Monday, January 30, 2012

Caring For The Skin I'm In

by Shinazy

I decided to come here.  I’ve been coming here every 5 weeks for 20 years.  Even when I was unemployed I came here.  During those lean months, I terminated my cable TV, walked rather than drove, removed any unnecessary expense so I could continue to come here.
Today, just like every other time before, I lay on a bed that contours my body . . . a bed of jumbo cotton balls.  The room is painted in a green that bears the undertones of everything in nature.  The ceiling is the color of the sky at the horizon and there’s a dome painted an enveloping shade of blue; it’s dotted with tiny LED lit holes.  I’m reminded of dusk in Tahoe after the last spring snowstorm.  As I stare into the ethereal sky, I see constellations, never the same ones, and maybe only imaged ones.  It’s easy to breathe. . .  I feel I’ve always been here, and during these 90 minutes, I’m disconnected from everything.
I’m also here so that Liza can renovate my skin.  She is a beauty alchemist, a master aesthetician.  Liza applies masks, serums, mists, creams, and uses the latest technology in skin care.  She removes boulders when I’ve been in the desert for weeks, peels layers of residue from gallons of sunscreen and sweat when I train for a marathon, evens my skin tone after days of mid-summer solar exposure.  I emerge restored. 
Skin care is part of my family’s DNA.  My grandmother was a Noxzema Girl.  She toted the cobalt blue jar everywhere.  During our annual Buck’s Lake vacation, she would even smear Noxzema onto the face of her favorite stable horse, who had a skin condition.  By the end of our stay, the horse’s skin was radiant, just like my grandmother’s.
My mom used Pond’s Cold Cream – “an evolution to skin care.”  I remember her using it to clean her face in the morning, laying the foundation for her “paint,” and removing the make-up at night.  She always receives complements on her skin – claiming it is all due to her dedication to her skin care routine and Pond’s.
Does all this attention to skin care make us appear younger?  Well, my grandmother always appeared old, because she was . . .  my grandmother.  My mom never appears old, because she is an accomplished make-up artist.  I appear - my age.  So, why all this devotion to our skin?  Why do I continue to come here?
I like clean skin.  I want my skin to reflect my good inside health on the outside.  And, when I look you in the eye, your eyes see just that . . . great skin.
Thank you Liza!  I’ll see you in 5 weeks.
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You can find Liza at

photo by Craighton Miller

Friday, January 27, 2012

FOLLOWER Friday: Ode to Bobbi’s Eyebrows

  This was written by Roberta ‘Bobbi’ Rankin

Yo, eyebrows where have you gone? 
I see less and less of you every day 
You let me down
You betrayed me
I have a few words for you...... 
In my youth you were strong,
Arched and nicely dark brown. 
You were the envy of my friends
So easy to care for, too. 
I could wink and flirt with confidence
Having the fullness of the perfect brows.
Today, I must color you when I color my hair
I’ve become a slave to my eyebrow pencil. 
Oh, too much pencil color or too little?
This becoming the ongoing morning battle.
Now, more than ever as age begins
To try and take you away,
I need you. 
I need you to be strong
I need you be of color,
To help me face the world
I want you eyebrows to stay the same
And not let me down...
Not disappoint or betray me...
You know what I talkin’ about?
Alas, at this time in my life,
Have I not more fun and important things to do
Than to pour such pity onto myself,
Over eyebrows?
I think I do. 
I think I'll put my cap on
Go for a long walk along the lagoon
Enjoy the world
Enjoy my life as it is today. 
I know for a fact that I have today,
Faded eyebrows 
You aren't important any more.
I think I'll save myself this grief
Simply say no more,
About my eyebrow betrayal, that is. 
For as sure as I'm sitting here
I do have more important things to talk about
About  __________________
- - - -

Bobbi departed for her first Hawaiian vacation before she could finish... So, I invite you - How would you complete her ode?  Please post a Comment or email me and I'll post your completion to ‘Ode to Bobbi's Eyebrows’.  Have fun!
    photo by Bobbi

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

WISDOM Wednesday: “The Great Squirrel Wars”

  This story was written by Malati Marlene Shinazy

This is a true story… I have to tell it. Of course I changed the names -- I treasure my friendships, all of them. -- ms

“So, you think tree squirrels are beautiful?” exclaimed Jim to Walt and me over coffee. "Well, a bunch of them live in the pine trees in my back yard.”

(As he became more animated, I started to pay attention… this is going to be an interesting story.)

He continues, sputtering, almost in one breath:

“I hate these squirrels! They come scuttling down the utility wires and jump into my trees.  Now these aren’t little trees, they’re 60 feet tall! They’re the most beautiful pine trees in the neighborhood. So yesterday, I went to the sporting goods store and spent $200 on a pellet gun.”

(‘Please, please, NO’, I say to myself… I know where this story is going and I’m not sure I really want to hear the rest of it.)

“Those squirrels. You know what they do, don’t you? They go up into my trees, sit up there, pull off the green pinecones and shred them with their teeth to get to the seeds.”

(Are these the seeds we city folks call pine nuts?  I had to ask him to tell me more.)

“So, they sit up there, these squirrels, shredding the pinecones to get to the seeds, which are inside something that looks like an apple core. Stuff showers off the pinecones onto my driveway, sidewalk and front porch. I’m sweeping two to three times a day.”

“I hate it. I had to buy an extra-heavy duty broom too.”

“Plus, every year, I hire a pruning guy to thin out the trees. I tell him, ‘Don’t come down until you’ve taken off EVERY pinecone!’ This costs me $1500 bucks. … If I skip a year, those squirrels come back, the shredding comes back and the sweeping comes back.”

“Today, I sat out there on a lawn chair in the front yard, waiting for them to be visible up there in those trees.”

(A new image pops into my head. Guerrilla warfare: Man vs. Squirrel.)

“I’m waiting out there with my pellet gun, waiting for them to be visible, which they never are….  They just sit up there yacking at me. I can never see them. They’re up there laughing!”

My other friend, Walt, is now tallying the cost of this battle:

  • Pruning, $1500
  • Heavy-duty broom, $50 plus tax
  • Pellet gun, $200
  • If the police hear:
  • Time in jail
  • Bail to get out of jail
  • Court fees
  • Attorney fee
  • Huge fine
“It’s getting a bit expensive”, he laughs…

(Jim’s account of The Great Squirrel Wars is at once hilariously funny and a tad crazy, I think… I use to rake leaves daily for months every autumn. How can this squirrel stuff be any worse? What’s the big deal? … Although the situation is clearly exasperating for him, he’s enjoying the telling and I’m enjoying his sincere narration.)

(Verbally stumbling with laughter, I naively ask some variation of a line from Mars Attacks!  “So why can’t you all just get along?”)

His response, “Because they don’t sweep and clean up after themselves!”

(I sit there, more than a bit perplexed. I truly have nothing to say… I suddenly realize -- I really don’t understand war at all.)

-  -  -  -  -

All of our animal friends remain safe and happy. ~ shinazy (BOBB's founder)

photo by Gilles Gonthier

Monday, January 23, 2012


by Shinazy

I have a younger sister and of course, that made me ‘Big Sister'.  Yes, I bossed her, taught her, protected her, and learned all her secrets and dreams. 
We did all the things sisters do: dressed each other’s dolls, we wore each other’s sweaters, hid under each other’s bed covers reading fan magazines.  We lived together for only 14 years (the math: me 3 when sister arrived on the scene, me gone after I graduated from high school).  When I think about it, 14 years is a very short time to know someone as deeply as I know my sister.  Or so, I thought.
What I’m realizing now, is that there’s much about my sister, Malati, that I am just now discovering and there is much we have in common that was previously unknown to me.
You and I have read her stories over the past three weeks on Wisdom Wednesday.  During this time, you and I have come to know her, and she has revealed aspects of her personality that I read and exclaimed, “Hey, that’s me, too.”
Last Wednesday, in What’s So Great About Mentoring?” she said, “So, as we now know is typical for me, I just plunged in" . . .  That line describes me, too!  As I read her words, I thought of my earliest memory of when I-plunged-in.  It was more literal then figurative - It was when I learned to swim, or rather how I learned to stop drowning.
I was 9.  At a motel in Redding.  It was midweek and the pool area was empty, just me and all that fatal, forbidding water.  For the previous five years, my aunt had tried to teach me to swim and for five summers, I drowned.  But, on that day, it was time for me to plunge in and so I did.  Standing at the deep end, alone, toes creeping closer and closer to the edge until only my heels remained connected to the safe solid earth.  Well, I am here telling you this story, so there was no drowning that day.  And because of the success of that plunge I repeated that behavior – We, the sisters, repeat that behavior.
Starting this blog is my latest plunge: one day I'm talking to my daughter, who encouraged my wild thought of fulfilling a dream to write. A short week later, I'm announcing to my sister that Bitchin’ Ol’ Boomer Babe was born.
For me this blog has become more than a way to express thoughts and tell stories.  It is a place for me to learn more about my sister . . . about being sisters.

  photo by Shinazy

Friday, January 20, 2012

FOLLOWER Friday: The Christmas Tree

  This story was written by Tammy Lewis

My mom always used to say that she enjoyed the Christmas tree best after Christmas was over.  Every year, for a few weeks after Christmas ended, my mom would come home from the store with a new batch of ornaments.  Rather than put them aside for the following season, she would unpack them and hang them immediately on our tree.
I remember watching her rearrange Christmas ornaments, balancing the lot just right until she was satisfied.  Her trees were artwork, and she was at her happiest crafting and dressing her trees.  She always smiled and whistled Christmas carols as she went about her work.  I asked her why she enjoyed the Christmas tree better after the holidays were over.  She observed that after the rush of the season, after all the presents were unwrapped, after all the guests left and all the cooking and cleaning were over, she could finally manage the time to just sit and admire the tree.
In many ways, I have followed in my mother’s footsteps.  Not surprisingly, I share her love for Christmas, and find myself sitting quietly and admiring the tree long after Christmas is over.  I realize I may be alone in my post-holiday appreciation of a decorated tree, but ultimately, I must permit myself to do it. 
There is often no rhyme or reason why we do or enjoy things just a little differently than other people. Happiness is not one event but countless and otherwise ordinary moments in our life - each one unique among a sea of individuals.  I am unabashed in my love of wintry and rainy weather, and do not await the return of the sun as I feel content at the sight of raindrops on the window.  Listening to music is an activity I enjoy as much as any other, but I enjoy it solely while driving my car. Other people may enjoy their cache of music while exercising or working at their computers, activities that I prefer to do in silence.  And further, reading – a verifiable passion rather than just a hobby for me - I take pleasure only while it is late at night, curled up in my bed, and with my dog snoring contentedly at my feet; I never feel inclined to read during the day, on the porch, on the couch, at a café or anywhere else.  
Sometimes, I am unsure if to admit my very slight eccentricities as I want to “blend” in with a crowd, but each of us has something subtly unique that brings us small pleasures for each person is patterned as distinctively as a snowflake in a sky of flurries.  Therefore, we should embrace ourselves and carry on, even if it is just adding decorations to the Christmas tree after the start of a new year.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

WISDOM Wednesday: “What’s So Great About Mentoring?”

 This story was written by Malati Marlene Shinazy

I read once that successful people have at least one mentor in their career.  Sounded like a great formula: Get a mentor; become successful. So, when I was a young boomer, I went hunting for a mentor.

George F. Simons is an expert in the field of diversity and cross-cultural communication. His list of accomplishments is long and impressive. By the time I met him, he had written books, developed award winning training games, taught at universities and had a thriving international consulting and training practice.

As is typical for me, I just called him up and asked if he would be my mentor. I was thoroughly shocked when he agreed so readily. He had but one requirement: I make a commitment to myself and to the field of diversity to learn everything he had to offer. What I didn’t realize at the time was, he was offering to share with me literally everything he knew.

Each day for an entire summer, I drove two hours round trip over a notoriously twisty mountain highway to spend time with him. I absorbed all the information, knowledge and nuances of insight I could… The experience was simultaneously thrilling and formidable.

 And, I swear… I grew from a newbie into a junior expert in just a few months. This one change in my life had to be the reason: George was mentoring me.

When I decided I was ready to strike out on my own, I put into practice everything George taught me… Voila, I became successful too. -- Actually, I was more than a bit amazed. Could it be the mentoring? I thought so at the time. Now, I know so…

A few years ago, with a new job, I inherited a millennial generation employee who was, I was told, “like a sponge,” continually soaking up information to grow professionally.

Ah – ha, I thought… You know where this story is going, right?  What did this woman need to boost her to the next level of success?  Yup, mentoring.

So, as we now know is typical for me, I just plunged in and asked Nikie if I could be her mentor. She quickly agreed, as George had done so many years prior.

For the next two years, I shared all the knowledge I had about the field of learning and workforce development, including cross-cultural aspects, metrics, project management… I mean, everything. I shared what I knew about the industry in which we worked, economic cycles, key success factors to competitive advantage and corporate cultures. Everything.

Mentoring became one of the favorite aspects of my job. I watched Nikie develop from a young professional into a seasoned pro who could take each project offered and run with it to successful completion.

Mentoring grew me. And now, mentoring was growing another individual. When Nikie told me she was looking for a new job, I was thrilled. She was ready to strike out on her own… as I had decades ago.

Over the years, George, my mentor, became a valued life-long friend. Yesterday, he left for his home in France to write another book.

Tomorrow, my mentee leaves for her next career step… We promise to communicate regularly.

How wonderful it will be when one day I hear Nikie is mentoring someone too.

What’s So Great About Mentoring? For me… Everything!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The Scent of Roses

  by Joy Grude, author of Scandals of the Coachman’s Son

 I can still hear my grandmother’s husky voice, with that very distinctive New York accent, as she would describe in vivid detail magical stories of the “olden days.”  Her collection of memories were both sad and happy, with some full of mystery and intrigue.  By the time I was ten years old, I had heard all the family stories numerous times, but never seemed to tire of them.  On weekend sleepovers, I would beg to hear them again and again, knowing that they were true family legends.  My grandmother Bella recited these stories from her youth, recalling some very interesting life experiences.  One of my favorites was a mysterious tale about “the scent of roses.”

Isabella (Bella) Mischke was the middle child born to German immigrant parents, Henry and Emma Mischke, in the fall of 1898.   The family had settled in the slums of Yorkville, a poor German neighborhood of New York City. Of the couple’s ten children, only six survived into adulthood, as four of the unfortunate infants and toddlers succumbed to deadly diseases such as diphtheria and typhus.  It seemed that the lack of birth control was balanced out by the lack of medical science in those days, as childhood mortality rates were at an all-time high.  The grieving parents could only turn to their faith for comfort in coping with their losses and deep sorrow.  Bella’s mother, Emma, was a devout Catholic and prayed daily, looking up to the picture of the Blessed Virgin Mary that hung on the wall of their rundown apartment.

As the children grew up, the three girls and three boys relied on each other as playmates, best friends and confidants, as their close sibling relationship developed.  Times were tough, and they were very poor, but there were also many happy times together, including family picnics at Bronx Park, trips to the Botanical Gardens, and canoe races on the lake at Central Park.  The family always pulled together as a strong supportive unit, especially during the hard times.  When Henry had died suddenly in 1907 at the young age of 46, Emma again relied on her religion to carry her through, not knowing how she and the children would survive without their main breadwinner.  Her worries were somewhat eased when the community took up a collection and saved the family from starvation and destitution.  Never losing faith in God, Emma often spoke about life in the “hereafter.”  She truly believed that the soul lives on after death, and tried to reassure her family that they would all be together again in heaven. 

One day while sitting around the dinner table, Emma made a surprising statement to her adolescent and grown children.  “When I am dead and gone, I will send a signal to let you know that I am watching over you.”  With widened eyes, they inquired as to what her signal could possibly be.  Emma thought about it for a few moments, then remembered her favorite flower…  “I will come back in the scent of roses!”

Emma had died of natural causes in 1941, but her memory lived on.  Ten years later, the Mischke brothers and sisters, with their wives, husbands and children were gathered together on Christmas Eve at the home of the oldest daughter, Hilda, in Roselle Park, New Jersey.  It was bitterly cold on this December night of 1951, with snow falling lightly outside.  Everyone had arrived, and there was much laughter and lively conversation among the adults and children, some speaking in German if the subject was not suitable for young ears.  Suddenly there was a loud knock on the door.  They all looked at each other, trying to figure out who was missing from the party, but were bewildered.  Hilda, as the hostess, said she would answer the door, commenting as she walked away, “I wonder who it could be!”  She opened the heavy oak door that let in a gust of wind.  When Hilda returned to her guests, her face was as pale as a ghost and she kept mumbling the same words over and over.  “It was Mama… it was Mama.” With all eyes fixed on Hilda, each slowly turned their heads in amazement as a sweet smell drifted through the house.  Sniffing the aromatic air, not a sound could be heard… until someone called out softly: “The scent of roses!”

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You can enjoy more of Joy's writing by reading Scandals of the Coachman’s Son

Monday, January 16, 2012

MUSIC Monday: Please sing me your authograph!, Part 3 of 3

Written by Daryl Allison

We love our sports. We want our kids to be active. We encourage them with family activities and outings. We reward them by sending them to school for their athletic potential. We celebrate amateur stars before they ever turn professional.

Quick, name the last amateur musician drafted number one overall?

None? Okay, an easier one for you then: Name five aspiring musicians at your local university.

Try asking your coworkers those same questions. See how many can answer. I bet you won’t have any trouble finding coworkers who can name more than five local university athletes.

Imagine a world… Where next to every new basketball court we put in there was also a covered nook housing a grand piano. (Major sporting events use an organ to get the crowd excited, so why not?) Where every school bus stop had a karaoke machine. Where every playground had various string instruments scattered among the playscape: a harp next to the big spinning blocks, to explore notes like they do with shapes and colors; a horn at the top of the slide to announce to the world that the cavalry is coming! Where schools required 30 minutes of music education each day like they do for PE. Think about that for a minute. Students are required to jog, required to learn how to play various games. Music is known to directly benefit learning. And yet… music classes are an elective at best, for schools that can still afford to offer them.

As babies, we sing along before we can throw. We dance before we can run. Play music for a baby and see a smile. Put on a ball game and … well … hopefully the noise won’t induce crying. There’s no learning curve for appreciating music. We don’t need to have played it before we can feel how it moves us. Labor strife can shut down seasons. Life goes on just fine when those sports are paused. Imagine though if every MP3 player and every radio went on an extended strike.

Perhaps it’s time to re-evaluate our priorities.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

WISDOM Wednesday: “A Room of My Own?” Part One

   This story was written by Malati Marlene Shinazy

“A Room of My Own?” Part One

In 1929, the writer Virginia Woolf published an extended essay entitled, “A Room of One’s Own.” Without digging too far into the actual content, philosophy or critique of this collection of lectures, the idea of having “A Room of One’s Own” in which to pursue one’s interests has taken some shape for many generations of women in our family. Many of the women in my grandmothers’ generation had a room of one’s own…

Each one of these women “owned” the kitchen. Make no doubt about it. When they were cooking, we stayed away… serious creative business, cooking. Only my grandfather and uncle, professional chefs in their own right, were allowed to peek into these castles of dominion. The commoners: kids, young moms and dads, had to stay away – far away. When the meal was prepared and ready for presentation, we were summoned.

One of my grandmothers was a potter, then a glazer, then a jewelry artist. On her land was not just a room of one’s own. She had an entire building dedicated to her artistic pursuits. It was called her pottery house: A little two room cottage, with plenty of windows, Dutch-doors on both ends, wheels, kilns, shelves of all sorts of potions – or so it seemed to me. I think they were actually chemicals she mixed to develop different glazes for her work. In her of jewelry making era, much of the equipment was re-purposed for creating molds for melting gold. This was more than a “room of one’s own.” This was an alchemist’s studio.

One of my female relatives had no need for a room of one’s own. What she did need, however, was closet space. Lots and lots of closet space for her lots and lots of dresses --- First, she filled the walk-in closet that covered the length of her master bedroom. Then, as each of her children left the nest, she swept in hawk-like and claimed their closet as her own. Comically, when she retired and had an entire home of her own, she still needed more closet space than the house could bear. I once measured 16-1/2 feet of additional over-the-door hangers for her clothes… Creativity seems to take many forms.
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And the story continues, click on  
to continue reading  “A Room of My Own?” Part Two

"A Room of My Own?” Part Two

  This story was written by Malati Marlene Shinazy

. . .  Part Two . . .

I never had what could be called a room of one’s own. I use to feel cheated by this.

When I was a young, accomplished, award-winning seamstress, the only space in which I could work was my family’s living room. I would spread out my patterns, fabrics  (yards and yards of wools, satins, velvets) scissors and pins across the living room floor. When the cutting was complete, I’d gather all the myriad pieces of a soon-to-be evening gown, cocktail dress or coat into a careful pile, carry it away in a box and clean the room for public use. I’d transport it all to the sewing machine in my mother’s room; sew for a few hours then, clean up again. I’d store all stages of my sewing projects on the foot of my bed; drag it out again, day after day, until the project was done.

I loved the time I had no room but a house full of kids. They were everywhere; their stuff was everywhere; their friends were everywhere. Oh yes, their cats, dogs, bunnies and birds were everywhere also.

I was there too, without the coveted room of one’s own. When they were very young, their dad and I often had to leave the master bedroom because the bed was filled with our kids. Dad had a great idea, however, and built small beds at the foot and sides of the master bed so each child could be near us, but in their own “nest.”  …. Nope, this was definitely not a room of one’s own.

As the kids got older, although their dad and I divorced, we decided to have one house in which the kids would live. He and I would come and go. The kids wouldn’t have to schlep their stuff back and forth to each parent’s house on odd weekdays or alternate weekends. The divorced parents rotated, not the kids. Their environment remained stable for them…. Oh yes, when I vacated the house every other weekend and Dad came in, I’d empty “my” room and he’d take over…. Yes indeed, still, no room of one’s own.

Now my kids are grown. I have not just a room of one’s own. I have an entire house. I even have my own master bedroom with attached bathroom. I don’t share any room with anyone… At last, what I thought I always wanted has come to fruition. I have the ever-desired room of one’s own! Actually, I have lots and lots of rooms of my own!

But wait…. I recently realized something is missing… I only had to ask myself once, “What is missing?” The answer came quickly. What is missing is the family of my youth, with sisters and brothers tumbling around the rooms like puppies falling out of a basket. The family of my adulthood is missing too: kids and kids’ friends, pets, activity, noise, music, barking, laughter, giggling, phones constantly ringing. Did I miss anything? Probably… there’s a lot missing.

What I thought was so important all my life, a room of one’s own, is not actually something I want after all.  For me, all this space leaves a void. I don’t really care for it. Not one little bit.

I’ve decided, Ii’s time for me to fill up the void with new pets and small clusters of friends. Also, whenever possible (not just on holidays), I’m going to invite over my brother and sister. And, although they are scattered all over the world, I’m going to create new traditions so my almost-launched kids, and their friends, come over for gatherings -- filling the rooms with familiar laughter, chatting, and witty interchange.
For me, a room full of love and energy is much more satisfying than a room of one’s own.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Still Dreaming, Again – The Early Years

Still Dreaming, Again

by Shinazy
  I want to thank Sheri Robinson, Editor Babe for her help in telling this story

I’m standing in line at my local Starbucks waiting to order my current favorite: a semi healthy, grande-soy-latte-105*-no- foam latte (ahhh, ordering coffee is now such an adventure!)  Behind me are two young women discussing their future.  The tall one tells her friend, “Why don’t you just give up?  No one’s going to publish your poems.”  To this, the poet sighs, “But it’s my dream.”
Dreaming one thing; doing another.  I never failed at anything – (wink, wink ) . . . although - I may have been less successful at many things including being a poet laureate, published author, a professional writer.
I, too, wrote poems during those dark brooding adolescent years.  On 8 x 11 ½ inch lined binder paper, secured in a black plastic spiral notebook, I deposited lyrical expressions – images of the torture of being so misunderstood.  .  .  I, too, dreamt of publishing my work.  But, then my focus changed.  Boys distracted me and I postponed my dream.

In my 20s, I started writing a novel: a fictional tale of a young woman who had yet to discover her identity and her strength (goals, mind you, I had yet to discover within myself).  I titled the book, Imprisoned Shadow, an appropriate name for those anguish-filled, soul-searching, personality-developing years. However, this time, it was the joy (although time-consuming effort) of raising a family; Mom – my name, my title, my pseudonym - distracted me and I blissfully postponed my dream.

Then, the worst day of my life occurred . . . I had my 30th birthday!  Remember, we couldn’t trust anyone over 30 and now I was . . . .  Ouch . . .  30!  However, with my years of experience being a parent, I claimed a renewed faith in the future and I decided to write a child user guide - an updated version of the Dr. Spock's Baby & Child Care™.  It was to be an encyclopedia of sorts, providing all my practical “know how” of what to-do and when-to-do its, such as placing a plastic wading pool under the highchair when teaching a child how to drink from a cup; or laying a full-length mirror sideways on the floor so that a playmate was always in the room.  I typed and typed, and typed, one copy for me, one copy for my publisher.  But, inevitably, as, my “job” became a “career” - distracted I became, postponed became my dream.

Sometime during my early 40s, I was introduced to espresso.  As this new love affair began, a new problem presented itself:  where could I find great coffee outside my neighborhood?  Yes, I might find a mocha frappuccino here and there, but these locations were far and few between.  Ah, ha!  I saw a need for a coffee travel book.  And, of course, I was the perfect person to write the “Latte Highway.”  (After all, these were the prehistoric days before Starbucks and Pete’s Coffee became as essential to the very function of my life as sunshine, clean water, fresh air.)  But, alas, as time passed, the promise of the next best-selling travel guide became more and more faint, and then stilled altogether as the emergence of a new diversion reared its head: the birth of the Starbucks Gold Reward Card.  The almost sinister lure of endless ounces of this steamy black elixir and its flavorful accompaniments – all “free” with the right accumulation of “stars,” of course – had tempted me away from my original purpose.  I heard it whisper, “Why write when you can simply drink . . ., and enjoy all the rewards?”  I took the bait.  For years afterward, my caffeine-infused mind occasionally would ask.  “Now, where did I put that dream?”
Fast forward two decades and my dreams of publishing had morphed into mere quickly jotted-down fragments of informational tidbits . . . like the thought that catches the corner of your eye and vanishes when you look directly at it – was something really there?  No published poems, no great American novel, no guides, nor tales.  Instead, I focused my desire to write into composing clear-concise memos, well-crafted business strategies, procedures, emails, texts.
I wonder, did my desire to write – really write - ever fade away?  Or, did it remain crouching behind my memories and to-do lists.  Can I resurrect my dream?  Is it ever too late? 
Nay, it’s never too late. 
Today is a new day and here I sit at my computer . . . typing, writing, telling stories.
And, still dreaming, again!

Monday, January 9, 2012

MUSIC Monday: Please sing me your autograph! – Part 2 of 3

Written by Daryl Allison

You remember sitting in the car listening to the radio, making mix tapes of your favorite bands, maybe a special one for your high school sweetheart. Today’s kids aren’t any different in their love for music. More have been moved at some point in their lives by a piece of music they listtened to than a game they watched.

How many families are heading out for a local, free concert in the park? How many kids can grab an instrument and go jam in the backyard with Dad?

We encourage our kids into Little League Baseball. High school football gets segments on local sports news. College football and basketball are huge industries. None of these are professions. They are all parts of our kids growth and education. Yes, being active is important in health. There are plenty of studies that show healthy competition, the discipline of sports, structure of teams, all these facets of sports benefits our children. There are an equal number of studies that show the benefits that music education has on learning as a whole. I could list plenty of those studies, but instead I’m going to share with you this quote that I love from Nina Kraus, a prominent brain researcher at Northwestern University, “Music training leads to changes throughout the auditory system that prime musicians for listening challenges beyond music processing…music training does for brain fitness what exercise does for body fitness.”

With how we push and promote our kids into sports, surely we care about their minds as much as their bodies, right? Where’s the encouragement for kids to register for their seasonal, organized jam sessions? Where’s the local media covering the local amateur bands every Friday night? Where’s the March Madness Battle of the Bands?

Did you know over one billion dollars are given out in athletic scholarships every year? The average athletic scholarship exceeds $10,000. The average music scholarship is in the neighborhood of 20% of that total, with far fewer of them awarded. College is the highest level of education. Every family wants their children to go. Our system says playing sports is the smart choice, that being an athlete makes college more likely an affordable option, yet it’s music that makes college more likely to be an option in the first place.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

TECH Thursday: Introduction to Facebook’s Timeline, coming to a computer near you

by Shinazy

Facebook.  For some of us Facebook is just two four-letter words, for others it is the local café, and for others still it has replaced letter writing and postal stamp buying.  Regardless of our personal feelings about it, like the telephone – (remember that black thing that sat in the hallway nook tethering us to within 3 feet of the wall) – Facebook is here to stay.  And like the telephone, just when we finally figured out how to friend our friends, post on our wall, leave comments on our friend’s wall, what does Facebook do?  . . .  It changes!
Get ready for Facebook’s new profile layout: Timeline (hey, another double four letter word.)  It’s coming, like it or not, so we might as well figure out what’s it all about.
Think of Timeline as your digital diary, scrapbook, journal, memoir, album, chronicling your life events, or as much of your life as you want to expose . . . errrr, I mean post.
Early boomers will remember the television series, “This is Your Life”      Think of Timeline as your version, as it can pull from your past, telling your life story.
General info about Timeline:
Instead, of the single-center column, you will see two columns: a large one, similar to what you see today, and a smaller column to the right for speedy navigating.
Any dated information you previously entered will appear on your Timeline: your birth date, graduation date, birth dates of your children, grandchildren, work history dates, etc. You can add photos and captions to photos, or remove anything you would rather delete from your life story.
When computers first entered our lives, a wise person said to me, “If you want something that will remain the same throughout your lifetime, buy a fork.”
So, you see four-letter words can be something we embrace.
Stay tuned for the nuts and bolts of Timeline.  I’ll also cover: the “Activity Log”, cog / icon / badge, other stuff on the main page, “Life Event”, and . . .  PRIVACY tips.

photo by stoneysteiner

Monday, January 2, 2012

MUSIC Monday: Please sing me your autograph! – Part 1 of 3

Written by Daryl Allison

Bottom of the ninth…

Game 7, the season comes down to this…

5, game tied … 4, he pulls up at the 3-point line … 2, the ball is in the air…

Selected with the first pick of the draft…

We know these moments. We live for them. We’ve lived in them – at the edge of our seats, excitement, suspense. Some have waited years, even a lifetime, for events to converge into such a moment. We dream of them as children, for the chance to be the hero, to lead our team and fans to victory.

All this passion devoted to … a game.

Don’t get me wrong, I love sports. I was born with baseball in my veins. Now living in as devoted a college sports town as Austin, I could not resist succumbing to the enthralling energy that surrounds me. I bleed burnt orange like I never thought possible. This town lives and dies by its teams. We know to turn our sights to the UT campus clock tower each night. We may not know which big game was played that day – we don’t need to know! If it’s glowing orange then WE won; on that day WE are victorious, transcendent.

Imagine a world where, with all the energy we have wrapped in sports, we lavished an equal amount upon music; where music was the Super Bowl, not its halftime show. Sure, music has its celebrities. You can name a few of them as easily as you can name some sports stars. I’m not talking about the ranks of stardom. I’m talking about the inner workings of our families, our schools, our communities. Lucky for me, Austin is such a place, the “Live Music Capital of the World”. Musical expression is as revered as athletic accomplishment. Communities rally around its bands as much as its teams. Those same people find ways to give back, organizations holding free events for families to enjoy music and fundraisers to ensure education resists government budget cuts. We here in Austin are lucky, because we here in Austin do something about it.

How about for you and your community? Are you able to consider yourself as lucky? In your neighborhood how many TVs turn on to watch sports? How many families spend time, energy, resources to attend games? I’m sure you won’t struggle finding a household where the kids can pick up a ball and go throw in the backyard or at a park down the street. Those kids see their sports heroes on TV. They’re encouraged by their parents, their older siblings, their friends, and even the marketing of athletes on TV. Those kids imagine themselves coming to bat as the winning run; making that pass; taking that shot.

How many of those same kids listen to music?

Next Monday, Part 2

Sunday, January 1, 2012

TIME . . . My New Year’s Resolution

Written by Rob Shinazy

Time.  What is it?

Time is one of the most precious things we have.  The universe is about 13.7 billion years old.  The earth is approximately 4 half-million years old.  Man lives on earth at best 100 years.

That makes time the most precious commodity there is, more than gold, silver, or the almighty dollar.  Without time, there's nothing.

2012 we have to invest in our time here on earth.  Looking at time as a commodity where you try to get the most return on your investment will keep us from wasting time.

Going into or being in a relationship is about time management; spending time with loved ones is one of the most important things there is.  No one ever said on their deathbed that they wished they spent more time at the office.  People always regret not spending time with family and friends.
So, for me 2012 is going to be about making the most of my time.  As we get older, we can either be a Bottled Of Wine that gets finer with age or That Loaf Of Bread that gets all moldy and dry’s up.

So, let's get off the couch, put down the remote, give your significant other a kiss, and let's get on with investing our time . . . wisely.

photo by Stela Blu