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Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Selfies, Jewelry, and feeling ridiculous (oh yeah-and-this-is-Me)





Hello friends.

Well, I certainly didn’t plan on writing a post about Selfies today but if you’re a regular here you already know I love to talk about things in life that baffle me-excite me-or challenge me.  So today’s topic pretty much covers all three of those.

First—here’s the excitement part:  




When was the last time someone sent you a gift in the mail for absolutely no reason?

Not your birthday. Not a holiday.

Nada. Nothing. Just because.

Well that’s what happened to me recently when Vannessa from Luxuria sent me an elegant set of hammered multi-toned bangles from her jewelry collection…totally out of the blue, as a little token of blogger love.

Honestly, this is one of the amazing parts of being a blogger---you end up becoming friends with people from all over the world, following them through their ups and downs, knowing the names of their family, offering support from a distance when you see them struggling. Funny, the little details I end up knowing about my blog friends. They may be women I’ve never met in person--- yet I have this distinct feeling that I “know” them.

So let me tell you about Vannessa.

She’s got an inspiring fashion blog —and a gorgeous line of jewelry. She lives in a 300 year old cottage in London and regularly writes posts about all things related to being a smart woman with a sharp sense of style. I can’t even remember how long I’ve known Vannessa but based on my memories of her life, it feels like it’s been a long time.

Okay, here’s the selfie part of the post—baffling and challenging me all at once.

Do you want to know how much I like Vannessa?

Well.

I like her SOOOOOOO much that I actually agreed to take a few pictures so I could share my new bangles and do a little shout-out for her jewelry business. And this is no small thing for me.

If you’re a regular here you might have noticed I don’t post pictures of myself much. Well actually never.

 (Except for this one little yoga pose)


After several years of blogging, this is actually my first picture I've ever posted of myself. 

Wow. That's hard to believe... even for me.

But truthfully, I may be the last official woman on earth who doesn’t take Selfies.

I know. Call me a dinosaur. 

But I admit, I'm totally mystified by that urge to pause-in-the-middle-of-whatever I’m doing, to take pictures of myself. I literally never do this.

Although I loooove to see your Selfies, I absolutely do! 

I so admire those women like my friends Tamera and Elizabeth who are refreshingly unabashed about sharing their self-portraits with the world, and whom inspire women of all ages to do the same. 

Express your own version of beauty and humor and self-confidence, they say to all of us, and do it through the art of taking Selfies. If you visit their blogs, you’ll see for yourself how easy it is to get caught up in their exhilarating freedom of expression.

But Moi?

I admit it; I’m not a convert yet.

Does this make me an old fuddy-duddy?

Honestly I just don’t get that 'Empowered-This-Is-Me-Being-Totally-Me-Feeling, as I struggle to figure out how far to hold my phone away from the gigantic-looking face I see in that screen.

Do you know what I mean?

Because sometimes I feel like I'm the only one with this view.

Those rare times when I’ve tried to take a Selfie it brings out my absurd side; that part of me that laughed out loud when Jim and I walked into an “Ugly Xmas Sweater” corporate party dressed in formal-wear because we literally missed the memo.

The Me that trips in public because I misplace my glasses and can’t see the curb.

It's the posing part that makes me feel a tad ridiculous. That suddenly brings out my "Tom-Boy"side ....the Me that prefers old jeans and t-shirts and who never finds time to get my nails done, because there’s literally 1000 things I’d rather be doing than sitting still long enough for someone to paint my nails. 

I jokingly call it my 'Dude' side;  it's the Me that recently got my first tattoo at age 57 with my 22 year old son after we met for a cold beer at a bar in Newport Beach and had a great talk about Life.

I guess my point with all this blathering ….is to say, please don’t let my geeky posing as a jewelry- model keep you from visiting Vannessa’s blog and introducing yourself. It would be so kind of you to visit her at Luxuria-Jewellery and tell her I sent you!

She was so sweet to send me these beautiful bracelets.


Let's see. If I lift my hair up would it draw attention to the bangles? Opps...too blurry.


Maybe if I hold my hand up...but wait, the bangles keep separating that doesn't look right.....


What if I hold my arm up... balancing it on my other arm? At least the bangles all fall together, but what's with that plastic smile? 

I could keep going but you'd be bored silly. I know I am.

But you should know that these bangles really do look great with everything! And I sure hope you have fun checking out Vannessa's jewelry. 

Oh and before you go...please tell me, how do you feel when you take Selfies?

xo
Leslie

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Sunday, March 5, 2017

What you are seeking is seeking You.



The first time I ever met Anne she politely asked me to leave.
“Goodbye!” She said in a strong, matriarch voice. “Good-bye!” she repeated just in case I didn’t get the message.
I had sat frozen in my seat for an extra minute, feeling like a pink-faced candy striper who had just walked in on a naked patient. But. But...I’ve only been here ten minutes I remember thinking. Ten minutes into our one hour visit.
Oh well, I gave her a weak smile and walked out thinking,
...well I guess not all hospice patients want visitors.
Especially when they’re in the Alzheimer-Dementia unit and rarely able to recognize you; although this little insight took a while to sink in.
In the following weeks my visits with Anne have settled into a comfortable pattern of unpredictability where I walk into the room with a big, happy greeting and silently wait to see signs of alertness in Anne’s eyes.

For me these moments have a fuzzy similarity with a scene out of Groundhog Day; except I am Bill Murray’s softer version, gently repeating our first introduction each time we meet.
Sometimes I’ve been excited by the occasional flash of connection that happens during an ordinary visit. Those are good days. Like the time I was standing at the foot of the bed when Anne suddenly lost control of her bowels. I felt sure that something emotionally real had passed between us in those intimate moments before the nurse arrived.
I was the one who saw the flash of horror on her face and heard her repeatedly mumble,
 “What …what happened?! I’ve never had this happen before!”
In that split-second I felt myself catapulted from a quasi-stranger into that of intimate confidante, if only for those moments when she seemed comforted by my words.
And it made me wonder, would things be different from now?
You can imagine how giddy I felt the next week when Anne was totally alert and smiling, even asked me to push her around in her wheelchair, into the garden and through the hallways until we eventually ended up singing in front of the Karaoke machine. Around us was a small huddle of fellow patients that Anne typically avoids, and even they seemed a bit surprised to see her roll up next to them.

We sang together.
And I can still hear her wobbly voice surprising me with these verses she clearly recalled from her past:
“Jesus loves me this I know
For the Bible tells me so”
Little ones to him belong
They are weak but He is strong.”







Naive me. I actually thought we had some kind of break-through that could last.

But the next week I found Anne in a darkened room when I arrived. Her mouth was open and her face was relaxed in the throes of a deep sleep. While I stood there, her eyelids suddenly flickered, she saw me and told me to go.

Taking my cues from previous weeks when she often woke up ready to talk, I pulled out a book and sat next to her bed.

And several minutes later she opened her eyes again.

“Why are you still here?” she demanded, her voice suddenly becoming a razor sharp knife cutting through the quietness, “If you don’t leave right now I’m gonna call the lady!”

And that was that.

Later after I sent my report, the hospice chaplain was concerned about my feelings. Had I been ‘traumatized” by Anne’s treatment, he asked.

It was a sensitive question on his part, but traumatized?  Definitely not.

It’s true that I felt the sting from her harsh words, let's face it, being tossed out of someone’s room is a jolt to the heart. But what had lingered afterwards was something else; it was the shock of the complete disappearance of my sweet, vulnerable singing partner of the previous week. It was the dramatic switch in her mood and tone that threw me. Not only was I not recognized, but I hadn't recognized her.

A few days later while I was practicing on my yoga mat, I had this clear insight into how my ego causes me to slip up in real life. It was a lesson on how "egoism,"--what yoga teacher Patanjali refers to as "asmita" blurs the truth. 

In my case, my instant reaction of hurt had been solely focused on me, pure and simple. Even though I had good intentions, I lacked the ability to pause. To create a little space before my own feelings of woundedness enveloped me. Here was a clear-cut example of how easy it is to misread a difficult person in my daily life. My ego had literally obscured the fact that these harsh words were being uttered from someone barely clinging to reality.
The fact that I would take her outburst as personal would be the epitome of ego.

And while Anne's dementia-tinged outburst may seem an extreme example, it comes with a message. It lifts the curtain on those people who go around lashing out at others. 

Do you have one of these in your life? Because it begs the question. Before we react to their words, can we pause long enough to ‘see” how badly they must be struggling?

This is what the hospice director doesn’t know.

 Anne is my teacher.

Anne is teaching me what it’s like to take my yoga practice off the mat and into the real world.

She is reminding me every time I see her that all we truly have is the Present Moment. And whether we’re a hospice patient or not, we should take nothing for granted. There are absolutely no guarantees that what we have today will be here tomorrow.

Anne is teaching me about impermanence. Reminding me—every time I say good-bye—that time is a gift. And that we should never wait to tell the people in our lives, I love you. Thank you. I’m sorry.

Anne is teaching me about how to care deeply about someone without attachment, how to give freely without having any expectations. Even the expectation that she remember me.

 Anne is teaching me about my own annoying flaws and unfinished work and reminding me in the words of our hospice director, “that most of us die the same way we lived,” which simply means there are no magical transformations on the deathbed. Not really. Angry people die with their anger. Selfish people die afraid. It’s up to us --- in the words of Maya Angelou, to “go out and grab the world by the lapels.” It’s up to us to have a clear intention of the person we what to be, and to begin today to put that “ideal” into practice.

Anne is reminding me to keep growing. To keep facing my anxieties. To deal honestly with my underlying fears that make it so hard for me to “let go” of certain situations and worries.

She is teaching me that if I truly want to become a wise, peaceful person by the end of  my life--it won’t happen without mindful choices and effort.

I can keep this list going, but I’ll end it this way.

Every single time I walk out of the beige, brick building where Anne has a room, I am blown away by the fact that I can walk outside and breathe in fresh air.

I have a laser beam awareness that I’m standing on two strong legs that can carry me anywhere I want to go. And that I can look up and see the color of the sky whenever I get the urge.

I can’t explain how simple and radiant and beautiful my life seems at this one moment.

But this is what I do every time I leave Anne's dark carpeted room with it's hospital bed.

I stand on the concrete sideway. I take a deep breath and I feel utterly grateful.




Tell me.

Who is your teacher these days?

I'd love to know.

Namaste,
Leslie

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