Thursday, April 30, 2009

In Search of...another political blog before Sunday!!!

So I made it out to sunny California without showing any symptoms of swine flu. Whew!!! So far, so good. The details of long travel days are usually a blur to me, but this was a notable one because I turned on the news before leaving to find that the Senate had gained a new Democrat - Arlen Specter, a five term Republican senator from Pennsylvania! Way to go with the converts, fellow Democrats!

Truthfully, I haven't heard the details of the switch, so I don't know if it was a result of some deep soul-searching, political pragmatism, or Joe Biden winning a best-of-three arm wrestling bet. Whatever it is, yippee!! I believe that brings the magic number to sixty!!

While I do my little happy dance with my three year old niece, both of us for entirely different reasons, I am momentarily stopped in my tracks because I don't recall hearing that Senator Al Franken has been sworn in. In fact, this is still in the courts in Minnesota. Oh no. Come on, Norm. Give it up. Al's the man. Senator Al. Come on, I sat by when Gopher was in Congress. Granted, there was snickering involved, but still. And Sonny Bono. Enough, Norm. Let the man do the job he was elected to do.

And then there was President Obama's press conference about his first hundred days in office. Missed it altogether, so here's my own recap off the top of my head:

We've reversed the ban on stem cell research, passed a stimulus package that has done things like extend unemployment benefits for many hurting people, reversed the previous administration's environmental policy, improved our world image, and outlawed torture.

My summation? Good job, Mr. President! Nicely done! I'm thinking that in your next hundred days we could cure cancer, legalize gay marriage, and put an end to world hunger. What do you say? I'm feeling optimistic. Maybe it's being in California and all.

I say we take our cue from the President and reach for the stars. Let's go for something that we don't know for sure we can accomplish but is worthy of our best efforts. Let's dare to see ourselves as capable of being better than our current circumstances. Let's stop listening to the people who are too scared to try or too cynical to think things can be different. We can do it. And the time is now.

Thanks for stopping by again. Please tell your friends.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

In Search of...a way not to panic about swine flu

I'm really good at worrying. Call it an over active imagination. Call it being impressionable. Call it genetic...I'm a worrier. So when I'm about to travel to California and Texas by plane and there's a health scare like swine flu, I wonder what I should do, not only to keep the actual flu at bay, but to keep my fears in check. I don't know if my good buddy George Stephanopoulos (total over exaggeration) has this issue, world traveler that he is, but I sure do.

Now before one of you is persevering enough to leave an actual comment on my blog (and I am aware that there are still some technical snafus in trying to do this), let me start off by saying that, even without the threat of a pandemic, I always do Airborne and Zicam before flying. And I try not to use the restrooms on planes or touch anything. And I definitely make it a point not to touch my face at all. Just call me Howie Mandel, but when it comes to flying I'm a little paranoid. (I've gotten sick after flying too many times to count.)

So here I am, with something actually legitimate to worry about, having just added "masks" to my shopping list for today. I'm also thinking about buying some flu medicine...just in case. God knows, I don't want to be the first U.S. fatality.

Now before all of my "law of attraction" friends start telling me that I'm going to bring it on myself, let me just say that I frequently subscribe to the superstition that "if I bring an umbrella, it won't rain," and consequently think that if I get all this stuff, nothing will happen.

Of course, I could cancel my travels altogether, but even I like to gamble every once in a while, so why not do it with something my life, for instance? Yup, I'm going all in on this one.

So blogging might be sporadic for the next ten days or so. Hopefully it will just be because I'm busy...and not due to swine flu.

Stay safe in your own travels, and thanks for stopping by. Please tell your friends.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

In Search of...some common sense in a crazy world

It's Sunday, which means it's politics day here at blog central, and though I started early by suggesting possible replacements for Texas in yesterday's blog, I got to thinking that I may have acted a bit hastily. I say this not because I am a fan of Governor Perry, or of rodeos, or of executing people in general, but because Texas has given us artists like The Dixie Chicks, Cyd Charisse, and Janis Joplin, not to mention Kelly Clarkson, Carol Burnett, and Jamie Foxx. Plus there's Austin, live music capitol of the world, and that's in Texas.

On the other hand, Texas has also given us Clyde Barrow, John Hinkley, and David clearly this is a mixed bag and might take some further deliberation.

On to other topics. Today George Stephanopoulos aired an interview he conducted in Iran this past week with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. I thought George did a stellar job of asking the tough questions about Iran's relationship with the U.S., his personal denial of the Holocaust, and determination to end the Israeli state. The Iranian president, in return, was eight kinds of crazy in his responses about Israel and the holocaust, but not quite so crazy in terms of the possibility of relations with the U.S.

It seems to me that we here in the U.S. suffer from a form of ADD as a nation, and we'd like everyone to forgive and forget our past transgressions just because we have a new president and it's a new day. It would be great if that were the case, but even we ourselves are having a hard time forgiving the former administration for their sins, so I think we need to cut other countries a little slack if we're initially met with some trepidation and speculation on their part about the sincerity of our motives...

...which brings me to torture and accountability. So there I sat, listening to the round table debate over the ramifications, both present and future, and both legally and politically, of going after people in the Bush administration who officially prescribed and condoned this "information gathering" technique. Whom do you hold accountable? And just how accountable is accountable enough?

Oh people, please. There are a lot of gray areas in politics, but at some point common sense has to come into play and we need to say it like it is. Everyone knew we were torturing people. Hell, I knew it, didn't you? Everyone from the President and Vice President of the United States on down the line and including Congress knew. And whether or not it worked, or just what kind of torture techniques were employed is like splitting hairs. It was illegal, immoral, and unconscionable. Not only that, it was just plain wrong. And if we'd really like to show the world how great our democracy is, then we should see that we never torture again, and we should start by prosecuting those who crafted the means by which to do it in the first place.

I realize that this opens a whole can of worms for President Obama, whose plate is already more than full, not to mention Congress. But is that how we now determine what we do - by how difficult it is, or by how much trouble we think it will cause? Or because it could change the outcome of the next election? Isn't there some point at which we say, "This is right, and this is wrong, and when you do something wrong there is a consequence?" Don't the rest of us have to live our lives by that? Isn't that what we teach children?

I am not unaware of the subtle nuances, the fluctuations in the yardsticks by which we measure what we consider to be acceptable or unacceptable behavior, but I think that this is a pivotal moment in history, and our character as a nation will be judged by our ability to make the choices that are right and not just convenient. The answer to our most perplexing questions is usually the simple one...but it is rarely the easy one.

It takes a great deal of courage for a superpower to hold up a mirror to itself and be honest about what it sees in the reflection. But I think we have that kind of courage. I think we can inspire a more peaceful world if we can look each other in the eye and say, "I will treat you the way I want to be treated." I think we will live on a better planet when each of us uses the common sense we were born with to determine our actions instead of how much we can get away with. It's some food for thought, anyway.

Have a great Sunday everyone. Thanks for stopping by. Please tell your friends.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

In Search of...a replacement for Texas

I know it's not Sunday yet, but I'm feeling feisty since Governor Rick Perry's threat of secession. For nearly a decade now we've been told not to "mess with Texas," so I for one would like to encourage him to follow his heart and reach for new horizons. Maybe they could join Mexico. I hear that country's doing really well right now.

As for the claim that Texas has a better economy than many other states, I happen to know of at least one public school district that has a $1.5 million deficit...and that's just a school district, so I'm pretty sure that the Governor's figures are skewed, or at the very least that many, many children are being left behind. But no worries, I'm sure you'll have that covered.

And what about the right to secede? I'm not a lawyer, but I'm pretty sure there was a case in 1868 called Texas v. White that determined that "when Texas became one the United States, she entered into an indissoluble relation." Even I could find that on the internet.

But they say, if you love something you must set it free, so bye, bye Texas. Don't let our American flag hit you on the way out. And good luck paying for all the things that our federal government used to fund for relief when the next hurricane hits, and things like highways. By the way, what type of currency do you plan on using, and how will your mail be sent? Got an army at the ready?

Oh Texas, we mustn't spend another moment worrying about you. You'll be just fine. You're scrappy. But who will replace you?

I have been giving this some thought, and here are some of my suggestions for a possible replacement:

1) Nova Scotia - mostly because I like Salmon.
2) Tahiti - lovely vacation spot, though I've never been. The French will surrender it, I'm pretty sure. And why not keep all those tourism dollars in our own economy?
3) Brazil - which is bigger than Texas, has great plastic surgeons, and Carnival. What could be better?

So adios, you lone stars. Godspeed, Mr. former President...of your former country.

Thanks for stopping by, fellow citizens. Please tell your friends.

Friday, April 24, 2009

In Search of...some random questions for God

I've got a nasty head cold today, and I get pretty wimpy when I'm feeling miserable, which got me thinking about some questions I have for the Big Guy starting with - what's up with head colds? Keeping in mind that these are in no particular order, I'd also like to add questions like:

Why doesn't broccoli taste like chocolate?

Why give children horrific and incurable diseases?
Why sociopaths and sexual predators?
And why must pasta make me fat? (It always comes back to the food.)

How does a flower manage to pop up through concrete?
Why, assuming we have free will, do we choose greed over generosity when generosity would actually give us everything we really long for?
And on that same subject, why is our natural inclination so often in direct opposition to the outcome we desire?

These are the things I'm thinking about as I mega dose on Vitamin C, Ecchinacea, Zicam, and everthing else I can think of to combat the common cold. I'm sure you've got your own list.

Thanks for stopping by, and please tell your friends.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

In Search of...the time to get it all done

I love writing this blog. I seldom know what the subject matter will be when I sit down to write it...except for Sundays, which have morphed into "politics day" because that's the day This Week with George Stephanopoulos is on TV, and attention must be paid. But it takes up time, and some days it takes a lot of time...which got me thinking about how to find the time to get it all done.

In truth, we can't really find the time to get everything done, especially not in our fast-paced society. Something's gotta give, but what should it be? (Personally, I'm opting to relinquish the house cleaning, so I'll need a few hours notice if you plan on visiting.)

I don't think we ever really stop and think about the consistent choices we make about our lives until we or someone we love is sick or passes away. That's the moment we wonder about all the "busy work" that consumes our day to day existence. And even if the busy work took up most of our time, the least we could do is be aware that those are the choices we're making, so we can appreciate even the mundane, because someday, even that too will end.

We like to think that we've got forever, that mortality doesn't apply to us or those we care about, but it's simply not true. So what, if these were our last moments on earth, would we make the time for? I'm going to go out on a limb and say first and foremost that we would say "I love you" to those we cherish. We would go visit that sick aunt who used to sneak us candy when our parents weren't around, or look at the faces of our children and appreciate that their childhood will go by in the blink of an eye and we'll wish we could have this time back. We would do the thing we always wanted to but put off, thinking that there's plenty of time for that later.

So amidst our jobs, whatever they may be, and the groceries, and the pursuit of success (whatever we deem that to be), or merely survival, let's take a minute and choose consciously what is important and what needs to go. What would we do if there wasn't the time to get it all done? What would enrich our souls, and what is truly insignificant? What would contribute to the world? What do we take for granted that needs the simple act of acknowledgement? Why don't we become present in our own lives and pay attention to every moment of every day, if for no other reason than to be grateful for it.

To quote the author K.T. Mince, "You are what you do when it counts," and I think every moment counts because there isn't the time to get it all done. So let's choose wisely, and love boldly, and live courageously.

Thanks for taking this time out of your day and choosing to spend it with me.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

In Search of...what is undeniable

I DVR'd American Idol last night, and it's a good thing I did because I had to watch Adam's performance at least three times. The first time my jaw dropped in that kind of automatic and uncontrollable reflex. The second and third times my jaw still did that, but I also noticed the accompanying goosebumps and tears.

So it got me thinking about what is undeniable. And what is undeniable at least as far as American Idol goes this season is that Adam Lambert's singing moves me to the core, like a great piece of art. I am changed forever having heard him, and there's no going back.

I think in the every day we are surrounded by mediocrity, by what is average. And we are so accustomed to that, that it's what we expect...of ourselves and everyone else. But once in a while, we are lucky enough to witness greatness, whether in the form of an artist, a song, a scientific genius, a teacher, or anyone or thing that raises our consciousness about what is possible.

I don't consider a song great unless I had to pull over to the side of the road the first time I heard it. I don't consider a politician great unless he inspires others to participate in the process, like President Obama did. I used to say there's funny...and then there's Robin Williams, because his stand up was so off the charts it was in a league of its own. (Granted, there was probably much pharmaceutical assistance in his early days as a comedian, but genius is genius nonetheless.)

So I'm feeling optimistic today, hopeful that I too can contribute something to this world that is undeniable, something that raises the bar. And I'm grateful that a kid on American Idol can inspire us all to dig a little deeper and reach a little further...toward our own greatness.

Thanks for stopping by. Please tell your friends.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

In Search own two cents

Did you ever notice how when you decide to embark on something new, everyone's got an opinion about it? Seriously. Let's use dieting as an arbitrary example. Here's how it goes for me:

I say: "I just started doing South Beach again."

And Person B says: "Well, that's good, but what you should really do is Weight Watchers."

And I start thinking, "Did I ask you what you think I should do?" Because if I did then by all means, fire away. But I'm wondering when we became a society of experts on everyone else's lives and why we feel compelled to put in our unsolicited two cents. And I know that I am as guilty of this as the next person, though not with regards to doling out dieting tips. People in glass houses, you know.

I began noticing it when I started writing my memoir, In Search of George Stephanopoulos. People told me it wasn't a book, it was a magazine article...which, again, would have been fine if I had asked them if they thought it was a book or a magazine article. But that got me doubting, and I truly never need any assistance with self doubt. So I decided to ask someone who makes her living as a writer - a magazine writer to be exact, and lo and behold she told me it would be a book. And so I decided to listen to her since I'd actually asked, and I've never looked back since.

We live in a busy world, inundated with more images and information than we can possibly wrap our brains around. And most of the images and information directly contradict one another. So who should we listen to? Whose two cents count? Or is it more important to be like Einstein and come up with the end result before you figure out how to get there? (The theory of relativity comes to mind.)

At what point does the advice of even the most well-meaning person become something that is destructive? And when is it more constructive to keep our mouths shut and be supportive? How do we differentiate the pertinent from impertinent suggestions we receive when we are drowning in a sea of them? How do we make our own decisions or even know what our own decisions are at the end of the day?

I am full of questions, but in truth we all already know the answer. The answer is that thing that comes when we power off our cell phones, stop checking email, and turn off the TV. The answer is the thing that brings us peace and joy, regardless of the tide of public opinion. The thing to do is the thing that only we can do. It is the thing that, looking back from our rocking chair at ninety will bring a smile to our lips. The two cents that count are our own two cents, but it takes courage in an opinionated world to listen to that.

So let's all take a minute each day and get re-acquainted with our own inner expert. Let's count our own pennies and drive in our own lanes. And for goodness sake, let's applaud the efforts of those we care about. After all, aren't we all doing the best we can with what we have from where we are?

Thanks for stopping by. By doing so, you have supported my dream.

Monday, April 20, 2009

In Search of...a new set of tires

So I'm wondering how to turn a day that was largely spent on car tires into a profound metaphor for something or other. Here goes...

I arrived back in Nashville in time to find a flat on one of my already-past-their-prime tires. While waiting for AAA to arrive, I surveyed the deceased, thinking I would somehow be able to spot the culprit (a nail) that put an end to the gloriously harrowing rides I'd been experiencing lately on my nearly bald Geolanders. Those tires had gotten me around town...and back and forth from New York...and to Memphis once to visit Elvis, I mean Graceland. Yup, they'd stood me in good stead, if not good tread (feeble tire humor), and now they were about to be history.

It occurred to me that life (and tires) is all about perfect balance. Too much of one thing is no good and too little is no good. What will give us a smooth ride? What will make us feel every bump in the road? What will get us safely through a storm, and what will take us up a curvy mountain road? Do we go through life in so much of a hurry that we never stop and notice the scenery until we get a flat? Or do we pay attention and appreciate how it feels to move effortlessly over distances that only a few generations ago would have been impossible to cover?

I wonder about these things as I wait for my new tires. I wonder what journeys they will take me on, and if they will be happy ones. I wonder if my life can strike its own balance...between work and play... between joy and sorrow...between what I dream of and what is. Can my life be as easily re-aligned as my car? My thoughts are interrupted because the job is complete, and my ride home is smoother than I can ever remember it being.

I don't know exactly where these tires will take me...but I'm ready.

Thanks for stopping by. Please tell your friends.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

In Search of...making a difference

So it's Sunday, and you know that if it's must be politics.

I want to start off by wishing a Happy Easter to all my Greek Orthodox friends, which of course include George Stephanopoulos, though "friend" is kind of stretching it a bit.

I know you've heard me gripe on previous Sundays about not learning anything new as I watched This Week with George Stephanopoulos, but today was different, and I want to acknowledge that. Today the show started off with Rahm Emanuel, a man I have previously described to only my closest circle as someone I would kiss hard on the mouth...and I assure you, I am seldom prone to that kind of remark.

For those of you who don't know who Rahm Emanuel is, well, first of all, shame on you, and second of all he's the White House Chief of Staff. (He was previously a Congressman from Illinois, and before that he was a senior advisor to President Clinton.) Rahm is the guy I'd want in my corner, the one who will not muck up the issues with regurgitated rhetoric, the one who will say it like it is, and be unrelenting for his cause, bill, candidate, or President. Rahm's the guy. And I don't just say that because he got his master's degree from my alma mater, Northwestern University.

So this was a pretty big week in politics, which included nationwide "tea party" protests, a public end to the United States' use of torture as a viable means of gaining information, and a reversal of Bush's environmental stand on greenhouse emissions and the damage they cause in the form of global warming (which Bush evidently wasn't sure really existed, despite all the scientific proof to the contrary). All in all, I came away from watching George Stephanopoulos' show more informed and thoroughly impressed by what President Obama has undertaken and accomplished in his less than 100 days in office. (If you ask me, stem cell research and this reversal of environmental policy alone was worth him getting elected, even if he did nothing else.)

President Obama's critics would say that he has compromised too much, hasn't taken a firm stand on anything, and is just enamored with the worldwide adulation that seems to follow him wherever he goes. As a matter of fact, I think his critics have said all that. But let's face it, they'd all be out of jobs if they said he's doing a great job and everything's just swell. The point is he is doing something to make a difference. Wouldn't it be nice if we all did something to make a difference?

Next up was John Boehner, House Minority Leader. Oh God, where to begin. I tried counting how many times he said the words "against" or "not in favor of," but I lost track and got dizzy. So, since I believe in the law of attraction, and that you get more of what you give your attention to - good or bad - I am not going to give anymore energy or attention to John Boehner. Just call me the anti-Fox News. Oh wait, that would be MSNBC, wouldn't it?!

Now to George Stephanopoulos. In a previous blog I asked him to call people on their stuff when they don't answer the questions he's asking. And today, he did just that. While I would love to flatter myself and think that George is reading my blog religiously, hanging on every word I say - I'm not an idiot. He's got better things to do with his time - like Twitter, or tweet, or whatever the heck it's called that everyone including Oprah is doing. But what if he did read it? And what if what I said about accountability really did make a difference? Wouldn't that be amazing?!! All I know is that when I watched This Week with George Stephanopoulos this morning every criticism I previously voiced was rectified. I'd say it was a complete coincidence, but I don't believe in those.

So George, if you're reading this, thank you. Thank you for listening and making a difference in your program this morning so that I could come away more informed, and so that those who were elected to represent us are held accountable for their jobs. It re-instills my faith in people.

And speaking of reinstilling my faith, I would be remiss if I didn't take a moment to mention Susan Boyle, the 47 year old singer who appeared on Britain's Got Talent and sang "I Dreamed a Dream." If you want to talk about making a difference on a global level, Susan has done it with one song. One song and she's changed the world. And how ridiculously appropriate a song choice!!! (Take notes, you American Idol kids.) She has taken a cynical and judgmental world, a youth-oriented and appearance-worshipping one, and shown us all that what is of value comes from within, that just being who we are and having the courage to try can make the biggest difference. Hers is more than a story about the underdog succeeding, hers is a message to us all that now is never too late to be who we're called to be, despite ridicule or even rolling of eyes. Oh, I could go on and on about Susan's audition because every time I watch the video I still cry. But it's hopeful tears.

So here's hoping for a world in which appearances don't matter as much as talent, courage, and integrity, a world in which beauty is defined by a new set of criteria.

Have a great Sunday everyone. Thanks for stopping by, and please tell your friends.

Friday, April 17, 2009

In Search of...a good turn of phrase

I love a good turn of phrase. In fact, nothing tickles me more. So there I sat watching American Idol this past week (because yes, that's what I do), and out of darling, sweet, and usually completely incoherent Paula's mouth came just such a delightful surprise.

Now, I have to admit that I'm usually with Simon when he says to her, "I have no idea what you just said." (And you have to picture it with his trademark British accent and accompanying look of disgust.) However, this time was different. This time, not only did Paula make sense, she was profound.

"Fortune rewards the brave," she said. And it stopped me dead in my tracks. It was only four little words, but to acknowledge their veracity was to admit that I have not been living that way for quite some time.

So it got me thinking about brave choices and what that means. It is so easy to let our soul's voice be drowned out by the craziness of the world that we don't know who we are, or what we're doing here, or what we truly want if we would let ourselves want anything.

A Course in Miracles says that peace of mind is our only goal, and for years I didn't get it. Peace of mind couldn't possibly be the only thing I wanted. But years later I have found that it is. I know that this is so because I have seen people who have the things I wanted, but who are terribly unhappy. And I have seen dying people who are at peace and joyful regardless of their circumstances. I have noticed that neither wealth nor poverty guarantees virtue. And at the end of the day, (or at four in the morning, as the case may be for me sometimes), I can tell you that peace of mind is indeed what I long for.

I think peace comes in a variety of ways, and, getting back to Paula Abdul for a second here, (and who ever imagined that I'd be saying that?!!), I think that bravery is one of them. There's obvious bravery - like the captain who was willing to trade his own safety for that of his crew's - or the dashing young black man who ran for President at the worst conceivable time in our history. These are obvious examples of bravery. But there are not-so-obvious ones as well - like going for a dream. No, I mean truly going for it. And it doesn't really matter what the dream is, just as long as it's yours...and you go for it.

My friend Robin went sky diving once. Fortunately, she had it video taped for posterity. While sky diving has never been on my personal list of things I always wanted to do, I found watching her do it positively liberating.

But maybe it's not something that radical. Maybe it's going back to school and getting a degree, or speaking in public, or traveling to an exotic destination. At one point for me it was trying to meet George Stephanopoulos...which led to writing a book...which led to a whole host of experiences I never would have writing a blog, for instance.

It really doesn't matter what the dream is, or how crazy it seems to anyone else, or the odds of succeeding as determined by a cynical world. What matters is doing it with bravery...because, like Paula Abdul said, "Fortune rewards the brave."

So be brave, and thanks for stopping by. Please tell your friends.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

In Search of...a few of my favorite miscellaneous things

So it dawned on me that I haven't been getting a lot of comments posted on my blog. I can happily live with my faithful 11 "followers" because I think it only took one more than that for Christianity to form (right?), but the "0 comments" thing...makes me nervous. Me being me, I figured no one liked the blog. But since my trusty stat counter keeps going up (thanks everyone!), something just wasn't adding up.

Like the 2000 Presidential election, there seemed to be a discrepancy between the popular vote (the stat counter for purposes of this little analogy) and the electoral college (the comments). Finally people started telling me that they were unable to leave comments, or sign up as followers. I don't know why this is not working for most people, but still working for some, so my first "favorite thing" today that I'm in search of is a Tech Support person. I don't particularly care if they're in India or the U.S., just as long as they're able to fix it so that people can post comments on my blog!

The next thing I'm in search of (besides a few ginormous #1 crossover songs and a major book deal) is a first page google standing for this blog and George Stephanopoulos. So indulge me a minute while I say - George Stephanopoulos, George Stephanopoulos, George Stephanopoulos. (By the way, do you know who just won the Walter Cronkite award? That's right, George Stephanopoulos!)

Okay, now that that's done, I'm also in search of a new favorite store. I know it is a sign of the times that everything is closing, but Fortunoff's??? I have spent my entire life dreaming of the jewelry I was going to buy there when I could afford it...which is possibly why they're going out of business...because I never purchased anything, but I digress. And now it's gone. And while what's left in housewares is like 60% off, the fact that something that's been there my entire life is unable to survive feels like a death to me.

It was bad enough when Gimbels closed. I didn't know how anyone would ever understand Miracle on 34th Street again. Could anyone truly "get" the saying, "Does Macy's tell Gimbels?" ever again? I don't think so. So now I've got no favorite store. Well, actually Crate & Barrel comes to mind. What is it with me and housewares???

My list of favorite things that I'm in search of could go on and on - a pair of comfortable shoes, a new favorite song, clothes that are actually made for women, the perfect suitcase...the list is endless. But for now I'd settle for a TECH SUPPORT person so that you can leave comments!

Thanks so much for stopping by. Please try to post a comment, and tell your friends.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

In Search of...a place where "everybody knows your name"

If you talk to my father for any more than five minutes you will undoubtedly hear about "The Diner." He will tell you not only what a great deal it is, and how no other restaurant compares to it (and I do mean no other restaurant), but he will tell you about the people there - his friends.

On my more cynical days I would tell you that he is exaggerating, or set in his ways, or just plain old, but this is not one of my more cynical days, and having just had a wonderful conversation with one of the owners, I too am waxing poetic about the virtues of "The Diner."

First off, I'd like to clarify which diner I'm referring to (and they are in no way compensating me to do that- though swag is always gratefully accepted, even in the form of food!). I'm talking about the Central Plaza Diner in Yonkers, New York.

At first glance this is just your average, ordinary diner - that is if you don't know any better. But to me it's not only the best place to get great food at a reasonable price, it's the place I return to in New York where (sing the Cheers theme with me) everybody knows my name. They not only know my name, they know what town I live in, that I'm a songwriter, and my beverage preferences to boot.

The staff have all pretty much been there as long as the diner has, and the "regulars" have developed a rapport not only with them, but with each other as well. It is a family of sorts, and it extends beyond the walls of the diner.

On any given day you will see senior citizens, families with young children, local police officers, and the rest of the general population at large eating there side by side. There will be every race, religion, and ethnicity represented, and you might hear a variety of languages besides English that include Spanish, Greek, and Italian among others.

As I take it all in, I am aware that this is America at its finest. This is the melting pot that we have forgotten about in recent years as divisiveness has permeated our society. This is where mutual respect and cohesiveness live.

I have to think that the owners have a lot to do with it. Dino and Andy, brothers from Cypress, will often sit down a minute and share a joke, a story, or the latest sports scores. They know what's going on with their customers - who has triumphed at the local casino that just opened, and who is in the hospital. In some ways the diner is more the pulse of the community than the local newspaper and TV station.

It is a place where I feel warm and welcomed, understood and known. How many places are there in today's high tech world that you can say that about?

So, like my father and his buddies Kenny, Angelo, and all the rest, I am sentimental about this diner and the people who inhabit it. When I walk in and they say, "Hi Ilene," I know that I am home - where "everybody knows my name."

Thanks for stopping by, and tell your friends.

In Search of...something funny

I just finished watching Revolutionary Road and I am ranking it #3 of the all time most depressing films I've ever seen. (#1 is The Hours and #2 March of the Penguins - which I know many of you will vehemently disagree with me about).

Since I already did a blog about happy endings as well as one about satisfying ones, I thought I'd move on to the question of where the funny went. I mean funny. I cannot remember the last time that I saw a movie that made me laugh so hard my sides hurt. I don't remember when I last laughed until I cried. What's with all the depressing movies? And why does Hollywood now equate funny with stupid? Since I'm not a 13 year old boy, I guess I just don't understand it, but please - no more American Pie films! And does anyone besides me not find Ben Stiller funny?

Come on, make me laugh. I dare ya.

Oooh, that brings me to another crazy idea I had - Clint Eastwood in a comedy (and not one involving chimps). Think about it. It would be great!

Well, today's a short blog day and if you have any suggestions for hilarious films, please send them my way. I could use a good laugh.

Thanks for stopping by. Please tell your friends.

Monday, April 13, 2009

In Search of...the right thing to wear to a film premiere

I just tried on the dress I'm wearing to my cousin Jessica's wedding in a few weeks and it fits! Thanks to the treadmill, my iPod (which I'm in love with) and a low carb diet, I was able to easily slip it over my head. The bad news is that upon inspection in the mirror, the words "girdle," "Spanx," and "Pilates" came to mind.

But that's the least of my worries because I still have a few weeks to work on that. My immediate concern is the movie premiere I was invited to tonight. By now I should know to expect the unexpected when I come to New York, but somehow I didn't plan on needing to think about movie premieres. Fortunately, the smorgasbord of black that is my clothing wardrobe should somehow suffice with big jewelry, a nice manicure, and artfully applied makeup.

So the movie called Every Little Step is a documentary about the show A Chorus Line, and I have been positively giddy about seeing it since I received the invite. A Chorus Line came out in the 70's, and like most things 70's, I immediately loved it and committed every song to memory. I think I spent a decade belting out "What I Did for Love" before retiring it from my repertoire.

After the screening...

To tell you the truth, I was a little worried that the documentary would reveal some deep dark secrets that would destroy my warm fuzzy memories, and if there's one thing I'd like to keep in tact, it's my warm fuzzy memories. But there was no need for concern. As a matter of fact, not only did it resurrect my warm fuzzies, it amplified them exponentially. I'm on emotional overload. I laughed and cried...and laughed and cried. And there was applause during the movie and after the movie. The theatre was filled with so much genuine affection and admiration that I hardly knew what to do with myself.

I think there's a certain place in each of our hearts for things that impacted us when we were children. A Chorus Line was one of the first Broadway shows I ever saw, and I had worn out the album (yes, album) by the time I got to see it. I remember the row I sat in (the last one in the theatre) and how I felt as I watched it, completely mesmerized. I remember the passion in my heart that was ignited, and it, like any great art that speaks to someone, changed me forever.

As I watched Every Little Step in an emotionally charged, filled to capacity theatre, I wanted to go find my leotard, tights, and character shoes. And I'm sure I wasn't the only one.

So the lesson of the day is to wear whatever you want as long as you're comfortable in your own skin. No one really cares what you're wearing in a dark theatre anyway. But the lesson is also to go for your dreams with everything you have, just like the dancers in the movie...because someone gets the job.

Thanks for stopping by, and go see Every Little Step.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

In Search of...two blog entries in one day!!!

They rescued the captain!!! Wooohooo!!! Hail to the Chief!!! Go U.S.A.!!!

See, pirates are a baaaad idea! Told you so!!

In Search of...people who show up

So it's Sunday, and if it's Sunday it must be politics day on my blog.

I'd like to start by wishing Pastor Rick Warren a speedy recovery from what must be an extreme case of exhaustion...which prevented him from his scheduled appearance on This Week with George Stephanopoulos.

This purpose driven pastor must have been really, really tired because I noticed that millions of people and the bitter elements couldn't keep him away from President Obama's inauguration. So today he must be truly tuckered out.

I know his cancellation on George Stephanopoulos's show couldn't possibly be because he didn't want to talk about gay marriage. Nope. He's a pastor, for goodness sake. He'd never dodge the tough questions.

So there sat George Stephanopoulos, adeptly switching gears to the other pertinent topics of the day - pirates, a new Presidential puppy, and the economy. I, even I, have to shake my head at this combination of craziness. Pirates??!!! And just to show that I've really gone off the deep end, when did I start agreeing with Newt Gingrich on anything?

But Pastor Rick didn't show, so what were we to do but discuss the political ramifications of President Obama getting a pure bred dog instead of a pound puppy - even if it did come from the same breeder Ted Kennedy's dog came from. Oh, the potential fall out!

And let's get back to pirates because the word makes me giggle even though the situation is dire for the captive captain. Couldn't we update the term with something clever, like the previous administration was so fond of doing? Couldn't we call them, for instance, "oceanic terrorists?" Pirates make me think of Captain Hook or Johnny Depp, and there's always a gold earring involved, which somehow detracts from the menacing demeanor they're trying to portray. Plus, there's the word "scurvy" which I associate with pirates, and frankly, it's grossing me out.

So while we're all in a prayerful mood this Easter and Passover, let's all pray that the captain gets home safely and is surrounded by multitudes of angels protecting him.

Back to politics. The economy. The President is receiving lots of criticism for asking for money to bail us out. Seems to me I've heard this song before, and just because I'm a betting kind of gal lately, I'd like to wager that every critical voice is coming from someone who has a job, a roof over his or her head, health insurance, and food to eat - Democrat or Republican. I know, I'm a crazy gambler that way, but that's what I'm bettin'. So to all of you negative Nellies out there I'd like to say this - SSSSHHHHHH! Sit down and be quiet - unless you've got a better plan. A specific plan. A well thought out and ready-to-be-executed plan. No really. Haven't got one? Then I repeat - SSSSHHHH!!!

And Pastor Rick, in the future, I pray that you become a more honorable man and show up when you commit to doing so.

Thanks for stopping by. Please tell your friends.

Friday, April 10, 2009

In Search of...unexpected opportunities

So after all my griping about how when you decide you want to undertake a new and exciting endeavor there are a bunch of naysayers there to greet you...there are also unexpected opportunities there to greet you as well...and from very unexpected people.

Nearly (gulp) twenty years ago I took a job at a men's clothing company in midtown Manhattan. Over the course of the seven years I worked there my daily duties included answering phones and taking clothing orders, collecting money from vendors we lovingly referred to as "deadbeats," and pulling fabric swatches out of cubby holes while standing on a step ladder in a tiny closet in the back of the office. I was not fond of these tasks or of the occasional groping by intoxicated sales reps at our twice annual sales dinners. However, I loved the people I worked for and with. They were my very own dysfunctional family.

It was a magical time for me during which my annual Christmas bonus was accompanied by a note from one of my bosses telling me they hoped that my music career would go nowhere so I would keep working for them. (Maybe it was their fault it took me so long to get a hit!)

Anyway, I would take the rare lunch hour to drop off demo tapes (yes, tapes) at surrounding record labels (Sony was across the street, Atlantic was next door, and Arista was five blocks north). There was even the time I told one of my bosses that I might be very difficult to work with if I did not get to see Bette Midler in concert across the street at Radio City Music Hall. (Somehow those tickets were miraculously procured.) Ah yes, those were magical times.

But all good things must come to an end, and the casualization of our society as well as NAFTA ushered along the eventual demise of what had once been a forty year old, family owned and operated, great American company.

Though it didn't feel like it at the time, the company's necessity to downsize as a step to try and salvage it, was the best thing that could have happened to me. But I was devastated. Within six months I moved to Nashville, and I have never looked back...until now.

I always think that when people from my past reenter my life it's a sure sign that the end is near. (Yes, I'm an optimist.) But recently, thanks to Facebook, Twitter, this blog, and a surprise call from a former co-worker, I've been in touch with a lot of people from my past. Some, like Lisa in my earlier blog, are a delightful addition to my present life. Some are just a curiosity.

"Curiosity" was what I was going with when I got in touch with one of my former bosses from the clothing company. Having had no contact whatsoever since I left, I wasn't sure I'd even get a response, let alone a warm one. But life is full of pleasant little surprises and this was one of the better ones.

The man I'll call "Cliff" - because that's actually his name, was happy to hear from me. Though I wonder if we'd recognize one another on the street now, it felt like no time had passed in our email exchange...well, at least it would have felt like that, had so many major changes not taken place in my life and in the world as well.

One of those things was - I've written a book. You know it. I mention it in pretty much every blog - In Search of George Stephanopoulos. Cliff, possibly having nothing better to do in semi-retirement, wanted to read it. So me being me and being thrilled when anyone asks to read it, said "Sure," and sent it to him.

Now I can't tell you the rest of the story in this blog entry because it hasn't unfolded yet (and because I'm both neurotic and superstitious), but let's just say that you never know who is going to be the one to help you, or try to, or who is going to have a distant relative, or a neighbor three doors down, or something that will be the key that you've been waiting for.

What I know for sure twenty years later is that working for the clothing company was never really about the pay check or the health insurance, or even the Bette Midler tickets (though that was sweeeet) was about the intricately interwoven tapestry that is all of our lives. It is a stunning picture that we are unable to see when we are just looking at our little corner of it alone.

So thanks everyone for being part of my tapestry in some way - known and unknown. And thanks for stopping by. Please tell your friends.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

In Search of...what I really want

Sometimes I wish I'd picked a normal profession, the kind that accompanies a normal life, like a doctor or lawyer or some job that has a path where A+B=C. But I was not that fortunate (or smart, perhaps). I've wondered from time to time what it must feel like to know where you'll be in six months and what you'll be earning and to have the stability of knowing that your days off remain the same ones each week and that vacation time is a predetermined few weeks a year.

But none of the things I do come with that certainty. They don't come with any certainty. In fact, they come with a blank page on which to create a life with no predetermination whatsoever. On my better days I consider that liberating, but lately as I've been branching out to things other than songwriting (like this blog, for instance), I have found myself, let's see, how can I tactfully put it - freaking out.

For starters, if you haven't already tried this, as soon as you decide to undertake a new endeavor, one that involves risk and creativity, but that has a big pay off, if only personally if not financially, people will come out of the woodwork to try and dissuade you. And I do mean woodwork. You will be amazed at how much discouragement is readily available at your fingertips. There will be reasons you didn't even know existed for why you can't or shouldn't even attempt to do whatever it is you want to do. Seriously.

On the up side, I've lived long enough to know that people get very uncomfortable when you disrupt their status quo. I mean, if you have the audacity to go for your dreams, it shines a glaring light on everyone else who hasn't gone for their own. And it's not an intentional glaring light. It's an incidental one, which makes it even worse.

I keep telling myself that I am not responsible for other people's discomfort, but their discomfort seemed far easier to disregard in my youth. Now it's harder and harder to tune out the voices. It's way easier to think, "Yeah, you know, I think you're right. Why bother?"

So today I'm going to get quiet for a few minutes, quiet enough to drown out all the naysayers, and think about what I really want. Maybe it's to start ballroom dancing again. Maybe it's to retrieve the person who writes songs that actually mean something. Maybe it's to get In Search of George Stephanopoulos published despite the fact that I'm not a celebrity and despite that fact that he's Stephanopoulos and not Clooney.

So I'm off - off to reacquaint myself with the notion that anything is possible. Off to remind myself that no one is in charge of my destiny but me. Off to realign with my intention to serve this world in the unique way that I was created to.

Since this is both Holy Week and Passover, I'm going to free myself from the bondage of limited thinking and resurrect the dreams that live in my heart. In doing so, I hope that I will be sending out that cosmic permission for you to do the same in your own lives.

Thank you for stopping by, and please tell your friends.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

In Search of...old friends and new memories

Imagine seeing someone that you haven't seen in twenty-five years, someone you went to elementary school through high school with and haven't seen since.

That's where I found myself on Monday night, at a restaurant on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, anxiously awaiting the arrival of someone who was once a close friend - the kind you pass notes to in class when you're around ten years old.

A thousand questions were running through my mind. Does she look like I remember? Is she the person I recall her being? Will we have things to talk about, or will there be long awkward silences? Will she be someone I want in my life now, or will this dinner be a reminder that you can't go back again - anywhere. Will we have things in common like we did growing up, or has time and different life journeys forever altered our tastes and sensibilities?

I'm sure she had the same questions about me running through her mind. But she had the unfair advantage - she'd read my book. (You know the one - In Search of George Stephanopoulos.)

I cursed Facebook, the medium which reunited us, as I waited to see what the answers to these questions and so many more would be. I was dragged kicking and screaming to sign up in the first place, but it was my own curiosity that had gotten the better of me in the end.

Lisa showed up, beautiful and full of a self confidence that I had no recollection of her possessing. She was bubbly and vivacious and had a joie de vivre that was new and foreign to me. There were no long awkward silences. As a matter of fact, there were no silences at all as we tried to cram the past twenty-five years into a four hour dinner.

There were the inevitable surprises, like the fact that she always wanted to be an actress and had devoted a few years in her thirties to pursuing that. This came totally out of left field for me. But I'm sure there are things about me that came out of left field for her, though I don't know what they are exactly.

And then there were the differences - her adamant stand that you don't talk politics or religion with anyone, and mine that those are the things that really matter so shouldn't we be talking about it with everyone?

There were moments I was aware that I was meeting a stranger, someone I shared a history with, but not much else. And yet there was that history. It was one that included the things of childhood - like crushes on TV stars and bubblegum music, but it was also one that included the loss of a parent at a very young age. I wondered if she knew how much her mother's death when we were nine impacted me. I wondered if she knew that my outlook and choices were forever changed because I understood the fragility and uncertainty of life from an earlier age than most people contemplate those things. (Heck, most adults I know haven't contemplated those things.) I wonder if she remembered that I was there, that I didn't run the other way out of fear or sorrow or an inability to make anything better.

But these are not things I would ever broach with Lisa, though I think about them a lot. I was even reminded of it recently when another friend lost her mother. You would think it would be different in your forties than when you're nine, but it's really not. Pain is pain, and loss is loss, and the person I was who showed up for my friend as a child is pretty much the same person who shows up now. I don't know if it's that way for everyone else.

So Lisa and I made our way into the brisk New York night air and toward our respective bus and train, still talking and trying to put into focus the snapshot each of us would take away with us of who the other now is and what our life looks like.

I was clear that if we continued to be in each other's lives that it would be a new chapter, one not predicated on the past, but full of the fun and excitement of making a new friend.

So here's to old friends and new memories. Thanks for stopping by, and please tell your friends - the old ones and the new ones - to do the same.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

In Search of...a smooth landing

So my day off found me flying to New York...home, sweet home (sorry Nashville, but I fear that will always be the case). And one of the many things I decided on my flight was that Sunday will officially be "politics day" on my blog. I figure I'm already off to a good start, given the past two consecutive Sundays' entries, so why not keep a good thing going? Besides, Sunday is the day George Stephanopoulos is on TV, so why not make it official? So I am. And here we are.

Another thought I had while winging my way to the Big Apple is that it is entirely possible that I could have landed the plane better than the pilot did. Granted I'm alive, and that's not something to be taken lightly. The group of high school students on a field trip put their hands up in the air and made "whoa" shouts like we were on an amusement part roller coaster ride. I believe I left my stomach somewhere over Queens, and as we flew low enough for me to get a few license plate numbers off the cars below and yet still nearly overshoot the runway, I just prayed that we'd land in one piece and that it would be over soon.

...which seems to be a horribly good analogy to what's going on in the world right now. For those of you who don't watch George Stephanopoulos as religiously as I do each Sunday, here's the recap. North Korea and Iran are still racing to develop nuclear weapons and the ability to deliver them, Muslim women in Afghanistan and Pakistan are getting beaten to a pulp (per their "religion"), there is still little aid getting into the genocide riddled Sudan, and pretty much the entire world's economy is in the crapper.

On a lighter note, the Obama's looked spectacular on their first European trip as President and First Lady.

Appearances aside, I still have faith that somehow we're going to pick ourselves up by our bootstraps, though by that time it's entirely possible that the polar ice caps will have melted and we'll all be toast (literally).

So I guess, like my flight experience yesterday, I'm praying that we get there in one piece, if not smoothly. I'm hoping that all the respective pilots know what they're doing and that we world citizens can be as optimistic as the high schoolers on the field trip were that everything will turn out fine.

Do I have any crumb of tangible evidence on which to base this faith? Well, kind of. We've managed to survive a couple of world wars and the Bubonic Plague as a race, so I'm thinking that we've got a shot at this...but better brace yourself. It may not be a smooth landing.

Thanks for stopping by, and please tell your friends.

Friday, April 3, 2009

In Search of...a day off

So before I begin my actual blog, I thought I'd let you know (oh faithful readers of mine) that I won't be blogging tomorrow. Like God, (and I don't really liken myself to Him often enough) I am resting on the 7th day. Yes, I am beholding my past week's blogs and saying, "They are very good." Now I need a day off!

On another, completely different note, ER did not disappoint last night. That's all I'm gonna say...even though I would've liked more Clooney than just in the retrospective, but hey, we could always use some more George Clooney, that's what I say!

Now lastly, I am going to give you all a sneak peek at In Search of George Stephanopoulos by revealing the first page of the book. Take a gander below...

This Is So Not How I Envisioned This Moment

New York City, 2005

I squinted my way onto Lexington Avenue. The rain was coming down sideways, rendering my umbrella completely useless. Having just been subjected to one of life’s many cruelties, selecting my first pair of reading glasses, I reached for my cell phone, but there were no little bars in the battery icon. “Damn,” I muttered to myself as I shut the phone off to save what increment of usage I had remaining. I headed cross town to meet friends, getting more and more drenched with each soggy step.

When I got to 51st Street and Broadway about twenty minutes later, I turned my phone back on and it beeped to inform me that I had a new voice mail.

“You have one new message,” the automated voice informed me when I dialed in to retrieve the message, “from phone number 202…” It wasn’t a familiar number, and it took me a second to realize where the area code was from…Washington, D.C.

“Oh my God!” I shrieked in the middle of 51st Street, (and only in New York would that not garner even a second glance). My heart began racing furiously as it dawned on me that I didn’t know anyone who could be calling me from Washington, D.C…except George Stephanopoulos!

Just like that I went from feeling old and single to…well, okay, so I’m still old and single, but hey, George Stephanopoulos called me! And actually, it wasn’t “just like that.”

So there I stood, frozen in time, listening to a very familiar voice say, “Hey Ilene, it’s George Stephanopoulos…”

See, now don't you want me to have a book deal???? Don't you want to know what happened???

Thanks for stopping by. Please tell your friends.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

In Search of...a satisfying ending

I'm starting my blog a little early, the night before, largely so I can vent about my evening's television viewing. A couple of days ago I was talking about happy endings in movies, and I don't want to confuse that with a satisfying one.

American Idol, for instance, provided me with just such an ending to tonight's program by finally ousting "Tattoo Girl" as I lovingly refer to her (Megan Joy to her mother). What started out as a love affair with Simon and her looks ended in a sparring match, and I for one am a happy camper that it's finally over. More time now for my faves - Danny, Adam, and Allison (or affectionately, guy who lost his wife, guy wearing eyeliner, and rocker chick).

Now to the series finale of Life on Mars, a show whose cancellation I have been whining incessantly about. I was on board and on the edge of my seat until the last ten minutes, when, in an absurd turn of events, it turns out that the entire cast were time-traveling astronauts who, yes, land on Mars in the end. You have got to be kidding me!! I want to know what herbs those writers were smoking when they came up with that brilliant idea!

So tomorrow is the conclusion of ER, and after tonight's Life on Mars debacle, I'm a little bit nervous...although anything that contains screen time with George Clooney...or even the possibility of screen time with George Clooney is probably going to hold my attention and leave me satisfied.

Clooney aside, I am looking forward to an evening of reuniting with old friends...friends that have seen me through almost as many major transitions in my own life as those that took place on the show, although I have to admit that I stopped watching once the last original character left. I mean, without John Carter, Doug Ross, Mark Green or Nurse Hathaway I really didn't see much point in watching. Even the addition of John Stamos couldn't reel me in.

So now it's got me thinking about my book - In Search of George Stephanopoulos. No, I didn't forget. And I've got quite a few George Stephanopoulos mentions to make up for to move me up the Google ladder! But can you have a satisfying ending without a happy one? And just because something doesn't turn out as you planned, does that mean it isn't happy? I mean, what if, by George Stephanopoulos marrying Ali Wentworth (notice both full name mentions) he did me a favor? (Unlikely, but possible). What if he spared me boring dinners with journalists, celebrities, and heads of state? Oooh yeah, that sounds just awful!

Anyway, my point is that maybe what we think will make us happy isn't what would satisfy us in the end. Maybe a satisfying ending is what happens when we get out of the way long enough to let our own story unfold. And maybe I'll share some of that story with you tomorrow. I think it's time.

Thanks for stopping by, and please tell your friends.

In Search of...control in a chaotic world

It's 4 something a.m. and I've just woken up in a state of panic. It happens to me every so often - my subconscious mind goes where my conscious mind won't let it go during the day.

I've decided to get up and do something productive (like my blog) before attempting to get more desperately needed sleep, and in the hopes that I can steer my mind away from what frightens me enough to go back to sweet dreams. But these are frightening times, and it's got me thinking - about all the things we do to convince ourselves that we have some modicum of control in our lives when in fact we know that this is a seemingly random universe...or at least not based on anything that we mere mortals would consider fair or just.

After water damage destroyed some books, pictures and papers in my apartment a couple of times, I started learning to release some of my attachment to things. (I also moved photographs and letters that were precious to me into plastic bins.)

I got to thinking about people who lost everything they had in fires and floods and other assorted natural disasters. I wondered how I would cope if that were me, what I would want to grab if I could and what would stay behind and be lost forever.

We spend our lifetimes acquiring stuff, and I think it's mostly to try to make ourselves feel safe and solid and sure. It gives us the false illusion that we're not going anywhere, when in fact we all are.

And it's not that I've gotten rid of everything I own or am by any means a minimalist. I just have to know that I'm okay without my things...that they do not define me, nor do they make me safe.

So what does then? What control do we have? Well, we have control over what we do and say and how we view things. We have control over what value we place on things and people and experiences. We have control over how we view the world. And I dare say we have control over what we learn in the midst of our most trying times.

So today, I'm going to appreciate what I've got, knowing that what I've got may be gone some day, either by choice or not by choice. And I'm not relegating that to things either. I'm going to look at the relationships I've cultivated and maybe take some time to do a little more cultivating. I'm going to get rid of a few more things, so I feel unencumbered by them. And I'm going to appreciate the greatest gift I've got - another day of life.

Thanks for stopping by. Please tell your friends.