Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Hold Up! Wait a Minute! Part II

My explorations and meditations towards fully embracing life bring me to new realizations everyday! I have listened to the universe (and my kids) and have begun to leave the phone on silent, in the car as much as I can. When I get home, I put my computer in the office and close the door for at least 2 hours. So the technology is out of sight and mind.

I soon however, discovered another brain!

How much time do we spend in the past and/or in the future instead of being "present"?

I have been a subscriber to Real Simple magazine for a couple of years now. Real Simple along with O magazine and Oprah's charge to "Live Your Best Life" are "presents" in my mailbox each month. ( and clutter in my bathroom, living room and nightstand, but that's another post).

Each, offers countless tips, tricks and "tried and true" ways to live a more fulfilling life. So I end up constantly thinking of ways to make things "better". Then, yesterday evening as I was trying to multi-task my evening away, attempting to "make things better for the next hour, day, week or infinity, I realized that one of my twins was earnestly trying to tell me something. Her mouth was poised in the most adorable contortion as she tried to make the words come out in some intelligible fashion. Her brow was furrowed and her hands were alive in the air, hopeful that the gestures would aid in my comprehension.

I realized in that moment, as I was mentally attempting to rectify all the past and future problems of my household and the world, that trying to figure out "What the hell she was trying to tell me was so much more important!" So I STOPPED. I stopped all thoughts, ideas, questions, worries from entering my brain at that moment simply by paying attention to only her.

It was a hilarious, full, enjoyable moment ( for me, because she clearly lost patience with my ignorant, non-toddler speaking self very quickly! Her hands were on her hips in exasperation. lol)

In that moment I realized how many moments might be passing me by. Moments of music, flowers, conversations with people I adore, smells, the breeze on my face, the feel of soft cotton or my tivoed Young and the Restless. These moments became shallow and fleeting, because I had not given them my full PRESENCE. Instead I had given them my partial presence, while I was busy pondering and/or planning something that had already happened or that was going to happen.

So I spent today, being present. Listening to the music that was on the radio. Listening to every note of the songs on my ipod. Feeling the chill in the air this morning as I bundled my brood into the car. Feeling my body sucked to the back of the seat of the plane as it took off today for business (yeah I had the shot of tequila, but I still focused on the moment! :) ). I absorbed every PRESENT moment. Peoples voices as I had conversations and the spare moments of silence. Breathing in and out. Each moment, I was present.

It feels so good! It is a free non-medicated, non-intoxicated relaxation technique. If you are being present, you can't be anything else. No matter what is going on, good, bad, in the middle, you relax. Not a little, but a lot, because there is only one thing in front of you.

So the universe sent me my toddler ,saying with a very serious face "PUPPIES GOOK! DORA FAVRIK PUPPIES! I FAVRIK PUPPIES. I PICK FAVRICK PUPPIES WIS DORA!!" Which simply means "Puppies are good. Dora has a favorite puppy. I have a favorite puppy. It is the same favorite puppy as Dora." Being present gave me "this present"!

Be present!

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Tag-I'm It!

Although like Mes Deux Cents (who tagged me) suggested, this feels like the blogger version of a chain letter, I like finding out quirky, random things about you all. So I am going to list 7 random and/or weird facts about myself. Then I will tag 7 other bloggers by telling them so in the comments of their blog. (Liz said I must explain and of course she is right!)

1. I have read and/or seen all of August Wilson's plays. - The first play I saw was Joe Turner's Come and Gone. When I learned he was going to chronicle black life(in particular for black males) for every decade of the 20th century, I became intrigued. I love purpose, patterns and plans!

2. I have to wash my feet before I get in the bed. - At the end of a long, hard day, I look forward to my wonderful, comfy bed and fresh sheets (if they aren't fresh, I change them immediately). I go barefoot all the time, howevergrubby feet and fresh sheets don't mix.

3. I say my prayers in the shower. It began as the only place that I was not interrupted by one of my adorable children. Now it is my little sanctuary , running water, the smell of is the perfect place.

4. When I am tired I chew the inside of my lip. - What can I say, my dad did it, and so did my big sister.

5. I graduated from the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising (FIDM) - Fashion Merchandising was my major. I thought that I wanted to be a Fashion Journalist. Once I started working in the industry I didn't like it at all. It seemed very singularly focused and people were definitely NOT the focus.

6. I MUST have a shot of Tequila before I get on a plane - post 911 I have been a petrified flier. I mean, cancelled vacations petrified. In the last two years, I have had to travel for work approximately twice a month. The first time, I got to the airport and almost turned around. Instead, I went to the bar, asked for a shot and it calmed me down enough to not be the worst nightmare of the entire plane.

7. I watch The Wizard of Oz and The Wiz once a year. - To see the Wicked Witch melt and Evaline get flushed down the huge toilet of course!

I too am bending the rules here, because I am only tagging 3 bloggers. Although I read several blogs, I think blogging etiquette says that I should only tag those people who I comment/respond to on a regular basis. Maybe others like Mes Deux will tag more than 7 to make up for my lack.

Mama Blah Blah
Sew Transformed
The Looney Bin: Outrageous but True

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Being Thankful!

I am sure that many of us will be posting our thanks on this day. This is a good thing. When we remember all that we have to be thankful for, it somehow makes most of our troubles seem much to miniscule to even acknowledge. These are in no particular order of importance. Just the way they come to me at 5 a.m.

1. My Beautiful,Healthy Children - They are amazing, full of life, honest, unconditional, resilient and brilliant. They put a smile on my face even when I think I can't find or manufacture one.

2. Wise and wonderful friends - It is wonderful to have people who love you, care about you and take care of you because they WANT to.

3. Wonderful Works of Art - Movies/plays, books/blogs, music, photography/painting, dancing etc. I am thankful to be able to enjoy, participate in and appreciate other peoples expressions of life, love and the pursuit of happiness.

4. Learning Opporutunities - Every circumstance, every situation, word, predicament is an opportunity to learn. I have been having many of these this year. Some of them challenging, heart wrenching moments that seem to SUCK initially. However, not one has been lost on me. I am soaking them up, letting them sink in and getting the lessons. (sometimes not fast enough for my friends, but getting them none the less.)

5. Family - My sister and mother are amazing, creative, warm and wonderful! My big sister and daddy are ever watching and with me.

6. Possibilities - Each day is full of them. Create and have what you desire. It is not a dream, something only for the "rich and famous" . The possibilities are endless for each of us.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

The New Dirty Dancing?!

Friday night was my son's 13th birthday party. I have finally recovered physically (kinda) from the preparation, long day, loud blaring music and clean-up. I have not mentally or emotionally recovered however from the degree of "chaperoning" necessary.

I have been teaching middle school for 14 years. I have had middle schoolers of my own now for 3 years. In May, my graduating 8th grade class had a Spring Farewell Dance. They got all dressed up and partied. The dance until you sweat kinda partying that I can relate to. There were a few hoochified moments where we had to separate a couple of curious pubescents that were attempting to get "their grind on" in the midst of the crowd. Again, I could relate. (I am really going to date myself here) I have very vivid memories of me, a pair of Jordache Jeans (that I poured my willowy, 15 year old body into), Daryl Taylor (a SO FINE, tall, dark and handsome guard on our schools basketball team) and a Peaches and Herb slow jam! Yes, the grind was on!

I can understand, acknowledge and accept the awkward developmental stage of the 12-16 year old crowd. Their blossoming sexuality, wonderings, questions, crushes, moodiness, and impatience with anyone over 18, are natural in this stage of development. As uncomfortable as it makes the adults, it is natural! We have all been there. If we are honest, thinking, responsible adults that have adolescents in our lives, we handle this stage with patience, and proactivity. We listen carefully, very carefully to their questions and conversations, so that the communication, messages and lessons are clear. We want them to be confident and comfortable( as comfortable as they can be) about who they are and what they are experiencing. We want them to have self-respect and to respect others. We want them to be knowledgable about what it means to make responsible choices for themselves in the 21st century. This process is waaaaay more complex than I am able to discuss in the few words of this blog.

What I didn't realize is that apparently it is too complex for parents to tell their 13-15 years olds that LAP DANCING is not an acceptable dance in middle school...or high school....or ANYWHERE unless it is the privacy of your home or your place of employment if you happen to be a "stripper"!

So you can imagine my SHOCK, to put it mildly, when several of the boys at the party proceeded to get chairs and move them to the center of the room. I was confused by this for a moment, until I watched, appalled, as several of the girls proceeded to "choose" their boys, turn around and "pop that booty" in their laps!

As Oprah's BFF, Gayle King would say, "Aw, HELL TO THE NAW!!!"

My good friend/co-chaperone, went to the DJ, got a mike and made the announcement " ANYONE who is participating in lap dancing will have their parents, grandparents, aunites, uncles, WHOMEVER is your caregiver, called to come and pick you up!" The most disappointing part of this was that after the announcement, half of the kids sat down. They didn't know what to do when we took "stripper dancing" off the table?!

Now as much as I take up for Beyonce, my mind immediately flashed to the Prime Time BET awards of a year or so ago, when Destiny's Child, IN PRIME TIME, pulled Magic Johnson, Terrence Howard and Nelly to the stage and proceeded to give them lap dances in front of God and the world. At the time, I thought it simply "entertaining" cause I love me some Beyonce and I love, love, love me some Terrence Howard. In retrospect, I think of my own children's television/computer/media exposure. All of the televisions in my house have a ratings lock on them. When they ask me to unlock them, I need to know what it is that they are trying to watch. Only after my approval do I unlock it. I keep a constant eye on the computer screens as well. But they were sitting watching the BET awards with me that night. And I honestly don't remember the conversation during the "lap dance" segment.

But you better believe early Saturday morning, we had a serious conversation about many things, self-respect, respect of others, and appropriate forms of dancing. They are CLEAR that lap dancing is NOT on that list.

Overall, I feel sad that this generation of children and teenagers have had their innocence robbed from them. The gratuitous sex, violence, and "reality" of the television and internet have left little to the imagination, little for them to be shocked by. But much to learn and/or unlearn about being self-respecting, thinking, responsible, productive young adults.

Although my father would have snatched me off of the dance floor had he been witness to my 3 minute "relatively" innocent slow grind with Daryl Taylor, he would have been amused and relieved that most of my time at parties and dances was spent working up a sweat doing the Cabbage Patch, Smurf, Roger Rabbit or Running Man (I'm dating myself again). When we left "the spot" we were laughing, sweaty and ready for Fat Burger because we had "GOTTEN OUR GROOVE ON", NOT gotten our "GROOVE' on!?!

One good thing about my Friday night experience is that I TEACH most of the students who were at my son's party . My lesson and discussions for the next 2 days before Thanksgiving are clear. Something along the lines of "comparing and contrasting" Middle School Students with Strippers/Men who get lap dances!

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Hold Up! Wait a Minute!

One day after work, a colleague pointed out one of the mothers picking her child up. She said " that lady is always on her cell phone." I watched her going in and coming out, and sure enough she walked into the building on the phone, she came out of the building on the phone and drove off on the phone, cute little girl in tow. Then for the next week I watched for this mother and everyday... every single day, she was on the phone when she pulled up and on the phone when she pulled off.

Another guy I work with had his computer crash a couple of weeks ago. You can imagine his face while in the middle of teaching it made that awful little "I'm Out" sound, and went black. He paced, lamented, pulled his hair. I wished him well and left for my weekend. On Monday, he had a new computer, but informed me that he and his toddler son, had the best weekend. "We played, chilled...I actually watched football without multi-tasking."

Before either of these occurrences, I had been considering my own "Blackberry-itis". That is the disease where some version of handheld/internet "world connection/life controller" is constantly attached to one or more parts of the body. I thought one day "what did I do before I had immediate access to all the people and information in CREATION, both pertinent and useless, 24/7?!!'

The answer, I concluded was that I paid attention and had patience.

I have noticed the impatient tapping of my hands and feet, when my texts are not replied to immediatly. I HIT the space bar with intolerance if a website takes longer than 10 seconds to load.

Technology is the blessing and curse of my existence. While it allows me to communicate, to numerous folks, seemingly all at the same time and give and get information in seconds, it also, pulls me into a sort of FAKE PRESENT TENSE. I am communicating with someone in "real time/the moment" but I am NOT "in the moment". Invariably, someone that is standing right in front of me and SHOULD have my attention, doesn't because of this sleek, sexy little distraction. In addition, when anything takes more than 15 seconds to respond to me, I become indignant! WHAT IS TAKING SO LONG?!

Some companies around the globe have begun to issue Fridays "No email Fridays". Can you imagine?! Well , yes I can. The folks in charge are having the same revelations that all of us are. Technology, as wonderful as it is, is not a substitute for human contact. God forbid we actually have a CONVERSATION with someone! So on Fridays, people have to actually TALK to one another. If there is a problem, a question, they have to walk 20 feet to the next cubicle and ask. E-meets, iphone meets, sidekick meets are NO-NO's on Fridays. Hallelujah!

Now, don't get me wrong. I love-love-looooovee, my little Blackberry piece of heaven! But I realized that, my 2 year old twins and "teenage wonders", want my FULL attention, when they are counting from 1-25 (they're geniuses) or telling me about the latest Volleyball Tournament/Drama class.

One of the talk show hosts on Oprah and Friends (XM radio) ended her show one day by saying, "and when you pick your kids up from school today, hang up your cell phone." Wow! I began to replay all the days that I spend in the car with my beautiful, articulate, funny children when I haven't enjoyed any of that, because I was on the phone, talking about something that could have surely waited. So from now on, while my beautiful bundles are in the car, my phone is on some type of "emergency only" notification. I mean, really, what was I doing before "immediate access"? I was waiting until I got home. I can do the same now. Can you?