Only, I did not see this wave coming and it crashed against me with such great force that my entire body up to my neck was drenched as I ran giggling up the beach away from the force. I don’t know why I ran away. I wanted to dive in.
She entered my world like that. And I am certain I shall never be the same. For her very presence is changing me, making me stronger, bolder and far more brilliant. It’s not a romantic type of crush at all. In my past, those types of crushes seem to make me want to change into something new for a man I love, usually on the surface. No, this is different. The changes she inspires are truly based in the depths of my heart. I am completely smitten with her. Her presence lifts me to places I don’t remember ever visiting, soulful places, and I am changing. It’s crazy that a responsible adult and mother of five could be so affected, but I can’t help it. I have wanted change for so very long that my discontent has prepared me for our fateful meeting.
She is just a child; a charismatic, wise, illuminating child who shines on everything she touches, everything she sees, as if she is throwing magical fairy dust in every direction! I long to be like her, for I was once. You see, It is me I am speaking of. Not as I am today, but as the soul I was when I came into this world as such a strong force, ready to change everything for the better. It turns out this soul… well, she is still alive… and kicking! This little girl, who I had lost track of over the years, is bringing up waves of memories; things I KNOW about myself but forgot as I turned into a pliable, well-meaning adult who didn’t want to feel any pain or discomfort. She is brave! Oh boy, is she brave! She wants to feel it all! She wants to experience everything! I’m bracing myself for our adventures. “Don’t be afraid, Kimberly”, she whispers. “we’ve got this!” I think I actually believe her.
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Photo http://miss-shirley-temple.tumblr.com/

I am finding that changing for the better in my life isn’t really changing, but rather, more like coming home to myself after a long trip. I still have travel plans in my life. The difference is that now I have a little travel companion and she is delightful. I have fallen in love; head over heels. It turns out that the constant struggle I have had with loving myself all my life can be solved by simply falling in love with a child! And that, as any parent will confess, is a very natural thing to do, for they can capture our love and devotion in an instant, yet it lasts for more than a lifetime.
“So, my little travel buddy, I have packed my bags! I’ve got the sunscreen (skin cancer runs in my family), a jacket, in case it gets cold. I am bringing a book to read, in case I get lonely. Oh, I almost forgot bandages, in case…”, she rolls her eyes impatiently, interrupting me before I can tell her all the items I am bringing for protection. I am offended at first. Doesn’t she know how much effort I have put into this list of “just in case” items? But my anger goes quickly and is replaced by a calm, FAMILIAR confidence when, placing her tiny, brave hand on mine, she smiles up at me. “Don’t worry, Kimberly”, she whispers. “We’ve got this.”

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Calloused hands, Smiles and Fairy Dust

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Glancing down at my hands as I attempt to type my first-ever blog, I notice that the years have left their mark! I see callouses, freckles, some age spots AND I need a manicure! They definitely show my age! “Be gentle with yourself, Kimberly.” I say, “Think of what those calloused hands have done in forty-two years of raising five children, being a daughter, a wife, a mother, a friend, a wiper of tears, a giver of hugs. How many times have those worn hands attempted to cover your mouth as joyful laughter flooded out?” My eyes twinkling, I respond with upturned lips, “many times”. I suppose I can forgive the evidence on my hands that I am no longer in my twenties, or even my thirties! With age comes wisdom and experience, or so I am told. I think I feel a bit of that good stuff coming on!

Today, in the midst of interruptions from my children and stopping to whip up a batch of Saturday morning pancakes (I love slow mornings with my family),  I am writing this blog for a very particular reason. There is a message I want to give you.

I survived a mid-life crisis a few years back (evidently they do exist). But I didn’t get out without battle scars and that seems as good a reason as any to plead a bit of insanity, so here it is…

I believe in Fairy Dust; the kind that can make you fly- with all of my heart!

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Photo  weheartit.com/from/www.spiesser.de

The younger me was a bit more grounded I suppose; grounded, but unhappy. I believe that once a woman knows what she is really made of and what she can do, she can’t go back to the way she has always been. She is bigger than that. Women are strong. I have found that out, for sure.

Have you ever heard of the Indian holiday called Holi? My husband, Dharmendra, (he goes by Danny), is a beautifully exotic Indian man; amazing and soulful. Since we have been together, I have been learning about an entirely different culture from my own, (I am of European decent, literally arriving on the Mayflower). In India, on the day of the Holi Festival people dance joyfully in the streets and with wild enthusiasm, throw vibrantly colored dust all over each other! It is a beautiful thing to behold the dust in a rainbow of colors falling on everything and everyone! Nothing is left uncovered!

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Photo  mymodernmet.com/profiles/blogs/holi-festival-of-colors-india

The wisdom that comes with age (I am still learning. I’m not that old!) is teaching me things I never realized about myself. One thing I know now is that I have more power in my little finger than I can comprehend, and so do you. I also know that I was meant for greatness, and so were you. The fairy dust I believe in is a representation of the power we have. The power to live out every dream, the power to change, and the power to make change happen around us.

So, it is with this knowledge that I begin my blog and I hope you will join me. I have a long way to go before I have become the woman I want to be. You see, I have only just realized my power. The life I currently live is a representation of my old limiting beliefs about myself. My intention is to take what I know now and create an absolutely magnificent life from here on out. I have no doubt that I will stumble often and I promise to be real with you, for I am far from perfect and I still battle my fears on a daily basis, but I have a lot of dreams to tackle and a lot of life to live.

How about you? Are you hiding under a warm safe blanket, perhaps a layer of fat? Are you living through a fictional character on television? Do you let some one else make choices for you because it is easier than speaking up? I’ve done all of those things.

Can you do something for me? Close your eyes and imagine you are standing on a dirt road. The blazing heat of the sun is almost too much to bare on your skin and you can feel the prespiration begin to trickle down the sides of your face, your back, and your neck. To add to your discomfort, there are hundreds of people all around you and they are jumping up and down, singing words you don’t understand. Suddenly, in a frenzy, everyone begins throwing rainbows of dust; vibrant colors fill the air and you see only intense shades of the most radiant hues. You are confused and overwhelmed. Then, as if in a dream, it seems everyone is now dancing in slow motion. You can make out their expressions through the clouds of dust. They are truly alive; joyful! You look down at your clothes and they are unrecognizable, your hands are blurs of yellow, blue, and red. As you reach into your shirt pockets, hoping to find a cloth to wipe away the colors, it is then that you realize that somehow, they are full of dust. You did not know you had it, but there it is! You look again at the faces of the people around you; eyes shining, laughter filling the air. Suddenly you don’t notice the heat, the perspiration, the chaotic sounds around you. You only know that you have huge pockets full of the most beautiful dust. You dig deep and clench handfuls and as it falls through your grasping fingers you begin to throw it in every direction with all the energy you have. You can see the dust landing on smiling faces and you begin to smile. All at once, a rush of life fills you. There is no more confusion; everything is crystal clear. You are truly living and it is Scrumptious! The dust in your pockets seems to be an endless supply so you keep throwing it with excitement and joy.

My friend, you may not notice it at first, but if you will dig deep inside, you will find the fairy dust. We all have it.  At age 42, I am just discovering that my pockets are full of it! I finally found my fairy dust! Watch out world!

I challenge you, once you have realized YOU have a pocket full of it, with all the energy of your soul, throw fairy dust on everything you do, everyone you meet, every dream you have. Magic will happen.