Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Lessons Learned Along the Way


This is the first chapter in a story that my daughter inspired me to write. She always makes me a better person.

Although I am trying hard to be calm, positive, happy and to live in the moment, those old habits hanging onto negative hurts or anger exploded out of my mouth before I'm aware of it happening.

Then I read the response in my daughter's face and know my words have hurt her deeply. Once those simple words are spoken, no amount of apology or since sorry can ever erase what has been said.

My quest for happiness is now tainted with worry. Even worse. I know how hard she has been trying to be kinder than ever before, to be more accepting, and to change her habits too.

If she stops coming up often to spend time with me, I can understand. Although she still answers my texts and remembers to send beautiful cards, I may not be included in her plans the same way.

Lessons learned along the way are hard. And this one is even more so.

Be careful of your words. They are powerful and cannot be forgotten easily. Bring words of understanding, hope, laughter, happiness, support and encouragement. This is my wish for everyone.



Monday, January 15, 2018

VOODOO DRUMS

Voodoo Drums

Who would think that my first Caribbean Cruise would lead to such an uncomfortable, troublesome, adventure.

It started off with all the excitement one might expect from winning a cruise trip for four from the Simmons Beautyrest Mattress company in the mid-70s. To make the trip even more special, we took my dad and step-mother from San Diego.

It was our second port of call, Haiti. My husband just wanted to sit on the beach in the sun. My folks wanted to take a tour of the city and me… anything with horses caught my eye. The cruise line offered a day trip, on horseback through the jungle, up to the Citadel on the top of a mountain overlooking the bay.

I confess, I was very aware of the past horrific acts of the past dictator. It was an uneasy feeling, but the opportunity to ride horseback through the jungle, come on!

The cab, a scheduled hour's ride to the horses, was old and no frills. I shared it with a young couple from the cruise line. Soon we were out of the dirty city and into the country side. Small huts with no doors or windows spotted the landscape. It was uncomfortably hot, no air conditioning here.  Driving the dirt road kicked up dust trails that somehow managed to drift into the cab. All of a sudden, the cab began to buck and sputter... then it stopped dead in the middle of nowhere.

Now, I tell you, it was an uneasy, frightening moment. All kinds of scenarios flashed through my head. None of them had a good ending.

Everyone exited the cab, too hot to stay inside it. While the driver checked under the hood, I looked around expecting to see poverty at its worst. There was a square shaped hut not to far from the road, children were playing and laughing. It looked as though a few woman were taking some kind of fruit from the trees that shaded their home. One had a baby in some sort of sling over her shoulder. Birds were tweeting their song, and even a brief breeze fluttered through. This was not what I thought poverty looked like. (More poverty looks like?)It wasn't long before our driver hailed down a passing cab, and we all squeezed in to complete our ride.

Remember I said horses? When we arrived at the parking lot where we were to start our trek, there stood the scrawniest, boniest, most pathetic creatures that could ever be called a horse- a very small horse at that. The saddle had both a breast collar and a tail piece to hold the saddle on. At each horse's head was a pony boy that would lead the horse. As I got closer, I saw an open sore peeking out from a thin saddle blanket. I refused to get on, telling the pony boy that I would walk. He didn't understand a thing I said. I tried a little Spanish, then a little pantomime. Nope, he just smiled and held the stirrup for me. At this point the head wrangler was getting irritated that I was holding up the trip. He was yelling at me in a language I certainly didn't understand, all the rest of the tour was mounted and ready. So, I mounted the poor horse and off we went into the jungle.

It was cooler as we climbed into the trees on what looked like a dry creek bed. I tried to keep as much weight off the horse and into the stirrups. The smiling face of my pony boy was always there every time I looked at him. Birds were singing, the sound of talking drifted down every now and then. A horse would knicker. A sound of a stone rolling as the hooves  loosened them.

Was that a drum beat? It was getting louder and most definitely it was drums. I caught the eye of my pony boy and pointed into the jungle where the sound of drums seemed to emanate. He nodded and said something I didn't recognize. He said it again slowly and drawn out. VOODOO. My eyebrow flew upward and my lips stretched tight. Voodoo? I questioned. He pointed toward the drumming and smiled his pony boy best.

As I said it was an uncomfortable, troublesome, adventure, and I lived to tell you about it.

What Happened After the Voodoo drums?

Well… nothing. Our horses finally got us to the top. At the Citadel , the tour people had lunch for us and soft drinks that were flown in by helicopter. I loved the tour around the fortress. It's history was intriguing. One lady was sick, and she was flown down to the hospital at Port au Prince. Normal tourist stuff. Then we got back on those poor horses and headed down.  

In the parking lot, as we all were dismounting, a swarm of children surrounded us with their hands out, begging. From out of nowhere came a gang of uniformed military guys with guns, yelling at the children, hitting them with the butt of their guns, pushing them away from us. They were little children. We were quickly escorted into waiting cabs and down the road we went, dirt flying.

I know I told you nothing else happened.
The drums had stopped, and the guns came out. Yes, big rifles.

I was so happy to return to the safety of the Cruise ship and my loved ones.

I AM INVISIBLE

INVISIBLE!

You know that feeling. You call your children and they are too busy to really have a conversation with you. You call your friends to get together, the same thing, too busy, got appointments. At work, your conversation is interrupted because, as you are talking, your boss starts walking away. I hate, hate, hate that words, NO, CAN'T, BUSY.

 Can one really be invisible? It's a valid question. For me, I started feeling invisible when Luc, my little longhaired chihuahua, died. I thought it was grief, and part of it was an overwelming feeling of missing him, of loss, of loneliness. It's when those agoraphobia tendencies started to set in making me a self-made prisoner in my own house.

Let's face it, we talk to ourselves all the time. Some might call it thinking, some might not think they do. We talk all night in our dreams. We talk to ourselves when we are listening to others, driving a car.  We talk to ourselves as we read, immersing ourselves in characters or in understanding fiction or non-fiction plots. Sometimes I'll get so engrossed in my thoughts, that I have to back up the TV show to catch up on the story I am watching.

Now that my family is grown and their families are grown, and I'm long retired from my dream jobs, this feeling of loneliness rears up. Then again, I can be very lonely in a crowded party or event. My charisma takes over, I can be charming! No one there would ever know I felt invisible at that moment.

 I've felt like this for quite awhile. It was worse years ago before I discovered Facebook.  A place for me to be social, I said. Even if I'm stuck in my home, I won't be alone, I said. It's easier to post multiple photos than to send in an email, I said. I can write my blogs (pages), I said. If this is all true, then why am I writing about being invisible, you say? See, you were talking to yourself. Ha.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

I Live with Thieves

Some in this historic Georgetown, where I live, are positive they live with ghosts. Not unusual when houses and buildings were built in the mid 1800s. Me? I live with thieves. When I told my daughter this recently, she gave me the weirdest look. "Have you had a break in, Mom?"

I wasn't sure how to tell her. "I never see them, but I know when they've taken things."

"Mom, don't you keep your doors locked/" I could hear the concern in her voice or was it shock! As my daughter persisted, "Should we change the locks and codes?"

Still thinking, I pause as I wonder how to tell her.

When I worked as a tour guide at the Stanley Hotel, in Estes Park, Colorado, which promotes a ghost riddled hotel, it seemed that every tour, someone would ask me about my sightings of the infamous ghosts. My answer was always, "Even though I personally have never seen any ghosts or unusual sightings, I certainly have had guests tell me numerous stories." I was off the hook!

This, this was different, no easy answer now.

"It is sort of scary." Not usually at a loss of words, I hear my voice shake a little. "It happens when I'm in the house alone." Now she frowns and fold her hands.

Haltingly, I continue, "Sometimes when I'm preparing food, these thieves come when I'm not looking or have just stepped out of the room, and I know because one of my ingredients is gone, off the counter, not anywhere in the kitchen. Thinking, I may have distractedly taken it to the dining room table, I look there. Nope. Then my glasses are gone when I've just put them down."

Poltergiest, I imagine, though they throw things. My inner voice takes over my thoughts. Maybe a impish elf. Prankster. Gives me a start and a slight feeling of fear.

"What else, Mom?" Her voice brings me back to the present. "It is so frustrating. What really bugs me," I look her right in the eye and let her in on this weird phenomena, "Often, I'll go back and there it is, right where I knew it should be. It's like these thieves are laughing at me."

Damn it! She is smiling, stifling a snicker.

"I'm serious!" I hurl back at her. "Lately it's been getting worse." My daughter's face becomes taunt with a serious frown.

Okay, I'm just going to say it. "These thieves are stealing my words and it happened when there are people right there listening. These thieves are following me around now." I look down at my feet. "It is so embarrassing."

Now I watch as she looks around. What? Did she see one of these thieves? Looking around, I see... nothing.

Oh my god, they are stealing my mind!













Thursday, July 28, 2016

On my horse farm, I also had milk goats for awhile. You will laugh because I wasn't raised on a farm, so when we moved to the country to raise animals and live closer to the land, the milk goat got there before the goat shed and milking stanchion were done. We put hay bales in the garage to form a make shift stall and my 3 children, fed the grain and held the "How to Milk a Goat" book. I sat on the ground, listened to the instructions one child read to me, and milked. 

My brother, who also never was raised on a farm, built the goat shed and best of all the goat stanchion to hold the goat while milking. He also built the attached chicken coop. 

Although I don't remember any pesky raccoons there, we did have an occasional skunk, one who squeezed in between the pipes under the sink where our garbage can was. When my six year old son, opened the cabinet door, the shock on his face brought all of us into see what he saw. His older sisters started to scream, I was beside myself trying to quiet them. We saw him leave in an unbelievably small area around the pipe. 

The extension service told us to find the hole around the base of the house where he got under, scatter flour on the ground around the opening, when we saw footprints in the flour leaving, then we should board the hole up. Not easy in Oregon where it rains a lot. Ha. 

Good thing that resulted was the children were very quiet in the house until we solved the entrance problem.

Sent from my iPad

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

The Power of Risks and Chance


I've wanted to write this story for a long time now. So almost 30 years later... Here it is.

As an Incentive Program Manager, for an International Fortune 500 company, my job was not only to arrange all the venue, meeting spaces, transportation, food and logistics, but to find a speaker who could/would relate and motivate a national sales force. The company was experiencing a downturn in sales for the first time and morale was escalating downward too. 

From the Meeting Planners International list of speakers, I listened to a tape from a speaker who talked about a Little League coach whose team was down 0 to 3.  It was the bottom of the 9th inning and this was it. Gathering his young team around him, he looked around at all the defeated faces. He asked them, "Is it possible to win the game?" Everyone one of them shook their heads no. "Do you think any team has won a game being so far down in the bottom of the ninth?" Again, the desolate group, shook their heads no.

Grabbing his laptop, the coach did a quick search, turned the screen around and showed them that not only one but a long list of teams had came back in the bottom of the ninth to win the game no matter how far down they were. He asked them again, "Is it possible?" Their eyes lit up, and with a fire in their belly, the pushed on, determined to win. 

I hired that speaker and he delivered.  The changing energy of this sales force could be felt as the 
speaker continued to talk.

The speaker held up a 1x6 piece of board and started talking about the power of the mind to do seeming impossible acts, like breaking this board in half with only your hand. As he proceeded to ask if a woman would volunteer (there were only two in that group) to break this board. Both woman had taken Karate and that didn't work for him.  

He glanced around the room until his eyes lighted on me, the meeting planner. "Dawn, come on up here and let's do this", he said. Needless to say, I refused, but when the sales force started chanting for me, how could I not do it. By the time I got up to the the front, my knees were shaking. All I could think about was breaking my hand not the board. How I would humiliate myself in front of my group. How could I get out of this. 

The speaker started talking about Mohammed Ali when he would throw a punch, his aim wasn't on 
the face of his opponent for a knockout, but through the face and a few inches behind it. That's what 
made his punches so powerful.