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Thursday, May 31, 2012

A Movie Adventure

8mm films.

I have one small voice.  I am raising it!  I AM MAD.  
In an effort to protect the twenty-two years of video footage that I have filmed of my family, I purchased  -- with discount coupons called Groupons-- film transfer services from a company called Scan Digital.  Believe me, I read the fine print, I read it again, then I called the company to ask further questions.  I knew I was going to entrust this company to transfer hours and hours of birthday parties, school plays, soccer, basketball and field hockey games onto DVDs. This was serious business.  I carefully marked my calendar so I would get the videos into Scan Digital before my coupons expired.
I knew the deadline was fast approaching.  Two weeks ago, I went to the basement and pulled out the storage box containing many of the VHS tapes I filmed.  I tried to set up our aged VHS video player -- with no success.  The project is abandoned on the floor next to a Sony television (circa 1985).  Still, I knew it was vital to mail in those tapes., even if it was going to be sight unseen.  I would have to trust my twenty-year old labels.  I called Scan Digital to clarify how to fill out the order form since I had multiple coupons.  It was over the course of three conversations I had with the customer service department (with my filmmaking son playing Cyrano in these communications) that I discovered that, in order to receive an editable product, I had to upgrade my options for a mere $150. Then, I was informed that I would probably prefer to use an external hard drive (which they could sell me for $120) rather than using the advertised DVDs if I had any intentions of editing the footage.  Oh, my gosh!  I thought I had asked every question before I made the purchase.  Turns out, I didn’t know what to ask!  Now I have chosen to ship only ten videos, in my own box, with an external hard drive that I will purchase.  They will, however, charge me a fee of $10 to receive my shipment. So, there you have it.  The company is doing exceedingly well at finding income streams. I am keeping both my fingers and toes crossed that they deliver a product as amazing as their carefully structured pricing guidelines.  After all, Scan Digital was recommended in such publications as Real Simple magazine, Inc., Popular Photography and Redbook!  
Meanwhile, I am going to look into other options for preserving my family’s heritage.
I am particularly invested in finding a thrifty alternative because I just inherited over 250 8mm films that my father shot between 1953 and 1995. My personal box of 45 VHS tapes seems paltry compared to that extensive collection of his film history.
When I get these projects wrapped up, I might just host a film premier and serve popcorn and Coca-cola.  Bring your own 
M & M's!

Assorted family videos. 

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Cinnamon Rolls

Immaculate Baking Co. Cinnamon Rolls.
I am a cinnamon roll snob. I have never, nor can I imagine a day when I will ever, eat a cinnamon roll from Dunkin Donuts.  The whole thing about cinnamon rolls is the satisfying progression toward a central, gooey, sweet goal; a bite so full of buttery, rich cinnamon flavor that it would melt in your mouth, if not for the lofty dough that suspends it.  I know cinnamon rolls.  Cinnamon rolls were served in my house on Easter, Christmas and, sometimes, birthdays. My mother was not a baker.  She was content with serving Pillsbury Dough Boy's Pop 'n Fresh variety.  They did not taste like the wonderful pastries my grandmother would bring to us from her local bakery. I was so terribly disappointed in the small, heavy, puck-like snails that we would place 2" apart on a greased cookie sheet. Was this really Pillsubry's best?  Did people truly accept them as the best they could expect?  I thought I could do better.  I started baking breads and other baked goods from scratch in high school.  When I moved on to cinnamon rolls, I proved that I could do better.  My cinnamon rolls were delicious, but labor intensive.  Their preparation required considerably more effort than releasing them from the confines of a can.  I found the ultimate recipe for cinnamon rolls in a Rhode Island cookbook that my friend gave me.  It takes considerable and time and patience, since the best dough rises twice before baking.  

As a wife and mother, I wanted my children  and husband to enjoy cinnamon rolls, but I hoped that the rolls...
....would look enticing in their perfect spiral curls.  
....would tasted other-worldly.
....could be prepared in less than half an hour.
....would leave the house flooded with the fragrance of cinnamon.
....would have a central core laden with butter and cinnamon that could be consumed in a single bite.

Imagine my extraordinary surprise and pleasure when my code of standards was met recently!  This happened when, on a whim at a local food coop, I bought a can of Immaculate Baking Company's Cinnamon Rolls.  Their cinnamon rolls baked into large, inviting temptations.  The scent of cinnamon almost colored the air, it was so vivid.  As I frosted each roll, the icing melted into an inviting glaze.  I simply can't describe how delicious the warm rolls were.  They turned a regular Tuesday into what felt like Christmas morning.
I actually wrote the company with my rave reviews of their product -- and a small suggestion for a tweak on the packaging.  The next day, someone from the marketing department emailed me back.  Apparently, I had not fully removed an inner sleeve that had impeded my ability to open the can when I was preparing them.  She suggested I try again, thanked me for my loyalty, and enclosed two coupons to pick up a couple of Immaculate Baking Company Cinnamon Rolls on the house!  I urge other cinnamon roll devotees to try this brand. If you can not locate them at your local retailer, they are available online.  


Tuesday, May 29, 2012

A Field of Daisies

A field of daisies.

When my mother was married in 1953, her budget was not minimal; it was nonexistent.  Her father had died a year earlier and her mother was struggling to support her family on her salary as a bookkeeper.  My mother had to abandon her college education to come home and work.  When it came to decorations for her wedding, my mother and her sisters did most of the preparation. My mother sewed her gown.  Her sisters and her mother offered to decorate the church and reception hall with flowers.  On June 13, 1953, my mother spent the morning collecting hundreds and hundreds of daisies to make into bouquets and to fill vases at the altar in the church.  Over my lifetime, daisies came to mean family, love, loyalty.  Once, I looked up the symbolic meaning of daisies in a book about the language of flowers.  I found that they convey a message of loyal love and beauty, patience and simplicity.  Every June,  my eyes rove the roadside meadows looking for the first daisies of the season.  When my mother was alive, I brought, mailed, drew, sent or created daisies for my parents' anniversary every year.  They were married for 57 years.  
The daisy habit has not diminished much since my mother's death.  This year, however, the daisies bloomed about two weeks early.  I was thoroughly surprised to see them this morning. I knew enough to follow their lead. I nosed my car into a turnoff so I could pay tribute to a field of daisies.  I photographed and communed for about fifteen minutes.  When I turned the car toward home, I was just a bit calmer. Just a bit more peaceful.  

Facing the sun.
A singular daisy.

A vase of daisies for the ride home. 

Monday, May 28, 2012

Reese's and Buddhism

Reese's Peanut Butter Cups  played a television commercial in the 1980’s in which two walkers collided, then exclaimed,
      “You got peanut butter in my chocolate!”
       “No, you got chocolate in my peanut butter!” 
Then, the perambulating couple moaned as they tasted the sensational product of their collision.  The ad was an example of one plus one equaling three; whereby, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.
Pleasure comes in many forms.
Webster’s Dictionary declares that pleasure is “enjoyment and entertainment, contrasted with things done out of necessity.”
Mindfulness, a much-bandied state of mind these days,  is derived from the Buddhist tradition.  A useful synonym is awareness.  This mindfulness, or awareness, is like a moving meditation that extends to body, mind, and spirit.  This practice that is so integral to Buddhism has found a following in the field of medicine because it offers help in managing many medical conditions, particularly those exacerbated by stress.  
What if we were to couple pleasure with mindfulness?  I tried this experiment today.  
I enjoy organizing.  It pleases me to see order emerge out of chaos.  I feel like my energy and time are well-spent when I have a creative product as a result of my vision and labor. 
Today, I organized linens.  While I sorted, washed, folded, shared and stacked household linens, I kept my mind fully present.  I took the time to appreciate the colors, to feel the soft hand to a blanket, to consider the usefulness of each piece.  If it didn’t sound so far-fetched, I would confess to feeling one with my linens.  For the hour and a half that I worked, the world beyond the cedar chest and linen closet seemed to shrink from my awareness.  I can honestly say that I experienced a happy serendipity; the pleasure I take in organizing collided with my exercise in mindfulness.  
There was an unexpected downside, and it is just catching up with me.  I was so thoroughly engaged in my linen project that I disregarded the pain signals that were alerting me to stop. The tasks that I was demanding of my body were beyond its limits.  Now, five hours later, my muscles and joints are seriously annoyed with me.  However, despite the discomfort, I also carry a degree of peace that I earned through the unexpected marriage of pleasure and of Buddhist mindfulness.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Sentimental Postcards -- dreaming of an Island that I love --

This might be the author in 1976.  Zack's Cliffs.
When I sorted through my mother's belongings after her death, I found myself setting aside certain things to study and reflect upon at a later date. Today, I found myself sorting through my mother's postcard collection.  There were several that drew my focus and left me feeling nostalgic.  I saw Martha's Vineyard Island, a place that I love, with new lenses.  Zack's Cliffs has changed radically since this picture was taken.  The large boulder in the foreground is still there, but the colorful cliffs have eroded and none of the clay is exposed in this way any more.  It was upon this very boulder that I once left my clothes while I was swimming. When I returned, my clothes were gone, leaving me with a very peculiar dilemma.

Harbor entrance,  Oak Bluffs.
 Remarkably, this view has changed very little since Fisherman's Paradise was printed.  It is the
street above Town Beach that has undergone significant transformation.
View of the Harbor and Sunset Lake.
 The Harbor has continued to be developed over the years, but, for the most part, The Harbor and Sunset Lake below it, remain landmarks today.
A photo of Sunset Lake in the 1890's.
Notice its shape differs from above.

My eye noted the unfamiliar shape of Sunset Lake in this photo from the 1890's.  I was drawn to the Tabernacle in the background on the right.  The Tabernacle is located at the heart of the Martha's Vineyard Methodist Campgrounds.  It has been visible on the horizon from this spot since 1879, when it was built.  The Tabernacle is a place of constancy and relevance as much today as it was then.
The Oak Bluffs Harbor shown in the last postcard is without moorings and a concrete sidewalk, both so integrated today that no-one pauses to remember a time that they were not in view.  This image shows a harbor that is remarkably undeveloped and pristine.  Of the two, time and place, these postcards take me to another time, but the place remains the same.

Oak Bluffs Harbor (called Lake Anthony) in the 1940's.

Saturday, May 26, 2012


1. Gladiolus bulb.

2. Hole for gladiolus bulb.
3. Gladiolus bulb in hole.
4. Tip of gladiolus seeks light.

About five weeks ago, I bought a bag of fifty gladiolus bulbs.  It was a whim, they were on sale, and they represented such great possibility. These showy stems are beautiful when cut and placed in tall vases.  Gladioli are a member of the iris family; if you look closely at their architecture, this fact is easy to pick out.  Their growing season is limited to the warmest days of summer.  This makes sense because they are native to Africa.  Without even reading the instructions on the package, I knew that it would take about three months for them to bloom, so my intention was to get them into the ground as soon as possible. It is suggested that plantings be done in waves, so that the flowers blossom over an extended period of time. 
All my best intentions went by the wayside because of complications due to my health.  The bag, containing the promise of large, extravagant stems of brightly colored flowers, sat unattended and ignored until this morning. 
At six a.m., I decided I would get them all into the ground.  Immediately. Still in my pajamas, I went outside bearing a gardner's pad on which to kneel, my battered, worn gardening gloves and my trowel.
I used Martha Stewart's recommended method of planting bulbs so they do not appear too finicky when they emerge.  I gently tossed the bulbs into the air and let them fall, willy-nilly, where they may.  With just a few adjustments, I buried the bulbs where they landed. The gladiolus bulbs populated a space of about  five feet by twelve feet.  After redistributing the bark mulch, there is very little evidence that I disturbed the earth at all. I still need to saturate the ground with fertilizer to insure the bulbs have a jumpstart on the work they have ahead of them. However, I am relieved that my job is done and a Higher Power is going to take on the next part of the job.  
Pictures will follow!

For information on how to grow gladioli, follow this link.

Friday, May 25, 2012

A Filmmaker

A filmmaker's method of flying a kite.

My son is a filmmaker.  His view of the world constantly changes mine.  I see this change in how I watch -- and understand -- movies, as well as in how I see and study people.  My son has taught me more about cinematography in the past three years than I had accumulated in the fifty before them.  There are the mechanical details: the blocking, the storyboards, the mixing, the rough-cuts and a hundred other aspects of the profession that he has assimilated and continues to study and perfect.  He has also exposed me to the machinations of managing and directing artists.  A film requires the creative best of stylists, light engineers, sound engineers, set and costume designers, producers, actors and a cadre of committed people.  When he makes missteps, he backs up and tries to correct his mistakes, whether they be in bookkeeping, in the angle of a shot, or how he treated someone.  So very much of being a director seems to rely on pitch-perfect timing, detailed planning and an uncanny ability to extemporize.  Think high-wire act, no net.  
My most recent lesson came to me by way of David Fincher, a director of great repute, who was most recently responsible for The Girl with The Dragon Tattoo.  I understood that Fincher was known for taking key shots and asking his actors to repeat the scene an excessive number of times.  For example, a three-minute take may be repeated for an entire day.  Why stop at ten times, when fifty might be better, or stop at fifty if the humanity of the character is not shining through?  His object is to have the actors repeat their dialogue so much that they internalize it.  The actors make the words their own. Once that happens, they bring their own personal touches to the scenes.  It is exactly these  natural touches that make David Fincher’s films so realistic and successful.  
I learned all of this when I watched a recent project my son shot.  He filmed an actor delivering a three-minute monologue from The Social Network.  After eighty-eight takes, he struck gold.  When I viewed the first against the eighty-eighth take, I was stunned by the progression.  A shifting, uncomfortable and stumbling character was transformed into one that projected intelligence, confidence and condescension with eerily perfect tension.  Repeat ad nauseum to get it right. Check off that box for "lesson learned." 
It is an adventure, an odyssey and a gift to watch my son’s journey on this career path.  Wherever it leads, I know he will have the knowledge that sometimes, the biggest rewards come from going the distance.
David Fincher’s Feature Films (Wikipedia)

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Green is My World

For the past few days, I have been keenly conscious of the color of the ambient light.  Filtered through the nearly unfurled foliage, it is green.  Not an algae-growing-in-the-pool green, but a sear-your-heart kind of green that is all encompassing.  Simply to apply a word to how this light feels, to contain it within the fixed parameters of a word, is to diminish this green.  Yesterday morning, I couldn’t sleep, I was outside, watching the sun come up, then wandered down the driveway.  Slowly, a canopy of branches stretched over the drive, creating a tunnel.  The first light of day managed to penetrate the thick umbrage of leafage. The feel of that first morning light, wearing all greens and yellows and blues, took away my breath.  It felt like I was underwater, looking up, except for the rambunctious and, often, provocative, bird calls that disturbed the morning silence.
The many layered shades of green left me feeling like it was the first sunrise I had ever attended.  Then, I found myself chuckling out loud -- something my children have cautioned against if I want to maintain my image of sanity. I couldn’t help but find humor at the idea that it was my first dawn.  My name came about because of my habit, since infancy, of rising at dawn.  I have spend my lifetime being there for sunrises.  
For me, it has always been about the light.  When light drives back darkness, it is one more victory for love. Light comes in many colors.  Right now, I am attuned to green.
From Chakra Colors and Meanings:
Green chakra relates to love/self love - the ability to give and take unconditionally. When balanced we are able to give love and also to love and nurture ourselves.  Helps relax muscles, nerves, and thoughts. Cleanses and balances our energy, to give a feeling of renewal, peace and harmony. Green connects us to unconditional love and is used for balancing our whole being.


Wednesday, May 23, 2012

"We become what we think about." Earl Nightingale

Flowers from our garden.

I have three echelons of life plans.
There are the Grand Plans.  They fall under the category of changing the world, serving humanity, bringing about peace to mankind. I find myself focusing on such large scale visions of change about twenty percent of the time.  I am self-effacing about having such plans; I barely entertain the possibility that I am capable of such large scale humanitarian gestures.  When I do allow such possibility, I do so with humor and a vast amount of humility.  “Really, it’s only me, what can I do?” I say to myself.  Yet, in quiet moments of self-reflection, I believe. I believe I have the potential to make a difference on a large scale.
There are the Big Plans.  Build a new house on Martha’s Vineyard, publish some more of my writing, integrate a landscape design into the twelve acres of property I own with my husband.  Big plans include disemboweling my overly-filled basement, a repository of the past and the abandoned.  Big plans are to achieve verbal fluency in French or to win a photography contest.  I allot about thirty percent of my physical and intellectual resources to advancing my big plans.
Finally, Quotidian Plans usurp about fifty percent of my time and resources.  These are the plans that generate daily “TO DO” lists.  Call security company.  Talk to Comcast.  Pick up dry cleaning, Write blog.  Schedule hair appointment.  Between conceiving, scheduling and following through on quotidian plans, I find myself spending an inordinate amount of effort overseeing tasks in this category.  The little things that go into a life: return towels to Bed, Bath and Beyond, write thank you notes, water outdoor plants, pay bills, wrap graduation gifts.  It is the quotidian acts that threaten to swamp the boat.  I have observed that the quotidian plans and their concomitant actions may obscure the big plans and threaten to eclipse the grand plans.  
During the 1980’s, I was an avid listener of inspirational tapes.  My job required distance driving and I felt I was using the time constructively when I listened to motivational speakers. Among my favorites was Earl Nightingale.  It was Earl Nightingale who wrote 
The Strangest Secret.  The gist of this essay can be summarized as follows:
    We become what we think about.
Nightingale arrived at this realization after extensive reading of religious and philosophical treatise.  His message, designed to inspire salesmen to greater performance, was so universally meaningful, that it continues to be conveyed today.
What a take-away those six words were for me, at twenty five years old.  Almost thirty years later, they have not lost their luster or their meaning.  
If we become what we focus upon, perhaps it would be in my best interest to spend more time with my eyes on the prize;  doesn’t it make sense that I focus more fully on my Grand Plans?  What would it take to the put the grand plans into play.  How much would I have to sacrifice?  What would I have to do to reprioritize my quotidian and big plans to bring attention to bear upon my grand plans?  

I intend to marshall my gifts, collect my thoughts, define what I want.  It is all mine for the thinking.  With such a truth in hand, I feel that my quest to find and to cultivate peace is readily within reach.  I believe that, with mental discipline, my Grand Plans are quite likely to come to fruition. 

We Become What We Think About -- Earl Nightingale
This link allows you to listen to an ten minute address
Nightingale made about The Strangest Secret.  You
won't regret the time spent!

Nightingale cites many sources, all repeating the same message.  For example, from Matthew 9:29,

"Then He touched their eyes, saying, "It shall be done to you according to your faith."
- New American Standard Version (1995)

The famous writer, Willa Cather, wrote,
"Miracles...rest not so much upon healing peer coming suddenly near us from afar but upon our perceptions being made finer, so that, for a moment, our eyes can can see ...what is there around us always."  

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Hot Tub Heaven

One of the best gifts that I was ever given, I received on March 24, 2002.  After over four years of watching me struggle with joint pain, my husband gave me a hot tub. That hot tub has been a source of relief for me for over ten years now.  I considered having a party in March, to celebrate the anniversary of our introduction.  There are not that many gifts that provide daily -- sometimes twice daily -- gratification!  I still have the original owner’s manual in my file cabinet. It is thick with receipts for chemicals, occasional repairs, and, most recently, a new hot tub cover.  My husband has replaced the motor and repaired the pump. I used to apply annual coats of 
oil to protect the teak body.  When we relocated to our home on the mountain, it was our intention to place the hot tub on a deck outside of our bedroom. It has taken longer than we expected to finish the deck, hire the lift and place the hot tub.  Knowing that life without a hot tub would be difficult for me, my husband appropriated a bay of the garage for the purpose of housing the hot tub.  So rain, shine, sleet or dark of night, the hot tub waits for me. I push a button and the garage door slides open.  With two hands, I peel back the hot tub cover.  I keep the water at an inhumanly high temperature... today, a record 107 degrees was what it took to penetrate to my bones and quiet the warfare. So, I save the receipt as a reminder that hope comes in many different forms, and one of them looks like a 5 foot by 7 foot box.  

Hot tub design.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Alice Through the Looking Glass

I believe I know exactly how Alice might have felt as she fell through the Looking Glass.  I can duplicate the sensation in one of two ways. First, through the use of mirrors, I can see the infinite distorted images of myself stretch out in triplicate until I begin to lose awareness of which one of the images is the “real” me.  Second, I can open my laptop and wind through the images of me, in both word and photo. These images appear when I click on the Pages icon or press the iPhoto icon.   The rabbit hole opens as I begin to scroll through the many, many, many, documents and photos on my computer.  It appears that I am as prolific as a bored wood carver in a forest.  
I see the path, circuitous and long, that I have taken to arrive at this juncture.  My words flow like the brook at the end of my driveway; sometimes, they glide fluently, while at others, they drag and catch.  There are times my words bubble wildly, unrestrained and melodic, without any real direction. I am Alice, upside down.  Images and words, ass-over-tea-kettle,  I am Alice.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Piano Lesson Takeaways

I am learning to play the piano.  I had several years of lessons when I was in elementary school, however, for all practical purposes, I feel like a beginner.  I have the utmost respect for my teacher.  I can not imagine the full extent of her patience in the presence of my repetitive mistakes and ear-jarring efforts. In addition, she has to tolerate my string of apologetic incantations, muttered with the unrealistic hope that sufficient apologies will improve my performance.  So far, there seems to be only one clear predictor of musical success; practice.   Piano lessons have taught me the importance of letting go judgement of myself.  My son plays piano by ear. I am moved and inspired with how utterly fearlessly he attacks a piece.  Two-handed, all-in, he goes for it.  When he strikes the wrong chords, I do not hear softly-spoken apologetic murmurings.  No, almost instantly, the wrong chords are followed by a kind of musical fumbling until, yes, that's right.  Then he starts over, incorporating the new chord into the piece.  I liken his playing to being a trapeze artist without a net. I am constantly amazed by how much trust comes into play.  When I trust my fingers to go where I have taught them to go, when I trust the notations I made on the music, and when I simply surrender to the person I was when I first began the piece, I am astonished. Mozart might even recognize what I am playing.   One of my dearest friends is also studying piano.  We are in the advanced-age group of sort-of beginners.  She has gained my admiration because she is playing in a recital in a couple of weeks.  I do not have the confidence nor can I sufficiently quiet my negative self-talk long enough to make me a candidate for such a feat.  I am thrilled for her and wonder if I may feel differently about it next year.  I had a professional musician call me to task when I said I didn't feel I played well enough for a recital -- I certainly didn't want to subject others to my beginner's playing.  "Well, that's rather the point, Dawn, to play music for others regardless of what level you play.  Music is for an audience."   Now that I have had time to gather my thoughts, I would beg to differ with him.  Music means different things to different people.  When I play the piano, I play the piano because it brings me joy. It is for me.  Any audience (foolish enough) who gathers does so of their own volition and at their own risk. The take-aways are all bonus lessons in life that I treasure because they are hard-earned and I never went looking for them in the first place! Four Piano Lesson Takeaways 1. Practice what you love to do; you will get better. 2. Let go of judging yourself; try living without a trapeze. 3. Surrender to who you are, trust yourself to find your way. 4. Do what brings you joy.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Awards and Inspiration

Inspiration on every wall.

A vast gathering hall.
As I watched a parade of young adults receive high honors and awards at a ceremony today, my focus was, unfortunately, distracted.  There was simply no way to look at these scholars without wondering how the future would treat them.  Their presence at the day's Awards Ceremonies meant that they had differentiated themselves from other students.  Neither their garb, nor their features predicted their proclivities or their remarkable achievements. It seemed to me that their physical forms were nothing more than homes for their enormous intellects and generous spirits. I felt the thrill of anticipation as each student mounted the steps to the stage.  As we received curriculum vitae summaries, delivered by College deans in microbursts of laudatory acclaim, I was left puzzling how this student unraveled new meaning from Horace's lyricism or why that student chose to devote herself to using music as a universal language. Between the summas' and the magnas' grade point averages, there was no more than three hundreds of a point difference. How is it possible to sort, shuffle and differentiate at such a minute level?  And for the class valedictorian with her 4.0 g.p.a., caps off for her concise and thoughtful comments.  Her humility was not feigned. Her questions about what her place should be in the world at large is certainly a question that almost everyone I know has, at some point, pondered.  I felt myself wishing her luck.  Her reflections demonstrated that the Jesuit tradition is alive and well at Georgetown.  I feel confident that everyone of those students today is equipped to ask questions and seek answers regardless of the path on which life takes them.  Ultimately, I left the Awards Ceremony certain of three things.
A proud Mom behind those glasses.
First, this was an assembly of a group of truly gifted, hardworking graduates. Second, this particular set of students had spent four years demonstrating that they have an elite intellect, moral fiber and a real sense of humanity. Third, the particulars don't matter; the wrapping -- the exterior packaging -- seemed to have absolutely no relevance to the accomplishments.  Finally, I was moved by the family and friends who came great distances to bear witness to their loved ones'  achievements.  Whatever the reason, no matter the season, I am convinced that there is an uplifting power that  comes from people who come together to celebrate. 

Thursday, May 17, 2012

A New View

M Street,  Georgetown

For the geographically-impaired.
Park with Waterview

Paradigm shift. The street noises of M Street are as loud and unruly as children on the playground. Adding to the cacophony is the steady hum of traffic --buses belching, cars whirring and sirens wailing. I am in Georgetown.  As my plane to D.C. banked hard to the right, I saw the neat grid of Washington and its monuments stretched out before me. The fleeting glance of the Capitol gave way to water and macadam, then the plane touched down. My current resting place in my daughter's apartment affords me a view of the oh-so-busy M Street. Fortuitously, there is a lush city park directly across from her apartment. As foreign as it feels to be I'm the midst of the hustle and bustle of the city, my soul is calmed by the verdure and beauty of the park.  As I watch, a bevy of runners thread their way through the extravagant branches and trees, then slowly,  ever so slowly, the pack is swallowed by the park. They disappear from view. 

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Dawn's Many Paths

In the file that I entitled, PATHS, I have about fifty photographs that I have taken of paths.  Again and again, I  am drawn to images that show the future, a direction in some unnamed direction, but certainly, ahead.  Whether in nature, or manmade, these paths represent possibility, hope, forward motion.  My heart does a little leap when I detect a path I might have missed -- a bike path, a foot path, a well-traveled lane that has its own history.
My Paths tend to be straight on and forward or have a gentle swoop off to the right before straightening out.  Most of my favorite photos have umbrellas of leaves, branches and big sky.  The influence of nature as a source of inspiration is inseparable from my vision of the world.  
My focus on paths is perfectly good fodder for an analyst's couch.  I can appreciate this.  What I can not fully understand was the stomach-rolling shock I experienced when I brought up the image of my sister's newly published book on Barnes and Noble. I planned to place an order of Deborah Reidy's book, Why Not Lead? A Primer for Families of People with Disabilities and their Allies.  The cover of her book was ...what else could it be?.....a path.  With a sudden flash of recognition, I realized that, perhaps, there is a genetic imperative to my fascination with paths. The nature/nurture debate allows the idea that there may have been something about our common parents that predisposed us to lives that ultimately, led us both down the same path.
Dawn's Many Paths

Deborah Reidy's Path
Why Not Lead?

My sister recently published her book, "Why Not Lead? A Primer for Families of People with Disabilities and Allies."  It is an achievement that represents a lifetime of study, reflection and work. Barnes and Noble describes it in the following manner.

Leadership can be exercised by anyone who cares enough. You don’t need to have a title, be charismatic, or even have confidence. You just need to be motivated to make a difference in the lives of people or causes you care about. In Why Not Lead? author Deborah E. Reidy provides a practical and accessible guide for families of people with disabilities and their allies who are motivated to bring about positive change and who are looking for guidance on their journey.
Drawn from decades of experience, Why Not Lead? uses a combination of case studies, short narratives, and personal exercises to provide an understanding of what leadership is, to assist in strengthening your motivation, and to deepen your understanding and application of core leadership practices.

I have the utmost respect for her accomplishment and urge any readers who have interest in the field to pick up a copy.  

://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/why-not-lead-deborah-e-reidy/1110476083?ean=9781462047628 http