11 March 2011

Mother Doing Good

Self Magazine has an award contest called Women Doing Good. It honors women who give their time and talents to charitable organizations. I know such a woman: my mother. I am fortunate to have been raised my a woman who is always seeking to do good things for others. She has been a great example to me, and I think she should be recognized for it. I admit (sorry, Mom!) that I am doing this without telling her first. I think she'll forgive me. Following is the essay I submitted to the magazine on her behalf. Love you Mom!!

My mother is a remarkable individual, both as a mother and a woman. When I think of a woman doing good, she is absolutely the first one that comes to my mind. She is a the kind of person that would rather do something for someone else than for herself.

My mother retired about a year and a half ago, and has been just as busy without a full-time job. She works tirelessly as a board member for Riverlink. Her role is the Chair for the Executive Committee. Riverlink "supports efforts to address water quality concerns throughout the French Broad River basin, expand public opportunities for access and recreation, and spearhead the economic revitalization of Asheville's dilapidated riverfront district (Riverlink.org)." The French Broad River is the main river that runs through Asheville, NC, the city I grew up in. (As a side note, my home town is listed in the March issue of Self, as being one of the happiest cities!) My mother loves the city she and my Dad raised their family in. She strives to make Asheville an even better place, so that future generations will have it to cherish as well.

When she is not working on projects for Riverlink, my mother is working for the children of Buncombe county. She acts as a guardian ad litem for children who have been placed in foster care. She provides a voice for these children in the court system, helping to place them in a safe a stable and living environment. As a guardian ad litem, my mother meets with the children, reads about their situations, prepares a report, and presents her findings before a judge. She has talked about doing this for years, and I know she is grateful to be able to do this rewarding kind of work.

On a more personal note, my mother enjoys practicing yoga and playing tennis. She has also been a member of Grace Covenant Presbyterian Church for many years. At the church she has been a part of Presbyterian Women, volunteered in the nursery, taught Sunday School, and played in the hand bell choir.

My mother has always been a wonderful example to me, the kind of woman I strive to be. She is selfless, kind, and giving. I will always be grateful to have been adopted into such a wonderful family. She is very deserving to be a recipient of Self magazine's Women Doing Good Award.

15 February 2011

Cloudy with a Chance of Sun

Although I have not been blogging everyday, I have been keeping up the other end of the bargain...for the most part. I have been doing something for myself every day. On Thursday, I spent time with a girlfriend at a concert. On Friday, I took the day off from work and did things at my own pace. Then I had a weekend away with my sweetheart: time to linger over a meal, have conversations not about work. While it was a weekend not just about me, it was about awareness. I was mindful of my enjoyment and the value of my relationship with my partner.

This exercise has become one of considerations, thoughtfulness about alot of things and not just about me. Have I been kind to myself, did I remember to tell my sweetheart how much I cherish him? Today, I took the time to do things for other people, this created a new layer of mindfulness. If I am considering others, this is an act I did on purpose..which makes me feel positive. Today I bought my niece a stuffed animal, I called my mother for a chat, and took my love out to dinner. Do unto yourself as you would have others do unto you.

09 February 2011

Mindful Me: Round 2

Though I did not actually blog about it, I did do something for myself yesterday: I took some time at the end of the day to read an article from my favorite magazine.

And interestingly, making the commitment to do more mindful things, actually made me think about and look forward to creating this time for myself. I felt satisfied (and a little smug) that I accomplished my goal for the second day in a row. I fully admit that I am not known for my follow through. Personally, baby steps really help. I don't put so much pressure on myself to be mindful, which makes the process more natural. This way, I hope that more awareness and mindfulness will creep into my life. One day, I hope to wake up and realize how much I've improved my own life....without depending on anyone else. Yay day 2!

07 February 2011

Mindful Me

The definition of mindful (according to Webster's) is as follows:
1: bearing in mind: AWARE
2: inclination to be aware

I'm inclined to NOT be very aware of myself lately. My mind-body connection has faltered, I'm tuned out from own channel. This means less exercise, less restfulness, less focus on me. This has lead to a general funk that I desperately want to leave behind. I know I'm not alone in wanting to be a better version of myself: brighter, fitter, smarter, cuter, more organized! Sounds like a self-help article in a magazine, doesn't it? Regardless, I do strive to be all of these things. But before I get there, I need to start at the beginning.

This is day one of my journey out of the slump. Each day, I am going to one thing just for me: meditation, exercise, read a book I've been trying to finish. To show my commitment and keep myself honest, I'm going to document this forward step every day. My goal is start with one thing, and eventually live in a perpetual state of mindfulness.

Day one: 9 minute and 30 second Loving Kindness meditation

09 November 2009

I Fell in Love with a Republican

There was a time in my life, where I had a strict set of rules about what my ideal mate was going to look like. Anyone who knows me, is well aware that I am very much a pro-choice, Obama-loving, gun-hating Democrat. How did a nice girl from Asheville end up falling for a gun-toting Republican?

03 March 2009

With Kid Gloves

I had a lesson in the use of kid gloves today. Or rather, the lack of them. I choose not to include the subject matter or the person in question, because it is not required to make my point.

I remember being a little girl and my mother saying to me, "You catch more flies with honey." Not to be punny, but that saying has always stuck with me. I don't claim to always use this sage advice in my dealings with people, but I do keep it in the forefront of my mind. My translation of this quaint adage is:if you are sweet in your treatment of another, they are more likely to do as you ask. This point of view came into stark contrast this afternoon, when I had someone treat me (and others) in the exact opposite manner: bullying, threatening, demanding. The ferocity with which this speech was delivered made me have an almost out-of-body experience. Part of me was horrified, the other part was fascinated, simply because I was amazed that a person could think such delivery would get the desired results.

I am not pretending that the sweet approach is easy. It requires a calm and level of patience that is not often my hallmark. But when I saw the hurt and resentment in the eyes of my friends today; felt the anger bubbling up in me; it helped me to see how benevolent the kinder alternative is to both the giver and the receiver. The fly-catching method minimizes stress levels and allows for better communication between parties.

So the next time I want someone to help me in some way, I would do well to remember the use of a simple "please." And this delivered with a smile would not hurt either.
Thanks, Mom.

31 January 2009

A Weighty Subject

All my life, I've been a little on the thin side. My clothes have usually been a tad too big, my collar bone prominent. But lately, I've noticed that my pants are a bit snug. This is, I admit, a foreign concept. Especially the part where I (cover your eyes, parents)actually have what they refer to as cleavage.

I always saw extra weight as the enemy, uncharted territory I never wanted to navigate. But now, this unfamiliar five pounds is starting to feel...well, familiar. I like the way I look with a more womanly shape. It feels good to be content with a slightly swelled version of myself, a reality I never thought I'd welcome. Whatever the reason (being in my thirties?), I hope I continue to have a rosier impression when I look in the mirror.

23 January 2009

Black Screen of Death: A Meditation on Windows Vista

Blackness of screen. Cold. Blank. Unyielding as a 100-year-old tree trunk to a toy hatchet. Glittering blue lights wink from the keyboard, evidence of life within. Mr. Gates, where do I find the missing puzzle piece? How do I unlock the impenetrable surface? It hides my words, music, sunsets over Mexican beaches. Blank. Cold. Blackness of screen.

15 January 2009

The One?

Anyone who knows me, is aware that I have had a lot of boyfriends since I was old enough to date. Some might even call me boy crazy. I am secure in admitting these things because I am very aware of who I am. It is part of my personality that I tend to wear my heart on my sleeve, or rather, tattooed on my naked arm. I recently had a female "friend" make fun of my hopeless romantic alter-ego. I have been guilty of wishing aloud that each new beau is The One. She pointed this out to me in front of audience (we all know people who do their best work this way) with a decisive sneer in her tone. Although cruel, her point did make me think about the nature of love and the all-important quest for the Holy Grail of partnerships: the nacho to my cheese, the peanut butter to my jelly, the sugar to my coffee....that person who will still be with me when my idea of sexy is elastic-waist pants and flannel nightgowns.

I am ok with the cruel jokes at my expense. Hoping that each new boyfriend is The One keeps me walking through every day with hope. I never want to be the hollow-eyed cynic who has lost all optimism. A good friend once told me that I'll just keep getting it wrong until I get it right. And when I do, I won't feel bad about being just a little bit smug;)And maybe this one is The One...

02 January 2009


In an age where everything is seemingly driven by sex, true male-female friendships reach mythical proportions. It appears that I am one of the few who has captured this elusive phoenix of a relationship.

Matthew and I have been best friends for the better part of a decade. Our friendship began with a chance meeting in a coffee shop during that carefree summer of 1999. Despite distance and time, the closeness we have has never wavered. We have seen each other through an array of failed romances, disappointments and unthinkable heartache. I can comfortably speak for both of us, when I say that Matthew and I can talk about anything. This fact, coupled with our loyalty, ensures that we will be friends for the rest of our lives.

This remarkable friendship has become a testing point for new romances. We have deduced that, if a future (or current) partner can accept our platonic union and befriend the other one...then they are a worthy lover. And in every case, this has been a valid litmus test.

Many individuals, especially men, have said that sex always gets in the way of an opposite sex friendship. This is the exact point-of-view that prevents more men and women from having exceptional friendships. This is about choice, like any other important matter in life. People choose their friends and how they relate to them. I realize that people do not choose to have chemistry, however. This is one area that will always remain grey, concerning this type of relationship. But some of the best marriages I know evolved from a friendship first.

After 10 years with a male best friend, I feel I can dispense advice on this matter. Do not discount a friendship with a man or woman, simply because you do not share a chromosome pattern. Do not assume that this relationship will not work. Think of a food you were sure you wouldn't like...until you tried it. Now it is your favorite, and you can't imagine life without it.

PS. As an addendum to this post, I want to thank Matthew's wonderful girlfriend, Megan. Your strong self-confidence and good heart have allowed my friendship with Matthew to continue, as well as grow stronger. I am very lucky to be able to also call you a good...and even, best, friend. I look forward to the many years of friendship that lie ahead.

23 November 2008

Kiss My Grits

A nice big bowl of grits is one of my favorite foods. I am from Western North Carolina, so grits always remind me of home and breakfast cooked by my mother, Sunday mornings with my family.

I like mine with cheese (has to be Velveeta), garlic salt, and pinch of paprika on top. Some people like theirs with butter and salt, jam, or honey. Personally, I prefer my grits to be under the savory category. I save the sweet for things like cinnamon buns and my mother's delectable Sweet Waffles. The cheese version is also good baked and served in squares alongside a couple sausage patties. Mom served that exact meal to some hungry prom-goers for a midnight breakfast when I was 16. I'm certain my friends also remember that meal with smile of satisfaction.

The key when preparing grits, is to be attentive. The heat should be low, so as to avoid a burnt layer on the bottom of the pan. Stand close to the stove, wooden spoon in hand, ready to smooth out any offending lumps that may appear. Good grits should be silky-smooth and creamy, the perfect canvas for whatever accoutrement one may fancy.

If I ever feel homesick, just the simple act of stirring little orange cubes of cheese into the bubbling liquid is cathartic. And sitting at the table, spoon poised over a bowl of the steaming, pale yellow goodness, is nothing short of pure bliss. It never ceases to amaze me how such a simple food can provide such a strong connection to family, contentment, and memories. Even when I am old, I will recall the contentment that came with a Pyrex dish filled with the magic cheese grits.

Mother Doing Good

Self Magazine has an award contest called Women Doing Good. It honors women who give their time and talents to charitable organizations. I k...