Take The Long Way Home

Don’t you just love when you start out facing north and when you look up it’s really west?

I wrote a blog earlier today — something about BoHo and gypsy and wrapping my wardrobe around that feeling. Blah blah and I don’t remember exactly where that was going, because I rode home from work tonight with the windows open, the fields shimmering with yellow soybean leaves and stalks of corn turning crisply brown, their tassels dancing in the evening breeze, Elton John rocking at full blast on the radio, my thin, flat reddish-brown hair flying helter skelter in the wind, thinking about my evening ritual of playing fetch with my dogs, then a bit of dinner, a bit of cleaning, a bit of TV, then digging into a good book.

Wherever I was going with my previous story, whatever wrappings I thought I needed to be who I was, whatever depressing thoughts tried to bloom from a day of data entry, whatever politics played out during the four cement walls of my workplace,  whatever aches and pains follow me day in and day out, none of that mattered. None of that matters.

Life is good. Love, in whatever form you find it, is good. It’s here and it’s now and it’s all you’ve got. Damn the job and the family members that don’t get you and the pounds you want to lose. Open those windows. Crank up the radio. Sing at the top of your lungs.

Take the long way home….

Does it feel that you life’s become a catastrophe?
Oh, it has to be for you to grow, boy.
When you look through the years and see what you could
have been oh, what might have been,
if you’d had more time.
So, when the day comes to settle down,
Who’s to blame if you’re not around?
You took the long way home
You took the long way home
Supertramp…Take the Long Way Home

 

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Inspiration Is All Around You

It’s funny to find myself writing a blog on a Sunday morning. I mean, we all should be sleeping in or going to church or going on a bike ride. I have plans for later but for now I have what everyone looks for on a Sunday Morning — inspiration.

Inspiration is all around you.

Having had a crappy end of the week and too much to drink Friday night (I don’t drink so it didn’t take much) and the body hangover of a 64-year-old, it’s easy to be cranky and crabby on this cool morning. But over the weekend I came across two people that truly inspired me to be a better person.

To be a better me.

My first inspriation was my 16-year-old niece. Always on the chubby side, I worried about her. Things may have changed in high school since I went 150 years ago, but teens are still teens, and it’s still easy to make fun of someone who looks different. Being made fun of in junior high, I looked at her through my own insecurities.

Yesterday at a family party I saw the girl again, and she had changed. She was still the smart, funny adolescent girl I’ve come to love, but she was 30 pounds lighter.

I almost didn’t recognize her.

Being a granny-aunt, I feared she did something really drastic. I probably would have. But she is smarter and more grown up than I. More salads, less treats, lots of water. She told me all about it.

And I am so proud of her.

My second inspiration is my sister-in-law. We lost my brother a few years ago, a heartbreaking experience. Not a day goes by where I don’t miss him. His wife took it as well as she could. We all move on, she along with her two awesome kids.

I saw a pic of her and her family on FB this morning, and it looked like she dropped a ton of weight. A ton. She looked like a totally different person. I haven’t asked her yet how she did it, but whatever she did had added 30 years back onto her face. I see my brother in her children’s eyes, and I see a content person in hers.

And I am so proud of her.

My son is another one. He used to be a skinny in track and field in high school. 10 years of marriage and two kids later, he was thicker than he wanted to be. It was as if a lightbulb went off in his head and he turned to healthy eating. 25 pounds later he’s in the gym all the time, an inspiration to me and his kids as well.

I have been on a weight thing myself since January. I have lost a bit of weight, but because I always wear big clothes I don’t think people can tell. It doesn’t matter. I eat healthier now. I walk more, I’m not really into junk food. I eat what I want but I eat one or two bites, not one or two portions. We all work on weight loss our own way. I know my niece did, I know my sister-in-law did.

We all want to live longer. We want to be inspired. We want to be around for our grandkids and our friend’s grandkids. We want to live and love and be able to walk up the stairs without our chests hurting.

Find inspiration in your life. Let it touch your own heart. Whether it’s to lose weight to be healthier or to start writing the novel you’ve always had in your heart, look around you. There is plenty of inspiration around you. Take that first step.

Trust me. You won’t fall. Keep walking. Be your OWN inspiration.

My Hero — My Heroine — My Characters

Every story has a main character or two. A villain, a hero, a heroine. Good guys, bad guys, and gals. Even your short stories have girls and guys in various stages of love, hate, and madness. You have every nuance of their character figured out — their personality, their hair, their habits.

All of our characters are based on people we know: characters in movies, old paramours, cousins, those who have done us harm. Our characters — good and evil — all come from somewhere inside of us.

So tell me — who are your characters based on? How many famous people resemble your purely self-created stars? Sometimes I have exactly someone in mind. Other times, I find a weird resemblance to someone I’ve come across in my life.

My first novel. Heroine — some version of  me. But not visually. Characters based on some weird, maniacal version of me always are the hardest to visualize. The closest match is kinda like Susan Sarandon but 30 pounds heavier. In her mid-40s. The hero — he’s got to have dark hair and dark eyes, and a slight rough beard. Maybe Doctor Connor Rhodes from Chicago Med. Just the right amount of fuzz on the chin. The matriarch — definitely Maggie Smith. And the pompous ass son — Frank Kennedy from Gone With the Wind. Second novel –same main characters. Add a doctor — Michael Douglas with beard and glasses, and a snotty girlfriend — the latest Carol Markus of Star Trek — and you’ve got some attitude.

Second set of novels — heroine — again, some wacky, astral version of myself. This time with shorter red hair in the first novel and spikey purple hair in the second. I did see a pic of Susan Sarandon with both the red hair and glasses, so she’ll do. The hero — more of Derek Jacobi in Gladiator. The king, definitely Aragon from Lord of the Rings. Consul Tresarrio — definitely Jafar from Aladdin, and Consul Corvenius — Ian Holm, Father Vito Cornelius from the Fifth Element.

There you go. Barred my soul, gave away my secrets.

There’s not always an identifiable face in your stories, but there’s nothing wrong with it, either. Gives you something to focus on, if only briefly. The characters then take over, flowering and winding their vines into their own version of reality.

I’d love to hear if any of your characters resemble anyone real or pretend. It doesn’t matter if you’re published or if you write poetry or haikus — I’d just love to hear your interpretation of your people.

Tell me Tell me Tell me! Do you have a Rhett or an Angelina in your world?

 

Balancing the Best of Both Worlds

56179-cat-on-keyboard-typing-gif-hi43I’ve come to crossroads in my life. A strange, positive, yet confusing, conundrum.

I believe I told you I suffer from “be careful what you wish for” syndrome. All my life I’ve been a writer, but never for money. Never for a living. It’s always been mountains of stories, poetry, and rhymes, along with lists, ideas, and doodles.

But lately at work I’ve been doing a lot of writing. And, if things work out, I’ll be doing a lot more. I am enjoying the pace, the pressure, and the chance to see if I have what it takes to be a full-time writer.

One thing I notice, though, is that by the time I get home, the last thing I want to do is be creative. I’m pretty well cashed for the night.

And that upsets me.

I have always had a laundry list of things I want to write, to edit, to play with. There is no cork on imagination. But spending 9 hours a day in front of a computer, most of the time bringing life to everyday words, makes for one mentally drained oldie-but-goodie boho chick. By the time I have dinner, do the dishes, and sit down in front of my own laptop, I find myself suffering from brain freeze. It’s like my thoughts are somewhere behind this lovely burled oak door with a leaded glass window that reveals gorgeous vistas, but the door is stuck closed.

This will not do.

I am a writer. A make-up-story kinda gal. I love to write about spirits and middle aged women and time travel and elves and occasional sex. The more creative the better.

But I also have dreamed about writing for a living. Something that, for me, comes easily. Having had grammar and structure and style as my bedfellows for like ever, the prospect of writing full-time is a chance I want to take. Even if I don’t make it, I have to take that chance.

For a long time my husband has been telling me to cut back on computer time. I spend all day in front of that dull light, squinting and studying and reading two computer screens. Then I come home and squint and study and read one laptop screen. I suffer from headaches, and all this extra squint time doesn’t help. So cutting back on the night time does makes sense.

But I still don’t like it.

How do you balance the two worlds? Especially if both of your worlds are places you enjoy being?

It’s not all disastrous — it’s actually a pleasant conundrum. This conflict is forcing me to schedule my time better — writing time is scheduled just like doing the laundry or paying bills.

But I tell you now — it won’t be as much fun.

Impulse and Inspiration

20161113_164639Impulse and Inspiration. Two different words.  Creative people miss a lot of creative moments because we don’t connect the two.

Creative people — in this case, writers — come across possible story lines all the time. The shopping mall, a city alley, butterflies on a flower, all are possible props for poetry or short stories or even novels. But just because they are possible props doesn’t mean they are probable props.

And that’s where inspiration and impulse comes in.

Impulsive thoughts hit you all the time. It’s like directly channeling spirits and stories and hot spots right when they come through you. It’s following through on an instinct, a desire that hits you out of nowhere. It’s the knowing that this is what you want to paint. To write. To sculpt.

Inspiration is taking that impulse and creating something from it. Fine tuning it.  Letting your mind and heart wrap around it until a truly unique creation emerges.

I drive the back roads to work every day through quiet farm country.  The road makes three 90 degree turns before hitting the main highway. Before making the last left turn, the road points towards a full cornfield with woods behind it. One year there were a few missing rows that acted like a pointer to a dark shadowed spot of the back woods.  I was hit by the impulse to write a story about where that “road” led. I’m so glad I let that view inspire me. Two novels came from that impulse. And the view is no more.

I’ve also written short stories about an abandoned patch of land where a house once stood, and of getting caught in a never-ending maze of 90 degree turns.The inspiration for these stories came from the impulse of a moment: an empty piece of land, driving home through fog and mist. Looking over a different cornfield at a tall building way in the distance (I must have a thing for cornfields), I was hit with the idea of walking through the corn, coming out the other end in a totally different world. I didn’t stand there, daydreaming about what I could write about what was before me — it just hit me.

You can’t always know when inspiration — impulse — will hit. It’s funny how we all sit on the beach watching the water hit the shore, or find a fallen tree in the woods and plop ourselves down on it, or sit and listen to a symphony, hoping to get inspired. We force the inspiration, rather than let it come to us. What we are lacking is the impulse. The lightning strike. The inner knowledge that this is what you were waiting for.

What I’m saying is that when the impulse hits you, act upon it. You see something that stands apart from the rest of the world, note it. Develop it. Sketch it. Plant that seed of creativity and let it grow. Those are the stories you will remember. Those are the stories you will enjoy writing.

Now — I wonder what kind of cornfields lie west of here….

 

 

 

Roots vs. Vines

newplantThere are books upon books written about men brains vs female brains. How they are wired, how they work. How they process. This is not a blog to debate the validity of such — I am mere more to prove that such assumptions are more or less true.

I was talking to a friend yesterday about creativity. I suggested her boyfriend (a really talented graphic artist) start a website or blog with his art and photography. Show off his work. He joined our conversation, and said he shows his work off on Facebook. To his friends. He said setting up and keeping a site going was too much like work.

I was fine with that. But I had to laugh. Because that’s all I seem to think about. Not just the webpage part — the writing/art/decorating/creative part.

It was like earlier today I called home. Hubby was putting up new pantry and laundry room doors. Very sharp. Very nice. After 15 years of dogs and kids and cats and abuse it is nice to finally start remodeling my house. I started talking about a new wine rack and hanging a new picture I found and maybe a rug under the table and cleaning out the buffet and giving most of the glasses to Good Will and there was nothing but silence on the other end of the phone. I waited for a reaction and could have filed my nails within the time gap.

When we resumed the conversation my hubby said he hadn’t thought of all that. That some of those things weren’t on his top 10 list of things to do. He was back on the door-thing and the sanding-the ceiling-in-the-bedroom thing. The mowing-the-lawn-thing tomorrow. He was nowhere in the creative atmosphere of the decorating-thing or the making-the-dining-room-feel-like-an-Italian-veranda-thing. My mind was twisting and twirling up the wall like a runaway vine while his was forming strong, sturdy roots in the ground.

I don’t know if my creative tendencies are a good thing or a bad thing. Or if they are a “thing” at all. I know we all have a creative streak in us, but some are able to keep it in perspective. Most times I behave myself, but other times I’m off and running without a thought as to time or materials or the end result.

It’s like I finally know what I want and I don’t want to be talked out of it. My Sunday Evening Art blog, my middle-age madness blog, my writing female fantasy fiction time travel novels, all may seem runaway madness to some, but they are life affirming to me. Every time I get creative it’s like reaching up to the sun and getting high on Vitamin D.

I know that that’s just where I am in life right now. Other friends of mine are in the whenever-its-convenient time. Or after-I-take-care-of-other-things time. I’ve been through those phases too. I’ve been responsible all my life. Raising kids, working, making ends meet. I’ve not always had the time to hang with my Creative Muse.

But now I make time. And the pigheaded person in me wonders why everyone else doesn’t make time, too. When my piggy feet touch the ground again, I realize that everybody IS making time in their own way. Not everyone needs a website or needs to get published in order to let their creativity soar. Some do it by just doing it. Period.

But as for me — I am having fun with the pick-out-paint-to-edge-the-new-rug thing and the heroine-travels-through-the-veil-to-another-world thing.

Why not?

 

Off To See the Wizard (of Biltmore)

6d3fa623e931a5471085ff1a8f7651afSagittarius personality traits

Sagittarius is a fun and exciting sign. The explorer and philosopher of the zodiac, they are typically interested in new experiences, new knowledge and new places.

As it is written, so it shall be.

This weekend I am taking an adventure I’ve not taken before. I am meeting my creative, crazy fun friend in the artsy city of Asheville, North Carolina — home of the Biltmore Estate.

No husband. No kids. No grandkids. No dogs. No cats. Just temporarily, you know.

Already I’m happy.

It has taken me 63 years to be able to go off and take a trip through the creative world with my bestie by my side. I can finally submerge myself in art of all kinds — painting, sculpture, jewelry, textiles. Something my hubby could not (in truthful conscience) enjoy.

It has taken me 63 years to get to this wide-eyed amazement point in my life. 40 years ago I was working downtown Chicago, too busy trying to make my way in the business world. 30 years ago I was busy being a newlywed and first-time mom, losing my downtown job and looking for a part-time one so I could be home with my son. 20 years ago I was busing being a full-time mom, trying to my hand at running a B&B while being a full-time soccer mom and baseball mom.  10 years ago I was busy working full-time again, trying to run from bankruptcy and dealing with one son’s college years and the other son’s high school years.

There wasn’t time for unique art galleries or writing blogs or going to live concerts. Guess I was just busy living.

But now the kids are working and raising their own kids and bankruptcy is nothing more than a bad dream as is the B&B experiment. Now is the time for me to reconnect to who I’ve always been. I’ve always been a painter, a writer, a stenciller. I have always had a love affair with the creative side of the world. From faeries to role-playing, from making my own jewelery to writing poetry. I’ve stuffed it into pockets of time and under the leaves on the wooded paths I’ve walked and in the drawers of dressing tables.

Now it’s my turn to play.

Now I get to discover and explore and dream and live the Bohemian life of an artist with someone who is as Bohemian as I am.

If only for 4 days.

I get to meet all kinds of people, people who heard the calling of the Art Muse and did something about it. I don’t need to live the dream to be a part of it.

If only for 4 days.

Make a point to take a side trip out of your reality too, now and then. It’s good for the soul. It’s good for the heart. It’s good for manifesting your creative future.

And it’s damn good for your friendship, too.

 

 

 

Fuzz Brain

thDo you ever have days where you feel…fuzzy?

Not cuddle fuzzy, not peach navel fuzzy, but cotton-candy-in-the-head fuzzy.

I suppose it’s best to count out major contributors, or at least fit them into the symphony’s score. Medication. check. A little, not much. Sleep. A little, not much. Stress. Much, not a little. Sugar. Cut way back. Alcohol. None. Smoking. Never. Other recreants. Not for 40 years. Blood Pressure. Surprisingly normal. Blood Sugar. Low as well. Cholesterol. Working on it.

So all second tier maladies accounted for. First tier…cancer, leukemia, dementia. All being watched.

So why the fuzzies?

I used to think that when I couldn’t quite focus it was because messages and stories were coming through from astral places. Not like direct alien vibrations, but, you know — inspiration from beyond. No matter what your belief system, there’s always someone from the beyond sending you positive vibes –Grandma, Jesus, Shakespeare. You can’t rationalize it — it just is.

So when the fuzzies used to come I had a hard time focusing on anything constructive. Like work. Or responsibilities. It’s like the fuzzies opened a hole to another dimension. One where logic is more like paper chains hung in the trees…pretty, but not practical.

It’s hard to think when your mind is full of cotton candy. You look one direction…it’s niiice. You turn around…it’s niiice. You look up in the sky, it’s…well, you get it. It’s like being high without drugs, religion, or the Patronus Charm.

During these  lost and found fuzzies inspiration is there for the taking. If you have the energy to take it. What I mean by that is that there are no rules in the fuzzies. Every design, every plot, every daydream has merit. Fireflies become faeries. High school teachers become drug dealers. The rosey pink of sunset becomes the daytime sky of an alien world.

I’ m not saying you can create the next Rembrandt masterpiece or write the Great American Novel while fuzzy. But when inspiration eludes you, there can be redemption in the clouds.

For example.

Tonight I was in the funky fuzzies. Spent 2 hours going through the same 6 folders looking for a piece of paper I knew I’d seen in one of them earlier this evening. I mean this is a big duh. How can you not find what you just saw? Fuzzies. After hours of curling one piece of paper after the other, I finally found what I was looking for in the folder with the receipts jammed into it.

So crabby as well as fuzzy, I posted such on Facebook. As I perused the mental states of all my friends, I came across a post about gorgeous blingy gladiator up-the-calf sparkle shoes. And I thought…Sunday Evening Art Blog! How cosmic was that?

Of course, cosmic can always be equated with chance, luck, calculation, physics, or a dozen other flow charts. The point is that even when you are wandering through the Cotton Candy Fuzzies you can get input for your creativity. Just pay attention. Know inspiration can drop in at any time and be ready to take note. Write it down, bookmark it, write it on your arm in eye liner. Just keep the message and come back when the fog has lifted.

The test, of course, is not to bring the Fuzzies into work tomorrow. If I’m not careful my whimsical nothingness will get lost in the stacks of data I’ve yet to enter.

Talk about the bottomless well…

 

Get Your Exotic On!

15 - 1Saw this picture on Google+ the other day, and it made me wonder — what’s your exotic?

Most of us are closet voyeurs at best. A peek here, a daydream there. Then back to work/family/football games, content with regular sunrises and sunsets and football fantasy pools.

But you know that somewhere deep inside you’ve got an exotic idea. An exotic dream. An exotic fantasy.

And most likely it will never see the light of day.

But I wonder — are exotics different when you’re younger?

I used to think it would be awesome to be dropped into the middle of Japan or China and find my way out. Oriental worlds are as foreign to me as the canals on Mars, so I thought getting a real fix on a world where their language is nothing but mixed up sticks would be quite exotic. The trip never materialized, but my curiosity continued.

I am the same person at 62 than I was at 22. And 42. But my idea of exotic has changed through the years. Octopus was high on the list, as was caviar and croissants. Now days, ate that, done that, so exotic has to be a little more … risky. Makeup? Nails? My fascination of those exotics have led to two SEAG blogs (Nails:  http://wp.me/s1pIBL-nails, and Tal Peleg, http://wp.me/p1pIBL-19M). How can you not love that devil-may-care look?

My dreams and my pocketbook are miles apart, but that hasn’t stopped me from dreaming about the exotic. How about a weird, wild Ferrari 599 GTB to drive? A vacation to South Island, New Zealand or Tasmania, Australia? I looked up “exotic” in relation to clothes, and too many kinky selections popped up, so I will settle for BoHo for now. How about exotic flowers? I found a great website (http://www.psdeluxe.com/articles/photography/beautiful-exotic-flowers-pictures/) that blew my mind. Exotic for real.

Food is an easy slide into the world of Exotic. Spices like Grains of Paradise (also known as Melegueta pepper) from Western Africa or Furikake Wasabi from Japan.  How about pho from Vietnam or  pambazos from Mexico  or Tim Tam from Australia?  Our own American cuisine can be exotic, too, with turtle soup, grits, deep fried Coke, and alligator fritters. Who knew?

One cannot get hung up on words (unless you’re a writer). You have to explore words that dance on your dreams, words that make you say “Oh!” and “Wow!” and “Really?” It doesn’t matter if your version of a word is different than the next person’s. Who cares? Life is for us to explore. To dream about. To play with.

Exotic is just one of those play words. Like Unique. Adventurous. Surreal. Luscious. Savory. Words that make us want to explore more of what’s around us. To open our minds, our palates, our creative space.

What is your definition of exotic, anyway? Do you have fun with the word? With the imagery? Do you let yourself check out the extraordinary? The unique? The far away?

I like the word “exotic”. It makes me think of Mediterranean edibles and temples in Japan and punjambi’s in India. The exploration of words and worlds makes me feel like a kid again.

And there’s nothing wrong with that…

 

Why I Write

man writing a contract

I write to tell my story

I write to share your story

I write to entertain

I write to be entertained

I write to escape this reality

I write to capture this reality

I write to make you smile

I write when I cannot smile

I write to make you feel

I write when I don’t want to feel

I write to hold onto the passion

I write to release the passion

I write to calm my thoughts

I write to excite my thoughts

I write to understand the world

I write to escape the world

I write because of overactive emotions

I write to make sure I have emotions

I write to hide my insecurity

I write to reveal your insecurity

I write so that I never forget

I write so that you can forget

I write to be understood

I write so that I will understand

I write because I am a writer

I am a writer

Because I write

Poetic Expression

magic bookThere is something about getting older that brings out the bouquet of life around me/us. I don’t mean the I’m-gonna-die-sooner-than-later syndrome (that we all go through no matter what our age), but a sense of looking around and taking more and more in.

Okay — part of the “take it all in” thing is that I’m moving a little slower than I was 30 years ago, so there’s more time to look around. More time to gauge my steps so that I don’t trip over something. Or step on something. Or twist my back avoiding something.

But it’s more than that.

I’ve always enjoyed poetry — I’ve written a number myself now and then. Lately I’ve been finding myself wanting a way to express a moment in time without typing a thousand words. I’ve had no formal poetry education; my expertise in writing has come mostly through trial and error and writing since I was 10 and being a proofreader for 15 years.

I find that sometimes a hundred words say more than five hundred. That, depending upon the word and its placement, thoughts and emotions can be inferred instead of spoken. Now, that’s no surprise to those who have mastered the art of poetic license, but it’s a surprise to me.

My friend Jane has been a poet all her life.  She loves creating effects with as few words as possible. And she is so wonderfully good at it. There are others whose blogs I follow, too:  Dawn Whitehand at https://apoemandadrawingaday.wordpress.com/, Catherine Arcolio and https://leafandtwig.wordpress.com/. I have my favorites, you have yours. Sometimes you find someone who writes just what you feel. Other times you are left wondering. And that’s a good thing, too. But that’s the beauty of poetry.

Life flies by so fast. Maybe too fast to read a three-page poem. But there’s plenty of time to read a short word or two about the world.

Try writing one yourself. You will be surprised how melodious it feels.

Sunday Evening Art Gallery — Window Eyes….Svetlana Bobrova

Art is subjective to the artist and their view of the world. Their experiences. Their loves, their hates, their insights. Often this point of view is obvious. Other times, it is a wide-open field.

5

Svetlana Bobrova, a surrealistic painter from Russia, has a view of the subconscious that feels female in nature:  full of energy, passion, and exaggeration.

14

Her soft lines are in stark contrast to the imagery she brings to the world. The faces are hauntingly beautiful, the message in their bodies transcending every day emotions.

7

I am at a loss as to how to interpret the meaning behind her work. But isn’t that the point of Art? Are we always supposed to see the world as the artist sees it?

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I get an emotional surge when I look at the paintings. From the expressions in their eyes. From the tilt of their body. From the poise of their limbs or their interaction with others.

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A feeling I can’t quite explain. Nor, do I want to. Some emotions are better left unspoken. I hope you can’t explain yours, either. A wondrous feeling.

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I discovered Svetlana’s art through another creative muse, Glorialana.   Feel free to visit the blog that inspired mine at https://glorialana.wordpress.com/2014/10/30/dark-twin/ .

Svetlana’s artwork can be found at a number of sites around the Internet, including Tutt’ Art@ http://www.tuttartpitturasculturapoesiamusica.com/2011/07/svetlana-bobrova-russia.html  , or in DeviantArt  http://bobrova.deviantart.com/gallery  .

Creative Cooking Lessons

mcI am happy to say that the elections are finally over. Ballots have been cast, candidates have been turned into winners or losers, and life goes on. There was a lot of nastiness on television these last few days; a lot of sour grapes both before and after the polls closed. I know that politics is a serious world, but I think that candidates and pundits alike could take a cue or two from some of the most serious — and competitive — people on the planet.

The kids on Master Chef Junior.

Some of the kids are as young as 8 and have to stand on a stool to cook. Some are 12 and tall and lanky and move around gracefully. Some are articulate, others talk just like an 8-year-old. They are chubby and tiny and skinny and of all nationalities. They come with glasses and pigtails and braces. Yet they are alive and excited and they love what they do.

Now I know you say that’s TV and those kids are little prodigies and they don’t have to deal with unemployment and underfunded schools and brow-beating bosses. And you are right. But that doesn’t mean that the pressure isn’t on in their little world. They are competing for a lot of money and a lot of publicity and, of course, bragging rights. They are competing on a stage that they’ve been on for only a few years (after all — how many years can a 10-year-old have been cooking?) and are cooking things without a printed, written recipe.  They are digging into their little brains and coming up with things like chicken liver pate on a crostini, Brûlée pears, chicken wings with a Vietnamese marinade, Yuzu salad, and Chicken Parmesan.

But you know what else they do? They high-five each other. They congratulate each other. They share their ingredients and hug each other when they fail. They say things like, “I kinda feel bad for Isabella; she’s really nice, and no one wants to see her cry.” They aren’t there to hang each other out to dry; they aren’t out to sabotage or fight or scream at each other. I’m not saying they’re not competitive; it’s just that there’s not a bad attitude in the bunch. Their downers disappear in the freshness of their attitude. They are an inspiration to the curmudgeons among us.

There’s a lot of apathy in the world these days. A lot of frustration and impatience and intolerance. A lot of people hate their jobs, their family, their situations. They are fed up with the leaders and the followers, the policies and the politics. Lest you think I point a finger at you, I, too, am guilty of the “hate” rap at times. My patience is thin, my understanding of the world, thinner. Everyone around me has an attitude; often ~I~ have an attitude.

But it doesn’t have to be that way.

I have no idea what the lives of the competing chefs are like. I have no idea about their living conditions, their families, or their pressures. What I do see is an attitude of lightness. Of being in the now, working towards tomorrow, and having fun doing it. These kids blend their innocence with their love of cooking and food, making them the competition of the future. These are the kids that will make our work place a better place. Kids who will find enjoyment in the stress of a world they love. They will have hard times ahead of them, but they’re starting life out on the right foot. The foot of fun. The foot of creativity.

We so have to dump this defeatist attitude, this “I hate the Republicans/Democrats” mentality. It’s time to get over whatever it is that bugs us. If something in your life doesn’t “do it” for you, find something fun to do that does “do it.” Don’t let those bad feelings about the way of the world fester into something that, left unchecked, turns into a disease you can’t escape. Trust me. It’s just not worth it.

One of the kids from MCJ said it best:  “My dad’s favorite saying is:  Number one rule: always have fun.”

Perfection

tchaikovskyPerfection.

We all seek it.

Yet it means something different to everyone.

The perfect sunrise. The perfect smile. The perfect chocolate soufflé. One person’s perfection is someone else’s faux pax.

The great thing is it doesn’t matter what someone else’s perfection is. You can have unlimited perfection in your life every day.

Take music. A great rock and roll solo. A sweet, tear-jerking melody. A choir that sounds like angels. All stir emotions deep inside; emotions that want an outlet. Need an outlet.

And sometimes music is just the thing to bring you out into the light of day.

I was listening to the following piece this morning, through earphones, simply sitting and being.The 1812 Overture by Pytor Illyich Tchaikovsky was written in 1880 to commemorate Russia’s defense of its motherland against Napoleon’s army in 1812. It has been used as fireworks fodder and cereal background.

A cliche of classical proportions, it takes forever to get to the finale, building, teasing, then pulling back. Cannon fire is in some scores; a choir at the beginning in others. But Tchaikovsky knew dynamics. He knew how to tell a story through music. The struggle of the peasants. Their heartbreak. Their struggles. Their war. Their victory.

Do me a favor. Put your earphones/headphones on and take 4 minutes and listen to this finale. Let your emotions build with the music. Don’t think — just feel. Just for 4 minutes.

And tell me it’s not perfection.

Oh — and P.S. — Turn it UP —

https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=u2W1Wi2U9sQ