Monday, August 30, 2004

Not My Fridge

I just returned from a week at my parents' house and it was full of bittersweet moments.

There were several motives behind the trip. First, it was time to drop niece Kati off at the dorms of San Francisco State University. She is such a cool chica and one of the best old-school tattoo illustrators I've ever seen. (She's not inking skin, but she's famous for her Sharpie marker tattoo transformations on her pals).

Then we met friend Mo's little baby who is an absolute doll. That was my original reason to go up. Getting our kids together was this amazing arc that celebrated our lives. Our parents had grown up together in Oakland, and we grew up together and now our kids were rolling around together on the lawn. (The lawn at my brother's house which he shares with his wife Suzanne who was Mo's roommate who became my roommate who fell in love with my brother who is now my friend/sister in law and mother of my
beautiful niece. Got that?) I bought matching leopard outfits for the three baby girls and we did a sassy girl photo shoot which was akin to herding cats.

These were the fun moments. Then I totally screwed everything up by sticking my nose where it didn't belong.

I was looking for something in my parents' fridge when I got the brilliant idea to check the expiration date on everything in there and dispose of what I deemed inedible and a threat to public health.

This is an annoying and intrusive habit I have when I go back home, and it bugs the holy crap out of my mom. I've never taken her protestations seriously because I thought that deep down inside she was grateful for the clearing. I look at it as the forest fire of household organization.
Lots of destruction but look how clean the hill is!

Well, she didn't appreciate it and found nothing amusing or helpful with my actions. In fact she was pissed.

So she said something, then I said something then she felt bad then I felt bad...

I can't tell you how badly life sucks when you go all this way to see family and then something happens that casts a wet blanket on the festivities.

AND... it was all my fault.

I was feeling rejected and misunderstood, the whole routine I play in my head when I don't want to 'fess up that I was at fault.The painful lesson I learned was that:

1. I grew up in that house but it doesn't belong to me. It belongs to my parents.

2. How they choose to keep their fridge is their business, not mine.

3. Unless asked, I am not to offer helpful gestures or unsolicited advice.

Really what happened was that at age 39 I realized that the apron strings no longer fit. I have my own home, my own family. I am not the little girl of the family, I am not cute little Nancy who can throw stuff out then justify it with a wink and a giggle. My mom is the matriarch of her home and I'm not.

This may sound like duh and obvious, but it was something different for me. I never considered my parents' home just theirs. I felt like I still had a stake in it.

I still have my high school yearbooks in a closet there, I still have a portfolio of beginning paintings in a closet. There are probably tons ofother things I have stashed around there, but when push comes to shove, it's their house.

I felt homeless and alone and absolutely devastated for a while. I had a lot of feelings to work out. I talked to a good friend and wrote. I drove up and down the MacArthur Freeway playing the scenario out in my head. Then later that evening I called my mom and apologized.

That was another huge deal but it healed me.

Although I physically moved out of that house over twenty years ago, my head still resided there. The result of this trip was to collect the last of my emotional bags and bring them home to where I am now. I think of the transitions that occurred over this week: niece to college, girlfriends to momfriends, child to adult.

Home is where the heart is, they say.
I thought it was in that green house I grew up in...

I guess it's wherever I decide it to be.

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

With the Folks

My sister, my daughter, my niece and I had a lovely, uneventful trek up California Hwy 5. So here we are at la casa de los parents enjoying life.

It has been a nonstop whirlwind, much different than my last trip up here. Lots of stuff going on that must be dealt with:

1. Niece Kati (the one who was on Design on a Dime) just started at my alma mater, San Francisco State University. We moved her into the dorms which was a huge job, but the little coed is safe and secure in her new home. I woke up the next day worried about her... what if her alarm doesn't go off, what if she loses her schedule, what if she gets homesick? I'm not even her mother and I'm worried. Imagine what her mom is feeling!

Kati is a wonderful artist who marches to the beat of her own drummer. She is full of awkwardness, innocence and cynicism, a truly artistic combination. I just want everyone to send good thoughts her way and help her get through the adjustment period. I think she's going to find her groove at SFSU.

2. Good friend Mo is coming out here from Austin, TX with her new baby, Bridget (Bridie). Mo and I have known each other since first grade and have remained friends ever since. Suz, Mo and I all went to SFSU together and our lives have been intertwined as a threesome for almost 20 years. We all had babies in the past year or so, first Citlalli , then Suz had Elizabeth now Mo has Bridie. We couldn't have planned it better. This will be the first time we're all assembled w/ kids. Citlalli has been practicing "gentle" for the past couple of weeks so she doesn't overwhelm the little little ones too much. We'll get together later this week and I can't wait.

In the meantime, La Jefe Lorinda of Bella Brava and I are finally going to meet face to face and that is beyond cool. I'm going out there on Thursday. If you haven't tried her Cucumber Facial Tonic you must run and not walk to Bella Brava and get yourself some. I had an out of body experience, as in "this can't possibly be the skin on MY face". The thoughts that pass through our heads as 40 looms on !

So today Citlalli and I hope to get a little shopping done. We're on our own today as Grandma and Auntie must dash over to SFSU and deliver a few more items to niece Kati in the dorms. Tomorrow we have a big lunch date w/ familia, a major girl party with a newborn baby all the way up to my 90 year old aunt.

btw, we revisited the Scrabble game and both TML and I ceded to Bunny. Low blood sugar, tired, crabby, we just couldn't bear it so we ran off crying like a couple of distraught kittiies.

Asi es la vida!

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Overdeliver Overwhelm

Seems like everyone is parading under the flag of "Underpromise, Overdeliver". But what may seem like overdelivering to one person might feel like an overwhelming dump to another.

If you've ever had the surreal experience of going to one of those day after Thanksgiving Super Sales at 5am, you're lured by promises of "goodie bags", "super discounts", "free TVs", and the like.

Now most folks are intrigued by the possible savings so they hunker out of bed at 4am, still hungover from too much food the day before, and head off down to their local big box store thinking they're getting something really cool for practically nothing.

"We Overdeliver!" promise the ads.

So what do you walk away with? A bag of soap samples, a big discount on merchandise that isn't really that great and a free TV that is so cheap it becomes a doorstopper within a few months.

I'm seeing a lot of "Overdelivering" on people's websites, particularly in the free download department. I must say, I come from the "if it's free you take it" school (a mantra drilled into me by my mother, who must have carried that message from growing up in the depression).

I order stuff and as a thank you I get tons of free stuff, "valued at over $1500!". Hmmm, let's break it down.

* A consultation with someone who would probably give me a free consult anyway.
* A reprint of an article that I already saw on a free ezine
* A 200 page manual filled with lots of white space, large clip art and 24 point font.
* A buy one get one free deal for something I probably could live without.

I'm not being cynical and I understand that there are a lot of really great resources out there. But my hard drive is so full of free workbooks and downloads and special reports and surefire hits and .... the list goes on.

I start to feel a bit duped after a while. You know how it is when a friend is moving and you end up going home with boxes and boxes of their old junk? Or when someone takes a present that they didn't want, rewraps it and gives it to you? It's that same feeling of letdown.

When I see these "value adds" of free stuff I get all excited. Wow, they are saving me so much time and energy! Then I get them and I realize that there isn't a whole lot to it. And because I prefer reading things from paper and not on my computer screen, I print them out and then I feel bad for all the trees that suffered just for this information.

What does overdeliver really mean?

To me, it isn't about filling my cart with as much junk as I can just because it's free. It's about knowing that someone else cares about me and isn't trying to buy me off with a bunch of words on paper.

I have so many cheap nylon "backpacks" that I've gotten for subscribing to certain magazines. They think that's overdelivering but all I get is a ripped backpack at the worst possible moment.

Last year a bank royally screwed up some paperwork of mine and I complained. A few days later a big Harry and David fruit, cookies, tea goodie basket arrived on my doorstep. Every time I go into the bank the people are courteous and offer me a beverage, ask how my family is, remember nice things about me.

They don't need to do that but they do. Great customer service is a form of overdelivering.

My coach Barbara overdelivers to me. I have access to her 24/7, whether by email or phone. She flexes her policies to meet my needs. That keeps me coming back. She doesn't have to send me free stuff, she gives me what I need: knowing that I'm taken care of and not just a number.

To me, overdelivering is a frame of mind. It's about availability, caring, treating me like a human being. It's not sending me tons and tons of papers or free crud that I don't find particularly useful anyhow.

People are too time starved to sift through the pages and pages of special reports and free downloads. What they need is human connection, genuine caring and concern.

That's the overdelivering that I crave.

Monday, August 16, 2004

Spam, Finches... there's just so much going on here

OK, in my last post, which due to the bizarre nature of blogging you must read on to see, I complained about the Spam problem w/ my email. I neglected to mention that I finally got a spam filter called Spam Inspector and it's working well. I tried Spam Assassin a few months ago and hated it... you had to read your email from their website and it was a big headache.

That doesn't mean I no longer receive 2 billion cryptic messages about refinancing my home, buying pharmaceuticals in Canada and the old standby, Viagra. (I'm curious to see what Google Adsense banner is running at the top of this page considering these hot key words!)

OK, I must get off this negative perch and focus on a more positive one. Speaking of perches, that reminds me of the finches.

A while back, I told you about the finch feeder I got myself for Mother's Day. After more than a month and several expensive solutions, I finally got finches to come to my feeder.

For about three weeks we had one, maybe two. They're cute little birdies, yellow-green feathers with black wings. Very green hornet in the color scheme area.

Then one or two more would come by, I'd see them more frequently...

Then suddenly one day there were about 10 of these little critters feeding on the special finch food that costs $40 for a 25 pound bag.

They devoured the contents of the feeder in one day. That was pretty fast. I went back to the bird store to get more food and asked the resident finch expert if this was a seasonal behavior, if they were going to be that busy on my feeder... he told me that finches live here all year round, that yes this was what happens when you put an attractive bird feeder outside and then he proceeded to tell me about the incredible diversity of California's wild bird population.

So I wanted finches, I asked for finches and I got finches!
Tons of little finches and they are amazing. Their cuteness makes up for their expensive eating habits and now we have doves hanging around in the late afternoon, stealing finch food and taking up lots of space on the feeder.

In addition to all that, we still have a prolific hummingbird feeder out front and a new passionflower plant (indigo) attracts a gorgeous butterfly.

Park a unicorn out front and I'd have a wonderland of sorts!

Don't think I live in some wooded area or enchanted meadow. I live in Southern California, a jampacked metropolitan area with donut shops and trendy tattoo parlors in every strip mall. But we managed to carve out a bit of wild space for our winged friends and that's all good with me.

Sunday, August 08, 2004

Spam Hell: My Version of Open Water


Does anyone hear my cry for help?

I haven't seen the movie "Open Water" (don't really plan on), but judging from the previews, the reviews and the trailer, I get the gist: couple goes out on diving expedition, get left behind, must fend for selves in open water. I'm going out on a limb here, but since it's based on a true story I assume that someone lived to tell the story.

I feel left behind just about everyday when I'm on my computer, especially when checking my email.

This whole "Can Spam Act" is a bunch of mierda if you ask me. Today is Sunday, a day I usually don't work but I thought I'd do an early morning email scan before the baby woke up.

Inbox: 1237 emails.
By the time it scanned all the messages, the internet connection timed out. It took so long just to find out that nobody emailed me with anything crucial, but for some reason I thought that out of 1237 there had to be at least something I could sink my teeth into.

So for the time being, I'm doing an email check on Sunday mornings and evenings. What a drag! Can someone tell me what happened to email?

Thursday, August 05, 2004

Chispas Light My Fire

Chispa means spark and that is also the name of my super coaching circle that meets every Wednesday at 4pm Pacific Time.

This group has brought so much to me and to each other. What amazes me more than anything is how EACH PERSON in the group, without ever meeting beforehand, without any conjuring or selecting before I came into the scene, HAD SOMETHING EXTREMELY VALUABLE to offer someone else in the group.

Suzanne is an original Chispa, a veterana in the coaching circle. She bonded and loved the original Chispa circle and was sad to see our original Chispas Diana and Ellen move on. How could we ever replace that synergy? I was worried that any other incarnation would fail.

Then I received word from two complete and total strangers, Maria and Ruth. They were both interested in the Chispa circle. We started off and from day one, Chispa sparks flew.

Ruth has a wonderful idea for a culturally based media project. Coincidentally, Suzanne has an extensive background in media and production and was able to give Ruth specific information to get her project going.

Coincidence or the work of the all so powerful Inner Loca?

Suzanne has this wonderful idea to spread dreamy story snippets and haikus to the world on cool, relaxing items. Ruth and Maria each gave Suzanne valuable feedback on their favorite surreal dreams Suzanne wrote and encouraged her when "administrivia" and the like crept in.

Maria is an enormously gifted artist who came into the group with reservations of putting her work out there. Within three months of being a Chispa, Maria produced 15 new paintings, was selling her work like hotcakes, launched new products for the home.... and so much more. (Does this woman not require sleep, I wondered...)

Meanwhile, Ruth overcame this huge block to being organized and is currently experiencing the domino effect of inspiration... the creative surge in one part of life seeped into all others. She is now recarpeting, repainting the whole house! The Mexican kitchen of her dreams is on the way and there is no stopping this Chispa.

Suzanne, whose creativity is boundless, was having trouble paring down her many ideas to name her product. She floated names out to the group, but finally the other day a name struck that sounded so authentic, so THERE for her that everyone unanimously supported her.

The beauty of this group is the total honesty and unwavering support offered.

At the request of the group, the focus for August will be tweaking and refining our creative mission statements. These are living documents that change occasionally, but constantly reinforce and emphasize our special gifts to the world.

Sadly, Maria just left our group because of a scheduling conflict. That won't keep us from calling her, emailing her and getting updates on her latest pieces. The bond we created will remain.

That means that we have space for more Chispas. Are you interested in turning your idea into a plan, of connecting with other creative women and being part of a community that honors and accepts you as a creative soul?

Let me know. Email me and I'll gladly explain the process for signing up, or you can visit the coaching circle webpage on my website.