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Help from Strangers… NOT on News at 10

Sunday, January 26th, 2014

Snow!

It has been a bear of a winter here in Mid-Michigan!

A few days before Christmas, we had the biggest ice storm in recorded history. 40% of the city was without electricity and there were some folks who were out of power for over a week.

Trees were down everywhere. Many roads were un-driveable because of branches and power lines in the streets.

After that we have had periods of deep snow, and extreme cold. We are all done with winter around here.

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Today ‘s Adventure
I was afraid driving from Lansing to Owosso today. Merely 25 mph seemed unsafe at first (6:00am on a Saturday). It was good that there were very few drivers on the road!

Generally, I opt out of travel in difficult weather these days. I have finally given into the fact that I am human, and this is Earth. Nature is bigger than I am.

However, a friend’s car is in the shop, and her child needed to go to a standardized college-admissions test. I chose to make sure the kid stayed on track, and that’s how I found myself driving in drifting snow.

I love to drive, and drive a LOT (my JoyBug turned over 200,000 miles today. I have a better than average skill at handling my vehicle. I was still concerned enough to not feel safe sipping my hot cup of tea until I arrived an hour and a half later (it usually takes less than 45 minutes).

Short-Term Drama
Near my destination, I did get pulled into a drift on a back road (no ditch, thank goodness… A drift in the middle of a flat road). I had taken a good shovel with me and un-beached the bug. That was ONE way to wake up quickly!

Four men passing by this country road (in big vehicles) stopped to push me out. Three guys wasn’t enough… but that 4th guy was the charm. I’m so grateful!

Again, it is proven… Most people are good. They just don ‘t make the news.

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“Try Something New” Day

Monday, July 8th, 2013

If ColorJoy is about creativity in all ways, then trying something new and stretching is ColorJoyful. June was crazy in my world, I spent more time traveling for work than ever before. I sang, I danced, I knit… all out of town.

(Photo at Right is Habibi Dancers backstage at a Library Event, below is The Fabulous Heftones at Wheatland Traditional Arts Weekend.)

While I was on the road, I didn’t post here. Posting becomes harder, the longer I wait in between posts.

Fabulous Heftones at Wheatland Traditional Arts WeekendI’m pushing past the clumsiness by doing something guaranteed to be clumsy. I’m doing something I’ve not done before. I pointed the video camera at my face. Maybe we can connect more fully if you hear me speak?

I think video is great for connection. It’s also good for demonstration. Let me show you how easy it is to use fabric paint to embellish objects.

First I show you my eyeglasses, which were black for over a decade but are now pearly turquoise. In the video I embellish plastic dollar-store earrings. I hope you enjoy it.

(Note: if you can’t view this here, CLICK HERE to see on YouTube’s site. On my computer it doesn’t work in FireFox, but it does work in Chrome.)

Oh… (added later) here are up close photos of my eyeglasses before & after.

Before:

glasses before

After:

glasses after

Why Be Alone?

Tuesday, June 18th, 2013

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There is some talk in the press lately on introverts and their needs; their contributions to business and social groups. It is a world-enhancing concept; I’m all for it. However, alone time is not only a need for introverts.

Me, Too!
I’m an Extrovert. I love people, and have many good friends.

Yet, I came of age in a family of 3, and I prefer to interact with one friend at a time. The list of friends I meet for lunch or tea in the course of a month is pretty long. Relationship is a high priority in my life. The way I do it is time-consuming… and totally worth it to me.

I have a very public life. I can barely go to a coffeehouse or grocery store without seeing someone who knows me. This is a city of 115,000 people, and it feels as though I know most of them! Yet, I go crazy if I can’t be alone.

A Balancing Act
I find social interaction in groups socially confusing. Being at the front of a room, either teaching or performing, energizes me. Tea with a friend is perfect.

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On the other hand, a room full of people, even if I love them individually, is over-stimulating and overpowering. I tend to sit near the door in these situations.

The Ears Have It
I think I’ve finally figured it out. I’m overly stimulated by sound. Sitting between two conversations is harder than playing chess, I can’t figure out what to focus on.

Even when I work alone, I prefer writing after midnight. My beloved is sleeping at that time, and our city neighborhood is quiet. Nobody is walking a dog past our corner. There are no sounds of bicycles, cars, or dribbling basketballs on the sidewalk at that hour.

My Personal Friendly Noises
I figured out last summer when I took a 2-week retreat to Montreal, that a regular repeating sound nearby helps me work. A ticking clock, crickets or a percussive old-fashioned lawn sprinkler can calm my ears, so that they are not straining to hear sounds further away.

(Ticking clocks distract others… Including my Brian. Rain stresses me out, but a waterfall calms me. It takes a while to figure it out.)

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I purchased an app for my iPod which makes cricket sounds and a host of others… Birds, water, clocks, wind chimes. It has helped me work alone during the day. By playing a sound near me, my ears don’t strain to hear things a block away.

Growing Up?
I guess I need alone time more now, at 50-something and self employed. Still, I remember in college buying a friend a fast food meal so we could have a 1-1 conversation outside the dorm or sorority house.

It’s a joy to learn how best to work. I exhibit many attributes of a person with ADD, but the typical treatment for it makes me worse, not better.

As a child, I know some adults worried for my future. As a young adult, I struggled to find ways to be an effective employee (often staying late, to get deskwork done when the environment quieted down).

My Own “Boss”
As a self-employed woman, I now can’t afford a bad day. I am my own secretary, publicist, computer tech, webmaster, copy writer, graphic designer, errand-runner, pattern writer… I am even the products I sell: teaching and singing.

It took me a very long time to figure out what it was about me that needed such care. Even though quiet music playing in a restaurant would distract me from good conversation, I didn’t see that as anything but restaurant-relevant.

I found an interesting article on introverts here: Introverts Explained: Why we love you but need to get away from you

You may find the article enlightening.

Are you in need of alone time? Do you find that those around you are fine with it? Threatened? Confused?

PS The iPod Touch/ iPhone app I use is called Quick Sleep. It lets you save combinations of sounds for later (crickets & a clock; 4 kinds of birdsong). It also has a night timer to fall asleep to your favorite sounds, then turns off to save batteries. There are a lot of sound generators… This is just the one I prefer for my needs.

Images: 1) Tea for one, 2) Lunch with Rita Petteys of Yarn Hollow (handpainted yarns t& fibers, she dyed the yarns for both of my Knitty sock Designs – Crystal and Sunberry), 3) My backyard balcony view in Montreal, 4&5) Me teaching a crowd.

Melancholy on Fathers’ Day

Monday, June 17th, 2013

My father, Verling (VC) “Pete” Troldahl, died on June 30, 1973. He was 40. I was 14.

This is still a tragedy 40 years later. It is the one biggest event in my life that has molded me.

I do not take relationships for granted. I say “I love you” a lot, even to friends.

My tendency to talk to strangers? Daddy, too. My loud voice? Daddy, too.

My love of singing harmony? I remember Daddy sitting down with me & a hymnal, teaching me how to sing a 2nd part. It was MAGIC. I still remember where I sat, what the room looked like when I finally understood harmony. What a gift.

It was hard not having him there for my New York debut in 2006. That was my childhood goal, to sing in NYC. at least Mom was there (she paid for scores of voice lessons).

My fascination with other cultures? Daddy brought international students home for holidays, particularly Thanksgiving. They told stories of war & being a child inside a country at war. In my isolated academic community, I knew the world was bigger (and less “safe”) than my own circle.

Fathers’ Day is hard for those of us without our fathers, no matter why. Hugs to those in this unhappy fraternity.

Patternfish Rocks! Striped Summer Socklet Sells.

Wednesday, June 5th, 2013

I woke up to an email from Patternfish (Julia Grunau). They sold 45 copies of my Summer Striped Socklets in 3 weeks. Julia, when I see you at TNNA (trade show in June), I’m going to hug you for at least 45 seconds! You’ll be gasping for air when I’m done.

Summer Striped Socklets by ColorJoy LynnH

(Actually, the reason it sold so well was that Gayle Clow, the Patternfish Newsletter Editor, featured my socklet in her May newsletter. Somehow I missed seeing that newsletter when it arrived in my inbox. Maybe it was worth it for the surprise I got today.)

Summer Striped Socklet HeelIt’s a fun pattern with a variation on my Crystal Heel. Here is the Patternfish page for my design:
http://www.patternfish.com/patterns/6153

The pattern has a toe-up square start (a Bosnian Toe variation) with swirl increases. The heel is a variation on my Crystal Heel, also with swirls… decreases this time. It’s a fun knit. My test knitter for this project, Emily, decided to reverse her colors on the 2nd sock for more fun. I loved it, of course!

Thank you to Julia and Gayle of Patternfish for the chance to soar. Thanks to every single knitter who has considered knitting this project. I appreciate you all.

I make a living selling one pattern at a time, friends. One class at a time, one concert at a time, one retreat at a time. Every single time someone chooses my work, I am grateful. THANK YOU to everyone who ever purchased anything in my lineup of offerings. It’s a good life, thanks to your support.

 

Goodbye Party for Yarn bOMb at MSU

Friday, May 3rd, 2013

Local Lansing, Michigan friends… it’s time to take the sweaters off the trees at Michigan State University. They are warm enough and want to grow again.

(If you don’t know what I’m talking about, go visit our ColorJoyful Yarn bOMb page and smile.

Will you join us tomorrow/Saturday, May 4? We will meet at the garden around 11am (stragglers welcome). Link to Map, for Horticultural Gardens (Children’s garden parking… free on weekends. We hope nobody will park there for graduation.)

We will un-sew the “ace bandages” around the trees so we can wash them and reuse them in later projects. I expect it willtake a few hours.

When we’re done I’m buying a round of tea/coffee at a local gathering place. We’ll either go to Chapelure (the closest), Wanderer’s Teahouse, or Gone Wired/The Avenue. They are all locally owned.

Cry not, because we have more Yarn bOMb projects in the wings. A semi-secret smaller one is planned for Memorial Day… stay tuned.

You Guys Rock!

Tuesday, April 23rd, 2013

Oh, my! What fun it has been to listen to strong music by strong women this week. You guys really were fun, bringing me music from the 60s to today.

Diana/Otterwise sent me a link to 25 Women (most young) rocking it today. I only knew a few of the names. It’s amazing and inspiring. Maybe you want to check it out, also? 25 Women Who Rock Right Now – Spinner

I still want to collect a Pat Benatar song or several, but she’s not on iTunes. I relate, as a musician who has struggled with the current system of music licensing, that someone might make that choice. I’ll get her some way or another. Meanwhile, I put her on my list because she is who started this thought process.

I’m sort of amazed at how many ways a “strong woman sound” might record. Dolly Parton, Nancy Sinatra, Sister Sledge and Joan Jett on the same list? Cool. And for most of you, the Carpenters might not fit, but it was their album I first purchased, the first band I was in love with. They are pure vocals. It was hard to find an upbeat song in their catalog, but Top of the World is truly happy and so I chose that one.

It turned into more of a “beat-full, tush-shaking, house-cleaning songs sung by women” but I’m really enjoying it just the way it is. My iTunes says the playlist is between 1 and 2 hours long. That’s enough time to get some work done, and not get bored if I have it on repeat. Yeah!

I’ve had a great day or two. Thank you very much for playing this game with me.

Here’s my Playlist:

  • ABBA – Take a Chance on Me
  • Adele – Rolling in the Deep
  • Alanis Morissette – Hand in my Pocket
  • the Bangles – Manic Monday, Walk like an Egyptian
  • Laura Branigan – Turn the Beat Around
  • Edie Brickell & New Bohemians – What I am, Nothing
  • The Carpenters – Top of the World
  • Tracy Chapman – One Good Reason
  • Sheryl Crow – All I Wanna Do (is Have Some Fun)
  • Karla DeVito – Is this a Cool World or What?
  • Heart – Magic Man
  • Joan Jett & the Blackhearts – I Love Rock & Roll
  • Katrina & the Waves – Walking on Sunshine
  • Joni Mitchell - Big Yellow Taxi
  • Dolly Parton – 9 to 5
  • the Pointer Sisters – I’m so Excited
  • Pretenders (Chrissie Hynde) – Brass in Pocket
  • Helen Reddy – I am Woman
  • Linda Ronstadt – You’re No Good
  • Carly Simon – You’re So Vain
  • Nancy Sinatra – These Boots are Made for Walkin’
  • Sister Sledge – We are Family
  • Donna Summer – She Works Hard for the Money
  • Shania Twain – Man! I Feel like a Woman!

I think I’m ready for a work day! Thanks so much!

Adios to Being Perfect

Saturday, March 30th, 2013

Imperfection can be outright beautiful. I didn’t know this for most of my life.

I still struggle. Part of me is a kind of imperfect I am not proud of. Part of me is very good but I always wish those strengths were stronger yet. There is no way to make that work. The only way to make peace is to let go, not to attain that perfection only seen in my own head.

There is No Perfect

I have a saying these days: “There is no perfect” (…except perhaps in tiny emotional moments.) The concept of perfection is not useful in living life. Discovering this was profound for me.

No person, place or thing can ever be perfect. Never. And really, isn’t perfection what manufactured items strive for? I’m no longer interested. I want to be handcrafted, not machined. As Joni Mitchell said in Big Yellow Taxi, “give me spots on my apples, but give me the birds and the bees.”

Striving to Avoid Criticism

That said, letting go of the possibility I can be perfect enough to never be criticized? It’s very hard. I work with kids and they seem to get grumpy and fragile about 6th grade. They try to blend in or at least look like the others, or the cool others (whatever seems cool at the time). It’s no wonder this is a time when they start making social judgements about what is good and what is undesirable.

I have a good handful of Godchildren. I’m not a traditional Godmother but we chat about standing tall. We discuss figuring out who we are and what we believe, then staying strong with those beliefs when others poke and prod and tease.

At least one kid came back to me with an example of how she took that lesson into her life and felt stronger because of it. I was delighted. One life a little more centered (especially in middle school) is a gift to not just that person but those around her. The child is now in her mid-20′s and still doing a great job of being her true self. (Photo of me with her at age 15, together in Montreal.)

‘Fessing Up: the Theory

I think opening up to our imperfections and mistakes is really hard. Starting in Middle School, it seems that we become so insecure of ourselves that we don’t want to have weak spots in our armor. Actually speaking out loud about those weak spots is scary!

Yet, look at the yarn bombed trees here. The pieces we had to cover the tree base below were imperfect at best. They were the right color but did not “match” in size or type. The shapes were odd. This photo was taken a few months after the initial installation, and the pennants at the base of the tree clearly were blown by some stiff winds. Yet, the tree still has its decorative sweater. It still is a sunny counterpoint to the monochrome winter colors around it.

I might even argue that its imperfection gives it more interest, more value. If it were “perfect,” it would not catch our eye. It would not look handcrafted. It would not have the desired energy.

‘Fessing Up: A Personal Story

I’m starting to believe that my becoming a true adult was when I learned to admit my mistakes. When I’d say “Wow, I wish I’d done a better job of this but I messed up. What can I do to help the situation as it stands now?” It never stops feeling fragile and scary to speak my imperfections out loud. However, when I do, at the end of the day I have no secrets and feel good about my integrity.

Once I made a very big mistake at work, one which required phone calls and paperwork to correct. A task I needed to do was so confusing I put off doing it past a deadline. I tried to hide it from myself and others, but of course the missed deadline was discovered in spite of me.

Wholehearted Living

I’ve been reading Brené Brown, a woman who researches shame and wholeheartedness. Oprah asked her the difference between embarrassment and shame.

Dr. Brown says that embarrassment or humiliation might be saying and acknowledging “I made a mistake.” Shame, on the other hand, manifests as the belief “I *AM* a mistake.” Wow. I clearly was confused on that count at that job, when I didn’t know how to do this task. I felt ashamed to ask for help.

In that situation, I was gifted with the right boss. He knew I was not the mistake and treated me respectfully. He had me sit in his office while he made all of the phone calls to make it right.

I got to see what a person who wasn’t afraid of imperfection would do. I watched a grounded, fully-adult person ‘fess up to making a mistake and ask how to make it right. It was a powerful lesson.

Vulnerability sounds like truth and feels like courage. Truth and courage aren’t always comfortable, but they’re never weakness.
– Brené Brown

Saying it Out Loud

I now admit my weaknesses to the room, though sometimes I wish deeply that I didn’t have them. I admit I can get loud (a good feature for a singer/teacher but not so good in offices or some mellower public spaces).

I admit I can be distractable. I tell classes that I can get so into teaching the material that I can forget to give them a break until late in the class. I let them know that they can ask for a break if they need one.

I admit that being on time can be very challenging for me (this is related to being distractable). These days I use my iPod to set off a series of alarms for me all day long, to make sure I change gears when necessary. Admitting this coping system might just help others who fight the same tendency.

Our Strengths are also Our Weaknesses

All of these weaknesses no longer define me. All of them are less of a challenge now that I speak them out loud. They are part of the package. Part of why I’m distractable is because I am passionate and creative. I see things everywhere that inspire and interest me. I also can get into a flow with a task so that I don’t think of the time.

Our best features are also our worst. Being bold can be perfect at a networking event, and a challenge at a funeral. Being focused on relationship is great for teachers and restauranteurs but a challenge for jobs where one works alone or has a constant stream of people coming through that they will never see again.

The hardest part still, is when I mess up things that impact my beloved Brian. Telling him that I messed up is still horrible. However, I’m glad our relationship is so precious to me that I am not willing to have any shame secrets in it. I may put off the telling for a little while, but I choose to let him know. I regard not telling as a “lie of omission.” I value our relationship too much to keep secrets. He needs the whole me.

The thing that is really hard, and really amazing, is giving up on being perfect and beginning the work of becoming yourself.–Anna Quindlen

Except, ironically… you are perfect just the way you are. Stand tall, my friend, and go forth with truth and courage!

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If you want more on Brene’ Brown, Oprah interviewed her two weeks in a row for Super Soul Sunday. I had trouble streaming the video after the fact, but it is worth the hiccups to listen. Highly recommended.

If You Can’t Put a Smile on Your Face…

Wednesday, March 27th, 2013

…put one on your pancakes.

Maybe you can see behind my pancakes, a green towel with a bunch of random electronic parts on it… and some screwdrivers? That’s my beloved (Ms.) Piggy, my iPod Touch, which is now 4.5 years old (3rd Gen).

She’s been dropped a few dozen times. She’s been in a sturdy, bounce-able thick silicone case and has bounced and bounced and bounced. Her glass is still intact (it’s easy to break the glass without a rubbery case).

But last Wednesday I dropped her, hard, down a stairwell. She landed just right and made a hard clunk. Then she forgot she had a battery.

She works fine plugged in, but I use her as a calendar. This doesn’t really work at the doctor’s office or the yarn shop where they want to schedule me.

I’ve got lots of screwdrivers from the many times I’ve fixed computers. I fixed desktops professionally back in Y2K days, when there were few laptops. I have fixed a few notebooks of my own, though they are a bit more finicky.

A few days ago I got out my screwdrivers and found some videos on YouTube showing me how to take apart this version of iTouch. I took her apart until I got to the “tiny phillips screwdriver” part. None of my drivers were small enough and phillips.

Teamwork and Community
Fortunately a FaceBook Friend/Knitting buddy (Elizabeth) had a driver I could borrow. Unfortunately, once I got in there it was clear that a connection I can’t fix was definitely broken (on the cable between the “motherboard” and the battery).

There was a tiny part with tiny little “fingers” on it which is supposed to click into another part like a lego… except the fingers were broken off. There’s no way to fix that. Tiny means smaller than the top of a pencil eraser. I needed magnifying eyeglasses to even see it properly.

The Verdict
Looks like I’ll see if getting a local fix it person will be affordable enough to put money into an older gizmo. I’d just as soon put off a larger purchase.  I’m not a happy consumer, comparison shopping for electronics is not entertaining.

But hey! I learned something. After I watched the YouTube videos I thought “this is something like things I’ve done before, I can try this.”

The hardest part was getting the glass front off, and I did it imperfectly. I didn’t break the glass but I did some minor damage to the rubber between it and the case.

Fear and Trying
Elizabeth said “Hey, you’re not afraid to try.” With due respect, I may LOOK unafraid but it’s more like proceeding in spite of the minor fear. I was trying something reasonable given my history.

Thank goodness another knitting friend steered me toward a local repair person. My Piggy-pod is far out of warranty and too old for Apple professionals to touch it (even if I had left it whole). We’ll see what he says, probably tomorrow.

The Magic of a Smile
Meanwhile, a smile of any sort has been proven to improve a person’s mood. If you want a lighthearted but earnest video explaining the smile effect, watch Kyeli here.

Words are Inadequate

Sunday, March 24th, 2013

My friends are losing loved ones and relationships all around me. I feel so inadequate to respond. I’ve lost too many myself and every story hits my gut deeply.

I know how the ground falls away from your feet and life floats for far too long. I know how sleep refuses to take away the pain for more than a few minutes at a time. I know that even driving a familiar path can become confused. When I went through my divorce, I remember turning the wrong way down a one-way street on the way home from work, the same way home I took for years.

I know that feelings come and go like waves… for years and years, despite what society says. I know that someone will try to help by saying “get over it” or “it’s been long enough, make a new life now” when that is just not reality for the mourner.

I know that losing a pet or becoming divorced are society-silenced losses which can hit us as deeply as those which require memorial services. Painfully, in those cases there is no public way to share the deep loss.

And when it’s time to call or write, to say I understand… well, all the words leave me. There is no good way to comfort the inconsolable.

I wrote a poem/letter to my father on the 23rd anniversary of his death. Society thought I should be done with that loss long before. I still have waves of feeling when I hear a particular song on the radio, the one which I sung for my brother’s first wedding to his now deceased first wife, Kelly.

If you need someone to understand, rest assured. At least I do.

Images: My dad in high school, me in 4th grade. Same eyes and ears. (He died when I was 14.) Brian’s dear friend who played banjo until he was 99, his last year with us. My cat, Muffett… the only pet I’ve ever had. I had him 17 years and even my friends cried when he died.

A Dose of Hope & a Smile

Thursday, February 28th, 2013

It’s gloomy today in Lansing, Michigan, USA. I’m staying in all day, working in the silence… just me and the click of the keyboard. It’s time to ponder the world and community around me.

I find good everywhere. It amazes me though… people share news of good encounters and acts, as if they were an unusual thing. People are good all over the world. (Here is a photo of a dance friend, Najida, dancing at New Aladdin’s restaurant with her daughter. Good, yes? Totally adorable and loving, if you ask me.)

For example, I lose things pretty regularly. My mind is always on the next thing and I leave creative “rubble” behind me.

Sometimes I leave behind a travel mug, sometimes it’s a handspun/ handwoven scarf from a trip to Mexico (returned to me from a train in Montreal and a park in St. Petersburg, Florida). I had a friend get her SUITCASE back from a subway train in Toronto years ago. And this is just the lost-and-found news in this paragraph.

I follow Twitter and Facebook, sometimes too much and sometimes not much at all. However this week I found three videos through them that are pretty inspiring.

Mitchell’s Day

A high school basketball player passes the ball to a developmentally-disabled kid who is on the other team, with seconds to go. On the OTHER team. I dare you to keep the tears back on this one. Short, but very sweet (click to see video… thanks to C B S Television:

Willing to Work

An 18-year-old boy was willing to walk 10 miles in icy conditions, to try and get a minimum-wage job. Got a job with twice the wages, by a restaurant owner who noticed the boy’s determination and intent quite accidentally. Everybody wins.

Photo by Fox59, story by the Daily Mail (UK)

The two above stories came to me thanks to my Facebook friend Annie Sisk. She’s a website specialist, and you can find her at Stage Presence Marketing.

Saving Lives Quietly

And below is another tear jerker. This man (now Sir Nicholas Winton) arranged trains and homes in England for Czech kids (mostly Jewish) who were certainly going to otherwise be sent to Nazi Death Camps. Most of them lost their parents at Auchwitz.

He saved 669 children and kept logs of their names. He said nothing about it afterward.

His wife found his log book, apparently. In 1988 there was a reunion of sorts. Here he gets to meet a few dozen of the kids he rescued, after they grew up. He did not expect or know this was coming. Wonderful.

You must watch at least the first 2 – 1/2 minutes. Really, you must.

Don’t be content in your life just to do no wrong.
Be prepared everyday to try and do some good.
Sir Nicholas Winton

Be Your Own Best Sweetheart – Nurture Yourself

Thursday, February 14th, 2013

It’s Valentine’s Day today. It’s also Self-Nurturing Day, a better idea yet. I know that this can be a rough day for a lot of people. I have empathy. I’m giving you this bouquet of flowers in thanks for being in my life!

At this time of my life, I’ve been very lucky to have Brian in my life. We are known for singing love songs, which offers us a rich choice of music.

The Joy of Self
I was single in my 30′s and I learned to take good care of myself. Being single was actually a powerful time. I learned to stand tall, to make my own decisions, to fix broken things. I bought myself a humble but lovely house, with my own signature.

If you are single (or not) today, please find something that you can do, to nurture and love yourself. Connect with those who are important to you. Find a furry animal and pet it? Take a long bath? Eat a favorite food? Make a phone call to a loved one? Put on your favorite clothes? Paint your nails? Go for a walk?

My Gifts to You
Today I hope to give you a little gift of my own. Click Here to Hear April Showers by the Fabulous Heftones.

They say that there are three sorts of Love Songs: 1) I wish I were in love; 2)  I’m in love and it’s wonderful; 3) I used to be in love and I wish I still was. The Fabulous Heftones stick to category 2 most of the time. However, April Showers is a “keep the faith” song. It’s not about love, it’s about life.

“When April Showers, they come your way,
They bring the flowers that bloom in May,
So if it’s raining, have no regrets,
Because it isn’t raining rain, you know, it’s raining Violets.

So when you see clouds upon the hills,
You soon will see crowds of daffodils,
So keep on looking for a bluebird,
And listening for his song,
Whenever April Showers Come Along.”

I love you. Thanks for being a part of my community. Please love yourself in some way today, no matter which sort of love song you might be singing.

No! A Tribute and Memories

Monday, January 28th, 2013

Noooooooo! Now John Pollard died.

I was John’s secretary for a while, and he treated me SO well, utmost respect. He was a man with many opinions, and you might well disagree but you never had to guess where he stood.

We worked together for about a year at the Black Child and Family Institute (I worked there 1989-1994), one of the most incredible jobs I ever had. I was the only “white” person on full time staff. I was interviewed by a panel of 5 staff members, so I knew when I was chosen that they really did choose me. I’d not felt that welcome at any job before.

I had short hair those days. My hair is naturally straight as a pin and I wanted it to have some energy. I went out one day for a long lunch to get my hair cut and permed. Came back with wavy hair and wet look Gel. Pollard took one look at me and said “Sister got a Jheri Curl!” I knew then that I really belonged.

When I knew John, I was coming out of a 16 year relationship which had turned both of us into our worst selves. I was emotionally beat up by the stress. John sensed this, and somehow decided to nickname me “Cool.” He’d call me into his office… “Hey, Cool, can you come here for a minute?” and the like. I needed that nickname just then. I’m still grateful.

Last time I saw John, it was just before a local election. He was at the corner of 496 and Saginaw at the empty gas station with a sign, asking people to honk if they agreed with him. I pulled up, rolled down the window and shouted “Hey Pollard!” He perked right up.

His grandma raised him to stand for his beliefs. To really put his life behind what he stood for. Agree or disagree, he did really live that way.

(He was a “regular” at Lansing City Council meetings. He had opinions and statistics to back them up. He was a powerhouse, or thorn in your side, depending on what opinion you had that day. He had the respect, though, of those who disagreed. I made the Pow! image here in his honor.)

Two deaths in a week, folks. I’m tired of crying.

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PostScript: MLive did a nice write up on John, here: http://ow.ly/hde72

PPS: Lansing State Journal wrote about John here: http://ow.ly/hdjbr

PPPS: Lansing City Pulse did a nice job 12/31 here: http://ow.ly/hjWWe

Crushed. Just Devastated.

Wednesday, January 23rd, 2013

TorontoI’m crushed. Reverend Mrs. Lynn Grimes died. She was my church youth director from the time I was 7 till I was graduated… and then later when she had become a pastor, she married me and the love of my life, Brian Hefferan.

I did see her at her retirement celebration. I wrote her a letter of deep gratitude. In particular, the fact that she took us to big cities made a huge impact on my life, and my inner self. If you’ve followed me much at all, you know this is true. My 2 week living stint in Montreal last summer, had its first inkling of life in the 70s, in trips with my youth groups.

She took us in 6th grade, to Detroit where she grew up. We met people at her Methodist Church in downtown Detroit, where more people had dark skin than light. She loved the grand and beautiful church (with a full pipe organ and gorgeous windows), and the people there.

Since my middle school had 5 black kids total out of about 650 kids, she did us a favor to let us know that the world wasn’t all just like our suburban lives. My community was made up of professors and their families (European and Asian, mostly) and not much else. No fast food, no mall until 1972, not much commerce other than a few family-owned stores: pharmacy, hardware, two groceries.

My Biggest Gratitude
Kensington MarketIn 1975, 1.5 years after my father died, Lynn and husband Kip took 15 children that were not their own… without any other chaperones… to Toronto, Canada. I remember that they were building the CN Tower at the time.

My life turned around on a dime during that trip. I fell in love with the skyscrapers, the subway, the art museums and the bustle. The fashions were different, too. And the food… Lynn & Kip took us to a Hungarian place, a Chinese place where they actually spoke Chinese, and the Kensington market.

Subway Car(An aside… in the neighborhood called Kensington Market, a fruit vendor who was perhaps Greek or Arabic, figured out how green and gullible we were. He told us he would sell us his son for “a good price.” We were horrified!)

I would NOT be the person I am today if Lynn Grimes had not been in my life. I’m deeply, deeply sad for her loss. Thank you for allowing me to share.

Photos: Toronto modern hotel next to gorgeous old church. Kensington Market neighborhood. Toronto subway/trolley riders.