Wednesday, December 12, 2012

The One Where My FILDI Is Set Free




Here I am, facing what could be an amazing opportunity for me and my business, but I’m paralyzed.

My business feels like a relationship I’ve allowed to fall by the wayside—first I stopped calling, then stopped writing, and pretty soon, I didn’t even bother with a Christmas card.

I think about this relationship all the time.

How I really should be trying harder. How I really don’t know what to do or say to get back into the swing of things. How I suck as a human being because I just can’t seem to do anything in the direction of making this one thing great.

I stand just outside of it. Staring. Waiting for the rhythm of the double-Dutch ropes to be absolutely perfect so I can jump back in, both hands up—as though feeling the wind created by the rope whipping by will help me gauge the perfect moment for re-entry.

At some point, I know that if I want to get back in there, I’m going to have to gather my balls about me and just …. jump.

But what if I fall? What if my feet forget what I was doing? What if my brain forgets the words? What if I was wrong and none of the other kids really want to hold the rope for me?

That’s where I am: hands up, gauging the rope-wind.

My brain plays a loop of  a year’s worth of excuses to not work my business. 

But a light shines like a beacon: I know—I feel to the depths of my soul—if I don’t try, I’ll wind up buried alive in a shivering, gelatinous pile of self-loathing.

All of the things I’ve been should-ing on myself with are coming rapidly to a necessity point: the one where I either take great, swift, and concise action—or plummet into a crevasse of crap. The same crevasse—I didn’t know until I was well into my 30’s—I created all on my own.

I instinctively knew this was going to be a year of inertia. In the beginning I embraced it. But the more time that went by, the more my inner adolescent started to worry. The more she started to flirt with self-doubt and then judgment, dancing dangerously close to the edge of giving up the whole idea.

But I’m not an adolescent any more. After years of mulling over the concepts involved, I accept my role in my past and choose to write my future in a language that builds and strengthens, with love for myself when I screw up or chicken out.

I’ve been feeding my FILDI oranges and whispering encouragement to it. It’s ready. It’s time. And it’s allergic as all hell to self-loathing.

So with a big breath, I encourage you to stay tuned for a big announcement.

I’ll see you on the other side … of awesome. 

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

On Healing

Last year, I posted a reclamation declaration on September 11.

A lot of time has passed since then. A full year, according to my math.

Since then, Matt has met and married the love of his life. Mark's daughter and Trish's son have both grown and continue to delight their families daily.

September 11 belongs to us. Not to pain. Not to the unknown. Certainly not to fear.

Go: reclaim this day.

The original post below can be viewed here.

Today marks ten years since the Towers fell and our lives as Americans changed forever.

The numbers are staggering.

The statistics from New York Magazine recount the horror, the devastation, the obvious and solid reasons for the fallout of fear and anger even a full decade later:

  • Total number killed in attacks (official figure as of 9/5/02): 2,819
  • Number of firefighters and paramedics killed: 343
  • Number of NYPD officers: 23
  • Number of Port Authority police officers: 37
  • Number of WTC companies that lost people: 60
  • Number of employees who died in Tower One: 1,402
  • Number of employees who died in Tower Two: 614
  • Number of employees lost at Cantor Fitzgerald: 658
  • Number of U.S. troops killed in Operation Enduring Freedom: 22
  • Number of nations whose citizens were killed in attacks: 115
  • Ratio of men to women who died: 3:1
  • Age of the greatest number who died: between 35 and 39
  • Bodies found "intact": 289
  • Body parts found: 19,858
  • Number of families who got no remains: 1,717
  • Estimated units of blood donated to the New York Blood Center:36,000
  • Total units of donated blood actually used: 258
  • Number of people who lost a spouse or partner in the attacks:1,609
  • Estimated number of children who lost a parent: 3,051
  • Percentage of Americans who knew someone hurt or killed in the attacks: 20

Every September since then, I am sick all over again. My mind is consumed, my body mourns, my soul twists in agony. 

This year, though, I had a revelation.

Today is an anniversary marking other things, too. 

So many beautiful things, not just in my life, but in the lives of those around me.

Events that not just underscore, but really define the joy in life itself.  

Today, for example, is my friend Matt's birthday. (HI, MATT!)

Matty is one of my favorite people. (Please, don't tell him though -- we don't need him getting a big head.)

See that gleam in his eye? 

It's pretty much always there, and it's comprised of the stuff that makes me think, inspires me to action and is usually guaranteed to make me snort-laugh in a most unlady-like fashion. 

Matty is my reason number one to reclaim this day.

Enter Mr. and Mrs. Sorgaard.

Twelve years ago today, they were married. 

photo credit: Gabe Haney

Mark is one of my favorite photographers, and I stalk him on Facebook pretty regularly. (HI, MARK!)

Mark's favorite subject, and his greatest muse, is his daughter, Skylar. Take some time to peruse the gallery on his website dedicated to her, and you'll understand why the Sorgaard family is my second reason to reclaim the day.

Finally, there is Mr. Max. 

Maximillian joined his family five years ago today.

The joy he brings his family is radiant and undeniable.

His mama, my friend Trish, (HI, TRISH!) wanted a shot of both of her kids on their first day of school this year, but Max was having none of it. 

He needed to express something else. 

Something that made a statement. 

Something out of the ordinary. 

Something independent, strong and solid. 

I think he accomplished it, and reason three stands before us. 

There they are. 

The first three reasons I'm choosing to redefine September 11 as my day of joy. 

Will I ever forget the lives of those lost? Of those who willingly chose courage, bravery and a sure death so that others may live?

Absolutely not. 

I will, as long as I am on this Earth this time around, think of them not just on September 11, but most days. 

As an American, it's now a part of who I am. 

And it's as an American that I reclaim this day. 

For the people who make me laugh. 

Who inspire me. 

Who make me think. 

Who make me reach.

And for those who make the people I love laugh, feel inspired, think and reach. 

Who make the world a better place by simply being them. 

Matty? Happy birthday, buddy. I still owe you a birthday girly-coffee, but this time I'm bringing the trivia questions. 

Lara and Mark? Here's to numerous decades more, and millions of loving memories.

Trish? Happy Mama birthday, my friend. Your fierce and abiding love for your children makes the world a better place.  

And to you, sitting at your computer, balancing your iPad on your lap, or scrolling away on your smart phone?

Thank you for being you. 

Thank you for being reasons to reclaim and redefine the day. 

Friday, July 20, 2012

Creativity and An Invocation

My house is in ruins.

OK. That's a gross exaggeration.

It's really just the down-down.

(I'd say the "downstairs," but we have a four-level split, which makes the downstairs the garden-level family room. Which makes the basement the down-down. Clear? I thought so.)

It's funny what allowing myself to be creative has awakened in my Spirit.

Firstly, I find myself wanting a nicer space to live. A more loved space. Something deeper than just lived-in. 

Full disclosure: We moved in 10 years ago and haven't done jack-shit to our home, save painting a whopping six walls of color. I bet you didn't know jack-shit was hyphenated, didya?

I found myself looking around at the evidence of being uninspired and happily found I was a bit beyond the apathy of my surroundings. I was apathetic for a long, long time; I assure you. To be on the other side of it was (IS!) like a clean shower and a cool drink of water after bathing in warm, salty sea brine.

The space in which my creativity was rebirthed is our aforementioned down-down: the most rag-tag misuse of space for four counties.

It is here I shall take the next step in the reclamation of myself.

I've heard time and time again the best way to create a room is to choose one piece and build it from there.

Never one to heed any advice wherein being stingy is celebrated, I have chosen three pieces. They were all created by the brilliant, honest and willing, Ze Frank, of A Show. 

The first, The Invocation, was introduced to me via my friend Becky, formerly of high school, now of Denver. (HI, BEC'!)  The Invocation hits me hard. In the solar plexus. And whisks my heart into a can-do frenzy. 

All artwork property of Ze Frank. Don't try to download it and print it out yourself. That would make you a dick.  And not a big dick, either. A tiny, sad little dick. And let's face it: ain't nobody appreciates a little dick. 
To fully experience the Invocation, I invite you to visit Ze's (because we're on a first name basis) channel on the Tube of Yous. It will be the best investment of your time you've banked today. True story. 

The other two pieces are snippets of the Invocation, but cry to be considered on their own. 

Read. Be inspired. Declare your invocation. Amen.

Monday, July 16, 2012

The Day I Stabbed The Ceiling

They say most accidents in the home happen in the bathroom. 

Clearly, whomever "they" may be, they've not visited my home. 

Imagine, if you will (and I think you will), a cool, bright spring evening. 

You've come home from a day of work and would like to start cooking dinner with a clean slate. Those clean dishes must be put away. 

You fire up your redneck sound system. (iPod plugged straight into computer speakers atop a shelving unit) and roll up your sleeves.

Now, you've spent all damned winter waiting to see the sky the color it is today. With the music secure, your next priority quickly becomes letting in as much light as possible. 

You reach across your pile of clean dishes and past the magnetic knife strip and, ignoring the dust along the bottom of the fabric, give the rolling curtain a yank. 

And shank the ever living shit out of the ceiling. 

Tell you what, that ceiling hasn't back-talked me since.

Nope. Not a peep.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Passing On A Belief: Creativity

I don't know if I've ever told you this, but I spent the better part of a decade working in different aspects of advertising, and in each of those jobs, I held jobs that were not considered creative. So much so that at the last one, I would not be invited to meetings, my ideas would be shit on, and I would even be told on a very regular (almost daily) basis that, I was not just "not a creative," but, "Laura, you're not creative."

Don't feel sorry for me because of someone else's words, but instead, kick my ass for believing it.

That's right. I spent ten years believing I am not creative.

I believed it so much it became a part of me. I told myself the same thing, in agreement with the theme, over and over so that it was, indeed, my story.

And then something interesting happened.

I got laid off.

And I started pushing, in tiny ways, my creativity.

I wrote.

I consulted.

I brainstormed.

And people paid me to do it.

"Well, fuck YOU, lady who fed me the non-creative line every damned day of my life," I started to think on a daily basis.

Then I let myself get really mad.

And I stayed mad for a few more years. (You know, 'cause we have nothing but time to fritter away being mad. What can I say? Sometimes, I'm a total dumb-ass.)

Then I noticed that Crystal spends the vast majority of her spare time in creative pursuits (often with amazing outcomes), as do Sarah and Maria. (HI, GIRLS! I LOVE YOU!) (HI, GREENER! I LOVE YOU, TOO ... YOU'RE MY FAVORITE SCIENTIST! EXCEPT FOR MAYBE THAT HOT GUY THAT KNOWS STUFF ABOUT PEOPLE BEING INFESTED WITH BUGS AND SHIT, 'CAUSE HE'S HOT. EVEN IF HE IS CANADIAN.)

Sorry. I don't know why I yelled for so long. I really just wanted the girls' attention. I love them. In fact, I love them like I love mocha cappuccino peanut butter.

OK, so ... the people I spend the majority of time with were expressing themselves in the fresh, fearless ways, and I was fucking playing Tetris.

Yeah. That needed to stop.

So I started blogging here in earnest. (Aside: Just typing his name (I know it's a homophone, calm down) makes my heart squeeze a little, thinking about Mr. Borgnine. I'm gonna miss those crazy-ass eyebrows and public declarations of frequent masturbation.)

But blogging was a little too personal. I wasn't ready to really open 'er up, and at the time, I felt like I needed to. (Lucky for you, I now realize sharing is a choice, not a directive.)

So I got a camera to hide behind.

And 365 was born.

Then I got a job.

And it became more like 195 Snapshots.

Photography is fun, but the process of lighting, aperture, filligree, pedigree and whatever else bedknobs and broomsticks mumbo-jumbo that goes into a great shot proved to be much too tiring to do daily, especially whilst holding down a job I dig. And taking 75 photos in a day and going through those 75 photos is a crevasse I dare not look down while crossing.

Right around this time, Lee started creating wooden frames out of reclaimed wood. They have a palpable honesty to them. They're beautiful. They're artful. And I was inspired.

One day, on the drive home from a visit to Maria's store, Eco Chic, I had a vision. It was a wooden bookmark, wafer thin and engraved with witty sayings, or perhaps just sanded silky-smooth and sealed. Bad Diddy was born. I make reclaimed wood bookmarks. And signs. And I LOVE it. Best of all, I'm not mad any more. I realized that in order to push me into doing something that's really and truly an expression of me, rather than a mere reflection of the world around me, I had to get mad. I had to look it over, turning the mad in my hands, inspecting it from every angle like a Rubiks Cube in order to push myself. 

One night, as I was Dremeling my little heart out and mentally solving the creativity Rubiks Cube, I was working on four specific angles: where it comes from, what turns it up, what shuts it down, what keeps it going.

And I realized that for me, it was about belief. Faith, even.

Faith that I was created to create. And if that was the one abiding tenet, then my marching orders were clear: Wade in, dummy!

I also realized that I never stopped being creative. Every time I've ever been witty, every word I've ever written, any time I've ever handwritten a card in cursive ('cause it's not a waste, CRYSTAL!) or any time I've ever "Weird Al'd" a song ... that was creativity. If we factor in the new and exciting ways to curse, well, hell on a biscuit; we're talking non-stop crea-fuckin'-tivity. 

Which got me to thinking about where and why my beliefs regarding my own innate creativity went askew.

For me, I believe it was a lack of communication along the way. I don't know that among the years of just trying to survive, to make sure everybody made it through the day, not a ton of importance was placed on making things. That's not to say we weren't allowed to create things. We certainly were. If we asked, we were told we could bake, sew, paint and draw to our hearts' contents. My older sister, (HI, BEESWAX STINKO!) danced. I have a very specific memory of Heather, my little sister, (HI, DAHLING!) making all sorts of things with popsicle sticks, glitter and muffin liners. (Kitty party hat, anyone?) I think it wasn't pushed because things like eating, getting to school and being kind to one another were of greater importance in our day-to-day. Of course, it could be that I'm a middle child and need constant reassurance. (This is the part where you feel sorry for my husband, trust me.)

Thinking about my childhood made me think about one of the little girls in my life, our niece Bergen.

She has wonderful parents. Attentive, encouraging, loving. That kid is never going to think she's incapable of doing anything because of those two. It makes me smile just thinking about it.

But what if?

What if, as little girls, we all had a front and center daily reminder that could grow with us as we became women?

And another idea was born.

So with one of my photos of a peony from our backyard, a frame from Lee, and a vinyl print from Shortprinter, I made B. a gallery wrap to hang on her bedroom wall. Something I hope she reads every day of her life. Something I hope she hangs up when she gets her own place, and holds to her heart when someone tries to lie to her face and tell her she is less than. So that she never believes them.