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Education Inspiration

So, this happened.

You ever take a book from your bookshelves you’ve had for years and start to read it?  And guess what? It’s perfect for you at this time in your life.

Now I’ve had quite a year of at home inner adventures.  At one point, I decided to clean kondomari-esquely.  I know it’s not a word but the idea is, I decluttered A LOT.  Anybody familiar with the Marie Kondo books?  The bookshelves alone took weeks.  Amazon and I are close friends, and not just for books y’all.  My local librarians also know my face very well. Go public libraries!

I spent weeks sorting through my bookshelves looking to let go and inspire others.  I let go of the books I’ve read that I knew I wasn’t going to read again. Did they bring me joy?  Of course they did and it was time to share that joy with others.  I let go of books on my shelves that I thought I would read, but never did.  Can I just tell you, I don’t even remember those titles. You know how you collect titles.  Someone told me to read this person’s work.  Okay, I’ll get it.  Ooh, that looks interesting.  Buy it.  That NPR Story sounds amazing.  Got it!  I’m doing me, I want to know something.  I usually look for answers in a book first.  You can’t really learn dance moves in a book, but you get the idea. 

There those titles sat with their read and unread brethren…not being read.  It occurred to me to let them go.  Did I feel lighter after they were gone?  I sure did. Have I bought any new books?  Yes, but not nearly as many as before.  It’s worth repeating, not anywhere near the amount I’ve bought before. I filled the local lending libraries around my neighborhood. Here are a few.  Aren’t they cute?! They are sponsored by the local neighborhood organization.

 

I still have books on the shelves that I haven’t read yet.  I’ve kept the ones I sincerely think I’m going to get around to reading:-)  There are books I’ve read many many times and will continue to do so: The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho and The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz to name two.  I have books that have made me laugh and still do just thinking about them and yup, a bunch of reference stuff, you know, for reference, lots of books for classes I’ve taken and books for things I want to learn e.g. cooking in certain cultures and chess strategy. The plan is to live a good long life and get around to reading every one of them in perfect time.  Summer is a good time to pick up a book.  What are you reading?

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Break Time

I’m starting to believe we live our lives in chapters.  We are growing up in the early chapters.  We’re getting educated in others.  We are focused on relationships in others.  We’re having children and building careers in others.  Many of those things can occur at the same time, but at various times in our lives the focus is usually on one or two.  Some of the chapters can be quite boring, where we’re just coasting along, living each day as it comes, stuck in our routines, sometimes very happily so, and then a change comes to jostle you a bit or knock you completely off your feet: job changes, broken relationships, health issues, moves from one place to another.  They can feel like little deaths in a sense or maybe even actually so.

“All change, even the most longed for, have their melancholy; for what we leave behind us is a part of ourselves, we must die to one life before we can enter another.”

Anatole France.

 I like change, or so I tell myself. One day I have grape jelly, the next, strawberry.  Okay, that’s not really dramatic, and I really don’t have jelly that often anyway, so…  What I mean is that we get thrown for a loop sometimes.  There’s an earthquake under your feet but not under anybody else’s.   Your tectonic plates are shifting but when you look across the street, everything seems to be just as it was.  What happened?  You may be even screaming in your head.  WHAT HAPPENED?  No answers come, not yet anyway.    Maybe never.  I am constantly amazed at how life continues even when I decide to take a break from it, let’s say by having a relaxing weekend indoors(staycation anybody?), a spa day, a week away, or a year…

Everybody’s journey is different. Vive la difference!  Some travel fast through life, now is the only option, and others take a much slower pace, tortoise and hare, hare and tortoise.  There’s a middle road for a lot of people too. Life ebbs and flows.  Your timing is your timing.  Everyone has to travel at their own pace. How about you? What’s your speed? What chapter are you on?

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What does it mean to be a woman?

This is not a question I would have asked of myself, but someone asked it of me and I was intrigued, so I answered.  What does it mean to be a woman?  

Eve.  Cleopatra.  Jezebel.  Mary of Magdalene.  A mother.  Iconic Women.  It seems like such a big question to answer.  Does she have kids?  If she wants to have them.  Is she married?  If she chooses to be, or not.  Is she loved?  Let’s hope so.  It’s not just about biology.  XY chromosomes.  Check.  Is that what makes a woman?  A certain age?  You decide.  Hint: It’s not fifteen.  The question I think was meant as “woman” as opposed to “man,” but I also thought of it as “woman” as opposed to “child.” 

I’ve finally reached that age in life where I can’t think of myself any other way, whether I like it or not.  Woman, not child, certainly not man.  Experienced, someone whose seen ups and downs in life and has faced both.  I’d love to say, fearless, but that wouldn’t be true.  Afraid sometimes, but a woman walks forward anyway.  Perhaps a sense of confidence that whatever she faces can be looked at, confronted, examined, and taken care of.

A woman has fallen but she gets up.  She cares for herself and others.  There are times when both are necessary, and maybe not at the same time.  A woman has a tribe, a tribe of other woman, and men, and children who adore her, who respect her, who honor her, and who want to see her succeed.  A tribe who will stand with her when she falls, and reaches out a hand to help her up, a tribe who will hold her up when need be. 

A woman has been hurt, has been broken, has been happy, and angry.  A woman walks her own path to success, even though sometimes the path is lonely, maybe especially when the path is lonely.  Yes, she knows how to ask for help. If you say, “I am a woman.” You have to own that power.  It’s not for the faint of heart.  That’s warrior talk.  A warrior, a woman isn’t always loud.  Sometimes the strongest ones are the quietest.  Shhh.  Listen.  She’s there.  

A woman loves.  She is loved.

What does it mean to you?

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Blueberries

Blueberries.  Blue.  Berries.  

Can you see them?

I know.  Me too!

Makes you want to snack on some, right now, doesn’t it?

That color…blueberry.

It’s safe.

It’s rich. 

It hugs me.

It’s home.

Feeling loved with my blueberry pie.

Can you smell it?

I know.  Me too.

Welcome home.

Blueberries.  Boysenberries. Strawberries.  Raspberries.

What’s a boysenberry to my tastebuds anyway?

Home baked goodness.

Feeling loved with my strawberry pie.

Mmmm.

Delicious.

Welcome home.

Raspberry fingers.  Stains all over my white shirt.

It happens every summer.

Feels like home.

Light breezes blowing red and white tablecloths on the picnic tables.

Summer sun.

Picnics

Sticky fingers.

Naps.

Oh, yes.  Naps.

Feels  like home.

 Lazy summer afternoons.

Welcome home.

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Invisible

Invisible beings.

They walk among us.

They laugh.  They cry.

Unseen.

Unheard. 

Unnoticed.

Yearning to be loved.

To be touched.  Noticed.

What’s that like? 

Feeling.

Connected.

Ghosts from another time.

Lives from long ago.

Forgotten.

Can you hear me?  Can you see me? 

Do you know I’m here?

Roaming.

Searching.

Reaching.  Loving.

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Loving

Cradling. Cuddling.

Caressing his back.

Loving him gently.

Two heart beats.

One calming the other.

Daddy loves you.

Mommy loves you.

Shhh.

Sometimes love is so quiet.

Two people sitting together in silence.

Knowing each other.

Loving each other…

Quietly.

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Healing

Broken souls.

Broken bones.

Broken spirits.

Picked up.  Carefully being put back together.

Crazy glue.  Liquid cement.  No duct tape.

Talk.

Cry.

Release.

Learn.  Grow. Share.

The plant thrives.

Flowers bloom.

What is lost…is found.

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My First Ramadan…lite.

My First Ramadan:
Okay,  sort of but not really.   So, I see my neighbors putting boxes and boxes of dates in their cars, and I’m like, “what’s up?” and she’s all, “it’s for Ramadan,” and I’m all “oh, okay,” and then I’m like “okay bye.” and she’s all “bye.”  The hubs doesn’t do a whole lot of talking.
  So, that was like two or three days ago right.  So, today I have to go up and tell her not to use her kitchen sink until the plumber comes, and before I leave she like hands me some dates and she’s all,  “they’re for Ramadan.”
And I’m all “okay,  thanks.” (Squishy face) because I still don’t know what they signify.
Hmm. Google and Siri here I come. Now I know, so I’m sharing.
  “Dates are a staple fruit of the Middle East having been in cultivation for thousands of years. Traditionally, dates are known as the food Muhammad ate when he broke from his fast.”   That’s according to About.com.
That’s cool right? !  I know!  Anywho.  The medical reason for it is because dates contain many nutrients the body can absorb really quickly after fasting from sunrise to sunset.  You’ve just spent the whole day not eating so you don’t want to get sick by eating something too fatty and lacking in vital nutrients.  So not only are you emulating Mohammad but you’re protecting your health as well.  Nice.
  Technically , I broke my four hour fast, fast-lite, with some Indian food today.   That’s how we socalians do it:-) but it didn’t stop me from appreciating my new shared experience with my neighbor.
  Goodness knows after Sunday’s hatred in Orlando, we need to spread inclusion and togetherness as much as we can.  We, after all, are all one.
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Letter to My Sixteen Year Old Self

I just read a book in which a variety of people, some very well known and some not so well known, wrote a letter to their sixteen year old selves.  I thought it was a great idea.  Of course the first thing you would do is to tell yourself to tell your parents to buy shares in a company called Apple and a company called Google.  It’s computer and technology stuff. Don’t laugh at the names, or laugh if you want, just make sure to buy the shares.  You will thank me later. After that, the door is wide open.

It is fact that under the best of circumstances, sixteen is a very awkward year for most people.  Hormones are raging.  High school is happening and it is also about the time  you are submitting applications for college and taking what seems like a bazillion tests. Add to that,  you are discovering who you are as an individual for the first time.  That’s not awkward at all.  Many are dealing with situations beyond that that can be extremely taxing.

I still regard sixteen as one of the most difficult years of my life, even after every thing I’ve experienced in this world up to this point.  My mother’s cancer returned and I and my nuclear family had to give up our beautiful home and the majority of our belongings to go and live with my maternal grandmother.  If there is one thing you need to know at this point, it is that she hated(haaaated) me.  She always did, and I was about to move into the lion’s den.

I am eternally grateful to my sixteen year old self and I marvel to this day at the fact that I survived that year.  So, here’s a picture of sixteen year old me and my letter to my sixteen year old self.FullSizeRender

Dear DJ(yup, that’s what I was called back then),

The core of the person that you are now is the person that you will always be and that’s a good thing.  Integrity and character are your cornerstones , but not everybody shares those qualities,  so trust your instincts as you always have.  They are spot on every time.   

These are some things that you already know.  This is just a reminder to never forget them:

1) The world is a very large place with a wide variety of people in it.  It is great fun learning all about it.   

2) You are a fighter.  You are a survivor.  Learn to thrive.

3) Trust your gut because some people are users, knowingly and not, and they do not always have your best interest at heart.  Do not give them second or third chances.  Trust me it’s a waste of time.    

4) You are not alone.

5) Being yourself is the best thing you can be.

Learn quickly that there is beauty in gentleness and there is nothing wrong with being different, in fact it’s a strength.  And for goodness sake learn to meditate.  It’s miraculous…and don’t forget to tell your parents to buy those shares.  

P.S. I think you owe your Spanish teacher fifty cents, not because you took the candy bar, but because the candy bars were your responsibility, and yes of course we know now who did take it.

With great love and great respect,

Danya

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Expanding Your Horizons

Are you doing that end of year, New Year reminiscing thing?  I am, but this time I’m going way back.  I’m thinking about defining moments that happened when I was seven and eight and twelve.  It was a whole bathing suit thing.  I’ll tell you about it later. Sometimes you have to look back to move forward, to expand your horizons.

What do pink tutus and purple galoshes have in common or argyle socks and camouflage pants for that matter?  For you GQers that second one is totally a look trust me.  A child wouldn’t hesitate to wear those items together.  Adults not so much.  It’s about freedom of expression, expanding your ideas of what it means to be dressed appropriately or in fashion.  It’s about adding to our repertoire of ideas of who we are and what we want to be.    

Remember that apartment that you lived in that was a total dump or that roommate you had who probably would have made it to someone’s psychological watch list.  It was an interesting time.  It even makes for a great story at a party but you don’t want to repeat the experience, just the story.  Things change.  Life’s circumstances change and yet we tend to do the same things day in and day out.  Some people grow older but they might not ever grow.

Back then life was an adventure.  There was always something to look forward to, a new home, a new car, a better job.  We weren’t worried about settling into a comfortable life because there were too many things that we wanted to do, things that needed changing. 

I used to get in trouble for coloring outside the lines and for coloring at perpendicular angles on the same object.  I would start coloring up and down and then I would get tired of coloring in that direction so I would turn the picture to the side and color in a different direction on the same object.  Ms. Johnson, yes I still remember her name, didn’t appreciate my artistic sensibilities.  My pictures were still awesome, at least to me anyway.  I respected my temperament.  I allowed my third grade self to be fully me.  I didn’t know there was any other way.  Allow your adult self to be fully you.  Remember what it’s like to not know any other way. Explore your inner landscape. 

FullSizeRender  Do you want to try something new?  Something different?  Something more, or maybe even something less?  Could be an opportunity for black velvet pants and cowboy boots, just sayin.’  Now is not the time to be afraid of being something nobody else has seen. 

  As adults we get conditioned to blend in and not stand out. Everybody has heard the phrase, “don’t upset the apple cart.” We get conditioned to settle into sameness.  Feel free to paint the bathroom walls red. Color outside the lines in whatever direction you choose

To quote George Lucas, you know that guy who made that movie.  I can’t quite think of the name of it right now.

    “Don’t listen to your peers.  Don’t listen to your parents.  Only listen to yourself. That’s where you’ll find your truth.”

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