Jul 18 2011

Center stage.

There is nothing worse than being a victim.  The way I see it, it is just easier to dismiss bad behavior, lack of follow through and inconsiderate gestures.  When something less than wonderful happens,  I often jump in to fix it, to reframe it in a positive light or to shoulder responsibility. I move on in a way I don’t when I am the one at fault.

Sociopath who stole from me – he couldn’t help it.  Son’s total jerk of a professor – he’ll improve once he’s a parent himself. Ungrateful friend – I didn’t do it for the payback.  Tiresome pessimists – optimism will prevail.  And the fellow who didn’t hold the door, the elevator – bless his heart, distracted by things more pressing than common courtesy. Boundaries?  Draw lines?  I don’t draw them.  At best I teeter and waffle anywhere near them, but more often cross them without a thought to saying, “Mother, may I?”

Life is getting shorter.

A wise teacher told me we each get to choose who sits in the front row as our life unfolds on stage.

I am learning to gently usher people to the balcony, the lobby – another theatre, in another state.  And I’m pulling the plug on my role as Don Q. Let someone else bat at some of the windmills.

A perfect score, I am learning, means doing more right than wrong. If I say it enough, I may believe it.  If I surround myself with the right friends, I will believe it.

Be gentle with yourself.  Always, Trix


Jul 16 2011

Clues.

Some things just stick.

In my early twenties I read an editorial column in the Cleveland Plain Dealer. I had always thought one could learn a lot watching another hunt and gather (AKA shop).  I dropped most of my money back then in establishments offering books, wine and music.   How a nest is feathered can also be most telling but, as the columnist directed, skip the art, the books. I would add: the wine cellar, the closet, the medicine cabinet.  Find an excuse to peek in the box, the icebox!

What is inside that GE, dacor, KitchenAid…Subzero will speak volumes!

Under the glare of bright lights, my fridge was quite chatty this morning.

“She’s drawn to farmers’ markets. Totes a camera and on rare occasion, a shopping bag.”

“Heaven forbid there not be a jar of oh-so-versatile fig jam in the place.”

“Might be getting older but isn’t dairy intolerant -yet.”

“There was more food in here before breakfast today.”

“Will be dining on Peppered Pork Loin, Trader Joe lentils and streamed carrots sometime soon – and leftovers for days.”

“Prioritizes. Freshly shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano is a must but life is to short to cook and peel beets when they can be bought that way.”

“Picks bananas not by the bunch. Safeway is out the back door, afterall.”

“Too green and too cheap to buy bottled water.”

“Should probably be thinking of buying more Washington wine during the 30% off sale because a girlfriend recently pointed out it costs more to cool an empty icebox than one partially stocked. Adding, “Wine counts, shoes don’t”.”

“Will graciously accept a dinner invitation!”

And that is just the CONTENTS talking!  What does your icebox have to say?

Always be exploring and listening but don’t let anyone catch you talking to the orange juice.

Trix


May 23 2011

Perspective 101

A crowd was gathered.  He had a captive audience.

“I mean, come on.  How many tornadoes or hurricanes is it going to take for those people to learn they should not be living where they live?” said the man in line at an airport in northern California, near the Pacific Ocean, near a fault line or two.   He must have been just passing through town. Nearby TV monitors were reporting a hospital badly damaged and the death toll already at 89 in Joplin, Missouri after a Sunday tornado.

The man didn’t single out Missouri; Mississippi was next up as he continued speaking from his soap box with the voice of authority about  undesirable locations to set up home.  I had already been in touch with friends near Joplin.  I moved to another part of the gate area while the A group boarded the Southwest flight.

“Yo, bro!  My bitch is in jail and I’m getting on a plane.  I need you to wire $1500 to the lawyer.  I’ll pay you back tonight.  I got the money.  I need you to do this.  I promised her she wouldn’t have to stay there again.”

A B47 boarding pass earned me a front row seat to learning more about the woman in lock up as the man went through his list of flush, generous friends, talking more hurriedly on the phone, urgency mounting as we got closer to the plane door, and then to picking a seat.   He was pretty young, tattooed and casually dressed.  I wondered what he did for a living to easy swing a 4-digit get-out-of-jail card and be traveling on a weekday afternoon.  I picked a middle seat between to run-of-the mill business men playing games on an iPad and iPhone.

Everyday I wrestle with location and finance decisions but relatively speaking, I’m free as a bird.  I was flying back from southern California.  I don’t see it as a place I’d ever live full time but I already have plans to pass through for a day again next month. I find travel delights, entertains and gives me perspective, sometimes (often) in rather unexpected ways.    Two hours later I was on the Trimet during rush hour in Portland.

Expanding your horizons is pretty easy.  Take a day away from facebook where only the good stuff hits the wall and get a more realistic, unedited take on people’s lives. Travel – around the block, to the next city, the next state or country but walk or use mass transportation otherwise  you’ll miss out on a lot – good and bad.  Tourist choose, orchestrating their experience.  Travelers take it all in.

Tell me of your travels!  Trix


May 20 2011

In the closet.

Portland is a city of hoods.  I am not talking about gangs or quaint residential areas but something very practical:  rain gear. For the majority of the year I’d be miserable, instead of fairly unfazed, if not for my tried and true, knee-length, lined, washable (ignore the label), black hooded raincoat.  Carry an umbrella around and people assume you are either a tourist or a Californian.

Ditching an umbrella is even more practical in Oklahoma where stronger winds blow heavier rains sideways.  In the Tulsa Airport I spotted a woman in my very same raincoat.  “Norm Thompson?” I paused to ask.  “Yes!” was the reply.  We’d both shopped online two years earlier – while both living in Portland.   What are the chances?

Raincoats don’t seem to go on sale in the Northwest (I have my cap set for a Mycra Pac full-length, if they do) but they are retired to the closet during the dry season.  I was hanging my faithful companion up this month when I noticed my wedding dress.

Call me curious. I decided to try on the dress I hadn’t worn for almost 23 years to the day.  On our first anniversary I was pregnant and outfitted in a lovely, shimmery tent, but on our second anniversary I switched out the white wedding day pumps for silver evening shoes and headed to a Tulsa Opera spring production, elegantly dressed in a tea-length, strapless gown.  If only bridesmaid dresses in the late 80’s had been so, well, so – practical!

As I slipped into the dress I imagined an extra three pounds of weight would show as much in a dress as under a hooded raincoat.   I was wrong!   Above my waist the two sides of the zipper didn’t have a chance of meeting.  Unless the gravity factor associated with aging and weight gain has reversed itself, I can only reason that my rib cage has expanded over the years to fit the much bigger, fuller, compassionate heart that once belonged to a young woman just opening her heart to love.


May 13 2011

Take a look.

May 13th, 2011

As the song goes, “I have always been a woman who arranges things.”

Last Sunday in Tulsa, I moved a sofa bed.  I was very mindful of how it would look and function in the room in a new location but my real goal was to improve my view – from the sofa.  A handful of minutes and a dozen or so feet to the west and my daily outlook was radically changed simply by a more expansive, engaging view – seen from the sofa.

Three months after settling in Portland, I moved for a killer view and more balcony space.  No one would argue that it wasn’t 180 degrees of pure “WOW!” Floor-to-ceiling 11-foot windows 15-stories above the ground in the Pearl District offered sweeping views of the Willamette River, several bridges, mountains in the next state, the downtown skyline… and all the trains, ships, streetcars, planes, cars and pedestrians that crisscross the city regularly.  Rainbows were a regular, magical bonus after frequent showers. I sat for hours on the balcony, mesmerized by sunshine, clouds and countless things that drew my eye, ignited my imagination – even enchanted by birds riding the wind within arm’s length.

Yesterday I paused outside a nearby condominium building with marketing information posted near the entrance. I smiled reading it.  Accustomed to seeing information about square footage of living space, balcony area, I had yet to  read of “more square footage of window space than a typical Pearl District shotgun style studio.”  I was sold!

For years I was, I thought, a savvy business traveler.  I sat in aisle seats on airplanes. Now I will walk to the last row on a plane to snag a window seat. It has many rewards.

“When you fly into Portland, always sit on the left side of the plane,” a Tulsa doctor told me a few years back.  He is both a pilot and a frequent Oregon visitor.  “You’ll see Mt Hood on a clear day,”  he promised.  Indeed you will!

When taking off westward from Tulsa late one afternoon I enjoyed an extended, seemingly endless, very breath-taking sunset.  It was riveting.  Another time a Southwest pilot called passengers’ attention to the Grand Canyon below us.  It brought tears to my eyes. I hadn’t seen the canyon since I was six years old.  It still looks HUGE!

Try this: for a few minutes today lift your gaze from you iPhone.  Be in the moment with what is around you.  Take a look, a long look. I am willing to bet you will see something new and quite wonderful.


Jan 29 2011

Now or later.

Do you live in “now” or “later?”

Do you wake up in the morning thinking about all the things you have to do before another sunset?  Do you stop regularly to ask yourself, “Where do I want to be in a year, with whom, doing what?” Do you reflect periodically on all the zillions of moments and memories you’ve already experienced?

Do you put as much energy into meeting new people as you do nurturing friendships?  Do you make a regular effort with either?

Do you make a point of learning something new each day?  Do you walk, ride or drive the same route everyday?

What choices do you make – for yourself?  Are you tourist or explorer or homebody?

I have cleaned my flat, bathed the Whippets, done the laundry, closed the door on my office and turned my back on the photo albums, household items and clothes soaked in the December rains that flooded Wyatt underground storage units and still in need of sorting and fixing.

A year ago I left my marriage of 24 years largely for “now.” I thought we’d fallen into a routine of  “When this happens, we’ll …” all the while living a wonderful life but not content enough.  Connected and not.  The half full glass is half empty.

Since last January  I’ve crafted a busy, full life between my two cities – on my own, sometimes feeling very alone.  Sometimes empowered by the possibilities.  Many times feeling doubly blessed.  I have not always been true to my mission. Routines have gobbled up hours, days.

Today, with almost seven hours until I dress for a theatre date, I have a blank canvas before me.  What do I pick to do first?! How much can I fit in?

Portland’s Pearl is my playground! I’ll share what I find!

Enjoy the moments of today, Trix



Jan 13 2011

Baggage.

January 10, 2011

“Is there something in the side pocket you can take out to lighten the bag?”

I avoided eye contact with the fellow asking the question.   He had watched me stuff my lined, hooded raincoat in the zippered compartment. I didn’t want to carry it on the plane, across half the country – the long way.  Nor I was in the mood for someone who lived excruciating by the rules.  Twice a month I weigh in for flights with two bags, often each just under 50 pounds.  Last Monday I arrived with one 52-pound suitcase.

Charming the agent was out of the question.  A fowl mood was lurking just below my uncharacteristic, neutral, quiet, matter-of-fact demeanor.  I was worn down by two days with energy-draining people, the type whose complaining isn’t an occasional venting but a character trait.  I had wasted energy, time and breath with both, arguing the half full glass wasn’t leaking.

Many hours earlier a telephone call had woken me at 5:30 am from a dream of being tossed around in a vast, dark, bottomless ocean.   Two men were near me (in the dream, not in the bed). We were all swimming forward which seemed to me to be further out to sea; no land was visible.  I had paused to tread water, to question our direction (the dream mirroring my waking life isn’t lost on me).

The men had more reason for concern.  We were in shark-infested waters, they explained. We maybe had minutes until all was lost. I challenged this conclusion just as I’d foolishly argued with my weekend naysayers.  Once awake I wondered if the swimmers or the sharks were my two grumpy companions of late.

In the movie Eat Pray Love, Liz Gilbert is nicknamed “Groceries” by someone she meets on her quest.

My nickname might be “baggage.” I am not a pack rat. I regularly edit, delete and prune.  But I have always been a homemaker, even during my heaviest travel years.  An itch to travel, to economize is now rarely more than a thought away.  I have two dogs, heavy furniture and treasured possessions.  Each unique and irreplaceable, like the many people in my life.  I have been trying to travel with all of it, everyday.  It is time to maybe store possessions and distance myself from people that weigh me down and don’t make me happy.

Lugging baggage stops now.   Moving forward is about refueling, less about being grounded.

Suddenly it makes sense. Fifty pounds of baggage is the limit if I want to fly.

Lighten your load!

Always, Trix


Jan 2 2011

Blue skies.

January 2, 2011

At first the tune was hard to discern over the hum of a crowded dining room equally bursting at the seams with an abundance of winter coats and luggage further muffing sounds.  It wasn’t my imagination; holiday carols were over for 10 months! Michael Buble crooning “Home” (the tale of a frequent traveler), signaled 2011 was approaching. It was New Year’s Eve. I was seated by a fire and an electrical outlet, recharging at Timberline Café in Denver International Airport.

As 2010 ticked down its last hours and minutes, I was traveling a new route to a familiar destination. It was refreshing.

“Why on earth are you flying north?” my mother asked via email. Experimenting with my iPhone, I had used the GPS feature to “check in” on facebook.  My route:  Portland -Spokane -Denver – Tulsa. Economics had trumped playing it safe and winging it over the southern states this time of winter.  Why else would I choose a bigger carbon footprint?

I don’t mind holiday travel.  Do you?  I find the scenery all around is more entertaining. I can take off in rainy season, climb to blue skies and drop into snowy white fields polka dotted by deicer trucks strategically stationed around the tarmac. It’s the closest to time travel I’ve come in my journeys.  Business warriors with vacant looks and cumbersome roller boards are also replaced with gaggles of families.  As I joined the gate-to-gate parade on the ground, I mused, “Boot sales must be recession proof.”  New Uggies dominated in Denver the way cowboy boots rule DFW.  I also caught myself playing a mental game of hopscotch as I passed seated travelers… Hardback, hardback, Kindle, soft cover, Kindle…” I was traveling with all three (and two pairs of boots).  Outward transformations can also occur as one moves away from home, away from routine.  Many parents at nearby tables were still tightly tethered to electronic devises. For some, the laptops and cell phones will retreat to carry-ons by the the time they board cruise ships down south. Conversations will begin with their children as bandwidth narrows. It was already true for a single mom and her daughter to my right.   The little girl had lots to tell the waitress about their itinerary.  Her bright face, unaided by a LED scene, was like a lighthouse beaming in the low-lit dining room.

What was ahead for me in 2011?  What do you picture around the bend?  As I set off for gate 47 my pace quickened.  Soon I’d be flying toward the New Year! I have seen for myself there is plenty of blue sky when you expand your horizons. Let’s do it together!

Here’s to 2011!

Always, Trix



Dec 27 2010

The company of strangers.

December 27th, 2010

“We are going to ride the streetcar! We are parking the car so we can catch up with it.”

On Lovejoy Avenue, just outside Sammy’s Flowers, I was stopped by a little boy colorfully dressed in waterproof clothes.    His sandy-colored dreadlocks swept  his shoulders with each wisp of breeze .  He was either an articulate three-year-old or a petite four-year-old.   He told me more about his plan.  I shared with him my idea of sometime just riding the streetcar until it stopped and seeing where I ended up.  As I watched him walk off with his family for their Sunday adventure,  I thought of my son at that age.  He is 23 now and lives in Tulsa, the city where he was born, the city where I spent all of my adult life until late 2008.

It was Sunday.  For two hours I had been walking a corner of Portland’s Nob Hill Neighborhood and the northern part of the Pearl District. Oddly enough I was thinking about all the ways to get around as I wore through a bit more shoe rubber.  I’d passed boats, cars, buses, streetcars, trains and lots of walkers and cyclists. The public transportation in my neighborhood is a chief reason the Pearl often places in the top five places to retire.  What other things go into deciding where to live?

A bit of goggling and I found sites with questionnaires to help a reader decide where to live.  Factors to consider included work location, cost of living, climate preference, cultural amenities, outdoor scenery, health care access…  I have tallied up pluses and minuses for both Portland and Tulsa.   There isn’t a clear winner.  My marriage brought me to Oregon.  My business client base is still in Tulsa.  I visit Tulsa monthly and still put full-time effort into staying connected to the community.  On Thanksgiving I passed the morning with an iPhone in one hand, a coffee cup in the other – texting and calling over 70 people – many of whom hail from Tulsa.  That Thursday night I dined with Portland friends.

I grew up living on four different continents and an island in Indonesia.  I don’t know that I need to be with someone to feel connected, especially not in this technical age.  Because I work from home, one thing I know I need throughout the day -as much as oxygen and food – is regular brushes with people, opportunities to smile, chances to exercise.  I meet the eyes of each fellow walker, chat with neighbors on the elevator, at the dog park, in the market…I wave as I pass businesses and store fronts to acknowledge the owner of Green Grocery, the designer at Smash Cut, the associate at Umpqua Bank, the concierge at Park Place… I wave back at people on passing trains.  Each walk is energizing.  Each  lifts my spirits in any kind of weather and collectively they’ve helped me shield some (many) pounds!

As I sat waiting for my Mac to boot up to begin writing this entry, I glanced over my left shoulder through my south window.  A neighbor standing in her living room folding linens,  stopped to wave.  Turning back to my screen I looked up and a 12th floor neighbor on his balcony smiled and nodded.

Making your way on your own can be daunting, exciting, scary, overwhelming and confusing – every day!  When you are ready to choose where and how to live, try to embrace it as an opportunity to find a good fit for you.  Listen to one voice – yours.  Make this your time.

And for fun: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FE_9CzLCbkY&feature=player_embedded#!

Always, Trix

Trix

http://web02.bestplaces.net/aarp/ls/


Nov 30 2010

A kiss.

November 30th, 2010

I froze.  One of the password challenge options was, “The name of the first boy (or girl)  that kissed you.”

How could I forget something like that? Yet, there I was – staring at my Mac, drawing a blank.  I have no trouble remembering the last time I was kissed and most days it doesn’t seem like the two were separated by (gulp) 39 years.  Isn’t it short-term memory that vanishes first?

Now that I was thinking about kissing, a new anxiety welled up inside me.  Would I, do I, remember how?  Would I poke someone’s eye out?  Would I break my nose, chip a tooth?

“It is like riding a bike,” someone said.

No it isn’t.  Riding a bike requires balance.  An unexpected kiss, even an expected one, can throw you quite off balance.  And that’s a good thing that feels pretty similar regardless of age, in my experience.

Maybe the later stages of life really do bare similarities to the first.  Here I am, like I was at almost 13, wondering if I’ll ever be kissed (again).  Not much I can do in the way of practice but perhaps work on the breathing part in yoga class. That should improve my balance  – in standing poses!

Always, Trix