Saturday, November 27, 2010

Blessed Friday

I am a self-proclaimed hermit every year the day after Thanksgiving. I refuse to venture outside and lose myself in the frenzied mayhem of Christmas shopping. To be honest, I am a menace to society as I don't do crowds very well and lose my composure and temper quickly. My mind is unable to wrap around the chaos and melee that evidently occurs every year and I question why? Why do humans resort to this? And for what? The meaning of Christmas has been bastardized and lost. I have to remind myself that it isn't about the killer sale on a 42-inch 1080p television or the discounted Coach purse a coworker told me about. I don't watch t.v. and couldn't care less about designer purses. I'm not knocking those who have the balls and gumption to brave the elements of the Friday after Thanksgiving. (I refuse to acknowledge it as Black Friday.) To each his own. What I AM disturbed about is the absence of humanity during this time. As I recall, the story of Christmas is woven with the threads of humanity's altruistic nature. 

I happened to overhear a news report while my mom was watching t.v. A man in a Buffalo New York Target was trampled and seriously hurt. Again I ask, why and for what? Was it really worth it waiting in a long line only to be hurt and almost killed in the process? The same news report also dropped statistics on how many people were actually shopping for themselves. Most of them were. Like I've said before, to each his own. I have no problem with people triumphantly securing a good deal on something they've saved up and longed for. I'm always on the hunt for savings on the latest photography gear so I totally get it. But the money I save shouldn't be at the expense of my or someone else's sanity and well-being. 

In stark contrast to the news of the trampled man in the New York Target, I was captivated by the CNN Heroes 2010 tribute.  Finally! The t.v. was finally engaging me with stories of people personifying the Christmas spirit every day, impacting the world through their selfless commitment and dedicated service. From a 74-year-old grandmother providing health care in a dangerous Mexico city, to a Scottish man providing thousands of meals to hungry children, then to a Nepalese woman who has dedicated her life in rescuing girls from sexual slavery. These stories were gaily wrapped presents dropped at my feet! I wonder what the world beyond America thought when they viewed images on their t.v. screens of people lined up in front of a store waiting for hours, then pushing and shoving, to acquire the latest HD t.v., video game console, or 12 mega pixel camera? Conversely, I hoped that there were hundreds of Americans affected by the images of hungry children and orphans roaming the streets in earthquake-ravaged Haiti. 

On my Blessed Friday, I spent the entire day in contentment. I didn't have to push or shove or stand in a long line shivering from the cold to receive the best present in the world. What I received that day was more valuable and precious than anything I could have bought on sale at Target, Macy's, or Wal-Mart. I didn't have to argue over who was next in line or if someone cut in front of me. All day I was rich with the innocent, unadulterated glee of my 2-year-old granddaughter, Rylee, playing cars with my boyfriend, Ray. She showered us with slippery sweet kisses and  Kung-Fu death grip hugs. Rylee was so amazed by her peek-a-boo toe in her too small sock that we didn't have the heart to remove them. Money could buy her new socks but her concentrated wonderment was priceless. 

The toy that gave us an hour of good-natured competitive fun wasn't on sale at Best Buy or Target. It wasn't accompanied by a confusing controller and didn't require batteries or electricity. Our merriment came in the form of a simple 1972 game called Rebound that Ray dusted off and set up for us. Having no kids of his own he's kept it in pristine condition for over 38 years. It was girls versus big boy and although we lost pretty badly we gained invaluable time with little Rylee.

More power to all the brave souls who dared to roam the jungle of the Friday that shall not be named. I hope they all found what they were looking for. 

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Grateful on Track 1

It never fails. Every year I have this strong conviction to slow my roll before the holidays. I tell myself to breathe in and out with cleansing breaths and meditate on the blessings of the past year. Instead, I'm rushing to and fro, unconsciously holding my breath until the very last second before my lungs send a message to my brain to inhale.

This year was no different. Yesterday afternoon I was fighting to stay awake in the office when my phone's red light blinked. The caller I.D. told me it was my older daughter Maricelle who was coming home from college that evening on the Amtrak.  Upon answering she nonchalantly said, "Hi Mommy! I'm at the train station now. I got out of school early because they had to evacuate us due to a bomb threat." In the following nanoseconds I went from alarm to relief because she was obviously safe but before my brain could fully register the thread of emotions, the call waiting alert interrupted. Grrr. It was my middle daughter Chloe, totally exasperated. "Mom! What are you doing? Could you pick Rylee up because I have to work late." I believe I managed to muster a faint, "Uhhhhh what? I. AM. SO. FREAKIN'. TIRED."

When the train deposited my daughter in one piece on the Fullerton station platform I was simply thankful. For EVERYTHING and EVERYONE. I'm grateful for the obvious: my life, my family, my 3 grown kids, my granddaughter Rylee, my boyfriend Ray (whom I haven't scared off yet), my close friends who are incredibly patient and understanding of my wackiness, my job, my photography business, my health, etc. The list can go on and unfurl like an ancient scroll. I send a prayer of thanks for:
  • the unsung heroes, the people, "family", and friends who work toward the success of My Refuge House. The ones who do something in the face of evil instead of turning away. (If I listed all of you I'd have to write 2 blog entries.)
  • the caregivers of this world, like Ray, who is a shining example of working a thankless job while managing to be MY best friend, my partner, and the one who keeps both of my feet planted firmly on the ground. 
  • my "train station platform" friend (hi bean) who walks through the detritus of my arrogant pride and resulting lessons in humility. She exhibits grace and mercy toward me when I know she wants to smack me upside my head sometimes.
  • my girlfriends who have stuck by me all these years patient with my ongoing peccadilloes. (You gals deserve your own blog entry!)
  • the photographer friends who selflessly guide, correct, and teach me in my business venture. 
  • my fellow warriors, Derrick and Kat, for fighting injustice alongside me. 
  • the young girls rescued from the sex trade and child labor, who have walked over the threshold of My Refuge House, finding love, solace, and sanctuary in their otherwise dark existence. 
Last night, as I watched the train depart and saw my daughters and granddaughter walking toward me, my heart distended with gratitude for second chances, redemption, reconciliation, and forgiveness. My mind couldn't extend to the needy or suffering in the world because my world is comprised of the females facing me. I continue to marvel at my good fortune--to be good friends with my daughters despite the ugliness we experienced for so many years. 

On this Thanksgiving 2010, I wish all of you in blogger world a day filled with much gluttony, imbibing, and clear revelations of gratitude knocking you upside the head! 

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Pockets of Solitude

Solitude can be a much-to-be-desired condition. 
In silence we listen to ourselves, 
and in quietude we may even hear the voice of God. 
~~Maya Angelou~~

I saw that framed quote hanging on a wall in a coworker's office last week and it created a resounding gong in my heart. For the past few months I've felt off. Prickly. Tense. Irksome.  I almost convinced myself that my lack of exercise and running were unleashing the beast I've reined in for some time. Or my hormones were wreaking havoc on my inner serenity. I blamed it on everything and everyone hoping it would right itself in due time. Instead, my equilibrium continued to lean on one side then sway haphazardly in every direction. When I read that quote I discovered what was lacking. Solitude. Alone time. Nannette time. God time. 

It's been over a month since I deactivated my Facebook, Twitter, Yelp, and LinkedIn accounts. The decibels in my head decreased to a deafening silence and I felt free. Well, almost. My life rarely allows me a moment of peace let alone quiet. If I'm not at work, I'm at the gym. When I'm done at the gym, I'm either surrounded by Ray, my kids, parents, sister, grandchild, brother, sis-in-law, nieces, nephews, friends, strangers, coworkers, etc. When I'm editing photos of a recent shoot there is music, or background t.v. noise. If I'm not working on my photography I'm fulfilling my volunteer duties for My Refuge House. And if I'm not doing all of the above I'm scrambling to spend quality time with the friends I've neglected in the past year.  I fail to notice I've stepped into the danger zone until it's too late. The dreaded zone where the beast is unleashed and whoever is standing the closest gets the swipe of my claws. Why do I always wait until I draw blood? 

It's a vicious cycle and my triggers should be obvious but the busyness of my life causes me to be blind, deaf, and quite dumb. Spending quiet solitude with God centers me like no one or nothing can. My Nannette and God time allows me to hear his voice. It is in these moments that the muck and mire coagulating the smooth flow of living water are revealed to me.  It is the reason for my imbalance and no one can unclog the obstruction unless I make a conscious choice to plug myself into the source of tranquility.

If I were diligent in spending daily quiet time with the One who loves me I would not lose control. I could easily forgive, speak with grace, and act with love. I wouldn't denigrate myself for perceived failures and self-imposed perfection. I would pay close attention to what God has tried to tell me about the heavy burdens I've carried for so many years. The baggage of past wounds I've hauled into every relationship I've had. But those revelations are for another blog entry. In the meantime, I steal pockets of solitude throughout my day and refuse to be apologetic about it. Hopefully, the peace and serenity I seek will transform the putrid waters of my soul to run like a fresh stream. 

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Life without my iPhone-Day 2

Yes, I have no phone. Not even the brilliant employees at the Apple store Genius Bar had the power to resurrect my phone. I think my swollen eyes and tear-stained face scared them enough to do their best to run diagnostics and whatever else they do. It wouldn't even turn on for them. No pulse, no heartbeat, no life. With reluctance and trepidation the poor guy at the Apple store delivered the dreaded news. I can turn it in and pay big bucks to get it fixed or buy a new phone. I think my bottom lip started quivering and quickly bit it to stop myself from shouting, "Do you know what kind of night and day I've had?! You're just like every guy out there! Can't deliver for sh*t!"  Ummm, I don't think that psycho outburst would have fixed my iPhone. Either way, I don't have the funds to buy a new iPhone at the moment. Call me crazy, call me spoiled, call me insane or call me what my friend Jessica called me, "dramatic", but I would rather do life without a phone if I can't buy a new iPhone. 

Now I embark on a new adventure--life without a phone. My friend Lina called it "unplugged from all distractions" and she's right. A secret part of me, the part I squelch because I don't like the secrets it harbors, admits that it's almost nice not to receive texts, deal with crappy reception, and dropped calls. I'm almost relieved that I'm not easily accessible. I almost want to retreat from the entire world for a while as I am pulled in so many directions. Conversely, as I spent quality time with my daughter this weekend I lamented my broken phone because I couldn't use my camera to document our time together. I had to hear through the grapevine that my sister ran into Channing Tatum and he smiled at her! I couldn't text my friend Lina that I was on my way to San Diego and couldn't make the event we planned on attending together. There was no way to reach my granddaughter to hear her high-pitched voice and cheer me up.

My distorted vision resembles the picture above. Ironically, I uploaded it days before my phone broke. I can only communicate via e-mail and I lug my computer everywhere searching for a strong wi-fi spot. Pathetic. How did people survive before phones were invented? I suppose I will soon find out.