Saturday, March 28, 2015

                      STAGE FRIGHT


      If you have ever had to stand up in front of a group of people, give a presentation at work, entertain people in some way, you may have experienced stage fright. It is a normal reaction to putting oneself out there. Before performing a rehearsal for my one-woman show in front of eight of my friends, I found myself with serious anxiety. Trying my usual techniques:  workout, meditate, read, distract the mind any way possible, I calmed down. The workout always works. It usually takes about 10 minutes of cardio for the butterflies to take wing. The meditation is still not working for me. I fall asleep. You are not supposed to fall asleep--duh. You are supposed to relax in an awakened state. Will continue striving to relax awake--not compatible with my type A personality. Reading helps distract the mind, but I fell asleep with that too. Hmm. I wasn’t tired, so maybe the adrenaline was taking a break. 

     I went about my morning (my performance was at 3:00 p.m. in my home), and found myself with still two hours before sit-down at the keyboard. The butterflies were returning. ugh. I thought to myself, “I wonder if other pianists have this problem.” So I went online and looked up “famous pianists with stage fright.” It was hilarious. I read that one contemporary performer, who is highly respected today, got so hysterical before performing with the orchestra that the conductor had to slap her across the face to get rid of her hysteria. My hero, Arthur Rubinstein would get so nervous, he was to have said, “My fingers are like spaghetti. I’m never doing this again.” Ashkenazy, a highly-respected conductor and concert pianist ostensibly jogs across the stage to the piano so he can calm his nerves. All this comforted me greatly.

     My piano coach told me that Glen Gould would record the same measure numerous times before allowing the recording guy to move on. Of course, Gould was quite eccentric, but  then, so am I. She also told me that one concert pianist made a mistake in his performance and shook his head back and forth, chiding himself, all the way to the end of the composition. Unbelievable! Yay, it’s not just me.

     Personally, I would rather stand on a stage and perform in front of 500 strangers than perform in a small room in front of a small group of my friends. Some people will say, like my father, “You won’t perform well if you’re not nervous.” Bull. That’s not true. I am much better relaxed. Just ask the walls.

Friday, March 27, 2015

     A Hospice Nurse reported people’s top five regrets. Many of the patients were older so that accounts for some of the reasons, but it is interesting to read what people say. When a person is close to death, there are no holds barred--no pride to maintain, no competition, no consequences to one’s statements. I have always been fascinated by such reports.

Here are the top five things people wish they had done or hadn’t:

  1. worked so hard (particularly mentioned by men who were away from family)

  1. had the courage to express feelings authentically (many people repress feelings to keep peace--often a female trait. Resentment and hostility can cause physical and emotional illness)

  1. stayed in touch with friends 

  1. let themselves be happier (not worried about unimportant things)

  1. lived their lives authentically instead of how others expected them to live

     If we ask ourselves the obvious questions about the above, it is interesting how we can lie to ourselves or rationalize our behavior based on our belief system. Sometimes as we get older, we find out our belief system was a big sham. This is not a fun discovery, trust me. Ask yourself, “How hard do I work?” “What price am I paying or will I pay, if I continue at this rate?” As a former workaholic, I can relate to all rationalizations. “I need the money,” “I need the identity,” I like the status,”My family deserves stuff.” As George Carlin ranted, we don’t need all the stuff we have--most of today’s stuff gets replaced by tomorrow’s stuff, and most of it is meaningless and wasteful. 

     Many women, particularly in my generation, were taught to be quiet and not create waves. We were told that nice girls don’t get angry or make noise. In my humble opinion, this helped create a generation of people pleasers. People pleasers are never happy, because they aim to please, often paying the price of no self-respect. Through the years, we all learn that there is a fine line between being a complainer, a nag, a naysayer, an arrogant you-know-what and a person who stands up for his or her beliefs and rights. 

     Staying in touch with friends is a personal choice. I happen to be one who values friendship, and I always seem to be the one who reaches out. Even though sometimes it hurts my pride because I seem to be the initiator, I have never been sorry to keep nurturing my valued friendships. As time goes on, those we thought deserved the “friend” label, really weren’t, so the ones who float up to the top are the treasured ones who deserve to be nurtured. I honestly believe that if we have two or three genuine friends, we are blessed. 
     Happiness is elusive. It can’t be bought, sold, rented, leased, hijacked or kidnapped. Happiness is the journey, not the destination. Many expect someone else to provide it. I know people who think “if I find the right companion, husband, boyfriend, then I’ll be happy.” Happy is not a 50% deal; it is 100%. Someone else cannot make us happy. Once we recognize that the happiness is a process, a path, a frame of mind, then we relax and it comes. I would rather have joy than happiness. Happiness is short-lived; joy  keeps on giving. Some people never find joy. I am not always happy, but I find joy in everyday places every day.

     The last one I found most fascinating. Many in my generation, especially women, were “programmed.” We were told what to study, where to study, how to find a man, how to keep a man, how many kids to have, what kind of lifestyle was appropriate and even how much money to earn. If you were not one of those women, consider yourself lucky. I was, and it took many years to “DEprogram myself,” and the job is still not done. 
Programming isn’t all bad, and usually it was conducted in the name of love. Unfortunately, the end product is not authentic. When a friend of mine in my forties told me I was like in the story, The Velveteen Rabbit, not authentic, I remember being very hurt. The sad thing was, he was right; I wasn’t. Being true to oneself seems so obvious and easy, but if you were “programmed” otherwise, it can be a lifelong process. In his book, The Four Agreements, Don Miguel Ruiz states,”Just being ourselves is the biggest fear of humans. We have learned to live our life trying to satisfy other people’s demands. We have learned to live by other people’s points of view because of the fear of not being accepted and of not being good enough for someone else.” Wow. That’s powerful. A good read, check it out. 

     I don’t claim to be an expert at anything other than trying to be the very best I can be without being someone I’m not. I’ve tried being someone I’m not, and that didn’t fit. Sometimes, I haven’t an effen clue who I am or why things come out of my pie hole, but it’s all a process, and when I’m sitting there staring at the Hospice nurse one day, I hope I say, “You know what, I’ve done the work, I’ve learned the lessons, and I am the best I could be, so I’m ready. I regret nothing.”

**The cyber devil changed my 1-5 to 1-1-1-1-1. Maybe he felt that all five were important. I've learned the hard way not to cross him, so I'm just leaving it alone:)


Thursday, March 26, 2015

                    Why I No Longer Hate Vanna White

     So many of us are quick to judge others, especially when the others are celebrities. Young girls compare themselves to beautiful movie stars, unfortunately believing that if they look like that when they grow up, they will be famous and successful. 

    Now I have never been a Wheel of Fortune fan, but the fact that I’m writing about VW reveals that I’ve watched it at least once. It comes on after the news that we watch every night, so we have to click intentionally to avoid seeing Vanna strut elegantly across the stage in her latest gown, her perfect smile lighting up the screen. She stands tall, gorgeous and 58, and to those of us at home who can’t see beyond the lights, she is stunning and ageless. wtf. Why doesn’t she have bags, bulges and need Botox like the rest of us? Yes, professional make-up artists and hair stylists can do a lot, but like it or not, she has a lot to work with.

     I did some research on Vanna, and guess what? Her road to fame has not been without tragedy. I wear stilettos, so I know how it feels to walk tall in your shoes, but I have not walked in Vanna’s shoes. I discovered that her father left the family when she was a small child. I found out that her fiancé was killed, and after marrying in 1990, she miscarried after she announced her pregnancy on television to the entire world. 

    Before we judge, we need to walk in the person’s shoes. “Beautiful” is not just external; “beautiful” is how we rise from the ashes of our negative experiences and quietly walk tall. 

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Sometimes the most poignant lessons come from our own children and families. This one really got to me. Carly is the grand-daughter of my ex-husband's sister's husband (would you believe?) No matter. The message is clear. 

One of the greatest gifts that my parents have given me is perspective. Trying to see something through a different lens. Trying to put myself in someone else's shoes. Always having a plan B.

As a parent myself I have found it difficult some days to lift my daughters' spirits when they are sad or upset. I try to default to my go to slogan of " There is always something going right". They look at me like I am crazy because in their tiny world "Everything is not awesome Mom".

I have many friends and family waging uphill battles against disease, depression, financial burdens, aging parents that need name it, as my Mom always says "We all have our pile, it's just how we manage it".
Well s--- shoveling is not always easy!!

This fresh perspective from my 27 year old cousin, Carly, serves as a fresh perspective for us all. 

Check yourself before you wreck yourself. Stand tall. Bend low. Fall down 7 times, stand up 8. Help where you can and ask for it when you need it. We are all as my friend Lava says " grinding for bogies"......

Sunday. A day of rest. Refocus your lens. 

The best is really yet to come❤️

Carly's story:

"It isn't the tumor that defines you, it's YOU and how YOU deal with the tumor that defines me. So the truth is, I don't know if I am going to make it through my school program. I don't know if I will be able to swallow or if I will lose my hair or if I will be able to have a baby. . . what I do know is that Nancy (the tumor) is just part of my life, and my life is pretty damned good, no tumor will ever change that. So for now, I will rock the never-ending needle pricks and constant unclear answers because God is good, and my future is bright."

Monday, March 23, 2015

     Did you ever think about how your life would be different if you had married one of the guys or girls of your past? I have too much time on my hands (between “Swiffing” and counting my vacation fund change--now totaling $3.49 with interest). This is what I’ve determined my life would be had I married my heart-throbs of the past:

First grade:  Brent S.  My kids would be tall and blond, and I would be bored silly.

Second Grade:  Gordon S. My kids would look like Mr. Peepers, and they would be rocket scientists, thus making me a very wealthy Mémé. 

Fourth Grade:  Max D. My kids would be arrogant and handsome, and I would be crying in my pillow while he was out carousing with whomever.

Eighth Grade:  Bill M.  My kids would be tall with very curly blond hair, and I’d be Catholic. I would have been crowned Queen early in the marriage.

Ninth Grade:  Dave S. My kids would look like movie stars, and I would be divorced.

Tenth Grade:  Larry M.  I would have laughed more but wondered why he left me and moved to San Francisco to sell antiques.

Eleventh Grade:  Glen D. I would have been very wealthy but widowed at an early age.

Senior Year:  Leo D. I would have been rich and poor several times with 12 kids. I would have been widowed way too young.


Greg G.  I would have laughed a lot but left him.

John S.  I would have been very rich.

The rest is private history (well, sort of).

     If I could take all the good qualities from each of the above, I would have a man who
is tall, nice looking, compassionate, talented, successful, kind, healthy, athletic, funny and who treats me like a Queen. omg--it’s Mr. Wonderful. Who knew?

Sunday, March 22, 2015

     OK, I admit it. I stole from my Vacation Fund. Yup, I did. It wasn’t that I wanted or intended to; it was just that I had to buy candied pecans for our salad. Candied pecans are a luxury, but so are vacations. It was an emotional decision: instant yum or future
fun. We sometimes chide our children for the “instant-gratification-syndrome” by which they live, and here we are, guilty ourselves. The sad news is that the vacation fund balance now stands at $3.48. Are there Ritz-Carlton coupons? Is there a Ritz-Carlton groupon?

     At the rate of savings now in place as per the recent “Fudge-It Budget,” I should be able to get the vacation fund up to its essential balance by Thursday, June 3, 2017. Unfortunately, that is only by sacrificing candied pecans for almost two years. I can do this.

     We were out with some wealthy friends recently. The husband told Mr. Wonderful that he had to give his ex-wife half of everything totaling $3.5 million dollars. Later in the conversation, he revealed that he cuts coupons. My ears perked up (how do ears perk anyway? I must Google this). I asked where he found his coupons, and he replied “everywhere.” He mentioned the Sunday newspaper, online, in the mail, etc. I thought to myself, “This guy is a millionaire, so he must be onto something.” I headed to all of these sources and came up with several coupons for pet food, chicken stock (is that on the Dow?), beef jerky, Depends and tire cleaner. Somehow this is not working for me.


Saturday, March 21, 2015

     Can you imagine posting a photo of your first-born online and having people criticize her for everyone to see? “She’s kind of homely, isn’t she?” “What’s wrong with her left ear?” “She’s bald!” “Why is one eye shut?” 

     How about posting a photo of your precious pet and reading the nasty comments people might make like, “Ugly little mutt!” “What’s wrong with his left nostril?” “His coat is all matted down.” 

    If your skin crawls imagining how you would feel reading such comments, then you can relate to how it feels to sell your home. It is the home you and your spouse designed together from the dirt up. You carefully crafted a floor plan different from anyone else’s, and you meticulously measured and planned every square foot of your dream home. Once opening the door for the first time and seeing the magic of the builder’s work, you never forget the birth of your shelter anymore than you would forget watching your child’s first steps or seeing your pet sit up for the first time. 

     So imagine how you would feel when total strangers whom you never see scrutinize your cherished handiwork and leave such comments as “Don’t like the living room,” “Don’t like the color of the third bathroom,” “This is too small for 18 people.” Are you effen kidding me? Just send me a photo of your kid and your pet. I dare you. 

     Selling your home is not for the feint of heart. We have friends who just had a contract on their home, and at the last minute, the people bailed. Does anyone have a clue what this feels like? Our friends want to move to be with their children as they are getting up in years, and it is hard for him to get around. So now, they are back to the drawing board after selling half their furniture to total strangers who invaded their privacy to sit on the cushions. This is absurd.

     There must be a better way. Maybe someone should start a business where they can just pick up your house and move it to the next location so no one has to endure this aggravation. I know there are such companies, but I’m talking about doing it for less than $100 + gas. Mr. Wonderful got gas just listening to this idea. 

     So you want to show our home at 11:47 p.m. on a Saturday night? Right. Come on over. I’ll have the nightcap ready. Can’t promise what I will put in it:)